Earth Day 2017: Humans Are The Most Destructive Species On Earth

By Pratap Antony, April 20, 2017

Our planet is not in danger. Humans are in danger. From ourselves. Humankind is on the road to extinguish ourselves. Sooner rather than later. The future for all of us is bleak. The planet will continue as it has for the 99% of the time before man, it will adjust and continue. Perhaps with other life forms, other vegetation, other landscapes.

Life on Earth is Dying. Thousands of Species Cease to Exist. Homo Sapiens is the Cause

By Robert J. Burrowes, April 20, 2017

You and I are on the brink of driving to extinction some of the most iconic species alive today. For a photo gallery of threatened species, some of which are ‘critically endangered’, see ‘World’s wildlife being pushed to the edge by humans – in pictures’.

Earth Day is no longer about Celebration: Uranium Contamination Across America, Holding the Silent Killers Of Environmental Destruction Accountable

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, April 21, 2017

Earth Day is no longer about celebration. We are making Mother Earth sick by using extreme methods to extract fuels from her mountains and from beneath her surface and by massive spills of oil, chemicals and radiation. We must mobilize ourselves to take action now to create clean renewable energy and to restore the damage we have done.

From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial by Colin Todhunter, April 22, 2017

Earth Day came a few days after the legal opinion offered by the five international judges who presided over the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague. The judges concluded that Monsanto has engaged in practices that have impinged on the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food and the right to health. Monsanto’s conduct also has had a negative impact on the right of scientists to freely conduct indispensable research.

Self-Assured Destruction, The Climate Impacts of Nuclear War. Mass Starvation, Ozone Depletion by Alan Robock and Owen Brian Toon, April 22, 2017

Even a “small” nuclear war between India and Pakistan, with each country detonating 50 Hiroshima-size atom bombs—only about 0.03 percent of the global nuclear arsenal’s explosive power—as air bursts in urban areas, could produce so much smoke that temperatures would fall below those of the Little Ice Age of the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, shortening the growing season around the world and threatening the global food supply.

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World Environment Day (WED) occurs on 5 June every year. Promoted by the United Nations, its aim is to encourage global awareness and action for the protection of the environment. Since its inauguration in 1974, WED has helped bring attention to various issues, including global warming, sustainable consumption and wildlife crime.

We also have Earth Day, celebrated annually on 22 April. On this day. various events are held across the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day dates back to 1970.

Given the threats to the environment, these two symbolic days in the calendar promote laudable aims. For instance, consider that a range of species are endangered due to poaching and habitat destruction. The scaly anteater is probably the most trafficked mammal on earth. Over a million of these have been taken from the wild in the past decade alone. The illegal trade in live apes is also rife, and many other species across the planet are being trafficked.

The vast illegal trade in wildlife products is pushing whole species towards extinction, including elephants, rhinos, big cats, gorillas and sea turtles. Driven by a growing demand for illegally sourced wildlife products, the illicit trade has escalated into a global crisis. Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives.

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on UN agencies and various partners to provide a co-ordinated response to wildlife crime and spread the message that there should be zero tolerance for poaching. As part of a wider approach, a strategy is being developed to create greater public awareness of the issue at hand, which will hopefully lead to reduced demand for wildlife products.

Palm oil and environmental destruction

As commendable as these aims are, however, on their own they will not be enough to save species or their habitat. That’s because the interests of powerful actors must be taken into account and the economic system they perpetuate has to be challenged.

For instance, between 2000 and 2009 Indonesia supplied more than half of the global palm oil market at an annual expense of some 340,000 hectares of Indonesian countryside. Planned expansion could wipe out the remaining natural habitat of several endangered species.

This is a ludicrous situation considering that Brazil and Indonesia spent over 100 times more in subsidies to industries that cause deforestation than they received in international conservation aid from the UN to prevent it. The two countries gave over $40bn in subsidies to the palm oil, timber, soy, beef and biofuels sectors between 2009 and 2012, some 126 times more than the $346m they received to preserve their rain forests.

If we want to see how not to manage the world’s wildlife and natural habitats, we need look no further than India, which is the world’s leading importer of palm oil, accounting for around 15% of the global supply. India imports over two-­thirds of its palm oil from Indonesia.

Until the mid-1990s, India was virtually self-sufficient in edible oils. Under pressure from the WTO, import tariffs were reduced, leading to an influx of cheap (subsidised) edible oil imports that domestic farmers could not compete with. This was a deliberate policy that effectively devastated the home-grown edible oils sector (see this) and served the interests of palm oil growers and US grain and agriculture commodity company Cargill, which helped write international trade rules to secure access to the Indian market on its terms.

Indonesia leads the world in global palm oil production, but palm oil plantations have too often replaced tropical forests, leading to the killing of endangered species and the uprooting of local communities as well as contributing to the release of climate-changing gases (see this analysis). Indonesia emits more greenhouse gases than any country besides China and the US and that’s largely due to the production of palm oil.

The issue of palm oil is one example from the many that could be provided to highlight how the drive to facilitate corporate need and profit trumps any notion of environmental protection. Whether it is in Indonesia, Latin America or elsewhere, transnational agribusiness – and the system of industrialised agriculture it promotes – fuels much of the environmental destruction we see today.

Without addressing the impacts and nature of corporate imperialism and a wholly corrupt neoliberal capitalism that privileges corporations and profit ahead of people and conservation, Earth Day or World Environment Day will continue to send out a valuable message but will have minimal impact.

The devastating nature of chemical-intensive industrial farming, its geopolitical role and its massive environmental, social and health costs has been highlighted at length in previous article I’ve written. There is no need to go over this again here. But one of the guilty parties which perpetuates this model of agriculture is of course Monsanto.

The Monsanto Tribunal

Earth Day came a few days after the legal opinion offered by the five international judges who presided over the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague. The judges concluded that Monsanto has engaged in practices that have impinged on the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food and the right to health. Monsanto’s conduct also has had a negative impact on the right of scientists to freely conduct indispensable research.

The judges additionally concluded that a gap remains between the commitments and the reality of environmental protection. The Tribunal concluded that if ecocide were formally recognised as a crime in international criminal law, the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute a crime of ecocide too.

The Tribunal called for the need to assert the primacy of international human and environmental rights law. However, it was also careful to note that an existing set of legal rules is currently in place to protect investors’ rights in the framework of the World Trade Organization and in bilateral investment treaties and in clauses in free-trade agreements.

These provisions undermine the capacity of nations to maintain policies, laws and practices protecting human and environmental rights, not least because key questions of human and environmental rights violations are to be resolved by private tribunals operating entirely outside the United Nations framework and the legal systems of nation states (see ‘Clear and Present Danger to Democracy‘, which highlights the disturbing shift in power as a result of investor trade dispute settlement provisions written into trade and investment agreements).

The Tribunal denounced the severe disparity between the rights of multinational corporations and their obligations.

Capitalism on trial

While the Monsanto Tribunal saw that company being put on trial and being found guilty of human rights violations, including crimes against the environment, in a sense we also witnessed global capitalism on trial.

Monsanto and other powerful corporations can only operate as they do because of a framework designed to allow them to capture governments and regulatory bodies, to use the WTO and bilateral trade deals to lever global influence, to profit on the back of US militarism (Iraq) and destabilisations (Ukraine), to exert undue influence over science and politics and to rake in enormous profits.

The World Bank’s ‘Enabling the Business of Agriculture’ and its ongoing commitment to a wholly corrupt and rigged model of globalisation is a further recipe for plunder, corruption and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few. Whether it involves Monsanto, Cargill or the type of corporate power grab of African agriculture that Bill Gates is helping to spearhead, global capitalism (under the project of ‘globalisation’) will continue to ensure this happens while hiding behind platitudes about ‘free trade’ and ‘development’.

Brazil and Indonesia are subsidising private corporations to effectively destroy the environment through their practices. Canada and the UK are working with the GMO biotech sector to facilitate its needs. And India is facilitating the destruction of its agrarian base according to World Bank directives for the benefit of the likes of Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill.

“The Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture with agribusinesses like Monsanto, WalMart, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and ITC in its Board made efforts to turn the direction of agricultural research and policy in such a manner as to cater their demands for profit maximisation. Companies like Monsanto during the Vietnam War produced tonnes and tonnes of “Agent Orange” unmindful of its consequences for Vietnamese people as it raked in super profits and that character remains.” Communist Party of India (Marxist)

These powerful corporations increasingly hold sway over a globalised system of food and agriculture from seed to plate. And with major mergers within the agribusiness sector in the pipeline, power will be further monopolised and the situation is likely to worsen. The overall narrative about farming has been shaped to benefit the interests of this handful of wealthy, politically influential corporations whereby commercial interest trumps any notion of the public good.

We require transparency, accountability and a system of decision making that does not take place within the overbearing shadow of commercial influence. However, in capitalism, the state’s primary role is to secure the interests of private capital. The institutions of globalised capitalism – from the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO right down to the compliant bureaucracies of national states or supranational unions – facilitate private wealth accumulation that results in the forms of structural inequalities and violence (unemployment, poverty, population displacement, bad food, poor health, environmental destruction, etc.) that have become ‘accepted’ as necessary (for ‘growth’) and taken for granted within mainstream media and political narratives.

When referring to Western countries, those narratives like to use the euphemism ‘austerity’ for deregulation, privatisation and gross inequalities and hardship, while hiding being the mantra ‘there is no alternative’. When referring to places like India or Africa, they use the euphemism ‘assisting development’ for corporate imperialism, while hiding behind the term ‘investing in’.

In the cynical world of ‘free’ market capitalism, an interlocking directorate of corporate interests have for a long time ensured that state institutions and international bodies are shaped and manipulated to facilitate the interests of private capital.

If the current myths about the necessity for perpetuating the stranglehold of capitalism go unchallenged and real alternatives are not offered or supported, we will see accelerated environmental destruction and human rights violations by powerful private interests and a dangerous march towards increasing militarism and possible nuclear conflict as a moribund capitalism approaches its ultimate crisis.

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Criminal Media Messaging, Black Propaganda

By Mark Taliano, April 21, 2017

US-led NATO supports terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria. Same story. Corporate cartoon news amounts to war propaganda.

The West supports terrorism. Period.

The terrorists are proxies for the West.

Terrorism also includes illegal sanctions, and illegal bombing, and other genocidal strategies.

Chlorine, Not Sarin, Was Used In The Khan Sheikhun Incident

By Moon of Alabama, April 21, 2017

The OPCW did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred in Khan Sheikhun. It suggested nothing about the incident itself. It only talked about bio-medical samples of several persons – nothing more, nothing less. It also did not give any hint of how much exposure the persons in question received. Was it a minimal traceable amount that had no effect on them or did they die from it? The OPCW does not say.

Syria: Media Cover Up of Crimes Committed by US Backed Al Qaeda “Rebels”

By Whitney Webb, April 20, 2017

The media has worked to flip the narrative to glorify the rebels and frame any atrocities committed by them as having been perpetrated by the Syrian government. The BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN are the most prominent examples.

Fake News and False Flags against Syria: Why the Assad Government Most Likely Did Not Commit the Gas Attacks in Khan Shaykhun

By Gregor Flock, April 21, 2017

Former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford likewise states that it is “highly unlikely” (0:10) that either Syria or Russia were behind the gas attacks, also since “we know for a fact that the Jihadis were storing chemical weapons in schools in Eastern Aleppo, because these were seen later by Western journalists” (0:40).

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On April 20, the northern Hama frontline experienced a major breakthrough when government forces, led by the Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces and 5th Legion, captured the strategic militant-held town of Taibat al-Imam.

Government forces had entered the town from the southeastern direction following intense artillery and air strikes and pushed members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and allied militant groups to withdraw from the town after a 8-hours long battle. After the withdrawal of the so-called opposition, pro-militant media activists released a number of contradictory reports that up to 80 “regime soldiers” were killed in the clashes. Nevertheless, with no proofs this looked like a wishful thinking. In turn, two leaders of Jaish al-Izza, “Saher al-Saleh” and “Muhammad Jallad” were confirmed to be killed as a result of the artillery strikes.

HTS, Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Izza sent large reinforcements to the area and launched a powerful counter-attack. Clashes were ongoing in the town during the night. By the April 21 morning, the Tiger Forces and the 5th Legion reportedly regained the initiative once again pushing militants from the town.

On April 20, government forces also attempted to advance on Halfaya and al-Tarabia but the attack was repelled. Since then, militant positions in Halfaya and in the nearby areas have been under artillery shelling.

If government forces fully secure the Taibat al-Imam, this will lead to a collapse of militant defenses around the town and Halfaya will become the next major target of the operation.

The 5th Corps leadership has reportedly opened its headquarters in the northern Hama countryside. The Syrian Arab Army’s group is now working to increase the number of volunteers in its ranks in order to expand military operations across Syria. Commanders of the 5tn Corps declared that the current objective of the Syrian Army is to liberate the entire countryside of Hama from HTS and its allies and then the eastern Salamya countryside from ISIS.

A Russian military adviser has been killed during clashes with militants in a Syrian government forces camp, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on April 20. According to the ministry, Major Sergei Bordov was in the camp with a group of Russian military advisers training Syrian soldiers when the militant attack took place. Bordov helped establish the defense line and directed Syrian troops during the clashes. It is not clear in which part of Syria the incident took place.

Ussoud Al-Shatkiah [one of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups] captured the Al-Alyaniyah area, east of the “abandoned military base” in the Syrian Desert, according to pro-militant sources. According pro-FSA sources, in the coming weeks Syria will witness a start of the widely expected military operation supported by US-led coalition forces and a direct participation of some Jordanian and US forces. The operation will aim to capture the Syrian Desert all the long to the strategic town of Al-Bukamal at the Iraqi-Syrian border. These forces will also work on destroying the Al-Khalid Army, a part of ISIS in the western Daraa countryside. FSA groups that will allegedly participate in the operation are the Army of Al-Asha’er, Ussoud Al-Shatkiah Army, and Maghawir Al-Thawra Army. Earlier reports appeared, that the US was concentrating troops and military equipment at the Syrian-Jordanian border.

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The greatest threat to humanity is nuclear war.

While public opinion is largely misinformed, US “decision-makers” including president Trump are also unaware and misinformed as to the consequences of their actions. Multi-billion dollar bonanza for the Military-Industrial Complex:  “Scientific opinion” on contract to Pentagon presents tactical nuclear as “peace-making” bombs. 

Global Research will be featuring on a regular basis a number of articles and reports on the dangers of nuclear war focussing on the scientific, policy and military dimensions.

Forward this article.

The objective is to build a cohesive and Worldwide campaign against nuclear weapons. 

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, April 21, 2017

A nuclear war between Russia and the United States, even after the arsenal reductions planned under New START, could produce a nuclear winter. Hence, an attack by either side could be suicidal, resulting in self-assured destruction.

Even a “small” nuclear war between India and Pakistan, with each country detonating 50 Hiroshima-size atom bombs—only about 0.03 percent of the global nuclear arsenal’s explosive power—as air bursts in urban areas, could produce so much smoke that temperatures would fall below those of the Little Ice Age of the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, shortening the growing season around the world and threatening the global food supply.

Furthermore, there would be massive ozone depletion, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to reach Earth’s surface. Recent studies predict that agricultural production in parts of the United States and China would decline by about 20 percent for four years, and by 10 percent for a decade.

The environmental threat posed by even a small number of nuclear weapons must be considered in nuclear policy deliberations. Military planners now treat the environmental effects as collateral damage, and treaties currently consider only the number of weapons needed to assure destruction of opposing forces. Instead, treaties must call for further reductions in weapons so that the collateral effects do not threaten the continued survival of the bulk of humanity. Proliferation cannot be treated as a regional problem.

A regional conflict has the potential to cause mass starvation worldwide through environmental effects.

A meteorologist, Alan Robock is associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University, where he is a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences. His expertise is in the environmental effects of aerosols in the atmosphere–whether from volcanoes, pollution, geoengineering, or nuclear weapons. He currently serves on the editorial board of Reviews of Geophysics.

Owen Brian Toon is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and a research associate at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He leads a research group that studies aerosols and cloud physics, and investigates climate and atmospheric chemistry on Earth and other planetary bodies.

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Further False Accusations of Gas Attacks

The stories of the Syrian government’s alleged use of gas against its own people never stopped since 2013 despite clear indications of terrorist rebels being the actual perpetrators or at least propagandists behind them. To quote from this 2015 CounterPunch article:

On October 1, 2014, the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that the elimination of prohibited chemical weapons and facilities in Syria had been successfully completed. It was a remarkable achievement and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

According to its report, in May 2014, an OPCW team tried to investigate at the site of alleged chlorine gas attacks. The Syrian government gave the OPCW team passage to the rebel controlled area but the convoy was attacked by a rebel faction. None of the team members was injured but that stopped their on-site investigation. Instead, the OPCW worked with the well-funded opposition-supporting Violations Documentation Center to arrange interviews with numerous people from three villages. The interviews were conducted outside Syria, probably in Turkey. They gathered photographs, videos and other evidence and expressed “high confidence that chlorine had been used as a weapon in Syria” in three villages. They did not ascribe responsibility.

This 2017 Consortium News article is clear about which party actually was behind the alleged chlorine gas attacks in 2014:

United Nations investigators received testimonies from Syrian eyewitnesses regarding another attempt by Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists and their “rescue” teams to stage a chlorine attack in the town of Al-Tamanah on the night of April 29–30, 2014, and then spread word of the bogus attack through social media.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the U.N. report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

So Assad hands over his chemical weapons to the OPCW and allows them to conduct their investigations. The Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels, on the other hand, attack the OPCW, spread lies about gas attacks and loot the homes of civilians. Conclusion: “It was Assad’s gas!” Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

The April 4, 2017, Gas Attacks in Khan Shaykhun

Fast forward to 2017. After having gone through all the trouble with the false flag gas attacks or respective propaganda and fake news ever since 2013, the notion that Assad would do the anti-Assad forces the huge favor of committing PR-seppuku by actually carrying out gas attacks against the civilian population is so ridiculous as to be almost beyond imagination. To once again quote from the same CounterPunch article:

On March 30, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the future leader of Syria should be determined by the people of Syria.

This major policy statement by the US took regime change off the table, and was obviously great news for Bashar al-Assad. Combined with Syrian military gains on the ground, Assad was in the strongest position he’d been in since the war in Syria began.

So, why 5 days later would he gas his own people?

To give the U.S. a good excuse to missile strike Syrian military installations? To strengthen international opposition against his regime? Because Assad does not like victory? Most likely not. When crimes such as these are committed, the two standard questions to consider are “Who could have pulled it off?” and cui bono or “Who stood to gain from it?” Assad could have pulled it off, but that is also true for the Al-Nusra Front rebels who already perpetrated such an attack in 2013 with the help of outside forces. As confirmed by the events that unfolded after the attacks, however, it was not Assad but only the rebels and other anti-Assad forces that would be the primary beneficiaries of these attacks. Despite being a ‘morally flexible’ son of a dictator and a dictator himself, it is therefore rather unlikely that Assad ordered the attacks and rather likely that the attacks were committed by anti-Assad forces, also given that pretty much the same thing already happened in 2013.

Gregor Flock is an independent philosopher (univie.academia.edu/GregorFlock), independent journalist, Global Civil Society Network founder & ed.-in-chief (www.gcsno.org/my-blog/).

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Earth Day 2017. This article was first published in April 2014

The findings of the most recent IPCC report are sobering. We have 15 years to mitigate climate disaster. It is up to us to make a major transition to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy within that time-frame. Big Energy and our plutocratic government are not going to do it without effective pressure from a people-powered movement.

Earth Day is no longer about celebration. We are making Mother Earth sick by using extreme methods to extract fuels from her mountains and from beneath her surface and by massive spills of oil, chemicals and radiation. We must mobilize ourselves to take action now to create clean renewable energy and to restore the damage we have done.

More people are getting this concept. This year, there are several major campaigns around Earth Day, for example the Global Climate Convergence and the Cowboy Indian Alliance camp in Washington, DC. We celebrated Earth Day by launching a new national campaign to clean up the thousands of abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) scattered throughout the Great Plains and West Coast.

Uranium: The Invisible Killer

In the days leading up to the launch of Clean Up the Mines campaign, our team of eleven organizers toured Southwest South Dakota to learn more about the AUMs. Our tour was led by Charmaine White Face, a scientist and coordinator of Defenders of the Black Hills, who took us to various sites and brought her Geiger counters. There are 272 AUMs in South Dakota that continue to emit radiation, radon and toxic elements into the air, water and land. The mines were abandoned by corporations like Kerr McGee and Atlantic Richfield who walked away from them when the Uranium Rush that started in the early 1950s was over. We described this in more detail in our previous article about how uranium mines are poisoning the breadbasket of America.

The Northern Great Plains Region of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota contain more than 3,000 AUMs. There are more than 1,000 AUMs in Arizona and New Mexico. In total, in the 15 western states there are estimated to be more than 10,000 AUMsOne in 7 people in the western US live within 50 miles of an AUM, according to the EPA. This is a national environmental crisis – a silent Fukushima – for which responsibility needs to be taken.

Researchers have found that the Madison Aquifer, which provides drinking water to 90% of South Dakota’s population, has been contaminated by uranium. In addition to South Dakota, the Madison Aquifer is beneath the ground in parts of Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and Nebraska. It is not only aquifers that are impacted, the water run-off from AUM’s affect the Grand River, Moreau River, Belle Fourche River, Cheyenne River and Missouri River.

Due to uranium contamination in the Colorado River, the drinking water supply for half of the population of the Western US may already be radioactive. Mining near the Colorado River, which flows through the Grand Canyon, threatens the drinking water supplies of millions of people in cities like Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Samples from 15 springs and 5 wells in the Grand Canyon exhibited dissolved uranium concentrations greater than the EPA maximum for drinking water.

Toxic, radioactive substances from AUMs take the form of dust which travels with the wind for hundreds of miles. Uranium is a silent health threat. As it breaks down, it releases radon, an odorless gas that causes lung disease and cancer. It also emits gamma radiation and radioactive alpha and beta particles, which can cause severe damage to cells if they are released from within the body after when a person drinks contaminated water or inhales contaminated dust. The dust can blow into streams or mix with nearby soil, spreading radioactive contamination.

The adverse health impacts of radiation include cancer and other organ damage, especially during fetal development and in young children. Higher incidences of childhood leukemia, respiratory failure and kidney disease have been recorded near uranium mine sites. Uranium in water has been associated with increased kidney disease.

The health impacts of this silent killer are widespread. Yet, where is the accountability for the corporations who profited from these mines? Where are the federal and state governments responsible for the environment and the health and safety of the population? Those responsible are not being held sufficiently accountable.

South Dakota Tour

Our first stop on the tour was Mount Rushmore which has 169 AUMs within a 50 mile range. We pulled over at a scenic area outside of the monument and measured the radioactivity in the soil which was 15 microrems/hour (52.5 Counts/minute). We entered the park and interviewed White Face in view of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. She told us that the more than 2 million people who visit Mt Rushmore each year are unaware that they are being exposed to radiation. In order to raise awareness, we donned hazardous material suits and walked with a large banner that said “It’s time to clean up the mines!”

The next day we visited Riley Pass, located on National Forest Service land; it is one of the largest AUMs in South Dakota. The deadly effect of the mine was apparent from a distance. As we approached the bluff, the tree line ended abruptly at the edge of the mine. When we parked and walked towards the mine, we encountered a warning sign which said “Danger!” and “Stay out, Stay alive.”

The Forest Service acknowledges the risks at Riley Pass, writing that approximately 250 acres have been identified for needing reclamation and clean-up. They describe the site as containing elevated radioactive materials, and heavy metals including onsite mine waste, fine-grained particles which are readily dispersed by wind and surface water erosion. Concentrations of these dangerous toxins range up to “ten times higher for sediment samples in impacted drainages and several hundred times higher for mine waste samples.” They also note that livestock drink water and eat grasses that are toxic from the uranium mine.

A 2007 action memorandum on Riley Pass done by the Forest Service found that the site posed “an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, or welfare or the environment.” There has been minimal inadequate action taken to contain the toxins from the AUMs.  The actions taken do not prevent leaching into the groundwater and are more akin to landscaping than to the type of action that is needed. A recent settlement of a lawsuit against Tronox, the corporations responsible for the AUM, will provide $179 million for Riley’s Pass clean-up. This inadequate amount is the only funding for South Dakota out of the $5.2 billion settlement. It leaves the other 271 mines without any provisions for clean-up.

From Riley’s Pass we went to Ludlow, a nearby town. An elementary school is located a short 200 meters from an AUM. We could see the high rounded wall of the open pit. Using the Geiger counter we measured radioactivity throughout the school are, the highest were in the soil next to a small picnic table at the children’s playground. It read 44 microrems/hour (154 Counts/minute) and the air tested at 34 microrems/hour when the wind was still. We calculated that the radioactivity is close to four times the level allowed for families to return to Fukushima.

During the tour, we met people at road stops and during our visits to the mine areas. People from every community spoke of health problems which are commonly related to uranium exposure and their high level of concern over the lack of information about the AUMs and action to remediate them. Many said they had been reassured that the risks were low. However, based on the presence of the mines, the numerous reports of high rates of cancer and disease and the high readings that we measured, we believe that independent studies should be performed to accurately assess the magnitude of the risk and the health impacts.

The People Need to Mobilize to Clean Up The Mines!

On Earth Day, the launch of the Clean Up The Mines! campaign took place near Red Shirt Village on the banks of the dead and poisoned Cheyenne River. The 295 mile long Cheyenne River which runs through Wyoming and South Dakota is damaged by thousands of AUM’s in Wyoming according to a 2006 study by the South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Water Monitoring Program. The residents can’t use the river and can’t drink the water from their wells because of uranium and arsenic contamination.

White Face told us that she tested the river water previously for life and found one crayfish after dragging a net for a hundred feet. A local resident pointed to the dead Cotton Wood trees on the river banks and ranchers told us of their difficulty obtaining clean water for their livestock.

Dozens from the community joined with members of organizations including Defenders of Black Hills, Clean Water Alliance, Dakota Rural Action, Peace Pagoda, Veterans for Peace, the Global Climate Convergence and Popular Resistance at the Cheyenne River Bridge. We posted signs stating “Warning, Radioactive River” to raise awareness of the toxic contamination of the Cheyenne River caused by AUMs because there are no permanent signs.

White Face said:

“For the American public to be exposed to radioactive pollution and not be warned by federal and state governments is unconscionable; shame on the American federal and state governments for allowing their citizens to be placed in such danger for more than 50 years and not stopping the source of the danger. It is a national travesty.”

In reaction to the Clean Up The Mines! project, a spokesperson for the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told the Associated Press the state doesn’t have an abandoned mine program. He refused to comment on the health impacts but claimed the uranium levels were low in South Dakota water. His statements are inconsistent with the experience of people living in the state.

Sandra Cuny Buffington, from the Red Shirt community, a rancher with cattle in the Bad Lands, lived at the river until it wasn’t possible anymore because of contamination. She spoke of high rates of cancer in the area. “We know we are contaminated but where are we going to go? I don’t know of any other life than the one that I have lived.”

“Abandoned uranium mines are devastating to the health of local populations,” explained Dr.  Jill Stein, former Green Party presidential candidate who is a physician specializing in environmental health issues, “The mines threaten not only our health but our economies and ecosystems as well.” Stein, who participated in the Earth Day event as part of the kick-off of the ten day Global Climate Convergence, went on to say “We are here to insist on cleaning up the mines and transitioning to a clean renewable energy system. This transition can put American back to work while vastly improving our health. The health savings alone will pay for the costs of this transition.”

Tarak Kauff, a member of the Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace described uranium mining as part of a “war on Mother Earth” and said

“It is up to us, an awakened public, ordinary black, brown, white and red people working together to demand, to insure that these toxic highly radioactive abandoned mines be cleaned up – for us and for future generations.”

Helen Jaccard, volunteer with Clean Up The Mines, described uranium, as a problem from “cradle to grave” saying “From mining, to milling and processing, to nuclear bombs and energy, with the left-over depleted uranium turned into weapons and the waste products that have no grave, the only safe place for uranium is in the ground.”

White Face concluded,

“Currently no laws require clean-up of these dangerous abandoned uranium mines. We are letting Congress know: It is time to clean up the mines! We value persistence. We will employ a variety of tactics including legislative and judicial avenues to hold the government and corporations accountable for their negligence and community-based actions to raise awareness and clean up the mines.”

The legal precedence set by the recent settlement with Tronox adds more legitimacy to this struggle. There needs to be greater accountability. You can get involved by joining Clean Up the Mines! Take action to spread awareness of the problem and write to your members of Congress to demand that accurate studies are performed, the mines and water supplies are cleaned up with citizen oversight and those who have been sickened receive the treatment they require.

 Accountability for Silent Killers

Exploring the legacy of uranium mining – for Earth destroying weapons of mass destruction and risky nuclear energy – reminded us how far humans have come in environmental destruction. It also showed, once again, how all is related. The Gaia theory of the Earth as a living being where all is connected is evident in the uranium toxicity that spreads through water, air and food

There is a growing movement that links native peoples with the descendants of those who colonized them. Now, many non-natives follow the lead of native peoples against fossil fuel and mineral extraction throughout the continent. It is this kind of solidarity and unity that will not only clean up the mines but will also make even greater changes in our economy, environment and government.

The toxicity of AUMs also reminds us of the cost of living under the rule of an illegitimate government where money, not the people, rule; of big finance capitalism that puts profit ahead of people and planet – and is enabled by the corrupt corporate government. The experience of the uranium mines shows us that even if it means people will die younger than they should, profit is king when we live under the ‘rule of money.’ It shows us we have an even larger task – ending a plutocratic oligarchy and creating a real democracy where the people rule.

AUMs are one example of many.  This week expert testimony before the National Transportation Safety Board said that oil train tanker leaks were inevitable. And, the nation is being covered in tar sands, gas and oil pipelines – all with terrible records of leaks. Yet, the federal agency that regulates pipelines and railroad transit of oil is cutting its already too small staff by 9%. The plutocrats will get their profits and the Earth will be plundered and polluted.

And, of course it is not only environmental destruction. This week we are seeing Obama’s new chairman of the FCC, who has served as a telecom industry lobbyist for two decades, pushing the end of net neutrality and a tiered system of Internet access, one for those with the money to pay for fast service and a slow lane for those who cannot. (Take action to stop the destruction of the Internet here; the next two weeks are critical.) The plutocrats will get wealthy while the Internet as we know it will be undermined.

Earth Day, which started out as part of an environmental movement that helped create major changes, has become a celebration of picnics, co-opted by corporations rather than education and mobilization to confront the environmental crisis. Even the Petroleum Institute pushes further environmental destruction under the Earth Day banner.  We need to remember how the first Earth Day linked labor to the environment and realize that the necessities of the people are connected to a healthy planet. At a time when we are seeing mass species die-off, destruction of the ocean and other water sources as well as a planet threatened by climate change, Earth Day needs to become about urgent transformation.

Robert Koehler writes about what we need to do in his reflection on how we have lost a decade of environmental collapse and cannot afford to lose another one:

 “We need intense activism along with structural analysis and the building of alternative, sustainable lifestyles. We need wisdom, reverence and creativity that we pull up from the depths of our uncertainty. Author Joanna Macy calls it ‘the Great Turning.’ It’s a shift in consciousness that aligns social healing, economic fairness and an end to war with environmental sustainability. And the time to make it happen is running out. We can’t afford to lose another decade, or another twenty minutes.”

It is time to face the destruction wrought by the human species on the planet; and take responsibility by mobilizing to reverse the destruction of Gaia. Together, is the only way we can do it.

This article is produced by Popular Resistance in conjunction with AlterNet.  It is a weekly review of the activities of the resistance movement. Sign up for the daily news digest of Popular Resistance, here.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD are organizers of PopularResistance.org; they co-direct It’s Our Economy and co-host Clearing the FOG. Their twitters are @KBZeese and MFlowers8.

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Ice and Busts: The Lost War on Drugs in Australia

April 21st, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It was hard to tell whether Australia’s Federal Police authorities, along with their Victorian colleagues, were gloating at their latest effort. Thrilled at the unearthing of a stash of methamphetamine, a form of it colloquially known as ice, trumpeted as the “biggest seizure” in Australian history, there was a sense of achievement. They had gotten one up on the drugs gangs, inflicting a blow to the narcotics trade. Celebrate!

Such celebrations, however, are misplaced. For one, they seemed to follow similar celebrations in February, when $1 billion worth of liquid methamphetamine, concealed in gel push-up bra inserts, were uncovered.[1]

Do these seizures suggest that the police and various enforcement authorities are gaining the upper hand, or perhaps foot dragging before ever enterprising and novel ways of adding to the narcotics market? 

Image result for methamphetamines

A stash of 903 kg of methamphetamines is certainly a remarkable quantity, secreted in boxes of wooden floorboards in an inconspicuous part of east Melbourne. “We located 70 boxes of floorboards,” chirped AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan. In each of them “was concealed between the floorboards two kilograms of methamphetamine.” 

But this suggests that there might well be much more, a drugs economy that is thriving in a hot house of high demand. Even Justice Minister Michael Keenan has conceded this point, noting that Australia has become one of the most lucrative markets for drug trade in the western world.

Tones of scolding severity duly follow when the phenomenon of drugs consumption is examined, notably among the researchers most interested in those habits of gradual yet mesmerising decay.

“There is no doubt Australia has a culture, especially among our young people, which does not see the taking of illicit substances or binge drinking as particularly detrimental to the health,” claimed Professor Harvey Whiteford of the University of Queensland in 2013.[2]

The police also annotate such findings with their suspicions about the inner drug devil in many an Australian. As Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Smith of the New South Wales Drug Squad’s Chemical Operation Unit claims with a Presbyterian fury, “1.3 million people in Australia have tried ice. Some of your friends and members of your family would have to have tried ice.”[3]  The horror, the horror.

Last month, researchers released findings after examining, somewhat unglamorously, wastewater across 51 sites only to find that methylamphetamine was the most consumed illicit drug in the country. It topped the premier league table of items, beating a range of other contenders such as heroin and cocaine.

Image result for ice drugs australiaFor such reasons, this is a battle, if not a poorly described war, that is unwinnable against basic human wishes and market demand. Experimentation and temptation is all, and the world of testing is becoming more diverse than ever. Law and medical authorities are desperate to stifle the interest, and are failing. The central problem is the nagging obsession with drugs as a matter of law and order.

Those participating in the market know this better than anybody else. Even Gaughan concedes with detectable admiration that the methods of novelty in this case on the part of the drug traders were considerable. (One has to beef up the opposition to show your own efforts are worthwhile.)

“You can appreciate the concealment method used in this particular activity is quite complex, quite unique. It wasn’t something we had seen previously.” 

The sentiment is often noted.

The battle against drugs was lost in the United States at enormous cost, becoming a continental affair of devastating consequences to security and welfare. Other countries, lagging in efforts to legalise certain drugs and attempts to control the narcotics market, find themselves at the losing end. Warring against desire and instinct eventually unravels. The cartels, and those connected with the prison industrial complex, profit. 

It is precisely for such reasons that Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs, whatever their rank of severity, in 2001. The result? Portugal has 3 drug overdose deaths for every million citizens. The EU average, by way of contrast, is 17.3 per million.[4]

In Australia, a few politicians have decided to shift the emphasis. The Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, himself a former drugs and alcohol doctor, convinced his party in 2016 to abandon absolute opposition to the legalisation of illicit drugs.

“It’s time we recognise this as a health problem not a law and order one. We have to have an open, honest conversation about this and stop pretending we’re winning this war.”

Whether it is the heavy hand of the law, or some clumsy variant of it, the campaign against drugs is simply going the way of those who cash in on it, a vast sprawl of vested interests. In the end, the very existence of the police and the enforcement complex thrives on such spectacles, on the illusion of safety and security. As this happens, sickness prevails as the money runs out the door.

In the meantime, lawyers and members of the public will be treated to the picture of overly enthusiastic ministers and police commissioners keen to get the message across that arrests are taking place and drugs seized with dedicated efficiency. During such a process, the rule of law is bound to take a battering, not least of all the presumption of innocence. Grainy images of various suspected figures are already doing the rounds through the papers. 

The ministers traffic in votes and illusions, and finding drugs provides a false incentive for both. What is needed, as The Age editorial surmised in November last year, is a policy “in favour of a harm minimisation strategy based on decriminalisation, regulation and education.”[5] Paramilitary approaches should be ditched, and resources channeled into health. Portugal, not the United States, should be seen as the model here.

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

NOTES

[1]http://www.smh.com.au/national/ice-worth-1-billion-seized-in-joint-crime-group-operation-20160215-gmu4nz.html

[2]https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/29/drugs-health-australia-youth-culturehttps://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/29/drugs-health-australia-youth-culture

[3]http://thenewdaily.com.au/entertainment/tv/2017/02/06/ice-wars-abc/

[4]http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/portugal-decriminalised-drugs-14-years-ago-and-now-hardly-anyone-dies-from-overdosing-10301780.html

[5]http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/the-war-on-drugs-has-failed-and-australia-must-change-its-policies-20161129-gszwmj.html

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Ice and Busts: The Lost War on Drugs in Australia

April 21st, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It was hard to tell whether Australia’s Federal Police authorities, along with their Victorian colleagues, were gloating at their latest effort. Thrilled at the unearthing of a stash of methamphetamine, a form of it colloquially known as ice, trumpeted as the “biggest seizure” in Australian history, there was a sense of achievement. They had gotten one up on the drugs gangs, inflicting a blow to the narcotics trade. Celebrate!

Such celebrations, however, are misplaced. For one, they seemed to follow similar celebrations in February, when $1 billion worth of liquid methamphetamine, concealed in gel push-up bra inserts, were uncovered.[1]

Do these seizures suggest that the police and various enforcement authorities are gaining the upper hand, or perhaps foot dragging before ever enterprising and novel ways of adding to the narcotics market? 

Image result for methamphetamines

A stash of 903 kg of methamphetamines is certainly a remarkable quantity, secreted in boxes of wooden floorboards in an inconspicuous part of east Melbourne. “We located 70 boxes of floorboards,” chirped AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan. In each of them “was concealed between the floorboards two kilograms of methamphetamine.” 

But this suggests that there might well be much more, a drugs economy that is thriving in a hot house of high demand. Even Justice Minister Michael Keenan has conceded this point, noting that Australia has become one of the most lucrative markets for drug trade in the western world.

Tones of scolding severity duly follow when the phenomenon of drugs consumption is examined, notably among the researchers most interested in those habits of gradual yet mesmerising decay.

“There is no doubt Australia has a culture, especially among our young people, which does not see the taking of illicit substances or binge drinking as particularly detrimental to the health,” claimed Professor Harvey Whiteford of the University of Queensland in 2013.[2]

The police also annotate such findings with their suspicions about the inner drug devil in many an Australian. As Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Smith of the New South Wales Drug Squad’s Chemical Operation Unit claims with a Presbyterian fury, “1.3 million people in Australia have tried ice. Some of your friends and members of your family would have to have tried ice.”[3]  The horror, the horror.

Last month, researchers released findings after examining, somewhat unglamorously, wastewater across 51 sites only to find that methylamphetamine was the most consumed illicit drug in the country. It topped the premier league table of items, beating a range of other contenders such as heroin and cocaine.

Image result for ice drugs australiaFor such reasons, this is a battle, if not a poorly described war, that is unwinnable against basic human wishes and market demand. Experimentation and temptation is all, and the world of testing is becoming more diverse than ever. Law and medical authorities are desperate to stifle the interest, and are failing. The central problem is the nagging obsession with drugs as a matter of law and order.

Those participating in the market know this better than anybody else. Even Gaughan concedes with detectable admiration that the methods of novelty in this case on the part of the drug traders were considerable. (One has to beef up the opposition to show your own efforts are worthwhile.)

“You can appreciate the concealment method used in this particular activity is quite complex, quite unique. It wasn’t something we had seen previously.” 

The sentiment is often noted.

The battle against drugs was lost in the United States at enormous cost, becoming a continental affair of devastating consequences to security and welfare. Other countries, lagging in efforts to legalise certain drugs and attempts to control the narcotics market, find themselves at the losing end. Warring against desire and instinct eventually unravels. The cartels, and those connected with the prison industrial complex, profit. 

It is precisely for such reasons that Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs, whatever their rank of severity, in 2001. The result? Portugal has 3 drug overdose deaths for every million citizens. The EU average, by way of contrast, is 17.3 per million.[4]

In Australia, a few politicians have decided to shift the emphasis. The Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, himself a former drugs and alcohol doctor, convinced his party in 2016 to abandon absolute opposition to the legalisation of illicit drugs.

“It’s time we recognise this as a health problem not a law and order one. We have to have an open, honest conversation about this and stop pretending we’re winning this war.”

Whether it is the heavy hand of the law, or some clumsy variant of it, the campaign against drugs is simply going the way of those who cash in on it, a vast sprawl of vested interests. In the end, the very existence of the police and the enforcement complex thrives on such spectacles, on the illusion of safety and security. As this happens, sickness prevails as the money runs out the door.

In the meantime, lawyers and members of the public will be treated to the picture of overly enthusiastic ministers and police commissioners keen to get the message across that arrests are taking place and drugs seized with dedicated efficiency. During such a process, the rule of law is bound to take a battering, not least of all the presumption of innocence. Grainy images of various suspected figures are already doing the rounds through the papers. 

The ministers traffic in votes and illusions, and finding drugs provides a false incentive for both. What is needed, as The Age editorial surmised in November last year, is a policy “in favour of a harm minimisation strategy based on decriminalisation, regulation and education.”[5] Paramilitary approaches should be ditched, and resources channeled into health. Portugal, not the United States, should be seen as the model here.

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

NOTES

[1]http://www.smh.com.au/national/ice-worth-1-billion-seized-in-joint-crime-group-operation-20160215-gmu4nz.html

[2]https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/29/drugs-health-australia-youth-culturehttps://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/29/drugs-health-australia-youth-culture

[3]http://thenewdaily.com.au/entertainment/tv/2017/02/06/ice-wars-abc/

[4]http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/portugal-decriminalised-drugs-14-years-ago-and-now-hardly-anyone-dies-from-overdosing-10301780.html

[5]http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/the-war-on-drugs-has-failed-and-australia-must-change-its-policies-20161129-gszwmj.html

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The 2017 French Presidential election marks a profound change in European political alignments. There is an ongoing shift from the traditional left-right rivalry to opposition between globalization, in the form of the European Union (EU), and national sovereignty.

Standard media treatment sticks to a simple left-right dualism: “racist” rejection of immigrants is the main issue and that what matters most is to “stop Marine Le Pen!”

Going from there to here is like walking through Alice’s looking glass. Almost everything is turned around.

On this side of the glass, the left has turned into the right and part of the right is turning into the left.

Fifty years ago, it was “the left” whose most ardent cause was passionate support for Third World national liberation struggles. The left’s heroes were Ahmed Ben Bella, Sukarno, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, and above all Ho Chi Minh. What were these leaders fighting for? They were fighting to liberate their countries from Western imperialism. They were fighting for independence, for the right to determine their own way of life, preserve their own customs, decide their own future. They were fighting for national sovereignty, and the left supported that struggle.

Today, it is all turned around. “Sovereignty” has become a bad word in the mainstream left.

National sovereignty is an essentially defensive concept. It is about staying home and minding one’s own business. It is the opposite of the aggressive nationalism that inspired fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to conquer other countries, depriving them of their national sovereignty.

The confusion is due to the fact that most of what calls itself “the left” in the West has been totally won over to the current form of imperialism – aka “globalization”. It is an imperialism of a new type, centered on the use of military force and “soft” power to enable transnational finance to penetrate every corner of the earth and thus to reshape all societies in the endless quest for profitable return on capital investment. The left has been won over to this new imperialism because it advances under the banner of “human rights” and “antiracism” – abstractions which a whole generation has been indoctrinated to consider the central, if not the only, political issues of our times.

The fact that “sovereignism” is growing in Europe is interpreted by mainstream globalist media as proof that “Europe is moving to the right”– no doubt because Europeans are “racist”. This interpretation is biased and dangerous. People in more and more European nations are calling for national sovereignty precisely because they have lost it. They lost it to the European Union, and they want it back.

That is why the British voted to leave the European Union. Not because they are “racist”, but primarily because they cherish their historic tradition of self-rule.

The Socialist Party shipwreck

As his five-year presidency drew to its ignominious end, François Hollande was obliged by his drastic unpopularity to let his Parti Socialiste (PS) choose its 2017 presidential candidate by primary. In a surprising upset, the Socialist government’s natural candidate, prime minister Manuel Valls, lost to Benoit Hamon, an obscure member of the PS left wing who refused to vote for the unpopular, neo-liberal, anti-labor laws designed by Hollande’s economic advisor, Emmanuel Macron.
To escape from the unpopularity of the PS, Macron formed his own movement, “En Marche!” One after another, Valls, Hollande and other prominent PS leaders are tiptoeing away, leaving Hamon at the helm of the sinking ship. As Hamon justifiably protests against their betrayal, the party bigwigs pledge their support to Emmanuel Macron.

Macron ostentatiously hesitates to welcome his shopworn converts into the fold, fearing that their conversion makes it too obvious that his “En Marche!” is a clone of the right wing of the PS, on the way to becoming the French subsidiary of the U.S. Democratic Party in its Clintonian form. Macron proclaims that he is neither left nor right, as discredited politicians from both left and right jump on his bandwagon, to his embarrassment.

Hamon himself appears to be unaware that the basic cause of the Socialist Party’s shipwreck is its incompatible devotion to two contrary principles: traditional social democracy, and the European Union (EU). Macron, Hollande and their fellow turncoats at least have made their choice: the European Union.

The Twilight of the Traditional Right

The great advantage of Republican candidate François Fillon is that his policies are clear. Unlike Hollande, who tried to disguise his neoliberal policies as something else, and based his claim to be on the left on “societal” issues (gay marriage), Fillon is an unabashed conservative. His policies are designed to reduce the huge national debt. Whereas previous governments (including his own, when he was President Sarkozy’s Prime Minister) beat around the bush, Fillon won the Republican nomination by a program of sharp cutbacks in government spending.

Fillon claims that his austerity measures will lead French capitalists to invest in France and thus save the country’s economy from being completely taken over by foreign corporations, American retirement funds and Qatar. This is highly doubtful, as there is nothing under EU rules to encourage French investors to invest in France rather than somewhere else.
Fillon departs from EU orthodoxy, however, by proposing a more independent foreign policy, notably by ending the “absurd” sanctions against Russian. He is more concerned about the fate of Middle East Christians than about overthrowing Assad.

The upshot is that Fillon’s coherent pro-capitalist policy is not exactly what the dominant globalizing elite prefers. The “center left” is their clear political choice since Tony Blair and Bill Clinton revised the agendas of their respective parties. The center left emphasis on human rights (especially in faraway countries targeted for regime change) and ethnic diversity at home fits the long-term globalist aims of erasing national borders, to allow unrestricted free movement of capital. Traditional patriotic conservatism, represented by Fillon, does not altogether correspond to the international adventurism of globalization.

The Schizophrenic Left

For a generation, the French left has made “the construction of Europe” the center of its world view. In the early 1980s, faced with opposition from what was then the European Community, French President François Mitterrand abandoned the socializing program on which he been elected. Mitterrand nursed the hope that France would politically dominate a united Europe, but the unification of Germany changed all that. So did EU expansion to Eastern Central nations within the German sphere of influence. Economic policy is now made in Germany.

As the traditional left goal of economic equality was abandoned, it was superseded by emphatic allegiance to “human rights”, which is now taught in school as a veritable religion. The vague notion of human rights was somehow associated with the “free movement” of everything and everybody. Indeed the official EU dogma is protection of “free movement”: free movement of goods, people, labor and (last but certainly not least) capital. These “four freedoms” in practice transform the nation from a political society into a financial market, an investment opportunity, run by a bureaucracy of supposed experts. In this way, the European Union has become the vanguard experiment in transforming the world into a single capitalist market.

The French left bought heavily into this ideal, partly because it deceptively echoed the old leftist ideal of “internationalism” (whereas capital has always been incomparably more “international” than workers), and partly due to the simplistic idea that “nationalism” is the sole cause of wars. More fundamental and complex causes of war are ignored.

For a long time, the left has complained about job loss, declining living standards, delocalization or closure of profitable industries, without recognizing that these unpopular results are caused by EU requirements. EU directives and regulations increasingly undermine the French model of redistribution through public services, and are now threatening to wipe them out altogether – either because “the government is bankrupt” or because of EU competition rules prohibit countries from taking measures to preserve their key industries or their agriculture. Rather than face reality, the left’s reaction has mostly been to repeat its worn-out demand for an impossible “Social Europe”.

