NATO’s “Fake News” Russia Scare Increases Defense Waste

September 25th, 2017 by Moon of Alabama

The military of the Russian Federation is organized in four districts – west, central, east and south. Each year one of the districts will stage a division size maneuver. 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers leave their quarters to move against imaginary adversaries. Their training is complemented by various military and civilian staffs exercises. The active part of the medium-size maneuver takes about a week and includes some live firing.

This year, like in 2009 and 2013, the turn was on the western military district to run its quadrennial exercise. It included, as is usual in the western district, units from and within Russia’s ally Belarus. The name of this regular training event is simply “West”, Zapad in Russian. Zapad-2017 was publicly announced and foreign military observers were invited to watch it.

NATO and its associated media used the occasion to launch a gigantic fear- and warmongering campaign against the Russian Federation. Over months hundreds of news pieces were weaved around dark murmurs from various NATO officials and “experts”. Examples:

The Zapad 2017 maneuvers ended yesterday. They were exactly what Russia and Belarus had announced – a regular, medium-size training event with no special intent or effect.

NATO and its various spokesperson had done what they like to accuse Russia of. They created fakenews about the maneuver based on nothing but hot air:

Zapad-2017 concluded earlier this week, by which time it had seriously fizzled out, in Western media terms at least.

And the Russians are enjoying a rare last laugh. They point out, with some justification, that their numbers were accurate, there was no dissembling, international borders were respected. All the Russian troops introduced into neighbouring Belarus for the exercise are going home, too. After all the Western accusations that Russia has been waging an information war with the help of “fake news”, who is disseminating “fake news” now, they ask. Is this not further evidence that Western opinion formers are stuck in the rut of Cold War stereotypes? They have a point.

The Western “opinion formers” have, of course, reason to hype everything their selected boogeyman does. That reason is greed. This year nearly all NATO countries increased their military budgets. The U.S. Senate passed a record $700 billion trough for the Pentagon with 89 to 8 votes. The more than 10% budget increase was even higher that what President Trump had requested. It broke all earlier commitments:

The $700 billion is $91 billion beyond the spending caps outlined in the 2011 Budget Control Act, which demanded a “sequestration” of military spending in order to rein in federal costs.

There was no public outrage over this increase. Meanwhile Russia cut its 2018 defense budget by 25.5% down to a total of some $48 billion.

There is obviously little fear in Russia that the U.S. budget increase will effect U.S. military capabilities. The Russians are right. Most of the Pentagon budget goes to waste. The military as well as the politicians know this well. From a recent NYT piece about options against North Korean missiles:

Intercepting a warhead using missile defenses runs other dangers, White House officials have been told. If the American antimissile systems missed — against a single warhead, which should be the simplest target — it would undercut confidence in an infrastructure the United States has spent $300 billion to build over the past four decades.”

Missile defense is nonsense. Its principle is to hit one bullet with another bullet at several times the speed of sound and at distances of hundreds of miles. That is nearly impossible to do. Even the staged missile defense tests fail and the system as a whole does not work. The U.S. military is too afraid to use its $300 billion missile defense boondoggle because that would prove that it is one gigantic scam.

That does not restrain the politicians from adding money to it:

[The new budget] does authorize an additional $8.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency to strengthen homeland, regional and space missile defense. That authorization is $630 million above the Trump administration’s request.

The fakenews warmongering by NATO and western politicians about the Zapad maneuver helped to convince the sheeple that additional welfare projects for the owners of the military-industrial complex are necessary and justified.

Meanwhile health care for all, which would cost much less than missile defense, is too expensive to pass.

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It is the Unlimited Imperialists along the line of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon and Hitler who are now in charge of conducting American foreign policy…

Historically this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific was also designed to secure America’s economic exploitation of China pursuant to the euphemistic rubric of the “open door” policy. But over the next four decades America’s aggressive presence, policies, and practices in the so-called “Pacific” Ocean would ineluctably pave the way for Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and thus America’s precipitation into the ongoing Second World War. Today a century later the serial imperial aggressions launched, waged, and menaced by the neoconservative Republican Bush Junior administration then the neoliberal Democratic Obama administration and now the reactionary Trump administration threaten to set off World War III.

By shamelessly exploiting the terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001, the Bush Junior administration set forth to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Muslim States and Peoples of Color living in Central Asia and the Middle East and Africa under the bogus pretexts of

(1) fighting a war against “international terrorism” or “Islamic fundamentalism”; and/or

(2) eliminating weapons of mass destruction; and/or

(3) the promotion of democracy; and/or

(4) self-styled humanitarian intervention and its avatar “responsibility to protect” (R2P).

Only this time the geopolitical stakes are infinitely greater than they were a century ago: control and domination of the world’s hydrocarbon resources and thus the very fundaments and energizers of the global economic system – oil and gas. The Bush Junior/ Obama administrations targeted the remaining hydrocarbon reserves of Africa, Latin America (e.g., the Pentagon’s reactivization of the U.S. Fourth Fleet in 2008), and Southeast Asia for further conquest and domination, together with the strategic choke-points at sea and on land required for their transportation (e.g., Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti). Today the U.S. Fourth Fleet threatens oil-rich Venezuela and Ecuador for sure along with Cuba.

Toward accomplishing that first objective, in 2007 the neoconservative Bush Junior administration announced the establishment of the U.S. Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) in order to better control, dominate, steal, and exploit both the natural resources and the variegated peoples of the continent of Africa, the very cradle of our human species. In 2011 Libya and the Libyans proved to be the first victims to succumb to AFRICOM under the neoliberal Obama administration, thus demonstrating the truly bi-partisan and non-partisan nature of U.S. imperial foreign policy decision-making. Let us put aside as beyond the scope of this paper the American conquest, extermination, and ethnic cleansing of the Indians from off the face of the continent of North America. Since America’s instigation of the Spanish-American War in 1898, U.S. foreign policy decision-making has been alternatively conducted by reactionary imperialists, conservative imperialists, and liberal imperialists for the past 119 years and counting.

Trump is just another White Racist Iron Fist for Judeo-Christian U.S. Imperialism and Capitalism smashing all over the world. Trump forthrightly and proudly admitted that the United States is in the Middle East in order to steal their oil. At least he was honest about it. Unlike his predecessors who lied about the matter going back to President George Bush Sr. with his War for Persian Gulf oil against Iraq in 1991. Just recently, President Trump publicly threatened illegal U.S. military intervention against oil-rich Venezuela. Q.E.D.

This world-girdling burst of U.S. imperialism at the start of humankind’s new millennium is what my teacher, mentor, and friend the late, great Professor Hans Morgenthau denominated “unlimited imperialism” in his seminal book Politics Among Nations 52-53 (4th ed. 1968):

The outstanding historic examples of unlimited imperialism are the expansionist policies of Alexander the Great, Rome, the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries, Napoleon I, and Hitler. They all have in common an urge toward expansion which knows no rational limits, feeds on its own successes and, if not stopped by a superior force, will go on to the confines of the political world. This urge will not be satisfied so long as there remains anywhere a possible object of domination–a politically organized group of men which by its very independence challenges the conqueror’s lust for power. It is, as we shall see, exactly the lack of moderation, the aspiration to conquer all that lends itself to conquest, characteristic of unlimited imperialism, which in the past has been the undoing of the imperialistic policies of this kind….

Since September 11, 2001, it is the Unlimited Imperialists along the lines of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon, and Hitler who have been in charge of conducting American foreign policy decision-making. The factual circumstances surrounding the outbreaks of both the First World War and the Second World War currently hover like twin Swords of Damocles over the heads of all humanity.

After September 11, 2001 the people of the world witnessed successive governments in the United States that have demonstrated little respect for fundamental considerations of international law, human rights, and the United States Constitution. Instead, the world has watched a comprehensive and malicious assault upon the integrity of the international and domestic legal orders by gangs of men and women who are thoroughly Machiavellian in their perception of international relations and in their conduct of both foreign affairs and American domestic policy. Even more seriously, in many instances specific components of the U.S. government’s foreign policies constitute ongoing criminal activity under well-recognized principles of both international law and United States domestic law, and in particular the Nuremberg Charter (1945), the Nuremberg Judgment (1946), and the Nuremberg Principles (1950), as well as the Pentagon’s own U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 on The Law of Land Warfare, which applies to the President himself as Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces under Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

US army in Syria (Source: Inside Syria Media Center)

Depending on the substantive issues involved, these international and domestic crimes typically include but are not limited to the Nuremberg offences of “crimes against peace”—e.g., Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, and their longstanding threatened war of aggression against Iran. Their criminal responsibility also concerns crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as grave breaches of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the 1907 Hague Regulations on land warfare: torture, enforced disappearances, assassinations, murders, kidnappings, extraordinary renditions, “shock and awe,” depleted uranium, white phosphorous, cluster bombs, drone strikes, etc. Furthermore, various officials of the United States government have committed numerous inchoate crimes incidental to these substantive offences that under the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles as well as U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956) are international crimes in their own right: planning, and preparation, solicitation, incitement, conspiracy, complicity, attempt, aiding and abetting, etc. Of course the terrible irony of today’s situation is that seven decades ago at Nuremberg the U.S. government participated in the prosecution, punishment, and execution of Nazi government officials for committing some of the same types of heinous international crimes that these officials of the United States government currently inflict upon Peoples of Color all over the world. To be sure, I personally oppose the imposition of capital punishment upon any human being for any reason no matter how monstrous their crimes, whether they be Saddam Hussein, Bush Junior, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump.

According to basic principles of international criminal law set forth in paragraph 501 of U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, all high level civilian officials and military officers in the U.S. government who either knew or should have known that soldiers or civilians under their control (such as the C.I.A. or mercenary contractors), committed or were about to commit international crimes and failed to take the measures necessary to stop them, or to punish them, or both, are likewise personally responsible for the commission of international crimes. This category of officialdom who actually knew or should have known of the commission of these international crimes under their jurisdiction and failed to do anything about them include at the very top of America’s criminal chain-of-command the President, the Vice-President, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Director of National Intelligence, the C.I.A. Director, National Security Advisor and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff along with the appropriate Regional Commanders-in-Chiefs, especially for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and now U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Related image

Nuremberg Defendants (Source: news.dm)

These U.S. government officials and their immediate subordinates are responsible for the commission of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes as specified by the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles as well as by U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 of 1956. Today in international legal terms, the United States government itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, because of its formulation and undertaking of serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany. As a consequence, American citizens possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance designed to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to “defense” and “counter-terrorism.” They are the terrorists! They terrorize the entire world!

For that very reason, large numbers of American citizens have decided to act on their own cognizance by means of civil resistance in order to demand that U.S. government officials adhere to basic principles of international law, of U.S. domestic law, and of the U.S. Constitution in their conduct of foreign affairs and military operations. Mistakenly, however, such actions have been defined to constitute classic instances of “civil disobedience” as historically practiced in the United States. And the conventional status quo admonition by the U.S. power elite and its sycophantic news media for those who knowingly engage in “civil disobedience” has always been that they must meekly accept their punishment for having performed a prima facie breach of the positive laws as a demonstration of their good faith and moral commitment. Nothing could be further from the truth! Today’s civil resisters are the sheriffs! The U.S. government officials are the outlaws!

Here I would like to suggest a different way of thinking about civil resistance activities that are specifically designed to thwart, prevent, or impede ongoing criminal activity by officials of the U.S. government under well‑recognized principles of international and U.S. domestic law. Such civil resistance activities represent the last constitutional avenue open to the American people to preserve their democratic form of government with its historical commitment to the rule of law and human rights. Civil resistance is the last hope Americans have to prevent the U.S. government from moving even farther down the paths of lawless violence in Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, military interventionism into Latin America, and nuclear confrontation with Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, and China.

Such measures of “civil resistance” must not be confused with, and indeed must be carefully distinguished from, acts of “civil disobedience” as traditionally defined. In today’s civil resistance cases, what we witness are American citizens attempting to prevent the ongoing commission of international and domestic crimes under well-recognized principles of international law and U.S. domestic law. This is a phenomenon essentially different from the classic civil disobedience cases of the 1950s and 1960s where incredibly courageous African Americans and their supporters were conscientiously violating domestic laws for the express purpose of changing them. By contrast, today’s civil resisters are acting for the express purpose of upholding the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution, human rights, and international law. Applying the term “civil disobedience” to such civil resistors mistakenly presumes their guilt and thus perversely exonerates the U.S. government criminals.

Civil resistors disobeyed nothing, but to the contrary obeyed international law and the United States Constitution. By contrast, U.S. government officials grossly violated fundamental principles of international law as well as U.S. criminal law and thus committed international crimes and U.S. domestic crimes as well as impeachable violations of the United States Constitution. The civil resistors are the sheriffs enforcing international law, U.S. criminal law and the U.S. Constitution against the criminals working for the U.S. government!

Today the American people must reaffirm their commitment to the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles by holding their government officials fully accountable under international law and U.S. domestic law for the commission of such grievous international and domestic crimes. They must not permit any aspect of their foreign affairs and defense policies to be conducted by acknowledged “war criminals” according to the U.S. government’s own official definition of that term as set forth in U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956), the U.S. War Crimes Act, the Geneva Conventions, and the Hague Regulations, inter alia. The American people must insist upon the impeachment, dismissal, resignation, indictment, conviction, and long-term incarceration of all U.S. government officials guilty of such heinous international and domestic crimes. If not so restrained by civil resistance, the U.S. government could very well precipitate a Third World War. That is precisely what American civil resisters are doing today!

The future of American foreign policy and the peace of the world lie in the hands of American citizens—not the bureaucrats, legislators, judges, lobbyists, think-tankers, professors, and self-styled experts who inhibit Washington, D.C., New York City, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hyde Park/Chicago, Illinois. Civil resistance is the way to go! This is our Nuremberg Moment now! Thank you.

Professor Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert and served as Legal Advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasser Arafat on the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, as well as to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations from 1991 to 1993, where he drafted the Palestinian counter-offer to the now defunct Oslo Agreement. His books include “ Palestine, Palestinians and International Law” (2003), and “ The Palestinian Right of Return under International Law” (2010).

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Contact at [email protected].

Syria and its people are victims of US aggression – ISIS and like-minded terrorists used as imperial foot soldiers, along with Pentagon-led terror-bombing since September 2014, massacring tens of thousands of civilians, destroying vital infrastructure on the phony pretext of combating the Islamic State Washington supports.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Moualem used his UN address to blast America and its rogue allies, while expressing gratitude to Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah for their vital support – combating the scourge of terrorism Washington supports.

Obama’s war, now Trump’s, has been raging for six-and-a-half years, ongoing because America rejects peace, wanting regime change, Syria transformed into a US vassal state, puppet governance replacing its sovereign independence.

Millions of Syrians remain internally and externally displaced. Humanitarian crisis conditions persist, aid forthcoming only from Russia and Iran.

None from Washington. None from other Western countries. None from regional ones besides Iran. Practically none from the UN.

Moualem explained

“a persistent standoff between two sets of forces: forces that seek to control and dominate nations and their riches, by turning back the clock, re-establishing a unipolar world order, fueling chaos and war, and violating international and humanitarian laws: and opposite forces that work tirelessly to create a more balanced, secure, and just world, one that respects the sovereignty of the states and the right of peoples to exercise self-determination and build their own future.”

It’s clear which nations he means on each side.

“Syria is determined, more than ever, to eradicate terrorism from every part of the country, without exception, thanks to the sacrifices of our army and the steadfastness of our people,” Moualem continued.

His nation has two objectives – eliminating the scourge of US-supported terrorism, along with preserving and protecting its sovereign independence and territorial integrity.

Russia, Iran and Hezbollah share the same objectives. America and its rogue allies oppose them.

Syrian and allied forces have come a long way from earlier times, on the offensive, smashing terrorists, liberating cities, towns and villages from their scourge.

Turkey remains an enemy of Syria, not an ally or neutral party.

“Erdogan has persisted in (his) aggression…under the illusion that terrorism will help serve its subversive agendas in Syria and the countries of the region. Turkey’s position stands in stark contrast to the positive and constructive role played by Russia and Iran,” said Moualem.

Syria is committed to restoring peace and stability through responsible diplomacy, combating ISIS and other terrorists continuing their reign of terror on defenseless civilians.

Moualem blasted Israel for “its unscrupulous thuggish actions with full impunity,” adding:

“This usurper entity has occupied Arab territories in Palestine and the Golan for more than seventy years and has committed horrific crimes against innocent civilians.”

“It has publicly interfered in the Syrian crisis since its early days. Israel has provided all forms of support to Takfirist terrorist gangs, including funds, weapons, material, and communication equipment.”

“Israel has also bombed Syrian Army positions to serve terrorist agendas.”

“Coordination between the two was at its best when terrorist groups decided to target Syrian air defense assets used to defend Syria against Israeli aggression.”

Moualem blasted the so-called US-led coalition, massacring “innocent civilians…destroy(ing) vital infrastructure,” using banned weapons, supplying CWs to terrorists, Syria falsely blamed when they’re used.

Moualem criticized the UN’s “failure to uphold its own Charter and the principles of international law” – failing to condemn US-led aggression on Syria, complicit in its war crimes through silence, falsely blaming Damascus for responsibly defending the country and its people.

Moualem concluded saying

“(t)he Syrian people have stood their ground, against all odds, because they knew that this was a war that sought to eliminate their country, and with it, their own existence.”

“They are an example to follow by any people who might face, now or in the future, similar attempts to break their will and deny them their freedom and sovereignty.”

One day, Syria will be free from the scourge of US-supported terrorism and its occupation of parts of the country – because of the commitment of its military and allied forces to continue their liberating struggle.

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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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Below is the link to the full speech of Walid Al-Moualem at the UN General Assembly.

Statement by Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Walid Al-Moualem at the UN General Assembly

By Walid Al-Moualem, September 25, 2017

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Poroshenko and Trudeau: Canada’s Ukrainian Attitude

September 25th, 2017 by Jim Miles

“We continue to stand with Ukraine against the illegal illegitimate incursion of Russia into Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and their attempts to destabilize Ukraine economically and many other ways,” Trudeau said. CBC, September 22, 2017.  

Donbass

The Canadian government operates under as many double standards as that of the U.S. and its other NATO allies.  Russia did not invade Donbass, but more than likely supplied the rebel defenders with equipment, (much as the U.S. does globally). And what were they rebelling against, you dare not ask?

Well, they rebelled against the U.S. covert actions against the democratically elected government of Yanukovich, not wanting the newly installed neonazi Maidan strongmen (e.g. Arseniy Yatsenyuk) to control their region of the country. Further, the same bunch also used language that indicated they wished for ethnic cleansing and even genocide – Yulia Tymoshenko, the new revived darling of the western backed government, called for their complete destruction. The criminal Saakashvili (wanted for crimes in Georgia, his home state) is attempting to do something now that he has returned to Cherkasy in the geographical centre of Ukraine, another CIA sponsored overthrow of their first internationally illegal operation?

The Minsk agreement is an agreement signed between Donetsk-Luhansk on one side and Ukraine on the other, with France and Germany as co-signees – not the Russians. The agreement calls for unconditional ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners of war, and constitutional reform in Ukraine. All of these are dependent on the Ukraine government in Kiev to act upon (not Russia) and they have not acted on any of them.

Heavy weapons have not been withdrawn and continue to fire daily and nightly from the front line into the Donbass region, mostly at civilian targets. Some prisoners were exchanged, but many from the Minsk side were simply civilians rounded up to use as ‘trade’. There has been no constitutional reform from the Ukrainian Rada.

The current desire to place peacekeepers inside Donbass is a non-starter for Donbass residents who have suffered under continual artillery fire since the Minsk agreement was signed. If the peacekeepers were on the ceasefire line, that might be acceptable, but for Poroshenko that obviously recognizes that the real problem is internal rather than with Russia.

Canada’s integrity

So where else is Canada concerned about territorial integrity? Hmmm, perhaps Syria, with its support for U.S. actions against Assad – nominally against terrorism, but the intelligent broad reader would know that the real target is Assad astride a critical oil route (as well as having ongoing troubles with Israel, the country that illegally annexed the Golan Heights, an action that the Canadian government never criticizes.)

Or perhaps Libya? Canada was one of the lead brave bombers that destroyed that country, aggravating the ISIS terror nexus, aggravating the immigrant problem to the EU, once again supporting U.S. international criminal actions under the false accusation of genocide (there wasn’t any, Gaddafi was fighting against ISIS affiliates in his eastern provinces).

Or maybe Yugoslavia/Serbia, where once again the brave Canadian bombers destroyed civilian infrastructure and more in order to carve apart another country that did not fit the U.S. definition of what a country should be – that is, subservient to the U.S., as Canada is.

Crimea

Trudeau and cohorts would of course cry out that Crimea is an obvious illegal international intervention. But consider….Crimea had always wanted independence from Ukraine ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Twice they voted for it, twice they were denied it by Ukraine, and Russia at that time was to weak to do anything to assist them (remember originally Crimea had been ‘gifted’ to Ukraine by Khrushchev).

When the U.S./Yatsenyuk team overthrew the duly elected (if corrupt) government, the Russian forces already in Crimea blocked any attempts of the Ukraine towards violent actions such as happened at the Maidan, in Odessa, and in Donbass. Really they should be thanked for the prevention of another area with a large loss of life due to U.S. imperial desires (sort of like they should be thanked for destroying most of ISIS in Syria, you know, the Saudi backed group the U.S. covertly supports).

It also became known that U.S. warships were bound for the Crimean port of Sevastopol, an action prevented by the quick move of the Russian forces stationed there. What would have happened if the U.S. had arrived first, once again violating an international boundary – well of course, the sycophantic Canadian government would have lauded the action, while the Ukrainian forces rampaged against all things Russian in Crimea – which is most of it.

Following that a referendum was held to know if the people wished to join with Russia. The vast majority said yes, not at gunpoint as the western MSM wished to argue, and the Russian Duma accepted the request. Peaceful, no lives lost, and Crimea is better off than the rest of Ukraine and the Donbass.

Trudeau can lament that all he wants, there is no way Crimea will voluntarily return to Ukraine. But as long as the U.S. wants it, so long as the domestic Ukrainian lobby wants it, so the lament will continue.

Economic destabilizing

If the actions of the countries involved are looked at closely, the main economic destabilizing factor for Ukraine has been its own actions. It was Ukraine that blocked coal shipments from Donbsas. It was Ukraine that stopped the farmers and citizens of Kherson from trading with Crimea. It was Ukraine that knocked down power lines to Crimea, and cut of water to Crimea as well as parts of Donbass. It is Ukraine that continues to shell civilian structures in Donbass (water pumping stations, power stations, railways, schools, hospitals et al) causing serious economic damage to that region. Donbass has not responded in kind, and has withdrawn its heavy weapons from the contact line.

Ukraine itself has devolved into familiarity, with various oligarchs controlling the political, industrial, and financial actions both domestically and internationally that have ruined much of what little the Ukrainian people had. Factories are closing (lack of coal, lack of orders, for the latter a significant part being industries that used to sell equipment to Russia). The war effort of Kiev against Donbass is itself a costly affair, both in human lives and in economic losses to the economy.

Canada’s Ukrainian attitude

Canada’s Ukrainian attitude – that is its anti-Russian attitude – is a combination of both domestic politics as well as its subservient role to U.S. interests via NATO. The ultimate U.S. goal is to deconstruct if not destroy Russia, to make it part of the U.S. empire as it tries for global hegemony. Unfortunately for the world it is that very U.S. imperial desire that has wreaked havoc across many countries on all continents of the world.

Personally, I support the actions of Russia in Syria, an area where they are operating within international law, as opposed to the U.S., Canada and all the other uninvited nations fighting – theoretically – against terrorism. Given the global method that the U.S. uses to destabilize nations – through economics (sanctions, embargoes et al) combined with covert military means that frequently become overt military means – I support the growing positive relations between Russia and China and their efforts at building infrastructure and economic relationships across Eurasia (and Africa and Latin America), without using the military.

That of course is another reason for Ukraine being used as it is – to keep Eurasia from developing independence from the U.S. economic system and the reserve currency status of the US$. With Ukraine as another puppet U.S./EU/NATO government, it will be easier to try and block the Chinese BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). That then spreads globally to U.S. actions in Syria, Iran and anywhere else in the Greater Middle East where Canada plays its supporting role in all things imperial. After all it’s only natural – the U.S. and Canada are children of the once greatest colonial-settler imperial nation in the world, the U.K.

In short then, Canada’s Ukrainian attitude is supported by its internal Ukrainian cohort and more broadly by its warmongering imperial backing of U.S. adventurism to capture…well, the world.

Featured image is from Radio Canada International.

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Art and Politics, and Why Happiness Is Overrated

September 25th, 2017 by Prof Susan Babbitt

As the thinking man was overtaken by a great storm, he was sitting in a big car and took up a lot of space.

The first thing he did was to get out of his car.

The second was to take off his jacket. The third was to lie down on the ground.

Thus reduced to his smallest magnitude he withstood the storm.

Such was the lesson Bertoldt Brecht took from ancient Chinese theatre. 1 It was how he survived. The Nazis forced him from Germany into impoverished exile in Scandinavia. Later, he suffered humiliating anti-communist harassment in the U.S. His strategy was always: the best resistance is no resistance.

It doesn’t mean to cave. Brecht opposed his “thinking man” to an image common in European theatre: the individual “standing tall” against the wind, fighting the storm. Brecht’s realism was to see a situation for what it is, discover its real opportunities, and survive knowingly, until the storm passed.

It is not easy to do. It means seeing things as they are, not as you want them to be, suspending expectations, or at least not being defined by them. Some think it is not possible to be realist in Brecht’s sense. They say we can’t live without “dreams”, without things to “look forward to”.

They call that “hope”. The medical establishment is obsessed with it. As a cancer patient for many years, I got tired of hope. It seemed delusional. It was as if seeing things as they are – bad! – was not allowed. Realism means we can discover truth, even unexpected.

And we can learn to live with it, fully, with open eyes.

In the rich North, culturally, we don’t believe in truths. We believe in happiness and choice. Truth and happiness don’t always go together. There’s a simple reason. We are happy when expectations are realized, when dreams come to pass, when we get what we want. But expectations, dreams and desires come from society. Truth, if we believed in it, removes their lustre.

One truth, for instance, is that a fraction of the world’s population “lives well”. Another is that we live well because others don’t. We kill and rob them to be “happy”. A further truth is that we think we live well precisely because we don’t think about these truths. The people we kill and rob, after all, don’t count. Finally, it happens to be true that we don’t live well. We are mostly depressed and anxious.

French poet, novelist and dramatist Victor Marie Hugo is shown in this undated photo. Hugo was born on May 22, 1802 in Besancon, France, and died in 1885 in Paris. (AP Photo)

Truth is an “implacable foe” of happiness. This is how Victor Hugo saw it. He wrote:

“Thoughtful people rarely use the terms, the happy and the unhappy…. The true division of humanity is this. Those filled with light and those filled with darkness”.

Hugo was a realist, like Brecht, Marx, José Martí.

It is why he valued art. He thought art, including the beauty of nature and people, matters for politics. 2 He didn’t look to art for fun, tranquility or escape. He looked for realism. Art is best experienced for what it is, not for its purpose. It might have a purpose but its value is not mainly instrumental.

Hugo thought human actions can be art. He called it “social beauty”. 3

Consider Inspector Javert. He relentlessly pursues ex-convict Jean Valjean. When Valjean has a chance to kill Javert, he frees him. Javert wants Valjean to kill him because that is what every part of him expected: an act of revenge. And when it doesn’t happen Javert feels “cut off from his past life”. Hugo writes that Javert saw what was “terrible .… He was moved”: by an instance of social beauty.

Hugo was not a liberal, as sometimes claimed. True, he valued individual freedom. But it was not the sort that liberalism proclaims: the individual “standing tall”, seizing their destiny.

We can’t do that, not as individuals.

It’s a lie, and leads to lies, like the medical establishment’s insistence on “hope”: Just believe everything will go back to where it was. It doesn’t happen, and believing it does not empower.

Hugo writes,

“There are those who ask for nothing more, living beings who, having bright blue skies above, say: This is enough …  people who, as long as there are clouds of purples and gold above their heads … are determined to be happy until the stars stop shining and the birds stop singling. These are the darkly radiant. They have no idea they are to be pitied. … Whoever does not weep does not see”.

The “darkly radiant”! Brecht saw an existential need for “every kind of truth”. He writes,

“When the thinking man conquered the storm, he did so because he recognized the storm and agreed to it. Thus, if you want to conquer death, you should recognize it and agree to it”.

It is a more interesting view of freedom than the one we’ve been saddled with for centuries of liberalism. It would be good if philosophers and political theorists looked further afield: Martí, Marx, even the Buddha. (He thought the “standing tall” image was evil).

Truth is only ever approximate. But we can keep moving in the direction.

Raúl Roa, student leader in the 1930s uprising in Cuba, later Cuba’s foreign minister, once defined humanism as the identification of lies. Humanism, he wrote, is “awareness in the face of conceptions that undermine, deform and eliminate the human personality”.4

Roa had in mind the lies of imperialism, including liberalism’s naïve freedoms: See the lies, and you’ll start to see beauty: social beauty.

Ana Belén Montes is social beauty, locked up under undeservedly harsh and demeaning conditions. 5

Please sign petition here.

Susan Babbitt is author of Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014) and José Martí, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Global Development Ethics (Palgrave MacMillan 2014).

Notes

1. Stephen Parker, Bertoldt Brecht: A literary life (2014)

2. Carmen Suárez León, José Martí y Victor Hugo, en el fiel de las modernidades (Havana: Centro de investigación y desarrollo de la cultura cubana, 1996)

3. I am grateful to Dr. Robert Rennebohm for pointing this out.

4. Bufa subversiva Havana: Ediciones la memoria,  2006

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

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

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Slow Boat to China

September 25th, 2017 by Dr. T. P. Wilkinson

There was a day
It was still called Cathay
By those in the West
Who travelled that way
Silk and tea
Porcelain and spice
They brought us
spaghetti
We even took rice.
For centuries
We bought there
Things we don’t need
Brought for those
Whose moral was greed
The rice we still eat
The tea we still drink
But with preference
For substances
By which we don’t think.
They sold us their goods
For silver we stole
We blasted their ports
Filled their cities with holes
Now that they make
All the things that we take
Our vanity cries
To tell them more lies
With centuries past
Recovery fast
No longer the first
We’re afraid to be last.

***

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa (Maisonneuve Press, 2003). Read other articles by T.P..

This poem was originally published by Dissident Voice.

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“Saldremos adelante!” (“We can only move forward!”). This is what a colleague exclaimed during one of my several phone calls to Havana in the days after Irma unleashed its wrath on the capital.

Others, when asked how they, their families, colleagues and neighbours were faring, declared in a similar manner, “We are fighters,” “We are never defeated” and “We are in the battle for recovery.”

Despite this attitude, they were unanimous in their emphasis that Cuba’s situation is “critical,” having suffered the most devastating hurricane in about 85 years. This coincides with Raúl Castro’s message to the people, when he said,

“No one should be fooled; the task we have before us is huge.”

Another colleague remarked that the Cubans’ trademark solidarity immediately became stronger and more widespread in the course of Irma’s fury on Havana. For example, in a small apartment building without gas or electricity for cooking, one family used charcoal to prepare meals for all the residents, using everyone’s food that was otherwise perishing in their refrigerators. Another colleague, a journalist, recounted how she was able to meet the deadline for her story despite her office building remaining without electricity, thanks to being granted access to the headquarters of another news outlet. One can hardly imagine a similar situation taking place in the US! Would CNN and FOX collaborate this way? Would the capitalist New York Times share its offices with its diehard competitor The Wall Street Journal? In the same manner, in Canada, can anyone imagine such cooperation between archrivals The Globe and Mailand the Toronto Star? This is just one great advantage of the Cuban press not being privately controlled. All of the above and countless other examples are also reflected in Raúl’s statement “with a people like ours, we will win the most important battle: recovery.”

In fact, only three days after these initial phone conversations, the same people reported that their electricity and gas had been restored but that, sadly, many small towns on the north coast have been devastated to the extent that normal services and housing had not yet come close to being restored.

The Cuban Revolution and Notions of Defeat Are Incompatible

The Cuban Revolution does not know the meaning of defeat. It likewise does not accept in its collective and individual minds the notion of fear or despair. This new consciousness began developing in Cuba since 1959, solidifying and deepening over the decades in the face of adversity. This unique feature was noticeable before Irma, but it has become ever more evident these past two weeks. Its latest expression in the dramatic days during and after Irma could not help one to think of the first two sentences of the Cuban Constitution, which states that Cuban citizens express “combativity, firmness, heroism and sacrifice fostered by our ancestors.” An early example of this consists of “the Indians who preferred extermination to submission.” The 16th-century Taíno Indian chief Hatuey is a legend in Cuba. On February 2, 1512, Hatuey was tied to a stake at the Spanish camp, where he was burned alive. Just before lighting the fire, a priest offered him spiritual comfort, showing him the cross and asking him to accept Jesus and go to heaven. “Are there people like you in heaven?” he asked. “There are many like me in heaven,” replied the priest. Hatuey answered that he wanted nothing to do with a god that would allow such cruelty to be unleashed in his name.

Raul Castro cropped.jpg

Raul Castro (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This fierce characteristic of the native people remains true of the Cuban people today. The same cannot be said of the European peoples, nations and their descendants as a whole, with the exception of the Cuban nation, which, faced with one adversity or another ­– whether it be successive hurricanes, Moncada, post-1959 terrorist attacks on the island, the Bay of Pigs or the fall of the former USSR and Eastern European socialist countries (with which 85% of Cuba’s economy was entangled) – have demonstrated an indelible feature of their collectivity: the impossibility to accept defeat.

Cuba accomplished this not only since 1959, but also as far back as the wars of independence in the second half of the 19th century. One notable example of this historical period is the Protest of Baraguá. Cuban independence fighter Antonio Maceo could not accept defeat because he did not feel defeated – he had been winning his battles and had a good military organization. In the Baraguá (eastern Cuba) meeting with the Spanish, he strongly objected to the terms of the peace agreement, which the conciliatory section of the resistance to the Spanish accepted, deeming the agreement to be insulting and brushing aside its promise of concessions. Cuba is an eternal Baraguá, as they say.

This feature of the Cuban people having revolutionized their mentality as a people and a nation in a protracted process, obliterating any notion of fear and defeat while replacing it with a firmly based new consciousness, is not only inspired by the inevitable victory over adversity, but is also of historic importance for this century. In Latin America, the Bolivarian Revolution (with its more than 8 million proactive people) is another example, even though it has not yet penetrated the Venezuelan people or nation as a whole.

It seems as if the overwhelming majority of Cuban people have reached this new consciousness, as it existed among the native peoples for thousands of years. The latter’s mindset constitutes an entirely different mentality generally not found as a distinguishing characteristic among European nations and their descendants. The Cuban off-springs of the Spanish and other Europeans, Africans, Chinese and others as a new nation have been evolving in the course of revolutionary struggles since 1868, with a renewed spark after the 1953 Moncada attack. This fearless way of thinking and corresponding actions seems to have merged into an entirely new national idiosyncrasy that has far more in common with the heritage of the native peoples than with that of the Europeans.

“Survival of the Fittest?”

The words that follow may stir some interest as well as cackles. It is a historical fact that the Cuban Revolution has survived against all odds and predictions despite, among other factors, the five-decade-long blockade and the earthshaking fall of the USSR, which was supposed to have sounded the death knell for the socialist revolution. Instead, rather than merely surviving it, Cuba has evolved further – socially and culturally – while constituting an unprecedented model of international solidarity. And, let us not forget, all this has transpired within the limits of the blockade, whose goal, it must always be recalled, is the protracted genocide of the Cuban people.

While social science is far from able to provide an exhaustive analysis, explanation or encouragement of this rare phenomenon that is the Cuba Revolution, the metaphoric use of natural science may be of assistance in reflection. Charles Darwin showed that, as part of natural evolution, only the fittest survive extinction. The Cuban Revolution is indeed the “fittest,” in the sense that it has imbued the vast majority of Cuban people composing the nation to overcome even the most difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

This mentality of refusing to accept defeat was also reflected in the call by Raúl to his people, when he ended by saying,

“We face the recovery with the example of Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana, Fidel Castro Ruz, who, with his unwavering confidence in victory and iron will, taught us that nothing is impossible. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.”

