As was expected, President Trump has decertified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal or, to give it its full name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite the fact that he certified it twice before. As recently as 14 September 2017, Trump also waived certain sanctions against Iran as required under the terms of the deal.

Yet, in an extremely belligerent and hostile speech, he put out his new policy towards Iran.

The certification of the deal is not part of the agreement, but as anti-Iranian hawks in both parties wanted to undermine President Barrack Obama and create obstacles on the path of the deal they required the president to recertify every 90 days that Iran was still in compliance with the provisions of the deal. That certification has no international validity.

Trump provided a long list of contentious issues about Iran’s alleged malign influences in the region and her presumed violation of the JCPOA, while totally ignoring America’s long record of unilateral wars and war crimes and initial support for terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and beyond.

By law, Congress has 60 days to reimpose sanctions on Iran, which would violate the provisions of the JCPOA, or leave matters as they are. Given the predominance of hawks in Congress, it is likely that they will follow Trump’s lead and will try to kill the deal.

During the campaign, Trump often criticized the deal as the worst agreement in history and promised that he would tear it up. In his inaugural address to the UN General Assembly, Trump proclaimed that the Iran deal “was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States had ever entered into,” even declaring it “an embarrassment to the United States.” He ominously warned that the world had not “heard the last of it, believe me.”

Now, by decertifying Iran’s compliance with the deal, Trump has lived up to his hyperbolic rhetoric about the agreement that was regarded as one of the most remarkable diplomatic achievements since the end of the Cold War.

He is doing this at a time when his administration is in disarray, when none of his major bills has been ratified by Congress, when the threat of terrorism in the Middle East has not yet ended, when US-supported Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war against Yemen is still continuing killing and wounding scores of people in that poverty-stricken country every day, and above all when Trump’s threat of “fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen” against North Korea has not worked and that dangerous standoff still continues.

In the midst of all this, he has decided to add yet another completely unnecessary conflict to the list and to isolate the United States further in the world.

First of all, it is important to point out that the JCPOA is not a bilateral agreement between Iran and the United States that can be unilaterally abrogated by a U.S. president. It was an agreement reached between Iran and all the five permanent members of the Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) plus Germany.

As the result of that landmark deal, Iran has removed two-thirds of its centrifuges and has stopped building more advanced centrifuges that she had started installing. She has altered its heavy-water nuclear reactor to remove its capacity to produce weapons-grade plutonium, has surrendered 98 percent of its nuclear material, has joined the Additional Protocol, and has submitted to intrusive inspections by the IAEA to verify compliance.

Since the implementation of the agreement, on eight different occasions, the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, has certified Iran’s full compliance with her commitments under the deal. After the so-called sunset clauses expire, Iran as a member of the NPT and the Additional Protocol will continue to remain under IAEA inspection and will be prevented from building a nuclear weapon.

In return for that major compromise in her nuclear program, all nuclear-related sanctions were supposed to be lifted, enabling Iran to have normal economic and banking relations with the rest of the world. This landmark non-proliferation deal was achieved without a shot being fired and without another devastating war in the Middle East.

The fact that Trump has probably not even bothered to read or understand the agreement, which was the result of many years of intense and painstaking discussion and debate by the best experts from seven countries, including the U.S. Energy Secretary who is a nuclear expert, is beside the point. Some of those who surround him and write his speeches, and most notably his mentor, the right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, have told him that it was a bad deal and that is enough for him.

Trump’s decision goes against the other five leading global powers, which according to Wolfgang Ischinger, the former German ambassador to the United States, “will show total disrespect for America’s allies.” (1)

It also goes against the entire EU that sponsored that deal and that has been united in its support for the JCPOA. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini has repeatedly stressed that the deal is delivering and will be implemented as agreed.

Only a day before Trump’s decertification, Ms. Mogherini stressed that the deal was working and the EU would remain faithful to it (2). Trump’s action is also in violation of the U.N. Security Council that unanimously endorsed the deal with Resolution 2231 in 2015.

It is interesting to note that while all European countries and the vast majority of the rest of the world have condemned Trump’s belligerent speech, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been the only two countries that have praised it. Netanyahu congratulated Trump for his “courageous decision”, while Saudi Arabia’s support has been more muted.

When Trump chose Saudi Arabia as the first country to visit after his inauguration to take part in a lavish reception and sign a $400 billion deal on arms and other American goods, and then flew directly to Israel to lavish praise upon Israeli prime minister, it was clear what direction he would take during his presidency.

He has consistently sided with autocrats and regimes that wage wars against their neighbours and has tried to undermine all the democratic achievements of his predecessor.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has put a brave face on Trump’s outburst, saying:

“Today the United States is more than ever isolated in its opposition to the nuclear deal and in its plots against the Iranian people. What was heard today was nothing but the repetition of baseless accusations and swear words that they have repeated for years.”

He said of Trump:

“He has not studied international law. Can a president annul a multilateral international treaty on his own? Apparently, he does not know that this agreement is not a bilateral agreement solely between Iran and the United States.”

However, the speech has definitely strengthened the hardliners in Iran who see Trump’s hostility to Iran as a vindication of their warnings that America could not be trusted. It has also harmed relations between the two countries and has made the Middle East less secure.

As Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the IAEA, has tweeted

“Trump ignoring IAEA inspection findings re Iran’s compliance w/ nuclear deal brings to mind run up to Iraq war. Will we ever learn?”

This is not the first of President Obama’s major achievements that Trump has tried to undermine.

He scrapped the critical health care subsidies to hit Obamacare, while the bill that he sent to Congress was not approved. He has taken America out of the Paris Climate Accord, which is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which 195 members have signed and 168 members have already ratified.

He has taken the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and on 11 October he announced that the US would drop out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The United States and Israel announced that they would withdraw from UNESCO because of its alleged anti-Israeli bias.

Domestically, Trump has fallen out with American intelligence, comparing them to the Nazis. He has attacked most of the media as “being the greatest enemy of the people” and producing fake news.

He has attacked “the so-called judges” for trying to block his unconstitutional executive order banning Muslim refugees or immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

However, we should not lump Trump’s latest decision on Iran with all his other wild policies at home and abroad, because by decertifying the nuclear deal Trump is posing a major threat to international peace and security and violating a Security Council resolution.

There are many people, including many Iranians, who wish to see a change in Iranian policies, especially in its poor human rights record. However, the only meaningful change in Iran will be one brought about by Iranians themselves, not imposed from outside by those with malign intentions and on the basis of concocted excuses.

Nobody wants to see a repetition of US policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria that have resulted in horrendous bloodshed and have given rise to the terrorist scourge and the refugee problem in Europe.

It is interesting to note that the United States has kept itself immune from the outcome of her violent policies by banning any immigrants from the Middle East, while Europe and the countries in the Middle East have had to bear the brunt of the problem.

The renegotiation of the Iran deal is only a ruse by those who wish to pave the way for war with Iran.

Iranian officials have repeatedly stressed that while they are ready to discuss other issues with the international community, the nuclear deal will not be renegotiated. President Rouhani told NBC News in September: “Every word was analyzed many times by countries involved before its ratification, so if the United States were to not adhere to the commitments and trample upon this agreement, this will mean that it will carry with it the lack of subsequent trust from countries towards the United States.”

There is no doubt that Trump’s new policy towards Iran bears the hallmark of Netanyahu and his supporters in the White House who write Trump’s speeches for him.

There are three main issues at stake.

The first question is whether U.S. politicians are finally prepared to overcome their 40-year hostility towards Iran and resolve their differences through negotiations, as was done with the Iran deal, or whether they persevere with the dream of toppling the Iranian government by violent means.

The second is whether European countries and the rest of the world allow themselves to be held hostage to U.S. and Israeli policies or will they stand up to Trump and safeguard their national interests.

The third and a more fundamental point is whether – for the sake of appeasing Israel’s ultra-rightwing prime minister and his U.S. supporters – they are prepared to drag the Middle East through another devastating war and perhaps start a global conflict, or whether the time has finally come to tell Israel to resolve the Palestinian issue and put an end to this long-simmering conflict, which is at the root of all the other conflicts in the Middle East.

Let us not make a mistake, war is the inevitable logic of Trump’s and Israeli policies, and they will be solely responsible if another conflict breaks out in the Middle East.

Farhang Jahanpour is a British national of Iranian origin. He was a former Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Languages at the University of Isfahan. He spent a year as a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar at Harvard and also taught five years at the University of Cambridge. He has been a part-time tutor at the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College at the University of Oxford since 1985, teaching courses on Middle East history and politics. Jahanpour is a TFF board member.

Notes

1- Roger Cohen, “Trump’s Iran Derangement” New York Times, Oct 11, 2017.

2- Mogherini’s interview with PBS, “Iran deal will remain valid regardless of U.S. decision”

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The United States is going to stay in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal despite President Donald Trump’s move not to recertify it, says US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, asserting that Iran is not in breach of the agreement.

“I think right now you are going to see us stay in the deal,” Haley told NBC News on Sunday, two days after Trump’s refusal to certify Tehran’s commitment to the landmark agreement between Iran and six world powers— the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

“Right now, we’re in the deal to see how we can make it better and that’s the goal,” Haley said, claiming the US was trying to help American people “feel safer.”

Under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to limit parts of its peaceful nuclear program in exchange for removal all nuclear-related sanctions against the country.

While then-President Barack Obama hailed the deal as one of his greatest achievements, Trump has blasted the JCPOA as “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

The Republican president has been desperately trying to undo the agreement, which prevents him from adopting harsher policies against the Islamic Republic.

In his speech on Friday, Trump accused Iran of committing “multiple violations of the agreement,” a claim repeatedly rebuked by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), America’s European allies and even officials within his own administration.

The billionaire-turned-politician added that he would no longer make regular certifications that the lifting of sanctions under the deal had been in US interests.

Iran ‘partially’ committed

In a separate interview with ABC News, the UN ambassador was struggled to give a clear response when asked whether “decertifying” meant Iran was in breach of the JCPOA.

“We are not saying they are in breach of the agreement,” she said. “No they are doing exactly what they claim to do.”

“No, decertifying implies that all of those other things that are in the UN resolution are not happening, “Those are total violations,” Haley said, referring to the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed the deal. She did not clarify what parts of the resolution had been violated.

The Trump administration says Iran’s development of ballistic missiles for defensive purposes and its support for “terrorist groups” amount to violations of the nuclear deal.

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Late on October 15, Iraqi government forces launched a military operation to take back the area of Kirkuk from the Peshmerga, the military force of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

According to Iraqi sources, the 9th Armoured Division, the Federal Police and Iraqi Special Operations Forces, widely known as the Golden Division, entered Kirkuk city, K1 Airbase and the Khaled military camp as well as some oil fields in the city’s countryside.

The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) released a statement saying that the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are involved in the operation. The KRSC also claimed that the Peshmerga destroyed at least 5 Humvees belonging to the PMU.

On October 16, Lieutenant Colonel Salah el-Kinani, of the 9th Armoured Division, told Reuters that the objective of the army advance is to take control of the K1 Airbase.

Pro-Kurdish sources denied any gains by the government forces.

Earlier, the KRG-linked media claimed that PMU units deployed near Kirkuk are embedded with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Last Friday, the US designated the IRGC a terrorist group. So, KRG authorities may seek to gain more support from the US with these claims.

Formally, the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk and its oil-rich countryside are not a part of the Kurdish autonomous region. However, KRG forces seized it in 2014 when Iraqi forces were facing setbacks in the war again ISIS. Now, the KRG clearly aims to include the area in a Kurdish state that it is seeking to proclaim using the September 25 independence referendum as a pretext.

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Trump hates the international nuclear deal with Iran.  The agreement put temporary restriction of Iran’s nuclear program and opened it up to deeper inspections. The other sides of the deal committed to lifting sanctions and to further economic cooperation. Trump wants to get rid of the deal; but he is unwilling to pay the political price.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was negotiated and signed by the five permanent UN Security Council members (U.S., Ch, Ru, UK, F), Germany, the EU and Iran. If the U.S. defaults on the deal it will be in a lone position. The diplomatic isolation would limit its abilities to use its influence on other issues.

Trump has little knowledge of Iran, the nuclear deal, the Middle East or anything else. What he knows comes from Fox News and from Netanyahoo and other Zionist whisperers who get to his ear. All he heard is that the deal with Iran is bad. Therefore, he concluded, it must end.

The White House handed a paper to the media which is supposed to describe President Donald J. Trump’s New Strategy on Iran. But there is no strategy in that paper. It list a number of aims the Trump wants to achieve. But it does no explain how he plans to do that. It is a wish list, not a program to follow.

The “Core Elements of the Presidents New Iran Strategy” are:

  • The United States new Iran strategy focuses on neutralizing the Government of Irans destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants.
  • We will revitalize our traditional alliances and regional partnerships as bulwarks against Iranian subversion and restore a more stable balance of power in the region.
  • We will work to deny the Iranian regime and especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) funding for its malign activities, and oppose IRGC activities that extort the wealth of the Iranian people.
  • We will counter threats to the United States and our allies from ballistic missiles and other asymmetric weapons.
  • We will rally the international community to condemn the IRGCs gross violations of human rights and its unjust detention of American citizens and other foreigners on specious charges.
  • Most importantly, we will deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.

The list is full of factual mistakes:

  • Iran stabilized Iraq when the Islamic State was only days away from taking over Baghdad. Iran also helps to stabilize Syria and to defeat the Islamic State.
  • Ballistic missiles are not “asymmetric weapons”. Iran’s neighbors Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have such missiles. Iran’s missiles are no threat to the United States.
  • The IRGC is the equivalent of the U.S. special forces. It is funded by the state. It does not “extort the wealth of the Iranian people”. (The IRGC’s pension funds (bonyads) hold significant industrial assets. But they are different entities.)
  • The IRGC does not detain American citizens.
  • Iran has repeatedly declared that it rejects all nuclear weapons out of religious reasons. It signed several international agreements which prohibit and prevent it from seeking such weapons.

The White House list of aims, “the strategy”, is followed by “background” information on Iran and its alleged behavior.  Some White House intern must have copied it from a neoconservative version of Wikipedia. It is a conglomeration of general talking points which lack a factual basis.

When the JCOPA deal was closed, Congress legislated that the White House must certify every 90 days that Iran sticks to the deal. Trump will now stop to certify Iran’s compliance even as everyone, including the White House, acknowledges that Iran is fulfilling all its parts. The White House claims that non-certification is not a breach of the agreement. The issue now falls back to Congress which might re-introduce the sanctions on Iran which the agreement had lifted. If it does that Trump will say that it is responsible for all consequences.

It is not clear if or what Congress will do. Senators Corker and Cotton are pushing for legislation that amounts to an unilateral change of the nuclear deal. It would introduce new sanctions if Iran does not accept their demands. Trump seems to support that.

But it is not going to work. It is an unilateral breach of the contract and no other country involved in deal will support it. Trump may introduce new economic sanctions on Iran but why would Iran care? Unless all other countries follow Trump’s lead, it can simply buy and sell elsewhere.

The EU countries were again craven and offered to push against Iran’s ballistic missiles if Trump does not completely break the JCPOA deal. This was utterly stupid negotiation behavior. Why offer concessions to Trump even before he makes a self defeating move? Still – they will not support breaking the deal.

Iran will not give up to its rights and it will not disarm. Obama pushed sanctions onto sanctions to make Iran scream. But the country did not fold. Each new U.S. sanction step was responded to with an expansion of Iran’s nuclear program. In the end Obama had to offer talks to Iran to get out of the hole he had dug himself.

Now Trump is saying that stopping Iran from getting nukes is the priority. And that Obama was wrong to focus on it. The result is a bungled policy which will have either catastrophic, or no consequences at all.

Featured image is from Raialyoum.

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Selected Articles: Trump’s Belligerence Could Lead to Nuclear War

October 16th, 2017 by Global Research News

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The Dangers of Nuclear Radiation: We Need to Expand the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty (NWBT) to A Comprehensive Nuclear Ban Treaty (NBT)

By Eiichiro Ochiai, October 16, 2017

The US government secretly established “Manhattan project”, and the scientists and the corporations involved managed to make three pieces of such weapon, i.e., atomic bombs before the end of the World War II. One was used to test its effectiveness in New Mexico, and the remaining two were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The results were devastating, killing hundreds of thousands instantly and flattening the entire cities.

Trump’s Iran Deal

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, October 16, 2017

Bad deals. Very bad – unless, of course, they are minted in the United States, with Make America Great Again credentials. Hardly the stuff of presidential clout and oratorical flair, but the US president is making good his word to rain on the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with an overbearing enthusiasm.

America had first Contemplated Nuclear War against both China and North Korea in 1950

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 16, 2017

It is important to stress that US military action directed against the DPRK was part of a broader Cold War military agenda against the PRC and the Soviet Union, the objective of which was ultimately to undermine and destroy socialism.  As early as 1945, “the Pentagon had speculated that it would take a few hundred atomic bombs to subdue Russia”.

Is Trump’s “Friend” Kissinger Steering Him from Calm to Storm?

By Whitney Webb, October 15, 2017

Henry Kissinger, seemingly returned from oblivion, has been in the ear of “old friend” Trump since mid-primary season, just after Trump declared himself open to negotiation with North Korea. Since that moment, Trump’s stance and rhetoric have veered inexorably toward war.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Warned that Trump Threats Would Backfire

By Dania Akkad, October 15, 2017

Iran has been accused of violating if not the actual terms of the deal then the spirit of the agreement, by supporting militant groups in the region and developing long-range missile technology.

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A petition on the government’s official page about holding a SECOND BREXIT REFERENDUM  about the terms of the final deal with the European Union has reached 100,000 signatures – this means that the government is obliged to debate discuss it in parliament.

The session will be held on 11th December 2017.

The original petition was set up with the following details:

We, the undersigned, call upon HM Government to give the people of this country the final say on the Brexit deal negotiated by the UK and EU. This would be done through a referendum that would take place prior to the April 2019 exit date.

The referendum would allow for three options:

(1) To revoke Article 50, thereby keeping Britain in the EU
(2) To reject the UK-EU deal and leave the EU
(3) To accept the UK-EU deal and leave the EU

If no agreement has been negotiated by the UK and EU before the date of the referendum, then the third option could be removed. If all three options remain, it may be necessary for the vote to take place using a Single Transferable Vote to ensure no option is disadvantaged.

Regardless of whether individuals voted to remain or leave the EU in the June 2016 EU referendum, everyone should have a chance to decide their future based on the final agreement negotiated between the UK and EU.

Although the government’s response makes it clear that they are committed to not offering a second referendum, they are now legally obliged to discuss it.

On 23 June 2016 the British people voted to leave the European Union. The UK Government is clear that it is now its duty to implement the will of the people and so there will be no second referendum.

The decision to hold the referendum was supported by a clear majority in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. On 23 June 2016 the British people voted to leave the European Union. The referendum was the largest democratic mandate in UK political history. In the 2017 General Election more than 85% of people voted for parties committed to respecting that result.

There must be no attempts to remain inside the European Union, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door, and no second referendum. The country voted to leave the European Union, and it is the duty of the Government to make sure we do just that. Rather than second guess the British people’s decision to leave the European Union, the challenge now is to make a success of it – not just for those who voted leave but for every citizen of the United Kingdom, bringing together everyone in a balanced approach which respects the decision to leave the political structure of the EU but builds a strong relationship between Britain and the EU as neighbours, allies and partners.

Parliament passed an Act of Parliament with a clear majority giving the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50, which she did on 29 March in a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. As a matter of firm policy, our notification will not be withdrawn – for the simple reason that people voted to leave, and the Government is determined to see through that instruction.

Both Houses of Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the final agreement reached with the EU before it is concluded. This will be a meaningful vote which will give MPs the choice to either accept the final agreement or leave the EU with no agreement.

The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe. We want a deep and special partnership with the EU. We aim to get the right deal abroad and the right deal for people here at home. We will deliver a country that is stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before.

Department for Exiting the European Union

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Organized Chaos and Confusion as Political Control

October 16th, 2017 by Edward Curtin

“There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear.” – Buffalo Springfield 1967

It’s not supposed to be clear, now or then. If you’re confused by the news you’re hearing, you should be. They want you to be. They try to make you be. But you don’t have to be.

Who are “they”? They are the corporate mainstream media (MSM) that serve as mouthpieces for the power elites, who are connected through an intricate system of institutions and associations, both obvious and shadowy. They run the show that the media produce for the masses. To paraphrase the illustrious American propagandist, Edward Bernays: This is the engineering of the consent of the ignorant herd by the intelligent few.

That this has been going on for a long time should be obvious. That such propaganda is surround-sound today is a fact. It is total and non-stop. Even its critics are often seduced as they are horrified.

But I utter the obvious to explore the obscure. In particular, the ways the elites try to manage the public mind by confusing contradictions, half-truths, multiple and conflicting narratives, and revelations proffered to conceal more fundamental facts.

The basic way people’s thinking is controlled today is by confusing them and creating a perpetual state of mental vertigo. Muddled and disordered by double-speak, illogical reporting, and a kaleidoscopic merry-go-round of conflicting reports, the average person is reduced to a mental mess.

“To the average man who tries to keep informed,” writes Jacques Ellul in Propaganda, “a world emerges that is astonishingly incoherent, absurd, and irrational, which changes rapidly and constantly for reasons he can’t understand.”

Take Donald Trump. He is regularly castigated by the media for his endless stream of tweets and contradictory statements. He is called a moron, mentally imbalanced, and a clown. But what these critics fail to grasp is that he is beating them at their own game of sowing confusion. He is our modern mythic Johnny Appleseed, wildly spewing seeds of bedlam to incite and confound. He is no anomaly. He has stepped out of our celebrity reality-TV screened world to carry on the media’s task of what Orwell said was a necessary task for the rulers in a totalitarian society: “to dislocate the sense of reality.”

The mainstream media do this daily. Think of their reporting of some recent news and ask yourself what exactly have they said – Russia-gate, the Iran agreement, the Las Vegas massacre, Catalonia, health insurance, etc. Gibberish piled upon gibberish, that’s what they’ve said. A salmagundi of contradictory verbiage that leaves a half-way sentient person shaking one’s head in astonishment. Or leaves one baffled, devoid of any sense of the truth.

While the gross Harvey Weinstein, buddy to Democrat politicians who took large sums from his deep pockets, dominates the MSM’s spotlight, as if his exploits suddenly appeared out of nowhere, the U.S. war against Syria and so many other countries “isn’t happening,” as Harold Pinter put it in his Nobel acceptance speech when he said the systematic crimes of the United States have been disappeared behind “a highly successful act of hypnosis.” The nuclear threats to Russia and China aren’t happening. It doesn’t matter right now anyway. We might get back to that next week or next month, if we are finished with Weinstein by then or if Stephen Paddock’s autopsy report isn’t back from Stanford where they are studying his brain tissue to find the cause and manner of his death – you know what deep secrets brain tissue can reveal. And yes, we will be exploring a question a brilliant reporter asked the Las Vegas authorities:

“Do you think Paddock did it because he could?”

In 2003 the Bush administration blatantly lied about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction in order to wage a barbaric and criminal war against Iraq. Then Obama glided in on the giddy fantasies of liberals, the same people who supported Clinton’s savaging of Serbia in 1999. He smiled and smiled and spoke articulately about the need for war, drone assassinations, the bailing out of Wall Street and the big banks, the need to confront Russia over his own administration’s engineered Ukrainian coup, and a crackdown on whistleblowers. For decades the media echoed the blatant deceptions of these men. From slick to obvious to slick went the propaganda. And then the shock and awe of Mr. Trump’s election. How to deal with one of their own, one spawned from the entertainment-media-news complex? Trump accused them of creating fake news. He relentlessly attacked them, as if to say: you hypocrites; you accuse me of what you do. Then he continued to tweet out his messages meant to confuse and inflame. He continued to make statements that were then contradicted. What were the poor media to do except one-up him. This they have done.

We have now entered a new phase of propaganda where sowing mass confusion on every issue 24/7 is the method of choice.

But therein lies hope if we can grasp the meaning of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxical statement:

“When both a speaker and an audience are confused, the speech is profound.”

Featured image is from Media Lens.

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Trump’s Iran Deal

October 16th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Bad deals. Very bad – unless, of course, they are minted in the United States, with Make America Great Again credentials. Hardly the stuff of presidential clout and oratorical flair, but the US president is making good his word to rain on the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with an overbearing enthusiasm.

In doing so, the JCPOA joins a growing cupboard of potentially obsolete and endangered agreements of varying benefit and quality, be it the Paris climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, or the North American Free Trade Agreement. Nationalists, populists, and activists of all creeds are floundering to find meaning in such gestures.

The Friday speech was filled with customary Trumpist goodies, including the ultimate point that certification of Iranian compliance and general all round good behaviour would not be forthcoming. Instead, President Donald Trump gave a speech shot through with rhetorical punches, ignoring such positions as that taken by Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic agency. Iran, claimed Amano, actually had one of the world’s “most robust nuclear verification regime.”[1]

Central to the Trump barrage were various claims. Among them was the padding of the al-Qaeda link, suggesting that Iran had its share of blame for the September 11, 2001 attacks, irrespective of what ideological underpinnings and differences might have existed.

“The regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and provides assistance to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist networks.”

All of these show neat compression, with political interests and differences avoided before the all driving monolithic force of Teheran, the designated supreme bogeyman in regional Middle Eastern politics.

The Trump speech was also insistent that softening the moves on Iran had been a mistake. The regime, he insisted, was starving of oxygen when President Barack Obama went soft. (It was not, but that hardly ruffles feathers in Trumpland.)

“The previous administration lifted these sanctions, just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime, through the deeply controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.”

Figures receive their fictive gloss; amounts are given a curious dressing. The deal, argues Trump, saw a “massive cash settlement of $1.7 billion from the United States, a large portion of which was physically loaded onto an airplane and flown into Iran.” Other monies also supposedly fell into Iranian coffers: the “immediate financial boost and over $100 billion its government could use to fund terrorism.”

Considering that much of this involved simply thawing and ultimately releasing Iranian assets frozen by the US to begin with, the point is a moot one. The fact-checking wizards have also made the point that the $1.7 billion cash claim involved a decades old claim between Washington and Teheran that was ultimately settled.[2]

The tables are being turned from the Iranian capital. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif argued that the speech itself violated the agreement, in spirit if not the letter. If there was a breaker of rules and engagements, it was the US, lauding over what had been agonising negotiations.

“I have,” claimed Zarif, “already written nine letters (to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini) listing the cases where the United States has failed to act on or delayed in its commitments under the JCPOA.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani retorted that Trump’s views were formed on “baseless accusations and swear words.” New sanctions directed at Teheran’s missile programme were also deemed unconscionable. “Our achievements in the field of ballistics,” claimed a disapproving Zarif, “are in no way negotiable.”

Other powers are left in a bind. With decertification happening from Washington, what are allies and other negotiating partners to do? The UK’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was bound to be unpredictable, but insisted that his country needed “to keep that deal going – it’s been a great success for UK diplomacy.” Whatever Trump’s ramblings, the deal lived “to fight another day, and that’s a good thing.”[3]

In the final analysis, it may well turn out that Trump is simply firing the first blows against an arrangement that ultimately conceals legitimate Iranian ambitions to acquire a nuclear option. In the current climate, where North Korea is rubbing US noses in the dirt of desperation with each ballistic missile test and defiant nuclear run, officials might be biding their time.

Trump, interestingly enough, seems to want it, to push the incentive rather than drive any disincentive.

“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”

No surprise, then, on Trump’s reference in the speech about an alleged, if unsubstantiated claim of collusion between the DPRK and Iran.

“There are also many people who believe that Iran is dealing with North Korea.”

Belief, for some, is truly all that matters.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

Notes

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In 1950, Chinese volunteer forces dispatched by the People’s Republic of China were firmly behind North Korea against US aggression.

China’s act of solidarity with The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was carried out barely a few months after the founding of the PRC on October 1, 1949. 

Truman had contemplated the use of nuclear weapons against both China and North Korea, specifically as a means to repeal the Chinese Volunteer People’s Army (VPA) which had been dispatched to fight alongside North Korean forces. [Chinese Volunteer People’s Army, 中國人民志願軍;  Zhōngguó Rénmín Zhìyuàn Jūn].

VPA Poster, 1950

It is important to stress that US military action directed against the DPRK was part of a broader Cold War military agenda against the PRC and the Soviet Union, the objective of which was ultimately to undermine and destroy socialism.  As early as 1945, “the Pentagon had speculated that it would take a few hundred atomic bombs to subdue Russia”.

Who is the aggressor: Confirmed by US military documents, both the PRC and the DPRK have been threatened with nuclear war for sixty-seven years. 

The Soviet Union had tested it’s first atomic bomb on August 29, 1949. According to analysts, the Soviet atomic bomb was instrumental in the Truman administration’s decision to eventually stall US nuclear war preparations against North Korea and China. The project  was scrapped in June 1951.

In March 1949, President Truman approved National Security Council Memorandum 8/2, which identified the entire Korean peninsula “as an area where the principles of democracy were being matched against those of Communism.” (see P. K. Rose, Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950, Perceptions and Reality, CIA Library, Apr 14, 2007.

The NSC Memorandum 8/2 paved the way for the June 1949 guerrilla attacks on the DPRK:

“Inquiry uncovers secret of series of attacks by South on North. South Korean troops attacked the North a year before the Korean war broke out, researchers have claimed in the latest disturbing revelation about the conflict which almost led to global war. More than 250 guerrillas from the South are said to have launched an attack on North Korean villages along the east coast in June 1949. The incident has been confirmed by a South Korean army official.  (John Gittings, Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 17 January 2000)

Washington’s objective was to extend it’s geopolitical zone of influence over the entire Korean Nation, with a view to taking over all the Korean colonial territories which had been annexed to the Japanese Empire in 1910. The Korean war was also directed against the People’s Republic of China as confirmed by president Truman’s November 1950 statements (see transcript below), which intimated in no uncertain terms that the atomic bomb was intended to be used against the People’s Republic of China.

According to military analyst Carl A, Posey in Air and Space Magazine:

In late November [1950], communist China began to turn over its cards. It had already covertly sent troops into North Korea. …

With the Chinese intervention, the United States confronted a hard truth: Threatening a nuclear attack would not be enough to win the war. It was as if the Chinese hadn’t noticed—or, worse, weren’t impressed by—the atomic-capable B-29s waiting at Guam.

President Truman raised the ante. At a November press conference [1950], he told reporters he would take whatever steps were necessary to win in Korea, including the use of nuclear weapons. Those weapons, he added, would be controlled by military commanders in the field.

In April of the next year, Truman put the finishing touches on Korea’s nuclear war. He allowed nine nuclear bombs with fissile cores to be transferred into Air Force custody and transported to Okinawa. Truman also authorized another deployment of atomic-capable B-29s to Okinawa. Strategic Air Command set up a command-and-control team in Tokyo.

This spate of atomic diplomacy coincided with the end of the role played by Douglas MacArthur. … Truman replaced him with General Matthew Ridgway, who was given “qualified authority” to use the bombs if he felt he had to.

In October, there would be an epilogue of sorts to the Korean nuclear war. Operation Hudson Harbor would conduct several mock atomic bombing runs with dummy or conventional bombs across the war zone. Called “terrifying” by some historians, Hudson Harbor merely tested the complex nuclear-strike machinery, as the Strategic Air Command had been doing for years over American cities.

But the nuclear Korean war had already ended. In June 1951, the atomic-capable B-29s flew home, carrying their special weapons with them.  (emphasis added)

Truman’s decision to contemplate the use of nuclear weapons is confirmed in Truman’s historic November 30, 1950 Press Conference 

(Excerpts below, click to access complete transcript)

THE PRESIDENT. We will take whatever steps are necessary to meet the military situation, just as we always have.

[12.] Q. Will that include the atomic bomb ?

THE PRESIDENT, That includes every weapon that we have.

Q. Mr. President, you said “every weapon that we have.” Does that mean that there is active consideration of the use of the atomic bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. There has always been active consideration of its use. I don’t want to see it used. It is a terrible weapon, and it should not be used on innocent men, women, and children who have nothing whatever to do with this military aggression. That happens when it is used.3

3Later the same day the White House issued the following press release:

“The President wants to make it certain that there is no misinterpretation of his answers m questions at his press conference today about the use of the atom bomb. Naturally, there has been consideration of this subject since the outbreak of the hostilities in Korea, just as there is consideration of the use of all military weapons whenever our forces are in combat.

“Consideration of the use of any weapon is always implicit in the very possession of that weapon.

“However, it should be emphasized, that, by law, only the President can authorize the use of the atom bomb, and no such authorization has been given. If and when such authorization should be given, the military commander in the field would have charge of the tactical delivery of the weapon.

“In brief, the replies to the questions at today’s press conference do not represent any change in this situation.”

Q. Mr. President, I wonder if we could retrace that reference to the atom bomb? Did we understand you clearly that the use of the atomic bomb is under active consideration?

THE PRESIDENT. Always has been. It is one of our weapons.

Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, use against military objectives, or civilian–

THE PRESIDENT. It’s a matter that the military people will have to decide.  I’m not a military authority that passes on those things. [refutes his earlier statement on not using it “against civilians”]

Q. Mr. President, perhaps it would be better if we are allowed to quote your remarks on that directly?

THE PRESIDENT. I don’t think–I don’t think that is necessary.

Q. Mr. President, you said this depends on United Nations action. Does that mean that we wouldn’t use the atomic bomb except on a United Nations authorization ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it doesn’t mean that at all. The action against Communist China depends on the action of the United Nations. The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has. [intimates that the use of atomic bomb is “against Communist China”]

[15.] Q. Mr. President, how dose are we to all-out mobilization.

THE PRESIDENT. Depends on how this matter we are faced with now works out.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, will the United Nations decide whether the Manchurian border is crossed, either with bombing planes or–

THE PRESIDENT. The resolution that is now pending before the United Nations will answer that question.

Q. Or with troops?  … (emphasis added

Mutually Assured Destruction

The doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) evolved in the wake of the launching of the Soviet atom bomb in August 1949. Prior to that, the US resolve was to use nukes on a first strike basis against the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

However, at the outset of the Korean war in 1950, confirmed by Truman’s statements, no clearcut distinction was made between a nuclear weapon and a conventional weapon. The Truman administration’s nuclear doctrine consisted in using nuclear weapons within the framework of a conventional war theater.

The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) which characterized the Cold War was based on the recognition that the use of nuclear weapons “by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender”.

China was first threatened by the US with nuclear war in 1950, a year after the inauguration of the People’s Republic of China.  Some 14 years later in October 1964, China tested its first 16-ton nuclear bomb.

Pre-emptive Nuclear War (2002-  )

An important transition in nuclear doctrine occurred in the immediate wake of 9/11. The Cold War MAD doctrine was scrapped by the Bush Jr administration in 2002, replaced by the first strike pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons as a means of self defense. (2001 Nuclear Posture Review, adopted by the US Senate in 2002).

image source: The New Republic

America’s use of nuclear weapons on a first strike basis is no longer considered as a weapon of total annihilation. Quite the opposite, the preemptive use of nuclear weapons is upheld  as a means to ensuring global peace and security.

This is the doctrine which prevails today under Donald Trump’s “fire and fury”, comparable in some regards to  Truman’s diabolical 1950 narrative pertaining to the use of the atomic bomb (“as a means of self defense”) against China and North Korea, both of which at the time were non nuclear states.

In contrast to the Truman era, however, today’s US thermonuclear bombs are several hundred times more powerful (in terms of yield) than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, which resulted in the death of some 100,000 people in a matter of seven seconds.

Screenshot Popular Mechanics, October 10, 2016

And there are more than 4000 US nuclear weapons deployed.

“Making America Great again”…

Blowing up the Planet” on a first strike basis as a instrument of peace and global security.

Where is the antiwar movement?

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Sociedade polarizada pega-se em ódio, alimentado também pela mídia em geral; Luiz Inácio tenta, prcariamente, retomar aspecto de “esquerda” enquanto, nos bastidores da politicagem mais baixa, alia-se a velhos algozes.  Alguém já viu chihahuas e iorque-cháiars perdidos pelas vias públicas, lambendo as botas de quem os chuta? Não, porque só os vira-latas fazem isso – e a “esquerda” brasileira esclerosada, esquecendo-se na prática de sua retórica do “mais fino pedigrí”. Novo autogolpe do PT prenuncia naufrágio ainda mais profundo da frágil democracia no país do vira-latismo mais gritante onde “todo mundo faz” – e pior, espera-se que todos se conformem e até apoiem esta velha jogatina canalha.

Enquanto a sociedade brasileira literalmente se pega, fortemente polarizada cujo “racha” é intensificado pela “esquerda” que embarca, oportunisticamente, no maniquesísta discurso “ou estão ao nosso lado, ou estão contra nós”, eis que não a mídia “alternativa”, mas a grande mídia noticiou no último dia 8 que o Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) pretende abrir mão do lançamento de candidatos próprios a governador em até 16 estados nas eleições de outubro do ano que vem, para apoiar inclusive partidos como PMDB, PTB e PSB, que atuaram para derrubar a ex-presidente Dilma Rousseff no golpe jurídico-parlamentar-midiático-empresarial do ano passado.

Tudo isso em nome da “luta contra a ofensiva da direita”, e para que o “gênio político”, Luiz Inácio, tenha espaço em palanques regionais. Que maravilha! Afinal, todo mundo faz, não é mesmo? Além do mais, a estrutura social, política e econômica brasleira – os críticos incautos não entendem nada disso, são ingênuos ou oportunistas! – não permite decência na política, enfim, é assim mesmo no Brasil! E ainda: como o dito-cujo é nordestino, origináro da roça, torneiro mecânico aposentado, sem estudo (apesar de todas as oportunidades e tempo livre que teve ao longo das muitas décadas, e ainda tem), seu partido ostenta “trabalhadores” no nome cuja bandeira é vermelha, não deve se tratar, aqui, de politicagem mais baixa como quando a oposição está em questão nas análises, é claro: preconceito ao revés? Pois é!

Este primeiro malabarismo do “esquerdista” arrependido de hoje que, na Presidência, arrancava aplausos e gargalhadas de auditório oligárquico ao achincalhar mentalidades exatamente de esquerda, qualificando-as de enfermas, vem confirmar as impressões expostas há alguns meses nesta página: O PT hoje recusa autocrítica, como sempre fez, mais que por mentalidade rasa: o autogolpe impossibilita encontro com a consciência; e mais: o caminho deve permanecer livre para as jogatinas políticas, que seriam inviabilizadas exatamente com a autocrítica que a presidente do partido, Gleise Hoffmann, rejeitou logo que assumiu a direção do PT em junho deste ano, alegando que “forneceriam armas ao inimigo”. Nada mais maquiavélico, e aí estáo as evidências, semana a semana, de que nada mudou no neo-oligárquico PT cujo único “projeto” é angariar votos e retomar o poder – entre o povo, que se peguem em nome de “esquerda”-direita! Direita sem aspas, aliás para quem ainda não entendeu, pois esta, com toda a sua baixeza moral e intelectual, consegue ser bem menos indecente com os seus…

A justificativa de que alianças indecentes são fundamentalmente necessárias por “não haver outro jeito no Brasil”, são o ápice do denominado vira-latismo ao assumr que o Brasil é “assim mesmo”, irremediavelmente corrupto legitimando o “todo mundo faz”. Alguém já viu chihahuas e iorque-cháiars, perdidos pelas vias públicas, lambendo as botas de quem os chuta? Não, porque só os vira-latas fazem isso – e a “esquerda” brasileira esclerosada, esquecendo-se na prática de sua retórica do “mais fino pedigrí”. E este cenário sombrio, que sempre esteve na cara que nunca mudaria envolvendo tal setor, evidencia também que a defesa disso tudo tem sido a uma pessoa, jamais a ideias e projetos (= personalismo).

Outro argumento em defesa desta politicagem de praxe do PT, embarca no mito democrático criado no Brasil valendo inclusive o patético titulo de “gênio político” a Luiz Inácio por parte de militantes, e “jornalistas” simpatizantes a este partido de centro-direita que engana cada vez menos gente: democracia não é isso, “negociar” com o que existe de pior na política, cedendo a suas promessas eleitoreiras traindo, assim, seu eleitorado; democracia nada mais é que o sistema da participação popular e da criação de direitos. Neste caso específico, o que o neo-oligárquico PT menos faz, é dar ouvidos ao que pensa e deseja a sociedade para a vida política de seu país. Portanto, em uma democracia autêntica inclusive alianças políticas devem encontrar limites,com base na coerência e na decência.

Posto isso, trata-se no mínimo de muito cinismo alegar que as únicas culpadas pela falta de interesse e até ojeriza da sociedade à política são as classes dominates do País, incluindo a grande mídia: com toda a razão, muitos basileiros estão fartos desta bandalheira desgraçada disfarçada de democracia repleta de demagogias, nas quais Luiz Inácio e seu PT de centro-direita são mestres.

Quanto à observação no início, de que a notícia foi dada apenas pela grande mídia, não se trata de observação em defesa desta, muito pelo contrário; porém, mais uma constatação de que, na maioria dos casos, a “moeda midiática” brasileira é uma só, possuindo nada mais que duas faces diferentes. E a ferocidade da briga politiqueira é bem mais acentuada do que se imagina, havendo inclusive muitos jornalistas empesteando a mídia “alternativa” entre negócios pessoas com o PT enquanto jornalista realmente independente neste País, geralmente, é um morto de fome em potencial vivendo, se não bastasse, entre o fogo cruzado da raivosa sociedade, polarizada também pelo combustível deste setor midiático oportunista com seu apelo maniqueísta. A que ponto anda-se chegando no Brasil, em nome de interesses político-partidários, não?! Que clamorosa vergonha!

O segundo malabarismo politiqueiro de Luiz Inácio na semana que passou, mais um político que nada tem a dizer a não ser palrar muita persuasão precariamente elaborada em laboratórios de márquetim político, deu-se em nome do “feminismo”: nada mais oportuno nesta hora em que o cão (de pedigrí) arrependido voltou a ser de esquerda, após a farra diante dos privilégios do poder. Mais um ato de redenção do fllho pródigo da “esquerda” nacional, no último dia 7, acabou desagradando até as militantes petistas (não havendo espaço, evidentemente, na mídia “mais democrática” deste País): tentando jogar a bola para a mulherada, o grande heroi da “esquerda” tupiniquim disse que “a palavra ‘cuidar’ é mais pertinente [do que ‘governar’]”, disse Lula, para quem um partido como o PT deve “cuidar do povo. Enquanto governante, em um Estado de direito, deve representar, eis aí mais um exemplo da mescla de falta de noção política deste “gênio político” aos setores afins, demagogia e o próprio personalismo observado mais acima.

O incômodo das militantes feministas começou a mudar quando Luiz Inácio afirmou que o Estado deve fornecer creches às mulheres, para que trabalhem e façam política. Notando mal-estar na plateia, que qualificou a fala de machista, o ex-presidente retomou o rumo dizendo que, conforme a mulher conquistou espaço no mercado de trabalho, “falta o homem conquistar espaço na cozinha”. Ao dizer que a mulher tem mais jeito para a política porque sabe “cuidar” – algo que, para ele, “vem da maternidade” -, uma militante reclamou “tá piorando”.

“Como a gente vai despertar na cabeça da mulher [a participação política]?”, disse Lula. Mulheres que estavam ao fundo se queixaram, dizendo que não é preciso despertar a cabeça delas. Para a militante do movimento social de mulheres Irani Elias, do Recife, a falta de participação da mulher na política é uma questão de estrutura do poder, não de voluntarismo. “Tem coisas que a gente não concorda com a fala dos homens e isso também inclui o presidente Lula”, disse ela, que tentou interromper o discurso aos gritos diversas vezes.

Diante do “estão ao nosso lado ou contra nós”, eis que esta reportagem decidiu, então, atravessar o globo e contactar alguém completamente fora da questão, socialista e devidamente feminista: Friba, líder da Associação das Mulheres Revolucionárias do Afeganistão (RAWA, na sigla em inglês), para comentar estas palavras de Luiz Inácio noticias pela Folha de S. Paulo em dezembro d 2006:

“O presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) arrancou, na noite desta segunda-feira, risos e aplausos de uma platéia formada por empresários e intelectuais ao, de certa forma, desmerecer a esquerda brasileira. Segundo ele, trata-se de uma ideologia típica da juventude.

“‘Se você conhece uma pessoa muito idosa esquerdista, é porque está com problema’ [risos e aplausos]. ‘Se você conhecer uma pessoa muito nova de direita, é porque também está com problema’, afirmou o presidente depois de receber o prêmio ‘Brasileiro do Ano’ da revista IstoÉ.

“Lula explicou que, em sua opinião, as pessoas responsáveis tendem a, conforme amadurecem, abrir mão de suas convicções radicais para alcançar uma confluência. Tal fenômeno ele classificou de ‘evolução da espécie humana’.

“‘Quem é mais de direita vai ficando mais de centro, e quem é mais de esquerda vai ficando social-democrata, menos à esquerda. As coisas vão confluindo de acordo com a quantidade de cabelos brancos, e de acordo com a responsabilidade que você tem. Não tem outro jeito'”.

Friba classificou este “parecer”, lá da capital afegã de Cabul,  de “vergonha total!”. Pois será que o mundo todo perdeu, completamente, a noção da realidade, restando apenas à nossa “esquerda dálmata” o pleno entendimento de teoria política? Se sim, por que nos encontramos nesta situação, não? Freud explicaria mais esta exótica matemática à brasileira, diante de uma “esquerda” que insiste em se vitimizar da maneira mais cínica? E será que algum “esquerdista moderado” brasileiro, um dentre essa gente tão “briosa” e “lutadora”, acusará Friba que, no Afeganistão, luta contra os talibans, contra os senhores da guerra e contra o Exército estadunidesnse, de “reacionária antipetista”?

Enfim, não resta mais nada à “esquerda” tupiniquim senão engolir, bem quietinha como tem tentado fazer na medida do possível, os pimolhos do MBL de péssimo nível intelectual, pois se acentuarem o tom nas críticas estarão, naturalmente, enfiando-se ainda mais profundamente no boeiro da história ao reconhecer, implicitamente, não possuir condições morais nem intelectuais de apresentar nada melhor, em cujo vácuo o grupelho se meteu enquanto a tal de “esquerda” ocupa-se em seus interesses político-partidários, com suas mesquinharias trancafiada em teorias políticas (de péssimo gosto), tentando ainda justificar os históricos abraços em aliança de Luiz Inácio em Sarney, Collor, Maluf, Temer entre tantas figuras tétricas nada aprazíveis á democracia brasileira – e recentemente até em Calheiros!