Yet the dream of “social Europe” received what amounted to a fatal blow ten years ago. In 2005, a referendum was called to allow the French to approve a Constitution for united Europe. This led to an extraordinary popular discussion, with countless meetings of citizens examining every aspect of this lengthy document. Unlike normal constitutions, this document froze the member States in a single monetarist economic policy, with no possibility of change.

On May 29, 2005, French voters rejected the treaty by 55% to 45%.

What seemed to be a great victory for responsible democracy turned into its major failure. Essentially the same document, renamed the Lisbon Treaty, was ratified in December 2007, without a referendum. Global governance had put the people in their place. This produced widespread disillusion with politics as millions concluded that their votes didn’t matter, that politicians paid no attention to the will of the people.

Even so, Socialist politicians continued to pledge undying allegiance to the EU, always with the prospect that “Social Europe” might somehow be possible.

Meanwhile, it has become more and more obvious that EU monetarist policy based on the common currency, the euro, creates neither growth nor jobs as promised but destroys both. Unable to control its own currency, obliged to borrow from private banks, and to pay them interest, France is more and more in debt, its industry is disappearing and its farmers are committing suicide, on the average of one every other day. The left has ended up in an impossible position: unswervingly loyal to the EU while calling for policies that are impossible under EU rules governing competition, free movement, deregulation, budgetary restraints, and countless other regulations produced by an opaque bureaucracy and ratified by a virtually powerless European Parliament, all under the influence of an army of lobbyists.

Benoit Hamon remains firmly stuck on the horns of the left’s fatal dilemma: determination to be “socialist”, or rather, social democratic, and passionate loyalty to “Europe”. While insisting on social policies that cannot possibly be carried out with the euro as currency and according to EU rules, Hamon still proclaims loyalty to “Europe”. He parrots the EU’s made-in-Washington foreign policy, demanding that “Assad must go” and ranting against Putin and Russia.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon Grasps the Nettle

Not only is the drab, conformist Hamon abandoned by his party heavies, he is totally upstaged on the left by the flamboyant Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a maverick ready to break the rules. After years as a PS loyalist, Mélenchon broke away in 2005 to oppose the Constitutional Treaty, gaining prominence as a fiery orator. In 2007, he left the Socialist Party and founded the Parti de Gauche (Left Party). Allied with the much weakened Communist Party, he came in fourth in the first round of the 2012 Presidential election with 11% of the vote. This time he is running for President with his own new movement, La

France Insoumise, which can be translated in a number of ways, including “the France that does not submit”.

Submit to what? Mainly, to the euro and to the antisocial, neoliberal policies of the European Union that are ruining France.

French flags and la Marseillaise have replaced the Internationale at Mélenchon rallies. “The Europe of our dreams is dead,” he acknowledges, vowing to “end the nightmare of dictatorship by banks and finance”.

Mélenchon calls for outright disobedience by violating EU treaties that are harmful to France. That is his Plan A. His Plan B is to leave the EU, in case Plan A fails to convince Germany (the current boss) and the others to agree to change the treaties.

But at best, Plan B is an empty threat to strengthen his hand in theoretical negotiations. France is such a crucial member, he maintains, that a French threat to leave should be enough to force changes.

Threatening to leave the EU is just part of Mélenchon’s vast and complicated program which includes calling a national convention to draft a constitution for France’s “sixth Republic” as well as major ecological innovation. Completely changing both France and the European Union at the same time would require the nation to be in a revolutionary effervescence that is by no means visible. It would also require a unanimity among the EU’s 28 member States that is simply impossible.

But Mélenchon is canny enough to have recognized the basic problem: the enemy of jobs, prosperity and public services is the European Union. Mélenchon is by far the candidate that generates the most excitement. He has rapidly outdistanced Hamon and draws huge enthusiastic crowds to his rallies. His progress has changed the shape of the race: at this moment, he has become one of four front-runners who might get past the first round vote on April 23 into the finals on May 7: Le Pen, Macron, Fillon and himself.

The Opposites are (almost) the Same

A most remarkable feature of this campaign is great similarity between the two candidates said to represent “the far left”, Mélenchon, and “the far right”, Marine Le Pen. Both speak of leaving the euro. Both vow to negotiate with the EU to get better treaty terms for France. Both advocate social policies to benefit workers and low income people. Both want to normalize relations with Russia. Both want to leave NATO, or at least its military command. Both defend national sovereignty, and can thus be described as “sovereignists”.

The only big difference between them is on immigration, an issue that arouses so much emotion that it is hard to discuss sensibly. Those who oppose immigration are accused of “fascism”, those who favor immigration are accused of wanting to destroy the nation’s identity by flooding it with inassimilable foreigners.

In a country suffering from unemployment, without jobs or housing to accommodate mass immigration, and under the ongoing threat of Islamist terror attacks, the issue cannot be reasonably reduced to “racism” – unless Islamic terrorists constitute a “race”, for which there is no evidence. Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion. She is certain to get considerable support from recently nationalized immigrants, just as she now gets a majority of working class votes. If this is “fascism”, it has changed a lot in the past seventy years.

What is significant is that despite their differences, the two most charismatic candidates both speak of restoring national sovereignty. Both evoke the possibility of leaving the European Union, although in rather uncertain terms.

The globalist media are already preparing to blame the eventual election of a “sovereignist” candidate on Vladimir Putin. Public opinion in the West is being prepared for massive protests to break out against an undesired winner, and the “antifa” militants are ready to wreak havoc in the streets. Some people who like Marine Le Pen are afraid of voting for her, fearing the “color revolution” sure to be mounted against her. Mélenchon and even Fillon might face similar problems.

As a taste of things to come, on April 20, the EU Observer published an article entitled “Russia-linked fake news floods French social media”.

Based on something called Bakamo, one of the newly establishment “fact-check” outfits meant to steer readers away from unofficial opinion, the article accused Russian-influenced web sites of favoring Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, François Fillon, Francois Asselineau, and Philippe Poutou. (They forgot to mention one of the most “sovereignist” candidates, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, currently polling in sixth place.)

Since a large majority of the eleven candidates, including three of the four front-runners, are strongly critical of the EU and of NATO and want to improve relations with Russia, it would seem that Putin wouldn’t have to make a great effort to get a more friendly French government next time around. On the other hand, the EU Observer article is only a small sample of blatant “interference in the French election” on the part of the globalists on behalf of their favorite, Emmanuel Macron, the most enthusiastic Europhile.

The Future of France

Among those listed as alleged Russian favorites, François Asselineau is by far the most thorough critic of the European Union. Systematically ignored by the media since he founded his anti-EU party, the Union Populaire Républicain (UPR), ten years ago, François Asselineau has thousands of ardent supporters who have plastered his poster all over the country. His tireless didactic speeches, reproduced on internet, have driven home several key points:

– there is no way to improve the EU from the inside, because any change would require unanimity among 27 member states who disagree on key issues.
– the only solution for France is to use Article 50 of the EU treaties to withdraw entirely, as the United Kingdom is currently doing.
– only by leaving the EU can France save its public services, its social benefits, its economy and its democracy.
– it is only by restoring its national sovereignty that genuine democratic life, with confrontation between a real “left” and “right”, can be possible.
– by leaving the EU, France, which has over 6,000 treaties with other countries, would not be isolated but would be joining the greater world.

Asselineau is a single issue candidate. He vows that as soon as elected, he would invoke Article 50 to leave the EU and immediately apply to Washington to withdraw from NATO. He emphasizes that none of the other critics of the EU propose such a clear exit within the rules.

Other candidates, including the more charismatic Mélenchon and Le Pen, echo some of Asselineau’s arguments. But they are not ready to go so far as to advocate a clear immediate break with the EU, if only because they realize that the French population, while increasingly critical of the euro and alienated from the “European dream”, is still fearful of actually leaving, due to dire warnings of disaster from the Europeists.

The first round campaign is an opportunity for Asselineau to present his ideas to a wider audience, preparing public opinion for a more coherent “Frexit” policy. By far the most fundamental emerging issue in this campaign is the conflict between the European Union and national sovereignty. It will probably not be settled in this election, but it won’t go away.

This is the major issue of the future, because it determines whether any genuine political life is possible.

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US War on Whistleblowers. CIA Targets Wikileaks

April 21st, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Truth-telling in America is endangered. Free and open expression is our most fundamental right, all others threatened without it.

Exposing government wrongdoing is courageous and essential. Obama waged war on press freedom and whistleblowing. Trump continues his outrageous agenda.

When governments consider truth-telling independent journalists and whistleblowers threats to national security, tyranny replaces freedom.

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In 2012, the Obama administration declared WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange an enemy of the state, forcing him to take refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid unjust arrest, extradition to America and imprisonment to silence him.

In 2012, a secret grand jury convened. A sealed indictment followed, allegedly accusing Assange of spying under the long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act, enacted shortly after America’s entry into WW I.

It prohibited interfering with US military operations, supporting the nation’s enemies, promoting insubordination in the ranks, or obstructing military recruitment.

In 1921, its most controversial provisions were repealed. It remains the law of the land, used to charge, prosecute, convict and imprison Chelsea Manning unjustly.

Assange faces the same fate if extradited to America. Anyone exposing US high crimes and/or other dirty secrets Washington wants suppressed is vulnerable.

Challenging the nation’s policies, no matter how heinous, risks severe punishment.

Image result for pompeoIn his first public address, CIA director Mike Pompeo lied, saying Assange “caused harm, great harm, to our nation’s national security,” adding:

“(W)e can no longer allow (him) and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us” – deplorably calling the right to speak freely about anything “a perversion of what our…Constitution stands for. It ends now,” he added without further elaboration.

On Thursday, Justice Department charges against Assange reportedly were prepared, perhaps updated from the sealed 2012 indictment, claiming WikiLeaks published documents obtained from Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers.

On April 20, WikiLeaks tweeted

“US admits it has charges to arrest Assange according to CNN.”

“Contribute to his defense: justice4assange.com/Donate.html

Likely false charges include Espionage Act violations, conspiracy and theft of government property. Truth-telling is honorable, not criminal.

Neocon Attorney General Jeff Sessions prioritizes arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning Assange, saying he intends “put(ting) some people in jail.”

Former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted:

“Unless they have found something new, there is no way to do this without prosecuting reporters. There’s a reason we didn’t go there.”

Assange attorney Barry Pollack said he’s gotten no DOJ information on potential charges against his client, adding

“(t)here’s no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.”

Assange claims the right

“to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the US Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media.”

“And we strive to mitigate legitimate concerns, for example by using redaction to protect the identities of at-risk intelligence agents.”

How Trump administration officials intend going after Assange is unclear. As long as he remains in Ecuador’s London embassy, he’s safe.

Or is he? Will US or UK authorities invade its sovereign space to arrest him? Given Trump’s rogue agenda, supported by Britain, anything is possible.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new 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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

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Criminal Media Messaging, Black Propaganda

April 21st, 2017 by Mark Taliano

US-led NATO supports terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria. Same story. Corporate cartoon news amounts to war propaganda.

The West supports terrorism. Period.

The terrorists are proxies for the West.

Terrorism also includes illegal sanctions, and illegal bombing, and other genocidal strategies.

As with the 900 or so lies that led to the illegal Iraq invasion and the death of Iraq, or the lies that led to the death of Libya, and on and on and on, the “gasses his own people” Syria narrative is simply more war propaganda, that serves to advance the West’s criminal agenda (a supreme international crime according to Nuremburg Principles) of destroying Syria.

As soon as there were reports that Assad gassed his own people, the US launched Cruise missiles on Syrian military infrastructure. Proof was not necessary. In all likelihood, it was black propaganda, a false flag.

Why? Not only because NATO’s terrorists have a track record of using chemical weapons, but also because it ties in nicely with the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” meme that served the criminal war agenda against Iraq so well.

The West and its agencies always create false pretexts as preludes to expanding their criminal warmongering.

And these post-9/11 genocidal mass murdering wars are never about human rights either.  If they were, then the US would attack itself, and apartheid Israel, and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, and all of the GCC dictatorships.

The false and criminal media coverage of the chemical weapons report was wedded to equally false coverage of a known and documented and proven tragedy where NATO terrorists willfully massacred  innocent men, women, and children fleeing terrorist-infested areas from Kafraya and al Fuah, and seeking refuge in government –secured areas. The reporting of the latter tragedy was false because the corporate media did not assign guilt to the known perpetrators.

Permanent Syrian resident Lilly Martin made these comments in a global Facebook posting, dated April 20, 2017:

Latakia, Syria: April 20, 2017: I am an eye witness to the Syrian conflict which began in March 2011. I live in Syria, and no where else. I have been here 25 years and have friends and contacts all over Syria. I tell the truth. What I know to be a fact, because I live here and know the truth first hand, may sound strange to you, living thousands of miles away, being fed a daily dose of fake news. However, I would never tell you that I am an expert on the realities of your community, because I do not live there. Please do not doubt me, just because CNN fed you a different version of reality.

When the US backed ‘rebels’ massacred 100 people recently, many of whom were small kids looking for free potato chips, CNN reported the incident as a mystery, not blaming anyone. However, the gas attack previously was not a mystery, and CNN instantly knew who did it. Come on, stop puling my leg. You can believe lies, but I can not, because I know the truth.

Historical context is also important, but invariably omitted by corporate mainstream media messaging. The media would like us to believe that President Assad is the root of the problem, and that therefore, “he needs to go.”  But again, it is known and documented that the problem is not President Assad, but rather the willful, premeditated, criminal war that the West and its anti-democratic allies, and its barbarian proxies, are waging against Syria.

Another Syrian resident, Samy Eissa, recently observed:

Syria was one of the most peaceful countries in the whole world. We had been living in harmony for many years under the authority of the same regime that the west powers are calling to overthrow it. What is called the Syrian revolution has just brought all fundamental and extremist Islamic fighters from all over the world to fight against the Syrian government and the secular identity of the country, worked as war agents and proxies for regional and world powers. As a result of that we have been living the most brutal and devastating war that our country has ever witnessed…..

Corporate media messaging about the war on Syria is not “mistaken”.  It is willful, criminal propaganda.

Purchase Mark Taliano’s e-book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research

Author: Mark Taliano

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-9-1

Year: 2017

Product Type: PDF File

List Price: $6.50

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Click to order

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While the public justification for the presence of United States troops in Syria has long been focused on fighting the terror group Daesh (ISIS), the recent actions of the U.S. and its allies within Syria continue to suggest that fighting terrorism is merely a cover for a very different type of operation, one that seeks to keep Syria fragmented and destabilized long after any terrorists are defeated.

On Tuesday, the U.S.-allied militias that have been encircling Raqqa – the de facto stronghold of Daesh – announced that they had formed a “civilian council” to govern Raqqa after its capture from Daesh militants. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed militia that comprises a large number of Syrian Kurds, claim to have spent six months setting up the council, with a preparatory committee having met “with the people and important tribal figures of Raqqa city to find out their opinions on how to govern it,” Middle East Eye reported.

SDF spokesman Talal Selo stated that some towns near Raqqa had already been turned over to the council following a successful operation to drive out Daesh forces.

The U.S. military had previously hinted that power would be given to rebel groups following Raqqa’s “liberation” when the head of U.S. Central Command General Joseph Votel told the Senate in early March that military officials anticipated “that America’s allies will need assistance preventing their [Daesh’s] return and establishing Syrian-led peacekeeping efforts” after a successful operation.

Considering that the Syrian government is far from being one of “America’s allies,” Votel’s statement implied that the U.S.-backed militias would be given control of Raqqa and the surrounding area, despite the implications this would have for Syrian sovereignty and further destabilization in the war-torn country.

As MintPress previously reported, Votel also told senators that “conventional U.S. forces would be required to stabilize the region once ISIS fighters are flushed from Raqqa,” meaning that the current U.S. troop build-up around Raqqa is by no means a temporary deployment, but rather the foundation for creating a standing army.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not been surprised as to what the U.S.-backed operation to remove Daesh from Raqqa would bring.

Last week, Assad told Agence France-Presse:

“We support whoever wants to liberate any city from the terrorists, but that doesn’t mean to be liberated from terrorists and being occupied by American forces, for example, or by another proxy, or other terrorists. So, it’s not clear who is going to liberate Raqa. Is it really Syrian forces that are going to hand it over to the Syrian army? Is it going to be in cooperation with the Syrian army? It’s not clear yet.”

Given that the Trump administration’s current position involves the removal of Assad from power, keeping Raqqa out of the Syrian government’s control via a U.S.-backed militia seems like a clear attempt to force Assad’s hand.

While Assad had previously stated that the country’s civil war would likely conclude this year – barring foreign intervention – a U.S.-military-supported rogue government in Raqqa would prevent the Syrian government from reacquiring its territory. Any attempts by the Syrian Army to take back Raqqa from the SDF and U.S. military could allow U.S. officials to demonize Assad and take stronger actions to remove him from power.

However, the U.S. plan is unlikely to go smoothly, given the Kurds’ dominant presence in the SDF. Turkey, Syria’s northern neighbor, will probably not be happy to see a Kurdish-majority group gain governing power over a region near its border, as the Turkish government has long considered Syrian Kurdish militias, including those backed by the U.S., to be terrorist groups. Turkey has repeatedly bombed U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds for this very reason.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress contributor who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, 21st Century Wire, and True Activist among others – she currently resides in Southern Chile.

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Those who blame the Syrian government for the allegedly chemical incident in Khan Sheikhun on April 4 are now playing up the analysis of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). But the results of the OPCW tests are inconsistent with all observed and reported technical and medical facts of the incident.

Yesterday the OPCW Director General Ambassador Üzümcü, a Turkish career diplomat and former Turkish ambassador to NATO, released the first analytic results of the OPCW investigation into the Khan Sheikhun incident:

The bio-medical samples collected from three victims during their autopsy were analysed at two OPCW designated laboratories. The results of the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. Bio-medical samples from seven individuals undergoing treatment at hospitals were also analysed in two other OPCW designated laboratories. Similarly, the results of these analyses indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

Director-General Üzümcü stated clearly: “The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

“Sarin or Sarin-like substance” is noted three times a row. Sarin is also mentioned in the headline. The OPCW director is pushing that meme – hard.

But the OPCW did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred in Khan Sheikhun. It suggested nothing about the incident itself. It only talked about bio-medical samples of several persons – nothing more, nothing less. It also did not give any hint of how much exposure the persons in question received. Was it a minimal traceable amount that had no effect on them or did they die from it? The OPCW does not say.

The Russian foreign ministry claims that “western” powers within the OPCW block a full-scale investigation of the incident.

The “sarin like substances” the OPCW mentions could be a different chemical weapon than sarin – soman is a possible candidate. It would be more consistent with the “smell” several witnesses described after the incident (Sarin is odorless). Many general insecticides belong to the same class of chemicals as sarin and soman. They are all organophosphorus compounds. (Sarin was originally developed as an insecticide). All of such compounds could be a source of the exposure found by the OPCW. These chemicals degrade within hours or days. A forensic analysis will not find the original substance but only decomposition products of some organophosporus compound. That is the reason why the OPCW result is not fixed on sarin but also mentions “sarin like substances”.

Image result for khan sheikhoun chemical attack

Another question is where those samples come from. Who “collected” them? When? Where? And what is the chain of evidence that connects the samples to the incident? The OPCW has not send an investigation team to Khan Sheikhun. No samples were taken in Khan Sheikhun by its own inspectors. While Russia and Syria have asked for OPCW inspections on the ground, Tahrir al-Sham, the renamed al-Qaeda in Syria which controls the Khan Sheikhun area, has not asked for inspectors. Without its agreement any investigation mission is perceived as too dangerous. None of the OPCW inspectors is interested in literally losing his head to those terrorists.

Al-Qaeda propaganda organizations in Khan Sheikhun were the first to claim that sarin was used on the ground. “Western” media and governments later repeated those claims before any further investigations could have been done. The very first claim I found was made by the former British doctor Shajul Islam who works for the terrorists. This video of him of “doctors “and “patients” in an emergence room in Khan Sheikhun is pure theater, taken over a longer time period. The main presenter, Shajul Islam, is a well-known criminal Takfiri with links to the British secret service. He talks of sarin even though the “patients” around him show no signs of sarin effects and the emergency personal in the video is unprotected against potent chemical agents.

A White House assessment later claimed that it had evidence that sarin was used. It used the claim to justify the bombing of the Syrian military airport Al Syairat. But the White House assessment contains no evidence. It includes a number of factually false statements. It claims, for example:

[T]he World Health Organization stated on April 5 that its analysis of victims of the attack in Syria showed the had been exposed to nerve agents

The WHO report from April 5 stated no such thing. It only noted:

[S]erious reports of the use of highly toxic chemicals in an attack in Khan Shaykhun

It WHO made no analysis of its own. It only mentions “reports”.

Immediately after the incident, bodies of dead and wounded were brought to Turkey where they were taken into hospital. Al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda aligned personal must have transported them. It is a three hour car ride from Khan Sheikhun to the Turkish border.

The incident happened on April 4. First reports on that day by the Turkish government news agency Anadolu mentioned only chlorine:

At least 100 people were killed Tuesday when Assad regime warplanes carried out a chlorine gas attack in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, according to Syrian opposition Health Minister Firas Jundi.

A local civil defense official earlier told Anadolu Agency a regime aircraft carried out a chlorine gas attack on the town early Tuesday.

The first OPCW statement on April 4 referred to chlorine, not sarin or similar:

The OPCW is investigating the incident in southern Idlib under the on-going mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which is “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”.

The first report of the Turkish government also said chlorine. The UN Security Council convened on April 6 to discuss the incident. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported:

Turkey sent a report to the United Nations just before a U.N. Security Council meeting to address accusations that the Syrian government staged a chemical weapons attack on April 4, stating that the gas used in the attack was chlorine gas.

Turkey’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear teams (KBRN) prepared an initial report over the possible material of the alleged chemical attack, relying on the symptoms of and tests conducted on the victims and their testimonies.

The report stated that the initial findings of the tests conducted on around 30 victims brought to Turkey for treatment pointed to a chlorine gas attack.

Thirty victims were immediately brought to Turkey after the incident. But the Turkish doctors and CBRN specialist did not consider sarin, but chlorine gas -a much less potent chemical- to be involved. (Chlorine is not designated a chemical weapon under the chemical warfare regulations. This fact is often obfuscated for propaganda reasons.) The symptoms of chlorine ingestion and the effects of sarin exposure are quite different. It is extremely unlikely that the emergency doctors and chemical weapon specialists misdiagnosed the issue when the patients arrived and were taken care of. The 30 casualties arriving in Turkey were not the casualties of a sarin incident.

But then the Turkish Health Ministry started to tell a different story:

The poison used in the deadly chemical bomb attack in a rebel-held part of northern Syria this week was the banned nerve agent sarin, the Turkish Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“According to the results of preliminary tests,” the statement said, “patients were exposed to chemical material (Sarin).

The Turkish statement did not elaborate on how the sarin had been identified in the assault on Tuesday, but it said some of the telling symptoms seen in the victims included “lung edema, increase in lung weight and bleeding in lungs.”

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Emergency Response Database:

At high exposure levels, irritation of the upper respiratory tract and accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) contribute to a sensation of choking.

But that is from the CDC entry for chlorine.

Image result for pulmonary syria attackThe CDC entry for sarin mentions “fluid accumulation in the airways” as one symptom among many more conspicuous ones. It does not mention an edema in the lungs.

Contradicting the first Turkish reports the Turkish Health Ministry claimed “sarin” (in parenthesis?!). But the symptom it described as proof was not of sarin but of chlorine exposure.

The Turkish Justice Minister also made a statement, but did not mention sarin at all:

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters that “Autopsies were carried out on three of the bodies after they were brought from Idlib. The results of the autopsy confirms that chemical weapons were used,” quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency.

“This scientific investigation also confirms that Assad used chemical weapons,” Bozdag added, without giving further details.

Bozdag said autopsies were conducted with the “participation” of officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the southern province of Adana together with officials from Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

But WHO immediately countered Bozdag’s claims that it was involved in the postmortem, saying the organisation did not conduct autopsies, adding: “It is not our mandate.”

[It] also stressed that no samples or swabs had been taken by WHO despite claims by the Adana prosecutor that “examples” had been sent to the organisation and the OPCW.

The Justice Minister claimed that samples had been given to the WHO and OPCW from the very first autopsies. But the WHO clearly denies that. I find no OPCW statement on this. Did it receive any of those first samples or only some that were later produced by Turkish authorities?

In 2013 a Turkish court, under Justice Minister Bozdag, set one suspected Ahrar al Sham member free after he was caught with sarin precursors. The person was later sentenced in absentia as he had fled back to Syria. Ahrar al Sham, while not in charge, has a presence in Khan Sheikhun.

The neuroscientist and neuro-pharmacologist Denis O’Brien, a Ph.D. with a research and teaching career in that field, analyzed the symtoms of the casualties that were depicted in the various videos coming out of Khan Sheikhun. His detailed diagnostics and chemical-biological explanations are humorously titled Top Ten Ways to Tell When You’re Being Spoofed by a False-Flag Sarin Attack.

O’Brian notes the total absence of feces, urine, vomit and cyanosis (turning blue) in the videos. Sarin exposure causes, according to the CDC database, “Nausea, vomiting (emesis), diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping.” Sarin effected patients would spontaneously shit, pee and vomit all over. But the casualties in the videos, even the “dead” ones, have clean undies. The “clinic” in the videos has clean floors. The patients show red skin color, not oxygen deprived blue. The patients in the videos were not effected by sarin.

Medical personal and rescue workers in the videos (example) and pictures also show none of the typical sarin symptoms. Sarin degrades relatively fast. Half of the potency will be gone within five hours after release (depending on environmental factors). But these rescue workers and medical personal were immediately involved with the casualties. They do not wear any reasonable protection. They would have been dead or at least effected if sarin would have been involved in any relevant concentration.

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The Turkish doctors and chemical weapon specialists who received the first patients diagnosed chlorine exposure, not sarin. The first news and Turkish reports to the UN speak of chlorine, not sarin. It is only the Turkish Health Minister who mentions sarin – in parentheses, but then lists a symptom of severe chlorine exposure as one of sarin. Neither the casualties nor the unprotected medical personal involved in the incident show any effect of sarin exposure. The only one who claimed “sarin” early on was an al-Qaeda alligend former doctor in a staged propaganda video.

Fifteen days after the incident the OPCW say that samples (it was given?) “indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance”.

Turkey has been the supply and support lifeline for Ahrar al Sham as well as for al-Qaeda in Syria. The samples given to the OPCW were taken by Turkish personal in Turkey. The current head of the OPCW is a Turkish civil servant. It is in the interest of Turkey and its terrorist clients in Syria to blame the Syrian government for chemical weapon use.

The medical and technical evidence is not consistent with a sarin attack by the Syrian government. All of the videos and pictures of the incident were taken in al-Qaeda controlled territory. All witnesses were under al-Qaeda control. How much of the incident was staged for videos (see al-Qaeda doctor video linked above) or how many of the witnesses were told to lie is not testable under current circumstance. The Syrian government insist that it had given up all its chemical weapons and keeps no stocks. The Russian government also asserts that no chemical weapon attack took place.

The OPCW analysis may well have found that samples it received indicated some organophosphorus exposure. But the chain of evidence for these samples is very dubious. The amount of exposure was not defined.

The observable facts of the incident do not support the conclusion that sarin was present in the Khan Sheikhun incident.

Note:

Part of the above is based on the work and tweets of Ali Ornek

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While much of the world is engulfed in violence of one sort or another (whether violence in the home or on the street, exploitation, ecological destruction or war), a global network of individuals and organizations is committed to ending this violence in all of its manifestations.

With individual signatories in 100 countries and organizational endorsements in 35 countries, each of these individuals and organizations works on one or more manifestations of violence in their locality and some of the organizations and networks have considerable national or even international reach. However, as you might understand, there is a great deal to be done and the Charter network continues to expand as more people and organizations are motivated to join this shared effort.

Here is an outline of what some of these individual signatories of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ are doing. You are welcome to join them.

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A native of Iran, Professor Manijeh Navidnia was born in Tehran where she attended school and university. She married in 1982 and had her first child in 1985. Her original research interests were in social science and sociology but after collaborating with the Islamic Azad University, she became interested in strategic studies and most of her research work and publications since then have focused on security. Her first book in 2009 was particularly focused on ‘societal security’ and her political engagements are designed to enhance international cooperation across cultures.

Mahad Wasuge is a key figure at the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Somalia. The Institute has recently published a shocking report on ‘Somalia’s Drought Induced Crises: Immediate Action and Change of Strategy Needed’ in response to the ongoing drought in Somalia which threatens millions of people.

‘The ongoing drought in Somalia – referred to in the Somali language as Sima, which means the leveler, ubiquitous or pervasive – has enveloped the entire country. If rain does not arrive by mid April, and if a massive humanitarian campaign is not mounted swiftly, the drought could morph into an insidious famine that could devastate the country’: hundreds of thousands of vulnerable men, women and children could starve to death. Sadly, while awareness of the ongoing suffering and the potential famine has been high, ‘the response of the international community and the mitigation strategy by Somalia has been wholly inadequate.’ Despite UN agencies raising over US$300 million, the majority of the population across the country is not receiving basic necessities. ‘Many pastoral communities have also lost 80 percent of their livestock, escalating their vulnerability to an alarming and perilous level.’

Ruth Phillips is the central figure in the initiative to create ‘an ecological, co-housing village here on a fully restored, 17th century chateau estate in rural France. The property lies in the heart of 30 acres of parklands and forests in the midst of quiet, deep-green nature, surrounded by hills and mountains, forests and lakes. It is set in the eastern Dordogne, one of most unspoilt regions of France’. They have permission to create a permaculture village around the chateau for residential and/or holiday use, with 23 houses blended into the natural and historic landscape. Plans include the chateau ‘hub’ offering education, leisure and cultural activities for residents and visitors; a small restaurant; a multi-functional workshop space; the swimming pool; a sauna and communal space, as well as large individual garden plots and access to acres of forest and fields on the property. The site aims to be a showcase for permaculture and sustainable living. Too good to be true? Check out the Ecochateau website and email Ruth if you want to go there to stay for a while and help make their vision a more complete reality.

Burmese scholar and activist, Dr Maung Zarni has been indefatigable in his efforts to raise awareness of the Burmese government’s genocidal assault on the Rohingya Muslim population in Burma. He has also not shied away from drawing attention to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi‘s complicity in this genocidal assault. While he has written many articles on the subject, this two-minute video will give you a clearer sense of Zarni, the compassionate scholar/activist. ‘Multiple Denials of Myanmar’s Atrocity Crimes against Rohingyas prevent a peaceful resolution’ For more, check out Zarni’s website.

In one of her public talks, Kathleen Macferran posed the question

‘Are we really safer when we put those who harm others behind bars and forget about them?’

She explores the idea of ‘turning our prisons into houses of healing and creating connections that lead to greater safety’ by having incarcerated men and women return to our communities as peacemakers.

Greg Kleven is a 68 year-old American living and teaching English in Viet Nam. He was 18 years old when he went to Viet Nam as a soldier in 1967 ‘and thought that what I was doing was right. But after a few months in country I realized that I had made a huge mistake. The war was wrong and I should never have participated.’ After going home he had a hard time adjusting back into society. ‘I couldn’t get the war out of my mind.’ In 1988 he went back to Viet Nam as a tourist and realized he had a chance ‘to make up for what I had done’. For the next two years he helped organize ‘return trips for veterans who wanted to go back and see Viet Nam as a country, not a war’. In 1990 he started teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City and he has been doing it ever since. Greg shares the passion to ‘some day put an end to all wars and violence in the world’.

Professor of Mathematical Analysis, Tarcisio Praciano-Pereira, reports from Brazil that he is personally well but that living in Brazil is

‘very bad! I am 73 years old and I have suffered the dictatorship of 1964 when I was forced into exile. So I have a very clear picture of what is going on here and this doesn’t make me well because I know clearly the dangers we are facing. My life has changed entirely, my intellectual production has dropped down because I am all the time in the fight. I am seriously afraid! And I am not a young boy anymore as I was in 1964.’

He advised the death of a judge of the Supreme Court, who was overseeing a massive corruption investigation into the state oil company, Petrobras, against the will of the ‘putsch owners’ and conservative media outlet ‘Globo’. It is clear that the possibility of crime in this death cannot be dismissed. Now they are trying to replace the dead judge with the Justice Secretary ‘who is nothing but a criminal. Please take a stand against this if you can. Afraid is the right picture, friend! Yes, Fora Temer! Fora Temer, o traira!’

Ending human violence requires courage, not to mention toughness and determination, often in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

For that reason, you might be sceptical about the prospects of achieving it.

But if you wish to join the people above in working to create a world in which peace, justice and ecological sustainability ultimately prevail for all life on Earth, you can do so by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.

Can we do it? If we do not try, we will never know. And one day, fairly soon now according to some climate scientists (and assuming we can avert nuclear war in the meantime), homo sapiens sapiens will enter Earth’s fossil record without even making a concerted effort to prevent it.

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

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After launching the disastrous missile strikes against Syrian military forces that resulted in the killing of Syrian soldiers, civilians, and children as well as sending ships toward North Korea in a flagrant act of aggression and dropping the largest known non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan, the Trump administration is now taking aim at Iran.

Sounding much like it did after its bizarre and unprovoked “putting Iran on notice” speech made by former Trump administration official Michael Flynn, the United States is now “reviewing its policy” on Iran and warning the world of the dangers of a nuclear Iran.

Ironically, the United States is warning of an Iran terrorizing the world with its bombs, funding “militias” across the world, and expanding its influence in the region by force as well as unprovoked aggression against specific countries. If there were a field of psychology for geopolitics, these statements would be classified as a clear example of projection if ever there was one.

“Whether it be assassination attempts, support of weapons of mass destruction, deploying destabilizing militias, Iran spends its treasure and time disrupting peace,” Tillerson said. “An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea ‒ and take the world along with it.”

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel.”

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea ‒ and take the world along with it,” he added.

Tillerson also stated that Iran supports the “brutal Assad regime” and that it supports the Houthis in Yemen, as well as accusing Iran of “undermining security in Iraq for years” by virtue of its support for Quds forces fighting there. Tillerson also accused Iran of maintaining “a long-standing hostility towards Israel, providing weapons, training and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.”

“A comprehensive Iran policy requires that we address all of the threats posed by Iran, and it is clear there are many,” he said.

Tillerson then turned to the Iran nuclear deal which has been the target of both the Trump administration and traditional Republicans since day one, claiming that it

“fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran ‒ it only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state. This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat that we face from North Korea.”

Tillerson added that

“The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear: Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region and the world.”

In addition, he stated that the United States will “meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction” after the policy review is over.

Tillerson echoed statements uttered by Defense Secretary James Mattis earlier in the week, who accused Iran of trying destabilize the Middle East.

“Everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran. We will have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah but the bottom line is, we are on the right path for it.”

Mattis’ statement came after meeting with senior Saudi officials in Riyadh.

The Path to Persia

The plan for a Western or a Western/Israeli attack on Iran, along with the theatre of alleged US-Israeli tensions leading up to a strike and outright war, has been in the works for some time. For instance, in 2009, the Brookings Institution, a major banking, corporate, and military-industrial firm, released a report entitled “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy For Iran,” in which the authors mapped out a plan which leaves no doubt as to the ultimate desire from the Western financier, corporate, and governing classes.

Image result for netanyahu rouhani

The plan involves the description of a number of ways the Western oligarchy would be able to destroy Iran including outright military invasion and occupation. However, the report attempts to outline a number of methods that might possibly be implemented before direct military invasion would be necessary. The plan included attempting to foment destabilization inside Iran via the color revolution apparatus, violent unrest, proxy terrorism, and “limited airstrikes” conducted by the US, Israel or both.

Interestingly enough, the report states that any action taken against Iran must be done after the idea that Iran has rejected a fair and generous offer by the West has been disseminated throughout the general public. The report reads,

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

Ironically, it is admitted by the authors of the report that the Iranians are not governed by lunatics intent on nuking the world but by entirely rational players. Still, they move forward with a number of options for attacking Iran. It should thus be obvious to anyone reading this report that the US, NATO, and Israel are uninterested in peace with Iran and are entirely focused on war and Iranian destruction.

“The so-called “Iran deal,” introduced during the administration of US President Barack Obama, represents precisely this “superb offer,” with Flynn’s accusations serving as the “turn down” ahead of the “sorrowful” war and attempted regime change the US had always planned to target Tehran with,” writes Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer Report.

The report continues to discuss the citations that could be used for an attack on Iran, clearly stating its intentions to create a plan to goad a non-threatening nation into war. It states,

The truth is that these all would be challenging cases to make. For that reason, it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)

The question of the Israeli role in the possible attack against Iran is also mentioned by Brookings. In fact, in the chapter entitled, “Allowing or Encouraging An Israeli Military Strike,” Brookings not only outlines a potential strategy but essentially admits that the US-Israeli tension being hyped in the Western media is nothing more than a farce. It says,

..the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives).

Why Iran?

There are a number of reasons why the United States and the NATO imperial army would like to see Iran destroyed over the coming years. Geopolitical reasons are, of course, front and center.

On one level, the Israeli connection stands as one obvious reason the United States has maintained an anti-Iran posture for nearly two decades. Iran not only stands as a regional opponent to the whims and aims of the Israeli settler state, but it also bankrolls and supports one of the greatest forces of opposition to Israel directly due to its close proximity and the militia’s military prowess. Indeed, Israel was humiliated by Hezbollah in front of the world in 2006. Thus, if Iran is destroyed, Hezbollah goes with it and two of Israel’s biggest and most effective opponents disappear from the game board.

The United States also sees Iran as an opponent due to Iran’s resistance to the Anglo-American insistence on global hegemony of its “Western” system of financial and corporate overseers in a plantation owned by a world oligarchy. Iran stands in opposition to the Western system because it refuses to engage in a system private central banking as well as corporate and private financier domination of its society and culture. Maintaining its own national bank has long been a source of irritation for Wall Street and City of London vampires eager to sink their fangs into the blood supply of every nation on earth. In addition, Iran has recently announced that it would be dropping the U.S. dollar for some other currency or basket of currencies beginning March 21, a sure sign that a Western war of aggression is most definitely on the horizon.

Iran also remains a close Russian ally and the last domino that needs to fall before the great Anglo-American army can march forward directly into Russia and break the largest country in the world into “manageable” parts.[1] Once Iran is destroyed, Russia will be largely isolated and left to face the NATO alliance which has been slowly surrounding Russia over the last two decades.

Conclusion

The Trump Administration’s false labeling of Iran as the biggest sponsor of terrorism, ignoring the fact that Iran is one of the most important players in the fight against ISIS and Sunni Islamic extremism in the Middle East as well as the fact that American ally Saudi Arabia is perhaps the biggest purveyor of terrorism in the world, tells everyone what we need to know going forward – the plan to destroy Iran is marching forward without a hitch in another example of seamless transition.

Of course, Iran is opposing America’s policies in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. It should. The United States’ policy is that of funding, directing, and manipulating terrorists for the purpose of destroying sovereign countries, backing a brutal racist Israeli regime that continually attacks its neighbors, and supporting an equally brutal Saudi dictatorship intentionally slaughtering the Yemeni people. If this is what Iran is opposing, the world owes it a debt of gratitude.

Note

[1] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard. Basic Books. 1st Edition. 1998.

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Recently, Syria and Iraq have witnessed increased chemical weapon usage. In Khan Sheikhoun, a performance was staged to accuse the Syrian government while in Iraq’s Mosul, the situation is quite the opposite: the besieged ISIS militants used chemical agents chlorine and mustard gas against Iraqi troops. [The ISIS is supported by the US and its Middle East Allies]. 

The first reports of ISIS developing chemical weapons appeared in November, 2015. Then, the AP, basing on the information of the U.S. and Iraqi intelligences, stated that the terrorists were actively developing chemical agents with the assistance of highly qualified specialists from Iraq, Syria and other Middle East states.

As known, since the IS emerged, it has numerously used chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq. In particular, the terrorists carried out a chemical attack against the Syrian army in Deir Ezzor in April 2016 and the Kurdish-held neighborhood Sheikh Maqsood in Aleppo in March and April, 2016.

ISIS has repeatedly used chemical agents in Mosul. In November 2016, Britain-based HIS Conflict Monitor reported that since 2014 to Nov. 2016, the Islamic State conducted at least 52 chemical attacks.

Initially, the terrorists used chlorine which can be handicrafted. This agent rarely kills. Unlike chlorine, sarin and mustard gas are combat agents which require industrial environment and qualified specialists.

In connection with this, according to high-ranking Iraqi and American officials, ISIS captured a laboratory at Mosul University in 2015 and used it to produce chemical weapons. In an interview to Akhbar al-An channel on Jan. 16 2017, the Syrian chemical weapons expert Nuri Primo claimed that the IS was capable of producing chemical agents in the lab.

Meanwhile, NATO members were aware of the fact the ISIS possessed chemical weapons but recently are making efforts to conceal this information. In February 2016, CIA director John Brennan acknowledged that ISIS militants had access to the production of chemical weapons. Another NATO member, Turkey, in November 2016 for the first time accused the jihadists of chemical attacks on the Syrian opposition in northern Syria thus confirming that ISIS possessed it.

Moreover, in an interview to Inside Syria Media Center, a source of Turkey’s General Staff who preferred to stay anonymous has recently confirmed the information in the media that the Iraqi troops were attacked by chemical weapons. In particular, on April 15, 2017 IS militants carried out a mortar shelling of western Mosul using shells containing unidentified agents.

7 Iraqi police officers were injured during the attack; they were hospitalized with the signs of asphyxiation, lacrimation and skin irritation.

The source also added that military advisers, who previously trained FSA troops in El-Bab together with the U.S. special services, would soon be deployed to Iraq. He said that the training program included methods of identifying the presence of chemical agents in the air and using personal protective equipment.

Obviously, NATO is well aware of ISIS’ chemical weapons stored both in Syria and Iraq. However, against the background of the latest events, it is attempting to conceal the fact that the terrorists are capable of producing and using agents, selling them to other radical groups in the region. It doesn’t comply with the U.S. and Turkey’s groundless accusations of the Syrian government’s alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun which became a hot topic in the media unlike the events in Mosul.

Mariam al-Hijab is the editor-in-chief of Inside Syria Media Center.

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The Opinions of Western Leaders about the Khan Shaykhun Incidents

In the EU, Germany’s as usual spineless Angela Merkel and Francois “Mr. 4%” Hollande could not think of anything better than to adopt the U.S. narrative and to lay the entire blame on Assad, thus immediately disqualifying themselves from being taken seriously. The British leaders in their functions as U.S. poodles and long-time opponents of Russia in The Great Game also could not help themselves and sent Boris Johnson to clamor for “sanctions against Syrian and Russian military figures” during the G7 meeting. EU Commission President J.-C. Juncker and the EU Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini fortunately displayed much more caution, as did Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau. As one of the very few sane voices in U.S. foreign policy, Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also joined that club, but of course not without being reprimanded Hermann Goering-style for her ‘lack of patriotism’ by the insane in the form of establishment Democrat Howard Dean.

The Opinions of Experts about the Khan Shaykhun Incidents

Image result for susan rice

As far as actual experts are concerned, former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice indirectly defended Assad by pointing out in January that

“We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”

Damascus based British journalist Tom Duggan likewise confirms the official Syrian version of a Syrian fighter jet “bombing an ammunitions dump owned by terrorists and their factory […] that makes chemical weapons,” later identifying terrorists attacking Damascus as “Al-Nusra” (at 3:05 in the video). Duggan also points out that terrorists use “home-made chemical weapons” such as “chlorine gas” (at 4:45), stating “the rebels use the chemical weapons all the time and put the blame on Bashar al-Assad” (5:15).

Former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford likewise states that it is “highly unlikely” (0:10) that either Syria or Russia were behind the gas attacks, also since “we know for a fact that the Jihadis were storing chemical weapons in schools in Eastern Aleppo, because these were seen later by Western journalists” (0:40). About the West:

“They made all these mistakes: Iraq, Libya — they never learn. And they would like to reproduce the same scenario in Syria” (2:35). He also added “You may think it’s significant that this attack comes days” (3:15) after the Trump administration announced that their priority in Syria is the fight against ISIS, concluding “if the Jihadis wanted to complicate, ah, Trump’s task of making America’s policy more sensible, they wouldn’t have gone about it any other way than trying to mount a piece of fake news like this.”

Then there are also the likewise opinions of Bashar al-Assad himself, of Russian general Sergei Rudskoy, of Jonathan Steele from Middle East Eye (3:30) or Stephen F. Cohen, a Russian studies professor emeritus from Princeton and later New York University (4:48 in this video).

Beyond that and just as was the case in 2013, high-integrity members of the intelligence community are once again having a very hard time stomaching how U.S. politicians and mainstream media misrepresent the events in Syria. Take note of the passages from this article which largely consist of a transcript from the Scott Horton Webcast interview with Veteran Intelligence Members for Sanity founding member Philip Giraldi:

“I’m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available who are saying that the essential narrative that we’re all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.”

Giraldi said his sources were more in line with an analysis postulating an accidental release of the poison gas after an Al Qaeda arms depot was hit by a Russian airstrike.

‘The intelligence confirms pretty much the account that the Russians have been giving … which is that they hit a warehouse where the rebels — now these are rebels that are, of course, connected with Al Qaeda — where the rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear.”

Giraldi said the anger within the intelligence community over the distortion of intelligence to justify Trump’s military retaliation was so great that some covert officers were considering going public.

“People in both the agency [the CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known — but maybe he didn’t — and they’re afraid that this is moving toward a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict,” Giraldi said before Thursday night’s missile strike. “They are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the U.S. media.”

And lo and behold, here we do have the VIPS going public in a 15 points article signed by 24 of its members including  William Binney, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou and Ray McGovern:

1 — We write to give you an unambiguous warning of the threat of armed hostilities with Russia — with the risk of escalation to nuclear war. The threat has grown after the cruise missile attack on Syria in retaliation for what you claimed was a “chemical weapons attack” on April 4 on Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province.

2 — Our U.S. Army contacts in the area have told us this is not what happened. There was no Syrian “chemical weapons attack.” Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died.

3 — This is what the Russians and Syrians have been saying and — more important –what they appear to believe happened.

Image result for theodore postolWhat really cinches the analysis and its outcome of Assad being all but certain to be innocent with regard to the Khan Shaykhun gas attacks is the following research paper by MIT’s famous ‘war incident technical analyst’ Theodore Postol:

I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4.

The piece of evidence in question is a crater and a pipe or alleged piece of munition in it. About these he has the following to say:

I have located this crater using Google Earth and there is absolutely no evidence that the crater was created by a munition designed to disperse sarin after it is dropped from an aircraft. […]

As shown in the close-up of the pipe in the crater in Figure 3, the pipe looks like it was originally sealed at the front end and the back end. Also of note is that the pipe is flattened into the crater, and also has a fractured seam that was created by the brittle failure of the metal skin when the pipe was suddenly crushed inward from above.

Figure 4 shows the possible configuration of an improvised sarin dispersal device that could have been used to create the crater and the crushed carcass of what was originally a cylindrical pipe. A good guess of how this dispersal mechanism worked (again, assuming that the crater and carcass were not staged, as assumed in the White House report) was that a slab of high explosive was placed over one end of the sarin-filled pipe and detonated.

The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallet. It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater. Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end. This mechanism of dispersal is essentially the same as hitting a toothpaste tube with a large mallet, which then results in the tube failing and the toothpaste being blown in many directions depending on the exact way the toothpaste skin ruptures.

If this is in fact the mechanism used to disperse the sarin, this indicates that the sarin tube was placed on the ground by individuals on the ground and not dropped from an airplane.

This turn of events was even confirmed by commentator 14, one “Xander USMC”:

“There is no question that the photo, if accurate, is consistent with a charge placed above rather than within.”

Conclusion

Similar to previous reported or actual gas attacks, there is also virtually no good reason to believe that the Assad regime committed the chemical attacks in Khan Shaykhun on April 4, 2017, and virtually every reason to believe that this was a (legitimate military hit turned) false flag attack that was committed by local rebel groups and possibly also by other parties that want to see Assad removed. What can also be learned from this is that, as usual, it would be huge mistake to take the stories spun by insane U.S. mainstream-media, by insane U.S. politicians or officials, or by insane press speakers (see Sean Spicer rambling about “Holocaust Center” or “Hitler […] did not […] sink to the level of using chemical weapons”) seriously.

