Azerbaijan has suddenly been subjected to a massive infowar attack in response to its increasingly independent foreign policy reducing the US’ level of control over this strategic energy supplier, and the end result of this coordinated operation is to replace the Turkic county with “Israel” as the EU’s anchor in a reconstructed Southern Energy Corridor.

International media has been abuzz over the past two weeks concerning the allegations levelled against Azerbaijan in two high-profile “leaks”. The first one originated earlier this summer and claims to prove through purportedly hacked emails from one of the country’s embassies that Azerbaijan has clandestinely played a key role in the global arms trade, especially the one with non-state actors such as Daesh. The second one is less sensational but similarly explosive because it tries to tie Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to a major influence operation all across the EU, one which his enemies have framed as a bribery ring. The timing of these two major offensives against Azerbaijan’s reputation and soft power isn’t coincidental, as it all perfectly correlates to larger ongoing processes in Eurasia as the world transitions towards an emerging Multipolar World Order.

Azerbaijan has begun to practice a more independent foreign policy as its international balancing act acquired crucial strength through the country’s ongoing rapprochement with Russia, which has manifested itself in the ambitious cross-continental North-South Transport Corridor with Iran and India, as well as through the skillful employment of “military diplomacy”. Concurrent with Turkey’s newfound Great Power partnership with Russia – in spite of the 2015 anti-terrorist fighter jet provocation carried out by the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO) and the subsequent pro-American coup attempt against President Erdogan less than a year later – Azerbaijan has followed in the footsteps of its fraternal state and altogether allowed Russia to maximize its influence to historically unseen proportions along its southern Mideast-Caucasus periphery.

This naturally drew the attention of the US, which for the past few years has waged a mild infowar campaign against Azerbaijan in accusing its government of being a “dictatorship”. It’s not a coincidence that this is the same modus operandi earlier applied against Presidents Putin and Erdogan, and President Aliyev is just the most recent Eurasian leader to fall victim to this tried-and-tested tactic. Part of the reason why he’s being targeted at this time has to do with his country being “collateral damage” in the EU’s post-coup tensions with Turkey, which has seen the US go all out in its claims that the country has totally turned away from democracy. Seeing as how Azerbaijan is Turkey’s closest international partner and vice-versa, it was inevitable that it would get dragged into this dispute sooner than later.

Ilham Aliyev talking to Russian residents in a village near Baku

It also doesn’t help any that Azerbaijan was upgrading its ties with Russia at the time either, as this made Baku an irresistible target for the US. In fact, this point is even more relevant than ever before considering the prevalence of conspiracy theories in the US about Russia’s global power and intentions following the 2016 election. The idea of “dictator Putin” controlling “puppet dictator Aliyev” in order to “neutralize” the original intentions of the Southern Energy Corridor in providing an alternative to Russian-sourced energy reserves is the type of wide-ranging and crazy conspiracy that American decision makers might not only believe, but even try to convince their European partners of too. In fact, it doesn’t matter if the US believes this or not, to be honest, since all that’s important is that it arguably looks like America is indeed trying to get the EU to agree with this narrative.

In pursuit of this end, the US has weaponized so-called “leaks” in order to strategically craft the perception that Azerbaijan is a “rogue state” which “regularly violates Western/European norms” through the supposed illegal shipment of arms across the world and to terrorist groups, allegedly conducts extensive bribery operations against elected officials, and is apparently fortifying an hereditary dictatorship at home. The point here isn’t so much to get the general public to believe all of this, but decision makers and key politicians, as the US wants them to disengage from Azerbaijan just as the entire bloc is doing with Baku’s ally Turkey. If important individuals in charge of their country’s or the EU’s foreign and energy policies don’t submit to American-Armenian pressure, then the next step would be to incite the masses against them in large-scale rallies using the information in the “leaks” as the pretext for protesting against them.

At this point it’s worthwhile to consider what the whole point of this is in the first place, since smearing what had previously been an EU-friendly country in as vicious of a way as the West is attacking Russia nowadays seems illogical if it’s supposedly only for the sake of it. Actually, there’s a very real reason why all of this is happening, and it’s because the US wants the EU to no longer prioritize Baku as the terminal point in the Southern Energy Corridor but to instead replace it with “Israel” through the recently announced pipeline that will be built from its Eastern Mediterranean Leviathan gas field to the EU via Cyprus and Greece. Although no physical progress has been made on its construction yet, the US is attempting to imply by contrast that the optics of the EU doing business with “Israel” are a lot more “pleasant” than with Azerbaijan.

For instance, Azerbaijan is Russia’s Turkic Muslim partner with a unique country-specific system of national democracy, while “Israel” is the US’ (ethnically) European Jewish ally with a system of “Western democracy”. In and of itself, this shouldn’t have any difference on Baku’s ability to satisfy the EU’s energy demands, but the US is politicizing Azerbaijan’s foreign and domestic choices, and even its own ethno-religious identity, in a desperate bid to diminish the country’s attractiveness. The overarching strategy is to utilize weaponized “leaks” in order to put pressure on EU decision makers to seriously consider “Israel” as a Southern Energy Corridor replacement for Azerbaijan, relying on trumped-up arguments completely unrelated to the country’s envisioned apolitical business role such as Baku’s Russo-Turkish partnerships, alleged international “misconduct” (illegal arms sales and bribery rings), and supposed violation of “Western democratic norms” by “establishing a dictatorship” at home.

There’s even more of a self-interested motive for why the US is doing all of this aside from crafting the conditions for its “Israeli” ally to acquire unparalleled energy – and resultantly, political – influence over the EU, and it’s that America also intends to turn the bloc into one of its main LNG markets in the future. Right now, the price of Russian and Azeri energy supplies is much more competitive than anything that the US can offer, but if Washington can succeed in engineering an atmosphere of distrust between the EU and Azerbaijan similar to what it’s already succeeded in doing between the EU and Russia, or even the EU and Turkey for that matter, then it can force Brussels to reorient itself away from Eastern-originating energy supplies and towards Western ones (bearing in mind that “Israel” is socio-politically conceived of as “Western”) like the much more expensive LNG that the US plans to export to its newly captive European market.

Without squeezing Azerbaijan out of the EU’s Southern Energy Corridor and replacing it with “Israel” through a reengineered route across the Eastern Mediterranean, the US and its newly elected businessman leader Donald Trump have no chance at making billions of dollars of profit from selling costly LNG to Europe, but in order to reach the point where this is even possible, it’s relying on weaponized “leaks” that are deliberately designed to pressure EU decision makers into backing away from their erstwhile partnership with Baku. The particular details of the accusations pale in comparison to the reason and timing behind their announcement, though they’re intentionally supposed to be so sensational that the general public overlooks their suspiciously coordinated release and focuses solely on what the US expects to be their predicted emotional reaction, which is to condemn Azerbaijan and subsequently fall into the trap of political chain reactions that Washington has set for them.

(Originally written for the Moscow-Baku.ru web portal)

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Infowar Attack Against Azerbaijan Is Because of Geopolitics, Energy, and “Israel”

Featured image: A chicken with a deformed bill appears unwell while living at a farm supplying Nando’s, Lidl and Asda. (c) Animal Equality International

Charity Animal Equality have said the farm that supplies chicken to Nandos, Lidl and Asda is not doing enough to secure the welfare of chickens, after footage filmed by undercover investigators has revealed cruel and dirty conditions.

Animal Equality a month ago published video including one clip showing a chicken lying on its back and exposing a purple, apparently swollen underbelly. The international animal advocacy charity claims the bird is unable to walk and is forced to sit in ammonia soaked litter, which causes burns.

The upsetting footage shows another chicken seemingly struggling to support its own body weight. Others sit close to the ground, lethargic and blinking or breathing slowly as if ill. The charity described birds being kicked, carried around flapping after their necks were snapped and dying on their backs unable to reach water.

Dr. Toni Shephard, UK Executive Director of the charity said:

“When Faccenda received our footage showing suffering and neglect on their farm, they said they would be investigating the farm and it would not be restocked with birds until they were satisfied that welfare standards had improved. But how can you assess welfare standards when the sheds are empty?

“Quite disappointingly, Faccenda gave the farm the all-clear just a week after our expose, conveniently timed for when the sheds were due to be re-stocked anyway. This leaves us questioning how rigorous the investigation was, particularly as there were no birds on the farm at the time.”

Dead chicks in bins

Cambria Farm in Taunton supplies Faccenda, the second-largest chicken supplier in the country, and houses over 150,000 chickens in four giant sheds.

Modern breeds of chicken are used because they gain weight very quickly. This leads the young birds to struggle to support an adult-sized body on small legs and puts their hearts under huge pressure.

The film shows farmers dumping buckets full of dead chicks in bins and wheelbarrows. One clip seems to show a chick dumped on the pile of bodies still breathing. Workers were also filmed picking up chickens and throwing them into crates.

Dr. Shephard, said:

“The birds were just a few days old when we first filmed, yet already hundreds of chicks were dying every day and the bins outside the giant sheds were full of tiny bodies, still with their yellow baby feathers.

Appropriate action

“Just a couple of weeks later, the skips were fuller still and many of the birds were suffering from painful lameness. By our last visit, the sheds were so crowded it was difficult to walk through them.”

Animal Equality has passed the evidence on to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (AHPA) for further investigation. An APHA spokesperson said “appropriate action is taken” where welfare regulations are breached, but were unable to comment on individual cases.

The charity says this footage shows clear breaches of the government’s welfare code which states that injured or sick birds should be “immediately be removed to a hospital pen and treated or humanely killed”.

Defra’s welfare code also states no animal must be transported in a way that may cause injury or unnecessary suffering to the animal. The undercover footage shows workers at the farm carrying birds by one leg and violently catching and crating the birds.

An independent vet

A spokesperson for Faccenda told The Ecologist the company is taking the complaints “seriously” and have had multiple vets visit the site to investigate the allegations, but have now decided to recommence activities on the farm.

They said this will occur with, “additional monitoring and ongoing support from our vet to ensure adherence to standards and practices.”

Paul Vaughan-France, owner of the farm, had told The Times:

“I will take the images as good feedback and will do everything I can to work on every aspect of my husbandry. I have had an independent vet on site to review my practices and he is satisfied with his findings.”

A spokesperson for Nandos said:

“The farm in question is being thoroughly investigated by both parties and we have been assured that it will meet Red Tractor standards before it will be allowed to supply chicken again. We intend to remain close to the situation to ensure that happens.”

A spokesperson for Asda said the company “take animal welfare very seriously” and have “strict processes in place to ensure all of the farms that supply Asda meet our own high standards and are Red Tractor approved.” They said:

“We have addressed this matter with our supplier who have conducted a full investigation following these allegations.”

A Lidl spokesperson said:

“Lidl UK takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously and were in close communication with the supplier on this matter, whilst their investigations carried out.

“We have a code of conduct in place with all of our suppliers, with agreed expectations regarding responsible business practices, which may be audited by an independent third party at any point.”

Frances Rankin is a multimedia journalist based in London. She also contributes to DeSmog UK and can be found on Twitter at @FranRankin

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Nandos, Lidl and Asda Chickens Come Home to Roost After Animal Advocacy Group Goes Undercover

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

“Fair Harvard” lacks fairness. VERITAS (truth), the university’s motto, lacks meaning. Harvard opposes what deserves high praise, supports what demands condemnation.

My alma mater’s actions are disgraceful, earlier including me on a university fake news site list – along with some of the most highly respected web sites I know, bastions of truth-telling on vital world and national issues, a notion anathema to “fair Harvard,” the university’s alma mater.

Inviting the head of the CIA, a global Mafia hit squad boss, to speak on campus endorses its criminal activities – subversion, orchestrating coups and color revolutions, assassinating foreign leaders, and torture its specialties, terrorizing targeted nations, violating international, constitutional and US statute laws with impunity.

Freedom and the CIA’s existence are incompatible – at home and abroad.

In response to director Mike Pompeo’s heavy-handed pressure, canceling his scheduled address at Harvard’s Kennedy School, calling Manning’s offer speak on campus as a visiting fellow a “shameful stamp of approval,” unfair Harvard rescinded her title, cancelling her appearance, Dean Douglas Elmendorf disgracefully saying:

“I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility.”

“In general across the School, we do not view the title of ‘fellow’ as conveying a special honor. Rather, it is a way to describe some people who spend more than a few hours at the school.”

“(W)e are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a visiting fellow – and the perceived honor that it implies to some people – while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the school’s forum.”

In response, Manning tweeted

“honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting @harvard fellow ? they chill marginalized voices under @cia pressure ???”

“This is what a military/police/intel state looks like…the CIA determines what is and is not taught at Harvard.”

“(N)o more secrecy, surveillance, torture, murder, and genocide…abolish the @cia…”

On Wednesday, the Kennedy School announced Manning’s invitation to speak on campus as a visiting fellow.

In a letter to Harvard, Pompeo disgracefully called her an “American traitor,” adding

“I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.”

At the same time, former agency deputy director Mike Morell resigned from his fellowship at Harvard’s Belfer school over Manning’s invitation” – in a letter saying:

“I cannot be part of an organization – the Kennedy school – that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”

Manning deserves high praise for acting courageously. Instead, she was tortured and imprisoned. She’s one of the nation’s best – a real American hero, having taken great personal risks to reveal vital truths everyone has a right to know.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark once said US “jails are filled with saints,” some of America’s best ruthlessly treated.

ACLU lawyer/transgender rights activist Chase Strangio issued a strong statement saying:

“It doesn’t surprise me that an institution that has produced many of our most dangerous war criminals & architects of our military & prison apparatuses would remain beholden to the state.”

“Yet, the decision to withdraw Chelsea Manning’s visiting fellowship in the middle of the night without coherent explanation is disgraceful even for Harvard.”

“Chelsea is a beacon of humor, brilliance and resilience in a time when her words and leadership are needed more than ever.”

“Harvard should have felt honored that she would accept the association with an institution so tainted with the blood of its victims – from the occupation of much of Boston and Cambridge to the production of monsters in positions of governmental (and corporate) power.”

“That they are willing to stand by their decision is a testament to the disturbing control the CIA has over them.”

“It is also just cowardly plain & simple & a reminder to all of us to stay vigilant…& depend only on the power of our collective action to lift up the voices of our true leaders.”

Manning was tortured, imprisoned and otherwise abused for courageously doing the right thing – released last May, her unjust sentence commuted by Obama, who never should have permitted her arrest, torture, travesty trial and imprisonment in the first place.

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.

Featured image is from harvard.edu.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Harvard Disgracefully Rescinds Fellowship Offered Chelsea Manning

The NYT’s Yellow Journalism on Russia

September 16th, 2017 by Robert Parry

Reading The New York Times these days is like getting a daily dose of the “Two Minutes Hate” as envisioned in George Orwell’s 1984, except applied to America’s new/old enemy Russia. Even routine international behavior, such as Russia using fictitious names for potential adversaries during a military drill, is transformed into something weird and evil.

In the snide and alarmist style that the Times now always applies to Russia, reporter Andrew Higgins wrote – referring to a fictitious war-game “enemy” –

“The country does not exist, so it has neither an army nor any real citizens, though it has acquired a feisty following of would-be patriots online. Starting on Thursday, however, the fictional state, Veishnoriya, a distillation of the Kremlin’s darkest fears about the West, becomes the target of the combined military might of Russia and its ally Belarus.”

This snarky front-page story in Thursday’s print editions also played into the Times’ larger narrative about Russia as a disseminator of “fake news.” You see the Russkies are even inventing “fictional” enemies to bully. Hah-hah-hah! The article was entitled, “Russia’s War Games With Fake Enemies Cause Real Alarm.”

Of course, the U.S. and its allies also conduct war games against fictitious enemies, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the Times. For instance, U.S. war games in 2015 substituted five made-up states – Ariana, Atropia, Donovia, Gorgas and Limaria – for nations near the Caucasus mountains along the borders of Russia and Iran.

In earlier war games, the U.S. used both fictitious names and colors in place of actual countries. For instance, in 1981, the Reagan administration conducted “Ocean Venture” with that war-game scenario focused on a group of islands called “Amber and the Amberdines,” obvious stand-ins for Grenada and the Grenadines, with “Orange” used to represent Cuba.

In those cases, the maneuvers by the powerful U.S. military were clearly intended to intimidate far weaker countries. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media did not treat those war rehearsals for what they were, implicit aggression, but rather mocked protests from the obvious targets as paranoia since we all know the U.S. would never violate international law and invade some weak country! (As it turned out, Ocean Venture ’81 was a dress rehearsal for the actual U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983.)

Yet, as far as the Times and its many imitators in the major media are concerned, there’s one standard for “us” and another for Russia and other countries that “we” don’t like.

Yellow Journalism

But the Times’ behavior over the past several years suggests something even more sinister than biased reporting. The “newspaper of record” has slid into yellow journalism, the practice of two earlier New York newspapers – William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World – that in the 1890s manipulated facts about the crisis in Cuba to push the United States into war with Spain, a conflict that many historians say marked the beginning of America’s global empire.

Illustration by Chesley Bonestell of nuclear bombs detonating over New York City, entitled “Hiroshima U.S.A.” Colliers, Aug. 5, 1950.

Except in today’s instance, The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America’s Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you’ll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that.

At this stage, the Times doesn’t even try for a cosmetic appearance of objective journalism. Look at how the Times has twisted the history of the Ukraine crisis, treating it simply as a case of “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.” The Times routinely ignores what actually happened in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 when the U.S. government aided and abetted a violent coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych after he had been demonized in the Western media.

Even as neo-Nazi and ultranationalist protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at police, Yanukovych signaled a willingness to compromise and ordered his police to avoid worsening violence. But compromise wasn’t good enough for U.S. neocons – such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland; Sen. John McCain; and National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman. They had invested too much in moving Ukraine away from Russia.

Nuland put the U.S. spending at $5 billion and was caught discussing with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who should be in the new government and how to “glue” or “midwife this thing”; McCain appeared on stage urging on far-right militants; and Gershman was overseeing scores of NED projects inside Ukraine, which he had deemed the “biggest prize” and an important step in achieving an even bigger regime change in Russia, or as he put it: “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. … Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The Putsch

So, on Feb. 20, 2014, instead of seeking peace, a sniper firing from a building controlled by anti-Yanukovych forces killed both police and protesters, touching off a day of carnage. Immediately, the Western media blamed Yanukovych.

Shaken by the violence, Yanukovych again tried to pacify matters by reaching a compromise — guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland — to relinquish some of his powers and move up an election so he could be voted out of office peacefully. He also pulled back the police.

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

At that juncture, the neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists spearheaded a violent putsch on Feb. 22, 2014, forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Ignoring the agreement guaranteed by the three European nations, Nuland and the U.S. State Department quickly deemed the coup regime “legitimate.”

However, ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, which represented Yanukovych’s electoral base, resisted the coup and turned to Russia for protection. Contrary to the Times’ narrative, there was no “Russian invasion” of Crimea because Russian troops were already there as part of an agreement for its Sevastopol naval base. That’s why you’ve never seen photos of Russian troops crashing across Ukraine’s borders in tanks or splashing ashore in Crimea with an amphibious landing or descending by parachute. They were already inside Crimea.

The Crimean autonomous government also voted to undertake a referendum on whether to leave the failed Ukrainian state and to rejoin Russia, which had governed Crimea since the Eighteenth Century. In that referendum, Crimean citizens voted by some 96 percent to exit Ukraine and seek reunion with Russia, a democratic and voluntary process that the Times always calls “annexation.”

The Times and much of the U.S. mainstream media refuses even to acknowledge that there is another side to the Ukraine story. Anyone who mentions this reality is deemed a “Kremlin stooge” in much the same way that people who questioned the mainstream certainty about Iraq’s WMD in 2002-03 were called “Saddam apologists.”

But what is particularly remarkable about the endless Russia-bashing is that – because it started under President Obama – it sucked in many American liberals and even some progressives. That process grew even worse when the contempt for Russia merged with the Left’s revulsion over Donald Trump’s election.

Many liberals came to view the dubious claims of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election as the golden ticket to remove Trump from the White House. So, amid that frenzy, all standards of proof were jettisoned to make Russia-gate the new Watergate.

The Times, The Washington Post and pretty much the entire U.S. news media joined the “resistance” to Trump’s presidency and embraced the neocon “regime change” goal for Putin’s Russia. Very few people care about the enormous risks that this “strategy” entails.

For one, even if the U.S. government were to succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia sufficiently to force out President Putin, the neocon dream of another malleable Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin is far less likely than the emergence of an extreme Russian nationalist who might be ready to push the nuclear button rather than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia.

The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn’t seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism.

The Times and rest of the mainstream media are just having too much fun hating Russia and Putin to worry about the possible extermination of life on planet Earth.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The NYT’s Yellow Journalism on Russia

Fed up with the “staggering” number of leaks from an uncommonly fractured White House, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has issued a sweeping new call for government-wide training to prevent unauthorized disclosure of both classified and some unclassified information – disclosure, he declared, that “causes harm to our Nation and shakes the confidence of the American people.” With Trump’s White House marked by impressively persistent leaks at every level, McMaster upped the ante by aiming at leakers not just within intelligence agencies but in every department. Requesting “Provision of Training on Unauthorized Disclosures,” he argued,

“It will be time well spent to shine a spotlight on the importance of this issue, and engage the workforce in conversation about what it means to be a steward of United States Government information.”

With his call, McMaster is continuing a months-long, to-date-fruitless effort to stop the deluge of leaks. In August, Jeff Sessions condemned leaks “undermining the ability of our government to protect this country,” announced a new FBI unit to squash them, said the Justice Department has tripled its leak investigations from the days of Obama – who was blasted for his pursuit of same – and, in an Orwellian twist, proposed lie detector tests for government employees.

leaks_boat_1060x600-c0ce168793c1d76b5555

McMaster’s email, sent to over 50 heads of government agencies, sought one-hour, organization-wide trainings next week to discuss “the importance of protecting classified and controlled unclassified information, and measures to prevent and detect unauthorized disclosures”; suggested “training materials” include the 15-minute C-SPAN video of Sessions complaining about leaks, and a Fox News video of an interview with the National Counterintelligence and Security Center director. McMaster’s email was marked “UNCLASSIFIED/FOUO (For Official Use Only).

We know, because in a move gleefully emblematic of a gang that can’t shoot, leak or evidently do anything else straight, some mutinous, indefatigable rogue staffer promptly leaked the memo to Buzzfeed, which ran with it. They wrote a straightforward story about the “broad new anti-leak program,” only taking a sliver of a moment to note, “We got the memo.” They offered no other information on their source – thus, all things being relative these days, inspiring “the confidence of the American people.”

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on National Security Head Issues Bold New Anti-Leak Plan, Which Quickly Leaks

The origins of the group are closely connected to Le Cercle, a right-wing organisation whose activities include political subversion – and the clandestine arrangement of business transactions, especially arms deals and fraud. (Read Meet Le Cercle – Making Bilderberg Look Like Amateurs).

Its original founder was Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, member of the House of Lords and the 7th Marquess of Salisbury and member of a number of Eurosceptic and Neoconservative connected organisations such as Open Europe.

European chair of Le Cercle, Julian Amery, was a member and later patron of The Conservative Monday Club. John Biggs-Davison, another Cercle member, was also an active member.

Founded in 1961, in the belief that the Macmillan government had taken the party too far to the left, the club became embroiled in the decolonisation and immigration debate for which it is most famous for. By highlighting the controversial issue of race, which dominated its image ever since, at its height in 1971 the club had 35 MPs, six of them ministers, and 35 peers, with membership (including branches) totalling about 10,000.

In 1982, the constitution of the Monday Club was re-written, with more emphasis on support for the Conservative Party, but subsequent in-fighting over the club’s ‘hard right’ agenda led to many resignations.

In 2001, the Conservatives formally severed relations with the club due to its continued extreme right-wing views.

Originally, it believed that the principles needing to be reasserted included the preservation of the constitution and existing institutions, the freedom of the individual, the private ownership of property, and the need for Britain to play a leading part in world affairs. It disliked what it regarded as the expediency, cynicism and materialism which motivated Harold Macmillan‘s government.

In addition it was concerned that during this period “the left wing of the Party had gained a predominant influence over policy” and that as a result the Conservative Party had shifted to the left, so that “the floating voter could not detect, as he/she should, major differences between it and the Socialists” and, furthermore, “loyal Conservatives had become disillusioned and dispirited.”

The group brought together supporters of White Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa; the main impetus for the group’s formation was the Conservatives’ new decolonisation policies. The club opposed what it described as the “premature” independence of Kenya, and the breakup of the Central African Federation, which was the subject of its first major public meeting in September 1961

The club is notable for having promoted a policy of voluntary, or assisted, repatriation for non-white immigrants.

In 1969 the Monday Club launched a “Powell For Premier” campaign to make anti-immigration MP Enoch Powell Tory leader. However, despite complaints that it was trying to set up a separate organisation or even establish a separate party, it remained powerful on the right wing of the Conservative Party.

Oxford political scholar Roger Griffin referred to the club as practising an anti-socialist and elitist form of conservatism. In the 1970 Conservative Party election victory, six MPs who were club members were given government positions.

In September 1972, the club held a “Halt Immigration Now!” public meeting in Westminster Central Hall, opposite Parliament, at which the speakers, Ronald Bell, QC, MP, John Biggs-Davison, MP, Harold Soref, MP, and John Heydon Stokes, MP, (all club members) called on the government to halt all immigration, repeal the Race Relations Act (1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act), and start a full repatriation scheme. A resolution was drafted, approved by the meeting, and delivered to the Prime Minister, Edward Heath, who replied that

“the government had no intention of repealing the Race Relations Act”.

The playwright David Edgar described the Monday Club in an academic essay as “proselytising the ancient and venerable conservative traditions of paternalism, imperialism and racism.”

In the early 1970s it faced entryism from the National Front and other extremist organisations, while remaining the mainstream face of anti-immigration sentiment. In the 1970s and 1980s it campaigned heavily against immigration from the “New Commonwealth” (i.e. the non-white bits of the former British Empire) and protested the new wave of legislation protecting black immigrants from discrimination.

Its 1982 policy document called for the abolition of the Commission for Racial Equality, repeal of all race relations laws, an end to immigration from non-white commonwealth countries.

Various scandals has dogged the Monday Club over the years, such as Harvey Procter who had taken part in sexual relationships with males aged between 17 and 21, in his London flat. The age of consent for same-sex sexual relationships was still 21 in 1986. 

During the period that Margaret Thatcher led the Conservative Party, the Monday Club were prolific publishers of booklets, pamphlets, policy papers, an occasional newspaper, Right Ahead, and a magazine Monday World .

The club was anti-communist and had an active Defence Committee chaired for over 15 years by Sir Patrick Wall, MP, MC, and produced much literature on the perceived threat posed by Soviets and communists everywhere.

When it appeared that communism was failing in the Eastern Bloc, the club’s Foreign Affairs Committee called upon Members of Parliament to be ready and to argue for the German borders to be restored to the position they stood at on 1 January 1938, saying there must be no gains for communism.

The club continued its support for white minority rule in South Africa, and were actively against the release of Nelson Mandela. Right-wing MP Teddy Taylor even advocated the shooting of the Mandela.

By 1989 the club adopted a firm anti-European Union (EU) position.

After its 2001 General Election defeat, the Conservative Party made efforts to appear less of a racist, anti-gay, anti-poor, “Nasty Party”, and moved in a more centrist direction. Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith and chairman David Davis took steps to break the Monday Club’s links with the Conservative party.

John Bercow, now speaker of the House of Commons, formerly secretary of the Immigration and Repatriation Committee of the Monday Club, was a supporter of Enoch Powell. Despite being Jewish himself, Bercow was accused of racism by the Essex University Jewish Society in the 1980s over his links to the Monday Club and other far-right groups.

Derek Laud, a British lobbyist, businessman, political adviser, speechwriter, and journalist had known Bercow well over a 20 year period and although being former member himself eventually described it as an ‘absurdly nasty fringe group of lunatics’.

Watching John in action could sometimes be stomach-turning. He was on the ‘edge’ and, with fellow ‘Thatcherite guerrillas’ Marc-Henri Glendening, Doug Smith and Mark MacGregor, made speeches about supporting the UNITA movement in Angola, in tune with the American Right-wing, despite the fact it had plunged that country into civil war.

Tory big beasts Norman Tebbit, Peter Bottomly, Neil Hamilton and Alan Clark were all members as were many others. Former prime minister Alec Douglas Home and Enoch Powell were supportive or spoke at its events.

From 2001, a number of notable Tory MP’s were ordered to resign from the Monday Club as the Conservative party wanted to make it more attractive to people from ethnic minorities.

In 2013 The Telegraph ran a story about Jacob Rees-Mogg attending a dinner hosted by a man who advocates the repatriation of “non-indigenous” Britons, despite being warned of the group’s far-Right links.

Mr Rees-Mogg was told by anti-racism campaigners that the Traditional Britain Group, a discussion group for “disillusioned patriots”, has links to the far-Right. But he was assured the claims were “smears”, and attended as guest of honour at the group’s annual black tie dinner at London’s East India Club. The group is run by Gregory Lauder-Frost, a former leading light of the Conservative Monday Club and a well-known figure within the British far-Right. He previously ran the Western Goals Institute, which had links to European neo-fascist parties.

He calls for the “assisted repatriation” of ethnic minority people whose families have moved to Britain since the Second World War, as advocated in the 1970 Conservative Party manifesto. He singled out Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence”. Lauder-Frost, 62, told the Daily Telegraph: “I feel this woman has done the British nation no favours whatsoever. If these people don’t like us and want to keep attacking us they should go back to their natural homelands.”

The group describes Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, as “a Nigerian” and calls for the repeal of race relations laws. Its president is Lord Sudely, a former president of the Monday Club, who has praised Hitler. Previous after-dinner speakers include Frank Ellis, the university lecturer who was suspended for claiming black people have lower IQs than white people.”

In 2015, the aforementioned Derek Laud, who was also Baroness Thatcher’s ex speech-writer and David Cameron’s friend branded the party ‘ultimate racists’ for its 2013 anti immigration campaign saying further that – “They like keeping black people in one place – or in their place.

The Monday Club website states on its home page

We are the home of those members and supporters of the Conservative and Unionist Parties who represent traditional conservative values.” 

Their values include policing with a zero-tolerance stance, including even minor crime such as shop-lifting, are strongly anti-European and immigration and continue to demand the Human Rights Act to be scrapped.

Since its inception dozens Conservative MP’s and members of the House of Lords have been active members of the Monday Club.

As the Conservative party has moved politically further to the right in recent years, there are rumours that the Monday Club has hopes to fully re-establish links with the Conservatives severed by Iain Duncan Smith and David Davis.

Featured image is Monday Club Booklet 1971 – Standing Room Only, The Population Problem in Britain.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Meet the Conservative Monday Club – Racist Roots and Extremism

Trump & Netanyahu Families Now Determine All Our Future Lives

September 16th, 2017 by Anthony Bellchambers

The United States of America is the world’s greatest super-state with the largest economy/global GDP; the most powerful military machine in history backed by the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in existence.

It’s ‘sidekick’ in the Middle East is the state of Israel. The American principal and its Israeli satellite, work in concert to control both the global economy and international politics through their combined position in the United Nations and through the economic and political power of the US Congress.  All this is done publicly with no attempt to hide this extraordinary blatant, bilateral US-Israeli agenda. 

That agenda is to overtly increase its economic and political power to the exclusion and at the expense of the rest of the world i.e. the other 191 member states of the United Nations General Assembly. This is no secret pact but a stated aim of the US President.

‘America First’ means just that, including of course its creature state, Israel, which was established in 1948 solely, at that time, thanks to the pressure exerted by the American Zionist Committee, now better known as AIPAC.

It has always been a matter of conjecture as to whether, in essence, America exploits Israel or vice-versa. Both mutually benefit enormously by their undue influence over world affairs, and have done so for the past half century under successive American presidents.

However, it is only now in 2017 that international affairs, in general, are in the hands of not only these two heads of state but also that of their families i.e. wives, children, sons in law and various other unelected family intimates. Currently, certain individuals within this bilateral family grouping are being officially investigated for corruption, bribery and/or fraud. This does not, however, appear to have had any impact upon their global political activities.

The question is: when did Democracy, Justice, Equality and the Rule of Law, all die?

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Trump & Netanyahu Families Now Determine All Our Future Lives

According to the Wall Street Journal, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California spoke by phone on September 13th with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, aiming to transmit to President Trump, from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, a trade of ‘proof’ of Russian non-involvement in the transmission to the public of internal Democratic Party information during the 2016 Presidential contest with Hillary Clinton, in return for the U.S. Government’s stopping its efforts to prosecute Mr. Assange. Assange wanted finally to become freed from his years-long virtual house-arrest inside Ecuador’s London Embassy, by the United States Government efforts to force him to be tried in U.S. courts. So, he wants to offer this trade in which Assange would provide to the White House physical ‘proof’ that Russia had nothing to do with the Democratic Party leaks from (or what Russia’s enemies call ‘hacks’ into) Democratic Party computers, which produced the revelations which Hillary Clinton says cost her the 2016 election.

According to the WSJ report, General Kelly refused to inform President Trump of the offer.

The news-report was published on Friday night, September 15th, in the Wall Street Journal, and headlined “GOP Congressman Sought Trump Deal on WikiLeaks, Russia: California’s Dana Rohrabacher asks for pardon of Julian Assange in return for evidence Russia wasn’t source of hacked emails”. It said:

“Mr. Kelly didn’t make the president aware of Mr. Rohrabacher’s message, and Mr. Trump doesn’t know the details of the proposed deal.”

However, the news-report didn’t make clear whether Mr. Trump is even aware that Congressman Rohrabacher had attempted to communicate to the President the offer that Mr. Assange was wanting to communicate. Perhaps if Mr. Trump reads the Wall Street Journal, he’ll learn that Mr. Assange had wanted to offer this deal.

According to the WSJ’s report, Congressman Rohrabacher was apparently so desperate to communicate Mr. Assange’s offer to the President, that Rohrabacher even asked Kelly if Rohrabacher would be allowed to communicate the offer to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, an anti-Russia hardliner, for transmission through Pompeo, to the President. Apparently, Mr. Kelly stovepipes to the President only information that Kelly wants the President to know, but Trump can, on his own, learn of other information if he sees or hears it in the newsmedia.

The WSJ’s report also noted the background of the alleged Assange offer:

Mr. Rohrabacher, who has long been a pro-Russia voice in Congress, traveled to London in August to meet with Mr. Assange, who has been living in Ecuador’s embassy since 2012 to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault. Mr. Rohrabacher’s travel wasn’t paid for by the U.S. House of Representatives and wasn’t an official government trip, aides said.

The Swedish investigation into Mr. Assange ended in May, but he remains in the embassy to avoid arrest and extradition by the U.S.

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Julian Assange Offers U.S. Government Proof Russia Wasn’t Source of Democratic Party Leaks, Says WSJ

Syria’s Victory in Deir Ezzor

September 16th, 2017 by Hugo Turner

The Syrian Arab Army have achieved yet another dramatic victory this time lifting the ISIS siege of the heroic city of Deir Ezzor. For years Deir Ezzor has been surrounded by enemies and under siege first by the FSA and Al Nusra and then by ISIS. They have withstood repeated attacks by the US-NATO air force most infamously last fall when the Americans bombed Deir Ezzor right after agreeing to a ceasefire, a treacherous move that paved the way for a nearly successful ISIS offensive to capture the city. The brave defenders of Deir Ezzor withstood these endless attacks becoming a symbol of the heroic resistance of all of Syria. For years Syrians and their friends around the world have dreamed that one day this siege would be lifted. Our dreams have finally come true and faster then anyone could have imagined.

The liberation of Deir Ezzor from ISIS siege is the culmination of months of dramatic SAA victories against ISIS. Now we dream that a final victory may be near in Syria. Once again the SAA and their allies Hezbollah, Russia, and Iran have stunned the world. The empire of Chaos is in a panic. Netanyahu of Israel is hysterical with rage attempting to spoil the victory in Deir Ezzor with yet another of it’s illegal and cowardly air strikes on Syria. The whole strategic balance of the world is changing before our eyes. And it is all due to the enormous courage of the Syrian people who have withstood this dirty war launched by seemingly half the world on their country. Syria has resisted the US, Israel, the British, the Saudis, Qatar, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, France, Germany, and the rest of the GCC/NATO lackeys that make up the the Axis of Chaos. They have resisted armies of fanatical, brutal, killers recruited across the middle east, Africa, Europe, and Central Asia. They have defeated a CIA trained horde of torturers, rapists, slavers, cannibals, and of course killers. Has any country in history battled against the odds Syria has faced? Is the victory in Deir Ezzor the most glorious in human history? 