A tempo: não apenas o brucutu Bolsonaro, mas o próprio MBL de péssimo gosto é bem menos indecente com os seus, que Luiz Inácio e grande parte da “esquerda” tupiniquim. Repita-se hoje e sempre: se nunca houve nenhuma dúvida entre morrer de pé ou viver de joelhos, mas este último setor optou por morrer de joelhos, não esperem unanimidade agora. Foi sua opção não apenas sem hesitar, mas outorgando-se ainda o direito de atacar ferozmente todas as críticas que garantiam, ao longo de quase uma década e meia, que se daria com os burros do poder n’água.

Este novo autogolpe petista que se desenha claramente nos nebulosos céus brasileiros, e que vai se intensificar especialmente se o poder for retomado (jogatina que se intensificará, inclusive, em comparação aos mandatos petistas anteriores), acabará mal, de novo…

Edu Montesanti
www.edumontesanti.skyrock.com

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The Unraveling of American/Russian Relations

October 16th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

I agree that the official Las Vegas story seems to be unraveling. A public mass shooting should be transparent, not opaque. I think we explored the story long enough to discover that without knowing the facts, we cannot arrive at an explanation with confidence.

It is time to move on to another unraveling—that of US/Russian relations. This unraveling is far more serious as it threatens life on earth. I have warned of the consequences of Washington threatening Russia’s security by breaking agreement after agreement, by placing missile bases on Russia’s borders, by orchestrating anti-Russian coups in former Soviet provinces, and by a continuing volley of false accusations against Russia. There is no act more reckless and irresponsible than to make one nuclear power fear nuclear attack from another.

Alert observers have become aware of the mounting danger. Canadian professor Michel Chossudovsky writes that Washington has taken nuclear war from a hypothetical scenario to a real danger that threatens the future of humanity.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who worked with President Ronald Reagan to end the Cold War and the threat of nuclear Armageddon, has appealed to President Trump and President Putin to hold a summit meeting and bring an end to the rising tensions. Gorbachev wrote in the Washington Post that “it is far from normal that the presidents of major nuclear powers meet merely on the margins of international gatherings.” This is especially the case as “relations between the two nations are in a severe crisis.”

Gorbachev’s warning could be an understatement. Last March, General Viktor Poznikhir, the deputy commander of the Russian military’s Operation Command expressed concern that Washington could be preparing a surprise nuclear attack on Russia. See this and this and this.

Had any such statement from the Russian high command been issued anytime during the 20th century Cold War era, the President of the United States would have immediately contacted the Soviet leader and given every assurance that no such plan or intentions toward Russia existed. As far as I can tell, the Trump White House let this ominous announcement pass unremarked. If this is the case, it must have provided confirmation to the Russians’ conclusion.

For some time I have pointed out that the entirety of the West, both the US and its vassal states, continue to ignore very clear Russian warnings. Gilbert Doctorow has made the same point.

Perhaps the most clear of all was Putin’s public statement that “Russia will never again fight a war on its own territory.” If Washington’s EU vassals did not hear this clear warning that they are courting their nuclear destruction—especially the Poles and Romanians who have mindlessly hosted US missile bases—they are as deaf as they are stupid.

One Russian official told the idiot British government to its face that if the British threat to first use nuclear weapons is directed at Russia, if such an attempt is made, Great Britain will disappear from the face of the earth.

There is no doubt that that would be the case.

So why do Washington’s impotent vassals talk tough to Russia, a government that only desires peace and has threatened Britain in no way. Nor has the Russian government threatened France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, or any of the former Eastern European vassals of the Soviet Union that exchanged their captivity to the Soviet Union for captivity to Washington. Russia has not even threatened Ukraine, which Russia could wipe out in a couple of minutes. Why are all of these countries, apparently led by mindless, gutless two-bit politicians, aligned with Washington’s false propaganda against Russia?

The answer is money. The vassals are paid to go along with the lies. As Alain of Lille said as long ago as the 12th century, “not God, not Caesar, but money is all.”

What are the forces driving Washington’s provocation of Russia? There are three, and they comprise a vast conspiracy against life on earth.

One is the Neoconservatives. The Neoconservatives were convinced by the Soviet Collapse that History has chosen not the proletariat but American “democratic capitalism” as the socio-politico-economic system for the world, and that this choice by History conveys on America the status of the “indispensable, exceptional” country, a status that places America above all other countries and above international law and, indeed, America’s own laws.

America is so exceptional that it can torture people in total violation of both US law and international law. The government in Washington can, on suspicion alone without presentation to a court of evidence and conviction, confine US citizens indefinitely, torturing them the entire time, and can assassinate them at will without due process of law. This is the definition of a total police state tyranny. Yet Washington represents America as a “great democracy,” whose endless wars against humanity are “bringing democracy to the world.”

America is so exceptional that it can bomb other countries indiscriminately without officially being at war with those countries.

America is so exceptional that the separation of powers prescribed in the American Constitution can be totally ignored by the executive branch as, the Neoconservatives claim, the President has “unique powers” not limited by the Constitution, which, of course, is just another lie.

Russia, China, and Iran are targets of the Neoconservatives, as were Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and provinces of Pakistan, because these countries have/had independent foreign policies and are/were not Washington’s vassals.

The Neoconservative doctrine states that it is the “principal goal” of US foreign policy “to prevent the rise of Russia or any other state” that can serve as a constraint on Washington’s unilateralism.

The New York Times under this headline on March 8, 1992, explains the Wolfowitz doctrine:

U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop
A One-Superpower World

Special to The New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 7 In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting phase, the Defense Department asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union.

A 46-page document that has been circulating at the highest levels of the Pentagon for weeks, and which Defense Secretary Dick Cheney expects to release later this month, states that part of the American mission will be convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.

The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.

For the complete NYT article click here

Every state with an independent foreign policy is a constraint on Washington, especially states with nuclear capabilities such as Russia and China.

A second interest with incentive to provoke Russia is the US military/security complex. President Eisenhower, a five-star general, warned Americans in 1961 that the “military-industrial complex” was a threat to American democracy. Today the military/security complex is much more than a mere threat to American democracy. It has already taken over the US government and the Trump administration, which is run by generals, and it now threatens all life on earth.

The military/security complex has an annual budget of one thousand billion dollars. This sum is larger than the Gross Domestic Products of all but a handful of countries on earth. Such an immense budget conveying such power desperately needs a dangerous enemy for its justification. Russia has been assigned this role. Given the power of the military/security complex, the role assigned to Russia cannot be mitigated by Russian diplomacy. Moreover, the interests of the military/security complex and the Neoconservatives are in agreement.

The third powerful interest group leading to conflict with Russia is the Israel Lobby. In Washington the Israel Lobby is extremely powerful. If the Israel Lobby puts legislation or a resolution before Congress, it usually passes almost unanimously, as anyone who votes against it is likely to be eliminated in the next election.

The Israel Lobby is closely linked to the Neoconservatives, the principal figures of which are Zionists tightly allied with Israel. Some are joint US/Israeli citizens. The Israeli influence in Washington is so strong that the Vice Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank is the former chairman of the Israeli Central Bank. Israel is so powerful in Washington that it even runs US economic policy.

The Zionists in Israel want to expand. Their doctrine is “from the Nile to the Euphrates.” That is the Zionist claim of the land that God gave to the Chosen People.

In pursuit of this goal, Israel twice sent the Israeli Army into southern Lebanon to occupy that part of the country in order to seize the Litani River, water resources that Israel desires.

However, twice the Hezbollah militia drove out the vaunted Israeli Army. Israel now fears to send the army again. Instead, Israel is using its power over the government in Washington to use the US military to put Syria and Iran in the same chaos as exists in Libya and Iraq. The reason is that Syria and Iran are the supporters of the Hezbollah militia. Deprived of support, Hezbollah can be defeated by Israel.

It is Israel, not the US government per se, that is driving the US to war with Iran. Israel, which almost always gets its way in Washington, is encountering difficulties. Washington’s EU vassals are opposed to renewing conflict with Iran. Europe is overwhelmed with problems, many of which stem from Washington’s wars, and doesn’t need the Iranian one again. Neither does the US military, defeated in Syria and unable to win in Afghanistan after 16 years against a few thousand lightly armed Taliban. Washington’s defeat in Afghanistan on top of the defeat in Vietnam has destroyed any fear of Washington’s conventional forces, which is why Russia and China expect the next war to be nuclear.

Moreover, if Russia will not tolerate Washington’s overthrow of Syria, Russia certainly will not tolerate Washington’s overthrow of Iran. And it is unlikely that China will either as, according to reports, China gets 20% of its oil from Iran. Indeed, the Russian and Chinese interest in Iran is so strong that it is inexplicable that the Israel Lobby thinks it is so strong that it can drive Washington into war with Iran. The hubris and arrogance of the Neoconservatives and the Israel Lobby are the greatest the world has seen since Hitler marched off into Russia.

If the dumbs***ts in Washington repeat this folly, the lights on Earth will be turned off.

This article was originally published by Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.

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I have an aunt who lives in paradise – Paradise, California, that is. But in 2017 it has been anything but, as the communities surrounding Paradise have been evacuated on two separate occasions due to natural disasters and crumbling infrastructure. In February, torrential downpours caused the Oroville Dam to fail, washing out homes, businesses, memories and lives.  And now they are dealing with devastating wildfires that have killed dozens, displaced thousands, and are being fought by firefighters, some of whom are only making minimum wage and working 70 straight hours

The fires in California are just the latest natural disaster to inflict suffering on Americans, as the people in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas can attest, following massive hurricanes over the summer.

Nearly one month after being crushed by Hurricane Maria, 85% of Puerto Ricans still do not have electricity, and 40% do not have running water, and people from the Southwest and the Southeast US continue to struggle with the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

The destructive California wildfires are predicted to cost the US economy $85 billion. The costs of recovery post-Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are estimated to be a minimum of $65 billion, $25 billion and $45 billion, respectively. The combined estimated cost of the recent natural disasters is $220 billion which is just a fraction of the $700 billion the US will spend on the military in 2017.

In fact, Congress appropriates more than 70 times the amount of money for the military as it does for the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA)Disaster Relief Fund:

If the US allocated disaster relief funds to its own citizens as religiously as it allocated tax payer dollars to US wars abroad, everyone in affected areas could easily be provided the help they need to get back on their feet.

For example, instead of spending $1.25 trillion dollars to modernize the US nuclear arsenal, and $566 billion to build the Navy a 308-ship fleet, wouldn’t Americans prefer to have that money available to rebuild Southeast Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California?

Wouldn’t this military allocation be better utilized by modernizing our infrastructure, building more disaster relief centers, and hiring more firefighters and first responders? Or earmarked to groups like Team Rubicon, a veteran-led organization that trains disaster relief volunteers?

Instead of spending money on war, which leads to destruction, we should spend money in the US to help Americans whose lives are destroyed by natural disasters.

We can’t prevent natural disasters but we as a country can fund the improvement of infrastructure and services so that after a natural disaster hits, the outcome is less devastating to the American people.

Chris Ernesto is the webmaster and co-founder of St. Pete for Peace, a non-partisan antiwar organization providing peace oriented education events and services to the Tampa Bay, FL community since 2003.

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A woman by the name Kymberley Suchomel, 28, who attended the Oct. 1 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, passed away Monday at her Apple Valley home just days after she had survived the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history unscathed, reports say.

Suchomel, who posted her eyewitness account of the Las Vegas massacre in astonishingly vivid detail to her Facebook page on Oct. 4, subsequently passed away in her home on Oct. 9 from what reports are claiming were ‘natural causes.’

Shockingly just days before her death, Suchomel posted key details about the shooting to Facebook contradicting the official narrative that Stephen Paddock is a lone gunman.

“From about 50 feet in front of us, and a little to the right, fire crackers were set off. Let me repeat that… FIRE CRACKERS WERE SET OFF. I verbally stated “some asshole just shot of fire crackers in close proximity to so many people”. I was literally pissed off. You could see Jason Aldean look to his left kind of startled by it, but he was also clearly irritated. I would say about 15 seconds later, the first volley of gunfire was released,” the eyewitness wrote.

She went on…

It was a shorter volley than any of the others, and the gunfire was not as close together either. EVERYONE looked up, down, around. We thought it was more fire crackers at first, but then Ricky reached over, told us all to put our boots on, quickly. And the volley ended. Then people started to panic. The gentlemen behind me looked at me as I was putting on my boots, half laying down, and said “calm down crazy, its just fireworks, jeez”. That is when the 2nd volley went off, Ricky yelled at us all to get down, flat, & we immediately knew there was someone shooting at us. I remember getting down, but I didn’t lay flat for some reason, thinking- oh my gosh, I need to get flatter than I am now, but my body just wouldn’t let me. That was the 2nd volley. At the end of that volley ( I am still struggling to get my boots on), we turned and tried to run, but the people behind us still weren’t moving. I yelled at the lady “RUN! ITS GUNFIRE! RUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!”

Third volley of gunfire hits astroturf

According to Suchomel, the shooting was ‘close’ and felt like a ‘literal hell.’

“[When] the 3rd volley hit… and it was close. Very, very close to us. I could physically see the impact of the bullets on the astro-turf, I could feel the warmth & the passing of bullets. Once that 3rd volley was over, Casie linked her arm into mine, and we decided at that moment we weren’t stopping- we were getting the Hell out of there. And I do mean Hell. We were in literal Hell. The gentlemen that mocked me stating it was just fireworks fell to the ground, and he never got back up. The lady behind me (who was now in front of me) who was terrified as I told her to run, never got back up. I actually had to physically step over her body to run (something I am still struggling with, so please don’t attack me. I was absolutely in flight-or-fight mode). There was another person to my right who also wasn’t moving. We ran. I don’t know what direction we ran, I don’t know towards which landmark we ran. We just ran. It was at this time our group got split up. Casie & I were together. Ricky, Cassie & Mendy were together.”

Soon after, according to her account, she started to panic when she had realized with ‘one-hundred percent’ certainty that there was indeed more than one shooter and that multiple gunmen were, in fact, in the crowd!

“We were rounding some sort of corner maybe- and I looked to the right and I saw this large cowboy sitting down with his legs spread, holding a blood-soaked woman. I thought to myself “we NEED to hide”, but as I looked quickly for somewhere to go, the gunfire once again got closer and closer. We couldn’t hide because they (and I do mean THEY) were chasing us. That exact moment is when I started to really panic. That is the exact moment in which I thought this was it, I was going to die, I was never going to see my family again. So, as we are running, we approach this fence where men are throwing women over, and we ran up to it as they had knocked It down, so we were able to get out. As we crossed the threshold of the venue, my mind went straight to other mass shootings and hearing the victim’s families in my head talk about how they never got to say goodbye. I did not want this for my husband (who was at work) & my grandma (who had my daughter, Scarlett). So, at10:07 pm I called my husband [frantically] leaving him a voicemail- telling him that I loved him and was in the middle of a shooting & I wasn’t sure if I would make it out alive,” she explained.

“Next, while still running, I called my grandma to tell her the exact same thing. But the gunfire wasn’t stopping this whole time. It wasn’t ceasing. It wasn’t slowing down. And It was directly behind us, following us. Bullets were coming from every direction. Behind us, in front of us, to the side of us. But I know, I just know, that there was someone chasing us. The entire time I felt this way,” she explained “The farther we got from the venue, the closer the gunfire got. I kept looking back expecting to see the gunmen- and Isay MEN because there was more than one person. There was more than one gun firing. 100% more than one.”

“As we were running, we kept changing direction, because it felt like no matter what direction we took, we were being followed. So we ended up running in a weird triangular path. The first place I remember getting to was a parking lot, and I told Casie (who was slightly in front of me) we needed to get under one of the trucks. She turned to me and started her way back to me, and that is when the gunfire got even CLOSER than ever before. It was RIGHT THERE. It was within the parking lot,” the eyewitness explained. “Everyone around us was panicking once again. So we ditched the idea of getting underneath a vehicle, and we continued the run for our lives. If you know me, you know I am a big girl, who is out of shape, and who definitely does not run for any reason. But I can tell you I ran like I have never run before.”

She continued on with her post, writing:

The 2nd place I remember going by was Hooters- which is where we met back up with the rest of our small group. We ran towards the entrance thinking we could take cover there, but as we got closer, a stampede of people ran out, terrified. We could only conclude that there was another gunman inside of that hotel. This made us even more scared- we had nowhere to go- no one to trust. At some point, we ended up at the airport & even entered the building for safety. Everyone as we entered were screaming at the staff “IS IT SAFE IN HERE?” but we weren’t getting anyone to answer us, so after running about 30 feet into the building, not getting the answers we so desperately needed, we decided it, too, wasn’t a safe spot, so we got out of there quickly and continued running.

After all this running, we were tired, sore & having to stop to cough, gag and even vomit. We ran across an intersection & us & another group of people pleaded with a limo driver to let us in and get us out of there. He was clearly confused & didn’t understand what was going on, so he didn’t let us in. Next, we ran to a taxi van & she was willing to let us in, but she told us her van only held 4 people & she wasn’t going to let the 5 of us in, so we said screw it and continued running. At one point, we ran passed a small liquor store where they so graciously gave us water bottles. We passed UNLV as well.

‘Smaller Hispanic woman’ taunts victims minutes after shooting

Additionally, the eyewitness reported that she was running with her group alongside “Tropicana Avenue”  when a ‘dark-colored SUV’ slowed and a ‘smaller Hispanic woman’ emerged from the window to “taunt” her group.

“[She] leans out the window, and she yells something we couldn’t understand in a clearly taunting manner. It really freaked us out, because again, we didn’t know who we could and could not trust,” the eyewitness explained.

Could this ‘smaller Hispanic woman’ have been the same ‘short Hispanic lady’ reported by another eyewitness to have threatened concertgoers 30-45 minutes before the shooting started?

Eight days later Suchomel was found dead in bed by her grandmother who arrived at Schomer’s residence at 8:30 a.m.

According to an Oct. 9 report confirming Suchomel’s death, Suchomel “was taking medication for a pituitary tumor and feared to fall asleep at night after being heavily traumatized by the Oct. 1 massacre.

Suchomel’s death may be the reason that Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos is receiving 24/7 high-profile security protection.

Update: After the time of this article’s publishing Suchomel’s post is “no longer available.”

Please share this article with everyone you know.

The following video contains a man’s confession, a very similar eyewitness account, explaining the night of the shooting from his perspective.

Shepard Ambellas is an opinion journalist, analyst, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Intellihub News & Politics (Intellihub.com). Shepard is also known for producing Shade: The Motion Picture (2013) and appearing on Travel Channel’s America Declassified (2013). Shepard is a regular contributor to Infowars. Read more from Shep’s World. Follow Shep on Facebook. Subscribe to Shep’s YouTube channel.

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Headlining “‘More US troops at our borders’ – Russian Defense Ministry”, Russian Television (whose U.S. broadcasts the U.S. Government is considering to ban) reported, on Friday, October 13th, that “On Thursday, the U.S. announced the presence of a second [U.S.] regiment in the already very tense Baltic region, and Poland, and that’s a move which Moscow claims violates that fundamental peace treaty signed between Russia and NATO.”

This report was referring to the NATO Founding Act, which had been signed in 1997 after Russian President Boris Yeltsin learned that the verbal promise which the agents of America’s President George H.W. Bush had made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that NATO would not move “one inch to the east”, was soon going to be broken, and that Hungary, Czech Republic, and Poland would be the first former Warsaw Pact nations to be added to NATO. Yeltsin was furious to learn of this, and so there were negotiations; and, this time around, Russia got the West’s signatures upon what was to be the contractual relationship between the by-now clearly expanding NATO, and the post-communist and now lone nation of Russia. The NATO Founding Act promised that:

NATO reiterates that in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces. Accordingly, it will have to rely on adequate infrastructure commensurate with the above tasks. In this context, reinforcement may take place, when necessary, in the event of defence against a threat of aggression and missions in support of peace consistent with the United Nations Charter and the OSCE governing principles, as well as for exercises consistent with the adapted CFE Treaty, the provisions of the Vienna Document 1994 and mutually agreed transparency measures. Russia will exercise similar restraint in its conventional force deployments in Europe.

The key phrase there is “permanent stationing,” and, as is common in treaties, it isn’t defined. Russia had wanted it to be defined, but the U.S. refused.

Back on 4 September 2014, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked at a press conference, “How would you respond to US President Barack Obama’s statement that the Russia-NATO Founding Act may be amended?” And Lavrov said:

“This document was elaborated by all countries that are members of the Russia-NATO Council, and can only be amended collectively. Unilaterally, it is possible only to withdraw from the act, but this would apply only to the country that makes this decision. Declaring that ‘I, a single country, have decided to amend a collective document signed by 28 nations’ is not entirely appropriate, either legally or politically.”

On 9 March 2017, Deutsche Welle bannered “Hopeful for more troops, US scouts basing options in Germany” and reported that,

“Eastern European countries, including Poland, have pushed for permanent troops in their territory, but Western allies, including Germany, have resisted, citing the 1997 NATO Founding Act, an agreement with Russia that they argue limits permanent deployments in former Warsaw Pact nations.”

So: the U.S. is doing it regardless of what the leadership of Germany or any other NATO-member-nation want. The U.S. had been behind the East European regimes that want to go to war against Russia, and it’s providing them the men and materiel in order to lead them in that invasion. Russia is in no position to be able to respond in-kind against the United States, because not only does Russia no longer control the nations that are on and near its own borders, but it doesn’t have, and never did have, control over any of the nations that are on or near America’s borders, except for tiny Cuba, back when both Cuba and the U.S.S.R. were communist. The current U.S.-NATO buildup along and near Russia’s borders would be more similar to a Russian buildup along America’s borders with Canada and Mexico, which Russia wouldn’t be able to do, even if Russia’s Government wanted to.

The American news-site Newsweek (formerly a major glossy magazine but now only online) headlined on October 12th, “U.S. Military Sends Troops to Russian Border, Officials Say They Want ‘Peace, Not War’ With Russia”, and noted that though Russia said the NATO Founding Act prohibited this deployment, “Since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula amid political unrest in neighboring Ukraine in 2014, however, NATO has significantly expanded its military presence near Russia, especially among the three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — and Poland. These four nations were designated by the U.S. last year to host NATO battle groups, but the multinational coalition has expanded its forces beyond these countries, drawing further Russian fury.” In other words: the U.S. designated these countries, on and near the Russian border, to precipitate the final war, which the U.S. intends to finish. And the U.S. then approved even more countries, for the task.                                                         

Back on 13 June 2015, the New York Times had headlined “U.S. Is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe” and reported:

In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say.

The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine have caused alarm and prompted new military planning in NATO capitals.

What had actually happened is that starting by no later than 2011, the Obama Administration was planning a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Ukrainian President who had been elected in 2010, and the resulting coup — which was carried out in 2014 by Ukraine’s two racist-fascist or ideologically nazi political Parties, the Right Sector, and the Svoboda Party (the latter of which Party was renamed from its original “Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine” name, at the demand of the CIA) — was very violent and bloody, and terrified the residents in the Ukrainian regions that had voted over 75% for the elected President (whom Ukraine’s nazis had just overthrown), especially Crimea and Donbass, so these supporters of the elected President (these people being Russian-speakers) clamored for Russian protection, and Russia provided it. (Here is what Russia was protecting them against in Crimea; and, here is what Russia was protecting them against in Donbass.) By no later than two days after the coup was over, the top officials of the EU knew that it had been a coup and was not a ‘democratic revolution’ such as was being publicly reported. They kept silent about it, and the regimes in the former Warsaw Pact nations have prevented their publics from knowing that Ukraine had suffered a nazi-executed and U.S.-financed coup; and, so, the people in those Eastern European countries think that the imperialistic nation is Russia (like the former Soviet regime was), and not the U.S. (which in recent decades was taken over by fascists, America’s oligarchs).

And, so, since the U.S. Government is gearing up for war with Russia, Russia is preparing to defend itself — against the U.S., and against at least the nations that are bordering or close to Russia (maybe including Ukraine itself), which are providing the military bases and allowing the missiles and other weapons to be installed there (in the participating countries) for the invasion. If and when the invasion happens, it will be completed within less than an hour, the idea being to destroy Russia’s retaliatory weapons by a blitz-attack before they can be fired and before their warheads can reach their destinations, for which reasons Lockheed Martin’s ABM (or BMD) system (called “Aegis Ashore”) is being deployed around Russia’s borders: to nullify all retaliatory capability (as if that were even possible to do).

Anyway, regardless of whether Russia violated the NATO Founding Act by its having accepted the 90%+ plebiscite results in Crimea on 16 March 2014 favoring to become again a part of Russia (as they had been until the Soviet dictator transferred them to Ukraine in 1954), there can be no question that, under U.S. President Obama, and now continuing under U.S. President Trump, the NATO Founding Act has itself been nullified, and there is no longer exists what had been the only peace treaty that the U.S. ever signed with Russia. We’re now in not the Cold War, which was accepted on both sides as being a balance of terror in order to maintain the peace (Mutually Assured Destruction or “MAD”); we’re in the situation where the U.S. Government believes instead in “Nuclear Primacy”, or America conquering Russia. If that weren’t the case, then America wouldn’t have been doing what it has been doing since 2011.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Featured image is from RT.com.

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The US-Turkish “Visa War” Is a Hybrid War Harbinger

October 15th, 2017 by Andrew Korybko

The US-Turkish “visa war” began when Ankara arrested a US consulate employee on terror charges over his suspected connections with the Gulenists, which served as the pretext for the US to do what it had apparently been considering for some time, and that’s effectively block Turks from visiting the US by de-facto including them for the indefinite future on Trump’s “travel ban”. Turkey, keen on retaining its dignity, followed suit with a reciprocal measure for Americans, and the entire episode might serve as a prelude to the official, albeit long-expected, worsening of relations and maybe even potential sanctions.

The US is being careful to not make its moves appear “unprovoked”, hence why it sought to disguise its latest actions as being a “response” to something that Turkey did, because it doesn’t want to push Turkey any closer to the Multipolar World Order than it already has ever since the failed pro-American coup attempt last year saw Erdogan dramatically improve his ties with Russia, Iran, and even the SCO in response. That being said, what’s really happening here is that the US is punishing Turkey for precisely just that, as well as more recently for Erdogan’s remark the other day that “the West’s shadow” is behind all terrorist groups in the world, including the Gulenists, the PKK, and even Daesh.

Furthermore, the US thinks that it is unacceptable that Turkey, which is nominally a NATO member, decided to buy Russia’s S400 state-of-the-art anti-air missile system and is even militarily cooperating with Moscow in an anti-terrorist capacity in Syria, especially in the latest Idlib Operation to implement the “de-escalation zone” that was recently agreed to at the last Astana meeting. Another thing which has contributed to the US’ animosity against Turkey is the country’s vastly improved military relationship with Iran, particularly over the Kurdish issue in recent weeks but with the original breakthrough being made through the Moscow Declaration at the end of last year.

The most immediate implication of the American-Turkish “visa war” is that it will worsen the perception that each country’s people have of the other. Turks will see that this confirms what Erdogan has implied for over a year about how the US is the enemy of the Turkish people, while Americans will be manipulated via decontextualized Mainstream Media reporting into thinking that Erdogan is a rogue anti-American dictator whose country is in urgent need of a “democratic regime change”. Both of these interlinked outcomes will probably contribute to the forecasted deterioration of official relations which might take a multidimensional form in creating serious economic, political, and possibly even military fallout, the latter of which could see the US more openly commit to the Kurds and Gulenists.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Oct 13, 2017:

 

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.

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President Donald Trump met with top defense officials Tuesday morning — including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Joseph Dunford — in the White House Situation Room, to discuss potential options for responding to any North Korean “aggression” as well as how to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with nuclear weapons.

The meeting, which was later confirmed by the State Department and a White House press release, came a day after Mattis instructed the U.S. Army to stand ready if North Korea diplomacy fails, and less than a week after Trump’s cryptic “calm before the storm” comments about a previous meeting with top military commanders. Some have noted that the decision to have the meeting in the Situation Room, sometimes called the War Room, was significant, as it is often used to hold secure meetings regarding disasters, military conflicts, and other major crises both domestic and global.

While most reporting gave some context to Trump’s most recent meeting with top defense officials on tensions with Pyongyang, hardly any mentioned that the meeting had been immediately preceded by another. This meeting, also on the topic of North Korea, was held between the president and former Secretary of State and unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger.

In his post-meeting remarks, Trump praised Kissinger’s ‘immense talent.’

“Henry Kissinger has been a friend of mine,” he added. “I’ve liked him. I’ve respected him. But we’ve been friends for a long time, long before my emergence into the world of politics, which has not been too long.”

Kissinger is also a long-time advisor and confidante of Trump’s former rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday’s meeting was not the first occasion Trump has met with Kissinger since becoming a fixture in American politics. The pair’s first meeting after Trump’s rise to political prominence took place in May of 2016.  That meeting occurred a day after then-candidate Trump said he would open dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if elected President. Since that initial meeting, Kissinger and Trump met last November and have already met twice this year.

After their November meeting, Kissinger remarked that Trump would likely not be keeping all his campaign promises, as he was undergoing “the transition from being a campaigner to being a national strategist.” This apparently included his promise of opening dialogue with North Korea.

While often characterized by the mainstream press as a leading “statesman” and “diplomat,” Kissinger’s record shows he is anything but. While serving as Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State, Kissinger oversaw a bloody coup in Chile, an illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia, and millions dead in Vietnam.

Despite overseeing such actions, Kissinger ended up being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in the same year as the Chilean coup, for his role in bringing “peace” to Vietnam and ending the Vietnam war, though he had actually worked to extend it. The choice of Kissinger was so outrageous that several members of the Nobel committee resigned in protest. Kissinger is also credited with transforming U.S. foreign policy into one of perpetual, undeclared war – a policy that continues today and one that Trump has embraced since becoming President.

Given Trump’s bellicose rhetoric and threats towards North Korea – as well as his rejection of diplomacy in resolving the crisis despite both Pyongyang’s and his own State Department’s apparent willingness to attempt it – Kissinger’s timely guidance to the President during “the calm before the storm” should give the American public considerable cause for concern.

Watch | Henry Kissinger on his 2016 meeting with Donald Trump

Featured image is from infowars.

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Two months into the new Trump administration, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that Washington’s behaviour towards the nuclear deal threatened to “render the entire bargain meaningless,” according to a copy of a letter obtained by Middle East Eye.

“Iran cannot afford to keep implementing the deal unilaterally while a key participant persists in its systematic violation of key provisions of the JCPOA by invoking irrelevant, extraneous and unfounded excuses,” he wrote, referring to the deal, which is formally referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Zarif’s letter, addressed to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, stands in stark contrast to a celebratory letter sent by Hassan Rouhani to US President Barack Obama after the deal was implemented in early 2016 and also revealed by MEE for the first time.

The two trace the breakdown of ties between the two countries with Trump’s rise to power and show the dangerous fallout of his confrontational approach towards Iran, ratcheted up again today.

Iran has been accused of violating if not the actual terms of the deal then the spirit of the agreement, by supporting militant groups in the region and developing long-range missile technology.

However, the general consensus among most observers – and the rest of the countries which participated in the P5+1 nuclear agreement – is that the current Iranian leadership posed the best opportunity for a deal that would keep the country nuclear-free.

The two letters also illustrate, say analysts, just how far the Iranian side may have been willing to go diplomatically and how the US had squandered opportunities.

“The change in tone from Rouhani to Zarif’s letter demonstrates a proven flexibility in Iran’s position that this administration refuses to acknowledge,” said Reza Marashi, research director at the Washington, DC-based National Iranian American Council.

“I always tell people I’m as nice as you let me be and I believe that’s Iran’s policy towards the United States.”

“He clearly has a willing partner in Tehran to test the proposition of resolving problems through sustained diplomacy. Now it’s going to be really hard to get there after nine months of Trump poisoning the well, publicly and privately.”

The letters, which were leaked to MEE in advance of Trump’s speech on Friday, fit the descriptions of correspondence which several analysts said they had heard about, but had never seen in full until now.

Rouhani to Obama

In his letter sent to Obama last year after the implementation of the nuclear deal on 16 January, Rouhani says he is “very pleased” that the agreement is coming to fruition.

The agreement “proved that even the most complex of global issues can be resolved through dialogue, negotiation and constructive engagement,” he writes.

“I believe that the ‘win-win’ approach which governs the JCPOA can serve as a good model for the resolution of other disputes and international and regional crises, especially in the tumultuous Middle East – which is unfortunately slipping deeper into the mire as each day passes.”

He ends the two-page letter thanking Obama and expressing his appreciation “in advance for the appropriate instructions coupled with the timely and necessary actions that you will issue and undertake to ensure its full implementation”.

“Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration,” he wrote.”

Model for future deals?

The most striking feature of Rouhani’s letter, said Mahan Abedin, an Iranian political analyst and director of Dysart Consulting, is just how hopeful he is that the deal will lead to resolving other issues.

“That lends credence to what some of his internal opponents were saying in 2015 and 2016, especially before Trump came to power,” Abedin said.

He noted that they claimed that Rouhani saw the deal as a model for future deals which might see Iran give up its missile technology or support for Hezbollah. “This really does come out in the letter,” he said.

Also worth noting, said Abedin, is Rouhani’s tone.

“It shows he had genuine respect for Obama, and I think it also reflects his confidence in the integrity of the negotiation process,” he said.

“He’s surveyed the whole thing very closely, he had full confidence in it, and he was really pleased with the outcome and sees it as his baby,” Abedin said.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said the letter stands in stark contrast to those sent in recent years by Iran’s Supreme Leader to Obama – which US officials described to him – and others sent by Iranian members of parliament to US senators which he had read.

Those letters “were just a long list of complaints with one or two sentences with a small opening,” Parsi said.

Rouhani’s letter “is nothing like that. There is not complaint. There is no going back into the history. It’s not relitigating the last 50 years … It tells you how far the US and Iran came under Obama to interact with each other in a normal way.”

Zarif to Mogherini

Just 15 months later, Zarif’s letter to Mogherini, dated 28 March 2017, accuses the US of violating the nuclear deal and treating it with open hostility that threatens “to render the entire bargain meaningless, unbalanced and unsustainable”.

The Obama administration’s implementation of the deal may have been “lacklustre,” but two months into the new administration, he writes that it is evident that the US government “has maliciously intended – since the very beginning – to prevent normalisation of trade with Iran and to deprive Iran from the economic dividends clearly envisaged in the JCPOA”.

Further proposed sanctions against Iran and reviews of sanctions already in place, he says, have created “indefinite uncertainty and fear in the global economic community about the future of economic relations with Iran,” which he says are a clear violation of the deal.

“This in fact has significant detrimental consequences,” Zarif says, specifically pointing out the difficulties of non-US firms to operate in his country as a result of US policies following the agreement.

Zarif also raises concerns about “provocative statements” that senior US administration officials – whom he doesn’t name – that threaten the deal by “further diminishing the atmosphere which is indispensable for successful implementation of its sanctions-lifting provisions”.

“These statements not only disrespect the established principles of international law … but also contravene the provisions of the JCPOA,” he writes, citing the agreement’s paragraph 28, which calls on senior officials on all sides to support the implementation “including in their public statements”.

“Iran reserves the right to take necessary measures in response to any action or omission which could in effect jeopardise the balance of ‘the reciprocal commitments’ as enshrined in the JCPOA and adversely affect its ‘balanced’ implementation,” Zarif concludes.

Quick off the mark

The issues raised in the letter are no surprise to those following the nuclear deal closely. What’s new, however, is what it reveals about Iran’s current strategy.

“In public, they are not going as aggressive on [the violations discussed in the letter], and I don’t think it’s because they don’t think they have a case,” Parsi said.

“I suspect that they have decided to play the reasonable party by not making too much noise about Trump’s actual violations in public, but instead let Trump shoot himself in the foot.”

It also, Abedin and Marashi said, shows just how quickly the Iranians started to work around the assumption that Trump was serious about his campaign threats to attempt to end the deal.

“What this letter tells you is that they anticipated this scenario that’s unfolding now and they had made preparations six months before. So Iran will be well-prepared at least diplomatically about what’s about to hit them,” Abedin said.

“The Iranians figured it out faster than the Europeans did,” Marashi said. “I talked to Iranians after Trump’s election. Within a month and a half, two months in, they knew what they were dealing with. Only now are we hearing from the Europeans.”

Marashi points out, he waited three months before privately conveying his concerns.

“That demonstrates a level of restraint predicated on keeping the deal alive,” he said.

But given the political dynamics in Iran – including continued financial restrictions – Zarif no longer had the luxury not to take a tougher stance, Abedin said.

“He’s making it clear that they weren’t happy with the Obama administration either because they were also very slow in easing the sanctions,” he said. “What’s going to happen now – now that Trump is about the decertify? People need to take strong diplomatic positions.”

MEE contacted Zarif and Mogherini’s offices for comment, but neither had responded by the time of publication.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition

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Longstanding Sexual Abuse in Hollywood

October 15th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

It’s been commonplace throughout tinseltown’s history. The so-called casting couch has been around for the past century, producers and other industry executives demanding sexual favors for roles in films, aspiring actors and experienced ones pressured to submit.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal is no aberration. Countless other film executives act the same way, now and earlier throughout the industry’s history, the tip of the iceberg alone reported.

Hollywood moguls want sexual abuse incidents suppressed. Amy Berg’s 2014 documentary “An Open Secret” discussed film industry underage victims of sexual exploitation, minors especially vulnerable to predatory vultures, powerful men believing they can get away with anything and usually do.

Stories of abuse the film recounts represent the tip of a sordid iceberg. Most victims are too ashamed to go public, others not sure they’ll be believed.

Berg said “(w)hen you meet the victims and see how prevalent this problem is, it’s difficult to ignore” the sexual abuse they and many others endured, adding:

“(W)hat I found really disturbing was the number of convicted pedophiles who are still being hired on set, on kids’ shows. These are people who technically should be nowhere near children. That was really upsetting.”

The earliest industry sex scandal occurred in 1921. Actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s rape of actress Virginia Rappe led to her death from a ruptured bladder.

He was charged with murder, downgraded to manslaughter, then acquitted after three trials.

Errol Flynn had a two-year affair with Beverly Aadland, beginning when she was aged-15. Earlier he was accused, then exonerated of raping two underage girls.

Aadland recounted her ordeal, saying

“(h)e was just too strong for me. I cried. At one point he tore my dress. Then he carried me off to another room, and I was still carrying on. What was going through my head was, what was I going to tell my mother?”

In her autobiography, actress Joan Collins explained she lost the lead role in “Cleopatra” to Elizabeth Taylor for refusing to sleep with 20th Century-Fox’s studio head, saying:

“I had tested for ‘Cleopatra’ twice and was the front-runner. He took me into his office and said, ‘(y)ou really want this part?’ And I said, ‘Yes. I really do.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘then all you have to do is be nice to me.’ “

“It was a wonderful euphemism in the Sixties for you know what. But I couldn’t do that. In fact, I was rather wimpish, burst into tears and rushed out of his office.”

At age 12, Shirley Temple said an MGM producer exposed himself to her during their first meeting. She laughed nervously. He threw her out of his office – after she signed a contract.

Marilyn Monroe said she knew numerous Hollywood lechers.

“I met them all,” she explained. “Phoniness and failure were all over them.”

“Some were vicious and crooked. But they were as near to the movies as you could get. So you sat with them, listening to their lies and schemes. And you saw Hollywood with their eyes – an overcrowded brothel, a (sexual) merry-go-round…”

Judy Garland said she was pawed and propositioned by study bosses and others from aged-16. She called MGM founder Louis B. Mayer a notorious harasser, her biographer saying:

He “would tell her what a wonderful singer she was, and he would say ‘you sing from the heart,’ and then he would place his hand on her left breast.”

Comedian/actor Bill Cosby faces numerous accusations of sexual assault – more than 50 women saying he molested them from 1965 to 2008. He denies wrongdoing.

He faces numerous lawsuits. Attorney Gloria Allred represents 33 women, saying others requested her help. Cosby faces retrial for one incident next year. If convicted, he could be imprisoned. He’s now aged-80.

Two women accused actor Casey Affleck of sexual abuse, both claims settled out of court. Affleck denied charges against him.

Actress Theresa Russell said producer of “The Last Tycoon” Sam Spiegel propositioned her during a casting session. His biographer explained he made liberal use of the casting couch.

Producer Julia Phillips’ book “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again” discussed much about Hollywood’s sordid history, including commonplace casting couch abuses.

Writer Peter Keough called Hollywood “a town where everyone is selling body and soul for fame and fortune and all – especially women are considered commodities.”

Actor Woody Harrelson said

“every (acting) business I ever entered into in New York seemed to have a casting couch…I’ve seen so many people sleep with people they loathe in order to further their ambition.”

Actress Goldie Hawn accused cartoonist Al Capp of propositioning her, adding he exposed himself to her when she was aged-19. She rejected his advances.

Producer Chris Hanley claimed

“almost every leading actress in (his) 24 films has slept with a director or producer or a leading actor to get the part that launched her career.”

Actress Gwyneth said early in her career, a film producer explained a business meeting should end “in the bedroom.” She accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.

Actress Susan Sarandon described what she called a “really disgusting” casting couch experience in New York.

Cher tweeted about a “scary experience” with a film producer. Jane Fonda said she was once fired for refusing to sleep with her boss.

Instances of casting couch sexual abuse are endless. Hollywood is a virtual den of iniquity. The silver screen hides what goes on behind the scenes.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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Image: Truman and MacArthur on Wake Island

“Fire and Fury” was not invented by Donald Trump. It is a concept deeply embedded in US military doctrine. It has characterized US military interventions since the end of World War II.

What distinguishes Trump from his predecessors in the White House is his political narrative at the UN General Assembly.

President Truman was a firm advocate of “Fire and Fury” against the people of both North and South Korea.

What most people in America do not know –and which is particularly relevant when assessing the alleged “threats” of the DPRK to World peace– is that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of  US led bombings in the 1950s. US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s population was killed off over a three period of intensive bombings. Every single family in North Korea lost a loved one in the course of the Korean War.

Pyongyang 1953

The criminal bombings of Pyongyang in 1951 ordered by president Truman, were opposed by General Douglas MacArthur who was commander of allied forces in Korea:

“A defiant Douglas MacArthur appeared before Congress and spoke of human suffering so horrifying that his parting glimpse of it caused him to vomit.

“I have never seen such devastation,” the general told members of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. At that time, in May 1951, the Korean War was less than a year old. Casualties, he estimated, were already north of 1 million.

“I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man,” he added, “and it just curdled my stomach.”  (quoted by the Washington Post, August 10, 2017)

The DPRK’s Foreign Minister’s Cable to the United Nations Security Council confirms the nature of the atrocities committed by the US against the people of North Korea under the banner of the United Nations:

See original below.

“ON JANUARY 3 AT 10:30 AM, AN ARMADE OF 82 FLYING FORTRESSES LOOSED THEIR DEATH-DEALING LOAD ON THE CITY OF PYONGYANG. …

HUNDREDS OF TONS OF BOMBS AND INCENDIARY COMPOUND WERE SIMULTANEOUSLY DROPPED THROUGHOUT THE CITY, CAUSING ANNIHILATING FIRES. IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE EXTINCTION OF THESE FIRES, THE TRANS-ATLANTIC BARBARIANS BOMBED THE CITY WITH DELAYED-ACTION HIGH-EXPLOSIVE BOMBS WHICH EXPLODED AT INTERVALS THROUGHOUT FOR A WHOLE DAY, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE PEOPLE TO COME OUT ONTO THE STREETS. THE ENTIRE CITY HAS NOW BEEN BURNING, ENVELOPED IN FLAMES, FOR TWO DAYS. BY THE SECOND DAY 7,812 CIVILIANS’ HOUSES HAD BEEN BURNT DOWN. THE AMERICANS WERE WELL AWARE THAT THERE WERE NO MILITARY OBJECTIVES LEFT IN PYONGYANG. …

THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS OF PYONGYANG KILLED BY BOMB SPLINTERS, BURNT ALIVE AND SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE IS INCALCULABLE, SINCE NO COMPUTATION IS POSSIBLE. SOME FIFTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS REMAIN IN THE CITY, WHICH BEFORE THE WAR HAD A POPULATION OF FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND.”

It was all for a good cause, the fight against “evil communism”. The doctrine of fighting communism acted as a powerful ideological instrument during the Cold War era.

Our message to US military servicemen and women at all levels of the military hierarchy.

Reverse the course of History. Abandon the Battle Field, Refuse to Fight!

For complete text of the cable addressed to the UN Security Council click UN Repository

 

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First published by Global Research in March 2012. Edits to the title, ISIS and terminology updates

Al Qaeda-ISIS concepts, repeated ad nauseam have potentially traumatic impacts on the human mind and the ability of normal human beings to analyze and comprehend the “real outside World” of war, politics and the economic crisis. Al Qaeda constitutes a stylized, fake and almost folkloric abstraction of terrorism, which permeates the inner consciousness of millions of people around the World.

*      *      *

There is something disturbing in the nature of post 9/11 public discourse. Incessantly, on a daily basis, Al Qaeda is referred to by the Western media, government officials, members of the US Congress, Wall Street analysts, etc. as an underlying cause of numerous World events. Occurences of a significant political, social or strategic nature –including the US presidential elections campaign– are routinely categorized by referring to Al Qaeda, the alleged architect of the September 11 2001 attacks.

What is striking is the extent of media coverage of  “Al Qaeda related events”, not to mention the mountains of op eds and  authoritative “analysis” pertaining to “terror events” in different part of the World.

America’s War on Terrorism,by Michel Chossudovsky (click image to order book from Global Research)

Routine mention of Al Qaeda [ISIS] “fanatics”, “jihadists”, etc. has become –from a news standpoint– trendy and fashionable. A Worldwide ritual of authoritative media reporting has unfolded.  [On May 20, 2016, ISIS had 225 million entries, the “Islamic State” has 46 million entries, Daesh 18 million on Google.]

A panoply of Al Qaeda [and ISIS/ISIL Daesh] related events and circumstances is presented to public opinion on a daily basis. These include terrorist threats, warnings and attacks, police investigations, insurgencies and counter-insurgencies, country-level regime change, social conflict, sectarian violence, racism, religious divisions, Islamic thought, Western values, etc.

In turn, Al Qaeda – War on Terrorism rhetoric permeates political discourse at all levels of government, including bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill, in committees of the House and the Senate, at the British House of Commons, and, lest we forget, at the United Nations Security Council.

