Monsanto Guilty Verdict Is Only The Beginning

August 15th, 2018 by F. William Engdahl

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

A jury trial in California has resulted in a guilty verdict against the agrichemical and GMO giant, Monsanto, now Bayer/Monsanto. The judge has ordered Monsanto to pay damages of USD 289 Million to former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His lawyer argued it was caused by Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed-killer Roundup. Not surprisingly Monsanto plans to appeal the verdict. The impact of the ruling, regardless the outcome of the appeal, will unleash worldwide consequences that spell huge problems for the entire GMO agrochemicals business model.

The Johnson trial, Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co., CGC-16-550128, in California Superior Court in San Francisco, is the first of more than 5,000 such cases across the United States awaiting trial for claims that Roundup ingredients cause cancer.

Johnson, age 46, is a former pest control manager for a California county school system, where he applied Roundup and Monsanto’s Ranger Pro on school grounds across the county up to 30 times per year for more than two and a half years.

According to the magazine Insurance Journal, the guilty verdict could influence the outcome of thousands of similar cases against Monsanto glyphosate-based Roundup. Notably, the same law firm, California-based Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC is involved as part of the legal team in many of the other cases awaiting trial.

Monsanto Exposed in Trial

Robert Kennedy Jr, co-counsel in the case against Monsanto wrote a summary of the court cross-examinations by plaintiff lawyers as well as Monsanto lawyers. It revealed a devastating pattern of Monsanto suppression of negative carcinogenic test results, lies and huge payments to their “expert” scientific witnesses to support unproven Monsanto safety claims that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was allegedly no carcinogen.

In one of the more damning admissions, Monsanto toxicologist, Donna Farmer, was forced to admit, when confronted with an internal Monsanto e-mail, that her primary concern was regulatory compliance rather than public health. Farmer was also forced to admit that she orchestrated the ghostwriting of articles for supposedly independent scientists who agreed to defend glyphosate. Her reply: “There’s nothing wrong with that…”

Another paid Monsanto witness, Dr. Warren Foster, was forced to admit he had never done study of glyphosate or its carcinogenity before Monsanto paid him to testify against the animal studies used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a WHO agency, which determined glyphosate a “probable carcinogen” in 2015. The IARC ruling was a major blow against Monsanto’s claims that its Roundup, with some 31% glyphosate, was not harmful to animals or humans.

Another Monsanto toxicologist, Dr. Mark Martens, was asked why Monsanto dropped research by an independent toxicologist, Dr. James Parry, in 1999, after praising him as a top expert. When Parry’s research concluded that the complex and non-disclosed formulation of Roundup could cause genetic mutations, a potential cancer precursor, Monsanto dropped him and refused to let independent scientists review Parry’s studies, nor did Monsanto give the Parry studies to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Another Monsanto “expert witness,” Dr. Lorelei Mucci, a cancer epidemiologist and associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), admitted that Monsanto paid her $100,000 for her testimony.

When Monsanto attorneys attempted to discredit toxicology expert, Dr. Christopher Portier, by confronting Portier with the statement that the EPA had concluded, contrary to the IARC, that glyphosate was “not likely” carcinogenic to humans, Portier, under oath, declared that both the EPA in the USA and the EU’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) missed 15 tumors in various rodent studies on glyphosate because the agency used the wrong methodology. He said:“

My entire career been about using scientific evidence to make decisions, primarily about the carcinogenicity of compounds, and we’ve worked for years and years to do that appropriately. This was just so amazingly wrong in the way they were doing it.”

In testimony from Dr Charles Benbrook, the point was made that the insistence of the EPA to only discuss glyphosate, separate from the adjuvants or surfactants added to glyphosate to compose Roundup, was a fraud designed to cover up the more pressing question of, “whether the Roundup formulation itself, not just a single ingredient, is toxic and carcinogenic.”

In sum, what came out in the trial in San Francisco was a documented pattern of lies, coverup, a secret war to discredit independent toxicologists whose researches contradicted Monsanto safety claims for Roundup. 

Seralini rat study 

In a peer-reviewed scientific paper published on February 26, 2016 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a team of toxicologists led by Gilles-Eric Séralini of the Institute of Biology, University of Caen in France and AndrásSzékács, Director of the Agro-Environmental Research Institute of Hungary’s National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre, tested the most commonly used glyphosate-based herbicides including Monsanto Roundup. They tested the complete cocktail, including the co-formulants and formulations used in combination with glyphosate.

Their tests concluded among other things that the compounded herbicides using glyphosate as base, but including undisclosed “formulations” or surfactants, were vastly more toxic than glyphosate when tested alone, up to 2000 times more toxic to cells than glyphosate alone.Monsanto has never revealed its trade secret co-formulants, neither to the US Government as it is compelled to by law, nor to the public.

The results of the latest San Francisco court ruling against Monsanto are clearly but the beginning of a groundswell of opposition to toxic and carcinogenic agrochemicals, most sold by Monsanto and now, Bayer/Monsanto. Concerned citizens around the world are beginning to connect the dots and to realize we are being played not only for fools but played in a play with potentially deadly consequences.

In Argentina, in a just-published study, scientists determined that “exposure to environmentally relevant doses of a glyphosate-based herbicide during pregnancy has been found not only to impair female fertility in rats, but to induce foetal growth retardation and malformations, including abnormally developed limbs, in their second-generation offspring.”  The study was done after people living in an Argentine town in the heart of the GMO soy and maize growing area, where glyphosate-based herbicides are sprayed in large amounts, were documented to suffer birth defects at twice the national average rate.

*

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author.


seeds_2.jpg

Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

Author Name: F. William Engdahl
ISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2
Year: 2007
Pages: 341 pages with complete index

List Price: $25.95

Special Price: $18.00

 

This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

The global economy is again becoming financially fragile. Financial fragility is an indicator of increasing likelihood of the eruption of a major financial instability event–i.e. stock crash, bond market implosion, housing-commercial property price deflation, sovereign debt defaults, etc.

The current case of Turkey’s economy is at the center of this process, its currency having plummeted 40% to the dollar just this year. (It has temporarily stabilized this week, but the decline will soon continue once again).

But Turkey isn’t the only indicator, other EME currencies are also in sharp decline at various stages: Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, and India. Russia’s Ruble is deflating and China’s Yuan, the strongest, nonetheless pushes against its lower band within which it too has deflated by 6-10%, prevented from falling further only due to China’s central bank massive intervention in money markets to prop up the value of its currency to prevent further devaluation.

Rising global financial fragility is rising due to obvious increasing contagion effects. The Turkish LIRA crisis is spilling over to other EME currencies, causing a further decline in those currencies in addition to the already significant forces driving down those currencies.  Turkish dollarized debt payment obligations to Italian, EU and US banks are being noted in the business press. Italian bank debt is especially exposed, when Italian banks already sit on $500 billion in non-performing bank loans.

The transmission mechanism to a broader European bank crisis might easily occur from Turkey to Italian banks to the general banking system. US banks like Citibank are also exposed to Turkish debt.

Other indicators of growing potential contagion from the Turkish fallout are the global currency speculators (hedge funds, vulture investors, etc.) now plowing into short selling of the LIRA, further depressing its price, the rising interest rates on Turkey government and private bonds. The response of other EME central banks in raising their interest rates to try to stem the outflow of capital as their currencies follow the LIRA down. (Argentina being the worst case, as its central bank raises rates to 45%–thus ensuring that country’s current recession will collapse into an even more serious contraction, perhaps even depression). The first phase of the general contagion effects of the LIRA collapse have now occurred. A second ‘shoe’ will inevitably fall within weeks. Financial fragility is rising in the global economy–and will eventually impact the US economy in 2019, thus further ensuring a US recession sometime in 2019 that this writer has been predicting.


The Global Economic Crisis

The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Global Research

Each of the authors in this timely collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people’s lives.

In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The meltdown of financial markets was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation.

The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

click to order directly from Global Research

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken.

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.”
-Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.
-Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.
-David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

click to order directly from Global Research

The Assassination Attempt Against Venezuela’s Maduro

August 15th, 2018 by Nino Pagliccia

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro survived an assassination attempt after several explosives-laden drones were shot down right in front of him during a speech on live TV, and he’s since taken to accusing the US of masterminding this dramatic attempt on his life. His nemesis is infamous for killing its enemies with targeted drone strikes in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries, but its speculated involvement in this latest attack would be an unprecedented development. It appears, however, that any US hand in this happening has remained hidden because the country itself denied any role in this event and the so-called “Flannel Soldiers” who carried out last year’s helicopter attack in the capital already claimed responsibility. 

Even so, Maduro said that the real conspirators are hiding out Miami and neighboring Colombia, the first-mentioned of which hosts a large anti-government diaspora community while the latter just recently elected a right-wing leader who vowed to take a tough stand against Venezuela. Bolivian President Evo Morales tweeted public statements from then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo earlier this week proving that the American spymaster openly bragged about his plans for a so-called “transition” in the Bolivarian Republic, and he also shared reports from last month alleging that Trump was seriously considered invading Venezuela last year. No matter the degree of possible US involvement, however, it’s clear that some domestic actors were also involved as well. 

The authorities arrested six individuals so far who they claim are connected with this attempted crime, and while details are forthcoming, it’s highly likely that they’re linked in one way or another with the militant far-right opposition movement that’s been provoking Color Revolution chaos over the past couple of years and partaking in sprees of urban terrorism. The failed drone strike against Maduro could also be rightly classified as urban terrorism too, and beyond the implications that it has for the country’s ongoing and externally provoked political crisis, it also represents the crossing of a dangerous threshold where publicly available drone technology has been used for the first time to try and kill a head of state.

***

Andrew Korybko: How likely is it that the US is connected in one way or another to the failed drone strike against Maduro, and what would its potential involvement in this plot say about the desperate lengths that it’ll go to in carrying out regime change in Venezuela? Is it correct to claim that the Color Revolution has failed so now the CIA’s going back to its Old Cold War-era tricks of trying to assassinate Latin American leaders? 

Nino Pagliccia: If this was a criminal investigation and we would be looking for who carried out the crime, we would look at clues such as motive and prior convictions. The US government has certainly motive and a very long list of priors all over Latin America and other regions. I would say the US is the prime suspect as the brain behind the action facilitated by Colombia.

In fact, this attack is a desperate action by a desperate US. If Venezuela succeeds in bypassing all the sanctions with the new monetary measures recently announced, and produces a much welcome economic recovery, the US will be weakened considerably. 

As for the Old Cold War-era tricks, we cannot believe in the least that the CIA had shelved those tricks. We must remember that progressive popular changes in Latin America in the last 20 years or so have occurred via the electoral process primarily, including in Venezuela. But the reaction to those left-leaning gains has been a series of regressive parliamentary or real coups.

Venezuela has been a unique tough case for the US empire. It survived a failed coup in 2002, then a failed parliamentary coup with a recall referendum in 2004. It has repeatedly won election after election with few exceptions. It has survived violent counter-revolutions, but the Bolivarian Revolution has shown resilience to regime change all within open and acceptable constitutional process.

In an ideal world this is a signal that the majority of Venezuelans have made a decision. But the US Empire does not operate in an ideal world. So, if new tricks are not working, it’s time to use old tricks from the arsenal.

AK: What do you know about these so-called “Flannel Soldiers” who claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt, and what role are they currently playing in the country’s crisis?

NP: Based on their own information, this group was created in 2014. Their Twitter banner that portrays people with their faces covered with a t-shirt – which also explains their name, t-shirt is called “franela” in Venezuela – seems to be a reference to their involvement in street violence called “guarimbas” in Venezuela.

I have not seen any serious position analysis from them except rants against the Maduro government. It appears to be an extremely radical opposition group by their own postings. 

In one of their latest tweets the group claims that it is a “military” movement. Certainly this is not true – maybe militant but not military. 

However, their claim may well be part of creating the false impression that the armed forces in Venezuela are divided. The attack has already been hailed in Miami as being done by Venezuelan military and police “rebels” in Venezuela. 

The group has absolutely no role in Venezuelan politics. However, this may be precisely the kind of group that can be easily exploited by some “desperate” foreign government for regime change purposes. 

I am reminded of the events that created the Free Syrian Army versus the official government Syrian Armed Forces in Syria. Even symbolically, this radical opposition group in Venezuela uses the old Venezuelan flag with 7 stars of the 4th republic, as opposed to the official current flag with 8 stars.

We need to watch very carefully if this group is co-opted into something bigger and more dangerous.

AK: Some media outlets are speculating that Maduro will launch a so-called “crackdown” against the opposition after what happened, which might have been what the drone strike organizers were expecting if they failed, so how would the state’s forthcoming security operations have to be conducted in order to avoid falling into a US-made trap designed to escalate the crisis once more?

NP: You just described a perfect catch22. You’re damn if you do and you’re damn if you don’t. But first, I find it quite appalling that those media outlets would speculate on a so-called “crackdown” before condemning the assassination attempt, if not in defense of Maduro, in defense of the democratic process they are so fond of defending. That is tragic, really.

An attempt on the life of a president and officials of the armed forces of a nation cannot be taken lightly. What would the media call the reaction to a similar attempt in the US? What would that reaction be?

Following August 4, so far we can see that the Venezuelan state security operations have been swift and open with regular televised updates to keep the population informed.

No suspect has been snatched in the middle of the night and disappeared in a secret prison. No one is under threat of being tortured. All suspects have been publicly identified for all to know.

Even a member of the National Assembly, who has parliamentary immunity, accused of being involved in the attack, is being legally processed under his rights granted by article 200 of the constitution.

Rightly so, the Maduro government has announced that the law will severely punish those responsible. But I do not think for a second that this is the kind of “crackdown” the media wants to make it sound like. 

*

Nino Pagliccia is an activist and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. He is a Venezuelan-Canadian who writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. He is editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations” http://www.cubasolidarityincanada.ca.

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

Both authors are frequent contributors to Global Research.

Note

[1] https://sputniknews.com/radio_trendstorm/201808111067077747-venezuela-another-us-drone-strike/

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Assassination Attempt Against Venezuela’s Maduro

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

It must have been a moment of unspeakable shock, terror and pain. But it’s hard to know exactly what it was like at the moment last Thursday when a school bus packed with Yemeni schoolchildren — summer campers coming back from a picnic — was struck from the skies by a powerful bomb, because so few of these innocent kids survived to tell about it, and because those who did are mostly clinging to life, maimed or badly burned by the blast.

Instead, we can only gape at pictures of a twisted metal frame that hardly resembles the bus that was once filled with happy, singing children, or watch the widely circulated video of the aftermath of what happened in the market district of Saada in northern Yemen, in which a distraught, failing man raises the blue tarp of a pickup truck to reveal a tangle of young bodies as he lifts up the limp arm of one of the dead schoolkids.

At least 29 people — according to the International Committee of the Red Cross — and quite possibly 40 or 50, according to Yemeni estimates, were killed in the airstrike by jets in the Saudi-led coalition that’s been waging a brutal war against the Saudis’ next-door neighbor on the Arabian Peninsula for the last four years.

A spokesman for the Saudi coalition called it “a legitimate military operation” in its campaign against Houthi rebels that operate in northern Yemen — a claim that was scoffed at by most of the rest of the world, alarmed at the growing humanitarian crisis in the region.

“Does the world really need more innocent children’s lives to stop the cruel war on children in Yemen?” asked Geert Cappalaere, the regional director for the Middle East and Northern Africa of the aid group UNICEF. Many of the kids killed or wounded in the attack were carrying bright blue UNICEF school bags, now shredded and burned.

The merciless Saudi-led war in Yemen — which has not only claimed 13,500 lives but triggered a humanitarian crisis in which some 20 million Yemenis, out of a nation of just 29 million, are scrambling for food and other basic necessities and as many as 900,000 people are suffering from cholera — is what it is today because of help from the United States.

America offers the Saudis and its allies in the region the intelligence used to carry out the nonstop airstrikes and other military operations. The planes that conduct the bombing runs are refueled by American forces in the region. And many of the bombs that have been dropped on Yemen — including those that have struck hospitals and other civilian targets — were manufactured and supplied by the United States.

To read complete article on The Inquirer  at philly.com click here

 

*

Featured image is from Julien Harneis / Flickr.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on I Don’t Remember Voting for U.S. Bombs to Murder Little Kids in Yemen, Do You?

Trump vs. His Own Administration?

August 15th, 2018 by Rep. Ron Paul

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Are President Trump’s senior cabinet members working against him? It’s hard not to conclude that many of the more hawkish neocons that Trump has (mistakenly, in my view) appointed to top jobs are actively working to undermine the president’s stated agenda. Especially when it seems Trump is trying to seek dialogue with countries the neocons see as adversaries needing to be regime-changed.

Remember just as President Trump was organizing an historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un, his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, nearly blew the whole thing up by making repeated references to the “Libya model” and how it should be applied to North Korea. As if Kim would jump at the chance to be bombed, overthrown, and murdered at the hands of a US-backed mob!

It seems that Trump’s appointees are again working at cross-purposes to him. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was invoking a 1991 US law against the use of chemical weapons to announce yet another round of sanctions on Russia over what he claims is Putin’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

The alleged poisoning took place in March and only now did the State Department make its determination that Russia was behind it and thus subject to the 1991 sanction law. Was there new information that came to light that pointed to Russian involvement? According to a State Department briefing there was none. The State Department just decided to take the British government’s word for it.

Where do we get authority to prosecute Russia for an alleged crime committed in the UK, by the way?

President Trump’s own Administration is forcing him to accept the State Department determination and agree to sanctions that may well include, according to the 1991 law, a complete break of diplomatic relations with Russia. This would be a de facto declaration of war. Over unproven allegations.

Trump has authority to reject the imposition of new sanctions, but with his Democrat opponents continuing to charge that he is in league with the Russian president, how could he waive sanctions just before the November US Congressional elections? That would be a windfall for the Democrats seeking to take control of the House and Senate.

The only way Russia could avoid the second, most extreme round of these sanctions in November is to promise not to use chemical weapons again and open its doors to international inspections. What government would accept such a demand when no proof has been presented that they used chemical weapons in the first place?

Certainly it is possible that President Trump is fully aware of the maneuverings of Bolton and Pompeo and that he approves. Perhaps he likes to play “good cop, bad cop” with the rest of the world, at the same time making peace overtures while imposing sanctions and threatening war. But it certainly looks like some of his cabinet members are getting the best of him.

If President Trump is to be taken at his word, that he welcomes dialogue “without pre-conditions” with leaders of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere, he would be wise to reconsider those in his employ who are undermining him every step of the way. Otherwise, it is hard to believe the president is sincere. Let’s hope he does choose dialogue over conflict and clips the wings of those under him attempting to push him in the other direction.

*

Featured image is from Steemit.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Trump vs. His Own Administration?

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

On Thursday August 9th, the Israeli airforce dropped ten missiles on a building in Gaza City, turning the five-story building into rubble. Was this a Hamas training center, or somehow associated with the Palestinian armed resistance? No. Like the building targeted by Israeli forces two weeks earlier, when two teen boys were killed taking a selfie, this was a cultural center aimed at preserving the history and culture of the Palestinian people of Gaza.

The Said Al-Mashal Foundation for Arts and Culture was a place where cultural heritage was preserved and maintained. The Palestinian traditional dance known as dabke was taught and practiced there, poets would gather to share their latest works, and musicians would come together for jam sessions and performances.

Two weeks earlier, the Israeli airforce dropped another bomb on the Arts and Crafts Museum in Gaza City.

Why is Israel so focused on destroying Palestinian cultural artifacts, museums, arts and crafts? Is it because resistance fighters are hidden inside these centers? That is a laughable claim that is easily disproved by looking at the evidence – no fighters, weapons or rockets in the rubble that remains of what had been beautiful and well-loved cultural centers.

Image result for Said Al-Mashal Foundation for Arts and Culture

Source: Yeni Safak

Nor is it true that these centers were somehow ‘collateral damage’, and the bombs were targeting some other, nearby place. No, Israeli forces directly targeted these centers – and in fact, after the fact, declared the strikes a ‘success’ and claimed that they hit their targets directly.

No, the reality is that the centers that preserve the Palestinian people’s identity, culture and history are somehow seen as a threat to Israel, and Israeli authorities have implemented a policy that such centers must be destroyed.

Video showing the destruction of the Said al-Mashal Center:

The Middle East Eye interviewed some of the artists involved with the center.

Edrees Taleb, 27, one of the centre’s well-known theatre directors, was quoted in the paper as saying,

“You know what it means to have been working in a place for more than eight years, so you know every tile like the back of your hand and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, everything is gone? For the past couple of months, we have been preparing for a new play entitled ‘Anesthesia Syringe’, to be played during the Eid al-Adha break, and we had installed the decoration a few hours before the building was targeted.”

Taleb could not believe that the building was razed until he went to see it for himself.

“We spent the whole day on Thursday preparing for Saturday’s rehearsal. The decoration cost us a lot, but we hoped it would pay back,” he said.

“We finished the preparations at about 3:30pm, and I went home to have some rest. When I came back at around 6pm, the building was gone. I am shocked and suffocated.”

A young artist identified as Taleb told the paper that he has been attending events at the center for eight years, since he was 18. He said,

“Israel says its forces targeted the building because part of it was used by Hamas. But I have been there for more than eight years, there has never been anything related to any political party. Not in the past, and not recently.”

Hanin al-Holy, 23, stated,

“Al-Meshal centre was a symbol of culture, something that reinforced our Palestinian identity. They targeted it because art is, too, a form of resistance.”

He aired a free block of programming over public airways in 2014 in Eastern Europe. Who does that? Who does that at the very beginning stages of like a new Cold War run up? … And, you know, that sounds very similar to the way that the BBC and Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty operated is broadcasting content adversarial against Russia and Eastern Europe. – Robbie Martin, from this week’s interview.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The neocon architects behind George Bush’s War on Terrorism did not rely solely on the shock of the 9/11 attacks to galvanize public opinion and support.

Largely forgotten now is the dissemination in the days following the World Trade Center attacks, of letters containing deadly anthrax spores to media outlets and two U.S. Democratic Senators. The anthrax letters played a crucial role not only in galvanizing support for the military offensive against Saddam Hussein and his supposed ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ but also in helping propel the passage of the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Interestingly, the U.S. Senators targeted in the anthrax mailings, Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, were both Democrats, and stalling passage of the Patriot Act.

Another critical accomplice in enabling the neocon agenda right through the Obama years has been a compliant media. However, this does not just include the mainstream giants that a broad section of the public has begun to distrust, but supposedly edgy, and hipsterish media like Vice. All pretenses aside, as with Democracy Now in its coverage of the Syrian conflict, Vice appears to be aligning its news coverage with the goals and aims of U.S. foreign policy agendas.

As journalist and film-maker Robbie Martin has addressed in his documentary film series A Very Heavy Agenda, the neocons largely faded from public view in the post Bush era, but have remained influential in shaping the media narratives enabling war, militarism and the decline of American civil liberties.

In the conclusion of a special two part interview by Global Research News Hour guest contributor Scott Price, Robbie Martin explores the anthrax attacks in the context of the larger neocon agenda, he exposes the charismatic media outlet Vice as a tool of the neocons’ foreign policy agenda, and he offers advice on how the public can confront the cynical agenda and disinformation being directed at them without being paralyzed by it.

Following this discussion, we hear a repeat broadcast of a December 2017 interview with the recently deceased award-winning investigative journalist Robert Parry. In one of his last interviews before his untimely death at the age of 68, Parry describes how and why journalistic standards have declined since he first started in the field in the mid-70s, he discusses the consequences for democracy, and briefly explains the importance of reader-financed news outlets, such as Consortiumnews.com

Robbie Martin is a journalist, musician and documentary film-maker. He is co-host with his sister Abby Martin of Media Roots Radio.  A Very Heavy Agenda can be streamed or purchased here. Soundtrack for Film and music for these series from Fluorescent Grey (Robbie Martin).

The late Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He founded consortiumnews.com in 1995 and served as the online investigative news outlet’s editor until his death in January of 2018.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

Transcript – Interview with Robbie Martin, July 2018

Global Research: (INTRO) Through the late 20th and early 21st century, the neoconservatives loomed large in American foreign policy…the war on terror, the war in Iraq, the Bush administration. In 2018, it may seem that their power and influence has waned, but in fact, many of these neoconservatives still hold influence, and their legacy has had a much larger impact on politics and society.

In this Global Research News Hour special, we talk with journalist, filmmaker, and musician Robbie Martin on his 3-part documentary, A Very Heavy Agenda. This film series covers the rise and continued influence of the neoconservatives. In Part 2 of his Global Research News Hour special, Robbie Martin talks about the anthrax attacks and how they were used to frame the war on terror and how Vice became the conduit for US foreign policy propaganda.

Global Research: The second thing I want to talk about is those anthrax attacks and of course that’s a whole can of worms also in and of itself. And I believe you have a whole documentary specifically on this, correct?

Robbie Martin:  I do yeah. It’s much shorter. I made it before A Very Heavy Agenda but it’s about a 45-minute documentary.

GR: Right, but the other thing too is, when I was watching this, how it was used in a way to justify kind of a war in Iraq in a way because then that connects with WMDs. And, you know, so, could you just …and again, big can of worms here, but could you just kind of like explain this a little bit about what happened there with the anthrax attacks? Because also, just as a comment, I totally forgot about that. Completely. And then when watching the documentary and then hear you talk about it like on your podcast and stuff, all this stuff kept flooding back and I was oh, right, that was… Early on in that period, that was a huge talking point and I was like how did I…how did I… this is odd to me that I would have…I somehow totally forgot about this. But anyways just kind of explain that a little bit.

RM: Well, first I just wanted to say I’m really happy to hear you say it all came flooding back for you because that was kind of one of my intentions. It wasn’t even really an artistic choice, it was… I’m a believer in the idea of like state-dependent memory… And most of the time you hear that has to do with drugs or psychedelics, but when it comes to traumatic incidents, I think it’s also very important and key.

So I went into this documentary after I made American Anthrax. When I made A Very Heavy Agenda, I knew that most of the people don’t even remember the anthrax attacks, that I just randomly encounter. So, my goal was, if I put a chronological timeline of it and sort of re-immerse the viewer into this memory that they probably lived through and watched on TV but don’t even remember it, then maybe some of those memories will come flooding back. So I’m really glad to hear if it had that kind of effect on you.

Because I feel that that’s something that if you just expose people to just video clips of the anthrax attacks and sort of show them how it linked to Iraq and these things, then it would really shock most people, but they would also not just be shocked but it would… they would anchor them back to a different part of their life where they’re remember,  and they’d be like, oh, wow, now I remember that trauma and sort of that fear, that heightened experience.

And you brought up Iraq. I’m a personal believer, and this is something that Glenn Greenwald and other journalists have also posited, the idea that the Iraq War wouldn’t have been possible to sell to the American public if it was not for the anthrax attacks. I am a strong believer in that being the reality. I see anthrax, the anthrax attacks, as the knockout punch.

9/11 was an isolated incident, sorry, well it took place in two… multiple cities, but it was mostly on the east coast in a very small relative geographical area. It happened on a single day, but it wasn’t just the 9/11 attacks themselves that enabled the hysterical climate for the Iraq War… The idea that terrorism would keep happening, that terrorists would try to use biological weapons, you know because Al-Qaeda was so crazy, they said, that they’re going to try to kill us using bio weapons and chemical weapons.

And the anthrax attack essentially provided that, provided that narrative. Because if 9/11 just happened by itself, and nothing else happened after that, the Bush Administration and the rest of the Homeland Security Department and the media class wouldn’t have been able to really sell us on the idea that terrorism was going to be a regularly occurring thing.

Having the anthrax attacks happen, and I should mention also it wasn’t just a single anthrax letter that was sent in the mail, there were four letters that were found, there were five deceased, and there were also dozens infected, but that’s…that’s…that might sound small, and it might sound like I’m exaggerating this idea that there was this much hysteria and fear over it, but if you actually read…there are some actual interesting stats in… and I can’t remember the title of it but it was an anthrax book that I just read…one of the last ones I managed to pick up a copy of…actually goes through, it does a statistical analysis of all the copycat anthrax letters that were sent to the country at the time. And there was something like thousands of cases of this happening. So what you had on top of the real letters was piggybacking of all these hoaxers and pranksters and people all across the country sending copycat letters too.

So the climate at the time was so amped up, so heightened, that it appeared that a terrorist or a group of terrorists was sending hundreds of letters through the mail. And this is maybe in a 3 or 4-month period starting in October.

It was discovered later that there were really only four letters found that actually contained anthrax. And they were sent to media and government figures. The two government figures that they were sent to, oddly, were two of the only people who were delaying the passage of the USA Patriot Act during the Bush Administration: Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. That’s a very odd… two people to be selected for that attack, I think. And other people have speculated that perhaps this was actually the work of someone in the Bush Administration who desperately wanted to pass the Patriot Act, to strip us all of civil rights…it’s even hard to quantify how much our civil rights were stripped with that Patriot Act.

So, in terms of how it got us to the Iraq War, I should stress that if you look at every other Iraq WMDs hoax story, because all of them were either cooked up intelligence, doctored intelligence, or leaked lies of omission to the media about aluminum tubes, about Mohammed Atta’s meeting with Iraqi officials in Iraq or Baghdad or Hamburg… I forgot where they said they met.

If you look at all the other…connect the other things that connect Iraq to Al-Qaeda, where this idea of WMDs, they had a nuclear program, you know, they had chemical weapons, they had sarin, none of these things actually turn out to be true. And none of them actually had any effect over here. But one of the remaining Iraq war WMD narratives that stuck was that Iraq had a biological weapons program. They had anthrax stockpiles. That was something you heard the Bush Administration say. Colin Powell even held up the vial at the UN. And that was about 2 years after the anthrax, or less maybe two and a half years after. But in between that period where Colin Powell held up the vial and the anthrax being sent through the mail, there was an ongoing anthrax attack happening in the country.

So when you had the Bush Administration all of a sudden going out saying Saddam has WMDs, anthrax stockpiles, he doesn’t have to spell it out a hundred percent, because this is how the Bush Administration was so clever about it. They never directly blamed Saddam Hussein for the attacks. What they did was, they continually put out propaganda about how Saddam has anthrax stockpiles during the attacks. Without actually telling the American public who was behind them. And, actually, Bush speculated that it was probably Al-Qaeda.  

But it’s very important because everyone really forgets, I think, how this 3-way connection was created between Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda, and 9/11. How did they manage to get that to sink in? It wasn’t just because the Bush Administration lied about the meetings and all that stuff. None of that stuff ended up having any real concrete proof. The only thing that really affected us here were the anthrax attacks. Psychologically speaking, without spelling it out, that’s how the Bush Administration got that idea to sink in. WMDs was a real thing. It wasn’t just a talk of foreign policy makers, it was because it was being sent to the mail and killing us at the time.

So, then, and of course, there are people leaking to media figures like Brian Ross on ABC, that it had hallmarks of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons. So you had that propaganda coming out too, but the neocons and Bush were clever enough to not spell it out a hundred percent. And Bush had neocons like Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol and people who were running the administration kind of connecting the rest of the dots in the media, like Charles Krauthammer, other people, alleging that this is probably the work of Saddam Hussein.

GR: And on to sort of the re-branding of the neoconservative hawkish positions. I think, to me, your political analysis on Vice news is one of the sharpest and useful there is. I mean, there’s a lot of people who’ve talked about Vice, but I think you have, you base it in like a political analysis, and basically how now Vice pretty much echoes US foreign policy positions. You look at Vice coverage of Ukraine, Venezuela, Russia, North Korea, they’ve all pretty much taken, like full-blown hawkish positions, but they hide it under layers of irony and feigning that they are non-ideological just in the style that they produce these things.

So could you talk about that shift with Vice? I mean, I think there was always a reactionary political bent to it, but I mean now it’s just, over the last several years, it’s just full-blown hawkish positions. So how does that happen, and why is Vice the perfect vehicle for US foreign policy propaganda?

RM: Well, it’s… they’re all very valid questions, and I guess I’ll just start with something that… I don’t know if I…I think it’s revealed in Part 3 of A Very Heavy Agenda, but it’s something that’s been well known for a while, is that the founder of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol, Bill Kristol’s father, was actually the editor, co-editor, for a magazine that was popular in Europe called The Counter. It was made for liberal intellectuals. It wasn’t a super popular magazine, it wasn’t meant for people on the right side of the spectrum. It was meant for like artists and intellectuals and stuff like that in Europe.

And it turned out that this magazine was being primarily fronted by the CIA. And Irving kristol said he didn’t know it was being funded by the CIA, that he was annoyed when he found out. I don’t believe any of that. I think he was actually part of a…. part of working for the CIA. I think that was actually his job. I didn’t put that in my movie because that’s more speculation on my part, but, that being said, I think that this type of thing has been done by American foreign policy propagandists and information war types and intelligence agencies for a very long time.

This was a magazine that was being printed and distributed in the 1960s. So you go all the way to now, something like Vice magazine is almost kind of the perfect conduit to pass the threshold of the young cynical mind, and to get them basically to believe whatever they’re telling them. Because it’s, you know, Vice magazine started as edgy, sex positive, drug positive… You know, really edgy sort of culture magazine, and people fell in love with it. I mean it became a big thing.

In the United States, I remember, even in the early aughts, it was very, very popular. It was also free, freely distributed, which I’m still kind of confused about how they afforded to do that, just getting enough advertising money to print it for free. I think that needs to be closer examined.

But just that aside, they eventually started their own HBO show. I think it was around… it was around when Obama got in office, maybe it was around 2010 or a little later. So Vice actually started their own TV show on HBO, and it started just like Shane Smith himself, the owner of Vice, doing this sort of adrenaline junkie adventure tourism, going around all these places in the world that seemed really dangerous. And, like, the one I remember most is them going to Haiti, and then him just talking about all the s*** on the beach in Haiti. And that was like a Vice news segment.

It was a very popular, sort of edgy show at the time. But what I didn’t know about it is that it was being co-produced by, and their main consultant was Fareed Zakaria of the Council on Foreign Relations and also CNN guys, you know he’s one of these neoliberal think tank quasi journalists, and Bill Maher you know famous politically correct comedian he has Real Time with Bill Maher, and he actually produced it and helps fund it. So he helped bring this Vice news show to HBO.

And Bill Maher has always sort of been this guy who pretends to be some kind of libertarian free speech, you know, real liberal guy, but he’s quite the bigot. I mean he’s quite an Islamophobe, he seems to subscribe to a lot of terrible foreign policy platforms. What I noticed is, even just with already knowing that, that Bill Maher was involved and all that kind of stuff, the part that really started to bother me was seeing their dishonest coverage of the Sochi Olympics and the Ukraine Civil War essentially. And from there I was kind of like well I’m just going to start looking at this more closely, and really try to figure out what their narrative is.

Like what is the narrative they’re putting out? Because as you said, they act like they don’t have an editorial slant on this show. It’s usually a younger reporter who’s just going out, you know, kind of seemingly naively covering a story and just along for the ride. A lot of it’s just kind of fly on the wall. The reporters aren’t asking very adversarial questions. It’s mostly just like a documentary kind of thing. But I started noticing something very specific, very early on when I started looking at this. It’s …their foreign policy slant seem to be almost identical to the Obama Administration and the US State Department foreign policy slant.

And once I started noticing that and how consistently true that was for Vice, I started noticing other strange things such as the BBG. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is the US State media arm that we have all these branches all around the world putting out US State sponsored content, similar to RT Russia. I noticed that the BBG seemed like they were especially excited about Vice, running a lot of their content in their reports, and on their Vice news segments. And you could actually see this on the BBG’s auditing reports from the years 2014 two around 2016. They seem particularly proud of Vice and the eagerness that Vice had to share their content. So that’s not just Vice mirroring the content of this Obama State Department. It’s Vice literally using stories and segments from literally US State funded State Department produced media. And that State Department produced media arm posting on their own website, on their government website, about how excited they are about Vice for using all their content.

So that was something else I noticed, and I thought that’s awfully strange that this supposedly edgy millennial news outlet that’s just started their own show not too long ago is this eager to use all this US State funded media content. And that’s similarly that branch of the US state government was very excited about that relationship as well. So, you know, that was the second thing I noticed that was really strange. And then I just started noticing that Obama seemed to be giving all this exclusive access to Vice, which says something in and of itself. There’s definitely ways that you can perceive what kind of favouritism is given to certain media figures. I mean just look at Trump, you know, only giving these long interviews to people like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and no other people from… no other household name media figures.

Obama was giving exclusive access to Biden and different people from his cabinet to Shane Smith of Vice! Seemingly more than …he was giving to other media networks. And, you know, you could look at this and say, oh, well the Obama Administration, their people have traditionally always been good at tapping into this millennial hipster media circuit. I mean look at Obama going on Marc Maron. Look at him going on Between Two Ferns. But what I saw with Vice was much deeper than that, where it was the Obama Administration not only giving them extremely good access but also trying to put out these narratives on Vice news.

And this all sort of culminated with the strange final Vice news special with Obama… It wasn’t actually the final one. I think it was the second to last one they did with him… where Obama was literally the host of the segment, and Obama takes Shane Smith to a prison, a maximum-security prison to talk to prisoners about how deplorable prison life is. And I don’t know what to make of that other than it being a White House sponsored Vice news segment. If you watch it you can understand what I’m saying, but it’s very surreal because what other media network, especially one marketed towards millennials, would get away with doing something like that? You know, have the President of the United States host a segment. I mean it just looks bad, it looks funny, it smells funny.

So the fact that they would do that so nakedly, it really showed me that they actually don’t care, and that maybe in some ways they’re trying to rebrand this idea of a liberal government being linked arm-in-arm with this hipster media outlet, and that’s actually a good thing. It’s cool. It’s not something bad.

And then, I guess I’ll, the last thing I’ll mention is that Alyssa Mastromonaco, one of the people who spent the most time with Obama in the White House, she was with them on Air Force 1 taking his notes, constantly shadowing him, becomes the COO of Vice after she leaves her White House spot. It’s a very strange transition there. So, there’s more I can go in to. I mean Rupert Murdoch own something like 15 per cent of Vice now, Disney owns a large chunk. But there’s a lot more strange stuff with it. I mean, Simon Ostrowski, the host of Russian Roulette, they’re serious about Ukraine actually whitewashes Azov Battalion’s Neo-Nazi ties multiple times throughout the series, and we now know how brutally and openly Neo-Nazi they are. There’s no hiding it anymore. So, Vice was trying to hide that. And I’ve been accused of being paranoid and crazy for even pointing this out.

GR: Yeah…

RM: I mean…And it’s interesting… I’ve actually tried to talk to people who’ve left Vice about this and they’re kind of like, yeah, you know…I can see what you’re saying, but I didn’t notice while I was there. It’s like… I just don’t see how they didn’t notice it. I mean, to me it was just so obvious from the very beginning that something smelled funny about their foreign policy coverage but there were just other things they found during the making of my film, Scott, that like, Shane Smith says on video that they aired a free block of programming over public airwaves in 2014 in Eastern Europe. Who does that? Who does that at the very beginning stages of like a new Cold War run up? What – what media company does that? And you know, that sounds very similar to the way that the BBC and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty operated is broadcasting content adversarial against Russia in Eastern Europe. That’s what they already do.

GR: Yeah

RM: So I found that very odd. That he would admit to doing that and just act like, and just say it in passing. You know like that was one of their marketing is tragedies. And also, they have branches in over a hundred, something like 120 countries. I mean they are embedded all over the world now. I mean they have so many stringers and freelancers, there are giant operation. So if someone wanted to use them like an intelligence network even, or for surveillance or whatever,…they seem like they’re kind of… It’s kind of a perfect setup actually in a way. Even just for… in terms of their reach and their amount of translators they have for Intelligence.

GR: Yeah, and so… and then kind of talking like the second part about Vice and sort of their position like we were just talking about, the access that they get and their kind of lines that they pushed through their media empire basically what they have now, this is one thing I was thinking. Do you think there’s a connection between the lack of an anti-war movement and news outlets like Vice, who speak and do really well with younger audiences? Do you think like this is, I don’t know, I don’t know how intentional it is, but it seems like it’s really good in neutralizing principled anti-war positions because of what we were just sort of talking about.

RM: No, I think it’s absolutely…you just hit on something totally true that’s happening. There’s all these…people won’t seek out…They believe that they have all these alternative voices in places like Vice or BuzzFeed or Daily Beast, but in fact if you look at all three of those outlets’ slant on US foreign policy, it’s virtually always the same, they’re almost always towing US foreign policy line, at least during the Obama Administration. Things have changed since Trump got an office. That’s a whole other can of worms.

But yeah, I think that you’re, it’s completely true to say is that the anti-war movement, at least in any mainstream sense, has been pretty much completely neutralized. And even like the sub mainstream anti-war movement, that you know you used to hear about anti-war protests, I mean I think the last one was a large group of people protesting the White House when Obama threatened to bomb Syria because they crossed the red line. That was one of the last major groundswell protests that the anti-war movement was really a part of. That like I think kind of penetrated at least partly to the mainstream.

Since then though, I think that it has been largely neutralized. Even the idea that we are perpetually bombing ISIS in Syria, even people on the anti-war left who were journalists who do work in that area, they don’t even really write about how that’s, you know, part of the endless war on terror. It’s kind of like just accepted that we need to eradicate ISIS and keep bombing Syria and Iraq over and over again until you know, killing unknown scores of civilians.

So, I think that unfortunately, the anti-war movement is largely disappeared. The drone wars have increased under Trump, more civilians are being killed, more bombs are being dropped under Trump than were under Obama, he’s doing it at a higher rate. You don’t really hear much outcry really. It just seems like mostly the consensus, even from the, I don’t want to say the left, but the liberal side of the spectrum, is calling for world war and how we should overthrow Assad, how maybe we should squeeze Putin more, maybe we should sanction North Korea and starve North Koreans more.

That’s sort of the rhetoric from the left right now. Unfortunately, there’s not, I mean the anti-war stuff, saying that we should keep our hands off of those countries and maybe not sanction Venezuela or talk about overthrowing them. It’s very few voices out there saying that kind of stuff right now. Even shows like Democracy Now in the United States have shifted more towards a regime change perspective in countries like Syria. Which is really shocking. But that’s where we are now.

 – Intermission – 

GR: I guess one of the last things… kind of one of the last things about A Very Heavy Agenda is that one of the major takeaways that I really got from the film and what I really appreciate it is that you kind of show that there aren’t really secret conspiracies and that many of these elites and these sorts of people are very open about what they want and what they want to do. And you show that through their own words, and you kind of let these people, you give them, you know, you use the own rope that they have to kind of hang themselves with in a way.

But, yet, people are still really attracted to the more cartoonish kind of conspiracy theory kind of things. And I think about that, and I also think about, at the same time, we are really living and one of the most propagandized times. And it is becoming harder and harder to discern what is happening in the world because you know these neocons, they don’t actually, like, as you kind of establish in the film and what we talked about, they don’t really care about what the facts are. It’s just whatever they can bend, whatever they can rewrite history into.

And we just talked about, like Vice and how they portray things. So, I mean, I’m just wondering about someone who is really kind of like yourself, who’s tuned into this. How do you stay focused on what matters, and how do you kind of keep sanity and a sort of decent mental health? I mean, what are your thoughts about this? Because it seems we’re getting… things are getting more surreal and even more propagandized than I even thought, you know, in the lead up to the Iraq War. I think, we’re in a way, we’re staged now.

RM: Yeah that’s a really hard one. I mean, gosh. I mean, I think just for myself, I try to make the world smaller in terms of my, what I focus on. If I tried to look at everything at once that bothered me, and tried to make sense of it, and tried to address it and fight against it, I think I would… there’d be no way to do it. I mean I would just probably be a depressed mess all the time. I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I’d be paralysed by it. So, I guess just for my own personal strategy is…and the work that I do is to narrow things down to where I think I can do the most damage, I guess.

GR: Right.

RM: Other than fighting against it. For me, I’ve chosen some, you know, very specific areas. So I will continue to do work and dig the subject of the 2001 anthrax attacks, but you know, in terms of just charting what the neocons are doing and what their plans are, like you said, a lot of this stuff is being talked about out in the open. I mean, you know, even if, you know, it depended on… you don’t have to be a Truther to think it’s valuable information, but the fact that the Project for the New American Century in the year 2000 talked about their eagerness for needing a new Pearl Harbor, perhaps tracking that back then might have prepared you better for the era to come in terms of, you know, what their propaganda was going to be like after 9/11 and things like that, and where it was going to go.

You know, because a lot of this stuff, at least for me, it used to be playing catch-up. I would be looking at documents that were written very, a while ago, you know, years ago, to try to understand the present. So, for me I try to read documents as they come out in the present to understand what’s going to happen in the future, and to try to at least, you know, get a better handle on what that might be so that when it happens, I can be better prepared to address it, I guess. And one of those ways that shaping up now is this build-up to what seems like Trump’s Administration beating the drums for war with Iran. And that’s something that, you know, I’ve been looking at very closely for the last couple of years.

So, it hasn’t been a surprise to me I guess is partly what I’m trying to say. But I think for regular people out there, I don’t blame people for wanting to unplug and not being able to follow what’s going on, because I agree with you that it’s one of the most challenging and intense propaganda eras in human history. And so, I don’t want to leave people with a cynical note or suggestion on my part, but if you want to do this kind of work, and you want to pay attention to it, I would try to narrow it down to something. Because otherwise it is going to drive you crazy.

GR: You have been listening to the Global Research News Hour special with journalist, filmmaker, and musician, Robbie Martin, on his documentary series, A Very Heavy Agenda that explores the rise and continued influence of the neoconservatives on US foreign policy and society. You can buy or stream A Very Heavy Agenda at averyheavyagenda.com. Music for this special provided by Fluorescent Gray, AKA, Robbie Martin. For The Global Research News Hour, I’m Scott Price.

– end of transcript – 

Global Research News Hour Summer 2018 Series Part 6

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca . Excerpts of the show have begun airing on Rabble Radio and appear as podcasts at rabble.ca.

The Global Research News Hour now airs Fridays at 6pm PST, 8pm CST and 9pm EST on Alternative Current Radio (alternativecurrentradio.com)

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIOT RADIO, the visual radio station based out of Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario has begun airing the Global Research News Hour on an occasional basis. Tune in at dcstudentsinc.ca/services/riot-radio/

Radio Fanshawe: Fanshawe’s 106.9 The X (CIXX-FM) out of London, Ontario airs the Global Research News Hour Sundays at 6am with an encore at 4pm.

Los Angeles, California based Thepowerofvoices.com airs the Global Research News Hour every Monday from 6-7pm Pacific time. 

Seventy-three years ago (August 9, 1945) an all-Christian bomber crew dropped a plutonium bomb over Nagasaki City, Japan, instantly vaporizing, incinerating or otherwise annihilating tens of thousands of innocent civilians, a disproportionately large number of them Japanese Christians. The explosion mortally wounded uncountable thousands of other victims who succumbed to the blast, the intense heat and/or the radiation.

In 1945, the US was regarded as the most Christian nation in the world (that is, if you can label as truly Christian a nation whose churches are proponents of eye-for-an-eye retaliation, are supportive of America’s military and economic exploitation of other nations or otherwise fail to sincerely teach or adhere to the ethics of Jesus as taught in the Sermon on the Mount).

Ironically, prior to the bomb exploding nearly directly over the Urakami Cathedral at 11:02 AM, Nagasaki was the most Christian city in Japan, and the massive cathedral was the largest Christian church in the Orient.

An irradiated crucifix lies in the ruins of the Urakami Cathedral Following the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

Those baptized and confirmed Christian airmen, following their wartime orders to the letter, did their job efficiently, and they accomplished the mission with military pride, albeit with an astonishing number of near-fatal glitches in the mission. Most of us Americans would have done what the crew did if we had been in the shoes of the Bock’s Car crew. And, if we had never seen, heard or smelled the suffering humanity that the bomb caused on the ground, and if we had been treated as heroes in the aftermath, most of us would have experienced no remorse for our participation in what was retrospectively universally regarded as a war crime.

Indeed, the use of the most monstrous weapons of mass destruction in the history of warfare, was later defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal as an international war crime and a crime against humanity.

Of course, there was no way that the crew members knew that at the time of the mission. Some of the crew did admit that they had had some doubts about what they had participated in after the bomb actually detonated. But none of them actually witnessed the horrific suffering of the victims up close and personal. “Orders are orders” and disobedience in wartime is severely punishable, even by summary execution, so the crew obeyed the orders.

Making it Hard for Japan to Surrender

It had been only 3 days since the August 6th bomb had incinerated Hiroshima. The Nagasaki bomb was dropped amidst massive chaos and confusion in Tokyo, where the fascist military command was just beginning a meeting with the Emperor to discuss how to surrender with honor. The military and civilian leadership of both nations had known for months that Japan had lost the war.

The only obstacle to ending the war had been the Allied Powers insistence on unconditional surrender, which meant that the Emperor Hirohito would have been removed from his figurehead position in Japan and perhaps even subjected to war crime trials. That demand was intolerable for the Japanese, who regarded the Emperor as a deity.

The USSR had declared war against Japan the day before (August 8), hoping to regain territories lost to Japan in the humiliating (for Russia) Russo-Japanese War 40 years earlier, and Stalin’s army was now advancing across Manchuria. Russia’s entry into the war had been encouraged by President Truman before he knew of the success of the atom bomb test in New Mexico on July 16.

But now, Truman and his strategists knew that the bomb could elicit Japan’s surrender without Stalin’s help. So, not wanting to divide any of the spoils of war with the USSR, and because the US wanted to send an early cold war message to Russia that the US was the new planetary superpower, Truman ordered bomber command to proceed with using the atomic bombs as weather permitted and as they became available (although no more fissionable material was actually available to make a fourth bomb).

The Decision to Target Nagasaki

Truman globalresearch.caAugust 1, 1945 was the earliest deployment date for the Japanese bombing missions, and the Target Committee in Washington, D.C. had already developed a list of relatively un-damaged Japanese cities that were to be excluded from the conventional USAAF (US Army Air Force) fire-bombing campaigns (that, during the first half of 1945, had used napalm to burn to the ground over 60 essentially defenseless Japanese cities).

President Harry Truman (left)

The list of protected cities included Hiroshima, Niigata, Kokura, Kyoto and Nagasaki. Those five cities were to be off-limits to the terror bombings that the other cities were being subjected to. They were to be preserved as potential targets for the new “gimmick” weapon that had been researched and developed in labs and manufacturing plants all across America over the several years since the Manhattan Project had begun.

Ironically, prior to August 6 and 9, the residents of those five cities considered themselves lucky for not having been bombed as had the other large cities. Little did the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki know that they were only being temporarily spared from an even worse carnage in an experiment with a new weapon that could cause the mass destruction of entire cities that were populated with hundreds of thousands of live human guinea pigs.

The Trinity Test

The first and only field test of an atomic bomb had been blasphemously code-named “Trinity” (a distinctly Christian term). That experiment had occurred in secrecy 3 weeks earlier at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. The results were impressively destructive, but the blast had just killed a few hapless coyotes, rabbits, snakes and some other desert varmints. That plutonium bomb at Alamogordo had been identical to the Nagasaki bomb.

Trinity also produced huge amounts of an entirely new type of rock that was later called “Trinitite”. Trinitite was a radioactive molten lava rock that had been created from an intense heat that was twice the temperature of the sun.

At 3 am on the morning of August 9, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress bomber (that had been “christened” Bock’s Car) took off from Tinian Island in the South Pacific, with the prayers and blessings of the crew’s Lutheran and Catholic chaplains.

Barely making it off the runway before the heavily loaded plane went into the ocean (the bomb weighed 10,000 pounds), it headed north for Kokura, the primary target. Bock’s Car’s bomb was code-named “Fat Man,” partly because of its shape and partly to honor the rotund Winston Churchill. “Little Boy”, first called “Thin Man” (after President Roosevelt) was the code name of the uranium bomb that had been dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier.

Nagasaki was Being Incinerated as the Japan’s War Council was Again Debating Surrender Terms

Japan’s Supreme War Council in Tokyo, scheduled to convene their next meeting at 11 am on August 9, had absolutely no comprehension of what had really happened at Hiroshima. So the members were not inclined to heighten their sense of urgency concerning the issue of surrendering. The council was mostly concerned about Russia’s declaration of war than what was happening – as they were meeting – at Nagasaki.

But it was already too late, because by the time the War Council members were arising and heading to the meeting with the emperor, there was no chance to alter the course of history. Bock’s Car – flying under radio silence – was already approaching the southern islands of Japan, heading for Kokura, the primary target. The crew was hoping to beat an anticipated typhoon and the clouds that would have caused the mission to be delayed.

The Bock’s Car crew had instructions to drop the bomb only on visual sighting. But Kokura was clouded over. So after making three failed bomb runs over the clouded-over city and experiencing engine trouble on one of the four engines – using up valuable fuel all the while – the plane headed for its secondary target, Nagasaki.

The History of Nagasaki Christianity

Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity. The city had the largest concentration of Christians in all of Japan. St. Mary’s Cathedral was the megachurch of its time, with 12,000 baptized members.

Nagasaki was the community where the legendary Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier planted a mission church in 1549. The Catholic community at Nagasaki grew and eventually prospered over the next several generations. However it eventually became clear to the Japanese that the Catholic Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests were exploiting Japan. It only took a couple of generations before all Europeans – and their foreign religion – were expelled from the country.

From 1600 until 1850, being a Christian in Japan was a capital crime. In the early 1600s, Japanese Christians who refused to recant of their faith were subject to unspeakable tortures – including crucifixion. But after a mass crucifixion occurred, the reign of terror expired, and it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity was extinct.

However, 250 years later, after the gunboat diplomacy of US Commodore Matthew Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptized Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in secret in a catacomb-like existence, completely unknown to the government.

With this revelation, the Japanese government started another purge; but because of international pressure, the persecutions were stopped and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground. By 1917, with no financial help from the government, the re-vitalized Christian community had built the massive St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki.

Christians Killing Christians in the Name of Christ

So it was the height of irony that the massive Cathedral – one of only two Nagasaki landmarks that could be positively identified from 31,000 feet up (the other one was the Mitsubishi armaments factory complex, which had run out of raw materials because of the Allied naval blockade) became Ground Zero for Fat Man.

At 11:02 am, during Thursday morning mass, hundreds of Nagasaki Christians were boiled, evaporated, carbonized or otherwise disappeared in a scorching, radioactive fireball that exploded 500 meters above the cathedral. The black rain that soon came down from the mushroom cloud contained the mingled cellular remains of many Nagasaki Shintoists, Buddhists and Christians. The theological implications of Nagasaki’s Black Rain surely should boggle the minds of theologians of all denominations.