Only a few short months ago it was unclear whether Deir Ezzor would survive long enough for the SAA to lift the siege. ISIS launched offensive after offensive and with the help of the earlier  US air strikes ISIS even managed to cut the city in half last January. Then even more desperate offensives followed and ISIS made some dangerous strategic gains. ISIS always began every offensive with their trademark suicide truck bomb attacks. However the SAA managed to crush these ISIS offensives turning the town into the graveyard of ISIS. The SAA were under the command of the legendary Major General Issam Zahreddine who has lead the defense of the city since July of 2014. Every day for over 1000 days the SAA, Hezbollah and the local national defense forces were on the front lines defending the cities’ 100,000 residents from ISIS. The civilians were equally heroic in withstanding years of siege especially the defiant women of Deir Ezzor who braved kidnappers,  snipers and rocket attacks to find food for their families. Their husbands were often dead or fighting on the front lines and it was the stubborn bravery of the women of Deir Ezzor that allowed the city to survive the siege. The people of Deir Ezzor withstood untold suffering their electricity was cut off, food was scarce, medicine hard to find. Thanks to the treacherous attack of the US air force ISIS was able to seize the towns clean water supply and the town was forced to drink polluted river water to survive. Rockets, artillery,  mortars and sniper fire terrorized them like so many Syrians who have survived these terrorist sieges. They lived in constant fear that ISIS might capture the city. Despite all this they remained defiant determined to resist to the end. I’ll never forget the sight of hundreds of Syrian mothers, and grandmothers armed with Ak-47s and warning ISIS they would fight to the death to defend their families. Thankfully due to bravery of the SAA and their allies it never came to that and against all the odds the city resisted every attempt to capture it. In the end they were defending the city with only 2 tanks and artillery that were long past their life expectancy after being fired so many times without replacement.

The victory at Deir Ezzor is the culmination of months of SAA offensives that have liberated thousands of square kilometers in the past few months. To the North expanding on the victory in Aleppo the SAA steadily advanced east towards and then past Raqqa. To the south of them was a huge swath of Syrian territory occupied by ISIS separating them from the SAA territory extending into Palmyra. In a stunning series of victories the SAA managed to cut this ISIS pocket off from it’s supply lines divide it in two and completely encircle them liberating a huge amount of territory and opening the way for the final push towards Deir Ezzor. Those who followed the amazing victories of the NAF during the war in Ukraine could not help but recognize the brilliant behind the scenes role Russian Spetsnaz advisers played in the recent SAA victories. ISIS is still desperately resisting it’s inevitable defeat but it is clear that the SAA, Hezbollah and Russia have dealt it a decisive defeat in Syria. These victories owed much to Syria’s elite Tiger Forces who also played a decisive role in both the victory in Aleppo and the end of the siege of Deir Ezzor. In a war where battles have raged for weeks over a tiny village or even a single building the SAA have managed to liberate thousands of miles in recent weeks. Once again the SAA have accomplished the impossible.

It is no wonder Syria’s enemies are acting even crazier then usual. The US has sent it’s SDF Kurdish mercenaries to try to block further SAA advances. The Kurds would be wise to break out of their servitude to the empire soon before the Americans provoke some terrifying disaster.   At the same time the US is trying to embroil the Kurds with a war with the SAA rumor has it the US has already made plans to abandon them to their fate. In the week before the siege on Deir Ezzor was broken the US sent it’s helicopters in to evacuate certain key ISIS commanders exposing yet again that ISIS is merely a tool of the CIA and it’s allied intelligence agencies. In revenge Russia bombed ISIS with a thermobaric bomb and has been showing off it’s cruise missiles in devastating attacks on ISIS which are also a warning to the US and it’s SDF pawns.  The US responded to the liberation of Deir Ezzor by bombing a nearby refugee camp killing Syrian children in a criminal and cowardly attack. The US is also in an ever intensifying panic over Russia although it seemed impossible for the anti-Russian Hysteria to grow even crazier. They are locked in a diplomatic war with Russia expelling each others diplomats and installing more harsh sanctions on Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. They are targeting RT and Sputnik. It has gotten so out of control that USA Today foolishly attacked my blog for exposing the fascist coup in Ukraine. It was part of the latest Russian propaganda Hysteria backed by the CIA/BND Front the German Marshall Fund and it’s Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Hamilton 68 Project which spies on 600 pro-Russian twitter accounts or as they call them “Kremlin controlled bots and trolls.” Basically anyone who opposes fascist Ukraine or the schemes to have Al Qaeda and ISIS destroy Syria is now being labeled a Russian propagandist regardless of whether they are Americans, Canadians or western europeans and are accused of destroying democracy by informing the public. This arrogant NATO think tank believes the only way “to secure democracy” is to destroy free speech. Luckily they are far too late to prevent the world from realizing the criminal nature of American Foreign Policy which brings destruction, misery, poverty, and war to the entire planet.

Syria’s other enemies are also in a panic. Netanyahu of Israel made himself into a global laughingstock when he traveled to Russia to beg Putin to stop the SAA advances which he insanely believed was Iranian expansionism. Putin told him Iran was a Russian ally and they say Netanyahu flew into a rage and threatened to bomb Assad’s presidential palace. He had to content himself with yet another illegal Israeli bombing. Still Israel remains dangerous and unpredictable and is in a panic over the fact that Hezbollah has only grown stronger during the war on Syria. Hezbollah achieved a major victory in the Qalamoun mountains finally cleaning out a nest of ISIS terrorists who were forced to evacuate in busses to their ever shrinking territory in Eastern Syria. The Saudis are feuding with the Qataris while they continue their US-UK-NATO backed genocidal war on Yemen. Meanwhile the whole world is wondering wether mad emperor Trump will embroil the world in a nuclear war over North Korea. I predict that the whole thing is just an embarrassing bluff another humiliation for the Empire of Chaos. Still the US is on the attack everywhere in the world. It’s latest coup plot in Venezuela has met a humiliating defeat the fascist opposition discredited themselves with their reign of terror and Venezuela has voted to further advance the Bolivarian Socialist Revolution.

Meanwhile in Syria they are celebrating and rebuilding, Syrian’s forced to flee as refugees are now returning home now that the NATO death squads have been driven out of so much of the country. Where two years ago there was a gloomy determination now Syrians are again dreaming of the bright future ahead when they have rebuilt their country. The liberation of Deir Ezzor was celebrated across Syria especially in Deir Ezzor itself. Now that the SAA have broken the siege food and medical supplies can finally enter the town and children can now go to school without fear of being shot by snipers. Everywhere in Syria people are dreaming of a final victory and the return of peace. Unfortunately the war is far from over but Syria has become an inspiration to the world a symbol of heroism and resistance. In the face of all the Axis of Chaos could throw at them the armies of terrorists, NATO bombers, the US marines, the CIA plots, the billions in weapons, the sanctions and the propaganda war Syria refused to surrender. A lesson to everyone resisting the empire of chaos remember Syria and never stop fighting.

Sources

ANNA news Documentary on life in Deir Ezzor under ISIS Siege

https://youtu.be/KewY8HETxhY

ANNA News Documentary on Lifting the ISIS Siege of Deir Ezzor

https://youtu.be/OoRPvHVQASQ

The latest from Deir Ezzor as SAA continue their offensive

https://southfront.org/syrian-army-captures-important-areas-around-deir-ezzor-continues-advance-in-eastern-hama/

Sharmine Narwani on Israel’s Panic over SAA victory

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/israels-geopolitical-gut-check

Dr. Shaaban: On the Syrian Victory

https://syria360.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/the-defeat-of-their-project-and-the-victory-of-ours/

Flashback to the my article on the treacherous US bombing of Deir Ezzor

http://anti-imperialist-u.blogspot.com/2016/09/bombing-at-deir-ezzor.html

  • Posted in English, Mobile
  • Comments Off on Syria’s Victory in Deir Ezzor

Featured image: Russian and Armenian presidents after talks in Moscow, March 2017

While there are a host of differences between the two states, the one that Russia is beginning to care the most about nowadays is how Armenia is standing in the way of Moscow’s Great Power engagement with the “Ummah” while Azerbaijan is doing everything it can to facilitate it.  

Analyzing Armenian-Azerbaijani relations is a lot like talking about those between India & Pakistan and “Israel” & Palestine, in that they’re extraordinarily complex, deeply rooted in history, and involve very passionate arguments about land, religion, and geopolitics, among many other factors. There’s no “easy way” to address them without risking the ire of one or the other side, though there’s also no avoiding that such seemingly intractable conflicts exist as a fact in today’s world. That being said, it’s worthwhile to discuss how a Great Power such as Russia understands its developing role in the emerging Multipolar World Order vis-à-vis these disputes, and the most pertinent one to look at is over Nagorno-Karabakh, seeing as how Moscow was a direct – if albeit unofficial – participant in it and is also a party to the OSCE Minsk Group which aims to bring about a resolution to this long-standing problem.

Caucasus in 1994 map

A Geopolitical Thaw

In fact, it’s actually the last point which is the most important to dwell on for the moment, since it had long been assumed by outside observers – whether rightly or wrongly – that Moscow had an interest in indefinitely “freezing” the conflict, but that’s no longer the case. The old and debunked argument goes that Russia, due to the Orthodox Christian roots that it shares with its fellow Armenian co-confessionals, was always tacitly on Yerevan’s side and will forever remain that way no matter what, which is what many Armenians had assumed. Passively allowing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to remain “frozen” was supposedly a signal from Russia that it approved of Armenia’s position on the issue, which implied that Moscow didn’t believe that disputed territory should ever return to Baku’s control. That may have been the case for the past two decades, but in recent years Russia’s attitude has remarkably changed as it began a pronounced rapprochement with Azerbaijan.

“Military Diplomacy”

To be clear, relations between the two were never completely in the doldrums like some have presented them as, since Russia has consistently remained Azerbaijan’s military partner. It’s actually this part of their bilateral relationship which upsets Armenians the most, since they have difficulty understanding the “military diplomacy” that Russia’s been applying towards this pair of rivals and others. To summarily explain what the author wrote in his Sputnik piece last year about how “Army Expo 2016 Showcases Russia’s Success at Military Diplomacy”, Russia sells weapons to both sides of a conflict in order to maintain the strategic parity between them, believing that this prevents one side or the other from obtaining a decisive advantage that would consequently encourage them to restart hostilities, such as what the US regularly hopes that its military partners will be able to do one day in upsetting the regional balance of power in Eurasia.

“The 19th-Century Great Power Chessboard”

Russia’s employment of military diplomacy is a complementary part of its envisioned 21st-century geostrategic role in the emerging Multipolar World Order, which is to ultimately become the supreme balancing force in the Eurasian supercontinent. To that end, it also adheres to the paradigm of the “19th-Century Great Power Chessboard”, whereby Russia prioritizes its relations with similarly sized Great Powers at the perceived (key word) expense of its smaller- and medium-sized ones such as Serbia, Syria, or in this case Armenia, in order to advance the “greater good” of multipolarity. This guiding concept plays a major influence on the decision-making mindset of Russia’s “progressive” foreign policy faction, as explained by the author in his recent piece about how “Russia’s Foreign Policy Progressives Have Trumped The Traditionalists” in making sense of Moscow’s foreign policy pivots to the Ummah.

Keeping Out Of The Karabakh Conflict

Partially due to these abovementioned factors, Russia refused to militarily get involved during the brief flare-up between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in spring 2016. The author discussed this in extensive detail in his analysis at the time titled “Armenian-Azeri Tensions Just Got Alarming: Here’s Why It’s Happening”, but the overriding reasons were twofold; the first is that its Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) mutual defense obligations only apply to internationally recognized Armenian territory, which doesn’t include Nagorno-Karabakh because not even Yerevan officially recognizes its self-proclaimed “independence” and desire to unite with Armenia; and the second is that Moscow wasn’t really sure who started the latest round of violence and was very wary about getting tricked into sparking a larger region-wide conflagration that would only work out to the US’ grand strategic interests.

Walking With Caution In The Caucasus

To expand on this last detail about Russia’s lingering suspicions, it’s worthwhile to read what the author wrote last year about a potential Nagorno-Karabakh Continuation War and the “Armenian Dagger” in his work about “Greater Eurasia Scenarios In The Mideast”. Basically, Russia fears that hyper-nationalist Color Revolutionaries might overthrow the “moderate” government and spark another war with Azerbaijan, all with the intent of dragging Russia into a chain reaction of regional conflicts through its CSTO mutual defense obligations to Armenia. Even in the event that there’s no pro-American regime change in the country, the Western diaspora-backed “grassroots” pressure on the authorities could be sufficient enough to move them in that direction anyhow. This may have even been responsible for the spring 2016 flare-up that interestingly followed the heavy Color Revolution unrest the preceding summer, which led the author to conclude at the time that “’Electric Yerevan’ Is Sliding Out Of Control”.

Baku As The Eurasian Bridge

Just a few days after the “Four Day War” in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Iranian and Azerbaijani counterparts in Baku and announced that all three sides had agreed to integrate their transport infrastructure in creating the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC), which is planned to eventually connect India with the EU by means of their three countries. Baku’s newfound role as the indispensable civilizational bridge connecting European, Russian, Iranian/Persian, and Indian civilizations harmoniously corresponds to the multipolar tenets of peaceful integration and win-win cooperation between countries. While it may have looked to some outside observers as though Russia was “pivoting” towards Azerbaijan, nothing of the sort happened because this was merely just another tweak in Moscow’s Eurasian balancing act, especially in working to achieve an equilibrium in its already excellent relations with Yerevan and its burgeoning ones with Baku.

North-South Transport Corridor map

Russia’s Armenian Ally

To expand on the previous, President Putin recently lauded the fantastic state of bilateral relations between Russia and Armenia, remarking that “Moscow and Yerevan have been effectively cooperating within the integration processes taking place in Eurasia, coordinating their activities to ensure regional security and stability.” This is certainly true on all accounts because of Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAU) and the CSTO, as well as the Russian base in Gyumri and the two countries’ joint air defense system. On the surface of things, relations are proceeding just fine and there’s nothing to be worried about, but peek behind the curtain just a little bit and it becomes apparent that some Armenians are furious at Russia’s outreaches to Azerbaijan, believing that this constitutes a “betrayal” of their national interests and could even threaten their preferred status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Abandonment And Betrayal

Many Armenians believe that Russia’s refusal to overstep its CSTO mutual defense obligations and launch a coordinated full-scale offensive against Azerbaijan in 2016 was an unforgiveable disappointment, and they think that Moscow’s continued “military diplomacy” with Baku in the months afterwards and its new trilateral initiative to turn Azerbaijan into a Eurasian Bridge between civilizations are “anti-Armenian” to the core. Believing that Russia was the first to “abandon” and then “betray” it, Armenia ironically took the actual first step in doing this against Russia by making headway in reaching an EU “Association Agreement” and deciding to participate in a multilateral NATO exercises this year, though curiously pulling out of a second planned one right before it began for what can only be speculated was heavy Russian pressure.

The author wrote about this in two separate pieces lately titled “Armenia Abandoning Russia: Consequences For The Caucasus” and “Are Armenia, India, And Serbia “Balancing” Against Russia Or “Betraying” It?” which analyze this issue more in depth, but the main point is that Armenia is abrogating its institutional obligations to Russia via the EAU and CSTO through its surprising outreaches to the EU and NATO. To be fair, though, Armenia doesn’t see this as an “abandonment” or “betrayal” but rather a “balancing act” in response to its disappointment with Russia’s improved relations with Azerbaijan. Herein, however, lays the irreconcilable strategic divergence between Russia and Armenia.

Unfreeze In Order To Federalize

Unlike whatever Russia may have thought in the past, the full-spectrum paradigm shifts unfolding all across the world as a result of International Relations entering into the tumultuous transitional phase from unipolarity to multipolarity have given Moscow the impetus to unfreeze the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in order to settle it once and for all, thereby preventing this festering problem from being abused by the US and its allies to disrupt Eurasian integration processes. Although no official plan has been publicly presented, at least not as of yet, it’s very likely that Russia’s envisioned conflict resolution strategy is to see the progressive reintegration of Nagorno-Karabakh into the Azerbaijani state that it’s unanimously recognized by all UN members as being a part of, following in the footsteps of what Moscow has suggested for Donbas vis-à-vis Ukraine.

One can argue about the wisdom and merits of reintegrating Donbas into post-coup Ukraine, but it can safely be assumed that if Russia would promote this approach when it comes to its own ethnic compatriots in Eastern Ukraine, that it more than likely wouldn’t think twice about doing the same to Armenians in Western Azerbaijan.

There is some theoretical (key word) basis to this approach, however, in that Russia believes that federalized solutions could empower the reintegrated minority group with extra – and in some cases, depending on the constitutional processes involved, even disproportional – political influence over the rest of the larger state. This doesn’t necessarily make them “Trojan Horses” of a foreign power, but could be seen as an added incentive for their breakaway authorities to peacefully return to the national governments that they’re universally recognized as being a part of. It could end up being that foreign peacekeepers might have to play a role in some capacity during the initial reintegration transition, but that’s a point that could be discussed if the general proposal itself proceeds far enough along the line to be taken seriously by all parties.

As it relates to Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan is definitely in favor of a peaceful solution to the long-running conflict and has expressed flexibility in the past about how this could play out, while Armenia is dead-set against any change to the status quo which would endanger its ethnic compatriots’ full control over the disputed territory.

“Obstructionists” vs. “Integrationalists”

Accordingly, it’s accurate to speak of Armenia as being an “obstructionist” in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan as an “integrationalist”, which are very important differentiating concepts to bear in mind considering the positive predisposition that Russia’s progressivist leading foreign policy faction has towards integration, particularly with the Ummah. In fact, the obstructionist and integrationalist labels can also be applied more broadly as it relates to these two states’ roles in either hindering or helping Russia’s unprecedented rapprochements with Turkey and Iran.

Armenia is prone to relying on the divisive “Clash of Civilizations” narrative to imply that its fellow Orthodox co-confessionalists in Russia are obligated to support it out of “Christian solidarity” against Muslims. Some Armenian voices even assert that their country is the only thing standing in the way of what they fear monger as the supposedly anti-Russian strategy of “Pan-Turkism” which they say poses an existential threat to Slavs. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, doesn’t have to resort to guilt-tripping Russia and scaring it in order to advance its interests, as these overlap with Russia’s own and aren’t unnatural to Moscow like what Yerevan wants it to do.

For example, Azerbaijan is poised to become a convergence point between Russian (Slavic), Azerbaijani (Turkic), Iranian (Persian), and Indian (majority-Hindu) civilizations through the NSTC, so there’s more of a win-win integrational reason for Moscow to conform to Baku’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh than to adhere to Yerevan’s obstructionist one which would – whether intentionally or inadvertently – perpetuate unnecessary divisions and distrust in the Russian-Turkish-Iranian geopolitical crossroads of the Caucasus. Accepting that the foreign policy progressives are in power and that they’re calling the shots on the “19th-Century Great Power Chessboard”, then it increasingly becomes apparent that Russia would prefer for Armenia to seek a peaceful compromise on Nagorno-Karabakh in order to promote the “greater good” of multipolarity.

The unresolved  Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, perpetuated to this day by Armenia’s obstinate  position despite Yerevan’s ironic refusal to “recognize” the self-proclaimed “independence” of its own proxy statelet, dangerously obstructs the multipolar process of Eurasian integration by serving as a ticking unipolar-influenced time bomb positioned smack dab in the heart of the Great Power Tripartite of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, threatening to go off in the future on America’s command as the ultimate “scorched earth” tactic to divide and rule the Caucasus.

Concluding Thoughts

The international situation has so profoundly changed since the commencement of the New Cold War in late-2013 that it’s difficult for some people to accept all that’s transpired since then, especially when it comes to the historic progress that Russia has made in its efforts to promote strategic partnerships with the Muslim countries of Turkey, Iran, and especially in this case Azerbaijan. As was explained in the analysis, Russia endeavors to become the supreme balancing force in 21st-century Eurasia, and to this end it sought to “wipe the slate clean” in its relations with its non-traditional partners in order to begin completely anew on a neutral and unbiased footing.

This win-win strategy is commonplace among multipolar states and isn’t directed against any other party, though some countries – especially those who are Russia’s “legacy” partners – adhere to the unipolar “zero-sum” paradigm in jealously believing that this is detrimental to their own national interests. Such is the case with Armenia, which cannot accept Russia’s newfound and sincere high-level strategic partnership with Azerbaijan, believing that the “military diplomacy” between them on a bilateral level and their much broader multilateral cooperation on the NSTC are “anti-Armenian” and explain why Moscow “abandoned” and “betrayed” Yerevan during the spring 2016 flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In response to these subjective perceptions, Armenia is clumsily moving towards its own objective real-life “abandonment” and “betrayal” of Russia as it attempts to “balance” between its traditional Moscow ally and the West, irresponsibly flirting with the EU and NATO in capacities which draw into question its legal and tacit commitments to the EAU and CSTO. All of this is being done because Armenia is unwaveringly opposed to changing the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh and the former majority-Azerbaijani-populated but now-cleansed regions surrounding it that are presently occupied by its ethnic compatriots, which makes Yerevan the main obstacle to peacefully resolving this conflict.

The progressive foreign policy faction in charge of Russia’s grand strategy is eager to put an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict once and for all, fearing that this festering geopolitical wound could dangerously damage Moscow’s rebalancing act in Eurasia, especially as regards the Ummah and Russia’s two-closest Muslim Great Power neighbors of Turkey and Iran. Therefore, Russia has begun to slowly but surely make its intentions known to resolve this issue in line with international law, which in all cases favors Azerbaijan because not a single country in the world – Armenia included – recognizes the self-declared “independence” of the disputed territory and its ethnically cleansed environs.

Going forward, Russia’s relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan will continue to be determined by their respective attitudes towards peacefully reintegrating the occupied territories into the rest of the country that they’re unanimously recognized by all UN member states as being a part of, as well as allowing for the consequent return of all internally displaced people to their hometowns. Given that Armenia is adamantly against both of these principles, Russia will have no choice but to perceive of it as being an obstructionist player, especially in terms of impeding multipolar Great Power integration processes in Eurasia, whereas its Azerbaijani rival will be positively assessed as facilitating these game-changing continental dynamics.

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Russia’s New Thinking Towards Armenia and Azerbaijan: An “Obstructionist” vs. an “Integrationalist”

Tyler Shipley will be presenting on his book Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras on Wednesday October 11 at 7:00pm at the Hinton Auditorium, 3rd floor of the Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge St.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

Just as America’s exceptionalist myth is one of bringing ‘peace and democracy’ to the world, Canadians typically expect their foreign policy to be geared around trying to act in the interests of peoples in the countries with whom their governments engage.

As reported on several episodes of this radio series, Canadian foreign policy has been directed more by the mandates of the nation’s capitalist class than by the will of the people who supposedly provide direction for their policy-makers.

Honduras provides a stunning case-study of an imperialist Canada paving internationalist terrain for mining companies, sweat shops, hydro-electric projects and other enterprises behind a veneer of benevolence.

In June of 2009, masked soldiers apprehended elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya at his presidential palace. While still in his pyjamas and bare feet, the Head of State was escorted to Soto Cano air base before being moved to Costa Rica. The Honduran military then went on to cut off water, electricity and communications from several major cities. This was on the occasion of a referendum vote to be held that day, geared toward reforms benefiting large sectors of the Honduran working class. [1]

Hondurans have since had to confront a climate of impunity around violence directed at environmental, Indigenous, and human rights defenders, the March 3, 2016 murder in her home of Bertha Caceres being a case in point. [2][3]

Far from expressing outrage of this subversion of democracy, Canada helped provide diplomatic cover for it. Further, multiple Canadian companies, including the notorious Montreal-based firm Gildan, directly profited from the subversion of the will of the Honduran people.

A young Canadian college professor named Tyler Shipley has devoted years to detailing the history of Honduras, the progress of social movements in recent decades, the conditions that have prevailed

since the coup, and the involvement of Canadian government and business interests throughout. The results of his labours have been chronicled in the newly published volume Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras.

In an interview recorded in the summer during his tour stop in Winnipeg, Professor Shipley addresses questions of the strategic importance of Honduras for imperialist powers, the progress of social movements cut short by the 2009 coup, Canada’s precise role in enabling the coup, and the interests that have benefited. Shipley also details some of the conditions besetting the population, including Bertha Caceres, whom he interviewed several times between 2009 and 2016.

Tyler Shipley is professor of culture, society, and commerce at the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. He is also an associate fellow with the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC). His latest book is available from the publisher Between the Lines.

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. Tyler Shipley (2017), ‘Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras’ pg.34,-35, Between the Lines
  2. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/berta-caceres-and-the-open-wounds-of-honduras/
  3. Tyler Shipley (2017), pg. 161-162

Government of India Starts Drowning Narmada Valley to Celebrate Modi’s Birthday!

September 16th, 2017 by National Alliance of People’s Movements

Badwani, Madhya Pradesh | September 15, 2017: In an unprecedented turn of event, Madhya Pradesh Government coercive measures resulting drowning of more than 40000 families living in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam. Since yesterday, water level is continuously rising and now reached to 128.50 meters drowning Rajghat, Nisarpur and other villages. Water level is continuously rising after release of large amount of water from unfilled dams just to celebrate the Narmada Mahotsav on Modi’s birthday. This is nothing but a shameless show of personal obsession by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and disastrous submission by Shivraj Singh Chouhan to the dirty politics supported by Gujarat and Maharashtra Government. Water being released from other dams to fill the Sardar Sarovar, resulting drowning of thousands of families, Houses, bridges, Cattles, trees and large tracts of forest and prime agricultural land.

A large number of affected families haven’t received the house plots and compensation entitled to them, thousands of applications remain unheard before the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA), leaving no options to the families but to protest on streets.

In Gujarat, the Narmada Canals is also not complete and only able to construct nearly 30% of the total length of Canal network, which exposes the claims of Government to bring water to Kutch and other districts of Gujarat. This is nothing but a politics of giving false hope to people of Gujarat to win elections at the cost of life of lakhs of people of Narmada Valley.

This cannot be more shameless act by the elected Government of any democratic country. WE APPEAL TO THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY TO STAND WITH PEOPLE OF NARMADA VALLEY AND CALL OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES and ask them to immediately stop filling Sardar Sarovar dam till the rehabilitation is complete as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA), state policy and many court judgments. Please call to the following contact numbers, email them and held them accountable for safeguarding the constitutional right of life and livelihood.

Important Contact Details of Authorities and Officials who can avert the tragedy are mentioned below:

Sriman Shukla (Dhar Collector/Magistrate) – +91 7292234702 (Office), +91 7292234701 (Res.)

Tejaswi S Naik (Barwani Collector) – +91 7290224001 (Office), +91 7290224002 (Res)

Ashok Kumar Verma (Collector, Khargone) – +91 7282223263 (Office), +91 7282232364 (Res)

Ganesh Shankar Mishra (Collector, Alirajpur) – +91 7394234400 (Office), +91 7394234500 (Res)


President of India

Shri Ramnath Kovind – [email protected] – +91 11 23015321 ( Off.), +91 11 23017290, 23017824 (Fax)

Tweet @rashtrapatibhvn

Secretary to President

Sanjay Kothari – [email protected] – +91 11 23013324, +91 11 23014930
Write to Prime Minister of India

Click on the link and register your grievance

http://pgportal.gov.in/pmocitizen/Grievancepmo.aspx

Tweet @narendramodi

Tweet @PMOIndia

Principal Secretary to Prime Minister
Sh. Nripendra Misra – 011 – 23013040

Addl. Principal Secretary to Prime Minister
Dr. P. K. Mishra – 011 – 23014844

Ministry of Water Resources
Shri Nitni Gadkari – [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] – +91 11 23714200,23714663 ( Off.)
+91 11 23710804 (Fax)
Twitter @nitin_gadkari

Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Minister of State (Independent Charge) Shri Dr. Harsh Vardhan – [email protected], +91 11 24695136, 24695132 (Off.), +91 11 24695329 (Fax)
Tweet @drharshvardhan
Hardik Shah, PS to Minister – [email protected]

Ministry of Law and Justice
Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad – [email protected], +91 11 23387557, 23386615 (Off.), +91 11 23384241 (Fax)
Tweet @rsprasad

Ministry of Rural Development
Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar – [email protected], +91 11 23782373, 23782327 (Off.), +91 11 23385876 (Fax)
Tweet @nstomar

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
Minister Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot – [email protected], +91 11 23381001, 23381390 (Off.), +91 11 23381902 (Fax)
Minister of State Shri Krishan Pal – +91 11 23072192, 23072193 (Off.), +91 11 23072194 (Fax)
Minister of State Shri Ramdas Bandu Athawale – [email protected], +91 11 23381656, 23381657 (Off.), +91 11 23381669 (Fax)

Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Minister Shri Jual Oram – [email protected], +91 11 23388482, 23381499 (Off.), +91 11 23070577 (Fax)
Tweet @jualoram

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister
Shivraj Singh Chauhan – [email protected] – Office Phone : +91 755 2441581, +91 755 2441033, Office Fax : +91 755 2441781,
Tweet @ChouhanShivraj

Gujarat Chief Minister
Shri Vijaybhai R. Rupani – Office Phone : +91 79 23232611
+91 79 23232619, Office Fax : +91 79 23222101
Tweet @vijayrupanibjp

Maharashtra Chief Minister
Shri Devendra Fadnavis – [email protected] – Office Phone : +91 22 22025222, +91 22 22025151, Office Fax : +91 22 22029214,
Tweet @Dev_Fadnavis
National Human Rights Council of India

Send Complaints to National Human Rights Council of India at [email protected]

Secretary General / Chief Executive Officer of the Commission – [email protected]

Director General (Investigation) – [email protected]
National Commission for Women in India – [email protected]

Complaint Cell – [email protected]
National Commission for Scheduled Castes

Prof. Dr. Rameshankar Katheria (Chairman) – +91 – 24620435, +91 – 24606802

Shri L. Murugan, Vice Chairman – +91 – 24654105, +91 – 24606828
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

Shri Nand Kumar Sai, Chairperson – [email protected]

Mr. Vinod Kumar Nagvanshi, APS to Chairperson – [email protected]

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Government of India Starts Drowning Narmada Valley to Celebrate Modi’s Birthday!

There is now a discernible pattern to US manipulation of the UN Security Council when it wants UN endorsement for US-NATO acts of aggression. It is a formula which led to the destruction of Iraq and Libya, and in 1950-1953 led to the destruction of North Korea and most of South Korea. This deadly trajectory is once again becoming visible, and the code is revealed in the three words: “all necessary measures,” which are deciphered to mean US-NATO aggressive war.

This formula begins with sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter: approximately eleven sanctions have been inflicted upon North Korea, and four presidential statements. The sanctions are, in themselves aggressive action, intended to weaken and demoralize the intended nation-targeted victim, and ultimately destroy the will, the spirit and unity of the nation. The now twelve sanctions on the DPRK are reminiscent of the words Richard Nixon used for the CIA engineered destruction of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile:

“Make the economy scream!!”

The goal of these resolutions is the total destruction of the targeted victim-nation, in the present case, the independent socialist government of North Korea. Because the bar is continually raised, and it is impossible to comply with these imperialistic sanctions without betraying and destroying the core values of the nation being targeted, eventually the US compels the Security Council to announce that more “robust” (violent) measures are required, the end resulting in military attack upon the targeted nation.

Each sanction is a humiliation, an act of psychological violence and an assault on the dignity of the people of the targeted country. The sanctions are intended to cause such misery among the people of the nation targeted that havoc will result, culminating in regime change. If the victim has the strength to resist, more overt aggression will be used.

On September 8, 2017 the U.S. draft resolution revealed their ultimate intent: demanding the power to board North Korean ships, and use “all necessary measures” (military force) to coerce compliance to inspect their cargo. Although this demand was deleted from the sanctions resolution 2375 adopted on September 11, such coercion, if it had remained in the resolution finally agreed upon, would have the violation of the sovereignty of the DPRK, and would have constituted a form of rape of North Korea. Resistance by Russia and China resulted in the abandonment of that particular form of violation of the DPRK, but the cumulative force of the resolutions, now numbering 12, are strangling the economy and people of North Korea, and the US-NATO trajectory seems intent upon some form of military aggression, with or without UN Security Council approval.

In the September 18 issue of “The New Yorker,” author Evan Osnos quotes his North Korean guide, Pak, saying:

“If the US puts sanctions and sanctions and sanctions and sanctions, they drive us to the edge of the cliff, we will attack. That’s how the world wars have started. Don’t push us too hard because you’re going to start a war. And we should say, we’re not going to die alone.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg

On September 9, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said:

“North Korea is a global threat and requires a global response; and that, of course, also includes NATO.”

UK’s Defense Minister Michael Fallon supported NATO’s position.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s crude insinuation that “North Korea is begging for war” so grossly distorts the truth that the DPRK referred to her as a “political prostitute,” and the US Ambassador’s reference to the Chinese-Russian proposal of “suspension for suspension” as “insulting,” is a shocking repudiation of the only viable step toward beginning negotiated reduction of tension, leading to a peaceful resolution of this crisis. The US Ambassador’s absurd comment reveals her deliberate falsification of the realities involved and her reversal of cause and effect is a form of paranoia. North Korea needs nuclear defenses to protect itself from violent aggression by the South-Korean-US axis.

Article 2 of the China/DPRK Mutual Assistance Treaty obligates China to defend North Korea if the US attacks. If the DPRK attacks first, China will not assist. While the DPRK will not initiate attack, ever, it is being subjected to intolerable provocations, set-ups and false-flag operations which may make it impossible to avoid counter-actions in defense.

The US Ambassador, many of the Security Council members, willingly or unwillingly and many others elsewhere are, it seems, deliberately refusing to respect, nor take responsibility for the horrifying massacre of 3-4 million North Koreans between 1950-1953, and ignore fact that the ongoing menace of South Korean and US military threats are inflicting an unendurable state of terror upon North Koreans, to which they must respond in the only way that will either ensure their survival or raise the cost of an attack against them to a point that the US-NATO-Japan- ROK axis are reluctant or unwilling to pay.

It is therefore alarming evidence of a stealthy plan to attack and overwhelm the DPRK in every conceivable way, that yesterday’s New York Times announced South Korea’s plan to “Decapitate” the North Korean leadership. …”The measures have raised questions about whether South Korea and the United States, its most important ally, are laying the groundwork to kill or incapacitate Mr. Kim and his top aides before they can even order an attack.” This again recalls the Nixon-Kissinger-CIA Chilean coup scenario, when “make the economy scream” was not sufficient to incite a popular uprising to overthrow the government of Socialist President Allende, and the honorable Chilean top military leadership refused to enact a coup d’etat, which would have violated the constitution. Thereupon, the Nixon-Kissinger-CIA axis arranged the assassination of Chile’s loyal top military leaders, beginning with General Rene Schneider, who was kidnapped and murdered for refusing to stage a coup, and his loyal second in command, General Carlos Prats was cruelly degraded and forced out of Chile. Eventually the CIA found a compliant officer, and a pawn, Pinochet.

The leadership of the DPRK has sought meetings with the US leadership for decades. The North Koreans never refused negotiations. The US refused all such meetings, perhaps assuming they could impose US will by force, in any case. South Korean “Decapitation Units” directly contradict US Secretary of State Tillerson’s assurance that the US “does not seek regime change, nor regime collapse.” The new South Korean “Decapitation Unit,” the “Spartan 3000, will be mandated to conduct ‘cross-border raids with retooled helicopters and transport planes that penetrate North Korea at night.” This is a situation absolutely identical to the South Korean provocations that led to the 1950-1953 Korean war.

During the September 11 Security Council meeting at which the new sanctions resolution was adopted, Chinese Ambassador Liu stated:

“We hope the US will incorporate the following four ‘don’ts into its relevant policies regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: don’t seek regime change, don’t incite a collapse of the regime, don’t seek an accelerated reunification effort of the peninsula, and don’t send its military north of the thirty-eighth parallel.”

Russian Ambassador Nebenzia stated: “The measures involving financial and economic pressure on the leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had basically been exhausted and any further restrictions would be tantamount to attempts to suffocate its economy, including the placing of a total embargo on the country and provoking a deep humanitarian crisis. In other words, what we are talking about here is not just cutting off the channels that allow for banned nuclear and missile activities, but, rather, inflicting unacceptable damage on innocent civilians……Furthermore, the authors’ unwillingness to include in the resolution the idea of using the good offices and mediation potential of the Secretary-General, as well as the refusal to reaffirm the statement made by the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Tillerson, on the ‘Four Nos’—that there are no plans to start a war, effect regime change, force the reunification of the two Koreas or violate the 38th parallel—all give rise to very serious questions in our minds to which we have not yet received answers.