All of these complex Al Qaeda related occurrences are explained –by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks under a single blanket “bad guys” heading, in which Al Qaeda is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as “the cause” of numerous terror events around the World.

Human Consciousness: Al Qaeda and the Human Mindset

How does the daily bombardment of Al Qaeda related concepts and images, funnelled into the Western news chain and on network TV, affect the human mindset?

Al Qaeda concepts, repeated ad nauseam have potentially traumatic impacts on the human mind and the ability of normal human beings to analyze and comprehend the “real outside World” of war, politics and the economic crisis.

What is at stake is human consciousness and comprehension based on concepts and facts.

With Al Qaeda, however, there are no verifiable “facts” and “concepts”, because Al Qaeda has evolved into a media mythology, a legend, an invented ideological construct, used as an unsubtle tool of media disinformation and war propaganda.

Al Qaeda constitutes a stylized, fake and almost folkloric abstraction of terrorism, which permeates the inner consciousness of millions of people around the World.

Reference to Al Qaeda has become a dogma, a belief, which most people espouse unconditionally.

Is this political indoctrination? Is it brain-washing? If so what is the underlying objective?

People’s capacity to independently analyse World events, as well as address causal relationships pertaining to politics and society, is significantly impaired. That is the objective!

The routine use of Al Qaeda to generate blanket explanations of complex political events is meant to create confusion. It prevents people from thinking.

The American Inquisition

The notion of Al Qaeda [ISIS]  –“the outside enemy” which threatens Western civilization– is predicated on “an inquisitorial doctrine”. The Homeland Security State personifies what might be described as the “American Inquisition”.

As in the case of the Spanish Inquisition, the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) consensus cannot be challenged.

Reference to  Al Qaeda as a central paradigm used to understand the world we live in is ultimately intended to instil fear and insecurity. In the words of Britain’s comedy group Monty Python:  “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope….”

Unconditional submission to the Homeland Security State in today’s America is not dissimilar from the process of “fanatical devotion” prevailing under the Spanish feudal order. What is at stake in our contemporary World, in the words of Monty Python, is “fear and surprise” and the unconditional compliance to the “ruthless efficiency” of a dominant political, economic and military order.

The American Inquisition redefines the entire legal and judicial framework. Torture and political assassinations are no longer a covert activity as in the heyday of the CIA, removed from the public eye. They are “legal”, they are the object of extensive news coverage, they are sanctioned by the White House and the US Congress. Conversely, those who dare confront the “War on Terrorism” consensus are branded as “terrorists”. Upholding true justice by challenging America’s “holy crusade” against Al Qaeda becomes an outright criminal act.

A new threshold in US legal history has unfolded. High ranking officials within the State and the Military no longer need to camouflage their crimes. In fact, quite the opposite. Torture of Al Qaeda suspects is a public policy with a humanitarian mandate:

“Yes we did order torture, but it isn’t really torture, its not really war, because these people are terrorists and “we must fight evil”. And the way to uphold democracy and freedom is to “go after the bad guys”, “wage war on the terrorists”. “Its in the public interest.”

Moreover, anybody who questions our definition of “fighting evil” (which of course includes torture, political assassination and concentration camps directed against “the bad guys”) is by our definition also “evil” and can be arrested, tortured and sent to concentration camps. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Spanish Inquisition, Made in America, Global Research, 2004,

Al Qaeda is presented to public opinion as the terror instrument of “radical Islam”, which threatens the Homeland, undermining Western civilization and moral values. Everybody must comply; nobody dares to question “the American Inquisition”.

Al Qaeda and the “Big Lie”

The Al Qaeda Legend sustains the “Big Lie”. It turns realities upside down. It creates both a perception and a belief which cannot be questioned. It permeates US foreign policy and the conduct of international diplomacy. Al Qaeda and the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) constitute a central component of US military doctrine.

“Al Qaeda did this”, “Al Qaeda did that” statements provide a simple and trouble-free elucidation of complex events, while disguising and concealing “the real reasons”, namely the unspoken and forbidden truth behind these events.

Nobody seems to take the time to examine “who is this elusive enemy Al Qaeda”, which has succeeded, with limited military means, in confronting America’s multibillion dollar war machine.

The Al Qaeda blanket explanation not only overshadows the normal channels of human comprehension, it also precludes a move to the next step of rational explanation, which consists in saying: if Al Qaeda is “the cause” as stated in numerous press reports, then: “What is Al Qaeda?” and “Who is behind Al Qaeda?”

But these are questions which in the post 9/11 era are rarely addressed. To investigate “Who is behind the terrorists” has become unmentionable, a political taboo, despite evidence pertaining to the historical role of  US intelligence in creating and promoting the Islamic jihad.

Today, if Al Qaeda were to be revealed for what it really is, –e.g  in the context of a specific false flag terrorist attack– the legitimacy of the “war on terrorism” and those officials in high office who support it, would collapse like a deck of cards.

While the identity of Al Qaeda is fully documented, including its links to US intelligence, the truth has not trickled down to the mainstay of public opinion.

Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives

Al Qaeda and the Role of Western Intelligence

Acknowledged by the CIA, the Islamic jihad  “was” a US sponsored “intelligence asset” going back to the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989).

The intelligence community admits, yes we created the Mujahideen, we set up the training camps and the koranic schools together with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Acting on behalf of the CIA, the ISI was involved in the recruitment, training and religious indoctrination of the “jihadists” described by President Ronald Reagan as “Freedom Fighters”.

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 to the present, various Islamic fundamentalist organizations became de facto instruments of US intelligence and more generally of the US-NATO-Israel military alliance.

Unknown to the American public, the US spread the teachings of the Islamic jihad in textbooks “Made in America”, developed at the University of Nebraska:

… the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.

The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..

The White House defends the religious content, saying that Islamic principles permeate Afghan culture and that the books “are fully in compliance with U.S. law and policy.” Legal experts, however, question whether the books violate a constitutional ban on using tax dollars to promote religion.

… AID officials said in interviews that they left the Islamic materials intact because they feared Afghan educators would reject books lacking a strong dose of Muslim thought. The agency removed its logo and any mention of the U.S. government from the religious texts, AID spokeswoman Kathryn Stratos said.

“It’s not AID’s policy to support religious instruction,” Stratos said. “But we went ahead with this project because the primary purpose . . . is to educate children, which is predominantly a secular activity.”

… Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtun, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska -Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $ 51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994.” (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)



Who is behind Al Qaeda,  documented in Michel Chossudovsky’s 2005 international best-seller
Order Online directly from Global Research Publishers

America’s War on Terrorism
by Michel Chossudovsky

 

First published by GR in May 2017

“ON JANUARY 3 [1951] AT 10:30 AM, AN ARMADE OF 82 FLYING FORTRESSES LOOSED THEIR DEATH-DEALING LOAD ON THE CITY OF PYONGYANG. … 

“THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS OF PYONGYANG KILLED BY BOMB SPLINTERS, BURNT ALIVE AND SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE IS INCALCULABLE, SINCE NO COMPUTATION IS POSSIBLE. SOME FIFTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS REMAIN IN THE CITY, WHICH BEFORE THE WAR HAD A POPULATION OF FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND.” [UN Repository]

With tension ever mounting in the Korean peninsular, all the higher every year with US bombers conducting annual drills over South Korea within direct strike range of North Korea, it is notable and deeply regrettable the West has lost all sight and memory of the enormous destruction inflicted on the Korean people in the Korean War 1950-53.

How can we ever in the West begin to understand the large scale militarisation of North Korea if, in the US and UK in particular, political assessment and judgement takes no account of Korean history?

North Korea was as a matter of historical fact through the Korean war carpet bombed for three years by US bombers. There was, after the first months of the war, mounting air defences in northern most North Korea bordering China, including Russian MIG fighters but, none-the-less, US B29s bombing was for most of the war free-range over the whole peninsular.

To quote from testament from both sides,

“The US airforce destroyed every town and village in north Korea”. “The destruction was enormous”.

In the  words of Air Force General Curtis LeMay:

“We burned down every town in North Korea …. over a period of three years or so we killed – what – 20 percent of the population”.

And this including the very worst of it large scale use of napalm. To quote Senator John Glenn, then a major in the US air force before becoming an astronaut:

“We did a lot of napalm work dropping fuel tanks loaded with napalm, flying in low, called a Nape Scrape”.

Napalm, jellied petroleum and phosphorus. No-one likes to spell it out but people quite simply burn to death.

In all some 600,000 tons of bombs were dropped on the towns and villages and cities of the country. That is well over a million concussion bombs, along with 40 million gallons of high octane napalm. And to add to this, in the final stages of the war, mass bombing (1,514 sorties) of Sui-ho hydro-electric and irrigation dams (the world’s fourth largest) on the Yalu River then flooding and destroying huge areas of northern farmland and crops.

“Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.10 Only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine”. [Asia-Pacific Journal 2009]

In the words of Professor Charles Armstrong, Director of the Centre for Korean Research, Columbia University:

“The physical destruction and loss of life on both sides was almost beyond comprehension, but the North suffered the greater damage, due to American saturation bombing and the scorched-earth policy of the retreating UN forces”.

That then is the horror of the brutal Korean war. Over two million Korean civilians died including many tens of thousands of children. On US pilot testament destruction was “indiscriminate”.

Is it then any wonder North Korea turns out a highly militarised state, deeply loathing the “Yankees”, raining bombs and death and destruction on their towns and villages for three years ?

No-one can deny the one-party state authoritarianism of North Korea but then we surely have to ask how much of this huge militarisation has been created by the horrors of warfare, all the more so large scale bombing impacting on civilian populations. As also not to forget, until the end of WW2, Korea suffered 35 long years of brutal occupation by the Japanese. Over one million forced deportations, suppression of Korean culture and identity, deaths in Japanese labour camps estimated at over half a million.

In all Korea was a long suffering country for many decades, the very worst not forgotten by the Koreans the enormous destructive US bombing ’50-53.

International Perspective – East or West trauma is not forgotten.

The US, and New York in particular, were devastated by the attack on the Trade Centre towers in 2001. Terrible shock traumatic destruction with 2,996 deaths and 6,000 injuries. And that huge and deep trauma living on to this day and for whole lifetimes in those directly affected, all who lived and live in New York, and indeed in the consciousness of the whole of the US, and the world.

But the West forgets and is oblivous or indifferent to the suffering inflicted on the Korean people 1950-53. And that is bombing and destruction and loss of life of many thousands of Trade Centre attacks. Not loss of life from air attacks on armies in combat but bombing of civilian populations in towns and cities to “terrorise” a country into submission. That was, on all the evidence, in the face of huge Chinese troop influx into the peninsular, US military policy.

It is then impossible to see how it could be clearer, for those who will look, the actions of the US and West have played a hugely determinate role in the creation of the deeply alarming militarised state of Korea the West not only condemns but has listed (George W. Bush 2002) as part of an “Axis of Evil”. On this view not a breath of recognition that three years of carpet bombing, following 35 years of repression under Japanese occupation, surely provides an understandable rationale why any country would become formidably militarised. Defence of the country the all-consuming priority.   

For the people of North Korea the mass killing and destruction of civilians a holocaust against their people. For them, United States enormous war crimes and atrocities never brought to any court of justice.

Instead the hugely admired US East Asia commanding general of the time, General Douglas MacArthur, returned home in 1951 to a huge New York ticker-tape heroes welcome. Not condemnation from the US public (as arose in the Vietnam war) but celebration. But then the general US public of that time new very little of the real consequences of the war on the country. For instance that MacArthur and many in higher US military circles advocated dropping atomic bombs on Chinese cities to get the war over and unite Korea.

“His [MacArthur’s) plan was to drop between 30 and 50 atomic bombs-strung across the neck of Manchuria, and spread behind us, from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea – a belt of radioactive cobalt for at least 60 years there would be no invasion of Korea from the North.” [B-29s Over Korea – Wayland Mayo]

History Repeating – self same military mind-sets gathering again.

And now we have history on the brink of repeating yet again. The whole situation enormously high risk and dangerous with Secretary of State Tillerson indicating in his view, as he did in discussion April 12th with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov over Crimea and Syria, “history is not the issue”. What matters, as Tillerson said, is dealing with “current threats”. In a stroke Mr Tillerson excluding all relevance of historical causes and motivations why North Korea is so vehemently anti-American.

Foreign Minister Sergy Lavrov:

“As far as Syria is concerned and Bashar al-Assad, we talked today about the history, and Rex [Tillerson] said that he was a new man and is not interested so much in history; he wants to deal with today’s problems. But the world is so constructed that unless we look at what’s happened in the past, we won’t be able to deal with the present”. [US Dept of State – Lavrov-Tillerson meeting 12th April]

Since then the Secretary of State has made clear, in the UN Security Council 28th April, “the time for strategic patience is over”. And all the more deeply alarming telling the Council there will be “no negotiations” until North Korea “first” takes “concrete steps” to shut down all missile activity and “de-nuclearise”. For Tillerson, and UK Foreign Secretary Johnson, in considerable contrast to the views of China and Russia, the reasons why North Korea has become one of the most militarised states in the world are not relevant. The Korean War with 3 million dead not counted in contemporary political calculus.

And so it is the West makes no effort to understand another nation’s history then history repeats. But then in the US and in the UK the Korean war is known as the Forgotten War. Forgotten for one reason as in burying memory of large scale war crimes against civilian populations. Horror for civilian population, horror for combatant troops. The West in so many ways in denial of a war that is very distant “long ago” but then, for the Koreans, as alive today as terror and fear of the US and West as sixty years ago.

And from the side of the West, to face up to responsibility for the huge numbers of civilian casualties from bombing of Korean towns and cities as US governments would, as at Nuremberg, face the self same charges the West brought against the Nazi regime after WW2: Crimes against Humanity. War crimes against civilian populations.

Understanding the other side – understanding ourselves.

Such Human Rights courts of justice not on any agenda anywhere in the West a very good start to ease tension would be, as is being called for by China and Russia, high level meetings between all major parties. And in this respect, at the heart of the whole current tension, it is of the deepest concern that in the West it is rarely brought to light that the US has repeatedly turned down North Korea offers to end nuclear weapon development.

Image result for nuclear north korea

That will come as a shock to many but negotiation records show that offers have been put forward by North Korea back to the Clinton administration in the 1990s but then rejected by the US as, in return, North Korea asks that the US and South Korea end annual large-scale “warfare exercises” on their borders. The most recent offer 2015:

“North Korea announces offer to suspend nuclear testing …in exchange for the United States and South Korea calling off annual joint-military exercises slated for spring 2015. The United States rejects the offer.” [Arms Control Association]

These offers rejected US military build-up as of May 2017 in warfare exercises includes the newly installed US anti-missile THAAD system, low flying bombers within minutes’ strike range of North Korea, together with an aircraft carrier battle fleet, including who knows how many nuclear strike submarines, in Korean off-shore waters.

North Korea finds all this US “menace”, as both China and Russia have repeatedly emphasised, hugely threatening (as indeed do the Chinese). And one would think, if it was our own country, terrifying. For UK just compare the 1940 blitz with cities across the UK from London to Liverpool ablaze. British people do not forget. And for the US, missiles on Cuba in the early ’60s and that very nearly leading to world nuclear war. But on the North Korean offers to de-nuclearise the US repeatedly refuses quid pro quo de-escalation with parallel negotiations.

On scores for belligerence the US, and others in the West including the UK, could surely not be higher. On four counts : enormous destruction of North Korean civilian population by vastly superior US air forces 1950-53 (albeit bannered under the “UN”) ; repeated US refusal of North Korea’s offers of quid pro quo de-esculation of forces on both sides; US bringing even more over-whelming military force into South Korea and off-shore seas ; US and UK calling for and indeed demanding, through the UN, imposition of more and more powerful sanctions, most crippling closing international access to sources of financial exchange. This then closing off (blockading) routes for trade driving North Korea into deeper isolation and poverty.

Threats mounting on both sides, racking up more and more tension and fear. As in all conflicts so much mirroring, of behaviour, both sides then condemning the other. Defence and survival on one side seen by the other as threat and belligerence. In the case of North Korea desperation leading who knows where.

The enormous tragedy for Korea – for all Korean people.

In all an enormous tragedy for all Koreans. Bitterly and deeply ironically both sides in Korea want to unite, as one Korea. Huge loss of life and huge casualties, three years of war with estimates of over three million dead, both sides fighting to “unite their country”, only to end up summer 1953 exactly where they started on the 38th parallel. Such utter futility. The pity and insanity of war at its most tragic.

As matters stand now, with increasingly intense US and South Korean military exercises each year, in the face of ever increasing North Korean nuclear strike capacity, the latest missile launch 14th May getting closer to a full-fledged long range ICBM strike capability, the whole situation is clearly becoming progressively more precarious year by year. High level careful communication is clearly needed, as repeatedly promoted by the Chinese. Not warships and missiles, from either side, ending up mirroring each other into destruction. With tensions ever mounting, it is then encouraging that newly elected South Korean president , President Moon Jae-in, wants to talk with the North. And it is understood wants to see the THAAD missile system removed.

And for the North Koreans, from the Western view, however hollow we view their society, however much it appears or indeed is a sham, the people clearly have enormous pride. In so many ways (the great buildings in Pyongyang, military parades, and missiles) showing to the world how much they have achieved, and that is achieved from ground zero 1953 total destruction of their country.

And this achievement in huge contest and rivalry, with powerful national jealousies, between North and South. The two sides the great misfortune to end up on the world’s most volatile tectonic plates between communism and capitalism. Both sides showcasing what their “side” has achieved: the South hosts the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, the North parades and launches missiles. This whole complex psychological cauldron is what the West needs to understand and respect.

Respect Fuche – self-reliance – the founding ideology of the country. However badly from the West we view the regime, to the country’s credit they have made huge and heroic and enormous progress providing universal education, health care, and housing, for their population. And that is universal and free health care and education up to university level. No massive student debts for North Korean students.  No sick and uninsured with no medical health care in this country. Their system has huge holes, as we do in the West, but its not all bad, unless we in the West will only see it that way : esse est percipi – thinking makes it so. There is much we might learn, if we negotiate, not wrack up mounting war menace and threats.

SOURCES:

Interviews and Transcripts

Korean War – Part 19 – Use of Napalm … Senator John Glenn – in 1950 a major in US Air Force : “We did a lot of napalm work … dropping fuel tanks loaded with napalm .. we call it a Nape Scrape” “You could strafe them, bomb them, napalm them. Quite a variety of weapons.

Korean War – Part 22 – bombing of North Korea .. the United States Air Force destroyed every town and city in Norht Korea. Kim Un Sun – factory worker – “Lets make bullets of revenge to give to the Americans”.

North Korea Remembers US War Crimes – what the West wants to forget … the view of North Korea : “Brutal atrocity of US Imperial Aggressors”.

Air Force General Curtis LeMay – “… we burned down every town in North Korea …”

Air&Space 2015 – How the Korean war almost went nuclear … Operation Hudson Harbor …

B-29s Over Korea – US Planned to A-Bomb N. Korea: [MaArthur’s] plan was to drop between 30 and 50 atomic bombs-strung across the neck of Manchuria, and spread behind us, from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea- a belt of radioactive cobalt for at least 60 years there would be no invasion of Korea from the North

Attacks on the Sui-ho Dam … the hydroelectric targets were subjected to attacks totalling 1,514 sorties.

Asia-Pacific Journal 2009: Professor Charles Armstrong “Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.10 Only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine”.

The Destruction and Reconstruction of North Korea – 2009: Professor Charles Armstrong, “The US Air Force estimated that North Korea’s destruction was proportionately greater than that of Japan in the Second World War, where the US had turned 64 major cities to rubble and used the atomic bomb to destroy two others. American planes dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea — that is, essentially on North Korea –including 32,557 tons of napalm”.
“The DPRK government never forgot the lesson of North Korea’s vulnerability to American air attack,…”

New York Times – Choe Sang-Hun – 2015: North Korea offers US Deal to Halt Nuclear Tests …

Arms Control Association – 2015: North Korea announces offer to suspend nuclear testing …in exchange for the United States and South Korea calling off annual joint-military exercises slated for spring 2015. The United States rejects the offer.

12th April 2017 Tillerson Lavrov Press Conference on Syria – Lavrov emphasises “historical context” – Tillerson dismisses history with emphasis on “current threats”.

US Dept of State – 12th April 2017 Tillerson Lavrov Transcript:  Foreign Ministr Lavrov : “As far as Syria is concerned and Bashar al-Assad, we talked today about the history, and Rex said that he was a new man and is not interested so much in history; he wants to deal with today’s problems. But the world is so constructed that unless we look at what’s happened in the past, we won’t be able to deal with the present”.

28th April 2017 – UN Security Council Meeting on Korea … full meeting.

US Dept of State – 28th April 2017 – Secretry Tillerson Statement to UN Security Council: “The policy of strategic patience is over”. Call for economic and financial isolation of DPRK. North Korea must take concrete steps to end illegal weapons programs before we can even consider talks.

NY Times – Choe Sang-Hun – 2nd May 2017 – US Antimissile System Goes Live in South Korea ….

CGTN – 2nd May 2017 – Us B-1B Lancer bombers fly over South Korea angering DPRK

Commentary and Analysis

2012 – Washing Post John Tirman : Why do we ignore the civilians killed in American wars? “Estimates of Korean war deaths …. widely believed to have taken 3 million lives, about half of them civilian.”

Global Research 2010 – Professor Michel Chossudovsky: “It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953.” “US Sources acknowledge 1.55 million civilian deaths in North Korea”.

Wikipedia Civilian Casualty Ratio – Korean War: The median total estimated Korean civilian deaths in the Korean War is 2,730,000.

March 2015 – Washington Post fomer reporter Blaine Harden: The US war crime North Korea won’t forget – “War reporters rarely mentioned civilian casualties from U.S. carpet-bombing. It is perhaps the most forgotten part of a forgotten war”. “People in the North feel backed into a corner and threatened”.

Boundless – World History – Korea under Japanese Rule: The 1910-1945 Japanese occupation of Korea was marked by the suppression of Korean culture and heritage, mass exploitation of the Korean labor, and violent repressions against the Korean independence movement.

Vox – Max Fisher August 2015 – Americans have forgotten what we did to North Korea:  You can glimpse both the humanitarian and political consequences in an alarmed diplomatic cable that North Korea’s foreign minister sent to the United Nations .. in January 1951 : THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS OF PYONGYANG KILLED BY BOMB SPLINTERS, BURNT ALIVE AND SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE IS INCALCULABLE, SINCE NO COMPUTATION IS POSSIBLE. SOME FIFTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS REMAIN IN THE CITY, WHICH BEFORE THE WAR HAD A POPULATION OF FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND.

UN DAG Repostory – source of 1951 diplomatic cable: English copy of cable.

Democracy Now – April 2017 – Noam Chomsky on North Korea ….”China and North Korea proposed to freeze the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons systems. And the U.S. instantly rejected it … ”

Jeff Williams – CGFTC Marine Electronics; BA (Philosophy) Sothampton University UK; PGCE post-grad teaching diploma London Uni. Career: marine radio Merchant Navy officer P&O cruise lines; college lecturer UK Merchant Navy college; Off-shore oil industry systems control engineer; Technical Editor consumer electronics industry. Now an independent writer – interests in environment, global politics, monetary system, off-shore tax havens.

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First published by GR in August 2017

Venezuela’s ongoing crisis is not driven by political ideology – it is not a battle of socialism versus capitalism or dictatorship versus democracy – it is the result of two centers of political power possessing opposing interests and colliding geopolitically.

The nation of Venezuela is currently under the control of Venezuelans who derive their support, wealth, and power from Venezuela itself – its people and its natural resource. This political order also receives aid and support from Venezuela’s economic and military partners both in the region and around the globe.

The opposition opposed to the current political order and seeking to supplant it represents foreign interests and more specifically, the United States and its European allies.

The Opposition is Pro-Washington, Not “Pro-Democracy”

As early as 2002, US-backed regime change targeting then Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, sought to violently overthrow Venezuela’s political order and replace it with one obedient to Washington. Current leaders of the opposition were not only involved in the 2002 failed coup, many are documented to have received political and financial support from the United States government ever since.

Maria Corina Machado, founder of Sumate, an alleged Venezuelan election monitoring group, funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), meeting with US President George Bush who presided over the failed coup attempt seeking to oust President Hugo Chavez. (Source: Land Destroyer Report)

This includes several founders of the opposition party, Primero Justicia (Justice First), including Leopoldo Lopez, Julio Borges, and Henrique Capriles Radonski. The latter of the three has been prominently featured in Western media coverage lately.

US State Department documents reveal that the department itself along with US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been providing Venezuela’s opposition with support.

This includes a  report titled, “Status of Capriles and Sumate Cases,” referring to the above mentioned Henrique Capriles Radonski and Sumate, a US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded front posing as an election monitor.

Currently, NED’s own website features an extensive list of activities it is engaged in within Venezuela’s borders. It includes leveraging human rights for political gain, electoral manipulation, building opposition fronts, and expanding pro-opposition media. While each activity is labelled with benign titles, it is clear that none of these activities are done impartially, and as State Department documents reveal, these activities are done specifically for the benefit of the US-backed opposition.

Wall Street and Washington’s Open Conspiracy 

After the death of Chavez in 2013, US-based special interests openly conspired to finally overturn the political order he built. Corporate-financier policy think tank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) created a checklist of US foreign policy goals it sought to achieve in Venezuela. They included:

  • The ouster of narco-kingpins who now hold senior posts in government
  • The respect for a constitutional succession
  • The adoption of meaningful electoral reforms to ensure a fair campaign environment and a transparent vote count in expected presidential elections; and
  • The dismantling of Iranian and Hezbollah networks in Venezuela

In reality, AEI is talking about dismantling entirely the obstacles that have prevented the US and the corporate-financier interests that direct it, from installing a client regime and extracting entirely Venezuela’s wealth while obstructing, even dismantling the geopolitical independence and influence achieved by Chavez in Venezuela, throughout South America, and beyond.

The think tank would continue by stating:

Now is the time for US diplomats to begin a quiet dialogue with key regional powers to explain the high cost of Chávez’s criminal regime, including the impact of chavista complicity with narcotraffickers who sow mayhem in Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. Perhaps then we can convince regional leaders to show solidarity with Venezuelan democrats who want to restore a commitment to the rule of law and to rebuild an economy that can be an engine for growth in South America.

By “Venezuelan democrats,” AEI means proxies created, funded, and directed by Washington, including Primero Justicia and the street mobs and paramilitary units it commands.

More recently, another Wall Street-Washington policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, would publish in a paper titled, “Venezuela: A path out of crisis,” a 5-point plan toward escalating the crisis in Venezuela (emphasis added):

1. The United States could expand its assistance to countries that until now have been dependent on Venezuelan oil, as a means to decrease regional support for and dependence on the Maduro government.

2. The United States could increase monetary assistance to credible civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations able to deliver food and medicines to Venezuelans. By doing so, the United States should make clear that international pressure aims to support democracy, not punish the Venezuelan people.

3. The United States could support efforts by the opposition in Venezuela to build an “off-ramp” that would split moderate elements of the government away from hardliners, encouraging the former to acquiesce to a transition to democracy by lowering their costs of exiting government.

4. The United States could coordinate with international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to offer financial incentives for holding free and fair elections in 2018, and for the opposition to unify and compete in those elections. Such coordination would also involve developing and publicizing a credible plan to restart Venezuela’s economy.

5. As a last resort, the United States could consider raising economic costs to the government through an expanded sanctions regime that aims to limit Venezuelan earnings from oil exports and block further financing. This policy is risky, given that the Maduro government would be able to more credibly shift blame for the economic crisis onto the United States, and should be accompanied by well-publicized efforts to deliver humanitarian aid through credible civil society and nongovernmental organizations.

While the Western media attempts to frame Venezuela’s crisis as a result of “socialism” and “dictatorship,” it is clear by reading the West’s own policy papers that it is owed instead to a systematic assault on Venezuela’s sociopolitical stability and economic viability, spanning decades.

Venezuela is not the first nation in South America that the United States has sought to overturn by undermining its economy.

Within the CIA’s own online archives under a section titled, “CIA Activities in Chile,” it is admitted that in the 1970s, similar tactics were used to undermine and overturn the government of Chile. It states specifically: (emphasis added):

According to the Church Committee report, in their meeting with CIA Director Richard Helms and Attorney General John Mitchell on 15 September 1970 President Nixon and his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, directed the CIA to prevent Allende from taking power. They were “not concerned [about the] risks involved,” according to Helms’ notes. In addition to political action, Nixon and Kissinger, according to Helms’s notes, ordered steps to “make the economy scream.” 

These Cold War attitudes persisted into the Pinochet era. After Pinochet came to power, senior policymakers appeared reluctant to criticize human rights violations, taking to task US diplomats urging greater attention to the problem. US military assistance and sales grew significantly during the years of greatest human rights abuses. According to a previously released Memorandum of Conversation, Kissinger in June 1976 indicated to Pinochet that the US Government was sympathetic to his regime, although Kissinger advised some progress on human rights in order to improve Chile’s image in the US Congress. 

Considering America’s extensive list of interventions, wars, and occupations it is currently involved in worldwide and the manner in which each was presented to the public – with ideology and humanitarian concerns used to manipulate public perception, and considering Venezuela’s opposition is a documented recipient of US support, it is clear that yet another intervention is under way, this time in South America.

Unipolar vs Multipolar

In a world moving toward multipolarism and greater decentralization on all levels, Venezuela’s collapse and a victory for Washington would undo an increasingly balanced distribution of geopolitical power – both in South and Central America, as well as across the world.

As a major oil producing nation, US control over its people and natural resources would further allow the US and its allies to manipulate energy prices toward achieving future goals – particularly in terms of encircling, isolating, and dismantling other centers of political power dependent on oil production for economic prosperity.

One needs not be a fan of “socialism” to understand that the ultimate outcome of Venezuela’s collapse will be a further concentration of power in Washington and Wall Street’s hands. Such power, regardless of whatever ideology it is superficially wielded behind, will always be abused. Regardless of the alleged form of government a nation may take, as long as it is a step away from unipolar globalization, it is a step in the right direction.

The crisis in Venezuela is not one of socialism versus capitalism or dictatorship versus democracy – it is one of hegemony versus national sovereignty, of centralized unipolar power versus an increasingly multipolar world.

A sovereign and independent Venezuela allowed to pursue its own destiny is one in which its own people will naturally seek to decentralize and distribute power. While the current government may not provide the ideal conditions to accomplish this, conditions under a US client regime – as US-wrecked Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq prove – would be significantly less ideal.

For geopolitical analysts, moving away from ideological talking points and examining the actual government and opposition, their interests, associations, and funding, as well as their base motives reveals a much simpler and consistent narrative, one that any analyst could discern, and a discernment that will stand the test of scrutiny and time. Those entrenched in left/right ideology risk being betrayed by the government’s floundering desperation and the true nature of an opposition that most certainly is not “capitalist” or “pro-democracy.”

All images in this article are from the author.

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Trump Is Trying to Make NAFTA Even Worse

October 15th, 2017 by Ethan Earle

Featured image: A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Logo. (Source: Nicoguaro / Wikimedia Commons)

First published by GR in July 2017

Many on the Left have been deeply critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since before it was fast-tracked into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. Now, President Donald Trump’s current plan to renegotiate NAFTA is poised to make the massive trade deal even worse.

In late May, a loose coalition of civil society groups gathered in Mexico City to discuss this upcoming renegotiation. Participants included the AFL-CIO, Canadian Labour Congress and over one hundred other labour, environmental, and immigrant rights organizations from across Mexico, the United States and Canada. The meeting produced a joint declaration opposing a Trump-led NAFTA renegotiation and marked the kickoff of the latest international campaign against free-trade deals that benefit corporations and political elites at the expense of workers, communities and our shared environment.

NAFTA’s legacy is marred by lost jobs, lower wages, increased inequality and a litany of environmentally destructive practices. While the people who gathered in Mexico City have long opposed NAFTA for its pro-corporate bent, a consensus emerged that President Trump and his team are cooking up something even worse.

Two questions follow from this judgment: What can we do to stop Trump, and how can we use the moment to challenge the powerful interests that he represents?

The Dangers of a Trump-led Renegotiation

Trump campaigned and won the U.S. presidential election in no small part due to his anti-free-trade positions. He galvanized millions of voters for whom the considerable promises of globalization have long since given way to the stark realities of rising inequality and declining living standards.

After assuming the presidency, Trump decided it was politically necessary to kill off the wildly neoliberal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to appease his popular base. This decision was met with dismay by nearly all big corporations and elites from both political parties.

But now, in an act of political judo, Trump is trying to use the same anti-establishment, pro-American rhetoric from his campaign to craft a neoliberal NAFTA renegotiation that will include everything demanded in the recently scuttled TPP – and more. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, as well as others in Trump’s administration, have been surprisingly straightforward about these intentions.

Source: Socialist Project

Formal notice of the intent to renegotiate was submitted to Congress on May 18. Following an obligatory 90-day “consultation period,” negotiations are expected to commence in the second half of August. A draft list of the Trump administration’s priorities, submitted to Congress in late March, gives us a window into what we should expect.

A Trump-led renegotiation will mean a strengthening of heinous Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms, which allow corporations to sue governments that “infringe” on profit-making opportunities, for example, by daring to introduce anti-tobacco legislation. It will mean stronger copyright and intellectual property laws, in case you’re not already spending enough on your medications. It will also mean further privatization of the internet, greater corporate control of e-commerce, and most likely a new broadside against net neutrality.

Meanwhile, “investor incentives” will increase the liberalization of capital flows and lead to the offshoring of many thousands of jobs, in the ongoing global race to find the most exploitative labour conditions possible. And, of course, this ceremony will be sealed with the ritual sacrifice of labour, human rights and environmental regulations in each of the three signatory countries.

And let us not forget that, while the TPP accounted for 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, NAFTA still represents approximately 25 per cent. In 1994, NAFTA set the standard for two decades of terrible international trade agreements, and power brokers across the world hope this renegotiation will restore business as usual and set a new standard for decades to come.

Given the power of the United States vis-à-vis its negotiating partners, this panorama might at first glance appear depressing. But we also should not forget the insurgent campaign of Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders, which brought together millions of people in opposition to these types of free trade deals. While there are major differences between Trump and Sanders voters, there is real agreement that these corporate-led deals are bad for ordinary people.

Herein lies a real political opportunity that absolutely terrifies elites on both sides of the aisle. Around the NAFTA renegotiation there exists a genuine possibility, in an otherwise badly fractured political landscape, for a bipartisan consensus against corporate and elite power.

Throwing Sand in the Gears

Knowing that the renegotiation of NAFTA may well die at the ballot box – just as TPP and TTIP were killed off by popular demand in the past year – the main goal for its proponents is to conclude talks as quickly as possible. This has been stated clearly by lead trade representatives in each of the three countries. Now, the first major challenge comes not from the United States, but from Mexico.

Mexican general elections are scheduled for July 2018, with primaries and the accompanying political jockeying beginning this fall. With President Enrique Peña Nieto’s approval ratings sinking below 20 per cent, the position of his “institutional revolutionary” PRI, which has dominated Mexican politics for nearly 100 years, is considered vulnerable.

The early frontrunner for the upcoming presidential race, popular former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has staked out a populist, anti-establishment position that places greater emphasis on labour and environmental rights, as well as national sovereignty. As his campaign advances, he is widely expected to take aim at a U.S.-led NAFTA renegotiation as a winning political wedge issue.

In this context, progressive groups opposed to a corporate-led NAFTA renegotiation must adopt the same strategy that was so successful in the battle against the TPP: throwing sand in the gears. While it was Trump who dealt the TPP its death blow, it was the hard work of progressive civil society that shed light on this secretive deal, slowed its advance and ultimately entangled it in the 2016 election – correctly anticipating that popular consensus would reject the agreement.

In Mexico, this aim can be achieved by emphasizing Trump’s calls to “build the wall,” as well as his racist characterizations of Mexicans as rapists, criminals and job stealers. It can be done by pounding the suddenly-vulnerable Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as a bunch of robber-baron elites who are looking for one last score before they are flushed from power.

In Canada, a similar strategy can be pursued by emphasizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tendencies towards a politics of symbolic resistance and substantive acquiescence. In this style of governance there exists a gap that civil society can exploit. Trudeau very much values his carefully cultivated public image, but Canadians have seen the material impacts of NAFTA on their country, and they now oppose the deal by a four-to-one margin.

In the United States, at least for now, the focus should be on the tremendous lack of transparency that has characterized early negotiations. 500 corporate trade advisors and TPP veterans are being actively consulted, while labour and civil society organizations remain completely shut out of the process. And of course, there is the historically unpopular figure of Trump himself.

As Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, has argued:

“Trump’s conflicts of interest and self-dealing opportunities with NAFTA renegotiation are not hypothetical; the sprawling Trump business empire has 14 Canadian and two Mexican investments. Some of Trump’s clothing line is made in Mexico. Trump won’t divest his business holdings or release his tax returns, so unless he reveals his full Mexican and Canadian business dealings, we won’t even know in whose interest these NAFTA talks are being conducted.”

Forging a New Progressive Consensus

These are some of the early strategic lines for opposing NAFTA and contesting a Trump-led renegotiation. But to build a more integral politics beyond mere opposition, it behooves us to go a step further. If you accept the argument that trade policy could become a fertile terrain for growing new coalitions, it is only by articulating positive alternatives that we will be able to make these coalitions take root.

We must begin with a political frame that creates space for Trump’s supporters without making any concessions around the xenophobic rhetoric that the President has thus far employed. This is not about Mexicans, or anybody else, stealing U.S. jobs. It is rather about big corporations and political elites excluding the rest of us – from all three countries – from our fair share of the pie.

To create this broad space for political convergence, we must demand an open consultation process. This requires that labour and climate justice groups, rank-and-file workers, immigrants, farmworkers, and small and mid-sized business owners have an opportunity to weigh in with their concerns. In addition to these formal consultations, civil society should help to amplify these voices of concern through people’s tribunals and other public hearings. And this input should form the basis of an alternative vision for cooperation between the three countries.

We should not meekly request that NAFTA’s unenforceable side agreements on labour and environmental standards be strengthened around the edges. Rather, we must demand that worker and climate justice in all three countries be built into the foundations of all subsequent commercial agreements.

In addition, we must call for the deeply unpopular ISDS mechanisms to be either eliminated or opened up so that community groups, individuals and governments can bring lawsuits against corporations for labour and environmental malfeasance. Consumer protection must replace corporate interests as the principal factor in the renegotiation of intellectual property laws, as well as the coming regulation of e-commerce. Investor incentives should be vanquished, and instead of simply requesting that we “buy (corporate) American,” we should demand that all three countries “buy union,” that they buy sustainably, and that they support local, social and solidarity economies when possible.

Prominent labourfair trade and environmental groups have outlined these and other demands in great detail. Crucially, these proposals are broadly popular with the majority of people in all three countries. The upcoming NAFTA fight thus presents an opportunity to deal a blow to Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and neoliberal blueprint – and to begin the hard work of forging a new progressive consensus.

Ethan Earle is a project manager for the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office. Follow him on Twitter at @EthanEarle. Originally published at InTheseTimes.com.

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Australia’s Climate Change Insurgent: Tony Abbott’s Crusade

October 15th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

He is the inimitable, true political ugliness, the bad boy with a mistimed punch. While not quite professorial in his lunacy (that honour will have to go to Pauline Hanson of One Nation, whose sincere bigotry remains pungent), he aspires to it with a greater sense of reason.

This Exocet missile of Australian politics continues to direct his power and magic into the vessels of the Turnbull government, hoping that his relevance will resume form. His victories, gained from the right wing of the Liberal-National coalition, have been significant, effectively trimming the efforts of the government.

Tony’s never so immaculate releases always tend to rumble. Before an audience at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London this week, Abbott was very clear:

“Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods.”[1]

The societies of now were certainly more “sophisticated” but for all that progress humans were still characteristically delusional, a superstitious lot “sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little effect.”

Environmentalism had become a dangerous dogma rather than an indispensable pursuit for a healthier earth.

“Environmentalism has managed to combine a post-socialistic instinct for big government with a post-Christian nostalgia for making sacrifices in a good cause.”

This was not all. A heated earth was something to relish not abhor.

“In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.”

In this calculus of death, Abbott’s point is distorting. True, cold is a natural killer of the infirm and elderly, and generally, more effective on current figures. But then again, excessive heat is set to catch up in its reaping potency.

According to the World Health Organisation, the middle of the century will see malaria, diarrhea, heat stress and malnutrition gathering up an extra 250,000 people a year.[2]

“Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.”

Abbott, in the true spirit of a climate insurgent, adopts a two pronged approach. Even if climate change was happening (which it’s not, being the science of “absolute crap” in his charming terms), it could hardly be a bad thing even if it was. Having looked at photographs of Manly beach over a century, he saw no signs of rising sea levels. (Such a scientifically inquiring mind!) But surely, a heated earth was far better than a frozen one?

Beneath the currents of the Abbott show was a sense that the science, and scientists, could not be trusted.

“The growing evidence that records have been adjusted, that the impact of urban heat islands have been downplayed, and that data sets have been slanted in order to fit the theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming does not make it false; but it should produce much caution about basing drastic action upon it.”

The coalition government’s response back in Australia was that Abbott had become a mind changer. If they were consulting the politician who greeted world leaders at the G20 summit in Brisbane in 2014, this was certainly the case. Then, as prime minister, Abbott felt duty bound to make the case that there was such a grave thing as climate change. Climate change scepticism was tantamount to Holocaust denial, and Abbott was playing along, so much so he endorsed the Paris Climate Agreement. But before his audience in Westminster, he suggested that he had always had doubts.

During the Turnbull tenure, Abbott has become the spear thrower for the climate change deniers, manoeuvring himself into territory that embraces both unalloyed radicals and resident nutters. There is much to admire about this suicidal tendency, which is purely political rather than scientific or environmental. It is the pursuit of self-interest and national interest, a view that suspects, combats and dismisses. Few Australian politicians could ever do it and get away with it.

The coalition government, however, risks being outflanked yet again. On Thursday night, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop vented on the ABC’s 7.30 Report, suggesting that the former PM had lost the plot.

“It is up to him to explain the differences between his opinion [as prime minister] and his opinion now.”[3]

In an effort to douse the flames of doubt now engulfing the ministry, Bishop insisted that “the important thing is the government’s position and under Prime Minister [Malcolm] Turnbull we are working hard to come up with a plan that delivers affordable and reliable energy that will meet with our international obligations.” A plan, in short, that did everything.

Prime Minister Turnbull had hoped that the Finkel Report would fireproof him against the next Abbott surge and finally put the climate change voodoo to bed. But the Abbott war against Turnbull is taking place in several theatres, all of which have shown Turnbull to be a modern Maginot line.

On climate, Turnbull’s embrace of the Finkel recommendations, largely because of sceptics within his own party, remain limited, centred on the idea of a Clean Energy Target Abbot regards with satanic scorn. Abandoning it will be Abbott’s prize, and a sign of a government gazing further over the precipice of electoral annihilation.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

Notes

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Today’s announcement of sanctions against the Maduro regime underscores our commitment to defending democracy and human rights around the world.

– Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs September 22, 2017 [1]

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

In the early 2000s, Left activists the world over looked to Venezuela and its charismatic Head of State Hugo Chavez, as championing a new model of “socialism for the 21st century” and a heroic ally in the resistance to the neoliberal economics sweeping much of the world and particularly the Global South in recent decades. [2][3]

Venezuela, once the heart and soul of the new Bolivarian Revolution, is today in chaos.

According to recent estimates from the International Monetary Fund’s most recent World Economic Outlook report, Venezuela’s rate of inflation has sky-rocketed over the last two years and is on track to reach 2300% by next year. Unemployment is closing in on 30 percent. New York City based Human Rights Watch, and press agencies like PBS, are reporting on a humanitarian crisis spurred on by shortages of food and medicine. [4][5][6]

Violence between opposition-led protesters and Venezuelan security forces has resulted in over 124 deaths and hundreds of injuries. [7]

The right-wing opposition within Venezuela’s National Assembly are blaming President Maduro for the country’s woes and are calling for his ouster. The governments of the US and Canada are likewise holding Maduro to task and have subjected the nation to targeted sanctions affecting key officials. [8][9]

President Maduro’s attempt to resolve these crises supposedly through the election of a National Constituent Assembly in July appears to have only further antagonized his critics at home and abroad.

All eyes are now on the October 15th regional elections. According to authoritative opinion polls, the opposition is expected to secure big wins on Sunday. A substantial deviation from such a result would likely be interpreted in some quarters as attributable to fraudulence of some kind (Russian-sponsored or otherwise).

For all their flaws, the governments of Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro represent an important node of regional resistance to the Anglo-American project for the corporate plunder of the South American continent. This reality provides vital context for US and Canadian condemnation of the Venezuelan government, as well as a necessary backdrop for this week’s Global Research New Hour radio program.

Lucas Koerner is based in Caracas and a staff writer for venezuelanalysis.com. In the first half hour, he provides a local perspective of the rationale behind the National Constituent Assembly vote, the opposition protests, and the prospects of further destabilization of the country leading to another coup.

We next hear from Julia Buxton. A Professor of Comparative Politics at the Central European University’s School of Public Policy and Senior Research Associate at the Global Drug Policy Observatory, Swansea University Buxton is a specialist on Latin America and an expert on Venezuela. This interview, recorded in September at the University of Manitoba, provides some background on the evolution of Venezuelan politics over the past two decades, including the role of Chavez himself, the failure to address corruption and social violence in its program of progressive economic and restorative change, the role of the US and agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy in sabotaging the Venezuelan project, and the political and economic consequences of the country’s strategic alliances with China.

Finally, we hear from Henry Heller. He is a Winnipeg-based scholar and professor at the University of Manitoba’s Department of History. In the final conversation of the hour, Professor Heller talks about the sanctions against Venezuela recently announced by the Canadian government, and the true motivations behind it. He also talks about the public discussion he is co-organizing on Neoliberalism and Revolt in Latin America, to take place the evening of October 14th at Broadway Disciples United Church (396 Broadway Ave.) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca . The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in everyThursday at 6pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

Radio station CFUV 101.9FM based at the University of Victoria airs the Global Research News Hour every Sunday from 7 to 8am PT.

CORTES COMMUNITY RADIO CKTZ  89.5 out of Manson’s Landing, B.C airs the show Tuesday mornings at 10am Pacific time.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 6am pacific time.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 10am.