The crowning irony in all of this is perhaps U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley making a very sad Panda face at the U.N. to get those pathos-juices flowing and claiming entirely without irony “Russia(!!!) uses the same false narrative to deflect attention from their allies […]. Time and time again, without any factual basis, Russia(!!!) attempts to place blame on others” (starting at 0:39 in the video). Orwellian and ‘pre-humanitarian-intervention’ neocon lies and insanity at their worst, and one can only hope that more and more people are waking up to this or to what is actually happening in Syria or elsewhere.

Gregor Flock is an independent philosopher (univie.academia.edu/GregorFlock), independent journalist, Global Civil Society Network founder & ed.-in-chief (www.gcsno.org/my-blog/).

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It is “Deep State” Time Again

April 21st, 2017 by Frederick Nagel

Whenever there are obvious conflicts within the ruling class, the concept of a Deep State is brought out to explain why our government seems to be coming apart at the seams. When the tired rhetoric of our two party system can’t bring us to a satisfying catharsis, there is always the deus ex machina of grand conspiracies and hidden rulers. 

The actual nature of our oppression, however, has been in plain sight for decades, although assiduously avoided by much of our media. The criminality of the CIA and the FBI is a case in point. Both agencies have long been well beyond Congressional oversight. The dirty tricks, political harassment, and illegal spying carried out by the FBI, as well as the foreign assassinations, political coups, and massive surveillance of the CIA have only been thoroughly investigated once, and that was during the Church Committee hearings of 1975. The hearings exposed the lawlessness of FBI and CIA, but made little difference in either agencies’ long term accountability, despite the creation of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.Image result for senator jay rockefeller

Thirty two years later, Senator Jay Rockefeller, then Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was asked what progress his organization had made in finding out about the secret operations of the nation’s intelligence agencies. In exasperation, he told a young freelance reporter,

“Don’t you understand the way intelligence works? Do you think that because I’m chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say ‘I want it, give it to me’? They control it. All of it. All of it. All the time.”

Dirty tricks, however, don’t really add up to the power many attribute to the Deep State. Killing foreign leaders like Patrice Lumumba, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or filming Martin Luther King‘s hotel rooms, blackmailing him, and pressuring him to commit suicide are criminal acts. But they don’t really destroy the primacy of our basic democracy. Martin Luther King’s murder, however, is different. So are the murders of the other progressive leaders of the 1960’s who challenged the entrenched power of the national security state: Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, and of course, President John Kennedy himself.

Image result for jfkJFK was determined to bring the CIA under his control, right up to his assassination in Dallas. Whether or not he actually said he wanted “to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds,” as reported in The New York Times in 1966, his frustration and anger at the CIA are well documented. So to is his choice to use the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) to negotiate with Nikita Khrushchev during the perilous nuclear standoff. Were these threats to CIA dominance enough to bring in its assassins?

The FBI takedown of Richard Nixon is similarly destructive to our constitutional form of government. “Deep Throat,” the hidden source of information about Nixon’s ties to the Watergate burglars, was non other than the Associate Director of the FBI, Mark Felt. Both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters from the Washington Post who exposed Nixon’s impeachable offenses, have admitted they were fed the critical information by Felt. Nixon had appointed an ally, L. Patrick Gray, as acting director of the FBI in an attempt to bring it under his control. Did Felt act alone, or was Nixon’s impeachment orchestrated by the agency?

If the CIA and the FBI were complicit in the overthrow of presidents and the murder of popular American leaders, then all bets are off. There is no democracy, only Deep State directed terror. The fact that the American people are never given enough information to distinguish dirty tricks from Deep State assassinations and the removal of elected presidents, is a growing cancer in our body politic.

The existence of great decision making power apart from any democratic process is worrisome enough. But the lack of any accountability to the people and sheer criminality of what little that has been uncovered leads inevitably to the illegitimacy of the state in most citizens’ eyes.

The immense and unchecked power of the major corporations and their billionaire owners are another source of doubt about our present form of government. Is there a federal agency not under some sort of corporate control? Hundreds of millions in dark money have been flooding our electoral process. Congress and the president are only vaguely accountable to the voters because their very existence in office is dependent on this largely untraceable flow of money.

We have seen Trump’s plans to drastically cut the Environmental Protection Agency and expose American citizens to even more pollution and the accelerated destruction of our natural habitat. Under Obama, the criminality was a bit more subtle. A five year EPA report about the effect of fracking on the nation’s drinking water was simply altered at the very end to support the continuation of this form of natural gas extraction. Who ordered the scientific conclusion to be altered? Non other than head EPA officials after meeting with key advisers to President Obama. The dominance by big business interests is welcomed by both establishment parties.

Corporate millions buy armies of lobbyists, think tank analysts, media commentators, and willing scientists. Hidden campaigns attempt to neutralize opposition though dirty tricks and “astroturf” corporate supporters. Then there is the government to industry employment pipeline, the best way for politicians and their crony colleagues to cash in after they sell out.

The most pernicious of these lobbies are the ones for big oil, big agriculture, big pharmaceutical, big banks, and of course the defense industry. Military spending is close to half the national budget, and Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics all have their “advisors” who sit in the Pentagon planning new wars for the American people to pay for. With 800 foreign military bases, and drone assassinations being conducted in at least seven countries, the US is consistently seen as the “greatest threat to world peace” in international surveys. As this country moves its armies and missiles ever closer to Russia and China, the chances of a nuclear Armageddon increase along with the profits for US weapons makers. The continuation of life on earth is never part of the profit making equation.

The major corporations have been so successful in dominating governmental decision making that foreign nations have taken notice. Two extremist and racist theocracies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, have established the most influence in Washington. The Saudis gave the Clinton Foundation 10 million for access to new jet planes, which they have used to wage a genocidal war against a Shia uprising in neighboring Yemen. And Israel has conducted a brutal 50 year occupation of Palestinian land and the apartheid oppression of 5 million people, all with US military aid and US protection at the United Nations.

During Israel’s recent high tech slaughter in Gaza, over 500 Palestinian children were murdered. Many were incinerated by lasers and white phosphorus bombs while cowering in UN schools. But our Congress, paid sycophants to the Lobby, voted that Israel had a right to “defend itself” by destroying Gaza’s only power plant as well as 18,000 of its homes. Israel lost just one house.

The only interest group in the US that has the power to make public criticism illegal is the Israel Lobby. Express condemnation of Israel’s apartheid state and we might lose our job or be added to a government blacklist. Advocating for the rights of 5 million oppressed Palestinians may soon become completely illegal. Would Exxon Mobile, Lockheed Martin or Monsanto ever have the clout in state capitals or in Washington to make public criticism of them against the law? The Israel Lobby, with its deep financial, high tech, and religious ties to the US is the best example of how our constitutional form of government has been infiltrated and subverted. Even the First Amendment is for sale.

Image result for CIA

Do we, in fact, need to keep talking about the Deep State when the anti democratic forces in our country are quite plain to see? There are certainly the eccentric and secretive billionaires like the Koch brothers, Robert Mercer, and Haim Saban who shovel hundreds of millions into our supposedly democratic system. Yes, we have a multilayered kleptocracy with its share of secret channels and dirty dealing.

But to think that it is completely hidden makes us overlook the obvious. We have been living with the corruption of our democratic ideals for decades. And now the transition from neoliberalism to a form of ultra corporatism is being done right in front of our eyes. Let’s not waste our time speculating about the Deep State. We see the machinery of surveillance and repression first hand, and although we can’t be aware of all its secret machinations, we know enough to join the resistance while we still can.

Fred Nagel is a US veteran and political activist whose articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Global Exchange, Mondoweiss, Popular Resistance, War Crimes Times (Veterans For Peace publication) and Z Magazine. He also hosts a show on Vassar College Radio, WVKR (classwars.org).

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Global Research Editor’s Note

The greatest threat to humanity is nuclear war.

While public opinion is largely misinformed, US “decision-makers” including president Trump are also unaware and misinformed as to the consequences of their actions. Multi-billion dollar bonanza for the Military-Industrial Complex:  “Scientific opinion” on contract to Pentagon presents tactical nuclear as “peace-making” bombs. 

Global Research will be featuring on a regular basis a number of articles and reports on the dangers of nuclear war focussing on the scientific, policy and military dimensions.

Forward this article.

The objective is to build a cohesive and Worldwide campaign against nuclear weapons. 

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, April 21, 2017

Now 10 years ago, several of the world’s leading climatologists and physicists chose to reinvestigate the long-term environmental impacts of nuclear war. The peer-reviewed studies they produced are considered to be the most authoritative type of scientific research, which is subjected to criticism by the international scientific community before final publication in scholarly journals. No serious errors were found in these studies and their findings remain unchallenged.

Alan Robock et al., “Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences,” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 112 (2007).

Owen Brian Toon et al., “Atmospheric effects and societal consequences of regional scale nuclear conflicts and acts of individual nuclear terrorism,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 7 (2007).

Michael Mills et al., “Massive global ozone loss predicted following regional nuclear conflict,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105, no. 14 (2008).

Michael Mills et al., “Multidecadal global cooling and unprecedented ozone loss following a regional nuclear conflict,” Earth’s Future 2.

Alan Robock et al., “Climatic consequences of regional nuclear conflicts,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 7 (2007).

Working at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers, and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, these scientists used state-of-the-art computer modeling to evaluate the consequences of a range of possible nuclear conflicts. They began with a hypothetical war in Southeast Asia, in which a total of 100 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs were detonated in the cities of India and Pakistan. Please consider the following images of Hiroshima, before and after the detonation of the atomic bomb, which had an explosive power of 15,000 tons of TNT.

pir-2016_v3

pir-2016_v32

The detonation of an atomic bomb with this explosive power will instantly ignite fires over a surface area of three to five square miles. In the recent studies, the scientists calculated that the blast, fire, and radiation from a war fought with 100 atomic bombs could produce direct fatalities comparable to all of those worldwide in World War II, or to those once estimated for a “counterforce” nuclear war between the superpowers. However, the long-term environmental effects of the war could significantly disrupt the global weather for at least a decade, which would likely result in a vast global famine.

The scientists predicted that nuclear firestorms in the burning cities would cause at least five million tons of black carbon smoke to quickly rise above cloud level into the stratosphere, where it could not be rained out. The smoke would circle the Earth in less than two weeks and would form a global stratospheric smoke layer that would remain for more than a decade. The smoke would absorb warming sunlight, which would heat the smoke to temperatures near the boiling point of water, producing ozone losses of 20 to 50 percent over populated areas. This would almost double the amount of UV-B reaching the most populated regions of the mid-latitudes, and it would create UV-B indices unprecedented in human history. In North America and Central Europe, the time required to get a painful sunburn at mid-day in June could decrease to as little as six minutes for fair-skinned individuals.

As the smoke layer blocked warming sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface, it would produce the coldest average surface temperatures in the last 1,000 years. The scientists calculated that global food production would decrease by 20 to 40 percent during a five-year period following such a war. Medical experts have predicted that the shortening of growing seasons and corresponding decreases in agricultural production could cause up to two billion people to perish from famine.

The climatologists also investigated the effects of a nuclear war fought with the vastly more powerful modern thermonuclear weapons possessed by the United States, Russia, China, France, and England. Some of the thermonuclear weapons constructed during the 1950s and 1960s were 1,000 times more powerful than an atomic bomb.

nuclear-firestrom

During the last 30 years, the average size of thermonuclear or “strategic” nuclear weapons has decreased. Yet today, each of the approximately 3,540 strategic weapons deployed by the United States and Russia is seven to 80 times more powerful than the atomic bombs modeled in the India-Pakistan study. The smallest strategic nuclear weapon has an explosive power of 100,000 tons of TNT, compared to an atomic bomb with an average explosive power of 15,000 tons of TNT.

Strategic nuclear weapons produce much larger nuclear firestorms than do atomic bombs. For example, a standard Russian 800-kiloton warhead, on an average day, will ignite fires covering a surface area of 90 to 152 square miles.

A war fought with hundreds or thousands of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons would ignite immense nuclear firestorms covering land surface areas of many thousands or tens of thousands of square miles. The scientists calculated that these fires would produce up to 180 million tons of black carbon soot and smokewhich would form a dense, global stratospheric smoke layer. The smoke would remain in the stratosphere for 10 to 20 years, and it would block as much as 70 percent of sunlight from reaching the surface of the Northern Hemisphere and 35 percent from the Southern Hemisphere. So much sunlight would be blocked by the smoke that the noonday sun would resemble a full moon at midnight.

Under such conditions, it would only require a matter of days or weeks for daily minimum temperatures to fall below freezing in the largest agricultural areas of the Northern Hemisphere, where freezing temperatures would occur every day for a period of between one to more than two years. Average surface temperatures would become colder than those experienced 18,000 years ago at the height of the last Ice Age, and the prolonged cold would cause average rainfall to decrease by up to 90%. Growing seasons would be completely eliminated for more than a decade; it would be too cold and dark to grow food crops, which would doom the majority of the human population.

Nuclear Winter in Brief

The profound cold and darkness following nuclear war became known as nuclear winter and was first predicted in 1983 by a group of NASA scientists led by Carl Sagan. During the mid-1980s, a large body of research was done by such groups as the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), the World Meteorological Organization, and the U.S. National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; their work essentially supported the initial findings of the 1983 studies.

The idea of nuclear winter, published and supported by prominent scientists, generated extensive public alarm and put political pressure on the United States and Soviet Union to reverse a runaway nuclear arms race, which, by 1986, had created a global nuclear arsenal of more than 65,000 nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this created a backlash among many powerful military and industrial interests, who undertook an extensive media campaign to brand nuclear winter as “bad science” and the scientists who discovered it as “irresponsible.”

Critics used various uncertainties in the studies and the first climate models (which are primitive by today’s standards) as a basis to criticize and reject the concept of nuclear winter. In 1986, the Council on Foreign Relations published an article by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who predicted drops in global cooling about half as large as those first predicted by the 1983 studies and described this as a “nuclear autumn.” The nuclear autumn studies were later shown to be deeply flawed, but the proof came too late to stop a massive smear campaign that effectively discredited the initial studies.

Nuclear winter was subject to criticism and damning articles in the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine. In 1987, the National Review called nuclear winter a “fraud.” In 2000, Discover Magazine published an article that described nuclear winter as one of “The Twenty Greatest Scientific Blunders in History.” The endless smear campaign was successful; the general public, and even most anti-nuclear activists, were left with the idea that nuclear winter had been scientifically disproved.

Rejection by Leaders

Yet the scientists did not give up. In 2006, they returned to their labs to perform the research I have previously described. Their new research not only upheld the previous findings but also found that the earlier studies actually underestimated the environmental effects of nuclear war.

Dr. Robock of Rutgers and Dr. Toon of the University of Colorado have spent years attempting to bring official attention to their work and get follow-up research studies done by appropriate agencies in the federal government. In a recent (2016) interview, Dr. Toon stated:

The Department of Energy and the Department of Defense, which should be investigating this problem, have done absolutely nothing. They have not published a single paper, in the open literature, analyzing this problem … We have made a list of where we think the important issues are, and we have gone to every [federal] agency we can think of with these lists, and said “Don’t you think someone should study this?” Basically, everyone we have tried so far has said, “Well that’s not my job.”

In the same interview, Dr. Robock also noted:

The Department of Homeland Security really should fund this. They will fund you to study one terrorist bomb in New York City. When you explain to them that a war between India and Pakistan is a much greater threat to the U.S. homeland than one terrorist bomb, as horrible as that is, they respond with “Oh, well that’s not my job, go talk to some other program manager” — who, of course, doesn’t exist.

After the more recent series of studies were published in 2007 and 2008, Drs. Robock and Toon also made a number of requests to meet with members of the Obama administration. The scientists offered to brief Cabinet members and the White House staff about their findings, which they assumed would have a great impact upon nuclear weapons policy. Their offers were met with indifference.

Finally, after several years of trying, Drs. Robock and Toon were allowed an audience with John Holdren, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama on Science and Technology. Dr. Robock also eventually met with Rose Gottemoeller, then Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Dr. Robock has written to me that, after these meetings, he and Dr. Toon were left with the impression that neither Holdren nor Gottemoeller think the nuclear winter research “is correct.”

But it is not only Holdren and Gottemoeller who reject the nuclear winter research. Greg Mello, of the Los Alamos Study Group, cites a source who confirms that the group that determines the “full range of activities related to the development, production, maintenance (upkeep) and elimination (retirement, disassembly and disposal) of all United States nuclear weapons — the members of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Council — have stated that “the predictions of nuclear winter were disproved years ago.”

The members of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Council include:

  • Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
  • Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Under Secretary for Nuclear Security of the Department of Energy
  • Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
  • Commander of the United States Strategic Command

It is important to understand that some members of this group — especially the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) — also develop the policies that guide the use of nuclear weapons.

Perhaps General John Hyten, Head of USSTRATCOM, who is in charge of the U.S. nuclear triad, and General Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second highest ranking officer in the United States, have never seen or heard of the 21st century nuclear winter studies. Perhaps when they hear a question about “nuclear winter,” they only remember the smear campaigns done against the early studies. Or, maybe, they just choose not to accept the new scientific research on nuclear winter, despite the fact that it has withstood the criticism of the global scientific community.

Regardless, the rejection of nuclear winter research by the top leaders of the United States raises some profoundly important questions:

Do U.S. military and political leaders fully understand the consequences of nuclear war? Do they realize that even a “successful” nuclear first-strike against Russia could cause most Americans to die from nuclear famine?

In 2010, Drs. Toon and Robock wrote in Physics Today:

We estimate that the direct effects of using the 2012 arsenals would lead to hundreds of millions of fatalities. The indirect effects would likely eliminate the majority of the human population.

In 2013, Drs. Toon and Robock wrote in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that:

A nuclear war between Russia and the United States, even after the arsenal reductions planned under New START, could produce a nuclear winter. Hence, an attack by either side could be suicidal, resulting in Self-Assured Destruction.

Renewed Cold War

Although president-elect Trump appears to favor a return to the policy of détente with Russia, many if not most U.S. political leaders appear to support the Obama administration’s policies of direct confrontation with Putin’s Russia. Mainstream corporate media, including the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Washington Post, routinely engage in anti-Russian and anti-Putin rhetoric that surpasses the hate speech of the McCarthy era. Under President Obama, the United States has renewed the Cold War with Russia, with little or no debate or protest, and has subsequently engaged in proxy wars with Russia in Ukraine and Syria, as well as threatening military action against China in the South China Sea.

In response to what NATO leaders describe as Russia’s “dangerous and aggressive actions,” NATO has built up a “rapid-response force” of 40,000 troops on the Russian border in the Baltic States and Poland. This force includes hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, and heavy artillery. NATO troops stationed in Estonia are within artillery range of St. Petersburg, the second largest city of Russia.

The United States has deployed its Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system in Romania and is constructing another such BMD system in Poland. The Mark 41 launch system used in the Aegis Ashore systems can be used to launch a variety of missiles, including long-range nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

In other words, the United States has built and is building launch sites for nuclear missiles on the Russian border. This fact has been widely reported on Russian TV and has infuriated the Russian public. In June, Russian President Putin specifically warned that Russia would be forced to retaliate against this threat.

While Russian officials maintain that its actions are normal and routine, Russia now appears to be preparing for war. On October 5, 2016, Russia conducted a nation-wide civil defense drill that included 40 million of its people being directed to fallout sheltersReuters reported two days later that Russia had moved its Iskander nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, which borders Poland.

While the United States ignores the danger of nuclear war, Russian scholar Stephen Cohen reports that the danger of war with the United States is the leading news story in Russia. Cohen states:

Just as there is no discussion of the most existential question of our time, in the American political class — the possibility of war with Russia — it is the only thing being discussed in the Russian political class . . . These are two different political universes. In Russia, all the discussion in the newspapers, and there is plenty of free discussion on talk show TV, which echoes what the Kremlin is thinking, online, in the elite newspapers, and in the popular broadcasts, the number 1, 2, 3, and 4 topics of the day are the possibility of war with the United States.

Cohen goes on to say:

I conclude from this that the leadership of Russia actually believes now, in reaction to what the United States and NATO have said and done over the last two years, and particularly in reaction to the breakdown of the proposed cooperation in Syria, and the rhetoric coming out of Washington, that war is a real possibility. I can’t remember when, since the Cuban Missile Crisis, that the Moscow leadership came to this conclusion in its collective head.

Perhaps this narrative will change under president-elect Trump. However, he is inheriting a situation fraught with danger, which retains the possibility of direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine and Syria, as well as increasingly militarized confrontation with China in the South China Sea.

My own personal assessment of the state of the nuclear danger today is that it is profound. The United States is sleepwalking towards nuclear war. Our leaders have turned a blind eye to the scientifically predicted consequences of nuclear war, and our military appears to be intent on making “Russia back down.” This is a recipe for unlimited human disaster.

It is still not too late to seek dialogue, diplomacy, and détente with Russia and China, and to create a global dialogue about the existential dangers of nuclear war. We must return to the understanding that nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. This can be achieved if our political and military leaders listen to the warnings from the scientific community about the long-term global environmental consequences of nuclear war.

President-elect Trump and President Putin must publically acknowledge and discuss the peer-reviewed studies that predict a U.S.-Russian nuclear war will likely wipe out most of the human race. All nations and peoples have a vested interest in eliminating the nuclear arsenals that continue to threaten their existence.

This article is based on a presentation made by Mr. Starr at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Symposium in Santa Barbara, CA on October 24-25, 2016.

Steven Starr is the director of the University of Missouri’s Clinical Laboratory Science Program, as well as a senior scientist at the Physicians for Social Responsibility. He has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the Strategic Arms Reduction (STAR) website of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

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If This is Freedom and Democracy, What is Tyranny?

April 21st, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

“Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience… Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem… people are obedient, all these herdlike people.” — Howard Zinn

If truth be known, Americans are no more free than were Germans under Gestapo Germany. “Freedom and Democracy America” is the greatest lie in the world. 

Countries sink into tyranny easily. Those born today don’t know the freedom of the past and are unaware of what has been taken away. Some American blacks might think that finally after a long civil rights struggle they have gained freedom. But the civil rights that they gained have been taken away from all of us by the “war on terror.” Today black Americans are gratuitously shot down in the streets by police in ways that are worse than in Jim Crow days. 

American women might think that finally they have gained equality, and they have—the equality to be abused by police just like men. As John Whitehead reports,

women are forced by police to strip naked, often in public, and have their vaginas explored as part of a “drug search.” When I was a young man, society would not have tolerated any such intrusion on a woman. The officer and police chief would have been fired and if not prosecuted for rape, would have been beat into bloody pulps by the enraged men. 

Tyranny was brought to Americans intentionally by their government. Perhaps it began in 1992 with the unaccountable use of police power against an American family at Ruby Ridge. Randy Weaver’s 12 or 13 year old son was shot in the back and murdered by federal marshals. Then his wife was murdered with a shot through her throat while she stood at the door of her home holding a baby in her arms. There was no justification for this gratuitous violence against a peaceful American family, and the federal marshals who murdered were not held accountable.  The Congress, “the people’s representatives” held a hearing, and those responsible for murdering a family told the representatives that they had “to trust the police”.

A year later, 1993, the Clinton regime murdered, using poison gas as well as gun fire, more than 100 members of the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas.

Women and children comprised most of the victims of “freedom and democracy America.” The Branch Davidians had done nothing except be different. They were a threat to no one. But the Clinton criminal government knew that it could portray the Branch Davidians, as they were different, in unfavorable lights. They were said to be in possession of, and perhaps manufacturing, illegal machine guns. They were said to be having sex with underage girls in their collective.  

When the Branch Davidian compound was attacked by a tank spewing chemical warfare and then burnt to the ground, insouciant Americans were told that justice had been done to child abusers. No one objected that the same “justice” had also been done to the allegedly abused children.

Again the “representatives of the people” held a hearing. The result was that the Clinton criminal regime and Janet Reno got approval for dealing effectively with those who violate gun laws.

Ruby Ridge and Waco established the precedents that the US government could murder large numbers of Americans, and at Waco some foreigners, without consequence. The “representatives of the people” accepted the executive branch’s lies in order to avoid having to hold the executive branch accountable for what were clearly without any doubt capital crimes against American citizens for which the federal perpetrators of these crimes should have been tried and executed.

These two instances established the precedent that the US government could murder US citizens at will.

The next step was to take away the constitutional and legal protections of citizens that are in the Bill of Rights, the amendments to the US Constitution, and are, or were, institutionalized in legal practices.

The false flag attack of September 11, 2001, was the instrument for deep-sixing the bill of rights. The George W. Bush regime made us “safe” by taking away our civil liberties. Habeas corpus, the foundation of liberty, was destroyed by the executive branch’s assertion that the President on his sole authority, the US Constitution notwithstanding, can detain US citizens indefinitely without evidence, without going before a court, without any accountability to law whatsoever.

The Obama regime not only endorsed this murder of the US Constitution, “American’s First Black President” even went further. Obama declared that he had the power to sit in his office and write down names of US citizens whom he could murder at his will without accountability.  

Congress did not object. The Supreme Court did not object. The American media did not object. The law schools and bar associations did not object. The Republican Party did not object. The Democratic Party did not object. The American people did not object. Washington’s allies in Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada did not object. The Christian churches did not object.  

I objected, and a few others like me, such as John Whitehead.

9/11 clearly, without any doubt, destroyed American liberty. Even if you are so brainwashed as to believe an obviously false story of the event, even if you believe that a few Saudi Arabians without government or intelligence service support outwitted all 16 US intelligence agencies, the National Security Council, all intelligence agencies of Washington’s vassals abroad, outwitted Israel’s Mossad, US Air Traffic Control, caused US Airport Security to fail four times in one hour on the same day, and prevented for the first time in history the US Air Force from sending fighters to intercept off course airliners, the fact remains the same: the US government used 9/11 to destroy the constitutional protections of US liberty.

The raw, ugly, but true fact that “our” government has destroyed American liberty is the reason that everyone of us is subject to experiencing the abuses that John Whitehead describes. 

Who will be next? You? Me? Your Wife? Your Son? Your daughter? Your aged and infirm parents?  

When it happens, it was the American people who permitted it.

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Terrorists Are Terrorists and Not “Rebels” in Syria

April 21st, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Waging war depends on disinformation, deception and Big Lies – used to justify the unjustifiable.

Conflict in Syria isn’t civil. All anti-government forces are US-supported terrorists (under various “jihadist” Al Qaeda affiliated labels). Names of different groups don’t matter. 

They’re all cut out of the same cloth.  They can’t exist without foreign support. State actors bear full responsibility for turning Syria into a charnel house.

After over six years of war, hundreds of thousands are dead, mostly defenseless men, women, children, the elderly and infirm – millions internally or externally displaced.

Their struggle is ours. The same goes for their counterparts in other US war theaters – victims of imperial viciousness.

What country will America attack next? How many more millions will die or suffer unspeakable human misery? How long will it take before full-blown tyranny rules the United States, fantasy democracy dispensed with altogether.

On April 20 in Damascus, independent journalists visiting Assad’s political and media advisor Bouthiana Shaaban explained that

“terrorist(s) (are) terrorist(s) and not…rebel(s).”

Falsely characterizing them is part of the West’s great deception, manufacturing false legitimacy for pure evil.

“(T)he main problem lies in the misleading (anti-Syria) media, (creating) a wall which separates the Western citizen from the reality of events” on the ground, Shaaban explained.

The April 4 false flag CW attack in Khan Sheikhoun and Trump’s April 7 aggression, striking Syria’s Shayrat airbase, are two of the latest examples.

Assad had nothing to do with the attack, killing scores including dozens of children, injuring many others.

Russia and Iran called for an independent “unbiased investigation” into what happened, involving OPCW experts and others from Russia, Western countries and regional ones.

According to Sergey Lavrov, efforts to block the Russian/Iranian proposal indicate “those who are taking such attempts have unclean conscience.”

“Evidence (is) multiplying that this was an orchestrated event…(T)here are too many discrepancies in the (official Western) version.” Their officials are blocking “steps that could help establish the truth about what happened.

Separately, Lavrov said it’s

“evident…that…false information” about the Khan Sheikhoun incident is part of “the longstanding…regime change” plan. “I’m sure that we must prevent it,” he stressed.

Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced Trump’s Khan Sheikhoun attack as “an act of aggression against a sovereign nation.”

On Thursday, Russia’s Armaments Non-Proliferation and Control Department director Mikhail Ulyanov explained

“no steps (so far) have…been taken…to investigate” the April 4 CW incident.

Blaming Damascus for happened is “groundless,” he stressed. He blasted Britain and Washington for claiming Syrian culpability is “absolutely certain.”

“We heard them say the same things” ahead of Bush/Cheney/Blair’s 2003 Iraq invasion.

Assad said his government formally asked UN authorities “to send a delegation in order to investigate what happened in Khan Sheikhoun.”

“Of course till this moment they didn’t send (any) because the West and the US blocked any delegation from coming” – wanting hard truths about what happened suppressed, proving Syria had nothing to do with what happened.

OPCW British nationals said samples from Khan Sheikhoun indicated sarin or a similar toxin was used in the April 4 attack – despite not visiting the site first hand, invalidating their claim.

What happened was a state-sponsored “false flag,” Assad stressed – to blame his government and justify Trump’s aggression.

On April 16, he tweeted:

“Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly, we have no choice!”

Is he planning to unleash it more aggressively on humanity than already – to justify the unjustifiable at a time America’s only enemies are invented ones?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new 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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

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Syria Reportedly Moved Warplanes to Russian Airbase

April 21st, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Unconfirmed reports suggest Damascus moved its warplanes to Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in Latakia, Syria – for protection against further US aggression, likely wanting them destroyed.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment, saying

“(t)he Kremlin does not have any comments on this issue. We do not deal with the movement of warplanes. You better forward this question to the Defense Ministry.”

Russia uses Khmeimim airbase for its own aerial operations in combating terrorism in Syria. It’s well protected with state-of-the-art S-400 air defense capability – able to strike targets up to 400 km away at altitudes up to 90,000 feet with precisions accuracy.

If reports are accurate, Russia will now protect Syria warplanes against further US attacks – perhaps Putin’s response to Trump, warning against more attacks against Syria’s military, calling his April 7 strike on Shayrat airbase an “illegal act of aggression.”

At Khmeimim, Syria’s military will be able to track all foreign aircraft illegally operating in its airspace. Its intelligence officials will be able to work more closely with their Russian counterparts, operating jointly from the same location.

On Wednesday, an unnamed Israeli defense official falsely claimed Syria retained up to three tons of CWs, calling Washington’s April 7 strike on its Shayrat airbase “another development in the fighting” ahead of more to come.

Separately on Wednesday, Russian Prime Ministry Dmitry Medvedev blasted Washington, saying

“(d)uring the election campaign, (Trump) called for combating the so-called Islamic State, saying that it did not matter what the political regime in Syria was because the war on terror was the main goal.”

“But what do we see now? The first step the new US administration took concerning Syria resulted in a strike on the government troops. It means, their fight is not against terrorism but against the Syrian government.”

“(F)urther tensions will only lead to the destruction of the Syrian state, as well as to a partial victory of the terrorists, which is not in line with our plans at all.”

“Our government and the Defense Ministry will continue their work in this connection.”

Russia has no ally in Washington – not in combating terrorism or anything else. Adversarial relations remain. The Trump administration bears full responsibility.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new 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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

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Peter Oborne is associate Editor of the Spectator, former chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph, columnist for the Daily Mail and prolific author. His latest book, “Not the Chilcot Report” (1) is a forensic analysis of the duplicities of Tony Blair and his administration relating to Iraq’s invasion and the cataclysmic effect on the region.

 “The defining calamity of the post-cold war era”, he writes, took place in 2003. As his publisher writes:

“Oborne provides a forensic examination of the way evidence was doctored and the law manipulated in 2002 and 2003 in order to justify a war for regime change. The government bent facts to fit its determination to join the US invasion, Parliament failed to scrutinise evidence, the intelligence service was perverted, and the media lost its head.” The all was: “the making of a disaster.”

This week in a piece headed: “How I long to see Blair in the dock being called to account for Iraq”, Oborne writes:

“After almost a decade of making money by milking the contacts he had made as Prime Minister, Tony Blair recently made a surprise comeback to domestic politics … I dare say that Mr. Blair is hoping we will all forget that he led this country to war against Iraq – a calamity that is still unfolding today with the horrors of ISIS.”

However, as the article points out, all is not forgotten and Tony Blair and his colleagues arguably lied their way to a war of aggression, described by the Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, Justice Robert H. Jackson as:

“the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

It is on the basis of this crime that Mr. Blair:

“faces being taken to court in a private prosecution charging him with telling lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in order to take Britain into an illegal war.” 

Whilst many have attempted and are still trying to hold Blair to account, this litigant is justified in having a special grievance. He is both an Iraqi and none other than:

“the former Chief of Staff of Saddam Hussein’s army, General Abdul-Wahid Shannan ar-Ribat (who) is seeking a judicial review of a District Judge’s decision last November that Blair had ‘immunity’ from criminal prosecution.”

There are uncounted round the world who will fervently wish the General well in another battle of enormity.

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Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) continued its operations in the city of Daraa. HTS forces are attacking the remaining Syrian Army points in the northern part of Al-Manshiyeh and the nearby areas. On April 19th, HTS claimed that it had managed to destroy a tank and a heavy rocket launcher belonging to the Syrian army in the al-Sajna district north of Al-Manshiyeh. HTS also used an explosive house to target the remaining Syrian Army positions in Al-Manshiyeh.

The US Special Operations Forces reportedly carried out an air landing in three sites in the ISIS-held area in eastern Syria last Monday night. US forces landed in the area of the Maizala Dam, the desert town of Granig, and the surrounding area of the T2 in Al-Tanf in the Al-Mayadin desert, according to local sources.

On April 19th, ISIS announced in Deir Ezzor mosques that US troops had evacuate spies who used to work in the area. If true, this would be the fourth time during this month alone in which the US has evacuated spies from the ISIS-held areas.

Pro-militant sources have announced that so-called opposition forces have created a new militant group, the Eastern Shield Army (or the Al-Sharqiyah Shield Army) in order to capture Qamishly, Haskhah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqah. The Al-Sharqiyah Shield Army will fight the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and ISIS. The group also released a video showing a few poorly armed fighters during what appeared to be a military training exercise.

Meanwhile, another militant alliance is being set up in order to consolidate military control in the province of Idlib, in northern Latakia and in western Aleppo, Al Jazeera English reported, citing its own sources in the Free Syrian Army.  The newly formed militant alliance will allegedly be funded by the so-called “Friends of Syria”, in other words, the United States, the EU, Turkey, and Gulf monarchies. It is stated in the report that the newly formed alliance will fight the Syrian government and will not fight Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda). Indeed, nobody is surprised with this decision.  So-called moderate opposition groups backed up by the Friends of Syria are well known friends of al-Qaeda. It’s interesting to note that it is also stated in the al Jazeera report that in January of 2016 the CIA pressured some militant groups in order to force them to ignore the Astana talks backed up by Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), predominantly consisting of members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), has created a “civilian council” to rule the Syrian city of Raqqah after its expected liberation from ISIS terrorists. The announcement took place after a meeting in the SDF-held town of Ain Issa located north of Raqqah.

These developments clearly show that foreign sponsors of various factions involved in the war are increasing their activity in Syria ahead of the expected division of spheres of influence after the collapse of ISIS.

Now, the key question is what areas will the sides really control after the fall of ISIS. An important competition will take place for gas and oil fields in the countryside of Palmyra and Deir Ezzor.

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A Sad Day for Turkey

April 21st, 2017 by Prof. Alon Ben-Meir

The razor-thin victory (51.3% to 48.7%) of Turkey’s President Erdogan in the referendum held on April 16 in fact denies Erdogan the mandate to govern with the sweeping powers the new constitution grants the President, especially when the results of the referendum are seriously contested. Even if there was no outright fraud or irregularities in the votes (which by all accounts were rampant), the conditions under which the referendum was held made a mockery of free and fair elections. Given Erdogan’s domestic and foreign policy conduct leading up to the referendum, the US and the EU must now seriously reevaluate Turkey’s role in NATO, its viability as an ally in the fight against ISIS, and its trustworthiness under the presidency of Erdogan.

There are at least 25 factors that delegitimize the referendum and its results, and once implemented, the repercussions on Turkey’s future will be dire and essentially seal the fate of the country’s prospective democracy:

The referendum was held under a state of emergency, in place since the July 2016 coup;

The referendum followed a purge, spreading fear and anxiety throughout the country;

The referendum was held under strict security conditions due to acts of terror by the PKK and ISIS;

Opposition members were intimidated, many of whom were imprisoned, shot, or beaten;

Concerns over personal safety inhibited the expression of a plurality of views;

Millions of Turks believe the referendum codifies Turkey as a dictatorship;

Many instances of voter fraud appeared to be captured on camera;

The new constitution inflicts a death blow to checks and balances in exercising power;

The “Yes” campaign received far greater media coverage than its opponents;

Professional associations were not allowed to hold campaign events to promote “NO”;

Top officials distorted campaign narratives equating the “NO” supporters to terrorists;

Erdogan falsely portrayed the referendum as the people’s choice in order to consolidate power;

The razor-thin victory strongly suggests that Erdogan has no mandate to rule;

Nearly 1 million ballots that were not stamped were considered valid;

Referendum shows that a cult of personality has become the new governing principle;

Erdogan skillfully used foreign foes and conspiracy theories to rally his Islamic base;

Domestic and international observers voiced serious doubts about legality of the process;

Voters were forced to vote on 18 amendments affecting 72 articles in a single package;

Voters weren’t provided with impartial information to make an informed choice;

The electoral board lacked transparency, whose sessions were closed to the public;

The arrest of over 100 journalists under emergency laws prohibited free expression;

A total of 158 media outlets were closed, including newspapers, TV, and radio stations;

Prior to the referendum, more than 1,500 civil society organizations were dissolved;

The freedom of assembly and association were restricted under the state of emergency;

Many Turks who fled the country out of fear were unable to vote.

Most observers from inside and outside the country predict that the referendum and its result will lead to greater polarization of the country. The fact that the new social contract is now based on an extremely fragile social, political, and economic foundation is bound to backfire.

Given that a significant segment of the population believes that the referendum was stolen, it lacks legitimacy. It will be extremely difficult for Erdogan to embark on a substantial economic development program without overwhelming public support; this will likely spell further economic stagnation.

The powers bestowed on Erdogan will allow him to continue with his purge, and instead of reaching out to the opposition he will more than likely crush it. In his determination to consolidate his absolute powers, he will have to resort to increased repression and rule by decree, which will certainly instigate further street protests and over time widespread unrest.

Under such a constitution, Turkey will further distance itself from Western values, which will have a serious adverse impact on its prospect of joining the EU. Moreover, Erdogan’s statement, immediately after the result of the referendum, that he would reinstate the death penalty, will effectively end accession talks with the EU.

Erdogan will drive with even greater speed the Islamization of the nation, as he remains unwavering in his objective to make Turkey the leading Sunni Muslim state, which will further alienate the Arab countries who view Turkey with suspicion and are concerned over Erdogan’s ambition and his meddling in Arab affairs.

The judiciary will become increasingly arbitrary, and political plurality will remain in name only. Indeed, rather than bringing the country together, the referendum will widen the gap between the population and the ruling party. Moreover, the academic community will be further estranged from the political process.

Finally, whether or not the West admits it, the referendum raises serious questions about Turkey’s commitment to NATO and its importance as an ally. Erdogan has shown time and again that he is untrustworthy in the way he is dealing with Western powers.

His repeated threats to flood Europe with refugees unless he gets his way, and his challenge to the US to stop aiding its ally, the Syrian Kurds (the YPG)—whom he views as terrorists assisting the PKK in their battle against his government—must simply be rejected.

Even though Turkey has major strategic value to the West, the US and the EU should stop sugarcoating their relations with Erdogan. Now that he has accomplished his goal, he must understand that he can no longer have it both ways. Reassessment of the ties between the two sides is overdue, taking into full consideration that Erdogan is not and is unlikely to become a friend of the West.

To be sure, it is a sad day for the Turkish people, who are witnessing with fear and deep trepidation how their dream of living in an enlightened, progressive, and secular country is dissolving in front of their eyes.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.
[email protected]                            
Web: www.alonben-meir.com

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Share Information, Share Questions, Share Debates, Share Knowledge

April 20th, 2017 by The Global Research Team

The world is entering a new era, and information is being disseminated at an incredible speed, from increasingly dubious and agglomerated sources. Global Research needs the help of readers like you to spread the word and champion our mission.

If Global Research has in any way helped shape your worldview, we ask you to help us maintain and increase our reach far and wide, so that the stories the mainstream media neglect, often intentionally, can come to light and help educate and form other people’s worldview too.

In doing so, you can lead the way and contribute to the discussions on global affairs that are taking place all around us. We want you to help us ask questions, drive debate, and participate in building information based on true knowledge.

We’d like you to share the articles we publish on GlobalResearch.ca and forward our newsletter emails to your peers, colleagues, and friends.

You can go even further by connecting and engaging with your current network, by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other social media.

Start today by sharing these links with your network:

Foreign Policy and “False Flags”: Trump’s “War and Chocolate” Reality Show

“Making America Great Again” by Reducing the World to Ashes?

Washington’s False Flag: United Nations Confirmed that US Supported Syrian “Rebels” Were Using Chemical Weapons

Ask questions. Use insights. Make connections. Share knowledge.

With thanks from The Global Research Team

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Video: Is Trump Learning the Ropes of US Foreign Policy?

April 20th, 2017 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

US president Donald Trump appears to have backtracked on one his most controversial campaign platforms. During the campaign season, president Trump launched a bitter attack against the North Alliance Treaty, NATO, describing it as obsolete.

But on Wednesday, the president reversed his view on the military alliance, saying it’s no longer obsolete. His attack against the NATO was one of his most controversial campaign promises, which caused a lot of unease among Washington’s European allies. Trump however insisted that NATO members should pay more money for military budget of the military alliance.

Comments and Analysis by Michel Chossudovsky

 

 

 

 

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First published in April 2016

We humans have been in existence for less than 1% of life on Earth – In the short time of our existence, we have impacted everything; every part of our small blue planet. Our home!

We have been around for only 200,000 years – Archaeologists have calculated that humans originated about 200,000 years ago in the Middle Palaeolithic period in southern Africa, and migrated out of Africa around 70,000 years ago and began colonizing the entire planet. We spread to Eurasia around 40,000 years ago (there is no geologic boundary between Europe and Asia – so they are combined as Eurasia.) and Oceania (roughly Australia to Fiji), and reached the Americas just 14,500 years ago.

Humans are a member of a species of bipedal primates. We walk upright. We also have opposable thumbs so we can grip ‘things’. We have, what we think of as a highly developed brain. And so, we have called ourselves ‘homo sapiens’. In Latin, “Homo” means “man” and “Sapiens” means “wise”. Wise Men.

Dinosaurs existed for 135 million years – It is estimated that dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for 135 million years, from 231.4 million years ago till around 65 million years ago.

Dinosaurs lived for a greater time on the planet than man. Scientists explain the extinction of dinosaurs with one or two hypotheses – that the extinction was due to an extraterrestrial impact, such as an asteroid or comet, or, a massive bout of volcanism.

We humans though, have been around for a comparatively short while, yet we are making ourselves extinct due to our own activities.

In our short existence, we have impacted every corner of the world with smog, with acid rain; by breaking-up habitats and causing extinctions.

We have taken the route to deforestation to make more room for ourselves. And, through sheer cruelty and indiscriminate killing, we have disturbed the ecological balance of nature. Birds and animals are dying and gradually getting extinct. Seasons and the soil have been changed harmfully. We are waging ecocide to garner greater power to ourselves. We are cruel without remorse and we hold nature, environmental issues, truth and justice in contempt. We will soon be wiping ourselves out due to man-made climate changes and devastation of food and water supply. And, we also wage war with each other. We are killing ourselves.

Our excuse – Cleansing, development and progress – The irony of it all is we justify our destructive tendencies as intervention and manipulation – for cleansing, development and progress. And we do this because we suffer from a delusion that sees us as being separate; we think that we live in a higher plane than everything else. But trees, birds, animals and men are all inseparable parts of nature.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

~ E.F. Schumacher

We humans are part of the same ecosystem. Each creature on this planet has a reason for its existence and is as important to life on earth as we (humans) think we are.

We are dependent on nature. Nature is not dependent on us. When we destroy an ecosystem, we are destroying life that depends on that ecosystem. Humans and nature are powerfully linked and co-evolving. All living things in an ecosystem depend on all the other things – living and non-living – i.e. organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings for continued survival, to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. All the actions and reactions that take place and affect one part of an ecosystem, affect the whole ecosystem in some way or the other.

We are only one small part of the web of life, yet we, in this short time of our existence have treated our planet so shoddily and with such a callous contempt that we have irreversibly damaged our planet and shortened our own existence on the planet.

When nature cannot defend itself there will be a backlash. Nature cannot resist our wiles and will eventually succumb to our destructive tendencies. When forests are mined for minerals and other resources and laid bare of all their biodiversity, desertification will take place. Lakes, rivers and water resources will dry up.

There is no wisdom in man killing what sustains man … and with it, humankind!

The backlash will not be nature fighting back! But, of nature as we know it, dying out!

Homo Sapiens… Wise Men. Not at all!? Our wisdom is highly disputable. Dinosaurs were considered unintelligent, due to the small size of their brain compared to their body size. They existed for 135 million years. They didn’t kill themselves. But, man is destroying mankind.

Our planet is not in danger. Humans are in danger. From ourselves. Humankind is on the road to extinguish ourselves. Sooner rather than later. The future for all of us is bleak. The planet will continue as it has for the 99% of the time before man, it will adjust and continue. Perhaps with other life forms, other vegetation, other landscapes.

The earlier we learn to curb our innate inclination to be brutal, to pollute and to annihilate, and the earlier we will learn to live with compassion and in peaceful co-existence with ourselves and with nature, the better it is for us and our continued existence.

“When we respect the environment, then nature will be good to us. When our hearts are good, then the sky will be good to us. The trees are like our mother and father, they feed us, nourish us, and provide us with everything; the fruit, leaves, the branches, the trunk. They give us food and satisfy many of our needs. So we spread the Dharma (truth) of protecting ourselves and protecting our environment, which is the Dharma of the Buddha. When we accept that we are part of a great human family—that every being has the nature of Buddha—then we will sit, talk, make peace. I pray that this realization will spread throughout our troubled world and bring humankind and the earth to its fullest flowering. I pray that all of us will realize peace in this lifetime and save all beings from suffering”. Maha Ghosananda (1929 – 2007) revered Cambodian Buddhist monk – known as the Gandhi of Cambodia 

Pratap Antony, Passive activist/Active pacifist writer on ecology and environment, compassion and humanity, dogs, social justice, music and dance.

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End Game: The War Machine Goes On

By Arthur D. Robbins, April 20, 2017

To yearn for peace is to embrace war. What we need is a society where war and peace are not two choices, like night and day. What we need is a society in which war is not an option, where peace becomes irrelevant. Perhaps JFK got it right when he said, what we want is not peace but, “a warless world founded in warless societies.” (Carroll, 285)

Cyprus and the Death of Democracy in Turkey

By Andreas C Chrysafis, April 20, 2017

Today, Cyprus faces a greater danger than before. Yet, the government appears not to have a strategic plan or a defense policy to deal with this reality but will “consult with the other EU leaders”, so it has claimed. This can only imply there is no strategic policy in place.

The Oklahoma City Bombing After 22 Years

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, April 20, 2017

Americans, being the insouciant people that they are, never noticed that the Murrah building blew up from the inside out, not from the outside in.

However, Air Force General Benton K. Partin, the US Air Force’s top explosive expert, did notice. He prepared a detailed report containing “conclusive proof that the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was not caused solely by the truck bomb. Evidence shows that the massive destruction was primarily the result of four demolition charges placed at critical structural points at the third floor level.” Here is a copy of General Partin’s letter accompanying the report he sent to US Senator Trent Lott

The Secrets of Long Life and Anti-Aging: The Passing of Emma Morano at 117 Years Old… How did She do it?

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, April 19, 2017

The suggestion from the late Emma Morano, who recently passed at a venerable 117 years, being, supposedly, the only confirmed and recorded centurion remaining from 1899, was one of humble egg consumption. The diet was simple, though eventually, losing one’s teeth helped to move one away from more complex solids.

Israel and Islamist Militias: A Strange and Recurring Alliance

By Adeyinka Makinde, April 20, 2017

Israel’s specifically verifiable relationships with terror groups officially opens it up to the charge of being a state sponsor of terrorism. It undermines any moral high ground it claims to have when referring to enemies such as Iran as sponsors and perpetrators of terror.

