Trump Expels 60% of Cuban Diplomats

October 8th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Featured image: Embassy of Cuba in Washington (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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Frosty bilateral relations got frostier. In August, on the pretext of harmful physical symptoms experienced by US embassy personnel in Havana, the Trump administration expelled two Cuban diplomats from the country’s embassy in Washington.

At the time, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry stressed its government “has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families.”

It reiterated “its willingness to cooperate in the clarification of this situation.” Cuba justifiably objects being lectured to by the world’s leading aggressor/human rights abuser about its diplomatic obligations, human rights or anything else.

“The United States is not in a position to give us lessons,” its Foreign Ministry said. It objected to the expulsion of its citizens.

Add 15 more to their numbers. On Tuesday, the Trump administration expelled them, following Washington’s move to cut its Havana embassy staff by a proportional number, allegedly in response to a mysterious illness Cuba had nothing to do with.

Irresponsibly blaming its government along with expelling its diplomats further sours relations.

Neocon Senator Marco Rubio applauded the move, deplorably calling it “the right decision.”

On Monday, AP News reported the following:

“…US spies were among the first and most severely affected victims. Though bona fide diplomats have also been affected, it wasn’t until intelligence operatives, working under diplomatic cover, reported bizarre sounds and even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, several individuals familiar with the situation said.”

Last week, the Trump administration warned Americans to stay away from Cuba, falsely saying they risked being attacked in Havana, the warning targeting the country’s travel industry.

The State Department said Cuba’s ambassador to Washington was informed of the expulsions Tuesday morning by telephone. Affected diplomatic staff must leave in seven days.

Rex Tillerson issued a statement, saying Cuban personnel were expelled because their government “fail(ed) to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention. (T)his order will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations.”

Cuba did nothing to make US diplomatic staff ill. Washington earlier admitted it, calling what happened “incidents,” avoiding the word “attacks.”

Last week, things changed, the Trump administration claiming what happened was deliberate, offering no evidence proving it.

Cuba wasn’t accused of complicity in what happened, Tillerson saying

“(w)e continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and will continue to cooperate with Cuba as we pursue the investigation into these attacks.”

What caused the illnesses remains a mystery. There’s nothing mysterious about US hostility toward Cuba for nearly 60 years – because of its anti-imperialism and sovereign independence.

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

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

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Featured image: Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly swore in a “parallel” Supreme Court on July 21, 2017. (Source: asambleanacional.gov.ve)

The Organization of American States (OAS) is preparing to swear in a “parallel” Venezuelan Supreme Court on October 13, members of the de facto judicial body have reported. 

“We will be able to issue pronouncements addressed to government and authorities so they open investigations against (Venezuelan) officials who may have committed crimes against humanity, drug trafficking, or money laundering,” declared prospective judge Pedro Troconis, who will be sworn in as part of the de facto court’s penal appeal tribunal. 

The move comes months after the opposition-held National Assembly (AN) swore in 33 new Supreme Court justices on July 21, claiming that the sitting judges are “illegitimate”.

Institutional standoff 

The Supreme Court and the AN have been locked in a tense standoff since July 2016 when the latter defied a court order and swore in three legislators under investigation for voter fraud. The parliament has refused to heed the high court ruling and has consequently had all its actions declared “null and void” since that date.

The AN has repeatedly attempted to unseat the justices on the grounds that they were allegedly appointed illegally in December 2015 by the outgoing Chavista-controlled parliament. However, the motions were blocked by the then ombudsman and current attorney general, Tarek William Saab, who found no legal justification for the judges’ dismissal.

The institutional crisis escalated in the context of violent anti-government protests demanding early presidential elections, which erupted following a controversial Supreme Court ruling authorizing the judiciary to exercise certain legislative functions.

In the midst of nearly four months of street mobilizations that led to the deaths of at least 126 people, the AN went ahead and unilaterally swore in its own Supreme Court justices as part of a bid to form an internationally recognized “parallel government” in opposition to the elected Maduro administration.

The de facto justices were declared “usurpers” by the national government and were immediately subject to arrest, while others fled the country.

OAS backing 

In August, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro invited the 33 de facto justices to the organization’s headquarters in Washington where he recognized them as “legitimate” and pledged his support.

Recibí a Magistrados del TSJ designados x @AsambleaVE a quienes expresé mi reconocimiento x trabajo en defensa de Estado de Derecho #Vzlapic.twitter.com/NVxGAxKvYv

— Luis Almagro (@Almagro_OEA2015) August 24, 2017

Tweet reads: "I received TSJ judges designated by the Venzuelan National Assembly to whom I expressed my recognition for their work in defense of the rule of law".

Tweet reads: “I received TSJ judges designated by the Venzuelan National Assembly to whom I expressed my recognition for their work in defense of the rule of law”.

Meanwhile this past week, one of the judges, Antonio Marval, appeared in photos with Almagro and far right Florida Senator Marco Rubio, claiming that the “parallel” Supreme Court would soon be set up in the OAS.

“Preparations are already underway at the OAS for the establishment of the legitimate TSJ (Supreme Court),” he said, as reported by Miami-based El Venezolano Tv.

Magistrado Antonio Marval “Estamos viviendo un momento inédito para la historia contemporánea de Venezuela”.#27Septiembrepic.twitter.com/Rlm5lJgtQd

— EVTV Miami (@EVTVMiami) September 27, 2017

Tweet reads: Judge Antonio Marval "We are living an unprecedented moment in the contemporary history of Venezuela".

Tweet reads: Judge Antonio Marval “We are living an unprecedented moment in the contemporary history of Venezuela”.

“Our measures will be of an international character and compliance will be obligatory for the Venezuelan state,” he continued.

According to Troconis, the de facto justices chose the OAS as the site for their “parallel” court because they consider it an “impartial organization with a considerable number of states (represented)”.

The OAS has, however, yet to confirm that it will swear in the judges next week. It remains unclear if OAS Secretary General Almagro possesses the authority to go forward with such a move without the approval of the body’s Permanent Council, which contains numerous Venezuelan allies.

Caracas has likewise yet to respond to the announced swearing in. Nonetheless, the Venezuelan government has long been at odds with the OAS chief, whom it has accused of pushing US-led intervention in the South American country.

Last month, Almagro issued a fourth report on Venezuela, calling for “increasingly severe sanctions” and demanding Caracas be slapped with the OAS Democratic Charter.

Earlier this year, Venezuela initiated the two-year withdrawal process from the OAS, alleging pro-US bias on the part of Almagro and the Washington-based regional body.

Uncertain US position

While the Trump administration has not yet taken a public position regarding the de facto Supreme Court at the OAS, in August the State Department issued a statement rejecting the establishment of a “parallel” opposition government.

“We don’t necessarily recognize parallel or separate governments. We respect the official government of Venezuela and President Maduro at this moment,” said the US State Department deputy assistant secretary for South America, Michael Fitzpatrick, during an August 1 interview.

At the time, the declaration was interpreted as a vindication of more moderate sections of the Venezuelan opposition committed to participating in regional elections.

Nonetheless, Fitzpatrick’s statement has been followed by escalating US actions targeting Caracas, including financial sanctions, a travel ban against Venezuelan officials, and threats of military intervention.

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As seen in my previous article, US military power is on the decline, and the effects are palpable. In a world full of conflicts brought on by Washington, the economic and financial shifts that are occurring are for many countries a long-awaited and welcome development.

If we were to identify what uniquely fuels American imperialism and its aspirations for global hegemony, the role of the US dollar would figure prominently. An exploration of the depth of the dollar’s effects on the world economy is therefore necessary in order to understand the consequential geopolitical developments that have occurred over the last few decades.

The reason the dollar plays such an important role in the world economy is due to the following three major factors: the petrodollar; the dollar as world reserve currency; and Nixon’s decision in 1971 to no longer make the dollar convertible into gold. As is easy to guess, the petrodollar strongly influenced the composition of the SDR basket, making the dollar the world reserve currency, spelling grave implications for the global economy due to Nixon’s decision to eliminate the dollar’s convertibility into gold. Most of the problems for the rest of the world began from a combination of these three factors.

Dollar-Petrodollar-Gold

The largest geo-economic change in the last fifty years was arguably implemented in 1973 with the agreement between OPEC, Saudi Arabia and the United States to sell oil exclusively in dollars.

Specifically, Nixon arranged with Saudi King Faisal for Saudis to only accept dollars as a payment for oil and related investments, recycling billions of excess dollars into US treasury bills and other dollar-based financial resources. In exchange, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries came under American military protection. It reminds one of a mafia-style arrangement: the Saudis are obliged to conduct business in US dollars according to terms and conditions set by the US with little argument, and in exchange they receive generous protection.

The second factor, perhaps even more consequential for the global economy, is the dollar becoming the world reserve currency and maintaining a predominant role in the basket of international foreign-exchange reserves of the IMF ever since 1981. The role of the dollar, linked obviously to the petrodollar trade, has almost always maintained a share of more than 40% of the Special Drawing Right (SDR) basket, while the euro has maintained a stable share of 29-37% since 2001. In order to understand the economic change in progress, it is sufficient to observe that the yuan is now finally included in the SDR, with an initial 10% share that is immediately higher than the yen (8.3%) and sterling (8.09%) but significantly less than the dollar (41%) and euro (31%). Slowly but significantly Yuan currency is becoming more and more used in global trade.

The reason why the United States has been able to fuel this global demand for dollars is linked to the need for other countries to own dollars in order to be able to buy oil and other goods. For example, if a Bolivian company exports bananas to Norway, the payment method requires the use of dollars. Norway must therefore own US currency to pay and receive the goods purchased. Similarly, the dollars Bolivia receives will be used to buy other necessities like oil from Venezuela. It may seem unbelievable, but practically all countries until a few years ago used US dollars to trade amongst each other, even countries that were anti-American and against US imperialist policies.

This continued use of the dollar has had some devastating effects on the globe. First of all, the intense use of the American currency, coupled with Nixon’s decisions, created an economic standard based on the dollar that soon replaced precious metals like gold, which had been the standard for the global economy for years. This has led to major instability and to economic systems that have in the proceeding years created disastrous financial policies, as seen in 2000 and 2008, for example. The main source of economic reliability transferred from gold to dollars, specifically to US treasury bills. This major shift allowed the Federal Reserve to print dollars practically without limit (as seen in recent years with interests rates for borrowing money from the FED at around 0%), well aware that the demand for dollars would never cease, this also keeping alive huge sectors of private and public enterprises (such as the fracking industry). This set a course for a global economic system based on financial instruments like derivatives and other securities instead of real, tangible goods like gold. In doing this for its own benefit, the US has created the conditions for a new financial bubble that could even bring down the entire world economy when it bursts.

The United States found itself in the enviable position of being able to print pieces of paper (simply IOU’s) without any gold backing and then exchange them for real goods. This economic arrangement has allowed Washington to achieve an unparalleled strategic advantage over its geopolitical opponents (initially the USSR, now Russia and China), namely, a practically unlimited dollar-spending capacity even as it accumulates an astronomical public debt (about 21 trillion dollars). The destabilizing factor for the global economy has been Washington’s ability to accumulate enormous amounts of public debt without having to worry about the consequences or even of any possible mistrust international markets may have for the dollar. Countries simply needed dollars for trade and bought US treasures to diversify their financial assets.

The continued use of the dollar as a means of payment for almost everything, coupled with the nearly infinite capacity of the of FED to print money and the Treasury to issue bonds, has led the dollar to become the primary safe refuge for organizations, countries and individuals, legitimizing this perverse financial system that has affected global peace for decades.

Dollars and War: The End?

The problems for the United States began in the late 1990s, at a time of expansion for the US empire following the demise of the Soviet Union. The stated geopolitical goal was the achievement of global hegemony. With unlimited spending capacity and an ideology based on American exceptionalism, this attempt seemed to be within reach for the policymakers at the Pentagon and Wall Street. A key element for achieving global hegemony consisted of stopping China, Russia and Iran from creating a Eurasian area of integration. For many years, and for various reasons, these three countries continued to conduct large-scale trade in US dollars, bowing to the economic dictates of a fraudulent financial system created for the benefit of the United States. China needed to continue in its role of becoming the world’s factory, always having accepted dollar payments and buying hundreds of billions of US treasury bills. With Putin, Russia began almost immediately to de-dollarize, repaying foreign debts in dollars, trying to offload this economic pressure. Russia is today one of the countries in the world with the least amount of public and private debt denominated in dollars, and the recent prohibition on the use of US dollars in Russian seaports is the latest example. For Iran, the problem has always been represented by sanctions, creating great incentives to bypass the dollar and find alternative means of payment.

The decisive factor that changed the perception of countries like China and Russia was the 2008 financial crisis, as well as growing US aggression ever since the events in Yugoslavia in 1999. The Iraq war, along with other factors, prevented Saddam from starting an oil trade in euro, which threatened the dollar’s financial hegemony in the Middle East. War and the America’s continued presence in Afghanistan stressed Washington’s intentions to continue encircling China, Russia and Iran in order to prevent any Eurasian integration. Naturally, the more the dollar was used in the world, the more Washington had the power to spend on the military. For the US, paying a bill of 6 trillion dollars (this is the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) has been effortless, and this constitutes an unparalleled advantage over countries like China and Russia whose military spending in comparison is a fifth and a tenth respectively.

The repeated failed attempts to conquer, subvert and control countries like Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Donbass, North Korea, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Venezuela, have had significant effects on the perception of US military power. In military terms, Washington faced numerous tactical and strategic defeats, with the Crimean peninsula returning to Russia without a shot fired and with the West unable to react. In Donbass, the resistance inflicted huge losses on the NATO-supported Ukrainian army. In North Africa, Egypt is now under the control of the army, following an attempt to turn the country into a state under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Libya, after being destroyed, is now divided into three entities, and like Egypt seems to be looking with favorable regard towards Moscow and Beijing. In the Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq are increasingly cooperating in stabilizing regional conflicts, where needed they are backed by Russian military power and Chinese economic strength. And of course the DPRK continues to ignore US military threats and has fully developed its conventional and nuclear deterrent, effectively making those US threats null and void.

Color revolutions, hybrid warfare, economic terrorism, and proxy attempts to destabilize these countries have had devastating effects on Washington’s military credibility and effectiveness. The United States finds itself being considered by many countries to be a massive war apparatus that struggles to get what it wants, struggles to achieve coherent common goals, and even lacks the capability to control countries like Iraq and Afghanistan in spite of its overwhelming military superiority.

No One Fears You!

Until a few decades ago, any idea of straying away from the petrodollar was seen as a direct threat to American global hegemony, requiring of a military response. In 2017, given the decline in US credibility as a result of triggering wars against smaller countries (leaving aside countries like Russia, China, and Iran that have military capabilities the likes of which the US has not faced for more than seventy years), a general recession from the dollar-based system is taking place in many countries.

In recent years, it has become clear to many nations opposing Washington that the only way to adequately contain the fallout from the collapsing US empire is to progressively abandon the dollar. This serves to limit Washington’s capacity for military spending by creating the necessary alternative tools in the financial and economic realms that will eliminate Washington’s dominance. This is essential in the Russo-Sino-Iranian strategy to unite Eurasia and thereby render the US irrelevant.

De-dollarization for Beijing, Moscow and Tehran has become a strategic priority. Eliminating the unlimited spending capacity of the FED and the American economy means limiting US imperialist expansion and diminishing global destabilization. Without the usual US military power to strengthen and impose the use of US dollars, China, Russia and Iran have paved the way for important shifts in the global order.

The US shot itself in the foot by accelerating this process through their removal of Iran from the SWIFT system (paving the way for the Chinese alternative, known as CIPS) and imposing sanctions on countries like Russia, Iran and Venezuela. This also accelerated China and Russia’s mining and acquisition of physical gold, which is in direct contrast to the situation in the US, with rumors of the FED no longer possessing any more gold. It is no secret that Beijing and Moscow are aiming for a gold-backed currency if and when the dollar should collapse. This has pushed unyielding countries to start operating in a non-dollar environment and through alternative financial systems.

A perfect example of how this is being achieved can be seen with Saudi Arabia, which has represented the crux of the petrodollar.

De-dollarize

Beijing has started putting strong pressure on Riyadh to start accepting yuan payments for oil instead of dollars, as are other countries such as the Russian Federation. For Riyadh, this is an almost existential issue. Riyadh is in a delicate situation, dedicated as it is to keeping the US dollar tied to oil, even though its main ally, the US, has pursued in the Middle East a contradictory strategy, as seen with the JCPOA agreement. Iran, the main regional enemy of Saudi Arabia, was able to have sanctions lifted (especially from Europeans countries) thanks to the JCPOA. In addition, Iran was able to pursue a historic victory with its allies in Syria, gaining a preeminent role in the region and aspiring to become a regional powerhouse. Riyadh is obliged to obey the US, an ally that does not care about its fate in the region (Iran is increasingly influential in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon) and is even competing in the oil market. To make matters worse for Washington, China is Riyadh’s largest customer; and considering the agreements with Nigeria and Russia, Beijing can safely stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia should Riyadh continue to insist on receiving payment only in dollars. This would badly hurt the petrodollar, a perverse system that damages China and Russia most of all.

For China, Iran and Russia, as well as other countries, de-dollarization has become a pressing issue. The number of countries that are beginning to see the benefits of a decentralized system, as opposed to the US dollar system, is increasing. Iran and India, but also Iran and Russia, have often traded hydrocarbons in exchange for primary goods, thereby bypassing American sanctions. Likewise, China’s economic power has allowed it to open a 10-billion-euro line of credit to Iran to circumvent recent sanctions. Even the DPRK seems to use cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to buy oil from China and bypass US sanctions. Venezuela (with the largest oil reserves in the world) has just started a historic move to completely renounce selling oil in dollars, and has announced that it will start receiving money in a basket of currencies without US dollars. (This is not to mention the biggest change to have occurred in the last 40 years). Beijing will buy gas and oil from Russia by paying in yuan, with Moscow being able to convert yuan into gold immediately thanks to the Shanghai International Energy Exchange. This gas-yuan-gold mechanism signals a revolutionary economic change through the progressive abandonment of the dollar in trade.

In the next and last article, we will concentrate on how successful Russia, Iran and China have been in forging a multipolar world order with the goal of peacefully containing the fallout from the collapsing American empire, and how this alternative world order is opening up a new geopolitical landscape for America’s allies and other countries.

Federico Pieraccini is an independent freelance writer specialized in international affairs, conflicts, politics and strategies.

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

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Britain to Criminalize Reading Online Extremist Content

October 7th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Featured image: MP Amber Rudd (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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Like America, Britain is unfit and unsafe to live in – both countries police states, serving privileged interests exclusively, allied in waging wars OF terror in multiple theaters, along with abolishing fundamental homeland freedoms.

The latest civil rights abuse came from hardline home secretary Amber Rudd. She’s spearheading a Tory effort to criminalize readership of so-called extremist content online – punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The same holds for anyone publishing content Tories call extremist, especially about Britain’s military, intelligence services and police that could be considered related to preparing terrorist acts.

“I want to make sure those who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions, face the full force of the law,” Rudd blustered, adding:

“There is currently a gap in the law around material (that) is viewed or streamed from the Internet without being permanently downloaded.”

“This is an increasingly common means by which material is accessed online for criminal purposes and is a particularly prevalent means of viewing extremist material such as videos and web pages.”

A Home Office analysis showed thousands of online ISIS tweets and other material over the past year.

Unmentioned was US and UK support for the terrorist group, recruiting, arming, funding, training and directing its fighters, using them as imperial foot soldiers in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

The way to end extremist online content from ISIS and likeminded terrorist groups is by no longer supporting them, combating their fighters instead of using them.

Most important is ending US-led imperial wars in multiple theaters. ISIS and likeminded terrorist groups were created to serve as imperial ground forces, aided by Pentagon-led terror-bombing.

Changes Rudd proposed aim to strengthen Britain’s 2000 Terrorism Act. It authorizes civil liberties-destroying police powers, including repressive stop-and-searches ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights.

It criminalizes being a member of, supporting, or wearing clothing arousing suspicion of involvement with a proscribed group. Dozens named are nearly all Muslim ones.

Current UK law applies only to downloaded and saved extremist material. Proposed changes criminalize reading it online.

Commenting on the proposed measure, Law Professor Jonathan Turley noted that

“civil libertarians have warned that Great Britain has been in a free fall from the criminalization of speech to the expansion of the surveillance state.”

Tories aren’t “satiated by their ever-expanding criminalization of speech. They now want to criminalize even viewing sites on the Internet.”

“As always, officials are basically telling the public to ‘trust us, we’re the government.’ “ Criminalizing readership of online content amounts to “an anti-civil liberties campaign.”

A previous article discussed Prime Minister Theresa May wanting greater government control of the Internet. If readership of material Tories call unacceptable is criminalized, what’s next?

Thought control? Criminalizing legitimate criticism of government policies? Public protests against government policies? Banning free expression on any topics online or in public spaces altogether?

Turley quoted from Orwell’s 1984 as follows:

“We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.”

“The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.”

“They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.”

“We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.”

“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

America, Britain and other Western nations are heading toward instituting full-blown tyranny.

Perhaps another state-sponsored 9/11-type incident will assure it.

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

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

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

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

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It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it.” – John Pilger [1]

 

 

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Ecological disasters, economic disruption, military incursions, political upheaval, and financial exploitation all converge and coordinate on the world scene. A chorus of violence, chaos and destruction reaching a crescendo at this stage in human history.

We have a US President facing opposition from within the very power structure of his country. We have an unprecedented level of hostility being exchanged between two nuclear states: North Korea and the United States. Russia stands accused of meddling and interfering with a US election in spite of a lack of concrete evidence to this effect. A lone gunman in Las Vegas, apparently with no military training or background manages to kill or wound nearly 600 people from a distance of 390 yards in only a few minutes. A Caribbean island and US territory, Puerto Rico, is in crisis after a major hurricane wipes out most of its power generation and access to potable water.

It serves certain powerful interests to emphasize certain developments while under-emphasizing or even ignoring others.

Ironically, in an age when the internet was supposed to liberate the masses from domination of corporate-friendly narratives, special interests have not encountered much in the way of organized resistance to their agendas.

Journalists in the truest sense of the word are truth-tellers. They break down artifice and propaganda and keep the powerful on their toes. To quote the aphorism: they comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Few people on the planet have upheld this principle as long, as diligently and as consistently as John Pilger.

An Australian by nationality, John Pilger has been a working journalist for more than half a century. He has covered numerous wars, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Biafra and the Middle East . He marched alongside America’s poor following the assasination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and was present in the room when presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. His documentaries, which now number around 70, have earned him numerous awards and accolades including The George Foster Peabody Award in 1990, a  British Academy of Film and Television Arts  in 1991, an American Television Award (Emmy) also in 1991, the Sophie Prize for Human Rights in 2003 and the Royal Television Society Best Documentary in 2004. He has contributed to numerous publications and media outlets over the decades including the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, New Statesman, The Los Angeles Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, Information Clearing House, Truthout, Truthdig, ZNET, Common Cause, Antiwar.com and Global Research. [2]

In this week’s feature interview, conducted by special guest host, veteran Winnipeg print and broadcast journalist Lesley Hughes, John Pilger discusses the role of the journalist and modern challenges to authentic journalism, the misleading characterization of North Korea as current tensions mount, the West’s role in instigating the refugee crisis, the destruction of an authentic anti-war movement under President Obama, mainstream media warmongering on Russia, and the mendacity of ‘hope’.

As a final note. The Global Research News Hour wishes to acknowledge and thank University of Manitoba based radio station CJUM 101.5 FM for providing access to their studio for recording purposes.

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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.

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Notes: 

  1.  http://johnpilger.com/biography
  2. ibid

Syrian government forces are struggling to retake the city of al-Qaryatayn from ISIS sleeper cells and their supporters. The army has retaken Jabal Hazm al-Abyad west of the city and few points in its eastern entrance. Local sources report that artillery units hit terrorist positions inside it.

The Hezbollah media wing in Syria has released a statement saying that members of Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn and Liwa Shuhada Mahin [two groups described by the US-led coalition as moderate opposition] are among ISIS units operating in the area. However, the media outlet released no photos or videos to confirm this claim.

ISIS terrorists also continued their efforts to encircle the strategic town of Sukhna at the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway and even captured Jabal Tuntur. However, the army reportedly repelled the ISIS attack on the part of the highway between Sukhna and Palmyra. ISIS actively uses mobile assault groups supported by technical vehicles in the area. An intense fighting is ongoing.

In the Euphrates Valley, government forces reached al-Ba’um village 2km north of the ISIS stronghold of Mayadin city. Local sources report multiple artillery and airstrikes on ISIS in Mayadin area. Russian submarines even launched Kalibr cruise missiles on ISIS there.

However, it is not clear if the army has capabilities to storm this fortified point amid a complicated situation at the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued their advance against ISIS in the center of Raqqah city. Clashes are reportedly ongoing in Nahdah and Kurdan districts.

Earlier reports appeared that ISIS conducted a large counter-attack and retook the blood bank building, al-Rasheed park, al-Rasheed high school and other positions around the national hospital in the city center. Nonetheless, a lack of photo and video evidence from the both sides does not allow to confirm or deny these reports.

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The Three Conservative MPs Who Will Never be Prime Minister

October 7th, 2017 by Anthony Bellchambers

One, an ex-Conservative Party chairman who was forced to resign amid allegations of bullying and who was returned to the back-benches years ago, and is now reported to have the insolence to try to unseat Theresa May in order to try to install himself as Prime Minister!

Shapps, Fox and Johnson are three somewhat stained politicians, any of whom, as Prime Minister, would make the UK a laughing stock in both Europe and America, never mind in Britain.

That’s probably why the British electorate want a government headed by a political leader of unquestioned integrity. Jeremy Corbyn would, according to public opinion, certainly fit the bill, or possibly, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

If Britain does indeed need a new Prime Minister, which is debatable, then it must be the democratic choice of the people, not that of a disaffected Tory MP with ambitions way above both his qualifications and his unsavoury history.

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Our thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for awarding its 2017 Prize to ICAN – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Undoubtedly nuclear disarmament and, ultimately, nuclear abolition is a major – if not the major – goal of humankind. There can be no lasting peace with these weapons and there exists no goal, the achievement of which would legitimate the use of this type of weapons.

Even when not used, nuclear weapons cause problems, distrust, risks and pretext for wars – think Russia-NATO, Iraq, the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran, US-North Korea, Israel, India-Pakistan – and documented technical malfunctions, human failures, and accidents with nuclear weapons.

Secondly, this year’s award honours the UN Charter, Article 1 of which states the essentially important norm that peace shall be brought about by peaceful means.

It is also in clear support — as was emphasized by the Committee’s chairwoman, Berit Reiss-Andersen, herself a lawyer — of the NPT of 1970, the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NPT states the long term goal of general and complete disarmament, that the countries who possess nuclear weapons shall, in good faith, negotiate them away as a quid pro quo for others who may want to acquire nuclear weapons abstain from doing so. That is, possession is as important to abolish and a key to secure non-proliferation. Regrettably, all those who possess nuclear weapons have done the opposite of negotiating them away.

Thus, this year’s prize is a very important support for international law and the UN – our basic common normative system and foundations of international law that has been ignored (also by the media) and violated time and again during the last 20-30 years.

Third, it is of tremendous importance that this year’s award goes to a civil society organisation and not to a government representative. World peace is a massive citizens’ desire anywhere, whereas governments (with few exceptions) conduct such policies that trample upon this desire.

Fourth – and no less important than the above, this year’s Award honours the essential criteria of Alfred Nobel’s will. Importantly, this was emphasized by Reiss-Andersen. Given some of the recent awardees non/anti-peace work, there is a reason to congratulate not only ICAN but also the Committee for getting it absolutely right this year.

May it be the beginning of a new drive on the road toward peace with no more accidents in the ditch.

Those of us who, since 2007, have been engaged in a public information campaign about the Committee’s non-adherence, in a number of cases, to Alfred Nobel’s will, feel good today.

The Nobel Committee calls it “the world’s most prestigious prize” and it is essential that it be awarded only to people whose work falls clearly within the criteria of the will. It is neither a human rights, humanitarian, women’s or general do-good prize. It’s for everything that has to do with reducing warfare, risks of it, militarism. It is for disarmament, reduction of forces, negotiated solutions to conflicts, peace conferences and international sister- and brotherhood.

Most media do not seem to know that – also not that lots of nominations this year too were totally irrelevant no matter their other, non-peace qualities.

Finally, it is hardly unreasonable to view this year’s choice is a mild kick to the countries who have worked against the BAN Treaty that ICAN’s work has helped so efficiently to bring about – NATO in particular.

All NATO countries have ignored the BAN Treaty (as has the other nuclear countries Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel). This only goes to show how important the BAN Treaty is.

But the US is known to have put pressure on NATO members and others such as Sweden with direct threats to them should they sign the BAN Treaty (NATO countries’ mainstream media haven’t told you much about that whereas they fill you with so far non-documented rumours of Russian interference in other countries).

It’s high time to encourage, as the Nobel Committee chair emphasized, all those who possess (or store) nuclear weapons to change their policies and join humanity. They have no right and have never been given a mandate to possess these weapons and thereby threaten, potentially, the survival of humanity.

It’s all a matter of political will and moral courage. None of them base their possession of nuclear weapons on laws. The NATO Treaty doesn’t mention them at all.

The nomination of ICAN can be seen on the Nobel Peace Prize Watch here.

Jan Oberg is a peace researcher, art photographer, and Director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF) where this article first appeared. Reach him at: [email protected]Read other articles by Jan.

Featured image is from ICAN Facebook.

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Featured image: “We witnessed a People’s Intervention that forced the climate costs of Energy East to the forefront of the pipeline review,” said Aurore Fauret, Tar Sands Campaign coordinator at 350.org. (Photo: Pax Ahimsa Gethen/Flickr/cc)

In what environmentalists are calling a major victory for pipeline opponents and the planet, TransCanada announced Thursday that it is abandoning its Energy East pipeline project, which would have carried over a million barrels of crude oil across Canada per day.

Oil Change International (OCI) estimated in an analysis earlier this year that Energy East would produce an additional 236 million tons of carbon pollution each year. For this reason and many others, OCI applauded TransCanada’s decision to nix the project, which was first proposed in 2013.

“This is an important day in the fight against climate change in Canada,” Adam Scott, senior advisor at OCI, said in a statement on Thursday. “Energy East was a disaster waiting to happen. The pipeline and tanker proposal scheme was utterly incompatible with a world where we avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Aurore Fauret, Tar Sands Campaign coordinator at 350.org, echoed Scott’s celebration and highlighted the grassroots mobilization that brought the pipeline into public view and ultimately helped ensure its defeat.

“We witnessed a People’s Intervention that forced the climate costs of Energy East to the forefront of the pipeline review,” Fauret said. “Over 100,000 messages were sent to the National Energy Board (NEB) demanding it consider all the emissions the project would generate. Close to 2,000 people applied as intervenors, citing climate change as one of their reasons. Two years later, after the NEB accepted to review the climate costs of the pipeline, TransCanada is calling it quits.”

TransCanada also announced Thursday that it is ditching the Eastern Mainline pipeline project in the face of critical scrutiny from Canadian energy regulators.

Both projects from their inception faced fierce opposition from Indigenous groups and climate activists, who often referred to Energy East as a “ticking time bomb” that posed a tremendous threat to sacred lands and the water supply.

“It simply is not worth the risk,” Maude Barlow, honorary chairperson with the Council of Canadians, concluded in 2014.

But while the downfall of both Energy East and Eastern Mainline was welcomed by those who worked tirelessly for years to guarantee their defeat, activists issued an urgent reminder that the fight against pipelines in both Canada and the United States has only just begun.

“The end of Energy East shows that extreme energy projects are part of our past not our future,” Barlow said in a statement on Thursday. “For all of our sakes, Kinder Morgan, Line 3, Line 10, and Keystone XL must face the same fate.”

Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake agreed, arguing Thursday that “it will be a hollow victory” if any of the many other pipelines under consideration “are allowed to steamroll over Indigenous opposition and serve as an outlet for even more climate-killing tar sands production.”

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The Six ‘Secret’ Tactics of Empire

October 7th, 2017 by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

The 6 ‘secret’ tactics of empire are strategies of change used by governments, usually covertly, to attain political or military ends through means not normally acceptable to the populace as a whole. The strategies are as follows:

1. False Flag Attacks
2. Coercive Engineered Migration
3. Colour Revolutions
4. Humanitarian Intervention
5. Proxy Armies
6. Fake News

The relationship of the state or a political force to the various strategies depends on the political aim. Sometimes there is a direct and openly admitted relationship to the strategy and sometimes it is fervently denied. The outcome of any such strategy is never guaranteed and, indeed, may even have the opposite effect to that intended.

This makes the strategies of change high-risk ventures for the participants as well as those for whom the strategy is hoped to benefit. In some cases these strategies of change seem to be perceived as the only way to change a situation, or at least the most expedient. Their role is to manipulate public opinion on a particular government, state or upcoming political movement to suit the actions, thoughts or desires of another internal or external political force. Like a good magician, the perpetrator of the strategy must make people conscious of the ends but not the means. If the people support a changed environment brought about by strategies of change without realizing or understanding why, then the result can be seen as ‘successful’.

1. False Flag Attacks

 False Flag Attack
Triptych – Oil on canvas – (60cm x 180cm / 23.6 in x 70.6 in)

False flag attacks are actions carried out covertly to look like another group, nation or state were responsible. While in theory false flags are secret, some public individuals have openly called for false flag operations to be implemented to serve as a basis for initiating war against another country perceived to be an enemy. The history of false flags, however, is not secret and information about many past successful and proposed attacks is freely available on the internet.

2. Coercive Engineered Migration

​​Blue Skies, Blue Seas, Blue Gloves
​Triptych – Oil on canvas – (60cm x 180cm / 23.6 in x 70.6 in)

Coercive engineered migration is a strategy which acts to overwhelm another country’s capacity to cope with a large influx of refugees or migrants. This pressure can affect competing political interests and thereby change the behavior of the target country.

3. Colour Revolutions

Colour Blind: Orange Revolution – Ukraine, Green Revolution – Iran,
Jeans Revolution – Belarus
Triptych – Oil on canvas – (60cm x 180cm / 23.6 in x 70.6 in)

Colour revolutions are a form of nonviolent resistance utilizing social media, demonstrations and strikes as a protest against governments especially in changing their geopolitical outlook from one radically different in their past. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and students have been involved organizing creative non-violent resistance and usually pick a color or a flower as a symbol of their movement.

4. Fake News

Green Screen
Triptych – Oil on canvas – (60cm x 180cm / 23.6 in x 70.6 in)

Fake news is a type of news that often uses disinformation to propagate ideas for political advantage through the broadcast media or social media via the internet. It is used to discredit serious media coverage of an event. For example, video footage of riots in one city were used on the news by one network to portray a city in a completely different country in a negative light.

5. Humanitarian Intervention [R2P]

Humanitarian Warfare
Triptych – Oil on canvas – (60cm x 180cm / 23.6 in x 70.6 in)

Humanitarian warfare is an ironic term describing military interventions which give human rights reasons such as protecting a population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity as the basis for their actions.

6. Proxy Armies

Proxy Army
Triptych – Oil on canvas – (60cm x 180cm / 23.6 in x 70.6 in)

A proxy army is an army funded and armed by a foreign opposing power who cannot for political or social sensitivities at home fight directly with the country at war.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

All these paintings are from the author.

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Featured image: PM Mariano Rajoy (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Pre-election polls and referendum results showed Catalans overwhelming want independence from Spain – the Mariano Rajoy regime a “political dictatorship”, much like Francisco Franco’s military one.

Madrid-sponsored police state violence against Catalan voters last Sunday unified popular secessionist support. The UN Charter and other international laws affirm the right of self-determination.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said he’d support the will of the people, indicating he’d declare independence with parliamentary support within 48 hours of Sunday’s vote.

Six days later, he’s yet to act or convene parliament. Spain’s Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest judicial body, defied international law.

It suspended the Catalan parliament’s Monday session – a majority of MPs expected to declare the autonomous region’s independence, their legal right.

Puigdemont rescheduled the session for Tuesday. If he, his government and majority parliamentarians for independence back down, they’ll be bowing to Madrid tyranny, betraying 90% of Catalans supporting independence in last Sunday’s referendum.

The final vote count showed 92.01% for independence, 7.99% against, the ayes overwhelmingly supporting secession.

Puigdemont and parliamentarians are obliged to declare it. That’s what democracy is all about.

Threats by Madrid to seize control of Catalonia’s government, send thousands of national police, civil guards and soldiers to its streets, likely clashing with independence supporters, arresting pro-secession officials, and undermining freedom should be challenged by popular resistance – officials together with millions of Catalans refusing to sacrifice their rights to Madrid.

A full-scale constitutional crisis looks set to worsen, the worst in Spain in decades.

Pro-independence Catalan MP Carles Riera said

“(w)e are in talks about a text, with paper and pencil, on the declaration that we want the regional parliament to accept on Tuesday.”

“Nobody has put forward any scenario of delay, ambiguity or confusion. We are not working on that scenario.”

Catalonia’s head of foreign affairs Raul Romeva indicated a decision on independence is coming, saying

“(p)arliament will discuss. Parliament will meet. It will be a debate, and this is important.”

On Saturday and Sunday, Catalans are expected to mass on Barcelona streets, overwhelmingly calling for independence, urging their government to act, supporting what they voted for.

Madrid refused talks with Catalan officials unless they abandon support for independence.

Yielding to Rajoy tyranny would constitute betrayal. Self-determination is a universal right. Declaring it is the next step.

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

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

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

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

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Eliot Higgins is a “non-resident senior fellow” with the Atlantic Council whose functions appear to include seeking to discredit any reporting or analysis and documentation that conflicts with the DC-based think tank’s interventionist agenda. Higgins’ agenda dovetails closely with his employer’s funders in NATO as well as Atlantic Council backers like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey — the states that have also bankrolled Syrian Salafi insurgents.

Higgins flew into an online rage as soon as I published my article at AlterNet on the allegations of a sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Although the article shows that a conventional airstrike in Khan Sheikhoun did cause large numbers of dead and injured, I also exposed evidence of a deception mounted by al Qaeda’s local Syrian affiliate to convince the world that the regime had carried out a sarin attack from the air in Khan Sheikhoun. These revelations were anathema to Higgins, who supports the official U.S.-NATO version of events against any critical examination, and to an almost religious degree.

Higgins launched an all-out attack on the article consisting of dozens of tweets, none of which has actually challenged the evidence presented in the article.  In his initial volley, he sought to portray my use of the term “building” for a two-story structure connected to the others but clearly distinct from them as a serious prevarication.

On the other hand, Higgins betrayed no pang of conscience over defending a position that is clearly at odds with the facts. When I asked Higgins in a tweet how he explained the complete absence of the pieces of a weapon that should have been found near the crater, he responded as though he had no need for any explanation: “I prefer not to speculate.”

The brunt of Higgins’s attack was aimed at my detailed case that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) based its overall conclusion of a government sarin attack on test results of biomedical and environmental samples that either could have been manipulated — or that OPCW simply failed to consider an alternative explanation that was consistent with the actual results.

Higgins did not contest any of the points that I documented, including the fact that two scientists with ties to OPCW acknowledged in e-mails that the OPCW test for IMPA —  the main break-down product of sarin in the body — could produce a false positive.  All that al Qaeda’s local operatives would need to do fool the OPCW test would be to administer the subject giving a biomedical sample a dose of IMPA, a harmless compound sold by major chemical companies.

At the same time, Higgins claimed to be scandalized that I would dare to assert that al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise authorities could have planted sarin in the environmental samples and fooled the OPCW’s test for IMPA in biomedical samples.

Higgins demanded to know from whom al Qaeda obtained the sarin. He did not make the same demand in regard to the IMPA, the availability of which can be easily documented.

The real issue is not whether we know from whom, where and when Nusra Front officials obtained sarin, but whether the OPCW test results represent incontrovertible evidence, as Higgins insists. OPCW itself has in the past taken the formal position that they do not and cannot rely on samples that could have been tampered with. As I documented in my report, the OPCW itself adopted a rule in 2013 that neither biomedical or environmental samples could be used as evidence for any conclusion about the use of chemical weapons unless the organization had a complete, reliable chain of custody for the samples — meaning that that the OPCW staff would have to be directly involved in the collection of the samples.

But in the case of Khan Sheikhoun, the OPCW collected no environmental or biomedical samples in Khan Sheikhoun, because it never set foot in the city. Instead it accepted environmental samples collected by the White Helmets — a civilian and de facto media arm of the Al Qaeda-tied rulers of Idlib — along with biomedical samples collected by the Idlib Health Directorate and a private pro-rebel Syrian-American organization that operates field hospitals in Idlib. The OPCW then reported on the positive results for sarin as evidence in support of its conclusion that a sarin attack had caused the deaths and injuries.  In doing so, the OPCW massively and shamefully violated its most fundamental protocols, and nullified the validity of its conclusion.

Higgins’s Twitter rant asserted also that the sarin in question could definitely be linked to the Syrian government. In two paired tweets, he wrote,

“The Sarin was found with hexamine and other byproducts… This matches with other samples which would link it to the Syrian government’s Sarin.”

But his argument is false and misleading. It is, in fact, based on a French “National Evaluation” published on April 27 that was clearly aimed at making a political splash at the expense of the truth. The French government determined that the sarin in the environmental samples it obtained from Khan Sheikhoun had the same elements as those that it obtained from the site of an apparent chemical attack in Saraqeb in northern Idlib province in April 2013.  According to that same French document, the French government had concluded from the sarin found in an unexploded grenade that the Syrian government had manufactured sarin by a process that utilized hexamine.  On the basis of that conclusion, the French government insisted that the Syrian government must have carried out sarin attacks in both Saraqeb and Khan Sheikhoun.

In fact, however, the evidence of a government sarin attack in Saraqeb was highly questionable. Videos and photographs taken at the site of the attack in Saraqeb showed a tiny white polymer canister with a fly-off handle and four holes distributed evenly around its surface, each of which had marks around them.  A chemical weapons specialists who examined the photos and videos noted that it did not appear to have delivered sarin, which would not have left such marks around the holes. Higgins should remember that testimony, because it was Higgins who interviewed the specialists for his “Brown Moses” blog.

A little more than three weeks before the attack, photographer Jeff Ruigendijk had photographed an al-Nusra Front cadre with that same white canister hanging from his jacket.  After the attack, Die Welt correspondent Alfred Hackensberger interviewed Nusra Front fighters in the Aleppo area who showed him similar canisters in their equipment and described them as smoke grenades that had been captured from government depots.

Those canisters were the only ones filmed or photographed in the immediate aftermath of both the alleged sarin attacks in Saraqeb and Sheikh Maqsoud. Only four years later did the French government publicize details of the unexploded grenade said to have been found in Sarqeb that contained sarin announced its analysis of its constituent elements.  Yet even through the governments of France and United Kingdom brought the incident to the attention of the U.N. mission, the mission’s report notes it was “not able to collect any primary information on munitions” — meaning that it was not given access to the grenade holding sarin.

And the grenade is not shown in the photographs and videos of the spot where the French paper said it was found. These facts suggest that the grenade was introduced by local officials in Idlib only later. Contrary to Higgins and the French government, therefore, it does not constitute proof that a sarin-filled bomb was dropped on Saraqeb by Syrian government.  The sarin in the environmental samples from Khan Sheikhoun may indeed be from the same source as the sarin found in the grenade obtained by the French government, but it doesn’t prove that it was deployed from Syrian government weapons.

Higgins has argued that the presence of hexamine in the sarin incriminates the government, because the government turned over supplies of hexamine under the 2013 agreement that prompted it to give up its entire stock of chemical weapons.  But Ake Sellstrom, the head of the U.N Mission that investigated the Saraqeb and other cases from 2013, doesn’t agree. Sellstrom wrote to MIT Professor Theodore Postol on June 18, 2014 that hexamine is “a product simple to get hold of and in no way conclusively points to the government.”

Higgins’s aggressive tweetstorm betrayed a weak hand. Desperate to defend the narrative he is employed to enforce, he let loose a heavy barrage of smoke but proved that he doesn’t have the facts to support his attack.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014).

Featured image is from the author.

