Why Fear and Self-hatred Destroy Human Sharing and Solidarity

January 24th, 2018 by Robert J. Burrowes

As our world spirals deeper into an abyss from which it is becoming increasingly difficult to extricate ourselves, some very prominent activists have lamented the lack of human solidarity in the face of the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya. See ‘The Rohingya tragedy shows human solidarity is a lie’ and ‘Wrongs of rights activism around Rohingyas’.

While I share the genuine concern of the Yemeni Nobel peace laureate Tawakkol Karman and Burmese dissident and scholar Dr Maung Zarni, and have offered my own way forward for responding powerfully to the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya – see ‘A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat Genocide’ – in my view the lack of solidarity they mention is utterly pervasive and readily evident in our lacklustre official and personal responses to the many ongoing crises in which humanity finds itself.

To mention just the most obvious: Every day governments spend $US2 billion on weapons and warfare while a billion people lack the basic resources to live a decent life (and more than 100,000 of these people starve to death). Every day millions of people live under dictatorship, occupation or suffer the impacts of military invasion.Every day another 28,800 people are forcibly displaced from their home. Every day another 200 species of life are driven to extinction. And every day our biosphere is driven one step closer to making human life (and perhaps all life) on Earth impossible. See ‘Killing the Biosphere to Fast-track Human Extinction’.

It is not as if any of this information is unavailable. Just as many people and major international organizations are well aware of the plight of the Rohingya, it is also the case that many people and these organizations are well aware of the state of our world in other respects. And still virtually nothing meaningful happens (although there are tokenistic responses to some of these crises).

Hence, it is a straightforward observation that human solidarity is notably absent in virtually any attempt to tackle the major issues of our time. And the Rohingya are just one manifestation of this problem.

Given that I have long observed this phenomenon both personally and politically, and it concerns me as well, I would like to explain psychologically why the lack of sharing and solidarity is such a pervasive problem and suggest what we can do about it.

In order to feel concern for those who are suffering, and to want to act in solidarity to alleviate their suffering, it is necessary to experience certain feelings such as sympathy, empathy, compassion, love and (personal) power. Moreover, it is necessary that these feelings are not suppressed or overwhelmed by fear and, equally importantly, not overwhelmed by a feeling of (unconscious) self-hatred. If someone is scared and full of unconscious self-hatred, then they can have little interest in sharing their own resources or acting in solidarity with those who need help. And this applies whether the adversely impacted individual is a close relative or friend, or someone on the other side of the world.

So why is fear in this context so important? Simply because fear grotesquely distorts perception and behaviour. Let me explain why and how.

If an individual is (consciously or unconsciously) frightened that one or more of their vital needs will not be met, they will be unable to share resources or to act in solidarity with others, whatever the circumstances. In virtually all cases where an individual experiences this fear, the needs that the individual fears will not be met are emotional ones (including the needs for listening, understanding and love). However, the fearful individual is never aware of these deep emotional needs and of the functional ways of having these needs met which, admittedly, is not easy to do given that listening, understanding and love are not readily available from others who have themselves been denied these needs.

Moreover, because the emotional needs are ‘hidden’ from the individual, the individual (particularly one who lives in a materialist culture) often projects that the need they want met is, in fact, a material need.

This projection occurs because children who are crying, angry or frightened are often scared into not expressing their feelings and offered material items –such as a toy or food –to distract them instead. The distractive items become addictive drugs. This is why most violence is overtly directed at gaining control of material, rather than emotional, resources. The material resource becomes a dysfunctional and quite inadequate replacement for satisfaction of the emotional need. And, because the material resource cannot ‘work’ to meet an emotional need, the individual is most likely to keep using direct and/or structural violence to gain control of more material resources in an unconscious and utterly futile attempt to meet unidentified emotional needs.

This is the reason why people such as the Rothschild family, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, the Walton family and the Koch brothers as well as the world’s other billionaires and millionaires seek material wealth, and are willing to do so by taking advantage of structures of exploitation held in place by the US military. They are certainly wealthy in the material sense; unfortunately, they are utterly terrified (and full of self-hatred) and each of them justly deserves the appellation ‘poor little rich boy’ (or girl).

If this was not the case, their conscience, their compassion, their empathy, their sympathy and, indeed, their love would compel them to use or disperse their wealth in ways that would alleviate world poverty and nurture restoration of the ancient, just and ecologically sustainable economy: local self-reliance. See ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.

Of course, it is not just the billionaires and millionaires of the corporate elite who have suffered this fate.

Those intellectuals in universities and think tanks who accept payment to ‘justify’ (or simply participate in without question) the worldwide system of violence and exploitation, those politicians, bureaucrats and ordinary businesspeople who accept payment to manage it, those judges and lawyers who accept payment to act as its legal (but immoral) guardians, those media editors and journalists who accept payment to obscure the truth, as well as the many middle and working class people who accept payment to perform other roles to defend it (such as those in the military, police, prison and education systems), are either emotionally void or just too frightened to resist violence and exploitation, in one or more of its many manifestations.

Source: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout

Moreover, governments that use military violence to gain control of material resources are simply governments composed of many individuals with this dysfunctionality, which is very common in industrialized countries that promote materialism. Thus, cultures that unconsciously allow and encourage this dysfunctional projection (that an emotional need is met by material acquisition) are the most violent both domestically and internationally. This also explains why industrialized (material) countries use military violence to maintain political and economic structures that allow ongoing exploitation of non-industrialized countries in Africa, Asia and Central/South America.

But, equally importantly, many ‘ordinary’ people are just too scared to share (more than a token of) what they have and to act in solidarity with those who suffer whether through military or other violence, exploitation, persecution, oppression or occupation. Of course, it takes courage to resist this violent world order. But underlying courage is a sense of responsibility towards one’s fellow beings (human and otherwise) and the future.

As noted above, however, fear is not the only problem. Two primary outcomes of fear are self-hatred and powerlessness. Here is how it happens.

When each of us is a child, if our parents, teachers and/or the other adults around us are frightened by a feeling – such as sadness, anger or fear – that we are expressing, then they will use a variety of techniques to stop us expressing this feeling. They might, for example, comfort us to stop us crying, scare us out of expressing our anger (particularly at them) and reassure us so that we do not feel afraid.

Tragically, however, responses such as these have the outcome of scaring us into unconsciously suppressing our awareness of how we feel when, of course, evolutionary pressures generated emotional responses (some pleasant, some less so) to events in our life in order to help guide us into behaving appropriately at any given moment. And this suppression of how we feel is disastrous if we want children to grow up behaving functionally. This is more fully explained in Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

So where does self-hatred fit into all of this? Well, if a child is angry in response to some violence to which they are being subjected (usually, of course, in an attempt to control their behavior), then they will attempt to defend themselves against this violence in an effort to persevere with their original intention.

However, if the child is then terrorized into submission by a parent or other adult (by being threatened with or experiencing some form of violence, often given the inaccurate label of ‘punishment’) the child will be compelled to unconsciously suppress their awareness of the original feelings, including anger, that were generating their behavior.

Unfortunately, there is a heavy cost to this suppression because each child is genetically programmed to follow their own self-will  (manifesting through such mental functions as thoughts, feelings and conscience) rather than to obey the will of another (whether it be parent, teacher, religious figure or anyone else).

Hence, if a child is successfully terrorized into not behaving in accordance with their own self-will, they will experience a strong feeling of self-hatred precisely because they have submitted, out of fear, to the will of another.

Conscious self-hatred is an intensely unpleasant feeling to experience, however, and because the child is systematically terrorized out of expressing and acting on most of their feelings (which is why 100% of children go to school wherever school is available and compulsory: children are not given freedom of choice) the feeling of self-hatred is suppressed along with these many other feelings. Having learned to do this, subsequent opportunities for this self-hatred to be felt are progressively more easily suppressed.

An unconscious feeling does not ‘go away’ however; it is unconsciously projected elsewhere. Suppressed self-hatred is always unconsciously projected as hatred of someone else, some other group (usually of another sex, race, religion or class) and/or something else, often in imitation of the violent parent/adult (because imitation will be given ‘permission’ by the violent parent/adult). And this inevitably leads to destructive behaviors towards that individual, group and/or the ‘something else’ (including the Earth’s environment).

But, and this is important to recognize, this destructive behaviour might simply manifest as inaction: doing nothing in response to someone else’s (or the Earth’s) obvious need.

So the unconscious fear and self-hatred are projected as fear of and hatred for living beings as well as the Earth, and manifests as behavior that is destructive, often by inaction, of themselves, others and the planet.

The tragic reality is that it takes very little violence to terrorize a child and this is why a substantial proportion of the human population is consumed by their own fear and self-hatred, and feels powerless as a result. Consider the people immediately around you: many spend most of their time, consciously or unconsciously, abusing themselves, others and/or the environment, and doing nothing in response to the plight of our world.

So what can we do?

Given existing parenting practice, fear and self-hatred are not easily avoided although they are not necessarily all-consuming. But to be free of them completely requires just one thing: the fearlessness to love oneself truly. What does this mean?

To love yourself truly, you must always courageously act out your own self-will, whatever the consequences. This requires you to feel all of your emotional responses – fear, sadness, anger, pain, joy, love … – to events, including impediments, in your life. See ‘Feelings First’. It is only when you do this that you can behave with awareness: a synthesis of all of the feedback that your various mental functions give you and the judgments that arise, in an integrated way, from this feedback. See ‘Human Intelligence or Human Awareness?’

At first glance loving yourself and acting out your own self-will might sound selfish. But it is not. Self-love is true love. The individual who does not truly love themselves cannot love another. Nor will they feel such emotional responses as compassion, empathy and sympathy. Hence, this individual will not seek mutually beneficial outcomes in tackling conflict, will not seek distributive justice in resource allocation, will not value ecological sustainability and will not act in solidarity with those who are suffering. It is this individual, who is terrified, self-hating and powerless, who will act selfishly.

In addition to courageously acting out your own self-will, you might also consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

And if you love yourself enough to be part of the struggle to end the violence and exploitation of those who are full of fear and self-hatred, you might like to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and/or using sound nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

Those who are terrified and self-hating never will.

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Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of Why Violence? His email address is [email protected] and his website is here.

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“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” — Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine

“Big Pharma is engaged in the deliberate seduction of the medical profession, country by country, worldwide. It is spending a fortune on influencing, hiring and purchasing academic judgment to a point where, in a few years’ time, if Big Pharma continues unchecked on its present happy path, unbought medical opinion will be hard to find.” – John LeClarre, author of The Constant Gardener, that focused on the corrupt nature of the pharmaceutical industry.

“The drug companies don’t sell drugs, they sell lies about drugs…Our healthcare system seriously impedes the rational, economical and safe use of drugs. The industry prospers on this and exerts tight information control. The research literature on drugs is systematically distorted through trials with flawed designs and analyses, selective publication of trials and data, suppression of unwelcome results, and ghost-written papers…This scientific misconduct sells drugs.” — Dr Peter Goetzsche, author of “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare”

“Throughout the 20th century, the pharmaceutical industry has been constructed by investors, the goal being to replace (and outlaw) effective but non-patentable natural remedies with mostly ineffective but patentable and highly profitable pharmaceutical drugs. The very nature of the pharmaceutical industry is to make money from ongoing diseases. Like other industries, the pharmaceutical industry tries to expand their market to maintain ongoing diseases and to find new diseases for their drugs. Prevention and cure of diseases damages the pharmaceutical business and the eradication of common diseases threatens its very existence.” — Dr. Matthias Rath – Journal of the American Medical Association, April 15, 1998

“Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry fights the eradication of any disease at all costs. The pharmaceutical industry itself is the main obstacle, why today’s most widespread diseases are further expanding including heart attacks, strokes, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and many others. Pharmaceutical drugs are not intended to cure diseases. According to health insurers, over 24,000 pharmaceutical drugs (as of 1998) are currently marketed and prescribed without any proven therapeutic value. According to medical doctors’ associations (as of 1998) the known dangerous side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs have become the fourth leading cause of death after heart attacks, cancer, and strokes.” — Dr. Matthias Rath

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In the December 5, 2017 issue of The Lancet (a widely respected British medical journal) a study was published that showed that, after 12 months of weight loss with a strict low carb diet, half of the patients in the treatment arm of the study were cured of their diabetes. Cures occurred in spite of the fact that every member of the treatment arm had their anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive drugs abruptly discontinued on day one. The matched control group continued to follow the “community standard of care” which involved continuing to take their synthetic hypoglycemic and anti-hypertensive maintenance drugs – which offered no hope of cure.

While half of the previously diagnosed Type 2 diabetic patients in the treatment group achieved complete remission of their diabetes, the patients with the largest weight losses were the ones that did the best. Indeed, about 90% of the treatment group that lost at least 15 kilograms over the year-long trial period achieved complete remission. Interestingly, 4% of the control group achieved “remission” over the 12 months.

In other words, significant numbers of the patients in the “Type 2 diabetes” treatment group had become non-diabetic, They had been cured of a disorder (actually “obesity-related hyperglycemia”) that I and my med school classmates had been taught was incurable.

The myth about the permanence and incurability of Type 2 diabetes has been repeatedly reinforced for me and most American physicians ever since our training. The myth has been reinforced by everything that we read in the medical journals and everything we heard at our continuing medical education (CME) conferences – where all the major presenters, incidentally, were Big Pharma-influenced academic researchers/professors and assorted other “experts” that had been under the economic influence of a variety of cunning medical-related industries.

Similarly, everything that our thoroughly propagandized and very compliant obese and hyperglycemic patients knew about Type 2 diabetes had been “taught” to them by Big Pharma’s TV commercials and also by health and science journalists who seemed to regurgitate what corporate-influenced professors and Big Pharma’s public relations teams had taught them.

Then, in 1997, thanks to Big Pharma’s lobbyists in DC, it got worse. In that year the US Congress granted drug companies the legal right to use direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising (DTCPA) in the media, which resulted in a multitude of lucrative (and therefore self-censoring, self-silencing) advertising contracts with television networks. The DTC deluge soon included commercials in newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, the internet, billboards, brochures, etc).

The DTC phenomenon was a huge financial boon for Big Pharma. It became easier to sell its expensive, toxic and often addictive products to medically-naïve customers. But it was a disaster for the health of those easily-bamboozled consumers who managed to get prescriptions written. To an informed and skeptical observer, however, these drug commercials are laughable. One only has to watch a few hours of primetime television to understand why.

In a 2011 Pharmacy and Therapeutics article entitled “Direct to Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising: Therapeutic or Toxic?” health writer C. Lee Ventola, stated that:

“The average American TV viewer watches as many as nine drug ads a day, totaling 16 hours per year, which far exceeds the amount of time the average individual spends with a primary care physician.”

As ridiculous as the deceptive claims and small print warnings are in the average DTC television ad, they apparently do sell a lot of drugs, and we physicians are supposed to know about the brand new drugs whose safety profiles are still years away from being determined, which means that we physicians can’t possibly know very much about the new drugs and shouldn’t be asked by Big Pharma to bear the burden of informing our patients about them!

Nevertheless, we physicians all-to-often comply with patient’s requests by writing prescriptions for brand new drugs when asked. Many physician, when asked, admit that Big Pharma’s drug ads in the medical journals are as laughable and deceptive as the ones that are shown to our gullible patients on primetime television.

“The only time the “cure” word is used anymore is by corporate research organizations (and patient advocacy groups) when they solicit funds from the public during their annual charity drives or their “walks for the cure”. Clearly all of the financial incentives are to mount a never-ending, unsuccessful search for the cure without ever actually finding it.” – quote from www.healingmatters.com

The very compelling Type 2 diabetes study at the end of this column proves that – contrary to community standards of care – Type 2 diabetes can actually be cured! In reporting that fact, the study has to be regarded as a serious existential threat to any number of medical and pharmaceutical groups that benefit from never curing or never preventing disorders that are actually potentially curable or – and hear this well – potentially preventable disorders. In my practice I have found any number of over-diagnosed, heavily-medicated, fully vaccinated, and chronically ill patients whose illnesses were eminently curable without drugs at the beginning of their medical histories. Obesity-related hyperglycemia was just one example. But that is another story.

Active, endless drug treatment and active, endless medical “management”, rather than trying for “the cure” was the only approach to Type 2 diabetes that has become the “standard of care” in the last couple of generations. Such non-curative approaches have resulted in successfully transforming millions of potentially curable patients into chronic, permanent patients – which is a huge financial benefit for every for-profit “healthcare” system.

Every MBA (Masters of Business Administration) hospital or clinic CEO knows that curing patients and sending them on their way is not good for the bottom line. And that goes for the drug and vaccine industries as well. Besides, even trying to devise complex cures is too time-consuming for the individual caregiver to even undertake, given that he or she has to see 30 patients a day. In fact, working out cures for patients is virtually impossible in America’s modern medical system that has been built around the very efficient 10-15-minute office visit paradigm, where writing prescriptions is the quickest and easiest therapeutic option.

As I often told my patients: “it only takes 2 minutes to write a prescription; it takes 20 minutes to NOT write a prescription.” What usually happens? Just do the math.

I graduated from med school and started practicing medicine 50 years ago, when office calls cost $6 and complete obstetric care was $250. Over the decades I have witnessed any number of medical break-throughs that threatened the medical establishment’s dogmas and economics or exposed the uselessness or dangers of certain treatments, drugs or vaccines. Usually the establishment, bolstered by Big Pharma, went on the attack to try to discredit the new information while simultaneously trying to defend the status quo. Justice wasn’t always done and speaking the truth to power didn’t always work out. Big Bad Pharma, their lobbyists, lawyers and their massive public relations campaigns usually won the day.

Image result for big pharma tv commercial

I have seen important truths squashed by profit-driven organizations in both medicine and commerce, and I fear that the important break-through in the Type 2 diabetes study below will be sabotaged in the popular press as well as in the medical literature. This important study should change forever the standard of care of patients with hyperglycemia and obesity. But it will be attacked, to the detriment of millions of vulnerable and unaware patients.

To more efficiently understand why justice isn’t always done when it comes to the practice of medicine, I have assembled below a short list of some of the groups that will be threatened by this study:

1) Every Big Pharma-co-opted academic researcher and educator who teaches medical students that Type 2 diabetes is incurable and therefore must be “managed” for a lifetime with unaffordable and potentially toxic drugs or injections;

2) The multi-billion-dollar Big Pharma corporations that make and market all the often unnecessary, obsolete or dangerous so-called diabetes drugs that are designed to very profitably manage (but not cure) obesity-related hyperglycemia (which the study below has revealed to not actually be Type 2 diabetes);

3) The medical establishment-trained nutritionists who do not teach the common-sense realities that this study teaches;

4) Allopathic, non-holistic medical practitioners in all capitalist countries where Big Pharma has thoroughly co-opted and successfully taken over control of the following institutions:

a) America’s profit-driven healthcare system (AMA, AAFP, APA, AAP, ACOG, etc);

b) The US government’s public health agencies (CDC, FDA, NIH, NIMH, etc);

c) Medical schools and general health education systems (patients and health caregivers);

d) Most health and science journalists;

e) The profit-driven mainstream media that relies on Big Pharma’s advertising dollars;

f) Our politicians who are bribed by campaign “contributions” from Big Pharma’s lobby groups and industry-funded “political action committees”); and

g) The “Too Big to Fail” Big Medicine establishment whose financial well-being is actually reliant on the widespread ingestion of Big Food’s “illness-producing”, malnourishing and always toxic junk food; the standard over-diagnosis, over-treatment and “medicalization” of otherwise transient, resolvable, adverse life experiences; the disease-producing over-vaccination policies that – both acutely and chronically – sicken innumerable and very vulnerable infants and children with the CDC’s unproven-for-safety, simultaneously-injected cocktails of vaccines that contain a variety of neurotoxic vaccine ingredients such as mercury, aluminum, live viruses and a variety of contaminants; and the endless prescribing of unproven-for-safety cocktails of synthetic chemical medications that can easily terminally sicken the drug-taker.

Be aware that new scientific findings that contradict previously deeply held beliefs are often ignored, denied or attacked by indoctrinated “true believers” – even if the new truths are unassailable and reproducible. The psychological discomfort one feels when confronted with new information that contradicts one’s deeply held beliefs is called cognitive dissonance, and we physicians are as susceptible to it as anyone else, especially if our honor or financial security are put at risk. Cognitive dissonance often irrationally leads one to go into denial, refusal to even consider the new information or even the willingness to attack the unwelcome messenger.


Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial

Professor Roy Taylor, et al – Published: 05 December 2017

A PDF File of the study is available here.

Background

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disorder that requires lifelong treatment. We aimed to assess whether intensive weight management within routine primary care would achieve remission of type 2 diabetes.

Methods

We did this open-label, cluster-randomised trial (DiRECT) at 49 primary care practices in Scotland and the Tyneside region of England. Practices were randomly assigned (1:1), via a computer-generated list, to provide either a weight management programme (intervention) or best-practice care by guidelines (control), with stratification for study site (Tyneside or Scotland) and practice list size (>5700 or ≤5700). Participants, carers, and research assistants who collected outcome data were aware of group allocation; however, allocation was concealed from the study statistician. We recruited individuals aged 20–65 years who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the past 6 years, had a body-mass index of 27–45 kg/m2, and were not receiving insulin.

The intervention comprised withdrawal of antidiabetic and antihypertensive drugs, total diet replacement (825–853 kcal/day formula diet for 3–5 months), stepped food reintroduction (2–8 weeks), and structured support for long-term weight loss maintenance. Co-primary outcomes were weight loss of 15 kg or more, and remission of diabetes, defined as glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) of less than 6·5%.

Findings

Between July 25, 2014, and Aug 5, 2017, we recruited 306 individuals from 49 intervention (n=23) and control (n=26) general practices; 149 participants per group comprised the intention-to-treat population. At 12 months, we recorded weight loss of 15 kg or more in 36 (24%) participants in the intervention group and no participants in the control group (p<0·0001). Diabetes remission (cure) was achieved in 68 (46%) participants in the intervention group and six (4%) participants in the control group (odds ratio 19·7, 95% CI 7·8–49·8; p<0·0001).

Remission varied with weight loss in the whole study population, with achievement in none of 76 participants who gained weight, six (7%) of 89 participants who maintained 0–5 kg weight loss, 19 (34%) of 56 participants with 5–10 kg loss, 16 (57%) of 28 participants with 10–15 kg loss, and (remission occurred in) 31 (86%) of 36 participants who lost 15 kg or more.

Mean bodyweight fell by 10·0 kg (SD 8·0) in the intervention group and 1·0 kg (3·7) in the control group (adjusted difference −8·8 kg, 95% CI −10·3 to −7·3; p<0·0001).

Quality of life, as measured by the EuroQol 5 Dimensions visual analogue scale, improved by 7·2 points (SD 21·3) in the intervention group, and decreased by 2·9 points (15·5) in the control group (adjusted difference 6·4 points, 95% CI 2·5–10·3; p=0·0012). Nine serious adverse events were reported by seven (4%) of 157 participants in the intervention group and two were reported by two (1%) participants in the control group. Two serious adverse events (biliary colic and abdominal pain), occurring in the same participant, were deemed potentially related to the intervention. No serious adverse events led to withdrawal from the study.

Interpretation

Our findings show that, at 12 months, almost half of participants achieved remission to a non-diabetic state (ie, cure) and off antidiabetic drugs. Remission of type 2 diabetes is a practical target for primary care.


Read the synopsis above, be encouraged, but don’t hold your breath, for profit-driven (as opposed to altruistic) corporations, including those associated with Big Medicine, Big Pharma and Big Media, will likely find a variety of ways to sabotage the study’s findings. The financial stakes are too high for the powers-that-be to do nothing.

Note to readers: As I have frequently warned in the past, you should consult your physician before making use of the information in my columns.

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Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA. In the decade prior to his retirement, he practiced what could best be described as “holistic (non-drug) and preventive mental health care”. Since his retirement, he has written a weekly column for the Duluth Reader, an alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American imperialism, friendly fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, and the dangers of Big Pharma, psychiatric drugging, the over-vaccinating of children and other movements that threaten American democracy, civility, health and longevity and the future of the planet. Many of his columns are archived at

http://duluthreader.com/search?search_term=Duty+to+Warn&p=2;

http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/gary-g-kohls; or at

https://www.transcend.org/tms/search/?q=gary+kohls+articles

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In 1854, the Canadian colonies entered a free trade agreement with the United States. In 1866, the Americans cancelled it, believing that the Canadian colonies had become so dependent on the U.S. economically that they would ask, or beg, for entry into the American Union. 

Instead, the Canadians decided to take the bold step of independence. They negotiated a union of the Canadian colonies and began building a Canadian-owned and controlled economy, including the world’s longest railway.

Canada’s next major free trade agreement with the U.S. was in 1988 (FTA), later expanded to include Mexico in 1994 (NAFTA). Under their terms, much of Canada’s economy has been bought up by American owners — everything from Hudson’s Bay Company to Tim Hortons and Stelco. Whole industries have been taken over by U.S. investors,  including both our national railways. U.S. corporations have the right to sue Canada for any law or regulation that causes them loss or damage and which they feel contravenes the spirit of NAFTA. (Canada has been sued three dozen times and paid out more than $200 million in NAFTA penalties.)

 

However, the U.S. government may again save us from ourselves.

The U.S. is demanding even greater concessions from Canada in a “renegotiation” of NAFTA,  including sweeping rights to buy up what is left of Canada’s economy. It has stated that it is ready to trigger the six-month cancellation clause of NAFTA. In response, the Canadian government has spent millions trying to convince it not to do so.

As in 1866, Canada has a choice: to integrate itself even further into the U.S. economy, giving up the dream of Canadian independence, or it can do what it did in 1866: step forward and build a Canadian-owned, world-class economy. It can stop pleading with the U.S. to keep NAFTA and emerge as a significant competitor to our neighbour, not its colony.
Before Canada signed the FTA and NAFTA, it traded with the U.S. and the rest of the world under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now the World Trade Organization (WTO). If the FTA and NAFTA were terminated, Canada would automatically return to trading with the U.S. under the WTO, under whose terms we did much better than under the FTA and NAFTA.

Under the GATT/WTO, Canada has allies and the U.S. was not able to impose punishing tariffs on our softwood lumber exports or our aircraft industry. It was unable to destroy our wheat marketing system, buy up our railways or shut down our steel industry.

Norway,  much smaller than Canada, declined to enter the European Union although it was under great pressure to do so. It retained control of its oil and gas and other industries through publicly owned corporations. The result for Norway is no debt, no deficit, free child care and university education, virtually non-existent homelessness, free dental care for all under 18, generous old age pensions and a $1-trillion surplus in its sovereign wealth fund.

Canada by contrast, after almost three decades of “free trade” with the U.S., has more than $1.2 trillion in federal and provincial debt, large deficits at every level, no national child or dental care, high university tuition, miserly old age pensions, years of massive budget cuts, and giveaway prices for its exports of oil, gas, timber and minerals.

For 150 years, great Canadian leaders have warned that without an economic border with the Unite States, we would soon no longer have a political border.

We once owned the world’s largest farm machinery maker, Massey Harris, headquartered in Toronto; built the world’s largest and most respected marketer of wheat and barley, the Canadian Wheat Board, based in Winnipeg; created a great transcontinental railway system, beginning in Montreal, which tied our country together; and saw Vancouver’s shipyards produce the beautiful Fast Cat ferry.

Instead of spending hundreds of billions on foreign-made machinery, electronics, automobiles, ships, fighter jets and passenger aircraft (even payroll systems for federal employees!), we can build our own, both for the domestic and export market.

We once designed and built the world’s most advanced jet interceptor, the Avro Arrow, so we know it can be done. With Canada’s resources and ingenuity, it could create a prosperous, domestically controlled economy that would give Canadians multiple benefits, security and pride of ownership. All that is required is some of the will that drove our ancestors to create an alternate power in North America. As George-Étienne Cartier, the great Québécois Father of Confederation, put it, “Now everything depends on our patriotism.”

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David Orchard was twice a contender for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. He is the author of The Fight For Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. He can be reached at davidorchard@sasktel.net

Opinion article published in The Ottawa Citizen . Permission to reprint granted by the author.

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The Romanian Prime Minister implied that pro-autonomy Hungarians in the “Szeklerland” region should be hung in their town squares.

Premier Mihai Tudose, who just resigned because of an unrelated power struggle, was responding to the news that three ethnic Hungarian minority parties in the territory that they call “Szeklerland” had joined forces to lobby for autonomy in the central Romanian region of Transylvania, harshly promising that

“I have sent message that if the Szekler flag flies over the institutions over there, they will all fly next to the flag. Autonomy for Szeklers is out of the question.”

His undiplomatic remark was met with instant condemnation from Budapest, which has been more active over the past few years in supporting the rights of its ethnic compatriots abroad that it feels were unfairly cut off from their homeland after the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.

Hungarian minority in Transylvania

Source: the author

Thus far the most newsworthy efforts in this sphere have recently been those related to the Hungarian minority in Ukraine’s western region of Transcarpathia, but the situation in Transylvania might be even more important because it involves developing hostilities between two NATO- and EU-member states in so-called “New Europe’s” “Three Seas” region. The rising sense of national identity that’s accompanied the recent surge of populism across the world has seen the politicized revival of the Hungarian diaspora issue in the heart of Europe, and Orban’s activism on this group’s behalf could easily lead to the EU labeling him as the greatest threat to the bloc.

The organization’s post-Brexit future is in doubt, and the Polish-Hungarian Strategic Partnership is working hard to reform the EU in making it more decentralized and sovereignty-friendly, but the most dramatic change could be the readjustment of some member states’ internal borders in the continental heartland if the Hungarian minority decides to flex their political muscles. The people of “Szeklerland” are separated from Hungary proper by a swath of mostly Romanian-inhabited territory, but their pro-autonomy efforts could encourage the fragmentation of the country along regional-centric lines and precipitate a constitutional crisis in the formally unitary state. It could also provoke a nationalist reaction from Romanians as well, thereby opening up a whole can of worms if it transforms into violence.

Romania and Ukraine aren’t the only areas that could be affected by this process either, since Serbia’s northern Vojvodina region has a small Hungarian minority near the borderland, though this “front” is less likely to see any “action” when compared to what might transpire in Southern Slovakia. For hundreds of years, the territory of so-called “Upper Hungary” was regarded as an inseparable part of Hungarian Civilization, and approximately half a million Hungarians still live in Southern Slovakia and constitute a little less than 10% of the country’s total population. That’s why there’s a high likelihood that any inadvertent crisis in “Szeklerland” will actually lead to a “Slovak Crisis” as well, though the latter could jeopardize the unity of the Visegrad Four and undermine the EuroRealist reform campaign if it’s not preemptively dealt with by all responsible players.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Jan 19, 2018:

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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 Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.

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L’Italia nel piano nucleare del Pentagono

January 23rd, 2018 by Manlio Dinucci

Il Nuclear Posture Review 2018, il rapporto del Pentagono sulla strategia nucleare degli Stati uniti, è attualmente in fase di revisione alla Casa Bianca. In attesa che sia pubblicata la versione definitiva approvata dal presidente Trump, è filtrata (più propriamente è stata fatta filtrare dal Pentagono) la bozza del documento di 64 pagine.

Esso descrive un mondo in cui gli Stati uniti hanno di fronte «una gamma senza precedenti di minacce», provenienti da stati e soggetti non-statali. Mentre gli Usa hanno continuato a ridurre le loro forze nucleari – sostiene il Pentagono – Russia e Cina basano le loro strategie su forze nucleari dotate di nuove capacità e assumono «un comportamento sempre più aggressivo anche nello spazio esterno e nel cyberspazio». La Corea del Nord continua illecitamente a dotarsi di armi nucleari. L’Iran, nonostante abbia accettato il piano che gli impedisce di sviluppare un programma nucleare militare, mantiene «la capacità tecnologica di costruire un’arma nucleare nel giro di un anno».

Falsificando una serie di dati, il Pentagono cerca di dimostrare che le forze nucleari degli Stati uniti sono in gran parte obsolete e necessitano di una radicale ristrutturazione. Non dice che gli Usa hanno già avviato, nel 2014 con l’amministrazione Obama, il maggiore programma di riarmo nucleare dalla fine della guerra fredda dal costo di oltre 1000 miliardi di dollari. «Il programma di modernizzazione delle forze nucleari Usa – documenta Hans Kristensen della Federazione degli scienziati americani – ha già permesso di realizzare nuove tecnologie rivoluzionarie che triplicano la capacità distruttiva dei missili balistici Usa».

Scopo della progettata ristrutturazione è, in realtà, quello di acquisire «capacità nucleari flessibili», sviluppando «armi nucleari di bassa potenza» utilizzabili anche in conflitti regionali o per rispondere a un attacco (vero o presunto) di hacker ai sistemi informatici.

La principale arma di questo tipo è la bomba nucleare B61-12 che, conferma il rapporto, «sarà disponibile nel 2020». Le B61-12, che sostituiranno le attuali B-61 schierate dagli Usa in Italia, Germania, Belgio, Olanda e Turchia, rappresentano – nelle parole del Pentagono – «un chiaro segnale di deterrenza a qualsiasi potenziale avversario, che gli Stati uniti posseggono la capacità di rispondere da basi avanzate alla escalation».

Come documenta la Federazione degli scienziati americani, quella che il Pentagono schiererà nelle «basi avanzate» in Italia ed Europa non è solo una versione ammodernata della B61, ma una nuova arma con una testata nucleare a quattro opzioni di potenza selezionabili, un sistema di guida che permette di sganciarla a distanza dall’obiettivo, la capacità di penetrare nel terreno per distruggere i bunker dei centri di comando.

Dal 2021 – specifica il Pentagono – le B61-12 saranno disponibili anche per i caccia degli alleati, tra cui i Tornado italiani PA-200 del 6° Stormo di Ghedi. Ma, per guidarle sull’obiettivo e sfruttarne le capacità anti-bunker, occorrono i caccia F-35A. «I caccia di nuova generazione F-35A – sottolinea il rapporto del Pentagono – manterranno la forza di deterrenza della Nato e la nostra capacità di schierare armi nucleari in posizioni avanzate, se necessario per la sicurezza».

Il Pentagono annuncia quindi il piano di schierare F-35A, armati di B61-12, a ridosso della Russia. Ovviamente per la «sicurezza» dell’Europa. Nel rapporto del Pentagono, che il senatore democratico Edward Markey definisce «roadmap per la guerra nucleare», c’è dunque in prima fila l’Italia. Interessa questo a qualche candidato alle nostre elezioni politiche?

Manlio Dinucci

 

 

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Kosovo: A Savage Assassination Rocks the Balkans

January 23rd, 2018 by Stephen Karganovic

Serbian community leader in NATO occupied Kosovo, Oliver Ivanović, was gunned down, mafia-style, in front of his party offices in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica on January 16.

As the old Romans used to say, de mortuis nil nisi bonum, of the dead, speak no evil. Mr. Ivanović did nothing that anyone is aware to merit such a ghastly fate. But it would also be a mistake to regard him as the Ghandi or Mandela of Kosovo’s Serbs. He was a career politician, with everything that encompasses, including rumors of shady deals on the side. Curiously, his profile was that of a “moderate” and “cooperative” local politician. For that, he was rewarded by Pristina authorities not with a medal but a war crimes indictment so preposterous (the obligatory bevy of false witnesses included) that even their own Supreme Court was compelled to throw the conviction out.

But what matters here is that Ivanović was a symbolic “high value target”, to use the terminology favored by those who are probably behind his murder. The “lone gunman,” to again borrow an expression from their lexicon, will probably never be apprehended. At most, some patsy will be convicted of the gangland crime, just for form’s sake.

Ivanović’s assassination was a classical Tavistock Institute production and it fits in perfectly with the current drive to achieve the recomposition of the political leadership in the Balkans. We saw that process start last year in Macedonia with the installation of the lackey, Zaev.

In anticipation of the re-opening of the Eastern Front, the Balkans rear must be secured. Recalcitrants must be replaced by the obedient, and the obedient must give way to the even more servile.

The shots which killed Ivanović were a warning to all the Balkans puppets and clowns of what could happen to any of them in broad daylight, if they as much as entertain in passing the thought of diverging from the party line. “All the usual suspects” have been busy indeed, but also meticulous to warn US citizens to stay away from Serbia and Kosovo, citing “safety concerns”. The purely coincidental warning was issued just three days before the successful assassination.

Image result for Oliver Ivanović death

People light candles during a gathering to commemorate Kosovo Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic (Source: The National)

It is interesting that William Walker, of El Salvador death squad fame who later engineered the phony Račak incident which served as the pretext for the bombing of Yugoslavia and eventually the occupation of Kosovo, known as a fervent booster of the sordid entity he helped hatch, a few days ago refused — just like that, refused — to accept a decoration for his past devotion from the hand of Kosovo’s current President Hashim Thaci.

The President that Walker helped put in office would be wise to remember Kissinger’s classical adage. He should pay worried attention to Walker’s discourteous but portentous gesture. Does Walker know something about the fate reserved for the Kosovo Albanian leadership which they themselves are unaware of? Perhaps, time will tell.

As for the background of this murder plot, it would be foolish to suspect the Kosovo Albanians, though they obviously are being set up collectively as the patsies. The cui bono analysis tells us plainly that with official recognition of their secessionist enterprise now within grasp, they had nothing to gain and much to lose from such a destabilizing outrage. The overall purpose of the assassination was not to advance the Kosovo Albanian agenda but to execute a psy-op which sets the stage for renewed managed conflict, should the decision be taken to go that route. And, just as importantly, it is to fire a shot that would be heard throughout the Balkans: lethal for the unfortunate target that was selected, but a robust warning to all the other local chieftains.

The suspension by Serbia of participation in the fabled “Brussels process,” in reality the mandated incremental divestment by Serbia of its cultural heartland, supposedly triggered by the assassination, was no more than political rhetoric and grandstanding. Politicians perform such maneouvers routinely in similar situations, to create the appearance of minding the national interest.

Things will soon return to normal, as the impression left by the murder dissipates and the incident ceases to be front page news. (In fact, they already have. European Commission spokesperson Maja Kocijancic announced triumphantly on Thursday, January 18, while Ivanović’s body must still have been warm, that Serbia’s accommodationist — some would say, quisling — President was ready to resume talks with the KLA gang in Prishtina. The period of mourning lasted barely more than five seconds.) So Serbia’s simulated withdrawal from the talks was not a serious obstacle to the pursuit of its imbecilic political elite’s “cherished dream” to be accepted by the EU, above all because these are not dreams, but orders from above which must be carried out.

That, plus breaking ties with Russia, plus NATO membership, is why their services were hired in the first place and why they were installed in power, in various, progressively worse incarnations, in the year 2000. They must perform as instructed, and to understand their predicament it is sufficient, once again, to recall the pedagogical nature of this assassination, as explained above.

A safe bet can be made that after the killing there will be no stiff requirements for the Kosovo Albanian side to comply with in order to resume the talks; that will simply happen when the public are distracted by something else. Everything will soon return to “normal” in Brussels because those who are conducting this process on the Serbian side have made a Faustian deal and painted themselves into a corner. They have no way out of it but to continue to tread the path of ignominy.

The writing is clearly on the wall. Brussels expects Serbia to disengage from Kosovo and to sign off on it because that is the only way to secure and legalize NATO’s land and base grab in 1999. It is entirely up to Serbia’s leaders to invent the formula according to which the assigned job will be done. All past brave official declarations (including that Kosovo is part of Serbia forever) are subject to revision and change by politicians facing the necessity of ensuring their own survival. Their instructions are to find a creative way to do it and to get the job done!

It will be a vain endeavor to expect of the EU, or any of the Western “partners” beyond the ocean, in the wake of the assassination, to make a show of even-handedness and exert pressure on the Prishtina authorities to negotiate constructively with Belgrade. There is no past history of putting pressure on Kosovo, so the question is essentially what pressure will be put on Serbia.

Condolences will be accompanied by not so subtle threats, such as denial of EU membership prospects unless Serbia rejoins the negotiations. To a normal and responsible leadership, of course, that would not be a threat at all but rather a welcome pretext to drop the EU charade altogether and to geopolitically reorient itself in a rapidly changing world. But, unfortunately, all of Serbia’s geopolitical eggs are in the EU basket. As a result, Serbia is in the absurd position of being blackmailed to abandon its historically most important territory, not to mention loyal citizens of all ethnic groups and religions living there, for the sake of joining a moribund European Union. Of course, even if the EU did amount to something Serbia is being asked to sacrifice its heritage for the privilege of becoming a dumping ground for EU trash and a source of dirt-cheap labor for its corporations. A bad deal, no matter how you look at it.

The frightening thing is that the spiritual assassination of the Serbian people — because without its cultural cradle of Kosovo the nation is truly reduced to a zombified corpse — is being conducted without its input, awareness, or implicit, much less overt, consent. Of course, as in most contemporary “democracies”, the public’s consent for the resumption of the Kosovo talks, or for anything else of consequence for that matter, is entirely unnecessary.

Especially with an undemanding public, such as Serbia’s, which practices the manners of all well-bred children, who were raised to be seen, but not heard.

Kosovo will not be asked to fulfill any conditions beyond conducting a cosmetic investigation of the murder which will yield no tangible results. Pressure, however, will be on Serbia to disregard the outrage as quickly as possible and go back to “business as usual.”

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Last May, Warren Buffett announced that cyber attacks are a bigger threat to humanity than nuclear weapons.

“I’m very pessimistic on weapons of mass destruction generally although I don’t think that nuclear probably is quite as likely as either primarily biological and maybe cyber,” Buffett said during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

Interestingly, Buffett has put his money where his mouth is. In 2015, Berkshire made a bet that could profit from increased cyber breaches. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance launched two insurance policies that cover cyber liability and the costs incurred to respond to a data breach or threat.

Similarly, AIG launched a product earlier this year that covers expenses arising from online bullying and extortion, according to Fortune.

The writing is very clearly on the wall. In 2016, 6.4 billion connected things were in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will massively increase to 20.8 billion by 2020. What follows next is a logical response to that explosive growth.

In 2015 cybercrime cost an estimated $24 million. In 2016 it rose tenfold to $209 million, in 2017 it rose twenty five fold to $5 billion and by 2019 most expert estimates put the cost of cybercrime exploding at a staggering four hundred times to $2 trillion dollars.

For perspective, the top five oil and gas companies in the world collectively have revenues of half that number. Similarly, so is 2017’s record breaking global car sales revenue of the top five manufacturers. Global defence spending combined is three quarters of that number. That number – $2 trillion – is truly staggering. So staggering it matches dollar for dollar the amount of money spent online buying and selling stuff.

The ransomware attack in May 2017 called Wannacry caused $8billion of damage and over 300,000 business computers were infected.

Last year, the financial services industry was worst hit followed by utilities and energy and then technology companies, where between them, they lost $42billion overall before security costs.

By 2019, the nearest estimates from the cyber-security industry is that $1 trillion will have to be spent defending the $2 trillion of expected losses.

You would be forgiven for thinking that humanity is attacking itself and that none of us are ever going to be immune from such a devastating event as identity theft and you’re probably right. And yet, there’s a strange number that has just emerged.

survey just out, sponsored by Opus and conducted by Ponemon Institute, shows 67% of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) believe their companies will likely fall victim to a cyberattack or data breach in 2018. And incredibly, 60% are concerned that a partner or vendor will be to blame.

The most threatening factors named by CISOs, in this order, are:

  • The human factor (70% cited “lack of competent in-house staff”)
  • Inadequate in-house expertise (cited by 65% of respondents)
  • Careless employee falling for a phishing scam (65% chance)
  • A malware attack, a data breach or a cyberattack (unspecified percentage)
  • Inability to protect sensitive and confidential data from unauthorized access (59%)
  • Inability to keep up with the sophistication of the attackers (56%)
  • Failure to control third parties’ use of sensitive data (51%.)
  • Disruptive technologies – i.e. Internet of Things (IoT) devices (60% of respondents considered these the most challenging to secure)
  • Mobile (54%)
  • Cloud (50%)

In other words, the first three on this list are one and the same – that is – human error. The fact that another 60 percent of security officers expect malware, hack attacks and the like to cause a serious data breach, is itself an alarming number.

According to the same poll, less than half of the security officers surveyed believe their IT security budgets will increase, yet the threat of losses over the course of just one year is likely to increase many times over.

The rapid escalation of targeted cyber-attacks is no longer surprising news. In 2016 an outfit named ‘shadowbrokers’ breached the spy tools of the elite NSA-linked operation known as the Equation Group and caused havoc as they were made up of malware, viruses, trojans, weaponised ‘zero day’ exploits and remote control systems – all designed by government to spy on or cause disruption to citizens. Let’s not forget what this really means. Nation-state cyber weapons are now in the hands of criminals.

In 2017, the voter records of just about every American registered to vote for the last ten years was hacked and presidential candidates had their servers attacked and incriminating email distributed on every continent in the world.

In the meantime, the online cyber-threats to you personally are changing shape. Socially engineered malware now led by data-encrypting ransomware, provides the No. 1 method of attack. Password ‘phishing’ attacks are next, un-patched software, social media hacks and ‘spear-phishing’ bring up the rear. These are all known as ‘advanced persistent threats’ for good reason.

Sky News has just reported that a “text bomb” has been discovered which can crash iPhones just by being sent to a victim’s device.

Software developer Abraham Masri discovered the bug and said he released it to get Apple’s attention after his reports and warning to the company went unheeded. The “text bomb” code is so toxic for iPhones that devices which were sent a link to the code would also crash – even if they didn’t actually click the link.

With the arrival of cyberwarfare, every device has now become a battlefield of sorts. If you didn’t know already, cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks by one country to completely disrupt the computer systems of another with the aim of creating significant harm, death and destruction. Future wars will now be fought not just by new weapons but by hackers using computer code to attack an enemy’s infrastructure.

In addition, a new project called the Computational Propaganda Research Project (COMPROP) has identified how organisations, often with public money, have created a system to help ‘define and manage what is in the best interest of the public.’ In reality the analysis shows how political parties and governments use tools like social media bots to manipulate public opinion by amplifying or repressing political content, disinformation, hate speech, junk or fake news. In the west, The US and UK governments top that list.

Modern western economies, are underpinned by computer networks that run everything from communication systems, food and water distribution to food supply chains. As we have already seen, governments are woefully prepared and therefore are particularly vulnerable to such attacks. But with continued and ever more damaging attacks, cyberattacks and cyber-warfare will rapidly rise close to the top of the political threat agendas of governments all over the world in the next two or three years. But let’s not forget the ineptitude of employees or contractors.

A nuclear power plant in Germany was infected with malware as the result of employees bringing in USB flash drives from the outside. And malware was found in the control room of a Japanese nuclear reactor.

ZDNet reports that “The head of the US National Security Agency (NSA) Admiral Michael Rogers said his worst case cyberattack scenario would involve “outright destructive attacks”, focused on some aspects of critical US infrastructure and coupled with data manipulation “on a massive scale”. Shutting down the power supply or scrambling bank records could easily do major damage to any economy. And some experts warn it’s a case of when, not if.”

It looks like Warren Buffett was right – technology is already becoming the new number one threat to mankind.

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Featured image is from TruePublica.

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Britain’s Chief of General Staff, Sir Nick Carter, has belatedly decided to bring to the attention of the electorate that our defence spending is woefully inadequate and that there are now very many countries including Russia that could wipe us off the map owing to the lamentable negligence of the government in providing for the defence of the nation – which, of course, has to be its unquestioned first priority.

It is well known that expenditure and reliance on the outdated Trident missile, so-called nuclear deterrent is complete nonsense, but the government is too weak to make any proper provision for an alternative defence system.

Meanwhile, tiny countries such as Israel in the Middle East, now has a fleet of state-of-the-art, German-built, nuclear-armed submarines – courtesy of Angela Merkel – that could blow Britain out of the water, in seconds.

Our present government is so incompetent that it has built and commissioned two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales that have cost the taxpayer nearly £7bn and that are already redundant and that can never defend the United Kingdom for a host of reasons political, technical, practical and strategic. They are the epitome of the proverbial white elephant but probably the most expensive elephants in history.

Meanwhile the clowns at the defence ministry are no doubt drawing up plans to install cast-iron canons on the lawns of Buckingham Palace protected by barrage balloons.

The inevitable conclusion being that the government of Theresa May is incompetent having failed in its primary duty to provide adequate defences for the nation. And that is a hanging offence.

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Before I go any further with this let me state that I’m not a Trotskyist, or a Leninist, or a Stalinist or a Maoist (but I might have been all of the above, with exception of Maoist, at one time or another). However, I might be a Zapatista, at least in spirit, but I’m definitely a Socialist Revolutionary (or is that a Revolutionary Socialist?). I’m not sure if I’m a Marxist either, but I’m definitely an admirer of the old man, he was a great artist and thinker, and possibly, along with Charles Darwin, the greatest mind of the 19th century. Whatever you call it, we need a socialist revolution and we need one now, we are running out of time!

War, Crisis, War

Crisis is capitalism’s middle name and, as in the past, crisis leads to war, major wars and indeed lotsa ‘little’ ones too. Thus if crisis is capitalism’s middle name then war is it’s first and possibly last name too! Boom, Bust, Boom takes on a whole new meaning.

I don’t think you need a crystal ball to figure out that capitalism is headed down the major war path, it’s displaying all the same pathological signs as it has done in past decades; economic crisis, economic collapse, repression abroad and repression at home. Increasing intolerance; increasing censorship of any opposition to the maniacs allegedly running things. This is how things were in the 1930s, when my folks cut their political teeth. Then it was the Spanish Civil War that was the trigger, the catalyst, the testing ground and we, that is the left, failed to stop it then and it looks like the ‘left’ or at least what’s left of it, are even less able to offer an alternative today. Where is our equivalent to the International Brigade that fought to defend Republican Spain?

And this time there is no Stalin to boss Communist Parties around (worse, there’s virtually no Communist Parties left to boss around) and tell them what to do in the mistaken notion that it would have defended the Soviet Union against Fascist invasion. Instead, and this is the tragedy of it, the left, or what laughingly calls itself the left, is bossing other countries around instead of dealing with its own failures to challenge capitalism, e.g., Syria, Libya, and other points East and South, obsessed as it is, with the spurious notion of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and attempting to manage other countries political struggles.

War = Capitalism, Capitalism = War

War solves, at least for the capitalist class, several fundamental and intractable contradictions that afflict capitalism:

1. The cyclical crisis of over-production and the related problem of the vast accumulation of surplus capital that needs to be consumed, spent, valorised, one way or the other, in order that yet more capital can be accumulated and set the entire monstrosity lurching off all over again;

2. The crisis of surplus labour, usually called unemployment, aggravated by machines and now computers and the obscenely misnamed ‘Artificial Intelligence’;

3. The crisis of competition between capitalist economies, now that there’s no Red Menace around and the incessant search for new markets (see War above);

4. And finally, the problem of the potential insurrection of working people when they finally see what’s in store for them once again (more on this below).

War, better still, general war solves all of these problems, for the capitalist class that is. War chows vast amounts of surplus capital in the form of weapons and infrastructure destruction and secondly, it deals with the ‘problem’ of all that surplus labour but unlike previous wars, rather than destroy the competing armies and the civilians, it now destroys only the civilians and the infrastructure. The advantages of this approach are obvious. Armies are now numerically small but highly trained and highly mechanised and it’s very expensive and above all, it’s time-consuming to replace all that flesh, brains and computers. Annihilating the civilian populations kills two birds with one stone as it were but leaves the armies (relatively) intact, ready to fight the next war.

Pax Americana! Rule Britannia! It’s the ultimate end-product of industrialising war, just as capitalism has industrialised everything else and trashed the planet in the process.

Of course, unlike previous slaughters, the next one will be the last and Engels prophetic forecast will finally be realised. It really will be the war to end all wars this time, and probably pretty much of what life is left on the planet at the same time. Now whether psychopaths like Trump and his insane ruling class (and let’s not forget their highly paid servants, who make it all possible) actually plan to turn the planet into a radioactive cinder in pursuit of aforesaid profits is a moot point, as if it actually does come to that, all discussion is over, in fact everything is over.

The really important thing is that, believe it or not, we can actually stop them, if we choose to. So what is stopping us from stopping them? Is it because we’re as suicidal and as shortsighted as the ruling class is? Like all honest socialists, I’m an optimist, I like to think that we are different from our rulers, that people are being misled, lied to, hooked on addiction to things by the all-devouring monster that is capitalism.

But it’s not inevitable, any more than revolution is inevitable. Can we break the addiction? It really does depend on us.

Of course it’s extremely dangerous to draw direct analogies with the past[1] but the common thread is capitalism, so you have to draw the obvious conclusion don’t you? Well don’t you? How can you escape the obvious when a man called Donald Trump heads up the most powerful, the most destructive society in all of history. So destructive and insane that it’s driven a goodly percentage of its population insane as well.

But Trump is no Adolf Hitler in spite of the similarities in outlook. Hitler’s raison d’être was Lebensraum (living space) for a Greater Germany. US capitalism’s is an unabashed desire for global domination. The current number of US foreign bases is 1000, streets ahead of anything Hitler’s Germany achieved even at its height! And this doesn’t include the floating bases, the US Navy’s aircraft carriers, 19 in total with 15 more planned that carry a total of between 1235-1330 warcraft and 142,500 personnel. There’s simply no comparison! Yet the economic motivation is in fact the same; economic domination or economic collapse, or Revolution.

The choice is yours and in a really bizarre, nay abhorrent way, perhaps we do have to thank Donald Trump (if it’s not too late to do so), for he has surely and finally revealed to us the true nature of capitalism in all its horrific barbarism. For Trump is no aberration, he is capitalism personified, just as Hitler’s Germany was brute force capitalism. The Emperor really does have no clothes. But note that even though he does embarrass the Guardian, the New York Times and the BBC, they do their utmost to present things as business as usual, which it surely is of course. Think about that over your morning latté while you read the newspaper.

The way forward

So how exactly, do we weld together a fractured working class, what’s left of a coopted trade union movement and bring onboard a compromised and divided middle class, half of whom (or more) get their pay check from the very system that’s destroying the ground we walk on? A divided Labour Party? One that’s stabbed us in the back so many times I’ve lost count?

We can however draw some conclusions from the Corbyns, the Maduros, the Syrizas, the Podemos’es et al, all of whom have failed or are in the process of failing like Corbyn and his traitorous Labour Party to produce a viable alternative to capitalism. Yet millions are currently putting their faith in Corbyn to deliver us from evil, just as millions put their faith in Syriza, only to be betrayed. Will a Corbyn-led Labour government betray us all over again? History says yes. So what do we have to do to avoid another betrayal, another debacle? To avoid another version of some kind of Fascism?

We don’t appear to have a clue as to how to go about it. No programme, no clear analysis, no way forward except our anger and our revulsion driving us in our frustrations but toward what end? My friend in NYC, wrote me this in response to my sending this essay (or something like it) for comments before I published:

Only by developing a revolutionary program.  So what’s our program? What’s our strategy that leads us to being able to implement the program. What are the tactics that build the strategy. It doesn’t get us far enough to say “we are the solution, we can change things.” How is the question demanding an answer. Does it mean supporting Podemos? Or Corbyn? Does it mean breaking with the notion that the “main enemy” is the US? Breaking with the nationalism that puts an ANC, a Maduro, in power? That put a Qaddafi in power? – S. Artesian in NYC.

What I can say is that currently we don’t have anything that even remotely resembles a programme that will stop the suicidal course capitalism is taking us on. What we do have are a thousand fractured visions, individualised struggles about this and about that, but nothing that ties them all together.

In addition, I can say that the way forward does not lie with Parliament, if anything, Parliament is an intrinsic part of the problem blocking the way forward. Yet popular insurrection isn’t the answer either, it will lead only to bloody defeat, just as it has in the past. Yes, part of the answer lies in taking our struggle to the streets but it’s only part of the solution. It is, if you like, a catalyst for change. A shot across the bows of capitalism but no more than that. The biggest march in British history in 2002 to try and stop the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, put not a dent in the process, so clearly it’s going to require a multi-pronged approach. But first we need a viable programme upon which to base our alternative to capitalism. And not only an alternative economic model, but the means by which to realise it. This requires us to disabuse ourselves of the capitalist notion of democracy, of voting every five years for essentially the same, professional political class, the so-called two-party system, or whatever it’s called in your country.

Somehow, we need to develop a structure that unites a thousand different struggles and do it if not simultaneously, then in a ‘cascade’ across the world system, well at the very least the seven, major imperialist states that control it.

A big task you say? Well yes of course it is, but what’s the alternative? Armageddon? Definitely barbarism.

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This article was originally published by Investigating Imperialism.

Note

1. See Eric Walberg’s essay, ‘America 2018: postmodern ‘Germany 1933’, which I think makes the mistake of confusing form with substance but draw your own conclusions. This is not to say that there isn’t a parallel between 1939 and 2018, the question is, what do these parallels consist of and can we usefully draw conclusions from them?

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Featured image: Line-workers make trousers and jackets for international brands at a garment factory in Dong Nai province, Vietnam, on November 21, 2017. (Source: Oxfam International)

Eighty two percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth, according to a new Oxfam report released today.  The report is being launched as political and business elites gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Reward Work, Not Wealth’ reveals how the global economy enables a wealthy elite to accumulate vast fortunes while hundreds of millions of people are struggling to survive on poverty pay.

  • Billionaire wealth has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 percent. The number of billionaires rose at an unprecedented rate of one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.
  • It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.
  • It would cost $2.2 billion a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector in 2016.