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Trump’s Art of Confusion in Syria

April 20th, 2017 by Dr. Anthony F. Shaker

Donald Trump has the reputation of preferring, always, to negotiate business from a position of strength. While this is hardly unusual, it takes considerably more skill to negotiate from a position of weakness.

Journalists and think-tank gurus have been watching closely to see how, after his hard beating at the hands of the media and powerful establishment forces inside the United States, he will establish himself—not as businessman but—in the international arena.

The Tomahawk missile strikes on a Syrian air force base have certainly earned him accolades from inveterate enemies, even if his about-face on the Syrian president in the Rose Garden, with the Jordanian king at his side, has confirmed the worst fears about the inherent weakness of a vacillating president.

The unexpected naval attack on the Syrian airbase has revealed two even more important things. The first is the stubborn weakness of the United States’ position in Syria. I think the best way to describe the situation now is that, instead of cleverly unblocking the political deadlock on Syria, as he may have wished to do, his move has gravely exacerbated the preexisting fragility of the US. His equivocation and sudden militarism have boxed him in along with the other two Western powers on US’s coattails—England and France.

So far, we have only seen bombast, wild declarations, and one attack against a Syrian base from left field. Days later, he obscenely recounted to Fox Business television that the decision to launch the attack, which killed at least ten civilians in nearby villages and several servicemen, was taken during dessert with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Image result for trump + jinping

“We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it. And I said, ‘Mr. President, let me explain something to you’—this was during dessert—‘we’ve just fired 59 missiles.’”

With the abject failure of his anti-immigration executive orders and Obamacare initiative, on the home front, it seems accurate to conclude that Trump has effectively been brought to his knees by the neocons and liberals alike.

But there is a side to Trump’s “negotiating” persona that we should not forget besides his infatuation with strength at everyone else’s expense. The second important, then, concerns the tactic he learned in business of throwing his opponent off balance with unpredictable, even irrational actions. It’s a classic maneuver in a game like chess. Well executed, it has the potential of abruptly changing the course of a losing streak. But chess is played with rigid rules, and interstate politics is not really a game. It is not even like running a business empire. There is a lot more at stake than can be crunched in numbers, recorded on corporate ledgers, or traded in dollars.

The Madman Theory

It was Henry Kissinger who refined unpredictability—the Madman Theory—into an art. That said, in one of the two main theatres of conflict he was involved in, he had to opt for the B-52s when things failed to go his way at the Paris negotiations—massive bombardments of North Vietnamese cities that exceeded any during WWII and earned him the reputation of a war criminal. The object was to show to what extent the US was prepared to go to secure its “interests” in Southeast Asia. We know the outcome of that conflict.

At the height of the 1973 October War, his other theatre, Israel had barely managed to recover the Golan Heights and Sinai Desert it had been occupying, but only after losing 92 warplanes and almost the entire war. The tide began to turn thanks only to Kissinger’s insistence that the US create an “air bridge” for resupply, fierce pressure on the USSR and—we now know—rumors of a threat by Israel to use its nuclear weapons for demonstration. The unprecedented idea of “peace” talks that Kissinger subsequently put on the table during armistice talks, his master stroke, effectively neutralized Egypt. He went on to extract one humiliating concession after another from a groveling Anwar Sadat eager for the US embrace. After this, Israel had a free hand to invade Lebanon in 1978 and again, even more devastatingly, in 1982 without the slightest objection from Sadat. The second invasion, which took the lives of around 24,000 Lebanese citizens, was a watershed in Middle Eastern. Nothing would be the same again for Israel, either, and the whole region has been writhing in despair and anger ever since.

This is the predictable outcome of the “clever” tactic of changing the rules of the game for no higher purpose than raw self-interest. Kissinger considered it the mark of a greatest statesman to keep redefining goals and to have “the strength to contemplate chaos.” This, of course, has been the tactic of choice of the neocons, who have been instrumental in the demolition of one country after another in an imperious effort to reshape Middle East according to their own image. As ingenious as it may sound, it carries its own seeds of self-destruction. It’s rather easy to point this out in hindsight, but the effectiveness of unpredictability and the air of madness has clearly been wearing off since George W. Bush’s 9-11 presidency.

Baffling Contradictions

Instead of allowing Trump to “negotiate” from a stronger position than the one Obama left him with, vis-à-vis a vilified adversary like Russia, the 59 Tomahawk missiles have further weakened his hand. In their aftermath, on April 6, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson immediately enshrined the assault as a presidential moment. “This clearly indicates the president is willing to take decisive action when called for. The use of prohibited chemical weapons, which violates a number of international norms and violates existing agreements, called for this type of… kinetic military response,” he said.

His declaration would have been nothing out of the ordinary had it not been made in the wake of a baffling series of contradictory statements by Trump officials in Washington and at the United Nations. The media had been reporting the all-round confusion and consternation that resulted right up to Trump’s odd change of heart. The strikes came on the heels of two sets of declarations by American officials. Tillerson’s, to the effect that the fate of President Assad will be decided by the people of Syria; and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s broadside against the Syrian president and Russian support for his government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused her of sabotaging the Geneva talks, a charge that has been repeated several times. But she persisted, at one point claiming that “regime change is going to happen.”

But then after the strike, Tillerson emphasized,

“I would not in any way attempt to extrapolate that to a change in our policy or our posture relative to our military activities in Syria today. There’s been no change in that status. But I think it does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line … in the most heinous of ways.”

While falling short of a rectification of Haley’s intemperate diplomacy, this view was reiterated later even by the “Mad Dog” Defense Secretary Mattis, who is religiously anti-Iran.

Despite this the escalation continued. The White House spokesman let slip the idea that “barrel bombs,” a militarily undefined concept, may constitute grounds for another US assault, only to clarify later,

“Nothing has changed in our posture. The president retains the option to act in Syria against the Assad regime whenever it is in the national interest, as was determined following that government’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.”

Well, is the US government concerned to protect the national interest or the innocent victims? Is the policy ambiguity painted by all those persons by design, part of Trump’s tactic of unpredictability to throw opponents off balance, or a sign of disorientation?

The G7 Summit

Image result for G7Whatever Trump may once have been entertaining, it failed to materialize at the G7 summit into anything usable for pushing Putin around. In fact, the very idea of forcing Russia “into a corner” was expressly rejected there. While his Secretary of State was busy assuring the world that Bashar al-Assad will not be part of Syria’s future, Trump appeared singularly incapable of parlaying the impact of the missile strikes, which basically reshuffled the cards, into a tangible gain for use against Russia. Despite the high hopes and affirmations of a unified stand, not to mention UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s rant about Assad being “toxic” and about the need to sanction both Russia and Syria, the Foreign Minister of the Italy, Angelino Alfano, was forced to admit at the end of the summit,

“At the moment there is no consensus on new sanctions as an effective instrument.”

All they could muster was enough agreement to have Tillerson relay an ultimatum-like demand to President Putin to turn away from Assad and join the West’s own—dreadfully ineffectual—strategy for a political solution. This obviously sidelined the indispensable efforts undertaken by Russia with its Astana initiative, which basically saved the Geneva talks. But the most tangible effect was to leave Tillerson waxing poetic about crimes against innocents “anywhere.”

“We rededicate ourselves to holding to account,” he announced at Sant’Anna di Stazzema, the scene of a Nazi massacre in Italy, “any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.”

Moralizing about victims is the last resort for the weaker party when the going gets tough. It’s cheap and it’s the oldest trick in the world, designed to avoid rational argument or a more sensible path in the face of a rout. In a longer statement, he took pains to scorn Russia’s “alignment with Iran and Hizbullah.” Self-importantly, he urged Putin him to abandon his important ally Iran and to waste no time aligning himself rather with the US.

The Moscow Meet

Translated, all this loud talk—in place of quiet but more effective diplomacy—ensured that he had to fly off to Moscow with an emptier hand than he had before the summit and the strikes. This is precisely what he was made to understand before the cameras upon sitting down in his chair opposite Lavrov’s team. As he was sitting down, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov fired off that

“primitiveness and loutishness are very characteristic of the current rhetoric coming out of Washington. We shall hope that this does not become the substance of American policy.”

Flanked by his own team and facing icy expressions from the Russian side of the table, Tillerson calmly said,

“I look forward to a very open, candid, frank exchange so that we can better define the U.S.-Russian relationship from this point forward.”

But Lavrov sternly told him,

“I won’t hide the fact that we have a lot of questions, taking into account the extremely ambiguous and sometimes contradictory ideas which have been expressed in Washington across the whole spectrum of bilateral and multilateral affairs. And of course, that’s not to mention that apart from the statements, we observed very recently the extremely worrying actions, when an illegal attack against Syria was undertaken.”

Image result for Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov + tillerson

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a news conference.

Bull’s eye. “Ambiguous” and “contradictory” are Trump’s quintessential style. To underline his words, Lavrov also noted the politically sensitive issue of the vacancies at the State Department. It was as if to say that not only will Russia not be dictated to based on lies and flimsy pretenses, but that at this stage it is keenly interested in conveying a single message to Trump: shape up or else.

Considering the dubious circumstances surrounding the so-called “gas attack,” it may well turn out that the missile strikes will come to haunt Trump for a long time. Worse than sabotaging the Geneva talks, which went dismally bad for the West and Saudi Arabia at the last endless session, they are trickling acid all over Trump’s foreign policy, whether it has been left deliberately inchoate or by accident.

Although Russia and Iran are demanding an independent investigation of the chemical gas incident, the West sought unsuccessfully to pass a modified draft of its original resolution at the Security Council that, once again, implied the guilt of the Syrian government, despite previous objections by other Security Council members and in the absence of even preliminary facts. Should an impartial investigation finally get underway, the tables can easily be turned on the West on its own turf. The whole case against Syria on the use of chemical weapons has been holding together only because of Western solidarity, as if the truth of anything could be established by a simple show of hands. The very idea that the Syrian warplanes’ target might have been a terrorist storage site is ridiculed out of hand as mere Russian and Syrian propaganda. Slowly, however, information is emerging. There are reports based on electronic data indicating that Mohammad Allouch and others on the Saudi- and Turkish-based opposition delegation knew about the “attack” before it happened.

The “Post-Tomahawk Missiles” Period

Image result for tomahawk missile

Post-Tomahawk missile attack is how some media have begun to portray the aftermath of Trump’s change of heart on Syria. Everything has changed. But everything has changed because now both sides are sharply aware that neither international diplomacy nor politics can run very far on personalities and personalized fixations, like the one currently on Assad. Crafting policy and trying to fit reality into it to advance the narrow interests of a single actor, to the exclusion of others, are too transparent. Lavrov has made this abundantly clear to his counterpart in Moscow, unambiguously rejecting the blame being pinned on Syria and, increasingly, Russia for the chemical incident in Khan Shaykhoun.

Before the missile strike, the West (US, U.K  and France) had been steadily boxing itself into a prickly corner with its almost uniform insistence that “Assad must go.” But Bashar al-Assad is just the president of a sovereign nation, whose fate no other state can be decide. Russia, China and other countries will not permit it. Syria is not Libya in the middle of the North African desert. Historically and geopolitically, it is the cog the undoing of which will bring down the whole edifice, as events in the last six years have clearly indicated.

The Syrian government has already shown readiness to accept the results of a free election, indicating that this is the only means by which divergent political forces will be able to sort out the country’s crisis. This happens also to conform to the principle of sovereignty. For Syria, Russia, Iran, China and others both in Arabic-speaking world and elsewhere, the stress has always been on Syrian political forces—not Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel on behalf of which the opposition is being accused of negotiating in Geneva. The Wahhabi armies gathered in Syria from over eighty countries are a big problem, because they are represented on the Saudi-based negotiating committee.

In the end, however, it will probably matter little how many trillions of dollars the UK and France have been hoping to attract from their client Wahhabi monarchies in the Persian Gulf by acting as their shills, or how little the US wishes to disturb Israel’s plan to dominate the Middle East by getting rid of Syria and Iran and dissolving the Palestinian people into meaningless bandustans perpetually deprived of the most fundamental rights.

The Art of Confident Obstinacy

In a nutshell, the West appears to have found itself inside a box that Israel and Saudi Arabia have unwittingly created for it. The logic of this position is simple: all we can do now is continue to insist that Assad must go. The Western mantra has the same empty air of absolute confidence and conviction that Pope Martin V conveyed to Byzantine Emperor Manuel Palaeologus in 1422, echoing what Clement IV told to Michael Paleaologus even two centuries earlier. This is an old story. Both popes had been hoping to convert the maddingly unconvertible Byzantines to their Western Church’s teachings—considered by the Byzantines as too radical and sectarian—before they could expect support and be saved from the Ottomans.

But the Holy See was toothless. Behind its arrogant mask there was nothing but unending chaos in the lands over which it reigned from Rome: the isolated, under-populated former Roman provinces to the northwest, now a backwater. It spread its influence there by disengaging from all other forms of Christianity it refused to tolerate. This hostility toward the “Orient,” similar to today’s, persisted to the bitter end. Just before Constantinople was finally captured by the technologically superior Ottoman navy, the only words of comfort the Pope would offer the Byzantine Emperor were:

“The Turks will fear to attack you if they know you are united to the rest of Christendom, and Christians will come to your help with more eagerness if they know that you are in full agreement with them.”

The greatest bluff is when the choice between submission or death is presented to an opponent by a tiny player.

Fast-forward to Syria in 2017. The Western powers persist in the belief that stubborn insistence is their ticket to salvage what is left of the armed “opposition,” which is being systematically wiped out both on the battlefield and through local reconciliation agreements. Behind all this is their obsession with “Iranian influence.” They want Russia to help it get rid of that influence. But this obsession is firmly focused on Israel, which the West is still struggling to make permanent seventy years on.

The idea of a “Sunni” alliance with Israel against Iran dates from the Reagan years and later picked up by Bush after 9-11. But note the recent stirrings among the American, Israeli, Saudi and Jordanian leaders. Last February, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that a plan had been presented, a year earlier, to Benjamin Netanyahu for a regional “peace initiative.” It happened at a secret summit meeting with then-US Secretary of State John Kerry. Saudi Arabia was in the forefront promoting this idea. Its intense interest in it came to prominent light when Salman al-Ansari, the president of the Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), founded only in March 2016 as a lobby group in Congress—where Saudi Arabia actively coordinates with Israel on both Syria and Iraq—has called for the kingdom to form a “collaborative alliance” with Israel. The hope is to be done with the “Palestinian issue,” once and for all. Imposing a settlement on the Palestinians backed up by a new “alliance,” goes the argument, would help “stop” Iran.

The Saudi position is now closely mirrored in the new attitude of the Syrian “opposition” toward Israel and Iran. This carries serious repercussions for Syria’s legally recognized sovereignty over the Golan Heights, including the Israeli-occupied parts. Now that Trump is in the White House, an alliance would give Saudi Arabia and Israel a shot at nothing less than regime change in Iran, a project in which some Saudi ministers have been special interest.

Original Sins

The Middle East policy of Trump and, more broadly, of the West looks erratic only to someone who does not acknowledge the original sin that has been driving it: the colonization of Palestine. It was the British mandate that facilitated the creation of a state of Israel in the fragile mosaic of the Middle East, the worst possible place for such an experiment. It happened on a land already inhabited by another people whose roots stretch back thousands of years.

Image result for us + palestineIsrael is now totally adapted to the Western policy that has emerged from this colossal event and which pays only lip service to the illegality of accelerating Jewish-only settlement. The issue of Palestine seems far away from Syria. but it continues to shape the region. Israel is determined to maintain control, by one means or another, of what is left of historic Palestine. It is heavily invested in Syria because its primary objective is to cement this dominance. It utilizes an extensive network of pressure groups across the United States, and consistently lobbies the US Congress for continued war in Syria. It has carried out regular air strikes, which amount to air cover for armed groups types fighting the government. It continues to coordinate logistically with al-Qaeda and other elements in the Golan area, Damascus and Homs, sharing satellite and other intelligence with them and providing medical treatment for their combatants. Its deep links with al-Qaeda groups have likely been facilitated by the Saudi Kingdom and Qatar, which routinely negotiates with the Nusra Front on various files.

But the truth of the matter is that Israeli activities with regard to Syria predate this seven-year war. They go back to the 1970s, as newly declassified CIA documents show. Destabilization moved apace since the end of the Clinton administration, after the collapse of the “peace negotiations,” in the course of which Israel consistently refused even to acknowledge the principle of returning the occupied Golan Heights. After Clinton, Bush pursued his own “vision” for the Middle East, Iran and Syria. It was then that Israeli belligerence reached a new crescendo. With Syria forced to end its Arab League-sanctioned presence in Lebanon, Israel seized the chance in 2006 to launch a murderous attack against Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure—another application of the Madman Theory openly espoused by generations of Israeli leaders.

That month-long invasion was, in effect, the Israeli and American response to new overtures in 2004 and 2005 by the Syrian government to restart peace negotiations. But it ended in failure, the second after its momentous 1982 invasion. This failure is what spurred Israel to move on directly to Syria, just when underground Syrian exiles were preparing their own military game plan, well before the outbreak of demonstrations on Syrian streets in late 2010. The country’s economy had been booming. Syria had been self-sufficient in medicine, manufacturing 95% of its medicines products. It exported pharmaceutical and agricultural products, and its fabrics industry rivaled Turkey’s.

Foreign intervention has practically its economy. But its military has stood its ground. Destroying it or demanding that it be shared with Wahhabi armed  elements, which are hungering to take over after a peace settlement, would completely pulverize Syria. Any reasoning person has to infer from the fixation on Assad, not to mention the threat of war crimes tribunals even after a peaceful resolution, that the Western goal must be the destruction of Syria. Either that or the West has gone stark raving mad.

As the chaos continues to spread around the Middle East with every failure, trying to “pressure” Russia and Iran into abandon Syria seems to be a recipe for a much wider conflagration, one that could easily become uncontrollable.

Anthony Shaker, PhD, is a specialist in Islamic thought and history. He authored numerous articles and books, including his most recent book, Modernity, Civilization and the Return to History (Vernon Press, 2017). He also served as an Executive Councilor for the party of the Official Opposition, Canadian Parliament. 

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Soon after it had been re-constituted in the new parliament, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) issued  a statement in October 2015 saying that an investigation into the drone strikes in which British nationals were killed was an “immediate priority”.

Fifteen months later, in December 2016, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) put a short note on its website saying that it had handed over its report, UK Lethal Drone Strikes in Syria, to the Prime Minister after completing its inquiry and expected a redacted version would be published in the New Year. Four months later we are still waiting.

While the Joint Human Rights Committee (JHRC) undertook a more general investigation into the policy and legal basis of British forces using armed drones for targeted killing (their report was published in May 2016), the ISC inquiry looked much more specifically at the UK drone strike targeting Reyaad Khan, as well as  the involvement of the UK in further targeted drone strikes against British citizens including Junaid Hussein and Mohammed Emwazi in Syria.

However, at the Liaison Committee in January 2016, where the Chairs of the main select committees have an opportunity to directly question the Prime Minister, it emerged that the ISC would not necessarily have access to all the intelligence that led to the strikes in which UK drones were involved. It appeared that the Committee was barred from seeing military intelligence from “current operations” and the sticking point was whether the strikes on Khan and others were still part of “current operations”.

Andrew Tyrie, Chair of the Liaison Committee stated after the meeting:

“On the basis of today’s evidence, the intelligence and security committee will not be able to do a thorough job. The prime minister should reconsider his decision to prevent the ISC from looking at information on the military aspects of the drone strikes. Unless he permits this, the ISC will be incapable of providing reassurance to parliament and the public that the strikes were both necessary and proportionate.”

Dominic Grieve MP, Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee

Soon after the meeting, the Chair of the ISC, Dominic Grieve wrote to the Harriet Harman stating that while

“it has taken rather longer than we had hoped to finalise the scope of our Inquiry and to reach agreement on the disclosure of material to the Committee…. I can now say that we have reached agreement and this had been confirmed in a letter from the Prime Minister…”

While the exact scope of the inquiry has yet to emerge, in the January 2016 letter to Harman, Grieve wrote:

“Where the ISC can bring a unique contribution to Parliament collective oversight of this policy is in its statutory power to access highly classified material and its ability to examine the intelligence which led to the decision to conduct the operation.  How serious and imminent was the threat and what would have been the consequences of inaction?  What intelligence was there regarding the viability or otherwise of actions, including possible arrest and other disruption options?”

A serious and imminent threat?

The imminence and seriousness of the threat from Khan, Hussein and others is at the heart of the issue. In February this year, the Sunday Times reported that some intelligence officials had opposed the drone strike on Khan as he did not pose an imminent threat. The paper reported:

An intelligence official opposed to the strike said that while Khan had gone on to become a poster boy for Isis and a prolific Twitter user who acted as a propagandist, there was no evidence that he posed an imminent threat.

“The imminence related to inspiring attacks around the world but there was not a specific attack to pin them down,” the source said.

“Many intelligence officials were opposed to the extrajudicial killing, not because we’re opposed to defeating Isis but because we weren’t convinced that drone strike reached the legal threshold.”

Another intelligence official familiar with the “discussion and debates” in the lead-up to the attack said several officials from MI5 and GCHQ had questioned the imminence of the threat posed by Khan.

The legal basis for the drone strike of self-defence is spelt out in article 51 of the UN charter. The “Caroline principles” state the threat must be “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment of deliberation”.

As well as intelligence officials, it seems that RAF officers too expressed disquiet about the attack. In November 2015, The Telegraph reported that there had been a “serious debate” among serving RAF officers about the policy shift that had led to the strike on Khan.

While it seems from media reports that Khan and others sought to inspire attacks against UK citizens, it is far from clear whether this reached the threshold to launch a pre-emptive strike under international law. This is perhaps why that the UK Attorney General, Jeremey Wright, argued in a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in January 2017 that it was necessary to re-define the understanding of ‘imminence’  in regard to self-defence, to enable the expansion of the ability to undertake pre-emptive armed attacks against potential threats.

It was also notable that the Attorney General argued that the UK has the right, as a last resort, to use lethal force against those who, as Wright put it “inspire, enable or direct attacks” from overseas. Those three activities are individually very different, and combining them in this way alongside the notion that evidence of an actual and specific attack is not necessary is extremely disturbing.

As we have argued for some time it seems that advent of armed drones is lowering the threshold for the use of armed force. The UK would not have sent piloted aircraft into Syria so soon after Parliament had specifically restricted the use of force against ISIS to Iraq. Yet within six weeks, British drones were being sent across the border into Syria to support US strikes. Their presence in Syria – on operations beyond that authorised by Parliament – enabled a decision, clearly opposed by some, to carry out the targeted killing of British citizens on questionable legal grounds.

Although it is unlikley the ISC’s report will seriously challenge the Government’s position – and will no doubt be redacted –  it should shine some much needed light on this important issue and spark a renewed debate on the legality and efficacy of drone targeted killing. It will be particularly helpful if the report indicates how the UK National Security Council handled the intelligence and made its decision to launch a lethal strike. It’s high time the report was published.

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This week, Syria saw one of its most deadly attacks against civilians fleeing al-Qaeda-held areas in Al-Fu’ah and Kafrayah through a government-rebel civilian swap. Rebels targeted and killed 126 people, including dozens of women and children, after a blast hit a convoy of evacuee buses Saturday.

The evacuees, all of whom were Muslim Shiites, were scheduled to be bussed from the al-Nusra-Front-dominated Idlib Province as part of an evacuation deal between the rebels and the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Strangely, the fact that the victims targeted in the blast were all Muslim Shiites was either outright ignored by the media or construed as proof that they were “pro-Assad,” a term that much of the mainstream media uses as a pejorative.

The rebels in Idlib, where the bombing took place, have been proven to be aligned entirely with the al-Nusra Front – otherwise known as al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch. This group and their associates have a specific interest in carrying out attacks against Muslim Shiites, whom they consider to be heretics along with Syria’s Christian minority and the Druze.

This genocidal ideology, which has manifested itself repeatedly through the actions of terrorist groups and rebels active in the Syrian opposition, owes to the extreme Wahhabi leanings of these groups, which seek to unite Syria under their particular brand of extreme political ideology. Said differently, many of these extremist rebels seek to create a politically-motivated theocracy that parallels that of the Saudi Arabian government. This would only include Wahhabis and extremist Sunnis who share their ideology – supplanting Syria’s secular government, which has allowed a multiplicity of faiths to flourish without fear of state persecution.

Despite their supposed commitment to “democracy” and self-determination in Syria, the media outlets that support the regime-change narrative promoted by foreign governments have conveniently omitted these facts from their coverage. For instance, Al Jazeera, funded by the Daesh (ISIS) and rebel-supporting Qatari government, refused to even mention the fact that the victims were Muslim Shiites, as well as omitting the fact that the attack occurred in al-Qaeda territory – even going so far as to imply that the attack was perpetrated by the Syrian government.

Al Jazeera was by no means alone in twisting the facts. The BBC, funded by the pro-Syrian opposition British government, also insinuated that Assad’s forces were to blame for the attack, even claiming that the attack “would not be in the rebels’ interest” despite the fact that extremist Syrian rebels have been calling for the massacre of all Muslim Shiites in Syria for years and that even the U.S. government has admitted that anti-Assad groups, particularly Daesh, are committing acts of genocide against those of different faiths.

In addition, most mainstream media coverage – from CNN to the Huffington Post – has concluded that there was “no evidence” that rebels were involved in the attack or that no one could be blamed as “no group had claimed responsibility.”

CNN went on to dehumanize the Syrian victims fleeing al-Qaeda as Assad supporters just because they were Muslim Shiites, and described the attack as a “hiccup.”

One BBC correspondent completely dismissed al-Qaeda and described the bus attack as a false flag attack perpetrated by Assad’s government.

These news outlets failed to mention that al-Nusra Front rebels have been caught before burning civilian evacuation buses while also casting doubt on the accounts of Syrian government sources that blamed a suicide car bomber for the most recent attack. However, these same outlets had no problem condemning Assad for the early April chemical gas attack that occurred in the same province, despite the fact that Assad’s government never claimed responsibility and that evidence has emerged calling the details of the attack into question.

Also dubious is the mainstream media’s continual reliance on only two sources of information from inside Syria – the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). As MintPress News has reported in the past, the White Helmets are a mercenary-founded and Western government-funded group that collaborates with the al-Nusra Front on a regular basis and has even facilitated street executions of civilians despite their “humanitarian” image.

SOHR, in contrast, consists of just one man: the vehemently anti-Assad Rami Abdul-Rahman, who lives in the United Kingdom. Abdul-Rahman’s “sources” in Syria, from which he receives his information regarding the war, are anonymous and never recorded – thus making them completely unverifiable.

A manufactured sectarian war

Since the Syrian conflict began over six years ago, most media coverage of the war – particularly that of news organizations from Western and pro-regime change nations – has been noticeably slanted in favor of rebel groups funded and armed by proxy nations with the interest of ousting the Assad government.

Through selective reporting, the omission of key facts and reliance on dubious sources of information, including Western NGOs and rebel groups operating alongside the Al-Nusra Front, these media outlets have sought to twist the facts and whitewash crimes committed by the rebels while ignoring their agenda of ethnically cleansing Syria of anyone who refuses to follow their extremist Wahhabi political ideology. In the process, the media has colored the Syrian crises through a false narrative of Sunni survival against a power-hungry Alawite Syrian government and expanding Shiite Iran – a narrative that was manufactured by the rebels and their proxy nations to justify their insurgency.

Through this sectarian lens, rebels are using a “divide and conquer agenda” supported by the proxy nations that are arming them to target Muslim Shiites, Muslim Sunnis, Arab Christians, Druze, Zoroastrians and other minorities in their fight to destabilize Syria, spread sectarianism and drive the nation into a civil war in order to weaken and eventually oust the Assad government.

The media has worked to flip the narrative to glorify the rebels and frame any atrocities committed by them as having been perpetrated by the Syrian government. The BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN are the most prominent examples.

Such disparities have been commonplace over the past several years. The last month alone has been particularly telling of the mainstream media’s refusal to value the lives of innocent civilians equally, instead only choosing to cover the deaths of civilians in Syria when it supports the long-standing regime change agenda targeting Assad.

Arguably the most dramatic geopolitical event of the year took place earlier this month, when U.S. President Donald Trump chose to bomb Syrian government forces, an act of alleged retaliation for a still-unconfirmed chemical gas attack in al-Qaeda-held Idlib. The attack killed an estimated 58 civilians, including nearly a dozen children. The gas attack received non-stop media coverage, largely because it served as a convenient pretext to further vilify Assad and justify U.S.-led unilateral military action within Syria.

However, higher civilian death counts that resulted from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes went largely uncovered and failed to generate the same level of outrage among these same media outlets, even though they took place just weeks prior.

Considering this, it is no small wonder that viewership and popularity of the mainstream media have reached a historic low, given their propensity to overlook journalistic standards and even manipulating tragedies to sell a particular narrative – whether true or false – to their audiences.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress contributor who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, 21st Century Wire, and True Activist among others – she currently resides in Southern Chile.

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The Oklahoma City Bombing After 22 Years

April 20th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Today, April 19, 2017, is the 22nd anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The bombing of the federal Murrah office building was blamed by federal authorities on a bomb made from fertilizer inside a truck parked in front of the building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.  

There are many anomalies associated with the official explanation, including mysterious deaths of some, including a police officer, who understood that the actual facts did not accord with the explanation.

Investigators who report the actual facts are branded “conspiracy theorists” and dismissed. This has been the Deep State’s way of controlling explanations since the 1940s.

Americans, being the insouciant people that they are, never noticed that the Murrah building blew up from the inside out, not from the outside in.

However, Air Force General Benton K. Partin, the US Air Force’s top explosive expert, did notice. He prepared a detailed report containing “conclusive proof that the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was not caused solely by the truck bomb. Evidence shows that the massive destruction was primarily the result of four demolition charges placed at critical structural points at the third floor level.” Here is a copy of General Partin’s letter accompanying the report he sent to US Senator Trent Lott

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/OK/PARTIN/ok8.htm

Related image

General Partin was my neighbor in Alexandria, Virginia. I went through his report those years ago, and it is clear that the official “investigation” ignored all the facts presented by General Partin. Indeed, Partin’s report is not even part of the record. Wikipedia does not even mention the report as a “conspiracy theory” in Wikipedia’s recitation of the official line.

There was no more an investigation of the Oklahoma City Bombing than there was of 9/11. 

It has never been clear to me why a number of people knew better than to come to work that day in the Murrah building or why what was likely deep state perpetrators desired to kill several hundred people, including children.

Perhaps it was targeted at the militias and the creation of police powers that could be used against them. Two years previously the Clinton regime murdered approximately 100 men, women, and children at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The religious sect was threatening no one and in violation of no laws, but it was a dissident group that the US government decided to terminate.  

The focus on dissidents changed with 9/11, which Israel and Israel’s American neoconservative allies used to apply wide-ranging and long-lasting massive violence to seven Muslim countries, costing US taxpayers trillions of dollars and what remained of the reputation of the United States.

The main consequence of “terrorism” is the extraordinary growth of unconstitutional police state powers throughout the Western world. Every protective shield of individual rights, except for the Second Amendment, has been stripped from the US Constitution by the so-called “war on terror.”

All of the alleged terrorist attacks have puzzling, uninvestigated, and unreported anomalies. It is astonishing that the media never asks any questions. Consider, for example, the Nice, France, Truck attack.

Nice police authorities have the unambigious evidence of the security cameras on every block of the truck’s alleged murderous route. There should be no question whatsoever about what really happened. Yet, the Minister of the Interior in Paris ordered the Nice public authorities to destroy the video evidence and not to release it. So all we have is a very grainy inconclusive video taken by a person allegedly married to a former Mossad intelligence officer. This person turns out to be the same person who provides the only video of an attack in Germany.

The bridge attack in London is overwhelming with the lack of any evidence. We simply get an official story.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPIAp2sDzTc  

Sandy Hook is famous for the one bereaved parent, but there were allegedly scores of dead children. Where are the other parents? Aren’t they bereaved?

If these terror events are real, it is a simple matter for the media to ask questions, to investigate, and to give the public the facts. But the media never does. The media only repeats the official story without checking it.  

In other words, the facts are whatever the government says they are. So what is the purpose of the media?

No purpose except to be a trumpet for the government.

The official stories of the Murrah office building bombing and 9/11 are now enshrined in memorials, the purpose of which is to make a lie the truth.  

For insouciant Americans this works.

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Cyprus and the Death of Democracy in Turkey

April 20th, 2017 by Andreas C Chrysafis

Sunday’s questionable referendum results in Turkey, offers Erdogan the opportunity to declare himself the ultimate Sultan of Turkey. When that happens it would be the death of democracy in Turkey and replaced by a dictatorship with many incarcerations of innocent citizens but would also trigger the execution of Erdogan’s perceived enemies. He vowed to bring back the death penalty. Why would he do that if he does not have sinister intentions in mind?

Today, Cyprus faces a greater danger than before. Yet, the government appears not to have a strategic plan or a defense policy to deal with this reality but will “consult with the other EU leaders”, so it has claimed. This can only imply there is no strategic policy in place.

A wise move it’s to stop the current BBF talks (partitioning of the island) before it’s too late and in so doing shut the crossingsuntil a stable environment develops. Akinci on the other hand has also shown to play Ankara’s devious games. In fact he has not acted honourably during the negotiations. Under the current situation there is no chance in the world on finding a fair solution with Erdogan as a Sultan – he is flying high and wants it all!

The government should make radical decisions and seek ways to deal with this new reality of Erdogan’s theocratic ambitions for the Islamization of Hellenic Cyprus. Only the Archbishop of Cyprus dared to speak openly about those fears but nobody takes him seriously. As for most of the inglorious Cypriot politicians…well, that’s another story!

While other superpowers offer lip service and fail to support Cyprus, Russia offers the only hope on the table for protecting the island against such dictators. Certainly not the EU or the UN – not while most member-states support Turkey! Russia has demonstrated its loyalty to Cyprus many times over and it’s wise to develop a closer political and defense relationship with this superpower for the sake of this torn island occupied by Turkish military troops.

It is about time to put the Republic of Cyprus first above all others …if not, under the current mentality Cyprus is doomed!

Andreas C Chrysafis is an author, writer and artist.
www.facebook.com/ACChrysafisAuthor
www.facebook.com/ACChrysafisArtGallery

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On April 18, a number of media outlets reported that ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may has been captured in northern Syria. The reports referred to an article appeared at the desiagency.eu website (“European Department For Security And Information”) arguing that Baghdadi was captured as a result of the joint efforts of the Syrian and Russian intelligence. Earlier this week, Iraqi Ministry of Defense said in a statement that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and staying in Syria. Despite the media jitters conducted by the story, the report lacks details and looks questionable.

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Interfax that he has no information confirming the rumors. The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the issue.

The tow of Al-Zabadani west of Damascus will soon fall to hands of pro-government forces. The withdrawal of militants from the town started earlier this month and now is close to its final part. The liberation of al-Zabadani is an important step in the long-run government campaign aimed at securing the Damascus countryside.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have retaken the area of the Abu Kala Dam from ISIS terrorists in the province of Homs. The Abu Kala Dam is located north of the strategic government-held Tiyas Airbase, near the Mahr gas fields. The activity in this area could mean that the SAA and the NDF are going to advance in the Mahr gas fields area soon. Separately, firefights between the SAA and ISIS members were reported in the Sawanah and Sawanah junction areas southwest of Palmyra where the SAA and the NDF were seeking to further advance in the direction of the al-Busairi crossroad.

On April 18, the Free Syrian Army’s Central Division claimed that its militants had been able to strike a group of pro-government fighters near the town of Khattab in northern Hama with a US-made TOW missile. The strike allegedly resulted in killing of two Russian soldiers. The video of the TOW strike does not allow estimating its result properly. Indeed, it looks like the missile hit the sand barrier.

On April 18 and April 19, clashes between pro-government forces and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) continued in the outskirts of Taybat al-Imam. However, army troops were not able to enter the town. Meanwhile, airstrikes and artillery strikes hit militant positions in Halfaya, Taybat al-Imam, Zawr Abu Zayd and Kfair al-Taiba. As SF reported earlier any operation aimed at a direct storm of Taybat al-Imam instead of outflanking the militant stronghold will face notable difficulties on the ground even if it leads to a success eventually.

The Manbij Military Council (MMC) has sent 200 “well-trained, qualified fighters for streets fighting” to support the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advance on the ISIS-held town of Tabqa in the province of Raqqah, a spokesman for the MMC, Shervan Derwish, announced in his Twitter. Earlier this month, SDF fighters, backed up by the US-led coalition’s air power and military advisers, entered Tabqa and captured the Alexandria neighborhood and the radio facility. Pro-SDF sources claimed that over 40 ISIS members were killed in the recent clashes inside the town.

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Trump’s Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis signaled to Saudi Arabia that the U.S. is seriously considering a deeper role into the Saudi-Yemen conflict that has devastated the poorest country in the Middle East since the war began in 2015. Mattis made his first trip to Saudi Arabia as the Defense Secretary and of course mentioned Iran’s “alleged role” by supplying missiles to the Houthis and how innocent people were being killed. Mattis went on to say:

It has gone on for a long time, we see Iranian supplied missiles being fired by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia and this is something, with the number of innocent people dying inside Yemen, it has simply got to be brought to an end”

Mattis according to Reuters

“gave no details on what additional support, if any, the United States would provide to the Saudi-led coalition. But he said he was looking to deepen and broaden the relationship between the two countries on the trip.”

Mattis will meet with King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman to discuss how both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will move forward to counter Iran, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks in the region.

The report mentioned Jon Alterman who is the head of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) a think tank in Washington D.C. and said

“The near-term Saudi concern is how they send a message to the Iranians in Yemen, and they would like full-throated American support.”

The report also mentioned that

“congressional sources say the Trump administration is on the verge of notifying Congress of the proposed sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.”

The war drums are beating as the Trump Administration wants to initially target Iran and that is something Israel would deeply appreciate. Trump has mentioned to the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) in 2016 that Iran “will be a very, very major problem for Saudi Arabia.” That was a sign that a Trump presidency would mean a wider war in the Middle East region involving Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Mattis will also be visiting Egypt, Qatar and Israel on a trip which may give clarity on the Trump administration’s tactics in the fight against Islamic State militants and its willingness to use more military power than former President Barack Obama did” the report said.

A major war is on the horizon with Trump’s “jingoistic” attitude towards Middle Eastern countries. The Trump administration will lead the world into a perilous journey with endless wars that can eventually lead to a nuclear standoff with Russia and China.

Trump’s flip-flop on a peaceful solution around the world was a farce from the start. Trump works for the establishment (or the New World Order) make no mistake about that. You don’t get into the White House with your own political agenda just because the American people voted you in; you carry out the agenda of the establishment, plain and simple. The new boss is the same as the old boss and the next boss will the same as the current boss because its business and war as usual in Washington. As long as the corporations, banking cartels, the military-Industrial complex, the intelligence community and the establishment remain in power in Washington, endless war and poverty will continue to be the norm. Trump’s new slogan should be “Make America Kill Again and Again and Again….”

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The “cyber-security” firm that everyone is depending on to make the case for Russia’s alleged “hacking” of the 2016 presidential election, CrowdStrike, has just retracted a key component of its analysis – but the “mainstream” media continues to chug along, ignoring any facts that contradict their preferred narrative.

As Voice of America – hardly an instrument of Russian propaganda! – reports:

“U.S. cyber security firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.”

This retraction pulls the rug out from under CrowdStrike’s identification of the hacking group that supposedly broke into the Democratic National Committee’s server. Last year, the company announced that “Fancy Bear” – the name they gave to the hackers – had used identical tools and methods to hack into software used by the Ukrainian military, an act they claimed led to the destruction of 80% of the Ukrainians’ howitzers in their war with rebel forces. Up until that point, CrowdStrike had merely “suspected” that the Russians were behind the DNC hack. However, given the Ukrainian “evidence,” combined with the assumption that the rebels are “Russian-backed,” CrowdStrike head honcho Dmitri Alpervovitch told the Washington Post:

“Now we have high confidence it was a unit of the GRU,” i.e. Russian military intelligence.

Their retraction means that “high confidence” has been considerably lowered down to the level of a mere “suspicion.” Forced to backtrack in light of VOA’s definitive takedown, CrowdStrike’s whole case collapses. Despite dubbing the alleged hackers with the nom de guerre of “Fancy Bear” – as in the Russian bear – the evidence that supposedly identifies whoever broke into the DNC servers as GRU agents is virtually nonexistent. And the remaining “evidence” is hardly impressive. As cyber-security expert James Bamford pointed out:

“Last summer, cyber investigators plowing through the thousands of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee uncovered a clue.

“A user named ‘Феликс Эдмундович’ modified one of the documents using settings in the Russian language. Translated, his name was Felix Edmundovich, a pseudonym referring to Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, the chief of the Soviet Union’s first secret-police organization, the Cheka.”

So why would the nefarious albeit highly skilled Russians leave this glaring clue – in Cyrillic, no less! — for all to see? Or was this “clue” deliberate misdirection on the part of the real hackers? The latter seems highly likely – not that the geniuses over at CrowdStrike would want to understand this. After all, they were paid by the Democratic National Committee, which used the incident to drum up a narrative that the evil Russians were trying to damage Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump. Follow the money, folks – and Alperovitch’s position with the Atlantic Council, an organization that is assiduously trying to launch another cold war with Moscow.

Remember, the FBI never looked at the DNC servers: they depended on CrowdStrike — which has a $150,000 a year no bid contract to perform “security” services for the agency — to analyze the forensic evidence. Shawn Henry, CrowdStrike’s CSO and head of CrowdStrike Services, is a former assistant executive director of the FBI.

Another leg of the Russian conspiracy theory is the “dirty dossier” compiled by “former” MI6 agent Christopher Steele, which alleges that the Kremlin has compromising information on Trump and is blackmailing him to sell his own country down the river. So who was Steele’s main source? He is one Serge Millian, who goes by at least two other names, and who even friends describe as

[A] big-talking schmoozer than a globe-trotting interlocutor. They say he’s a self-promoter with a knack for getting himself on television … ‘He’s an opportunist. If he sees an opportunity, he would go after it,’ said Tatiana Osipova, who was a neighbor of Millian’s when he lived in Atlanta and who in 2006 helped him found a trade group, the Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the USA.”

And don’t forget: Steele paid his informants, hardly a way to incentive getting truthful intelligence. Millian denies being Steele’s source, and says the allegations in the dossier are without any basis in fact.

So if CrowdStrike’s analysis of the alleged hacking of the DNC is collapsing, why aren’t we reading about it in the “mainstream media”?

Because the media is no longer serving the interests of its readers: it has become the opposition party, intent on discrediting and overthrowing Trump’s presidency. It is, as Trump puts it, “fake news.”

And so we are forced to witness the fraud of the House Intelligence Committee conducting hearings, which are predicated on an assumption that has no basis in reality, and has already been debunked. Indeed, Democratic party politicians – and the anti-Trump wing of the GOP, represented by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham – have invested all their political capital in an obsessive anti-Russian campaign, the goal of which is to make any rapprochement between the United States and Russia impossible.

A fraud is being perpetrated in order to achieve certain geopolitical ends. There is historical precedent for this.

In the summer of 1964, the US media reported that North Vietnamese forces had attacked an American destroyer, the USS Maddox, in international waters off the coast of North Vietnam. On the front page of the Washington Post a headline screamed: “American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers; Move Taken to Halt New Aggression” – except it wasn’t true. There had been no attack: bad weather and inexperienced sonar technicians had mistaken phantom “targets” for North Vietnamese attackers. The Maddox had suffered no damage. The “attack” never occurred.

That didn’t stop Lyndon Baines Johnson from going on national television and citing the “attack” as a pretext for escalating the war, and then going to Congress asking for passage of a resolution authorizing “all necessary action to protect our Armed Forces and to assist nations covered by the SEATO Treaty.” What became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed the Senate with only two dissenting votes: the vote was unanimous in the House.

Thus a nation was led down the path of escalating a disastrous war on the strength of a lie.

The Russian “hacking” narrative – which all too many Democrats (and a few Republicans) are calling an “act of war” – is just such a lie. It is a cyber-Gulf of Tonkin “incident,” i.e. a made up story that is being used as a pretext for two purposes: 1) To accuse the Trump administration of “collusion” with the Russians, and 2) to block any effort to short-circuit the developing cold war with Russia and repair relations with Moscow.

The media, which has lost all sense of proportion in their eagerness to topple Trump, is promoting a dangerous lie that could lead directly to a conflict with Russia. Do we have to wait for the truth to be declassified twenty years later, as in the case of the Gulf of Tonkin? Well, no, we don’t – because the phony “Russian hacking” narrative has already been debunked by no less than a source than the Voice of America.

So the truth is already out there. The question is, when will it be acknowledged? It may take a while for the facts to percolate out there – Glenn Garvin, writing in the Miami Herald, is one of the few who have reported the VOA scoop — but the truth will come out. It always does. My fear is that it won’t come out before irreparable damage is done – not only to our relations with Russia, but to the political discourse in this country, which is already being poisoned almost beyond repair.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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Israel is to hold lavish celebrations over the coming weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of what it calls the “liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights” – or what the rest of us describe as the birth of the occupation.

The centrepiece event will take place in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. The West Bank settlement “bloc” enjoys wide support in Israel, not least because it was established long ago by the supposedly left-wing Labour party, now heading the opposition.

The jubilee is a potent reminder that for Israelis, most of whom have never known a time before the occupation, Israel’s rule over the Palestinians seems as irreversible as the laws of nature. But the extravagance of the festivities also underscores the growth over five decades of Israel’s self-assurance as an occupier.

Documents found this month in Israel’s archives reveal that, when Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967, its first concern was to hoodwink the international community.

The foreign ministry ordered Israel’s ambassadors to mischaracterise its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem as a simple “municipal fusion”. To avoid diplomatic reprisals, Israel claimed it was necessary to ease the provision of essential services to the occupied Palestinian population.

Interestingly, those drafting the order advised that the deception was unlikely to succeed. The United States had already insisted that Israel commit no unilateral moves.

But within months Israel had evicted thousands of Palestinians from the Old City and destroyed their homes. Washington and Europe have been turning a blind eye to such actions ever since.

One of the Zionist movement’s favourite early slogans was: “Dunam after dunam, goat after goat”. The seizure of small areas of territory measured in dunams, the demolition of the odd home, and the gradual destruction of herding animals would slowly drive the Palestinians off most of their land, “liberating” it for Jewish colonisation. If it was done piecemeal, the objections from overseas would remain muffled. It has proved a winning formula.

Fifty years on, the colonisation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank is so entrenched that a two-state solution is nothing more than a pipe dream.

Nonetheless, US president Donald Trump has chosen this inauspicious moment to dispatch an envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Image result for Israel’s festivities will highlight 50 years of shame

In a “goodwill” response, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unveiled a framework for settlement building. It is exactly the kind of formula for deception that has helped Israel consolidate the occupation since 1967.

Mr Netanyahu says expansion will be “restricted” to “previously developed” settlements, or “adjacent” areas, or, depending on the terrain, “land close” to a settlement.

Peace Now points out that the settlements already have jurisdiction over some 10 per cent of the West Bank, while far more is treated as “state land”. The new framework, says the group, gives the settlers a green light to “build everywhere”.

The Trump White House has shrugged its shoulders. A statement following Mr Netanyahu’s announcement judged the settlements no “impediment to peace”, adding that Israel’s commitments to previous US administrations would be treated as moot.

Effectively, the US is wiping the slate clean, creating a new baseline for negotiations after decades of Israeli changes stripping the Palestinians of territory and rights.

Although none of this bodes well, Egypt and Jordan’s leaders met Mr Trump this month to push for renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The White House is said to be preparing to welcome the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Some senior Palestinians are rightly wary. Abbas Zaki, a Fatah leader, fears Mr Trump will try to impose a regional solution on Arab states, over Mr Abbas’s head, designed to “eliminate the Palestinian cause altogether”.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father, reportedly once said:

“What matters is not what the goyim [non-Jews] say, but what the Jews do.”

For nearly a quarter of a century, the Oslo accords dangled an illusory peace carrot that usefully distracted the global community as Israel nearly quadrupled its settler population, making even a highly circumscribed Palestinian state unrealisable. Now, that game plan is about to be revived in new form. While the US, Israel, Jordan and Egypt focus on the hopeless task of creating a regional framework for peace, Israel will be left undisturbed once again to seize more dunams and more goats.

Image result for israel palestineIn Israel, the debate is no longer simply about whether to build settler homes, or about how many can be justified. Government ministers argue instead about the best moment to annex vast areas of the West Bank associated with so-called settlement blocs such as Gush Etzion.

Israel’s imminent celebrations should lay to rest any confusion that the occupation is still considered temporary. But when occupation becomes permanent, it metamorphoses into something far uglier.