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at www.caperradio.ca

Notes:

  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2017/09/canada_imposes_sanctionsonmaduroregimeinvenezuela.html
  2. http://www.truth-out.org/archive/component/k2/item/52038:hugo-chavez-gets-heros-welcome-at-world-social-forum
  3. https://www.globalresearch.ca/venezuela-world-social-forum-chavez-calls-for-socialism-or-death/1847
  4. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-10/imf-sees-venezuelan-inflation-rate-rising-beyond-2-300-in-2018
  5. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/venezuelans-suffer-deadly-scarcity-food-medicine/
  6. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/venezuela#16e9b9
  7. https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Heres-Your-Guide-to-Understanding-Protest-Deaths-in-Venezuela-20170422-0016.html
  8. https://daliaresearch.com/venezuelans-blame-maduro-for-economy/
  9. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/canada-venezuela-sanctions-1.4303663

 

Video: The Reproduction of Real Life, The Privatization of Politics

October 14th, 2017 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

From political and social chaos to economic instability and global warfare, the crises created by the privatisation of politics are increasingly spinning out of control.

Today on the GRTV Feature Interview, Michel Chossudovsky examines how all of these crises are converging on one point: the systematic destruction of the “Reproduction of Real Life”.

Politics is privatized.

When the State is privatized, the societal project is undermined and eventually destroyed.

Civilization is collapsing and the Reproduction of Real life is impaired. 

Video


Order Directly from Global Research (click front cover)

The Globalization of War, America’s “Long War” against Humanity

By Michel Chossudovsky

America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 era is the “Globalization of War” whereby the U.S.-NATO military machine —coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world. The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.

This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history.

It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

The ultimate objective is World conquest under the cloak of “human rights” and “Western democracy”.

REVIEWS:

“Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the most realistic of all foreign policy commentators. He is a model of integrity in analysis, his book provides an honest appraisal of the extreme danger that U.S. hegemonic neoconservatism poses to life on earth.”

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury

““The Globalization of War” comprises war on two fronts: those countries that can either be “bought” or destabilized. In other cases, insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit U.S. military intervention. Michel Chossudovsky’s book is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair.”

Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence

“Michel Chossudovsky describes globalization as a hegemonic weapon that empowers the financial elites and enslaves 99 percent of the world’s population.

“The Globalization of War” is diplomatic dynamite – and the fuse is burning rapidly.”

Michael Carmichael, President, the Planetary Movement

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A Pew poll published on May 2nd was headlined “Why people are rich and poor: Republicans and Democrats have very different views”, and it reported that, “Most Republicans link a person’s financial standing to their own hard work – or the lack of it. Most Democrats say that whether someone is rich or poor is more attributable to circumstances beyond their control.” The partisan difference on this issue was stark: “By about three-to-one (66% to 21%), Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say hard work, rather than a person’s advantages, has more to do with why someone is rich. By nearly as wide a margin, Democrats and Democratic leaners say the opposite: 60% say a person is rich because they had more advantages than others, while just 29% say it is because they have worked harder.”

So, I decided to look at the data regarding this question.

Pew itself had published evidence about this matter, on 7 August 2008, under the title “Upward Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States”, and noted in their summary, that:

• Men experience sharply higher rates of upward economic mobility than women.

• Blacks experience dramatically less upward economic mobility than whites.

• Rates of upward economic mobility are highest for white men, followed by white women, black men and, finally, black women.

For example, the report said, “women born to parents in the fourth and top quintiles [richest 40%] are more than twice as likely as men to fall to the bottom quintile [poorest 20%].” In other words: upper-income girls in America are “more than twice as likely as” upper-income boys are, to become poor adults. 

And: “Only 21 percent of [Blacks] who start in the top income quintile remain there as adults.” By contrast, for Whites, the latter figure is not “21 percent,” but instead “39 percent of the children in [White] families in the top income quintile remain in the top quintile” as adults. That’s almost twice the percentage (39% as compared to 21%) who stay rich as adults. Thus, rich-born Blacks have a much more precarious financial future (almost twice as precarious), than do rich-born Whites, and a generally similar situation pertains also for girls as compared to boys: the girls have a much more precarious financial situation than do the boys.

Of course, whether a person is or isn’t a male, or a White, are obviously “circumstances beyond their control.”

The linked 48-page report there, also titled “Upward Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States”, was written by Pew’s Dr. Bhashkar Mazumder, who is one of the top experts concerning U.S. economic mobility, and he notes that this study is the first ever to include a crucial set of data that’s called the “National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort (NLSY),” which had been neglected by most previous studies “despite having several attractive features,” which Mazumder then listed. So, his was the most comprehensive study until at least 2008.

The results, from combining the NLSY data with other data, are:

Consistent with the previous findings of the Economic Mobility Project, the NLSY shows strong “stickiness” in both the bottom and top quintiles of the income distribution. A sizeable number of children who grew up in the bottom fifth remained there as adults, and the same was true of those who grew up in the top fifth. Overall, fewer than 40 percent of individuals who start in the bottom half of the income distribution move to the top half of the distribution as adults.

That last statement is quite striking. If, instead, that finding had been “Overall, 50 percent of individuals who start in the bottom half of the income distribution move to the top half of the distribution as adults,” it would be meaning: half of the individuals who start in the botton half, rise from the bottom half into the top half as adults. And, yet, even that doesn’t seem to be anything like the American dream (of being ‘the equal-opportunity society’), though it’s better than the reality. The actual finding was that “fewer than 40 percent of individuals who start in the bottom half” rise. On page 18 of the pdf is given the racial breakdown of this particular finding: “While 46 percent of whites who are born to parents below the median will surpass the median [the average], the comparable figure for blacks is only 22 percent.” So: even for Whites, the overall U.S. is a somewhat classist society; but, for Blacks, U.S. class-rigidity is outright depressing. And, both girls and Blacks face especially precarious financial lifetime prospects, as compared to boys and to Whites.

Obviously, equal opportunity is a myth in the United States. This doesn’t come from me — it comes from the data. Republicans are up against the data, when they deny that “whether someone is rich or poor is more attributable to circumstances beyond their control” than it is to “their own hard work.” In fact, the data make obvious that the reality is the opposite of what Republicans are assuming — the data show that in order for an American child to have a rich adulthood, that child is going to have to work much harder if it’s a Black or a girl, than if it’s a White or a boy. This is America’s reality, stripping away the very-predominantly-Republican (but more generally the conservative) myth. The reasons why this is the case, aren’t necessarily entirely discrimination against Blacks and against girls; but, to explain such findings without acknowledging the fact that discrimination (prejudices, bigotries) constitutes a severe economic-and-justice problem in this country, and without acknowledging that this problem would need to be eliminated in order for the U.S. to become anything like what Republicans think America is (i.e., an equal-opportunity society), would be extremely unreasonable, under the existing circumstances, as shown in the data.

Furthermore, reader Will Dippel was kind enough to point out, in a comment to the present article’s posting at Washingtonsblog, that an August 2016 study, “The Ever-Growing Gap”, has found that during 1983-2013, wealth increased 85% among Whites, 69% among Latinos, and 27% among Blacks; so, the unequal-opportunity problem in America is rapidly getting even worse than it already is. The trend, in other words, is atrocious; and, so, Republicans’ downplaying of this problem is extremely destructive, in addition to being extremely unreasonable. 

23 August 2017 Quinnipiac poll asked Americans “How serious a problem do you think that prejudice against minority groups is in the United States today; a very serious problem, a somewhat serious problem, a not so serious problem, or not a problem at all?” 76% of Democrats said “Very serious.” 21% of Republicans did. 26% of Republicans said “Not so serious.” 11% of them even said “Not at all” serious. (Those same respective figures amongst Democrats were only 4% and 1%.) Republicans are thus starkly oblivious to the glaring inequality-of-opportunity problems in the United States; and, so, Republicans’ economic-and-justice proposals ignore an enormous part of American reality.

On 10 June 2014, Carter C. Price, at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, headlined “Patterns of economic mobility in the United States”. It’s a really terrific report (48 pages long in its linked pdf version), which summarizes lots of previous studies related to this question. For example, the opening of this report shows that the physical location where a given person lives within the U.S. is a crucial determinant of that individual’s likelihood of being able to draw a higher annual income than that person’s parents did. Some parts in the U.S. have remarkably low class-rigidity, whereas other U.S. regions have stunningly high class-rigidity, more like a caste system than like any sort of equality-of-opportunity or democracy. 

Not only is the U.S. a nation of extremes, but it’s a nation where some areas are, regarding class-rigidity, close to embodying the Republican view of the entire nation (i.e., exhibit remarkably low class-rigidity), and other parts of the country are extremely not (i.e., they have exceptionally high class-rigidity). This disparity is made shockingly clear in the map of the U.S. shown on Price’s page 8 (and also — and more clearly — here). The biggest “extremely not” region (i.e., with very high class-rigidity) extends (and here is a U.S. map showing the outlines of each state) all the way from Michigan, down to Florida, and this area is also very wide, extending from Louisiana in its southwest, to Virginia in its northeast, thus encompassing both the rustbucket states plus almost all of Old Dixie.

But the largest “very yes” (i.e., with highly equal-opportunity) region, where the traditional American dream of intergenerational mobility is almost a reality, extends from the Dakotas and Minnesota, down through Nebraska and Iowa, to Kansas. Remarkably, both of those two large extreme regions, the “extremely not” and the “very yes,” are overall heavily Republican. Whereas in the “very yes” region, Republicans might be overwhelmingly endorsing the view that America is an equal-opportunity society on account of what they are seeing within their own states (which is remarkable equality of opportunity), there is simply a mystery as to why Republicans in the “extremely not” states (Old Dixie) are likewise overwhelmingly endorsing the view that America is an equal-opportunity society — because those Republicans live in areas that are anything-but equal-opportunity regions. (A hypothesis on this matter might be that Old Dixie happens also to be known as the Bible Belt — it’s famous for the residents’ extraordinarily high amount of faith; and this means that believing counter-factual things is especially easy for these individuals; empirical evidence is ignored if it conflicts with any item of faith; indeed, in their high-faith culture, faith is highly honored by them; and this could explain why Republicans in Old Dixie think that they live in an equal-opportunity society.)

Furthermore (p. 19 of the document), Price’s study summarizes “the work of University of Ottawa economist Miles Corak, who produced estimates for the intergenerational earnings elasticity for several countries.” Price’s report goes on:

According to Corak’s data, the United States has an intergenerational earnings elasticity of 0.47, indicating that nearly half of future earnings differences among children are associated with differences in parental earnings. This means that according to this measure the United States has much lower economic mobility than many developed economies in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and lower also than Pakistan. 

Using data from the World Bank on the Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, Corak found a strong inverse relationship between inequality and mobility [i.e., high mobility went with high equality]. Princeton economist and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger used the term the “Great Gatsby Curve” to describe this relationship.50 This curve has sparked a great deal of debate, particularly because the United States stands out among wealthy nations for its high inequality and low mobility. (See Figure 7.)  

(That boldface is added by me, to emphasize this glaring contrast between Republicans’ views of America, versus the data-demonstrated reality of America.)

Corak’s ranking of 22 countries on “Intergenerational earnings elasticity” is shown by Price (also on p. 19), and the U.S. rank there is #15. Numbers 1, 2, and 3, are Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Numbers 20-22 are Brazil, China, and Peru (at the very bottom). Immediately above the U.S. in the rankings is #14, Switzerland; and immediately below the U.S. is #16, Argentina. Virtually all of Western Europe, plus Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, ranked higher than the U.S. 

Applying a very different methodology, a January 2013 World Bank study, “Inequality of Opportunity, Income Inequality and Economic Mobility: Some International Comparisons”, ranked “Inequality of economic opportunity index” for 41 countries, and showed the U.S. as being #24 of the 41, with Norway #1, and Guatemala at the very bottom, as #41. The Index itself “ranges from 2% in Norway to 34% in Guatemala” and is around 18% for the U.S. So: the U.S. is somewhat midway between Norway and Guatemala. Republicans wouldn’t be able to find this America, on their conceptual map of the world. The real America is far from being number-one, in these global rankings

Thus: the U.S., as a whole, is not (even if it might have been in the past, at least for male Whites) an equal-opportunity society; it isn’t that even for male Whites — and definitely not at all, for Blacks, nor for women.

That doesn’t necessarily mean lazy Americans can become wealthy, but this also does happen to be true, and it’s true even around the world, not just in America: Lazy individuals can be, and sometimes are, extremely wealthy. The children of billionaires can become billionaires simply by inheriting it (or having it gifted) from their parents. That can happen even if the heir doesn’t work a day in his or her life. It can happen almost entirely by good luck. And, in order to become one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, inheritance from wealthy parents is all but essential. For examples of this important fact: 

Consider the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest individuals in 2010. 

#1 on the list was Mexico’s Carlos Slim. His father Julian was a real estate millionaire in Mexico City, and taught business and investments to all his children. Two sons of Carlos, who were Carlos Slim Domit and Patrick Slim Domit, led America Movil, which was the Western Hemisphere’s largest wireless carrier, and the largest subsidiary of Carlos’s own Grupo Carso conglomerate. A third son, Hector Slim Seade, led Telmex, Mexico’s phone monopoly.  

#2 was America’s Bill Gates, the son of William Gates II, cofounder of the giant law firm, Preston Gates & Ellis. 

#3 was America’s Warren Buffett, son of the wealthy stockbroker and congressman, Howard Buffett, who was one of the founders of America’s libertarian movement, and who had an article published in the second year’s edition of the founding magazine of libertarianism, New Individualist Review, in 1962, where the other writers included Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and Ralph Raico. Howard Buffett was also a founder of the John Birch Society. His son Warren felt politically alienated from him even as a child, but Warren’s focus on investing still was taught to him by his father. 

#4 was Indian Mukesh Ambani, son of the millionaire founder of Reliance Industries, Dhirubhai Ambani, of whose corporation Mukesh was now the Managing Director. 

#5 was Indian Lakshmi Mittal, son of Mohan Lal Mittal, the founder of the steel manufacturing company Nippon Denro Ispat. 

#6 was American Lawrence Ellison, who truly had risen from the middle class, after his adoptive father, Louis, made a fortune in Chicago real estate, and lost it during the Great Depression. 

#7 was Frenchman Bernard Arnault, founder of Ferret-Savinel Corp., renamed Ferinel Corp. The book From Predators to Icons, notes (p. 146) that his parents were extremely wealthy. 

#8 was Brazilian Eike Batista, whose father, Eliezer Battista da Silva, headed the Brazilian mining giant, Vale Corp. 

#9 was Spaniard Amancio Ortega Gaona, fashion magnate, who authentically came from a working-class background. 

#10 was German Karl Albrecht, founder of the Aldi supermarket chain, who also came from a working-class background.

So, of the world’s ten wealthiest individuals in 2010, 8 were sons of millionaire founders of major corporations and organizations. 1 was middle-class, and 2 were lower-class. And, the two lower-class ones were at the bottom of the top-ten list, and both of them weren’t Americans. Among the top 8, all but 1 (Ellison) were from extremely rich parents.

The advantage that being born to wealthy parents produces is enormous: The children of the very rich constitute only a tiny minority of the population, less than 1%, but they included, in 2010, 70% of the world’s ten wealthiest individuals. Eike Batista was typical of the group in proudly saying “All my businesses started from zero. … I made my own connections.” But even he had to admit, after turning $6 million he had made in gold-trading commissions into only $300,000 and then taking the gamble of buying a gold mine with it, “Thank God, the mine was idiot-proof. Only an extremely rich mine could have withstood all the mistakes I made. I was lucky.” So, the general formula for becoming extremely wealthy is to have the luck to be born rich, and then to have luck yourself in business (or else in the performance of your portfolio). Just being a “brilliant” businessperson works for very few, and it fails for virtually everyone else who is “brilliant.” But having wealthy parents who teach you their trade will increase enormously your likelihood of success. The top key to being on the world’s wealthiest list was to be born rich. (Many hard-working geniuses are like Mozart, or Turing, or van Gogh — they die poor.) Hereditary wealth was the most important feature (70%) of the top ten members of the global aristocracy, in 2010.

On 13 March 2013, Bloomberg News headlined “Brazil’s Richest Family Forging $13 Billion Niobium Dream”, and reported, “In 1965, U.S. Navy Admiral Arthur W. Radford persuaded Walther Moreira Salles, a Brazilian banker and former Ambassador to the U.S., to back a venture to produce something called niobium. At the time, there was no market or commercial use for the powdery element – just studies suggesting that tiny amounts of it could make steel stronger.” Ambassador Salles thus learned crucial information that had been discovered by U.S. Government researchers. “Moreira Salles decided to buy a majority stake in the operation, and the bet paid off. … The Moreira Salles family’s wealth is almost three times that of Eike Batista, who was Brazil’s No. 1 until November.” That good luck came to Ambassador Salles by way of information he had received from his friend, U.S. Navy Admiral Radford, whose profession had enabled him to know the great importance that Niobium would have. Knowing ‘the right people’ helps enormously. What children are raised with the most of that particular advantage, of ‘the right friends’? The children of the very wealthy, of course.

This inherited-wealth basis of the aristocracy has deep implications regarding public policy, and perhaps the most immediate one is estate taxes, which Republicans prefer to call “death taxes,” as if more than 1% of estates have any federal estate tax on them at all — which is not true. 99% of estates in the U.S. have no federal estate taxation of them at all. To call the estate tax, as Republicans do (because their heroes who are Republican aristocrats do), a ‘death tax’, is a lie (at least on the part of those aristocrats, even if not among the Republican mass who crave to become clones of their Party’s aristocrats, and who might thus more properly be called “suckers” than “liars,” though Republican aristocrats are indeed liars on this matter).

Taxes, of any sort, are, in the final analysis, ultimately about distributing the burden of financing government. Should laborers pay taxes at a higher rate than heirs, as they now do? Heirs don’t pay any federal tax at all on their inheritance (unless the estate is among the wealthiest 1% — and, even then, the rate of taxation usually ends up being far below the rate that’s charged on earned income), but workers pay tax on all of their earnings that they draw from their sweat (not only income above the meager income-tax exempt amount but also in the sales and other taxes they spend even on their using the portion of their wages that’s below the tax-exemption — which exemption currently is set at around $4,000 that’s untaxed per person). Is this low an estate-tax fair?

It’s theft from the earned, and it’s transferring this theft as booty to the unearned. It’s what the propaganda from aristocrats (who own the major ‘news’ or propaganda media who pump continually against ‘the death tax’) has caused millions of American suckers to favor, even while it actually robs these people of what they earn. But the conservative mass accept this status-quo because they think that, somehow, they’re going to compete against the aristocrats and win — and, that when they win, they will benefit from there being no taxation of unearned income their children will receive from them as gifts and as inheritances. Maybe the odds on that happening are about as good as the odds that these people will win the lottery; but, at least the lottery can be a reasonably fair game, and this real life situation certainly is not. And one reason it’s not, is that unearned income is taxed far lower than earned income is. 

The deceptionists portray estate taxes as being theft from everyone who dies. But it’s not taking, at all, from people who are dying; it’s instead taking from their often-useless heirs (at the time when the asset is being transferred to them) and only if the deceased was enormously wealthy (was above the level of wealth at which a federal estate tax exists); and this taking is not theft at all, because an heir, by definition, hasn’t done a thing to earn whatever it is he or she is inheriting — it’s purely a windfall to him or her, which rewards that person’s good luck to have been born rich, and which turns this good luck into good luck squared, and at the expense of all workers, who have actually earned their keeps and paid taxes on all of it.

The people who are being robbed by this are everyone who isn’t so phenomenally lucky — and their bad luck thus becomes bad luck squared, because they’re being saddled with the burden of financing a government that gives to heirs (and provides tax-supported services to them such as training their employees so that they’re literate, and building the highways on which a billionaire’s corporation transports its goods, etc.) without taking anything at all from them (unless the estate they inherit happens to have been among the largest 1%, and even then the taxation-rate at present in the U.S. is usually lower than what an actual laborer pays). 

By rights, all inheritances should be taxed at a 100% rate, because it’s all unearned money. (Otherwise, it would be pay, which is taxed.) To enforce that requirement, however, would entail draconian penalties against tax-evasion, and against exporting wealth as a means of avoiding that 100% tax on all (gifts and) inheritances that exceed modest amounts. Consequently, those changes would first need to be made. However, certainly, the taxes on estates that are over a million dollars, which are currently subject to estate taxation, should be taxed at far higher rates than they are — not taxed zero as Republicans and conservative Democrats urge. The only big problem is the current excessively low taxation-rate on the estates of the very wealthy. Estate-taxation of those estates needs to be increased enormously, in order for an equal-opportunity society to be able to exist at all — for it even to be able to come into existence here.

Why are gifts tax-free, whereas earned assets (such as salaries) are not? Earned receipts are taxed, but unearned ones are not. That’s simply vile, but the aristocracy has bamboozled the public to think it’s terrific. No such society is actually committed to equality of opportunity. It’s committed instead to the reverse. The aristocracy has the public by the throat. To be more accurate, they’ve got it by the mind. And they need the so-called “experts” on morality in order to do this con-job for them. That’s largely the clergy who peddle the morality that promotes aristocracy – God, after all, has selected God’s People to be God’s People – and the ‘news’ media do the remainder of this scam, for the aristocracy, by peddling the ‘social blessedness’ of extreme wealth (‘philanthropy’ and other means of leaving a decedent’s asset under private control, instead of transferring it to public control — control by the government, which would help reduce everyone else’s taxes). Other than the clergy and the ‘news’media who peddle this line, the peddlers for the aristocracy on this are the professors who teach the ‘classics’ that were written by Plato and by other agents of the aristocracy in former times, which (no coincidence) ‘justify’ (though sometimes on a non-religious basis) the existing enormous inequality of wealth. We’re all taught, throughout our lives, this inequality of personal rights, as being, somehow, ‘democratic’.

On 5 June 2006, the Republicans’ aristocratic Tax Foundation headlined “Poll Questions on the Estate Tax”, and reported that 68% of respondents wanted “completely eliminating the estate tax – that is, the tax on property left by people who die.” The question was a lie, because only about 1% of “people who die” were wealthy enough for their estates to be taxed at all under then-current federal law. Honest wording would have been “tax on property left by millionaires when they die.” But on 16 December 2010, Paul Waldman headlined in the liberal (or: the Democratic Party’s) American Prospect“The Oddly Unpopular Estate Tax”, and he said that a poll he had done showed that even when the question was honestly phrased, the public support for abolition “was only lower by about 10 points.” 

The American public wants the estate tax eliminated and the burden transferred onto workers. But Republicans especially do. And, thus, they favor actually the opposite of the equal-opportunity society. And, so, the 2 May 2017 Pew poll found that Republicans especially believe in the myth that America is an equal-opportunity society. Their heads are in a fantasyland. Unfortunately, they vote. But so too do Democrats, and their vision of reality is only marginally more realistic. Clearly, the American public are heavily deceived by the American aristocracy, so as to consent to the existing regime and to want it to become even worse (by either eliminating or else lowering estate and gift taxation).

What, then, is the difference between the Republican and the Democratic Parties? The level of hypocrisy is even higher amongst the Democratic Party’s billionaires and their agents, than amongst the Republican Party’s billionaires and their agents. In the Democratic Party, the line is: Don’t worry really about America’s extreme inequality of wealth, but only about America’s inequality of opportunity.

Larry Summers, the chief economist for President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, is an archetypal aristocratic agent in the Democratic Party, and so he represents very well the line of that Party’s billionaires. On 15 June 2012, Bonnie Kouvassi at Huffington Post, bannered “Larry Summers: We Need To Focus On Inequality of Opportunity”, and she presented a video of him teaching at Harvard, saying,

 “I think we can accept, I think we should accept inequality of results, recognizing that those who earn more are in a better position to contribute more to support society.” 

He attacked those who criticized America’s extreme inequality of wealth, and he praised at length “those who are in a better position to contribute more to support society.” Summers’s aristocrat-enhancing view was that, even in a nation of such extreme wealth-inequality as America, inequality of opportunity can be reduced without also reducing inequality of wealth. It’s not just false, but absurdly false: In a country with such extreme wealth-inequality, inequality of opportunity is largely the result of inequality of wealth. Addressing the former without also addressing the latter is doomed to fail. One side of that whole cannot be attacked without simultaneously attacking the other side of it. As a reader at a blog phrased the matter, on 29 September 2013:

“The privileges of wealth grow exponentially with each generation in no small part because of the greater educational opportunities the children of the rich have – with less distraction from needing to work their way through school and less debt with which to begin the ‘rat race’.”

If anyone should know about that, it’s the former Harvard president Summers. However, Summers routinely displayed enormous respect for wealthy people, and contempt for the poor. He was quoted in Ron Suskind’s 2011 Confidence Men as saying in 2009 (p. 197),

 “One of the challenges in our society is that the truth is kind of a disequalizer. … One of the reasons that inequality has probably gone up in our society is that people are being treated closer to the way they’re supposed to be treated.” 

In other words: he holds that the enormous and increasing inequality of wealth in America reflects more than in prior eras the enormous inequality of worth among individual citizens: the super-rich are just super-terrific, and the poor are just super-terrible, in his view. He authentically reflects classical writers such as Quesnay, Smith, and Pareto — agents of the aristocracy in their own time (and they all despised the poor, just as Summers does). But those same classical writers are also implicit in the Republican aristocracy’s agenda. The big difference between the two Parties, is that, though both are essentially the same (one-party — aristocratic-party) rule, over the country, the Democratic Party’s aristocracy and their agents (the Democratic wing of the aristocratic party) are far better at hypocrisy. They pretend to care about the public’s interest. Whereas the Republican Party’s aristocracy (the Republican wing of the aristocratic party) rely upon ‘tough talk’ and a ‘hard-nosed’ approach, the Democratic Party’s (wing) rely instead upon ‘equality of opportunity,’ but both sides of the aristocracy are actually pumping the same basic lie. And, of course, the Democratic Party’s mass of voters haven’t got a clue to that reality. But, neither do the Republican Party’s. The voters, in both, are deceived, by different sides, of the same con-operation. 

Consequently, it’s obvious that discrimination exists not only on the basis of race, and not only on the basis of gender (etc.), but also — and universally — on the basis of wealth.

And, the policy-implications of this, extend far beyond merely such issues as estate-taxation (though that’s absolutely essential in order to address discrimination on the basis of wealth), but also need to countervail the other forms of bigotries (not only against the poor). For example: the August 12th Charlottesville Virginia racist attacks represent, in an extreme form, the far more widespread common bigotry against Blacks. Such blaring and bleeding headline events as this (and their prosecutions or lack of same) are open sores in a cultural disease that extends far wider, and deeper, than just that bleeding skin-surface of events. In an oligarchically controlled country, politics will inevitably focus only upon that skin-surface (especially when it’s bleeding), but the cause of the chancre is far more important.

The public are suckered by the agents for the billionaires. This happens even more to Republicans than to Democrats, as is shown in the polling-numbers. Whereas, at the bottom, amongst the masses, there are enormous differences between Republicans and Democrats on some issues; there is, at the top, amongst the billionaires who fund the Party and its organs (such as the Democratic aristocrats’ American Prospect), very little real difference. But Democratic aristocrats are far more-skilled hypocrites than Republican aristocrats are. It’s like in Britain, where Labour’s Tony Blair was a hypocritical imperialist, but the Conservative Margaret Thatcher had been an overt one (and not nearly as aggressive a one as Blair turned out to be). And, so, the two aristocratic groups, Republican (or conservative) and Democratic (or liberal), sound different from one-another; and, that’s the political competition between America’s two Parties. That’s the level of political debate, in this (and almost every) country. And, it has been proven that America’s aristocracy rule the nation, behind the scenes — the U.S. is no democracy. Whereas a few countries might possibly be classified reasonably as a “democracy,” the U.S. certainly isn’t one of those.

Furthermore, some Republican politicians even give Democratic politicians competition in the hypocrisy department. For example, the Christian-fundamentalist-pandering Republican Judge Roy Moore, who recently won the U.S. Senate nomination to fill U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s vacated Senate seat from Alabama, was revealed on October 10th to have lied and engaged in tax-evasion. Moore, who is famous for posting the Ten Commandments at his court as the Chief ‘Justice’ of Alabama’s Supreme Court, should have known that one of those Commandments was “Thou shalt not steal” (including steal from the government that’s paying his salary), and that another was “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (including against his detractors who had earlier tried to publicize Moore’s fakeries). Both Parties are con-operations for the aristocracy.

America has an actually one-party Government, with two contrasting sales-pitches to it, and those two sales-pitches are the programs of the two nominal Parties. One sales-pitch, the pitch that’s directed to Republican voters, depends upon that mass’s conservatism; the other sales-pitch, to Democratic voters, depends upon deceiving that mass of voters, to think this Party to be the opposite of conservative — that the Democratic Party is progressive — when it’s actually not. (The Democratic Party, which was progressive when FDR led it, gradually became merely liberal — fake ‘progressive’ — after he died. It’s now more conservative than it is progressive.)

So: Do Democrats understand what produces wealth in America? Polls show that the mass of Democratic voters have a far more-realistic idea of this than Republican voters do; and, that’s just a fact. Perhaps it’s also the reason why, in the research for my book They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, I found that Democratic Presidencies (and, to a lesser extent, Democratic Congresses) have produced far better economic results for the nation than did Republican ones. Democratic politicians, in order to retain their voting-base, need to hew at least a little to the Party’s economic hypocrisies about its concern for “the little guy.” This doesn’t fully anchor the Party’s policies to economic reality, but Democratic politicians can’t afford to make a fetish of denying economic reality, nearly to the extent that Republican ones can, and do. (The Republican Party, after all, proudly declares itself to be conservative; they don’t even try to hide the fact.) And that’s the difference — it’s a very real difference at the voting-base of each Party, but not at the billionaires’ level, which actually controls things and produces the bipartisan (neoconservative-neoliberal) dictatorship that rules America, behind two screens of deceits: one to manipulate conservatives, and the other to manipulate progressives.

On October 7th, the neoconservative-neoliberal (that’s the single ideology of the U.S. aristocracyNew York Times, headlined its lead frontpage Sunday print-edition story, “The ‘Resistance,’ Raising Big Money, Upends Liberal Politics”, and reported that Democratic billionaires such as fund-manager George Soros and “the San Francisco mortgage billionaire Herbert Sandler, the New York real estate heiress Patricia Bauman and the oil heiress Leah Hunt-Hendrix” were “posing an insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions — and the Democratic Party itself.” That news-story linked to “Document: Here’s the Democracy Alliance’s ‘Resistance Map’,” and this ‘Resistance’ turns out to consist of groups which those same billionaires, and other billionaire Democrats, had donated heavily to, and which had supported Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaigns. It’s now calling itself collectively the ‘Resistance’, in the Democratic Party; but, what it is the ‘resistance’ to, is not made at all clear. The presumption of the story’s writer, and the newspaper’s editors, seems to be that the Party’s voters won’t be sufficiently intelligent to have suspicions about the honesty, of that ‘resistance’, and of that news-report about it. This type of presumption, this trust by the public, has always worked for the aristocracy in the past; but, maybe, someday, it no longer will. Perhaps there is a limit to how many times the public can be fooled, before they start to understand the game. 

During the American Revolution, Americans finally came to understand the game, and overthrew and replaced the British aristocracy. Perhaps some day, Americans will overthrow and replace the American aristocracy. But, as of yet, no way is clear as to how that could be done. If it ever happens, it will be the Second American Revolution. However, one thing is very clear: if it ever happens, no American aristocrats will be donating to it, nor assisting the American people in any other way, to gain freedom. The aristocracy are maybe the top .01%, but they control this country, more than the bottom 99.99% do, and won’t relinquish that control voluntarily. And there is no way that it would be able to happen under the rules that they have established for this country. No more would that be the case, than it was the case regarding the First American Revolution. (That’s why it is called a “Revolution.”)

No such ‘Democracy Alliance’ is going to do such a job. It might do a job, but that wouldn’t be the job which is necessary, not even if they’re promising to do that job. Behind the scenes, they’re already committed to not doing the job that needs to be done. But, obviously, some people think that it’s the job that needs to be done, or else the New York Times wouldn’t be positioning this puff-piece as the lead story in their Sunday newspaper, in order to promulgate, to the public, the organization’s propaganda-line, that these people intend to do the job that needs to be done. This free publicity for those billionaires’ effort wouldn’t be donated to that organization if the Times management didn’t think it would help the cause of the people who control the corporation, which is an important propaganda-vehicle for the Democratic Party.

Right now, we’re stuck with a highly unequal-opportunity system, which is getting more unequal-opportunity, instead of less; and (mixing metaphors here) the Republican Party are the bulwark for it, while the Democratic Party plays the ‘good cop’ ‘resistance’, against that ‘bad cop’ bulwark, in this kabuki show, which has been set up by the aristocracy, for the ‘entertainment’ (deception) of the American public. 

Because hypocrisy is so essential in order for Democratic aristocrats to be able to control their voters, there is, in the Democratic Party, a far larger separation between the aristocracy and its voters, than is the case in the Republican Party. Whereas, in the Republican Party, there is no progressivism, not even in pretense (since conservatism itself is the opposite), there is substantial progressivism within the Democratic Party’s electorate; and — since none of the aristocracy are progressive — the potential tensions between the electoral base and the money-base are far larger within the Democratic Party, than within the Republican Party. For example: on October 5th, Pew headlined “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider” and reported that, whereas 71% of Democratic Party voters believe that “Government should do more to help the needy,” only 24% of Republican Party voters do. Obviously, no billionaire supports that position, because doing so would entail that person’s donating everything to a U.S. Presidential campaign and to Congressional campaigns, backing only candidates who honestly do support that position (placing first the interests of the needy, and last the interests of the greedy), which would constitute the Second American Revolution, if it won control. And, likewise obviously, no such Revolution has, as of yet, occurred, which means that there apparently are no billionaires who even want it to occur.

The Counter-Revolution against the American Revolution has succeeded, and it is continuing still further, to succeed even more than it already has. That’s the American reality, today. Neither the Democratic Party, nor the Republican Party, nor any other party that will be funded by the U.S. aristocracy, will admit this fact, no matter how much the data might happen to back it up.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

This article was originally published by Strategic Culture Foundation where the featured image was sourced.

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Multiple wars ravage the Middle East. Turkey has inserted itself into the middle of most of these regional conflicts and ended up a loser.

Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has intervened and formed alliances with a rogue’s gallery of imperial warlords, terrorists-mercenaries, Zionist expansionists, feudal potentates and obscure tribal chiefs, with disastrous economic, political and military consequences for the Turkish nation.

In this paper we will discuss Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies and behavior over the past decade.  We will conclude with lessons for middle range powers, which might help in future decisions

President Erdogan’s Domestic Disasters

Throughout the early decade of the 21st century, Erdoğan made a strategic alliance with an influential semi-clandestine organization led by a cult-leading cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who was conveniently self-exiled in the US and under the protection of the US intelligence apparatus. This marriage of convenience was formed in order to weaken the leftist, secular and Ataturk nationalist influenced opposition. Armed with the Gülenists’ treasure trove of forged documents, Erdoğan purged the military of its Ataturk nationalist leadership. He proceeded to marginalize the secular Republican Party and repressed leftist trade union, social movements and prominent academics, journalists, writers and student activists. With support from the Gülenists movement, ‘Hizmet’, Erdoğan celebrated his successes and won multiple election and re-election victories!

Initially, Erdoğan failed to recognize that the Gülenists/Hizmet operated as a subversive political organization, which permeated the state apparatus through a dense network of bureaucratic, military, judicial, police, and civil society organizations, with ties to the US military/CIA and friendly relations with Israeli policy makers.

By 2013, Erdoğan felt intense pressure from the Gülenists/Hizmet which sought to discredit and oust his regime by revealing multi-million dollar corrupt practices involving him and his family in a ‘Turquoise Color Revolution’ – remake of other ‘regime changes’.

Having discovered his internal vulnerability, Erdoğan moved to curtail the power and reach of the Gülenists/Hizmet controlled media. He was not yet prepared to deal with the immense scope and depth of the elite links to Gülenists/Hizmet. A Gülenists-led military coup was launched in July 2016, with the tacit support of the US military stationed in Turkey. This was foiled by a major popular mobilization with the support of  the armed forces.

Erdoğan then moved to thoroughly purge the followers of Hizmet from the military, public administration, schools, business, the press and public and private institutions. He extended his purge to include secular and nationalist political leaders who had always opposed the Gülenists and their attempted coup d’état.

As a result of the coup attempt and the subsequent purge, Erdoğan weakened and fractured every aspect of the state and civil society. Erdoğan ended up securing control of a weakened state with a degraded business, educational and cultural world.

The Gülenists coup was authored and led by its supremo Fethullah Gülen, ensconced in his ‘secret’ private estate in the United States. Clearly the US was implicated in the coup and they rejected Erdoğan’s demands to extradite him.

Erdoğan’s subservience to the US/NATO leadership have undermined his attempts to strike at the roots of the coup and its internal and external power structure. The US/NATO military bases still operate in Turkey and retain influence over its military.

In the aftermath of the coup, the decline of Gülenist influence in the economy contributed to economic reversals in investments and growth. The purge of the military and civil society reduced Turkey’s military preparedness and alienated the democratic electorate. Erdoğan had already nearly lost his bid to the presidency after his earlier purges in 2014.

Erdoğan’s Foreign Policy Disasters

Perversity is when a ruler weakens its military and represses its citizens and launches a series of risky foreign adventures: This is exactly what Erdoğan has done over the past several years.

First Erdoğan backed a terrorist uprising in Syria, providing arms, recruiting overseas ‘volunteers’ and providing them with unrestricted passage across the Turkish border. Many of the terrorists proceeded to join forces with Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds in establishing military bases on Ankara’s borders.

Secondly, Erdoğan ran a scurrilous electoral campaign among the millions of ethnic Turks living in Germany – violating that powerful nation’s sovereignty. As a result, Erdoğan increased tensions and animosity with what had been its closest ally in its quest for EU membership – effectively terminating the process.

Thirdly, Erdoğan backed NATO’s invasion and bombing of Libya, killing President Gadhafi, who had been an independent voice, capable of serving as a possible ally against imperial intervention in North Africa.

Fourthly, Erdoğan backed the brief government of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood after its electoral victory in 2012 following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in Egypt of 2011. He backed a formula similar to his own Turkish policy of excluding the secular, democratic opposition. This led to a bloody US-backed military coup led by General Abdel Sisi in July 2013 – a lesson not lost on Erdoğan.

Fifth, Erdoğan’s de facto friendly relations with Israel – despite verbal criticism – in the face of Tel Aviv’s assassination of nine non-violent Turkish protestors trying to break the starvation blockade of Gaza – undermined relations with the pro-Palestine Arab world and nationalists in Turkey.

Sixth, Erdoğan developed lucrative ties with Iraqi Kurd dictator-warlord, Masoud Barzani, facilitating the flow of oil to Israel. Erdoğan’s own illicit oil deals with Barzani strengthened the cause of Kurdish separatism and exposed the widespread corruption of Erdoğan’s family dealings.

Seventh, Erdoğan provoked military tensions with Russia by shooting down a warplane in Syria. This led to an economic boycott, which reduced export earnings, devastated the tourism sector and added Moscow to his list of adversaries, (Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, US, Germany, Hezbollah and Iran).

Eighth, Erdoğan backed the tiny oil-state of Qatar, sending supplies and soldiers to oppose a threat from Saudi Arabia, the other royal oil statelets and Egypt, US allies and followers.

Despite his many disastrous domestic and foreign policies, Erdoğan learned nothing and forgot nothing. When the Israelis backed the Iraqi Kurds in organizing an independence ‘referendum’ aiming to ultimately annex the rich oil fields of Northern Iraq, Erdoğan took no action despite this threat to Turkish national security. He merely made verbal threats to cut off the Kurd’s access to Ankara’s oil pipelines. He took no concrete steps. Erdogan preferred to pocket transit taxes from the oil, antagonizing Iraq and Syria and strengthening the links between Kurdish Iraq and its secessionist counterparts in Syria and Turkey.

Because of Erdoğan failure to close down the US military base following its support of the Gülenist-led coup, the Turkish army is still heavily under  US influence, opening the possibility of another uprising.

Erdoğan’s lip-service to ‘nationalism’ has served mainly as a political tool to repress domestic democratic political parties and trade unions and the Kurdish and Alevi communities.

Erdoğan’s initial support and subsequent opposition to the jihadi terrorist groups seeking to oust the secular-nationalist government in Damascus has caused ‘blowback’ – with ISIS terrorist cells bombing civilian targets Istanbul and Ankara with mass casualties.

Conclusion

Erdoğan’s unprincipled, opportunistic and pro-imperialist NATO alliance demonstrates the inability of an aspiring regional power to find a niche in the US Empire.

Erdoğan believed that being a loyal ‘ally’ of the US would protect Turkey from a coup d’état. He failed to realize that he had become a disposable pawn in US plans to instill more servile rulers (like the Gülenist) in the Middle East.

Erdoğan’s belief that Turkey’s collaboration with the US to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar Assad would lead to a successful territorial grab of Northern Syria: instead Erdoğan ended up serving the US-backed Syrian Kurds tied to the Turkish Kurds. By working to break up Syria and destroy its state and government, Erdoğan strengthened Kurdish cross border expansionism.

Erdoğan failed to recognize the most basic rule of imperial policy: There are no permanent allies there are only permanent interests. Erdoğan thought Turkey would be ‘rewarded’ by acting as a US surrogate with a share of power, wealth and territory in the Middle East. Instead, as a ‘normal’ imperial power, the US used Turkey when it was convenient and would then dispose of Erdoğan – like a used condom.

Anti-imperialism is not just an ideal and moral/ethical principle – it is a realistic approach to safeguarding sovereignty, democratic politics and meaningful alliances.

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Late on October 12, the Turkish Army started deploying troops and vehicles in Syria’s Idlib province. According to reports, at least 30 Turkish vehicles entered Idlib via the Atme border crossing and deployed in an area between it and Darat Izza town.

Some sources speculated that the deployment was coordinated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) that is the most powerful group in the militant-held Idlib province. However, this has not been confirmed by any evidence so far.

It’s interesting that the area of deployment allows Turkish forces to operate against both radicals Islamists in Idlib province and Kurdish militias in northern Aleppo.

Earlier, Turkish National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli once again repeated that Ankara believes that weapons supplied to Kurdish-dominated US-backed forces in Syria will be used against Turkey.

In Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated Kusham Fawqani village and consolidated its gains north of Deir Ezzor. This allows to develop operations further in order to liberate Deir Ezzor city.

At the same time, government forces, led by the SAA Tiger Forces, further outflanked al-Maydin city and de-facto encircled it, according to pro-government sources. Clashes are ongoing in the urban area.

ISIS terrorists attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at the Jafrah oil fields and forces the SDF to retreat from the area, according to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq. The SDF has not shown any photos or videos that allow to debunk Amaq’s claims.

Meanwhile, the SDF has reportedly captured the villages of Hasf Tall, Ghayran, Jarbus, Tabaraya and Husayn at the al-Suwar road preparing to push towards al-Busariyah.

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Just as it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that ISIS/Daesh are Western proxies/strategic assets in Syria, so too has it been demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt the myriad illicit ways in which the terrorists enrich themselves to the detriment of Syria, and beyond.

Not only do NATO terrorists engage in organ harvesting[1], for example, but they engage in sex slavery as well. Author and human rights activist Ewelina U. Ochab reports the following:

During my recent trip to Iraq, I was shown a document, dated October 16, 2014, listing the prices for the purchase of Yazidi and Christian girls and women. The prices ranged from 75,000 Iraqi Dinar (about $64) for a thirty- to forty-year-old woman, to 200,000 Iraqi Dinar (about $170) for a girl between one and nine years old. Overall, the younger the girl or woman was, the higher the price to be paid – the sight of such prices being paid for babies and young children filled me with unimaginable horror at the pain they n would go through.[2]

Since the White Helmets are al Qaeda auxiliaries, again, proven beyond a reasonable doubt, it follows that we should be viewing their videos with a critical eye.

Given what we know of the terrorists’ illicit operations, if videos or other media products feature children, as they so often do, the following questions need to be asked:

  • Where are the parents?
  • Who are the parents?
  • If there are no parents in the video, why not?
  • Where is the follow-up? What happened to the featured children?
  • Are children being exploited to create a pretext for more NATO war crimes?
  • Are images of children being “recycled”?
  • If medical procedures are being performed on children, are correct medical protocols being followed?

A more subtle (but effective nonetheless) example of child exploitation, instrumentalized to promote war and terrorism, involves 8 year old Bana Alabed, whose parents are al Qaeda affiliated. “Bana’s” alleged tweets, taken in their entirety, serve as propaganda to advance the goals of her terrorist-affiliated parents who lived in a terrorist-occupied area of East Aleppo from which terrorists launched gas cannister bombs —- filled with explosives and shrapnel (i.e. nails) — onto innocent civilians in Aleppo.

Prof Tim Anderson’s Facebook commentary that,

(i)t must be one of the greatest propaganda achievements of modern times that Washington (with its embedded media) has succeeded in convincing millions of apparently educated people in western cultures that it has “NOT” been conducting a war against Syria for the past seven years,[3]

attests not only to the power of Western propaganda, but also to the urgency for Western populations to become more critical media consumers.

The impacts of the Western-imposed war on Syria will resonate for many generations.

Notes

1 Mark Taliano, “Syria: Disappeared Voices by Western Corporate Media.” Global Research. 9 October, 2017.( https://www.globalresearch.ca/voices-from-syria-disappeared-voices-by-western-corporate-media/5612525) Accessed 13 October, 2017.

2 Ewelina U. Ochab, “Sexual Violence As A Weapon Of War: The Story Of Daesh And Boko Haram.” Forbes. 2 March, 2017.( https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2017/03/02/sexual-violence-as-a-weapon-of-war-the-story-of-daesh-and-boko-haram/#318118e06a17) Accessed 13 October, 2017.

3 Facebook commentary, 12 October, 2017.

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US domestic law takes precedence over international law, just as it was recently decreed is the case for Russia as well, so no matter how controversial it may be that Washington is pulling out of the globalist body for naked political reasons, it nevertheless has the sovereign right to do so in pursuing its interests as it sees fit.