The UN Secretary General is adamantly opposed to a military solution, and equally adamant that only a negotiated solution is permissible. However, the US opposes his utilizing his “good offices” to peacefully resolve the crisis.

While it is impossible to predict the outcome, when taken together, the US actions seem to indicate their intent to attack the DPRK, overtly or covertly, or through proxies, though the risks are catastrophic. Only the dangerous possibility of China’s involvement could deter this intent. North Korea is now being crushed economically and subjected to intolerable provocations. Although the “status quo” may appear to be in the interest of all parties, recalcitrant and irrational aggressive forces are being unleashed within US-NATO, with or without UN authorization. If US-NATO military power is permitted to obliterate North Korea, their resultant intoxication with military force, combined with their economic weakness makes it inevitable that China and Russia are their next quarry. It is imperative that Russia and China take this seriously, as they surely do. The time is long overdue for Russia and China to use their veto power. Their appeasement of US/NATO interests is short-sighted and enabling a war of possibly incalculable proportions. It is preferable to live with a nuclear armed North Korea than to die in a nuclear holocaust. Indeed, even the venerable Susan Rice factored in this option.

Former President Jimmy Carter (Source: The Carter Center / Facebook)

And it is time for US-NATO to heed the words of former President Jimmy Carter:

“The North Koreans emphasized that they wanted peaceful relations with the United States and their neighbors, but were convinced that we planned a preemptive military strike against their country. They want a peace treaty, especially with America to replace the ceasefire agreement that had existed since the end of the Korean war in 1953, and to end the economic sanctions that had been very damaging to them during that long interim period. A commitment to peace by the United States and North Korea is crucial.”

Yesterday the North Korean Foreign Ministry stated that the UN Security Council resolutions are an “infringement on its legitimate right to self-defense, and aim at completely suffocating its state and people through full-scale economic blockade.” These United Nations Resolutions are deliberate provocations, actually inflaming and exacerbating this crisis. And it is possible that the authors of the September 11 Resolution anticipated and actually intended this outcome. War is profitable. It should be no surprise that today North Korea launched another missile, demonstrating its capacity. And today the UN Security Council is holding another “emergency” meeting. One can only hope that Russia and China will take a stand against any continuation of this vicious spiral.

Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y.

  • Posted in English, Mobile
  • Comments Off on UN Security Council Resolution 2375 on North Korea: Preparation for War?

The CIA Wins: Harvard, Chelsea Manning and Visiting Fellowships

September 16th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It all began with an announcement, made public on the website of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Chelsea Manning would be joining a curious array of Visiting Fellows, including Mr Disaster, Robby Mook, and Sean Bumbling Spicer. (Manning, Spicer and Mook has a curious ring to it, the name, perhaps, of an error-prone debt recovery agency.)

Mook will have something to tell members of the Kennedy School, being credited with directing one of the worst electoral campaigns in US electoral history. His fanatical insistence on statistical determinations had its own role to play in sinking Hillary Clinton, the person who hired him to get elected.

Spicer hardly needs an introduction, handed the task of being the first press secretary of the Trump administration. (Remember, he explained, Hitler did not use chemical weapons.) In a world supposedly hostile to facts, he wore his crown proudly and comically, before taking leave.

Where, then, would the ire come against this rogues gallery of appointments? There was potentially room for everyone to have a crack. Within hours, it became a shooting gallery with one ultimate target: Chelsea Manning.

Apart from the usual blood lusting, chest-beating patriots who adore that fiction known as a country, Manning’s appointment was bound to generate a few frowns. But what should have been mere creases became full blown furrows, with the Central Intelligence Agency taking the noisy lead.

Coercive blackmail on the decision makers was first exerted by a former employee of that less than principled organisation. Michael Morell’s letter to Douglas Elmendorf, dean of the Kennedy School, was hectoring, irate.[1] It did not even matter that his own fellowship appointment (because former CIA employees are worth it) was in the Belfer Center, where he would not necessarily be sharing beverages with the crew at the Institute of Politics.

The former deputy and acting director of the CIA insisted that the very fact of leaking classified information – never mind of what nature – was a reprehensible, disqualifying act. It was “my right, indeed my duty, to argue that the School’s decision is wholly inappropriate and to protest it by resigning from the Kennedy School – in order to make the fundamental point that leaking classified information is disgraceful and damaging to our nation.” (How are nations ever damaged in that way has never been satisfactorily demonstrated by the actuaries in the security establishment.)

Current CIA director Mike Pompeo also lobbed a bomb of indignation at Harvard’s Rolf Mowatt-Larssen after cancelling a scheduled appearance at the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum. The rationale was predictable from a person who pretends to see the world in clearly minted, binary terms, where the warriors of light will vanquish those of the dark. By attending the event, he would be sending a large announcement of betrayal to the former, while giving an incentive to the latter.[2]

Pompeo’s reasoning pans Manning as a felon “found guilty of 17 serious crimes for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.” He then reiterates a sentiment trumpeted from the start of his tenure:

“WikiLeaks is an enemy of the United States akin to a hostile foreign intelligence service.”

It is worth nothing that, for all the efforts made by the prosecution in the Manning case, the charge of supplying classified information to a foreign enemy failed to convince Judge Denise Lind. To have taken that step would have been tantamount to drawing a wide net over the fourth estate, the security state’s ultimate vengeance.

Who, then, should be Fellows, visiting or otherwise? Bill Delahunt, acting director of the IOP, was clear:

“We welcome the breath of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and media.”[3]

Such enlightenment, such maturity.

It was not a point shared by Pompeo:

“Harvard’s actions implicitly tell its students that you too can be a fellow at Harvard and a felon under United States law.”

This position is hard to entertain in any credible, intellectual sense, especially coming from the director of an organisation trained in the dark arts of destabilisation, interrogation and extra-judicial killings.

Morell, of course, was singled out by Pompeo as the exemplar of public service.

“You have traded a respected individual who served his country with dignity for one who served it with disgrace and who violated the warrior ethos she promoted to uphold when she voluntarily chose to join the United States Army.”

Contradiction be damned.

The upshot of this was a whimpering victory for the CIA, a crude one won by the invocations of bullying. The Kennedy School duly rescinded Manning’s title, and did so in the most mealy-mouthed of ways.

“We invited Chelsea Manning,” came the statement from dean Elmendorf, “because the Kennedy School’s longstanding approach to visiting speakers is to invite some people who have significantly influenced events in the world even if they do not share our values and even if their actions or words are abhorrent to some members of our community.”[4]

Debate was not justification; discussion did not entail approval.

What Elmendorf then does, after patting the institutional back for intellectual tolerance, is to empty the term “Fellow” of any clear meaning. Don’t presume, we are told, that it has any distinguishing merit to it. A Visiting Fellow, he suggests, is merely a visitor.

“In general, across the School, we do not view the title of ‘Fellow’ as conveying a special honour; rather, it is a way to describe some people who spend more than a few hours at the School.”

Manning had only been invited, we are informed, to spend one day at the School, specifically to “meet with students and others who are interested in talking with her, and then to give remarks in the Forum where the audience would have ample opportunity – as with all of our speakers – to ask hard questions and challenge what she had said and done.”

The dean then moves into a mode of apology. “Visiting Fellow” could be construed, mistakenly, as “honorific”, a point that should have been considered. A weighing should have also taken place between educating the Kennedy School community and “the extent to which the person’s conduct fulfills the values of public service to which we aspire.” On this basis, inviting Manning “was wrong.” The term “Visiting Fellow” would duly be stripped from Manning, even though the invitation to still spend a day at the School and speak to the forum would stand.

This entire charming episode shows, regrettably, how spines go on sudden holiday in the academy when political forces knock at the door. Academics tend to be the first to fold when matters of courage are concerned, and often do so in graceless dissimulating prose. The Kennedy School of Government has not just been made safe for the CIA, but for academic hypocrisy.

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

Notes

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The CIA Wins: Harvard, Chelsea Manning and Visiting Fellowships

Last night, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces, the Syrian Republican Guard (SRG) and their allies fully secured the Baghiliyah area from ISIS northwest of Deir Ezzor city after capturing the missiles base, the Hajjanah regiment, the radio transmitter station, the al-Jazeera university, the Saiqa Camp and the arms depots around Baghiliyah.

Separately, government forces captured the Nishan oil field, the Nishan gas station and the water pumping station east of Thurdah mount number 3 fully securing the western flank of Deir Ezzor Airport.

Southeast of Deir Ezzor, the SAA captured the Dhamn base and al-Kurum hill and deployed in about 35km from al-Mayadeen city, one of the key ISIS strongholds in the Euphrates Valley.

The Russian Aerospace Forces and the Russian Navy supported the government advance.

Two submarines, the Velikiy Novgorod and Kolpino, have fired seven Kalibr cruise missiles on ISIS targets, including “control centers, communications hubs, the militants’ weapons and ammunition warehouses in the ISIS controlled areas in the south east of the city of Deir Ezzor,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

According to local sources, Russian warplanes conducted multiple airstrikes on ISIS units and fortifications in the same area.

On Friday, the SAA and the SRG further advanced in the direction of Ayyash northwest of Deir Ezzor and Abu Amr southeast of the city using a superiority in the firepower.

The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that ISIS fighters destroyed two vehicles of the SAA east of al-Taim oil field southwest of Deir Ezzor city.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured Al-Husseiniyeh town capturing the eastern bank of the Euphrates River north of Deir Ezzor city.

With this advance, the SDF and the SAA fully besieged ISIS units deployed along the Euphrates River between the southern Raqqa countryside and the northwestern Deir Ezzor countryside. Maadan, At Tibini and Al Karash are the key ISIS strong points in the area.

Pro-government sources believe that no less than 1,000 will-armed ISIS fighters are deployed in this part of the Euphrates Valley. A major part of them is on the government-held bank of the river. This will create additional problems if the SAA and its allies want to push towards the Iraqi border. The ISIS terrorists remaining in southern Raqqah will pose a threat to the rear of the government assault force.

Amaq claimed that 120 civilians including 100 children were killed in an airstrike by the US-led collation on a refugee camp near the village of Jadid A’akidat in east of Deir Ezzor. So far, the mainstream media has ignored these claims and the US-led coalition has not commented on the issue.

If you’re able, and if you like our content and approach, please support the project. Our work wouldn’t be possible without your help: PayPal: [email protected] or via: http://southfront.org/donate/ or via: https://www.patreon.com/southfront


Global Research announces the forthcoming release of  the print edition of Mark Taliano’s Book, “Voices from Syria”  which includes two additional chapters. 

Taliano talks and listens to the people of Syria. He reveals the courage and resilience of a Nation and its people in their day to day lives, after more than six years of US-NATO sponsored terrorism and three years of US “peacemaking” airstrikes.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Special Pre-Publication Offer

**Pre-Order Special Offer: Voices from Syria (Ships mid-September)

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 2 new chapters)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

Click to order

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Video: ISIS on Run in Deir Ezzor Countryside, Russian Cruise Missile Attacks against ISIS Control Centers

Selected Articles: Endless Hostility Against Russia

September 15th, 2017 by Global Research News

Global Research strives for peace, and we have but one mandate: to share timely, independent and vital information to readers across the globe. We act as a global platform to let the voices of dissent, protest, and expert witnesses and academics be heard and disseminated internationally.

We need to stand together to continuously question politics, false statements, and the suppression of independent thought.

Stronger together: your donations are crucial to independent, comprehensive news reporting in the ongoing battle against media disinformation. (click image above to donate)

*     *     *

Hostile US Actions Against RT and Sputnik News

By Stephen Lendman, September 15, 2017

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called US hostile actions against RT and Sputnik News an attempt to censor their operations, a cause for great concern. US and other foreign correspondents in Russia operate freely without interference.

The Russian Hacking Story Continues to Unravel

By Mike Whitney, September 15, 2017

Let’s start with the fact that there are at least two credible witnesses who claim to know who took the DNC emails and transferred them to WikiLeaks. We’re talking about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and WikiLeaks ally, Craig Murray. No one is in a better position to know who actually took the emails than Assange, and yet, Assange has repeatedly said that Russia was not the source. Check out this clip from the report.

Fake News, “Human Rights” and “Free Speech” in the USA: State-Sponsored Intimidation, or When FARA Goes Too Far

By Andrew Korybko, September 14, 2017

As could have been expected, the same forces pushing for Sputnik and RT to register as “foreign agents” under FARA aren’t interested in equally applying these expanded “standards” to other publicly financed international media outlets such as Al Jazeera and the BBC.

“The Guy Is Hiding Something”: Top Hillary Aide Suggests Bernie Sanders Also Colluded with Russia…

By Joshua Caplan, September 10, 2017

In the middle of Parkomenko’s thread, the Clinton aide insinuates something quite explosive — Bernie Sanders may have colluded with Russia in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Congress and Media Push for War Against Russia

By Eric Zuesse, September 10, 2017

Ever since the U.S. coup in February 2014 overthrew the democratically elected President of Ukraine and thus caused two regions of Ukraine (Crimea and Donbass, both of which had voted more than 75% for him) to break away from Ukraine, and Obama then slapped sanctions against Russia for supporting the two breakaway regions on its doorstep, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. (and allied foreign) ‘news’media have been trying to build up a case to overthrow Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, if not to force him to war with NATO.

US Sponsored Economic Warfare against Russia: Who’s Going to be the Ultimate Loser?

By Phil Butler, September 04, 2017

Full scale economic war in between America and Russia is underway. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said so, and the US administration and the American congress voted it in with new sanctions. The only question that remains is “who will win?” Here’s a look at the future of US-Russia relations and the ultimate loser in this new type of Cold War.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Selected Articles: Endless Hostility Against Russia

VIDEO : La Corea del Nord nel grande gioco nucleare

September 15th, 2017 by Manlio Dinucci

I riflettori politico-mediatici, focalizzati sui test nucleari e missilistici nord-coreani, lasciano in ombra il quadro generale in cui essi si inseriscono: quello di una crescente corsa agli armamenti che, mentre mantiene un arsenale nucleare in grado di cancellare la specie umana dalla faccia della Terra, punta su testate e vettori high tech sempre più sofisticati.(…)

  • Posted in Italiano
  • Comments Off on VIDEO : La Corea del Nord nel grande gioco nucleare

It is fascinating to watch some U.S. senators tripping over themselves as they attempt to defend their support for or opposition to proposed legislation that would make it a federal crime to support the international campaign to Boycott, Divest, or Sanction (BDS) Israel for its continued occupation of Palestinian lands. What ties these officials up in knots are their efforts to square the circle of their “love of Israel,” their opposition to BDS, their support for a “two-state solution,” and their commitment to free speech.   

The bill in question, S.720, was introduced on March 23, 2017 by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). S.720 opposes calls by the United Nations to boycott or “blacklist” companies that support Israeli activities in the territories occupied in the 1967 war. The bill further prohibits any U.S. person from supporting this U.N. call to boycott and establishes stiff fines and/or imprisonment for Americans who violate this prohibition.

There are a number of problems with the legislation. In the first place, supporters of S.720 grossly mischaracterize the intent of the U.N. approach as “anti-Israel.” In fact, as S.720, itself, acknowledges, the U.N. Human Rights Council specifically targets only businesses that engage in activities in “territories occupied [by Israel] since 1967.” The U.N. target is not Israel, but Israeli actions that serve to consolidate its hold over the occupied territories.

Then there is the concern that by making illegal either the act of boycotting Israel, or advocating for such a boycott, S.720 is criminalizing free speech and stifling legitimate peaceful protest.

Sen. Ben Cardin

Finally, the legislation continues to build on earlier congressional legislation using sleight-of-hand language in an attempt to erase the distinction in U.S. law between Israel and illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territories. While earlier legislation accomplished this by referring to “Israel and areas under Israel’s control,” S.720 notes that its boycott prohibition applies to “commercial relations…with citizens or residents of Israel, entities organized under the laws of Israel, or the Government of Israel.”

Since S.720 quickly gained 48 co-sponsors (35 Republicans and 13 Democrats) and has been supported by AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League, one might have expected it to sail effortlessly through the Congress and be put on the president’s desk for his signature. That, however, has not been the case, due to the efforts of many, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other progressive organizations led by MoveOn.

While the ACLU has based its opposition on the concern that the legislation violates the free speech rights of American citizens, MoveOn has taken a more expansive approach addressing both the concern with free speech and the fact that S.720 “erases the distinction in U.S. law between Israel and Israeli settlements.”

Given the capacity of both organizations to influence and organize liberal opinion, some Democratic senators have felt compelled to either justify their support for the bill or to distance themselves from it. In too many instances, these efforts have been awkward.

Two sponsors, Sens. Cardin and Ron Wyden (D-OR), have gone to great, but unconvincing, lengths to explain that S.720 does not violate an individual’s right to free speech. They argue that the bill is only directed at businesses or individuals who boycott Israel in response to international entities (like the U.N. or the European Union). But what they cannot explain is how punishing an American citizen who advocates for a U.N. boycott would not violate that citizen’s right to free speech.

Cardin, Wyden and other Democrats who support S.720 also go to great lengths to pledge their support for a “two-state solution.” But their pledges are hollow, since they fail to acknowledge that the provision of S.720 that protects Israel’s settlement enterprise (“entities organized under the laws of Israel”) makes realization of a “two-state solution” impossible—given the location, size and continued expansion of these illegal settlements.

Even those who have come out against S.720 have had some difficulty explaining themselves. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand​ (D-NY), for example, was one of the bill’s early endorsers. She courageously removed her name as a sponsor after learning of the free speech concerns of constitutional lawyers, saying

“I cannot support the bill in its current form if it can be interpreted as stifling or chilling free speech… So I took my name off the bill.”

Gillibrand, nevertheless, felt the need to balance her free speech concern with her support for Israel and her opposition to BDS, adding,

​”I cannot state this more clearly: I vehemently oppose the BDS movement.”

It’s this last point that requires closer examination. While Israel and its supporters make a brave show of shrugging off the threat of BDS, they clearly feel threatened—otherwise why the hyper-activity to punish BDS? S.720 isn’t the first such effort in the Congress, and nearly one-half of the 50 states have been pressed to pass their own versions of anti-BDS resolutions.

In order to build support for their effort, advocates for Israel have tried to portray BDS in the harshest of terms. They have made Israel the victim, while portraying advocates of BDS as “virulently anti-Semitic” aggressors. All of this has been done to obfuscate the reality that BDS is nothing more than a “strategic Palestinian-led form of nonviolent resistance to the occupation and denial of human rights.”

A Challenge to Act

After 50 years of occupation, Palestinians have taken it upon themselves to challenge the world community to act. They have had enough of seeing their homes demolished and lands confiscated to make way for Jewish-only roads and settlement colonies in their midst. They want an end to the daily humiliation of being a captive people denied basic freedoms and justice. Instead of submitting to the occupier, they have decided to boycott, and have urged those who support their human rights to join them in their call for an end to the occupation. Their action is as legitimate as was the call of African Americans in the Deep South in the ’50s, and that of Nelson Mandela in South Africa in the ’80s.

For the Senate to oppose or to punish those who support this Palestinian call to individuals, businesses and governments to boycott, divest, or sanction Israel for its oppressive occupation would put the Senate in the position of saying that: they support Israeli practices; they don’t want Palestinians to use nonviolent means to protest their treatment; and/or they simply don’t believe that Palestinians are equal humans who deserve to have their rights protected.

And so the messages we should send to senators are clear. To those who support S.720: “Shame on you.” To those who oppose S.720: “Thank you for your opposition, but think again about whether the problem is BDS or the occupation that gave birth to it.” And to all senators: “Stop hiding behind your hollow profession of support for ‘two states.’ If you are serious about peace, justice and equality, stop enabling the occupation that makes the realization of those goals impossible.”

James J. Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Senate Bill 720: Making It a Crime to Support Palestinian Human Rights

This September will be the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sabra-Shatila Massacre in West Beirut. Three thousand unarmed refugees were killed from 15-18 September 1982.

I was then a young orthopedic trainee who had resigned from St Thomas Hospital to join the Christian Aid Lebanon medical team to help those wounded by Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. That invasion, named “Peace for Galilee”, and launched on 6 June 1982, mercilessly bombarded Lebanon by air, sea, and land. Water, food, electricity, and medicines were blockaded. This resulted in untold wounded and deaths, with 100,000 made suddenly homeless.

I was summoned to the Palestine Red Crescent Society to take charge of the orthopedic department in Gaza Hospital in Sabra- Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, West Beirut. I met Palestinian refugees in their bombed out homes and learned how they became refugees in one of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Before this encounter, I had never heard of Palestinians.

They recounted stories of being driven out of their homes in Palestine in 1948, often fleeing massacres at gunpoint. They fled with whatever possessions they could carry and found themselves in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The United Nations put them in tents while the world promised they would return home soon. That expectation never materialized. Since then the 750,000 refugees, comprising half of the population of Palestine in 1948, continued to live in refugee camps in the neighboring countries. It was 69 years ago that this refugee crisis started. The initial 750,000 has since grown to 5 million. Palestine was erased from the map of the world and is now called Israel.

Soon after my arrival, the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) evacuated. It was the price demanded by Israel to stop the further relentless bombardment of Lebanon and to lift the ten-week military blockade. Fourteen thousand able-bodied men and women from the PLO evacuated with the guarantee by Western powers that their families left behind would be protected by a multinational peacekeeping force.

Those leaving were soldiers, civil servants, doctors, nurses, lecturers, unionists, journalists, engineers, and technicians. The PLO was the Palestinians’ government in exile and the largest employer. Through evacuation, fourteen thousand Palestinian families lost their breadwinner, often the father or the eldest brother, in addition to those killed by the bombs.

That ceasefire lasted only three weeks. The multinational peacekeeping force, entrusted by the ceasefire agreement to protect the civilians left behind, abruptly withdrew. On September 15, several hundred Israeli tanks drove into West Beirut. Some of them ringed and sealed off Sabra-Shatila to prevent the inhabitants from fleeing. The Israelis sent their allies; a group of Christian militiamen trained and armed by them, into the camp. When the tanks withdrew from the perimeter of the camp on the 18 September, they left behind 3,000 dead civilians. Another seventeen thousand were abducted and disappeared.

On the 35th Anniversary of Sabra and Shatila: The Forgotten Refugees

Our hospital team, who had worked non-stop for 72 hours, was ordered to leave our patients at machine-gun point and marched out of the camp. As I emerged from the basement operating theatre, I learned the painful truth. While we were struggling to save a few dozen lives, people were being butchered by the thousands. Some of the bodies were already rotting in the hot Beirut sun. The images of the massacre are deeply seared into my memory: dead and mutilated bodies lining the camp alleys.

On the 35th Anniversary of Sabra and Shatila: The Forgotten Refugees

Only a few days before, they were human beings full of hope and life, rebuilding their homes, talking to me, trusting that they would be left in peace to raise their young ones after the evacuation of the PLO. These were people who welcomed me into their broken homes. They served me Arabic coffee and whatever food they found; simple fare but given with warmth and generosity. They shared their lives with me. They showed me faded photographs of their homes and families in Palestine before 1948 and the large house keys they still kept with them. The women showed me their beautiful embroidery, each with motifs of the villages they left behind. Many of these villages were destroyed after they left.

Some of these people became patients we failed to save. Others died on arrival. They left behind orphans and widows. A wounded mother begged us to take down the hospital’s last unit of blood from her to give to her child. She died shortly afterward. Children witnessed their mothers and sisters being raped and killed.

On the 35th Anniversary of Sabra and Shatila: The Forgotten Refugees

The terrified faces of families rounded up by gunmen while awaiting death; the desperate young mother who tried to give me her baby to take to safety; the stench of decaying bodies as mass graves continued to be uncovered will never leave me. The piercing cries of women who discovered the remains of their loved ones from bits of clothes, refugee identity cards, as more bodies were found continue to haunt me.

The people of Sabra Shatila returned to live in those very homes where their families and neighbors were massacred. They are a courageous people and there was nowhere else to go. Afterwards, other refugee camps were also blockaded, attacked and more people were killed. Today, Palestinian refugees are denied work permits in 30 professions and 40 artisan trades outside their camps. They have no passports. They are prohibited from owning and inheriting property. Denied the right of return to their homes in Palestine, they are not only born refugees, they will also die refugees and so will their children.

But for me, painful questions need to be answered. Not why they died, but why were they massacred as refugees? After 69 years, has the world already forgotten? How can we allow a situation where a person’s only claim to humanity is a refugee identity card? These questions have haunted me and they have yet to receive answers.

Dr. Swee Chai Ang is a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and founder of Medical Aid for Palestinians. She is the author of: “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” published by The Other Press.

All images in this article are from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on On the 35th Anniversary of Sabra and Shatila: The Forgotten Refugees

Hostile US Actions Against RT and Sputnik News

September 15th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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

The latest US hostile action against Russia requires a company providing services for RT America to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), along with an FBI probe of Sputnik News to check for FARA violations.

Enacted in 1938 one year before WW II began, it requires agents representing foreign powers politically or quasi-politically to disclose their relationship with other governments, along with information about their activities and finances.

Originally administered by the State Department, FARA later came under Justice Department jurisdiction.

From 1938 until amended in 1966, enforcement focused on foreign propagandists, during WW II used in 23 criminal cases, the last time America had an enemy, none since then except invented ones to justify unjustifiable imperial wars.

Since 1966, FARA focused on foreign lobbying instead of propaganda. From then to now, no one was convicted of violating the law.

In 1995, the term “political propaganda” was removed from removed from its text. FARA was created to target foreign agents and lobbyists as amended, not media operations.

Targeting RT America through its services supplier and Sputnik News violates the letter and spirit of the law, perhaps prelude to censoring, then banning both operations in America.

RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called what’s going on a possible move to undermine RT and Sputnik News, saying:

“The war the US establishment wages with our journalists is dedicated to all the starry-eyed idealists who still believe in freedom of speech. Those who invented it, have buried it.”

Earlier this year, congressional legislation called the Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act was introduced, aiming to broaden FARA’s scope with RT and Sputnik News in mind.

Simonyan condemned it, saying

“I wonder how US media outlets, which have no problems while working in Moscow…not required to register as foreign agents, will treat this initiative.”

Sputnik’s Washington bureau editor-in-chief Mindia Gavasheli blasted the FBI’s investigation into its operations, saying it’s

“not surprising, since the atmosphere of hysteria in relation to everything that belongs to Russia has been created in the country, and everything with the word ‘Russian’ is seen through the prism of spy mania.”

“We are journalists, and mostly Americans work here. We believe that any assumption that we are engaged in anything other than journalism is an absolute lie and fabrication.”

The same goes for RT. FARA was never intended to censor or interfere with media operations. It targeted Axis propagandists, the law a relic of that time, out-of-line to use against legitimate Russian media.

I’ve been interviewed by both operations. I’m a commentator, journalist, analyst, not a propagandist – nor are others like myself I personally know who’ve appeared on one or both networks.

Law Professor Jonathan Turley called hostile moves against Russian media in America “cross(ing) a long-observed red line…”

“Countries around the world have long accused media of being tools of foreign governments as a pretense for (wrongful) investigations and arrests.”

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called US hostile actions against RT and Sputnik News an attempt to censor their operations, a cause for great concern. US and other foreign correspondents in Russia operate freely without interference.

If RT and Sputnik News are censored, undermined or shut down, Moscow will no doubt respond in kind – in keeping with what Sergey Lavrov called “parity,” the criterion Washington established.

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.

Featured image is from The Daily Beast.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Hostile US Actions Against RT and Sputnik News

TruePublica Editor: This is a really interesting article by a political scientist from the University of Colorado. It highlights the cost of military expenditure in the US and breaks down that cost as if presented to each citizen as a tax bill. One wonders just how much people would want to pay for the bombing of nations on the other side of the world and 800 global military bases if a military tax bill was presented each year! I wondered how this might compare in Britain?

In Britain, the overall military defence budget is around 2% of GDP or £45 billion. Add in the unfunded military pension scheme costing £4.5 billion (overall unfunded pension scheme approx. £130bn) per year that supports nearly half a million retirees. The lifetime healthcare costs of each amputee as a result of the Afghanistan conflict alone is costing £1.06million per person and there’s a few hundred of them to consider. In a breakdown of injuries sustained by military branch or service between 2006 and 2014, the British Army was hardest hit with 3,544 wounds, followed by the Royal Marines’ 383 injuries. The RAF sustained 190 and the Royal Navy sustained 40. A 2014 statistical analysis based on Freedom of Information (FoI) requests carried out by the military charity Help for Heroes claimed that up to 59,000 Afghanistan and Second Iraq War veterans could be suffering the effects of mental injury.

The true medical costs, plus housing and other benefits as a result of being unable to work are unknown. In addition, the cost of the activities of MI6 and GCHQ in terms of military ‘support’ is also not known. In fact, the true overall hidden costs just keep escalating. As a guesstimate, it would be more than reasonable to state that 3% of the national GDP goes towards supporting the military one way or another – or £1,634 per working age adult (aged 16-65). The ONS states that of this group of taxpayers, 8.7 million are not in work. Equally, the amount of total taxpayers, including taxpaying pensioners adds up to 29.5 million in total, or £2,271 per taxpayer. Median individual earnings in the UK sits at £21,000 per year. Of course taxation into the treasury comes from all sorts of sources but like the article below it highlights the cost of military expenditure on a more personal basis.


Mises Institute: Government employees and their apologists like to lecture Americans about how “freedom isn’t free.” And indeed it isn’t. In recent years, the US military establishment has cost the American taxpayer around $700 billion per year. Thanks to the hard work of the American taxpayer, the US military — and other “defense” agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security — the US government is the most well-funded in the world. In spite of numerous ongoing interventions worldwide, casualties in the US military are low thanks to highly-advanced technology funded by — you guessed it — the American taxpayer.

Now, for the sake of argument in this article, we’ll just assume that the full $700 billion per year has something to do with actual defense. This is a highly debatable notion, of course. As more astute observers have noted in the past decade, it is not at all clear that the trillions of dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan have done anything at all to augment security in the United States. We’ll also conveniently ignore the catastrophic failures of our extremely-well-heeled American security states, such as those on September 11, 2001.

military.jpg

Source: Office of Management and Budget, Table 4.1

All of that aside, we still find that American taxpayers are toiling mightily for their alleged freedom.

For this, reason, I’ve noted in the past that rather than the taxpayers thanking military personnel for their service, things should be the other way around: 

The taxpayers should be regularly approached on the street by soldiers and other government agents saying things like:

There is no doubt that $700 billion is a lot of taxpayer money. But just how does this total break down on a per-person basis?

Well, if we divide $700 billion by the 320 million people in the United States, the per-person total comes out to $2,187 dollars. That’s for each man, woman, and child.

But that’s not the real total. We also need to add in the substantial amounts paid in interest to service a debt that has largely been run up to finance military spending. To be conservative, let’s say that one-fifth of the interest goes toward servicing war debts.1

That brings us up to $2,300 per person, per year.2

Now, of course, these costs are not spread out evenly among all taxpayers. The relatively high-income households pay more than low-income people when it comes to federal taxes.

So, military personnel should especially be thanking higher-income taxpayers for their service.

But, if American were taxed evenly for military costs, that would mean that a family of four would be paying $9,200 per year for “defense.” After all, children need military defense, too, and somebody has to pay for it. Why not their parents?

A large family, say one with four children, would be paying $13,800.

Given that the median household income in the United States is $52,000, this is no small amount.

If we’re so concerned about Americans knowing that “freedom isn’t free” it might be best to move toward a fee-for-service model. In that case, Americans would be acutely aware of how much they’re shelling out for the military. On the other hand, were households faced with a $9,000 “defense” bill every year, they might be less inclined to thank someone else for spending all that money.

Taxation Via Regulation

None of this includes the many non-monetary ways that Americans are taxed to support the military establishment and its employees. We could also include as “taxation” the destruction of privacy in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Thanks to the USA PATRIOT Act, among other pieces of legislation, Americans are subject to many violations of their Fourth Amendment rights in the name of “protecting” freedom.

The many abuses and excesses of American airport security under the TSA are a form of taxation as well. Every time an American taxpayer is forced to miss a flight, has property confiscated, or is generally treated like garbage by the TSA, this is an additional cost imposed.

Border controls impose many costs as well. Americans are now routinely subjected to extensive searches and seizures at the border, as border agents rifle through personal effects, seize phones, and subject taxpayers to hours of questioning upon re-entry.

Moreover, in the name of security, the US can close off Americans from access to foreign resources. This occurs when the US imposes trade embargoes or other trade restrictions in the name of security. When an American wishes to buy goods from a person in a “restricted” country, or wishes to sell goods to a person in the same country, that cuts the American off from using her or her private property in a peaceful manner.

A similar problem occurs when the US denies entry to persons who have been invited into the US by American taxpayers. When a taxpayer invites a friend or colleague into the US — but then that friend or colleague is denied entry — this imposes yet another cost on American taxpayers.

None of these costs show up in tax bills, of course. But they exist.

All the while, we’re being told that these restrictions, embargoes, searches, domestic spy operations, and bans are all necessary to protect freedom and security. That may or may not be true. But even if they are true in some cases, let’s stop pretending that they’re not imposing a significant cost on those who are supposedly receiving a gift from government agents who are “serving” the American public.

This isn’t to say that defense of property — including human persons — is something that need not be done. Of course security is an essential service in any society. This is true even when monopolistic government agencies co-opt security services.

But, this doesn’t make security services special. Food production, energy production, and home construction are all essential services. Nevertheless, we’re not told to run up to farmers and oil workers and roofers and thank them for their “service.” But, we’d notice a lack of food, housing, and energy immediately, were those workers to disappear. Moreover, try running a military without food and gasoline. You’ll quickly find it’s rather difficult.

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is the editor of Mises Wire and The Austrian. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

Notes

1. See table 4.1 here: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

2. Active duty military personnel make up only 0.4 percent of the US population.

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on What if Every Person Paid an Equal Share of the Military Budget?

North Korea Responds to Unacceptable Sanctions

September 15th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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

The right of self-defense is sacrosanct. International law affirms it, including in the UN Charter.

North Korea is threatened by possible US aggression. Without powerful deterrent weapons, it’s defenseless, an unacceptable situation no responsible leadership would permit.

That’s why it continues developing its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities – for defense, not offense. Pyongyang never preemptively attacked another country in its entire history. It threatens none now despite phony US accusations otherwise.

Washington needs to claim the fiction of a North Korean threat to maintain its northeast Asia military presence. The DPRK is a convenient punching bag, China and Russia the real targets.

If North Korea didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. Creating nonexistent threats is how America justifies its menacing military presence worldwide – the US, NATO, Israel and their rogue allies the only legitimate threats to humanity.

On Friday, Pyongyang conducted its latest ballistic missile test, a clear response to new Security Council sanctions it rejects.

Reports indicated the missile flew 3,700 km (2,300 miles), reaching an altitude of 770 km (478 miles). It overflew Japan’s Hokkaido island, splashing down harmlessly in Pacific waters – sending a clear message to America that it won’t be cowed by its hostile actions.

Rex Tillerson responded belligerently, demanding China and Russia take “direct actions” against Pyongyang, “indicat(ing) their intolerance” for these launches.

Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe sounded like Nikki Haley, calling the DPRK’s latest test a “dangerous provocative action that threatens world peace.”

It’s unclear so far what type missile was tested, likely an intermediate-range Hwasong-12. South Korea conducted live-fire missile drills in response.

National Security Council meetings were called in Seoul and Tokyo. A closed-door Security Council meeting is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Let’s see if I have this straight. It’s OK for America, Britain, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Israel to have nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, including tests conducted in their development.

Despite a real threat to its security, it’s unacceptable for North Korea to have the same weapons it wants solely as defensive deterrents against feared US aggression.

The disturbing double standard needs no explanation. As long as America threatens Pyongyang’s security, it’ll continue testing and developing its powerful weapons.

Counterproductive sanctions create a greater urgency to be as prepared as possible to deter possible US aggression.

Washington needs adversarial relations with Pyongyang, as explained above. Its tactics include hostile sanctions, threats, saber rattling and other provocations.

Expect more of the same following North Korea’s latest test – including likely unilateral US sanctions if Russia and China reject tougher Security Council ones.

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on North Korea Responds to Unacceptable Sanctions

In the 1990s, US officials, all of whom would go on to serve in the George W. Bush White House, authored two short, but deeply important policy documents that have subsequently been the guiding force behind every major US foreign policy decision taken since the year 2000 and particularly since 9/11.

These documents include the Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years (more commonly known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine). This document, as the name implies was authored by George W. Bush’s deeply influential Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as well as I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who served as an advisor to former US Vice President Dick Cheney.