The Nagasaki Christian Body Count

Most Nagasaki Christians did not survive the blast. 6,000 of them died instantly, including all who were at confession that morning. Of the 12,000 church members, 8,500 of them eventually died as a result of the bomb. Many of the others were seriously sickened with a highly lethal entirely new disease: radiation sickness.

Three orders of nuns and a Christian girl’s school nearby disappeared into black smoke or became chunks of charcoal. Tens of thousands of other innocent, non-Christian non-combatants also died instantly, and many more were mortally or incurably wounded. Some of the victim’s progeny are still suffering from the trans-generational malignancies and immune deficiencies caused by the deadly plutonium and other radioactive isotopes produced by the bomb.

And here is one of the most important ironic points of this article: What the Japanese Imperial government could not do in 250 years of persecution (ie, to destroy Japanese Christianity) American Christians did in mere seconds.

Even after a slow revival of Christianity since WWII, membership in Japanese churches still represents a small fraction of 1% of the general population, and the average attendance at Christian worship services across the nation reported to be only 30 per Sunday. Surely the decimation of Nagasaki at the end of the war crippled what at one time was a vibrant church.

George Zabelka, the Catholic Chaplain for the 509th Composite Group

Father George Zabelka was the Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group (the 1500 man United States Army Air Force group whose only mission was to successfully deliver atomic bombs to their Japanese targets). Zabelka was one of the few Christian leaders who eventually came to recognize the serious contradictions between what his modern church had taught him and what the early pacifist church believed concerning homicidal violence.

Several decades after Zabelka was discharged from the military chaplaincy, he finally concluded that both he and his church had made serious ethical and theological errors in religiously legitimating the organized mass slaughter that is modern war. He eventually came to understand that (as he articulated it) “the enemy of me and the enemy of my nation is not an enemy of God. Rather my enemy and my nation’s enemy is a child of God who is loved by God and who therefore is to be loved (and not to be killed) by me as a follower of a loving God.”

Father Zabelka’s sudden conversion away from the standardized violence-tolerant Christianity changed his Detroit, Michigan ministry around 180 degrees. His absolute commitment to the truth of gospel nonviolence – just like Martin Luther King – inspired him to devote the remaining decades of his life to speaking out against violence in all its forms, including the violence of militarism, racism and economic exploitation. Zabelka travelled to Nagasaki on the 50th anniversary of the bombing, tearfully repenting and asking for forgiveness for the part he had played in the crime.

Likewise, the Lutheran chaplain for the 509th, Pastor William Downey (formerly of Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN), in his counseling of soldiers who had become troubled by their participation in making murder for the state, later denounced all killing, whether by a single bullet or by weapons of mass destruction.

Why Should Combat Veterans Embrace a Religion that Blessed the Wars that Ruined Their Souls?

In Daniel Hallock’s important book, Hell, Healing and Resistance, the author described a 1997 Buddhist retreat that was led by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. The retreat involved a number of combat-traumatized Vietnam War veterans who had left the Christianity of their birth. The veterans had responded positively to Nhat Hanh’s ministrations. Hallock wrote, “Clearly, Buddhism offers something that cannot be found in institutional Christianity. But then why should veterans embrace a religion that has blessed the wars that ruined their souls? It is no wonder that they turn to a gentle Buddhist monk to hear what are, in large part, the truths of Christ.”

Hallock’s comment should be a sobering wake-up call to Christian leaders who seem to regard as important both the recruitment of new members and the retention of old ones. The fact that the US is a highly militarized nation makes the truths of gospel nonviolence difficult to teach and preach, especially to military veterans (particularly the homeless ones) who may have lost their faith because of spiritually-traumatic horrors experienced on the battlefield.

I am a retired physician who has dealt with hundreds of psychologically traumatized patients (including combat-traumatized war veterans), and I know that violence, in all its forms, can irretrievably damage the mind, body, brain, and spirit. But the fact that the combat-traumatized type is totally preventable – and oftentimes virtually impossible to fully cure – makes prevention work really important.

An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure when it comes to combat-induced PTSD. And where Christian churches should and could be instrumental in the prevention of homicidal violence (and the soul-destroying combat PTSD) is by counseling their members to not participate in it, as the ethics of the nonviolent Jesus surely guided the pacifist church in the first 3 centuries of its existence.


Experiencing violence can be deadly and sometimes it is even contagious. I have seen violence, neglect, abuse and the resultant traumatic illnesses spread through both military and non-military families – even involving the 3rd and 4th generations after the initial victimizations. And that has been the experience of the hibakusha (the long-suffering atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and their progeny and it has been the experience of the warrior-perpetrators (and their victims) who experienced the acts of killing in any war, not just WWII.

What Should be the Church’s Role in the Mass Slaughter of War?

Years ago I saw an unpublished Veteran’s Administration study that showed that, whereas most Vietnam War-era soldiers were active members of Christian churches before they went off to war, if they came home with PTSD, the percentage returning to their faith community approached zero. Daniel Hallock’s sobering message above helps explain why that is so.

Therefore the church – at least by its silence on the issue of war – seems to be promoting homicidal violence, contrary to the ethical teachings of Jesus, by failing to teach what the primitive church understood was one of the core teachings of Jesus, who said, in effect, that “violence is forbidden for those who wish to follow me”.

Therefore, by refraining from warning their adolescent members about the faith- and soul-destroying realities of war, the church is directly undermining the “retention” strategies in which all churches engage. The hidden history of Nagasaki has valuable lessons for American Christianity.

The Bock’s Car Crew and the Chain of Command

The Bock’s Car bomber crew, as are conscripted or enlisted men in any war, was at the bottom of a long, complex, and very anonymous chain of command whose superiors demand unconditional obedience from those below them in the chain. The Bock’s Car crew had been ordered to “pull the trigger” of the lethal weapon that had been conceptualized, designed, funded, manufactured and armed by other entities, none of whom would feel morally responsible for doing the dirty deed. As is true in all wars, the soldier trigger-pullers are usually the ones blamed for the killing and therefore they often feel the post-war guilt that is a large part of combat-induced PTSD. However their religious chaplains who are responsible for the morals of their soldiers, may share their guilt feelings. Both groups are down at the bottom of the chain of command, but neither group knows exactly who they are trying to kill the “enemy” – or why.

Hopefully this essay will promote needed discussions about the ethics of making murder for the state while simultaneously – and illogically – professing allegiance to the teachings of the nonviolent Jesus.

The early church leaders, who knew the teachings and actions of Jesus best, rejected the nationalist, racist and militarist agendas of the national security agencies, the military-industrial complex, the war-profiteering corporations and the pre-Christian eye-for-an-eye retaliation doctrines that have, over the past 1700 years, enabled baptized Christians to willingly kill other Christians (not to mention non-Christians) in the name of Christ.

The hidden history of Nagasaki should be instructive for a struggling American Christianity.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician who practiced holistic mental health care for the last decade of his career. In his practice he often dealt with the horrific psychological consequences of veterans (and civilians) who had suffered psychological, neurological and/or spiritual trauma during incidents of violence (including basic training and combat).

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The 73d Anniversary of the Bombing of Nagasaki: Unwelcome Truths for Church and State

The Iraq Protests and Implications for “Political Stability”

August 14th, 2018 by Nagapushpa Devendra

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Earlier this month, bringing in foreign workers by some oil companies in Iraq was seen by the local labour as a grave threat to their livelihood. Despite the high unemployment rates among Iraqis, the government has allowed the foreign firms and agencies to recruit approximately 200,000 foreign workers so far. Many of these are employed illegally in Iraq. The fervour of Iraqis reached its peak when Iran, one of its biggest trading partners, cut electricity supply due to Iraq’s unpaid bills of around $1 billion on July 9, exacerbating country’s electricity crisis amid the suffocating heat waves of more than 50 degrees Celsius. While few Iraqis could afford fleeing the country, others are outraged at power cuts and blame the government for corruption and mismanagement. 

Hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets, demanding actions to tackle corruption, to bolster the weak economy and to improve the provision of basic services. Since employment is their major demand, the protestors mostly targeted economic sites such as Umm Qasr port, Zubayr oil field and Shiba gas field in Basra. In a matter of days, the protest that resonated in Basra, quickly spread like a copious cloud to other provinces like Maysan, Karbala, Najaf, Babel, and Dhi Qar, taking the government by surprise. 

This massive movement, with the potential to reshape Iraq was simmering with sulking water security that worsened after Turkey threatened to construct a dam, reducing the flow from the Tigris River into the Mosul Dam Lake. It was followed by Iran’s announcement in June that its massive new water project, which would divert the waters from west to the parched parts of east in the country, is at its edge of completion. In other words, it means diversion the waters of the little Zab and Sirwan rivers, both of which flow into Iraqi Kurdistan. The Middle East is already grappling with a crippling water shortage that shows few signs of abating. This year, rain too has failed them. Under these circumstances, the competition over shared water resources between these three countries is all set to intensify. Without an effective working mechanism, water conflict could potentially become a serious challenge to Iraq’s bilateral relationship with Iran and Turkey. 

Instead of addressing the water disputes however, the Iraqi government has set its priority in resolving reports of frauds, vote rigging and political interference that took place during the 12 May elections. In the post-ISIS era, politics in Iraq has become livelihood of the Iraqi judiciary, bureaucrats, and the political elites who are thoroughly engaged in the manual recount of ballots. Few of them are also insisting on re-election and are willing to go at any such lengths to secure few of additional seats in the parliament. The political infighting among the Iraqi parties is not only delaying the formation of the new government but also has proven to be an impediment in the governance of the country. As a result, Iraqi’s trust in government and political parties has reached a historical low. It appears that they like the idea of democracy but loathe the reality. 

The Iraq government’s failure to address water shortage has also widened the tribal dispute in the southern Dhi Qar province. According to Mayor Hussein Ali Raddad of the Isah district alone, there were nearly 20 clashes over water scarcity in recent months. The effect of drought has also provided a pretext for the revival of ISIS.  The affiliates of the Islamic State is trying to tap the grievances of farmers, who feel abandoned by their leaders and were ripe for recruitment. Already battered with the government’s shoddy policies which hobbled agriculture and impoverished its dependents, these farmers were in no state to navigate the extra challenges caused due to lack of basic services and necessity. 

While few villages emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists foremost recruiting ground, others decided to move into urban cities to find an alternate jobs to sustain their families’ livelihood. But, the situation there was not any more different than the rural areas. The unemployment ratio is about twice as high, especially among the poorest households and governates mostly affected by ISIS-related violence. As per the World Bank reports of April 2018, the poverty rate in Iraq had increased from 18.9 % in 2012 to an estimated 22.5% in 2014. It has gone further up in the later years. The recent labour market statistics suggest further deterioration of the poverty situation due to the markedly dropping participation rate of youths (ages 15-24) since the onset of the crisis in 2014, from 32.5% to 27.4%. 

Left with nowhere to go, these young and old peasants, men and women are on the streets, halting along the roads, calling for a revolution against their leaders. These protestors least concerned about the consequences, are suffering because of unpayable debts, water-energy scarcity and zero government relief.  Even though the Iraqi government keeps chanting that farmers are the backbone of the economy, no one seems to care about them in actuality. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has alternated between trying to suppress the protest by shutting the internet service and, more ominously had redeployed counterterrorism force who were given orders to arrest all demonstrators, and forcibly break the protest. Apparently, the Iraqi security force had beaten and fired on the protestors, killing and wounding more than 800.  

Moreover, the government crackdown featuring multiple arrests of organizers, activists, and journalists is an attempt to diminish the size and scope of the protest. Abadi even tried to appease the protestors by suspending his electricity minister, Qassim al-Fahdawi, while his government investigates the ministry and the poor state of electricity service in Iraq. He also offered nearly $3 billion (3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars) for new utility-related projects in Basra. However, the offer is a long-term project and will not address the current need of the protestors. Also considering Abadi’s rhetoric dishonesties, one cannot trust his commitment especially when there is a slim chance of regaining his premiership with the next government. 

On the other side, Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of Iraq’s largest party (Sairoon) in the recent elections, expressed support for the protestors and called for the formation of Iraq’s next government to be further delayed until their demands have been addressed. Here, the problem is that these demand cannot be resolved overnight. In order to pay attention to the emerging crisis and demands that embody them, transformation and formation of the government is must. A government with structural and normative change with a systematic body is necessary to address past and present needs of Iraqi citizens. While others ignored this fact, Iraq’s top Shi’a leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, recognized the importance of a new functional and effective government. He delivered a sermon that called for political factions to get over their differences and form a new government which can tackle the endemic corruption that’s triggered the protests across the country. Sistani is not a political actor but he is immensely influential and his words carry enormous weight amongst the Iraqi Shi’a.

Along with the grand leader, the neighbouring countries especially Kuwait is concerned about brewing instability which has the potential to push Iraqi refugees into the country. As a result, Kuwait decided to help Iraq by supplying fuel for its power plants and has also expressed its willingness to help with desalination effort to improve Iraq’s water supply. Amidst the anti-Iranian and anti-Turkish sentiment amongst Iraqis, Saudi Arabia has also suggested that it will build a solar power plant and sell its electricity to Baghdad for around quarter of what Iran was charging. While the Iraqis say that they are still evaluating this proposal, which would obviously be a way for Riyadh to undermine Iran’s influence in Iraq, Iranian have not yet commented on this alleged offer. However, the Iranians have reportedly reached an agreement with Iraq to block heavily polluted and salty water from Tehran’s Karun River from reaching Bagdad’s Shatt al-Arab waterway, the river formed by the joining of the Tigris and Euphrates. Salty water in the Shatt al-Arab has become a major issue in terms of both irrigation and drinking water in southern Iraq. While these external factors ticked down the protest, Iraq and its government is still in a mess. 

It has been a year since Iraqis achieved liberation from ISIS, yet the situation remains unlivable. So far, the international community/allies have contributed $30billion dollar to rebuild areas damaged during the war against ISIS. But, the reconstruction project has been hampered by corruption, mismanagement and dysfunctional governance. Apparently, hundreds of billions in oil revenues have been syphoned out of the country by the elites. Even if Iraq is rebuilt, lingering distrust and ongoing sectarian-ethnic violence will continue to ruin Iraq in the post-ISIS era. Shia and Kurd forces who participated in the operation against ISIS are reluctant to allow Sunni Arabs to return home due to unjustified fears that they might have a link to ISIS. And it is the Iraqi government’s inability to provide security assurances that contribute to such fear. Thus, it is significant to Iraq to form a new government which ought to take charge of the situation in terms of addressing energy, water and security crisis, followed by corruption and unemployment. If they dwell further on the electoral frauds, other pertinent issues of governance would remain to be languishing without being adequately addressed. 

*

Nagapushpa Devendra is a researcher at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. She can be reached at [email protected]. 

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Iraq Protests and Implications for “Political Stability”

Video: Syria, De-escalation and Counter-Terrorism

August 14th, 2018 by South Front

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

On August 13, Russian air defense forces intercepted and destroyed 5 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) near Khmeimim Air Base in the province of Latakia. According to the head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria, Maj. Gen. Alexei Tsygankov, the UAVs were launched by militants from the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Over the past month, UAV attacks on Russia’s airbase have turned into an almost everyday occurrence. On August 12, Russian forces intercepted 2 UAVs and on August 11, one. UAV attacks on the airbase also took place on August 10, July 30 and July 21. All of them were repelled.

The UAV attacks from the Idlib de-escalation zone on Russian military facilities have increased as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and other militant groups are seeing them as one of the very few options to deliver damage to Russian forces and to deliver a PR blow to the Russian military presence in the country.

On the other hand, these attacks show that the de-escalation agreement does not work. Terrorist groups operating in the area are not seeking to join a peace process or surrender. The only thing stopping them from a direct advance on government positions surrounding the militant-held part of the provinces of Latakia, Idlib and Aleppo is the open secret that they will be defeated in any face-to-face battle with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

The SAA and its allies have retaken Abu Ghanim Mount and secured the Ruhba area in the province of Rif Dimash in the framework of their security operation against ISIS cells. Additionally, government troops advanced on ISIS cells’ positions in the areas of Ardh Al-Banat, Durs, Shir Tur Al-Hawiyah and Rujm Mughrabah.

At least 17 airstrikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force on ISIS targets in the Safa area were reported.

Considering the speed of the ongoing SAA advance in Safa, the ISIS presence in the area will be eliminated soon. However, this does not mean that ISIS will no longer pose a threat to the government-controlled area.

According to a UN report released on August 13, there are still from 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS members in Syria and Iraq.

The media wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released an official statement commenting on rumors disseminated by the Turkish media that 1,300 members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) may participate in the expected SAA operation in Idlib.

The SDF media wing claimed  that these reports are untrue and further stated that there are no negotiations or coordination with “the Syrian regime”. While there is nothing new in the fact that the SDF will not be involved in the expected Idlib advance, there are two interesting moments in this statement:

  1. In the August 13 statement, the SDF directly described itself as an entity created as another brand for the YPG and the PKK in Syria. Turkish media had referred to these very groups in its rumors, but a response came from the SDF.
  2. The SDF’s claims about no coordination and negotiations with the Assad government are false. For example, in late July, a high profile delegation of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) – the political wing of the SDF – visited Damascus for negotiations with the Syrian government. After this, SDF-, SDC- and YPG-linked public figures have made a series of statements confirming the existing negotiations and coordination with Damascus in the political sphere and a possible cooperation in the military sphere.

This situation shows that there is at least a hidden rift within the US-backed group. On the official level, the Kurdish-dominated SDF seeks to maintain its image as a reliable “proxy” of the US in Syria and provides an official media policy based on the MSM text book. This approach, especially when it’s employed roughly, creates the situation that the SDF’s official statements contradict the actions of the SDF and the most influential groups within it, like the YPG, on the ground.

*

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

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Video: Syria, De-escalation and Counter-Terrorism

Syria: The Return of Refugees to Their Homeland

August 14th, 2018 by Sophie Mangal

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

For the first time since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011 a significant number of international experts, political analysts, and journalists have reported about the near conclusion of the war. The military operation of the Syrian Arab Army on the liberation of the rest part of the country from various terrorist organizations is currently in the final stage. Peace and stability gradually return to the liberated areas.

The return of refugees to their homes is a key priority in the restoration of the whole country. At the same time, the creation of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Accommodation that is ready to accommodate more than 360,000 people in various cities has also become an additional impetus. The Syrian President Bashar Assad highly appreciated the efforts of Russia on the return of the refugees to their homeland, adding that Damascus is ready to accept back all its citizens.

It’s worth noting that Syrian refugees have gradually started to return home. According to the Russian center, the total number of people returned from Lebanon to Syria since July 18, 2018, has reached 4174, and this number keeps growing. Only for the past several days, due to the efforts of the Syrian government, more than 900 people have returned home from Lebanon. Muhammad Deeb, a returning refugee, says,

“We fled to Lebanon because of terrorism, but my life has been full of indignity and misery since I left Zabadani in 2011. I’m very thankful that Syria is again as safe as ever, so we can go back to our homeland.”

At the same time, refugees started to return from Jordan. Thus, hundreds of civilians have already passed through the al-Nasib crossing point in the first days of its operation. There is no doubt that the number of refugees will continue growing, as the Jordanian authorities intend to cooperate actively with the Syrian government on this issue.

Syria Returns Its Citizens

Source: author

It’s not a secret that a considerable number of the Syrian refugees remain in Europe. Moreover, it is surprising to witness the inactivity of European officials who continuously declare about the increase in crime level and economic problems associated with the influx of migrants.

Most likely, they decided to ignore the problems of Syria, pretending that this does not concern them.

In doing so, the European authorities forget that thousands of people separated from their family members and dreaming of returning home still remain in their states. Perhaps, the Western countries are still not ready to accept the fact that Bashar al-Assad remains the head of the state. That’s why the statement of France’s Permanent Representative to the UN Francois Delattre that France won’t take part in the restoration of the humanitarian situation in Syria until the political changes, looks quite cynical.

It’s high time for the West to acknowledge that the Syrian Arab Army and the allied forces are the only power that succeeded in fighting international terrorism and bringing peace and stability. The resolution of the crisis is quite close, but the European leaders must realize that the full settlement of the Syrian crisis is impossible without resolving some humanitarian issues. In particular, the return of refugees. Both the Syrians and Europeans are interested in this.

*

Sophie Mangal is a special investigative writer and contributor, monitoring the refugee crisis in Europe and drawing parallels between the Syrian conflict and the Balkan problem. She has visited Syria on several occasions and can be reached at [email protected]

Patriotism Has Been Turned Against Patriots

August 14th, 2018 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

To understand how screwed-up America is, consider that patriotism is now associated with the suppression of dissent.

Rich football team owners, who know nothing of the hard lives of most Americans, and the police, who routinely shoot down black people in the streets and in their homes without accountability or due process, are incensed that three Miami Dolphin players kneeled last week during the national anthem to protest the unaccountable police murders of black US citizens.

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association rushed to cut off its nose to spite its face by announcing that it will no longer be part of the Dolphin’s discount ticket program. Now if a cop wants to go to a game, he has to pay full price.

Those who rule us want all protests to occur on an isolated street corner where police can taser and beat the protester without any public notice. They do not want protests at football games where there are tens of thousands of people watching in the stands and millions on television. In such a visible venue, the police cannot taser and beat the protesters.

Moveover, the protests get noticed and cause Americans to wonder what has happened that is so disturbing that black professional athletes risk their highly paid livelihoods for the sake of a public protest. Colin Kaepernick, who originated the protests was fired as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers for exercising his constitutional rights and has been blacklisted by rich NFL team owners.

Those who protest the protesters are the unAmericans. They are the stupid agents of those who have turned America into a police/warfare state that neglects the needs of its own people in order to serve the greed of the military/security complex and global exploitative corporations.

I am always discouraged when ordinary Americans, themselves victims of the system, say, “well, they can protest but not during the anthem or at a public event.” Those who say this have no idea what an American is.

As Americans themselves no longer know what it means to be an American, little wonder they have lost their country.

*

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

V. S. Naipaul, the Nobel winning author who just died, was, like so many people, an enigma, at least in his writing.  Lauded for his prose style and exquisite way with words, he was seriously criticized for his demeaning of Islam, women, Africans, and others in post-colonial countries, including the Caribbean from whence he came.  Such criticism was amply justified.  He seems also to have been bigoted and irascible personally, while charming when he wished.  A strange character, many of whose political and cultural views I find abhorrent.

Nevertheless, if one only looked for beauty and truth in writers whose politics one agreed with, one would miss out on a lot.  For sometimes, despite themselves, writers pen words that come from a place where art and inspiration and personal anguish subvert their worst inclinations.  As Leonard Cohen has written:

“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” 

This is true for Naipaul.

He once said that fiction never lies, and while this may or may not be true, it is true that writers whose politics one may find repulsive can also, despite their conscious intentions, write books that glow with an extraordinary prose luminescence that mesmerizes and reveals deep insights. 

This is the case with Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival, a work he calls a novel but that reads like an autobiography.  While his novel, A House for Mr Biswas, is considered his finest work and the book that made him famous, I think The Enigma of Arrival is a masterpiece. Deeply melancholic, it allows Naipaul’s shadow side to reveal truths that go far beyond the man himself.

The prototype for all journeys is life itself.  This being so, it follows that every destination prefigures death and of necessity poses an enigma.  For although one travels in part to arrive, at the same time one’s anticipation of arrival harbors the fear of cessation.  It is because every elsewhere contains the worm of death that some people never embark on the voyage, while others go from “place” to “place” in search of paradise.

Naipaul cast anchor at the age of 18, leaving Trinidad for a scholarship at Oxford in England where – aside from numerous travels, especially in the Third World – he lived most of his life.  Setting out with a wish not “so much to go to Oxford as a wish to get out of Trinidad and see the great world and make myself a writer,” this young man of Indian ancestry, a child of crumbling colonialism, took with him a temperament “to see the possibility, the certainty, of ruin, even at the moment of creation.”  In other words, a true writer’s temperament, the sensibility of one who knows intuitively that the journey into the unknown never ends; “that,” as he would gradually learn, “to be a writer was not (as I had imagined) a state – of competence, or achievement, or fame, or content – at which one arrived and where one stayed…It was always necessary to pick oneself up and start again.”

Outwardly at least, the story Naipaul tells in The Enigma of Arrival is impersonal, slow-paced and almost boring in its progression (much like ordinary life).  After twenty years in England – “savorless and much of it mean” – having failed in his effort to leave England with its history of colonial exploitation and become “a free man,” his spirit broken and his nerves shattered, he settles in a “cottage of a half-neglected estate, an estate full of reminders of its Edwardian past” on the Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge.

There, in a part of England renowned for its historical and religious past – “a vast sacred burial ground” – he finds in his solitude and daily walks “a second chance, a new life, richer and fuller than any I had had anywhere else.”  He learns to see nature with new eyes and to take solace in “the child’s dream of a safe house in the wood.”  In the garden of a local man – “Jack’s Garden,” the book’s opening section – he comes to see a celebration of “something like religion.”  Jack, in his way of life, “had sensed that life and man were the true mysteries.” 

But Jack dies; the estate’s slow decay precipitates; the deadly sounds from the nearby army training grounds echo in the author’s ears; a fellow writer, one who suffered, like Naipaul, from a “too-literary approach to his experience,” kills himself; a woman is murdered.  In short, into his natural paradise, albeit a ruinous and derelict one (its appeal for Naipaul, the unanchored, dispossessed outsider), the snake of death and destruction crawls.  Having stayed too long in this place that he loved, Naipaul falls ill; his “second childhood of seeing and learning” comes to an end.  He moves, but just a few miles away, to a few old agricultural cottages that he converts into a house.  A mistake, he later realizes.  “I should have made a clean break, gone elsewhere.” 

But where?  For at the heart of his pilgrimage is an image from which his book’s title derives.  It is a painting by Giorgio de Chirico, “The Enigma of Arrival,” so named by the poet Apollinaire.  It is a scene of a wharf; in the background rises the mast of an antique sailing ship; in the foreground stand two figures, muffled and mysterious.  In his fascination with this painting, Naipaul imagined a story of a man who arrived at this port, enters the city, has encounters and adventures, but gradually has the feeling that he is getting nowhere.  In his lostness and panic, he miraculously finds his way back to the quayside in order to escape.

But to where?  And how?  In the concluding section of this moving book – “The Ceremony of Farewell” – Naipaul’s sister dies of a brain hemorrhage.  He returns to Trinidad to be with his family.  During a Hindu ceremony for his sister, her husband says to the Hindu pundit conducting the rites, “ ‘I would like to see her again.’“  There were tears in his eyes.  “The pundit didn’t give a straight reply….Sati’s son asked, ‘Will she come back?’  Sati’s husband asked, ‘Will we be together again?’  The pundit said, ‘But you wouldn’t know it is her.’ “

“It was,” writes Naipaul, “the pundit’s interpretation of the idea of reincarnation.  And it was no comfort at all.  It reduced Sati’s husband to despair.”

And with that recollected dialogue, with its abstract commentary on everyone’s last port of call, Naipaul reveals the anguish at the heart of his journey.  “There was no ship of antique shape now to take us back,” he sadly notes.  The old sanctities, the sacred world had vanished.  He concludes:

Every generation now was to take us further away from those sanctities.  But we remade the world for ourselves; every generation does that, as we found when we came together for the death of this sister and felt the need to honor and remember.  It forced us to look on death.  It forced me to face the death I had been contemplating at night, in my sleep; it fitted a real grief where melancholy had created a vacancy, as if to prepare me for the moment.  It showed me life and man as the mystery, the true religion of men, the grief and the glory.

And it brought Naipaul to begin writing this book and to discover in the end that one arrives at oneself or not at all.  Whether he did or not, no one can say.  Is he still sailing?  No one can say?  Has he arrived?  No one can say.  But he left us with this deeply evocative meditation on life and death in the modern world, a world in which, despite science and technology, the old questions remain to haunt us –  the enigmas.

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on A Writer’s Last Port of Call: Nobel Winning Author V. S. Naipaul
  • Tags:

America’s Militarized Economy

August 14th, 2018 by Eric Zuesse

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Donald Trump’s biggest success, thus far into his Presidency, has been his sale of $400 billion (originally $350 billion) of U.S.-made weapons to the Saudi Arabian Government, which is owned by its royal family, after whom that nation is named. This sale alone is big enough to be called Trump’s “jobs plan” for Americans. It is also the biggest weapons-sale in all of history. It’s 400 billion dollars, not 400 million dollars; it is gigantic, and, by far, unprecedented in world-history.

The weapons that the Sauds and their friends, the 7 monarchies that constitute the United Arab Emirates, are using right now, in order to conquer and subdue Yemen, are almost entirely made in America. That’s terrific business for America.

Not only are Americans employed, in strategically important congressional districts (that is, politically important congressional districts), to manufacture this equipment for mass-murdering in foreign lands that never threatened (much less invaded) America, but the countries that purchase this equipment are thereby made dependent upon the services of those American manufacturers, and of the taxpayer-funded U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and its private military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, to maintain this equipment, and to train the local military enforcers, on how to operate these weapons. Consequently, foreign customers of U.S. military firms are buying not only U.S. weapons, but the U.S. Government’s protection — the protection by the U.S. military, of those monarchs.

They are buying the label of being an “American ally” so that the U.S. news media can say that this is in defense of American allies (regardless of whether it’s even that).

American weapons are way overpriced for what they can do, but they are a bargain for what they can extract out of America’s taxpayers, who fund the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and thus fund the protection of those monarchs: these kings and other dictators get U.S. taxpayers to fund their protection. It’s an international protection-racket funded by American taxpayers and those rulers, in order to protect those rulers; and the victims aren’t only the people who get slaughtered in countries such as Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Libya, and Syria, and Yemen, and Palestine, but also (though only financially) are the American public, who get fleeced by it — the American public provide the bulk of the real funding for this operation to expand the lands where America’s allies rule, and so to serve both America’s aristocracy and the aristocracies that are America’s allies.

This is how today’s America enforces its ‘democracy’ around the world, so that America can spread this ‘democracy’, at gunpoint, and at bomb-point, like America’s allies, those Kings and Emirs, and the apartheid regime in Israel, are doing, to the people whom they kill and conquer, with help from the taxpayer-funded American military — funded to protect those aristocrats, against their respective publics, and to further enrich America’s own aristocrats, at the expense of America’s own public.

The global ‘aggressor’ has been identified by America’s previous President, Barack Obama, who won office like Trump did, by promising ‘a reset’ in relations with post-communist Russia, and by mocking Obama’s opponent (Mitt Romney) for having called Russia “the number one geopolitical foe” — which America’s aristocracy has historically considered Russia to be, ever since the aristocracy in Russia fled and were killed in 1917, which caused America’s and other aristocracies to fear and hate Russia and Russians, for having ousted its aristocracy, this being an act that aristocrats everywhere are determined to avenge, regardless of ‘ideology’. (Similarly, America and its pro-aristocracy foreign allies, seek to avenge Iran’s 1979 overthrow of the Shah.) As Obama’s own actions during his subsequent Presidency made clear, and as he already had started in 2011 (if not from day one of his Presidency) secretly to implement, he privately agreed with what Romney said on that occasion, but he was intelligent enough (which his opponent obviously was not) to recognize that the American public, at that time, did not agree with it but instead believed that Islamic terrorists and aristocrats such as the Sauds who finance them are that); and Obama took full advantage of his opponent’s blunder there, which helped Obama to win a second term in the White House (after having skillfully hidden from the public during his first term, his intention to weaken Russia by eliminating leaders who were friends or even allies of Russia, such as in Syria, and Ukraine).

This is American ‘democracy’, after all (rule by deceit, lies), and that’s the reason why, when Russia, in 2014, responded to the U.S. coup in Ukraine (a coup under the cover of anti-corruption demonstrations) which coup was taking over this large country next-door to Russia and thus constituted a deadly threat to Russia’s national security, Obama declared Russia to be the world’s top ‘aggressor’. Obama overthrew Ukraine and then damned Russia’s leader Putin for responding to Obama’s aggressive threat against Russia from this coup in neighboring Ukraine. Russia was supposedly the ‘aggressor’ because it allowed the residents of Crimea — which had been part of Russia until the Soviet dictator in 1954 had arbitrarily handed Crimea to Ukraine — to become Russian citizens again, Russians like 90% of them felt they still were, despite Khrushchev’s transfer of them to Ukraine in 1954. The vast majority of Crimeans felt themselves still to be Russians. But Obama and allies of the U.S. Government insisted that the newly installed Government of Ukraine must rule those people; those people must not be permitted to rule (or be ruled) by people they’ve participated in choosing.

Ever since at least 2011, the U.S. Government was planning to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected Government; and the plan started being put into action by no later than 1 March 2013 inside America’s Ukrainian Embassy. In preparation for this planned coup (“the most blatant coup in history”), a poll of Crimeans was funded by the International Republican Institute and USAID, in which Gallup scientifically sampled Crimeans during 16-30 May 2013, six months prior to the forced rejection on 20 November 2013 of EU membership by Ukraine’s democratically elected government — that’s six months prior to the Ukrainian Government’s rejection that Obama’s team were intending to use as being the pretext for the anti-Government demonstrations, which would start on Kiev’s Maidan Square the day after this forced rejection, on November 21st. The poll of Crimeans (which was made public on 7 October 2013) found (here are highlights):

p.14:
“If Ukraine was able to enter only one international economic union, which entity should it be with?”
53% “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”
17% “The European Union”
p.15:
“How would you evaluate your attitude to the following entities?”
“Russia”: 68% “Warm”; 5% “Cold”
“USA”: 6% “Warm”; 24% “Cold”
p.17:
“In your opinion, what should the status of Crimea be?”
“Autonomy in Ukraine (as today [under Crimea’s 1992 Constitution and as subsequently celebrated by RFE/RL on 20 January 2011] )”: 53%.
“Common oblast of Ukraine [ruled under Ukraine’s 1991 Constitution]”: 2%.
“Crimea should be separated and given to Russia”: 23%.

In other words: prior to the U.S. State Department and CIA operation to steal Ukraine’s government from Ukraine’s citizens — including especially from the residents of the sole autonomously governed region in Ukraine, which was Crimea — 53% of Crimeans wanted continued autonomy, 23% wanted not only a total break away from the Ukrainian Government but their becoming again citizens of Russia, such as had existed until 1954; and only 2% wanted restoration of the situation in 1991 when Crimea was briefly a “common oblast” or regular region within Ukraine, a federal state within Ukraine just like all the other states within Ukraine were. And, obviously, after America’s coup in Ukraine, the percentage who wanted a total break away from Ukraine rose even higher than it had been before.

Consequently, the U.S. demand that the newly imposed Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s coup created, made upon Crimea subsequent to the coup, and which demand both Obama and his successor Trump insist must be imposed upon and obeyed by Crimeans if the anti-Russia sanctions are even possibly to end, is the demand that Crimeans, in that May 2013 poll, even prior to the bloody Obama coup and the takeover of Ukraine by rabidly anti-Crimean Ukrainian nazis, had supported by only 2% (it was demanding reimposition of the brief 1991 Ukrainian relationship, which Crimeans had rejected in 1991), as compared to the 53% of Crimeans who favored continuation of Crimean “autonomy,” and the 23% who favored becoming Russians again.

Furthermore, the May 2013 poll showed that only 17% of Crimeans favored becoming part of the EU, whereas 53% preferred to be part of the “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”; so, clearly, Crimeans, prior to the democratically elected Ukrainian Government’s having declined the EU’s offer, overwhelmingly wanted Ukraine’s democratically elected Government to do precisely what it did — to turn down the EU’s offer.

During the U.S. coup, and immediately after it, until the 16 March 2014 Crimean referendum on what to do about it, Crimeans saw and heard on television and via the other Ukrainian media, reports that could only have terrified them about the new Government’s intentions. Clearly the U.S. regime had no objection to placing nazis in charge, and Crimeans are intensely anti-nazi — not only anti-Nazi during Hitler’s time, but against nazism, the racist-fascist ideology, itself, regardless of which group it’s targeting; but, in their case, it targets Crimeans, and, more broadly, Russians.

A January 2015 poll of Crimeans was financed by rabidly anti-Russian Ukrainians in Canada and released in early February, and it found (probably to their enormous disappointment) that 93% of respondents did “endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea” and 4% did not. On 16 March 2015, the U.S. State Department issued a statement: “On this one year anniversary of the sham ‘referendum’ in Crimea, held in clear violation of Ukrainian law and the Ukrainian constitution, the United States reiterates its condemnation of a vote that was not voluntary, transparent, or democratic.” No evidence was provided for any of that assertion, simply the allegation. Four days later, the far more honest Kenneth Rapoza at Forbes headlined “One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea,” and he opened:

The U.S and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves. But the Crimeans are happy right where they are. One year after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, poll after poll shows that the locals there — be they Ukrainians, ethnic Russians or Tatars are mostly all in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.
Little has changed over the last 12 months. Despite huge efforts on the part of Kiev, Brussels, Washington and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the bulk of humanity living on the Black Sea peninsula believe the referendum to secede from Ukraine was legit. At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.

The U.S. and its allies have a different idea than that. They reject Rapoza’s view.

The United States claims to support ‘democracy’. But it demands imposition upon Crimeans of a rabidly anti-Crimean Government. What kind of ‘democracy’ does the United States actually support? Has the U.S. Government answered that question in Crimea — and, in Ukraine — by its actions there? Obama supported this kind of ‘democracy’, and this kind. He wanted this kind of treatment of Crimeans. Trump hasn’t yet made clear whether he does, too; but his official representatives have made clear that they do.

America has a militarized economy. It also currently has the very highest percentage of its people in prison out of all of the world’s 222 countriesand so certainly qualifies as a police state (which Americans who are lucky enough to be not amongst the lower socio-economic classes might find to be a shocking thing to assert). On top of that, everyone knows that America’s military spending is by far the highest in the world, but many don’t know that it’s the most corrupt and so the U.S. actually spends around half of the entire world’s military budget and that the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department is even so corrupt that it has been unauditable and thus unaudited for decades, and that many U.S. military programs are counted in other federal departments in order to hide from the public how much is actually being spent each year on the military, which is well over a trillion dollars annually, probably more than half of all federal discretionary (which excludes interest on the debt, some of which pays for prior wars) spending. So, it’s a very militarized economy, indeed.

This is today’s American ‘democracy’. Is it also ‘democracy’ in America’s allied countries? (Obviously, they are more democratic than America regarding just the incarceration-rate; but what about generally?) Almost all of those countries continue to say that America is a democracy (despite the proof that it is not), and that they are likewise. Are they correct in both? Are they allied with a ‘democracy’ against democracy? Or, are they, in fact, phonies as democracies? These are serious questions, and bumper-sticker answers to them won’t suffice anymore — not after invading Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011, and Syria right afterward, and Ukraine in 2014, and Yemen today, etc.

Please send this article along to friends, and ask for their thoughts about this. Because, in any actual democracy, everyone should be discussing these issues, under the prevailing circumstances. Taxpayer-funded mass-slaughter is now routine and goes on year after year. After a few decades of this, shouldn’t people start discussing the matter? Why haven’t they been? Isn’t this the time to start? Or is America so much of a dictatorship that it simply won’t happen? We’ll see.

*

This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

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. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on America’s Militarized Economy

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

There is almost unanimous agreement among climate scientists and organizations – that is, 97% of over 10,000 climate scientists and the various scientific organizations engaged in climate science research – that human beings have caused a dramatic increase in the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide released into Earth’s atmosphere since the pre-industrial era and that this is driving the climate catastrophe that continues to unfold. For the documentary evidence on this point see, for example, ‘Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature’, ‘Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming’ and ‘Scientists Agree: Global Warming is Happening and Humans are the Primary Cause’.

However, there is no consensus regarding the timeframe in which this climate catastrophe will cause human extinction. This lack of consensus is primarily due to the global elite controlling the public perception of this timeframe with frequent talk of ‘the end of the century’ designed to allow ongoing profit maximization through ‘business as usual’ for as long as possible. Why has this happened?

When evidence of the climate catastrophe (including the pivotal role of burning fossil fuels) became incontrovertible, which meant that the fossil fuel industry’s long-standing efforts to prevent action on the climate catastrophe had finally ended, the industry shifted its focus to arguing that the timeframe, which it presented as ‘end of the century’, meant that we could defer action (and thus profit-maximization through business as usual could continue indefinitely). Consequently, like the tobacco, sugar and junk food industries, the fossil fuel industry has employed a range of tactics to deflect attention from their primary responsibility for a problem and to delay action on it.

These well-worn tactics include suggesting that the research is incomplete and more research needs to be done, funding ‘research’ to come up with ‘evidence’ to counter the climate science, employing scholars to present this ‘research’, discrediting honest climate scientists, infiltrating regulatory bodies to water down (or reverse) decisions and recommendations that would adversely impact profits, setting up ‘concerned’ groups to act as ‘fronts’ for the industry, making generous political donations to individuals and political parties as well as employing lobbyists.

As a result of its enormous power too, the global elite has been able to control much of the funding available for climate science research and a great deal of the information about it that is made widely available to the public, particularly through its corporate media. For this reason, the elite wields enormous power to shape the dialogue in relation to both the climate science and the timeframe.

Therefore, and despite the overwhelming consensus noted above, many climate scientists are reluctant to be fully truthful about the state of the world’s climate or they are just conservative in their assessments of the climate catastrophe. For example, eminent climate scientist Professor James Hansen referred to ‘scientific reticence’ in his article ‘Scientific reticence and sea level rise’, scientists might be conservative in their research – for example, dependence upon historical records leads to missing about one-fifth of global warming since the 1860s as explained in ‘Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth’ – and, in some cases, governments muzzle scientists outright. See ‘Scientist silencing continues for federally-funded research’. But many of the forces working against full exposure of the truth are explained in Professor Guy McPherson’s article ‘Climate-Change Summary and Update’.

However, in contrast to the elite-managed mainstream narrative regarding the climate timeframe, there is a group of courageous and prominent climate scientists who offer compelling climate science evidence that human beings, along with millions of other species, will be extinct by 2026 (and perhaps as early as 2021) in response to a projected 10 degree celsius increase in global temperatures above the pre-industrial level by that date. See ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’

Before outlining the essence of this article, it is worth noting that the website on which it is posted is ‘Arctic News’ and the editors of this site post vital articles on the world’s climate by highly prominent climate scientists, such as Professor Peter Wadhams (Emeritus Professor of Polar Ocean Physics at Cambridge University and author of A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic), Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleoclimate scientist who is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University), Professor Guy McPherson who has written extensively and lectures all over the world on the subject, and ‘Sam Carana’, the pseudonym used by a group of climate scientists concerned to avoid too many adverse impacts on their research, careers and funding by declaring themselves publicly but nevertheless committed to making the truth available for those who seek it.

So, in a few brief points, let me summarize the evidence and argument outlined in the article ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’

The Climate Science of Destruction of the Biosphere

In the Arctic, there is a vast amount of carbon stored in soils that are now still largely frozen; this frozen soil is called permafrost. But as Arctic temperatures continue to rise and the permafrost thaws, in response to the warming that has occurred already (and is ongoing) by burning fossil fuels and farming animals for human consumption, much of this carbon will be converted into carbon dioxide or methane and released into the atmosphere. There is also a vast amount of methane – in the form of methane hydrates and free gas – stored in sediments under the Arctic Ocean seafloor. As temperatures rise, these sediments are being destabilized and will soon result in massive eruptions of methane from the ocean floor. ‘Due to the abrupt character of such releases and the fact that many seas in the Arctic Ocean are shallow, much of the methane will then enter the atmosphere without getting broken down in the water.’

Adversely impacting this circumstance is that the sea ice continues to retreat as the polar ice cap melts in response to the ongoing temperature increases. Because sea ice reflects sunlight back into Space, as the ice retreats more sunlight hits the (dark-colored) ocean (which absorbs the sunlight) and warms the ocean even more. This causes even more ice melt in what becomes an ongoing self-reinforcing feedback loop that ultimately impacts worldwide, such as triggering huge firestorms in forests and peatlands in North America and Russia.

More importantly, however, without sea ice, storms develop more easily and because they mix warm surface waters with the colder water at the bottom of shallow seas, reaching cracks in sediments filled with ice which acts as a glue holding the sediment together, the ice melt destabilizes the sediments, which are vulnerable to even small differences in temperature and pressure that are triggered by earthquakes, undersea landslides or changes in ocean currents.

As a result, huge amounts of methane can erupt from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and once this occurs, it will further raise temperatures, especially over the Arctic, thus acting as another self-reinforcing feedback loop that again makes the situation even worse in the Arctic, with higher temperatures causing even further methane releases, contributing to the vicious cycle that precipitates ‘runaway global warming’.

‘These developments can take place at such a speed that adaptation will be futile. More extreme weather events can hit the same area with a succession of droughts, cold snaps, floods, heat waves and wildfires that follow each other up rapidly. Within just one decade [from 2016], the combined impact of extreme weather, falls in soil quality and air quality, habitat loss and shortages of food, water, shelter and just about all the basic things needed to sustain life can threaten most, if not all life on Earth with extinction.’

The article goes on to outline how the 10 degree increase (above the pre-industrial level) by 2026 is likely to occur. It will involve further carbon dioxide and methane releases from human activity (particularly driving cars and other vehicles, flying in aircraft and eating animal products, as well as military violence), ongoing reduction of snow and ice cover around the world (thus reflecting less sunlight back into Space), an increase in the amount of water vapor (a greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere, a falling away of ‘aerosol masking’ (which has helped reduce the impact of emissions so far) as emissions decline, as well as methane eruptions from the ocean floor. If you would like to read more about this and see the graphs and substantial documentation, you can do so in the article cited above: ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’

The Ecology of Destruction of the Biosphere

Not that these scientists, who focus on the climate, discuss it but there are other human activities adversely impacting Earth’s biosphere which also threaten near-term extinction for humans, particularly given their synergistic impacts.

For example, recent research has drawn attention to the fact that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses. See ‘Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming’.

Moreover, apart from ongoing destruction of other vital components of Earth’s life support system such as the rainforests – currently being destroyed at the rate of 80,000 acres each day: see ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’ – and oceans – see ‘The state of our oceans in 2018 (It’s not looking good!)’ – which is generating an extinction rate of 200 species (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) each day with another 26,000 species already identified as ‘under threat’ – see ‘Red list research finds 26,000 global species under extinction threat’ – some prominent scholars have explained how even these figures mask a vital component of the rapidly accelerating catastrophe of species extinctions: the demise of local populations of a species. See ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’.

In addition, relying on our ignorance and our complicity, elites kill vast areas of Earth’s biosphere through war and other military violence – see, for example, the Toxic Remnants of War Project and the film ‘Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives’ – subject it to uncontrolled releases of radioactive contamination – see ‘Fukushima Radiation Has Contaminated The Entire Pacific Ocean – And It’s Going To Get Worse’ – and use geoengineering to wage war on Earth’s climate, environment and ultimately ourselves. See, for example, ‘Engineered Climate Cataclysm: Hurricane Harvey’ and ‘The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: “Owning the Weather” for Military Use’.

Separately from all of this, we live under the unending threat of nuclear war.

This is because insane political and corporate elites are still authorizing and manufacturing more of these highly profitable weapons rather than dismantling them all (as well as conventional weapons) and redirecting the vast resources devoted to ongoing military killing (US$1.7 trillion annually: see ‘Global military spending remains high at $1.7 trillion’) to environmental restoration and programs of social uplift.

By the way, if you think the risk of nuclear war can be ignored, you might find this recent observation sobering. In a review of (former US nuclear war planner) Daniel Ellsberg’s recent book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Earth and paleoclimate scientist Dr Andrew Glikson summarized the book as follows: ‘This, then, is the doomsday machine. Not simply the existence of fission weapons or unspeakably destructive hydrogen bombs, but the whole network rigged together: thousands of them on hair-trigger alert, command and control equipment built in the 1970s and ’80s, millions of lines of antique code sitting on reels of magnetic tape or shuffled around on floppy discs even now. An architecture tended by fallible and deeply institutionalized human beings.’ See ‘Two Minutes To Mid-Night: The Global Nuclear Suicide Machine’.

So, irrespective of whether elites or their agents or even we acknowledge it, Earth’s biosphere is under siege on many fronts and, very soon now, Earth will not support life. Any honest news source routinely reports one or another aspect of the way in which humans are destroying the Earth and perhaps suggests courses of action to respond powerfully to it. This, of course, does not include the insane global elite’s corporate media, which functions to distract us from any semblance of the truth.

How did all this happen?

How did human beings end up in a situation that human extinction is likely to occur within eight years (even assuming we can avert nuclear war)? And is there any prospect of doing enough about it now to avert this extinction?

To answer the first question briefly: We arrived at this juncture in our history because of a long sequence of decisions, essentially made by elites to expand their profit, power and privilege, and which they then imposed on us and which we did not resist powerfully enough. For a fuller explanation, see ‘Strategy and Conscience: Subverting Elite Power So We End Human Violence’.

In any case, the key questions now are simply these: Is it too late to avert our own extinction? And, if not, what must we do?

Well, I am not going to dwell on it but some scientists believe it is too late: we have already passed the point of no return. Professor Guy McPherson is one of these scientists, with a comprehensive explanation and a great deal of evidence to support it in his long and heavily documented article ‘Climate-Change Summary and Update’.

So, the fundamental question is this: If we assume (highly problematically I acknowledge) that it is possible to avert our own extinction by 2026, what must we do?

Because we need to address, in a strategic manner, the interrelated underlying causes that are driving the rush to extinction, let me first identify one important symptom of these underlying causes and then the underlying structural and behavioral causes themselves. Finally, let me invite your participation in (one or more aspects of) a comprehensive strategy designed to address all of this.

As in the past, at least initially, the vast bulk of the human population is not going to respond to this crisis in any way. We need to be aware of this but not let it get in our way. There is a straightforward explanation for it.

Fear or, far more accurately, unconscious terror will ensure that the bulk of the human population will not investigate or seriously consider the scientific evidence in relation to the ongoing climate catastrophe, despite its implications for them personally and humanity generally (not to mention other species and the biosphere). Moreover, given that climate science is not an easy subject with which to grapple, elite control of most media in relation to it (including, most of the time, by simply excluding mention of key learning from the climate scientists) ensures that public awareness, while reasonably high, is not matched by knowledge, which is negligible.

As a result, most people will fearfully, unintelligently and powerlessly accept the delusions, distractions and denial that are promulgated by the insane global elite through its various propaganda channels including the corporate media, public relations and entertainment industries, as well as educational institutions. This propaganda always includes the implicit message that people can’t (and shouldn’t) do anything in response to the climate catastrophe (invariably and inaccurately, benignly described as ‘climate change’).

A primary way in which the corporate media reports the issue but frames it for a powerless response is to simply distribute ‘news’ about each climate-related event without connecting it either with other climate-related events or even mentioning it as yet another symptom of the climate catastrophe. Even if they do mention these connections, they reliably mention distant dates for phenomena like ‘heatwaves’ repeating themselves and an overall ‘end of century’ timeframe to preclude the likelihood that any sense of urgency will arise.

The net outcome of all this, as I stated above, is that the bulk of the human population will not respond to the crisis in the short term (as it hasn’t so far) with most of what limited response there is confined to powerlessly lobbying elite-controlled governments.

However, as long as you consider responding – and by responding, I mean responding strategically – and then do respond, you become a powerful agent of change, including by recruiting others through your example.

But before I present the strategy, let me identify the major structural and behavioral causes that are driving the climate catastrophe and destruction of the biosphere, and explain why some key elements of this strategy are focused on tackling these underlying causes.

The Political Economy of Destruction of the Biosphere

The global elite ensures that it has political control of the biosphere as well as Space by using various systems, structures and processes that it largely created (over the past few centuries) and now controls, including the major institutions of governance in the world such as national governments and key international organizations like the United Nations. For further information, see ‘Strategy and Conscience: Subverting Elite Power So We End Human Violence’.

It does this, for example, so that it can economically utilize, via the exploitative mechanisms of capitalism and its corporations (which the elite also created), domains of the biosphere rich in resources, particularly fossil fuels, strategic minerals and fresh water. The elite will use any means – including psychological manipulation, propaganda issued by its corporate media, national educational institutions, legal systems and extraordinary military violence – to achieve this outcome whatever the cost to life on Earth. See ‘Profit Maximization Is Easy: Invest In Violence’.

In short, the global elite is so insane that its members believe that killing and exploiting fellow human beings and destroying the biosphere are simply good ways to make a profit. Of course, they do not perceive us as fellow human beings; they perceive and treat us as a great deal less. This is why, for example, the elite routinely uses its military forces to attack impoverished and militarily primitive countries so that they can steal their resources. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

But they are happy to steal from those of us living in western economies too, with Professor Barbara G. Ellis issuing the latest warning about yet another way this could easily happen. See ‘Depositors – Not Taxpayers – Will Take the Hit for the Next “2008” Crash Because Major Banks May Use the “Bail-In” System’.

Anyway, because of elite control of governments, it is a waste of time lobbying politicians if we want action on virtually all issues that concern us, particularly the ‘big issues’ that threaten extinction, such as the climate catastrophe, environmental destruction and war (especially the threat of nuclear war). While in very limited (and usually social) contexts (such as issues in relation to the right of women to abortions or rights for the LGBTQIA communities), when it doesn’t significantly adversely impact elite priorities, gains are sometimes made (at least temporarily) by mobilizing sufficient people to pressure politicians. This has two beneficial outcomes for elites: it keeps many people busy on ‘secondary issues’ (from the elite perspective) that do not impact elite profit, power and privilege; and it reinforces the delusion that democracy ‘works’.

However, in the contexts that directly impact elite concerns (such as their unbridled exploitation of the biosphere for profit), politicians serve their elite masters, even to the extent that any laws that might appear to have been designed to impede elite excesses (such as pollution generated by their activities) are readily ignored if necessary, with legal penalties too insignificant to deter phenomenally wealthy corporations. See ‘The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent’.

Of course, if any government does not obey elite directives, it is overthrown. Just ask any independently-minded government over the past century. For a list of governments overthrown by the global elite using its military and ‘intelligence’ agencies since World War II, see William Blum’s book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II or, for just the list, see ‘Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’.

How does the elite maintain this control over political, economic, military, legal and social structures and processes?

The Sociology of Destruction of the Biosphere

As explained in the literature on the sociology of knowledge, reality is socially constructed. See the classic work The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. That is, if an individual is born or introduced into a society in which particular institutions are in control and behaviors such as chronic over-consumption, unlimited profit-making, rampant exploitation of the environment and grotesque violence against (at least some) people are practiced, then the typical individual will accept the existence of these institutions and adopt the behaviors of the people around them even though the institutions and behaviors are dysfunctional and violent.

