Israeli planes have been reported spraying herbicides over land inside the Gaza Strip on four occasions in 2017, including twice in the last two days.

Israeli planes sprayed herbicides inside the Gaza Strip for the second day running on Wednesday and the fourth time this year, according to local farmers and Israeli rights NGO Gisha. A video published on Wednesday, allegedly of the crop-dusting, shows a plane flying low and spraying over farmland.

Palestinians who reported the incident said that the planes had dusted near the Gaza border fence, and the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture is investigating the extent of the damage from the herbicides sprayed over the last two days. Around 840 acres of crops were damaged during the last round of spraying in January 2017, according to Gisha.

The dusting of Palestinian-owned farmland inside the Gaza Strip did not begin this year. As +972 reported at the time, Israeli planes sprayed herbicides over vegetation in Gaza for several consecutive days in December 2015, damaging over 400 acres of crops.

The IDF confirmed to +972 that it was responsible for spraying the farmland, but didn’t elaborate as to why, beyond the amorphous designation of “security operations.” A number of Palestinian farmers have since demanded compensation from the State of Israel.

Israeli planes have returned to spray herbicides numerous times since the end of 2015. The government, meanwhile, has contradicted itself over the area it claims to have targeted: despite the IDF’s confirmation to +972, and later to Gisha, that it had sprayed herbicides inside the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Ministry of Defense later claimed in a court hearing on the issue that the work had been carried out by private companies — and only on Israeli territory.

Palestinian children take pictures of each other in the no-go zone near Erez crossing, during the weekly demonstration against the occupation in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 7, 2012. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinian children take pictures of each other in the no-go zone near Erez crossing, during the weekly demonstration against the occupation in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 7, 2012. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Since 2000, Israel has maintained a no-go area inside the Gaza border fence — formally referred to as the “Access-Restricted Area” (ARA) — which currently reaches 300 meters inside Gazan territory. The army enforces this buffer zone with everything from “less-lethal” weapons to live ammunition and tank fire, making it a particularly deadly stretch of land. Israeli bulldozers also reportedly enter the Gaza Strip on a regular basis to level land inside the ARA.

Farmers and scrap collectors who venture near the border are frequently targeted by Israeli sniper fire, including those who were apparently well outside the buffer zone. Most recently, a 15-year-old Palestinian, Yousef Shaaban Abu Athra, was killed when an IDF tank opened fire at him and two companions, who were wounded. The army claimed that the three had been acting suspiciously.

In addition to the land buffer zone, Israel restricts Palestinians to fishing within six nautical miles of the Gaza coast, and the navy regularly opens fire on fishermen who are deemed to have ventured further away from the shoreline.

This year marks a decade since the start of Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, as well as all of its land crossings save for Rafah, which is controlled by Egypt and closed on all but the rarest of occasions. Gaza’s exports and imports are also controlled by Israel, as is the movement of people — residents and otherwise — in and out of the enclave.

At the time of writing, the IDF Spokesperson had yet to respond to a request for comment on the latest incident of crop-spraying. Should a response be received, it will be included here.

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“Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value,” Former vice president Joe Biden quoting his father knew that a budget reflected the values and priorities of our nation. Each April our country funds its priorities. Ultimately, as the Rev. Jim Wallis has said, “Budgets are moral documents.” 

Each year Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles calculates how much money the United States spends on nuclear weapons programs for the current tax year. The Nuclear Weapons Community Costs Project has identified that for tax year 2016 the United States spent $57.6 billion on nuclear weapons programs. California contributed more than $7 billion to this amount while Los Angeles County sent approximately $1.8 billion to the federal coffers to fund weapons that can never be used. In Flint, Michigan, where we have allowed our children to be poisoned by lead in their drinking water, $9 million was spent. In the nation’s poorest county, Buffalo County, South Dakota, they spent more than $142,000 on nuclear weapons.

Every dollar spent on nuclear weapons is a dollar taken from programs that support the health and well being of our country, our communities, and our loved ones. These are critical funds that we can never get back.

The Trump administration is proposing a dramatic increase in the budget for nuclear weapons while simultaneously proposing a dramatic decrease for social and environmental programs. This is in addition to the nuclear grand bargain of the Obama administration’s proposed buildup of our nuclear arsenal to the tune of $1 trillion over the next three decades. This is the opening salvo as other countries follow suit in this new nuclear arms race.

Having grown weary of our actions and failure to meet our legally binding commitment to work in good faith toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, the non-nuclear nations are refusing to be held hostage by the nuclear states any longer. Taking their future into their own hands the vast majority of the non-nuclear nations will complete negotiations at the United Nations this July on an international nuclear ban treaty that will outlaw nuclear weapons just as all other weapons of mass destruction have been banned. This will leave the United States and other nuclear nations once again in breach of international law.

Fortunately, a world under constant threat of nuclear apocalypse either by intent or accident is not the future that has to be. But change will not happen on its own. Each of us has a role to play. Ultimately it will take the people of the United States to awaken from our trance and join the rest of the world in demanding that our leaders work to abolish nuclear weapons and to redirect these expenditures to secure a future for our children and address the real needs of our country.  The time for action is now.

Contact your representatives at: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Robert Dodge is a family physician practicing full time in Ventura, California. He serves on the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles serving as a Peace and Security Ambassador and at the national level where he sits on the security committee. He also serves on the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions. He writes for PeaceVoice.

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On Sunday, Turks voted on whether to replace its parliamentary system with a presidential one – affording Erdogan virtual dictatorial powers.

He can now rule by decree, short of circumventing existing laws. He can declare emergency rule, appoint two vice presidents, ministers and regime officials, as well as dissolve parliament if he wishes and call new elections.

He has more control over Turkey’s courts. His power-grab prevailed on Sunday by a 51.3 – 48.7% margin. Reported turnout was 84%.

The referendum was held under state of emergency conditions, following last July’s failed military coup – tens of thousands imprisoned in its aftermath, over 130,000 purged from regime, academic and other public positions.

Project on Middle East Democracy Turkey expert Howard Eissenstat said

“(j)udicial independence was already shockingly weak before the referendum. The new system makes that worse.”

Council of Europe German parliamentarian observer Andrej Hunko called campaigning in the run-up to Sunday’s vote “completely unfair.”

Hundreds of observers were barred from monitoring the process. Many thousands of Kurds displaced by fighting had no address and couldn’t vote, according to the Turkish Independent Election Monitoring Network.

Opposition members were intimidated, bullied, publicly beaten, several shot by unknown assailants.

Western governments reacted cautiously to Erdogan’s victory, awaiting an OSCE assessment of Sunday’s process.

EU rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri minced no words, saying

“(t)his is a sad day for all democrats in Turkey.”

“It is clear that the country cannot join the EU with a constitution that doesn’t respect the separation of powers and has no checks and balances.”

“If the package is implemented unchanged, this will have to lead to the formal suspension of the EU accession talks. Continuing to talk about Turkey’s integration into Europe under the current circumstances has become a farce.”

Washington withheld comment, pending the OSCE’s assessment. Turkish opposition figures reject announced referendum results, demanding a partial recount.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused the Supreme Council of Elections of violating electoral law principles by accepting unofficially sealed voting papers, saying:

“We don’t find it right. We don’t accept this. The rules cannot be changed while a match is being played. But the (election watchdog) changed the rules after the polls were closed.”

Deputy CHP leader Erdal Aksunger said

“(s)ince this morning, there has been serious chaos all over Turkey.”

“The Supreme Board of Elections has declared that the board will deem ballots without official seals as valid” – a serious election law breach.

“This is a clear manipulation” before official results were announced. He claimed around “2.5 million problematic votes,” wants up to 60% of ballots recounted.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) wants two-thirds of votes recounted.

Under hardline Erdogan rule, democracy was already absent before Sunday’s vote. Following the outcome, it’s entirely abandoned if the results hold.

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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Trump Invades Somalia

April 17th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Bookmakers must be wondering how many wars he’ll wage during his tenure.

He continues Bush/Cheney/Obama wars, escalated them in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, likely intends more combat troops for Afghanistan, threatens nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, and targets Somalia for the first time since US forces were withdrawn in 1994.

Sending dozens, perhaps scores, even hundreds of US combat troops isn’t exactly an invasion. Besides, US special forces operated there at times for years – illegally on the territory of another country.

Big things usually start small. US forces in Somalia may signal many more to come. Obama waged a covert drone war on the strategically important Horn of Africa.

It’s near the Bab el-Mandeb strait chokepoint separating Yemen from Eritrea. Millions of barrels of oil flow through it to the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

AFRICOM claims US forces are there “to assist our allies and partners” combat al-Shabab, falsely designated a foreign terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda.

Its members are combating the Mogadishu-based US-installed puppet regime.

Pentagon forces began arriving in early April. Last month, AFRICOM commander General Thomas Waldhauser sought White House approval for airstrikes and ground attacks on al-Shabab fighters – vowing not to turn Somalia into a “free fire zone.”

Trump escalated deployments of US special forces and other combat troops in multiple theaters, including northern and central Africa.

Wherever US forces show up, mass slaughter and destruction follow. Somalia looks like Trump’s latest battleground, surely not his last new one.

Belligerence he launched so far suggests much more to come in current and new theaters.

America’s anti-interventionist candidate U-turned as president.

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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Selected Articles: The Dangers of Nuclear War

April 17th, 2017 by Global Research News

Report from the UN: The US, UK, France and South Korea Are In Violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

By , April 17, 2017

The morning of March 27, 2017 US Ambassador Nikki Haley, accompanied by the Ambassadors of the UK, France and the Republic of Korea held a press stake-out outside the United Nations General Assembly hall, and announced their boycott of the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading to Their Total Elimination.”

Nuclear Experts Speak on the Dangers of War: “In a Nuclear War between the US and Russia, Everybody in the World would Die”

By and , April 17, 2017

If the US and Russia get into a direct military conflict, eventually one side or the other will start to lose. They either then admit defeat or they escalate. And when that happens, the possibility of using nuclear weapons becomes higher. Once nukes start going off, escalation to full-scale nuclear war could happen very quickly.

Video: The Dangers of Nuclear War

By , April 16, 2017

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

US Conducts Successful Field Test Of New Nuclear Bomb

By , April 16, 2017

With the world still abuzz over the first ever deployment of the GBU-43/B “Mother Of All Bombs” in Afghanistan, where it reportedly killed some 36 ISIS fighters, in a less noticed statement the US National Nuclear Security Administration quietly announced overnight the first successful field test of the modernized, “steerable” B61-12 gravity thermonuclear bomb in Nevada.

What Would a US-European-Russian War Look Like? The End-of-World Scenario. The Real Danger of Nuclear War

By , April 16, 2017

Russia has responded by stepping up its military support for Assad. Last Friday, it discontinued its coordination with the US aimed at avoiding encounters between US and Russian jets and announced that it would upgrade Syrian missile air defenses, which already include advanced S-400 and S-300 radar/missile batteries. It diverted a frigate with cruise missiles to the Eastern Mediterranean. And it issued a joint statement with the Iranian military warning that it would respond with force to any new act of aggression against Syria.