Oxfam’s report outlines the key factors driving up rewards for shareholders and corporate bosses at the expense of workers’ pay and conditions. These include the erosion of workers’ rights; the excessive influence of big business over government policy-making; and the relentless corporate drive to minimize costs in order to maximize returns to shareholders.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International said:

“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system. The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors.”

Women workers often find themselves off at the bottom of the heap. Across the world, women consistently earn less than men and are usually in the lowest paid and least secure forms of work. By comparison, 9 out of 10 billionaires are men.

“Oxfam has spoken to women across the world whose lives are blighted by inequality. Women in Vietnamese garment factories who work far from home for poverty pay and don’t get to see their children for months at a time. Women working in the US poultry industry who are forced to wear nappies because they are denied toilet breaks,” said Byanyima.

Oxfam is calling for governments to ensure our economies work for everyone and not just the fortunate few:

  • Limit returns to shareholders and top executives, and ensure all workers receive a minimum ‘living’ wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life. For example, in Nigeria, the legal minimum wage would need to be tripled to ensure decent living standards.
  • Eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. At current rates of change, it will take 217 years to close the gap in pay and employment opportunities between women and men.
  • Ensure the wealthy pay their fair share of tax through higher taxes and a crackdown on tax avoidance, and increase spending on public services such as healthcare and education. Oxfam estimates a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school.

Results of a new global survey commissioned by Oxfam demonstrates a groundswell of support for action on inequality. Of the 70,000 people surveyed in 10 countries, nearly two-thirds of all respondents think the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.

“It’s hard to find a political or business leader who doesn’t say they are worried about inequality. It’s even harder to find one who is doing something about it.  Many are actively making things worse by slashing taxes and scrapping labor rights,” said Byanyima.

“People are ready for change. They want to see workers paid a living wage; they want corporations and the super-rich to pay more tax; they want women workers to enjoy the same rights as men; they want a limit on the power and the wealth which sits in the hands of so few. They want action.”

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Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day, and on a day where people often discuss his dreams, they rarely discuss his nightmares. It was in early 1967 while Dr. King was eating breakfast and reading a magazine when he came across images of children in Vietnam who had been struck by Napalm. He said afterwards that “I came to the conclusion that I could no longer remain silent about an issue that was destroying the soul of our nation.”

It was then that Dr. King decided to come out publicly against the war in Vietnam, delivering an address that is among the greatest speeches ever delivered by anyone in this country’s history. Dr. King’s April 4th, 1967 speech in front of 3,000 people at the Riverside Church in New York City, delivered a scathing rebuke of not only the war in Vietnam, but the militarized United States, which he referred to as “…the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. That speech earned Dr. King the anger of nearly everyone, including US liberals and fellow civil rights activists. This highlights a problem that is still all too prevalent today. That is, it is still highly taboo to criticize US foreign policy and the violent war machine that is behind it.

This past weekend in Baltimore, I had the honor of being part of a conference that set out to not only criticize the US war machine, but put an end to the foreign military bases the United States has planted all over the world.

The Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases hosted a conference that was attended by antiwar groups from all over the world to highlight the ways in which U.S. foreign bases affect the lives of those communities who are forced to live with them and how these bases can be eliminated.

The numbers alone surrounding these bases are pretty staggering. According to David Vine, professor of Anthropology at American University and author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the Worldwho was also a keynote speaker at the conference, there are over 800 US military bases in around 80 countries. The cost of these bases are $156 billion or more annually, and that doesn’t even factor in the number of US marines guarding embassies, US aircraft carriers, CIA black sites, and the growing U.S. military presence in space.

The financial costs are staggering, but the human costs are unconscionable. It was fitting that this conference took place in Baltimore, where students this past winter couldn’t even go to school because they were sitting in cold classrooms. We can find hundreds of billions of dollars to destroy the lives of people worldwide but no money to heat our schools and keep our children warm. The human costs of US foreign policy are often ignored, not only domestically, but especially internationally, where those 800 plus military bases fall upon people who the American public never gets to see. There is this myth among the apologists of U.S. militarists that “they want us there”. This ignores the many anti-Base protests and organizations that take place in these countries and the conference sought to highlight these movements by giving them a platform right in the heart of the empire. This blog piece will also attempt to highlight these movements and voices that are often ignored.

On the first day of the conference, there was a peaceful demonstration in front of the Washington Monument in downtown Baltimore, where we gathered with our signs and our chants to demonstrate that the anti-war movement was alive and well. The demonstration was covered internationally, as a newspaper from Okinawa was on the scene taking pictures and interviewing participants. Cars drove by and many offered their support by honking their horns in solidarity. A few of the participants in the demonstration gave quick speeches to keep up the spirits of the crowd. It was a great show of solidarity on that rainy afternoon, and a great start to a conference that is hopefully the start of something bigger.

Okinawan coverage of the demonstration in Baltimore

One of the groups present at the weekend conference was Okinawa Peace Appeal, an Okinawan group dedicated to spreading information about anti-base and peace activities in the NYC area. Okinawa, a prefecture of Japan, is home to one of the most fierce anti-base movements in the entire world. While many know of Okinawa as part of Japan, Okinawan people are actually the indigenous people of those islands, and only came to be part of Japan through annexation. Now, Okinawa is littered with 32 U.S. bases, and is faced with the prospect of more. These bases are not welcomed by the people of Okinawa, with as many as 80% of the people in opposition to the bases. Okinawan Governor Takeshi Onaga ran on an anti-base platform, and continues to resist construction while being completely ignored by the Japanese government. These bases are constructed close to Okinawan communities, where Jet crashes often occur and result in the deaths of people. The most tragic incident was the 1959 crash of a US military jet into an elementary school in Okinawa that killed 18 people, including small children. The people of Okinawa have been sick of these bases. There is even an ongoing protest against the relocation of a base in Futenma that has recently reached 5,000 consecutive days! The Japanese government cracks down hard on protesters, the most prominent figure being Hiroji Yamashiro, a leader in the Okinawa anti-base protests, and someone who is facing a possible sentencing of up to 2 and a half years in prison for allegedly damaging a wire fence outside of the military base of Camp Schwab. If you really think the people of Okinawa want us there, you need to reconsider your position.

U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Take a look at how close the base is located to the surrounding communities.

The Korean peninsula is a hotbed of diplomatic tensions, where the North and South are technically still at war. People in South Korea overwhelmingly want peace with the North, but the U.S. insists on continuing the one policy that is keeping North Korea from coming to the table, which is the continued militarization of the Korean peninsula. The most recent military initiative on the Korean peninsula that is causing increased tensions is the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD). This is an initiative that is intensifying military tensions in the Asia-Pacific and large numbers of people in South Korea are protesting its deployment. One of those organizations, the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific, was present at the conference in Baltimore. The installation of this missile defense system is dangerous for two reasons. One, this missile system is seen not only as provocative by North Korea, but also China, which sees the system as part of an effort to encircle China with U.S. military hardware. Two, the installation of the missile system puts a target on the community in which the system is installed if conflict were to ever break out. Moon Jae In, the current president of South Korea, ran on a platform that among other things, expressed many doubts about the THAAD deployment, and has since sought peace talks with North Korea and has on occasion challenged further deployments.

Other organizations present at the conference included Shannonwatch, a group of peace activists in Ireland who monitor flights in and out of Shannon, which contains an airport that for years has served as a transport hub for U.S. soldiers going off to war in Iraq. Since 2002, over 2.5 million U.S. troops have gone through Shannon airport. The airport has also been used by the CIA for rendition flights, connecting the supposedly neutral nation to U.S. war crimes in more ways than one. I doubt the Irish people want to be party to war crimes and the people at Shannonwatch do not think so either. BAYAN USA, an organization that attempts to mobilize Filipinos in the U.S. against imperialism, made their case for ending the U.S. military presence in the Philippines. U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay is the largest U.S. naval base in the Asia-Pacific, and has always faced resistance from the people in the Philippines, even closing down in 1991 due to fierce protest and opposition which forced the government not to renew the agreement. The base is now once again being used, supposedly under new rules that only allow for refueling, but the base has also served as a transport hub for troops and materials used in military exercises in the area. Another important base to discuss is that of Ramstein Air Base in Germany, which faces fierce German opposition for it’s part in contributing to U.S. drone operations, which flies in the face of German law. Norman Solomon calls Ramstein “The Most Important Air Force Base You’ve Never Heard Of” and the U.S. Defense Department calls it “the largest American community outside of the U.S.”. It supports 15 major combat operations, and it allows for the support of U.S. special operations on the African continent.

Speaking of the African continent, there was an entire panel dedicated to the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM. AFRICOM was established in 2007 by the Bush Jr. administration. The idea faced unanimous rejection amongst African nations, so the U.S. had to set up the command station in Stuttgart, Germany. Since its establishment, the U.S. has rapidly increased its presence on the African continent, which has ironically coincided with a significant increase in terrorism. AFRICOM acknowledges the existence of 46 outpostsscattered across 24 countries, a figure that has swelled over the years. The US public recently became aware of one of these major operations, with the ambush and killing of four US soldiers in Niger, including Sgt. LA David Johnson, whose killing sparked controversy after Donald Trump failed to deliver a proper sympathy call to Johnson’s widow. There are 800 U.S. troops stationed in Niger, with Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer publicly stating that they were unaware of the level of involvement in the country.

AFRICOM Panel at the No Foreign Bases Conference

No foreign military base is more controversial than that of the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. January 11th marked the 16th anniversary of the detention facility’s opening, with 41 prisoners still populating the prison. Of those 41 prisoners, 31 have been held for years without facing any charges or trial. While the prison itself is a human rights catastrophe, the land on which it rests is a whole other issue. The U.S. seized Cuba in the aftermath of the Spanish-American war, and granted Cuba independence only if it would sell land to the U.S. on a perpetual lease that could only be broken by a mutual agreement between the two governments. Let’s be clear, the people of Cuba want their land back, and considering the lease for Guantanamo is based on a relic from the 19th century, that time is way past due. The only reason the Cuban government doesn’t take what is rightly theirs by force is because they would not win a war with the U.S. Government, having a perpetual gun to their head telling them to “deal with it”. A delegation of people from Cuba were unable to participate in the conference due to the restrictions placed by the Trump administration on travel and commerce last November.

It would be dishonest to talk about foreign U.S. military bases without discussing the very first foreign bases. As David Vine noted during his keynote speech at the conference, the first U.S. foreign bases were those outside of the original 13 colonies that were used to go to war against the various nations of the Indigenous populations of the Americas. It is unfortunate that there was no representation from any Indigenous People at the conference, and the lack of diversity and inclusion were discussed during the strategy session, so hopefully going forward, the coalition will work to remedy that. A different perspective was provided by Netfa Freeman of Pan African Community Actionwho described the descendants of African people in America as internally colonized people who are under occupation from a domestic military in the form of US policing. Considering the increasing presence of foreign military training that U.S. police undergo, that assertion is looking more and more accurate each day.

To close, it would be impossible within the scope of this tiny blog to state the importance of this conference, as well as express the level of energy and solidarity that took place within it. It was not the intention of this post to summarize in great detail the breadth of information that was learned during the various sessions. Ajamu Baraka spoke at the demonstration on the first day of the conference, and said that over the weekend “we’re going to struggle, we’re going to get information, we’re going to get energized so that we go back to our respective communities, our towns, cities, and rural areas and we build the kind of movement that’s representative of the best of this country” and I believe the conference was all of that and more. There certainly was struggle, as the room didn’t always have unanimity, and there was some healthy head butting that occurred. In the end, the coalition was able to pass three resolutions that enshrined action going forward. One was a global day of actions against Guantanamo, another was a national day of anti-war action, and the last was convening a global conference against U.S. and NATO foreign military bases. I won’t give away any more details, because you always have to be aware of enemies who are watching, but in the end, there is an increasing movement around the world that is calling for peace and an end to US imperialism, and that is a beautiful struggle.

Update: The possible sentencing length of Hiroji Yamashiro, which was originally noted at 4 and a half years, is actually 2 and a half years. The paragraph beginning with a description on the group Okinawa Peace Appeal, which was listed as operating in Okinawa, actually operates in the NYC area.

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Mike Byrne is an anti-imperialist, anti-white supremacist, anti-Zionist, pro-peace.

All images in this article are from the author.

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Ankara is militarizing the Afrin district of Syria with operation code-named “Olive Branch” to establish a “safe zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border. The district is controlled by US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) which are allegedly the target of the Turkish forces in the region. 

Will this invasion mount up the existential crisis in the Middle East? 

Read our selection of articles below and share it far and wide, post it on your social media accounts and discuss with your cliques.

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Turkey Invades Syria to Attack US-backed Kurdish Forces

By Halil Celik and Alex Lantier, January 23, 2018

This aggression by Turkey is a reckless escalation that will exacerbate the conflicts raging across the Middle East and intensify the danger of war between the major powers. With Moscow’s tacit support, Turkey is attacking the YPG, the backbone of the main US proxy force in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia. 

Kurdish Frictions: Turkey’s Military Campaign in Syria’s Afrin

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, January 22, 2018

On Saturday, 72 Turkish jets targeted the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria in an effort, codenamed Olive Branch, to remove, what Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called a terrorist threat across northern Syria.

US and Moscow “Green Light” Turkish Aggression in Northern Syria

By Stephen Lendman, January 22, 2018

Russia is going along with Turkish aggression in northern Syria. Instead of condemning it, its Foreign Ministry urged restraint, an unacceptable response, Ankara taking full advantage.

NATO’s website has nothing about Turkey’s ongoing aggression, supporting it through silence.

Video: Syrian Troops Almost Closed Eastern Idlib Pocket

By South Front, January 21, 2018

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to say that Washington has no plans to create a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria and claimed that the issue has been “misportrayed”.

Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation

By Mike Whitney, January 21, 2018

On January 17,  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the creation of a de facto autonomous Kurdish state in east Syria that will be supported by the United States and defended by a US-backed “proxy” army of occupation.

US, Turkey React as Syrian Forces Move into Idlib

By Tony Cartalucci, January 20, 2018

The Syrian government with support from its Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies has embarked on a major military operation to retake parts of Syria’s northern governorate of Idlib. As it does so, the US and its regional allies are rushing to position themselves to ensure the permanent partition of Syria is achieved.

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The announcements and denials of the Trump administration concerning military developments in the North of Syria reveal a heavy secret. Paradoxically, Turkey has come to the assistance of the United States to correct “the error” of their superior officers.

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The denial expressed on 17 January by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concerning the declarations of the commander-in-chief of CentCom, General Joseph Votel, on 23 December, and of the spokesman of the anti-Daesh Coalition, Colonel Thomas Veale, on 13 January, has sowed confusion.

The denial did not satisfy Turkey who, after having warned the US Chargé d’Affaires, Philip Kosnett, on  the 10th and 13th of  January, began preparing military operations in Afrine and Manbij, effectively launched them on 20 January.

Contrary to the declarations proffered by various participants, the US programme was not intended to create a sovereign, independent State in the North of Syria — that is the French plan — but a non-recognised State, like the Puntland State of Somalia or the Iraqi Kurdistan. The latter structure is absolutely independent, and despite the Iraqi Constitution, does not respond to orders from Iraq, of which it is nonetheless a part. Iraqi Kurdistan also has its own embassies abroad.

The Syrian Border Security Force is officially to be composed of 30,000 men, half of whom would be ex-Democratic Syrian Forces (SDF), sponsored and supported by the US.  These combatants would receive three weeks of training in interrogation techniques and biometric scanning. 230 cadets have already followed this course.

In practice, the other half would be composed of 15,000 ex-jihadists from ISIS- Daesh who would thus be discretely recycled.

In reality, President Trump’s special representative to the Coalition, Brett McGurk, was the lawyer who participated, alongside John Negroponte and Colonel James Steele, in the creation of the Islamic Emirate in Iraq in 2006. With Colonel James Coffman, he was tasked with giving President George Bush an account of this secret operation, which was intended to combat the Iraqi resistance to the occupation by dividing their forces into Sunnis and Chiites, and artificially creating a civil war.

After a passage at Harvard, Brett McGurk was re-assigned to the State Department under John Kerry. He helped with transforming the Islamic Emirate in Iraq into ISIS-Daesh, and co-organised the preparatory meeting for the jihadist invasion of Iraq, on 27 May 2014 in Amman. He reorganised Iraq, then trained the International Coalition which was tasked with fighting … Daesh.

A good student, McGurk agreed to serve President Trump in order to get rid of the jihadist organisation that he had himself created, and some of whose members he is now attempting to recycle.

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On 18 August last, Brett McGurk offered a friendly reception to the leaders of Daesh, although officially, the United States was preparing to crush the jihadist organisation. (Source: the author)

The project of the Syrian Border Security Force has a lot to say about the sincerity of the YPG militia, which professes the gentle anarchy of Murray Boochkin, but which, without hesitation, are ready to form a single unit with the killers of Daesh under US command.

Contrary to appearances, the Turkish attack on Afrine, and probably soon on Mambij, was approved on 8 and 19 January by the Russian military staff, which was alerted by the number 2 of the régime and head of the secret services, the director of the MIT (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı), Hakan Fidan, who journeyed specially to Moscow for this reason. The attack was facilitated by the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the combat zone.

Identically, Turkey informed Syria of the attack in writing, even if Damascus claimed that it had not received the letter.

President al-Assad, who doesnot want to put Syria in direct confrontation with the United States in order to stop the recycling of the jihadists, left Turkey, a member of NATO, to so to speak deal with it, namely to confront US sponsored Kurdish forces.

President Trump had not been informed about the Votel-McGurk plan. The Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, confirmed to US military commanders the instructions of the White House concerning the jihadists. However, Votel and McGurk are still in place.

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Translated by Pete Kimberley

Thierry Meyssan is a political consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in French – Sous nos Yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump (Right Before our Eyes. From 9/11 to Donald Trump).

All images in this article are from the author.

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After the Turkish Air Forces hit Kurdish positions in Syria’s Afrin, the General Staff of the Turkish armed forces on Saturday announced it launched ‘Operation Olive Branch’ against the Kurdish PYD/PKK troops. The next day, the Turkish command reported that aircraft had hit 153 Kurdish militant targets, including “shelters and arsenals.” In addition, according to Hürriyet Daily News, the Turkish Air Force conducted massive air strikes on the Menagh Military Air Base, which the U.S. repeatedly had used to supply weapons and ammunition to Kurdish formations.

According to Reuters, the Pentagon has intensified military training of the Syrian Border Security Forces (BSF) along the border areas. It will become a basis of the new Syrian Kurd’s army.

While they continue supplying them with weapons, what will the Pentagon use BSF for in this unfolding situation? It seems the U.S. keeps on pursuing insidious policy putting pressure on its NATO ally, Turkey.

Washington realizes that Ankara is getting out of control and a robust military fist along the borderline will only assist Erdogan. U.S. support for the SDF has put enormous strain on ties with NATO ally Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey, and the United States.

What will be the outcome?

It appears that this confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey could have catastrophic consequences for the parties involved and especially for the Kurds, not to mention the whole region.

It would also drive a wedge into the inner structures of NATO.

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This article was originally published by Inside Syria Media Center.

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One Year of Trump: The Defenders of Fictional Democracy

January 23rd, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It seemed so much busier, much more manic and crowded than the one year that had passed.  Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump continues to excite the same headlines and explosions that began even before he made it to the White House.

By the time he got there, there were protests galore at agendas yet to be implemented, decrees yet to form.  There were women’s marches, contradictory in their message (former flower power advocates joining hands with traditional military alliances, greying peaceniks wishing for a stable man, or woman, behind the nuclear option) while the President had yet to implement a single law.  Many of the anti-globalisation protesters had disappeared into the woodwork or re-kitted themselves.  Fine to be an anti-globalist, but Trump?

A year on, and the agenda in terms of making America great again is far from smooth. In certain cases, it is barely extant.  The corporate jackals remain, even if their diet has slightly altered.  (Trump prefers his own version of the capitalist menu, his own idea of the toxic swamp that bathes Washington’s bureaucracy.)

The latter part of the first year started to see some traction.  When Trump had any doubts, he attempted to simply dismantle what his predecessor had done, often failing.  The opening salvos of 2018 have, however, been aggressive, laced with concerns from politicians across the aisle that Trump has forgotten, if, indeed, he ever knew it, the values of free speech, or the inner mysterious force that is the US constitution.  For Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Trump’s attack on the press had more than a generous shade of despotism, inspiring “dictators and authoritarians with his own language.  This is reprehensible.”  

What is fitting here is to note the various viewpoints of those who claim that the US Republic is in some sort of anti-democratic free fall, tripping into an abyss that will see totalitarian impulses catch and grip.

Trump, it is true, is authoritarian, and, like many corporate boardrooms of the world, indifferent to the notion of the demanding demos.  But so are his opponents, free marketers, Davos devotees and freeloaders.  They are the water diviners rather than the democrats. They see chimeras and believe in the magical distribution of goods through the global economy, and care little whether these actually have any influence on populaces.  Naturally, if they do, it must be positive.

This form of reasoning amounts to an obscenity, the sort happily trundled out by Thomas Friedman at the New York Times with apostolic confidence.  As long as the person involved with the Nike production chain in, say, Vietnam, is earning just that little bit more, so be it.  You, purchaser, are doing well and they are doing even better, even if working conditions are unsafe.

Nor does it matter whether that above-poverty-line person’s vote might go to a more equitable distribution policy from a government he or she votes for.  The foes here are clearly demarcated.  Neutralising the power of such a government, unduly interested in the welfare of citizens, too keenly parochial, is an imperative of the global corporate system.

(It should be noted that the factions who wish to see Trump removed can be found across the security-state – apologists and incongruous defenders of the CIA and FBI – the free market wings of both the Democrats and the GOP, and a range of other deeply conflicted individuals who see sex in everything, the grope behind the statute, molestation behind the decree.)

Mechanisms such as Investor-State Dispute Resolution provisions in less than free trade agreements provide the historical context as to why Trump has proved so alarming to the orthodox creed.  He should be one of them, but has embraced populism instead.  

The nature of such provisions is clear, permitting unelected companies to sue states for lost profits.  State policies that cut the share price can lead to arbitral proceedings.  Such points become critical in the mixing of health and value: the pharmaceutical company has to square its product with keeping shareholders happy, wherever they might be. Democracy has nothing to do with it.

Statements on the democratic deficit, the erosion of democratic values in Trump’s America, and such similarly inclined observations, are easy to come by.  Few individuals better qualify for this confusion thanLawrence Summers, who assumes that “internationalism” (note the economic underlining) is democratic, and that a stance against its predations is somehow against the commonweal.  Calm the waters at Davos, urges Summers of Trump.

Summers was an economic architect under the Clinton administration who encouraged those hot house conditions which led to financial apoplexy at the conclusion of George W. Bush’s tenure.  Deregulating markets inherently implies placing the economy beyond the state and its representatives – a suitably anti-democratic rationale.

His distressing contributions to economic fragility were rewarded with a janitorial stint in the Obama administration.  Having messed the stable of economic stability, Summers had to make amends, though this move was far from convincing. There were few fresh brooms in the wake of the subprime mortgage disaster.

Summers exemplifies the animating background to the Trump presidency, with the president promising to neutralise both egg head and boardroom manager.  That Trump is disingenuous about this (capitalism is not bad as long it is managed by cronies) doesn’t weaken that message, which obviously continues to resonate.

The Jekyll and Hyde nature of US politics means that those who claim to be progressive will still happily embrace a president, or presidential candidate, soft on corporatist America (the Clintons), or an enthusiast of extra-judicial killings and legal instruments permitting indefinite detention (Barack Obama).  They are the interlopers who believe that the way to paradise on earth is via Wall Street and adopted aspects of the police state, even if Wall Street needs periodical strafing and castigating.

*

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

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US Government Shutdown: Democrats Blink…Again

January 23rd, 2018 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

Today the Republican and Democrats in Congress agreed to end the so-called ‘shutdown’ of the US government over the weekend. Not much really ‘shut down’. Government workers were not at work over the weekend. There were no plans to stop funding the military. Or halt social security checks. Or anything else that was economically meaningful. Using the word, ‘partial’, in relation to shutdown was probably also an overstatement. So what was involved? And what was agreed today?

Republicans wanted to eliminate left over taxes on the rich and business, that they were not able to achieve with their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) last year. The ACA required $692 billion in taxes on businesses and investors. Republicans and Trump have been chipping away at the ACA ever since their failure to get a full repeal. The shutdown deal marks yet another milestone in the destruction of the health care act. In the agreement Republicans reportedly got to eliminate more of the tax funding base for the ACA, another cut of the $692 billion. (The ACA destruction will result in even more accelerating insurance premiums and even more enrolled dropping from the program).

To make sure they got their business tax cuts, Ryan and McConnell held the SCHIP program hostage. SCHIP is the insurance program for 9 million children whose parents otherwise can’t afford to buy them health coverage. The Democrats got the continuation of SCHIP for another six years. In other words, they ‘got’ what they ‘already had’, while the Republicans got something new–i.e. more tax cuts.

So what about DACA–the 800,000 ‘dreamer’ kids? Wasn’t the Democrats’ refusal to pass the spending bill to fund the government based upon getting the DACA issued resolved? Yes. But the Democratic party leadership dropped that demand in today’s agreement, and instead agreed to refund SCHIP in exchange for three more weeks of government funding, and the further ACA tax cuts. In other words, they got what they had and gave up on DACA. They say DACA is not dead, that they’ll return to it three weeks from now.

But in three weeks from now the Republicans will find another program they will hold hostage, and demand the Democrats fund the government further in exchange for keeping another program going–while the DACA demand will be left hanging once again.

What this all points to is the Democratic Party is continually being outmaneuvered by the Republicans. It’s a sad story that has been the case ever since 2008. Democrat party leaders are proving themselves not only strategically myopic since the 2016 election, but tactically inept as well.

What the recent ‘negotiations’ around the DACA-for-funding the border Wall trade off also reveal is the Republicans keep adding demands to the negotiations, keeping Democrats off balance and unable to hold firm to their initial principled demands.

Also revealing is that Trump was a non-entity in the entire negotiations process. He holds PR press conferences for the TV audience, making it look as if he’s in charge, and will play a positive role in getting the two parties to agree on DACA in exchange for his Wall funding. But he’s not in charge. Whoever gets to him last, he agrees with. Shumer goes down to the White House and thinks he has a deal. But the right wing and corporations walk in the swinging door and Trump changes his position before Shumer can even get back to his office on the hill.

Democrat party second in command in the Senate, Dick Durbin, went on TV to try to pick up the pieces. He asked the DACA kids ‘don’t give up hope’. We’ll deliver next time. But now that the Democrats caved in on their DACA demand, who will believe they’ll prove tougher the next time around three weeks from now? The Republicans will hold out even more confidently, knowing the Democrats will cave again. By giving up on DACA the Democratic party leadership ensures it will be even more difficult next time.

To use a metaphor, it’s like a union declaring its intent to go on strike for a non-negotiable demand, and when the deadline comes telling its union members they’ve changed their mind,they’ve given up the demand, and no one should go on strike…for now. The union leaders then declare publicly they’ll strike ‘next time’ three weeks later. Who among their rank and file are going to believe them? Nor will the Republicans (i.e. the management negotiators per our metaphor). And certainly not the workers (DACA kids). Drawing a line in the sand and then backing up and drawing another accomplishes nothing but demoralization.

*

This article was originally published by Jack Rasmus.

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In India, there is a push to drive people from the countryside into cities. The mainstream narrative implies that urbanisation is natural in the evolution of societies and constitutes progress. The World Bank wants India to relocate 400 million people to urban centres. Former Chief Finance Minister P. Chidambaram once stated that 85% of the population would eventually live in cities, which would mean displacing many more than 400 million people given that the country’s population is heading towards 1.3 billion and that over 60% reside in rural India.

It is easy for some to conflate urbanisation and progress and to believe this is how to ‘develop’. But societies do not ‘evolve’ in a unilinear way. Policy makers merely look to prosperous countries and see the bulk of their populations living in cities with a small percentage working in (heavily subsidised and an unsustainable system of) agriculture. This is what ‘we’ must do, Indian politicians then say, spurred on by World Bank directives.

The route to capitalism and urbanisation was not ‘natural’ in Europe and involved the unforeseen outcomes of conflicts and struggles between peasants, landowners, the emerging class of industrialists and the state. The outcomes of these struggles resulted in different routes to modernity and levels of urbanisation.

In the book ‘The Invention of Capitalism, economic historian Michael Perelmen lays bare the iron fist behind the invisible hand which  whipped the English peasantry in a workforce willing to accept factory wage labour. In this article by Yasha Lavene, it is noted that English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in dangerous factories being set up by a new, rich class of industrial capitalists.

A series of laws and measures were designed to push peasants out of the old and into the new by destroying their traditional means of self-support. Perelman outlines the many different policies through which peasants were forced off the land, not least the destruction of the access to common land by fencing off the commons.

Early capitalists and their cheerleaders complained how peasants were too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited. Indeed, many prominent figures advocated for their impoverishment, so they would leave their land and work for low pay in factories.

In effect, peasants were booted off their land by depriving a largely self-reliant population of its productive means. Although self-reliance persisted among the working class (self-education, recycling products, a culture of thrift, etc), this too was eventually eradicated via advertising and an education system that ensured conformity and dependence on the goods manufactured by capitalism.

‘Development’: facilitating capital

“We build cyber cities and techno parks and IITs at the cost of the welfare of the downtrodden and the environment. We don’t think how our farmers on whose toil we feed manage to sustain themselves; we fail to see how the millions of the poor survive. We look at the state-of-the-art airports, IITs, highways and bridges, the inevitable necessities for the corporate world to spread its tentacles everywhere and thrive, depriving the ordinary people of even the basic necessities of life and believe it is development.” – Sukumaran CV 

Today’s affluent sections of urbanised Indians are often far removed from the daily struggles of the farmers for whom they depend on for their food. While inequalities spiral, many city dwellers echo similar sentiments of the cheerleaders of early capitalism described by Perleman when they say loan waivers for farmers are a drain on the economy and any subsidies given to them or the poor in general just encourages unproductivity or fecklessness.

Neoliberal dogmatists are quite content to sign a death warrant for Indian farmers.

Despite nice-sounding, seemingly benign terms like ‘foreign direct investment’, ‘ease of doing business’, making India ‘business friendly’ or ‘enabling the business of agriculture’- behind the World Bank/corporate-inspired rhetoric, policies and directives is the hard-nosed approach of neoliberal capitalism that is no less brutal for Indian farmers than early industrial capitalism was in England for its peasantry.

Like the English peasantry, India’s farmers are also being booted off the land.

Let us take a look at what has happened to India’s farmers. Trade policy and agriculture specialist Devinder Sharma has written much on their plight (access his writing here). GDP growth has been fuelled on the back of cheap food and the subsequent impoverishment of farmers. The gap between their income and the rest of the population, including public sector workers, has widened enormously. Rural India consumes less calories than it did 40 years ago. And corporations receive massive handouts and interest-free loans because it supposedly spurs job creation (which it has not), while any proposed financial injections (or loan waivers) for agriculture (which would pale into insignificance compared to corporate subsidies/written off loans) are depicted as a drain on the economy.

In short, although farmers continue to produce bumper harvests, the impact of underinvestment, lack of a secure income and effective minimum support prices; the undermining of the public distribution system; exposure to cheap imports courtesy of rigged international trade; the hardship caused by deregulation and profiteering companies which supply seeds and proprietary inputs; the loss of state agricultural support services; and the impacts of the corporate-backed/written Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, have made farming financially non-viable for many.

It is a deliberate strategy: part of the plan to displace the existing system of production with one dominated from seed to food processing to retail to plate by Western corporations. Independent cultivators are being bankrupted, land will be amalgamated to facilitate large-scale industrial cultivation and those that remain will be absorbed into corporate supply chains and squeezed as they work on contracts, the terms of which will be dictated by large agribusiness and chain retailers.  

Between 300,000 and 400,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and millions more are experiencing economic distress. Over 6,000 are leaving the sector each day. And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed and/or envisaged only leads to degraded soil, less diverse and nutrient-deficient diets, polluted water and water shortages and poor health.

In addition to displacing people to facilitate the needs of resource extraction industries, unconstitutional land grabs for special economic zones, nuclear plants and other corporate money-making projects have forced many others from the land.

Various reports have concluded that we need to support more resilient, diverse, sustainable agroecological methods of farming and develop locally-based food economies. Indeed, small farms are more productive than giant industrial (export-oriented) farms and produce most of the world’s food on much less land.

Instead, in India, the trend continues to move in the opposite direction towards industrial-scale agriculture for the benefit of Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer and other transnational players. Is this the future India needs, with a fraction of farmers left on the land, trapped on an environmentally unsustainable chemical-GMO treadmill?

While whipping farmers, tribals and the unorganised sector into submission by depriving them of their livelihoods by one way or another, India’s political elite blindly adhere to the mantra that urbanisation equals progress and look to the West, whose path to ‘development’ was based on colonialism, eradicating self-reliance and beating the peasantry into submission. There was nothing ‘natural’ or ‘progressive’ about any of it. It involved the planned eradication of peasants and rural life by capitalist interests and the sucking of wealth from places like India.

In India, the bidding of capital is these days done through its compliant politicians, the World Bank, the WTO and lop-sided, egregious back-room deals written by corporations.  

Further information about the issues raised can be found in these articles by the author.

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In India, there is a push to drive people from the countryside into cities. The mainstream narrative implies that urbanisation is natural in the evolution of societies and constitutes progress. The World Bank wants India to relocate 400 million people to urban centres. Former Chief Finance Minister P. Chidambaram once stated that 85% of the population would eventually live in cities, which would mean displacing many more than 400 million people given that the country’s population is heading towards 1.3 billion and that over 60% reside in rural India.

It is easy for some to conflate urbanisation and progress and to believe this is how to ‘develop’. But societies do not ‘evolve’ in a unilinear way. Policy makers merely look to prosperous countries and see the bulk of their populations living in cities with a small percentage working in (heavily subsidised and an unsustainable system of) agriculture. This is what ‘we’ must do, Indian politicians then say, spurred on by World Bank directives.

The route to capitalism and urbanisation was not ‘natural’ in Europe and involved the unforeseen outcomes of conflicts and struggles between peasants, landowners, the emerging class of industrialists and the state. The outcomes of these struggles resulted in different routes to modernity and levels of urbanisation.

In the book ‘The Invention of Capitalism, economic historian Michael Perelmen lays bare the iron fist behind the invisible hand which  whipped the English peasantry in a workforce willing to accept factory wage labour. In this article by Yasha Lavene, it is noted that English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in dangerous factories being set up by a new, rich class of industrial capitalists.

A series of laws and measures were designed to push peasants out of the old and into the new by destroying their traditional means of self-support. Perelman outlines the many different policies through which peasants were forced off the land, not least the destruction of the access to common land by fencing off the commons.

Early capitalists and their cheerleaders complained how peasants were too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited. Indeed, many prominent figures advocated for their impoverishment, so they would leave their land and work for low pay in factories.

In effect, peasants were booted off their land by depriving a largely self-reliant population of its productive means. Although self-reliance persisted among the working class (self-education, recycling products, a culture of thrift, etc), this too was eventually eradicated via advertising and an education system that ensured conformity and dependence on the goods manufactured by capitalism.

‘Development’: facilitating capital

“We build cyber cities and techno parks and IITs at the cost of the welfare of the downtrodden and the environment. We don’t think how our farmers on whose toil we feed manage to sustain themselves; we fail to see how the millions of the poor survive. We look at the state-of-the-art airports, IITs, highways and bridges, the inevitable necessities for the corporate world to spread its tentacles everywhere and thrive, depriving the ordinary people of even the basic necessities of life and believe it is development.” – Sukumaran CV 

Today’s affluent sections of urbanised Indians are often far removed from the daily struggles of the farmers for whom they depend on for their food. While inequalities spiral, many city dwellers echo similar sentiments of the cheerleaders of early capitalism described by Perleman when they say loan waivers for farmers are a drain on the economy and any subsidies given to them or the poor in general just encourages unproductivity or fecklessness.

Neoliberal dogmatists are quite content to sign a death warrant for Indian farmers.

Despite nice-sounding, seemingly benign terms like ‘foreign direct investment’, ‘ease of doing business’, making India ‘business friendly’ or ‘enabling the business of agriculture’- behind the World Bank/corporate-inspired rhetoric, policies and directives is the hard-nosed approach of neoliberal capitalism that is no less brutal for Indian farmers than early industrial capitalism was in England for its peasantry.

Like the English peasantry, India’s farmers are also being booted off the land.

Let us take a look at what has happened to India’s farmers. Trade policy and agriculture specialist Devinder Sharma has written much on their plight (access his writing here). GDP growth has been fuelled on the back of cheap food and the subsequent impoverishment of farmers. The gap between their income and the rest of the population, including public sector workers, has widened enormously. Rural India consumes less calories than it did 40 years ago. And corporations receive massive handouts and interest-free loans because it supposedly spurs job creation (which it has not), while any proposed financial injections (or loan waivers) for agriculture (which would pale into insignificance compared to corporate subsidies/written off loans) are depicted as a drain on the economy.

In short, although farmers continue to produce bumper harvests, the impact of underinvestment, lack of a secure income and effective minimum support prices; the undermining of the public distribution system; exposure to cheap imports courtesy of rigged international trade; the hardship caused by deregulation and profiteering companies which supply seeds and proprietary inputs; the loss of state agricultural support services; and the impacts of the corporate-backed/written Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, have made farming financially non-viable for many.

It is a deliberate strategy: part of the plan to displace the existing system of production with one dominated from seed to food processing to retail to plate by Western corporations. Independent cultivators are being bankrupted, land will be amalgamated to facilitate large-scale industrial cultivation and those that remain will be absorbed into corporate supply chains and squeezed as they work on contracts, the terms of which will be dictated by large agribusiness and chain retailers.  

Between 300,000 and 400,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and millions more are experiencing economic distress. Over 6,000 are leaving the sector each day. And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed and/or envisaged only leads to degraded soil, less diverse and nutrient-deficient diets, polluted water and water shortages and poor health.

In addition to displacing people to facilitate the needs of resource extraction industries, unconstitutional land grabs for special economic zones, nuclear plants and other corporate money-making projects have forced many others from the land.

Various reports have concluded that we need to support more resilient, diverse, sustainable agroecological methods of farming and develop locally-based food economies. Indeed, small farms are more productive than giant industrial (export-oriented) farms and produce most of the world’s food on much less land.

Instead, in India, the trend continues to move in the opposite direction towards industrial-scale agriculture for the benefit of Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer and other transnational players. Is this the future India needs, with a fraction of farmers left on the land, trapped on an environmentally unsustainable chemical-GMO treadmill?

While whipping farmers, tribals and the unorganised sector into submission by depriving them of their livelihoods by one way or another, India’s political elite blindly adhere to the mantra that urbanisation equals progress and look to the West, whose path to ‘development’ was based on colonialism, eradicating self-reliance and beating the peasantry into submission. There was nothing ‘natural’ or ‘progressive’ about any of it. It involved the planned eradication of peasants and rural life by capitalist interests and the sucking of wealth from places like India.

In India, the bidding of capital is these days done through its compliant politicians, the World Bank, the WTO and lop-sided, egregious back-room deals written by corporations.  

Further information about the issues raised can be found in these articles by the author.

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Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

January 23rd, 2018 by Ray McGovern

We learned in recent days that the FBI and the National Security Agency “inadvertently” deleted electronic messages relating to reported felonies, but one noxious reality persists: No one in the FBI or NSA is likely to be held to account for these “mistakes.”

It is a 70 year-old tradition. Today’s lack of accountability is enabled by (1) corruption at the top of intelligence agencies; (2) the convenient secrecy behind which their leaders hide; (3) bureaucratic indignities and structural flaws in the system; (4) the indulgence/complicity of most of the “mainstream media;” and (5) the eunuchs leading the Congressional “oversight” committees, who — history shows — can be bullied by threats, including blackmail, a la former longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

It is a safe bet, though, that neither the FBI nor NSA have deleted their holdings on key Congressional leaders — including House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who used to boast about her very long tenure as head of the House Intelligence Committee, only to complain later that “they [intelligence officials] mislead us all the time.”

In fact, Pelosi was briefed by the NSA and CIA on all manner of crimes, including warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and torture.

The lack of intelligence accountability has created a kind of perfect storm, enabling felonies and lesser mischief ordered by those sitting atop the intelligence community. While press reports indicate that the Congressional oversight committees now have “explosive” documentary proof — not yet deleted — of such crimes, it remains to be seen whether the committees will have the courage to do their duty under the law.

Even if they try, the odds are against their being able to make much headway, in the face of stiff resistance from the heads of intelligence agencies and a suborned/frightened “mainstream media.”

Rosemary Woods on Steroids

Those of us with a little gray in our hair will remember the infamous, 18.5-minute gap “mistakenly” caused by Rosemary Woods, President Richard Nixon’s longtime secretary, while transcribing a key Oval Office tape of a discussion between President Richard Nixon and his partner-in-crime-cum-chief of staff H.R. Haldeman right after the Watergate break-in. (The tape itself was then destroyed.)

Younger folks may recall reporting on the videotapes of waterboarding at a CIA “black site” in Thailand in 2002, tapes that were deliberately destroyed in 2005 at the order of Jose Rodriguez, head of the CIA operations directorate at the time.

Woods testified that she had erased part of the tape by mistake. She suffered no consequences for her “mistake,” and died in 2005 at age 87.

And to no one’s surprise, Rodriguez also landed on his feet.

CIA officials initially claimed that the videotapes were destroyed to protect the identity of the interrogators — read torturers. It was later revealed that then-Executive Director of the CIA, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, wrote in an email that Rodriguez thought “the heat from destroying is nothing compared with what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain,” adding that they would be “should devastating to us.”

Foggo ended up in prison as a result of an unrelated fraud case. Sadly, no senior intelligence official following the time-(dis)honored Foggo/Rodriguez approach today are likely to end up behind bars, unless this time Congress shows unaccustomed courage.

*

Ray McGovern works with the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington. After retiring from a 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Thought Police for the 21st Century

January 23rd, 2018 by Chris Hedges

The abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the power to destroy freedom of speech. Any state that accrues this kind of power will use it. And for that reason I traveled last week to Detroit to join David North, the chairperson of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site, in a live-stream event calling for the formation of a broad front to block an escalating censorship while we still have a voice.

“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans,” Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in a statement issued in support of the event. “Between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence. While the Internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities.”

In late April and early May the World Socialist Web Site, which identifies itself as a Trotskyite group that focuses on the crimes of capitalism, the plight of the working class and imperialism, began to see a steep decline in readership. The decline persisted into June. Search traffic to the World Socialist Web Site has been reduced by 75 percent overall. And the site is not alone. AlterNet’s search traffic is down 71 percent, Consortium News is down 72 percent, Global Research and Truthdig have seen declines. And the situation appears to be growing worse.

The reductions coincided with the introduction of algorithms imposed by Google to fight “fake news.” Google said the algorithms are designed to elevate “more authoritative content” and marginalize “blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.” It soon became apparent, however, that in the name of combating “fake news,” Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are censoring left-wing, progressive and anti-war sites. The 150 most popular search terms that brought readers to the World Socialist Web Site, including “socialism,” “Russian Revolution” and “inequality,” today elicit little or no traffic.

Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in a hearing Wednesday that Facebook employs a security team of 10,000—7,500 of whom “assess potentially violating content”—and that “by the end of 2018 we will more than double” it to over 20,000. Social media companies are intertwined with and often work for U.S. intelligence agencies. This army of censors is our Thought Police.

The group, Bickert said, includes “a dedicated counterterrorism team” of “former intelligence and law-enforcement officials and prosecutors who worked in the area of counterterrorism.” She testified that artificial intelligence automatically flags questionable content. Facebook, she said, does not “wait for these … bad actors to upload content to Facebook before placing it into our detection systems.” The “propaganda” that Facebook blocks, she said, “is content that we identify ourselves before anybody” else can see it. Facebook, she said, along with over a dozen other social media companies has created a blacklist of 50,000 “unique digital fingerprints” that can prevent content from being posted.

“We believe that a key part of combating extremism is preventing recruitment by disrupting the underlying ideologies that drive people to commit acts of violence,” she told the committee. “That’s why we support a variety of counterspeech efforts.”

“Counterspeech” is a word that could have been lifted from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

Eric Schmidt, who is stepping down this month as the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has acknowledged that Google is creating algorithms to “de-rank” Russian-based news websites RT and Sputnik from its Google News services, effectively blocking them. The U.S. Department of Justice forced RT America, on which I host a show, “On Contact,” that gives a voice to anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist voices, to register as a “foreign agent.” Google removed RT from its “preferred” channels on YouTube. Twitter has blocked the Russian news service agencies RT and Sputnik from advertising.

This censorship is global. The German government’s Network Enforcement Act fines social media companies for allegedly objectionable content. French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to remove “fake news” from the internet. Facebook and Instagram erased the accounts of Ramzan Kadyrov, the dictator of the Chechen Republic, because he is on a U.S. sanctions list. Kadyrov is certainly repugnant, but this ban, as the American Civil Liberties Union points out, empowers the U.S. government to effectively censor content. Facebook, working with the Israeli government, has removed over 100 accounts of Palestinian activists. This is an ominous march to an Orwellian world of Thought Police, “Newspeak” and “thought-crime” or, as Facebook likes to call it, “de-ranking” and “counterspeech.”

The censorship, justified in the name of combating terrorism by blocking the content of extremist groups, is also designed to prevent a distressed public from accessing the language and ideas needed to understand corporate oppression, imperialism and socialism.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” Orwell wrote in “1984.” “In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. … Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. …”

Corporate capitalism, and the ideology that justifies it—neoliberalism, the free market, globalization—no longer has any credibility. All of the utopian promises of globalization have been exposed as lies. Allowing banks and corporations to determine how we should order human society and govern ourselves did not spread global wealth, raise the living standards of workers or implant democracy across the globe. The ideology, preached in business schools and by pliant politicians, was a thin cover for the rapacious greed of the elites, elites who now control most of the world’s wealth.

The ruling elites know they are in trouble. The Republican and Democratic parties’ abject subservience to corporate power is transparent. The insurgencies in the two parties that saw Bernie Sanders nearly defeat the seemingly preordained Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and the election of Donald Trump terrify the elites. The elites, by attacking critics and dissidents as foreign agents for Russia, are seeking to deflect attention from the cause of these insurgencies—massive social inequality. Critics of the corporate state and imperialism, already pushed to the margins, are now dangerous because the elites no longer have a viable counterargument. And so these dissidents must be silenced.

“What’s so specifically important about this is that in a period of growing political radicalization among young people, among workers, they start to look for oppositional information, they become interested in socialism, revolution, terms like ‘equality,’ those terms which previously would bring thousands of readers to the World Socialist Web Site, now were bringing no readers to the World Socialist Web Site,” North said. “In other words, they were setting up a quarantine between those who may be interested in our site and the WSWS. From being a bridge, Google was becoming a barrier, a guard preventing access to our site.”

The internet, with its ability to reach across international boundaries, is a potent tool for connecting workers across the earth who are fighting the same enemy—corporate capitalism. And control of the internet, the elites know, is vital to suppress information and consciousness.

“There is no national solution to the problems of American capitalism,” North said. “The effort of the United States is to overcome this through a policy of war. Because what, ultimately, is imperialism? The inability to solve the problems of the nation-state within national borders drives the policy of war and conquest. That is what is emerging. Under conditions of war, the threat of war, conditions of growing and immeasurable inequality, democracy cannot survive. The tendency now is the suppression of democracy. And just as there is no national solution for capitalism, there is no national solution for the working class.”

“War is not an expression of the strength of the system,” North said. “It is an expression of profound and deep crisis. Trotsky said in the Transitional Program: ‘The ruling elites toboggan with eyes closed toward catastrophe.’ In 1939, they went to war, as in 1914, aware of the potentially disastrous consequences. Certainly, in 1939, they knew what the consequences of war were: War brings revolution. But they could not see a way out. The global problems which exist can only be solved in one of two ways: the capitalist, imperialist solution is war and […] fascism. The working-class solution is socialist revolution. This is, I think, the alternative we’re confronted with. So, the question that has come up, in the broadest sense, [is] what is the answer to the problems we face? Building a revolutionary party.”

“There is going to be, and there is already unfolding, massive social struggles,” North said. “The question of social revolution is not utopian. It is a process that emerges objectively out of the contradictions of capitalism. I think the argument can be made—and I think we made this argument—that really, since 2008, we have been witnessing an acceleration of crisis. It has never been solved, and, indeed, the massive levels of social inequality are themselves not the expression of a healthy but [instead] a deeply diseased socioeconomic order. It is fueling, at every level, social opposition. Of course, the great problem, then, is overcoming the legacy of political confusion, produced, as a matter of fact, by the defeats and the betrayals of the 20th century: the betrayal of the Russian Revolution by Stalinism; the betrayals of the working class by social democracy; the subordination of the working class in the United States to the Democratic Party. These are the critical issues and lessons that have to be learned. The education of the working class in these issues, and the development of perspective, is the most critical point … the basic problem is not an absence of courage. It is not an absence of the desire to fight. It is an absence of understanding.”

“Socialist consciousness must be brought into the working class,” North said. “There is a working class. That working class is open now and receptive to revolutionary ideas. Our challenge is to create the conditions. The workers will not learn this in the universities. The Marxist movement, the Trotskyist movement, must provide the working class with the intellectual, cultural tools that it requires, so that it understands what must be done. It will provide the force, it will provide the determination, the emotional and passionate fuel of every revolutionary movement is present. But what it requires is understanding. And we will, and we are seeking to defend internet freedom because we want to make use of this medium, along with others, to create the conditions for this education and revival of revolutionary consciousness to take place.”

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Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, former professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. 

Featured image is from Mr. Fish/Truthdig.

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Recent Algerian media reports detailing Saudi propagation of a quietist, apolitical yet supremacist and anti-pluralistic form of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism raises questions about the scope of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s commitment to what he has termed ‘moderate’ Islam. So does Saudi missionary activity in Yemen.

The missionary activities suggest that Saudi Arabia continues to see ultra-conservatism as the primary ideological antidote to Iranian revolutionary zeal. Saudi Arabia has invested an estimated $100 billion over the last four decades in globally promoting ultra-conservatism in a bid to counter the Islamic republic. The campaign has contributed to greater conservatism and intolerance in Muslim communities and countries and in some cases fuelled sectarianism.

Saudi support for ultra-conservatism does not by definition call into question the kingdom’s determination to fight violent radicalism and extremism, and counter non-violent political expressions of Islam.

More recently, the kingdom has been willing to surrender control of major religious institutions that it funds and controls when that proves to be beneficial to improving its image, tarnished by negative perceptions of its support for ultra-conservatism.

The grand mosque and Islamic centre in Brussels, Europe’s largest, is a case in point. Saudi Arabia, responding to Belgian criticism of the mosque’s ultra-conservative Saudi management, last year appointed as its imam, Tamer Abou el Saod, a 57-year polyglot Luxemburg-based, Swedish consultant with a career in the food industry.

The appointment followed complaints in parliament about Saudi and other ultra-conservatives who managed the mosque. Senior Saudi officials have responded positively to a Belgian government initiative to prematurely terminate the kingdom’s 99-year lease of the mosque so that it can take control of it.

Prince Mohammed has created expectations of greater social liberalism by vowing to return Saudi Arabia to an undefined form of “moderate” Islam; lifting a ban on women’s driving, a residual of Bedouin rather than Muslim tradition; granting women access to male sporting events; allowing various forms of entertainment, including cinema, theatre and music; and stripping the religious police of its right to carry out arrests.

The reforms notwithstanding, Saudi Arabia has yet to indicate whether it has reduced its long-standing funding for ultra-conservative educational and cultural facilities even though Saudi financing vehicles like the World Muslim League have re-positioned themselves as promoters of tolerance and humanitarianism. The league operates the Brussels mosque.

Source: algeriepatriotique

The League’s secretary general, Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, a former Saudi justice minister, has in the last year argued that his organization was “a global umbrella for Islamic people that promotes the principles and values of peace, forgiveness, co-existence, and humanitarian cooperation” that organizes inter-faith conferences.

Algerian media reported however that the kingdom’s assertion that it promotes moderate and more tolerant strands of Islam may not be universal.

“While Saudi Arabia tries to promote the image of a country that is ridding itself of its fanatics, it sends to other countries the most radical of its doctrines,” asserted independent Algerian newspaper El Watan.

El Watan and other media reproduced a letter written by Saudi Sheikh Hadi Ben Ali Al-Madkhali, a scion of Sheikh Rabia Al-Madkhali, the intellectual father of a quietist strand of Salafism that projected the kingdom prior to Prince Mohammed’s reforms as the ideal place for those who seek a pure Islam that has not been compromised by non-Muslim cultural practices and secularism. The letter appoints three prominent Algerian scholars, including Mohamed Ali Ferkous, widely viewed as the spiritual guide of Algerian Madkhalists, as Salafism’s representatives in Algeria.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia has said it would open a Salafi missionary centre in the Yemeni province of Al Mahrah on the border with Oman and the kingdom. Saudi Arabia’s ill-fated military intervention in Yemen was sparked by its conflict with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a Zaydi Shiite Muslim sect with roots in a region bordering the kingdom, that dates to Saudi employment of Salafism to counter the group in the 1980s.

Question marks about what Prince Mohammed defines as moderate Islam are fuelled by a widespread assumption that the ruling Al Saud family cannot afford a clean break with ultra-conservatism in general and Wahhabism, its specific Saudi strand, in particular, because it derives its legitimacy from the kingdom’s religious establishment.

Prince Mohammed’s grip on power by virtue of his position as heir to the throne, defense minister, and economic czar that was cemented with last year’s purge of prominent family members, businessmen and officials in what amounted to a power and asset grab may, however, persuade him that the family no longer needs religious legitimacy.

Prince Mohammed’s moves have put an end to rule based on consultation within the Al Saud family and more than ever forced the ultra-conservative religious establishment to endorse his moves in a bid to survive and retain some degree of influence rather than out of conviction. In effect, Prince Mohammed has assumed the kind of power associated with one-man-rule, possibly convincing him that his legitimacy is rooted in his power and image as a reformer rather than ultra-conservatism.

Like with many of his reforms, Prince Mohammed is treading on fragile ground as long as his popularity is based on expectations rather than delivery. There has so far been little in his social reforms at home or declarations about Islam that suggests that he intends to go beyond curbing the rough edges of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism and creating the building blocks for an autocratic monarchy capable of performing economically and technologically in a 21st century world.

Prince Mohammed’s social and ideological reforms no doubt seek to fight political violence. The crown prince has yet to demonstrate that this involves in practice rather than words the countering of an ultra-conservative ideology that breeds intolerance, fosters anti-pluralism, and potentially creates breeding grounds for radicalism.

*

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and co-host of the New Books in Middle Eastern Studies podcast. James is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title as well as Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and  Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.

This article was originally published by The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

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First published by Global Research on November 16, 2013

Revelations about the long-term global, intrusive spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other allied intelligence apparatuses have provoked widespread protests and indignation and threatened ties between erstwhile imperial allies. 

Allied regimes have uniformly condemned NSA espionage as a violation of trust and sovereignty, a threat to their national and economic security and to their citizens’ privacy.

In contrast, Washington has responded in a contradictory manner: on the one hand, US officials and intelligence chiefs have acknowledged ‘some excesses and mistakes’, on the other hand, they defend the entire surveillance program as necessary for US national security.

Interpretations vary about the US global spy apparatus – how it was built and why it was launched against  hundreds of millions of people. ‘Subjective’ and ‘objective’ explanations abound, evoking psychological, social, economic, strategic and political considerations.

 A multi-factorial explanation is required.

The Integrated Hypothesis of the Global Police State

One of the essential components of a police state is an all-pervasive spy apparatus operating independently of any legal or constitutional constraints.  Spy operations include: 1) massive surveillance over text, video and audio communications and 2) the capacity to secretly record, store and use information secretly collected.  This information strengthens political and economic leaders who, in turn, appoint and direct the spy chiefs.  The political and economic rulers control the spy-lords by setting the goals, means and targets of the surveillance state.  The US global spy apparatus is neither ‘self-starting nor self-perpetuating’.  It did not arise in a vacuum and it has virtually no strategic autonomy.  While there may be intra-bureaucratic conflicts and rivalries, the institutions and groups function within the overall ‘paradigm’ established and directed by the political and economic elite.

 The Global Spy Structure

The growth and expansion of the US spy apparatus has deep roots in its history and is related to the colonial need to control subjugated native and enslaved peoples. However, the global operations emerged after the Second World War when the US replaced Europe as the center of world imperialism.  The US assumed the principal role in preventing the spread of revolutionary and anti-colonial movements from the Soviet Union, China , Korea , Vietnam and Cuba to war and crisis-burdened countries of Europe, North and Southeast Asia and Latin America .  When the collectivist states fell apart in the 1990’s the US became the sole superpower and a unipolar world emerged.

For the United States, ‘unipolarity’ meant (1) an impetus toward total global domination; (2) a world-wide network of military bases; (3) the subordination of capitalist competitors in other industrial countries, (4) the destruction of nationalist adversaries and (6) the unfettered pillage of resources from the former collectivist regimes as they became vassal states.  The last condition meant the complete dismantling of the collectivist state and its public institutions – education, health care and worker rights.