The other major document, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, from 1996 was authored by former Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee in the administration of George W. Bush, Richard Norman Perle.

Both documents provide a simplistic but highly unambiguous blueprint for US foreign police in the Middle East, Russia’s near abroad and East Asia. The contents of the Wolfowitz Doctrine were first published by the New York Times in 1992 after they were leaked to the media. Shortly thereafter, many of the specific threats made in the document were re-written using broader language. In this sense, when comparing the official version with the leaked version, it reads in the manner of the proverbial ‘what I said versus what I meant’ adage.

By contrast, A Clean Break was written in 1996 as a kind of gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who apparently was not impressed with the document at the time. In spite of this, the US has implemented many of the recommendations in the document in spite of who was/is in power in Tel Aviv.

President George W. Bush, Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld, and Dep. Sec. Wolfowitz in March 2003. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

While many of the recommendations in both documents have indeed been implemented, their overall success rate has been staggeringly bad.  

Below are major points from the documents followed by an assessment of their success or failure. 

1. Regime change against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (A Clean Break)

This objective is in many ways both the clearest initial success and also the most strident overall failure.

In 1996, Richard Perle suggested that removing Saddam Hussein from power would be good for the US and Israeli interest because it would weaken a powerful, large Arab state that had poor relations with the US since 1990 and historically poor relations with multiple regimes in Tel Aviv. While Iraq’s President was removed from power by illegal force in 2003, that which happened subsequently, did not deliver the outcome Perle had desired.

A Clean Break suggests that a post-Saddam Iraq could and should be ruled by a restored Hashemite dynasty, which was originally overthrown in 1958. Perle continues to suggest that Jordan, the last remaining Hashemite state in the Arab world, could work with Israel and the US to make this happen. Even more absurdly, Perle suggests that a Hashemite would-be union between Jordan and Iraq would be able to command more loyalty from Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon than Iran.

The realities could not be more different. After the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq, the idea of restoring the Hashemite dynasty was never again floated in any serious forum, as the idea would be simply impossible to implement. There was no will among any major faction in Iraq to restore a monarchy that was overthrown in a revolution in 1958 that many Iraqis continue to look back on with national pride.

Ironically, the biggest Arab bulwark against a resurgent Iran was Saddam Hussein. In the 1980s, the future neo-cons realised this, though they seemingly ignored what they once knew, as early as in 1992.

Since Saddam Hussein’s removal from power and violent execution, Iraq’s majority Shi’a population have generally rallied around Iran politically, militarily and spiritually. Iraq has recently signed a defensive military pact with Iran and it is well known that many of the Shi’a volunteer brigades which are fighting ISIS in Iraq have received training and advice from Iranian experts.

While the US bases in Iraq make a US military presence closer to Iran than it was prior to 2003, by the same token Iran’s influence in the Arab world, especially in Iraq has grown substantially. In any case, the desired illegal ‘regime change’ war against Iran will likely never happen for two reasons. First of all, many in the Pentagon and in Washington moreover, realise that such a war would be an unmitigated disaster for the US and secondly, Iran has many influential international partners that it did not have in the 1990s, primarily Russia. Russia as well as China would not stand for a war on Iran in 2017.

In this sense, the US got very little of what it claimed it wanted in overthrowing Saddam apart from the weakening of a united Iraq.

2. ‘Containing’ Russia and China by preventing them from becoming superpowers (Wolfowitz Doctrine)

This policy has failed on every front. Since the rise of George W. Bush, the first White House adherent to the Wolfowitz Doctrine, Russia and China have risen to a status which means that there are three global superpowers, not the lone American superpower dreamt of by Wolfowitz and Libby.

China’s economic rise has fuelled a more robust stance from Beijing on global affairs. China now vigorously defends its claims in the South China Sea, has continually outflanked the US on the Korean issue, is engaged in the building of One Belt–One Road, the most wide reaching trade and commerce initiative in modern history and has opened its first military base overseas.

At the same time, the People’s Liberation Army continues its modernisation programme, making it as formidable a force which for all practical purposes, is as battle ready and capable as those of the US and Russia, countries which during the Cold War, had far superior armed forces to China.

Likewise, Russia’s return to superpower status, has been equally crushing in respect of the goals of Wolfowitz and Libby. Russia has not only strengthened old alliances but is now an important ally or partner to countries which were former Cold War opponents or otherwise non-aligned countries. This is true in respect of Russia’s alliances and partnerships with China, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Philippines and increasingly Indonesia. Russia is also becoming ever closer to South Korea and even Japan.

With Russia’s military now boasting modern defence systems which can rival those of the US and in many cases are objectively superior to those of the US, the idea that the US would prevent Russia from re-attaining super-power status and China emerging as a super-power has become a patent absurdity.

3. Containing Syria via Turkey and Jordan (A Clean Break)

For a while, this plan was implemented with some degree of success by the Obama administration. While Jordan never played a substantial part in the proxy wars on Syria, apart from being a NATO transport corridor, Turkey did help to undermine Syria’s sovereignty with its armed forces and its own proxies.

While relations between Turkey and Syria remain poor, relations between Turkey and the rest of its NATO ‘allies’ is also poor.

Turkey has quietly ceased its support for terrorist groups (aka the opposition) in Syria, is participating in the Astana Peace Process with long time Syrian allies Russia and Iran and is engaged in multiple trading and commercial deals with Russia, including the purchase of the Russian made S-400 missile defence system.

The overall result of Turkey’s participation in the Syrian conflict has been a strengthening of Turkey’s relationship with historical adversaries, Russia and Iran, something which has happened simultaneously to Turkey’s essentially dead relationship with the EU and its incredibly weakened relationship with the US.

All the while, Ba’athist Syria has emerged from the conflict victorious with its commitment to the Palestinian cause as strong as ever.

Far from being “contained”, Syria is now more admired throughout the wider world than at any time in the last three decades.

4. Molesting Russia’s borderlands (Wolfowitz Doctrine)

In the original text of the Wolfowitz Doctrine, there was a provision stating that the US must work to make sure that places like Ukraine and Belarus became part of the US economic and geo-political orbit, maintaining both “market economies” and “democracies”.

The 2014 US engineered coup against the legitimate government in Kiev was a knee-jerk US response to the fact that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an economic association agreement with the EU, under the guise that the Ukrainian economy cannot afford to cut itself off from Russia.

17 December 2013 Ukrainian–Russian action plan (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Yanukovych was subsequently overthrown in a violent coup, and a neo-fascist pro-western regime was installed. However, this can hardly be considered a success as the sheer violence and incompetence of the current Kiev regime has made it so that Ukraine, a place whose borders were always dubious to begin with, will almost inevitably fracture into something unrecognisable.

Already, much of Donbass has been incorporated into the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics that will never go back to Kiev rule and Crimea, whose relationship with Kiev was even more tenuous is now happily reunited with the rest of the Russian Federation.

Seeing the coup in Kiev, Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko has pledged to crack down on any would be trouble-makers, all while remaining a committed albeit tantrum prone ally of Russia.

The only part of this element of the Wolfowitz Doctrine which has not been a failure has been the weaponisation of eastern Europe. The reason this has succeeded is due to the fact that Russia has no interest in invading eastern Europe. Russia has merely responded by building up its defences against NATO’s provocative weaponisation of Poland and the Baltic States.

5. Weakening Hezbollah (A Clean Break)

In 2017, Hezbollah is not only more popular than ever, but is militarily might is stronger than at any time in its history. Hezbollah’s role in fighting terrorism in Syria has won the party praise from groups in Lebanon that previously were never keen on Hezbollah, as well as individuals in the wider world who seek to build a genuine anti-terrorist coalition.

The conflict in Syria has drawn Iran, Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon (the heartland of Hezbollah) closer together than they have ever been. This has in many ways been a result of the common cause of fighting groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda that bound them all together.

In 2006, Hezbollah dealt Israeli forces a major defeat in South Lebanon. Today, Hezbollah is even stronger and everyone in Israel is all too aware of this.

This was a major failure in respect of implementing the ‘destruction’ of Hezbollah advocated by Richard Perle.

6. North Korea not to be allowed nuclear weapons (Wolfowitz Doctrine)

The fact that North Korea just tested what is widely believed to be a hydrogen bomb, is a clear indication that this major goal of Wolfowitz and Libby has failed.

Beyond this, while Russia has condemned both North Korea and US led provocative acts on the Korean peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged that North Korea does have the right to self-defence, something which has become even more prescient after North Korea witnessed the destruction of Iraq and Libya which did not have weapons capable of deterring a US invasion.

Russia and China have clearly seized the initiative on the Korean issue. Apart from launching a disastrous war on North Korea, the US can now do little to change the realities in Pyongyang.

Conclusion:

The aggregate effect of this analysis indicates that the US is still highly capable of starting wars and igniting conflicts throughout the world, but that it is likewise hardly ever capable of winning these conflicts or even achieving a majority of its own stated goals.

As the two most revealing foreign policy documents from the US in the post-Cold War era, both the Wolfowitz Doctrine and A Clean Break have been abject failures. In many cases, in attempting to achieve the goals of these documents, the United States has ended up achieving the opposite.

The US is militarily strong, but strategically, diplomatically and geo-politically, it is actually close to impotent.

Featured image is from Michal Shlapentokh-Rothman / Prezi.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Six Major US Foreign Policy Failures of the Post-Cold War Era

Chelsea Manning at Harvard: The Fear of Veritas

September 15th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Featured image: Chelsea Manning (Source: NPR)

“I have an obligation to my conscience – and I believe to the country – to stand up against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information.” – Michael Morrell, former Deputy Director, CIA, Sep 14, 2017

Michael Morrell could barely stomach the revelation, which tormented him like indigestible gruel. Chelsea Manning was coming to Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

“Harvard,” noted Alex Ward, “gained a celebrity, and it just lost a distinguished public servant.”[1]

In a letter to Douglas Elmendorf, dean of the Kennedy School, Morrell, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, barely contained his disgust at the decision making Manning a visiting fellow.

In quitting his post at the Belfer Center for his scandalized conscience, one favourably attuned to drone warfare and torture, Morrell recycled and regurgitated the tried and untested themes that remain the staple of the secret state.

“Senior leaders have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms Manning put the lives of US soldiers at risk.”[2] (Even Morrell stops short of citing deaths or injuries.)

Morrell saw in Manning the efforts of a celebrity criminal on the road of justification.

“The Kennedy School’s decision will assist Ms Manning in her long standing effort to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence, an attempt that may encourage others to leak classified material as well”.

The last assertion is precisely the reason why Manning should be garlanded with floral tributes of acknowledgement on getting to the Kennedy School. Even President Barack Obama, whose administration proved crack addicted to prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, had to concede as a presidential candidate that revealing abuses and corruptions were indispensable to the health of the republic.

Despite hardening on getting to the White House, Obama did issue an executive order and sign a law beefing up whistleblower protections in 2012. As ever, he preferred to keep the intelligence community in its traditional, singular nook, where officials remain squeamish about notions that a whistleblower might be anything better than a flag tarnishing traitor.

Obama did make one concession on Manning’s legacy in reducing her draconian 35-year old prison sentence, deeming it “very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received.” Not exactly the sort of statement to expect for a person who had supposedly put US soldiers at such mortal risk.

The president, nevertheless, made it unquestionably clear that Manning was an example of gold standard deviance, what should not be done when advancing a cause.

“I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent.”

The Manning appointment cast an eager cat amongst very puzzle pigeons. Appearances were cancelled, notes sent more in sorry than anger. Current CIA director Mike Pompeo was certainly one of those explicit in describing Manning as an “American traitor,” a point he made to Harvard’s Rolf Mowatt-Larssen after cancelling a scheduled appearance at the university.

While it was not a decision taken “lightly,” the CIA director had made the miraculous discovery of having a conscience, a troubled one which “will not permit me to betray [CIA staff] by appearing to support Harvard’s decision with my appearance at tonight’s event.”[3]

Again, in robotic unison with other CIA officials past and present, Pompeo would assert that Manning’s actions, according to “many intelligence and military officials,” had “put the lives of the patriotic men and women at the CIA in danger.”

Even worse for Pompeo was that the Manning decision was something of a stab wound, cruel, indifferent to servicemen and women, not least of all the director himself, who had gotten a degree from that university.

“I am especially saddened because I hold a degree from Harvard Law School.”

Any academic institution worth its sacred salt ought to have a wide tent, suitably capacious, to accommodate the wounded, the tainted heroes, the credible deviants. If an institution appoints fellows from an organisation that overseas insurrections, disruptions and the occasional off-the-record killing, it would surely be appropriate to have that person’s counter, the whistleblower, the person who reveals, to provide some context. Patriotism, a refuge for the scoundrel that it is, affords space for the many.

Reading Pompeo’s letter reveals an exercise of acne-ridden disappointment, the pubescent whose voice is just breaking, a pain that the world of grey is far more evident in his circles than one of light and dark.

“The very motto of Harvard ‘Veritas’, truth, is a core principal [sic] of the agency I now lead. We deliver the truth to America’s leaders everyday.”

Touching that an agency specialising in mendacity, dissimulation and disinformation should be so dedicated to the holy verities.

One such salient verity is worth recounting, notably in terms of its whistleblowing legacy. Farcically bitter as this is, a former CIA employee was sentenced to 30 months in prison for revealing that waterboarding was deployed in the heyday of the “War on Terror”. It proved to be the very person who exposed its practice, rather than any perpetrator, whose identity had been unlawfully revealed. Presumably John Kiriakou would have such doors to academic fertilization and discussion closed, his mind forever caged by the law’s presumption that he had betrayed his country. Veritas indeed!

Manning’s role remains Socratic in its tragedy, remarkable in its endurance. Far better a fallen individual who has served time in actually breaching laws to expose crimes and misdemeanours, than counterfeit saints or pious servants revered by the choristers of patriotism.

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

Notes

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Chelsea Manning at Harvard: The Fear of Veritas

The United Nations Human Rights Council reportedly plans to go ahead with the publication of a list of companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and the Golan Heights, in spite of immense diplomatic pressure from the United States and Israel.

According to a report published Tuesday by Israel’s Channel 2, the full list will be published in December, and will include some of the biggest firms in the Israeli industry as well as major US companies, a translation of the report from Times of Israel said.

Some of the international companies on the list reportedly include Coca-Cola, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Priceline, and Caterpillar, in addition to Israeli companies such as pharmaceutical giant Teva, the national phone company Bezeq, bus company Egged, the national water company Mekorot, and the country’s two largest banks, Hapoalim and Leumi.

The list was recently delivered to the Foreign Ministry, the report said.

Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution to support forming a database of all companies conducting business in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, amid fierce opposition by the United States and Israel.

The Washington Post previously reported that Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said that the UN planned to publish the list by the end of this year, which prompted the Donald Trump administration to work with Israel to obstruct its publication.

However, according to the US newspaper, Israel and the United States had unsuccessfully attempted to block funding for the database.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi condemned the US and Israeli efforts at the UN as “morally repugnant” at the time.

The attempt “exposes the complicity of Israeli and international businesses in Israel’s military occupation and the colonization of Palestinian land,” Ashrawi said. “This is a clear indication of Israel’s persistent impunity and sense of entitlement and privilege.”

Ashrawi highlighted in her statement that Israel’s settlement activities constituted a “war crime” and were in direct violation of international law and several UN resolutions.

“Any company that chooses to do business in the illegal settlements becomes complicit in the crime and therefore liable to judicial accountability,” she said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has complained that the list unfairly targets Israel and has noted that it was part of the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which targets specific companies profiting off of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and falls within the traditions of the nonviolent boycott movement against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Israel and the United States have been starkly opposed to any move that could give weight to the BDS movement, and have often claimed that any support of a boycott against Israel amounts to anti-Semitism.

Israel has tightened the noose on the BDS movement in recent months, most notably by passing the anti-BDS law, which bans foreign individuals who have openly called for a boycott of Israel from entering the country.

Furthermore, Israel has routinely condemned the UN for what it sees as their anti-Israel stance, as numerous resolutions have been passed in recent months condemning Israel’s half-century occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and its relentless settlement enterprise that has dismembered the Palestinian territory.

However, Palestinians and activists have long pointed out that nonviolent movements, expressed both in BDS activities and raising awareness on the international stage, are some of the last spaces to challenge Israel’s occupation, as Israeli forces have clamped down on popular movements in the Palestinian territory, leaving many Palestinians with diminished hope for the future.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on UN List of Companies Linked to Illegal Settlements in Occupied Palestine, to be Published Despite Israeli, US Pressure

Several power centers were formed in Libya as a result of the fall of Muammar Gaddafi‘s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the destruction of the statehood. None of them has a national legitimacy. The pursuit of personal interests by some political leaders to the detriment of the general state is intertwined with territorial fragmentation. The historic regions – Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan – have de facto separated from each other. The Libyan phenomenon of the city-state arose (Misrata, Al-Zintan, Sirte, etc.). The separatist tendencies of the tribes grew stronger.

Along with it, the UN attempts to stabilize the situation in the country. In December 2015, the United Nations brokered the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), the Presidential Council (PC) was set up and a Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj was formed. The agreement also confirmed the legitimacy of the House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk in eastern Libya with the support of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan National Army (LNA) commander.

Despite the UN efforts, however, the conflict between Islamist, Anti-Islamist, secular, tribal and simply criminal groups which resulted in another civil war is caused by historic, social, economic and political circumstances including the interests and interference of foreign parties. NATO involvement in contravention of UNSC Resolution 1973 only turned Libya into a perfect place for terrorist and extremist groups, a center for human trafficking and cheap resources market.

Today, the country is de facto divided by the East-West axis. The eastern regions are under LNA control. In early July, Marshal Haftar’s troops recaptured Benghazi partly stabilizing the situation in the East.

Meanwhile, in the West, the tension between the groups allegedly supporting Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord and those who were loyal to Khalifa al-Ghawil‘s Government of National Salvation grew into violent clashes. Rival militias have been battling heavily against one another in Tripoli since December 2016.

The South of the once rich and beautiful country became a battlefield of the eastern and western sides, tribes and terrorists where Haftar’s supporters were slain by the Misrata-based Third Force militants in early May 2017.

The crisis is aggravating because of various Salafist jihadi groups with different ideologies that are in constant conflict in western Libya. Such groups include Libya Dawn (Libya Fajr), the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, Ansar al-Sharia, the 17 February Martyrs Brigade, the Libya Shield Force, the Libyan Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), etc.

However, the West, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey possess more powerful tools in destabilizing the region e.g. ISIS, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Muslim Brotherhood.

A key part in counteracting IS and AQIM belongs to general Haftar who is taking measures to eliminate jihadists on the Libyan soil, near Sabha and Sirte cities in particular. Having lost Sirte, the terrorists dispersed in three directions: to the southwest of Sabha, to the west of Sabratah and to the southeast near the Sudan border. The main problem of neutralizing the groups is that they are being reinforced with volunteers from Tunis, Algeria, Mali, Chad and Nigeria and the terrorists fleeing from Syria and Iraq.

However, while the situation in the east has stabilized, the western regions are less stable and prone to changes. Mostly, this is tied to the lack of political will of Sarraj and the GNA, and to the diversity of the ultra-conservative Salafist groups in the west.

Although these opposing factions are nominally loyal to Prime Minister Saraj, experience has shown that they are not associated with any political leader. The most telling example is when at the end of October 2016, the forces of Haitham Tajouri, who heads Tripoli’s largest militia and who was allegedly loyal to the Government of National Salvation, allowed the units of Khalifa al-Ghawil to seize a number of ministries in Tripoli. There is also a question of the legitimacy of supporting these essentially terrorist formations by Fayez al-Sarraj. Probably, the latter uses them as a force capable in the future to counter the rising popularity of Khalifa Haftar among the population of Libya.

Unlike Prime Minister F. Saraj, Marshal H. Haftar is a serious military and political figure on the Libyan chessboard capable of uniting tribes and clans under his banners, limiting the flows of illegal migration to the EU, liquidating the terrorist organizations like ISIS, AKIM and Muslim Brotherhood, thus restoring the statehood in the country.

All images in this article are from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Libyan Chessboard: Territorial Fragmentation, Separatist Tendencies, The Destruction of Statehood

China’s Belt and Road Initiative portends a monumental transformation of the global economic order; one which poses an existential threat to the Pax Americana which has existed since the end of the Cold War. Understanding this context is critical to making sense of the current hysteria gushing from the NGO-Industrial complex and being fuelled by Western liberal punditry.

As I’ve argued previously, decisions taken by the Trump administration since January indicate a shift in US foreign policy. No longer concerned with waging petty wars on behalf of the Israel lobby and the billionaire class, attention has been focused acutely on Asia, and in particular China. Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was quite forthright about this in his August 16 interview with American Prospect magazine:

“To me, the economic war with China is everything. We have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Without a hint of irony, Bannon later added

“China right now is Germany in 1930. It’s on the cusp. It could go one way or the other.” “A hundred years from now, this is what they’ll remember — what we did to confront China on its rise to world domination.” “We have to reassert ourselves as the real Asian power: economically, militarily, culturally, politically.”

China’s BRI is an $8 trillion infrastructure project which aims to rebuild the ancient Silk Road, integrating the Eurasian continent in a vast network of road, rail and sea routes across 60 plus countries, and absorbing much of China’s current overcapacity in what President Xi Jinping describes as an open, innovative path to win-win cooperation. It also signals the end of permanent US global hegemony.

Significant foreign policy decisions taken so far under the Trump administration include strategic retreat from Syria, increased hostilities toward Iran, dropping the 11-ton mother-of-all-bombs on eastern Afghanistan, and a doubling down on troop deployment in America’s longest war. All of these are signs of a single-minded approach focused on disrupting China’s growing regional influence by any and all means possible.

One of six economic corridors making up the BRI, the 2800 km Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor will link Kolkata in India with Kunming in China’s Yunnan province, via Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Mandalay (Myanmar). The central hub of this corridor is the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (KSEZ), which includes an express railway and deep water port, and has the potential to turn Myanmar into a regional logistics hub drawing in trade from neighbouring Thailand and Laos.

Image result for belt road corridor myanmar

Source: International Road Transport Union / Los Angeles Times

But rather than a great opportunity for regional development, the generals at the Pentagon see the BCIM as an enemy supply line. With the US flexing its military muscle in the South China Sea and eyeing off the Strait of Malacca – a potential choke point for the supply of oil into China – the $10bn Sino-Myanmar pipeline running from the Bay of Bengal to China’s Yunnan province is now critical to China’s energy security. Placing Rakhine state under US/NATO protection would be an obvious way to sabotage this project.

Like the Uighur of China’s Xingxang province, Myanmar’s Rakhine Muslim minority, known more widely as ‘Rohingya’, include insurgent groups backed by Western political interests, such as Harakah al-Yaqin, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Playing the role of agents provocateur in the latest round of psy-ops, reports from locals accuse these radicals of burning their own villages and killing their own people in order to incite violence. Additionally, their violent crimes against the local Buddhist population have provoked brutal counter attacks against ethnic Muslims across the country – violence which the “international community” blames on the Burmese authorities.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been the darling of the liberal ‘free press’ for two decades. The poster child for Burmese independence, her opposition to Myanmar’s military Junta earned her a Nobel Peace Prize and 15 years under house arrest before her National League for Democracy finally won a landslide victory in 2015. Suu Kyi now finds herself in the illustrious company of Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega and Ngo Dinh Diem – a rogue asset whose lease has expired and who is about to be thrown under the proverbial bus.

So far the Russian foreign ministry is not buying the imperial line on Myanmar, and China has refused to support UN involvement in the crisis.

Turkey has been most vocal in its calls for humanitarian intervention, which comes as no surprise given its track record. It was Turkey after all which led the call to arms on behalf of Libyan Muslims, allegedly the victims of rape and genocide under the brutal dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. Embarrassingly Amnesty International would later be forced to admit that these claims weren’t based on any actual evidence – sadly too late for Ghadaffi, whose capture and extra-judicial execution set a new low standard for network TV voyeurism. Turkey was also an important player in the six year effort to topple Syria’s secular democracy and replace it with a Wahhabist theocracy favourable to Western oil interests. Unlike Libya, which was completely destroyed and handed over to terrorists within six months, Syria has so far survived, thanks to the dedication and determination of its army and its allies, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Before we allow our emotions to be manipulated into supporting more humanitarian violence, we should have no illusions about what comes next. Responsibility to Protect is almost always a precursor to genocide. One of the principle advocates of the Libyan war was French public intellectual and media personality Bernard-Henri Lévy. When asked by BBC Hard Talk’s Stephen Sackur

“Would you agree that the military intervention in Libya is not going the way you hoped it would?”,

Lévy replied

“No (laughs) No no, I never doubted it would go this way.”

This article was originally published by The Last Yawn.

Featured image is from Asia Times.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Terror in Myanmar as US Faces Off Against China’s “Belt and Road”

As I heard Florida’s governor demanding gas, I wondered why they don’t learn from Cuba, and send buses. Cuba was there in the CBC newscasts about Florida. It was the country under the satellite image, under the “lingering” eye of category five Irma. For hours, that awful image was in the background as the CBC anchor kept returning to Florida’s need for gas.

They won’t learn from Cuba. And it is not because Cuba is part of the world’s “left-overs”, who don’t count and whose ideas don’t count either. It’s not even because of Cold War mentality. The problem is deeper. It’s about culture and truth. In short, it’s about a culture that denies truth.

The popular cultural anthropologist, Wade Davis, says cultures teach us about humanness.[i] He claims to catalogue cultural wealth to know what it means to be human. He gives a platform to cultural representatives expressing “the better angels of our nature”.

He doesn’t catalogue the culture of imperialism. And he gives no platform to the cultures of resistance long opposing it. He writes,

“Within this diversity of knowledge and practise [of cultures] … we will all rediscover the enchantment of being what we are, a conscious species”.

Well, not all.

Cuban scholar, Juan Marinello, writes that one of the great puzzles about Cuba, for its enemies, is how ideas have survived. Somehow, in the late nineteenth century, with the US in economic glory, Jose Martí, independence leader, knew Latin Americans could be modern and free without following the US.

And he grasped something not then expressed, which 60 years later would galvanize the poor on three continents: anti-imperialism. Many who study Cuba fail to understand, or even to ask, how such ideas remained motivating through six dark decades of US cultural imposition after Martí’s death.

It’s because they were true. In the North, we don’t believe in truth. Sure, we believe in science. But when it comes to better ways to live, that is, better than what we imagine or expect, given how we currently live, based on values we already hold, there’s no truth.

There are different ways to see things, but they’re “all good”. None are closer to the truth than others because, after all, “who’s to say?” Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, says we live in an “age of authenticity” when the ultimate authority on well-being is ourselves.

Davis is typical. He tells us no one who understands the life of the Waorani of Ecuador would want it preserved. But, regrettably, the Penan of Borneo lost a “unique vision of life”. We see that only some cultures express our “better angels”. But Davis doesn’t say how he decides. Supposedly, he just knows.

Martí knew that imperialist culture, like Davis, just knows. And Martí knew it didn’t. Paulo Freire, the Brazilian educator, knew it too.

Freire claimed that “authentic humanity” has to be discovered, and moreover that it is impossible that it not be discovered.[ii] Of course. The “non-persons” exist, as people. Martí and Freire could not not know the imperialist claim was false. They were human. They knew it and they knew that they knew it.

One of the first things that struck me about Cuba was that they take seriously the task Davis dismisses: how to know what it means to be human. When I mentioned this in academic presentations, I got jeered. In retrospect, I don’t think I was understood. How could I be?

There is not that expectation where I live. True, plenty of people dedicate themselves to self-help. But the self-help industry is not about being better people. It is about pursuing happiness. It is not about being better. It is about feeling better – about yourself.

Sometimes, to know something is true, you have to live it. And sometimes you live it, and you don’t fully understand, but you know you’re empowered in some way, humanly. So, you keep on.

It’s what happened to Thelma in the 1990s film, Thelma and Louise: Two women claim their independence from dominating men. Their lives get hard. Louise asks Thelma if she wants to go back. Thelma says, “I don’t know about you, Louise, but something’s crossed over in me and I can’t go back”.

That’s what I heard Cubans saying in the early 90s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the US tightening the blockade. They were skinny, alone, almost universally mocked. I asked,

“Where are you going?” The answer: “We don’t know but we won’t turn back.”

Like Thelma: You find truth, you live it and you learn about human capacities. You continue. It’s more compelling than “happiness”, and more interesting.

Floridians can’t learn from Cuba. Progressive academics talk about listening to the oppressed and marginalized. They debate “epistemic injustice”. But they forget the need for a question, for doubt. Listening is not the issue. Respect is not the issue.

Academics can listen to cultures of resistance without learning about humanness if they think they already know, and if there’s no doubt, no question. The Second Declaration of Havana (1962) states that

“Cuba and Latin America are part of … the struggle of the subjugated people; the clash between the world that is dying and the world that is being born”.

We won’t learn about the world being born. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, North Korea have “pointed out the danger hovering over America and called it by its name: imperialism”. Those who want the real “enchantment”, based on truths, must do the same. Truths, about how to live freely as human beings, are not got academically, not now. Anti-imperialism must raise the question.

Ana Belén Montes raised the question. She’s in jail under harsh conditions. [iii] (Please sign petition here.)

Susan Babbitt is author of Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014).

Notes

[i] Light at the Edge of the World (2007); The Wayfinders (2009).

[ii] Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970)

[iii] http://www.prolibertad.org/ana-belen-montes. For more information, write to the [email protected] or [email protected].

Featured image is from el-toro | CC BY 2.0.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Hurricane Irma, No Gas in Florida: Give Truth a Chance. Learn From Cuba

The Russian Hacking Story Continues to Unravel

September 15th, 2017 by Mike Whitney

A new report by a retired IT executive at IBM, debunks the claim that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign by hacking Democratic computers and circulating damaging information about Hillary Clinton.  The report, which is titled “The Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge“,  provides a rigorous examination of the wobbly allegations upon which the hacking theory is based, as well as a point by point rejection of the primary claims which, in the final analysis, fail to pass the smell test. While the report is worth reading in full, our intention is to zero-in on the parts of the text that disprove the claims that Russia meddled in US elections or hacked the servers at the DNC.

Let’s start with the fact that there are at least two credible witnesses who claim to know who took the DNC emails and transferred them to WikiLeaks. We’re talking about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and WikiLeaks ally, Craig Murray. No one is in a better position to know who actually took the emails than Assange, and yet, Assange has repeatedly said that Russia was not the source. Check out this clip from the report:

Assange …. has been adamant all along that the Russian government was not a source; it was a non-state player. …

ASSANGE: Our source is not a state party

HANNITY (Conservative talk show host): Can you say to the American people unequivocally that you did not get this information about the DNC, John Podesta’s emails — can you tell the American people 1,000 percent you did not get it from Russia…

ASSANGE: Yes.

HANNITY: … or anybody associated with Russia?

ASSANGE: We — we can say and we have said repeatedly… over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party…

(“The Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge”, Skip Folden)

Can you think of a more credible witness than Julian Assange? The man has devoted his entire adult life to exposing the truth about government despite the risks his actions pose to his own personal safety. In fact, he is currently holed up at the Ecuador embassy in London for defending the public’s right to know what their government is up to. Does anyone seriously think that a man like that would deliberately lie just to protect Russia’s reputation?

No, of course not, and the new report backs him up on this matter. It states:

“No where in the Intelligence Community’s Assessment (ICA) was there any evidence of any connection between Russia and WikiLeaks.”

The reason Assange keeps saying that Russia wasn’t involved is because Russia wasn’t involved. There’s nothing more to it than that.

Craig Murray

 

As for the other eyewitness, Craig Murray, he has also flatly denied that Russia provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails. Check out this except from an article at The Daily Mail:

(Murray) “flew to Washington, D.C. for emails….He claims he had a clandestine hand-off … near American University with one of the email sources. Murray said the leakers’ motivation was ‘disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders’…

Murray says: ‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks’. ‘Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that,’ Murray insists.” ….

Murray said he was speaking out due to claims from intelligence officials that Wikileaks was given the documents by Russian hackers as part of an effort to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.

‘I don’t understand why the CIA would say the information came from Russian hackers when they must know that isn’t true,’ he said. ‘Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that.”

(EXCLUSIVE: Ex-British ambassador who is now a WikiLeaks operative claims Russia did NOT provide Clinton emails“, Daily Mail)

Is Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and human rights activist, a credible witness?

There’s one way to find out, isn’t there? The FBI should interview Murray so they can establish whether he’s telling the truth or not. And, naturally, one would assume that the FBI has already done that since the Russia hacking story has been splashed across the headlines for more than a year now.

But that’s not the case at all. The FBI has never questioned Assange or Murray, in fact, the FBI has never even tried to get in touch with either of them. Never. Not even a lousy phone call. It’s like they don’t exist.

Why? Why hasn’t the FBI contacted or questioned the only two witnesses in the case?

Could it be because Assange and Murray’s knowledge of the facts doesn’t coincide with the skewed political narrative the Intel agencies and their co-collaborators at the DNC what to propagate?  Isn’t that what’s really going on?  Isn’t Russia-gate really just a stick for beating Russia and Trump?  How else would one explain this stubborn unwillingness of the FBI to investigate what one senator called “The crime of the century”?

Here’s something else from the report that’s worth mulling over:

“It is no secret that NSA has the technology to trace a web event, e.g., a cyber attack, back to its source.   There has been no public claim, nor is it implied in either Grizzly Steppe or the ICA that the NSA has trace routing to Russia on any of these purported Russian hacks.” (“The Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge”, Skip Folden)

This is a crucial point, so let’s rephrase that in simple English. What the author is saying is that: If Russia hacked the DNC computers, the NSA would know about it. It’s that simple.

But no one at the NSA  has ever verified the claims or produced one scintilla of evidence that connects Russia to the emails. In fact, the NSA has never even suggested that such evidence exists. Nor has anyone in the media asked Director Michael Rogers point blank whether the NSA has hard evidence that Russia hacked the DNC servers?

Why? Why this conspiracy of silence on a matter that is so fundamental to the case that the NSA and the other Intel agencies are trying to make?

The only logical explanation is that there’s no proof that Russia was actually involved. Why else would the NSA withhold evidence on a matter this serious? It makes no sense.

According to the media, Intelligence agents familiar with the matter have “high confidence” that Russia was involved.

Okay, but where’s the proof? You can’t expect to build a case against a foreign government and a sitting president with just “high confidence”. You need facts, evidence, proof. Where’s the beef?

We already mentioned how the FBI never bothered to question the only eyewitnesses in the case. That’s odd enough, but what’s even stranger  is the fact that the FBI never seized the DNC’s servers so they could conduct a forensic examination of them. What’s that all about? Here’s an excerpt from the report:

“The FBI, having asked multiple times at different levels, was refused access to the DNC server(s). It is not apparent that any law enforcement agency had access.

The apparent single source of information on the purported DNC intrusion(s) was from Crowdstrike.

3.  Crowdstrike is a cyber security firm hired by the Democratic Party.

4.   Not the FBI, CIA, nor NSA organizations analyzed the information from Crowdstrike.  Only picked analysts of these agencies were chosen to see this data and write the ICA….”

( “The Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge)

Have you ever read anything more ridiculous in your life? The FBI’s negligence in this case goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen before.  Imagine if a murder was committed in the apartment next to you and the FBI was called in to investigate.  But when they arrive at the scene of the crime,  they’re  blocked at the door by the victim’s roommate who refuses to let them in.  Speaking through the door, the roommate assures the agents that the victim was shot dead with a single bullet to the head, and that the smoking gun that was used in the murder is still on the floor. But “don’t worry”, says the obstructing roommate, “I’ve already photographed the whole thing and I’ll send you the pictures as soon as I get the chance.”

Do you really think the agents would put up with such nonsense?

Never! They’d kick down the door, slap the roommate in handcuffs, cordon-off the murder scene, and start digging-around for clues.  That’s what they’d do. And yet we are supposed to believe that in the biggest case of the decade, a case that that allegedly involves foreign espionage and presidential treason, that the FBI has made no serious effort to secure  the servers that were allegedly hacked by Russia?

The DNC computers are Exhibit A. The FBI has to have those computers,  and they are certainly within their rights to seize them by any means necessary. So why haven’t they?  Does the FBI think they can trust the second-hand analysis from some flunkey organization whose dubious background casts serious doubt on their conclusions?

It’s a joke! The only rational explanation for the FBI’s behavior, is that they’ve been told to “stand down” so they don’t unwittingly expose the truth about what’s really going on, that the whole Russia hacking fiction is a complete and utter fraud, and that the DNC, the CIA and the media are all having a good laugh at the expense of the clueless American people.