America’s Peace Making Nukes vs. North Korea’s WMD: Simultaneous Nuclear Weapons Tests by U.S. and North Korea

By , April 15, 2017

The announcement of the B61-12 nuclear bomb tests (which took place a month ago at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada), was made public on exactly the same day (April 13, 2017) as the official (“first time in history”) deployment of  America’s “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) as part of a counter-terrorism operation against the ISIS in the remote highlands of Afghanistan (and two days prior to the North Korean tests which, according to Western sources, had been scheduled for April 15-16).

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Poker and US International Relations

April 17th, 2017 by Marwan Salamah

We all know that Donald Trump (Pres.) is a shrewd and street-smart business wheeler-dealer. And we also know that bluffing and bullying are essential tools of street business – as well as poker. However, for these tools to work successfully, they must be accompanied by a clear vision and specific objectives. Otherwise, they soon spend themselves out and lose their effectiveness.

Bluffing, is a short-term tactic and assumes the stupidity or the naivete, of the opposing party. Also, it cannot be repeated, because opponents soon wise up and call the bluff. Then what?

As for bullying, it basically provides a temporary window through which specific goals may be slipped in. However, it does carry some serious drawbacks, such as the case of the proverbial mouse who, when bullied and pushed into a corner, suddenly turns into a roaring lion. Worse still, is the case where a bully miscalculates, and takes on a large bear or dragon.

These tactics may be useful in poker, where the player is dealt different cards and must make a spot call on each hand, thus replacing wisdom and careful judgement with bravado and luck. Of course, it helps if you play cards daily with the same crowd, for you would have had ample time to observe and study their gaming style and psyche under pressure. But if you are playing poker with a new opponent, then you are blind to his strengths and weaknesses, which invariably forces you to experiment, possibly to your detriment.

Poker is not related to International relations. One is short term with high risks, and the other is longer term and avoids risks, or at least tries to reduce them. Nevertheless, they may coexist in semi-primitive societies where the concept of “short term” is a way of life and is usually coupled with comparative military weakness and married to overall ignorance. But linking poker to international relations with more advanced societies, is a recipe for disaster.

The Trump administration is fairly new to international relations. In fact, many of its members have little experience outside party politics, local government, journalism, business and strict military hierarchal command modus operandi. Additionally, they are led by a centralized ultra-sensitive boss who can erratically switch his views and positions according to whim, perceived understanding of events or simply short term objectives and tactics.

No doubt, Trump’s international adversaries have thoroughly studied all the episodes of “The Apprentice” and have profiled him accordingly. So, using poker tactics of bluffing and bullying may not work in this case.

Marwan Salamah, is a Kuwaiti economic consultant and publishes articles on his blog: marsalpost.com 

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America Aggression: A Threat To The World

April 17th, 2017 by Christopher Black

The war machine that is the United States of America, not content with threatening the world with its missile attack on a Syria airbase, not content with massing its forces around the Korean Peninsular and threatening to murder its leaders and massacre its people, not content with its escalating hostility towards Russia and China, decided the world needed one more demonstration of its power today, Thursday, April 13 by dropping its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on an Afghanistan saturated with its bombs.

This demonstration, using a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Blast Bomb (MOAB), that the Americans like to call the ‘mother of all bombs,” weighing almost 22,000 pounds, was dropped from an American C130 transport plane. They claimed to be bombing an “ISIS” base and cave systems. The bomb is meant primarily to destroy large spatial areas but can also penetrate 200 feet of earth and 60 feet of concrete before exploding and so destroy cave and bunker systems.

The news that ISIS is now in Afghanistan may surprise some. The US and others claim that elements of ISIS have “fled” into Afghanistan, from Iraq and Syria, and have clashed with American and allied Afghan forces there, as well as with the Taliban. Just as in Syria, the appearance of ISIS in a region often heralds an attack by America and its allies on the forces they want eliminated, in Syria, the government forces, or its occupation of the territory of a sovereign country it wants to break apart.

In Afghanistan it seems the Americans either need a force to counter the Taliban forces that have succeeded in gaining some legitimacy internationally or they are just relabeling Afghan resistance forces as ISIS to try to justify their claim that their world mission is to eliminate ISIS. One could think that instead of fleeing into Afghanistan, the ISIS units, if they are really going there, are not fleeing but being sent there by the nation that claims to hunt them. But we have to suspect that ISIS now fills in for “communist” in the new American order and wherever there is resistance to that order, then there is ISIS. How long will it be before they claim ISIS elements are operating in Russia and Iran and so the chase has to continue there as well?

Nevertheless this was the excuse the Americans have given for using the “mother of all bombs” for the first time in combat and it naturally draws the question; was this really just to hit a local guerrilla base or for something else, and I suggest it is something else, a demonstration to North Korea of the capacities of the US forces to destroy large areas and to penetrate bunker systems without using nuclear weapons. It was a warning; this is what is coming from the sky unless you obey our diktats to disarm so that you will be defenceless against us.

It was also a demonstration to the Russians, Pakistanis and Chinese that they ignore American interests in Afghanistan at their peril, as they conduct their peace talks initiative with India, Iran and Afghanistan. The Americans have no interest in the success of that initiative. They want control of Afghanistan and the have just shown, they think, that they are the big shots and they are going to use their big shot weapons to keep it.

The Russians are probably not impressed since they are reputed to have a bomb with four times the blast radius and twice the heat generated by the explosion of the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT- whereas the American device is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT- called the “Father Of All Bombs (FOAB). Still, to anyone experiencing it, the blast would be little different from a nuclear weapon. But the Russians don’t think that dropping these bombs on places to show how strong you are is any way to conduct diplomacy, whereas, for the Americans, threats and violence are diplomacy.

The media were very quick to spread the news of this demonstration, for after all it would serve no purpose to use this huge bomb on a few guerrillas in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, when ordinary mortars and artillery would do the job, unless the world is made to watch the demonstration. And so we have the Mirror in the UK stating,

“It’s a weapon that justifies the use of the word “terrifying” to describe its power and marks a deadly ramping up of America’s military initiative abroad.”

You have to admire the turn of phrase “military initiative abroad” used for “military aggression against the world.” These propagandists are well schooled.

Haaretz stated,

“MOAB is thought to be the most fearsome explosive weapon in the Pentagon’s possession…”

Again, making sure that the reader has to reach for a tranquilizer to calm the nerves after being reduced to a quivering nervous wreck, cowering in fear beneath the shadow of the American flag.

The New York Times, BBC, and all the rest are duly impressed with the “shock” and the “awe” of it and think we should be too, and all the leaders of the nations of the world.

But if they think North Korea or Russia or China are trembling in their boots at the American power they are very mistaken. In fact this demonstration of their power is a demonstration of their fundamental weakness. This weapon is of no practical use in attacking any country with air defence systems since it has to be carried on a lumbering and slow C130 Hercules transport plane.

To be able to use it would require escort planes so it could get close to the target and against any modern air defence system it the planes would be destroyed before the bomb could be used. We saw the American weakness again in the attack on Syria where less than half of the cruise missiles used reached the target. Whether this is due to electronic countermeasure used by the Russian air defence systems in Syria, which seems the most likely reason, or technical faults in these weapons is not yet clear. But losing over half your weapon systems in a few minutes before they even get near the target is not a show of strength but a revelation of the vulnerability of the American war machine.

Yet, the real tragedy of the American action is that it once again proves that the modern era is a wild and apparently aimless struggle between all that is noblest and all that is basest in our common humanity. International law is trampled under American army boots. The United Nations is reduced to a circus in which the Americans and British play destructive clowns. The governments of the NATO war alliance, by their support of the American actions, lies, threats and bullying, are members of a criminal conspiracy to rule the world through brute force. The western news media are reduced to propaganda units of the NATO military forces and the people in general have, through a constant barrage of false information, manipulation, fear, bigotry, and a general ignorance of history and other peoples, become willing dupes of this machine.

Here in Canada the government and press proclaim their slavering support for the American war crimes, and are glorifying the useless slaughter of the First World War as the nation’s “defining moment.” Not the linking of the nation from Atlantic to Pacific by a great railway built at great human cost, nor the defeat of the American invasion in 1812, nor the defeat of the fascists in 1945; no, for they have become the fascists and relish the symbols of death, of slaughter, and all but worship war as our destiny and the death of others as a beautiful thing.

Frankly, I am tired of the debate whether Trump, the new Duce, has “sold out” or been compromised by the war faction in the United States. I think it was clear from the beginning that he would be as destructive as the rest of their leaders. Does it really matter any longer what leader is in charge of the United States? Has there even been a president dedicated to living in peace with the world since that country was founded? Not one. It is long past time to ask why this or that American regime wants war here, there and everywhere. The problem lies much deeper in the American psychology; for we can say that nations have a psychology, a manner of general behaviour and thinking, arising from their history and culture. I will leave that for political philosophers, sociologists and psychologists to examine but the existential fact is the world is faced with a threat to its survival and that threat is the United States of America.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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Real Americans Question 9/11

April 17th, 2017 by Kevin Ryan

These days it’s difficult to remember what values the American people share. That’s because the U.S. government does so many things that seem to contradict basic human values. Wars of aggression, torture, kidnapping and indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and so many other oppressions have become standard operational procedure for the U.S. government. Those who recognize and seek to correct this system of abuse soon realize that the key to doing so is to reveal the truth behind the primary driver for all of them—the crimes of 9/11.

It’s important to know what makes someone an American and what does not. Here are some examples of what does not make someone an American.

  • Loyalty to the flag
  • Respect for the national anthem
  • Serving in the military or honoring military veterans
  • Paying taxes

A person can do these things to any extent possible and it will not make them any more American than they were before they began. Popular culture and corporate media make every effort to present American patriotism as a sum of these kinds of activities but it is easy to see through that false front.

Only one thing makes someone an American and that is support and defense of the U.S. Constitution. The founding fathers of the United States defined Americans as those who are committed to the ideals of the Constitution. To this day, anyone claiming to represent the nation must swear an oath to uphold those ideals.

Each president, when taking office, affirms that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” All congress members must swear or affirm that they will “support and defend the Constitution.”

All new citizens of the United States and every member of the U.S. military must swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” and that they “will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

The U.S. Constitution is comprised of articles that spell out the government’s powers and the process of making amendments. It also includes the 27 amendments that exist today. The first ten amendments, ratified four years after the original text, are known as the Bill of Rights. These include the freedoms of speech, religion, and the press. Also, there are the rights to bear arms, to privacy, and to a speedy and public trial. The rejection of cruel and unusual punishment is another basic tenet of the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, virtually every Article and Amendment of the Constitution has been under attack since September 11, 2001. Yet very few people have risen to support or defend it. In fact, many so-called Americans have encouraged assaults on the core American values.

That abuse began with the violation of Article 1 of the Constitution that rejects starting wars of aggression without having been “actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Instead of working to determine what actually happened on 9/11 and thereby defend the nation, the Bush Administration immediately invaded Afghanistan, a country that it had planned to invade long before the 9/11 attacks. Sixteen months later, the government invaded Iraq based on what everyone now knows was a pack of lies.

Americans who questioned that anti-American approach were silenced with claims that they were not “supporting the troops” if they did not consent to the growing greed-fueled militarism. The Afghanistan invasion was coupled with the passing of the Patriot Act—an attack on basic Constitutional rights and a failure to preserve those rights as described in Article 2.