The opportunities for immense profits and supreme control over this vast new empire were boundless while the risks seemed puny, at least during the ‘golden period’, defined by the years immediately after (1) the capitalist takeover of the ex-Soviet bloc, (2) the Chinese transition to capitalism and (3) the conversion of many former African and Asian nationalist regimes, parties and movements to ‘free-market’ capitalism.

Dazzled by their vision of a ‘new world to conquer’ the United States set up an international state apparatus in order to exploit this world-historical opportunity.  Most top political leaders, intelligence strategists, military officials and business elites quickly realized that these easy initial conquests and the complicity of pliable and kleptocratic post-Communist vassal rulers would not last.  The societies would eventually react and the lucrative plunder of resources was not sustainable.  Nationalist adversaries were bound to arise and demand their own spheres of influence.  The White House feared their own capitalist allies would take on the role of imperialist competitors seeking to grab ‘their share’ of the booty, taking over and exploiting resources, public enterprises and cheap labor. 

The new ‘unipolar world’ meant the shredding of the fabric of social and political life.  In the ‘transition’ to free market capitalism, stable employment, access to health care, security, education and civilized living standards disappeared.  In the place of once complex, advanced social systems, local tribal and ethnic wars erupted.  It would be ‘divide and conquer’ in an orgy of pillage for the empire.  But the vast majority of the people of the world suffered from chaos and regression when the multi-polar world of collectivist, nationalist, and imperialist regimes gave way to the unipolar empire. 

For US imperialist strategists and their academic apologists the transition to a unipolar imperial world was exhilarating and they dubbed their unchallenged domination the ‘ New World Order’ (NWO).  The US imperial state then had the right and duty to maintain and police its ‘New World Order’ – by any means. Francis Fukiyama, among other academic apologists celebrated the ‘end of history’ in a paroxysm of imperial fever. Liberal-imperial academics, like Immanuel Wallerstein, sensed the emerging challenges to the US Empire and advanced the view of a Manichean world of ‘unipolarity’ (meaning ‘order’) versus ‘multipolar chaos’– as if the hundreds of millions of lives in scores of countries devastated by the rise of the post-collectivist US empire did not have a stake in liberating themselves from the yoke of a unipolar world.

By the end of its first decade, the unipolar empire exhibited cracks and fissures.  It had to confront adversarial nationalist regimes in resource-rich countries, including Muammar Gaddafi in Libya , Bashar Assad in Syria , Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Khamenei in Iran .  They challenged US supremacy in North Africa and the Middle East .  The Taliban in Afghanistan and nationalist Islamist movements questioned US influence over the vassal rulers of Muslim countries – especially the puppet monarchs in the Persian Gulf .

On the other side of the imperial coin, the domestic economic foundations of the ‘New World Order’ were weakened by a series of speculative crises undermining the support of the US public as well as sectors of the elite.  Meanwhile European and Japanese allies, as well as emerging Chinese capitalists, were beginning to compete for markets.

Within the US an ultra-militarist group of political ideologues, public officials and policy advisers, embracing a doctrine combining a domestic police state with foreign military intervention, took power in Washington .  ‘Conservatives’ in the Bush, Sr. regime, ‘liberals’ in the Clinton administration and ‘neo-conservatives’ in the Bush, Jr. administration all sought and secured the power to launch wars in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans, to expand and consolidate the unipolar empire.

            Maintaining and expanding the unipolar empire became the trigger for the White House’s global police state apparatus.  As new regimes were added to Washington ’s orbit, more and more surveillance was needed to make sure they did not drift into a competitor’s sphere of influence.

The year 2000 was critical for the global police state.  First there was the dot-com crash in the financial sector.  The speculative collapse caused massive but unorganized disaffection among the domestic population.  Arab resistance re-emerged in the Middle East .  The cosmically corrupt Boris Yeltsin vassal state fell and a nationalist, Russian President Vladimir Putin took power.  The willing accomplices to the disintegration of the former USSR had taken their billions and fled to New York , London and Israel . Russia was on the road to recovery as a unified nuclear-armed nation state with regional ambitions.  The period of unchallenged unipolar imperial expansion had ended.

The election of President Bush Jr., opened the executive branch to police state ideologues and civilian warlords, many linked to the state of Israel , who were determined to destroy secular Arab nationalist and Muslim adversaries in the Middle East .  The steady growth of the global police state had been ‘too slow’ for them.  The newly ascendant warlords and the proponents of the global police state wanted to take advantage of their golden opportunity to make US/Israeli supremacy in the Middle East irreversible and unquestioned via the application of overwhelming force (‘shock and awe’).

Their primary political problem in expanding global military power was the lack of a fully dominant domestic police state capable of demobilizing American public opinion largely opposed to any new wars.  ‘Disaster ideologues’ like Phillip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice understood the need for a new ‘ Pearl Harbor ’ to occur and threaten domestic security and thereby terrify the public into war. They lamented the fact that no credible regimes were left in the Middle East to cast as the ‘armed aggressor’ and as a threat to US national security. Such an enemy was vital to the launching of new wars. And new wars were necessary to justify the scale and scope of the new global spy apparatus and emergency police state edicts the warlords and neoconservatives had in mind.  Absent a credible ‘state-based adversary’, the militarists settled for an act of terror (or the appearance of one) to ‘shock and awe’ the US public into accepting its project for imperial wars, the imposition of a domestic police state and the establishment of a vast global spy apparatus.

The September 11, 2001 explosions at the World Trade Center in New York City and the plane crash into a wing (mostly vacant for repairs) of the Pentagon in Washington , DC were the triggers for a vast political and bureaucratic transformation of the US imperial state.  The entire state apparatus became a police state operation.  All constitutional guarantees were suspended.  The neo-conservatives seized power, the civilian warlords ruled.  A huge body of police state legislation suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere, the ‘Patriot Act’.  The Zionists in office set the objectives and influenced military policies to focus on Israel ’s regional interests and the destruction of Israel ’s Arab adversaries who had opposed its annexation of Palestine .  War was declared against Afghanistan without any evidence that the ruling Taliban was involved or aware of the September 11 attack of the US .  Despite massive civilian and even some military dissent, the civilian warlords and Zionist officials blatantly fabricated a series of pretexts to justify an unprovoked war against the secular nationalist regime in Iraq , the most advanced of all Arab countries. Europe was divided over the war. Countries in Asia and Latin America joined Germany and France in refusing to support the invasion.  The United Kingdom , under a ‘Labor’ government, eagerly joined forces with the US hoping to regain some of its former colonial holdings in the Gulf.

At home, hundreds of billions of tax dollars were diverted from social programs to fund a vast army of police state operatives.  The ideologues of war and the legal eagles for torture and the police state shifted into high gear.  Those who opposed the wars were identified, monitored and the details of their lives were ‘filed away’ in a vast database.  Soon millions came to be labeled as ‘persons of interest’ if they were connected in any way to anyone who was ‘suspect’, i.e. opposed to the ‘Global War on Terror’.  Eventually even more tenuous links were made to everyone…family members, classmates and employers.

Over 1.5 million ‘security cleared’ monitors were contracted by the government to spy on hundreds of millions of citizens. The spy state spread domestically and internationally.  For a global empire, based on a unipolar state, the best defense was judged to be a massive global surveillance apparatus operating independently of any other government – including the closest allies.

The slogan, ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT) became an open-ended formula for the civilian warlords, militarists and Zionists to expand the scope and duration of overt and covert warfare and espionage.  ‘Homeland Security’ departments, operating at both the Federal and State levels, were consolidated and expanded with massive budgets for incarceration and repression.  Constitutional protections and the Writ of Habeas Corpus were ‘rendered quaint vestiges of history’.  The National Security Agency doubled its personnel and budget with a mandate to distrust and monitor allies and vassal states. The targets piled upon targets, far beyond traditional adversaries, sweeping up the public and private communications of all political, military and economic leaders , institutions, and  citizenry.

The ‘Global War on Terror’ provided the ideological framework for a police state based on the totalitarian conception that ‘everybody and everything is connected to each other’ in a ‘global system’ threatening the state.  This ‘totalistic view’ informs the logic of the expanded NSA, linking enemies, adversaries, competitors and allies.  ‘Enemies’ were defined as anti-imperialist states or regimes with consistently critical independent foreign and domestic policies. ‘Adversaries’ occasionally sided with ‘enemies’, or tolerated policymakers who would not always conform to imperial policies.  ‘Competitors’ supported the empire but had the capacity and opportunity to make lucrative trade deals with adversaries or enemies – Allies were states and leaders who generally supported imperial wars but might provide a forum condemning imperial war crimes (torture and drone attacks).  In addition allies could undermine US imperial market shares and accumulate favorable trade balances.

The logic of the NSA required spying on the allies to root out any links, trade, cultural or scientific relations with adversaries and enemies, which might have spillover consequences. The NSA feared that associations in one sphere might ‘overlap’ with adversaries operating in strategic policy areas and undermine ally loyalty to the empire.

            The spy logic had a multiplier effect – who gets to ‘spy on the spies?’  The NSA might collaborate with overseas allied intelligence agencies and officials – but American spymasters would always question their reliability, their inclination to withhold vital information, the potential for shifting loyalties. ‘Do our allies spy on us?  How do we know our own spies are not colluding with allied spies who might then be colluding with adversarial spies?’  This justified the establishment of a huge national vacuum cleaner to suck up all transactions and communications – justified by the notion that a wide net scooping up everything might catch that big fish!

The NSA regards all ‘threats to the unipolar empire’ as national security threats.  No country or agency within or without the reach of the empire was excluded as a ‘potential threat’.

            The ‘lead imperial state’ requires the most efficient and overarching spy technology with the furthest and deepest reach.  Overseas allies appear relatively inefficient, vulnerable to infiltration, infected with the residua of a long-standing suspect ‘leftist culture’ and unable to confront the threat of new dangerous adversaries.  The imperial logic regards surveillance of ‘allies’ as ‘protecting allied interests’ because the allies lack the will and capacity to deal with enemy infiltration.

There is a circular logic to the surveillance state.  When an allied leader starts to question how imperial espionage protects allied interest, it is time to intensify spying on the ally. Any foreign ally who questions NSA surveillance over its citizens raises deep suspicions.  Washington believes that questioning imperial surveillance undermines political loyalties.

Secret Police Spying as a “Process of Accumulation”

            Like capitalism, which needs to constantly expand and accumulate capital, secret police bureaucracies require more spies to discover new areas, institutions and people to monitor.  Leaders, followers, citizens, immigrants, members of ethnic, religious, civic and political groups and individuals – all are subject to surveillance.  This requires vast armies of data managers and analysts, operatives, programmers, software developers and supervisors – an empire of ‘IT’.  The ever-advancing technology needs an ever-expanding base of operation.

The spy- masters move from local to regional to global operations.  Facing exposure and condemnation of its global chain of spying, the NSA calls for a new ‘defensive ideology’.  To formulate the ideology, a small army of academic hacks is trotted out to announce the phony alternatives of a ‘unipolar police state or terror and chaos’.  The public is presented with a fabricated choice of its perpetual, ‘well-managed and hi-tech’, imperial wars versus the fragmentation and collapse of the entire world into a global war of ‘all against all’.  Academic ideologues studiously avoid mentioning that small wars by small powers end more quickly and have fewer casualties.

The ever-expanding technology of spying strengthens the police state.  The list of targets is endless and bizarre.  Nothing and no one will be missed!

            As under capitalism, the growth of the spy state triggers crisis.  With the inevitable rise of opposition, whistleblowers come forward to denounce the surveillance state.  At its peak, spy-state over-reach leads to exposure, public scandals and threats from allies, competitors and adversaries.  The rise of cyber-imperialism raises the specter of cyber-anti-imperialism.  New conceptions of inter-state relations and global configurations are debated and considered.  World public opinion increasingly rejects the ‘necessity’ of police states.  Popular disgust and reason exposes the evil logic of the spy-state based on empire and promotes a plural world of peaceful rival countries, functioning under co-operative policies – systems without empire, without spymasters and spies.

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Video: Hollywood’s Pro-Soviet Propaganda vs. The “Russia Probe”

January 23rd, 2018 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

First published by GR in May 2017

This title might surprise you.

But at the height of the Second World War, America and the Soviet Union were allies.

And Hollywood as of June 1941 was involved in producing a very different type of war film.

The United States’ attitude towards the Soviet Union shifted on 22nd of june 1941, when Hitler began sending his Panzers towards Moscow, and after December ’41 the alliance between the two opposite systems was a necessity. So, the American’s perceptions of the Soviet Union had to be shaped overnight so that FDR could receive popular support for entering the war on the Soviet Union’s side. The responsibility for such a task was put on the back of the oWI (office of War Information). Understanding the relationship between this agency and Hollywood can help shed light the objectives of pro-Soviet films released between 1942 and 1945. (Andrei Cojoc)

North Star 1943, starring Anne Baxter, Walter Houston, Dana Andrews and Walter Brennan.

According to Andrei Cojoc, “The highlight of the movie is the resistance fight of the heroic villagers, portrayed by an all American cast”.

The movie was decidedly pro-Soviet, pro-Communist describing Nazi repression in rural Ukraine. A variation of  “The International” was used as background music: “Comrades our people are at war… The Germans are 50 miles away.”

There was no “Russia Probe” in 1943.  “I am a guerrilla fighter of the Soviet Union”.

The Soviet people were described as freedom fighters. “It is our land, we swear to give our lives…”

Hollywood was recounting the courageous battle of villagers against Nazi Germany with the support of the Red Army and how the heroic Soviet peasantry was resisting Nazi occupation.

Every major studio (except Paramount) submitted its share of pro-Soviet movies: Samuel Goldwin’s North Star (1943), MGM’s Song of Russia (1943), United Artist’s Three Russian Girls (1943), Warner’s Mission to Moscow (1943), RKo’s Days of Glory (1944), Columbia’s Boy from Stalingrad (1943) and Counter Attack (1945). The three most important pillars of pro-Soviet propaganda emerged in 1943: The North Star, Song of Russia and Mission to Moscow. (Ibid)

Produced by Samuel Goldwyn, the Screenplay was written by Lillian Hellman. The concluding words of Marina (Ann Baxter) shed a light of hope:

“We will make this the last war, We will make a Free World for All Men. The Earth belongs to us, the people, if we fight for it and we will fight for it…” (1.44′)

Author’s conclusion:

Dump Russia-Gate and the Russia Probe,

Restore sanity in US foreign policy, reestablish diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, say no to World War III.

Wishful thinking? Enlist Hollywood in waging a “propaganda for peace”

North Star 1943. MGM View Movie in full 1.46′


original

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

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

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

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

Click here to order.

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A former Federal Prosecutor sat down with The Daily Caller to give perhaps the most comprehensive rundown of the Obama Administration’s “brazen plot to exonerate Hillary Clinton” and “frame an incoming president with a false Russian conspiracy.” 

In this highly recommended 30 minute interview with Joe diGenova, the former Special Counsel who went after both the Teamsters and former NY Governor Elliot Spitzer, paints a very clear picture of collusion between the Obama administration, the FBI, the Clinton campaign and opposition research firm Fusion GPS.

From the Daily Caller:

The FBI used to spy on Russians. This time they spied on us. what this story is about – a brazen plot to exonerate Hillary Clinton from a clear violation of the law with regard to the way she handled classified information with her classified server. Absolutely a crime, absolutely a felony. It’s about finding out why – as the Inspector General is doing at the department of justice – why Comey and the senior DOJ officials conducted a fake criminal investigation of Hillary ClintonFollowed none of the regular rules, gave her every break in the book, immunized all kinds of people, allowed the destruction of evidence, no grand jury, no subpoenas, no search warrant. That’s not an investigation, that’s a Potemkin village. It’s a farce. 

And everybody knew it was a farce. The problem was, she didn’t win. And because she didn’t win, the farce became a very serious opera. It wasn’t a comic opera anymore, it was a tragic opera. And she was going to be the focus.

What this is about, this is about a lavabo, a cleansing of FBI and the upper echelons of the Department of Justice.

We’re going to discover that the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, her deputy Sally Yates, the head of the national security division John Carlin, Bruce Ohr and other senior DOJ officials, and regrettably, lying attorneys. People who were senior career civil servants violated the law, perhaps committed crimes, and covered up crimes by a presidential candidate – but more than that, they tried to frame an incoming president with a false Russian conspiracy that never existed, and they knew it, and they plotted to ruin him as a candidate and then destroy him as a president. That’s why this is important. That’s why connecting the dots is important.

DiGenova condemned the FBI for working so closely with the controversial Fusion GPS, a political hit squad paid by the DNC and Clinton campaign to create and spread the discredited Steele dossier about President Donald Trump. Without a justifiable law enforcement or national security reason, he says, the FBI “created false facts so that they could get surveillance warrants. Those are all crimes.” He adds, using official FISA-702 “queries” and surveillance was done “to create a false case against a candidate, and then a president.” –Daily Caller

During the interview, DiGenova holds up and references a previously unreported and heavily redacted 99-page FISA court opinion from April, 2017, which “describes systematic and on-going violations of the law [by the FBI and their contractors using unauthorized disclosures of raw intelligence on Americans]. This is stunning stuff.” 

NSA Admiral Mike Rodgers: An American Hero

diGenova also discusses the immense risks taken by retiring NSA director, Mike Rogers – who briefed Trump on Nov. 7, 2016 about the Obama administration’s surveillance of the Trump team. The next day, the Presidental transition team was moved out of Trump tower and into the president-elect’s Bedminster, NJ golf course until they could sweep for bugs.

Uranium One and other matters

Also discussed in the interview are the Uranium One scandal, Mueller’s “tainted” probe, and the consequences of the Democrats regaining control in the November midterms – which would most certainly lead to an effort to impeach Trump.

“It’s important for the House to complete its work now,” says diGenova.

* * *

The 99-page FISA court opinion is below (link)

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On Sunday, at 11 AM local time, Turkish tanks and infantry invaded Afrin, a majority-Kurdish multi-ethnic region in northwestern Syria. The Turkish forces are targeting the US-backed Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which control Afrin. At the same time, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Ankara’s proxy force in Syria, attacked Afrin from the south and east, supported by Turkish tanks and Special Forces.

This aggression by Turkey is a reckless escalation that will exacerbate the conflicts raging across the Middle East and intensify the danger of war between the major powers. With Moscow’s tacit support, Turkey is attacking the YPG, the backbone of the main US proxy force in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia. The danger of this triggering a clash between US forces and Russian and Turkish forces in Syria, and all-out war between the United States and Russia, is very real.

The ground invasion, code-named “Olive Branch,” came after hours of Turkish air strikes on Afrin, including strikes on an airfield used by US forces to deliver equipment and arms to the SDF.

It signifies a historic breakdown of the NATO alliance, of which the United States and Turkey are both members. Given that the Turkish invasion apparently has support in Berlin, it reflects deep and mounting conflicts between the major NATO powers.

In the first hours of the operation on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that its aim was to create a 30-kilometer “safe zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border. He said the operation would proceed in four phases, without giving further details. It seems likely to continue eastwards to Manbij, a region occupied by the SDF since it fought Islamic State (ISIS) forces in August 2016.

That development provoked Operation Euphrates Shield, an invasion by the Turkish army to block the Kurdish offensive in Syria and break up what Ankara called “a terror corridor along the Turkish border.”

Initial press reports of the Turkish attack were contradictory. Turkish officials and media unanimously hailed the operation as a great success. However, the YPG claimed to have repulsed Turkish and FSA forces “after fierce clashes.”

The Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella group including the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) of Turkey and Kurdish organizations in Syria and Iran, condemned the operation and declared it would “stand by Afrin with all its strength.” In a written statement, it accused Russia and Syria of “permitting Turkey to attack Afrin.”

The offensive threatens to provoke civil war in Kurdish-majority areas of southern Turkey. Speaking in Bursa, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to crush all opposition within Turkey to the war, including from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

“Whoever takes to the streets on the call of HDP, KCK and PKK should know that our security forces will keep a tight rein on them and they will pay a heavy price,” he said.

Late yesterday, Turkish media reported three missile attacks in the southeastern Turkish province of Reyhanlı, killing one and wounding 32 civilians.

Within Turkey, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is using the invasion to escalate its crackdown on political opposition, with the support of the opposition Republican People’s Party and the fascistic Nationalist Movement Party. Hundreds of people protesting the invasion were arrested in several Turkish cities. The judiciary launched investigations of Democratic Society Party (DTP) Co-Chair Leyla Güven, HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen and HDP Deputy Co-Chair Nadir Yıldırım for criticizing the Afrin invasion.

Turkey was able to launch the operation only due to tacit Russian support. Moscow withdrew its forces stationed in Afrin as part of the Russian intervention against NATO-backed Islamist militias in Syria, and allowed Turkish aircraft to operate in the region’s air space. It also mediated for Turkey in relations with the Syrian and Iranian governments, which criticized the invasion.

Yesterday, Russian officials blamed Washington for the attack, saying it took “provocative steps” by saying it would arm the YPG and use it to control the Syrian-Turkish border.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said

Syria “strongly condemns the flagrant Turkish aggression on the city of Afrin, which is an integral part of Syrian territory, stressing that this aggression is the most recent in a series of Turkish transgressions against Syrian sovereignty.”

It dismissed claims by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Turkey had informed Syria beforehand, calling them “lies that the Turkish government continues to spout.”

Iran, Syria’s main regional ally, said it hoped that “the operation will immediately come to an end.”

Turkey’s invasion of Syria is the outcome of decades of escalating carnage and imperialist war in the Middle East, led by Washington, since the Persian Gulf War and the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the USSR, both of which occurred in 1991. With the removal of the Soviet military threat, Washington was free to launch ever bloodier wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and beyond, with the aid of some or all of its NATO allies. It is increasingly clear, however, that the growing international conflicts provoked by these wars, including Ankara’s outrage over US reliance on Kurdish proxy forces, have reached an entirely new stage.

As Turkey moves to destroy the main US proxy force in Syria, NATO is on the verge of collapse and Washington is increasingly isolated. It faces a powerful coalition of opponents in the Middle East that enjoys support even among Washington’s nominal European allies. It is responding by announcing a military strategy that centers on preparations for total war against nuclear-armed powers such as Russia and China.

Initial US statements on the invasion were unclear and self-contradictory. US State Department sources said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had spoken to his Russian and Turkish counterparts about “securing stability in the north of the country,” but gave no details. Pentagon officials said they “encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating the Islamic State.”

In fact, the Pentagon on Friday unveiled a National Defense Strategy that proclaims the “war on terror” to have been supplanted by the need to prepare for war against rival great powers.

“Great power competition—not terrorism—is now the primary focus of US national security,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said as he unveiled the document, which singles out Russia and China as the preeminent threats to US global dominance.

The US is clearly concerned with the Turkish invasion. The Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, warned that it “could trigger a new, bloody phase of the long-running Syrian civil war” and “may also be aimed at the United States,” which “has spent three years balancing a troubled relationship with Turkey with the imperatives of the counter-IS campaign in Syria.” The Center for American Progress statement continued, “With the end of that campaign in sight, that balancing act is once again teetering on the brink.”

The contrast to the policy of Germany, the leading European power, could not be more striking. Berlin appears to have green-lighted the invasion. Last Wednesday, as Turkish artillery strikes on YPG positions began and Erdogan’s National Security Council threatened to invade Syria, a delegation of high-level Turkish security officials arrived for two days of friendly talks in Berlin. In these talks, German and Turkish officials discussed measures against the Kurds.

As the German press discussed Berlin’s “new turn back” toward Turkey, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Berlin intended to have “better negotiations” with Ankara, “for the benefit of Turkey, Germany and Europe.” Berlin announced a new crackdown on PKK activities in Germany, with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office opening 130 investigations.

Berlin also signaled that Turkey will continue to enjoy German military support even after attacking US proxies in Syria. It did so by moving to fast-track Turkey’s requests for the modernization of its German “Leopard” tanks by Rheinmetall.

“The federal government is showing itself to be flexible in its new turn back towards Turkey,” Der Spiegel wrote. “According to Der Spiegel’s sources, Berlin now wants to give the nod to a multi-million-euro arms deal with Ankara.”

These statements of German support for Turkey even as it bombards US proxy forces in Syria point to the profound tensions tearing apart the NATO military alliance and the escalating danger of direct conflict between the major world powers.

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Featured image is from Middle East Eye.

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Why Is the Israeli Army Finally Worried About Gaza?

January 23rd, 2018 by Jonathan Cook

Last week Israeli military officials for the first time echoed what human rights groups and the United Nations have been saying for some time: that Gaza’s economy and infrastructure stand on the brink of collapse.

They should know.

More than 10 years ago the Israeli army tightened its grip on Gaza, enforcing a blockade on goods coming in and out of the tiny coastal enclave that left much of the 2 million-strong population there unemployed, impoverished and hopeless.

Since then, Israel has launched three separate major military assaults that have destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, killed many thousands and left tens of thousands more homeless and traumatised.

Gaza is effectively an open-air prison, an extremely overcrowded one, with only a few hours of electricity a day and its ground water polluted by seawater and sewage. 

After a decade of this horrifying experiment in human endurance, the Israeli army finally appears to be concerned about whether Gaza can cope much longer. 

In recent days it has begun handing out forms, with more than a dozen questions, to the small number of Palestinians allowed briefly out of Gaza – mainly business people trading with Israel, those needing emergency medical treatment and family members accompanying them. 

One question asks bluntly whether they are happy, another whom they blame for their economic troubles. A statistician might wonder whether the answers can be trusted, given that the sample group is so heavily dependent on Israel’s good will for their physical and financial survival. 

But the survey does at least suggest that Israel’s top brass may be open to new thinking, after decades of treating Palestinians only as target practice, lab rats or sheep to be herded into cities, freeing up land for Jewish settlers. Has the army finally understood that Palestinians are human beings too, with limits to the suffering they can soak up?

According to the local media, the army is in part responding to practical concerns. It is reportedly worried that, if epidemics break out, the diseases will quickly spread into Israel.

And if Gaza’s economy collapses too, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians could be banging on Israel’s door – or rather storming its hi-tech incarceration fence – to be allowed in. The army has no realistic contingency plans for either scenario.

It may be considering too its image – and defence case – if its commanders ever find themselves in the dock at the International Criminal Court in the Hague accused of war crimes.

Nonetheless, neither Israeli politicians nor Washington appear to be taking the army’s warnings to heart. In fact, things look set to get worse. 

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week there could be no improvements, no reconstruction in Gaza until Hamas agrees to give up its weapons – the only thing, in Hamas’s view, that serves as a deterrent against future Israeli attack. 

Figures show Israel’s policy towards Gaza has been actually growing harsher. In 2017 exit permits issued by Israel dwindled to a third of the number two years earlier – and a hundredfold fewer than in early 2000. A few hundred Palestinian businesspeople receive visas, stifling any chance of economic revival.

The number of trucks bringing goods into Gaza has been cut in half – not because Israel is putting the inmates on a “diet”, as it once did, but because the enclave’s Palestinians lack “purchasing power”. That is, they are too poor to buy Israeli goods.

Netanyahu has resolutely ignored a plan by his transport minister to build an artificial island off Gaza to accommodate a sea port under Israeli or international supervision. And no one is considering allowing the Palestinians to exploit Gaza’s natural gas fields, just off the coast.

In fact, the only thing holding Gaza together is the international aid it receives. And that is now in jeopardy too.

The Trump administration announced last week it is to slash by half the aid it sends to Palestinian refugees via the UN agency UNRWA. Trump has proposed further cuts to punish Mahmoud Abbas, the increasingly exasperated Palestinian leader, for refusing to pretend any longer that the US is an honest broker capable of overseeing peace talks.

The White House’s difficuties are only being underscored as Mike Pence, the US vice-president, visits Israel as part of Trump’s supposed push for peace. He is being boycotted by Palestinian officials.

Palestinians in Gaza will feel the loss of aid severely. A majority live in miserable refugee camps set up after their families were expelled in 1948 from homes in what is now Israel. They depend on the UN for food handouts, health and education.

Backed by the PLO’s legislative body, the central council, Abbas has begun retaliating – at least rhetorically. He desperately needs to shore up the credibility of his diplomatic strategy in pursuit of a two-state solution after Trump recently hived off Palestine’s future capital, Jerusalem, to Israel.

Abbas threatened, if not very credibly, to end a security coordination with Israel he once termed “sacred” and declared as finished the Oslo accords that created the Palestinian Authority he now heads.

The lack of visible concern in Israel and Washington suggests neither believes he will make good on those threats.

But it is not Abbas’s posturing that Netanyahu and Trump need to worry about. They should be listening to Israel’s generals, who understand that there will be no defence against the fallout from the catastrophe looming in Gaza.

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A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

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Video: The Bitcoin Psyop

January 23rd, 2018 by James Corbett

Yes, the blockchain is truly revolutionary.

Yes, bitcoin is Tulipmania 2.0.

Yes, cryptocurrency is a nail in the coffin of the bankster parasites.

Yes, digital currency is a tool of the totalitarian tyrants.

No, these statements are not contradictory.

But don’t worry if you think they are. You’re just a victim of “The Bitcoin Psyop.”

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Video: 82% of Global Wealth Now Belongs to the Wealthiest 1%

January 23rd, 2018 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus’ commentary on OXFAM’s annual report pertaining to the relentless growth of wealth inequality globally, benefiting the wealthiest 1% investor class.

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Video:  World’s Richest 1% appropriate 82% of Global Wealth, Prof. Jack Rasmus

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Featured image: A pregnant woman checks clothes made for international brands at a garment factory in Dong Nai province, Vietnam, on November 21, 2017. (Source: Sam Tarling/Oxfam International)

Call it the ‘Year of the Billionaire.’

In 2017, a new billionaire was created every two days and while 82 percent of all wealth created went to the top 1 percent of the world’s richest while zero percent—absolutely nothing—went to the poorest half of the global population.

That troubling information is included in Oxfam’s latest report on global inequality—titled Reward Work, Not Wealth (pdf)—released Monday. In addition to the above, the report details how skyrocketing wealth growth among the already rich coupled with stagnant wages and persistent poverty among the lowest economic rungs of society means that just 42 individuals now hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion poorest people on the planet.

“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director of Oxfam International. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Billionaire wealth has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 percent. The number of billionaires rose at an unprecedented rate of one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.
  • It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.
  • It would cost $2.2 billion a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector in 2016.
  • Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich, nine out of ten, are men.

The report comes just as the world’s economic and political elite are set to open the World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos, Switzerland. And why the global elite argue the summit’s focus is addressing the world’s most pressing problems, Oxfam found that the amount of new wealth which went to the world’s top one percent in 2017 was roughly $762 billion—a figure large enough, the group points out, to end extreme global poverty seven times over.

What the report ultimately exposes, Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB chief executive, told the Guardian, is a “system that is failing the millions of hardworking people on poverty wages who make our clothes and grow our food.”

“For work to be a genuine route out of poverty we need to ensure that ordinary workers receive a living wage and can insist on decent conditions, and that women are not discriminated against,” he added. “If that means less for the already wealthy then that is a price that we—and they—should be willing to pay.”

Not just cataloging and lamenting the metrics of inequality, the new report also puts forth a number of policy solutions that should be embraced by people and governments worldwide to reduce levels of inequality and lift billions of people out of extreme poverty. They include:

  • Limit returns to shareholders and top executives, and ensure all workers receive a minimum ‘living’ wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life. For example, in Nigeria, the legal minimum wage would need to be tripled to ensure decent living standards.
  • Eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. At current rates of change, it will take 217 years to close the gap in pay and employment opportunities between women and men.
  • Ensure the wealthy pay their fair share of tax through higher taxes and a crackdown on tax avoidance, and increase spending on public services such as healthcare and education. Oxfam estimates a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school.

Though Oxfam has been calculating global inequality on an annual basis for more than a decade, the anti-poverty group notes that this year’s report used new data from Credit Suisse and a separate kind of model. Specifically, Oxfam noted, the fact that the world’s 42 richest billionaires have as much wealth as the poorest bottom half “cannot be compared to figures from previous years – including the 2016/17 statistic that eight men owned the same wealth as half the world – because it is based on an updated and expanded data set published by Credit Suisse in November 2017.  When Oxfam recalculated last year’s figures using the latest data we found that 61 people owned the same wealth as half the world in 2016 – and not eight.”

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There is a reason to say that the majority of conflicts today are a result of policies of colonial rulers. Western European invader-rulers have done much damage to the world. There is little they can argue against this.

Creation of artificial states & amalgamating new states have been a legacy that continues to haunt every country colonial invaders occupied. Which international laws will hold these Western European countries accountable for artificial lines, artificial borders, artificial states dividing people as they wished? Should these countries be allowed to resolve the conflicts they created?

Many of the present day countries by name did not exist – they were all christened by these colonial rulers. Many of their borders were drawn by colonial rulers for their own advantage. The present day African countries by name didn’t exist. The Berlin Conference of 1884-5 partitioned Africa among a handful of European countries using a pen – 44% of Africa’s borders were divided as a straight line splitting over 177 ethnic groups into two countries. The Somalis are split between five different countries. The Somali 5 pointed star in its flag represents these 5 divided groups.

Present day India didn’t exist, colonial British cobbled up independent states and territories and declared it as India. Similarly, countries like Canada, US, Australia came into being having confiscated already occupied lands, killing off these indigenous and claiming it as theirs, while Saudi Arabia, Singapore are also created countries for distinct geo-political and financial purposes.

All of these artificially created borders & countries are having some problem or the other. International laws created immediately after colonial independence were Euro-centric and never dwelt on any of the illegalities committed by their own. This is evident in the Vienna Convention on Succession of States which upholds utipossidetis juris – bilateral agreements are handed down to successor states.

Moreover, Article 50 of Vienna Convention states “If the expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty has been procured through the corruption of its representative directly or indirectly by another negotiating State, the State may invoke such corruption as invalidating its consent to be bound by the treaty.” (doesn’t this question the Indian Government giving Rs.5m monthly to LTTE to agree to signing the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord)

The Durand Line – artificial boundary created in 1893

This arbitrary line is a 1500mile border that divides present day Pakistan (named in 1933) & present Afghanistan (Khorasan). Afghanistan is important for its access to Central Asia & the Indian Ocean. Afghanistan was created to be used as a buffer state by colonial rulers. The Durand Line was established by British India & Kingdom of Afghanistan in 1893. Afghanistan refuses to acknowledge it as a border since creation of Pakistan in 1947.

This line has divided the Pashtun tribes into 2 – who now live in Pakistan & Afghanistan. The line was drawn by British colonial officer Mortimer Duran who disregarded the Pashtun populace. All that Britain wanted was to control the Khyber Pass and make Hindu Kush the northwestern border of British India.

Britain arrived in the Indian sub-continent in the 19th century. Britain annexed parts of Afghanistan in 1879 by an arbitrary treaty in exchange for money – Rs.1,200,000. Britains puppet Shah Shoja emerged after dethroning Afghan king Dost Mohamma in 1839. Britain’s aim was to protect the opium drug line! Taliban is all Pashtuns.

You will be most surprised to know that King Amanullah who ascended the Afghan throne in 1919 engaged in numerous liberalization programs which included reforming the army, abolishing slavery and forced labor, and encouraging the liberation of women, discouraging use of veil, oppression of women giving them more educational opportunities. Instead of Britain feeling happy about these moves they thought it a threat to their reign and supported extremists against the move!

“Britain was seen as the culprit in the affair, manipulating the tribes against Amanullah in an attempt to bring about his downfall.” (Afghan historian Abdul SamadGhaus wrote in 1988)

The British were cunning enough to bind Afghanistan to accepting drawn borders (Article 5 of the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919).

The Durand Line Agreement divides boundaries between Afghanistan, Balochistan & British India. If so a trilateral agreement was required but Balochistan was excluded by making Afghan monarch believe that Balochistan was part of British India. Britain refused Afghan request to relook at borders before it gave independence to India in 1947.

Colonials speak with forked tongues & is a lesson when the same European countries are out to create more new borders claiming to resolve conflicts without acknowledging that they created them!

Did Afghans understand a word the British spoke. Could they read & write English to agree to sign on a dotted line?
Was this ‘treaty’ ratified by the British Parliament if so where are the records if it was gazetted? Has the Durand line been registered in the UN? Validity aside is this line Legal?

How valid & legal are treaties signed by monarchs of these countries and invader occupiers? Can legal experts please elucidate?

Present day issues between Pakistan & Afghanistan is another issue the crux of the matter is that the root cause of these issues associated with the Durand Line is the British who drew the illegal line!

The Radcliffe Line – the root of Kashmir issue

The culprit this time was again Britain & Sir Cyril Radcliffe the Director General of the Ministry of Information was appointed Chairman of the Boundary Commission. His task was to divide India religious lines. Sir Radcliffe had never been to British India & was clueless about the people or the region but was given just 5 weeks to complete the job. He was tasked with equitably dividing 175,000 sq miles with 88m people. That line has impacted India, Pakistan, East Pakistan & Myanmar)

He was not even a cartographer. Sir Radcliffe did the same mistake – dividing villages, separating people and the line at times ran through houses!

Before independence, nearly 40% of India was covered by princely states that were not British possessions and thus not part of British India. It was the choice of the rulers of these independent states to choose which side they wanted to belong to.

The division caused mayhem at independence with 14m fleeing one side of the border to the other & contributed to 3 wars between India & Pakistan in 1947, 1965 and 1971. For the mayhem Radcliffe was made a Peer and made a Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire.

The Radcliffe Line became another example of how a pen destroyed millions of lives.

Partition of India, including migrations after the partition.

The Radcliffe Line allocated to Pakistan, the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, East Bengal (became Bangladesh), Western Punjab.

India was given West Bengal, Eastern Punjab, Kashmir is located on the northernmost tip of India & the northeastern part of Pakistan. The British thought the ruler of Kashmir Hari Singh would join Pakistan after the partition as Kashmir population was Muslim. Hari Singh did not join Pakistan and requested British assistance which led to the 1948 agreement that left half of Kashmir under Indian control including the fertile Valley of Kashmir. Pakistan got the impoverished part of the region. To compound matters the area has disputes between India & China too which led to the 1962 Indo-Sino War.

Kashmir

When asked how Britain could help end the conflict over Kashmir during a visit to Pakistan in 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron said,

“I don’t want to try to insert Britain in some leading role where, as with so many of the world’s problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place.”

McMahon Line – 1914

Is another case of illegal colonial invaders imposing arbitrary borders to serve their advantage. Not only are colonial invaders guilty of drawing arbitrary borders they are also guilty of forcing the indigenous to sign treaties with them. How valid are these? In 1914 there was no India – only British controlled parts of present India. There were 565 princely states that were not part of British India (these states were not under British rule)

The line was drawn by Sir Henry McMahon, the foreign secretary of the British-Indian government who was acting as the chief negotiator in the Shimla conference between Britain, China and Tibet. The line was negotiated without Chinese participation and when China opposed the response was to declare it a bilateral agreement between India & Tibet as the land south of Tibet was declared as British India making Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh a part of India.

Today countries are disputing over borders & territories demarcated purposely by illegal colonial rulers to inflict conflict at future dates. These lines the colonials drew were purposely done over areas that provided major tributaries like water, resources, hydro-electric potential & mountains that were geo-strategic.

Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916)– Dividing Middle East

Again it was a British Sir Mark Sykes and a French Francois-Edouard Picot who were tasked to divide the Middle East between the two. It was a secret agreement. It became another example of a straight line pen drawn without any concern for the people living, their cultures or their desire to separate.

North of the line – became modern Syria & Lebanon under French mandate.

South of the line – modern Israel/Palestine, Jordon, Iraq went to the Brits. Issue was Mosul which was north of the line and should have been part of Syria but Brits negotiated & placed it under Iraq. Oil was the reason. Lebanon has historically been part of ‘Greater Syria’ (a region that encompasses Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel/Palestine & western part of Iraq)

“The Kurds were divided between 4 states :Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Shiite Arabs were split between Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia. The Alawites, a heterodox Shiite Arab sect, reside today along the northern Lebanese, Syrian, and southwestern Turkish coasts. The Druze were distributed between today’s Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Lebanon, supposedly a Christian redoubt, included large Sunni and Shiite populations, as well as Alawites and Druze. Sunni Arabs, who formed the dominant population of the Middle East, were divided into numerous states. Pockets of Turkomen, Circassians, Assyrians, Yazidis, and Chaldeans were isolated throughout. At the dawn of the 21st century, minority ethnic groups ruled Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Bahrain, often repressively” (Gabriel Scheinmann – The Map that Ruined the Middle East”)

Saudi Arabia came into existence after Britain had already promised Hussein ibn Ali, the emir of Mecca, an Arab kingdom in exchange for his military support against the Ottoman Turks in World War I.

There are plenty more artificially created states, borders, territories that colonial invader rulers have forced into being internationally accepted as today’s laws are Euro-centric.

If it is illegal for an illegal occupant to enter into any legal agreement that same logic should apply to all of the European colonial countries that went to explore following the 3 concepts of Gold – God –Glory – profit by stealing Asian spices, African slaves, American metals & other resources. Declaring all countries already inhabited as Christian and dispatching missionaries to forcefully convert natives or kill them if they refused to do so. Expand the Western-Christian hegemony across the world and creating an ideology of mercantilism and capitalism where wealth centred around a handful who dictated how the world was to be governed.

The very countries today preaching human rights, good governance, transparency divided the world between them and fleeced countries, subjugating the indigenous and murdering millions of innocent people. None of the present day crimes come anywhere near to the atrocities these Western European countries committed as GOVERNMENT & CHURCH policy upon natives who were peacefully living in their land. We are presented false history by these Western countries who claim to have ‘FOUND’ countries that had people living in them.

We can laugh now at how these countries have even celebrated these ‘Founding Fathers’ but have now come to realize these men were horrid murderers. Many of the philosophies and concepts the West claim to be theirs were spoken and practiced by Eastern civilizations. Buddhas teachings covers most of what the West claim to be ‘theirs’! Such confiscation of intellectual property is wrong and immoral without paying due acknowledgement to its original source. But what more can you expect from countries that have historically fleeced, invaded, occupied & murdered and continue to do the same using the cover of international laws & the UN that they control as a puppet.

In highlight some of the above borders that have been artificially created the crux is to draw attention not to the countries presently involved in the dispute but to convey the message that these disputes stem from illegally drawn borders by illegal occupiers and that is why countries fighting over these borders should get together and point fingers at the countries that drew them without fighting with each other.

The Western European countries that invaded, occupied & ruined countries should not be allowed to have any role in resolving the conflicts they created.

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“The American Negro has now reached a point in his progress where he needs to take serious account of where he is and whither he is going. Yet this situation is in sight and it brings not as many assume an end to the so-called Negro problems, but a beginning of even more difficult problems of race and culture. Because what we must now ask ourselves is when we become equal American citizens what will be our aims and ideals and what will we have to do with selecting these aims and ideals. Are we to assume that we will simply adopt the ideals of Americans and become what they are or want to be and that we will have in this process no ideals of our own?…The deficiency in knowledge of Negro history and culture, however, will remain and this danger must be met or else American Negroes will disappear. Their history and culture will be lost. Their connection with the rising African world will be impossible.”

The talented and poetic rap lyricist, hip-hop philosopher and music innovator Kendrick Lamar (image on the right below) seems to be more attuned to the iconic and symbolic power of Africa in the Black popular imagination than Black America’s supposed intellectual elite. His 2016 Grammy performance was as historic as it was uncompromisingly African-centered, situating the name Compton a city that has come to personify the emergence of West Coast gangsta-rap in the late 1980s and early 1990s within a silhouette of the African continent.  His message, undeniable and bold rang out like a trumpet summoning a community from the stupor of self-delusion and historical amnesia.  His Pimp A Butterfly track “The Blacker The Berry” says it quite succinctly, “I’m African American, I am African.”

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Yet Lamar’s emphatic pronouncement of African ancestry and identity among African Americans even if representational has eluded the discourse of Black intellectuals in our post 9/11, hyper-patriotic, anti-Black, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant era.  The omission of the Pan-Africanist nationalist and African-centered trajectory within the Black intellectual tradition represents at this historical moment a glaring crisis in the panorama of African American social and political thought.

In the essay Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Performance points to a Simple Truth #Black Lives Matter When Africa Matters written by Dr. Faraji nearly two years ago he clarifies the meaning and purpose of Black freedom and liberation when he says “the struggle for the dignity of African humanity in the United States transcends the quest for racial equality—and is more precisely a battle for the assertion of African power, sovereignty and the right to be self-determining, self-defining and self-building in the world.”  The positioning of African diaspora communities including Black America and African nation states as socially, politically and economically sovereign societies in full control of their land, resources, human capital and socio-cultural institutions is ultimately the true measuring stick for Black progress.  In its most classical and fundamental sense Pan African nationalism is about the building and developing of African nations and states in both Africa and the diaspora and the failure of Black public intellectuals to articulate this stance and even evade it all together is the primary intellectual crisis of our time.

What is most disturbing about Cornel West’s recent critique of Ta-Nehisi Coates in the The Guardian article, “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neo-liberal face of the black freedom struggle” is the idea that the African American intellectual landscape can be reduced to what West calls the “neo- liberal face” and so-called “radical wing” of which he claims allegiance and membership to. The Black intellectual tradition is far broader and certainly more complex than the two polarities that West seems to suggest as he takes on the banner of radicalism.  What does he mean by “radical wing” and what are the criteria for such intellectual affiliations in African American social thought?  Does he mean what Reiland Rabaka refers to in his book Africana critical theory : reconstructing the black radical tradition, from W.E.B. Du Bois and C.L.R. James to Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral or is he referring to the Gramscian organic intellectualism that led him to adoptappellation radical democratic socialist throughout most of his career?  We would not dispute the radical positionality of either one of these schools of thought and neither would we question the radicalism of Black feminist thought, critical race theory, post-colonialism, intersectional analyses or the transgressive, pan-sexual restructuring of gender categories proposed by the radical strands within LGBTQ perspectives.  Our point is the designation “radical” covers the full gamut of Black intellectual perspectives and therefore it is a gross oversimplification for West to juxtapose his version of the “radical wing” as the intellectual binary of Coates’ neo-liberalism.

The irony is that throughout the 1980s and 1990s leading up to September 11, 2001 West was considered by his Pan-Africanist counterparts such as the luminary John Henrik Clarke as the lukewarm, neo-liberal Black scholar who was more loyal to his brand of Marxism and Christianity than the uncompromising stance of revolutionary Pan Africanism.  This was no small critique coming from Clarke who was an intellectual adviser to Malcolm X, founding chair of Africana and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College and whose name was bestowed upon the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library at Cornell University.

Is it possible that it is Coates and not West who is the radical simply because the former has dared to broach the topic of reparations for African Americans—a position that has been noticeably absent from West’s intellectual repertoire for over four decades.  Toni Morrison referred to Coates as “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” in response to his book, Between the World and Me and definitely his latest work We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy represents a powerful analysis of the present state of racial discord and political backlash in American politics today.  However Cornel West is not entirely wrong in his characterization of Coates as the “neo-liberal face” of the Black freedom struggle.

Although we differ from West in that it is not only Coates’ overestimation of the tragic in Black life and his resignation to a world without hope that is antithetical to Black freedom, but also his paradoxical views on Africa and nationalist consciousness that ultimately give power to a politics of ambivalence.  For Coates “Pan Africa” maybe the subtext of Black life, but it is the ethos of survival that is rooted in realism and claims prominence.  That some African Americans are the descendants of African royalty is simply a mythic celebration that supplants the real fact that Black people are the progeny of slaves. And since he has resolved through an unsophisticated analysis of what he calls “separatist nationalism” as useless and futile Black people basically have no way out beyond integration or the altruism of whites.  For Coates African consciousness is merely about the nostalgia of ancestry and tradition which at the least can help Black folk cope with their despair, but at the end of the day it is not a strategy that can lead to significant progress or advancement.

Ironically it is Coates’ essay The Case for Reparations that potentially points to Africa in a way that acknowledges that African Americans are the descendants of enslaved Africans whose labor, bodies, wealth and resources were plundered by white supremacist exploitation. In fact,hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of the African ancestors of African Americans were illegally smuggled into the country by countless American freebooters who wantonly broke the 1808 United States act that prohibited the importation of sovereign African nationals into the country.

Although Coates familiarity with the 1808 Act is bane, he nevertheless makes the case for reparations clear by citing the story of Belinda Royall a freed African woman from what is now Ghana petitioning the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1783 for reparations due to having “endured the Middle Passage and 50 years of enslavement” at the hands of her master Isaac Royall.  The Massachusetts legislature awarded her 50 pounds and 12 shillings which was paid out of the estate of Isaac Royall.  Her story maybe exceptional, but it was her memory of her African homeland and the knowledge that she had been deprived of freedom, a livelihood and access to the economic opportunities of her slaveholder’s society that prompted her to pursue both justice and monetary compensation.  Coates’ discussion of reparations need not be fatalistic or pessimistic because it actually situates the quest for reparations for Black America in the context of the global reparations movement in both Caribbean and Africa.  Coates compelling argument for reparations is in alignment with the ten point action plan of  the Caribbean Reparation Commission (CARICOM) and the call for reparations by the Herero people of the southern African nation of Namibia directed at their former colonizer Germany.

Marineswithm16.jpg

Marines train with M16A2 rifles in March 2003 at Camp Lemonnier (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

We argue that a Pan Africanist vision on the issue of reparations would present a greater likelihood of achieving victory.  Likewise a Pan Africanist lens on what Cornell West rightfully highlights as American complicity in capitalist, imperialist and militaristic jingoism around the world is made more concrete and relevant when we consider that the east African country Djibouti is home to Camp Lemonnier a military base that has been described by a Washington Post commentator as the “busiest predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone” and “the only installation of its kind in the Pentagon’s global network of bases.”  Camp Lemonnier functions as the “headquarters” for US counterterrorism and drone assaults in east Africa and the Middle East. It is essentially an intensification of US militarization in Africa via AFRICOM and the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership which according to the official spiel is for the purpose of supporting African militaries in the combat against terrorism.  The Sahelian region of Africa has become the new flashpoint for global terrorism.  A greater motivation however is the objective of securing US oil interests in Chad and Cameroon and protecting French energy security derived from Uranium mines in Niger.  It should be evident that any discussion regarding reparations for Black America or the western tripartite forces of capitalism, imperialism and militarism must include Africa.  Coates does so by innuendo and West is completely silent, so it is very dangerous to view any two individuals or thinkers as the summation of the Black intellectual tradition.

As much as we are steeped in the Pan Africanist intellectual tradition it is not our goal here to serve as uncritical ideologues, but to ensure that the totality of the Black intellectual tradition is engaged, referenced and resourced as we seek to solve and ultimately neutralize the pressing challenges that Black humanity is faced with in both the United States and the global community.  We recognize the contributions of West, Coates and the plethora of other scholars, intellectuals, activists and revolutionaries who embody the heterogeneity of Black thought both past and present.  Yet we must be unyielding in our stance that the inattentiveness and unwillingness of Black intellectuals, scholars and activists to make Africa and the African Diaspora central to our configurations of the Black freedom struggle is not only intellectually irresponsible, but also a betrayal ofone the most influential and impactful streams within African American intellectual heritage and socio-political praxis.

In his attempt to counter Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Peniel Joseph in his magisterial historical biography on Stokely Carmichael aka Kwame Ture, Stokely: A Life describes the Trinidadian born Carmichael as the successor of both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.  Carmichael was an activist-revolutionary who had been a part of SNCC, the Black Panther Party and a founding architect of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party under the tutelage of Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Toure.  He was grounded in civil rights organizing, Black Power direct action and revolutionary Pan Africanist politics.  For Carmichael Pan Africanism was the logical progression of both the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power and any Black ideology that did not point to Africa was deficient in its understanding of revolution and freedom.  Yet Peniel Joseph disparages and mocks Carmichael’s Pan-Africanist philosophy as well as his decision to take up residence in Guinea under the political mentorship of Sekou Toure and his co-president Kwame Nkrumah.  For Joseph, Carmichael was a community organizer who had become a “revolutionary ideologue.”  By turning to Africa, Carmichael’s once-clear political vision had succumbed to his ‘ideological faith” in Pan Africanism.  According to Joseph, Carmichael’s greatest sin was that he had betrayed the civil rights movement by disowning his “former, more hopeful perspective about American democracy.”  Accordingly Carmichael spent the last 30 years of his life living under a repressive African dictatorship with less political freedom than the country he had first proclaimed the mantra “Black Power.”

Joseph’s domesticized, neo-liberal, Black American reading of Stokely Carmichael is certainly not an accurate depiction of Carmichael’s motivation and neither does it grasp the significance of Nkrumah or Toure’s strategic role in leading anti-colonial, revolutionary movements in Africa.  Even with Toure and Nkrumah’s contradictions and failures the outright dismissal of Carmichael’s Pan Africanist years smacks more of an anti-African disposition among many Black intellectuals than a sincere interrogation of this particular socio-political philosophy.  It is in fact an ideological position that privileges the quest for inclusion into American society as the ultimate goal of Black freedom.  This position, even if correct cannot ignore the role of the Pan Africanist intellectual tradition in advancing Black social, political and economic progress in American society—and neither should it disregard the significance of Africa as home to the world’s critical and strategic resources in the realms of energy, agriculture, mining, minerals, technology, real estate and the extractive sectors of oil and gas.

Kwame Nkrumah

The centrality of Africa has been a major aspect of the Black intellectual tradition for over 200 years.  Notwithstanding the Pan Africanist intellectuals and activists of the 19th century like Martin Delaney, Edward Blyden, George Washington Williams and the AME Church bishop Henry McNeal Turner. This tradition propelled the international Black freedom struggle throughout the 20th century.  Booker T. Washington entertained inquiries from Black South African leaders on how to replicate the Tuskegee model for higher education in their own country.  Washington also commissioned a delegation from Tuskegee to explore cotton production in the then German colony of Togo. Marcus Garvey along with his wives Amy Ashwood Garvey and Amy Jacques Garvey forged a Pan Africanist agenda that has left a permanent impact on the collective consciousness of Africans in both Africa and the African Diaspora.  Unsurprisingly African nationalist leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah both attributed the success of their anti-colonial independence movements in Kenya and Ghana respectively to the Pan Africanist ideals of Marcus Garvey.

Revolutionary African American thinkers like Anna Julia Cooper and W.E.B. DuBois attended the first Pan African Conference called by the Trinidadian lawyer Henry Sylvester Williams in 1900.  For 63 years DuBois was devoted to the cause of Pan Africanism through his participation in the aforementioned conference and organizing the Pan African congresses between 1919 and 1945—and his leadership in the Council of African Affairs alongside Paul Robeson, Mary McCloud Bethune, Adam Clayton Powell and Ralph Bunche among others during the 1940s and 1950s.  He joined Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana in the early 1960s to launch the Encyclopedia Africana and died a naturalized Ghanaian citizen in 1963. His life is a testament to the vitality of Pan Africanism among African American intellectuals.

An African American man, sitting for a posed portrait

Du Bois, c. 1911 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

DuBois was not the only African American who took an interest in Ghana.  Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Wright, St. Clair Drake, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou and Julian Mayfield among others either lived as expatriates in Ghana or attended the independence celebration of 1957.Those who were at the 1957 independence celebrations also joined dozens of others who attended the 1958 All African Peoples Conference in Accra, Ghana. Du Bois’ wife Shirley Graham Du Bois was equally committed to the global African freedom struggle as she is buried next to her husband at the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture located in Accra, Ghana. Furthermore, we must also consider William Leo Hansberry, the historian and pioneer of African studies at Howard University who was knighted by Emperor Haile Selassie on account of his anti-colonial activism against the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1936.  Hansberry also mentored African students at Howard such as Nnamdi Azikiwe who later went on to become the first president of Nigeria.

Malcolm X “Our Black Shining Prince” was the quintessential Pan Africanist forging relationships with African heads of state like Julius Nyerere to pass a resolution in the 1964 OAU meeting in Cairo condemning American racism and discrimination directed at Africa Americans.  Malcolm X also traveled to Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria and Morocco meeting with anti-colonial leaders to present the case of the Black freedom struggle in the United States.  Malcom’s Caribbean born mother, Louise Little, had come from several generations of committed Pan Africanist and was herself a Garveyite along with her husband Earl Little.

As we move forward in the year 2018, we must not forget that the Pan Africanist tradition has long been at the forefront of the African American quest for freedom and justice.  And in an age of globalization and internationalism it is extremely imprudent to disregard and make invisible the African continent, a region that is not only the ancestral home of African Americans and other Blacks in the Caribbean and Latin Diaspora, but also an emerging economic superpower that will be home to significant share of the world’s population by 2050. If this tradition is continually deflated and ignored by Black public intellectuals such as West and Coates, then W.E. B. Du Bois’s 1960 prophecy would have come to pass. African Americans will have missed the rising tide of Africa and forfeited the African continent to the interests of the European Union, China, Japan, India and the American corporate elite who engage Africa without the approval, leadership or involvement of Africa’s descendants in the United States.

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Dr. Salim Faraji was born in Philadelphia, PA. He is the former founding Executive Director of the Master of Arts in International Studies Africa Program at Concordia University Irvine. Dr.  He has served as an external reviewer for the new PhD in Management Science at the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business at the Namibia University of Science and Technology. He is also a Professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills and one of a handful of Nubiologists in the United States.  

 Dr. Jahi Issa was born and reared in St. Louis County (Ferguson, MO). He is the former Scholar in Residents at the W.E.B. DuBois Center in Accra, Ghana. He is a Senior Editor at Africology: The Journal of Pan Africanism, and currently serves as a senior expert on Africa for the international media outlet,Press TV. He has graduated and held teaching positions at several HBCUS. He currently teaches history at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. His upcoming completed manuscript Until Africa is Redeemed: The Universal Negro Improvement Association in Louisiana will be published in 2019.