Here’s another interesting clip from the report:

“Adam Carter: …the FBI do not have disk images from any point during or following the alleged email hack. …  CrowdStrike’s failure to produce evidence. – With Falcon installed between April and May (early May), they should have had evidence on when files/emails/etc were copied or sent. – That information has never been disclosed.”

(“The Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge”, Skip Folden)

Read that excerpt over again. It’s mind boggling. What Carter is saying is that, they have nothing, no evidence, no proof, no nothing. If you don’t have a disk image, then what do you have?

You have nothing, that’s what. Which means that everything we’ve read is 100 percent conjecture, not a shred of evidence anywhere. Which is why the focus has shifted to Manafort, Flynn, Trump Jr and the goofy Russian lawyer?

Who gives a rip about Manafort? Seriously?

The investigation started off with grave allegations of foreign espionage and presidential collusion (treason?) and quickly downshifted to the illicit financial dealings of someone the American people could care less about. Talk about mission creep!

What people want is proof that Russia hacked the DNC servers or that Trump cozied up to Russia to win the election. Nothing else matters. All these diversions prove is that, after one full year of nonstop, headline sensationalism,  the investigation has produced nothing; a big, fat goose-egg.

A few words about the ICA Report

Remember the January 6, Intelligence Community Assessment? The ICA report was supposed to provide iron-clad proof that Russia hacked Democratic emails and published them at WikiLeaks. The media endlessly reiterated the claim that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies took part in the assessment and that it’s conclusions represented the collective, objective analysis of America’s finest.

Right. The whole thing was a fraud. As it happens, only four of the agencies participated in the project (the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.) and the agents who provided the analysis were hand-picked for the task. Naturally, when a director hand-picks particular analysts for a given assignment, one assumes that they want a particular outcome. Which they did. Clearly, in this case, the intelligence was tailored to fit the policy. The intention was to vilify Russia in order to further isolate a country that was gradually emerging as a global rival.  And the report was moderately successful in that regard too, except for one paradoxical disclaimer that appeared on page 13. Here it is:

“Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. … Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.” …

What the authors are saying is that, ‘Everything you read in this report could be complete baloney because it’s all based on conjecture, speculation and guesswork.’

Isn’t that what they’re saying? Why would anyone waste their time reading a report when the authors openly admit that their grasp of what happened is  “incomplete or fragmentary” and they have no “proof” of anything?

Gregory Copley, President, International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) summed it up best when he said:

“This is a highly politically motivated and a subjective report which was issued by the intelligence community. … does not present evidence of successful or even an attempt to actually actively manipulate the election process.”

Like we said, it’s all baloney.

Lastly, Folden’s report sheds light on the technical inconsistencies of the hacking allegations. Cyber-forensic experts have now shown that “The alleged “hack” was effectively impossible in mid-2016.  The required download speed of the “hack” precludes an internet transfer of any significant distance.” In other words, the speed at which the emails were transferred could only have taken place if they were “Downloaded onto external storage, e.g., 2.0 thumb drive.” (The report also provides evidence that the transfers took place in the Eastern time zone, which refutes the theory that the servers were hacked from Romania.)

The Nation summed it up perfectly in this brief paragraph:

“There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.” (“A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack”, Patrick Lawrence, The Nation)

Bingo.

Bottom line: A dedicated group of independent researchers and former Intel agents joined forces and produced the first hard evidence that “the official narrative implicating Russia” is wrong. This is a stunning development that will, in time, cut through the fog of government propaganda and reveal the truth. Skip Folden’s report is an important contribution to that same effort.

Note: Skip Folden is a Private Intelligence analyst and a retired IBM Program Manager for Information Technology. His report has been submitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the Office of Special Council (Robert Mueller), and the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. The report was released on September 13, 2017

Read the whole report here:  “Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge“, Skip Folden, Word Press.

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].

Featured image is from sime simon | CC BY 2.0.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Russian Hacking Story Continues to Unravel

The US government is blatantly violating the most basic tenets of its purportedly “sacred” ideology of “human rights” and “free speech” by egregiously overstepping the bounds of FARA to engage in the same type of state-sponsored intimidation that it regularly accuses its geopolitical opponents of for far less.

Yahoo broke the story earlier on Monday that the FBI questioned former Sputnik employee Andrew Feinburg following his public complaints to the media about how the company is supposedly being run, and this reportedly came after another former employee, Joseph John Fionda, allegedly contacted the FBI on his own initiative to share “a big packet” of information accusing Sputnik of breaking the law. The legislation at the center of this scandal is the “Foreign Agents Registration Act” (FARA), a 1938 law originally passed to expose Nazi influence operations inside of the US. It’s since been used for registering anyone who works as a “foreign agent”, which stereotypically refers to Congressional lobbyists hired by foreign governments but is nowadays being proposed by some US voices to apply to Sputnik and RT as well.

The basis for this move is that both companies are publicly funded by the Russian government, and that this therefore supposedly makes them “propaganda” because it’s assumed by the American authorities that all of their employees lack “editorial independence” from the Kremlin. As could have been expected, the same forces pushing for Sputnik and RT to register as “foreign agents” under FARA aren’t interested in equally applying these expanded “standards” to other publicly financed international media outlets such as Al Jazeera and the BBC.

Using the same criteria as is being applied against these two companies, one could rhetorically question the “independence” of US Congressmen and American government-connected “think tanks” to the “deep state”, which is another word for its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies that hold disproportionate influence over policymaking decisions.

In any case, what’s important to focus on is the difference between publicly financed institutions and those which are “government-run”. The first one simply means that taxpayers are paying the bills, whereas the second refers to government employees being the final decision makers on all matters. All government employees work for publicly financed institutions, but not all employees at publicly financed institutions are government employees. Sputnik, for example, is a publicly financed media platform where the editors always have the final say as decision makers in what is a globally recognized industry-wide hierarchical standard. This doesn’t indicate “censorship” or a “cover-up” – it’s just plain journalism.

If Washington-funded media platforms happen to accuse Sputnik and RT of being “government-run”, then it might possibly be that they’re falsely projecting their own unstated but widely assumed internal arrangements onto their Russian counterparts.

Moreover, just because two disgruntled employees seem to have experienced communication issues with their superiors and failed to resolve – or in some cases, even address – them prior to continuing with their given assignments doesn’t mean that there’s a “Kremlin conspiracy” because their bosses were displeased with their overall work at the company as a result. Outcomes like that happen in those situations. It’s life – nothing more, nothing less – and should be used as a personal learning experience, not as someone’s “15 minutes of fame” driven by their desire to more easily land a new job elsewhere, whether in the same industry or the “think tank” one. It’s natural for people to have divergent views on any given subject, especially when it’s related to politics, but editors always have the final say when it comes to the journalism industry, and employees are supposed to respect that.

One of the more popular fake news claims going around about Sputnik and RT is that the two outlets were heavily biased in favor of Trump during the 2016 election, but that’s frankly not true, as anyone would know by listening to Sputnik’s radio programs from that time, watching RT’s shows, or reading both of their websites’ archives. Both platforms lean closer to the liberal-progressive side of things as opposed to the conservative one. Simply reporting on the many unfavorable stories surrounding Hillary Clinton and not blindly fawning over her candidacy doesn’t qualify as “institutional bias”, though in largely controlled systems such as the American one where most of the media openly back the Democrats, then the Overton window concept would suggest that Sputnik and RT’s balanced reporting and analyses would understandably stand out as attention-grabbing and exemplary.

In addition, it should never be forgotten that it was the on-the-fence population of the Rust Belt who surprisingly turned the election in Trump’s favor. One would presume that the liberal-progressive masses in the solidly Democratic states on each coast would be Sputnik and RT’s core audiences given how these two outlets’ more leftist-leaning stance on many matters overlap with the prevailing preferences there, so it’s ridiculous to believe that these Russian companies somehow convinced voters to want to “Make America Great Again” in the more stereotypically nationalistic heartland with their liberal-progressive messaging. In fact, it’s uncertain how many people in that part of the US listen to, watch, or read Sputnik and RT in the first place when Fox NewsCNN, and Rush Limbaugh dominate those media markets, and whether these Russian companies are even capable of making any difference at all in those swing states.

Another point that’s often brought up in the course of this conversation is that individual writers, analysts, and presenters might be “biased”, but human beings are unique and have their own way of understanding and relaying information, which in the media field leads to them expressing their individual viewpoints and perspectives in their work. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it should be celebrated that people feel comfortable enough in their professional environment to express themselves as they see fit, though provided that they’re not obnoxiously – and perhaps even deliberately – doing something to cross the line of the editorial standards which vary according to the media outlet. The Sputnik and RT employees that are in the public limelight sometimes have opinions that are just as passionate as their counterparts in The Washington Post and The New York Times, though the latter two are rarely – if ever – condemned for their zeal by the US government.

The double standard that’s being applied when it comes to Sputnik and RT should be clear for all to see, and it’s that the American “deep state” doesn’t tolerate foreigners having an opinion about the US unless they present it on a US-based media platform or on one of Washington’s allies’. Otherwise, as the witch-hunting “logic” now goes, they’re “foreign agents” possibly “spreading propaganda”, and their outlets need to be registered as such with the intimidating “scarlet letter(s)” of FARA if they’re foreign-funded. Even worse, the hysterical zeitgeist has now peaked at such a point that Americans are unable to talk about American-related issues (whether domestic or foreign) on non-American international media outlets publicly funded by a foreign government without potentially having to register as a “foreign agent” in their homelands, whether they still live there or emigrated already.

This is nothing less than state-sponsored intimidation, since Washington is implying that the Americans who work for and comment on these platforms might be “national security threats” because of their supposedly undeclared “foreign agent” status.

If Russia implemented the same media version of FARA that the US is seriously considering and decided to decree that its citizens working for publicly funded American information outlets both in the country and abroad are “foreign agents” that are forced to register with the Kremlin, then the US government would instantly condemn it as state-sponsored intimidation and political oppression, possibly even extending political asylum and an expedited path to citizenship for those said nationals who might be working in the US and are too afraid to ever go home again. Frighteningly, however, it’s not Russians who have to fear the long arm of their government in this respect, but Americans, though it’s “politically incorrect” for anyone to say so.

In the Twilight Zone of the New Cold War, Russia could plausibly – and with full ethical and legal backing behind it –contemplate granting its Russian-based American employees political asylum and potential citizenship because of the state-sponsored intimidation that they might become reasonably subjected to back home just because they decided to “Tell The Untold” and “Question More”. If the US government demands that Sputnik and RT employees register as “foreign agents” under FARA but selectively ignores enforcing this new “standard” against other publicly financed international media companies and their employees, then it’s not unrealistic to imagine that Edward Snowden might end up sharing a toast with some fellow American political refugees in Moscow before too long.

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Fake News, “Human Rights” and “Free Speech” in the USA: State-Sponsored Intimidation, or When FARA Goes Too Far

The American Military Uncontained

September 14th, 2017 by William J. Astore

When it comes to the “world’s greatest military,” the news has been shocking. Two fast U.S. Navy ships colliding with slow-moving commercial vessels with tragic loss of life. An Air Force that has been in the air continuously for years and yet doesn’t have enough pilots to fly its combat jets. Ground troops who find themselves fighting “rebels” in Syria previously armed and trained by the CIA. Already overstretched Special Operations forces facing growing demands as their rates of mental distress and suicide rise. Proxy armies in Iraq and Afghanistan that are unreliable, often delivering American-provided weaponry to black markets and into the hands of various enemies. All of this and more coming at a time when defense spending is once again soaring and the national security state is awash in funds to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars a year.

What gives? Why are highly maneuverable and sophisticated naval ships colliding with lumbering cargo vessels? Why is an Air Force that exists to fly and fight short 1,200 pilots? Why are U.S. Special Operations forces deployed everywhere and winning nowhere? Why, in short, is the U.S. military fighting itself — and losing?

It’s the Ops Tempo, Stupid

After 16 years of a never-ending, ever-spreading global war on terror, alarms are going off in Asia from the Koreas and Afghanistan to the Philippines, while across the Greater Middle East and Africa the globe’s “last superpower” is in a never-ending set of conflicts with a range of minor enemies few can even keep straight. As a result, America’s can-do military, committed piecemeal to a bewildering array of missions, has increasingly become a can’t-do one.

Too few ships are being deployed for too long. Too few pilots are being worn out by incessant patrols and mushrooming drone and bombing missions. Special Operations forces (the “commandos of everywhere,” as Nick Turse calls them) are being deployed to far too many countries — more than two-thirds of the nations on the planet already this year — and are involved in conflicts that hold little promise of ending on terms favorable to Washington.  Meanwhile, insiders like retired General David Petraeus speak calmly about “generational struggles” that will essentially never end. To paraphrase an old slogan from ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” as the U.S. military spans the globe, it’s regularly experiencing the agony of defeat rather than the thrill of victory.

© Flickr/ Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper Installation

Source: Flickr/ Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper Installation

To President Donald Trump (and so many other politicians in Washington), this unsavory reality suggests an obvious solution: boost military funding; build more navy ships; train more pilots and give them more incentive pay to stay in the military; rely more on drones and other technological “force multipliers” to compensate for tired troops; cajole allies like the Germans and Japanese to spend more on their militaries; and pressure proxy armies like the Iraqi and Afghan security forces to cut corruption and improve combat performance.

One option — the most logical — is never seriously considered in Washington: to make deep cuts in the military’s operational tempo by decreasing defense spending and downsizing the global mission, by bringing troops home and keeping them there. This is not an isolationist plea. The United States certainly faces challenges, notably from Russia (still a major nuclear power) and China (a global economic power bolstering its regional militarily strength). North Korea is, as ever, posturing with missile and nuclear tests in provocative ways. Terrorist organizations strive to destabilize American allies and cause trouble even in “the homeland.”

Such challenges require vigilance. What they don’t require is more ships in the sea-lanes, pilots in the air, and boots on the ground. Indeed, 16 years after the 9/11 attacks it should be obvious that more of the same is likely to produce yet more of what we’ve grown all too accustomed to: increasing instability across significant swaths of the planet, as well as the rise of new terror groups or new iterations of older ones, which means yet more opportunities for failed U.S. military interventions.

Once upon a time, when there were still two superpowers on Planet Earth, Washington’s worldwide military posture had a clear rationale: the containment of communism. Soon after the Soviet Union imploded in 1991 to much triumphalist self-congratulation in Washington, the scholar and former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson had an epiphany. What he would come to call “the American Raj,” a global imperial structure ostensibly built to corral the menace of communism, wasn’t going away just because that menace had evaporated, leaving not a superpower nor even a major power as an opponent anywhere on the horizon. Quite the opposite, Washington — and its globe-spanning “empire” of military bases — was only digging in deeper and for the long haul. At that moment, with a certain shock, Johnson realized that the U.S. was itself an empire and, with its mirror-image-enemy gone, risked turning on itself and becoming its own nemesis.

The U.S., it turned out, hadn’t just contained the Soviets; they had contained us, too.  Once their empire collapsed, our leaders imbibed the old dream of Woodrow Wilson, even if in a newly militarized fashion: to remake the world in one’s own image (if need be at the point of a sword).

Since the early 1990s, largely unconstrained by peer rivals, America’s leaders have acted as if there were nothing to stop them from doing as they pleased on the planet, which, as it turned out, meant there was nothing to stop them from their own folly. We witness the results today. Prolonged and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Interventions throughout the Greater Middle East (Libya, Syria, Yemen, and beyond) that spread chaos and destruction. Attacks against terrorism that have given new impetus to jihadists everywhere. And recently calls to arm Ukraine against Russia. All of this is consistent with a hubristic strategic vision that, in these years, has spoken in an all-encompassing fashion and without irony of global reach, global power, and full-spectrum dominance.

In this context, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the full scope of America’s military power. All the world is a stage — or a staging area — for U.S. troops. There are still approximately 800 U.S. military bases in foreign lands. America’s commandos deploy to more than 130 countries yearly. And even the world is not enough for the Pentagon as it seeks to dominate not just land, sea, and air but outer space, cyberspace, and even inner space, if you count efforts to achieve “total information awareness” through 17 intelligence agencies dedicated — at a cost of $80 billion a year — to sweeping up all data on Planet Earth.

In short, America’s troops are out everywhere and winning nowhere, a problem America’s “winningest” president, Donald Trump, is only exacerbating. Surrounded by “his” generals, Trump has — against his own instincts, he claimed recently — recommitted American troops and prestige to the Afghan War. He’s also significantly expanded U.S. drone strikes and bombing throughout the Greater Middle East, and threatened to bring fire and fury to North Korea, while pushing a program to boost military spending.

At a Pentagon awash in money, with promises of more to come, missions are rarely downsized. Meanwhile, what passes for original thinking in the Trump White House is the suggestion of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, to privatize America’s war in Afghanistan (and possibly elsewhere). Mercenaries are the answer to Washington’s military problems, suggests Prince. And mercs, of course, have the added benefit of not being constrained by the rules of engagement that apply to America’s uniformed service members.

Indeed, Prince’s idea, though opposed by Trump’s generals, is compelling in one sense: If you accept the notion that America’s wars in these years have been fought largely for the corporate agendas of the military-industrial complex, why not turn warfighting itself over to the warrior corporations that now regularly accompany the military into battle, cutting out the middleman, that very military?

Hammering a Cloud of Gnats

Erik Prince’s mercenaries will, however, have to bide their time as the military high command continues to launch kinetic strikes against elusive foes around the globe. By its own admission, the force recent U.S. presidents have touted as the “finest” in history faces remarkably “asymmetrical” and protean enemies, including the roughly 20 terrorist organizations in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations. In striking at such relatively puny foes, the U.S. reminds me of the mighty Thor of superhero fame swinging his hammer violently against a cloud of gnats. In the process, some of those gnats will naturally die, but the result will still be an exhausted superhero and ever more gnats attracted by the heat and commotion of battle.

I first came across the phrase “using a sledgehammer to kill gnats” while looking at the history of U.S. airpower during the Vietnam War.  B-52 “Arc Light” raids dropped record tons of bombs on parts of South Vietnam and Laos in largely failed efforts to kill dispersed guerrillas and interdict supply routes from North Vietnam. Half a century later, with its laser- and GPS-guided bombs, the Air Force regularly touts the far greater precision of American airpower. Yet in one country after another, using just that weaponry, the U.S. has engaged in serial acts of overkill. In Afghanistan, it was the recent use of MOAB, the “mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon the U.S. has ever used in combat, against a small concentration of ISIS fighters. In similar fashion, the U.S. air war in Syria has outpaced the Russians and even the Assad regime in its murderous effects on civilians, especially around Raqqa, the “capital” of the Islamic State. Such overkill is evident on the ground as well where special ops raids have, this year, left civilians dead from Yemen to Somalia. In other words, across the Greater Middle East, Washington’s profligate killing machine is also creating a desire for vengeance among civilian populations, staggering numbers of whom, when not killed, have been displaced or sent fleeing across borders as refugees in these wars. It has played a significant role in unsettling whole regions, creating failed states, and providing yet more recruits for terror groups.

Leaving aside technological advances, little has changed since Vietnam. The U.S. military is still relying on enormous firepower to kill elusive enemies as a way of limiting (American) casualties. As an instrument of victory, it didn’t work in Vietnam, nor has it worked in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But never mind the history lessons. President Trump asserts that his “new” Afghan strategy — the details of which, according to a military spokesman, are “not there yet” — will lead to more terrorists (that is, gnats) being killed.

Since 9/11, America’s leaders, Trump included, have rarely sought ways to avoid those gnats, while efforts to “drain the swamp” in which the gnats thrive have served mainly to enlarge their breeding grounds.  At the same time, efforts to enlist indigenous “gnats” — local proxy armies — to take over the fight have gone poorly indeed.  As in Vietnam, the main U.S. focus has invariably been on developing better, more technologically advanced (which means more expensive) sledgehammers, while continuing to whale away at that cloud of gnats — a process as hopeless as it is counterproductive.

The Greatest Self-Defeating Force in History?

Incessant warfare represents the end of democracy. I didn’t say that, James Madison did.

I firmly believe, though, in words borrowed from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that “only Americans can hurt America.” So how can we lessen the hurt? By beginning to rein in the military. A standing military exists — or rather should exist — to support and defend the Constitution and our country against immediate threats to our survival. Endless attacks against inchoate foes in the backlands of the planet hardly promote that mission. Indeed, the more such attacks wear on the military, the more they imperil national security.

A friend of mine, a captain in the Air Force, once quipped to me: you study long, you study wrong. It’s a sentiment that’s especially cutting when applied to war: you wage war long, you wage it wrong. Yet as debilitating as they may be to militaries, long wars are even more devastating to democracies. The longer our military wages war, the more our country is militarized, shedding its democratic values and ideals.

Back in the Cold War era, the regions in which the U.S. military is now slogging it out were once largely considered “the shadows” where John le Carré-style secret agents from the two superpowers matched wits in a set of shadowy conflicts. Post-9/11, “taking the gloves off” and seeking knockout blows, the U.S. military entered those same shadows in a big way and there, not surprisingly, it often couldn’t sort friend from foe.

A new strategy for America should involve getting out of those shadowy regions of no-win war. Instead, an expanding U.S. military establishment continues to compound the strategic mistakes of the last 16 years. Seeking to dominate everywhere but winning decisively nowhere, it may yet go down as the greatest self-defeating force in history.

TomDispatch regular, William Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and history professor.  His personal blog is Bracing Views.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The American Military Uncontained

Featured image: Dr. Ruchama Marton in her home in Tel Aviv. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Ruchama Marton belongs to what you might call Generation 1.5 of Israel’s anti-occupation activists. She was slightly too young to belong to the small and avant-garde group that established the revolutionary socialist organization Matzpen in the 1960s, but old enough to have taken classes with firebrand Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz in Jerusalem. There, while at medical school, she revolutionized the admissions process for female students, leading to the abolishing of admissions quotas. And when she discovered there as ban on women wearing trousers at the medical faculty, she revolted against that as well.

Marton founded Physicians for Human Rights-Israel during the First Intifada, bringing the term “human rights” into the Israeli political discourse. Born in Israel, where she has lived her whole life, she has been an active psychiatrist for more than 40 years. Her relationship with this place is complicated and painful, almost impossible.

Marton minces no words when it comes to the leftist and peace organizations, which she sees as a kind of “humane society,” seeing little point in activism that does not directly confront the violation of human rights, the core of which are political rights.

She has been outraged by injustice and segregation her whole life. Between fighting chauvinism and patriarchy, and the lifelong struggle against the occupation, she refuses to be silent.

I met Marton for a talk in her Tel Aviv home in honor of her 80th birthday. I assumed she wouldn’t make it easy for me. I was right.

As a psychiatrist with years of experience, I want to start with what I think is the big question. Why are we so obsessively attached to dehumanizing Arabs? Why does it seem as if the greatest desire of this place is to deny the Palestinians any kind of recognition and legitimacy? After all there is no practical purpose for that at this point, we’ve already won.

“What do you mean it doesn’t serve a practical purpose? That’s nonsense. It serves all of the Zionist interests. Each and every one.”

Explain.

“First of all, we are colonialists. Zionism is colonialist. And the first thing a good colonialist does is dispossess. Dispossess of what? Of anything he can. Of what is important, of what serves him. Of land. Of natural resources. And, of course, of humanity. After all, it is obvious that in order to control someone else you have to take away their humanity.”

But hasn’t that project ended? It’s not as if we are in a war now and are about to conquer new territory. The War of Independence ended long ago. We won. We have already drawn borders. Why do we still need that mentality? 

“What borders? There are no borders, there will be no borders, and I don’t see that there is any intention to draw them now. But beyond that, dispossession is an unending task. Those occupied people, those dispossessed people, whether they are inside the Green Line or outside of it, they do not agree. They do not give up. They don’t agree to be dispossessed of their land, of their water, of their humanity. As Hannah Arendt said: without political rights there is no human being. Political rights come before everything else. Before the right to property, movement, assembly. Those are all very nice but they are secondary. Without political rights, everything you do is charity. Without political rights, there is nothing.”

Physicians for Human Rights volunteers provide first aid on the Israel-Egypt border. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Physicians for Human Rights volunteers provide first aid on the Israel-Egypt border. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Ruchama’s family came to Israel from a rural region in Poland. Both of her parents grew up in religious homes, like most Jews at that time, certainly the ones who lived outside of the big cities. Her father was so enthralled by communist ideas, she says, that for months he secretly saved money to be able to go to Russia in the 1920s.

“The night before he was about to leave,” she says, “his father walked into his room and said: ‘I know you have been saving money and I know what for. I want to ask you to promise me one thing: do you want to go? Go. Go to America, go to Palestine. Just promise me that you will not go to Russia. They’ll kill you.’ My dad promised and kept his promise.”

Your parents settled in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. You were born in 1937. Do you remember the British Mandate in Jerusalem? 

“Of course. I remember the Australian soldiers patrolling the streets, and walking to the Western Wall with my grandmother. We would walk through the Old City past the Arab merchants; there was no fear. There was no great friendship either, but there was no fear.

“In Jerusalem there was a curfew every night. I remember one night when I stayed over at a girlfriend’s house until after curfew, and I went out into the street and started walking home. An Australian soldier called to me, but I didn’t understand what he was saying, since I didn’t speak English. He caught up with me and tried to understand what I was doing there, where I was going.

“He was a giant, probably six ft. tall. I don’t know how it happened, but he took my hand and walked me home. A little girl with a giant Australian soldier.

“The grandmother who used to take me with her to the Western Wall was killed by a shell in the beginning of the War of Independence. She went out to bring water in a bucket to a neighbor who had small children and was hit by a shell fired by the Arabs a shell fired by the Arabs. A little later we moved to Tel Aviv, which was a completely different world.

“Tel Aviv was much different from Jerusalem. It had a feeling of strangeness and wildness. We lived in an area on the outskirts of town; there were hardly any houses there. It was surrounded by Arab orchards, gardens, and fields of sugarcane growing toward the Yarkon River. It was another world.”

Did you have any friends in Tel Aviv? It must not have been easy.

“I didn’t know anybody here, of course. And in that generation parents and children hardly spoke to one another. But in the house across from us, the only house close by, there was an Arab family. They had an orchard, a garden, and a small herd of sheep and goats.

“They had two children, Zeidin, who was about a year younger than me, and Fatima, who was a bit older than me. They were my best friends. We used to play together, spend our days together in the orchards and in nature. I loved them.

“At the end of 1947 soldiers came and evicted the family. I remember standing and watching that scene unfold. They loaded what little belongings they had and their old grandmother on a donkey and set off for the east. Their house still exists to this day — it was turned into a synagogue.”

In the 1956 Sinai War you also saw things that left a deep mark on you.

“The murder of prisoners by the soldiers in my unit, Givati.”

What happened there? 

“In the days following the Israeli invasion of the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian soldiers continued to surrender. They would come out of the sand dunes, sometimes barefoot, black from the desert sun, dirt, and sweat, with their hands up.

“Our soldiers shot them. Dozens of them, maybe more. That’s just what I saw. They would come down from the dunes and the soldiers lifted their guns and killed them.”

And what did they do with them? Did they just leave them on the sand?

“Yes. It left me sick. Physically sick. I vomited and was in a terrible state. I went to my commander and asked for a leave. I told him it was because of what happened. Needless to say, he completely ‘did not know’ what I was talking about. But he approved my leave and I hitchhiked home.

“I wanted to talk about what happened. I wanted to publish it, but nobody agreed. They told me to leave it alone. I had friends who worked at newspapers, and I thought, naïvely, that they might want to publish it. Nobody agreed to touch it. When I was 19 I already knew that what they told me about Zionism and the army was a pile of lies.”

An Internet search about the killing of prisoners during the Sinai War led to several links, including an interview with Brig. Gen. Arieh Biro, who admitted that he and his soldiers murdered Egyptian prisoners during that war. I can only assume that the murders that took place were far more common and serious than the ones found in the “inquiry” ordered by Shimon Peres in 1995.

After the army you went to medical school. At the time there were quotas for women. 

“Yes. There was a quota and they didn’t want a lot of women to become doctors. So they limited them to a 10 percent quota. I waged a struggle against that along with other students and faculty members, leading to the cancellation of the quota. Since then women are admitted to medical school in Israel based on their qualifications, just like men.”

After all of your years working with human psychology and the conflict, do you see any change? f I understand you correctly, despite the tremendous propaganda skills Israel has developed, despite the ongoing brainwashing, from what you’re saying it seems that it was the same in the 1950s.  

“First of all, Zionism and what a human being is are two things that don’t intersect. But there has been no essential change here. It’s more of the same. It’s true that the Zionist propaganda machine would make the Soviets proud, but the essence of the beliefs about basic things, about the treatment of the Arabs and their place — those beliefs have not changed.”

A mental health revolutionary

At 80, Marton is still an active psychiatrist. In her many years in the profession, she has advocated and campaigned to take mental health care out of the psychiatric hospitals and bring it into the community.

I was very surprised that there was someone in Israel talking about psychiatric care as part of the community. It actually means normalizing mental health. 

“Why shouldn’t there be a psychiatric clinic inside the neighborhood health clinic? There should be an optometrist, an ENT, and a psychiatrist. In exactly the same place, at the same level, in the same corridor, with the same concept.”

You believed in this very early in your career, and you took concrete steps to make it happen.

“I was the first person in Israel who brought a proposal to the medical establishment – I went all the way to Shimon Peres and others, I told them that mental health clinics do not need to be in psychiatric hospitals. It’s a disaster, no less. People have that terrible stigma that deters them from entering a psychiatric hospital.

“There was one director, Davidson (Prof. Shamai Davidson, Director of the Shalvata Hospital from 1973-1986. He moved to Israel from Dublin in 1955 – A.M.), he really was a saint; he really understood and supported the idea of community-based psychiatric care. The concept of community is something he brought with him from the diaspora. He listened to me with an open heart and was the one who carried out that revolution and led to the opening of a psychiatric treatment clinic at a clinic in Morasha, and then in Ramat Hasharon, and from there it just spread.

To this day the project has not been completed. But we did break that initial wall.

Do you know how many people don’t ask for help because the clinic is located inside a psychiatric hospital? And then what happens? They break down and get hospitalized. Great! We got what we wanted.”

I’m listening to what you’re saying and thinking: there is something justified about people’s fear of the psychiatric system. Something about the system’s perception of itself and of the patient — it’s sick.

“That’s very true. That was what I was fighting for. But today my fighting days are behind me. After 30 or 40 years, I’ve had enough. Maybe I didn’t succeed in everything, but I did in some things. I’m very proud of it.”

Do you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or about the Zionist story, in psychological terms? The story of murdering prisoners, for example, the likes of which I heard from people close to me, fills me with deep shame. 

“I am fascinated by the subject of shame. It is the emotion I have worked with most for years. I believe that without shame there is no hope for the world — there is no human being. Without shame a person can do anything. One of the things that has happened to us is that we have lost all shame. The soldiers who shot the prisoners were not ashamed. That is why they did what they did.”

Where else do you see examples of such shamelessness? 

Marton seen with Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, founder of the Gaza Mental Health Foundation in the early days of Physicians for Human Rights. (Physicians for Human Rights)

Marton seen with Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, founder of the Gaza Mental Health Foundation in the early days of Physicians for Human Rights. (Physicians for Human Rights)

“In my profession. Palestinians who were involved in terrorism, or at least accused of it, are sent to psychiatric evaluation. You might be surprised to hear this, but there are simply no Palestinians with mental illnesses — at least not the kinds that prevent them from being tried by Israel. Palestinians do not have the right to be crazy.”

Israeli psychiatrists examine Palestinian defendants and know that they suffer from various psychiatric conditions, yet they still declare them competent to stand trial?

“Of course they know. And how do I know that they know? Because after they are tried and sent to prison, they receive medication for schizophrenia. And these are not errors of ignorance. I’m talking about good doctors. Yet still they give ridiculous and erroneous diagnoses.

“I went there and saw for myself. I spoke to prisoners. I wrote about it in the newspaper at the time. I was disciplined by the Israel Medical Association for naming doctors who were involved in such diagnoses. They intended to sue me but they decided to let it go so as not to expose the public to all of the dirty tricks that go on behind closed doors. I was then forced to write a letter of apology. I wrote the letter, which included two lines of apology followed by a full account of the things I knew, including the mistaken diagnoses and what was behind them. That letter has not been published to this day.”

That was not the end of Marton’s and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s trouble with the Israeli Medical Association and the Israeli establishment. In 2009 the Association announced it was cutting ties with PHRI, after the organization accused Israeli doctors of taking part in torture. Furthermore, the Tax Authority has refused to renew the organization’s status as a public institution for tax purposes, ever since it published a statement according to which the occupation is a violation of human rights — including the right to health. According to the Tax Authority, such statements are deemed “political.”

Medicine is a political issue 

How did Physicians for Human Rights-Israel begin? 

“When I wanted to do something practical, something political, I used that which was most available to me: medicine. I contacted a Palestinian medical organization. Palestinian volunteers used to go out to treat people in the field, and I joined them.

Marton rides along with and volunteers on the way a Physicians for Human Rights trip to the West Bank. (Physicians for Human Rights)

Marton rides along with and volunteers on the way a Physicians for Human Rights trip to the West Bank. (Physicians for Human Rights)

“After a while I began organizing volunteers from Israel. I had to beg people to go out with me on Saturday mornings. At first I managed to get two people, which felt like a huge achievement. Now around 30 volunteers go out [to the West Bank] with the mobile clinic.

“I made the organization’s rules: it is always us and the Palestinians together. It is never a delegation of white colonialists going out to rescue the natives. We work together in full agreement with our Palestinian partners; they say where they need us, and in the absolute majority of cases that is where we go.”

And where do you work? It’s not as if they have organized clinics.

“Clinics? There are hardly any clinics in those villages, and the ones that exist are small and unsuitable for big teams like ours. We use schools and offices of local councils. And you don’t need to make some big announcement — word gets around in the village and in the nearby villages. First thing on Saturday morning, there are already too many people.”

What treatments do you provide?

“Anything that one can do in the field, including relatively simple surgeries. We bring donated medications with us, and write prescriptions for medications we don’t have. When there is a need for complicated exams we refer to different hospitals in the Palestinian Authority and Israel. That also involved many years of struggle.”

The State of Israel never considered itself responsible for the health of those it occupied.

“Right. But until Oslo, or until the First Intifada, there were Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which became Israeli government hospitals after 1967. There was a very limited medical budget, nothing like in a normal country. But, for example, there was a vaccination budget. Paradoxically, in the refugee camps, the situation was much better, since they were under the responsibility of UNRWA.

When the First Intifada broke out, one of the decisions made by then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin was to stop the budget for Palestinian medical services. When I heard about this I flew to London and showed up at the offices of the BBC. I told them about the situation in the occupied territories, and they sent a team to do a brief item about that decision and its outcome, namely people dying in their homes because of the lack of medical care. The uproar convinced Rabin to restore at least part of the budget.”

Go home, get dressed

A few days ago there was a photo in the newspaper of the head of the Mossad visiting the home of the U.S. national security advisor. All the people in the photo were men. I’m really happy to say that such a photo looks strange to me today. 

“That brings me back again to the subject of segregation. That is how people are taught to think about themselves. That separation, the fact that there is a women’s gallery [in synagogue], and now they want separation in the army and the universities too. Segregation is the root of all evil.

“My first wars were not over the Palestinian issue. They were feminist, even though I didn’t call it that at the time.”

You are a proud woman.

“Not enough. I mean I’m too proud to ask for credit, and sometimes I’m full of resentment that I don’t get it. For example, I was the first one to introduce the concept of “human rights” into the Israeli discourse. Before that there were “civil rights,” but human rights as a political concept is my work.”

Yet you still don’t feel comfortable demanding recognition.

“That’s right. Maybe it’s the result of my feminine education. Not feminist, feminine. The kind that teaches women not to stand out. To be nice, smile, not to get angry. To never start a sentence with the word ‘I.’ That’s how women are raised.”

You are outraged by chauvinism. It’s not that different from your outrage at the occupation.

“My whole life I had to contend with stigmas and separate rules for women. With the fact that women were not allowed to wear pants in medical school in the Jerusalem cold. When I showed up with pants one female lecturer said to me: “Young lady, go home, get dressed properly and come back.” I went home and I didn’t come back. I raised hell, ad in the end I won.”

Criticism of all sides

 You are very critical of the Israeli Left and the way it confronts the occupation.

“There is no Israeli Left. What we need to do is start Israel’s human rights organizations from scratch so that they are willing to fight to end apartheid. Apartheid that distinguishes between those who have everything and those who have nothing. Those who are allowed everything and those who are forbidden everything. If they are unwilling to undertake that fight, what are they fighting for? For their own self image.