It is past time to recognise that Israel has established an apartheid regime and one that serves as a vehicle for incremental ethnic cleansing. If there are to be talks, ending that outrage must be their first task.

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In Afghanistan: America’s Longest War will Never be Won

April 20th, 2017 by William Boardman

“I’m very, very proud of the people. Another—really, another successful job. We’re very, very proud of our military. Just like we’re proud of the folks in this room, we are so proud of our military. And it was another successful event.” – President Trump’s answer to the question, “Did you authorize that bomb?

The US war in Afghanistan, by proxy and/or direct intervention, is approaching the end of its fourth decade. And now the US is running short on big bombs to use there that are still smaller than thermonuclear weapons. On April 13, for the first time in combat, the US used its GBU-43B, a Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) explosive that weighs 21,000 pounds and creates an air blast equivalent of 11 tons of TNT. The aerial fireball effectively sets the air on fire within a one-mile radius, above and below ground, incinerating, burning alive, or suffocating anyone within its reach. Official reports, as in The New York Times, were suitably bland and non-specifically threatening:

U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Thursday [April 13] struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military, Pentagon officials said. [emphasis added]

To hear mainstream media and the Pentagon tell it, this is just war business as usual for the current NATO mission, “Operation Resolute Support.” The official line is that the mission of 8,400 US troops there is training and support, not combat (except sometimes fighting terrorists). Just before the big bomb drop, on April 8, a US Army Special Forces officer (Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37) was killed in action when his unit was attacked during anti-ISIS combat operations in Nangarhar Province, along the Pakistan border. That’s where the MOAB was dropped (in one of more than 460 US airstrikes in Afghanistan this year). Nangarhar Province has been a difficult to conquer military terrain for at least 2,500 years (Alexander the Great held it for a few years after 331 BC). These days, no one really controls Nangarhar, much less the rest of Afghanistan, certainly not the Afghan government, despite NATO and independent US support. Conventional wisdom at the moment has it that the Taliban is winning, though it’s not clear what that might mean. Despite US attention to ISIS forces, real or imagined, ISIS is nowhere close to controlling the country and is at war with the Taliban as well. That reality makes Sean Spicer’s highlighting of an essentially irrelevant explosion in a relatively remote location somewhat surreal:

The GBU-43 is a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon. We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area. … The United States took all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage as a result of the operation. Any further details, I would refer you to the Department of Defense on that. [emphasis added]

Other than the novel notion that one might “move around freely” in caves and tunnels, the press secretary’s announcement is so opaque that one wonders if the White House knows what actually happened. This sense is reinforced later in the same press session when a reporter asks:

“On the GBU-43 bomb – the first time it’s ever been used. Why did you choose this particular location? And would you say that this bomb won’t be used again in another flashpoint around the world, like Syria? Like North Korea, for instance?”

The question assigns a significance to the bomb that has yet to be demonstrated. But the question’s policy points with regard to Syria and North Korea are nevertheless germane. Spicer does not even try to address that, but again defers to the Pentagon, as if that’s where policy is being made these days.

U.S. Special Operations personnel prepare to board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a mission in Afghanistan. (photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

U.S. Special Operations personnel prepare to board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a mission in Afghanistan. (photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

When the White House and the Pentagon promote “a strike on an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan” they are focusing on a currently minor opponent with a long historical shadow. This is the same region in which the US failed to capture bin Laden before he escaped into Pakistan’s tribal region. According to the US, over the past six months or so it has reduced ISIS-K’s strength in Achin district from as many as 3,000 fighters to some 600 presently (though it’s not clear how many may have tactically withdrawn to Pakistan). The air blast took out another 30-90, according to different reports, and “only” another 10-12 civilians, including four children. The commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, indicated that there were no reports or evidence of civilian casualties, although US and Afghan forces had withdrawn to a safe distance before the bomb blast. As the Times headlined it April 14: A Giant U.S. Bomb Strikes ISIS Caves in Afghanistan.

But here’s the funny thing about the cave and tunnel complexes in Nangarhar Province: the US helped create them. During 1978-1988, the US, through the CIA, supported the mujahideen opposition to Soviet control and invasion of Afghanistan. Although the US has now used the “mother of all bombs” to attack caves and tunnels built with US support, the US couldn’t hope to destroy them because they were built deep into mountains to be largely impervious to aerial attack. Referring to “ISIS caves” is both ahistorical and misleading, since ISIS is merely the current tenant. The US did not use its “bunker buster” bomb, the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which delivers a larger payload than the MOAB. Nor did the US use any of its somewhat smaller, non-nuclear bunker buster bombs on the bunker-like complex of caves and tunnels.

The MOAB is an anti-personnel weapons, it’s designed to annihilate soft targets, especially people. One of its predecessors, named the BLU-82B, or “Daisy Cutter,” was used in Vietnam to cleanse suspected Viet Cong areas of most living things for a one-mile diameter. The Daisy Cutter was also used in Iraq and Afghanistan, before the last one was dropped on a Utah test range in 2008. Its primary use has often been psychological more than strictly military.

The US, in the person of Gen. Nicholson, chose to use the weapon with the media-friendly nickname “mother of all bombs,” which of course it isn’t at all, though it does serve very well as a good, shiny-object distraction for the media. With an explosive power of 11 tons of TNT, the MOAB is not even as big as the “small” Hiroshima atomic bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” with its 15 kilotons of explosive power. The “mother of all bombs” is a tiny dwarf next to the US arsenal of nuclear weaponsrated by the megaton (1,000 kilotons) of destructive power. The most powerful US nuclear bomb (as distinct from a warhead) is the B83, a “nuclear bunker buster” (or 1.2 million tons, more than 100,000 times the size of the “mother of all bombs”).

Nuclear weapons have remained unused in war since 1945, subject to an international taboo that President Trump is eroding, perhaps quite deliberately. Using a nuclear weapon in Afghanistan remains, for now, “unthinkable,” as they say. But how close to “thinkable” is it becoming for North Korea? And who decides what’s thinkable now, who’s doing the thinking? Depending on the time of year, prevailing winds would carry radioactive fallout from an attack on North Korea either to Japan or China. President Trump and the White House provide almost no clarity or guidance to their thinking, as this April 13 shouted press exchange illustrates:

SHOUTED QUESTION: How about that bomb, sir? Did you authorize that bomb?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m very, very proud of the people. Really another successful job. We’re very, very proud of our military. Just like we’re proud of the folks in this room, we are so proud of our military, and it was another successful event.

REPORTER: Did you authorize it?

TRUMP: Everyone knows exactly what happened. So, and, what I do is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they have done the job, as usual.

We have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing, and frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately. Take a look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare it with the last eight years. There is a tremendous difference. Tremendous difference.

We have incredible leaders in the military, and incredible military, and we are very proud of them.

REPORTER: Does this send a message to North Korea?

TRUMP: I don’t know if this sends a message, it doesn’t make any difference if it does or not. North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of…. [emphasis added]

The president went on to suggest vaguely that China will resolve the North Korea problem somehow. But what he has just described is unconstitutional government. He has confirmed the abdication of civilian control of the US military. If there are any exceptions to the “total authorization,” the administration has not made clear what they or, or even if they include nuclear weapons. It’s small comfort that this abdication by the president is a bookend to the similar abdication by the Congress on September 14, 2001, in a resolution giving “total authorization” to the president to make war at will. That Congressional action, driven by the panic of 9/11, was the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. It passed both houses without any reflective consideration and with only one vote in opposition – Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat (two cowardly Republican Senators, Larry Craig and Jesse Helms, were “present/not voting”). Barbara Lee has been trying in vain ever since to have the authorization rescinded and to return the country to traditional constitutional order, under which the power to declare war belongs to Congress.

Insofar as the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force has contributed to making the US an increasingly militarized, emerging police state, the terrorists are winning, mostly with our help.

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

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The Monsanto Tribunal: “Monsanto has Violated Human Rights to food”

April 20th, 2017 by Corporate Europe Observatory

Today, judges delivered their legal opinion on the evidence and witness statements presented at the Monsanto Tribunal that was held in The Hague (NL) in October 2016.

THE COMPLETE REPORT OF JUDGES HERE (PDF)

The tribunal concluded that:

  • Monsanto has violated human rights to food, health, a healthy environment and the freedom indispensable for independent scientific research.
  • ‘ecocide’ should be recognized as a crime in international law.
  • human rights and environmental laws are undermined by corporate-friendly trade and investment regulation.

During the hearings that took place in The Hague in October 2016, judges heard testimonies from witnesses from all over the world, who testified how Monsanto has violated human rights and has committed crimes against the planet by aggressively promoting its products, lobbying politicians and attacking independent scientists.

Based on these testimonies, and considering both existing international law and ongoing legal initiatives aiming to improve the protection of human rights and the environment, the judges concluded that Monsanto has indeed infringed on the public’s rights to food, health, a healthy environment and the freedom indispensable for independent scientific research.

The Tribunal is also of the opinion that

“international law should now precisely and clearly assert the protection of the environment and the crime of ecocide”. If such a crime of ecocide would be recognized in international criminal law, “the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute a crime of ecocide”, the judges stated.

In their final conclusion, the judges highlighted the current imbalance in the international system, which offers much better protection to corporations and their financial interests (through trade and investment law including ISDS courts) than it does to human rights and the environment. It is now crucial for the UN to act on this widening gap, they warned, as “otherwise key questions will be resolved by private tribunals operating entirely outside the UN framework”.

Corporate Europe Observatory’s Nina Holland welcomed the Tribunal’s outcome:

The verdict of the Monsanto Tribunal has our fullest support. Its legal opinion makes it crystal clear that corporations like Monsanto violate our right to live in a healthy environment and how they get around the international laws meant to protect people and planet.

“With the current wave of mega-mergers in the agribusiness sector, the biggest pesticide producers are becoming even more powerful. But so is our call to regulate them!

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End Game: The War Machine Goes On

April 20th, 2017 by Arthur D. Robbins

War has indeed become perpetual and peace no longer even a fleeting wish nor a distant memory. We have become habituated to the rumblings of war and the steady drum beat of propaganda about war’s necessity and the noble motives that inspire it. We will close hospitals. We will close schools. We will close libraries and museums. We will sell off our parklands and water supply. People will sleep on the streets and go hungry. The war machine will go on.

What are we to do? The following text is Part IV of a broader analysis entitled War and the State: Business as Usual.

Link to War and the State: Part 1

Link to War and the State: Part 2

Link to War and the State Part 3

All the protests, handwringing, indignation and outrage will change nothing. War will go on. As the Chaplain said in “Mother Courage…”, “the war has really nothing to worry about, it can look forward to a prosperous future.” As Randolph Bourne said, “War is the health of the State.”

In practical terms, the current crop of ruling warriors and their accomplices have very little motivation to change direction. For one thing they are rolling in money. Ms. Clinton has made millions from her Wall Street “speaking engagements,” at $250,000 a pop. The Pentagon has so much money they can’t even keep track of it, or so they say. They refuse to allow an audit.

Have you heard of the $43 million natural gas station in Afghanistan that was supposed to cost $500,000? Do you know about the $150 million villas that were built for corporate contractors in Afghanistan so they could spend another $600 million advising Afghans about starting private businesses in that war-torn country?

Or how about purchase of billions of dollars of spare parts because the Army or Air Force didn’t know the whereabouts of existing spare parts in forgotten warehouses here and there? What about the $9 billion the Pentagon admitted could not be accounted for in Iraq during the first several months of the invasion? (Nader)

In a civil society — the State has withered, the government serves civil interests — many of those in power would be behind bars. There is the issue of 911. There is convincing evidence that the government had advance knowledge of these events or actively participated. War crimes are committed on a daily basis. It is probable that the financial dealings of government officials would not withstand juridical scrutiny. Thus, The criminal element in government has much to fear from a civil government, which is why its appearance is highly unlikely.

So where does all of this war making lead? Here are some possibilities.

1) Nuclear Exchange: Nuclear winter. The end of life on planet earth. And that’s that.

2) Armageddon: War of all against all. The two surviving barbarians flail away at each other with their battle-axes and are carried off by the rising waters.

3) Division within the warrior class: One faction kills off another and then assumes power over their dead bodies. Nothing changes. This is what happened in the Roman Empire. Or else the military and the oligarchy duke it out. Not too likely in a State where the two have been in bed together for so long.

4) No more money: The warriors will sell off everything. They will sell drugs to pay their bills. “The multibillion dollar Balkans narcotics trade had played a crucial role in ‘financing the conflict’ in Kosovo…” (Chossudovsky. 108) There are allegations that the CIA used drug money to fund the “Contras” in Nicaragua. Currently, Haiti is an occupied country, with U.S. troops in charge. “It is estimated that Haiti is now responsible for 14 percent of all the cocaine entering the United States, representing billions of dollars of revenue for organized crime and U.S. financial institutions, which launder vast amounts of dirty money.” Laundered money can then be used by the CIA to finance armed insurgencies. (Chossudovsky, 133)

The CIA has a long history of quietly playing the stock market, using employee retirement funds, CIA credit-union capital and the like. CIA operatives are suspected of using advanced knowledge of the events of 911 to make a killing. Of course there is always the aforementioned drug money if there are liquidity problems.

5) Run out of oil: I am reasonably confident that the United States is not waging war for oil so that there will be enough heating oil for me to be warm and cozy in my bed of a cold winter’s eve. It is waging war for oil so it will have oil with which to wage war. The war machine is a perfect servomechanism, a perpetual mobile, a leviathan, ingesting its own tail.

Consuming 4,600,000,000 US gallons of fuel annually, an average of 12,600,000 US gallons of fuel per day, the U.S. Department of Defense is the single-largest consumer of fuel in the world, placing slightly behind Denmark and slightly ahead of Syria. (See Wikipedia) Jet fuel accounts for 71% of that number. The large cargo/transport planes get .07 mpg. That’s about 370 feet, a little more than a football field on a gallon of gas. (Hoy)  A fighter jet does a little better at .4 mpg, depending on conditions and speed, though still not up to a mile a gallon.

The U.S. military is an oil consuming monster and of course a huge polluter. Yet, the United States cannot conduct its wars without its cargo planes, bombers and fighter jets, which means that Americans will be riding in horse drawn buggies before the war department gives up the fuel it needs to power its air force.

6) Run out of troops: American ruling warriors learned two things from the war in Vietnam. The first is: No Conscription.1 The War Department fields an Army of about 450,000 spread over 170 countries, with a concentration of forces in countries under attack. It is estimated that there are 32,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, and about 5,000 in Iraq. How can the military possibly achieve its goals — even modest ones — with such a limited manpower?

The ruling elite are quite resourceful. There are various stratagems. One of the oldest, most tried and true, is divide and conquer. For instance the U.S. government pitted Iraq against Iran — two countries it wished to control — in an eight-year war (1980-1988). Half a million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers and half a million Iraqi and Iranian civilians were taken out without the U.S. firing a single shot.  Clever.

The warrior class knows how to think on its collective feet. In Iraq, they set Shia against Sunni with similar results. They train and arm native terrorists, the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Syria who then do a lot of killing an maiming on behalf of their unacknowledged employer.

The 21st century has given birth to private contractors who train mercenaries who are then hired out to the American military. In 1997 Erik Prince founded Blackwater.  He bought up 7,000 acres of swampland on the border between North Carolina and Virginia and began training guns for hire. In 2010 Blackwater signed a $250,000,000 contract with the CIA. After Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians and got some bad PR it changed its name to XE Services, currently known as Academi. In 2014 Academi was bought up by a holding company known as Constellis Group. In other words killing is big business. There is no low season.

Saudi Arabia let prisoners out of jail to fight in Syria. (Chussodovsky, 162). And here is one you probably never would have thought of, “the weaponisation of refugees.” That’s right it is not a typo (See Gearoid O Colmain). According to Colmain the recent influx of refugees from Syria was an event organized by Americans with an interest in destabilizing Europe, in particular Germany. The Germans were getting too cozy with the Russians to suit American interests. Engineered migration is used a means of putting pressure on governments for political ends. 

7) Americans Rise UpWhen pigs fly. That’s when Americans will rise up against their government. They would willingly starve to death rather than bring their government to account.

Rising up has its own problems. To rise up is to play by the rules of those who own the power. On their turf and terms they will inevitably carry the day. The best to be hoped for is to replace one set of thugs with another. It is reactive. It does not create anything. It simply destroys.

“But,” you say, “what about Fanny Lou Hamer, Rosa Park, Martin Luther King, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden? These are all people who risked their lives in the struggle for peace and social justice.” Yes, these are remarkable men and women who bring us closer to our humanity by their willingness to serve the common good at any cost. They are an inspiration and a consolation. Yet nothing has really changed. Racism in the North is as bad as it has ever been. War and rapine continue unabated.

What about, “Occupy Wall Street?” There was no rage, no violence, no demands. This was not an uprising. It was a downrising: a peaceful, persistent, eloquent plea for social justice by young men and women of courage and compassion. It had no program. Its purpose was to create a space for a new form of self-governance and political expression. Its purpose was to change our way of thinking, to make us aware of the gross inequalities that characterize our society: the 1 percent vs. the 99%. Their message has become an integral element of our political dialogue. And yet, for obvious reasons, nothing has changed.

Peace is not the answer

Aside from the warriors, just about everyone yearns for peace, a world where human life is cherished, where energies are devoted to serving the common good, where children thrive and are nourished by a caring society. How can anyone argue against that?

In practice — not in theory — peace is simply an interlude between wars. Peace is about stopping war. It is not about eliminating war.

“Diplomacy is disguised war,” says Bourne (Bourne, 86). “It is the wheedling and the bargaining of the worn-out bullies as they rise from the ground and slowly restore their strength to begin fighting again.” (Ibid.)

Image result for war

When there is peace it means that one war has ended and the next one hasn’t yet begun. When there is peace in one part of the world — Scandinavia — millions are dying in another — the Middle East. When one country invades another and decimates the native population ending the war, should we call that peace?

If you go to Wikipedia, there are no less than thirteen different “Pax,” all of which were the result of the brutal killing that preceded them.

Pax Romana:

It all began with Pax Romana, which started after Octavian, later named Augustus, defeated Marc Antony in the Battle of Actium on 2 September 31 BC. Octavian became princeps, or “first citizen,” euphemism for dictator. He was backed by the greatest military junta available at the time and used his power to suppress civil war. One could argue that all opponents had been beaten down and lost the power to resist. This is what is known as peace through hegemony, or pax imperia.

Pax Romana is alleged to have lasted for 200 years and ended officially with the death of Marcus Aurelius — one of Rome’s more enlightened rulers — in 180 A.D. During this period of “pax” — for a period of four years — Romans lived under the rule of one of Rome’s most notorious tyrants.

Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, known to his friends — he had very few — as Caligula, is alleged to have slept with other men’s wives, had sex with his sisters and prostituted them to other men, killed on whim, at one of the games had his guards throw an entire section of the crowd into the arena to be devoured by animals because there were no criminals to be prosecuted, and, most famously, planned or promised to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul, and actually appointed him a priest. If even only half these stories are true they give a measure of what pax imperia might be like for those who live under its protection. In 41 A.D. Caligula was assassinated by members of his own guard.

Pax Mongolica: After Genghis Kahn and his successors succeeded in terrorizing most of the known world —starting in 1206 and lasting for about one hundred years —and killing as many as 40 million people, destroying civilizations, including livestock, agriculture and dwellings, a period of “peace” prevailed. Trade routes were re-established, a postal system was inaugurated. There was little in the way of killing. This is another example of pax imperia. The system “worked” because the Mongol rulers made it work. They demanded tribute — and got it — from those who could afford to pay.  Genghis is credited with establishing “international law.” That is to say he succeeded in setting up a totalitarian dictatorship.

Pax Britannica: The period that begins with the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and ends with the beginning of WWI in 1914 is known as Pax Britannica. With France out of the way, the British could establish themselves as the hegemonic power because there was no country in Europe strong enough to take them on, and so we have “peace.

At its height Britain held sway over 412 million people, or close to a quarter of the world’s population. During this period of European peace, the British were cannibalizing large parts of Africa and Asia. In mid-nineteenth century they set up shop in India, reducing a once prosperous people to abject poverty from which they have never recovered. In 1857, Muslims and Hindus joined forces against the British. The British repression was brutal and lasted for years. Hundreds of thousands of lives were extinguished during this period of peace.

Pax Americana: Although it might come as a surprise to some readers, currently we are living through a period known as Pax Americana, probably beginning after the end of WWII. During this period of  “peace” the United States has played the role of major hegemonic world power. During this period of “peace” the United States has been engaged in vicious conflict in North Korea and Vietnam, has decimated Iraq Libya and Afghanistan and is in the process of trying to complete its work in Syria. It has seven hundred military bases — replete with one hundred seventy golf courses — in one hundred seventy countries. And its nuclear warheads on the borders of Russia are targeting key Russian cities. However, “peace” advocates might argue there was no war between the major powers.

Click here to order Arthur Robbins book from Amazon 

What is interesting about “peace” in the modern era are the underlying racist implications. When white peoples are not fighting each other, we call it peace, even though these same white people are mauling peoples of various shades of yellow, brown and black. So that killing people of color does not disturb the peace as white men conceive it. Only when white people shoot at each other is that considered war.

To yearn for peace is to embrace war. What we need is a society where war and peace are not two choices, like night and day. What we need is a society in which war is not an option, where peace becomes irrelevant. Perhaps JFK got it right when he said, what we want is not peace but, “a warless world founded in warless societies.” (Carroll, 285)

Is “a warless world” a real possibility? I believe it is. As we see in Part 5 we begin by taking a step back, seeing the forest — the big picture — and curbing our pattern of reacting without thinking. When we achieve a solid understanding of the fundamentals of power dynamics and rid ourselves of some of our cherished beliefs about the kind of world we live in we will be in a position to open the door to new possibilities. They are closer at hand than we think. The process of change has already begun.

Above text is part IV of a six part essay.

1. War and the health of the State: What causes war

2. Federated governments: The Nation vs. the State

3. Origin of the State: Barbarians at the gate

4. End Game: War goes on

5. Critical Thinking: A bridge to the future

6. Deconstructing the State: Getting small

SOURCES

Benjamin Barber, Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age.

Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom on England 1042-1216.

Edward Bernays, Propaganda.

Ellen Brown, The Public Bank Solution: From Austerity to Prosperity.

Smedly Butler, War Is A Racket.

James Carroll, House of War.

Gearoid O Colmain, “The Weaponisation of the Refugee,” Dissident Voice, January 20, 2016.

Rob Cooper, “Iceland’s former Prime Minister found guilty over country’s 2008 financial crisis but will avoid jail,” Daily Mail, April 23, 2012.

C.S., “Constitution Society,” Andrew Jackson, July 10, 1832.

Deborah Davis, Katherine The Great. 

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln.

M.I. Finley, The Portable Greek Historians. 

F.P.  The Federalist Papers. Ed. Clinton Rossiter.

Mark H. Gaffney: “9/11: The Evidence for Insider Trading,” May 25, 2016: ICH (Information Clearing House).

GPF (Global Policy Forum,) “War and Occupation in Iraq,” Chapter 2.

Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi.

Victor David Hanson, Carnage and Culture.

Chris Hedges, “The American Empire: Murder Inc.” Truthdig, January 3, 2016.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History (Dover, 1956).

J. Christopher  Herold, The Age of Napoleon.

Karl Hess, Community.

Peter Hoy, “The World’s Biggest Fuel Consumer,” Forbes, June 5, 2008.

J.H. Huizinga, Dutch Civilization in the 17th Century.

Peter Koenig, “Towards a Foreign Imposed “Political Transition” in Syria?” Global Research, November 3, 2015.

John Macpherson (1899). Mental affections; an introduction to the study of insanity.

Patrick Martin, 16 April 2003, wsws.org.

Edgar Lee Masters, Lincoln The Man.

Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class.

Ralph Nader, “Uncontrollable — Pentagon and Corporate Contractors Too Big to Audit,” Dandelionsalad, March 18, 2016.

Thomas Naylor and William H. Willikmon, Downsizing the U.S.A.

Karl Popper, The Open Society And Its Enemies.

Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age.

John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, “Lies Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry.” (Web)

Herbert J. Storing, The Anti-Federalist: Writings by the Opponents of the Constitution, edited by Herbert J. Storing.

Jay Syrmopoulus, October 15, 2015, “Iceland Just Jailed Dozens of Corrupt Bankers for 74 Years, The Opposite of What America Does.” Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/icelands-banksters-sentenced-74-years-prison-prosecution-u-s/#UHP3qHr1WIAuRFSs.99.

“The Economic Value of Peace, 2016” (PDF) Institute for Economics and Peace.

Washington Blog, February 23, 2015 “ICH”(Information
Clearing House) http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41086.htm

Max Weber, Political Writings.

John W. Whitehead, March 29, 2016, “From Democracy to Pathocracy: The Rise of the Political Psychopath,” Intrepid Report, April 1, 2016.

Wikipedia, “Energy usage of the United States military.”

Wikiquote, Woodrow Wilson, Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.

NOTE

1 The second thing warriors learned from the Vietnam War: No honest wartime reporting. During the Vietnam war, one could watch actual battles taking place on ones television while eating dinner. One could see images of a naked girl running down a country road her body aflame with napalm. Such reporting did little to gain support for the war. As a consequence reporters no longer enjoy the liberties they once did. Reporters are now “embedded” with the troops. That is to say they will report what the commanding officer wants them to report. The second prong of this two-pronged approach is assassination. More journalists were killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq than in any war in history. According to the Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ.org) 111 journalists have been murdered in Iraq since 1992. Chelsea Manning is doing a thirty-five year sentence for revealing a tape that shows a U.S. Army helicopter gunning down two Reuters reporters.

Arthur D. Robbins is the author of “Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained: The True Meaning of Democracy,” hailed by Ralph Nader as an “eye-opening, earth-shaking book,… a fresh, torrential shower of revealing insights and vibrant lessons we can use to pursue the blessings and pleasures of a just society through civic efforts that are not as difficult as we have been led to believe.” Visit http://acropolis-newyork.com to learn more.

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An economic slump is behind Erdoğan’s power grab, but democracy and unity will be its first victims, writes Asad Ismi.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed a narrow victory (51.3%) in Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reform amid charges of widespread electoral fraud by his opponents. The vote allows Erdoğan and his conservative, neoliberal and moderately Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) to vastly expand its power at the expense of the legislature and judiciary.

The 18 reforms proposed by the “yes” campaign will replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with a powerful presidency. Whoever is elected president after the next election (almost certainly Erdoğan) will have the authority to issue decrees, dismiss the National Assembly, appoint ministers and judges, and sack civil servants. They will also be able to remain head of their own party while president, choose the party’s legislators, and extend the presidential term limit until 2029. Erdoğan has ruled Turkey for the last 15 years.

“This result is very bad for everyone in Turkey as it institutionalizes an authoritarian regime [and] concentrates power in the hands of a single person,”said Feyzi Baban, a professor of global politics and Middle East specialist at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, in an interview shortly after the vote.

Fuat Keyman, director of the Istanbul Policy Centre, likewise warned this “centralization of power is very risky for Turkish democracy and for the possibility of living together in a diverse society.”

Still, Keyman told me,

“the referendum result is not enough for Erdoğan to consolidate his power…and only increases polarization in Turkey, showing it to be an extremely divided society. Erdoğan is trying to push Turkey towards strong executive rule in the face of this division and this creates a legitimacy problem for him.”

That problem extends to the voting process itself and the unfair advantages granted the “yes” campaign over the government’s adversaries. The main opposition party in Turkey, the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP), is calling for the vote results to be annulled, alleging extensive fraud in the conduct of the referendum. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP, the third largest party in Turkey) wants a recount of two-thirds of the votes.

Both parties object especially to the Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) last-minute decision to allow the counting of ballots that were not officially stamped once voting had already begun—a practice the YSK has not permitted in the past and was not allowed for expat Turks voting from abroad. The CHP and HDP claim 1.5 million unstamped ballots were illegally counted (Erdoğan won by 1.38 million votes).

Erdal Aksünger, the CHP’s deputy leader, complained publicly on April 17:

“Since the morning there has been a serious chaos all over Turkey. The YSK has declared that the board will deem voting papers without official seals as valid. In eastern and southeastern cities, the election observers from the ‘No’ groups were removed. There were many violations in terms of the form of the elections.”

Mehmet Yuksel, the HDP’s representative in Washington, D.C., told me

“there has been a lot of open electoral fraud in Kurdish areas involving the YSK and without this fraud Erdoğan could not have won.” (Twenty per cent of people in Turkey belong to the Kurdish ethnic group.) “In cities where the HDP has an absolute majority, the AKP has been declared the winner. This referendum result is going to destabilize Turkey.

“Erdoğan has polarized the country to get more votes and this is leading to its partition,” said Yuksel. “This is the start of Erdoğan’s dictatorship in Turkey and there is no way back.”

The main international observer mission monitoring the referendum has backed the opposition parties’ complaints on the unfairness of the vote. A team from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) stated on April 17 that the vote took place on “an unlevel playing field” and that the YSK’s decision to allow unstamped ballot papers broke Turkish election law. The YSK “issued instructions late in the day that significantly changed the ballot validity criteria, undermining an important safeguard and contradicting the law.”

The OSCE monitors added that “the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities. The legal framework, which is focused on elections, remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum and the fact that the referendum was held under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of last year’s failed coup infringed upon a fundamental freedom.”

The OSCE also pointed out that the opposition’s campaign had been “starved of coverage” by government media and subjected to violence from the police and Erdoğan supporters. The observer mission criticized Erdoğan’s extreme statements, saying “the campaign rhetoric was tarnished by a number of senior officials equating ‘No’ supporters with terrorist sympathisers.”

Erdoğan imposed the current state of emergency after the failed military coup against him in July 2016, which resulted in over 300 deaths. The president reacted by firing or suspending more than 100,000 civil servants, closing 150 media outlets, detaining more than 100 journalists, confiscating 800 businesses and jailing 45,000 people, including 5,000 supporters of the HDP, the main political target of official repression.

Erdoğan imprisoned Selahattin Demirtaş, the HDP’s co-leader, along with 11 other elected deputies of the National Assembly. Demirtaş would have been Erdoğan’s main rival in the referendum; his incarceration drastically undermined the opposition’s campaign. The HDP  leader was accused of supporting the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a leftist guerrilla force fighting for autonomy for Kurds in Turkey and declared a terrorist group by the government. Erdoğan has also dismissed 80 HDP mayors since the state of emergency began.

Media coverage of the referendum in Turkey was almost completely monopolized by the AKP while the opposition suffered 143 attacks. A massive military campaign unleashed on Kurdish areas in the southeast by Erdoğan has killed hundreds of people and displaced 400,000, according to a recent United Nations report, making voting difficult for a large number of Kurds.

“The leader of the ‘No’ campaign was in jail so how can the referendum be fair or democratic?” asked Yuksel, who added there are 103 cases registered against Demirtaş, now facing 500 years in prison. “This was not a referendum at all, just a rubber-stamping of Erdoğan’s move towards a dictatorship. When people opposed this move, Erdoğan committed electoral fraud and claimed victory. Now the repression will increase even more against the HDP and the war against the PKK will be intensified. This is how Erdoğan tries to win elections, by polarizing the population more and more.”

Erdoğan’s demonization tactics are not restricted to Turkey. During the referendum campaign he called the German and Dutch governments “Nazis” for not allowing his ministers to campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote among Turkish expats in Europe. This was despite the fact the European Union is the biggest market for Turkey’s exports—another sign, perhaps, that we will see the AKP put EU membership on the backburner, or forget about it altogether, as it consolidates its power internally.

Turkey has been inflaming the war against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria (its neighbour) by training, arming and sending Islamic fundamentalists into the conflict, then invading with its own army. Turkish police have not been able to stem (and are the frequent targets of) major attacks inside Turkey from ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. The now six-year-old war has also made Syrian Kurds stronger, providing another reason for Turkey to engage militarily (to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state on its border). Turkey is bogged down in a costly three-front war against the Kurds domestically, in Syria and in Iraq, where it bombs the PKK’s bases periodically.

Keyman traces Erdoğan’s need for greater power to Turkey’s economic crisis which is partly a result of the global slowdown. He explains that after 2015, the Turkish economy lost important markets in Egypt, Libya, and neighbouring Syria and Iraq due to “proxy wars.” Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet in December has driven that country’s tourist visitors away, and ISIS and PKK attacks inside Turkey, along with the military coup attempt, cut tourism by 40% in 2016.

Ballots in Turkey’s referendum were marked simply “yes” and “no.” (Source: BİRGÜN DAİLY)

Tensions with EU countries have also negatively affected Turkey’s economic performance. GDP growth in Turkey in 2016 to the third quarter was negative 1.8%. The national currency, the Lira, is one of the worst performing emerging market currencies (against the U.S. dollar) in the world.

The credit agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have downgraded Turkey’s credit rating to junk status, making loans harder to get for things like construction projects, which fueled Turkey’s high growth rates before 2016. As the U.S. dollar strengthened up to then, Turkish corporate debt has increased precipitously, threatening “financial disaster,” according to Cengiz Candar, distinguished visiting scholar at the Stockholm University Institute of Turkish Studies.

The Financial Times (U.K.) warned on January 10 that

“Turkey appears closer to a  full-blown currency crisis than at any point since the AKP took power in 2002.” In the last three months of 2016, the lira lost almost 20% of its value against the dollar, “as both global and domestic investors lose confidence in their country’s economic prospects.”

But others see a silver lining, if mainly for global finance. On April 18, the Fitch rating agency said the referendum result could “spur the government to get ahead with growth-boosting fiscal policies and undertake vital structural reforms,” according to FT.

“Turkey’s economic crisis is what is causing this drift from democracy, driving Erdoğan to increase his executive power so he can act quickly to push through the economic changes he wants” says Keyman. “Of course, just because a decision can be made quickly does not mean that it is the right one. Rather than power concentration, it is power-sharing, deliberation and participatory democracy that are the keys to solving economic and political problems.”

Asad Ismi covers international affairs for the CCPA Monitor.

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President Trump’s Disappearance

April 20th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

In my long experience in Washington, vice presidents did not make major foreign policy announcements or threaten other countries with war. Not even Dick Cheney stole this role from the weak president George W. Bush.

But yesterday the world witnessed VP Pence threaten North Korea with war.

“The sword stands ready,” said Pence as if he is the commander in chief.

Perhaps he is.

Where is Trump? As far as I can tell from the numerous emails I receive from him, he is at work marketing his presidency.

Once Trump won the election, I began receiving endless offers to purchase Trump baseball caps, T-shirts, cuff-links, coffee mugs, and to donate $3 to be entered into a raffle to win some memorabilia. The latest offer is a chance to win one of “personally signed five incredible photographs of our historic and massive inauguration.”

For Trump, the presidency is a fund-raising device. If his VP, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, UN Ambassador, CIA Director, whoever, want to start wars wherever, that’s just more memorabilia to raffle off for a $3 donation.

As a result of Trump’s failure to govern his own government, we have VP Pence telling Russia and China that there could be a nuclear exchange on their borders between the US and North Korea. Although Pence is not smart enough to know, this is not something Russia and China will accept.

Washington worries about North Korea having nuclear weapons, but the entire world worries that Washington has nuclear weapons. And so many of them. World polls have shown that the majority of the world’s population are far more concerned about the threat to peace posed by Washington and Israel than by Iran, North Korea, Russia and China.

Pence prefaced his “the sword stands ready” remark with “the United States of America will always seek peace,” which after Serbia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria is as false a statement as it is possible to make. From Washington’s perspective it is always Washington’s victims that are “reckless and provocative,” never Washington.

The US stands for war. If the world is driven to Armegeddon, it will be Washington, not North Korea, Iran, Russia, or China, that brings life on earth to an end.

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The recent assertion made by Bashar al-Jaafri, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, accusing Israel of supporting and assisting the so-called Islamic State in his country’s civil war has raised eyebrows in certain sections of the global media.

The Jerusalem Post referred to his comments as a “startling accusation” while the British Daily Mail thought it an “extraordinary claim”. A columnist for the International Business Times, an online publication, opined that Jaafri’s comments were the latest of an “oft-repeated conspiracy theory around recent Middle Eastern conflicts” wherein Israel is posited as a “covert ally of Islamic militants.”

The rebuttals and other responses expressing skepticism over accepting this allegation as fact appear to be sound. The Jewish state is after all in the words of the IBT columnist, “despised by ISIS” which he goes on write “has urged its followers to kill Jews around the world”.

Many detractors of the Islamic faith who ignore Koranic references which acknowledge Jews to be a legitimate community of believers in the God of Abraham consistently aver to several passages as evidence of its animus towards adherents of Judaism. Among these is that of 5.13 which accuses the Jews of having broken “their covenant” with God who has “cursed them and made hard their hearts.” How, given this background, could Israel countenance ever giving support -whether direct or indirect- to those indoctrinated with the values of fundamentalist Islam and enamoured with the cause of jihadism?

The evidence surprisingly does point to a consistent pattern of Israeli state policy aims that has involved facilitating the emergence and the sustenance of militant Islamic organisations.  In order to understand this phenomenon, it is important to be aware of the historical policies pursued by the state of Israel which have been predicated on the idea of weakening its opponents in order to reduce external threats to its security. This feeds into an overarching goal of balkanizing Muslim Arab nations and the manipulation of tribal and sectarian rivalries within such polities as a means of achieving this end. It is while bearing this in mind that evidence of Israel’s support of an Islamist militia during the Soviet-Afghan War, terror groups in Iran, a group of insurrectionists in Yemen and jihadist militias in the ongoing Syrian Civil War becomes a phenomenon that is more readily comprehended. It also explains why Israel supplied weapons to Iran during its war with Iraq and why Israel effectively aided the creation of the Palestinian Islamist organisation Hamas.

Those who dreamed of establishing a state of Israel were aware that a necessary precondition of its coming into being would involve the fracturing and dismembering of the Ottoman Empire which controlled Palestine until the end of the First World War. And since its establishment, leaders of Israel have followed policies based on establishing both military and economic hegemony over other countries in the Middle East. Operating under what have been described as “strong survival instincts”, this has included the overarching objective of weakening Arab states which were artificial constructs of the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

From the Maghreb to the Levant and beyond, the existence of large Arab nations have represented an existential threat to Israel and Israel has actively sought to undermine these states when the opportunity has arisen. This was central to the policies pursued by David Ben Gurion in the 1950s which were geared towards increasing tensions between Christian and Muslim communities in neighbouring Lebanon. The aim was to secure the dismemberment of the country as well as the possible acquisition of additional territory.

The diaries of Moshe Sharett, one of Israel’s early prime ministers record Moshe Dayan as declaring that Israel needed a Christian military officer to carve out a Christian state in the region south of the River Litani which would then be ceded to Israel. Ben Gurion himself had advocated the Litani as the natural northern border of Israel. Thus, fomenting sectarian strife in order to forestal the development of a unified Arab nation which could threaten it and creating the circumstances in which land could be acquired was at the root of Israel’s relationship with its northern neighbour. Dayan’s plan would later be activated via the creation of the South Lebanon Army, which served as a proxy army for the Israelis in its battles with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Israel’s policy also informed Ben Gurion’s vehement objections to French President Charles de Gaulle’s decision to grant independence to Algeria.

The Israeli strategy of working towards the destabilising and balkanising of Arab Muslim nations is best illustrated by a paper drawn up in the early 1980s by Oded Yinon. The ‘Yinon Plan’ was predicated on the idea of exploiting the ethnic-sectarian rivalries and the economic maladies within those Arab states possessing strong, nationalist governments. Iraq, for instance, was earmarked as a suitable candidate that would ideally be divided into three mini-states: one Kurdish and the other two respectively Sunni and Shia. Egypt would ideally be splintered into a Coptic Christian state and numerous other Muslim states. Yinon’s paper also assessed the vulnerabilities of the Syrian state which he felt was no different to that of Lebanon except that it was held together by the strong leadership of Hafez al Assad.

Another paper which gives an idea of Israel’s enduring interest in engineering the fracturing of neighboring Arab states is one produced in 1996 by a team led by Richard Perle. ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’ proposed that Israel give up efforts towards achieving a comprehensive peace with the Arab world and instead should work together with Turkey and Jordan to “contain, destabilize and roll-back” those states which pose as threats to all three. It was a strategy which envisioned the “weakening, controlling and even rolling back” of Syria.

While Israeli state policy is officially ‘neutral’ so far as the activities of the anti-Shia Sunni militants who are enemies of Israel’s foes who comprise the Shia Crescent extending from Iran through to Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, there is enough evidence to indicate that Israel has adopted a pragmatic attitude to the usefulness of groups such as Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra.

This is reflected in a paper entitled ‘The Destruction of Islamic State is a Mistake’ written by Professor Efriam Inbar, a director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, and published in August of 2016. In it, Inbar argues that while the West should seek to weaken the Islamic State, it should not go as far as destroying it. The Islamic State serves as a useful tool in undermining the strategic interests of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. In other words, radical Islamic insurgents aid Israel’s long-term strategy of survival using the divide and conquer philosophy.

The use of a divide and conquer strategy by aiding one enemy in its struggle with another enemy forms a common theme in Israel’s decision to aid Islamist groups. Indeed, it is at the heart of the rise of Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, or Hamas, the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organisation and its associated paramilitary force, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Image result for yinon plan

Israel’s support for Hamas was based on the rationale of using it as a counter-weight to Yasser Arafat’s secular Fatah organisation, the largest component of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. In the words of a former senior CIA official,

this support “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative”.

Several officials from the Intelligence Community of the United States have claimed that Israel gave both direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas for a period of years commencing in the later part of the 1970s. These claims have been backed by the research of Professor Anthony H. Cordesman of the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Arafat, who asserted that Hamas was the “creation of Israel”, once claimed that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had admitted to him in the presence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that Israel had supported Hamas.

For much of the 1980s, most of the Palestinian Islamist groups appear not to have supported resistance to the occupation and instead expended their energies and finances in combating the more Left-wing factions of the PLO on university campuses. Some time after the first Intafada of 1987, a pained Arafat accused Hamas and other Islamist organisations of effectively acting as collaborators with the Israeli occupiers.

US officials reported that Brigadier-General Yitzhak Segev, a military governor of Gaza in the 1980s had told them that he had helped fund “Islamic movements as a counterweight to the PLO and communists”. David Shipler, a reporter for the New York Times, claimed that Segev had boasted of funding Islamic fundamentalists because of its utility in fomenting conflict between Islamists and secular supporters of the PLO.

“The Israeli government gave me a budget”, Segev claimed, “and the military government gives to the mosques”.

The military administrators of the Gaza Strip which was conquered from Egypt after the Six Day War enabled Mujama al-Islamiya, a precursor of the group which was led by Sheik Ahmed Yassin, to register as a charity. This group continued a tradition of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups in providing Palestinian communities with Da’wah, an infrastructure of social, religious, educational and cultural elements which served to ease the hardships of dispossessed peoples eking out an existence in refugee camps.

Supporting Hamas had aims that went further than creating a fractious political climate among the Palestinians. Israel hoped to benefit from disclosures of the organisations links with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran. For those on the Israeli political Right, Hamas’ aim to create a theocratic transnational Islamic state rather than a Palestinian nation state would make it less amenable to assenting to a peace agreement in contrast to the PLO which was in principle committed to a two-state solution.

In a 2003 article in Current History entitled “Hamas and the Transformation of Political Islam in Palestine”, the American scholar Sara Roy wrote,

“Some analysts maintain that while Hamas leaders are being targeted, Israel is simultaneously pursuing its old strategy of promoting Hamas over the secular nationalist factions as a way of ensuring the ultimate demise of the (Palestinian Authority), and as an effort to extinguish Palestinian nationalism once and for all.”

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Israel’s support of Islamist groups has not been restricted to the Middle East. While most people are aware that the United States and allies such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were involved in aiding the Mujahideen during the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, few are aware that one faction of the Mujahideen; one which was particularly hardline and anti-Western, was a beneficiary of Israeli support.

Israel’s involvement in this anti-Soviet alliance was based on an animus towards the Soviet Union which it perceived as a bastion of anti-Semitism because of the policies followed in the post-War period. This began with the anti-cosmopolitical campaign in the twilight years of Stalin who became suspicious of the loyalties of Soviet Jews in the wake of the creation of the state of Israel.

A series of anti-Jewish purges followed. These included those aimed at the membership of the Anti-Fascist Committee of Soviet Jews, the shutting down of the Moscow State Jewish Theater and the infamous ‘Doctors Plot’.

While the succeeding administrations of Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev officially denounced anti-Semitism, many in the Jewish Diaspora particularly, and importantly, those in the United States remained unconvinced and would claim that the Soviet Union administered a form of state-sponsored anti-Semitism. The undercurrent of anti-Semitism is said to have risen in the build up to the Six Day War of 1967 and Israel’s subsequent victory led to an increase in Jewish ethnic consciousness which fed into the burgeoning Refusenik Movement. Soviet Jews formed a large segment of these dissidents who were denied permission to emigrate from the Soviet Union.

Although the Soviet Union was the first country to recognise the state of Israel, both countries found themselves effectively functioning as political and military adversaries because of the military aid and assistance given by the Soviets to Israel’s major Arab enemies, Egypt and Syria. Soviet support for miscellaneous national liberation movements included several Palestinian militant groups, and in 1978, it recognised the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

In Israel, the idea of the Soviet Union being a sponsor of Arab terrorism became widespread so much so that in 1986 Binyamin Netanyahu wrote about the “centrality of the Soviet Union and the PLO in fomenting and spreading (international terrorism).”

It was thus under the watch of General Ehud Barak, a future prime minister and the creator of the Special Forces unit Seyeret Matkal, that Agaf ha-Modi’in (Aman for short), Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, began arming and training Islamist guerrillas of Hezb-i-Islami Mujahideen, which was led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Charlie Wilson, a pro-Israeli congressman acted as an arms broker for the sale of weapons captured from the PLO in Lebanon to Hekmatyar’s group via Pakistan, then led by General Zia Ul-Haq. Wilson’s liaison with Israeli intelligence was Zvi Rafiah, the Mossad station chief in Washington who had full access to Wilson’s congressional office.

The connection between Israel and Islamist militias is one which has continued through to the era of the so-called ‘war on terror’. The ‘war on terror’ is itself an Israeli construct with origins in the ideas promoted by the Jonathan Institute, a body founded in 1976 and run by members of the Netanyahu family. The Jerusalem Conference of 1979 which was held under the auspices of the institute and with the full support of the then incumbent Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, sought to fundamentally change perceptions of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Netanyahu also wrote a series of books alongside the papers published by the institute which put forward the idea that acts of terror directed at Israel were based not on the precept of a legitimate struggle by a people dispossessed of their land and denied the right to self determination, but instead was predicated on a clash of values: the values of the Western world as supposedly represented by ‘democratic’ Israel and values antithetical to the West as represented by Arab ‘authoritarianism’ and ‘fanaticism’.

The argument posited by the institute involved a war being fought on a global scale that would involve the United States taking a lead in ways which included sending its military to fight in the Middle East. The ‘war on terror’ called for by Ehud Barak from a BBC studio on September the 11th 2001, only a short time after the attack on the World Trade Center complex by soldiers of al-Qaeda, was heeded by President George Bush. It was a war which was declared from the outset to be one of unlimited scope and duration.

In 2002, a website called ‘Mojahedoon dot net’ was launched. It carried a statement purportedly from a newly established branch of al-Qaeda known as the ‘Islamic al-Qaeda in Palestine’ which pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden. It rejected any peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, adding that it would accept “nothing but the full liberation of the Palestinian land.”

This development was not one that was out of the ordinary. Analysts of global jihadism were quick to understand that the body founded by Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri did not function globally as a centralised corporate body. Instead, it metamorphosed into a decentralized leadership of regional groups using the al-Qaeda brand. This phenomenon has meant that a terror group embracing the ideology of Sunni jihadism can create itself and act independently of an authoritative figure acting under the command of the original entity. This leaves open the possibility that intelligence services may be able to create counterfeit terror units claiming to be al-Qaeda.

Image result for al-qaedaThe response of the Palestinian Authority to a similar development within its territories explicitly embraced this theory. Officials including Yasser Arafat accused Mossad of setting up a fake al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Gaza. According to Colonel Rashid Abu-Shbak, the head of preventative security, eight Palestinian residents of Gaza had been approached by figures who made offers of money and weapons to work for al-Qaeda. These communications were claimed to have been traced back to Israeli intelligence.

While Israel’s position was that the Palestinian allegations were “sheer nonsense” and an attempt to cover up the PLO’s ‘collaboration’ with extremists, Abu-Shbak’s position was that while he could not guarantee a presence in the future, al-Qaeda was not operating in Gaza. Setting up a fake al-Qaeda terror cell was, Arafat insisted, an Israeli strategy aimed at justifying attacks on Palestinian areas.