The Mainstream and even Alternative Medias are in uproar over the US’ decision to withdraw from UNESCO, with the former slamming it for being a violation of globalist principles while the latter is opposed to its stated pro-“Israel” reason in boycotting an organization that supports Palestine. According to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert:

 On October 12, 2017, the Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the US decision to withdraw from the organization … This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”

From this terse statement, it’s clear that the US is also doing this in order to pressure the UN to submit to Trump’s “’Lead From Behind’ reforms” in having other members do more of the “heavy lifting” (in this case, simply pay more), as well as of course hoping that this move will compel the body to reconsider its support of Palestine. As the clichéd saying goes, “money talks”, and by suspending approximately 22% of the organization’s funding, Washington wants to force its Security Council and G20 counterparts to either pay much more for the indefinite future in compensating for this sudden budgetary deficit, or to submit to its political will in order to “turn the tap back on”.

Trump, being the consummate businessman and author of “The Art of the Deal”, has emphasized on numerous occasions that he will no longer tolerate the US’ partners, and especially the UN for that matter, refusing to “pay their fair share” in whatever multilateral organization it may be and depending on the US to “foot the bill” for them instead. With this in mind, it makes sense why he wants to hit UNESCO where it hurts by withdrawing 22% of its funding, just like what happened in 2011 in protest against the group admitting Palestine as a full member. At that time, Reuters reminded their audience that:

“U.S. legislation prohibits funding to any UN agency that grants full membership to any group that does not have “internationally recognized attributes” of statehood.”

This is significant to keep in mind because it forms the “legal” basis for the US’ actions. The US considers that its domestic law takes precedence over international law, and while this principle was neglected and sometimes outright violated by previous administrations, Trump is trying to make sure that it’s abided by as a means of promoting the US’ interests. To this end, although it may be unethical and immoral for the largest funder of an international organization to withdraw nearly a quarter of the said group’s annual budget as a power play for advancing its own agenda, the fact remains that this is the reality in which the decision is playing out, and the US does indeed desire to shape UNECO according to its own designs by virtue of the country being the body’s largest funder.

No value judgement is being made about this observation, but it deserves to be mentioned that the US isn’t the only country which places its domestic law above international one. President Putin signed legislation at the end of December 2015 decreeing that the Russian Constitution is more important than whatever international agreements Moscow had previously entered into in response to the “European Court of Human Rights’” politicized decision to “award” former jailed billionaire and energy tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Yukos over $2 billion. As RT reported at the time:

“President Vladimir Putin has signed into law the bill allowing the Constitutional Court to overrule the decisions of international courts if such decisions contradict the principle of supremacy of the Russian Constitution.

The new act published on the government website on Tuesday reads that the Constitutional Court will look into every decision of any intergovernmental body based on an international treaty and find if it matches the Russian Constitution and the rights and freedoms guaranteed by it. Upon such consideration the Constitutional Court can allow the decision to be executed in Russia, in full or in part, or ban its execution – also in full or in part. The ban would automatically cancel any national acts allowing the execution of the unconstitutional ruling.

 The law has been developed and drafted in order to fulfill the mid-July ruling of the Russian Constitutional Court reading that the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) must be individually approved and only carried out if they do not contradict basic Russian law.

In late 2013, the Russian Constitutional Court ruled that it had the right, but not an obligation to decide on the execution of contradictory ECHR decisions in Russia. The July decision expanded the supremacy of the Constitutional Court over foreign judiciaries and international treaties, and established the priority of the Constitution in general.”

This pro-sovereignty move proves that Russia also pursues its own national self-interests at the perceived expense of its supposed international “commitments”, which is similar in a sense to the US’ move to withdraw from UNESCO for related reasons. Moscow, however, wasn’t in a position to essentially blackmail the ECHR when it refused to abide by its decision, unlike Washington’s power in being able to do just that to UNESCO in crippling the organization. In this sense, Russia’s actions didn’t have any tangible “collateral damage” in the state-to-state international sense, while the US’ deliberately seeks to inflict such consequences in order to pressure its counterparts to do its bidding.

This is a crucial distinction to make, as it means that Russia’s execution of pro-sovereignty decisions in the framework of international bodies isn’t aimed against any of its state peers and carries with it no pecuniary punishment against them, whereas the US’ employment of the same appears in this case to be an exercise in international blackmail. Nevertheless, both Russia and the US have the sovereign right to formulate policy based on the presumption that national law takes precedence of its international counterpart, with neither action being objectively “good” or “bad”, but being simply an expression of the Neorealist paradigm of International Relations in proceeding from the basis that the only true motivator of state behavior is self-interest, however it’s subjectively perceived and ultimately plays out.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.

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The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) together with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network revealed a scheme of weapons supply to the terrorists of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

There is no secret that the U.S. provides the so-called moderate opposition and Kurdish militia in Syria with arms and ammunition most of which are the weapons remained after the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact disbanded.

The U.S. DOD, through U.S. SOCOM, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, as well as Picatinny Arsenal, American military research, and manufacturing facility located in Dover, New Jersey, acquired arms in some Eastern European countries including Ukraine for their further sending to Syria. The procurement volume has already exceeded $700 billion.

Kiev used the logistical scheme elaborated by Washington to export arms and weapons from the Ukrainian armed forces weapons depots. The deal is estimated at $110 billion.

Between June 5 and September 15, the United States sent 1,421 trucks loaded with weaponry to the “moderate” opposition, including 596 trucks (more than 40 %) from Ukraine. Most of them ended up in ISIS’ hands.

The General Staff of Ukraine took advantage of Oktyabrsk seaport located 25 kilometers southeast to Mykolaiv and Kiev air transport hub to supply weapons to the Middle East.

The transportation of weapons by air was the most effective procedure in terms of delivery speed. The weapons were transferred from ammunition depot No. 48 of Central Missile and Artillery Directorate situated in the Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia to Gavrishovka Airport and then delivered by 456 brigade jets to Kiev’s Boryspil International Airport.

Earlier, the Ukrainian authorities might have delivered arms and weapons through ammunition depot No. 65 located in Kharkiv’s Balakliya.

To cover up the illegal supplies, a series of deliberate arsons were organized at the military depots. The incident in Vinnytsia provoked the public outcry. According to the Ukrainian media, more than 40 tons of artillery shells were allegedly destroyed. In fact, this represents a basis of weapons sold and delivered to ISIS.

The similar cases won’t stop as Kiev needs to hide grand larceny and illegal arms sales from the public eye.

Sophie Mangal is a special investigative correspondent and co-editor at Inside Syria Media Center where this article was originally published.

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The West has effectively preyed on the Kurds’ internal divisions and has used some factions to fulfill an imperialist goal of dividing and weakening the Near and Middle East. The Kurdish people are diverse, and in recent years, aspects of their culture and customs have been discussed in mainstream media. But the behavior of some of their more corrupt factions must also be addressed.

A history of human rights abuses

Separatist Kurdish factions have a vested interest in claiming Arab, Assyrian or Armenian history as their own. However, at times when they have failed in that endeavor, they have resorted to destroying any relevant history pertaining to the areas they are trying to claim altogether. In this aspect, they operate in a similar manner to Daesh/ISIS.

Assyrian Artifacts Vandalized in Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Recent reports show Kurdish flags painted on Assyrian reliefs in Dohuk, not once, but twice in quick succession. There is evidence of hammering and chiseling taking place, as well as numerous suspected bullet holes. The Kurdistan Regional Government have not condemned these acts or committed any resources to watching over and protecting Assyrian heritage.

Every time the Kurds failed in an attack against Turkey, they would migrate to Syria and try to claim Syrian land as their own. For instance, they tried to claim the Syrian city of Ayn al Arab, naming it “Kobani/Kobane.” The origin of the name is the word “company,” a reference to a German railway company that built the Konya-Baghdad railway. The Kurds also claimed Al Qamishli, another Syrian city, as their illegal capital and renamed it Qamislo/Qamishlo.

It’s worth mentioning that Kurds are not even a majority in the land they claim as theirs in northeast Syria. For example, in the governorate of Al Hasakah, they amount to about 30 to 40 percent of the population. That number has decreased since the outbreak of the current Syrian conflict, as many Kurds have left for European countries.

Most of them have fled to Germany, where their numbers are about 1.2 million, a little less than the number of Kurds living in Syria. However, they do not seem concerned about seeking autonomy there. They only seek it in the Middle Eastern countries that have provided them with refuge all of these years – these are the countries they want to stab in the back instead of thanking them for their hospitality.

Amnesty International’s many refutable allegations against the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army cannot be taken at face value in the absence of other corroborating reports. In some cases, however, they do report truthfully, such as when they released a report in 2015 accusing the YPG, the militia of Syria’s Kurdish population, of a range of human rights abuses.

“These abuses include forced displacement, demolition of homes, and the seizure and destruction of property,” the group wrote. “In some cases, entire villages have been demolished, apparently in retaliation for the perceived support of their Arab or Turkmen residents for the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) or other non-state armed groups.” Amnesty International has also documented the use of child soldiers, according to Lama Fakih, a senior crisis advisor for the group.

Some Kurds claim that their “Kurdistan” is “multicultural and multi-religious,” which is disingenuous when you consider that those additional cultures consist of people now dwelling amongst a Kurdish majority in lands the Kurds took by force. On September 25th, these minorities were faced with the prospect of casting meaningless votes for the KRG Referendum in Iraq since, even if they all voted “no,” they would nonetheless be outvoted by the Kurdish “yes” majority and as a result would still find themselves subject to a Kurdish government and agenda, if the Iraqi government recognized the referendum.

Kurdish racism against Arabs – especially Syrians

Finnish investigative journalist Bruno Jantti described his experience working in Iraqi Kurdistan while investigating Daesh:

“When working in Iraqi Kurdistan, I was struck by the prevalence of regressive attitudes, including racism and sexism. I returned recently from Iraqi Kurdistan where I spent a couple of weeks investigating the Islamic State (IS) group. Working mostly in the vicinity of Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk, I could not help but notice a great many societal and cultural characteristics that somewhat surprised me.

Considering what is happening right next door in Syria, the level of anti-Syrian racism did catch me off guard. I came across such prejudice almost daily. A taxi driver quipped in Sulaymaniyah: ‘These Syrians are ruining our country.’ Another taxi driver was quite upset at Syrian kids who were washing car windows and selling tack. ‘These are dirty kids.’ he said. It was all but unusual that internally displaced persons of Iraqi or Syrian Arab descent who had fled to Iraqi Kurdistan were discussed using such language.It wasn’t just taxi drivers. In the Sulaymaniyah governorate building, an officer deemed it appropriate to prep us for our interviews in refugee camps in the area. She told me, verbatim, that Syrian refugees ‘complain about everything.’ In another city, a police chief was astonished and disappointed that my colleagues and myself were applying for a permit to work in a camp inhabiting Syrian refugees. The police chief stated: ‘But these are Syrian refugees!’ There was no shortage of contempt in his voice.

I had been fully aware that Kurdish nationalism flirts with highly questionable portrayals of Arabs, Persians, and Turkish people. In Iraqi Kurdistan, I was surprised at how prevalent some of those attitudes seemed to be.”

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and political commentator. Focused on exposing the lies and propaganda in mainstream media news, as it relates to domestic and foreign policy with an emphasis on the Middle East. Contributed to various radio shows, news publications and spoken at forums. For media inquiries please email [email protected]

This article was originally published by The Rabbit Hole.

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Although many are still stunned in the aftermath of the Route 91 Festival tragedy – a series of  unanswered questions persist following what has been described by media as the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

The motive for the Las Vegas mass shooting crime still remains unclear.

The Imprint of Mass Tragedy

The recent mass shooting involving the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, marks the return of heavily politicized mass shootings in America. Although America has seen a host of smaller, less sensationalized mass shootings throughout the course of 2017, including the bizarre Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting, this latest high-profile calamity has resuscitated the trauma inducing imagery so prevalent in the post-9/11 War On Terror era. Likewise, because its unlikely aspects, combined with the sheer spectacle of the drama – one might surmise that this Las Vegas event is akin to something like “the 9/11 of Mass Shootings.”

Over the past several years, 21WIRE has chronicled many bizarre shootings and mass casualty incidents that have rippled across America and Europe. These events have become a new kind of ritualized ‘crimescape’ that has injected the masses with a host of socio-political concerns over race, religion, gun reform and security, while obscuring and obfuscating the forensic reality of the crimes themselves.

As we’ve stated before, all too often there’s a heavy emphasis on the theatrical stage-like persona of any alleged attacker or killer being touted as hard evidence. This aspect of the narrative also clouds the alleged modis operandi and can later be presented in sensationalized media as circumstantial evidence of an apparent crime, despite the fact any so-called evidence would likely result in many hours of analysis and debate, potentially without an ultimate conclusion, even if the evidence eventually reached a court room setting.

The Las Vegas mass shooting story appears to be no exception….

‘ROOM WITH A VIEW’ – Mystery shrouds the Las Vegas shooting – why is there no eye-witness testimony from guests on the 32nd floor? (Image Source: twitter)

Over a week after one America’s largest mass shootings, we have yet to see any CCTV footage of the alleged killer’s “sniper’s nest” or his whereabouts leading up to the tragedy, as he moved in and around Las Vegas. We’re told the alleged shooter outfitted cameras around his hotel room and door, a room supposedly filled to the brim with a military arsenal. As the investigation continues to simmer, confusion over major parts of the official story, has led to powder keg of pressure that has resulted in heavy criticism from members of the public and new independent media alike.

QUESTION: Why would hotel staff not be alerted to the mounting of cameras and the massive amount of gear being brought to the room prior to the shooting massacre and why is there no footage of the apparent shooter using the freight elevator as is now claimed?

In this report we will attempt to address some of the main questions and unlikely coincidences surrounding the Las Vegas shooting. We’re told that this tragic shooting attack was carried out by one individual without a criminal past – but is there more to the story?

Shooting Timeline Revised

Following a brand new press conference this week, Las Vegas sheriff Joseph Lombardo revealed a complete change in the official timeline of the October 1st Las Vegas mass shooting.

The LA Times explains the major chasm in the official narrative:

“In a timeline released last week, investigators said Paddock had stopped firing at the concert across the street at 10:15 p.m., and the first police officers arrived on the floor at 10:17 p.m. and encountered the wounded Campos at 10:18 p.m., who directed the officers to Paddock’s suite.

Police were not in a hurry to enter Paddock’s suite because the security guard’s arrival had halted the shooting, police implied in previously describing the timeline. Paddock had killed himself by the time officers entered the room, they said.

In a news conference Wednesday, Lombardo said it was his “assumption” that Paddock stopped his shooting spree because the gunman, using his spy cameras, “observed the security guard, and he was in fear that he was about to be breached, so he was doing everything possible to figure out how to escape at that point.”

All of this has transpired as media reports now state that Stephen Paddock first checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel room 135 on September 25th, not the 28th as previously reported by the police and FBI. You have to wonder what happened over those 72 hours leading up to one of America’s deadliest mass shootings, as well as question the shift in details concerning the hotel check-in date.

QUESTION: Why have authorities misled the public about the Las Vegas shooting timeline – and why did it take a so long to breach the hotel suite after police knew much earlier that a shooting had taken place inside the hotel?

The updated timeline is a major shift in the official story, as it raises questions about why law enforcement took so long to respond to the shooter’s hotel room. Furthermore, it exposes the Mandalay Bay security guard’s heroic back story that suggested he stopped the shooter from continuing his shooting massacre. In the early days of this investigation this part of the story was gleefully parroted by mainstream media.

According to authorities, the Mandalay Bay hotel security guard Jesus Campos “was alone and unarmed” when he discovered the purported shooter, facing some 200 rounds in the process, somehow surviving the massive gunfire with a minor leg injury. Based on the amount reported gunfire, the public would have likely seen heavy damage inside the hotel hallway and outside the suite in at least several areas of the 32nd floor, not to mention there would also be additional witnesses within earshot of the shooting. This is something that would have resulted in multiple 911 calls to police.

The new report concerning Campos and the shooting timeline, now puts Las Vegas officials in the hot seat, as they now have no known reason why the alleged shooter would have stopped his rampage.

Not only do these new details challenge police response time but the very nature of how the shooting started, a stark contrast to police and FBI press conference details from the beginning of this investigation. Another major aspect is the 6 minute time frame Mandalay Bay recognized a shooting occurring inside their hotel prior to the concert mass shooting. Speculation and confusion has enveloped the Campos story, as mainstream reports now state there’s an armed private security guard outside of the Mandalay Bay security guard’s home following the Las Vegas shooting.

Interestingly, the Mandalay Bay security guard previously hailed as a hero remains completely absent from any TV interviews.

*Update* – New reports state that Campos, who was scheduled for at least five TV interviews, abruptly disappeared prior to those appearances. One such interview included a FOX News interview with Sean Hannity. This new twist in the Las Vegas shooting adds another bizarre aspect to an already strange case. Here’s FOX News below:

“The Mandalay Bay security guard shot by Stephen Paddock in the moments leading up to the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history was set to break his silence Thursday night with five television interviews, including one on Fox News, Campos’ union president said.

Except when the cameras were about to roll, and media gathered in the building to talk to him, Campos reportedly bolted, and, as of early Friday morning, it wasn’t immediately clear where he was.

“We were in a room and we came out and he was gone,” Campos’ union president told reporters, according to ABC News’ Stephanie Wash.”

QUESTION: What is going on with the main eye-witness in this case?

*Update*

Adventurous independent reportage by former Project Veritas operative Laura Loomer, reveals that the Campos family has a gag order over the Las Vegas shooting case.

This follows yet another major shift in the Las Vegas shooting timeline.

Amazingly, police have once again revised timeline details associated with Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos and the alleged shooter – now stating that the guard’s encounter with the suspected gunman started near the same time as the concert mass shooting. The noticeably agitated Las Vegas sheriff Joseph Lombardo, now claims that the 9:59 time frame is when Campos supposedly investigated a nearby door alarm on the 32nd floor as previously reported.

Interestingly, according to a published article at the LA Times this week, a Mandalay Bay spokeswoman appeared to challenge elements of this latest Las Vegas shooting timeline but did not elaborate:

“A spokeswoman for the company that owns Mandalay Bay seemed to dispute the police timeline given to The Times on Tuesday but did not explain why.

This remains an ongoing investigation with a lot of moving parts. As evidenced by law enforcement briefings over the past week, many facts are still unverified and continue to change as events are under review,” MGM Resorts International spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement. “We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly, and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.

DeShong added, “It is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time on what remains an open matter for law enforcement.”

Here’s a look at Las Vegas sheriff Joseph Lombardo giving an emotive and evasive press conference on October 9th as FBI agent Aaron Rouse looms in the background…

Days ago, after several online theories emerged suggesting possibility that multiple shooters were involved in the Las Vegas shooting, Lombardo entertained the idea that Paddock may not have been alone in the hotel suite. Since then he’s updated this theory after the October 9th press conference stating that there was “no second shooter.” This follows a week of shifting narratives, red herrings and misinformation, as its now stated police do not believe anyone else entered Paddock’s hotel suite.

In spite of the new change to the timeline, Clark County Assistant Sheriff Tom Roberts maintains that

“…the hotel dispatched its own armed security team to the 32nd floor, which arrived “right around the same time” as Las Vegas police, who officials have said arrived on the floor at 10:17 p.m. But the gunman had already fired his final shots out his hotel window at 10:15 p.m.” 

It’s important to note, at 10:12pm or 10:13 pm, an officer on the 31st floor reported hearing “fully automatic” gunfire one floor above him.

By 10:24 pm authorities located Paddock’s hotel suite with SWAT and remained outside the suspected gunman’s room. Interestingly, at 10:28 pm reports state there may have been a second gunman on the 29th floor but this was later believed to be an “erroneous” account according law enforcement.

At 11:20 pm, police explode the suspected gunman’s door, locating a body on the floor supposedly dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Based on Roberts claim above, there would have been a full 56 minutes before the hotel suite breach was said to taken place.

QUESTION: Will there be additional revisions in the official timeline to come – as this story continues to go sideways?

Here’s a screen shot of the first official timeline of the shooting in the first 24-48 hours after the incident. You have to wonder why the story has been altered so dramatically since then…

Today reported the following updated information concerning the Las Vegas shooting. Watch asToday interviews a second eye-witness at the hotel suite:

“Stephen Schuck was one of the first people to encounter Paddock when he went to check out a faulty fire exit door on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay and Casino on Oct. 1, according to a new timeline of events.

“I was about a third of the way down the hallway and I started to hear shots go off,” he told TODAY in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

Schuck then saw hotel security guard, Jesus Campos, stick out his head from a doorway.

He yelled at me to take cover, and as soon as I started to go to a door to my left, the rounds started coming down the hallway,” Shuck said. “I could feel them pass right behind my head. Something hit me in the back and I took cover.

“I tried to think, how I could get to Jesus because I could that see he was shot in the leg, and I just told myself, wait for him, he’s going to have to stop shooting some time. It was kind of relentless.”

According to reports, Schuck “calmly” called police over his radio following the apparent start of the mass shooting.

Here’s Today‘s Matt Lauer interviewing the second hotel eye-witness, Mandalay Bay hotel maintenance man Stephen Schuck

As a barrage of media speculation continues in any high-profile case, a series of formulaic polarizing political points become an echo chamber in its tragic aftermath. This is something that rapidly descends into wild speculation which only serves to magnify any emotionally driven aspect that might later be presented as a definitive motive to carry out a crime. Very often, we’ve seen the discovery of a seemingly ready-made manifesto, laundry list of hateful rhetoric or collected material from an alleged killer retained as ironclad proof of a crime. However, current analysis of the alleged Mandalay Bay shooter has failed to yield any such results, in spite of a chorus of overzealous and misinformed reportage from both mainstream media and alternative media there has not been any concrete material linked to Paddock thus far.

It should be mentioned that there have been a bevy of accusations suggesting various political and terror affiliations from certain alternative media circles, as mainstream media continues to float the idea that Paddock may have been radicalized, due to evidence revealing a series of cruises taken the Middle East in recent years by the alleged Las Vegas shooter. But so far these claims remain unconfirmed by authorities.

Time will tell if this line of conjecture is perhaps a red-herring meant to corral and ensnare the public by way of an overtly politicized emotional appeal.

In cases such as the Las Vegas shooting, one should be careful to not jump to any conclusions, as we’ve reached the slow drip phase by which information is being conveyed by authorities and media. While law enforcement looks to tie up loose ends and shore up any early holes or bizarre theories, its possible that a more through analysis of all the forensic data in the case will be pushed into the background, as new information may be introduced to steer critics of the official story.

It is ironic that the investigation into the Las Vegas shooting, one of the largest mass shootings in the history of America, there’s been an eerie absence of conclusive evidence concerning a number of details.

Below is an inside look at the reported hotel suite that appears oddly intact considering the massive amount of gunfire said to have taken place inside on the 32nd floor area…

Adding to that, there was a delayed release concerning a mysterious document left on a table near the alleged killer’s body that contained only numbers and no letters – this was something that introduced a cryptic backdrop into the compelling crime scene. The suspicious nature of the document then became a “psychic driver” to increase speculation while introducing another unexplained element from the crime scene.

The whole circumstance took on a theatricality that could push the viewer out of a critical investigative mode and into a partially synthetic frame of thinking regarding the murky contents of the alleged communiqué.

Over this past week, reports suggested that the document at the scene may have contained calculations used by the shooter for maximum firearm accuracy. On the surface, this would appear to lend itself to the official story but in reality all it does is lead to more questions, as contradictory claims over exactly how the dramatic shooting occurred would also seem to contradict analysis of ballistics, as the amount of victims wounded or killed would most likely have been far more significant if the shooting was based on sniper-like calculations that may have made use of hundreds to thousands of either .223 or 308 caliber rounds – not to mention the possibility of a belt-fed machine gun scenario using other caliber rounds.

In recent years21WIRE has documented that frequently there is much more involved behind-the-scenes when it comes to high-profile attacks in America, particularly of those said to be ‘lone wolf’ variety. The incidents themselves are quickly taken out of the forensic realm despite early police reportage, eye-witness testimony or statistic improbability. In this way, the narrative gives way to a hyper-realized account that defies logic and reason.

Other recent reports reveal that the well-known casino mogul Steve Wynn, self serving or not, has shed light on the particular protocol carried out by casino employees. Below is a passage from the NY Post on this aspect of the story:

“Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn suggested Sunday that Stephen Paddock would have set off alarm bells at his properties had he tried launching his mass murder from one of them.

Wynn, after whom the glitzy Wynn Las Vegas on the Strip is named, said his housekeeping staff is trained to do a visual inspection any time they enter a room, adding that a “Do Not Disturb” sign on a door for longer than 12 hours is investigated.

“The scenario that we’re aware of would have indicated that [Paddock] didn’t let anyone in the room for two or three days,” Wynn told “Fox News Sunday.” “That would have triggered a whole bunch of alarms here.”

Below is the scanner audio shortly after the crime was reported to police…

Moreover, many conspiratorial claims that have yet to still be fully explained or even be appropriately addressed by authorities have exploded on the internet. This has led to a growing speculation that has only deepened the mystery behind this America’s latest mass tragedy. As authorities have yet to uncover a clear motive for the crime, police scanner audio, along with eye-witness testimony, has suggested that multiple shooters may have been at the scene.

The amount of independent examination regarding this case thus far is fairly staggering and in the wake of any multilayered event, one must proceed with caution when reviewing the available evidence, as the doorway for a ‘trial by media’ frenzy in both mainstream media and alternative media could be used to derail sincere analysis.

Although the scanner audio is chaotic, the police dispatch communication appears to reveal some startling information contradicting the official story surrounding the Las Vegas mass shooting. While any event contains its share of confusion, the specific acknowledgement of an apparent active shooter or shooters within the fairgrounds of the concert venue, point to a deeper more complex methodology used to carry out the attack. Rather intriguingly, the scandal plagued NY Times published sections of these scanner recordings for public inspection, which could be an attempt by mainstream media to diminish or control any information regarding potential multiple shooters.

In spite of ongoing media meddling, there’s been some compelling accounts suggesting that there may have been gunfire from multiple locations by law enforcement and citizens alike. While the authenticity of these claims could be a matter of debate, these unexplained accounts have been larger ignored by mainstream media.

*WARNING* – Graphic content in the video below.

Here’s a forensic analysis from YouTube user Genesis CNC investigating the auditory anomalies at the Las Vegas shooting…

Below is episode #205 of the Sunday Wire, listen as ACR’s HesherJay Dyer of Jay’s Analysis and myself, discuss larger historical themes concerning the Las Vegas mass shooting, while taking a look at the available ballistic evidence, as well as exploring the possibility of multiple shooters and other strange anomalies surrounding the case… 

Other questions have emerged regarding the absence of witness accounts from anyone who stayed on the 32nd floor, although there’s been some testimony from other floors of the hotel, the citizen analysis below raises a few interesting points…

Let’s look even further into one of America’s deadliest mass shootings…

‘DEAD MAN’S HAND’ – The purported Mandalay Bay Shooter 64 year-old Stephen Paddock. Reports have made a vague mention of prescription medication  – look for this to be a focal point when this story is revisited by mainstream media.   (Image Source: kbc.co.ke)

The Las Vegas Shooter?

On October 1st, authorities revealed that 64 year-old Stephen Paddock was the suspected gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting that claimed the lives of at least 58 people and injured as many as 527 (later downgraded to 489) at an outside concert venue on the strip. The alleged “lone wolf” assailant apparently fired down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel at concert goers nearly 400 yards away at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival while Jason Aldean performed his headlining set on the final night of the event. Additional media coverage has suggested that the number of those said to be initially injured had decreased by at least twenty victims due to “double counting” at nearby local hospitals by October 3rd.

We’ve been told the apparently well-to-do Paddock, a well-known high stakes gambler among Las Vegas casinos, had been an accountant who was hunting enthusiast, a licensed pilot who had at least two planes and a boat, in a life filled with luxury cruise vacations.

‘ABOVE VIEW’ – This image displays the distance of the entire crime scene. 

Reports have also revealed that at the hotel crime scene, Paddock was supposedly equipped with at least 23 weapons, including two tripods used to shoot out of two different windows from inside his two-room hotel suite. In addition, the LVMPD suggests Paddock loaded “in excess of 10” suitcases up to his room in the days leading up to the Route 91 concert. A raid on Paddock’s properties put the overall firearm total at 47 guns, as law enforcement also recovered a large amount of explosive material from inside his vehicle at the resort hotel. Incidentally, its worth mentioning in a week where FBI combed through one of Paddock’s properties in Reno, there was a reported break-in.

NOTE – Reports of Paddock scouting other locations prior to the apparent shooting, takes public attention away from the lack of CCTV footage, the shaky timeline details and the lack of motive in the Las Vegas mass shooting crime…

Rather intriguingly, Paddock is stated to have previously been an internal auditor for the predecessor company of Lockheed Martin during the mid 1980’s. Lockheed Martin is of course among the world’s largest defense contracting companies and has been tied to other high-profile American mysteries such as the JonBenét Ramsey case. The defense contracting and intel linked giant has not disclosed exactly which predecessor employed Paddock but the Maryland-based defense contractor was formed during the merger of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta in 1995.

The discovery of Paddock’s employment history and his personal wealth has added confusion to the high stakes shock and awe shooting event that took place in Las Vegas this week.

Official reports also state that Paddock was the owner of a residence some 80 miles outside of Las Vegas in Mesquite, Nevada. In addition to that, according to public records, appeared live at an apartment complex he owned in Mesquite, Texas, while residing at retirement community in Reno with his girlfriend 62 year-old Marilou Danley. All in all, according media, the apparent “multimillionaire” Paddock, lived a transitory life, supposedly having some 27 different residences throughout the US.

According to additional media reports,

“The 64-year-old’s friends and family said they never suspected Paddock of planning a shooting, and Las Vegas police said he was not on their radar prior to him committing the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

Continuing, reports also state that

“…He [Paddock] also worked as a letter carrier for the US Postal Service in the ’70s, as an IRS agent from 1978 to 1984, adding to the obtuse profile of the suspected lone gunman.

On a strange note, the Las Vegas shooting story seemed to echo elements of a shooting that took place at a hotel and casino in the Philippine capital, Manila in June of 2017. What are the chances of this very odd coincidence?

‘WORLD TRAVELER’ -Paddock on an overseas trip believed to be the Philippines in April of 2013. (Image Source: ghananews)

As the media stylized profile of Paddock and those around him has grown, the FBI, police and media diverted the public’s attention to Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend, a former casino hostess who was supposedly out of the country in the Philippines at the time of the Mandalay Bay shooting. Danley’s trip was paid for by Paddock, who is stated to have also wired $127,000 to her family reportedly to buy a home.

Adding to the evidence concerning wired funds, intense scrutiny surrounded a suspicious claim that a mysterious woman allegedly gave a dire warning to concert goers some 45 minutes before the last night of the Route 91 Festival. The overlapping narratives were said not be related according to police, nevertheless the two different aspects were conflated, prompting Danley to be named a “person of interest” who was then flown back to the US for additional FBI questioning. Interestingly, some critics have questioned the validity of the warning prior to the concert due to the nature of the televised interview.

The search for Danley’s whereabouts prior to the Las Vegas shooting spanned some seven countries dating back to mid September and according to neighbors, she hadn’t been seen since August.

Here’s a passage from CNN that revealed the following details:

“Danley, 62, who travels on an Australian passport, arrived in the Philippines from Tokyo on September 15, then left for Hong Kong on September 22 and flew back to the Philippines on September 25, said Maria Antoinette Mangrobang, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.”

The confusing dynamic prompted Danley and her attorneys to later issue a statement claiming she had no prior knowledge of the mass shooting.

On October 10th, CBS news reported the following:

“CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports authorities were continuing to comb through Paddock’s electronic devices — including a laptop and cellphone — at the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia. So far, none of the devices point to a motive for the shooting rampage.”

This added to new details suggesting Paddock’s vague use of a freight elevator, something according top casino owner Steve Wynn, wouldn’t have happened at his property.

Here’s a second interview with Eric Paddock, the alleged shooter’s brother, who creates his own theory as to how Paddock may have gotten weapons up to the Mandalay Bay suite. Watch and listen to his baffling interview with media…

Other background information revealed that Patrick Benjamin Paddock (left photo), Paddock’s father, was apparently arrested in 1961 for robbing a Valley National Bank in Phoenix in 1960 – something which later landed the elder Paddock on the FBI’s most wanted list after escaping a 20-year prison term at Federal Correctional Institution at La Tuna, Texas. In 1978, Patrick Paddock was arrested in Oregon where he was running a bingo parlor under assumed identity Bruce Werner Ericksen.

The crystallization of Paddock’s surreal and hard to believe ancestral lineage creates a criminal hall of mirrors all the way from the mind bending counter-culture of the 1960’s to today’s Las Vegas mass shooting.

Very often with hyper-real crimes, there’s a stark portrait that emerges regarding any suspected killer and in the case of Paddock this was no exception. The man named as the Mandalay Bay shooter had no previous criminal record and was described as a quiet, generous man by family members and one alleged neighbor, as other media reports painted the apparent killer as someone who may have had trouble controlling his behavior, even suggesting he may have had an abusive personality in the past.

However, what seems to be missing in most of these cases, is a more balanced psychological profile of these “solo actors,” as there is usually an incomplete picture that makes little to no sense at all after only a handful of people who knew the purported murderer speak with media. Furthermore, you have to wonder why years of business associates and more acquaintances and friends have not come forward with any additional information.

Additionally, there have other suspicious sidebars concerning the Las Vegas shooting. One such story was posted on the message board and popular hacker hangout site, 4chan. The story in question was also discussed on Reddit, and was near carbon copy of story that transpired prior to the Oregon shooting at UCC.

Here’s a passage from a 21WIRE report regarding the October 1st, 2015 UCC shooting which was exactly two years to the day of the Las Vegas mass shooting:

As evidence of advanced knowledge of the Oregon shooting event surfaced on 4chan, many have become concerned and even suspicious of the claims. 

The following is passage is from Salon.com that discusses the suspicious alert prior to the UCC campus shooting:

“Federal officials announced they were investigating a recent 4chan exchange that appeared to predict the rampage. In a cryptic post on the /r9k board on Wednesday, an anonymous poster with an image of Pepe the Frog holding a gun reportedly posted, “Some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest. happening thread will be posted tomorrow morning. so long space robots.”

4chan has been rife with controversy since its inception, as some critics think it may indeed be a limited hangout for the intelligence community. And due to the suspect nature of the website, a bevy of internet researchers have questioned the highly orchestrated law enforcement response in the aftermath of the UCC shooting via the apparent 4chan warning.

A more recent 4chan post seemed to propel additional misinformation regarding nature of the shooting.

During this same time, SITE Intelligence injected an ‘ISIS meme’ into this event without revealing any solid evidence. This then prompted an apparent ‘official’ statement that echoed those dubious claims from ISIS. So far, these claims linger though they’ve failed to produce any connection to ISIS.

As we’ve noted numerous times here at 21WIRE, the intelligence monitoring group called SITE, has ties to both the CIA and Israeli intelligence. The group has also had ethical concerns raisedover the nature of their intel gathering in the last decade and according to the group’s founder, Rita Katz – they’ve managed to the release terror related material linked to ISIS prior to the group itself.

Kip Herriage a former financial advisor and venture capitalist from Wall Street published a reportexamining suspicious trading involving MGM on a sister site linked to his website Virtual Research Advisory. The startling passage below suggests that there was an excessive amount of shares sold off by MGM CEO/Chairman in the weeks leading up to the Las Vegas shooting.

We at 21WIRE cannot verify all of Herriage’s claims but given his background and pedigree, this post should be reviewed for further consideration, as it appears to be another strange element revealed in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre:

“We will examine the share price movements of two gun manufacturers (American Outdoor Brands and Sturm Ruger) and the share price movement of MGM (which owns Mandalay Bay). We will also examine additional financial events surrounding MGM, including what can only be referred to as massive levels of insider selling in the shares of MGM, by the CEO/Chairman and MGM officers/directors. As you’ll see, more than $200 million in MGM shares were sold in the weeks leading up to the attack.”

On October 2nd, there were reports that shares for Las Vegas casinos took a significant fall after the October 1st shooting.

CNBC disclosed those details:

“MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay hotel near where the shooting occurred, fell 5.6 percent Monday. Wynn Resorts slipped 1.2 percent. Las Vegas Sands fell as much as 2.1 percent before closing higher.”

‘LIVE DRILL’ – Las Vegas has been at the forefront of active shooter training. ( Image Source: sinclairstoryline)

Las Vegas Active Shooter Drills 

Back in 2014, during another high-profile Las Vegas shooting21WIRE revealed that Nevada officials sought to increase their budget to thwart potential terror related activity for 2014, according to KoloTV in Las Vegas:

Nevada’s Homeland Security Commission on Thursday approved a grant allocation plan that will increase funding for the region’s fusion center to nearly $1.1 million, up from $750,000 this year.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Las Vegas was ranked too low on a threat assessment list to receive federal funding in the current federal budget, a move that brought swift criticism from Nevada officials.

For the coming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, Las Vegas will receive $950,000 in the special funding. That’s on top of statewide counter terrorism funding totaling $3.5 million.”

Later it was learned that funds were said to have been allocated for 20 additional ongoing programs throughout the state.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal revealed the city’s longtime practice of active shooter scenarios started in 2009 in the wake of a series suspicious intelligence linked attacks in Mumbai, India.

“Emergency responders in Las Vegas have spent years training to respond to a mass casualty event such as Sunday night’s massacre, officials said Thursday.

We knew what to do,” Clark County Fire Department Chief Greg Cassell told reporters. “It was much grander than we ever envisioned. However, we were able to handle it because of our people, our training, our professionalism and our equipment and our relationships.”

The report continued, with a focus on specific locations for shooter drills:

“Our job is to work with all first responding agencies and coordinate a response,” Clarkson said.

After the plan was developed, emergency responders ran drills at hospitals, hotels, schools and malls.

“Because that’s where historically these things are taking place,” Cassell said.”

Here’s footage of a Las Vegas Active shooter drill taking place at City Hall in August of 2016…

Interestingly, the night of the Las Vegas shooting there have been other claims surrounding additional information concerning active shooter related activity, which could support other theories and suspicious activity said to have taken place the same night as the tragic events unfolded at the Route 91 Festival.

COINTELPRO, Gangs and Counter-gangs

Some questions have emerged from the ether of the internet concerning the FBI and the Las Vegas shooting.

Over the past several years, the FBI has been routinely caught foiling their very own “terror plots.”

QUESTION: Is it possible the FBI or any or intelligence agency played some part in the Las Vegas massacre – whether inadvertently or otherwise?

In the search for answers regarding the investigative tactics of various intelligence agencies that have come into question, there’s none perhaps more dubious than the Newburgh FBI sting that resulted in the entrapment four men who participated in a fabricated event created by the bureau.

Here’s a 2011 passage from The Guardian describing how a FBI informant named Shahed Hussain coerced four others into a fake terror plot:

“The “Newburgh Four” now languish in jail. Hussain does not. For Hussain was a fake. In fact, Hussain worked for the FBI as an informant trawling mosques in hope of picking up radicals.

Yet far from being active militants, the four men he attracted were impoverished individuals struggling with Newburgh’s grim epidemic of crack, drug crime and poverty. One had mental issues so severe his apartment contained bottles of his own urine. He also believed Florida was a foreign country.

Hussain offered the men huge financial inducements to carry out the plot – including $250,000 to one man – and free holidays and expensive cars.

As defence lawyers poured through the evidence, the Newburgh Four came to represent the most extreme form of a controversial FBI policy to use invented terrorist plots to lure targets. “There has been no case as egregious as this. It is unique in the incentive the government provided. A quarter million dollars?” said Professor Karen Greenberg, a terrorism expert at Fordham University.”

The reputation of the FBI has suffered greatly in the recent past as well as over the past couple of decades. Following the 1993 WTC bombing, the FBI was revealed to have been ‘handling’ Emad A. Salem, a former Egyptian army officer who was a prized undercover operative thrust into confidential informant status and person who played a key role in the bomb plot.

Domestically in America, it has been well documented that the FBI created a counter-intelligence program known as COINTELPRO, not only as a way to influence, but also a way to disrupt and coerce political factions from the inside out. The FBI program infiltrated countless groups and movements across the political spectrum.

According to reports these groups included but were not limited to the following,

“The Black Panther Party, The Communist Party of America, the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, the New Left, the Students for a Democratic Society, the American Indian Movement, the Chicano Movement, the Puerto Rican Liberation Movement, Communist groups, anti-war organizations, Hollywood stars sympathetic to these groups, and civil rights leaders.” 

On March 8th 1971, “secret files” from the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, were allegedly stolen and subsequently released to media organizations, revealing for the first time the scope of the FBI’s domestic spying and infiltration on political and protest groups in America. After two months of planning, a group calling themselves “The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI,” decided to break-in to a small town FBI office the same night as the first historic bout between heavyweight boxers Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden.

Some of the Citizens’ Commission members involved in the Media office burglary were never revealed and rather strangely, the case was never solved – even though 200 FBI agents had worked the case. In fact, “there were no alarms, surveillance cameras, or locks on most of the filing cabinets,” at the FBI office in Media.

The courts later ordered the FBI to reveal part of their counterintelligence program, disclosing six operations run by FBI field offices throughout the country. The documents also revealed a specific emphasis to funnel covert aid to “White Hate Groups,” from 1964-71, that largely diverted those funds to the KKK, as long as they choose COINTEL PRO targets. Similarly, FBI efforts to infiltrate New Left groups and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) fixating on ant-war, student and feminist causes.

Between 1956 and 1971 the FBI’s controversial program influenced and radicalized hundreds of left-wing and right-wing groups to control and neutralize political dissidents across America.

Also throughout the 1960’s and the 1970’s the CIA’s Operation CHAOS “collected substantial amounts of information on domestic dissidents from 1967 to 1973,” as admitted by the CIA. The secretive intelligence operation was also related to the overseas Phoenix Program (Operation Phoenix) which was used in Vietnam to tear apart the political infrastructure through the use of informants, agent provocateurs, and targeted assassinations.

Interestingly though, the prototype for modern deep state intelligence programs goes back to the formation of the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) an intelligence propaganda agency in 1941 that was succeeded by Office of Strategic Services (OSS) a wartime intelligence apparatus created in 1942 that focused on psychological warfare. OSS agents also worked closely with  British Security Coordination (BSC).

Similarly, on a global scale, NATO’s paramilitary-style stay-behind-armies were said to have comprised Operation GLADIO. The origins of GLADIO have been well documented and the secretive counterintelligence operation has been linked to a wave of right-wing ‘false flag’ terror attacks across Europe throughout the 1950’s into the 1980’s. The anti-communist organizational designs were directly connected to that of the CIA and MI6 in particular, with the US and British special forces reportedly facilitating the training.

From this, we can view global operations like GLADIO in addition to the post-9/11 “War On Terror” security surge as a form of ‘power politics’ used to aggressively influence the foreign policy of other nations through the use of covert militarization.

Below Dr. Daniele Ganser discusses his seminal 2005 book (above left photo), NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe. Ganser asserts that covert armies were used to subvert the political interests of various nations through the implementation of a Cold-War era ‘strategy of tension’…

Here at 21WIRE, we’ve kept a running report on ‘known wolf’ actors involved in many attacks on Western soil, here’s another look at other suspicious intelligence informant and terror cases that have held that distinction over the years:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (see his story here)
Buford Rogers
 (see his story here)
Jerad Miller (see his story here)
Naji Mansour (see his story here)
Quazi Mohammad Nafis (see his story here)
Mohamed Osman Mohamud (see his story here)
Timothy McVeigh (see his story here)
Salim Benghalem (see his story here)
Michael Adebolajo (see his story here)
Daba Deng (see his story here)
Elton Simpson (see his story here)
Man Haron Monis (see his story here)
Abu Hamza (see his story here)
Haroon Rashid Aswat (see his story here)
Glen Rodgers (see his story here)
Omar Mateen (see his story here)
Tashfeen Malik (see her story here)
Djamel Beghal  (see his story here)
Anjem Choudary (see his story here)
Cherif Kouachi (see his story here)
Said Kouachi (see his story here)
Amedy Coulibaly (see his story here)
Hayat Boumeddiene (see her story here)
Salah Abdeslam (see his story here)
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (see his story here)
Nidal Malik Hassan (see his story here)
Abdelhakim Dekhar  (see his story here)
Abdelhamid Abaaoud (see his story here)
Samy Amimour (see his story here)
Ismaël Omar Mostefaï (see his story here)
Mohamed Lahouij Bouhlel (see his story here)
Anis Amri (see his story here)
Esteban Santiago-Ruiz (see his story here)
Abdulkadir Masharipov (see his story here)
Khalid Masood (see his story here)
Khuram Butt (see his story here)
Youssef Zaghba (see his story here)

Following America’s previous most deadly mass shooting in Orlando were reports revealing that the FBI had a close relationship with the suspected attacker through the use of a well-known confidential informant. Similarly, recent reports state that “FBI, court filings have revealed how the agency allowed an alleged ‘home grown’ ISIS attack to take place in Garland, Texas.” 21WIRE previously uncovered suspicious elements in the cartoon event in Garland back when it happened.

QUESTION: Could this have been this case in the Las Vegas shooting, or was something else at play?

Shortly after the Pulse nightclub shooting attack in Orlando, it was revealed that the suspected gunman Omar Mateen had been attending services at a Mosque, meeting with a known FBI informant named Marcus Dwayne Robertson (see left – also played role in 1993 WTC bombing). Robertson was a former US Marine turned bank robber turned radical imam. Here’s this passage from Fox News describing Robertson’s role in backdrop of the Orlando shooting saga:

“It is no coincidence that this happened in Orlando,” said a law enforcement source familiar with Robertson’s history of recruiting terrorists and inciting violence. Mateen was enrolled in [Robertson’s online] Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary.

Robertson and several associates were rounded up for questioning early Sunday, according to law enforcement sources, a development his attorney refused to confirm or deny.”

Back in June of 2016, here at 21WIRE, we discussed how the most important aspect of the FBI supplied 911 transcript had gone virtually unnoticed – as there was nothing in the contents of the transcript that discussed an actual shooting occurring inside of the Pulse nightclub.

While the report was a basic outline of ‘America’s largest mass shooting‘ it failed to account for any of the shootings said to have occurred within the interior of Pulse. There was no mention of bar patrons being shot or reportedly shot at in the FBI’s official narrative. It’s as if the mainstream media and authorities left out the biggest piece of the investigation, as the implications of who shot who and when are extremely significant forensically speaking.

Even though the circumstances are different in Las Vegas and in the case of Orlando, in both events, law enforcement struggled to piece together a timeline, quickly followed by a series of revisions in the official story.

Strange Profile, Strange Coincidence?

As mainstream media and police dance around certain details that may or may not be associated with the man said to be responsible for the Las Vegas mass shooting, a mixture of raw public analysis, military expertise and online investigative work has shed light on a compelling case that could be discussed for sometime.