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Surrounded by top military leaders at the White House Thursday evening, US President Donald Trump ominously described the current world situation as “the calm before the storm.” While he refused to be more specific, Trump’s menacing remark—almost certainly directed against North Korea—is another warning that the US is on the brink of launching a catastrophic war.

Far from being off-the-cuff, Trump made the comments to a hastily-convened photo-op before a dinner with “the world’s greatest military people” and their wives. Defence Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Joseph Dunford and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were all present.

The US president, who had just met with the generals, brushed aside subsequent repeated questions from reporters asking: “What storm?” Trump finally declared: “You’ll find out.”

In his opening remarks to the earlier meeting, Trump directed his most threatening remarks at North Korea, declaring: “We cannot allow this dictatorship to threaten our nation or our allies with unimaginable loss of life. We will do what we must do to prevent that from happening.”

Trump underscored the last point by adding: “And it will be done, if necessary—believe me.”

In reality, it is the Trump administration, not the North Korean regime, which is chiefly responsible for the extremely tense situation on the Korean Peninsula. Trump who is commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military apparatus has repeatedly threatened the small, economically backward country with annihilation.

Trump followed up his fascistic speech at the UN last month, warning North Korea faced “total destruction,” by tweeting that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un “won’t be around much longer.” He has effectively ruled out negotiations with North Korea, publicly rebuking US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last weekend for “wasting his time” by exploring the possibility of talks with Pyongyang.

The extreme danger of war with North Korea is exacerbating divisions within ruling circles in Washington and the White House itself. The differences are tactical in character. Tillerson, Defence Secretary Mattis and National Security Adviser McMaster have all warned North Korea that “the military option is on the table.” At the same time, they have emphasised the need for a diplomatic solution to the confrontation.

All three of Trump’s top advisers have also supported the 2015 agreement reached with Iran to severely limit its nuclear programs. Trump, on the other hand, has slammed the deal as one of “the worse and most one-sided transactions” that the US has ever struck. He is reportedly poised to decertify the agreement next week—a move that will lead to escalating tensions with Tehran and also with Washington’s European allies that support the deal.

Under these conditions, Trump’s meeting on Thursday with his top generals appears aimed at ensuring full support, above all, for his reckless and aggressive preparations for war with North Korea. In his remarks before the discussion, Trump declared he expected those assembled to provide him “with a broad range of military options… at a much faster pace.” He made clear the generals were in charge, declaring he was relying on them “to overcome the obstacles of bureaucracy.”

What is at stake in a US war with North Korea was underscored yesterday by Democrat congressman Ted Lieu. He warned that a conflict with North Korea would be “unbelievably bloody.” While condemning the Pyongyang regime as “an absolute danger and threat,” he said there were “no good military options.” Lieu is a former Air Force officer who was stationed on Guam in the 1990s and participated in war games designed to prepare for conflict with North Korea.

Lieu and Congressman Ruben Gallego wrote to Defence Secretary Mattis on September 26, declaring it was “wrong to use military force without first exhausting all other options, including diplomacy.” They requested answers to a series of questions centred on “the best- and worst-case casualty estimates [American, South Korean and Japanese] for the North Korean conventional and nuclear responses to a US military attack.”

“Before this administration leads America down the dark, bloody and uncertain path of war with North Korea, the American people and their representatives in Congress deserve answers to the critical questions list above,” the letter concluded.

Lieu was at pains to stress yesterday he is not opposed to war. Indeed, he has been a vocal supporter of the McCarthyite witch-hunt against “Russian influence” in the 2016 federal elections and over the Trump administration. This faction of the American ruling elite favours a confrontation and, if necessary, war with Russia first, rather than with North Korea and by implication China.

In comments to the Los Angeles Times last month, retired Air Force brigadier-general Rob Givens warned:

“Too many Americans have the view that it [a US war with North Korea] would be like the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan, or like combat operations in Libya or Syria, but it wouldn’t remotely resemble that.”

Givens bluntly declared:

“There is only one way that this war ends. With North Korea’s defeat—but at what cost?”

Givens, who served on the Korean Peninsula, reported that the Pentagon has estimated 20,000 South Koreans would die every day, even before the use of nuclear weapons.

There is every indication that the Trump administration, in a bid to forestall any North Korean retaliation, is preparing a massive military attack with conventional and/or nuclear weapons to destroy its military apparatus, industry and top leadership.

Military analyst Daniel Pinkston told the Los Angeles Times that any attempt to destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal “has a high likelihood that you are going to unleash the very thing that you are trying to prevent”—namely nuclear war.

In that event, a report released yesterday by the 38 North monitoring group based at Johns Hopkins University estimated that as many as 3.8 million people in Tokyo and Seoul alone could die in North Korean nuclear attacks. While the group made no estimate of the wider death toll, millions more would die in American nuclear attacks on North Korea, even if a broader war with nuclear-armed China and Russia were initially avoided.

The political divisions in Washington and the White House make a US attack on North Korea more likely, rather than less likely, as Trump desperately seeks a means of shoring up his administration and projecting the acute social tensions in the United States outward against a foreign foe.

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The Conservative Party conference in Manchester was always going to hinge on an important question: what would Boris Johnson do to steal the show? Having demonstrated the hardest of lines on the issue of Brexit, he has become more just a mere thorn in his prime minister’s side. From thorn, he has become a blade, buried in a vulnerable carriage.

Theresa May had no doubt hoped that giving him the Foreign Secretary position would see an automatic, sacrificial implosion to celebrate. Johnson had been a noisy Brexiteer and drinking from the poisoned chalice of foreign relations was exactly the sort of thing that would have delighted the May crew. On his travels, his mischief making would remain where he left them.

Instead, rumours of a leadership challenge have been humming in Tory corridors. May’s disastrous electoral performance, a miscalculation of gargantuan proportions, has left her, to use the words from the smug former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, a “dead woman walking”.[1]

The only question on any plotter’s lips is whether Johnson is up to the task. Johnson was never good on matters behind a desk, the sort of mastery of detail that commands a brief and holds his audience by the sheer persuasiveness of labour. Detail is something best left to those who find it important, those squirrel types who parcel data and mind matters as he jaunts and jabbers. The oratorical flourish, the wordy deflection, the self-mocking dismissal: these are the instruments of Johnsoncraft.

It is the sheer effortlessness of his statements in terms of their schoolboy sensitivity that delights and outrages. Confusing the global stage, or any stage, as a glorified union debate without strings and codes, Johnson tends to take off the restraints and go for various parts of plain old decency.

During the course of his address to the conference, Johnson did not disappoint. He took issue with the lack of cheer in editorials in glossy international magazines, the Cassandras keen to debunk notions that Britain was thriving, confidence, prosperous. “Every day a distinguished pink newspaper manages to make Eeyore look positively exuberant and across the world the impression being given that this country is not up to it.”[2]

London was “storming ahead” with frenetic speed; the UK boasted the lowest unemployment rate in 42 years. Dreamily, he gave his audience a vision: Britannia, punching above weight and frame and everything else. “The highest number of people in work ever, the number one destination for investment into Europe”. All, despite Brexit.

Traditional punching was reserved for that great threat to the conservative order: Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn, that “NATO bashing, Trident scrapping, would-be-abolisher of the British army whose first instinct in the event of almost any international outrage or disaster is to upend the analysis until he can find a way of blaming British foreign policy.”

The fact that Corbyn found anything remotely palatable in the notion of socialism, be it in Venezuela or Bolivia suggested an illness at work, a sense of being unhinged. “He says he still admires Bolivarian revolutionary socialism. I say he’s Caracas.”

For all the rich smear and the voluminous sneers, Johnson can barely conceal the sense that the Tories are on the run, that Corbyn might, just might, be dangerous enough to count. The Labour leader seemed to be deluding himself into thinking that he had won the election, expressed in “glutinous victory-style Chavista rallies up and down the country”.

But it was May, insisted the foreign secretary, who had won the highest share of the vote in any election in the last 25 years, May who was true victor. (Never mind the electoral belting in terms of lost seats registered at the time.) Best, then, to keep to the deregulation fantasies, the notion that rampant privatisation works.

Johnson’s main speech did not detract from a side show that made the headlines. Before a Conservative conference fringe meeting, Libya came up in discussions. Libya, with its “[b]one white sands, beautiful sea, Caesar’s Palace, obviously, you know, the real one.”

UK entrepreneurs wished to invest in Sirte, where Gaddafi met his grizzly, tortured fate. “They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai.” There was, however, an important preliminary matter to deal with. “The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away.”[3]

This woke the Tories. Suddenly, decency mattered. The word police had donned uniforms. Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston felt that Johnson should “consider his position” after such “crass, poorly judged and grossly insensitive” comments. The first secretary of state, Damian Green, was more judicious. “It’s not a sensitive use of language. As I say, we all need to be sensitive in our use of language, particularly in situations like that.”

Use of language is a forte of sorts for Johnson, but care about doing so rarely features. Crude, crass and insensitive it may be, but his point is simple enough: after the bodies come the investors, the capitalists and the tourists. The golden road to Samarkand will eventually be taken, if only after a good massacre. May awaits a more opportune moment to hand the sack.

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

Notes

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The main obstacle faced by anti-terrorist forces “….in Syria is not the military capabilities of terrorists, but rather the support of the.. [United States], Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on October 4.

He added that the Russian military had warned its U.S. counterparts that its forces would repel any “odd” attacks by terrorists from areas where the “US military mission” is deployed.

Konashenkov said that 300 ISIS members whom allegedly seized Al-Qaryatayn City came from the town of Rubkan avoiding Syrian army posts and using coordinates that could only be obtained through aerial reconnaissance.

The situation in Al-Qaryatayn itself remains complicated despite the ongoing security operation by government forces.

The Russian Aerospace Forces carried out airstrikes on a meeting of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham commanders (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) killing 12 of them as well as heavily wounding the terrorist group’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, the Russian military announced earlier on the same day.

The ministry added that about 50 other militants were killed in the airstrikes.

Later, on the same day, a media wing of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham denied the Russian statement about al-Julani saying that he “is in good shape and fully carrying out the duties reassigned to him”. However, no photos were provided.

Meanwhile, the Syria Arab Army (SAA) liberated Um Qddamah and Ard Hamirah and reached Az Zabari deploying to within striking distance of al-Mayadin, the key ISIS stronghold in the area.

Pro-government sources believe that liberating al-Mayadin would allow the army to cross the Euphrates River near the Omar oil fields.

The SAA repelled an ISIS attack in the countryside of Sukhna and near Tulul al Hayl.

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

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Never miss an opportunity in the security business. A massacre in Las Vegas has sent its tremors through the establishments, and made its way across the Pacific into the corridors of Canberra and the Prime Minister’s office. Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull is very keen to make hay out of blood, and has suggested another broadening of the security state: the creation of a national facial recognition data base.

It stands to reason. Energy policy is in a state of free fall. The government’s broadband network policy has proven disastrous, uneven, inefficient and costly. Australia is falling back in the ranks, a point that Turnbull dismisses as “rubbish statistics” (importantly showing that President Donald Trump is not the only purveyor of fanciful figures).

The Turnbull government is also in the electoral doldrums, struggling to keep up with a Labor opposition which has shown signs of breaking away into a canter. The only thing keeping this government in scourers and saucepans is the prospect that Turnbull is the more popular choice of prime minister.

Enter, then, the prism of the national interest, the chances afforded to his political survival by the safety industrial complex. Turnbull, a figure who, when in the law, stressed the importance of various liberties, is attempting to convince all the governments of Australia that terrorism suspects can be detained for periods of up to 14 days without charge. Lazy law enforcement officials, rejoice.

Tagged to that agenda, one he wishes to run by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Canberra, is the fanciful need for a national facial recognition database. This dystopian fantasy of an information heavy, centralised database is one Australians have historically have opposed with admirable scepticism. It has been something that Anglophone countries have tended to cast a disapproving look upon, a feature of a civilization suspicious of intrusions made by the executive.

In the 1980s, the Australia Card was suggested as an administrative measure of convenience, but deemed by critics to be the first steps in the creation of a national surveillance system that would stretch, extend, and ultimately enlarge the powers of the state.

As law academic Graham Greenleaf would argue in 1987, the Australia Card Bill 1986 would “go beyond being a mere identification system, which the Government claims it is, and will establish the most powerful location system in Australia, and a prototype data surveillance system.”[1]

Had it been implemented, the card system would have applied to people of all ages, and, while not being compulsory, would have made it impossible, in Greenleaf’s sombre words, “for anyone to exist in Australian society without it”. Receipt of pay would not have been taxed at the required rate; receiving health insurance and social security payments would have been impossible.

Importantly, the bill was rejected twice in the Australian senate, generating the grounds for a move by the Hawke government to take Australia to the polls. It proved so unnerving to the senses of the public that the then prime minister quietly shelved it. The civil libertarians had won.

Times have darkened. In Australia, civil libertarianism is in quiet retreat, and the defenders of Big Brother chant with approval. Security and fear are garlanded and worshipped. Criticisms of the authoritarian bugbear are being treated with varying degrees of disdain and scorn.

Turnbull prefers to offer a chilling vision:

“Imagine the power of being able to identify, to be looking out for and identify a person suspected in being involved in terrorist activities walking into an airport, walking into a sporting stadium.”

It’s always good to imagine, to identify the citizen, to pretend that precision is the order of the day.

Concerns that this data base might be vulnerable to intrusive hacks and enterprising data pinchers is not a concern for the man in Canberra. This is the prime minister who presided over the creation of a data retention scheme on communications, a step deemed inimical in certain parts of the world to liberties (The European Court of Justice certainly thought so in 2016.)

“You can’t allow the risk of hacking to prevent you from doing everything to keep Australians safe”.

Safety is truly in the eye of the plodding beholder, and such a system risks entrenching a state of insecurity.

The operating rationale here is contempt for privacy, or that the Australian citizen could even care. That’s the nub of Turnbull’s argument: the state is abolishing an undervalued, near irrelevant concept for the sake of security.

“I don’t know if you’ve checked your Facebook page lately,” he chided journalists on Wednesday, “but people put an enormous amount of their own data up in the public domain.”[2]

Yet another dangerous authoritarian argument for the books.

Over three decades have passed since the failure of the Australia Card. But Turnbull won’t be concerned. The age of fear has been normalised, and those in the business of harnessing and marketing it see opportunities rather than concerns. As Channel Nine’s Sonia Kruger, co-host of the cerebrally light Today Show Extra exclaimed:

“I like it. I do. Bring it on. Big Brother, bring it on.”[3]

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

Notes

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“Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely brilliant with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving.” –
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, 1951

“It is not only information that they need-in the age of Fact, information often dominates their attention and overwhelms their capacities to assimilate it….What they need , and what they feel they need , is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves.” – C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959

The main stream media’s (MSM) ongoing narrative of the massacre in Las Vegas is clearly deceptive. This is nothing new. That is their modus operandi. Overwhelm people with a glut of information about a terrible tragedy and all becomes clear to people sick-at-heart over the deaths and injuries to innocent people. But it’s a false clarity engendered to confuse. Tell the story big and loud, and tell it repetitively from different angles, and it becomes hard to think straight, especially with the addition of all the sad stories of the innocent victims’ deaths and injuries. Who can forget the false official narrative that was spun amid the grief for all the innocent victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Few could think straight at the time.

The MSM tells us in detail about Stephen Paddock’s gambling life, his houses and real estate dealings, how much he paid for them, his gun collection numbering 47, including all those in his hotel room (23), the alleged exact number of rounds he had in his car (1,600), how he shot from his hotel room windows, etc. We are told what his brother and girlfriend say about him: they are shocked; he was just a regular guy; they can’t explain it. We are told how he got the room gratis, how long he stayed there, and that he was planning to escape (they say this with a straight face). Told how many people died (59) and how many were injured (527), we remember these numbers vaguely, especially the latter. A regular person just feels overwhelmed by all the information, the numbers; saddened and depressed for all the victims, and more afraid.

What the media do not say is that there is video and witness evidence that there were at least two more shooters, maybe more, one from a lower floor and another at the Bellagio Hotel that was locked down. This means that there was a conspiracy involved. They don’t mention this so that someone like me can do so and be branded a “conspiracy theorist,” the term created by the CIA to besmirch anyone questioning the official narrative of the JFK assassination.  You will notice that I am not – purposefully – linking to this evidence that I assert exists, nor am I raising more of the many questions surrounding this case. I am hoping that readers will research these matters themselves, and if they discover that there is evidence proving that there was more than one shooter, then, just as with the magic bullet absurdity in the JFK case, they will conclude, ipso facto, that the MSM are involved in a cover-up of a conspiracy, which is itself a conspiracy – a  factual conspiracy, not a conspiracy theory. And if that is so, they will ask why, and who is being protected. Cui bono? Why would the MSM push this narrative of the lonely crazed gunman?

People need to realize that they must be immediately skeptical of such official narratives and do their own research, and they will learn that there are excellent alternative websites that are doing real journalism and are seeking truth for truth’s sake.

While this brief article is not a “lucid summation,” as Mills suggested we need, I offer it as a concise provocation to anyone reading this to develop their own sociological imaginations to achieve such lucidity at a time when propaganda is king and the pawns are being swept off the devil’s chessboard.

One might end up asking: Who’s the devil? And answering their own question?

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

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Has the Israel Lobby Destroyed Americans’ First Amendment Rights?

October 6th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The Israel Lobby has shown its power over Americans’ perceptions and ability to exercise free speech via its influence in media, entertainment and ability to block university tenure appointments, such as those of Norman Finkelstein and Steven Salaita. Indeed, the power of the Israel Lobby is today so widely recognized and feared that editors, producers, and tenure committees anticipate the lobby’s objections in advance and avoid writers, subjects, and professors judged unacceptable to the lobby.

The latest example is The American Conservative’s firing of former CIA case officer Philip Giraldi.  Giraldi wrote an article for the Unz Review about Israel’s influence over American foreign policy in the Middle East.  The article didn’t say anything that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz hadn’t said already. The editor of The American Conservative, where Giraldi had been a contributor for a decade and a half, was terrified that the magazine was associated with a critic of Israel and quickly terminated the relationship. Such abject cowardice as the editor of The American Conservative showed is a true measure of the power of the Israel Lobby.

Many seasoned experts believe that without the influence of the Israel Lobby, particularly as exerted by the Jewish Neoconservatives, the United States would not have been at war in the Middle East and North Africa for the last 16 years. These wars have done nothing for the US but harm, and they have cost taxpayers trillions of dollars and caused extensive death and destruction in seven countries and a massive refugee flow into Europe.

For a superpower such as the United States not to be in control of its own foreign policy is a serious matter. Giraldi is correct and patriotic to raise this concern. Giraldi makes sensible recommendations for correcting Washington’s lack of control over its own policy. But instead of analysis and debate the result is Giraldi’s punishment by an editor of a conservative publication anticipating the Israel Lobby’s wishes.

Americans should think about the fact that Israel is the only country on earth that it is impermissible to criticize. Anyone who criticizes Israeli policy, especially toward the Palestinians, or remarks on Israel’s influence, is branded an “anti-Semite.” Even mild critics who are trying to steer Israel away from making mistakes, such as former President Jimmy Carter, are branded “anti-Semites.”  

The Israel Lobby’s purpose in labeling a critic an “anti-Semite” is to discredit the criticism as an expression of dislike or hatred of Jews. In other words, the criticism is presented as merely an expression of the person’s aversion to Jewishness. A persistent critic is likely to be charged with trying to incite a new holocaust.  

It is possible to criticize the policy of Germany, France, Spain, UK, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, China, Iran, the US, indeed, every other country without being called anti-German, Anti-French, Anti-British, Anti-American, etc., although US policy in the Middle East is so closely aligned with Israel’s that the Israel Lobby regards critics of US Middle East policy as hostile to Israel. Despite the failures of US policy, it is getting more and more difficult to criticize it without the risk of being branded “unpatriotic,” and possibly even a “Muslim sympathizer” and “anti-Semite.”

Screengrab: Trump speaks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Source: The American Conservative)

The power of the Israel Lobby is seen in many places. For example, the US Congress demands that RT, a news service, register as a Russian agent, but AIPAC, before whom every year the US Congress pays its homage and submission, does not have to register as an Israeli agent.

The many anomalies in the Israel Lobby’s power pass unremarked. For example, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) defines criticism of Israeli policies as defamation and brands critics “anti-Semites.” In other words, the ADL itself is set up in the business of defamation or name-calling. The incongruity of an organization created to oppose defamation engaging in defamation as its sole purpose passes unremarked.

Israel is very proud of its power over the United States. Israeli political leaders have a history of bragging about their power over America. But if an American complains about it, he is a Jew-hater. The only safe way for an American to call attention to the power Israel has over the US is to brag about it. It is OK to acknowledge Israel’s power if you put it in a good light, but not if you complain about it.

So, let me put it this way: Israel’s unique ability to discredit all criticism of its policies as a mere expression of anti-Jewish sentiment is the greatest public relations success in the history of PR. The stupidity of the goy is easily overcome by the more capable Jew. Hats off to Israel for outwitting the dumbshit Americans and taking over their foreign policy. Perhaps Israel should take over US domestic policy as well. Or have they already? It has been 30 years since the Federal Reserve has had a non-Jewish Chairman, and for the past three years Stanley Fischer, the former chairman of the Central Bank of Israel, has been Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Since the Clinton regime, the Treasury Secretaries have been predominately Jewish. We can say that their financial talent makes them natural candidates for these positions, but it is disingenuous to deny the influence of this small minority in American life. This influence becomes a problem when it is used to silence free speech.?

Here is Giraldi:


How I Got Fired

October 03, 2017 “The Unz Review” – 

Two weeks ago, I wrote for Unz.com an article entitled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” It sought to make several points concerning the consequences of Jewish political power vis-à-vis some aspects of U.S. foreign policy. It noted that some individual American Jews and organizations with close ties to Israel, whom I named and identified, are greatly disproportionately represented in the government, media, foundations, think tanks and lobbying that is part and parcel of the deliberations that lead to formulation of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Inevitably, those policies are skewed to represent Israeli interests and do serious damage to genuine American equities in the region. This tilt should not necessarily surprise anyone who has been paying attention and was noted by Nathan Glazer, among others, as long ago as 1976.

The end result of Israel centric policymaking in Washington is to produce negotiators like Dennis Ross, who consistently supported Israeli positions in peace talks, so much so that he was referred to as “Israel’s lawyer.” It also can result in wars, which is of particular concern given the current level of hostility being generated by these same individuals and organizations relating to Iran. This group of Israel advocates is as responsible as any other body in the United States for the deaths of thousands of Americans and literally millions of mostly Muslim foreigners in unnecessary wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has also turned the U.S. into an active accomplice in the brutal suppression of the Palestinians. That they have never expressed any remorse or regret and the fact that the deaths and suffering don’t seem to matter to them are clear indictments of the sheer inhumanity of the positions they embrace.

The claims that America’s Middle Eastern wars have been fought for Israel are not an anti-Semitic delusion. Some observers, including former high government official Philip Zelikow, believe that Iraq was attacked by the U.S. in 2003 to protect Israel. On April 3rd, just as the war was starting, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz headlined “The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.” It then went on to describe how “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in [Washington]: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another.”

And the deference to a Jewish proprietary interest in Middle Eastern policy produces U.S. Ambassadors to Israel who are more comfortable explaining Israeli positions than in supporting American interests. David Friedman, the current Ambassador, spoke last week defending illegal Israeli settlements, which are contrary to official U.S. policy, arguing that they represented only 2% of the West Bank. He did not mention that the land controlled by Israel, to include a security zone, actually represents 60% of the total area.

My suggestion for countering the overrepresentation of a special interest in policy formulation was to avoid putting Jewish government officials in that position by, insofar as possible, not giving them assignments relating to policy in the Middle East. As I noted in my article, that was, in fact, the norm regarding Ambassadors and senior foreign service assignments to Israel prior to 1995, when Bill Clinton broke precedent by appointing Australian citizen Martin Indyk to the position. I think, on balance, it is eminently sensible to avoid putting people in jobs where they will likely have conflicts of interest.

Another solution that I suggested for American Jews who are strongly attached to Israel and find themselves in a position that considers policy for that country and its neighbors would be to recuse themselves from the deliberations, just as a judge who finds himself personally involved in a judicial proceeding might withdraw. It would seem to me that, depending on the official’s actual relationship with Israel, it would be a clear conflict of interest to do otherwise.

The argument that such an individual could protect American interests while also having a high level of concern for a foreign nation with contrary interests is at best questionable. As George Washington observed in his farewell address, “…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification…”

My article proved to be quite popular, particularly after former CIA officer Valerie Plame tweeted her approval of it and was viciously and repeatedly attacked, resulting in a string of abject apologies on her part. As a reasonably well-known public figure, Plame attracted a torrent of negative press, in which I, as the author of the piece being tweeted, was also identified and excoriated. In every corner of the mainstream media I was called “a well-known anti-Semite,” “a long time anti-Israel fanatic,” and, ironically, “a somewhat obscure character.”

The widespread criticism actually proved to be excellent in terms of generating real interest in my article. Many people apparently wanted to read it even though some of the attacks against me and Plame deliberately did not provide a link to it to discourage such activity. As of this writing, it has been opened and viewed 130,000 times and commented on 1,250 times. Most of the comments were favorable. Some of my older pieces, including The Dancing Israelis and Why I Still Dislike Israel have also found a new and significant readership as a result of the furor.

One of the implications of my original article was that Jewish advocacy groups in the United States are disproportionately powerful, capable of using easy access to the media and to compliant politicians to shape policies that are driven by tribal considerations and not necessarily by the interests of most of the American people. Professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, in their groundbreaking book “The Israel Lobby”, observed how the billions of dollars given to Israel annually “cannot be fully explained on either strategic or moral grounds… {and] is due largely to the activities of the Israel lobby—a loose coalition of individuals and organizations who openly work to push U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.”

Those same powerful interests are systematically protected from criticism or reprisal by constantly renewed claims of historic and seemingly perpetual victimhood. But within the Jewish community and media, that same Jewish power is frequently exalted. It manifests itself in boasting about the many Jews who have obtained high office or who have achieved notoriety in the professions and in business. In a recent speech, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz put it this way, “People say Jews are too powerful, too strong, too rich, we control the media, we’ve too much this, too much that and we often apologetically deny our strength and our power. Don’t do that! We have earned the right to influence public debate, we have earned the right to be heard, we have contributed disproportionately to success of this country.” He has also discussed punishing critics of Israel, “Anyone that does [that] has to be treated with economic consequences. We have to hit them in the pocketbook. Don’t ever, ever be embarrassed about using Jewish power. Jewish power, whether it be intellectual, academic, economic, political– in the interest of justice is the right thing to do.”

My article, in fact, began with an explanation of that one aspect of Jewish power, its ability to promote Israeli interests freely and even openly while simultaneously silencing critics. I described how any individual or “any organization that aspires to be heard on foreign policy knows that to touch the live wire of Israel and American Jews guarantees a quick trip to obscurity. Jewish groups and deep pocket individual donors not only control the politicians, they own and run the media and entertainment industries, meaning that no one will hear about or from the offending party ever again.”

With that in mind, I should have expected that there would be a move made to “silence” me. It came three days after my article appeared. The Editor of The American Conservative (TAC) magazine and website, where I have been a regular and highly rated contributor for nearly 15 years, called me and abruptly announced that even though my article had appeared on another site, it had been deemed unacceptable and TAC would have to sever its relationship with me. I called him a coward and he replied that he was not.

I do not know exactly who on the TAC board decided to go after me. Several board members who are good friends apparently were not even informed about what was going on when firing me was under consideration. I do not know whether someone coming from outside the board applied pressure in any way, but there is certainly a long history of friends of Israel being able to remove individuals who have offended against the established narrative, recently exemplified by the hounding of now-ex-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who had the temerity to state that “the Jewish lobby intimidates lots of people” in Washington. As Gilad Atzmon has observed one of the most notable features of Jewish power is the ability to stifle any discussion of Jewish power by gentiles.

But the defenestration by TAC, which I will survive, also contains a certain irony. The magazine was co-founded in 2002 by Pat Buchanan and the article by him that effectively launched the publication in the following year was something called “Whose War?” Buchanan’s initial paragraphs tell the tale:

“The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged. In a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: ‘Can you assure American viewers … that we’re in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?’ Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neoconservative friends are doing what comes naturally, seeking student deferments from political combat by claiming the status of a persecuted minority group. People who claim to be writing the foreign policy of the world superpower, one would think, would be a little more manly in the schoolyard of politics. Not so. Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot kicked off the campaign. When these ‘Buchananites toss around neoconservative—and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen—it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is ‘Jewish conservative.’ Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate attachment to Israel is a ‘key tenet of neoconservatism.’ He also claims that the National Security Strategy of President Bush ‘sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon bible.’ (For the uninitiated, Commentary, the bible in which Boot seeks divine guidance, is the monthly of the American Jewish Committee.)”

Pat is right on the money. He was pretty much describing the same group that I have written about and raising the same concern, i.e. that the process had led to an unnecessary war and will lead to more unless it is stopped by exposing and marginalizing those behind it. Pat was, like me, called an anti-Semite and even worse for his candor. And guess what? The group that started the war that has since been deemed the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history is still around and they are singing the same old song.

And TAC has not always been so sensitive to certain apparently unacceptable viewpoints, even in my case. I write frequently about Israel because I believe it and its supporters to be a malign influence on the United States and a threat to national security. In June 2008, I wrote a piece called “The Spy Who Loves Us” about Israeli espionage against the U.S. It was featured on the cover of the magazine and it included a comment about the tribal instincts of some American Jews: “In 1996, ten years after the agreement that concluded the [Jonathan] Pollard [Israeli spying] affair, the Pentagon’s Defense Investigative Service warned defense contractors that Israel had ‘espionage intentions and capabilities’ here and was aggressively trying to steal military and intelligence secrets. It also cited a security threat posed by individuals who have ‘strong ethnic ties’ to Israel, stating that ‘Placing Israeli nationals in key industries is a technique utilized with great success.’”

Three days later, another shoe dropped. I was supposed to speak at a panel discussion critical of Saudi Arabia on October 2nd. The organizer, the Frontiers of Freedom foundation, emailed me to say my services would no longer be required because “the conference will not be a success if we get sidetracked into debating, discussing, or defending the substance of your writings on Israel.”

Last Saturday morning, Facebook blocked access to my article for a time because it “contained a banned word.” I can safely assume that such blockages will continue and that invitations to speak at anti-war or foreign policy events will be in short supply from now on as fearful organizers avoid any possible confrontation with Israel’s many friends.

Would I do something different if I were to write my article again today? Yes. I would have made clearer that I was not writing about all or most American Jews, many of whom are active in the peace movement and, like my good friend Jeff Blankfort and Glenn Greenwald, even figure among the leading critics of Israel. My target was the individuals and Jewish “establishment” groups I specifically named, that I consider to be the activists for war. And I refer to them as “Jews” rather than neoconservatives or Zionists as some of them don’t identify by those political labels while to blame developments on Zios or neocons is a bit of an evasion in any event. Writing “neoconservatives” suggests some kind of fringe or marginal group, but we are actually talking about nearly all major Jewish organizations and many community leaders.

Many, possibly even most, Jewish organizations in the United States openly state that they represent the interests of the state of Israel. The crowd stoking fears of Iran is largely Jewish and is, without exception, responsive to the frequently expressed desires of the self-defined Jewish state to have the United States initiate hostilities. This often means supporting the false claim that Tehran poses a serious threat against the U.S. as a pretext for armed conflict. Shouldn’t that “Jewish” reality be on the table for consideration when one is discussing the issue of war versus peace in America?

When all is said and done the punishment that has been meted out to me and Valerie Plame proves my point. The friends of Israel rule by coercion, intimidation and through fear. If we suffer through a catastrophic war with Iran fought to placate Benjamin Netanyahu many people might begin to ask “Why?” But identifying the real cause would involve criticism of what some American Jews have been doing, which is not only fraught with consequences, but is something that also will possibly become illegal thanks to Congressional attempts to criminalize such activity. We Americans will stand by mutely as we begin to wonder what has happened to our country. And some who are more perceptive will even begin to ask why a tiny client state has been allowed to manipulate and bring ruin on the world’s only super power. Unfortunately, at that point, it will be too late to do anything about it.

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

 

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Trump Expected to Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal

October 6th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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A previous article suggested decertification is coming before the October 15 recertification deadline.

If he acts as expected, it’ll automatically trigger a 60-day window for Congress to decide whether to reimpose harsh sanctions on Iran – an effort by Republicans to try undermining the deal altogether if this action is taken.

Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “no one will trust America” again if Trump rescinds or otherwise sabotages the agreement.

In Rome for the International Cooperation for Enhancing Nuclear Safety, Security, Safeguards and Non-Proliferation conference next week, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi said

“(w)e have emphasized repeatedly that the JCPOA (nuclear deal) is not renegotiable.”

“If the US leaves the JCPOA, and other countries follow suit, the JCPOA will definitely fall apart, but if only the US walks away, our monitoring committee on the JCPOA should make a decision in this regard.”

Reports by US media indicate Trump intends decertifying the deal against the advice of his top foreign policy and national security advisors.

On October 12, he’s tentatively scheduled to deliver a national address on the issue, announcing his decision.

With the IAEA repeatedly affirming Iran’s full compliance with its obligations, he’s got a tough sell. Undemocratic Dems oppose decertification, perhaps enough Republicans not wanting tough new sanctions reimposed on Iran, what other P5+1 countries oppose, along with not wanting the deal undermined.

Israel supports decertification. So does AIPAC, calling the JCPOA “fatally flawed…leaving Iran with no legal bar to constructing an industrial-scale nuclear program (post-2021) and becoming a nuclear weapons threshold state – able to break out rapidly to a bomb at a time of its choosing.”

The argument is phony. Iran deplores nuclear weapons, wants the region free from them, Israel the only Middle East state with a WMD arsenal, posing an enormous global threat.

Iran poses none. It doesn’t support terrorism as falsely claimed. It combats it effectively. It’s not a human rights abuser like America and Israel, the world’s leading rogue states.

It hasn’t attacked another country in centuries. America does it repeatedly. Israel is at war with Palestinians, holding them hostage under occupation harshness, besieged Gazans harmed most of all.

Israel threatens neighboring countries, attacked Syrian scores of times during the ongoing war and earlier.

On Thursday, Trump lied claiming Iran “supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East.”

“That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”

His disturbing hostility toward Iran makes it vulnerable to attack. Longstanding US plans call for regime change, wars and color revolutions its favored strategies.

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

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U.S. forces use refugees living in the Rukban camp in southeast Syria as a human shield, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.

Rukban refugees are de facto hostages, effectively a ‘human shield’ for the US base. Think about it, other than by Americans such ‘protection’ barriers are used in Syria only by those who they came here to fight, the terrorists,” Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Friday.

Konashenkov added that 60,000 women and children who fled Raqqa and Deir Ezzor currently live in the camp. The spokesman also blamed the United  States for preventing humanitarian aid to the area from Syria, Jordan and the United Nations.

The Russian general added that the US base protected by the “human shield” has turned into a “black hole” on the Syrian-Jordanian border from which ISIS mobile groups conduct raids against Syrian government forces.

The Pentagon’s representatives have repeatedly stated that instructors from the US, the UK and Norway staying there under the cover of tactical aviation and multiple-launch rocket systems are training New Syrian Army militants. However, in actual fact, al-Tanf has turned into a 100-kilometer ‘black hole’ on the Syrian-Jordanian state border. Instead of the New Syrian Army, mobile ISIL [ISIS] groups, like a jack in the box, carry out sabotage and terrorist attacks against Syrian troops and civilians from there,” Konashenkov said.

The spokesman said that the illegal establishment of the base there was publicly justified “by the need to conduct operations against ISIL [ISIS].” However, no information have been received about any US-led operations against ISIS during the six months of the base existence.

Earlier this week, the Russian Defense Ministry said that 300 ISIS members that had seized the city of Al-Qaryatayn deep inside the government-held area came from the Rukban area.

Featured image is from Russia Insider.

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En 2014, une étude de Princeton avait conclu que les USA n’étaient plus une démocratie, mais une oligarchie : les choix des électeurs n’y influencent que marginalement, voire pas du tout les orientations politiques et sociales, qui sont entre les mains d’une micro-élite économique. Et, comme en avait déjà pris acte Danielle Mitterrand en 2005, toute la zone économique atlantique, et les autres alliés des USA, sont dans le même cas.


i voter changeait quelque chose, ils l’interdiraient. Dire cela peut sembler un peu désinvolte, mais penchons-nous sur les événements récents.

En janvier 2015, le peuple grec, fatigué et écoeuré de l’austérité et de la chute du niveau de vie, a voté pour Syriza, un parti radical anti-austérité. La coalition de la gauche, qui avait seulement été formée onze ans auparavant, a gagné 36,3% des votes et 149 des 300 sièges du Parlement hellénique. Le peuple grec entretenait des espoirs raisonnables de voir la fin de leur cauchemar austéritaire. La victoire de Syriza a été saluée par toute la gauche progressiste d’Europe.

Mais que s’est-il ensuite passé ?

Des pressions ont été appliquées sur la Grèce par « la Troïka » pour qu’elle accepte des termes exigeants en échange d’un nouveau repêchage. Syriza a consulté le peuple en juin 2015 par référendum avant d’accepter les termes.

« Dimanche, nous ne décidons pas simplement de rester dans l’UE, nous décidons de vivre dignement en Europe, » a déclaré Alexis Tsipras, le leader de Syriza. Le peuple grec a dûment donné à Tsipras le mandat qu’il demandait, en rejetant les termes du renflouement par 62,3% de ‘non’.

Et pourtant, tout juste deux semaines après le référendum, Syriza a accepté un package de mesures qui comprenait encore plus de coupes sombres dans les pensions et des augmentations de taxes encore plus fortes que celles de l’offre précédente.
Pour la différence que leur vote a fait, la population grecque aurait tout aussi bien pu rester à la maison le 27 juin.

De nombreux partisans de Donald Trump pensent sûrement la même chose.

Trump a gagné les élections en attirant les électeurs de la classe ouvrière et en offrant la perspective de la fin de la politique étrangère fondée sur « l’interventionnisme libéral » militaire. Et pourtant, au bout de neuf mois de présidence, la croyance selon laquelle Trump allait rompre avec ce qui l’avait précédé est en lambeaux. Les membres conservateurs nationalistes de son équipe ont été purgés, et Trump s’est révélé aussi belliqueux que ses prédécesseurs. Plutôt que de drainer le marécage de la politique washingtonienne comme il l’avait promis, Trump s’est mis à y patauger.

Les événements de 2017 prouvent sans l’ombre d’un doute, comme je l’ai déjà écrit ici, que les USA sont un régime et non une démocratie authentique, et que, quoi qu’ils aient promis lors de leur campagne électorale, tous ceux qui arrivent à la Maison-Blanche – un jour ou l’autre – sont forcés de s’aligner sur le Parti de la guerre/Wall Street/l’Etat profond.

Les Britanniques aussi ont eu leur leçon sur la façon dont la « démocratie » fonctionne quand les gens ne votent pas comme les puissants le leur demandent. Le 23 juin 2016, de façon justifiée ou non, 52% des votants ont décidé de quitter l’UE. Mais 15 mois plus tard, de plus en plus de gens pensent que la Grande-Bretagne, soit ne quittera jamais l’UE, soit restera dedans sauf nominalement. Le gouvernement n’a activé l’article 50 qu’en mars, après que les cours de justice aient décidé que le Brexit devait être déclenché par un vote du Parlement.

La semaine dernière, le Premier ministre Theresa May a demandé à l’UE une période de transition de deux ans, après le départ de la Grande-Bretagne en 2019. Il n’est pas difficile d’imaginer que la période de transition s’étendra indéfiniment. « J’ai exprimé cette crainte longtemps avant le discours affligeant de Theresa May à Florence, et je ne vois rien qui me rassure quant aux possibilités de respect des résultats du référendum, »écrit Peter Hill, ancien rédacteur en chef du Daily Express.

Les chances du maintien de la Grande-Bretagne dans l’UE au moins jusqu’en 2022 sont aujourd’hui de 3 contre 1. Et elles s’amenuisent tous les jours.

Ici encore, est-ce que les gens qui ont voté pour le Brexit en 2016 voulaient cela ? La question ici n’est pas que nous pensions, ou non, que quitter l’UE soit une bonne idée, mais la façon dont le référendum n’a pas débouché sur le résultat escompté.

Ce ne sont pas les seuls exemples de gens qui n’obtiennent pas ce pourquoi ils sont voté. En 2008, les Irlandais ont voté pour rejeter le Traité de Lisbonne de l’UE. Cela a-t-il clôt l’affaire ? Pas du tout. On les a fait re-voter – un an plus tard – et cette fois, l’UE a obtenu le résultat qu’elle voulait. [NdT : En France, en 2005, les électeurs avaient rejeté le projet de Constitution européenne à 55%. Dont les termes, repris par le Traité de Lisbonne, ont été imposés, nolens volens, peu de temps après par Nicolas Sarkozy et le Parlement.]

En mai 2012, le candidat du Parti « socialiste » François Hollande remportait une victoire décisive aux élections présidentielles. Comme Syriza, il avait promis d’en finir avec l’austérité.

« Je suis sûr que dans de nombreux pays, il y a un soulagement, un espoir pour qu’enfin, l’austérité ne soit plus inévitable », avait-il déclaré. Mais devinez quoi. Hollande n’a pas tué l’austérité. Un an après, il soutenait une nouvelle salve de coupes sombres, remettant au goût du jour le vieil adage, « plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose ».

Cela n’aurait pas surpris les étudiants français de politiques hongroises, étant donné que la même chose s’était produite en Hongrie dans les années 1990. Avec les élections de 1994, le Parti socialiste de Gyula Horn avait balayé le Forum démocrate hongrois, parti de centre-droite, en promettant de préserver les meilleurs aspects du système « communiste goulash » hongrois. Horn a attaqué les privatisations énergétiques, et promis de privilégier les intérêts des travailleurs hongrois. Mais les forces du capital occidental n’avaient pas l’intention d’autoriser la survie du moindre vestige de socialisme dans les anciens pays du bloc de l’Est.

Sous la pression des institutions financières occidentales, Horn a spectaculairement retourné sa veste, mettant à la porte ses ministres authentiquement de gauche, et appointant un professeur d’économie néolibéral appelé Lajos Bokros pour imposer un programme d’austérité brutal, qui était bien pire que tout ce que le gouvernement précédent avait proposé. Il a aussi accéléré les privatisations.

Vous voyez le schéma ?

Ce que les exemples cités illustrent est que, quels que soient nos votes, les individus des coulisses – les hommes d’argent, les bureaucrates, ceux qui ne veulent pas voir la fin du mondialisme néolibéral parce qu’ils en profitent – n’accepteront pas passivement le verdict du peuple. Si les « masses » votent « mal », par exemple pour Trump, pour Syriza, pour le Brexit ou pour Hollande ou Horn, ils trouvent des moyens de rapidement ramener les choses à leur condition habituelle.

Je pense qu’il y a là des leçons importantes pour le Parti travailliste britannique, qui pourrait être à la veille de prendre le pouvoir. Comme beaucoup de gens cette semaine, j’ai été très impressionné par le discours délivré par le leader des Travaillistes, Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn s’est engagé à développer « un nouveau modèle de gestion économique pour remplacer les dogmes ratés du néolibéralisme ».

Ce qui est une hérésie pour les élites néolibérales pro-guerre.

Les sondages d’opinion démontrent que le Parti travailliste, qui a enregistré sa plus grande augmentation de parts des votes depuis 1945, a une confortable avance. Les chiens d’attaque des élites économiques ont aboyé contre Corbyn depuis le premier jour, et il serait totalement naïf de penser que cela s’arrêterait s’il obtenait les clés du 10, Downing Street. [NdT : Résidence du Premier ministre britannique.] En fait, la guerre contre Jeremy et ses proches collaborateurs ne fera que s’intensifier. La bonne nouvelle est que le Parti travailliste se prépare déjà à une fuite des capitaux et à une guerre contre la livre sterling s’il est élu. Paul Mason, un observateur pro-travailliste, a dit que les premiers six mois d’un gouvernement Corbyn seraient comme ‘Stalingrad’.