A similar situation transpired in the Arabian Peninsula some years later. When security forces in Yemen arrested a cell of Islamist militants with alleged ties to Israeli intelligence in the later part of 2008, the reaction from around the world was one of incredulity. The Israeli foreign ministry issued a statement rejecting the accusation as “far-fetched”.

The evidence put forward by the prosecution at a trial of three of its nationals before a state security court early the following year, was that Bassam Abdullah al-Haideri had established contact with the office of Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via an email in which he offered to work for Mossad. The prosecutors claimed that al-Haideri received a reply from Israeli officials who responded positively to the offer.

According to the court documents, al-Haidari had written,

“we are the Organisation of Islamic Jihad and you are Jews, but you are honest, and we are ready to do anything.”

In reply, someone purporting to be from Olmert’s office, but more likely to have been from Israeli intelligence wrote back informing al-Haidari,

“we are ready to support you…as an agent.”

Israel, the Yemeni prosecutor’s claimed was prepared to assist a group of Islamist militants who had “prepared…car bombs to attack governmental buildings and embassies”. The cell was arrested in the month following an attack on the US embassy in the capital city of Sana’a. An organisation referring to themselves as the Islamic Jihad in Yemen, had claimed responsibility for an attack on the embassy which had killed 18 people.

The US State Department had in December of 2007 released a communique describing describing Yemen as “an important partner in the global war on terrorism” and praised the efforts of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in his country’s “counter-terrorism cooperation efforts with the United States, achieving significant results and improving overall security in Yemen.”

What motive could Israel have for supporting an Islamic terror cell in a country where the ‘war on terror’ was supposedly being won? And why support an organisation which would target its preeminent ally, the United States, which was taking the lead in this war? The answer can be found in the aforementioned strategy of weakening Arab and Muslim states which also formed the basis of its involvement in the Iran-Iraq War as well as the ongoing Syrian War. The position favoured by Israel in the former as well as the latter is that of a prolonged war of indefinite duration.

The motive for supporting an al-Qaeda affiliated terror cell in the Yemen was thus likely to be based on the rationale of prolonging the ‘war on terror’ by undermining what the State Department had described as an improving security situation in the Yemen.

For those who find the episode in Yemen unbelievable or, as the Israeli foreign ministry put it, derived from “the proponents of conspiracy theories”, a recounting of ‘Operation Susannah’, an infamous episode in the annals of Israeli intelligence, is essential.

In 1954, Aman activated a sleeper cell composed of operatives who had been recruited from the Arab Jewish population of Egypt. They were tasked with planting a series of bombs in American and British establishments in the cities of Alexandria and Cairo.

On July 2nd, the unit detonated bombs at a post office in Alexandria. Twelve days later, it bombed the libraries of the US Information Agency in Alexandria and Cairo. The explosions caused little damage and there was no loss of life. On July 23rd, a bomb exploded prematurely while one of the agents was entering the British-owned Rio Theater in Alexandra. He survived the blast and was arrested.  Most of the conspirators were rounded up by Egyptian intelligence and put on trial before an Egyptian military tribunal. After deliberations, two were executed by hanging (another two had committed suicide while in custody) while the others were handed lengthy terms of imprisonment.

The official position of the Israeli government at the time was that the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser had framed a group of innocent Jews and convicted them in a show trial after their confessions had been extracted by torture.

The truth was of course different.

The incident, which came to be known as the ‘Lavon Affair’, so-called because defence minister Pinhas Lavon had been held responsible for the conception and execution of the operation, had been carried out without the knowledge of Prime Minister Moshe Sharett. Sharett was despised by figures such as Ben Gurion and Moshe Dayan because of policies which they perceived as ‘dovish’. He had established back channels of communication between himself and Nasser.

But the idea behind the operation went further than intentionally frustrating Sharett. ‘Susannah’ was conceived as a ‘false flag’ operation to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, communists and malcontented Egyptian nationalists in order to discourage Western rapprochement with the Egyptian leader. It also had the objective of encouraging the British not to withdraw from the Suez Canal and may have also been designed to create the circumstances where the United States and Britain would be encouraged to take military action against Egypt.

It would be 51 years after the event before Israel officially admitted it had conducted this covert operation, and in a ceremony presided by Moshe Katzav, its then president, the surviving members of the cell were awarded certificates of appreciation for services rendered to the state.

While the aforementioned ‘Yinon Plan’ and ‘Clean Break document’ offer an underpinning geo-political rationale and explanation for Israel’s present day interest in the fate of the Syrian state, some background as to how the conflict was stimulated is warranted.
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The ongoing Syrian War is best understood as being a manufactured conflict. In other words, it is one which involved the pre-planned invasion of a sovereign state by other states seeking the overthrow of the de jure government.

Bashar al-Jaafri’s recent comments before the United Nations Security Council about what he claimed to be Israel’s direct support for jihadists made a pointed reference to the origins of the crisis.

“This serious aggression,” he said, “had been plotted long in advance inside the secret rooms of intelligence agencies of Tel Aviv, Riyadh, Doha, Ankara, Amman, Washington, London and Paris.”

The phenomenon of social ferment in the Muslim Arab world frequently referred to as the ‘Arab Spring’ which paved the way for specific episodes of genuine communal demonstrations against the government of Bashar al Assad merely provided cover for the introduction of armed infiltrators from foreign lands indoctrinated with the cause of jihadism.

Al-Jaafri’s reference to the external source of the Syrian tragedy is corroborated by the admission made by Roland Dumas, a former foreign minister of France, who claimed in 2013 that the insurrection was “prepared, conceived and organised” at least two years in advance of the insurgency. Dumas had been on a visit to London when he was approached by British officials who informed him about a project that involved infiltrating Syria with rebel fighters.

As to why the intelligence services of the nations mentioned by al-Jaafri would want to overthrow the Assad government, the reasons differ. There are economic reasons which relate to the Assad government’s rejection of a gas pipeline running from the Gulf to Europe via Syria and Turkey. The advantages to the emirate states and Turkey are apparent, but a pipeline would also serve the strategic interests of the United States which wishes to remove the dependency of it European allies on Russian gas.

Yet, the argument that Israel’s interests are paramount in this is not without foundation.

“In the region (i.e. the Middle East),” Dumas related, “it is important to know that this Syrian regime has a very anti-Israeli stance…and I have this from the former Israeli prime minister who told me, “we’ll try to get on with our neighbours, but those who don’t agree with us will be destroyed.”

Overseeing this policy of securing the position of Israel in the Middle East is the United States. Writing in the March 2007 edition of the New Yorker magazine, the Pulitzer Prize award-winning author Seymour Hersh related the following:

The Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashar Assad of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations

The foreign policy objectives of the United States as well as its key allies such as France and Britain which all have powerful Israel lobbies are virtually in sync with that of Israel which has over the decades developed a what is in effect a symbiotic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the conservative Gulf emirates such as Qatar.

The “weakening, controlling and even rolling back” of Syria, alluded to in the aforementioned ‘Clean Break’ document has as its end game the destruction of the entities comprising the so-called ‘Shia Crescent’ of which Syria serves as an important conduit between the government of Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel’s interest in destroying a country that has refused to sign a peace treaty and which helps sustain Hezbollah, the only military organisation in the Arab world to frustrate its armed forces in the field of combat, is clear. The destruction of Syria would make it easier for Israel to continue to rebuff the Syrian territorial claim for the occupied and illegally annexed Golan Heights. It would also go a large way in fulfilling the aims of the Yinon Plan given the neutralising of Egypt via a peace treaty, Jordan’s continuing existence as a de facto Israeli protectorate, the effective partitioning of post-Baathist ruled Iraq and the destruction of Libya.

Syria’s dismantling would certainly go a long way in achieving the Israeli interest-promoting neoconservative agendal of destroying Arab governments supposedly hostile to the “interests and values” of the United States. It is not by sheer coincidence that each of these countries were not compliant to Israel’s military domination of the Middle East.

The goals of the neoconservative-authored ‘Statement of Principles’ by the Project for the New American Century were largely synonymous with the ‘Clean Break’ document and was put into action immediately after the September 11th attacks inaugurated the ‘war on terror’. It is clear that while US administrations have changed since that time, the policy revealed by retired General Wesley Clark about how the United States intended to “take out seven countries”, one of which was Syria, remains unchanged.

The attitude of Israel to the fate of the Assad government was neatly enunciated by its former ambassador to the United States. He was quoted by the Jerusalem Post in September of 2013 as saying the following:

The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone of that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.

How then has Israel provided help to Syrian Islamist groups? It is important to begin by noting that most of the locally sprung anti-Assad fighters -not including the imported global jihadists fighting for the Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra- are Islamist in motivation. While making his presentation to the Herzliya Conference in 2014, Brigadier-General Itai Brun, the head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence research and analysis division, declared that over 80 per cent had “a clear Islamist agenda”.

Yet, given the virulently anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist posturing of many Islamist groups, some have been given to wonder aloud as to why Israel appeared to be immune from attacks by groups such as Islamic State. Between Israel and the jihadists neither bomb nor bullet was exchanged.

For the conspiratorially-minded, it ‘revealed’ Israel’s diabolical role in the creation and direction of Islamic State. For others, a more rational explanation prevailed: Israel’s policy of forceful retribution offered enough deterrence to those who would dare raise their hands to strike at the Jewish state.

Still, some hardcore skeptics point out that the unfearing mind of the fanatic convinced of an awaiting martyrdom would not be deterred by the wrath of a powerful foe. If the alleged executors of the attacks on the United States in 2001 were hell bent on provoking a war with the most powerful nation on earth, why would those committed to an even more extreme strain of fundamentalism shirk from staging attacks?

The answer lies in the goal of Sunni adherents to militant Islamic creeds seeking to ‘purify’ Islam first before taking on the ‘infidels’. Thus the primary aim for groups such as Islamic State is to destroy secular governments in the Muslim world such as that of Bashar Assad and those considered heretical such as the Shia.

They offer justification for this stance by referring to the precedent of the first caliph, Abu Bakr, whose reign was inaugurated by an onslaught against those professed followers of the faith who were nonetheless deemed to be apostates. Another example to which they refer is that of Saladin, who fought the Shiites in Egypt before embarking on his successful campaign to re-establish Islamic control of Jerusalem.

Israeli support for Islamist insurgents operating in Syria has been largely two-fold. One relates to the medical treatment given to Islamist guerillas fighting near Israel’s Syrian border. Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have dominated the “eight-square-kilometer separation zone on the Golan” since 2013. The other is realised through Israeli attacks on Syrian government forces.

In late 2014, United Nations observers located in the Golan Heights submitted a report to the United Nations Security Council stating that the IDF had been in regular contact with Syrian rebels including Islamic State militants for a period estimated at 18 months.

Members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force recorded specific instances where wounded members of the Syrian opposition were taken by armed rebels across the longstanding Israel-Syria ceasefire line and left at locations where they were transferred to a civilian ambulance which was escorted by an IDF vehicle. Those rebels who were mended after treatment at one of several “secret military hospitals” were sent back to Syria where they presumably returned to fighting.

Reports of such contact which had filtered through some news reports were initially denied by Israel which insisted that it was treating only civilians. However, this position was recanted when activists among Israel’s minority Druze population protested in November of that year, complaining that fighters from the al-Nusra Front were among those being hospitalised. They accused the Israeli government of supporting radical Sunni factions such as the Islamic State.

Image result for israeli militaryIn response, the Israeli military issued a statement saying that for two years, the IDF had been “engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity.”

The report went further in noting that members of the Israeli army were observed to be interacting with armed rebels and that in one such incident, the IDF soldiers gave boxes to the Syrian armed rebels.

An article of the Jerusalem Post in April 2017 claimed that in “approximately four  years, Israel has provided medical care to some 3,000 Syrians.” What the ratio is between fighters and civilians remains unknown. However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel remained committed to treating war wounded. And while the official position is that treatment will be dispensed to anyone who makes it to the demarcation line, the reality is that it does not extend to members of the Syrian Arab Army.

The Syrian Army has been intermittently targeted by airstrikes since the beginning of the conflict. While such strikes have been explained as focusing on intercepting advanced weapon deliveries from the Iranian government to Hezbollah, information is often obscure. According to Al-Jaafri, the Israeli Air Force attack on Syrian Army sites in Palmyra on March 17th, 2017 was designed to give “direct  support to ISIL” and had “added fuel to the fire and made things worse.” Israel’s reason for this particular strike as with others was that it was targeting consignments bound for Hezbollah. The problem for the Syrian Army is that such strikes are interpreted as an attempt to degrade its capabilities in fighting the Islamist insurgents.

Israel has gone further than providing medical treatment and conducting anti-government airstrikes. It is clear that it has armed and trained rebels albeit those who are regarded to be part of the nominally secular Free Syrian Army. The Times of Israel revealed in August of 2014 that a Syrian rebel commander who was abducted and tried by a Sharia court set up by the al-Nusra Front in the Daraa region confessed to having collaborated with Israel. He admitted entering Israel five times to meet with officers of the IDF who provided him Soviet-made anti-tank weapons and light arms in return for protecting the Israeli border with Syria.

It is not unreasonable to speculate that for many in Israel, the best case scenario is for the Syrian war to endure for as long as possible without any side necessarily prevailing over the other. The destruction of military resources, the displacement and depopulation of the country and its de facto partitioning would go a long way towards realising the state’s long-term objectives of weakening its neighbours.

When Islamic State made its initial conquests in Iraq and there was talk about the West intervening, Binyamin Netanyahu in an interview with the American public affairs program ‘Meet the Press’ advised:

“when your enemies are fighting each other, don’t strengthen one of them; weaken both.”

This idea of weakening both enemies was at the heart of Israeli involvement in the war between Iran and Iraq which began in 1980 and lasted for eight years. Iran has been an explicit enemy of the state of Israel since the Islamic revolution of 1979 overthrew the Shah and installed a Shia theocracy led by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Khomeini had often railed against the United States and Israel as the sources corruption and backwardness in Iran during the Shah’s reign. His arrest by the Shah’s security police after a particularly inflammatory sermon was followed by violent street protests whose participants held placards and chanted the slogan

“Death to the Shah, Death to America and Death to Israel.”

The fall of the Shah with whose government Israel had a positive, even influential relationship, created a new enemy for Israel. With the coming of the revolution, Iran broke off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. The new government proceeded to adopt a strongly pro-Palestinian policy and there were frequent denunciations calling for the destruction of Israel and Zionism. It is estimated that around a third of Iran’s Jews emigrated from the country.

Yet, in separate in-depth researches conducted by writers Ronen Bergman and Trita Parsi, much information has been assembled indicating that Israel sold Iran a huge amount of armaments at various stages of Iran’s war with Iraq. Codenamed ‘Operation Seashell’ by the Israelis, the Iranians are claimed to have received weapons from stockpiles of the IDF as well as from Israel Aircraft industries.

An arms dealer working for the Iranians named Ahmad Haidari claimed that around 80% of Iranian weapons purchased during the war emanated from Israel. Most of the payments were made by supplying Israel with oil. Allegations of transactions of this nature were made while the war was ongoing by media outlets such as the New York Times and Panorama, a Milan-based weekly. As was the case with Israeli supplies to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami Mujahideen during the Islamist anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan, Panorama claimed that a large part of some consignments came from weapons captured from the PLO during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon the early 1980s.

It has also been a matter of public record for a long period of time that israel facilitated the transfer of arms from the United States to Iran as part of the so-called Iran-Contra Affair.

While it was acting in its own national security interests, Israel’s destruction of Iraq’s nuclear project at Osirak in 1981 indirectly aided the Iranians who had in fact bombed the establishment in 1980 but only with limited success.

Although Israel’s involvement in the Iran-Iraq war was one-sided, the Israeli rationale of weakening both enemies still held true given the fact that Iraq, led at the time by Saddam Hussein, was supported by the United States and much of the Arab world. Saddam was of course no friend of Israel. He continually projected an anti-Israel stance and gave material support to various Palestinian organisations. Iraqi military capabilities meant that it possessed the strongest army in the Arab world and a victory over Iran, Israel feared would embolden Saddam to challenge its undisputed hegemony in the region.

The neutering of Iraqi power that followed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government has left Iran as a formidable challenger to that hegemony. It is the reason why Israel welcomes the weakening of Syria – something confirmed by a leaked email written by Hillary Clinton while she was the serving as US Secretary of State under the administration of Barack Obama.
“The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability,” she wrote, “is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

While Israel failed to persuade the Obama administration to attack and destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, it has sought out opportunities of using dissenting groups from among Iran’s multi-ethnic population to destabilise the country. This has included groups of a Sunni fundamentalist disposition. For instance, in the late 2000s, agents of the Mossad posed as CIA agents to meet and recruit members of the virulently anti-Shia Jundullah, a terror group based in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, in Western European capital cities to carry out a campaign of bombings and assassinations in Iran.

Also in 2012, NBC television reported that Israeli intelligence had financed, trained and armed the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a terror group with origins in Marxism-Islamism, to carry out attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists. The sources for this information were “two senior officials in the Obama administration.” Trita Parsi estimates that the relationship with Israel may have started as far back as the early 1990s. A multi-million dollar campaign by pro-Israel groups in North America calling for the MEK to be removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organisations was successful. The group was delisted in 2012.

While Israel refuses to publicly acknowledge its ties with the MEK, Parsi revealed that a former US State Department official had confided that Israeli official privately tell the United states that the MEK is “useful”.

The benefits accrued to Israel for episodic support for Islamist groups and even the Islamic government in Tehran are clear in terms of political and geo-strategic advantage as well as occasionally offering financial benefit.

But the costs are also clear.

Larry Johnson, a former State Department counter-terrorism official, once claimed that the Israelis “are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism.” In Johnson’s view, the Israelis “do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it.”

“The thing wrong with so many Israeli operations,” a former CIA official named Vincent Cannistratro once opined, “is that they try to be too sexy.”

Cannistrato was referring to Israel’s cultivation of Hamas as a rival organisation to the PLO and the implications of blowback.

Israeli support for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Mujahideen group during the Afghan War of the 1980s contributed to the blowback often attributed to American support for anti-Soviet Islamists. ‘Operation Cyclone’, the longest and most expensive covert operation conducted by the CIA was designed to lure the Soviet military into Afghanistan where its military capabilities would be denuded. The losses suffered by the Soviet military which led to withdrawal were lauded as a significant contributory factor in the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. What the Americans failed to foresee was that they had paved the way for the creation of al-Qaeda and the development of global jihadism.

Among those participants trained and armed by Israeli military intelligence were thousands of non-Afghan fighters who included Arab jihadists, many of whom would form the germ of the global jihadist movement currently bedeviling the world. After losing support first from Saudi Arabia and later Pakistan, the remnants of Hezb-i-Islami Mujahideen  merged into al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

There are of course critics who point out that the ‘war on terror’ declared in response to the growth of the global jihadist movement favours Israel. As mentioned earlier on, Binyamin Netanyahu spearheaded calls for such a war back in the 1970s. Weakening enemies and the military involvement of the United States in Middle Eastern affairs were goals of the Netanyahu-run Jonathan Institute. It was after all, Netanyahu himself who in 2008 suggested to an Israeli audience that Israel was “benefiting” from the “attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and the American struggle” in Iraq.

Nonetheless, Israel’s specifically verifiable relationships with terror groups officially opens it up to the charge of being a state sponsor of terrorism. It undermines any moral high ground it claims to have when referring to enemies such as Iran as sponsors and perpetrators of terror.

What may appear to be the cunning and pragmatic exercise of realpolitik may also be viewed as hypocritical, a perversion of ethical values, and, ultimately will serve to further undermine the cause of Zionism.

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer and law lecturer who is based in London, England.

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Canadian political commentator, Stephen Gowans, will launch his authoritative new book, “Washington’s Long War on Syria”, in a number of Central Canadian cities over the next two months.

Below is the actual chronological order of the remainder of the tour.

MISSISSAUGA: Sunday April 23 @ 2 pm, at Burnhamthorpe Library, 3650 Dixie Road in Mississauga. Sponsored by the Canadian Peace Congress, People’s Voice and the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians.

TORONTO: Monday, April 24 @ 7:30 pm – GCDO Hall, 290 Danforth Ave., Toronto – Co-sponsored by Canadian Peace Congress, New Labour Press, and People’s Voice.

HAMILTON: Catch Gowans’ book launch at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 25, at New Vision United Church, 24 Main Street West, Hamilton L8P 1H2, diagonally across from Hamilton City Hall. Doors open 6:45 pm. Sponsored by the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, hcsw.ca, [email protected], call Ken at 905-383-7693. Endorsed by Democracy Probe International.

HAMILTON MCMASTER book launch added for lunchtime (12:30 pm to 2:30 pm) on Wednesday, April 26, at the McMaster University Student Centre, Rooms 311 & 313. MUSC can be accessed by many HSR buses from downtown. Paid surface parking is available on lots near the Student Centre. Sponsored by the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War. Endorsed by Democracy Probe International.

ST CATHARINES: The launch is at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 26, at St Thomas Anglican Church, 99 Ontario St, St Catharines (downtown near Montebello Park). Plenty of free parking at the rear of church off Cherry St. Sponsored by Niagara Coalition For Peace. Contact [email protected] and 289 990 7683.

TORONTO (again): Stephen Gowans will be speaking at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre on Thursday, April 27 at 7 pm. The event, sponsored by A Different Booklist will take place at the Cultural Centre, 777-779 Bathurst St. (at Bloor). Contact info: [email protected]m; 416 538 0889; 416 901 7720.

MONTREAL: Gowans’ bilingual Montreal talk and launch will be held on Tuesday, May 2, at the Centre St-Pierre, 1212, rue Panet, Room 101 at 7 pm. The Montreal event, sponsored by Baraka Books, will be held in both French and English. Contact: [email protected]; 514-808-8504.

All launches feature FREE ADMISSION and are open to the public of all ages. Gowans will lecture about his analysis of the imperial origins of the war on Syria, answer questions, and sign and sell his new book, which retails at $25. All venues are wheelchair accessible and are close either to paid or free parking as well as to public transit.
As more book launches of this most authoritative book on the Syrian war are organized, they will be announced here.
Below are reviews, abstract, and praise of the book.

REVIEWS

“The war over Syria has been, in truth, a fight for control over the global economic and political order—a last, failing stand for a declining American empire to forestall the current shift toward a new global balance of power. Unlike so many hastily-written books on Syria that miss this point, Stephan Gowans’ work will prove to be an essential primer on the Syrian conflict for years to come. A must read.” —Sharmine Narwani, Journalist and Analyst of Mideast geopolitics.

“Stephen Gowans is internationally known. His blog is read all over the world, and his book is coming out in multiple languages. Gowans writes about important issues of US foreign-policy, including the timely subjects of Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and North Korea. Gowans is notable for understanding the Syrian conflict in terms of the struggle between three main forces – US imperialism, political Islam, and Arab nationalism. In his book, Gowans explores the intricacies of political Islam as expressed in contending relationships between nationalism, imperialism, and economic development. A (free) lecture not to be missed!” —Brendan Stone, co-chair, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

ABSTRACT

When President Barack Obama demanded formally in the summer of 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, it was not the first time Washington had sought regime change in Damascus. The United States had waged a long war against Syria from the very moment the country’s fiercely independent Arab nationalist movement came to power in 1963. Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad were committed to that movement.

Washington sought to purge Arab nationalist influence from the Syrian state and the Arab world more broadly. It was a threat to Washington’s agenda of establishing global primacy and promoting business-friendly investment climates for US banks, investors and corporations throughout the world. Arab nationalists aspired to unify the world’s 400 million Arabs into a single super-state capable of challenging United States hegemony in West Asia and North Africa. They aimed to become a major player on the world stage free from the domination of the former colonial powers and the US.

Washington had waged long wars on the leaders of the Arab nationalist movement. These included Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Syria’s Assads. To do so, the US often allied with particularly violent forms of political Islam to undermine its Arab nationalist foes. By 2011, only one pan-Arabist state remained in the region—Syria.

In Washington’s Long War on Syria Stephen Gowans examines the decades-long struggle for control of Syria. This struggle involved secular Arab nationalism, political Islam, and United States imperialism, the self-proclaimed Den of Arabism, and last secular pan-Arabist state in the region.

PRAISE

“Stephen Gowans paints a very clear portrait of the Syrian Arab Republic, and documents the extensive efforts from the Pentagon to bring it down. With the mainstream media spewing regime change propaganda 24-hours a day, Gowan’s book is a must-read. It tells the true story of the Syrian people and their struggles for independence and development, a story that desperately needs to be heard. This book would make even the most ardent interventionist question Washington’s policies. Gowan’s tells truths that are so deeply hidden in western countries, but yet are so vital in understanding world events.” Caleb Maupin, Journalist & Political Analyst

“Gowans’ book is a timely and indispensable resource for those seeking to understand recent events in Syria.” Eva Bartlett, Independent Canadian Journalist

“Washington’s Long War on Syria” is a well-researched and highly readable account of why the United States has launched a major crusade to overthrow the Baathist government in Damascus. Needless to say, the story it tells is completely at odds with the US-sponsored fairy tale about a brutal dictator crushing a democratic protesters, leaving noble Americans no choice but to ride to the rescue.” Dan Lazare, Journalist and Author

Stephen Gowans runs the popular and widely read What’s Left webzine. Often interviewed on The Taylor Report (CIUT 89.5, Toronto), Stephen Gowans lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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Um governo de idiotas

April 19th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Tornou-se embaraçoso ser americano. O nosso país teve quatro presidentes seguidos, criminosos de guerra. Clinton lançou duas vezes ataques militares contra a Sérvia, ordenando que a OTAN bombardeasse a ex-Jugoslávia duas vezes, tanto em 1995 como em 1999, o que responsabiliza Bill por dois crimes de guerra. George W. Bush invadiu o Afeganistão e o Iraque e bombardeou as províncias do Paquistão e do Iêmen. Contabilizam-se assim quatro crimes de guerra para Bush. Obama usou a NATO para destruir a Líbia e enviou mercenários para destruir a Síria, cometendo dois crimes de guerra. Trump atacou a Síria com as forças dos EUA, tornando-se um criminoso de guerra, logo no início de seu mandato.

Acresce que a ONU participou nesses crimes de guerra em conjunto com os vassalos de Washington, europeus, canadenses e australianos, pelo que todos são culpados de crimes de guerra. Talvez a própria ONU devesse ser levada ao Tribunal de Crimes de Guerra juntamente com a UE, EUA, Austrália e Canadá.

Um bom recorde. A civilização ocidental, se é que isto é civilização, é a maior autora de crimes de guerra na história humana.

E há outros crimes – a Somália, e os golpes de Obama contra as Honduras e a Ucrânia, bem como as tentativas em curso, a partir de Washington, para derrubar os governos da Venezuela, Equador e Bolívia. Washington quer derrubar o Equador para capturar e torturar Julian Assange, um dos mais importantes democratas do mundo.

Tais crimes de guerra cometidos por quatro presidentes norte-americanos causaram milhões de mortos e feridos civis e desalojaram e deslocaram milhões de pessoas que agora chegam como refugiados à Europa, Reino Unido, EUA, Canadá e Austrália, trazendo os seus problemas com eles, alguns dos quais acabam por se tornar num imbróglio para os europeus, como as violações por gangues.

Qual é a razão de tanta morte e destruição, do crescente fluxo de refugiados para o Ocidente, e da violência sem disfarces do próprio Ocidente? Não sabemos. Dizem-nos mentiras: as “armas de destruição em massa” de Saddam Hussein, que o governo dos EUA dizia ser um facto inquestionável, não existiam. “O uso de armas químicas por Assad”, uma mentira óbvia e flagrante. “Armas nucleares iranianas”, outra mentira flagrante. As mentiras sobre Gaddafi na Líbia são tão absurdas que é inútil repeti-las.

Quais foram as mentiras usadas para justificar bombardeamentos a tribos no Paquistão, para bombardear um novo governo no Iêmen? Nenhum americano sabe ou se importa. Porquê a violência dos EUA contra a Somália? Mais uma vez, nenhum americano sabe ou se importa.

Ou os idiotas viram um filme.

Violência em seu próprio benefício. É nisso que os Estados Unidos se tornaram.

Na verdade, a violência é o que é a América. Não há mais nada lá. A violência é o coração da América.

E deve ter-se em conta não apenas os bombardeamentos e a destruição de países, mas também a interminável violência gratuita e ultrajante da polícia contra cidadãos norte-americanos. Se alguém deve ser desarmado, é a polícia dos EUA. A polícia comete mais “violência armada” do que qualquer outra pessoa, e ao contrário dos gangues de traficantes que lutam uns contra os outros por território, a violência policial não tem outra razão senão o gosto de cometer violência contra outros seres humanos. A polícia americana até já disparou contra crianças americanas de 12 anos de idade, sem fazer previamente qualquer pergunta, e fá-lo especialmente se eles forem negros.

A violência é a América. A América é violência. Os liberais imbecis culpam os donos de armas, mas é continuamente o governo que é a fonte da violência. Essa é a razão pela qual os nossos Fundadores nos deram a Segunda Emenda. Não foram os proprietários de armas que destruíram, no todo ou em parte, oito países. É o governo armado dos EUA que, à custa dos impostos dos contribuintes americanos, comete a violência.

A ânsia da América por violência está a virar agora os idiotas de Washington contra povos que podem ripostar também com violência: os russos e chineses, o Irão e a Coreia do Norte.

Image result for bill clinton

Desde o idiota do Clinton, todos os governos dos EUA quebraram ou retiraram-se dos acordos com a Rússia, acordos que foram feitos a fim de reduzir as tensões e o risco de uma guerra termonuclear. Washington, inicialmente, tentou disfarçar os seus passos agressivos contra a Rússia com mentiras, como quando disse que os silos de mísseis ABM na fronteira da Rússia estão lá para proteger a Europa dos (não-existentes) misseis intercontinentais nucleares iranianos.

O governo de Obama ainda disse mais mentiras, mas optou por intensificar acusações falsas contra a Rússia e o presidente da Rússia, a fim de fomentar tensões entre as duas potências nucleares, a antítese da política de Ronald Reagan. Contudo, os liberais imbecis amam Obama e odeiam Reagan.

Related imageSabia que a Rússia é tão poderosa, e a NSA e a CIA tão fracas e impotentes, que a Rússia pode determinar o resultado das eleições nos EUA? Você deve saber disso e acreditar nisso, porque foi isso que ouviu do Partido Democrata, da CIA, do FBI, dos média americanos prostituídos e dos idiotas que ouvem a CNN, MSNBC, NPR ou leem o New York Times e o Washington Post.

Certamente já ouviu dizer, pelo menos mil vezes, que a Rússia invadiu a Ucrânia; contudo o fantoche de Washington ainda senta-se em Kiev. Não é preciso ter um QI acima de 90 para entender que se a Rússia tivesse invadido a Ucrânia, ele já não estaria lá.

Você sabia que o presidente da Rússia, que as pesquisas mundiais mostram que é internamente o líder mais respeitado do mundo, é, de acordo com Hillary Clinton, “o novo Hitler”?

Você sabia que o líder mais respeitado do mundo, Vladimir Putin, é um chefe mafioso, um bandido, uma tarântula no centro de uma rede de espionagem, de acordo com os membros do governo dos EUA, que são tão estúpidos que nem sequer sabem soletrar os seus próprios nomes?

Sabia que Putin, que se absteve de responder agressivamente às provocações norte-americanas, não por medo, mas por respeito à vida humana, diz-se que está decidido a reconstruir o Império Soviético? No entanto, quando Putin enviou uma força russa contra o exército da Geórgia – armado e treinado pelos EUA e por Israel para atacar a Ossétia do Sul -, o exército russo conquistou a Geórgia em cinco horas; mas retirou-se depois de dar aos demónios uma lição. Se Putin quisesse reconstruir o Império Russo, por que não se manteve na Geórgia, uma província russa durante 300 anos, até à dissolução, por Washington, do Império Russo quando a União Soviética entrou em colapso? Washington seria impotente para fazer fosse o que fosse se Putin tivesse declarado que a Geórgia passaria a ser novamente parte da Rússia.

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E agora temos o embaraço do diretor da CIA de Trump, Mike Pompeo, talvez a pessoa mais estúpida da América. Aqui temos um idiota do mais alto grau. Eu não tenho a certeza se por lá há algum QI. Possivelmente há zero.

Este idiota, se é que ele tem nível suficiente para o qualificarmos como tal, o que eu duvido, acusou Julian Assange, o Primeiro jornalista do mundo, a pessoa que mais do que ninguém representa a Primeira Emenda da Constituição dos EUA, de ser um demónio que se alinha com ditadores e põe em perigo a Segurança da hegemonia americana, com a ajuda da Rússia. Tudo porque o Wilileaks publica material de fontes oficiais, revelando o comportamento criminoso do governo dos EUA. O Wikileaks não rouba os documentos. Os documentos são entregues ao Wikileaks por denunciantes que não podem tolerar a imoralidade e as mentiras do governo dos EUA.

Todos os que dizem a verdade são, por definição, contra os Estados Unidos da América. E o idiota Pompeo pretende capturá-los.

Quando li pela primeira vez a acusação de Pompeo contra Assange, pensei que devia ser uma piada. O diretor da CIA quer revogar a Primeira Emenda da Constituição americana. Mas o idiota do Pompeo realmente afirmou isso mesmo. (Ver aqui).

O que devemos fazer, o que é que o mundo deve fazer, quando temos idiotas completos como Diretores da Agência Central de Inteligência, como Presidentes dos EUA, como Assessores de Segurança Nacional, como Secretários de Defesa, como Secretários de Estado, como Embaixadores dos EUA Para a ONU, como editores do New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, MSNBC? Como pode haver alguma inteligência quando só há idiotas a mandar?

Quem estúpido é como tal se porta. O governo chinês disse que os americanos idiotas poderiam atacar a Coreia do Norte a qualquer momento. Uma grande frota dos EU está a dirigir-se para a Coreia do Norte. A Coreia do Norte, aparentemente, agora tem armas nucleares. Uma arma nuclear norte-coreana pode destruir a totalidade da frota americana. Porque será que Washington está a tentar provocar a esse desfecho? A única resposta possível é a estupidez idiota.

A Coreia do Norte não está a incomodar ninguém. Porque está Washington a escolher a Coreia do Norte? Washington quer guerra com a China? Em qual caso, Washington estará conluiada com a costa oeste dos EUA? Por que razão a Costa Oeste iria apoiar políticas que implicam o fim da Costa Oeste dos EUA? Será que os idiotas da costa oeste pensam que os EUA podem iniciar uma guerra com a China ou a Coreia do Norte sem qualquer consequência para a Costa Oeste? Serão os americanos assim tão profundamente estúpidos?

A China ou a Rússia podem individualmente acabar com os EUA. Juntos, podem tornar a América do Norte inabitável até o fim dos tempos. Porque será que os idiotas de Washington estão a provocar poderosas potências nucleares? Será que os idiotas de Washington pensam que a Rússia e a China se submeterão a ameaças?

A resposta é: Washington não passa de uma coleção de idiotas, pessoas estúpidas abaixo do significado de estúpido. Pessoas tão distantes da realidade que imaginam que o seu excessivo orgulho e arrogância os eleva acima da própria realidade.

Quando o primeiro Satan 2 chegar a Washington, a maior chusma de idiotas do mundo deixará de existir.

O mundo vai respirar um grande suspiro de alívio.

Pode vir! Força, idiotas, autoeliminem-se! Nós, os outros, não podemos esperar mais.

Paul Craig Roberts

 

Artigo original: A Government of Morons and War Criminals

Tradução : Júlio Gomes (Docente na Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal, atualmente reformado.)

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Throughout human history, private debt has been used by the dominant classes to subjugate, despoil, expropriate, and dispossess the toiling classes (among whom women have always been the hardest-hit victims): small farmers, artisans, fishers, and on up to the salaried workers of today and the members of their households (students, who go into debt to pursue their education) |1|.

The process is simple: the lender requires that borrowers pledge their possessions as collateral. This can be, for example, the land held and cultivated by the farmer, or in the case of an artisan, the tools of his or her trade. Repayment of the loan must be made in cash or in kind. Since the interest rates are high, to repay the loan the borrower must transfer a large share of the fruits of his or her labour to the lender, and so becomes impoverished. If the borrower defaults on repayment, the borrower is dispossessed of the pledged collateral. In some societies, that can mean a loss of freedom for the debtor and/or the members of his or her family. This is called debt slavery. Under the laws of the United States and certain European countries, failure to repay a debt was punishable by physical mutilation until the early 19th century. And still today, in Europe and elsewhere, non-repayment of debts may be punishable by imprisonment.

Private debt through the ages

Since time immemorial, private debt has played a central role in social relations. The struggle between rich and poor, between exploiter and exploited, has very often taken the form of a conflict between creditors and debtors. With remarkable regularity, popular insurrections have begun in the same way: with the ritual destruction of documents concerning debt (tablets, papyrus, parchments, account books, tax registers, etc.).

The new international crisis that began in 2007 has exposed the fraudulent behaviour of banks. Following the massive number of evictions of people from their homes in the USA, in Spain and elsewhere, more and more, debts are being called into question in countries where the obligation to repay a debt has been hitherto unchallenged. Since 2012, Ada Colau, who was elected Mayor of Barcelona in 2015, has organized widespread popular support by participating actively in the Mortgage Victims Platform against banks who evict families unable to continue repaying. Only a few years ago, it would have been unimaginable for anybody having organized illegal occupations of banks to be elected to high office. All over the world, social movements are challenging the repayment of illegitimate private debts, whether mortgage or student debts and whether owed to big private banks or to micro-credit agencies.

What follows is the broad outlines of a few historic stages in the “private debt system” in the Near East, in Europe and in parts of the world conquered by the European powers. What has happened in Asia, Africa, and the pre-colonial Americas will need to be added later; but the picture we paint here is already a very eloquent one.

General debt cancellations took place periodically over a thousand years in Mesopotamia

When harvests were poor, peasants unable to repay debts they had contracted with the State (unpaid in-kind taxes or tributes) or with highly-placed civil servants and dignitaries of the regime were regularly dispossessed of their lands and forced to become indentured. Their family members were also reduced to slavery.

To suppress discontent, the power in place periodically cancelled private debts |2| and restored peasants’ rights. The cancellations were the occasion for festivities during which the clay tablets on which the debts were inscribed were destroyed.

 El Código de Hammurabi se encuentra en el museo del Louvre, París.


Hammurabi’s code

There were some thirty general cancellations of private debt in Mesopotamia between 2400 and 1400 BCE. |3| One of these cancellation decrees provided that official creditors and tax collectors who had evicted peasants must compensate them. If a creditor had taken possession of property by coercion, he had to return it and/or totally reimburse it, failing which he was put to death.

After 1400 BCE, no further debt cancellations are known of in Mesopotamia. Inequalities strengthened and increased greatly. Land was confiscated by large private landholders, and debt slavery was institutionalized. However, we have proof that during the following centuries there were violent social struggles between creditors and debtors.

In Egypt from the 8th century BCE, there were proclamations cancelling debt and liberating those in debt slavery. The Pharaoh’s fundamental motivations were the need for a peasantry capable of producing enough food and available as soldiers for the military campaigns. For those two reasons, creditors could not be allowed to evict peasants from their land.

In another part of the region, Assyrian emperors of the first millennium BCE adopted the tradition of debt cancellation. The same was true in Jerusalem in the 5thcentury BCE. As proof, in 432 BCE, Nehemiah, certainly influenced by the old Mesopotamian tradition, proclaimed the cancellation of debts contracted by Jews from their rich compatriots. It was at that time that the Torah |4| was completed. The tradition of generalized debt cancellations is part of the Jewish religion and of the first texts of Christianity: Deuteronomy proclaims the obligation to cancel debts every seven years, and Leviticus requires the same at each jubilee, or every 50 years. |5|

For centuries, many commentators on the ancient texts, beginning with the religious authorities, who defend the interests of the ruling classes have affirmed that these provisions had only a moral value, or were simply idealism. Yet historical research over the past two centuries demonstrates that these provisions corresponded to actual practice. |6|

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TRosette’s stone confirms the tradition of debt cancellations

Once the privileged classes had succeeded in imposing their interests, the cancellations no longer took place, but the tradition of debt cancellation remained in the founding texts of Judaism and Christianity. Struggles for cancellation of private debt reappeared regularly throughout the history of the Near East and the Mediterranean up until the middle of the first millennium CE.

In the “Our Father,” the best-known prayer of Jesus, instead of the current translation “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” the original Greek text in the Gospel of Matthew (Ch. 6, verse 12) reads: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” As a matter of fact, in German and Dutch, the word Schuld means both “sin” and “debt.” Alleluia, an expression of joy used in the Jewish and Christian religions, comes from the language spoken in Babylon during the second millennium BCE and referred to the liberation of debt slaves. |7|

Greece. In Greece, beginning in the 6th century BCE, there were major struggles against debt slavery and for cancellation of private debt. Aristotle writes in the Athenian Constitution: “…the poorer classes, men, women, and children, were the serfs of the rich.” Social and political struggles developed and led to legal measures – Solon’s reforms in Athens, for example – prohibiting debt slavery. At Megara, a city near Athens, a radical faction came to power. Lending for interest was prohibited, and the measure was made retroactive; creditors were forced to reimburse interest that had already been paid. |8|

At the same time, the Greek city-states launched a policy of expansion, founding colonies from Crimea to Marseille, at times using the children of the indebted poor. Slavery developed strongly and in a more brutal and oppressive form than previously known in the societies of the Fertile Crescent.

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Map of cities and countries mentionned in the New Testament (in Greece, in Italia and Mesopotamia and in the Holy Land) – Edward Wells, 1700 (click to enlarge)

Rome. Many violent political and social struggles were caused by private-debt crises. Under primitive Roman law, a creditor could execute insolvent debtors. The late 4th century BCE was marked by a strong social reaction against indebtedness. Whereas slavery for debts was abolished for Roman citizens, the prohibition of usury was not applied for long. Major crises of private indebtedness occurred in the following centuries, both on the Italian peninsula and in the rest of the Roman Empire. The historian Tacitus wrote concerning a crisis of indebtedness that broke out in 33 CE, under the rule of Tiberius: “The curse of usury, it must be owned, is inveterate in Rome, a constant source of sedition and discord; and attempts were accordingly made to repress it even in an older and less corrupt society.” |9|

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Solon

Feudalism. At the start of the feudal era, many free producers were subjugated, since peasants were unable to repay their debts. That was the case during the reign of Charlemagne in the late 8th and early 9th century. |10|

The Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions and usury

From its origin, the Muslim religion prohibited loans with interest. Judaism prohibited it within the Jewish community, but under pressure from the wealthy amended that position during the first century CE and authorized loans with interest. |11| The Christian religion followed suit in the 15th century, and the Protestant and Catholic authorities even ended up promoting loans with interest.

In Europe, the problem of private debt was exacerbated in the late Middle Ages

Because of the monetisation of relations that began in the 13th to 14th centuries the problems of private debt were exacerbated. This meant that forced labour and taxes that had been paid in kind were gradually demanded in sums of money. Consequently, peasants, artisans, etc. were forced to go into debt to pay the taxes. More and more peasants, artisans and labourers, unable to repay their debts, had their property seized, were dispossessed and/or imprisoned, and many were mutilated. |12|

In 1339, at Siena (Italy), indebtedness reached such a point that the municipal government announced to the council that imprisonment for debt had to be abolished, failing which nearly all the citizens would have to be put in prison. Sixteen years later, in 1355, the people of Siena revolted, setting fire to the records room in the municipal palace that housed the account books. They wanted to erase all traces of the debts whose repayment was demanded of them and which they considered odious. |13|

Another sign of the importance of the rejection of exploitation through debt: at the end of the 14th century, when the labouring classes momentarily took power in Florence, led by the Ciompi – day-labourers in the textile industry –, their demands included eliminating the amputation of a hand as punishment for non-payment of debts and a moratorium on unpaid debts. |14| They also demanded representation in the government and higher taxes on the wealthy. Similar events took place during the same period in Flanders, Wallonia, France, England, and elsewhere.

Rejection of debt was at the heart of the massive peasant insurrections in the Germanic world in the 15th and 16th centuries

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Thomas Münzer

Between 1470 and 1525, a multitude of peasant uprisings, from Alsace to Austria and including the majority of the regions of Germany, Bohemia, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia, were prompted in large measure by the indebtedness of peasants and city dwellers of the dominated classes. Hundreds of thousands of peasants took up weapons, destroying hundreds of mansions and dozens of monasteries and convents. The repression left over 100,000 peasants dead. |15| During one of the rebellions, in 1493, one of the peasants’ demands was a jubilee year during which all debts would be abolished. |16| Thomas Münzer, one of the leaders of the peasant uprisings, beheaded in 1525 at the age of 28, called for full application of the Gospels, and in particular the exhortation to forgive debts. In this he was in opposition to Martin Luther, who at first – in 1519-1520 – denounced usury and the sale of indulgences by the Catholic church but by 1524 was defending lending for interest and demanding that peasants and all indebted persons repay their debts.

In opposition to the peasant uprisings, Luther called for “a strict, hard temporal government that will compel and constrain the wicked (…) to return what they borrow…”. |17| “Let no one think that the world can be ruled without blood; the sword of the ruler must be red and bloody; for the world will and must be evil, and the sword is God’s rod and vengeance upon it.” |18| In the conflict between peasants and other components of the popular classes (in particular the untitled town dwellers and the most destitute strata – vagabonds, beggars, etc.) on one side and the local ruling classes on the other, Luther had chosen his camp, proclaiming that the laws of the Old Testament, including the jubilee year, were no longer applicable. According to Luther, the Gospel simply describes ideal behaviour. In real life, he maintained, debts must always be repaid.

An anonymous text that circulated in Germany beginning in 1521 included the following dialogue between a peasant and a wealthy burgher which well describes how indebtedness is used to dispossess toilers of their tools or land:

Peasant: What brings me to you? Why, I would like to see how you spend your time.

Burgher: How should I spend my time? I sit here counting my money, can’t you see? 

Peasant: Tell me, burgher, who gave you so much money that you spend all your time counting it?

Burgher: You want to know who gave me my money? I shall tell you. A peasant comes knocking at my door and asks me to lend him ten or twenty gulden. I inquire of him whether he owns a plot of good pasture land or a nice field for plowing.

He says: ‘Yes, burgher, I have a good meadow and a fine field, worth a hundred gulden the two of them.’

I reply: ‘Excellent! Pledge your meadow and your field as collateral, and if you will undertake to pay one gulden a year as interest, you can have your loan of twenty gulden.’ Happy to hear the good news,

the peasant replies: ‘I gladly give you my pledge.’

‘But I must tell you,’ I rejoin, ‘that if ever you fail to pay your interest on time, I will take possession of your land and make it my property.’

And this does not worry the peasant; he proceeds to assign his pasture and field to me as his pledge. I lend him the money and he pays interest punctually for one year or two; then comes a bad harvest and soon he is behind in his payment. I confiscate his land, evict him, and meadow and field are mine. And I do this not only with peasants but with artisans as well. |19|

What we have here, summed up in very simple words, is the process of dispossession peasants and artisans in Germany and elsewhere tried to oppose.

The conquest of the Americas and the imposition of debt peonage

At the time of the conquest of the Americas, the imposition of European domination went hand in hand with subjugation of the native people through debt. |20| The form used: peonage. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “peonage” as follows: “In Mexico, the condition of a peon serf, servitude for debt […] a debtor held in servitude by his creditor till his debts are worked off.” Peonage is the system under which peons are bound to servitude on the land by various means, including hereditary debt. Peonage was not abolished in Mexico until the first decade of the 20th century, during the revolution.

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Peon workers in Rascon region, Mexico (undated)

***

Translated by Snake Arbusto and Mike krolikowski

Thanks: The author wishes to thank the following for their review of the text and for their suggestions: Snake Arbusto, Sushovan Dhar, Pierre Gottiniaux, Damien Millet, Christine Pagnoulle, Isabelle Ponet and Claude Quémar.
The author is solely and entirely responsible for any errors or omissions contained therein.