In 2006, national polls showed that over one third of Americans believed that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so that the United States could go to war in the Middle East. At the same time, Americans witnessed a growing list of abuses of their Constitutional rights. These abuses violated the Bill of Rights in nearly every way and were driven by unproven claims about what happened on September 11, 2001.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Center for Constitutional Rights described how the Constitution had been shredded based on assumptions about the 9/11 attacks. By then, it had also become clear that the government was actually giving aid and comfort to the enemy (violating Article 3) through arming and training terrorists. One might think it obvious that stopping such actions would be the goal of all Americans but to do so one Congress member has had to spell it out in legislation.

Failing to protect Americans against domestic violence (a violation of Article 4), the FBI was found to actually be manufacturing terrorism. It was further learned that some FBI leaders had been facilitating or sponsoring terrorism since long before 9/11. This practice continues today and the manufactured plots have become so obvious that officials are finding it difficult to explain why Americans should take them seriously.

Attorney and author John W. Whitehead has detailed the continuing attacks on the Bill of Rights by writing that,

“What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time—Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and now ISIS—but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.”

The attacks on American values have been so extensive that people often no longer notice how bad it has become. For example, the government has named those captured and tortured in the name of 9/11 as “forever prisoners”—a term that exemplifies the hatred of freedom represented by the new phony Americanism. The fact that one of these men was a central character in building the official account of 9/11 and has since been exonerated for any involvement in those crimes makes no difference.

How can real Americans respond to this ongoing assault against the Constitution by flag-waving, militaristic, greed-driven fools? How can we “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” by “bearing true faith and allegiance to the same?”

To end the wave of anti-Americanism that began with the crimes of 9/11, Americans have two options. The first is to stand up publicly and fight the attacks on our Constitution by helping everyone understand that the crimes of 9/11 have not been solved. In fact, there are still so many unanswered questions about those crimes that everything done in “response” is almost certainly a crime in itself.

The second option is to end the tyranny through revolution. This was how America began, of course, and that great beginning is enshrined in the precursor to the Constitution—the Declaration of Independence. At the time, the founders stated that, “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

As Americans it is our duty to throw off the tyrannical abuses of power that are threatening to end America. That duty starts with questioning 9/11—the driver behind all of it.

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The West and its allies support terrorism. This is known and documented and obfuscated and omitted and denied by mainstream media narratives, all of which serve as propaganda organs for dark state megalomaniacs infesting Washington.

In its grand design to impose full spectrum, total control over the globe, U.S-led NATO is destroying humanity and the rule of international law on a daily basis, committing the supreme international crime of aggression, as outline by Nuremburg Principles.

In its wake, the West destroys countries and human rights with intent.

The notions of “humanitarian interventions” and “Responsibility To Protect” are fake covers to sell wars of aggression, to destroy human rights, to impose misogyny, to destroy and colonize political economies, to impoverish, to create cheap labour markets, and to plunder.

These dark state agendas are realized by so-called “Islamist militants” who specialize in committing anti-Islamic crimes which include sex slavery, organ harvesting, drug trafficking, and mass murder.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky explains the genesis of these proxies in “Al Qaeda and the ‘War on Terrorism’ “:

In 1979 the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA was launched in Afghanistan:

“With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI, who wanted to turn the Afghan Jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan’s fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually, more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad.” (Ahmed Rashid, “The Taliban: Exporting Extremism”, Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999).

This project of the US intelligence apparatus was conducted with the active support of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which was entrusted in channeling covert military aid to the Islamic brigades and financing, in liaison with the CIA, the madrassahs and Mujahideen training camps.

Julie Levesque adds in “From Afghanistan To Syria: Women’s Rights, War Propaganda and the CIA” that

 (i)t was the US which installed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996, a foreign policy strategy which resulted in the demise of Afghan women’s rights:

Under NSDD 166, US assistance to the Islamic brigades channeled through Pakistan was not limited to bona fide military aid. Washington also supported and financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the process of religious indoctrination, largely to secure the demise of secular institutions.

The recent terrorist attack against innocent civilians being transported out of Fua and Kefraya, located in the largely terrorist-occupied area of Idlib, is the work of NATO’s terrorists.

NATO and its dark state manipulators in Washington want war and chaos, not peace.

The explosion of the MOAB bomb in terrorist-infested Afghanistan also serves these dark, criminal agendas.

The bomb’s target were CIA –built tunnels, formerly used by Western-supported, drug-trafficking “Islamic” terrorists when the West was illegally combating the Russian-backed secular government in Afghanistan.

The explosion, like the mass-murdering bombs dropped on civilians in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, is a warning to the world of law and order and human rights that the West intends to continue its agenda of world domination and destruction for the perceived benefit of transnational oligarch classes.

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The morning of March 27, 2017 US Ambassador Nikki Haley, accompanied by the Ambassadors of the UK, France and the Republic of Korea held a press stake-out outside the United Nations General Assembly hall, and announced their boycott of the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading to Their Total Elimination.” The historic disarmament conference had opened that morning. Plans for that same conference, designated as UN General Assembly Resolution  L.41, had been opposed by the Obama administration on October 27, 2016.

Ambassador Haley disingenuously referred to the nuclear status of North Korea in an attempt to legitimize the bad-faith boycott, but the falsity of her position is exposed by the fact that North Korea, at that October 27, 2016 conference, had voted “Yes” in support of  Resolution L.41:“Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations.” North Korea was among the 123 United Nations member states who voted to support the resolution to create a legally binding treaty to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. This is the very same resolution opposed by the Obama Administration.

The United Nations is one of the most sacrosanct forums for establishing international legal mechanisms. The legitimacy of this conference to enact the prohibition against nuclear weapons was endorsed by the majority of UN member states, and the imperative need for this legal instrument was emphatically emphasized on September 26, 2016 by this same majority of UN member states.

Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states:

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The categorical refusal by the US, the UK, France and the ROK to participate in this ongoing United Nations conference is an egregious act of bad faith, a gross violation of Article VI of the NPT, and a violation of the core purpose of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty itself.

Further, the US is in blatant violation of Article 1 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which states:

“Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices.”

In flagrant violation of Article 1 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the US is, with impunity, transferring its B61-12 nuclear bombs to the territories of five non-nuclear weapon states participating in NATO:  Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey. NATO itself is thereby in violation of the NPT.

The Conference is currently discussing including a prohibition on financing the production of nuclear weapons. At this time, according to the Dutch organization PAX, at least 390 financial institutions are investors in the nuclear weapons industries. Many pension plans, unbeknownst to, and in violation of the wishes of many elderly and retired pension holders, are investors in the production of nuclear weapons, frequently against the interests and will of the holders  of these pensions.

Investment in nuclear weapons is immensely profitable, and this largely explains why countries, such as the US, the UK and France, whose economic systems are based on profit-maximization, are so fiercely opposed to this Conference and the resultant treaty it will produce, which will codify the illegitimacy and illegality of nuclear weapons, ultimately stigmatizing the nuclear weapons states, and identifying them as violators of the human rights of the citizens of the non-nuclear weapons states. The probability that this conference will result in the creation and enactment of international law prohibiting the possession and production of nuclear weapons, threatens the moral legitimacy of the nuclear weapons states, and may ultimately condemn them as criminals in violation of international law.This explains the ferocity of their opposition to this conference.

The enormous hypocrisy of the countries boycotting this conference, while simultaneously condemning North Korea for its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons to defend itself from the danger of annihilation by these same countries boycotting the conference, cannot be ignored. The paranoid demonization of North Korea by those very same countries that categorically oppose any restriction on their own possession and use of nuclear weapon,  is a brutal injustice and a falsification of reality. The negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons is the first step toward eliminating this horrific injustice, and freeing the non-nuclear states from the Sword of Damocles  imposed upon them by the nine states possessing nuclear weapons, the deadliest of all weapons of mass destruction.

The decisive session of this conference will be held from June 15 to June 23. One can only hope that the United States will participate in this conference. The United States was the first country to produce nuclear weapons, and the only country to use them. It will only be when the United States abandons nuclear weapons that the rest of the world can also disarm, and transfer its resources to peaceful purposes. This is imperative, because a nuclear winter, resulting from even a “limited” nuclear war would render this planet uninhabitable. A nuclear war, unlike the use of biological or chemical weapons, outlawed by current treaties, would obliterate all life on earth.

Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y.

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Two smaller cities in the northern “rebel”-controlled Idleb governate, Al Foa and Kafriya, have been under “rebel” siege for over two years. Local government aligned forces are defending them. The civilian inhabitants are of Shia believe and seen by the sectarian Sunni “rebels” as unbelievers only worthy of death. The cities are supplied by airdrops from government helicopters.

Meanwhile two “rebel” controlled cities near Damascus, Zabadani and Madaya, in the south are held under siege by government forces. They are sparsely supplied by UN and Red Cross convoys. Over the years a tit-for-tat of revenge acts bound the fate of the four cities. In total some 20-30,000 people are effected. A wide ranging agreement was needed to solve the unsustainable situation.

In December an agreement had allowed for the exchange of wounded civilians. When buses were on their way to evacuated elderly and wounded from the two northern cities they were torched by some rebel group. New buses had to be send but in the end the exchange worked out.

Last week a new agreement had been reached about a complete population exchange of the cities. All inhabitants of the northern cities were to be brought to government held areas. All inhabitants of the southern cities to the “rebel” held areas. Iran, speaking for the Syrian government, and Qatar, a financer of the radical “rebels”, negotiated the deal. There are many other issues involved in the deal including Qatari hostages held by Shia groups in Iraq, very large payment from Qatar to “rebel” groups (al-Qaeda) and some non-disclosed items.

“Rebel” groups in Idelb government are either aligned with al-Qaeda in Syria or with the Qatari sponsored Ahrar al Sham. Ahrar al-Sahm is the group responsible for the execution of the negotiated population exchange. Parts of al-Qaeda have publicly disagreed with the deal.

Yesterday some 5,000 inhabitants of the northern cities, mainly women and children, were brought by bus convoy to the government held city of Aleppo but were stopped while still in the “rebel” controlled area. Inhabitants from the southern city had been brought up to Aleppo and were kept under government guard. Some additional negotiations about a minor issue were going on.

The civilians in their buses, mostly elderly, women and children, were guarded by “rebels” of Ahrar al Sham. They were hungry. Someone appeared on the scene and distributed crisps. When children flocked around the food distribution a blue car drove up and a very large explosion occurred. Four buses full of people and a number of cars were totally destroyed (Pics: 1, 2, 3)

127 of the civilians, only a mile or two from the safe government area, were killed in the suicide attack including 95 children. Many more were wounded. An unknown number of Ahrar al Sham “rebel” guards were also killed. There is no serious disagreement about what happened.

It is obvious that the suicide attack was committed by al-Qaeda in Syria. No government aligned element could have crossed into rebel held territory. The government aligned forces have not committed any suicide attacks while al-Qaeda as well as Ahrar al Sham have committed hundreds. This was a “rebel” suicide attack, likely by al-Qaeda, against government aligned civilian refugees.