Fidel is at once the main impulse and guide, through his thinking, action and example for the Cuban Revolution. He embodies this iron will to fight off attacks from all hostile tendencies inside and outside Cuba to defeat any challenge that stands in its way and thus come out victorious.

International Solidarity

The Cuban people have proven themselves to be world leaders when it comes to international solidarity, and the love they have extended to others has been rewarded with the rapid material and moral support of Russia, Vietnam and countries in Latin America. For example, in a briefing after Irma hit Cuba, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, with his Chavista flair, showed a video of a Hercules plane loaded with material support landing on a makeshift runway cleared by the Cuban government as part of reopening of the Havana airport.

More than ever before, Cuba needs and deserves such material and moral support. While Cuba receives this type of solidarity from around the planet, Trump has signed the Trading with the Enemy Act once again, and made a statement on September 13 about human rights violations in Cuba and Venezuela. This was followed by the callous statement of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He stated on September 16 that, in light of the alleged and totally non-founded sonic interference by Cuba against the American diplomats in Havana, the US is considering closing its Embassy in Havana. He said with a callousness completely oblivious to the suffering of the Cuban people by the very real Irma:

“It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals [American diplomats] have suffered.”

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau’s Canadian government is among the Western countries that have not issued any statement of support or solidarity with Cuba. This is a sad reality, given Canada’s special relationship with Cuba, having not ever broken diplomatic ties with the country. In fact, Justin Trudeau’s father was the first Western leader to visit Cuba and express solidarity with Fidel Castro and “Cuba Libre.” Justin Trudeau himself visited Cuba and met with Raúl Castro only days before Fidel passed away. Furthermore, Canada has been the biggest source of tourism for Cuba for several decades, to the extent that millions of Canadians have visited the island not only once, but multiple times, making Cuba practically a home away from home for many.

One may hope that the Trudeau government will rectify and at least express its moral support, which would very much encourage the Cubans, who are conscious of this special Cuba–Canada relationship forged to an extent by the Trudeau tradition. As far as critically needed financial and material support, Canada should overcome its self-imposed bureaucracy and provide immediate aid. According to the website of the Cuban Mission in Ottawa, the first on the list of material needs is construction material. Canada is the fifth in the world as far as lumber production and hovers between the first and second of the world’s top exporters of timber products. Should Canada not immediately consider overcoming any obstacle and make use of this plentiful natural resource that is so necessary for Cuba in this critical situation?

This obstinacy by some Western governments – such as the US, Canada, the UK, the rest of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as others – is in contrast to the attitude of solidarity organizations and other institutions in these countries that are going all out to raise relief funds at the grassroots level to support Cuba. While all countries in the Caribbean also need this support, Cuba was the hardest hit in terms of quantity of infrastructure and the number of people affected by Irma. It is also a political issue, in terms of supporting the survival of the Cuban Revolution, which is now facing an unprecedented climate challenge. Furthermore, the hurricane season still has close to another three months to go, as some of my colleagues in Havana have pointed out.

The American Blockade and Irma

Cuba is also facing a new disinformation campaign from mass media and others. Many are having a field day describing housing, roofs and other structures as being “dilapidated,” which to an extent is true, especially in cities such as Havana. But is this a feature of the Cuban system? The impression given is that any problematic housing and infrastructure is entirely Cuba’s fault and thus proof of the “failure of socialism.” However, what about the effects of the blockade, which was mainly completely ignored in these reports or reduced to a footnote? As mentioned by Cuban colleagues in Havana who were consulted on this issue of disinformation,

“It is no accident that these media hide or minimize the effects of the blockade.”

The cumulative effect of the blockade since 1961 seriously hinders normal economic development in Cuba. The blockade itself resulted from the original genocidal goal to make Cuba bend to its knees and give in to the US empire. Watching Cuban TV during and immediately after Irma, it was clear that the blockade has had a cataclysmic effect on the damage, just as it is having now with the recovery.

Take, for example, construction and infrastructures, where “dilapidated” housing is more likely a direct result of the blockade, which led to $30,868,200 in damages in a single year alone, spanning 2015–2016. One of the main causes of damages was the lack of access to lightweight and efficient construction technologies and energy components, which are available on the US market or are produced by subsidiaries of US-based companies. Could this not be the main cause of the “dilapidated” housing, notwithstanding any Cuban domestic insufficiencies?

This situation requires that we outside of Cuba counter the disinformation campaign against the Cuban Revolution and demand the complete lifting of the blockade, as part of our expression of financial, material and moral solidarity with Cuba.

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and the recently released  Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August and FaceBook

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President of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly,

I would like to congratulate you on your election as president of the current session of the General Assembly and wish you all success. I would also like to thank your predecessor for his important role at the helm of the General Assembly during the previous session. I congratulate Mr. Antonio Guterres on his appointment as Secretary-General of the United Nations and wish him the best in carrying out his responsibilities in service of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

As we meet again, our world is facing mounting challenges and dangers on a daily basis, and a persistent standoff between two sets of forces: forces that seek to control and dominate nations and their riches, by turning back the clock, re-establishing a unipolar world order, fueling chaos and war, and violating international and humanitarian laws; and opposite forces that work tirelessly to create a more balanced, secure, and just world, one that respects the sovereignty of states and the right of peoples to exercise self-determination and build their own future.

As we meet again, many people continue to pay dearly and sacrifice their lives, security, stability and livelihood, as a result of the policies of certain countries. Those countries falsely believe that they could use terrorism as a tool to satisfy their greed and further their ill-conceived agendas, which do not serve the interests of any people, not even their own. No people has suffered at the hands of terrorism more than the Syrian people, who, for six years now, has fought against terrorists pouring from all over the world, supported by parties from the region and beyond.

For more than six years, Syrians have endured the worst and have made great sacrifices to defend their country in the face of a terrorist war of unprecedented brutality, which has spared no one and no-thing, targeting innocent people, services, the infrastructure and cultural heritage. Despite it all, Syria is determined, more than ever, to eradicate terrorism from every part of the country, without exception, thanks to the sacrifices of our army and the steadfastness of our people.

Mr. President, 

Since the beginning of the war, our state policy has followed two main tracks: combating terrorism, and working hard towards a political solution that stems the bloodshed and restores stability.

On the counter-terrorism front, the Syrian Arab Army along with its supporting forces and allies are making daily achievements, clearing out territories and uprooting terrorists. However, the threat of this plague persists, claiming the lives of Syrians on a daily basis, and depleting the country’s resources. We must all understand that terrorism and the underlying Takfirist extremist ideology will continue to spread like a tumor throughout the world and haunt all of our people unless every one of us demonstrates a genuine will to cooperate to confront it together. Any such endeavor must respect the sovereignty of states and the interests of the people, and must let go of the illusion that terrorism can be used as a tool for political gains and narrow interests.

On the political front, the Syrian government has spared no effort since the early months of the crisis to stop the bloodshed. The success of local reconciliations would not have been possible without the leadership’s political support and the numerous amnesty decrees issued by President Bashar Al-Assad, which allowed everyone who had taken up arms to lay them down and resume their normal life.

These successful reconciliations have allowed tens of thousands of IDPs and refugees to go back home and helped improve the living conditions of a great number of Syrians who had fallen victim to terrorist crimes. Syria is determined to scale up reconciliation efforts, whenever possible, because it is the best means to alleviate the suffering of Syrians and restore stability and normalcy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since day one, the Syrian government has positively considered all initiatives to put an end to the war. However, these initiatives eventually failed after states that supported and fueled terrorism decided to persist in their aggressive policies against Syria and its people.

As for the Astana and Geneva tracks, the Syrian government has shown seriousness and commitment and has done its best to provide the necessary conditions for these efforts to succeed and achieve their goals.

We are encouraged by the Astana process and the resulting ‘de-escalation zones’ and hope that it will help us reach an actual cessation of hostilities and separate terrorist groups, such as ISIL, Al-Nusra and others, from those groups that have agreed to join the Astana process. This will be the real test of how committed and serious these groups and their ‘Turkish’ sponsors are. So far, Turkey under Erdogan has persisted in its aggressive policies against the Syrian people and has continued to labor under the illusion that terrorism will help serve its subversive agendas in Syria and the countries of the region. Turkey’s position stands in stark contrast to the positive and constructive role played by Russia and Iran.

Notwithstanding its commitment to the memorandum on the ‘de-escalation zones’, Syria reserves the right to respond to any violation by the other party. Syria also stresses that these zones are a temporary arrangement that must not violate the territorial unity of Syria.

The Syrian government reaffirms its commitment to the Geneva process and further progress on that track. This process has yet to bear fruit in the absence of a genuine national opposition that can be a partner in Syria’s future, and as countries with influence over the other party continue to block any meaningful progress.

Mr. President,

It is truly unfortunate that these countries that block a solution in Syria are members of this international organization, including permanent members of the Security Council.

The Syrian government has always insisted that any solution in Syria must respect Syria’s non-negotiable principles, which are a red line for all Syrians. These include the complete rejection of terrorism, the territorial unity of Syria and its people, and the rejection of any external interference in political decisions regarding Syria’s future. Only Syrians have the right to make such decisions, whether now or in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For decades, Israel has continued its unscrupulous thuggish actions with full impunity. This usurper entity has occupied Arab territories in Palestine and the Golan for more than seventy years and has committed horrific crimes against innocent civilians. Israel did not stop there. It has publicly interfered in the Syrian crisis since its early days. Israel has provided all forms of support to Takfirist terrorist gangs, including funds, weapons, materiel, and communication equipment. Israel has also bombed Syrian Army positions to serve terrorist agendas. Coordination between the two was at its best when terrorist groups decided to target Syrian air defense assets used to defend Syria against Israeli aggression. The unlimited Israeli support to terrorists in Syria did not come as a surprise. After all, the two share the same interests and goals. However, let me be clear: It is delusional to believe, even for a moment, that the crisis in Syria will make us forget our inalienable right to recover the occupied Syrian Golan fully to the lines of June 4, 1967.

For more than six years, states and parties that were behind the war on Syria, have continued to peddle lies and falsely accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, despite a confirmation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that Syria has fully eliminated its chemical program. This is enough proof that there is an ill-conceived intention to tarnish the real image of the Syrian government in the international public eye, and come up with new excuses to continue the aggression against Syrian favor of terrorists and their supporters. This was the case when the United States blatantly attacked the Shayrat airbase, claiming that it contained chemical weapons used in the alleged Khan Shaykhun attack. And as was the case alter every accusation of this kind, we confirmed our readiness to receive and cooperate with UN investigation teams.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Certain countries have boasted about fighting terrorism in Syria and having the interests of Syrians at heart. They have established ‘coalitions’ and held dozens of conferences under deceiving titles, such as ‘friends of the Syrian people’. It is quite ironic that those are the same countries that are shedding the blood of thousands of Syrians by supporting terrorists, bombing innocent civilians, and destroying their livelihoods.

The so-called ‘International Coalition’ led by the US, which was created three years ago to allegedly fight terrorist groups such as ISIL, has killed much more innocent Syrians, mostly women and children, than terrorists and has destroyed vital infrastructure that Syrians have worked for years to build. It has also used phosphorus bombs and other internationally prohibited weapons before the eyes of the whole world.

We cannot understand the silence of the international community in the face of these crimes. The international community has not condemned or sought to stop these crimes, even though the Syrian government has made a number of appeals to the Security Council to assume its main responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. The Syrian government has urged the Council to implement its own resolutions on counter-terrorism, in particular resolution 2253, and prevent the Coalition from committing more crimes against the citizens of my country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While the coalition failed to make any meaningful progress against the terrorist group of ISIL, the Syrian Army, along with its allies and friends, has been able to secure real and significant gains and drive out terrorists from large parts of the Syrian Desert. In what was considered a strategic achievement, the Army was recently able to break the siege imposed on the city of Deir Ezzor and its people by ISIL more than three years ago. This achievement will significantly improve the humanitarian situation in the city and contribute to the fight against terrorism in general.

We have declared more than once that it is impossible to combat terrorism without coordination with the Syrian government. This is the only way to make real gains in the war on terrorism. Any presence of foreign troops on Syrian grounds, without the consent of the government, is considered a form of occupation, a wanton aggression, and a flagrant violation of international laws and the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

The war that the most powerful countries and terrorist groups are waging against Syria is not only a military war. It has taken other forms, no less brutal or aggressive, to break the will of the Syrian people and punish it for its firm support of the Army in its efforts to defend Syria’s political independence and territorial unity. For this reason, those countries have imposed a suffocating economic blockade on Syria, in blatant violation of international law, to destroy the livelihoods of Syrians and increase their suffering.

These unilateral coercive measures have been imposed on vital sectors, most notably health care services. Syria used to have an advanced health care system. Today, however, Syrians are denied access to many types of medicine, even those used to treat life-threatening conditions, such as cancer. Such sanctions are a clear sign of the hypocrisy of certain countries that shed tears over Syrians while practicing a different form of terrorism.

The refugee problem is one of the consequences of terrorism. As Syria will need the efforts of every Syrian over the upcoming period, the Syrian government has made the return of Syrians to their homes a top priority. To this end, the Syrian government has embarked on a mission to liberate and secure the areas occupied by terrorists and improve the basic living conditions of all Syrians.

Mr. President,

Given the United Nations’ failure to uphold its own Charter and the principles of international law, we must all consider reforming this international organization to be able to effectively play its role and to defend the legitimate rights against the law of the jungle that some are trying to impose.

Our nations yearn for a safer and more secure, stable and prosperous world. Such a world will remain a fantasy as long as certain countries believe that they can go around, spreading chaos, creating troubles and imposing their will with full impunity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

My country, along with its steadfast people and its brave army, supported by our loyal allies, is marching steadily towards the goal of rooting out terrorism. The liberation of Aleppo and Palmyra, the lifting of the siege of Deir Ezzor and the eradication of terrorism from many parts of Syria prove that victory is now within reach.

I am confident that, when this unjust war on Syria is over, the Syrian Army will go down in history as the Army that heroically defeated, along with its supporting forces and its allies, the terrorists that came to Syria from many countries and received large support from the most powerful countries of the world, including arms, funding, training, access and political cover. Those terrorists have tried and failed to impose their backward ideology on a peaceful nation that has been for decades a cradle of civilization.

The annals of history will recall for generations to come the achievements of the Syrian people and their steadfastness in the face of a barbaric terrorist campaign and unjust measures, which have compounded their suffering and deprived them of their basic needs. The Syrian people have stood their ground, against all odds, because they knew that this was a war that sought to eliminate their country, and with it, their own existence. They are an example to follow by any people who might face, now or in the future, similar attempts to break their will and deny them their freedom and sovereignty.

Thank you Mr. President.

Featured image is from un.org.

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Below is the full transcript of Mr. RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the General Debate of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 23rd September 2017 

Mr. President,

First of all, allow me to congratulate Your Excellency Mr. Miroslav Lajcak on your election as the President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

I look forward to successful outcome of the present session under your able guidance.

Before going into the main points in my debate, I feel forced to make comments on the speech uttered 4 days ago by someone called the U.S. president that rendered this sacred UN arena tainted.

Since Trump uttered such reckless and violent words provoking the supreme dignity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) at this very platform, I think it is fair enough for me to make a response in the corresponding tone.

D.P.R. Korea denounces US President’s ‘reckless and violent’ comments (Source: United Nations)

During his 8 months in power, he has turned the White House into a noisy marketing place full of crackling sounds of abacus beads and now he has tried to turn the UN arena into a gangsters’ nest where money is respected and bloodshed is the order of the day.

The absurd reality that the person like Trump, a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency, the person who is chastised even by American people as “Commander in Grief, “Lyin King”, “President Evil” is holding the seat of the U.S. President, and the dangerous reality that the gambler who grew old using threats, frauds and all other schemes to acquire a patch of land holds the nuclear button; these are what constitute the gravest threat to the international peace and security today.

Due to his lacking of basic common knowledge and proper sentiment, he tried to insult the supreme dignity of my country by referring it to a rocket. By doing so, however, he committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.

None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission.

In case innocent lives of the U.S. are lost because of this suicide attack. Trump will be held totally responsible.

The respected supreme leader Comrade Kim Jong Un stated : as a man representing the DPRX and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.

Trump might not have been aware what is uttered from his mouth but we will make sure that he bears consequences far beyond his words, far beyond the scope of what he can handle even if he is ready to do so.

Mr. President,

Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet; this is the theme of the current session.

For all countries and people to enjoy peace and a decent life, it is imperative to realize genuine international justice before anything else.

Realizing international justice is one of the main missions of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates “to bring about by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace”.

Due to high-handedness and arbitrariness of one particular big power however, at present the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and other established basic principles of international relations are now wantonly ignored in the UN arena.

Abnormal acts of justifying and legitimizing high-handedness and arbitrariness and the acts of violating truth and justice are connived at or tolerated. The most rampant violation of international justice can be seen on the Korean peninsula.

Unprecedented acts of injustice such as imposing harsh sanctions on a victim for the reason that the victim chose to stand up to the offender are openly committed in the name of the UN.

The essence of the situation of the Korean peninsula is a confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S. where the former tries to defend its national dignity and sovereignty against the latter’s hostile policy and nuclear threats.

The United States is the country that first produced nuclear weapons and the only country that actually used it, massacring hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

It is the U.S. that threatened to use nuclear weapon against the DPRK during the Korean War in 1950s and first introduced nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula after the war.

The U.S. started large-scale joint military exercises against the DPRK during the Cold War period and further increased their scope and aggressive nature after the Cold War, staging the exercises several times a year by mobilizing more of nuclear strategic assets.

What else could be a bigger threat than the violent remarks such as pouring “fire and fury”, “total destruction” coming from the top authority of the world’s biggest nuclear power.

The very reason the DPRK had to possess nuclear weapons is because of the U.S. and it had to strengthen and develop its nuclear force onto the current level to cope with the U.S.

The U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threats have continued over 70 years and these have led the situation on the Korean peninsula to a touch-and-go point. But in the United Nations, unjustifiable resolutions which illegalize justice as injustice are randomly adopted due to the high-handedness of,the U.S.

The respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of,the DPRK said: International justice is never achieved by itself; it can only be achieved when the anti-imperialist independent countries are strong enough.

Unless true international justice is realized, the only valid philosophical principle is that force must be dealt with force and nuclear weapons of tyranny must be dealt with nuclear hammer of justice.

The possession of nuclear deterrence by the DPRK is a righteous self-defensive measure taken as an ultimate option, pursuant to this principle.

Recently, the DPRK has successfully conducted ICBM-mountable H-bomb test as a part of the efforts to achieve the goal of completing the state nuclear force.

With this, the DPRK has entered a phase of completing the state nuclear force in accordance with its line of simultaneous development of the economy and the nuclear force.

Our national nuclear force is, to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the U.S. and for preventing its military invasion; and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S.

Distinguished delegates of all countries attending this session are aware of the fact that the DPRK, unlike other nuclear weapon states, made public every time to the world the test process and its result in all stages of the development and advancement of its nuclear force.

Since the war deterrent for safeguarding peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the region is strengthened enough, the United States and its followers must now think twice before launching military provocation against the DPRK.

Although they talk about “fire and fury”, “total destruction” and whatever, every time they have to add various conditions such as “hopefully this will not be necessary”, “that is not our first option” and so on.

Accordingly, we are convinced that peace and security of the northeast Asia and the region as a whole have been as much consolidated.

We do not need anyone’s recognition of our status as a nuclear weapon state and our capability of nuclear strike.

The ICBM marked with sacred name of the DPRK flew over the universe above the endless blue sky, the warhead of our rocket left its trace on the blue waves of the Pacific Ocean and the tremendous explosion and vibration of the hydrogen bomb were recorded by this planet.

Although our decision to possess nuclear weapons was an inevitable option forced by the United States, it resulted in our country achieving the status of a nuclear weapon state and a rocket power, and this prestige has now become an immortal destiny of the DPRK.

Mr. President,

The failure of the United Nations in fulfilling its role in realizing genuine international justice is primarily related to the undemocratic old practices of the Security Council.

It is none other than the Security Council which disregards the UN Charter from the very first Article and only acts in pursuit of the will and interest of its permanent member states.

It is not incidental that the issue on reform of the Security Council had already been decided in 1992 by resolution 47/62 at the 47th Session of UNGA.

Since then, the UNSC reform issue has been discussed at UNGA every year during the past 25 years but without any progress at all. This fact itself clearly shows how deeply the current permanent members are obsessed in their anachronistic vested interests.

One permanent member alone can veto the general will of over 190 UN member states. Such an undemocratic UN organ is the Security Council.

At this forum, I would like to once again remind all the distinguished delegates of the unjust and unfair nature of the “resolutions” adopted by the Security Council against the DPRK.

First, the Security Council fabricated illegal and double-standard “resolutions” which only prohibit the satellite launch of the DPRK in violation of the international law prescribing peaceful use of outer space as a sovereign right of every state and without taking any issue with all other satellite launching countries.

Second, the Security Council cooked up illegal and double-standard “resolutions” which arbitrarily prohibit only the nuclear tests of the DPRK, although nuclear test strictly belongs to the sovereignty of every state since the international law on prohibition of nuclear test has not yet entered into force and there are countries that conducted many more nuclear tests.

Third, the Security Council condemned the development of nuclear weapons by the DPRK as a “threat to international peace and security” and, on that basis, fabricated illegal and double-standard “resolutions” in contravention of Article 51 of the UN Charter which recognizes the right to self-defense of every state and without calling into question the other countries that keep on developing latest nuclear weapons of various kinds.

The reason these unjust and unfair resolutions continue to be adopted is that the permanent members of the Security Council, all nuclear powers, have common interest in maintaining their monopolistic nuclear status.

The permanent members of UNSC are talking much about non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Viewed from the aspect of nuclear non-proliferation, the DPRK’s possession of nuclear weapons is a righteous self-defensive measure.

Actually, the international agreement on nuclear non-proliferation was possible because the nuclear weapon states had made the promise not to threaten non-nuclear weapon states with the nuclear weapons.

Article 10 of NPT stipulates that each Party shall have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that its supreme interests have been jeopardized. This Article recognizes that supreme interests ofstates are above the nuclear non-proliferation.

After all, the U.S. itself impeded the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation by not giving up the nuclear threat against the DPRK, but rather compelling the latter to possess nuclear weapons.

This eloquently shows that the anti-DPRK “resolutions” are not based on any established principles and that they are nothing less than the products of undemocratic old practice of the Security Council and the conspiracy and collusion of the forces obsessed only in their vested interests.

The U.S. claims that the DPRK’s possession of H-bomb and ICBM constitutes a “global threat” even at the UN arena. But such claim is a big lie which is just tantamount to the notorious “big lie” faked up by the U.S. in 2003 about the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction in order to invade that country.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a responsible nuclear weapon state.

We will take preventive measures by merciless preemptive action in case the U.S. and its vassal forces show any sign of conducting a kind of “decapitating” operation on our headquarters or military attack against our country. However, we do not have any intention at all to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the countries that do not join in the U.S. military actions against the DPRK.

The U.S. is resorting to an intrigue of condemning the DPRK’s nuclear possession as “a global threat” in order to find a pretext for coercing other UN member states into implementing the anti-DPRK “sanctions resolutions”.

This is a sneaky and selfish attempt by the U.S. to avoid its responsibility for the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula and to pursue its own interests by using and sacrificing other countries that have nothing to do with the issue.

The government of the DPRK made a request to the UN Secretariat that a forum of international law experts be organized to assess legal grounds and lawfulness of the UNSC “resolutions”, but we have not heard anything from the Secretariat for 9 months already.

Same is true of the fact that the DPRK made repeated requests to the UNSC to discuss the serious threat to international peace and security posed by the aggressive and provocative U.S.-south Korea large-scale joint military exercises, but these requests were never put on the UNSC agenda, rather turned down every time.

The UN Charter stipulates that the members of the United Nations accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.

If the “resolutions” on the DPRK adopted at the Security Council are truly lawful and fair, there will be no need that all U.S. ambassadors abroad and even the President and the State Secretary turn out to coerce other countries into implementing the “resolutions”. Furthermore, there will be no need for the U.S. to bring its stooges like south Korea and Japan into this.

The UN member states should not yield in to pressure of an individual big power in dealing with the UNSC resolutions but make an independent judgment on lawfulness, impartiality and morality of the resolutions and contribute to promoting reform of the UNSC by further raising their voices against high-handedness and arbitrariness.

Mr. President,

The U.S. had put sanctions against our country from the very first day of its foundation and the over 70-year long history of the DPRK can be said in a sense a history of struggle, persevering along the road of self-development under the harshest sanctions in the world.

Through such a prolonged and arduous struggle, now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force. It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the DPRK would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces.

The day will certainly come in near future when we settle all damages inflicted to our peaceful economic development and improvement of the people’s livelihood and all the sufferings imposed on our innocent women, children and elderly by the heinous and barbaric sanctions against our Republic.

The DPRK already organized a national damage investigation committee to make comprehensive study of total damages inflicted on our Republic by all kinds of sanctions.

This committee will thoroughly investigate and compile all physical and moral damages imposed upon the DPRK by the U.S., its followers and also those countries that submitted to the U.S. coercion.

When this racket of sanctions and pressure reaches a critical point, thus driving the Korean peninsula into an uncontrollable situation, investigation results of this committee will have a huge effect in holding those accountable.

Mr. President,

My delegation takes this opportunity to extend strong support to and solidarity with the Cuban government and people who are fighting to defend national sovereignty and realize international justice against the high-handedness, arbitrariness and unilateral embargo of the U.S.

We also express strong support to and solidarity with the government and people of Venezuela who are fighting to defend the national sovereignty and the cause of socialism.

The unjust and contemptible acts such as turning a blind eye to the heinous acts of Israel while condemning in every manner only the Syrian government fighting to protect its national sovereignty and security should not be tolerated any longer.

The DPRK government will certainly defend peace and security of the country with its powerful nuclear deterrence and also contribute to safeguarding world peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Featured image is from un.org.

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A Risky Referendum for Kurdistan Underway in Iraq

September 25th, 2017 by Barbara Nimri Aziz

At least the combative and haughty Israeli prime minister is forthright: he supports a free and independent Kurdistan. Tomorrow’s vote by Iraqi Kurdish parties to secede from Iraq may well push the country into another war, a civil war. (Doubtless nothing would please Israel more.) The referendum is opposed by neighboring powers, but most significantly by the central government in Baghdad. It is a far more serious move that the well publicized Catalonian vote in Spain scheduled for October 1st, also more perilous than Middle East-watchers let on. Why the Iraqi referendum is receiving so little scrutiny, I don’t know.

Our revered English language “fake-news” establishment (e.g. The NYTimes and The Guardian, among them) is underplaying the significance of a Kurdistan secession, also denying American and British endorsement for it. In reality the US and UK are totally with Israel in promoting and supporting north Iraq’s independence. Iran’s and Turkey’s opposition is well known; Syria would also be in that camp although no one publicly listens to Syria these days. (Remember that US troops are closely collaborating with Syrian Kurdish forces in opposition to Damascus.)

Reading the buried articles on Iraqi Kurdish national aspirations, one would gather it’s a scheme conceived after the 2003 US invasion, and advanced only by Kurdish leaders. This is nonsense.

Although the British divided the large, strategic area occupied mainly by Kurdish-speaking people among Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey with their Sykes-Picot “Agreement” during World War I (part of the dissolution of the Turkish Empire), more recent plans by the imperial powers and Israel involve reconfiguring the modern Middle East into smaller and smaller pieces, starting with Iraqi Kurdistan. (Talk of Iraq’s division into three parts arose in 1991; similar scenarios are applied to Syria today.)

Public discussion of an independent Kurdistan has been ongoing since the launch of the US-led war on Iraq. Yes, Washington’s war on Iraq began not with the 2003 invasion but in 1991, with what’s called the Persian Gulf War (as if it was confined to that area). The ongoing assault included the murderous, destabilizing and destructive embargo war that continued from 1990 to 2003).

As for the Kurds, readers will recall images of tens of thousands of besieged families fleeing into the mountains ostensibly pursued by Saddam’s army. Without delay, humanitarian-motivated (sic) western powers rushed to the Kurds’ aid, using the opportunity of diversionary assaults in pursuit of Saddam and the Baathists, to essentially occupy the three Kurdish governates on behalf of that besieged minority. With Kurdish leaders’ wholehearted complicity, occupation was easily secured by a band of CIA agents, a low profile US military contingent working with an Israeli team, protected by the insipid northern “no-fly zone” (blessed, I believe, by the United Nations Security Council). The Kurdish region has remained semi-autonomous since then, sanctioned by a clause in the US-framed Iraqi constitution granting Kurds a degree of autonomy. Day by day, year by year, those three Kurdish governates have enjoyed protection, economic development, including a thriving tourist industry, freedom from any sanctions, and free to sell oil from its territory directly to foreign companies, all unquestioned thanks to its benevolent international image in human rights reports and the press.

During these 26 years, tensions between the central government and the KRG (Kurdish regional government) in Erbil have steadily heightened. Neither US occupiers nor other influential forces in Iraq have done anything to lessen the crisis. American Kurdish experts led by the intrepid former US diplomat Peter Galbraith have consistently argued for an independent Kurdistan.

Then there is Kirkuk: Iraq’s major city in the area lies outside that semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Until 1991 Kirkuk was overwhelmingly inhabited by Iraqi Turkmen people. Kirkuk and smaller nearby cities (e.g. Tel Afar) have been a Turkmen homeland for centuries, an area profoundly and unquestionably Iraqi in loyalty. You’d never know this from western press accounts which characterize Kirkuk simply as a center of oil deposits. I say Kirkuk was a largely Turkmen city because that has changed; since 1991 Iraqi Kurds have been steadfastly engaged driving Turkmen from their towns while repopulating them with Kurdish families. Although no mass killings of Turkmen have occurred as far as I am aware, there has been a major ethnic cleansing underway, turning Kirkuk from a major Turkmen society into a Kurdish one. All this has been in preparation for the inclusion of Kirkuk into the anticipated autonomous Kurdistan, a process known and condoned by US, Israel and the UK policy makers.

With the coming referendum, although the three regions (minus Kirkuk) enjoyed a marked degree of independence, despite successive Baghdad government attempts to limit this, Kirkuk now become the additional prize and a noted target in the coming referendum.

Baghdad opposes the referendum as strongly as Madrid rejects Catalonia’s independence vote. In recent weeks Madrid has taken startlingly firm action to thwart the regional vote. Baghdad’s position is as uncompromising; a federal court has declared the referendum illegal according to the Iraqi constitution, and Baghdad declared its readiness to use military action, at least to hold Kirkuk. Don’t believe news reports that the US and its allies oppose this referendum. Note the absence of any diplomatic effort by Washington to help reach a compromise and avoid another period of strife there.

All Iraqis must be feeling very nervous tonight.

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The Iran “Nuclear Deal” Leads to War, Not Peace

September 25th, 2017 by Tony Cartalucci

The so-called Iran “nuclear deal,” officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was hailed as “historic” when the United States among other nations became a signatory of it. Then US President Barack Obama, attempted to make convincing statements regarding America’s commitment to the deal.

However, America’s rhetoric compared to its actual actions diplomatically, militarily, and geopolitically told two different stories.

US Was Waging Proxy War with Iran when the Deal was Signed 

The deal was created in 2015, 4 full years since the United States engineered a destructive proxy war in Syria – one of Iran’s closest and most crucial regional allies. By 2015, the United States had already committed to direct military intervention in Syria, occupying Syrian territory, directly arming, funding, and providing air support for militants seizing Syrian territory, and even constructing military bases within Syria’s borders.

By 2015, the United States was revealed to have poured billions of dollars into arming militants ranging from Kurdish groups in Syria’s northeast, to militants aligned to Al Qaeda and even the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) in northern and southern Syria.

While US President Barack Obama posed as conciliatory toward Iran, the US was steeped deeply in not only a proxy war against Syria, but ultimately a proxy war aimed directly at Iran.

According to years of US policy papers, dismantling Iran’s allies in Syria and Lebanon were crucial prerequisites toward eventually undermining and overthrowing the government and political order in Iran itself.

In 2009, US corporate-financier sponsored geopolitical policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, would publish a 170 page report titled, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), in which it proposes several options, including having Israel attack Iran on Washington’s behalf. The report states (emphasis added):

…the Israelis may want U.S. help with a variety of things. Israel may be more willing to bear the risks of Iranian retaliation and international opprobrium than the United States is, but it is not invulnerable and may request certain commitments from the United States before it is ready to strike. For instance, the Israelis may want to hold off until they have a peace deal with Syria in hand (assuming that Jerusalem believes that one is within reach), which would help them mitigate blowback from Hizballah and potentially Hamas. Consequently, they might want Washington to push hard in mediating between Jerusalem and Damascus.

In hindsight, it is clear that no “peace deal” would be struck with Syria, and instead, the wholesale destruction of Syria would be orchestrated. Many of the proposals presented in the Brookings report in regards to triggering conflict and regime change in Iran have been instead used on Syria.

Betraying the “Nuclear Deal” is Stated US Policy 

Signing an agreement posing as rapprochement while simultaneously waging proxy war against a principle party of the agreement already indicates US intentions regarding Iran and America’s commitment to honoring the agreement.

Beyond US policymakers openly conspiring to weaken or altogether dismantle Iran’s regional allies before setting upon Iran directly, years before the JCPOA was signed, US policymakers pledged to propose then intentionally betray a “superb offer” to help portray Iran rather than the United States as both an irrational threat to global security and a nation bent on acquiring nuclear weapons for the “wrong reasons.”

The 2009 Brookings Institution report “Which Path to Persia?” would explicitly describe this ploy, stating:

...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

Shortly before US President Barack Obama ended his second term in office, preparations were already underway to backtrack on the Iran deal. With US President Donald Trump now presiding over US foreign policy, the US is preparing to either entirely withdraw from the deal, or rewrite its conditions in such a fashion that Iran will be unable to accept it.

As the End Game Approaches in Syria 

While regime change and the total division and destruction of Syria would have been ideal for US policymakers who then seek to wage war upon Iran, Syria and its allies have paid a significant price in personnel and materiel.

Despite this, Syrian forces have retaken virtually all significant population centers across the nation, including Syria’s largest city Aleppo where reconstruction is already beginning. Syrian forces have also crossed and are currently establishing a stronghold east of the Euphrates River, further complicating the partitioning of Syrian territory as envisioned by US policymakers and their Kurdish and Arab proxies.

With Russian and Iranian forces deeply dug in on the ground in Syria, the likelihood of the US and its partners making any further headway against Syria is unlikely and faces a “now or never” moment in regards to pivoting the conflict and its regional resources toward Iran. Reconstruction in Syria and the loosening of sanctions versus Iran will only further impede possible future operations against Iran.

US Forfeits Illusion of Independent Israeli Foreign Policy 

Signaling increasing signs of desperation and aggression, the US has opened its first official military base in what has for all intents and purposes been for decades a “forward operating base” for Wall Street and Washington in the Middle East – Israel.

The Times of Israel in an article titled, “In first, US establishes permanent military base in Israel,” would note:

For the first time in history, the United States on Monday established an official, permanent military base in Israel: an air defense base in the heart of the Negev desert.

Dozens of US Air Force soldiers will call home the new base, located inside the Israeli Air Force’s Mashabim Air Base, west of the towns of Dimona and Yerucham. 

Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch, head of the IAF’s Aerial Defense Command, announced the establishment of the installation on Monday evening.

“It’s nothing short of historic,” he said. It demonstrates the “years-old alliance between the United States and the State of Israel.”

While it is indeed “historic,” it is also notable for the significant concession it represents. For decades Anglo-American interests benefited from the perception that Israel possessed its own aggressive, independent foreign policy. Maintaining this perception allowed the US and its Western allies to use Israel to carry out regional aggression while maintaining plausible deniability.

The aforementioned Brookings document specifically cited this as one of several possible means for provoking war with Iran – by having Israel appear to unilaterally attack Iran, with the US only joining in direct military intervention once Iran either committed to retaliation or a staged attack on Israel could be blamed on Iran.

With a permanent US military base on Israeli soil, plausible deniability and the illusion of an independent Israeli foreign policy vanishes completely. This may signal a much more blunt approach by Washington regarding any upcoming aggression against both Syria and Iran.