But while the sociology of knowledge literature recognizes that children ‘must be “taught to behave” and, once taught, must be “kept in line”’ to maintain the institutional order, this literature clearly has no understanding of the nature and extent of the violence to which each child is actually subjected in order to achieve the desired ‘socialization’. This terrorization, as I label it, is so comprehensive that the typical child quickly becomes incapable of using their own intellectual and emotional capacities, including conscience and courage, to actually evaluate any institution or behavior before accepting/adopting it themselves. Obviously then, they quickly become too terrified to overtly challenge dysfunctional institutions and behaviors as well.

Moreover, as a result of this ongoing terrorization, inflicted by the significant adults (and particularly the parents) in the child’s life, the child soon becomes too (unconsciously) afraid to resist the behavioral violence that is inflicted on them personally in many forms, as outlined briefly in the next section, so that they are ‘taught to behave’ and are ‘kept in line’.

In response to elite-driven imperatives then, such as ‘you are what you own’ to encourage very profitable over-consumption, most people are delusionarily ‘happy’ while utterly trapped behaving exactly as elites manipulate them – they are devoid of the psychological capacity to critique and resist – and the elite-preferred behavior quickly acquires the status of being ‘the only and the right way to behave’, irrespective of its dysfunctionality.

In essence: virtually all humans fearfully adopt dysfunctional social behaviors such as over-consumption and profit-making at the expense of the biosphere, rather than intelligently, conscientiously and courageously analyzing the total situation (including the moral and ecological dimensions of it) and behaving appropriately in the context.

Given the pervasiveness and power of elite institutions, ranging from those mentioned above to the corporate media and psychiatry – see ‘Defeating the Violence of Psychiatry’ – resistance to violent socialization (of both children and adults) requires considerable awareness, not to mention courage.

And so our fear makes virtually all of us succumb to the socialization pressure (that is, violence) to accept existing institutions and participate in widespread social behaviors (such as over-consumption) that are dysfunctional and violent.

The Psychology of Destruction of the Biosphere

This happens because each child, from birth, is terrorized (again: what we like to call ‘socialized’) until they become a slave willing to work and, in industrialized countries at least, to over-consume as directed.

Under an unrelenting regime of ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence, each child unconsciously surrenders their search in pursuit of their own unique and powerful destiny and succumbs to the obedience that every adult demands. Why do adults demand this? Because the idea of a powerful child who courageously follows their own Self-will terrifies adults. So how does this happen?

Unfortunately, far too easily and, strange though it may seem, it is not just the ‘visible’ violence (such as hitting, screaming at and sexually abusing) that we normally label ‘violence’ that causes the main damage, although this is extremely damaging. The largest component of damage arises from the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that we adults unconsciously inflict on children during the ordinary course of the day. Tragically, the bulk of this violence occurs in the family home and at school. See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

So what is ‘invisible’ violence? It is the ‘little things’ we do every day, partly because we are just ‘too busy’. For example, when we do not allow time to listen to, and value, a child’s thoughts and feelings, the child learns to not listen to themSelf thus destroying their internal communication system. When we do not let a child say what they want (or ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and behavioral dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own needs (which, as a basic survival strategy, they are genetically programmed to do).

When we blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe, blackmail, moralize with and/or judge a child, we both undermine their sense of Self-worth and teach them to blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie, bribe, blackmail, moralize and/or judge.

The fundamental outcome of being bombarded throughout their childhood by this ‘invisible’ violence is that the child is utterly overwhelmed by feelings of fear, pain, anger and sadness (among many others). However, mothers, fathers, teachers, religious figures and other adults also actively interfere with the expression of these feelings and the behavioral responses that are naturally generated by them and it is this ‘utterly invisible’ violence that explains why the dysfunctional behavioral outcomes actually occur.

For example, by ignoring a child when they express their feelings, by comforting, reassuring or distracting a child when they express their feelings, by laughing at or ridiculing their feelings, by terrorizing a child into not expressing their feelings (for instance, by screaming at them when they cry or get angry), and/or by violently controlling a behavior that is generated by their feelings (for example, by hitting them, restraining them or locking them into a room), the child has no choice but to unconsciously suppress their awareness of these feelings.

However, once a child has been terrorized into suppressing their awareness of their feelings (rather than being allowed to have their feelings and to act on them) the child has also unconsciously suppressed their awareness of the reality that caused these feelings. This has many outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for the biosphere because the individual will now easily suppress their awareness of the feelings that would tell them how to act most functionally in any given circumstance and they will progressively acquire a phenomenal variety of dysfunctional behaviors, including some that are violent towards themself, others and/or the Earth.

Moreover, terrorizing the child has many flow-on effects. For example, once you terrorise a child into accepting certain information about themself, other people or the state of the world, the child becomes unconsciously fearful of dealing with new information, especially if this information is contradictory to what they have been terrorized into believing. As a result, the child will unconsciously dismiss new information out of hand.

In short, the child has been terrorized in such a way that they are no longer capable of learning (or their learning capacity is seriously diminished by excluding any information that is not a simple extension of what they already ‘know’). This is one important explanation why some people are ‘climate deniers’ and most others do nothing in response to the climate catastrophe. See ‘The Psychology of Denial’.

Consequently, under this onslaught of terror and violence, the child surrenders their own unique Self and takes on their socially constructed delusional identity which gives them relief from being terrorized while securing the approval they crave to survive.

So if we want to end violence against the biosphere, we must tackle this fundamental cause. Primarily, this means giving everyone, child and adult alike, all of the space they need to feel, deeply, what they want to do, and to then let them do it (or to have the emotional responses they naturally have if they are prevented from doing so).

For some insight into the critical role that school plays in reducing virtually all children to wage slaves for employment in some menial or ‘professional’ role or as ‘cannon fodder’ for the military, while stripping them of the capacity to ask penetrating questions about the very nature of society and their own role in it, see ‘Do We Want School or Education?’

In summary, given that human society is so dysfunctional, beginning with the fact that human beings do not know how to parent or educate their children to nurture their unique and extraordinary potential, humans face a monumental challenge, in an incredibly short timeframe, to have any chance of survival.

And we are going to have to fix a lot more things than just our destruction of the biosphere if we are to succeed, given that ecologically destructive behavior and institutions have their origin in dysfunctional psychology, societies and political economy.

To reiterate however, it is our (often unconscious) fear that underpins every problem. Whether it is the fear getting in the way of our capacity to intelligently analyze the various structures and behaviors that generate the interrelated crises in which we now find ourselves or the fear undermining our courage to act powerfully in response to these crises, acknowledging and dealing with our fear is the core of any strategy for survival.

So what’s the plan?

Let’s start with you. If you consider the evidence in relation to destruction of our biosphere, essentially one of two things will happen. Either you will be powerful enough, both emotionally and intellectually, to grapple with this evidence and you will take strategic action that has ongoing positive impact on the crisis or your (unconscious) fear will simply use one of its lifelong mechanisms to remove awareness of what you have just read from your mind or otherwise delude you, such as by making you believe you are powerless to act differently or that you are ‘doing enough already’. This immobilizing fear, whether or not you experience it consciously, is a primary outcome of the terrorization to which you were subjected as a child.

So, if you sense that improving your own functionality – so that you can fully access your emotional responses, conscience and courage – is a priority, try ‘Putting Feelings First’.

If you already feel able to act powerfully in response to this multi-faceted crisis, in a way that will have strategic impact, you are invited to consider joining those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’, which outlines a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all environmental concerns are effectively addressed. You might also consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

If you are interested in nurturing children to live by their conscience and to gain the courage necessary to resist elite violence fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of capitalism to over-consume, then you are welcome to make ‘My Promise to Children’. To reiterate: capitalism and other dysfunctional political, economic, military, legal and social structures only thrive because our dysfunctional parenting robs children of their conscience and courage, among many other qualities, while actively teaching them to over-consume as compensation for having vital emotional needs denied. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

If you are interested in conducting or participating in a campaign to halt our destruction of the biosphere (or any other manifestation of violence for that matter) you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way that the extraordinary activist Mohandas K. Gandhi did. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate, environment or social justice campaign, the 12-point strategic framework and principles are the same. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

The two strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to end war and to end the climate catastrophe, for example, are identified in ‘Campaign Strategic Aims’ and, using these examples, it is a straightforward task to identify an appropriate set of strategic goals for your local environment campaign. As an aside, the strategic framework to defend against a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to liberate your country from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat a genocidal assault is explained in ‘Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy’.

If you would like a straightforward explanation of ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’ and an introduction to what it means to think strategically, try reading about the difference between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’.

If you anticipate violent repression by a ruthless opponent, consider planning and implementing any nonviolent action according to the explanation in ‘Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression’.

Finally, if you are going to do nothing in response to this crisis, make it a conscious decision to do nothing. This is far preferable to unconsciously and powerlessly doing nothing by never even considering the evidence or by simply deluding yourself. It also allows you to consciously revise your decision at some point in future if you so wish.

Conclusion

The evidence in relation to destruction of the Earth’s biosphere, leading to ongoing and rapid degradation of all ecosystems and their services, is readily available and overwhelming. The many and varied forms of destruction are having synergistic impact. An insignificant amount of the vast evidence in relation to this destruction is sampled above.

There is a notable group of prominent climate scientists who present compelling evidence that human extinction will occur by 2026 as a result of a projected 10 degree celsius increase in global temperatures above the pre-industrial level by this date. The primary document for this is noted above and this document, together with the evidence it cites, is readily available to be read and analyzed by anyone.

Largely separately from the climate catastrophe (although now increasingly complicated by it), Earth’s sixth mass extinction is already advancing rapidly as we destroy habitat and, on our current trajectory, all species will soon enter the fossil record.

Why? Because we live in a world in which the political, economic, military, legal and social structures and processes of human society are utterly incapable of producing either functional human beings or governance mechanisms that take into account, and respect, the ecological realities of Earth’s biosphere.

So, to reiterate: We are on the fast-track to extinction. On the current trajectory, assuming we can avert nuclear war, some time between 2021 and 2026 the last human will take their final breath.

Our only prospect of survival, and it still has only a remote chance of succeeding, is that a great number of us respond powerfully now and keep mobilizing more people to do so.

If you do absolutely nothing else, consider rearranging your life to exclude all meat from your diet, stop traveling by car and aircraft, substantially reduce your water consumption by scaling down your ownership of electronic devices (which require massive amounts of water to manufacture), and only eat biodynamically or organically grown whole food.

And tell people why you are doing so.

This might give those of us who fight strategically, which can include you if you so choose, a little more time to overturn the structural and remaining behavioral drivers of extinction which will require a profound change in the very nature of human society, including all of its major political, economic, military, legal and social institutions and processes (most of which will need to be abolished).

If this sounds ‘radical’, remember that they are about to vanish anyway. Our strategy must be to replace them with functional equivalents, all of which are readily available (with some briefly outlined in the various documents mentioned in the plan above).

‘It won’t happen’, you might say? And, to be candid, I sincerely believe that you are highly probably right. I have spent a lifetime observing, analyzing, writing about and acting to heal dysfunctional and violent human behavior and, for that reason, I am not going to delude myself that anything less than what I have outlined above will achieve the outcome that I seek: to avert human extinction. But I am realistic.

The insane individuals who control the institutions that are driving extinction will never act to avert it. If they were sane enough to do so, they would have been directing and coordinating these institutions in taking action for the past 40 years. This is why we must resist them strategically. Moreover, I am only too well aware that the bulk of the human population has been terrorized into powerlessness and won’t even act. But our best chance lies in offering them our personal example, and giving them simple and various options for responding effectively.

It is going to be a tough fight for human survival, particularly this late in the ‘game’. Nevertheless, I intend to fight until my last breath. I hope that you will too.

*

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

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Destruction of the Biosphere, Timeframe of Global Climate Change: A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival

Why Confronting Israel Is Important

August 14th, 2018 by Philip Giraldi

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above

I am often asked why I have this “thing” about Israel, with friends suggesting that I would be much more respected as a pundit if I were to instead concentrate on national security and political corruption. The problem with that formulation is that the so-called “special relationship” with Israel is itself the result of terrible national security and foreign policy choices that is sustained by pervasive political and media corruption, so any honest attempt to examine the one inevitably leads to the other. Most talking heads in the media avoid that dilemma by choosing to completely ignore the dark side of Israel.

Israel – not Russia – is the one foreign country that can interfere with impunity with the political processes in the United States yet it is immune from criticism. It is also the single most significant threat to genuine national security as it and its powerful domestic lobby have been major advocates for the continuation of America’s interventionist warfare state. The decision to go to war on false pretenses against Iraq, largely promoted by a cabal of prominent American Jews in the Pentagon and in the media, killed 4,424 Americans as well as hundreds of thousands Iraqis and will wind up costing the American taxpayer $7 trillion dollars when all the bills are paid. That same group of mostly Jewish neocons more-or-less is now agitating to go to war with Iran using a game plan for escalation prepared by Israel which will, if anything, prove even more catastrophic.

And I can go on from there. According to the FBI, Israel runs the most aggressive spying operations against the U.S. among ostensibly “friendly” nations, frequently stealing our military technology for resale by its own arms merchants. Its notable successes in espionage have included the most devastating spy in U.S. history Jonathan Pollard, while it has also penetrated American communications systems and illegally obtained both the fuel and the triggers for its own secret nuclear weapons arsenal.

Israel cares little for American sovereignty. It’s prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu have both boasted how they control the United States. In 2001, Israel was running a massive secret spying operation directed against Arabs in the U.S. Many in the intelligence and law enforcement communities suspect that it had considerable prior intelligence regarding the 9/11 plot but did not share it with Washington. There was the spectacle of the “dancing Shlomos,” Israeli “movers” from a company in New Jersey who apparently had advanced knowledge of the terrorist attack and danced and celebrated as they watched the Twin Towers go down.

Jewish power, both in terms of money and of access to people and mechanisms that really matter, is what allows Israel to act with impunity, making the United States both poorer and more insecure. A well-funded massive lobbying effort involving hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals in the U.S. has worked to the detriment of actual American interests, in part by creating a permanent annual gift of billions of dollars to Israel for no other reason but that it is Israel and can get anything it wants from a servile Congress and White House without any objection from a controlled media.

Israel has also obtained carte blanche political protection from the U.S. in fora like the United Nations, which is damaging to America’s reputation and its actual interests. This protection now extends to the basing of U.S. troops in Israel to serve as a tripwire, guaranteeing that Washington will become involved if Israel is ever attacked or even if Israel itself starts a war. The current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is little more than a shill for Israel while America’s Ambassador in Israel David Friedman is an open supporter of Israel’s illegal settlements, which the U.S. opposes, who spends much of his time defending Israeli war crimes.

And here on the home front Israel is doing damage that might be viewed as even more grave in Senator Ben Cardin’s attempt to destroy First Amendment rights by making any criticism of Israel illegal. The non-violent Israel Boycott movement (BDS) has already been sanctioned in many states, the result of intensive and successful lobbying by the Israeli government and its powerful friends.

So if there is a real enemy of the United States in terms of the actual damage being inflicted by a foreign power, it is Israel. In the recent Russiagate investigations it was revealed that it was Israel, not Russia, that sought favors from Michael Flynn and the incoming Trump Administration yet Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidently not chosen to go down that road with his investigations, which should surprise no one.

Noam Chomsky, iconic progressive intellectual, has finally come around on the issue of Israel and what it means. He has always argued somewhat incoherently that Israeli misbehavior has been due to its role as a tool of American imperialism and capitalism. At age 89, he has finally figured out that it is actually all about what a parasitic Israel wants without any regard for its American host, observing on “Democracy Now” that

..take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done… I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015….

Politicians are terrified of crossing the Jewish lobby by saying anything negative about Israel, which means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always gets a pass from the American government, even when he starves civilians and bombs hospitals and schools. Netanyahu uses snipers to shoot dead scores of unarmed demonstrators and the snipers themselves joke about their kills without a peep from Washington, which styles itself the “leader of the free world.”

Just recently, Israel has declared itself a Jewish State with all that implies. To be sure, Israeli Christians and Muslims were already subject to a battery of laws and regulations that empowered Jews at their expense but now it is the guiding principle that Israel will be run for the benefit of Jews and Jews alone. And it still likes to call itself a “democracy.”

A recent television program illustrates just how far the subjugation of America’s elected leaders by Israel has gone. British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is featured on a new show called “Who is America?” in which he uses disguises and aliases to engage politicians and other luminaries in unscripted interviews that reveal just how ignorant or mendacious they actually are. Several recent episodes remind one of a February 2013 Saturday Night Live skit on the impending confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. A Senator asks Hagel. “It is vital to Israel’s security for you to go on national television and perform oral sex on a donkey… Would you do THAT for Israel?” A “yes” answer was, of course, expected from Hagel. The skit was never aired after objections from the usual suspects.

Baron Cohen, who confronted several GOP notables in the guise of Colonel Erran Morad, an Israeli security specialist, provided a number of clues that his interview was a sham but none of the victims were smart enough to pick up on them. Cohen, wearing an Israeli military uniform and calling himself a colonel, clearly displayed sergeant’s stripes. Hinting that he might actually be a Mossad agent, Cohen also sported a T-shirt on which the Hebrew text was printed backwards and he claimed that the Israeli spy agency’s motto was “if you want to win, show some skin.”

Cohen set up Dick Cheney by complimenting him on being the “the king of terrorist killers” before commenting that “my neighbor in Tel Aviv is in jail for murder, or, as we call it, enhanced tickling.” Morad went on to tell Cheney that he once waterboarded his wife to check for infidelity and then convinced the former Vice President to sign a “waterboarding kit” that “already had” the signatures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Demi Lovato.

Another more spectacular sketch included a Georgia state senator Jason Spencer who was convinced to shout out the n-word as part of an alleged video being made to fight terrorism. After Cohen told Spencer that it was necessary to incite fear in homophobic jihadists, Spencer dropped his pants and underwear, before backing up with his exposed rear end while shouting “USA!” and “America!” Spencer also spoke with a phony Asian accent while simulating using a selfie-stick to secretly insert a camera phone inside a Muslim woman’s burqa.

In another series of encounters, Cohen as Morad managed to convince current and ex-Republican members of Congress — to include former Senate majority leader Trent Lott — to endorse a fictional Israeli program to arm grade school children for self-defense.

Cohen’s footage included a former Illinois congressman and talk radio host named Joe Walsh saying:

“The intensive three-week ‘Kinderguardian’ course introduces specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semiautomatics and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars. In less than a month — less than a month — a first-grader can become a first grenade-er.”

Both controversial Alabama judge Roy Moore and Walsh were fooled into meeting Cohen to attend a non-existent pro-Israel conference to accept an award for “significant contributions to the state of Israel.” Representative Dana Rohrabacher, meanwhile, also was interviewed and he commented that,

“Maybe having young people trained and understand how to defend themselves and their school might actually make us safer here.”

And Congressman Joe Wilson observed that

“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a ‘Hello Kitty’ pencil case at it.”

Cohen’s performance is instructive. A man shows up in Israeli uniform, claims to be a terrorism expert or even a Mossad agent, and he gains access to powerful Americans who are willing to do anything he says. How Cohen did it says a lot about the reflexive and completely uncritical support for Israel that many American politicians — particularly Republicans — now embrace. This, in a nutshell, is the damage that Israel and its Lobby have done to the United States. Israel is always right for many policymakers and even palpably phony Jews like Colonel Morad are instantly perceived as smarter than the rest of us so we’d better do what they say. That kind of thinking has brought us Iraq, Libya, Syria and the possibility of something far worse with Iran.

Israel routinely interferes in American politics and corrupts our institutions without any cost to itself and that is why I write and speak frequently regarding the danger to our Republic that it poses. It is past time to change the essentially phony narrative. Israel is nothing but trouble. It has the right to defend itself and protect its interests but that should not involve the United States. One can only hope that eventually a majority of my fellow American citizens will also figure things out. It might take a while, but the ruthless way Israel openly operates with no concern for anyone but itself provides a measure of optimism that that day is surely coming.

*

This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected]. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Using the Burka: Boris Johnson’s Bid for Popularity

August 14th, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Comedy, Boris Johnson, and the Tories – these three share a certain comforting, if chaotic affinity, lobbed together in some nightmarish union that risks consuming itself.  But times are serious – profoundly so, we are told: Brexit exercises the nerves as if Britannia were a patient about to expire, and there is the cultural irritation posed by those naughty elements who refuse to do the good thing and integrate themselves into the land of her Britannic majesty. 

Thus far, Britain has resisted the moves of other states in Europe to impose public bans on such religious coverings as the burka and some of its more expansive cognates.  But there is a prevailing appetite for such measures in a climate suffused with notions of civilisation, irate outsiders and insecure insiders.  France was a pioneer in that regard, initiating a ban in 2004.  In Denmark, rough measures have been implemented punishing those who don such headdress in public spaces.

A perfect chance for Johnson, who remains a smouldering menace to Prime Minister Theresa May, to strike form, even if only to rile critics and keep the blogosphere busy.

“In Britain today there is only a tiny, tiny minority of women who wear these odd bits of headgear,” he noted in his regular Daily Telegraph column last week.  Confidently, he claimed that, “One day, I am sure, they will go.”

His has little time for assuming that women have any choice in the matter.

 “If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree – and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.”

Nothing is spared. The whole show is given, and any social or academic nicety is given over to a populist punchiness.

  “I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”

But Johnson returns to a traditional stance taken to such articles of wear: they should not be banned. The only resort, then, is to mock.

It becomes clear what this exercise was about.  The burka, and Islamic dress, might well have found themselves objects of pure, unalloyed opportunism for yet another push for recognition from fellow Tories that Johnson remains a relevant contender for high office.  He might have resigned from the front bench in an act of calculated sabotage, but he glows.

The Conservative Party has found itself in a bind.  Something needed to be done, as the current wisdom goes, but what?  An investigation is currently being taken, a fairly pointless exercise that serves to supply valuable oxygen to Johnson’s flame of embellished martyrdom.  Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire told BBC Breakfast that an investigation into complaints made about Johnson’s comments was taking place and “that’s the right approach”.

If the investigation – being conducted by an individual officer – finds justification for the complaints, an independent panel will be convened (independence being in the eye of the beholders), which might decide to refer Johnson to the party’s board.  From there, the power of expulsion can come into play.

At this stage, these are meaningless hypothetical points, and expelling Johnson will add a few streaks of popularity to him.  If that ever unreliable metric called polling can be drawn upon, Johnson has allies on the score of whether he should receive some form of disciplinary action.  The Sunday Express, noting the findings of its ComRes poll, found 53 percent of respondents did not feel any such action should be taken.

The Muslim Council of Britain has also added to the exercise of giving Johnson form and profile, sending a letter to Prime Minister May that “no-one should be allowed to victimise minorities with impunity.”  The Council was “hopeful” that the Tories “will not allow any whitewashing of this specific inquiry currently in process”.

A few murmurings of support have aired.  That ever reliable period-piece Tory prop and member for North East Somerset Jacob Rees-Mogg is certain that the whole exercise against Johnson – a “show trial” no less – is tactical, a measure to protect May and see off a rival.  There is envy in the leadership at his “many successes, popularity with voters and charisma”.  He speculates:

“Could it be that there is a nervousness that a once and probably future leadership contender is becoming too popular and needs to be stopped?”

Another element is the comedy line, suggesting the view that Johnson remains the permanent, immutable joke of British reaction. To censure Johnson would be to censure a certain type of eccentric, if indecent Britain.  Rowan Atkinson, the genius behind Mr Bean and a range of comic adaptations, took the freedom-to-joke line in a letter to The Times.

“As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson’s joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one.”

Pity that it has been a standard one for some time – was Atkinson perhaps referring to Johnson himself, the joke in harness?

It is all well and good to accept the necessary function of comedy to puncture, deflate and generally mock the role of faith, credulous attitudes and the devout.

“All jokes about religion cause offence,” says Atkinson accurately, “so it’s pointless apologising for them.”

But Johnson has never been the font of sincerity in that regard, and his effusion was hardly intended as one of pure humour. He wishes to remain politically relevant, and persists sniping through his columns and from the back bench in the hope that he won’t be forgotten.  As Britain leaves its awkward EU marriage, Johnson may well find himself presiding over the ruins of his own handiwork.

*

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

America’s War on Yemen Exposed

August 14th, 2018 by Tony Cartalucci

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

As atrocities and scandal begin to mount regarding the US-backed Saudi-led war on the impoverished nation of Yemen, the involvement and hypocrisy of the United States and other Western backers is coming to full light.

Global condemnation of Saudi airstrikes on civilian targets has brought public attention to Washington’s role in the conflict – a role the Western media has attempted to downplay for years. It is ironic, or perhaps telling, that alternative media outlets targeted as “Russian influence” are leading coverage of Yemen’s growing humanitarian catastrophe.

US Denies Role in Proxy War That Couldn’t be Fought Without It 

In a recent press conference, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis – when asked about the US role in the Yemeni conflict in regards to Saudi atrocities – would claim:

We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Mattis himself would lobby US Congress earlier this year to continue US support for Saudi-led operations in Yemen.

A March 2018 Washington Post article titled, “Mattis asks Congress not to restrict US support for Saudi bombing in Yemen,” would admit:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a personal appeal to Congress on Wednesday not to restrict the United States’ support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, as the sponsors of a privileged resolution to end Washington’s involvement announced that the Senate would vote on the matter next week.

Support includes US intelligence gathering for Saudi operations, the sale of of US weapons to the Saudi regime, and even US aerial refueling for US-made Saudi warplanes dropping US-made munitions on Yemeni targets selected with the aid of US planners.

In essence, the US is all but directly fighting the “civil war” itself.

Abetting War Crimes, Sponsoring Terrorists to What End? 

As to why the US believes it must continue supporting a proxy war Saudi Arabia is fighting on its behalf – beginning under US President Barack Obama and continuing in earnest under current US President Donald Trump – the Washington Post could conclude (emphasis added):

The war in Yemen has inspired much controversy in Congress, as lawmakers have questioned why the United States has involved itself so closely on the Saudi-backed side of a civil war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces. Successive presidential administrations have presented the campaign as a necessary component of the fight against terrorism and to preserve stability in the region. As Mattis put it in his letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, “withdrawing US support would embolden Iran to increase its support to the Houthis, enabling further ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict.”

However, Mattis, his colleagues, and his predecessors have categorically failed to explain how Iran constitutes a greater threat to either US or global security than Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a nation admittedly sponsoring Al-Qaeda worldwide, including in Yemen as revealed by a recent Associated Press investigation, and the nation which both radicalized the supposed perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D.C. and from which most of the supposed hijackers originated from.

If Iran is indeed waging war against Saudi Arabia and its terrorist proxies in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, the real question is – why isn’t the United States backing Tehran instead?

The obvious answer to this question reveals the crumbling moral authority of the United States as the principled facade it has used for decades falls away from its hegemony-driven agenda worldwide.

The US and its allies created the “War on Terror” and intentionally perpetuated it as a pretext to expand militarily around the globe in an attempt to preserve its post-Cold War primacy and prevent the rise of a multipolar alternative to its unipolar “international order.” It has done this not only at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives across the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, it has done it at the cost of trillions of taxpayers’ dollars and the lives of thousands of America’s own soldiers, sailors, aviators, and Marines.

Canada Too 

A recent row between Canada and Saudi Arabia over supposed “human rights” concerns appears to be a vain attempt to salvage the credibility of at least some nations involved in the now 7 year long war – the last 3 years of which has seen direct military intervention by Saudi Arabia, its partners, and its backers – including Canada.

The Guardian in an article titled, “‘We don’t have a single friend’: Canada’s Saudi spat reveals country is alone,” attempts to portray Canada as taking a lone, principled stance against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia – abandoned even by Washington.

The article would claim:

The spat appeared to have been sparked last week when Canada’s foreign ministry expressed its concern over the arrest of Saudi civil society and women’s rights activists, in a tweet that echoed concerns previously voiced by the United Nations. 

Saudi Arabia swiftly shot back, making plans to remove thousands of Saudi students and medical patients from Canada, and suspending the state airline’s flights to and from Canada, among other actions.

The Guardian would also claim:

…the US said it would remain on the sidelines while Saudi officials lashed out at Canada over its call to release jailed civil rights activists.

Canada’s feigned concern for “human rights” in Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the Canadian government continues approving of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms sales to Riyadh. This includes small arms and armored personnel carriers Saudi forces are using in their ongoing invasion and occupation of neighboring Yemen.

The feigned divide between Ottawa and Washington over Saudi human rights violations is overshadowed by years of commitment by both North American nations in propping up the Saudi regime, and aiding and abetting the very worst of Riyadh’s human rights abuses unfolding amid the Yemeni conflict.

Canada’s apparent role is to help compartmentalize the worst of the West’s decaying moral authority, containing it with the US, and taking up a more prominent role in the West’s industrialized “human rights” and “democracy” leveraging racket.

While Canadian armaments help fuel genocide in Yemen – Canadian diplomats around the world fund agitators and directly meddle in the internal political affairs of foreign nations predicated on promoting “human rights” and “democracy.”

In Thailand for example, the US has receded into the shadows, allowing Canada, the UK, and other European nations to openly engage in political meddling on their behalf. US funding and support continues, but the public face of Western “outrage” is increasingly becoming Canadian, British, and Northern European.

However, Canada faces the same problem that has permanently eroded American credibility. And as its role in perpetuating real human rights abuses worldwide continues to be exposed, its feigned concern over token or even manufactured human rights concerns will increasingly appear hypocritical and hollow, undermining the West’s collective ability to leverage and hide behind human rights and democracy to advance their self-serving agendas.

*

Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on America’s War on Yemen Exposed

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

The head of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Valery Gerasimov asked his closest American counterpart Joseph Dunford to assist his country in jointly stabilizing Syria.

Reuters reported that the proposal to cooperate on the repatriation of refugees and reconstruction projects in the Arab Republic was met with an “icy reception” by US decision makers, though this could have been expected considering that Washington had previously said that any assistance that it might provide to the government-controlled areas of Syria would be tied to the implementation of UNSC 2254’s constitutional reform and new elections. Furthermore, President Assad declared in late June that his government wouldn’t accept reconstruction funds from the same countries that contributed to destroying his own, though if the leaked details of Gerasimov’s message to Dunford are to be believed, then Russia’s assessment is that Damascus “lacks the equipment, fuel, other material, and funding needed to rebuild the country in order to accept refugee returns”, hence the reason for reaching out to the US.

While there were high hopes that Presidents Putin and Trump might have reached an understanding on Syria during last month’s Helsinki Summit, it appears as though expectations might be dashed after this latest setback. The US veritably has an interest in focusing its reconstruction efforts and post-war development projects on the Kurdish-controlled proxy state in the northeastern agriculturally and energy-rich corner of the country that it’s already deployed roughly two thousand troops to, so there’s a certain logic to rebuffing the latest Russian offer. Even though the Kurds and Damascus have reportedly entered into talks with one another, this is unlikely to lead to the dissolution of the US’ protectorate and will probably find a way to “formalize” it through mutually acceptable “compromises” that figure into the ongoing constitutional reform process.

Although the leaking of Gerasimov’s proposal to Dunford was probably done by Trump’s “deep state” enemies in a desperate attempt to undermine what they may have feared was the President’s “secret deal” with Putin, it inadvertently harms the US’ soft power standing because it confirms that America doesn’t really care about the welfare of the Syrian people or the return of refugees from the region and beyond in spite of its repeated statements to the contrary over the years. Making humanitarian and developmental assistance conditional on political factors is Machiavellian to the core but unsurprising to those who have a solid understanding of the cynicism behind American strategic planning. It’s also proof that the US is indirectly weaponizing refugees and developmental assistance in order to advance its objectives, something that its supporters have always denied but which is now undebatable.

*

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

Featured image is from the author.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above 

Stories about corruption and internally government-generated violence concerning most unaligned countries abound in the MSM. These lies fuel hatred. And the public at large start a malicious rumor circuit. Which, in turn is taken over by the MSM, so that their lies are pushing in open doors. The war drums start beating. The populace wants foreign imposed order, they want blood and ‘regime change’. The consensus for war has once more worked. And the blood may flow. Instigated by outside forces, such as the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID, which train and fund nationals clandestinely in-and outside the country where eventually they have to operate. They are commandeered by Washington and other western powers and act so as to blame the “non-obedient” governments, whose regime must be changed. They constitute part of the Fifth Column.

A Fifth Column is a group of people, who undermine the government of a country in support of the enemy. They can be both covert and open. The term Fifth Column originates from the Spanish Civil War, when in October 1936 nationalist rebel General Mola initiated the coup d’état against the legitimate Republican Government. This marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. General Mola besieged Madrid with four “columns” of troops and claimed he had a “Fifth Column”, hiding inside the city. The term was henceforth used for infiltrated enemies within a legitimate government. Mola, the mastermind behind the coup died in a 1937 plane crash, and General Francisco Franco became Spain’s dictator for the next almost 40 years. He prevailed over the Republican resistance thanks to Hitler’s and Mussolini’s air support.

Now what’s the true story behind the violence-plagued Nicaragua and Venezuela, and the treacherous new Moreno government in Ecuador?

Take Nicaragua – it all started with the Board of Directors of the Nicaragua Social Security Institute (INSS) on 16 April 2018 approving an IMF-imposed social security reform, modified and then supported by President Ortega. The reform maintained social security at its current level, but would increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund. These reforms triggered the coup attempt initiated by the business lobby and backed by the Nicaraguan oligarchy.

Student protests were already ongoing in different university cities in connection with university elections. These protests were re-directed against the Ortega government with the help of US-funded NGOs and the Catholic Church, an ally of the wealthy in most of Latin America. Some of the students involved in ‘re-directing’ the protests were brought to the US for training by the Freedom House, a long-time associate of the CIA. USAID announced an additional US$ 1.5 million to build opposition to the Ortega Government. These funds along with financing from the NED will be channeled to NGOs to support anti-government protests. For more details, see this also.

Summarizing, in the course of the weeks following the coup, violence increased leaving a total of more than 300 dead by early August. Even though Ortega reversed the pension measures, unrests continued, now demanding the resignation of the President and Vice-President, his wife Rosario Murillo Zambrana. Daniel Ortega, a Sandinista and former guerilla leader, was first elected President in 1985. It is clear that the US and the dark forces behind the empire were preparing Fifth Column-type groups to intervene and take advantage of any social upheaval in the country to bring about regime change. What could have and would have been contained, continued as US inspired violent protests eventually aiming at the overthrow of Ortega’s government. That would bring Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua – and Panama – in line with US policies. Will Washington succeed?

On Venezuela In mid-June 2018, I was privileged to be invited to Caracas as one of several international economists to participate in a Presidential Economic Advisory Commission – to discuss internal and external economic issues. Without going into details of the commission’s deliberations – it is absolutely clear who is behind the food and medicine boycotts (empty supermarket shelves), and the induced internal violence. It is a carbon copy of what the CIA under Kissinger’s command did in Chile in 1973 which led to the murder of the legitimate and democratically elected President Allende and to the Pinochet military coup; except, Venezuela has 19 years of revolutionary experience, and built up some tough resistance.

To understand the context ‘Venezuela’, we may have to look a bit at the country’s history.

Before the fully democratically and internationally observed election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela was governed for at least 100 years by dictators and violent despots which were directed by and served only the United States. The country, extremely rich in natural resources, was exploited by the US and Venezuelan oligarchs to the point that the population of one of the richest Latin-American countries remained poor instead of improving its standard of living according to the country’s natural riches. The people were literally enslaved by Washington controlled regimes.

A first coup attempt by Comandante Hugo Chavez in 1992 was oppressed by the Government of Carlos Andrés Pérez and Chavez was sent to prison along with his co-golpistas. After two years, he was freed by the Government of Rafael Caldera.

During Peréz’ first term in office (1974-1979) and his predecessors, Venezuela attained a high economic growth based almost exclusively on oil exports. Though, hardly anything of this growth stayed in the country and was distributed to the people. The situation was pretty much the same as it is in today’s Peru which before the 2008 crisis and shortly thereafter had phenomenal growth rates – between 5% and 8% – of which 80% went to 5% of the population, oligarchs and foreign investors, and 20% was to be distributed to 95% of the population – and that on a very uneven keel. The result was and is a growing gap between rich and poor, increasing unemployment and delinquency.

Venezuela before Chavez lived practically on a monoculture economy based on petrol. There was no effort towards economic diversification. To the contrary, diversification could eventually help free Venezuela from the despot’s fangs, as the US was the key recipient of Venezuela’s petrol and other riches. Influenced by the 1989 Washington Consensus, Peréz made a drastic turn in his second mandate (1989-1993) towards neoliberal reforms, i.e. privatization of public services, restructuring the little social safety benefits laborers had achieved, and contracting debt by the IMF and the World Bank. He became a model child of neoliberalism, to the detriment of Venezuelans. Resulting protests under Peréz’ successor, Rafael Caldera, became unmanageable. New elections were called and Hugo Chavez won in a first round with more than 56%. Despite an ugly Washington inspired coup attempt (“The Revolution will Not be Televised”, 2003 documentary about the attempted 2002 coup), Hugo Chavez stayed in power until his untimely death 2013. Comandante Chavez and his Government reached spectacular social achievements for his country.

Washington will not let go easily – or at all, to re-conquer Venezuela into the new Monroe Doctrine, i.e. becoming re-integrated into Washington’s backyard. Imagine this oil-rich country, with the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, on the doorsteps of the United Sates’ key refineries in Texas, just about 3 to 4 days away for a tanker from Venezuela, as compared to 40 to 45 days from the Gulf, where the US currently gets about 60% of its petrol imports. An enormous difference in costs and risks, i.e. each shipment has to sail through the Iran-controlled Strait of Hormuz.

In addition, another socialist revolution as one of Washington’s southern neighbor – in addition to Cuba – is not convenient. Therefore, the US and her secret forces will do everything to bring about regime change, by constant economic aggressions, blockades, sanctions, boycotts of imports and their internal distribution – as well as outrights military threats. The recent assassination attempt of President Maduro falls into the same category.

And let’s not forget, Venezuela’s neighbor Colombia, fully under Washington’s control, has just recently become a NATO country. How absurd, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, stationed in a South American country. But then, NATO is also in Afghanistan, Syria, in the Balkans and wherever US-instigated conflicts need to be fought. Colombian and Venezuela share a border of some 2,200 km of which about 1,500 are difficult to control ‘porous’ jungle, from where clandestine as well as overt military infiltrations are relatively easy. They may also spread to other South American countries. It’s already happening into countries with open doors for US military, like Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Less than 5 years ago, 80% of Latin American populations lived under democratically elected, left-leaning governments. It took South America some 20-25 years to free themselves from the fangs of the Monroe Doctrine. Now in the course of a few years the trend has been reversed, through US intervention with election manipulations – Argentina, Ecuador, Chile – and parliamentary coups – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay. – Venezuela, together with Bolivia and Cuba, today is Latin America’s last holdout and hope.

Back to the present – Washington’s goal is “regime change” with the help of a strong Fifth Column, infiltrated in key financial institutions and all the support that comes with it, NED, CIA et al. However, President Maduro has a solid block of 6 million voters behind him, and is embarking with full integrity on a path of “Resistance Economy”. In fact, the recent introduction of the hydrocarbon-backed Petro, and the new just announced Petro-backed Bolivar – are first steps in the right direction; an attempt to de-dollarize Venezuela’s economy. Other measures, like massive efforts to become autonomous in food and industrial goods, à la Russia, rebuild the agricultural sector and industrial parks, are measures to regain economic sovereignty.

On Ecuador – President Rafael Correa has worked with Lenin Moreno, who was his Vice-President and close ally during many years. It is therefore a bit strange that Correa apparently did not know Moreno is a traitor, what he clearly has become soon after taking office. Correa’s internal support was still strong, despite his decline among indigenous people after his (US forced) Amazon petroleum concessions. Though incited by many of the people at large to change the Constitution and run for a third term, he was warned by Washington not to do so, and instead, to promote Moreno as his successor. Correa knows what such warnings mean. He was almost killed in a 2010 Washington inspired police coup, widely thought being linked to his attempt to abandon the US dollar as the Ecuadorian currency and return to the Sucre; and Correa’s memory is still fresh enough to recall the ‘accidental airplane’ death of one of his predecessor’s, President Roldo, who changed the rules for (mostly US) hydrocarbon corporations in 1981.

What lays ahead for Ecuador does not look bright. Several IMF inspired reforms – yes, Ecuador returned to the IMF and World Bank – might reverse social gains achieved under the Correa Regime for the working and indigenous people. Also, a breach on free speech by Moreno is imminent: He announced already a while ago that Julian Assange’s (Wikileaks) days in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London are counted. If and when Assange has to leave the Embassy, he will likely be arrested by UK police and eventually handed over to the US – where he may expect a very uncertain, but possibly violent future.

*

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; 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.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Who can argue with the merits of defending human rights?

Canada has recently entered into a nasty row over this vaunted universally, or acclaimed value, with the Saudi Kingdom. The officially stated reason being? The Liberal government’s very principled publicly pronounced stance regarding human and woman’s rights.

But moral principles rarely deterred Ottawa from doing business in some states such as Egypt or the Philippines, both with questionable human rights record, at best or which are simply known to be brutally repressive regimes at worst.

The conduct of Canadian companies backed by embassies and trade delegation’s lobbies, especially in the mining and extractive sector, abroad hardly abides to these principles either.

And as the civil war in Yemen continues to cause more civilian deaths, the controversial arms sale which the Liberals signed off on to, in view of the rumble between Ottawa and Riyadh looks very much at odds with Canada’s Panglossian declarations in defence of individuals’ rights and freedoms.

Ukraine: Canada’s ever increasing military footprint on Russia’s Doorstep

But a news story which went under the radar screen with even greater implications for compromising the Liberal’s on their lofty stated principles is the military engagement in Ukraine’s four year old civil war. While Canadian government readily condemns what its calls “serious violations of human rights”, in Crimea its seems to turn a blind eye to the rising infiltration of extremist fascist para military groups such as the Azov division inside the Ukrainian army’s regular ranks and recruits. Yes, folks, ideological descendant of Ukrainian SS Galician Division, responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews, tens of thousands of Poles and Ukrainian anti fascists during the wartime of occupation of western part of the country,  are now integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard!

“The more things change, the more they remain the same”, as the saying goes.

But even more ominous and sinister is this. The sale of “lethal weaponry” to Ukraine is almost a done deal by now.  And with an ultra  Ukrainian nationalist sympathizer, and herself a “proud” Canadian of Ukrainian  heritage still on her increasingly shaky “Global Affairs ” perch, Foreign Minister  Ms Chrystia Freeland  (previously International Trade Minister when the deal was being negotiated), will not hesitate to complete the arms shipments agreement, even though it clearly violates the Minsk agreements. 

Canada’s dubious role in Indonesia: The East Timor case

Canada had always enjoyed relatively good relations with Jakarta, one of east Asia’s most repressive regimes. But in a case study entitled: “Canadian Complicity in the East Timor Near-Genocide:

A Case Study in the Sociology of Human Rights”, which clearly  shows geopolitical and corporate interests always trumps over moral considerations.  The research paper also exposes the humongous  approach beneath the virtue based diplomatic speak, and  reveals contradictions between espousing human rights rhetoric while undermining them at the same time in specific a “target country”.  

These aspects are revealed in Canadian government’s support of the Indonesian regime under a previous Liberal governments.  

The Indonesian annexation of East Timor and Canada’s dubious role

Canada assisted in the annexation of East Timor by Jakarta. And thus actively “aided and abetted” the violent crackdown by the regime of the East Timorese independence movement.  Despite  human rights concerns at the time An  academic research paper states (1) the following,

 “Canada was the largest Western investor at the time of the invasion. Its diplomatic courtship of Indonesia is generally consistent with its position on other internationally ostracized regimes, nations with long records of human rights violations against their own citizens, and nations engaged in “hostilities.”

Two years before the military crackdown by the indonisian army in East Timor, the Liberal government at the time was busy arming the armed forces and according to the research paper;

“In the final four months of 1996 the Chretien government approved in excess of Can$ 32 million in military export permits to Indonesia. These export permits authorized the sale of armoured personnel carriers, transport trucks, military aircraft, helicopters, related component parts, and parts, as well as equipment for military training.”

The paper goes on to say that;

“Canadian military equipment and component parts have also frequently been sold to Indonesia indirectly, rerouted through third countries and in turn reexported. Canada does not regularly screen indirect military exports. Military goods leaving Canada are frequently classified as “civilian” only to be used in the production of offensive military equipment elsewhere prior to shipment to recipient countries… Canada has also hosted arms bazaars promoting Canadian arms and weapons exports to Indonesia.

However you spin it, the tiff between Canada and Saudi Arabia isn’t the first time a major arms exporter country overlooks human rights consideration for profit. What is unique is the extraordinary efforts taken by Ottawa to feign concern for human rights internationally. This simulacra looks increasingly like it’s all fluff and guff; so when it comes to making that “real deal” happen, human rights are expendable and so are people.

*

Note

(1) J. KLAEHN, PORTUGUESE STUDIES REVIEW 11 (1) (2003) 49-65

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Is Canada’s Moral Posturing All Just Fluff? Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Indonesia

Samir Amin passed away on August 12. He will be remembered for his incisive analysis and historical overview of the global capitalist system.

I first met Samir Amin in Dakar in July 1976 upon my departure from the University of Cordoba Argentina where I lived through the first months of the March 1976 military coup d’Etat. Samir Amin had invited me as visiting scholar to join the team of researchers of the United Nations African Institute of Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) of which he was the Director.

It was an environment of friendship, scholarship, solidarity and active debate on the economic and social realities of  the African continent as well as debate on policy alternatives.

Samir Amin had set up a training programme largely intended for government officials. Not only economists and sociologists had flocked to IDEP, training programmes were also organized in the areas of public health in collaboration with the WHO involving the participation of medical doctors and health officials from different parts of Africa.

At IDEP, the debate was invariably controversial. IDEP was focussing –under the helm of Samir Amin– on the contradictions of the so-called post colonial era, as well as on the policies to be adopted by African governments. I recall the heated debates on the post-colonial socialist governments in Somalia and Yemen among others, not to mention discussion on the ongoing struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, the wars of liberation in Mozambique, Angola and Zimbabwe.

Samir Amin had created a progressive niche within the United Nations system. IDEP was under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Africa based in Addis Ababa. Eventually, upon Samir Amin’s departure in 1980, the UN bureaucracy transformed IDEP into “politically correct” entity within UN system. Samir Amin was IDEP’s director for a ten year period (1970-80).

The legacy of Samir Amin transcends an entire generation of scholars and researchers.

I last met up with Samir Amin a few years ago at a Conference venue in Brussels focussing on war crimes in Iraq.

His lifelong contributions to political economy and the economics of developing countries will live.

Samir Amin’s legacy will live.

Below is a recent article by Samir Amin, first published by Global Research in July 2017, focussing on the need to rebuild  an international people’s movement against global capitalism.

Michel Chossudovsky, August 14, 2018


1

For the last thirty years the world system has undergone an extreme centralization of power in all its dimensions, local and international, economic and military, social and cultural.

Some thousand giant corporations and some hundreds of financial institutions that have formed cartels among themselves, have reduced national and globalized production systems to the status of sub-contractors. In this way the financial oligarchies appropriate a growing share of the profits from labour and from companies that have been transformed into rent producers for their exclusive benefit.

Having domesticated the main right-wing and left-wing parties the unions and the organizations of the so-called civil society, these oligarchies now also exercise absolute political power as well as the media that is subordinated to them, creating the necessary disinformation to depoliticize public opinion. The oligarchies have annihilated the traditional practice of multi-partyism, replacing it to almost to a one-party system, controlled by capital. Representative democracy having lost all its meaning, has lost its legitimacy.

This late contemporary capitalism, which is a completely closed system, corresponds to the criteria of ‘totalitarianism’, although care is taken not to name it as such. The totalitarianism is still ‘soft’ but it is always ready to resort to extreme violence as soon as the victims – the majority of workers and peoples – begin to revolt. All changes that are part of this so-called ‘modernization’ must be seen in light of the foregoing analysis. This is thus the case of major ecological challenges (especially climate change) that capitalism is incapable of resolving (the Paris agreement of December 2016 was only a smokescreen), as well as scientific progress and technological innovations (including IT), which are rigorously subjected to the requirements of the financial profit that they can make for the monopolies. The glorification of competitiveness and the freedom of the market that the subservient media present as guarantees of the freedom and efficiency of civil society are indeed the antithesis of the reality, which is riven by violent conflicts between fractions of the existing oligarchies and is the cause for the destructive effects of their governance.

2

At the world level, contemporary capitalism always follows the same imperialist logic that was typical as it became globalized from the start (the colonization of the 19th century was clearly a form of globalization). Contemporary ‘globalization’ does not escape this logic: it is nothing else but a new form of imperialist globalization. This term ‘globalization’, so often used without any definition, hides an important fact: the deployment of systematic strategies that have been developed by the historical imperialist powers (United States, Western and Central European countries, Japan, which I shall call ‘the Triad’) that continue to pillage the resources of the Global South and the super-exploitation of its labour that is associated with delocalization and subcontracting. These powers intend to maintain their ‘historical privilege’ and to prevent all the other nations from extricating themselves from the status of dominated peripheries. The history of the last century was in fact that of the revolt of the peoples of the peripheries of the world system who were engaged in a socialist de-linking or in attenuated forms of national liberation, whose page has, for the moment, been turned. The re-colonization now under way, which has no legitimacy, is therefore fragile.

For this reason the historical imperialist powers of the Triad have set up a system of collective military control over the planet, directed by the United States. Membership of NATO, which is inextricably linked to the construction of Europe, as also the militarization of Japan, reflects the requirement of this new collective imperialism which has taken over the national imperialisms (of the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, France and a few others) which were formerly in permanent and violent conflict.

In these conditions, constructing an international front of workers and the peoples of the whole world has to be the main objective of the struggle to meet the challenge of counteracting the spreading of contemporary imperialist capitalism.

3

Confronted by this tremendous challenge, the inadequacy of the struggles being carried out by the victims of the system is all too apparent. Their weaknesses are of different kinds which I would classify under the following headings:

i) the extreme fragmentation of the struggles, whether at the local or world level, which are always specific and conducted in particular places and subject-matters (ecology, women’s rights, social services, community demands, etc.) The rare campaigns conducted at the national or even world level have not had any significant success in that they have not forced any changes of the policies being carried out by those in power. Many of these struggles have been absorbed by the system and foster the illusion that it is possible to reform it.

Nevertheless, there has been an enormous acceleration in the process of generalized proletarianization.  Almost all the populations in the central capitalist countries are now subjected to the status of waged workers selling their labour. The industrialization of regions in the Global South has created worker proletariats and salaried middle classes while their peasantries are now fully integrated into the market system. But the political strategies employed by the powerful have succeeded in fragmenting this gigantic proletariat into diverse fractions that are often in conflict with each other. This contradiction must be overcome.

ii) The peoples of the Triad (USA, Western and Central Europe, Japan) have renounced international anti-imperialist solidarity, which has been replaced at best by ‘humanitarian’ campaigns and ‘aid’ programmes that are controlled by the capital of the monopolies. The European political forces that inherited left-wing traditions thus now support the imperialist vision of existing globalization.

iii) A new right-wing ideology has gained support among the people.

In the North, the central theme of anti-capitalist class struggle has been abandoned, or reduced to a greatly incomplete expression – for the benefit of a so-called new definition of the left-wing ‘partner culture’ or communitarianism, separating the defence of specific rights from the general fight against capitalism.

In certain countries of the South, the tradition of struggles that associated the anti-imperialist struggle with social progress has given way to reactionary backward-looking illusions expressed by religions or pseudo ethics.  In other countries of the South, the successful acceleration of economic growth over the last decades feeds the illusion that it is possible to construct a ‘developed’ national capitalism capable of imposing its active participation in shaping globalization.

4

The power of the oligarchies of contemporary imperialism seems to be indestructible, in the countries of the Triad and even at the world level (“the end of history”!). Public opinion subscribes to its disguise as ‘market democracy’, preferring it to its past adversary – socialism – which is invariably embellished by such odious sobriquets as criminal, nationalist or totalitarian autocracies.

However this system is not viable for many reasons:

i) Contemporary capitalism is presented as being ‘open’ to criticism and reform, as innovative and flexible.  Some voices claim to put an end to the abuses of its uncontrolled finance and the permanent austerity policies that accompany it – and thus ‘save capitalism’. But such calls will remain in vain as present practices serve the interests of the oligarchs of the Triad – the only ones that count – as they guarantee the continual increase of wealth in spite of the economic stagnation that besets their countries.

ii) The European sub-system is an integral part of imperial globalization. It was conceived in a reactionary spirit, that was anti-socialist and pro-imperialist, subordinate to the military command of the United States. Within it, Germany exercises its hegemony, particularly in the framework of the euro zone and over Eastern Europe which has been annexed just as Latin America has been annexed by the United States. ‘German Europe’ serves the nationalist interests of the German oligarchy, which are expressed with arrogance, as we saw in the Greek crisis. This Europe is not viable and its implosion has already started.

iii) The stagnation of growth in the countries of the Triad contrasts with the acceleration in growth of regions in the South which have been able to profit from globalization. It has been concluded too hastily that capitalism is alive and well, even if its centre of gravity is moving from the old countries of Atlantic West to the South, particularly Asia. In actual fact the obstacles to pursuing this historical corrective movement are likely to become increasingly violent, including military aggression. The imperial powers do not intend to allow any country of the periphery – great or small – to free themselves from domination.

iv) The ecological devastation that is necessarily associated with capitalist expansion is reinforcing the reasons why this system is not viable.

We are now in the phase of the ‘autumn of capitalism’ without this being strengthened by the emergence of ‘the people’s spring’ and a socialist perspective. The possibility of substantial progressive reforms of capitalism in its current stage is only an illusion. There is no alternative other than that enabled by a renewal of the international radical left, capable of carrying out – and not just imagining – socialist advances. It is necessary to end crisis-ridden capitalism rather than try to end the crisis of capitalism.

Based on a first hypothesis, nothing decisive will affect the attachment of the peoples of the Triad to their imperialist option, especially in Europe. The victims of the system will remain incapable of conceiving their way out of the paths that have been traced by the ‘European project’ which has to be deconstructed before it can then be reconstructed with another vision. The experiences of Syriza, Podemos and France Insoumise , the hesitations of Die Linke and others testify to the extent and complexity of the challenge. The facile accusation of ‘nationalism’ of those critical of Europe does not hold water. The European project is increasingly visible as being that of the bourgeois nationalism of Germany. There is no alternative in Europe, as elsewhere, to the setting up of national, popular and democratic projects (not bourgeois, indeed anti-bourgeois) that will begin the delinking from imperialist globalization. It is necessary to deconstruct the extreme centralization of wealth and the power that is associated with the system.