But the BBC, CNN and other western media will not tell you that. CNN called the massacre “a hiccup”. The first Washington report was illustrated with a pastoral scene of “Shias” walking in a green field.  The write-ups disguise to the average reader on which side that vast numbers of casualties of the incident were. They will not say who the likely culprits are. Some insinuate, against all logic, that the government did it.

The most recent BBC report on the massacre is one of the worst of this propaganda genre. Assume for a moment you have not read the above, only the following:

Syria war: ‘At least 68 children among 126 killed’ in bus bombing

At least 68 children were among 126 people killed in Saturday’s bomb attack on buses carrying evacuees from besieged Syrian towns, activists say.

A vehicle filled with explosives hit the convoy near Aleppo.

80% of the readers will only read the headline and maybe the first graphs. Who will they assume killed whom?

Those who actually read further will learn that some of the victims were Shia and that “evacuees from government-held towns were killed, along with aid workers and rebel soldiers.” (Since when are Ahrar’s marauding beheaders “soldiers”? Was this dude also a “soldier”?) The BBC story goes on to insinuates that the government did this because “rebels” could and would not do such:

It happened when a vehicle loaded with food arrived and started distributing crisps, attracting many children, before exploding, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Lina Sinjab said.

She said it was not clear how the vehicle could have reached the area without government permission.

But there is also no evidence that rebels were involved in the attack, as the government claims.

It would not be in the rebels’ interest, our correspondent says, as they were waiting for their own supporters to be evacuated from the other towns.

I have read a lot of anti-Syrian propaganda but never such a vile smear. “It was not clear how the vehicle could have reached the area without [Syrian] government permission.” Well – a vehicle from that area could drive right up to the BBC’s head-office in London, explode and kill many people without “Syrian government permission.” (Maybe one should – just for demonstration purpose.)

It is “rebel” held territory with open borders to Turkey from where they are supplied. Any of the “rebel” groups that committed suicide attacks over the last years has free access to it. The BBC correspondent and her editors know this well. They also know that “rebels” are not united at all and that their interests diverge. It is completely clear who committed this massacre. But the BBC insinuates “the government did it.”

More people died in this attack than in the Khan Sheikhun chemical incident which killed some people in a rebel held area. The incident was likely a false flag attack staged by the “rebels” without involvement of the government side. A Trump NSC report falsely claimed evidence that the Syrian government was the guilty party in that incident and the U.S. then bombed one of the Syrian airports.

95 children were burned and smashed to death in yesterday’s suicide attack. They will not be honored as “beautiful children”, as Trump called two blond babies in a Khan Sheikhun photo. The babies killed yesterday were “pro-regime” evacuees (CNN speak) who do not deserve such honor.

The victims of yesterday’s massacre will get much less media coverage than the few actually documented victims of the Khan Sheikhun incident. That bit they will get will abuse the dead, as BBC does,  to incite against the vast majority of the Syrian people who are with their government.

Damascus decided that the deal and the evacuation should continue despite the massacre. The two cities in Idleb are too exposed and indefensible against a large scale attack. No bigger government operation towards Idleb can take place while they are held hostage.

UPDATE – April 17, 3:00am

Eliah J. Magnier reports (Arabic) further details of the “4 cities” exchange deal.

He tweeted the main steps:

Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
The”four cities deal”includes Qatari hostages, money, prisoners of war, prisoners and corps
The 1st step (evacuating civilians under the age of 15) was concluded.
The 2d step will evacuate all militants
The 3d step will include the exchange of prisoners held by Damascus, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda corps and prisoners
The 4th step will incl the release of Qatari hostages held in Iraq (not yet released) & the payment of ransom to AQ.

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Did Al Qaeda Fool the White House Again?

April 17th, 2017 by Robert Parry

In Official Washington, words rarely mean what they say. For instance, if a U.S. government official voices “high confidence” in a supposed “intelligence assessment,” that usually means “we don’t have any real evidence, but we figure that if we say ‘high confidence’ enough that no one will dare challenge us.”

It’s also true that after a U.S. President or another senior official jumps to a conclusion that is not supported by evidence, the ranks of government careerists will close around him or her, making any serious or objective investigation almost impossible. Plus, if the dubious allegations are directed at some “enemy” state, then the mainstream media also will suppress skepticism. Prestigious “news” outlets will run “fact checks” filled with words in capital letters: “MISLEADING”; “FALSE”; or maybe “FAKE NEWS.”

Which is where things stand regarding President Trump’s rush to judgment within hours about an apparent chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib province on April 4. Despite the fact that much of the information was coming from Al Qaeda and its propaganda-savvy allies, the mainstream U.S. media rushed emotional images onto what Trump calls “the shows” – upon which he says he bases his foreign policy judgments – and he blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the scores of deaths, including “beautiful little babies,” as Trump declared.

Given the neocon/liberal-interventionist domination of Official Washington’s foreign policy – and the professional Western propaganda shops working for Assad’s overthrow – there was virtually no pushback against the quick formulation of this new groupthink. All the predictable players played their predictable parts, from The New York Times to CNN to the Atlantic Council-related Bellingcat and its “citizen journalists.”

Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. December 16, 2015. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

All the Important People who appeared on the TV shows or who were quoted in the mainstream media trusted the images provided by Al Qaeda-related propagandists and ignored documented prior cases in which the Syrian rebels staged chemical weapons incidents to implicate the Assad government.

‘We All Know’

One smug CNN commentator pontificated, “we all know what happened in 2013,” a reference to the enduring conventional wisdom that an Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus was carried out by the Assad government and that President Obama then failed to enforce his “red line” against chemical weapons use. This beloved groupthink survives even though evidence later showed the operation was carried out by rebels, most likely by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front with help from Turkish intelligence, as investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported and brave Turkish officials later confirmed.

But Official Washington’s resistance to reality was perhaps best demonstrated one year ago when The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published a detailed article about Obama’s foreign policy that repeated the groupthink about Obama shrinking from his “red line” but included the disclosure that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had informed the President that U.S. intelligence lacked any “slam dunk” evidence that Assad’s military was guilty.

President Obama in the Oval Office.

One might normally think that such a warning from DNI Clapper would have spared Obama from the media’s judgment that he had chickened out, especially given the later evidence pointing the finger of blame at the rebels. After all, why should Obama have attacked the Syrian military and killed large numbers of soldiers and possibly civilians in retaliation for a crime that they had nothing to do with – and indeed an offense for which the Assad government was being framed? But Official Washington’s propaganda bubble is impervious to inconvenient reality.

Nor does anyone seem to know that a United Nations report disclosed testimonies from eyewitnesses about how rebels and their allied “rescue workers” had staged one “chlorine attack” so it would be blamed on the Assad government. Besides these Syrians coming forward to expose the fraud, the evidence that had been advanced to “prove” Assad’s guilt included bizarre claims from the rebels and their friends that they could tell that chlorine was inside a “barrel bomb” because of the special sound that it made while it was descending.

Despite the exposure of that one frame-up, the U.N. investigators – under intense pressure from Western governments to give them something to pin on the Assad regime – accepted rebel claims about two other alleged chlorine attacks, an implausible finding that is now repeatedly cited by the Western media even as it ignores the case of the debunked “chlorine attack.” Again, one might think that proof of two staged chemical weapons attacks – one involving sarin and the other chlorine – would inject some skepticism about the April 4 case, but apparently not.

All that was left was for President Trump to “act presidential” and fire off 59 Tomahawk missiles at some Syrian airbase on April 6, reportedly killing several Syrian soldiers and nine civilians, including four children, collateral damage that the mainstream U.S. media knows not to mention in its hosannas of praise for Trump’s decisiveness.

Home-Free Groupthink

There might be some pockets of resistance to the groupthink among professional analysts at the CIA, but their findings – if they contradict what the President has already done – will be locked away probably for generations if not forever.

In other words, the new Assad-did-it groupthink appeared to be home free, a certainty that The New York Times could now publish without having to add annoying words like “alleged” or “possibly,” simply stating Assad’s guilt as flat-fact.

Thomas L. Friedman, the Times’ star foreign policy columnist, did that and then extrapolated from his certainty to propose that the U.S. should ally itself with the jihadists fighting to overthrow Assad, a position long favored by U.S. “allies,” Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria?” Friedman asked before proposing outright support for the jihadists: “We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.”

So, not only have the mainstream U.S. media stars decided that they know what happen on April 4 in a remote Al Qaeda-controlled section of Idlib province (without seeing any real evidence) but they are now building off their groupthink to propose that the Trump administration hand out antiaircraft missiles to the “anti-Assad rebels” who, in reality, are under the command of Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State.

In other words, Friedman and other deep thinkers are advocating material support for terrorists who would get sophisticated American ground-to-air missiles that could shoot down Russian planes thus exacerbating already dangerous U.S.-Russian tensions or take down some civilian airliner as Al Qaeda has done in the past. If someone named Abdul had made such a suggestion, he could expect a knock on his door from the FBI.

Expert Skepticism

Yet, before President Trump takes Friedman’s advice – arming up Al Qaeda and entering into a de facto alliance with Islamic State – we might want to make sure that we aren’t being taken in again by a clever Al Qaeda psychological operation, another staged chemical weapons attack.

With the U.S. intelligence community effectively silenced by the fact that the President has already acted, Theodore Postol, a technology and national security expert at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, undertook his own review of the supposed evidence cited by Trump’s White House in issuing a four-page “intelligence assessment” on April 11 asserting with “high confidence” that Assad’s military delivered a bomb filled with sarin on the town of Khan Sheikdoun on the morning of April 4.

Postol, whose analytical work helped debunk Official Washington’s groupthink regarding the 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus, expressed new shock at the shoddiness of the latest White House report (or WHR). Postol produced “a quick turnaround assessment” of the April 11 report that night and went into greater detail in an addendum on April 13, writing:

“This addendum provides data that unambiguously shows that the assumption in the WHR that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct. This egregious error raises questions about every other claim in the WHR. … The implication of this observation is clear – the WHR was not reviewed and released by any competent intelligence expert unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report.

“The WHR also makes claims about ‘communications intercepts’ which supposedly provide high confidence that the Syrian government was the source of the attack. There is no reason to believe that the veracity of this claim is any different from the now verified false claim that there was unambiguous evidence of a sarin release at the cited crater. … The evidence that unambiguously shows that the assumption that the sarin release crater was tampered with is contained in six photographs at the end of this document.”

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

Postol notes that one key photo “shows a man standing in the alleged sarin-release crater. He is wearing a honeycomb facemask that is designed to filter small particles from the air. Other apparel on him is an open necked cloth shirt and what appear to be medical exam gloves. Two other men are standing in front of him (on the left in the photograph) also wearing honeycomb facemask’s and medical exam gloves.

“If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin. The fact that these people were dressed so inadequately either suggests a complete ignorance of the basic measures needed to protect an individual from sarin poisoning, or that they knew that the site was not seriously contaminated.

“This is the crater that is the centerpiece evidence provided in the WHR for a sarin attack delivered by a Syrian aircraft.”

Photograph of men in Khan Sheikdoun in Syria, allegedly inside a crater where a sarin-gas bomb landed.

No ‘Competent’ Analyst

After reviewing other discrepancies in photos of the crater, Postol wrote:

“It is hard for me to believe that anybody competent could have been involved in producing the WHR report and the implications of such an obviously predetermined result strongly suggests that this report was not motivated by a serious analysis of any kind.