Regional Consolidation in Preparation for What? 

The US finds itself overtly consolidating its positions in the Middle East at a time when the global balance of power teeters dangerously close to irrevocably undoing American hegemony.

Preparing the Middle East for war with Iran has been a work-in-progress since the end of the Cold War. It is an agenda that has transcended multiple US presidencies and has included everything from US-backed terrorism in the form of organizations like Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), to US-backed color revolutions like the “Green Revolution” in 2009, to the current proxy war being waged against Syria and the ongoing diplomatic maneuvering surrounding the Iranian “nuclear deal.”

Radical shifts in US policy regarding Iran are not owed to new occupants in the White House, but rather the shifting geopolitical realities as the US declines and other nations incrementally rise upon the world stage. Today, the US has exhausted its international clout, repeatedly abused international mechanisms for conflict resolution, and is openly pursuing a war in Syria with the aid of militant groups internationally designated as terrorist organizations. As its ability to wage war against Ian behind a smokescreen of legitimacy dwindles, the likelihood of it openly carrying out an act of aggression increases.

US policymakers may hope that after consolidating its positions in the Middle East, it can carry out a single, sweeping act of military aggression Iran’s allies will be unable or unwilling to contest.

Desperate hegemons are dangerous hegemons.

Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

This article was originally published by New Eastern Outlook where all images were sourced.

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Video: Trump’s “Mein Kampf” Tirade

September 25th, 2017 by World Socialist Web Site

This incisive video produced by the World Socialist Website points to Trump’s criminal narrative at the UN, comparable to that of Adolph Hitler 

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President Donald Trump and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have voiced support for US companies developing Afghanistan’s vast trove of minerals, in what Trump sees as payment for the US’s role in the drawn out war.

The two leaders met in New York on Thursday, where they discussed how American companies can help “quickly develop Afghanistan’s rare earth mineral resources,” the White House said in a statement.

The White House said the two

“agreed that such initiatives would help American companies develop materials critical to national security while growing Afghanistan’s economy and creating new jobs in both countries, therefore defraying some of the costs of United States assistance as Afghans become more self-reliant.”

Trump has had his eyes on Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources as a way to cover the $117 billion cost of the war and reconstruction efforts since the US began bombing and occupying the country in 2001.

Reuters reports that Trump told advisors in June that the US should demand a share of Afghanistan’s minerals as a payment for US assistance given to the Afghan government.

In July, the New York Times reported that senior White House aides met with an executive from American Elements, which specialises in mineral extraction, to discuss the potential for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is home to vast deposits of gold, silver, platinum, coal, lithium, natural gas, uranium, tantalum and copper, among other minerals.

The US interest in Afghan resources predates Trump. The US Geological Survey reported in 2010 that Afghanistan has mineral deposits worth $1 trillion, which has been touted as the key to the country’s future.

A 2007 Pentagon memo cited by the New York Times described the country’s potential as being the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” A 2006 mineral resource map by the USGS also shows US knowledge of Afghan minerals.

What the country lacks is the suitable infrastructure to handle transportation of these minerals, as well as the resources to conduct updated surveys. Many smaller mines in the country are run by private entities whose profits are out of reach of the government. The country continues to fight an insurgency from the Taliban and other groups.

The US launched its war in Afghanistan in 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers led by Osama bin Laden. “Operation Enduring Freedom” was triggered when the Taliban, who had been in power since 1996, refused to hand Bin Laden over to the Americans.

In 2003, George W Bush turned his attention and military toward the invasion of Iraq. This allowed the Taliban and others to regain strength in Afghanistan. The number of US troops deployed to Afghanistan continued to increase until its peak in 2009, when 100,000 troops were sent to Afghanistan.

Although Bin Laden was killed in 2011 in Pakistan, the US presence in Afghanistan continues to this day, with troops training Afghan soldiers and fighting terrorist groups.

Featured image is from Afghan News Agency.

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In 1713-14, it took the troops of Spain’s Borbon monarchy 14 months of siege before taking Barcelona and ending Catalan self-rule. In September 2017, Catalonia is again under siege, this time from the central Spanish People’s Party (PP) government. Under prime minister Mariano Rajoy the Spanish state is concentrating all its firepower on stopping the Catalan government’s October 1 independence referendum. On that day, if this siege is successfully resisted, Catalan citizens will vote on whether “Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic.”

Since September 6, the day its parliament adopted its referendum law, Catalonia has experienced a “shock and awe” offensive aimed at forcing the pro-independence government of premier Carles Puigdemont to submit to the central Spanish administration. The adoption of the law by the parliamentary majority of 62 Together For The Yes (JxSí) and 10 People’s Unity List (CUP) MPs was the culmination of an eight-year process that has seen over one million people mobilize every Catalan National Day since 2012.

The stakes could not be higher. If the referendum takes place, the PP minority government in Madrid will suffer a lethal blow to its credibility, opening the way to a change of government in the Spanish state. It would also bring into view the prospect of finally overturning the sub-democratic regime that has been in place in Spain since the late 1970s, when the heirs of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco negotiated a flawed “transition to democracy” with the anti-dictatorship resistance.

By the same token, if the Rajoy government manages to stop October 1, it will be a setback not only for Catalan aspirations to sovereignty but also for all forces in Spain fighting for democratic rights and against austerity. The partial weakening of the “1978 regime” represented by the rise of anti-austerity party Podemos and its allies would be contained: the “constitutionalist” parties – the PP, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the hipster neoliberal outfit Citizens – would be strengthened.

Understanding of the stakes of the fight is increasingly reaching across the whole Spanish state, with left forces like Podemos and the older United Left, which had originally rejected October 1 as “not the referendum Catalonia needs,” now allying with pro-independence forces in the face of a legal and police offensive that amounts to a state of emergency in all but name.

The Fear Campaign

These stark possible outcomes to the conflict explain the ferocity of the Spanish government’s offensive. The Spanish Constitutional Court’s immediate decisions to suspend both the referendum law and the Law of Jurisdictional Transition (to apply in the case on a Yes win) have allowed Spanish prosecutor-general José Manuel Maza to unleash a judicial firestorm via regional Catalan prosecutors’ offices and the High Court of Justice of Catalonia. To date the main thrusts of the offensive have been to:

  • Charge those members of the Catalan parliament’s speakers’ panel who enables debate on the laws with disobeying a lawful instruction and perverting the course of justice;
  • Instruct the electoral commission appointed by the Catalan parliament first to cease all work on the referendum and two days later charging them with usurping public functions, disobedience and misuse of public funds;
  • Formally warn all MPs supporting the Catalan government and 700 senior public servants that any collaboration with the referendum will open them to charges of disobedience, perverting the course of justice and misuse of public funds;
  • Instruct the Catalan police, Spanish National Police, the paramilitary Civil Guard and municipal police forces to locate and confiscate all material related to the referendum;
  • Warn all private media that if they carry advertising material for October 1 they will be liable to prosecution and instructing the heads of Catalan public radio and TV not to carry advertising material for the referendum;
  • Advise owners of halls and public spaces that hosting any events connected with the referendum will open them to prosecution;
  • Have the Spanish postal service instruct its employees not to deliver any material connected to the referendum;
  • Order the closure of the web sites of the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and the Catalan Association of Municipalities and Shires (ACM) for facilitating collaboration with the referendum and then order the closure of any web site in any way connected with October 1; and
  • Open proceedings against the 712 Catalan mayors (out of 948) who have indicated that their councils will make premises available – as per normal – for the referendum. The mayors are to be summoned to regional prosecutor’s offices, where they will face charges of disobeying a lawful instruction, perversion of the course of justice and misuse of public funds (which carries a jail sentence). The Catalan police have been ordered to arrest any mayor who fails his or her appointment with the prosecutor.

Most seriously of all, in the face of a Catalan government refusal to continue to supply the central Spanish government with a weekly report of its expenditures, the Spanish Council of Ministers (cabinet) decided on September 15 to take direct control of all payments to Catalonia’s creditors, effectively ending its financial autonomy.

Police actions in support of this offensive have so far included a Civil Guard raid on the newspaper El Vallenc (with the editor charged with disobedience, perverting the course of justice and misuse of public funds) and the National Police preventing the anti-capitalist CUP from reading a pro-independence manifesto in Valencia. On September 14, Dolors Sabater, the mayoress of Badalona, Catalonia’s third largest city which is run by a left coalition including pro-independence and pro-sovereignty forces, denounced the Spanish government delegation in Barcelona for making threatening telephone calls to council employees.

At the time of writing (September 17), the Civil Guard claims to have confiscated 1.3 million posters from printeries in Catalonia, while municipal police has been engaged in low-intensity harassment of Yes campaign stalls. However, the main meetings of the referendum campaign, including the Yes case’s 13,000-strong launch in the southern industrial city of Tarragona, have so far gone ahead without impediment.

The most potentially damaging action to date was the Civil Guard’s closing of the referendum web site. When this was done on September 13 the Catalan government had two replacement sites on line immediately. These and others were then closed down by September 15, but on September 16 premier Puigdemont tweeted instructions on how to access the referendum web site via proxy servers invulnerable to against Civil Guard interference.

Symptomatic of the rising concern the Catalan rebellion is causing in the establishment was the September 12 decision of a Madrid judge to ban a meeting on the Catalan right to decide from taking place on Madrid Council premises: the grounds were that “the general interests of the citizens precludes the realization of public events in favour of an illegal referendum.” The organizers of the meeting, the platform Madrid for the Right to Decide, then rescheduled the meeting to another location. When it was finally held on September 16, the crowd overflowed the theatre and filled the nearby street.

At the time of writing, over 60,000 people potentially face charges for associating themselves with the “illegal” referendum and the rumours are of even more drastic action to come. The PP is supposedly moving towards establishing the legal and political grounds for suspending the Catalan government under article 155 of the Spanish Constitution; 4000 extra National Police are ready to be deployed; the Civil Guard is bringing extra agents into Catalonia – such is the daily dose of psychological warfare to which Catalans are being exposed.

In a September 17 interview with the web-based daily VilaWeb premier Puigdemont described how far he thought the Spanish government’s intervention had come:

“[T]he Spanish government is near as well implementing articles 116 [covering conditions for declaring states of emergency or siege] and 155 without having to declare them. It is looking for the practical impact of a state of emergency – suspension of public events, confiscation of informative material, intimidation of the means of communication, creation of a generalised climate of persecution of all mayors…”

On September 16, in an address to the PP faithful in Barcelona, prime minister Rajoy warned:

“Don’t force us to go to a point that we don’t want to arrive at.”

Who are the Authoritarians?

The blatant goal of the central government campaign has been to create a climate of fear and panic: the October 1 referendum is a political Chernobyl – if you even touch it you won’t only go to jail, you´ll lose all your assets – like former Catalan premier Artur Mas and three of his ministers, who stand to lose five million euros for allowing a September 9, 2014 “participatory process” (9N) to go ahead in the face of a court ban (over 2.3 million of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters took part).

Central government ministers have personally weighed into this campaign. On September 12, finance minister Cristobal Montoro said that “nobody’s going to use a euro of public money against the law: it didn’t happen on November 9, and it won’t happen on October 1, unless someone wants to put their assets at risk.” On September 13, Rajoy announced:

“I say to everyone who understands that the government has to carry out its obligation, that we’re going to do that, that they needn’t worry. If anyone is asked to staff a voting centre, don’t go because there can’t be a referendum and it would be an absolutely illegal act.”

With this statement Rajoy unwittingly betrayed his government’s double approach: to stop the referendum by any and every means that don’t entail an intolerable political cost (like sending in the army) and, if that’s finally not possible, to at least drive participation in the referendum to as low a point as possible.

At the core of the PP approach is the big lie that the Spanish government has no choice but to have the law obeyed because a Scottish-style negotiated referendum was always impossible under the Spanish constitution. However, as many Spanish jurists have pointed out, the Constitution provides mechanisms for consultations of a part of the population of the Spanish state – the PP chose not to have one in the Catalan case because it has always seen greater political gain in cultivating anti-Catalanism in the rest of Spain.

Having made that choice, the PP has then had no option but to paint and themselves as the staunch and principled upholders of constitutionality against the authoritarian and anti-democratic Catalan outlaws “abducted” (term of prosecutor-general Maza) by separatism. Matters have reached the bizarre point where some PPers have accused the Catalan government of having Nazi and Francoist tendencies.

The Fight to Adopt the Referendum Law

It was the need to paint the Catalan movement in these black terms that drove the tactics of the PP and the other unionist parties in the September 6 and 7 sessions of the Catalan parliament that adopted the new laws. Spanish television channels were able to broadcast two days of filibustering, procedural haggling and theatrical outrage from the PP, Citizens , the Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC) and even from a fraction of the left coalition Catalonia Yes We Can (CSQEP).

It could not have been otherwise. In order to get a referendum in Catalonia in the face of the Spanish institutional refusal to negotiate (18 rejections since 2012), the Catalan parliamentary majority had no choice but to develop its own referendum bill. It was inevitable that this would be met with filibustering and procedural antics aimed at bogging down its adoption. To get it through parliament without giving the opposition the chance to delay its implementation through court appeals, the majority also had to use a fast track procedural provision.

The majority also had to shun the advice of the parliamentary speakership panel’s two legal advisers – who pointed out the bill’s unconstitutionality in terms of Spanish law – and to refuse to allow parliament to seek an opinion from the Catalan Council of Statutory Guarantees, which would also have been certain to point out that incompatibility. CQSEP MP Joan Coscubiela described this approach as “unprecedentedly anti-democratic.”

However, premier Puigdemont justified it in these words:

“They’ll get us lost talking about public servants, attorneys-at-law, the Council of Guarantees… However, what is important are the citizens. And they are demanding respect for fundamental rights, for human rights, including the right to self-determination.”

In the two days of acrimonious debate, the PP and Citizens speakers made a point of speaking in Spanish, so that their message could be understood by people in the rest of Spain (the interventions of the majority, done in Catalan, would have been mainly lost on them). The supposedly undemocratic behavior of the speakership panel majority and of the speaker Carme Forcadell could thereby more readily become an “accepted truth” for Spanish public opinion: this impression would have hopefully been reinforced for the PP, Citizens and the PSC by their decision to walk out of the chamber when the final vote was taken on both pieces of legislation.

The conservative Madrid media – sworn enemy of the right to self-determination and even of acknowledging Spain’s plurinational reality – described the adoption of the new laws as “democracy kidnapped” (La Razón) and a “coup d’etat” (ABC). The Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, in charge of the PP government’s operations against Catalonia, said: “I’ve never felt such shame on behalf of democracy in my life.”

Prime minister Rajoy then used the supposedly outrageous behavior of the Catalan parliament to justify his government’s legal carpet bombing. He warned on September 13:

“This was an anti-democratic act, a blow against democracy. And in Spain the law gets carried out because if not it would mean that the will of the majority of citizens counts for nothing.”

The Battle for Participation

How has the Catalan government reacted to this aggression?

On the one hand by insisting that all logistics are in place for October 1, that the referendum will be going ahead regardless of the legal and constitutional barrage, and that people should be able to vote at their usual polling station. In cases where local councils refuse to make these available, the Catalan government will make its own premises available as voting centres. At the September 14 launch of the Yes campaign, Puigdemont said: “Does anyone really believe we won’t be voting on October 1? What sort of people do they think we are?”

Such confidence became more plausible earlier on the same day, when the Catalan government and Barcelona Council announced they had reached an agreement on providing voting centres in the Barcelona area. This was an important gain in the critical battle for participation, because it puts Catalonia’s biggest municipality on the side of October 1. Ada Colau, the Barcelona mayoress who had come in for criticism for delaying a decision on the issue, came to the agreement with the government despite advice from the council’s legal service that it would potentially open the administration to prosecution.

On September 16, when the mayors potentially facing charges demonstrated in central Barcelona, Colau was there to greet them on behalf of Barcelona Council. She said:

“This is not about independence. They will find an entire people against them in defence of the rights that have cost so much to win.”

Colau’s position reflected a shift in Catalonia’s non-independence left towards participating in October 1, even while still regarding it as “not the referendum Catalonia needs” but mobilization against the Rajoy government and for a Catalan right to decide. This is because a considerable part of its support – mainly but not only working people from other parts of Spain who have immigrated to Catalonia – do not support a unilateral referendum in which the independence case is likely to win. In the world of the “commons” – the catch-all term for Barcelona en Comú (running Barcelona Council), En Comú Podem (largest Catalan force in the Spanish parliament) and Catalunya en Comú (grouping together Barcelona en Comú and the “old left” forces Initiative for Catalonia-Greens, United and Alternative Left and the green party Equo) – the October 1 referendum had intensified differences over how to relate to a unilateral consultation.

However, in the atmosphere of increasing aggression from the Rajoy government a shift towards greater support for October 1 showed in the results of Catalunya en Comú’s membership ballot on whether to participate. The result was 59.39% for to 41.61% against, with 44% of the membership taking part. According to its coordinator Xavier Domènech, Catalunya en Comú will “stage events denouncing the repression and affirming the rights of the Catalans … If, finally, there are ballot boxes, we’ll be going to vote.” This was a move away from an initial orientation that focused more on demanding guarantees from the Catalan government than on how Catalunya en Comú might be able to intervene most fruitfully in the referendum process.

It also represented a defeat for those forces in the party that had called for a boycott of October 1, as organized around the manifesto “Don’t Participate or Call for Participation in the October 1 Referendum.” The shift also came with the effective dropping of their call by Pablo Iglesias and Alberto Garzón, leaders at the level of the Spanish state of Podemos and the United Left, for the commons not to participate.

Nevertheless, despite the Catalunya en Comú membership ballot result certain mayors within the universe of the commons will still not be making their councils premises available for the referendum, the main example being the Initiative For Catalonia mayor of the greater Barcelona industrial town El Prat de Llobregat. In other councils where councilors from the commons are part of the government – especially in partnership with ERC – they have already voted to make premises available on October 1.

As for the PSC, it is driving the campaign among working-class voters to ensure that October 1 is a low turnout flop if it eventually goes ahead. In the two provincial capitals run by the Catalan social democracy (Lleida and Tarragona) councils have refused to make premises available despite protests demanding that they do. The PSC has denounced the supposed intimidation these demonstrations represent. In others towns it controls, such as the outer Barcelona industrial city of Santa Colomer de Gramanet, the PSC has refused to make council premises available for meetings on the referendum.

The party has started an active boycott campaign, launching a manifesto called “On the illegal ‘referendum’ of October 1.” There are signs that this may be beginning to have some effect: all polls previous to September 17 showed around 50% of PSC supporters prepared to vote in the referendum. This figure has fallen in the latest Opinòmetre poll to 35%.

However, even as it tries to wreck October 1 and supports all legal activity to stop it, the PSC has to try to appear as not simply the running dog of the PP. A sign that it does not want to cut all ties with forces supporting the referendum was a September 10 statement by PSOE federal secretary Pedro Sánchez to the effect that, even if Barcelona Council provided voting centres for the referendum, he did not think the PSC should break its governing alliance with Ada Colau’s party (Barcelona en Comú).

Conclusion

If morale and commitment were enough to win on October 1, the victory would already be secure. In the days since the 712 mayors were summoned to appear before the prosecutors, 38 more have signed up to make their council’s premises available for the referendum. To ensure the proper staffing of voting stations, 5000 volunteers were needed: 47,000 have put their name down to help (13,000 more than for 9N).

Nonetheless, the Rajoy government simply cannot afford to lose this fight. Backed by the monarchy, big business, the establishment media, three of the four major Spanish parties and the four main associations of judges, it still remains confident in its capacity to cripple the Puigdemont government.

The deciding factors will be: whether the Puigdemont government is organized enough to ward off Madrid’s sustained attack on the logistics of October 1; whether the mass of Catalan supporters of independence – and of basic democratic rights – are strong enough to make the Rajoy government pay as high a political price as possible for each new act of aggression; and whether, in the case that the referendum goes ahead, the enormous media campaign to denigrate it as a “fraud” fails to reduce participation.

At the time of writing the political cost of the Rajoy government’s aggression is increasing, domestically and internationally. For example, while its legal aggression has received no explicit support from beyond the borders of the Spanish state, support for a negotiated referendum has come from the Scottish government and from 17 Danish parliamentarians representing seven different parties.

Within Catalonia, the Civil Guard’s confiscation of posters is being answered with the reproduction on home printers of posters downloaded from improvised web sites and then pasted up by teams of volunteers from the Catalan mass organizations. The September 16-17 weekend meetings on the referendum went ahead without police interference and were bigger than all expectations (and the halls in which they were supposed to fit). On September 17, 30,000 marched in Bilbao (in the Basque Country) in support of Catalonia’s referendum.

The campaign for October 1 is increasingly taking the form of a peaceful insurrection for democracy against the authoritarian Spanish state – all democrats will be doing what they can to help it prevail.

Dick Nichols is Green Left Weekly’s European correspondent, based in Barcelona. An initial version of this article has appeared on its web site. This article first published on the Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal website.

Featured image is from the author.

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Actor-director Rob Reiner and actor Morgan Freeman have teamed up with a sordid crowd of extreme right-wingers to push the McCarthyite anti-Russia campaign.

Reiner, a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser and fervent Hillary Clinton supporter, is a member of the Advisory Board of a new organization, the “Committee to Investigate Russia,” which describes itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit” organization “helping Americans understand the gravity of Russia’s continuing attacks on democracy.”

As part of this foul outfit’s launching, Freeman narrates a two-minute video, which begins:

“We have been attacked. We are… at war.”

Freeman asks his viewers to imagine a movie script in which a former KGB spy, “angry at the collapse of his motherland, plots a course for revenge.” After becoming president, “he sets his sights on his sworn enemy: the United States.”

Freeman goes on:

“And like the true KGB spy he is, he secretly uses cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world. Using social media to spread propaganda and false information, he convinces people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors… Vladimir Putin is that spy, and this is no movie script.”

The actor then calls on President Donald Trump to “tell us the truth”—that during the 2016 election “we came under attack by the Russian government.”

Invoking the language of Cold War hawks, Freeman informs his viewers that the “free world is counting on us for leadership.” He concludes:

“For 241 years, our democracy has been a shining example to the world of what we can all aspire to. And we owe it to the brave people who have fought and died to protect this great nation and save democracy.”

A number of out-and-out reactionaries sit alongside Reiner on the Advisory Board of the Committee to Investigate Russia. Prominent among these is James Clapper, who, as Director of National Intelligence (2010-17), presided over agencies carrying out espionage and intrigue against governments and corporations internationally. Clapper lied to Congress about the massive and illegal NSA spying on US citizens.

Max Boot

Another illustrious member of the Board is Max Boot, the Russian-born anti-communist fanatic and proponent of US imperialist intervention everywhere. A strident supporter of George W. Bush and the “war on terror,” Boot supported the neo-colonial invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Board is rounded out by Norman Ornstein of the ultra-right American Enterprise Institute and right-wing author and former talk show host Charles Sykes, notorious for his vicious attacks on the working class and poor in the guise of opposition to the “culture of entitlement.” Another individual publicly associated with the committee is David Frum, right-wing columnist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, allegedly responsible for the “Axis of Evil” claim in the latter’s 2002 State of the Union address.

Who is this sinister crowd to demand an “investigation” into Russia, or anyone else? Clapper, Boot and Frum, to begin with, should be investigated and prosecuted for carrying out or propagandizing in support of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The claims in the committee’s video about the leadership of the “free world” provided by America, whose “democracy has been a shining example to the world of what we can all aspire to,” belong under the heading of the Hitlerian big lie. Leaving aside the fact that some of Freeman’s ancestors were slaves and taking into account only the past half-century or so, US imperialism has invaded country after country on the basis of lies (as Ken Burns’ documentary “The Vietnam War” is currently detailing), resulting in the deaths of millions of human beings.

No other elite on the face of the planet has the bloody record of the American ruling class. The Pentagon, the CIA and the entire gigantic military-intelligence apparatus do nothing on a 24-hour basis except conspire against the democratic rights of people around the world.

Nevertheless, the Committee to Investigate Russia’s mission statement reads,

“On January 6, 2017, America’s intelligence agencies shared a declassified report concluding Russia had attacked our nation with the express goal of disrupting the presidential election and ultimately weakening our democracy. To this day, that destabilizing effort continues.”

That’s it! On the basis of this bald assertion, the committee declares that

“We have been attacked. We are at war.”

As the WSWS noted in January, the cited report consists of unsupported conclusions by the CIA, FBI and NSA, “using the phrase ‘we assess’ 19 times without a single fact to demonstrate Russian involvement… One is left with the bare assertion: we, the intelligence community, have made a judgment, and you, the American people, must take it on faith.”

James Clapper

As for the “shining example” of American democracy at home, Freeman and Reiner are doing the bidding of Clapper, who is directly responsible for shredding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and establishing a surveillance police state structure that would be the envy of Orwell’s Big Brother.

Moreover, the hacked Democratic Party emails leaked by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election—attributed without any evidence to the machinations of Putin—contained true, not fake, information, which has not been contested by the Democrats or Clinton, about the anti-democratic efforts of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to sabotage the challenge by Bernie Sanders, as well as the transcripts of Clinton’s fawning speeches to Wall Street, for which she received millions in speaking fees (i.e., bribes).

Such is the manipulated and anti-democratic character of a political system that enforces the monopoly of two right-wing capitalist parties that are controlled top to bottom by a financial oligarchy.

Have Reiner and Freeman thought about what an actual war with nuclear-armed Russia would mean? Tens of millions of dead, entire cities, regions or perhaps continents made uninhabitable, civilization thrown back decades or centuries. What incredible and contemptible irresponsibility!

It took right-winger Tucker Carlson of Fox News, of all people, to point out to Reiner some of the implications of his pro-war propaganda. On Carlson’s program Thursday, the host asked the actor-director, “How would you respond if President Trump took you seriously and sent the B-52s to St. Petersburg or blockaded the Gulf of Finland? Would you support that?”

Reiner responded disingenuously that

“We’re not advocating going to war… or a traditional war with Russia… When we say we are at war, we are talking about a cyber war.” Carlson noted that the video “doesn’t make that clear… Morgan Freeman who everyone trusts… [says] we’re at war.”

Foreign policy divisions are a major factor driving the current anti-Russia campaign. Clapper and company view Russia as an obstacle to Washington’s drive for world hegemony and consider the Trump administration too soft or too distracted in this regard.

But for figures like Reiner and Freeman, looming larger is the social situation in the US and their dread of a popular radicalization. Their repugnant efforts coincide with the publication of Hillary Clinton’s book, Google’s efforts at censorship of left-wing websites and the ever more frequent cries heard in the American media and political establishment that “fake news,” which increasingly means anti-establishment opinion, is the source of discontent and social instability in the US.

Thus, the preposterous assertion in Freeman’s video that Putin, “using social media to spread propaganda and false information,” has convinced “people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors.”

Reiner and Freeman, wealthy celebrities each reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, are intervening to encourage trust in a media and political establishment that is utterly discredited in the eyes of vast layers of the American and world population.

For decades, Reiner has been a big money-raiser for the Democrats in Hollywood. He strenuously campaigned for Clinton in the last election cycle. In November 2015, for instance, Reiner and his wife held a fundraiser at their home in the affluent Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

“Clinton attended a small reception in the Reiners’ entry parlor and later spoke in the garden, with about 350 in attendance,” according to Variety.

The event, “with tickets starting at $500, was billed as a conversation with Clinton.” The account continued:

“Those who donated $2,700 got a photo with Clinton, and those who raised $27,000 got access to the host reception.”

During the campaign, Reiner attributed the persistence of support for Trump to the racism of white working class males. Speaking of such support, he told the Hollywood Reporter in September 2016,

“Look at the demographics: It’s mostly white males who don’t have college degrees. And, you know, that’s Archie [Bunker]. Then there’s also a very serious strain of racism that runs through his followers…”

This is the voice of someone a thousand miles from the economic and social suffering of broad layers of the American population.

Rob Reiner (Source: Neil Grabowsky/Montclair Film Festival)

That Reiner is participating in the McCarthyite anti-Russian campaign has an ironic element. His father, Carl Reiner, veteran comedian, actor and director, had a brush with the anti-communist witch-hunts in the 1950s and even early 1960s.

The elder Reiner, now 95, had sufficient contact with left-wing figures in Hollywood during the time he was writing for and performing on Sid Caesar’s popular television program Your Show of Shows to warrant a visit from two FBI agents in 1954. They inquired about his voting habits and asked, according to Reiner, “Do you know any communists?”

Later, Reiner served as a “front”—someone who took public credit for the writing efforts of figures who were officially unemployable because of their association with the Communist Party—for blacklisted writer Frank Tarloff when Reiner was working on the Dick Van Dyke Show in the early 1960s.

Now his son is taking part in this vile sequel to the McCarthyite anti-Russian hysteria of the 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s.

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Nuclear Plants Plus Hurricanes: Disasters Waiting to Happen

September 25th, 2017 by Harvey Wasserman

Featured image: St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant at Port St. Lucie, Florida (Source: The Progressive)

Although the mainstream media said next to nothing about it, independent experts have made it clear that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma threatened six U.S. nuclear plants with major destruction, and therefore all of us with apocalyptic disaster. It is a danger that remains for the inevitable hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters yet to come.

During Harvey and Irma, six holdovers from a dying reactor industry—two on the Gulf Coast at South Texas, two at Key Largo and two more north of Miami at Port St. Lucie—were under severe threat of catastrophic failure. All of them rely on off-site power systems that were extremely vulnerable throughout the storms. At St. Lucie Unit One, an NRC official reported a salt buildup on electrical equipment requiring a power downgrade in the midst of the storm.

Loss of backup electricity was at the core of the 2011 catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan when the tsunami there and ensuing flood shorted out critical systems. The reactor cores could not be cooled. Three melted. Their cores have yet to be found. Water pouring over them flooded into the Pacific, carrying away unprecedented quantities of cesium and other radioactive isotopes. In 2015, scientists detected radioactive contamination from Fukushima along the coast near British Columbia and California.

Four of six Fukushima Daichi reactors suffered hydrogen explosions, releasing radioactive fallout far in excess of what came down after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Extreme danger still surrounds Fukushima’s highly radioactive fuel pools, which are in varied stages of ruin.

“In addition to reactors, which at least are within containment structures, high-level radioactive waste storage pools are not within containment, and are also mega-catastrophes waiting to happen, as in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane,” says Kevin Kamps of the activist group Beyond Nuclear.

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew paralyzed fire protection systems at Florida’s Turkey Point and so severely damaged a 350-foot-high tower it had to be demolished. The eye of that storm went directly over the reactor, sweeping away support buildings valued at $100 million or more.

There’s no reason to rule out a future storm negating fire protection systems, flinging airborne debris into critical support buildings, killing off-site backup power, and more.

As during Andrew, the owners of the nuclear plants under assault from Harvey and Irma had an interest in dragging their feet on timely shut-downs. Because they are not liable for downwind damage done in a major disaster, the utilities can profit by keeping the reactors operating as long as they can, despite the obvious public danger.

Viable evacuation plans are a legal requirement for continued reactor operation. But such planning has been a major bone of contention, prompting prolonged court battles at Seabrook, New Hampshire, and playing a critical role in the shutdown of the Shoreham reactor on Long Island. After a 1986 earthquake damaged the Perry reactor in Ohio, then-Governor Richard Celeste sued to delay issuance of the plant’s operating license. A state commission later concluded evacuation during a disaster there was not possible. After Andrew, nuclear opponents like Greenpeace questioned the right of the plant to continue operating in light of what could occur during a hurricane.

Throughout the world, some 430 reactors are in various stages of vulnerability to natural disaster, including ninety-nine in the United States. Numerous nuclear plants have already been damaged by earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, and floods. The complete blackout of any serious discussion of what Harvey and Irma threatened to do to these six Texas and Florida reactors is cause for deep concern.

Harvey Wasserman’s California Solartopia show airs at KPFK-FM in Los Angeles; his Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at prn.fm. He is the author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and co-author of Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

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Is Health Care a Commodity or Right?

September 25th, 2017 by Margaret Flowers

With just a week left before Congress’ budget reconciliation process ends, the Senate is once again peddling a poorly-thought out plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If Senators vote before the September 30 deadline, they only need 50 votes instead of the filibuster-proof 60 votes to pass amendments. And once again, people are rising up in opposition to the plan, making it unpopular and unlikely to pass.

At the same time, support for a National Improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system is increasing and there are bills in both the House and Senate with record numbers of co-sponsors. Will the United States finally join the long list of countries that provide healthcare to everyone?

Overall, it is a time to be optimistic. The movement for National Improved Medicare for All has made great strides this year. Whether we succeed still hangs in the balance. We discuss what it will take to win and how to proceed.

Join Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE) , a campaign for National Improved Medicare for All.

First, Some History

Efforts to create a national health insurance have existed in the United States for the past 100 years. Health historian, David Barton Smith, writes (in a draft chapter) that the fundamental struggle in the US has been over the question of whether health care is a commodity that belongs in a market or whether it is a basic necessity that requires the protection of government so that it is universal. Smith breaks up the past one hundred years into five phases and argues that in each phase, compromises were made that failed because they did not meet the fundamental criteria of covering everyone and achieving effective governmental oversight. He refers to these compromises as “more palatable approaches” that were considered to be politically feasible, but each “self-destructed.”

These failures, including the most recent ACA, have driven health care deeper into the pockets of private industry from the provision of medical services to the the production and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Doctors are turning their practices over to large institutions, “going corporate,” in order to have the negotiating power to simply exist in this environment. Mergers by health insurers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have been acts of desperation, as each sector fights for control. But the bottom line in this fight is profit for a few, not health for the many, and so it is the public who suffers. Dr. Adam Gaffney traces and explains this trend from the 1940s to the present in “The Neo-liberal Turn in American Health Care.”

Make no mistake, currently, in the United States, health care is a commodity, and the profiteers are going wild. Since passage of the ACA, major health insurance company stock values have quadrupled. And they are never satisfied. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are discussing a “bipartisan approach,” as outlined by the Center for American Progress, which is funded by health industry lobbyists, to fix the healthcare system. Their plan is to give billions of more dollars to the industry to encourage it to cover our healthcare needs. They refer to this as “stabilizing the market.”

Any person who says that health care is a right or basic necessity but supports keeping the existing market-based structure is either confused or lying. The market model of health care is a failure. Even Fareed Zakaria, conservative host of CNN, understands this.

This history is important because the elites in power are working to maintain their grip on the system. Incrementalists were out in full force after the failure of repeal attempts this summer. Writers who claim to be progressives argued that those who want National Improved Medicare for All are asking for too much, that it is just not politically feasible and that we must compromise. But what they might consider to be doable won’t solve the healthcare crisis.

Incremental steps that were taken in the past did not succeed because they failed to meet the basic requirements of being both universal and properly overseen by the government. This is why we say that the smallest incremental step that we can take in the US is to create a National Improved Medicare for All, a universal publicly-funded healthcare system that relegates private insurers to a supplemental role to provide extras that the system does not cover. Beyond that, there will still be a lot to do to make sure everyone has their healthcare needs met.

1h4aChrisOwens2017

National Improved Medicare for All is on the table

A victory this year is that there are bills in the House and Senate that outline a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system, and they have record numbers of co-sponsors. HR 676 is considered the ‘gold standard’. It has been introduced every session since 2003 and it has broad support from the single payer healthcare movement. It would truly treat health care as a public necessity and not a commodity.

Under HR 676, all people living in the US would be included in the system, there would be free choice of health professional, the coverage would be comprehensive and care would be provided as needed without financial barriers. HR 676 would create a publicly-financed not-for-profit healthcare system. It currently has 119 co-sponsors, all Democrats, plus Rep. John Conyers, who introduced it.

S 1804 is the Medicare for All Act in the Senate that was introduced on September 13 of this year by Senator Sanders with 16 co-sponsors, all Democrats. It has strengths and similarities to HR 676 as well as weaknesses. Its strengths are that it endeavors to achieve a universal Medicare for All system with more comprehensive coverage than what most people have now. It has strong language protecting women’s reproductive rights and it removes most co-pays and deductibles.

The weaknesses of S 1804 prevent it from fully transforming our healthcare system to a public service. Investor-owned facilities are permitted to continue to operate within the system and budgetary controls that might restrain them were excluded from the bill. Another weakness is the exclusion of long term care and keeping it in Medicaid, which forces people and their families to live in poverty to receive benefits.