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The Nanjing Massacre of 1937: The Film

January 22nd, 2018 by Prof. Mark Selden

Featured image: Japanese high command enters Nanjing on horseback (Source)

On December 14, 1937, the day after Japanese soldiers entered Nanjing, a crew led by producer Matsuzaki Keiji, under the guidance of the Military Special Affairs Department, entered the city. Its mission: to document the transition to Japanese rule in the Nationalist capital.

The next day they began shooting a documentary film, Nanjing [Nanking] that presents the battle as framed by the Japanese high command. The crew had just completed an earlier documentary, Shanghai, on the battle that paved the way for the advance of Japanese forces toward Nanjing. Dispatched to Nanjing without supplies, the reign of terror began en route with Japanese forces attacking villages en route to secure food and supplies. In Nanjing, shooting of the film continued to January 4, 1938 and the film was rushed to completion for release in Japan on January 20. (Can it also have been distributed for viewing in Chinese cities? Or for international distribution?) Long believed to have been lost, a print was discovered in Beijing in 1995, although with 10 minutes of the original missing. Nippon Eiga Shinsha made it available as a DVD. The present film superimposes primitive English translation . . . whether provided at the time of its release or years later, presumably for international distribution.

Toho film on Nanjing Massacre made 1938; English subtitle

Prepared five years before Frank Capra’s seven part American series “Why We Fight” (1943), and also drawing on Leni Riefenthal’s Triumph of the Will, Nanjing 1937 seeks to portray both the power and benevolence of the Japanese military. It begins with the victory parade of Japanese forces in Nanjing, the high command on horseback with troops marching behind while additional Japanese troops line up along the road to witness the entry. Other shots highlight the destructive power of Japanese weaponry and the benevolence of Japanese forces shown towards Chinese POWs and providing candy to smiling children while yet other Chinese children delightedly set off firecrackers to ring in the New Year. Viewers in Japan were also treated to a long ceremony conducted by General Matsui Iwane honoring the war dead, with Japanese soldiers carrying the ashes of slain comrades even as the Emperor presided over solemn Shinto rites in Tokyo, as zigzag-shaped white streamers (shide) evoking lightening fluttered in the wind.

Gen. Matsui conducting Shinto rites for the dead (Source)

Other scenes include Japanese soldiers rebuilding destroyed parts of the city and the inauguration of the Nanjing Self-Government Committee.

Inaugural ceremony of the Nanjing Self-Government Committee Jan. 1, 1938 (Source)

Needless to say, there is no Nanjing Massacre on display in the Japanese film. Or is there? The film in fact shows the city’s devastation by invading forces as well as the dispirited faces of Chinese refugees. It does not, of course, display captured Chinese soldiers being led off to the river to be shot, still less the rape and killing of civilians.

Viewed against the background of the American Why We Fight series, Nanjing 1937 conveys another powerful impression. The Japanese army, with the power to crush Chinese forces in Shanghai and Nanjing, was an army marching across China on foot, with officers mounted on horseback. In advancing to attack entrenched nationalist forces in Nanjing, the Japanese troops commandeered a small boat and poled across a river, then lifted a rickety 15-meter ladder to send suicide troops to climb it to enter the fortress. In the film, images of a single tank and a handful of trucks underscore the rather limited mechanization of the Japanese military. Fifteen years ago, in a seminar held in the Taihang Mountains of Shanxi, I saw photographs of Japanese troops hauling dismantled cannons to fight in the harsh terrain, each soldier bearing 60 pounds on his back. Similar images such as these in the film help explain why better-informed Japanese commanders were aghast at the Japanese decision to bomb Pearl Harbor, aware of the overwhelming technical superiority of US military forces.

Viewed in conjunction with samples from the American Why We Fight Series or the Nazi’s Triumph of the Will, Nanjing 1937 can stimulate fruitful classroom discussion of the ways in which nations represent their wars, domestically and for global audiences. Students can also draw on the substantial literature on the Nanjing Massacre, the military ‘comfort women’ system, forced labor and other controversies framing the ongoing historical memory debate in Japan, the United States and internationally.

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Mark Selden is a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University, a Coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, and Bartle Professor of History and Sociology at Binghamton University.

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Theresa May, as Prime Minister, was to all intents and purposes a de-facto (or shadow) director of Carillion when it collapsed into liquidation last week after apparently wrongful trading in which there is the possibility of personal liability.

It was her government as the sole customer that awarded huge contracts to a company that was technically insolvent under the terms of the Companies Act: circumstances that are normally illegitimate.

Without these suspect contracts from the May government, Carillion could not have continued to exist and it would not have employed thousands of people directly and indirectly in its supply chain, who will now be thrown onto the scrap heap of the unemployed.

Without these contracts improperly awarded by the May government, there would not be hundreds of small companies up and down the country facing ruinous bad debts that now threaten their survival.  Some having already gone into liquidation themselves as a direct consequence.

This could not have happened had there been proper oversight of the procurement process and due diligence by government department employees who apparently acted like schoolchildren pretending to be businessmen.

This was a tragic dereliction of duty by a Prime Minister patently unequal to the task of commercial oversight of major national infrastructure projects. She should now be allowed to return to the shadows from whence she came.

The Prime Minister needs to be more than a well-meaning but inept woman in faux leopard skin shoes.

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It’s a cruel saga, and one that promises no immediate end. Turkey, considered one of the more potent of powers within the NATO alliance, has manoeuvred itself into a play that Washington will find hard to avoid.  For Ankara, one thing must not happen as Islamic State forces gradually vanish, or more likely metamorphose into the next force they will, in time, become.  It is that inconvenient matter of the Kurds, ever present, and, in recent few years ever forceful, about carving out territory within Syria and Iraq. 

The United States has seen the Kurds as something of a gem, desperate, keen to fight, and often effective in their encounters with the Islamic State forces and their various incarnations. Ankara has been none too pleased with that fact.  Guns, once acquired, are used; weapons, once used, are hard to put down. 

NATO allies, on this score, do not see eye to eye, and have never done so.  These eyes have parted even further with Washington’s promise that a 30,000 Kurdish-led border force will be established to police Turkish-Iraq borders in an effort to quash any resurgence of Islamic State forces.  The promise has also managed to irk Iran and Russia, who see such a force as directed, not merely at Islamic State, but against their regional influence.

On Saturday, 72 Turkish jets targeted the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria in an effort, codenamed Olive Branch, to remove, what Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called a terrorist threat across northern Syria.

“Beginning from the west, step by step, we will annihilate the terror corridor up the Iraqi border.”

Within that enclave are some 8 to 10 thousand Kurdish fighters.  But added to that are 800 thousand vulnerable civilians, many displaced by the Syrian Civil War.

No more negotiations, no more chit chat or fanciful discourses about peaceful resolutions and amiable settlements – this was belligerence, pure and simple. 

“No one can say a word,” blustered the Turkish leader.  “Whatever happens, we do not care anymore at all.  Now we only care about what happens on the ground.”

Did it matter that the operation was just another example of Syria’s sovereignty as contingent, best ignored rather than respected by yet another power keen to issue its stamp on the area’s geography?  Bekir Bozdağ, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, made a rather weak effort suggesting that such a military venture was temporary, a necessarily surgical move to target an infection.  Once achieved, Turkish forces would withdraw.

Bozdağ proceeded to name organisations that have all found the convenient rhetorical packaging of terrorism.  There are no distinctions to be had between the Kurdish YPG, or the PKK groups, nor those of the Islamic State.

“The only target of the operation is the terrorist groups and the terrorists as well as their barracks, shelters, positions, weapons and equipment.”

As has been the official line in the conflicts that have mushroomed from Syria to Iraq, civilians are not targeted, even if they might be slaughtered.

“Civilians are never targeted.  Every kind of planning has been done to avoid any damage to civilians.”

Masks, posturing, and a good deal of dissimulation, are essential across the diplomatic engagement here.  The one group that seems to be coming out of this rather poorly are history’s traditional whipping boys, the Kurds, who remain gristle in the broader strategic picture.  Russia, for one, has blamed the United States for feeding the unstable situation while urging restraint on the part of Ankara’s forces.

“Provocative actions by the US, aimed at isolating regions with predominantly Kurdish population, were the main factors that contributed to the development of a crisis in this part of Syria,” went a statement.

Despite adopting a frowning line to the attacks, there is little doubt that discussions would have been had ahead of time with officials in Moscow, given the presence in the Russian capital of Hakan Fidan of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization and Hulusi Akar, chief of staff of Turkey’s army.

Iran, in turn, has been taking the position that such incursions, rather than dousing the fires of terrorist groups, emboldens them. Careful eyes are noting the fortunes of the respective players in this latest, murderous squabble.

The attacks were far from negligible, comprising some 100 targets.  Another important feature of this muddled equation was the role played by fighters of the Free Syria Army, who also participated in operations against the Kurds.

The great power play here, even in the murky bloodiness, is that no one wants a genuinely viable Kurdistan front, and certainly one that has any claim to international legitimacy.  One neutralised, weakened, and preferably defanged, is a position that seems to have been reached.  Moscow will be assured that future conflict can be averted; Ankara will keep its sword sheathed in future.  Washington will be left somewhere in between, left behind in another play it misread.  Humanitarian catastrophe will be assured.

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

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Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish YPG/YPJ forces in Syria’s Afrin entered the third day. According to the Turkish newspaper Haberturk, 6,400 service members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) are involved in the operation. The newspaper added that the following 2 days of the operation, the TAF advanced 7.5km and captured 9 villages.

On January 22, pro-Kurdish sources claimed that YPG members destroyed 2 more Turkish battle tanks in Afrin. However, these reports like the previous “3 destroyed battle tanks” were not confirmed by any photos or videos also. Meanwhile, Turkey-led forces captured the villages of Sheikh Hrouz, Sheikh Bassi, Merso and Haftar from YPG/YPJ forces.

In turn, a representative of the Syrian Kurdistan in Moscow, Rodi Osman, claimed that YPG/YPJ forced the TAF and pro-Turkish armed groups to retreat from all the captured territory.

“Turkish forces and related groups tried to cross over to the territory of the Syrian city of Afrin with the support of the Air Force and missile strikes. However, the Syrian Democratic Forces struck at five positions,” the Russian state-run news agency Sputnik quoted Osman. “Those areas to which they crossed, they left, as the Kurds struck and forced them to retreat.”

Osman added that 10 Turkish soldiers and 20 pro-Turkish militants were killed in the clashes. However, pro-Turkish sources have already released enough photos and videos to confirm that statements that the TAF had achieved no gains in Afrin are baseless.

Pro-Turkish militants are in Sheikh Hrouz:

The Turkish Prime Ministry’s Office of Public Diplomacy also released an official list of the reasons of the ongoing military operation. The Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu provided a translation of the released note dubbed “What Turkey aims to do with Afrin operation”:

  • To ensure the Turkey-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA) takes control of a 10,000-square kilometer area.
  • Following on from the Euphrates Shield Operation and the operation in Idlib, to completely prevent the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from reaching the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • To eliminate the possibility of losing Turkey’s geographical contact with the Arab world.
  • To ensure the security of our borders with Syria.
  • To prevent the infiltration of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the PKK into Turkey through the Amanos Mountains.
  • To prevent a terrorist organization from opening to the Mediterranean and to the world from here
  • To ensure the security and continuation of the Euphrates Shield Operation area.
  • To take control of the Tel Rifaat region and ensure the return of civilians to their homelands.
  • To counter U.S. support for a terrorist organization.
  • The office also added three articles stating “Why Afrin is important to Turkey,” cited as follows:
  • Afrin is critical in maintaining the security of Turkey’s border provinces and ensuring the security of the Euphrates Shield Operation area.
  • The presence of terrorist organizations in Afrin means that the whole of the southern Turkish province of Kilis and most of the Hatay province are within range of terrorist organizations.
  • Turkey sees the merging of the Kobane area with Afrin as the most important pillar of the “Kurdish corridor” project.

Turkish battle tanks involved in the operation:

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch - January 22, 2018 (Videos, Photos)

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch - January 22, 2018 (Videos, Photos)

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch - January 22, 2018 (Videos, Photos)

Pro-Turkish militants involved in the operation:

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch - January 22, 2018 (Videos, Photos)

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch - January 22, 2018 (Videos, Photos)

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch - January 22, 2018 (Videos, Photos)

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch - January 22, 2018 (Videos, Photos)

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All images in this article are from South Front.

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闯 Chuǎng: The image of a horse breaking through a gate. Meaning: To break free; To attack, charge; To break through, force one’s way in or out; To act impetuously. 闯关 (chuǎngguān): to run a blockade. 闯座 (chuǎngzuò): to attend a feast without being invited.

Over the past three decades, China has transformed from an isolated state-planned economy into an integrated hub of capitalist production. Waves of new investment are reshaping and deepening China’s contradictions, creating billionaires like Ma Yun while the millions below — those who farm, cook, clean, and assemble his electronic infrastructure — struggle to escape fates of endless grueling work. But as China’s wealthy feast ever more lavishly, the poor have begun to batter down the gates to the banquet hall. 闯 is the sudden movement when the gate is broken and the possibilities for a new world emerge beyond it.

闯  Chuǎng will publish a journal analyzing the ongoing development of capitalism in China, its historical roots, and the revolts of those crushed beneath it.  Chuǎng is also a blog chronicling these developments in shorter and more immediate form, and will publish translations, reports, and comments on Chinese news of interest to those who want to break beyond the bounds of the slaughterhouse called capitalism.

Chuǎng Editors

***

On November 15, 2017, police stormed into a student reading group at the Guangdong University of Technology (GDUT) and seized six participants, including four current students at the university and two recent graduates from other schools. The former were released the next day, but the latter two were placed under detention as suspects for the crime of “gathering crowds to disrupt social order” – a charge we have seen increasingly leveled against multiple feministslabour activistsstriking workers and bloggers over the past five years. Authorities alleged that the reading group was an “anti-party, anti-society organization” that was discussing “sensitive topics.”

Despite Beijing’s massively staffed policing of the internet and cellular networks, a petition managed to circulate calling for the release of 24-year-old Zhang Yunfan – one of the initial two among what would turn out to be at least four young people detained for weeks as suspects in this case. Apparently the petition mentioned only Zhang, a “Left Maoist,”1 because the authors were unaware of the others when it was penned. Although it was repeatedly blocked only moments after being reposted, over 400 people soon signed the petition, including many prominent intellectuals who risk repercussions because they are based in China.

On January 15, after 30 days in the Panyu Detention Center, two weeks under house arrest and two weeks of recovery, Zhang published the open letter that we have translated below. The letter mentioned three associates who had also been detained and released on bail awaiting trial, and four others who were still in hiding after having been put on the police wanted list.

The next day Sun Tingting, one of the other three detainees, released her own open letter, also translated below. It provides a more detailed account of the arrests, their context and her nightmarish experience in detention from December 8 to January 14.

Like the petition, both of these letters were of course quickly censored, but new WeChat feeds keep popping up and reposting them, to the point that “Sun Tingting” even briefly trended on Sina Weibo until the term was blocked.

Then on the third day, a third letter appeared by yet another detainee: Zheng Yongming. In the interest of making these translations available as quickly as possible, we are publishing the first two now and will add the third when it is finished in a day or two.

From left to right: Zhang, Sun and Zheng.

From left to right: Zhang, Sun and Zheng (Source: The Bullet)


My Confession to the People

Zhang Yunfan

Translated by Steamgoth Engine

Special thanks to Qian Liqun, Zhang Qianfan, Li Ling, Chen Bo, Cai Xiaoming, Song Lei and other mentors from Peking University (PKU), and to Huang Jisu, Kuang Xin’nian, Zhu Dongli, Qin Hui, Yu Jianlin, Xu Youyu, Song Yangbiao, Chen Hongtao, Fan Jinggang and over 400 other mentors and friends from all walks of life, who signed the petition for my release. Thanks for courageously speaking out for justice so that I can again see the light of day! I wish I could express my gratitude to every one of you in person.

I was released on bail awaiting trial December 29th, 2017. However, after 30 days of criminal detention and another 14 under house arrest, I find that the challenge has just begun.

I cannot tear off this page of my life. My only option is to confront the challenge.

Some people say I am a PKU alumnus, a scholar, an elite who is less egotistical than most. But the identity I hold dearest is that of a Marxist and a “Left Maoist” – labels to which different people attach different meanings.

I can see that in this world, exploitation and oppression have never disappeared. Many of my family members have been workers in state-owned enterprises. Thus, even when I was a child, I was aware of how the lifelong hard labour and contributions of old workers were expropriated, when the state-owned enterprises underwent reform and privatization. They were discarded and rendered precarious, abandoned to the will of society. Even larger in number, the vulnerable groups, those in coal mines owned by abusive bosses, on scaffolds and in sweatshops – their life trajectory was to first exhaust their youth, then exhaust their whole lives, and finally to exhaust the lives of their sons and daughters.

I swallowed this industrial sewage, these unemployment documents
Youth stooped at machines die before their time
I swallowed the hustle and the destitution
Swallowed pedestrian bridges, life covered in rust
I can’t swallow any more
All that I’ve swallowed is now gushing out of my throat
Unfurling on the land of my ancestors
Into a disgraceful poem.2

Behind the glory of prosperity, a long shadow, an inch of halo, an inch of blood red. The poet has jumped to his death, but his faith rises slowly from the horizon.

This is why I am determined to be loyal to the working class and why I have faith in Marxism.

Locked Up for Reading Books: Voices from the November 15th Incident

Some of the rumors online are true. It is true that when I was studying in Peking University, I was a member of the PKU Marxist Student Group. My comrades at the university and I not only studied theory in our reading group, but also placed ourselves among the downtrodden masses. I gradually found that – after spending countless hours with them singing, dancing, discussing news, screening films and giving English lessons, everywhere I went, I was greeted by workers on campus. In the cafeteria they always gave me a little extra food.

After graduation I came to Guangzhou. My life did not change, except that now I had to work for a living. To put it a bit self-righteously, perhaps, I continued to practice my idealism one step at a time at GDUT. Actually, though, all I did was to attend reading groups and do volunteer work.

During the reading session when we were arrested, we were discussing historical change and social problems from the last few decades, including major historical events, workers’ rights and so on. We discussed how young people should solve these problems. I admit that we also talked about the movement 29 years ago that university students were involved in.3

Some readers must be curious whether my views are indeed “extreme.” Of course, they are not like what you read about in the newspapers or textbooks or watch on TV. By their standards acknowledging the existence of various problems in society alone is already “extremist” enough, and it is undoubtedly even more so to discuss “how to solve” the problems. But every country in the world has its own social problems. Is it truly a crime for one to voice one’s opinions on how to solve them? This is our right! The Constitution states, ambitiously: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have freedom of speech, publication, assembly, association, procession and demonstration.” If an expression can be judged as “extremist,” then “freedom” means nothing!

However, I would feel that I was at least being treated with due respect and seriousness if the excuse for my arrest were actually “discussing social issues.” When I was locked up on November 15, the police noted that I worked in education and accused me of “illegal business activities.” Perhaps because of the obvious stupidity of this charge, when I was officially detained, my alleged transgression changed to the crime of “gathering crowds to disrupt social order.” Was I, a 24-year-old young person, powerful enough to disrupt the “work, production, business, teaching, research and medical services” of a university campus covering hundreds of acres? Isn’t it obvious that this is just a trumped-up charge meant to silence me?

I was asked to confess that there was a conspiracy. Was there really a conspiracy? What kind of plotting does a reading group need? Are people involved in plotting when they dance in plazas? Does the simple division of labour necessary for a reading group count as “plotting”?

I was also asked to admit that I had “extremist ideas,” to pledge not to attend reading groups in the future, and to give them names of more people with the same ideas. The cold floor of the detention center, interrogation for eight hours on end, the absolute loneliness under house arrest, the overwhelming spiritual torture – all these are hard to put into words. When I was told that more people would be arrested and my parents would be dragged into this because of my decisions, I have to say, I could not bear the tremendous mental stress. All I wanted to do was to bring it to an end as soon as possible and let my family and friends return to their normal lives, even if that meant I would go to prison. So I compromised. To my surprise, I was finally released on bail. The days under house arrest – the days of absolute loneliness – made me wordless and flat. After a dozen days of recovery, I finally resumed my former self. What I did not expect was that my compromise would turn out to be utterly useless!

Several young people involved in the reading group – Sun Tingting, Zheng Yongming, Ye Jianke – were released on bail along with me. But the young leftists Xu Zhongliang, Huang Ping, Han Peng and my girlfriend Gu Jiayue are still wanted as criminal suspects. Our charges have not been dropped, and they have been forced to become fugitives!

I cannot imagine how the four of them are now. When I close my eyes, it is as if we were back in the guotongqu [parts of China ruled by the Kuomintang during the Civil War]: the roaring police cars, the shrill wail of sirens, the agents with arrest warrants hunting down progressive young men and women who had nowhere to hide.

And I am supposed to remain silent. According to the police, I should be “cautious,” return to a “normal” life, sit peacefully at a desk, henceforth living as a “refined egoist.” But they also want me to bear the burden of an imaginary crime for life, and to stay away from reading groups and the labouring masses I so love.

What’s more, I am also supposed to watch other young leftists be hunted down and arrested!

They are not from prestigious schools. They will not be as fortunate as myself, released because of public opinion. They cannot even get out of Guangzhou. And they do not have a Yan’an to turn to.4 The only thing awaiting them is an indefinite period in prison!

I am out of jail, but my conscience is in handcuffs. I was not tried in court, but I will always face a moral judgment.

Maybe we have always been insignificant. But from now on any young idealist can be arrested, any reading group can be condemned, any nonprofit activity can be controlled, ideas and idealism are taboo, free speech is not worth a penny, and Marx and Mao are mere jokes!

How heartless must one be to simply bow one’s head at this moment?

I have heard many speak of “the golden mean,” saying “take a step back to gain a broader perspective.”

Of course I can understand that they care about me and offer advice in good faith. But how can I leave my comrades and become a “refined egoist”? Moreover, “freedom of speech” is protected by the Constitution, so there is no need for moderation. Mao Zedong Thought takes a clear position, not “the golden mean.” If I “take a step back,” maybe my own situation would improve, but my comrades would fall into an abyss! And if they fall, the dignity of all young idealists would fall with them. It is better to revolt than to live in shame! I can only tell the truth – I will compromise no more. I would rather be in prison than resign myself to this miserable condition.

Good people, I urge you to see: the person you have defended is here. He will not let you down. He will hold his head high and face the coming storm. He is prepared!


I Am Sun Tingting, I Want to Speak Out

Sun Tingting

Translated by Wen

I am the Sun Tingting mentioned in “Zhang Yunfan: My Confession to the People,” and one of the detainees along with Zhang in the GDUT reading group incident. I was detained by police on December 8th 2017 and released on bail January 4th 2018. I originally did not have the courage to speak out, but I saw Lu Qianqian and others reporting on sexual harassment, and saw the courageous Zhang Yunfan fighting for freedom of expression. As someone whose rights and dignity have also been violated, I cannot stand idly by, and I will not remain silent.

I am Sun Tingting and I want to speak out!

For the first 11 months of 2017, my life and work were as usual, organizing charity events for migrant workers by day, and joining campus workers to dance in public squares by night. I never thought that on the night of December 8th a group of police would raid my apartment, turning the last month of 2017 into a nightmare.

I graduated from Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine in 2016. At university, I came across progressive youth and participated in activities related to social service and the public interest. Their passion, spirit, sincerity and practicality deeply affected me. In serving the underprivileged, I came to realize that public interest work is the best way to help underprivileged workers and peasants at the bottom of society to live with dignity. Since then, I developed a strong inclination toward a career in public interest work. I first worked at a social work organization in Guangzhou’s Tianhe District, and later I worked at another social work organization at Guangzhou’s university district in Panyu. Before I started working there, the organization was already collaborating with a reading group at GDUT. One of my responsibilities was to recruit volunteers for public interest events, so I naturally kept in contact and worked with student volunteers from this reading group, and I assisted campus workers in organizing cultural events such as dances in public squares.

Never in a million years would I have expected to face imprisonment as a result.

On the night of November 15th 2017, students had gathered in a classroom for the reading group as usual. Suddenly, security guards stormed into the classroom, supposedly because someone had reported to the university’s Security and Safety Department that the group was discussing sensitive topics. Police then seized four students [at the university] and two recent graduates [from PKU] who were involved in the reading group, taking them all to the police station. The next day, the four students were released, but the two other people (Zhang Yunfan and Ye Jianke) were placed under criminal detention in the Panyu Detention Centre. I soon learned from the director of my social work organization that the group had been labelled an “anti-party and anti-society” organization. For some time thereafter, students involved in the reading group were regularly visited and warned by university [authorities] and the police, and one of the students lost their scholarship. The reading group soon dissolved. I felt this was very unfortunate because they were some of the most compassionate and capable volunteers I had met, unlike many other college student volunteers who do it to accumulate volunteer time rather than try to take up some grassroots perspective.

But I never thought this would affect me because I was merely working with them to organize events for workers. I kept working as usual, but without the help of volunteers, it was difficult to sustain the public square dance activities.

It was at that moment that a terrible disaster befell me.

At around 10pm on December 8th 2017, my landlord knocked on my door, and when I opened it, a plainclothes police officer and four police in uniform forced themselves into my apartment and asked me for my ID, and for me to cooperate with them. As a young woman living by myself, I was dumbfounded, and did not know what to do with myself. A brief moment of panic was followed by overwhelming rage. I repeatedly asked them to show me their police ID and search warrant, but they refused. They began to search my room, rifling through all my things, paging through books, notebooks and diaries, heaping them into a pile and making me stand to one side as they took pictures.

Then I was taken to Xiaoguowei police station with my mobile phone and computer. They started to ask me about members of the reading group, and I said I didn’t know. The head of the police station threatened me: “you don’t want to talk? You can go die (and said this repeatedly)! Then we’ll give her a random charge, lock her up first and figure it out later!”

When they said that, I thought I was hearing things. What is “assigning a random charge”? So police can just “assign a random charge” to an innocent citizen without evidence? Can the law be used so casually in their hands? Can the personal freedom of individuals be impinged upon so freely in their eyes? Not only did I not know the situation of the members of the reading group, I at least had the right to remain silent when being questioned. Can I be assigned a random charge to pressure me because I don’t know or remain silent?

At 5pm the next day, the police took me back to my apartment and asked me to sign a search warrant, and they started to take books and notebooks including my private diaries and Kindle reader. I was very angry and I did not understand. Is a search warrant a warrant to raid my home? Can they take away any personal belongings including the most private personal diary to be examined by police with a search warrant? Do police not consider the privacy of citizens and the inconvenience to people when their personal belongings are taken away? To be clear, at this time I was not even a suspect to a crime, let alone a criminal, but merely being summoned for questioning.

Back at the police station, the police pulled out another search warrant dated 12pm December 9th 2017, and made me sign it. This was clearly a trick! If the search was at 5pm, how does it become 12pm? And why was there a second search warrant? Did they go search again at 12pm? When I questioned the police, they did not reply and I refused to sign. Then they produced a summons which was dated for the previous day, December 8th, and asked me to sign. I questioned them why they did not show it to me last night, and they said under special circumstances people can be taken away first and showed the summons later. I was absolutely speechless! What special circumstance did I have? Me, a wisp of a 1.6 meter tall recent college graduate – did they think I was going to make an escape or something? I also refused to sign that document.

Even more absurdity followed.

In the evening, the police told me they were applying for both my administrative and criminal detention, and waiting for their superiors to decide on which form of detention. Because of an issue with the system, they could only apply for one form of detention, and decided “on the spot” to apply for criminal detention. During the entire process, they did not present any evidence to prove that I had violated any law, and they still so casually decided a criminal detention. At that moment, I again felt the casual attitude with which the Panyu police treat the law and the freedom and rights of citizens.

And that’s how I was thrown into the detention centre “on the spot,” but this was only the beginning of my real nightmare.

The room I was locked up in had 25 detainees, including drug traffickers, thieves and other criminals of all kinds. As a young woman working on public interest in service to migrant workers, to be locked up with these people made me feel endless irony and sadness. The room only had 15 concrete beds, so I had to sleep on the cold floor. I could not sleep the whole night on the first night under the bright light. My body could not handle coldness, and I felt intense pain on my insides. I kept waking up in the middle of each night. In our cell block there was a fixed bathroom schedule, and I was always placed last, and each time it was my turn the time was already up.

If there was urgent need to use the bathroom outside of scheduled bathroom time, I would be punished by being forced to stand and not allowed to sleep. As a result, I alternated between half-hour sleeps and half-hour standing up, and ended up with less than 4 hours of sleep each night. Because of lack of sleep and limited bathroom use, my body weakened and I felt ill inside. I urinated blood on two occasions and experienced two serious instances of constipation which caused so much pain that I could not sit, stand or walk. If not for my release on bail on January 4th, I feel I could have died from the pain in my cell. My request for an individual room or medical attention were refused and ridiculed. When I absolutely insisted, the doctor in the detention centre just gave me some bottle with no medicine in it!

Beside this, there was no privacy to speak of. There were surveillance cameras everywhere, even when you are changing your clothes or using the bathroom. Why should I suffer such indignity!

I was detained for 26 days, and released on bail on January 4th, 2018. However, the charges still remain.

Throughout the entire process I felt bewildered, and even now, I do not know what I did or what law I violated. The police demanded that I write a confession, and that I write it according to their instructions. But I refused to distort facts. The police threatened that if I do not write in accordance with their wishes, I will be put under house arrest for 6 months. But how can I confess to a crime I did not commit?

I have far too many questions, and so I want to write down my experience, and hope others can answer my questions.

  • I am not a criminal, and there is no evidence that I am a major suspect to a crime. Why should I be criminally detained?
  • Can the police detain absolutely anyone, and then search for evidence to prove the guilt of that person, and when no evidence is found, simply release the person, but the police will not face any discipline?
  • Can police arbitrarily search the residence of any citizen, and take away their personal belongings for an indefinite amount of time?
  • If during the course of questioning someone doesn’t answer to the police satisfaction, can they just “make up a charge and figure it out later?”
  • Can the police arbitrarily decide on either administrative or criminal detention “on the spot”?
  • Should I be bullied in detention, and seen as “uncooperative”, just because I insist on my rights in the face of the police?
  • Should I not be treated when I fall sick in detention?
  • Does 4 hour of sleep meet the legal requirement of “ensuring that suspects have sufficient time for sleep”?
  • Can I only be released on bail after agreeing to a confession in accordance with police instructions?
  • When the police detained an innocent person for more than 20 days and confiscated my books, computer, mobile phone, Kindle and other belongings, are these evidence of my crime? When can they be returned to me? I no longer have the money to buy those things.

Finally, I want the police to recognize that I was detained for more than 20 days for no reason, which caused me to lose my job, broke my body, put my family in debt for legal fees to the tune of tens of thousands of yuan in borrowed money, and imprinted criminality upon my life. In the future, it may be very difficult for me to find a job. This incident has laid yet another heavy economic burden on my already poor family!

Why is this happening? These questions puzzle me. It has made me very cautious and has made me feel very insecure. I do not know if I, or people around me, will suffer these abuses once more in the future. I hope friends who read the experiences I have described above to explain all this to me, and I also hope that people can help the other friends also suffering from this same ordeal. Whether I will be given a heavy sentence or declared innocent, at least I will have a clear understanding of it all and some satisfaction!

*

Notes

1. ‘Left Maoist’ (毛左) is a political category that has risen to prominence since about 2012 in order to distinguish from those Maoists (known as ‘Right Maoists’ by some of their leftist critics but simply as “Maoists”[毛派] by themselves) with more nationalist and/or reformist orientations. (These categories will be discussed in the second issue of our journal, forthcoming later in 2018.)

2. From the poem “I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron” by Xu Lizhi.

3. I.e. the mass movement of 1989 that ended with the June 4th Incident on Tian’anmen Square.

4. Having likened the fugitives to Communist Party members hiding underground during the Civil War, Zhang now notes the difference that at least the latter had a base in Yan’an to which they could flee, whereas today’s communists have no such sanctuary – in China or elsewhere.

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闯 Chuǎng: The image of a horse breaking through a gate. Meaning: To break free; To attack, charge; To break through, force one’s way in or out; To act impetuously. 闯关 (chuǎngguān): to run a blockade. 闯座 (chuǎngzuò): to attend a feast without being invited.

Over the past three decades, China has transformed from an isolated state-planned economy into an integrated hub of capitalist production. Waves of new investment are reshaping and deepening China’s contradictions, creating billionaires like Ma Yun while the millions below — those who farm, cook, clean, and assemble his electronic infrastructure — struggle to escape fates of endless grueling work. But as China’s wealthy feast ever more lavishly, the poor have begun to batter down the gates to the banquet hall. 闯 is the sudden movement when the gate is broken and the possibilities for a new world emerge beyond it.

闯  Chuǎng will publish a journal analyzing the ongoing development of capitalism in China, its historical roots, and the revolts of those crushed beneath it.  Chuǎng is also a blog chronicling these developments in shorter and more immediate form, and will publish translations, reports, and comments on Chinese news of interest to those who want to break beyond the bounds of the slaughterhouse called capitalism.

Chuǎng Editors

***

On November 15, 2017, police stormed into a student reading group at the Guangdong University of Technology (GDUT) and seized six participants, including four current students at the university and two recent graduates from other schools. The former were released the next day, but the latter two were placed under detention as suspects for the crime of “gathering crowds to disrupt social order” – a charge we have seen increasingly leveled against multiple feministslabour activistsstriking workers and bloggers over the past five years. Authorities alleged that the reading group was an “anti-party, anti-society organization” that was discussing “sensitive topics.”

Despite Beijing’s massively staffed policing of the internet and cellular networks, a petition managed to circulate calling for the release of 24-year-old Zhang Yunfan – one of the initial two among what would turn out to be at least four young people detained for weeks as suspects in this case. Apparently the petition mentioned only Zhang, a “Left Maoist,”1 because the authors were unaware of the others when it was penned. Although it was repeatedly blocked only moments after being reposted, over 400 people soon signed the petition, including many prominent intellectuals who risk repercussions because they are based in China.

On January 15, after 30 days in the Panyu Detention Center, two weeks under house arrest and two weeks of recovery, Zhang published the open letter that we have translated below. The letter mentioned three associates who had also been detained and released on bail awaiting trial, and four others who were still in hiding after having been put on the police wanted list.

The next day Sun Tingting, one of the other three detainees, released her own open letter, also translated below. It provides a more detailed account of the arrests, their context and her nightmarish experience in detention from December 8 to January 14.

Like the petition, both of these letters were of course quickly censored, but new WeChat feeds keep popping up and reposting them, to the point that “Sun Tingting” even briefly trended on Sina Weibo until the term was blocked.

Then on the third day, a third letter appeared by yet another detainee: Zheng Yongming. In the interest of making these translations available as quickly as possible, we are publishing the first two now and will add the third when it is finished in a day or two.

From left to right: Zhang, Sun and Zheng.

From left to right: Zhang, Sun and Zheng (Source: The Bullet)


My Confession to the People

Zhang Yunfan

Translated by Steamgoth Engine

Special thanks to Qian Liqun, Zhang Qianfan, Li Ling, Chen Bo, Cai Xiaoming, Song Lei and other mentors from Peking University (PKU), and to Huang Jisu, Kuang Xin’nian, Zhu Dongli, Qin Hui, Yu Jianlin, Xu Youyu, Song Yangbiao, Chen Hongtao, Fan Jinggang and over 400 other mentors and friends from all walks of life, who signed the petition for my release. Thanks for courageously speaking out for justice so that I can again see the light of day! I wish I could express my gratitude to every one of you in person.

I was released on bail awaiting trial December 29th, 2017. However, after 30 days of criminal detention and another 14 under house arrest, I find that the challenge has just begun.

I cannot tear off this page of my life. My only option is to confront the challenge.

Some people say I am a PKU alumnus, a scholar, an elite who is less egotistical than most. But the identity I hold dearest is that of a Marxist and a “Left Maoist” – labels to which different people attach different meanings.

I can see that in this world, exploitation and oppression have never disappeared. Many of my family members have been workers in state-owned enterprises. Thus, even when I was a child, I was aware of how the lifelong hard labour and contributions of old workers were expropriated, when the state-owned enterprises underwent reform and privatization. They were discarded and rendered precarious, abandoned to the will of society. Even larger in number, the vulnerable groups, those in coal mines owned by abusive bosses, on scaffolds and in sweatshops – their life trajectory was to first exhaust their youth, then exhaust their whole lives, and finally to exhaust the lives of their sons and daughters.

I swallowed this industrial sewage, these unemployment documents
Youth stooped at machines die before their time
I swallowed the hustle and the destitution
Swallowed pedestrian bridges, life covered in rust
I can’t swallow any more
All that I’ve swallowed is now gushing out of my throat
Unfurling on the land of my ancestors
Into a disgraceful poem.2

Behind the glory of prosperity, a long shadow, an inch of halo, an inch of blood red. The poet has jumped to his death, but his faith rises slowly from the horizon.

This is why I am determined to be loyal to the working class and why I have faith in Marxism.

Locked Up for Reading Books: Voices from the November 15th Incident

Some of the rumors online are true. It is true that when I was studying in Peking University, I was a member of the PKU Marxist Student Group. My comrades at the university and I not only studied theory in our reading group, but also placed ourselves among the downtrodden masses. I gradually found that – after spending countless hours with them singing, dancing, discussing news, screening films and giving English lessons, everywhere I went, I was greeted by workers on campus. In the cafeteria they always gave me a little extra food.

After graduation I came to Guangzhou. My life did not change, except that now I had to work for a living. To put it a bit self-righteously, perhaps, I continued to practice my idealism one step at a time at GDUT. Actually, though, all I did was to attend reading groups and do volunteer work.

During the reading session when we were arrested, we were discussing historical change and social problems from the last few decades, including major historical events, workers’ rights and so on. We discussed how young people should solve these problems. I admit that we also talked about the movement 29 years ago that university students were involved in.3

Some readers must be curious whether my views are indeed “extreme.” Of course, they are not like what you read about in the newspapers or textbooks or watch on TV. By their standards acknowledging the existence of various problems in society alone is already “extremist” enough, and it is undoubtedly even more so to discuss “how to solve” the problems. But every country in the world has its own social problems. Is it truly a crime for one to voice one’s opinions on how to solve them? This is our right! The Constitution states, ambitiously: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have freedom of speech, publication, assembly, association, procession and demonstration.” If an expression can be judged as “extremist,” then “freedom” means nothing!

However, I would feel that I was at least being treated with due respect and seriousness if the excuse for my arrest were actually “discussing social issues.” When I was locked up on November 15, the police noted that I worked in education and accused me of “illegal business activities.” Perhaps because of the obvious stupidity of this charge, when I was officially detained, my alleged transgression changed to the crime of “gathering crowds to disrupt social order.” Was I, a 24-year-old young person, powerful enough to disrupt the “work, production, business, teaching, research and medical services” of a university campus covering hundreds of acres? Isn’t it obvious that this is just a trumped-up charge meant to silence me?

I was asked to confess that there was a conspiracy. Was there really a conspiracy? What kind of plotting does a reading group need? Are people involved in plotting when they dance in plazas? Does the simple division of labour necessary for a reading group count as “plotting”?

I was also asked to admit that I had “extremist ideas,” to pledge not to attend reading groups in the future, and to give them names of more people with the same ideas. The cold floor of the detention center, interrogation for eight hours on end, the absolute loneliness under house arrest, the overwhelming spiritual torture – all these are hard to put into words. When I was told that more people would be arrested and my parents would be dragged into this because of my decisions, I have to say, I could not bear the tremendous mental stress. All I wanted to do was to bring it to an end as soon as possible and let my family and friends return to their normal lives, even if that meant I would go to prison. So I compromised. To my surprise, I was finally released on bail. The days under house arrest – the days of absolute loneliness – made me wordless and flat. After a dozen days of recovery, I finally resumed my former self. What I did not expect was that my compromise would turn out to be utterly useless!

Several young people involved in the reading group – Sun Tingting, Zheng Yongming, Ye Jianke – were released on bail along with me. But the young leftists Xu Zhongliang, Huang Ping, Han Peng and my girlfriend Gu Jiayue are still wanted as criminal suspects. Our charges have not been dropped, and they have been forced to become fugitives!

I cannot imagine how the four of them are now. When I close my eyes, it is as if we were back in the guotongqu [parts of China ruled by the Kuomintang during the Civil War]: the roaring police cars, the shrill wail of sirens, the agents with arrest warrants hunting down progressive young men and women who had nowhere to hide.

And I am supposed to remain silent. According to the police, I should be “cautious,” return to a “normal” life, sit peacefully at a desk, henceforth living as a “refined egoist.” But they also want me to bear the burden of an imaginary crime for life, and to stay away from reading groups and the labouring masses I so love.

What’s more, I am also supposed to watch other young leftists be hunted down and arrested!

They are not from prestigious schools. They will not be as fortunate as myself, released because of public opinion. They cannot even get out of Guangzhou. And they do not have a Yan’an to turn to.4 The only thing awaiting them is an indefinite period in prison!

I am out of jail, but my conscience is in handcuffs. I was not tried in court, but I will always face a moral judgment.

Maybe we have always been insignificant. But from now on any young idealist can be arrested, any reading group can be condemned, any nonprofit activity can be controlled, ideas and idealism are taboo, free speech is not worth a penny, and Marx and Mao are mere jokes!

How heartless must one be to simply bow one’s head at this moment?

I have heard many speak of “the golden mean,” saying “take a step back to gain a broader perspective.”

Of course I can understand that they care about me and offer advice in good faith. But how can I leave my comrades and become a “refined egoist”? Moreover, “freedom of speech” is protected by the Constitution, so there is no need for moderation. Mao Zedong Thought takes a clear position, not “the golden mean.” If I “take a step back,” maybe my own situation would improve, but my comrades would fall into an abyss! And if they fall, the dignity of all young idealists would fall with them. It is better to revolt than to live in shame! I can only tell the truth – I will compromise no more. I would rather be in prison than resign myself to this miserable condition.

Good people, I urge you to see: the person you have defended is here. He will not let you down. He will hold his head high and face the coming storm. He is prepared!


I Am Sun Tingting, I Want to Speak Out

Sun Tingting

Translated by Wen

I am the Sun Tingting mentioned in “Zhang Yunfan: My Confession to the People,” and one of the detainees along with Zhang in the GDUT reading group incident. I was detained by police on December 8th 2017 and released on bail January 4th 2018. I originally did not have the courage to speak out, but I saw Lu Qianqian and others reporting on sexual harassment, and saw the courageous Zhang Yunfan fighting for freedom of expression. As someone whose rights and dignity have also been violated, I cannot stand idly by, and I will not remain silent.

I am Sun Tingting and I want to speak out!

For the first 11 months of 2017, my life and work were as usual, organizing charity events for migrant workers by day, and joining campus workers to dance in public squares by night. I never thought that on the night of December 8th a group of police would raid my apartment, turning the last month of 2017 into a nightmare.

I graduated from Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine in 2016. At university, I came across progressive youth and participated in activities related to social service and the public interest. Their passion, spirit, sincerity and practicality deeply affected me. In serving the underprivileged, I came to realize that public interest work is the best way to help underprivileged workers and peasants at the bottom of society to live with dignity. Since then, I developed a strong inclination toward a career in public interest work. I first worked at a social work organization in Guangzhou’s Tianhe District, and later I worked at another social work organization at Guangzhou’s university district in Panyu. Before I started working there, the organization was already collaborating with a reading group at GDUT. One of my responsibilities was to recruit volunteers for public interest events, so I naturally kept in contact and worked with student volunteers from this reading group, and I assisted campus workers in organizing cultural events such as dances in public squares.

Never in a million years would I have expected to face imprisonment as a result.

On the night of November 15th 2017, students had gathered in a classroom for the reading group as usual. Suddenly, security guards stormed into the classroom, supposedly because someone had reported to the university’s Security and Safety Department that the group was discussing sensitive topics. Police then seized four students [at the university] and two recent graduates [from PKU] who were involved in the reading group, taking them all to the police station. The next day, the four students were released, but the two other people (Zhang Yunfan and Ye Jianke) were placed under criminal detention in the Panyu Detention Centre. I soon learned from the director of my social work organization that the group had been labelled an “anti-party and anti-society” organization. For some time thereafter, students involved in the reading group were regularly visited and warned by university [authorities] and the police, and one of the students lost their scholarship. The reading group soon dissolved. I felt this was very unfortunate because they were some of the most compassionate and capable volunteers I had met, unlike many other college student volunteers who do it to accumulate volunteer time rather than try to take up some grassroots perspective.

But I never thought this would affect me because I was merely working with them to organize events for workers. I kept working as usual, but without the help of volunteers, it was difficult to sustain the public square dance activities.

It was at that moment that a terrible disaster befell me.

At around 10pm on December 8th 2017, my landlord knocked on my door, and when I opened it, a plainclothes police officer and four police in uniform forced themselves into my apartment and asked me for my ID, and for me to cooperate with them. As a young woman living by myself, I was dumbfounded, and did not know what to do with myself. A brief moment of panic was followed by overwhelming rage. I repeatedly asked them to show me their police ID and search warrant, but they refused. They began to search my room, rifling through all my things, paging through books, notebooks and diaries, heaping them into a pile and making me stand to one side as they took pictures.

Then I was taken to Xiaoguowei police station with my mobile phone and computer. They started to ask me about members of the reading group, and I said I didn’t know. The head of the police station threatened me: “you don’t want to talk? You can go die (and said this repeatedly)! Then we’ll give her a random charge, lock her up first and figure it out later!”

When they said that, I thought I was hearing things. What is “assigning a random charge”? So police can just “assign a random charge” to an innocent citizen without evidence? Can the law be used so casually in their hands? Can the personal freedom of individuals be impinged upon so freely in their eyes? Not only did I not know the situation of the members of the reading group, I at least had the right to remain silent when being questioned. Can I be assigned a random charge to pressure me because I don’t know or remain silent?

At 5pm the next day, the police took me back to my apartment and asked me to sign a search warrant, and they started to take books and notebooks including my private diaries and Kindle reader. I was very angry and I did not understand. Is a search warrant a warrant to raid my home? Can they take away any personal belongings including the most private personal diary to be examined by police with a search warrant? Do police not consider the privacy of citizens and the inconvenience to people when their personal belongings are taken away? To be clear, at this time I was not even a suspect to a crime, let alone a criminal, but merely being summoned for questioning.

Back at the police station, the police pulled out another search warrant dated 12pm December 9th 2017, and made me sign it. This was clearly a trick! If the search was at 5pm, how does it become 12pm? And why was there a second search warrant? Did they go search again at 12pm? When I questioned the police, they did not reply and I refused to sign. Then they produced a summons which was dated for the previous day, December 8th, and asked me to sign. I questioned them why they did not show it to me last night, and they said under special circumstances people can be taken away first and showed the summons later. I was absolutely speechless! What special circumstance did I have? Me, a wisp of a 1.6 meter tall recent college graduate – did they think I was going to make an escape or something? I also refused to sign that document.

Even more absurdity followed.

In the evening, the police told me they were applying for both my administrative and criminal detention, and waiting for their superiors to decide on which form of detention. Because of an issue with the system, they could only apply for one form of detention, and decided “on the spot” to apply for criminal detention. During the entire process, they did not present any evidence to prove that I had violated any law, and they still so casually decided a criminal detention. At that moment, I again felt the casual attitude with which the Panyu police treat the law and the freedom and rights of citizens.

And that’s how I was thrown into the detention centre “on the spot,” but this was only the beginning of my real nightmare.

The room I was locked up in had 25 detainees, including drug traffickers, thieves and other criminals of all kinds. As a young woman working on public interest in service to migrant workers, to be locked up with these people made me feel endless irony and sadness. The room only had 15 concrete beds, so I had to sleep on the cold floor. I could not sleep the whole night on the first night under the bright light. My body could not handle coldness, and I felt intense pain on my insides. I kept waking up in the middle of each night. In our cell block there was a fixed bathroom schedule, and I was always placed last, and each time it was my turn the time was already up.

If there was urgent need to use the bathroom outside of scheduled bathroom time, I would be punished by being forced to stand and not allowed to sleep. As a result, I alternated between half-hour sleeps and half-hour standing up, and ended up with less than 4 hours of sleep each night. Because of lack of sleep and limited bathroom use, my body weakened and I felt ill inside. I urinated blood on two occasions and experienced two serious instances of constipation which caused so much pain that I could not sit, stand or walk. If not for my release on bail on January 4th, I feel I could have died from the pain in my cell. My request for an individual room or medical attention were refused and ridiculed. When I absolutely insisted, the doctor in the detention centre just gave me some bottle with no medicine in it!

Beside this, there was no privacy to speak of. There were surveillance cameras everywhere, even when you are changing your clothes or using the bathroom. Why should I suffer such indignity!

I was detained for 26 days, and released on bail on January 4th, 2018. However, the charges still remain.

Throughout the entire process I felt bewildered, and even now, I do not know what I did or what law I violated. The police demanded that I write a confession, and that I write it according to their instructions. But I refused to distort facts. The police threatened that if I do not write in accordance with their wishes, I will be put under house arrest for 6 months. But how can I confess to a crime I did not commit?

I have far too many questions, and so I want to write down my experience, and hope others can answer my questions.

  • I am not a criminal, and there is no evidence that I am a major suspect to a crime. Why should I be criminally detained?
  • Can the police detain absolutely anyone, and then search for evidence to prove the guilt of that person, and when no evidence is found, simply release the person, but the police will not face any discipline?
  • Can police arbitrarily search the residence of any citizen, and take away their personal belongings for an indefinite amount of time?
  • If during the course of questioning someone doesn’t answer to the police satisfaction, can they just “make up a charge and figure it out later?”
  • Can the police arbitrarily decide on either administrative or criminal detention “on the spot”?
  • Should I be bullied in detention, and seen as “uncooperative”, just because I insist on my rights in the face of the police?
  • Should I not be treated when I fall sick in detention?
  • Does 4 hour of sleep meet the legal requirement of “ensuring that suspects have sufficient time for sleep”?
  • Can I only be released on bail after agreeing to a confession in accordance with police instructions?
  • When the police detained an innocent person for more than 20 days and confiscated my books, computer, mobile phone, Kindle and other belongings, are these evidence of my crime? When can they be returned to me? I no longer have the money to buy those things.

Finally, I want the police to recognize that I was detained for more than 20 days for no reason, which caused me to lose my job, broke my body, put my family in debt for legal fees to the tune of tens of thousands of yuan in borrowed money, and imprinted criminality upon my life. In the future, it may be very difficult for me to find a job. This incident has laid yet another heavy economic burden on my already poor family!

Why is this happening? These questions puzzle me. It has made me very cautious and has made me feel very insecure. I do not know if I, or people around me, will suffer these abuses once more in the future. I hope friends who read the experiences I have described above to explain all this to me, and I also hope that people can help the other friends also suffering from this same ordeal. Whether I will be given a heavy sentence or declared innocent, at least I will have a clear understanding of it all and some satisfaction!

*

Notes

1. ‘Left Maoist’ (毛左) is a political category that has risen to prominence since about 2012 in order to distinguish from those Maoists (known as ‘Right Maoists’ by some of their leftist critics but simply as “Maoists”[毛派] by themselves) with more nationalist and/or reformist orientations. (These categories will be discussed in the second issue of our journal, forthcoming later in 2018.)

2. From the poem “I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron” by Xu Lizhi.

3. I.e. the mass movement of 1989 that ended with the June 4th Incident on Tian’anmen Square.

4. Having likened the fugitives to Communist Party members hiding underground during the Civil War, Zhang now notes the difference that at least the latter had a base in Yan’an to which they could flee, whereas today’s communists have no such sanctuary – in China or elsewhere.

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The American public has clear-cut opinions on both issues at the center of the current debate on immigration policy. A large majority (74%) favors granting permanent legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children, but 60% oppose a proposal to “substantially expand the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico” – a longtime goal of President Donald Trump.

When the two policies are taken together, 54% of Americans both favor granting permanent legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children and oppose greatly expanding the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 10-15.

There are substantial partisan differences in opinions about both policies: About nine-in-ten (92%) Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children should be granted permanent legal status. Republicans and Republican leaners favor this approach as well, though by a much more modest margin: 50% support this, while 40% are opposed.

To Read complete article on Pew Research Center click here

Note: Full topline results and methodology can be found here.

*

 is a senior researcher focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.

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Year-in-Review: Worst Abuses Against Palestinian Children in 2017

January 22nd, 2018 by Defense for Children Palestine

Last year marked 50 years of Israeli military occupation, with no signs of abatement in Palestinian children’s vulnerability to injury and abusive military arrest in the West Bank. Rapidly devolving living conditions in the Gaza Strip put in jeopardy the most basic human rights, as children became collateral damage in an internal Palestinian political standoff.

Israeli forces’ misuse of crowd control weapons caused critical and permanent injuries to some children while others endured ill-treatment amid high rates of military detention. An electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip led to the most severe downturn in the ongoing humanitarian crisis since Israel imposed a military blockade a decade ago, with hefty repercussions to children’s rights to clean water and health.

Israeli military and police brutality

Israeli forces killed 14 children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) during 2017, according to Defense for Children International – Palestine documentation. In addition, nine-year-old Mohammad Abu Hdaf died on December 6 due to injuries sustained during an Israeli drone strike in the Gaza Strip in 2014.

Five children were killed by live ammunition during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Five more children accused of committing some kind of attack also sustained fatal gunshot wounds.

Israeli forces shot four Palestinian teenagers inside a car on March 23 during unclear circumstances near the Israeli settlement of Bet El, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Mohammad Khattab, 17, died on the spot, and Jasem Nakhleh, 16, succumbed to his wounds 18 days later. The two others sustained serious injuries, but survived.

An Israeli military statement confirmed “hits,” according to local media, but claimed that the children were shot outside their car, while throwing explosives toward the settlement.

Under the condition of anonymity, a witness told DCIP that Mohammad was shot when he got out of his stalled car near Bet El settlement, to push it. Mohammad jumped back into the car to try to escape, but the car did not start, according to DCIP’s source. The witness said Israeli soldiers then approached the car and opened fire on all four children.

Israeli forces routinely employ the use of excessive force and intentional lethal force in situations not justified by international norms, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial or wilful killings, according to documentation collected by DCIP.

International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable where there is a threat to life or serious injury. Where individuals allegedly carry out a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported at least 961 child injuries at the hands of Israeli forces in 2017.

At the time of publication, DCIP had documented 61 child injuries by Israeli forces from a mix of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, and crowd control weapons in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 28 in the Gaza Strip in 2017. Of these cases, 33 children sustained injuries to the upper body from crowd control weapons, in some cases causing irreversible damage.

Crowd control weapons are only “less lethal” when fired at the lower body, from a distance of 50 to 60 meters (164 to 197 feet) and not aimed at children, as stipulated by Israel’s own military regulations.

Israeli forces shot at least two children in the face with rubber-coated metal bullets and two children in the head with tear gas canisters during a two-week period in December alone.

An Israeli soldier on December 15 shot Mohammad Tamimi, 15, in the face at close range with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh. The bullet lodged in the back of his skull and caused severe bleeding in his brain.

Days before, 14-year-old Mohammad al-Farani was hit in the face with a tear gas canister shot by Israeli forces from a military watchtower 50 meters (55 yards) away on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. He suffered a fractured cheekbone, head gash, internal bleeding in the brain, and permanent loss of his right eye.

The injuries took place as Israeli authorities used excessive force to quash widespread protests that erupted across the OPT following the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6. Heightened violence was ongoing as the year came to a close.

Evidence collected by DCIP also showed that Palestinian children in East Jerusalem were particularly vulnerable to misuse of black sponge-tipped plastic bullets by Israeli forces.

Jerusalem residents Nour al-Din Mustafa, 13, and Tareq Mohammad, 15, suffered permanent eye loss after being hit with black sponge-tipped plastic bullets. Neither children was involved in confrontations at the time of injury.

Accountability is extremely rare in cases where Israeli forces are accused of committing crimes against Palestinian children. Israeli rights group Yesh Dinreported that of 186 internal investigations into Israeli soldiers accused of harming Palestinians in 2015, only 3.1 percent of cases yielded an indictment.

Among Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in recent years, only one incident, the fatal shooting of Nadeem Nawara, 17, in May 2014, has resulted in both an investigation and indictment.

Children in Israeli military custody

Between February and November, an average of 310 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system each month for “security offences,” according to Israel Prison Service (IPS) data. Among them were an average of 60 children between the ages of 12 and 15. The IPS does not release the yearly total number of incarcerated Palestinian children and has stopped consistently releasing monthly data since May 2016.

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights. Children within the Israeli military system commonly report physical and verbal abuse from the moment of their arrest, and coercion and threats during interrogations.

Large-scale demonstrations, marches and clashes throughout the West Bank following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to publicly recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December corresponded with a spike in the number of Palestinian child detainees.

Louay al-Mansi, a Palestinian prisoner in charge of juveniles at Israel’s Ofer military prison, told DCIP that some 78 children arrived in December, more than doubling the number of child detainees to be newly incarcerated in the military facility from the month before.

Among those held in Ofer was 16-year-old Fawzi J., detained in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on December 7. He told DCIP lawyer Farah Bayadsi that by the time he arrived to interrogation, one of his shoes had been kicked off and he had been repeatedly beaten and verbally abused for nearly two hours.