“This finding is disturbing. It indicates that the WHR was probably a report purely aimed at justifying actions that were not supported by any legitimate intelligence. This is not a unique situation. President George W. Bush has argued that he was misinformed about unambiguous evidence that Iraq was hiding a substantial amount of weapons of mass destruction. This false intelligence led to a US attack on Iraq that started a process that ultimately led to a political disintegration in the Middle East, which through a series of unpredicted events then led to the rise of the Islamic State.”

Postol continued:

“On August 30, 2013, the White House [under President Obama] produced a similarly false report about the nerve agent attack on August 21, 2013 in Damascus. This report also contained numerous intelligence claims that could not be true. An interview with President Obama published in The Atlantic in April 2016 indicates that Obama was initially told that there was solid intelligence that the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Ghouta, Syria. Obama reported that he was later told that the intelligence was not solid by the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

“Equally serious questions are raised about the abuse of intelligence findings by the incident in 2013. Questions that have not been answered about that incident is how the White House produced a false intelligence report with false claims that could obviously be identified by experts outside the White House and without access to classified information. There also needs to be an explanation of why this 2013 false report was not corrected. …

“It is now obvious that a second incident similar to what happened in the Obama administration has now occurred in the Trump administration. In this case, the president, supported by his staff, made a decision to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. This action was accompanied by serious risks of creating a confrontation with Russia, and also undermining cooperative efforts to win the war against the Islamic State. …

“I therefore conclude that there needs to be a comprehensive investigation of these events that have either misled people in the White House, or worse yet, been perpetrated by people seeking to force decisions that were not justified by the cited intelligence. This is a serious matter and should not be allowed to continue.”

While Postol’s appeal for urgent attention to this pattern of the White House making false intelligence claims – now implicating three successive administrations – makes sense, the likelihood of such an undertaking is virtually nil. The embarrassment and loss of “credibility” for not only the U.S. political leadership but the major U.S. news outlets would be so severe, especially in the wake of the WMD fiasco in Iraq, that no establishment figure or organization would undertake such a review.

Another photo of the crater containing the alleged canister that supposedly disbursed sarin in Khan Sheikdoun, Syria, on April 4, 2017.

Instead, Official Washington’s propaganda bubble will stay firmly in place allowing its inhabitants to go happily about their business believing that they are the caretakers of “truth.”

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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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

Since the April 6 cruise missile strike by the Trump administration against a Syrian airbase, tensions between the United States and the European powers and Russia are at their highest level since the cold war. The rhetoric from the US and its allies has centered on defending the unprovoked attack while Russia has responded by increasing its military support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The most recent escalation of these tensions is the dropping of a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) by the US military in Afghanistan. A MOAB is a 21,600 pound bomb, the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the US military’s arsenal. It has never before been used in combat.

While the official target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex in Nangarhar Province, the real aim was to demonstrate to Iran, Russia, Syria, North Korea, China and any other nation that gets in the way of American imperialism’s global interests that there are no limits to the violence the US military is prepared to unleash on those it considers its enemies.

What is striking about the media coverage of the increasingly acute geopolitical crisis is the lack of discussion–whether it be the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News, MSNBC or CNN–of the consequences of a nuclear exchange. The next step up from a MOAB is a low-yield tactical thermonuclear warhead, a weapon that is at least an order of magnitude more destructive. Yet no one in the corporate media has asked: What would happen if such weapons were used in Syria, Iran or North Korea, let alone Russia or China?

This raises two further questions: How close is the current situation to one in which there is a clash and military escalation between the US and Russia that leads to nuclear war? How many people would die in such a conflict?

To shed light on these question, the World Socialist Web Site spoke separately with two experts on the dangers of nuclear war, Steven Starr and Greg Mello.

**

Steven Starr is a senior scientist at Physicians for Social Responsibility and an associate with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His articles on the environmental dangers of nuclear war have appeared in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the publication of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies.

World Socialist Web Site: In your opinion, how real is the danger of a military conflict between the US and Russia over Syria or with China over North Korea?

Steven Starr: I think there is a very significant danger of that happening. The Russians are allied with [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and have been beating ISIS. They’ve won back Aleppo and it’s made the US media and political establishment hysterical, because that’s not how they wanted the war to end. Trump campaigned for a detente with Russia, for a non-interventionist policy. When [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was in Turkey, he said that Assad could stay. But five days after that, the US launched cruise missiles at Syria.

As a result of the attack of 59 cruise missiles by the US on a Syrian airbase, we’ve basically destroyed relations with Russia. We’ve crossed the Rubicon. Russia has suspended the 2015 aviation safety memorandum that had provided 24/7 communication channels aimed at preventing dangerous encounters between US and Russian aircraft. This will give the Russians in Syria the right to decide whether to shoot or not to shoot at US planes. The Russians already own the Syrian airspace and they have stated that they are going to increase Syrian air defense capacity. What happens when US planes start getting shot down by the Russians?

WSWS: One thing worth contrasting is the completely dishonest and false reporting by the corporate media and the scale of the consequences of the policies being pursued. As bad as it is to pump out propaganda on behalf of the American political establishment, when you are pursuing a policy that will result in the destruction of the planet, it assumes a new dimension.

SS: From my perspective, the international “news” published by the papers of record has mostly become propaganda, especially after the events in Ukraine and Crimea in 2014. While you always expect bias in each country’s news reporting, Western media no longer seems constrained by the need to provide hard evidence to support their arguments and allegations. There has been no investigation about the chemical attack in Syria–Trump launched the missile strike before any investigation could be carried out.

The CIA is deeply involved in this process. There are only six megacorporations that control 90 percent of US and Western media, and they do not publish stories that are contrary to Washington’s official party line. Censorship by omission with no dissent permitted is the defining characteristic of what we hear today. The use of “official sources” without supporting factual evidence creates a false narrative that is used to support US military actions.

As a result, there has been a deafening silence in the media about what the consequences of what a war with Russia might mean. When have you heard mainstream media have any discussion about the consequences of a nuclear war with Russia?

WSWS: What would happen if there was another US attack on Syria, perhaps following another manufactured chemical weapons attack?

SS: The situation could escalate very quickly, especially since relations between the US and Moscow have deteriorated to their worst state in history. One report I’ve read is that there are plans to deploy 150,000 US troops to Syria. Given that there are Russian and Iranian troops in Syria (at the request of the Syrian government), it would be an incredibly stupid decision for the US to send large military forces to Syria. It would be very hard to avoid WWIII.

If the US and Russia get into a direct military conflict, eventually one side or the other will start to lose. They either then admit defeat or they escalate. And when that happens, the possibility of using nuclear weapons becomes higher. Once nukes start going off, escalation to full-scale nuclear war could happen very quickly.

WSWS: How catastrophic would that be?

SS: The US and Russia each have about 1,000 strategic nuclear weapons of at least 100 kilotons, all ready to launch within two to 15 minutes. Since it takes about nine minutes for a missile from a US submarine to hit Moscow, this means that the Russian government could retaliate. And these are only the missiles that are on a hair trigger alert.

The US and Russia have 3,500 deployed and operational strategic nuclear weapons (each with a minimum explosive power of 100,000 tons of TNT) that they can detonate within an hour. They have another 4,600 nuclear weapons in reserve, ready for use. There are about 300 cities in the US and about 200 cities in Russia with populations greater than 100,000 people. Given how many nuclear weapons there are, it’s a large chance that most large cities would be hit.

Probably 30 percent of US and Russian populations would be killed in the first hour. A few weeks after the attack, radioactive fallout would kill another 50 percent or more.

Nuclear winter, one of the long-term environmental consequences of nuclear war, would probably cause most people on the planet to die of starvation within a couple years of a large US-Russian nuclear war. The global stratospheric smoke layer produced by nuclear firestorms would block most sunlight from reaching the surface of earth, producing Ice Age weather conditions that would last for at least 10 years.

Another rarely discussed consequence of nuclear war is high altitude electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. A large nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude (100-200 miles high) will produce an enormous pulse of electrical energy, which will destroy electronic circuits in an area of tens of thousands of square miles below the blast. A single detonation over the US East Coast would destroy the grid and cause every nuclear power plant affected by EMP to melt down. Imagine 60 Fukushimas happening at the same time in the US.

**

Greg Mello is the secretary and executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, an organization that has researched the dangers of nuclear war and advocated for disarmament since 1989. His research and analysis have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and Issues in Science and Technology.

WSWS: What role have the Democrats played in the increased tensions between the US and Russia over Syria?

Gregg Mello: Even as recently as 2013, when there was a fake chemical weapon attack in Syria, I don’t think the Democrats were as “on board” with war as they are today. But now, as a result of the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the Russia-baiting and the neo-McCarthyite hyperbole has really ratcheted up, marginalizing even those within the party who express any amount of skepticism about the official story, such as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. And this is someone who went to Syria to find out what was really going on. She found that the majority of people in Syria want the US to stop funding the rebels and are happy with the Assad government’s efforts to oust Al Qaeda and ISIS. But she’s being silenced.

WSWS: Could you speak on some of the corporate interests involved in this?

GM: Fifty-nine cruise missiles cost a lot of money. Each missile used costs, I guess, between $1 and $1.6 million, so the strike as a whole cost between $60 to $100 million. That doesn’t include the cost of the deployment of the ships and the other elements that make up a strike. It’s probably twice as much, if you include those elements. In terms of the missiles, if they are replaced, that’s income for whatever company replaces them.

Companies also get free advertising from such a strike. I saw the clip from MSNBC’s Brian Williams, who praised the missiles using the Leonard Cohen line, “I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.” That’s a priceless advertising clip, especially when the same images and videos of the missiles are on primetime news and across the Internet. I’m sure their stock values, literally and figuratively, went up.

But even this is peanuts compared to the really high dollar amounts that come from continued tensions with Russia and the US government’s need to dominate the world. We’re talking not about millions of dollars, but billions–really, trillions. To maintain the idea that we should be in every part of the world, the US spends on all components of national defense about $1 trillion a year. So it really adds up quickly.

And the US military just got an increase to its base budget that is comparable to Russia’s entire defense budget. In the US, we spend way more money on the military than all of our potential adversaries combined. That’s where the real money is.

We get NATO to buy the latest versions of military equipment, compatible with ours. All of those arms sales plus our own national purchases are worth trillions. That’s what this strike upholds. A military spending pattern on a colossal scale.

This goes along with the geopolitical questions you mentioned.

WSWS: Could elaborate on the geopolitical questions?

GM: Well, Trump has said that we won’t go into Syria, but there’s no consistent policy on this. Let’s assume there is another strike, will it involve Russia? Will it kill Russians? What will Putin or any other Russian leader feel he needs to do then?

Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton and New York University, noted that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called American and Russian relations “ruined.” And Medvedev is not a hardliner against the West. For him to say that, you can only imagine what the generals and other hardliners are whispering in Putin’s other ear.

If we make another strike, either with a US airplane or a “coalition” airplane, it could easily be shot down by the high end anti-aircraft weapons that Syria and Russia have deployed. This would lead to an outcry from the US political establishment to do more, to double down on our mistake. All in all, it’s difficult to see how an air campaign could have a decisive effect on the war in Syria without creating an extreme risk of escalation between the US and Russia.