Bien sûr, vous pourriez dire que des personnages comme Trump, Hollande et Tsipras n’avaient jamais été totalement sincères quant à leur programme, et qu’ils avaient dit ‘ce qu’il fallait dire’ pour être élus. Mais même quand les politicien sont à 100% authentiques, comme semble l’être le vétéran de l’activisme anti-guerre Jeremy Corbyn, les pressions qu’ils subissent pour céder aux puissances des coulisses sont immenses, tout particulièrement s’ils s’obstinent à proposer des politiques dont les élites économiques néolibérales ne veulent pas.

L’histoire récente nous révèle que dans les « démocraties » occidentales modernes, les votes en eux-mêmes ne déterminent pas les résultats. Ce qui compte est ce qui vient après.

Neil Clark 
Paru sur RT sous le titre Trump, Syriza & Brexit prove voting is only small part of the battle

Traduction et note d’introduction Entelekheia

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On September 29, 2017, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the decision to significantly downscale the diplomatic staff of the US embassy in Havana and withdraw all their relatives, claiming that there had been “attacks” perpetrated against US Government officials in Cuba which have harmed their health.

Once again, on October 3, the US Government, in an unwarranted act, decided that 15 officials of the Cuban Embassy in Washington should depart from the United States, claiming that the US had reduced their diplomatic staffing levels in Havana and that the Cuban Government had failed to take all appropriate steps to prevent “attacks” against them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly protests and condemns this unfounded and unacceptable decision as well as the pretext used to justify it, for it has been asserted that the Cuban Government did not take the appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of the alleged incidents.

In the meeting that, at the proposal of the Cuban side, was held with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, warned him against the adoption of hasty decisions that were not supported by evidence; urged him not to politicize a matter of this nature and once again required the effective cooperation from the US authorities to clarify facts and conclude the investigation.

It is the second time, after May 23, 2017, that the State Department orders two Cuban diplomats in Washington to abandon the country; that the US Government reacts in a hasty, inappropriate and unthinking way, without having evidence of the occurrence of the adduced facts, for which Cuba has no responsibility whatsoever and before the conclusion of the investigation that is still in progress.

Just as was expressed by the Cuban Foreign Minister to Secretary of State Tillerson on September 26, 2017, Cuba, whose diplomatic staff members have been victims in the past of attempts perpetrated against their lives, who have been murdered, disappeared, kidnapped or attacked during the performance of their duty, has seriously and strictly observed its obligations under the Geneva Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 referring to the protection and integrity of diplomatic agents accredited in the country, in which it has an impeccable record.

As was informed by the Ministry on August 9 last, since February 17, 2017, when the US embassy and State Department notified the alleged occurrence of incidents against some officials of that diplomatic mission and their relatives as from November 2016, arguing that these had caused them injuries and other disorders, the Cuban authorities have acted with utmost seriousness, professionalism and immediacy to clarify this situation and opened an exhaustive and priority investigation following instructions from the top level of the Government. The measures adopted to protect the US diplomatic staff, their relatives and residences were reinforced; new expeditious communication channels were established between the US embassy and the Diplomatic Security Department and a committee of experts was created to make a comprehensive analysis of facts, which was made up by law enforcement officials, physicians and scientists.

In the face of the belated, fragmented and insufficient information supplied by the US, the Cuban authorities requested further information and clarifications from the US embassy in order to carry out a serious and profound investigation.

The US embassy only delivered some data of interest on the alleged incidents after February 21, when President Raúl Castro Ruz personally reiterated to the Chargé d’Affairs of the US diplomatic mission how important it was for the competent authorities from both countries to cooperate and exchange more information. Nevertheless, the data supplied later on continued to be lacking in the descriptions or details that would facilitate the characterization of facts or the identification of potential perpetrators, in case there were any.

In the weeks that followed, in view of new reports on the alleged incidents and the scarce information that had been delivered, the Cuban authorities reiterated the need to establish an effective cooperation and asked the US authorities for more information and insisted that the occurrence of any new incident should be notified in real time, which would provide for a timely action.

Besides all of the above and in the interest of contributing to the investigation and legal process established by virtue of the Cuban Criminal Procedural Law, the US received from Cuba some requests for information as part of the inquiry procedure.

The information delivered by the US authorities led the committee of Cuban experts conclude that this was insufficient and that the main obstacle to clarify the incidents had been the impossibility to have direct access to the injured people and the physicians who examined them; the belated delivery of evidence and their deficient value; the absence of reliable first-hand and verifiable information and the inability to exchange with US experts who are knowledgeable about this kind of events and the technology that could have been used, despite having repeatedly stating this as a requirement to be able to move forward in the investigation.

Only after repeated requests were conveyed to the US Government, some representatives of specialized agencies of that country finally traveled to Havana on June last, met with their Cuban counterparts and expressed their intention to cooperate in a more substantive way in the investigation of the alleged incidents. They again visited Cuba in August and September, and for the first time in more than 50 years they were allowed to work on the ground, for which they were granted all facilities, including the possibility of importing equipment, as a gesture of good will that evidenced the great interest of the Cuban government in concluding the investigation.

The Cuban authorities highly assessed the three visits made by the US specialized agencies, which have recognized the high professional level of the investigation started by Cuba and its high technical and scientific component, and which, as a preliminary result, concluded that, so far, according to the information available and the data supplied by the United States, there were no evidence of the occurrence of the alleged incidents or the causes and the origin of the health disorders reported by the US diplomats and their relatives. Neither has it been possible to identify potential perpetrators or persons with motivations, intentions or means to perpetrate this type of actions; nor was it possible to establish the presence of suspicious persons or means at the locations where such facts have been reported or in their vicinity. The Cuban authorities are not familiar with the equipment or the technology that could be used for that purpose; nor do they have information indicating their presence in the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically rejects any responsibility of the Cuban Government in the alleged incidents and reiterates once again that Cuba has never perpetrated, nor will it ever perpetrate attacks of any sort against diplomatic officials or their relatives, without any exception. Neither has it ever allowed nor will it ever allow its territory to be used by third parties with that purpose.

The Ministry emphasizes that the US Government announced decision to reduce Cuba’s diplomatic staff in Washington without the conclusive results from the investigation and without evidence of the incidents that would be affecting their officials in Cuba has an eminently political character.

The Ministry urges the competent authorities of the US Government not to continue politicizing this matter, which can provoke an undesirable escalation and would rarify and reverse even more bilateral relations, which were already affected by the announcement of a new policy made in June last by President Donald Trump.

The Ministry reiterates Cuba’s disposition to continue fostering a serious and objective cooperation between the authorities of both countries with the purpose of clarifying these facts and conclude the investigation, for which it will be essential to count on the most effective cooperation of the US competent agencies.

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With President Trump again facing the requirement to certify whether Iran is complying with the P5+1 nuclear deal this month, it looks like a major clash may be brewing between the president and the neocons on one side, and the military generals he openly embraces in his Administration on the other. What might normally be a fairly automatic and objective process is looking more like a clash of the titans for the Administration. Who will blink?

In what must be a relatively uncommon if not unprecedented move, President Trump’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff —  the country’s senior-most military officer — Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that Iran is complying with the agreement and that the United States would suffer negative consequences if it pulled out of the deal.

In so doing, Gen. Dunford directly contradicts his boss, President Trump, who said in late August that Iran is:

…not in compliance with the agreement and they certainly are not in the spirit of the agreement in compliance, and I think you’ll see some very strong things taking place if they don’t get themselves in compliance.

Dunford made the point to the Senate Committee that if the US unilaterally pulls out of the Iran deal claiming non-compliance while the rest of the world holds the opposite view it would negatively impact the US ability to make future deals. No doubt  he was thinking of the current stand-off with North Korea.

Said the Joint Chiefs Chairman:

It makes sense to me that our holding up agreements that we have signed, unless there’s a material breach, would have an impact on others’ willingness to sign agreements.

Gen. Dunford’s concern over whether the US would continue to be a trusted and reliable partner after unilaterally de-certifying Iran is particularly relevant when one looks at the fate of former US allies such as Libya’s Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Panama’s Noriega, and so on. Unless the US is able to strong-arm a considerable number of its allies into also decertifying Iran, the US would find itself backed into a corner on any non-unilateral, non-military efforts overseas. The US would be likely hard-pressed to find a sufficient number of allies willing to follow Washington back to a policy of open confrontation with Iran, particularly as the economic opening to Tehran has proven so profitable and mutually advantageous to them.

Then just yesterday, another of “Trump’s generals” echoed Dunford. Defense Secretary James Mattis, former US Marine Corps general and former Commander of US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believes it is in the national security interest of the United States to remain part of the Iran agreement. Said Mattis yesterday,

“I believe at this point in time, absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with.”

This follows a letter sent to the president in July from “38 former flag officers from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) [the Iran deal] has achieved its aims over the two years since it was signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers.”

The military officers so often deferred to by President Trump are on one side of the Iran recertification issue and the president and his fair weather cheerleaders in the neocon camp are on the other side.

Trump’s trigger-happy ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, in a September speech to the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute said that President Trump would have “ground to stand on” should he decide to decertify Iranian compliance. Her argument was the opposite of Gen. Dunford’s, as she claimed that the US remaining in the deal with Iran would demonstrate to North Korea that Washington is more interested in placating its allies than in looking out for its security interests.

Neoconservative Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has urged President Trump to pull the US out of the Iran deal, saying last month,

“I don’t see how anyone who looks at the facts…can say the deal is in our vital national security interests.”

Sen. Cotton’s already aggressive position vis-a-vis Iran was no doubt further greased by the nearly one million dollars he was paid by neocon kingpin William Kristol‘s Emergency Committee for Israel to oppose the Iran deal.

Ambassador Nikki Haley is promoting Sen. Cotton’s rationale for decertification of Iran delivered yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations and Bill Kristol is right on board. Why decertify Iran? As Sen. Cotton told the CFR crowd:

“One thing I learned in the army is that when your opponent is on his knees, you drive him to the ground, and you choke him out.”

At least he is clear about his alternative approach to Iran.

Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who is no doubt already measuring the drapes in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s office, went so far as to pen a helpful guide to exiting the Iran deal for President Trump. Despite Bolton’s verbosity — a neocon specialty — his grand plan for exiting the deal consists of: 1) strong-arming allies, 2) producing more neocon “white papers” on how bad the deal is, and 3) further propagandizing Congress and the American people.

Where exactly is Iran in violation? Bolton doesn’t say.

And what is Bolton’s next step once his decertification “plan” is implemented? In his own words: “Expedite delivery of bunker-buster bombs” to the region.

Will President Trump listen to Bolton’s roadmap to exiting the Iran deal? Will he consider Bolton’s track record when it comes to planning foreign policy actions? If Bolton were a baseball player, he’d be benched with a .000 batting average.

Will Trump listen to Nikki Haley, Bill Kristol, Tom Cotton, or the rest of the neocon desk generals when it comes to Iran? Or will he listen to his actual generals? This may be the most important foreign policy decision in Trump’s presidency. Grave matters of war or peace hang in the balance. Will the neocons win again?

Featured image is from the author.

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Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Wins Nobel Peace Prize

October 6th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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War criminals like Obama and Henry Kissinger usually get the award, last year narco-terrorist Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, this year an exception to standard practice – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons the honoree (ICAN).

Launched in 2007, the group now has 468 partner organizations in 101 countries. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, its international steering group and staff coordinate campaign activities.

They include “global days of action, hold(ing) public awareness-raising events, and engag(ing) in advocacy at the United Nations and in national parliaments” to persuade countries to support banning nuclear weapons, the group explained.

In announcing the 2017 award, the Nobel Committee said it chose ICAN “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

The organization “has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.”

In July 2017, 122 UN member states expressed support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

If ratified by 50 or more nations, banning these weapons will be binding under international law – at the same time, accomplishing nothing toward eliminating them, possible only with enough unattainable political will.

The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, merged with the Cluster Munition Coalition (the ICBL-CMC), did nothing to eliminate use of these weapons – despite the 1999 Mine Ban Treaty and 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions banning them.

Nuclear weapons threaten humanity’s survival like no others. If not eliminated, they may eliminate us. The risk is too overwhelming to ignore.

Far more than a Nobel Peace prize to ICAN is needed to accomplish what continues to be unattainable – to save us from possible nuclear annihilation.

What should be the top priority of all nations isn’t even a topic considered worthy of serious discussion in Washington and other nuclear-armed states.

Possible US-initiated nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, endangering the entire region if launched, highlights the horror these weapons pose.

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

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

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

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

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The Rising of Britain’s ‘New Politics’

October 6th, 2017 by John Pilger

Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.

It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics.

Addressing the conference, the campaigner Naomi Klein described the rise of Corbyn as “part of a global phenomenon. We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries, powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future.”

In fact, at the end of the US primary elections last year, Sanders led his followers into the arms of Hillary Clinton, a liberal warmonger from a long tradition in the Democratic Party.

As President Obama’s Secretary of State, Clinton presided over the invasion of Libya in 2011, which led to a stampede of refugees to Europe. She gloated at the gruesome murder of Libya’s president. Two years earlier, Clinton signed off on a coup that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras. That she has been invited to Wales on 14 October to be given an honorary doctorate by the University of Swansea because she is “synonymous with human rights” is unfathomable.

Like Clinton, Sanders is a cold-warrior and “anti-communist” obsessive with a proprietorial view of the world beyond the United States. He supported Bill Clinton’s and Tony Blair’s illegal assault on Yugoslavia in 1998 and the invasions of Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, as well as Barack Obama’s campaign of terrorism by drone. He backs the provocation of Russia and agrees that the whistleblower Edward Snowden should stand trial. He has called the late Hugo Chavez – a social democrat who won multiple elections – “a dead communist dictator”.

While Sanders is a familiar American liberal politician, Corbyn may be a phenomenon, with his indefatigable support for the victims of American and British imperial adventures and for popular resistance movements.

For example, in the 1960s and 70s, the Chagos islanders were expelled from their homeland, a British colony in the Indian Ocean, by a Labour government. An entire population was kidnapped. The aim was to make way for a US military base on the main island of Diego Garcia: a secret deal for which the British were “compensated” with a discount of $14 million off the price of a Polaris nuclear submarine.

I have had much to do with the Chagos islanders and have filmed them in exile in Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they suffered and some of them “died from sadness”, as I was told. They found a political champion in a Labour Member of Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn.

So did the Palestinians. So did Iraqis terrorised by a Labour prime minister’s invasion of their country in 2003. So did others struggling to break free from the web of western power. Corbyn supported the likes of Hugo Chavez, who brought more than hope to societies subverted by the US behemoth.

And yet, now Corbyn is closer to power than he might have ever imagined, his foreign policy remains a secret.

By secret, I mean there has been rhetoric and little else.

“We must put our values at the heart of our foreign policy,” he said at the Labour conference.

But what are these “values”?

Since 1945, like the Tories, British Labour has been an imperial party, obsequious to Washington: a record exemplified by the crime in the Chagos islands.

What has changed? Is Corbyn saying Labour will uncouple itself from the US war machine, and the US spying apparatus and US economic blockades that scar humanity?

His shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, says a Corbyn government “will put human rights back at the heart of Britain’s foreign policy”. But human rights have never been at the heart of British foreign policy — only “interests”, as Lord Palmerston declared in the 19th century: the interests of those at the apex of British society.

Thornberry quoted the late Robin Cook who, as Tony Blair’s first Foreign Secretary in 1997, pledged an “ethical foreign policy” that would “make Britain once again a force for good in the world”.

History is not kind to imperial nostalgia. The recently commemorated division of India by a Labour government in 1947 – with a border hurriedly drawn up by a London barrister, Gordon Radcliffe, who had never been to India and never returned – led to blood-letting on a genocidal scale.

Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day
Patrolling the gardens to keep the assassins away,
He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate
Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date
And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect,
But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect
Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,
A continent for better or worse divided.

W.H. Auden, ‘Partition’.

It was the same Labour government (1945-51), led by Prime Minister Clement Attlee – “radical” by today’s standards — that dispatched General Douglas Gracey’s British imperial army to Saigon with orders to re-arm the defeated Japanese in order to prevent Vietnamese nationalists from liberating their own country. Thus, the longest war of the century was ignited.

It was a Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, whose policy of “mutuality” and “partnership” with some of the world’s most vicious despots, especially in the Middle East, forged relationships that endure today, often sidelining and crushing the human rights of whole communities and societies. The cause was British “interests” – oil, power and wealth.

In the “radical” 1960s, Labour’s Defence Secretary, Denis Healey, set up the Defence Sales Organisation (DSO) specifically to boost the arms trade and make money from selling lethal weapons to the world. Healey told Parliament,

“While we attach the highest importance to making progress in the field of arms control and disarmament, we must also take what practical steps we can to ensure that this country does not fail to secure its rightful share of this valuable market.”

The doublethink was quintessentially Labour. When I later asked Healey about this “valuable market”, he claimed his decision made no difference to the volume of military exports. In fact, it led to an almost doubling of Britain’s share of the arms market. Today, Britain is the second biggest arms dealer on earth, selling arms and fighter planes, machine guns and “riot control” vehicles, to 22 of the 30 countries on the British Government’s own list of human rights violators.

Will this stop under a Corbyn government? The preferred model – Robin Cook’s “ethical foreign policy” – is revealing. Like Jeremy Corbyn, Cook made his name as a backbencher and critic of the arms trade.

“Wherever weapons are sold,” wrote Cook, “there is a tacit conspiracy to conceal the reality of war” and “it is a truism that every war for the past two decades has been fought by poor countries with weapons supplied by rich countries”.

Cook singled out the sale of British Hawk fighters to Indonesia as “particularly disturbing”. Indonesia “is not only repressive but actually at war on two fronts: in East Timor, where perhaps a sixth of the population has been slaughtered … and in West Papua, where it confronts an indigenous liberation movement”.

As Foreign Secretary, Cook promised “a thorough review of arms sales”. The then Nobel Peace Laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor, appealed directly to Cook:

“Please, I beg you, do not sustain any longer a conflict which without these arms sales could never have been pursued in the first place and not for so very long.”

He was referring to Indonesia’s bombing of East Timor with British Hawks and the slaughter of his people with British machine guns. He received no reply.

The following week Cook called journalists to the Foreign Office to announce his “mission statement” for “human rights in a new century”. This PR event included the usual private briefings for selected journalists, including the BBC, in which Foreign Office officials lied that there was “no evidence” that British Hawk aircraft were deployed in East Timor.

A few days later, the Foreign Office issued the results of Cook’s “thorough review” of arms sales policy.

“It was not realistic or practical,” wrote Cook, “to revoke licences which were valid and in force at the time of Labour’s election victory”.

Suharto’s Minister for Defence, Edi Sudradjat, said that talks were already under way with Britain for the purchase of 18 more Hawk fighters.

“The political change in Britain will not affect our negotiations,” he said.

He was right.

Today, replace Indonesia with Saudi Arabia and East Timor with Yemen. British military aircraft – sold with the approval of both Tory and Labour governments and built by the firm whose promotional video had pride of place at Labour’s 2017 party conference – are bombing the life out of Yemen, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, where half the children are malnourished and there is the greatest cholera epidemic in modern times.

Hospitals and schools, weddings and funerals have been attacked. In Ryadh, British military personnel are reported to be training the Saudis in selecting targets.

In Labour’s current manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn and his party colleagues promised that

“Labour will demand a comprehensive, independent, UN-led investigation into alleged violations … in Yemen, including air strikes on civilians by the Saudi-led coalition. We will immediately suspend any further arms sales for use in the conflict until that investigation is concluded.”

But the evidence of Saudi Arabia’s crimes in Yemen is already documented by Amnesty and others, notably by the courageous reporting of the British journalist Iona Craig. The dossier is voluminous.

Labour does not promise to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia. It does not say Britain will withdraw its support for governments responsible for the export of Islamist jihadism. There is no commitment to dismantle the arms trade.

The manifesto describes a “special relationship [with the US] based on shared values … When the current Trump administration chooses to ignore them … we will not be afraid to disagree”.

As Jeremy Corbyn knows, dealing with the US is not about merely “disagreeing”. The US is a rapacious, rogue power that ought not to be regarded as a natural ally of any state championing human rights, irrespective of whether Trump or anyone else is President.

When Emily Thornberry , in her conference speech, linked Venezuela with the Philippines as “increasingly autocratic regimes” – slogans bereft of facts and ignoring the subversive US role in Venezuela — she was consciously playing to the enemy: a tactic with which Jeremy Corbyn will be familiar.

A Corbyn government will allow the Chagos islanders the right of return. But Labour says nothing about renegotiating the 50-year renewal agreement that Britain has just signed with the US allowing it to use the base on Diego Garcia from which it has bombed Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Corbyn government will “immediately recognise the state of Palestine”. There is silence on whether Britain will continue to arm Israel, continue to acquiesce in the illegal trade in Israel’s illegal “settlements” and treat Israel merely as a warring party, rather than as an historic oppressor given immunity by Washington and London.

On Britain’s support for Nato’s current war preparations, Labour boasts that the “last Labour government spent above the benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP” on Nato. It says,

“Conservative spending cuts have put Britain’s security at risk” and promises to boost Britain’s military “obligations”.

In fact, most of the £40 billion Britain currently spends on the military is not for territorial defence of the UK but for offensive purposes to enhance British “interests” as defined by those who have tried to smear Jeremy Corbyn as unpatriotic.

If the polls are reliable, most Britons are well ahead of their politicians, Tory and Labour. They would accept higher taxes to pay for public services; they want the National Health Service restored to full health. They want decent jobs and wages and housing and schools; they do not hate foreigners but resent exploitative labour. They have no fond memory of an empire on which the sun never set.

They oppose the invasion of other countries and regard Blair as a liar. The rise of Donald Trump has reminded them what a menace the United States can be, especially with their own country in tow.

The Labour Party is the beneficiary of this mood, but many of its pledges – certainly in foreign policy – are qualified and compromised, suggesting, for many Britons, more of the same.

Jeremy Corbyn is widely and properly recognised for his integrity; he opposes the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons; the Labour Party supports it. But he has given shadow cabinet positions to pro-war MPs who support Blairism, tried to get rid of him and abused him as “unelectable”.

“We are the political mainstream now,” says Corbyn. Yes, but at what price?

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We’re at the point as a country where even the renewed threat of a preemptive nuclear war on North Korea can’t compete with media coverage of the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas. What were the odds we’d end up like this?

On October 1, the hint of back-channel contact between the US and North Korea was front page news. While visiting China, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that the US was exploring the possibility of talks with North Korea in an effort to de-escalate and eventually resolve conflict over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Tillerson said:

We are probing, so stay tuned. We asked, “Would you like to talk?” We have lines of communication to Pyongyang [the North Korean capital] — we’re not in a dark situation, a blackout. We have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang. We can talk to them. We do talk to them directly through our own channels.

This echoed Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, although Tillerson did not mention it. According to The New York Times,

“Tillerson said the most important thing was to lower the temperature of the threats being exchanged in recent days between Mr. Kim and President Trump.”

These included North Korea’s threat of an atmospheric test of a hydrogen bomb and Trump’s threat of genocide against 25 million Koreans. Tillerson commented dryly:

The whole situation is a bit overheated right now. If North Korea would stop firing its missiles, that would calm things down a lot…. I think everyone would like for it to calm down.

Well not everyone, as it turned out. Tweeting from the hip not a day later, the US sniper-in-chief got off a few rounds:

I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…. Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!

This, too, made front page news till it was blown away by the Las Vegas massacre. The US Secretary of State looking to calm things down is a soft story and even the President putting nuclear war back on the table has an old news quality that can’t compete with fresh blood here and now.

This turn of events prompted the Atlantic to run a story headlined: “Rex Tillerson Must Go.” The argument was that Tillerson can’t stay after being humiliated like that, since the President’s repudiation has destroyed the Secretary of State’s credibility. If Tillerson stays, Eliot Cohen argues, he will be reduced to a moral weakling and lickspittle. That assumes he’s not one now, and the record is mixed.

Others suggested that Trump and Tillerson are playing good cop, bad cop, an analogy that’s hard to apply, since the resulting confusion only leaves North Korea scratching its head. More likely they’re playing bad cop, worse cop. Most likely they’re not playing anything conceptualized and coordinated. Tillerson seems to be trying to be the grown-up in the room, and Trump is having none of it.

And at about 6 a.m. on October 4, NBC News ran a story with this hopeful headline: “Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required an Intervention From Pence.” But it was not a current story, it was a mostly hyped-up report of a July meeting in a secure room in the Pentagon where Tillerson, meeting with top national security officials, called Trump a “moron” and wanted to resign, but the Vice President talked him out of it. That report was based on anonymous sources, some of whom were in the secure room. Now everyone, including Tillerson, denies he called the President a “moron.” There has been no denial that the President is a moron. A few hours after the NBC story broke, Tillerson called a news conference to affirm his loyalty to the President. Refusing to address the “moron” element, calling it “petty nonsense,” Tillerson said:

I have never considered leaving this post…. I have answered that question repeatedly. For some reason it continues to be mis-reported. There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave. I serve at the appointment of the President and I’m here for as long as the President feels I can be useful to achieving his objectives.

Tillerson has performed as Trump’s faithful toady in his adoration of totalitarian Saudi Arabia, his praise for the emerging dictatorship in Turkey, and his support for selling F-16s to the police state of Bahrain. At other times, Tillerson has put on a show of being independent and clearheaded, as in a late August interview where Chris Wallace questioned whether the US still lives by traditional American values:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”

Chris Wallace: “And the president’s values?”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “The president speaks for himself, Chris.”

To pretend that the commander-in-chief speaks only for himself is truly whistling past the graveyard. And Tillerson has done that before, in early August, when he played the minimization card instead of the calm-things-down card:

I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days. I think the president, again, as commander-in-chief — think he felt it necessary to issue a very strong statement directly to North Korea.

This was the same time that Secretary of Defense James Mattis was joining Trump in threatening a nuclear attack, as reported by Democracy Now:

Defense Secretary James Mattis threatened a nuclear attack. On Wednesday, Mattis warned North Korea not to take any action that could result in the “end of its regime” and the “destruction of its people.” His comments came a day after Trump startled the world — and, reportedly, his own advisers — threatening North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

A month earlier, perhaps just by coincidence, Tillerson moved to shut the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice that worked to hold war criminals accountable for their war crimes, of which a first strike nuclear war would be one. What was that Tillerson was saying about American values? As David Scheffer, who was the first US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, said:

“This sends a strong signal to perpetrators of mass atrocities that the United States is not watching you anymore.”

This news broke the same day that a Human Rights Watch report described US complicity in a torture regime in southern Yemen. Run by the United Arab Emirates, an ally of Saudi Arabia in the US-backed genocidal war on Yemen, the torture program is run in a secret network of prisons operated on behalf of the Yemeni government-in-exile in Saudi Arabia — all of which comprises a nexus of international war crimes that the US has supported for more than two years.

Back in April there was an earlier run of the North Korea nuclear war bait and switch. Then Trump fulminated:

“There’s a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.”

At the same time, Tillerson was soft-shoeing about the US being open to negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program. Pay no attention to what we say, watch what we do.

That was also when the THAAD missile defense program made a brief appearance in the news. THAAD is expensive military technology intended to intercept short range missiles heading for South Korea, especially the capital, Seoul. THAAD’s reliability is uncertain. THAAD is useless against the major threat to Seoul, massive North Korean artillery batteries some 30 miles away. But it is a provocation to North Korea. The US more or less forced an unwilling South Korea to accept some THAAD batteries, then secretly installed more than South Korea had agreed to. In late April, Trump started demanding that South Korea pay the US $1 billion for the unwanted THAAD installation, or else the US might cancel a free trade deal between the two countries.

What is that called? A shakedown? Extortion? New York real estate dealing?

Meanwhile at the State Department, Tillerson has gone for months with staff positions unfilled amid reports of the agency functioning uncertainly, with chronic low morale. Tillerson has long endorsed significant budget cuts at State with little public discussion of the reasoning or the consequences. General James Mattis, not Secretary of Defense, once said,

“If you don’t fund the State Department fully, than I need to buy more ammunition.”

Back in March, while visiting Seoul, Tillerson took a hard line on North Korea:

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended. We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table.”

Tillerson just does his job and maybe Exxon gets to drill in the Arctic some day.

Now it all makes a kind of sense, maybe. The policy of strategic patience ended just as South Korea elected a new president committed to talking to the North. The US could lose control of such bi-lateral negotiations. Create enough fear and uncertainty all around and everyone has to buy more military hardware, even unwanted, ineffective missile defense systems. Let the good times roll, right up to the brink of Armageddon, whoo-eee!

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

This article was originally published by Reader Supported News.

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On September 25, 92 percent from the total of 8.4 million of Iraqi Kurds have voted “yes” to independence on the Iraqi Kurdish referendum, on whether to secede from the Iraqi territory. That was a symbolic step for the world’s largest ethnic group composed by more than 30 million people spread across five countries, to settle a homeland of their own in northern Iraq where the Iraqi Kurdistan is made up of three provinces run by an autonomous regional government, and protected by their own security services.

The Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Haidar Mansour Hadi has pointed out to Pravda that

“the referendum was a severe violation to the Iraqi Constitution, that represents the social contract between all Iraqi components, ratified by the Kurdish people in a way exceeded other Iraqi provinces: Erbil 99.36%, Dohuk 99.13% and Sulaimania 98.96% votes.”

Noting that the people who are claiming to secede from Iraq are genuine participants in the Federal Government since 2003, the Iraqi official said that the Kurds cannot justify a secession. “The Kurdish people are part of Iraqi people.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on foreign states to stop cooperating with the the Iraq’s autonomous and oil-rich Kurdish on issues in the oil sector, and also demanded that all border posts with Turkey, Syria and Iran be placed under Baghdad’s supervision, closing airports. Turkey also responded aggressively, threatening military action and sanctions in order to force the Kurds to “give up on this adventure that can only have a dark end.”

As the Kurdish leadership is claiming that Baghdad government is punishing the Kurdish people by closing borders and airports, for trying to express their rights, Ambassador Haidar has observed that the Iraqi Federal Government has full rights to control the airports in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, subject all border crossings to federal authorities and close all non-official ports.

“As the Kurdish people are part of Iraqi people, the governmental procedures are basically addressed to deter the Kurdish government for fragmenting Iraq’s unity and preserve its regional position,” he said.

“Oil exporting, foreign trade, investments, bank transactions and the diplomatic and consulate representations are subjected to the federal government authority,” added the Iraqi diplomat to Russia.

The international community and regional neighbors have opposed the referendum, but there is only one government all over the world which has openly supported it: the State of Israel, year by year condemned by several international organizations for crimes against humanity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

An Iraq senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity to this report, has stated that

“Tel Aviv is only interested on weaken Iraq.”

Ambassador Haidar adds that,

“the Kurdish people are part of Iraqi people, and the governmental procedures are basically addressed to deter the Kurdish government for fragmenting Iraq’s unity, and preserve its regional position.”

As Lebanese journalist and political commentator Osama al-Sharif wrote in the Jordan Times,

“Netanyahu and his far right allies know very well that a unilateral Kurdish decision to cede from Iraq in the absence of an agreement over a number of contentious issues, least of which is the future of oil-rich Kirkuk province, would trigger a civil war that is likely to spill over.”

In the mid 1960s and 70s, Mossad planned and funded a Kurdish Army to fight Iraqi troops in northern Iraq, and other Israel enemies in the Middle East: Syria and Egypt. One of Zionists’s partner then was Mullah Mustafa Barzani, Masoud Barzani’s father, currently the (illegal) President of Kurdistan, and Nechirvan Idris Barzani‘s grandfather, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) a nephew of Masoud Barzani, who rules the region without any legal basis since 2015: in 2013 he concluded his eight-year term in the Kurdish Presidency, extended by two years by the local Parliament but, since the mandate totally expired, Barzani has prevented the Members of Parliament from setting up new elections.

As observed the website The Moon of Alabama, Barzani’s corrupted power has also been propelled by the United States oil interests in the region.

“The Kurds pumped and sold oil without the consent of Baghdad. Corruption rules in Kurdistan and the regional government had to rob local banks to find fresh money. That still wasn’t enough to pay salaries. The Barzani family mafia has robbed the region blind. To keep going, the local government needs to annex more riches and widen its business base.”

In August 24, 2015, The Jerusalem Post reported,

“Majority of Israeli Oil Imported from Kurdistan [report title]. Importing crude from Erbil [capital of the KRG] could be geopolitically, economically favorable for Jerusalem. Israel had imported as much as 77 percent of its oil supply from Kurdistan [KRG] in recent months, bringing in some 19 million barrels between the beginning of May and August 11. During that period, more than a third of all northern Iraqi [KRG] exports, shipped through Turkey’s Ceyhan port, went to Israel, with transactions amounting to almost $1 billion.”

Recently reported on teleSUR English on September 26,

“an official within Iran’s Expediency Council, Ali Akbar Velayati, stated before the vote that the existence of a secessionist Kurdish state in Iraq would only benefit the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel, both of whom seek to “colonize and dominate” the Middle East.”

Asked about the Kurdish claim that the vote acknowledges their contribution in confronting Islamic State group after it overwhelmed the Iraqi Army in 2014, Ambassador Haidar stated that the Kurdish referendum undermines the international efforts to combat terrorism, especially the battle against Daesh:

“It’s considered a danger on the security of the region. Not just Kurdistan fought ISIS. All Iraqis fought hand in hand and sacrificed their lives in order to win the war against ISIS.”

“Since 2003, our Kurdish brothers were an important part of the Iraqi political process we together, as Iraqis, worked closely to convince the US-led forces to leave Iraq after signing a strategic agree with the United States,” added the Iraqi Ambassador.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said, previously to the vote, that Kurds will not declare independence, but “will engage in serious negotiations with Baghdad.” Ambassador Haidar observes that from the beginning, Kurds want their own independent state.

“I would strongly disagree with what Prime Minister of Kurdistan said.”

“The Federal Government in Baghdad refuses any negotiation with the Kurdish leadership, unless they admit the referendum results are void, and the referendum itself is a violation of the Constitution,” remarked the Iraqi diplomat to Moscow.

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Cara e coroa da moeda tupiniquim são reacionárias, na essência. Todavia, os pretensos “dálmatas”
e “iorque-cháiars” à “esquerda” são bem mais cínicos, além de morderem brabo, convenhamos…
“A revolução não é só uma bisteca no prato em cada mesa, nem muito menos uma TV em cada quarto e nem, absolutamente, um carro em cada porta. A revolução é, sobretudo, uma mudança de atitude nas relações humanas. “Alfredo Maneiro (político venezuelano)

O festival de corrupção e politicagem mais baixo enraizado, sim, no Brasil, não tiveram início em 2003 quando Luiz Inácio assumiu a Presidência, longe disso e bem ao contrário da ideia passada pelos grandes meios de comunicação, pelas ignorantes e devastadoras elites deste País, e até pela “Justiça” brasileira, altamente discriminadora (especialmente contra o 3P).

Contudo, desde então o País assiste a “mais do mesmo” histórico e com um interessante detalhe, que não pode mesmo cair no esquecimento nem se fingir que não é percebido – se é que o Brasil ainda espera algum conserto em contraposição a este concerto ridículo: à “esquerda”!

Pode-se dizer também, com bastante certeza, que envolvendo este setor o cinismo é bem mais gritante – insuportavelmente gritante. Haja vista a agressiva esquizofrenia contra as diferenças causada por tal setor – ainda que as críticas sejam, nos dias de hoje e quando usurpava o poder, idênticas àquelas feitas pelo próprio PT enquanto oposição. É tão desesperador este fato quanto a realidade indisfarçãvel que personagens como Jair Bolsonaro são bem menos indecentes com seu próprio eleitorado que muitos desses ditos de “esquerda”, especialmente o setor a ser abordado a seguir.

Repressão a movimentos sociais, término do genocídio contra povos originários, nem sequer proposta de reforma agrária, precarização crônica do trabalho como sempre foi, saneamento básico, saúde, segurança e educação públicas tragicamente abandonadas, milhões e milhões de reais anuais despejados como jamais antes sobre uma grande mídia nunca regulada (a mesma grande midia ferozmente atacada hoje pela “esquerda de raça”! Cínicos!!), bilhões e bilhões de lucros aos grandes bancos e outros tantos bilhões fugindo do país anualmente (evasão de divisas), como jamais antes… isso e muito mais em nome da “governabilidade” do PT: afinal, como se tratava do “nosso governo”, a imbecilidade que fazia dos ouvidos alheios um verdadeiro penico esborrifava que, exatamente isso tudo, decorrência natural de abraços físicos, políticos e morais em certas figuras da política e do alto empresariado nacional, eram grandes exemplos de… “democracia” (!).

Luiz Inácio é “um gênio político”. (Parágrafo dedicado apenas a mais esta grande sacada da teoria política “progressista” brasileira).

No “raciocínio” dessa gente – sectários de plantão que, recentemente, levaram o devido e previsível bico nos fundilhos dos ex-“companheiros” (peemedebistas, demos, etc) e do próprio povo, o qual os gozadores dos privilégios do poder nunca se preocuparam em politizar mas apenas transferir migalhas de renda e imbecilizar -, a sucessão de tragédias políticas, sociais e econômicas – que faziam da economia brasileira uma bolha prestes a estourar, e o próprio “governo” vulnerável ao ódio político – eram justificadas na “profundamente democrática capacidade de negociar” de Luiz Inácio.

Por exemplo no Equador, onde determinados movimentos sociais exercem forte oposição ao governo de Alianza País, este extrai recursos naturais, fornece lucros no mínimo questionáveis aos banqueiros entre outras medidas, nada à esquerda; porém, asisim como outros governos da região – em cuja Revolução Bolivariana o PT tenta oportunisticamente embarcar, declarando-se pertencente a tal grupo -, além de ganhos sociais inquestionáveis, não se tem praticado alianças baixas que, no caso tupiniquim com histórico tão oligárquico e opressor quanto as outras nações em questão, soam como piada em qualquer lugar do mundo. E dentro de casa, geram ainda mais ojeriza societária à política sobre a qual embarcam, é claro, as elites a fim de aplicar um golpe militar.

Assim, a sucessão de horrores pós-2003, que marca este País por 518 anos e que, antes dessa data, tanto indignava tais setores, já não causava mais indignação. Mas o furor, sim, era e ainda é – sem ter tirado nenhuma lição dos rotundos fracassos – levantado quando se sentia e se sente os interesses do partido em questão, outrora dominante e dominador, “ameaçados” pelas críticas. Ou seja: o poder e não a sociedade, era o centro das atenções. Nada mudou.

Tudo já se tornava natural: a aliança do então presidente Luiz Inácio com ele, ele mesmo, o senhor engenheiro, doutor Paulo Maluf (repetida nas eleições municipais de São Paulo no ano passado, quando o defunto do golpe parlamentar-jurídico-midiático ainda estava fresquinho); ”quero fazer justiça ao Collor”, noticiava-se – não através da mídia “alternativa e independente” deste País, mas da grande mídia – em julho de 2009: “Lula agradeceu Collor pelo apoio que tem prestado ao governo no Congresso e chegou até mesmo a comparar seu nome ao do presidente Juscelino Kubitschek (1956-1961). Sorrindo e trocando abraços, após terem viajado juntos no avião presidencial, o Aerolula, nada neles lembrava o fato de já terem sido inimigos políticos, dos mais ferozes”; a escolha de ninguém menos que Michel Temer para ocupar a vice-presidência da República e a indicação dele, dele mesmo, José Sarney, ex-presidente da Arena, partido da ditadura militar, para presidir o Senado logo em 2003 (até 2005, para depois retornar em 2009, emesteando a Casa sob auspícios petistas até 2013). E que se repita: um abraço admirado em aliança com Bolsonaro – que, com toda a razão, causa tanto horror na “esquerda” – não será agraciado por Luiz Inácio, até que aquele aceite efetivá-lo.

E nem poderia ser diferente: “Passado é passado”, disse no segundo mandato presidencial Luiz Inácio sobre revogação da Lei de Anistia a ex-ditadores militares perpetradores de crimes de lesa-humanidade no Brasil, condenado até pela OEA pela impunidade neste caso – único no mundo a não julgar ex-ditadores. Porém, em tempos de poder, altíssima popularidade e baixíssimas taxas de rejeição (ao contrário do que ocorre hoje), tudo isso passava desapercebido – e deveria passar, sob ameaça do rótulo de cão vira-latas a qualquer um que apontasse que as coisas não iam tão bem, e que poderiam acabar muito mal…

São estes “apenas” (desgraça pouca é sempre uma grande bobagem neste País onde habita uma “esquerda” do mais fino pedigrí, altamente intelectualizada, cheia de brios!) de alguns banhos de democracia que a cúpula petista exportou ao mundo!

Embora recheado de retóricas das mais vazias como “modernizar de acordo com o século 21 a ‘esquerda’ nacional” (sem dizer como nem por quê, o que implicaria necessariamente auto-crítica que o PT não quer por nada fazer), as quais apenas os incautos sub-produzidos pela cúpula petista e seus ferrenhos defensores de interesses político-partidários podem alegremente aplaudir, o projeto do PT hoje é ainda mais precário que em 2002: nada mais que retomar o poder já que, às vésperas das primeiras eleições presidencias vencidas pelo PT, Luiz Inácio e seus “companheiros” ainda faziam mais uso da capacidade da mentira deslavada ao, pelo menos, incluir algum projeto. lembremo-nos também desta palrada do então presidenciável petista nos idos de 2000, pois:

“Lamentavelmente, no Brasil o voto não é ideológico, lamentavelmente as pessoas não votam partidariamente e, lamentavelmente, você tem uma parte da sociedade que, pelo alto grau de empobrecimento, ela [sic] é conduzida a pensar pelo estômago e não pela cabeça. É por isso que se distribui tanta cesta básica. É por isso que se distribui tanto ticket de leite. Porque isso, na verdade, é uma peça de troca em época de eleição. E assim você despolitiza o processo eleitoral. Você trata o povo mais pobre da mesma forma que Cabral tratou os índios quando chegou no Brasil, tentando distribuir bijuterias e espelhos para ganhar os índios, eles [políticos à época da fala] distribuem alimento. Você tem como lógica manter a política de dominação que é secular no Brasil.”

É também deste iorque-cháiar da política nacional, a seguinte célebre filosofia sócio-política noticiada em dezembro de 20015 pelo jornal Folha de S. Paulo:

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

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

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

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

Sem a menor intenção de ofender a dignidade dos dálmatas da plateia tupiniquim à “esquerda”, que modernização de que esquerda, Luiz Inácio? Ou será que, de acordo com a mais recente cartilha da teoria política elaborada pelos tão polidos lordes de nossa “esquerda”, questionar também é algo… desagradável demais? Lembremos que uma das mentalidades mais respeitadas por nossa “esquerda”, o militante petista Emir Sader qualificou em 2014 ativistas do Movimento dos Trabalhadores sem Teto, que protestavam em São Paulo pelos despejos em favor das pompas e segurança da Copa do Mundo da FIFA, exatamente de cães vira-latas. Com um detalhe: o prefeito da capital paulistana de então era o também petista Fernando Hadda,.

Pois o Brasil nunca correu tanto risco de sofrer mais um golpe militar quanto nas últimas semanas, que na verdade sempre esteve latente, na pauta das elites, enquanto Luiz Inácio desfilou abraçado harmoniosa, fraternalmente com um dos mentores do golpe paramentar-jurídico-midiático contra a “companheira” Dilma, exatamente ele, Renan Calheiros! Por cujo cacique alagoano Luiz Inácio (segure na cadeira!) manifestou… profunda admiração!

Desde o golpe de 2016, o PT vem formando alianças Brasil afora exatamente com o PMDB de Calheiros, Michel Temer e Eduardo Cunha. Outro fato que, lamentavelmente a fim de prestar mais um desserviço à “democracia” nacional, grande parte dos meios “alternativos” não noticiam. Neste cenário caótico reclamar pelo quê, envolvendo a grande mídia de imbecilização das massas?

Onde está a “esquerda” dona de nobre pedigrí deste País? Em lugar nenhum a não ser elaborando suas torias e marquetim político pois não há nada nobre nisso, não há vergonha na cara, com raras e honrosas exceções não há “esquerda” tanto quanto não há movimento social que interesse no Brasil, se não atender os mesquinhos interesses de um bando de falsários da política, estes sim: apáticos, inertes, dessituados, sem a menor capacidade de indignação e de reação, tudo isso deccorente, exatamente, da baixíssima auto-estima estampada na coroa da moeda tupiniquim. E que se salve quem puder!