“You can’t fight colonialism, occupation, apartheid — call it what you want — by playing in the government’s court, according to the government’s agenda. You must breach those boundaries.”

The Labor Party actually maintained the occupation for 10 whole years and didn’t do anything about it.

“Don’t say Mapai didn’t do anything. They were the ones who established the settlements. Begin was the only righteous leader we have had. I mean it. Under his rule torture was completely forbidden. When the head of the Shin Bet came to him and asked ‘Sir, not even a slap?’ He said: ‘No. Not even a slap.’

“Begin forbade demolishing houses, he forbade expulsion. He was the only righteous man in Sodom. There was not a single righteous man either before him or after him.”

I always thought, and still think, that the normal moderate Revisionist Right is the camp with the best chances of treating the Arabs humanely. 

“I don’t want humane treatment of the Arabs. I want political rights. After that you can be humane or whatever you want. Without political you continue to be a colonialist, an occupier, an apartheidist.

“A human rights organization that is not willing to fight for that is howling at the moon. It is meaningless.”

In a sense you are also talking about yourself. This is also a personal reckoning.

“That’s right. I’m talking to you after 30 or maybe 50 years of fighting the occupation. We need outside help. And I’m talking mainly about one thing: BDS.”

Working in Israel for that cause is not easy.

She laughs. “It’s a matter for traitors, and today’s traitors are tomorrow’s heroes. Anyone who is not willing to pay that price does not know how to fight. If you don’t pay a price you are fighting only for your own beautiful image. As long as the occupation continues, as long as apartheid continues, it doesn’t matter if you are a little more or less beautiful.”

Physician for Human Rights volunteers hand out medication from a mobile clinic in the West Bank. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Physician for Human Rights volunteers hand out medication from a mobile clinic in the West Bank. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

She stops to think for a moment.

“We have to fight the idea of segregation, because it separates between me and the political, between the Arab and his land, between the Arab and his human dignity. Segregation is the wound. It is the axis around which things revolve.”

Even though Jews brought the idea of segregation here with them. After all, there are all kinds of segregation among the Jews themselves, along ethnic, religious, and political lines. 

“There surely is segregation here on all levels. After all, we are divided here into first-class and second-class Jews, and beneath them are Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Palestinians in the West Bank are even lower. At the very bottom of the ladder are the asylum seekers and the refugees (Physicians for Human Rights holds an “Open Clinic” that provides medical care to refugees and asylum seekers, A.M.).

“Segregation exists within our society as a central political principal. If we cancel segregation, then what? It will be a political disaster for the regime — not just for the Right.

“When I think about what my organization has done — about the trips to Gaza, about handing out medicine out of solidarity, about managing to shatter segregation — that has our biggest achievement.”

Alon Mizrahi is a writer and a blogger at Local Call, where this article was first published in Hebrew. Read it here. Translated from the original Hebrew by Shoshana London Sappir.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on War Crimes and Open Wounds: The Physician Who Took on Israeli Segregation

It should not come as a shock that Equifax, one of the three big agencies that track credit status, has failed to protect the data it has on 143 million people. Nor should it be surprising that the company didn’t inform its affected customers for six weeks after discovering that hackers had gained access to their private information. Collecting, selling and sometimes misusing mountains of sensitive data for decades, Equifax has evidently become too big to care.

Instead, three executives sold $1.8 million of their company shares days after the company discovered the problem, more than a month before it was made public.

“If that happened, somebody needs to go to jail,” threatened Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee.

In the days following the breach announcement Equifax shares dropped 20 percent.

At first, the company wanted customers to pay for a freeze to their accounts. That would protect their personal data. But after a deluge of complaints, the offer changed, with Equifax opting instead to waive fees for customers who want to freeze their credit files — but only until November 21. Going forward, it could face the largest class action lawsuit in history, with the potential to bankrupt the company.

When I first looked into Equifax in 1978, it was already a corporate force, with 1,800 offices, 14,000 employees, and a nationwide investigative system maintaining dossiers on 46 million people. The oldest of the three largest US credit agencies, it had revenues of $275 million a year. Equifax’s services at the time ranged from credit reporting, insurance investigations and underwriting to motor vehicle data tracking and assorted “management system services” – aka private investigations.

Today Equifax holds information on more than 800 million consumers and almost 90 million businesses. Operating in 14 countries it produces annual revenues of more than $3 billion. On the other hand, the employee roster is down to about 9,000.

Founded in 1899, Equifax had not fully committed to computers by the late 1970s. But an industry transition was underway. In Vermont, the Credit Bureau of Burlington had taken an early lead, working with Trans-Union Systems, a national computer network used by retailers and credit card companies. Data flowed in multiple directions, with stores seeking information on potential customers and other clients using the data those businesses amassed.

1978 investigative feature

Before the digital age, collecting information and creating a customer profile — to establish what was known as “creditworthiness” — involved a larger staff and considerable legwork. For Equifax “field investigators” it meant conducting interviews, with the subject as well as friends and neighbors. From courts and police departments they gathered any criminal information, while desk-bound staffers clipped newspapers and gathered reports. To complete a dossier, an investigator might talk to your employers, hunt down old government records, or even strike up conversations with local shop keepers.

But mass producing customer dossiers (investigators worked on up to 40 a day), particularly profiles that included not just hard data but also tidbits of gossip, could lead to mistakes and abuses. Creditworthiness was a slippery concept, an imprecise composite of job patterns, credit and bank accounts, character, habits, family status and morals. As a result, Equifax was hit with a batch of lawsuits during the 1970s, losing some and quietly settling others.

One Michigan woman collected $321,000 when the company falsely reported that she was an excessive drinker. Another woman from South Dakota won a settlement when Equifax said that the money for her new Chevy had come from prostitution — also proven false.

There was also the California insurance broker who won $250,000 when Equifax investigators alleged she was dishonest. In New Jersey there was trouble when State Farm refused coverage to a Princeton faculty member after Equifax reported (accurately but irrelevantly) that she was living with a man “without the benefit of wedlock.”

At times, Equifax operated like a private detective agency. In at least one case, it was caught helping a corporation to obtain gossip about a critic. An executive at American Home Products, a major drug manufacturer, had hired the company to dig into the personal affairs of Jay Constantine, a congressional staffer who was helping to write legislation opposed by Big Pharma.

This was before the Retail Credit Company of Atlanta, Georgia changed its name to Equifax. After 77 years in business, the 1976 rebranding was prompted by all the bad press, including a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit filed in 1975. The charges, as outlined for me by an FTC staffer, included illicit use of consumer information, failure to disclosure terms, and false and misleading advertising.

The technology of data gathering has changed since then, but the shabby tactics have survived. In 2000, Equifax, along with Experian and TransUnion, was fined $2.5 million for blocking and delaying phone calls from consumers trying to obtain information about their credit. In 2013, a federal jury in Oregon awarded $18.6 million to Julie Miller against Equifax for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

In contrast, Equifax has had no problem sharing files and data with the FBI and other government agencies, according to George O’Toole, a former CIA agent. While reporting on Vermont’s private intelligence industry, I was told that Equifax tended to hire ex-State Police officers, possibly because they might have access to government information that was off limits to the public.

Another ex-CIA operative, Harry Murphy, claimed that Equifax was especially useful to federal agencies. The draw was its enormous files of auto and life insurance applicants. Even back in the 1970s, however, big data transfers between public and private entities were difficult to control, and law enforcement and intelligence officers often moved into the private sector after retirement, or for the paycheck.

The emerging private dossier industry was run largely by law enforcement and intelligence alumni, an Old Boy Network that closely linked it with government operations. The data moved freely, but the potential for mischief was not widely recognized.

During my research into the activities of Equifax and other big data agencies, I also heard about an odd encounter with Earl Hanson, a Barre resident who applied for insurance with Colonial Penn Mutual. In return he received a letter from Equifax asking for more information about an auto accident he had forgotten to report. Hanson was cooperative, explaining all about hitting a deer. But the exchange made him curious to know what else they had discovered about him, from the Motor Vehicles Department or anywhere else.

After writing to the company’s Dataflo center and to the New Hampshire branch office, however, Hanson was told that Equifax actually had no file on him. Unsatisfied with that response, he filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. But the State lost interest, eventually closing the case, and Equifax didn’t share any further information. As usual, it was too big to care.

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of “Dons of Time,” “Uneasy Empire,” “Spirits of Desire,” “Big Lies,” and “The People’s Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.” His latest book is “Green Mountain Politics: Restless Spirits, Popular Movements.”

This article was originally published by Greg Guma / For Preservation & Change.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Data Insecurities: Why Equifax Hasn’t Been Credit Worthy. “Holds Information on 800 Million Consumers and almost 90 Million Businesses”

Recently I was asked whether, if Trump succeeded in undermining the Joint Plan of Collective Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, whether Iran would reply by going for broke to create a nuclear weapon. A related question is whether a collapse of the JCPOA would strengthen Iran’s hard liners.

Here is what I said.

Iran’s clerical leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will not allow development of a nuclear weapon. He has repeatedly given fatwas or considered legal opinions that making, stockpiling and using nuclear weapons contravenes Islamic law. In formal Islamic law, you cannot target civilians. The Qur’an says, “Fight those who fight you.” In Iran’s Shiite Islam, by the way, only defensive jihad or holy war is allowed. An atomic bomb, as the US demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, kills very large numbers of innocent civilians. Khamenei can’t climb down from decades of such fatwas without undermining his clerical authority and hence the foundations of his entire regime. Saying he secretly wants a bomb is like asserting that Pope Francis has a covert condom factory in the Vatican basement.

Ali Khamenei Nowruz message official portrait 1397 02.jpg

Ali Hosseini Khamenei (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Iran has never had the aim of creating a bomb or it would have one by now.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and hard line scientists and engineers tried to finesse Khamenei. They seem to have convinced him to allow them to developing facilities and experiments leading to expertise and capabilities with regard to nuclear weapon production. This capability amounts to what specialists call nuclear latency or the “Japan option.” That is, if the world knows you could slap together a nuclear bomb tout de suite, they are less likely to invade you. Everyone knows Japan has stockpiles of plutonium and technical know-how, and that they could produce a nuclear weapon in short order if they felt really threatened. Trump even encouraged them to go this route.

The Iranian hard liners likewise wanted a deterrence effect via a short time-line to a break-out capacity, i.e. potential bomb production, especially after the US invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. As long as they didn’t actually make a bomb, they could escape the ayatollah’s wrath.

Because of Obama’s severe sanctions from 2012, a short time-like to break-out incurred unacceptable costs for nuclear doves like Rouhani, who got Khamenei’s ear and warned him of civil unrest a la 2009 if sanctions continued. Iran was kicked off currency exchanges and had trouble selling its oil, being forced to reduce exports by 1 mn. barrels per day, from 2.5 mn. b/d down to 1.5. (It is back up to exporting 2.6 million barrels per day of petroleum and condensates, but the price has collapsed).

The compromise reached in the JCPOA by the UN Security Council plus Germany was that Iran could keep latency, i.e. the expertise for a Japan option, but had to lengthen its time-line to break-out. It bricked in and abandoned its planned heavy water reactor at Arak. It limited the number of its centrifuges. It destroyed stockpiles of uranium enriched to 19.5% for its medical isotopes reactor. It consented to regular inspections of its facilities by the UN. (Plutonium signatures can be detected months later and no matter how you try to vacuum up the particles, so Iran really can’t cheat as long as it is inspected).

Iran retained latency capabilities and nothing in JCPOA forbade them. What JCPOA insisted on was a long production time-line rather than a short one, i.e. 6 to 8 months rather than a few weeks.

As long as Iran does not ramp up production capabilities to shorten the break-out time-line, it is in compliance.

The cult, the Mojahedin-e Khalq or MEK, i.e the People’s Jihadis, is now pushing a line that something sinister is going on at the Parchin military base. The UN inspectors visited it in 2015 and are not interested in going there again. The Non-Proliferation Treaty excluded inspections of military facilities at US and USSR insistence, and the JCPOA followed that legal tradition. The MEK, which is a small terrorist organization that wants to overthrow the Iranian government in favor of its mixture of Shiite fundamentalism and Marxism, has some sort of shadowy and creepy relationship with AIPAC and the Israel lobbies. Giuliani regularly speaks for big bucks at their meetings. This sort of thing is much more suspicious than the Russian connection.

If, however, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the agency charged with inspecting Iran, wanted to visit Parchin again, centrist President Hassan Rouhani would allow it. Transparency benefits him.

The IAEA does not want to visit Parchin because they think the optics of such a request at this time would aid Trump hawks in undermining JCPOA.

By signing the deal, Iran gave up substantial deterrence effects of nuclear latency for the sake of ending sanctions and reducing tensions, by accepting a long break-out time-line. That is, its leaders accepted a situation where the country was somewhat more likely to be invaded or the government overthrown by hostile great powers like the US.

Iran has received almost nothing in return. The GOP Congress, taking its cue from the Israel lobby, has actually ratcheted up US sanctions on Iran, which is a violation of the JCPOA. Moreover, the Trump people have rattled sabers and spooked European investors. Nobody wants to be sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury, which has in the past fined European firms billions of dollars for doing business with Iran. There has been a small uptick of Iranian trade with Europe and Asia, but the hard liners are slamming Rouhani for giving away the country’s security and returning empty-handed.

Now Trump is inventing some special US certification procedure for Iran compliance, which is not in the JCPOA, and is aimed at undermining it. I doubt Europe will go along with this scam. Maybe someone should inspect the unsafe thousands of US nuclear warheads. Iran does not have any.

Nuclear Israel is threatening to bomb Damascus over Iran’s Syria presence, and is pressuring Russia to expel Iran. The JCPOA weakened Iran vis-a-vis Israel by reducing the deterrence effects of latency. The world community, which tried to reduce Iran to a fourth world country for merely doing some nuclear experiments, has actively rewarded Israel for flouting the Non-Proliferation Treaty and building a stockpile of some 400 nuclear warheads, with which it occasionally menaces its neighbors.

So yes, all this strengthens hard liners and weakens Rouhani.

But China and Russia want the JCPOA and Iran is unlikely to try to get a bomb both for this reason and because of Khomeinist commitments (Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, called nukes the tools of the devil, and his successor, Ali Khamenei, agrees).

However, hard liners could try to shorten the break-out window again if they felt the West had severely violated the terms of the deal.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on What Will Iran Do if Trump Tears Up the Nuclear Agreement?

Featured image: Rebel Wilson (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

There is very little to be gained pondering whether celebrity journalism should be protected with the zeal that some of its advocates do. A person with the dirt-directed fanaticism of a Piers Morgan is not to be treasured and his court losses in defamation actions have, at times, warranted jubilation. But nor do the victors – in one notable case, Naomi Campbell – warrant our cheers either. Both, in one sense, are made for each other.

The problem, as with anything to do with areas of expression, is how far celebrity acts as a veil to draw upon criticism and comment. Orgies, proclivities and perversions, while interesting to some members of the public, are hardly in the public interest. What a clueless celebrity does with her money or sense is hardly of interest to the finer interests of a deliberating public. The only thing left in all of this is pure, unalloyed malice.

The Australian actress Rebel Wilson has had a stroke of astonishing judicial luck. In June this year, a jury of six examined a series of eight articles published in Woman’s Day and Australian Women’s Weekly suggesting, in no uncertain terms, that Wilson was a “serial liar” on matters touching on age, name and other aspects of her background.

Bauer Media, the umbrella company owning both publications, were also told that they had published the articles knowing the assertions to be untrue, yet still maximising the print and online run to catch website traffic with the release of Pitch Perfect 2 in May 2015.

Justice Dixon was sympathetic to Wilson, suggesting that the dizzyingly large award of $4.56 million was necessary “to convince the public that Ms Wilson is not a dishonest person and bestow vindication in accordance with the jury’s verdict.”[1]

Not that Bauer Media had a confident legal foot to stand on. Australian jurisdictions tend to be happy hunting grounds for defamation actions. Even if Bauer Media could show that qualified privilege applied (effectively a duty to publish defamatory information), it would still fail for having been published for a large audience. It would also have to be “reasonable”.

What strikes a chord of unintended humour in the verdict is the very assertion that a thespian could possibly have a complaint about being accused of lying, averse, as it were, to the verity of things. The very basis of acting, it might be argued, is the grand lie, the illusion, artful dissimulation. To suffer damages for being accused of engaging in exactly what one excels at is an odd measure by any stretch.

This makes Justice Dixon’s ruling on marketability even more peculiar.

“Ms Wilson’s reputation as an actress of integrity was wrongly damaged in a manner that affected her marketability in a huge, worldwide marketplace.”

This entailed accepting the tenuous argument that the articles had a direct, causal relationship with a supposed career dive. (Wilson, before taking a different angle, initially insisted that missing out on roles in such wonders as Kung Fu Panda and Trolls was directly attributable to the articles.)

The good judge also decided to engage in something that would have even made a reader of tarot cards blush. Wilson, the judge was swayed, could have ended up with anywhere from up to four roles after Pitch Perfect 2.

Each could garner up to $USD5 million each, or so the astrologists of the celebrity scene suggested. Justice Dixon, after chewing over the issue of roles, went for three (oh, why not?), discounted the value accounting for agent fees, tax and Wilson’s relationship with her company, yielding a handsome fee of just under $USD3 million (a tickle under $4 million in Australian currency). General damages, comprising aggravated damages, were added to the ledger, topping $650,000, making the payout a truly renting one for Bauer Media and the largest in Australian defamation history.

The media company evidently did itself few favours. It had refused an offer of settlement with Wilson for a distinctly more modest $200,000. It had refused to provide a right of reply, or apologise, and bore a good set of fangs against her during the 20 days of legal proceedings. It was certainly personal for Wilson, who claimed that Bauer Media had “viciously tried to take me down with a series of false articles.”[2]

Plato expended some effort to explain why the performing poet or thespian would have no place in his ideal Republic, largely because anyone who fabricates a role, a sort of homo faber of identity, must be treated with due suspicion:

“It seems, then, that if a man, who through clever training can become anything and imitate anything, should arrive in our city, wanting to give a performance of his poems, we should bow down before him as someone holy, wonderful, and pleasing, but we should tell him that there is no one like him in our city and that it isn’t lawful for there to be. We should pour myrrh on his head, crown him with wreaths, and send him way to another city” (The Republic, Book III, 398a).

Admittedly, Plato left room for a concession: that

“we ourselves should employ a more austere and less pleasure-giving poet and story-teller, one who would imitate the speech of a more decent person and who would tell his stories in accordance with the patterns we laid down when we first undertook the education of our soldiers.”

In Wilson’s case, she has received myrrh on her head, crowned and duly congratulated in pursuing the press jackals with such enthusiasm. Not sending her on her way or perhaps admitting her as one of the approved story tellers of her age, may well curtail an already uninteresting area of journalistic snark – but it would be foolish to wholeheartedly rejoice in the demise of the errant gossip scribblers.

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

Notes

[1] http://assets.justice.vic.gov.au/supreme/resources/f4da7c3c-b502-40db-8773 e3af8b4760f4/rebelwilsonvbauermediafinaljudgment130917.pdf

[2] http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/rebel-wilsons-abysmal-pay-for-early-hollywood-roles/news-story/8bcb33af5e5c11d8900676590bf9e88a

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Damaging Damages: Australia’s Actress Rebel Wilson’s Defamation Case

“Today, we talk a lot about terrorism, but we rarely talk about state terrorism.” – Bianca Jagger

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) advance on Deir Ezzor will go down as a modern example of a combined operations success against ISIS, the best armed and trained proxy terrorist force that we have seen yet. The ISIS has put up a tough fight against both Russian and Syrian airpower when it had none itself, other than the occasional favor supplied by the US coalition to bomb SAA forces “by mistake”, and then supplying the magical helicopters to extract its ISIS proxy terror commanders.

All the modern combat tools were needed to keep Syrian casualties as low as possible to maintain morale, which has been critical to sustaining this six plus years long war. Signals intelligence has played a key role in not only identifying commander centers, but also when they would have the most high value targets in them to take out.

When the big push to break the ISIS siege line came, we saw the Russian submarines used to fire Kaliber missiles for the initial overnight strikes where dawn revealed the attacked ISIS positions as abandoned but equipment abandoned. Daylight found that planes and helicopters were brought in to strike all ISIS defensive points prior to their being stormed.

Both surrounded Syrian Army pockets have been relieved, and the Palmyra road fully secured to maintain the supplies needed to feed the hungry hostage population of Deir Ezzor and continue the offensive so that ISIS has no time to regroup.

The SAA strategy appears to be an encirclement one, so that fewer ISIS fighters can retreat to new defensive positions. We have reports of ISIS pulling back, retreating down the Euphrates, where we still do not know if the Iraqis will have the back door closed at Al-Bakumal.

We also have photographs of pontoon bridging at the front for an anticipated Euphrates river crossing with two possible goals – to get into the rear of ISIS on the East side of Deir-Ezzor, and to block the American-backed Kurds from grabbing the rich oil fields on that side. That woule be a stab in the Syria’s back if the Kurds have that intention, and something that could bring the SAA and SDF into conflict.

If the US were to provide the Kurdish SDF forces air support in such a conflict, what would the Russians then do to support the SAA? Conflict with the US has been carefully avoided up until this point, but one big mistake could send the air balance of power spiraling out of control to spoil the Syrian victory.

The Western and Gulf States attempt to Balkanize Syria has boomeranged on them, as a new, stronger Syria has emerged from the ashes, including a military with a huge amount of combined-operation combat experience.

The morale of the Syrian military is now sky high with the recent string of victories it has won over ISIS, while doing what any soldier’s dream would be – ridding one’s country from a foreign invader, which in this case should be called “invaders”.

I was able to meet the Speaker of the Syrian Parliament, Jihad Lahan, as part of the ten-person US monitoring group for the June 4th, 2014 elections. He told us at that time that Syria was holding jihadi prisoners from over 65 countries.

All of us were shocked, as we instantly realized that a World War being fought against Syria. We could not see then that Iran’s and Russia’s assistance would turn what appeared to be a hopeless struggle completely around. The real anti-terrorism coalition, Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, has been forged in fire and brimstone, and is now the template for others to follow if set upon by state-sponsored terrorist proxies.

First, you need an army structure that will resist the foreign offers to overthrow your own government in a coup and have secure positions in the new puppet government as the reward. You need allies to support you, not just verbally but with bayonets and bullets, and the proper anatomy to stand up to the major world power.

Such friends do not grow on trees, and neither do their motives have to be completely altruistic. Putin quite frankly borrowed an old American PR phrase from WWI, “Better to fight them over there”. The last figure I saw, the Russian command had killed 6000 jihadis from the former Soviet Union States that would not be returning to form new terror cadres in their home countries.

You also need modern weapons and all the technology both for offense and defense. A retired American general advising the insurgents was pulled out of Syria a few years ago by a SEAL team because the Syrians had picked up Intel in a captured convoy regarding who and where he was. The SEALs extracted him before the Syrian commando team preparing to capture him could act. Veterans Today got this information via parties who knew we would publish it, and we did.

So the Syrian victory is not solely theirs, as we all should benefit from the hard lessons they have learned and paid for dearly in blood and treasure. And one of those lessons is to not let the state-sponsors of the terror campaign against Syria get away unpunished, or they will just move their terror game to a new location.

What do I mean by that? How about REPARATIONS? At the last press conference at the 2014 Syrian elections, I presented some statistics that no one ever had before. I decided to extrapolate the Syrian casualties onto the US population, as that number, a huge one, would register on American brains more. The 400,000 number of Syrian dead would be 6 million Americans out of a 310 million population. And adding in just 5 wounded for every one killed would add another 30 million casualties to the KIAs.

What would America do if someone had inflicted a proxy terror war carnage on us encompassing 36 million killed and wounded. Would we nuke them? Sure we would, with no hesitation or dissent. So I ask you next, how many terror attacks did Syria launch here in the US for payback? The answer is zero.

One of our tasks in independent media is to help our audience wrap their minds around horrible things going on in the world, when the natural inclination for many is do exactly the opposite, especially when your own country is running with the bad guys. If you acknowledge it, then you would put yourself on the spot as to what you should do to stop it.

Jim W. Dean is managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Featured image is from the author.


Global Research announces the forthcoming release of  the print edition of Mark Taliano’s Book, “Voices from Syria”  which includes two additional chapters. 

Taliano talks and listens to the people of Syria. He reveals the courage and resilience of a Nation and its people in their day to day lives, after more than six years of US-NATO sponsored terrorism and three years of US “peacemaking” airstrikes.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Special Pre-Publication Offer

**Pre-Order Special Offer: Voices from Syria (Ships mid-September)

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 2 new chapters)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

Click to order

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Syrian Anti-terrorism Coalition Is Winning against ISIS-Daesh

The 1944 Bretton Woods international monetary system as it has developed to the present is become, honestly said, the greatest hindrance to world peace and prosperity. Now China, increasingly backed by Russia—the two great Eurasian nations—are taking decisive steps to create a very viable alternative to the tyranny of the US dollar over the world trade and finance. Wall Street and Washington are not amused, but they are powerless to stop it.

Shortly before the end of the Second World War, the US Government, advised by the major international banks of Wall Street, drafted what many mistakenly believe was a new gold standard. In truth, it was a dollar standard in which every other member currency of the International Monetary Fund countries fixed the value of their currency to the dollar. In turn, the US dollar was fixed then to gold at a value equal to 1/35th of an ounce of gold. At the time Washington and Wall Street could impose such a system as the Federal Reserve held some 75% of all world monetary gold as a consequence of the war and related developments. Bretton Woods established the dollar which then became the reserve currency of world trade held by central banks.

Death Agony of a Defective Dollar Standard

By the end of the 1960’s with soaring US Federal budget deficits from costs of the Vietnam War and other foolish spending, the dollar standard began to show its deep structural flaws. A recovered Western Europe and Japan no longer needed billions of US dollars for financing reconstruction. Germany and Japan had become world class export economies with higher efficiency than US manufacturing owing to a growing obsolescence of US basic industry from steel to autos and basic infrastructure. Washington should then have significantly devalued the dollar against gold in order to correct the growing world trade imbalance. Such a dollar devaluation would have boosted US manufacturing export earnings and reduced the trade imbalances. It would have been a huge pus for the real US economy. However for Wall Street banks it spelled huge losses. So instead, the Johnson and then Nixon administrations printed more dollars and in effect exported inflation to the world.

The central banks of especially France and Germany reacted to the deafness in Washington by demanding US Federal Reserve gold for their US dollar reserves at $35 per unce s in the Bretton Woods 1944 agreement. By August 1971 the redemption of gold for inflated US dollars had reached a crisis point where Nixon was advised by a senior Treasury official, Paul Volcker, to rip up the Bretton Woods system.

By 1973 gold was allowed by Washington to trade freely and was no longer the backing of a sound US dollar. Instead, an engineered oil price shock in October 1973 that sent the dollar price of oil higher by 400% in a matter of months, created what Henry Kissinger then called the petrodollar.

The world needed oil for the economy. Washington, in a 1975 deal with the Saudi monarchy, insured that Arab OPEC would refuse to sell one drop of their oil to the world for any currency other than US dollars. The value of the dollar soared against other currencies such as the German Mark or Japanese Yen. Wall Street banks were awash in petrodollar deposits. The dollar casino was open and running, and the rest of the world was being fleeced by it.

In my book, Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century, I detail how the major New York international banks such as Chase, Citibank and Bank of America used the petrodollars then to recycle Arab oil profits to oil-importing countries in the developing world during the 1970’s, laying the seeds for the so-called Third World Debt Crisis. Curiously, it was the same Paul Volcker, a protégé of David Rockefeller and Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank, who this time, in October, 1979 as Chairman of the Fed, triggered the 1980s debt crisis by pushing Fed interest rates through the roof. He lied and claimed it was to nip inflation. It was to save the dollar and the Wall Street banks.

Today, the dollar is a strange phenomenon to put it mildly. The United States since 1971 has gone from being a premier industrial nation to a giant debt-bloated casino of speculation.

With Fed Funds interest rates between zero and one percent the past nine years—unprecedented in modern history—the major banks of Wall Street, the ones whose financial malfeasance and murderous greed created the 2007 Subprime crisis and its 2008 global financial Tsunami, set about to build a new speculative bubble. Rather than lend to debt-bloated cities for urgently-needed infrastructure or other productive avenues of the real economy, instead they created another colossal bubble in the stock market. Major companies used cheap credit to buy their own stocks back, thereby spurring the stock prices on Wall Street exchanges, a rise fed by hype and myths about “economic recovery.” The S&P-500 stock index rose by 320% since the end of 2008. I can assure you those paper stock rises are not because the real US economy has grown 320%.

American households earn less in real terms each year over decades. Since 1988 median household income has been stagnant amid steadily rising inflation, a declining real income. They must borrow more than ever in history. Federal Government debt is at an unmanageable $20 trillion with no end in sight. American industry has been closed and production shipped offshore, “outsourced” is the euphemism. Left behind is a high-debt, rotted out “service economy” where millions work two even three part-time jobs just to keep afloat.

The only factor keeping the dollar from total collapse is the US military and Washington’s deployment of deceptive NGOs around the world to facilitate plundering of the world economy.

So long as Washington dirty tricks and Wall Street machinations were able to create a crisis such as they did in the Eurozone in 2010 through Greece, world trading surplus countries like China, Japan and then Russia, had no practical alternative but to buy more US Government debt—Treasury securities—with the bulk of their surplus trade dollars. Washington and Wall Street smiled. They could print endless volumes of dollars backed by nothing more valuable than F-16s and Abrams tanks. China, Russia and other dollar bond holders in truth financed the US wars that were aimed at them, by buying US debt. Then they had few viable alternative options.

Viable Alternative Emerges

Now, ironically, two of the foreign economies that allowed the dollar an artificial life extension beyond 1989—Russia and China—are carefully unveiling that most feared alternative, a viable, gold-backed international currency and potentially, several similar currencies that can displace the unjust hegemonic role of the dollar today.

For several years both the Russian Federation and the Peoples’ Republic of China have been buying huge volumes of gold, largely to add to their central bank currency reserves which otherwise are typically in dollars or euro currencies. Until recently it was not clear quite why.

For several years it’s been known in gold markets that the largest buyers of physical gold were the central banks of China and of Russia. What was not so clear was how deep a strategy they had beyond simply creating trust in the currencies amid increasing economic sanctions and bellicose words of trade war out of Washington.

Now it’s clear why.

China and Russia, joined most likely by their major trading partner countries in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), as well as by their Eurasian partner countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are about to complete the working architecture of a new monetary alternative to a dollar world.

Currently, in addition to founding members China and Russia, the SCO full members include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and most recently India and Pakistan. This is a population of well over 3 billion people, some 42% of the entire world population, coming together in a coherent, planned, peaceful economic and political cooperation.

If we add to the SCO member countries the official Observer States—Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia, states with expressed wish to formally join as full members, a glance at the world map will show the impressive potentials of the emerging SCO. Turkey is a formal Dialogue Partner exploring possible SCO membership application, as are Sri Lanka, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Nepal. This, simply said, is enormous.

BRI and a Gold-Backed Silk Road

Until recently Washington think tanks and the Government have sneered at the emerging Eurasian institutions such as SCO. Unlike BRICS which is not made up of contiguous countries in a vast land-mass, the SCO group forms a geographic entity called Eurasia. When Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the creation of what then was called the New Economic Silk Road at a meeting in Kazakhstan in 2013, few in the West took it seriously. The name officially today is the Belt, Road Initiative (BRI). Today, the world is beginning to take serious note of the scope of the BRI.

It’s clear that the economic diplomacy of China, as of Russia and her Eurasian Economic Union group of countries, is very much about realization of advanced high-speed rail, ports, energy infrastructure weaving together a vast new market that, within less than a decade at present pace, will overshadow any economic potentials in the debt-bloated economically stagnant OECD countries of the EU and North America.

What until now was vitally needed, but not clear, was a strategy to get the nations of Eurasia free from the dollar and from their vulnerability to further US Treasury sanctions and financial warfare based on their dollar dependence. This is now about to happen.

At the September 5 annual BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China, Russian President Putin made a simple and very clear statement of the Russian view of the present economic world. He stated,

“Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

To my knowledge he has never been so explicit about currencies. Put this in context of the latest financial architecture unveiled by Beijing, and it becomes clear the world is about to enjoy new degrees of economic freedom.

China Yuan Oil Futures

According to a report in the Japan Nikkei Asian Review, China is about to launch a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan that will be convertible into gold. This, when coupled with other moves over the past two years by China to become a viable alternative to London and New York to Shanghai, becomes really interesting.

China is the world’s largest importer of oil, the vast majority of it still paid in US dollars. If the new Yuan oil futures contract gains wide acceptance, it could become the most important Asia-based crude oil benchmark, given that China is the world’s biggest oil importer. That would challenge the two Wall Street-dominated oil benchmark contracts in North Sea Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil futures that until now has given Wall Street huge hidden advantages.

That would be one more huge manipulation lever eliminated by China and its oil partners, including very specially Russia. Introduction of an oil futures contract traded in Shanghai in Yuan, which recently gained membership in the select IMF SDR group of currencies, oil futures especially when convertible into gold, could change the geopolitical balance of power dramatically away from the Atlantic world to Eurasia.

In April 2016 China made a major move to become the new center for gold exchange and the world center of gold trade, physical gold. China today is the world’s largest gold producer, far ahead of fellow BRICS member South Africa, with Russia number two.

China has now established a vast storage center in the Chinese Qianhai Free Trade Zone next to Shenzhen, the city of some 18 million immediately north of Hong Kong on the Pearl River Delta. Now China is completing construction of a permanent gold vault facility, including a bonded warehouse, trading floor and related offices areas. The 105-year-old Hong Kong-based Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society is in a joint project with ICBC, China’s largest state bank and its largest gold importing bank, to create the Qianhai Storage Center. It begins to become clear why Washington deceptive NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy tried, unsuccessfully, to create an anti-Beijing Color Revolution, the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong in late 2014.

Now to add the new oil futures contract traded in China in Yuan with the gold backing will lead to a dramatic shift by key OPEC members, even in the Middle East, to prefer gold-backed Yuan for their oil over inflated US dollars that carry a geopolitical risk as Qatar experienced following the Trump visit to Riyadh some months ago. Notably, Russian state oil giant, Rosneft just announced that Chinese state oil company, CEFC China Energy Company Ltd. Just bought a 14% share of Rosneft from Qatar. It’s all beginning to fit together into a very coherent strategy.

The dollar imperium is in its painful death agony and its patriarchs are in reality denial otherwise known as the Trump presidency. Meanwhile the saner elements of this world are about building constructive, peaceful alternatives. They are even open to admit Washington, under honest rules, to join them. That’s remarkably generous isn’t it?

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Gold, Oil and De-Dollarization? Russia and China’s Extensive Gold Reserves, China Yuan Oil Market

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

September 14th, 2017 by Robert Parry

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on Feb. 11, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Library)

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that

“Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that

“Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote,

“We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations.

Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that

“Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

No one wants nuclear war, yet that is the trajectory the US and NATO are on with not just North Korea, but potentially China and Russia too, journalist John Pilger fears. In fact, he says the crisis over North Korea is just “a sideshow to the main game.”

On Tuesday, investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger spoke with RT America’s Natasha Sweatte about the seemingly escalating nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula.

RT: What are your thoughts on what the North Korean ambassador to Russia said today, that no sanctions will make North Korea change its policies, adding that North Korea’s nuclear program will help his country manage the “hostile policy” of the US? Don’t you think it’s just an excuse for Kim Jong-un to build up his arsenal?

John Pilger: Look, the problem is not North Korea. The problem is not Russia. The problem is not China. The problem is the United States.

There have been a number of agreements in the past, 1992, 1994, between North and South Korea to denuclearize Korea. The problem is the United States, and you have to look at this broadly. The problem for the rest of the world actually, now, is the containment of the United States. The US used to, during the first Cold War, talk about the containment of the Soviet Union, but no. It’s the containment of the United States and frankly, it always has been.

Yes, it’s an unpredictable regime, but there’s absolutely no doubt that if North Korea hadn’t developed nuclear weapons, it would’ve been attacked. Or the same thing would have happened, something similar would have happened to North Korea as happened to Libya and Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan.

RT: Will China help enforce the UN sanctions, and do you think the country feels alarmed over the recent actions coming out of Pyongyang?

JP: No, China is mostly alarmed by the United States, not by North Korea. It’s always been rather a worry that North Korea might provoke the United States, but even these sanctions that have gone through the Security Council, the United Nations sanctions, China has all ways of getting ’round them. They use Chinese currency, Chinese firms, so they don’t really work anyway. China’s main concern is that Pyongyang will provoke the United States, and that’s always, historically, that’s always been China’s concern.