***

Notes

|1| The author wishes to make it clear that he is not denouncing private debt in all circumstances. The present article concentrates on private debt used as means of expropriation and dispossession.

|2| During that period, the State itself did not borrow. That was also true in ancient Egypt and Greece. Rome borrowed only in very exceptional cases. In Europe, States did not begin borrowing systematically until the 13thand 14th centuries. They have not stopped since.

|3| Michael Hudson, The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations, 1993, 87 pages; “The Archaeology of Money”, 2004. See also: David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Melville House, New York, 2011, 542 p.; available at https://libcom.org/files/__Debt__Th…. See by Éric Toussaint: “The Long Tradition of Debt Cancellation in Mesopotamia and Egypt from 3000 to 1000 BC”, http://www.cadtm.org/The-Long-Tradi…

|4| The Torah (Jewish religious law) is the compilation of the texts that make up the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

|5| See Isabelle Ponet, “Debt cancellation in the land of Canaan in the first millennium BC”, http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-cancellat…. In Leviticus, we find not only the requirement of debt forgiveness, but also of freeing debt slaves and their entire families and returning their fields and house. But that applied only to the community of Israel and not to other peoples.

|6| Michael Hudson, The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations, 1993, 87 pages; “The Archaeology of Money”, 2004.

|7| Michael Hudson, The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations, p. 27.

|8| See David Graeber, op. cit.

|9| Tacitus, Annals, 6.16.1, cited by Andreau, “Personal indebtedness and debt forgiveness in the Roman empire,” http://www.cadtm.org/Personal-endeb…

|10| See Karl Marx, Capital, Book 3, Chapter 19, Remarks on pre-capitalist usury. See also Ernest Mandel, Marxist Economic Theory, vol. 1, Chapter 4, the passage entitled “Usury capital.”

|11| Rabbi Hillel had decreed that Jews must add a clause to contracts they entered into renouncing application of Torah and Talmud, which provide for periodic cancellation of debts. The Jewish religion also permitted loans for interest if made to non-Jews.

|12| Silvia Federici, in her book Caliban and the Witch, shows how this movement affected proletarian women even more seriously. See Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, Autonomedia, Brooklyn, NY, 2004, 288 p.

|13| Patrick Boucheron, Conjurer la peur, Seuil, Paris, 2013, pp. 213-215 (in French).

|14| See Silvia Federici, op. cit., p. 45. See also Patrick Boucheron, p. 189.

|15| See Friedrich Engels (1850), The Peasant War in Germany, https://www.marxists.org/archive/ma…. See also David Graeber, op. cit., pp. 390-395.

|16| Friedrich Engels (1850), The Peasant War in Germany, Chapter 3

|17| Martin Luther (1524) “On Trading and Usury”, http://www.lutherdansk.dk/Martin%20…

|18| Martin Luther (1524), op. cit.

|19| Cited by Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch, p. 125, after G. Strauss (ed.), Manifestations of Discontent on the Eve of the Reformation, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1971, pp. 110-111)

|20| Pope Nicholas V, in January 1455, had authorized the perpetual subjugation of populations considered “enemies of Christ.” Among other things, that enabled the enslavement of Africans during that period (in particular on the plantations created by the Portuguese in Madeira), and subsequently authorized the European conquistadors to do likewise in the New World. Here is an excerpt from the bull Romanus Pontifex: “We [therefore] weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso – to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit…” (emphasis added by the author)
Also, as David Graeber describes, the conquistadors, including Hernán Cortés, had gone deeply into debt to finance their operations. As a result they exploited and despoiled the conquered populations all the more brutally in order to repay their own debts. See David Graeber, op. cit., p. 315 and following.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the author of Bankocracy(2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here), etc. See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. Since the 4th April 2015 he is the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt.

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The novelist Anthony Powell spoke of old age as penalisation for a crime one had not committed. Obviously, not being biblically inclined in that sense, the antics of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were discounted.  

Through the histories on the subject of aging, mythologies have accumulated as eager moss crossing moist rock.  These have assumed something of a pop status, with prime ministers showering the long-aged character with certificates and awards, deeming old age a matter of state-wide celebration. Simple facts of nature and biology, this goes to show, can be moralised and sanctified.

The suggestion from the late Emma Morano, who recently passed at a venerable 117 years, being, supposedly, the only confirmed and recorded centurion remaining from 1899, was one of humble egg consumption. The diet was simple, though eventually, losing one’s teeth helped to move one away from more complex solids.

Morano’s death caused the usual springs to come into play: diet was discussed; forms of lifestyle were considered; anti-aging mechanisms were poured over and devoured. The modern class of wizardry – nutritionists – were eager to make their views felt. The life-style blogosphere lit up with starry-eyed wonder.

With each year of her birthday for a good stretch, Morano would be asked the same questions by harrying journalists and researchers who had converted her into an object of research and good copy. These would be relayed with bovine loyalty to consumers eager to clean out their fridges and cupboards for the next novel diet.

Even with that regularity, the number of eggs consumed in this lack lustre diet would either change, or be misreported (sometimes three, sometimes two). Last year, The Independent noted, after Morano had been declared by the Guinness World Records as the oldest person in the world, that her diet comprised “two eggs a day, and that’s it. And cookies. But I do not eat much because I have no teeth.”

When consulted about matters of his patient’s diet, Dr. Carlo Bava explained that Morano stayed away from meat after being told it was carcinogenic. But nor did Morano exactly excel in the vegetables and fruit department, consuming little of neither.

“When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morning and an omelette at noon, and chicken at dinner.”[1]

Raging over the carcinogenic properties of meat remains the staple of food research. Invective is as frequent as scientific rigour. Red meat tends to fare highly in this nutritional demonology, most notably if the targeting organisation is the World Health Organisation.[2]  Processed food tends to get a pummeling, with the meat variants placed under the group 1 carcinogen category.

The slotting of various processed foods into the same onerously dangerous category as tobacco raised eyebrows, prompting Sarah Zhang to consider going through WHO categories as “a little dangerous to your mental health” not to mention plain confusing.[3]

To each his or her own dedicated and delicious poison. For the venerable Alabaman Sussanah Mushatt Jones, keeping away from cigarettes and drinks in good puritanical fashion, coupled with daily bacon rations, did the trick.  (So much for that canard on bacon being bad for you, despite the suggestion that eating two slices a day could increase your relative risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.)

Jones further insisted that, for all the munchies, “love and positive energy” were vital.[4] Like an aged horse race, media outlets were noting how Morano had just inched out Jones by a whisker to take the record.

The cult of old age and longevity remains a fascination for societies who tend not to see death as necessarily inevitable. On the website of “Tomorrowoman”, a piece from March 2015 ventures into the usual clickbait territory: “Meet Some Of the Oldest Women In The World – You Won’t Believe Their Secret to Living Longer!”[5]

Morano heads that list with monarchical appeal, and the post by a certain Danielle takes aim at the opposition about having that desperate, biological need for a “hot date” or male company. The secret for Morano, then 115 years, was consuming those three eggs on a daily basis “and avoiding men!… According to Morano, living a husband/boyfriend-free life is the secret to living longer.”

Such posts tend to be short on detail, but Time Magazine was happy to reveal that Morano had been married, but kicked out her husband after the death of her infant son in 1938.[6] La Stampa noted a marriage of considerable turmoil, while the New York Times detailed a proud figure who “didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.”[7]

The no-men thesis was also advanced regarding the good health of Jessie Gallan, who also passed the century mark and felt that men are “more trouble than they’re worth”.[8]  That scheme of macho and masculine avoidance was also coupled with a diet of porridge, again a matter of routine and diligence.

Naturally, the body of work in such a field suggests more individuality than cookie-cutter predictability.  Married couples do also suggest that death can be defied for some time, though this, as with everything else, is a point of conjecture. How little, then, is life susceptible to actual categorisation and the packaging of modern health directives.

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

Notes

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/worlds-oldest-person-secrets-to-a-long-life-italy-emma-moreno-a7390441.html

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/26/hot-dogs-bacon-and-other-processed-meats-cause-cancer-world-health-organization-declares/

[3] https://www.wired.com/2015/10/who-does-bacon-cause-cancer-sort-of-but-not-really/

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/worlds-oldest-person-sussanah-mushatt-jones-dies-age-116-a7027441.html

[5] http://www.tomorrowoman.com/wellness/living-longer/

[6] http://time.com/4584886/emma-morano-117-birthday-worlds-oldest-person/

[7] http://www.lastampa.it/2011/11/29/italia/cronache/i-miei-anni-di-storia-d-italia-purnE6hXLpLBAUv5TPxsiN/pagina.html

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2912299/Scotland-s-oldest-woman-Jessie-Gallan-reveals-longevity-secrets-including-eating-porridge-avoiding-men.html

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NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims

April 19th, 2017 by Robert Parry

In the old days of journalism, we were taught that there were almost always two sides to a story, if not more sides than that. Indeed, part of the professional challenge of journalism was to sort out conflicting facts on a complicated topic. Often we found that the initial impression of a story was wrong once we understood the more nuanced reality.

Today, however, particularly on foreign policy issues, the major U.S. news outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, apparently believe there is only one side to a story, the one espoused by the U.S. government or more generically the Establishment.

Any other interpretation of a set of facts gets dismissed as “fringe” or “fake news” even if there are obvious holes in the official story and a lack of verifiable proof to support the mainstream groupthink. Very quickly, alternative explanations are cast aside while ridicule is heaped on those who disagree.

So, for instance, The New York Times will no longer allow any doubt to creep in about its certainty that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad intentionally dropped a sarin bomb on the remote rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province in northern Syria on April 4.

A mocking article by the Times’ Jim Rutenberg on Monday displayed the Times’ rejection of any intellectual curiosity regarding the U.S. government’s claims that were cited by President Trump as justification for his April 6 missile strike against a Syrian military airbase. The attack killed several soldiers and nine civilians including four children, according to Syrian press reports.

Rutenberg traveled to Moscow with the clear intention of mocking the Russian news media for its “fake news” in contrast to The New York Times, which holds itself out as the world’s premier guardian of “the truth.” Rather than deal with the difficulty of assessing what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, which is controlled by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and where information therefore should be regarded as highly suspect, Rutenberg simply assessed that the conventional wisdom in the West must be correct.

To discredit any doubters, Rutenberg associated them with one of the wackier conspiracy theories of radio personality Alex Jones, another version of the Times’ recent troubling reliance on McCarthyistic logical fallacies, not only applying guilt by association but refuting reasonable skepticism by tying it to someone who in an entirely different context expressed unreasonable skepticism.

Rutenberg wrote:

“As soon as I turned on a television here I wondered if I had arrived through an alt-right wormhole. Back in the States, the prevailing notion in the news was that Mr. Assad had indeed been responsible for the chemical strike. There was some ‘reportage’ from sources like the conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones — best known for suggesting that the Sandy Hook school massacre was staged — that the chemical attack was a ‘false flag’ operation by terrorist rebel groups to goad the United States into attacking Mr. Assad. But that was a view from the [U.S.] fringe. Here in Russia, it was the dominant theme throughout the overwhelmingly state-controlled mainstream media.”

Ergo, in Rutenberg’s sophistry, the “prevailing notion in the [U.S.] news” must be accepted as true, regardless of the checkered history of such confidence in the past, i.e., the “prevailing notion” that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD in Iraq in 2003. Today, to shut down any serious evaluation of the latest WMD claims about Syria just say: “Alex Jones.”

Thus, any evidence that the April 4 incident might have been staged or might have resulted from an accidental release of Al Qaeda-controlled chemicals must be dismissed as something on par with believing the wildest of silly conspiracy theories. (Indeed, one of the reasons that I detest conspiracy theories is that they often reject hard evidence in favor of fanciful speculation, which then can be used, in exactly the way that Rutenberg did, to undermine serious efforts to sort through conflicting accounts and questionable evidence in other cases.)

Alternative Explanations

In the case of the April 4 incident, there were several alternative explanations that deserved serious attention, including the possibility that Al Qaeda had staged the event, possibly sacrificing innocent civilians in an attempt to trick President Trump into reversing his administration’s recent renunciation of the U.S. goal of “regime change” in Syria.

This notion is not as nutty as Rutenberg pretends. For instance, United Nations investigators received testimonies from Syrian eyewitnesses regarding another attempt by Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists and their “rescue” teams to stage a chlorine attack in the town of Al-Tamanah on the night of April 29-30, 2014, and then spread word of the bogus attack through social media.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the U.N. report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

The rebels and their allies also made preposterous claims about how they knew canisters of chlorine were contained in “barrel bombs,” by citing the supposedly distinctive sound such chlorine-infused bombs made.

The U.N. report said,

“The [rebel-connected] eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”

Of course, the statement could not be corroborated because it was crazy to believe that people could discern the presence of a chlorine canister inside a “barrel bomb” by its “distinct whistling sound.”

Still, the U.N. team demanded that the Syrian government provide flight records to support its denial that any of its aircraft were in the air in that vicinity at the time of the attack. The failure of the Syrian government to provide those records of flights that it said did not happen was then cited by the U.N. investigators as somehow evidence of Syrian guilt, another challenge to rationality, since it would be impossible to produce flight records for flights that didn’t happen.

Despite this evidence of a rebel fabrication – and the lack of a Syrian military purpose from using chlorine since it almost never kills anyone – the U.N. investigators succumbed to intense career pressure from the Western powers and accepted as true two other unverified rebel claims of chlorine attacks, leading the Western media to report as flat-fact that the Syrian government used chlorine bombs on civilians.

The Dubious Sarin Case

Besides the dubious chlorine cases – and the evidence of at least one attempted fabrication – there was the infamous sarin attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, when there was a similar rush to judgment blaming the Syrian government although later evidence, including the maximum range of the sarin-carrying missile, pointed to the more likely guilt of Al Qaeda-connected extremists sacrificing the lives of civilians to advance their jihadist cause.

In all these cases, the Times and other Western news outlets behaved as if there was only one acceptable side to the story, the one that the U.S. government was pushing, i.e., blaming the Syrian government. It didn’t matter how implausible the claims were or how unreliable the sources.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, 2013, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

In both the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin case and the current April 4, 2017 case, Western officials and media ignored the obvious motives for Al Qaeda to carry out a provocation, foist blame on the government and induce the U.S. to intervene on Al Qaeda’s side.

In August 2013, the Syrian government had just welcomed U.N. investigators who came to Damascus to investigate government allegations of rebels using chemical weapons against government troops. That the Syrian government would then conduct a poison-gas attack within miles of the hotel where the U.N. investigators were staying and thus divert their attention made no logical sense.

Similarly, in April 2017, the Syrian government was not only prevailing on the battlefield but had just received word that the Trump administration had reversed the U.S. policy demanding “regime change” in Damascus. So, the obvious motive to release chemical weapons was with Al Qaeda and its allies, not with the Syrian government.

Manufacturing a Motive

The West has struggled to explain why President Assad would pick that time – and a town of little military value – to drop a sarin bomb. The Times and other mainstream media have suggested that the answer lies in the barbarism and irrationality of Arabs. In that vaguely racist thinking, Assad was flaunting his impunity by dropping sarin in a victory celebration of sorts, even though the predicable consequence was a U.S. missile attack and Trump reversing again the U.S. policy to demand Assad’s ouster.

Photograph of men in Khan Sheikdoun in Syria, allegedly inside a crater where a sarin-gas bomb landed.

On April 11, five days after Trump’s decision to attack the Syrian airbase, Trump’s White House released a four-page “intelligence assessment” that offered another alleged motivation, Khan Sheikhoun’s supposed value as a staging area for a rebel offensive threatening government infrastructure. But that offensive had already been beaten back and the town was far from the frontlines.

In other words, there was no coherent motive for Assad to have dropped sarin on this remote town. There was, however, a very logical reason for Al Qaeda’s jihadists to stage a chemical attack and thus bring pressure on Assad’s government. (There’s also the possibility of an accidental release via a conventional government bombing of a rebel warehouse or from the rebels mishandling a chemical weapon – although some of the photographic evidence points more toward a staged event.)

But we’re not supposed to ask these questions – or doubt the “evidence” provided by Al Qaeda and its allies – because Alex Jones raised similar questions and Russian news outlets are reporting on this scenario, too.

There’s the additional problem with Rutenberg’s sophistry: Many of the April 4 sarin claims have been debunked by MIT national security and technology expert Theodore Postol, who has issued a series of reports shredding the claims from the White House’s “intelligence assessment.”

Another photo of the crater containing the alleged canister that supposedly disbursed sarin in Khan Sheikdoun, Syria, on April 4, 2017.

For instance, Postol cited the key photographs showing a supposed sarin canister crumpled inside a crater in a roadway. Postol noted that the canister appeared to be crushed, not exploded, and that the men in the photos inspecting the hole were not wearing protective gear that would have been required if there actually were sarin in the crater.

All of these anomalies and the problems with “evidence” generated by Al Qaeda and its allies should put the entire meme of the Syrian government using chemical weapons in doubt. But Rutenberg is not alone in treating this official groupthink as flat-fact.

Four Pinocchios

Washington Post “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler awarded “four Pinocchios” – reserved for the most egregious lies – to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice for asserting last January that the Syrian government had surrendered all its chemical weapons as part of a 2013 agreement.

Kessler declared:

“The reality is that there were confirmed chemical weapons attacks by Syria – and that U.S. and international officials had good evidence that Syria had not been completely forthcoming in its declaration [regarding its surrendered chemicals], and possibly retained sarin and VX nerve agent …. and that the Syrian government still attacked citizens with chemical weapons not covered by the 2013 agreement,” i.e., the chlorine cases.

But Kessler has no way of actually knowing what the truth is regarding Syria’s alleged chemical weapons use. He is simply repeating the propagandistic groupthink that has overwhelmed the Syrian crisis. Presumably he would have given four Pinocchios to anyone who had doubted the 2003 claims about Iraq hiding WMD because all the Important People “knew” that to be true at the time.

What neither Rutenberg nor Kessler seems willing or capable of addressing is the larger problem created by the U.S. government and its NATO allies investing heavily in information warfare or what is sometimes called “strategic communications,” claiming that they are defending themselves from Russian “active measures.” However, the impact of all these competing psychological operations is to trample reality.

The role of an honest press corps should be to apply skepticism to all official stories, not carry water for “our side” and reject anything coming from the “other side,” which is what The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the Western mainstream media have done, especially regarding Middle East policies and now the New Cold War with Russia.

The American people and other news consumers have a right to expect that the Western media will recall the old adage that there are almost always two sides to a story. There’s also the truism that truth often resides not at the surface but is hidden beneath.

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

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When I think about North Korea, what first comes to my mind is a mist over the calm and majestic surface of the Taedong River near Pyongyang. Next I always recall two lovers, locked in a tender and almost desperate embrace, sitting side by side on the shore. I saw them every day, while taking brisk walks at dawn. Now I don’t know for sure whether they were real or just a product of my fantasy; a sad and gentle reminder of all that has been already lost, as well as of all that should have happened but never really materialized. 

Currently, as Donald Trump’s “armada” is speeding towards China and DPRK, I keep recalling those moments: the cliff, the lovers and a lone fisherman with his long rod at the other side of the river. Everything in my memory connected to those dawns is now motionless, serene.

Sometimes I wonder whether words still have the power they once used to have. In the past, a beautiful poem, a confession, or a declaration of love, were capable of changing one’s entire life, and sometimes even the entire destiny of a nation. But is this still the case, in this time and age? As a writer I often feel futility, even despair. Still, as an internationalist, I refuse to succumb to pessimism, and I try to use words as my weapons, again and again.

The way the West portrays DPRK.

I have already said a lot about North Korea. I have shown images. I have spoken about the unimaginable pain this country has had to endure. I have spoken broadly about its tremendous gesture – of helping to liberate and then to educate so many parts of the world, including the enormous and devastated continent of Africa.

Still the propaganda against the people of DPRK rules.

Let me try again; let me try again and again and again:

North Korea is a beautiful country, inhabited by human beings, with blood circulating through their veins. Despite what you are directly and indirectly told, these people feel pain and they are capable of experiencing great joy. Like others, they often dream, fall in love, and suffer when being insulted or betrayed or abandoned. They laugh and cry, they hold hands, get angry, even desperate. They have great hopes for a better life and they work very hard trying to build their future.

*

So listen well, manager, or supervisor of what you yourself call the “free world”. Or how should I call you, President? Ok, fine, President… If you shoot your Tomahawk missiles at them, at DPRK, (as you recently did at Syria), or if you drop your bloody “Mother of All Bombs” on them (as you just did on some god-forsaken hamlet in Afghanistan, just in order to demonstrate your spite and destructive force), their bodies will be torn to pieces, people will die in tremendous agony; wives will be howling in despair burying their husbands, grandparents will be forced to cover the dead bodies of their tiny grand children with white sheets, entire neighborhoods and villages will cease to exist.

Metro Train Station

Of course you people do it everywhere; you think that you are the masters of the world, so used to spreading agony and desolation all over the world, but let me remind you one more time and put it on the record: it may all look like some fun-to-play computer game or a TV show, but it is not; it is all real, when your shit hits the targets, it’s damn real! I have seen plenty of it, and I have had really enough!

I know this is not what you have been told, and this is not what you tell the others.

North Koreans are supposed to look and behave like a nation of brainless robots, lacking all basic emotions and individuality, staring forward without seeing much, unable to feel pain, compassion or love.

You don’t want to see the truth, the reality, and you want others to be blind as well.

Even if you’ll blow the entire DPRK to pieces, you’ll actually not see much anyway, you’ll see almost nothing: just your own missiles shooting from battleships and submarines, your own airplanes taking-off from aircraft carriers, as well as some computer-generated images of powerful explosions. No pain, no reality, and no agony: nothing will get to you; nothing will reach you and your citizens.

A picture of a musician in North  Korea

It is you who is blind; it is not they.

You actually like it, don’t you? Admit you do. Let’s have it all in the open. And many citizens in the West like it as well – new titillating experiences, free ‘entertainment’, and a welcome break from the dire and empty, grey, loveless and meaningless routine of daily life in both North America and Europe. Hundreds of millions glued to their TV screens. Your popularity is going down, lately, isn’t it? The more missiles you shoot, the more bombs you drop, and the more countries you intimidate and confront, the broader your ‘support base’ gets.

Country road in North Korea

You are a businessman, after all. The trade, the deal is simple, easy to grasp: you give to the majority of your people what they desire, and they give you support and admiration. True, isn’t it, if stripped of all that ‘political correctness’.

The psychologist Jung called this culture ‘pathological’. It has already destroyed basically all continents on Earth. It is now, perhaps, attempting to finish what is left of the world.

Still, you ought to know and understand and should be fully aware of the following: you might now get some generous endorsement from your fellow mentally ill citizens, but if you blow up the DPRK or any other country on Earth, sky-high, and if we as the planet Earth still somehow manage to survive, you and your ‘culture’ will be cursed for centuries and millennia to come! Think about it. Is it really worth it?

Perhaps you don’t give a damn. Most likely you don’t. Still, give it a try, try to think, and try to imagine: you will go down in history as a degenerate mass murderer and a bigot!

*

Three years ago, this is how I described the 60th anniversary of the Victory Day in the DPRK:

“The brass band begins to play yet another military tune. I zoom on an old lady, her chest decorated with medals. As I get ready to press the shutter, two large tears begin rolling down her cheeks. And suddenly I realize that I cannot photograph her. I really cannot. Her face is all wrinkled, and yet it is both youthful and endlessly tender. Here is my face, I think, the face I was looking for all those days. And yet I cannot even press the shutter of my Leica. 

Then something squeezes my throat and I have to search in my equipment bag for some tissue, as my glasses get foggy, and for a short time I cannot see anything at all. I sob loudly, just once. Nobody can hear, because of the loud playing of the band. 

Later I get closer to her, and I bow, and she reciprocates. We make our separate peace in the middle of the boiling-hot main square. I am suddenly happy to be here. We have both lost something. She lost more. I was certain she lost at least half of her loved-ones in the carnage of those bygone years. I lost something too, and now I also lost all respect and belonging, to the culture that is still ruling the world; the culture that was once mine, but a culture that is still robbing people of their faces, and then burns their bodies with napalm and flames. 

It is the 60th Anniversary of Victory Day in the DPRK. An anniversary marked by tears, grey hair, tremendous fireworks, parades, and by the ‘memories of fire’. 

That evening, after returning to the capital, I finally made it to the river. It was covered by a gentle but impenetrable fog. There were two lovers sitting by the shore, motionless, in silent embrace. The woman’s hair was gently falling on her lover’s shoulder. He was holding her hand, reverently. I was going to lift my big professional camera, but then I stopped, abruptly, all of a sudden too afraid that what my eyes were seeing or my brain imagining, would not be reflected in the viewfinder.”

This is how I still remember the event.

DPRK Free Public Housing

The West has already killed millions of North Koreans. How many more have to vanish, just for not surrendering? What is the price of not agreeing to serve the Empire? Would it be one million more, or ten million? The number, please: you are a businessman; so do define the price truthfully!

*

The DPRK has never attacked anybody. The United States which claims it now ‘feels threatened’, has attacked dozens and dozens of countries, robbed millions of people of life, and raped freedom, democracy and cultures all over the world.

There is one image inside my head, which I want to share with all my readers, even if I will be risking that this time my writing will be bordering on sentimentality. I don’t give a fuck, for once; this is no time for ‘polished and elegant style’. So here it is:

At one point I managed to break free from our delegation. It was in the capital, Pyongyang. I just walked and walked, along the mighty river, through an enormous park alongside ancient fortifications.

I spotted a girl, tiny, with a big ribbon in her hair. She was wearing white shoes. It was sunset. Her mother, a simple but beautiful lady, was talking to her. It was so obvious how much she loved and cherished her daughter. The two of them could not see me; I was observing them from some distance. There was so much tenderness, so much serenity between these two human beings. The mother was caressing her daughter’s face, explaining something, pointing at the trees. Their faces were totally relaxed, no fear, no tension, just love.

I walked further, and still in the park, I saw a couple surrounded by a group of people. It was a family photo session. A man and a woman were obviously getting married; he was wearing a formal suit, she was dressed in a wedding gown. Then I noticed that large black sunglasses were hiding a large part of the man’s face. He was blind. Most likely, he was badly burned behind the dark spectacles. His future wife was younger, and she was attractive. She was happy! She kept chatting, laughing cheerfully. I was stunned. In the West, people have been betraying each other, abandoning one another over the tiniest inconveniences or doubts, for the most egotistic reasons. And here, a young attractive woman was joining, happily, her badly injured man, so they could walk together, side-by-side, for the rest of their life journey.

*

I saw a lot of North Korea after those few hours in the park. I was faced with the most fortified border on Earth. I met and discussed philosophy and how the West tries to de-humanize its enemies, with Yang Hyong Sob, the Vice President of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Committee. I discussed philosophy and existentialism with the great theologian and philosopher John Cobb, on board a bus that was taking us from Pyongyang to the borderline.

Borderline

There were ‘big moments’ during that trip, great celebrations all around me. There were elaborate performances and speeches, marches and music. Yet, nothing touched me so deeply as those moments in the park. There, I observed enormous tenderness given to a child by her mother.And I witnessed that natural and beautiful, simplicity and joy of love, mixed with serenity and dignity radiating from a young woman marrying her blind and injured partner.

That is North Korea, which I have been privileged enough to have observed with my own eyes. That is North Korea which the manager wants to ‘take care of’, which means ‘to destroy’. And that is North Korea where I realized, as on so many other occasions, in so many countries, that there is still so much love that resides on this Earth, and that no barbarity, no cruelty, would ever be able to defeat it.

One of the many theatres in Pyongyang

*

This essay is not my ‘usual stuff’. It is not a philosophy, or reportage. I don’t know what it is. I don’t care what it is. I just wanted to share something with my readers: something that is inside me right now, something that is breaking and shouting and rebelling against the state of things.

What I am certain of is that at this moment, I want to be there, in Pyongyang. I want to go back, although no one has invited me to return, yet.

Ramsey Clark Delegation, DPRK

If the supervisor, the manager, decides to attack, I want to be on my feet and alert and ready, facing his ships and missiles. Just like that, as always, without any cover or bulletproof vest, just with my cameras, and a pen and a simple notepad, as well as a tiny Asian dragon – a good luck charm – in my pocket.

I will not be afraid. I don’t think most of the people of North Korea would be afraid. Only those who are ready to commit mass murder, over and over again, in all corners of the world, are now most likely scared; at least subconsciously, at least in their own essence as well as of their own insanity.

*

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and  Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

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A Ukraine on the Verge of Disaster Benefits No One

April 19th, 2017 by Federico Pieraccini

In the past three months, the lines of contact between Ukraine and the forces in Donbass have seen an escalation of considerable tension. Both the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk have suffered violent attacks at the hands of Kiev’s military forces. Of course all these violations are in stark contrast to what was established in the Minsk II agreements, in particular as regards the use of certain weapons systems.

In addition to the military issues between Donbass and Ukraine, Kiev faces important internal struggle between oligarchs regarding economic issues. Symptomatic of this were the clashes in Avdeevka, then the attempts to capture the water filtration plant in Donetsk, and finally the blockade of coal transit from Donbass to Ukraine. All these have further deepened divisions between the components of the Ukrainian state’s power. The consequences of these events have led to greater instability in the country and decisive moves by the nationalist fringe alongside the Ukrainian SBU and other components of the military, who are the authors of the blockade of the railway lines between the Donbass and the rest of Ukraine. Intensifying the divisions within the country, the meeting between Tymoshenko and Trump has further increased tensions, with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman defining Timoshenko as the source of all problems, both economic as well are regarding corruption. Ukraine is politically divided, exacerbated by disputes between Poroshenko and Timoshenko, and these divisions are being exploited by foreign actors like Israel and Turkey, propping up the nationalist and banderist fringe within the National Guard battalion.

Image result for poroshenko timoshenko

External pressure is clearly exerted indirectly on the Poroshenko administration in order to force it to keep the extreme factions of the nationalist battalions under control. For his part, Trump, by meeting with Tymoshenko, has sent a clear signal that in the case of excessive chaos in Kiev, the succession of power has already been decided. In the same way, the IMF exerts pressure on Kiev, slowing down the funding necessary for Ukraine to survive.

The danger that Western planners see is at the same time simple and delicate. On the one hand, there is a need to avoid a failure of the Ukrainian state, and nearly $18 billion of IMF aid serves that purpose. On the other hand, the withholding of IMF funding is applied whenever there is a need to get something done by the government in Kiev. An example can be easily seen with the escalation in Avdeevka that indirectly led the IMF to reduce the overall aid package, with the justification being that corruption remains high in the country. The goal was actually to avoid a complete breakdown of the Minsk II agreements and put a halt to the Ukrainian operation on Avdeevka. Even in the meeting between Tymoshenko and Trump, the strong signal sent to Poroshenko was clear: stop the nationalists and their provocations or there will be consequences.

The subtle game that is being played in Ukraine sees many components involved, often with diverse objectives and methods. The nationalist component hardly responds to the oligarchs in Kiev and to the central authority. They are often the first to receive training and weapons from western colleagues serving in NATO. American and British instructors have for more than two years provided their services to this component in the country. The National Guard received the blessings of the neoconservative factions of American power, as confirmed by the presence of Lindsey Graham and John McCain in Ukraine a few months ago. In addition to support from the Atlantic networks and the local Ukrainian intelligence service (SBU), these battalions have Turkish support, which involves Islamic extremists in the National Guard. Moreover, they receive both political and economic support from infamous oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. Going straight to the problem, one can see that the National Guard, despite strong political and economic support is not able to deliver a decisive blow to the Donbass and inflict any significant damage, let alone organize an efficient offensive. The problem is therefore clear that the alliance between nationalists loyal to NATO/neocons, Turkish extremists, and Israeli oligarchs like Kolomoisky enable the nationalists to carry out provocations but not to organize a serious military offensive against well-fortified and organized positions of the Donbass republics. To attempt an offensive of this kind would at least need a real army that is well organized and motivated.

Ukraine is back to the usual problems that emerged in 2014 and now plague military planners in Kiev. The Ukrainian army, essential to achieving a real push towards Donbass, lacks the motivation needed to fight. These considerations were already clearly known three years ago at the beginning of the infamous anti-terrorist operation (ATO) Kiev carried out in the east of the country. Two years later, Donbass is much stronger. Thanks to a variety of military acquisitions from Russia, as well as targeted training and an important fortification of their defensive positions, Donbass now has a defensive capability that must be taken into account.

Image result for avdeevkaIn this situation, there are multiple dangers that can unfold for Kiev. Poroshenko must give the nationalists and international networks connected to them the ability to operate virtually without restrictions in Ukraine. He was put in power exactly for that purpose. When this does not happen, as seen in Avdeevka and with the water-supply center in Donetsk, where National Guard battalions had to pull back, there are consequences. In his sense, the National Guard blockade on Donbass is, other than being part of the usual provocations between oligarchs, an explicit message aimed at Kiev, causing considerable economic damage. No wonder Poroshenko sent the army to remove the blockade, which, unsurprisingly, did not actually change the situation.

The blockade actually obliged Kiev to buy coal from Russia, which was ironically left the only supplier. This fact was exploited by the same nationalists who created the blockade in the first place, blasting the Kiev government for buying coal from their enemy. In this mess, the Kiev government and Poroshenko should be aware of the consequences of excessive provocations against Donbass by the National Guard battalions. The ability of the Donbass to provide a firm response to any further aggression should be pondered by Kiev, even as tensions within Poroshenko’s inner circle continue to rise. The Ukrainian president is forced to support the nationalists and their rhetoric against “terrorists in the east” to ward off new Maidan.

At the same time, he needs to by all means avoid a military response from the two separatist republics. Kiev is aware that it does not possess the capacity to conquer the Donbass in terms of personnel and equipment, and is also aware that if the conflict got out of hand, with the complete collapse of the Minsk II agreements, the DPR and LPR would have the capability to extend their boundaries decidedly to the south, setting their sights on the Ukrainian coastline along the Black Sea.

Realistically, this scenario would be a nightmare for all the actors opposing the Donbass, especially for NATO and Poroshenko. Mariupol and Odessa appear to be the likely targets of a hypothetical new advance of the Donbass should the Minsk II agreements collapse. The Russian Federation and Donbass have made it amply clear that any new aggression from Ukraine will be met with a firm response. While this would not involve a direct attack on Kiev, it would establish a larger buffer zone that could include Mariupol and maybe even Odessa. This posture intends to create the necessary awareness in Kiev, and even in NATO, that it is not in their interests for an all-out war to be waged against Donbass.

The consequences of these actions call directly into question the NATO strategy in the Black Sea. The ultimate purpose of NATO is not to save Ukraine from a non-existent Russian threat but rather to put continuous pressure on the Russian Federation in every possible way. The objective is not even to reconquer Donbass, something that is also unfeasible for the military planners in Brussels, but the continuum of tension on Russia’s borders, occupying the attention of Moscow and continuously creating hotbeds of tension on its borders. In this regard, the Ukrainian access to the Black Sea is fundamental for NATO. The continued presence of NATO ships in the Black Sea to carry out joint exercises with Ukraine violates the Treaty of Montreux and is done to exert pressure on Russia from the sea. To bypass the Montreux convention and have a semi-permanent presence, the United States intends to donate a couple of ships to the Ukraine Navy in order to change the flag of the vessels, thus ensuring NATO’s legal permanent presence in the Black Sea without violating the Montreux Treaty. The port of Odessa is central in these calculations and it is of no particular surprise that in the event of a Novorossiya offensive following a Ukrainian attack, both Odessa and Mariupol would be difficult to defend for the Ukrainian army. Already in 2014, both Mariupol and Odessa had been calculated as possible targets of a wider strategy to liberate the cities from Kiev’s forces.

The bottom line is that the Kiev government is between two fires. On one side, the oligarchs battle each other, without regard for the life of Ukrainian citizens or the residents of Donbass, solely focused on enriching themselves. On the other side, the western components in Ukraine (known as neoconservatives) fan the flames of conflict with military trainers and equipment banned by the Minsk II agreements, providing them to the Azov battalion, the most extremist wing of the National Guard. At the same time, Germany, and especially Russia, is gravely concerned over a possibility of the Ukraine economy defaulting, and of what that could mean in terms a huge wave of migration towards both countries, a situation Berlin would struggle to digest after all the migration coming from the Middle East over the last two years.

A potential default of the Ukrainian economy, and resulting destruction of the country, overshadows any struggles between oligarchs, and even the battle against Donbass. Options for Putin, Trump and Merkel all seem to be on the table with economic (nationalization of industries in the Donbass, slowdown in lending by the IMF), political (Trump meets Tymoshenko, a rival of Poroshenko) and military pressure (strong Russian presence behind the two separatist republics) applied in every way to prevent an all-out war in Ukraine.

The main danger is now clear to everyone involved – to Russia, the Donbass, NATO and Kiev. A new war between Donbass and Ukrainian would result in the defeat of Ukrainian forces, with consequences for NATO, since Donbass would hardly stop outside Mariupol and would instead proceed to Odessa. Kiev has a very weak capacity to mobilize motivated forces ready to sacrifice their lives for what are deeply corrupt oligarchs. This situation would cause an internal dilemma for NATO as was the case in 2014. Would NATO deploy its forces alongside those of Kiev to defend the ports in question, especially Odessa? If doubts where high three years ago, hardly anything has changed in recent years. NATO will not rally to the Kiev’s side. And the reasons remain the same, namely the risk of a direct confrontation with Russian troops, although Trump’s recent actions in Syria have raised much concern in Moscow in relation to the Ukrainian situation. A war against Donbass could easily lead to a wider conflict between superpowers, something impractical for even the most hyped warmongers on the Atlantic sphere. Realistically, Donbass troops, after repulsing Ukrainian aggression, would go on the offensive, and enjoying clear superiority in the region, thanks to Russia as well as to a higher level of motivation, would probably make their way all the way up to Odessa, securing the entire coastline.

The consequences of such a defeat would lead to the collapse of the central authority in Kiev, to an open war between oligarchical factions, to an end of loans from the International Monetary Fund, condemnation from European and American politicians, and to a definitive collapse of the Ukrainian economy. This would spell the end of business for Poroshenko and other business oligarchs, both in Kiev and in the West. Again, no one is interested in seeing such a scenario coming to fruition.

It is also important not to underestimate the partial unwillingness of Moscow to support an open war on the offensive by the Donbass army, especially given the political and economic consequences that the West would visit on Moscow.

The economic assistance that the Donbass would require from Moscow is another important consideration and something that the Russian Federation would prefer to avoid. It should, however, be stressed that in the unlikely event that Ukraine does not hold at bay its eagerness to wage war in Donbass, Moscow would openly side in favor of the Donbass, and the consequences for Ukraine and NATO would be disastrous, as we have seen. There would be enormous concern in such a scenario from Moscow, and the Russian Federation would take every step to avoid such a scenario, but if things got worse, Putin would be ready to support the advance of Novorossiya up to Odessa in order to secure once and for all the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

All the provocateurs in Ukraine should be aware that playing the nationalist card can be dangerous and can even result in a defeat that, when compared to 2014-2015, would be dramatically worse, condemning Ukraine to an economic, social and political crisis without precedent or a way out. It literally could be the beginning of the disintegration of Ukraine as we know it today.

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Trump contradicted his speaker, the State Department and his allies by congratulating the Turkish President Erdogan for winning Sunday’s referendum vote. He undermined his diplomacy.

Sundays referendum in Turkey makes the presidential office a quasi dictatorial position that leads the executive and can, via decrees, also overrule the legislative and judiciary elements of the state. President Erdogan is now in a dictatorial position. It maybe that a majority of the Turkish voters voted for this change but it is far from certain. The number of votes in doubt because they were not taken in accordance with the legal procedures (2-3 million)  is higher than slight majority lead (1.5 million) for the “yes” side.

Official international election observers noted (pdf) that the vote was neither free nor fair. The Turkish state is under emergency rules which  give the president (temporarily) extraordinary powers. The vote happened after an extreme hunt against anyone that could have endangered Erdogan’s position. He jailed opposition politicians and civil servants, forbade some political groups and closed down opposition media. All state institutions were used in support for Erdogan’s side. If he could only win by 1.5 million votes in a 80 million strong society after this extreme anti-opposition campaign how many Turks would really have agreed with him on more leveled grounds?

Twenty years ago, when he was mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan said in a Milliyet interview:

“Democracy is like a tram ride: when you reach your stop, you get off”. On Sunday Erdogan stepped off the tram.

Turkey is now a Tyranny of the Majority. There are no longer any institutional constrains to remove any minority group from the political scene or  maybe even from the physical world. Turkey as we knew it is no more.

EU members refrained from accepting the vote before the ongoing legal fight over it is decided. Only Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf and Central Asian dictatorships congratulated him. The terrorist group Ahrar al Sham, which fights the people and government of Syria, also congratulated Erdogan. Al-Qaeda in Syria, under its new alliance name HTS, joined in as well as other Takfiri groups in Syria.

Like the EU countries the U.S. State Department held out on congratulations. It only released a statement that noted reports of voting “irregularities” and an “uneven playing field”. It voiced support for inner-Turkish dialog and legal processes. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the U.S. administration would wait until the final report by the international observers mission was released.

The State Department and the spokesman were quickly undermined by President Trump. Only an hour later the Turkish side reported of a Trump-Erdogan telephone conversation:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to congratulate him on the referendum victory.

The two leaders had a “pleasant” call which lasted for 45 minutes, diplomatic sources said.

This was later confirmed by a White House readout of the call. (The readout is not yet on the White House website but was sent out to the press via email).

The published content of the call does not bode well for Turkey, Syria and Iraq (emphasis added):

“President Trump and President Erdogan also discussed the counter-ISIS campaign and the need to cooperate against all groups that use terrorism to achieve their ends,” the White House statement said.

The Turkish version of the readout was worse:

The two leaders also discussed an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on April 4 that killed approximately 100 civilians and injured 500 others in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
..
Trump and Erdoğan agreed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack.

The U.S. president also thanked Turkey for its support for U.S. missile strikes on the Shayrat air base on April 7 in retaliation for the chemical attack.

Both leaders also stressed the need for cooperation in the fight against terror groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Khan Sheikhun incident was likely a “false flag” attack initiated by the terrorists on the ground -possibly with Turkish support. The proven number of casualties was far less than the statement claims. The only purpose of the following U.S. missile strikes was to dispel allegations that Trump is in cahoots with Russia.

A question now is who the two countries regard as terrorist groups. The mostly Shia Hizbullah fighting on the Syrian government side is seen as such by both even while it holds parliament positions in Lebanon. While the U.S. agreed to UN Security Council resolutions designating al-Qaeda in Syria as a terrorist group that must be “eradicated”, Erdogan is sponsoring and supporting the group. The U.S. is allying with parts of the Kurdish YPK/PKK groups in Syria while Turkey has designated those as terrorist entities. Does the “against all groups that use terrorism” formulation include the Iraqi militia in Syria? Does it include Iran?

What is most concerning is the fact that a 45 minute call is extremely long for such an occasion. We can be sure that plans were made in it that have not yet been published. It is likely that a new, higher level of war against Syrian (and Iran) was agreed upon. Besides the battlefields of Syria there is Turkish military interference in Iraq. Were common plans made for that country too?

Still one wonders why Trump would undermine his speaker, his State Department and his European allies by contradicting their statements and positions with his Erdogan call. A precedent was set.  Foreign countries can no longer rely on official U.S. administration statements unless Trump personally voices his agreement with them. (Which he may then retract and reverse on a moments notice.) The basis of diplomacy is a certain level of trust in reliability – words and standing by those words matter. The diplomatic standing of the United States was severely damaged by this unprecedented move.

The reversal of the original position of the Trump administration is extreme. From a realist standpoint a much more neutral position towards Erdogan’s shenanigans, as shown by the State Department, would be advisable.

Why did Trump reverse it? Has this five year old tweet something to do with it?

Ivanka Trump‏ @IvankaTrump
Thank you Prime Minister Erdogan for joining us yesterday to celebrate the launch of #TrumpTowers Istanbul!
1:56 PM – 20 Apr 2012

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Just How Bad Has The Police State in America Really Got?

April 19th, 2017 by John W. Whitehead

“Run for your life – The police state is coming to get you.”

“We’ve reached the point where state actors can penetrate rectums and vaginas, where judges can order forced catheterisations, and where police and medical personnel can perform scans, enemas and colonoscopies without the suspect’s consent…. These tactics are about degrading and humiliating a class of people that politicians and law enforcement have deemed the enemy.”— Radley Balko, The Washington Post.

April 19, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Daily, all across America, individuals who dare to resist—or even question—a police order are being subjected to all sorts of government-sanctioned abuse ranging from forced catheterization, forced blood draws, roadside strip searches and cavity searches, and other foul and debasing acts that degrade their bodily integrity and leave them bloodied and bruised.

Americans as young as 4 years old are being leg shackled, handcuffed, tasered and held at gun point for not being quiet, not being orderly and just being childlike—i.e., not being compliant enough.

Government social workers actually subjected a 3-year-old boy to a forced catheterisation after he was unable to provide them with a urine sample on demand (the boy still wasn’t potty trained). The boy was held down, screaming in pain, while nurses forcibly inserted a tube into his penis to drain his bladder—all of this done because the boy’s mother’s boyfriend had failed a urine analysis for drugs.

Americans as old as 95 are being beaten, shot and killed for questioning an order, hesitating in the face of a directive, and mistaking a policeman crashing through their door for a criminal breaking into their home—i.e., not being submissive enough.

Consider what happened to David Dao, the United Airlines passenger who was accosted by three police, forcibly wrenched from his seat across the armrest, bloodying his face in the process, and dragged down the aisle by the arms merely for refusing to relinquish his paid seat after the airline chose him randomly to be bumped from the flight—after being checked in and allowed to board—so that airline workers could make a connecting flight.

Francisco Serna was shot after police said he failed to respond to orders to stop approaching and remove his hands from his jacket. One of the seven officers who responded to the call, Reagan Selman, fired seven shots at Serna, who died at the scene.

Those with ADHD, autism, hearing impairments, dementia or some other disability that can hinder communication in the slightest way are in even greater danger of having their actions misconstrued by police. Police shot a 73-year-old-man with dementia seven times after he allegedly failed to respond to orders to stop approaching and remove his hands from his jacket. The man was unarmed and had been holding a crucifix.

Clearly, it no longer matters where you live.

Big city or small town: it’s the same scenario being played out over and over again in which government agents, hyped up on their own authority and the power of their uniform, ride roughshod over the citizenry who—in the eyes of the government—are viewed as having no rights.

Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—continue to be torn asunder by the prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, and forced inclusion in biometric databases are just a few ways in which Americans continue to be reminded that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

For instance, during a “routine” traffic stop for allegedly “rolling” through a stop sign, Charnesia Corley was thrown to the ground, stripped of her clothes, and forced to spread her legs while Texas police officers subjected her to a roadside cavity probe, all because they claimed to have smelled marijuana in her car.

Angel Dobbs and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley, were pulled over by a Texas state trooper for allegedly flicking cigarette butts out of the car window. Insisting that he smelled marijuana, the trooper proceeded to interrogate them and search the car. Despite the fact that both women denied smoking or possessing any marijuana, the police officer then called in a female trooper, who carried out a roadside cavity search, sticking her fingers into the older woman’s anus and vagina, then performing the same procedure on the younger woman, wearing the same pair of gloves. No marijuana was found.

Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic during a routine traffic stop, while her two children—ages 1 and 4—waited inside her car. During the second strip search, presumably in an effort to ferret out drugs, a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. Nothing illegal was found.

David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found.

Meanwhile, four Milwaukee police officers were charged with carrying out rectal searches of suspects on the street and in police district stations over the course of several years. One of the officers was accused of conducting searches of men’s anal and scrotal areas, often inserting his fingers into their rectums and leaving some of his victims with bleeding rectums.

These incidents—sanctioned by the courts and conveniently overlooked by the legislatures—teach Americans of every age and skin colour the painful lesson that there are no limits to what the government can do in its so-called “pursuit” of law and order.

If this is a war, then “we the people” are the enemy.

As Radley Balko notes in The Washington Post,

“When you’re at war, it’s important to dehumanize your enemy. And there’s nothing more dehumanizing than forcibly and painfully invading someone’s body — all the better if you can involve the sex organs.”

The message being beaten, shot, tasered, probed and slammed into our collective consciousness is simply this:

it doesn’t matter if you’re in the right, it doesn’t matter if a cop is in the wrong, it doesn’t matter if you’re being treated with less than the respect you deserve or the law demands.

The only thing that matters to the American police state is that you comply, submit, respect authority and generally obey without question whatever a government official (anyone who wears a government uniform, be it a police officer, social worker, petty bureaucrat or zoning official) tells you to do.

This is what happens when you allow the government to call the shots: it becomes a bully.

As history shows, this recipe for disaster works every time: take police officers hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge, throw in a few court rulings suggesting that security takes precedence over individual rights, set it against a backdrop of endless wars and militarized law enforcement, and then add to the mix a populace distracted by entertainment, out of touch with the workings of their government, and more inclined to let a few sorry souls suffer injustice than to challenge the status quo.