According to this hypothesis, the most probable outcome will be a remake of the 20th century: advances made exclusively in some of the peripheries of the system. But these advances will remain fragile, as have those of the past, and for the same reason – the permanent warfare waged against them by the imperialist power centres, the success of which is greatly due to their own limits and deviations.

Whereas the hypothesis of a worker and people’s internationalism opens up the way to further evolutions that are necessary and possible.

The first of these ways is that of the ‘decadence of civilization’. In that case, these evolutions are not to be masterminded by anyone, their trail must be blazed only by the needs created by the situation. However, in our epoch, given the power of ecological and military destruction and the disposition of the powerful to use it, the risk, denounced by Marx in his time, that there is a very real risk that the fighting will destroy all the camps that oppose each other. The second path, by contrast, will require the lucid and organized intervention of the international front of the workers and the peoples.

5

Creating a new Internationale of workers and peoples must be the main objective for the genuine militants who are convinced of the odious nature of the world imperialist capitalist system that we have at present. It is a heavy responsibility and the task requires several years before giving any tangible results. As for myself, I put forward the following proposals:

i) The aim should be to establish an Organization (the new Internationale) and not just a ‘movement’.   This involves moving beyond the concept of a discussion forum. It also involves analysing the inadequacies of the notion, still prevalent, that the ‘movements’ claim to be horizontal and are hostile to so-called vertical organizations on the pretext that the latter are by their very nature anti-democratic: that the organization is, in fact, the result of action which by itself generates ‘leaders’. The latter can aspire to dominate, even manipulate the movements. But it is also possible to avoid this danger through appropriate statutes. This should be discussed.

ii) The experience of the worker Internationales should be seriously studied, even if they belong to the past. This should be done, not in order to ‘choose’ a model among them, but to invent the most suitable form for contemporary conditions.

iii) Such an invitation should be addressed to a good number of combative parties and organizations. A committee should first be set up to get the project started.

iv) I don’t want to make this text any heavier. However, I attach some complementary texts (in English and in French):

  1. a fundamental text on the unity and diversity of movements towards socialism in modern history;
  2. a text on the implosion of the European project;
  3. some texts on: the audacity required for renewing the radical left; reading Marx; the new agrarian question; the lesson of October 1917 and of Maoism; the necessary renewal of national, popular projects.

This article was originally published by Defend Democracy Press.

Featured image is from The Intentional Workplace.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Samir Amin: The Workings of Contemporary Capitalism: It Is Imperative to Reconstruct the Internationale of Workers and Peoples

World Acclaimed Marxist Thinker Samir Amin Dies

August 14th, 2018 by Mohammed Saad

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

World acclaimed Egyptian economist and thinker, Samir Amin, has died on Sunday in Paris. He was 86.

Amin was born in Egypt in 1931 to an Egyptian father and French mother and spent his youth in Port Said. After studying in Egypt, he continued his diploma in political science in Paris in 1952, before getting a degree in statistics and then a doctorate in economics.

He worked first in Cairo at the Institute for Economic Management from 1957 to 1960 then moved between countries until becoming director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 1980.

He authored many books including The Liberal Virus 2003, A life Looking Forward 2006, Accumulation on a World Scale 1970 and Capitalism in the age of globalization 1997.

In an interview with Ahram Online in 2012 Samir Amin said that he believes that

“this neo-liberal phase is in state of collapse. It doesn’t mean that capitalism is collapsing; but that its current form is collapsing and we’re entering a new phase. It has to adapt, and whether the new system will be biased to the ruling class or the masses, is still to be revealed.”

He also said that

“We should not just look at the Muslim Brotherhood as a political Islamist power but as a backward movement that rejects workers movements and social justice, preferring to talk about charity as a form to ensure their control over the people.  The Islamists accept the policies of dependency under the guise of open market and private ownership rights; they openly accepted the American role in the region and the USA support for Israel, including the Camp David agreements.”

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on World Acclaimed Marxist Thinker Samir Amin Dies

Maduro Shows His Strength, Looks Death in the Face

August 14th, 2018 by Misión Verdad

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

During an event attended by thousands on Bolivar Avenue in the city of Caracas, on the occasion of the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, two drones exploded close to the Presidential stand, as the country’s head of state was finishing his speech to the crowd.

According to police accounts, the nature of the explosive material the drones carried was confirmed when they crashed. “Unofficial” sources told an opposition journalist named Román Camacho that the artifacts contained C4 plastic explosives.

Minutes after the explosions, a group calling itself Soldados de Franelas (T-shirt Soldiers) took credit for the attack. They have been linked to the now-defunct paramilitary CICPC (Scientific, Penal and Criminology Research Corps) led by Óscar Pérez, which at the end of last year carried out several armed attacks on civilian and military institutions in the country, publicly taking credit on social media.

This acknowledgement on their part invalidated the narrative disseminated about a “self-attack” or an “isolated explosion” in a building adjacent to Bolívar Avenue, which some operatives on social media, and international news outlets like the Associated Press, have attempted to present, to distract attention from the perpetuators and shield those responsible.

The cell led by Pérez was dismantled by the country’s security forces earlier this year, but its remnants have returned to the stage, indicating that some are still willing to play the paramilitary card in Venezuela.

Initial investigations, according to Maduro, revealed the involvement of the Bogotá-Miami connection, of exiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and Florida-based agents.

Venezuela’s President during an event celebrating the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard. Photo: TELESUR

The assassination attempt also featured its share of symbolic violence, directed specifically toward entities responsible for the nation’s stability and the state in general. The nature of the event, and those present on the Presidential stand, reflect a purposeful selection of the moment for such an operation.

Being celebrated was the anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, the military corps charged with maintaining internal order. Attacking the President precisely during this event, and not some other, bore a special symbolic element meant to show that the corps was vulnerable and incapable of a response in such situations.

But the attack failed, along with what was supposed to happen subsequently, if the President’s life had been affected. The scenario planned was to foment chaos, take advantage of the opportunity to generalize internationally the rhetoric of an uprising, and create a critical mass for external powers to fill the “vacuum” of authority, to “stabilize” the country, and impose a new President from among those waiting in the wings to govern.

The fact that the event was being broadcast live on national TV and radio reflects the intentional logic to imprint the spectacle, in the population’s collective imagination, as a turning point in the country’s contemporary history. They wanted not only to kill Maduro, but to make his death an unforgettable media event, nationally broadcast.

In politics, sometimes body language says more than any speech. And in this sense, President Maduro will go down in history precisely for his conduct during a defining moment. At the moment of the explosion, he looked unmoved, calm, even ready to continue his speech.

If this moment serves to show just how far those running the unconventional war against Venezuela are willing to go, it also serves to show Maduro’s determination and his strength, when looking death in the face.

It was the failed Blue Coup (2015) that clearly introduced into Venezuelan politics a type of political violence in which the armed conflict plays a key role.

This was when conspirators within the military began to find points of convergence, sponsors abroad, connections with the most demented elements of the Venezuelan opposition, as well as U.S. and Colombian financing for their anti-democratic agendas. Within this context, Julio Borges and Antonio Ledezma made a name for themselves as operatives of the dirty war.

Since this plot to bomb Miraflores and assassinate Maduro, to date, the operative evolution, expanding abilities, and more professional methods of these forces have been noted, along with their growing presence in the country’s political life.

Evidence of this was the degree of preparation of those involved in the urban war, the guarimbas (street barricades), of 2014 and 2017, along with the emergence of a local version of the Islamic State, in the case of Óscar Pérez and his co-conspirators, with a sophisticated, targeted sense of irregular violence. Their attacks on civilian and military institutions demonstrate this.

A report from the Bloomberg financial report, published in the month of June, reaffirmed what has been noted since the Blue Coup: Colombia has served as the base of operations, financing and coordinating the work of coup-plotters in Venezuela.

There was the so-called “Mission Constitution” was planned in Bogotá, with the backing of Colombian financiers and military men. The objective was to kidnap Maduro, and put him on trial, although the court in which this was to take place was not identified. Clearly some “Supreme Court in exile” was imagined, which could use the Colombian Congress building for the proceedings to “prosecute” Maduro.

The following sequence speaks for itself: After remaining silent for several months, the self-exiled Julio Borges, who never shies away from a coup, re-emerged on social media saying that the fall of Maduro was at hand. In unison, President Juan Manuel Santos also began to warn that the end of Maduro was imminent.

The economic recovery plan designed by the President and his government is a comprehensive strategy to address sensitive areas impacted by the economic war, and return the country to stability.

The plan involves the re-structuring of monetary and exchange rate policy, a reorganization of gasoline subsidies, and a hard currency market to undercut influence on the country’s system of prices exerted by dollar rates established in the parallel market.

In regions of eastern Colombia, political elites tied to drug trafficking and paramilitary forces, including those well established in the economic fabric of these areas, depend on ripping off Venezuelan gasoline to maintain an economic solvency that is in fact fictitious.

This attack is consistent with this new scenario of escalation which began after Maduro’s May 20 reelection, when an even worse sense of insecurity was imposed on the situation in Venezuela, in which all social life is at risk.

If the economic recovery plan looks to put a brake on this process, those who want to defeat the Venezuela people must disrupt it. If the sanctions and international pressure don’t work, if the population cannot be incited to oppose it, then the leader must be killed. This is the thinking that produced the assassinations of Patrice Lumumba, Omar Torrijos, and so many others. If the leader can’t be controlled, kill him.

In these circumstances, killing Maduro means fracturing a society, breaking it up for good. This is what they are trying to do, and once again have failed.

Israel Is Arming Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

August 14th, 2018 by Asa Winstanley

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Israeli arms are being sent to a heavily armed neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

Azov Battalion online propaganda shows Israeli-licensed Tavor rifles in the fascist group’s hands, while Israeli human rights activists have protested arms sales to Ukraine on the basis that weapons might end up with anti-Semitic militias.

In a letter “about licenses for Ukraine” obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the Israeli defense ministry’s arms export agency says they are “careful to grant licenses” to arms exporters “in full coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government entities.”

The 26 June letter was sent in reply to Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack who had written a detailed request demanding Israel end all military aid to the country.

Azov’s official status in the Ukrainian armed forces means it cannot be verified that “Israeli weapons and training” are not being used “by anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi soldiers,” Mack and 35 other human rights activists wrote.

They had written that Ukrainian armed forces use rifles made in Israel “and are trained by Israelis,” according to reports in the country.

The head of the Israeli arms export agency declined to deny the reports, or to even discuss cancellation of the weapons licenses, citing “security” concerns.

But Racheli Chen, the head of the agency, confirmed to Mack she had “carefully read your letter,” which detailed the fascist nature of Azov and the reports of Israeli arms and training.

Both the defense ministry letter and Mack’s original request can be read in the original Hebrew below.

Israeli rifles in Ukraine

The fact that Israeli arms are going to Ukrainian neo-Nazis is supported by Azov’s own online propaganda.

On its YouTube channel, Azov posted a video “review” of locally produced copies of two Israeli Tavor rifles – seen in this video:

A photo on Azov’s website also shows a Tavor in the hands of one of the militia’s officers.

The rifles are produced under licence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government.

IWI markets the Tavor as the “primary weapon” of the Israeli special forces.

It has been used in recent massacres of unarmed Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return protests in Gaza.

Fort, the Ukrainian state-owned arms company that produces the rifles under license, has a page about the Tavor on its website.

The Israel Weapon Industries logo also appears on its website, including on the “Our Partners” page.

Starting as a gang of fascist street thugs, the Azov Battalion is one of several far-right militias that have now been integrated as units of Ukraine’s National Guard.

Image on the right: This photo from Azov’s website shows an officer of the neo-Nazi militia armed with a version of Israel’s Tavor rifle. The Tavor is made under license from Israel by Ukraine’s national arms maker Fort.

Staunchly anti-Russian, Azov fought riot police during the 2013 US and EU-supported “Euromaidan” protests in the capital Kiev.

The protests and riots laid the ground for the 2014 coup which removed the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.

When the civil war began in eastern Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists, the new western-backed government began to arm Azov. The militia soon fell under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian interior ministry, and saw some of the most intense frontline combat against the separatists.

The group stands accused in United Nations and Human Rights Watch reports of committing war crimes against pro-Russian separatists during the ongoing civil war in the eastern Donbass region, including torture, sexual violence and targeting of civilian homes.

Today, Azov is run by Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister. According to the BBC, he pays its fighters, and has appointed one of its military commanders, Vadym Troyan, as his deputy – with control over the police.

Avakov last year met with the Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri to discuss “fruitful cooperation.”

Azov’s young founder and first military commander Andriy Biletsky is today a lawmaker in the Ukrainian parliament.

As journalist Max Blumenthal explained on The Real News in February, Biletsky has “pledged to restore the honor of the white race” and has advanced laws forbidding “race mixing.”

According to The Telegraph, Biletsky in 2014 wrote that “the historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led untermenschen.”

At a military training camp for children last year, The Guardian noticed that several Azov instructors had Nazi and other racist tattoos, including a swastika, the SS skull symbol and one that read “White Pride.”

One Azov soldier explained to The Guardian that he fights Russia because “Putin’s a Jew.”

Speaking to The Telegraph, another praised Adolf Hitler, said homosexuality is a “mental illness” and that the scale of the Holocaust “is a big question.”

An Azov drill sergeant once told USA Today “with a laugh” that “no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis.”

An Azov spokesperson played that down, claiming that “only 10-20 percent” of the group’s members were Nazis.

Nonetheless, the sergeant “vowed that when the war ends, his comrades will march on the capital, Kiev, to oust a government they consider corrupt.”

After Azov’s founder Andriy Biletsky entered parliament, he threatened to dissolve it.

“Take my word for it,” he said, “we have gathered here to begin the fight for power.”

Those promises were made in 2014, but there are early signs of them being fulfilled today.

This year the battalion has founded a new “National Militia” to bring the war home.

This well-organized gang is at the forefront of a growing wave of racist and anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine.

Led by its military veterans, it specializes in pogroms and thuggish enforcement of its political agenda.

Earlier this month, clad in balaclavas and wielding axes and baseball bats, members of the group destroyed a Romany camp in Kiev. In a YouTube video, apparently shot by the Azov thugs themselves, police turn up towards the end of the camp’s destruction.

They look on doing nothing, while the thugs cry, “Glory to the nation! Death to enemies!”

Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) met with the Ukranian prime minister last year to discuss deeper military ties. (Ukranian Government Portal)

Israel’s military aid to Ukraine and its neo-Nazis emulates similar programs by the United States and other NATO countries including the UK and Canada.

So obsessed are they with defeating a perceived threat from Russia that they seem happy to aid even openly Nazi militias – as long as they fight on their side.

This is also a throwback to the early Cold War, when the CIA supported fascists and Hitlerites to infiltrate from Austria into Hungary in 1956, where they began slaughtering Hungarian communist Jews and Hungarian Jews as “communists.”

Recent postings on Azov websites document a June meeting with the Canadian military attaché, Colonel Brian Irwin.

According to Azov, the Canadians concluded the briefing by expressing “their hopes for further fruitful cooperation.”

Irwin acknowledged receipt of an email from The Electronic Intifada, but did not answer questions about his meeting with the fascist militia.

A spokesperson for the Canadian defense department later sent a statement claiming that their “training of Ukrainian Armed Forces through Operation Unifier incorporates strong human rights elements.”

They said Canada is “strongly opposed to the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism” but that “every country must come to grips with difficult periods in its past.”

The spokesperson, who did not provide a name, wrote that Canadian training “includes ongoing dialogue on the development of a diverse, and inclusive Ukraine.”

The statement said nothing about how alleged Canadian diversity training goes down with the Azov Battalion.

Also part of Colonel Irwin’s meeting was the head of Azov’s officer training academy, an institution named after right-wing Ukrainian nationalist Yevhen Konovalets.

Konovalets is one of the group’s idols, whose portrait frequently adorns its military iconography.

Konovalets was the founder of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which later allied itself to Nazi Germany during its invasion of the Soviet Union.

The OUN took part in the notorious 1941 Lviv massacre, when the Nazis invaded Soviet territory.

During the pogrom, thousands of Jews were massacred in the now-Ukrainian city.

US aid to Nazis

Canada is of course not the only NATO “ally” to be sending arms to Ukraine.

As Max Blumenthal has extensively reported, US weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, and training have been provided to Azov.

Under pressure from the Pentagon, a clause in the annually renewed defense bill banning US aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion was repeatedly stripped out.

This went on for three straight years before Democratic lawmaker Ro Khanna and others pushed it through earlier this year.

For his trouble Khanna was smeared in Washington as a “K Street sellout” who was “holding Putin’s dirty laundry.”

Despite the ban finally passing, Azov’s status as an official unit of the Ukrainian armed forces leaves it unclear how US aid can be separated out.

Image below: A now-deleted photo from an Azov website showed US-licensed RPGs were going to the neo-Nazi militia.

In 2014, the Israel lobby groups ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help a previous attempt to bar US aid to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine.

The ADL argued that “the focus should be on Russia,” while the Wiesenthal Center pointed to the fact that other far-right leaders had met at the Israeli embassy in Ukraine – as if that somehow absolved their anti-Semitic views.

Attempts by some in Congress to bar US military aid to Nazis in Ukraine may explain military aid from Israel.

Israel’s “deepening military-technical cooperation” with Ukraine and its fascist militias is likely a way to help its partner in the White House, and is another facet of the growing Zionist-White Supremacist alliance.

Israel has historically acted as a useful route through which US presidents and the CIA can circumvent congressional restrictions on aid to various unsavory groups and governments around the world.

In 1980s Latin America, these included the Contras, who were fighting a war against the left-wing revolutionary government of Nicaragua, as well as a host of other Latin American fascist death squads and military dictatorships.

It also included the South African apartheid regime, which Israeli governments of both the “Zionist left” and Likudnik right armed for decades.

As quoted in Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s book Dangerous Liaison, one former member of the Israeli parliament, General Mattityahu Peled, put it succinctly: “In Central America, Israel is the ‘dirty work’ contractor for the US administration. Israel is acting as an accomplice and an arm of the United States.”

Amid an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, Israel now appears to be reprising this role in eastern Europe.

*

With translation from Hebrew by Dena Shunra.

Asa Winstanley is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.


Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Those responsible for knowingly turning an essentially fire-safe building into a lethal gas chamber and fire-trap, have no doubt long since liquidated their assets in Britain and moved abroad.

What kind of country has a judicial system that allows professionals to blanket a residential high-rise block in a fire-accelerant cladding that was well known to release lethal hydrogen cyanide (Zyklon B gas) when ignited and that would burn alive anyone surviving the deadly fumes?

And for those responsible to take their profits and then to evade justice?

Grenfell Tower is a crime scene in which 71 people were either asphyxiated or burned alive as a result of gross criminal negligence.  After over a year, why has no person been prosecuted, to date?

Where are those Councillors, landlords, building owners, architects, surveyors, building inspectors, fire inspectors, building contractors, cladding suppliers and insulation manufacturers?

They have all made a mockery of the British justice system.  We are a country ruled by get-rich-quick professionals, local politicians and businessmen who are allowed to act as they please without any fear of retribution whatsoever.

Even, apparently, in cases of multiple manslaughter.

Sadly, we really do appear to have transmogrified into a banana Republic with a corrupt elite, an impotent police force and a compliant judiciary. How sad!

*

Hans Stehling (pen name) is an analyst based in the UK. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

A Raytheon Mark 82 general-purpose free-fall bomb was likely used by the Saudi-led coalition to strike a bus full of children in Yemen on Thursday, a local journalist claims, after bomb fragments from the scene were recovered.

The Saudi-led coalition struck a school bus in the Dahyan area of the Houthi-controlled Saada province last Thursday, leaving 51 dead, most of them children, and injuring at least 79 others. Just as the dust was settling at the scene of the strike with charred bodies being recovered, locals found fragments of the bomb used.

Harrowing images from the site, shared by journalist Nasser Arrabyee, show fragments that appear to be from the 500-pound MK-82 bomb, which the US continues to sell to Saudi Arabia.

While the photo of the fragments has yet to be independently verified, pieces of MK-82 bombs have surfaced repeatedly amid the ongoing Yemen bombing campaign. The MK-82 made shocking headlines in 2016 when the Saudi-led coalition bombed a community hall in Sanaa during a funeral for Sheikh Ali al-Rawishan, killing more than 140 people and wounding 525 others.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia have repeatedly been condemned by human rights organizations, who view them as one of the main contributing factors to the skyrocketing death toll in the war-torn country. More than 10,000 people have been killed in three years of war, according to United Nations estimates, while the Saudi Arabian blockade continues to contribute to starvation and disease in the country.

Despite repeated calls by NGOs and even US lawmakers to halt arms supplies to the Saudis amid the ongoing conflict, in 2016 and 2017, the Pentagon went on to award Lockheed Martin/General Dynamics key contracts to supply the MK-82 500-pound bombs to the Arab coalition.

Yet, despite the apparent arms sale trail between Washington and Riyadh, the Pentagon advised earlier this week that it might be impossible to tell where the bomb that annihilated the school bus came from. In 2016, the US approved MK-82 sales to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, France, and Iraq, while extending the deal to Australia and Bahrain the following year.

“We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the US sold to them,”Army Maj. Josh Jacques, a spokesperson for US Central Command, told Vox. “We don’t have a lot of people on the ground.”

*

Featured image is from Antiwar.com

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

A newspaper article published in the Hebrew-language version of Israeli newspaper Haaretz has stated that the Israeli military (IDF) is intentionally targeting civilians in Gaza as a form of collective punishment aimed at placing Hamas — which Israel continues to regard as a resistance group, though it has governed Gaza since winning elections there in 2007 — “in a problematic situation.”

The article states that, after a rocket launched by Hamas’ armed wing landed in Beersheva,

“the IDF began to attack civilian targets, including population centers, with the goal of causing the residents to understand the price of escalation and placing Hamas in a problematic situation.”

In other words, the article acknowledges that the IDF is deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza to collectively punish all those living in Gaza for the primitive rockets allegedly launched by Hamas into Israeli territory.

The article goes on to claim that the IDF’s deliberate targeting of civilian sites is a “change in policy” for the IDF, as past Israeli airstrikes had “focused on Hamas’ clear military objectives, mostly in areas where civilian presence is sparse.” Yet, past airstrikes have targeted civilian infrastructure, which were then labeled, after the fact, as Hamas military sites and assets.

The tactics mentioned in the article seem to refer exclusively to IDF airstrikes, as the article does not mention the fact that the IDF, since March 30, has shot over 17,000 unarmed Palestinian civilians, killing at least 164, for approaching the Gaza-Israel border fence during recent protests. Furthermore, the IDF’s “change in policy” also comes after it was recently reported that the IDF has already killed a record number of Palestinian children in Gaza this year, with still just under five months to go.

Yet, in terms of airstrikes, this “new” IDF policy of targeting civilians is unsurprising given that Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman infamously asserted earlier this year that “there are no innocent people” in Gaza, despite the fact that around half of all Gazans are under the age of 18. Furthermore, the IDF had long targeted Gaza’s civilians in past military operations even before Hamas was voted into power in 2007, suggesting that the IDF’s justification of “punishing Hamas” is merely the pretext to justify the climbing civilian death toll in Gaza in the absence of a major military conflict.

A week of terror

The startling claim, which some analysts have called an open admission of war crimes, comes after a week of terror for Gazan civilians that resulted in several gruesome civilian deaths and the destruction of one of Gaza City’s most important cultural centers. The most disturbing of these events took place Wednesday night when an Israeli airstrike killed an 18-month-old girl, Bayan Khammash, and her mother, Inas, who was nine-months pregnant at the time of her death. Bayan’s father was injured but survived the attack.

Given the climbing civilian death toll in Gaza before and after this IDF “change in policy,” the Haaretz article seems to suggest that IDF attacks on Gazan civilians have become so brazen that it is no longer possible to claim that its targets are linked in any way to Hamas military assets. Thus, the new policy does not represent a change in actual military policy but instead represents a change in the justification for that military policy, as the IDF can no longer hide the fact that civilians are being intentionally targeted.

Above all else, the admission in Haaretz is the ultimate expression of the IDF’s impunity, as its war crimes against Palestinians have been ignored for so long that it now openly admits that it is targeting civilians in the world’s largest “open air prison.”

*

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Local action on climate is both an essential and available path for ecological transformation. Local action does not require permission from Washington or from Paris. Action overcomes despair. Local action and planning for sustainability is essential to mitigate the consequences of emerging climate catastrophe and chart the path for a transition to a sustainable ecological civilization.

Seven simple numbers with global consequences can help guide local action and the pursuit of crucial ecological goals. They will serve as co-evolutionary force with global geophysical impact. Life on earth has meant life’s co-evolution with the biosphere, for instance, creating the oxygen atmosphere and maintaining just enough carbon dioxide to keep the planet not too hot and not too cold. Co-evolution is the strongest survival factor. It is sustainability in action, the driving force behind life’s ability to withstand periodic mass extinctions and once again thrive.

Self-conscious human activity has been able to pour enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and other green house gases into the atmosphere changing the climate. Now it is our time to self-consciously not only stop carbon-dioxide pollution, but to remove and sequester carbon in land and ocean biomass and into soil.

Our local responsibility with healing global consequence is to both slash greenhouse gas emissions, and to remove carbon dioxide by soil building, tree planting and a new global aquaculture producing enormous amounts of kelp and algae in the oceans to pull many gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Now is the time for humanity’s self-conscious action to respond to and mitigate the consequences of pollution and habit destruction unleashed by industrial civilization.

The issue on the table is not to figure out how close to catastrophe we can get without upsetting the polluters, but to make a 180 degree turn from catastrophe and work toward both slashing carbon dioxide emissions at least 80 percent or more by 2040, and at the same time sequester many gigatons of carbon in soil and biomass through an exercise in global cooling. This will be the policy and investment basis for turning from business and pollution as usual to building an ecological civilization.

An ecological civilization will be one that nurtures and maintains the balance of the ecosphere with the intention of persisting on geological time scales, millions and millions of years. Human actions needs to attempt to reduce atmospheric carbon and ocean acidity from dissolved carbon dioxide become carbonic acid to pre-industrial levels.

For this to happen, economic growth must mean ecological improvement and the regeneration of ecosystems and the biosphere and a global convergence upon sustainable and just norms for all. The context of this is the global adoption of efficient renewable resource to replace fossil and nuclear fuels, installation of an ecological productive infrastructure, ecological agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and the pursuit of social and ecological justice.

This is an aggressive ecological economic growth and investment strategy that benefits everyone, that makes ecological conduct, social and ecological justice the basis for new ecological market rules, and an ecological definition of fiduciary responsibility. This is a plan to end global poverty, replace a war system with a peace system. This is based on the common pursuit of self-interest, and building an ecological global civilization that will be richer, greener, more peaceful, fairer, healthier and sustainable.

Renewable resources are already replacing fossil fuels at an astounding and accelerating pace. Fossil fuels in the ground, as well as both fossil fuel and nuclear plants are rapidly becoming stranded assets. Even Saudi Arabia is working to building a renewable economy. The issues we need to address are the nature of new market rules to accelerate this process and to support the distributed and fair ownership of assets in the efficient renewable and zero-pollution/zero-waste future that I will discuss in further detail in future articles.

The bottom line, is that the reduction of carbon dioxide to a sustainable 3 tons per person per year level combined with 3 tons of sequestration per person per year (and rising) is a recipe for an ecological global growth system that restores ecosystems, slashes pollution depletion and ecological damage and is predicated on the common pursuit of social and ecological justice. It is a high growth, high profit global system that equitably shares globally its benefits where the rich share investment capital and knowledge with the poor, and all pursue a global convergence on just and sustainable means for all. It relies on new ecological market rules, new legal requirements for fiduciary responsibility to make economic growth proceed within a context of leading to ecological improvement and supporting social justice. It means, over time, replacing a global war system with a peace system.

It means a much greener, much richer , much more peaceful world within the context of ecological economic growth and restoration of ecosystems and the pursuit of social and ecological justice, The conversion of market and planning must be toward ecological and just ends.

It’s an enormous job in the aggregate. But we just have to focus on the here and now and a rather simple series of steps.

Seven simple numbers can help guide our path forward.

Number One: 21 Gigatons of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Per Year

21 gigatons a year, that’s 21 billion metric tons. That’s roughly the amount of carbon dioxide that the biosphere can handle and maintain the concentration of carbon relatively constant and keep our climate in the goldilocks zone, just right for ecosphere, for humanity, and for agriculture, fishing,and aquaculture that supports of 7.2 billion and rising population.

Carbon dioxide is both the most significant and long-lasting global green house gas. Methane, nitrogen oxides, refrigeration chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) also must be considered and included in our emission reduction planning and actions, but for now we will focus on carbon dioxide.

21 gigatons is a dynamic number reflecting responses to changing conditions of the ecosphere. Historically, events such as mass volcanic eruptions in the Eocene, some fifty million years ago, led to spiking of global carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures soaring in the Eocene thermal maximum.

All the ice melted, ocean levels were 70 feet higher, the Arctic and Antarctic tropical. This persisted until, some hundreds of thousands years later, a great mat of duck weed and micro-algae growing in the warm Arctic ocean pulled many gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and returned the planet to a more familiar climate regime. The lesson is that the planet is likely to do just fine, eventually, without a mega polluting industrial civilization.

Number Two: 3 Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalents per Person Per Year

For 7 billion of us globally, 3 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per person per year is a roughly sustainable 21 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, for big polluters like the U.S., the average carbon dioxide output per person is almost 17 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year. This is far above the global average of about 7.5 tons of carbon per person per year. In a poor country like Mali carbon dioxide emissions per person per year are only.1 tons; Italy 5.3 tons (and falling) ; India 1.7 tons (and rising); China 7.5 tons (and rising), Australia 15.4 tons (slightly rising).

To get to a sustainable 3 tons in the United States, we have to reduce 14 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year. That’s the challenge. The place to meet the global challenge is where we live, starting right now.

The oil and gas and coal to light and heat and cool our houses and power factories and our cars is extracted and sometimes shipped thousands of miles by a huge and enormously polluting and destructive global industrial system. Oil and gas and coal is burnt releasing about 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution every year.

A sad fact of chemistry and physics is that one atom carbon under combustion combines with two atoms of oxygen therefore producing about 3.7 pounds of carbon dioxide gas for each pound of carbon in fossil fuel. The sun and the wind and water that can replace all fossil fuels and stop that carbon pollution is available with zero fuel cost.

One kilowatt hour of electricity, on average, in the U.S. releases 1.22 pounds of carbon dioxide. In 2017 coal and natural gas produced 2,481 billion kWh of electicity in the U.S. according to the U.S. EIA. Replacing them with renewable resources would mean more than 1.4 gigatons carbon per year or 3.9 tons of carbon dioxide per year for each of 350 million Americans. That’s a meaningful bite out of the 14 tons per person carbon dioxide per year. 1.4 gigatons of carbon is also 4% of global excess 33 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Renewable electricity has two basic tasks for an ecological future:

  • Replace all fossil fuel and nuclear electric generation;
  • Expand use of much more efficient electric power to our cars and trucks, our factories and heating and cooling to eliminate fossil fuel combustion.

A six megawatt solar photovoltaic PV project that I originated is mechanically complete and will come on line later this year. It will produce 7.2 million kWh a year and offset almost 4000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year and around 105,000 metric tons of carbon in 30 years that will have a small, but real impact on atmospheric carbon.

Locally for the 1,750 people in Beckett, MA, this means Becket, if it uses the power would cut its carbon dioxide by 2.2 tons per person per year.

Getting to a sustainable emissions of three tons of carbon dioxide per person per year in your community, we need to understand where we are now and make plans to where we want to take advantage of all available technological, legal, financial tools at hands. Start by conducting a local carbon inventory using available online tools such as the World Resources Institute that systematically allows you to understand your carbon profile, and use that as the basis for long-term step by step local plans. (See this) subscribe We may not control what happens nationally. With our neighbors, we have a great deal more say about our town.

Local planning for 3 tons of carbon per person per year and an ecological transformation means understanding the strongly positive effect of things like air to air heat pumps to replace fossil fuel heating and hot water; of improved building efficiency cutting infiltration and increasing insulation; of using electric vehicles that plug into your house and the gird; of district heating and cooling systems;of using organic wastes for compost to build soil and sequester carbon, for bio-digesters and syn (synthetic) gas production to displace fossil fuels; and replace fossil fuel electricity with renewably powered micro-grids and energy storage systems.; and on and on. As we adopt zero-pollution-zero waste production methods, and ecological agriculture, forestry and aquaculture we adopt a more sustainable future.

This is planning not for economic stringency,but for sustainable long-term economic growth that makes economic growth mean ecological improvement and sustainable communities.

Number Four: Fifty-four Gigatons of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Per Year Globally

In 2017, global carbon dioxide emissions were 54 gigatons. This means an excess of 33 gigatons of carbon per year above a sustainable 21 gigatons. This excess 33 gigatons is overwhelming produced by the “advanced” industrial economies, in other words, by the largest polluters with the largest economies. The excess 33 gigatons is decidedly not distributed evenly among the world’s seven billion people.

If carbon pollution was spread evenly, 33 gigatons of excess would mean an excess of about 4.7 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year. A substantial number, but well within the ability of “off the shelf technology” to handle rather easily.

What does the current excess of 33 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year mean to the atmosphere and to our climate and our future. 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide equals .127 parts per million atmospheric C0-2. Fortunately the earth and atmosphere recycle and sequester a substantial portion of this carbon dioxide. Some becomes biomass and then soil. Some dissolves in oceans and becomes carbonic acid that’s now steadily acidifying oceans and will pose eventually a grave threat to marine plankton. Without ecological mediation of carbon the current yearly emissions of 54 gigatons with an excess of 33 gigatons increases global carbon dioxide levels by about 4.4 ppm a year. The actual average increase is now about half that or 2.25 ppm a year.

Around 450 ppm climate scientists of the IPCC predict we will reach the 2 degree centigrade temperature rise limit chosen by the Paris Climate accords as the limit on dangerous but tolerable. If we keep up emitting an extra 33 extra gigatons a year that’s just 20 years or 2038.

What happens in the next 20 years is crucial for the future of civilization

There is typically a lag in how quickly climate change’s consequences manifest. It takes time,for example, for ice to melt and for global currents to alter as ocean salinity changes, which can substantially slow the Gulf Stream with dramatic effects on climate in Europe and the United States. But once changes on geophysical scale become manifest chaotic dynamics rule as the ecosphere finds new semi-stable equilibrium that will almost certainly be far less favorable for existing human activities, most crucially agriculture.

Number Five: 286 Parts Per Million of Carbon-dioxide

In pre-industrial times carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 286 parts per million (ppm) of carbon (.0286%) . In July 2018 carbon dioxide reached 412 ppm, the highest level in 800,000 years. In 2017, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a rate of 1.91 ppm per year.You can watch in real time the fluctuating carbon dioxide measurements from the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii.

450 ppm is supposedly the “bad magic number” that will lead to reaching or exceeding the 2 degree centigrade temperature increase deemed marginally tolerable by the Paris Climate Conference.

The common global goal must be to return the atmosphere and global ecosphere to re-industrial conditions in the context of a global ecological civilization where economic growth means ecological improvement.

Number Six: Sequester Three Tons of Carbon Dioxide Per Person Per year in Soil and Biomass

Eliminating the 33 extra gigatons of carbon dioxide a year is not only the real number that our actions are measured in. We have simply run out of time to reduce emissions while global carbon dioxide levels increase. What we can do, while we reduce emissions and the rate of increase in carbon dioxide, is at the same time to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it in soil and biomass.

Thus the job is two fold. While we are cutting emissions back to three tons, we have to pursue global cooling activities through agriculture and aquaculture to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it in soils and biomass on land and sea working toward a similar 3 tons of carbon dioxide sequestered per person per year. This means removing 21 gigatons per year of carbon dioxide, or 2.7 ppm per year.

We need as soon as possible to be both cutting our emissions to approach 3 tons of carbon dioxide er person per year to a global 21 gigatons and at the same time remove carbon-dioxide at a similar rate of 3 tons per person per year and therefore reduce atmospheric carbon by 21 gigatons per year or 2.7 ppm per year.

Ecological economic growth in part will mean the global transformation of agriculture, aquaculture, forestry so that they become the source not only of expanded and sustainable global food production but the basis for removal of many gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to return global carbon dioxide to pre-industrial levels of 286 parts per million. Global carbon dioxide removal activities should have a per capital global target, for example, one ton per person per year or 7 gigatons globally per year. That must become apart of an ecological transformation strategy

Number Seven: Eight 4 Year Plans for Global Ecological Transformation 2018-2040

Starting with a local Town, City, or Neighborhood carbon inventory we can start to make comprehensive plans for:

  • Reducing carbon emissions to 3 tons of carbon per person per year and declining through an efficient renewable energy transformation;
  • Removing atmospheric carbon and sequestering in soil and biomass at rates of 3 tons per person per year and rising;
  • Mitigation plans for climate change consequences;
  • Ecological economic development to make the productive investments for renewable energy transformation, and for industry, agriculture, forestry that will make economic growth mean ecological improvement.

This plans should be conducted on the basis of goal setting and back planning from reaching the ultimate goals and concrete steps technically, physically, financially, regulatory, and educationally needed to get from here to there.
The planning horizon should be eight 4 year plans to move from business and pollution as usual to the beginning of an ecological transformation and escape from the worst affects of climate catastrophe.

Conclusion

Left to their own devices, global government conferences and the financial masters of the universe are unlikely to do what needs to be done to avert climate catastrophe, let alone to put us on the path toward a prosperous and peaceful ecological civilization.

We have the power now to start from where we are to make and implement plans for achieving a 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year sustainable global standard combined with sequestration in soil and biomass to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Overtime, through eight 4 year local plans, we can transform by 2040 our neighborhood, town, city far along the path toward an ecological future.

The next article from Climate Truth will be discussions of how to make and implement plans to build a sustainable local renewable resource economy, and how towns and local residents can finance, build and own renewable energy infrastructure and micro-grids to come, taking advantage of back leverage tax equity financing, using financial tools typically employed just by the wealthy applied for common good.

It’s time for us to look up and open our eyes to creative and transformative possibilities. The sun is rising,the wind blows, and water flows.

*

Roy Morrison‘s latest Book is Sustainability Sutra (Select Books, 2017).He builds solar farms.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Climate Truth: Seven Key Numbers for Sustainability and Local Action

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Bayer AG shares are down over 12% this morning – the biggest drop ever – to the lowest levels since October 2013, amid investor anxiety over the potential future legal costs associated with newly-acquired Monsanto’s RoundUp weedkiller.

As we detailed Friday,  a San Francisco Jury awarded $289 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, who said Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller gave him terminal cancer.

The trial was an important test of the evidence against Monsanto and will serve as a template for litigating thousands of other claims over the herbicide.

As Bloomberg reports, the verdict surprised Bayer investors and may stir up memories of the scandal over cholesterol-lowering pill Lipobay, said Markus Mayer, an analyst with Baader Bank AG. Bayer paid more than $1.1 billion to settle suits over the heart drug.

“Investors might worry that this will become a ‘Lipobay 2.0,’” Mayer said.

The company, whose market value fell by more than 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) Monday, says Roundup is safe.

“They’re going to appeal, and we’re going to have to see what happens then,” said Ulrich Huwald, an analyst with Warburg Research in Hamburg. Even if Bayer doesn’t face similar verdicts in other cases, the company may need to pay out settlements. “As the northern Germans say, ‘In court and on the high seas, you’re in God’s hands.’”

Bayer closed a deal to buy Monsanto for $66 billion in June. If the litigation generates large verdicts, it could have a material impact on Bayer’s bottom line, said Chris Perrella, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Syrian government forces have achieved a series of local successes in the framework of their operation against ISIS cells in the province of al-Suwayda.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) restored control of the administrative border of the province after had cleared about 400km2 in its eastern part and had besieged the remaining ISIS members in the area of Safa.

By Monday, the SAA, the NDF and the SSNP have launched a final push to purge ISIS terrorists in this area.

While the Syrian military is finishing its operation in eastern al-Suwayda, the Tiger Forces, led by General Suheil al-Hassan, have started their redeployment from the provinces of Quneitra and Daraa to the northern part of Hama province.

On August 10 and August 11, at least three convoys of the Tiger Forces were sported en route to northern Hama. They included battle tanks, OTR-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missile launchers, UR-77 mine clearing vehicles, BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers, vehicles armed with machine guns, a large number of artillery pieces and other equipment.

Syrian pro-government and pro-militant sources expect that the al-Ghab Plains will become a main target of the upcoming operation of the Syrian military.

On August 11, units of Russian Military Police were deployed on the Murak crossing between the government-held and militant-held areas in norther Hama. According to pro-militant sources, they will establish a new humanitarian corridor allowing civilians to leave the militant-held part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Possible civilian casualties are one of the key issues delaying an implementation of military option against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies in Idlib by the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance.

Separately, the Turkish state-run media speculated that about 1,300 members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were deployed in the government-controlled area in the northern part of Aleppo province. The Turkish media claimed that members of the Kurdish armed groups will be involved in an upcoming attack by pro-government forces on the so-called moderate opposition.

While no photos or videos have been released to confirm these claims, these reports reflect the Turkish reaction on the recent rapprochement between Damascus and Kurdish factions in Syria.

A possible improvement of relations between the YPG, which currently receives support from the US, and the Assad government is something what Ankara does not want to see. So, the Erdogan government may soon attempt to impact relations between the sides through diplomatic channels as well as many make another attempt to increase military pressure on the YPG.

*

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

U.S. Is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen

August 13th, 2018 by Kathy Kelly

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

On August 9, a U.S.-supported Saudi airstrike bombed a bus carrying schoolchildren in Sa’ada, a city in northern Yemen. The New York Times reported that the students were on a recreational trip. According to the Sa’ada health department, the attack killed at least forty-three people.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, at least twenty-nine of those killed were children under the age of fifteen, and forty-eight people were wounded, including thirty children.

CNN aired horrifying, heartbreaking footage of children who survived the attack being treated in an emergency room. One of the children, carrying his UNICEF issued blue backpack, is covered with blood and badly burned.

Commenting on the tragedy, CNN’s senior correspondent Nima Elbagir emphasized that she had seen unaired video which was even worse than what the CNN segment showed. She then noted that conditions could worsen because Yemen’s vital port of Hodeidah, the only port currently functioning in Yemen, has been under attack for weeks of protracted Saudi coalition-led airstrikes. Ms. Elbagir described the port of Hodeidah as “the only lifeline to bring in supplies to Yemen.”

“This conflict is backed by the U.S. and the U.K.,” Elbagir said, concluding her report with, “They are in full support of the Saudi-led activities in Yemen today.”

U.S. companies such as Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin have sold billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition which is attacking Yemen.

The U.S. military refuels Saudi and Emirati warplanes through midair exercises. And, the United States helps the Saudi coalition warmakers choose their targets.

Isa Blumi, an associate professor at Stockholm University and author of the book Destroying Yemen, has said the United States is “front and center responsible” for the Saudi coalition attacks.

Looking for a helpful way to describe U.S. support for the Saudi-Emirati operation in Yemen, journalist Samuel Oakford recently offered this comparison:

“If an airstrike was a drive-by and killed someone, the U.S. provided the car, the wheels, the servicing and repair, the gun, the bullets, help with maintenance of those—and the gas.”

The August 9 attack against children and other civilians follows a tragic and sordid list of Saudi-Emirati attacks causing carnage and extreme affliction in Yemen. On June 12, Doctors Without Borders reported an airstrike which destroyed its newly constructed facility for treatment of cholera, in the town of Abs, built in anticipation of a third epidemic outbreak of cholera in Yemen.

Scores of people were killed and wounded in an August 3 attack near the entrance to the port of Hodeidah’s Al Thawra hospital. Analysts examining the munitions used in the attack believe the killing and destruction was caused when United Arab Emirates forces situated near the Hodeidah airport fired mortars into the area.

Why have the Saudis and Emiratis led a coalition attacking Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab peninsula, since March of 2015?

Professor Isa Blumi believes the goal is to bludgeon Yemenis into complete submission and exert control over  “a gold mine” of resources, including oil reserves, natural gas, minerals, and a strategic location. Blumi notes that the war against Yemen costs the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 200 million dollars per day, yet Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who commented that a prolonged war is in the interests of Saudi Arabia, seems to believe the cost is worth it, considering potential future gains.

Business profits seem to also motivate U.S. weapon companies that continue benefiting from weapon sales to the Saudi-Emirati led coalition.

The United States is deeply implicated in the appalling carnage in Yemen. It is our responsibility as citizens to do what we can to demand an end to this complicity.

*

Kathy Kelly ([email protected]) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org).

“All Hands on Deck!”: Global Research In Unstable Waters

August 13th, 2018 by The Global Research Team

Last week a small number of our readers responded to our request to “Help Us Stay Afloat“, we are very grateful to those who took out memberships with us or made a donation. However, the digital waters of the internet are increasingly unpredictable. That’s why this week we are requesting “All Hands on Deck!

Our finances remain in deep waters. The support of our readers is much appreciated. Please click below to make a donation now.

Thank you for helping Global Research continue on its journey!

Mounting evidence suggests the human race may be rapidly reaching its end, taking much else along with it. Every 24 hours, up to 200 species are being exterminated by humans, ranging from insects to birds. The massive rate of animal extinction, only matched by the “dinosaur asteroid” of about 66 million years ago, is practically unknown to the world’s public.

The planet’s quickening annihilation is vigorously kept secret from global populations by the powers-that-be, the wealthy states, who themselves are primarily culpable for the Anthropocene. That being, the new epoch of human-driven destruction irrevocably altering the earth’s landscapes, whose roots can be traced to the Industrial Revolution starting in Great Britain during the mid-18th century.

While first world nations accelerate towards the cliff’s edge, it is a great irony that those attempting to rescue the world are the indigenous populations. The efforts by indigenous communities to stem the waves of disaster can be seen in countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Canada, Australia, India, and so on. It includes concerted attempts by them to keep oil in the ground where it should remain, preserving rainforests, wetlands and other precious habitats from corporate-led exploitation. Many examples are borne out of the “backward” peoples trying to shield the planet from the assaults of the “enlightened” ones, with some being killed trying to protect their homelands.

The driving force behind the unprecedented destruction are the multinational corporations and financial institutions, which have accumulated awesome influence and wealth, particularly over the past four decades. It is no coincidence that during this time-span the planet’s deterioration has greatly increased in intensity. Such is the power of corporate and financial centers that they now control much of Western government policy, and have infiltrated mainstream media to an extent that the public have little impact on the information they consume – most of which is blatant propaganda diverted towards “Russian meddling” or “Novichok poisoning”, and on other unimportant issues such as celebrity scandals, isolated crime cases, etc.

The most harmful aspect of the corporate financial ideology is: To gain short-term profits at whatever the cost may be, even if it means performing a central role in driving up carbon emissions, wiping out environments and destroying the prospects of young generations. A successful chief executive will continue seeking profits for the company regardless. If business bosses began acting out of benevolent interests for the planet, they would soon be replaced by others more inclined.

ExxonMobil, the US multinational and world’s largest oil company, was aware in the early 1980s that climate change was becoming a reality. Undeterred, ExxonMobil has for years spent fortunes promoting climate change denial in its ruthless drive to achieve profits and market share – the forbidden term “profits” often relayed to the public under the underhand title of “jobs”. Ongoing propaganda like this has had some effect with fewer Americans (56%) believing in climate change by comparison to Europeans (64%).

One can see again the multinational powers are doing everything they can to push the species over the precipice as quickly as possible. Little of these disturbing facts are reported by establishment and media circles, however, which is revealing in itself. It may come as no great surprise that the climate change denial industry is most powerful in the US, which is to a great extent a business-run society. This is serious in the extreme as America is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China. Currently, the Donald Trump administration is continuing to dismantle EPA legislation that sought to limit carbon emissions, such as that released from cars and other vehicles like trucks.

This is just one example of the ongoing assaults on the planet directed by Trump’s government, ranging from cuts to climate change research, attacks on animal protection legislation, weakening of regulation on toxic air pollution, the burning of coal and extraction of oil, etc. It is a determined effort to eliminate decent existence for the upcoming generations, in the unscrupulous bid to gain as much wealth as possible.

In many ways, one could argue that the death knell for the human race arrived at the end of World War II, with the unloading of nuclear bombs upon Japanese cities. Since 1945, humans have been living on borrowed time as nuclear upgrading and proliferation has continued apace, increasing the risks of a nuclear Armageddon. Despite the perils, the introduction of atomic weapons was enthusiastically pushed forward by Western figureheads like Franklin D. Roosevelt, his successor Harry Truman, and Winston Churchill. That is, the prominent democratically elected leaders. As Churchill himself later said of the decision to use atomic bombs on Japan, “There was unanimous, automatic, unquestioned agreement around our table”.

In another major irony, Adolf Hitler, one of the most denigrated figures in modern history and chief perpetrator of the Holocaust, had allegedly warned that the creation of nuclear weapons would wipe out all humans, along with plants and animals. Providing some of the insights is SS Lieutenant-Colonel Otto Skorzeny, often regarded as one of Hitler’s “favorite soldiers” and “the most dangerous man in Europe”.

In his extended memoirs published in early 1975, Skorzeny writes that,

“In autumn 1940 Hitler had a long discussion on the subject [nuclear fission] with Dr. Fritz Todt, the armaments minister. Hitler’s opinion never changed: he thought the use of atomic energy for military purposes would mean the end of humanity. We also know today that Hitler read not only the paper that Professor Heisenberg wrote at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in 1942 (on Nuclear Fission and the Construction of the Atomic pile with Uranium…) but also other reports on [nuclear] research conducted prior to 1941”.

Skorzeny further details an alleged private meeting he had with Hitler occurring when,

“In October 1944, after the Budapest operation, I flew once again to Führer Headquarters in East Prussia. Preparations were being made for the Ardennes offensive and Hitler wanted to give me his instructions for Operation Greif… At Führer Headquarters, they told me that Hitler was sick in bed but that he wished to speak with me at once. I am certainly one of the few visitors, if not the only one, whom the Führer received in bed. I found him very changed, emaciated, but as always mentally alert… Spontaneously I began speaking of the rumors about artificial radioactivity and its eventual use as a weapon. Hitler looked at me with feverish, gleaming eyes”.

He reveals that Hitler (allegedly) replied to him,

“Do you know, Skorzeny, if the energy and radioactivity released through nuclear fission were used as a weapon, that would mean the end of our planet? The effects would be frightful. Naturally! Even if the radioactivity were controlled and nuclear fission used as a weapon, the effects would still be horrible. When Dr. Todt was with me, I read that such a device with controlled radioactivity would release energy that would leave behind devastation which could only be compared with the meteors that fell in Arizona, and near Lake Baikal in Siberia. That means every form of life, not only human, but animal and plant life aswell, would be totally extinguished for hundreds of years within a radius of 40 kilometers. That would be the Apocalypse… From strike to counter-strike, humanity would inevitably exterminate itself”.

These alleged statements emanating from the Nazi regime remain to be verified.

Today, the threat of nuclear destruction is rising as the US relentlessly modernizes its weapons program, seemingly tipping the balance further in their favor against the Russians – as Vladimir Putin is surely aware, judging by his public statements in recent times regarding nuclear weapons. According to John Polanyi, the veteran Canadian Nobel Prize winning chemist, the main reason for the growing nuclear threat and imbalance is, “a substantial increase in lethality of US nuclear-armed, submarine-based missiles”. The nuclear standoff between the US and Russia is akin to “a gun dual between armed cowboys – nothing is less stable”. The US modernization seeks to eliminate a Russian deterrent, an aim that could well have been realized.

However, this may all be irrelevant. Were the Russians unable to even retaliate to a US first-strike, the Western superpower would still be annihilated, along with the rest of the world. Environmental scientists discovered the extinction phenomenon of nuclear winter in the early 1980s – which proves that even a limited nuclear war would result in huge levels of soot and smoke blocking out most sunlight, destroying all harvests worldwide, and resulting in near-universal starvation. Less than 100,000 humans would be expected to survive in the years after a nuclear war, out of the current population of 7.6 billion.

There is no evidence that any of these realities have penetrated the conscience of military planners. The means to eliminate these threats lies at our disposal, yet the opposite is occurring in many cases with scarcely a warning coming from establishment or news sectors. It perfectly summarizes the madness of the species. 

Shane Quinn is a frequent contributor to Global Research

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Corporate-driven Assaults on the Planet. Irreversible Destruction

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

GR Editor’s Note

We bring to your attention this incisive analysis by Prof James Dorsey.

It should be noted that historically the Uyghur affiliates of  Al Qaeda have been covertly supported by U.S. Saudi  Arabia and Pakistan. Until recently,  Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in liaison with the CIA has played a key role in channeling support to jihadist groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region (XUAR.

XUAR has a narrow border with Afghanistan (see map below). Support out of Pakistan, however has in large part been cut off as a result of the development of Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with China.

(M. Ch., Global Research, August 13, 2018)

China, responding to United Nations criticism, academic and media reports, and an embarrassing court case in Kazakhstan, has come closer to admitting that it has brutally cracked down on the strategic north-western province of Xinjiang in what it asserts is a bid to prevent the kind of mayhem that has wracked countries like Syria and Libya.

The Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times charged in its Chinese and English editions that the criticism and reports were aimed at stirring trouble and destroying hard-earned stability in Xinjiang, China’s gateway to Central Asia and home to its Turkic Uyghur and ethnic minority Central Asian Muslim communities.

The crackdown, involving introduction of the world’s most intrusive surveillance state and the indefinite internment of large numbers of Muslims in re-education camps, is designed to quell potential Uyghur nationalist and religious sentiment and prevent blowback from militants moving to Central Asia’s borders with China after the Islamic State and other jihadist groups lost most of their territorial base in Iraq and Syria.

Concern that national and religious sentiment and/or militancy could challenge China’s grip on Xinjiang, home to 15  percent of its proven oil reserves, 22  per cent of its gas reserves, and 115 of the 147 raw materials found in the People’s Republic as well as part of its nuclear arsenal, has prompted Beijing to consider a more interventionist policy in the Middle East and Central and South Asia in contradiction to its principle of non-interference in the affairs of others.