Perhaps one of the greatest concerns about S 1804 is the long transition period. Most universal systems are started at once – on a certain date everyone is in the system. This is how we did Medicare as a totally new system in 1965 before we had computers. The delayed implementation period over four years is such a complex transition that there are concerns it will proceed poorly and support for a universal healthcare system will disappear before it is complete. With complexity, comes greater costs. HR 676 would start all at once, which would not only allow the savings needed to cover everyone but would also put us all in the same boat so that we all have an interest to fix any problems that arise.

We created a chart comparing HR 676 and S 1804 and a chart outlining the transition for S 1804.

Jim Kavanaugh of The Polemicist argues that S 1804 may actually be a “Trojan Horse” for the Democrat’s favored proposal, a public insurance they refer to as a ‘public option’ being added to the current mix. We call the ‘public option’ a “Profiteer’s Option” because it will serve as a relief valve for private insurers to jettison people who need care.

Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE), a campaign of Popular Resistance, sent a letter to Sanders before he introduced his bill urging him not to compromise from the start. Thank you to all of you who wrote to his office.

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Next Steps

Winning the fight for a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system is possible. It will take preparation and hard work. Our opponents are those who profit from the current healthcare system, such as the pharmaceutical companies behind the opioid epidemic, those who are ideologically opposed to public safety nets, the commercial media, as Yves Smith describes, and legislators from both major parties, even those who claim to be progressive, because our political system is dominated by Wall Street. We can’t be fooled by progressive veneers. President Obama’s ACA was written by and for the medical industrial complex to enrich the few, and he is already receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars for Wall Street speeches.

We counter our opponents through the principals of I.C.U.:

I =Independence – we must be independent of political parties and willing to pressure all members of Congress, the White House and federal institutions to achieve the healthcare system we need. We cannot attach this movement to any political party or politician’s agenda. To have lasting success, this needs to be a multi-partisan effort on the movement’s terms. If one party or person takes ownership, then the issue can become a political football, as the ACA has become.

C = Clarity – we must educate ourselves and others about basic health policy so that we understand what elements are required for the system to meet our goals and our needs. We will be the watchdogs for the system to make it the highest quality system it can be. This includes understanding which proposals are insufficient too, such as the much-promoted public option and lowering the age of Medicare.

U = Uncompromising – we must stay strong and united around the basics that we need to achieve for the National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system to function. We are often told that politics involves compromise, but some compromises undermine our goal. Movements for social transformation have always been told they are asking for too much. We are asking for what many other countries have and what we are already spending enough money to have – a healthcare system that is universal high quality and comprehensive. We spend more than twice per person per year what other countries spend that have achieved this. For those who say we should have anything less than a universal system, we ask: who should be left out?

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The People will Win Improved Medicare for All

Our goal for the HOPE campaign is to achieve National Improved Medicare for All. We provide the tools and information you need to accomplish this. Sign up for HOPE here.

People across the country are organizing teach-ins and movie nights, doing outreach in their communities, attending town halls and meeting with their members of Congress. We urge you to join the effort and join the monthly education and organizing national calls.

When we win the fight for a universal healthcare system, it will represent a political sea change in the US that will bring solidarity and empowerment to fight for the many other changes that we require. Health is connected to having an education, a job, a home, clean air and water and much more.

As medical student Mike Pappas describes, we need to look beyond access to care and recognize that:

“We must address the social determinants of health. Taking the social determinants of health into account can no longer be something nice to do if there is ‘extra time.’ It must become the focus of medical practice. This will require changing medical education and medical practice.”

It’s time for a real healthcare revolution of, by and for the people!

This article was originally published by PopularResistance.org.

All images in this article are from the authors.

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Featured image: Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s controversial speech at the UN General Assembly, Cuba delivered a zinging takedown of US hypocrisy in a wide-ranging speech that targeted climate change, military invention, poverty and nuclear threats.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla used his UN speech on Friday to remind the General Assembly of the US’s own indiscretions around the world, and to slam Trump, whom he said, “ignores and distorts history.”

“We remind the United States of its violation of human rights,” Rodriguez said. “They do not have the slightest moral authority to judge my country.”

Sovereignty hypocrisy

Rodriguez pointed to the US’s use of weapons and pressure to interfere in other nations’ affairs, and highlighted the hypocrisy in Trump’s speech that lauded the nation’s sovereignty while at the same time threatening the sovereignty of countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea.

“The US government has come here to tell us that, in addition to prosperity, the other two ‘beautiful pillars’ of international order are sovereignty and security,” he said.

Trump “manipulates the concepts of sovereignty and security to his exclusive benefit and to the detriment of all others,” Rodriguez said.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (Source: Wang Ying / Global Look Press)

The Cuban FM described the “America First” patriotism in Trump’s speech as “a perversion of humanism” which embodies an “exceptionalist and supremacist vision of ignorant intolerance.”

NATO member states that promote “military interventions and non-conventional wars against sovereign states” also found themselves in Rodriguez’ crosshairs.

“Unilateral coercive measures and the use of financial, legal, cultural and communicational instruments to destabilize governments” has “become customary,” Rodriguez said.

“Non-interference in the affairs of governments must be respected,” he added.

Poverty

Rodriguez reminded the Assembly of Trump’s comments about promoting “the prosperity of nations and persons,” before damning the president with statistics.

“In the real world, the wealth owned by eight men altogether is the equivalent to the wealth shared by 3.6 billion human beings,” Rodriguez said, adding, “The turnover of the world’s 10 biggest corporations is higher than the public revenues earned by 180 countries combined.”

After highlighting the “cruel and ineffective” construction of walls and laws to stop refugees and migrants, Rodriguez pointed to the fact that “military expenditures have increased to $1.7 trillion.”

“That reality belies those who claim that there are not enough resources to eradicate poverty,” he said.

“Could the several decades of bloody military dictatorships in Latin America be referred to as an example of a successful capitalism?” he asked.

Nuclear threats

Highlighting a common responsibility to prevent nuclear threats, Rodriguez pointed to US opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, its upcoming military expenditure of $700 billion, and its “extremely aggressive nuclear and military doctrine based on the threat to use and the use of force.”

Call for UN democratization

Rodriguez hammered home the need for the “democratization of the Security Council,” which currently has 15 members, five of which (US, UK, Russia, China and France) are permanent and have veto powers.

The Cuban foreign minister urged the UN to “establish a new participatory, democratic, equitable and inclusive international economic order,” that takes into account developing countries and “the asymmetries that exist in world trade and finances as a result of centuries of exploitation and plundering.”

Pence also under fire

Vice President Mike Pence was also slammed for “ridiculously ignoring the functions of the Security Council” in his efforts to modify the Human Rights Council, which Pence said “doesn’t deserve its name” as some of its members fail to meet any minimum standards.

Rodriguez assumed the US wasn’t including itself in the list, despite its “pattern of systematic violations of human rights, namely the use of torture, arbitrary detentions and imprisonment…the assassination of African Americans by law enforcement agents, the killing of innocent civilians perpetrated by its troops and the xenophobia and repression against immigrants.”

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According to the magazine Israel-Kurd based in Erbil, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Massoud Barzani, the self-appointed President of the future independent Kurdistan, have reached a secret agreement.

Tel-Aviv is committed to installing 200 000 Israelis of Kurdish origin in Kurdistan.

The announcement has been widely repeated in the Turkish, Iranian and Arab press. The plan to create a South Sudan and a Kurdistan has been an Israeli military objective following missile development at the end of the nineties. These territories, largely administered by the Israelis, have enabled a rear attack on Egypt and Syria.

Out of the 8.5 million Israelis living in Israel, around 200,000 are of Kurdish origin. In March 1951, “Operation Ezra and Nehemiah” (named after the biblical persons that organized the flight of the Jewish people from Babylon) permitted 11,000 Jewish Kurds to emigrate from Iraq to Israel. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee of New York funded this operation. The planes used for this air lift were made available by the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista.

The Barzani family that governs the Iraqi Kurdistan with an iron fist, is historically connected to Israel. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, father of the current president Massoud Barzani, was one of Mossad’s high official.

The Israeli Prime Minister is the only head of government to have publicly declared his support of the creation of an independent Kurdistan outside the historic Kurdish territory (which would also be to the detriment of the indigenous populations).

Despite the prohibition declared by the Iraqi Constitutional Court, a referendum will take place on 25 September 2017 with a view to declaring this new State.

Translation by Anoosha Boralessa

Featured image is from Voltairenet.org

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Kabuki Politics and the Threat of Nuclear Genocide

September 25th, 2017 by Israel Shamir

Donald Trump has chosen the wrong career. His flamboyant style would make him a popular and much loved Kabuki actor. The Japanese call it aragoto, literally a “rough business” style of heroic drama, featuring a big bold warrior with red and black makeup and a huge sword. The warrior trumps up to the scene with thundering strides and shouts his sky-rending Shibaraku (‘Wait a moment’, or better, ‘cease and desist’) call. His appearance in the UN General Assembly would be remembered with delight by Kabuki devotees for years and years if it were performed in Tokyo Kabukiza theatre.

In Japanese art, there would be a place for Kim, his adversary, in the play called Tora-no-O, Tiger’s Tail. He would be The Man Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail.

Trump and Kim could star together in a rap battle, calling each other out:

– He is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire!

– I will surely tame the mentally deranged dotard with fire!

– Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime!

– A frightened dog barks louder!

They could assume stage names Rocket Man and Orange Dotard, as rappers wont. It could be fun.

However, for an American President in the United Nations his speech was unbecoming and shockingly brutal. The people of the world listened to his United Nations General Assembly speech, and experienced a touch of nostalgia for the late Mr Adolf Hitler, a kind and mild man of subtle messages in comparison to the fiery US President.

The German Chancellor allegedly killed six million civilians, and this sublime sacrifice (do not ask me to what deity, this is just a translation of the Greek ‘holocaust’) is considered the worst crime in the bloody history of mankind. Mr Trump publicly and loudly promised to incinerate five or six times that amount. While the German never boasted of that crime, the American already boasts of his still undone crime. His desire to “totally destroy North Korea”, to wipe out an entire nation of 25 million, and in addition to cause the death of millions of Koreans in the South of the peninsula as well, secures him a unique place among the villains.

Kim, the brazen King of the North, dismissed Trump as a ‘barking dog’ who, people say, never bites, and this is surely a comforting thought, but not as comforting as a muzzle for the beast. This barking dog is obviously dangerous and should be restrained, or put out of its misery. The hound has been hounded by his domestic enemies, and thus he became possessed by a demon, for just a few months ago Trump was a peace-loving creature who wanted to attend to the US infrastructure, who refused to bow to AIPAC and was friendly to Putin. It’s Mrs Clinton who was the warmonger. But invocation magic worked on him.

Once, the magicians did invoke Beelzebub’s name, and the Evil One would make his appearance. The Americans and their Jewish masters are obsessed with Hitler’s Germany; Hollywood outputs a Hitler-related movie every month at least. They invoked the names of Hitler and Gestapo so often that it came to haunt them.

In a divine intervention of poetic justice, Trump’s nemesis bears the Gestapo chief’s name, and applies the methods deliberated by his German namesake. Many of Mr Trump’s leading supporters lie awake in cold sweat night after night expecting Mueller’s thugs to pick their locks and force entry to their bedrooms in predawn mist as they did to Paul Manafort. This Gestapo-style terror knocked the wind out of Trump’s sails. The American billionaires and politicians are not that brave. They can roar against a small far-away state, but feeling vulnerable at home reduces their courage to naught. Adolf Hitler had Mueller on his side, but Trump cuts a miserable figure of a wannabe Hitler persecuted by Mueller.

Donald Trump invoked Hitler to reject attempts to solve the Korean crisis by negotiations. He called this attempt by South Korean president ‘appeasement’, like in Munich in 1938. This is the favourite derisive term of Trump’s demon Bibi Netanyahu. For Bibi and for the new, possessed Trump, whoever does not submit to the Jews is a Hitler who should be annihilated. This is thoroughly anti-Christian attitude, for we know Who said Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. If somebody in Trump-Kim High Noon scene has to be a new Hitler, it is surely not the plump Korean.

Every statesman on the planet knows you can’t cross the US. America is powerful, vindictive and vicious, and you must obey or else. They will destroy you and/or your country sooner or later for your disobedience. If they can’t invade, they will bomb, if they can’t bomb, they will starve first – and then bomb, and only afterwards, invade. One should be crazy to resist. But the little Korean resisted. He is definitely crazy. But we humans adore such crazy rebels against supreme authority, be it Che Guevara or Luke Skywalker. Or McMurphy.

Yes, by his suicidal courage, Kim reminds me of ‘Mac’, Randle McMurphy, the protagonist of Ken Kesey’s novel and Milos Forman’s movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Probably you remember his hopeless stand and a futile, doomed fight against the almighty Nurse Ratched. She rules supreme over the inmates. Against her will, there is no appeal. The inmates tremble before her. But she can’t break Mac. She is forced to burn his brain, to kill him by other means, and this evil deed releases the inmates. Until then, they supported and obeyed the Nurse like the nations of the world obeyed the Judeo-American power. Incineration of Mac’s brain puts paid to her dominion. In revulsion, the placid inmates leave the ward, chose freedom and leave her behind, broken. This is human nature. There is no way for the US to prevail in its fight against Kim the Bold. They can kill him and thirty million of other Koreans, but they can’t prevail.

Perhaps Kim’s stand is unreasonable.

Perhaps, if/when radioactive dust will be blown by winds over the Korean peninsula, and the few surviving Koreans winter in tents near Ussuriysk on the Russian side of the border, reasonable people will say – Kim didn’t have to resist the bully. He should have keep his mouth shut, like we do. But even then we will think – even if we do not say – God damn the mega-killer from Washington! And Kim was bold guy, too bold for his own good, God bless him.

We are used to the fact that Americans do whatever they want – they invade independent countries, wage wars of conquest, seize consular buildings and disregard conventions and treaties while risking not more than a protest note. Insanely bold Kim promises to hit Americans if they hit his country. We are horrified, but we are secretly happy that somebody dares to say that.

Everyone wants to live, and the Russians, of course, are happy with the prudence of their leadership. But they look at Kim like the docile inmates of the asylum looked at McMurphy. Russia is upset and concerned with this conflict. Korea is next to Vladivostok, a big Russian city, and the consequences of the conflict will have to be cleared up by Russia and China. Russia offered Americans a reasonable solution – a double freeze. The Koreans freeze their tests, the Americans freeze their manoeuvres. The Koreans accepted the Russian proposal, and the Americans arrogantly rejected. “This would be a reward to the Koreans,” the State Department said.

Is it really a reward – right to live on one’s own land without facing threats of nuclear genocide? It seemed to us that this is an inalienable right of every nation. The new president of South Korea and the people of South Korea are not eager for a new Korean war, where millions of their brothers and sisters in the North and in the South will perish. South Korea wants negotiations and a peaceful solution. What right does Trump have to refuse – and still claim that he acts in the interests of South Korea? If Kim survives this campaign, it will be a huge breakthrough for humanity. But if he does not, and Trump incinerates Korea and sends millions of Koreans to paradise, then America will achieve only the hatred and contempt of mankind, as Nurse Ratched did, when she fried the brains of the rebel McMurphy.

It would be good if the Pope were to exorcize the demons of Trump, so he will became the Trump Americans voted for. But then, Trump is just more outspoken than the rest of the people in power. Liberal Americans propose to starve the Koreans to death, instead of bombing them. The idea of letting the Koreans live their own way has no buyers on Capitol Hill.

The Russians were dismayed with Trump’s plans to reform the UN and eliminate or undermine their right of veto. They noticed an uncanny similarity of Trump’s call for the UN reform 2017 with Adolf Hitler’s call to reform the League of the Nations in 1937. They aren’t likely to agree to any attempt to cancel their veto. They will not leave the UN, either. They tried to walk out once, and it did not work out well.

In January 1950, the Russians were dismayed by America’s steadfast refusal to transfer the seat in the UN Security Council to the new Chinese Government of Chairman Mao. They insisted the seat should be occupied by Kuomintang-ruled Taiwan. The Russians boycotted the Security Council to their peril: the Security Council (sine Russians) voted to invoke military action by the United Nations for the first time in the organization’s history. The Russians could have blocked the action in the Security Council, since they had absolute veto power, but no Russian delegate was present. In just a short time, a multinational U.N. force under American leadership arrived in South Korea and the grueling three-year Korean War was underway. The Russians immediately returned to the Security Council but they never could reverse the decision, and until today the US troops in Korea use the UN banner.

The Russians remember that, and they will never repeat the mistake. Even if Trump takes his allies out, the Russians and the Chinese will remain and they will keep the Security Council running, if necessary, without the Americans.

The Americans want to have the UN without the Russians. Trump-proposed declaration of intent to revamp the UN has been endorsed by many small states, but the great ones declined to join. In a brazen act, countries that were hesitant or unwilling to sign the declaration – which include Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – were not invited to the launch. An organization without them, will not be the United Nations, perhaps NATO 2.0.

The Russian feelings towards the US hardened a lot in the aftermath of the General Assembly. The Russians helped the Syrian government army cross Euphrates and seize the east bank, despite American demands to stay away on the other side of the great river. For the first time ever, they threatened the Americans present in Syria with using their supreme fire power if their troops will be jeopardized like they were a few days ago, when the Islamists led by American instructors made an attempt to snatch a group of Russian policemen.

The dream of many American politicians to begin a war with Russia does not seem as improbable as it was a few months ago. There are people who believe it is unavoidable – for a strange reason. They say this will be a fulfillment of the prophecy of the Armageddon battle as described in Ezekiel, 39 and in the Revelation, 16. They say that as the present battlefield spreads over Euphrates to Babylon, the deep-seated neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has been activated leading mankind to utter destruction. In plain words, prophesies we are aware of tend to be self-fulfilling. It just remains to be seen whether it will begin in the Far East in Korea or in Syria, in the Middle East.

It would be better if Trump were to take up Kabuki acting…

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

This article was originally published by The Unz Review where the featured image was sourced.

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U.S. Near Bottom in Public Trust of News Media

September 25th, 2017 by Eric Zuesse

According to the most extensive study ever done of the public’s usages of, and trust in, the newsmedia in their country — a study that (in late January early February) scientically sampled thousands of people in each one of 36 different industrialized countries — the United States scored #28, which was in the bottom 22% of all 36 nations, regarding the public’s trust of the newsmedia.

However, the average American had a 53% level of trust in the news-sources he or she is relying on. The country with the highest level of trust in the newsmedia generally was Finland, where 61% of the population trust the nation’s news media. Two countries were tied for the last place in trusting the media among the 36 nations surveyed, both scoring a 23% level of trust: Greece, and Korea. All of the countries that scored below the U.S. (in order increasingly less-trusting than America, down to the very bottom) were: Czech Republic, Hungary, Taiwan, France, Malaysia, Slovakia, and then, Greece and Korea tied at the bottom. 

Those figures appear on page 21 of the 136-page study, “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017”

The surveys also asked respondents to rate themselves between far-left and far-right. The degree of political polarization in the United States, is shown on page 38, and turns out to be, by far — actually enormously — the highest polarization of all 36 countries. Whereas, in the other 35 countries, the residents reasonably constitute a nation where there is widespread political agreement (a coherent nation), the residents in the U.S. are more like a nation in ideological civil war. (Perhaps Ukraine, which wasn’t surveyed, is even worse, and maybe that’s why it split apart right after the 2014 U.S. coup there.) 

On page 103 of the Reuters Institute’s report, is provided the details of the U.S. findings. This page shows that Americans whose main source of news is NPR are the farthest-left of all audiences, and that Americans whose main source of news is Fox News online (not the TV channel) are the farthest-right of all audiences. Among all 32 “News Brands” constituting the “Top Brands,” the only one that is anywhere near the poitical center (in its audience) is Yahoo! News. Only one among the 32 brands has an audience that rates itself to the right of center: Fox News online. Even the audience of the Fox News TV brand, rate themselves to the left of center. Apparently, more Americans are embarrassed at being categorized as rightists, than are embarrassed at being categorized as leftists. Maybe this has something to do with the phrase in America ‘political correctness’ being commonly associated with ‘liberal’ positions, and also helps explain ‘conservatives’ widespread contempt for ‘political correctness’. (Maybe Fox News on TV seems to them to be sufficiently ‘politically correct’ for them to be able to admit that it’s their main news-source.)

The largest 26 news-audiences in the United States, as indicated in the Reuters study (p.103), are (from the largest on down) Local TV news, Fox News (TV), Regional or local newspaper, CNN, Huffington Post (online-only), NBC/MSNBC (miscategorized as being one not two), ABC, CBS, CNN online, Fox News online, New York Times online, local radio news, local TV news online, BuzzFeed News (online-only), BBC, Washington Post online, NPR, local newspaper online, NBC/MSNBC online, MSN (online-only), ABC online, BBC online, New York Times print, PBS, USA Today, and Washington Post.

Alexa shows the online right-wing news Breitbart as being #58 in the U.S., and Huffington Post as being #66, but Breitbart scored in the Reuters survey as being #33 of all news sources, having a far smaller audience than did the #2-ranked online news site Huffington Post (which scored so high at Reuters). Perhaps that’s because Breitbart is proudly ‘politically incorrect’ and maybe a result of this is that many of its users don’t want to admit that it’s their main news-source.

The farthest ‘left’ news-source amongst the 32 top media, NPR, is actually solidly neoconservative; and was gung-ho, in 2002 and up to the invasion in 2003, for Republican George W. Bush’s push, to invade Iraq. National Public Radio invited many proponents (and almost no opponents) of invasion — such as the Brookings Institution’s Ken Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon, and the Bush Administration’s own Eliot Cohen — onto their shows, arguing that it would be essential to invade Iraq. Furthermore, the Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, was among the most neoconservative politicians in America, but was clearly preferred by NPR against Donald Trump, who was panned by all neocons, even by Republican ones, and who emerged as a neocon only after becoming President (though still not yet as much of a neocon as Hillary Clinton always was). And, for example, Eliot Cohen has been an invited ‘expert’ guest on NPR several times recently (such as this and this and this and this and this) talking against Trump, and against Trump’s least-neocon Cabinet-member Rex Tillerson, using extremely disparaging terms against them, such as “probably the worst ever” and “reprehensible.” When Democrats hear this ‘liberal’ news-outlet (NPR) lend its air waves to moralizing super-neocons attacking a Republican President for not being sufficiently neocon, then whatever is left of the left, in mainstream U.S. ‘news’media, has become too small even to discern at all, other than perhaps a few liberal bumper-stickers, to place onto listeners’ cars. But if this is liberal fascism, then is the conservative variety necessarily worse? So, America now is consumed now with one ethnic group attacking another — that’s what this ‘democracy’ is consumed by: distractions, and inter-ethnic conflicts. As if the voracious grabbing by the nation’s super-rich and resultant soaring inequality of power in this country, isn’t a problem that the poorer 99.99% of Americans could unite together against. But, after all, in America, ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ are now nothing more than bumper-stickers. They can always be heard at NPR. And, at some other ‘news’media? Not so much. (And, apparently, not at all at Fox News online.)

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

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In Defence of Democratic Rights in Catalonia

September 25th, 2017 by José Luis Martínez

In Catalonia an important process of independence is taking place against Spain. At the request of the Popular Party (PP), the Spanish Constitutional Court declared the Catalan Statute of 2010, unconstitutional. This statute was negotiated between the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and later endorsed by the Spanish Parliament. Since then, the number of Catalans who want to become independent from Spain has not stopped growing.

The degree of autonomy that Catalonia was going to reach was far too much for a right-wing party as the PP, despite the 2010 statute cuts which were decided by the Spanish parliament.

Chronology of the Process of Independence of Catalonia

  • November 9, 2014: A consultation for independence was held, prohibited by the Constitutional Court. Almost 2.3 million people participated in it. These were the results: 80.72% ‘YES’, 4.55% ‘NO’, 9.56% in blank votes and the rest with other answers. Artur Mas, the former president of the Autonomous Community, called the vote a total success due to the conditions in which they were held. In an appearance on the night of the vote, he sent two messages to the central government: The Catalans had made it clear that they wanted independence and they wanted to decide their political future.
  • November 20, 2014: The Board of Prosecutors concluded that there were conditions to act against the Catalan president for holding the consultation on 9 November and, after a debate of more than four hours, it was understood that there was disobedience to the Constitutional Court, which had banned the consultation.
  • January 14, 2015: Following an agreement between the President of Catalonia and the leader of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), Oriol Junqueras, supported by the President of the Catalan National Assembly, Carme Forcadell, the Òmnium Cultural, Muriel Casals, and the president of the Association of Municipalities for Independence, Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal, the Generalitat convenes early elections for the 27 September of that year.
  • September 11, 2015: Demonstration of the Diada prior to 27 September. According to the organization, two million people participated; however, the Urban Guard gave an estimated participation of 1.2 million people.
  • November 13, 2016: Thousands of people gathered to show their support for the Catalonian politicians who were being investigated by the Spanish court, including Artur Mas himself. The ex-president said that he did not disobey the law, but rather, he obeyed the mandate of the people of Catalonia and called for the consultation on 9 November. Puigdemont, the current president of Catalonia, defended that Catalonia will decide its relationship with Spain freely and at the polls and said: “I hope that the government in Madrid will listen to the people.”
  • March 13, 2017: Artur Mas is convicted of disobeying two years of political inactivity and a fine of 36,500 euros. Ortega and Rigau are also sentenced, for the same offence of one year and nine months and one year and six months respectively. In addition, Ortega will have to pay a fine of 30,000 euros, while Rigau must pay 24,000 euros.
  • May 22, 2017: In a conference in Madrid, Puigdemont, accompanied by the Vice-President of the Catalonian Government and ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, reiterated again the desire to dialogue with the central government to agree on the question, date and necessary majority of the referendum, but added that the referendum will be held, even if the central government refuses to negotiate.
  • May 24, 2017: Puigdemont sent a letter to Mariano Rajoy, President of Spain, stating that it would be necessary for the two governments to start a dialogue. In his letter he said that the Generalitat had the maximum will to seek a peaceful agreed solution, but respecting the will of the Catalan people.
  • May 25, 2017: Rajoy responded to Puigdemont’s letter with a resounding NO. The President of the central government rejects any kind of negotiation about the referendum and accuses the Catalonian government of threatening the central State.
  • June 9, 2017: Puigdemont announced that the referendum for independence would be held on Sunday, 1 October 2017 with the question: “Do you agree with an independent State in the form of a Republic?”
  • September 6, 2017: The Catalan Parliament approved the law of the referendum and the president convened the consultation for 1 October. In a controversial parliamentary session in which the left grouped in Catalunya sí que es pot abstained.
  • September 7, 2017: Prior to the referendum, the central government responded with a series of reprisals from the Spanish state. The Constitutional Court prohibited the referendum and warned thousand Catalonian politicians. The Prosecutor’s Office issues a complaint against Puigdemont and the Catalonian government. Rajoy announced, after meeting with Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) – who assured all his support to the central government – that he will do anything to stop the referendum. But the Catalan Parliament gave the green light to the Law of Legal and Fundamental Transiency of the Republic and Puigdemont ratified that the referendum should continue despite the complaints.
  • September 8, 2017: Inspections by the Civil Guard began in search of ballot boxes and ballots, ordered by the Attorney General’s Office. The Civil Guard inspected printing shops, the headquarters of the newspaper El Vallenc and private vehicles in search of propaganda material for the referendum. The controls have been repeated every day so far. There have been multiple peaceful demonstrations against these police acts and also Julian Assange defends the right to decide of the Catalans.
  • September 11, 2017: A new Diada demonstration with more than 1 million people in favour of the referendum. In his institutional message, Puigdemont says: “No one can disable us.”
  • September 15, 2017: The central government intervened in the accounts of the government of Catalonia and suspended several fiscal competencies.
  • September 17, 2017: In Madrid, an event was held in support of the right to decide, which had previously been banned by a Madrid court. In spite of this, thousands of people gathered. There was a large police presence and the threat of fascist groups attacking the event.
  • September 19, 2017: The Civil Guard took the voters’ census for the referendum and the interrogation by the prosecution of more than 700 Catalan mayors who support the referendum starts. If they do not attend the interrogation, the persecutors office threatens them with jail.

This chronology is not complete, but it shows the milestones in this dispute.

The Spanish Left and the Catalan Referendum

Both Podemos and Izquierda Unida support a referendum but with guarantees. Podemos sees the referendum as a citizen mobilization, but believes that it cannot be binding. Izquierda Unida, for its part, says that the question of the referendum leaves out people who want a federal state, to which the various existing nationalities of the Spanish State can freely adhere.

Defensem el referendum

Source: Socialist Project

The problem of guarantees is that, if the central government does not want to negotiate, the guarantees that are demanded cannot be given, since the updated voters’ census can only be given by the central government.

Esquerra Unida I Alternativa (EUiA), the political counterpart of Izquierda Unida in Catalonia, decided on 17 September to appeal to the Catalan people to participate in the referendum, although EUiA is against the independence of Catalonia.

And here I come to the most controversial point. Who leads the process of independence? The Catalan bourgeoisie is not exactly a very democratic bourgeoisie and is immersed in many scandals of corruption. Although the movement for independence is very transversal, it is highly questionable that independence will serve the working classes, as the parties of the Catalan bourgeoisie have approved in the Catalan government the biggest cuts in health and education among others and have supported the central government when the Spanish parliament has passed anti-democratic laws such as the “Law Mordaza” that cut many democratic rights in order to curb the protests of the citizens against antisocial policies. I personally would vote NO for independence for the reasons mentioned above. However, this does not detract from the right of self-determination of the people. I sincerely believe that the NO would win in a referendum, if it could be carried out with the necessary guarantees, and a democracy should allow the people to decide about their future.

The 2010 surveys indicated that 35% of Catalans wanted independence, but now the surveys say that there are almost 50% of Catalonians that want independence. In addition, several surveys point out that 80% of the Catalan people want a referendum and 60% have said that they will participate, even if the Spanish State forbids it.

The repression and intransigence of the government of Mariano Rajoy have made many people in Catalonia stand for independence. And if his party continues with this repressive policy, it is expected that soon this number will increase.

A Few Questions

  • What are the limits of sovereignty?
  • Is there a right of self-determination only for the colonies or also for the nationalities of consolidated autonomous States?
  • Why is it not possible in Spain what has been possible in the United Kingdom with Scotland?
  • Do the Spanish government and the king fear that a Catalan rupture will provoke an increase in the struggle for a republic in Spain?

I had already finished this article, but the events of today, 20 September, in Catalonia made me have to expand it. This morning the Civil Guard and the National Police Corps entered in several Catalan government departments, they have registered the departments and arrested some 14 people, including officials of the government of Catalonia. The leftist parties in Spain have called for a fight against this new repressive spiral of the central government of the PP that is a de facto state of exception in Catalonia.

It is no longer just the right of people to decide. The leaders of Podemos and Izquierda Unida have said:

“We must also defend democratic rights because of this dictatorial move by the Spanish government.”

They have called for actively defending the democratic rights that are being cut drastically in the Spanish State. In response, tens of thousands of people have concentrated on ‘Puerta del Sol’ in Madrid and other Spanish cities.

What has become clear is that the ruling party has not been detached from its fascist roots. It is necessary to remember that this party was created by seven ex-ministers of the dictator Franco.

José Luis Martínez is a social activist and member of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and Izquierda Unida. He has published books on Latin America and articles in Mundo Obrero, the newspaper of the PCE.

Featured image is from pri.org.

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“This was a violent and criminal act, nothing whatsoever to do with the point of view of those of us who favour a yes vote.” – Senator George Brandis, Australian Attorney-General, Sep 22, 2017

It came, less out of the blue than out of the ether of the expected. “A 38 year old North Hobart man has been charged,” went the note from the Tasmanian Police Force, “following an alleged incident on Hobart’s waterfront yesterday afternoon.”[1]  Former Australian prime minister and conservative high priest Tony Abbott had received a Liverpool kiss, a head butt that had left him, by his own admission, a slightly swollen lip. “I just want to shake your hand and just went bang,” came the description from a Hobart DJ, Astro ‘Funknuckl’ Labe.

Abbott’s account on this directed “bang” was immediate. This had been the work of a pro same-sex advocate, an invert not merely in the sexual sense, but in the sense of political tolerance. Heads had replaced hearts – quite literally.

“Their slogan of ‘love is love’ is unfortunately shown in practice to be intolerance, not wanting people to be able to have their view.” The reliably conservative Senator Eric Abetz also added his stubborn varnish, suggesting that the encounter was “yet again another example of the ugliness of the Yes campaign.”

Abbott garnered little sympathy from various quarters. The critics, as they do with reliable promptness, came out with their pitchforks. The New Matilda site wondered if he was being economical with the account.

“What we do know is that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and on that front there are so many videos on YouTube of Tony Abbott lying”.[2] 

Writer John Birmingham felt solidarity with the man who sported a head that connected with Abbott’s: “Je suis headbutt guy.”[3] Tribal loyalties were being stirred, and violence was being embraced as a necessary symptom, axiomatic in any debate, if it could be called that, regarding Abbott and his views.  Tolerance had been replaced by delight and Schadenfreude.

Others added their own versions, showing that this had become an argument without a distinction, a discussion without a purpose. What mattered was the application of unadorned violence, best reflected by the hashtag running its merry way through Twitter: “nut the cunt”. The brutish phrase had its origins in Labe’s own roughly struck words, which had spawned a social media phenomenon:

“If I see an opportunity to improve my life and those around me by nutting Tony Abbot, I’m a pretty pragmatic guy.”[4]

The social media feast swarmed with disputes about violence, its application, its necessity. The tolerant brigades had disappeared, and the revolutionary pugilists, behind the comfort of a tweet, were coming out. What was left was mere technique, reaction, and counter-attack.

“Abbott has a uni boxing blue,” chirped Steven Trewin.  “Disappointed in Tony that he did not punch the tosser hard in the face! He served it for his king butt.”

Then came the next turn in the tale, another shift in the winds.  Labe, it transpired, had attacked the former prime minister for different reasons. Abbott’s own Liberal colleague, the Attorney-General George Brandis, poured the coldest of pours on the suggestion that this act had anything to do with the same-sex marriage debate.

“This man had absolutely nothing to do with those who advocated for a yes vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey, absolutely nothing.”[5]

Abbott had the Tasmanian DJ seeing a haze of red rage, an instinctive chance. “It’s just about Tony Abbott – the fucking worm that he is.” Old, unalloyed “personal hatred”, and his anarchism, was what sufficed to do violence.  And the fact that he “didn’t think it was an opportunity I’d get again.”

And what of the same-sex sticker on his ticket as the ferocious act unfolded? Astro Labe was unconvinced. It was a case of coincidence, accident, a misalignment of the stars.

“It was purely because a friend of mine had walked past handing them out and had stuck one on my jacket.”

The nature of this debate (if it qualifies as that) has had its inevitable pressures. Violence, not love, is the current running beneath notions of what will be changed by what can only be described as a fatuous survey. The tide is coming in, and the pantomime is unfolding.

Businesses are being made to come out in their own fashion. Sporting clubs that would otherwise be interested in the pursuit of sport have had a stab, with mixed results, at the whole issue of same-sex marriage, donning the rainbow, spouting the line. The very issue is becoming a fashion statement, with a serious undercurrent.  The debate there is simple, unrefined. The default here can only be intolerance.

Astro Labe did reveal the sheer bankruptcy behind such nice-mannered efforts as controlling and punishing the one-punch on an intoxicated night out or restraining violence in the community with the nonsense of control.  Australia, embrace yourself: the truth of simmering resentment will out.

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

Notes

[1] https://www.facebook.com/Tas.Police/posts/1553633184716576

[2] https://newmatilda.com/2017/09/22/is-tony-abbott-lying-about-getting-head-butted-for-marriage-equality/

[3] https://twitter.com/JohnBirmingham/status/911143389361463297

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/22/man-charged-over-allegedly-head-butting-tony-abbott

[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-22/astro-labe-charged-over-alleged-assault-of-tony-abbott/8975454

Featured image is from Sky News.

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This has not been a good week for President Trump’s Iran policy. As the president has indicated, he plans in mid-October to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), negotiated and signed in 2015, which rolled back Iran’s nuclear program, placed severe restrictions on it for the foreseeable future, and imposed the world’s most intrusive inspections regime on what remained.