Here’s an interesting section from an article about two Twin Cities professors that are studying the psychological patterns of mass shootings. Here’s a passage from a recent MPR news report that suggests that Paddock’s killer profile is very unusual when compared with more than hundred case entries:

“Jillian Peterson, a Hamline University assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, and James Densley, an associate professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University, hope to better understand why mass shootings happen and identify ways to prevent them.

This shooter is a little different, compared to the data we have,” said Peterson, a forensic psychologist. “He’s significantly older than average, the average age is mid-30s. Social media presence is also something we usually see, some sort of radicalization on social media or wanting to go viral on social media. In this case the shooter was not active on social media, didn’t seem to have any social media accounts.”

While some have attempted to make sense of the Las Vegas shooting tragedy, there are reports of a heavy revamp of security in the hospitality industry through the use of gunfire detection systems, X-ray, body scanners and facial recognition in the wake of this confusing, if not partly manufactured event.

The concept of a lone wolf killer in today’s world has reprogrammed the public mind just as the serial killer phenomenon did decades ago. This new fear-based saga has ushered in improbable Hollywood-style scenarios, inducing a frozen apathy across the masses – rather than looking deeply at crime scene forensics or pour over piles of collected data, these Daily Shooter crimes hold the public psyche hostage until the next unexplained mass tragedy.

Undoubtedly, modern America’s most deadliest mass shooting has left a number of questions in its wake.

***

21WIRE associate editor Shawn Helton is a researcher and writer, specializing in forensic analysis of high-profile crime scene and counter terrorism investigations, and the deconstruction and analysis of the mass-media coverage surrounding those cases. He has compiled an extensive body of work covering a number of high-profile events since 2012.

Featured image is from the author.

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Selected Articles: US-DPRK Relations: The Calm Before the Storm?

October 14th, 2017 by Global Research News

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Truth in media is a powerful instrument. As long as we all keep probing, asking questions, looking through the disinformation to find real understanding, then we are in a better position to participate in creating a better world in which truth and accountability trump greed and corruption.

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North Korea and Trump’s “Reality Free Zone”: Tweeting About Armageddon

By Felicity Arbuthnot, October 14, 2017

When US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, stated of North Korea (4th September 2017): “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that”, she unwittingly put her finger on why the DPRK has been conducting missile tests and stating that they have ever bigger, better and longer range capabilities.

The US on the Brink of War with North Korea

By Peter Symonds, October 13, 2017

Amid accelerating US preparations for conflict with North Korea, yesterday’s night-time flight by two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula was designed to provoke a North Korean response that could be used as the casus belli for all-out war.

“Calm Before the Storm”? Trump Sends Second Aircraft Carrier to Korean Peninsula with 7,500 Marines Aboard

By Tyler Durden, October 13, 2017

Just one week after uttering his now-infamous “this is the calm before the storm” statement to the press ahead of a dinner with military leaders, we now learn that President Trump has dispatched a second nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, filled with 7,500 marines, to the Korean Peninsula.

Jimmy Carter Offers to Meet with Kim Jong-un to Prevent War with North Korea

By James Holbrooks, October 13, 2017

Carter wrote that his more than 20 years’ worth of experience in dealing with the North taught him that what the country’s leadership wants more than anything is direct talks with the U.S. that would lead to a permanent peace treaty.

Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence

By Nicolas J. S. Davies, October 13, 2017

The revelation that North Korea hacked into South Korea’s military secrets and found U.S. plans for a preemptive “decapitation” of Pyongyang’s leadership explains its rush to build a nuclear deterrent, says Nicolas J S Davies.

North-South Korea Cooperation vs. Trump’s “Fire and Fury”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 13, 2017

Washington has systematically worked against North-South Peace Relations. The October 4 agreement as well as the broader Sunshine Policy between the two Koreas was boycotted by the US in favor of continued militarization.

In Iran and North Korea, Trump Is Playing with Nuclear Fire

By Marjorie Cohn, October 12, 2017

Donald Trump‘s bombastic and frightening threats against North Korea and Iran may portend a catastrophic attack that could impact the entire world.

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When US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, stated of North Korea (4th September 2017): “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that”, she unwittingly put her finger on why the DPRK has been conducting missile tests and stating that they have ever bigger, better and longer range capabilities.

There is no certainty that either of the latter is the case, but the tiny country has been subject to nearly seventy years of vilification and ever more threatening behavior from the US and allies, with the language of Donald Trump, from near day one of his Presidency of the US regime reaching ever more apocalyptic heights.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that dialogue and communication are vital:

“Confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences … The solution must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific.”

One can only hope “diplomat” Haley – who told the UN Security Council:

“The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means …” and that North Korea was “begging for war” – was listening.

This of a country which in living memory had every town, village and its capital city near erased from the map by the United States and lost at least twenty percent, some estimates state nearer thirty percent, of it’s population of then just nine million people.

Pyongyang 1953. totally destroyed

Pyongyang rebuilt today (Trump Doesn’t like it, competes with Trump Tower?)

In 1953 when the US had destroyed all and there was nothing left to bomb they turned to bombing the dams, flooding the rice fields and causing starvation. North Korea’s government and the country’s collective and inherited memory have not forgotten and are simply attempting to insure such a horror never again afflicts their small nation.

There has been no empathy, knowledge of history, compassion in the Trumposphere. The five times draft dodger, has threatened “fire and fury” along with legality-detonating assassination of the Head of State, referring to him as “Little Rocket Man”, adding that he and his government: “won’t be around much longer.”

Kindergarten Level Rhetoric

Trump is also threatening generating the potential extinction of life on earth. His obsession with “if we’ve got nuclear weapons why don’t we use them” argument goes back decades – but his kindergarten level rhetoric shows a frightening disconnect from statesmanship, diplomacy – and reality. This is not conjecture. Twenty seven eminent psychiatrists have put their reputation on the line writing in the just published book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” (1)

“that he is dangerously mentally ill and presents a clear and present danger to the nation …  (exploring) Trump’s symptoms and potentially relevant diagnoses (they) find a complex, if also dangerously mad, man.”

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told journalists whilst on a recent visit to Beijing that the State Department had: “a couple of, three channels open to Pyongyang” and “We can talk to them … we do talk to them”, Trump tweeted: “save his energy” as “we’ll do what has to be done!”

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” wrote the President from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

How cheap human life is to a man who has never witnessed, indeed five times evaded, seeing the carnage even one bullet can do. In context, it has just come to light (3) that:

“President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room …

“According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

“The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a ‘moron.’ “

Trump has vociferously denied the report, predictably falling back on his seemingly miniscule vocabulary and calling it “fake news”, even threatening the broadcaster’s licence. So far he hasn’t threatened to nuke their New York headquarters.

Back to North Korea and the President’s chilling ignorance. On 1st October he tweeted:

“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.”

Kim Jong-un is thirty three and was formally announced as his father’s successor on 26th December 2011. He has thus been power just short of six years. Twenty five years ago he would have been eight years old.

In the last such manoeuvres in August one South Korean defense official told the newspaper Chosun Ilbo that this year’s exercises would include: “a nuclear war game for the first time.” 

USS Theodore Roosevelt Dispatched to the Korean Peninsula, October 12

Currently, in addition to the massive war games, the US has been overflying North Korea with B-52 bombers, with further exercises taking place in and with South Korea and in the last days also with Japan. It should also be remembered that the US has in the Pacific (3):

Total military personnel

87,000

US 7th Fleet

 50-70 ships and subs including …

Up to 14 destroyers and cruisers

1 aircraft carrier

Up to 12 nuclear powered submarines

140 aircraft

In South Korea

23,468 personnel

300+ tanks

In Guam

3,831 personnel

B52 bombers and fighter jets

In Hawaii

40,000 military personnel

200 ships including …

5 aircraft carriers

1,060 aircraft

Moreover, as has been pointed out (4):

“In Donald Trump’s first six months in office, he dropped over 20,650 bombs in approximately seven countries, which killed thousands of civilians. By comparison, Kim Jong-un bombs the ocean.”

The same source makes a vital point, ignored by media and politicians:

“The media’s insistence that North Korea will never give up its weapons systems is completely disingenuous when one reads the entire context of the statements offered by Kim Jong-un’s government. On July 4, Kim’s statement read as follows:

“The DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.” 

Indeed – and with arch hawk retired Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters writing an op-ed in the New York Post (4th September): “Better a million dead North Koreans than a thousand dead Americans” and with the Pyongyang government and people well aware of what happened to Libya which was persuaded to give up its weapons programme and Iraq which had done the same after 1991. Of course Kim Jong-un and his colleagues are going to try to persuade that they can give as good as they fear getting in hope of avoiding annihilation.

Given the reckless rhetoric of Trump and others, as the New York Times puts it (5):

“Congress has been sufficiently alarmed to consider legislation that would bar the president from launching a first nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

“ …  As things stand now, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, passed when there was more concern about trigger-happy generals than elected civilian leaders, gives the president sole control. He could unleash the apocalyptic force of the American nuclear arsenal by his word alone, and within minutes.” 

Moreover:

“A New York Times analysis found the U.S. could use 1,103 nuclear warheads and decimate China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Libya, Iraq, and Syria … and still have 2,897 left.”

Given that the man who tweets casually about “fire and fury” and smirks as he talks of “calm before the storm”, took the nuclear “football” (briefcase) down to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort and allowed its minder to have “selfies” taken with it, him and guests, it seems pretty clear that the current incumbent of the White House still resides in the fantasy land of reality shows with no grasp of the potential global pyromaniacal armageddon he jokes about unleashing.

Twenty seven eminent psychiatrists of course, have far more disturbing diagnoses.

Apparently he likes watching movies.

Perhaps someone should give him a copy of  “The Day After.”

Notes

1.    https://www.amazon.com/ Dangerous-Case-Donald-Trump- Psychiatrists/dp/1250179459

2.    https://www.nbcnews.com/ politics/donald-trump/trump- wanted-dramatic-increase- nuclear-arsenal-meeting- military-leaders-n809701

3.    https://www.theguardian.com/ world/2017/sep/04/north-korea- nikki-haley-sanctions-nuclear- test-begging-for-war

4.    https://nworeport.me/2017/09/ 17/north-korea-offers-to-give- up-their-nukes-media-blackout/

5.    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/ 10/11/opinion/trump-korea-war- competence.html?action=click& pgtype=Homepage&clickSource= story-heading&module=opinion- c-col-left-region&region= opinion-c-col-left-region&WT. nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Featured image is from The New Republic.

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When US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, stated of North Korea (4th September 2017): “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that”, she unwittingly put her finger on why the DPRK has been conducting missile tests and stating that they have ever bigger, better and longer range capabilities.

There is no certainty that either of the latter is the case, but the tiny country has been subject to nearly seventy years of vilification and ever more threatening behavior from the US and allies, with the language of Donald Trump, from near day one of his Presidency of the US regime reaching ever more apocalyptic heights.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that dialogue and communication are vital:

“Confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences … The solution must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific.”

One can only hope “diplomat” Haley – who told the UN Security Council:

“The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means …” and that North Korea was “begging for war” – was listening.

This of a country which in living memory had every town, village and its capital city near erased from the map by the United States and lost at least twenty percent, some estimates state nearer thirty percent, of it’s population of then just nine million people.

Pyongyang 1953. totally destroyed

Pyongyang rebuilt today (Trump Doesn’t like it, competes with Trump Tower?)

In 1953 when the US had destroyed all and there was nothing left to bomb they turned to bombing the dams, flooding the rice fields and causing starvation. North Korea’s government and the country’s collective and inherited memory have not forgotten and are simply attempting to insure such a horror never again afflicts their small nation.

There has been no empathy, knowledge of history, compassion in the Trumposphere. The five times draft dodger, has threatened “fire and fury” along with legality-detonating assassination of the Head of State, referring to him as “Little Rocket Man”, adding that he and his government: “won’t be around much longer.”

Kindergarten Level Rhetoric

Trump is also threatening generating the potential extinction of life on earth. His obsession with “if we’ve got nuclear weapons why don’t we use them” argument goes back decades – but his kindergarten level rhetoric shows a frightening disconnect from statesmanship, diplomacy – and reality. This is not conjecture. Twenty seven eminent psychiatrists have put their reputation on the line writing in the just published book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” (1)

“that he is dangerously mentally ill and presents a clear and present danger to the nation …  (exploring) Trump’s symptoms and potentially relevant diagnoses (they) find a complex, if also dangerously mad, man.”

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told journalists whilst on a recent visit to Beijing that the State Department had: “a couple of, three channels open to Pyongyang” and “We can talk to them … we do talk to them”, Trump tweeted: “save his energy” as “we’ll do what has to be done!”

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” wrote the President from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

How cheap human life is to a man who has never witnessed, indeed five times evaded, seeing the carnage even one bullet can do. In context, it has just come to light (3) that:

“President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room …

“According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

“The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a ‘moron.’ “

Trump has vociferously denied the report, predictably falling back on his seemingly miniscule vocabulary and calling it “fake news”, even threatening the broadcaster’s licence. So far he hasn’t threatened to nuke their New York headquarters.

Back to North Korea and the President’s chilling ignorance. On 1st October he tweeted:

“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.”

Kim Jong-un is thirty three and was formally announced as his father’s successor on 26th December 2011. He has thus been power just short of six years. Twenty five years ago he would have been eight years old.

In the last such manoeuvres in August one South Korean defense official told the newspaper Chosun Ilbo that this year’s exercises would include: “a nuclear war game for the first time.” 

USS Theodore Roosevelt Dispatched to the Korean Peninsula, October 12

Currently, in addition to the massive war games, the US has been overflying North Korea with B-52 bombers, with further exercises taking place in and with South Korea and in the last days also with Japan. It should also be remembered that the US has in the Pacific (3):

Total military personnel

87,000

US 7th Fleet

 50-70 ships and subs including …

Up to 14 destroyers and cruisers

1 aircraft carrier

Up to 12 nuclear powered submarines

140 aircraft

In South Korea

23,468 personnel

300+ tanks

In Guam

3,831 personnel

B52 bombers and fighter jets

In Hawaii

40,000 military personnel

200 ships including …

5 aircraft carriers

1,060 aircraft

Moreover, as has been pointed out (4):

“In Donald Trump’s first six months in office, he dropped over 20,650 bombs in approximately seven countries, which killed thousands of civilians. By comparison, Kim Jong-un bombs the ocean.”

The same source makes a vital point, ignored by media and politicians:

“The media’s insistence that North Korea will never give up its weapons systems is completely disingenuous when one reads the entire context of the statements offered by Kim Jong-un’s government. On July 4, Kim’s statement read as follows:

“The DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.” 

Indeed – and with arch hawk retired Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters writing an op-ed in the New York Post (4th September): “Better a million dead North Koreans than a thousand dead Americans” and with the Pyongyang government and people well aware of what happened to Libya which was persuaded to give up its weapons programme and Iraq which had done the same after 1991. Of course Kim Jong-un and his colleagues are going to try to persuade that they can give as good as they fear getting in hope of avoiding annihilation.

Given the reckless rhetoric of Trump and others, as the New York Times puts it (5):

“Congress has been sufficiently alarmed to consider legislation that would bar the president from launching a first nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

“ …  As things stand now, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, passed when there was more concern about trigger-happy generals than elected civilian leaders, gives the president sole control. He could unleash the apocalyptic force of the American nuclear arsenal by his word alone, and within minutes.” 

Moreover:

“A New York Times analysis found the U.S. could use 1,103 nuclear warheads and decimate China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Libya, Iraq, and Syria … and still have 2,897 left.”

Given that the man who tweets casually about “fire and fury” and smirks as he talks of “calm before the storm”, took the nuclear “football” (briefcase) down to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort and allowed its minder to have “selfies” taken with it, him and guests, it seems pretty clear that the current incumbent of the White House still resides in the fantasy land of reality shows with no grasp of the potential global pyromaniacal armageddon he jokes about unleashing.

Twenty seven eminent psychiatrists of course, have far more disturbing diagnoses.

Apparently he likes watching movies.

Perhaps someone should give him a copy of  “The Day After.”

Notes

1.    https://www.amazon.com/ Dangerous-Case-Donald-Trump- Psychiatrists/dp/1250179459

2.    https://www.nbcnews.com/ politics/donald-trump/trump- wanted-dramatic-increase- nuclear-arsenal-meeting- military-leaders-n809701

3.    https://www.theguardian.com/ world/2017/sep/04/north-korea- nikki-haley-sanctions-nuclear- test-begging-for-war

4.    https://nworeport.me/2017/09/ 17/north-korea-offers-to-give- up-their-nukes-media-blackout/

5.    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/ 10/11/opinion/trump-korea-war- competence.html?action=click& pgtype=Homepage&clickSource= story-heading&module=opinion- c-col-left-region&region= opinion-c-col-left-region&WT. nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Featured image is from The New Republic.

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Four dead Americans.

It’s been five years since terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, leaving four Americans dead. Last week, as CIA officers disguised in wigs and mustaches testified in court about the predawn ambush on the diplomatic compound, four other American soldiers were killed in neighboring Niger.

Most Americans may not even be aware that approximately 800 U.S. troops are stationed in Niger, a West African nation where jihadist groups have taken root. As part of the never-ending war on terror, the United States has also set up a drone base in Niger’s capital city of Niamey. Contrary to his focused commitment to reverse every policy put in place by his predecessor, President Donald Trump has decided to carry on with the construction of a second drone base in Niger commissioned by Barack Obama.

American forces have never been sanctioned to an official combat mission in Niger, a landlocked West African nation about twice the size of Texas with a population of just over 20 million people. But they have long been fighting against Islamic extremists in the country and surrounding region. On Oct. 4, four Green Berets were killed and two more injured after their group of a dozen U.S. soldiers were ambushed while conducting a joint patrol with about 40 Nigerien soldiers.

The New York Times reported that when the soldiers were ambushed, no American helicopters came to their rescue. Although Congress has never authorized the mission in Niger — as is required by the Constitution — the military’s Africa Command asked lawmakers for more help months before the attack, the Times also reported.

It remains unclear which terror group carried out the ambush, but there are reports that a new wing of the Islamic State that calls itself the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) had a hand in the deaths of the Special Forces troops — the first U.S. casualties in Niger.

Identified as Staff Sgt. Bryan Black of Washington state, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of Ohio, Sgt. La David Johnson of Florida and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Georgia, the four dead Americans, part of the Third Special Forces Group based at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg, haven’t received much attention. The White House said Trump was notified about the attack in Niger shortly after it happened last Wednesday night. A week later, he still hasn’t sent one tweet or released any official statement about the death of four Americans. He has written more than 60 tweets about Benghazi, another terror attack in the same region of Africa that resulted in four dead Americans.

The White House has remained curiously mum about this terror attack, exactly the sort of event it would normally use to score political points. Even though he sent Vice President Mike Pence to Indiana — at great taxpayer expense — to showboat over the flag at an NFL game on Sunday, Trump couldn’t be bothered to head to Dover Air Force Base to greet the flag-draped coffin of one of the soldiers he claims to honor on Monday. Instead, the president was busy playing golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Recall how much was made of President Obama’s round of golf after stopping to address the beheading of American James Foley by ISIS? Or the hours of cable news coverage devoted to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s supposedly disingenuous statement to the grieving families three days after the Benghazi attack?

Republicans were quick to accuse the Obama administration of crafting a faulty political narrative in the aftermath of Benghazi. Fox News told its viewers for years that Obama may have “sacrificed Americans” as part of a “political calculation” to win re-election.

Now that such an attack has happened on Trump’s watch, where are the specious accusations of a stand-down order?

Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the surviving U.S. security contractors who were on the ground in Benghazi during the terrorist attack, slammed Clinton for lacking a “sense of urgency.” Just one week before the Niger ambush, Paronto suggested in a tweet that Clinton failed to stop the attack because she didn’t consider the consulate staff American:

Donald Trump used a similar talking point frequently on the campaign trail.

Noting that U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, a personal friend of Clinton’s, was among the victims, Trump said in a June 2016 speech:

“What she did with him was absolutely horrible. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.”

Trump has remained so silent on Niger that Breitbart News was successfully duped over the weekend by a parody account that tweeted presidential condolences. The sadly remarkable truth that the Trump-loving conservative media is burying is that these soldiers’ commanding officers have made statements — but their commander-in-chief has not.

While it was immediately apparent that conservative outrage over the  Benghazi attack was rooted in politics, we now know that much of its reaction was also a projection of what they would have done in power. The response to the ambush in Niger makes clear that Benghazi was never about embassy security, just as the revelation that both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used personal emails while in the White House showed that conservative outrage over Hillary Clinton’s emails was never about secure government communications.

Not one prominent figure in the Republican Party would dare suggest that Trump’s neglect of the ambush serves to further a political narrative — one that claims one ISIS’ reign of terror is in decline on his watch.

Following the ambush in Niger, Fox News has failed to mention the infamous terror group in its few on-air reports of the four dead Americans. Instead, the conservative cable news network reported on Monday that U.S. troops were on the verge of successfully running ISIS out of Iraq. On Tuesday, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld delivered a monologue demanding that Trump be given the credit.

Bombing the crap out of them, killing everyone they know — it seems to work. Who would have thought? Oh, yeah, President Trump. It’s something for which he gets no credit. He’s literally ending ISIS … So laugh all you want about the tired phrase, “There’s a new sheriff in town.” I think ISIS got that message. And while we have to careful of the “mission accomplished” syndrome, what is undeniable is that ISIS is off the front pages and on their last legs.

Behold the mythmaking in action

Fox News producers no doubt know that Niger could be Trump’s Benghazi because they created the media and political spectacle of Benghazi out of nearly nothing. While the president has kept his detractors distracted with petty drama, Fox is helping him sweep a real scandal under the rug.

Sophia Tesfaye is the Deputy Politics Editor at Salon.

Featured image is from Anurake Singto-on/Shutterstock.

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The US on the Brink of War with North Korea

October 13th, 2017 by Peter Symonds

Amid accelerating US preparations for conflict with North Korea, yesterday’s night-time flight by two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula was designed to provoke a North Korean response that could be used as the casus belli for all-out war.

The supersonic bombers were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets for the first joint night-time training exercise that involved practicing air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then off the west coast. This rehearsal for war with North Korea followed another first when two B-1B bombers late last month flew the furthest north along the North Korean coast since the start of this century.

At the same time, the Pentagon is assembling a naval armada off the Korean Peninsula. The nuclear attack submarine USS Tucson arrived off South Korea on Saturday. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group of cruisers and destroyers is due to arrive later this month for joint exercises with the South Korean navy. Two Australian frigates are also en route to Korean waters.

The Trump administration’s relentless campaign of bellicose threats and military provocations makes clear that the danger of a catastrophic war, which could drag in major powers such as China and Russia and escalate into a nuclear exchange, is real and imminent. As he faces a mounting political crisis at home, the US president may see a war with North Korea as a means of shoring up his administration and crushing domestic political opposition.

From the standpoint of military logic, the US has deliberately placed the Pyongyang regime in an impossible situation. In his fascistic rant at the UN last month, Trump declared that North Korea confronted “total destruction” unless it capitulated completely to US demands. He flatly ruled out any negotiations with Pyongyang when he rebuked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for “wasting his time” in sending out diplomatic feelers.

North Korea’s foreign minister responded to Trump’s UN speech by declaring that it amounted to a declaration of war and warned that his country had the right to take countermeasures, including the shooting down of US strategic bombers in international airspace. Yet the Pentagon has continued to send B-1Bs to conduct war games in close proximity to North Korea.

Confronted with the most powerful military on the planet armed to the teeth with thousands of nuclear weapons, the Pyongyang regime could conclude that it has to attack first, including with its limited nuclear arsenal, before its military is totally destroyed. Each B-1B flight poses the immediate question to the generals in Pyongyang: is this another drill, or the start of an all-out attack?

In Washington, the military is being prepared and primed for war against North Korea. In a keynote speech to top army officers on Monday, Defence Secretary James Mattis insisted that the military had to be “ready to ensure we have military options that our president can employ if needed.”

The Army Association paraphrased General Robert Abrams, commander of US Army Forces Command, who spoke at the same event as saying,

“Sending American forces to fight a World War II-style all-out war would mean facing a harsh reality: Troops will die, and in large numbers. “

Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford met with Trump on Tuesday to review military options, including “to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.” In other words, the Trump administration is on the brink of an illegal war of aggression on the pretext that North Korea’s small nuclear arsenal poses a threat to the US.

A US attack on North Korea would inevitably lead to a confrontation with China and Russia, which have repeatedly called for an easing of tensions and a return to negotiations. A war on their borders and the installation of a US puppet regime in Pyongyang cuts directly across their strategic interests in Asia. Moreover, the subjugation of North Korea is part of Washington’s far broader ambition to undermine, encircle and, if necessary, go to war with China to ensure American hegemony in Asia and the world.

Trump has accelerated the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” against Beijing on every front—diplomatically, economically and militarily. He has strengthened US ties throughout the region, threatened China with trade war and confronted Beijing militarily, not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the South China Sea. On Tuesday, a US navy destroyer carried out another provocative intrusion near China’s Paracel Islands to challenge Beijing’s “excessive maritime claims.”

The US drive to war is not simply the product of the fascistic President Trump. Rather, he is the expression of the deepening political, social and economic crisis of American imperialism, which has sought to arrest its historic decline through its aggressive use of military might. Having created one disaster after another in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, Washington is upping the ante and preparing for a direct conflict with its major rivals, China and Russia in the first instance.

The danger of war is further heightened by the immense turmoil and conflicts within the American political establishment, including in the White House, and more broadly, popular opposition to war and austerity. Trump is publicly at odds with both Tillerson and Mattis, who have suggested that diplomatic efforts need to be exhausted before any attack on North Korea—not because they are opposed to war, but because they fear the immediate eruption of a mass anti-war movement in the event of undisguised US aggression.

The bitterness of the infighting was underscored when a well-sourced NBC article last week revealed that Tillerson had threatened to resign and called Trump “a moron” following a top-level Pentagon meeting.

On Wednesday, NBC reported that what prompted Tillerson to make that remark was a proposal by Trump to increase the number of US nuclear weapons ten-fold, which would put the US in violation of all existing nuclear treaties and effectively render it a pariah state.

In a chilling expression of the type of crackdown that could be imposed in the context of a further escalation against North Korea, Trump threatened in a tweet to suspend NBC’s broadcasting license over the story.

The deep divisions in American ruling circles that are fuelling speculation about Trump’s impeachment were summed up in a Washington Post editorial on Tuesday headlined “What to do with an unfit president.”

Far from halting the drive to war, the political crisis only adds to the danger. Beset with conflict at home, Trump is being propelled to extricate himself by seeking to project political and social tensions outwards against a foreign foe. His critics and opponents are not opposed to war—many are criminally culpable for the US acts of aggression over the past 25 years. The differences are purely tactical—how to attack and who to attack first.

Without the development of a mass anti-war movement of the working class in the United States and internationally, war is not only possible but inevitable. Such a movement cannot be based on appeals to the powers-that-be, but rather on a revolutionary socialist perspective to abolish the diseased capitalist order that threatens to drag humanity into the abyss.

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This week it was announced that China has established a ‘payment versus payment‘ (PVP) system to clear Chinese yuan and Russian ruble transactions. The aim, we’re told, is to to “reduce risks and improve the efficiency” of its foreign exchange system.

The new mechanism, which could rival the long-held monopoly of the US SWIFT inter-bank payment system (allowing for simultaneous settlement of transactions in two different currencies) was launched on Monday after receiving approval from China’s central bank, according to a statement by the country’s foreign exchange trading system.

However, financial oligarchs in Wall Street will view this move as an act of aggression in challenging the preeminence of the US dollar as the planet’s global reserve currency – which is inextricably tied and nearly completely dependent on the US ‘Petrodollar’ to prop-up the value of the US fiat currency. Georgetown University scholars note here:

Since petrodollars and petrodollar surpluses are by definition denominated in U.S. dollars, then purchasing power is dependent on the U.S. rate of inflation and the rate at which the U.S. dollar is exchanged (whenever there is need for convertibility) by other currencies in international money markets. It follows that whenever economic or other factors affect the U.S. dollar, petrodollars will be affected to the same magnitude. The link, therefore, between the U.S. dollar and petrodollar surpluses, in particular, has significant economic, political, and other implications.

First, the placement of petrodollar surpluses of the Arab oil exporting nations in the United States may be regarded politically as hostage capital. In the event of a major political conflict between the United States and an Arab oil-exporting nation, the former with all its military power can confiscate or freeze these assets or otherwise limit their use.

China to Buy Saudi Oil in Yuan

This breaking development coincides with other recent moves, including news that China will “compel” Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan. If this happens, the rest of the global oil market could follow suit, which would spell catastrophe for the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Yuan pricing of oil is coming, economist says from CNBC.

These two stories are absolutely linked. This is full-frontal challenge to the Anglo-American World Order.

Russia and China are also working behind the scenes to shore-up their precious metal/gold trading standards, possibly in preparation of a new ‘gold-backed’ currency valuation initiative.

Zero Hedge adds:

CFETS said it plans to introduce PVP systems for yuan transactions with other currencies based on China’s Belt and Road initiative, and complying with the process of renminbi [Yuan] internationalization. Russia, however, is a top priority: the world’s biggest oil producer recently became the largest source of oil for China, the world’s top energy consumer.

To be sure, the monetary convergence between Beijing and Moscow is hardly new. The most notable recent development took place in April, when the Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade. As the South China Morning Post reported at the time, the new office was part of agreements made between the two neighbours “to seek stronger economic ties” since the West brought in sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and the oil-price slump hit the Russian economy.

At the time, Vladimir Shapovalov, a senior official at the Russian central bank, said the two central banks were drafting a memorandum of understanding to solve technical issues around China’s gold imports from Russia, and that details would be released soon, to which we said that If Russia – the world’s fourth largest gold producer after China, Japan and the US – is indeed set to become a major supplier of gold to China, the probability of a scenario hinted by many over the years, namely that Beijing is preparing to eventually unroll a gold-backed currency, increases by orders of magnitude.

***

Expect that the West not to take this major financial challenge by China and Russia lying down. Washington may use its North Korea, Myanmar or Philippines cards – as a means to increase its leverage in Asia, in an effort to extract Chinese concessions, and head-off China’s new financial ascendancy.

Featured image is from 21st Century Wire.

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VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Hurricanes Maria and Irma caused vast destruction in Puerto Rico, creating humanitarian crisis conditions for millions.

Instead of massive amounts of vitally needed aid and debt relief, the Trump administration requested House and Senate members authorize a $4.9 billion loan to the island as part of $36.5 billion in disaster relief – plus a $150 million loan, matching FEMA grants, increasing its unrepayable indebtedness instead of responsibly cancelling it.

Funds loaned are intended for maintaining basic government operations, nothing for devastated Puerto Ricans.

Most on the island still lack power. They have limited access to food, fuel and clean drinking water.

Estimated hurricane damage is around $95 billion, according to Governor Ricardo Rossello.

“Puerto Rico is on the brink of a massive liquidity crisis that will intensify in the immediate future,” he said.

House legislation provides emergency funding for hurricane and wildfire relief – earmarked for business interests, not devastated Texas and Florida residents, or Californians affected by wildfires.

Legislation includes $18.7 billion for FEMA’s disaster relief fund, another $16 billion to replenish the flood insurance program.

House members passed legislation on Thursday, Senate members taking up similar legislation next week.

Puerto Rico is insolvent. Its indebtedness is around $74 billion – plus another $50 billion in pension obligations. Last May it declared quasi-bankruptcy.

Creditors were unwilling to grant concessions. Pensioners and workers nearing retirement may lose out altogether.

Before hurricane devastation, Trump said they’ll be no “bailout” for Puerto Rico. Unlike US counties, cities and other municipalities, states and US territories can’t declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy, allowing them to restructure debt.

Puerto Rico faces a long, painful struggle ahead, debt-entrapped by creditors, ill-served by uncaring Washington, mismanaged by corrupt officials, a deplorable situation, affecting its poor and most vulnerable hardest – compounded by hurricane devastation and uncaring US officials.

Economist Mark Weisbrot explained cancelling Puerto Rico’s debt and providing significant federal aid is its only chance to recover. Its residents are US citizens. Its political status denies them legal rights.

They’re treated like colonial subjects, enduring crushing austerity because of the island’s insolvency. They pay federal taxes without congressional representation, getting back pathetically little in return.

They suffer from mismanagement, political greed, widespread corruption, deplorable social services, and monied interests exploiting them, enforced by police state harshness.

Debt-entrapped, Puerto Rico is forced to pay bankers and other creditors at the expense of responsibly serving its residents.

Recovery under favorable conditions will take years. Given federal indifference to the island’s misery, devastation in large parts of it could go unaddressed indefinitely.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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Featured image: Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Vladimir Putin at the funerals of late Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov, December 2016

Uzbekistan’s new leader has spent his first year in office undoing his predecessor’s legacy, implementing an Erdogan-like “Zero Problems With Neighbors” approach mixed with a Deng Xiaoping-inspired “economic opening” in order to turn his geostrategically positioned Central Asian state into a New Silk Road powerhouse.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was chosen by the Uzbekistani elite to replace long-running but suddenly deceased President Islam Karimov in early September 2016, with his appointment being legitimized by the people in a nationwide election that December. Contrary to what could have been expected given the country’s severe vulnerability to Hybrid War, the political transition in this “national democracy”went off without a hitch, which demonstrates that the Uzbekistani powerbrokers in the economic, clan-based, and security spheres were able to come to a pragmatic agreement in the interest of national stability. Bearing in mind the political-economic reforms that Mirziyoyev has initiated since entering into office, it can be reasonably presumed that they selected him because they saw an historic opportunity to modernize a rigid system in order to flexibly adapt their country to the New Silk Road reality of 21st-century multipolar geopolitics.

It’s with this in mind that Forbes writer Kenneth Rapoze published his well-researched September 2017 piece titled “Eurasia’s Latest Economic Reboot Can Be Found In Uzbekistan”, which does a surprisingly good job documenting the changes that the Central Asian state has undergone since the passing of Karimov. Many of these have gone unnoticed to all but the most astute observers because of the landlocked state’s traditional opacity and the lack of interest that its more mundane developments have generated from most Mainstream Media outlets, but the political-economic reforms taking place in Uzbekistan right now are nevertheless very important in the general scheme of things because they’re positioning the country to become a powerhouse along the New Silk Road. To that effect, Rapoze spoke about two main trends that are guiding the state’s policy in this regard, and the present analysis will briefly highlight the key points that he brought up, add some additional insight to them, and then conclude with an assessment of the Hybrid War risks that could offset the country’s geostrategic destiny.

“Zero Problems With Neighbors”

The Forbes writer correctly notes that Mirziyoyev has sought to repair the damaged regional relations that he inherited from his predecessor by visiting three of the four former Soviet Republics surrounding his country and symbolically allowing direct flights to the capital of neighboring rival Tajikistan. What the writer didn’t include in his analysis is that President Putin travelled to Uzbekistan for Karimov’s funeral, and that Mirziyoyev then returned the heartfelt gesture by visiting Moscow earlier this spring. The rapprochement between the two wayward partners continued apace and recently saw them commence their first bilateral military exercises in 12 years. Syncretizing all of these positive moves into a single policy, it appears as though Mirziyoyev is applying Erdogan’s former approach of “Zero Problems With Neighbors”, albeit in a more sincere manner than the Turkish leader did prior to 2011 and without the threat of a “deep state” (in Turkey’s case, Gulenist) conspiracy to offset it.

Uzbekistan’s new Turkish-modelled policy is designed to boost its regional standing and solidify its status as a crucial New Silk Road transit state, taking advantage of the fact that the country has Central Asia’s largest population (and therefore market potential) and strongest military. It already provides secure transit for several Chinese-Turkmen pipelines, and could in the future become the central node along a Central Asian high-speed railway connecting the People’s Republic of China with the Islamic Republic of Iran. In terms of north-south connectivity, it could also function as Russia’s gateway to Afghanistan, just as it did during the Soviet era, and should the Central-South Asian state eventually stabilize in the future, then Uzbekistan could become the middleman in facilitating Russian-Pakistani overland trade. Therefore, this strategically positioned country is poised to play an irreplaceable role in competitive connectivity projects, though in order to do that, it needs to reform its monetary system first.

New Silk Road map

“Opening Up”

Rapoze’s article interestingly compares Mirziyoyev to China’s famous economic reformer Deng Xiaoping in highlighting just how transformational his fledgling presidency is already shaping out to be. The writer notes how the most important domestic structural change that’s taken place thus far in Uzbekistan is Tashkent’s implementation of a currency convertibility system to be fully in place by 2019. This, he remarks, will facilitate foreign direct investment and transition of the “informal economy” into the formal sphere. This move shouldn’t be underestimated by any observers because it lays at the basis of Uzbekistan’s economic renaissance and has the potential to transition from being an agricultural-exporting economy to a more diversified one in providing manufacturing, logistical, energy, mineral (including uranium), service sector, and other capacities to Eurasian clients all along the New Silk Road, be it across the east-west horizontal or the north-south vertical.

To explain, the inclusion of previously “black market” activities into the formal economy could instantly improve Uzbekistan’s macroeconomic indicators, which in turn could attract more foreign direct investment that would in and of itself be facilitated by the country’s long-overdue currency convertibility system.  Taking into consideration Uzbekistan’s prime geostrategic location and impressive labor-market potential (as derived from its large population), the cumulative effect of all of these reforms would be to position the state into becoming the all-around regional leader, which was Karimov’s vision all along despite the shortcomings in his policy applications. Tashkent’s emulation of Beijing’s late-1970s “opening up” policy pioneered by Deng Xiaoping provides the much-needed stimulus in systematically stabilizing Central Asia by removing the socio-economic risks which had previously made Uzbekistan susceptible to poverty-exploited Color Revolutions and jihadist recruitment. That said, there are also certain Hybrid War vulnerabilities that can’t be ignored.

Can “Oʻzbekiston” Be Offset?

“Oʻzbekiston”, as it’s referred to in the Turkic-related Uzbek language, faces the risk of having its exciting Silk Road future offset by Hybrid Wars and an Afghan conflict overspill. There’s always the lingering and latent risk that an unexpected Color Revolution (potentially “crypto”-Tajik-linked) could develop and transition into a Hybrid War, one that could be exacerbated by a sudden bout of elite infighting/rivalry (possibly between the security services) and which might seek to exploit the country’s clan-based society. This could happen independently or concurrent with an overspill of the Afghan conflict into Uzbekistan’s southern Surxondaryo Region, whether in “hard” terms such as through armed fighters or through “soft” ones such as the dissemination of radical ideologies. Along the lines of the Afghan tangent, Tashkent is thought to have close ties to Afghan Vice President Abdul Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, who’s an extremely polarizing figure in Afghanistan because of his heavy-handed military methods, and it can’t be discounted that simmering discontent against this de-facto exiled politician might eventually manifest itself in ethnic violence against his compatriots in sparking an Uzbek-Afghan crisis that might tempt Tashkent into a “humanitarian intervention”.

The above scenarios are of course speculative but based on reasonable risks and previous political patterns elsewhere, though upon seriously considering them, it seems like the chances of them happening anytime soon are minimal, barring of course some unforeseen events. Accepting that Uzbekistan appears to be stable, albeit still Hybrid War-susceptible, state, there are legitimate grounds for optimism about its future, though provided that it continues along its present trajectory and forthcoming (possibly even political-electoral) reforms are carried out properly. Tashkent needs to ensure that the socio-economic disparity between its majority-impoverished populace and comparatively wealthier elite doesn’t continue to widen to the point where it foments more anti-government sentiment and is subsequently exploited by foreign forces. In the same vein, attention should be paid to the revised power relations between clans and the emergence of new political-economic(-ethnic?) elite following the country’s “opening up” and the rapid changes that this is expected to entail, as an unintended consequence could be that it shakes up the existing power structure in the country and inadvertently destabilizes it. To preempt this, the Uzbekistani security services might follow their Myanmarese counterparts in attempting to regulate this process.

Concluding Thoughts

Uzbekistan is on the cusp of fast-moving, but not necessarily uncontrollable, change because of the ambitious political-economic reforms undertaken during newly inaugurated President Mirziyoyev’s first year in office. By following in Turkish President Erdogan’s footsteps with his “Zero Problems With Neighbors” foreign policy and learning from former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s economic policy of “opening up”, Mirziyoyev is proving that he and the (largely unseen) powerbrokers behind him acutely understand the need for fundamentally redirecting the course that previous President Karimov had put Uzbekistan on, and this determination couldn’t have come at a better geostrategic time. Karimov was actually very good for Uzbekistan in the overall sense considering the difficult domestic, regional, and global circumstances in which he had to rule, and when remembering the threat that the Islamist-fueled Tajik Civil War and “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” terrorist group posed to his country’s existence at the time, it can be said that he tried (key word) to choose the most pragmatic (albeit admittedly very controversial) path possible in all ways, though this naturally had its multidimensional shortcomings and had to eventually change sooner than later.

Karimov behaved as a strict steward during the post-Cold War era of unpredictable unipolarity and the early-2000s incipient emergence of multipolarity, which made him a masterful player in the “Balance of Power” rearrangements that were taking place during that time. The late Uzbekistani President, however, was ill-equipped for adapting to the Silk Road Century that China is pioneering through its One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and his country would have been unable to properly manage its domestic and regional affairs under these game-changing conditions because of the near-impossibility that he would have had the personal humbleness to essentially admit that his former policies were insufficient for dealing with this new paradigm. Therefore, his passing couldn’t have happened at a more “opportune” time because it opened the door for the country’s elite to finally enact the necessary changes for integrating Uzbekistan into the Silk Road Century as one of its most indispensable states, starting off with a “clean slate” unencumbered by the “heavy (political) baggage” of the Karimov era. Although somewhat belated, these reforms are more timely than ever and being initiated under the “proper” circumstances.

So long as Mirziyoyev continues channeling Erdogan in the foreign policy manner through his “Zero Problems With Neighbors” approach and Deng Xiaoping via the late Chinese leader’s economic one of “opening up”, then Uzbekistan has a very positive future ahead of it in the emerging Multipolar World Order, but its security services will need to keep an eye on the country’s Hybrid War vulnerabilities and take a proactive stance in preempting any forthcoming conflicts if Uzbekistan is to retain its Karimov-era stability amidst the exciting and fast-moving changes of the Mirziyoyev period.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.

All images in this article are from the author.

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Che! – You are one of the greatest revolutionaries of the 20th Century. You inspired tens of millions of people throughout the world to fight for justice, for their freedom and civil rights. You have left a vision of hope, of never giving up – a legacy of solidarity and of Venceremos! – we shall overcome. You have been murdered by the most criminal organization of the most evil empire, the CIA of the United States of America – but your spirit lives on in Latin America, Africa, Asia and even in vassal Europe, inspiring generation after generation for class struggle, that there is universal justice that must be fought for and will be won. Che – you are a true Hero – an icon for the poor and powerless!

Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Rosario, Argentina, on 14 June 1928 and was assassinated in Higuera, Bolivia, by CIA-led Bolivian forces on 9 October 1967. It was a summary execution – no trial, no questions asked – 50 years ago. What has changed in 5 decades? – At the surface, one might say – not much. The world is still divided between the capitalist, neocolonialist west and the much more visionary and peaceful east.

However, moral consciousness is rising everywhere. There is slow progression; the vessel is slowly veering towards a more peaceful multi-polar world. Not just the ascent of Russia and China are bringing a new wind of consciousness to millions of people, but the sensation of change is noticeable everywhere – from South to North and from East to West. It is still brittle and weak – but it is growing and gaining strength. And Che – his unquestioned determination to fight for a better world – was instrumental in this awakening.

Che left Argentina in the early 1950s as a medical student, accompanied by his pal, Alberto Granado, a young doctor, on a single-cylinder sputtering 1939 Norton motor cycle – they called it “La Poderosa” (“the Mighty”), exploring the Latin American Subcontinent which they knew only from books. Granado was probably the first one to give Ernesto the famous nickname “Che” – an Argentinian equivalent to ‘buddy’ or ‘pal’. They travelled through South America and discovered misery, poverty and disease. Combining Che’s “The Motor Cycle Diaries” and Granado’s “With Che Through Latin America”, Robert Redford turned the diaries in 2004 into an epic movie that has since become as symbolic for young revolutionary rebellion as has Alberto Korda’s famous photography of Che’s.

The film portrays the two friends exposed to utmost destitution throughout South America, turning Che gradually into the revolutionary, who eventually was instrumental in freeing Cuba, at the side of Fidel and Raul Castro, from the deadly oppression of US-supported dictator, Fulgencio Batista.

During their trip, the two friends served as doctors in San Pablo, an isolated leprosy colony near Iquitos, in Peru’s Amazon region. They went their separate ways at the end of their trip in 1953 in Venezuela. Granado stayed on in Venezuela, where he felt his raison d’être was to be a medical doctor, working as a leprosy specialist in a Venezuelan hospital. It took 8 years until they met again in Havana, when Che, who by then was second-in-command to Fidel, invited Alberto Granado to Cuba, where he was to teach biology at Havana University and in 1962 created the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Santiago in Cuba.

As a medical doctor, Che saw often hopelessness and misery. When he treated once a woman dying from tuberculosis, he was horrified by the public health system: 

“How long this present order, based on the absurd idea of caste, will last is not within my means to answer, but it’s time that those who govern spent less time publicizing their own virtues and more money, much more money, funding socially useful works.”

And he continued,

“It is at times like this, when a doctor is conscious of his complete powerlessness, that he longs for change: a change to prevent the injustice of a system in which only a month ago this poor woman was still earning her living as a waitress, wheezing and panting but facing life with dignity. In circumstances like this, individuals in poor families who can’t pay their way become surrounded by an atmosphere of barely disguised acrimony; they stop being father, mother, sister or brother and become a purely negative factor in the struggle for life and, consequently, a source of bitterness for the healthy members of the community who resent their illness as if it were a personal insult to those who have to support them.”

Ernesto Che Guevara moved on from Venezuela on a cargo boat to Miami and from there through Central America to Mexico. He later learned about Guatemala’s President Arbenz’s assassination by a CIA-led coup d’état in 1954 on behalf of United Fruit – which Arbenz wanted to nationalize. Che became increasingly a revolutionary, whose goal it was to fight for justice and equality, for a better world and to free oppressed people throughout the globe from nefarious capitalism – starting with Latin America.