The Global Times asserted that the security situation in Xinjiang had been “turned around and terror threats spreading from there to other provinces of China are also being eliminated. Peaceful and stable life has been witnessed again in all of Xinjiang… Xinjiang has been salvaged from the verge of massive turmoil. It has avoided the fate of becoming ‘China’s Syria’ or ‘China’s Libya,’” the paper said.

Five Chinese mining engineers were wounded last week in a suicide attack in the troubled Pakistan province of Balochistan, a key node in the US$ 50 billion plus China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) intended to link the strategic port of Gwadar with Xinjiang and fuel economic development in the Chinese region. The attack was claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) rather than Uyghurs.

The Global Times admitted that the Chinese effort to ensure security had “come at a price that is being shouldered by people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang.”

China has not acknowledged the existence of re-education camps but the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said last week that it had credible reports that one million Uyghurs, were being held in what resembled a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”

The UN assertion of the existence of the camps is corroborated by academic research and media reports based on interviews with former camp inmates and relatives of prisoners, testimony to a US Congressional committee, and recent testimony in a Kazakh court by a former employee in one of the camps.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, US Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the chair of the congressional committee, called for the sanctioning of Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary and Politburo member Chen Quanguo and “all government officials and business entities assisting the mass detentions and surveillance”. He also demanded that Chinese security agencies be added “to a restricted end-user list to ensure that American companies don’t aid Chinese human-rights abuses.”

Stymying the international criticism and demands for action before they gain further momentum is imperative if China wants to ensure that the Muslim world continues to remain silent about what amounts to a Chinese effort, partly through indoctrination in its re-education camps, to encourage the emergence of what it would call an Islam with Chinese characteristics. China is pushing other faiths to adopt a similar approach.

Concern that Uighur militants exiting Syria and Iraq will again target Xinjiang is likely one reason why Chinese officials suggested that despite their adherence to the principle of non-interference in the affairs of others China might join the Syrian army in taking on militants in the northern Syrian province of Idlib.

Syrian forces have bombarded Idlib, a dumping ground for militants evacuated from other parts of the country captured by the Syrian military and the country’s last major rebel stronghold, in advance of an expected offensive.

Speaking to Syrian pro-government daily Al-Watan, China’s ambassador to Syria, Qi Qianjin, said that

China was ‘following the situation in Syria, in particular after the victory in southern (Syria), and its military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria.”

Chinese participation in a campaign in Idlib would be China’s first major engagement in foreign battle in decades.

China has similarly sought to mediate a reduction of tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan in an effort to get them to cooperate in the fight against militants and ensure that Uyghur jihadists are denied the ability to operate on China’s borders. It has also sought to facilitate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Chinese officials told a recent gathering in Beijing of the Afghan-Pakistan-China Trilateral Counter-Terrorism dialogue that militant cross-border mobility represented a major threat that needed to be countered by an integrated regional approach.

Potentially, there’s a significant economic upside to facilitating regional cooperation in South Asia and military intervention in Syria. Post-conflict, both countries offer enormous reconstruction opportunities.

Said Middle East scholar Randa Slim discussing possible Chinese involvement in the clearing of Idlib:

“You have to think about this in terms of the larger negotiations over Chinese assistance to reconstruction. Syria doesn’t have the money, Russia doesn’t have the money. China has a stake in the fighting.” It also has the money.

*

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: The Turbulent World of the Middle East Soccer.

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

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Uyghur Militant Threat: China Cracks Down and Mulls Policy Changes
  • Tags: , ,

The Future of NATO

August 13th, 2018 by Richard Falk

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

An interview of Professor Richard Falk with Daniel Falcone on the future of NATO that considers Trump’s brazen challenges and the tepid responses of European political leaders, and what this interplay signifies for the future of world order.

“At least, Trump’s approach has so far avoided the drift toward Cold War 2 that might have happened had Hillary Clinton become president, but Trump’s trade war mentality may hasten the advent of a different kind of second Cold War, with China and Europe at its epicenter, that is, if the Trump presidency is not undermined in the November elections or otherwise. We should be puzzled by the seeming passivity of the deep state in the U.S. Does it not exist after all?” (Prof. Richard Falk)

 

Daniel Falcone. What are the reasons for Trump’s insistence that NATO is just another extension of corruption and an institutional burden for the United States?

Professor Richard Falk It is difficult to evaluate Trump’s particular moves from coherent rational perspectives. He seems driven by narcissistic motivations of various sorts that have little to do with any overall grand strategy, and a diplomatic style that he has managed to impose on the conduct of American foreign policy that consists of provocative bluster and insults of respected foreign leaders, a continuation of the sort of vulgar irreverence that brought him unexpected success on the presidential campaign trail in 2016 and earlier celebrity in the deal-making world of real estate, gambling casinos, beauty pageants, professional boxing, and reality TV (“The Apprentice”). Explaining Trump’s recent confrontational focus on financial contributions by NATO members seems as simple as this at first glance, but of course, such assessments based on personality never tell the whole story in the complex unfolding political narrative. Undoubtedly, another part of the story can be associated with the insistence during a Trump’s interview that Europe is a trade rival of the United States. A further conjecture may be a geopolitical ‘peace’ framework based on Russia, China, and the U.S..

With regard to NATO, Trump has a clear target related to two things he seems to love, and admittedly such affections were not alien to the foreign policy he inherited from his predecessors: money and weapons. By showing that he can gain what Obama failed to achieve with respect to meeting the agreed 2% of GDP goal set for NATO members, he can, and certainly will, boast of his greater effectiveness in protecting America’s material interests than prior presidents. As suggested he measures foreign policy success by reference to monetary returns and America, First (and Me, First) criteria, and tends to put to one side the solidarities of friendship among countries sharing a common cultural identity and mutual respect that have been at the core of the alliance ethos over the decades, especially in relations with Western Europe since World War II. For Trump it appears that alliances, including even NATO, are to be treated as nothing more than business arrangements that are only worthwhile so long as their profit margins hold up. This means that financial contributions become the clearest test of whether cooperative frameworks makes sense in present settings. Interests and values are put to one side while the bundles of cash are counted. In such a process, the circumstances that brought the alliance into being, or justify its continuation, are ignored. Actually, Trump could make a credible case for withdrawing from or greatly downsizing the alliance, given present world conditions, which would help reduce the U.S. fiscal deficit, as well as easing the burdens of security that fall to Washington.

In the end, Trump could credibly claim a narrow victory for himself at this recent NATO summit in the transactional sense of gaining assurances from the European governments that they will be increasing their defense budgets.In return Trump reaffirmed continuing U.S. support for the NATO alliance. Like a Mafioso family gathering when the cash flow is restored, friendship between European governments and Trump’s America becomes again possible, providing foreign leaders are prepared to continue absorbing the insults Trump delivers along the way, and then when they create awkward moments, as with Teresa May in Helsinki, are curtly dismissed as his own ‘fake news.’ When ‘fake’ is used to discredit the truth, trust vanishes, and one of the pillars of a healthy democracy is destroyed. We gradually lose our understanding of what is truth, and worse, no longer care or hold leaders accountable by reference to reality.

There is no indication of any attention given by Trump to the crucial question: whether NATO serves sufficient useful purposes in the post-Cold War world to be worth the economic costs, let alone the political costs associated with spending on weapons rather than the wellbeing of people and their natural surroundings. Would not the long overdue transition to a real peacetime security posture have many positive advantages for the U.S. and Europe, including exploring prospects for a mutually beneficial cooperative relationships with Russia and China? We have reached a stage in world history where we should be asking whether NATO might be abandoned altogether or drastically redesigned in light of the current agenda of actual global policy challenges. If NATO were converted into a vehicle for the realization of humansecurity, setting its new agenda by reference to the wellbeing of people, it would be a genuine triumph for Trump and the global public interest, but such an orientations seems well outside the boundaries of his political imagination. In fairness, no American leader has dared to adopt the discourse of human security, or questioned the continued viability of Cold War alliances and accompanying strategic doctrine, and it would be pure wishful thinking to expect such demilitarizing words to issue from the lips or mind  of Donald Trump. At least those of us who watch the Trump spectacle in bemused fear should more than ever put forward our own hopes and beliefs in broad gauged cooperation between North America and Europe based on a commitment to  peace, justice, and security, and demand that discussion of the future of the relationship between Europe and North America not be reduced to a demeaning debate about how to raise the level of military spending or keep obsolete alliances in being by the artifice of worrying only about whether particular governments are meeting the 2% goal, which seems like an arbitrary number that is unrelated to the actuality of security challenges..

DF. How do you forecast the European reaction to the Trump commentary on NATO and could you explain how this might impact key portions of US foreign affairs?

RF: Europe’s governmental response to the Trump onslaught so far has been very disappointing, while recent civil society responses in Europe has been generally encouraging. On the one side, NATO leaders seem to pout like aggrieved children, angered and humiliated, but too frightened of the uncertainties associated with confronting Trump to raise their objections above the level of a whisper. On the other side, their acquiescence to the Trump insistence that NATO viability is to be measured in dollars or maybe Euros, unaccompanied by even a pretense of putting forward a relevant substantive rationale for Cold War levesl of spending. Such passive aggressive behavior by European leaders is likely best understood as a sullen endorsement of Trumpism. In effect, the Europeans are muttering “yes, we in Europe should be allocating more of our resources to the defense budget and begin to live up to our 2% commitment” so as to keep a renewed watchful eye on Russia and go along with the slouch toward a Second Cold War. There is no justification given for supposing that Europe will be safer if more heavily invested in military equipment, and my view is that Europe would be far safer, more secure, and more serene if it instead invested these additional funds in helping alleviate the refugee challenge at both the asylum end and at its various sources where combat and climate change have made some national habitats virtually unlivable. It might be emphasized that these habitants from which people are escaping to Europe most commonly at great risk to themselves, have been rendered uninhabitable partly by industrialization in the West and by the bloody aftermath of European colonialism that left behind arbitrary borders that did not correspond to natural communities.

Responding to the root causes of refugee and migration pressures should be seen as a matter of long deferred collective responsibility, and not as charity or as exercises of discretion. Furthermore, if NATO were responsive to real threats to the security of Europe, including to its democratic way of life, it would focus its attention with a sense of urgency on these issues instead of implicitly preparing the continent for a new Cold War that an anti-Russian weaponized foreign policy will, ironically, help bring about, initially no doubt in the form of a destablizing arms race, and calls for raising defense spending to even higher levels.

Here Trump seems to have his priorities confused. At times, for instance in supporting Brexit, and now endorsing a hard Brexit and the Boris Johnson approach, Trump seems to be furthering Moscow’s prime aim of weakening the unity of Europe, while at the same time by rallying NATO members to increase military spending Trump seems to be lending credibility to Russian worries of a new Cold War.

Whether for personal reasons associated with his shady financial dealings and his vulnerability to blackmail or a sense that the way to bring stability to the world is to have strong leaders work together, and establish a grand alliance of autocrats, Trump’s soft spot for Putin may be preferable to what a hard-edged, NATO enthusiast like Hilary Clinton would have brought to the White House had she won the election. A Clinton presidency would almost certainly have gone easy on NATO when it comes to the economics and politics of burden-sharing while insisting on the adoption of a hardline on such geopolitical issues as Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Given the recent show of timidity by NATO leaders scared to cut the umbilical cord that has tied their security policies to the diktats of Washington ever since 1945 (with the notable exception of DeGaulle’s ‘France, First’/. leadership). We sometimes forget that aspiring to the role of global leader has always come with a high price tag, but the expense involved is more than offset by the benefits of status, heightened influence in global arenas, and a favorable positioning in the world economy, or so it seemed to the political elites of both parties until Trump through handfuls of sand into the intricate machinery of the national security state..

DF. In the past US led and authorized NATO bombings are criticized rather easily and justifiably from the left, but what is the danger of the Trump mentality to foster a disregard for global order from the reactionary right wing? And does resistance to Trump cynicism put NATO skeptics on the left in a difficult position in your view?

RF: I think that the ideological discourse has definitely been altered by Trump’s alt-right approach to NATO. The left, such as it is, has refocused its energies on resisting what it believes to be a slide toward fascism at home arising from its correct perceptions of the Trump presidency as racist, ultra-nationalist, chauvinist, Islamophobic, subverting constitutionalism, and haunted by demagogic leadership. Those most upset with the attacks on the alliance underpinnings of NATO are not the left, but rather the more centrist liberalconstituencies encompassing moderate Republicans as well as mainstream Democrats. These are persons likely as upset by the challenge mounted by the mildly insurgent left-leaning politics of Bernie Sanders as by Trump, perhaps more so. Trump is ardently pro-business, pushed through Congress tax reform that mainly benefits those, like himself, who are part of a tiny billionaire class. What remains of the liberal establishment, whether on Wall Street or situated in the dark inner and hidden recesses of the deep state, is on the verge of tears in the aftermath of Trump’s assault on the NATO anchoring of the Atlanticist approach to American foreign policy that became so iconic for the political classes comprising the bipartisan American establishment ever since 1945.

DF. Trump was elected partly because of what amounts to his “Me First” Doctrine as well as his “Make America Great Again” slogan. Does he in your estimation fully intend to utilize NATO in the background while appeasing his rabid anti institution base?

RF: Trump and his fanatical base in the U.S. never seem far apart. Even in pursuing trade wars around the world, especially with China, that harm many of those who voted for him, his rationalizations, invoking the ‘America, First’ language and jobs rhetoric whether or not the evidence supports such claims. Apparently, so far, a relentless demagogue can fool many of the people all the time, especially by the rants of a populist politic that takes delight in scapegoating outsiders and arousing rage against the insiders who are portrayed as reaping the benefits of the international liberalism that gave us both the Cold War world economy and produced a neoliberal predatory aftermath identified in the 1990s as ‘globalization’, a view of political legitimacy that combines a private sector economy with some minimal form of democracy.

How NATO will eventuallu fit within this Trump scheme is not yet clear, and may never be so. It seems a blustery sideshow at this point as NATO does not seem to have clear missions in post-Cold War Europe except to be a rallying center for counterterrorist tactics, which operationally depend on national policing and paramilitary capabilities. It seems that Europe is willing to pay up to sustain the NATO status quo, allowing Trump to laugh his way to the bank. NATO’s leading members are most worried these days about keeping the EU together in the face of various stresses associated with Brexit, refugees, a far right anti-immigration resurgence, and some loss of confidence in the EURO and austerity fiscal discipline. Handling Trump is an unpleasant additional chore for European leaders, but it is so far treated more in the spirit of the London protesters’ giant baby balloon, a matter of parenting, lacking real substantive weight, or so it seems. Aside from Turkey no European government seems to be considering alternative alignments now.

On the broader posture of anti-institutionalism and anti-multilateralism, Trump has kept faith with his pre-Fascist base by bullying tactics at the UN, repudiating the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. These are big ticket items that represent extremely serious setbacks for responsible efforts to address challenges of regional and global scale that pose severe threats to peace and ecological stability.

DF. Trump likes to portray himself as a populist alternative to the Bushes and Clintons and their reckless foreign policy while questioning our “exceptionalism.” In reality however we have broadened and expanded our presence around the world under Trump. Can you talk about the Trump foreign policy and how’d you categorize it?

RF: Trump foreign policy, such as it is, seeks to diminish engagement with international institutions, including treaty regimes, and retain greater freedom of maneuver for the U.S. Government in international relations. It seems also to deny the reality of such global challenges as climate change, global migrations, genocidal behavior, and extreme poverty. It is definitely statist in outlook, both because of a belief in nationalism as the best guide to policymaking and problem solving, and because the United States as the richest and most powerful of states can supposedly gain greater advantages for itself by reliance on its superior bargaining leverage in any bilateral bargaining process. Borrowing from his deal-making past, Trump seems convinced that the U.S. will get more of what it wants when it deals bilaterally than in hemmed in my multilateral frameworks as in trade relations or environmental protection.

Beyond this kind of transactional search for material advantages, oblivious to substantive realities that make cooperative approaches more likely to achieve beneficial results, Trump has been consistent in promoting reactionary issues at home and abroad whenever given the chance, whether by tweeting or issuing executive orders. While in Europe he gave public voice via TV to an anti-immigration screed, telling Europeans that immigrants were ruining Europe, bringing to the continent crime and terrorism, a malicious argument similar to the slander of undocumented Hispanic immigrants present in the United States, some long in the country, and making laudable contributions.

Image below: President visit the Western Wall, Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. Credit: Photo credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv.

Trump’s silences are also important. He seems determined to ignore crimes against humanity if committed by states against people subject to its authority, whether the Rohingya in Myanmar or Palestinians in Gaza. American support for human rights, always subject to geopolitical manipulation, is now a thing of the past so long as Trump hangs around, although such considerations may be cynically invoked when helpful to strengthen arguments for sanctions and uses of force against adversery states.

Whether wittingly or not, Trump seems determined to shatter the legacy of the Bushes and Clinton built around an American led liberal international order, but without any real alternative conception of global governance to put in its place. So far this has produced an ad hoc approach, beset by contradiction, which one day can veer in the direction of confrontation as with Iran or North Korea, or on another day seem to seek some sort of long-term accommodation with Russia and North Korea, and sometimes even China. Also evident is the extent to which Trump’s foreign policy initiatives are designed to please Israel, as with the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem announced last December, or the heightened tensions with Iran, or have no justification other than to uphold the expectations of billionaire domestic donors of his presidential campaign. And finally, there is the search for the grandiose, ‘the deal of the century,’ a breakthrough that will make Trump great for once and for many, but when more closely considered the deal, as the one in the offing to end the Israel/Palestine struggle turns out to be a house of cards, so one-sided that it effectively collapses before its absurdly pro-Israeli contents have been officially disclosed.

Whether by his blunt actions sowing discord or his silent acquiescence in the face of atrocities, we have reason to fear the trajectory of the Trump presidency. In this sense, the NATO performance was just a tip of a dangerous iceberg imperiling world order, but also the future of responsible and responsive governance in a period of grave danger and intense turmoil. As with the weak response of European governments to Trumpism, there is reason for disappointment about the resilience of republican institutions within the United States, including such stalwarts as separation of powers and the constitutional integrity of political parties. Alarm bells should be ringing through the night at maximum volume, but so far the silences outweigh the noise as the world slouches toward catastrophe, chaos, and cruelty.

Selected Articles: The US-Turkey Crisis

August 13th, 2018 by Global Research News

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

For almost seventeen years, Global Research, together with partner independent media organizations, has sought Truth in Media with a view to eventually “disarming” the corporate media’s disinformation crusade.

To reverse the tide, we call upon our readers to participate in an important endeavor.

Global Research has over 50,000 subscribers to our Newsletter.

Our objective is to recruit one thousand committed “volunteers” among our 50,000 Newsletter subscribers to support the distribution of Global Research articles (email lists, social media, crossposts). 

Do not send us money. Under Plan A, we call upon our readers to donate 5 minutes a day to Global Research.

Global Research Volunteer Members can contact us at [email protected] for consultations and guidelines.

If, however, you are pressed for time in the course of a busy day, consider Plan B, Consider Making a Donation and/or becoming a Global Research Member

*     *     *

Gina Haspel CIA Torture Cables Declassified

By The National Security Archive, August 13, 2018

Current CIA director Gina Haspel described graphic acts of deliberate physical torture including the waterboarding of a suspected Al-Qa’ida terrorist under her supervision when she was chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, according to declassified CIA cables – most of which she wrote or authorized – obtained by the National Security Archive through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and posted on the Web today.

The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

By Philip Giraldi, August 13, 2018

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Other Hiroshimas: A Review of Napalm: An American Biography

By Robert Barsocchini, August 13, 2018

The major turning point that would see an unprecedented rise of fire-weapons was World War II. With Germany leading the way, Japanese and British forces also used incendiaries to devastating effect, but the weapon would be taken to new heights by the United States. Initially, US officials said they wanted to avoid the “area bombing” – killing everyone in a large area – that was being carried out by the above groups on various cities. But soon they abandoned this approach and embraced the method. Wanting to further increase their ability to destroy large areas, and with particular regard to the wooden cities of Japan (66), the US Chemical Warfare Service assembled a team of chemists at Harvard to design an incendiary weapon that would be optimal for this goal.

Russia Finance Minister: We May Abandon Dollar in Oil Trade as It Is Becoming “Too Risky”

By Zero Hedge, August 13, 2018

And with the US threatening to impose a new set of “crushing” sanctions on Russia, including in retaliation for the alleged Novichok nerve gas attack in the UK, Russia not only intends to continue liquidating its US holdings, but to significantly reduce its reliance on the US Dollar.

World Markets Brace for Impact of Turkish Lira Crisis

By Nick Beams, August 13, 2018

The key question in major financial markets when they open for trading today will be the impact of the ongoing Turkish financial and currency crisis amid warnings that it could have far-reaching global implications.

Gina Haspel CIA Torture Cables Declassified

August 13th, 2018 by The National Security Archive

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

The following text is from the National Security Archive

Current CIA director Gina Haspel described graphic acts of deliberate physical torture including the waterboarding of a suspected Al-Qa’ida terrorist under her supervision when she was chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, according to declassified CIA cables – most of which she wrote or authorized – obtained by the National Security Archive through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and posted on the Web today.

The Haspel cables detail conditions the public has only seen in the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs from Iraq of detainees hooded and shackled, forced nudity, wall slamming, and box confinement, as well as “enhanced techniques” never photographed such as the simulated drowning of suspects on the waterboard. Waterboarding is a war crime under both U.S. and international law, dating back to U.S. prosecution of Japanese solders for torturing U.S. POWs during World War II.[1]

Although the CIA redacted Haspel’s name and those of the CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen who administered the waterboard, other declassified documents (including the 2004 CIA Inspector General report) and public statements confirm their leadership of the torture of alleged terrorist Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri at the black site between November 15 and December 4, 2002.

“Release of Gina Haspel’s torture cables shows the power of the Freedom of Information Act to bring accountability even to the highest levels of the CIA,” said Archive director Tom Blanton, who first identified the Haspel cables from a footnote (336 on p. 67) in the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report declassified in 2014.

The Archive filed its FOIA request for the Haspel cables on April 16, 2018, after she was nominated by President Trump to be CIA director. Despite the clear public interest in the documents, the CIA denied the Archive’s request for expedited processing, and the Archive went to court on April 27. The U.S. Senate confirmed Haspel as CIA director on May 17 (by a vote of 54-45) on the basis of a record amassed almost exclusively in closed hearings, with no declassification or public release of information even remotely approaching that of previous CIA nominees.

David Sobel, FOIA expert and former Archive counsel, drafted and filed the initial Archive complaint in federal court; and the Archive’s pro bono counsel Peter Karanjia and Lisa Zycherman of the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine took on the task of negotiating with the U.S. Attorney’s office over release of the documents.

In addition to the work of Sobel, Karanjia and Zycherman, Blanton credited two other lawsuits with paving the way for release of the Haspel cables. The civil lawsuit Salim v. Mitchell brought by the ACLU against the CIA contract psychologists who were the architects of the torture program forced the CIA to search and review as many as 24,000 documents from the massive database used by the Senate Intelligence Committee staff in the writing of their report. The FOIA lawsuit by freelance journalist Daniel DeFraia[2] then compelled release of key documents, including five Haspel cables included in this posting, even after the August 2017 settlement in the Salim v. Mitchell case.

The released Haspel cables feature extensive redactions by the CIA, including their dates (although those can be ascertained from the declassified CIA Inspector General’s report, among other sources) and most of the information results from the torture (although those have been summarized by the Senate Intelligence Committee report and two of the Haspel cables even admit failure to produce actionable intelligence).

The biggest mystery in the released cables is whether Gina Haspel wrote Cable 11359, from December 1, 2002, which uses remarkably vivid language to describe the torture sessions: The interrogators “strode, catlike, into the well-lit confines of the cell at 0902 hrs [redacted], deftly removed the subject’s black hood with a swipe, paused, and in a deep, measured voice said that subject – having ‘calmed down’ after his (staged) run-in with his hulking, heavily muscled guards the previous day – should reveal what subject had done to vex his guards to the point of rage.”

To Consult the main documents on the NSA click here

***

Notes

[1] See Glenn Kessler, “Cheney’s claim that the U.S. did not prosecute Japanese soldiers for waterboarding,” Fact-Checker column, Washington Post, December 16, 2014. Kessler gave former vice president Cheney three Pinocchio’s for the falsehood. Kessler cites an authoritative law review article, by Judge Evan Wallach, “Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts,” Columbia Journal of Transnational Law (2007).

[2] DeFraia co-authored with Tim Golden and Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica the most comprehensive account of Haspel’s career, published on May 7, 2018 at ProPublica, quoting at length from the Nashiri-related cables obtained by DeFraia’s lawsuit.  The cables obtained by the Archive lawsuit confirm the ProPublica account and add significant new details including the three specific waterboarding sessions.Featured image is from the NSA.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

The key question in major financial markets when they open for trading today will be the impact of the ongoing Turkish financial and currency crisis amid warnings that it could have far-reaching global implications.

The New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman, in a piece published over the weekend, said that the Turkish lira plunge was a re-enactment of the Asian financial crisis of 20 years ago.

One of the world’s largest bond trading companies, Pimco, has warned that the Turkish crisis is the outcome of a shift in the global financial environment resulting from the increase in US interest rates by the Federal Reserve and the winding down of its holdings of financial assets.

The increase in interest rates heavily impacts on countries, like Turkey, that took out dollar-denominated loans when they were low. As US interest rates and the dollar start to rise, the cost of servicing those loans increases, raising the prospect of bankruptcy for borrowers.

Turkey has been a major borrower on international markets with a total foreign debt of $467 billion.

In a note issued on Sunday, Joachim Fels, global economic adviser at Pimco, wrote:

“This looks like another example of how a combination of bad domestic economic policies turning worse and deteriorating global liquidity that makes bloated dollar-funded balance sheets vulnerable can produce high volatility and contagion.

“Who said shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet and raising the funds rate in a gradual fashion wouldn’t have global implications?”

The European Central Bank has put on watch major European banks that are heavily exposed to Turkish debt. They include Spain’s BBVA, which has lent Turkey $83.3 billion, Italy’s Unii Credit, $38.4 billion, and France’s BNP Paribas, $17 billion.

With the inflation rate running at more than 16 percent, international financial markets are demanding that the central bank lift interest rates to bring about financial stability and step up attacks on the working class. But this demand has so far been refused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a series of speeches over the weekend, Erdogan continued with his populist rhetoric, declaring that there was an “operation” by other countries to bring down the Turkish economy.

Speaking to rally of members of his ruling Justice and Development Party in the city of Rize, Erdogan said an increase in the interest rate was a “vehicle of exploitation that will make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”

The Turkish lira plunged by as much as 18 percent in trading on Friday, its sharpest fall since a financial crisis in 2001, and is set to fall even further when markets open. It dropped by another 12 percent in initial early morning trading in Asia, down to the 7 lira per dollar mark, with predictions that it could quickly go to 10.

In an interview with the Hurriyet newspaper published online on Sunday, Turkey’s Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak, the president’s son-in-law, said he had a new action plan to stabilise the economy, describing the plunge in the value of the lira as an “attack.”

“From Monday morning onwards our institutions will take the necessary steps and will share the announcements with the market,” he said, without providing any details of what the measures could involve. A plan had been prepared for the banks and the economy at large and the government would take “the necessary steps with our banks and banking watchdog in a speedy manner.”

Erdogan has dismissed suggestions that Turkey was in a financial crisis like that which took place in Asia in 1997–98, sparked by a fall in the Thai baht, which ripped through the region with an economic impact equivalent to the effects of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

He said the fall in the lira did not reflect the fundamentals of the Turkish economy. “What is the reason for all this storm in a tea cup? There is no economic reason for this. … This is called carrying out an operation against Turkey.”

The lira plunge is being exacerbated by the drive by the Trump administration to utilise the financial crisis to force Turkey into line with its foreign policy objectives in the Middle East.

Last week it doubled the tariffs imposed on Turkish steel exports in response to the lira plunge and the Turkish government’s refusal to release evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested on espionage and terrorism charges in connection with the attempted coup against Erdogan in July 2016.

The conflict over Brunson is only the latest in a series of conflicts between Turkey and the United States. Turkey is opposed to the backing provided by the US to Kurdish militia groups in Syria, which it denounces as terrorist organisations. Turkey has also come into conflict with the US and other NATO allies over its turn to seek closer relations with Russia and China.

These issues were set out in an opinion piece authored by Erdogan and published in the New York Times on Friday, along with criticism of the US position in the attempted coup. Erdogan said two key aides had been killed by death squads and he would have suffered the same fate had the coup been successful.

But instead of denouncing the coup in the name of “democracy” the US had only called for “stability and peace and continuity within Turkey.” Erdogan did not mention it in his comment piece, but it has been reported that he only escaped death because he was tipped off by Russian intelligence sources.

The opinion piece pointed to the long strategic alliance between Turkey and the US, warning that continued unilateral action could only “serve to underline America’s interests and security” and “failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”

Whatever the immediate course of events, the Turkish crisis and the warnings of its far-reaching implications, not only for so-called emerging markets but also for major international banks, have underscored the fact that the measures enacted by the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks did not resolve the contradictions of the global capitalist economy which erupted in the global meltdown of 2008.

The lowering of interest rates to record lows combined with the pumping of trillions of dollars into the financial system produced a bonanza for the global corporate and financial oligarchy in the form of rising financial assets and stock prices. The US stock market has risen four-fold since its low point of March 2009.

But this has only created the conditions for the eruption of another global crash even more devastating than that of a decade ago—a crisis which, as the experience of the past 10 years has shown, will lead to an immediate stepped- up assault on the international working class.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.

Gulen is a religious leader who claims to promote a moderate brand of Islam that is compatible with western values. His power base consists of a large number of private schools that educate according to his curriculum, with particular emphasis on math and sciences. Many of the graduates become part of a loose affiliation that has sometimes been described as a cult. Gulen also owns and operates a number of media outlets, all of which have now been shut by Erdogan as part of his clamp down on the press. Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country.

It is widely believed that Erdogan has been offering to release Brunson in exchange for Gulen, but President Donald Trump has instead offered only a Turkish banker currently in a U.S. prison while also turning the heat up in the belief that pressure on Turkey will force it to yield. Washington began the tit-for-tat by imposing sanctions on two cabinet-level officials in Erdogan’s government: Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. Ankara has now also been on the receiving end of a Trump tweet and tariffs have been placed on a broad range of Turkish products, to include steel and aluminum.

The view that economic pressure will force the Turks to yield could be mistaken and demonstrates that the Administration does not include anyone who knows that Americans have been unpopular in Turkey since the Gulf War. The threats from Washington might actually rally skeptical and normally pro-western Turks around Erdogan but U.S. sanctions have already hit the Turkish economy hard, with the lira having lost 40% of its value this year and continuing to sink rapidly. Foreign investors, who fueled much of Turkey’s recent economic growth, have fled the market, suggesting that a collapse in credit might be on the way. Those European banks that hold Turkish debt are fearing a possible default.

It is a spectacle of one NATO member driving another NATO member’s economy into the ground over a political dispute. Erdogan has responded in his autocratic fashion by condemning “interest rates” and calling for an “economic war” against the U.S., telling his supporters to unload all their liquid valuables, gold and foreign to buy the plummeting lira, a certain recipe for disaster. If they do that, they will likely lose everything.

Other contentious issues involved in the badly damaged bilateral relationship are conflicting views on what to do about Syria, where the Turks have a legitimate interest due to potential Kurdish terrorism and are seeking a buffer zone, as well as Ankara’s interest in buying Russian air defense missile systems, which has prompted the U.S. to suspend sales of the new F-35 fighter. The Turks have also indicated that they have no interest in enforcing the sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed last week and they will continue to buy Iranian oil after the November 4th initiation of a U.S. ban on such purchases. The Trump Administration has warned that it will sanction any country that refuses to comply, setting the stage for a massive confrontation between Washington and Ankara involving the Turkish Central Bank.

In terms of U.S. interests, Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, is of strategic value because it is Muslim, countering arguments that the alliance is some kind of Christian club working to suppress Islam in the Middle East. And it is also important because of its geographic location close to hot spots where the American military is currently engaged. If the U.S. heeds Trump’s call to cut back on involvement in the region, Turkey will become less valuable, but currently, access to the Incirlik Airbase, near Adana and the Syrian border, is vital.

Indeed, Incirlik has become one of the flashpoints in the argument with Washington. Last week, a group of lawyers connected politically to Erdogan initiated legal action against U.S. officers at Incirlik over claimed ties to “terrorists” linked to Gulen. The “Association for Social Justice and Aid” has called for a temporary halt to all operations at the base to permit a search for evidence. The attorneys are asking for the detention of seven named American Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command based in Germany is also cited. If the lawyers are successful in court, it will mean a major conflict as Washington asserts the rights of the officers under the Status of Forces Agreement, while Turkey will no doubt insist that the Americans are criminals and have no protection.

Another trial balloon being floated by Erdogan is even more frightening in terms of the demons that it could be unleashing. Abdurrahman Dilipak, an Islamist columnist writing in the pro-government newspaper Yeni Atik, has suggested that there might well be a second terrorist attack on the United States like 9/11. Dilipak threatened that if Trump does nothing to reduce tension “…some people will teach him [to do] that. It must be seen that if internal tensions with the United States continue like this that a September 11 is no unlikely possibility.” Dilipak also warned that presumed Gulenist “U.S. collaborators” inside Turkey would be severely punished if they dared to go out into the streets to protest in support of Washington.

If recent developments in Turkey deteriorate further it might well suggest that Donald Trump’s instinct to disengage from the Middle East was the right call, though it could equally be seen as a rejection of the tactic being employed, i.e. using heavy-handed sanctions and tariffs to compel obedience from governments disinclined to follow Washington’s leadership. Either way, the Turkish-American relationship is in trouble and increasingly a liability for both sides, yet another indication that the NATO alliance forged in 1949 against the Soviet Union is today largely irrelevant.

*

This article was originally published on American Herald Tribune.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant
  • Tags: , ,

Our Opponents’ Actions Show We’re Winning

August 13th, 2018 by Kevin Zeese

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

When in the midst of mass social transformation, it is often hard to see progress until you have the benefit of looking back after success has been achieved. One way we measure success is by recognizing the growing popular movements across multiple fronts of struggle. Another way is by observing the actions of our opponents.

Just as movements organize and develop a strategy to build power, our opponents do the same to weaken popular power. Classic signs that a movement is getting closer to achieving victories are when our opponents try to co-opt the movement, mislead the movement, adopt the language of the movement and position themselves to claim they always supported the goals of the movement, called “victorious retreat.”

In our sixth class on How Social Transformation Occurs, we examine the obstacles that movements confront in achieving social change. One of the tasks of the movement in this stage is to achieve national consensus and overcome the obstacles of the power holders.

Co-Option Can Be Turned To The Movement’s Advantage

New resistance movements have emerged since the Occupy Movement rose up in 2011, including the Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter and Idle No More, to name a few examples of many. Popular Resistance grew out of the Occupy Movement as a vehicle to report on, monitor and help grow the resistance movement.

With the election of Donald Trump, a new “resistance” developed. One example is Indivisible, the activist group rooted in the Democratic Party, which was organized by former Democratic staffers. In May 2017, the biggest Democratic “resister” of them all announced her plans, as reported by CNN, “Hillary Clinton officially announced Monday her post-2016 election plans: A political organization aimed at funding “resistance” groups that are standing up to President Donald Trump.” It is called “Onward Together.”

Clinton lost the presidency because she was an establishment candidate running in an anti-establishment electoral year. The Clinton Foundation was a foundation funded by millionaires and billionaires as well as big business and trans-national corporations. She epitomizes what people are organizing against, yet now she calls herself a leader of the resistance.

It is sadly amusing but ironically makes the point that the resistance is winning. We have grown since 2011 to the point that establishment-elites want to claim to be part of the resistance.  Our job is to let those who joined groups like Indivisible and Onward Together know there is a genuine resistance that Democrats are emulating, which stands for true transformation and rejects the policies of Hillary Clinton and the economic and political elites she and both Wall Street parties represent.

Photo from Education Votes.

Stealing Our Language, Another Sign That Victory Is Close

On multiple issues, those in the power structure of elected officials and their think tanks are stealing the language of the movement.

One example is the campaign for National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). We use that specific language because every word describing it matters. Those who want to protect the status quo use the word “Medicare” to describe fake solutions that do not achieve the real goal. The Center for American Progress, the top Democratic Party think tank that is funded in part by the insurance industry and healthcare profiteers, has put forward “Medicare Extra for All.” This is not NIMA but a public option using the popular word Medicare to fool people. Another fake Democratic plan is a “Medicare Buy-In” or plans that would lower the age for Medicare. These are all false solutions.

Democrats are pushing NIMA-sounding like approaches because 85% of Democratic party voters support a national single-payer system based on improved Medicare. Republicans and businesses are also moving in this direction. If the movement does its job well, by the early 2020s there will be a national consensus across political affiliations and ideologies in support of the solution to the US healthcare crisis, National Improved Medicare for All. Learn more about this at HealthOverProfit.org.

Healthcare is one example. This week, the people of Missouri rejected another false policy put forward by big business in a disguise called “Right to Work.” By a landslide vote, the people of Missouri rejected a right to work voter initiative, which would have eroded worker’s rights to collective bargaining.

This vote comes at a time when the nation needs a national renaissance of worker power. It is time for unions to remake themselves after 80 years of decline. Unions need to become democratic in structure rather than hierarchical. Unions need to do two things to recover from decades of setbacks(1) break from the Democratic Party and build independent political power, and (2) they need to represent all workers and communities, not just members of their union.  The recent teacher’s strikes which occurred in multiple statesshowed teachers going beyond the limits set by unions. UPS, where workers voted 92% for what would be the largest strike in US history, is in the throes of debating a new contract, which Teamsters for a Democratic Union believes sells out UPS workers.

Another example is the constant killings of black and brown people by police across the country. National consensus is developing against this brutality thanks to Black Lives Matter and others, as can be the ‘take a knee‘ protests in the NFL. Despite pressure from President Trump and team owners, players are continuing to take action against racist policing by patriotically taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem.

Police violence against black and brown people is a long-term problem, going back decades.  In the era of Bill Clinton, the phony solution of community policing was put forward.  It is phony because it failed to give power to the community to reject police who have demonstrated racism and violence. What is needed is community-control of police and community-based solutions to crime and violence. When the people are in control, then the police will do what they should be doing, and some claim to be doing (and some officers actually try to do in a system that does not work) — serve the community.

From Medium, ‘How to Build a Movement of Movements.’ 

Unity, Solidarity and a Movement of Movements Are Keys to Success

The most powerful tactic of the opposition is to divide the movement. The corporate-CIA group, Stratfor, most clearly described this strategy. They divide activists into four types of people: “radicals, idealists, realists, and opportunists.” Their strategy to defeat social movements is to isolate the radicals, offer the opportunists money and access to elected officials, convince the realists to compromise on a non-solution and push idealists to see their ideal cannot be achieved and accept something that looks like a step toward the ideal. The key group is the radicals, who focus on the root of the problem, push necessary transformational solutions and refuse to compromise. Movements need to make a place for radicals and listen to their views so as not to be taken off track.

The problem is that the current system does not work for people but is designed to work for the economic elites. There may be good people in the system, trying to do the right thing, but they cannot overcome the system by working from the inside.

The movement must work to pull people from inside the system into the movement. A police officer’s family needs National Improve Medicare for All.  A black police officer’s son will face racism from police officials just like any other black youth. Youth face outrageous tuition, school debt and wages too low to live on. Business owners know their employees would benefit from health care for all and that they can’t compete with businesses in nations that have national healthcare programs. People in the media see the misleading reporting they are required to produce to advance in their careers and know this is not why they wanted to become a journalist. There are people in every segment of the power structure that see the problems and want to help put in place solutions.

Drawing people to the movement is one of the tactics in building national consensus and a movement that represents all the people while weakening the power structure. We need to develop strategies to keep movements unified, bring people into the movement and connect our different fronts of struggle to build a movement of movements.

We have written about how the next decade provides an opportunity for tremendous social transformation that puts in place progressive policies to meet the necessities of the people and protection of the planet. The people in power also see that change is coming, movements are growing and the status quo is unable to deal with multiple crisis situations that cannot be ignored.

Transformation is on the horizon if we remain clear in our vision for economic, racial and environmental justice, pull people to the movement from the power structure and undermine the tactics of those trying to co-opt, mislead and divide.

Together, we can create transformational change. We are closer than we realize.

*

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, co-directors of Popular Resistance where this article was originally published.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Our Opponents’ Actions Show We’re Winning

The Other Hiroshimas: A Review of Napalm: An American Biography

August 13th, 2018 by Robert Barsocchini

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Fire-weapons have been used from ancient times. Napalm-like weapons were used by and against the Romans and Greeks. One term used for them was “wildfire”; another was “Greek fire”, as incendiaries were widely used by the Greeks. Some ships were equipped to shoot other vessels with flaming oils emitted from tubes in their bows. Individual soldiers were equipped with flaming oils that they could shoot through reeds in a kind of fire-breath. But the use of incendiaries declined as longer-range projectiles were created, such as rockets (e.g. the British rockets mentioned in the US national anthem).Incendiaries were always regarded with particular awe and horror, as they invoked the terrors of hell and being burned to death.

As the ability to project incendiaries over long ranges increased in the 19th century, the weapon again came into use. The major turning point that would see an unprecedented rise of fire-weapons was World War II. With Germany leading the way, Japanese and British forces also used incendiaries to devastating effect, but the weapon would be taken to new heights by the United States. Initially, US officials said they wanted to avoid the “area bombing” – killing everyone in a large area – that was being carried out by the above groups on various cities. But soon they abandoned this approach and embraced the method. Wanting to further increase their ability to destroy large areas, and with particular regard to the wooden cities of Japan (66), the US Chemical Warfare Service assembled a team of chemists at Harvard to design an incendiary weapon that would be optimal for this goal.

As the team progressed in its development, the military built replicas of German and Japanese civilian homes – complete with furnishings, with the most attention devoted to bedrooms and attics – so that the new weapon, dubbed “napalm” (a portmanteau of chemicals napthenate and palmitate) could be tested. In all of these replica structures, which were built, burnt, and rebuilt multiple times, only civilian homes were constructed – never military, industrial, or commercial buildings (stated multiple times, e.g. 37). In 1931, US General Billy Mitchell, regarded as the “founding inspiration” of the US Air Force, remarked that since Japanese cities were “built largely of wood and paper”, they made the “greatest aerial targets the world has ever seen. … Incendiary projectiles would burn the cities to the ground in short order.” In 1941, US Army chief of staff George Marshall told reporters that the US would “set the paper cities of Japan on fire”, and that “There won’t be any hesitation about bombing civilians” (66). While napalm was first used against Japanese troops in the Pacific Islands, the campaign of “area bombing” of Japanese civilians was led by a man with the “aura of a borderline sociopath” who had, as a child, enjoyed killing small animals (70): Curtis LeMay. LeMay said the goal was for Japanese cities to be “wiped right off the map” (74). To this effect, on March 9, 1945, the US “burned a flaming cross about four miles by three into the heart” of Tokyo, which crew information sheets said was the most densely populated city in the world at the time: 103,000 people per square mile. In the first hour, 690,000 gallons of napalm were used. The city was essentially undefended. Japanese fighters, mostly unable to take flight, did not shoot down a single US aircraft, and air-defense batteries were defunct.

Charred remains of Japanese civilians after the firebombing of Tokyo on the night of 9–10 March 1945. (Source: Public Domain) 

By the next morning, fifteen square miles of the city center were in ashes, with approximately 100,000 people dead, mainly from burning. Streets were strewn with “carbonized” figures and rivers were “clogged with bodies” of people who had tried to escape the firestorms. The text contains numerous descriptions and survivors’ accounts, but here I’ll just mention one: A survivor saw a wealthy woman in a fine, gold kimono running from a firestorm. The winds, which reached hundreds of miles per-hour, whipped her high into the air and thrashed her around. She burst into flame and disappeared, incinerated. A scrap of her kimono drifted through the air and landed at the feet of the survivor.

On the US end, multiple bombers reported vomiting in their planes from the overpowering smell, blasted skyward by the windstorms, of “roasting human flesh” – a sickly “sweet” odor (81).

In Washington, Generals congratulated each other. General Arnold cabled LeMay that he had proved that he “had the guts for anything.” Mission commander Power boasted that

“There were more casualties than in any other military action in the history of the world.”

Neer says this assessment is correct: this was the single deadliest one-night military operation in the world history of warfare, to the present (83).

Some 33 million pounds of napalm were used in the campaign overall, with 106 square miles of Japan’s cities burned flat. 330,000 civilians are estimated to have been killed, with burning “the leading cause of death”. Chief of Air Staff Lauris Norstad said the destruction was “Nothing short of wonderful” (84).

After both atomic bombings (which, individually, inflicted less damage than the March 9 Tokyo area-firebombing), and after the Japanese surrender, but before it had been officially accepted, General Hap Arnold called for “as big a finale as possible.” Accordingly, 1,014 aircraft were used to further “pulverize Tokyo with napalm and explosives”. The US did not incur a single loss in the raid (85).

Japan’s best ability to attack the US mainland was seen in its hanging of bombs from balloons and drifting them into the eastward Jetstream. The Japanese government thus managed to kill five people in Oregon.

While the atomic bomb “got the press”, American napalm was thus established as the truly “most effective weapon”. While each atomic bombing cost $13.5 billion, incinerating cities with napalm cost only $83,000 “per metropolis” – relatively speaking, nothing. Napalm was now understood by the US military as the real bringer of “Armageddon”, and was then used accordingly in its next major military campaigns in foreign countries.(North America and Australia remain the only two continents where napalm has never actually been used on people. It has been used by many other militaries, largely US clients, but no one has used it to the extent of the United States [193]).

While the text continues tracing the use of napalm up to the present, the sections on the development of napalm and then its first major use, on Japan, are the most powerful – even though, after determining napalm’s power, the US used it more extensively on Korea and Vietnam (in the latter case, mostly, as the author notes, in South Vietnam, where there was no opposing air-force or air-defense). I think this is somewhat intentional, since part of the author’s goal, I argue below, is to justify the US’s use of napalm. This is much easier to do regarding WWII, as it is overwhelmingly interpreted by Americans as a “good war” and thus requires no justification, whereas the selectively “forgotten” Korean war or the often shame-invoking Vietnam war require historical manipulations or omissions to make US actions at least semi-thinkable. So, from here I will give a broader summary and critique of the book.

One important theoretical and historical argument that the author makes is that while there was virtually no American opposition to the use of napalm in WWII or against Korea (indeed, there was celebration; in WWII, the press did not even mention human victims in its initial reports of the raids, only property damage [82]), in the course of the Vietnam war, massive disgust and opposition resulted from the US’s widespread use of the incendiary chemical concoction. (During the Korean war, there was foreign opposition to the US’s use of napalm to incinerate Korean cities. Even Winston Churchill, who oversaw the brutal torture or killing of millions of people elsewhere, such as in India, remarked that the US’s napalm use was “very cruel”: the US was “splashing it all over the civilian population”, “tortur[ing] great masses of people”. The US official who took this statement declined to publicize it [102-3].) Because of concerted opposition to napalm and corporations (particularly Dow Chemical) that produced napalm for the military, the gel became regarded as a “worldwide synonym for American brutality” (224).Neer asserts that a reason for this is that “authorities did not censor” during the Vietnam war to the extent that they did “during World War II and the Korean War” (148). Images of children and others horrifically burnt or incinerated by napalm therefore became available to the public and incited people like Dr. Bruce Franklin and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to engage in group actions to stop the war and the use of napalm. What this says about the effectiveness of imagery and government and corporate control of imagery, and information generally – and about Franklin’s observation that censorship was increased in response to opposition to the Vietnam war (Vietnam and Other American Fantasies) – may be disquieting.

However, Neer points out (and in part seems to lament), the image of napalm was never salvaged, except for within a sub-group of personality-types (in this text limited to the rabble) who had always enthusiastically supported its use, referring to its Vietnamese victims in racist and xenophobic terms such as “ungodly savages”, “animals” (130), etc., or with statements such as “I Back Dow [Chemical]. I Like My VC [Vietcong] Well Done” (142).These kinds of statements were often embarrassing to corporate and government officials who tried to defend their use of the chemical on “humanitarian” and other such grounds, in apparent contrast to the low-brow rabble that simply admitted it liked the idea of roasting people alive. When W. Bush used napalm and other incendiaries against personnel in his invasion of Iraq, initiated in 2003, the weapon’s reputation was then such, on balance, that the administration at first tried to deny that it was being used (e.g. 210). In academic biographies of the main inventor of napalm, Louis Fieser, Neer notes that the fire-gel goes mysteriously unmentioned.

Attention on napalm due to American use of it in Vietnam resulted in multiple experts and expert panel assessments of the weapon, and the issue was repeatedly raised in the UN General Assembly – which, since the Korean War and the rise of the decolonization climate, had drifted increasingly away from purely Western colonial, American-led control. (During the Korean War, China had not been admitted to the UN and the USSR abstained from participation [92].) In 1967, Harvard Medical School instructor Peter Reich and senior physician at Massachusetts General Hospital Victor Sidel called napalm a “chemical weapon” that causes horrific burns, and said it is particularly dangerous for children and has a devastating psychological clout. They said doctors should familiarize themselves with napalm’s effects (133). In 1968, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution deploring “the use of chemical and biological means of warfare, including napalm bombing” (175).In 1971, the UNGA called napalm a “cruel” weapon. In 1972, it again overwhelmingly approved a resolution deploring the use of napalm “in all armed conflicts”, noting it regarded the weapon “with horror” (178).An expert panel agreed, calling napalm a “savage and cruel” “area weapon” of “total war” (176). The United States abstained from or opposed all of these overwhelmingly approved resolutions.

While napalm ultimately lost the battle for public opinion, its use today is only technically outlawed against civilians and civilian areas – an agreement reached in 1980 and finally ratified by the US, with self-exceptions of dubious legality, in 2009.

While the text is highly informative and readable, my main critique is that as it presents the reality of napalm and its use, it drifts – seemingly out of nationalistic necessity – into a partisan defense of the United States. My problem with this is that Neer does not state this position outright but argues it implicitly, through omission. Regarding WWII, defending US actions requires little work. Most people who would read this book, including myself, know that the crimes committed by Germany and Japan were perpetrated on a scale far vaster than the violent actions carried out by the US at the time. However, there is an interesting point within this observation, which Neer should be commended for not necessarily shying away from: if we imagine a parallel situation of a group attacking a second group that a) militarily attacked the first group and b) is universally recognized for performing terrible acts, it does not mean the first group is angelic and thereafter morally justified in anything it wants to do. (An example to illustrate the parallel might be Iran’s anti-ISIS campaign, which Iran is using in ways similar to how the US uses WWII, to legitimate itself and justify subsequent actions.) The first group, even if less criminal, can still be incredibly brutal, and can easily issue self-serving justifications (such as expediency, “humanitarianism”, etc.) for its brutality. This is a dynamic that may be illustrated in, for example, the fact that the US’s March 9 attack on Tokyo was and remains the single deadliest one-night act of war in world history. Germany and Japan were far worse overall at the time, but this does not mean the people in the US administration were Gandhi, or that everything the US did should be celebrated or issued blanket justification. Robert McNamara, for example, LeMay’s top lieutenant in WWII and later architect of the efficiency-maximizing “body-count” policy in Vietnam (See Turse, Kill Anything that Moves), said the firebombing of Tokyo “was a war crime” (226). Still, Neer limits understanding here, and covers for “his” side, by omitting any discussion of racism (more on this below), and may only be more willing to detail US actions because of the distance in time and the feeling that any action in WWII is justified by Germany and Japan’s unthinkable criminality. (We might also note that, for example, Zinn, in his history of the United States, argues that the US was supportive of both German and Japanese state terrorism and aggression before the two nations made their desperate go-for-broke bids for empire-extension and colonization-avoidance, and that, in terms of Germany, as the documentary record illustrates, the US was not motivated by a desire to save Jewish people.)

This Tokyo residential section was virtually destroyed. (Source: Public Domain)

Regarding the Korean War, Neer’s method for “justifying” the US’s use of napalm is to omit literally everything that happened contextually before North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel, and to act as if the UN imprimatur for the Western war in Korea was meaningful, and not essentially the US approving its own war-plans. He does say that China and Russia did not participate in the UN then (China because it was not allowed and Russia by protest of China’s exclusion, according to Neer), but he does not explicitly note, as, say, does Banivanua-Mar in Decolonizing the Pacific, that the UN at this point was simply a Western colonial (and neocolonial) military alliance utterly dominated by the United States, with no opposition. Thus, UN imprimatur meant nothing like what it would mean today, when it is still highly problematic. “UN forces”, as Neer implicitly illustrates at one point, were basically US forces.[i] On the other issue, Neer has no excuse for omitting everything that happened before NK troops crossed the 38th parallel because (for other reasons) he cites Bruce Cumings, whose authoritative seminal study The Korean War: A History points out that before DPRK (NK) troops entered, the US had itself invented the 38th parallel by looking at a map and guessing the halfway point. The line was an arbitrary US creation to serve US interests and tactics, not a Korean one. The US then propped up a dictator in the South and exterminated one or two hundred thousand people before the NK troops “invaded” by crossing the US’s arbitrary line. The troops from the North, like much if not most of the population, did not accept the artificial division or the US-backed dictatorship that was exterminating people in the South. Cumings also says the US war on North Korea constituted “genocide”, and says the NK troops empirically, i.e. simply by the numbers, behaved far better than American or South Korean forces, as unacceptable as this is to the mind of a fanatically ‘anti-communist’ culture. Reckoning with the US’s pouring of “oceans of napalm”[ii]on Korea in this light thus becomes more challenging – even more so if racism is not omitted, as it also is in Neer’s account. Cumings, by contrast, notes that Americans referred to “all Koreans, North and South”, as “gooks”, and to the Chinese as “chinks”. This was part of a “logic” that said “they are savages, so that gives us a right to shower napalm on innocents.”[iii]

Neer even engages in this a bit himself, demonstrating some of what historian Dong Choon Kim notes was an attitude of dehumanization of the “other”. Kim writes that the “discourse and rhetoric that US and ROK [South Korea] elites used dehumanizing the target group (‘communists’) was similar to what has occurred in … cases of genocide”.[iv] Neer, for example, says, using the US’s self-serving ideological framing, that napalm “held the line against communism” in the 1950s and then “served with distinction” in Vietnam – characterizations seemingly intended to evoke strength, honor, and rightness.