Leaving aside for now the various and profoundly negative ramifications of Trump’s stated intention to declare Iran in violation of the agreement, the most immediate problem for the president has always been that Iran is, in fact, not in violation of the deal. As attested to by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and all other signatories to the agreement – including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia – Iran is fully compliant with its obligations under the JCPOA.

But this week brought significant pushback to Trump’s plan. Following the president’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, world leaders and diplomats reportedly pressured the president and members of his administration in numerous meetings to reconsider his plan to scuttle the JCPOA. Allies publicly criticized him.

“Renouncing [the Iran deal] would be a grave error, not respecting it would be irresponsible,” said the French president Emmanuel Macronsuggesting further that decertification could create another nuclear crisis like North Korea.

In a press conference following a meeting with representatives from every signatory country, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union, said that if the United States walks out of the deal, Europe would make sure it remains in place anyways. She further indicated,

“The international community cannot afford dismantling an agreement that is working and delivering…Iran is complying.”

Mogherini confirmed that all of the parties to the JCPOA, including the United States, agreed in the closed-door meeting that “there is no violation.” This prompted questions for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had to sheepishly admit that “from a technical standpoint, the IAEA reports continue to indicate and confirm that Iran is in technical compliance of the agreement.”

Foreign Policy reported that the Trump administration’s ploy to use the threat of decertification to reopen negotiations on the JCPOA and squeeze more concessions out of Iran “collapsed on Wednesday as key European powers persevered in their effort to rescue the deal from an American walkout, and Iran’s president made clear his government wouldn’t revisit the terms of the pact.” The New York Times reportedthat Trump’s repudiation of the international consensus and his brash denunciation of the JCPOA was unintentionally generating global sympathy for Iran, while damaging U.S. credibility and trust.

Even members of Trump’s own party began to break ranks. On Tuesday, Rep. Ed Royce, Republican Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN that Trump should not withdraw from the Iran deal, but rather continue to “enforce the hell out of it.” Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who opposed the deal when it was signed in 2015, told reporters,

“if [Iran is] complying with it, I think we should stay in it.”

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General John Hyten, in a speech at the Hudson Institute, said,

“The facts are that Iran is operating under the agreement that we signed up for under JCPOA… We have an agreement that our nation has signed and I believe that if the United States of America signs an agreement, it’s our job to live up to the terms of that agreement, it’s our job to enforce that.”

It’s not clear that this overwhelming resistance to decertification will dissuade President Trump. But the American people should know that if Trump goes through with it, he’ll be doing it in defiance of the facts, the international community, much of his own cabinet, and at least some prominent members of his own party.

This may soon become Congress’s responsibility. According to legislation passed subsequent to the signing of the JCPOA, that requires the president to certify Iranian compliance every 90-days, decertification triggers a 60-day clock for Congress to decide by majority vote whether to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. A decision to do so and join President Trump in his misbegotten scheme to unravel the Iran deal would be dangerous and irresponsible.


“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph UniversityWWIII Scenario

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute  

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After the ISIS Caliphate, Rojava

September 25th, 2017 by Thierry Meyssan

Featured image: This map was published by Robin Wright nine months before the offensive by Daesh into Iraq and Syria. According to this Pentagon researcher, it rectifies the map published in 2005 by Ralf Peters for the reshaping of the Greater Middle East.

While the Syrian Arab Army, the Russian aviation and Hezbollah are preparing to finish off Daesh, the Pentagon is planning a new war against Syria, this time with Kurdish troops. Just as the mission of the Caliphate was to create a Sunnistan straddling Iraq and Syria, so the mission of “Rojava” is to create a Kurdistan straddling the two states, as the Pentagon has been publicly stating for the last four years.

According to US grand strategy, as defined by Admiral Cebrowski in 2001, and published in 2004 by his assistant Thomas Barnett, all of the Greater Middle East must be destroyed except for Israël, Jordan and Lebanon.

Consequently, the imminent victory against Daesh will change nothing of the Pentagon’s intentions.

President Trump is against the manipulation of the jihadists. He has stopped the financial and military support that his country was giving them, and has managed to convince Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to do the same. He has modified NATO policies in the matter. However, nothing yet hints as to whether or not he will also oppose the Pentagon’s grand strategy. As far as the US Interior is concerned, the whole of Congress is in league against him, and he has no possibility of preventing a procedure for destitution other than negotiating with the Democratic Party.

Donald Trump has composed his administration of ex-senior civil servants from the Obama administration, a number of opportunistic politicians, many improvised representatives, and very very few trustworthy personalities.

His special representative against Daesh, Brett McGurk, is an ex-collaborator of President Obama, and is supposed to serve Trump’s new policy. On 18 August, he organised a meeting with the tribal leaders to “fight Daesh”. However, the photographs he published attest to the fact that, on the contrary, several of Daesh’s leaders also participated in the meeting.

In the same vein, helicopters of the US Special Forces exfiltrated two European leaders of Daesh and their families from the outskirts of Deiz ez-Zor, before they could be taken prisoner by the Syrian Arab Army on 26 August. Two days later, they also exfiltrated about twenty more Daesh officers.

Everything looks as though the Pentagon were storing away its jihadist structure and conserving it for other operations elsewhere. Simultaneously, it is preparing a new episode against Syria with a new army, which, this time, will be composed around Kurdish forces.

JPEG - 21.5 kb

This war, like the war against the Caliphate,was announced four years ago in the New York Times, by Robin Wright, a researcher at the US Institute of Peace (equivalent to the NED for the Pentagon). It also planned to divide the Yemen into two states, potentially shared between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – and finally, last but not least, to dismember Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the “Rojava” project corresponds to Israëli strategy, which, since the end of the 1990’s and the development of missiles, is no longer concentrated on controlling its border regions (the Sinaï, the Golan and South Lebanon), but on taking its neighbours from behind (hence the creation of South Sudan and eventually, Greater Kurdistan).

The recruiting drive for European soldiers for the “Rojava” project has only just begun. A priori, it could assemble as many combatants as there were for the jihad, insofar as the members of the anarchist groups which provide manpower are as numerous in Europe as common law prisoners.

Indeed, the jihadist network began in French prisons before becoming a generalised “crusade”. It is probable that the recruitment within the anarchist movement will also spread as the conflict goes on. Washington, London, Paris and Berlin, who organised this recruitment, planned in the long term. I use the word “crusade” deliberately, because these wars in the Middle Ages, like the one we have just experienced, were in fact European imperialist operations against the people of the Greater Middle East. It is just as grotesque to claim that there is a link between the message of Christ and the crusades as to claim a link between the Prophet and jihadism. In both cases, the commanders were “Westerners” [1], and these conflicts exclusively served Western imperialism. The successive crusades bled across two centuries, and the majority of Christians in the Levant fought alongside their Muslim compatriots against the invaders.

Not long ago, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, publicly declared that President Assad “did not deserve to be on Earth”, and confirmed that the jihadists were doing a “good job”. Many young people answered his call by joining Al-Nusra (Al-Qaïda), then Daesh. Today, the French ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, publicly announced that France would support the creation of state which would include Iraqi Kurdistan and the corridor to the Mediterranean via Syria. A few young Europeans have already answered this call, and many others will follow.

Today, as in 2011-12, the Western Press has taken the side of this new anti-Syrian army, supported by their governments. It will never question the treachery of Abdullah Öcalan, who renounced Marxist-Leninism for anarchy. It will repeat that Kurdistan has already been recognised by the Sèvres Conference, in 1920, but it will avoid looking at the documents which specify its boundaries. It will believe it to be legitimate in Iraq and Syria, although it is currently situated in Turkey. It will ignore the fact that the frontiers in fact correspond to nothing other than the plans developed by the Pentagon.

The referendum for the independence of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan and the territories annexed with the help of Daesh will launch the beginning of this operation, on 25 September. As in 2014, it will be intended to simultaneously destroy Iraq and Syria, this time without creating a “Sunnistan” from Rakka to Mossul, but a “Kurdistan”, on a territory linking Erbil and Kirkuk to the Mediterranean.

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).

Translated by Pete Kimberley

Note

[1] This term is poorly chosen insofar as “Westerner” is not opposed to “Oriental”, but to “Soviet”. I could find no other term to describe collectively the Europeans, the North-Americans and the Israelis. Author’s note.


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

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

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

Special Pre-Publication Offer

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

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

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According to a report issued on September 22nd by the most accurate reporter on the current status of forces in the war against Syria — the anonymous military and geostrategic blogger who owns, and posts exclusively at, the “Moon of Alabama” blog — the effort by the previous U.S. President Barack Obama in support of Al Qaeda in Syria, is continuing under the current U.S. President Donald Trump. However, that report isn’t the only indication of Trump’s continuing Obama’s war against Syria, and of the U.S. Government’s continuing pro-Al-Qaeda policy in Syria. And, furthermore, the U.S. Government even supports ISIS in Syria when ISIS is being attacked by Syria’s secular and non-sectarian Government, which Government the U.S. Government has been trying to overthrow and replace by Saud-financed fundamentalist-Sunni Islamists, ever since 1949.

Back on 14 October 2016, Patrick Cockburn appropriately headlined in Britain’s Independent“We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along – US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding ISIS”, but any reference to the Government of Saudi Arabia is actually a reference to the royal Saud family, who own it; and any reference to the Government of Qatar is a reference to the royal Thani family, who own it. And those royal families, but the Sauds above all, have long been allied with America’s aristocracy — the billionaires who own controlling blocs of stock in U.S.-based international corporations, including the ‘defense’ contractors such as Lockheed Martin (whose largest foreign customer is the Saud family), and also the major newsmedia (which is a major reason why U.S. Presidents represent not only the U.S. aristocracy but also the Saud family, who are allied (as the U.S. aristocracy is) with the Government of Israel against Iran, and against Iran’s ally, Syria. So: this is a U.S.-Saud-Israel core alliance, against Iran and against Iran’s ally Syria. From the very start of Donald Trump’s Presidency, the overthrow of Iran’s Government has been practically an obsession.

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


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

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

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

Special Offer

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

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

Click to order

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The Killing of History

September 24th, 2017 by John Pilger

Featured image: The lone survivor of an all-women anti-aircraft battery near Hanoi. Most were teenagers. (Photo: John Pilger 1975)

One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”.  Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”.

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans – it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences.

In the series’ press release in Britain – the BBC will show it – there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans. “We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying.  How very post-modern.

All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the twentieth century: from The Green Berets and The Deer Hunter to Rambo and, in so doing, has legitimised subsequent wars of aggression. The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy”. Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off Napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites”.

In the early 1970s, I went to Quang Ngai province, where in the village of My Lai, between 347 and 500 men, women and infants were murdered by American troops (Burns prefers “killings”). At the time, this was presented as an aberration: an “American tragedy” (Newsweek ). In this one province, it was estimated that 50,000 people had been slaughtered during the era of American “free fire zones”. Mass homicide. This was not news.

To the north, in Quang Tri province, more bombs were dropped than in all of Germany during the Second World War. Since 1975, unexploded ordnance has caused more than 40,000 deaths in mostly “South Vietnam”, the country America claimed to “save” and, with France, conceived as a singularly imperial ruse.

The “meaning” of the Vietnam war is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the levelling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American.

Quoting Robert Taber‘s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said,

“There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on 19 September – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual.

His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now.

Returning to the US, I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition – on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground.

There is plenty of sound and fury at Trump the odious one, the “fascist”, but almost none at Trump the symptom and caricature of an enduring system of conquest and extremism.

Where are the ghosts of the great anti-war demonstrations that took over Washington in the 1970s? Where is the equivalent of the Freeze Movement that filled the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s, demanding that President Reagan withdraw battlefield nuclear weapons from Europe?

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as “nuclear targeting planning is increased”. The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against

“repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War… All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this.”

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders‘ “revolution” in last year’s presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America’s violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama’s overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia’s western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in 2011 signaled the transfer of the majority of America’s naval and air forces to Asia and the Pacific for no purpose other than to confront and provoke China. The Nobel Peace Laureate’s worldwide campaign of assassinations is arguably the most extensive campaign of terrorism since 9/11.

What is known in the US as “the left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to see off a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.

All of this fails to penetrate those “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics”, as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, “diversity” is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin colour: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars.

“How did it fucking come to this?” says Michael Moore in his Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, a vaudeville for the disaffected set against a backdrop of Trump as Big Brother.

I admired Moore’s film, Roger & Me, about the economic and social devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and Sicko, his investigation into the corruption of healthcare in America.

The night I saw his show, his happy-clappy audience cheered his reassurance that “we are the majority!” and calls to “impeach Trump, a liar and a fascist!” His message seemed to be that had you held your nose and voted for Hillary Clinton, life would be predictable again.

He may be right. Instead of merely abusing the world, as Trump does, the Great Obliterator might have attacked Iran and lobbed missiles at Putin, whom she likened to Hitler: a particular profanity given the 27 million Russians who died in Hitler’s invasion.

“Listen up,” said Moore, “putting aside what our governments do, Americans are really loved by the world!”

There was a silence.


“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph UniversityWWIII Scenario

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

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The impending collapse of ISIS has touched off a race for territory in the oil-rich eastern part of Syria pitting US-backed forces against the Russian-led coalition of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.  This is the nightmare scenario that everyone wanted to avoid.  Washington and Moscow’s armies are now converging on the same area at the same time greatly increasing the probability of a conflagration between the two nuclear-armed superpowers.  The only way a clash can be avoided is if one party backs down, which seems increasingly unlikely.

The situation can be easily explained. The vast swath of territory captured by ISIS is steadily shrinking due to the dogged perseverance of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) which has liberated most of the countryside west of the Euphrates River including the former ISIS stronghold at Deir Ezzor, a critical garrison at the center of the fighting. ISIS is also getting pressure from the north where the US-backed SDF is pounding their capital at Raqqa while deploying troops and tanks southward to the oil fields in Deir Ezzor province.

Washington has made it clear that it wants its proxy-army to control the area east of the Euphrates establishing a soft partition between east and west. The US also wants to control Deir Ezzor’s vast oil resources in order to provide a reliable revenue stream for the emergent Kurdish statelet.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has said many times that he will never agree to the partitioning of the country. But the decision will not be made by Assad alone. His coalition partners in Moscow, Beirut and Tehran will also help shape the final settlement. As far as Putin is concerned, it seems extremely unlikely that he’d risk a protracted and bloody war with the United States simply to recapture every square inch of Syrian territory. The Russian president will probably allow the US to keep its bases in the northeast provided that critical areas are conceded to the regime. But where will the line be drawn, that’s the question?

The US wants to control the area east of the Euphrates including the lucrative oil fields. This is why they deployed troops from the SDF southward even though they’re still needed in Raqqa. Earlier in the week, it looked like the Syrian Army had a leg up on the SDF as troops and armored vehicles crossed the Euphrates headed east to the oil fields. But reports that appeared late Thursday indicate that the SDF has beaten them to the punch. This is from South Front:

“On Thursday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) …captured Tabiyeh and al-Isba oil fields in the northwestern Deir Ezzor countryside, according to pro-Kurdish sources. … If these reports are confirmed, the SDF will be in control over a half of Syria’s oil reserve. Moreover, that will mean that the SDF at least partly blocked the SAA way on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river.” (“Syrian Democratic Forces Capture Key Oil Fields In Deir Ezzor”, South Front)

This is a major setback for the Russian coalition. It means that the SAA backed by the Russian Airforce will have to fight a group which, up to this point, has been an ally in the war against ISIS. Now it’s clear that the mainly-Kurdish SDF is no ally, it’s an enemy that wants to steal Syria’s resources and carve a state out of its eastern flank.

The news about the SDF’s arrival at the oil fields came just hours after the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov issued a terse warning to the US and SDF that Russia would retaliate if  SAA positions were attacked again by SDF mortar or rocket fire.

Quote:

“Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed (…)  Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary.”

In retrospect, it looks like the SDF had already decided to make a clean break with the government leaving no doubt of where they stood. Washington is using the SDF to seize the oil fields and to claim to the entire east side of the Euphrates for its own. There’s no doubt that these combat units of the SDF are accompanied by US Special Forces who are providing critical communications, logistic and tactical support. This operation has Washington’s fingerprints all over it.

On Friday morning, loyalist forces led by the 5th Assault Corps ISIS Hunters, established full control over Khusham village on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River near Deir Ezzor city.  The strategically-located village blocks a key road linking the area held by the SDF to the Omar oil fields.

Get the picture? US-backed forces and Russian coalition members are now operating cheek-to-jowl in the same theatre trying to seize the same oil-rich scrap of land.  This has all the makings of a major head-on collision.

Putin is a cautious and reasonable man, but he’s not going to hand over Syria’s oil fields without a fight. Besides, Assad needs the oil receipts to finance the rebuilding of his decimated country. Equally important, he needs the territory east of Deir Ezzor to for an overland route connecting Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad to Tehran, the so-called Arab Superhighway. Putin’s job is to glue as much of the country together as needed to create a viable state. So while he may allow the SDF and US military to occupy parts of the northeast, he’s not going to surrender crucial resources or strategically-located territory.

So what does it all mean? Does it mean that Russia will support Assad’s attempts to liberate the oil fields even if it could trigger a broader war with the United States?

Yes, that’s exactly what it means.

Putin doesn’t want a slugfest with Uncle Sam, but he’s not going to abandon an ally either.  So there’s going to be a confrontation because neither party is willing to give up what they feel they need to achieve success.

So there you have it. As the standoff begins to take shape in east Syria, the two rival superpowers are preparing themselves for the worst.  Clearly, we have reached the most dangerous moment in the six year-long war.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

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President Donald Trump is reportedly gearing up to roll back even the most limited restrictions on U.S. drone operations overseas, further opening the door for the expansion of airstrikes and commando raids into nations like the Philippines and Nigeria and setting the stage for an upsurge in civilian casualties—already at record highs in Afghanistan and soaring in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA, told the New York Times in an interview that while Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes “fell far short on human rights protections,” any move to water down drone warfare rules even further would be a “grave mistake.”

The White House appears to be committed to the move nonetheless, the Times reported on Thursday, noting that the plan “has quietly taken shape over months of debate among administration officials and awaits Trump’s expected signature.”

The Times notes that at least two rules are on the chopping block:

  • “First, the targets of kill missions by the military and the CIA, now generally limited to high-level militants deemed to pose a ‘continuing and imminent threat’ to Americans, would be expanded to include foot-soldier jihadists with no special skills or leadership roles.”
  • “And second, proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting.”

The plan, in effect, would deepen American military involvement in nations considered to be beyond combat zones and allow the U.S. military—and the CIA, which has for months lobbied for more drone authority—to target individuals that are not even deemed national security threats by the U.S. government.

“[D]rone operators and commanders would face fewer internal hurdles to launching specific strikes or raids,” the Times concluded.

As Common Dreams reported last month, Trump has repeatedly shown a willingness to bow to endless war advocates, as he did in his speech outlining the White House “strategy” for the 16-year-war in Afghanistan. Central to his address was the promise to lift restrictions on military operations and “expand authority for American forces.”

With his expected drone rule rollback, Trump appears to be moving closer to fulfilling this promise.

According to a recent analysis by the human rights organization Reprieve, the Trump administration’s more belligerent and less accountable foreign policy is already having devastating consequences. Trump, the group notes, “has overseen a projected fivefold increase in drone strikes” in Yemen, the site of a U.S. assassination campaign that “eclipses all that came before it in scale and brutality.”

Johnson of Amnesty International noted in a statement late Thursday that Trump’s ability to expand the use of lethal force abroad is due to the “legally and morally murky” policies that were put in place and maintained by his predecessors, and sustained by a Congress that refuses to debate the merits of the endless “war on terror.”

Thus, any proposal that “gut[s] already weak human rights protections” that restrain American forces abroad “would be unacceptable,” Johnson concluded.

“The Trump administration needs to ensure that its guidance for operations outside armed conflict comply with human rights law. The administration cannot write itself a blank check to kill with impunity.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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US to Plunder Afghanistan’s Mineral Riches

September 24th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Endless US aggression in Afghanistan has nothing to do with combating terrorism (America supports it), everything to do with controlling the country, using it for oil and gas pipelines, part of encircling Russia and China with US military bases, and plundering vast Afghan mineral riches – likely worth trillions of dollars, a prize corporate predators covet.

They include barite, chromite, coal, cobalt, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, enormous amounts of highly-valued lithium and other rare earth metals vital for high tech products, natural gas, oil, precious and semi-precious stones, potash, salt, sulfur, talc, zinc, among other minerals.

The nation is a resource treasure trove, a key reason why US occupation is permanent, unjustifiably justified by war, the idea not winning it, just waging it endlessly, a forever war.

On Thursday, Trump met with US-installed puppet president Ashraf Ghani, developing Afghan resources discussed, code language for plunder by US corporate predators.

A White House statement said

“(t)hey discussed economic development issues, including how American companies can help quickly develop Afghanistan’s rich rare earth mineral resources.”

“They agreed that such initiatives would help American companies develop materials critical to national security while growing Afghanistan’s economy and creating new jobs in both countries, therefore defraying some of the costs of United States assistance as Afghans become more self-reliant.”

Translation: Ghani agreed to let US corporate predators plunder his country, helping America’s economy, not Afghanistan’s, doing nothing to improve the lives of its people, exploiting them instead.

If Ghani balks at any time, he’ll be removed and replaced by a more compliant puppet, the way imperialism works.

The scheme has nothing to do with defraying the enormous cost of endless war, everything to do enriching US corporate predators, along with controlling Afghan mineral riches.

Pre-9/11, Taliban officials met with US oil giant Unocal in Houston regarding construction of a trans-Afghan pipeline.

The 1999 US Silk Road Strategy Act aimed to develop US regional business opportunities, along with undermining, destabilizing, and isolating Russia, China and Iran – a new Great Game to control vital resources in this strategic part of the world.

Clinton administration talks with Taliban officials broke off in 1999, resumed by Bush/Cheney, again ending unsuccessfully.

The rest, as they say, is history, 9/11 followed, four weeks later Afghanistan attacked, a war planned months in advance.

Another key reason for launching it was reviving opium production, largely eradicated by the Taliban, a key source of income for the CIA, Western banks and other financial interests, besides organized crime.

Things are virtually never as they seem, the public lied to about bin Laden, a CIA asset when alive before perishing from illness in December 2001, the 9/11 mother of all false flags, and why America launched war on humanity in its wake, beginning in Afghanistan following the Clinton administration’s rape of Yugoslavia.

Trump continues what his predecessors began, escalating wars he inherited, threatening North Korea with likely catastrophic war if launched, Iran on his target list, maybe Russia and China to follow.

Today is the most perilous time in world history, things worsening, not improving.

Hawkish generals in charge of US warmaking threaten humanity’s survival, nuclear war an ominous possibility, a doomsday scenario if launched.

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

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

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

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

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The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate

September 24th, 2017 by Robert Parry

The core absurdity of the Russia-gate frenzy is its complete lack of proportionality. Indeed, the hysteria is reminiscent of Sen. Joe McCarthy warning that “one communist in the faculty of one university is one communist too many” or Donald Trump’s highlighting a few “bad hombres” raping white American women.

It’s not that there were no Americans who espoused communist views at universities and elsewhere or that there are no “bad hombre” rapists; it’s that these rare exceptions were used to generate a dangerous overreaction in service of a propagandistic agenda. Historically, we have seen this technique used often when demagogues seize on an isolated event and exploit it emotionally to mislead populations to war.

Today, we have The New York Times and The Washington Post repeatedly publishing front-page articles about allegations that some Russians with “links” to the Kremlin bought $100,000 in Facebook ads to promote some issues deemed hurtful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign although some of the ads ran after the election.

Initially, Facebook could find no evidence of even that small effort but was pressured in May by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia. The Washington Post reported that Warner, who is spearheading the Russia-gate investigation in the Senate Intelligence Committee, flew to Silicon Valley and urged Facebook executives to take another look at possible ad buys.

Facebook responded to this congressional pressure by scouring its billions of monthly users and announced that it had located 470 suspect accounts associated with ads totaling $100,000 – out of Facebook’s $27 billion in annual revenue.

Here is how the Times described those findings:

“Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign.” (It sometimes appears that every Russian — all 144 million of them — is somehow “linked” to the Kremlin.)

Last week, congressional investigators urged Facebook to expand its review into “troll farms” supposedly based in Belarus, Macedonia and Estonia – although Estonia is by no means a Russian ally; it joined NATO in 2004.

“Warner and his Democratic counterpart on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, have been increasingly vocal in recent days about their frustrations with Facebook,” the Post reported.

Facebook Complies

So, on Thursday, Facebook succumbed to demands that it turn over to Congress copies of the ads, a move that has only justified more alarmist front-page stories about Russia! Russia! Russia!

In response to this political pressure – at a time when Facebook is fending off possible anti-trust legislation – its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg added that he is expanding the investigation to include “additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states.”

So, it appears that not only are all Russians “linked” to the Kremlin, but all former Soviet states as well.

But why stop there? If the concern is that American political campaigns are being influenced by foreign governments whose interests may diverge from what’s best for America, why not look at countries that have caused the United States far more harm recently than Russia?

After all, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Wahabbi leaders have been pulling the U.S. government into their sectarian wars with the Shiites, including conflicts in Yemen and Syria that have contributed to anti-Americanism in the region, to the growth of Al Qaeda, and to a disruptive flow of refugees into Europe.

And, let’s not forget the 8,000-pound gorilla in the room: Israel. Does anyone think that whatever Russia may or may not have done in trying to influence U.S. politics compares even in the slightest to what Israel does all the time?

Which government used its pressure and that of its American agents (i.e., the neocons) to push the United States into the disastrous war in Iraq? It wasn’t Russia, which was among the countries urging the U.S. not to invade; it was Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Indeed, the plans for “regime change” in Iraq and Syria can be traced back to the work of key American neoconservatives employed by Netanyahu’s political campaign in 1996. At that time, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and other leading neocons unveiled a seminal document entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which proposed casting aside negotiations with Arabs in favor of simply replacing the region’s anti-Israeli governments.

However, to make that happen required drawing in the powerful U.S. military, so after the 9/11 attacks, the neocons inside President George W. Bush’s administration set in motion a deception campaign to justify invading Iraq, a war which was to be followed by more “regime changes” in Syria and Iran.

A Wrench in the Plans

Although the military disaster in Iraq threw a wrench into those plans, the Israeli/neocon agenda never changed. Along with Israel’s new regional ally, Saudi Arabia, a proxy war was fashioned to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren explained, the goal was to shatter the Shiite “strategic arc” running from Iran through Syria to Lebanon and Israel’s Hezbollah enemies.

How smashing this Shiite “arc” was in the interests of the American people – or even within their consciousness – is never explained. But it was what Israel wanted and thus it was what the U.S. government enlisted to do, even to the point of letting sophisticated U.S. weaponry fall into the hands of Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate.

Israel’s influence over U.S. politicians is so blatant that presidential contenders queue up every year to grovel before the Israel Lobby’s conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2016, Donald Trump showed up and announced that he was not there to “pander” and then pandered his pants off.

And, whenever Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to show off his power, he is invited to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress at which Republicans and Democrats compete to see how many times and how quickly they can leap to their feet in standing ovations. (Netanyahu holds the record for the number of times a foreign leader has addressed joint sessions with three such appearances, tied with Winston Churchill.)

Yet, Israeli influence is so engrained in the U.S. political process that even the mention of the existence of an “Israel Lobby” brings accusations of anti-Semitism. “Israel Lobby” is a forbidden phrase in Washington.

However, pretty much whenever Israel targets a U.S. politician for defeat, that politician goes down, a muscle that Israel flexed in the early 1980s in taking out Rep. Paul Findley and Sen. Charles Percy, two moderate Republicans whose crime was to suggest talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

So, if the concern is the purity of the American democratic process and the need to protect it from outside manipulation, let’s have at it. Why not a full-scale review of who is doing what and how? Does anyone think that Israel’s influence over U.S. politics is limited to a few hundred Facebook accounts and $100,000 in ads?

A Historical Perspective

And, if you want a historical review, throw in the British and German propaganda around the two world wars; include how the South Vietnamese government collaborated with Richard Nixon in 1968 to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s Paris peace talks; take a serious look at the collusion between Ronald Reagan’s campaign and Iran thwarting President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to free 52 American hostages in Tehran in 1980; open the books on Turkey’s covert investments in U.S. politicians and policymakers; and examine how authoritarian regimes of all stripes have funded important Washington think tanks and law firms.

If such an effort were ever proposed, you would get a sense of how sensitive this topic is in Official Washington, where foreign money and its influence are rampant. There would be accusations of anti-Semitism in connection with Israel and charges of conspiracy theory even in well-documented cases of collaboration between U.S. politicians and foreign interests.

So, instead of a balanced and comprehensive assessment of this problem, the powers-that-be concentrate on the infinitesimal case of Russian “meddling” as the excuse for Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat. But the key reasons for Clinton’s dismal campaign had virtually nothing to do with Russia, even if you believe all the evidence-lite accusations about Russian “meddling.”

The Russians did not tell Clinton to vote for the disastrous Iraq War and play endless footsy with the neocons; the Russians didn’t advise her to set up a private server to handle her State Department emails and potentially expose classified information; the Russians didn’t lure Clinton and the U.S. into the Libyan fiasco nor suggest her ghastly joke in response to Muammar Gaddafi’s lynching (“We came, we saw, he died”); the Russians had nothing to do with her greedy decision to accept millions of dollars in Wall Street speaking fees and then try to keep the speech contents secret from the voters; the Russians didn’t encourage her husband to become a serial philanderer and make a mockery of their marriage; nor did the Russians suggest to Anthony Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, that he send lewd photos to a teen-ager on a laptop also used by his wife, a development that led FBI Director James Comey to reopen the Clinton-email investigation just 11 days before the election; the Russians weren’t responsible for Clinton’s decision not to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan; the Russians didn’t stop her from offering a coherent message about how she would help the struggling white working class; and on and on.

But the Russia-gate investigation is not about fairness and balance; it’s a reckless scapegoating of a nuclear-armed country to explain away – and possibly do away with – Donald Trump’s presidency. Rather than putting everything in context and applying a sense of proportion, Russia-gate is relying on wild exaggerations of factually dubious or relatively isolated incidents as an opportunistic means to a political end.

As reckless as President Trump has been, the supposedly wise men and wise women of Washington are at least his match.

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

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This past week the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, announced it would begin selling off its $4.5 trillion debt that it accumulated since 2008 by buying up investors’ toxic mortgage and T-bonds at above market rates.

The Fed has continually argued ever since 2008 this was necessary in order to ‘bail out the banks’. But the banks were bailed by 2010, and the free money from the Fed continued another six years. The Fed $4.5 trillion bond buying spree then drove down interest rates at which banks could borrow from the Fed to historic lows of 0.1%-0.25%, in effect further subsidizing the banks for 8 more years.

What was originally a bank bailout in 2008-09 thus became a more or less permanent ‘banking system subsidization’ program by the Fed, which has resulted in banks becoming addicted to the virtual free money. The Fed’s just announced start of selling its debt–which will have the effect of raising interest rates–is a mere token effort and won’t succeed in any serious reduction of its debt.

As I predict, and explain in my recent book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes’, Clarity Press, August 2017, the Fed now cannot raise rates beyond 2% (now at 1.25%) much without precipitating another financial crisis, or without collapsing currencies and economies in emerging markets, or without causing US multinationals offshore a major profits contraction, or without seriously undermining US exports and thus an already fragile US economy that already shows signs of slowing in 2018.

Thus the recent Fed announcement of sell off of its $4.5 trillion debt is a ‘token’ and a ‘fiction’. The Fed will be stuck with more than $4 trillion in debt by 2019, and will soon have to add even more to it when the next recession occurs circa 2019-20 or perhaps even sooner.

The Fed itself knows this. That’s why the announcement was a token $10 billion sell off per month, and marginally more thereafter. Before it reaches $.5 trillion in sales, and the 2% ceiling interest rate, it will have to stop, or even reverse its balance sheet selling. That means when the next recession or financial crisis occurs, the Fed will open the money spigot again and add still more to its debt–and now on top of the $4 trillion or so debt that will still remain. The US central bank is doomed to go ever deeper in debt in order to continue its program of private banking system ‘subsidization’, which has become a major characteristic of 21st century capitalism and banking. The private sector is becoming more and more dependent on the capitalist state and its central banks to prop up and support its long run faltering investment and profit trends. What was once termed a bank bailout function (called ‘lender of last resort’) has become a banking system ‘subsidization’ function.

This new role of the central bank in the 21st century has also contributed greatly to the growing financialization of global capitalism, as the central bank free money flows not into real investment to produce infrastructure and real goods but rather is increasingly diverted to financial asset markets creating bubbles in stocks, bonds, derivatives, foreign exchange, and property prices–an argument, with evidence, I provided in detail in my 2016 book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’, Clarity Press, January 2016′.

What follows are a couple of excerpts from my ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes’ book, specifically the chapter 14 on the Yellen Fed, that discusses how the Federal Reserve under Yellen–and before that under Bernanke and Greenspan as well–have evolved into the ‘subsidization’ function as a consequence of its decades-long free money injections into the banks have led to accelerating ‘financialization’ of the global capitalist system, and in turn more frequent and severe financial bubbles, crashes, and consequent recessions.


Excerpts from Jack Rasmus, “Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes”

1. On Banking System Subsidization by the Fed

“Central bank financial subsidization policy raises the question as to whether the primary function of the central bank in the 21st century is more than just lender of last resort, or money supply management, or bank supervision, as has been the case in the past before 2008. Certainly those primary functions continue. But a new primary function has demonstrably been added: the subsidization of finance capital rates of return and profitability—regardless of whether the financial system itself is in need of bailout or not. Globalization has intensified inter-capitalist competition and that competition compresses prices and profits. So the State, in the form of the institution of the central bank, now plays an even more direct role in ensuring prices for financial assets are not depressed (or prevented from rising) by inter-capitalist global competition; and that global competition is more than offset by central banks becoming a primary source of demand for private sector financial assets. Excess liquidity drives demand for assets, which drives the price of assets and in turn subsidizes price-determined profitability of financial institutions in particular but also of non-financial corporations that take on the characteristics of financial institutions increasingly over time as well.

“Long after banks were provided sufficient liquidity, and those in technical default (Citigroup, Bank of America, etc.) were made solvent once again, the Yellen Fed has continued the Bernanke policy of massive and steady liquidity injection. Whether the tools are QE or open market operations, modern central bank monetary policy is now about providing virtually free money (i.e. near zero and below rates). Targets are mere justifications providing an appearance of policy while the provision of money and liquidity is its essence. Tools are just means to the end. And while the ‘ends’ still include the traditional primary functions of money supply and liquidity provision, lender of last resort and banking system supervision—there may now be a new function: financial system subsidization.

“The ideological justification of QE, ZIRP and free money for banks and investors has been that the financial asset markets need subsidization (they don’t use that term however) in order to escalate their values in order, in turn, to allow some of the vast increase in capital incomes to ‘trickle down’ to perhaps boost real investment and economic growth as a consequence. They suggest there may be a kind of ‘leakage’ from the financial markets that may still get into creating real things that require hiring real people, that produce real incomes for consumption and therefore real (GDP) economic growth. But this purported financial trickle down hardly qualifies as a ‘trickle’; it’s more like a ‘drip drip’. It’s not coincidental that the ‘drip’ results in slowing real investment and therefore productivity and in turn wage growth. This negative counter-effect to central bank monetary policy boosting financial investment and financial markets now more than offsets the financial trickle-drip of monetary policy. The net effect is the long term stagnation of the real economy.

“The Fed’s function of money supply management may be performing well for financial markets but increasingly less so for the rest of the real economy. That was true under Bernanke, and that truth has continued under Yellen’s Fed as well. Central bank performance of the money supply function is in decline. The Fed is losing control of the money supply and credit—not just as a result of accelerating changes in global financialization, technology, or proliferation of new forms of credit creation beyond its influence. It is losing control also by choice, as it continually pumps more and more liquidity into the global system that causes that loss of control.”