RT: And speaking of sanctions to North Korea, why do you think the United Nations is targeting some of the country’s biggest remaining foreign revenue streams, but leaving its oil alone, which clearly, it would need for its huge military?

JP: I don’t know, frankly, and I don’t think it actually matters. Because, these sanctions are just going to not work on North Korea. North Korea has, over the years, developed a way of life, a way of development, a way of developing its strategic weapons, knowing that it’s going to be almost in a permanent state of siege. So, I don’t think any of these sanctions matter at all.

As I say, North Korea will be able to – they’ve stopped short at oil anyway – but North Korea will be supported by China. China just does it in a different way. They, instead of dealing with Koreans, deal with Chinese businessmen in Korea, so, like all sanctions, there are ways ‘round them.

Sanctions are irrelevant in a sense to this whole debate. What is needed is a peace treaty with North Korea, between the United States and North Korea and the government in Seoul.

But where it’s all heading is the most worrying thing of all. And we’ve just seen, although it’s not reported as far as I can tell in the United States, we’ve now seen a NATO document in Germany released by a research group there and in several of the German newspapers, that says that the whole question of whether NATO actually increases its nuclear weapons is the most important one.

And what this document is saying is that there is the beginning of the end of the intermediate range nuclear weapons treaty. That’s the most important treaty of the old Cold War. Once you take that away, then you’ve got the real threat of nuclear war between the great powers. So, in a way, North Korea is a sideshow to this. That’s the main game.

RT: And now it’s rumored that President Trump will visit China in November, and you know, he’s invited President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago and has said some nice things about the president. Why do you think China hasn’t really stepped in by now to try and help ease tensions between the US and North Korea. Does China have too much of a stake in North Korea financially?

JP: I think China has stepped in to ease tensions. China and Russia have a strategic plan that they put to the United States that has been dismissed out of hand, that says if the United States and the government in South Korea stop these provocative military exercises, that he include as they put it, the decapitation of the Pyongyang regime, if they stop these provocative exercises, then the current testing in North Korea itself will cease.

So, China and Russia have actually come forward with positive plans. As I said at the beginning, the real problem to all this is the containment of the world’s biggest nuclear power, the United States.

John Pilger is a journalist, film-maker and author, John Pilger is one of two to win British journalism’s highest award twice. For his documentary films, he has won an Emmy and a British Academy Award, a BAFTA. Among numerous other awards, he has won a Royal Television Society Best Documentary Award. His epic 1979 Cambodia Year Zero is ranked by the British Film Institute as one of the ten most important documentaries of the 20th century.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on North Korea Solution Depends on ‘Containment of the US’ – John Pilger

The UN Losing Poker Hand in Libya

September 14th, 2017 by Richard Galustian

Featured image: Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar

In poker, smart players know that the best thing to do with a weak hand is dump it.

Not so the United Nations. Libya is doubling down on backing the failing Government of National Accord (GNA), hoping that by reopening its UN base in the capital, the previously fortified “Palm City Complex,” things will improve.

They are also sending some sending in Gurkha “Security Guards,” but nowhere near enough to actually make a difference against the Tripoli-based militias. For two hundred years the Gurkhas have been the most feared force in the British Army. If anyone can destroy the Tripoli militias, they can, but what’s the point? Why shore up an unelected five-man government?

The GNA was created by the UN two years ago to unite the country and end the civil war. Instead, the GNA’s cabinet is unable even to unite Tripoli, which is “controlled” by various militias. Hence the need for Gurkhas to stop militias overrunning the ostentatious UN compound, “Palm City,” which is itself a provocation to the Libyan people.

The elected parliament in Tobruk, rival to the GNA, is increasingly calling the shots. Thanks to the increasingly popular Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Tobruk now controls the majority of the country and its oil infrastructure and ports. The idea that the GNA will ever rule over areas held by Tobruk is laughable. But, having created the GNA, the UN remains determined to back it. Last week Haftar banned GNA personnel from visiting the East — so much for the alleged French July détente efforts.

What makes the UN case so hopeless is that outside powers are split and at odds – in particular France and Italy — over who to support.

One European country is even pondering supporting the son of the late Colonel Gaddafi — that is how desperate the situation has become.

Italy supports the GNA because militias in western Libya are in a position to stop people-smuggling. Italy faces parliamentary elections in 2018 and politicians are aware the electorate will focus on the immigration issue.

Most migrants from Libya end up in Italy, not France, and for Paris migration is less important than combating terrorism. Haftar is already combating Islamist terrorists in Libya, making France a natural ally.

“Serraj leverages off of Italian support,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a doctoral candidate in geopolitics and Libyan commentator, adding “and you can be sure Haftar makes use of the prestige of France’s apparent support for his military campaign. On the ground, the inability of foreign states to coordinate among themselves on Libya has always generated more chaos.”

In July, Fayez Serraj, the UN-designated prime minister from the Government of National Accord, met with Haftar in Paris to sign a peace deal between the two sides. But neither leader actually signed the document. In an interview with France 24, Haftar later stated,

“Serraj is a good man, but he cannot implement what he agrees to.”

Russia showed its support for Haftar by inviting him aboard an aircraft carrier earlier this year. It has since hedged its bets, insisting it is working for reconciliation by talking to all sides, including the Misrata-based Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (BMB) militia.

Yesterday the BMB militia surprisingly pledged its support for an unknown multi-millionaire businessman Basit Igtet, a Swiss based Libyan with alleged links to Israel and designs on becoming President of Libya!

One thing must be made clear: The BMB Militia are enemies of Haftar’s LNA.

Lev Dengov, head of the “Russia’s Contact Group for a Libyan settlement,” recently stated,

“Tripoli and Tobruk personnel share the same embassy building in Moscow, engineered by us, to bring them closer to each other.”

Britain is trying to have it both ways. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who presumably facilitated the Gurkhas’ deployment, visited Serraj to show support, flying east to see Haftar on the of 24th August at his headquarters, urging the field marshall to keep to the “unsigned” agreement announced in Paris. But why should Hafter do so? It’s farcical.

The United States has kept a low profile thus far. Though rumour has it there has been a shift in policy in the last few days. Expect Rex Tillerson to get involved in the near future.

With the big powers so divided, and the GNA experiment having failed, the new UN envoy, Ghassan Salame, a Lebanese politician, said by some to be distrusted by the Russians, would have done better to dump the GNA.

Instead Salame is planning to send UN staff and “British Gurkhas,” disguised as “guards,” into the Tripoli cauldron, putting many lives needlessly at risk to support a failed and unelected government.

When will the UN throw in its losing hand? And when will Russia return to the aces it had when it supported Haftar?

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The UN Losing Poker Hand in Libya

Another Threat to British Democracy Emerges

September 14th, 2017 by True Publica

The Prevent strategy originally set up in 2006 by Tony Blair’s government was reviewed by the 2011 coalition government and then fully updated in a 116 page document that describes the potential threat of terrorism in Britain:

“Intelligence indicates that a terrorist attack in our country is ‘highly likely’. Experience tells us that the threat comes not just from foreign nationals but also from terrorists born and bred in Britain. It is therefore vital that our counter-terrorism strategy contains a plan to prevent radicalisation and stop would-be terrorists from committing mass murder. Osama bin Laden may be dead, but the threat from Al Qa’ida inspired terrorism is not. The Prevent programme we inherited from the last Government was flawed. It confused the delivery of Government policy to promote integration with Government policy to prevent terrorism. It failed to confront the extremist ideology at the heart of the threat we face; and in trying to reach those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.”

The basic strategy was then redefined as:

“First, we will respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat from those who promote it. Second, we will prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. Third, we will work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.”

All seems good and reasonable in a lengthy document, written and signed off by the then Home Secretary Theresa May.

Clearly, the Prevent programme was originally designed to combat terrorism. It’s new rollout included mandatory training for public bodies. By 2015 over half a million public sectors workers had undergone Prevent training, which included schools and the NHS.

Criticisms of the strategy emerged that included the alienation of Muslim communities, that it restricted freedom of expression and impacted on human rights. This has been echoed by a number of NGOs. A UN representative also suggested that the Prevent programme was having the opposite of its intended effect by “dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population”.

The government has said the strategy was working and “had made a significant impact in preventing people being drawn into terrorism”. This was widely reported in the press throughout the last five years.

Less publicly known is that the Prevent strategy is part of “Channel”. This is another strategy where the Police work with public bodies, including local councils, social workers, NHS staff, schools and the justice system to identify those at risk of being drawn into terrorism, assess what the risk might be and then develop tailored support for those referred to them.

At this point, with criticism or not, most of what is laid out seems on the face of it to be reasonable given the difficulty in approaching problems such as being radicalised, not forgetting that radicalisation is an ideology and nothing else.

The Canary news outlet has published documentation acquired by ‘Cage’ that proves the Prevent strategy, a strategy designed purely for prevention of terrorism has defined the Occupy movement, anti-fracking environmentalists, the Green Party, and individuals in anti-war and anti-austerity protests – as extremists worthy of being in the collective group of ‘terrorist threats.’ One document even highlights individuals who ‘home educate’ their children as a threat to national security.

We always knew a few years ago that organisations like the Occupy movement were under extreme surveillance and infiltration tactics and yet were still defined as ‘domestic extremists’ and placed in the same category of al-Qaida and IRA Terrorism in what emerged as Project Fawn. In that leak even student protests were targeted by police and listed as threats to society alongside David Copeland, a neo-Nazi who carried out a nail-bombing campaign in 1999. It looks like the Prevent strategy is going the same way as recent terror related legislation over the last few years that was either broadened or abused.

The Guardian reported back in 2015 that

A coalition of police monitoring groups, the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), accused the City of London police of conflating protest with terrorism and violence. Kevin Blowe, a co-ordinator of Netpol, said this was repeated around the country and was the “result of including ill-defined labels, like ‘domestic extremism’, within the language and strategies of counter-terrorism”.

Another document released by Cage states that 87 percent of those being monitored are individuals, 11 percent are institutions, but that only 2 percent are ideologies. Emerging threats were referrals coming from Syria – hardly a big surprise given Britain’s role in destroying yet another sovereign nation without good reason.

Netpol went on to say at the time that:

Programmes like the government’s Prevent strategy overwhelmingly target and stigmatise Muslim communities, but as Project Fawn shows, they also provide plenty of scope to include almost any group of political activists that the police dislike or consider an inconvenience. There a real disdain for legitimate rights to exercise freedoms of expression and assembly in a free society, which leads to individuals having their lawful activities recorded and retained on secret police intelligence databases.

Since then the government have gone on to create more anti-radicalisation programmes, in addition to Prevent.

  • Pursue—its main aim is “to stop terrorist attacks”.
  • Protect—“to strengthen our protection against terrorism attack”.
  • Prepare—“where an attack cannot be stopped, to mitigate its impact”.

Meanwhile, Britain’s freedoms continue to be massively eroded by a government hell bent on ensuring our endemic surveillance state is supported through legislation such the Investigatory Powers Act that effectively legalises a range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services over the wider general public. Whistleblower Edward Snowden stated that –

The UK has legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Snowden has not been proved wrong.

The Guardian reported six months ago that Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger, one of the leading voices against the investigatory powers bill, said:

We do have to worry about a UK Donald Trump. If we do end up with one, and that is not impossible, we have created the tools for repression. The real Donald Trump has access to all the data that the British spooks are gathering and we should be worried about that.”

Within this Act, journalists are no longer protected – another sure sign of autocratic tendencies.

In the end, even Max Hill QC, the barrister appointed by the government to be the independent reviewer of terrorism laws in the United Kingdom has said enough is enough.

Speaking exclusively to The Independenta few days agoMax Hill QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, argued potential jihadis can be stopped with existing “general” laws that are not always being used effectively to take threats off the streets and that the “Government should consider abolishing all anti-terror laws as they are “unnecessary” in the fight against extremists”.

Hill also expressed concern over the threat to civil liberties posed by some proposed anti-terror measures, warning laws aimed at tackling hate preachers could easily veer into the territory of “thought crime”.

David Videcette, a former Scotland Yard counter-terror detective, agreed, arguing that police should be using “disruption” techniques that are frequently applied to organised crime.

“The profile of religious extremists is changing, they are more criminal-based,” he told The Independent. “We need to be better … the counter-terror work needs to be more crime-focused.”

Max Hill and David Videcette’s comments will fall on deaf years though.

Like so many other Acts of parliament, terror laws in their various guises are being used for nefarious reasons. Under the cover of national security, legislation such as the Public Space Protection Orders, the expansion of Privately Owned Public Spaces, The Anti-Terrorism and Security Act, the Terrorism Act and RIPA continue to be used against civil society, civil liberty and human rights.

Considering that the BBC – a publicly funded organisation uses terror laws to hunt down licence fee dodgers, local councils use them for council tax arrears, dog fouling, illegal sun bed use and even feeding pigeons, was it really any big surprise that the Prevent strategy was going to be abused by the authorities in their continued battle against the civil liberties of the general public in yet another threat to the principles of British democracy.

All images in this article are from TruePublica.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Another Threat to British Democracy Emerges

An Economic Lesson for China and Russia

September 14th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Is there anyone in Trump’s government who is not an imbecile?

After years of endless military threats against Russia—remember CIA deputy director Mike Morell saying on TV (Charlie Rose show) that the US should start killing Russians to give them a message, and Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley threatening “We’ll beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before”—now the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatens China. If China doesn’t abide by Washington’s new sanctions on North Korea, Mnuchin said the US “will put additional sanctions on them [China] and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system.”

Here is the broke US government $20 trillion in public debt, having to print money with which to buy its own bonds, threatening the second largest economy in the world, an economy on purchasing power parity terms that is larger than the US economy.

Take a moment to think about Mnuchin’s threat to China. How many US firms are located in China? It is not only Apple and Nike. Would sanctions on China mean that the US firms could not sell their Chinese made products in the US or anywhere outside China? Do you think the global US corporations would stand for this?

What if China responded by nationalizing all US factories and all Western owned banks in China and Hong Kong?  

Mnuchin is like the imbecile Nikki Haley. He doesn’t know who he is threatening.  

Consider Mnuchin’s threat to exclude China from the international dollar system. Nothing could do more harm to the US and more good to China.

A huge amount of economic transactions would simply exit the dollar system, reducing its scope and importance.  Most importantly, it would finally dawn on the Chinese and Russian governments that being a part of the dollar system is a massive liability with no benefits. Russia and China should years ago have created their own system.  Being part of Washington’s system simply lets Washington make threats and impose sanctions. 

The reason Russia and China are blind to this is that they foolishly sent students to the US to study economics.  These students returned completely brainwashed with neoliberal economics, “junk economics” in Michael Hudson’s term. This American economics makes Russian and Chinese economists de facto American stooges. They support policies that serve Washington instead of their own countries.

If China and Russia want to be sovereign countries, they must pray that Mnuchin does cut them off from the dollar system that exploits them. Then Russia and China will have to put in place their own system and learn real economics instead of propaganda posing as economics that serves Washington’s interest.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on An Economic Lesson for China and Russia

TOKYO/LIMA – Today, 47 civil society organizations delivered an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities, at the start of the IOC Executive Board Meeting in Lima, Peru. The letter reiterated grave and mounting concerns about the legitimacy and accountability of IOC sustainability commitments and the reputation and credibility of the iconic Olympic games. The letter criticizes the Olympics for knowingly exploiting tropical forests and potentially fueling human rights abuses in the construction and implementation of the games. The groups are calling for full transparency and an end to the use of rainforest wood to construct the Tokyo Olympic facilities, including the new National Olympic Stadium.

The signatory organizations, which include a broad cross section of NGOs with expertise in supply chain risks associated with environmental and human rights, are critical of the continued lack of transparency by Tokyo Olympic authorities.

“The Tokyo Olympic authorities are hiding the fact that they are using massive volumes of tropical wood to construct the new National Olympic Stadium. Without full transparency of the timber supply chain, claims to hosting a sustainable Olympics are completely baseless,” said Hana Heineken with Rainforest Action Network.

NGOs claim that the IOC’s failure to address the obvious risk of unsustainability is a clear breach of its own commitment to “include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games.” In particular, they point to a major loophole in the Tokyo 2020 procurement policy that allows wood used for concrete formwork to be exempted from the policy’s environmental, labor and human rights requirements, despite the majority of this type of wood in Japan coming from the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia where problems of illegal logging, rainforest destruction, and land rights violations persist.

On December 6 2016, 44 NGOs sent a letter to the IOC warning them of the high risk that illegal and unsustainable rainforest wood would be used to construct Tokyo’s new Olympic National Stadium and other related facilities. The groups warned that failure to adopt additional safeguards and due diligence measures at the outset of the construction could result in complicity with human rights abuses, illegal logging, and rainforest destruction. The letter offered evidence of high risk timber from Malaysia being used in Tokyo construction projects and argued that the Tokyo 2020 Timber Sourcing Code is ill-equipped to prevent the use of risky timber. Yet, not a single demand put forward in the letter has been met.

Today’s letter states that the new National Olympic Stadium is using significant volumes of rainforest wood as concrete formwork plywood. They point to evidence that tropical plywood supplied by a notorious Malaysian timber company called Shin Yang is being used, despite the company’s history of illegal logging, rainforest destruction, and human rights violations. While Tokyo Olympic authorities have defended their use of Shin Yang wood by claiming it is certified, the letter refutes claims to sustainability with evidence that Shin Yang’s certified wood is linked to human rights violations in Sarawak, Malaysia. The letter also states that the majority of wood being used for the Stadium as concrete formwork is in fact uncertified and very likely to have originated from the rainforests of Malaysia or Indonesia, which supplies most concrete formwork plywood used in Japan.

“Shin Yang’s certification is meaningless in the face of evidence from Indigenous representatives themselves that its logging practices are destroying Indigenous peoples’ traditional lands and livelihoods,” said Peg Putt, CEO of Markets For Change.

Tokyo 2020 authorities are in the midst of developing procurement standards for palm oil and pulp & paper, commodities that are major drivers of tropical deforestation. Given Japan’s significant consumption of rainforest-derived paper and growing consumption of palm oil, NGOs warn Olympic authorities to adopt robust social and environmental safeguards or face further criticism for fueling rainforest destruction, illegal logging and human rights violations.

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on NGOs Demand Olympic Authorities End Rainforest Destruction and Human Rights Abuses Connected to Tokyo 2020 Olympics Construction

Facing a Major Attack on Academic Freedom in Canada

September 14th, 2017 by Prof. Tony Hall

Sixteen years after the event, 9/11 stands as striking evidence of an insidious assault on science. Officialdom’s dogged adherence to a discredited account of 9/11 stands as a stark illustration of this phenomenon. The subordination of scientific method to the higher imperatives of imperial war propaganda is epitomized by officialdom’s failure to formulate a credible account of the 9/11 debacle.

Universities have become important sites of this betrayal. The sabotage of society’s primary platforms of scholarly enterprise forms an essential feature of a more pervasive attack from within.  Everywhere, but especially on the Internet, fundamental freedoms are being menaced to investigate, publish, publicize and discuss interpretations that might undermine or inconvenience power.  

As a tenured full professor with 27 years of seniority at my home institution, I am currently facing a sharp attack on the remaining protections for academic freedom. In early October of 2016 the President of the University of Lethbridge, Michael J. Mahon, suspended me without pay. He also prohibited me from stepping foot on the University of Lethbridge campus. In explaining his actions Dr. Mahon’s speculated I might have violated a section of the Alberta Human Rights Act.

The vagueness of this assertion exposes the reality that severe punishment was imposed without any proper investigation. Dr. Mahon’s abrupt deviation from the terms of the collective agreement with my faculty association has established precedents and countervailing responses with broad implications.  Adversarial proceedings on this matter began this August in the Lethbridge Alberta Court House. As evidenced by the intervention of the 68,000 members of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the outcome of this case will in all probability significantly affect the future of university governance in Canada and beyond.

Dr. Mahon’ suspension letter detailed that there was a possibility that I might be guilty because of allegations that

a) “my Facebook page had been used for virulent anti-semitic comments “and

b) “Inferring that Israelis, and hence Jewish individuals, were responsible for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”

Dr. Michael J. Mahon (Source: uleth.ca)

Before dealing with the manipulation of my Facebook wall in the prelude to my suspension, allow me to linger on questions concerning the academy and 9/11. Along with government, media and law enforcement agencies, universities are deeply implicated in sabotaging the quest for 9/11 truth and many other varieties of inconvenient truth as well. The punitive measures directed at me can be seen as a warning to scare other professors into compliance with all manner of official stories?

As for my own reading of the available evidence, I am far from alone in positing that Israel First partisans, including the American neocons that dominated the Project for the New American Century, are prominent among the many protagonists of the 9/11 crimes. These crimes extend to orchestrating the media spin, rigging investigations, and sustaining the ongoing 9/11 cover-up. In publications and on False Flag Weekly News, Dr. Kevin Barrett and I have joined others in extending this investigative and interpretation trajectory into many cases of possible false flag terrorism particularly after 2001.

I am astonished that the Administration of my University became so aggressive in attempting to outlaw an evidence-based interpretation of the most transformative event of the twenty-first century. New frontiers of subversion are being pioneered in the U of L’s audacious administrative attempt to criminalize independent academic work.

What are the implications of subordinating the scholarly judgments of academic experts on campus to the executive dictates of administrators?  How can the principles of critical thinking be cultivated when adherence to conformity is so aggressively enforced by administrators?

The University Administration extends its claims of academic control several steps further in the complaint it brought forward to the Alberta Human Rights Commission seven months after I was suspended. The complaint begins with six sweeping statements outlining topics that the complainants want removed from the reach of critical academic examination. One of the complainants chief assertions is the Islamophobia-inducing proposition that “acts of terrorism between 2001 to the present… were in fact committed and financed by Islamic terrorists.”

Facebook Machinations

A maliciously-engineered Facebook operation created the original catalyst of the smear and disinformation campaign leading to my suspension. Without the originating momentum set in motion by the Facebook operation the campaign to discredit me could not have unfolded as it did. The most public face of this campaign was presented by the Canadian extension of the Israeli- and US-based Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. According to B’nai Brith Canada, an abhorrent post appeared and then disappeared on my Facebook wall during a short interval on Aug. 26, 2016.  The text of the disgusting digital item proclaimed that the Holocaust didn’t happen and that Jews should be “KILLED, EVERY LAST ONE.”

This heinous assertion goes against everything I have tried to stand for in my life including in my academic work.  As soon as I became aware of this blaspheme embedded in the planted Facebook post I publicly condemned it. By mid-September, however, my persecutors were far advanced in pushing forward the manufactured crisis. By then B’nai Brith Canada was mounting a petition campaign demanding that I be investigated, fired and silenced.

Recently the results of a Freedom of Information inquiry have brought to light documents illuminating the elaborate defamation pointed my way in the hours and days immediately following the August 26 Facebook operation. One document was sent to the Office of the University of Lethbridge President and copied to the Premier of Alberta as well as the Alberta Justice Minister. Citing the B’nai Brith, the document’s author characterized me as an “advocate for the murder of Jews.”

Another letter dated 1 Sept. 2016 was signed by the President of the Canadian Jewish Civil Rights Association. This signator, who has since passed away, cited the complete text of the offending Facebook post. The letter to Dr. Mahon indicated the reprehensible words actually came “from my lips.”

I cannot understand why Dr. Mahon did not at this juncture properly investigate by consulting me directly and conferring with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association. Instead the President opted to push ahead with drastic action based on incomplete information combined with the intense pressure brought to bear on him by an extremely influential external political lobby

Hate Speech Deceptions

None of my persecutors has yet identified the true source of the offending Facebook item. My own research into the matter, including my email exchange with cartoonist Ben Garrison, has led me to Joshua GoldbergAmerican Herald Tribune has published my article on this young man. Goldberg is widely reported to be the creator of many Internet personalities, all of whom generate abundant “hate speech deceptions” from various ethnic and ideological perspectives.

Goldberg’s case exposes much about the wholesale manufacturing and misrepresentation of so-called “hate speech” to justify censorship on the Internet. In my case an atrocious digital item was strategically inserted with the aim of ruining me professionally and personally.

The intervention of Internet leviathans like Google and Facebook is especially aggressive when it comes to disappearing material critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. My own experience with the Canadian branch of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith points to the strength of this pattern. Why is it that this same Zionist organization is being tasked with the strategic responsibility of censoring and categorizing You Tube videos?

As illustrated by William Pepper’s development of civil litigation to bring to light the US government’s role in the tragedy suffered by the family of Martin Luther King Jr., we rarely get criminal trials pressed against the world’s most powerful interests and operatives. Instances of possible false flag terrorism, but especially 9/11, have been rendered especially immune to any kind of trial that would put before the public evidence garnered from genuine investigations of facts.

Perhaps the reference to 9/11 in a University Administration’s efforts to condemn me for academic thought crimes and speech crimes will force the forbidden topic into some kind of evidence-based juridical procedure. When it comes to understanding the real dynamics of who did what to whom on 9/11, the truth must prevail.

Dr. Hall is editor in chief of American Herald Tribune. He is currently Professor of Globalization Studies at University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada. He has been a teacher in the Canadian university system since 1982. Dr. Hall, has recently finished a big two-volume publishing project at McGill-Queen’s University Press entitled “The Bowl with One Spoon”.

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Facing a Major Attack on Academic Freedom in Canada

Last week, Israel began holding its largest military drill in 20 years, and it was specifically designed to simulate a war with Hezbollah.

From the Independent:

“The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has deployed thousands of air, sea and land personnel to the Lebanese border for its biggest military drill in almost two decades, a show of strength designed to [intimidate] Hezbollah and Iran even as their power grows in neighbouring Syria.”

Beginning last Monday, soldiers and reservists alike practiced simulating a 10-day-long war with Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored Shi’a militant group located mainly in Lebanon. Israel even prepared two field hospitals, as well as trucks and helicopters for evacuating simulated casualties.

According to the Independent, the drill began with small border skirmishes and escalated into a full-on war with the aim of completely obliterating the Lebanese opponents. Even the soldiers playing the role of Hezbollah were to be dressed in the group’s traditional attire and will don their yellow and green flag.

“The purpose of the drill is to test the fitness of the Northern Command and the relevant battalions during an emergency,” one IDF officer told Haaretz.

In the exercise, Israel was to give the armed forces an order to “vanquish” Hezbollah“the state in which Hezbollah either has no ability or desire to attack anymore,” the IDF officer explained.

The drill, known as the “Light of the Grain” drill, took 18 months to plan. It utilizes fighter planes, ships, submarines, drones, cyber and canine units, and Israel’s missile defense system.

Speaking of Israel’s missile defense system, Defense News recently reported that Israel is readying its Iron Dome defense system for its first intercept test in the U.S., part and parcel of the U.S. Army’s demonstration aimed at selecting an interim solution for a medium and short-range air defense system.

The Iron Dome has proven very effective, scoring over 1,500 intercepts against Gaza-launched rockets since it was first deployed in 2011. However, it is now being tested to see if it can defend Israel against other potential threats, as its proven capabilities “don’t even come close” to the full extent of the system’s capabilities, according to Ari Sacher, Rafael Ltd.’s Iron Dome Systems Project Manager.

Clearly, Israel is preparing its defense systems for something far greater than the standard home-made rockets found flying out of the Gaza strip. Considering the fact that an Israeli military general is drafting a defense policy document with the specific goal of launching a war with Iran, this might give us some clues about what Israel is preparing for specifically.

Over a decade ago, Israel fought a major short-lived war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has been preparing for its rematch with Hezbollah for some time now, as well as striking Hezbollah targets from within Syria. Hezbollah has been a natural ally of Syria, even dating back to the reign of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father.

Israel also continues to strike Syrian territory to this day in a flagrant disregard for international law, specifically targeting Syrian government facilities with ties to Hezbollah. Syria and Hezbollah have not responded yet, but no one seems to be able to answer the question: what happens if Iran, Syria and/or Hezbollah decide to respond in kind with an equally aggressive act?

A senior Israeli official warned the Russian government that if Iran continues to expand its presence in Syria, Israel plans to respond by bombing the Syrian president’s palaces. This is all while Israel knows full well that it cannot realistically take on Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah by itself and without American intervention.

Hezbollah is a quasi-ally of not only Iran, but Russia, too. Russia recently threatened to veto any UN Security Council resolution that describes Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Russia also warned Israel indirectly not to attack Iran in Syria, explaining that parties that violate international law and undermine Syria’s sovereignty will not be tolerated.

Not to mention that in response to Donald Trump’s April strike on the Syrian government, Russia and Iran issued a joint statement with Hezbollah warning that the next time such an attack occurs, they will all respond in kind.

It is also worth noting that Hezbollah has spent six years in the brutal Syrian battle arena, during which time they have attained new recruits, battle-hardened their members, and developed the belief that they can successfully take on a number of military forces in the region. As the Hill explains:

“The new cadre of fighters Hezbollah is bringing in is also professionalizing what was previously an explicitly guerrilla-oriented organization. The fight for Syria against the nominally Sunni ‘Takfiri’ (apostate) ISIS, has been a gift to the Shia Hezbollah, spurring recruitment efforts. Put simply, Hezbollah is not just getting better at fighting, its army is also getting bigger.”

Prior to the 2006 conflict, Hezbollah had approximately 13,000 rockets. It now boasts some 150,000 rockets and missiles, as well as Russian-supplied missiles that “can hit anywhere in Israel,” according to one Lebanese commander.

Unsurprisingly, none of this is headline news. Only those paying attention are aware of these looming developments and the dangers of a direct confrontation involving Israel — a stalwart American ally — approaching the Middle East’s numerous battle theaters. Whether or not the world will sleep-walk into this war remains to be seen; perhaps, and, ideally, Israel’s invasion simulation will act as a deterrent only and ensure that cooler heads will prevail in order to diffuse the situation between these regional adversaries.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Is Israel Getting Ready for a Major War? And No One Is Talking About It

Under heavy pressure and threats from Washington, the UN Security Council voted unanimously on Monday evening for harsh new economic sanctions on North Korea following its sixth nuclear test, the largest to date, on September 3. Far from easing tensions in North East Asia, the resolution sets the stage for further US provocations and heightens the danger of military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

While the US made concessions to China and Russia to obtain their support, the new bans further isolate the North Korean economy and threaten to precipitate an economic and political crisis in Pyongyang. Following on from the Obama administration’s sanctions last year, the Trump administration is not specifically targeting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, but is seeking to cripple the country economically.

After North Korea’s nuclear test, Washington pressed for a complete oil embargo, a global ban on the use of North Korean workers abroad and a mandate to use military force to inspect ships suspected of carrying goods prohibited under UN resolutions. China and Russia, which fear the US will exploit any crisis in Pyongyang to install a pro-American regime, opposed these sweeping measures.

The compromise UN resolution, however, still imposes severe penalties on North Korea, including:

  • An annual cap of 8.5 million barrels on the sale of refined and crude oil to North Korea. The sale of natural gas and condensates is prohibited, to close off possible alternative fuels. A US official told the Washington Post that the figure represents a 30 percent cut.
  • UN member states will be required not to renew the contracts of an estimated 93,000 North Korean guest workers, whose wages bring in an estimated $500 million a year to North Korea. The only caveat is for guest workers who are deemed necessary for humanitarian assistance or denuclearisation.
  • Countries will also be obliged to inspect ships suspected of carrying North Korean goods that might be banned under UN resolutions. Any ship found to be carrying banned goods will be subject to an asset freeze and may be barred from sailing into ports. The resolution, however, drops the US proposal to allow the use of military force, and the consent of the country in which the ship is registered is required.
  • The purchase of all North Korean textiles is banned. Last year, textile exports were $726 million, or more than a quarter of North Korea’s total export income.

This comes on top of UN bans last month on the export of coal, iron, iron ore, lead and seafood estimated to be worth $1 billion, or about one third of export income.

The resolution did not include a travel ban and asset freeze on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as originally proposed by Washington.

While blocking aspects of the draft US resolution, China announced its own unilateral financial sanctions yesterday that could have a far-reaching impact on North Korea.

The country’s top five banks—Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Bank of Communications—will freeze the opening of new accounts by North Korean individuals or companies. Three of the five banks said they had started “cleaning out” existing accounts by blocking new deposits.

The Financial Times pointed out there were ways to circumvent the new ban, including through the use of Chinese citizens as intermediaries. Two Chinese businessmen who run companies in North Korea, told the newspaper that all their payments to North Korean staff were in Chinese currency, avoiding the use of Chinese or North Korean banks.

Nevertheless, the new Chinese sanctions will make it far harder for major North Korean enterprises to conduct financial transactions in China—their chief connection to the global financial system.

Beijing’s banking ban is a clear sign of rising tensions with the Pyongyang regime, which has publicly criticised China for supporting UN sanctions. Relations between the two countries, which are formally allies, deteriorated markedly after Kim Jong-un ordered the execution in 2013 of his uncle Jang Song-thaek, who was regarded as close to Beijing.

China’s President Xi Jinping is yet to meet Kim Jong-un, and the last high-level visit by a Chinese official to Pyongyang was nearly two years ago. North Korea’s September 3 nuclear test publicly embarrassed Xi, who was hosting a summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders at the time.

While not wanting the collapse of the Pyongyang regime, China has opposed North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests because they provide a pretext for the US to maintain and expand its military presence in North East Asia. Beijing also fears that Japan and/or South Korea could exploit the “threat” posed by North Korea to justify building their own nuclear arsenals.

Before the adoption of the latest UN sanctions, North Korea lashed out at the US, warning it would respond in kind if Washington managed to “rig up the illegal and unlawful resolution.” An official statement declared that North Korea would take measures to “cause the US the greatest pain and suffering” it had ever experienced.

Far from defending the North Korean people, this empty nationalist bluster only plays directly into the Trump administration’s hands. The American ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, yesterday suggested the US was not looking for war and North Korea could “reclaim its future” by abandoning its nuclear program. But the Trump administration has repeatedly declared that all options are on the table—including pre-emptive military strikes against North Korea.

Last Thursday, President Donald Trump again threatened to attack North Korea, saying “military action is certainly an option.” While declaring he would “prefer not going the route of the military” and it was not inevitable, Trump bluntly warned:

“If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”

Earlier in the week, Trump huddled together with his top military and national security advisers to review all options, which, according to NBC sources, included the possibility of pre-emptive US nuclear strikes on North Korea.

Featured image is from Zobiyen TV.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on UN Security Council Imposes Severe Sanctions on North Korea. China Endorses Sanctions Regime

Featured image: US Air Force (USAF) C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft assigned to Ramstein Air Base (AB), Germany, flies over the Ramstein AB tower, before retiring to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) or “bone yard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The US military has been using its massive air base in western Germany to arm rebel groups in Syria without Berlin’s permission, according to a report from German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitungpublished on Wednesday.

The US military may have violated German law with the alleged weapons transfers as the German government has not approved any weapons transports of this type since the conflict in Syria began in 2011.

The report was published after months of collaborative research among the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).

The data was gathered from internal emails from the US military, interviews with whistleblowers, official reports and databanks from the US as well as the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.

Weapons flown from Ramstein to Turkey

According to the Süddeutsche report, private service providers with the US military have been purchasing weapons and ammunition in eastern Europe since 2013.

The Russian-designed weapons, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, were sent from factories in Serbia, Bosnia, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic and found their way to US command centers in Turkey and Jordan.

Read full article by Deutsche Welle here.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on US Sent Weapons to Syria Through Germany’s Ramstein Military Base – Report

After Yesterday’s unanimous vote on not allowing Kurdistan’s separation by the Iraqi parliament, forces of the so-called Peshmerga militias (armed forces of the Iraqi Kurdistan’s ruling Barazani regime) suddenly started to spread in the areas of of Kirkuk, Daquq and Tuz Khurmatu.

“These forces did not come for the purpose of the referendum, but to suppress the Arabs and Turkmens, as well as to enforce the will of the Barazani regime through arms, tanks and armored vehicles”, said Mohammad Al Bayati, the Turkmen leader of the armed wing of Badr Organization, an Iraqi political party.

Al Bayati called on the Iraqi government to take responsibility for its citizens or resign.

It is noteworthy that in late August, the Council of the Iraqi province of Kirkuk, voted in favor of inclusion of its territory in the forthcoming referendum on the independence of the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan, scheduled to take place on September 25th.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi parliament voted to reject the referendum in the Kurdistan region, with the Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi committing himself to take all necessary measures that would preserve the unity of the country’s territory.

A number of countries, particularly the United States, Turkey and Iran, condemned the decision of the Kurdistan Regional Authorities to hold the referendum, with Ankara even calling on Tehran to do its best to abandon this initiative, as it may lead to an increase of tensions in the already troubled region.