Pela irreflexão, também consequência da sede pelo poder, Luiz Inácio não apenas é vendido como salvador da pátria, como é a única alternativa apresentada pela “esquerda”; sua incapacidade em produzir mais líderes ao longo de todo esse tempo, e uma alternativa realmente popular, apenas justificam o uso de sapas para esquerda que, no caso do PT e seus aliados, nunca se preocuparam em fazer a economia forte, industrializá-la (embora programas assistenciais sejam fundamentais pela urgência, mas não se pode ficar limitado a eles como o PT se manteve), nem em educar a sociedade (cotas são imprescindíveis, mas não como medidas definitivas como fez o PT, o qual se “esqueceu” de investir em educação basica e em faculdades federais): surgiu o momento que mais precisou dela, sem, todavia, receber nenhuma resposta enquanto insiste em se aliar ao que há de mais corrupto na vida politica e econômica do País. E a economia caiu. E nada muda no caráter dessa gente, conforme os acontecimentos ao longo dos últimos anos – e últimas semanas – demonstram, justificando tudo em “princípios democráticos” evidenciando pela retórica, se já não bastassem os fatos em si, que no Brasil nem sequer muita noção de democracia existe – isso também, por (ir)responsabilidade da “esquerda”.

Para quem não entendeu, há propostas implícitas e outras explícitas como alternativa ao País neste texto; para quem não quer entender, e muitos não querem em nome do poder pelo poder, nada adiantará se encher de dados econômicos e sociais, e fatos políticos como se tem feito nesta página. Para quem não entendeu, se o golpe paramentar-jurídico-midiático foi aplicado na mais absoluta paz pelos porões do poder, nada tendo mudado um ano e meio depois, o próximo golpe militar será aplicado sobre um mesmo cenário em relação a março/abril de 1964: pelas ruas do País os milicos desfilando e os passarinhos cantando alegremente.

Disse certa vez Hugo Chávez: “Me lembrei do Che Guevara [sequestrado e quase assassinado no frustrado golpe de Estado de 48 horas, em 2002], e pensei que era melhor morrer de pé que viver de joelhos”. Pois se o PT e seus neocapachos continuam insistindo em morrer de joelhos, não esperem unanimidade em nome da “esquerda” (= votos e retomada do poder).

Ser brasileiro não deve significar, necessariamente, ser desprovido de vergonha na cara – isso eles não podem nem vão nos impor.

A prática do socialismo exige uma transformação completa no espírito das massas degradadas por séculos de dominação da classe burguesa, instintos sociais em vez de instintos egoístas, iniciativa das massas em vez da inércia, idealismo que supere todos os sofrimentos. (Rosa Luxemburgo)

Edu Montesanti

Foto : O ex presidente Lula da Silva (PT) com o Michel Temer (PMDB), presidente atual do Brasil.

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Estados Unidos Parte para ‘Tudo ou Nada’ Global

October 5th, 2017 by Edu Montesanti

Mergulhado em crise econômica e escândalos de corrupção, Império agonizante ataca da maneira mais agressiva dos últimas 30 anos

“A era moderna do imperialismo é uma guerra contra a democracia, ameaça ao poder ilimitado que não pode ser tolerada. Por isso, desde o final da Segunda Guerra Mundial, a maioria dos governos dos Estados Unidos tem derrubado ou tentado derrubar verdadeiras democracias”, afirma para esta reportagem o jornalista e cineasta australiano John Pilger enquanto, desde que Donald Trump chegou à Casa Branca em 20 de janeiro, o mundo vive efervescência que, para determinados especialistas, é a mais grave pós-Segunda Guerra.

O historiador e especialista nuclear estadunidense Peter Kuznick observa à reportagem que o discurso do medo e do ódio possui objetivos tão antigos quanto claros, isto é, justificar políticas linha-dura, aumento de gastos militares em detrimento de investimentos sociais, e no caso particular dos Estados Unidos, ampliação de suas bases militares mundo afora: “As pessoas sacrificam liberdades para obter mais segurança. Vimos isso ocorrer nos Estados Unidos após o 11 de Setembro”. No caso particular de Trump, o diretor de Estudos Nucleares da Universidade Americana de Washington D.C. avalia que o acirramento da intolerância e da criação de inimigos hoje “também serve como distração dos escândalos que envolvem sua administração”.

‘América Grande de Novo’

Na ambígua campanha presidencial o magnata nova-iorquino dava a entender, por um lado, que diminuiria o belicismo estadunidense, mas logo nos primeiros dias na presidência já ficou claro que o Trump belicista dos comícios, por outro lado impossível de ser escondido, impunha-se na Casa Branca evidenciando o que significava “fazer a América grande de novo”, lema do então candidato republicano.

Em 26 de janeiro, o estadunidense Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists emitiu o anual Doomsday Clock (Relógio do Dia do Juízo Final) destinado a avaliar riscos de guerra nuclear, apontando alarmantes “2,5 minutos para a meia-noite”, ou seja, confronto atômico. Consideração mais crítica desde 1953 quando apontava 2 minutos, o principal motivo para o alerta agora é a ascensão à Casa Branca do imponderável bilionário de direita. “Na campanha presidencial, Trump fez comentários perturbadores sobre uso e proliferação de armas nucleares”, considera o Boletim. Perguntado sobre o alarme, Kuznick manifesta-se preocupado: “Quando há imbecis como Trump e Lindsay Graham (senador republicano pela Carolina do Sul) que não parecem valorizar a vida humana, mas agem como palhaços valentões, a ameaça torna-se real”.

Até 31 de julho Trump, que promete fazer de seu país potência militar nunca vista antes, despejou 20.650 bombas, 80% do total de Barack Obama em todo o ano de 2016, e assassinou civis no Afeganistão a um nível superior em 67% comparado ao mesmo período do ano anterior, segundo relatório da ONU. Trump eleva Washington a uma maquinaria da guerra sem precedentes na história moderna (nada pacífica) do país ao norte do Rio Bravo, e anuncia aumento do efetivo militar em território afegão.

Contrariando retórica da campanha presidencial de normalização das relações com a Rússia e distanciamento dos Estados Unidos em relação à OTAN (Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte), as tensões entre Washington e Moscou aumentam em decorrência das declarações e medidas agressivas de Trump. Desde julho a OTAN, que repentinamente passou a ser valorizada pelo novo ocupante da Casa Branca, realiza exercícios militares nas fronteiras russas que, até novembro deste ano, totalizarão 18 com o objetivo de garantir sua presença permanente ao redor da Rússia. “Os Estados Unidos escarneceram do direito internacional durante a Guerra Fria, e fazem o mesmo hoje”, critica Kuznick.

Especificamente sobre a histeria norte-americana contra os russos, o historiador aponta o cinismo da mídia e dos tomadores de decisão de seu país. “É quase cômico ouvir os Estados Unidos se queixarem de que a Rússia raqueou correios eletrônicos e praticou roubo cibernético, enquanto Edward Snowden expôs a extensão das operações cibernéticas de Washington que atingiram todos os países do planeta. É quase cômico ouvir os Estados Unidos se encherem de ódio pela incorporação russa da Crimeia ou pela intervenção na Ucrânia enquanto invadiram país por país, operando atualmente em cerca de 135 nações”.

E acrescenta, sobre uma das campanhas presidenciais mais baixas da historia dos Estados Unidos: “Com 17 adversários que discutiam quem era mais ignorante quando se tratava de mudanças climáticas e ciências gerais, além de debater quem tinha o pênis maior, a Rússia precisava mesmo intervir para desacreditar a democracia norte-americana?”, ironiza o historiador e especialista nuclear estadunidense Peter Kuznick, também ouvido por esta reportagem para comentar o cenário político internacional enquanto, na velha busca desesperada por criação de inimigos, internos e externos a fim de justificar e ampliar sua política coercitivo-expansionista apoiada no medo, no ódio e na desinformação, a mídia e a classe política dos Estados Unidos acusam os russos de terem interferido em suas eleições presidenciais de 2016. “Os norte-americanos estavam fazendo um grande trabalho (para desacreditar sua democracia), sem ajuda da Rússia”.

Projeto de muro fronteiriço com México, proibição da entrada de cidadãos de certos países de maioria islamita em território norte-americano, manutenção da prisão de Guantánamo, apoio aberto a métodos de tortura e assassinato de familiares de terroristas além de sinais de simpatia à Ku Klux Klan. Dentro dos Estados Unidos, ditos e feitos carregados de ódio de Trump transferem-se, naturalmente, à vida cotidiana dos cidadãos: assassinatos e os mais diversos atos de terror majoritariamente por estadunidenses brancos, protestantes e das classes mais abastadas, crescem a níveis alarmantes. “Quando você pensa sobre a doutrinação dos norte-americanos, que diz que seu país é modelo de ideais, a ironia é medonha”, observa Pilger.

Tensão no Leste Asiático

Pequena ilha a oeste do Oceano Pacífico a 3,425 quilômetros da Coreia do Norte, Guam tem estado no centro do noticiário internacional pelas supostas ameaças norte-coreanas de ataques com mísseis: colônia norte-americana desde 1898, o território guamês tem sido mais vítima da grande mídia e dos próprios Estados Unidos que do ditador norte-coreano Kim Jong-um. LisaLinda Natividad, professora de Serviço Social na Universidade de Guam e ativista pela descolonização, comenta à reportagem de sua residência no pequenino povoado de Inarajan, que os guameses não se sentem seguros com a presença do exército norte-americano mas que, por causa dele, sua sociedade traz traumas da Segunda Grande Guerra quando foi zona ativa de conflito por três anos, vive na miséria entre outros graves problemas sociais e na condição de cidadãos estadunidenses de terceira classe, além do estado de medo pelas tensões entre Washington e Pyongyang. “É a presença dos Estados Unidos aqui que nos torna alvo preferencial [de possíveis ataques por parte dos norte-coreanos]”, denuncia Lisa.

Em 8 de agosto, aniversário de 72 anos do lançamento das bombas atômicas pelos Estados Unidos contra Hiroshima e Nagasaki, Trump não poderia ter sido mais original nos discursos: ameaçou atacar com bombas atômicas a Coreia do Norte. Isso porque, no mesmo dia, Pyongyang havia anunciado o desenvolvimento de ogiva nuclear miniaturizada que pode caber dentro de seus mísseis. Em 4 e 28 de julho, Pyongyang havia executado testes com mísseis de alcance intercontinental capazes de atingir o território norte-americano, e em 1ºde agosto, em entrevista à CNN, o senador Graham afirmara ainda que “se houver uma guerra para brecá-los [os norte-coreanos], será por lá mesmo. Se milhares morrerem, será por lá mesmo, não aqui enquanto (Trump) disse na minha cara… Eu estou dizendo que (opção militar) é inevitável, se a Coreia do Norte prosseguir”.

Diante disso, no dia 9 de agosto o porta-voz do exército norte-coreano disse que Pyongyang observava cuidadosamente Guam, onde há duas bases militares dos Estados Unidos, considerando enviar foguetes Hwasong-12 ao litoral guamês a cerca de 40 quilômetros da ilha: foi o suficiente para a grande mídia, inclusive guamesa que segundo Lisa defende os interesses de Washington, alardear um iminente risco de ataque nuclear de Kim contra a ilha vizinha. Em 10 de agosto, Trump disse: “Se ele fizer algo com Guam, ocorrerá algo que ninguém nunca viu antes”.

No mesmo dia o Pacific Daily News, principal jornal de Guam, trazia na primeira página com letras garrafais: “14 Minutos!”, referindo-se ao tempo estimado que um míssil norte-coreano leva para chegar à ilha da Micronésia. Questionada sobre as posições de Pyongyang, Lisa diz que mantém constantemente posição defensiva, ao contrário de Washington: “A Coreia do Norte sempre diz que atacará os Estados Unidos apenas se for atacada antes”, diz a docente e ativista de ascendência chamorro, principal etnia da ilha da Micronésia. Também perguntada pela mídia local, Lisa não hesita em responder: “É usada para promover a agenda global dos Estados Unidos, apenas contando um lado de situações geopolíticas e justificando o complexo industrial militar dos Estados Unidos”.

Em 3 de setembro, a Jong-un confirmou o sucesso na realização do teste de uma bomba de hidrogênio mais avançada, carregada em um míssil de longo alcance, o sexto teste nuclear de Pyongyang até agora. Embora tenha condenado tanto Washigton quanto Pyongyang, o presidente russo Vladimir Putin reconhece o direito norte-coreano à auto-defesa. Kim, por sua vez, lembra o que aconteceu com Iraque em 2003, e Líbia em 2011 após terem se desarmado. E no dia 14, Pyongyang lançou um míssil que sobrevoou a ilha de Hokkaido, norte do Japão, até cair no oceano, acirrando anda mais as tensões: Tóquio realizou sessão emergencial do conselho de segurança nacional no mesmo dia, e desde então o primeiro-ministro japonês, Shinzo Abe, passou a clamar por medidas duars de Washngton contra os norte-coreanos que possuem 20 ogivas nucleares, diante de ao menos 80 de Israel e 6.800 dos Estados Unidos de acordo com o sueco Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Diante das declarações de Lisa e dos últimos acontecimentos, vale recordar que em outubro de 2011 a então secretária de Estado dos Estados Unidos, Hillary Clinton, publicou na revista Foreign Policy análise intitulada America’s Pacific Century (Século dos Estados Unidos no Pacífico), argumentando que a região do Pacífico é “chave” à afirmação do domínio global norte-americano. “Os mercados abertos na Ásia fornecem aos Estados Unidos oportunidades sem precedentes de investimento, comércio e acesso à tecnologia de ponta. (…) Nosso desafio agora, é construir uma rede de parcerias e instituições em todo o Pacífico tão permanente quanto consistente aos interesses e valores norte-americanos”, o que pode explicar as tensões atuais no Leste da Ásia, e a sede dos “falcões” estadunidenses por severas ações militares naquela região. Vale ressaltar que, desprezando reivindicações chinesas de soberania, a Marinha dos Estados Unidos tem navegado pelo Mar da China Meridional. “À medida que os neocons se proclamaram com a queda da União Soviética, os Estados Unidos querem mesmo um mundo unipolar onde exista apenas uma superpotência, sem rivais”, alerta Kuznick.

Entrevistado pela reportagem, o economista canadense e diretor de Centre for Research on Globalization, Michel Chossudovsky, ressalta que os Estados Unidos, violando o artigo 13b do Armistício Coreano de 27 de julho de 1953, mantém há mais de meio século instalações nucleares na Coreia do Sul e que a cada ano, após o teórico final da Guerra da Coreia, o exército norte-americano realiza exercícios militares na Península além de gerar competição entre coreanos, para justificar sua presença militar na região em ameaça sobretudo a chineses e russos. “Reunificada, a Coreia se tornará grande potência mundial”, o que é temido pelos norte-americanos para Chossudovsky que aponta, ao mesmo tempo, que a sociedade e a política dos Estados Unidos não servem de modelo a ninguém.

De acordo com ArmsControl.org de abril de 2013, o regime norte-americano possui nada menos que 5.133 ogivas nucleares, em contraste com a Coreia do Norte cuja estimativa é que possua de 4 a 8 dessas ogivas. “Pyongyang revelou a instalação de uma centrífuga em 2010, mas a capacidade de produzir urânio altamente enriquecido para armas permanece obscura”, informa ArmsControl.org. Além disso, segundo oNational Resources Defense Council os Estados Unidos têm fornecido armamentos nucleares a cinco Estados europeus identificados como “Estados nucleares não declarados”: Holanda, Bélgica, Alemanha, Itáila e Turquia, além de Inglaterra e Grécia ameaçando, desta maneira, Rússia e os próprios rivais asiáticos em defesa dos interesses estratégicos e econômicos de Washington que se outorga o direito do armamento atômico indiscriminado sob alegação de zelar pela segurança global, fato clamorosamente contrariado por toda a história e pelos fatos mais recentes. Sobre o arsenal nuclear mantido na Europa pelos norte-americanos, observou em 2010 George Robertson, ex-secretário-geral da OTAN entre 1999 e 2004: “Longe de tornar a Europa mais segura e distante de produzir uma Europa menos dependente do território nuclear, [a política] pode acabar trazendo mais armas nucleares para o continente europeu e frustrar algumas das tentativas que estão sendo feitas a fim de se obter o desarmamento nuclear multilateral”. O próprio Estado de Israel, maior aliado estadunidense no Oriente Médio e quiçá no mundo, igualmente considerado “Estado nuclear não declarado”, possui as 80 armas nucleares já mencionadas apoiado fundamentalmente pelos Estados Unidos.

Enquanto isso, pesadas sanções econômicas através da Resolução 2375 da ONU de 11 de setembro à pequena nação norte-coreana, estrangulando a já traumatizada sociedade local pela genocida Guerra da Coreia, são impostas pelas grandes potências, sempre lideradas nessas contraditórias medidas por Tio Sam. Contra Pyongyang, a ordem hoje é a mesma de Richard Nixon contra o Chile de Salvador Allende, “Façamos a economia gritar!”, ideia colocada em prática também por Bush filho no Iraque que não possuía bombas de destruição massiva conforme jurava a Casa Branca. No caso de hoje, a embaixadora dos Estados Unidos na ONU, Nikki Haley, disse ao Conselho de Segurança após a votação que “estas são, de longe, as medidas mais fortes já impostas à Coréia do Norte”.

A história é muito clara ao apontar que tais efêmeras sanções não são aplicadas para promover paz nem segurança nacional de nenhum Estado, porém servem como pretexto a fim de ampliar a dominação das grandes potências imperialistas especialmente aos governos que não acatam seus ditames. Haja vista o descaso dos próprios Estados Unidos em relação às históricas barbaridades cometidas pelos governos de Arábia Saudita, Israel, Colômbia e México, entre outros aliados de Washington mundo afora. Como observa Carla Stea, correspondente do sítio canadense Global Research em Nova Iorque, além do imensurável estrago econômico, tais embargos humilham, atentam psicologicamente e ferem a dignidade das sociedades sancionadas. “Quanto mais força a vítima tem para resistir, mais anertas serão as agressões contra ela”.

Recordando que a Guerra da Coreia – das mais arrasadoras desde o final da II Grande Guerra que apenas no Norte da Península destruiu completamente suas 78 cidades e milhares de povoados matoando entre três e quatro milhões de pessoas (o que significa cerca de um terço do total de sua população à época) – não terminou, visto que foi assinado apenas o Armistício (trégua) e não Acordo de Paz por objeção dos Estados Unidos, o pesquisador canadense enfatiza que sem entender a história não se pode compreender os riscos de guerra nuclear atualmente: “Quem representa ameaça à humanidade? Washington, sem dúvida. 30 por cento da população da Península da Coreia foi morta pelos bombardeios entre 1950 e 1953, 97 por cento de toda a paisagem foi destruída assim como todas as cidades e povoados do Norte, completamente destroçado. Alguma nação ameaça a segurança dos Estados Unidos? A resposta é não”. O general norte-americano que combateu na Coreia, LeMay, observou: “Durante um período de cerca de três ano, matamos vinte por cento da população”.

Em concordância com Chossudovsky, a cientista política filipina e editora assistente do Global Research Jezile Torculas diz à reportagem que a posição da Coreia do Norte é simplesmente defensiva. “Nesta era da desinformação, a vítima torna-se vilã e o verdadeiro agressor, heroi”, critica a analista residente da capital Manila do arquipélago malaio, no sudeste asiático bem próximo de Guam. Stephen Lendman, analista de Global Research, autor de diversos livros e ex-militar por dois anos dos Estados Unidos, aponta no mesmo sentido quanto ao que diz ser “direito sagrado” da Coreia do Norte se defender. Procurado pela reportagem, Lendman lembra que a Coreia do Norte, ao longo de toda a história, jamais atacou ninguém, mas que “teme mesmo a possível agressão dos Estados Unidos, por isso buscando poderosos meios de dissuasão a fim de salvar a nação e sua liderança da destruição”.

A própria revista norte-americana Newsweek, bem conhecida por suas posições pró-imperialistas, reconheceu em abril deste ano os crimes de guerra cometidos pelos Estados Unidos contra o povo coreano no início da década de 1950: na reportagem intitulada What War with North Korea Looked Like in the 1950s and Why It Matters Now, o historiador e escritor estadunidense Bruce Cumings afirmou que “A maioria dos norte-americanos desconhece completamente que destruímos mais cidades no Norte do que fizemos no Japão ou na Alemanha durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial… Todos os norte-coreanos sabem disso. Nós nunca ouvimos falar disso”.

Até 2002, quando o então presidente George Bush colocou a Coreia do Norte no chamado “Eixo do Mal”, Pyongyang havia abdicado do armamento nuclear. Atualmente, Jong-un sinaliza disposição em negociar desde que as as forças militares norte-americanas retirem-se da Península Coreana. Em 21 de junho o embaixador norte-coreano na Índia declarou, em entrevista televisiva, que seu governo “está pronto para negociar, a qualquer momento”. Na realidade, Pyongyang sempre se mostrou disposto a negociar, ao contrário de Washington. Enquanto grande parte da classe política norte-americana, inctada pela mídia, clama por uma ação militar de Trump contra Pyongyang, o Pentágono tem um plano específico para realizar um ataque preventivo, aguardando apenas uma ordem presidencial.

Consultada pela reportagem para analisar do ponto de vista jurídico um suposto ataque dos Estados Unidos contra a Coreia do Norte, Azadeh Shahshahani, fundadora e diretora jurídica do Project South e ex-presidente de National Lawyers Guild, condena o tom belicista do regime de Trump afirmando que qualquer ação militar contra os norte-coreanos violaria gravemente o direito internacional. “O lançamento de um ataque militar contra a Coreia do Norte seria muito problemático. A Carta da ONU apenas permite o uso da força militar pelos Estados para autodefesa, ou quando há uma ação coletiva pelo Conselho de Segurança da ONU. Nenhum desses pré-requisitos é encontrado neste caso”.

Há muito tempo, China e Rússia vêm tentando aliviar as tensões através de diálogo entra ambas as partes, e fazer com que a Coreia do Norte interrompa testes nucleares e que os Estados Unidos, em contra partida, suspendam exercícios militares na fronteira sul-coreana com o Norte: Washington se recusa a fazer isso, prosseguindo com as atividades em parceria com Seul. O ex-agente da CIA John Kiriakou, preso por dois anos e meio a partir de 2012 por ter denunciado métodos de tortura da Agência Central de Inteligência a mando de George Bush contra prisioneiros de guerra, suspeitos de práticas de terror, revela com exclusividade a esta reportagem que um general sul-coreano afirmou a ele, em anonimato, que Seul observa exagero intencional nas ameaças do presidente norte-americano contra os norte-coreanos, e que o governo sul-coreano, que tem condenado a recente postura agressiva de Washington contra o Norte, aposta que a China mediará uma negociação. Kuznick avalia que não existe solução militar. “Uma negociação é o que quase todos no mundo esperam, mas improvável nas circunstâncias atuais: todos sabemos o que ela implicaria”. O historiador não acredita que Washington cederá nas investidas imperialistas. “A China vem promovendo acordo negociado há anos, como a Rússia. A Coreia do Norte repetidamente se mostra pronta a aceitá-lo: os Estados Unidos recusam”.

Dada as mais recentes trocas de ameaças entre norte-coranos e norte-americanos, contudo, o especialista nuclear diz que se deve mover os ponteiros do Relógio do Dia do Juízo Final para ainda mais próximo da meia-noite. “Uma esquerda revitalizada é a chave para salvar este planeta. Estamos correndo contra o tempo, que se esgota. O caminho pela frente não será nada fácil, mas podemos e devemos prevalecer”. Assim como a Rússia salvou a Síria de uma catástrofe made in USA em setembro de 2013, hoje a China funciona como contrapeso à ofensiva estadunidense no Leste Asiático. Em Pequim está a esperança de que seja evitada a maior tragédia da espécie humana, em nome da ganância desenfreada de um Império combalido.

Guerra à Democracia na América Latina

Pilger considera que um dos principais focos imperialistas hoje é a retomada do que sempre chamou de seu “quintal”, a América Latina, região mais rica em biodiversidade do planeta. “Os Estados Unidos querem seu ‘quintal’ de volta. Há muito a perder na região”. No caso particular da Venezuela, onde a Revolução Bolivariana nacionalizou as maiores reservas petrolíferas do globo e transformou a vida da sociedade para muito melhor, a analista norte-americana Whitney Webb, do sítio Mint Press dos Estados Unidos, pontua para esta reportagem que Rex Tillerson, secretário de Estado norte-americano, foi diretor da Exxon Mobil sendo ele quem, “há muito tempo e não Trump, usa todas as armas contra a Venezuela”. A socióloga canadense-venezuelana Maria Páez Victor concorda, e adverte à reportagem: “O perigo à Venezuela intensifica-se, enquanto os Estados Unidos realizam os bem conhecidos planos de desestabilização historicamente executados na América Latina, para se livrar de governos que não se submetam aos seus interesses”.

A convite de Michel Temer e em parceria com governos de Peru e Colômbia, em novembro militares estadunidenses realizarão exercícios de dez dias na região amazônica brasileira próxima à fronteira com a Venezuela. Pela riqueza em petróleo a nação caribenha vive, desde que Hugo Chávez chegou ao Palácio de Miraflores em 1999, entre a plena democracia e os constantes ataques dos Estados Unidos que financiam grupos violentos e personagens envolvidos em graves casos de corrupção. Em agosto, Trump já disse que considerava intervenção militar à Venezuela pela votação da Assembleia Constituinte de 30 de julho, composta por cidadãos comuns de fora da elite econômica e dos partidos políticos, assim como ocorreu na aprovação da Constituição Bolivariana de 1999, referência democrática mundial.

Em represália, o Departamento de Tesouro dos Estados Unidos congelou ativos financeiros sob jurisdição norte-americana de diversos funcionários do governo bolivariano, inclusive do presidente Nicolás Maduro. Outras sanções proíbem negociação da dívida venezuelana e impedem a estatal petrolífera PDVSA de vender novos títulos a cidadãos ou instituições financeiras estadunidenses. A resposta do mandatário venezuelano em seguida foi, uma vez mais, amplamente apoiada pela sociedade local: “Não obedecemos ordens dos governos imperialistas. Sancionem o quanto desejam, porque o povo da Venezuela decidiu ser livre. Sou um presidente livre e independente, e também anti-imperialista, anticolonialista e anti-racista “. Em entrevista à rede venezuelana de TV Telesur em setembro, o secretário do Partido Comunista Congolês, Sylvere Boswa, questionou o que significaria por exemplo ao Brasil hoje, vítima de golpe parlamentar-jurídico-midiático, Assembleia Constituinte. “O Brasil é apontado com desdém internacionalmente. O mundo livre apoia a Assembleia Constituinte venezuelana, exemplo à América Latina e ao mundo”.

Maria Páez observa que os setores violentos que tentam passar a impressão de “árbitros da democracia” são os mesmos que, em 2002, apoiaram golpe de Estado contra Chávez. “Durante aquelas tensas 48 horas, uma das primeiras atitudes que tomaram foi abolir a Constituição de 1999, a que agora dizem defender”. A socióloga teme que, “perigosamente ignorante”, Trump arme a oposição e gere guerra civil na Venezuela. “E que oposição! Racista, classista e antidemocrática, que desencadeia abertamente o terrorismo de rua, aprova abertamente que se queimem jovens até a morte devido à pele escura, que para eles indica que se tratam ‘chavistas’. Incitam que os linche pelo mesmo motivo”.

Questionada sobre os grandes desafios da Venezuela, Whitney Webb considera que a área econômica é um deles. “No entanto, ao contrário da narrativa ocidental (a crise econômica) não é resultado da má gestão do governo venezuelano, mas das sanções dos Estados Unidos e da manipulação artificial dos preços do petróleo aos mínimos históricos – ‘política’ encoberta, articulada por Estados Unidos e sauditas para atingir, principalmente, a Rússia. Mas outros produtores de petróleo fora dos Estados do Golfo, como Venezuela e Equador, têm sido extremamente atingidos por essa manipulação de preços. Além disso, empresas pertencentes à oligarquia venezuelana, anti-chavistas, são flagradas gerando intencionalmente escassez (especialmente de produtos básicos)”.

“A América Latina tem sido o parque temático do poder corrupto dos Estados Unidos, a fim de impor sua vontade”, pontua o cineasta australiano. “Este é um momento perigoso para a América Latina. Os ganhos obtidos pelas democracias sociais estão mais arriscados que nunca”, acrescenta. Já o pesquisador da Universiade Americana de Washington prevê que, para consolidar essa “reconquista”, Trump acentuará a tônica das guerras contra o terror e as drogas como pretexto “para manter as desigualdades que George Kennan traçou há 68 anos”. Kennan (1904-2005) foi um dos inspiradores da Doutrina Truman, que ampliou as áreas de influência dos Estados Unidos no mundo pós-Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Edu Montesanti

www.edumontesanti.skyrock.com

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Everyone sensed the new energy at Labour Party conference this year. More cynical pundits referred to it as “giddy with optimism” (the Guardian’s editorial), or “support bordering on hysteria” (Simon Jenkins), conveying the idea of something irrational. Others referred to it as Corbyn’s “evangelical church” (Philip Collins) or even ‘the cult of Corbyn’ (the TimesSpectator and Observer all used this phrase).

The reality of the conference was something not seen in the UK for a long time: thousands of determined and self-confident members of a Labour Party that boldly stands for what they believe in. Their self-confidence stemmed not from some kind of Corbyn cult, but from the fact that they could now stand on the doorstep, or talk to their friends and family, arguing honestly and hence persuasively about why they should support a Labour government.

This self-confidence, with the political and personal energy released by working to support a party you believe in, was my experience of both the Labour conference itself and The World Transformed fringe festival (and the two cross-fertilised creatively). It was combined with the steely determination to win that is evident in, for example, the massive support for the constituency-by-constituency Unseat a Tory campaigns initiated by Owen Jones, and attendance at panels such as “How to win a marginal” being as high as for “Acid Corbynism.”

Power Beyond Parliament

Far from giddiness, I heard nothing but sobriety from the likes of Paul Mason and shadow chancellor John McDonnell. At packed meetings, they largely spurned crowd-pleasing rhetoric to explain in cold detail what a radical Labour government would be up against: not only a possible run on the pound, as the media made hay out of quoting, but a sustained investment strike and other forms of non-cooperation and sabotage on the part of capital. Ann Pettifor lucidly explained the powers the government would have through its role as the banks’ guarantor of last resort.

They listened attentively to Theano Fotiou, Syriza’s minister of social solidarity, describe the obstacles they faced in Greece as an (initially) radical party in government, including failures in Syriza’s own strategy, organisation and leadership – especially its failure to maintain the party’s engagement with and accountability to social movements.

As if learning the lesson of Greece, Brazil and indeed all other attempts by what were initially radical left parties to implement their programme as a government, McDonnell called on his listeners to organise, to mobilise and to educate – to build a popular movement that would provide both a counter-power to the hostile pressures from private business and the City, and counter-arguments to the hostile press who will exaggerate and urge on all opposing interests, attempting to divide and demoralise Labour’s supporters.

Here a distinctive aspect of the conference, perhaps symbolic of the reality of the changed Labour Party, is the way it generally overcame the traditional divisions built in to Labour’s parliamentarism. Extraparliamentary struggles and campaigns have usually been present at Labour conferences, but pushed to the fringes, while a legislative programme for the parliamentary party took centre stage. All life at conference used to be deadened by endless speeches by lords, ladies and honourable members. This time a large number of ordinary delegates got to speak, and spoke not only about policy but about action: teachers campaigning against the cuts, postal workers preparing to strike, health workers too acting against the relentless moves by private companies to break up and take over the ‘profitable’ parts of the NHS.

When they cheered McDonnell’s commitment to take back private finance initiative (PFI) contracts into the public sector, they did so not only because they supported the actions of the future Labour government but because this commitment vindicates their years of campaigning to stop these PFI deals in the first place.

Cult of Ourselves

Platform speakers too made extraparliamentary action part of their arguments. Naomi Klein used her slot as international guest speaker – formerly an opportunity for delegates to sneak out for a long cup of coffee while some disconnected notable gave an inconsequential speech – to insist not only that ‘No is not enough’, but that we should be and are creating practical alternatives out of resistance in the here and now. A packed conference chamber whooped their agreement, while across the road at The World Transformed the idea of prefigurative politics was common sense in session after session.

The energy at the Labour Party conference, then, reflects more than adoration of the leader: ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ is meant more of a chant of encouragement than the approval of a passive fan. Even at Ed Miliband’s highly convivial and humorously conducted pub quiz, the chants of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ broke out on cue when a picture of the leader appeared in the ‘odd one out’ section of the quiz. But the spirit of self-parody is a long way from the evangelical cult that uncomprehending pundits try to conjure.

Corbyn’s insistence on the ‘we’, not the ‘me’, is taken to brain as well as heart. We must win, and we must think and act strategically to do so. We must prepare for government, and not just leave it to the future ministers. And the power of government is necessary but insufficient: we must mobilise our distinct sources of counter-power in alliance with Labour in government.

But it’s not all onwards and upwards. Though the conference had a strong sense of the prospect of a Labour government and was committed to maintain the electioneering energy built up earlier this year, there remains the problem of divisions – of MPs who not only disagree with the elected leadership, which is of course fine in a democratic party, but who still refuse to accept the legitimacy of Corbyn’s overwhelming double mandate, and continue to undermine him by stealth. While many on the centre-left accept that Corbyn’s leadership is here to stay and, contrary to their expectations, is proving electorally successful, there are others who are imbued with Blair and Mandelson’s deep contempt for the left and who do not accept they are now a minority in the party – and have plenty of friends among newspaper columnists.

Until another election period gives a left leadership equal access to the media, as happened in June 2017, the left will continue to suffer from being seen by the public through the prism of party divisions in which the right is presented by the media as morally hegemonic.

What will overcome such anti-social behaviour, short of the Asbo of triggering a reselection process, is unclear – perhaps some combination of pressure from the unions and positive, energetic electioneering by the local party shaming such MPs into supporting the party to whom they owe their job.

Like Housework, Never Finished

But such a scenario raises a further problem: of time, energy and resources for local activists, especially those organised through Momentum, as they face the multiple tasks demanded of them in the present complex and uncertain context. The priorities evident at the conference indicate that this new, new left aspires to combine electioneering with creative extraparliamentary resistance and alternatives. It refuses the either/or binaries of the past. But it refuses too a life of endless meetings, a life devoid of pleasure and reflection.

Talk to activists in any active branch of Momentum and you find they are experimenting with a new role for Momentum once the left wins the majority of positions in the local Labour Party. The struggle for effective control over the local Labour Party, however, is a bit like housework, never finished. No sooner do you complete one task, such as winning seats of the local executive committee, then another appears essential, for example the local campaign forum, controlled by the councillors whose relationship to the local party is highly mediated and only partially accountable.

Like housework it can take over your life, leaving no time for anything else – unless, that is, you create some kind of autonomous activity with its own dynamic. So with Momentum in several cases. In Bristol, for example, a large Momentum movement – that has already led to several left-run CLPs and a delegation of over 30 to conference – maintains itself as a flexible, creative space for the incubation of ideas, education, and grassroots campaigning, feeding into local parties but with autonomy from them.

This was well symbolised in Brighton by the autonomy of The World Transformed (TWT): not held in opposition to Labour conference, but with a life of its own. In this sense TWT, along with the growing infrastructure of radical left media, is helping to re-create a critical and internationalist socialist political culture that Tony Blair destroyed under his presidential ‘me’ leadership. TWT and Momentum are turning Corbyn’s ‘we’ into a living reality, with all the autonomy and creativity that such an arrangement implies.

Hilary Wainwright is editor of Red Pepper magazine where the featured image was sourced.

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Dear Readers, I appreciate the confidence that you show in me with your emails asking my opinion about the Las Vegas shooting. Many of you suspect that it is another false flag affair, and you ask me about its purpose.

I don’t know if it was a false flag attack, and if so, by who or for what purpose. I don’t expect to ever know. A story is set in place by officials and media. The only way to ever know is to personally investigate. You would have to go to Las Vegas, examine the scene, ask questions of the hotel, investigate the answers if you get any, find and interview concert attendees who were shot, attend funerals and see bodies of those killed, speak to their families, learn about the weapon allegedly used, experience trying to shoot at targets far below and far away, compare the number of casualties with the recorded time of firing, and so forth. In other words, we would have to do the job that in former times would have been done by the press, but no more.

It is almost like the story is being kept from us. For example, from media reports that the event was just across the street from the hotel, I did not know that “across the street” was a distance of 390 yards (1,170 feet).

As I don’t expect to ever have a confident opinion about what happened, I am not paying much attention to the mass shooting, or should I say alleged shooting. We are lied to and deceived so much that we can never tell when we are told the truth. It is like Dmitry Orlov says:

“Lies beget other lies, and pretty soon unbiased intelligence-gathering, rational analysis and proper mission planning become impossible.”

” … a reputation for telling the truth can only be lost exactly once, and from then on the use of the phrase “US intelligence sources” became synonymous with “a conspiracy of barefaced liars.””

“Whatever message Washington and Western mass media are trying to push, a perfectly valid response is to point out all the times they have lied in the past, and to pose a simple question: When did they stop lying?”

Official explanations of such events as Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, and so forth, always throw up red flags, because the official explanations always studiously ignore contrary eyewitness and other evidence. Also, often there are not even smart phone videos of dead and wounded people. As far as I can tell, the bodies of 573 dead and wounded are absent in the Las Vegas video evidence. Considering the suspicion that such events cause, one would think the authorities would make a special effort to show the dead and wounded. In other cases of mayhem, alleged bodies look like dummies or are covered and could be a pile of anything.

The presence of crisis actors on the scene, as in the Boston Marathon Bombing, raise more questions. I remember when it was expected that police and media would investigate all evidence and clear away contradictions. Now all we get is an official story instantly ready and repeated endlessly by officials and media. This itself raises suspicions.

You will have to make up your own minds about Las Vegas. Here are some of the reported facts to consider:

The victims killed and wounded total 573. That number is the size of a military battalion. It is very difficult to turn an entire battalion into casualties with small arms fire even in a fierce combat situation. I don’t know if it has ever happened. Can one person with no military training shooting down from 32 stories, which requires special sighting knowledge, at a distance of 390 yards—the length of 4 football fields—hit 573 people in a few minutes of firing? Jon Rappoport doesn’t believe it.

Neither does the progressive Steve Lendman. See this and this.

There are reports of multiple shooters.

There are reports of gun flashes from the 4th floor.

The windows on the hotel do not open and would require the glass to be broken.

Stephen Paddock doesn’t fit the profile of a psychopath. Reports are he was a multimillionaire with airplanes and his own pilot. He enjoyed life. His brother is dumbfounded, said it makes no sense Stephen did the shooting.

The Mandalay Bay Hotel is reportedly a casino. If so, security cameras are everywhere. Why no videos of Stephen Paddock carrying in the many cases of 23 firearms and ammunition? How could maid service clean the room for three days and not see 23 firearms and their ammunition? Makes no sense.

Why 23 guns? The number is beyond superfluous. The large number almost suggests that the entire event is concocted as a gun control incident. The huge number of guns, the huge number of casualties. Finally, at last, enough “gun violence” to get gun control.

Skeptics are waiting to hear from the authorities how a person at such a distance managed to shoot so many people in such a short time and with what automatic rifle and caliber the deed was done. As this part of the story is especially difficult to believe, we will probably not get the explanation.

And it is not only the authorities and the presstitutes that truth is up against. There is also the lack of integrity in people with axes to grind. For example, Paul Street writing in CounterPunch says:

“The Las Vegas massacre is just the latest in the Gun Lobby’s long line of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.”

The article is titled: “The NRA’s Latest Terrorist Attack on U.S. Soil.” You can read it here.

The gun control lobby has a massive vested interest in the official story. You can bet your life that the gun control lobby will ignore any and all problems associated with the official story. The story is exactly what they want in order to advance their cause. The campaign is underway.

As Paddock is a rich white male, the story also fits with Identity Politics. Paddock is another example of the evil white male. Here is the Identity Politics connection served up by the Washington Post:

“All across America white men, some young, some of middle-age, are turning into wolves. Always, after they commit acts of terror, it is revealed out that these perpetrators were not men after all. They were beasts, mindless monsters whose evil was abstract and cold and terrible.”

People are more interested in confirming their beliefs and prejudices than they are in the truth. If Paddock were a Muslim, Islamophobic people would cling to the official account.

Truth requires that people believe in truth more than they believe in their own biases and causes. In the United States, such people are increasingly rare.

Remember always the Roman question: “Who benefits?” That is where you will find the answer.

UPDATE: Paddock’s girlfriend describes him as a “kind, caring, quiet” man who she envisioned a “quiet future” with. A woman knows a man. Her description is not one of a psychopath.

I have spoken to more experienced persons rated experts including US Marine snipers. They don’t believe a word of the official story. Will, once again, the experts be got rid of by branding them “conspiracy theorists” as was done to 3,000 architects and engineers who challenge the official story of 9/11?

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

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Video: Israel Complains Assad Is Winning in Syria

October 5th, 2017 by South Front

Syrian government forces have liberated the villages of Aksh, Jaberiyah, Wadhihi and Nashimi and divided the ISIS-held pocket in eastern Salamiyah into two separate parts. Now, the army and its allies are able to defeat the remaining ISIS units one by one.

The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq released a video showing “two Russians” that ISIS had allegedly captured in late September during clashes near the village of al-Shulah located on the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway.

According to the ISIS video, their names are Roman Zabolotniy (born – 1979) and Grigory Surkanov (born – 1978). However, they do not look like Russian soldiers and are much older than the common service members of the Russian military involved in the operation in Syria.

They could be private military contractors or members of some pro-government faction. Most likely, they are civil employees for the Assad government. Therefore, they are not combatants.

The Russian Ministry of Defence refuted the ISIS claims and said

“there have been no incidents linked with any capture of prisoners or entailing losses among Russian servicemen either in the province of Deir ez-Zor or in any other Syrian province.”

Meanwhile, northeast of the city of Deir Ezzor,the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have captured Wasiyah, Jiriyah and some nearby points from ISIS. Clashes are still ongoing near Badawi al Jasir.

After over 6 years of war in Syria, Israel has found that something is not going along with their vision of the situation.

On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman gave an interview to Israel’s Walla news site calling on the United States to contribute more effort to the war torn country where President Bashar Assad “is winning.”

“I see a long international queue lining up to woo Assad, including Western nations, including moderate Sunnis. Suddenly everyone wants to get close to Assad. This is unprecedented. Because Assad is winning, everyone is standing in line,” the minister said adding that Israel is now “faced with the Russians, Iranians, and also the Turks and Hezbollah. The public does not know everything and it’s a good thing, but it’s an investment and an effort 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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Featured image: Antonin Scalia (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Las Vegas gunman wasn’t operating merely as a gunman but as a sniper, and yet the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment makes no distinctions whatsoever regarding handguns versus snipers’ weapons — automatic (or semi-automatic) rifles which spew bullets so fast the Las Vegas shooter was able in the brief time-span of only around ten minutes to murder at least 59 people and to injure another 527

So long as the 2nd Amendment continues to exist — not to be abolished — the only thing that the Las Vegas shooter did (and which others will do) that was (is) illegal was (is) to murder and injure people, but his purchase and possession of those weapons, which made this mass-slaughter possible, were (and will be) perfectly legal; and, furthermore — very importantly — the shooter had no criminal record nor other prior personal history that excluded him from purchasing the 23 rifles and guns that were in his hotel room, nor the 19 other guns, which were in his home.

In other words: the problem isn’t just ‘mentally deranged individuals’; it is also our legal system.

This incident therefore proves that, either the 2nd Amendment must be nullified, or else any entertainment-event or other event that attracts a mass of people, is an open invitation to anyone who wants to commit mass-murder — that the only access the law (the government) has in order to deal with such attacks is after-the-fact, once all of those murders and injuries have already been perpetrated. Nothing can be done in advance, so as to prevent any such attack.

Hiring more police officers won’t do it.

Building more prisons (and America already has the world’s highest percentage of its population in prison, a higher percentage than does any other nation) won’t do it.