2. The Fed’s $4.5 Trillion Balance Sheet Sell-Off

“From 2008 through May 2017, QE and other Fed liquidity programs raised the Fed’s balance sheet from $800 or so billion to $4.5 trillion. The QE programs ended in October 2014. Since then payments on bonds to the Fed could have reduced the Fed’s balance sheet. However, the Fed simply reinvested those payments again and kept the balance sheet at the $4.5 trillion level. In other words, it kept re-injecting the liquidity back into the economy—in yet another form indicating its commitment to keep providing excess liquidity to bankers and investors.

“Throughout the Yellen Fed discussions and debates have continued about whether the Fed should truly ‘sell off’ its $4.5 trillion and stop re-injecting. That would mean taking $4.5 trillion out of the economy instead of putting it in. It would sharply reduce the money supply and liquidity. It has a great potential to have a major effect raising interest rates across the board, with all the consequent repercussions—a surge in the US dollar, reducing US exports competitiveness and GDP; provoking a ‘tantrum’ in EMEs far more intense than in 2013, with EME currency collapse, capital flight, and recessions precipitated in many of their economies. It would almost certainly also cause global commodity prices to further decline, especially oil, and slow global trade even more.

“Finally, no one knows for sure how sensitive the US economy may be, in the post-2008 world, to rapid or large hikes in interest rates. Over the past 8-plus years, the US economy has become addicted to low rates, dependent on having continual and greater injections. Weaning it off the addiction all at once, by a sharp rise in rates due to a sell-off of the Fed’s $4.5 trillion, may precipitate a major instability event. The US economy may, on the other hand, have become interest-rate insensitive to further continuation of zero rates, or even forays into negative rates(as in Europe and Japan) as a result of the 8 year long exposure to ZIRP.. In contrast, that same addiction may mean the economy is now also highly interest rate sensitive to hikes in interest rates. As economists like to express it, it may have become interest-rate inelastic to reductions in rates but interest-rate highly elastic to hikes in rates. But it is not likely that Fed policymakers, or mainstream economists, are thinking this way. Their ‘models’ suggest it doesn’t matter if the rates are lowered or raised, the elasticities are the same going up or going down. But little is the same in the post-2008 economy.

“Notwithstanding all the possible negative economic consequences of disposing of the $4.5 trillion, this past spring 2017 the Fed reached an internal consensus of to begin doing so. That consensus maintained that an extremely slow and pre-announced reduction of the balance sheet would not disrupt rates significantly. But as others have noted, “such an assessment is complacent and dangerously incomplete”.

Selling off the $4.5 trillion would mean lost interest payments to the US Treasury amounting to more than $1 trillion, according to Treasury estimates. That’s $1 trillion less for US spending, with all it implies for US fiscal policy in general as the Trump administration cuts taxes by $trillions more and raises defense spending. In other words, sell-off may result in a further long-term slowing of US GDP and the real economy.

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Early on Friday, the Israeli Air Force struck a target in the Damascus International Airport, according to pro-opposition sources and the Israeli media.

There are no details about the damage caused by airstrikes. Pro-Israeli sources claim that the Israeli Air Force targeted a part of the airport used for providing supplies to Hezbollah.

At the same time, reports appeared that the Syrian Air Defense Forces downed “hostile aircraft”, most likely an Israeli reconnaissance drone, over the Damascus countryside.

The Israeli military and the Syrian Defense Ministry have not commented on these reports yet.

The Syrian Air Defense Forces was firing at the “hostile aircraft”:

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The Kurds are the largest group of nomadic people in the world that have remained stateless since the beginning of time. This fact has allowed Western powers to use the “stateless” plight of the Kurdish people as a tool to divide, destabilize and conquer Iraq and Syria, where colonial oil and gas interests run deep.

The U.S.-led coalition of war criminals is using elements of Syria’s Kurdish population to achieve its goal of destroying the non-belligerent, democratic country of Syria, led by its popular, democratically-elected President Bashar al-Assad.

Washington seeks to create sectarianism and ethnic divides in a country that, prior to the Western-launched war, had neither.

However, Kurdologists reject this characterization because it does not fit into their account of historical events that attributes a state to them at one point in time. Their estimated population is 30 million, according to most demographic sources. They also reject the idea that they are being used as pawns.

Responding to a question about where the autonomous administration would “draw the line” on U.S. support and the support of other superpowers, the co-leader of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim Muhammad, stated

“Our guarantee is our mindset. It depends on how much we educate and organize our people. If we defend our morals and ideology, then bigger powers cannot use us as pawns.”

The Sykes-Picot agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret 1916 agreement between the United Kingdom and France, to which the Russian Empire assented. It set the borders for countries like Syria, Iraq, and Jordan, but the Kurds held little or no influence. The main purpose of the agreement for the French and British was to bolster their own influence and power in the region. The Kurds have made the argument that they were promised land at the time, but were then cut out of the deal at the last minute.

Kurdish history in the 20th century is marked by a rising sense of Kurdish nationhood focused on the goal of establishing an independent Kurdistan in accordance with the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920. Countries like Armenia, Iraq, and Syria were able to achieve statehood, but the prospective Kurdistan was in the way of the newly founded state of Turkey, established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The state of Kurdistan has simply never existed.

The only areas in the Middle East where the Kurds were able to establish some semblance of legal autonomy are the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq – where minorities are well-protected under new laws– and Israel.

As a result of the disparity between areas of Kurdish settlement and the political and administrative boundaries of the region, a general agreement among Kurds could not be reached regarding borders.

However, the Treaty of Sèvres was not implemented and was superseded by the Treaty of Lausanne. The current Iraq-Turkey border was agreed upon in July 1926.

While Article 63 of the Treaty of Sevres explicitly granted full safeguards and protections to the Assyro-Chaldean minority, this reference was dropped in the Treaty of Lausanne.

It’s worth noting that the Iraqi Kurds are situated on the country’s oil-rich fields. Syria’s Hasakah province – which the Kurds are illegally claiming as their territory and which includes their self-appointed capital, Al Qamishli – also contains some of Syria’s most valuable oil fields. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the U.S. is putting its money on the Kurds.

Attempts to rewrite geographic history

An estimated 30 million Kurds reside primarily in mountainous regions of present-day Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They remain the world’s largest nomadic population without a sovereign state. The Kurds are not monolithic, however, and tribal identities and political interests often supersede a unifying national allegiance.

Some Kurds, particularly those who have migrated to urban centers, such as Istanbul, Damascus, and Tehran, have integrated and assimilated, while many who remain in their ancestral lands maintain a strong sense of a distinctly Kurdish identity.

A Kurdish diaspora of an estimated two million people is concentrated primarily in Europe, with over a million in Germany alone.

These migratory wanderers never possessed their own country at any point in their history but were always part of a larger country or empire that took them in and provided them refuge.

The version of events that the Kurds present is in staunch contrast with the account that is supported by most historians. This has proven to be a point of contention between the Kurds and the citizens of other countries.

The Kurds claim to have been conquered and occupied throughout their history, for instance.

Here is an example of their attempt to rewrite history to fit their narrative:

“The Kurdish region has seen a long list of invaders and conquerors: Ancient Persians from the east, Alexander the Great from the west, Muslim Arabs in the 7th Century from the south, Seljuk Turks in the 11th Century from the east, the Mongols in the 13th Century from the east, medieval Persians from the east and the Ottoman Turks from the north in the 16th Century and most recently, the United States in its 2003 invasion of Iraq.”

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and political commentator. Focused on exposing the lies and propaganda in mainstream media news, as it relates to domestic and foreign policy with an emphasis on the Middle East. Contributed to various radio shows, news publications and spoken at forums. For media inquiries please email [email protected]

Featured image is from the author.

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The Canadian government and its agencies have disgraced themselves on many levels by supporting the illegal Coalition tasked with destroying Syria and its peoples.

International law is broken so Canadian politicians will unlikely be judged at The Hague, as they should be, but at the very least the government needs to stop its support for the terrorist coalition destroying Syria, and it should apologize and make amends for the war crimes that it is committing.

Our fake progressive government should also apologize to Canadians. Canadians did not and do not give informed consent to engineered Islamophobia. They did not and do not give informed consent to our government’s clear support to all of the terrorists infesting Syria. Nor did they give informed consent to terror sanctions predicated on war lies.

The Canadian government and its agencies used our tax dollars to create Islamophobia when it engineered the “kettle -pot” bomb plot on Canada Day.

Prof. Robin Mathews writes in “Canada’s RCMP Caught Trying to Demonize Muslims by Engineering False Flag Terrorism” that

Justice Bruce found officers of the RCMP involved (repeatedly) in serious, improper actions undertaken to create a false and fraudulent Islamic Terrorist Event at the legislature grounds in Victoria, B.C., July 1, 2013. I remind you, also, that RCMP officers very probably – under the Terrorism Section of the Criminal Code of Canada – engaged in criminal activities to which are attached sentences of life imprisonment … as well as lesser terms.

Later in the article he states that

We Canadians must be ashamed – as well as deeply troubled – that such an elaborate, allegedly large criminal conspiracy by police forces and others could take place in our midst. The failure by you – Prime Minister Trudeau, and you Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould – even to acknowledge a communication on a matter as deeply important as this one should send ‘a chill of terror’ down the spine of every Canadian. And it should inspire in Canadians, as well, a determination to learn who (secretly) so commands your loyalty that you refuse to act on behalf of Canada, Canadians, and the rule of law in this dominion.1

Political rhetoric from politicians claiming to oppose Islamophobia is empty and insulting given the government’s covert support for Islamophobia.

Canadians also do not give informed consent to our government’s support for terrorism2 in Syria. It has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the West and its allies support all of the terrorists in Syria as part of a publicly-announced Regime Change war against Syria. “Regime Change” war amounts to a war of aggression according to Nuremburg Standards. Our government is guilty.

Finally, Canadians do not give informed consent to the terror sanctions that we are imposing on Syria. The sanctions play an important role in destroying Syria’s healthcare infrastructure and in imposing death on innocent civilians.

Canada and its allies are directly responsible for the commission of an overseas holocaust.3 Presumably, informed Canadians do not and did not give consent to this horror.

Notes

1 Robin Mathews, “Canada’s RCMP Caught Trying to Demonize Muslims by Engineering False Flag Terrorism.” American Herald Tribune, April 22 ,2017. (https://ahtribune.com/world/americas/1629-canada-rcmp.html) Accessed September 22, 2017.

2 Video: Interview with Australian Dr. Tim Anderson over Syria. Syria Insider. September 21, 2017, Accessed September 22, 2017.

3 Dr. Gideon Polya, “12th Anniversary Of Illegal Iraq Invasion – 2.7 Million Iraqi Dead From Violence Or War-imposed Deprivation” Counter Currents.org., March 23, 2015. (http://www.countercurrents.org/polya230315.htm) Accessed September 22, 2017.

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Featured image: Novorossiysk commercial sea port (Source: Vladimir Astapkovich / Sputnik)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to approve legislation making the ruble the main currency of exchange at all Russian seaports by next year, according to the Kremlin website.

To protect the interests of stevedoring companies with foreign currency obligations, the government was instructed to set a transition period before switching to ruble settlements.

According to the head of Russian antitrust watchdog FAS Igor Artemyev, many services in Russian seaports are still priced in US dollars, even though such ports are state-owned.

The proposal to switch port tariffs to rubles was first proposed by the president a year and a half ago. The idea was not embraced by large transport companies, which would like to keep revenues in dollars and other foreign currencies because of fluctuations in the ruble.

Artemyev said the decision will force foreigners to buy Russian currency, which is good for the ruble.

In 2016, his agency filed several lawsuits against the largest Russian port group NMTP. According to FAS, the group of companies set tariffs for transshipment in dollars and raised tariffs from January 2015 “without objective grounds.”

The watchdog ruled that NMTP abused its dominant position in the market and imposed a 9.74 billion rubles fine, or about $165 million at the current exchange rate. The decision was overturned by a court in Moscow in July this year.

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One of the biggest energy stories this year has been Russia’s Rosneft buying India’s Essar Oil — giving the Russian company a firm grip on one of the world’s biggest emerging oil and gas markets

And this past week, that story got more complex. With Rosneft striking another big deal — drawing in another heavyweight energy nation.

China.

Rosneft announced Friday it is selling a significant chunk of its equity to Chinese investors. In this case, little-know exploration and production firm CEFC China Energy.

Although few investors know CEFC, the company is bringing significant capital to the deal. With the firm agreeing to pay $9 billion to acquire a 14.16 percent stake in Rosneft.

The deal is historic in being the first major buy-in by China into the Russian oil and gas sector (although Chinese firms have been involved in financing LNG export projects in the Russian Arctic). Showing the strength of the ever-growing ties between Russia and China in the energy space.

Rosneft and CEFC have been at the center of that burgeoning relationship. With the two companies having signed a deal this past September for long-term supply of Russian crude into China.

This week’s equity purchase further cements those business ties. And shows that China sees Russia as a critical ally in the energy game going forward.

But there are implications well beyond these two countries. With China now having backdoor access into markets like India — through Rosneft’s recently-acquired holdings in that country.

That’s a critical development for the world energy picture. Given that Chinese companies haven’t directly gained much access into India — despite the nation being one of the most important emerging players on the energy stage.

Ownership in Rosneft could help change that. And could open up opportunities in other parts of the world — with Rosneft currently having operations in places ranging from Egypt to Brazil to Venezuela.

An intriguing side note to the story: CEFC is buying the Rosneft stake from Glencore, and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. Who reportedly purchased the interest just nine months ago — for $12 billion.

That means these holders are taking a 25% loss on the sale, less than a year after buying in. But in the meantime, Glencore was able to strike a lucrative deal to trade Rosneft’s Russian crude — probably making up for the losses on the Rosneft equity, and then some.

All of which shows just how complex things are in this rapidly-changing corner of the energy world. Watch for more China-Russia energy deals — and emerging influence from these two energy superpowers in other key markets like India.

Here’s to teaming up.

Featured image is from Russia Insider.

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North Korea is once again the big, bad, bogey man of Asia, a convenient villain Washington will use to fuel a spanking new arms race. If all-out war does not follow Donald Trump’s insane policies aimed at Pyongyang, something miraculous will have to take place soon. The American hegemony turns once again to the Far East, in a redux of the 2000 North Korean sanctions negotiations.

I’ll wager that very few people reading this remember the 1999 missile tests over Japan that North Korea used to “negotiate” sanctions reductions. Yes, it’s true and not “fake news”, as the New York Times reported from 2000, “South Korea Plans to Begin Rocket Program”. What, you expected ingenuity and creativity from the Trump administration and the US Congress? Not a chance of that, I say. The elites that run the globalist narrative never divert from what works, I tell you. If young and old Americans were fearful Japan would go up in a mushroom cloud in 1999, then the new generation of willing idiots are all the more capable of apathetic abandon. Trump and Co. are just doing Korea or Vietnam II, since those ventures proved financially profitable for the military industrialists and the economy overall. Do you feel like you’ve been duped yet? Okay, read on.

Once again, the New York Times is the soap box from which the hegemons preach to the waiting and fearful masses about the Pyongyang boogeyman, only this time it’s Kim Jong-un, and not his venerable supreme leader father Kim Jong-il who’s center stage in the Armageddon drama. But the headlines this time around are far more creative. A story this week entitled “The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Korea’s Weapons”, brings to mind 007 and James Bond, super-duper-secret rockets from Dr. No or Austin Powers as Dr. Evil, I can no longer discern. Once again American journalists take advantage of the fact most people don’t know beans about much of anything anymore. Let me frame the latest bullshit from Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Junior’s venerable newspaper. The rare and potent fuel it took not one but two award winning journalists to “invent” is known as UDMH, or Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine. Now I am fairly sure that William J. Broad and David E. Sanger both know UDMH is about as rare in the world of rockets as pointy nose cones or ignition sequences. But the North Koreans and the story sound much more ominous and deadly with spy thriller lingo deployed. Just so you know I’m not slinging BS, the rare and potent fuel the NYT cites is old as rockets themselves. I quote from the Encyclopedia Astronautica:

“N2O4/UDMH propellant. Nitrogen tetroxide became the storable liquid propellant of choice from the late 1950’s. Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine ((CH3)2NNH2) became the storable liquid fuel of choice by the mid-1950’s. Development of UDMH in the Soviet Union began in 1949. It is used in virtually all storable liquid rocket engines except for some orbital maneuvering engines in the United States, where MMH has been preferred due to a slightly higher density and performance.”

And now the New York Times’ authors cite classified memos from the Bush and Obama administrations that make “presciently clear” North Korea’s pursuit of the stuff every nation on Earth uses to make rockets blast off! And there’s more in the globalist publication, much more. Here’s how Broad and Sanger twist the tale to suit Washington’s latest provocations:

“Classified memos from both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations laid out, with what turned out to be prescient clarity, how the North’s pursuit of the highly potent fuel would enable it to develop missiles that could strike almost anywhere in the continental United States.”

Spooky and scary, huh? The man who lied about WOMD’s and the man who won a Nobel Prize for killing more Muslims than the Crusaders were on top of the intel, and able to pounce like angry lions for the military industrialists and energy moguls! This ultra-secret rocket fuel invented by (Spectre?) the Nazis during WWII to fuel the experimental Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet fighter, is currently used in almost all “storable” rockets used for either military (siloed ICBMs etc.) or civilian rocketry (SpaceX etc.). So, I’ll leave the reader to his or her own devices to figure out why highly venerated New York Times authors would just mislead their readership. The couple citing WikiLeaks to help venerate the story via none other than Hillary Clinton’s US State Department, pretty much takes the cake where unmitigated audacity is concerned.

Oh, and by the way. The 1999 rocket shots from North Korea flew over Japan too, just in case you wondered. This leads us to the motive for the Trump administration loosing the collective mind over Iran and North Korea. Some will be surprised to learn Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative is ready to be rolled out! Yeah, the real Big Bad Wolf westerners are being warned of is a familiar one, the horrendous fiends Americans must be protected from at all costs (really all costs), ballistic first strike terrorists. And the plan to thwart North Korea or fundamentalist Iran? For lack of a better term, let’s call this version “Skynet”. Yes, the growth perspective of General Dynamics, Boeing, Raytheon, and a score of other corporations will boom if space and the anti-ballistic missile idea catches hold. Some reading are too young to recall the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that the Reagan administration said would end the so-called mutually assured destruction (MAD) strategy of nuclear deterrence. One particular facet of SDI and Star Wars that bears keen scrutiny here is the ABM, or anti-ballistic missile component.

Fast forward to June of 2017, and to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interviews with the famous filmmaker, Oliver Stone. In one segment the award winning filmmaker and Russia’s leader discuss when George Bush abrogated the ABM Treaty with Russia, back in 2001. This “dangerous” moment in US-Russia relations has now ended up threatening to destroy any semblance of nuclear parity, as Aegis ABM systems have now been installed in Romania and Poland, on the frontiers of Russia. And now the Americans are clearly intent on installing the same systems in either South Korea or Japan, which helps completely encircle Russia, thereby creating an even more dangerous situation. This report from The Nation features the Putin interview and the danger of the new SDI, from the Russian perspective, which is equally as important as the western view.

There is not space enough to outline how America’s missile defense strategies have metamorphosed in the last three decades under Ronald Reagan’s successors. However, validation of my thesis here can be gleaned by watching the movements of the key people that would be involved in any renewed SDI or Star Wars initiative. So, the fact the new Commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves testified the other day before the U.S. Senate, “modernizing” America’s ABM capability was the subject. Greaves, who inherited Reagan’s SDI, Bill Clinton’s  Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, and President George W. Bush’s Missile Defense Agency, has more experience and knows more about space based systems than anybody in the U.S. Military. There’s little doubt but that he is a key figure in testing of systems such as the touted Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI), offshoots of the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser (ABL), Raytheon’s Network Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCADE), and an array of other top-secret weapons that operate within certain spheres. Instances of programs that focus on the ascent phase intercept (API). Mid-course and terminal phases of ICBM flight are as broad as anyone can imagine. The mid-course system Mr. Putin discussed, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD), is but a single facet to extraordinary developmental efforts in the field.

Finally, all this “development” spells jobs and money at the endpoint. But there has to be a threat in order to expand research, development, manufacturing, and deployment of these systems. Once again, North Korea plays a vital role in drumming up enough good old fashioned fear to justify trillions of dollars in weapons programs. Therefore, the lie has to be manufactured and propagated through trusted media like the New York Times and other corporate or elitist controlled channels. Advertising was never so effective as when it’s applied to products that save lives and liberty. Stay tuned for North Korea to announce a cessation of all testing in exchange for lifted sanctions, and for Raytheon and others to announce new contracts for advanced deterrent systems.

Phil Butler is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

This article was originally published by New Eastern Outlook where the featured image was sourced.


“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph UniversityWWIII Scenario

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute  

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Kim Jong-un Responds to Trump

September 24th, 2017 by Kim Petersen

An AP report described as “a rare if not unprecedented move,” a purported statement [1] by Kim Jong-un, the chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic Republic of Korea, in response to United States president Donald Trump’s bullying speech to the United Nations earlier this week. The response was relayed by DPRK’s state news agency KCNA.

Of Trump’s speech, Kim said,

“[F]ar from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.”

Kim smartly identified “defusing tension” as a goal and criticized Trump’s “unprecedented rude nonsense.” He also took umbrage at Trump’s insulting his person and his country “in front of the eyes of the world.”

Kim offered,

“I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words.”

Yet Kim described Trump as a “political layman,” “political heretic,” “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire,” and a “mentally deranged US dotard.” Was this exercising prudence in selecting words? Was it helpful in defusing tension?

Do such remarks have “any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension”?

In closing, Kim said,

“As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.”

A colleague informed me that at first blink he considered Kim’s response “intelligent.” I demurred. Trump’s words were indeed undiplomatic, foolish, and uninformed. Nevertheless, in this case fighting fire with fire is the wrong response.

Kim Jong-un would have been better served by taking the high road to defuse tension. One should not respond to Trump’s undiplomatic insanity with additional undiplomatic words.

In this vein, I humbly submit a proposed response to defuse tensions, improve the DPRK’s standing in the eyes of the world’s people, and lay the foundations for a peace treaty.

The following “alternative response” was drafted by author Kim Petersen

Dear President Trump, world leaders, and peoples of the world:

Much has been said and written about myself, the Democratic Republic of Korea, and threats to the world. Insults about myself, I can let slide. My primary concern and responsibility is the safety and well-being of the people of the DPRK.

Let me make crystal clear that what DPRK seeks is peace. The DPRK considers this an imminently reasonable request, a request that is in line with being a non-threatening, peace-loving nation. Yet the United States refuses this request. Why? Why is the DPRK construed as a threat when it asks for a peace treaty? How should the DPRK view the US refusal of such an overture?

The DPRK is led to conclude that given the fact that the US desires to maintain a state of war, given that the US continues to conduct war maneuvers with “decapitation” as a goal, given that the US is nuclear armed and has used nuclear weapons, given that the US refuses its obligations as outlined under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to “undertake to pursue good-faith negotiations on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race, to nuclear disarmament, and to general and complete disarmament,” given the destruction the US has historically wreaked on the DPRK (although the DPRK has never attacked the US), given that the US destroyed fundamentally disarmed states such as Iraq and Libya in which the leaders were executed in macabre fashion, and given that the US split the Korean peninsula … then the only prudent action the DPRK could take is to provide itself with a deterrent for the protection of the Korean populace.

This is the solemn duty of any responsible government and any responsible leader anywhere. It is one I must not shirk from.

The DPRK does not seek confrontation with the US or with the American people. The DPRK seeks peace. Therefore, I call upon president Trump to enter a fair, respectful, good-faith dialogue committed to the establishment of peaceful relations between the DPRK and the US.

I also implore our brothers and sisters in the Republic of Korea to help defuse tensions. Should the US government insist on maintaining a state of war, then there is no reason why Koreans should be pitted against Koreans. We must never again fight each other. We sincerely call upon our brothers and sisters in the ROK to deescalate tensions and enter into a new era of peaceful cooperation and prosperity.

A faithful servant of the people of the Democratic Republic of Korea,

Kim Jong-un

***

Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Twitter: @kimpetersen.

Note

1. Corporate media reporting of statements made by political leaders from states demonized in the West must be regarded with extreme skepticism until verified.


“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph UniversityWWIII Scenario

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute  

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Netanyahu and Trump Conspire to Ditch Deal with Iran

September 23rd, 2017 by Anthony Bellchambers

In a dangerously inflammatory speech to the UN General Assembly, this week, a warmongering Israeli Prime Minister, (currently under investigation for fraud, bribery and corruption by his own Justice Department), incited violence by calling for insurrection by the Iranian people against their democratically elected government. It was a speech that should never have been allowed, by a politician who is determined that his secretly nuclear-armed state becomes the regional hegemon with help from a compliant American president.

Netanyahu is determined to persuade Trump to try to scupper the nuclear deal with the Iranian state that was negotiated by the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, France, China and the European Union and brokered, in 2015, in order to facilitate peace in the Middle East and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Israel, of course, is the only undeclared nuclear weapons state in the world having secretly built up an arsenal of up to 400 nuclear warheads – enough to destroy the entire Middle East and Europe.

The UN Security Council should now propose a Resolution demanding that Israel submit its secret nuclear arsenal to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and becomes a party to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), failing which it should be subject to international trade sanctions as well as a comprehensive arms embargo.

Trying to overturn the internationally agreed deal with Iran is a dangerous strategy for nuclear dominance by Netanyahu that must be stopped in its tracks by the European Union, China and Russia, in the interests of world peace.


“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph UniversityWWIII Scenario

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

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Unites Nations – and the Monster in the Room

September 23rd, 2017 by Peter Koenig

There are no words, other than Monster, not even human monster, that can describe Trump’s appearance before the UN General Assembly last Tuesday, 19 September.

It’s of no use to go through details of the insults he yelled at the word – many others have explained and analyzed that already – and done it well – remains to say that what Trump demonstrated with threats of total devastation of North Korea, war against Iran, total asphyxiation of Venezuela, regime change in Syria – and more – is sheer criminal, war criminal behavior.

Pledging for respect of nations’ sovereignty, yet threatening the world at large – except for Israel -with total annihilation if it doesn’t follow Washington’s orders, is pure hypocrisy; it has never been expressed as desperately before the entire UN body of nations as did Trump last Monday. While some of his predecessors have not talked kindly to this league of nations, expressing threats, lies and humiliations, the extent of Trump’s atrocious behavior has no precedent in the history of the UN.

The ongoing US indiscriminate killing around the globe – tens of millions of people in the last 70 years alone – plus these ferocious, insane threats, and economic strangulations through illegal sanctions, are ripe for a new Nuremburg type tribunal

It is a typical and dangerous conduct for a dying beast. Lashing out at its surroundings, at the world, as it were – for intimidation, disgrace and foremost to pull as many as possible with the dying monster into its self-made grave.

But the burning question that we have to ask ourselves, is this: Why did almost nobody, safe for Iran and North Korea and perhaps one or the other country representative walk out? 

Why did of the more than 180 nations who wish and desire the final demise of this murderous empire, not dare to exit the room of the Monster, the General Assembly, and let Trump speak and yell atrocities to empty walls and to himself?

The New York Times reports that “world leaders were stoic and quiet, barely reacting to his remarks about their countries.”

Why? Out of fear? What fear? – Could and would this military dictatorship, run by “Mad Dog” et al, a top brass military junta, destroy the world as we know it? – I don’t think so.

Is it for the money, because the US is currently footing almost a quarter of the UN budget and is threatening to withdraw her funding, if the UN is not “restructured”, meaning, to become a total puppet of Washington and its deep state? – I don’t think so. Indeed, by 22 September 2017, the US of A had not paid her dues.

Every halfway sane nation knows that the UN already today is barely more than a stooge to Washington, so are most of the UN specialized agencies and international courts that were once created with good intentions, I hope to believe.

So, then why?

Wouldn’t walking out have been a clear act of world solidarity, of a world that stands for peace and not for eternal war, not for a weapons and military based economy, but one that thrives on peace, on people’s development and wellbeing? 

A new UN body, à la League of Nations after WWI that stands for peace, could be forged without the rogue nations, such as the United States and Monsters such as Trump. And this at a cost much lower than the current official UN budget of US$ 5.4 Billion. A lot of deadwood overhead could be cut.

Or, is it that almost the entire world, its leaders, have become psychopaths, succumbing to the Stockholm syndrome? – They seek the protection of their very murderer. How sick has our western civilization become? The result of neoliberalism – a ‘modern’ form of fascism that makes people blindly obeying their butcher, confronting their own demise?

It’s high time that we wake up. Better late than never. And the Never is when we have been swallowed by the deadly abyss. Before that very moment, we still have a chance to resist.

Open your eyes and ears and walk away from and boycott Monsters like Trump, and the handlers that have chosen their multi-billionaire bully to frighten the world into submission.

Wake up! And walk out a way – forging a peace solidarity!

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

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Trump Alone Threatened War in His UN Address

September 23rd, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

The UN is a venue for promoting world peace and stability. Trump used his General Assembly address for hostile chest-thumping, threatening North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad – a disgraceful jingoistic display.

The only language he understands is belligerence, escalating wars he inherited from Bush/Cheney and Obama, plotting new ones, threatening possible nuclear confrontation on the Korean peninsula.

He’s a national disgrace and a world menace, a rogue leader. Addresses by his counterparts and other officials representing their countries shamed him.

Sergey Lavrov showed why he’s the world’s preeminent diplomat, polar opposite to US hawks  denouncing “military hysteria,” a clear reference to Trump, urging dialogue to avoid potentially catastrophic policies, calling it unacceptable to impose sanctions on anyone unilaterally, forthrightly supporting the Iran nuclear deal, urging greater efforts for peace and stability in war-torn countries, supporting justice for Palestinians, expressing respect for the sovereign rights of all nations, while denouncing hostile NATO expansion close to Russia’s borders.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for resolving contentious issues diplomatically, notably on the Korean peninsula, rejecting war forthrightly, urging what he called a “holistic” approach to combating terrorism.

“China is always a force for peace,” he stressed, adding “aggression is not in the Chinese genes,” its agenda polar opposite Washington’s, expressing support for multi-world polarity like Russia, denouncing efforts of any nation to dominate others, his address similar to Sergey Lavrov’s.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged peace on the peninsula. He recalled the horror of the 1950s war, wanting another avoided at all costs.

He urged all relevant parties to pursue peace, opposes Korean peninsula reunification while forthrightly opposing policies risking the DPRK’s collapse, hugely destabilizing if happens, devastating if from war.

He confirmed pledging $8 million in aid to Pyongyang, a token gesture, perhaps suggesting more to come. He strongly supports regional peace, stability and mutual cooperation, benefitting all area nations, war risking catastrophic harm.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for “moderation and respect for human rights and prosperity and economic revitalization at home, and constructive engagement around the world.”

Iran seeks peace, not war, mutual cooperation, not confrontation, deploring imperial recklessness, America wanting its will imposed on other nations, supporting terrorism, not opposing it.

Rouhani is a distinguished leader, twice democratically elected, an outspoken opponent of oppression and belligerence, combining diplomacy, politics and scholarship, author of many books.

They include Islamic Revolution: Roots and Challenges, National Security and Economic System of Iran, National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy, National Security and Foreign Policy, National Security and Environment, as well as several volumes of personal memoirs and Islamic political thought.

He pursues “constructive interaction with the world.” He’s a highly respected leader, polar opposite his deplorable Western and Israeli counterparts.

On Thursday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), published a rare public statement by DPRK leader Kim Jong-un. Here it is in full:

“The speech made by the US president in his maiden address on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.

Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereotyped, prepared remarks a little from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s biggest official diplomatic stage.

But, far from making any remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful in diffusion tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense no one has ever heard from any of his predecessors. A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behavior of the US president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats and regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.

His remarks remind me of such words as ‘political layman’ and ‘political heretic’ which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.

After taking office, Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world.

He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.

His remarks which described the US option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.

Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the US pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.

This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump.

I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue.

Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.”

Kim combined justifiable outrage with well-thought out remarks. Did he sound deranged as Washington claims?

Not at all!

Trump alone was unacceptably belligerent in his UN address, embarrassing the office he holds, disgraceful beginning-to-end demagoguery, recklessly hawkish – deplorably threatening war instead of urging world peace.

His rogue credentials were on display for the whole world to see and understand. Humanity holds its breath wondering what he’ll do next.

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

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

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

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

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Penguins and the United Nations

September 23rd, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

“That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it.” Benjamin Netanyahu, UN General Assembly Address, 2017

While he is very much the traditional politician, whose sheen has been corrupted, whose approach to policy merits suspicion, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was happy with US President Donald Trump. Trump had just given a rousing display of realpolitik before the United Nations General Assembly, though it was less a case of Machiavelli than an instance of plain, boardroom mannered bullying. America First had made its boisterous debut, and Israel was not going to miss out. 

Certainly not Sara Netanyahu, who decided that watching Trump in action (a good “friend” of the family, as is constantly reiterated) would be far better done in the first row of diplomats rather than the balcony, where Trump’s wife was left.

Not that people should have made much of a fuss. Policy decisions, prejudices and sentiments are well articulated from the podium of many a UN address, but these tend to be more froth than substance. The diplomats, in time, will clean up the mess, mop the walls and tidy up the stalls.

“Most analysts will tell anybody who will listen,” writes Joshua Davidovich for the Times of Israel, “that speeches at the UN General Assembly are largely pabulum.”[1]

This pabulum had to begin with the language of drama, one suggesting that anything personal in the prime minister’s life was bound to be globally significant. Israel was facing a revolution in its “standing among the nations.”[2] Countries had suddenly “woken up” to Israeli prowess, its throbbing inner genius.  Israel, the “innovation nation”, the miracle worker in agriculture, cybersecurity, medicine, autonomous vehicles.

Any potion of exceptionalism a US politician offers can be bettered by an Israeli one. Israel, Netanyahu told delegate members, had become something of a clearing house for anti-terrorist expertise.

“In recent years,Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world.”

And leaders of the world were curious, wondrous, delighted. They came to see for themselves, to taste the heavenly manna and drink its magical waters. Trump had visited in May and stood at the Western Wall – “and when the president touched those ancient stones, he touched our hearts forever.” Then there was the visit by Indian Prime Minister Modi – more Israeli ingenuity on show.

It also followed that the Israeli leader would be something of a jetsetter too, racking up his frequent flyer ledger. Africa featured (“Israeli innovators increasing crop yields”); Asia (the deepening of ties with China and Singapore); and advancing cooperation with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – moderate Muslim states, of course.

The time for a comic turn was nigh. “One year, six continents.” But what of Antarctica? Yes, the good prime minister was hoping to visit the continent of ice having “heard that penguins are also enthusiastic of Israel.” They had little difficulty acknowledging “that some things are black and white, are right and wrong”. Remarkable.

Nentayahu could not avoid returning to a theme so worn it is falling off its hinges: the Iran nuclear deal, the perception that any arrangement with Teheran made with the international community must smack of conciliatoriness to the death dealing mullahs. Be wary of the sunset clause on restrictions placed on them; be wary of a nuclear-armed Iranian-Islamist empire.

In so doing, he managed to shoot a line of Farsi to the Iranian people, a doffing of the cap. A degree of bootlicking was also offered – every Israeli leader needs to be dexterous:

“President Trump rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran – he called it ‘an embarrassment’.”

It was, according to Yossi Verter in Haaretz,

“the black against all the shining white that is modern, innovative Israel, whose seawater the Indian prime minister drank two minutes after it had been desalinated.”[3]

As for the Iranian deal, it was fix it, or nix it.

But things have not been going well for Netanyahu. While attempting to keep the show smooth and going on the international road, his domestic affairs are suffering. One version of this is offered by Yoaz Hendel, a soft variant that almost comes across as fawning, apologetic, sympathetic.

“It’s like there are two prime ministers.”  One is suitable, proper, managing “to wrangle unprecedented support out of the US president and advances ties with moderate Arab states.” The other “is busy with the former house manager in his residence, takeout trays and the terrible stories about him in the media.”

While performing in New York, Netanyahu was evidently fronting for his audience in Israel, attempting to shore up sliding positions with is pitch to greatness. Members of the law are keeping an eye on him, those in the Justice Ministry mulling over whether he is worth charging over instances of corruption, abusing former household staff or a scandal over deposits on empty bottles.

Israel’s citizens are doing likewise. According to Verter,

“He was trying to appease his people in Zion who, because of the late hour of his speech, 10 p.m., weren’t able to watch him during the usual hour of 8 to 9.”