“When I arrived at the checkpoint, I remember my face bleeding, mostly my lips because of the beating. They took me to a room, knocked me down to the floor and began kicking me all over my body,” Fawzi said a sworn testimony.

Fawzi told DCIP lawyer Farah Bayadsi of the extreme pain in his right shoulder, prompting her to demand a medical check-up on December 25 that confirmed a fractured shoulder sustained during his arrest. Late on December 27, Fawzi was released on 10,000 shekels (around US$2,900) bail and a third-party bond in the same amount. DCIP filed a complaint over his ill-treatment while in Israeli military detention.

DCIP collected affidavits from 137 West Bank children detained and prosecuted under the jurisdiction of Israeli military courts in 2017. The data shows that 74.5 percent of children endured some form of physical violence following arrest and 62 percent were verbally abused, intimidated, or humiliated.

Of the 137 children, 26 were held in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes for an average period of 12 days. The longest period of isolation for a child that DCIP documented in 2017 was 23 days.

At least five Palestinian minors were placed in administrative detention in 2017, a form of imprisonment based on secret evidence without charge or trial. Of these, three were released without charge after a period of two to seven months, leaving two still in administrative detention at year’s end. Another teenager placed under administrative detention in August 2016 when 17 years old, spent his 18th month in prison without charge or trial.

Israel has placed a total of 25 Palestinian minors in administrative detentionsince October 2015 when it renewed the practice against individuals under the age of 18.

International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, demand that children should not be deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.

Children in Palestinian detention

Palestinian security forces in the West Bank exhibited patterns of abuse against Palestinian children detained in 2017.

DCIP investigation into child detentions by Palestinian security forces showed they carried out arbitrary detentions through a non-transparent process rife with rights violations, including the use of solitary confinement and torture.

DCIP obtained information on 16 West Bank children arbitrarily detained by Palestinian security services other than the police in 2017, all except four at the hands of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service.

In one of the cases DCIP documented, the Preventive Security Service held a 17-year-old from Nablus in solitary confinement for three days in September, interrupted by physically abusive interrogation sessions without the presence of a lawyer or family member.

“I could not bear to stay in that facility, and I was thinking of a way to put pressure on them to let me out,” the teenager told DCIP in a sworn testimony. “I found a small metal object on the window, and I used it to make several cuts on my left forearm.”

The interrogators accused the teenager of manufacturing a weapon and possessing a pistol. “They shouted at me and threatened to hit me,” the teenager told DCIP. “In one session, [one of the interrogators] slapped me around 20 times on my neck.”

After an estimated 70 hours in detention at the Preventive Security headquarters in Nablus, the teenager was released.

The Palestinian Authority is legally obligated to abide by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it ratified in 2014, and the Palestinian juvenile protection law passed in 2016.

While signing these safeguards indicated progress in Palestinian Authority’s treatment of children, violations documented by DCIP in 2017 indicate gaps in fully aligning domestic juvenile legal framework and its implementation with international standards.

The juvenile protection law was only implemented in the West Bank owing to the political division between the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority. Accordingly, Gazan children remain subject to the outdated British Juvenile Offenders Ordinance of 1938.

DCIP documentation showed that children in conflict with the law in the Gaza Strip are also at severe risk of rights violations and ill-treatment, including torture, during detention.

Based on six cases documented by DCIP in 2017, three children endured torture during police interrogations. A fourth child was reportedly physically abused by police station guards and adult prisoners with whom he was forced to share a cell, prompting the boy’s suicide attempt and resulting death on September 22.

Downward spiral in the Gaza Strip

While the Gaza Strip began the year already entrenched in a humanitarian crisis, 2017 brought new threats to children’s human rights, especially at the peak of the electricity crisis.

Political divisions between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, along with taxation disputes, contributed to a serious degradation in children’s right to health, including clean water and medical care.

The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority stopped payments for a portion of the Gaza Strip’s electricity supply, bringing electricity levels to an all time low. Electricity shortages decreased children’s access to basic and emergency care, also increasing wait times for specialized medical services and surgeries. Without power, children with illnesses and disabilities reliant on medical equipment struggled to charge and use their equipment.

Around the same period, the Palestinian Authority pulled funding from the Gaza Strip’s already decimated health sector and local news outlets reported 30 to 70 percent cuts to Gazan civil servant salaries.

Reconciliation efforts started in October between the rival factions reached an impasse at the end of the year. UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper said in a statement that “most of the measures adopted by the Palestinian Authority since March 2017, which triggered the latest deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, are yet to be reversed.”

During the course of  2017, both Israeli and Palestinian authorities prevented children from exiting Gaza for medical treatment by denying or delaying patients’ applications.

DCIP documented 12 Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip who died as a result of inadequate access to health care, including poor hospital conditions, low availability of specialized treatments, or as a result of being delayed or denied treatment abroad. Of this number, nine were infants and eight were less than two weeks old.

Six of the children who died received no response, were delayed, or denied medical referrals from the Ramallah-based Service Purchasing Unit (SPU), previously known as the Referral Abroad Department. Without this referral, patients cannot complete the process of applying for medical treatment outside of the Gaza Strip.

Two children, age 4 and 17, died after Israeli authorities delayed permission for children to exit the Gaza Strip through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing for medical treatment.

Children’s right to health also suffered because of a marked decrease in the availability of clean water. Nearly one million children living in the Gaza Strip are facing an acute disaster around water and sanitation standards, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

These deteriorating conditions took place against a backdrop of an already struggling health care system, caused in part by a decade of Israeli military blockade, joined by Egypt for much of that period, and repeated Israeli assaults.

Israel launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on a near-daily basis during the last three weeks of 2017 and Palestinian armed groups fired rockets from the Gaza Strip during escalations following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

School program reduces child recruitment risk

In a positive move for children’s rights in the Gaza Strip, government-run schools removed military-style drills from their Futuwwa, or youth, programs that focus on civics and health.

A DCIP 2014 investigation found strong links between the school-based Futuwwa program and highly attended winter camps hosted by Palestinian armed groups, which took place off school premises.

Following amendments to government school programs in 2017, neither the Futuwwa program nor the summer and winter camps appeared to constitute child recruitment under international standards. DCIP, however, remained deeply concerned at the potential of the program and the camps to serve as vehicles for future recruitment.

DCIP in 2017 found no evidence that children in the Gaza Strip were being used or recruited by Palestinian armed groups for any role in armed conflict, in the context of these programs. However, pervasive poverty keeps children vulnerable to recruitment and other forms of child labor.

Palestinian child bill gathers Congressional support

DCIP lead efforts to support the first-ever bill in U.S. Congress focused on Palestinian human rights, specifically grave human rights violations against Palestinian child detainees. The bill, titled Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act or H.R. 4391, prohibits U.S. financial assistance to Israel from being used to support the  ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children in military detention.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum on November 14, had 19 co-sponsors by year’s end. The aim is to establish, as a minimum safeguard, a U.S. demand for basic due process rights for Palestinian children under Israeli military detention. This extends to an absolute prohibition against the torture and ill-treatment of detained minors, in keeping with both U.S. and international law.

The bill falls in line with concerns long recorded by the U.S. Department of State. In March, for the 10th consecutive year, the annual report on Israel made note of the prevalence of ill-treatment toward Palestinian children and Israeli military courts’ denial of their fair trial rights.

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After the Palestinian resistance, it was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which drove this slow but steady tide against the racist state. Lebanese Sunni scholar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Zein, pointed out that it was Iran’s leader Imam Khomeini who ‘moved the focus onto Palestine, not out of hatred of Judaism but to safeguard human dignity, to safeguard justice, and in rejection of aggression, racism and extremism’. Since 1979, the Islamic Republic consistently elevated and championed the cause of Palestinian self-determination.

Despite decades of brutalizing assaults, Palestinian resistance to apartheid Israel has not disappeared. Indeed, in the middle of an apparently desperate situation, there are some rays of hope. One of those is Gaza.

In 2005 the Zionist state dismantled its colonies and withdrew from the Gaza strip. Ariel Sharon, a brutal Zionist leader who had led repeated attacks on Gaza, said the reason for Israeli withdrawal was ‘to grant Israeli citizens the maximum level of security’. The underlying reason was the unceasing resistance by the brave people of Gaza, ever since the late 1940s.

Since 2005 the crowded Palestinian territory has been subject to a prison-like blockade and repeated collective punishment assaults. The apartheid state, in several operations, slaughtered thousands. But the retreat from Gaza marked one boundary to the ethnic cleansing project of a ‘Greater Israel’.

The following year, encouraged by Washington’s imperious project of a ‘New Middle East’, Israel again invaded south Lebanon, attempting to disarm the Shia-Muslim party Hezbollah. That party was created precisely because of earlier Israeli invasions. Although Zionist forces were able to kill many, they also suffered serious losses and were forced to withdraw, failing to meet any of their objectives. So, the defeat of the 2006 invasion was a second ray of hope, imposing another limit on Zionist expansion.

According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” According to Rabbi Fischmann,  “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.”

In the subsequent decade, although some Lebanese territory is still annexed, Tel Aviv has been wary of adventurism on the Lebanese border. Unlike many western supporters of Israel, the Zionist state’s military leaders listen to and, in their own, way, respect the Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. They also know that Hezbollah is now better prepared and better armed than in 2006. Were it not for Hezbollah, south Lebanon would likely have joined the West Bank and the Golan Heights as yet another occupied territory.

We cannot ignore these achievements. Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that, since the 1980s, ‘the Zionist regime has not been able to transgress against new lands, it has also begun to retreat’. The Palestinian resistance has played the ‘major and determining role’ in these retreats, Ayatollah Khamenei says.

The role of Iran in leading a regional alliance that provides real support to the Palestinian resistance is a third ray of hope for the future of Palestine. The rise of Iran and the victories in Syria and Iraq against NATO-Saudi-Israeli terrorist proxies has strengthened this alliance.

Israeli leaders fear the defeat of DAESH, al Nusra and the other sectarian groups, at the hands of Syrian-Iraqi-Iranian forces. They know that this will lead to an empowered, Iran-led coalition on the border of occupied Palestine and occupied Syria. They fear, in particular, the liberation of the occupied Golan Heights, an operation for which Syria and its allies would have the full support of international law.

After the Palestinian resistance, it was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which drove this slow but steady tide against the racist state. Lebanese Sunni scholar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Zein, pointed out that it was Iran’s leader Imam Khomeini who ‘moved the focus onto Palestine, not out of hatred of Judaism but to safeguard human dignity, to safeguard justice, and in rejection of aggression, racism and extremism’. Since 1979, the Islamic Republic consistently elevated and championed the cause of Palestinian self-determination.

The large nation has paid money to Palestinian families of fallen resistance fighters, after they had their houses demolished in Israel’s collective punishment rampages. It has supported with training and weapons almost all the Palestinian militia, which resist the apartheid state; even including those groups linked to the anti-Shia Muslim Brotherhood. This is no ‘Shia Crescent’, as Palestinians are mainly Sunni Muslims.

Some Palestinians were recruited into sectarian project encouraged by Washington, Riyadh and Tel Aviv. However, the small group of Palestinian leaders who were misled into taking Qatari and Saudi money to join the war against Syria are now either in disgrace or are turning back to Iran.

The ‘Axis of Resistance’, a West Asian Alliance, brings together the Palestinian Resistance, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, the main real opposition to the apartheid state. They are what Israel fears. When that alliance is well consolidated, it will be a force capable of forcing Tel Aviv to the negotiating table. Washington and Tel Aviv know this; that is why they persist in attempts to divide and destabilize the region.

There are a substantial number of opportunists who claim to support the Palestinian people, yet oppose their strongest allies. They criticize Israel, seemingly in the name of a nicer, kinder apartheid state. They pretend to support the Palestinians, but only as passive victims. They deny their right to resist; and they ferociously attack Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. Many of us have come to call the western versions of these people ‘left-Zionists’.

These ‘left-Zionists’ spread their own corrosive myths about the Resistance. For example, during the Zionist attacks on Gaza they tried to make a moral equivalence between Israeli crimes and alleged ‘indiscriminate’ Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. In fact, we know from independent evidence (the UN and Israel itself, against its interest) that, during the 2014 assault on Gaza, more than 75% of the 1,088 Palestinians killed were civilians; while only 6% of the 51 deaths inside Occupied territories were of civilians. There is no moral equivalence, either in character or in ‘collateral damage’ terms, between the Zionist state’s ethnic cleansing and punitive assaults, and the resistance of the Palestinian people. Moral clarity on that issue deserves repetition.

The regional alliance in support of the Palestinian Resistance is one critical factor for the nation’s future; the other is the unity of the Palestinian people. In this respect, the unity talks between the different factions are crucial. It is well known from polls that Palestinians have low levels of confidence in the factions and their leaders, yet continue to express strong support for their national institutions. Divisions fuel that low morale. Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei says that the differences between groups was ‘natural and understandable’, but that ‘increasing cooperation and depth’ was necessary. Greater unity would build popular confidence, assist in focus and organization and allow new steps forward.

The future of Palestine is clouded with divisions, great pain and sacrifice, and fear of formidable enemies. Nevertheless, it is far from hopeless. There have been real gains in recent years. The Resistance has imposed limits on expansion of the colonial project, both in the north and the south. Attempts to smash and divide the ‘Axis of Resistance’ have failed and there are signs of an emerging and strengthened West Asian Alliance. Finally, the unity talks amongst Palestinian factions could breathe fresh resolve into a battered but brave and resilient people.

*

Professor Tim Anderson is a distinguished author and senior lecturer of political economy at the University of Sydney, Australia. Author of the ‘The Dirty War on Syria’, he has been largely published on various issues particularly the Syrian crisis. 


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The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance, by Tim Anderson

The Dirty War on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. In seeking ‘regime change’ the big powers sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies of ‘Islamists’, demonising the Syrian Government and constantly accusing it of atrocities. In this way Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a mild-mannered eye doctor, became the new evil in the world.

As western peoples we have been particularly deceived by this dirty war, reverting to our worst traditions of intervention, racial prejudice and poor reflection on our own histories. This book tries to tell its story while rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, ethical principle and the search for independent evidence.

Title: The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance

Author: Tim Anderson

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-8-4

Special Price: $15.00

Click the image above to order.

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stephenlendman.org 

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Turkey’s shelling, bombing and invasion of northern Syria has nothing to do with protecting its borders and national security.

Its aggression has everything to do with wanting territorial expansion, along with longstanding hostility toward the Kurds, including its own citizens, an estimated 14 million people, residing mainly in southeastern and eastern Anatolia.

On Sunday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis defended Turkish aggression in Syria, saying

“Turkey is a NATO ally.”

“It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns,” adding:

“Turkish was candid. (It’s) easy to understand” why it’s concerned about conflict in Syria spilling cross-border into its territory.

“They warned us before they launched the aircraft that they were going to do it. We are very alert to it. Our top levels are engaged and we’re working through it.”

Fact: Turkey threatens Syrian territory, not the other way around.

Fact: Throughout seven years of US aggression on Syria, Erdogan supported ISIS and other terrorist groups in the country, allied with Washington’s playbook, wanting Assad toppled and northern Syrian territory annexed.

  • No active insurgency exists in Turkey, a nation at war with its own Kurdish people, along with anyone challenging Erdogan’s despotic rule.
  • Throughout the war in Syria, no spillover into Turkish territory occurred. No threat of it exists.
  • Turkey is a NATO country with the second largest military force in the alliance after America’s.
  •  The Trump administration wants Erdogan allied with its imperial agenda against Russia. He’s an opportunist, playing the US and Russian cards at the same time, currently leaning more toward Moscow than Washington, why Mattis and other administration officials are concerned.

Russia is going along with Turkish aggression in northern Syria. Instead of condemning it, its Foreign Ministry urged restraint, an unacceptable response, Ankara taking full advantage.

NATO’s website has nothing about Turkey’s ongoing aggression, supporting it through silence.

Syria is the only nation strongly denouncing Ankara’s invasion and terror-bombing of its territory. It’s operation is expanding. Ankara announced a large-scale Menbeij offensive in the Aleppo governorate.

Heavily armed US-backed Kurdish YPG fighters control the area able to hit back hard against Turkish aggression. US forces are deployed nearby.

Fighting in the area hasn’t begun. Whatever its plans, Turkey’s military won’t attack areas near US positions.

The announced Menbeij offensive may be more bluster than reality. Washington’s acquiescence with Turkish aggression suggests a deal struck between both sides.

The same goes for Russia, failing to condemn what’s ongoing. Military chiefs from both countries met in Moscow before Turkish aggression began.

Without at least tacit approval from Moscow and Washington, Erdogan most likely wouldn’t have launched his latest aggression in northern Syria.

Ankara’s Prime Ministry office of Public Diplomacy issued a statement, saying its military aims to take control of a 10,000 square km area in northern Syria, including Afrin.

Claiming it’s to secure its borders from a terrorist threat is utter rubbish. Erdogan supports terrorists in Syria.

He wants northern Syrian territory annexed, seizing and maintaining control over as much as possible.

He’s pursuing his objective with virtually no opposition from Washington and Moscow – other than meaningless tepid rhetoric.

He heads Turkey’s Justice and Development Party. His main opposition Republican People’s Party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and recently formed IYI (Good) Party all lent support to his northern Syria aggression.

He’s free to do what he pleases, flagrantly violating international law, the world community largely turning a blind eye to what demands condemnation.

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

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.”

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It’s official: as of midnight Saturday, the US government has shut down following a failure in the Senate to strike a funding deal. Government funding was due to run out after Dec. 8 but was twice extended, most recently through Jan. 19, at which point the US encountered what’s officially called a “spending gap,” which triggers an official halt to Washington’s work.

In retrospect, this is hardly a novel development, as history shows there have been 18 previous closures starting in 1976, with the last one taking place in September 2013. Almost all of the funding gaps occurred between FY1977 and FY1995. During this 19-fiscal-year period, 15 funding gaps occurred.

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Additionally, seven of the funding gaps commenced with the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1. The remaining 11 funding gaps occurred at least more than one day after the fiscal year had begun. Ten of the funding gaps ended in October, four ended in November, three ended in December, and one ended in January.

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According to the CRO, funding gaps have ranged in duration from one to 21 full days, with six of the eight lengthiest funding gaps, lasting between eight days and 17 days, occurred between FY1977 and FY1980—before the Civiletti opinions were issued in 1980 and early 1981. After the issuance of these opinions, the duration of funding gaps in general shortened considerably, typically ranging from one day to three days. Of these, most occurred over a weekend.

* * *

So now that the US government is taking some time off for only the second time this century, here is a summary of what actually is shut down until the funding gap is closed, courtesy of Bloomberg.

1. What happens if the government shuts down?

Many, though not all, federal government functions are frozen, and many, though not all, federal employees are furloughed. Agencies in the executive branch, the one with the largest workforce and budget, regularly review shutdown plans that spell out what work must continue, and how many employees will be retained, during a “short” lapse (one to five days) and one that lasts longer.

2. Which government functions cease?  

The ones that draw headlines are closures of national parks, monuments and the Smithsonian museums in Washington. Other activities that may stop if the shutdown lasts more than a few days include the processing of applications for passports and visas; new enrollments in experimental treatments under the National Institutes for Health; and the maintenance of U.S. government websites, including ones used by businesses and researchers. Mortgage approvals can be delayed by furloughs at the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Housing Administration. The last shutdown, which lasted 16 days in 2013, delayed release of Labor Department monthly employment reports, Commerce Department data on retail sales and housing starts and a monthly Fed report on industrial production that uses Labor Department data. Also delayed was approval of drilling applications at the Bureau of Land Management, consideration of applications for small business loans and the start of the Alaska crab season, which relies on harvest levels apportioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A breakdown by organization:

The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, will send home more than 83 percent of its 88,268 workers.

  • About 1,000 employees will stay in place to manage debt, monitor domestic and international financial markets and policy coordination. Another 2,800 workers are exempt from the shutdown to avoid any disruptions with debt borrowing functions, debt collection, investment, debt accounting and Social Security disbursements.
  • At the IRS, tax refunds could take longer, depending how long the shutdown lasts. The agency lists work related to issuing refunds among tasks that won’t be excepted from the shutdown. But it wasn’t expecting to begin accepting 2017 tax returns until Jan. 29.
  • Other IRS functions to be suspended include audits, non-automated collections and processing 1040X amended returns, according to a contingency plan dated Jan. 17. (A more detailed list can be found here.)

White House

The Executive Office of the President will be dramatically pared down, according to a memo released on Friday night.

  • The memo called for reducing the total number of workers in the office to 659, out of about 1,715 people on staff.
  • The White House Office, a subset of the executive office that includes many of the functions closest to the president’s decision making, will be cut from 371 staffers to just 152.
  • Twenty-one people will remain at the Executive Residence, as well as one person at the vice president’s residence.
  • Fourteen staffers will be working at the Office of the Vice President, from 16.
  • The National Security Council will retain all but one of its 45 staffers.
  • Eight people will remain at the Council of Economic Advisers, from 24.

Securities and Exchange Commission

Operations at the Securities and Exchange Commission are set to be sharply curtailed.

  • Despite collecting fees from participants in the markets it regulates, Wall Street’s main regulator will shrink its staff to about 300 employees from almost 4,600, according to an agency plan posted in December.
  • The SEC plans to keep operating its Edgar corporate-filing system. But it won’t approve registrations for investment advisers, issue interpretive guidance, or review many pending applications or registrations for new financial products.
  • The commission will continue to deal with emergency enforcement actions like temporary restraining orders against accused market cheats. And it will continue to monitor its system for tips, complaints and referrals and operate its information systems, according to the plan.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission,

At the country’s main swaps regulator, the vast majority of activity will likewise grind to a halt.

  • Under a plan submitted to the White House on Friday, just 69 essential employees will remain on the job to try to ensure “to the extent practicable, the oversight of the derivatives markets and to police those markets to ensure they are free of fraud and manipulation.”
  • Still, the “vast bulk” of work by the commission will cease, according to the plan. For example, the agency’s enforcement division will stop reviewing and investigating new victim complaints, or taking new actions against violators. Much market oversight activities will also cease.

Business and Economy

The shutdown is likely to postpone the release of market-moving economic data, depending how long it continues.

  • In 2013, the Labor Department’s monthly employment report for September was delayed by 18 days, while the release of October figures was pushed back a week.
  • Department of Commerce data were also delayed, including retail sales and housing starts, along with industrial-production figures from the Federal Reserve.
  • The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which publishes data important to livestock and crop traders, won’t be releasing any reports on any day the government is shut down, according to department spokesman Damon Thompson.
  • For the central bank’s functions that aren’t related to economic data, it’s likely to be business as usual, since the Fed doesn’t rely on money appropriated by Congress to operate. That means checks will still be cleared and FedWire, used by the financial industry for large, time-sensitive credit payments, will continue to run.
  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which relies on user fees and doesn’t get tax dollars, said it has enough money to remain open “for a few weeks” to process the hundreds of thousands of applications for patents on new inventions or trademarks for new products.
  • The Federal Communications Commission has funds to remain open through Jan. 26, spokesman Brian Hart said in an email. During the 2013 shutdown, the agency stopped accepting filings and ceased certifying that new electronic devices don’t cause interference.
  • Farm Service Agency offices in rural counties nationwide will be closed, and federal farm payments won’t be processed, according to the Agriculture Department.

Workplace Safety & Labor

Many programs at the Department of Labor designed to help workers will stop. Other federal offices designed to protect workers’ rights will also close their doors.

  • The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces contractors’ compliance with labor and civil rights laws, will cease operations.
  • The Trade Adjustment Assistance Program will stop processing new requests for assistance from workers who’ve lost their jobs to competition or offshoring.
  • The National Labor Relations Board will stop handling cases.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces workplace civil rights laws, will cease investigating charges and answering questions from the public.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will send home three-quarters of its staff, and suspend most workplace safety inspections. Some exceptions will be made, such as investigating “imminent danger situations,” addressing first responders’ warnings of “high risk of death” and following up on “high-gravity serious violations.”

Law Enforcement & Courts

The law exempts from the shutdown those employees who are deemed necessary to protect life or property. Most types of law enforcement and criminal justice fit into that category.

  • About 83 percent of the Justice Department’s 115,000 employees will continue to report to work if the government shuts down, according to the department’s contingency plan. Criminal litigation will continue without interruption; non-essential civil litigation is to be curtailed or postponed.
  • The Federal Trade Commission will suspend antitrust investigations not related to mergers. Merger reviews by the FTC and the Justice Department will continue. The agencies say they will go to court to challenge deals if necessary.
  • Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have enough money from sources like fines and filing fees to continue most operations through Feb. 9, according to Jackie Koszczuk, a spokeswoman with the Administrative Office of the Courts.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will remain largely unaffected, with 87 percent of its 232,860 employees deemed exempt from the shutdown. The department includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard and the Secret Service.

National Security & Foreign Affairs

  • At the Defense Department, military personnel are expected to report for duty, but won’t get paid until the shutdown ends. As for civilian workers, those performing activities excepted from the shutdown, such as protecting property or lives or supporting combat operations, will likewise have to work; the rest can stay home. That doesn’t mean the department isn’t affected.
  • A shutdown can mean halting maintenance of weapons and other defense systems. Payments also stop for a range of services, including everything from money to contractors to death benefits for families of those killed in the line of duty.
  • Another casualty of a shutdown: at military bases around the country, so-called commissaries — what civilians might call grocery stores — will shut down, a complication for families at remote locations, according to Rebecca Grant, a military analyst and president of IRIS Independent Research in Washington.

The effects of a shutdown on foreign and trade policy may be minimal.

  • The State Department issued guidance on Friday saying that passport and visa services, as well as other agency functions, will stay open until the money runs out. Many bureaus in the department have reserves because they’re funded every few years or with money that can be saved indefinitely rather than spent within a year.
  • “The department will continue as many normal operations as possible,” said the guidance, posted on the State Department website. “Operating status and available funding will need to be monitored continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be continued.”
  • The State Department says no new travel or “representational events” should be arranged. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hasn’t decided yet on whether to cancel a trip to Europe planned for next week.
  • A shutdown is unlikely to affect U.S. involvement in talks next week in Montreal on a new North American Free Trade Agreement, since negotiators from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office would be designated as essential staff.

Health

About half the staff at the Department of Health and Human Services will be furloughed, according to a plan posted on the department’s website Friday. The resulting changes will reverberate across a range of functions that affect the average person.

  • The Food and Drug Administration will be “unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities,” according to the shutdown plan. It will also stop conducting “routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports” and other programs.
  • The Centers for Disease Control said its “immediate response to urgent disease outbreaks, including seasonal influenza, would continue.” It added that it would be “unable to support most non-communicable disease prevention programs.”
  • The National Institutes of Health, which typically treats only those people for whom standard treatments don’t work, will stop admitting most new patients.
  • Food-safety inspections and other critical functions will continue at the Department of Agriculture.
  • Federally mandated nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and school-feeding initiatives, will continue, but the Women, Infants and Children program and other assistance from the discretionary budget may be in danger of running out of funds.

* * *

3. Which government functions continue?

Activities related to national security (like the military services), safety and order (air traffic control, law enforcement) and medical care (veterans’ hospitals) are among the essential activities that carry on. So does the U.S. mail, since the Postal Service has its own funding stream. U.S. Treasury debt auctions continue, Social Security and Medicare checks get mailed, food stamps are distributed. Federal courts are open but their work is subject to disruption.

4. How many federal employees stay home?

In the 2013 shutdown, the number of executive-branch employees who were furloughed on a given day peaked at 850,000, or about 40 percent of the workforce.

5. Do federal employees get paid?

Eventually. When a shutdown happens, most federal employees — there are about 2.8 million of them now — are placed on unpaid furlough. Though there “appears to be no guarantee” that they will eventually be paid, in practice they always have been, retroactively, via legislation passed by Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service.

6. How often does this happen?

There have been 12 shutdowns since 1981, ranging in duration from a single day to 21 days, according to the Congressional Research Service. The 21-day one, in December 1995 and January 1996, was a famous budget showdown that pitted President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and the Republican House speaker, Newt Gingrich. Shutdowns over budget disagreements are different (and less grave) than what would happen if the U.S. breached its debt ceiling and defaulted on some of its obligations. That’s never happened — though its specter, too, will grow if Congress doesn’t reach a budget deal in the next several weeks.

7. What happened prior to 1981?

Until then, “funding gaps” didn’t result in shutdowns; agencies operated mostly as normal, and their expenses were covered retroactively once a deal was reached. Benjamin Civiletti, attorney general under President Jimmy Carter, put an end to that. With legal opinions issued in 1980 and 1981, he established that government work generally must cease until Congress agrees to pay for it. His rulings were codified in the Antideficiency Act, which, in theory at least, authorizes fines or prison terms to federal employees who dare work for free during a shutdown.

8. How Do Markets React

Markets have tended to shrug off shutdowns as long as the debt limit is not involved. The 1995, 1995-96, and 2013 government shutdowns had a modest effect on financial markets. The dollar weakened slightly in all three cases in the few days following each shutdown, with a further leg down in 2013 as the debt limit deadline approached. Treasury yields did not react meaningfully at the start of these shutdowns. The equity market reaction was inconsistent, with a slight decline in the early days of the December 1995 and October 2013 episodes, but no real change around the November 1995 shutdowns.

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This time around, the debt limit deadline is around six weeks away from the Treasury’s target, and even farther from our own estimate, so unless the shutdown lasts for over a month, the market should largely ignore it.

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How many people did it take to waste this life, starting with himself?

Green Mountain homeboy Nathan Giffin was 32, white, and holding a BB pistol at his side when multiple police shot him multiple times outside the Montpelier High School he had once attended. Reportedly, Giffin had admitted addictions to cocaine and heroin, and maybe he even had an intent to die from suicide by cop. If so, he succeeded. Nine Vermont police officers pumped him full of bullets, dropping him on the spot as he stood passively at the far end of a football field after almost an hour standoff.

How is this not an extrajudicial execution that never should have happened?

The video of the shooting is clear. Giffin appears distracted, uncertain, he takes three slow steps forward, one backwards, then four to his left. Then he drops. This is a full-on shooting of a wandering young man by a disorderly firing squad that continues shooting for about three seconds after Giffin is down, mortally wounded.

Police handcuff him on the ground, but the video does not show anyone administering medical attention. Giffin died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, where he was declared dead.

Before releasing the victim’s name, police released information about his criminal record dating back to 2002, when Giffin was 17. It is unclear whether he was known to any of the cops who killed him.

This was Tuesday morning, January 16. According to reports, at about 9:30 Giffin used his realistic-looking BB pistol to hold up a State Employees Credit Union. He fired no shots and no one was hurt. He fled the bank on foot, crossing the street onto the grounds of the high school, which was in session. Somehow (it’s not clear how) police cornered Giffin on the bleachers of the fenced-in athletic field at the school. The school went on lockdown. Details of the standoff with the police are few. The “crisis negotiation team” was there, but there are no reports of any negotiation or other meaningful communication with Giffin. Police say that he made both threatening and suicidal statements, and that he ignored orders to surrender his gun. A witness quoted police taunting Giffin: “You going to run away now?” Somehow police were unable to avoid killing a defenseless drug addict who posed no serious threat, all of which they could have known in time. Students in the school reportedly took pictures of the killing as it unfolded.

Giffin’s BB pistol, a Umarex 40XP, looked quite real, apparently. Maj. Glenn Hall of the Vermont State Police rationalized the killing of a non-threatening man who hadn’t fired a shot this way:

I certainly can’t rationalize why someone would do this, I don’t know if there is an explanation, but certainly if you want people to believe that you have a real gun, this is as close as you can get… They look real. It would be literally impossible for anyone to tell it’s not real, from a distance certainly, and even sometimes up close.

Hall added that he didn’t even know whether the BB pistol was loaded. Asked why the nine officers chose to shoot Giffin, Hall said he had no clue, although he put it this way:

“The reason that those officers choose to use deadly force are all part of the investigation. Investigators will want to hear from them, what led them to use deadly force.”

Nine police officers with a single reflexive thought? Are they trained that way?

A nurse who knew Giffin when he was younger and hung out with her daughters recalled him as “a sweet kid with a rough life.” She said that Giffin as a high schooler was a regular at her house and his nickname was “Milhouse,” after a character in the Simpsons.

He was very kind and respectful to me, and grateful to be able to spend time at our house with our family…. The kids group was kind of like an extended family for themselves as well. It’s a challenging time in a person’s life to be in your teens, so it kind of reminded me of ‘The Breakfast Club’ a little bit…. We’re all heartbroken. Obviously, a lot happened between high school and now, but the person that we knew was a lovely guy…. He was kind of like adorably goofy, and he had glasses, and in little ways he did look like Milhouse….I know that whatever was going on, he was struggling and suffering, and I will wait to see what the police investigation uncovers about him being shot by nine police officers.

Although she hadn’t seen him for more than ten years, the nurse said her daughter also remembered Giffin as “a very sweet soul who was very caring.”

(photo: Nathan Griffin. Police photo.)

former 2003 classmate remembered Giffin similarly:

“He was a great kid all the way through school. He was very friendly, very upbeat, very funny – funny to be around.”

As reported by police, Giffin’s criminal record includes convictions for cocaine possession, theft, burglary, and armed bank robbery (state and federal), but no violent crimes. He was sentenced to two years for the federal bank hold-up. He was most recently arrested for Christmas day burglaries. In a police affidavit after his arrest, Giffin said he was “sick of living like this.” He was to appear in court on those charges two days after he died. That court appearance had been delayed to allow Giffin to get drug treatment.

The nine police officers who shot or shot at Giffin are on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.

Two of the nine officers have been through this before. Sgt. Lyle Decker and Trooper Christopher Brown were among five officers who shot and killed another 32-year-old man with a realistic-looking BB pistol in Poultney, Vermont, last summer. The crisis negotiation team was also there. Even though the perceived threat turned out not to be actual, the officers were cleared of wrongdoing in the case where the man, an accused wife-beater, was pointing the BB pistol down at them from a second story window. After an investigation, the state’s attorney ruled that the killing was justifiable homicide under the law and the officers’ decision to use deadly force was reasonable.

Giffin’s life and death appears to be a years-long personal and social failure. The challenge to society is to figure out how to care for a damaged child before he drops out of high school, becomes a drug addict, a criminal, a convict, with less and less chance of recovery until he is publicly executed.

It’s small consolation that no police officers or others were physically hurt in this cultural crime.

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William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

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As the Carillion crisis unfolds the numbers continue to confirm that for decades, companies, privatisation and extreme capitalism have failed in their basic business responsibilities and ends up threatening just about every strand of public life one way or another. In the meantime, tens of thousands of jobs are also threatened, the pension fund will need bailing out and dozens of infrastructure projects are thrown into question.

This is just one of a number of corporate failures that lies at the door of government of all tribes. With just £29 million left in cash to service over £2 thousand million worth of debt, the failure of this company only goes to demonstrate just how reckless and incompetent this model of never-ending growth, dividend payouts and exorbitant pay for senior staff gets, because it all ends in foolish risk taking – at all costs.

The examples of this unfolding scandal continues to take away the breath of normal sane people.

This is Money has just reported that:

“The company’s demise leaves thousands of small firms it owes money to facing heavy losses. It is feared up to 30,000 businesses may be facing losses totalling up to £1billion. But small companies may get less than a penny back for every pound they are owed, according to a report by accountant EY. “Smaller firms and the self-employed are likely to bear the brunt of this crisis while the corporate giants involved in this sorry saga are unlikely to pay up” – Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.

The Times (paywall) also reports that:

One decorating firm said its workers had been turned away from the site of Google’s £1 billion headquarters in King’s Cross, London, and told they could not retrieve their tools. Builders working on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, constructed under a private finance deal involving Carillion, were told they had been sacked and the gates to the site were locked.”

The Canary reports another dismal circumstance of out-of-control government hell bent on extreme neoliberal capitalism: “It has emerged that the boss of the collapsed public sector contractor Carillion also heads up a tax-avoiding fracking company. And like Carillion, the firm is in financial trouble, with the government at one point threatening to dissolve it.” The Canary went on to say that: “The group has identified that Keith Cochrane, Carillion’s interim Chief Executive, is also the Non-Executive Chairman of Third Energy. He was appointed on 4 September 2017, less than two months after Carillion made him its interim Chief Executive when it issued its first profit warning.

The Mirror Reports other impacts we are unlikely to hear much about – the personal stories of those whose hard work and endeavor will be crushed:

Two war heroes are facing financial ruin after becoming the latest victims of the Carillion collapse. Former soldiers Josh Lee and James Crisp took just four years to build up £1.3million-a-year Larc Construction. But they have lost more than £200,000 over Carillion’s failure, forcing them to lay off 15 workers including ex-comrades.

And all of that was going on when it’s previous boss Richard Howson joined the board of a major Scottish oil company called Wood, formally the Wood Group, in the wake of the construction firm’s profit warnings earlier in the year. Ironically, he served on the board’s business ethics committee. Wood Group changed its name to Wood in October last year following a £2.2bn merger with Amec Foster Wheeler.

Wood announced in 2017 that it won a contract as sole supplier of inspection qualification services to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and there are many reports that Howson is still a director of this company. However, he resigned (quite probably pushed) three days ago as his toxic legacy and the scandal with Carillion continues to implode with great political embarrassment to the Conservative party ethos of privatisation, which has yet again proved to be a failure to the public interest.

As TruePublica reported a few days ago, the vultures were already overhead as far back as 2015. Hedge funds had been waiting to cash in on Carillion’s collapse and ended up raking in hundreds of millions from the debacle. “Marshall Wace – whose co-founder Sir Ian Marshall was a major leave backer in the Brexit campaign – was the biggest winner as Carillion’s shares tumbled last July after a profit warning. Its bet made a tidy profit on paper of £19.1 million pounds in just three days.”

We went further to say that the writing was on the wall and yet the government stood and watched this collapse. The hedge funds did not stand by:

“Another big winner is the US-based investment giant BlackRock – which recently hired former chancellor George Osborne on a salary of £650,000 for one day a week – the world’s biggest fund manager made over £16 million across its funds. Other UK hedge funds that have coined it from Carillion’s decline include Thunderbird Partners which profited to the tune of £14.5 and Immersion Capital which stood to make over £11.4 million.

In all, hedge funds have made around £300 million from the debacle since spotting that the Government contractor was in trouble as early as 2015.”

It is needless to say that there is more to come with this crisis.

*

Featured image is from TruePublica.

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Trump’s National Defense Strategy

January 22nd, 2018 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

On Friday at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Defense Secretary Mattis explained the Trump administration’s imperial project – its aim for global dominance.

America’s phony war on terrorism will continue, cover for its global war OF terrorism on humanity at home and abroad.

“(G)reat power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of US national security,” said Mattis – at a time when the nation’s only threats are invented ones.

“This strategy is fit for our time, providing the American people the military required to protect our way of life, stand with our allies and live up to our responsibility to pass intact to the next generation those freedoms we enjoy today,” he roared.

US militarism, belligerence and permanent war agenda threaten world peace, stability and security. That’s what “our way of life” is all about, along with serving America’s privileged class exclusively at the expense of peace, equity and justice.

Post-9/11, the nation’s “freedoms” eroded greatly on the fabricated pretext of protecting national security, including waging phony war on terrorism America created and supports.

Its reckless agenda is humanity’s greatest threat. Its National Defense Strategy is all about offense, waging endless wars of aggression, targeting all sovereign independent countries for regime change, wanting US control over planet earth, its resources and populations.

Washington seeks imposition of authoritarian rule over all nations, partnering with NATO, Israel and other rogue allies – not Russia and China, as Mattis falsely claimed.

Trump’s National Defense Strategy calls for greater military spending than already. Mattis explained it, saying

“(o)ur competitive edge in every domain of warfare – air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace – is eroding,” adding:

“To those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy: if you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day.”

No nations can challenge what doesn’t exist. America is a plutocracy, not a democracy, run by and for its corporate interests and super-rich – presidents, Congress and the courts serving them, media scoundrels supporting them.

Mattis lied claiming North Korea and Iran “threaten regional and even global stability” – a US imperial threat, its agenda risking catastrophic nuclear war, threatening life on earth if launched.

Russia and China aren’t “revisionist” powers. They don’t threaten their neighbors or any other countries. Nor do they wage wars of aggression like America.

US economic policies are “predatory,” not China’s. Like Russia, it seeks cooperative relations with other nations. America’s agenda seeks dominance, naked aggression its favored strategy.

No Russian adventurism exists, a US specialty. Moscow isn’t “undermining the international order from within the system by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously undercutting its principles and ‘rules of the road.’ “

Washington wants the exclusive right to stipulate rules it demands all other nations obey.

“We are going to build a more lethal force…We will strengthen traditional alliances while building new partnerships with other nations,” Mattis roared, part of Washington’s rage for endless wars.

“We will develop enduring coalitions to consolidate gains we have made in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, to support the lasting defeat of terrorists as we sever their sources of strength and counterbalance Iran,” the defense strategy document said.

Washington created and supports ISIS and likeminded terrorist groups, using them as imperial foot soldiers in current US war theaters and others to come.

Trump’s National Defense Strategy, his National Security Strategy, and Nuclear Posture Review are all about advancing America’s imperium – the greatest ever threat to life on earth.

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

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.”

A Genuine Actor: Francesco Serpico

January 22nd, 2018 by Edward Curtin

“There are unconscious actors among them and involuntary actors; the genuine are always rare, especially genuine actors.” – Friedrick Nietzche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

“Any artist [person] who goes in for being famous in our society must know that it is not he who will become famous, but someone else under his name, someone who will eventually escape him and perhaps someday will kill the true artist [person] in him.” – Albert Camus, “Create Dangerously”

“It ain’t me you’re lookin for, babe.” – Bob Dylan, It Ain’t Me, Babe

Enter

The set was real but illusionary: A legendary old New England hotel dressed festively for Christmas and the holiday season.  Norman Rockwell’s magical realism.  The lobby full with merriment, the cozy fire dancing to the sweet sound of violin and piano Christmas music mixed with a subtle alcoholic fragrance.  Main Street U.S.A.  Snow on the street and the classic strains of “White Christmas” in the inner air.  A mythic setting for meeting a legendary actor.

But as I entered the dimly lit set, the legend was nowhere to be seen.  I approached the spot where the musicians were playing and didn’t see him in the room opposite.  Then, as I was greeting two actors with bit parts that I knew (unconscious actors, I should add), out of the shadows came a laughing Russian spy obviously dressed as a Russian spy, one red star on his hat, walking stick in hand.  He and I were there to have a drink and enjoy the music that would allow us to talk privately without being overheard.  A few hours earlier he had sent me a strange message from Epicurus:  “It is impossible to lead a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living pleasantly (‘justly’ meaning to prevent a person from harming or being harmed by another).”

What did this cryptic message mean?   The day before I had met a leading expert on the CIA on the same set and we had discussed the criminal activities of the Agency, how they dissembled and lied in their self-declared mission to defeat communism everywhere, even where it didn’t exist.  Those people were great at creating false myths, counter-myths, and Hollywood/media narratives to discombobulate a public already lost in an entertainment culture.  Now I was meeting this crazy Russian whom I heard say to some passing actors that he was a communist, and then he said something in Latin that totally perplexed them, which made him laugh.  A woman approached him and said she liked his hat.  Again he replied in Latin with a Russian accent and her face dropped.  Then we all laughed. She blushed, the scent of flirtation in the badinage. Was this guy serious or a comic having fun?

Off to the bar he and I went for some vino, wisecracks spewing from the mad Russian’s mouth. Heads turned to watch our passage, for even on this movie set, his costume stood out.

The True Man

As we settled in a corner with our drinks,a joyous warmth enveloped us.  Play-acting was fun.  Francesco was good at it.  Here in the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, no one took him for the legendary New York City Detective, Frank Serpico, shot in the face for being a whistleblower before the word became commonplace, and made mythic through the 1973 movie, Serpico.  To the people surrounding us, he was just an amusing guy in an interesting hat, a man having fun with a buddy.

At a round table in front of the chairs we were sitting in, a group of six middle-aged adults sat playing cards. They were not conversing. Frank mentioned that they reminded him of those pictures of dogs playing cards.  He got up and asked them if they were playing for high stakes.  They laughingly said no, just for amusement.  And what game were they playing? I asked.  A children’s game, the woman said. It was a perfect scene from a spoof, and Frank whispered to me, “The masses are deluded with TV, Hollywood, and children’s games.  Let’s bark.”

“Become who you are,” advised Nietzsche.  Frank had done that; had always done it, despite decades of having to escape the mythic maskedman Hollywood had made of him when Al Pacino played him in 1973, creating the legendary persona behind which the real person is expected to disappear, held hostage by the mask.   While all persons are, by definition, masked, the word person being derived from the Latin, persona, meaning mask, there are those who are nothing but masks – hollow inside.  Empty.  No one home.  Unconscious and involuntary actors living out a script written by someone else.  Not Frank Serpico.He has consistently been an unmasker, a truth-teller exposing the fraud that is so endemic in this society of illusions and delusions where lying is the norm.

The Lone Ranger

Frank Serpico (2017)

Frank has always understood masks. When he was an undercover cop, he used his play acting skills to save his life.  In the recent documentary film, “Frank Serpico,” directed by Antonino D’Ambrosio, he says he told himself: “You’re going on the stage tonight.  The audience is out there.  I told myself I was an actor and I had to sell my role.  I got my training in the streets of New York where I played many roles from a doctor to a derelict and how well I played those roles my life depended on it.” His acting skills were his protection, but these acts were performed in the service of protecting the citizens he had vowed to protect.  Genuine acts.

Shakespeare was right, of course, “all the world’s a stage,” though I would disagree with the bard that we are “merely” players.  It does often seem that way, but seeming is the essence of the actor’s show and tell.  But who are we behind the masks?  Who is it uttering those words coming through the masks’ mouth holes (the per-sona, Latin, to sound through).  In Frank’s case, the real man is not hard to find.  Never was. From a young age he was incorruptible.  When he became a cop and took his oath, he was the same honest guy, though not fully aware of the dishonesty that pervades society at all levels.

When this honest cop was lying in a pool of his own blood on the night of February 3, 1971, having been shot in the face in a set-up carried out by fellow cops, Frank Serpico heard a voice that said, “It’s all a lie.”  In that moment as he fought for his life, he realized a truth he had previously sensed but never fully grasped in its awful reality.  His honesty, his refusal to be a corrupt cop like so many others, his allegiance to the sacred oath he took when he became a police officer, was returned with a violent snarl by the liars he walked among.  And in that moment he was determined to live and return their lies with more truth, which he did in his subsequent eloquent testimony to the Knapp Commission that was investigating police corruption in the New York Police Department because of him.

The After Life

Al Pacino in Serpico (1973)

But then came the rest of his life, not a small thing.  Lionized and damned as a “rat” by many cops recreated through the superb actor’s mask of Al Pacino in the film Serpico, his legend was created by the celebrity machine.  His truth was turned into a Hollywood myth; a true American hero became a cool movie star.  But unlike a movie actor or entertainer, he was still Frankie the honest boy who became an honest cop, and he wanted to become who he was, not an actor playing someone else.

Police work was his “calling,” he told me.  It is a word with deep religious roots.  A vocation (Latin, vocare, to call).  The mythographer Joseph Campbell has written eloquently of “the call” in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  When one is called by this mysterious voice that many call God, this call to adventure and authenticity – the hero’s way, he terms it – one is faced with a choice whether to accept or refuse.  Campbell writes:

[It]signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown.  This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight.

From the start of his police work, Frank sensed he was moving in “a zone unknown” and danger lurked along the way, but he had accepted the call.  Like the heroes in all the authentic myths, he could not be sure where it was all leading.  He came to realize that it led to the depths of hell, the frightening underworld through which the hero must transit or perish.The dark night of the soul.  A near death experience at the hands of the monsters.  Unimaginable torments.

Let Me Be Frank

But dawn broke slowly, the same rosy-fingered dawn that greeted Odysseus as he contemplated the next step on his journey “home” from the war zone. So Frank left home, set sail for Europe, and although a wounded warrior, he took up the rest of his life.  “Some may say I’m full of it,” he said to me, “but my life has been like a serendipitous dream, one scene after another.”  This may surprise those who think of him only as Frank Serpico, the heroic and honest cop.  But that was a role he played, something he did, not who he was. He has led a colorful, exciting, and adventurous life, but not because of the movie and book about his cop’s life.  His name Frank, after all, means a free man, and Frank is the epitome of a free-spirited soul, always trying to escape others’ definitions of him.  Sitting with our wine amid the music, he said:

I wanted to be who I was before the shooting.  Back then I knew more people and they knew me.  Friends.  Afterwards they made me into their own image. They were looking for perfection, but I wasn’t perfect.  So I became more guarded and felt I was living under a microscope.  Even among friends, if we were playing a game in which you could make up things, like a word game, and pretend just for fun, and I did it like them, they would look at me as if I couldn’t, that if I did, I was betraying myself as the honest cop.  I had become the legendary honest cop to them, not Frank, a guy who had lived up to his oath to be an honest cop, but who was also a regular person, not a celebrity.  So I’ve had to deal with people being drawn to me because they think I’m a celebrity.  I’m not an actor.  I’m the real thing.

I was drawn to him because I sensed he was a compañero, similar to old, authentic friends I had grown up with in the Bronx.  Guys with consciences, not crooks.  Friends who could laugh and joke around.  From our first meeting we connected: each of us dressed in individual camouflage – he, the bearded, aging Village hippie, concealing a conscience-stricken Italian-American kid from Brooklyn; me, sporting the look of an Irish-American something from the Bronx, concealing a conscience-stricken radical thinker and writer.  Birds of a feather under different plumage, costumes concealing our true identities.  Real play acting.

And then there was that Catholic thing.Both of us products of New York Catholic families and schools.  Thus conscience does not necessarily make cowards of us all. It also calls to us be honest, brave, and frank, despite the corruption of religious institutions.  Nietzsche again:  “‘Christianity’ has become something fundamentally different from what its founder did and desired….What did Christ deny?  Everything that is today called Christian.”  Frank hated school, and when he attended St. Francis Prep he was beaten by a religious Brother.  Then, when this teacher died and was being waked, Frank looked at him in the coffin and found himself, to his own amazement, crying for the man.  “That’s how deep it goes into you,” he said to me, “you end up crying for your tormentor.”  And while I understood his point of criticism that a corrupt society reaches into the cradle to poison us from the start, I thought there was more to it, some deep human empathy in that boy’s soul.  In the man’s.  Like Nietzsche, I sense in Frank a Romantic at heart.  He once wrote a poem in which he said:

I was taught religion and all about race
I was taught so well I felt out of place

But now I am a man and have no one to blame
So I must forget words like guilty, stupid, and shame.

And with the help of my soul I’ll remember the way
And get back where I was on that very first day.

Then he added in prose:

“The God I believe in is not just my God, but the God of all beings no matter what language they speak….I have no use for man-made religion….They profane the name of Christ but none follow in his footsteps save a few perhaps like St Francis and even Vincent Van Gogh.”

The few: St. Francis and Van Gogh.  Telling choices.  The wounded artist with a primal sympathy for the poor and the saint who drew animals to him out of love for all beings.  St. Francis Prep where Frank was first wounded by a sadist, a sign of things to come.  And later, the lover of nature who lives in the country and feeds birds that eat out of his hands.  The man who has written a beautiful essay about Henry David Thoreau.  And the artist/genuine actor who writes, plays musical instruments, has acted in theatre, is producing a  film about former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, another maverick who has also come in for severe criticism.

The Lying Rats

“What has been your reaction over the years to having been harshly criticized as a “rat” by so many N.Y. cops?” I asked him.

“I took it as a joke,” he said.  “I am a rat.  It’s my Chinese zodiac sign.”  But turning more serious, he added, “I never broke bread with these people, so I never could rat on them.  I was never a part of them.

In fact, when I was asked to wear a wire to record guys I worked with, I said absolutely not.  I wasn’t out to catch individuals, but to warn of corruption throughout the system, from bottom to top in the Police Department.  It’s the system I wanted to change, so in no way was I ever a rat.”

“What sustained you all these years?  Was it faith, love, family – what?

”It was wine, women, and song,” he replied with a smile, as he held up his glass for a toast.

As we were walking through the crowded lobby, a woman was rocking in a rocking chair.  Frank burst into song about a rocking chair to amuse me; then told me he was once sitting outside a café and someone approached him to act in a production of William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life.  He said to the guy, “But I’m not an actor.”  “But you look the part of the Arab in the play,” was the reply.  So he took the part of the unnamed Arab and got to recite the most famous lines: “No foundation all the way down the line. No foundation all the way down the line.”  A refrain that echoes Frank’s take on American society today.  “It’s all a lie” or “No foundation all the way down the line” – little difference.

Until we see through the charade of social life and realize the masked performers are not just the politicians and celebrities, not only the professional actors and the corporate media performers, but us, we won’t grasp the problem.  Lying is the leading cause of living death in the United States.  We live in a society built of lies; lying and dishonesty are the norm.  They are built into the fabric of all our institutions.

Later he quoted for me the preface to that play, words dear to his heart:

In the time of your life, live-so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or any life your life touches.  Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away.  Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world.  Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and kindly heart.  Be the inferior of no man, or of any man be superior.

Remember that every man is a variation of yourself.  No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart.  Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil.  These, understand.  Have no shame in being kindly and gentle but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.  In the time of your life, live so that in the wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

A Genuine Actor       

And so I came to understand those words of Epicurus that this Thoreau-like bon-vivant had sent me.  A pleasant life must be a just life, and if one is wise, and if one prevents people from harming or being harmed by others, one has chosen wisely and well.  That is the way of the genuine actor.  As Nietzsche meant it, a genuine actor is an original, one whose entire life is a work of art in which one begets oneself, or becomes who one is, as the Latin root of genuine (gignere, to give birth, to beget) implies.  In a world of phony actors, Frank Serpico the real man, stands out.

He stood out long ago when he so courageously came forward to light a lamp of truth on the systemic corruption within the NYPD, and despite paying a severe price in suffering that almost cost him his life, he continues to speak out. Having spent a decade in exile in Europe where he entered into deep self-reflection (“There’s nothing outside that isn’t inside,” he says), he returned “home” still passionately committed to shining a light on all that is evil but taken for normality that harms people physically and spiritually.

Image result for frank serpico + colin kaepernick

Source: NY Daily News

To this day his conscience gives him no rest.  He is still fighting by lending his name and presence to cases of police corruption, injustice, racism, the silencing of dissidents, etc. He does not live in the past.  A while ago he protested with some NYC cops the deplorable treatment of the football player Colin Kaepernick by the National Football League. Just recently he spoke out for justice in the egregious 2004 police fatal shooting of Michael Bell, Jr. in the family driveway in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  Supporting a video being distributed to 10,000 registered voters in a quest to get a public inquest, Frank wrote:

This video equals the cell phone footage that captured the shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina.  Such compelling and condemning evidence of a cover-up and abuse can no longer be ignored.  For the sake of justice in American policing, Attorney General Brad Schimel and DA Michael Graveley must reopen this investigation if society’s trust in their police is ever to be restored.

But before anyone gets caught up in hero worship of the genuine hero that Frank is (not a pseudo-hero deceptively created by the celebrity and propaganda apparatus), his parting words are worth remembering.  In this corrupt society, you had best not get ensnared in mythic fantasies about heroes coming to the rescue. It ain’t him, babe, it ain’t him you’re looking for.

When you see injustice and corruption, when you open your eyes and see lying and deceit everywhere, you must be your own hero; you must be courageous and act.  “Take care of it yourself,” he says.

Or in the words of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, a book that serendipitously fell into his hands when he was alone in a friend’s humble chalet in the Swiss Alps and shocked him with its relevance to his own experience: “‘This is my way, where is yours?’ thus I answered those who asked me ‘the way.’  For the way, that does not exist.”

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/

Remember when Dr. Ronny Jackson announced that Donald Trump doesn’t have cognitive issues because he passed a 10-minute test? Well, we beg to differ after hearing the former reality show star’s speech in the Rose Garden that was streamed live to the March for Life crowd on the National Mall. Trump was pro-choice before running for office, by the way.

After bashing Roe vs. Wade, Trump came out in full opposition to women giving birth in the ninth month of pregnancy.

“Right now in a number of states, the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month. It is wrong,” Trump said. “It has to change.”

Watch:

The Internet reacted in disbelief.

Thanks for your input, President Crazy Pants. Now, if he’s talking about an abortion procedure during the ninth month, there’s no such thing, so either way, he’s insane and so are the people behind him nodding their heads in agreement.

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From Nanjing to Okinawa – Two Massacres, Two Commanders

January 22nd, 2018 by Norimatsu Satoko

In her articles published in the Ryukyu Shimpo on 4 and 31 December, Satoko Oka Norimatsu reminds us of three important things. First, of the meaningfulness of formally remembering lessons learned from significant historical events that occurred outside the bounds of our home countries. Second, of the importance of connecting the dots when explaining how the outrages committed by Japanese soldiers towards the civilian population during the Battle of Okinawa can be traced back to atrocities that the Imperial Japanese Army committed in Nanjing and other parts of China. Third, she questions whether men who only avoided being tried for war crimes by taking their own lives can be given pride of place in a commemorative setting.