Neer also says China “invaded” North Korea (96). This is false. The US didn’t like it, but China was invited into North Korea by the DPRK regime. Unlike the US, China did not cross the US’s 38th parallel. The characterization of China as invader in this context is also curious given that Neer never once says the US (or UN) invaded North Korea or Vietnam. US actions are thus never characterized as invasions, while China’s invited defense of North Korea, which remained entirely within that territory, is.

Regarding Vietnam, Neer again justifies US action through omission of context such as the Geneva Accords of 1954[v] and the US’s own findings that the vast majority of the Vietnamese population supported the independence/anti-colonial/communist movement that the US was trying to prevent from holding the nationwide unification vote mandated by the Geneva Accords. Also interestingly in this chapter, Neer gives his only editorial characterization of the use of napalm as an “atrocity” – in describing a “Vietcong” use of napalm, which Neer says the Vietcong barely used – flamethrowers were a small part of their arsenal. Yet a relatively minor use of napalm by the “Vietcong” merits a casual editorial value-judgment by Neer as an “atrocity” while no other action in the text does so.

Neer at one point says that Cuba and the USSR used napalm against “pro-Western forces in Angola in 1978” (194). In this case, omission is used to condemn, rather than justify, napalm use, since Neer fails to mention that those “pro-Western forces”, which indeed were pro-Western and US-supported, were Apartheid regimes massacring black people and trying to maintain openly white supremacist dictatorships. Thus, when the nature of a regime serves the purpose of justifying American use of napalm, it is highlighted, but when, if the same logic were applied, it might “justify” a non-Western use of napalm, the nature of the regime is imbued with a positive hue as “pro-Western” – thus implicitly condemning the nonwestern forces’ use of napalm.

One gets virtually zero sense in the book of the prevalence of racism in US culture during these time periods. It is reduced to a couple of unknown, fringe civilians making comments in favor of napalm – comments then contrasted with the more sophisticated producers of napalm, who are characterized as embarrassed by the ugly racist remarks. The omission of racism stands in sharp contrast to many other histories of the eras, such as Dower’s history of WWII (War Without Mercy), in which he notes that an exterminationist ethos towards the Japanese was present in a minority of the US population generally, but much more prevalent in elite political circles carrying out the US’s military actions. Dehumanizing terms like “Jap” and “gook” are thus never mentioned once in Neer’s text, though they were used all the time. One gets the sense that Neer feels that including the extent of American racism (even race-law; see Hitler’s American Model, by Whitman, or The Color of the Law, by Rothstein) along with his accounts of America blanketing defenseless Asian cities with napalm would allow an image of the US that, though historically accurate, would be too unpalatable to be acceptable.

All of this may not be completely surprising given that Neer teaches a course about US history called “Empire of Liberty”, which, for example, includes two texts by Max Boot, often regarded as a “neocon”. I have no issue, in theory, with taking this position, but if doing so requires omissions as large as some of those mentioned above, in at least one case even flirting with genocide-denial, or at least avoidance of the debate, (i.e., completely omitting US-backed South Korean dictatorship), I start to question the position’s validity.

Overall, though, if one wants to learn about napalm and some things it illustrates about US history and ideology, this text should certainly be read – in conjunction with others that give a fuller picture of the reality of the times.

*

Robert J. Barsocchini is working on a Master’s thesis in American Studies. Years serving as a cross-cultural intermediary for corporations in the film and Television industry sparked his interest in discrepancies between Western self-image and reality.

Notes

[i]Neer notes that Eighth Army Chemical Engineer Corps officer Bode said that of the approx. 70,000 pounds of napalm being thrown on Korea on “a good day”, about 60,000 pounds of this was thrown by US forces. P. 99.

[ii]Cumings, Bruce. The Korean War: A History. Modern Library. 2011. P. 145.

[Iii]Ibid. p. 81, 153.

[iv]Kim, Dong Choon. “Forgotten War, Forgotten Massacres—the Korean War (1950–1953) as Licensed Mass Killings.”Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 6, no. 4, 2004, pp. 523–544. P. 17.

[v]Neer does mention other Vietnam-related events in the 1950s, thus giving at least some broader context.

To Hell with US Jobs, Let’s Get Iran!

August 13th, 2018 by Eric Margolis

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

President Trump keeps vowing to create more jobs in America.  But his actions often speak differently.  The most egregious example was Trump’s cancellation of the multi-national Iran nuclear treaty that had been welcomed by the world as a major step to Mideast denuclearization.

In abrogating the international treaty signed by the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, the US humiliated its allies and rivals who were strongly in favor of the accord.  Iran had already handed 97% of its enriched uranium to Russia, shut down reactors and centrifuges, and allowed UN inspectors to run all over its nuclear facilities when Trump tore up the deal that had been under negotiation since 2015.

Iran has been under a harsh US-led trade embargo since its 1979 revolution that was designed to cripple its economy and military and drive the people to rebel against their government.  Washington used the same tactics – without success – against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

So intense is the Trump administration’s hatred for Islamic Iran that it decided to scrap the multinational nuclear deal that would have meant opening Iran to western commerce and a bonanza for US and European companies.  The key element of the deal was to have been the sale of some 210 commercial jet airliners to Iran by the US and the European Union, a deal worth some $40-50 billion, not counting future sales of spare parts.

The US embargo of Iran since 1979 has made it unable to modernize its commercial airline fleet.  Iran was denied modern aircraft, spare parts, engines and instruments, leaving it with decaying aircraft from the 1970’s.

The grim result of the US-imposed embargo has been 17 crashes of Iranian civilian aircraft with 1500 deaths.

Most of Iran’s commercial aircraft – a grab bag of old, mostly 25-year old Boeing, Airbus, Chinese and Soviet aircraft – are flying coffins.  Iran’s maintenance, training and air traffic control are substandard.  Flying over and around Iran’s lofty mountains is a challenge for the best of pilots, even for a handful of newer ATR turboprop aircraft.

Washington’s denial to Iran of Boeing Aircraft (and Airbus planes because they contain US-made parts), means the loss of tens of thousands of highly-paid jobs in the US and Europe.  Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claims he talked Trump into canceling the Iran nuclear deal and the Boeing orders.

It’s hard to validate Netanyahu’s claim but it is clear that America’s ever more powerful Israel lobby and its ally fundamentalist Christian Zionists played a key role in thwarting the Iran nuclear deal and sale of commercial aircraft.

We don’t yet know the full cost of lost American jobs and business to help keep Iran isolated.  But one could argue that part of the $20 billion lost should be counted as part of annual US aid to Israel.

Russia and China’s aircraft industries will soon be able to deliver modern passenger aircraft to Iran and accept payment in oil.  China’s C919 and ARJ21 are now nearing service. Russia’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 will be ready soon.  Trump could be cutting off his nose to spite his face.

Trump and his allies are trying to push Iran into a corner and provoke it to lash out at US forces that are poised around it.  A navel clash in the Gulf is the obvious pretext for war.

While the US goes after Iran, it has opened a new anti-Muslim front against old ally Turkey by imposing heavy duties on Ankara’s exports to the US and attacking the always vulnerable Turkish lira.  This, in turn, has set off a financial crisis across Europe, notably among EU banks that have large, soft loans made to Turkey.

Trump & Co. are trying to force Turkey to bend the knee and support US-Israeli-Saudi policy goals.  Turkey and Iran remain the last significant supporters in the region of the Palestinians.  Trump and the New York City real estate developers, and the money men who surround him, are determined to show the independent-minded Iranians and Turks who is the big boss.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

More than 100,000 Arabs and Jews demonstrated in a show of unity against the recently passed “racist” nation state law in Tel Aviv on Saturday, the second large protest in eight days.

Protesters waved Israeli and Palestinian flags demanding the resignation of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as the crowds called for the “fascist laws” to be scrapped saying:

“We are all brothers. Jews and Arabs refuse to be divided.”

Saturday’s demonstration was organised by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and was backed by a broad range of organisations including the Hadash-Communist Party of Israel, the Coalition Against Racism in Israel and Koah La’Ovdim Worker’s Union.

More than 300 buses brought people from cities including Haifa and Nazareth with organisers saying “buses of Arabs are coming in droves,” mocking Mr Netanyahu’s infamous race-baiting during the 2015 Israeli general election.

Anger is growing over the passing of the controversial nation state law in the Knesset last month which declared that only Jews have the right to self-determination in the State of Israel.

Source: author

Critics have warned of the consolidation of Israel as an “apartheid state” through the legislation under which Hebrew is designated the country’s sole official language, with Arabic downgraded to a “special status.”

Israeli Arab Joint List group of parties spokesman Ayman Odeh warned at the time of “the death of our democracy” and said the law was one of “Jewish supremacy” meaning Palestinians would always be second-class citizens.

Members of the minority Druze community joined the protest on Saturday, along with Israeli Arabs who make up around 17.5 per cent of the Israeli population.

Communist Party of Israel spokesman Mohammad Barakeh told the rally:

“Friends, you know that not all the Arabs here think the same. Neither do all the Jews. But all the Arabs and all the Jews came here in droves to protest.

“There will not be another Nakba. We are staying here. We shall overcome.”

Hadash former parliamentarian and Communist Party of Israel executive committee member Issam Makhoul said:

“This is one of the most important demonstrations, one that demands an alternative to the current way of thinking in Israel – that which is dangerous to both nations, which tries to delegitimise the Arab sector.

“We are part of this country’s landscape. Our citizenship stems from our sense of belonging to our homeland, and we will not allow anyone to harm our status, not our national status and not our civil status.”

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

One month ago, the bond market and political pundits did a double take when according to the latest Treasury International Capital report, Russia had liquidated virtually all of its US Treasury holdings, selling off the bulk of its US government bonds in just two months, March and April.

And with the US threatening to impose a new set of “crushing” sanctions on Russia, including in retaliation for the alleged Novichok nerve gas attack in the UK, Russia not only intends to continue liquidating its US holdings, but to significantly reduce its reliance on the US Dollar.

Speaking in an interview for the Rossiya 1 TV channel, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that Russia “aims to keep reducing its investments in American securities” following new U.S. sanctions and said that the “US dollar is becoming an unreliable tool for payments in international trade.” The minister also hinted at the possibility of using national currencies instead of the dollar in oil trade.

“I do not rule it out. We have significantly reduced our investment in US assets. In fact, the dollar, which is considered to be the international currency, becomes a risky tool for payments,” Siluanov noted.

On Friday, the Russian ruble sank to the lowest level in over two years after news about new US sanctions against Russia over the alleged poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK, coupled with general selling of emerging market currencies as a result of the growing Turkish financial crisis.

According to media reports, the first package will imply a complete ban on the export of electronic devices and dual-use components to Russia, whilst the second package may include a decrease in diplomatic relations, a ban on flights of Russia’s Aeroflot carrier to the United States and an almost complete suspension of US exports.

Siluanov said the sanctions are “unpleasant,” but nothing fatal. In response, Moscow will only continue to minimize investment in the US economy and securities and will push for payments in rubles and other currencies, including the euro.

The response, however, will not target American companies operating in Russia, he said.

“Currently, we do not plan any restrictive measures or closures, for example, to close McDonald’s, as our citizens work in these companies.”

Meanwhile, as Russia is contemplating abandoning the dollar, the recently introduced Chinese “petroyuan” oil futures contract has seen a surge in interest recently, and just last week we showed that the Chinese oil futures contract spiked to a new record high, coinciding with the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran. This was the biggest daily move in China’s oil futures since the contract’s inception in March to a new all time high.

The move coincided with the first of two rounds of US sanctions against Iran kicking off and targeting Iran’s access to US banknotes and key industries, including cars and carpets. As we further noted, there has been a notable decoupling from Brent and WTI futures, suggesting a sudden burst of contract-specific buying demand in the ‘petroyuan’

What may explain the sudden surge? simple: China can effectively bypass Iran sanctions by pricing Iran oil in China’s own currency, a move underscored by yesterday’s news that China has replaced French energy giant Total with an 80.1% stake in the phase 11 of the South Pars (gas field), which has the world’s biggest natural gas reserves ever found in one place.

With Russia hinting that it is close to giving up on the dollar entirely in oil trade and shifting to a petroyuan-based regime, how long before other nations follow suit, especially with the US increasingly energy self-sufficient?

Time for Trudeau to Call the Saudi Bluff

August 12th, 2018 by Yves Engler

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

As every good poker player knows, sometimes the right move is to go all in.

Given his cards and the obvious over-the-top attempt by his opponent to scare him off a winning hand, Justin Trudeau’s next move should be to see Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s (aka MBS) diplomatic break and raise him a wide-ranging ethical challenge.

In response to Saudi Arabia suspending diplomatic ties, withdrawing medical students and selling off assets in Canada over an innocuous tweet, the Trudeau government should:

  • Demand an immediate end to Saudi airstrikes in Yemen. More than 15,000Yemenis have been killed, including dozens of children on Thursday, since Riyadh began bombing its southern neighbour in 2015. Ottawa should suspend air force training until they stop bombing Yemen. In 2011 Saudi pilots began training in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Cold Lake, Alberta with NATO’s Flying Training in Canada (NFTC).
  • As Trudeau promised before the 2015 election, the Liberals should re-establish diplomatic relations with Riyadh’s regional competitor Iran.
  • Labour minister Patricia Hajdu should hold a press conference in Ottawa or at the International Labour Organization in Geneva to call on that country to adhere to international labour standards. Exiled Saudi labouractivists could be invited to discuss how unions have been outlawed in the kingdom since 1947.
  • Culture minister Pablo Rodriguez should launch an investigation into Saudi funding of mosques, Islamic schools, universitiesand Arabic language media in Canada. The objective would be to ascertain the extent to which this money promotes an extremist Wahhabi version of Islam and the reactionary politics of the Saudi monarchy.
  • Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland should forcefully criticize the fourteen-month old Saudi blockade of Qatar and visit that country in a demonstration of solidarity.
  • Trudeau should condemn any effort by MBS to impose the Donald Trump/Jared Kushner “deal of the century” on Palestinians.
  • Global Affairs Canada should closely monitor repression in the largely Shia eastern region of the country and be prepared to strongly condemn it.
  • Call for an end to Saudi interference in Bahrain, a small island nation sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Saudi forces (with Canadian made Light Armored Vehicles) intervened to squelch pro-democracy protests there in 2011 and continue to support the 220-year-old monarchy.
  • Withdraw any Canadian military personnel training Saudi forces.A Canadian colonel, Mark Campbell, leads the General Dynamics Land Systems Saudi Arabian LAV support program.
  • Cease public support, including via the Canadian Commercial Corporation, for weapons sales to Saudi Arabia until the monarchy re-establishes full diplomatic ties, ends the blockade of Qatar and stops bombing Yemen.

One of the most misogynistic and repressive countries in the world, the Saudi royal family uses its immense wealth to promote reactionary social forces in the Middle East and elsewhere. The Saudi monarchy may be the worst regime in the world. (The US, of course, is responsible for far more violence but it is relatively free domestically.)

In an odd twist the Liberals have been given a unique opportunity to turn the highest-profile “stain” on their “supposedly principled, feminist, rights-promoting foreign policy” into a human rights image boosting campaign. Standing up to a wealthy international bully could be exactly what the party needs to be re-elected.

Of course Trudeau may fear MBS’ relationship with Trump/Kushner, Saudi’s growing alliance with Israel and ties to some Canadian corporate titans. But to win the big pots a poker player must be willing to gamble.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Five years ago on 14 August, the new Egyptian military regime under General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi crushed a protest at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, killing at least 817 people. 

Since then, increasing repression has enabled Sisi to consolidate his rule while maintaining the support of his main Western backers, the US and UK. Britain’s policy towards Egypt in the past five years has been remarkable, confirming that Whitehall not only turns a blind eye to, but often has a preference for, repressive systems that help advance its commercial interests in the Middle East.

Human Rights Watch observed that the Rabaa killings were “perhaps the largest mass killing of protesters on a single day in modern history, worse even than Tiananmen Square”. Security forces used armoured cars, bulldozers and snipers to attack the makeshift camp and gun down protesters staging a sit-in in support of the ousted government of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

Since then, torture, deaths in detention and restrictions on civil society and journalists have become common. A 2017 British government report noted that there were 60,000 political detainees in the Egypt.

Energy deals

For the British government, the repression has presented a new opportunity. Indeed, it seems as though, for Downing Street, the Wu-Tang Clan’s anthem applies: cash rules everything around me

In March 2015, British multinational oil giant BP signed a massive $12bn investment deal for an oil and gas project in the West Nile Delta. The agreement, the largest foreign direct investment in Egypt, enables BP to develop five trillion cubic feet of gas resources.

The deal was first announced in 2010 under the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak and was confirmed by the Morsi government after the 2011 revolution. However, BP was forced to put the project on hold after local residents mobilised against the plan to build a mega-gas plant next to their homes, blocking roads and occupying the building site.

At the same time, the Morsi government introduced an obstacle by objecting to BP’s proposed terms that it should have direct ownership over the resources and accrue 100 percent of the profits. By mid-2013, just weeks before the coup, the Morsi government was engaged in talks with BP demanding better terms.

Sisi’s seizure of power changed everything. The new deal offers BP exceedingly generous terms and has moved Egypt away from a long-used production-sharing model, in which companies and countries typically split profits 20:80, to a tax royalty scheme that essentially hands control of natural resources to private companies.

BP’s project can also resume because of the Sisi regime’s repression. The new anti-protest law threatens multi-year prison terms for street protests and has largely silenced many NGOs and opposition forces, including those opposing the BP deal. Within a year of seizing power, Egypt’s oil minister announced that BP’s stalled project had restarted; production began in May 2017.

BP and the British state

BP is not just any investor in Egypt. It has projects in the North African country worth around $30bn. It basically controls the nation’s energy supplies. BP produces close to 50 percent of Egypt’s natural gas consumption and, with the Egyptian General Petroleum Company, almost 40 percent of its oil production. BP and its partners operate across 55,000 square kilometres of the country – an area around the size of Croatia.

Neither is BP just another company. Rather, it has connections at the highest levels of the British state. On BP’s board sits John Sawers, the former director of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who took up his BP role in 2015 after serving as head of MI6 from 2009-14. Sawers also has strong links to Egypt, having served as British ambassador there from 2001 to 2003.

John Manzoni, the UK cabinet secretary, spent 24 years at BP and was previously on its board. Former BP chief executive Lord Browne later became the lead non-executive director of the Cabinet Office.

The UK has long been the largest investor in Egypt, but “we are hungry for more,” the British ambassador in Cairo, John Casson, has said. In February, the British trade envoy to Egypt, Jeffrey Donaldson, arrived in Cairo, heading up the largest British trade delegation in nearly two decades, involving more than 50 companies.

May and Sisi

The scale of its commercial interests makes Britain probably the leading apologist for Sisi’s regime. When Sisi won an “election” in April with 97 percent of the vote – a figure that would have impressed Soviet leaders – Theresa Maycongratulated President Sisi on the chance to take Egypt further along the path of democratic transition”. May’s support is especially shocking, since Sisi ran virtually unchallenged after other candidates were arrested or pulled out, in a process where there were no public debates.

May’s apologia for Sisi follows his visit to the UK in 2015 and a stream of recent high-level military visits. The British government said last month that “military cooperation between Egypt and the UK has increased significantly in recent years as the UK and Egypt work to deepen their cooperation in the face of the shared threat of terrorism”. It has also announcedthat it hopes to train “hundreds” of Egyptian military officers in Britain.

These relations are with officers intimately involved in the overthrow of the Morsi government: Egypt’s new defence minister, Lieutenant General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki, personally arrested Morsi during the 2013 coup.

Whitehall is perfectly aware of the deteriorating human rights situation, but Casson has apparently convinced himself that Egyptians “are building a more stable, more prosperous and more democratic country”. Casson has even been quoted in the Egyptian media approving of Egypt’s “tough security measures”. Peter Oborne notes that the British ambassador has never publicly complained about the murder of Egyptian citizens by the regime or about the torture and rape of political prisoners. What the diplomat does do, however, is stress that Britain is “Egypt’s number one investment partner”.

London says it has raised concerns about human rights in Egypt, but its policy doesn’t change as a result. After the 2013 Rabaa massacre, the UK government revoked some arms export licences, but left larger licences in place; arms sales soon resumed at normal levels. Some £72m ($92m) in arms have been supplied by the UK in the past three years.

Impunity for Rabaa

The British government says it is “not aware of any Egyptian accountability processes relating to” the Rabaa massacre. Indeed, no security officers have been held accountable for the killings. Rather, last month, the Egyptian parliament provisionally approved legislation that exempts senior army officers from prosecution for acts committed in the period following the July 2013 military coup.

Egyptian journalist Mohannad Sabry has noted that the Sisi regime, far from fighting terrorism, is “creating and sustaining a state of desperation and hopelessness, crushing the already dwindling belief that change can be accomplished through peaceful means, and leaving a vacuum for terrorist groups to fill”. As elsewhere in the Middle East, we are witnessing British policies that are both unethical and go against the basic British – and Egyptian – public interest.

*

Mark Curtis is a historian and analyst of UK foreign policy and international development and the author of six books, the latest being an updated edition of  Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. 

Yemen War Challenges Saudi Moral Authority

August 12th, 2018 by James M. Dorsey

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Saudi conduct of its ill-fated war in Yemen coupled with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s alignment with the Trump administration and Israel, and his often coercive approach to diplomatic relations, has opened the door to challenges of the kingdom’s moral leadership of the Sunni Muslim world, a legitimizing pillar of the ruling Al Saud family’s grip on power.

The cracks in Saudi legitimacy are being fuelled by the escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen, described by the United Nations and aid organizations as the world’s worst since World War Two; shocking civilian deaths as the result of attacks by the Saudi-led coalition; electoral successes by populist leaders in countries like Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan; and the kingdom’s inability to impose its will on countries like Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and Oman.

An attack this week on a bus in the heartland of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that killed at least 43 people, including 29 children returning from a summer camp, dealt a significant body blow to Saudi moral authority.

The coalition said it would investigate the attack that has sparked international outrage.

The attack was but the latest of multiple incidents in which weddings, funerals and hospitals have been hit by coalition forces in a war that has gone badly wrong and demonstrates Saudi military ineptitude despite the fact that the kingdom’s armed forces operate some of the world’s most sophisticated weaponry, according to military sources.

Mr. Trump reversed a decision by his predecessor, Barack Obama, to halt the sale of air-dropped and precision-guided munitions until it had better trained Saudi forces in their targeting and use of the weapons. An Obama official said at the time that there were “systemic, endemic” problems in Saudi targeting.

“Malaysia and other Muslim nations can no longer look up to the Saudis like we used to. They can no longer command our respect and provide leadership. The Saudis have abandoned the Palestinians, just like the Egyptians. The Saudis have moved much closer to Israel who are suppressing and killing the Palestinians,” said Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad, a member of Malaysia’s upper house of parliament and the head of the ruling Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition in the Malaysian state of Terengganu.

“Perhaps Malaysia under the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad should take the lead again in speaking up for the oppressed Muslims of the world. It is about time Malaysia again show the leadership that was once so much admired and respected worldwide,” Mr. Bahrin added.

Malaysia has sought to distance itself from Saudi Arabia since the return to power in May of Dr. Mahathir, whose stark anti-Israeli statements propelled him to prominence in the Middle East.

Source: author

Malaysia has in recent weeks withdrawn troops from the 41-nation, Saudi-sponsored Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) and closed the Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) in Kuala Lumpur. Dr. Mahathir’s defense minister, Mohamad Sabu, long before taking office this year, was already highly critical of Saudi Arabia.

In anticipation of investigations into allegations of corruption against former prime minister Najib Razak and his recent indictment, Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull, Dr. Mahathir’s newly appointed anti-corruption czar, noted barely a week after the May election that “we have had difficulties dealing with Arab countries (such as) Qatar, Saudi Arabia, (and the) UAE.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera last month, Mr. Mahathir said that “we are disappointed that Saudi Arabia has not denied that the money was given by Saudi,” referring to $681 million in Saudi funds that were allegedly gifted to Mr. Razak.

Malaysia is but the latest Sunni Muslim nation to either challenge Saudi Arabia or at least refuse to kowtow to the kingdom’s foreign policy as it relates to its bitter rivalry with Iran; Prince Mohammed’s tacit backing of US President Donald J. Trump’s staunch support of Israel and pressure on Palestinians; its 14-month old economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar; and the war in Yemen.

Like Dr. Mahathir in the past, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, despite his evolving autocracy, has emerged as an Islamist populist counter pole, his credibility enhanced by his escalating disputes with the United States, his often emotional support for the Palestinians, and opposition to moves by Mr. Trump like his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mr. Erdogan’s Turkey this week became the latest target of Mr. Trump’s wielding of trade and economic sanctions as a means of bullying countries into submitting to his demands. Mr. Trump doubled metals tariffs on Turkey after earlier sanctioning two senior Turkish ministers in an effort to force Mr. Erdogan to release American evangelist Andrew Brunson.

Mr. Brunson has been detained in Turkey for the past two years on charges of having been involved in the failed 2016 military coup against Mr. Erdogan and seeking to convert Turkish Kurds to Christianity.

Mr. Erdogan has in recent years consistently thought to thwart Saudi policy in the region by positioning himself as the leader of a Muslim world opposed to Mr. Trump’s Israel-Palestine approach and a de facto Arab alliance with Israel, maintaining close ties to Iran and defying US sanctions against the Islamic republic, supporting Qatar, and expanding Turkish influence in the Horn of Africa in competition with the UAE, Saudi Arabia’s closest regional ally.

Mr. Erdogan has portrayed Prince Mohammed’s vow to return Saudi Arabia to an unidentified form of ‘moderate Islam’ as adopting a Western concept.

“Islam cannot be either ‘moderate’ or ‘not moderate.’ Islam can only be one thing. Recently the concept of ‘moderate Islam’ has received attention. But the patent of this concept originated in the West. Perhaps, the person voicing this concept thinks it belongs to him. No, it does not belong to you. They are now trying to pump up this idea again. What they really want to do is weaken Islam … We don’t want people to learn about religion from foreign facts,” Mr. Erdogan said.

Echoing former US president George W. Bush’s assertion of an axis of evil, Prince Mohammed charged in March that Turkey was part of a triangle of evil that included Iran and Islamist groups. The crown prince accused Turkey of trying to reinstate the Islamic Caliphate, abolished nearly a century ago when the Ottoman empire collapsed.

Similarly, Pakistan’s prime minister-in-waiting appeared to be charting his own course by saying that he wants to improve relations with Iran and mediate an end to the debilitating Saudi-Iranian rivalry despite the fact that the kingdom has so far ruled out a negotiated resolution and backs US efforts to isolate the Islamic republic.

In a bow to Saudi Arabia, Jordan has backed the kingdom in its row with Canada over criticism of Riyadh’s human rights record and refrained from appointing a new ambassador to Iran, but has stood its ground in supporting Palestinian rejection of US peace efforts.

Similarly, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri has reversed his resignation initially announced in Riyadh last year under alleged duress while Oman and Kuwait, alarmed by the Saudi-UAE campaign against Qatar, have sought to chart a middle course that keeps them out of the firing line of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

For the time being, Saudi Arabia is likely to successfully fend off challenges to its leadership of the Muslim world.

However, responding viscerally to criticism like in the case of non-Muslim Canada or, more importantly, two years ago to Muslim leaders who excluded Wahhabism and Salafism, the religious worldview that underpins the Al Sauds’ rule, from their definition of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaah or the Sunni people, is unlikely to cut ice in the longer term.

*

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

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

Dear Readers,

More than ever, Global Research needs your support. Our task as an independent media is to “Battle the Lie”.

“Lying” in mainstream journalism has become the “new normal”: mainstream journalists are pressured to comply. Some journalists refuse.

Lies, distortions and omissions are part of a multibillion dollar propaganda operation which sustains the “war narrative”.

While “Truth” is a powerful instrument, “the Lie” is generously funded by the lobby groups and corporate charities. And that is why we need the support of our readers.

Consider Making a Donation to Global Research

When the Lie becomes the Truth, there is no turning backwards. 

Support Global Research.

*     *     *

“Serious Incident” Unfolds as NATO Jet Accidentally Launches Secret Missile Near Russian Border

By Zero Hedge, August 12, 2018

Estonia’s defense minister has halted a NATO war exercise in Estonia pending an investigation after a fighter jet deployed in northeast Europe accidentally fired a secret missile during training. Authorities are now searching for the rocket, which was shot over the Baltic country’s airspace by a Spanish fighter jet this week near the Russian border.

Giving Trump Carte Blanche for War

By John Kiriakou, August 12, 2018

It’s hard to oppose a bill that would “keep Americans safe,” as Corker said in the SFRC hearing. But this bill is so bad, such an affront to our freedom, such an attack on our civil liberties, that we should be compelled to oppose it.

UN Sanctions Against North Korea, Encouraging De Facto Biological Warfare

By Carla Stea, August 11, 2018

The UN Security Council sanctions have imposed strangling economic warfare upon the DPRK from 2006 up to the present.   It is becoming evident, now, that these UN Sanctions are encouraging a form of de facto biological warfare against the citizens of the DPRK.  This is a criminal violation of international law for which the United Nations Security Council must immediately be held accountable.  This attack on the people of North Korea is reaching proportions that may ultimately lead to a global pandemic of resistant strains of Tuberculosis, the most lethal form of the disease and most difficult to treat.

A Decalogue: The Ten Theses of American Empire-Building: A Dialogue

By Prof. James Petras, August 11, 2018

Empire builders’ proposal to reconfigure the economy in order to regain imperial supremacy provokes domestic and overseas enemies. President Trump launched a global trade war, replaced political accommodation with economic sanctions against Russia and a domestic protectionist agenda and sharply reduced corporate taxes. He provoked a two-front conflict. Overseas, he provoked opposition from European allies and China, while facing perpetual harassment from domestic free market globalists and Russo-phobic political elites and ideologues.

Washington Has Lured the EU into An Anti-China Trade Front

By F. William Engdahl, August 11, 2018

While many in the EU breathed a sign of relief at the apparent success of the recent Washington trade tariff talks between EU Commission President Juncker and the Trump Administration, in reality it looks more as if Washington has skillfully maneuvered the EU, especially Germany, to close the door on any possible collaboration with China on trade and economic development. While there are problems with Chinese economic policy, the recent developments suggest an EU consensus to turn away from the enormous potentials of the China-based Eurasian economic space in favor of an alliance with the USA and China-hostile Japan against the Chinese development. That could seriously damage the EU economy going forward.

Giants: The Global Power Elite

By Peter Phillips, August 11, 2018

Central to the idea of a globalized power elite is the concept of a transnational capitalist class theorized in academic literature for some 20 years. Giants reviews the transition from nation state power elites, as described by Mills, to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital around the world.

Is Turkey Sleeping with the Enemy? The Russia-Turkey-Iran “Triple Entente”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, August 10, 2018

While Turkey is officially a member of NATO as well as a firm ally of the US, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been developing “friendly relations” with two of America’s staunchest enemies, namely Iran and Russia.

Sleeping with the enemy:  “Our relations are not good with Turkey” says Trump.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Selected Articles: Global Maelstrom of Political and Military Alliances

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Saudi/UAE terror-bombing a bus in Yemen’s northern Saada province Thursday was the latest mass atrocity in the country.

According to an updated ICRC body count, 51 Yemeni civilians were killed, including 40 children – 79 others injured, including 56 children. When terror-bombed, the bus was heading home from a picnic.

The US, UK and France are complicit in years of mass slaughter and destruction throughout the region, supplying the most arms – the Saudis, Egypt and UAE the leading buyers.

Nearly half of US arms exports go to the Middle East, supplying about one-third of all arms worldwide, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Between 2013 and 2017, arms exports to the Middle East doubled, responsible for mass slaughter and destruction in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

U.S., Britain, France, and other EU nations supply 98% of weapons sold to the Saudis. Other regional countries buy most of their arms from the same sources.

The US, Germany and Italy supply most Israeli arms imports. India, the world’s largest arms importer, buys most of its weapons from Russia (the main supplier), America and Israel.

Saudi Arabia is Britain’s largest arms customer. Scottish National Party MP Brendan O’Hare earlier asked:

“What does a regime have to do -how many breaches of international humanitarian law must it commit? – before this Government deems it an unacceptable partner to deal in arms with?”

The UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) challenged Theresa May’s regime “to stop its immoral and illegal arms sales to Saudi Arabia, ignoring and denying the overwhelming evidence that UK weapons are being used in violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.”

Its spokesman Andrew Smith said

“UK fighter jets and bombs have played a central role in the ongoing destruction.”

He called for a full investigation into whether “UK arms (were) used in this appalling (school bus) bombing.”

CAAT’s judicial challenge to the Theresa May regime will be heard in appeals court proceedings ahead.

America, Britain, France and other EU countries continue selling arms to the Saudi/UAE killing machine.

Britain’s Department for International Trade turned truth on its head, claiming “the UK operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world and will continue to defend the decisions being challenged,” adding:

“We keep our defense exports under careful review to ensure they meet the rigorous standards of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.”

According to RT,

“UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and the Foreign Office have issued no statements on the (school bus atrocity), and ignored RT when approached for comment.”

“The prime minister’s office refused to accept a list of questions from an RT journalist, or provide an email address for other future queries.”

“Neither the PM, Foreign Secretary, or Foreign Office have provided comment to the media on the Yemen bus attack.”

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry slammed May’s regime for “arming and advising a Saudi air force that cannot tell or does not see the difference between a legitimate military target and a bus full of children.”

Fact: There are no legitimate targets when waging wars of aggression – what’s going on in Yemen since March 2015. America, Israel, the Saudis, UAE, and apparently Britain consider civilians, including children, legitimate targets.

Yemen is Washington’s war, Britain and France partnering in its aggression – Saudi Arabia and the UAE their agents of mass slaughter and destruction.

Nikki Haley called for all sides to work with the UN “in good faith to find a political solution to the war.”

All it takes is for the Trump regime and its partners in high crimes to end their naked aggression on the country. Haley failed to explain.

On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert refused to hold the Saudis responsible for the school bus massacre, disgracefully saying “we don’t have the full details about what happened on the ground.”

At the same time, she falsely blamed Houthi fighters for Saudi/UAE high crimes.

The Saudi-led “coalition” began a whitewash probe into the school bus massacre. Earlier, it turned truth on its head, claiming the bus carried Houthi missiles.

The Thursday atrocity followed many earlier ones, many more sure to follow as endless US-orchestrated aggression on the country continues.

*

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Publishers for the news outlet were informed by Facebook on Thursday that their page had been “unpublished” due to “recent activity” that “doesn’t follow the Facebook Pages Terms.” When a Facebook page is unpublished, it becomes no longer viewable to the public, only to the administrators. Venezuela Analysis will have the option to appeal the decision.

It isn’t clear what specific activity prompted the move.

The outlet called it a “naked attempt to block our grassroots coverage of the on-the-ground situation in Venezuela. Need more evidence that [Facebook] is arm of corporate [mainstream media] censoring alternative voices?”

The outlet also noted that its page was unpublished after it posted a “brilliant piece demolishing the [mainstream media’s] appalling coverage of the assassination attempt against [Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro]” on Saturday.

The reader-funded news outlet is a rarity in the English-language media landscape because of its pro-Bolivarian stance, a stark contrast to the majority of coverage of Venezuela in the United States, which generally promotes Venezuelan opposition claims uncritically, giving often-violent opposition protests glowing coverage while excoriating the elected government.

Venezuela Analysis has received glowing endorsements from a host of political influencers. Filmmaker John Pilger wrote,

“Never has a country, its people, its politics, its leader, its myths and truths been so misreported and lied about as Venezuela in the past decade. Not only has [Venezuela Analysis] done much to correct this with its scrupulous attention to facts, both obvious and concealed, it has opened up a unique space for genuine critique of one of the world’s most imaginative popular movements.”

Director Oliver Stone said,

“Unlike most mainstream media reporting about governments in Latin America, Venezuela Analysis provides a sorely missed counterpoint — presenting a progressive perspective on the news from Venezuela that is in-depth and also takes the views of the country’s poor majority into account.”

Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky wrote that the outlet “has regularly provided very useful description, analysis and commentary on developments in Venezuela, rarely available in the US or the West generally, and valuable for a balanced understanding.”

Not everybody is thrilled with the coverage, though. In a leaked WikiLeaks cable from the United States, the outlet is included on a list of websites allegedly used by the Venezuelan government to “liberally” use “cyberspace to spread its war on the oligarchy, neoliberalism, the United States government, and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.”

The removal of Venezuela Analysis’ page from the public’s eye comes after a coordinated ban from YouTube, Facebook and Apple against Infowars, a far right fringe media outlet, sparking fear that tech companies’ unilateral arbitration of acceptable speech could form a slippery slope.

It also follows the removal of some 32 pages by Facebook, including an event sponsored by left wing Washington, DC, activists against a planned far-right rally commemorating the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 that was rife with neo-Nazi slogans and symbols. One of the six administrators of the DC event was accused of displaying activity consistent with alleged Kremlin trolls.

Facebook has increased its scrutiny of alternative views since the January 2017 Director of National Intelligence report on “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” spent half of its pages detailing dubious allegations against RT and Sputnik, including that the outlets seek to foment “radical discontent” on behalf of the Kremlin.

Since then, Twitter banned RT and Sputnik from advertising on its platform, and Google “de-listed” both from its Google News search page, while Facebook was “already a good American,” tweeted then-Social Media Director at RT Ivor Crotty in a jibe about Facebook’s unfavorable algorithmic treatment towards the outlet.

Facebook has been partnering with the Atlantic Council — funded by NATO, Gulf States and defense contractors — on filtering out so-called fake news from its platform. Venezuela’s regional rival Colombia, which the government blamed in part for the recent assassination attempt against Maduro, became Latin America’s first “Global Partner” with NATO in June.

It goes without saying that the think tank’s views on Russia are deeply hawkish, but its positions on the successor to Hugo Chavez are equally in lock-step with the US State Department. The Atlantic Council simultaneously claims that the democratically elected Bolivarian leader Maduro drove Venezuela “to the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in [its] history,” while also calling on the US to “ramp up economic sanctions on Venezuela as part of a strategy to change [Maduro’s] authoritarian behavior.”

UPDATE: Facebook restored the page for Venezuela Analysis roughly five hours after unpublishing it, offering no explanation.

*

Featured image is from Pixabay.

The Self-Imposed Impotence of the Russian and Chinese Governments

August 12th, 2018 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

The Russian and Chinese governments are puzzling. They hold all the cards in the sanction wars and sit there with no wits whatsoever as to how to play them.

The Russians won’t get any help from the Western media which obscures the issue by stressing that the Russian government doesn’t want to deprive its citizens of consumer goods from the West, which is precisely what Washington’s sanctions intend to do.

The Russian and Chinese governments are in Washington’s hands because Russia and China, thinking that capitalism had won, quickly adopted American neoliberal economics, which is a propaganda device that serves only American interests.
For years NASA has been unable to function without Russian rocket engines. Despite all the sanctions, insults, military provocations, the Russian government still sends NASA the engines. Why? Because the Russian economists tell the government that foreign exchange is essential to Russia’s development.

Europe is dependent on Russian energy to run its factories and to keep warm in winter. But Russia does not turn off the energy in response to Europe’s participation in Washington’s sanctions, because the Russian economists tell the government that foreign exchange is essential to Russia’s development.

As Michael Hudson and I explained on a number of occasions, this is nonsense. Russia’s development is dependent in no way on the acquisition of foreign currencies.

The Russians are also convinced that they need foreign investment, which serves only to drain profits out of their economy.

The Russians are also convinced that they should freely trade their currency, thereby subjecting the ruble to manipulation on foreign exchange markets. If Washington wants to bring a currency crisis to Russia, all the Federal Reserve, its vassal Japanese, EU, and UK central banks have to do is to short the ruble. Hedge funds and speculators join in for the profits.

Neoliberal economics is a hoax, and the Russians have fallen for it.

So have the Chinese.

Suppose that when all these accusations against Russia began—take the alleged attack on the Skirpals for example—Putin had stood up and said:

“The British government is lying through its teeth and so is every government including that of Washington that echoes this lie. Russia regards this lie as highly provocative and as a part of a propaganda campaign to prepare Western peoples for military attack on Russia. The constant stream of gratuitous lies and military exercises on our border have convinced Russia that the West intends war. The consequence will be the total destruction of the United States and its puppets.”

That would have been the end of the gratuitous provocations, military exercises, and sanctions.

Instead, we heard about “misunderstandings” with out “American partners,” which encouraged more lies and more provocations.
Or, for a more mild response, Putin could have announced:

“As Washington and its servile European puppets have sanctioned us, we are turning off the rocket engines, all energy to Europe, titanium to US aircraft companies, banning overflights of US cargo and passenger aircraft, and putting in place punitive measures against all US firms operating in Russia.”

One reason, perhaps, that Russia does not do this in addition to Russia’s mistaken belief that it needs Western money and good will is that Russia mistakenly thinks that Washington will steal their European energy market and ship natural gas to Europe. No such infrastructure exists. It would take several years to develop the infrastructure. By then Europe would have mass unemployment and would have frozen in several winters.

What about China? China hosts a large number of major US corporations, including Apple, the largest capitalized corporation in the world. China can simply nationalize without compensation, as South Africa is doing to white South African farmers without any Western protest, all global corporations operating in China. Washington would be overwhelmed with global corporations demanding removal of every sanction on China and complete subservience of Washington to the Chinese government.

Or, or in addition, China could dump all $1.2 trillion of its US Treasuries. The Federal Reserve would quickly print the money to buy the bonds so that the price did not collapse. China could then dump the dollars that the Fed printed in order to redeem the bonds. The Fed cannot print the foreign curriences with which to purchase the dollars. The dollar would plummet and not be worth a Venezuelan bolivar unless Washington could order its pupper foreign central banks in Japan, UK, and EU to print their currencies in order to purchase the dollars. This, even if complied with, would cause a great deal of stress in what is called “the Western alliance,” but what is really Washington’s Empire.

Why don’t the Russian and Chinese play their winning hands? The reason is that neither government has any advisers who are not brainwashed by neoliberalism. The brainwashing that Americans gave Russia during the Yeltsin years has been institutionalized in Russian institutions. Trapped in this box, Russia is a sitting duck for Washington.

Turkey is a perfect opportunity for Russia and China to step forward and remove Turkey from NATO. The two countries could offer Turkey membership in BRICS, trade deals, and mutual security treaties. China could easily buy up the Turkish currency off foreign exchange markets. The same could be done for Iran. Yet neither Russia nor China appear capable of decisive action. The two countries, both under attack as Turkey is from Washington, sit there sucking their thumbs. (See this)

*

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.

Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Strategic Culture Foundation.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Self-Imposed Impotence of the Russian and Chinese Governments

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Amid a tidal wave of coordinated media hysteria slandering Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites, details are emerging of the plot to remove him as Labour Party leader or to split the party to prevent him ever leading a government.

On August 7, the Daily Express reported that senior Labour MPs “have been holding secret away days at a luxury 12-acre holiday estate in Sussex to make plans to oust Jeremy Corbyn.”

The meetings have been held for months as “moderate Labour MPs” plan Corbyn’s downfall, led by a core group of 12 and a wider group numbering “more than 20.”

The Express lists former leadership candidate Liz Kendall, former shadow cabinet members Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie, Stephen Kinnock and Gavin Shuker as present, along with John Woodcock, who has quit Labour to become an independent MP.

A source cited by the newspaper said,

“At some point the Corbyn leadership is going to fail and collapse, we only need to see what is happening with the anti-Semitism problem, and we need to be ready to step in, win the leadership, rebuild the party as a credible force and repair the damage that has been done.”

Repairing “damage” means reasserting the nakedly neo-liberal and militarist agenda pursued by Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, even if this means keeping the Conservatives in office.

The Express reports,

“Among the subjects discussed have been plans to regain the leadership and form a new party … one proposal put forward was to wait for a Corbyn election victory and then to use the large group of moderate Labour MPs to prevent him from becoming prime minister.”

One of those involved states that if the Conservatives lose the next election, then “we will break away and either form a separate Labour Party within parliament or a new party.”

Another added,

“There are [Remainer] Conservative and Lib Dem MPs who are interested in joining us if we do form a new party because of Brexit.”

Listed as potential leadership challengers to Corbyn are former leadership challenger Yvette Cooper, Umunna, Leslie and Kinnock. But the Express also anticipates a “left challenge” to Corbyn by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, alongside “compromise candidates” Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer.

The Electronic Intifada website ran a piece on the same day by Asa Winstanley of the group Lobby Watch. He noted that an app “operated as part of an Israeli government propaganda campaign issued a ‘mission’ for social media users” to make comments accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism.

The Act.IL app “asks users to comment on Facebook in response to a Huffington Post UK story about Corbyn’s alleged ‘anti-Israel remarks,’” directing them to click “like” on a comment by Facebook user “Nancy Saada” before adding comments echoing her criticisms.

Winstanley adds that the Act.IL app is a product of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, which “directs Israel’s covert efforts to sabotage the Palestine solidarity movement around the world. Its top civil servant is a former army intelligence officer and the ministry is staffed by veterans of various spy agencies whose names are classified.”

Positioning himself in the destabilisation campaign is Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, who wrote in the Observer newspaper Sunday that the party faced disappearing into a “vortex of eternal shame” unless it tackled anti-Semitism in its ranks. Even Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper was forced to acknowledge that “his comments are not designed to help the Corbyn Labour Party, they are meant to destabilise it.”

Opposition to the right-wing offensive is widespread, with Twitter hashtags #WeAreCorbyn and #ResignWatson trending at No. 1 in Britain and internationally, and widespread calls for the coup plotters to be expelled. Instead, the familiar pattern emerges of Corbyn seeking to appease his opponents who then redouble their offensive.

The millionaire MP Margaret Hodge, who called Corbyn, to his face, a “fucking racist and anti-Semite,” had disciplinary action against her dropped amid claims that she had “expressed regret.” A letter from her tier-one lawyers Mishcon de Reya, posted on Twitter by Hodge, accused Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby of an “entirely disingenuous” attempt to save face, adding that “our client will not apologise for her conduct or words, as she did nothing wrong.”

Hodge, together with the equally foul-mouthed right-winger Ian Austin, are complaining of a campaign to drive out opponents of Labour’s anti-Semitism. “The new style of politics is bullying and intolerance, not gentle and inclusive,” she told the Express without blushing.

Corbyn has issued a statement to the Guardian and an accompanying video, ceding much ground to those slandering the left as anti-Semitic.

There was “a continuing problem” of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which he would “root out”—including by speeding up the processing of disciplinary cases and launching “an education and training programme throughout the party.”

He then calls “actual differences” over Labour’s refusal to accept all 11 examples attached to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism “very small.”

Corbyn’s “small” difference is over Labour’s opposition to an IHRA example stating that it is anti-Semitic to describe the foundation of the State of Israel as a “racist endeavour.” Adopting this would provide a blanket excuse to witch-hunt left-wing critics of Israel’s repressive actions against the Palestinians that were on display yet again in this week’s bombing of Gaza.

Corbyn appealed to his opponents to recognise that “This has been a difficult year in the Middle East, with the killing of many unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and Israel’s new nation-state law relegating Palestinian citizens of Israel to second-class status.” Opposing this “should not be a source of dispute,” he pleaded.

However, this is precisely the source of the present dispute.

Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine wrote correctly that the anti-Semitism definition guidelines “are designed by Israeli propagandists to aid their many mass lobby attempts to stop international solidarity with the Palestinians and to deny Palestinians the right to express the nature of Israel’s 70 years of violence and racism towards them.”

Corbyn trails behind many of his erstwhile supporters in efforts to appease the right wing, to supposedly preserve party unity and get Labour elected.

McDonnell was among those who called for the disciplinary action against Hodge to be dropped and is reportedly supportive of the full adoption of the IHRA definition and examples. He is joined by Jon Lansman, who exercises almost total control of the pro-Corbyn Momentum group, Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, and Dave Prentis of Unison.

All such claims that Labour’s divisions can be mended by the simple expedient of adopting the IHRA definition in full is so much snake oil. A regime-change operation is again underway in the Labour Party. And if this fails, then a split will be organised. The appeasement of the right wing by Corbyn et al only demobilises the working class in the face of the political conspiracies being organised against it.

In the process, Corbyn’s insistence that Labour could be transformed into a party opposing austerity and war is being tested to destruction, confirming the warning made by the Socialist Equality Party in its first statement following Corbyn’s election as party leader in September 2015:

“No one can seriously propose that this party—which, in its politics and organisation and the social composition of its apparatus, is Tory in all but name—can be transformed into an instrument of working class struggle. The British Labour Party did not begin with Blair. It is a bourgeois party of more than a century’s standing and a tried and tested instrument of British imperialism and its state machine. Whether led by Clement Attlee, James Callaghan or Jeremy Corbyn, its essence remains unaltered.”

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

A confidential report by Israeli military police investigators seen by The Intercept explains how a tragic series of mistakes by air force, naval, and intelligence officers led to an airstrike in which four Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014 were killed by missiles launched from an armed drone.

Testimony from the officers involved in the attack, which has been concealed from the public until now, confirms for the first time that the children — four cousins ages 10 and 11 — were pursued and killed by drone operators who somehow mistook them, in broad daylight, for Hamas militants.

The testimony raises new questions about whether the attack, which unfolded in front of dozens of journalists and triggered global outrage, was carried out with reckless disregard for civilian life and without proper authorization. After killing the first boy, the drone operators told investigators, they had sought clarification from their superiors as to how far along the beach, used by civilians, they could pursue the fleeing survivors. Less than a minute later, as the boys ran for their lives, the drone operators decided to launch a second missile, killing three more children, despite never getting an answer to their question.

Suhad Bishara, a lawyer representing the families of the victims, told The Intercept that Israel’s use of armed drones to kill Palestinians poses “many questions concerning human judgment, ethics, and compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Remotely piloted bombers “alter the process of human decision-making,” Bishara said, and the use of the technology in the 2014 beach attack “expands the circle of people responsible for the actual killing of the Bakr children.”

Just hours before the attack, on the morning of July 16, 2014, the public relations unit of the Israel Defense Forces had been promoting the idea that the live video feeds provided by drones enabled its air force to avoid killing Palestinian civilians.

The PR unit released operational footage, apparently taken from the screens of Israeli drone operators, which documented how three Israeli airstrikes had been called off that week because figures, identified as civilians, had appeared close to targets in the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Those images were released one week into Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, a 50-day offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza in which Israel would eventually kill 1,391 civilians, including 526 children.

Later that same day, at about 3:30 p.m., an Israeli Hermes 450 surveillance drone hovering over a beach in Gaza City transmitted images of eight figures clambering from the strand onto a jetty.

A small shipping container on the jetty had been destroyed by an Israeli missile the day before, based on intelligence indicating that it might have been used by Hamas naval commandos to store weapons. Some analysts have questioned that intelligence, however, since there were no secondary explosions after the structure was hit and journalists staying in nearby hotels reported that no militants had been seen around the jetty that week.

The Israeli military police report reviewed by The Intercept documents what happened next. After one of the figures on the jetty entered the container that had been destroyed the previous day, an Israeli air force commander at the Palmachim air base, south of Tel Aviv, ordered the operators of a second drone, which was armed, to fire a missile at the container.

As my colleagues Cora Currier and Henrik Moltke reported in 2016, although the Israeli government maintains an official stance of secrecy around its use of drones to carry out airstrikes, hacked Israeli surveillance images provided to The Intercept by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showed an Israeli drone armed with missiles in 2010.

Speaking privately to a visiting American diplomat after Israel’s 2009 offensive in Gaza, Avichai Mandelblit, who was the country’s chief military prosecutor at the time and now serves as its attorney general, acknowledged that two missiles that injured civilians in a mosque had been fired from an unmanned aerial vehicle, according to a leaked State Department cable.

One reason that Israel might decline to acknowledge that its drones have been used to kill Palestinian children is that such information could complicate sales of its drones to foreign governments. In June, the state-owned company Israel Aerospace Industries signed a $600 million deal to lease Heron drones to Germany’s defense ministry. That deal was initially delayed by concerns from German politicians that the drones, to be used for surveillance, could also be armed. The same state-owned company has also sold drones to Turkey, a strongly pro-Palestinian nation, which has nonetheless used the Israeli technology to bomb Kurds in Iraq.

The Israeli military police report on the 2014 strike seen by The Intercept offers the most direct evidence to date that Israel has used armed drones to launch attacks in Gaza. Testimony from the drone operators, commanders, and intelligence officers who took part in the attack confirms that they used an armed drone to fire the missile that slammed into the jetty, killing the person who had entered the container, and also to launch a second strike, which killed three of the survivors as they fled across the beach.

According to the testimony of one naval officer involved in the strikes, the mission was initially considered “a great success,” because the strike team believed, wrongly, that they had killed four Hamas militants preparing to launch an attack on Israeli forces.

Within minutes of the two strikes, however, a group of international journalists who had witnessed the attack from nearby hotels reported that the victims torn apart by the missiles were not adult militants but four small boys, cousins who were 10 and 11 years old. Another four boys from the same family survived the attack, but were left with shrapnel wounds and deep emotional scars.

Harrowing images of the children running desperately across the beach after the first missile had killed their cousin were quickly shared by a Palestinian photographer, an Al Jazeera reporter and a camera crew from French television.

A brutal image of the immediate aftermath captured by Tyler Hicks of the New York Times, one of the journalists who witnessed the attack, made the killing of the four boys, all of them sons of Gaza fishermen from the Bakr family, reverberate worldwide.

The French TV correspondent Liseron Boudoul, whose report that day included distressing video of the boys running along the beach before the second strike, noted that she and other witnesses to the attack were unclear where, exactly, the missiles had come from — although initial speculation centered on Israeli naval vessels seen just offshore.

The secret testimony from the Israeli military personnel involved in the attack establishes for the first time that the drone operators treated the jetty as a free-fire zone on the mistaken assumption that it was off-limits to anyone but militants.

After images of the attack prompted widespread outrage, Israel’s army conducted a review of the mission and recommended that a military police investigation into possible criminal negligence be conducted. The testimonies collected by the military police from the strike team were included in a report presented to Israel’s military advocate general, Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, 11 months after the boys were killed.

Efroni did not release the testimonies, but did make a summary of the report’s findings public on June 11, 2015, when he closed the investigationwithout filing any charges. Israel’s chief military prosecutor decided that no further criminal or disciplinary measures would be taken, since the investigators had concluded that “it would not have been possible for the operational entities involved to have identified these figures, via aerial surveillance, as children.”

Efroni did not explain why that was impossible. Two days before the strike in question, Israel’s military PR unit had released another video clip in which drone operators could be heard deciding to halt strikes because they had identified figures in their live feeds as children.