A truly motley array of positions, then. Netanyahu, the potential suspect pleading for mercy; Netanyahu the great statesman and head of an enterprising, indestructible society thriving against the odds; Netanyahu the wise crack specialist with an inner knowledge of a penguin’s moral compass. And Netanyahu the singer of praise for a certain Donald Trump.

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

Notes

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Fact Check: Updating Cold War Myths About Thailand

September 23rd, 2017 by Joseph Thomas

Many honest, busy analysts outside established media circles in the United States and Europe are plagued by mythologies stemming from once pseudo-truths they simply lack the time or energy to dig into and finally correct.

Among them are enduring myths about the Southeast Asian state of Thailand and its relationship with the United States. These myths stem from its role during the Vietnam War and are now not only outdated, they are destructive to the truth to a point where they aid rather than impede the very special interests upon Wall Street and in Washington many of these analysts seek to expose and confront.

US-Thai Relations During the Vietnam War  

During the Vietnam War, Thailand hosted US forces on its territory. It contributed a number of its own troops in supporting roles throughout Southeast Asia and conducted its own military campaign domestically against heavily armed Communist militants. It is easy to conclude that Thailand was an eager ally then, and easy to see why many analysts assume this is still the case today.

However, in reality, the history of Thailand is of the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation. It is also the story of a nation that survived the World Wars by expertly aligning itself amid greater powers, neither significantly contributing to nor suffering from contests of powers between more powerful nations.

During the Second World War, Thailand tenuously aligned with the Japanese. It played no significant role in a war the Japanese ultimately lost. Upon Japan’s defeat, Thailand would once again balance its relationships evenly among its Asian neighbours and the Western victors of the war.

The Vietnam War was likewise a regional war started by foreign powers. It devastated not only Vietnam itself, but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia as well. Despite escaping the worst of the fighting, Thailand lost over a thousand soldiers and police amid security operations within its own borders. It fought allegedly Communist fighters, based primarily in Udon Thani, coincidentally where the US maintained its intelligence apparatus.

In hindsight of the current so-called “War on Terror,” where the US uses terrorism both as a proxy force against its enemies and as a pretext and pressure point for manoeuvring against its supposed allies, it appears a similar arrangement unfolded in Southeast Asia. Readers should keep in mind that this includes the supposedly leftist Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia backed by the United States being ultimately overthrown by Communist Vietnam forces. Geopolitically, it appears the US supports allies and agents of convenience rather than those who share their supposed ideologies.

Despite supplying Thailand with a large amount of US weapons, conducting annual military exercises with the Royal Thai Armed Forces and claiming Thailand as one of America’s oldest and closest allies in Southeast Asia, upon America’s withdrawal in Vietnam, America’s influence and ties with Bangkok incrementally diminished over time.

Thailand Today is not the Vietnam-Era US Ally of Yesterday 

Claims that Thailand ever was a “close ally” of America are tenuous at best. Regardless of how one splits hairs regarding Bangkok and Washington’s past, Thailand today is undoubtedly in the process of yet another historical realignment, reflecting the geopolitical shifts taking place worldwide as America’s global influence declines.

In 2000, billionaire and politician Thaksin Shinawatra assumed power. He had previously been an adviser to the US equity firm, the Carlyle Group, and upon taking office, boasted that he would continue his role in pairing US business interests with Thailand’s resources. He would also privatise Thailand’s large oil conglomerate, inviting foreign corporations to buy shares. He would also unilaterally pursue a US-Thai free trade agreement that was ultimately obstructed by Thailand’s sovereign institutions.

In addition to the overt pro-American stance Shinawatra took, he also was more insidiously attempting to undermine and overthrow Thailand’s sovereign institutions, a move that would have left the nation vulnerable to foreign predation. Shinawatra would eventually be ousted from power in a 2006 coup. From 2006 onward, Shinawatra would be the recipient of extensive lobbying services from some of the largest lobbying firms in Washington including those with direct ties to the Carlyle Group’s membership. These included Baker Botts of US President George Bush-era James Baker fame.

Thailand has suffered from political instability ever since, as Shinawatra and his foreign-backed political party struggle to retake power. This included the most recent conflict centred around Shinawatra’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra who briefly served as prime minister from 2011-2014 before also being ousted in a coup.

It is a process of destabilisation openly facilitated by US and European-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations. The role of America’s National Endowment for Democracy, USAID and private foundations like Open Society in support of Shinawatra’s bid to return to power under the guise of “democracy” have been extensively documented for years.

Yet despite the truth of this now decade-plus political crisis being extensively documented, the myth of Thailand remaining a close US ally persists even as the US openly attempts to subvert Thailand and its sovereign institutions, particularly its military and its constitutional monarchy.

Thailand’s Growing Ties With China 

Beyond anecdotal evidence provided by Westerners confined to a handful of tourist traps in Bangkok, Thailand is a nation in transition. While tourism provides a significant amount of income for Thailand, it possesses a primarily manufacturing and agriculture-based economy. Despite this, tourism provides insight into shifting global trends and for Thailand there has been a clear shift from receiving Americans, Western Europeans and Japanese to now receiving mostly Chinese, ASEAN and Russian tourists.

In 2016, approximately 8.7 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand, followed by 3.5 million Malaysians and 1 million Russians. Tourists from the United States fell under 1 million.

This represents a socioeconomic shift globally, and it is a shift that Thailand is adjusting to not only in terms of tourism, but economically, diplomatically and militarily as well.

China and the United States represent Thailand’s two largest trading partners with trade almost equal between the two world powers. However, in the near future, trade will likely shift distinctively in China’s favour. While the US continues to provide a hungry import market for Thai manufacturing and agriculture, it has little to offer Thailand in return. Conversely, China offers infrastructure, technology and military hardware. It also has the advantage of proximity.

In addition to joint infrastructure projects between Thailand and China, including a high-speed railway aimed at linking Thailand to southern China, Thailand has begun diversifying heavy industry acquisitions with purchases from China. This includes Chinese rolling stock for Thailand’s mass transportation systems.

Thailand is also diversifying its military arsenal, at one time dominated by US weaponry. Today, Thailand has acquired main battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers from China. It is also in the process of acquiring Chinese submarines. In addition to continued annual joint Thai-US military exercises, Thailand has begun conducting its first joint-exercises with China in recent years beginning in 2015.

It is clear that a geopolitical shift is taking place and that Thailand is shifting with these changes. The myth of Thailand being a stalwart US proxy does not even pass historical scrutiny, let alone stand up to current events.

The US has invested deeply in an ousted political party propped up by a large network of US and European funded NGOs, opposed to, not supporting the current Thai government, its military or its constitutional monarchy.

The US is falling behind in all matters economically to China, who is not only a significant trading partner with Thailand, but also plans on playing a role in developing modern infrastructure in both Thailand and among Thailand’s ASEAN neighbours.

Attempts to portray the current Thai government as beholden to Washington and support of Thai opposition to the Thai military and constitutional monarchy only serve Washington’s interests in destabilising all three and placing their proxies led by Thaksin Shinawatra back into power.

Analysts who choose to cover Thailand and its role in geopolitics must take the time and effort to unravel these self-defeating and persistent myths about Thailand’s role in history and particularly its complicated relationship with Washington, predicated more on self-preservation than on willing or beneficial abetting. They must also unravel persistent myths about Thailand’s economic and military relations today, myths easily dispelled by even the most cursory research into easily obtainable statistics.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

All images in this article are from New Eastern Outlook.

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How the US Became a Warmonger Police State

September 23rd, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Professor David Ray Griffin is a tenacious person. He has written a number of carefully researched books that demonstrate the extraordinary shortcomings in the official account of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the subsequent anthrax attack. He has provided the mountains of evidence completely ignored by the US government’s account.  

In his recently published latest book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, Professor Griffin demonstrates how 9/11 was used by the Zionist Neoconservatives, the Cheney/Bush regime, and the military/security complex with the complicity of Congress and the US media to create Islamophobia among the American public in order to launch wars of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and provinces of Pakistan with Iran in the crosshairs. These wars are based on lies and fabricated “evidence,” on determination to control pipelines and oil flows, on maximizing profits for the military/security corporations in which Cheney has a personal interest, and on extending neoconservative hegemony over the world. 

One consequence has been the destruction of US constitutional protections that protect liberty and violations of US and international law such as the laws against torture.

Another consequence has been millions of displaced refugees from Washington’s wars over-running the countries of Europe. 

Indeed, Europe faces a “Camp of the Saints” situation, and the US now has a police state in which all citizens are subject to: indefinite detention (imprisonment) on suspicion alone without conviction or evidence presented to a court; assassination on suspicion alone without due process of law; and total violation of privacy, including body cavities, without presentation of a court warrant. American women are now subjected to having their vaginas examined by police in public on the roadside.

The hoax “war on terror” has turned America into a Gestapo state. Not many Americans directly experience the consequences, but they will be denied valid information as the Gestapo American state closes down all dissent on the grounds that it is harmful to national security. People who speak their minds will find that they no longer have First Amendment protection. 

Every passing day truth is less and less prevalent in the United States. Democratic control over the government is already nonexistent. Essentially, Americans live in the Fourth Reich which has already budded and is now blossoming.

Wars and their expense will continue to multiply as the military/security complex uses manufactured “threats” to continue the excessive flow of American resources into more weapons to be used in the destruction of more countries. 

Professor Griffin provides the details of the story of how the United States ceased to be a free country ruled by law and became instead a threat both to American civil liberty and to life on earth.

In world polls 25% of the respondants recognize the United States as the greatest threat to peace in the world. This is 5 times higher than those who regard North Korea and Iran as threats, much less Venezuela which does not even register. When Trump gave his UN speech he should have said that the United States, controlled as it is by the CIA and military/security complex, is the great threat that the entire world faces, including Americans.  

But Trump has betrayed us. He accepted the aggressive militarist neoconservative line that the military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned us, to no avail, in 1961, 56 years ago, is the hegemonic police power chosen by History to protect the peace of the world.

It must reassure the 7 or 8 countries bombed into the stone age by Washington’s might that their destruction is “protecting the peace of the world.”

Featured image is from Strategic Culture Foundation.

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The Dangerous Decline of U.S. Hegemony

September 23rd, 2017 by Daniel Lazare

The showdown with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a seminal event that can only end in one of two ways: a nuclear exchange or a reconfiguration of the international order.

While complacency is always unwarranted, the first seems increasingly unlikely. As no less a global strategist than Steven Bannon observed about the possibility of a pre-emptive U.S. strike:

“There’s no military solution. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no military solution here. They got us.”

This doesn’t mean that Donald Trump, Bannon’s ex-boss, couldn’t still do something rash. After all, this is a man who prides himself on being unpredictable in business negotiations, as historian William R. Polk, who worked for the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis, points out. So maybe Trump thinks it would be a swell idea to go a bit nuts on the DPRK.

But this is one of the good things about having a Deep State, the existence of which has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt since the intelligence community declared war on Trump last November. While it prevents Trump from reaching a reasonable modus vivendi with Russia, it also means that the President is continually surrounded by generals, spooks, and other professionals who know the difference between real estate and nuclear war.

As ideologically fogbound as they may be, they can presumably be counted on to make sure that Trump does not plunge the world into Armageddon (named, by the way, for a Bronze Age city about 20 miles southeast of Haifa, Israel).

That leaves option number two: reconfiguration. The two people who know best about the subject are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both have been chafing for years under a new world order in which one nation gets to serve as judge, jury, and high executioner. This, of course, is the United States.

If the U.S. says that Moscow’s activities in the eastern Ukraine are illegitimate, then, as the world’s sole remaining “hyperpower,” it will see to it that Russia suffers accordingly. If China demands more of a say in Central Asia or the western Pacific, then right-thinking folks the world over will shake their heads sadly and accuse it of undermining international democracy, which is always synonymous with U.S. foreign policy.

There is no one – no institution – that Russia or China can appeal to in such circumstances because the U.S. is also in charge of the appellate division. It is the “indispensable nation” in the immortal words of Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, because “we stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.” Given such amazing brilliance, how can any other country possibly object?

Challenging the Rule-Maker

But now that a small and beleaguered state on the Korean peninsula is outmaneuvering the United States and forcing it to back off, the U.S. no longer seems so far-sighted. If North Korea really has checkmated the U.S., as Bannon says, then other states will want to do the same. The American hegemon will be revealed as an overweight 71-year-old man naked except for his bouffant hairdo.

Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Not that the U.S. hasn’t suffered setbacks before. To the contrary, it was forced to accept the Castro regime following the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and it suffered a massive defeat in Vietnam in 1975. But this time is different. Where both East and West were expected to parry and thrust during the Cold War, giving as good as they got, the U.S., as the global hegemon, must now do everything in its power to preserve its aura of invincibility.

Since 1989, this has meant knocking over a string of “bad guys” who had the bad luck to get in its way. First to go was Manuel Noriega, toppled six weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall in an invasion that cost the lives of as many as 500 Panamanian soldiers and possibly thousands of civilians as well.

Next to go was Mullah Omar of Afghanistan, sent packing in October 2001, followed by Slobodan Milosevic, hauled before an international tribunal in 2002; Saddam Hussein, executed in 2006, and Muammar Gaddafi, killed by a mob in 2011. For a while, the world really did seem like “Gunsmoke,” and the U.S. really did seem like Sheriff Matt Dillon.

But then came a few bumps in the road. The Obama administration cheered on a Nazi-spearheaded coup d’état in Kiev in early 2014 only to watch helplessly as Putin, under intense popular pressure, responded by detaching Crimea, which historically had been part of Russia and was home to the strategic Russian naval base at Sevastopol, and bringing it back into Russia.

The U.S. had done something similar six years earlier when it encouraged Kosovo to break away from Serbia. But, in regards to Ukraine, neocons invoked the 1938 Munich betrayal and compared the Crimea case to Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland.

Backed by Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dealt Washington another blow by driving U.S.-backed, pro-Al Qaeda forces out of East Aleppo in December 2016. Predictably, the Huffington Post compared the Syrian offensive to the fascist bombing of Guernica.

Fire and Fury

Finally, beginning in March, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un entered into a game of one-upmanship with Trump, firing ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, test-firing an ICBM that might be capable of hitting California, and then exploding a hydrogen warhead roughly eight times as powerful as the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945.  When Trump vowed to respond “with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” Kim upped the ante by firing a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

As bizarre as Kim’s behavior can be at times, there is method to his madness. As Putin explained during the BRICS summit with Brazil, India, China, and South Africa, the DPRK’s “supreme leader” has seen how America destroyed Libya and Iraq and has therefore concluded that a nuclear delivery system is the only surefire guarantee against U.S. invasion.

“We all remember what happened with Iraq and Saddam Hussein,” he said. “His children were killed, I think his grandson was shot, the whole country was destroyed and Saddam Hussein was hanged….  We all know how this happened and people in North Korea remember well what happened in Iraq….  They will eat grass but will not stop their nuclear program as long as they do not feel safe.”

Since Kim’s actions are ultimately defensive in nature, the logical solution would be for the U.S. to pull back and enter into negotiations. But Trump, desperate to save face, quickly ruled it out. “Talking is not the answer!” he tweeted. Yet the result of such bluster is only to make America seem more helpless than ever.

Although The New York Times wrote that U.S. pressure to cut off North Korean oil supplies has put China “in a tight spot,” this was nothing more than whistling past the graveyard. There is no reason to think that Xi is the least bit uncomfortable. To the contrary, he is no doubt enjoying himself immensely as he watches America paint itself into yet another corner.

The U.S. Corner 

If Trump backs down at this point, the U.S. standing in the region will suffer while China’s will be correspondingly enhanced. On the other hand, if Trump does something rash, it will be a golden opportunity for Beijing, Moscow, or both to step in as peacemakers. Japan and South Korea will have no choice but to recognize that there are now three arbiters in the region instead of just one while other countries – the Philippines, Indonesia, and maybe even Australia and New Zealand – will have to follow suit.

Unipolarity will slink off to the sidelines while multilateralism takes center stage. Given that U.S. share of global GDP has fallen by better than 20 percent since 1989, a retreat is inevitable. America has tried to compensate by making maximum use of its military and political advantages. That would be a losing proposition even if it had the most brilliant leadership in the world. Yet it doesn’t. Instead, it has a President who is an international laughingstock, a dysfunctional Congress, and a foreign-policy establishment lost in a neocon dream world. As a consequence, retreat is turning into a disorderly rout.

Assuming a mushroom cloud doesn’t go up over Los Angeles, the world is going to be a very different place coming out of the Korean crisis than when it went in. Of course, if a mushroom cloud does go up, it will be even more so.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).  

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US President Donald Trump’s fascistic tirade at the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, in which he declared Washington “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy North Korea,” shocked and horrified people around the world yesterday.

The North Korean regime’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) warned that it might now attack US targets if it detects that US forces are preparing to destroy it. The KCNA said Pyongyang would prepare a “resolute and pre-emptive strike if they show any slight sign of provocation. In case the US opts for confrontation and war at last… it will meet horrible nuclear strike and miserable and final ruin.”

As UN officials and the world’s other major powers react to Trump’s speech, it is ever clearer that the ruling elite internationally is politically bankrupt, in a state of perplexity, terror and denial in the face of the danger that Washington will launch or provoke a nuclear war. None of them have any way to stop military escalation by the imperialist hegemon at the center of the world capitalist system. They are silent on the barbaric nature of Trump’s remarks and the danger of a nuclear war that could destroy humanity.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, where Trump had delivered his genocidal threats against the North Korean people the day before, dozens of countries signed a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Brazilian President Michel Temer was the first head of state to sign the treaty. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hailed it as “an important step toward the universally held goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.”

In fact, the treaty was an elaborate and impotent charade. It was boycotted by the United States, Britain, and France, all of which have nuclear weapons. Since each of these powers can veto adoption of the treaty at the UN Security Council, the treaty is dead on arrival. The NATO alliance also issued a statement that was silent on Trump’s threats against North Korea, but denounced the treaty, saying it “disregards the realities of the increasingly challenging security environment.”

In one of the few comments addressing the scope of the war that is being prepared, China’s state-run Global Times warned that the initial US attack on North Korea could claim hundreds of millions of lives in densely-populated areas of Northeast Asia. However, it said nothing on what would occur after the initial US strike, and sought to soften its criticisms of Trump by dividing the blame equally between Trump and North Korea.

It wrote,

“‘Totally destroying North Korea’ would bring an unbearable ecological disaster to Northeast Asia. Northeast China, the Shandong peninsula and South Korea would all be engulfed by nuclear fallout. Thus the US president, instead of boasting of military strength, should try to avoid such a war… If a nuclear war broke out, that would be a crime against Chinese and South Koreans by Pyongyang and Washington.”

While the Global Times did not say how the Chinese regime might respond to such an attack, it is well known that its nuclear missiles can reach the entire continental United States. As China and Russia hold a joint naval exercise between Vladivostok and the Sea of Okhotsk, north of the Korean Peninsula, it is clear that Beijing and Moscow are preparing retaliatory action that could rapidly spiral into a global war with US forces in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and throughout the world.

Russia is currently carrying out its Zapad military exercise, and yesterday the TASS news agency reported that Russian forces had successfully tested RS-24 strategic nuclear missiles, which hit their targets in Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.

Trump’s threats have also exposed the deep rift between the United States and the European powers, particularly Germany and France. Without addressing or condemning Trump’s threat of a genocidal attack on North Korea, European officials and media made clear that they are moving into overt opposition to US foreign policy across a range of issues and military conflicts worldwide.

The French daily Le Monde commented,

“For the rest of the international community, [Trump’s] speech is a terrible challenge. This is particularly the case for Europe, the privileged partner and ally of the United States, now opposed to Washington on numerous issues like the climate, Iran, multilateralism. President Emmanuel Macron’s speech two hours later was a striking contradiction to Trump. The Atlantic alliance is losing its meaning.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that in North Korea,

“only a peaceful, diplomatic solution to this conflict is possible. Anything else would lead to catastrophe, I am deeply convinced of that.” She added that she would fight “with all my strength” for a peaceful solution.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel blandly called Trump’s genocidal threats “inappropriate,” adding:

“Such warlike rhetoric does not get us a single step further.”

French President Emmanuel Macron had already spoken at the UN just after Trump’s speech, which Macron pointedly did not attend. He said that France “will oppose any escalation” in Korea, as well as against other regimes around the world threatened by Trump. Macron said a unilateral attempt to scupper the 2015 Iranian nuclear treaty, as Trump is threatening, would be “irresponsible” and added that he had warned Tehran and Washington that a “deadly spiral” into war was possible.

There is little doubt that the European governments will respond to the growing threat of war by accelerating their multi-billion-euro defense spending increases, led by Germany and its now three-year-old campaign to re-militarize its foreign policy.

Like Trump’s UN speech itself, the reaction of the European and international powers is the product of a long evolution. In the quarter century since the Stalinist bureaucracy dissolved the Soviet Union, removing the military counterweight to Washington, US imperialism sought to counteract its growing economic weakness by resorting to escalating aggressive war in the Middle East and across the globe. It continued to serve as the financial and military linchpin of world capitalism, however, and a model for the increasingly militaristic and austerity policies of its European rivals.

The lack of any international condemnation of Trump’s threat to murder 25 million North Koreans is a measure of the political degeneration of the ruling class worldwide. They are saying nothing because—after a quarter century in which the European powers and other US allies joined US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or Libya, Syria, and Ukraine—they themselves are prepared to resort to war and horrific levels of violence.

The bankruptcy of the ruling elite underscores that the only force that can oppose the drive to war is the international working class, acting on a socialist and revolutionary program. This points to the significance of Trump’s vitriolic denunciation of socialism in his speech to the UN, which politicians and the media passed over in virtually total silence. The political representatives of a corrupt and super-rich ruling class, well aware that they are on the verge of a horrific nuclear conflagration, fear that a war crisis could provoke a rapid political shift in the population and the complete discrediting of world capitalism.

Instead, the European powers as well as China and Russia are moving into ever sharper diplomatic and strategic conflict with the United States. At the UN Security Council yesterday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested OSCE monitors be dispatched to the disputed Russophone Donbass region, where Kiev has faced opposition from Russian-backed militias since the 2014 NATO-backed coup in Ukraine.

There are continuing calls in Washington to arm the Ukrainian regime against Moscow—a policy which pushed Germany and France to warn of the danger of “total war” with Russia and conclude a separate peace deal with Ukraine and Russia in 2015 in Minsk. Yesterday, Macron announced that France would seek a new meeting with Germany, Russia and Ukraine to “continue, in the context of the Minsk accords, the de-escalation of violence and reforms in Ukraine.”


“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph UniversityWWIII Scenario

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

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SECRET declassified report by then-CIA Director William Casey, titled, “Unauthorized Disclosures to the Media” proposed creating legislation that would make possession of classified information a criminal offense.

At the time that would make anyone reading a New York Times article with classified information, or WikiLeaks in the modern-era, criminally liable and able to be prosecuted by the state.

.

Although Casey was in favor of creating new legislation to specifically target media leaks, as well as those who come to possess those leaks (journalists or readers), he argued against utilization of the Espionage Act to prosecute leakers.

The former CIA Director reasoned that using the Espionage Act to target leakers was extreme, excessive and was akin to “driving tacks with a sledgehammer.”

While Casey acknowledged that the media was conflicted in their obligations, he conceded that it’s the job of the media to inform the public.

Ironically, despite his admission that the job of a journalist is to inform the public, he goes on to espouse a desire to see the media prosecuted for their role in publishing leaks and held in contempt if they failed to name their sources.

Ironically, as Muckrock points out, far from minimizing the potential harm of national security leaks, Casey emphasized the damage that they could do. However, none of the five examples provided by Casey in his report resulted in any actual harm. Two examples “could have” resulted in adversary adjusting their techniques, though the language implies that hadn’t happened.

A third and fourth example resulted in potential damage which forced the Agency to cut off contact with a human source lest that danger be amplified. While endangering human sources is never a good thing and disrupting HUMINT operations was unlikely to have been the intention, the report again indicates that no actual harm came to anyone. A fifth example placed someone in danger of being discovered, again a possibility which hadn’t come to pass, though it “could possibly have an adverse effect on U.S. relations” with an unknown group.

Ideally, as Muckrock notes, Casey felt that the new law should not require they demonstrate that a leak caused any actual damage to the United States. Instead, the question should be whether or not the information was passed to someone not authorized to receive it.

Although he expressed that the Espionage Act was the wrong way to go about doing so in the report, only a few months later the government successfully prosecuted Samuel Morison – setting a new precedent for decades to come.

Since then, the draconian Espionage Act has been used to target whistleblowers and leakers alike — with Obama using it to prosecute and imprison a record number of journalists’ sources — and even threaten media publishers.

The declassified report gives a clear insight into the mind of a high-level government official, in terms of how free of a press they really would really like to see in the United States.

While it was admirable that then-CIA Director Casey made clear that the Espionage Act was overkill for leakers, the idea that he wanted to create legislation for the government to have the ability to prosecute journalists for informing the American public about the extrajudicial actions of their own government – and which could likely also be used to criminalize the public – seems extremely antithetical to the First Amendment and the entire notion of a free press.

For those that don’t remember, CNN also said the same thing—that reading WikiLeaks is illegaland this was just last year.

View full document on Scribd HERE.

Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay’s writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media – and has been viewed tens of millions of times. You can follow him on Twitter @SirMetropolis and on Facebook at SirMetropolis. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

All images in this article are from the author.

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un has offered a rare personal statement in the aftermath of the US President’s remarks at the United Nations General Assembly which threatened the destruction of North Korea. Additionally, Donald Trump referred to the man North Koreans call the Great Marshall as “Rocket Man”, in an apparent reference to a song by the musician Elton John.

Kim Jong-Un’s personal reply is reproduced below in its entirety:

The speech made by the US president in his maiden address on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.

Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereotyped, prepared remarks a little from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s biggest official diplomatic stage.

A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behaviour of the US president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats and regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.

His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.

After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.

His remarks which described the US option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.

Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the US pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.

This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump.

I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue.

Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.

Featured image is from the author.

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Claire Robinson reports that internal Monsanto documents released by attorneys leading US cancer litigation show that Monsanto attempted to suppress a study showing adverse effects of Roundup herbicide. The full report may be read here.

She writes:

“The study, led by Prof GE Séralini, showed that very low doses of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide had toxic effects on rats over a long-term period, including serious liver and kidney damage. Additional observations of increased tumour rates in treated rats would need to be confirmed in a larger-scale carcinogenicity study”.

The New York Times has published some of the emails mentioned by Claire. In the documents released by the American law firm, Monsanto scientist David Saltmiras admitted orchestrating a “third party expert” campaign in which scientists who were apparently independent of Monsanto would bombard the editor-in-chief of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), A. Wallace Hayes, with letters demanding that he retract the study. In one document, Saltmiras reviews his own achievements within the company, successfully facilitating numerous third party expert letters to the editor which were subsequently published, alleging numerous significant deficiencies, poor study design, biased reporting and selective statistics employed by Séralini. Another Monsanto employee, Eric Sachs, writes in an email about his efforts to galvanize scientists in the letter-writing campaign.

Sachs refers to Bruce Chassy, a scientist who runs the pro-GMO Academics Review website (and has ‘form’).

Sachs writes:

“I talked to Bruce Chassy and he will send his letter to Wally Hayes directly and notify other scientists that have sent letters to do the same. He understands the urgency… I remain adamant that Monsanto must not be put in the position of providing the critical analysis that leads the editors to retract the paper.”

Chassy was the first signatory of a petition demanding the retraction of the Séralini study and the co-author of a Forbes article accusing Séralini of fraud. In neither document does Chassy declare any link with Monsanto. But in 2016 he was reported to have taken over $57,000 over less than two years from Monsanto to travel, write and speak about GMOs.

The disclosed documents show that the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology, A. Wallace Hayes, entered into a consulting agreement with Monsanto in the period just before Hayes’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini study.

Clearly there was a conflict of interest between Hayes’ role as a consultant for Monsanto and his role as editor for a journal that retracted a study determining that glyphosate has toxic effects. The study was published on 19 September 2012; the consulting agreement between Hayes and Monsanto was dated 21 August 2012 and Hayes is contracted to provide his services beginning 7 September 2012.

A Monsanto internal email confirms the company’s intimate relationship with Hayes. Saltmiras writes about the recently published Séralini study:

“Wally Hayes, now FCT Editor in Chief for Vision and Strategy, sent me a courtesy email early this morning. Hopefully the two of us will have a follow up discussion soon to touch on whether FCT Vision and Strategy were front and center for this one passing through the peer review process.”

Monsanto got its way, though the paper was subsequently republished by another journal with higher principles – and, presumably, with an editorial board that wasn’t under contract with Monsanto.

Some regulatory bodies have backed Monsanto rather than the public interest. In fact, the EU is considering dispensing with the short 90-day animal feeding studies currently required under European GMO legislation.

Now that Monsanto’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini paper is out in the open, FCT and Hayes should issue a formal apology to Prof Séralini and his team. FCT cannot and should not reinstate the paper because it has been published by another journal. But it needs to draw a line under this episode, admit that it handled it badly, and declare its support for scientific independence and objectivity.

Featured image is from Chemical Concern.

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The Worst Mistake in US History

September 22nd, 2017 by Jacob G. Hornberger

Featured image: U.S. Army (USA) M1A1 Abrams MBT (Main Battle Tank), and personnel from A Company (CO), Task Force 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment (1-35 Armor), 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 1st Armored Division (AD), pose for a photo under the “Hands of Victory” in Ceremony Square, Baghdad, Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The worst mistake in U.S. history was the conversion after World War II of the U.S. government from a constitutional, limited-government republic to a national-security state. Nothing has done more to warp and distort the conscience, principles, and values of the American people, including those who serve in the U.S. military.

A good example of how the national-security state has adversely affected the thinking of U.S. soldiers was reflected in an op-ed entitled “What We’re Fighting For” that appeared in the February 10, 2017, issue of the New York Times. Authored by an Iraq War veteran named Phil Klay, the article demonstrates perfectly what the national-security state has done to soldiers and others and why it is so imperative for the American people to restore a constitutional republic to our land.

Klay begins his op-ed by extolling the exploits of another U.S. Marine, First Lt. Brian Chontosh, who, displaying great bravery, succeeded in killing approximately two dozen Iraqis in a fierce firefight during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Klay writes,

When I was a new Marine, just entering the Corps, this story from the Iraq invasion defined heroism for me. It’s a perfect image of war for inspiring new officer candidates, right in line with youthful notions of what war is and what kind of courage it takes — physical courage, full stop.

Klay then proceeds to tell a story about an event he witnessed when he was deployed to Iraq in 2007. After doctors failed to save the life of a Marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper, those same doctors proceeded to treat and save the life of the sniper, who himself had been shot by U.S. troops. Klay used the story to point out the virtuous manner in which U.S. forces carried out their military mission in Iraq.

Well, except perhaps, Klay observes, for Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison in which Saddam Hussein’s government had tortured and abused countless Iraqis and which the U.S. military turned into its own torture and abuse center for Iraqis captured during the 2003 U.S. invasion of the country. Klay tells the story of a defense contractor named Eric Fair, who tortured an Iraqi prisoner into divulging information about a car-bomb factory. Encouraged by that successful use of torture, Fair proceeded to employ it against many other Iraqis, none of whom had any incriminating evidence to provide.

Klay points out that both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were major turning points in the Iraq War because prisoner abuse at both camps became a driving force for Iraqis to join the insurgency in Iraq. Thus, while Fair may have saved lives through his successful use of torture, he and other U.S. personnel who tortured and abused people at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay may well have cost the lives of many more U.S. soldiers in the long term.

Klay, however, suggests that none of that was really Fair’s fault. While he might have crossed some moral lines, everything he did, Klay suggests, was in accordance with legal rules and regulations. Klay writes,

And Eric did what our nation asked of him, used techniques that were vetted and approved and passed down to intelligence operatives and contractors like himself. Lawyers at the highest levels of government had been consulted, asked to bring us to the furthest edge of what the law might allow. To do what it takes, regardless of whether such actions will secure the “attachment of all good men,” or live up to that oath we swear to support and defend the Constitution.

Klay refers to the oath that U.S. soldiers take to support and defend the Constitution. Clearly patting himself and other members of the U.S. military on the back, he says U.S. soldiers fight with honor to defend a “set of principles” that are reflected in the Constitution and that define America.

It would be difficult to find a better example of a life of the lie than that of Phil Klay. He provides an absolutely perfect demonstration of what a national-security state does to soldiers’ minds and why the Founding Fathers were so opposed to that type of governmental structure.

The rights of invaders

Notice one big omission from Klay’s self-aggrandizing article: Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Instead, it was the U.S government, operating through its troops, that was the aggressor nation in the Iraq War. Wars of aggression — i.e., attacking, invading, and occupying other countries — were among the crimes of which the defendants at Nuremburg were convicted.

It is absolutely fascinating that that critically important point seems to escape Klay so completely. It’s as if it just doesn’t exist or just doesn’t count. His mindset simply begins with the fact that U.S. troops are engaged in war and then it proceeds from there to focus on the courage and humanity of the troops, how their bravery in battle inspired him, and how they treated the enemy humanely. It never occurs to him to ask the vital question: Did U.S. troops have any legal or moral right to be in Iraq and to kill anyone there, including Iraqi soldiers, insurgents, civilians, and civil servants working for the Iraqi government?

Many years ago, I posed a question about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq to a libertarian friend of mine who was a Catholic priest. I asked him, If a U.S. soldier is placed in Iraq in a kill-or-be-killed situation, does he have a right to fire back at an Iraqi who is shooting at him?

My friend’s answer was unequivocal: Absolutely not, he responded. Since he has no legitimate right to be in Iraq, given that he is part of the aggressor force that initiated the war, under God’s laws he cannot kill anyone, not even by convincing himself that he is only acting in “self-defense.”

I responded,

“Are you saying that his only choice is to run away or permit himself to be killed”? He responded, “That is precisely what I am saying. Under the laws of God, he cannot kill anyone in Iraq because he has no right to be there.”

Suppose a burglar enters a person’s home in the dead of night. The homeowner wakes up, discovers the intruder, and begins firing at him. The burglar fires back and kills the homeowner.

The burglar appears in court and explains that he never had any intention of killing the homeowner and that he was simply firing back in self-defense. He might even explain to the judge how bravely he reacted under fire and detail the clever manner in which he outmaneuvered and shot the homeowner.

The judge, however, would reject any claim of self-defense on the part of the burglar. Why? Because the burglar had no right to be in the homeowner’s house. Like the U.S. soldier in Iraq, when the homeowner began firing the burglar had only two legal and moral options: run away or be killed.

That’s what my Catholic priest friend was pointing out about U.S. soldiers in Iraq. They had no right to be there. They invaded a poor, Third World country whose government had never attacked the United States and they were killing, torturing, and abusing people whom they had no right to kill, torture, or abuse.

That’s what Klay as well as most other members of the U.S. military and, for that matter, many Americans still don’t get: that the Iraqi people were the ones who wielded the right of self-defense against an illegal invasion by a foreign power and that U.S. forces, as the aggressor power in the war, had no legal or moral right to kill any Iraqi, not even in “self-defense.”

Klay waxes eloquent about the U.S. Constitution and the oath that soldiers take to support and defend it, but it’s really just another perfect demonstration of the life of the lie that he and so many other U.S. soldiers live. The reality is that when U.S. soldiers vow to support and defend the Constitution, as a practical matter they are vowing to loyally obey the orders and commands of the president, who is their military commander in chief.

There is no better example of this phenomenon than what happened in Iraq. The U.S. Constitution is clear: The president is prohibited from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. No declaration, no war. Every U.S. soldier ordered to invade Iraq knew that or should have known that.

Everyone, including the troops, also knew that Congress had not declared war on Iraq. Yet, not a single soldier supported or defended the Constitution by refusing George Bush’s order to attack and invade Iraq. Every one of them loyally obeyed his order to attack and invade, knowing full well that it would mean killing people in Iraq — killing people who had never attacked the United States. And they all convinced themselves that by following the president’s orders to invade Iraq and kill Iraqis, they were supporting and defending the Constitution.