Geopolitically, the situation in Syria has gone so far towards Assad remaining in power and the terrorists being pushed out that a serious US attack on Syria would either fail, or else it would really damage Russian interests, humiliate Russia and kill her soldiers along with Assad’s, and therefore tilt the balance toward WWIII.

The idea that the poisonings in Khan Sheikhoun occurred because of chemical weapons or precursors released by a conventional munitions attack on an Al Qaeda weapons warehouse or workshop, which is the report of the Russian government, makes the most sense given everything we know. The notion that Assad or some rogue element in his army dropped chemical weapons on his own people, just when he is winning militarily and politically, is ridiculous.

Now we see that the US does not want the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons involved in an investigation of the attack. Really?

The OPCW is the world’s policeman for chemical weapons, something the US helped create. They got the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for verifying that all of Syria’s chemical weapons had been destroyed. They destroyed them on a US ship. In this case and in every case, the OPCW would carefully study evidence gathered with chain of custody procedures at an accredited laboratory, all of which are essential when matters of war and peace are at stake. It’s the same way you’d collect evidence in a high-profile murder case.

This hasn’t happened for the most recent chemical weapon attack–and the US doesn’t want it to happen. Instead, the US has recently issued a statement of the “facts,” a piece of paper claiming to be from all 17 intelligence agencies, but without letterheads or signatures, which uses weasel words like “we have confidence.” There is no indication what agencies have signed off on this or what actual evidence has been collected. Moreover, an attack like this takes a few weeks to investigate, not a few days.

This all is happening because Syria is one of the more important crossroads between the hydrocarbons of the Middle East and European customers. If you’re going to get oil and natural gas from Qatar to Europe without going through Iran, you have to have pipelines that go through Syria. This is especially important if you don’t want Europe to be dependent on natural gas from Russia, if you want to prevent Germany and Russia and the rest of Asia from further integration economically. The US government does not want Europe dependent on hydrocarbons supplied by Russia or Iran.

So, really, Syria is a proxy war between the US and other regional powers–Iran, allied with Russia–for control over Europe’s gas and oil. In addition, Israel wants control of the Golan Heights in order to drill in that region.

It’s also worth considering that China’s oil production seems to have peaked. The world’s net exports of oil–that is, the oil that can be bought on the international market–are starting to very slowly decline.

Since a barrel of oil will produce more value in countries such as China and India because the workers are paid so much less, China can always outbid the US and Europe for oil. Given a free market, they will. Alongside this problem, the oil-producing countries are using more oil internally as their populations and economies grow, which will inevitably produce a crisis in the availability and affordability of oil. That crisis will be upon us in the 2020s and it implies the potential for great power conflicts over these resources.

You didn’t have this during the Cold War because the US and Russia each had enough resources, as did our allies. But now, the cheap oil is running out and there are no cheap replacements. The potential for conflict, including between nuclear-armed powers, is rising.

WSWS: How many people would die during the first day of such a war?

GM: To a first approximation, in a nuclear war between the US and Russia, everybody in the world would die. Some people in the southern hemisphere might survive, but probably not even them.

Even a couple of nuclear weapons could end the United States as a government and an economy. It wouldn’t take a great deal to destroy the “just in time” supply chains, the financial markets and the Internet. The whole system is very fragile, especially with respect to nuclear weapons. Even in a somewhat limited nuclear war, say a war where only ICBM silos and airfields were targeted, there would be so much fallout from the ICBM fields alone that much of the Midwest would be wiped out, including places like Chicago.

Then there is the problem of the nuclear power plants, which have stored within them and their spent fuel pools and storage areas truly vast amounts of radioactivity. If their electricity supply is interrupted, these plants are quite susceptible to fires and meltdowns, as we saw at Fukushima.

Keep in mind that nuclear war is not one or two Hiroshima-sized bombs. The imagination cannot encompass nuclear war. Nuclear war means nuclear winter. It means the collapse of very fragile electronic, financial, governmental, administrative systems that keep everyone alive. We’d be lucky to reboot in the early 19th century. And if enough weapons are detonated, the collapse of the Earth’s ozone layer would mean that every form of life that has eyes could be blinded. The combined effects of a US-Russian nuclear war would mean that pretty much every terrestrial mammal, and many plants, would become extinct. There would be a dramatic biological thinning.

I think many parts of the US military just don’t get it. I’ve talked to people on the National Security Council and they have the idea that Russia will back down. I begged them, about 18 months ago, to bring in some Cold War era veteran diplomats from the realist school, people like former ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, to try and convince them that Russia won’t just do what we want, that they have their own legitimate interests that we would do well to understand and take into consideration.

WSWS: What are your thoughts on how to deal with the problem of nuclear war?

I would say that the effort to decrease inequality in the world is at the core of dealing with the threat of nuclear war. We have to get the military-industrial-financial complex off people’s backs. If you have so much power concentrated in so few hands, and have such high levels of inequality, the people in power are blinded by their position. They are insulated from society’s problems. So gross inequality–economic and especially political–leads to sort of political stupidity. It could lead to annihilation. The ignorant masses are not the problem. It’s the ignorance and hubris at the top. It always is.

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Afghanistan has gained lead story status in the western corporate and government-sponsored media outlets again for the wrong reasons.

This Central Asia state has been at war since the late 1970s when the United States under the then President Jimmy Carter developed a counter-insurgency program to remove the socialist-oriented administration ruling from Kabul.

Of course today there is largely no mention in these same press agencies about the organization, training, funding and diplomatic cover provided by Washington through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Pentagon and State Department for al-Qaeda (the core) which facilitated the armed struggle waged against the Soviet-backed system in Afghanistan.

With the intervention of the Soviet army in December 1979, the stage was set for continuing interference by successive U.S. administrations from Carter to the present regime of President Donald Trump. Although Trump suggested during his campaign that he would lessen involvement by Washington in geo-political flashpoints ignited by both Republican and Democratic heads-of-state, he also said of the proliferation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that “I will bomb the shit out of them.”

Perhaps this is the sentiment among his supporters that he was appealing to when the decision was made to drop the Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb on tunnels in Afghanistan on April 13. The attack was carried out in the Achin district of Nangahar near the border with Pakistan.

The bomb utilized is technically called the GBU-43 and reportedly weighed 21,000 pounds. It is a GPS-guided weapon and was dropped by the M-130 fighter aircraft.

Although a tactical nuclear weapon is far more powerful and damaging to targets than the MOAB, its usage is clearly a warning not only to the people of Afghanistan as well as those in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The DPRK has been developing and testing its own medium and long range missiles. The DPRK is now a nuclear power and this factor has served as a deterrent to bombings and invasions by the Pentagon and NATO.

Despite the size of the ordinance, Afghan Ministry of Defense spokesperson Dawlat Waziri said

“No civilian has been hurt and only the base, which Daesh used to launch attacks in other parts of the province, was destroyed.”

However, a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report claimed that some 36 Islamic State fighters were killed in the bombing.

Nonetheless, the usual narrative for the imperialist states which engage in such blanket bombings of other countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa is that they only target so-called “terrorists.” More often than not the actual victims of these raids turn out to be civilians who are the most vulnerable within war zones.  The direct U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan has resulted in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands of people. Millions have been dislocated from both countries while the current administration of Trump has no intentions of withdrawing the 9,000 troops still remaining the region.

Imperialist interventions through the Pentagon and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have done tremendous damage to the Central Asia region. The flood of refugees out of this area contributes to the overall crises of displacement and political turmoil extending across Asia to the Middle East and Africa. The countries that have been the most severely impacted are those where U.S. military forces laid waste over a period of decades.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Defies U.S. Imperialism

April 15, 2017 represents the 105th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the DPRK, Kim Il Sung, a nationalist and communist leader who fought against both Japanese and U.S. imperialism for many years. The Korean Revolution grew out of the anti-colonial struggle against Japan and the consolidation of patriotic forces in defense of its independence and sovereignty.

After 1945, Kim Il Sung and other revolutionaries sought to unite the Peninsula under a system of socialist development. Nevertheless, the U.S. had other plans based on its desire to curb Soviet influence in Asia in the aftermath of World War II. The DPRK was founded in September 1948 prompting the antagonism of Washington.

The following year in October 1949, the Communist Party of China took control of the mainland of that Asian state. Moreover, in Vietnam, the forces aligned with Ho Chi Minh had established a revolutionary Democratic Republic in the North and sought to also unify the country under one government in September 1945.

Consequently, the Cold War outlook of the U.S. maneuvered the United Nations to back an invasion into Korea aimed at eradicating the revolutionary government of Kim Il Sung. By June 1950 the imperialists were staging a full scale assault on the country. Later the massive bombing of Korea compelled Mao Tse-tung and the Communist government to back the DPRK in the war against the U.S. The Chinese deployed over 500,000 People’s Volunteer Forces which assisted in beating back the U.S. from establishing full control of the North leading up to the border with China.

An armistice agreement between the U.S. and the DPRK has been in effect since July 1953. This means that the two states are technically still at war. The provocations of Washington have been continuous for decades. During the so-called Korean War the U.S. had threatened to use an atomic bomb against the DPRK and the People’s Republic of China.

Kim Jong Un, the present leader of the DPRK and the grandson of Kim Il Sung and son of Kim Jong Il, has vowed to retaliate in the event of a preemptive strike by the Pentagon. The government has held a series of nuclear missile tests which have illustrated their capacity to inflict damage on U.S. warships, military bases from the Peninsula to Japan.

At present the U.S. is placing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile weapons system in South Korea which serves as a base of imperialist operations in Asia. Both the DPRK and China oppose THAAD. However, the Trump administration is determined to keep this program intact as a way of threatening Pyongyang and Beijing.

The DPRK government under the Worker’s Party (WPK) led by Marshall Kim Jong Un is maintaining its defiance. In an article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 11, it said:

“Service personnel of the Army, Navy, Air and Anti-Aircraft Force of the Korean People’s Army held a ceremony at the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on April 10 to pay high tribute to Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and vow to remain loyal to Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un on the occasion of the Day of the Sun.”

This same report goes on to note that:

“Present there were KPA Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong So, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, KPA Vice Marshal Ri Myong Su, chief of the General Staff of the KPA, Army General Pak Yong Sik, minister of the People’s Armed Forces, and other commanding officers of the KPA.”

Syria War Escalates Under Trump White House

On April 6 news reports revealed that the Pentagon had fired nearly 60 long-range cruise missiles from a U.S. Navy Destroyer into the Sharyat airbase in Syria. This blatant act of aggression was said to be in response to the deaths of people from a putative chemical weapons attack a few days earlier in the village of Khan Sheikhou.

The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad denied any involvement in the attacks and said in an interview with the Agence France Press (AFP) on April 13 that this story was a “fabrication.” Russian Federation foreign ministry officials have called for an independent investigation into the incident where people died from sarin gas. President Assad has also welcomed such an investigation.

U.S. administration spokespersons have provided no concrete evidence that the Syrian Arab Army was at all involved in the attack. The damage to the airfield by the tomahawk missiles was wholly unwarranted and could have easily sparked a wider war involving Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Conclusion 

All of these wars from Afghanistan and Iraq to the Korean Peninsula and Syria were based upon falsehoods and motivated by the desire for geo-political hegemony and the control of strategic resources.