Adalah, also known as the Haifa-based Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has spent the past three years fighting on behalf of the families of the boys — Ismail Bakr, 10; Ahed Bakr, 10; Zakaria Bakr, 10; and Mohammed Bakr, 11 — to have the decision not to prosecute the soldiers overturned by an Israeli court.

Much of that time has been spent waiting for Israel’s attorney general, Mandelblit, to simply reply to appeals filed by Adalah and two Gazan rights groups, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

In February, Adalah said in a statement that Israel’s own investigation “revealed that the Israeli military did not take any measures to ascertain whether the targets on the ground were civilians, let alone children, prior to intentionally directing the attacks against them.”

Bishara, one of the Adalah lawyers representing the boys’ families, told The Intercept in a telephone interview that the Israeli investigation of the killings, in which the military cleared itself of wrongdoing, was flawed in several ways. To start with, the testimonies were only collected by the military police four months after the incident, and only considered what could be seen of the beach through the drone cameras. No testimony was taken from the international journalists who witnessed the attack, and the accounts of Palestinian witnesses, including written affidavits from boys injured in the strikes, were discounted.

A Wall Street Journal video report filed on the day of the attack by Nick Casey, a correspondent staying in a hotel close to the jetty, cast doubt on the Israeli intelligence that designated the site a Hamas compound. Casey’s report, which featured images of the first young victim’s mangled body being taken from the jetty, explained that “no one knew why this place had been bombarded; there have been no Hamas attacks from here and no rockets that we’ve seen.”

When the Israeli authorities closed the case in 2015, Alexander Marquardt, a former ABC Jerusalem correspondent who had also witnessed the attack, disputed the finding that the jetty was sealed off from the beach, arguing that it was open to civilians.

According to the testimony seen by The Intercept, one of the officers involved in the missile strikes told investigators that when he saw one of the figures entering the destroyed container, he had checked with an intelligence officer to be sure that only militants could enter the compound before opening fire.

However, the chief intelligence naval officer, a woman identified only as “Colonel N.” in the report, testified that since the entrance to the area was unguarded on the day of the attack, it was not closed to civilians.

Although the copy of the report reviewed by The Intercept includes redactions, there is no indication as to why this apparent discrepancy between the two testimonies was ignored when the decision to close the investigation was made.

One of the officers also testified that although the site was surrounded by a fence when the intelligence estimate was made before Operation Protective Edge began, the fence could have been destroyed in the previous day’s attack, leaving the jetty open to the public.

One soldier told investigators that according to “dozens” of statements from Gaza fishermen, the local population was aware that the jetty was a Hamas compound. The source of this claim is unknown, however, and a lawyer who has worked on the Adalah appeal told The Intercept that there was no evidence to support it in the parts of the report the army was obliged to share with the victims’ families.

Everyone involved in the strike, including the air force officer who coordinated the attack from Palmachim air base, told investigators that even though they had a live video feed of the area during the attack, “we couldn’t tell they were children.”

The testimonies also reveal a crucial moment when the attack could have been halted, but was not. After the first missile was fired at the shack, killing one of the boys, and the other children ran out to the beach, the attack team requested clarification about how far onto the beach they were permitted to fire.

The attack team radioed a superior officer, asking where, exactly, the area designated a closed military zone ended. They wanted to know if there was a point at which they could no longer shoot at the fleeing figures, as they approached an area of beach umbrellas and tents used by civilians.

When they received no response to that query, the attack team fired a second missile at the fleeing children, about 30 seconds after the first strike, which killed three of the boys and wounded at least one more of their cousins.

One naval officer, who took part in the life-and-death decisions, testified that to the best of his recollection, they had launched the second missile while the fleeing figures were still inside what they took to be a closed military compound, but the missile had landed after the fleeing figures were already outside it, on the beach.

The air force officer who coordinated the strikes told investigators that he had previously been in charge of “hundreds of attacks,” but this incident remained “engraved” in his memory because the intelligence that the strike team was given was a 180-degree difference from the facts on the ground.

Adalah, which filed an updated appeal in the case in May and is still waiting for a response, also noted that the Israeli authorities have refused to let lawyers for the families see any of the video from the two drones recorded during the attack.

Without seeing that video, it is impossible to say whether or not the drone operators should have been able to tell that their targets were children, but Eyal Weizman, an Israeli architect who has investigated drone strikes, has argued in the past that the optical resolution of drone cameras might not be nearly as high as military commanders claim.

After previously analyzing drone surveillance video of suspected Islamic State militants in Iraq, Weizman said it was only possible to tell that the figures were carrying weapons, and that one of them was a child, by studying their shadows. That identification was only possible, he said, because the video was “taken either very early or very late in the day.”

Since there would be no long shadow in aerial images recorded earlier in the afternoon — like those of the boys playing on the beach in Gaza that July day at around 3:30 p.m. — Weizman observed that high-resolution images selectively released by military commanders to justify airstrikes “could skew our understanding of how much can be seen by drones and how clear what we see is.” Most of the footage “that is continuously harvested by drones,” Weizman said, is “far more ambiguous.”

Hagai El-Ad, the director of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told The Intercept that Israel’s use of armed drones was something of an open secret, but since the technology did not yet cut humans out of the decision-making process, the military commanders who ordered the strikes, and the drone pilots who executed them, were no less responsible for killing the boys than if they had been flying over the beach in a jet or a helicopter at the time.

El-Ad also pointed to a 2016 report his group produced on the failure of Israel’s military to conduct thorough investigations of the killing of civilians in Gaza: “Whitewash Protocol: The So-Called Investigation of Operation Protective Edge.”

“The various specific delays, gaps, failures in the so-called investigation are all part of that broad systematic way to eventually close the files, while producing all this paper trail which may look from the outside as a sincere effort,” El-Ad said. “It’s all totally routine.”

A spokesperson for Israel’s military did not respond to requests for comment.

Updated: Saturday, August 11, 4:17 p.m. This report was updated to add a reference to a 2016 human rights report that criticized the Israeli military’s internal investigations of possible war crimes committed by its soldiers in Gaza in 2014.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Secret Israeli Report Reveals Armed Drone Killed Four Boys Playing on Gaza Beach in 2014
  • Tags: ,

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Monsanto puts profits over human health. The company has been selling carcinogenic glyphosate to farmers since 1974 – under the trade name Roundup, used to kill weeds without killing crops.

It’s the most commonly used herbicide in America – current sales 100-fold greater than when first introduced.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” – based on epidemiological, animal, and in vitro studies.

In February 2016, international scientists published a consensus statement – explaining the risks associated with human exposure to glyphosate.

Endocrine disruption in test tube and animal experiments studies occurred.

Glyphosate residues are found in popular Western foods and drinks. Tests show most Americans have it in their urine. Any amount is unsafe.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, glyphosate exposure is linked to cancer in humans. Yet no regulatory action in America or Europe has been taken to ban its use.

Monsanto lost a landmark lawsuit, claiming a glyphosate link to cancer. A California jury ordered the company to pay plaintiff DeWayne Johnson $39 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages.

Employed as a groundskeeper, he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using glyphosate in his work.

Jurors said Monsanto failed to warn users of the hazards of glyphosate exposure, along with accusing the company of “act(ing) with malice or oppression,” “negligent failure,” and selling a product it knew was “dangerous.”

Johnson’s lawyer Brent Wisner said

“(w)e were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that…Roundup could cause cancer,” adding:

The verdict sent a message to the company that “years of deception regarding Roundup are over, and that (its management) should put consumer safety first over profits.”

The verdict bolsters the case for thousands of similar pending lawsuits a federal judge ruled can proceed.

Clear evidence proved longstanding Monsanto claims about alleged Roundup safety were bald-faced lies.

The herbicide is used in around two-thirds of world countries on over 100 crops – poisoning them, making them hazardous to consume.

Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge turned truth on its head, claiming jurors “got it wrong.” The company will appeal the verdict. The case and thousands of others to follow could drag out in the courts for years.

In December 2017, the Trump regime’s enemy of the earth EPA falsely claimed glyphosate poses no “meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label” – a bald-faced lie.

In 1991, the EPA reversed its 1985 ruling, calling glyphosate a “possible human carcinogen.”

In September 2016, Monsanto agreed to a Bayer buyout. The German company was connected to IG Farben, liquidated in 1952, notorious for producing Zyklon B, used to murder countless victims in Nazi death camps.

The merger with Monsanto was consummated in June, a statement saying:

“Bayer will remain the company name. Monsanto will no longer be a company name. The acquired products will retain their brand names and become part of the Bayer portfolio.”

The Monsanto name was too hated to retain –  the company notorious for producing agent orange, PCBs, DDT, bovine growth hormone, GMO seeds, glyphosate, and other toxic products hazardous to human health and the environment.

*

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Estonia’s defense minister has halted a NATO war exercise in Estonia pending an investigation after a fighter jet deployed in northeast Europe accidentally fired a secret missile during training. Authorities are now searching for the rocket, which was shot over the Baltic country’s airspace by a Spanish fighter jet this week near the Russian border.

Minister of Defense Juri Luik said Thursday during a press conference in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the air-to-air missile was mistakenly launched Tuesday over southern Estonia has not been found nor did it injure any civilians.

“The Spanish defense minister has apologized and expressed deep regret,” Luik said, adding that the commander of the Spanish Armed Forces has apologized for the mishap.

According to Fox News, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas communicated with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, expressing Estonia’s concern over the “serious incident.”

The Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) capable of all-weather day-and-night operations with a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles). Luik told reporters the AMRAAM might have crashed into a remote nature reserve in the eastern Jogeva region — not far from Estonia’s border with Russia.

“The air-to-air missile has not hit any aircraft,” the Spanish Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. It added that three other fighter jets flew alongside the Spanish Eurofighter before the missile was launched. “After the incident, the planes returned safely to the Siauliai Air Base.”

On Friday, the Spanish Defense Ministry told Sputnik News that it would not change its pilots serving in Lithuania over the recent incident.

“The composition of a Spanish squad deployed in Lithuania, jets and crews will not be changed until the end of their mission,” the spokesperson said.

The ministry said NATO, not Spain authorized the flight plan of their planes. The spokesperson noted that an investigation would have to occur before he could give more details about the incident.

“An investigation into the causes of this incident has been launched. The probe is underway and there are no preliminary results [of the investigation],” the ministry added.

Luik urged Spain to conduct a careful investigation of the incident. He also launched a separate internal probe to review the safety regulations of arranging military air exercises in the country.

Until the investigation is complete, Luik said:

“I have suspended all NATO exercises in the Estonian airspace.”

And now it seems Russia’s top brass has complained to TASS News Agency about the incident.

An official in the alliance’s military structure told TASS on condition of anonymity on Wednesday:

“At the present moment, we cannot confirm the existence of any contacts between the NATO Operations Command and the Russian military on this incident. However, after saying this, I will add that many civilian and military organizations play their role in ensuring international air security. We cannot say anything more on this incident as long as the investigation is going on.”

Well, at least social media has turned this NATO embarrassment into a laugh…

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Since taking office a year and a half ago, the allegations of ‘collusion’ between U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign and the Russian government have buried nearly all other substantive issues in regards to his administration. This hasn’t been limited to marginalizing reportage of destructive domestic legislation or the escalation of endless war abroad. It has successfully diverted attention away from other foreign governments shaping U.S. policy and elections. The media has even downplayed Trump’s sycophantic behavior towards other heads of state in favor of their pathological obsession with his perceived obsequiousness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is largely because “Russiagate” is not based on facts or evidence, but a psychological operation conducted by the intelligence community through mass media disseminating suggestive and pre-selected disinformation about Trump and Russia. Not only has it enabled the national security state and political establishment to neutralize the anti-Trump “resistance”, it has become a smokescreen for the ‘collusion’ between Trump and the state of Israel which continues to guide his decision making.

One month after his shocking victory and before his inauguration, one of the top members of Trump’s transition team, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, directly contacted members of the UN Security Council and urged them to block a draft resolution that condemned illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. General Flynn corresponded with diplomats from several foreign governments (including Russia) to learn their stance on the resolution and tried to persuade them to vote against it. Flynn would later plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his discussions with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. The Israeli government candidly admitted to seeking help from Trump’s transition team and it was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who put Flynn up to the task. However, it is not unusual for foreign officials to communicate with an incoming administration and Flynn lobbied envoys from other nations in addition to Russia.

None of this prevented the media from neglecting the substance of Flynn’s guilty plea to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which is that he likely gave the FBI incomplete information about his communication with Kislyak only because the Trump campaign was already under inquiry for ties to the Kremlin. In a mindless frenzy, the media have presumed this correspondence between Flynn and a Russian official was evidence of a diabolical plot between Trump and the Kremlin that occurred during the election. The fact that the transition team did collude with Israel or the actual content of his talks with the Russian Ambassador was reduced to a footnote. It is not that the double-dealing between Israel and Trump has been unreported, but rather it is normalized and deemed completely acceptable because relations with Israel are unquestionable.

If there is a foreign country which routinely interferes i n U.S. elections , it is the state of Israel through its immeasurably powerful lobbying groups. Its most influential organization is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is not forced to register as a foreign agent as its tentacles permeate into all aspects of the democratic process. AIPAC closely monitors American elections at every level, blackmailing the support of the entire U.S. congress to deliberately ignore Israel’s reckless violation of international law, its ever-expanding illegal occupation of Palestine, and war crimes in Gaza and Lebanon. For the same reason, the media continues to whitewash the IDF’s ongoing massacres on the Gaza strip, while the mantra of “Putin kills journalists!” is chanted as Israeli snipers murder Palestinian journalists on camera wearing “PRESS” across their chests. In turn, the Zionist lobby manipulates the bias of major news outlets and infiltrates the rosters of the Washington elite think tank community. Israel disrupts U.S. elections and impacts the media far and away more than any other country, but even mentioning this fact can relegate a journalist to marginal publications or risk being publicly smeared as an anti-Semite.

Recently, it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr. and Blackwater founder Erik Prince had met with an Israeli private intelligence firm called PSY-Group offering social media manipulation services in August 2016. Most of the mainstream media coverage minimized the significance that the firm is an Israel-based company, whose ominous motto is to “Shape Reality.” Instead, coverage of the Mueller probe has focused exclusively on the Russian-based Internet Research Agency indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” The premise that an internet marketing and clickbait scam company owned by a ex-hot dog salesman could have swayed the election of the most powerful country in human history simply by sharing memes and buying Facebook ads through phony social media accounts is beyond comprehension.

While blame for election interference has been squarely placed on Russia, Israel has managed to escape free from any scrutiny despite the disclosures about PSY-Group. Meanwhile the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, founded by Breitbart CEO/White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon and pro-Trump billionaire Robert Mercer, became the center of controversy when it was exposed for illegally mining the data of millions of Facebook users as it worked for the Trump and Brexit campaigns. Yet according to a whistleblower, the firm had also employed the Israeli private security firm Black Cube to hack an election in Nigeria. Black Cube is the same agency formed by ex-Mossad agents implicated in the Harvey Weinstein scandal that sparked the #MeToo movement. Why has this revelation aroused little to no interest from the Mueller team or the media?

If an analysis were based on Trump’s actual policies, there would be no clearer front-runner for impact on his governance than Israel. It goes beyond his plans for a border wall being modeled after the West Bank and Egypt-Sinai barrier fences. As President, he has surpassed each of his predecessors in out-and-out support for the Jewish state and hostility towards the Palestinians. The controversial decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, approved by 90 out of 100 Senators, has irreparably damaged any remaining belief that the U.S. was ever a neutral peace broker in seventy years of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The move to recognize Jerusalem as the ‘undivided’ capital of Israel has been his most bipartisan measure — coastal elite liberals and the Bible Belt may like to appear worlds apart, but on fanatical support for Israel they too are ‘undivided.’ The Israel lobby has long held sway over both major parties and it was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who led the applause of Trump’s Jerusalem decision, the same fanatical Zionist who has sought to make boycotting of Israel a felony crime.

Israel has also determined much of Trump’s other foreign policy moves, especially those towards its sworn enemy — the Islamic Republic of Iran. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adamantly opposed the nuclear deal framework even though spy cables revealed that his own intelligence agency contradicts his claims about their nuclear capabilities. The motive for Iran to agree to the nuclear deal was primarily to alleviate the damage done from decades of economic sanctions by the U.S. The crisis itself is engineered — in actuality Iran long ago ended its nuclear program but it’s wounded economy forced it into accepting the terms of the now abandoned Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As if this weren’t enough, a recently leaked clip of Benjamin Netanyahu bragging about convincing Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal was made public but was buried in the headlines during the Helsinki summit with Putin. This collusion didn’t bother Democrats one bit as both parties just unanimously approved a $38-billion aid package to Israel for the next ten years.

It was Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State delisted the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (People’s Mujahideen of Iran) from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations in 2012. The militant organization (abbreviated MEK, MKO or PMOI) is a cult-like group in exile which advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian government and was officially designated a terror group for 15 years by the U.S. It was removed by the Obama administration after aggressive lobbying by its political wing based in France, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Two of Trump’s top associates — war hawk National Security Advisor John Bolton and his lawyer representing him in the Mueller probe, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — have repeatedly met with the MEK in recent years giving highly paid speeches at their events advocating regime change in Iran.

Founded in 1965, the MEK committed terrorist attacks throughout the Shah’s reign which killed thousands of Iranians and also included several plots that took the lives of U.S. personnel. The group today claims the attacks which killed Americans were committed by a breakaway Marxist faction of the group during a period when the Shah imprisoned its founder, Massoud Rajavi, but the evidence of it’s violent past (and present) is overwhelming. This is yet another instance of the U.S. re-branding terrorism when it suits its interests while simultaneously conducting a vaguely defined war against it. The decision to remove the group from the blacklist was a politicized move as the criminal activity of the MEK has never ceased. Another motive has been the group’s close ties with Israel, whose intelligence agency Mossad has trained MEK operatives in committing assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists.

In 1979, the MEK participated in the Islamic Revolution which overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah. Persian royalty had been in power for more than 2,000 years, but the Pahlavi monarchy had been re-installed as a U.S. puppet following a CIA/MI6 coup d’etat in 1953 green-lighted by Winston Churchill and the Eisenhower administration. The illegal putsch ousted the first ever democratically-elected President of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, who had nationalized the Iranian oil industry and thrown out foreign oil companies like the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later known as British Petroleum (BP), recently known for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Shah ruled brutally over Iran serving Western oil interests until the Islamic Revolution which was a huge loss for U.S. hegemony that it has sought to regain ever since. After the popular uprising, Ayatollah Khomeini consolidated power and pushed out the leftist participants, liberal elements and rival Islamists like the MEK. The group was then outlawed and went into exile after a failed insurrection.

MEK demonstation during the Revolution when it was aligned with Khomeini

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein (then supported by the U.S.) allowed the MEK to operate in Iraq, providing weapons and funding to carry out terrorist attacks against Tehran. When the U.S. invaded Baghdad in 2003, the remaining MEK and its nearly 3,000 Iranian exiles were given protection status by the Bush administration in U.S. military facilities. Massoud Rajavi disappeared during the U.S. invasion and to this day his whereabouts are still unknown. His wife, Maryam Rajavi, has led the group since and continued the cult of personality that existed around her husband’s leadership, purging critics and assassinating defectors while rebranding the terror cult as a ‘pro-democracy’ organization. The new Iraqi government began to develop close relations with Iran during the period which saw the rise of ISIS and the MEK were suddenly no longer welcome. Iraqi security forces raided their base in Camp Ashraf killing dozens of MEK members, a sign of waning U.S. influence in post-Saddam Iraq. The Rajavi cult have since been evicted and relocated to Albania and NATO-occupied Kosovo where the group has strong Islamist supporters. In Albania’s capitol Tirana, the exiled opposition group is currently based in a compound known as ‘Ashraf 3’.

Photograph of the secret MEK facility in Albania

The group is also known by the CIA to have aligned itself with ISIS against the Iranian-backed government in Iraq that expelled them. ISIS and MEK even likely coordinated terrorist attacks in June 2017 in Iran just as the Trump administration increased the economic sanctions. In addition to Ashraf 3, the MEK is allegedly being trained at the NATO military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, possibly for a regime change operation in Iran. Concurrently, Trump is reported to be preparing to strike Tehran as early as this month according to the Australian Geo-Spatial Intelligence Organization, just as he tweeted threats at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The decision to use Kosovo as a base of operations for the MEK is consistent with the protectorate’s history — it was established after seceding from Serbia when the Clinton administration supported another de-listed Islamist terror group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), in NATO’s bombing campaign against Belgrade in 1999.

Trump rhetorically has been a harsh critic of NATO and the media has used this as further ‘evidence’ of his secret allegiance to the Kremlin, but an examination of his actual courses of action show the contrary. NATO has already expanded to include Montenegro in it’s membership and Trump is sending arms to Ukraine in its war against pro-Russian separatists. The National Security Council added an additional $200 million worth in support immediately following the Helsinki summit in a move the Obama administration had opted against. Even a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a NATO-funded think tank, assessed that Trump has taken a very hard-line stance on Russia despite the photo opportunity with Putin. After all, the summit did not result in the lifting of sanctions or the recognition of Crimea as Russian territory as some predicted. Apart from his rhetoric, what policies has Trump enacted that appease Russian interests?

If his statements and policies diverge, what remains a mystery is the intention behind his dialogue with Russia. Many speculate it is an effort to realign Washington with Moscow to halt the ascent of China while driving a wedge between Iran and Russia. While Putin may have rebuilt the Russian economy, the claim that Moscow has become a rival ‘superpower’ is greatly exaggerated — Washington’s main geopolitical challenger is China. Obama’s “pivot to Asia” turned out to be a catastrophic failure, as did the attempt to oust Assad in Syria and desperation move to covertly back the failed Gülenist coup in Turkey. Regardless of whether Trump’s motive is to reset U.S. foreign policy or the unlikely possibility Putin would ever agree to an alliance against China, the imaginary Russian collusion narrative is subterfuge which benefits Israel. It is either inadvertently or purposefully concealing the principal guilty party in meddling in the U.S. election — Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel.

The 2016 election was a contest over how best to arrange the deck chairs of the Titanic — either way the empire has overplayed its hand and the ship was going down no matter the outcome. We are told that American voters, specifically the “white working class”, were too stupid to think for themselves. They did not follow orders from the “polls” predicting a 90% chance of a Clinton victory, which really were belittling instructions as to how to vote. We are led to believe they chose to elect a populist demagogue instead of Wall Street’s darling because they were brainwashed by ‘Russian interference’, not the collusion on the part of the DNC to rig the primaries in Clinton’s favor. Apparently, this same logic does not apply when Israel interrupts US elections — their interference doesn’t rob Americans of their agency in the voting process.

Israel is also directly supporting the ascendancy of the far right in the West that the same liberals have raised the alarm about while pointing the finger at Moscow. In the EU, Israel has close ties with Hungary’s anti-Semitic President Viktor Orban and the other nations of the Visegrád 4 Group in the grip of anti-immigrant hostility. It is even providing military aid to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine fighting pro-Russian separatists. The links between the U.S. far right and Zionist organizations is also no secret, with Steve Bannon having spoken at ZOA galas despite being an alleged anti-Semite. Israel controversially just passed the “Jewish nation-state” law that mirrors Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Race laws, inscribing ethno-nationalism and the complete exclusion of Arabs into its very definition as a state. At the same time, the definition of anti-Semitism has been conflated into being synonymous with criticism of Israel, which is the exact sentiment that is causing the media to disregard Trump’s collusion with Netanyahu in favor of Russiagate. It is also the same schizophrenic logic that enables Israel to align itself with the far right.

If history is any indicator, when an empire is in decline it will seek out scapegoats to place blame for its downfall. It is no coincidence that while the far right expresses hostility towards immigration and the demise of the nation state by globalism, the political establishment is inculpating the rising power of Russia for the end of America’s full spectrum dominance. When all is said and done, the Democratic Party will only have itself to blame for its utterly failed strategy of atomizing the working class on cultural issues while neglecting to address the collapsing global economy. We can only hope that its defeat will open new political space for those who wish to confront it.

*

Max Parry is an independent journalist and geopolitical analyst. His work has appeared in publications such as The Greanville Post, OffGuardian, CounterPunch and more. Read him onMedium. Max may be reached at [email protected]


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

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

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

Click here to order.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Back in February, we warned about the prospect of Israel selling F-16s to Croatia, a state in which WWII revisionism and Holocaust denial are running rampant, and memories of the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia are routinely glorified. In the meantime, that has become a done deal. But there is more. Not only will Israel sell half a billion dollars worth of fighter jets to Croatia, but on August 5, three Israeli F-16s, crewed by Israeli pilots, took part in a parade to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the “Operation Storm,” in which more than 2,300 Serbs were killed, including more than 1,200 civilians, among which more than 500 women and 12 children, and which forced the exodus of a quarter million Serbs from their ancestral homes in this former Yugoslav republic, reducing their numbers from the pre-war 600,000 to fewer than 190,000 today.

As the Serb civilians retreated, Croatian fighter planes bombed and strafed the refugee columns, killing many, even those that had already crossed into neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H). Some of the refugees were met by Croatian mobs hurling rocks and concrete at them. Compiling accounts from various, mostly Western news reports, Gregory Elich put together a harrowing account of the Croatian military operation, with full US and NATO support:

“A UN spokesman said, ‘The windows of almost every vehicle were smashed and almost every person was bleeding from being hit by some object.’ Serbian refugees were pulled from their vehicles and beaten. As fleeing Serbian civilians poured into Bosnia, a Red Cross representative in Banja Luka (B-H) said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it. People are arriving at a terrifying rate.’ Bosnian Muslim troops crossed the border and cut off Serbian escape routes. Trapped refugees were massacred as they were pounded by Croatian and Muslim artillery… The Croatian rampage through the region left a trail of devastation. Croatian special police units, operating under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, systematically looted abandoned Serbian villages. Everything of value – cars, stereos, televisions, furniture, farm animals – was plundered, and homes set afire. A confidential European Union report stated that 73 percent of Serbian homes were destroyed. Troops of the Croatian army also took part, and pro-Nazi graffiti could be seen on the walls of several burnt-out Serb buildings.

Massacres continued for several weeks after the fall of Krajina, and UN patrols discovered numerous fresh unmarked graves and bodies of murdered civilians. The European Union report states, ‘Evidence of atrocities, an average of six corpses per day, continues to emerge. The corpses, some fresh, some decomposed, are mainly of old men. Many have been shot in the back of the head or had throats slit, others have been mutilated… Serb lands continue to be torched and looted.’

Following a visit in the region a member of the Zagreb Helsinki Committee reported, ‘Virtually all Serb villages had been destroyed…. In a village near Knin, eleven bodies were found, some of them were massacred in such a way that it was not easy to see whether the body was male or female.’”

Croatia’s then president, notorious WWII revisionist Franjo Tudjman, triumphantly celebrated the expulsion of the Serbs and the fact that they “disappeared… as if they have never lived here…

But this did not much faze Israeli officials playing their own version of the Art of the Deal. On August 5, 2018, as the Croatian daily Vecernji list gleefully announced,

“Operation Storm has at last been given the stamp of approval of its allies – the USA. and Israel,” adding that the overflight by Israeli F-16s carrying the Star of David represented a “symbolic act of international recognition of the ethical soundness of military operation Storm,” which Croatia had been seeking “since August 1995.”

Obviously, half a billion dollars buys quite a lot these days, Star of David and all, even for Holocaust deniers.

In a statement to the Times of Israel, Serbia’s ambassador in Tel Aviv said that his country was “deeply disappointed about the participation of Israeli pilots and fighter jets,” stressing that Operation Storm was a “pogrom” and “the biggest exodus of a nation since the Second World War,” and that Israel’s participation in Croatia’s victory celebration “is not a friendly gesture toward Serbia.”

On the other hand, according to the same report, Brigadier General (Ret.) Mishel Ben Baruch, head of the Israeli defense ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate, said that it was “an honor to be able to participate” in the 23rd anniversary of Operation Storm. In addition, the Israeli embassy in Belgrade defended the participation of its warplanes in the celebration, stating that it was “entirely connected with the announced purchase” of the planes, that it carried “no political elements or any connection to the historic relations between Serbia and Croatia,” and that the “solid friendship” between Israel and Serbia “will never be jeopardized in any way.”

Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dachich was, however, not impressed, referring to the participation of Israeli jets as “immoral to their own people, the Jewish people, because so many Jews had perished in the Jasenovac [death camp], and the Croatian regime relativizes the Jewish victims,” adding that he “could not understand” the presence of the Israeli flag at the celebration, and that it would be a “mark” that the Israeli state would henceforth carry.

The Belgrade Jewish Community issued its own statement, saying that the celebration of Operation Storm was “neither the time, the place, nor the destination for Jewish pilots,” that “Jews remember their horrible suffering from World War II, when, just like the Serbs, we were victims of a terrible pogrom,” and that “absolutely no concession should be given, not even a thousandth of a millimeter, to the rehabilitation of either that or, unfortunately, the present-day glorification of the ‘success’ of Croatian soldiers.”

Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, tweeted the following just before the event:

“Very upset that Israeli AirForce jets will be flying in event to mark “Operation Storm” during which Croatia expelled 250,000 Serbs from their homes in Croatia. Until today no foreign country has ever participated!!”

Ironically, just days before the Israeli pilots joined in the celebration of Croatia’s “final solution” to its Serbian problem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin paid an official visit to Croatia and, during a visit to the notorious Nazi-era death camp, Jasenovac, often referred to as “Croatia’s Auschwitz,” urged Croatia to “deal with its past… and not to ignore it,” (not so) subtly referring to, as Zuroff put it in a recent Jerusalem Post column, Croatia’s “failure to sincerely and honestly confront” the crimes of its Nazi-collaborating Ustasha movement and regime, which “has plagued Croatia since it obtained independence” in 1995.

Strangely, instead of continuing to hold Croatia to account, the Israeli government and armed forces have chosen to legitimize that country’s glorification of slaughter and ethnic cleansing, built on a foundation of Holocaust relativization and WWII revisionism. While helping fortify modern Croatia’s foundations, Israel’s leaders have just managed to shake their own.

*

Aleksandar Pavic is an independent analyst and researcher.

Featured image is from the author.

Why Trump Cancelled the Iran Deal

August 12th, 2018 by Eric Zuesse

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

The following is entirely from open online sources that I have been finding to be trustworthy on these matters in the past. These sources will be linked-to here; none of this information is secret, even though some details in my resulting analysis of it will be entirely new.

It explains how and why the bottom-line difference between Donald Trump and Barack Obama, regarding US national security policies, turns out to be their different respective estimations of the biggest danger threatening the maintenance of the US dollar as the world’s leading or reserve currency. This has been the overriding foreign-policy concern for both Presidents.

Obama placed as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of the EU (America’s largest market both for exports and for imports) from alliance with the United States. He was internationally a Europhile. Trump, however, places as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of Saudi Arabia and of the other Gulf Arab oil monarchies from the U.S. Trump is internationally a Sunni-phile: specifically a protector of fundamentalist Sunni monarchs — but especially of the Sauds themselves — and they hate Shia and especially the main Shia nation, Iran.

Here’s how that change, to Saudi Arabia as being America’s main ally, has happened — actually it’s a culmination of decades. Trump is merely the latest part of that process of change. Here is from the US State Department’s official historian, regarding this history:

By the 1960s, a surplus of US dollars caused by foreign aid, military spending, and foreign investment threatened this system [the FDR-established 1944 Bretton Woods gold-based US dollar as the world’s reserve currency], as the United States did not have enough gold to cover the volume of dollars in worldwide circulation at the rate of $35 per ounce; as a result, the dollar was overvalued. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson adopted a series of measures to support the dollar and sustain Bretton Woods: foreign investment disincentives; restrictions on foreign lending; efforts to stem the official outflow of dollars; international monetary reform; and cooperation with other countries. Nothing worked. Meanwhile, traders in foreign exchange markets, believing that the dollar’s overvaluation would one day compel the US government to devalue it, proved increasingly inclined to sell dollars. This resulted in periodic runs on the dollar.

It was just such a run on the dollar, along with mounting evidence that the overvalued dollar was undermining the nation’s foreign trading position, which prompted President Richard M. Nixon to act, on August 13, 1971 [to end the convertibility of dollars to gold].

When Nixon ended the gold-basis of the dollar and then in 1974 secretly switched to the current oil-basis, this transformation of the dollar’s backing, from gold to oil, was intended to enable the debt-financing (as opposed to the tax-financing, which is less acceptable to voters) of whatever military expenditure would be necessary in order to satisfy the profit-needs of Lockheed Corporation and of the other US manufacturers whose only markets are the US Government and its allied governments, as well as of US extractive industries such as oil and mining firms, which rely heavily upon access to foreign natural resources, as well as of Wall Street and its need for selling debt and keeping interest-rates down (and stock-prices — and therefore aristocrats’ wealth — high and rtising). This 1974 secret agreement between Nixon and King Saud lasts to the present day, and has worked well for both aristocracies. It met the needs of the very same “military-industrial complex” (the big US Government contractors) that the prior Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, had warned might take control of US foreign policies. As Bloomberg’s Andrea Wong on 30 May 2016 explained the Nixon system that replaced the FDR system, “The basic framework was strikingly simple. The US would buy oil from Saudi Arabia and provide the kingdom military aid and equipment. In return, the Saudis would plow billions of their petrodollar revenue back into Treasuries and finance America’s spending.”

This new system didn’t only supply a constant flow of Saudi tax-money to the US Government; it supplied a constant flow of new sales-orders and profits to the military firms that were increasingly coming to control the US Government — for the benefit of both aristocracies: the Sauds, and America’s billionaires.

That was near the end of the FDR-produced 37-year period of US democratic leadership of the world, the era that had started at Bretton Woods in 1944. It came crashing to an end not in 1974 (which was step two after the 1971 step one had ended the 1944 system) but on the day when Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981. The shockingly sudden ascent, from that moment on, of US federal Government debt (to be paid-off by future generations instead of by current taxpayers) is shown, right here, in a graph of “US Federal Debt as Percent of GDP, 1940-2015”, where you can see that the debt had peaked above 90% of GDP late in WW II between 1944-1948, and then plunged during Bretton Woods, but in 1981 it started ascending yet again, until reaching that WW II peak for a second time, as it has been ever since 2010, when Obama bailed-out the mega-banks and their mega-clients, but didn’t bail out the American public, whose finances had been destroyed by those banksters’ frauds, which Obama refused to prosecute; and, so, economic inequality in America got even more extreme after the 2008 George W. Bush crash, instead of less extreme afterward (as had always happened in the past).

Above 90% debt/GDP during and immediately following WW II was sound policy, but America’s going again above 90% since 2010 has reflected simply an aristocratic heist of America, for only the aristocracy’s benefit — all of the benefits going only to the super-rich.

Another, and more-current US graph shows that, as of the first quarter of 2018, this percentage (debt/GDP) is, yet again, back now to its previous all-time record high of 105-120%%, which had been reached only in 1945-1947 (when it was justified by the war).

Currently, companies such as Lockheed Martin are thriving as they had done during WW II, but the sheer corruption in America’s military spending is this time the reason, no World War (yet); so, this time, America is spending like in an all-out-war situation, even before the Congress has issued any declaration of war at all. Everybody except the American public knows that the intense corruptness of the US military is the reason for this restoration of astronomical ‘defense’ spending, even during peace-time. A major poll even showed that ‘defense’ spending was the only spending by the federal Government which Americans in 2017 wanted increased; they wanted all other federal spending to be reduced (though there was actually vastly more corruption in military spending than in any other type — the public have simply been hoodwinked).

But can the US Government’s extreme misallocation of wealth, from the public to the insiders, continue without turning this country into a much bigger version of today’s Greece? More and more people around the world are worrying about that. Of course, Greece didn’t have the world’s reserve currency, but what would happen to the net worths of America’s billionaires if billionaires worldwide were to lose faith in the dollar? Consequently, there’s intensified Presidential worrying about how much longer foreign investors will continue to trust the oil-based dollar.

America’s political class now have two competing ideas to deal with this danger, Obama’s versus Trump’s, both being about how to preserve the dollar in a way that best serves the needs of ‘defense’ contractors, extractive firms, and Wall Street. Obama chose Europe (America’s largest market) as America’s chief ally (he was Euro-centric against Russia); Trump chose the owner of Saudi Arabia (he’s Saudi-Israeli centric against Iran) — that’s the world’s largest weapons-purchaser, as well as the world’s largest producer of oil (as well as the largest lobbies).

The Saudi King owns Saudi Arabia, including the world’s largest and most valuable oil company, Aramco, whose oil is the “sweetest” — the least expensive to extract and refine — and is also the most abundant, in all of the world, and so he can sell petroleum at a profit even when his competitors cannot. Oil-prices that are so low as to cause economic losses for other oil companies, can still be generating profits — albeit lowered ones — for King Saud; and this is the reason why his decisions determine how much the global oil-spigot will be turned on, and how low the global oil-price will be, at any given time. He controls the value of the US dollar. He controls it far more directly, and far more effectively, than the EU can. It would be like, under the old FDR-era Bretton Woods system, controlling the exchange-rates of the dollar, by raising or lowering the amount of gold produced. But this is liquid gold, and King Saud determines its price.

Furthermore, King Saud also leads the Gulf Cooperation Council of all other Arab oil monarchs, such as those who own UAE — all of them are likewise US allies and major weapons-buyers.

In an extraordinarily fine recent article by Pepe Escobar at Asia Times, “Oil and gas geopolitics: no shelter from the storm”, he quotes from his not-for-attribution interviews with “EU diplomats,” and reports:

After the Trump administration’s unilateral pull-out from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), European Union diplomats in Brussels, off the record, and still in shock, admit that they blundered by not “configuring the eurozone as distinct and separate to the dollar hegemony”. Now they may be made to pay the price of their impotence via their “outlawed” trade with Iran. …

As admitted, never on the record, by experts in Brussels; the EU has got to reevaluate its strategic alliance with an essentially energy independent US, as “we are risking all our energy resources over their Halford Mackinder geopolitical analysis that they must break up [the alliance between] Russia and China.”

That’s a direct reference to the late Mackinder epigone Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, who died dreaming of turning China against Russia.

In Brussels, there’s increased recognition that US pressure on Iran, Russia and China is out of geopolitical fear the entire Eurasian land mass, organized as a super-trading bloc via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), [and] the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), is slipping away from Washington’s influence.

This analysis gets closer to how the three key nodes of 21st century Eurasia integration – Russia, China and Iran – have identified the key issue; both the euro and the yuan must bypass the petrodollar, the ideal means, as the Chinese stress, to “end the oscillation between strong and weak dollar cycles, which has been so profitable for US financial institutions, but lethal to emerging markets.” …

It’s also no secret among Persian Gulf traders that in the – hopefully unlikely – event of a US-Saudi-Israeli war in Southwest Asia against Iran, a real scenario war-gamed by the Pentagon would be “the destruction of oil wells in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]. The Strait of Hormuz does not have to be blocked, as destroying the oil wells would be far more effective.”

And what the potential loss of over 20% of the world’s oil supply would mean is terrifying; the implosion, with unforeseen consequences, of the quadrillion derivatives pyramid, and consequentially [consequently] of the entire Western financial casino superstructure.

In other words: it’s not the ‘threat’ that perhaps, some day, Iran will have nuclear warheads, that is actually driving Trump’s concern here (despite what Israel’s concerns are about that matter), but instead, it is his concerns about Iran’s missiles, which constitute the delivery-system for any Iranian warheads: that their flight-range be short enough so that the Sauds will be outside their range. (The main way Iran intends to respond to an invasion backed by the US, is to attack Saudi Arabia — Iran’s leaders know that the US Government is more dependent upon the Sauds than upon Israel — so, Iran’s top targets would be Saudi capital Riyadh, and also the Ghawar oil field, which holds over half of Saudi oil. If US bases have been used in the invasion, then all US bases in the Middle East are also be within the range of Iran’s missiles and therefore would also probably be targeted.)

Obama’s deal with Iran had focused solely upon preventing Iran from developing nuclear warheads — which Obama perhaps thought (mistakenly) would dampen Israel’s (and its billionaire US financial backers’) ardor for the US to conquer Iran. Israel had publicly said that their concern was Iran’s possibility to become a nuclear power like Israel became; those possible future warheads were supposed to be the issue; but, apparently, that wasn’t actually the issue which really drove Israel. Obama seems to have thought that it was, but it wasn’t, actually. Israel, like the Sauds, want Iran conquered. Simple. The nuclear matter was more an excuse than an explanation.

With Trump now in the White House, overwhelmingly by money from the Israel lobbies (proxies also for the Sauds) — and with no equivalently organized Jewish opposition to the pro-Israel lobbies (and so in the United States, for a person to be anti-Israel is viewed as being anti-Semitic, which is not at all true, but Israel’s lies say it’s true and many Americans unfortunately believe it) — Trump has not only the Sauds and their allies requiring him to be against Iran and its allies, but he has also got this pressure coming from Israel: both the Big-Oil and the Jewish lobbies drive him. Unlike Obama, who wasn’t as indebted to the Jewish lobbies, Trump needs to walk the plank for both the Sauds and Israel.

In other words: Trump aims to keep the dollar as the reserve currency by suppressing not only China but also the two main competitors of King Saud: Iran and Russia. That’s why America’s main ‘enemies’ now are those three countries and their respective allies.

Obama was likewise targeting them, but in a different priority-order, with Russia being the main one (thus Obama’s takeover of Ukraine in February 2014 turning it against Russia, next door); and that difference was due to Obama’s desire to be favorably viewed by the residents in America’s biggest export and import market, the EU, and so his bringing another member (Ukraine) into the EU (which still hasn’t yet been culminated).

Trump is instead building on his alliance with King Saud and the other GCC monarchs, a group who can more directly cooperate to control the value of the US dollar than the EU can. Furthermore, both conservative (including Orthodox) Jews in the United States, and also white evangelical Protestants in the US, are strongly supportive of Israel, which likewise sides with the Arab oil monarchs against Iran and its allies. Trump needs these people’s votes.

Trump also sides with the Sauds against Canada. That’s a matter which the theorists who assert that Israel controls the US, instead of that the Sauds (allied with America’s and Israel’s billionaires) control the US, ignore; they ignore whatever doesn’t fit their theory. Of course, a lot doesn’t fit their theory (which equates “Jews” with “Israelis” and alleges that “they” control the world), but people whose prejudices are that deep-seated, can’t be reached by any facts which contradict their self-defining prejudice. Since it defines themselves, it’s a part of them, and they can never deny it, because to do so would be to deny who and what they are, and they refuse to change that. The Sauds control the dollar; Israel does not, but Israel does the lobbying, and both the Sauds and Israel want Iran destroyed. Trump gets this pressure not only from the billionaires but from his voters.

And, of course, Democratic Party billionaires push the narrative that Russia controls America. It used to be the Republican Joseph R. McCarthy’s accusation, that the “commies” had “infiltrated”, especially at the State Department. So: Trump kicked out Russia’s diplomats, to satisfy those neocons — the neoconservatives of all Parties and persuasions, both conservative and liberal.

To satisfy the Sauds, despite the EU, Trump has dumped the Iran deal. And he did it also to satisfy Israel, the main US lobbyists for the Sauds. (Americans are far more sympathetic to Jews than to Arabs; the Sauds are aware of this; Israel handles their front-office.) For Trump, the Sauds are higher priority than Europe; even Israel (who are an expense instead of a moneybag for the US Government) are higher priority than Europe. Both the Sauds and Israel together are vastly higher. And the Sauds alone are higher priority for Trump than are even Canada and Europe combined. Under Trump, anything will be done in order to keep the Sauds and their proxy-lobbyists (Israel) ‘on America’s side’.

Consequently, Trump’s political base is mainly against Iran and for Israel, but Obama’s was mainly against Russia and for the EU. Obama’s Democratic Party still are controlled by the same billionaires as before; and, so, Democrats continue demonizing Russia, and are trying to make as impossible as they can, any rapprochement with Russia — and, therefore, they smear Trump for anything he might try to do along those lines.

Both Obama and Trump have been aiming to extend America’s aristocracy’s dominance around the world, but they employ different strategies toward that politically bipartisan American-aristocratic objective: the US Government’s global control, for the benefit of the US aristocracy, at everyone else’s expense. Obama and Trump were placed into the White House by different groups of US billionaires, and each nominee serves his/her respective sponsors, no public anywhere — not even their voters’ welfare.

An analogous example is that, whereas Fox News, Forbes, National Review, The Weekly Standard, American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Breitbart News, InfoWars, Reuters, and AP, are propagandists for the Republican Party; NPR, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, The New Republic, New Yorker, New York Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and Salon, are propagandists for the Democratic Party; but, they all draw their chief sponsors from the same small list of donors who are America’s billionaires, since these few people control the top advertisers, investors, and charities, and thus control nearly all of the nation’s propaganda. The same people who control the Government control the public; but, America isn’t a one-Party dictatorship. America is, instead, a multi-Party dictatorship. And this is how it functions.

Trump cancelled the Iran deal because a different group of billionaires are now in control of the White House, and of the rest of the US Government. Trump’s group demonize especially Iran; Obama’s group demonize especially Russia. That’s it, short. That’s America’s aristocratic tug-of-war; but both sides of it are for invasion, and for war. Thus, we’re in the condition of ‘permanent war for permanent peace’ — to satisfy the military contractors and the billionaires who control them. Any US President who would resist that, would invite assassination; but, perhaps in Trump’s case, impeachment, or other removal-from-office, would be likelier. In any case, the sponsors need to be satisfied — or else — and Trump knows this.

Trump is doing what he thinks he has to be doing, for his own safety. He’s just a figurehead for a different faction of the US aristocracy, than Obama was. He’s doing what he thinks he needs to be doing, for his survival. Political leadership is an extremely dangerous business. Trump is playing a slightly different game of it than Obama did, because he represents a different faction than Obama did. These two factions of the US aristocracy are also now battling each other for political control over Europe.

*

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. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from SCF.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

We bring to the attention of our readers South Front’s detailed documentary on Russia’s military campaign in Syria.

Introduction

The Russian military operation in Syria is nearing the end of its third year. Since 2015, Moscow has been employing its air power, military advisors and diplomatic resources to defeat a multitude of terrorist groups, to support the legitimate Syrian government, and to promote a peaceful dialogue across the country, thereby creating the framework for a diplomatic settlement of the conflict on the international and regional levels.

Russia’s capabilities of providing military supplies to Syrian government forces and humanitarian aid to the local population, have both played an important role in establishing Russian forces as an influential and reputable power within Syria, which can play the role of a mediator among various factions on the ground in the war-torn country. In comparison, all other foreign powers involved in the conflict are forced to rely on a limited number of proxy forces, which have often proven to exhibit a harsh attitude toward, and competition with their counterparts and competitors.

On the other hand, this situation puts restrictions on Moscow’s actions in some spheres, because it must balance its public and formal positions to push forward the promoted political settlement while pursuing Russia’s own national security and political goals simultaneously.

Starting Point

To put Russian actions in Syria and the Middle East in general in perspective, one should think back to what the situation was like on the eve of the direct Russian intervention in the conflict. At that moment, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda – Jabhat al-Nusra (now known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) – and other radical militant groups, often branded in the mainstream media as the moderate opposition, as well as ISIS, were engaged in an increasingly successful offensive against the Syrian government on multiple frontlines. Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies were at the gates of Damascus, in control of large parts of northern, western and southern Syria, as well as multiple areas within the government-held areas, including about a half of the city of Aleppo, often described as the second Syrian capital. At the same time, ISIS’ self-proclaimed Caliphate was rapidly spreading throughout the eastern and northern parts of the country. The terrorist group was in control of a major part of the Syrian oil resources, the strategically important cities of Deir Ezzor and Raqqah, and controlled a sizeable border with Turkey.

The US, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries of the so-called civilized world were either providing direct and indirect supplies or assistance to Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies in an effort to overthrow the Assad government. The US-led coalition against ISIS achieved little success in combating the terrorist group and destroying its infrastructure. The so-called Caliphate had clearly expanded its territory and power since the coalition’s formal establishment on June 13, 2014. ISIS’ oil business was on the rise with illegal oil flows streaming throughout the region and even reaching the broader international market.

The mainstream media and think tanks were publicly forecasting that the Damascus government would fall by the end of 2015, or in the best-case scenario would be able to consolidate its control over the coastal areas. These same western establishment disseminators of information warned that such a coastal statelet would soon turn into an Iranian client pseudo-state after the dissipation of Syria. Iran has invested a significant amount of resources and troops in the conflict and even convinced Hezbollah to join it on the side of the Damascus government. Nonetheless, these efforts were not enough to shift the balance of power in favor of the Assad government.

All of these forecasts appeared to be doomed to failure on September 30, 2015 when warplanes and attack helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces started pounding militants across the country, irrevocably shaping the course of the conflict. Units of the Russian Special Operations Forces arrived to direct airstrikes, to conduct reconnaissance missions, and a host of other classified missions deep behind the enemy’s lines. Behind the scenes, Russian military advisers started planning and directing offensive operations and kicked off a long and complicated process of transforming the Syrian Army and pro-government militias into a force capable of defeating the terrorists and to liberate the country.

Additionally, the Russians started expanding and fortifying their Khmeimim airbase and the naval facility in Tartus. Later, Russian military police, combat engineers and the Navy also played an increasing role. Throughout the conflict, Russia-linked private military contractors entered the game providing security to key energy infrastructure facilities in the liberated areas and serving as assault troops in some key battles.

The regional power with its economy “in tatters” [Obama sic] appeared to be capable of projecting power, providing assistance and highly professional military advising, and large-scale counter-terrorism missions in a key global region approximately 1,482 nautical miles from the Black Sea Fleet based at Sevastopol, Crimea to the Tartus naval facility in Latakia, Syria.

One of the key reasons behind the Russian decision to launch its operation in Syria was the very logical concern over growing security threats from terrorist groups near Russia’s southern borders and the possibility that some powers could use terrorist groups in the larger, ongoing geopolitical standoff. Russia has already had to struggle with this reality in the Caucasus regions of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia starting in 1994. Brought largely under control in 2009, Russian security forces continue to battle Islamic insurgents in these regions.

The Syrian-Iraqi battleground is located approximately 450 km from the border of the former USSR. Russian has been a target of terrorism perpetrated by radical Islamist groups for decades. Considering the rapid growth of ISIS in 2014, some Western actors would like to see the expansion of this entity or other quasi-state terrorist structures into Russia’s South Caucasus or the border area with the Central Asia. Thus, Moscow found common ground with the governments of Iran, Syria and Iraq and even the leaders of Hezbollah, all of whom were also concerned with the growth of highly organized and ideologically motivated Sunni terrorism in the region. These factors led to the creation of the Russian-Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah alliance and the establishment of a HQ in Baghdad for joint intelligence-sharing cooperation and anti-terrorism coordination between these nations. The alliance was de-facto formed and the Baghdad HQ was established immediately after the start of the Russian military operation in Syria in late September.

Goals, Forces and Facilities

The Russian operation pursued the following goals:

Military

  • To defeat ISIS and other radical militant groups like Jabhat al-Nusra;
  • To eliminate experienced members of these terrorist groups, which had traveled to Syria from Southern Caucasus and the Central Asian republics. It was determined that these elements returned home, they would pose a threat to Russian national security;
  • To prevent a Libya-like scenario in Syria. Thus, it was needed to destroy the established terrorist infrastructure, which would allow terrorist group to use the country as a rear base for terrorist attacks across the globe;
  • To strengthen the Assad government and its military forces. This would not only be accomplished by resupply of weapons and munitions, but a ground-up reeducation in modern warfare tactics, starting at the small unit level, and building to advanced operations involving multiple large formations employing the  full spectrum of combined arms warfighting practices.

Political

  • To defend and promote the positions of Russia in the Middle East and in the Eastern Mediterranean;
  • To assist the central Syrian government to remain in power and to allow it to start restoring sovereignty and law and order to the country;
  • To create conditions on the ground under which the less radical elements of the opposition would have no choice but to join and participate in the political process.

Economic

  • To defend and promote the interests of Russian companies in the region;
  • To defend and promote the economic interests of the Russian state, including a direct and indirect control of the transit of energy resources, in the region.

Obviously, Moscow had to expand its own military infrastructure at the facilities in Tartus and the Khmeimim airbase, and to ensure the security of the deployed forces. Russian attack helicopters additionally used airbases in Shayrat, Homs, Tiyas and Damascus as advance airfields. As a beneficial consequence of direct participation in the conflict, the Russian Federation gained the opportunity to test its more modern weapons systems under real combat conditions and to provide personnel with combat experience. Even tough Russia was employing a relatively small combined task force to achieve the aforementioned goals throughout the course of the operation, this force of soldiers, battle hardened and educated on the modern field of battle, would provide a core cadre full of invaluable experience and leadership.

Air Forces

When the operation started, the Russian Aerospace Forces deployed at least 50 aircraft, including Su-24M attack aircraft, Su-25SM attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighter jets, Su-34 fighter-bombers and Mi-24 attack helicopters with transport capabilities and Mi-8 military transport helicopters. This air group was reshuffled several times depending upon the situation on the ground and the tasks and objectives pursued by the Russian leadership. At different stages of the conflict, it also included Su-35S multi-role air superiority fighters, Su-27SM multirole fighters, MiG-29SMT air superiority fighters and Ka-52 and Mi-28N attack helicopters. Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers were employed from airfields in southern Russia.

Two Su-57 fifth generation stealth fighter jets passed combat tests in Syria in February 2018. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, at least one Su-57 used an advanced air-launched cruise missile to target militants. The decision was recently made to approve the first serial production run of twelve of these advanced aircraft.

A deeply modernized Su-25SM3 attack aircraft, which incorporates the Vitebsk-25 EW system, avionics, and weapon control systems with an L-370-3S digital active jamming station, was also spotted at the Khmeimim airbase. The L-370-3S can use an enemy radar emission to locate their azimuth and determine the radar emission type, as well as suppress the signal in different frequency ranges. It also possesses protective measures against various missiles.

The A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, Il-20M1 electronic, radar reconnaissance aircraft and Tu-214R electronic surveillance aircraft were another component of the Russian “reconnaissance-strike complex” keeping control of Syrian airspace and detecting troop and supply movements on the ground as well as locating militant commanders, headquarters, weapon depots and other key infrastructure by detecting their electronic communications’ signature an locating its source. Russia has been developing a number of advanced electronic warfare, surveillance and command and control aircraft over the past two decades.