This sickness, in our society, doesn’t consist only of allegedly demented people (and Stephen Paddock, the perpetrator, had no such record)  who might perpetrate such acts — it consists also of our laws, and of the consequent mass-availability of weapons-of-mass-destruction, under our laws. And, guns aren’t the only problem; Timothy McVeigh and others have already proven this, quite amply. No mere “gun laws” can deal with that.

Nothing can be done to prevent people such as Timothy McVeigh or Stephen Paddock from wanting to do what they do, but much can be done to make more difficult and rare their doing it — and, an essential thing which must be done, the prerequisite to all of the others, is the passage of a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

28th Amendment: The 2nd Amendment is hereby repealed.

It doesn’t need to be replaced by anything, merely repealed, because, according to the 2nd Amendment itself, the reason that the Amendment was being proposed, when it was, was stated in the Amendment’s own opening clause, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” and those “well regulated militias” no longer even exist — the U.S. has long had, instead, a standing army — and navy, and air force, and National Guard (despite the Founders’ opposition to any of those except the National Guard). And, abolishing the 2nd Amendment won’t affect those people (operating in their official capacity), at all.

Under the 2nd Amendment, as interpreted by Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, in his landmark 2008 majority-decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, there is no Constitutional way to restrict any person’s right to any weapons at all:

 “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

That is the Amendment’s second and final clause. Scalia said that the Amendment’s first clause, which states that this Amendment’s purpose was “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” is irrelevant — that, instead, this Amendment’s right is a right that any American possesses, regardless of whether or not that person is a member of a well-regulated militia. Scalia then contradicted himself (as he routinely did) by saying that

“nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

The Second Amendment does not limit itself to some people and not others, but says simply (and if we ignore the Amendment’s purpose, as he did, then it does say this without any reference to a “militia”) that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The 2nd Amendment doesn’t say “the right of sane people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say that “the right of people who have no criminal record, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” (But it does say that the right of any member of a “well regulated” — which in that time meant state-controlled — militia, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed; but Scalia ignored that restriction, entirely.) Scalia simply lied there, because no logically internally consistent way exists to affirm, as he did (even going so far there as to strip away the Amendment’s actual stated purpose) “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” and also to say that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

His (and that Court’s) interpretation of the 2nd Amendment doesn’t just “cast doubt” on those “longstanding prohibitions”: it nullifies them — but he (and they) said it didn’t, and they therefore wrote the laws on this, instead of honestly interpreting the U.S. Constitution as they had sworn to do — these were activist far-rightwing jurists. He knew when he wrote the Court’s decision, that, until then, the U.S. Supreme Court had always denied that the Second Amendment was to be interpreted apart from its first clause, and had instead imposed upon the second clause the first clause as limiting the scope of that right, to apply only to members of well-organized state militias. But Scalia, who personally reveled in killing, and was the Court’s most impassioned defender of capital punishment, and was himself an avid hunter who especially enjoyed killing non-human animals ‘for sport’, have opened the floodgates — and, by his (and their) doing so, he (and that Court) made absolutely impossible any constructive response to the Las Vegas massacre other than passage of the 28th Amendment that is here proposed.

They did it, with their lies and self-contradictions, and it now needs to be undone — by abolishing the 2nd Amendment altogether. After all: those “well regulated [state] militias” no longer even exist.

But abolishing the 2nd Amendment is no solution to the problem of mass-murders in the United States. Criminals will always find ways around the laws — just look at what the banksters who crashed the global economy in 2008 got away with; and skillful criminals who operate by means of guns, instead of by means of pens, always will, too. It is instead a necessary, but not sufficient, condition in order to make possible governmental policies that will reduce such carnages. Opponents of laws and regulations restricting certain weapons might as well argue that there should be no laws, and no regulations at all, since there will always be evil persons who will get around whatever restrictions exist. The basic argument of the National Rifle Association (a business organization that produces a fortune for its executives by defending the 2nd Amendment) is that the problem is these evil individuals and not their weapons. However, the problem is actually both. And America isn’t dealing effectively with either one. Furthermore, as the Las Vegas massacre makes clear, relying only on individuals’ criminal records and on psychologists’ assertions regarding individuals’ mental and emotional fitness to possess these weapons (or, at least, to possess guns), would also fail. The NRA position is simply an excuse to enable its members to buy as many and as bad guns (even snipers’ rifles) as they want. It’s that ridiculous. Beyond a certain point, however, such as where Stephen Paddock acquired allegedly 42 rifles and guns, it should be presumed to be no longer merely a private matter. Government has a role to play in providing for the safety of all residents. The NRA, fundamentally, but not explicitly, is denying that. The NRA is not saying that anarchy and only non-governmental armaments will advance public safety, but their position does support that position (of ‘the government is the enemy’), which is the reason why police departments are strongly anti-NRA, even though politically conservative. But they’re also terrorized by the NRA’s membership so that police opinions about the matter are publicly expressed only timidly. Open-carry laws are the flashpoint there, because these types of laws implicitly challenge the exclusivity of police officers’ right to intimidate people by the public display of their guns. However, police also, as employees of the public, cannot afford to “go public” about their political views, so openly, as to oppose the NRA in a public way. Instead, police officials dance around the problem — the problem that’s created by the 2nd Amendment.

Everyone who disagrees with this position is supporting anarchy, and, whereas libertarians might happen to think that anarchy will increase public safety, no one else does. Supporters of the 2nd Amendment are supporters of anarchy, in accord with Scalia’s majority Supreme Court decision, and they have the rich NRA (and the 2nd Amendment, which makes them rich) to thank for increasing the salaries of NRA executives and lobbyists, but not to thank for increasing anyone’s safety. If anyone’s safety will be increased by privately possessed automatic and semi-automatic rifles, that person is in a war-zone, and — since the person is only a private individual — is a terrorist, and is not conducive to the safety of anyone but him-or-her-self (if, really, even that). 

If you want a civil war, you won’t win it by privatizing public safety. The delusion that that’s the way to go, would be hilarious, if it were not so tragic. But some people profit off of that delusion, and pump it to the hilt — which is why the delusion is so widespread. 

Civil war is not the way to achieve freedom. Only democracy can do it. We don’t have one, but “taking up arms against the government” won’t achieve it. (Those public officials might represent the oligarchs; but they’re not the oligarchs; and pretending that they are, won’t make them so, and will never achieve freedom — nor democracy. And it certainly won’t enhance public safety.) The delusion is profitable for some persons, but very destructive for the entire society.

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

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The Las Vegas Review-Journal has obtained information that Stephen Paddock, the suspect in the largest mass shooting in modern US history was prescribed a powerful psychotropic drug called diazepam in June of this year, just under four months prior to the shooting.

This fits a decades-long trend among mass shooters and others who engage in cruel and unusual criminal acts being on powerful, yet legal psychotropic drugs.

According to reports from Las Vegas journalists,

“Records from the Nevada Prescription Monitoring Program obtained Tuesday show Paddock was prescribed 50 10-milligram diazepam tablets by Henderson physician Dr. Steven Winkler on June 21. A woman who answered the phone at Winkler’s office would not make him available to answer questions and would neither confirm nor deny that Paddock was ever a patient.

Paddock purchased the drug — its brand name is Valium — without insurance at a Walgreens store in Reno on the same day it was prescribed. He was supposed to take one pill a day.

Diazepam is a sedative-hypnotic drug in the class of drugs known as benzodizepines, which studies have shown can trigger aggressive behaviour. Chronic use or abuse of sedatives such as diazepam can also trigger psychotic experiences, according to drugabuse.com”.

According to the Nevada state monitoring report, the suspect Stephen Paddock was first prescribed the drugs in 2016.

This validates an earlier report in The Duran which questioned whether the suspect in the Las Vegas mass shooting was taking powerful psychotropic drugs as were most previous mass shooters.

 

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“Psychiatrist Peter Breggin’s Medication Madness is a fascinating, frightening and dramatic look at the role that psychiatric medications have played in 50 case histories of suicide, murder (including mass shooters), and other violent, criminal and bizarre behaviors…Psychiatric drugs frequently cause individuals to lose their judgment and their ability to control their emotions and actions…Many categories of psychiatric drugs can cause potentially horrendous reactions. Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Xanax, lithium, Zyprexa and other psychiatric medications may spellbind patients into believing they are improved when too often they are becoming worse. Psychiatric drugs drive some people into psychosis, mania, depression, suicide, agitation, compulsive violence and loss of self-control without the individuals realizing that their medications have deformed their way of thinking and feeling…the FDA, the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry have oversold the value (and undersold the dangers) of psychiatric drugs.” – From the liner notes to Peter Breggin’s Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-altering Medications

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Last Sunday, October 1, 2017, the US achieved a new record in the Guiness Book of Records for Mass Murders (a fictitious book) when a mass murderer in Las Vegas, Nevada, ambushed a crowd of 20,000 innocent country music festival attendees in the street 32 stories below his hotel room. The shooter owned, quite irrationally, some two dozen military-grade weapons, including many semi-automatic rifles with large capacity magazines (plus thousands of rounds of ammunition).

The shooter killed over 50, wounded over 500 and psychologically traumatized the rest of the 20,000 targets. The previous first place winner, I suppose, was the “incident at Wounded Knee” in 1890, when a company of white US Cavalrymen massacred 300 unarmed Native Americans (mostly women and children, all considered sub-human by the racist soldiers) at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. 23 of the soldiers were awarded Congressional Medals of Honor for their participation in the killings.

According to Gun Violence Archive, there has been an average of one mass shooting/day in America (defined arbitrarily by the FBI as a shooting where 4 or more victims were shot). The total number of mass shootings in 2017, so far, is 273.

The number of non-mass shootings in America (fewer than 4 victims) just on the day of the Las Vegas Massacre was 72, with 281 non-mass shootings in just the previous 3 days.

The US also averages 87 gun deaths per day, with an average of 183 persons injured, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Centers for Disease Control.

2016 was the last year for which annual gun violence statistics were available. In that year, the total number of mass shootings in America was 383, (more than one per day), with the total fatalities numbering 15,079 and total casualties numbering 58,780.

Las Vegas May Have “Looked Like a War Zone”, but There is no Real Comparison Between Military Massacres and Domestic Ones

Source: City AM

Incidentally, 58,000 happens to be the number of American soldier deaths during the entire period of American military involvement in the Vietnam War (1954-1975). Valid estimates calculate that as many as 4 times that number of returning Vietnam vets committed suicide after coming home. What else might be expected when traumatized, haunted, drugged-up, addicted, guilt-ridden, sleep-deprived, un-employable and homeless and hopeless soldiers came home to an uncomprehending populace that had no idea about what they had experienced “in country” – and don’t want to listen to the stories. Returning Vietnam vets understandably developed disorders on the PTSD spectrum or the psychopathic personality disorder spectrum, or some combination of the two, either one being extremely difficult to cure – but very easy to prevent.

Considering the fact that the history of the Vietnam War was recently presented to curious viewers in a Ken Burns PBS 10 part documentary, it might be instructive to compare the experiences of 1) what American soldiers experienced in Vietnam, 2) the variably traumatized survivors of the Las Vegas Massacre, and 3) the millions of innocent Vietnamese civilian victims that were at, for instance, the My Lai Massacre, even though the kill ratio at My Lai (with 500 killed) was close to 100%, whereas the kill ratio at Las Vegas was only 0.25%.

Also to be considered is the terror felt by the innocent, unarmed civilian victims at Fallujah, Iraq (2004) or No Gun Ri, South Korea (1950) or Nagasaki, Japan (1945)? Or consider the terror felt by the innocent, unarmed civilians victimized by some of the US drone attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush and Obama administrations.

It also might be worth mentioning that the Las Vegas mass shooting “only” lasted 30 minutes, whereas My Lai lasted 4 hours, No Gun Ri lasted 2-3 days, Fallujah (the 2004 version) lasted 6 weeks, and the Nagasaki bomb, even though the immediate destruction only lasted minutes, still hasn’t stopped killing and maiming its survivors – and their progeny – after 72 years.

Dramatic mass shootings, especially America’s infamous school shootings over the last several decades, seem to be peculiarly American, given the fact that American physicians prescribe more psych drugs to their children than any other nation and American is awash with lethal weapons. It is also a fact that almost every other developed nation that has experienced such mass shootings soon passed appropriate legislation that decreased the chances of future shootings from happening again.

But not in America, thanks to the American National Rifle Association and the lobbyists for America’s weapons manufacturers who bribe both Republican and Democrat politicians, all of whom are afraid of having future NRA campaign “contributions” withheld. And also thanks to Big Pharma, that thrives on over-prescribing drugs to every sector of our nation, including babies.

The Important Taboo Question: What Brain-disabling Psychiatric Drugs – if any – was the Las Vegas Shooter Taking or Withdrawing From?

Roundly hated and very misunderstood school shooters like Charles Whitman (the Austin, TX “Clock Tower Sniper”), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (of Columbine infamy), Jeff Weise (of Red Lake infamy), Seung-Hui Cho (of Virginia Tech infamy), James Holmes (the “Batman shooter”), and 90% of the multitude of other American school shooters over the past decades were actually a group of over-diagnosed, over-treated, psychiatric drug-intoxicated, brain-disabled, revenge-seeking, self-control disabling, gun-wielding, mass murdering, outcast/loner young white males who shot at crowds of innocent fellow students after making impressively bizarre plans to do so.

There are many similarities between those shooters, but the most consistent correlation, besides the guns, was their use of brain-disabling and highly addictive psychiatric prescription drugs. And guns and drugs just don’t mix.

“Senseless Violence?” – Or Not?

The other consistent correlation is the fact that thorough “investigative journalism” never gets done when school shootings or “irrational” mass murders happen. Nobody asks, or demands an answer, about drug use. There is obviously a lot of self-censoring going on in the media. Big Media and Big Medicine have been co-opted for as long as I can remember by Big Pharma advertisers, and the pharmaceutical industry does everything it can to prevent the besmirching of the reputations of the members of Big Medicine, who are responsible for over-prescribing their unconscionably unaffordable drugs.

So America’s daily mass shootings are immediately labeled by the Big Pharma-influenced editors and talking heads in Big Media as “acts of ‘senseless violence’ that will probably never be understood”; meaning, of course, that we consumers of drugs and TV commercials shouldn’t bother our little heads speculating about the motives of the shooters or what were the medications that might have contributed to the bizarre homicidal and suicidal acts that were incomprehensible for the friends and family members of the shooter.

America’s ruling elites, the corporate-controlled mainstream media, the Big Pharma-influenced publishers and editors of most medical journals, the AMA, the APA and most politicians have Big Pharma stocks in their ample investment portfolios, so they don’t want any independent-minded journalists digging up incriminating information about violence- and suicide-inducing drugs that might adversely affect the financial well-being of the pharmaceutical sector of the economy.

Psychiatric Drug-induced School Shootings are Iatrogenic

“Iatrogenic Illness: A condition, usually inadvertent, resulting from the activity of a physician, such as an adverse reaction to a prescription drug, surgery, vaccine or medical device.”

Of course, physicians, clinics, government agencies like the FDA, the NIH, the NIMH and the CDC are among the powers-that-be that don’t want information revealed attesting to the fact that many prescription psychiatric drugs are known to induce violence, aggression, suicidality, depression, sleep-deprivation, temporary psychoses, addictions and withdrawal syndromes, any of which could stimulate homicidal violence and suicidality. All one has to do is to read the package inserts.

“Trust us”, they are saying, “we’re the experts and what we say goes; and besides, you won’t be able to prove iatrogenesis in a court of law, simply because establishment lawyers, establishment judges and civilian juries (who tend to get their medical education from Big Pharma-produced prime-time television commercials) all seem to trust the indoctrinated academic or drug-prescribing clinical psychiatrists who will be called on by the court to testify as expert witnesses.”

Unfortunately, these “experts” are also likely to be beholden to the various powers-that-be who aren’t interested in having the sheeple understand what really went down at Austin, Columbine, Red Lake, Virginia Tech, or Aurora (or Las Vegas).

The assorted guilty accomplices noted above in corporate-controlled America are covering their behinds. They want to be sure that they will be held blameless when the final censored “official” police investigation and coroner’s reports from Las Vegas are released in a year or so, at which time there will be a host of other equally distracting gun violence episodes or foreign wars that will cause most of us to lose interest in the results.

Squandering Another Teachable Moment Concerning the Dangers of Mixing Drugs and Guns

Do expect, however, to continue to hear all sorts of irrelevant spin-off verbiage about what kinds of guns and ammo were used by the latest shooter plus endless human interest stories – carefully avoiding information about what brain-disabling drugs the shooter might have been taking in the past or may have been withdrawing from – both realities possibly disabling the brain and clouding judgement.

Learning something that might have an impact at preventing future mass murders is not in the interest of Big Pharma, Big Psychiatry or Big Medicine. Allowing those powerful entities to shape the discussion will make it certain that another teachable moment about the dangers of combining drugs and guns will be squandered.

If there is evidence that will help us naïve “consumers” of drugs, TV commercials and propaganda that could make sense out of mass shootings and that would give us a fighting chance to quell the epidemic in the future, don’t expect to be told about it – until and unless some courageous investigative journalists do the hard sleuthing and courageous reporting. If Big Pharma has any say in the matter, there will be continued obfuscation about the last shooter as has been the case with every other mass shooter that you can think of.

The Consequences of Failing to De-mystify Mass Murders

If the Las Vegas Massacre is investigated without studying ALL the factors in the case (especially about drugs), we will see no change in the epidemic. In fact, the longer the truth is obfuscated, the sooner that will have to prepare for and defend against the anti-First Amendment agenda that will hasten the implementation of “domestic” spy drones all over America, the effort to issue more conceal and carry handgun permits and the legalization of silencers and fully automatic weapons for private citizens.

More weapons will be purchased by propagandized, freaked-out and paranoid citizens and there will be metal detectors everywhere. Taxpayer-paid-for metal detectors will be purchased and private security firms will be frisking us as we stand in line to see the next violence-inducing, fear-inducing, shoot-‘em-up fantasy film about fictitious, time-traveling, “undead” monsters or some new and laughably absurd super-hero movie that will surely provoke thoughts of homicidal violence to who-knows-what drugged-up copy-cat wannabe adolescent shooter who might fancy himself as an avenger of injustice (or as a competitor to achieve first place in the Guiness Book of World Records for non-combat mass murders).

We all have been listening and watching the news coverage of the Las Vegas shootings this past few days. So far I have heard zero questions asked about brain-disabling drugs, and it is still too early to learn about any post-mortem blood, gastric contents or brain tissue testing for the presence of medications – if the too-busy Las Vegas Coroner’s Department will even find the time to get to that essential examination.

He who Pays the Piper, Gets to Call the Tune

By ignoring the mountains of peer-reviewed complementary-alternative medical literature and only paying attention to what is published in the co-opted mainstream medical journals, we physician drug prescribers regularly – and often quite cavalierly – hand out mind-altering synthetic chemicals that BigPharma’s well-paid and very attractive sales staffs falsely reassure us are safe, curative and non-addicting (without legitimate data to back up their claims and lots of data to totally refute their claims). Pens, pizzas and post-it notes are offered to clinch the sale.

It is important to remind readers to check out www.ssristories.com for much more on the medication madness issue. At that site, readers will find a collection of 6,000+ damning documentation about the behavioral and psychic toxicity of antidepressants. There are many examples of psychotropic drug-induced violence that have been reported in the media (via newspapers, TV and even scientific journals) or were part of the three FDA hearings (1991, 2004 and 2006) where public testimony about the lethality of FDA-approved psych drugs was allowed (all of which was essentially ignored by the FDA panel that heard the testimony).

I end with a few of the many examples of school shooters whose brains were adversely affected by the drugs prescribed by their psychiatrists (who were obviously ignorant of the homicidality and suicidality consequences that were known adverse effects of the drugs.

  • Charles Whitman, age 25, the “Clock Tower Sniper” at the University of Texas/Austin (1966), an Eagle scout and an ex-Marine sharp-shooter was taking (and/or withdrawing from) prescribed Dexedrine (amphetamine) and barbiturates. 14 dead, 31 wounded.
  • Eric Harris, age 18, was on Luvox when he and Dylan Klebold killed classmates and a teacher in Littleton, Colorado (1999). Klebold’s medical records were sealed. Both Harris and Klebold shot and killed themselves. 15 dead, 23 wounded.
  • Jeff Weise, age 16, was on 60 mg of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot and killed his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and 8 fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota (2005). He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
  • Seung-Hui Cho, age 23, the shooter in the Virginia Tech Massacre (2007) was on Paxil. 33 dead, 29 wounded.
  • James Holmes, age 29, the Batman Shooter at Aurora, CO (2012) had been prescribed the brain-altering drugs Zoloft (sertraline), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Inderal (propranolol). 12 dead, 70 wounded.
  • Kip Kinkel, age 15, the “Killer at Thurston High” (1998), was taking Prozac and withdrawing from Ritalin when he shot up his cafeteria in Springfield, OR. 4 dead (including his two parents) 22 wounded.
  • Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, had been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien when he went on a shooting rampage before killing himself at Northern Illinois University. 5 dead, 16 wounded.
  • Shawn Cooper, age 15, was taking Ritalin when he fired a shotgun at school.
  • Elizabeth Bush, age 14, was on Paxil when she shot at fellow students in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, wounding one.
  • Mitchell Johnson, age 13, was taking an unspecified psych drug when he shot at fellow students in Jonesboro, Arkansas. 5 dead, many others wounded.
  • T. J. Solomon, age 15, was taking Ritalin when he shot six classmates in Conyers, Georgia.
  • Jason Hoffman, age 18, was on Effexor and Celexa when he shot at fellow students at his high school in El Cajon, California. 5 wounded.
  • Asa Coon, age 14, was on Trazodone when he shot and wounded four students at his school before killing himself.

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Dr. Kohls is a retired physician who practiced holistic, non-drug, mental health care for the last decade of his forty year family practice career. He is a contributor to and an endorser of the efforts of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and was a member of Mind Freedom International, the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

Many of Dr Kohls’ columns are archived at http://duluthreader.com/search?search_term=Duty+to+Warn&p=2

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

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

Featured image is from CCHR International.

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The Official Las Vegas Shooting Story Lacks Credibility

October 5th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

An emailer described himself as a competitive high power rifle shooter for the past 20 years, reaching the classification of High Master, the highest level of proficiency.

He explained that what evidence is known about last Sunday’s incident suggests it was a “total hoax.”

He “doubts there was a live round fired,” calling the incident “theater with sound effects.” Where are the victims, he asked – Stephen Paddock’s corpse the only one shown! Where are the other dead and wounded?

The emailer provided detailed information on the sound of bullets whizzing overhead, saying:

“A supersonic rifle bullet (and according to what the police are claiming, these were all ‘military type’ cartridges, which except for special ops stuff is all supersonic) produces a piercing, whistling, very sharp crack, at least as loud as the muzzle blast as it passes by you in the pits. (think sonic boom, only much higher pitched and sharper).”

“When it hits the impact berm, if there is one, or anything else solid, there is a pronounced thud. These sounds are very audible.”

“You can often tell your target’s impacts from the others in the line just by the slight difference in sound volume.”

“In other words, incoming high power rifle bullets vary in sound signature depending on how far you are from them when they pass by. It’s always loud, but the close ones are REALLY loud.”

“Those sounds are totally missing from ALL of the recordings…In the videos, you can hear the muzzle blast clearly.”

“If those were real high power rifle bullets arriving all around you, I doubt the muzzle blast would have been audible at all.”

“At the angle the rounds were allegedly fired from, there should be audible thuds of bullets striking the ground. Nothing.”

Draw your own conclusion. Much more about the official story lacks credibility, suggesting the incident could be a state-sponsored false flag, using Stephen Paddock as a convenient patsy – dead to tell no tales, the usual pattern for these type incidents.

His girlfriend Marilou Danley, a Philippine national, was visiting her native country at the time of the incident. Now back in America, she expressed shock about what happened.

Here’s a statement she made through her lawyer Matt Lombard saying:

“I am devastated by the deaths and injuries that have occurred, and my prayers go out to the victims and their families.”

“I have faith in God, and I will continue to pray for everyone who has been harmed or hurt. I am a mother and a grandmother, and my heart breaks for all who have lost loved ones.”

“I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring quiet man. I loved him and hoped for a quiet future together with him.”

“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.”

“A little more than two weeks ago, Stephen told me that he’d found a cheap ticket for me to the Philippines and he wanted me to take a trip home to see my family.”

“Like all Filipinos abroad, I was excited to go home and see family and friends. While there, he wired me money which he said was for me to buy a house for me and my family.”

“I was grateful, but honestly, I was worried, that first the unexpected trip home, and then the money, was a way of breaking up with me.”

“It never occurred to me that he was planning violence against anyone. I have not made a statement until now because I’ve been cooperating with the authorities and I voluntarily flew back to America because I know that the FBI and Las Vegas Police Department wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them. I will cooperate fully in their investigation.”

Danley describing Paddock as “a kind, caring quiet man,” along with his brother Eric saying he wasn’t “an avid gun guy (with) no military background,” nothing suggesting he could be prone to violence, makes the official account of what happened appear fabricated.

Claiming he managed to bring an arsenal of high-powered weapons into the Mandalay hotel unnoticed, enough to equip a squad or two of marines, his arms and munitions undetected for three days, alone suggests the official account was falsified to blame him for an incident that may not have been as reported.

As they say, something is rotten in Denmark. The official story lacks credibility, Paddock unable to tell his side.

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

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

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

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

Featured image is from India.com.

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Featured image: Masoud Barzani (Source: The Kurdish Project

Corruption, dirty politics and betrayal by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has led to Iran and Turkey becoming a tad closer over the political suicide of President Barzani. Will the Kurdistan leader take his own country down with him?

There could never be a more fitting adage to describe the President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani‘s recent move in Iraqi Kurdistan than Charlotte Bronte’s apt quote: “give a man enough rope and he will hang himself.”

Barzani’s capricious, if not reckless move to plow ahead with a referendum – in an erroneous bid to galvanize more political support for himself – is likely to backfire on a grand scale. Certainly, he has whipped up a plethora of feel-good nationalism as the Kurds’ dream of an independent state was stoked following the demise of ISIS in the region.

But how long will that euphoria last if Iran and Turkey – the two key players who have both Kurdistan’s and Barzani’s fate in their hands – agree to a blockade? While the Kurdistan quandary helps to bring these two countries slightly closer, the prospect of Kurdistan’s oil lifeline being closed becomes a stark reality as the clock ticks.

Barzani didn’t merely miscalculate that the referendum could be used as leverage over Baghdad, but also that his threats of using military means to secure hot spots, like Kirkuk, are nothing more than a triumph of futility in the face of what Iran, Turkey and Baghdad have in store for him.

There doesn’t need to be a war. In fact, the main reason why these three players are dragging their feet is that they are slowly lowering Barzani into a boiling cauldron of his own making. If he doesn’t do what Baghdad demands he will see his own country go into a meltdown when oil can no longer be exported. Turkey does not have to go to the next level and threaten to stop supplying goods (Kurdistan relies heavily on Turkey for almost everything in its supermarkets) if there is no money to pay for them. If Kurdistan slowly sinks into debt and there is no money even for the state apparatus to function, the political turmoil will be enough to topple Barzani when supermarket shelves are empty, and people can no longer feed themselves.

To some extent, the political fallout is already happening. His three chief foes are already complaining about the wisdom of the decision to go ahead with the referendum, and a subsequent post-referendum political shake-up. Politically, this will have greater resonance when the middle classes have to live off their savings, and the poor have nothing to eat in a country where teachers and public servants haven’t received their full salaries for years.

Betrayal on a grand scale

What is seldom reported by the Western media camped in the decadent regional capital of Erbil is the jaw-dropping level of corruption by Barzani and his people – the kind of graft which makes Baghdad look modest in its looting of public money, kickbacks and wholesale embezzlement. And how corruption, which has driven Kurdistan deeper into the quagmire of poverty and debt ($20 billion at last count) has ruined the country and put Barzani in the position he is now: one of desperation, both politically and financially.

Barzani tenuously holds onto power over only half of the region, as fervor stirred up by the referendum was designed to galvanize his own (already extended) term in office as president. The cash from Kirkuk oil fields was also supposed to help Kurdistan’s beleaguered economy pull itself out of a crisis brought about by a war with ISIS and low oil prices.

Barzani’s critics, however, are harsher. One senior Iranian figure told me on the condition of anonymity that most of this money would end up in the pockets of Barzani’s clan anyway, and that corruption is really the core issue which Western pundits are missing in the smoke and mirrors of the referendum debacle.

The real problem for Barzani is that he has burned all his bridges with the central government in Baghdad, with Iran, and even, although to a lesser extent, with Turkey. It’s widely unreported in the West that it was the Iranians who saved his neck in 2014 when ISIS was a matter of kilometers from Erbil, the region’s capital.

According to a somewhat obscure Kurdish news website, Tehran sent its own special forces, led by General Solaimani, to Erbil to deter ISIS when the Americans refused to help, dispatching another myth of how effective the infamous Peshmerga really are on the battlefield.

Barzani would have been wiser to have been more grateful to Iran. Yet he has betrayed Tehran on a grand scale by defying its advice and offer of help to negotiate with Baghdad in preference for the referendum. Now, officials tell me, he has “lost any leverage at all with Baghdad,” who will now take back anything that could be on the table for negotiation.

One senior Iranian figure did confirm this, however.

Professor Sayed Mohamed Morandi of the Tehran University says Barzani is in the crosshairs of Iranian officials who will extract more from the Kurdish leader, because of the referendum:

“They will get more now because they have justification to tighten the screws which has grown much stronger, because of the ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’ (feared Iraqi Shia militias).”

Talk about a gun backfiring in your face.

The price is right

Iran’s experiences with Barzani were that Tehran always distrusted him. It is a popular myth that the Kurds started to sell their own oil after agreed payments from Baghdad stopped. In fact, Iran claims it was the other way around. Double-crossing is the mainstay of Barzani and Iran has paid the price for this. Even with ISIS, Iranian officials now believe there was originally a deal with the Kurds that they would not fight the extremist group, allowing the Kurds to take a number of towns which the Iraqi army abandoned. Later, that unwritten deal was to be broken (hence the Erbil crisis in 2014) but Baghdad and Iran are both seething with anger that in the early days the Kurds would not attack ISIS as they were asked to do.

Kurds like to present themselves as the victims of betrayal and persecution, yet they are prolific at the dark crafts themselves.

Because of this colossal betrayal and a total lack of trust in Barzani, the Kurdish president is almost entirely isolated. Amazingly, he must have seen this as a position of strength in the early days; but just recently, it is beginning to sink in that his only options are to stay in the boiling fat, or jump into the fire.

This explains why Barzani offered just a few days ago to send a delegation to Turkey, as although Erdogan is angry with him, he has at least not betrayed the Turkish leader.

Barzani realized late in the game that Erdogan holds all the power now because of the border crossing and also due to its good relations with Iran. Yet even with Turkey, Barzani’s options are really very limited as he has pushed Erdogan into a position of offering ultimatums. Ankara is still holding out for a diplomatic solution, and probably on behalf of the Americans recently sent a message to Barzani through one of its Erdogan-backed outlets, which urged him to back down and cancel the referendum.

In the past, when relations with Baghdad hit a low point in 2014, Erdogan lent Barzani $2 billion to pay government salaries and allowed him to sell oil in Turkey.

 “Ankara made every possible friendly gesture to Barzani, and now Erdogan rightfully feels let down,” argues Daily Sabah.

The tone has been tempered in recent days by Turkey as just a week earlier Erdogan was threatening to make Barzani “pay the price” for the referendum. But the message is always directed personally at Barzani and Erdogan will no doubt go ahead with shutting off the oil valve on the border, if the KRG leader doesn’t do what Erdogan wants:

“You will be left alone when we start imposing our sanctions. Once we shut down the [oil pipeline] valve, [you] will be done,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said recently.

So giving in to Turkey’s demands comes with a hidden price which is that it would make Erdogan the key player to resolve Iraqi’s crisis, a counterweight to Iran (and Baghdad) which has now gone beyond dialogue as military exercises are being carried out by the Iraqi army.

It might well turn out in the coming days that Baghdad will find itself negotiating with Erdogan, who in recent years has grown closer to Barzani and sees him as a useful Kurdish figure to cast a shadow over the PKK which is at loggerheads with the KRG leader.

A visit to Iran from Turkey’s government planned soon will provide an opportunity for both regional powers to grapple the Kurdistan puzzle. But it’s really now about numbers for the Turks (cheaper oil, perhaps?) or seeding a total political takeover for Baghdad and Iran.

Barzani will most likely pay the price for his recklessness. He’s had the party. Now it’s time to clear up and pay for the damage. If he doesn’t do the right thing and accept this maxim, then all that remains is to witness his own fall as regional superpowers all plunge their daggers, as he has one last Shakespearean role to play for them, as a bloody example of what becomes of those who forget who placed them in power.

Martin Jay is an award winning British journalist now based in Beirut who works on a freelance basis for a number of respected British newspapers as well as previously Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle TV. Before Lebanon, he has worked in Africa and Europe for CNN, Euronews, CNBC, BBC, Sunday Times and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRJay.

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Featured image: Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Let’s set the record straight before commenting further. No Russian US election interference occurred. No evidence suggests it. Without it, accusations are groundless.

Yet they persist. On October 7, 2016, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Homeland Security claimed Russia interfered in the US 2016 presidential election by hacking DNC servers and email account of Hillary’s campaign manager John Podesta, supplying the material to WikiLeaks.

From then until now, an entire year, not a shred of evidence was presented supporting the accusations. Why not? Obviously because none exists, nothing that would pass independent scrutiny.

Information passed to WikiLeaks came from one or more DNC inside sources. Nothing was hacked. Russia had nothing to do with what happened. Nothing proves otherwise.

In January, House and Senate Intelligence Committee members began their investigations, ongoing for over eight months, discovering nothing suggesting Russian US election interference.

During a Wednesday news conference, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr tried putting a brave face on a witch-hunt investigation.

Saying he has high confidence in the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian interference, he admitted his committee found nothing proving it.

The issue remains an “open question” as to whether there was collusion by Russia with the Trump campaign, he said, deplorably warning Moscow could meddle in next year’s congressional races.

“You can’t walk away from this and believe that Russia’s not currently active,” he roared. Despite no evidence proving it last year or now, he said “(t)here is consensus among members and staff that we trust the (intelligence community’s) conclusions…”

Investigations reflect longstanding Russia bashing. Trump was right calling them “a hoax,” shameful congressional action, along with endless other other examples of rogue governance.

Months of time, effort and money spent drew a blank. Without setting a deadline, Burr said

“(w)e hope we will very soon reach some definite conclusion.”

House Intelligence Committee members and special counsel Robert Mueller are conducting their own witch-hunt investigations.

They found nothing suggesting Russian interference in last year’s presidential election because there’s nothing to find no matter now long investigations continue.

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

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

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

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

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Selected Articles: Geopolitical Crisis in Asia

October 5th, 2017 by Global Research News

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

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

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From Myanmar, to Whitehall, to Washington – Politics Festering Nadir

By Felicity Arbuthnot, October 05, 2017

Oxford UK, the “city of dreaming spires”, as described by poet Matthew Arnold and the oldest university city in the English speaking world, is to rescind the honour of the Freedom of the City awarded to Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, over her response to the Rohingya crisis, reports The Guardian (1.)

US Proxies in Southeast Asia Include Fake Communists

By Joseph Thomas, October 05, 2017

In Southeast Asia, Wahhabi-inspired militants also serve Washington’s interests across the region. They are joined by neo-liberal academics and journalists who eagerly serve Washington, London, Brussels and the Western clubs and networks these neo-liberals seek memberships within.

Cambodia Is Trying to Snip a Color Revolution Attempt in the Bud

By Andrew Korybko, October 04, 2017

Opposition leader Kem Sokha’arrest in early September was due to leaked recordings from 2013 which allege that he was cooperating with US experts in a bid to seize power. The government says that he was fomenting a Color Revolution, while his supporters say that it’s normal in today’s world for political parties to seek a broad array of international advisory support before elections.

Who Is Responsible for Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar?

By Gearóid Ó Colmáin, October 01, 2017

Myanmar’s Rakhine State has experienced a wave of violence since ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) terrorists attacked security forces on the 25th of August killing 10 police officers, 1 soldier, 9 security officers and several civilians.

Video: Afghanistan: Fierce Clashes and Suicide Bombings

By South Front, October 01, 2017

An intense fighting also erupted in Jani Khel district of Paktia province where the army backed up by NATO forces launched an advance against the Taliban.

Middle East and Asia Geopolitics: Shift in Military Alliances?

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, September 30, 2017

A profound shift in geopolitical alliances is occurring which tends to undermine US hegemony in the broader Middle East Central Asian region as well as in South Asia.

Several of America’s staunchest allies have “changed sides”. Both NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are in crisis.

Monsanto’s Violence in India: The Sacred and The Profane

By Colin Todhunter, September 30, 2017

Foreign capital is dictating the prevailing development agenda in India. There is a deliberate strategy to make agriculture financially non-viable for India’s small farms, to get most farmers out of farming and to impose a World Bank sanctioned model of food production. The aim is to replace current structures with a system of industrial (GM) agriculture suited to the needs of Western agribusiness, food processing and retail concerns.

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US Proxies in Southeast Asia Include Fake Communists

October 5th, 2017 by Joseph Thomas

A quick geopolitical audit of Washington’s political and military proxies around the globe reveals a tangled web that, at first glance, appears contradictory and incoherent.

Fascists in Kiev who hold extreme views regarding race and religion enjoy equal standing in Washington with Wahhabi militants across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Two groups who would otherwise find themselves ideologically opposed, instead find themselves working toward a common cause, one on behalf of Washington.

And Washington itself, which would appear at first glance diametrically opposed to both fascism and Wahhabism, instead counts both among its closest and most reliable facilitators and functionaries around the globe.

And while the rank and file of Americans, Ukrainians and Wahhabi militants may genuinely believe in otherwise contradictory and incompatible ideologies, cursory research reveals that the leadership of all three groups are motivated by money and the influence it buys far more than their alleged, respective ideologies.

In Southeast Asia, Wahhabi-inspired militants also serve Washington’s interests across the region. They are joined by neo-liberal academics and journalists who eagerly serve Washington, London, Brussels and the Western clubs and networks these neo-liberals seek memberships within.

But there is also another curious and perhaps ironic member of this otherwise contradictory alliance, supposed “Communists” and “socialists.”

Thailand’s “Communists”and the Capitalists They Love  

The most transparent example of this is found in Thailand in the form of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). The UDD is led by prominent members of Thailand’s former Communist Party including Weng Tojirakarn and his wife Thida Thavornseth. While the UDD claims to be an independent “people power” movement, it is little more than a street front of, by and for the Pheu Thai Party (PTP).

PTP in turn is the creation of billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra who served as Thailand’s prime minister from 2001 until 2006 when he was finally ousted from power during a swift and bloodless military coup.

Since 2006, Shinawatra has mired Thailand in political turmoil as he attempts to seize back power, temporarily holding it by proxy through his brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat and more recently through his own sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Shinawatra is currently living abroad as a convicted criminal and a fugitive. He enjoys significant backing from the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union where he is allowed to regularly travel and conduct business.

Shinawatra has a lengthy list of lobbying contacts in Washington D.C. including firms such as Baker Botts headed by James Baker. Both Baker and Shinawatra shared roles in the private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, in the late 1990’s before Shinawatra ascended in Thai politics.

Another lobbyist that has supported Shinawatra is Kenneth Adelman who also concurrently served as a trustee of Freedom House, one of several US State Department fronts that work to undermine one government on behalf of another favoured by Washington.

Today, Shinawatra, his PTP and the UDD continue undermining political stability in Thailand with the help of a massive and growing network of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) funded by the United States, the United Kingdom, the EU and private foundations like convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society.

The UDD’s leadership regularly receives directives from Shinawatra, its membership openly and shamelessly professes fealty to Shinawatra and during rallies regularly feature video call-ins from Thaksin Shinawatra himself. While the UDD claims to be an independent “people power” movement, it is in reality nothing more than people “powering” a billionaire’s foreign-backed political machine, with nothing at all to do with empowering the actual people involved.

In simpler terms, the return of Shinawatra, his PTP and its UDD street front to power upon Thailand’s political landscape will be a victory for “imperialism,” not a strike against it.

Not Everything That is Red is Communist

The UDD is also commonly referred to as the “red shirts,” both for the red shirts members literally wear during US colour revolution-style protests and to invoke Communist ideology and symbolism as a unifying theme for the movement.

However, the UDD clearly has no more to do with Communism than Wahhabi militant groups like Al Qaeda have to do with genuine Islam. Both are organisations using ideology and symbolism as a smokescreen for the actual interests they truly serve and at the expense of the very ideologies they claim to represent.

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Source: NEO

While proponents of the UDD and Thaksin Shinawatra’s political dynasty will cite a handful of socialist policies PTP implemented in Thailand while in power, it should be noted that Thailand before and well after PTP held power has devised and implemented socialist policies, as do virtually all nations on earth.

The much vaunted 30 baht healthcare scheme was already on the drawing board when Thaksin Shinawatra came to power in 2001. Well after Shinawatra was ousted from power, successive governments have kept the policy in place, or enhanced it.

State institutions, including affordable public universities existed before and after Shinawatra’s time in power. Shinawatra actually privatised the nation’s state oil enterprise, PTT, a move that Shinawatra’s opponents have repeatedly tried to overturn, and a move most certainly “un-Communist.”

Subsidy programmes have also existed before and after Shinawatra’s time in power. Under Shinawatra’s sister’s term as prime minister between 2011-2014, rice subsidies promoted by Shinawatra in order to clinch the 2011 election ended up not only not helping Thailand’s rice farmers, it devastated the rice industry and left nearly 1 million farmers unpaid while their rice rotted unsold in government warehouses. It was only after the 2014 coup that ousted Yingluck Shinawatra from power that farmers were finally paid.

It is an example of not only a disingenuous populist or “socialist” policy devised merely to buy votes, it is also an example of how impostors posing as “socialists” or even as “Communists” can damage the very ideology they use as a sociopolitical smokescreen.

Real Analysis Vs. Red Fantasy 

Thailand’s constitutional monarchy has for decades worked nationwide to empower people with the tenets and tools of self-sufficiency. The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej relentlessly worked to encourage localisation, decentralisation and strong, self-reliant communities to free people from predation both from domestic political interests as well as those of wider globalisation.

Among the many features of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s work was the promotion of community cooperatives. Cooperatives could include everything from acquiring and distributing the benefits of a common village rice mill and other equipment for value-added agricultural processing, to joint-networks to help package, market and ship community goods around the country and abroad.

The result is a patchwork of strong, self-reliant villages across the nation where people depend on themselves and each other to create and fairly distribute wealth rather than on centralised bureaucracies, self-serving political parties and the exploitative policies they implement to further empower and enrich themselves.

It is perhaps ironic that supposed “Communists,” wrapping themselves in red, vehemently condemn these networks and the tenants they are built on, promoting instead a system of patronage headed by Thaksin Shinawatra and his PTP political machine, a conglomeration of mafiosos and millionaires, insisting that true “democracy” be equated with achieving crippling dependency on such patronage networks.

In contrast to royal projects building productive and self-sufficient villages, Shinawatra’s patronage networks leave entire segments of the population lying around waiting for the next election and the whirlwind of populist handouts they expect to follow a victory for Shinawatra’s political proxies.

At one point, Shinawatra, the PTP and UDD initiated a “red village” programme in which an image of Thaksin Shinawatra would be affixed to the entrances of villages in his political strongholds in north and northeast Thailand. These villages would become de facto exclusion zones for any form of politics opposed to Shinawatra and his political machine. Obedient villages who performed well during elections would be rewarded. Those that didn’t would not be.

At one point, representatives of the US Embassy in Thailand would visit representatives of this “red village” network (video here), lending political support and legitimacy to the movement and highlighting once again the true nature of who and what the UDD really represents.

For those who only need to see the colour red to be convinced, billionaire Shinawatra’s “red villages” seem like progress. For those who actually care about empowering people or Thailand’s sovereignty among an increasingly multipolar world, it is clear these “red villages” seek to overwrite progress that has already been made.