George W. Bush addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on 12 September 2002 to outline the complaints of the United States government against the Iraqi government. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How do U.S. soldiers reconcile that? They convince themselves that they are supporting and defending the Constitution by obeying the orders of the president, who has been democratically elected by the citizenry. It’s not their job, they tell themselves, to determine what is constitutional and what isn’t. Their job, they believe, is simply to do what the president, operating through his subordinates, orders them to do. In their minds, they are supporting and defending the Constitution whenever they loyally and obediently carry out the orders of the president.

That means, then, that the standing army is nothing more than the president’s private army. As a practical matter, soldiers are going to do whatever they are ordered to do. If they don’t, they are quickly shot or simply replaced, which provides a good incentive for others to do as they are told. That’s why soldiers invaded Iraq, which had never attacked the United States, and killed people who were defending their country against an unlawful invasion. That’s also why soldiers and defense contractors tortured and abused people at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere. They all believed they were carrying out the orders of their superiors, from the president on down, and that they were supporting and defending the Constitution in the process.

As people throughout history have learned, that is also why a standing army constitutes such a grave threat to the freedom and well-being of the citizenry. It is the means by which a tyrant imposes and enforces his will on the citizenry. Just ask the people of Chile, where the troops of a military regime installed into power by the U.S. national-security establishment rounded up tens of thousands of innocent people and incarcerated, tortured, raped, abused, or executed them, all without due process of law and with the support of the U.S. government.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I read that some Catholic soldiers were deeply troubled by the prospect of killing people in a war that the U.S. government was initiating. I was stunned to read that a U.S. military chaplain told them that they had the right under God’s laws to obey the president’s order to invade Iraq and kill Iraqis. God would not hold it against them, he said, if they killed people in the process of following orders.

Really? Are God’s laws really nullified by the orders of a government’s military commander? If that were the case, don’t you think God’s commandment would have read:

“Thou shalt not kill, unless your ruler orders you to do so in a war of aggression against another nation”?

To this day, there are those who claim that George W. Bush simply made an honest mistake in claiming that Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s dictator, was maintaining weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that U.S. soldiers were justified in trusting him by loyally obeying his orders to invade and occupy Iraq to “disarm Saddam.”

They ignore three important points: it was a distinct possibility that Bush and his people were simply lying. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a president had lied in order to garner support for a war. Lyndon Johnson’s lies regarding a supposed North Vietnamese attack on U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam come to mind. Two, Bush didn’t secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, most likely because he knew that congressional hearings on the issue would expose his WMD scare for the lie it was. And three, only the UN, not the U.S. government, was entitled to enforce its resolutions regarding Iraq’s WMDs.

Moreover, the circumstantial evidence establishes that Bush was lying and that the WMD scare was entirely bogus. Many people forget that throughout the 1990s the U.S. government was hell-bent on regime change in Iraq. That’s what the brutal sanctions were all about, which contributed to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children. When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright was asked on Sixty Minutes whether the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it,” she responded that such deaths were “worth it.” By “it,” she was referring to regime change.

That desire for regime change in Iraq grew with each passing year in the 1990s, both among liberals and conservatives. Demands were ever growing to get rid of Saddam. Therefore, when Bush started coming up with his WMD scare after the 9/11 attacks, everyone should have been wary because it had all the earmarks of an excuse to invade Iraq after more than 10 years of sanctions had failed to achieve the job.

The best circumstantial evidence that Bush lied about the WMD scare appeared after it was determined that there were no WMDs in Iraq. At that point, if Bush had been telling the truth, he could have said,

“I’m very sorry. I have made a grave mistake and my army has killed multitudes of people as a consequence of my mistake. I am hereby ordering all U.S. troops home and I hereby announce my resignation as president.”

Bush didn’t do that. In fact, he expressed not one iota of remorse or regret over the loss of life for what supposedly had been the result of a mistake. He knew that he had achieved what the U.S. national-security state had been trying to achieve for more than a decade with its brutal sanctions — regime change in Iraq — and he had used the bogus WMD scare to garner support for his invasion. And significantly, the troops were kept occupying Iraq for several more years, during which they killed more tens of thousands of Iraqis.

One thing is for sure: By the time Phil Klay arrived in Iraq in 2007, he knew full well that there had been no WMDs in Iraq. He also knew that Iraq had never attacked the United States. By that time, he knew full well that the U.S. government had invaded a country under false or, at the very least, mistaken pretenses. He knew there had been no congressional declaration of war. He knew that there was no legal or moral foundation for a military occupation that was continuing to kill people in an impoverished Third World country whose worst “crime” was simply trying to rid their country of an illegal occupier.

Yet, reinforced by people who were thanking them for “their service in Iraq,” Klay, like other U.S. troops, convinced himself that their “service” in Iraq was a grand and glorious sacrifice for his nation, that they were defending Americans’ rights and freedoms, and that they were keeping us safe. It was a classic life of the lie because our nation, our rights and freedoms, and our safety were never threatened by anyone in Iraq, including the millions of Iraqis who were killed, maimed, injured, tortured, abused, or exiled, or whose homes, businesses, or infrastructure were destroyed by bombs, missiles, bullets, and tanks.

A squad leader with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (15th MEU (SOC)), moves his Marines to their objective during a mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In fact, the entity that actually threatened the rights and freedoms of the American people was the U.S. government, given the totalitarian-like powers that it assumed as part of its effort to keep us safe from the enemies its interventionist policies were producing. Coming to mind are the totalitarian-like power to assassinate Americans, secret mass surveillance, and the incarceration and torture of American citizens as suspected terrorists — all without due process of law and without trial by jury.

This is what a national-security state does to people — it warps, damages, or destroys their conscience, principles, and values; induces them to subscribe to false bromides; and nurtures all sorts of mental contortions to enable people to avoid confronting reality.

Many years after Brian Chontosh’s exploits in Iraq, Phil Klay was surprised to learn that Chontosh was experiencing some ambivalence about what he had done.

“It’s ugly, it’s violent, it’s disgusting. I wish it wasn’t part of what we had to do,” Chontosh later wrote.

Perhaps that’s because conscience was beginning to stir within him. That’s a good sign. Maybe it will begin to stir in Phil Klay too. And other members of the military as well.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.

This article was originally published in the June 2017 edition of Future of Freedom.

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It is no secret that the American government has been supporting terrorist groups during the entire Syrian conflict. One of these days, another fact proving this statement was recorded.

On September 20, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) militants with their allies launched an offensive on the Syrian Arab Army positions, north-east of Hama city, The National reported.

Most likely, the attack of the militants was orchestrated by the U.S. intelligence, which had provided them with the information on the locations and the military strength in the region.

It is also reported that the militants’ main objective  was the units of the Russian military police, which had been deployed to control ceasefire regime in the fourth de-escalation zone. It should be reminded that the parameters and borders of this zone were established on September 15, during the sixth round of Syrian talks in Astana.

It’s worth noting that the attack was unsuccessful, as the Syrian army units backed by Mauli tribes managed to react in due time and began a counter offensive. As a result, the terrorists suffered heavy losses and had to retreat.

Apparently, the United States does not want the Syrian army to completely liberate Deir Ezzor, and makes every effort to prevent it from achieving its goal. There are two possible reasons for that.

First, after the liberation of Deir Ezzor, which is located not far from the Iraqi border, the Syrian troops will be able to unite with the Iraqi forces and establish control on the border. At the same time, Washington cannot permit full-fledged cooperation between the armies of Syria and Iraq, otherwise the remaining ISIS units in this region will be destroyed much faster than the U.S. plans.

Second, Deir Ezzor is a strategic region rich in gas and oil, and Washington has its own interests in it.

For the past several days, the United States has been involved in the attacks on the Syrian army positions. According to Fars News, the Syrian troops were twice shelled by mortars and artillery units from the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. There the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the U.S. Special Forces are deployed.

There are reports that the international coalition and SDF have temporarily suspended the liberation of Raqqa and regrouped its troops to the northern part of Deir Ezzor province.

So, the world community has once again ensured that the White House doesn’t want peace and stability in Syria. In addition, Washington tries to change the tide of the game, which often is not in their favor.

Featured image is from Inside Syria Media Center.

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America’s Military Footprint Lands in Israel

September 22nd, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Featured image: Israel Air Force Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the IDF’s air defense commander, left, with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Gronski at the ground-breaking ceremony for the new permanent U.S. Army base in Israel. (Israel Defense Forces)

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

America’s military footprint extends worldwide, a global empire of bases, countless numbers, well over a thousand, many not publicly revealed.

The late Chalmers Johnson earlier said

“(o)nce upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies.”

“America’s version of the colony is the military base; and by following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever more all-encompassing imperial footprint and the militarism that grows with it, (far) more than in past empires.”

“A well-entrenched militarism (lies) at the heart of our imperial adventures. Each year, (Washington) spends more on our armed forces than all others nations on earth combined (to garrison troops” in more than two-thirds of countries worldwide – Israel the latest.

During WW II, Orwell said it’s “difficult to go anywhere in London without having the feeling that Britain is now occupied (US) territory.”

The same holds today for scores of countries. And with occupation comes unacceptable noise, pollution, environmental destruction, expropriation of valuable public and private land, along with drunken, disorderly, and abusive soldiers, committing rape, murder and crimes most often unaccountably because of US-imposed Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) – license for America to do what it pleases, ignoring laws of host nations.

Bases are positioned to wage wars anywhere with forces near targeted countries. Wherever they go, their presence is intrusive, hostile, and detrimental to local populations.

For the first time, the Pentagon established a permanent military base in Israel, located at the Mashabim air base in the Negev desert.

On Monday, Israeli General Tzvika Haimovitch announced it, saying it demonstrates “years-old alliance between the United States and the State of Israel.”

It’s a “base within a base,” run by the US military’s European Command (EUCOM) for small numbers of US forces, unrelated to defense, solely for regional offense if ordered.

The region’s main problem is US and Israeli imperial aims. Neither country is threatened by anyone. They threaten everyone regionally and worldwide.

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

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

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

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

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Brexiting Hard: Boris Johnson Goes to War

September 22nd, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The Times was none too pleased, riled and concerned. Contributors to The Spectator were wondering whether an imminent implosion was about to take place.  Who would profit from this act of suicide, this ritual of Tory party cannibalism? The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, naturally. The Tories, Britain’s drivers of Brexit, have gone from trouble to potential disaster.

It all came down the antics of Buffoonish Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary who rendered himself a talismanic figure during the Brexit referendum campaign, the figure whom Prime Minister Theresa May felt best secure from in sending him to far-flung places. Over time, the talisman has become an un-improvised explosion device, poorly assembled but nonetheless devastating. At any moment, he might just blow up, leaving a crippling residue.    

Rumours had begun circulating this week that Johnson was set for the cabinet chop. In a lengthy note in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson was returning to soil long tilled over by the Leave debate. Even grounds now considered inaccurate if not plainly misleading by those who participated in the campaign to leave the EU, were revisited with unremitting enthusiasm.

It was this very meditation that had peeved establishment Tories.

“I don’t know where this is coming from, honestly. It feels to me like an attempt to keep the great snoreathon story about my article running.”[1]

Tory grandee Ken Clarke was in little doubt what the foreign secretary was up to: soiling the prime minister’s stable.

“Sounding off personally in this way is totally unhelpful and he shouldn’t exploit the fact that [Theresa May] hasn’t got a majority in parliament.”

Had May received a stonking majority in what turned out to be a withering election, he would have been surely sacked for such conduct.

Interest centred on Johnson’s cavalier approach to the claim, made before and most recently in the Daily Telegraph, that £350 million a week was being paid in dues to the European Union, and that it was an amount that would be duly clawed back once Britannia had made her brave, disentangling escape. 

“Once we have settled out accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350m a week.” 

It was a figure he has defended with iconoclastic conviction and a degree of enthusiasm verging on mania. Never mind the inconsistencies and the balanced losses, the EU subsidies and services supplied in return for dues. Britain, bold, hamstrung Britain, had to out, to fight this imposition.

Once freed from these clutches, Britain would be able to relocate the funding to, for instance, the National Health Service (NHS), the very system Tories was sworn to eliminate at various stages since its inception. (The NHS already suffers at the hands of the privatisation ideologues.)

“It would be fine thing,” suggested Johnson, “as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS, provided we use that cash injection to modernise and make most of the new technology.”

The core of his argument was his own pitch for a Hard Brexit. Rather than fearing the behaviour of EU apparatchiks, it was important for Britain not to pay anything to the EU for access post-Brexit. To remain within, even if only financially, would constitute a betrayal. As would a transitional period after 2019 that would involve the government softening its exit with ongoing EU payments for market benefits. Prime Minister May had been warned.

Statistics Chief Sir David Norgrove deemed Johnson’s play with figures a “clear misuse of official statistics”.[2]  It was a classic statement of British understatement.

“I am surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to repeat the £350m per week, in connection with the amount that might be available for extra public spending when we leave the European Union.” 

It conveyed a fundamental confusion, refusing to admit to the difference between gross contributions and net.  Johnson’s response was to accuse Norgrove, in turn, of a “willful distortion of the text of my article”.

This has been an ongoing problem of Johnson and his Leave comrades, a certain injudicious use of statistics. In April 2016, Norgrove’s predecessor as chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Andrew Dilnot, noted that the figure cited by those in the Leave campaign appeared “to relate to the UK’s gross contributions to the EU, before the applications of the UK’s rebate.”[3] As he concluded in a letter to Norman Lamb, MP,

“Without further explanation I consider these statements to be potentially misleading.”

As, indeed, it proved to be.

That was not all – Johnson was keen to insist that the aggrieved young, those who felt that Britain had profited from being involved in the union, were suffering a case of split loyalties. The zealous Europeanist Guy Verhofstadt could be counted on picking up on this criticism.

“Some British politicians – not to name Boris Johnson – criticise their countrymen and women for wanting to keep their European identity.” This sort of approach smacked of the archaic, claimed Verhofstadt, a case of “binary, old-fashioned and reductionist understanding”.[4]

For Johnson, these points hardly matter.  After being kept on the cooler, and isolated as a dangerous, rebarbative maverick, he has signaled his wish to be counted again, to make the case that will resonate with those who voted to leave in 2016. Time, it seems, to either turn or spurn the prime minister.

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

Notes

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The situation in Syria is reaching another critical point. There is an increased possibility of a large scale clash between U.S. and Russian forces. We had warned of such a clash over control of the rich fields east of Deir Ezzor. At least three incidents over the last days point to more significant escalations.

  • On the 17th the U.S. accused Russia of a light air attack on its proxy forces north of Deir Ezzor. Russia denied that it had attacked those forces.
  • On the 18th and 19th large contingents of Russian and Syrian troops crossed the Euphrates at Deir Ezzor in east-Syria. The U.S. Kurdish/Arab proxy force in the area actively tried to hinder that movement.
  • In parallel a large al-Qaeda attack was launched in west-Syria. The Russian forces accuse U.S. intelligence services of having initiated that campaign. (The Syrian-Russian forces defeated the attack.)
  • Today the Russian military accused the U.S. Kurdish proxies near Deir Ezzor of firing artillery on its forces. It threatened massive retaliation.

The most dramatic incident was the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb.

Al-Qaeda in Syria, renamed to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, currently controls Idleb governate and Idleb city in north-west Syria. On September 19 it launched a large scale attack on Syrian government positions in north Hama, south of Idleb provinces. The al-Qaeda forces gained significant grounds before being stopped and forced to retreat. Nearly all the heavy weapons, tanks and artillery, that al-Qaeda had in the area were used and in the attack.

The spokesperson of the Russian military said (vid with English subtitles) that, according to Russian intelligence reports, al-Qaeda’s attack was made on behalf of the U.S. to slow down the Syrian-Russian campaign in the eastern province Deir Ezzor. A subtask for the terrorists was to capture a platoon of Russian soldiers. This is, to my knowledge, the first time that Russia made such a direct and extremely grave accusation against the U.S. forces and intelligence services in Syria.

From the Russian military statement:

For 24 hours, insurgents managed to dent the government troops’ defence line for up to 12 kilometers in depth and up to 20 kilometers in front.According to the received data, this offensive was initiated by the US special agencies in order to stop successful advance of the Syrian Arab Army to the east from Deir ez-Zor.

Seizing of a unit of the Russian Military Police was one of the main aims of insurgents. The Russian MP unit was operating in an observation post deployed as de-escalation observation forces.

As a result, the MP platoon (29 persons) was blocked by insurgents.

The encirclement has been breached. Units of the Russian Armed Forces have reached locations of SAA without losses.

After the al-Qaeda attack was launched the Russian air force in Syria initiated a massive counter campaign over Idleb province.

For the last 24 hours, aviation and artillery units have eliminated 187 objects, 850 terrorists, 11 tanks, 4 IFVs, 46 pickups, 5 mortars, 20 trucks, and 38 ammunition storages.Units of the 5th Airborne Assault Corpse launched a counter-attack and almost took [all] lost positions.

Pictures from the area showed several destroyed tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. This was a very costly campaign for al-Qaeda with no significant gain. It seems that Syrian and Russian intelligence were aware that an attack was coming but not of the details. For a while the situation was extremely critical. Then the large aerial counter campaign caught al-Qaeda by surprise and destroyed the attacking forces.

At the same time as the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb started U.S. proxy forces in east-Syria (yellow) took measures to hinder the fight of Syrian forces (red) against the Islamic State (black).

Source: Weekend Warrior

The Syrian government forces are cleared nearly all of Deir Ezzor city of ISIS forces. At stake now is the control of the oil fields east of Deir Ezzor and north of the Euphrates river.

Soon after crossing the Euphrates Syrian troops came under fire from U.S. proxy positions:

“According to the reports that the Syrian commanders have been sending from the frontline, most serious counter-attacks and mass shelling on the Syrian troops come from the north,” he said. “It is the area where units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, as well as the US special operations units, are deployed, who, according to CNN, are providing medical aid to these militants instead of participating in the operation to liberate Raqqa,” [Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor] Konashenkov said.

The U.S. proxies also use their control of the Tabqa dam to hinder the river crossing:

Water discharges from the Euphrates dams controlled by the US-backed opposition hamper the advance of Syrian government troops near Deir ez-Zor, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.”Thus, the water situation on the Euphrates has deteriorated dramatically in the past 24 hours. As soon as the Syrian government troops began to cross the river, water level in the Euphrates rose within hours and the current velocity nearly doubled to two meters per second,” he said.

Today the Russian Defense Ministry accused the U.S. proxy forces of directly shelling its Syrian allies and the Russian forces accompanying them:

Russia warned a representative of the US command in Al Udeid, Qatar, that “any attempts of shelling from the areas where the militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces are based will be immediately curbed.””Firing points in these areas will be immediately suppressed by all means of destruction,” the general said.

Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces approaching Deir ez-Zor from the north are easily joining IS terrorists, and Russian drones and reconnaissance recorded no clash between the IS with a “third force,” namely the SDF over the past week, he explained.

However, massive fire from mortars and rocket artillery was opened twice on the Syrian troops from the areas on the eastern shore of Euphrates where the SDF fighters and servicemen of US special forces are based, Konashenkov said.

The U.S. paid “Syrian Democratic Forces” that pushed into northern Deir Ezzor without meeting any resistance are mostly local tribes who were aligned with the Islamic State until the U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk hired them to fight on the U.S. side. They are led by Kurdish commanders and “advised” by U.S. special forces.

The U.S. wants to keep Syrian government forces away from the oil fields north of the Euphrates. It has plans to build and control a Kurdish proto-state in north-east Syria and control over the eastern Deir Ezzor oil would give such a state the necessary economic base.

But the U.S. has too few proxy forces available to actually take the oil area away from the Islamic State. Only the Syrian army has enough resources in the area. The U.S. is now cheating, attacking Syrian-Russian forces, and rushing to get an advantage. According to the Russians the U.S. Kurdish proxies have even stopped the fight against ISIS in Raqqa and moved forces from that area to take the oil in the east. I doubt that Syria and Russia will allow that to happen without taking measures to counter it.

With the al-Qaeda diversion attack in north-west Syria defeated and more reserves available the Syrian alliance should think about a fast air-assault on the oil fields. As soon as the oil wells are under Syrian government control and the ISIS presence eliminated the U.S. has no more excuse to continue the current deadly game.

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Video: US-backed Forces Push for Syrian Oil

September 22nd, 2017 by South Front

Early on Friday, the Israeli Air Force struck a target in the Damascus International Airport, according to pro-opposition sources and the Israeli media. There are no details about the damage caused by airstrikes. Pro-Israeli sources claim that the Israeli Air Force targeted a part of the airport used for providing supplies to Hezbollah.

At the same time, reports appeared that the Syrian Air Defense Forces downed “hostile aircraft”, most likely an Israeli reconnaissance drone, over the Damascus countryside.

Late on Thursday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by the US-led coalition’s airpower and military advisers, seized Tabiyeh and al-Isba oil and gas fields northeast of Deir Ezzor city, according to pro-Kurdish sources.

With this advance, the SDF at least partly blocked an advance of Syrian government forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. This and future possible SDF successes in seizing oil and gas infrastructure will directly affect the negotiations between the sides after the defeat of ISIS.

In the city of Raqqah, the SDF, supported by coalition aircraft and artillery, killed 63 ISIS fighters and destroyed 3 VBIEDs as well as further advanced inside the ISIS-held area. Pro-SDF sources claim that the ISIS is on the run and the city will be freed soon.

ISIS fighters in the eastern Hama pocket and the Syrian government have reportedly reached a withdrawal agreement. The agreement will allow ISIS members to withdraw to Idlib or Deir Ezzor provinces, according to different sources. The agreement will allow the Syrian military to free additional forces for operations across Syria. On Wednesday, the Syrian government allowed 1,500 civilians and ISIS family members to withdraw to an area controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib.

Turkey will deploy troops in Syria’s Idlib province under as part of a “de-escalation” agreement reached by Ankara, Tehran and Moscow within the Astana format of talks on the Syrian conflict, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters in an interview.

Meanwhile, reports appeared that Turkey deployed more forces additionally to on the border with Syria’s Idlib province. The reinforcements strengthened a grouping of 80 armoured vehicles and 18 MRAPs that had been deployed earlier.

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Trump’s UN Address to Call for Action Against Nonexistent North Korean and Iranian Threats

By Stephen Lendman, September 19, 2017

Trump is hostage to hawkish generals running his administration’s geopolitical agenda. Instead of being a peace and stability leader, he’s the latest in a long line of US warrior presidents – at war in multiple theaters, threatening more conflicts, risking possible nuclear confrontation with North Korea, Russia, and/or China.

Trump’s UN Speech. War for Countries that do not Accept Washington’s Hegemony

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, September 20, 2017

Washington’s plan for UN “reform” is a plan to turn the organization into another instrument of US foreign policy, like NATO and the EU.  The message that Trump was sent to deliver to the UN is that henceforth the UN is expected to support Washington’s foreign policy agenda. Opponents to Washington’s war policy are to be isolated and lumped together with the bad countries as defined by Washington.

Trump at the United Nations.

By Kim Petersen, September 21, 2017

During his speech, Trump railed against rogue regimes, international criminal networks that traffic drugs (Trump wouldn’t be talking about the CIA, a major player in the international drug trade, would he?1), weapons (the US is a major exporter of weapons, illicit or otherwise), and the forced dislocation and mass migration of people (and what is the US but a nation state erected on the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Indigenous nations of Turtle Island?).

Trump’s “Mein Kampf” Tirade at the United Nations

By Bill Van Auken, September 21, 2017

Speaking before a world body ostensibly created to spare humanity the “scourge of war” and founded on the principles elaborated at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, the American president openly embraced a policy of genocide, declaring that he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people.“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.”

President Trump’s Bluster at the United Nations

By Dr. Ludwig Watzal, September 22, 2017

If Trump had just repeated his inauguration address, the audience would have burst out in gales of laughter. Instead, they countered his bluster not only against North Korea and Iran but also against the UN body as a whole with broad silence.

Incoherent President Reassures UN that US Policy Is Insane

By William Boardman, September 22, 2017

Whatever is happening with the American people, Donald Trump represented them at the UN with a 41-minute pastiche of clichés, political pablum, incomprehensible nonsense, and meaningless feel-good rhetoric.


See the Full Transcript of  Trump’s Presentation

Trump at the United Nations: Full Transcript

 

 

 

 

Featured image is from National Review.

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Incoherent President Reassures UN that US Policy Is Insane

September 22nd, 2017 by William Boardman

“If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.” – Minority President Donald Trump, September 19, 2017, addressing the United Nations

With stunningly unintended precision, about a third of the way into his UN speech, President Trump encapsulated the current brutal reality of the United States in late 2017, where the righteous many do not confront the wicked few and evil oozes its slow and merciless triumph through the body politic. Or perhaps the “righteous many” is another myth and the “wicked few” are the true majority. Wherever one looks, the news is not reassuring, whether it’s climate change, civil rights, police state treatment of minorities, rewarding the rich for their wealth, punishing the poor for their poverty, attacking voter rights, or bloating a military that specializes in killing civilians. Trump’s next sentence drove home the crucifying irony of the American moment:

“When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.”

Yes, they do. Yes, we do. We live now in a time of literal perpetual war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and many of the other 100-plus sovereign states that have US boots on the ground. Before 9/11, the US was at war only most of the time, more spectacularly, but with no better results since 1945. This is not good; surely most UN members appreciate that, without having the nerve to say so. They did not applaud when Trump boasted:

We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

$700,000,000,000 is a lot of money, and it doesn’t even include a big chunk for our nuclear arsenal that comes from the Energy Department. $700 billion is more money than anyone else spends on its military. $700 billion is roughly five times what China spends, nine times what Saudi Arabia spends, ten times what Russia spends, eleven times what India, France, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom spend. $700 billion is more than what these countries altogether spend. For Americans, military spending is an addiction that no longer produces a high, only a craving. Like any addiction, it is deeply destructive. And we knew that once, but now we’re junkies deeply in denial of our self-destruction. Endless war and out of control military spending have done much to destroy what we once believed was best about the US. Eisenhower belatedly warned us, but he was far from the first. Back in 1795, when the United States was three years old, James Madison wrote:

Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debt and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

That’s pretty much the way it’s turning out, except there’s a possibility that the many are actually in favor of being dominated by the few. Or they’re intimidated. Or they’re mystified. Whatever is happening with the American people, Donald Trump represented them at the UN with a 41-minute pastiche of clichés, political pablum, incomprehensible nonsense, and meaningless feel-good rhetoric. (All the quotes that follow are from the official White House posting of the speech, reportedly written by 32-year-old hardliner Stephen Miller, a senior advisor for policy.) The speech begins in a curious campaign mode as Trump assures the representatives of 192 other countries that, much to their presumed relief:

The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

This referred to the US suffering from hurricanes. Trump said nothing of the suffering of Caribbean islands from hurricanes, or Bangladesh from flooding, or Mexico from earthquakes, or any other pain and anguish in the world. America first.

Then came a sloppy, unpersuasive best-of-times/worst-of-times passage in which Trump threat-mongered “terrorists and extremists” and then, with presumed unawareness, described the United States of recent decades:

Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

The next sentence was perhaps the best of several instances of impenetrable nonsense:

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

The record includes dozens of wars since 1945, wars that the US promoted or participated in, with millions of casualties. The US has been at war 93% of the time since 1792. The US has been in covert or overt war, or both, or several, pretty much continuously since 1945. Soon after that, Trump launched into hyperbolic fantasy:

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

These are fine sentiments, to be sure, but not what most members of the UN are committed to achieving, and surely not what the Trump administration is about. But the passage was preamble to what struggled to be the thematic thread of the speech, the purported pillars of the Marshall Plan, “three beautiful pillars … peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.” Trump offered no plan to achieve these “pillars,” nor did he make a coherent argument beyond the platitudinous:

Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

Trump ran through several descriptions of what sovereign nations do without addressing the apparent contradiction inherent in the US defining how other nations should be sovereign. In this context, God made a first of several odd appearances before this most multicultural of assemblies:

And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

In concluding his litany of fuzzballs, Trump arrived at his first applause line (there were four), although why this line drew applause is somewhat mysterious:

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first. (Applause.)

The sentiment must surely appeal to Saudi Arabia, Burma (Myanmar), Israel, or Egypt as much as to Cuba, Yemen, Venezuela, or North Korea, but Trump has at least a double standard for which leaders he will allow to “put your countries first.” Trump took a cheap shot at both Russia and China, but did it in a single sentence without any indication if he actually meant anything by it:

We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.

As widely reported, Trump gave major attention to North Korea “for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.” That sounds like a familiar sovereign pattern, especially if you substitute “Native Americans” for “North Koreans.” Trump did not go there, of course, preferring instead to threaten genocide, unless the UN could find some alternative:

That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

“Let’s see how they do?” The US is no longer in the UN? Trump’s Freudian slip is showing. Trump’s next big thing was Iran, about which he pretty much lied shamelessly, even blaming Iran for “Yemen’s civil war,” which doesn’t really exist. Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe made obscenely worse by constant Saudi bombing with US collusion and support since it began in 2015. In this, Trump is as much a war criminal as Obama.

Once again casting the US as saintly, Trump disingenuously talked about all the US had done to help refugees, especially refugees from Syria and Iraq. You know, the ones he tried to ban. In this context he offered a priceless rationalization for American inhumanity:

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

That’s a fairly clever, if transparent way of saying: keep those raghead terrorists in their own countries, or at least the ones next door. In the context of trashing Cuba and Venezuela, Trump uttered a bald-faced lie:

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.

That’s never been true, as Palestinians in Gaza know, as Yemenis know, as Rohingya in Burma know, and black Americans in Missouri know, as native Americans know, as any sentient human should know. In this context, the ruthless hypocrisy of Trump’s closing stands in bold relief:

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.

Really? Is that why Trump was whining earlier in this speech about how much the US paid to keep the UN going?

Trump’s appearance at the UN was just another confirmation of just how awful he and his administration are, and probably no one has a clear understanding of the full extent of the Trump awfulness. And it just keeps coming. Turkish President Erdogan says Trump apologized to him for US indictments of Turkish security guards attacking peaceful protestors. The White House says Trump didn’t apologize for that. Does it matter either way? Trump’s America does not stand with Turks living under Erdogan’s brutal regime.

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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The World’s Only Undeclared Nuclear Weapons State

September 22nd, 2017 by Anthony Bellchambers

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that developments in North Korea’s nuclear program “contributed to international political instability with potentially serious knock-on effects.”

SIPRI says that as of January 2017 the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea together had an estimated 15,000 nuclear weapons.

Out of the above nine nuclear weapons states, only one is undeclared – that is the state of Israel, which is estimated to have built-up a secret arsenal of up to 400 warheads – all unidentified by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. 

Should that figure be substantiated that would place the Israeli state as either the 3rd or 4th most powerful nuclear state in the world, after the US and Russia and the highest nuclear weapons state, per capita, anywhere on the planet.

However, the vital fact is that Israel is not a party to the IAEA and therefore not subject to inspection or report by the UN’s international Agency and is also not a party to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and that makes the global situation fraught with danger for future peace.

It is seriously complicated by the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is determined to shift the global spotlight away from Israel’s massive, covert, nuclear weapons program to that of Iran which, of course, has no nuclear weapons whatsoever but which is a party to the NPT and, furthermore, subject to inspection by the IAEA.

These facts would appear to indicate the most dangerous military confidence trick ever perpetrated on a naive international community.

Report on nuclear weapon programs and inspection of nuclear weapon stocks should be a mandatory requirement for participation in international trade, failing which there should be economic sanctions against any recalcitrant state that poses a nuclear threat to world peace.

North Korea today reminds us that the world is no longer a safe place for anyone, anymore.

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The Day of the Generals: Winning Armageddon

September 22nd, 2017 by Phil Butler

In a room, somewhere deep inside the Pentagon generals and admirals met recently in order to prepare an assessment for the United States Senate Armed Services Committee. Present at the metering were General Mark Milley, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller, and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein. At such a meeting there’s no doubt that Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford attended seeing he’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The agenda for this meeting was serious as a heart attack – America’s most brilliant and powerful military men gathered that day to discuss Armageddon.

The minutes of this fateful meeting are top secret. Only a handful of people will ever know what was discussed. But the end result of the strategy session was revealed on September 15, 2017 before the people of the United States. The top generals of the most powerful nation on Earth advised congress that America could in fact win an all-out war with Russia and China. It must have been a scene right out of Director Stanley Kubrick’s classic Cold War film, Dr. Strangelove. I was not there, so I can only imagine the gathering of war hawks, the stoic expertise and military intellect, and the obtuse arrogance being conveyed across the congressional forum that day. The vision makes me wonder, “Who in the hell ordered such an assessment in the first place?” But I think we all know the answer.

General Milley expressed his only concern over World War III by citing the U.S. Army’s “lack of resources and training to execute America’s national security strategy without high military risk.” Admiral Richardson agreed with Milley, but his level of confidence in the U.S. Navy’s dominance seemed somehow higher. Milley told committee:

“I concur with Gen. Milley. If we get into one of those conflicts, we’ll win, but it going to take a lot longer than we’d like and it’s going to cost a lot more in terms of dollars and in casualties.”

Marine General Neller parroted these opinions, only with a typical “Jar Head” obtuseness and psychosomatic bravado proclaiming America’s current force array is “effective” against counterinsurgent forces around the world. I am assuming the General means the Taliban now resurgent in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda that’s being supported in Syria, and the ultimate enemy ISIL, which Russia has all but destroyed on the ground. I’ll not get into the Marine mentality, they are my shipmates after all. As for the Air Force’s General David L. Goldfein, the former combat pilot’s assessment showed that flying an airplane does not qualify one to be a military bean counter. General Goldfein also concurred with the others but in an overcomplicated way, as if he were the accountant of the group. In short, the man shot down over Serbia when America destroyed Yugoslavia earned his pay September 15th by stating the plainly obvious – World War III is a high-risk endeavor. No shit General.

My fellow Earthlings, it’s abundantly clear that the United States military industrial complex now runs America. The meeting before the U.S. Senate was simply a formality. A psycho-thriller being played out before an audience asleep in the back row of the theater. With Russia’s Vladimir Putin pleading with every breath for discourse and sanity, and after Russia’s military machine has been forced into high alert, America’s top Generals have been put in charge. Let me cite the Army’s General Milley on his plea for more money and weapons in order to abate the “dire consequences” of this Armageddon:

“The butcher’s bill is paid in the blood of American soldiers for unready forces. We have a long history of that— Kasserine Pass, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Tarawa, Task Force Smith in the Korean War. It goes all the way back to Bull Run—Lincoln thought he was going to fight a war for 90 days. Wars are often thought to be short when they begin—they’re not. They’re often thought to cost less than they end up costing and they end up with outcomes and take turns you never know. It’s a dangerous thing.”

Let me make something abundantly clear here. The “generals” did not prepare their assessments for a waiting U.S. Senate committee, for those same senators work in collusion with the military and the industrial complex, everyone knows this. This dog and pony show was orchestrated for one audience only – the idiots who believe our system works like it should – the American people. Look at the narrative. It’s all PR and propaganda dialogue, grade school fodder crafted to appease convenience store workers. A “dangerous thing”, indeed. Milley went on pandering for a brand new arms race, a brand new Cold War, in suggesting force build up and reequipping for major conflict. We’re right back to Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative. For those of you who believe this is all saber rattling, this Defense Intelligence Agency report shows us the military industrialists and the U.S. President are aware of the ultimate outcome. Part of the report addresses Vladimir Putin’s “preparedness” in the event of Armageddon to the extent he is getting ready just in case. The fact of the matter is that the deep underground bunkers America’s defense industry cites as “Putin’s Armageddon protection” were built during Soviet times.

Finally, if you read about the new role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, then you’ll understand the takeover of American policy by the deep state is complete. While his colleagues were busy pandering the public for more guns, ships, and missiles, America’s top general was politicking in Asia with career bureaucrats like South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. So, with North Korea, Russia, and Iran in the crosshairs of new US sanctions, the Trump administration takes aim with real killing weapons too. Generals as diplomats, and idiot U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as cheerleader for the ultimate game of war? The insanity is at “Biblical” on the reality meter today. Half the world is on the brink of starving, and most of the rest feels milked dry by the elitist order, so naturally World War III must come. All I have left to offer is this.

“I saw that publishing all over the world was deeply constrained by self-censorship, economics and political censorship, while the military-industrial complex was growing at a tremendous rate, and the amount of information that it was collecting about all of us vastly exceeded the public imagination.” – Julian Assange

Phil Butler is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Featured image is from the author.

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