On a tactical level, Russian servicemen used a high number [about 100] of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of different types; Orlan 10, Forpost, Orion, Dozor-100, Eleron-3, and the Pchela-1T to conduct reconnaissance during combat operations and to monitor ceasefire areas across the country.

Units of the Naval Infantry, the Mechanized Infantry, the Special Operations Forces and the Military Police have provided strong zonal security for the Khmeimim and Tartus infrastructure from the very start of operations. Particularly, servicemen of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet have been involved in this task. T-90 main battle tanks have been also deployed to bolster the security posture of these forces in very real terms.

Air Defense

The Russian military has significantly increased air defense capabilities of its grouping deployed in Syria after a Turkish F-16 fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border on November 24, 2015. This incident forced Russia to deploy its advanced S-400 long-range air defense systems to protect its facilities and forces. Russian forces in Syria are also protected by the following systems:

  • S-300V4 anti-ballistic missile system
  • Tor M2 surface-to-air missile system
  • Buk-M2E self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile system
  • Osa highly mobile, low-altitude, short-range tactical surface-to-air missile system
  • S-125 Pechora 2M surface-to-air missile system
  • Pantsir-S1 self-propelled combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system

Krasukha-4 and other electronic warfare systems are also an important component of the Russian forces’ air defense capabilities. According to some experts, these systems were employed during two US-led missile strikes on Syrian government forces in 2017 and 2018, and were likely an important factor behind the questionable success of these US attacks.

Additional air-defense capabilities have been provided by the Russian naval task group deployed in eastern Mediterranean. These capabilities depend on the composition of the group. For example, the Slava class guided missile cruisers Moskva and Varyag, which have been deployed as part of such task groups in the past, are equipped with the S-300F Fort long-range surface-to-air missile system.

Naval Forces

The naval task group deployed also increased the anti-ship capabilities of the Russian operational force in Syria, allowing it to protect itself from hostile warships. In November 2016, the Russian military officially announced that it sent K-300P Bastion-P mobile coastal defense missile systems to Syria. This anti-ship missile system is designed to engage surface ships, including carrier strike groups, convoys and amphibious assault ships.

The Russian naval force involved in the conflict was in its strongest shape in the period of November 2016 to January 2017 when the Kirov class nuclear-powered battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy, heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov and two Udaloy class anti-submarine destroyers were deployed along with a number of smaller support vessels. This group significantly expanded air-defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities of the Russian forces. Mig-29KR/KUBR and Su-33 jets attached to the Admiral Kuznetsov also took part in the aerial operation against militants in the country, carrying out 420 combat missions and hitting 1,252 targets, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. On the other hand, Admiral Kuznetsov’s air wing lost a MiG-29K jet and a Su-33 jet during the Syria deployment, because of technical faults during the aircraft arrested-recovery process. This highlighted problems and limitations of the Russian naval aviation at its current stage of development and maturity. Importantly, the most valuable asset involved in both of these accidents, the pilots, were rescued by the vigilant recovery teams of the naval task force.

Warships of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Sea Fleet also participated in the campaign carrying out Kalibr cruise missile strikes on ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra targets, mainly weapon depots, headquarters, and other high value, hardened targets. Although western mainstream media tried to downplay the significance of Kalibr cruise missile strikes from both surface warfare vessels and submerged submarines, these attacks very clearly illustrated the success of the Russian defense industry in producing high tech cruise missiles, as well as the Russian military’s proficiency at utilizing them.

Ground Forces

According to the official version of the Russian leadership, the ground campaign was limited to the following:

  • Troops of the Special Operations Forces to direct airstrikes, conduct reconnaissance and other unspecified missions behind the enemy’s lines;
  • Another group of servicemen employed to train Syrian forces and fulfill the role of military advisers embedded with Syrian units on the battle field;
  • Servicemen of the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria participated in directing the reconciliation process, participate in negotiations with local communities and leaders of militant groups and carry out humanitarian operations;
  • Units of the Military Police to provide security and assist in restoring law and order in the liberated areas. Some military police servicemen are also tasked with guarding the Russian military facilities and assisting in providing humanitarian aid to the local population;
  • Combat engineers to participate in demining of key liberated areas across the country.

Besides these tasks, there were at least two more components of the Russian military forces deployed in Syria. The first is were elements of conventional and rocket artillery systems. Units of apparent Russian origin armed with 2A65 Msta-B 152 mm howitzers and TOS-1A Solntsepyok heavy flamethrower systems have been spotted a number of times, located in frontline positions in key sectors supporting the main effort of offensive and defensive operations. For example, in February 2016, CNN filmed an artillery detachment armed with Mstab-B howitzers near Palmyra. The detachment was guarded by an armored group, which included a few T-90 main battle tanks and BTR-82A armored personnel carriers. The crews appeared to be Russians.

The second component and open secret, is the participation of Russian and Russia-linked private military contractors (PMCs) in the conflict. According to available data, these PMCs served as storm troops in a number of key battles against ISIS, such as in Deir Ezzor and Palmyra, work as artillery support units, and are involved in guarding the liberated gas and oil infrastructure in central Syria. There is no official data as to how many Russia-linked PMCs are currently deployed in Syria. According to some experts, the total is roughly 2,000.

Syria Express

In conjunction with direct military intervention, Russia boosted military aid to the Damascus government and its allied forces. To accomplish this, Russia established an aerial and naval logistics supply network that came to be known as the “Syria Express”. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and sanctioned pro-government factions have been supplied with military equipment, including armored vehicles and battle tanks, artillery guns, multiple rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and other needed arms and munitions. It’s widely known that Moscow even provided a limited number of T-90 main battle tanks, TOS-1A Solntsepyok heavy flamethrower systems and Uragan multiple rocket launcher systems. The Syrian military has also received Pantsir-S1 air defense systems and materiel support needed for the maintenance of its aircraft and air defense systems.

At least 17 vessels of various types are involved in providing military supplies to Syria via the maritime route (Tartus-Sevastopol- Novorossiysk). It is interesting to note that at critical stages of the conflict the Russian military made use of non-military vessels. Analysts stressed that this proved that Russia lacks significant sealift capacity and has a very limited number of landing craft and amphibious ships that can be dedicated to providing supplies to Syria. The Russian Navy has been slowly remedying this obvious shortcoming by building larger amphibious warfare vessels of larger displacement in recent years.

Military Developments

In the period from September 30, 2015 to June 9, 2018, Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, participated in multiple battles against ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and their allies. All of them can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Operations to stabilize the situation and to prevent the fall of the Damascus government;
  2. Operations to defeat the most influential terrorist groups – ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra – in central, eastern and northern Syria;
  3. Operations to liberate multiple militant-held pockets within the government held area.

In late September, 2015 Syrian forces were spread among different areas of operation, their communications were overstretched and operations were poorly planned and coordinated. At the same time, weapons, munitions, equipment and recruits were flowing to militant groups in Syria through Turkey. The Russians had to assist the SAA in dealing with all of these issues.

The general course of the conflict can be separated into the four stages.

Northern Latakia, Homs, Palmyra

At the outset, or first stage of the campaign, the provinces of Latakia, Homs, Hama, Deir Ezzor and the Damascus countryside became the main areas of close operational support provided by the Russian military to the SAA, the National Defense Forces (NDF) and other pro-government factions. In Deir Ezzor, the key task of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force was to provide supplies and fire support to a garrison of the provincial capital besieged by ISIS and to prevent the fall of the city. This goal remained relevant until 2017 when the siege was broken.

In the province of Latakia, Russian forces propelled an advance of the SAA along the M4 highway, allowing government forces in the period from October 2015 to August 2016 to reassert control over the province. The SAA, the NDF and other pro-government factions significantly shortened the militant-held part of the Syrian-Turkish border, culminating in the capture of the strategically important town of Kinsabba. The front in northern Latakia was stabilized and the threat of a Jabhat al-Nusra-led offensive on the Syrian coast was neutralized. The Russian Su-24 warplane was shot down by the Turkish Air Force during this very advance. Ankara did not desire a Syrian government restoration of control over the country’s border, as Turkey’s political elite were benefiting greatly from illicit trade across the border, as well as providing the free flow of reinforcements and resupply of militants operating in Syria.

An additional offensive was opened in the province of Aleppo from October 2015 to December 2016 when government forces engaged the Jabhat al-Nusra-led bloc north and southwest of the provincial capital, and ISIS east of it. Government forces lifted the two-year-long ISIS siege of the Kuweires military airbase, expanded a buffer zone west of the Khanasir Highway, the main supply line to the government-held part of Aleppo city, and cut off the key supply lines heading from the Turkish town of Kilis to the militant-held part of Aleppo city. Thus, the SAA and its allies divided the militant-held areas in northern and western Syria into two separate enclaves. This advance also predetermined the future of Aleppo city.

Small scale military actions were conducted in northern Hama from October to December 2015. In this area, the Syrian-Iranian-Alliance achieved limited gains in comparison to the developments in Latakia and Aleppo. Pro-government forces advanced along the M5 highway and west of it, outflanking a group of militant-held towns and villages, including Kafr Zita and Lataminah. Subsequent militant counter-attacks resulted in little gains and the frontline was more or less stabilized.

Amid successes in western and northern Syria, government troops carried out a series of advances on ISIS positions in the province of Homs. On March 27, 2016 they liberated the ancient city of Palmyra. A few days later, on April 3, another important city, al-Qaryatayn, was also liberated. ISIS forces in central Syria were forced to withdraw to the desert. During the following month of June, the SAA, the Desert Hawks and other pro-government factions made an attempt to reach and capture the town of Tabqa from ISIS advancing from the direction of Ithriyah; however, they overstretched their logistical lines and were forced to retreat, suffering casualties after a series of ISIS counter-attacks.

One of the key factors behind the success of the SAA and its allies was a massive air campaign carried out by the Russian Aerospace Forces. Russian aircraft not only provided close air support to government troops, but also contributed significant efforts to destroying infrastructure of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS striking their convoys, gatherings, weapons depots, HQs and other facilities deep behind the actual frontlines, attacking targets in the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Raqqah. ISIS’ oil infrastructure and oil convoys were among the most important targets of the air campaign. Thus, the Russian military undermined one of the terrorist group’s key financial resources.

Aleppo City, Western Ghouta, Northern Hama, retreat from Palmyra

The Russian-led operation against militants entered its second stage in June 2016 following the collapse of a US-Russian deal aimed at establishing a ceasefire regime in the war-torn country. Under the terms of the deal, Jabhat al-Nusra, other al-Qaeda-linked groups and ISIS were excluded from the ceasefire regime. However, so-called moderate opposition groups were not able to separate themselves from their terrorist affiliates. These groups often even shared the same facilities and positions on the frontlines with Jabhat al-Nusra units. Thus, the ceasefire became impossible. The situation was especially complicated in the city of Aleppo, a section of which was controlled by the Jabhat al-Nusra-led bloc.

With the collapse of the attempted ceasefire, the SAA’s campaign to retake Aleppo took place from June 25, 2016 to December 22, 2016, ending with the government’s liberation of the entire city. During the summer phase of the campaign, the SAA and its allies advanced in the Mallah Farms area and cut off the Castello Road, the only supply line to the militant-held, eastern part of Aleppo. Then, government troops repelled all militant attempts to break the siege. Especially fierce clashes took place in the area of al-Rashidin in October and November. A battle of attrition was waged on the encircled militants and during the final phase of the advance, militants lacked weapons and supplies to counter government advances, while the SAA effectively used its advantage in military equipment, manpower and firepower. Humanitarian corridors were also opened to allow civilians to withdraw from the combat area.

On December 13, a local ceasefire agreement was reached between the opposing sides and by December 22, all remaining radical members of the militant groups and their relatives surrendered all their heavy weapons and withdrew to the militant-held part of Idlib via an open corridor. The deal ensured that further civilian casualties, inevitable in the urban warfare, would be avoided. The city of Aleppo, also known as the industrial capital of Syria and the second-largest city in the country was finally liberated.

In addition to regular troops of the SAA and the NDF, the operation involved all elite factions of the Syrian military and Iranian-backed forces including the 4th Armored Division, the Republican Guard, the Syrian Marines, the Tiger Forces, the Desert Hawks, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Liwa al-Quds, Lebanese Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba. The Russian Special Operations Forces and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also participated. According to reports, over 25,000 pro-government fighters were involved. About 15,000 militants from various factions deployed inside and around the city opposed them.

Neither side provided official information regarding the casualties they sustained. According to estimates by various sources, up to 1,500 government fighters were killed in the battle. In turn, about 2,000 militants were killed. The number of injured militants remains unknown. Furthermore, Jabhat al-Nusra and its allied groups expended a large portion of their unguided rocket and anti-tank guided missile arsenal over the course of the fighting, and lost a large number of armored vehicles as well. A key objective of the operation was the evacuation of civilians via opened humanitarian corridors. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, over 150,000 civilians were evacuated from the combat area during the operation.

It is interesting to note that a naval group led by the Kirov class nuclear-powered battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy and heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov were deployed in close proximity to Syria during the battle for Aleppo. According to some experts, the addition of these powerful vessels to the Russian task group involved in the operation, especially considering their defensive capacities in anti-air warfare, provided a significant deterrent to any decision by Washington to intervene, thus avoiding a direct confrontation between the US-led coalition and the Syrian government when the conflict was passing its crucial turning point.

There were two more important factors that impacted the situation in Aleppo:

  • a Jabhat al-Nusra-led offensive on government positions in northern Hama;
  • an ISIS offensive on the ancient city of Palmyra.

Both of these attacks took place during the key stages of the battle for Aleppo. Thus, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra de-facto united their efforts in attacking the SAA and its allies along different fronts, in an attempt to draw crucial Syrian military manpower and effort away from its operation to liberate the strategic city. The Jabhat al-Nusra-led advance in northern Hama started on August 29 and lasted until November 6. This attack was actively supported by Jund al-Aqsa, which in 2017 merged with ISIS, as well as other so-called moderate opposition groups. Using surprise effect and suicide bombers, militants broke the NDF’s defense and captured a number of villages. In September, October and early November, fierce clashes continued. By November 6, the SAA, the NDF and their allies had been able to reverse the militants’ gains and to stabilize the front.

ISIS launched its attack on Palmyra on December 8 and captured the city by December 10. The terrorist group had captured the ancient city amid fierce clashes with the SAA and the NDF. On December 11, government forces launched an unsuccessful counter-attack to re-capture the city. On December 12, ISIS units started a large-scale advance to capture the Tiyas Airbase west of Palmyra. Terrorists carried out multiple attempts to capture the airbase, but were not successful. They were equally unsuccessful in efforts to cut off the road between the airbase and the city of Homs. On December 22, the frontline stabilized.

According to available data, ISIS concentrated up to 5,000 militants for the December advance. The government’s positions were defended by about 3,000 fighters, including units of the SAA, Hezbollah, Liwa Fatemiyoun and later the Tiger Forces. They were backed up by Syrian and Russian air support. According to pro-government sources, over 600 ISIS members were killed in the clashes. Pro-ISIS sources claim that over 300 pro-government fighters were killed.

During the months of October and November, prior to the pivotal victory in Aleppo, the SAA also carried out a successful operation in the Damascus countryside, liberating the militant-held sector of Western Ghouta. Government forces broke the militants’ defense and in late November forced them to accept a reconciliation agreement. A significant number of militants and their families departed to the militant-held territory of Idlib. Many combatants and their families chose to remain in the area and settled their legal status with the Syrian government, under the supervision of security forces.

The Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance achieved important victories liberating the city of Aleppo and the Western Ghouta region of Damascus, but lost Palmyra. This was a major PR loss, and was actively seized upon by the mainstream media to slam the Russian-backed anti-terrorist campaign in Syria. The Western mainstream media made every attempt to overshadow the many successes of the campaign by highlighting the setback in Palmyra.

Palmyra Retaken, Wadi Barada, Eastern Aleppo, Western Qalamoun, Deir Ezzor city, eastern Syria desert

The third stage of the Russian military operation in Syria started immediately after the liberation of Aleppo. Over 25,000 pro-government fighters previously involved in the Aleppo battle were free for further operations across the country. The fall of Palmyra forced the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance to alter their strategic planning in light of this setback. The following goals and priorities were identified and agreed upon:

  1. to secure and restore order in the liberated city of Aleppo;
  2. to retake Palmyra from ISIS;
  3. to purge ISIS in wide areas in the eastern regions of both Aleppo and Homs provinces and, if this proved possible, to lift the ISIS siege of the city of Deir Ezzor;
  4. to deal with multiple militant-held pockets still existing within the government-held regions, either achieved by military means or through safe passage and relocation agreements.

A military operation to take back Palmyra began on January 13, 2017 from the direction of the Tiyas Airbase, at that time still being besieged by ISIS. Units of the SAA, the Tiger Forces, Liwa Fatemiyoun, Hezbollah, the Republican Guard and the 5th Assault Corps spent a month clashing with ISIS along the Tiyas-Palmyra highway and re-entered the ancient city for the second time on March 2. On March 4, Palmyra was fully secured.

The advance was marked by very active Russian involvement, including the participation of PMCs, the Russian Aerospace Forces and a significant effort by Special Operations Forces. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, ISIS lost over 1,000 militants killed or wounded in the ensuing struggle, along with 19 battle tanks, 37 armored fighting vehicles, 98 pickup trucks armed with heavy weaponry and 100 other vehicles. The heavy casualties suffered by ISIS during the battles for Palmyra and their failed advance on the Tiyas airbase, set the conditions for further operations against the terrorist group in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert, as well as in the eastern part of Aleppo province.

From January through June, government forces forced ISIS terrorists to retreat along a wide front in eastern Aleppo, leading to the liberating of the Jirah Airbase, Deir Haffer, Maskanah and a number of other points. By the middle of June, the SAA advanced into the southern periphery of the province of Raqqah. This caused great consternation in the mainstream media and led to a growth of tensions with the US-led coalition and its proxies. On June 18, an F/A-18 Super Hornet from the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22M4 south of the town of Tabqah, which was then occupied by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a Kurdish dominated coalition of armed groups backed by Washington. The Su-22M4 was supporting the SAA’s anti-ISIS operation in the area. The US claimed that the warplane was posing an imminent threat to the SDF, and was shot down in an act of self-defense. Regardless of efforts of both ISIS and the U.S. led coalition and its proxies on the ground, the SAA established control over the key junction of Resafa, thus securing the Ithriyah-Resafa road and cutting the SDF off from any advance into central Syria.

From May to September, government forces carried out another offensive against ISIS, this time in central and eastern Syria. They liberated the entire desert regions north and south of the Homs-Palmyra highway, and reached the border with Jordan, both northeast and northwest of the area of At-Tanf. During the course of the operation, US-backed proxies branded as elements of the Free Syrian Army, miraculously appeared in the area and attempted to oppose the advance of the SAA in eastern Syria. These attempts proved unsuccessful.

During the advance, the Syrian military carried out the first air assault operation since the beginning of the war. On August 11, units of the Tiger Forces, led by Gen. Suheil al-Hassan, landed behind ISIS defensive positions at an administrative boundary line between the provinces of Homs and Raqqah. The operation immediately led to the capture of two settlements and added fuel to the general SSA advance in the area. Up to 30 ISIS members were killed in the ensuing clash.

Despite all of these advances, the issue of allowing a US-led coalition military garrison on the Baghdad-Damascus highway, in the area of At-Tanf, remained unresolved. Washington showed its readiness to use force to keep the highway closed to the Syrian government, carrying out airstrikes on pro-government forces there [for example on May 18]. The US-led coalition declared a 50-km wide zone of responsibility around At Tanf, stating that US military forces were deployed there to fight ISIS in the region; however it soon became apparent that ISIS seemed to be able to freely operate within this zone of protection. The US had set up a de-facto exclusion zone, where ISIS militants could seek refuge, regroup and strike at will, all the while protected by a US enforced no-fly zone.

On July 23, government forces advanced on ISIS positions along the Palmyra-Sukhna-Deir Ezzor highway with the aim of capturing Sukhna. They reached the town in late July and established full control over it on August 5. On August 27, the SAA and its allies launched an offensive to break the ISIS siege on the city of Deir Ezzor. On September 5, the siege was lifted from the western portion of the city. On September 9, government troops broke the encirclement of the Deir Ezzor airport. All ISIS counter-attacks were repelled.

According to pro-government sources, the multi-pronged advance against ISIS that led to the liberation of central Syria and lifted the siege of Deir Ezzor involved over 50,000 pro-government fighters from various factions. About 3,000 ISIS members were reportedly killed or injured. The SAA and its allies lost up to 1,000 troops, according to pro-opposition sources. The city of Deir Ezzor was fully liberated from ISIS on November 17, after about a month of urban clashes.

Additionally, a military operation to retake the eastern bank of the Euphrates was launched. The SAA liberated the town of al-Mayadin on October 12 and the town of al-Bukamal on November 19. ISIS was effectively defeated in the area, its self-proclaimed Caliphate had collapsed.

During the same time period as the above mentioned developments, the SAA carried out three additional military operations in western Syria.

  • In the period from December 23, 2016 to January 29, 2017 government troops established control over the entire area of Wadi Barada in the province of Rif Dimashq. A part of the area was liberated thanks to a reconciliation agreement reached between the government and more or less moderate members of local armed groups. The liberation of this area allowed the SAA to secure the supply of water to Damascus.
  • From July 21 to August 15, the SAA, Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army carried out a coordinated operation against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and ISIS in the western Qalamon area on the Syrian-Lebanese border. The entire border between the two countries became free of terrorists.
  • From October 7, 2017 to February 13, 2018 the SAA and its allies reclaimed a great deal of land in northeastern Hama and eastern Idlib, killing over 1,000 members of ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups. The government advance in western Idlib showed that even in this most militant of enclaves, which has been controlled by an assortment of opposition and terrorist groups since the early years of the war, the militants were increasingly unable to win in a head-to-head engagement with the SAA.

Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk Area, Eastern Qalamoun, Rastan Pocket

By the late winter of 2018, the Russian military operation in Syria entered its fourth stage. At this stage, the Syrian military had to deal with the remaining militant-held pockets within the majority government-held areas and to keep security and order in the recently liberated areas, especially the city of Deir Ezzor and in the Euphrates Valley.

A military operation against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman in the Eastern Ghouta region of Damascus, code-named Operation Damascus Steel, took place in the period from February 18, 2018 to April 14, 2018. The operation involved about 25,000 fighters from the SAA, the Tiger Forces, the Republican Guard, Liwa al-Quds, the NDF, the 4th Armored Division, the 5th Assault Corps and other pro-government factions. This force, backed by Russian Special Operations Forces troops, faced about 15,000-18,000 members of local militant groups. Government troops split the militant-held pocket into two separate parts and then cleared the two newly formed pockets one after another. As in many previous cases, local reconciliation agreements played an important part of the success of the operation.

The operation was not undermined by the alleged chemical attack in the town of Douma, which took place on April 7, nor the missile strike on Syrian government targets by the US, the UK and France carried out on April 14. The US led missile strikes exerted no real military or political pressure on the Syrian government, nor their allies engaged in the operation to finally retake the East Ghouta suburb of Damascus. The assertions by the U.S. and its allies on the floor of the UN assembly that claimed that the Syrian government had perpetrated a poison gas attack on Douma proved inconclusive, if not totally improbable.

During the clashes, about 550 militants were killed and about 1,200 members of militant groups surrendered to the SAA. According to pro-militant sources, government forces lost up to 600 fighters. The mainstream media and pro-militant outlets also claimed that “thousands” of civilians died during the operation, but this number has never been verified.

An operation against ISIS in the Yarmouk refugee camp area in southern Damascus was carried out between April 19 and May 21. Palestinian pro-government militias, like Liwa al-Quds and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, played a significant role in the operation. The Syrian military forced members of non-ISIS militant groups to accept a reconciliation deal, thus securing the area east of Yarmouk, and carried out a large-scale multipronged advance on ISIS positions. ISIS members in the area were lacking in military equipment, supplies and anti-armor capabilities. By the end of May, the entire southern Damascus area had been secured. According to Russian, Syrian and Iranian state-run media, all ISIS members had been eliminated. Nonetheless, sources on the ground have stated that at least some ISIS members and their families – about 1,600 persons, were allowed to withdraw from the area via an opened corridor after they had surrendered all heavy weapons in their possession.

Two more victories were achieved by the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance in eastern Qalamoun and the area of Rastan:

  • Militants in Rastan accepted a surrender agreement on May 2, surrendering their weapons and leaving the area by May 16. About 11,000 members of militant groups and their families left Rastan and nearby settlements and relocated to the militant-held parts of Idlib and Aleppo provinces via an open corridor.
  • On April 17, militant groups accepted a surrender agreement in eastern Qalamoun. Under the agreement militants surrendered their weapons and were granted the opportunity to leave the area or to settle their legal status. The Syrian military restored full control over the area on April 25. It is important to note that eastern Qalamoun militants surrendered a large number of heavy military equipment, including battle tanks, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and other weapons. Using such a large arsenal they may have been able to resist the SAA advance for a notable amount of time. When weighing their options with full knowledge of the many recent SAA victories over the past year, they chose to surrender.

By June 2018, the SAA and its allies had liberated a large part of the country, including the cities of Aleppo and Deir Ezzor, the entire countryside of Damascus, and had liquidated the many pockets of opposition that had existed in the government-held portion of the country. ISIS’ self-proclaimed Caliphate in Syria had been taken apart in a series well planned and decisively executed military campaigns.

On June 18, the SAA and its allies launched a military operation to clear southern Syria of both ISIS and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and to re-establish control of the Syrian-Jordanian border. Previously, Damascus, assisted by Russian advisers, made a number of attempts to implement a reconciliation agreement in the area allowing members of relatively moderate opposition groups to surrender their weapons and settle their legal status. All these attempts were sabotaged by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its supporters. Thus, a military solution was implemented. Within the next month, the SAA liberated the entire Daraa countryside and set conditions to combat ISIS east of the Golan Heights.

From July 21 to July 31, the SAA also cleared the ISIS-held pocket east of the Golan Heights. However, the security situation in the area still remains complicated and additional security measures are needed to prevent terrorist attacks there.

When the southern Syria issue is finally resolved, the SAA and its allies will turn their gaze upon the province of Idlib. Turkey, which has recently increased both its influence and presence there, has no justification for attempting to preserve Hayat Tahrir al-Sham or any of its many affiliated militant groups in the face of Syrian military intervention. The Erdogan government will have to find a way to either reconcile and divorce itself from the internationally recognized terrorist group, or somehow continue maintaining a relationship with it, while honoring the framework of the agreements reached by Syria, Turkey, Russia and Iran in the Astana format. The answer to this question will become more apparent only when the SAA begin military operations against militants in Idlib sometime in the near future.

Results of the military operation

The Russian Defense Ministry provided a comprehensive report on the results of its military operation in Syria in late 2017. The report stated that by November 7, 2017, 54,000 members of militant groups, 394 battle tanks and over 12,000 pieces of weaponry, vehicles and other equipment had been eliminated in Syria. An estimated 4,200 of the eliminated militants were from Russia or countries bordering it. During that same period, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out over 30,000 combat sorties, and executed 92,000 airstrikes. This amounted to an average of 100 combat sorties and 250 airstrikes on a daily basis. Attack helicopters carried out a total of approximately 7,000 combat sorties.

Warplanes from the Admiral Kuznetsov carried out 420 combat sorties, 117 of them at night, hitting 1,252 targets. The Russian Navy carried out ten missile strikes on militant targets, employing at least 70 Kalibr cruise missiles. The first combat usage of Kalibr missiles in Syria was on October 7, 2015, only a week after the start of the military operations within the war-torn country.

Russian sappers deployed in the country removed over 100,000 mines and IEDs and continue to operate across the country. They have employed the Uran-6 mine-clearing robotic systems, OKO-2 ground-penetrating system and other modern equipment. To date, about 1,000 Syrian sappers have been trained by their Russian counterparts and the training program is ongoing.

Russia has played an important role in the logistics and maintenance support of the SAA, both in general and on an operational level. According to the Defense Ministry, Russian specialists are actively involved in assisting the Syrian military in maintaining and recovering military equipment. While most of this activity remains unpublicized, it’s known that in 2015 the Russians restored a tank-repairing plant in the city of Homs. The plant is currently operated by the Syrian government.

Additionally, Russian specialists and officers contributed to the improvement of Syria’s air defense capabilities, while providing both maintenance support to air defense systems and radars and training to Syrian officers. In April 2018, the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing a source in the Russia Defense Ministry, that Russia had delivered at least 40 Pantsir-S1 short to medium range defense systems to Syria over the past few years.

In the period from late September 2015 to August 2017, Russian specialists carried out over 3,000 ordinary maintenance activities and over 25,000 activities linked to maintenance of Russian weapons and equipment deployed in Syria. Additionally, the Russian military tested over 600 types of weapons and equipment, including MiG-29SMT air superiority fighters, Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets and BMPT-72 Terminator tank support combat vehicles.

Two Su-57 fighter jets passed combat tests in Syria in February 2018. According to the defense ministry, one of the jets used advanced air-launched cruise missiles against militant targets.

On December 22, 2017, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that a total of 48,000 Russian service members took part in the Syria military campaign. He added that 14,000 of these service members received state awards.

Casualties and material loses of the Russian military

From the start of the military operation on September 30, 2015 through June 20, 2018, the Russian military lost 93 servicemen in combat and non-combat incidents. Of these, 39 of them died on March 6, 2018 when an An-26 transport aircraft crashed near Khmeimim Air Base, because of a supposed technical malfunction. Combat related deaths claimed the lives of 43 Russian servicemen and specialists.

A total of 14 aircraft, excluding UAVs, were lost by the Russian military according to official sources. This number includes:

Russian Military Campaign in Syria 2015-2018

Separately, it should be noted that 92 people died in a crash of a Russian Defense Ministry Tupolev Tu-154, which was heading from the city of Sochi to Khmeimim airbase. The plane crashed into the Black Sea on December 25, 2016. The passenger list included 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble choir, 8 crew members, 7 soldiers, 9 journalists, the Director of the Department of Culture for the Russian Ministry of Defense and three civilians.

Comparing Russian losses to that of the US Air Force and US Navy in operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it is easy to conclude that Russia suffered higher losses in aircraft during the same period. One reason for the imbalance is that Russia is behind the US in UAV technologies and does not operate unmanned combat aerial vehicles. The primary reason must be attributed to the difference between the approaches implemented by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the US Air Force. The US has either engaged ground targets from a high altitude while using guided munitions, or via unmanned armed UAVs. By contrast, although Russian combat aviation conducted many airstrikes from high altitude via guided munitions, the majority of airstrikes by Russian aircraft were conducted at low altitude. Russian use of traditional close air support, where combat aviators work in close communication with forward air observers embedded with units on the front line, or even behind enemy lines, while attacking at low altitude resulted in a higher probability of aircraft loss, but resulted in higher target accuracy and better results. The heavy use of attack helicopters in the CAS role by the Russian Aerospace Forces proved greatly effective in providing accurate and lethal air support to allied units engaged in combat in both open terrain and urban areas.

There is no confirmed data on casualties among Russian and Russia-linked PMCs. If one believes in all of the speculations spread by the mainstream media and monitoring groups, this number should be not less than 1,000-1,500 dead and wounded. The problem is that reasonably substantiated reports, which include at a minimum the name, date or location of death of individuals engaged in such employment, exist only for about 30 individuals.  According to most military analysts, the real number of Russian PMC casualties is closer to two or three hundred.

Chemical weapons and missile strikes

Additionally, it is important to discuss the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict and the actions of the US-led bloc in response, using these attacks as justification for overt military action. There were two widely covered cases of alleged chemical weapons usage over the past 3 years:

  • Khan Shaykhun
  • Douma

An alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib province, took place on April 4, 2017. The incident occurred in the militant-held area, deep behind the frontline, amid a rapidly developing and successful operation conducted by the SAA against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in northern Hama. According to pro-militant sources, mostly the Western-backed militant-linked organization known as the White Helmets, at least 74 people were killed and over 550 were injured. The White Helmets and others claimed that chemical weapons were dropped by a warplane of the Syrian Air Force. The US, UK, France, Israel and a number of other countries immediately accused the Syrian government of being responsible for the attack. The Syrian government, Russia and Iran described the attack as a staged provocation and called on the international community to carry out an independent and transparent investigation of the incident.

On April 7, ahead of any investigation, the USS Porter guided missile destroyer launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian Air Force’s Shayrat Air Base in the province of Homs. According to the US Central Command, the missiles “targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars”. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the strike had resulted, “in the damage or destruction of fuel and ammunition sites, air defense capabilities, and 20 percent of Syria’s operational aircraft. The Syrian government has lost the ability to refuel or rearm aircraft at Shayrat airfield and at this point, use of the runway is of idle military interest.”

Syrian warplanes resumed their operations from the airbase a few hours after the US strike. The Russian Defense Ministry described the “combat effectiveness” of the attack as “extremely low” adding that only 23 missiles hit their intended targets. According to existing visual evidence, 10 Syrian aircraft were destroyed: three Su-22, four Su-22M3, and three MiG-23ML. According to some sources, the number of targeted aircraft could be up to 15; however, sources at the airbase have said that most of the destroyed aircraft had been already damaged or out of service.

According to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis, “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line”. There is no doubt that Moscow informed the Syrians who had withdrawn most of their assets from Shayrat Air Base prior to the strike. This could explain why no real damage was incurred from the strike. International investigators have never visited Khan Shaykhun nor Shayrat Air Base.

A year after the Shayrat missile strike, on April 7, 2018 an alleged chemical attack took place in Douma, in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. The incident allegedly occurred in the militant-held area, behind the frontline, amid a rapidly successful operation of the SAA against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman. By April 7, the SAA had liberated most of the area and had already forced Jaish al-Islam, which had controlled Douma, to accept a surrender agreement.

The White Helmets once again became the main source of the information on the alleged casualties. According to pro-militant sources, from 48 to 85 people were killed and over 500 were injured in the alleged attack. They claimed that a helicopter of the Syrian Air Force had dropped chemical weapons. The US, United Kingdom, France, Israel and a number of their usual allies immediately accused the Syrian government of being responsible for the attack. Once again, the Syrian government, Russia and Iran described the attack as a staged provocation and called on the international community to carry out an independent and transparent investigation of the incident.

On April 14, ahead of any investigation, the US, the UK and France carried out coordinated missile strikes on government targets in Syria. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that this attack was a “decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure”. According to the Pentagon, the US, the UK and France launched 105 missiles at the alleged “chemical weapons” facilities of the Assad government:

  • 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles;
  • 20 Storm Shadow/SCALP EG air-launched cruise missiles;
  • 19 AGM-158 JASSM air-launched cruise missiles.

The Pentagon alleged that all the missiles hit their targets:

  • 76 missiles hit “Barzah Research and Development Center”;
  • 22 missiles hit “Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Storage Site”;
  • 7 missiles hit “Him Shinshar CW Bunker”.

According to data provided by the Russian Defense Ministry:

  • 22 US, French, British missiles hit their targets;
  • 46 missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defense systems covering the capital of Syria and the nearby airfields at Duvali, Dumayr, Blai, and Mazzeh;
  • 20 missiles were intercepted in three areas within the zone of responsibility of Syrian air defenses of Homs;
  • a number of missiles failed to reach their targets due to apparent technical reasons.

The Russians also revealed wreckage of the intercepted missiles and displayed at least one unexploded Tomahawk cruise missile. The ministry of defense added that two unexploded missiles (a Tomahawk and a high-accuracy air-launched missile) had been recovered and delivered to Russia from Syria. Russia also carried out its own investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma and stated that its results showed that the attack was a staged provocation. Russian specialists also found and interviewed people, doctors and alleged victims filmed by the White Helmets in a video allegedly showing the aftermath of the chemical attack.

On April 27, Russian and Syrian officials as well as witnesses of the alleged chemical attack participated in a press conference in The Hague. The event was entitled “Presentation by the representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation with direct participants of the fake video produced by ‘White Helmets’ on 7th April 2018, in the Hospital of Douma”.  The data provided during the press conference debunked the Western-backed version of the events. Russia brought 17 witnesses of the incident, as well as Douma hospital staff members to The Hague. OPCW technical experts interviewed only 6 of 17 witnesses.

Both the Khan Shaykhun and Douma incidents developed via similar scenarios with the US-led coalition carrying out cruise missile strikes on the basis of claims from militants without conducting any investigation. In the both cases the actual effectiveness of the US-led missile strikes were much less than the Pentagon had claimed. Some assert that both military actions appeared to be more of a PR campaign conducted by the Trump administration meant to make the president appear tough on Russia.

Other military experts link the high rate of missile intercept and technical failure to assistance provided by the Russian military deployed in Syria. While air defense systems of the Russian military group in Syria were not employed directly, Russian air defense forces likely provided the Syrian military with vital operational data and targeted the incoming missiles with their own electronic warfare capabilities.

Reconciliation, Humanitarian and Security Operations

The cases of Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, the Rastan pocket and other regions demonstrated that Russia’s leadership appeared to be aware of both the limits of the country’s power and of what can be accomplished using solely military means. Almost immediately after the start of the anti-terrorist campaign in Syria, Russian forces started participating in humanitarian operations across the country. The Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, headquartered at the Khmeimim Air Base in the Syrian Arab Republic, is the main force carrying out humanitarian operations and promoting reconciliation efforts.

The Centre was established on February 23, 2016, four days ahead of the first Russian-US backed ceasefire [started on February 27, 2016], which was designed to cease hostilities and to separate moderate opposition from the many terrorist groups operating in the country. The ceasefire failed, because of the inability of the US-backed militant groups to separate themselves from Jabhat al-Nusra. Nonetheless, since then the Centre has become one of the key factors influencing the ongoing resolution of the conflict. There are 5 main organization units of the Center:

  • a group engaged in analysis and planning;
  • a group of negotiators;
  • a group dedicated to cooperation with foreign organizations;
  • a group for informational support;
  • a group focused on providing humanitarian aid.

Servicemen of the Center played a key role in reaching withdrawal or reconciliation agreements with militant groups in such areas as Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, Wadi Barada and Rastan. On almost a daily basis, the Center provides bulletins providing info on its activities and the military situation in the region. Thanks to the work of the Centre, over 2,500 settlements have joined the ceasefire regime by June 2018. The number of armed formations that have joined the ceasefire regime is 234.

Humanitarian corridors were also established at the contact line between the militant-held part of Idlib province and the government-held area. These corridors allow civilians to leave the area controlled by militant groups. Russian specialists also established mobile units which they use to provide medical aid to civilians. In general, about 300 people receive medical help on a daily basis.

Units of the Russian Military Police have been spotted in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Rastan and other areas where reconciliation or withdrawal agreements have been reached with militants. The goal of these units is to monitor implementation of the agreements and to assist Syrian forces in restoring law and order in the liberated areas.

International Reaction and Propaganda

Since the very start, Russian military actions in Syria have faced strong criticism from the mainstream media and governments of the US-led bloc. Opponents of the Russian military operation have used and continue to use the following theses:

  1. The conflict in Syria will be a second Afghanistan for Russia;
  2. The key goal of the Russian military operation is to combat the moderate opposition, not ISIS or al-Qaeda (also known in Syria as Jabhat al-Nusra);
  3. Russia supports the bloody Assad regime, which has no legitimacy and is hated by the entire population;
  4. Russia participates in indiscriminate bombings of targets and uses unguided, conventional “dumb” bombs thus causing a high degree of civilian casualties;
  5. Russian forces suffer casualties on a constant basis but the Kremlin is hiding them;
  6. The Russian Defense Ministry is an unreliable source of information in comparison to the Pentagon or the US Department of State or even to such “independent” organizations as the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, the White Helmets and Bellingcat.

These claims are especially interesting, because they exploit the audience’s lack of information about the conflict and mix facts with exaggerations or even outright lies. While the Russian side is also far from being innocent in promoting a one-sided version of the story, the US and its allies have a much larger and better funded media conglomerate by which to spread their propaganda. Mistakes of the Russian Defense Ministry in the coverage of its military operation in the country also played their own role.

Three examples of such high profile public speaking mistakes:

  • On November 14, 2017 an official page of the Russian Defense Ministry released fake photos [old photos from Iraq and a screenshot from a video game] to illustrate a statement on interaction between the US-led international coalition and militants of ISIS. Later, the defense ministry said that a civil employee attached the wrong photos to the post and the incident was under investigation; however, no details on the result of this investigation were provided.
  • In the third part of Oliver Stone’s Showtime special “The Putin Interviews” broadcasted from June 12 to June 15, 2017 Putin took out a cellphone to show Stone a clip of how Russian aircraft were striking militants in Syria. The video that appeared was US gun camera footage originally filmed in Afghanistan in 2013.
  • On October 24, 2017, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that since the start of the operation in Syria, 503,223 km2 were liberated from terrorists. The problem here is that Syria’s total area is about 185,180 km2. Shoigu’s figure is 2.71 times larger than the entire country as it existed before the conflict.

One could describe these incidents as probable acts of informational sabotage. Putin does not use a personal cellphone, so some person had to have prepared the video beforehand. A Defense Ministry staffer provided Shoigu with the grossly incorrect figure, and someone released obviously fake photos via the defense ministry’s social media page. Were these very amateurish mistakes, or calculated sabotage? It is most probable that all of these cases are the result of the gross negligence or low quality of work of some middle to low level staffers involved in providing informational support concerning Russia’s military actions in Syria.

Only a small portion of the Russian Defense Ministry’s statements can be found on its website. Content demonstrated during press conferences – maps, photos and detailed information – is not translated into English and is not uploaded to the official ministry website after press conferences. The Russian mainstream media, such as Sputniknews and RT, do not attempt to cover all of the facts and details revealed during the press briefings. Thus, a major part of the audience, especially an English-speaking audience, remain uninformed about key facts and evidence provided. This situation is another factor allowing the Western mainstream media, pundits and experts to ignore the key arguments of the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance and to push their own narrative.

Two major examples of this:

On April 25, 2018 Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy held a press briefing providing details on the results of the April 14 US-led missile strike on Syria. Colonel General Rudskoy demonstrated a presentation that included maps with locations and details of the missile interceptions and multiple photos of the intercepted missiles with comments explaining what they illustrated – all in Russian. Some vestiges of the intercepted missiles were also showcased during the press conference.

None of the content demonstrated by Colonel General Rudskoy was uploaded online following the press briefing. None of the content demonstrated was translated into English and covered in detail by RT, Sputniknews or any other Russian mainstream English-language media outlets. Even a detailed photo-report showing the vestiges of the intercepted missiles demonstrated during the press conference can hardly be found in English reporting of the event.

On April 26, 2018 Syrian and Russian officials held a press conference in The Hague. As previously stated, it was entitled “Presentation by the representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation with direct participants of the fake video produced by ‘White Helmets’ on 7th April 2018, in the Hospital of Douma”. The press conference included a detailed overview of the results of the Russian-Syrian investigation of the April 7 incident in Douma with photos, videos, and statements from experts and eyewitnesses. None of the content demonstrated during the 2 hour press conference was uploaded online. No comprehensive coverage of the entire story, including facts and details, provided during the event appeared in the Russian mainstream media’s English language reporting.

As a result, the Western mainstream media was able to ignore these events and Western officials denounced them as propaganda stunts, while not addressing any of the facts or evidence provided by the Russian side, demonstrating the sad fact that if something does not exist for the English-speaking audience, it does not exist at all. Another failure of the Russian media is the unclear opinion expressed regarding the status of PMCs involved in the conflict. Private military companies and mercenaries are illegal in Russia, at least officially; however, such entities do exist and their members have been participating in the conflict for quite some time.

Here is an example how the MSM and U.S. officials exploit this official ambiguity:

On February 8, 2018 the US-led coalition released a statement saying that on February 7th it had struck “pro-regime forces” attacking “Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters” in the Euphrates Valley. According to local sources, the US strikes hit pro-government forces in the area between the village of Khasham (controlled by the government) and the CONICO gas facility (controlled by the SDF). Pro-government forces, supported by some PMCs, were allegedly trying to recapture the gas facility from the SDF.

The Pentagon stated that the strikes were defensive. The Russian side said that the US had attacked local militias carrying out operations against ISIS cells. However, the difference in these claims is not the most interesting part.

Almost immediately after the first reports of the US strikes, western MSM outlets started releasing reports based on anonymous sources that stated that between 100 and 300 “pro-Assad fighters” were killed by the strikes. A few days later, once again relying on anonymous sources, 100 to 300 allegedly killed “pro-Assad fighters” morphed into 100 to 300 killed “Russian fighters” – i.e. PMCs. Some “experts” and outlets even claimed that this number was much higher, in the realm of 600 killed.

The story developed further on April 12, when Michael Pompeo, then the CIA director recently nominated to be US State Secretary, claimed that the US had killed “a couple hundred Russians”. On April 20, US President Donald Trump provided his own statement based on the same story, claiming that there was a direct engagement between US and Russian troops in Syria and “many people died in that fight”.

This entire story demonstrates how a clear media forgery could reach the wide international audience and start being repeated as a fact. Since February 7, when the strikes took place, there has been zero evidence that can confirm any major casualties among Russian PMCs in this incident. 300 or 600 killed Russians in Syria is not something that can be hidden; however, no photos or videos of the bodies, names or any other evidence has ever been presented. The analysis of open data made by both pro-Syrian and pro-US analysts has concluded that 5 Russians may have reportedly died during the week when the US strikes took place. However, no details regarding the nature of their deaths are available. Sources in the SAA and other pro-government formations also deny any such casualties among Russian PMCs.

On February 14, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that five “presumably Russian citizens” could have been killed in Syria and described reports about “mass” casualties among the Russians as fake news.  The MSM has continued repeating the “300-600 killed Russians” story for almost half a year now. The narrative works because there is no official data on Russian PMCs in Syria. The MSM can effectively repeat a story which has no factual basis, while claiming that the Kremlin is hiding hundreds of casualties, because the Russian government continues to maintain a position of strategic ambiguity regarding the issue of Russian PMCs’ activities in Syria.

The Russians forgot to create their own army of NGOs and activist groups that would be able to oppose a media campaign run against them by the White Helmets, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Bellingcat and other organizations that claim impartiality, but are funded and promoted by the US and its allies. Only the many hard-won military victories on the ground allowed the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance to compensate for the many setbacks faced in the information war being waged by the US-led bloc and its massive media arsenal.

Diplomacy

During the time the operation in Syria was being conducted, Russia was acting amid growing sanctions pressure and tensions with the US. Despite this, Russia has appeared to be capable of changing the course of the war and imposing its own diplomatic formats to work towards and achieve a political solution to the conflict.

The table below provides a look at state and non-state actors involved in the conflict in terms of their relations with Russia:

Russian Military Campaign in Syria 2015-2018

Initially, the Russians made two early attempts to negotiate a semblance of an agreement with the US in order to establish a wide-ranging ceasefire across Syria and to separate the so-called moderate opposition from terrorist groups – Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies. The first deal was announced on February 22, 2016. It took effect on February 27, 2016. However, by July 2016, it had appeared that the US and its allies were not fulfilling their part of the agreement. The separation of moderate militant groups from terrorist groups had also failed. Furthermore, Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies used this time, with assistance from their foreign backers, to re-group and re-supply their forces in preparation for the battle of Aleppo.

The second attempt was made on September 10, 2016. The ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia started on September 12. Jabhat al-Nusra, ISIS and other terrorist groups were once again excluded from the cessation of hostilities. At the very same time, the battle of Aleppo entered its final stage. Jabhat al-Nusra-led forces were fiercely fighting the SAA in the city and were not going to obey any terms of the agreement, seeing this as a de-facto surrender. On October 3, the US announced its withdrawal from the deal accusing the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance of violating it.

Both of these cease-fire initiatives collapsed, because the sides had pursued very different and divergent goals. The US saw these ceasefires as a tool to interrupt a series of victories by the SAA across the country and to prevent the Assad government from liberating the city of Aleppo. It appears that the Russian side genuinely hoped to launch a bilateral cooperation with the US to de-escalate the conflict, to separate the opposition from the terrorists and to create conditions to deliver a devastating blow to Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS.

Meanwhile, Turkey made attempts to normalize relations with Russia. After the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 jet in Syria on November 24, 2015, Moscow deployed additional forces to Syria, broke contact with the Turkish military and imposed painful economic sanctions on Ankara. By June 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the rest of Turkish leadership had come to the conclusion that they had to restore economic and military cooperation with Russia. Ankara appeared to be drawing into Russia’s sphere of influence, at least as far as working on mutually beneficial end to the conflict.

In December, Turkey, Iran and Russia announced that they were launching a new format of negotiations on the Syrian conflict, which would be held in the Kazakh capital of Astana. The first round of the Astana talks took place on January 23 and 24, 2017 involving the Syrian government and a reasonably constructive element of the Syrian opposition. Turkey, Iran and Russia participated as the guarantor states.

During the fourth round of the Astana talks in May 2017, Moscow, Ankara and Teheran signed a memorandum on the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria that included the militant-held parts of Aleppo, Idlib and Hama provinces, the Rastan pocket in northern Homs, the Eastern Ghouta region and the area near the Syrian-Jordanian border. ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies were excluded from the agreement. This time around the agreement worked, because the guarantor states did not pursue contradictory goals. The situation improved and conflict in a significant portion of the country was de-escalated, while operations against radical militant groups were able to continue.

Considering that the Geneva peace talks soon discredited themselves, proving useless as a format of effective change on the ground in Syria, the Astana talks became the main diplomatic format influencing the many parties involved to resolve or deescalate the conflict. Technically, the US and Israel were excluded from negotiations on the situation in central, western and northwestern Syria. There are two main formats of Russia’s contacts with the US and Israel:

  • Contacts in order to avoid direct engagement between Russian and Israeli forces and between Russian and US forces;
  • Contacts between Israel and Russia over the situation in southern Syria, close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

While Israel remains capable of carrying out airstrikes on separate targets in Syria, making loud diplomatic statements and threatening to employ any measures in order to combat Iranian forces in Syria, it has very few real options to influence the strategic situation in Syria at this point. From 2015 to 2018, the Israeli position in the conflict worsened significantly. The Assad government has remained in power and the Iranian presence in Syria, both politically and military, has increased.

On February 10, 2018, the Syrian military shot down an F-16I fighter jet of the Israeli Air Force which was engaged in targeting government positions or assets in Southern Syria. This is the first case of Israel losing a combat aircraft to an enemy combatant since 1982. Despite the increased number of Israeli strikes over the past two years, their effectiveness has decreased and the Syrian air defense forces have begun to respond more actively.

The current situation in southern Syria also shows how Russia limits Israeli actions through diplomatic channels. Tel Aviv has repeatedly stated that any SAA advance in the area is unacceptable, because it would lead to further deployment of Iranian forces there. However, the SAA operation there has been launched without any response, possibly because Russia has helped to limit or prohibit Iranian involvement. Throughout the conflict, the attitude exhibited by Russian diplomacy has been close to that of the Iranian leadership. While Russia and Iran had joint military goals in many respects, there were notable differences in their diplomatic attitudes, most notably their respective attitudes towards Israel. These differences of opinion may lead to changes in the status of their cooperation in resolving the conflict once the overt military phase has ended.

Conclusion

In military terms, the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance must continue to pursue the following goals:

  • To eliminate the remaining ISIS cells operating in the central Syria desert;
  • To increase pressure on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the provinces of Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo in the framework of the de-escalation agreement reached during the Astana talks.

The Russian Special Operations Forces and the Aerospace Forces will continue providing support to government forces in their key operations against terrorists. Nonetheless, the direct involvement of Russian forces will decrease, while negotiators on the ground and on a higher diplomatic level, will play an increasingly important role. The defeat of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the province of Idlib will require at least a limited coordination with Turkey and a large-scale humanitarian operation to evacuate civilians from the area controlled by the terrorist group.

In turn, the US will continue working on establishing independent governing bodies that will aim to manage the areas held by the coalition and the SDF and that will be hostile to the Assad government. This effort is obstructed by a complicated situation in the coalition-occupied areas, because of the tensions between the Kurdish-dominated SDF and the local Arab population. Indeed, Kurdish SDF units have already complicated relations with US-backed Arab armed groups, which are also a part of the SDF.

At the same time, US-Turkish relations will continue to experience friction over US military support to Kurdish armed groups, which are the core of the SDF. Ankara describes these groups as terrorist organizations. Continued US support for armed Kurdish groups may further increase the likelihood of improved Russian-Turkish relations and greater cooperation between Ankara and Moscow in how deal with resolving the Syrian conflict. Ankara will continue to pressure Washington to abandon its Kurdish proxies at every turn, and every US attempt to avoid this reality faces will be met with another Turkish move to boost economic and military cooperation with Russia.

Furthermore, Russian-Turkish relations are being strengthened by major joint economic and military deals, including the TurkStream gas pipeline, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and the S-400 air defense system deal. These cooperative economic and military arrangements will continue to increase tensions between Washington and Ankara.

The successful military operation in Syria has undoubtedly boosted the Russian role in the Middle East region in general, allowing it to act as a mediator in conflicts between nations. Moscow actively cooperates with Teheran supporting the Assad government and combating terrorism in Syria. At the same time; however, Russia has been able to leverage its reputation as the global power that is willing and capable of working with other regional players, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in order to settle the conflict in Syria, thus avoiding a large-scale escalation or even a wider war in the region.

Through its campaign in Syria, Moscow promoted its economic interests. President Bashar al-Assad and other officials have repeatedly stated that Syria is going to grant all the contracts on restoration of the country’s infrastructure to its allies – i.e. Iran and Russia. Russian companies are already participating in the energy projects, both oil and natural gas, in the country and are preparing to expand their presence in the country. Syria will be able to rebuild after a devastating war and Russia will increase its economic and political power in the region, while further securing economic benefits for its citizens at home.

The operation also contributed to Russia’s national security. As it was noted in the start of this video, Russia has always been a target of terrorist activity of various radical groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda. Some Western state actors have endorsed at least a part of this activity. It is notable that no major terrorist attacks have been carried out inside Russia since 2015. Russian forces eliminated a large number of militants in Syria who were members of terrorist groups originating in its Southern Caucasus regions created in the post-USSR era. This is already proving to be a major blow to the remaining cells of these groups hiding in Russia, because they have lost their most experienced and ideologically motivated members in Syria. The expansion of Russian military infrastructure, including naval and air bases in Syria, shows that Moscow is not going to withdraw from the country in the near future. Russia will continue its efforts to defeat terrorism and to settle the conflict using a variety of military and diplomatic measures.

*

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

  • Posted in English, Mobile
  • Comments Off on Video: Counter-Terrorism and Russia’s Military Campaign in Syria (2015-2018)
  • Tags: ,