Red Herrings vs Real Anti-Imperialism 

Together with US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded networks stretching across Thailand, Shinawatra and his foreign sponsors seek to create parallel institutions and networks to crowd-out Thailand’s own independent institutions, target and undermine Thailand’s military and constitutional monarchy, attack and erase Thailand’s cultural identity and unity, and render the only nation in Southeast Asia to have so-far avoided Western colonialism, a compliant and obedient client regime vis-à-vis Washington’s true regional adversary, Beijing.

Shinawatra and his UDD is red “Communism” without the actual Communism. It is yet another movement that uses superficial symbolism to ensnare the well-meaning, but one that upon tracing the money and true motivations that animate it, leads to Washington, London and Brussels, not “people power.”

The fact that the UDD stands opposed to a constitutional monarchy further lends the movement an attractive narrative that appeals to unrealistic and exceedingly superficial adherents of  not only”Communism” but also superficial adherents of “anarchy.” Also aiding the UDD in attracting support, particularly from Western admirers abroad, are persistent Cold War myths surrounding Thailand’s relationship with Washington., myths that contradict Thailand’s actual and current shift away from Washington.

Fantastical narratives in which fluttering red banners are the only prerequisites required, contradicting the actual values such banners represent, enable rather than oppose the injustice of imperialism.

Such superficiality has likewise enabled Washington-backed movements like Al Qaeda, which play the role of pious Muslims fighting against foreign oppressors all while insidiously serving them. Likely, many have unwittingly been drawn into Al Qaeda’s narratives, focused on their banners, their books and their bellowing, rather than on their finances, real friends or actual foes.

Fighting something as large and as devastating as real imperialism requires serious analysis that must extend far beyond the superficiality and oversimplifications of banners, slogans and supposed ideologies.

If Washington is capable of creating legions of fascists and Wahhabi militants that serve its cause, it certainly can create “Communists” and any other ideological flavour of proxy it believes can serve its interests when and where needed. With Washington possessing such a capability, only real analysis can peel back the layers of money and motivations of any given movement, revealing its true colours, and those who refuse to peel back these layers, may in fact be aiding and abetting empire, not resisting it.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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“But then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme. Believe that a further shore is reachable from here. Believe in miracles.” (Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013, “The Cure at Troy.”)

Oxford UK, the “city of dreaming spires”, as described by poet Matthew Arnold and the oldest university city in the English speaking world, is to rescind the honour of the Freedom of the City awarded to Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, over her response to the Rohingya crisis, reports The Guardian (1.)

A unanimous cross-party motion stated that it was “no longer appropriate” to fete Myanmar’s de facto head of State.

Council Leader, Bob Price is quoted as calling the move an “unprecedented step” for the authority. A special meeting to confirm the stripping of the status will be held on 27th November.

Last week St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she studied as an undergraduate, removed her portrait from public display. According the The Guardian (29th September 2017):

“In 2012 Aung San Suu Kyi was celebrated with an Honorary Doctorate from Oxford University, and held her 67th birthday party at the college where she studied politics, philosophy and economics between 1964 and 1967.”

So far there is no talk of the Doctorate being rescinded, though a number of UK institutions are reviewing honours bestowed on her over the years.

UNISON, the country’s second largest trade union, last month suspended her honorary membership and:

“Bristol University, one of a string of universities that awarded honorary degrees to the Burmese leader during her time in opposition, also said it was reviewing its award in light of accusations of brutal mistreatment of the Rohingya” whilst: “The London School of Economics Student Union said it would be stripping Aung San Suu Kyi of her Honorary Presidency.”

“A number” of other institutions are reported to be “reviewing or removing” honours previously bestowed on her, though no doubt as other dubious recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize she will retain that, awarded in 1991.

The UN have described the plight of the Rohingya as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Britain’s Disasters and Emergency Committee has launched a major appeal for the Rohingya with the UK government led by Theresa May (who coincidentally also studied at St Hugh’s College, Oxford) leading from the rear by pledging that the government would match the first three million pounds donated by the public.

If humanity existed the government would surely have led, donating the first major tranche of money and urging the public to join. But then when it is of a mindset that appoints a Foreign Secretary, the country’s foremost “diplomat”, who said yesterday of Sirte in Libya – where Muammar Gaddafi was horrifically, barbarically slaughtered and which Secretary Boris Johnson had recently visited:

“There’s a group of UK business people, wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte … and they literally have a brilliant vision to turn Sirte … to turn it into the next Dubai. The only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then they’ll be there.”

From Myanmar, to Whitehall, to Donald Trump sneering at the devastated people of Puerto Rico (2 – if you can stomach it) it seems politics has hit a shameful, stinking, festering, inhuman low. Given the lows of the last decades, that is really saying something.

Notes

1. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/04/aung-san-suu-kyi-to-be-stripped-of-freedom-of-the-city-of-oxford

2. http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/03/politics/trump-puerto-rico/index.html

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The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has toned up nuclear force rhetoric as a U.N. Security Council resolution passed tougher sanctions after Pyongyang’s latest missile test in September.

Renewing the DPRK’s commitment to becoming a “state nuclear force,” the sanctions are “futile” and will “lead to their final doom,” said the country’s state news agency KCNA Sunday, referring to the U.S. and allies.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 2375 restricted the supply of fuel into the DPRK and imposed a ban on its textile imports. “The U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces are mistaken if they think that sanctions and pressure will keep (the DPRK) from attaining the goal of completing the state nuclear force,” said KCNA.

On Sept. 26, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang again at a White House news conference, saying that any U.S. military option would be “devastating” for North Koreans.

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi Jinping Saturday in Beijing, discussing efforts to curb the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions, Trump posted on Twitter that Tillerson “is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”

Tillerson told reporters during his visit to China that the U.S. is “probing” the DPRK to see if it is interested in dialogue.

“We ask: Would you like to talk? We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation,” stated Tillerson.

In an exclusive interview with teleSUR, former CIA agent John Kiriakou says that a South Korean general told him on condition of anonymity, that Seoul “believes the Chinese will urge all sides to go to the negotiating table.”

According to Kiriakou, the South Korean official “believes the U.S. is overreacting to the North Korean threat.”

Despite crescent belligerent rhetoric on all sides, Choe Son-hui, director general of the North American department at the DPRK foreign ministry, and one of its most prominent nuclear negotiators talked with top Russian diplomat Oleg Burmistrov in Moscow Friday.

Moscow and Pyongyang are ready to “find ways to solve regional problems through peaceful, political and diplomatic means,” said a statement from Russia’s foreign ministry after the meeting wrapped up, reported RT.

China and Russia have been trying for a long time to normalize tensions between the DPRK and the U.S., proposing a “double-freeze” plan in which Pyongyang suspends its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, in exchange for a halt in joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, an alternative firmly rejected by Washington.

“The most likely scenario that I see is that the Chinese will intervene to push the idea of diplomacy. This will lead to talks, either directly or indirectly, between Washington and Pyongyang,” says the former CIA agent.

“War in the region serves nobody. It will endanger South Korea and Japan, it will force the U.S. and China to the brink of conflict, and, of course, it could destroy North Korea,” points out Kiriakou, who doesn’t believe things will get worse.

“I don’t believe that President Trump’s saber-rattling is a ‘policy,'” says the whistleblower, who was detained for two years by the U.S. government for denouncing the secret CIA torture methods, according to him directly commanded by President George W. Bush.

“I think it is an uncoordinated action, off the cuff, that Trump did without consulting any of his advisors, including those in the Departments of State or Defense. Those advisors will now try to walk him back from the statements. They will likely ask the Chinese to engage to smooth the path,” Kiriakou adds.

He agrees with some analysts, that DPRK leader Kim Jong Un wants to stay in power, which is an argument against nuclear war.

“If war breaks out, whether it’s nuclear or conventional, there is no way that Kim Jong Un can survive. If war breaks out, and I think it is highly unlikely, the U.S. will not stop until the North Korean government is destroyed.”

The U.S. historian Peter Kuznick, a nuclear expert, says in an exclusive interview with teleSUR that while he doesn’t like seeing nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula, he understands why Kim Jong-un wants them.

“He feels he needs a credible deterrent against the United States in the wake of George W. Bush declaring North Korea to be part of the ‘axis of evil.'”

“He believes that otherwise, the U.S. will overthrow him. After what happened in Iraq and Libya, he’s got good reason to think that way,” Kuznick added.

Asked about the current risk of a nuclear confrontation, Kuznick differs from Kiriakou:

“The situation is very dangerous. This is the closest we’ve come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis, with the possible exception of the dangerous standoff between India and Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, another crisis that continues to fester, and it doesn’t look like Trump and Kim are capable of working this out.”

Kuznick takes into account recent history as a resource, especially the Cold War, to warn what may happen today.

“What Kennedy and Khrushchev learned during the Cuban Missile Crisis is that once a crisis develops, it quickly spins out of control.

“Despite the fact that both of them were trying desperately to avoid a nuclear war in 1962, they realized that they had lost control,” he says, “They moved after that to eliminate any conflict that might cause another crisis. That was Khrushchev’s initiative and Kennedy eventually responded.”

“Imagine what would be left of the world today if that was Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un confronting each other in October 1962, instead of Kennedy and Khrushchev.”

Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, is even more incisive in his comments to teleSUR:

“Who is the threat to world security? The United States is. Does any country threaten U.S. security? The answer is no.”

Kuznick also points out,

“The U.S. has created a new kind of empire undergirded by between 800 and 1,000 overseas military bases from which U.S. special forces operate in more than 130 countries each year.”

Chossudovsky reiterates that the

DPRK “lost 30 percent of its population from 1950 to 1953 as a consequence of U.S. bombings in the Korean peninsula, destroying every city and village, and 97 percent of the North Korean landscape. Every single family has lost their family members.”

“Since then, every year the U.S. and South Korea have conducted military exercises against North Korea. They decided to defend themselves as the U.S. is not a model society,” remarks the economist.

The U.S. nuclear expert says he doesn’t know what to expect from U.S.-DPRK tensions, pointing out only one solution, “an acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, as odious as that prospect might be.”

“There will have to be a peace treaty ending the Korean War. The U.S. will have to reduce its military presence and training exercises in South Korea and stop threatening regime change. It may have to also ease its sanctions.

“North Korea will have to halt its missile and nuclear weapons tests and freeze its programs. It will have to stop making threats. This is what we call the ‘freeze for freeze’ option. Something like that was in place between 1994 and 2002 and it was largely successful though neither side fully met its responsibilities. It can work again,” he concludes.

The historian based out in Washington also points out that

“Trump needs an external threat to justify his regime’s massive increase in military spending and unconscionable cuts to domestic programs and social spending.”

Recently the U.S. Senate passed a US$700 defense policy bill for 2018, as the WHO admonishes the country for “not having a universal health coverage.”

In the DPRK, some 99 percent of the population had access to sanitation, and 100 percent have access to water. According to World Health Organization’s Director-General Margaret Chan, the country had “no lack of doctors and nurses,” pointing out that local “health system is the envy of the developing world.”

According to UNESCO, Public Education in the DPRK is universal and fully funded by the state.

“Education in North Korea is free, compulsory, and universal for 11 years, from ages four to 15, in state-run schools. The national literacy rate for citizens 15 years of age and older is 99 percent,” reported the Library of Congress, Federal Research Division in July 2007.

Such facts evidence a contradiction in the Western concept of democracy, especially regarding the U.S., the only country in history which has ever dropped atomic bombs on populations.

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Major western media headlines in recent days have hailed the capture of major natural gas fields around Syria’s Deir Ez Zor province as though it were a victory for Syria. Typical headlines read, “SDF Recaptures Syria Gas Field From ISIS.” Note the word “recaptures,” implying that the original owners of the gas fields, the Syrian state, had managed to recapture its valuable economic resources from ISIS terrorists. In reality, the opposite is the case.

A Kurdish Syrian Defense Force (SDF) that is backed not by the Assad government of Damascus, but by the Pentagon and by the Israeli IDF and others hostile to the Baghdad government of Bashar al Assad, has just claimed control of major Syrian gas fields originally developed by the Houston, Texas Conoco Oil Company. The standard western media portrayal of the operation is along the lines of “U.S.-backed Syrian forces have seized a Conoco gas plant from Islamic State in the oil-rich Deir Ez zor area, depriving the militants from an important revenue source.”

Behind that portrayal is the ugly truth that US Pentagon forces have been exposed as the guiding hand for both the ISIS terror group and for the SDF. ISIS had occupied Dier Ez Zor province and its oil and gas fields since 2014, robbing the Assad government of one of its main sources of income and of energy.

On September 24, the Russian The Russian Ministry of Defense released aerial images showing US Army Special Forces equipment where ISIS militants are deployed north of the city of Deir ez-Zor. The pictures show US Army units providing free passage for the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), allowing them to pass through the battle formations of Islamic State terrorists, the Russian ministry said in a statement.

“Without resistance from ISIS militants, the SDF troops are moving along the left bank of the Euphrates river towards the town of Deir ez-Zor,” the statement reads.

The Moscow Defense Ministry statement goes further,

“Despite the strongholds of the US armed forces being located where ISIS troops are currently deployed, there are not even signs of the organization of a battle outpost.”

Obviously, the US military personnel in the middle of ISIS controlled territory feel absolutely safe in the area.

As Thierry Meyssan, Damascus-based French Middle East expert notes,

“In August, the Pentagon published a call for tender for the buying and transfer of 500 million weapons and ammunition, mainly ex-Soviet. The 200 first trucks were delivered to the YPG at Hasakah, on 11and 19 September, via Iraqi Kurdistan, without being attacked by the jihadists (ISIS-w.e.).”

This confirms that both the US-trained and armed Kurdish SDF forces and ISIS are US proxies used now interchangeably to secure strategic oil and gas regions of Syria near the border with Iraq, where the Iraqi Kurds under the feudal despot, the US and Israel-backed Massoud Barzani, just voted overwhelmingly, by a reported 92% margin, to declare an “independent” Iraqi Kurdistan, a move openly supported by Israel’s Netanjahu and behind-the-scene by Washington. Already in 2015 according to a report in the London Financial Times, Israel was importing as much as 77 percent of its oil supply from Barzani-controlled Iraqi “Kurdistan.”

Now the long-term Pentagon plan, first outlined in a 2006 US Armed Forces Journal piece, for a US-and-Israel-backed independent Kurdistan state carved out of territory of Iraq, Syria and even NATO-member Turkey and ultimately, Iran as well, is emerging into the sunlight. Until now it has largely been hidden in the darkness of more than six years of a US-sponsored and mainly Saudi-financed war to depose the legitimate elected government of Bashar al Assad, a prime obstacle to the planned balkanization of the region.

War against Terror or War with help of Terror?

The Pentagon lie that Washington has been fighting a war in Syria to destroy ISIS terrorists —a US aggression, by the way, illegal under international law as it is hostile invasion of a sovereign country against the UN Charter—is now fully exposed as just that, a lie. The Pentagon and CIA and its various killer-for-hire private mercenaries, as has been charged many times, created ISIS out of its Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria in an attempt to topple Assad and take control of strategic oil and gas reserves and pipeline routes. At stake is the energy future of not only Syria but potentially of the European Union and of Asia.

This is no spur-of-the-moment idea of General ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis’ Pentagon to use Syrian Kurds to gain control of key energy corridors in Syria after their other options failed. The plan goes back at least to a 2006 article published in the US Armed Forces Journal by Colonel Ralph Peters. There Peters outlined a plan for radical redrawing of the post-World War I borders of the entire Middle East. In his piece, Peters argues,

“A Free Kurdistan, stretching from Diyarbakir through Tabriz, would be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan.”

He goes on to claim,

“The most glaring injustice in the notoriously unjust lands between the Balkan Mountains and the Himalayas is the absence of an independent Kurdish state. There are between 27 million and 36 million Kurds living in contiguous regions in the Middle East.”

Peters even spoke of a probable independence referendum by the Iraqi Kurds in which “Nearly 100 percent of Iraq’s Kurds would vote for independence.” It just took place, and the Soviet-style results were 92%, with reports of severe intimidation of voters voting no from the Barzani clan thugs, as in “vote yes or else.” Barzani himself has amassed a fortune reported in several billions through corrupt practices he runs through family members. Since 2015 he has ruled as president with no legal mandate after the National Assembly demanded his departure.

This past summer before the Hamburg G20 summit, the US President announced he was cutting funding for the CIA and Pentagon war against jihadi terror in Syria and the Middle East. What now becomes clear is that instead of training what in fact were ISIS and other terrorists and sending them to battle Assad, a battle the Jihadi mercenaries were badly losing once Russia engaged in September, 2015, the US funds were being shifted to Kurdish military brigades of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

After Trump’s announcement, huge shipments of US-supplied weapons were sent to the Kurdish SDF, including heavy machine guns, mortars, anti-tank weapons, armored cars and engineering equipment. This past May Trump signed authorization to arm the Kurd SDF militias. By June some 348 trucks with military assistance had been passed to the group, the Turkish Anadolu news wire reported. According to the news agency’s data, the Pentagon’s list of weapons to be delivered to the group includes 12,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 6,000 machine guns, 3,000 grenade launchers and around 1,000 anti-tank weapons of Russian or US origin.

Now it’s clear those US arms shipments to the Kurd SDF forces was aimed at a new war against the Damascus Syrian Arab Army of Bashar al Assad, a war to prevent Assad’s troops from retaking their rich oil and gas lands around of Deir ez-Zor.

In early September the forces of Assad’s army, backed by Hezbollah and Russian air cover, finally broke a three-year ISIS siege of the vital city of Deir ez-Zor, the heart of Syrian oil and gas reserves. At the same time the US-backed and now heavily-US-armed Kurd SDF captured the rich gas fields north of Deir ez-Zor. US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (ISIS/IS/Daesh), Brett H. McGurk, met on August 18 with local tribal leaders who earlier had been apparently bribed to pledge allegiance to ISIS. Now they are reportedly following the money and changing to back the US Kurd SDF forces against the same Assad.

Most recently the US set up a former ISIS terror fighter, Ahmad Abu Khawla, to be commander of their newly-created Deir Ez Zor Military Council controlled by the US Special Forces. Abu Khawla is a convicted car thief, extortionist and all-round thug. From ISIS to SDF no matter, so long as the money flows.

But because of the recent success of the Syrian Arab Army and allied forces backed by Russian air power, the battle is turning into a direct US-Russia showdown, something in no way conducive to world peace. As repeatedly in their history, the Kurds of Syria and of Iraq are being played by the larger powers in the west for their own game: to totally control the vast energy resources of the entire Middle East and with it, of much of the world. Ultimately the game will fail, though not before senseless and inhuman slaughter continues to take its toll.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Featured image is from the author.

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The Catalan Chain Reaction

October 5th, 2017 by Andrew Korybko

Catalonia’s drive for “independence” has unleashed a chain reaction of viral social media support that’s frighteningly resurrected civil war-era rhetoric, but the most dangerous consequences of this domino effect are yet to come if the separatists are ultimately successful in their quest.

The Nostalgia Narrative

The Catalan “independence” cause has taken the world by storm, thrown into the global spotlight by the heavily publicized referendum earlier this week and Madrid’s forceful response to this unconstitutional measure. Supporters all across the world have been energized by the recent events and have taken to describing them in civil war-era terms as a battle between “democracy” and “fascism”. Furthermore, they also accuse the Rajoy government of being “Francoists”, as they do the country’s post-Franco 1978 Constitution which returned Catalonia’s autonomy in an even more robust way than before and even bestowed this privilege to the rest of the country as well.

Although it can be safely presumed that Spain naturally retained some of the “Francoist” members of its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) after the death of their movement’s eponymous leader, it’s an exaggeration to refer to the constitution and the present government as “Francoists” in the sense of what the term stereotypically implies. Rather, the improper use of such polarizing civil war-era terms demonstrates that the separatists are trying to capitalize on the revolutionary nostalgia that their domestic and foreign supporters have for reliving the 1936-1939 anarcho-communist experiment via a simulacrum, one which plays out differently depending on their audience.

Two Simulacra

As it relates to the Catalans themselves, this is meant to force them into the false binary choice between “standing with their ancestors against fascism” or “betraying their motherland for the Francoists”. Concerning the foreign supporters of the Catalan separatists, they’re supposed to get riled up and vent their hatred against Madrid and impassioned support for Barcelona all throughout social media, picking up on the cue that they should inaccurately compare modern-day Madrid to post-Maidan Kiev in making the Alt-Media argument that Catalonia has as much of a right to “independence” as Crimea does to its reunification with Russia.

This is a false equivocation, the full debunking of which isn’t the focus of this article however, as it’s important enough in this context to draw attention to the polemical chain reaction that’s being spun by the separatists and their supporters in crafting a self-interested narrative for serving their cause. There are many well-intentioned individuals who are standing behind Barcelona, so it’s not at all to infer that most of them don’t sincerely believe in this interpretation of events, but the point here is just to highlight how Catalonia’s “independence” crusade is exploiting historical memory and revolutionary nostalgia in order to advance its organizers’ argument that the region needs to split from Spain.

Spanish Scenarios

Centralized Crackdown:

While most people might be led to think that the Catalan Crisis is solely between Barcelona and Madrid, the fact is that it actually involves all of Spain and is poised to have geopolitical reverberations throughout the entirety of Europe. Concerning the politically unstable Iberian country, Catalonia’s separatist campaign already crossed the Rubicon of no return after the referendum and Madrid’s reaction to it, so there’s no going back to the previous status quo. This means that only three scenarios are probable: a centralized crackdown, Identity Federalism, and separatism. The first one could see the state implement Article 155 of the constitution in temporarily imposing direct rule over the region, though with the expected consequence being that it might catalyze a low-scale civil war if the Catalans resort to terrorist-insurgent tactics to resist.

Identity Federalism:

The next scenario is Identity Federalism, which would require the revocation or reform of Article 145 in devolving the centralized state into a federation or confederation of regions, each of which could theoretically function as quasi-independent statelets with their own economic, military, and foreign policies. Essentially, this would be the transplantation of the Bosnian model onto Spain, albeit with added privileges given to each constituent member. As with the centralized crackdown scenario, this is likely to lead to violence, and would probably only occur as a “compromise solution” to any prolonged conflict. Madrid does not want to lose control of the country and see the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe “Balkanized” like its namesake counterpart in Southeastern Europe, which is why this outcome probably wouldn’t ever happen in peacetime.

Secessionism:

Finally, the last possibility for how the Catalan Crisis could play out is that the restive region becomes “independent” from Spain and is recognized by at least one country or more, which in all likelihood might end up being some of the Baltic and/or Balkan states before anyone else. Spain wouldn’t be able to survive in its present administrative-political format with the loss of roughly 20% of its GDP, so the rump state would either have to be radically reformed, undergo a “stabilizing” military coup, or fully collapse in a collection of “countries” just like the former Yugoslavia did a generation ago. As for Catalonia, it could become a base for foreign (NATO/Western/American) intervention into what might then descend into a multisided civil war. A weakened Spain or its remnants also wouldn’t be able to defend from an African-originating “Weapons of Mass Migration” tidal wave into Europe, either.

Geopolitical Chain Reactions

Forecasting is never an exact science, but it is indeed an art, and with that being said, there’s no guarantee that any of the aforementioned scenarios will play out, though if they do, they’ll inevitably have very serious geopolitical ramifications which could end up sparking a chain reaction throughout the region and beyond. The centralized crackdown might lead to a civil war that could either be contained to Catalonia or come to engulf other traditionally sovereign-minded areas such as Basque Country or Galicia too, to say nothing of the rest of the country in general. That said, and accepting that the consequences would inevitably spread to at least Portugal and France as well with time, this sequence of events isn’t what’s the most continentally explosive, as it’s the scenarios of Identity Federalism and “independence” that are the most dangerous.

The “Catalan Countries”:

Before going any further, both of these would guarantee that the Catalan Crisis becomes an existential one for Spain. The nominal Kingdom can’t devolve into a federation without changing the constitution, and even if this unlikely event were to happen, then Catalonia might seek to rearrange the country’s internal boundaries in a nationalist bid to gobble up the territory that its most jingoistic supporters claim as constituting the “Catalan countries”. This ultra-extreme concept holds that the modern-day borders of Catalonia don’t represent the historic geo-cultural space of the Catalan people, so they therefore need to be expanded to include all or some of the Spanish regions of Aragon, the Balearic Islands, and Valencia, as well as the country of Andorra and the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales (also known as “Roussillon” or “Northern/French Catalonia”).

Most of the people in these areas don’t want to be part of a “Greater Catalonia”, but the hyper-nationalists in charge of the Identity Federalized or “independent” state might resort to subterfuge or force in pressing their claims, even if they don’t do so right away. The concept of the “Catalan countries” is therefore a very dangerous one because it means that the Catalonia issue will inevitably have pronounced internal geopolitical consequences for Spain and also possibly even France as well if the separatists in control of Barcelona right now eventually get their way. Again, the Identity Federalism scenario would likely only result from a war brought about by a centralized crackdown, and would represent a (temporary) “compromise solution” to outright separatism, though with the latent dangers that would come from the latter with time.

Regional Copycats:

Whether it’s Identity Federalism or separatism, either of these outcomes could encourage regional copycats all throughout the EU. The UK “Independent” published a very misleading map just the other day claiming to have pinpointed all of the other Catalan-like political movements in Europe, obviously inferring that they could be next if the Barcelonan separatists are successful. The salient point being made here isn’t that each and every one of them will rise up in Color Revolution-esque fervor just like the Catalans did, but that some of them will undoubtedly be inspired to push forth with their agenda in fracturing their home countries and contributing to the “regionalization of Europe”. Other than the Spanish examples mentioned in the map, this could also see a chain reaction occurring in Scotland, Northern Italy, Germany’s Bavaria, and maybe even parts of France too.

European regions allegedly seeking independence from the host states.

The Hungarian minority that’s been living outside of their nation-state ever since the 1920 Treaty of Trianon might agitate for reunification with their homeland, which could destabilize the politically tenuous situation in Central Europe and the Balkans. It could also make Prime Minister Orban, if he’s still serving by that time, an easy target for liberal-leftist Mainstream Media attacks that he’s the “New Hitler” for wanting to reunify with his compatriots abroad. All that these regional copycats would have to do, regardless of the validity behind their claims and socio-political movements, is to organize highly publicized unconstitutional referenda in order to provoke the state into a forceful response that could in turn “legitimize” a Color Revolution in the said peripheral region. The result doesn’t necessarily have to be separatism, but Identity Federalism, as this end is essentially the same in the structural sense.

“Euro-Federalism”:

The devolution of once-unified states into identity-“federalized” ones de-facto internally partitioned along ethno-regional lines would interestingly promote the cause of “Euro-Federalism” that Gearóid Ó Colmáin described in his latest article titled “Catalan ‘independence’: a tool of capital against labour”. His work builds upon the 1992 proposal by billionaire Europhile Freddy Heineken to “federalize” Europe along regional lines, which was likely the unstated inspiration behind Belgian bureaucrat-academic Luk Van Langenhove’s 2008 policy suggestion urging “Power To The Regions, But Not Yet Farewell To The Nation State”. The bigger picture here is quintessentially one of divide and rule, albeit modified for the EU’s post-Brexit conditions.

The author himself spoke about this in a different context in his summer 2016 article for The Duran about the “Post-Brexit EU: Between Regional Breakdown and Full-Blown Dictatorship”, in which it was postulated that the bloc might devolve into regionally focused state-driven organizations in the future. What’s happening instead is that Brussels might be preparing for a further devolution beyond the member states themselves and to the individual regions within (and sometimes, even between) them. This represents a modification of what the author wrote in his earlier work titled “Identity Federalism: From “E Pluribus Unum” To “E Unum Pluribus”, which appears at this moment to have incorrectly concluded that the EU wouldn’t go forward with this scenario out of fear that it could invite more “Weapons of Mass Migration” from the Global South (in the Spanish case, from Northern and Western Africa), as well as create geostrategic opportunities for Russia and China.

 Standing corrected with the wisdom of hindsight and in light of recent events, especially the insight that the author acquired through his research on Civilizational Aggression, it now seems as though the very same scenario of the EU collapsing into a constellation of regional entities is being partially experimented with by none other than  Brussels itself as the ultimate divide-and-rule stratagem for controlling the bloc in the post-Brexit era. This doesn’t mean that the process will be taken to its extreme –so long as it’s still “controllable” – but just that the EU does indeed seem to be tinkering with this as part of its phased adaptive approach to the emerging Multipolar World Order.

Concluding Thoughts

Catalonia is globally significant because of the chain reaction that its separatists have started in furthering the scenario of a “controlled” devolution-collapse of the EU’s existing member-state order into a more “flexible” hybrid one of politically equal national and regional entities. If Catalonia serves as a successful example, whether in the Identity Federalized or separatist instances, then it could have a powerful demonstration effect elsewhere in the EU by encouraging other copycat movements, thereby redirecting what might have otherwise been semi-multipolar forces into the false allure of “independence” within a de-facto strengthened EU and even NATO.

This is very possible because the Catalan precedent would clearly indicate that no EU member state’s territorial integrity and constitution are safe from the globalist desires of a separatist Color Revolutionary and possibly even Hybrid War vanguard, thereby dealing a heavy blow to the right-wing “sovereignists” (publicly smeared as “nationalists” in the Mainstream Media) who are coming to the fore of European politics nowadays. After all, the so-called “Catalan Question” was supposed to have been settled by the 1978 Constitution that gave the region an even more robust autonomy than it had ever enjoyed before in history, so if this can be reversed, then Pandora’s Box has truly been reopened all across the EU.

Another point to dwell upon is the viralness with which the Catalan separatist cause spread through global Mainstream and Alternative Medias, as this provides crucial insight into how other movements might attain such tremendous soft power in such a short time in the future. It helps if they’re tourist destinations where lots of foreigners have visited and acquired an affinity for the local culture and environs, as well as if there’s a civil war- or other conflict-era history (no matter how distant, decontextualized, and/or irrelevant to the present) that could be spun to “legitimize” the said “federalist”-separatist cause.

Altogether, the Catalan case study in all of its dimensions is very instructive in demonstrating how the declining Unipolar World Order is seeking to adapt to multipolarity, and its state of affairs at any given time provides a decent barometer for gauging the dynamics of this process.

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

All images in this article are from the author.

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Conservatives: Overestimating their Popularity

“For a Germany in which we live well and happily.” Maybe it was just this less than catchy campaign slogan that cost Angela Merkels conservative CDU so dearly at the polls; leaving the party at a record low of 26.8 per cent of the total vote. What is more likely, though, is that the slogan was better at revealing chancellor Merkel’s state of mind – something like: A Germany that should be happy that I govern it so well – than capturing the mood of many of her erstwhile supporters. The conservatives had little sense that terrorism and refugee hysteria were much more than media spectacles. The hysteria indicates how much the so-glad-it’s-not-as-bad-as-elsewhere mood that helped to elect Merkel in the aftermath of the Great Recession and after the Euro-crisis had given way to a much more pessimistic Zeitgeist. Locked into the corridors of power, Merkel and her party underestimated the shift from positive to negative outlooks amongst significant parts of the electorate.

Social Democrats: Stumbling over the equity-employment trade off

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) failed doing the splits. One foot, notably at the beginning of Martin Schulze’s campaign, moved toward genuine social democratic policies. The reward: A massive surge in the polls and party membership. Yet, while the campaign went on, the other foot moved toward the embrace of the social counter-reforms that, in the early 2000s, former chancellor Gerhard Schröder forced through party and parliament at the cost of losing the left wing of the SPD, which merged with the then existing Party of Democratic Socialism into Die Linke. For years, corporate media and Merkel praised the Schröder-cuts as trigger of an employment boom. In fact, Merkel won the last two elections resolutely by propagating the view that Germany had found the magic formula to prosperity while the rest of the world went bust. Crediting Schröder rather than herself as originator of this formula gave her an aura of modesty in a political world mostly inhabited by bullies and big mouths. And, of course, it was a constant reminder to social democratic supporters, who are usually more concerned with social justice than conservatives, that it was ‘their’ chancellor who cut the German welfare state to size.

The SPD tried twice to cash in on their alleged role in boosting employment. They failed twice and decided to have it both ways this time: Advocating social justice and taking credit for advancing employment at the price of escalating inequality. Voters, proving that they are much smarter than politicians usually think they are, figured that this was a contradicto in adjecto. Some among them may also have had doubts whether a trade off between equality and employment exists in the first place. Whatever issues voters had with the SPD, their electoral results went from bad to worse, reaching, like the CDU, an all-time low of 20.5 per cent.

Die Linke: Unable to capitalize on widespread tastes for welfare state policies

Die Linke is puzzling. Founded as a merger of left-wing social democrats who defected from Schröder’s Third Way SPD and the PDS, which came out of East Germany’s former ruling Socialist Unity Party, Die Linke had social justice written on its birth certificate. It furthers constant debate around the question how social justice could be realized in a world of class struggle from above and economic stagnation. These debates deliver a plethora of facts and arguments to hammer out election campaigns. One of its frontrunners, Sarah Wagenknecht, routinely deconstructed neoliberal mythologies about the welfare state and union triggered crises and developed alternative policies out of the rubble of these mythologies. This ability made her something like a media darling. But neither Wagenknecht’s media presence nor the endless hours party activists spent on the campaign trail helped to translate the widespread taste for social justice, time and again revealed in opinion polls, into rising support for Die Linke.

Die Linke: Foreigners Welcome

When the SPD candidate Schulz hinted at a social democratic turn early in his campaign, SPD ratings shot up. When these hints turned out as fake news, SPD ratings collapsed but it still wasn’t Die Linke that benefited from the widespread taste for social democratic policies that the SPD couldn’t satisfy. Compared to the last elections, Die Linke’s share of the total vote improved by a meagre 0.9% to 9.2 per cent.

The Greens: From greening the old left to elitist lifestyle policies

The Greens share Die Linke’s inability to capitalize on widespread discontent. However, the difference between the two is that Die Linke aims at turning discontent with economic and social conditions into a social force that could change these conditions. The Greens, once a vanguard of greening old left agendas, would be content to attract voters from governing parties to increase their electoral market share within largely unchanged conditions. As a social force, they mostly represent a saturated middle class engaging in greened conspicuous consumption to distinguish itself from the cheap-deal chasing classes. Locked into self-chosen exclusivity, they have a hard time gaining shares in mass democratic voter markets. But this doesn’t mean that they are locked out from the corridors of power. At the time of writing, it seems that 8.9% of the total vote suffice as entry ticket to a coalition government with the conservatives and the liberal FDP.

The Greens emerged at the tail end of the rebellious 1970s as an attempt to transform the still existing zeal of the new social movements into an institutional presence against the rising tide of neoliberalism. The new social movements, to be sure, were triggered by insufficiencies of the old left. Tragically, efforts to green the old red agenda failed inside the movements and the Green party also. This opened the door for their transformation into a rather elitist middle-class party. A position it shares with the liberal FDP.

Liberals: Organize opportunism embraces economic nationalism

After WWII, this party of organized opportunism gave democratic cover to some old Nazis, though most of them joined the conservatives, and free traders. This strange mix was only possible under Cold War conditions. When policies of détente softened these conditions and the 68 Rebellion signaled the coming of a new world, the FDP shed its Nazis and reinvented itself as a party of social liberalism and became a coalition partner of the SPD in the late 1960s. In the 1950s and into the early 1960s, the still Nazi-enriched liberals had been loyal to the equally Nazi-staffed conservatives. The late 1960s social liberal incarnation of the FDP didn’t last long; it had barely begun when a combination of economic crises and various social movements represented a double threat to profit rates. Under those conditions, the social democratic left failed to forge a bloc with unions and other social movements that would have pushed the entire party from the post-WWII class compromise to a socialist reformism consciously deepening the crisis of profitability to further socialist transformation. Yet, efforts to do so were enough for the liberals to renew their alliance with the conservatives. Being a catchall party with support from farmers, the petty bourgeoisie and even layers of the working class, the conservatives were slow and hesitant to embrace the neoliberal creed capitalists adopted in response to the crisis of profitability.

The liberals with a smaller support base less reliant on the social layers supporting the conservatives became the vanguard of neoliberalism in Germany. They were so true to their principles that eventually many of its long-time supporters realized that they had long denied stakes in the welfare state and that future doses of neoliberal policies might kill these stakes. As a result, the FDP failed to pass the 5% mark necessary to gain seats in parliament in the 2013 elections but, scoring 10.7% of the vote, had quite a comeback this time around. The liberals had refined their neoliberal commitments, inextricably linked to free trade in the past, by calling upon the state to secure the gains from international economic activity for German citizens. In a time of economic instability and stagnation where even many middle-class people fear they might fall behind, this economic nationalism has more voter appeal than the unrepentant free trade commitments of the pre-Great Recession and pre-Euro-crisis years.

Far right AfD: Neoliberalism wrapped in Deutschland über alles

Even more successful than liberals at rebranding as economic nationalists was the far right AfD by wrapping its programmatic commitment to neoliberal counter-reforms into thick layers of racism, Islamophobia and, more recently, anti-Semitism supplemented with praise for Germany’s Nazi-past. This brew allowed the AfD to increase its vote share by 7.9%, a little more than the losses suffered by the conservatives, to 12.6 per cent. All other parties campaigned in an ideological field demarcated by neoliberal economics, by conjuring up its past glory, like the conservatives, amending it with touches of social justice, green or assertive foreign policies, like the social democrats, Greens and liberals respectively, or by advocating for the transformation of the neoliberal order into a new kind of welfare state or even a socialist order, like Die Linke. The AfD abandoned the economic field entirely and moved on to politically greener, or maybe browner, fields of race and nation. In a softer version these are presented as culturally inherited identities, in a hard-core version they are biologically determined. Deutschland über alles is the key message in both versions.

Fear Takes Centre Stage

All other parties consider the AfD as a threat to democracy and social cohesion in Germany. To be sure, most parts of the Bavarian CSU and parts of the CDU understand this threat as some other party, the AfD, occupying an ideological field they had reserved for themselves in the past even though they made less noise about it than the AfD. Apart from this qualification, the shock about the AfD’s rise is genuine but pretty helpless, too. Expressions of this shock adopt the far right agenda so that the AfD’s preferred scapegoats – refugees – have taken centre stage in political discourse while they are marginalized economically and socially. Other parties don’t share the AfD’s message, at least not as blatantly as the AfD puts it forward. They may even oppose it. But by focusing so much on refugees they contribute to the shift in discourse from economics to race and nation. Sure enough, many people who feel the pinch of economic insecurity see refugees as unwanted competitors for jobs or welfare provisions. This economic rationale would actually be open to debates seeking policies to reconcile domestic concerns about job and income security with refugee concerns about – exactly the same issues. This is what Die Linke tried. Occasionally, Wagenknecht added a dose of anti-refugee sentiment to her economic messaging while other parts of the party came to a moral defense of refugees that put the left classic argument that capitalism is based on a scarcity of jobs on hold as far as refugees were concerned. For most parts of the election campaign, though, Die Linke managed to present refugees as a particularly vulnerable part of a working class undergoing massive transformations.

The recomposition of the working class in Germany, as elsewhere, certainly has something to do with the influx of refugees and immigrants. But it also has to do, in quantitative terms probably more so, with outsourcing, privatizations, relocation of operations and automation. Combined with pressures on wages, the lowering of social standards and public service cuts this recomposition leads to massive insecurities. They are particularly hard felt, though to different degree by different layers of the working class, because long established forms of representation, through unions, parties, civil society organization and the media were thrown into crises by waves of economic restructuring. A decline of membership in unions and civil society organizations, increasing volatility in the electoral system, most recently illustrated by the fall and rebound of the FDP and the rise of the AfD, and the social media spectacle testify to this crisis of representation. This crisis renders frames through which workers and layers of the middle class could make sense of their respective economic and social conditions obsolete. As a result, objectively existing and increasing insecurities are perceived as unintelligible threats. Fear reigns supreme and eclipses reason. The new German angst is projected onto refugees and immigrants. Arriving at a time of present-day insecurities and dismal outlooks onto the future, foreigners who run for their lives or look for a brighter future unleash the ghosts of history amongst wide swaths of the German population. The conservatives were still living in the recent past when Germany looked like an island of stability in a sea of economic turmoil. Pointing at high levels of employment and balanced budgets, they were quiet about increasing inequalities and insecurities. Yet, these are important concerns for growing numbers of people.

Tragically, thinking about economic and social issues is still dominated by the neoliberal imperatives of competitiveness, deregulation and balanced budgets. Alternative ways of economic thinking that can explain growing inequality and insecurity as outcomes of neoliberal policies, thereby articulate growing discontents and rally for policy alternatives, remain in the shadow of the neoliberal populism that dominates public debates for decades. Die Linke tried hard to strike a different economic chord but it either wasn’t heard or didn’t resonate. Economic reasoning and neoliberalism, even if, or maybe because, it is more of a religion than reasoning, are widely seen as one and the same. This is not only true for 99% of economic professors, 90% of politicians but also the vast majority of the population. Consequently, people finding themselves at the losing end of neoliberalism often express their discontent in non-economic terms. That’s why the AfD’s wrapping their own brand of neoliberalism in a diversity of chauvinistic identity covers was so successful. Finding a different economic language that the discontented can understand and clearly distinguish from the neoliberal creed is possibly the key challenge for Die Linke and the left outside the party to counter the pull to the right that currently dominates politics in Germany.

Ingo Schmidt teaches Labour Studies at Athabasca University and is one of the organizers of the annual World Peace Forum teach-ins in Vancouver. His latest books are The Three Worlds of Social DemocracyReading ‘Capital’ Today (with Carlo Fanelli) and [email protected], Russian [email protected] (in German).

All images in this article are from the author except the featured.

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Israeli forces demolished the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Naqab (Negev) region of southern Israel on Tuesday for the 119th time since 2010, Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency reported.

Aziz al-Turi, a local activist, told Wafa that Israeli bulldozers accompanied by Israeli police forces raided the village and demolished its makeshift homes “without any consideration for their residents, and despite of the bad weather conditions,” the report said.

“The (Israeli) police is always trying to provoke us … The demolitions will not frighten us and will not deter us from rebuilding our homes,” he was quoted as saying.

An Israeli court ruled last month that six residents of al-Araqib must pay 262,000 shekels (more than $72,000) for previous demolition costs, in addition to 100,000 shekels ($27,693) to cover the costs of the state’s lawyer. It was only the latest payment in which the village has had to compensate Israel for its routine demolitions in the village.

According to al-Araqib residents, before the latest court ruling, the village was ordered to pay more than two million shekels (approximately $541,000) for the cumulative cost of Israeli-enforced demolitions carried out against the village since 2010.

Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Bedouins in the Negev reside in unrecognized villages.

The unrecognized Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the state of Israel.

Many of the Bedouins were forcibly transferred to the village sites during the 17-year period when Palestinians inside Israel were governed under Israeli military law, which ended shortly before Israel’s military takeover of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967.

Now more than 60 years later, the villages have yet to be recognized by Israel and live under constant threats of demolition and forcible removal.

Right groups say that the demolition of unrecognized Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.

Featured image is from Human Rights Watch.

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This latest mass shooting in Las Vegas that left more than 50 people dead and more than 500 injured is as obscure as they come: a 64-year-old retiree with no apparent criminal history, no military training, and no obvious axe to grind opens fire on a country music concert crowd from a hotel room 32 floors up using a semi-automatic gun that may have been rigged to fire up to 700 rounds a minute, then kills himself.

We’re left with more questions than answers, none of them a flattering reflection of the nation’s values, political priorities, or the manner in which the military-industrial complex continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives.

For starters, why do these mass shootings keep happening? Mass shootings have taken place at churches, in nightclubs, on college campuses, on military bases, in elementary schools, in government offices, and at concerts. This shooting is the deadliest to date.

What is it about America that makes violence our nation’s calling card?

Is it because America is a gun culture?

Is it because guns are so readily available? After all, the U.S. is home to more firearms than adults. Curiously enough, the majority of gun-related deaths in the U.S. are suicides, not homicides.

Is it because entertainment violence is the hottest selling ticket at the box office?

Is it because the government continues to whet the nation’s appetite for violence and war through paid propaganda programs (seeded throughout sports entertainment, Hollywood blockbusters and video games)—what professor Roger Stahl refers to as “militainment”—that glorify the military and serve as recruiting tools for America’s expanding military empire?