In Mexico, Che met with Fidel and Raul Castro. Together with a small revolutionary armada, they sailed on the now famed yacht Granma, participating in the historic 26th of July 1953 Movement (M-26-7) against the Moncada army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The assault failed. Che was injured, Castro was captured and sentenced to 15 years in prison but freed after two years in an armistice. They then returned to Mexico, where they organized and planned another, better prepared attack on the Batista regime.

In 1955, together with others by now renowned Cuban revolutionaries, like Camilo Cienfuegos and Juan Almeida Bosque, Fidel, Raul and Che formed a disciplined 82 men-strong guerilla force, aiming at overthrowing Batista. They left Veracruz, Mexico in late November 1956 and targeted the small town of Niquero, Oriente Province of Cuba. However, they were discovered by Cuban air force helicopters and had to land on 2 December 1956 on a beach called Los Colorados, about 25 km south of the designated spot where Celia Sánchez, a comrade revolutionary in Cuba, waited for them with jeeps, petrol, weapons and food. Due to the emergency landing, they could not benefit from this essential guerilla war materiel.

They fought hard against Batista’s troops and lost 70 of the 82 men that sailed aboard Granma. But they did not give up. They regrouped in the Sierra Maestra mountains, where they attracted hundreds of young Cuban volunteers. They won many battles against Batista’s army. These battles became the Cuban Revolution and eventually ended on New Year’s Eve of 1958, when they marched victoriously into Havana. In January 1959 Batista fled to the Dominican Republic.

Following the triumphant Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara gained prominence and was soon promoted to second-in-charge to Fidel. He occupied several key roles in the new government, like instituting the agrarian land reform, leading a successful countrywide literacy campaign; he was Minister of Industry, Director of Cuba’s Central Bank, instructed Cuba’s armed forces. As such, he also trained the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion and was instrumental in bringing the Soviet nuclear missiles to Cuba which prompted the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Che also toured the world as Cuba’s chief diplomat, representing Cuba’s socialism at the United Nations in both New York and Geneva, as well as everywhere he traveled.

In 1965, Che decided to leave Cuba. His major contribution to the Cuban Revolution, though ongoing to this day – was done. He was heavily influenced by Marxism-Leninism and saw the so-called Third World’s underdevelopment – poverty, destitution, disease – as a dependence on the abusive exploitation by the west – that which, in turn, is the inherent result of imperialism and monopoly capitalism. The only remedy to fight it was socialist internationalism, a world revolution.

Che left Cuba for Congo-Kinshasa, now Zaïre, where he was unsuccessful in fomenting a revolution against Joseph Mobutu, one of the most corrupt and murderous dictators Africa has known until this day. Che Guevara was particularly inspired to help the people of then Congo (a former Belgian colony, today neocolony), because his comrade Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected President of the Congo in 1960, was overturned in a coup d’état by Colonel Mobutu, helped by Belgian forces. Mobutu ordered Lumumba’s murder by firing squad in January 1961.

After a second coup, the brutal authoritarian Mobutu assumed power in 1965. With the help of the neocolonial US and the UK, he stayed in power more than three decades, until 1997, putting the extraordinary riches of minerals and petrol basically at western disposal (against a hefty fee, of course, for his own (Swiss) bank accounts, not for his country), to the detriment of the Congolese people. Che Guevara was powerless against these boundless and ruthless military forces – forces that continue to protect also the Kabila dynasty that followed Mobutu in 1997, first by Laurent Kabila, and after his assassination in 2001, by his son Joseph – who to this day is ruling mineral-rich Zaïre, while sustaining bloody civil war-like conditions that has killed millions of people, including women and children, all for the benefit of western – mostly US – mineral giants feeding mainly the US military industrial complex.

Back to Che. After his unfortunate experience at revolution in Africa, he went back to his roots – Latin America, a culture which he was familiar with and where he believed a true and lasting revolution was possible – to bring dignity and sovereignty back to the peoples who were miserably oppressed by Washington backed military regimes for decades. On November 4, 1966, Che crossed the border into Bolivia under false identity. He thought Bolivia, the center of South America, was ideal to start and spread a revolution throughout Latin America.

Che formed a small army of 47 fighters from Bolivia, Cuba, Peru and Argentina, the ‘Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia’ – ELN (The Bolivian National Liberation Army). Che and his people fought on several occasions the army of the cruel military dictator, René Barrientos, (1964-1969), who came to power in 1964 by a coup helped – by whom else – Washington. Che and his troops had also a non-fighting network that kept them informed and supplied them with food and water as their hardship and information inaccessibility made them vulnerable in the jungle of Bolivia.

Two members of Che’s support team, Regis Debray (French) and Ciro Bustos (Argentinian), were captured and tortured. It is said, but has been often contested, that they revealed Che’s whereabouts, which allowed Barrientos’ army to intensify its battle and eventually by the end of September 1967 have a clear advantage over Che’s guerilla army. Che and his men fought their last battle on 8 October in the Churro gorge, when they were captured and taken to an area called La Higuera, in the Department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia. Che was executed on 9 October and his body hidden by the military, though his diary made the way into Fidel’s hands. Fidel eventually published it.

In 1995, Fidel Castro initiated with the President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozado, also called Goni the “Gringo”, a search for Che’s remains. They were found in Vallegrande near La Higuera and sent to Cuba, where they were laid to rest in Santa Clara in a Mausoleum especially built for Che.

On 17 October 1997 CNN reports “Cuba paid tribute to revolutionary hero Ernest “Che” Guevara … with a pomp-filled state burial and a ringing tribute from Fidel Castro, the man he helped propel to power nearly four decades ago. He said:

 “His inerasable mark is now in history, and his luminous gaze of a prophet has become a symbol for all the poor of this world.””

Fidel’s words still keep ringing through the ether of the universe. Undoubtedly, Che, Fidel and Hugo Chavez were among the most influential revolutionaries of the Western Hemisphere in the 20th Century. Their legacy keeps emitting signals of peace and justice throughout the world.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance

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During his visit to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump shocked the bond market when he told Geraldo Rivera of Fox News that he was going to wipe out the island’s bond debt. He said on October 3rd:

You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street. We’re gonna have to wipe that out. That’s gonna have to be — you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave good-bye to that.

How did the president plan to pull this off? Pam Martens and Russ Martens, writing in Wall Street on Parade, note that the U.S. municipal bond market holds $3.8 trillion in debt, and it is not just owned by Wall Street banks. Mom and pop retail investors are exposed to billions of dollars of potential losses through their holdings of Puerto Rican municipal bonds, either directly or in mutual funds. Wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt, they warned, could undermine confidence in the municipal bond market, causing bond interest rates to rise, imposing an additional burden on already-struggling states and municipalities across the country.

True, but the president was just pointing out the obvious. As economist Michael Hudson says, “Debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid.”

Puerto Rico is bankrupt, its economy destroyed. In fact it is currently in bankruptcy proceedings with its creditors. Which suggests its time for some more out-of-the-box thinking . . . .

Turning Disaster into a Win-Win

In July 2016, a solution to this conundrum was suggested by the notorious Goldman Sachs itself, when mom and pop investors holding the bonds of bankrupt Italian banks were in jeopardy. Imposing losses on retail bondholders had proven to be politically toxic, after one man committed suicide. Some other solution had to be found.

Italy’s non-performing loans (NPLs) then stood at €210bn, at a time when the ECB was buying €120bn per year of outstanding Italian government bonds as part of its QE program. The July 2016 Financial Times quoted Goldman’s Francesco Garzarelli, who said,

“by the time QE is over – not sooner than end 2017, on our baseline scenario – around a fifth of Italy’s public debt will be sitting on the Bank of Italy’s balance sheet.”

His solution: rather than buying Italian government bonds in its quantitative easing program, the European Central Bank could simply buy the insolvent banks’ NPLs. Bringing the entire net stock of bad loans onto the government’s balance sheet, he said, would be equivalent to just nine months’ worth of Italian government bond purchases by the ECB.

Puerto Rico’s debt is only $73 billion, one third the Italian debt. The Fed has stopped its quantitative easing program, but in its last round (called “QE3”), it was buying $85 billion per month in securities. At that rate, it would have to fire up the digital printing presses for only one additional month to rescue the suffering Puerto Ricans without hurting bondholders at all. It could then just leave the bonds on its books, declaring a moratorium at least until Puerto Rico got back on its feet, and better yet, indefinitely.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs data, 33,000 US jobs were lost in September, the first time the country has had a negative figure since 2010. It could be time for a bit more economic stimulus from the Fed.

Successful Precedent

Shifting the debt burden of bankrupt institutions onto the books of the central bank is not a new or radical idea. UK Prof. Richard Werner, who invented the term “quantitative easing” when he was advising the Japanese in the 1990s, says there is ample precedent for it. In 2012, he proposed a similar solution to the European banking crisis, citing three successful historical examples.

One was in Britain in 1914, when the British banking sector collapsed after the government declared war on Germany. This was not a good time for a banking crisis, so the Bank of England simply bought the banks’ NPLs.

“There was no credit crunch,” wrote Werner, “and no recession. The problem was solved at zero cost to the tax payer.”

For a second example, he cited the Japanese banking crisis of 1945. The banks had totally collapsed, with NPLs that amounted to virtually 100 percent of their assets:

But in 1945 the Bank of Japan had no interest in creating a banking crisis and a credit crunch recession. Instead it wanted to ensure that bank credit would flow again, delivering economic growth. So the Bank of Japan bought the non-performing assets from the banks – not at market value (close to zero), but significantly above market value.

Werner’s third example was the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program, in which it bought $1.7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities from the banks. These securities were widely understood to be “toxic” – Wall Street’s own burden of NPLs. Again the move worked: the banks did not collapse, the economy got back on its feet, and the much-feared inflation did not result.

In each of these cases, he wrote:

The operations were a complete success. No inflation resulted. The currency did not weaken. Despite massive non-performing assets wiping out the solvency and equity of the banking sector, the banks’ health was quickly restored. In the UK and Japanese case, bank credit started to recover quickly, so that there was virtually no recession at all as a result.

The Moral Hazard Question

One objection to this approach is the risk of “moral hazard”: lenders who know they will be rescued from their bad loans will recklessly make even more. That is the argument, but an analysis of data in China, where NPLs are now a significant problem, has relieved those concerns. China’s NPLs are largely being left on the banks’ books without writing them down. The concern is that shrinking the banks’ balance sheets in an economy that is already slowing will reduce their ability to create credit, further slowing growth and triggering a downward economic spiral. As for the moral hazard problem, when researchers analyzed the data, they found that the level of Chinese NPLs did not affect loan creation, in small or large banks.

But if Puerto Rico got relief from the Fed, wouldn’t cities and states struggling with their own debt burdens want it too? Perhaps, but that bar could be set in bankruptcy court. Few cities or states can match the devastation of Puerto Rico, which was already in bankruptcy court when struck by hurricanes that left virtually no tree unscathed and literally flattened the territory.

Arguably, the Fed should be making nearly-interest-free loans to cities and states, allowing them to rebuild their crumbling infrastructure at reasonable cost. That argument was made in an October 2012 editorial in The New York Times titled “Getting More Bang for the Fed’s Buck”. It was also suggested by Martin Hutchinson in Reuters in October 2010:

An alternative mechanism could be an extension of the Fed’s [QE] asset purchases to include state and municipal bonds. Currently the central bank does not have the power to do this for maturities of more than six months. But an approving Congress could remove that hurdle at a stroke . . . .

The Fed lent $29 trillion to Wall Street banks virtually interest-free. It could do the same for local governments.

Where There’s a Will

When central banks want to save bankrupt institutions without cost to the government or the people, they obviously know how to do it. It is a matter of boldness and political will, something that may be lacking in our central bankers but has been amply demonstrated in our president.

If the Fed resists the QE alternative, here is another possibility: Congress can audit the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Defense, and retrieve some of the $21 trillion gone missing from their accountings. This massive black money hole, tracked by Dr. Mark Skidmore and Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of HUD, is buried on the agencies’ books as “undocumented adjustments” – entries inserted without receipts or other documentary support just to balance the books. It represents money that rightfully belongs to the American people.

If our legislators and central bankers can find trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street banks, while overlooking trillions more lost to the DoD and HUD in “undocumented adjustments,” they can find the money to help an American territory suffering the worst humanitarian crisis in its history.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, a Senior Fellow of the Democracy Collaborative, and author of twelve books including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. A thirteenth book titled The Coming Revolution in Banking is due out this winter. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com.

This article was originally published by Web of Debt.

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I listened with interest to CBC call-in shows about the mass killing in Las Vegas. Caller after caller, some who’d been there months before, or never, described confusion, guilt about surviving, helplessness. A commentator spoke of one person shielding another with his body: “Therein lies the hope for our species”, she said. One person sacrificing for another.

The radio commentator said people come together under existential threat. Maybe. But the threat is exceptional, or so we should believe. That’s why it was the call-in topic on two successive days.

Cuban independence leader and philosopher, José Martí, distinguished north and south Americas by the fact that the US was born behind a plough and the south was born out of panic and trauma. It was born out of terror. He said that for this reason there are two, and only two, Americas. [i]

He drew heavily upon Nátuatl imagery, inspired by his time in Guatemala. [ii] Martí’s poetry is replete with images of volcanic eruptions, lava and swords. The eruptions symbolize “la energía original” or humanness. Lava is disruptive. It seems to come from nowhere.

It burns. Náhuatl culture, dominated by the myth of Quetzalcátl, relies on images of fire and sun to portray freedom. Martí’s image of the “warrior whose path leads to the heavens” is nonetheless still “fiery and devastating”. In the Náhuatl dialectic of lava, fire and glittering swords lies, Cuban philosopher Cintio Vitier argues, the “key” to Martí’s poetry: its americanness.

The other America.  When we hear about solidarity after disasters like Las Vegas, we are supposed to be comforted. Hope for the species.  In Martí’s poetry, the “lengua de lava” does not get a chance to cool. It emerges into human consciousness as a sword that becomes sheathed in the sun. Nature’s chaos is real, and acts upon us according to the laws of nature. But we can respond with sacrifice.

The sacrifice noted on CBC is what Martí, following the Náhuatl, calls “love”. It is how to escape what Marx called “alienation”: separation from humanness.[iii] Martí’s americanness is realistic. “Hope” for humanity is not something soft and fuzzy for extraordinary moments of trouble. Humanness must be discovered. It takes work, and can be as disruptive as nature’s unpredictable and devastating events.

Che Guevara also referred to love as sacrifice. He was murdered 50 years ago this week by US agents. Che Guevara is criticized for what he said about sacrifice, just as he is criticized for much else. His vision is little understood. It is deeply philosophical. It matters today.

Che wrote that solidarity “has something of the bitter irony of the plebeians cheering on the gladiators in the Roman circus”. It is not enough “to wish the victim success”, he wrote. Instead, “one must share his or her fate…. in victory or death”.[iv]

We don’t like reference to death. We prefer “pathological upbeatness”,[v] believing in (our own) survival no matter what. Antonio Gramsci called such an attitude lazy.

It’s easy. It means we don’t have to think about solidarity as we might when survival is threatened.

It always is. The truth is that we are all in the path of an oncoming train, just as in Alex Colville’s famous painting. Che Guevara said, “at the risk of seeming ridiculous” that revolutionaries have to be guided by “great feelings of love”.  He meant the sacrifice sort.

But he wasn’t referring to dramatic events.

Speaking to medical workers in 1960, Che told them:

“If we all use the new weapon of solidarity … then the only thing left for us is to know the daily stretch of the road and to take it. Nobody can point out that stretch … in the personal road of each individual; it is what he will do every day, what he will gain from his individual experience”.

“What he will do every day”. The sacrifice part of Guevara’s message about solidarity, about love, is a day by day affair. This is what you find in the Nátuatl cosmology. Images of fire and volcanoes are coupled with images of liberation. It is realistic, like Martí’s poetry, like Che’s “new person”. It must be.

Che compared the “self-made man” to an invisible cage: we are enslaved by socially produced beliefs and values and we call that “freedom”. Like Martí, he took the question of freedom to be about how to get out of the cage without creating another one. Put differently, how do you respond to slavery without reasons and acts drawn from the same enslavement?

Critics say Che Guevara is naïve, expecting a new type of beingInstead, he is practical, as the other America has always had to be. He knows an ancient dialectic, in which we have to lose – or sacrifice – in order to gain – truth.  The “new person” recognizes the dialectic of sacrifice, called “love”. Such practical (not moral) insight is lost in the only “America” most now recognize.

Drawing upon his America, Martí wrote: “Despídete de ti mismo, y vivirás”.[vi] It needn’t be so remarkable an inclination that only a horror like that of Las Vegas brings it to attention.

Ana Belén Montes is an example, urgently relevant.[vii] She’s in jail in the US. Please sign petition here.

Susan Babbitt is author of Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014).

Notes

[i] Cited in Juan Marinello, “Discurso en la clausura del 11 semanario juvenile nacional de estudios martianos” ACEM 1974

[ii] Cintio Vitier, “Lava, espada, alas (en torno a los versos libres)” in José Martí: Edición al cuidado de Ana Cairo Ballestar (Havana: Casa de las Américas, 2007) 211-225

[iii] Vitier, op. cit. 216

[iv] Che Guevara, “Create two, three, many Vietnams”, The Che Guevara Reader (Ocean Press, 1997) 316

[v] Terry Eagleton, Reason, faith and revolution (Yale University Press, 2009) 138

[vi] ‘Say good-bye to yourself, and you will live”

[vii] http://www.prolibertad.org/ana-belen-montes. For more information, write to the [email protected] or [email protected]

This article was originally published by CounterPunch.

Featured image is from Photo by Jamie C2009 | CC by 2.0

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Washington Pretends to be Combating ISIS in Syria

October 13th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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stephenlendman.org 

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Syria’s Foreign Ministry released video and other evidence, showing US and Israeli arms and munitions ending up in the hands of ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorists.

It’s well known this has been going on throughout years of conflict, Washington wants it continued endlessly, not resolved.

According to Arabic-language Al-Manar news, ISIS and terrorists comprising the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) agreed to hand over the city to the SDF, no clashes occurring between their fighters.

The US-led battle for Raqqa was all about raping and destroying the city, not liberating it, most ISIS fighters redeployed to Deir Ezzor, Hama and Homs.

The battle dragged on for months to give Pentagon warplanes enough time to turn the city to rubble, massacring thousands of civilians, helping, not combating, ISIS.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov blasted US regional forces in southern Syria for letting ISIS and other terrorists use its illegally established al-Tanf base as a platform for launching attacks on Syrian troops.

He asked “the American side to clarify another instance of turning a blind eye to the activities of militants operating under their very noses.”

“It is purely for military ethics reasons that we do not publish the latest photos of the US base in al-Tanf with an abundance of pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns and recoilless guns” used by ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“Considering such serious manpower reinforcements with US benevolence and the creation of the stock of medicines with food supplies, one should not be an expert to forecast an attempt to disrupt the peace agreement now in the southern de-escalation zone as well. We are warning that all the responsibility for the peace process sabotage will be borne by the US side.”

On Wednesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem met with Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, discussing coordination of political, economic and military issues, along with the Astana peace process.

“We still and will always consider the Turkish presence in Syria as illegal,” he stressed. “The Turks say their presence is taking place under the Astana umbrella, but I realized today that Astana has nothing to do with this Turkish act.”

“Therefore, any measure that is not coordinated with the Syrian government is an act of aggression, and we don’t recognize its legitimacy.”

“Turkey trains terrorists, arms them and facilitates their infiltration into the territory of Syria. This is why I can state that Turkey’s presence in Syria is illegal.”

Separately, Moallem blasted the so-called coalition led by Washington, saying it’s not combating ISIS as claimed. It’s supporting the terrorist group.

It’s “annihilating the Syrian people,” massacring “thousands…(W)omen and children mainly have become the victims of these crimes.”

Moallem told Lavrov Washington uses the so-called anti-terrorist coalition to support this scourge and “destroy Syria,” mainly its vital infrastructure, wanting war continuing “as long as possible.”

“(T)he US-led coalition…is systematically destroying anything but ISIL,” he stressed. “The American coalition is systematically destroying the economic infrastructure, so we…strongly demand that it (be) disbanded.”

Moallem earlier raised the issue of granting Kurds local autonomy in northern Syria, not permitting a separate Kurdish state.

“Today, the Kurds are actually competing with the Syrian army for control over the oil-bearing areas,” he explained. “They are well aware of the fact that Syria will not let anyone violate its state sovereignty under any circumstances.”

“At the moment, they are apparently intoxicated with US aid and support. However, it is must be understood that this aid will not last forever.”

Throughout its history, they were never supported by a reliable major power, Moallem added. Washington, of course, uses them to serve its interests.

Its goal is regime change or destroying Syrian sovereignty by partitioning the country. Russia’s goal is defeating US-supported terrorism, along with preserving Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

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Just one week after uttering his now-infamous “this is the calm before the storm” statement to the press ahead of a dinner with military leaders, we now learn that President Trump has dispatched a second nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, filled with 7,500 marines, to the Korean Peninsula. Of course, this comes after rumors swirled earlier this week that North Korea is preparing to fire multiple short-range rockets around the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress on Oct. 18th.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, is en route to the western Pacific after leaving San Diego port last week.

The Roosevelt will focus on maritime security operations in the Pacific and Middle East, the US military announced.

But the £3.4billion ($4.5billion) warship, known as “the Big Stick”, has been sent to boost US defence on the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean media.

It is expected to arrive in region in the coming weeks amid fears North Korea is about to test another missile or nuclear weapon.

Per the following map from Stratfor, the USS Theodore Roosevelt will join the USS Ronald Reagan which is already operating in the region.

Ship Positions

According to a statement from Admiral Steve Koehler, a strike group commander on the ship, the Roosevelt is carrying some 7,500 sailors and marines that are “ready as a war fighting force”.

“The US Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” he said in a statement before the ship’s launch.

“After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

Of course, as we noted above, this buildup of naval forces in the Pacific follows an ominous warning from the President last week that preceded a dinner with military leaders: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” he said: “It could be the calm… before… the storm.”

A reporter quickly asked what the storm might be –“Is it Iran, ISIS, what’s the storm?”  to which he replied… “…you’ll find out.”

So what say you? Just more bluster from a headline seeking President and normal-ish naval patrols in the Pacific or have we reached a point of no return in an escalating conflict with a rogue North Korean leader that could turn violent at any moment?

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

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More than 1,000 foreign Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists have entered Syria via Iraq, the pro-opposition Syrian Opposition for Human Rights claimed on Thursday.

According to the report released by the pro-opposition group, the 1,000+ ISIS terrorists came from several countries in central Asia, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.

The terrorists entered the Deir Ezzor Governorate via Albukamal, which is the last crossing for the terrorist group between Iraq and Syria.

The SOHR report also claimed that more than 500 Islamic State terrorists had been killed in Syria over the past two weeks – this cannot be confirmed by Al-Masdar.

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With tensions once again flaring up between the United States and North Korea, it was reported Tuesday that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has offered to meet with leader Kim Jong-un to discuss ways to achieve peace.

The revelation comes by way of South Korean news outlet JoongAng Ilbo, which spoke with Park Han-shik, a prominent scholar on North Korean-related issues. Park previously helped Carter plan diplomatic trips to the country in 1994 and 2010.

JoongAng Ilbo writes that Park met with the former president at his home in Georgia on September 28, and it was there that Carter reportedly expressed his wishes.

“Should former President Carter be able to visit North Korea, he would like to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and discuss a peace treaty between the United States and the North and a complete denuclearization of North Korea,” Park told the outlet, “and contribute toward establishing a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

Earlier in September, while speaking before gatherers at his Carter Center in Atlanta, the former president was highly critical of the Trump administration, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Then, last week, Carter penned an editorial for The Washington Post in which he addressed North Korea directly.

Carter wrote that his more than 20 years’ worth of experience in dealing with the North taught him that what the country’s leadership wants more than anything is direct talks with the U.S. that would lead to a permanent peace treaty. Technically, the agreement to cease the Korean War in 1953 was only an armistice, and the two countries are still at war.

The former president says that, indeed, “the preservation of their regime” is priority one for the government in Pyongyang, and current strategies that attempt to de-escalate the situation are failing because the North Korean leadership “believes its survival is at stake.”

Carter says what’s needed now is for the U.S. to “send a high-level delegation to Pyongyang for peace talks or to support an international conference” of all the relevant regional players, including China.

In his piece, Carter doesn’t nominate himself to lead such an effort, but if Tuesday’s report out of South Korea is accurate, he seems willing to fill the role. He would need permission from the federal government, however, as a ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea went into effect in September.

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Five Reasons Why Trump Is Moving Towards War with Iran

October 13th, 2017 by Dr. Trita Parsi

Make no mistake: We do not have a crisis over the Iran nuclear deal. It is working and everyone from Secretary Mattis and Tillerson to the US and Israeli intelligence services to the International Atomic Energy Agency agree: Iran is adhering to the deal. But Trump is about to take a working deal and turn it into a crisis–an international crisis that very likely can lead to war. While the decertification of the Iran deal that Trump is scheduled to announce on Friday in and of itself doesn’t collapse the deal, it does trigger a process that increases the risk of war in the following five ways.

1. If the deal collapses, so does the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program

The nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) took two very bad scenarios off the table: It blocked all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear bomb and it prevented war with Iran. By killing the deal, Trump is putting both of those bad scenarios back on the table.

As I describe in my book Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the triumph of Diplomacy, it was the very real danger of a military conflict that drove the Barack Obama administration to become so dedicated to find a diplomatic solution to this crisis. In January 2012, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated publicly that Iran’s breakout – the time it would take from making the decision to build the bomb to having the material for a bomb – was twelve months. In spite of massive sanctions on Iran aimed at both retarding the nuclear program and convincing the Iranians that the nuclear program was too costly to continue, the Iranians aggressively expanded their nuclear activities.

By January 2013, exactly a year later, a new sense of urgency dawned on the White House. Iran’s breakout time had shrunk from twelve months to a mere 8-12 weeks. If Iran decided to dash for a bomb, the United States might not have enough time to stop Tehran militarily. According to former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, Iran’s shrinking breakout time caused the U.S. to be “closer to war with the Islamic Republic than at any time since 1979.” Other countries realized the danger as well.

“The actual threat of military action was almost felt as electricity in the air before a thunderstorm,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told me.

If nothing changed, President Obama concluded, the U.S. would soon face a binary option: Either go to war with Iran (due to pressure from Israel, Saudi Arabia and some elements inside the US) to stop its nuclear program or acquiesce to Iran’s nuclear fait accompli. The only way out of this lose-lose situation was a diplomatic solution. Three months later, the US and Iran held a pivotal secret meeting in Oman where the Obama administration managed to secure a diplomatic breakthrough that paved the way for the JCPOA.

The deal prevented war. Killing the deal prevents the peace. If Trump collapses the deal and the Iranians restart their program, the US will soon find itself facing the same dilemma that Obama did in 2013. The difference is that the President is now Donald Trump, a man who doesn’t even know how to spell diplomacy, let alone conduct it.

2. Trump is planning to take on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps

Decertification is only half the story. Trump also plans to significantly escalate tensions with Iran in the region, including taking a measure that both the Bush and Obama administrations rejected: Designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. Make no mistake, the IRGC is far from an army of saints. It is responsible for much of the repression against the population inside of Iran and it fought the U.S. military indirectly in Iraq through Shia militias. But it has also been one of the most critical fighting forces against ISIS.

In real terms, the designation does not add much to the pressure the U.S. already is or can impose on the IRGC. But it ratchets things up in a very dangerous way without any clear benefits to the United States. The drawbacks, however, are crystal clear. IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari issued a stern warning last week:

“If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State [ISIS] all around the world.”

If the IRGC acts on its warning and targets U.S. troops – and there are 10,000 such targets in Iraq – we will only be a few steps away from war.

3. Trump is escalating without having any exit ramps

Escalation is under all circumstances a dangerous game. But it is particularly dangerous when you do not have diplomatic channels that ensure that the other side reads your signals correctly and that provides mechanisms for de-escalation. Not having such exit-ramps is like driving a car without a brake. You can accelerate, you can crash, but you can’t brake.

Military commanders understand this. That’s what former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen warned about prior to the Obama administration investing in diplomacy.

“We’ve not had a direct link of communication with Iran since 1979,” Mullen said. “And I think that has planted many seeds for miscalculation. When you miscalculate, you can escalate and misunderstand… We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other. If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right — that there will be miscalculation which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.”

Mullen issued this warning when Obama was president, a man often criticized for being too restrained and too unwilling to use military power. Imagine how nervous and worried Mullen must be today with Trump calling the shots in the situation room.

4. Some US allies want the US to fight their war with Iran

There is no secret that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been pushing the US for years to go to war with Iran. Israel in particular was not only making threats of preemptive military action itself, its ultimate aim was to convince the United States to conduct the attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities for Israel.

“The intention,” former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak admitted to the Israeli paper Ynet in July of this year, “was both to make the Americans increase sanctions and to carry out the operation.” While the Israeli security establishment today opposes killing the nuclear deal (Barak himself said as much in an interview with the New York Times this week), there are no indications that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has changed his mind on this matter. He has called on Trump to “fix or nix” the deal, though his criteria for how to fix the deal is so unrealistic it virtually ensures the deal will collapse – which in turn would put the US on a path to war with Iran.

The only person who arguably has a worse sense of judgement than Trump is Netanyahu. After all, this is what he told US lawmakers in 2002 as he lobbied them to invade Iraq:

”If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”

5. Trump’s donors are obsessed with starting war with Iran

Some have suggested that Trump is pursuing the decertification of the Iran deal — in spite of the near consensus advice of his top advisors to not go down this path – as a result of pressure from his base. But there is no evidence that his base cares much about this issue. Rather, as Eli Clifton meticulously had documented, the most dedicated force behind Trump’s obsession with killing the Iran deal is not his base, but a tiny group of top Republican donors.

“A small number of his biggest campaign and legal defense donors have made extreme comments about Iran and, in at least one case, advocated for the use of a nuclear weapon against the Islamic Republic,” Clifton wrote last month.

The billionaire Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus, for instance, has given Trump $101,700 to help pay Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s legal fees following the probe into Russian election interference. Hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer is another major donor to pro-war groups in Washington who Trump has relied upon for financial support. The most famous billionaire donor, of course, is Sheldon Adelson who has contributed $35 million to pro-Trump Super PAC Future 45. All of these donors have pushed for war with Iran, though only Adelson has gone as far as to suggest the US should strike Iran with nuclear weapons as a negotiating tactic.

Thus far, Trump has gone with the advice of these billionaires on Iran over that of his Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff. None of the above five scenarios were realistic a few months ago. They have become plausible — even likely – because Trump has decided to make them so. Just like with George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Trump’s confrontation with Iran is a war of choice, not a war of necessity.

Trita Parsi is the president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy. Reprinted, with permission, from Huffington Post.

Featured image is from Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

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Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence

October 13th, 2017 by Nicolas J. S. Davies

Featured image: North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

The Western media has been awash in speculation as to why, about a year ago, North Korea’s “crazy” leadership suddenly launched a crash program to vastly improve its ballistic missile capabilities. That question has now been answered.

In September 2016, North Korean cyber-defense forces hacked into South Korean military computers and downloaded 235 gigabytes of documents. The BBC has revealed that the documents included detailed U.S. plans to assassinate North Korea’s president, Kim Jong-un, and launch an all-out war on North Korea. The BBC’s main source for this story is Rhee Cheol-hee, a member of the Defense Committee of the South Korean National Assembly.

These plans for aggressive war have actually been long in the making. In 2003, the U.S. scrapped an agreement signed in 1994 under which North Korea suspended its nuclear program and the U.S. agreed to build two light water reactors in North Korea. The two countries also agreed to a step-by-step normalization of relations. Even after the U.S. scrapped the 1994 Agreed Framework in 2003, North Korea did not restart work on the two reactors frozen under that agreement, which could by now be producing enough plutonium to make several nuclear weapons every year.

However, since 2002-03, when President George W. Bush included North Korea in his “axis of evil,” withdrew from the Agreed Framework, and launched an invasion of Iraq over bogus WMD claims, North Korea once again began enriching uranium and making steady progress toward developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them.

By 2016, the North Koreans also were keenly aware of the horrific fate of Iraq and Libya and their leaders after the countries did surrender their unconventional weapons. Not only did the U.S. lead bloody “regime change” invasions but the nations’ leaders were brutally murdered, Saddam Hussein by hanging and Muammar Gaddafi sodomized with a knife and then summarily shot in the head.

So, the discovery of the U.S. war plan in 2016 sounded alarm bells in Pyongyang and triggered an unprecedented crash program to quickly expand North Korea’s ballistic missile program. Its nuclear weapons tests established that it can produce a small number of first-generation nuclear weapons, but it needed a viable delivery system before it could be sure that its nuclear deterrent would be credible enough to deter a U.S. attack.

In other words, North Korea’s main goal has been to close the gap between its existing delivery systems and the missile technology it would need to actually launch a retaliatory nuclear strike against the United States. North Korea’s leaders see this as their only chance to escape the same kind of mass destruction visited on North Korea in the first Korean War, when U.S.-led air forces destroyed every city, town and industrial area and General Curtis LeMay boasted that the attacks had killed 20 percent of the population.

Through 2015 and early 2016, North Korea only tested one new missile, the Pukkuksong-1 submarine-launched missile. The missile launched from a submerged submarine and flew 300 miles on its final, successful test, which coincided with the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises in August 2016.

North Korea also launched its largest satellite to date in February 2016, but the launch vehicle seemed to be the same type as the Unha-3 used to launch a smaller satellite in 2012.

However, since the discovery of the U.S.-South Korean war plans a year ago, North Korea has vastly accelerated its missile development program, conducting at least 27 more tests of a wide range of new missiles and bringing it much closer to a credible nuclear deterrent. Here is a timeline of the tests:

Two failed tests of Hwasong-10 medium-range ballistic missiles in October 2016.

Two successful tests of Pukguksong-2 medium-range ballistic missiles, in February and May 2017. The missiles followed identical trajectories, rising to a height of 340 miles and landing in the sea 300 miles away. South Korean analysts believe this missile’s full range is at least 2,000 miles, and North Korea said the tests confirmed it is ready for mass production.

Four medium-range ballistic missiles that flew an average of 620 miles from the Tongchang-ri space center in March 2017.

Two apparently failed missile tests from Sinpo submarine base in April 2017.

Six tests of Hwasong-12 medium-range ballistic missiles (range: 2,300 to 3,700 miles) since April 2017.

A failed test of a missile believed to be a “KN-17” from Pukchang airbase in April 2017.

Test of a Scud-type anti-ship missile that flew 300 miles and landed in the Sea of Japan, and two other tests in May 2017.

Several cruise missiles fired from the East coast in June 2017.

A test of a powerful new rocket engine, maybe for an ICBM, in June 2017.

North Korea tested two Hwasong-14 “near-ICBMs” in July 2017. Based on these tests, the Hwasong-14 may be capable of hitting city-sized targets in Alaska or Hawaii with a single nuclear warhead, but cannot yet reach the U.S. West Coast.

Four more missiles tested in August 2017, including a Hwasong-12 that flew over Japan and travelled 1,700 miles before breaking up, maybe as a result of a failure in a “Post Boost Vehicle” added to improve range and accuracy.

Another ballistic missile flew 2,300 miles over the Pacific on September 15, 2017.

An analysis of the two tests of the Hwasong-14 in July by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) concluded that these missiles are not yet capable of carrying a 500 kg payload as far as Seattle or other U.S. West Coast cities. BAS notes that a first generation nuclear weapon based on the Pakistani model that North Korea is believed to be following could not weigh less than 500 kg, once the weight of the warhead casing and a heat shield to survive reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere are taken into account.

Global Reaction

Awareness of the role of the U.S. war plan in spurring the dramatic escalation of North Korea’s missile program should be a game changer in the world’s response to the crisis over Korea, since it demonstrates that the current acceleration of the North Korean missile program is a defensive response to a serious and potentially existential threat from the United States.

If the United Nations Security Council was not diplomatically and militarily intimidated by the United States, this knowledge should trigger urgent action in the Security Council to require all sides to make a firm commitment to peaceful and binding diplomacy to formally end the Korean War and remove the threat of war from all the people of Korea. And the whole world would unite politically and diplomatically to prevent the U.S. from using its veto to avoid accountability for its leading role in this crisis. Only a unified global response to potential U.S. aggression could possibly convince North Korea that it would have some protection if it eventually halted its nuclear weapons program.

But such unity in the face of a threat of U.S. aggression would be unprecedented. Most U.N. delegates quietly sat and listened on Sept. 19 when President Donald Trump delivered explicit threats of war and aggression against North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, while boasting about his missile strike against Syria on April 6 over dubious and disputed claims about a chemical weapons incident.

For the past 20 years or more, the United States has swaggered about as the “last remaining superpower” and the “indispensable nation,” a global law unto itself, using the dangers of terrorism and weapons proliferation and highly selective outrage over “dictators” as propaganda narratives to justify illegal wars, CIA-backed terrorism, its own weapons proliferation, and support for its favored dictators like the brutal rulers of Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies.

For even longer, the United States has been two-faced about international law, citing it when some adversary can be accused of a violation but ignoring it when the U.S. or its allies are trampling on the rights of some disfavored country. When the International Court of Justice convicted the United States of aggression (including acts of terrorism) against Nicaragua in 1986, the U.S. withdrew from the ICJ’s binding jurisdiction.

Since then, the U.S. has thumbed its nose at the entire structure of international law, confident in the political power of its propaganda or “information warfare” to cast itself as the guardian of law and order in the world, even as it systematically violates the most basic rules spelled out in the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

U.S. propaganda treats the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions, the world’s “Never again” to war, torture and the killing of millions of civilians in the Second World War, as relics of another time that it would be naive to take seriously.

But the results of the U.S. alternative — its lawless “might makes right” war policy — are now plain for all to see. In the past 16 years, America’s post-9/11 wars have already killed at least two million people, maybe many more, with no end in sight to the slaughter as the U.S.’s policy of illegal war keeps plunging country after country into intractable violence and chaos.

An Ally’s Fears

Just as North Korea’s missile programs are a rational defense strategy in the face of the threat Pyongyang faces from the U.S., the exposure of the U.S.’s war plan by American allies in South Korea is also a rational act of self-preservation, since they too are threatened by the possibility of war on the Korean peninsula.

Now maybe other U.S. allies, the wealthy countries that have provided political and diplomatic cover for the U.S.’s 20-year campaign of illegal war, will finally reassert their humanity, their sovereignty and their own obligations under international law, and start to rethink their roles as junior partners in U.S. aggression.

Countries like the U.K., France and Australia will sooner or later have to choose between forward-looking roles in a sustainable, peaceful multi-polar world and a slavish loyalty to the ever-more desperate death throes of U.S. hegemony. Now might be a good moment to make that choice, before they are dragged into new U.S. wars in Korea, Iran or Venezuela.

Even Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is afraid that Donald Trump will lead humanity into World War III. But it might come as a surprise to people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and parts of a dozen other countries already engulfed by U.S.-driven wars to learn that they are not already in the midst of World War III.

Perhaps what really worries the Senator is that he and his colleagues may no longer be able to sweep these endless atrocities under the plush carpets of the halls of Congress without a genteel Barack Obama in the White House to sweet-talk U.S. allies around the world and keep the millions being killed in U.S. wars off U.S. TVs and computer screens, out of sight and out of mind.

If politicians in the U.S. and around the world need the ugliness of Donald Trump as a mirror for their own greed, ignorance and temerity, to shame them into changing their ways, so be it – whatever it takes. But it should not escape anyone anywhere that the signature on this diabolical war plan that now threatens to kill millions of Koreans was not Donald Trump’s but Barack Obama’s.

George Orwell might well have been describing the partisan blindness of the West’s self-satisfied, so easily deluded, neoliberal society when he wrote this in 1945,

“Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its color when it is committed by our side… The Nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

Here’s the bottom line: The United States has been planning to assassinate Kim Jong Un and to launch an all-out war on North Korea. There. You’ve heard it. Now, can you still be manipulated into believing that Kim Jong Un is simply “crazy” and North Korea is the gravest threat to world peace?

Or do you now understand that the United States is the real threat to peace in Korea, just as it was in Iraq, Libya and many other countries where the leaders were deemed “crazy” and U.S. officials (and the Western mainstream media) promoted war as the only “rational” alternative?

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

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Reported by KITV Hawaii:

“Gio Rios and Marissa Castle, from Kaua’i witnessed the shooting in Las Vegas first hand. They said they continued to hear bullets coming and when they dropped to the ground two or three other people landed on their legs and back– the man on Castle’s back was actually dead. It was a traumatizing experience for the couple.”

Here is the report of KITV Hawaii, which quotes Gio Rios as saying that “there was more than one shooter”. Gio Rios’ statement refutes the official FBI story.

Click here to access the KITV news report

Below is the complete video posted by Gio Rios on Facebook, which recounts the details of what he and Marissa Castle experienced during the shootout and they managed to escape.

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are developing momentum against ISIS north and east of Deir Ezzor city.

Government forces have secured the al-Siyasah bridge and further advanced to tighten the siege on ISIS units inside the northern part of Deir Ezzor. Separately, the SAA Tiger Forces captured Balum, Balout, the Electrical sub station, the Taybah school and other points in al-Mayadin city.

Local sources report that the Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces are actively bombing ISIS targets across the entire Deir Ezzor countryside.

On October 11, 40 members of the US-backed militant group, Ahmad al-Abdo Forces, surrendered to the SAA in southeastern Syria. The militants, including their commander Abu Dujana, had been deployed within US-led coalition forces at the at-Tanf garrison.

The militants reportedly handed over their weapons to the SAA and provided info about US forces in at-Tanf. In turn, they got a free passage towards Eastern Qalamun area mostly controlled by Jaish al-Islam branch that has a ceasefire deal with government forces.

Pro-government experts believe that more defections from the US-controlled at-Tanf base is expected in the near future because it lost all its strategic value when the SAA reached the border with Iraq north of it and reached Deir Ezzor city.

On October 12, clashes continued between the SAA and ISIS near al-Qaryatayn city. Earlier, government forces retook from ISIS an area south of the city and secured all hills overlooking it.

An SAA operation to take back al-Qaryatayn is expected soon.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have further advanced at the ash-Shaddaday-al-Busayran road and seized Muwayli and Kabbar villages. As soon as the US-backed force secures the entire road, it will be able to storm al-Busayran itself and to develop momentum in the direction of the Omar oil fields.

In Raqqah city, negotiations continued between US-backed forces and ISIS over terms and conditions of possible withdrawal deal for the terrorist group’s members, according to pro-opposition sources. Separately, a fighting was ongoing near the national hospital in the city center.

If the sides reach no deal, the battle for Raqqah will continue with renewed vigour.

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Big Banks, Lobbyists and the ECB Regulations Farce

October 13th, 2017 by Corporate Europe Observatory

TruePublica Editor: You would have thought after banking scandals such as rigging Libor, mass money laundering operations involving drug cartels, illegal financial transactions with sanctioned countries, fraud on a scale never witnessed before and instigating the implosion of the worlds financial system that has cost taxpayers trillions, that the last people you would seek advice from the organisations that caused it.

But no, the European Central Bank, in seeking advice for banking regulations decided in its infinite wisdom that attendance by the shadowy lobbyists representing the big banks should be swayed in favour against civil society at a ratio of 98 to 2. And they wonder why there is civil disobedience on the streets of capitals across the continent and the popularity of the European Union project is plummeting!

***

ECB advisory groups are used as lobby platforms by the financial industry, as our new report shows. ‘Open door for forces of finance at the ECB’ reveals that the advisory groups counselling the European Central Bank are dominated by representatives of some of the most influential global financial corporations.

Like many other EU institutions, the European Central Bank (ECB) actively seeks external expertise for its policies: a total of 22 advisory groups provide ECB decision-makers with recommendations on all aspects of EU monetary policy. As with other EU bodies, however, there is a hefty industry-bias in many of these expert groups.

  • Out of 517 available seats across all groups, 508 have been assigned to representatives of private financial institutions. More than 98 per cent of advisors in these circles are therefore providing expertise with a touch of corporate spin.
  • A mere 16 financial groups, including Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Societé Générale, Citigroup and Unicredit, occupy no less than 208 seats.
  • Among all 144 entities with seats in an ECB advisory group, 64 do not even have an entry in the EU’s lobby register, the EU Transparency Register.
  • The financial corporations supervised by the ECB command a comfortable majority of the posts as advisers: 346 – two thirds of the total.

Such figures raise the question of whether the membership in the ECB’s advisory groups is a covetable asset for the big private banks, where opportunities to influence programme decisions can come with multi-billion euro stakes for the industry.

There are clear risks hidden in these numbers. The report mentions several key political battles over financial regulations where the advisory groups of the ECB have emerged as straightforward platforms for financial industry lobbying. Examples include the Financial Transaction Tax, the Libor/Euribor scandal, and the Forex scandal.

In connection with the release of the report, Corporate Europe Observatory has sent a letter to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON), urging members of Parliament to mount pressure on the European Central Bank to adopt rules on the composition and the work of its advisory groups. Rules that would live up to the standards regarding the ‘expert groups’ of the Commission, recommended by the European Ombudsman and the European Parliament itself.

Featured image is from TruePublica.

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The Senate Intelligence Committee has made it clear that it is not conducting an open and independent investigation of alleged Russian hacking, but making a determined effort to support a theory that was presented in the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment. Committee Chairman Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) admitted as much in a press conference last Wednesday when he said:

We feel very confident that the ICA’s accuracy is going to be supported by our committee.

Burr’s statement is an example of “confirmation bias”  which is the tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms one’s own preexisting beliefs.  In this case, Burr and his co-chair, Senator Mark Warner have already accepted the findings of a hastily slapped-together Intelligence report that was the work of “hand-picked” analysts who were likely chosen to produce conclusions that jibed with a particular political agenda.  In other words, the intelligence was fixed to fit the policy. Burr of course has tried to conceal his prejudice by pointing to the number of witnesses the Committee has interviewed and the volume of work that’s been produced. This is from an article at The Nation:

Since January 23,… the committee and its staff have conducted more than 100 interviews, comprising 250 hours of testimony and resulting in 4,000 pages of transcripts, and reviewed more than 100,000 documents relevant to Russiagate. The staff, said Warner, has collectively spent a total of 57 hours per day, seven days a week, since the committee opened its inquiry, going through documents and transcripts, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing both classified and unclassified material.

It all sounds very impressive, but if the goal is merely to lend credibility to unverified assumptions, then what’s the point?

Let’s take a look at a few excerpts from the report and see whether Burr and Warner are justified in “feeling confident” in the ICA’s accuracy.