In these dangerous times, those with the authority and capability to unleash tremendous harm upon hundreds of thousands of people should take a moment to consider the lessons from the past. ME

1. Responsibility to face up to aggression (4 December, 2017)

Year-end during which we remember war

December is an important month in terms of Japan’s war memory. The 8th (the 7th in Western memory, because the attack on the Malay Peninsula, Pearl Harbor and other places is remembered on both sides of the date-line) is the 76th anniversary of the commencement of the Asia-Pacific War in which Japan launched attacks on the colonies of the Western powers in the Pacific and Southeast Asia in an attempt to secure the natural resources required to continue to pursue its war of aggression on the China continent. The 13th is the day on which we remember that 80 years have passed since the Nanjing Massacre, one of the most heinous atrocities known to humankind. In addition, this year, as though bookended by these two anniversaries, on the 10th the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. At the acceptance ceremony Setsuko Thurlow, who contributed to the adoption in July of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by the United Nations, will give a speech on behalf of the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On 24 July, 2017, Ontario Legislature member Soo Wong (3rd from left) and members of Chinese- and Japanese-Canadian communities together held a press conference to support Bill 79.

From the end of 2016, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada, where Thurlow lives, has deliberated over Bill 79, which seeks to proclaim 13 December, the date in 1937 on which Nanjing fell to Japanese forces, as Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day. In the multicultural society that Canada is, precedents exist for anniversaries of dates of historical significance, such as “Holocaust Memorial Day” being proclaimed as commemorative days. Obstruction from Japan and local deniers of history has meant that Bill 79 has not yet become law, but a motion of considerable weight was passed unanimously on 26 October.

Out of deference to the Japanese government, some Japanese Canadians have opposed this bill, but there is a move within the younger generation to support it. Based upon the perception that Japanese Canadians experienced the injustice of being interned in camps during the war, and feeling a responsibility to show solidarity with the struggle for justice of others, an open letter of approval was sent to Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne in the name of “Japanese Canadians for Bill 79.”

Several Canadians of Okinawan heritage were among those who put their names to the letter. One of those, Ms. M, explained why she came forward to put her name to the letter. Her grandfather had been recruited into the Imperial Japanese Army and while his experience did not overlap with the Nanjing Massacre, he took part in four campaigns in China. When Ms. M found this out, she said that she couldn’t hold back the tears at the thought that her grandfather had probably killed many people. According to her grandmother, her grandfather was a changed man after he returned to Okinawa after the war – he was violent and drank to excess. In the e-mail I received from Ms. M, she wrote, “I signed the letter because I sensed that I had to on behalf of my grandfather.”

An irrepressible surge of emotion came over me when I read these words. With the Okinawan people having been forcefully Japanized (kominka), Ms. M’s grandfather was conscripted, and had taken part in Japan’s war of aggression as a member of the Imperial Army. The psychological scars that he bore from that experience destroyed the remaining years of his life. The weight of Ms. M’s decision to sign the open letter supporting the establishment of the Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day cannot be adequately expressed in words. If I can say anything, it is that it has made me sense the magnitude of my responsibility as a Japanese who writes about this aspect of history even more strongly. The fact that the men at the top in the Japanese 32nd Army, Commander-in-Chief Ushijima Mitsuru and Chief-of-Staff Cho Isamu, played leading roles during the Nanjing Massacre also means that what occurred in Nanjing is strongly connected with Okinawa. This year, I plan to spend 13 December, the 80th anniversary of the massacre, in Nanjing.

2. Reimei Memorial Tower an insult to Asia (31 December, 2017)

Massacres that link Okinawa and Nanjing

“Nanjing Massacre” refers to a series of atrocities including massacre, mass rape, pillage and arson committed by the Japanese Army against Chinese civilians, wounded and surrendering soldiers, prisoners-of-war and stragglers who had given up arms. These violations of the international law of war occurred over a period of more than three months from early December 1937, during the Nanjing Campaign, which followed the three-month long Battle of Shanghai and prior to that, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on 7 July, from which time Japan’s war of aggression in China moved into full swing.

Numerous historical studies, materials and witness testimonies have established beyond any doubt that several hundred thousand people were either killed, or lost family members, and if they survived, bore physical and psychological wounds for the rest of their lives. It is shameful that Japan, which was the aggressor in Nanjing, is now the only country in the world where people who deny this historical fact exist among the ranks of government officials and intellectuals and so are in a position to influence society.

Given that well over one hundred thousand residents were brutally killed in the three months during which the Imperial Japanese Army fought in Okinawa, the battle there has points in common with Nanjing. Despite former prime minister Konoe Fumimaro’s February, 1945 advice that defeat would be inevitable, Emperor Hirohito opted to continue hostilities, thereby dragging the people of Okinawa into a war with the United States in which there could be only one outcome. The Battle of Okinawa, the realities of which surely allow it to be referred to as the “Okinawa Massacre,” has close connections with the atrocities committed not only in Nanjing but also throughout China.

Of the main units deployed to defend the main island of Okinawa, the 24th Division had previously been deployed in the puppet state of Manchukuo and the 62nd Division had been in Shanxi Province in North China. Many of the troops in these divisions had been involved in atrocities such as bayoneting POWs to death or the rape of local women. As a result, behavior towards Okinawan civilians such as forbidding them to surrender, forcing death upon them or even killing them, reflected the manner in which the commanders down to the lowest ranking troops in the Imperial Army had operated on the Chinese mainland.

Ushijima Mitsuru

Cho Isamu

From 13-15 December I went to Nanjing, where experts guided me around the various sites where the atrocities occurred. I attended the National Memorial Day commemorative event held on 13 December and was able to meet two survivors who lived through the horror that occurred in Nanjing 80 years ago. Given that in Japan discussion of this terrible incident tends to be focused on the number of victims, it was a truly precious experience to be in a position to sense the pain of people who had actually been involved.Of particular significance is the fact that Commander-in-Chief of the 32nd Army Ushijima Mitsuru and Chief-of-Staff Cho Isamu were both involved in the Nanjing Massacre. After spending time in North China and in the Battle of Shanghai, Ushijima was the commander of the 36th Infantry Brigade, thereby controlling the 23rd and 45th Infantry Regiments within the 6th Division, which entered Nanjing from the South. These two regiments carried out the mass killings at Jiangdongmen where the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall is located and at the various gates on the western side of the Nanjing Wall. The 45th Infantry Regiment proceeded north from the Jiangdongmen area, attacking Chinese attempting to flee upstream along the southern bank of the Yangtze River. The commanding officer of the 6th Division, Lieutenant General Tani Hisao, who ranked above Ushijima, and company commander Captain Tanaka Gunkichi of the 45th Infantry Regiment, who ranked below him, were both sentenced to death in the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal. Cho Isamu served jointly as an intelligence officer in the Central China Area Army commanded by Matsui Iwane, who was sentenced to death for command responsibility in the Nanjing Massacre in the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, and as aide-de-camp for Prince Asaka Yasuhiko who led the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. Within the Shanghai Expeditionary Army was the 16th Division, which can be described as the key culprit in the Nanjing Massacre. Known for his firebrand character, numerous witness accounts document the fact that Cho issued orders for mass executions of captured Chinese soldiers. Among them is testimony that he used the expression “Yatchimae!” meaning “Deal to them!” There are statements recorded that when faced with troops who hesitated to kill civilians, Cho said, “This is how you kill someone,” and stepped forward to cut a person down with his sword. Cho related how the soldiers, jolted into action, moved as one to begin the slaughter.

Three days before going to Nanjing I had stood at Mabuni Hill in Okinawa in front of the Reimei Memorial Tower, which commemorates Ushijima and Cho. Unquestionably the first-class seat on Mabuni Hill, you will not see a higher spot in whatever direction you look. In this manner, men who can be called war criminals responsible not only for the “Okinawa Massacre,” but also for the Nanjing Massacre, are honored. Is this not an insult not only to Okinawa and the Okinawan people, but to China and indeed all Asian countries that carry memories of Japanese aggression?

Reimei Memorial Tower on the highest point of Mabuni Hill

Reimei Memorial Tower bears calligraphy of former Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru

On this occasion, travelling as I did from Okinawa to Nanjing, I could not help but think that the true nature of the Battle of Okinawa became clear to me when I considered it in the context of the bigger picture of Japanese aggression in Asia. In keeping with the spirit of the concluding statement at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum totally rejecting the “affirmation or glorification of war”, I feel responsible as a Japanese to take issue with the Reimei Memorial Tower.

Original articles appeared in Ryukyu Shimpo on 4 and 31 December, 2017.

Translator’s supplementary notes:

Mabuni-no-oka (Mabuni Hill) stands at the southwest corner of the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, in the southern area of the main island of Okinawa. This is where Ushijima and Cho set up their Headquarters cave before committing suicide during the night of 22 June 1945, so it is effectively the scene of the death throes of the shattered 32nd Army. These days, Mabuni is the venue for the main commemorative ceremonies held on 23 June (Okinawa Memorial Day) and as such it has a special significance for the people of Okinawa.

Immediately east of the hill is the Cornerstone of Peace, a monumentunveiled on 23 June 1995 in memory of the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa and the end of World War II. The names of over two hundred and forty thousand people who lost their lives during the battle are inscribed on the concentric arcs of the monument’s black granite walls. They include not only Okinawans but Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Koreans and Americans among others. The Cornerstone of Peace was erected with three philosophies in mind: to remember those who were lost and pray for peace, pass on the lessons of war, and to provide a place for meditation and learning.

Up a slight slope on the eastern side of the Cornerstone of Peace is the Memorial Museum that Satoko refers to. The Memorial Museum is clear in its position rejecting the “affirmation or glorification of war.” The inscriptions on the monuments erected by local Okinawan authorities in the Itoman area in the years immediately after the war are similarly unambiguous. The words inscribed on the likes of the Himeyuri Memorial Tower, the Kenji Memorial Tower and the Konpaku Memorial Tower are simple statements of fact overlaid with expressions of grief.

On Mabuni-no-oka, where the Reimei Memorial Tower is located, there are several dozen monuments that were mostly erected by the various prefectures of Japan during the mid-1960s to pay homage to the soldiers from their respective regions. The inscriptions on these monuments are notable for having three features: reference to soldiers fighting bravely, no mention of the suffering of Okinawans caught up in the battle, and no heartfelt statement expressing a desire for peace. As the monument dedicated to the souls of the commanders of the 32nd Army, the Reimei Memorial Tower has attracted criticism for adulating men who played central roles in the tragedy that unfolded in Okinawa in 1945.

In keeping with the desire of Imperial Headquarters to prolong the struggle and therefore buy time to prepare for what was expected to be the decisive struggle for the main islands of Japan, the commanders of the 32nd Army decided in late May to withdraw southwards from Shuri towards the Kyan Peninsula directly impacted upon the tragic scale of the “Okinawa Massacre.”

Almost three weeks later, on 17 June, from his Headquarters cave in Mabuni near where the Reimei Memorial Tower now stands, with only the shattered remnants of the 32nd Army left, Ushijima ignored US General Buckner’s proposal for surrender. The choice was to allow the carnage to continue to the bitter end.

The withdrawal from Shuri towards Kyan meant that the closing stages of the battle would be fought with thousands of fleeing civilians caught in the crossfire. It resulted in three more weeks of civilians having their food supplies stolen by or even being murdered by Japanese soldiers, being forced out of caves and shelters into the US bombardment or dying from starvation or malaria.

According to historian Hayashi Hirofumi, between half and two thirds of the civilian casualties in the Battle of Okinawa occurred during the weeks after the order was given to withdraw from Shuri.

*

Translated and introduced by Mark Ealey

Original articles appeared in Ryukyu Shimpo on 4 and 31 December, 2017.

Satoko Oka Norimatsu is Director of the Peace Philosophy Centre, a peace-education organization in Vancouver, Canada, with a widely-read Japanese-English blog on topics such as peace and justice, war memory and education in East Asia, US-Japan relations, US military bases in Okinawa, nuclear issues, and media criticism.

Mark Ealey is a New Zealand-based freelance translator specialising in Japanese foreign relations. In recent years he has focussed on Okinawan affairs, with his most recent publication being Descent into Hell – Civilian Memories of the Battle of Okinawa, a joint work with the late Alastair McLauchlan.

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From Nanjing to Okinawa – Two Massacres, Two Commanders

January 22nd, 2018 by Norimatsu Satoko

In her articles published in the Ryukyu Shimpo on 4 and 31 December, Satoko Oka Norimatsu reminds us of three important things. First, of the meaningfulness of formally remembering lessons learned from significant historical events that occurred outside the bounds of our home countries. Second, of the importance of connecting the dots when explaining how the outrages committed by Japanese soldiers towards the civilian population during the Battle of Okinawa can be traced back to atrocities that the Imperial Japanese Army committed in Nanjing and other parts of China. Third, she questions whether men who only avoided being tried for war crimes by taking their own lives can be given pride of place in a commemorative setting.

In these dangerous times, those with the authority and capability to unleash tremendous harm upon hundreds of thousands of people should take a moment to consider the lessons from the past. ME

1. Responsibility to face up to aggression (4 December, 2017)

Year-end during which we remember war

December is an important month in terms of Japan’s war memory. The 8th (the 7th in Western memory, because the attack on the Malay Peninsula, Pearl Harbor and other places is remembered on both sides of the date-line) is the 76th anniversary of the commencement of the Asia-Pacific War in which Japan launched attacks on the colonies of the Western powers in the Pacific and Southeast Asia in an attempt to secure the natural resources required to continue to pursue its war of aggression on the China continent. The 13th is the day on which we remember that 80 years have passed since the Nanjing Massacre, one of the most heinous atrocities known to humankind. In addition, this year, as though bookended by these two anniversaries, on the 10th the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. At the acceptance ceremony Setsuko Thurlow, who contributed to the adoption in July of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by the United Nations, will give a speech on behalf of the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On 24 July, 2017, Ontario Legislature member Soo Wong (3rd from left) and members of Chinese- and Japanese-Canadian communities together held a press conference to support Bill 79.

From the end of 2016, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada, where Thurlow lives, has deliberated over Bill 79, which seeks to proclaim 13 December, the date in 1937 on which Nanjing fell to Japanese forces, as Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day. In the multicultural society that Canada is, precedents exist for anniversaries of dates of historical significance, such as “Holocaust Memorial Day” being proclaimed as commemorative days. Obstruction from Japan and local deniers of history has meant that Bill 79 has not yet become law, but a motion of considerable weight was passed unanimously on 26 October.

Out of deference to the Japanese government, some Japanese Canadians have opposed this bill, but there is a move within the younger generation to support it. Based upon the perception that Japanese Canadians experienced the injustice of being interned in camps during the war, and feeling a responsibility to show solidarity with the struggle for justice of others, an open letter of approval was sent to Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne in the name of “Japanese Canadians for Bill 79.”

Several Canadians of Okinawan heritage were among those who put their names to the letter. One of those, Ms. M, explained why she came forward to put her name to the letter. Her grandfather had been recruited into the Imperial Japanese Army and while his experience did not overlap with the Nanjing Massacre, he took part in four campaigns in China. When Ms. M found this out, she said that she couldn’t hold back the tears at the thought that her grandfather had probably killed many people. According to her grandmother, her grandfather was a changed man after he returned to Okinawa after the war – he was violent and drank to excess. In the e-mail I received from Ms. M, she wrote, “I signed the letter because I sensed that I had to on behalf of my grandfather.”

An irrepressible surge of emotion came over me when I read these words. With the Okinawan people having been forcefully Japanized (kominka), Ms. M’s grandfather was conscripted, and had taken part in Japan’s war of aggression as a member of the Imperial Army. The psychological scars that he bore from that experience destroyed the remaining years of his life. The weight of Ms. M’s decision to sign the open letter supporting the establishment of the Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day cannot be adequately expressed in words. If I can say anything, it is that it has made me sense the magnitude of my responsibility as a Japanese who writes about this aspect of history even more strongly. The fact that the men at the top in the Japanese 32nd Army, Commander-in-Chief Ushijima Mitsuru and Chief-of-Staff Cho Isamu, played leading roles during the Nanjing Massacre also means that what occurred in Nanjing is strongly connected with Okinawa. This year, I plan to spend 13 December, the 80th anniversary of the massacre, in Nanjing.

2. Reimei Memorial Tower an insult to Asia (31 December, 2017)

Massacres that link Okinawa and Nanjing

“Nanjing Massacre” refers to a series of atrocities including massacre, mass rape, pillage and arson committed by the Japanese Army against Chinese civilians, wounded and surrendering soldiers, prisoners-of-war and stragglers who had given up arms. These violations of the international law of war occurred over a period of more than three months from early December 1937, during the Nanjing Campaign, which followed the three-month long Battle of Shanghai and prior to that, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on 7 July, from which time Japan’s war of aggression in China moved into full swing.

Numerous historical studies, materials and witness testimonies have established beyond any doubt that several hundred thousand people were either killed, or lost family members, and if they survived, bore physical and psychological wounds for the rest of their lives. It is shameful that Japan, which was the aggressor in Nanjing, is now the only country in the world where people who deny this historical fact exist among the ranks of government officials and intellectuals and so are in a position to influence society.

Given that well over one hundred thousand residents were brutally killed in the three months during which the Imperial Japanese Army fought in Okinawa, the battle there has points in common with Nanjing. Despite former prime minister Konoe Fumimaro’s February, 1945 advice that defeat would be inevitable, Emperor Hirohito opted to continue hostilities, thereby dragging the people of Okinawa into a war with the United States in which there could be only one outcome. The Battle of Okinawa, the realities of which surely allow it to be referred to as the “Okinawa Massacre,” has close connections with the atrocities committed not only in Nanjing but also throughout China.

Of the main units deployed to defend the main island of Okinawa, the 24th Division had previously been deployed in the puppet state of Manchukuo and the 62nd Division had been in Shanxi Province in North China. Many of the troops in these divisions had been involved in atrocities such as bayoneting POWs to death or the rape of local women. As a result, behavior towards Okinawan civilians such as forbidding them to surrender, forcing death upon them or even killing them, reflected the manner in which the commanders down to the lowest ranking troops in the Imperial Army had operated on the Chinese mainland.

Ushijima Mitsuru

Cho Isamu

From 13-15 December I went to Nanjing, where experts guided me around the various sites where the atrocities occurred. I attended the National Memorial Day commemorative event held on 13 December and was able to meet two survivors who lived through the horror that occurred in Nanjing 80 years ago. Given that in Japan discussion of this terrible incident tends to be focused on the number of victims, it was a truly precious experience to be in a position to sense the pain of people who had actually been involved.Of particular significance is the fact that Commander-in-Chief of the 32nd Army Ushijima Mitsuru and Chief-of-Staff Cho Isamu were both involved in the Nanjing Massacre. After spending time in North China and in the Battle of Shanghai, Ushijima was the commander of the 36th Infantry Brigade, thereby controlling the 23rd and 45th Infantry Regiments within the 6th Division, which entered Nanjing from the South. These two regiments carried out the mass killings at Jiangdongmen where the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall is located and at the various gates on the western side of the Nanjing Wall. The 45th Infantry Regiment proceeded north from the Jiangdongmen area, attacking Chinese attempting to flee upstream along the southern bank of the Yangtze River. The commanding officer of the 6th Division, Lieutenant General Tani Hisao, who ranked above Ushijima, and company commander Captain Tanaka Gunkichi of the 45th Infantry Regiment, who ranked below him, were both sentenced to death in the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal. Cho Isamu served jointly as an intelligence officer in the Central China Area Army commanded by Matsui Iwane, who was sentenced to death for command responsibility in the Nanjing Massacre in the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, and as aide-de-camp for Prince Asaka Yasuhiko who led the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. Within the Shanghai Expeditionary Army was the 16th Division, which can be described as the key culprit in the Nanjing Massacre. Known for his firebrand character, numerous witness accounts document the fact that Cho issued orders for mass executions of captured Chinese soldiers. Among them is testimony that he used the expression “Yatchimae!” meaning “Deal to them!” There are statements recorded that when faced with troops who hesitated to kill civilians, Cho said, “This is how you kill someone,” and stepped forward to cut a person down with his sword. Cho related how the soldiers, jolted into action, moved as one to begin the slaughter.

Three days before going to Nanjing I had stood at Mabuni Hill in Okinawa in front of the Reimei Memorial Tower, which commemorates Ushijima and Cho. Unquestionably the first-class seat on Mabuni Hill, you will not see a higher spot in whatever direction you look. In this manner, men who can be called war criminals responsible not only for the “Okinawa Massacre,” but also for the Nanjing Massacre, are honored. Is this not an insult not only to Okinawa and the Okinawan people, but to China and indeed all Asian countries that carry memories of Japanese aggression?

Reimei Memorial Tower on the highest point of Mabuni Hill

Reimei Memorial Tower bears calligraphy of former Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru

On this occasion, travelling as I did from Okinawa to Nanjing, I could not help but think that the true nature of the Battle of Okinawa became clear to me when I considered it in the context of the bigger picture of Japanese aggression in Asia. In keeping with the spirit of the concluding statement at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum totally rejecting the “affirmation or glorification of war”, I feel responsible as a Japanese to take issue with the Reimei Memorial Tower.

Original articles appeared in Ryukyu Shimpo on 4 and 31 December, 2017.

Translator’s supplementary notes:

Mabuni-no-oka (Mabuni Hill) stands at the southwest corner of the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, in the southern area of the main island of Okinawa. This is where Ushijima and Cho set up their Headquarters cave before committing suicide during the night of 22 June 1945, so it is effectively the scene of the death throes of the shattered 32nd Army. These days, Mabuni is the venue for the main commemorative ceremonies held on 23 June (Okinawa Memorial Day) and as such it has a special significance for the people of Okinawa.

Immediately east of the hill is the Cornerstone of Peace, a monumentunveiled on 23 June 1995 in memory of the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa and the end of World War II. The names of over two hundred and forty thousand people who lost their lives during the battle are inscribed on the concentric arcs of the monument’s black granite walls. They include not only Okinawans but Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Koreans and Americans among others. The Cornerstone of Peace was erected with three philosophies in mind: to remember those who were lost and pray for peace, pass on the lessons of war, and to provide a place for meditation and learning.

Up a slight slope on the eastern side of the Cornerstone of Peace is the Memorial Museum that Satoko refers to. The Memorial Museum is clear in its position rejecting the “affirmation or glorification of war.” The inscriptions on the monuments erected by local Okinawan authorities in the Itoman area in the years immediately after the war are similarly unambiguous. The words inscribed on the likes of the Himeyuri Memorial Tower, the Kenji Memorial Tower and the Konpaku Memorial Tower are simple statements of fact overlaid with expressions of grief.

On Mabuni-no-oka, where the Reimei Memorial Tower is located, there are several dozen monuments that were mostly erected by the various prefectures of Japan during the mid-1960s to pay homage to the soldiers from their respective regions. The inscriptions on these monuments are notable for having three features: reference to soldiers fighting bravely, no mention of the suffering of Okinawans caught up in the battle, and no heartfelt statement expressing a desire for peace. As the monument dedicated to the souls of the commanders of the 32nd Army, the Reimei Memorial Tower has attracted criticism for adulating men who played central roles in the tragedy that unfolded in Okinawa in 1945.

In keeping with the desire of Imperial Headquarters to prolong the struggle and therefore buy time to prepare for what was expected to be the decisive struggle for the main islands of Japan, the commanders of the 32nd Army decided in late May to withdraw southwards from Shuri towards the Kyan Peninsula directly impacted upon the tragic scale of the “Okinawa Massacre.”

Almost three weeks later, on 17 June, from his Headquarters cave in Mabuni near where the Reimei Memorial Tower now stands, with only the shattered remnants of the 32nd Army left, Ushijima ignored US General Buckner’s proposal for surrender. The choice was to allow the carnage to continue to the bitter end.

The withdrawal from Shuri towards Kyan meant that the closing stages of the battle would be fought with thousands of fleeing civilians caught in the crossfire. It resulted in three more weeks of civilians having their food supplies stolen by or even being murdered by Japanese soldiers, being forced out of caves and shelters into the US bombardment or dying from starvation or malaria.

According to historian Hayashi Hirofumi, between half and two thirds of the civilian casualties in the Battle of Okinawa occurred during the weeks after the order was given to withdraw from Shuri.

*

Translated and introduced by Mark Ealey

Original articles appeared in Ryukyu Shimpo on 4 and 31 December, 2017.

Satoko Oka Norimatsu is Director of the Peace Philosophy Centre, a peace-education organization in Vancouver, Canada, with a widely-read Japanese-English blog on topics such as peace and justice, war memory and education in East Asia, US-Japan relations, US military bases in Okinawa, nuclear issues, and media criticism.

Mark Ealey is a New Zealand-based freelance translator specialising in Japanese foreign relations. In recent years he has focussed on Okinawan affairs, with his most recent publication being Descent into Hell – Civilian Memories of the Battle of Okinawa, a joint work with the late Alastair McLauchlan.

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Introduction

The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus is pleased to present Hideki Yoshikawa’s account of recent developments in the ongoing (20-year) contest between the people and government of Okinawa and the governments of the United States and Japan.

Readers of this journal will be well aware of the general tenor of this struggle, of the reversal of his anti-base construction stance by then Governor Nakaima in December 2013, allowing the national government to commence works to reclaim part of Oura Bay in Northern Okinawa (offshore from Henoko) for base construction. Ten months later, in December 2014, an aroused electorate dismissed Nakaima from office and delivered the Governorship (by a massive, 100,000 vote majority) to an avowed opponent of the reclamation/base construction plan, Onaga Takeshi. Another ten months followed before Onaga duly (in October 2015) “cancelled” (torikeshi) the reclamation license.

From November 2015, the dispute was subjected to a series of judicial and semi-judicial actions. Works were suspended for one year from March 2016, but the main proceedings issued in a December 2016 Supreme Court ruling that found against the prefecture. The Governor thereupon “cancelled” (torikeshi) his original cancelation order, and site works resumed in April 2017. The prefecture launched a related suit in the Naha District Court July 2017 seeking a suspension of the Bay works, but as of January 2018 no judgment has yet issued.

Over the past year, Governor Onaga has many times spoken of his intent to rescind (tekkai) the December 2013 reclamation permit (i.e., going beyond his October 2015 “cancellation,” which he cancelled in December 2016). There is no question that he has such power, although there is also no question that its exercise would be subject to immediate judicial challenge by the national government. Consequently it is understandable that he should choose with great care how and when to exercise it.

However, while almost one year has now passed without any sign of Onaga actually implementing his tekkai promise, daily hundreds of truckloads of material are delivered to the Oura bay construction site, and from late 2017 that daily convoy has been supplemented by shipments from Oku port, in the far north of Okinawa Island. Governor Onaga issued a permit for that, and then in December issued similar permits for use of facilities at two other ports, Nakagusuku and Motobu.

*

Map of Okinawa showing route of land-fill materials, Source: Hideki Yoshikawa

Relying on dump-truck delivery of materials, and assuming a delivery rate of about 175 trucks per day (the rate as of late December 2017), to deliver the necessary three million tons would take a staggering 46 years, and only then, upon such a site, could actual base construction commence. So the government is intent on speeding up the works, either by massively increasing the tempo of road transport delivery or by resort to delivery by sea, or more likely both. The sea delivery has the great advantage from the government view of being more difficult for citizens to block. Either way, the process threatens to overwhelm the infrastructure of Okinawa’s north.

With the Onaga Prefectural government seemingly engaging in endless procrastination, and the national government, through the Okinawan Defense Bureau, steadily stepping up the tempo of sea-wall construction works, uncertainty spreads within the Okinawan anti-base movement. Could it be that Governor Onaga is going to betray them (as most believe his predecessor, Nakaima, did in December 2013? How credible is Onaga’s stance, as a supporter of the US-Japan Security Treaty and the Okinawa base system who opposes only the specific Henoko project and the deployment of the Osprey? Is he, despite the confusing signals he issues, engaged on a complex but consistent strategy to achieve the main goal – stopping Henoko?

On 4 February, Okinawan voters go to the polls in Nago City to elect a new mayor. In 2010, they chose Inamine Susumu, on a platform of “no new base on land or sea within Nago City.” They re-elected him in 2014 and now he seeks a third term. He has proven a major thorn in the side of government construction plans, so the Abe government attaches a high priority to defeating him. The national government, along with the LDP and Komeito party organizations, have pledged full backing to his opponent, Toguchi Taketoyo. Anywhere else but Okinawa it would be unimaginable that the central government would interfere so blatantly to promote its candidate in a local government election. As part of this intervention, the Chief Cabinet Secretary recently held meetings with heads of various Nago City wards (Henoko, Kushi, and Toyohara) and Higashi and Kunigami Villages, bypassing the city administration in an attempt to subject the city to national government control. Moreover, from 2015 it has been making significant subsidy payments to these districts, rising from 39 million yen in 2015 to 120 million yen for 2018) to try to ensure defeat of Inamine and the city’s submission. This was surely in breach of the constitution’s clauses on regional self-government. Meanwhile the national government reduces each year the regular budgetary allocation to Okinawa prefecture, plainly to punish Governor Onaga for his non-cooperation.

Apart from the ongoing turmoil due to the Henoko-Oura Bay base construction project, Okinawans continue to suffer the depredations of night and day helicopter and Osprey flights, often over residential areas, at intolerable noise levels, and occasionally sending fully armed forces on parachute drops or (December 2017) accidentally dropping potentially lethal objects in the vicinity of houses and schools. They do not forget the periodic base personnel-related road accidents, sometimes causing death, or the sexual assaults, most notoriously the rape-murder of April 2016. The Abe government’s defense and security policies exact a heavy toll on them. They continue to resist.

Yoshikawa here presents a detailed account of the Henoko-Oura Bay issue as of January 2018. (GMcC)

What is happening with the Onaga Administration?

As the year 2018 began in earnest, the people of Okinawa are trying to figure out where their Governor, Onaga Takeshi, is taking them in their fight against the construction of a U.S. military base in Henoko-Oura Bay in the north of Okinawa island. On November 3, 2017, the Okinawa Times reported that Governor Onaga had in September, behind closed doors, issued a permit to companies under contract to the Okinawa Defense Bureau to use Oku port in the north of Okinawa Island for transport of materials for base construction.1 With the permit in hand, the Okinawa Defense Bureau has moved to accelerate its construction work, transporting landfill materials from Oku port to Henoko-Oura Bay by sea, thus avoiding protesters’ road blockage on the land.

The report surprised, confused, and angered many people in Okinawa because it contradicted the Governor’s pledge that he would do all in his power to stop the base construction. Many contend that the Governor should instead have used his discretionary power to refuse to issue the permit.

In response, Onaga reiterated his “everything in my power” pledge, provided explanations, and to placate the rising tide of criticism, indicated that it is now “considering revoking the permit.”2 However, a growing number of people are questioning whether Governor Onaga is sincere about his pledge, and they call on the Okinawa prefectural government to take immediate action to rectify the situation.

What is happening with the Onaga administration? How are the people of Okinawa reacting to this unsettling situation? Will they continue to resist the base construction? The following offers an analysis of recent developments in Okinawa.

Explanations by the Onaga Administration

According to a statement issued by the Governor and a transcript of a press conference held on November 15,3 the Onaga administration and the prefectural government decided to issue the permit because, upon review of the applications received in June, they could find no flaws. Consulting with their legal advisers, they concluded that they needed to adhere to the principles of fair and equal application of laws and exercise of administrative discretion and that they could not deviate from the “standard practices” of prefectural governments’ issuing use-permits even though these particular applications were for U.S. military base construction. Governor Onaga stressed that his government had taken extra time, a few months instead of the usual two weeks, to review the application.

Governor Onaga also claimed that the permit, issued under the Port and Harbor Act, pertained only to the keeping of landfill materials and the berthing of ships at the port, not to transport of landfill materials from the port by sea. He stressed that for transport by sea from the port of such landfill materials, the companies and the Okinawa Defense Bureau should have applied for a separate permit under the Land Reclamation Act, indicating that the Bureau and companies were in breach of the Act. On November 15, the same day Governor Onaga held a press conference, his administration sent a letter to the Bureau requesting it to stop transporting landfill materials by sea.

K-1 and N-5 Seawall Construction, © Yamamoto Hideo

Seawall construction at K-1, N-5 and K-9 as of early January 2018. Red lines indicate that seawall construction is under way. Source: Hideki Yoshikawa

The Okinawa Defense Bureau, however, repudiated the Governor’s claims. It insists that the land reclamation permit which was issued by former Governor Nakaima Hirokazu in December 2013 enabled the Defense Bureau to transport landfill materials by sea from Oku port to Henoko-Oura Bay.4 They noted that Governor Onaga had lost his lawsuit in the Japanese Supreme Court in December 2016 over his withdrawal (torikeshi) of the land reclamation permit.5

Meanwhile, a high-ranking prefectural official told the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project that the Onaga administration and its lawyers were concerned that a refusal to issue a permit would be construed as a failure to comply with the law and administrative duty. The official explained that the Onaga administration had decided that any action that could be deemed unlawful should be avoided, especially because the prefectural government is already in court battling the Japanese government over the issue of a reef-crushing permit (see below). Such concerns outweighed those over possible public backlash that the Onaga administration would face over issuing the permit.

The official acknowledged, however, that not consulting with the people of the Oku district prior to making its decisions, and not publically disclosing the information on the issuance of the permit in a timely manner, were mistakes and that the Okinawa prefectural government needed to rectify the situation. On November 14, 2017, 10 days after the Okinawa Times’ report on the issuance of the permit, the Okinawa prefectural government held a formal meeting with the people of the Oku district and on the very next day, Governor Onaga issued the above-mentioned statement, explaining its actions and asking for understanding from the Okinawan public.

Patience, Anger, and Doubt: Local Reactions and Moves by the Onaga Administration

When the Okinawa Times report on the issuance of the permit came out at the beginning of November, the Japanese government was starting construction of the N-1 and D-5 seawalls. Since the Onaga administration vehemently condemned the start of new seawall construction,6 people in Okinawa were surprised and confused by the report. However, two contrasting reactions have been manifest among the Okinawan public.

Staunch supporters of Governor Onaga remain willing to accept the Onaga administration’s explanations for issuance of the permit. Seeing the administration’s actions as tactical they hold to the view that his administration government will prevail in the end to stop the construction. They argue that if the people of Okinawa do not support the Onaga administration’s actions and explanations, it would mean the negation of their 20-years of struggle against base construction.

On the other hand, a growing number of people feel angry and betrayed. Many now question whether Governor Onaga and his government are sincere and serious about stopping the base construction. These reactions are evident especially among protesters who are already weary from daily protests, continuing now for years, at Camp Schwab and Henoko-Oura Bay, as they now have to head off also to the distant port of Oku.

Protesters at Oku Port, © Kitaueda Tsuyoshi 

In this context, the actions taken by two prominent supporters of Governor Onaga and of the anti-base construction movement are significant. Yamashiro Hiroji, chair of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, demanded an emergency meeting with the prefectural government. At that meting, held in on November 15, he openly criticized Governor Onaga for breaking his pledge. He demanded that Onaga “stop talking” and withdraw the permit for use of Oku port.7

Yamauchi Tokushin, a former national Diet member and symbolic figure in Okinawa’s peace movement over decades who was also present at the November 15 meeting, on November 29 wrote a sharply critical article for the Okinawa Times blaming prefectural government officials for ill-advising the Governor on the issuance of the permit. Criticizing the prefectural officials for acting as if they were “petty officials from the Japanese government,” he demanded that the prefecture revoke the permit.

Meanwhile, on November 23, the Oku District Association adopted a resolution opposing use of the port by the Okinawa Defense Bureau.8 On November 28, the Association sent a delegation to the Okinawa Defense Bureau to protest, and in response the Bureau temporarily suspended the sea transport of landfill materials from the port. The Association aso sent a delegation to the prefectural government to demand that it withdraw the permit.9

Facing anger, doubt, and criticism from the Okinawan public, the Onaga administration has announced that it is “considering” revoking the permit for use of Oku port, reiterating that Governor Onaga is committed to stopping the base construction.x So far, however (as of mid-January 2018), it has taken no such action.

Instead, on December 7, the Onaga administration issued another permit to the Okinawa Defense Bureau for the use of Nakagusuku port by tugboats accompanying ships from Oku port to Henoko-Oura Bay. Following the Onaga administration’s issuance of these permits, on December 11, Mayor Takara Fumio of Motobu Town in northern Okinawa also issued a permit for the Defense Bureau to use the port of Motobu.11 Both the Onaga administration and Mayor Takara provided the same explanations as had been given earlier by the Onaga administration: they had reviewed and found no flaws in the companies’ applications and they needed to adhere to the principles of fair and equal application of the law and exercise of administrative discretion.

With the issuance of those new permits, the negative public sentiment towards the Onaga administration might have been expected to intensify. However, two U.S. military aircraft-related incidents distracted the Okinawan public. On December 7, a small cylindrical object belonging to the U.S. military fell on the roof of a nursery school with school children playing in the school garden as a U.S. military aircraft flew over the area.12 On December 13, 2017, a window from a U.S. military helicopter fell on the grounds of an elementary school while students were taking physical education class.13 Both the nursery school and elementary school are located near the U.S. Marine Corp’s Futenma Air Station, the very military base that the construction at Henoko-Oura Bay is planned to replace. As Governor Onaga quickly condemned the U.S. military for the accidents, public sentiment to press his administration over the issuance of the permits was deflected.

As of January 17, 2018, the Okinawa Defense Bureau is transporting landfill materials from the port of Motobu to Henoko-Oura Bay, while remaining ready to resume transport operations at the port of Oku, and, however limited the Onaga administration may claim it is, seawall construction is underway. What is one to make of this situation?

Querying the Onaga Administration’s Strategy

It can be argued that the Onaga administration’s issuance of the permits was a consequence of two things: its own overall (unwise) strategic decisions in the fight against base construction on the one hand and the way the Japanese government has been able to take advantage of its strategic errors on the other.

As discussed in an earlier paper,14 having lost its supreme court battle against the Japanese government over Governor Onaga’s withdrawal (torikeshi) of the land reclamation permit, the Onaga administration chose to fight in “lesser battles” first, only then moving on to the main battle over the land reclamation permit. Lesser battles are to be (or have been) fought with Governor Onaga’s administrative power over the issuance of (ancillary) permits for coral reef crushing, coral transplant, changes to the reclamation and construction plans, and so forth. The main battle remains to be fought over Governor Onaga’s administrative power to revoke (tekkai) the land reclamation permit. Issued by former Okinawa Governor Nakaima in 2013, suspended in 2015 and reinstated following the Supreme Court ruling in 2016, the land reclamation permit provides the principal legal ground for land reclamation work and thus for base construction.

It appears that the Onaga administration assumed that the lesser battles could slow construction work and provide legal and moral grounds that could be used against the Japanese government when Governor Onaga finally revokes the land reclamation permit. Perhaps it still hopes at least for this delay effect.

The Japanese government, however, has been able to turn the Onaga administration’s strategies against it. When the Onaga administration prepared to take the Okinawa Defense Bureau into an administrative battle over the reef-crushing permit in April 2017, claiming that the Okinawa Defense Bureau needed a permit from Governor Onaga, the Japanese government simply dismissed those claims. Having persuaded the local fishermen’s association to renounce their fishing rights to Henoko-Oura Bay, the government insisted that it was not necessary to obtain any permit from the Governor. The Okinawa Defense Bureau then began seawall construction in April 2017.

This situation forced the Onaga administration to file a suit in the Naha District Court against the Japanese government in July 2017.15 That suit has in turn placed the Onaga administration in a bewildering situation. Now the burden of proof rests on the prefecture to show that the Japanese government has violated prefectural ordinances and regulations. In the Japanese system of government, this is extremely difficult, and it appears to be exhausting the Onaga administration and the prefectural government.

As mentioned above, many within the Onaga administration feel that to engage in a court battle the Okinawa prefectural government must present itself to the court as a thoroughly law-abiding entity. Thus, when the Okinawa Defense Bureau applied for ancillary permits such as to use the ports of Oku and Nakagusuku, to transplant corals, and to conduct a survey in Henoko-Oura Bay, the Onaga administration and prefectural government believed they had no choice but to review the applications and, provided there were no flaws, grant the permits.16 As a kind of delaying tactic, they sent inquiry letters and directives demanding information and explanation to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, but such tactics had very limited effect.

It can also be argued that the Onaga administration’s strategy undermined its own efforts, facilitating the “tatewari gyosei” (“vertically compartmentalized administration”) of the Okinawa prefectural government to its detriment. As with any local government bureaucracy in Japan,17 different sections of the Okinawa prefectural governments are often influenced more by their counterpart ministries of the central government than by other sections of the prefectural government. Co-ordination among different sections of the prefectural government is also often minimal and there is a tendency among officials not to intervene in the affairs of other sections. To counteract these bureaucratic tendencies in its fight against base construction, the Onaga administration created in June 2015 the Henoko Base Construction Countermeasures Division Executive Office within the Governor’s Office.18 The Henoko Executive Office is staffed by members of different departments including the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction and the Department of Environment.

However, the Onaga administration’s strategy to fight lesser (thus compartmentalized) battles first has rendered the tatewari gyosei a de facto mode of operation. Rather than giving top priority to the Onaga administration’s basic “No” stance against construction, each section of the prefectural government has tended to operate in accordance with its narrowly defined responsibilities and duties. Thus, when the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, the principal department in charge of issuing use permits for ports, finally decided to issue permits for the ports of Oku and Nakagusuku in the name of Governor Onaga, important environmental issues were barely taken into consideration. Despite the fact that environmental impacts from base construction have been observed and there have been violations of environmental conditions on which former Governor Nakaima approved the land reclamation in 2013,19 and even though there could have been sufficient reasons for Governor Onaga to revoke (tekkai) the land reclamation permit, these environmental issues were seen as falling outside the administrative responsibilities of the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction reviewing the applications for port use.

Against this backdrop of the Onaga administration’s tactics and the Japanese government’s counter maneuvering, there has been a resurgence of calls for a prefectural referendum to be held to help push Governor Onaga to revoke the land reclamation permit, in other words to engage in the main battle.20 The proponents of such a referendum insist that a prefectural referendum opposing the base construction at Henoko-Oura Bay would provide Governor Onaga with a strong legal foothold in a likely lawsuit filed by the Japanese government against the Governor, and argue that the Governor cannot, or should not, revoke the permit without public backing demonstrated by such a referendum. They have proposed a referendum to be held at the same time as the gubernatorial election scheduled for November 2018.

Others have argued however that the people of Okinawa in 2014 elected Governor Onaga to revoke the land reclamation permit and he has reason to do so without a referendum. They insist that a referendum would be time consuming and require a great deal of effort, and given the present state of the base construction the Governor and the people of Okinawa have neither time nor energy to spare. Some even go further to argue that such referendum would give the Governor an excuse to postpone revocation of the land reclamation permit.21

Governor Onaga and his administration have not taken a stance on the referendum proposal. Nor have they indicated when or how the Governor will use his power to revoke the land reclamation permit. While insisting that the Governor will revoke it at an appropriate time, they tightly guard information on what many consider as the Governor’s last resort strategy, fearing that the Japanese government will take advantage of whatever information comes available.22

Meanwhile, it is reported that the Onaga administration is preparing to propose its own alternative plan to close Futenma Air Station, aiming to challenge the Japanese and U.S. governments’ insistence that “the relocation [of Futenma] to Henoko is the only solution.”23 This latest move can also be understood as a manifestation of the Onaga administration’s frustration with the fact that, while stressing the importance of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, most governors of Japan’s other prefectures are unwilling to host (or even discuss hosting) U.S. military bases or training in their prefectures. In other words, they persist in “free riding” on the US-Japan Security Treaty at Okinawa’s expense.24 The Onaga administration’s alternative plan likely incorporates the recommendation laid out by the Tokyo and Washington-based think-tank, “New Diplomacy Initiative,” which calls for development of a “new rotational system” for the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in the Pacific.25 Apparently, the Onaga administration is contemplating presenting its alternative plan during Governor Onaga’s visit to Washington D.C. in March 2018.

Governor Onaga addressing the United Nations, © Hideki Yoshikawa

Many in Okinawa seem to have been unable to form an opinion about the Onaga administration’s latest move as it has provided no details on the alternative plan. Others argue that this late move is a waste of time and energy as they see that it alone would have no impact on the Japanese and U.S. governments. Still others criticize the whole idea as just a way for the Onaga administration to distract the attention of the Okinawan public from the fact that it has not taken effective action, including revoking the land reclamation permit, to stop base construction.26

By proposing such an alternative plan as its own for whatever reason, the Onaga administration would be bound to face more problems. Such an action would contradict the Governor’s previous stance that it is the responsibility of the central government to come up with alternatives to the Henoko plan, and it would also undermine the long held stance by the Okinawan public against militarization since it would appear to engage Okinawa in military strategic planning.27 Moreover, if it also involved naming of alternative (or rotational) sites in other prefectures in Japan or within Okinawa, a backlash, similar to what the Hatoyama administration experienced in the recent past, would be inescapable.28 Questioned about this, one high ranking Okinawa prefectural official told the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project that the Onaga administration could not propose such an alternative plan as its own without support from the Okinawan public, and thus public discussion needs to begin. It remains to be seen whether and how the Onaga administration could promote such public discussion and it remains questionable whether the administration could make this new strategy meaningful. .

As the year 2018 began, the people of Okinawa nervously awaited the Onaga administration’s next action and many who oppose base construction are preparing their own next actions. In this, they share the view that they do their best to prevent the Japanese government from taking advantage of any emerging public discord, whether over the Onaga administration’s strategies, the proposed prefectural referendum, or the sincerity and seriousness of Governor Onaga’s pledge to fight the base construction. Many also believe that such public discord can be resolved only through effective action taken by the Onaga administration.

Can the Onaga administration and the people of Okinawa fight back?

An overwhelming majority of the people of Okinawa oppose base construction at Henoko-Oura Bay. The most recent opinion poll conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo (in September 2017) shows that 80 percent of people aged 18 years or older oppose base construction and only 14 percent approve it.29 In response, the Onaga administration asks the people of Okinawa to understand that it is doing its best to stop it while arguing that its overall strategy has slowed down construction and will work in the end to stop it. It is painfully obvious, however, that, after the supreme court’s ruling against Governor Onaga’s withdrawal of the land reclamation permit, the Onaga administration’s strategy has failed to stop contruction. Instead, both the Japanese and U.S. governments can point to the current state of construction work as a fait accompli, and claim that despite its strong anti-base construction rhetoric, the Onaga administration, by issuing permits, is actually supporting base construction.

If the Onaga administration is serious about stopping base construction and continuing fighting against the Japanese and U.S. governments with the support of the people of Okinawa, it has to take urgent action to thwart any claim that construction work is a fait accompli. It needs to reconsider its overall strategy and to take concrete steps towards the revocation of the land reclamation permit. In other words it must shift its focus to the main battle. Any delay in revoking the permit, including a referendum to support the Governor’s action, should be regarded as contrary to Governor Onaga’s pledge and to Okinawa’s 20-year struggle against the base construction.

The Onaga administration needs to refuse to issue any more permits relating to base construction and to revoke the ancillary permits it has issued so far. In other words it has to be smarter about how it conducts its lesser battles. For this, it should take a close look at how Nago City Mayor Inamine Susumu has used his mayoral power to stop base construction.30 In 2014, Mayor Inamine and Nago city officials engaged in a series of exchanges with the Okinawa Defense Bureau regarding the Bureau’s applications for consultation (kyogi sho) on its proposal for necessary changes to the original construction plans. Citing flaws in the applications, the Mayor and Nago city repeatedly demanded that the Bureau revise them. Eventually the Bureau withdrew one of its applications regarding the proposed changes to the diversion of the Mijya river running through Camp Schwab, a critical component of the base construction works.31 Since then, there has been no consultation between the Bureau and the Mayor and Nago city. The city has forced the state to stumble in its otherwise forceful rush towards base construction.

In order to engage in both main and lesser battles, the Onaga administration urgently needs to develop a coherent policy on base construction to which all sections of the Okinawa prefectural government are committed. Such policy should not be based on “standard practice” or narrowly defined responsibilities and duties in the tatewari gyosei of the prefectural government. It should be built upon Governor Onaga’s pledge and the voice of the people of Okinawa against the base construction as well as upon review of the impact of base construction on the environment of Henoko-Oura bay. Above all, it should be rooted in comprehensive and critical review of the position of all U.S. military bases on Okinawa.32

Most importantly, the Onaga administration has to make sure that the way it challenges base construction is transparent and maximizes collaboration with the Okinawan public, especially those who have opposed the construction and who possess expert knowledge in the fields of civil engineering, public administration, law, the environment, and strategies of internationalization.33

Only through such collaboration between the Onaga administration, officials of the prefectural government and the Okinawan and Japanese civil society and international support, can the construction of the U.S. military base at Henoko-Oura Bay be stopped.

Acknowledgement

I would like to express my appreciation to officials of the Okinawa prefectural government for providing valuable information through formal meetings and personal communication. I also express my appreciation to Gavan McCormack of Australian National University, Sato Manabu of Okinawa International University, Shimabukuro Jun of the University of Ryukyus, and Abe Mariko of the Nature Conservation Society of Japan for their advice and suggestions for this article. The sole responsibility for the content of the article lies with the author.

*

Hideki Yoshikawa is an anthropologist who teaches at Meio University and the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa. He is the International director of the Save the Dugong Campaign Center and Director of the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project.

Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor of Australian National University and an editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal. 

Notes

1Henoko koji Okinawa ken ga okuko no shiyo o kyoka Onaga kensei de hatsuka Umikara sekizai unpane [Henoko construction work: Okinawa prefectural government issued use-permit for Oku port; it is the first such permit issued under Onaga prefectural administration. Stone materials will be sea transported],” The Okinawa Times, November 3, 2017.

2Considering revoking the permission to use Oku Port of the new Henoko base construction,” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 16, 2017.

3The Ryukyu Shimpo published a full statement and a full transcript of a press conference by Governor Onaga in its November 15 publication. See “Okuko kara no kaijyo hannyu ‘Aratana jitai ga detekitteiru’ [Sea-transportation from Oku port; a new situation has emerged],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 15, 2017.

4’Minato o kyoko shiyo’ kunigamison okuku ga chushi yosei boeikyoku ha ‘kenni kyoka eta’ [‘The port forcefully used’; the Oku community of Higashi village demands a halt to the use of port; the Defense Bureau claims ‘it has obtained permission from the prefectural government’],” The Okinawa Times, November 28, 2017.

5Okinawa in tight spot as top court sides with gov’t in Henoko reclamation case,” The Mainichi. December 21, 2016. 

6More seawall construction at site of new US base despite presence of endangered coral,” The Mainichi,November 6, 2017.

7Oku shiyo kyoka shimindantai ga tekkai wo yosei Yamashiro shi ra chiji wo hihan [Civil groups request withdrawal of use-permit for Oku port; Mr. Yamashiro and others criticize Governor],” The Okinawa Times, November 16, 2017.

8Kunigami Oku ko shiyo ni ku ga hantai ketsugi Henoko shinkichi eno sekizai hanshutsu [Oku community adopted a resolution against use of Oku port in Kunigami for transport of stone materials for Henoko new base construction],” The Okinawa Time, November 24, 2017.

9’Oku ko no shiyo torikeshi wo’ Oku kumin ga ken ni yosei [‘ Withdraw use permit!’ People of Oku community request prefectural government],” The Okinawa Times, November 28, 2017. 

10Considering revoking the permission to use Oku Port of the new Henoko base construction,” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 16, 2017.

11Motobu cho ga shiyo wo kyoka Henoko shinkichi heno sekizai hanso de shiyo kikan ha 12 nichi kara 31 nichi [Motobu Town allows use of Motobu port for transport of stone materials for Henoko new base from 12th through 31st],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, December 12, 2017.

12Koyama, Kentaro, “U.S. aircraft part falls on nursery roof, sparks outcry,” The Asahi Shimbun, December 8, 2017.

13Window falls from U.S. military chopper onto Okinawa school grounds,” Kyodo News, December 13, 2017.

14Yoshikawa, Hideki, “Seawall Construction on Oura Bay: Internationalizing the Okinawa Struggle,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, June 1, 2017, Volume 15 | Issue 11 | Number 1

15Okinawa files new legal battle over U.S. airfield off Henoko,” The Asahi Shimbun, July 25, 2017.

16Okuko kara no kaijyo hannyu ‘Aratana jitai ga detekitteiru’ [Sea-transportation from Oku Port, A new situation has emerged],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 15, 2017.

17For discussion on the Central government’ control over local governments and the tatewari gyosei, see McVeigh, Brian J. (1998/2013), The Nature of the Japanese State: Rationality and Rituality, Nissan Institute/ Routledge Japanese Studies Series, Routledge.

18The website of Henoko Base Construction Countermeasures Division Executive Office provides information mainly in Japanese on how the prefectural government fights the base construction. 

19In a letter sent to Governor Onaga on December 28, 2017, the Nature Conservation Society of Japan requests the Governor to revoke the land reclamation permit. The letter outlines environmental impacts from base construction including loss of sea grass beds, feeding grounds for dugongs, and alteration of the sea floor from more than 500 concretes blocks placed in Oura Bay. It also points out that ships transporting landfill materials from Oku and Motobu ports to Henoko-Oura Bay are in violation of the conditions on which former Governor Nakaima granted land reclamation permission because they operate in dugongs’ habitats.

20See “2018nen Okinawa chijisen to dojitsu jishi? Shinkichi sanpi tou ‘kenmin tohyo” kento, kengikaiyoto no nerai [Ruling party prefectural assembly members consider prefectural referendum at the same time as 2018 gubernatorial election], The Okinawa Times, December 23, 2017.

See also “Henoko kenmin tohyo de sanpi chijisen doujitsu osoi [yes or no; prefectural referendum to be held on the same day as gubernatorial election; it would be too late],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, December 26, 2017.

Ben Arakaki and Satoko Norimatsu debated the pros and cons of such a referendum in The Okinawa Times between March and May 2017.

21Henoko shin kichi: ‘kenmin tohyo ni nigeruna’ Yamashiro gicho ga Onaga chiji ni kugi [‘Don’t seek help in prefectural referendum’ chairperson Yamashiro warns Governor Onaga],” The Okinawa Times, December 26, 2017.

22See Governor Onaga’s statement and press conference transcript in “Okuko kara no kaijyo hannyu ‘Aratana jitai ga detekitteiru’ [Sea-transportation from Oku port; a new situation has emerged],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 15, 2017.

23Henoko no daitai an okinawa ken ga chakushu futenma heisa e dokuji an [Okinawa prefecture began to develop alternatives for Henoko plan: own plans to close Futenma],” The Okinawa Times, January 1, 2018.

For the U.S. and Japanese governments’ insistence on the Henoko Plan, see the transcript of the joint press conference held by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Defense Minister Inada Tomomi in February 2017.

24See, for example, “Zenkoku chiji anketo: Okinawa no kichifutan keigen ni shokyoku teki [Survey on governors of Japan: Unwilling to help reduce the burden of U.S. military bases in Okinawa],” The Mainichi Shimbun, December 13, 2017.

25Yanagisawa Kyoji, Yara Tomoharu, Handa Shigeru, and Sado Akihiro, A New Vision for Okinawa and Asia-Pacific Security: A Recommendation from the New Diplomacy Initiative (ND) (Tokyo: New Diplomacy Initiative, February 2017). 

26Nakasone Isamu, “’Koji susumu henoko shinkichi; ‘daitai’ an teiji no shini ha nanika [Henoko new base construction underway; What is the real purpose of (proposing) an ‘alternative’ plan?],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, January 10, 2018.

27See Kihara Satoru “Onaga chiji no henoko daitai an ha gongo dodan [Governor Onaga proposing an alternative to the Henoko plan is deplorable]” at his blog site.

I am thankful to Gavan McCormack, Satoko Norimatsu, and Steve Rabson for their discussion of this issue.

28McCormack, Gavan and Norimatsu Oka Satoko, “Chapter 6 The Hatoyama Revolt” in Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2012).

29Recent poll shows 72 % of Okinawans deem the Osprey “dangerous” as 68% suggest withdrawal,” The Ryukyu Shimpo, September 28, 2017.

30For information on the Nago Mayor’s administrative power to stop base construction, see this Diet Questions document (shitsumon shuisho) submitted in January 2014 by Diet House of Representative Member Kantoku Teruya here.

31For information on the exchange between the Nago City Mayor’s Office and Okinawa Defense Bureau, see this document provided at the website of the Nago City Office. 

32See Sato Manabu, “’Henoko soshi no housaku’ Anpo no jijitsu hattshin wo ‘jinken’ shucho dewa todokazu [Strategies to stop Henoko; spread facts about the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty; “human rights issues” are not enough],” November 24, 2017. The Ryukyu Shimpo.

33With the help of environmental NGOs, the Okinawa prefectural government is in contact with the International Union for Conservation of Nature regarding the base construction at Henoko-Oura Bay. See Governor Onaga’s letter to IUCN Director Inger Anderson, here.

Also, the Okinawa prefectural government exchanges information with U.S. and Japanese NGOs involved in the “dugong case” in the U.S. federal court after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruled in August 2017 against the U.S. Department of Defense.

See “’Shinkichi kensetsu soshi de renkei o’ jyugon sosho beigawa bengo danga kento kyodo kakunin [‘Collaborate to stop new base construction’ U.S. plaintiff group and Okinawa prefectural government confirm their collaboration],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 29, 2017.

See Helen Christophi, “9th Circuit Revives Fight for Endangered Dugong on Okinawa,” The Courthousenews, August 21, 2017.

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Introduction

The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus is pleased to present Hideki Yoshikawa’s account of recent developments in the ongoing (20-year) contest between the people and government of Okinawa and the governments of the United States and Japan.