Translated by Samer Hussein

English: Fortruss

Featured image is from Fort Russ.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on After Being Turned Down by Iraq’s Parliament Yesterday, the Kurdistan Barazani Regime Now Tries to Make Kurdistan Independent by Force

Video: Syrian Army Clearing Eastern Homs Pocket From ISIS

September 14th, 2017 by South Front

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the National Defense Forces (NDF), and the Qalamoun Shield Forces (QSF) have liberated the villages of Um Rujm, ‘Amudiyah, Rasm Sawwanah, Unq al-Hawa, Khan, Luwaybidah, and Darwishiyah from ISIS in the eastern countryside of Salamiyah north of the Homs-Palmyra highway.

Despite strong ISIS resistance, government troops continue developing momentum in the area. The operation was slowed down in late August because the Syrian military redeployed many units to Deir Ezzor province.  However, according to pro-government sources, the entire pocket will be liberated within a few weeks.

The SAA and the Syrian Republican Guard have seized the important Rouad mountain and developed an advance in the direction of Baghiliyah on the northwestern flank of Deir Ezzor city.  Government troops have also advanced against ISIS in Jafrah and al-Mariiyah.

Government forces are seeking to secure the recent gains and to expand a buffer zone around the city in order to prevent future ISIS counter-attacks in the area.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) further advanced in the northern Deir Ezzor countryside and entered the area of al-Husayniyah within about 3km from Deir Ezzor city.

Meanwhile, in Raqqah, the SDF repelled an ISIS attack in the central part of the city killing some 33 ISIS members.

In summing up the recent events, it becomes clear that both the US-led coalition and the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance are now consolidating their resources in Deir Ezzor province in a race for strategic areas in eastern Syria, including the Baghdad-Damascus highway and the oil fields on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

If you’re able, and if you like our content and approach, please support the project. Our work wouldn’t be possible without your help: PayPal: [email protected] or via: http://southfront.org/donate/ or via: https://www.patreon.com/southfront

Featured image is from South Front.


Global Research announces the forthcoming release of  the print edition of Mark Taliano’s Book, “Voices from Syria”  which includes two additional chapters. 

Taliano talks and listens to the people of Syria. He reveals the courage and resilience of a Nation and its people in their day to day lives, after more than six years of US-NATO sponsored terrorism and three years of US “peacemaking” airstrikes.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Special Pre-Publication Offer

**Pre-Order Special Offer: Voices from Syria (Ships mid-September)

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 2 new chapters)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

Click to order

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Video: Syrian Army Clearing Eastern Homs Pocket From ISIS

Israeli De-Development of Occupied Palestine

September 14th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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

A new UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report strongly criticized Israeli “de-development” of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza – the deplorable legacy of 50 years of occupation harshness, persecuting, brutalizing and exploiting beleaguered Palestinians.

Longstanding poverty and unemployment persist at levels worse than America’s Great Depression, UNCTAD saying

“2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; the longest occupation in recent history.”

“For the Palestinian people, these were five decades of de-development, suppressed human potential and denial of the basic human right to development, with no end in sight.”

“Instead of the hoped-for two-State solution…occupation is currently even more entrenched, while its complex socioeconomic toll has worsened over time.”

Gaza has been especially hard-hit, its GDP 23% below 1995 levels, a near-generation of extreme de-development.

UNCTAD accused Israel of “suppress(ing) (Palestinian) development and den(ying) (their) right to development…”

Deplorable conditions are worsening, not improving, Netanyahu unrestrained to do what he pleases with US Ziofascists in charge, the world community failing to support Palestinian rights, including the UN.

Critical world body reports and other condemnation of Israeli ruthlessness are meaningless without action to back up remarks with responsible policies.

Settlement construction continues unabated on stolen Palestinian land, accelerated since Trump’s inauguration. Gaza remains blockaded under siege, its residents suffocating from Israeli harshness.

Over 650,000 settlers live illegally on Palestinian land, encroaching on more daily. Israel ignored Security Council Resolution 2334 (December 2016), affirming the illegality of settlements.

Washington abstained. SC members did nothing to enforce its own mandate or condemn ongoing Israeli state terror against defenseless Palestinians.

Soldiers rampage daily through multiple West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinian communities – terrorizing families, kidnapping targeted individuals, treating children like adults, calling self-defense against Israeli ruthlessness terrorism.

Factors mainly responsible for Palestinian de-development include Washington’s one-sided support for Israel, its contempt for Palestinian rights, militarized rule, “continuing loss of land and natural resources to settlements…annexation of land in the West Bank,” along with isolating Palestinian communities, imposing import restrictions, and other harshness.

Half a century of occupation harshness, supported by PA collaborators, crippled Palestinians politically and economically.

World community failure to support their rights lets Israel violate them viciously with impunity.

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.

Featured image is from UNCTAD.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Israeli De-Development of Occupied Palestine

Toxic Pollution From Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

September 14th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Featured image: A tugboat Signet Enterprise with its crew — later rescued — is partially submerged near a refinery in Port Aransas, Texas, on Aug. 26, 2017. (Source: The Intercept)

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

Hurricanes cause more than flooding, damage, and economic hardships for affected people. They unleash huge amounts of harmful to health toxins, taking a toll long after recovery from storms.

The Texas Gulf coast suffers from millions of pounds of toxic chemicals released into the air and water, including carcinogenic benzene and nitrogen oxide.

According to Earthjustice’s Emma Cheuse,

“the EPA created some specific exemptions that still allow unlimited releases of toxic pollution during certain time periods.”

“Those exemptions are really relevant to what we’re seeing now. It’s likely that refineries will rely on calling this a force majeure incident to avoid sanction.”

“Communities need more protection than just having refineries say this is a force majeure event and having the EPA rubber stamp that.”

“In finalizing new national standards in December, EPA created hazardous malfunction exemptions that give oil companies one or two free passes to pollute uncontrollably every three years, and a complete pass to pollute whenever they lose power or have some other ‘force majeure’ event.”

They apply to unforeseen events. During hurricane season in America’s Gulf and along the eastern seaboard, storms happen. They’re expected. The only unknown is where they’ll strike.

Benzene is highly carcinogenic. So are other oil and chemical industry toxins. Force majeure exemptions let companies pollute with impunity.

Hurricane Harvey flooded at least five highly contaminated Houston area Superfund sites.

It “muddied the region’s water and air with toxic chemicals, smog-forming pollution and raw sewage, creating the potential for serious health risks,” USA Today reported.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reported at least 80 toxic spills from sewage and wastewater systems.

Advocacy group Environment Texas reported about 36 toxic chemical spills from industrial facilities. A Houston area air quality monitor measured 201 parts per billion of ozone pollution. Levels above 200 are hazardous to human health.

Spills could have included carcinogenic PCBs. Water pollution threatens Gulf Coast residents long after floodwaters recede.

According to Environment Texas director Luke Metzger,

“(i)f people are cleaning up and trying to begin the repair of their homes, they may still be encountering contaminated water” and get sick.

Drinking water in many areas is unsafe. Boiling kills harmful organisms, not toxic chemicals, compounds, salts, and heavy metals.

Raw sewage is Hurricane Irma’s main pollutant. Bloomberg News explained

“(m)illions of gallons of poorly treated wastewater and raw sewage flowed into the bays, canals and city streets of Florida from facilities serving some of the nation’s fastest-growing counties.”

“More than 9 million gallons of releases tied to Irma have been reported as of late Tuesday as inundated plants were submerged, forced to bypass treatment or lost power.”

Disease-causing pathogens contaminated areas affected by floodwaters. Electrical outages caused lift station pumps to stop running in St. Petersburg and Orlando.

In Miramar, Hollywood, north of Miami, a pipeline burst, spilling raw sewage. A power outage caused a Miami wastewater treatment plant to release six million gallons of raw sewage into Biscayne Bay.

Releases of sewage and other toxins from Harvey and Irma continue, an environmental nightmare, a serious health hazard to residents of affected areas.

Aging infrastructure in high-growth parts of Texas and Florida struggles to keep up with demands of increasing numbers of residents over-stressing facilities – creating hazards during normal times.

According to Miami Waterkeeper director Kelly Cox,

“(y)ou throw a hurricane on top of that, and you are starting to see a lot more problems.”

Harvey and Irma toxins will continue taking their toll on human health long after clean-up and rebuilding are completed.

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Toxic Pollution From Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Featured image: Multitudinous demonstration for the independence of Catalonia. (Photo credit: @ideiazabaldu)

Two laws have been passed after alterations in the order of the day of the Catalonian Parliament—otherwise, they would have been blocked by the delegitimized Spanish Constitutional Court. After a marathonic session of filibustering by anti-independentists (12 and 14 hours respectively), Catalonia approved two bills that bring the region closer to the dream of independence from Spain: the Law of Self-Determination Referendum was passed on Wednesday night, and the Law of Juridic Transition was passed Thursday night. The former establishes that a binding referendum will be called next October 1, in which citizens will have a say on Catalan independence. The latter will provide a constitutional framework after a declaration of independence if the “yes” vote wins the referendum to be held on October 1.

Just a few hours before the vote on the second bill, the Spanish Constitutional Court had suspended the Catalan independence referendum and its legal framework, following allegations by the Spanish government which claimed the vote is illegal and unconstitutional.

Opposition leader, Inés Arrimadas, referred to the transition law as “something which is not a law, despite being called a law”, and which “will never come into effect” and that she expected an immediate ban of the bill. “It is no surprise that the Constitutional Court has already suspended the referendum law, just like it will probably do with the document that is currently being voted,” she said.

Multitudinous demonstration for the independence of Catalonia. (Photo credit: @ideiazabaldu)

Madrid’s prosecutors are threatening representatives, officials and citizens to try to make them desist of having the referendum. The Spanish capital has also sent civil guard officers to enter the press of a newspaper in the city of Valls, to intimidate them, violating freedom of speech.

The people of Catalonia reacted in a heartbeat. In 48 hours, over 30 thousand citizens took to the streets to confront the threat. This community is organized and doesn’t easily give in to intimidation.

Today, on Monday September 11, 303 years after the fall of Barcelona, over a million Catalans will hold an ever bigger demonstration to prove the world they are united in their will to create a new Republic and a better world.

Multitudinous demonstration for the independence of Catalonia. (Photo credit: @ideiazabaldu)

 

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Catalonia Moves Closer to Independence, as Madrid Sends Civil Guards to Intimidate Citizens

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday killed an effort by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to sunset the war authorizations that have been used for 16 years to justify ongoing military actions in regions around the globe.

Despite the failure, Win Without War director Stephen Miles argues that the

vote “shows that momentum is building to cancel the president’s blank check for endless war,” adding that “it’s clear that our representatives in Congress are beginning to recognize that after nearly two decades, the conflicts we are currently fighting have a tenuous connection to the laws that are used to authorize them.”

“If Congress can’t even be bothered to vote on whether we should be in war, then we have no business sending young men and women to die fighting in it,” Miles concluded.

In essence, as observers noted, the chamber gave the OK to continuing “endless war”:

Sen. Paul’s attempt was an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have repealed the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force after six months and allow for Congress debate another potential war authorization.

The procedural vote was 61-36, with the “yea” votes in support of tabling (rejecting) the amendment.

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Paul said,

“I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared, and unconstitutional war. What we have today is basically unlimited war—war anywhere, anytime, any place on the globe.”

“No one with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes these authorizations allow current wars we fight in seven countries,” he said.

In addition to Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Paul’s effort had the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who tweeted that

“Congress owes our troops and their families a full debate to authorize the sue of military force before we send them into harm’s way.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, (D-Calif.)—the sole member of Congress to vote against the AUMF passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack—saw her similar effort to repeal the 2001 AUMF killed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier this summer, and called the vote a must-follow issue.

“Every member of Congress, regardless of party, has a constitutional obligation to debate and vote on war,” she tweeted.

With the vote to table Paul’s amendment,

“Congress once again chose political convenience over our duty to the American people and service members,” she said in a press statement.

“While this outcome is disappointing,” she added, “we must and will keep fighting to get this blank check for war off the books. The Constitution—and the American people—deserve no less.”

To bring the AUMF to an end, “the public has got to speak out, organize, and mobilize,” Lee told MSNBC Wednesday.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Featured image is from Dandelion Salad/flickr/cc.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Endless War Continues as Senate Kills Effort to Repeal 2001 Authorization

Former US President Jimmy Carter said the US works more like an “oligarchy than a democracy,” while also lambasting Trump’s “hopeless” approach to solving the Israel-Palestine issue, and the increasing tension with North Korea.

The former president was speaking at a ‘Conversation with the Carters’ event at his Carter Center in Atlanta on Tuesday. He said money in politics is what makes the US more like an oligarchy – run by a small group of rich people – rather than a democracy, AP reports.

This isn’t the first time the 39th president has made such comments. In 2015, he referred to the “unlimited political bribery” that has “created a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.”

Carter was referring to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling to allow corporations to give unlimited campaign donations to political candidates, which he has previously said was “the most stupid decision” the court had made.

North Korea

On escalating tensions between the US and North Korea, Carter said, 

“The first thing I would do is treat the North Koreans with respect.”

“I know what the North Koreans want,” he said. “What they want is a firm treaty guaranteeing North Korea that the US will not attack them or hurt them in any way, unless they attack one of their neighbors.” Carter said, “But the United States has refused to do that.”

Carter said he would send his top person to Pyongyang immediately, adding: “If I didn’t go myself.” The former president visited North Korea three times between 1994 and 2011.

“Until we’re willing to talk to them and treat them with respect as human beings, which they are, then I don’t think we’ll make any progress,” he said.

Middle East

Meanwhile, Carter said he doesn’t think that Trump can bring peace between Israel and Palestine.

“I don’t think Trump or his family members are making any progress in that respect,” he said, adding he is “practically hopeless” that Trump will do anything to give “justice to the Palestinians.”

Carter criticized both Israeli and Palestinian leaders for failing to be flexible, but said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “no intention at all of having a two-state solution.”

Featured image is from The Carter Center / Facebook.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Jimmy Carter Brands US ‘Oligarchy’ & Urges Trump to Sign North Korea Peace Treaty

Apparently confirming what President Maduro had warned following the recent US sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reports that Venezuela has officially stopped accepting US Dollars as payment for its crude oil exports.

As we previously noted, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said last Thursday that Venezuela will be looking to “free” itself from the U.S. dollar next week. According to Reuters,

“Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in a multi-hour address to a new legislative “superbody.” He reportedly did not provide details of this new proposal.

Maduro hinted further that the South American country would look to using the yuan instead, among other currencies.

“If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro also said.

*  *  *

And today, as The Wall Street Journal reports, in an effort to circumvent U.S. sanctions, Venezuela is telling oil traders that it will no longer receive or send payments in dollars, people familiar with the new policy said.

Oil traders who export Venezuelan crude or import oil products into the country have begun converting their invoices to euros.

The state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA, has told its private joint venture partners to open accounts in euros and to convert existing cash holdings into Europe’s main currency, said one project partner.

The new payment policy hasn’t been publicly announced, but Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who has been blacklisted by the U.S., said Friday, “To fight against the economic blockade there will be a basket of currencies to liberate us from the dollar.

There is no major market reaction for now – a modest bid to Bitcoin and some weakness in EUR and Gold (seems someone wants this to look like nothing).

Source: The Burning Platform

However, as Nomura debt analyst Siobhan Morden warns:

 “You can say whatever you want for your domestic propaganda and make it look like you’re retaliating against the U.S…. This political posturing will only be to their detriment.”

So what happens if Europe also sanctions Venezuela? Will Rubles or Yuan… or Gold be the only way to buy Venezuela’s oil?

*  *  *

This decision by the nation with the world’s largest proven oil reserves comes just days after China and Russia unveiled the latest Oil/Yuan/Gold triad at the latest BRICS conference.

It’s when President Putin starts talking that the BRICS reveal their true bombshell. Geopolitically and geo-economically, Putin’s emphasis is on a “fair multipolar world”, and “against protectionism and new barriers in global trade.” The message is straight to the point.

“Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

“To overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies” is the politest way of stating what the BRICS have been discussing for years now; how to bypass the US dollar, as well as the petrodollar.

Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan and convertible into gold.

This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan.

Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.

The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed.

RC – via the Russian Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China – have been developing ruble-yuan swaps for quite a while now.

Once that moves beyond the BRICS to aspiring “BRICS Plus” members and then all across the Global South, Washington’s reaction is bound to be nuclear (hopefully, not literally).

Washington’s strategic doctrine rules RC should not be allowed by any means to be preponderant along the Eurasian landmass. Yet what the BRICS have in store geo-economically does not concern only Eurasia – but the whole Global South.

Sections of the War Party in Washington bent on instrumentalizing  India against China – or against RC – may be in for a rude awakening. As much as the BRICS may be currently facing varied waves of economic turmoil, the daring long-term road map, way beyond the Xiamen Declaration, is very much in place.

*  *  *

Having threatened China today with exclusion from SWIFT, we suspect Washington is rapidly running out of any great ally to sustain the petrodollar-driven hegemony (and implicitly its war machine). Cue the calls for a Venezuelan invasion in 3…2..1…!

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on De-Dollarization Spikes – Venezuela Stops Accepting Dollars for Oil Payments

Over 20 shopping centers, railway stations and universities had to be evacuated in Moscow, following warnings that they had been rigged with explosives. In total, 190 sites have been evacuated across 17 Russian cities after bomb threats, a security source told RIA news agency.

.

“This appears to be a case of telephone terrorism, but we have to check the credibility of these messages,” an emergency service source told Tass news agency, noting that the calls began at the same time, and continued after the evacuations had begun.

Tass reported that over 20,000 people had been affected by the evacuation in Moscow alone.

Emergency services said that police units including explosives specialists and officers with sniffer dogs are examining the buildings. Several later reported that police cordons had been lifted.

Among the locations affected are three of the capital’s biggest railway stations, more than a dozen shopping centers – including GUM, located next to Red Square – and at least three universities, the leading First Moscow State Medical University, and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations among them.

Tass reported that the railway timetable remained unaffected by the police operation. Social media accounts show bemused crowds milling passively outside evacuated buildings, and there have been no reports of disturbances of public order.

President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the incidents, but his press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that he would not be commenting “as this is a matter for the security services to address.”

An epidemic of hoax bomb warnings has plagued Russia over the past week. Security services told the RIA news agency that over 45,000 people were evacuated from public places in 22 Russian cities on Tuesday, adding that many of the calls appeared to have come from Ukraine.

Terrorist false alarms are punishable by up to five years in prison under Russian law, and multiple police investigations have been opened. However, the possibility that the hoaxers are using pre-recorded messages – as appears to be the case in earlier, identical messages – automated dialing systems and digital means of concealing their true location present difficulties in identifying the culprits.

Featured image is from RT.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Thousands Evacuated From Moscow Buildings as Russian Cities Inundated with Bomb Threats

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Video: Myanmar and the Rohingya: Ethnic Cleansing? An Islamist Insurgency, Intelligence Op?

The Trump administration’s rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been met with widespread resistance by people across the political spectrum. Thousands have marched in the streets to save the “Dreamers” from deportation. Human rights and civil liberties organizations as well as legislators on both sides of the aisle condemned the ending of DACA.

Donald Trump‘s attorney general Jeff Sessions announced the impending termination of DACA on September 5, 2017, disingenuously claiming it was necessary to forestall a looming legal challenge by 10 state attorneys general. Sessions cited no legal authority for his assertion that DACA was unconstitutional. In fact, no court has ever found DACA to be unlawful.

Lawsuits were immediately filed against Trump’s cruel targeting of the “Dreamers.”

Apparently surprised at the level of opposition to his action, Trump tried to reassure the public that he might save DACA if Congress fails to act within the six-month period, tweeting:

“Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”

Two days later, at the urging of Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Trump issued another tweet, apparently in support of the Dreamers:

“For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the six month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!”

Trump’s tweet was not reassuring. In fact, it was not inconsistent with Sessions’ announcement, which also said no action would be taken against the Dreamers for six months; then the axe will fall.

The White House Talking Points memo on the rescission of DACA advises,

“The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States — including proactively seeking travel documentation — or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.”

Trump’s “No action!” tweet indicates he is being pulled in different directions — by his right-wing nativist base, on the one hand, and by the majority of the population who oppose his heartless act, on the other.

So, what’s next? Will Congress save DACA? Will Trump reinstate it if Congress doesn’t? Or does the fate of DACA rest with the courts?

Will Congress Reinstate DACA?

Congress is now under pressure to reinstitute DACA within six months. Congressional action could take one of three forms. First, Congress might defy years of history and agree on comprehensive immigration reform.

Second, Congress could pass a stand-alone bill legalizing DACA. For example, the BRIDGE Act would enshrine DACA into law and extend it for three additional years to give Congress time to enact comprehensive immigration reform. The Dream Act of 2017 includes protections similar to DACA, but, unlike DACA and the BRIDGE Act, it would create a path for citizenship or permanent legal residency.

Finally, Congress members could engage in horse-trading, exchanging the legalization of DACA for stepped up “border security” measures. They could include cutbacks on legal immigration, withholding federal funds from “sanctuary cities,” hiring additional immigration enforcement agents and even appropriating money to build “The Wall.”

In any event, the chances of Congress acting in any meaningful way to save DACA in the next six months are slim to none. That leaves the fate of the Dreamers with the courts.

Litigating for the Dreamers

The day after Trump rescinded DACA, attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Trump and his administration in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

They asked the court to declare that the rescission of DACA violated the Constitution and federal statutes. The plaintiffs also requested an injunction preventing Trump from rescinding DACA and forbidding him from using personal information the Dreamers provided in their DACA applications to deport them or their families.

The states signing on as plaintiffs in this lawsuit are New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

California, home to more than 240,000 DACA recipients, the largest number in the country, filed its own lawsuit on September 11.

“Rescinding DACA will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of the States’ residents, injure State-run colleges and universities, upset the States’ workplaces, damage the States’ economies, hurt State-based companies, and disrupt the States’ statutory and regulatory interests,” the complaint alleges.

It specified the number of DACA or DACA-eligible recipients, the amount of revenue each state would lose, and other injuries the rescission would cause.

The plaintiffs argue that Trump’s DACA rescission violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

DACA Rescission Violates Equal Protection

More than 78 percent of DACA recipients are of Mexican origin. During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly made disparaging and racist comments about Mexicans.

When he announced he was running for president, Trump said,

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Candidate Trump tweeted that anti-Trump protesters who carried the Mexican flag were “criminals” and “thugs.”

And Trump denounced Gonzalo Curiel, a well-respected federal judge of Mexican heritage who presided in a lawsuit filed by people claiming they were scammed by Trump University. After Curiel unsealed documents, Trump declared that Curiel had “an absolute conflict” that should disqualify him from the case. Trump’s reason:

“He is a Mexican,” adding, “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest.”

Trump reiterated his racist comments about Curiel in a June 2016 interview with CBS News, stating,

“[Judge Curiel]’s a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias.”

In a presidential debate, Trump said,

“We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.”

And two weeks before rescinding DACA, Trump pardoned the notorious racist, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump called “an American patriot.” Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

The complaint in State of New York et al v. Donald Trump et al states that the September 5, 2017, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum rescinding DACA, together with Trump’s statements about Mexicans, “target individuals for discriminatory treatment based on their national origin, without lawful justification.” That memo, the complaint alleges, was motivated, “at least in part, by a discriminatory motive.”

Thus, the complaint says, defendants violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

A similar allegation has been leveled against Trump’s Muslim Ban, which singles out Muslims for discriminatory treatment. As in State of New York et al v. Donald Trump et al, equal protection challenges to the ban cite several anti-Muslim statements Trump made. The Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of the ban when its new term begins in October.

Using Personal Information to Deport Dreamers Violates Due Process

Since the DACA program’s launch in 2012, the DHS repeatedly promised applicants that the information they provided in their applications would “not later be used for immigration enforcement purposes.” This reassurance encouraged applications.

The State of New York et al v. Donald Trump et al  complaint avers,

“The government’s representations that information provided by a DACA recipient would not be used against him or her for later immigration enforcement proceedings were unequivocal and atypical.”

However, the complaint notes, the September 5th DHS memo “provides no assurance to DACA grantees, or direction to USCIS [US Citizenship and Immigration Services] and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] that information contained in DACA applications or renewal requests cannot be used for the purpose of future immigration enforcement proceedings.”

Using information such as names, addresses, social security numbers, fingerprints, photographs and dates of entry into the United States for immigration enforcement would be “fundamentally unfair” and thus would violate due process, according to the complaint.

DACA Rescission Violates Administrative Procedure Act and Regulatory Flexibility Act

The complaint also alleges that in rescinding DACA with “minimal formal guidance,” federal agencies acted “arbitrarily and capriciously,” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 706(2).

In addition, 5 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 706(2)(D) of the APA require federal agencies to “conduct formal rule making before engaging in action that impacts substantive rights.” Defendants did not go through the notice-and-comment rulemaking required by the APA.

Finally, the complaint claims that defendants violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 601-612, which requires federal agencies to analyze the impact of rules they promulgate on small entities and publish initial and final versions of those analyses for public comment.

Deferred Action Is a Well-Established Form of Prosecutorial Discretion

The complaint states that deferred action, such as the DACA program, is a well-established form of prosecutorial discretion.

More than 100 immigration law teachers and scholars signed a letter to Trump in August stating that the Constitution’s Take Care Clause is the primary source for prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution states that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

As the Supreme Court noted in Heckler v. Chaney,

[W]e recognize that an agency’s refusal to institute proceedings shares to some extent the characteristics of the decision of a prosecutor in the Executive Branch not to indict — a decision which has long been regarded as the special province of the Executive Branch, inasmuch as it is the Executive who is charged by the Constitution to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Congress and the Supreme Court have acknowledged that the executive branch has the authority to grant deferred action for humanitarian reasons. That has included certain categories of people, including victims of crimes and human trafficking, students affected by Hurricane Katrina and widows of US citizens.

In 1999, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, an immigration case, that presidents have a long history of “engaging in a regular practice … of exercising [deferred action] for humanitarian reasons or simply for its own convenience.”

Presidents from both parties have deferred immigration action to protect certain groups. Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson permitted Cubans to remain in the United States before Congress enacted legislation to allow them to stay. Ronald Reagan allowed about 200,000 Nicaraguan immigrants to remain in the US even though Congress had not passed authorizing legislation. And George H.W. Bush permitted almost 200,000 Salvadorans fleeing civil war to stay in the US.

University of California vs. Trump

Janet Napolitano created the DACA program in 2012, while serving as secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration. Now, as president of the University of California (UC), she has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Northern California against Trump to save DACA, alleging violations of due process and the APA.

“Defendants compound the irrationality of their decision by failing to acknowledge the profound reliance interests implicated by DACA and the hundreds of thousands of individuals, employers, and universities who will be substantially harmed by the termination of the program,” the UC complaint states.

It accuses the Trump administration of “failing to provide the University with any process before depriving it of the value of the public resources it invested in DACA recipients, and the benefits flowing from DACA recipients’ contributions to the University.” The complaint adds,

“More fundamentally, they failed to provide DACA recipients with any process before depriving them of their work authorizations and DACA status, and the benefits that flow from that status.”

Napolitano promised that UC campuses will continue to provide undocumented immigrant students with free legal services, financial aid and loans, and will order campus police to refrain from contacting, detaining, interrogating or arresting people solely on the basis of their immigration status.

How Would the Supreme Court Rule?

If Congress or Trump were to reinstate DACA, these legal challenges may become moot. But if the lawsuits proceed and ultimately reach the Supreme Court, what are the justices likely to do?

After Scalia’s death, but before Neil Gorsuch joined the Court, the justices split 4-to-4 in United States v. Texas. That tie left in place a circuit court decision striking down the Obama program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and an expanded version of DACA. Gorsuch would likely have broken the tie by voting against DAPA.

But the core of DACA has never been litigated. A lawsuit challenging DACA was thrown out of court for lack of jurisdiction.

The Muslim Ban case could serve as a bellwether of DACA’s fate in the high court. In a temporary order, the Court left parts of the ban in place pending its decision on the merits. Three justices — Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch — would have allowed the ban to continue in its entirety. They would also probably defer to Trump in the DACA case.

It remains to be seen how the remaining justices would rule. Chief Justice Roberts is generally conservative but is very concerned about the legacy of the Roberts Court, which led him to side with the liberals in upholding the Affordable Care Act.

Will the DACA case be remembered like Brown v. Board of Education, the most significant civil rights case in US history? Or will Roberts’s legacy be tarnished by a result that looks more like the infamous Korematsu v. United States, in which, under the guise of national security, the Supreme Court upheld the president’s power to lock up people of Japanese descent in internment camps during World War II?

The bottom line is that if Trump has the opportunity to appoint one or more additional justices to the high court, DACA may well be struck down.

Stay tuned.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website: MarjorieCohn.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MarjorieCohn.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Featured image is from Washington Examiner.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Trump’s Repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Will the Courts Save the Dreamers?

Trump’s Reckless Hostility Toward North Korea

September 13th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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

Engaging North Korea diplomatically is the only responsible option, the only one able to work, the only sound policy Trump administration officials reject.

Washington bears full responsibility for heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, not Pyongyang.

Instead of efforts to step back from the brink, NBC News said

“(t)he Trump administration is readying a package of diplomatic and military moves against North Korea, including cyberattacks and increased surveillance and intelligence operations…”

With or without Security Council authorization, perhaps Trump intends ordering interdictions and inspections of North Korean ships in international waters – something Pyongyang won’t tolerate, a policy, if ordered, risking war.

Other options Trump is weighing include stiffer unilateral sanctions including against Chinese banks doing business with North Korea, deploying additional THAAD missile systems Russia and China strongly object to, installing land-based Aegis SM-3 missile interceptors, deploying tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea ending decades of US peninsula denuclearization policy, or possible preemptive military strikes.

“I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it’s something certainly that could happen,” Trump said days earlier.

China told the Trump administration it’ll support Pyongyang if Washington attacks the country preemptively, repeating its earlier warning, saying:

“If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Separately, British officials suggested Iran helped North Korea develop its nuclear capability, an unacceptable provocative claim.

According to The Telegraph,

“North Korea ‘secretly helped by Iran…gain(ed) nuclear weapons,’ British officials fear.”

“Senior Whitehall sources told The Sunday Telegraph it is not credible that North Korean scientists alone brought about the technological advances.”

“Iran is top of the list of countries suspected of giving some form of assistance, while Russia is also in the spotlight.”

Claiming Russia may have helped Pyongyang develop its nuclear weapons capability is absurd and insulting.

Iran doesn’t have this capability. Its nuclear program has no military component. It strongly urges a nuclear-free Middle East. Israel is the only regional armed and dangerous nuclear power.

In an interview published Sunday in France’s Le Journal du Dimanche broadsheet, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called brinksmanship on the Korean peninsula the world’s worst crisis in years, saying:

“(O)ther have started through an escalation caused by sleepwalking…We have to hope that the seriousness of this threat puts us on the path of reason before it is too late,” adding Pyongyang must halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Like his predecessors, Guterres represents Western interests. Instead of explaining why Pyongyang needs this deterrent, he was silent about its genuine fear of US aggression.

The way to suspend its nuclear and ballistic missile programs is by ending the threat it faces – something Washington rejects, heightening tensions further instead of easing them responsibly.

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Trump’s Reckless Hostility Toward North Korea

Macedonia’s Geostrategic Role in Multipolarity

September 13th, 2017 by Andrew Korybko

Russia and China are wary of having their multipolar Balkan megaprojects transit through a state which increasingly looks likely to end up internally partitioned or worse, and are instead considering rerouting their planned corridors through Bulgaria instead.

There was once tremendous hope that the landlocked Central Balkan country of the Republic of Macedonia would become “land-linked” in serving as one of the most important transit states in Russia and China’s multipolar Balkan megaprojects of the Balkan Stream gas pipeline and Balkan Silk Road high-speed railway, respectively, but those hopes are seriously threatened by the latest infrastructure news coming out of the region.

In response to Zaev’s shadow implementation of the “Tirana Platform” in disproportionately empowering the Albanian minority and moving towards the de-facto internal partitioning of Macedonia, which itself is being pushed forward under the tacitly blackmailed threat of an Albanian-driven Hybrid War if it doesn’t occur, Russia and China are taking steps to reroute their multipolar Balkan megaprojects through Bulgaria in order to avoid this simmering zone of instability and safeguard the security of their future investments.

Right now nothing is official, but the writing’s on the wall that the two Great Powers are looking to diversify their previously planned strategic dependence on Macedonia as their preferred transit route into the heart of Europe. Take for example what Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in late August about his country’s interest in selling Turkish Stream’s gas to Bulgaria, which could either go through the planned Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector or directly from Turkey to the South Slavic country. For reasons of strategic complementarity with China that will be made clearer in a little bit, it’s likely that Russia would opt for the first variant because it would also allow Moscow to improve the regional position of its Athens ally.

This is ironic in a sense because Russia commissioned Turkish/Balkan Stream in response to Bulgaria’s shelving of its South Stream predecessor, but it just goes to prove that Moscow might rather rely on Sofia than Skopje in light of the dark future that its strategists could be predicting might lie ahead for the Republic of Macedonia. Increasing the prospects that Macedonia will no longer be a direct part of Balkan Stream is the recent trilateral meeting between Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia where all three states agreed to deepen their energy cooperation, which obviously refers to Balkan Stream given the current context.

Oil and gas pipelines in South-East Europe

Oil and gas pipelines in South-East Europe

It’s not just Russia that’s considering moving its Balkan megaproject away from Macedonia, but also China as well, which originally had plans to build a high-speed railroad through the country in connecting the Greek port of Piraeus with Budapest and beyond. Instead, however, China might consider detouring through Bulgaria as opposed to risking the future tumult that might explode in Macedonia. This idea doesn’t come out of nowhere, however, as it’s based on the recent development of Greece and Bulgaria agreeing to build the multi-billion-dollar “Sea2Sea” high-speed railway to run alongside their planned Russian-sourced pipeline. This demonstrates that there might be a deeper level of coordination between Russia, China, and their relevant Balkan partners in pioneering a new route for their megaprojects than initially meets the eye.

Another factor to keep in mind is that Zaev has been very unfriendly towards the Chinese since his installation into power and even “delayed” two Beijing-funded road projects in a clear signal of hostility against the People’s Republic, likely done at the behest of his American backers. The Chinese are wise enough to know that leaders come and go, especially those pushed into power through a “constitutional-electoral coup”, but Beijing might think twice about Macedonia’s future political stability just like Moscow appears to be doing and make the decision to accept the added financial and transport costs in rerouting its famed high-speed rail project through what it expects will be the much more stable country of Bulgaria instead.

By and large, the geostrategic situation doesn’t look promising at all for Macedonia, and Russia and China’s contemplation of alternative routes for their multipolar Balkan megaprojects appears to be much more than just a knee-jerk reaction to Zaev. Rather, these Great Powers seem to be signaling that they expect the country to enter into a period of prolonged political unrest, or at the very least, be indefinitely kept in a blackmailed position whereby the Damocles’ Sword of Albanian Hybrid War threateningly hangs over the head of every Macedonian and their international partners.

For this reason, it looks unlikely that Russia will include Macedonia in its Balkan Stream plans, and there’s a chance that China might feel the same way too given how Greece and Bulgaria’s new railway plans open up another alternative for it as well. The strengthening of the Greco-Bulgarian Strategic Partnership is designed to make both countries the indispensable replacement for Russia and China’s much-needed access to Serbia, the Balkan pivot state, and this contributes to giving both Great Powers an enticing option for avoiding what they might predict will be the enduringly uncertain situation in Macedonia for years to come.

None of this, however, would have been possible had Zaev not worked with the US to illegally seize power in his homeland and take Macedonia down the radical path of a de-facto internal partition, which when combined with the government’s capitulation to this demographic’s demands, is the reason why Russia and China are reluctant to have their multipolar Balkan megaprojects transit through the country. Not only has Zaev harmed Macedonia’s grand strategic interests in this way, but he’s also sold its remaining national ones to Bulgaria through the recent treaty with it and looks to be on the verge of betraying his people’s very identity through what many have speculated is an imminent behind-the-scenes deal with Greece.

Tragically, Zaev has empowered his country’s two rivals to join together in forming what might soon turn out to be the Greco-Bulgarian cornerstone of Russia and China’s multipolar inroads to Europe, thereby threatening to relegate Macedonia into geostrategic obscurity in the emerging Multipolar World Order aside from being a ticking unipolar time bomb for disrupting its Balkan component sometime in the future.

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Macedonia’s Geostrategic Role in Multipolarity