If it is common knowledge that the U.S. manufactures untruths to justify war from the beginning of the post-World War II period through the conclusion of the 20th century and well into the final years of the second decade of the 21st century, it is not beyond reason that the current saber rattling with Afghanistan rebels, the DPRK government and the Syrian state is based upon the same imperialistic aims and objectives.

In addition to the tensions in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, Trump has deployed more U.S. troops to the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia just weeks after he pledged to intensify bombing operations in this oil-rich embattled country. The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in South America is also waging a defensive war against destabilization efforts funded and coordinated by Washington. A massive U.S.-supported campaign to force the resignation of the African National Congress (ANC) government of President Jacob Zuma in the Republic of South Africa has compounded economic uncertainty in the continent’s most industrialized state. Similar to what has been taking place for years in neighboring Zimbabwe the imperialists have never been in support of genuine independence and unity in Africa.

Antiwar and social justice movements in the imperialist countries must oppose Pentagon and NATO interventions in these geo-strategic areas irrespective of the rationales provided by the Trump administration and its allies. In order for genuine peace to be achieved internationally it requires the dismantling of the war machines emanating from Washington, London, Paris and Brussels.

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A convoy of buses evacuating residents from the government-held towns of Foua and Kefraya in Syria’s Idlib province was targeted by a suicide bomber Saturday, claiming the lives of at least 126 civilians. The attack occurred west of Aleppo as the buses made their way to government-controlled areas.

The evacuation of the residents of the two towns began Friday morning and was part of a swap deal agreed between the government of Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces. In exchange for allowing the evacuation of residents from Foua and Kefraya, rebels agreed to resettle the populations of Madaya and Zabadani, two towns they control near Damascus. In total, around 7,250 people were evacuated from the four towns. It was part of a broader plan brokered by Iran and Qatar to move up to 30,000 people over a 60-day period.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is linked to the rebels, 68 children were killed in the blast. Other sources have put the figure as high as 80.

The observatory confirmed the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device carried in a vehicle, backing up an earlier report on Syrian state TV which said the attackers used a van meant for delivering aid to gain access to the area.

An al-Jazeera reporter at the scene described how many of the buses were completely destroyed and dead bodies littered the ground. Ambulances rushed those from the scene who had been injured.

Image result for syrian rebel massacre

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, it occurred in a rebel-controlled area. Ahrar al-Sham, a conservative Islamist militia, condemned the bombing and called for an international investigation to determine who was to blame.

In stark contrast to the moral outrage expressed by politicians and the media in the wake of the alleged gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun earlier this month, which the Trump administration seized upon to launch an illegal missile strike on a Syrian air base, the death of over 100 Syrians in a suicide bombing—substantially more than the number who died in the alleged gas attack—prompted virtually no condemnation from the Western powers.

The US State Department released a weasel-worded statement which, while condemning the killings, sought to strike a pose of impartiality and refused even to identify the rebel Islamist militias as being responsible.

“We deplore any act that sustains or empowers extremists on all sides including today’s attack,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

At a comparable stage in the aftermath of the Khan Sheikhoun incident, just hours after the alleged attack, US government officials had already acted as judge, jury and executioner, and were proclaiming the guilt of the Assad regime without presenting any evidence.

President Donald Trump, who invoked the deaths of “beautiful babies” and the need to defend the “civilized world” in justifying his April 6 cruise missile strike, which killed nine civilians, did not even comment on the bloodbath carried out by forces linked to the American CIA.

For their part, the servile corporate-controlled media reported on the incident, if at all, in a largely routine manner.

The New York Times published a lengthy front-page report concentrating almost exclusively on the crimes committed by Assad during the war, alleging that “the largest number of violations by far has been by the Syrian government.” It criticized the failure to bring government officials before the International Criminal Court in the Hague and blamed Russia for blocking any action by the UN Security Council.

The general indifference shown by the political and media establishment to the victims of this brutal massacre exposes once again the hypocrisy of the crusaders for “human rights” in the United States and the European imperialist powers. It demonstrates the fraudulent character of the propaganda campaign in the wake of the alleged gas attack, designed to conceal the real aims of US imperialist intervention in Syria: regime change in Damascus and the consolidation of Washington’s hegemonic position in the energy-rich Middle East against any challenge from its geopolitical rivals.

The reason for the lack of reaction is not hard to find. While it remains unclear precisely which faction of the rebels carried out the mass slaughter, Washington and its Gulf allies have the main responsibility for arming the collection of right-wing Islamist militias fighting the Assad dictatorship and enabling them to continue the civil war. The opposition is now dominated by the al-Nusra Front, which was formerly affiliated to Al Qaeda.

If any journalist were honest enough to follow the evidence, they would have to apportion a significant part of the blame for the bus convoy bombing to the criminal and reckless policies of US imperialism. More than six years after instigating the Syrian civil war, Washington has the blood of an estimated 500,000 Syrians on its hands.

This does not even take into account the upwards of 1 million people killed as a result of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, the hundreds of thousands of deaths due to wars either led or sponsored by Washington in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and the millions throughout the region forced to flee their homes as a consequence of conflict and societal breakdown.

Image result for syrian rebel massacre

The highly selective concern shown for “human rights” issues by the representatives of US imperialism is nothing new. Saturday’s bombing came less than a month after a single US air strike launched as part of the ruthless onslaught against Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, claimed the lives of as many as 300 civilians sheltering in a basement. This horrific war crime, coming on top of the thousands of civilian deaths that have occurred since the US-backed offensive was launched last October, was largely buried by the media.

The ruling class considers the deaths of civilians to be collateral damage—a price worth paying in their ruthless struggle to uphold US imperialist interests in the Middle East and around the globe. Barely 24 hours after the bus bombing, Trump’s National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster vowed in an ABC News interview that Washington was ready to escalate tensions with Russia still further, not only over Syria, but over Europe as well.

McMaster said of Russia’s alliance with Assad,

“So Russia’s support for that kind of horrible regime, that is a party to that kind of a conflict, is something that has to be drawn into question as well as Russia’s subversive actions in Europe. And so I think it’s time though, now, to have those tough discussions with Russia.”

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Video: The Dangers of Nuclear War

April 16th, 2017 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

First published by Global Research in January 2015

While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality.

The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace.

“Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust, threatening the future of humanity.

Nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled.

Breaking the “big lie”, which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.


Order directly from Global Research

Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War

by Michel Chossudovsky

globalresearch.ca Towards a World War III ScenarioGlobal Research Publishers, Montreal, 2011 and 2012

ISBN Number:978-0-9737147-5-3, 2012, Pages:102

also available in E-book format (2011) (pdf)

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

The object of this book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.

Reviews

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

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

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

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A Government of Morons and War Criminals

April 16th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

It has become embarrassing to be an American. Our country has had four war criminal presidents in succession.

Clinton twice launched military attacks on Serbia, ordering NATO to bomb the former Yugoslavia twice, both in 1995 and in 1999, so that gives Bill two war crimes.

George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and attacked provinces of Pakistan and Yemen from the air. That comes to four war crimes for Bush.

Obama used NATO to destroy Libya and sent mercenaries to destroy Syria, thereby committing two war crimes.

Trump attacked Syria with US forces, thereby becoming a war criminal early in his regime.

To the extent that the UN participated in these war crimes along with Washington’s European, Canadian and Australian vassals, all are guilty of war crimes. Perhaps the UN itself should be arraigned before the War Crimes Tribunal along with the EU, US, Australia and Canada.

Quite a record. Western Civilization, if civilization it is, is the greatest committer of war crimes in human history.

And there are other crimes—Somalia, and Obama’s coups against Honduras and Ukraine and Washington’s ongoing attempts to overthrow the governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

Washington wants to overthrow Ecuador in order to grab and torture Julian Assange, the world’s leading democrat.

These war crimes committed by four US presidents caused millions of civilian deaths and injuries and dispossessed and dislocated millions of peoples, who have now arrived as refugees in Europe, UK, US, Canada, and Australia, bringing their problems with them, some of which become problerms for Europeans, such as gang rapes.

What is the reason for all the death and destruction and the flooding of the West with refugees from the West’s naked violence?

We don’t know. We are told lies: Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” which the US government knew for an absolute fact did not exist. “Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” an obvious, blatant lie. “Iranian nukes,” another blatant lie. The lies about Gaddafi in Libya are so absurd that it is pointless to repeat them.

What were the lies used to justify bombing tribesmen in Pakistan, to bomb a new government in Yemen? No American knows or cares. Why the US violence against Somalia? Again, no Americans knows or cares.

Or the morons saw a movie.

Violence for its own sake. That is what America has become.

Indeed, violence is what America is. There is nothing else there. Violence is the heart of America.

Consider not only the bombings and destruction of countries, but also the endless gratuitous, outrageous police violence against US citizens. If anyone should be disarmed, it is the US police. The police commit more “gun violence” than anyone else, and unlike drug gangs fighting one another for territory, police violence has no other reason than the love of committing violence against other humans. The American police even shoot down 12-year old American kids prior to asking any question, especially if they are black.

Violence is America. America is violence. The moronic liberals blame it on gun owners, but it is always the government that is the source of violence. That is the reason our Founding Fathers gave us the Second Amendment. It is not gun owners who have destroyed in whole or part eight countries. It is the armed-at-taxpayer-expense US government that commits the violence.

America’s lust for violence is now bringing the Washington morons up against people who can commit violence back: the Russians and Chinese, Iran and North Korea.

Image result for bill clinton

Beginning with the Clinton moron every US government has broken or withdrawn from agreements with Russia, agreements that were made in order to reduce tensions and the risk of thermo-nuclear war. Washington initially covered its aggressive steps toward Russia with lies, such as ABM missile sites on Russia’s border are there to protect Europe from (non-existent) Iranian nuclear ICBMs.

The Obama regime still told lies but escalated to false charges against Russia and Russia’s president in order to build tensions between nuclear powers, the antithesis of Ronald Reagan’s policy. Yet moronic liberals love Obama and hate Reagan.

Related imageDid you know that Russia is so powerful and the NSA and CIA so weak and helpless that Russia can determine the outcome of US elections? You must know this, because this is all you have heard from the utterly corrupt Democratic Party, the CIA, the FBI, the Amerian whore media, and the morons who listen to CNN, MSNBC, NPR or read the New York Times and Washington Post.

Surely you have heard at least one thousand times that Russia invaded Ukraine; yet Washington’s puppet still sits in Kiev. One doesn’t have to have an IQ above 90 to understand that if Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukraine would not still be there.

Did you know that the president of Russia, which world polls show is the most respected leader in the world, is, according to Hillary Clinton “the new Hitler”?

Did you know that the most respected leader in the world, Vladimir Putin, is a Mafia don, a thug, a tarantula at the center of a spy web, according to members of the US government who are so stupid that they cannot even spell their own names?