Readers of this journal will be well aware of the general tenor of this struggle, of the reversal of his anti-base construction stance by then Governor Nakaima in December 2013, allowing the national government to commence works to reclaim part of Oura Bay in Northern Okinawa (offshore from Henoko) for base construction. Ten months later, in December 2014, an aroused electorate dismissed Nakaima from office and delivered the Governorship (by a massive, 100,000 vote majority) to an avowed opponent of the reclamation/base construction plan, Onaga Takeshi. Another ten months followed before Onaga duly (in October 2015) “cancelled” (torikeshi) the reclamation license.

From November 2015, the dispute was subjected to a series of judicial and semi-judicial actions. Works were suspended for one year from March 2016, but the main proceedings issued in a December 2016 Supreme Court ruling that found against the prefecture. The Governor thereupon “cancelled” (torikeshi) his original cancelation order, and site works resumed in April 2017. The prefecture launched a related suit in the Naha District Court July 2017 seeking a suspension of the Bay works, but as of January 2018 no judgment has yet issued.

Over the past year, Governor Onaga has many times spoken of his intent to rescind (tekkai) the December 2013 reclamation permit (i.e., going beyond his October 2015 “cancellation,” which he cancelled in December 2016). There is no question that he has such power, although there is also no question that its exercise would be subject to immediate judicial challenge by the national government. Consequently it is understandable that he should choose with great care how and when to exercise it.

However, while almost one year has now passed without any sign of Onaga actually implementing his tekkai promise, daily hundreds of truckloads of material are delivered to the Oura bay construction site, and from late 2017 that daily convoy has been supplemented by shipments from Oku port, in the far north of Okinawa Island. Governor Onaga issued a permit for that, and then in December issued similar permits for use of facilities at two other ports, Nakagusuku and Motobu.

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Map of Okinawa showing route of land-fill materials, Source: Hideki Yoshikawa

Relying on dump-truck delivery of materials, and assuming a delivery rate of about 175 trucks per day (the rate as of late December 2017), to deliver the necessary three million tons would take a staggering 46 years, and only then, upon such a site, could actual base construction commence. So the government is intent on speeding up the works, either by massively increasing the tempo of road transport delivery or by resort to delivery by sea, or more likely both. The sea delivery has the great advantage from the government view of being more difficult for citizens to block. Either way, the process threatens to overwhelm the infrastructure of Okinawa’s north.

With the Onaga Prefectural government seemingly engaging in endless procrastination, and the national government, through the Okinawan Defense Bureau, steadily stepping up the tempo of sea-wall construction works, uncertainty spreads within the Okinawan anti-base movement. Could it be that Governor Onaga is going to betray them (as most believe his predecessor, Nakaima, did in December 2013? How credible is Onaga’s stance, as a supporter of the US-Japan Security Treaty and the Okinawa base system who opposes only the specific Henoko project and the deployment of the Osprey? Is he, despite the confusing signals he issues, engaged on a complex but consistent strategy to achieve the main goal – stopping Henoko?

On 4 February, Okinawan voters go to the polls in Nago City to elect a new mayor. In 2010, they chose Inamine Susumu, on a platform of “no new base on land or sea within Nago City.” They re-elected him in 2014 and now he seeks a third term. He has proven a major thorn in the side of government construction plans, so the Abe government attaches a high priority to defeating him. The national government, along with the LDP and Komeito party organizations, have pledged full backing to his opponent, Toguchi Taketoyo. Anywhere else but Okinawa it would be unimaginable that the central government would interfere so blatantly to promote its candidate in a local government election. As part of this intervention, the Chief Cabinet Secretary recently held meetings with heads of various Nago City wards (Henoko, Kushi, and Toyohara) and Higashi and Kunigami Villages, bypassing the city administration in an attempt to subject the city to national government control. Moreover, from 2015 it has been making significant subsidy payments to these districts, rising from 39 million yen in 2015 to 120 million yen for 2018) to try to ensure defeat of Inamine and the city’s submission. This was surely in breach of the constitution’s clauses on regional self-government. Meanwhile the national government reduces each year the regular budgetary allocation to Okinawa prefecture, plainly to punish Governor Onaga for his non-cooperation.

Apart from the ongoing turmoil due to the Henoko-Oura Bay base construction project, Okinawans continue to suffer the depredations of night and day helicopter and Osprey flights, often over residential areas, at intolerable noise levels, and occasionally sending fully armed forces on parachute drops or (December 2017) accidentally dropping potentially lethal objects in the vicinity of houses and schools. They do not forget the periodic base personnel-related road accidents, sometimes causing death, or the sexual assaults, most notoriously the rape-murder of April 2016. The Abe government’s defense and security policies exact a heavy toll on them. They continue to resist.

Yoshikawa here presents a detailed account of the Henoko-Oura Bay issue as of January 2018. (GMcC)

What is happening with the Onaga Administration?

As the year 2018 began in earnest, the people of Okinawa are trying to figure out where their Governor, Onaga Takeshi, is taking them in their fight against the construction of a U.S. military base in Henoko-Oura Bay in the north of Okinawa island. On November 3, 2017, the Okinawa Times reported that Governor Onaga had in September, behind closed doors, issued a permit to companies under contract to the Okinawa Defense Bureau to use Oku port in the north of Okinawa Island for transport of materials for base construction.1 With the permit in hand, the Okinawa Defense Bureau has moved to accelerate its construction work, transporting landfill materials from Oku port to Henoko-Oura Bay by sea, thus avoiding protesters’ road blockage on the land.

The report surprised, confused, and angered many people in Okinawa because it contradicted the Governor’s pledge that he would do all in his power to stop the base construction. Many contend that the Governor should instead have used his discretionary power to refuse to issue the permit.

In response, Onaga reiterated his “everything in my power” pledge, provided explanations, and to placate the rising tide of criticism, indicated that it is now “considering revoking the permit.”2 However, a growing number of people are questioning whether Governor Onaga is sincere about his pledge, and they call on the Okinawa prefectural government to take immediate action to rectify the situation.

What is happening with the Onaga administration? How are the people of Okinawa reacting to this unsettling situation? Will they continue to resist the base construction? The following offers an analysis of recent developments in Okinawa.

Explanations by the Onaga Administration

According to a statement issued by the Governor and a transcript of a press conference held on November 15,3 the Onaga administration and the prefectural government decided to issue the permit because, upon review of the applications received in June, they could find no flaws. Consulting with their legal advisers, they concluded that they needed to adhere to the principles of fair and equal application of laws and exercise of administrative discretion and that they could not deviate from the “standard practices” of prefectural governments’ issuing use-permits even though these particular applications were for U.S. military base construction. Governor Onaga stressed that his government had taken extra time, a few months instead of the usual two weeks, to review the application.

Governor Onaga also claimed that the permit, issued under the Port and Harbor Act, pertained only to the keeping of landfill materials and the berthing of ships at the port, not to transport of landfill materials from the port by sea. He stressed that for transport by sea from the port of such landfill materials, the companies and the Okinawa Defense Bureau should have applied for a separate permit under the Land Reclamation Act, indicating that the Bureau and companies were in breach of the Act. On November 15, the same day Governor Onaga held a press conference, his administration sent a letter to the Bureau requesting it to stop transporting landfill materials by sea.

K-1 and N-5 Seawall Construction, © Yamamoto Hideo

Seawall construction at K-1, N-5 and K-9 as of early January 2018. Red lines indicate that seawall construction is under way. Source: Hideki Yoshikawa

The Okinawa Defense Bureau, however, repudiated the Governor’s claims. It insists that the land reclamation permit which was issued by former Governor Nakaima Hirokazu in December 2013 enabled the Defense Bureau to transport landfill materials by sea from Oku port to Henoko-Oura Bay.4 They noted that Governor Onaga had lost his lawsuit in the Japanese Supreme Court in December 2016 over his withdrawal (torikeshi) of the land reclamation permit.5

Meanwhile, a high-ranking prefectural official told the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project that the Onaga administration and its lawyers were concerned that a refusal to issue a permit would be construed as a failure to comply with the law and administrative duty. The official explained that the Onaga administration had decided that any action that could be deemed unlawful should be avoided, especially because the prefectural government is already in court battling the Japanese government over the issue of a reef-crushing permit (see below). Such concerns outweighed those over possible public backlash that the Onaga administration would face over issuing the permit.

The official acknowledged, however, that not consulting with the people of the Oku district prior to making its decisions, and not publically disclosing the information on the issuance of the permit in a timely manner, were mistakes and that the Okinawa prefectural government needed to rectify the situation. On November 14, 2017, 10 days after the Okinawa Times’ report on the issuance of the permit, the Okinawa prefectural government held a formal meeting with the people of the Oku district and on the very next day, Governor Onaga issued the above-mentioned statement, explaining its actions and asking for understanding from the Okinawan public.

Patience, Anger, and Doubt: Local Reactions and Moves by the Onaga Administration

When the Okinawa Times report on the issuance of the permit came out at the beginning of November, the Japanese government was starting construction of the N-1 and D-5 seawalls. Since the Onaga administration vehemently condemned the start of new seawall construction,6 people in Okinawa were surprised and confused by the report. However, two contrasting reactions have been manifest among the Okinawan public.

Staunch supporters of Governor Onaga remain willing to accept the Onaga administration’s explanations for issuance of the permit. Seeing the administration’s actions as tactical they hold to the view that his administration government will prevail in the end to stop the construction. They argue that if the people of Okinawa do not support the Onaga administration’s actions and explanations, it would mean the negation of their 20-years of struggle against base construction.

On the other hand, a growing number of people feel angry and betrayed. Many now question whether Governor Onaga and his government are sincere and serious about stopping the base construction. These reactions are evident especially among protesters who are already weary from daily protests, continuing now for years, at Camp Schwab and Henoko-Oura Bay, as they now have to head off also to the distant port of Oku.

Protesters at Oku Port, © Kitaueda Tsuyoshi 

In this context, the actions taken by two prominent supporters of Governor Onaga and of the anti-base construction movement are significant. Yamashiro Hiroji, chair of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, demanded an emergency meeting with the prefectural government. At that meting, held in on November 15, he openly criticized Governor Onaga for breaking his pledge. He demanded that Onaga “stop talking” and withdraw the permit for use of Oku port.7

Yamauchi Tokushin, a former national Diet member and symbolic figure in Okinawa’s peace movement over decades who was also present at the November 15 meeting, on November 29 wrote a sharply critical article for the Okinawa Times blaming prefectural government officials for ill-advising the Governor on the issuance of the permit. Criticizing the prefectural officials for acting as if they were “petty officials from the Japanese government,” he demanded that the prefecture revoke the permit.

Meanwhile, on November 23, the Oku District Association adopted a resolution opposing use of the port by the Okinawa Defense Bureau.8 On November 28, the Association sent a delegation to the Okinawa Defense Bureau to protest, and in response the Bureau temporarily suspended the sea transport of landfill materials from the port. The Association aso sent a delegation to the prefectural government to demand that it withdraw the permit.9

Facing anger, doubt, and criticism from the Okinawan public, the Onaga administration has announced that it is “considering” revoking the permit for use of Oku port, reiterating that Governor Onaga is committed to stopping the base construction.x So far, however (as of mid-January 2018), it has taken no such action.

Instead, on December 7, the Onaga administration issued another permit to the Okinawa Defense Bureau for the use of Nakagusuku port by tugboats accompanying ships from Oku port to Henoko-Oura Bay. Following the Onaga administration’s issuance of these permits, on December 11, Mayor Takara Fumio of Motobu Town in northern Okinawa also issued a permit for the Defense Bureau to use the port of Motobu.11 Both the Onaga administration and Mayor Takara provided the same explanations as had been given earlier by the Onaga administration: they had reviewed and found no flaws in the companies’ applications and they needed to adhere to the principles of fair and equal application of the law and exercise of administrative discretion.

With the issuance of those new permits, the negative public sentiment towards the Onaga administration might have been expected to intensify. However, two U.S. military aircraft-related incidents distracted the Okinawan public. On December 7, a small cylindrical object belonging to the U.S. military fell on the roof of a nursery school with school children playing in the school garden as a U.S. military aircraft flew over the area.12 On December 13, 2017, a window from a U.S. military helicopter fell on the grounds of an elementary school while students were taking physical education class.13 Both the nursery school and elementary school are located near the U.S. Marine Corp’s Futenma Air Station, the very military base that the construction at Henoko-Oura Bay is planned to replace. As Governor Onaga quickly condemned the U.S. military for the accidents, public sentiment to press his administration over the issuance of the permits was deflected.

As of January 17, 2018, the Okinawa Defense Bureau is transporting landfill materials from the port of Motobu to Henoko-Oura Bay, while remaining ready to resume transport operations at the port of Oku, and, however limited the Onaga administration may claim it is, seawall construction is underway. What is one to make of this situation?

Querying the Onaga Administration’s Strategy

It can be argued that the Onaga administration’s issuance of the permits was a consequence of two things: its own overall (unwise) strategic decisions in the fight against base construction on the one hand and the way the Japanese government has been able to take advantage of its strategic errors on the other.

As discussed in an earlier paper,14 having lost its supreme court battle against the Japanese government over Governor Onaga’s withdrawal (torikeshi) of the land reclamation permit, the Onaga administration chose to fight in “lesser battles” first, only then moving on to the main battle over the land reclamation permit. Lesser battles are to be (or have been) fought with Governor Onaga’s administrative power over the issuance of (ancillary) permits for coral reef crushing, coral transplant, changes to the reclamation and construction plans, and so forth. The main battle remains to be fought over Governor Onaga’s administrative power to revoke (tekkai) the land reclamation permit. Issued by former Okinawa Governor Nakaima in 2013, suspended in 2015 and reinstated following the Supreme Court ruling in 2016, the land reclamation permit provides the principal legal ground for land reclamation work and thus for base construction.

It appears that the Onaga administration assumed that the lesser battles could slow construction work and provide legal and moral grounds that could be used against the Japanese government when Governor Onaga finally revokes the land reclamation permit. Perhaps it still hopes at least for this delay effect.

The Japanese government, however, has been able to turn the Onaga administration’s strategies against it. When the Onaga administration prepared to take the Okinawa Defense Bureau into an administrative battle over the reef-crushing permit in April 2017, claiming that the Okinawa Defense Bureau needed a permit from Governor Onaga, the Japanese government simply dismissed those claims. Having persuaded the local fishermen’s association to renounce their fishing rights to Henoko-Oura Bay, the government insisted that it was not necessary to obtain any permit from the Governor. The Okinawa Defense Bureau then began seawall construction in April 2017.

This situation forced the Onaga administration to file a suit in the Naha District Court against the Japanese government in July 2017.15 That suit has in turn placed the Onaga administration in a bewildering situation. Now the burden of proof rests on the prefecture to show that the Japanese government has violated prefectural ordinances and regulations. In the Japanese system of government, this is extremely difficult, and it appears to be exhausting the Onaga administration and the prefectural government.

As mentioned above, many within the Onaga administration feel that to engage in a court battle the Okinawa prefectural government must present itself to the court as a thoroughly law-abiding entity. Thus, when the Okinawa Defense Bureau applied for ancillary permits such as to use the ports of Oku and Nakagusuku, to transplant corals, and to conduct a survey in Henoko-Oura Bay, the Onaga administration and prefectural government believed they had no choice but to review the applications and, provided there were no flaws, grant the permits.16 As a kind of delaying tactic, they sent inquiry letters and directives demanding information and explanation to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, but such tactics had very limited effect.

It can also be argued that the Onaga administration’s strategy undermined its own efforts, facilitating the “tatewari gyosei” (“vertically compartmentalized administration”) of the Okinawa prefectural government to its detriment. As with any local government bureaucracy in Japan,17 different sections of the Okinawa prefectural governments are often influenced more by their counterpart ministries of the central government than by other sections of the prefectural government. Co-ordination among different sections of the prefectural government is also often minimal and there is a tendency among officials not to intervene in the affairs of other sections. To counteract these bureaucratic tendencies in its fight against base construction, the Onaga administration created in June 2015 the Henoko Base Construction Countermeasures Division Executive Office within the Governor’s Office.18 The Henoko Executive Office is staffed by members of different departments including the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction and the Department of Environment.

However, the Onaga administration’s strategy to fight lesser (thus compartmentalized) battles first has rendered the tatewari gyosei a de facto mode of operation. Rather than giving top priority to the Onaga administration’s basic “No” stance against construction, each section of the prefectural government has tended to operate in accordance with its narrowly defined responsibilities and duties. Thus, when the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, the principal department in charge of issuing use permits for ports, finally decided to issue permits for the ports of Oku and Nakagusuku in the name of Governor Onaga, important environmental issues were barely taken into consideration. Despite the fact that environmental impacts from base construction have been observed and there have been violations of environmental conditions on which former Governor Nakaima approved the land reclamation in 2013,19 and even though there could have been sufficient reasons for Governor Onaga to revoke (tekkai) the land reclamation permit, these environmental issues were seen as falling outside the administrative responsibilities of the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction reviewing the applications for port use.

Against this backdrop of the Onaga administration’s tactics and the Japanese government’s counter maneuvering, there has been a resurgence of calls for a prefectural referendum to be held to help push Governor Onaga to revoke the land reclamation permit, in other words to engage in the main battle.20 The proponents of such a referendum insist that a prefectural referendum opposing the base construction at Henoko-Oura Bay would provide Governor Onaga with a strong legal foothold in a likely lawsuit filed by the Japanese government against the Governor, and argue that the Governor cannot, or should not, revoke the permit without public backing demonstrated by such a referendum. They have proposed a referendum to be held at the same time as the gubernatorial election scheduled for November 2018.

Others have argued however that the people of Okinawa in 2014 elected Governor Onaga to revoke the land reclamation permit and he has reason to do so without a referendum. They insist that a referendum would be time consuming and require a great deal of effort, and given the present state of the base construction the Governor and the people of Okinawa have neither time nor energy to spare. Some even go further to argue that such referendum would give the Governor an excuse to postpone revocation of the land reclamation permit.21

Governor Onaga and his administration have not taken a stance on the referendum proposal. Nor have they indicated when or how the Governor will use his power to revoke the land reclamation permit. While insisting that the Governor will revoke it at an appropriate time, they tightly guard information on what many consider as the Governor’s last resort strategy, fearing that the Japanese government will take advantage of whatever information comes available.22

Meanwhile, it is reported that the Onaga administration is preparing to propose its own alternative plan to close Futenma Air Station, aiming to challenge the Japanese and U.S. governments’ insistence that “the relocation [of Futenma] to Henoko is the only solution.”23 This latest move can also be understood as a manifestation of the Onaga administration’s frustration with the fact that, while stressing the importance of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, most governors of Japan’s other prefectures are unwilling to host (or even discuss hosting) U.S. military bases or training in their prefectures. In other words, they persist in “free riding” on the US-Japan Security Treaty at Okinawa’s expense.24 The Onaga administration’s alternative plan likely incorporates the recommendation laid out by the Tokyo and Washington-based think-tank, “New Diplomacy Initiative,” which calls for development of a “new rotational system” for the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in the Pacific.25 Apparently, the Onaga administration is contemplating presenting its alternative plan during Governor Onaga’s visit to Washington D.C. in March 2018.

Governor Onaga addressing the United Nations, © Hideki Yoshikawa

Many in Okinawa seem to have been unable to form an opinion about the Onaga administration’s latest move as it has provided no details on the alternative plan. Others argue that this late move is a waste of time and energy as they see that it alone would have no impact on the Japanese and U.S. governments. Still others criticize the whole idea as just a way for the Onaga administration to distract the attention of the Okinawan public from the fact that it has not taken effective action, including revoking the land reclamation permit, to stop base construction.26

By proposing such an alternative plan as its own for whatever reason, the Onaga administration would be bound to face more problems. Such an action would contradict the Governor’s previous stance that it is the responsibility of the central government to come up with alternatives to the Henoko plan, and it would also undermine the long held stance by the Okinawan public against militarization since it would appear to engage Okinawa in military strategic planning.27 Moreover, if it also involved naming of alternative (or rotational) sites in other prefectures in Japan or within Okinawa, a backlash, similar to what the Hatoyama administration experienced in the recent past, would be inescapable.28 Questioned about this, one high ranking Okinawa prefectural official told the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project that the Onaga administration could not propose such an alternative plan as its own without support from the Okinawan public, and thus public discussion needs to begin. It remains to be seen whether and how the Onaga administration could promote such public discussion and it remains questionable whether the administration could make this new strategy meaningful. .

As the year 2018 began, the people of Okinawa nervously awaited the Onaga administration’s next action and many who oppose base construction are preparing their own next actions. In this, they share the view that they do their best to prevent the Japanese government from taking advantage of any emerging public discord, whether over the Onaga administration’s strategies, the proposed prefectural referendum, or the sincerity and seriousness of Governor Onaga’s pledge to fight the base construction. Many also believe that such public discord can be resolved only through effective action taken by the Onaga administration.

Can the Onaga administration and the people of Okinawa fight back?

An overwhelming majority of the people of Okinawa oppose base construction at Henoko-Oura Bay. The most recent opinion poll conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo (in September 2017) shows that 80 percent of people aged 18 years or older oppose base construction and only 14 percent approve it.29 In response, the Onaga administration asks the people of Okinawa to understand that it is doing its best to stop it while arguing that its overall strategy has slowed down construction and will work in the end to stop it. It is painfully obvious, however, that, after the supreme court’s ruling against Governor Onaga’s withdrawal of the land reclamation permit, the Onaga administration’s strategy has failed to stop contruction. Instead, both the Japanese and U.S. governments can point to the current state of construction work as a fait accompli, and claim that despite its strong anti-base construction rhetoric, the Onaga administration, by issuing permits, is actually supporting base construction.

If the Onaga administration is serious about stopping base construction and continuing fighting against the Japanese and U.S. governments with the support of the people of Okinawa, it has to take urgent action to thwart any claim that construction work is a fait accompli. It needs to reconsider its overall strategy and to take concrete steps towards the revocation of the land reclamation permit. In other words it must shift its focus to the main battle. Any delay in revoking the permit, including a referendum to support the Governor’s action, should be regarded as contrary to Governor Onaga’s pledge and to Okinawa’s 20-year struggle against the base construction.

The Onaga administration needs to refuse to issue any more permits relating to base construction and to revoke the ancillary permits it has issued so far. In other words it has to be smarter about how it conducts its lesser battles. For this, it should take a close look at how Nago City Mayor Inamine Susumu has used his mayoral power to stop base construction.30 In 2014, Mayor Inamine and Nago city officials engaged in a series of exchanges with the Okinawa Defense Bureau regarding the Bureau’s applications for consultation (kyogi sho) on its proposal for necessary changes to the original construction plans. Citing flaws in the applications, the Mayor and Nago city repeatedly demanded that the Bureau revise them. Eventually the Bureau withdrew one of its applications regarding the proposed changes to the diversion of the Mijya river running through Camp Schwab, a critical component of the base construction works.31 Since then, there has been no consultation between the Bureau and the Mayor and Nago city. The city has forced the state to stumble in its otherwise forceful rush towards base construction.

In order to engage in both main and lesser battles, the Onaga administration urgently needs to develop a coherent policy on base construction to which all sections of the Okinawa prefectural government are committed. Such policy should not be based on “standard practice” or narrowly defined responsibilities and duties in the tatewari gyosei of the prefectural government. It should be built upon Governor Onaga’s pledge and the voice of the people of Okinawa against the base construction as well as upon review of the impact of base construction on the environment of Henoko-Oura bay. Above all, it should be rooted in comprehensive and critical review of the position of all U.S. military bases on Okinawa.32

Most importantly, the Onaga administration has to make sure that the way it challenges base construction is transparent and maximizes collaboration with the Okinawan public, especially those who have opposed the construction and who possess expert knowledge in the fields of civil engineering, public administration, law, the environment, and strategies of internationalization.33

Only through such collaboration between the Onaga administration, officials of the prefectural government and the Okinawan and Japanese civil society and international support, can the construction of the U.S. military base at Henoko-Oura Bay be stopped.

Acknowledgement

I would like to express my appreciation to officials of the Okinawa prefectural government for providing valuable information through formal meetings and personal communication. I also express my appreciation to Gavan McCormack of Australian National University, Sato Manabu of Okinawa International University, Shimabukuro Jun of the University of Ryukyus, and Abe Mariko of the Nature Conservation Society of Japan for their advice and suggestions for this article. The sole responsibility for the content of the article lies with the author.

*

Hideki Yoshikawa is an anthropologist who teaches at Meio University and the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa. He is the International director of the Save the Dugong Campaign Center and Director of the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project.

Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor of Australian National University and an editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal. 

Notes

1Henoko koji Okinawa ken ga okuko no shiyo o kyoka Onaga kensei de hatsuka Umikara sekizai unpane [Henoko construction work: Okinawa prefectural government issued use-permit for Oku port; it is the first such permit issued under Onaga prefectural administration. Stone materials will be sea transported],” The Okinawa Times, November 3, 2017.

2Considering revoking the permission to use Oku Port of the new Henoko base construction,” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 16, 2017.

3The Ryukyu Shimpo published a full statement and a full transcript of a press conference by Governor Onaga in its November 15 publication. See “Okuko kara no kaijyo hannyu ‘Aratana jitai ga detekitteiru’ [Sea-transportation from Oku port; a new situation has emerged],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 15, 2017.

4’Minato o kyoko shiyo’ kunigamison okuku ga chushi yosei boeikyoku ha ‘kenni kyoka eta’ [‘The port forcefully used’; the Oku community of Higashi village demands a halt to the use of port; the Defense Bureau claims ‘it has obtained permission from the prefectural government’],” The Okinawa Times, November 28, 2017.

5Okinawa in tight spot as top court sides with gov’t in Henoko reclamation case,” The Mainichi. December 21, 2016. 

6More seawall construction at site of new US base despite presence of endangered coral,” The Mainichi,November 6, 2017.

7Oku shiyo kyoka shimindantai ga tekkai wo yosei Yamashiro shi ra chiji wo hihan [Civil groups request withdrawal of use-permit for Oku port; Mr. Yamashiro and others criticize Governor],” The Okinawa Times, November 16, 2017.

8Kunigami Oku ko shiyo ni ku ga hantai ketsugi Henoko shinkichi eno sekizai hanshutsu [Oku community adopted a resolution against use of Oku port in Kunigami for transport of stone materials for Henoko new base construction],” The Okinawa Time, November 24, 2017.

9’Oku ko no shiyo torikeshi wo’ Oku kumin ga ken ni yosei [‘ Withdraw use permit!’ People of Oku community request prefectural government],” The Okinawa Times, November 28, 2017. 

10Considering revoking the permission to use Oku Port of the new Henoko base construction,” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 16, 2017.

11Motobu cho ga shiyo wo kyoka Henoko shinkichi heno sekizai hanso de shiyo kikan ha 12 nichi kara 31 nichi [Motobu Town allows use of Motobu port for transport of stone materials for Henoko new base from 12th through 31st],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, December 12, 2017.

12Koyama, Kentaro, “U.S. aircraft part falls on nursery roof, sparks outcry,” The Asahi Shimbun, December 8, 2017.

13Window falls from U.S. military chopper onto Okinawa school grounds,” Kyodo News, December 13, 2017.

14Yoshikawa, Hideki, “Seawall Construction on Oura Bay: Internationalizing the Okinawa Struggle,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, June 1, 2017, Volume 15 | Issue 11 | Number 1

15Okinawa files new legal battle over U.S. airfield off Henoko,” The Asahi Shimbun, July 25, 2017.

16Okuko kara no kaijyo hannyu ‘Aratana jitai ga detekitteiru’ [Sea-transportation from Oku Port, A new situation has emerged],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 15, 2017.

17For discussion on the Central government’ control over local governments and the tatewari gyosei, see McVeigh, Brian J. (1998/2013), The Nature of the Japanese State: Rationality and Rituality, Nissan Institute/ Routledge Japanese Studies Series, Routledge.

18The website of Henoko Base Construction Countermeasures Division Executive Office provides information mainly in Japanese on how the prefectural government fights the base construction. 

19In a letter sent to Governor Onaga on December 28, 2017, the Nature Conservation Society of Japan requests the Governor to revoke the land reclamation permit. The letter outlines environmental impacts from base construction including loss of sea grass beds, feeding grounds for dugongs, and alteration of the sea floor from more than 500 concretes blocks placed in Oura Bay. It also points out that ships transporting landfill materials from Oku and Motobu ports to Henoko-Oura Bay are in violation of the conditions on which former Governor Nakaima granted land reclamation permission because they operate in dugongs’ habitats.

20See “2018nen Okinawa chijisen to dojitsu jishi? Shinkichi sanpi tou ‘kenmin tohyo” kento, kengikaiyoto no nerai [Ruling party prefectural assembly members consider prefectural referendum at the same time as 2018 gubernatorial election], The Okinawa Times, December 23, 2017.

See also “Henoko kenmin tohyo de sanpi chijisen doujitsu osoi [yes or no; prefectural referendum to be held on the same day as gubernatorial election; it would be too late],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, December 26, 2017.

Ben Arakaki and Satoko Norimatsu debated the pros and cons of such a referendum in The Okinawa Times between March and May 2017.

21Henoko shin kichi: ‘kenmin tohyo ni nigeruna’ Yamashiro gicho ga Onaga chiji ni kugi [‘Don’t seek help in prefectural referendum’ chairperson Yamashiro warns Governor Onaga],” The Okinawa Times, December 26, 2017.

22See Governor Onaga’s statement and press conference transcript in “Okuko kara no kaijyo hannyu ‘Aratana jitai ga detekitteiru’ [Sea-transportation from Oku port; a new situation has emerged],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 15, 2017.

23Henoko no daitai an okinawa ken ga chakushu futenma heisa e dokuji an [Okinawa prefecture began to develop alternatives for Henoko plan: own plans to close Futenma],” The Okinawa Times, January 1, 2018.

For the U.S. and Japanese governments’ insistence on the Henoko Plan, see the transcript of the joint press conference held by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Defense Minister Inada Tomomi in February 2017.

24See, for example, “Zenkoku chiji anketo: Okinawa no kichifutan keigen ni shokyoku teki [Survey on governors of Japan: Unwilling to help reduce the burden of U.S. military bases in Okinawa],” The Mainichi Shimbun, December 13, 2017.

25Yanagisawa Kyoji, Yara Tomoharu, Handa Shigeru, and Sado Akihiro, A New Vision for Okinawa and Asia-Pacific Security: A Recommendation from the New Diplomacy Initiative (ND) (Tokyo: New Diplomacy Initiative, February 2017). 

26Nakasone Isamu, “’Koji susumu henoko shinkichi; ‘daitai’ an teiji no shini ha nanika [Henoko new base construction underway; What is the real purpose of (proposing) an ‘alternative’ plan?],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, January 10, 2018.

27See Kihara Satoru “Onaga chiji no henoko daitai an ha gongo dodan [Governor Onaga proposing an alternative to the Henoko plan is deplorable]” at his blog site.

I am thankful to Gavan McCormack, Satoko Norimatsu, and Steve Rabson for their discussion of this issue.

28McCormack, Gavan and Norimatsu Oka Satoko, “Chapter 6 The Hatoyama Revolt” in Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2012).

29Recent poll shows 72 % of Okinawans deem the Osprey “dangerous” as 68% suggest withdrawal,” The Ryukyu Shimpo, September 28, 2017.

30For information on the Nago Mayor’s administrative power to stop base construction, see this Diet Questions document (shitsumon shuisho) submitted in January 2014 by Diet House of Representative Member Kantoku Teruya here.

31For information on the exchange between the Nago City Mayor’s Office and Okinawa Defense Bureau, see this document provided at the website of the Nago City Office. 

32See Sato Manabu, “’Henoko soshi no housaku’ Anpo no jijitsu hattshin wo ‘jinken’ shucho dewa todokazu [Strategies to stop Henoko; spread facts about the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty; “human rights issues” are not enough],” November 24, 2017. The Ryukyu Shimpo.

33With the help of environmental NGOs, the Okinawa prefectural government is in contact with the International Union for Conservation of Nature regarding the base construction at Henoko-Oura Bay. See Governor Onaga’s letter to IUCN Director Inger Anderson, here.

Also, the Okinawa prefectural government exchanges information with U.S. and Japanese NGOs involved in the “dugong case” in the U.S. federal court after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruled in August 2017 against the U.S. Department of Defense.

See “’Shinkichi kensetsu soshi de renkei o’ jyugon sosho beigawa bengo danga kento kyodo kakunin [‘Collaborate to stop new base construction’ U.S. plaintiff group and Okinawa prefectural government confirm their collaboration],” The Ryukyu Shimpo, November 29, 2017.

See Helen Christophi, “9th Circuit Revives Fight for Endangered Dugong on Okinawa,” The Courthousenews, August 21, 2017.

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The Social and Economic Achievements of North Korea

January 22nd, 2018 by Carla Stea

This article first published in June 2017, refutes the mainstream media’s interpretation that North Korea, which was totally destroyed during the Korean war (1950-53) is a backward country and that its citizens live in a state of abysmal poverty.

“My conscience leaves me no other choice than to break the betrayal of my own silences…I know that the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.”  The Reverend Martin Luther King, Recipient of the Nobel Peace prize.

“The United Nations which was created to prevent the scourge of war has become an instrument of war.”  Former U.S Attorney General Ramsey Clark

Introduction

Washington, D.C.  White House tape recordings, April 25, 1971

President Nixon: “How many did we kill in Laos?”

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger: “In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen thousand”

President Nixon: “See the attack in the North Vietnam that we have in mind..power plants, whatever’s left, POL (Petroleum) the docks..and I think we ought to take the dikes out. Will that drown people?”

Kissinger: “About two hundred thousand people.”

Nixon: “I’d rather use the nuclear bomb.  Have you got that Henry?”

Kissinger: “That, I think, would just be too much.”

Nixon: “The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?  I just want you to think big for Christ sakes.”

May 2, 1972

Nixon: “America is not defeated.  We must not lose in Vietnam…The surgical operation theory is all right, but I want that place bombed to SMITHEREENS  If we draw the sword, we’re going to bomb those bastards all over the place.  Let it fly, let it fly.”

Former President Jimmy Carter: “More than any other nation in the world, the US has been involved in armed conflict and has used war as a means of resolving disputes…I listed 10 or 15 wars and I could have listed 10 or 15 more.  The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks at America as the No. 1 warmonger.  That we revert to armed conflict almost at the drop of a hat.”  (April 10, 2014).

***

Upon my return, on May 25, 2017 from the DPRK I was appalled by the totalitarian mind-set revealed by the fifteen members of the UN Security Council who supported the new Chapter VII  Resolution 2356, increasing the strangling sanctions against the DPRK, a heroic , progressive, admirable people desperately trying to defend themselves from any repetition of the barbaric slaughter inflicted upon their nation, with the criminal collusion of the UN Security Council, during the first Korean War, 1950-1953.  The unanimous support for the new sanctions by all 15 Security Council members is shameful.  All fifteen members of the Security Council, including the United States, know, categorically, that the DPRK will not attack another country unless they are attacked first, or provoked intolerably.

The United Nations is, once again, demonstrating that it is an annex of the US Pentagon.  It had seemed, with the Russian-Chinese veto of Chapter VII Resolutions against Syria, in recent years, that the UN had some dignity as an independent organization.   On June 2, the UN Security Council revealed that each and every member is under the thumb of the U.S., and willing to unleash a barbaric and criminal attack against a tiny Asian country that is a successful example of a socialist system, and still enduring, despite the criminal sanctions that have so far been inflicted upon that noble people by a racist society that still seeks to impose its will throughout the Eurasian continent.  As General MacArthur said, “the Pacific Ocean is an Anglo-Saxon lake.”

When the great statesman, Lakhdar Brahimi was asked why the United Nations premises and personnel are attacked, repeatedly, in recent years, Brahimi replied that the UN is no longer perceived as an impartial organization, but is now perceived as a party to disputes.  There is no more glaring example of the United Nations craven servility  to the United States dictate than the Security Council’s unanimous support of the viciously punitive sanctions against the DPRK, a country that must be described as a paradise for children, providing excellent, up-to-date health care and education, free of charge, an achievement that few western capitalist countries can demonstrate.

Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, asserted that

“A lie told one thousand times becomes accepted as truth.”

The way the West portrays DPRK (Source: Andre Vltchek)

One of the greatest successes in totalitarian brainwashing has been achieved by the Western Media, which dominates too many people in the West, and within the UN system, who, ignorant of the realities of life within the DPRK, nevertheless challenged me with arrogance when I described what I had discovered during my actual, personal visit to the DPRK. None, and I repeat, none of these people had ever visited the DPRK, yet they held forth with aggression exceeded only by their ignorance, insisting, like imbeciles, that they, despite their complete dearth of accurate knowledge, knew what I had seen.

Part I

After just returning from an in-depth visit to the DPRK, it is difficult, if not impossible to convey in words, or even in photographs, the absolutely awe-inspiring achievements of the people and government of North Korea, who following an unspeakably barbarous attack by the US and South Korea, which, with shameful collaboration by the United Nations, obliterated their entire country, heroically rebuilt their nation.

Today, North Koreans heroically persevere in their socialist development, despite the criminal sanctions being inflicted upon the DPRK by the UN Security Council, which is attempting, in craven servility to US “interests,” to demolish this noble example of an economically and socially equitable and democratic society.  The DPRK remains an example of the courageous pursuit of social and economic justice, despite the existential menace to their survival resulting from the relentless and deadly threats from the overwhelming military power of the ongoing US and South Korean military “exercises” at their border, (exercises entitled “decapitation of the head of government,”) and economic and atomic blackmail by the US, and its servile Security Council.

DPRK Free Public Housing (Source: Andre Vltchek)

Prior to my visit, I was invited to submit a list of activities and people I wanted to visit in Pyongyang.  Almost all my requests were honored during this visit.

When I stepped off the Korya jet onto the airport of Pyongyang, I had no idea of what to expect, beyond the propaganda blitz and dire predictions of danger, preconceptions that had overwhelmingly corrupted the minds of almost everyone in the West, and at the United Nations at the mere mention of North Korea. I knew instinctively, based on past experience with such propaganda, that the truth must inevitably be entirely different from the horror stories I had been told by even the more educated and sophisticated of my colleagues.

But nothing I had heard had prepared me for this discovery of a nation of courageous, loving people, of great intellect, whose efforts to create a society of economic and social justice and equality were succeeding, beyond my wildest hopes and expectations, and despite the barbaric Gestapo-style sanctions inflicted upon these remarkable people by the US and its puppet creation, the UN Security Council.

My discovery began on the Air Korya jet transporting me from Beijing to Pyongyang, and the conversation I began with the North Korean man sitting next to me.  He was not the dour, fearful person the propaganda had led me to expect, but a friendly and riotously funny raconteur, who described North Korea as one of the last socialist countries left in the world.  As we spoke with the lovely flight attendant sitting opposite us, he whispered to me that she was a spy. I replied:  “Which side is she spying for, the CIA or North Korea?” He then added the man sitting in the row behind us was a spy.  I peeked through the seats, and said that the man behind us was sleeping. My new Korean acquaintance said that the man behind us was only pretending to be asleep. I finally realized that my new acquaintance was teasing me, and knowing that I am American, was playing upon the preconceptions he knew I had been indoctrinated with. We discussed the current chaotic world, and as the short flight ended, and he thanked me for an interesting conversation, I realized that these North Koreans might be more interesting, and charming than I had been led to expect.

Awaiting me at the Pyongyang airport was Mr. Jang Su Ung, the interpreter and guide I had requested when I had presented my long list of requests, in submitting my visa application from New York. The North Koreans could not have chosen a more perfect guide for my journey throughout their capital, a man whose infinite patience, sensitivity and  sophisticated intellect were so well suited to my own insatiable curiosity and temperament that my entire visit became the seamlessly happy discovery of a nation of people of surpassing intelligence and dedicated to those humanitarian values I had despaired of ever finding. The totalitarian campaign demonizing North Korea had prepared me for the exact opposite.

I was whisked to the lovely Kobangsan guest house, and immediately upon arrival I was greeted by the elegant and gracious Mr. Ri Yong Pil, Deputy Director-General of the North American Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He thanked me for my prior articles about his country, and invited me to a dinner that evening. After I had changed out of my pink sneakers and into more formal attire, we enjoyed a long dinner of delicious Korean cuisine and a candid, comprehensive discussion of the current extraordinarily complex realities of today’s world, and North Korea’s unique situation within it. I asked the most probing, undiplomatic questions, avoiding evasions and confronting the most controversial issues. I raised the question of the infamous Kirby Report, which I had already studied in depth, and discovered to be a propaganda fabrication based upon reports by defectors who were highly paid for the their gruesome fabrications, and the more grotesque their stories were, the more highly paid they were.  The chief defector, upon whose account Michael Kirby’s Report was chiefly based, Shin Dong-hyuk, subsequently admitted he had lied and falsified his statements, which were, in fact repudiated by the defector community itself. Knowing my questions might be embarrassing for my host, but knowing, also that my probe was essential for the authenticity of my own investigation, I asked Mr. Ri about the identity of these defectors. He replied that some of the defectors had been imprisoned for rape, and other crimes, and that these were not “political prisoners,” as Michael Kirby’s Report falsely alleged. It is important to mention that Michael Kirby has never visited North Korea, and his “commission of Inquiry” is based entirely on hearsay, which was subsequently revealed to be fraudulent. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic admitted that the Kirby report by the Commission of Inquiry (based on statements  by defectors highly paid to provide the salacious fabrications they understood were sought by the “inquiry,”) does not meet the standard of proof required for admission as evidence in a court of law.

Mr. Ri advised me that, although China had recently turned back two North Korean ships delivering coal to China, in submission to the abhorrent UN sanctions, in fact many nations and industrialists were eager to do business in North Korea, and to invest in developing the DPRK’s rich resources.  The UN’s outrageous sanctions are comparable to the embargo the US placed upon Cuba for decades, and which many astute businessmen, in the US and elsewhere, regarded as counter-productive and idiotic.

Mr. Ri emphasized that the North Korean government and economy, in particular, was based upon the principle of self-reliance, and had avoided, whenever possible, becoming excessively dependant upon any other country, and this explained North Korea’s ability to sustain their progressive, humanitarian social programs despite the punitive and criminal UN sanctions which were attempting to strangle the nation. He mentioned, with greatest respect, that when, recently, severe floods devastated the northern part of the DPRK, causing many deaths and destruction of people’s homes, President Kim Jung-un immediately suspended work on less essential structures in Pyongyang, and directed the workers to go to the northern flooded area, and build new homes for the flood victims. His immediate assistance to the victims was admired by everyone in the country.

One of the many theatres in Pyongyang (Source: Andre Vltchek)

The dinner, my introduction to the DPRK government, lasted several convivial and illuminating hours, and Mr. Ri revealed zero ideological rigidity or fanaticism, and absolutely no belligerence or aggression toward any other country, including the American people.  His focus was upon sustaining and protecting the economic and social programs providing dignified and fulfilling lives for the citizens of the DPRK.  I disclosed to him, and to Mr. Jang, in confidence, that I was present at a reception in New York when a famous and respected American mainstream reporter, accredited to the UN said to Chinese Ambassador Liu:

“If I were Kim Jong-un witnessing the attack on Libya, and the torture-murder of Gaddafi, after he had abandoned their nuclear program, I’d hold on to my nukes!!!”

The morning of May 19 we visited the Okryu Children’s Hospital, which can only be described as a miraculous tribute to the children of North Korea, a design so comforting and respectful of children’s needs that the building itself helps to relieve the trauma, for both children and their parents, of children’s illnesses and injuries, which are treated by expertly trained physicians and nurses, with the most up-to-date equipment.  There are similar hospitals throughout the country, and physicians at other facilities consult, by skype with medical staff at the main Pyongyang hospital, and where cases are too complex or cannot be handled at regional hospitals, children needing more complicated surgery or emergency treatment, are transported by helicopter to the main hospital in Pyongyang for the more extensive treatment necessary.  There is a helicopter landing facility, or helipad, just outside the hospital.

All medical treatment is free of charge, and all children throughout North Korea have access to these medical facilities.  I have never, anywhere, seen any children’s hospitable of comparable high quality and concern for the particular physical and emotional needs of children – and their parents.  The physical therapy section for children born crippled, or with leg deformities which render them unable to walk, was absolutely extraordinary, teaching exercises which built – or rebuilt their foot and leg muscles, transforming them from cripples into children free to walk and run and play normally.  And the diligence with which the children practice these healing rehabilitating exercises is both inspiring and profoundly moving.

Just prior to entering this hospital, I noticed a detail which revealed a world of information about the North Korean women.  To my amazement, a woman entering the hospital with her child was wearing gold stiletto high heels – she was indeed glamourous and elegant, confounding my expectations.  This exploded the stereotypical myth that Korean people are attired in drab, dowdy clothes, exposing their impoverished, degraded condition that the outside world so erroneously attributes to them.  I then noticed, with fascination, that other women, too, wore glamourous high heels, often combined with elegant clothing and colorful parasols protecting them from the sun.  I mentioned to Mr. Jang that I emphasize this detail, because a woman’s shoes, especially high heels, are very often an expression of her self-esteem.  And these women, throughout Pyongyang, evidently enjoy high self-esteem.  And as my visit progressed, I recognized that the DPRK has achieved notable progress on gender-equity, one of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Next, that morning, we visited the Ryugyong Ophthalmic Hospital, which provides the most modern, up-to-date treatment for everything from Glaucoma to Macular Degeneration.  I can attest to the expert level of their facilities, as I had my own monovision contact-lenses checked there, and the results of their examination were identical to those of my top ophthalmologist in New York.  These hospitals are filled with patients of all ages, and all of whom receive treatment completely free of charge.  Mr. Jang informed me that physicians and their families have all their expenses paid by the government, so that the doctors are free to concentrate, without distraction, exclusively upon the needs of their patients, thereby providing their patients with the optimal level of care.

Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital Opens

Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital (Source: KFAUSA.org)

That afternoon we visited the Pyongyang High School No. 1, where, at my request, I visited classes of biology, chemistry and physics.  They invited me to look through the microscope with which the students were examining the composition of plants, and I saw the greatly enlarged veins of a leaf.  In the chemistry class, I discussed with the students the chemical substances they were studying, and when I saw the beautiful woman teaching the class I mentioned to my translator that these students might fall in love with their chemistry teacher, and like the new French President, Emanuel Macron, might marry this beautiful teacher, probably 25 years older than they, as the French President Macron had done.  My remark, in jest, was conveyed to the teacher, who laughed, and understood my reference, and my translator, with sincere amusement enjoyed my observation, irreverent though my comment was!  The physics students explained that the object I noticed on their desks was a gyroscope, and we discussed their plans and ambitions as the future physicists of the DPRK.

These science classes included both girls and boys.  I explained that I was a visitor from the United States, and I look forward to the future friendship of our countries.  All the students agreed with my hopes.  They were normal, delightful, beautiful, and (I was told) occasionally mischevious children, the future of their country.  Outside the school were basketball and tennis courts.  The Schools throughout the country are free of charge, and education is compulsory throughout the DPRK.

Afterward, I discussed this visit with Mr. Jang, who advised me that this level of students are serious and diligent, as they are preparing for exams to enter the college and universities.  I mentioned to Mr. Jang that the educational level of the parents would contribute to the students’ performance on examinations, and I mentioned that the children of factory and agricultural workers would be deprived of the intellectual enrichment that children of professional and intellectual workers would receive, and these differences might affect their examination performance. Mr. Jang replied that, in fact, all factories had schools and other educational facilities on their actual premises, so that factory workers had access to all educational facilities both during and after their working hours, to correct any inadequacies in their educational preparation, which thereby enabled them to impart to their children information similar to that provided by their professional or intellectual comrades.  Agricultural workers are also provided with access to educational facilities, to supplement their education.

Saturday Morning, May 30, we visited the Monument Tower to the Worker’s Party of Korea, depicting the Korean struggle, under the leadership of Kim Il Sung, for independence from Japanese imperialism.  I was intrigued by the symbol of the WPK, which Mr. Jang explained to me as follows: whereas other symbols of communist parties depict the sickle and hammer, symbolizing both the industrial worker and agricultural worker, in the center of the DPRK symbol is a pen, signifying the  prestige of the intellectual worker in North Korean society.  This was a revelation, and may explain the great success of the DPRK in developing an advanced socialist society, prevailing over renewed attempts to obliterate the entire country, and speeding ahead with scientific achievements, medical developments, green technology, clean energy, space satellites, and now the development of the nuclear weapons that are essential to protect the country from another attack by the US-ROK aggressors, or by Japan, or aggressive imperialist invasions by any other country.

Unlike other ill-advised attempts to dispatch intellectuals to manual work, Kim il Sung’s decision to afford prestige to the intellectuals propelled North Korea’s development, and it remains today so successful a model of socialist  economic and social development and its achievement is so threatening to the deteriorating capitalist economies of the US and Western Europe that those capitalist countries are pathologically obsessed with destroying what their own systems cannot achieve.

The UN sanctions are deliberately isolating the DPRK, and forcing it into an economic and political ghetto, in persecution for its chosen economic and political path of development, and way of life.  This is no different from the Nazis forcing the Jews into a ghetto in Warsaw.  The UN sanctions are suffocating the industries of the DPRK, just as the Gestapo forced the closing of Jewish businesses in the ghetto.  And this preceded the extermination of a people in Europe, as the UN Sanctions against the DPRK may well be preceding attempts to exterminate that people in Asia

Western Capitalist countries are confronting economic crises, with ill-advised “austerity measures” destabilizing Germany, Italy, France, England, dismantling social protections, provoking riots and increasing terrorist attacks.  Scapegoating the DPRK is a distraction, and North Korea remains an impediment to Western Capitalist hegemonic control of Eurasia.  Geographically, Korea, which borders on Russia and China is the gateway to the Asian continent.  General Douglas MacArthur, aware of the military and strategic importance in the situation of Korea raved,

“By occupying all of Korea we could cut into pieces the one and only supply line connecting Siberia and the South…, control the whole area between Vladivostok and Singapore…nothing would then be beyond the reach of our power.”

Aerial view of the Sci-Tech Complex (Source: Explore DPRK)

On the afternoon of May 20, we visited the Sci-Tec Hall, a dazzling exhibition of the DPRK’s scientific achievement, from space satellites to clean energy technology, and my guide, the exquisite Ms. Kim Won Sim, a theoretical physicist, was the quintessence of elegance, personal and intellectual, and when she mentioned her interest in the Schrodinger equation and quantum theory, I replied that I had also been fascinated by advanced mathematics, which I studied years ago as an undergraduate at Bennington College, and later at Columbia University, and I had a particular interest in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

At that moment, she understood my thinking, and a bond was forged between a North Korean woman physicist and an American woman journalist, who were united by Schrodinger and Heisenberg, sharing a language transcending national boundaries and the insanity of war.  Like so many other North Korean women, I noticed that her complexion had a translucent purity, and I did not know whether this was the result of a special moisturizer unknown in the West, or simply good health.

I confessed to Ms. Kim, as to no one else, why I had given up science – I had not integrated or differentiated a function in decades.  Nevertheless, as she now knew that I was well acquainted with these subjects, she promised to present me with a mathematical puzzle.  Though I protested that I had not looked at a mathematical equation for three decades, I could not resist the temptation of her challenge.

After showing me the special rooms providing scientific equipment and facilities for the disabled, including the blind, and the enchanting rooms and displays introducing science to children, and innumerable other scientific exhibits of achievements in fields of bioengineering, marine and space technologies,  and their scientific and technological principles, trends in agriculture, hydraulics, hydrometeorology, metal, rail transport, architecture, electronics, to mention only a few displays,  she presented me with the mathematical puzzle she had promised.

When I had determined the correct method of solving it, sequentially, she advised me that it required 127 steps to complete, and as I was already late, and had only minutes left, I could not complete the task, which, in any case, she informed me I had already basically solved.  She insisted, however, before we parted, on teaching me how to say “Hello” in Korean, which opened up another new world of discovery to me, when, each time I greeted a Korean child in their own language, they bowed, politely, deeply and ceremoniously to me, and I, in turn curtsied to them.

I spoke freely and at random to people I met in all places, and I greeted North Korean soldiers in their language, stating that I am a US citizen, and our two countries should be friends.  They unhesitatingly agreed, as all barriers of nation, race, language and stereotyped preconception dissolved and the human connection replaced those artificial, alienating obstacles.In these transformative days I forgot the past, all programming and indoctrination, as I became assimilated in the rich intellectual and humanitarian culture of North Korea.

Our day ended at the Mirae Scientist Street, where Mr. Jang showed me the housing community where the scientists and their families live, free of all expense, as all facilities, including medical, necessary for their families were supplied without charge, so that the scientists were unfettered by worry about supporting their families, and were able to concentrate their minds on their scientific endeavor.  This was another clue to the rapid scientific development of North Korea.

As we drove back to the Kobangsan Guest House for dinner, I witnessed a sight of unforgettable beauty: we passed a rural area of agricultural workers in a field.  On the field was spread a gorgeous hot pink blanket, and on the blanket was a little girl of approximately 6 or 7 years, dancing, for her own amusement, and that of any observer.  Where she learned those dance movements I do not know, but her precision and delight in her own performance were riveting to behold.  She was most probably the child of one of the agricultural workers, awaiting the end of the work day when the family would return home for supper, and she was practicing her dance movements as she waited for her parents.  Her pleasure and her skill were obvious.  I regret that I did not ask Mr. Jang to stop the car immediately to take a video of that beautiful child in her brightly colored dress, as she graced the field on that golden afternoon.

Part II

The Perversion of “Human Rights” as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

The corruption of the concept of “human rights” for use as a weapon of mass destruction has been perfected at the United Nations.  As Michael Bassett points out in his essay: “Modern Warfare Korea: the Weaponization of Human Rights”:

“For decades, the American government has shaped and harnessed mass hysteria,“ according to Andrew Burt, “to achieve American political ends abroad. The UN North Korea human rights Commission of Inquiry conveniently established itself within four months of Kim Jong-il’s death.

As PhD. Candidate Steve Haarink points out,  “Since 2006 every Commission of Inquiry has preceded military action that worsened human condition.”….. “The National Endowment for Democracy heavily finances those NGO’s who develop such hysteria.  …Governments intentionally manufacture and harness human rights hysteria. “…..While NED is the go-to organization for financial support amongst North Korea Human Rights NGO’s, the Department of Defense finances a vast human rights industry…..”  “Following international media big and small, especially from the US, one acutely gets the feeling that human rights awareness campaigns operate like bombs – they target, they explode, and they seek to destroy all that is in sight.  They are about precisions, but like bombs their explosions can be exactly the opposite – imprecise, unpredictable, and indiscriminate in their maiming.  Though their campaigns impact thinking here, their devastation is always across the border – foreign land, foreign lives, and foreign necessary cost of winning.  Human rights awareness campaigns have transformed North Korea Human Rights NGO’s into US government-funded information warfare contractors….” “First, it is known that a lying Iraqi defector influenced the decision-making process that led the US into Operation Iraqi Freedom – a war that destabilized the Middle East, leaving it in ruins.  Second, North Korean defectors have been known to organize secret disinformation campaigns to sway public opinion in their interests….”  “Collapsing a country is no easy task.  The strategy, or so it appears, consists of several campaigns occurring simultaneously.  It is unknown to the author who – if any single person – is orchestrating the overall “North Korea Operation,” but it is apparent that there is a concerted effort to forcibly collapse the regime.

Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, was quite candid when he said in 1991:

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

In 1993 the distinguished Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Murray Kempton wrote me a personal letter describing the National Endowment for Democracy as a “repellant and vicious pest,” and those words perfectly describe the NED’s proteges, the “celebrity defectors,”  central to the militarized disinformation campaign.  As Shen Dong-hyak’s falsifications have disgraced him, a new rock-star defector, YeonMi Park makes over $12,000.00 per speech, slandering the DPRK with her disinformation campaign,with much more money in the offing.  Indeed, contriving disinformation slandering the DPRK is becoming a very profitable industry, a lucrative profession comparable to the oldest one.

One afternoon, as we drove to a meeting, Mr. Jang brilliantly analyzed the methods and purpose of the sanctions.  To paraphrase what he said:  The sanctions depress and degrade the quality of life for the people in a nation, who, in misery and frustrationeventually  blame and attack the government, bringing about its collapse, and causing regime change, and this is accomplished without military intervention.

On the April 28, 2017 Ministerial Level Security Council meeting, Russia’s Deputy-Minister Gatilov stated:

“Sanctions should not be used either economically to suffocate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nor to worsen the humanitarian situation.  This applies in particular to the illegitimate unilateral restrictions targeting civilian areas not associated with the country’s nuclear missile programmes.  Such sanctions are the reason for the serious deterioration in the living conditions of the North Korean people, which, incidentally, was identified as a cause for alarm in the most recent report of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  They are justifiably very alarmed about that.  We must acknowledge that the humanitarian exemptions provided for by the Security Council’s sanctions regime essentially do not work.  Because of the ban on correspondent relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it is impossible to purchase abroad the goods and food stuffs necessary for the economy.  Because of the way the financial and banking system works, it is very difficult to obtain funding for the United Nations humanitarian agencies that are still working in the country.  Since Pyongyang cannot replenish its foreign currency reserves owing to the existing restrictions, it could find itself in a situation where it is impossible for it to give the United Nations the funds that are to be channeled to it, as permitted by the Committee.  A separate issue is the situation with regard to foreign diplomatic missions in Pyongyang.  We should not allow a situation in which diplomatic missions continue to experience difficulties in carrying out their work because of the restrictions imposed on the country.  We have repeatedly raised this issue at meetings of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006), but as a result of the obstructionist position taken by its individual members, the situation has not changed at all.”