Is it because the United States is the number one consumer, exporter and perpetrator of violence and violent weapons in the world? America spends more money on war than other countries. America polices the globe, with 800 military bases and troops stationed in 160 countries. And the war hawks have turned the American homeland into a quasi-battlefield with military gear, weapons and tactics. In turn, domestic police forces have become roving extensions of the military—a standing army.

Or is the Second Amendment to blame, as many continue to suggest? Would there be fewer mass shootings if tighter gun control laws were enacted?

Then again, could it be, as some have speculated, that these shootings are all part of an elaborate plan to incite fear and chaos, heighten national tensions and shift us that much closer to a complete lockdown? After all, the military and our militarized police forces have been predicting and preparing for exactly this kind of scenario for years now.

Perhaps there’s no single one factor to blame for this gun violence. However, there is a common denominator, and that is a war-drenched, violence-imbued, profit-driven military industrial complex that has invaded almost every aspect of our lives.

Ask yourself: Who are these shooters modelling themselves after? Where are they finding the inspiration for their weaponry and tactics? Whose stance and techniques are they mirroring?

In almost every instance, you can connect the dots back to the military.

We are a military culture.

We have been a nation at war for most of our existence.

We are a nation that makes a living from killing through defense contracts, weapons manufacturing and endless wars.

In order to sustain the nation’s appetite for war over the long haul in spite of the costs of war in lives lost and dollars spent—and little else to show for it—the military has had to work overtime to churn out pro-war, pro-military propaganda. It’s exactly what President Eisenhower warned against (“the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex”) in his 1961 farewell address.

We didn’t listen then and we’re still not listening now.

All the while, the government’s war propaganda machine has grown more sophisticated and entrenched in American culture.

All of the military equipment featured in blockbuster movies such as X-Men and Transformers is provided—at taxpayer expense—in exchange for carefully placed promotional spots aimed at indoctrinating the American populace into believing that patriotism means throwing their support behind the military wholeheartedly and unquestioningly.

Even reality TV shows have gotten in on the gig.

It’s estimated that U.S. military intelligence agencies (including the NSA) have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows.

And then there are the growing number of video games, a number of which are engineered by or created for the military, which have accustomed players to interactive war play through military simulations and first-person shooter scenarios.

This is how you acclimate a population to war.

This is how you cultivate loyalty to a war machine.

Not satisfied with peddling its war propaganda through Hollywood, reality TV shows and embedded journalists whose reports came across as glorified promotional ads for the military, the Pentagon turned to sports to further advance its agenda, “tying the symbols of sports with the symbols of war.”

The military has been firmly entrenched in the nation’s sports spectacles ever since.

Remember, just before this Vegas shooting gave the media, the politicians and the easily distracted public something new to obsess over, the headlines were dominated by President Trump’s feud with the NFL over players kneeling during the national anthem.

That, too, was yet another example of how much the military entertainment complex—which paid $53 million of taxpayer money between 2012 and 2015 to pro sports teams for military tributes—has infiltrated American culture.

Are you starting to get the picture now?

When you talk about the Las Vegas mass shooting, you’re not dealing with a single shooter scenario. Rather, you’re dealing with a sophisticated, far-reaching war machine that has woven itself into the very fabric of this nation.

You want to stop the gun violence?

Stop the worship of violence that permeates our culture.

Stop glorifying the military industrial complex with flyovers and salutes during sports spectacles.

Stop acting as if there is anything patriotic about military exercises and occupations that bomb hospitals and schools.

Stop treating guns and war as entertainment fodder in movies, music, video games, toys, amusement parks, reality TV and more.

Stop distribution weapons of war to the local police and turning them into extensions of the military—weapons that have no business being anywhere but on a battlefield.

Most of all, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, stop falling for the military industrial complex’s psychological war games.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

Featured image is from The Advocate.

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Featured image: Opposition leader Kem Sokha

The Cambodian opposition is urging the government to release their jailed leader.

Opposition leader Kem Sokha’arrest in early September was due to leaked recordings from 2013 which allege that he was cooperating with US experts in a bid to seize power. The government says that he was fomenting a Color Revolution, while his supporters say that it’s normal in today’s world for political parties to seek a broad array of international advisory support before elections. It’s not clear whether the experts that Sokha was meeting with were intelligence agents or not, but any forthcoming information about these mysterious individuals’ intentions, the quality of their so-called advice, and their effective capabilities will help shed light on what was really going on.

In any case, the scandalous arrest has thrown the Cambodian National Rescue Party opposition into disorder because the law stipulates that no political party can be led by anyone who’s facing criminal charges, which means that they must either appoint someone else to take over the group or risk getting shut down and barred from participating in next year’s elections, which some observers predict might be neck-and-neck. It’s for this reason why the opposition and their international supporters have accused long-running Cambodian leader Hun Sen of framing Sokha in order to destroy the opposition and ensure the continuation of his rule.

As it always is whenever the US is implicated in a regime change plot, the matter isn’t as black and white as Washington and its partners are trying to portray it as. All domestic political factors aside, Cambodia is very strategically important nowadays because of its geographic location and relationship with China. President Hun Sen is one of Beijing’s closest partners, both in the diplomatic sense in terms of vetoing any hostile anti-Chinese motions by ASEAN and also in the economic one when it comes to Beijing’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity via forthcoming overland rail transit through Laos and current maritime accessibility through the Gulf of Thailand. From an American “zero-sum” perspective, Cambodia is seen as China’s “Trojan Horse” in Southeast Asia, and this is why President Hun Sen is being targeted for removal.

That said, the US is cautious about how much pressure it puts on him because it doesn’t want to instigate a regional crisis, or at least not at this point. Cambodia is also slated to play a crucial role in the joint Indo-Japanese “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor”, also known as the “Freedom Corridor”, because it’s a transit state along the Southern and Southern Coastal Corridors between Myanmar’s Japanese-invested Special Economic Zone port of Dawei in the Bay of Bengal and southern Vietnamese ports along the South China Sea. Although there’s also a Central Corridor connectivity route being planned, that would have to pass through the northeast Thai region of Isan, which might become a hotbed of the “Red Shirt’s” anti-junta unrest in the future.

Cambodia is therefore a safe bet for ensuring the strategic security of the Indo-Japanese initiative across mainland ASEAN, but only if they were confident that China couldn’t leverage its clout over President Hun Sen to influence their transport corridors, hence why they want him out. However, one interesting fact to keep in mind is that the opposition is more nationalist than the ruling party, and it has a long history of rallying its supporters against what it says is the government “selling out” their country’s interests to its neighbors. What this means is that the Cambodian National Rescue Party might inadvertently pose more of a strategic risk to the “Freedom Corridor” than President Hun Sen ever could, especially if it catalyzes a chain reaction of regional destabilization by trying to violently seize power in a Color Revolution coup.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Sep 29, 2017:

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

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Selected Articles: The Las Vegas Shooting

October 4th, 2017 by Global Research News

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Another Mass Shooting, Another Grab for Guns: 6 Gun Facts

By Tony Cartalucci, October 03, 2017

Nothing is more deplorable than hijacking human tragedy to push an unrelated political agenda. A mass murderer taking the lives of some 60 people in Las Vegas this week has nothing to do with the majority of lawful firearms owners in the United States who aren’t and have no intention of ever killing another human being.

What’s in a Word? Terrorism in Las Vegas

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, October 03, 2017

Killing and massacres are a terrible thing, but if done under the protection of the Second Amendment, it must surely lack the alien properties of foreign violence. One is killing behind the cloak of the law. If only the man from Mesquite had been a Muslim, then things would have been so much easier.

Slaughter in Las Vegas

By Stephen Lendman, October 03, 2017

ISIS claiming responsibility for the Las Vegas shootings is meaningless. America supports the terrorist group. Why would it bite the hand feeding it!

Another Day, Another U.S. Mass Shooting

By Moon of Alabama, October 04, 2017

The state of Nevada allows about anyone to buy and own automatic rifles. With one pull of the trigger one can fire off a full 30 round magazine within a few seconds.  The use of such machine guns leave the victims in an attack like this no time to escape. With a bit of training, a change of magazines takes less than five seconds. The man must have had more than a thousand rounds to cause such a number of casualties.

The Social Pathology of the Las Vegas Massacre

By Patrick Martin, October 04, 2017

Paddock could lay down a field of fire on a military scale, nearly 100 rounds per minute. He was found in possession of about 20 weapons, many of them high-powered semi-automatics, along with additional ammunition. The first minutes of gunfire triggered a smoke alarm that allowed police to locate Paddock far more quickly than through a search of the huge 3,300-room hotel, a fact that suggests that the toll of death and injury could have been much higher.

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Featured Image: Infamous Kurdish terrorist, “Abu Aisha Al-Kurdi”, carried out a suicide bombing vs. #Iraq‘s army west of Makhmur. Credit Haidar Sumeri on Twitter.

After six years of death and destruction which resulted from a carefully calculated and executed invasion and staged war against the sovereign country of Syria, a sense of normalcy is returning to most parts of the country. Many civilians have returned to their homes in government-held areas, and are living as normal a life as possible, given the fact that they are still under the threat of attack by one of the many terrorist factions embedded in the country.

Although the Syrian government and people in every sector are trying to repair and rebuild what the West and their allies have destroyed, the fact remains that Syria is still involved in an ongoing, internationally imported, and unjustly imposed war. 

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In a last-ditch effort to continue the war in Syria and destroy all of the progress that has been made to return stability to the country, the United States is combining its ‘on the ground’ terrorist proxies to create a formidable force against the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. Testimonies, pictures, investigations, and confessions have all brought to light a claim that cooperation between the SDF and other terrorist factions exists in Syria, which has been previously stated by myself and others that are following the Syrian conflict closely. Although reputable sources have proven that these unorthodox partnerships exist, these statements have been mostly ignored by the international community. In previous articles, I have brought attention to these alliances, here is one such article.

The Kurdish link to Daesh (ISIS) is one of importance and worthy of conversation. Kurdish alliances with armed terrorist groups in Syria – particularly Daesh – are very telling signs as to what extremes separatist Kurdish militias such as the YPG and PKK will go in order to bring their ideological manifestation of an independent, autonomous Kurdistan into existence within the borders of the sovereign country of Syria. These collaborations are also a clear indication that the US is willing to make unorthodox alliances if it translates to continuous instability and division in the region.

The SDF is mostly comprised of the Kurdish YPG militia, which unanimously declared the “federalization” of what they call “Rojava,” or “Western Kurdistan,” in March 2016. The leaders of the SDF announced that they’ll try to annex the majority-Arab city of Raqqa if they manage to liberate it. In June of 2017, the Kurds were actively involved in ethnically cleansing Arabs from Raqqa en masse in order to pave the way for the city’s annexation to their unilaterally declared “Federation” after its forthcoming capture.

SDF working with Daesh

The most evident contradiction to the supposed Kurdish Independence “Revolution” to be noted is that the Kurds in the SDF are working with the U.S. through its so-called “Operation Inherent Resolve,” which is the official name for its anti-Daesh operations. But at the same time, the U.S.-led coalition, including Kurdish armed units, lets “militants of the Islamic State terrorist group leave Raqqa instead of killing them,” according to Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russia’s force grouping in Syria.

“Instead of eliminating terrorists guilty of killing hundreds and thousands of Syrian civilians, the U.S.-led coalition together with the (Syrian) Democratic Forces enters into collusion with ringleaders of ISIL, who give up the settlements they had seized without fighting and head to the provinces where the Syrian government forces are active,” he said.

Sputnik Arabic was able to talk to Husma Shaib, a Syrian expert on armed groups in Syria who explained why the SDF is comparable to the al-Nusra Front and what the actual aim of their operations in Syria is.

The loosely-knit coalition of Syrian rebel groups, including Kurdish factions, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are armed, trained and backed by the U.S.

“In Syria, we regard these forces as unlawful military formations which operate outside of the legal environment. They are the same as terrorist units like al-Nusra Front and Daesh. The Syrian Democratic Forces do not coordinate their activities with the Syrian Army. We regard them as terrorists,” Shaib told Sputnik.

The leaders of the SDF announced that they’ll try to annex the majority-Arab city of Raqqa if they manage to liberate it. The Kurds are ethnically cleansing Arabs from Raqqa en masse in order to pave the way for the city’s annexation to their unilaterally declared “Federation” after its forthcoming capture.

More recent examples of collaborations between the Kurdish led SDF and Daesh have been reported by multiple sources. Two such examples are listed below.

Almasdar News reported on September 26th, 2017:

A video has just been released on social media showing the interview of an ISIS fighter from Deir Ezzor who admits that the terrorist group’s forces in the region are forbidden by their commanders from attacking US-backed, Kurdish-led militias.The interviewee, Mohammed Moussa al-Shawwakh, says that his group, tasked with defending the area around the Conoco Gas Fields, was ordered to allow Kurdish forces to enter the strategic site. The order, he says, came from a top regional emir (leader) called Abu Zaid.The ISIS fighter’s confession goes on to mention that Kurdish-led forces were also allowed to enter other gas and oil fields in the region in order to make propaganda videos.

Mohammed finishes the interview by saying that he knows for a fact that the US is attempting to establish an alliance between Kurdish forces and ISIS in Deir Ezzor province in order to undermine government-led military efforts to liberate the region.

Author and Journalist Brandon Turbeville wrote on September 28th, 2017:

On September 24, the Russian Ministry of Defense may have corroborated what many researchers and journalists familiar with the Syrian crisis have been exposing all along; that the United States is working directly with ISIS on the ground and that its SDF forces are doing so as well. The Russian MOD has released photos allegedly depicting U.S. forces and ISIS working alongside one another against Russian and Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zour.

Why Are Kurds Joining Daesh?

For over a year, Kurdish forces have united in defense against bloody Daesh attacks. So how has Daesh still managed to recruit hundreds of young Kurds to fight for the caliphate against their own families?

“There are Kurdish families in Halabja whose sons are in IS [Daesh] and their hearts are broken, but I’ll never go to their funerals,” said the grieving mother of Kaihan Borhan, a Kurd who died fighting with the Peshmerga against Daesh.

Her family is distraught that the people responsible for his death could well be Kurdish nationals.

“I have a friend whose brother died fighting for ISIS,” said Kaihan’s brother. “I never grieved for him and my friend cannot bear to look me in the eye.”

Here, we can see the path to extremism that many Kurds have taken. Dissatisfaction with the Kurdish intelligence service, Asayish’s persecution of Muslims and domestic grievances are being skilfully exploited by Daesh through the use of propaganda, led by Khattab Al-Kurdi and his Saladin Brigade.

“With God’s permission we will sow the seeds of the Caliphate throughout our land,” said Khattab, who has been one of the most persuasive forces in luring Kurds towards the caliphate.

Even with Khattab’s reported death in April 2015, the threat of more Kurds joining Daesh seems unlikely to diminish, with a new Kurdish imam carrying the rhetoric forward.

In 2014 Associated Press wrote about some Kurds aiding and joining Daesh saying:

“Ethnic Kurds are helping members of the Islamic State group in the battle for the key Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, sharing their knowledge of the local terrain and language with the extremists, according to Iraqi and Kurdish officials. It is not clear how many Kurds are aiding the estimated 3,000 Islamic State militants in the Kobani area — and fighting against their own Kurdish brethren — but activists say they are playing a major role in the 7-week-old conflict near the Turkish border.

A top military commander for the extremists in the town is an Iraqi Kurd, known by the nom de guerre of Abu Khattab al-Kurdi, helping them in the battle against fellow Kurds. Officials with the main Syrian Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, say they became aware of the Kurds among the mostly Sunni Muslim extremists early in the fighting”…”Mustafa Bali, a Kurdish activist in Kobani, said that by having Kurdish fighters, Islamic State extremists are trying to win the hearts and minds of Syrian Kurds in the area. “Daesh is trying to tell the people of Kobani that it does not consider them enemies and its fighters include Kurds,” Bali said.

Kurds selling weapons given to them from Germany to fight against Daesh

Reporters from German broadcasters NDR and WDR found several G3 assault rifles and a P1 pistol, all engraved with the initials “BW” for Bundeswehr – Germany’s military – in the northern Iraqi cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

The weapons apparently came from stocks that the German government delivered to the Kurdish autonomous government in northern Iraq. The weapons were intended to be used in the fight against the Daesh. Several members of Germany’s Green and Left parties have long raised concerns in parliament that arms delivered to Peshmerga fighters could fall into the wrong hands.

There have been several credible reports since the U.S.-led military alliance formed to help combat Daesh in Syria and Iraq of American-supplied weapons falling into the hands of unallied militias and even Daesh itself.

The U.S. has armed the Kurds and supported their efforts since helping them establish the Syrian Democratic Forces on Oct. 10, 2015. The U.S. needed to fund a group within Syria that was fighting against Daesh, but that was not as extremist as the Free Syrian Army, which was outed as being affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Per South Front on October 1, 2017, Omid Kabar a commander of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said, at a funeral for SDF fighters who were killed in Raqqa city, that the SDF will not handover al-Tabqah town or any other area to the Syrian government.

“The regime says we will hand over our regions or al-Tabqah town to the regime’s army … Our people must realize that within five years of our revolution as the People Protection Units and after our alliance with other factions in the name of Syrian Democratic Forces, we have not handed over any inch of our land… We will never hand it over. Our law is clear. The land that is watered with the blood of the martyrs belongs to the people and we will not hand them over to any force,” Kabar said.

The U.S. has stated that its main reason for being in Syria is to fight Daesh, but its actions have proven otherwise. Its true mission is to destabilize the country by assisting the Kurds through the SDF and other armed opposition forces in liberating land that can be used as a bargaining tool in future negotiations.

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

This article was originally published by The Rabbit Hole.

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“The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects….They crawled over the ground, laying the track and rolling on it and picking it up. Diesel tractors, puttering while they stood idle; they thundered when they moved, and then settled down to a droning roar. Snub nosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it… across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. They did not run on the ground but on their own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses.

“The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man: gloved, goggled, masked he was part of the monster, a robot in the seat…   …the tenant stared after it …his wife… beside him, and the quiet children behind. And all of them stared after the tractor…”

This merciless machine might belong to Israeli militants preparing another Jewish colony– a common scenario on Palestinian lands. The watching silent family could be the indigenous peoples of Brazil’s disappearing forests. Or farmers of Gujarat, India, relocated by the Sardar Sarovar dam. Just as First Nations’ livelihoods and wildlife inhabitants of Canada’s boreal forests were invaded to make way for Alberta’s massive oil extraction operatio.

That opening passage some will recognize from Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel — perhaps the most powerful portrayal of a people uprooted, forced into poverty– internally displaced refugees. It’s a process newly identified by Canadian researcher and author Naomi Klein as “disaster capitalism”. Klein brilliantly and poignantly defines the occurrence in her 2007 The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Shock Doctrine describes in unequivocal terms how corporations and companies  – I would include “non-profit” NGO institutions and human rights agencies among them–have learnt to respond with rapid-fire corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock to profit from a multitude of disasters:– man-made catastrophes, wars, reckless economic policies, economic embargoes,  climate-induced disasters, or other world changing crises.

Grapes of Wrath, written following droughts in the American West, recalls the removal of farmers from their homes and livelihoods across Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico. Those droughts arrived in waves between 1934 and 1940, precipitating a series of bad harvests, with wind erosion aggravated by an absence of dryland farming methods. After farmers’ credit was exhausted, banks foreclosed on family properties and turned over much of that ‘dust bowl’ to agribusiness which capitalized investments with the timely rapid mechanization of farm equipment. Tens of thousands of dispossessed families become migrants, moving westward with whatever they can carry atop their old vehicle, to answer a fraudulent promise of abundant jobs in California. As they move, many perishing on the way, they are confronted by distrust and contempt. They find themselves derided as ‘Okies’ by those met along their trek —“Keep moving; we don’t want your kind here”, they are warned.

Steinbeck paints a poignant image of commercial bankers in league with those machines:

 “Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshipped the mathematics, because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said The Bank– or the Company—needs– wants—insists– must have—- as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling which had ensnared them. These lasts would take no responsibility …” …”the bank— the monster has to have profits all the time.  It can’t wait. It’ll die.”

Standing with the bosses, ready to enforce the corporate plan, are vigilantes and mean-spirited police wherever the migrants stop. Anyone daring to dissent is threatened with jail, blackmailed, ‘disappeared’.

The poor press silently on.

At the end of their journey, desperate surviving refugees arrive in the green orchards of California eager to regain their dignity and family cohesion only to face new company men, also finding themselves competing with other hungry job seekers for lower and lower wages. Here too they are met by bosses allied with police authorities to maximize their own gains, driving the uprooted families to greater degrees of desperation.

Are those 1930 ‘Okies’ not ancestors of our estimated 25 million refugees now wandering over our globe? Not only are today’s ‘Okies’ viewed with suspicion; their homelands are occupied by one kind of disaster capital complex or another, diverting national resources into foreign assets, fishing coves into tourist resorts, mixed farmlands into single cash crop ventures, and bankrupting their governments with US-made defense imports.

Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the earliest dramatization in English of what we now recognize as “disaster capitalism” (although none of that is indicated in summaries of the story.) The epic journey of Steinbeck’s Joad family began with a climate disaster—droughts that turned vast farmlands into what became know as the dust bowl, invoked in Wood Guthrie’s 1940 collection Dust Bowl Ballads.

Some may recall, as I did, a passionate story of the Joad family, with the noble Tom Joad striving to keep hope alive; and Ma Joad, the optimistic matriarch directing her forlorn, dwindling family forward. What I remembered from the novel and the film are beautifully crafted characters with their personal hardships and disparate responses to misfortune. In the character of Tom Joad, artists have found inspiration: there was singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, himself a dust bowl refugee from Oklahoma; two generations later, Steppenwolf Theatre Company produced a stage version of Grapes of Wrath; and in his 1995 album “The Ghost of Tom Joad”, Bruce Springsteen draws comparisons between the dust bowl and modern times.

Today, immobilized by an accident, I’m rereading Grapes of Wrath after a 40 year hiatus. Now Steinbeck’s political message moves into the forefront. This is not the history of a climate refugee family. It is the history of capitalism in America—disaster capitalism-– with an alliance of police force and wealth, where machinery is supreme, where honest labor is not enough, and where the family is secondary–a worthy reread in modern American times.  

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In just one week the United States government will commemorate its 16th anniversary in the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan.

This war did not really begin in 2001 resulting from the attacks on September 11 where planes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon headquartered right outside of Washington, D.C.

U.S. involvement in the destabilization of Afghanistan goes back to the late 1970s when the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDP) led a socialist-oriented administration which advanced the cause of working people and farmers as well as providing fundamental civil rights to women. During this period Afghanistan was aligned with the Soviet Union and other progressive and non-capitalist states. Modernization programs were underway aimed at enhancing the standard of living and educational levels of the masses of people.

The PDPA was formed in 1965 by uniting several factions within the Socialist Party of Afghanistan. Later in 1973, the party assisted in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Republic of Afghanistan.

Factional disputes within the PDPA led to the ascendancy of Barbrak Kamal as head-of-state in Afghanistan in December 1979. This move was supported by the Soviet leadership which deployed military forces into Afghanistan to ensure the stability of the new government.

Taking advantage of the discontent among feudal, monarchist and other counter-revolutionary elements in the country, the U.S. through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon armed rebels with specific aim of derailing the revolutionary process. The formation of al-Qaeda occurred in these years while thousands of fighters were recruited within Afghanistan and abroad to join the campaign against the socialist government.

This war of destabilization was coordinated at the highest levels of the U.S. government under the administrations of both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. The anti-communist rebels were promoted in the U.S. as freedom fighters seeking to reclaim the historical traditions of Afghan people. Much was made of the presence of Soviet troops in Afghanistan evoking the notion of the red menace and overtaking of states by Communism.

The war in Afghanistan continued through the 1980s into the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union withdrew its support for the government of Najibullah. By 1992, the Mujahideen had taken over the capital. In later years, the Taliban became dominant soon establishing another regime in Kabul.

From the mid-to-late 1990s, al-Qaeda was considered to be more of an adversary to the U.S. resulting in it being projected through the corporate media as a major threat. The August 1998 bombing of U.S. embassy buildings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania prompted the Bill Clinton administration to bomb Afghanistan and the Republic of Sudan under the guise of both states serving as a base for Osama bin Laden.

Since 2001, the Pentagon under purported NATO command has been bombing and conducting ground operations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. As of one year ago, the official statistics supplied by the U.S. military says 2,386 U.S. troops have been killed and over 20,000 wounded. Also 1,173 U.S. civilian contractors have been killed in the theater of war.

Troops from other NATO states account for another 1,000 or more deaths. Other casualties such as closed head injuries, psychological disorders, etc. extend into the hundreds of thousands. In regard to the number of Afghans and Pakistanis killed, the numbers are largely incalculable.

In what I consider to be a conservative estimate, the Washington Post reported in 2015 that:

“War has directly resulted in the deaths of 149,000 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2001 and 2014, according to estimates in a new report released by the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute. That figure includes U.S. military members, contractors, and opposition fighters – as well as at least 26,270 civilians in Afghanistan, and 21,500 in Pakistan.” (June 3)

This same article carries a quote from the study’s author, Boston University professor Neta Crawford which says:

“While the U.S. formally ended combat operations in Afghanistan in December 2014, U.S. uniformed troops remain advising the Afghan security forces and engaging in combat. The war has not diminished in intensity. Rather, in several ways, most notably, in the numbers of civilians and Afghan military and police killed, the war has escalated.”

Figures included in the report show that civilian deaths in Afghanistan appear to have grown over the past few years. Bombings, drone attacks and ground operations have continued under the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump.

Another article from the New York Times dated June 11, 2017 indicates that all of the reported U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan this year were related to military engagements with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) local affiliate called the Islamic State of Khorasan. Therefore, the principal enemy of U.S. forces has gone from al-Qaeda to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network to now ISIS.

President Trump recently announced that he is deploying an additional 4,000 Pentagon troops to the country. At his infamous United Nations speech last week he attacked Pakistan as well for being partly responsible for the problems Washington is having in the region. Pakistan has denied the allegations from the U.S. leader.

Consequently, the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue until the U.S. suffers an outright military defeat or is forced to withdraw by the people in this country. The Vietnam War, which is the subject of a controversial documentary by Ken Burns now being shown over PBS, ended as a result of the combined revolutionary military resistance of the Democratic Republic in the North and the National Liberation Front in the occupied South.

Reflections on Imperialist Militarism and the African Crisis: The Cases of Chad, Togo and Libya

In closing I want to make a few remarks on some aspects of the political and security situation in Africa. Although not routinely addressed by the antiwar and peace movements in the U.S., the imperialists are continuing their efforts to halt development and exert total control over African Union (AU) member-states.

Chad, an oil-producing former French colony in western Central Africa, has been placed by Trump on the list of countries whose nationals are banned from entering the U.S. This came as a surprise for some considering the pro-Washington and Paris stance of successive Chadian governments.

An article published by Africa News noted:

“The inclusion of Chad is hinged on the failure of Ndjamena to share terrorism-related and other crucial information the U.S. required, the White House confirmed. Trump signed the order on March 6 banning travelers from six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – for 90 days and locked out most aspiring refugees for 120 days.” (Sept. 25)

Only Iraq has been removed so far from the list in exchange for the targeting of Chaldean and other nationals from the country in the U.S. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela were added to the latest list issued by Trump.

Newsweek magazine said in a report published on September 25, that:

Idriss Déby at the White House in 2014.jpg

Chadian President Idriss Déby (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

“Given Chad’s long history of cooperation with the United States and other Western powers—such as France—on counterterrorism, it appears strange that Chadian President Idriss Déby would withhold information from his counterpart in Washington. After 9/11, the State Department set up a counterterrorism program to assist Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger in monitoring the movement of people and goods. This initiative was succeed in 2005 by the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative, of which Chad remains a member. U.S. troops have also engaged in training their Chadian counterparts, and President Barack Obama sent 80 troops to the region in 2014 to help in the search for the almost 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. The troops operated surveillance flights and drones from Chad.”

The West African state of Togo has been rocked in recent months by mass demonstrations demanding the resignation of longtime President Faure Gnassingbe. The Gnassingbe family has ruled this nation since 1967, when Eyadema Gnassingbe engineered a military coup on behalf of France.

These demonstrations and strikes in Togo have been attacked by the government in Lome. Last month 15 leading members of the Pan-African National Party (PNP) were arrested and quickly prosecuted.

Togo’s parliament dominated by the Gnassingbe-allied party has attempted to pass legislation to liberalize the political system. Moreover, one of the most significant aspects of these developments is that the state of Israel was forced to postpone a planned summit meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and numerous African states. Several of the AU member states have rejected the summit in solidarity with the Palestinians and other peoples of the region.

Finally, the North African state of Libya is being subjected to yet another United Nations plan to bring stability to the oil-rich nation, which prior to the intervention by the Pentagon and NATO in 2011, was the most prosperous nation on the continent. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and wounded in Libya over the last six years.

The country is now a source of instability and human trafficking throughout North and West Africa along with the Mediterranean regions in southern Europe. Dozens have died in recent weeks in failed attempts to flee to the European Union states.

Libya can never know peace until the people unite behind a national program of reconstruction. Pentagon and NATO troops as well as Western advisers should be forced to leave the country since they are the source of the ongoing crises. It will only be under such a movement towards unification and renewal that genuine peace, security and development will be realized in the country and region.

The above text was presented at a public meeting entitled “Stop Imperialist War at Home and Abroad!” organized by Workers World Party Detroit branch on Saturday September 30, 2017.

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Whether part of a pre-planned strategy or not, large-scale migration flows often destabilize the destination country, and India and Myanmar are bracing for the geopolitical consequences of the Bangladeshis within their borders acquiring a firmer sense of identity separateness from their hosts.

Ivy League researcher Kelly M. Greenhill’s revolutionary concept about “Weapons of Mass Migration” claims that immigration processes can be abused as a Machiavellian ploy to influence state actors, whether the source country, transit ones, or the destination state, and none of this necessarily has to occur with all parties’ complicity or even knowledge. In most of the cases that she studied in her research, Greenhill noted that the migrants themselves usually have no idea that they’re being used as pawns in a larger power game, and it’s from this perspective that one should approach the issue of Bangladeshi migrants in India and Myanmar.

Background Briefing

To start off, the issue is incredibly complicated, as many arguments have been made about the indigenousness of the Bangladeshis in these two countries, with the most common simplified version being that they’ve had a presence in Northeastern India and Myanmar’s Rakhine State even before the arrival of the British. Of note, the UK obtained these regions as a result of the 1826 Treaty of Yandabo that ended the First Anglo-Burmese War, and it was from this point onwards that the Myanmarese (and especially the Buddhist Bamar ethno-majority and their Buddhist Arakan minority in Rakhine State) say that the British-assisted influx of Muslim Bangladeshis occurred. As for Northeastern India, the millions of Bangladeshis that live in this already restive region arrived during and after the 1971 war.

For the purpose of clarification, ethnic Bengalis in the Indian state of West Bengal are not referred to as Bangladeshis in this analysis, as they had been living in their home region for generations and did not migrate there from the territory of modern-day Bangladesh, and are therefore considered as a separately classified demographic in the context of this piece.

Moving along, the topic of Bangladeshis (or suspected/alleged Bangladeshis, as is the case of the Rohingya) in India and Myanmar has become increasingly politicized and even violent. The Rohingya Crisis is the most well-known indication of that, though what comparatively fewer people are aware of is that something much larger is on the verge of happening in Northeastern India as well. The government of Assam has vowed to “detect-delete-deport” upwards of 20 million Bangladeshis suspected of illegally living in the region, and given New Delhi’s unsupportive attitude towards the infinitely much smaller 40,000 Rohingya in the country, it’s doubtful that the Hindutva supremacist national authorities will do anything to stand in their way.

Bangladesh ethnic map

Irredentist Precedents

If anything, they’ll probably facilitate this process on national security grounds, as there’s been considerable fear in the region that these “Weapons of Mass Migration” are irreversibly changing local demographics. Again, it must be emphasized that this isn’t a condemnation of every Bangladeshi living in Northeastern India, nor any oblique hint that they’re “complicit in a conspiracy” to Islamize the region in the run-up to “justifying” irredentist claims by Dhaka, but just that this is nevertheless the geopolitical consequence regardless of intentions and could be manipulated in this direction, ergo the relevance of Greenhill’s “Weapons of Mass Migration” concept. Such suspicions aren’t without precedent either, as the earlier cases of the Albanians, Kurds, and possibly in the future, even the Mexicans, demonstrate.

About the Albanians, they migrated en mass to the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija and were actually assisted by Tito’s communist government in this regard. Afterwards, they eventually agitated for “independence” and initiated a terrorist campaign to this end, one which saw the direct intervention of NATO’s conventional forces in their support. Concerning the Kurds, they’re scheming for their own state and are on the verge of declaring a “second geopolitical ‘Israel’” in Northern Iraq following their separatist referendum. As for the Mexicans, irredentist ultra-nationalists believe that they should instrumentalize their tens of millions of diaspora compatriots in the US in order to “reconquer” the chunk of the modern-day Western USA that they lost to Washington after the 1848 Mexican-American War.

Albanian boys in Kosovo, 1999

Albanian boys in Kosovo, 1999

Trouble Brewing

In all three aforementioned examples, major conflicts have already erupted (Albanians) or are latently developing (Kurds, and to a lesser extent, Mexicans), proving that the instance of contiguous cross-border diasporas could serve as a trigger for regional destabilization if not properly handled by all sides. The Bangladeshi diaspora in South Asia is a case in point, as it’s already contributed to violence in Myanmar and holds the very real potential to do so in Northeastern India if New Delhi tries to expel the roughly 20 million Bangladeshis that are living there. As can be observed from the Rohingya case in Rakhine State, international media is very sympathetic to the plight of expelled Muslim Bangladeshis (or those presumed to be closely related to them like the Rohingyas), so it’s likely that they’ll hold the same stance regarding India’ proposed deportation of their compatriots in the Northeast too.

Just like with the Rohingya, however, there’s a chance that some of the Bangladeshi cross-border diaspora might resort to militancy in advancing their cause, which is especially concerning when it comes to Northeastern India because of the much larger border that the country shares with what is increasingly turning into Bangla-Daesh. An analogous counterpart to the so-called “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” (ARSA, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Myanmar) could realistically sprout up in Northeastern India, too, though the sheer difference in population sizes and scale could lead to much more devastating humanitarian consequences than in Rakhine State. Accordingly, it can be expected that the global Muslim community (Ummah) would support the cause of the Indian-based Muslim Bangladeshis just as they do the Myanmarese-based ones, therefore spiking the risk that the conflict could quickly become internationalized through the participation of non-state actors (“volunteers”).

Prospective Options

The problem is that there is no “simple” way to deal with this ever-likely scenario, as India has its own subjectively defined national-social security interests which contradict the humanitarian ones of the Bangladeshi migrants in its Northeastern region. New Delhi can’t realistically expel approximately 20 million people without experiencing major soft power blowback and potentially engendering a militant resistance campaign, one which could predictably be hijacked by terrorist groups. On the other hand, passively allowing the present migration and migrant birthrate trends to continue will inevitably result in changing the demographics of the frontier states, thereby inadvertently contributing to more Hobbesian conflict in the already restive Northeast. It could also drive future irredentist claims by ultra-radical Bangladeshi nationalists inspired by the “Kosovo precedent”. Taking all of this into account, a few suggestions can be offered for how all sides should navigate the coming imbroglio.

The first thing is that India will probably not succeed in deporting even a fraction of the 20 million migrants that it’s expecting to expel, at least not peacefully. Rapid and large-scale population transfers of the kind being proposed by Assam have only happened in wartime conditions of “ethnic cleansing”, meaning that this is the only “solution” that India can pursue if it’s serious about removing the Bangladeshis. That doesn’t mean that it should do this, but just that there is no other way to accomplish its stated goal aside from this measure. On the other hand, the Bangladeshi government is already under heavy pressure because of the half a million Rohingya that have flooded into its borders as a result of the Tatmadaw’s anti-terrorist “clearance” operations in Rakhine State, so it’s unlikely that the state would be able to deal with almost forty times as many “repatriated” migrants, both in the logistical-humanitarian sense and also in terms of withstanding opposition pressure for the ruling party to stand down due to any perceived mishandling of the forthcoming crisis.

Unfortunately, the larger dynamics point to a complex interstate conflict transpiring, but that doesn’t mean that cooperation should be automatically ruled out. Instead of serving as a barrier between the two nations, the Bangladeshi migrant diaspora in Northeastern India could function as a bridge connecting them together and intertwining their geopolitical fates. Bangladesh has been treated as India’s neighborhood underlining since Modi’s historic 2015 visit to the country and the subsequent agreements that were signed at the time, but it could attempt to equalize the relationship by tacitly implying that New Delhi has much more to lose than to gain by trying to expel them. If this realization can be conveyed, then the migrant community could become the “glue” that sticks the two countries together and promotes deeper cross-sectoral integration, similar in a sense to how the Mexican one in the US furthers the globalist objective of one day creating a “North American Union”.

Concluding Thoughts

Bangladeshi regional migration is an important factor affecting the stability of South Asia, having already been blamed – whether rightly or wrongly – for causing unrest in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and on the brink of doing so in Northeastern India if Assam goes through with its promise to deport what could amount to nearly 20 million people back to Bangladesh. The point of this analysis wasn’t to discuss the merits of why the Bangladeshis (or presumably closely related people, as in the case of the Rohingyas) are in Myanmar and Northeastern India in the first place, but to rather approach this emotive hot-button issue from a cold analytical distance in order to better understand the overall dynamics at play and their most likely trajectories. Considering that, the situation with Bangladeshi migrants is worrisome because of the very high conflict potential that it creates, especially in regards to the vast numbers involved when it comes to Northeastern India.

There’s no delicate way to say this, but the issue of Bangladeshi regional migration is shaping out to be a ticking time bomb that’s slated to explode in the coming future, provided of course that the issue isn’t properly dealt with by all sides first.

It’s indisputable that there’s a “national awakening” of sorts taking place concerning Bangladesh and its contiguous cross-border diaspora in Myanmar and India, the latter of which could also one day even come to involve Bengalis in West Bengal if their different religious identities can be overcome and replaced by a feeling of ethno-cultural solidarity with one another. The concept of a “Big/Greater Bangladesh” driven by the “export” of “Weapons of Mass Migration” hangs heavy over Indian decision-makers’ heads after the Albanian and Kurdish precedents, which is why it’s such a sensitive issue for them and might contribute to the ruling Hindu supremacist authorities overreacting in an inappropriately violent manner and inadvertently advancing the same scenario that they so desperately want to avoid.

The worst fear, however, is that the situation will be exploited by extra-regional actors such as the US in order to spread “creative chaos” to South Asia as a means of offsetting the emerging Multipolar World Order and/or punishing India for any future reservations that it might have in remaining committed to the declining US-led Unipolar World Order. This is a very dangerous scenario which is extremely difficult to safeguard against because of the disproportionate impact that non-state actors (terrorists, etc.) could have in worsening the situation and driving all sides closer to a multisided conflict. It’s precisely this scenario that all responsible regional stakeholders want to avoid, though it’s possible that some irresponsible non-state ones such as fundamentalist religious groups and ultra-nationalist extremists might actually welcome it because they think that it could advance their own interests. For these pressing reasons, India and Bangladesh need to urgently discuss this issue sooner than later in order to preempt what looks to be a future Hybrid War crisis in the making.

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

All images in this article are from the author.

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Whether part of a pre-planned strategy or not, large-scale migration flows often destabilize the destination country, and India and Myanmar are bracing for the geopolitical consequences of the Bangladeshis within their borders acquiring a firmer sense of identity separateness from their hosts.

Ivy League researcher Kelly M. Greenhill’s revolutionary concept about “Weapons of Mass Migration” claims that immigration processes can be abused as a Machiavellian ploy to influence state actors, whether the source country, transit ones, or the destination state, and none of this necessarily has to occur with all parties’ complicity or even knowledge. In most of the cases that she studied in her research, Greenhill noted that the migrants themselves usually have no idea that they’re being used as pawns in a larger power game, and it’s from this perspective that one should approach the issue of Bangladeshi migrants in India and Myanmar.

Background Briefing

To start off, the issue is incredibly complicated, as many arguments have been made about the indigenousness of the Bangladeshis in these two countries, with the most common simplified version being that they’ve had a presence in Northeastern India and Myanmar’s Rakhine State even before the arrival of the British. Of note, the UK obtained these regions as a result of the 1826 Treaty of Yandabo that ended the First Anglo-Burmese War, and it was from this point onwards that the Myanmarese (and especially the Buddhist Bamar ethno-majority and their Buddhist Arakan minority in Rakhine State) say that the British-assisted influx of Muslim Bangladeshis occurred. As for Northeastern India, the millions of Bangladeshis that live in this already restive region arrived during and after the 1971 war.

For the purpose of clarification, ethnic Bengalis in the Indian state of West Bengal are not referred to as Bangladeshis in this analysis, as they had been living in their home region for generations and did not migrate there from the territory of modern-day Bangladesh, and are therefore considered as a separately classified demographic in the context of this piece.

Moving along, the topic of Bangladeshis (or suspected/alleged Bangladeshis, as is the case of the Rohingya) in India and Myanmar has become increasingly politicized and even violent. The Rohingya Crisis is the most well-known indication of that, though what comparatively fewer people are aware of is that something much larger is on the verge of happening in Northeastern India as well. The government of Assam has vowed to “detect-delete-deport” upwards of 20 million Bangladeshis suspected of illegally living in the region, and given New Delhi’s unsupportive attitude towards the infinitely much smaller 40,000 Rohingya in the country, it’s doubtful that the Hindutva supremacist national authorities will do anything to stand in their way.

Bangladesh ethnic map

Irredentist Precedents

If anything, they’ll probably facilitate this process on national security grounds, as there’s been considerable fear in the region that these “Weapons of Mass Migration” are irreversibly changing local demographics. Again, it must be emphasized that this isn’t a condemnation of every Bangladeshi living in Northeastern India, nor any oblique hint that they’re “complicit in a conspiracy” to Islamize the region in the run-up to “justifying” irredentist claims by Dhaka, but just that this is nevertheless the geopolitical consequence regardless of intentions and could be manipulated in this direction, ergo the relevance of Greenhill’s “Weapons of Mass Migration” concept. Such suspicions aren’t without precedent either, as the earlier cases of the Albanians, Kurds, and possibly in the future, even the Mexicans, demonstrate.

About the Albanians, they migrated en mass to the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija and were actually assisted by Tito’s communist government in this regard. Afterwards, they eventually agitated for “independence” and initiated a terrorist campaign to this end, one which saw the direct intervention of NATO’s conventional forces in their support. Concerning the Kurds, they’re scheming for their own state and are on the verge of declaring a “second geopolitical ‘Israel’” in Northern Iraq following their separatist referendum. As for the Mexicans, irredentist ultra-nationalists believe that they should instrumentalize their tens of millions of diaspora compatriots in the US in order to “reconquer” the chunk of the modern-day Western USA that they lost to Washington after the 1848 Mexican-American War.

Albanian boys in Kosovo, 1999

Albanian boys in Kosovo, 1999

Trouble Brewing

In all three aforementioned examples, major conflicts have already erupted (Albanians) or are latently developing (Kurds, and to a lesser extent, Mexicans), proving that the instance of contiguous cross-border diasporas could serve as a trigger for regional destabilization if not properly handled by all sides. The Bangladeshi diaspora in South Asia is a case in point, as it’s already contributed to violence in Myanmar and holds the very real potential to do so in Northeastern India if New Delhi tries to expel the roughly 20 million Bangladeshis that are living there. As can be observed from the Rohingya case in Rakhine State, international media is very sympathetic to the plight of expelled Muslim Bangladeshis (or those presumed to be closely related to them like the Rohingyas), so it’s likely that they’ll hold the same stance regarding India’ proposed deportation of their compatriots in the Northeast too.

Just like with the Rohingya, however, there’s a chance that some of the Bangladeshi cross-border diaspora might resort to militancy in advancing their cause, which is especially concerning when it comes to Northeastern India because of the much larger border that the country shares with what is increasingly turning into Bangla-Daesh. An analogous counterpart to the so-called “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” (ARSA, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Myanmar) could realistically sprout up in Northeastern India, too, though the sheer difference in population sizes and scale could lead to much more devastating humanitarian consequences than in Rakhine State. Accordingly, it can be expected that the global Muslim community (Ummah) would support the cause of the Indian-based Muslim Bangladeshis just as they do the Myanmarese-based ones, therefore spiking the risk that the conflict could quickly become internationalized through the participation of non-state actors (“volunteers”).