“It is not only under Nazi rule that police excesses are inimical to freedom,” warned former Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter in a 1946 ruling in Davis v. United States: “It is easy to make light of insistence on scrupulous regard for the safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.”

In other words, if it could happen in Nazi Germany, it can just as easily happen here.

It is happening here.

Instead of earning himself a simple trip to the principal’s office, a terrified 7-year-old boy was hauled out of class, handcuffed like a hardened criminal and “interrogated” by police for a gruelling 10 hours — all over a playground dispute involving $5

Unfortunately, we’ve been marching in lockstep with the police state for so long that we’ve forgotten how to march to the tune of our own revolutionary drummer. In fact, we’ve even forgotten the words to the tune.

We’ve learned the lessons of compliance too well.

For too long, “we the people” have allowed the government to ride roughshod over the Constitution, equating patriotism with blind obedience to the government’s dictates, no matter how unconstitutional or immoral those actions might be.

As historian Howard Zinn recognized:

Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience… Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem… people are obedient, all these herdlike people.

What can you do?

It’s simple but as I detail in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the consequences may be deadly.

Stop being so obedient. Stop being so compliant and herdlike. Stop kowtowing to anyone and everyone in uniform. Stop perpetuating the false notion that those who work for the government—the president, Congress, the courts, the military, the police—are in any way superior to the rest of the citizenry. Stop playing politics with your principles. Stop making excuses for the government’s growing list of human rights abuses and crimes. Stop turning a blind eye to the government’s corruption and wrongdoing and theft and murder. Stop tolerating ineptitude and incompetence by government workers. Stop allowing the government to treat you like a second-class citizen. Stop censoring what you say and do for fear that you might be labeled an extremist or worse, unpatriotic. Stop sitting silently on the sidelines while the police state kills, plunders and maims your fellow citizens.

Stop being a slave.

As anti-war activist Rosa Luxemburg concluded,

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

You may not realize it yet, but you are not free.

If you believe otherwise, it is only because you have made no real attempt to exercise your freedoms.

Had you attempted to exercise your freedoms before now by questioning a police officer’s authority, challenging an unjust tax or fine, protesting the government’s endless wars, defending your right to privacy against the intrusion of surveillance cameras, or any other effort that challenges the government’s power grabs and the generally lopsided status quo, you would have already learned the hard way that the police state has no appetite for freedom and it does not tolerate resistance.

This is called authoritarianism, a.k.a totalitarianism, a.k.a oppression.

As Glenn Greenwald notes for the Guardian:

“Oppression is designed to compel obedience and submission to authority. Those who voluntarily put themselves in that state – by believing that their institutions of authority are just and good and should be followed rather than subverted – render oppression redundant, unnecessary. Of course people who think and behave this way encounter no oppression. That’s their reward for good, submissive behavior. They are left alone by institutions of power because they comport with the desired behavior of complacency and obedience without further compulsion. But the fact that good, obedient citizens do not themselves perceive oppression does not mean that oppression does not exist.”

Get ready to stand your ground or run for your life, because the American police state is coming to get you.

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].

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Sixteen years onward and the US is no closer to its alleged goal of creating a stable Afghanistan free of terrorist organizations using its territory to stage attacks  regionally and globally. Thousands of US troops still remain in Afghanistan, attempting to prop up the disorganized, immensely corrupt regime Washington installed and maintains in the nation’s capital of Kabul. Entire provinces of the nation remain under the control of groups opposed to both the regime in Kabul and its American sponsors.

Furthermore, Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Russia, China and Iran, have attempted to broker a peace between Afghanistan’s various factions, undermining America’s divide and conquer strategy.

More recently, the US announced that it had deployed its largest non-nuclear ordnance in an operation it claims was targeting terrorists of the Islamic State organization.

The New York Times in an article titled, “U.S. Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs’ on ISIS Caves in Afghanistan,” claims that:

The United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the most powerful conventional bomb in the American arsenal — on an Islamic State cave complex in Afghanistan on Thursday, the Pentagon said, unleashing a weapon so massive that it had to be dropped from the rear of a cargo plane. 

The strike was the first combat use of what is formally named the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast. President Trump has bestowed additional authority on the Pentagon in his first months in office, which the military has argued will help it defeat the Islamic State more speedily. Mr. Trump did not say whether he had personally approved Thursday’s mission.

However, the narrative propagated by both the US media and the government that the US is attempting to “defeat the Islamic State more speedily” is fundamentally flawed.

It was the US, by its own admission, that sought the creation of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria, precisely where the Islamic State now resides. It was also admitted by the United States that its closest allies in the Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, constitute state sponsors of the Islamic State.

A genuine effort to defeat the Islamic State would require then, to first identify and eliminate the source of the terrorist organization’s funding and fighting capacity. The US has demonstrably failed to do either, and instead continues using the terrorist organization as a pretext to maintain a global military presence to “fight” the group perpetually. Its military presence also coincidentally allows the US to continue confronting and undermining competitors seeking to establish an alternative, multipolar world order.

What Does the use of MOAB Mean for US Foreign Policy? 

At face value, the use of such an immense ordnance by the US so many years after it began its military operations in Afghanistan in 2001, would appear to be a sign of desperation. That sixteen years onward, the US is still mired in combat operations fighting against multiplying terrorist threats including the Islamic State which previously did not exist in Afghanistan, indicates an absolute and total failure of US foreign policy in Central Asia.

However, considering the true nature of Washington’s relationship with the Islamic State, including its participation in its creation and perpetuation, the use of the GBU-43/B weapon was more likely done for the benefit of “shocking” US enemies well beyond Afghanistan’s borders.

Having just summarily executed a unilateral strike in Syria with cruise missiles allegedly in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack the US has refused to formally investigate and had swiftly assigned blame on the Syrian government for, the use of the GBU-43/B seems to involve more showmanship regarding geopolitics than any strategic value for America’s alleged fight in Afghanistan itself.

However, the use of the GBU-43/B requires infiltration into enemy airspace using cargo aircraft. These slow-moving aircraft would make easy targets for the air defenses of nation-states the US may be attempting to threaten. Thus, the threat may be a general indicator of America’s willingness to escalate militarily by all means, not merely through the specific use of GBU-43/B weapons.

That the GBU-43/B devastates indiscriminately an area nearly 2 kilometers in diameter, according to the New York Times, and considering the United States’ recent attempts to predicate its military action in Syria based on retaliation for using weapons of indiscriminate and mass destruction, US foreign policy is once again undermined by the nation’s own transparent hypocrisy. In this regard, had the bombing in Afghanistan been meant to project some sort of coherent message to the global public, it has once again been lost due to America’s own inconsistent policy.

Smaller weapon systems deployed by aircraft able to provide more accurate delivery versus enemy targets and provide better protection for American pilots are deemed by most military strategists as infinitely more effective. Thus, the use of America’s largest ordnance in Afghanistan can be interpreted as propaganda, albeit clumsy propaganda, and not progress in its fight against “terrorism” in Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.   

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Trump’s Strike on Syria Driven by the Deep State

April 19th, 2017 by Paul Mansfield

The US airstrike on Shayrat airbase last week, while limited in effectiveness with only 23 of 59 striking their target, sent a clear message to Assad. He is not dealing with the more cautious approach of Barack Obama, who was content to support terrorist proxies, along with an ineffectual campaign against ISIS.

He is dealing with a man who has done a 180-degree turn from non-interventionism and eschewing regime change, to reactive, reckless strikes waged illegally in response to an incident where the facts are still to be revealed. It is the action of a man driven by emotions, not something that inspires confidence when that man is the most powerful in the world. Most significantly, it reveals a crazy streak, a man willing to court military confrontation with Russia, a scenario that could go nuclear quickly. While the speed of the strikes gives much credence to these beliefs, there is, as always, much more to the story.

In reality the strikes were the work of “Mad Dog” Mattis, Votel and McMaster.

With Flynn pushed out and Bannon removed from his post on the National Security Council, Trump’s inner foreign policy circle are all war-hardened veterans, establishment through and through. While Trump may have made moves to drain the swamp, the swamp turned around and refilled itself. The neocons are in charge now. Agitators like McCain, Graham and Rubio finally get to see American power pummel those who raise its ire. They have been yearning this moment for several years. No more do they need to urge more direct US intervention in Syria; they may now revel in it.

An indication of the pro-interventionists is provided by Larry Chin who writes:

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Mattis pushed for the strike. White House advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump reportedly also pushed for the strike. White House advisor Steve Bannon advised against the strike, and was rebuked.

McMaster is a loyalist of disgraced former CIA director and convicted criminal General David Petraeus, being a part of his inner circle during the disastrous occupation of Iraq. As Mike Cernovich says, it is now “Trump supporters out, pro-war Petraeus puppets in.” Interestingly, Petraeus and Hillary Clinton are two peas in a pod in their embrace of military interventionism and American exceptionalism. Do we have Clinton in the White House by stealth?

What else apart from a security establishment coup driven by those in the service of the military industrial complex lies behind Trump’s decision to strike Syria? I believe Trump, rocked by the losses of people like Flynn has lost the heart for the fight. He wants to settle the deep state civil war and get on with business. The main business for Trump is making America great again by focusing on the domestic agenda and the grand plans he announced of cutting taxes, bringing jobs back home, massive infrastructure projects, protecting the borders and deporting illegal immigrants. In return for being allowed to pursue these goals he must sacrifice his previous views and embrace NATO, abandon détente with Russia in favour of the prevailing hostility, embark on military adventurism with gay abandon and sign on to the regime change agenda in Syria. In other words, he has to assign foreign policy to the Generals in his administration, war hawks in Congress and war planners in the think tank community.

Trump’s generals

Another motivation is the ceaseless, relentless war staged on him by the media establishment. They are like a dog with a bone and they will not let go until he is impeached. The RussiaGate scandal, though it lost some momentum, will not be let go of by the media. While the real scandals are the surveillance on Trump which implicates Obama and the felony of leaking Flynn’s surveilled conversations, the media remains fixated on RussiaGate and election interference – another groundless accusation that the media insists is an indisputable fact.

Now, after Trump’s strike on Syria – purportedly as a humane reaction to the horrendous suffering of civilians at the hands of the “animal” Assad – voila, we have a media swooning over him like a love-struck teenager. All is forgiven and Trump gets a honeymoon ride…at least for a little while. He has adopted American exceptionalism and its manifest destiny to police the world and punish evildoers who offend the US-led world order. He has shown himself willing to be the figurehead of an empire desperately pushing back against the withering of its hegemony. This is what is demanded by the media: control of the world first, domestic concerns second.

The honeymoon won’t last however. He has set the bar very high with his transformation into a gun-toting crazy. Any relaxing of his hyper aggression will be judged as losing his nerve and he will face the wrath of the ravenous war media. He will also not get much of a reprieve on the domestic front, criticized mercilessly in the media for his promise to get rid of Obamacare, the immigration ban, and allegations of racism and sexism. It will be interesting to see if RussiaGate picks up momentum again after being relegated to the back pages, or if the Russian hacking of the DNC continues to be used to batter Trump.

Trump was castigated for saying Assad didn’t need to leave. The Neocons’ shocked response was heightened by comments from Haley and Tillerson that implied it was up to the Syrian people to decide his future. Surrounded by war hawks who see diplomacy as something that happens after you have destroyed your enemy, Trump, being viewed as too soft, went on the offensive and showed how tough he can be. It worked like a charm. Media figures previously baying for his blood are now gushing with praise. Fareed Zakaria declared on CNN,

“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States” last night.

On MSNBC, Nicholas Kristof, an aggressive Trump critic, said he “did the right thing” by bombing Syria. But the one who really took the cake (perhaps the same delicious chocolate cake Trump ate while bombing Syria?) was Brian Williams of MSNBC who couldn’t have been more glowing in expressing awe at the “beautiful” sight of Tomahawk missiles, invoking the words of Leonard Cohen,

“I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.”

Another factor, commonplace for past presidents who used the glorification and rally-around-the-flag effect of war, may have been to boost Trump’s very low approval ratings. If that is the case, it had minimal effect. Rasmussen approval polls show a rise from 43% on 4 April to 48% on 14 April, Real Clear Politics just a single percentage point from 40 to 41% between 4 and 15 April and Gallup actually shows a decline from 42% on 4 April, to 39% on 14 April. Though those figures are now up to 50%, 42.5%, and 41%, respectively.

The strikes sent the signal: we are crazy enough to flirt with conflict with Russia to exact a toll on Bashar Al-Assad. Next was the switch to the diplomatic campaign, and that has gone into full gear at breakneck speed. It is more accurate to call it an intense psychological assault on Russia, seeking to overwhelm it with accusations of collusion with Assad and that the only way to disentangle itself is to abandon him and allow for his departure.

Trump has done an about-turn from imperial light to imperial heavy duty at a speed which has critics and friends alike scratching their heads. Luckily for him, the heads belonging to the neocons and the mainstream media are nodding in approval. As Pepe Escobar writes:

NATO was “obsolete.” Then it was “no longer obsolete.” China was a currency manipulator. Then it was no longer a currency manipulator. There would be no more adventures in the Middle East. Then it’s back to pulling a Hillary and bombing Syria. Russia was supposed to be a partner – basically in oil and gas deals, while a Kissingerian Divide and Rule remix would try to unravel the Russia-China strategic partnership. Then Russia is bad because supporting “animal” (sic) Assad.

Some (other) things never change. Iran will continue to be demonized. The NATO-GCC combo will continue to be bolstered. The House of Saud terrorizing Yemen will continue to be a close GWOT (Global War on Terror) ally.

We can add to this list that support for Israel is like no previous administration and it will be heartened by the turn to war of Trump, eager to carve out more of the Golan Heights. As well as the support for Saudi Arabia decimating Yemen, Trump himself dramatically expanded the level of drone strikes. After being in office less than two weeks a strike, which resulted in the death of one navy seal, also killed over 30 civilians including more than 10 children.

Trump has an admiration for the military and is fawning over its prowess, which he believes leaves all adversaries lagging far behind. Trump told Fox News,

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

What is concerning is not just what Trump said, but how he said it. Like a kid with a brand new (war) toy. Or a grown man moved to war over a delicious chocolate cake.

As for Moscow, it has made it clear it does not trust Washington. As masters of diplomacy, it does not say it outright, unlike the belligerent hawks littering Congress. It has grown frustrated at the constant US sabotage in Syria, the baseless accusations of interfering in the election and the intransigence in Ukraine, which the Trump administration seems to have lost interest in.

Moscow will need time to absorb and analyse the rapid move to militarism and just who is driving the foreign policy of Trump. The meetings of Tillerson with both Lavrov and Putin will have been useful in gathering the information needed to respond wisely to the increased US aggression.

After reflecting on what drove Trump to strike Syria we mustn’t forget that it was done before any solid evidence emerged. Inevitably, that is happening now, and what is being revealed is making the media’s uniform opinion of Assad’s guilt and the belligerence of Trump and his team look decidedly shaky.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have written a memo to Trump urging he pull back from the dangerous escalation with Russia. They agree with the Syrian Airforce statement that their aircraft bombed a weapons depot near Khan Shekhoun that turned out to be full of chemicals, which subsequently leaked into the atmosphere.

Leading chemical weapons expert Professor Theodore Postol of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who debunked the Ghouta claim of 2013 that Assad gassed his own civilians, reviewed a four-page intelligence brief from the White House, after which he said it

“contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft.”

Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq points out that Trump made a radical change in policy in directly confronting the Syrian armed forces and risking a confrontation with its Russian backers based on a “visceral” reaction to photos and videos from anti-government groups, including the notorious White Helmets.

Trump ignored the rational, calm approach of evidence gathering and analysis, flipping it so that military action preceded any investigation. Before the election Trump said,

“Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.”

Well Mr. Trump you had no real idea of what happened at Khan Shekhoun, yet you still launched airstrikes which benefited rebels that you have no real idea of.

Vladimir Putin himself was forthright in calling the Khan Shekhoun attack a false flag and warned of more false flags to come around Damascus. The horrific bombing of the besieged residents of Foua and Kefraya may end up justifying another, to be blamed on Assad as revenge for the victims. Or perhaps there isn’t any more to the airstrike than Trump crying at his daughter Ivanka crying over a White Helmets video.

In reality this is just the cherry on the top of an ongoing psyops war, tugging at the heartstrings of the public to win their support for a blatant violation of international law based on a blatant lie. If it were true, it would be no more comforting an explanation, as it shows an impulsive, reckless man risking large-scale military conflict on behalf of Al-Qaeda. Truth is most definitely stranger than fiction.

Paul Mansfield  is a budding freelance writer who currently works in the welfare industry in Melbourne, Australia. Areas of interest include: Russia/US conflict, wars in the Middle East, particularly Syria, the conflict in Ukraine, the occupation of Palestine by Israel, the damage to our economies from the global financial markets, the debt trap imposed on states by bankers seeking to privatize assets and “reform” economies while they line their pockets with cash and impoverish local populations.

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Trump Administration Takes Warmongering Directly to Korean Peninsula

By Abayomi Azikiwe, April 18, 2017

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has intensified already existing sanctions on Pyongyang. Tactical nuclear weapons stationed in South Korea remain aimed at key installations inside the DPRK. U.S. military officials have openly announced that they are considering a preemptive strike against the DPRK through targeted assassinations of its leaders and the attempted neutralization of its military defenses.

Washington Tries to Hide Its “Failure” in Mosul

By Anna Jaunger, April 18, 2017

It’s not a secret that the U.S. indiscriminant air strikes lead to a daily increasing number of civilian casualties. Considering the fact that all this is happening under the patronage of the United States, the natural question arises – how effective is Washington in fighting terrorism, if it can’t minimize the losses among civilians?

Attack Against Syria: The Middle East Region Is Speaking Out

By Andre Vltchek, April 18, 2017

Here in the Middle East and in fact all over the entire Arab world, feelings towards the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad are always ‘strong’; no one appears to be ‘neutral’. But even the divisions are often ‘pre-defined’, carved along pan-Arab versus pro-Western, or Sunni versus Shi’a lines. It is rarely being mentioned that the Syrian state is constructed mainly on secular and socialist principles.

Video: British Journalist Destroys Mainstream Media Lies on Syria

By Tom Duggan and Hanin Elias, April 19, 2017

Exclusive interview with British Journalist Tom Duggan in Damascus at the French Hospital tells us about the chemical attacks accusations.

Trump’s Deep Swamp. “Making America Great” for the Wealthy, Powerful and Privileged

By Stephen Lendman, April 19, 2017

His agenda aims to make America greater than ever for its wealthy, powerful and privileged – ordinary people fed lip service only, meaningless promises, ignored as soon as made.

Khan Sheikhoun, Syria: The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur

By Dr. Theodore Postol, April 19, 2017

The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

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What kind of president do we have?

Cynical and diabolical?  The plush dinner event with China’s president Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago on the evening of April 6 was carefully planned to coincide with Trump’s missile strikes against Syria.

Xi and Trump were accompanied by their wives; guests, family members and high-level officials from both countries were in attendance at the Palm Beach Mar-a Lago “replicate” of Rome’s Palazzo Chigi 16th Century dining room.

Later that evening on Thursday April 6, it was dessert time:  The Donald was at the dinner table eating a delicious chocolate cake together with Xi Jinping, while also ordering Tomahawk missile strikes against Syria, in the presence of China’s president and his entourage:

“I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it,” (TV interview Fox News, see below)

Precedent in the conduct of US foreign policy? Trump ran it as a “war and chocolate” reality show: A shift in the mode of decision-making pertaining to US aggression?

The dinner event was also part of “publications relations” operation with the intent to boost a “pro-American sentiment” by president Xi Jinping and the PRC delegation.

The Daily Telegraph, 7 April 2017 (scan right)

Trump’s order to strike Syria had been carefully timed to coincide with the final “dessert stage” of the official dinner event with president Xi:

“And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded. [ready to go]

What do you do? And we made a determination to do it.  So the missiles were on the way.”

… “And I said: ‘Mr President, let me explain something to you …this is during dessert… we’ve just fired 59 missiles – all of which hit by the way, unbelievable, from, you know hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, it’s so incredible, it’s brilliant, it’s genius, our technology is better than anybody’s by a factor of five …”

“So what happens is, I said [to Xi] we’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq, [sic] …

The 59 missiles had been launched, “heading to Iraq” according to Trump, …

Oops, he rectifies:  “heading towards Syria”, got his countries mixed up.

“I didn’t want him to finish his dessert and go home … and then they say: ‘You know the guy you just had dinner with just attacked [Syria].’”

And then Trump invites the Chinese president to finish his dessert.

“And he was eating his cake. And he was silent.”

Video, source Fox News (English audio, French subtitles)

And then Trump intimates (in his interview with Fox News) that president Xi had endorsed his punitive airstrikes via his interpreter. Xi said, according to Trump’s recount:

anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that [to] young children and babies, it’s OK”. (emphasis added)

“He agreed… He [Xi] was ok with me” said Trump.

China is with us.

Who is Anybody?

Visibly Trump hasn’t the foggiest idea of the workings of international diplomacy.

Nor does he understand that Chinese politicians never reveal their game at an official dinner venue. What they say is invariably intended to hide their real intentions.

Xi’s spontaneous response  –while finishing his chocolate desert– was not an “endorsement” of the People’s Republic of China, which a few days earlier politely abstained in the vote of the UN Security Council Resolution directed against Bashar al Assad.  China also joined the Russian initiative calling for an independent investigation into the chemical weapons issue.

But Mr. President. There no evidence.

The United Nations in a 2013 report confirms that Syrian opposition “rebels” (supported by Washington) “may have used chemical weapons against [Syrian] government forces.”

The UN report refutes Trump’s accusations that Bashar al Assad was using chemical weapons against his own people. 

What the UN mission findings confirm is that the US sponsored opposition “rebels” largely composed of Al Qaeda affiliated groups, financed and supported by the Western military alliance were responsible for these 2013 chemical weapons attacks.

Moreover, as confirmed in an earlier report, the Al Qaeda rebels were being trained in the use of chemical weapons by specialists on contract to the Pentagon.  From the horse’s mouth: CNN

Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons

Atrocities were committed and Trump ordered airstrikes which have resulted in further deaths of innocent civilians including children.

US intelligence is often based on the art of deceit, i.e. the fabrication of evidence.

But in this case  there was “no art of deceit”. The White House report which Trump used to justify his airstrikes constitutes fake evidence and “sloppy intelligence”. Did it have the endorsement of the intelligence community?

There is ample evidence of a US coverup contained in this scanty White House “intelligence report” which has been refuted.

see Dr. Theodore Postol’s incisive report:

Assessment of White House Intelligence Report About Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria 

No credible evidence that the Syrian president is killing his own people has been provided.

The false flag does not hold up to scrutiny, yet this “sloppy intelligence” seems to have convinced the President and Commander in Chief of the United States of America, who’s eating a chocolate cake with the president of China…

And the Chinese president knows that the intelligence is fake.

Washington (which supported the opposition rebels in the use of chemical weapons) rather than Damascus is responsible for extensive crimes against humanity.

Who is the Butcher, Mr. Trump?

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This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space and the sarin cloud would have had to travel long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.

Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated from sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos.

The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

The findings of this analysis can serve two important purposes:

  1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity. In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will further confirm that the findings reported by the WHR are not compatible with the data it cites as evidence for its conclusions.
  2. It also establishes that the WHR did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the WHR presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and to a standard of high confidence.

Methodology Used in This Analysis

The construction of the time of day at which particular video frames were generated is determined by simply using the planetary geometry of the sun angle during the day on April 4. The illustration below of the sun-angle geometry shows the Day/Night Sun Terminator at the location of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The angle of the sun relative to local horizontal is summarized in the table that follows the image of the planetary geometry along with the temperature during the day between 6:30 AM and 6 PM.

The next set of two side-by-side images shows the shadows at a location where a large number of poison victims are being treated in what appears to be the aftermath of a poisoning event. The shadows indicate that this event occurred at about 7:30 AM. This is consistent with the possibility of a nerve agent attack at 7 AM on the morning of April 4 and it is also consistent with the allegation in the WHR that an attack occurred at 6:55 AM on that day.

The timing sequence of the attack is important for determining the consistency of the timelines with the allegations of a sarin release at the crater identified in the WHR.

Assuming there was an enough sarin released from the crater identified by the WHR to cause mass casualties at significant downwind distances, the sarin would have drifted downwind at a speed of 1 to 2 m/s and for several minutes before encountering the only location where mass casualties could have occurred from this particular release. The location where these mass casualties would have had to occur will be identified and described in the next section. If there was a sarin release elsewhere, mass casualties would have not occurred at this location but would have occurred somewhere else in the city.

Assuming the victims of the attack were exposed to the plume, the symptoms of sarin poisoning would have express themselves almost immediately. As such, the scene at 7:30 AM on April 4 is absolutely consistent with the possibility of a mass poisoning downwind of the sarin-release crater.

The next figure shows the earliest photograph we have been able to find of an individual standing by the sarin-release crater where the alleged release occurred. The photo was posted on April 4 and the shadow indicates the time of day was around 10:50 AM. Thus the individual was standing by the crater roughly 4 hours after the dispersal event.

If the dispersal event was from this crater, the area where this unprotected individual is standing would be toxic and this individual would be subjected to the severe and possibly fatal effects of sarin poisoning. As a result, this throws substantial suspicion on the possibility that the crater identified by WHR would be the source of the sarin release.

At the time of the sarin release, the temperature of the air was about 60°F and the sun was at an angle of only 8° relative to local horizontal. This means that liquid sarin left on the ground from the dispersal event would remain mostly unevaporated. By 11 AM, the temperature of the air had risen to 75° and the angle of the sun relative to horizontal was at 66°. Thus, one would expect that the combination of the rise in air temperature and the sun on the crater would lead to significant evaporation of liquid sarin left behind from the initial dispersal event. The air temperature and sun angle are such that the area around the crater should have been quite dangerous for anybody without protection to operate.

This is therefore an important indication that the crater was probably not a dispersal site of the sarin.

The final set of three photographs shows arriving victims seeking treatment at a hospital at some location in Khan Sheikhoun. The arrivals at the hospital are at between 9 and 10:30 AM on the day of the attack. This is perhaps late since victims were seriously exposed by 7:30 AM, but victims could have been trailing in after the initial arrival of severely affected victims. This time is considerably earlier than the time at which WHR alleges that a hospital was attacked while treating victims of the poisoning attack.

In the next section we discuss the location where mass casualties should have occurred if the sarin release occurred at the location alleged by the WHR.

Postol 1

Khan Shaykhun Sun Angles
Relative to Local Horizontal on April 4, 2017

Postol 3

Postol 4

Postol 5a

Identification of the Location of the Mass Casualties

The figure on the next page shows the direction of the toxic sarin plume based on the assumption that the alleged release point was the crater identified by WHR. The wind conditions at the time of the release, which would have been at about 7 AM on April 4, would have carried the plume across an empty field to an isolated Hamlet roughly 300 m downwind from the crater.

Although there were some walls and structures that would have somewhat attenuated and inhibited the movement of the aerosol cloud from the release point, the open field would be an ideal stable wind environment to transmit the remaining sarin cloud with minimal distortion and dispersal. As such, it is plausible that the sarin cloud could with the weather conditions at that time have led to mass casualties at the Hamlet.

The sarin dosage level that results in 50% of exposed victims dying is known as the LD50. The LD50 for sarin is about 100 mglmin/m3.

The dose quantity mglmin/m3 can be understood simply.

An exposure of about 100 mglmin/m3 simply means that a victim is within an environment for one full minute when there is 100 mg/m3 of sarin in the air. If the victim is instead in an environment for 10 minutes where there is a density of sarin of 10 mg/m3, they will also receive a lethal dose of 100 mglmin/m3.

Assuming 5 to 10 liters were aerosolized at the crater as alleged by the WHR, this would have resulted in an average sarin exposure at the Hamlet at 300 m range of about 10 to 20 mglmin/m3, assuming wind and temperature conditions that are near ideal for lethal exposures downwind. This estimate assumes that an individual would be outside and exposed to the sarin as the gas cloud passes by.

Postol 6

Postol 7

Postol 8

Postol 9

Since a cloud of sarin would not be uniformly mixed, there will be regions in the cloud that have much higher and lower doses than the average. In addition, as the cloud passes, sarin entering into open windows of aboveground and basement rooms would tend to become trapped inside these rooms creating a significantly longer exposure to the nerve agent, certainly leading to lethal levels if residents did not evacuate the rooms immediately. Also, since the nerve agent cloud would be passing through an area that has buildings, it will tend to flow around, over buildings, and down into open basement windows, resulting in buildups of sarin in some locations and diminished levels of sarin at other locations.

As such, the Hamlet could well have been within lethal range of the sarin exposure. However, areas further downwind from the Hamlet would be sufficiently far away that the sarin will have dispersed sufficiently that it would not be capable of causing deaths.

Thus, the Hamlet area 300 m downwind of the crater is the only area where mass casualties could  occur if there had been a sarin release at the crater as alleged by the WHR!

The selected video frames collected on the next two pages show three important sets of data that indicate the following:

  1. Unprotected civilians with clothing that have logos of the Idlib Health Directorate are tampering with the contents of the crater crater that the WHR alleges was the source of the sarin release. All of the indicators point to a ruptured tube that could have contained no more than 8 to 10 liters of sarin. This is the only container shown in any videos from this scene.
  2. The next collection of video frames shows panoramic views of the target area taken from a drone equipped with a video camera. As can be seen in the video frames, a goat that was allegedly killed from the sarin dispersal is close to downwind of the alleged dispersal site.

However, the Hamlet that should have experienced major casualties if the alleged dispersal site had been correctly identified is only 300 m down range, and easily reachable by simply walking over to the site.

Yet none of the video journalists refer in any way to a mass casualty site nearby. They simply focus on a dead goat and present out of context images of a few dead birds. It is remarkable that no video journalists of the many who reported from this crater area referred in any way to the mass casualties that could only have occurred 300 m away if the attack had been executed from this crater.

  1. The last collection of 18 video frames is from the area where mass casualties were piled on the ground haphazardly dead or dying. Among these casualties were infants as well as men and women. This scene clearly could not have been at the location of the Hamlet as one can see that the walls surrounding the area are carved out of rock. Thus, this scene could not possibly have been at the Hamlet.

These video frames were generated by reviewing hundreds of videos posted on YouTube plus additional videos and video frames found on Twitter.

Among the hundreds of videos reviewed there seems to be no more than 50 to 60 seconds of actual original scenes like those laid out in the collection of 18 videos below. The vast majority of time in the videos contains the same repeated sequences of the same dead and injured infants and adults that could all be collected into less than a couple of minutes of independent scenes.

The overwhelming evidence is that these videos repeat nothing more than redundant scenes that suggest one terrible event might have occurred. Almost none of the scenes contain any different information from the others. This raises a serious question about how much real data has been supplied that would indicate an actual significant nerve agent attack.

What is absolutely clear from the videos is that the location of the sarin dispersal site alleged by WHR and the mass casualty site that would have had to be generated if the sarin dispersal actually occurred, are not in any way related to the scenes of victims shown in the other videos. The conclusion is obvious, the alleged attack described in WHR never occurred.

Postol 10

Postol 12

Postol 13

Postol 14

Final Comments

This abbreviated summary of the facts has been constructed entirely from basic physics, video evidence, and absolutely solid analytical methods. It demonstrates without doubt that the sarin dispersal site alleged as the source of the April 4, 2017 sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun was not a nerve agent attack site.

It also shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only mass casualty site that could have resulted from this mass attack is not in any way related to the sites that are shown in video following a poisoning event of some kind at Khan Sheikhoun.

This means that the allegedly “high confidence” White House intelligence assessment ssued on April 11 that led to the conclusion that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack is not correct. For such a report to be so egregiously in error, it could not possibly have followed the most simple and proven intelligence methodologies to determine the veracity of its findings.

Since the United States justified attacking a Syrian airfield on April 7, four days before the flawed National Security Council intelligence report was released to the Congress and the public, the conclusion that follows is that the United States took military actions without the intelligence to support its decision.

Furthermore, it is clear that the WHR was not an intelligence report.

No competent intelligence professional would have made so many false claims that are totally inconsistent with the evidence. No competent intelligence professional would have accepted the findings in the WHR analysis after reviewing the data presented herein. No competent intelligence professionals would have evaluated the crater that was tampered with in terms described in the WHR.

Although it is impossible to know from a technical assessment to determine the reasons for such an egregiously amateurish report, it cannot be ruled out that the WHR was fabricated to conceal critical information from the Congress and the public.

Appendix

Resource Materials Used To DetermineLocalWeather Conditions andSun Angles
Needed to Verify the above Analysis

Khan Shaykhun, Idlib Historical Weather, Syria

The past date should be after 1st July, 2008 onwards
Tue 04th Apr, 2017

Khan Shaykhun Past weather on 04th April

2mph = 0.9 m/sec
3mph = 1.3 m/sec
4mph = 1.8 m/sec

3 to 4 Minutes from Crater to Residences

https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/syria/damascus
April 2017 — Sun in Damascus

Time Determined by Planetary Analysis

Sunrise ~ 6:25 AM

Sunset ~ 6:56 PM

Postscript: Here is the .pdf version, with the best layout:

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur__Analysis of the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at 7 AM on April 4_2017 in Khan Sheikhoun_Syrian_(April18,2017)_Optimized_

In a cover letter to his report, Dr. Postol also sent us the following Summary of Findings:

This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release.  Video data of suffocating and dead victims lying on the ground shows a different location from the predicted sarin dispersal site if it had been correctly identified by the White House.

The conclusion is that the nerve agent attack described in the White House Intelligence Report did not occur as claimed.  There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

The findings of this expanded analysis can serve two important purposes:

  1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity.

In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will confirm that the findings reported by the White House Report are incompatible with its own cited data.

  1. It also establishes that the White House Report did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack.  It is particularly of concern that the White House Report presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and executed to a standard of high confidence.

***

For background on Dr. Postol’s previous essays on this issue, see:

Theodore A. Postol is a professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. Postol’s main expertise is in ballistic missiles. He has a substantial background in air dispersal, including how toxic plumes move in the air. Postol has taught courses on weapons of mass destruction – including chemical and biological threats – at MIT.  Before joining MIT, Postol worked as an analyst at the Office of Technology Assessment, as a science and policy adviser to the chief of naval operations, and as a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory.  He also helped build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study weapons technology in relation to defense and arms control policy. Postol is a highly-decorated scientist, receiving the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society, the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Richard L. Garwin Award from the Federation of American Scientists.

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On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded about a minute after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts, including Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe. Investigations revealed that contractor and in-house engineers had warned prior to the launch that the unusually cold temperatures on shuttle systems the previous night and that morning could have catastrophic effects.

Also disclosed was the fact that NASA had known for years that the O-ring joints on the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters were unsafe but planned to keep flying while they were being re-engineered. But concealed was the takeover of NASA by those in charge of President Reagan’s Star War program along with the fact that NASA launched against the concerns of engineers in order to have the Teacher-in-Space mission in orbit in time for President Reagan’s planned state-of-the-union address that night.

But the Teacher-in-Space was itself a smokescreen for the radical militarization of space that has received new impetus today from the ongoing takeover of the U.S. government by the Neocons. Thus the Challenger disaster was a warning to us all of what happens when technology is abused by covert political agendas and when lies and cover-ups replace honest inquiry.

My name is Richard C. Cook. Over 30 years ago I was the NASA analyst turned whistleblower who disrupted the cover-up the space agency had begun of the known causes of the space shuttle Challenger disaster when I released the O-ring documents to the press within 10 days of the January 28, 1986, explosion.

Richard C. Cook

I did this because I had been conducting an internal investigation of NASA’s longstanding knowledge of the potentially deadly flaws in the solid rocket booster O-ring joints and knew, as did agency management, that it was these flaws that destroyed Challenger and killed its seven astronauts. But I could not make myself keep silent when the officials in charge were concealing what they knew and expecting staff professionals like me to go along with it. It simply would not have been the right thing to do.           

New York Times journalist Phillip Boffey won a Pulitzer Prize for the articles he wrote on the documents I handed him at the Times’ Washington, D.C., bureau. Boffey’s articles paved the way for all subsequent news disclosures and investigations. But it was obvious to NASA I was the leaker. I was set-up for public attack and humiliation, fled the agency for fear of retribution, spoke and wrote publicly for several years afterwards, then kept my Challenger files for almost two decades until I published my account in book form in 2007.

Image result for richard cook challenger revealedThus, 21 years after the disaster, on my retirement from the federal service, I published Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age. Despite a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, the book has been almost completely, probably purposely, ignored by the mainstream media and attacked by the usual shills on the specialty web sites and chat rooms. But I have never backed down from what I had to say.           

My book is the only complete account, either in print or the visual media, of one of the signature events of the 20thcentury. No other treatment has penetrated the multiple layers of cover-up, not only by NASA, but also by the Rogers Commission and Congress, both of which effectively concealed the deeper political causes of the tragedy that made Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe and the other Challenger astronauts not just victims but martyrs.           

The newly-formed Rogers Commission, headed by one-time Attorney-General and Secretary of State William Rogers, was taken by surprise when the O-ring documents appeared in print, as NASA had been proclaiming publicly it had no idea what could have gone wrong. As I deduced during the course of the investigation, the Commission had been created by the Reagan administration to protect the White House from embarrassing disclosures. The Commission chose to go after the NASA cover-up only to the extent of pinning the blame on lower level managers who supposedly had failed to tell higher-ups that contractor and in-house engineers had objected to launching in cold weather. The mainstream media duly followed the Commission’s lead in treating the Challenger disaster as essentially a problem with  “communications.”

The Commission also hypocritically boasted that it had discovered the “exact cause” of the tragedy—the infamous O-ring joints that they learned NASA had been well aware of up to the highest levels. But in its report the Commission protected the top brass from further scrutiny by turning the lower level managers into scapegoats. This was done deliberately. In fact deals were made.

The Rogers Commission pursued the same strategy as other high-level inquiries such as the Warren Commission, the Rockefeller Commission, the Tower Commission, and the 9/11 Commission: find someone far down the chain of events on which to pin the blame while the high-level perpetrators go free. The mainstream media plays its designated role by reporting as expected while the dust of past events settles. Then establishment historians package the bland but dishonest conclusions for future consumption by a posterity they and the perpetrators view only with contempt.

Every presidential commission is charged with hiding something. What then was the Rogers Commission hiding, along with the congressional committees after it, especially since it didn’t take long for them to realize that NASA had known about the flawed O-ring joints in the solid rocket boosters literally for years—even before the shuttle had ever flown?

To answer briefly but accurately, the Rogers Commission was hiding the darkness that had enshrouded the U.S. manned space program through takeover of NASA by operatives of President Reagan’s “Star Wars” space weapons program. These operatives had emerged from the “Conservative Movement” that got Reagan elected, such as members of the Committee on the Present Danger that advocated putting the U.S. on a wartime footing against the Soviet Union. One of these members, William Graham, had been made NASA’s acting administrator weeks before the Challenger disaster.

The Conservative Movement was the forerunner of today’s Neocons and included many of the same people. One of their heroes was Edward Teller, “father of the hydrogen bomb.” Later it was these people, through the 1997 Project for the New American Century and other avenues, who collectively became the architects of our current national policy of regime change and perpetual warfare against any nation or entity in the world that does not please us.

Getting back to Challenger, the militarization of the space shuttle program was why the O-ring joints had not been fixed—it would have slowed or halted the military launch rate and reduced NASA’s intake of Department of Defense subsidies needed to keep the shuttle flying. Instead, an improved booster rocket design was to be gradually implemented over a two-year period, leaving the shuttle to risk astronauts’ lives by “flying-as-is,” to use NASA’s own term of art.

My book documents that NASA was keeping to itself the fact that solid rocket booster O-ring joint performance was worse in cold weather in order to avoid delays in military missions. The jig was up when NASA launched Challenger due to White House pressure to have Christa McAuliffe in orbit for Reagan’s state-of-the-union message that Tuesday night. The White House knew NASA was concerned about the weather, but the agency’s top managers were unwilling to risk political disfavor. So they decided to cross their fingers and hope for the best. They even told the dissenting engineers not to worry—that if anything went wrong the engineers wouldn’t be blamed. So the cover-up was being planned as an option even before the disaster. 

These are not just allegations. These are critical facts that are described and documented in detail only in my book. Names are given and specific sources cited, including the meeting where Commission Chairman William Rogers explained his strategy of making Al McDonald of Morton Thiokol the “hero” of the piece and Larry Mulloy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center the villain. End of story, or so Chairman Rogers intended.

All other books and articles on the subject, as well as all media productions, including the Discovery Channel’s 2013 made-for-TV movie The Challenger Disaster, swallowed the Commission’s line and refused to touch the underlying causes . Thus they have all made themselves, intentionally or not, part of the cover-up.

See my review of the Discovery Channel’s production published on the Global Research website

The Challenger disaster is as pertinent today as when it happened both for the human elements and the policy implications. The grounding of the shuttle fleet for over two years from 1986-8 deprived the “Star Wars” program of its primary testing platform, thereby slowing the weapons-in-space effort until it went dormant after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Crucial is the fact that “Star Wars” marked a radical change in U.S. space policy, because underlying it was a belief by the cabal that controlled Reagan that a nuclear war against the Soviet Union could be won, even if millions of people in both countries lost their lives. The 1986 mission of Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe was Reagan’s sentimental pet project but also a smokescreen to conceal the militarization of space.

But the menace of space weaponry has returned. Now in 2017, with the resurgence of Russia as an excuse, the U.S. has embarked on a new nuclear arms race. Influential journals such as Foreign Affairs and International Security speak of the need for U.S. nuclear supremacy. U.S. abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 has led to a massive attempt to ring Russia with a missile defense system. This is believed by many to be a plan to prevent Russian retaliation to a U.S. first strike and is an underlying reason for the incorporation of eastern European nations into NATO.

Meanwhile, reminiscent of “Star Wars” days, the Pentagon has established a Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center in Colorado Springs, with over 22,000 employees. These are working in secrecy but are known to be focusing on future space-based military operations against Russian and China.

Further, even though the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 is still in effect, prohibiting weapons of mass destruction from being based in space, any nation can withdraw from that treaty with one year’s notice. Research, planning, and technology development can, and is, plowing ahead unabated with billions of dollars in contracts being awarded. A new generation of nuclear weapons is being developed, along with weapons such as the electromagnetic railgun and laser-beam devices that can be installed on orbiting space platforms.

The difference between now and 1986 is that all space-based military operations will be covert and robotic, including semi-autonomous artificial intelligence devices. An example is the X37-B unmanned space plane currently being flown by the Air Force. This space plane is a smaller unmanned replica of the space shuttle. Unlike Reagan’s “Star Wars” program, humans in space, with the risks and publicity involved, will not be needed.

But contrary to all this, the exploration of space as set forth in NASA’s enabling legislation in 1958 was for peaceful purposes to benefit all mankind. America’s manned space program has been eclipsed, its original vision a distant dream. Future exploratory projects are behind schedule and over budget and may even be cancelled as being less urgent than spending for war. Or, these manned missions will also be diverted to serve military purposes.

Instead of peaceful exploration, we now have a monstrous present of planning by military analysts to risk destruction of our own and other nations, and perhaps all of humanity and earth itself, for motives of pride, greed, and fear; i.e., for nothing. The main beneficiaries of this insanity are the billionaires who are making the space weapons.

Meanwhile, professional commentators foment hatred toward supposed foreign “adversaries” like Russia and China to keep the billionaires in business. A glance at websites like “Space War: Your World at War” shows how pervasive the militaristic mentality is, how many people and how much money is invested in it, the absence of any sense of shame in the glib manner by which its publicists glorify it, and the lack of recognition of the level of destruction mankind is preparing for itself by indulging in such evil.

A turning point for the start of this downward spiral was the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986. Again, only my book Challenger Revealed explains fully what happened on that terrible day and why it was a harbinger of today’s peril. We now must rise to the vision of a unified world brought to us vividly by the astronauts in the 1960s who first showed us real-life images of earth as a fragile “blue marble” floating quietly in space, home to all terrestrial life and a single human family. This was also a vision held by Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe. It is a vision honored by people who believe in the goodness and promise of life. It is a vision still available if we turn to it for renewal. It is a vision that can raise us to a higher spiritual level than obsession with money, secrecy, power, and war.

This spirit found expression on the Apollo 8 moon-orbiting mission with its three crew members William Anders, James Lovell, and Frank Borman. As described on the website www.churchpop.com:

“It was Christmas Eve 1968, and the crew was orbiting the moon. They did a live broadcast from their spaceship, garnering the largest TV audience ever at the time. The astronaut crew introduced themselves and described what it was like to see the moon so close. Then one of the astronauts said, ‘We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.’ The three astronauts then took turns reading the first 10 verses of the first chapter of Genesis, which describes God’s act of creation. They read it from the King James Version of the Bible. When he finished, the last astronaut concluded, ‘And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.’”

But to reach this spiritual level in space exploration or any other endeavor, we have to be able to know and tell the truth.

In this regard, the U.S. government has a big problem. Lying has become so habitual among politicians, government officials, and military personnel that truth is not even seen any more as having any intrinsic value. Examination of almost any government program or public event discloses varying levels of deception, “spin”, distortion, bias, cover stories, or concealment. A huge amount of government activity, including everything done by the military and the intelligence agencies, is covered under various secrecy statutes for the purposes of so-called “national security.” “Plausible denial” is a way of life. Whistleblowers who speak the truth are threatened or persecuted. I know this as a fact, as that is what happened to me.

The average citizen doesn’t have a clue of what is being done, or even what crimes are being committed, in his/her name and with his/her tax dollars. Of course the news media are in on the game, not only concealing the truth, but making up “fake news” to divert attention. The propaganda machine is a multi-billion dollar business, with the Pentagon in collusion with Hollywood in churning out garbage films that glorify war and mayhem. All of this has become much worse in the 30-plus years since the Challenger disaster.

And who benefits? Obviously the military-industrial-intelligence bureaucracy and its millions of employees condone it because their livelihoods depend on the collective insanity.

Then there are the owners of the technology companies who manufacture huge quantities of junk machinery whose only purpose is to kill people, if in fact it is ever used. And of course there are the politicians, lobbyists, PR flaks, and spin doctors whose careers are based on getting voters and taxpayers into a frenzy to continue voting in favor of the people who run a system that thrives on human suffering and have a vested interest in generating more of it.

The craziest thing of all is that the U.S. once thought of itself as a Christian nation, and many of the supporters of the political ideology that justifies the madness still do. But where is Jesus in all this today? Where is the religion of love and forgiveness that led to the abolition of slavery and the vision of America as a beacon of peace and harmony in the world? I am sorry, but the U.S. is not an “exceptional” nation, because that vision is dead. Instead, we have become a nation controlled by greedy, lying warmongers. The Challenger disaster and its aftermath and cover-ups were a big step down this road, as were events that came before, like the JFK assassination, and those since, like 9-11.

Can any of this be changed? If it can, it will happen only if enough individuals make a stand and refuse to go along with the system, no matter what the personal cost. I also believe in the power of prayer. Otherwise, I am convinced that this nation is on a path to destruction. The U.S. today seems to be largely in the control of an alien force, which, for clarity and convenience, may be associated with the Neocons discussed above. Today they control Congress, the White House, the mainstream media, and both political parties. They control the military and the intelligence agencies. And they have powerful financial backing at the international level.

Of course the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster was only one event—though a shattering one. But even in 1986 it showed, to those able to see, the kind of world Reagan and his Conservative Movement were creating. To fully document the changes that were being set in motion, including takeover of the economy by the banks and Wall Street, the destruction of the U.S. producing economy by outsourcing of jobs, climate change from growing carbon pollution, the wars against Iraq and Serbia, false flag events like 9/11, endless warfare under the guise of the War on Terror, demonization of Russia, etc., would take many volumes to analyze, including how it all ties in with international power politics and the so-called “New World Order.”

One thing seems certain: given the powers that they are playing with—technology that can destroy the planet—a catastrophic outcome is likely to take place sooner rather than later.

Richard C. Cook is a retired federal government analyst. In his 32-year career he worked for five civilian agencies and the Carter White House. While with NASA he documented the flaws with the space shuttle solid rocket booster and testified before the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. Unable to return to NASA after his testimony, he spent the rest of his career with the U.S. Treasury Department.  On retirement in 2007, he published Challenger Revealed, the definitive account of the multiple layers of cover-up surrounding the disaster. He went on to publish a book on monetary policy entitled We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform. In 2012 he put forth the Gaia Plan, a proposal for a worldwide basic income to counter technological unemployment, spur economic growth at the grassroots level, and assure a life of dignity for all people.

An earlier version in this text was published by Veterans Today.

 

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