Among the most despicable examples of hypocrisy and double standards contained in Resolution 2356, adopted under Chapter VII, is the passage stating:

“Expressing great concern that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s prohibited arms sales have generated revenues that are diverted to the pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea citizens have unmet needs.”

The above passage is a grotesque travesty of concern, and a projection by the United States of its own brutal and inhumane investment in nuclear weapons while the needs of the American people are ignored, and while the taxes of the American people are stolen to fund “upgraded” nuclear weapons – and war.  By April, 2016 the United States government invested one trillion dollars in developing and modernizing nuclear weapons, a nuclear “revitalization program,” including five classes of improved nuclear arms and associated delivery vehicles, building nuclear weapons that are smaller, stealthy and precise. At Los Alamos, New Mexico, senior military, nuclear weapons officials convened in Albuquerque to promote $1 trillion nuclear weapons plan.  The meeting was organized by the “Strategic Deterrent Coalition” (SDC) and by Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Orbital ATK, BAE Systems, etc., and directly funded by the Air Force. Present at the meeting are Speakers:  Adm. Cecil Haney, Commander of the US Strategic Command, Lt. General Jack Weinstein, Dep. USAF Chief of Staff for Nuclear Integration, General Robin Rand, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, and others, including the Mayor of Albuquerque Richard Berry.

As was stated by an opposition group,

“The fairly tight-knit, militarist, anti-environmental political faction shaped and sustained by the nuclear weapons enterprise in New Mexico has worked with considerable success to undermine labor, environmental protection, and socially-progressive policies in our state for many years.  Their negative influence has strongly contributed to the poor economic and social outcomes we see.  Our fawning loyalty to the nuclear weapons mission, to the two big labs and to Kirtland among the other bases is a political addiction, a sickness.”

While the United States invests $1 trillion tax dollars in “revitalizing nuclear weapons,”  Save the Children Federation, based in Fairfield Connecticut reports that:

“The United States continues to have one of the highest infant mortality rates among high-income industrialized countries…In 2015 an estimated 23,455 babies in the United States died before their first birthday – more than the combined total of infant deaths in 40 European countries during the same year.  Nine small, impoverished rural counties in Texas reported a combined average mortality rate of more than 22 per 1,000 live births in 2013..”

“One in every five children lives in a household that does not have regular access to food.” “Millions of families across America struggle to put healthy food on their tables.  One in every five children lives in a household that does not have regular access to food throughout the year.Nearly 1 in every 3 households with an income below the poverty threshold experienced food insecurity in 2015.  In addition, more than half a million children live in households with ‘very low food security,’ according to the latest government figures.  Children in these households face a much higher risk of malnutrition, obesity and hunger, which could hinder their physical and mental development and reduce their chances of growing up strong and healthy….Overall, 13.1 million children lived in households that lacked access to adequate food sometime during 2015.  Of greatest concern are the estimated 541,000 children who live in households that experienced ‘very low food security.’  For these children, the situation was ‘so severe that caregivers reported that children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.”

“Lack of education traps children in poverty.  Each year an estimated 750,000 students drop out of school and join the ranks of some 5.5 million U.S. youth aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working.  For millions of young adults, they have dropped out of school and now face a life of endless struggle, with few prospects of finding a job with a livable wage, buying a home or supporting a family.  “

“Child abuse and drug dependence also disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of U.S. children each year.  In 2015 there were 683,000 reported  victims of child abuse.  Three out of four were victims of neglect.  17 percent were physically abused and 8 percent were sexually abused…..Drug overdose deaths among teens and young adults have skyrocketed”

June 2, 2017:  USA Today reports

“Homelessness in Los Angeles hits a new high after county supervisors declare a state of emergency.”

More than 57,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County.  In New York City, 60,000 are homeless, as reported in Gothamist.  On any given night, 600,000 people are homeless in the United States.  This condition of homelessness often deprives these people of the right to vote, as photo identification containing home address are required in some states, so the poorest, the homeless in the United States are also disenfranchised.

The Los Angeles Times features a May 31, 2017 article by Carla Hall that states:

“Homelessness is everywhere, and if you thought this fog of misery was beginning to lift, think again.  In fact, the new numbers are grim.   The number of homeless people has risen a startling 20% in the City of Los Angeles.”

What is the American government doing for the American people?  The government invests huge sums in nuclear weapons, but almost nothing in poverty alleviation.

While I was in North Korea, many people told me that their President Kim Jung-un loves children, and there is strong evidence of this in the many facilities available to encourage and assist children in health, education, and recreational activities enticing for children, including a “Dolphinarium,” during which positively reinforced trained dolphins perform, and plump sea lions sit in front of an audience packed with children, shaking their fins with children’s hands, and kissing members of the audience, then waddling off behind their trainers, as the children stared with enchantment.  At the circus, both children and adults gasp at the phenomenal skill and daring of acrobatic trapeze artists!

On May 22 I met with Dr. Lee Ki Song, an official in the Institute for Economy of the Academy of Social Science.  During our two hour meeting we discussed the necessity for more equitable global distribution of wealth and access to health care and education, and Dr. Lee discussed the need for the anti-imperialist countries to unite to oppose the aggression of imperialist powers, and he affirmed the right of the countries victimized by imperialism to defend themselves from the multi-pronged forms of attack upon their lives.

For the sake of brevity, I must omit many of the fascinating events I witnessed, but it would not be possible to close without describing my visit to the “Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum,” with its miniature reconstruction of the horrors of the United States-Republic of Korea attack upon North Korea during 1950-1953.  The brief documentary film clips showed President Truman, General MacArthur and Dulles methodically and psychopathically planning that attack, and gloating over their own cleverness in planning a surprise attack on North Korea on Sunday, June 25, when it was so unexpected, and the people of North Korea, unprepared for the attack, would suffer the greatest shock.  The documentary ended with the terrorized faces of the North Korean children, whose lives were instantly blown apart.  I suddenly wept at the realization that after the Armistice, MacArthur was replaced by other psychopathic generals, but the horrors of imperialism were repeated in country after country, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, human lives were decimated, nations exploited and bled white, and exorbitant war profits fattened the bloated bank accounts of that 1% whom Oxfam states now have more wealth than the rest of the world combined.  “A global network of tax havens further enables the richest individuals to hide $7.6 trillion dollars.”

This was the process the US government also used to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected government of Goulart in Brazil, replacing him with a fascist military government subservient to US corporations.  This process was repeated to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile, replacing his government by one of the most vicious fascist dictatorships in history, a puppet installed and supported by the U.S., a Chilean fascism whose police routinely forced live rats into the vaginas of female political prisoners, as reported by David Remnick in the Washington Post, in 1986.  I worked, as a reporter, in both Brazil and Chile during the years of those horrific dictatorships, and I can never forget.  And in the North Korean War Museum I remembered everything.

Imperialism is a cancer that spreads and morphs and adapts its methods to changing conditions, and it has now metastasized and spread its cancer to the UN Security Council.  The United Nations has never apologized to Iraq for Security Council Resolution 678 which authorized the US-UK “Coalition” to use “all necessary means,” in attacking Iraq, and which Finland’s President Martii Ahtissari reported “destroyed the infrastructure necessary to support human life in Iraq.”  The UN has never apologized to Libya for Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized US-NATO to use “all necessary measures,” and which entirely destroyed the Libyan state, transforming it into an incubator for terrorism.

One can only hope that now, witnessing the carnage of Security Council action, DPRK President Kim Jong-un will also use “all necessary means” to protect his astoundingly brave and beautiful people, and their chosen humanitarian way of life.

The DPRK President, though ridiculed by the American press, is evidently very dedicated to his people, attending to the needs of orphans, and the disabled, providing the highest level of education for his people, building factories to supply women with excellent leather shoes, while the UN sanctions are designed to degrade the intellectual and cultural level of the North Korean people.  This has nothing to do with the nuclear weapons production.  This is a US driven UN plan to degrade the culture of North Korea, a form of cultural genocide, alongside the sanctions  crushing  the economy, reducing the lives of the North Korean people to a level that will become intolerable.

Just in case this “full court press,” intended to eviscerate the lives of these heroic North Korean citizens does not succeed, we can count on attempts to assassinate Kim Jung-un, as were reported by the Financial Times, and the New York Times, and the Pyongyang Times in May, when a CIA-South Korean plot to assassinate the President of DPRK, using bio-chemical substances, was discovered.

This article began with quotes from three great American patriots, Reverend Martin Luther King, former President Jimmy Carter, and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, denouncing our country’s violence.  History will condemn the current US-led United Nations assault on the DPRK as one of the greatest crimes of the twenty-first century.

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

Featured image: Andre Vltchek

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Selected Articles: US Military Confrontation with Russia and China

January 21st, 2018 by Global Research News

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“Explosive”, “Shocking” and “Alarming” FISA Memo Set to Rock DC, “End Mueller Investigation”

By Zero Hedge, January 21, 2018

All hell is breaking loose in Washington D.C. after a four-page memo detailing extensive FISA court abuse was made available to the entire House of Representatives Thursday. The contents of the memo are so explosive, says Journalist Sara Carter, that it could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice and the end of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

Why Trump’s North Korea ‘Bloody Nose’ Campaign Is a Big Bluff

By Gareth Porter, January 21, 2018

The Trump administration’s leaks of plans for a “bloody nose” strike on North Korean nuclear and/or missile sites is only the most recent evidence of its effort to sell the idea that the United States is prepared for a first strike against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). But the “bloody nose” leak—and the larger campaign to float the idea of a first strike against North Korea—isn’t going to convince Kim Jong Un or anyone else who has paid close attention to the administration’s propaganda output.

Pentagon Unveils Strategy for Military Confrontation with Russia and China

By Bill Van Auken, January 21, 2018

The Trump administration’s defense secretary, former Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, rolled out a new National Defense Strategy Friday that signals open preparations by US imperialism for direct military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

Chinese Engineer’s Disappearance in Pakistan Takes on Geopolitical Significance

By James M. Dorsey, January 21, 2018

Thirty-six-year-old Chinese engineer Pingzhi Liu went missing almost a month ago. It took Pakistani authorities three weeks to classify Mr. Liu’s disappearance as a likely kidnapping that could have significant political and economic consequences.

Body of Evidence Suggests New US Biological Warfront Opening Up

By Henry Kamens, January 20, 2018

We know that the Richard E. Lugar Centre in Tbilisi is actually a biological weapons lab. It has always been assumed that the US Department of Defense took over this facility, alongside a string of others in the former Soviet Union, for offensive purpose, and that the “scientific research” into animal and human diseases it claims to be carrying out is merely a front for developing new biological strains, viruses and bacteria, and then testing them on the Georgian population and the agricultural industry, without asking for consent, and even developing new generation vaccines and cures which are often experimental, naturally donated or supported by the US Department of Defence and German medical research facilities.

How the Establishment Undermines American Democracy

By Philip Giraldi, January 20, 2018

There is a growing consensus among many observers in Washington that the national security agencies have become completely politicized over the past seventeen years and are now pursuing selfish agendas that actually endanger what remains of American democracy.

Continuity of Agenda: US Encirclement of China Continues Under Trump

By Ulson Gunnar, January 21, 2018

The United States has pursued a decades-long policy of encircling, containing and if possible, undermining China as part of a larger strategy of achieving and maintaining what US policy papers call “primacy” over Asia.

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The United States has pursued a decades-long policy of encircling, containing and if possible, undermining China as part of a larger strategy of achieving and maintaining what US policy papers call “primacy” over Asia.

US policy has led to deeply-rooted networks operating within China’s borders and along China’s geopolitical peripheries to divide and destabilize the immense and increasingly powerful Asian state. These networks are funded and supported regardless of who occupies the White House. While the rhetoric shifts from president to president regarding “why” the US is providing so-called “activists” and “opposition” fronts aid, the aid and the agenda it serves continues.

Under current US President Donald Trump’s predecessor President Barack Obama, this ongoing policy was marketed to the American and international public as the “Pivot to Asia.” It was spun as a means for the US to reengage with Asia but in reality constituted an overt attempt to co-opt the governments of China’s neighbors and break up the region’s growing ties with Beijing.

Obama’s “Pivot” was a failure, but one within the greater context of a general decline in US primacy both in the Asia Pacific region and around the world.

Under Trump, this policy of encircling and containing China continues. It is now marketed to the public as an “Indo-Pacific” strategy, with the US forced to court India, Australia and Japan on the fringes of Asia Pacific after failing to make progress within Asia Pacific itself.

It is important to understand just how long-term these polices are so that when Trump announces them to the public, the public understands that it is not “Trump’s” policy, but simply Trump continuing to carry out the agenda of the very special interests (the so-called “Deep State”) he vowed to resist upon taking office.

Understanding that these policies serve special interests and at the cost of the American public helps inoculate the public to rhetoric claiming that confronting China and destabilizing Asia is somehow part of “making America great again.”

Tibet

Tibet is one of the oldest and most clear-cut examples of a political controversy used by Washington to target and undermine Beijing’s credibility.

The centerpiece of US strategy in Tibet has been an independence movement led by the Dali Lama, the so-called spiritual leader of Tibet and a political figure the US through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has backed both politically and militarily since at least as early as the 1950s.

Upon the US State Department’s own website under a section titled, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XXX, China: 341. Memorandum for the 303 Committee,” it is admitted that:

The CIA Tibetan program, parts of which were initiated in 1956 with the cognizance of the Committee, is based on U.S. Government commitments made to the Dalai Lama in 1951 and 1956. The program consists of political action, propaganda, paramilitary and intelligence operations, appropriately coordinated with and supported by [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

The report also states that:

In the political action and propaganda field, Tibetan program objectives are aimed toward lessening the influence and capabilities of the Chinese regime through support, among Tibetans and among foreign nations, of the concept of an autonomous Tibet under the leadership of the Dalai Lama; toward the creation of a capability for resistance against possible political developments inside Tibet; and the containment of Chinese Communist expansion—in pursuance of U.S. policy objectives stated initially in NSC 5913/1.2 [6 lines of source text not declassified]. 

It should be noted that the document specifically mentions “the containment of Chinese Communist expansion.”

The policy of creating “autonomous” regions within a sovereign state aimed at “lessening the influence and capabilities” of a targeted central government is a policy that should look familiar to any impartial observer of contemporary US foreign policy. It is not only precisely the same policy the US openly pursues in the occupation and attempted partitioning of the Syrian Arab Republic, but it is also the very same policy the US is pursuing in another region of China, its western Xinjiang province.

Separatist Terrorism in Xinjiang

China’s western province of Xinjiang is home to some 21 million people. Of those 21 million, less than half are of the Turkic ethnic group known as Uyghurs. Practitioners of Islam, the US has used terrorist networks developed within NATO member Turkey to infiltrate, pervert and radicalize a fringe minority of the Uyghur community while the US itself openly funds and promotes separatism via political opposition fronts and across local and international media.

Turkey’s notorious “Grey Wolves” terrorist organization was wielded by NATO during the Cold War as a tool of political coercion. It is still used today by US-NATO interests both within Turkey and beyond, even as far as Southeast Asia. The Grey Wolves have been implicated in training and arming terrorist cells within Xinjiang.

Overt US support for separatists in Xinjiang can be easily found on the US State Department-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website. The US is so extensively engaged in political subversion within China that it was necessary to divide its funding of subversive activities into multiple categories: China (Hong Kong)China (Mainland)China (Tibet) and China (Xinjiang/East Turkistan).

US support for separatism is exposed forthright with the inclusion of the term “East Turkistan,” it being the name of the political entity US-backed agitators and militants seek to carve off from Chinese territory. Over a quarter of a million US taxpayer dollars is allotted annually to the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a Germany-based front with offices in Washington DC headed by Rebiya Kadeer who openly pursues separatism and who also refers to China’s Xinjiang province as “East Turkistan.”

The US in its various policy papers regarding regime change elsewhere around the world has repeatedly admitted that “peaceful” movements like the WUC attempts to portray itself as are unlikely to succeed without an armed component to prevent a targeted government from simply uprooting foreign-funded sedition. Thus, just as the US State Department admitted it has done in Tibet, the US is clearly engaged via NATO-proxies and separatist political fronts it openly funds and directs, in efforts to “lessen the influence and capabilities” of Beijing in Xinjiang by attempting to create the “autonomous” region of “East Turkistan.”

Demonstrations in Hong Kong 

Hong Kong was taken by the British Empire from China by force and occupied for over a century. When the British finally departed Hong Kong in 1997, it imposed upon Beijing demands instituting what is known as the “one country, two systems” under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

In essence, the British attempted to maintain Hong Kong as a political and economic foothold despite “returning” it to Beijing’s control. Beijing has since incrementally dismantled this arrangement and has steadily reasserted its sovereignty over its returned territory.

To counter this, the US and its European allies have organized, funded and directed “pro-democracy” protests in Hong Kong who focus primarily on coercing Beijing to uphold the UK’s parting demands.

The so-called “Umbrella Revolution” in 2014 was a textbook example of what is now widely known as a “color revolution.” The protests consisted of leaders openly funded by the US State Department including Martin Lee who had literally visited Washington DC (NED event including full video here) pleading for aid just months before the protests unfolded.

Another political figure crafted by America’s immense media influence is Joshua Wong, a university student who repeatedly denied his sudden fame and political influence stemmed from ties with Washington, but who eagerly traveled to Washington DC to collect an award from NED subsidiary, Freedom House, upon the protests’ conclusion.

The “pro-democracy” protests in Hong Kong, when put into context of Washington’s long-term strategy to contain and encircle China, are transparently illegitimate. While figures like Wong insist they are pursuing “democracy” and “self-determination” for Hong Kong, with their movement entirely propped up by the United States and its European allies it is clear that they represent foreign interests, specifically at the expense of any notion of “democracy” or “self-determination” for Hong Kong.

Destabilizing Southeast Asia 

It is clear enough that China is being systematically targeted and undermined within its own borders by US foreign policy stretching from the end of World War II and continuing to present day. However, just as important, are US efforts to encircle, contain and undermine China along its peripheries.

This includes Southeast Asia where the US has spent decades attempting to influence and control the region. This included the outright invasion of Vietnam, proxies wars fought in neighboring Laos and Cambodia and political upheaval the US has sponsored everywhere from Myanmar to Malaysia and Thailand to Indonesia.

During the administration of US President George Bush Jr., the US had lined up proxy regimes in Thailand under Thaksin Shinawatra, Malaysia under Anwar Ibrahim and Myanmar under Aung San Suu Kyi. To a lesser extent, Cambodia under Hun Sen served US interests until only recently.

However, of these four nations, only Myanmar represents a partial success. Thailand has ousted Shinawatra and his proxies from power, Anwar Ibrahim resides in prison and Cambodia has increasingly built ties with Beijing at Washington’s expense.

Still, US-funded networks seek to impede Southeast Asian ties with China through a variety of activities including political destabilization and terrorism. The US also funds organizations posing as environmental and human right activists that impede regional development driven by Chinese infrastructure projects under the guise of protecting the environment and the livelihoods of villagers living near the future sites of rail, dam and other major projects.

In any given nation across Southeast Asia, the US NED along with its various subsidiaries and partners can be found fueling social division, conflict and even attempting to impede security operations against suspiciously convenient terrorism. More recently, the US under Trump has increased subversive activities in Thailand and Cambodia as both nations move to further uproot US-backed opposition groups.

Upon a map, if China finds itself facing US-backed subversion along the west in Tibet, Xinjiang and its short border with US-occupied Afghanistan and to the east with US troops literally stationed in Korea and Japan, then US subversion in Southeast Asia represents a third front of adversity fueled by Washington and one that now continues under Trump’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy.

Afghanistan and the Korean Peninsula 

Of course, there are multiple theories to explain Washington’s perpetual occupation of Afghanistan including its proximity to Pakistan, Russia and Iran. But Afghanistan also shares a short border with China. A US military presence on China’s far western border helps bookend America’s substantial military presence in Korea, Japan and the Philippines to China’s far east.

The US continues occupying South Korea following an armistice signed in 1953 marking the effective end of the Korean War. The US has since intentionally and continuously provoked North Korea, creating a strategy of tension and thus perpetually justifying its military presence on the peninsula. The US has openly and repeatedly called for regime change in North Korea. It has published entire policy papers detailing strategies for the invasion, occupation and subjugation of North Korea.

And while the US insists its presence on the Korean Peninsula is a matter of global peace and security, it is transparently obvious that it remains involved in and in fact fueling the conflict for the sole purpose of maintaining a military presence toward China’s east as part of its wider, long-term containment policy.

Rearming Japan

After Japan’s defeat in World War II, the island nation adopted a pacifist foreign policy. It had refused to involve itself in foreign interventions and maintained what it termed Self-Defense Forces. Its constitution prohibits its rearmament and the use of warfare to resolve disputes. The constitution states specifically:

1. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

2. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Yet, now as the US finds its influence in Asia Pacific waning, there have been attempts to pressure the Japanese government to amend its constitution and help augment US military aggression across the region.

Far from a conspiracy theory, prominent Western policy analysts openly acknowledge this in their coverage of Japan’s defense policy.

Defense News in a 2015 article titled, “Japan Pursues Rearmament, Despite Opposition,” would report that:

Efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to normalize Japan’s security posture and bolster its US alliance against China hit an obstacle when the Lower House Commission on the Constitution declared Abe’s moves unconstitutional. Still, Japan is expected to pass legislation around August to expand the nation’s ability to better support the US in the defense of Japan.

In a minor bombshell, on June 4, Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus of Constitutional Law at Keio University and member of the Lower House Commission on the Constitution, said provisions allowing limited rights of collective self defense as promoted by the Abe administration are unconstitutional.

“Paragraph 2 of Article 9 does not grant any legal standing for military activities abroad,” Kobayashi is reported to have said. “Going to war abroad to help a friendly nation is a violation of Article 9,” he said.

Japan possesses the ability to more than adequately defend itself from any aggressor, including China. Furthermore, if free of Washington’s coercive influence bending Tokyo toward confrontation with Beijing, China and Japan could forge economic and defense pacts of their own that would make possible confrontations even more remote than they already are.

US “ties” to Asian states including Japan represent a rather transparent effort to augment US primacy, offering little incentive to those being used. Japan, in other words, is viewed as an expendable buffer between US hegemonic ambitions and the states it is targeting to achieve that hegemony. Japan would then be first to pay the price for Washington’s geopolitical miscalculations vis-à-vis Beijing. 

That these policies have been pursued for decades, indifferent to the White House’s occupants helps shed light on those special interests that truly drive US policy and use political theater like that provided by the current Trump administration as cover to continue doing so with impunity. In the past when the US held uncontested global hegemony, both after World War II and again shortly after the Cold War, America paid few direct consequences for its actions abroad.Today, however, as US hegemony wanes and a multipolar balance of global power emerges, the US will increasingly pay a price for its attempts to cling to its unipolar “international order.” It is a price that the American people will pay economically and in terms of blood of their armed forces, a price that American special interests will continue shifting onto the American people themselves for as long as possible.Trump’s campaign mantra of “make America great again” echoes hallow in the face of this reality, exemplified in Asia in terms of US policy versus Beijing, but a reality that is repeated across the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and beyond. As long as Trump continues pursuing policies put forth by unelected special interests at the cost of those who voted him into office, America’s position internationally will continue to fold and as more resources are poured into futile efforts to reverse this otherwise irreversible trend, America will never be “great” again.

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Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

All images in this article are from New Eastern Outlook.

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On January 18, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Iranian-backed militias liberated the village of Qaytal fom Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in southern Aleppo and almost closed the eastern Idlib pocket.

Late on the same day, ISIS reportedly captured thirty villages, including Rasm al-Dhaba, al-Muwaylah, abu Ajwa, Muakar Shamali, Huma, Najm Al-Zuhur, Umm Qurun and Rasm Arira, in northeastern Hama and southwestern Aleppo from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

According to reports, some of HTS members withdrew from the area to avoid being encircled by the SAA while the rest of them just joined ISIS.

The pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi also reported that ISIS fighters started an advance to reach the SAA-held village Tell Daman in order to open a route towards Idlib province.

The ISIS Hunters of the SAA’s 5th Assault Corps have repelled a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack by ISIS in the Euphrates Valley. According to the unit’s media wing, the attack was an attempt to break the blockade imposed by government forces on ISIS units in the Homs desert.

On January 18, two ISIS VBIEDs attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Gharanij in southeastern Deir Ezzor, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq added that ISIS fighters targeted a gathering of SDF fighters and destroyed a Humvee with an ATGM.

According to SOHR, ISIS still controls the villages of Abu Hassan, al-Bubadran, al-Baghuz, al-Susah and al-Shaafah as well as large parts of Hajin, Gharanij and al-Bahra on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to say that Washington has no plans to create a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria and claimed that the issue has been “misportrayed”.

“We are not creating a border security force at all,” he said.

However, just few days ago, the Pentagon officially announced the creation of this border force.

“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” spokesman for the US-led coalition Colonel Thomas F. Veale said. “The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS draw to a close.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan met in Moscow with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and other officials for talks on Syria.

It does not look like Ankara is ready to see the US as a reliable partner in this conflict.

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The Deep State, Russiagate, and Donald Trump

January 21st, 2018 by Anthony Newkirk

From the new book by journalist Michael Wolff about bickering inside the current White House to President Donald J. Trump‘s latest foul-mouthed display, the year is beginning with a lot of distracting “news” about U.S. national politics. Of course, the situation is fueled by Trump himself, with his addiction to publicity.

Admittedly, Trump is an unusual president in the sense that one-percenters have tended to keep at arm’s length from the Oval Office (at least directly). But The Donald’s been in our lives for many years. Maybe incompetent, he’s never been shy. Take his Russian business ties; he appeared at the end of a 2013 music video starring the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov.

More than personality searches, though, things-Trump make more sense in the context of the deep state, a term cropping up in all forms of media lately. A popular interpretation is it has something to do with covert government actions. Referring to security services and criminal groups operating outside the law, the term traces the term’s actual can be traced to the Ottoman Empire. Turkey’s Kurdish minority would often be targeted by deep state operations. The shooter in the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II belonged to a far-right group tied to the Turkish branch of Operation Gladio.

Recently in The Nation, historian Greg Grandin suggested that the deep-state concept is best understood in the context of all competing interests in the power structure, including both the intelligence community and big business.

Aside from Swiss bank accounts and high-profile assassinations, little is really secret about the deep state. A good example is the controversy about Russian interference in the Election of 2016. Here are the highlights of what is publicly known about “Russiagate”:

In the summer of 2016, a hacker, or group of hackers (“Guccifer 2.0”) stole tens of thousands of documents from the Democratic National Committee’s server and gave them to Wikileaks, which thereupon released them to the public. The DNC claimed the material came from “the Russians.” At the same time, a joint CIA-FBI-NSA probe began under the auspices of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. A few weeks later, the FBI warned that election systems in Arizona and Illinois were infiltrated by foreign actors.

In October 2016, Wikileaks released thousands of emails drafted by Clinton campaign director John Podesta. In addition to behind-the-scenes workings of the campaign, the emails dealt with Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches and the Clinton Foundation. Whereupon, a DNC law firm hired Fusion GPS to collect information on how the Kremlin tried to suborn Trump. Fusion GPS hired a former British spy to write a report. Based on hear-say, the Steele dossier was passed to U.S. intelligence agencies. The Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats in December. President Vladimir Putin kicked 755 U.S. diplomats out of Russia several months later.

A year ago, the ODNI committee released an Intelligence Community Assessment summary. It argues Putin authorized cyber hacks of the election. Although it does “not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election” or “analyze US political processes or US public opinion,” the report sees a pattern of Russian media interference. Then there’s this statement in small print:

“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.”

The report was embraced by the bipartisan establishment and mainstream media as gospel truth.

On March 20 2017, then-FBI director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee. He said a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC named Cloud Strike concluded “with high certainty” in the spring of 2016 that Russian cyber-spies hacked the DNC. Shortly after, the FBI started a “counter-intelligence” probe of Trump-Kremlin ties. Interestingly, Comey had already told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the DNC refused to give the Bureau direct access to its computer servers (so his later claim to the same committee that Trump wasn’t under FBI investigation was technically consistent).

In early May, The Donald fired Comey. Within days, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to run a probe of Russian election meddling. Comey was Mueller’s FBI successor.

The witch hunt picked up tempo in the summer of 2017, sweeping up leftwing dissidents. The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed documents possessed by Jill Stein in connection to her Green Party presidential campaign. Pressure was brought to bear on Black Live Matter too. Trump was a pretext. The first articles of impeachment filed against him in the House in July were dismissed in December. A few days later, high-level Department of Justice official Peter Strzok was kicked off the Mueller probe for making anti-Trump comments.

Evidence is even emerging that the Clinton campaign preferred Trump as its general election opponent.

Historian Jackson Lears recently wrote that the “religion of the Russian hack” is a manifestation of domestic austerity and wars of aggression abroad. He wonders why the intelligence community should be revered when it’s no secret it opposes democracy and peace.

Russiagate shows how deeply ingrained is the ideology of American Exceptionalism. There are many examples. Take self-described liberal Van Jones talking about Russia’s “active attack on our country.”

Russiagaters are self-serving. Investor Bill Bowder, beloved of the mainstream media these days, vents outrage about Russia’s oligarchs. Yet his self-righteous words ring hollow when his own activities are considered. In November, Donna Brazile, who briefly ran the DNC after Debbie Wasserman Schultz lost the position in the summer of 2016, claimed the Democratic primary was rigged by the Clinton campaign. But in a book released at the same time, she argues there was also Russian hacking.

What’s little heard from establishment circles is the reason why the election was subverted: The DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders and voter suppression guaranteed the favored outcome. Wikileaks emails show DNC operatives plotting to subvert the Democratic primary. Related to this are the emails written by Clinton when she was Secretary of State. They suggest she used her office to raise funds for the Clinton Foundation; they also shed light on the Obama administration’s negotiation of the Uranium One agreement with Putin. 

According to the New York Times, the Justice Department knew about Bill Clinton’s 2010 overtures to Russian nuclear regulatory authorities. The FBI “investigation” that began in the summer of 2015 ended with Mrs. Clinton’s absolution over a year later.

There are many conclusions we can make about this. One lesson stands out: The only response America’s deep-state elites have to growing public dissension with neoliberalism is to promote organized hysteria at the risk of explosive contradictions, be they in the form of conspiracy theories like Russiagate or fraudulent presidents like Donald Trump.

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Anthony B. Newkirk is an assistant professor of history at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas.

A well-renowned Jamaican reggae singer, Bob Marley once sang, “many more will have to suffer… many more will have to die… don’t ask me why”. ‘Natural Mystic’ is not just a grand spectacle of entertainment. ‘Natural Mystic’ symbolically describes a contemporary world that is plagued by war, disease, poverty, hunger, growing inequalities, economic crises, realpolitik and environmental degradation. When these problems unfold before our eyes daily, we cannot desist from the belief that the world is plunging further into anarchy.

We frequently use the term ‘anarchy’ to express social disorder, lawlessness and political instability. The term ‘anarchy’ was used several times in opinion articles that were submitted to the Jamaica Gleaner in order to highlight the exorbitant levels of crime and violence in Jamaica and the calls for more pro-active crime-fighting solutions.

Additionally, the term ‘anarchy’ was the most profound concept that has been emphasized throughout Robert Kaplan’s 1994 classic journal article, ‘The Coming Anarchy’. Kaplan (1994) provided an extensive predictive analysis of contemporary issues in international relations by opening his discussion with the scenario of youth gangs seizing the property and assets of political officials in Sierra Leone; as a result of poor governance and lack of equal opportunities.

He further delved into the monstrous consequences of persistent underdevelopment in particular regions where health and food insecurity becomes unbearable. While we rest our deepest fears on the bed of utopian aspirations for a better world, we will be forced to gradually acknowledge several harsh realities. We will be forced to gradually acknowledge that self-interests will always overrule collective values and we will be forced to gradually acknowledge that anarchy is deliberately manufactured in the chess board game of global politics.

The findings of the 2017 Oxfam International Report entitled ‘The Economy for the 99%’ exposed the fallacies of neoliberal economic development. The report outlined that the bottom ten per cent (10%) earned less than $3 in year between 1988-2011 while the incomes of the top one per cent (1%) increased 182 times as much. These alarming statistics can be attributed to the fact that neoliberalism is an unseen, violent force that sees development as a means to an end. Development as a means to end ranges from the humanitarian crisis of famine in South Sudan and Yemen, child labour in the farms of Togo, environmental disasters in the Caribbean and Latin America, discriminatory sentiments against minorities, unequal power relations among men and women, strikes for better salaries and decent work and limited access to public facilities such as health care, education, housing, clean drinking water and social security.

In a time of neo-liberal hegemony where difference is dangerous and alternative views are silenced, we need to revisit the importance of the Capabilities Approach to Development which was discussed by Nobel Peace Prize Winner for Economics, Amartya Sen in his book ‘Development As Freedom’. Amartya Sen (1999) warned us that development must not be seen as a mere means to end but rather it should be seen as process of expanding real freedoms that people should enjoy while removing major sources of unfreedom. He also cited that poverty, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, marginalization, neglect of public facilities and repression as major sources of unfreedom. Sen has observed the growing unequal wealth and income distribution despite the high levels of economic growth and productivity. Hence, the neo-liberal hegemony is deceptive because the prosperity that it promises is not congruent with the war waged against humanity through a rigid, oligarchic exercise.

Poor economic opportunities and poverty create a ripple effect of other social problems such as crime and violence. This is quite applicable to Jamaica where the nation is gaining local and international attention over the management of its national security issues where citizens are extremely concerned about the sharp spike in murders, political ineptness of the state and the recent travel advisory to tourists that was issued by the United States of America. Crime in Jamaica stems from a wide variety of issues but the most outstanding factors are poor economic opportunities, marginalization and poverty. These factors are legacies of the plantation institution in which ownership, wealth and production has been dominated by a few individuals based on social class and skin colour. Political independence has not transformed the organization of the economy and other social institutions but has instead perpetuated the powerlessness of vulnerable groups of people in society. As a result, powerlessness is translated into violence.

The 2014 Latin American Public Opinion Project Survey shared that Jamaica’s inequality rate using the Gini Co-efficient Index stands at 59.6, one of the highest rates in Latin America and the Caribbean. The stark paradoxes of Jamaica’s development predicament was announced by market studies analyst, Don Anderson who explained that while economic indicators are at an all-time high for the business class in Jamaica, poverty has doubled since 2006.

Listening to Anderson’s commentary on Television Jamaica (TVJ) has helped me to realize that the logic of the market has been fully embraced and incorporated without deft examination or criticism. On the contrary, while Sen has advocated for individual participation in the market to achieve economic freedom, he also argues that the market needs effective regulation from the state in order to ensure equity. Equity, according to Sen, is an organizing principle that enables the expansion of freedoms for people despite their differences but, are we serious in our commitment to building a more just and equitable world or is it another grand rhetoric echoed at public conferences and summits?

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Tina Renier lives in Jamaica and is currently a final year student at the University of the West Indies, Mona pursuing a Bachelor of Science in International Relations.

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Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show

January 21st, 2018 by Marshall Auerback

Much has been written about our Twitterer-in-Chief and the tortured response to his presidency, particularly within the GOP.  As a recent example, Frank Bruni of the New York Times lamented the fate of Senator Lindsey Graham, who has now become one of Donald Trump’s biggest defenders on mainstream shows such as “Meet the Press”. Bruni, however, reminds us that during the presidential campaign of 2016, Graham described then candidate Trump as the “world’s biggest jackass”, even as he now praises POTUS, thereby personifying “his party’s spastic, incoherent, humiliating response to Trump across time and its fatally misguided surrender.”

Appearances to the contrary, Bruni actually has got it “bass ackwards”.  In reality, Trump is well into the process of surrendering his presidency to the GOP establishment and what one of us has termed the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex” (MICC ). It’s worth recalling that Senator Graham, along with his erstwhile colleague, John McCain, have consistently acted as leading supplicants for the Department of Defense, as well as staunch Cold Warriors who long opposed Trump’s attempts to shift US foreign policy in a more Russo-friendly direction.  They (like Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign) also reacted with horror to the views expressed by Trump during the campaign when he questioned NATO’s eastward thrust, the power transformation in the western Pacific, Syria, Iraq, the Middle East altogether.

But for all of the talk of “Russia-gate” and collusion with Putin, Trump has in fact quietly been shifting US foreign policy in a direction which if anything is becoming decidedly more hawkish and militarized than has occurred under any American presidency since the early days of the Reagan Administration. Just last December, Trump Administration officials confirmed that the State Department approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine. These weapons were requested as early as 2014, but were long rejected by President Obama, who saw the sale as a needless risk elevation in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. (Ironically, Trump also initially resisted the inclusion in the GOP Platform of selling said weapons to the Ukraine, and this was subsequently cited by many as further “proof” of Boss Tweet’s collusion with Russia.)

More recently, the President directed the Department of Defense to conduct a new “Nuclear Posture Review January 2018” (NPR).  The mission statement of the draft review, recently leaked to the Huffington Post, is:

[T]o ensure a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent that safeguards the homeland, assures allies, and deters adversaries. This review comes at a critical moment in our nation’s history, for America confronts an international security situation that is more complex and demanding than any since the end of the Cold War. In this environment, it is not possible to delay modernization of our nuclear forces and remain faithful sentinel s of our nation’ s security and freedom for the next generation as well as our own.

The NPR draft, then, opens the door wider for using “precision” limited nuclear options in response to conventional and cyber threats.  In effect, this NPR, if signed into law by Trump, locks in Obama’s massive nuclear modernization program, as well as expanding it significantly by putting small “precision-guided” nuclear warheads on SLBMs, among other things.

If Boss Tweet signs the NPR, he also will be approving and entrenching the political engineering of new SLBMs and ICBMs, the new Bomber, a new missile launching nuclear submarine, a new nuclear cruise missile, a whole panoply of new nuke-hardened space-based C3ISR systems, a new family of nuclear warheads, the addition of precision guidance to the B-61 “dial-a-yield” bomb, a massive modernization of the nuclear lab infrastructure, and much more.

So much for being Putin’s poodle! The implementation will certainly formalize the restart of the Cold War by adopting the precision nuclear strike mentality envisioned in the January 1988 report entitled Discriminant Deterrence, just as the Cold War was ending.  This report was  published by the Commission on Integrated Long Term Strategy, co-chaired by the noted Cold Warriors Fred Ikle and Albert Wohlstetter, and whose members have included, inter alia, the likes of Henry Kissinger (now apparently advising Jared Kushner after advising HRC during the 2016 campaign), Samuel Huntington, and the recently deceased Zbigniew Brezinski.

Once the political engineers are done spreading the nuke contract dollars to most, if not all, congressional districts, the whole program will be locked in for up to 50 years.  Any attempt to reverse this will be met by the usual tricks of the Pentagon: selective leaks to sympathetic journalists at the NYT & WaPo, along with threats to cut back at domestic bases, as well as the contracts themselves, which are will be important sources of employment and political patronage in local Congressional districts.   If this was indeed Mr. Putin’s gambit in 2016, then he has seriously miscalculated.

About the only possible silver lining in the restart of the Cold War is that the MICC no longer needs to use the cover of the global war on terror to prop up its long term budgets.  The endless cycle of military budget one-upmanship which characterized most of the Cold War will reassert itself because both Moscow and Beijing are bound to respond, regardless of what Boss Tweet says his intentions are.

These are but a few examples of Trump’s policy reversals, along with the absurd notion that he would “drain the swamp”, introduce a “fantastic tax reform” that would largely benefit the middle class, give us a great healthcare system, and finally, develop a foreign policy that would allow the US to enjoy a closer and more collaborative relationship with Russia. Many of the very same people who once fretted about Trump and nuclear codes now applauding as he signs off on missiles and bombs and an escalation of the conflict in the Ukraine.

So to come back to Frank Bruni’s point: There is method to the apparent mad about-face by Graham and others in the GOP.  As for the so-called #TheResistance, most are still so obsessed with the Mueller investigation that they have failed to see that a soft coup has already taken place under their collective noses (indeed, with their recent approval of the FISA courts, it appears that the Democrats’ cries of alarm about the fate of our Republic are but crocodile tears). Why impeach Boss Tweet when he is so good to the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex (MICC) and the economic Oligarchs, while providing distracting entertainment to the masses and the press?  If it takes a new Cold War and a further subversion of our democracy to kneecap Donald Trump, well, one is all for it.

In short, Boss Tweet* has become the DC Swamp’s useful idiot and he will do as he is told with the help of Republicans in Congress, like Lindsey Graham (as well as many complicit Democrats – who have been sucked into the vortex of the renewed Cold War, in part by virtue of their opportunistic embrace of “Russiagate” – not to mention the corrupted intelligence community).  Trump can eat all of the Big Macs he wants, release his inner Klansman to his heart’s content, amuse himself by watching “Fox & Friends”, and enrich his family, so long as he plays ball with “his generals”, the Koch Brothers, Wall Street, Big Pharma and the rest of the One Percenters. So long as James Mattis gets to feed the big bucks to the MICC unhindered, or Charlie Koch gets a free ride by the Environmental Protection Agency, life will remain good at the White House for the First Family. There will be no impeachment or invocation of Article 25, because the president has been neutered.

No doubt, the press will continue to express abhorrence with every new obscenity or controversial tweet, lament the decline of our political parties, and the Mueller investigation will continue to act as a major distraction.  Meanwhile, the constitutional safeguards that have long been the bedroom of the republic will continue to be eviscerated.  Welcome to Versailles on the Potomac!

*

Note

*A term ingeniously coined by Paul Street in this article: “An Idiot Surrounded by Clowns”: Why Trump (Still) Sits in the White House

Featured image is CC by 2.0.

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Before our eyes we have clear growing evidence the US is gathering force to launch war against North Korea. And not just the visibility of carrier led battle fleets in the South China sea, there are also all the other “world events” fitting into first strike preparation scenario from the US.

For instance the Hawaii nuclear strike alert terrifying the population of Hawaii Saturday 13th January. Are we to believe this was as simple as an operational error? Accidentally pressing a single button?

I don’t think so for one minute. It must be near impossible to activate a major strike alarm system without highest level authority with multiple keys to active the system. And to note of all US cities it was Hawaii, halfway between Korea and continental USA, not any other US city.

Which leaves open the plausibility alarm activation authorisation was from the highest levels in the USA, to strike terror in the minds of citizens US wide that such a strike from North Korea is a real and credible possibility. This then playing its part priming the US population for justification for a US first strike on North Korea.

Further evidence of preparation is then the Korean selected Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Vancouver Monday 15th Jan. This meeting notably not including The People’s Republic of China or the Russian Federation, let alone the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The summit with single minded interest on blockading North Korea into deeper isolation has then been in all but name a war summit. Notably engaging most of the Western supporting nations in the 1950-53 Korean War. A war in which the USA with overwhelming air power, including mass use of napalm (as in Vietnam), destroyed North Korea with 2 million Korean casualties.

Further evidence again for preparation could not be more evident in the build up of US battle fleets in South China Sea. Three carrier battle fleets complete with hundreds of cruise missiles and stealth attack aircraft, who knows how many polaris nuclear submarines in Korean waters, along with nuclear strike squadrons of B-2 and B-52 bombers on Guam.

Belligerence and threat on an enormous scale. And of course when the US does strike that will be an enormous distraction away from a president who must know in his bones, from the chaos he is sowing world-wide, along with the FBI Mueller inquiry, his own time is running out.

This huge build up of US forces, at risk any day of precipitating war even if not specifically intended, needs then to be roundy condemned by I would hope every thinking human being on the planet. As it is, from the West, blinding mass ignorance amplified through Western mass media.

Korean people building bridges – making progress

But then strikingly as we now see the people of Korea left to their own politics are finding their way. High level positive meetings taking place. North Korea will bring athletes to the Winter Olympics and, in accord with the spirit of the Olympics, have announced North and South will march together at the opening ceremony under one Korean flag. This then a huge boost for the Korean peninsular and people, and for world peace. A time of optimism and for building trust.

And more than this DPRK will contribute national bands to the Olympics. This then will be DPRK Moranbong hugely popular all female band. Wonderful performances from highly accomplished young musicians and singers. The best of Korea that is iron curtain shut out by Western propaganda. Not by the Koreans – the most welcoming and friendly of people, to those who ask and show some respect.

And indeed look further into DPRK culture and we find so many gems. Again I have never in the West seen a more deeply moving operatic musical than DPRK’s The Flower Girl. A powerfully moving drama with wonderful actors actresses expressing the oppression and struggles faced by so many in our world, East and West.

On all counts taking a sweep of modern 20th century history North Korean people are to my mind some of the bravest in the world. Truly heroic. They took as much horror bombing and probably more than Vietnam and survived and to their huge credit, grounded in their founding philosophy Juche, self-reliance and independence, rebuilt their US annihilated country. Beautiful clean modern working cities. A huge credit to any nation.

Why not nuclear armed DPRK – there are sound universal deterrent reasons

Why then should DPRK not have nuclear defence to protect their country ? Look what the US and West does to countries that have no nuclear defence : Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria – bombed to shreds, millions die, countries set back decades, when it suits the West. But the US thinks twice and twice again when it’s the Russian Federation, or the People’s Republic of China, with nuclear deterrents.

The West needs to grow up and quickly before we have nuclear war on the planet led by a Western leader who clearly has yet to work his way through adolescence. We need to focus on the gathering thunder. There is no doubt in my mind many at the highest command levels in the USA will be thrilled with a high technology bomb delivery war – on yet again another country far from the USA.

The US military all ranks will be excited. But then new game station generations have forgotten Vietnam and the Korean War that was disregarded long ago hence its epitaph “The Forgotten War”. No matter that one and a half million Korean civilians men women and children died in the war, in their own towns and homes. And indeed, as I would say to anyone planning war, get a sledgehammer and high octane burner and go to work on your nearest and dearest, including your children. That is the true horror of warfare all the more horrific when it is phosphorus high octane napalm bombing of civilian cities.

In all consideration the deepest of deep tragedies for humanity that the West cannot see how, in conflict, belligerents mirror each other’s behaviour. It is the US that brings huge military armadas to the South China Sea. Wouldn’t any country be terrified with such enormous destructive fire power on their doorstep, from a USA that seven decades ago bombed their country flat ?

Give the Korean people the space to reconcile north and south

In huge contrast what we see in the East is what has been lost from all sight in our mass consumption West and that is the Wisdom of the East. They have the wisdom to understand that small scale shared positive experience, as in engaging jointly in the Winter Olympics, is the way that people one to one begin to get to know one-another. And from that you quietly build. Not on world stages shouting one another down : “Fire and Fury” with the even more juvenile “Mine’s bigger than yours”. No different to Bush’s “Shock and Awe” twenty years ago which then spawned wars to this day throughout the Middle East.

The USA – showing itself time and again to be the most dangerous and mentally weak country on the planet – needs to demilitarise in South Korea and leave the Korean people to work out their own future. And that is weak USA on the point we don’t need in a modern 21st century world battle fleets along with bellicose threats. That speaks of weakness, not strength. Strength is having the courage to use world politics through an inclusive United Nations. The courage to use dialogue and communication. The courage to pursue and take risks, for peace. And in that earning respect and building confidence in our world.

All the Western propaganda from the 1950s that Communism was sweeping South Asia refused to recognise the fact that vast numbers in Asia did and still do hold to socialist and communist values. Now then seven decades later the US needs to step back and leave the Korean people to assess their different political systems and work out how best to make this work for Korea. Parallel nations at peace, or integration of the best of systems both sides of the 39th parallel. If Western US led market capitalism is so superior to centralised communism it will speak for itself. Not need enormous battle fleets and militarisation to enforce one political ideology on another.

That such massive forces are in play with potential planet destroying consequences with millions of lives destroyed only goes to show the huge lack of self-confidence in those who take the lead wielding these weapons. It is Korea’s huge misfortune at the end of WW2 – following decades of brutal Japanese occupation – to end up on a world tectonic plate between Capitalism and Communism. We now have an absolute duty to help this country build safety and security into the 21st century.

Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation

January 21st, 2018 by Mike Whitney

On January 17,  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the creation of a de facto autonomous Kurdish state in east Syria that will be supported by the United States and defended by a US-backed “proxy” army of occupation. Tillerson’s announcement was made at a confab he attended at Stanford University at the Hoover Institute. According to The Hill:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday outlined a new U.S. strategy in Syria, hinging on maintaining an indefinite military presence in the country with the goal of ousting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and keeping militant groups at bay.

Speaking at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Tillerson sought to make the case for an extended U.S. military role, backed by a United Nations-brokered political solution, in the war-torn country.

A U.S. withdrawal, he said, would likely have disastrous consequences.

“Total withdrawal would restore Assad and continue brutal treatment of his own people,” Tillerson said. (Tillerson outlines plan for long-term US military role in Syria”, The Hill)

Tillerson’s comments underscore the fact that recent setbacks in the 7-year-long conflict, have not dampened Washington’s determination to topple the elected government of Syria and to impose its own political vision on the country.  They also confirm that the United States intends to occupy parts of Syria for the foreseeable future.  As the article clearly states:

The secretary’s remarks on Wednesday signaled his most explicit endorsement yet for long-term U.S. military presence in the country.  (The Hill)

On Thursday, Tillerson backtracked from his earlier statement saying his comments had been “misportrayed”.

“That entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed, (and) some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all,” (Tillerson said)

Regrettably, the media did not “misportray” Washington’s intentions or policy. In fact, the details have been circulating since last weekend when an article appeared in The Defense Post announcing the creation of 30,000 man border security force. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State is currently training a force to maintain security along the Syrian border as the operation against ISIS shifts focus. The 30,000-strong force will be partly composed of veteran fighters and operate under the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces, CJTF-OIR told The Defense Post.

“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” ….Public Affairs Officer Colonel Thomas F. Veale said….

“The BSF will be stationed along the Euphrates River Valley – marking the western edge of the territory within Syria currently controlled by SDF – and the Iraqi and Turkish borders,” he said. (The Defense Post)

As we have noted before, Washington is determined to throw up an iron curtain along the Euphrates consistent with its plan to split Syria into smaller parts, support the central government’s enemies, and create a safe haven for launching attacks on the government in Damascus. Seen in this light, the 30,000-man “border security force” is not a border security force at all, but a slick Madison Avenue-type sobriquet for Washington’s proxy army of occupation.  The fact that “The Coalition told The Defense Post that ‘north army’ was not a recognized term in Syria,” indicates the importance Washington places on its particular “product branding”.  The “border security force” (BSF) moniker helps to conceal the fact that Washington has armed and trained a mainly-Kurdish proxy-army to pursue Washington’s strategic objectives in Syria which include toppling the government of Bashar al Assad, splintering the country into smaller tribal-run territories, and installing a compliant stooge in the Capitol who will follow Washington’s diktats.

In order to achieve those goals, Washington has had to make critical concessions to its Kurdish allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is ‘an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria dominated by the Kurdish YPG.’  The Kurds expect the US to honor its demands for a Kurdish homeland, an autonomous statelet carved out of Syria’s northeast quadrant, the portion of territory east of the Euphrates captured during the fight against ISIS.  Tillerson’s announcement confirmed that the US will support the defense of this territory by its Kurdish proxies inferring that the Trump administration has thrown its weigh behind the unilateral creation of a Kurdish state in east Syria.  (Publicly, the US opposes the creation of Kurdistan, but its actions on the ground, indicate its support.) Naturally, this has not gone-over well with the other countries in the region that have struggled to contain Kurdish aspirations for a homeland. The leaders of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey all oppose the emergence of a Kurdistan, although Turkey’s president Erdogan has been the most outspoken by far. According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  threatened to thwart the creation of a U.S-backed 30,000-strong border security force manned mostly by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria. Turkey’s armed forces completed preparations for an operation against the YPG in their strongholds Afrin, in northwestern Syria, and Manbij, in northern Syria, Erdoğan said on Jan. 15 at an opening ceremony in Ankara.

“The operation may start any time. Operations into other regions will come after,” the president said, noting that the Turkish army was already hitting YPG positions.

“America has acknowledged it is in the process of creating a terror army on our border. What we have to do is nip this terror army in the bud,” Erdoğan said….“We won’t be responsible for the consequences.” (The Hurriyet)

It’s worth noting that the US never consulted its NATO ally, Turkey, before initiating its current plan. This suggests that the foreign policy wonks who concocted this misguided scheme must have thought that Erdogan and his fellows would be duped by the paper-thin public relations smokescreen of “border security”.  Washington’s reliance on Information Operations and propaganda may have clouded its judgement and impaired its ability to understand how their public relations scam could blow up in their faces. (which it did.)

Despite the foofaraw, there’s nothing new about Washington’s determination to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, in fact, that has been the plan from Day 1. The basic US strategy in Syria has been modified many times in the last few years, particularly after Syrian forces liberated Syria’s industrial hub, Aleppo, which was the turning point in the conflict. Since then, news has circulated about a Plan B, which accepts the reality that Assad will remain in power after the war has ended, but redirects US efforts towards more achievable goals like seizing the vast expanse of land east of the Euphrates which can be used for future regime-destabilizing operations.

The basic outline for Plan B was presented in a Brookings Institute report by chief military analyst, Michael O’ Hanlon.  Here’s a clip from his 2014 article  titled “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war”:

…the only realistic path forward may be a plan that in effect deconstructs Syria….the international community should work to create pockets with more viable security and governance within Syria over time… Creation of these sanctuaries would produce autonomous zones that would never again have to face the prospect of rule by either Assad or ISIL….

(“Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war“, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institute)

The occupation of east Syria by Kurdish proxies is consistent with O’ Hanlon’s basic plan to fragment the country and create pockets of resistance that will be supported by the US. It is a variation of the divide and conquer theme the US has used in numerous times in the past.

Plan B is Washington’s fallback position now that regime change is no longer within reach. The strategy suggests that Washington never planned to leave after ISIS was defeated, but always intended to stay on to establish bases in the east, (According to Bloomberg News, the US now has 10 permanent bases east of the Euphrates)  support an army of occupation, and continue the war against the current government. That’s still the plan today, notwithstanding Washington’s failed attempt to conceal its motives behind its pathetic “border security force”.   Erdogan and the rest have already seen through that sham and expressed their unhappiness.

The problem with Plan B is that it presumes that Russia and its coalition partners will try to liberate Kurdish-held east Syria and, thus, get bogged down in a bloody and protracted conflict that turns out to be a strategic nightmare as well as a public relations disaster. This is the scenario that Washington is hoping for. In fact,

Trump’s chief national security advisor  Lieutenant General H.R McMaster has written extensively on the topic and explained exactly how to undermine the efforts of an advancing army. Here’s an excerpt from a  presentation McMaster gave at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on May 4, 2016. He said:

 “…what is required to deter a strong nation that is waging limited war for limited objectives on battlegrounds involving weaker states … is forward deterrence, to be able to ratchet up the cost at the frontier, and to take an approach to deterrence that is consistent with deterrence by denial, convincing your enemy that your enemy is unable to accomplish his objectives at a reasonable cost rather than sort of an offshore balancing approach and the threat of punitive action at long distance later, which we know obviously from – recent experience confirms that that is inadequate.”

“Forward deterrence”? This needs to be clarified.

What McMaster is saying, is that, instead of threatening to retaliate at some time in the future,  the US should use ‘deterrence by denial’, that is, make it as hard and as costly as possible for Russia to achieve its strategic objectives. (McMaster’s comments focus on Russia’s involvement in Syria.) By supporting its Kurdish fighters and establishing permanent US bases, McMaster thinks the US can frustrate Russia’s effort to restore Syria’s borders which is one of the primary goals of the mission.  The objective of forward deterrence is not to win the war, but to prevent the enemy from winning.  The downside to this theory is that– when neither side prevails– there is no political settlement, no end to the fighting, and no path for returning people to their homes so they can resume their lives in peace and security.  It is, in fact, a plan designed to perpetuate the suffering, perpetuate the destruction and perpetuate the bloodletting. It’s a solution that provides no solution, a war without end.

More importantly, “Forward deterrence” is a military strategy that ignores the broader political situation which has been adversely impacted by Washington’s ‘border security forces’ announcement. Now the cards are on the table and all the main players can see what the US really has up its sleeve.  Leaders in Syria, Iraq, Iran and particularly Turkey can see that Washington is not an honest broker, but a crafty and cold-blooded opportunist willing to throw even its allies under the bus to achieve its own narrow geopolitical objectives.

As a result, Erdogan has moved closer to Russia which has sent up red flags in Washington as one would expect.  After all– in the broader scheme of things–  Turkey is more important to the US than Ukraine. It is the essential landbridge and energy hub that is destined to bind Europe and Asia together into the world’s biggest free trade zone. If Turkey breaks out of Washington’s orbit and moves into Moscow’s camp, Washington’s plan to ‘pivot to Asia’  will collapse in a heap.

So while McMaster might think that forward deterrence will prevent Russia from achieving its objectives, it’s clear that the policy is already working in Putin’s favor. Every miscue that Washington makes only adds to Putin’s credibility and reputation as a reliable partner. Simply put: The Russian president is gradually replacing Washington as the guarantor of regional security. This is a tectonic development and one that US powerbrokers will definitely regret in the future.

A ‘changing of the guard’ is underway in the energy-rich Middle East, and Washington is the odd-man-out.

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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 UNC – CFC – USFK | CC BY 2.0.