Prospective Options

The problem is that there is no “simple” way to deal with this ever-likely scenario, as India has its own subjectively defined national-social security interests which contradict the humanitarian ones of the Bangladeshi migrants in its Northeastern region. New Delhi can’t realistically expel approximately 20 million people without experiencing major soft power blowback and potentially engendering a militant resistance campaign, one which could predictably be hijacked by terrorist groups. On the other hand, passively allowing the present migration and migrant birthrate trends to continue will inevitably result in changing the demographics of the frontier states, thereby inadvertently contributing to more Hobbesian conflict in the already restive Northeast. It could also drive future irredentist claims by ultra-radical Bangladeshi nationalists inspired by the “Kosovo precedent”. Taking all of this into account, a few suggestions can be offered for how all sides should navigate the coming imbroglio.

The first thing is that India will probably not succeed in deporting even a fraction of the 20 million migrants that it’s expecting to expel, at least not peacefully. Rapid and large-scale population transfers of the kind being proposed by Assam have only happened in wartime conditions of “ethnic cleansing”, meaning that this is the only “solution” that India can pursue if it’s serious about removing the Bangladeshis. That doesn’t mean that it should do this, but just that there is no other way to accomplish its stated goal aside from this measure. On the other hand, the Bangladeshi government is already under heavy pressure because of the half a million Rohingya that have flooded into its borders as a result of the Tatmadaw’s anti-terrorist “clearance” operations in Rakhine State, so it’s unlikely that the state would be able to deal with almost forty times as many “repatriated” migrants, both in the logistical-humanitarian sense and also in terms of withstanding opposition pressure for the ruling party to stand down due to any perceived mishandling of the forthcoming crisis.

Unfortunately, the larger dynamics point to a complex interstate conflict transpiring, but that doesn’t mean that cooperation should be automatically ruled out. Instead of serving as a barrier between the two nations, the Bangladeshi migrant diaspora in Northeastern India could function as a bridge connecting them together and intertwining their geopolitical fates. Bangladesh has been treated as India’s neighborhood underlining since Modi’s historic 2015 visit to the country and the subsequent agreements that were signed at the time, but it could attempt to equalize the relationship by tacitly implying that New Delhi has much more to lose than to gain by trying to expel them. If this realization can be conveyed, then the migrant community could become the “glue” that sticks the two countries together and promotes deeper cross-sectoral integration, similar in a sense to how the Mexican one in the US furthers the globalist objective of one day creating a “North American Union”.

Concluding Thoughts

Bangladeshi regional migration is an important factor affecting the stability of South Asia, having already been blamed – whether rightly or wrongly – for causing unrest in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and on the brink of doing so in Northeastern India if Assam goes through with its promise to deport what could amount to nearly 20 million people back to Bangladesh. The point of this analysis wasn’t to discuss the merits of why the Bangladeshis (or presumably closely related people, as in the case of the Rohingyas) are in Myanmar and Northeastern India in the first place, but to rather approach this emotive hot-button issue from a cold analytical distance in order to better understand the overall dynamics at play and their most likely trajectories. Considering that, the situation with Bangladeshi migrants is worrisome because of the very high conflict potential that it creates, especially in regards to the vast numbers involved when it comes to Northeastern India.

There’s no delicate way to say this, but the issue of Bangladeshi regional migration is shaping out to be a ticking time bomb that’s slated to explode in the coming future, provided of course that the issue isn’t properly dealt with by all sides first.

It’s indisputable that there’s a “national awakening” of sorts taking place concerning Bangladesh and its contiguous cross-border diaspora in Myanmar and India, the latter of which could also one day even come to involve Bengalis in West Bengal if their different religious identities can be overcome and replaced by a feeling of ethno-cultural solidarity with one another. The concept of a “Big/Greater Bangladesh” driven by the “export” of “Weapons of Mass Migration” hangs heavy over Indian decision-makers’ heads after the Albanian and Kurdish precedents, which is why it’s such a sensitive issue for them and might contribute to the ruling Hindu supremacist authorities overreacting in an inappropriately violent manner and inadvertently advancing the same scenario that they so desperately want to avoid.

The worst fear, however, is that the situation will be exploited by extra-regional actors such as the US in order to spread “creative chaos” to South Asia as a means of offsetting the emerging Multipolar World Order and/or punishing India for any future reservations that it might have in remaining committed to the declining US-led Unipolar World Order. This is a very dangerous scenario which is extremely difficult to safeguard against because of the disproportionate impact that non-state actors (terrorists, etc.) could have in worsening the situation and driving all sides closer to a multisided conflict. It’s precisely this scenario that all responsible regional stakeholders want to avoid, though it’s possible that some irresponsible non-state ones such as fundamentalist religious groups and ultra-nationalist extremists might actually welcome it because they think that it could advance their own interests. For these pressing reasons, India and Bangladesh need to urgently discuss this issue sooner than later in order to preempt what looks to be a future Hybrid War crisis in the making.

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

All images in this article are from the author.

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Government forces are securing the Deir Ezzor-Palmyra highway in central Syria after a major part of ISIS attacks in in the area has been repelled. The main area of clashes are now east of Sukhna.

The situation near Bir-Ghabaghib and Shula has been stabilized, according to pro-government sources. However, these reports lack video and photo evidences.

On October 2, reports appeared that alleged US airstrikes hit Hezbollah positions near T-3 Pumping Station and killed seven or eight Hezbollah members involved in a battle against ISIS in the area. The airstrikes followed a large ISIS advance in the area repelled by government forces.

Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition, denied that the strikes were made by the coalition and said that its area of operations was Raqqah and the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

Some pro-opposition sources argued that the Hezbollah members were killed in a friendly fire incident by Syrian or Russian warplanes. The situation remains unclear.

East of Salamiyah, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies liberated Rubayah and Mughayzil from ISIS. Since August, the ISIS-held pocket has decreased from 3,270 km2 to 480 km2.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advanced against ISIS near Hadin and Rubaydah villages northeast of Deir Ezzor city. The SDF progress near the Jafra oil field has slowed down because the group has to secure its northern flank if it wants to advance in the area.

In Iraq, the army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have been continuing their operation against ISIS in Hawija area. Following a liberation of a high number of villages and airbase, the army and the PMU are now aiming to isolate ISIS units in Hawija itself.

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The policy of guaranteeing every citizen a universal basic income is gaining support around the world, as automation increasingly makes jobs obsolete. But can it be funded without raising taxes or triggering hyperinflation? In a panel I was on at the NexusEarth cryptocurrency conference in Aspen September 21-23rd, most participants said no. This is my rebuttal.

In May 2017, a team of researchers at the University of Oxford published the results of a survey of the world’s best artificial intelligence experts, who predicted that there was a 50 percent chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks within 45 years. All human jobs were expected to be automated in 120 years, with Asian respondents expecting these dates much sooner than North Americans. In theory, that means we could all retire and enjoy the promised age of universal leisure. But the immediate concern for most people is that they will be losing their jobs to machines.

That helps explain the recent interest in a universal basic income (UBI) – a sum of money distributed equally to everyone. A UBI has been proposed in Switzerlandtrials are beginning in Finland, and there is a successful pilot ongoing in Brazil. The cities of Ontario in Canada, Oakland in California, and Utrecht in the Netherlands are planning trials; two local authorities in Scotland have announced such plans; and politicians across Europe, including UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have spoken in favor of the concept. Advocates in the US range from Robert Reich to Mark ZuckerbergMartin Luther King, Thomas Paine, Charles Murray, Elon Musk, Dan Savage, Keith Ellison and Paul Samuelson. A new economic study found that a UBI of $1000/month to all adults would add $2.5 trillion to the US economy in eight years.

Welfare can encourage laziness, because benefits go down as earned income goes up. But studies have shown that a UBI distributed equally regardless of income does not have that result. In 1968, President Richard Nixon initiated a successful trial showing that the money had little impact on the recipients’ working hours. People who did reduce the time they worked engaged in other socially valuable pursuits, and young people who were not working spent more time getting an education. Analysis of a similar Canadian trial found that employment rates among young adults did not change, high-school completion rates increased, and hospitalization rates dropped by 8.5 percent. Larger experiments in India have reached similar results.

Studies have also shown that it would actually be cheaper to distribute funds to the entire population than to run the welfare services governments engage in now. It has been calculated that if the UK’s welfare budget were split among the country’s 50 million adults, each of them would get £5,160 a year.

But that is not enough to cover basic survival needs in a modern economy. Taxes would need to be raised, additional debt incurred, or other programs slashed; and these are solutions on which governments are generally unwilling to embark. The other option is “qualitative easing,” a form of central bank quantitative easing in which the money flows directly into the real economy rather than simply into banks. In Europe, politicians are taking another look at this once-derided “helicopter money.” A UBI is being proposed as monetary policy that would stimulate productivity without increasing taxes. As Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, former senior vice president of the World Bank, explains:

. . . [W]hen the government spends more and invests in the economy, that money circulates, and recirculates again and again. So not only does it create jobs once: the investment creates jobs multiple times.

The result of that is that the economy grows by a multiple of the initial spending, and public finances turn out to be stronger: as the economy grows, fiscal revenues increase, and demands for the government to pay unemployment benefits, or fund social programmes to help the poor and needy, go down. As tax revenues go up as a result of growth, and as these expenditures decrease, the government’s fiscal position strengthens.

Why “QE for the People” Need Not Be Inflationary

The objection  to any sort of quantitative easing in which new money gets into the real economy is that when the money supply grows too large and consumer prices shoot up, the process cannot be reversed. If the money is spent on a national dividend, infrastructure, or the government’s budget, it will be out circulating in the economy and will not be retrievable by the central bank.

But the government does not need to rely on the central bank to pull the money back when hyperinflation hits (assuming it ever does – it has not hit after nearly nine years and $3.7 trillion in quantitative easing). As Prof. Stiglitz observes, the money issued by the government will return to it simply through an increase in fiscal revenues generated by the UBI itself.

This is due to the “velocity of money” – the number of times a dollar is traded in a year, from farmer to grocer to landlord, etc. In a good economy, the velocity of the M1 money stock (coins, dollar bills, demand deposits and checkable deposits) is about seven; and each recipient will pay taxes on this same dollar as it changes hands. According to the Heritage Foundation, total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is now 26 percent. Thus one dollar of new GDP results in about 26 cents of increased tax revenue. Assuming each of the seven trades is for taxable GDP, $1.00 changing hands seven times can increase tax revenue by $7.00 x 26 percent = $1.82. In theory, then, the government could get more back in taxes than it paid out.

In practice, there will be a fair amount of leakage in these returns due to loopholes and deductions for costs. But any shortfall can be made up in other ways, including closing tax loopholes, taxing the $21 trillion or more hidden in offshore tax havens, or setting up a system of public banks that would collect interest that came back to the government.

A working paper published by the San Francisco Federal Reserve in 2012 found that one dollar invested in infrastructure generates at least two dollars in “GSP” (GDP for states), and “roughly four times more than average” during economic downturns. Whether that means $4 or $8 is unclear, but assume it’s only $4. Multiplying $4 by $0.26 in taxes would return the entire dollar originally spent on infrastructure to the government, year after year. For precedent, consider the G.I. Bill, which is estimated to have cost $50 billion in today’s dollars and to have returned $350 billion to the economy, a nearly sevenfold return.

What of the inflation formula typically taught in economics class? In a May 2011 Forbes article titled “Money Growth Does Not Cause Inflation!”, Prof. John Harvey demonstrated that its assumptions are invalid. The formula is “MV = Py,” meaning that when the velocity of money (V) and the quantity of goods sold (y) are constant, adding money (M) must drive up prices (P). But as Harvey pointed out, V and y are not constant. As people have more money to spend (M), more money will change hands (V), and more goods and services will get sold (y). Demand and supply will rise together, keeping prices stable.

The reverse is also true. If demand (money) is not increased, supply or GDP will not go up. New demand needs to precede new supply. The money must be out there searching for goods and services before employers will add the workers needed to create more supply. Only when demand is saturated and productivity is at full capacity will consumer prices be driven up; and they are not near those limits yet, despite some misleading official figures that omit people who have quit looking for work or are working only part-time. As of January 2017, an estimated 9.4 percent of the US population remained unemployed or underemployed. Beyond that, there is the vast expanding potential of robots, computers and innovations such as 3D printers, which can work 24 hours a day without overtime pay or medical insurance.

The specter invariably raised to block legislators and voters from injecting new money into the system is the fear of repeating the notorious hyperinflations of history – those in Weimer Germany, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. But according to Professor Michael Hudson, who has studied the question extensively, those disasters were not due to government money-printing to stimulate the economy. He writes:

Every hyperinflation in history has been caused by foreign debt service collapsing the exchange rate. The problem almost always has resulted from wartime foreign currency strains, not domestic spending. The dynamics of hyperinflation traced in such classics as Salomon Flink’s The Reichsbank and Economic Germany (1931) have been confirmed by studies of the Chilean and other Third World inflations. First the exchange rate plunges as economies pay for foreign military spending during the war, and then – in Germany’s case – reparations after the war ends. These payments led the exchange rate to fall, increasing the price in domestic currency of buying imports priced in hard currencies. This price rise for imported goods creates a price umbrella for domestic prices to follow suit. More domestic money is needed to finance economic activity at the higher price level. This German experience provides the classic example.

In a stagnant economy, a UBI can create the demand needed to clear the shelves of unsold products and drive new productivity.  Robots do not buy food, clothing, or electronic gadgets. Demand must come from consumers, and for that they need money to spend. As robots increasingly take over human jobs, the choices will be a UBI or to let half the population starve. A UBI is not “welfare” but is simply a dividend paid for living in the 21st century, when automation has freed us to enjoy some leisure and engage in more meaningful pursuits.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, a Senior Fellow of the Democracy Collaborative, and author of twelve books including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. A 13th book titled The Coming Revolution in Banking is due out this fall. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com.

This article was originally published by Web of Debt Blog.

Featured image is from Newsmax.com.

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Palestinians and Israelis watched last week’s referendum of Iraq’s Kurds with special interest. Israeli officials and many ordinary Palestinians were delighted – for very different reasons – to see an overwhelming vote to split away from Iraq.

Given the backlash from Baghdad and anger from Iran and Turkey, which have restive Kurdish minorities, the creation of a Kurdistan in northern Iraq may not happen soon.

Palestinian support for the Kurds is not difficult to understand. Palestinians, too, were overlooked when Britain and France carved up the Middle East into states a century ago. Like the Kurds, Palestinians have found themselves trapped in different territories, oppressed by their overlords.

Israel’s complex interests in Kurdish independence are harder to unravel.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the sole world leader to back Kurdish independence, and other politicians spoke of the Kurds’ “moral right” to a state. None saw how uneasily that sat with their approach to the Palestinian case.

On a superficial level, Israel would gain because the Kurds sit on plentiful oil. Unlike the Arab states and Iran, they are keen to sell to Israel.

But the reasons for Israeli support run deeper. There has been co-operation, much of it secret, between Israel and the Kurds for decades. Israeli media lapped up tributes from now-retired generals who trained the Kurds from the 1960s. Those connections have not been forgotten or ended. Independence rallies featured Israeli flags, and Kurds spoke of their ambition to become a “second Israel”.

Israel views the Kurds as a key ally in an Arab-dominated region. Now, with Islamic State’s influence receding, an independent Kurdistan could help prevent Iran filling the void. Israel wants a bulwark against Iran transferring its weapons, intelligence and know-how to Shiite allies in Syria and Lebanon.

Israel’s current interests, however, hint at a larger vision it has long harboured for the region – and one I set out at length in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

It began with Israel’s founding father, David Ben Gurion, who devised a strategy of “allying with the periphery” – building military ties to non-Arab states like Turkey, Ethiopia, India and Iran, then ruled by the shahs. The goal was to help Israel to break out of its regional isolation and contain an Arab nationalism led by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Israeli general Ariel Sharon expanded this security doctrine in the early 1980s, calling for Israel to become an imperial power in the Middle East. Israel would ensure that it alone in the region possessed nuclear weapons, making it indispensable to the US.

Sharon was not explicit about how Israel’s empire could be realised, but an indication was provided at around the same time in the Yinon Plan, written for the World Zionist Organisation by a former Israeli foreign ministry official.

Oded Yinon proposed the implosion of the Middle East, breaking apart the region’s key states – and Israel’s main opponents – by fuelling sectarian and ethnic discord. The aim was to fracture these states, weakening them so that Israel could secure its place as sole regional power.

The inspiration for this idea lay in the occupied territories, where Israel had contained Palestinians in a series of separate enclaves. Later, Israel would terminally divide the Palestinian national movement, nurturing an Islamist extremism that coalesced into Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

In this period, Israel also tested its ideas in neighbouring southern Lebanon, which it occupied for two decades. There, its presence further stoked sectarian tensions between Christians, Druze, Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

The strategy of “Balkanising” the Middle East found favour in the US among a group of hawkish policymakers, known as neoconservatives, who came to prominence during George W Bush’s presidency.

Heavily influenced by Israel, they promoted the idea of “rolling back” key states, especially Iraq, Iran and Syria, which were opposed to Israeli-US dominance in the region. They prioritised ousting Saddam Hussein, who had fired missiles on Israel during the 1991 Gulf war.

Although often assumed to be an unfortunate side effect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Washington’s oversight of the country’s bloody disintegration into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish fiefdoms looked suspiciously intentional. Now, Iraqi Kurds are close to making that break-up permanent.

Syria has gone a similar way, mired in convulsive fighting that has left its ruler impotent. And Tehran is, again, the target of efforts by Israel and its allies in the US to tear up the 2015 nuclear accord, backing Iran into a corner. Arab, Baluchi, Kurdish and Azeri minorities there may be ripe for stirring up.

Last month at the Herzliya conference, an annual jamboree for Israel’s security establishment, justice minister Ayelet Shaked called for a Kurdish state. She has stated that it would be integral to Israeli efforts to “reshape” the Middle East.

The unraveling of Britain and France’s map of the region would likely lead to chaos of the kind that a strong, nuclear-armed Israel, with backing from Washington, could richly exploit. Not least, yet more bedlam would push the Palestinian cause even further down the international community’s list of priorities.

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

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

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It is often painful to write these monthly dispatches, chronicling what has happened to the Earth over the previous several weeks. Every month I’m taken aback by how rapidly the changes are unfolding. Take my word for this: These pieces are as emotionally challenging for me to write as they are for you to read.

Over the several years I’ve been producing these climate disruption dispatches, I’ve mostly received messages of gratitude from readers, because as hard as these are to read, most people are keen to have the information.

Sometimes there is the reader, however, who asks why I only focus on the negative. “Why don’t you write about something positive, like renewable energy or lawsuits being filed against members of the Trump administration who are actively attacking the environment?” one person asked. This past June someone (clearly not a journalist) asked me why I didn’t write about solutions, because, “What you write about is just so depressing!”

I spend time in the mountains near where I live nearly every week. It centers me, reminds me of what is important, and keeps me sane during these increasingly dystopian days. When I go, I bring a compass and the most updated, accurate map available.

While in the mountains, I am grappling with this reality: The Earth is unraveling due to human-forced warming. We’ve changed the composition of the atmosphere, and are acidifying the oceans. The cryosphere is melting before our very eyes, and the seas are rising. Global wildlife populations have decreased nearly 60 percent since just the 1970s, and the current extinction rate of species is 1,000 times the normal background rate. Functional coral reefs could be completely gone by 2050, and oceans could be completely free of fish by 2048 due to anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), overfishing, pollution and habitat loss.

And there is nothing to indicate that governments around the globe are doing anything remotely serious enough to mitigate ACD impacts, in order to prevent the worst-case scenarios from unfolding.

That there will be a massive die-off of humans seems inevitable, and the extinction of our species is very much a possibility.

This is terrifying, heartbreaking, enraging information to take in.

Thus, dear reader, I ask: Do you want an accurate map in order to make the best decisions possible about what to do with your time, and how to use your life? Is it worth the emotional turmoil — worth working through the five stages of grief — in order to live an awakened life, to live in the real, to situate yourself to decide how to serve the planet and other living beings while the storms rage?

***

ACD is progressing dramatically and abruptly.

Hurricane Harvey led to the single largest rain event in US history, which was then followed in short order by Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded by satellites.

In Canada, rapidly thawing permafrost is already releasing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, which fuels a positive feedback loop of ACD: The warming atmosphere causes the permafrost to thaw and release CO2, which warms the atmosphere further, and the cycle feeds on itself. Another aspect of this that is particularly noteworthy is the fact that there is twice as much carbon locked up in the permafrost as there is in the atmosphere.

Another recent report showed that volcanic eruptions triggered one of the most rapid warming events in the Earth’s history, 56 million years ago. That means CO2 was the factor that caused the warming at that time, and this fact is underscored by the reality that current CO2 emission levels are even higher than they were then.

A paper from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, published in mid-September, warned of a small but distinct possibility that abrupt ACD could pose an “existential threat” to the survival of humans by 2050.

Scripps went on to propose two new classifications for ACD: catastrophic (meaning that the majority of humanity would struggle to adapt to the change) and existential (meaning that humanity would not be able to adapt to the change.)

Earth

recent study showed that deforestation has twice the negative impact on ACD as previously believed. Deforestation has two main negative impacts. First, the trees are burned and they immediately release their stored carbon into the atmosphere. Then, farms are created in their place, which go on to release other greenhouse gasses like methane and nitrous oxide. Furthermore, without trees to act as a carbon sink, less carbon dioxide is being removed from the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, trees continue to have a bad time of it, thanks to ACD impacts. Tree-killing beetles are spreading much more quickly into northern US forests, according to another recent study, due to increasingly warm temperatures driven by ACD. For example, southern pine beetles — one of the most aggressive tree-killing insects, which cause ecosystem harm and increase risk of forest fires — are moving northward as their ranges are expanding dramatically due to hotter temperatures.

Stunningly, data from Nevada’s Geodetic Lab showed that flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Houston pushed down the Earth’s crust two centimeters. This is because the amount of water released from the storm weighed 275 trillion pounds.

Another recent report showed that ACD could, indirectly, make earthquakes worse. For example, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes could be triggered by ACD impacts in this way: Melting glaciers remove water supplies for a city, which responds by building a large water reservoir. Reservoirs are often built along fault lines, so they lubricate the fault. This lubrication, coupled with draining and filling the reservoirs over the seasons, changes the water pressure at the bottom and creates instability and cracks, which can lead to more earthquakes.

Water

In the watery realms, there have been significant developments.

For the first time in history, in late August a tanker crossed the northern sea route without an icebreaker. A 300-meter long Russian commercial liquefied natural gas ship carried the gas from Norway to South Korea in just six and a half days, setting the record.

The ongoing and increasing loss of the Arctic summer sea ice is impacting the Atlantic Ocean water circulation system, according to a recent report from Yale news. Scientists said the ongoing loss of Arctic sea ice is playing a very active role in altering the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a current that plays a major role in both regional and global climate systems.

“Sea ice loss is clearly important among the mechanisms that could potentially contribute to AMOC collapse,” Wei Liu, a Yale postdoctoral associate, told Yale News.

Also speaking to Yale News, climate scientist Alexey Fedorov said,

“In our experiments we saw a potential loss of 30% to 50% of AMOC’s strength due to Arctic sea ice loss. That is a significant amount, and it would accelerate the collapse of AMOC if it were to occur.”

It’s worth noting that AMOC affects the climate of all of the countries on the Atlantic rim, especially those in Europe, but also has climate impacts far, far beyond those, including weather patterns around the entire globe.

A warmed atmosphere can hold more moisture, so epic flooding events should no longer come as a surprise to anyone paying attention to how the planet is responding to human-forced warming.

In August, flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal killed at least 1,200 people and displaced millions. Monsoon rains in India were so intense, a building in Mumbai collapsed from them, killing at least 21 people and trapping more than a dozen. Thirty-two million people were impacted by the flooding in India, while another 8.6 million in Bangladesh and 1.7 million in Nepal also suffered.

A recent book about sea-level rise, The Water Will Come, showed that 145 million people live less than three feet above sea level, which according to the author, Jeff Goodell, will create multiple generations of climate refugees. The book estimates there will be 200 million climate refugees by 2050 from sea level rise alone, and even discusses the possibility of seas rising 55 feet.

The flip side of this is drought.

recent report showed that the number of droughts plaguing Jordan could double by the year 2100 as a result of ACD. This is worrisome, given that the conflict in Syria has its roots in a multi-year drought that hit that country. Additionally, the warning for Jordan is ominous because that situation will be exacerbated by the fact that whenever the conflict in Syria does end, assuming that happens, farmers will return and resume their work, which will be an additional strain on already meager water supplies.

Fire

Recent Truthout articles have addressed the massive wildfires across the US West over the summer.

And the fires continued.

By early September, a wildfire in Oregon scorched the picturesque Columbia River Gorge and rained ash and burning embers across communities several miles away. At least 10,000 acres burned, sending hundreds of residents in the area to flee their homes.

Another recent report reminded us, again, how extreme heat and drought are fueling the wildfires. Heat and fire records were broken throughout the summer across the US and Canadian Wests, and the report predicted, of course, that these trends will continue and likely worsen over time.

Air

In the wake of the two major hurricanes that struck the US this season, while Harvey was still besieging Houston with record rains, climate scientist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress,

“The kind of stalled weather pattern that is drenching Houston is precisely the sort of pattern we expect because of climate change.”

Mann had, earlier in 2017, co-authored a study that showed how ACD is changing atmospheric circulation, including the jet stream, in a way that causes an “increase in persistent weather extremes” during summers.

The two major hurricanes caused scientists to express concern publicly that this may become the new normal for the planet.

“But historically unusual weather is no longer freakish,” wrote Jonathan Watts in The Guardian.

“The floods that hit Houston last week were described as a once-in-500-years event because records suggested there was only a 0.2% chance of such heavy rainfall. However, precedent is an increasingly unreliable guide in a changing climate. In the past three years, Texas has been hit by three 100- to 500-year events, according to local media.”

Another report from August revealed that global temperatures are rising much faster over land than over oceans, according to NASA data. In other words, overall warming is speeding up everywhere, but particularly over land, where we humans happen to live. The recently released data show that temperatures over land are warming approximately twice as fast as those over water, and the disparity in the warming over land compared to the oceans is increasing rapidly.

Denial and Reality

As usual, there is plenty of fodder on the ACD-denial front.

Not surprisingly, given the pathetic “coverage” corporate media has given (or, more accurately, not given at all) to ACD, mainstream media coverage of the recent major hurricanes to strike the US failed to even mention ACD, despite its critical impact on how rapidly each storm developed.

The Trump so-called administration continues to work feverishly and consistently to scrub any mention of ACD from government departments and websites.

The National Institutes of Health, over the summer, deleted several ACD references from its website. One report showed that there were at least five instances of “climate change” being changed to “climate” on the website.

A scientist with Northeastern University was asked to remove references to ACD from a grant proposal to ACD-denialist Rick Perry‘s Department of Energy (DOE).

“I have been asked to contact you to update the wording in your proposal abstract to remove words such as ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change,’ read a message the scientist received from an official at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, according to the Washington Post. “This is being asked as we have to meet the President’s budget language restrictions and we don’t want to make any changes without your knowledge or consent.”

Meanwhile, Trump recently named ACD-denier Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine from Oklahoma to run NASA. Bridenstine has zero scientific credentials, and had even demanded that then President Obama apologize for funding climate science research.

Also, a recent report underscored the reality that many of us have known for a long time: The 3 percent of scientific papers which deny that ACD is real are all flawed. Researchers attempted to replicate the results of the 3 percent of papers and found biased, faulty results.

“Every single one of those analyses had an error — in their assumptions, methodology, or analysis — that, when corrected, brought their results into line with the scientific consensus,” Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, wrote in a Facebook post.

Hayhoe worked with a team of researchers investigating 38 papers that denied ACD published in peer-reviewed journals in the last decade,.

On the reality front, France recently announced plans to end all oil and gas production in less than 25 years. France’s President Emmanuel Macron is aiming to make France carbon neutral by 2050.

Meanwhile, many are now questioning whether the UN’s Climate Assessment process has become obsolete. Why? Because the schedule of issuing large Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on ACD every seven years, which is the current model, is clearly too slow, given how rapidly ACD is progressing, and considering all the scientific research being done to keep pace.

Hayhoe, who has become a leading and very outspoken climate scientist, told Inside Climate News, the IPCC’s long process that produces its assessment reports is “obsolete, outdated, and a waste of experts’ valuable time.”

Lastly for this month — and quite disturbingly — a scientific paper published recently in the journal Science Advances, titled “Thresholds of Catastrophe in the Earth System,” shows that if humans continue adding carbon to the oceans as we are on course to do, a global mass extinction event could be triggered by 2100.

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Featured image is from Billy Wilson; Edited: LW / TO.

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Vote by Iraqi Kurds Adds to Tensions

October 4th, 2017 by Joe Lauria

Fireworks are already exploding here in Erbil as Iraqi Kurds rally in football stadiums and drive down thoroughfares, horns blaring and Kurdish flags flying, as though they are already a sovereign state as they gear up for an independence referendum from Iraq on Monday that is setting off political fireworks in the region.

It is a foregone conclusion that the independence vote will receive at least 90 percent support. It is also certain that the vote will not immediately change the legal status of the Iraqi Kurdish region from the semi-autonomy it already enjoys. But the possible overreaction of Baghdad and its neighbors to the vote has injected fear and uncertainty about what happens after Monday.

Longtime Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani has made it clear that a vote for independence does not mean an automatic declaration of independence, though many Kurds I’ve spoken to believe that after Monday Kurdistan will become sovereign. Instead Barzani has said he will use the referendum results as leverage in negotiations with the central government in Baghdad in the hope it eventually leads to Kurdish statehood.

“If it needs time, one year or at the latest two years, we can solve all the problems within these two years. And then we can say ‘goodbye’ in a friendly way,” Barzani said on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Baghdad and the Turkish government in Ankara have issued threats. Military intervention would be an extraordinary step, though, leaving the disputed city of Kirkuk as the most likely place where violence may erupt.

U.S. Opposed to Vote

The United States, which has been a strong ally of the Iraqi Kurds, has publicly opposed the referendum. Along with Europe, Washington says the timing threatens the Baghdad-Erbil alliance against ISIS, which hasn’t been totally crushed in Iraq.

The U.S. is playing hardball with the Kurds to get them to cancel the vote. The State Department on Thursday said,

“The United States urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders to accept the alternative, which is a serious and sustained dialogue with the central government, facilitated by the United States and United Nations, and other partners, on all matters of concern, including the future of the Baghdad-Erbil relationship.”

The U.S. pointedly said it would not back talks if the vote took place.

“If this referendum is conducted, it is highly unlikely that there will be negotiations with Baghdad, and the above international offer of support for negotiations will be foreclosed,” the State Department said.

After meetings in Baghdad and Erbil two weeks ago, Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, called the referendum “ill-advised,” “ill-timed,” and lacking “international legitimacy.”

Despite those statements and although there is no evidence, many people here in Erbil believe the U.S. is secretly backing the referendum and wants to break up Iraq.

Turkey Threatens Military Action

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2016. (UN Photo)

In his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to close the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, through which the Kurds sell 550,000 barrels of oil a day, illegally according to Baghdad, and depend on more than a billion dollars a years in food and other imports.

“We call on Iraqi Kurdish regional government to abort their referendum,” Erdogan said. “Ignoring Turkey can deprive the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government] of the opportunities they currently enjoy.“

Such a move would anger Turkish businesses dependent on trade with the Iraqi Kurds, however.

On Friday, the Turkish national security council issued a direct threat to Erbil.

“The illegitimacy of the referendum announced by the KRG … directly threatens Turkey’s national security … a grave mistake that threatens Iraq’s political unity and territorial integrity as well as peace, security and stability of the region,” it said in a statement.

On Saturday, the Turkish parliament extended a mandate for Turkish troop deployments to Syria and Iraq. The Turkish military has been conducting exercises near the Iraq border.

Erkan Akcay, a Turkish MP, said,

“With this motion we say categorically that we’re not joking about suddenly coming at night, or not playing games, and we can afford anything at all for the survival of Turkey.” He added: “The pirate referendum which is illegal and unacceptable should be cancelled before it is too late.”

Baghdad Incensed

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.

The Iraqi Supreme Court has declared the referendum unconstitutional. Earlier this month Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned he would send tanks to Erbil, a threat he later withdrew. At the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jaafari said,

“We reject the referendum which is trying to force Iraq to make decisions to keep unity.”

The disputes between Erbil and Baghdad are complex, but the two biggest problems are oil and disputed territories. Baghdad has withheld federal money from Erbil because it is independently selling oil at a discount through Turkey rather than through the central government.

The even bigger concerns are territories that both Baghdad and Erbil claim as theirs, especially the disputed city of Kirkuk. Perhaps the most brazen aspect of Barzani’s referendum is that he extended it to the areas under dispute.

Kirkuk has a complicated demographic history, allowing Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs to claim it as their own. The al-Tikriti family was the main Arab family in Kirkuk in the Seventeenth Century. A Kurdish tribe made it their capital in the Eighteenth Century. Turkmen have been present since the Eleventh Century, and became the majority as the Ottomans moved in more Turkmen in the early Twentieth Century.

By the Treaty of Ankara, registered with the League of Nations in 1926, Kirkuk became a part of the Kingdom of Iraq. Until the 1930s, Kirkuk was a largely Turkmen town, but after oil was discovered there was an influx of Arab and Kurdish workers. According to the 1957 census, the last one taken, Kirkuk city was 37,63 percent Iraqi Turkmen; 33.26 percent Kurdish; with Arabs and Assyrians making up less than 23 percent of its population

A short-lived 1970 autonomy agreement with the Kurds was ended in 1974 when a new law excluded Kurdish enclaves from oil-rich areas and the city’s boundaries were redrawn to create an Arab majority. From 1991 – the time of the first Gulf War – to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, about 500,000 Kurds were expelled from Kirkuk and surrounding towns, according to Human Rights Watch. Arab families were settled in their place.

More were expelled after the 1991 Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein. After the 2003 invasion, thousands of displaced Kurds moved into Kirkuk. In 2014, when ISIS attacked the city and Iraqi National Army troops fled, the Kurdish peshmerga took control.

There has been no census taken since 1957, creating confusion about the city’s current demography. A planned referendum in 2007 for the people of Kirkuk to decide whether they wanted to belong to Baghdad or Erbil has never been held.

Barzani’s decision to include Kirkuk and other disputed areas in the referendum has incensed Baghdad. Last week, the central government dismissed the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk governorate, but he refused to step down.

Iran’s Interests

Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. 22 September 2016 (UN Photo)

Turkmen, who were once the majority, are vehemently opposed to Kurdish independence and are expected to boycott the vote. The leader of a Shia militia warned earlier this month that his group had a green light from its backers in Teheran to attack Kirkuk.

The Imam Ali Division’s spokesman Ayoub Faleh said the city would be attacked if it became part of a Kurdish state.

“Kirkuk belongs to Iraq,” Faleh said. “We would by no means give up on Kirkuk even if this were to cause major bloodshed.”

Hadi al-Amiri, secretary-general of the Badr Organization, an Iraqi party close to Iran, said the organization would also fight.

“We will resort to arms if we [as Iraqis] establish a federal system on an ethnic or sectarian basis,” Amiri said in a Sept. 4 interview with the Kurdish channel Rudaw.

Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said this month there would be “implications” if the Kurds leave Iraq.

“The republic of Iran has opened its legitimate border gates on the premise of the consent of the federal government of the Iraqi state. If such an event [referendum] happens, these border gates from the perspective of the Islamic Republic of Iran would lose its legitimacy,” Shamkhani told Iranian state news agency IRIB.

At the request of the Baghdad government, Iran on Sunday closed its air space for all flights originating from Iraqi Kurdistan. It remains to be seen if Ankara and Baghdad follow suit, which would cut off land-locked Iraqi Kurdistan from the outside world.

Russia has maintained a low public profile on the Iraqi Kurdish question. Russians officials have said they prefer Iraq to remain united but that independence was a legitimate aspiration. As the Kurds will not declare independence immediately, the attention being focused on it by the U.S., Turkey, Iran and Baghdad has only ratcheted up tensions. But will it lead to military conflict?

Chances of Military Intervention

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Iraq and Iran met last week n New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and said they would coordinate their response to the referendum.

Turkey and Iran’s greatest concern is the effect the referendum may have on its own Kurdish populations. For more than a year Turkey has been engaged in renewed warfare against Turkish Kurdish rebels. Iran periodically crushes uprisings in its Kurdish areas. Neither country would gain from diverting resources to Iraqi Kurdistan away from their own Kurdish populations. 

Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani. (U.S. government photo)

Barzani said at a press conference on Sunday that Iraqi Kurds “support peaceful solution in those countries but we do not support violence to settle the Kurdish question in those countries.”

Though I’ve heard fear here of Iranian military intervention, such a move would hand a perfect casus belli to the United States and Israel to attack Iran, something Teheran certainly does not want to provoke.

A joint military operation of Turkey, Iran and the Iraqi National Army might gain some victories, though the peshmerga are hardened fighters, who would be motivated by self-defense. Also political will and resources would surely be tested in all three capitals if a long-term occupation were attempted against a Kurdish insurgency.

Turkey this week returned troops to Syria to put down Syrian Kurdish aspirations there. As the irredentist Turkish President Erdogan himself has questioned the post-World I settlement that gave Iraq the Ottoman’s Mosul Vilayet, which included Kurdish areas and Kirkuk, military adventurism on his part cannot be ruled out.

But military intervention is unrealistic. The Prime Minister of the Kurdish region, Nechirvan Barzani, said last week:

“I do not see any military attack at all on the Kurdistan Region. It is impossible to happen. Military threats against what? Against the referendum? I do not foresee that at all. Even if they take other measures, as allegedly they are going to do, but military option is impossible.”

“Turkey is free to do whatever it wants to do within its own boundaries. So is Iran,” said Barzani, a nephew of the president. “But if it is expected that they will come and use military means against a referendum being held in Kurdistan – it is impossible. They will not do such things, because it is not in their interest.”

What Makes a State?

Do the Iraqi Kurds have a legal argument for statehood? The Montevideo Convention of 1933 laid out the requirements for statehood in customary international law.

“The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” “The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states,” the Convention says. The Kurds of Iraq qualify on all four points.

But there is another theory of statehood going back to the Fourteenth Century and affirmed by the 1815 Congress of Vienna, namely that a sovereign state depends on recognition by other states. So far only one nation has declared it would recognize Kurdish independence from Iraq: Israel.

“(Israel) supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state,” said Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 13.

The motive can be seen in Israel’s longstanding defensive position to weaken Arab states surrounding them. ( I’ve learned from a source close to Barzani that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates privately support the referendum, but neither country has said so publicly.)

The Palestinians meet the same legal requirements of a state and in addition have more than 130 nations recognizing Palestinian statehood. The U.N. in 2012 granted Palestine Observer State status. Like the Kurds, however, the Palestinians face political and not legal obstacles. The opposition of Israel, which occupies its lands, and the United States, has so far made Palestinian statehood politically impossible.

Dream of Long-Suffering Kurds

The borders drawn by the secret 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement, divided Kurds inside the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. In the 1920 Treaty of Sevres between Britain and France and the defeated Ottomans, the Kurds were promised a future state in northern Iraq. Based on that, in 1922 Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji declared a Kurdish Kingdom, but it was crushed by two years of British aerial bombardment.

During those two years, in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne Britain and France withdrew their promise to the Kurds and turned Kurdish areas over to Baghdad. Except for Barzinji’s short-lived Kurdish Kingdom and the Mahabad Republic in northern Iran in 1946, which lasted only a year before the Iranian government executed its leaders, Kurds have never had their own state.

A young Kurdish supporter for independence from Iraq, Erbil, Iraq, Sept. 22, 2017. (Photo credit: Joe Lauria)

The 1958 Iraqi Constitution declared that “the Arabs and Kurds are associated in this nation.”  But that ended five years later when the Baath Party came to power. To weaken the Baath’s links with Moscow, the U.S., Israel and Iran supplied Iraqi Kurds to rebel against Baghdad in 1972. This lasted for three years until Iran and Iraq settled their differences in the Algiers agreement, backed by Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State. That suddenly cut off Iran’s support for the Iraqi Kurds, and allowed years of repression from Baghdad to culminate in the massacre by Saddam Hussein of as many as 5,000 Kurdish civilians with poison gas in Halabja in 1988.

Kurdish uprisings in the neighboring nations have been likewise crushed over the decades. Turkey has fought a 30-year war against a Kurdish insurgency demanding independence. Iran has periodically cracked down on its Kurdish population.

In 2004, the Syrian government put down Kurdish protests. Syrian Kurds have gained a measure autonomy from Damascus since joining the fight against ISIS, but aspirations for a Syrian autonomous state in a proposed Syrian federation still faces government opposition and will likely be resolved one way or the other once the six-year-old Syrian war ends.

Iraqi Kurdish Autonomy

Since the U.S. attack on Iraq in 1991, the Kurdish population of roughly 8.4 million in the north has enjoyed a large measure of autonomy from Baghdad.

At the end of the first Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush called for the Shia in the south and the Kurds of the north to rebel against Saddam Hussein. They did but Bush did not back up his words with military support, and both were slaughtered. Kurds rushed to the mountains towards Turkey, where they were trapped when Ankara closed the border. The U.S. then led a no-fly zone in the north and south, which protected the Kurds and gave them a measure of autonomy from Baghdad.

The Kurdish Regional Government now has its own flag, its own government ministries, its own army, its own parliament (which met for the first time in two years last week to approve the referendum), and issues its own visas to foreign visitors. But Kurds here still carry Iraqi passports and deal in Iraqi dinars and U.S. dollars. The fight against ISIS and the drop in oil prices hit this region hard, with government workers going months without being paid.

Economic infrastructure for a modern state is lacking. There is no rail service and the first stretch of a highway was opened only this year within the city of Erbil. It does not link with other Kurdish cities. There is no national Kurdish museum in Erbil.

In 2005, the Kurds held a referendum, which passed with 98.8 percent favoring independence from Iraq. Kirkuk also voted 98.8 percent in favor. Nothing came of the referendum however.

In January 2016 Barzani, who was born in 1946 in the short-lived Mahabad Republic, declared that the Sykes-Picot era was over and called for a referendum, which he postponed until ISIS was defeated. Mosul was liberated this summer, opening the way for the vote.

Given the large degree of autonomy this region enjoys and the negative consequences that can come from holding the vote Monday, there appears to be little material benefit that can come from the referendum. The idea of Kurdistan as a U.N. observer state is far-fetched.

But the Kurdish decision is beyond the realm of pragmatism. It may seem a flight of dangerous romanticism to outsiders. But to the long-suffering Kurds, who have been mistreated by their neighbors for decades, if not centuries, there appears to be no choice.

“We are ready to pay any price for our independence,” Barzani told the press conference on Sunday.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist. He has written for the Boston Globe, the Sunday Times of London and the Wall Street Journal among other newspapers. He is the author of How I Lost By Hillary Clinton published by OR Books in June 2017. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

Featured image is from the author.

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The economic crisis in Greece had a substantial impact on certain ages and overall shortens life expectancy rates, an Imperial College London study says

A group of researchers studied life expectancy by 2030 in 35 countries across the world, including Greece.

“In Greece in recent years there has been an increase in mortality at certain ages and this is probably related to the difficult economic situation in the country. The result was a slowing down of the life expectancy rate, which would remain low under these conditions,” Vasilis Kontis, one of the researchers, told Kathimerini newspaper.

Life expectancy in Greece was on the rise since the 1960s until the beginning of the current decade. Up until 2012, life expectancy for women was around 83 years and 78 for men.

“The impact of the crisis is significant, as Greece has drastically cut spending on health. Countries with a rapid increase in life expectancy are those with strong health systems and healthcare and public health successes, such as the prognosis and treatment of chronic diseases or the reduction of obesity and smoking,” Kontis said.

In order for a country to have its citizens live longer, policies should be in place to ensure a good quality of life for the elderly and help to avoid the burden on the health system.

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