From the Intelligence Community Assessment:

 We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.  Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.  We have high confidence in these judgments.

This is the basic claim of Russia meddling that has yet to be proved. As you can see, the charge is mixed with liberal doses of mind-reading mumbo-jumbo that reveal the authors’ lack of objectivity. There’s a considerable amount of speculation about Putin’s motives and preferences which are based on pure conjecture. It’s a bit shocking that professional analysts– who are charged with providing our leaders with rock-solid intelligence related to matters of national security– would indulge in this type of opinionated blather and psycho-babble. It’s also shocking that Burr and Warner think this gibberish should be taken seriously.

Here’s more from the ICA:

Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.

More mind-reading, more groundless speculation, more guessing what Putin thinks or doesn’t think. The ICA reads more like the text from a morning talk show than an Intelligence report.  And what is it about this report that Burr finds so persuasive? It’s beyond me. The report’s greatest strength seems to be that no one has ever read it. If they had, they’d realize that it’s nonsense. Also, it would have been better if the ICA’s authors had avoided the amateur psychoanalysis and stuck to the point, Russia hacking.  Dabbling in the former seriously impacts the report’s credibility.

To their credit, however, Burr and Warner have questioned all of the analysts who contributed to the report. Check out this excerpt from The Nation:

“We have interviewed everybody who had a hand or a voice in the creation of the ICA,” said Burr. “We’ve spent nine times the amount of time that the IC [intelligence community] spent putting the ICA together.… We have reviewed all the supporting evidence that went into it and, in addition to that, the things that went on the cutting-room floor that they may not have found appropriate for the ICA, but we may have found relevant to our investigation.” Burr added that the committee’s review included “highly classified intelligence reporting,” and they’ve interviewed every official in the Obama administration who had anything to do with putting it together. (“Democrats and Republicans in Congress Agree: Russia Did It”, The Nation)

That’s great, but where’ the beef?  How can the committee conduct “100 interviews, comprising 250 hours of testimony and resulting in 4,000 pages of transcripts” without producing a shred of evidence that Russia meddled in the elections?  How is that possible? The Committee’s job is to prove its case not to merely pour over the minutia related to the investigation. No one really cares how many people testified or how much paperwork was involved. What people want is proof that Russia interfered with the elections or that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. That’s the whole point of this exercise. And, on the collusion matter, at least we have something new to report. In a rare moment of candor, Burr blurted out this gem:

“There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion? The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. Now, I’m not going to even discuss any initial findings because we haven’t any.”

Think about that. After “100 interviews, 250 hours of testimony, and 4000 transcript pages” there’s not the slightest hint of collusion. It’s mindboggling. Why isn’t this front page news? Why haven’t the New York Times or Washington Post run this in their headlines, after all, they’ve hyped every other part of this story?

Could it be that Burr’s admission doesn’t mesh with the media’s “Russia did it” narrative so they decided to scrub the story altogether?

But it’s not just collusion we’re talking about here, there’s also the broader issue of Russia meddling. And what was striking about the press conference is that –after all the interviews, all the testimony, and all the stacks of transcripts– the Committee has come up with nothing; no eyewitness testimony supporting the original claims, no smoking gun, no proof of domestic espionage, no evidence of Russian complicity, nothing. One big goose egg.

So here’s a question for critical minded readers:

If the Senate Intelligence Committee has not found any proof that Russia hacked the 2016 elections, then why do senators’ Burr and Warner still believe the ICA is reliable? It doesn’t really make sense, does it?  Don’t they require evidence to draw their conclusions? And doesn’t the burden of truth fall on the prosecution (or the investigators in this case)? Isn’t a man innocent until proven guilty or doesn’t that rule apply to Russia?

Let’s cut to the chase: The committee is not getting to the bottom of the Russia hacking matter, because they don’t want to get to the bottom of it. It’s that simple. That’s why they have excluded any witnesses that may upset their preconceived theory of what happened. Why, for example, would the committee chose to interview former CIA Director John Brennan rather than WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange? Brennan not only helped select the hand-picked analysts who authored the ICA, he also clearly has an animus towards Russia due to his frustrated attempt to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad which was thwarted by Putin. In other words, Brennan has a motive to mislead the Committee. He’s biased. He has an ax to grind. In contrast, Assange has firsthand knowledge of what actually transpired with the DNC emails because he was the recipient of those emails. Has Assange been contacted by the Committee or asked to testify via Skype?

Don’t bet on it.

What about former UK ambassador Craig Murray, a WikiLeaks colleague, who has repeatedly admitted that he knows the source of the DNC emails. Murray hasn’t been asked to testify nor has he even been contacted by the FBI on the matter. Apparently, the FBI has no interest in a credible witness who can disprove the politically-motivated theory expounded in the ICA.

Then there’s 30-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern and his group of  Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). McGovern has done extensive research on the topic and has produced solid evidence that the DNC emails were “leaked” by an insider, not “hacked” by a foreign government. McGovern’s work squares with Assange and Murray’s claim that Russia did not hack the 2016 elections. Has McGovern been invited to testify?

How about Skip Folden, retired IBM Program Manager and Information Technology expert, whose excellent report titled “Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge” also disproves the hacking theory, as does The Nation’s Patrick Lawrence whose riveting article at The Nation titled “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack” which thoroughly obliterates the central claims of the ICA.

Finally, there’s California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who met with Assange in August at the Ecuadorian embassy in London and who was assured that Assange would provide hard evidence (in the form of “a computer drive or other data-storage device”) that the Russians were not involved in the DNC email scandal.

Wouldn’t you think that senate investigators would want to talk to a trusted colleague and credible witness like Rohrabacher who said he could produce solid proof  that the scandal, that has dominated the headlines and roiled Washington for the better part of a year, was bogus?

Apparently not. Apparently Burr and his colleagues would rather avoid any witness or evidence that conflicts with their increasingly-threadbare thesis.

So what conclusions can we draw from the Committee’s behavior? Are Burr and Warner really conducting an open and independent investigation of alleged Russia hacking or is this just a witch hunt?

It should be obvious by now that the real intention of the briefing was not to provide the public with more information, facts or evidence of Russian hacking, but to use the prestigious setting as a platform for disseminating more disinformation aimed at vilifying an emerging rival (Russia) that has blocked Washington’s aggression in Ukraine and Syria, and threatens to unite the most populous and prosperous region in the world (Eurasia) into one massive free trade zone spanning from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Reasonable people must now consider the possibility that the Russia hacking narrative is an Information Operation (IO)  devoid of any real substance which is designed to poison the publics perception of Russia. It is a domestic propaganda campaign that fits perfectly with the “Full Spectrum Dominance” theory of weaponizing media in a way that best achieves one’s geopolitical objectives. The American people are again being manipulated so that powerful elites can lead the country to war.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

Sources

1. Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on Russia investigation, CSPAN

2. Intelligence Community Assessment, January 6, 2017

3. A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack, Patrick Lawrence, The Nation.

4. Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence

5. Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge, Skip Folden

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Featured image: An armed British Reaper drone

This month (October 2017) marks ten years of British Reaper drone operations.  Acquired on a  temporary basis as an ‘Urgent Operational Capability’, the UK began operating armed drones in Afghanistan in October 2007 after having three delivered directly to Kandahar airport. A decade later the Reapers have been in continuous use and are now deemed a ‘core capability’.  Having already tripled the number in service, the government are in the process of increasing the fleet up to 26 as the new, updated version of Reaper (re-branded by the British government as ‘Protector’) are delivered over the next two – three years.

The UK’s commitment to the use of armed drones is clear, not only through expanding numbers in service, but also through increased funding for the development of more advanced drones, as well as the infrastructure needed to operate them.

Secrecy grows

Less attention, however, is being paid to the impact of the growing use of these systems and the legal and ethical concerns raised.  Over the past two years defence ministers have been responding to questions by insisting that the publication of a new policy document would address all such concerns.  Repeatedly delayed, when it was finally published last month the document was underwhelming to say the least.  To a large part it is mainly concerned with caricaturing the issues before then dismissing them.  One part of the document, which states that it had become ‘UK practice’ to target suspected terrorists outside of the armed conflict, was dis-owned by MoD officials within days.

This would perhaps be funny if it was not so serious.  This failure to engage with policy concerns comes on top of concerted attempts to thwart oversight and accountability over UK drone operations.  The refusal of ministers and officials to provide the security-cleared Intelligence and Security Committee with key information and documents about the drone targeted killing of Reyaad Khan is a scandal.  As the Committee put it in their final report, “we cannot ourselves be sure – nor offer an assurance to Parliament or the public – that we have indeed been given the full facts surrounding” the killing of Khan. The refusal of the government to co-operate with its own oversight procedures in the extra-ordinary case of a targeted killing beyond the battlefield is startling. However, the government is also now refusing to provide basic details of regular deployment of its armed drones.  It seems the secrecy surrounding the use of these systems is expanding with their growing use. This bodes ill for the future.

Hand-in-hand with Trump

But any discussion of the British use of armed drones however, cannot be done in isolation from US use. Over the past decade British armed drones have operated alongside and at times interchangeably, with the US drones operations.  British and US drone strikes are ‘the sharp end’ of a combined data gathering machine operated by the British GCHQ and Defence Intelligence, as well as the US National Security Agency (NSA), CIA and a whole host of other secretive US agencies.  Just last month, documents released from the Snowden cache revealed just how much a small British base, RAF Digby in Lincolnshire, located just a couple of miles from RAF Waddington, is involved in acquiring intelligence via the UK’s drones and sharing  it with the United States.

While there has long been international concern, not to say outrage, at the US use of drones for targeting killing in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, the Trump administration is now considering policy changes which would increase these types of drone operations. Changes include expanding strikes from those who are said to pose a ‘continuing and imminent threat’ to the US, to those against ‘low-level’ militants, as well as pushing the authority for such strikes down the command chain to lower-level officials (remember this is for strikes in countries in which the US is not at war). In addition the US is also considering giving the CIA a greater role in undertaking strikes inside traditional armed conflicts, normally the preserve of the Pentagon.

In the past government ministers have – publicly at least – sought to distance the UK from these US targeted killing operations, and disagreed with the US legal interpretation of a geographically boundless ’global war on terror’.   However the drone killing of Reyaad Khan in 2015 and the UK Attorney General’s speech earlier this year adopting US legal interpretations for pre-emptive strikes shows that, for practical purposes the UK is hand-in-hand with Trump.

A fork in the road

However we are about to reach a fork in the road; an opportunity to make clear that the UK does not consider war to be a permanent state of affairs and to open up clear blue water between the UK and the US on this issue.  As Iraqi forces continue to gain control over their territory, it is likely that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will declare victory over ISIS in the next few months.  This will be a clear opportunity for the UK to call a halt to its decade of drone strikes.

In 2014, Parliament dispatched its drones and other armed aircraft directly from Afghanistan to Iraq in response to a call for security assistance from Haider al-Abadi.  In the UK parliamentary resolution authorising the deployment, MPs strictly limited the use of force to the territory of Iraq.  However, within weeks British drones were ignoring this restriction and crossing the border into Syria, first to undertake intelligence gathering missions and then to strike.  Later, this was regularized as parliament authorised strikes in Syria, but the international legal situation is very different with regard to strikes in Iraq and Syria.  The use of lethal force in Iraq is at the request of the Iraqi authorities.  This is not the case in Syria.  Any legal argument for British strikes against ISIS in Syria is predicated on the threat to Iraq, (the so-called ‘unable and unwilling test’, which continues to be controversial).  If the Iraq government says the war is over, this should be an end to UK air strikes both in Iraq and in Syria.

Ground the drones

There will be many siren voices insisting that the global war against terror goes on.  Indeed, as the Telegraph reported this weekend, the Pentagon is already lobbying the UK to send its forces back to Afghanistan.  These voices will no doubt increase after every awful terrorist act (‘Send in the Drones’). But this dangerous and unlawful call to perpetual war must be resisted.  Dropping bombs and firing missiles does not and will not solve international security problems.  Indeed, as many have stated, it has the opposite effect.  Diplomatic and political solutions must come to the fore.

Many politicians and military officials dismiss – and even express horror – at the idea that the UK is involved in a permanent war alongside the United States.  But after seventeen years of military intervention and bombing – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Iraq (again) and Syria – unless we take a positive decision to choose a different path, war will have become a normal and permanent state.

All images in this article are from the author.

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In less than an hour on Thursday morning, President Donald Trump went from encouraging Americans to watch his favorite show, Fox & Friends, to telling residents of Puerto Rico the crisis there is “largely of their own making” to ultimately saying that the U.S. government cannot keep federal emergency workers there “forever.”

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The series of tweets comes as relief workers on the ground and Puerto Rican officials say the humanitarian crisis is much worse on the ground than the rosy picture Trump continues to paint.

Disgust aimed at the president came swiftly:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Featured image is from SocialistWorker.org.

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Featured image: Above: Left: UPS CEO David Abney (Photo via UPS.com); Right: FedEx CEO Fred Smith (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FedEx and UPS—two of America’s biggest employers—have been publicly pushing tax cuts as job creators even as they plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for a coming wave of automation at their distribution centers and along their delivery lines, corporate documents show.

Neither company has said what effect their automation plans may have on their job numbers, but both FedEx and UPS are also actively developing new technology designed to expand automation, according to patent applications reviewed by TYT. One UPS executive told Wall Street analysts new automation initiatives currently being planned will be coming online as late as 2020.

Pushing for Tax Cuts

Following last month’s tax-cut proposals put forward by congressional Republicans and President Trump, both FedEx and UPS have made statements in support of dramatically lowered corporate tax rates.

At a September 21 event promoting the tax cuts, UPS CEO David Abney said,

“It’s not about, ‘Okay, corporations would like to pay less taxes.’ It’s about growing the American economy, creating jobs and giving us all a chance to be competitive.”

The event was hosted by the Business Roundtable, a group of executives that is pushing for lower corporate tax rates.

FedEx CEO Fred Smith discussed corporate taxes on September 27, telling CNBC,

“It’s got to be changed for U.S. competitiveness and to incent investment in the United States because that’s the only way you get blue-collar wages up.”

On August 14, Smith and Abney had joined forces to co-author an op-ed on economic growth, writing in the Wall Street Journal,

“If you lower rates, eliminate loopholes, and otherwise simplify the tax code, you create opportunity for growth.”

That same month, congressional Republicans rolled out a national campaign to promote tax cuts as a job-creation tool. Abney hosted and attended one such event, featuring two congressional Republicans, at the UPS Worldport facility in Louisville, KY.

In addition to membership in Business Roundtable, both companies also belong to a number of organizations actively pushing for corporate tax cuts. These include the RATE (Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably) Coalition, a constellation of corporations that have banded together to promote the Republican tax plan through lobbying effortsad buyswriting reportseditorials, and letters to Congress; and testifying before Congress.

UPS is also a member of the Alliance for Competitive Taxation, while David Short, senior counsel for legal, trade, and international affairs for FedEx Express, serves on the Advisory Board for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both groups maintain that federal tax cuts will generate job creation.

In addition to public-relations efforts by UPS, FedEx, and their affiliated advocacy groups, both companies also employ lobbyists to push for their preferred policies in Washington. Including in-house lobbying and work done by outside firms, FedEx has spent over $5.2 million on federal governmental lobbying in 2017, while UPS has spent nearly $4.3 millionSixteen of the 31 federal lobbying disclosure forms filed by FedEx this year list tax reform, while 12 out of 19 UPS forms disclose lobbying on tax reform, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

In February, Smith met with Vice President Mike Pence. FedEx President and COO David Bronczek met with President Donald Trump.

Neither company has said it will use its windfall from a tax cut to hire more workers. In his appearance last month on CNBC, Smith said,

“We put a lot of money into the business … to invest for the future. We bought a lot of shares back. We steadily increased our dividends … We’ve been able to increase our wages every year. So a tax decrease would allow us to do all of those things at greater scale.”

Abney does not appear to have suggested wages will go up at UPS. He told the Business Roundtable,

“We’re in a reinvestment cycle here at UPS in the U.S., and [as] part of this tax reform, we’d like to bring some of those foreign earnings back and invest them into our network here.”

One investment both companies are making is in increased automation.

Investing in Automation

In the June FedEx earnings call, CFO and Executive Vice President Alan Graf Jr. said FedEx Ground has made “significant investments in capacity and automation and will continue to invest” in the next fiscal year. He said the company expects to spend $5.9 billion next year on capital expenditures, including new planes and “continued investments in FedEx Ground automation and capacity expansion.”

Asked about transitioning from manual to automated loading and unloading of its trucks, FedEx Ground CEO and President Henry Maier, on the same call, said,

“We are making investments in material handling and lifting technologies to address that. We review hub designs over the normal course of business that account for package size. So that would divert packages, for instance, that we would have to handle manually today to a more automated mode.”

Last November, UPS outlined plans to invest more than half a billion dollars in automating processing at three major hubs.

UPS is “mid-process of a multiyear approach to our automation process, but they are giving us 20 percent to 25 percent greater productivity,” UPS Senior Vice President and President of U.S. Operations Myron Gray said during a January earnings call. “That helps us to improve flexibilities, reduce the handles in our network, which obviously continue to help us reduce or bend the cost curve. So we’re about midway through the process, with most of the capacity and automation coming online in 2018, 2019, and 2020.”

Plans include a $400 million, 1.2 million-square-foot processing facility in Atlanta. UPS also announced a $196 million investment to increase processing capacity in Jacksonville, Florida, by 33 percent, and $175 million to double processing capacity at its hub in Columbus, Ohio, which will reportedly add 75 new jobs as a result by next fall.

All three projects reportedly received local tax breaks as incentives for job creation.

In its 2016 annual report, filed with the SEC in February 2017, UPS wrote,

“In order to meet demand, we are increasing capital expenditures to expand network capacity and increase productivity by automating existing facilities. We are making strategic investments in our top 30 processing hubs, as well as adding new facilities to our network.”

A UPS representative told industry publication Logistics Management in November 2016 that the equipment used at the Atlanta hub will serve as a “showpiece for us with new automation systems.”

At its Worldport facility in Kentucky, UPS has told reporters it defines automation as meaning that workers do not touch actual packages at any point except two times: before the package enters the high-speed, computerized, assembly-line distribution system, and once it’s done.

Neither company appears to be relying solely on existing technology for automating package scanning, processing, distribution, and delivery. Both UPS and FedEx are actively researching and creating new methods of automation, based on patent applications reviewed by TYT.

On August 24, for example, the World Intellectual Property Organization granted UPS a patent for “Assembly Including an Imaging System, and Methods of Using the Same.”

A year before that, UPS received a patent in August 2016 titled, “Automated Loading and Unloading Items,” from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the automated unloading and retrieval of goods being prepared for shipment.

“In various embodiments, items are received at a loading station where identification data may be captured for each item and handling instructions may be generated. In some embodiments, a label having indicia asso­ciated with the item may be generated and affixed to the item,” according to the patent. “The items may then be deposited through an access door into the vehicle identified in the handling instructions. Once the items are loaded into the access door, an automated load/unload device may deposit the item in the appropriate storage location. The automated load/unload device may also retrieve and rearrange items as desired.”

In 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted UPS a patent titled, “Methods, Apparatuses and Computer Program Products For Automating Arrivals and Departures.” The patent’s background description explains how it will reduce hours of manual work related to trucks coming in and out of UPS shipping centers.

“Hours of valuable time are consumed every day as transportation personnel contact dispatchers or others regarding their arrival and departure to areas such as hubs,” according to the description. “Such processes may cause reduced productivity, as the vehicles may need to come to a complete stop and be turned off to allow the transportation employee to use a telephone to speak with appropriate personnel such as a dispatcher to determine where loads should be placed in a hub.”

The description anticipates reducing staffing, saying, “Currently, dispatch operations typically require excessive time as well as staffing resources to manage the activities surrounding the arrivals, departures, and pre-dispatch of loads at hubs. As such, a need may exist for automating arrival and departure dispatch activities.”

TYT identified at least 21 patent applications geared toward automated scanning, processing, or delivery.

Jobs

It’s not clear what effect automation will have on the number of jobs at FedEx and UPS, the ninth and tenth biggest employers in the world, respectively, according to the Fortune 500 list. Nor is it clear that current tax rates have impeded hiring.

FedEx does not list its U.S. employee numbers in its SEC filings. But in its report for fiscal year 2016, it reported 353,000employees globally, up from 213,500 in fiscal year 2008. UPS went from reporting 340,000 U.S. employees in fiscal year 2008 to reporting 355,000 in fiscal year 2016.

Neither company has claimed a lack of resources to hire new employees. At UPS, last year’s dividend payments amounted to $2.8 billion. It had $3.546 billion in cash on hand and paid Abney $13.7 million, according to a UPS proxy statement filed in March, up more than 20 percent from the previous year.

FedEx paid Smith $15.6 million in compensation in fiscal year 2017, according to a proxy filing submitted to the SEC this September. The company ended 2016 with $3.53 billion in cash on hand. It gave its shareholders $227 million in dividends both last year and in 2015. As Smith indicated to CNBC, he expects to use his company’s tax windfall to expand those payments.

FedEx did not respond to multiple questions about its plans for its tax windfall or how its spending would affect hiring. UPS spokeswoman Kara Gerhardt Ross, formerly an assistant press secretary for then-President Bill Clinton, said the company could not answer TYT’s questions because they involved “proprietary information.” Ross referred The Young Turks to UPS’ statement released after President Trump released the contours of his proposed tax plan in September.

“[UPS] commends the Administration and Congressional leaders on the release of a unified framework which details a plan for tax reform that will stimulate the economy, create jobs and develop a globally competitive tax structure,” reads the statement. “UPS strongly supports the tax reform outlined in this proposal.”

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The US Government Targets Black Resistance

October 13th, 2017 by Black Alliance for Peace

The state is growing more desperate and dangerous.

It faces a crisis, one where its own legitimacy is being questioned.

In a re-play of the repression faced by Black liberation forces in the 1960s and ‘70s, news broke that the Black resistance movement is in the cross hairs of the state. So-called “Black-identity extremists” are now the new FBI targets, a category that can include anyone who believes Black people have the right to resist and deserve self-determination, one of BAP’s grounding principles.

But we will not be intimidated. We will intensify our organizing and educational work and meet this challenge as we have met challenges in the past.

Now don’t forget to give—we need all of the resources we can get!

The struggle continues and we will win. Here are articles, videos and events to help you tackle the crises we face:

Events

  1. October 14, Washington, D.C.: BAP member Pan-African Community Action is organizing the sixth-annual Thomas Sankara conference in Washington, D.C., to help develop pan-African strategies.3
  2. October 14, Columbus, Ohio: Meet BAP national organizer Ajamu Baraka in Columbus, Ohio! You can also hear him speak at a second event about resistance and Black liberation in the age of Trump.3.
  3. October 17, Decatur, Georgia: The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition is hosting Ajamu to discuss the history of the U.S.-Korea conflict.

Video

  1. Despite Trump’s bluster, nothing has really changed with how the United States deals with the world, said Margaret Kimberley, BAP Coordinating Committee member, at the United National Antiwar Coalition’s rally on Saturday to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

Articles

  1. BAP member Charo Mina-Rojas discussed the heated Colombian peace process.
  2. The state is not playing. Already, a convergence of white opinion exists on the left and on the right in opposition to what they call “identity politics” and what we call racial justice. Now folks are being targeted as “Black identity extremists.”
  3. When the social compact is weak, everybody is the ‘Other’—and, therefore, a target.
  4. In the twisted, racist, profit-seeking minds of U.S. and E.U. leaders, a military buildup mainly using Black and Brown U.S. bodies is designed to create peace.
  5. It’s important for folks to understand the United States funds terrorists when it wants to take control of a country.
  6. Are Russians collaborating with or influencing U.S. Blacks? This allegation is not new.

Let’s continue to build the resistance we all have been waiting for!

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The CIA: Seventy Years of Organized Crime

October 13th, 2017 by Douglas Valentine

Lars Schall: 70 years ago, on September 18, 1947, the National Security Act created the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA. Douglas, you refer to the CIA as “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government.” Why so?

Douglas Valentine: Everything the CIA does is illegal, which is why the government provides it with an impenetrable cloak of secrecy. While mythographers in the information industry portray America as a bastion of peace and democracy, CIA officers manage criminal organizations around the world. For example, the CIA hired one of America’s premier drug trafficker in the 1950s and 1960s, Santo Trafficante, to murder Fidel Castro. In exchange, the CIA allowed Trafficante to import tons of narcotics into America. The CIA sets up proprietary arms, shipping, and banking companies to facilitate the criminal drug trafficking organizations that do its dirty work. Mafia money gets mixed up in offshore banks with CIA money, until the two are indistinguishable.

Drug trafficking is just one example.

LS: What is most important to understand about the CIA?

DV: Its organizational history, which, if studied closely enough, reveals how the CIA manages to maintain its secrecy. This is the essential contradiction at the heart of America’s problems: if we were a democracy and if we truly enjoyed free speech, we would be able to study and speak about the CIA. We would confront our institutionalized racism and sadism. But we can’t, and so our history remains unknown, which in turn means we have no idea who we are, as individuals or as a nation. We imagine ourselves to be things we are not. Our leaders know bits and pieces of the truth, but they cease being leaders once they begin to talk about the truly evil things the CIA is doing.

LS: A term of interest related to the CIA is “plausible deniability”. Please explain.

DV: The CIA doesn’t do anything it can’t deny. Tom Donohue, a retired senior CIA officer, told me about this.

Let me tell you a bit about my source. In 1984, former CIA Director William Colby agreed to help me write my book, The Phoenix Program. Colby introduced me to Donohue in 1985. Donohue had managed the CIA’s “covert action” branch in Vietnam from 1964-1966, and many of the programs he developed were incorporated in Phoenix. Because Colby had vouched for me, Donohue was very forthcoming and explained a lot about how the CIA works.

Donohue was a typical first-generation CIA officer. He’d studied Comparative Religion at Columbia and understood symbolic transformation. He was a product and practitioner of Cook County politics who joined the CIA after World War Two when he perceived the Cold War as “a growth industry.” He had been the CIA’s station chief in the Philippines at the end of his career and, when I spoke to him, he was in business with a former Filipino Defense Minister. He was putting his contacts to good use, which is par for the course. It’s how corruption works for senior bureaucrats.

Donohue said the CIA doesn’t do anything unless it meets two criteria. The first criterion is “intelligence potential.” The program must benefit the CIA; maybe it tells them how to overthrow a government, or how to blackmail an official, or where a report is hidden, or how to get an agent across a border. The term “intelligence potential” means it has some use for the CIA. The second criterion is that it can be denied. If they can’t find a way to structure the program or operation so they can deny it, they won’t do it. Plausible denial can be as simple as providing an officer or asset with military cover. Then the CIA can say, “The army did it.”

Plausible denial is all about language. During Senate hearings into CIA assassination plots against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders, the CIA’s erstwhile deputy director of operations Richard Bissell defined „plausible denial“ as “the use of circumlocution and euphemism in discussions where precise definitions would expose covert actions and bring them to an end.”

Everything the CIA does is deniable. It’s part of its Congressional mandate. Congress doesn’t want to be held accountable for the criminal things the CIA does. The only time something the CIA does become public knowledge – other than the rare accident or whistleblower – is when Congress or the President think it’s helpful for psychological warfare reasons to let the American people know the CIA is doing it. Torture is a good example. After 9/11, and up until and through the invasion of Iraq, the American people wanted revenge. They wanted to see Muslim blood flowing, so the Bush administration let it leak that they were torturing evil doers. They played it cute and called it “enhanced interrogation,” but everyone understood symbolically. Circumlocution and euphemism. Plausible denial.

LS: Do the people at the CIA know that they’re part of “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government”? In the past, you’ve suggested related to the Phoenix program, for example: „Because the CIA compartmentalizes itself, I ended up knowing more about the program than any individual in the CIA.“

DV: Yes, they do. I talk at length about this in my book The CIA as Organized Crime. Most people have no idea what cops really do. They think cops give you a speeding ticket. They don’t see the cops associating with professional criminals and making money in the process. They believe that when a guy puts on a uniform, he or she becomes virtuous. But people who go into law enforcement do so for the trill of wielding power over other people, and in this sense, they relate more to the crooks they associate with than the citizens they’re supposed to protect and serve. They’re looking to bully someone and they’re corrupt. That’s law enforcement.

The CIA is populated with the same kind of people, but without any of the constraints. The CIA officer who created the Phoenix program, Nelson Brickham, told me this about his colleagues: “I have described the intelligence service as a socially acceptable way of expressing criminal tendencies. A guy who has strong criminal tendencies but is too much of a coward to be one, would wind up in a place like the CIA if he had the education.” Brickham described CIA officers as wannabe mercenaries “who found a socially acceptable way of doing these things and, I might add, getting very well paid for it.”

It’s well known that when the CIA selects agents or people to run militias or secret police units in foreign nations, it subjects its candidates to rigorous psychological screening. John Marks in The Search for the Manchurian Candidate told how the CIA sent its top psychologist, John Winne, to Seoul to “select the initial cadre” for the Korean CIA. “I set up an office with two translators,” Winne told Marks, “and used a Korean version of the Wechsler.” CIA shrinks gave the personality assessment test to two dozen military and police officers, “then wrote up a half-page report on each, listing their strengths and weaknesses. Winne wanted to know about each candidate’s ability to follow orders, creativity, lack of personality disorders, motivation – why he wanted out of his current job. It was mostly for the money, especially with the civilians.”

In this way, the CIA recruits secret police forces as assets in every country where it operates, including occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. In Latin America, Marks wrote, “The CIA…found the assessment process most useful for showing how to train the anti-terrorist section. According to results, these men were shown to have very dependent psychologies and needed strong direction.”

That “direction” came from the CIA. Marks quoted one assessor as saying, “Anytime the Company spent money for training a foreigner, the object was that he would ultimately serve our purposes.” CIA officers “were not content simply to work closely with these foreign intelligence agencies; they insisted on penetrating them, and the Personality Assessment System provided a useful aid.”

What’s less well known is that the CIA’s executive management staff is far more concerned with selecting the right candidates to serve as CIA officers than it is about selecting agents overseas. The CIA dedicates a huge portion of its budget figuring how to select, control, and manage its own work force. It begins with instilling blind obedience. Most CIA officers consider themselves to be soldiers. The CIA is set up as a military organization with a sacred chain of command that cannot be violated. Somebody tells you what to do, and you salute and do it. Or you’re out.

Other systems of control, such as “motivational indoctrination programs”, make CIA officers think of themselves as special. Such systems have been perfected and put in place over the past seven decades to shape the beliefs and responses of CIA officers. In exchange for signing away their legal rights, they benefit from reward systems – most importantly, CIA officers are immune from prosecution for their crimes. They consider themselves the Protected Few and, if they wholeheartedly embrace the culture of dominance and exploitation, they can look to cushy jobs in the private sector when they retire.

The CIA’s executive management staff compartments the various divisions and branches so that individual CIA officers can remain detached. Highly indoctrinated, they blindly obey on a “need to know” basis. This institutionalized system of self-imposed ignorance and self-deceit sustains, in their warped minds, the illusion of American righteousness, upon which their motivation to commit all manner of crimes in the name of national security depends. That and the fact that most are sociopaths.

It’s a self-regulating system too. As FBN Agent Martin Pera explained, “If you’re successful because you can lie, cheat, and steal, those things become tools you use in the bureaucracy.”

LS: Can you tell us please what’s behind a term you like to use, the „Universal Brotherhood of Officers“?

DV: The ruling class in any state views the people it rules as lesser beings to be manipulated, coerced, and exploited. The rulers institute all manner of systems – which function as protection rackets – to assure their class prerogatives. The military is the real power in any state, and the military in every state has a chain of command in which blind obedience to superiors is sacred and inviolable. Officers don’t fraternize with enlisted men because they will at some point send them to their deaths. There is an officer corps in every military, as well as in every bureaucracy and every ruling class in every state, which has more in common with military officers, top bureaucrats, and rulers in other states, than it does with the expendable, exploitable riff raff in its own state.

Cops are members of the Universal Brotherhood of Officers. They exist above the law. CIA officers exist near the pinnacle of the Brotherhood. Blessed with fake identities and bodyguards, they fly around in private planes, live in villas, and kill with state-of-the-art technology. They tell army generals what to do. They direct Congressional committees. They assassinate heads of state and murder innocent children with impunity and with indifference. Everyone to them, but their bosses, is expendable.

LS: In your opinion, it is the „National Security Establishment’s deepest, darkest secret“ that it is involved in the global drug trade. How did this involvement come about?

DV: There are two facets to the CIA’s management and control of international drug trafficking, on behalf of the corporate interests that rule America. It’s important to note that the US government’s involvement in drug trafficking began before the CIA existed, as a means of controlling states, as well as the political and social movements within them, including America. Direct involvement started in the 1920s when the US helped Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist regime in China support itself through the narcotics trade.

During World War II, the CIA’ predecessor, the OSS, provided opium to Kachin guerrillas fighting the Japanese. The OSS and the US military also forged ties with the American criminal underworld during the Second World War, and would thereafter secretly provide protection to American drug traffickers whom it hired to do its dirty work at home and abroad.

After the Nationalists were chased out of China, the CIA established these drug traffickers in Taiwan and Burma. By the 1960’s, the CIA was running the drug trade throughout Southeast Asia, and expanding its control worldwide, especially into South America, but also throughout Europe. The CIA supported its drug trafficking allies in Laos and Vietnam. Air Force General Nguyen Cao Ky, while serving in 1965 as head of South Vietnam’s national security directorate, sold the CIA the right to organize private militias and build secret interrogation centers in every province, in exchange for control over a lucrative narcotic smuggling franchise. Through his strongman, General Loan, Ky and his clique financed both their political apparatus and their security forces through opium profits. All with CIA assistance.

The risk of having its ties to drug traffickers in Southeast Asia exposed, is what marks the beginning of the second facet – the CIA’s infiltration and commandeering of the various government agencies involved in drug law enforcement. Senior American officials arranged for the old Bureau of Narcotics to be dissolved and recreated in 1968 within the Justice Department as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The CIA immediately began infiltrating the highest levels of the BNDD for the purpose of protecting its drug trafficking allies around the world, especially in Southeast Asia. The CIA’s Counter-Intelligence Branch, under James Angleton, had been in liaison with these drug agencies since 1962, but in 1971 the function was passed to the CIA’s operations division. In 1972, CIA officer Seymour Bolten was appointed as the CIA director’s Special Assistant for the Coordination of Narcotics. Bolten became an advisor to William Colby and later DCI George H.W. Bush. By 1973, with the establishment of the DEA, the CIA was in total control of all foreign drug law enforcement operations and was able to protect traffickers in the US as well. In 1990 the CIA created its own counter-narcotics center, despite being prohibited from exercising any domestic law enforcement function.

LS: Is the war on drugs also a war on blacks? Let me give you some framework for this question, because John Ehrlichman, a former top aide to Richard Nixon, supposedly admitted that: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” (1) And I can quote from H. R. Haldeman’s diaries in this respect, of course. In the early stages of his presidency, more specifically on April 28, 1969, Nixon outlined his basic strategy to his chief of staff: “[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” (2) So, is the war on drugs that started under Nixon also a war on blacks? And if so, what does this tell us about the United States?

DV: America is a former slave state and a blatantly racist society, so yes, the war on drugs, which is managed by white supremacists, was and is directed against blacks and other despised minorities as a way of keeping them disenfranchised. The old Bureau of Narcotics was blatantly racist: not until 1968 were black FBN agents allowed to become group supervisors (Grade 13) and manage white agents.

I interviewed former FBN Agent William Davis for my book about the FBN, The Strength of the Wolf. Davis articulated the predicament of black agents.  After graduating from Rutgers University in 1950, Davis, while visiting New York City, heard singer Kate Smith praising FBN Agent Bill Jackson on a radio show. “She described him as a black lawyer who was doing a fine job as a federal narcotic agent,” Davis recalled, “and that was my inspiration. I applied to the Narcotics Bureau and was hired right away, but I soon found out there was an unwritten rule that Black agents could not hold positions of respect: they could not become group leaders, or manage or give direction to whites. The few black agents we had at any one time,” he said bitterly, “maybe eight in the whole country, had indignities heaped upon us.”

Davis told how Wade McCree, while working as an FBN agent in the 1930s, created a patent medicine.  But McCree made the mistake of writing to Eleanor Roosevelt to complain that prosecutors in the South were calling black agents “niggers.”  As a result, the FBN’s legal staff charge McCree with using FBN facilities to create his patent medicine. McCree was fired with the intended ripple effect: his dismissal sent a clear message that complaints from black agents would not be tolerated.

In an interview for The Strength of the Wolf, Clarence Giarusso, a veteran New Orleans narcotic agent and its chief of police in the 1970s, explained to me the racial situation from local law enforcement’s perspective. “We made cases in Black neighborhoods because it was easy,” he said. “We didn’t need a search warrant, it allowed us to meet our quotas, and it was ongoing. If we found dope on a Black man we could put him in jail for a few days and no one cared. He has no money for a lawyer, and the courts are ready to convict; there’s no expectation on the jury’s part that we even have to make a case.  So rather than go cold turkey he becomes an informant, which means we can make more cases in his neighborhood, which is all we’re interested in. We don’t care about Carlos Marcello or the Mafia. City cops have no interest in who brings the dope in. That’s the job of federal agents.”

Anyone who thinks it is any different nowadays is living in a fantasy world. Where I live, in Longmeadow, MA, the cops are the first line of defense against the blacks and Puerto Ricans in the nearby city of Springfield. About 15 years ago, there was a Mafia murder in Springfield’s Little Italy section. At the time, blacks and Puerto Ricans were moving into the neighborhood and there was a lot of racial tension. The local TV station interviewed me about it, and I said the Al Bruno, the murdered Mafia boss, was probably an FBI informant. The next day, people I knew wouldn’t talk to me. Comments were made. Someone told me Bruno’s son went to the same health club as me. In a city like Springfield and its suburban neighborhoods, everyone is related to or friends with someone in the Mafia.

A few years before Bruno’s murder, I had befriended the janitor at the health club I belong to. By chance, the janitor was the son of a Springfield narcotics detective. The janitor and I shot pool and drank beers in local bars. One day he told me a secret his father had told him. His father told him that the Springfield cops let the Mafia bosses bring narcotics into Springfield and in exchange, the hoods named their black and Puerto Ricans customers. That way, like Giarusso said above, the cops keep making cases and the minority communities have a harder time buying houses and encroaching on the established whites in their neighborhoods. This happens everywhere in the US every day.

LS: Is it ironic to you that the whole drug trade wouldn’t exist as it does today if the drugs were not illegal in the first place?

DV: The outlawing of narcotic drugs turned the issue of addiction from a matter of “public health” into a law enforcement issue, and thus a pretext for expanding police forces and reorganizing the criminal justice and social welfare systems to prevent despised minorities from making political and social advances. The health care industry was placed in the hands of businessmen seeking profits at the expense of despised minorities, the poor and working classes. Private businesses established civic institutions to sanctify this repressive policy. Public educators developed curricula that doubled as political indoctrination promoting the Business Party’s racist line. Bureaucracies were established to promote the expansion of business interests abroad, while suppressing political and social resistance to the medical, pharmaceutical, drug manufacturing and law enforcement industries that benefited from it.

It takes a library full of books to explain the economic foundations of the war on drugs, and the reasons for America’s laissez faire regulation of the industries that profit from it. Briefly stated, they profit from it just like the Mafia profits from it. Suffice it to say that Wall Street investors in the drug industries have used the government to unleash and transform their economic power into political and global military might; never forget, America is not an opium or cocaine producing nation, and narcotic drugs are a strategic resource, upon which all of the above industries – including the military – depend. Controlling the world’s drug supply, both legal and illegal, is a matter of national security. Read my books for examples of how this has played out over the past 70 years

LS: Is the CIA part of the opium problem today in Afghanistan?

DV: In Afghanistan, CIA officers manage the drug trade from their hammocks in the shade. Opium production has soared since they created the Karzai government in 2001-2 and established intelligence networks into the Afghan resistance through “friendly civilians” in the employ of the opium trafficking warlord, Gul Agha Sherzai. The American public is largely unaware that the Taliban laid down its arms after the American invasion, and that the Afghan people took up arms only after the CIA installed Sherzai in Kabul. In league with the Karzai brothers, Sherzai supplied the CIA with a network of informants that targeted their business rivals, not the Taliban. As Anand Gopal revealed in No Good Men Among the Living, as a result of Sherzai’s friendly tips, the CIA methodically tortured and killed Afghanistan’s most revered leaders in a series of Phoenix-style raids that radicalized the Afghan people. The CIA started the war as a pretext for a prolonged occupation and colonization of Afghanistan.

In return for his services, Sherzai received the contract to build the first US military base in Afghanistan, along with a major drug franchise. The CIA arranged for its Afghan drug warlords to be exempted from DEA lists. All this is documented in Gopal’s book. The CIA officers in charge watch in amusement as addiction rates soar among young Afghan people whose parents have been killed and whose minds have been damaged by 15 + years of US aggression. They don’t care that the drugs reach America’s inner cities, for all the economic, social, and political reasons cited above.

The drug trade also has “intelligence potential”. CIA officers have an accommodation with the protected Afghan warlords who convert opium into heroin and sell it to the Russian mob. It’s no different than cops working with Mafia drug dealers in America; it’s an accommodation with an enemy that ensures the political security of the ruling class. The accommodation is based on the fact that crime cannot be eradicated, it can only be managed.

The CIA is authorized to negotiate with the enemy, but only if the channels are secure and deniable. It happened during the Iran Contra scandal, when President Reagan won the love of the American people by promising never to negotiate with terrorists, while his two-faced administration secretly sent CIA officers to Tehran to sell missiles to the Iranians and use the money to buy guns for the drug dealing Contras. In Afghanistan, the accommodation within the drug underworld provides the CIA with a secure channel to the Taliban leadership, with whom they negotiate on simple matters like prisoner exchanges. The criminal-espionage underworld in Afghanistan provides the intellectual space for any eventual reconciliation. There are always preliminary negotiations for a ceasefire, and in every modern American conflict that’s the CIA’s job. Trump, however, is going to prolong the occupation indefinitely.

The fact that 600 subordinate DEA agents are in Afghanistan makes the whole thing plausibly deniable.

LS: Did the U.S. employ characteristics of the Phoenix program as a replay in Afghanistan? I ask especially related to the beginning of „Operation Enduring Freedom“ when the Taliban leaders initially laid down their weapons.

DV: Afghanistan is a case study of the standard two-tiered Phoenix program developed in South Vietnam. It’s guerrilla warfare targeting “high value” cadre, both for recruitment and assassination. That’s the top tier. It’s also psychological warfare against the civilian population – letting everyone know they will be kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, extorted and/or killed if they can be said to support the resistance. That’s the second tier – terrorizing the civilians into supporting the US puppet government.

The US military resisted being involved in this repugnant form of warfare (modeled on SS Einsatzgruppen-style special forces and Gestapo-style secret police) through the early part of the Vietnam War, but got hooked into providing soldiers to flesh out Phoenix. That’s when the CIA started infiltrating the military’s junior officer corps. CIA officers Donald Gregg (featured by the revisionist war monger Ken Burns in his Vietnam War series) and Rudy Enders (both of whom I interviewed for my book The Phoenix Program), exported Phoenix to El Salvador and Central America in 1980, at the same time the CIA and military were joining forces to create Delta Force and the Joint Special Operations Command to combat “terrorism” worldwide using the Phoenix model. There are no more conventional wars, so the military, for economic and political reasons, has become, under the junior officer corps recruited by the CIA years ago, the de-facto police force for the American empire, operating out of 700 + bases around the world.

LS: In what form and fashion is the Phoenix program alive today in America’s homeland?

DV: Karl Marx explained over 150 years ago how and why capitalists treat workers the same, whether at home or abroad. As capitalism evolves and centralizes its power, as the climate degenerates, as the gap between rich and poor widens, and as resources become scarcer, America police forces adopt Phoenix-style “anti-terror” strategies and tactics to use against the civilian population. The government has enacted “administrative detention” laws, which are the legal basis for Phoenix-style operations, so that civilians can be arrested on suspicion of being a threat to national security. Phoenix was a bureaucratic method of coordinating agencies involved in intelligence gathering with those conducting “anti-terror” operations, and the Department of Homeland Security has established “fusion centers” based on this model around the nation. Informant nets and psychological operations against the American people have also proliferated since 9-11. This is all explained in detail in my book, The CIA as Organized Crime.

LS: How important is mainstream media for the public perception of the CIA?

DV: It’s the most critical feature. Guy Debord said that secrecy dominates the world, foremost as secret of domination. The media prevents you from knowing how you’re being dominated, by keeping the CIA’s secrets. The media and the CIA are same thing.

What FOX and MSNBC have in common is that, in a free-wheeling capitalist society, news is a commodity. News outlets target demographic audience to sell a product. It’s all fake news, in so far as each media outlet skews its presentation of the news to satisfy its customers. But when it comes to the CIA, it’s not just fake, it’s poison. It subverts democratic institutions.

Any domestic Phoenix-style organization or operation depends on double-speak and deniability, as well as official secrecy and media self-censorship. The CIA’s overarching need for total control of information requires media complicity. This was one of the great lesson defeat in Vietnam taught our leaders. The highly indoctrinated and well rewarded managers who run the government and media will never again allow the public to see the carnage they inflict upon foreign civilians. Americans never will see the mutilated Iraqi, Afghani, Libyan, and Syrian children killed by marauding US mercenary forces and cluster bombs.

On the other hand, falsified portrayals of CIA kidnappings, torture, and assassinations are glorified on TV and in movies. Telling the proper story is the key. Thanks to media complicity, Phoenix has already become the template for providing internal political security for America’s leaders.

LS: Is the CIA an enemy of the American people?

DV: Yes. It’s an instrument of the rich political elite, it does their dirty business.

***

Douglas Valentine is the author of the non-fictional, historical books “The Hotel Tacloban”, “The Phoenix Program”, “The Strength of the Wolf”, “The Strength of the Pack”, and “The CIA as Organized Crime”.

Sources

(1) Dan Baum: “Legalize It All – How to win the war on drugs”, published at Harper’s Magazine in April 2016 under: https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/

(2) “Haldeman Diary Shows Nixon Was Wary of Blacks and Jews”, published at The New York Times on May 18, 1994 under: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/05/18/us/haldeman-diary-shows-nixon-was-wary-of-blacks-and-jews.html

Featured image is from Photo by Tom Thai | CC BY 2.0.

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