Did you know that Putin, who has refrained from responding aggressively to US provocations, not out of fear, but out of respect for human life, is said to be hellbent on reconstructing the Soviet Empire? Yet, when Putin sent a Russian force against the US and Israeli trained and supplied Georgian army that Washington sent to attack South Ossetia, the Russian Army conquered Georgia in five hours; yet withdrew after teaching the morons the lesson. If Putin wanted to reconstruct the Russian Empire, why didn’t he keep Georgia, a Russian province for 300 years prior to Washington’s breakup of the Russian Empire when the Soviet Union collapsed? Washington was powerless to do anything had Putin declared Georgia to be again part of Russia.

Image result for pompeo

And now we have the embarrassment of Trump’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo, possibly the most stupid person in America. Here we have a moron of the lowest grade. I am not sure there is any IQ there at all. Possibly it reads zero.

This moron, if he qualifies to that level, which I doubt, has accused Julian Assange, the world’s Premier Journalist, the person who more than anyone represents the First Amendment of the US Constitution, of being a demon who sides with dictators and endangers the security of American hegemony with the help of Russia. All because Wikileaks publishes material from official sources revealing the criminal behavior of the US government. Wikileaks doesn’t steal the documents. The documents are leaked to Wikileaks by whistleblowers who cannot tolerate the immorality and lies of the US government.

Anyone who tells the truth is by definition against the United States of America. And the moron Pompeo intends to get them.

When I first read Pompeo’s accusation against Assange, I thought it had to be a joke. The CIA director wants to revoke the First Amendment. But the moron Pompeo actually said it. https://www.rt.com/usa/384667-cia-assange-wikileaks-critisize/

What are we to do, what is the world to do, when we have utter morons as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as President of the US, as National Security Adviser, as Secretary of Defense, as Secretary of State, as US Ambassador to the UN, as editors of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, MSNBC? How can there be any intelligence when only morons are in charge?

Stupid is as stupid does. The Chinese government has said that the moronic Americans could attack North Korea at any moment. A large US fleet is heading to North Korea. North Korea apparently now has nuclear weapons. One North Korean nuclear weapon can wipe out the entirety of the US fleet. Why is Washington inviting this outcome? The only possible answer is moronic stupidity.

North Korea is not bothering anyone. Why is Washington picking on North Korea? Does Washington want war with China? In which case, is Washinton kissing off the West Coast of the US? Why does the West Coast support policies that imply the demise of the West Coast of the US? Do the morons on the West Coast think that the US can initiate war with China, or North Korea, without any consequesnces to the West Coast? Are even Amerians this utterly stupid?

China or Russia individually can wipe out the US. Together they can make North America uninhabitalbe until the end of time. Why are the Washington morons provoking powerful nuclear powers? Do the Washington morons think Russia and China will submit to threats?

 

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Quem Vai Juntar os Cacos do Império?

April 16th, 2017 by Edu Montesanti

Semana com tradicional sucessão de horrores no seio do Gigante com Pés de Barro, os Estados Policialescos Unidos da América. Realidade tenebrosa que os grandes meios de imbecilização em massa tentam ocultar, ao máximo

Idoso espancado no aeroporto de Chicago e universitária em Colorado, ambos covardemente pela polícia; 4 civis atingidos por tiroteio de outro civil, em Atlanta; greve de fome de imigrantes indocumentados por tratamento desumano em presídio “privado”; mão-de-obra escrava entre a maior população carcerária do mundo; tráfico de crianças sob conivência estatal; menores imigrantes aguardam deportação em campos de concentração, sem direito a advogado; pobreza galopante; tráfico ilegal de armas sob conivência estatal; Estado Islamita e Boko Haram financiados por Washington; Al-Qaeda, criatura do Império no Afeganistão, em favor de Tio Sam também na Síria hoje. Diplomacia e multipolaridade frente à unipolaridade e os infinitos conflitos produzidos por um Império agonizante, que busca arrastar o mundo ao caos a fim de se reerguer econômica e politicamente: a história sempre se repete tragicamente, em um mundo competitivo, individualista e acumulador de riquezas. Se não se afirma uma multipolaridade solidária, a III Guerra Mundial é inevitável. Tudo como resultado de um Império em decadência, em sua busca desesperada por inimigos para justificar políticas de linha dura, invasões e guerras

Diante dos altos escalões políticos locais que promovem bombardeios indiscriminados e muita guerra em todo o mundo por qualquer diferença (na maioria dos casos, artificiais que criam problemas para posteriormente vender “solução”) ou quando seus interesses estão em questão, regime que dentro de casa incentiva o comércio e o porte irrestrito de armas perante uma mídia (incluindo a indústria do cinema, grande lixo cultural) que ecoa esta apologia da intolerância, da violência e do ódio, não é de se surpreender que o ovo da serpente surta seus efeitos, antes de tudo, no quintal de seus criadores.

Somam-se 47 invasões militares diretas dos Estados Policialescos Unidos da América (EPUA) à América Latina desde 1846, além de ser o único país, em toda a história, a ter atacado com bombas atômicas – contra Hiroshima e Nagasaki ao final da II Guerra Mundial. Apenas de 1991, os Estados Policialescos Unidos trazem em sua conta mais de 5 milhões de mortos, vítimas das “intervenções humanitárias” no Iraque, no Afeganistão, na Líbia e na Síria.

Internamente, o estado de caos também é parte do projeto, minuciosamente elaborado, de cerceamento das liberdades civis, de práticas de tortura, de dominação e de exploração dentro e fora dos EPUA, que exportam excrecência intelectual e moral aos quatro cantos do planeta.

A violência assustadoramente crescente no “país da liberdade” – que a grande mídia tenta ocultar – conta dezenas de histórias macabras nestes últimos dias, assim como têm se somado as inúmeras evidências de violação aos direitos fundamentais do cidadão e o financiamento de organizações terroristas mundo afora, outro velho filme.

Não por mero acaso e como bola de neve, as crises moral, intelectual, política e econômica apenas crescem em relação ao Império agonizante que, para tentar se salvar da definitiva e espetacular implosão, apoia-se na desinformação excessiva ignorância generalizada, e evita vias diplomáticas a fim de espalhar mais bases militares pelo mundo, aquecer sua indústria bélica, tirar do caminho quem não defenda compactue com seus interesses econômicos e estratégicos, e assim possa afirmar seu neocolonialismo.

Violência Doméstica

Um homem foi morto e três ficaram feridos em tiroteio em uma estação de trem de Atlanta, na quinta-feira 13. O atirador, Chauncey Lee Daniels de 36 anos, foi detido pela polícia através de busca por câmera e conduzido ao tribunal no dia seguinte, mas como o assassino não é de origem árabe nem islamita, não foi considerado terrorista nem a ocorrência foi considerada atentado terrorista, é claro, a não ser mais “incidente isolado” segundo a polícia, já que terror cristão não consta na agenda política e judicial, doméstica e internacional.

O médico David Dao, de 69 anos, foi espancado no aeroporto de Chicago, Estado de Illionois, no último dia 9, após ter sido expulso da aeronave da United Airlines com mais três passageiros. Como Dao recusou-se a cumprir ordens da companhia de sair do avião, fazendo valer seu direito de consumidor, acabou arrastado a socos e espancado fora dali por policiais. Seus advogados estão processando a companhia aérea.

Médico com dupla cidadania, norte-americana e vietnamita, a vítima disse que “ser arrastado pelo corredor [da aeronave] foi o mais horrível e desolador experimentado ao sair do Vietnã”, segundo seus advogados que ainda informaram que Dao perdeu dois dentes frontais, sofreu uma fratura no nariz, e um grave dano cerebral, hospitalizado em seguida.

A polícia acreditava que Dao era médico na cidade de Elizabethtown, no Estado de Kentucky, quem havia tido a licença profissional revogada desde 2000 por determinados crimes pelos quais o réu pagou algumas dívidas, o que lhe permitiu recuperar a licença.

Dao foi indiciado em 2005 por tráfico de analgésicos: os que o denunciaram informaram que Dao assinava autorizações falsas para a aplicação de medicamentos como Hydrocodone, Oxycontin e Percocet, usados em pacientes com câncer.

No entanto, usuários de redes sociais, incluindo o portal de informação Reddit, informaram que a pessoa que aparentemente enfrentou problemas legais é David Anh Duy Dao, e não o médico que foi brutalmente agredido por agentes de segurança quando ele se recusou a desistir assento que tinha pago em voar United. David Duy Anh Dao Are Duc Thanh Dao e David a mesma pessoa? Não está claro ainda, porém repete-se a constante e excessiva brutalidade de um Estado fundamentado na intolerância e no ódio.

Um dia antes, a estudante universitária Michaella Surat, de 22 anos, foi registrada por um vídeo caindo ao chão, bêbada, após ter recebido violento soco da polícia de Colorado. Seu corpo ficou estirado, imóvel, na calçada em frente a um bar.

A ação policial foi duramente criticada pelos usuários do Instagram que registraram o fato, e disseram que, em nenhum momento, a estudante demonstrara gestos ameaçantes, e garantiram não era necessário que ela tivesse levado o golpe. Outros cidadãos, contudo, acreditaram que a reação da polícia foi justificada, mesmo diante das evidências de que Michaella estava embriagada.

A porta-voz da polícia da cidade de Fort Collins, Kate Kimble, disse que o incidente teve início através de uma briga que envolveu o noivo da jovem estadunidense, na qual as autoridades haviam solicitado à universitária que fosse embora, e ao jovem que ficasse no local, gerando assim tumulto. A agente acrescentou que a medida a ser tomada era prender a jovem, e que esta havia “atacado” o policial, o que testemunhas e as próprias imagens não confirmaram.

Decadência Moral: Violações aos Direitos Humanos

A mão de obra escrava apenas cresce nos presídios provados dos Estados Policialescos Unidos da Améroca não como meio de reabilitar indivíduos, mas a fim de aumentar os lucros de grandes empresas entre a maior população carcerária do mundo, com 2.300.000 pessoas: com 5 por cento da população mundial, os cidadãos privados de liberdade em território norte-americano representam 25 por cento dos presos do mundo, na imensa maioria negros e pobres.

Nos últimos 30 anos, há 37 estados que permitem que os prisioneiros trabalhem entre míseros 93 centavos de dólar a 4.73 dólar por dia. Já os detidos a nível federal, possuem ganhos pouco maiores; entre 23 centavos de dólar a 1.23 dólar por hora trabalhando de maneira praticamente gratuita, sobretudo, para as invasões e guerras dos Estados Policialescos Unidos; produzem coletes anti-balas, capacetes e cabos para a confecção de mísseis etc.

Há um milhão de internos trabalhando em tempo integral nos presídios dos Estados Policialescos Unidos, e nos últimos anos o mercado presidiário norte-americano tem sido integrado por grandes corporações como IBM, Motorola, Microsoft, Telecom, Target, Pierre Cardín, Macys. Entre 1980 e 1994, os ganhos as destas empresas aumentaram de 392 milhões a 1,310 bilhões de dólares. E se não bastasse, algumas empresas ou indivíduos os utilizam para outras tarefas fora dos cárceres.

Metade dos 1.500 imigrantes indocumentados que aguardam deportação no presídio “privado” (vale o destaque, entre aspas) de ICE na cidade de Tacoma, estado de Washington, estão em greve de fome devido ao tratamento desumano que inclui péssima qualidade dos alimentos, da falta de instalações recreativas, do acesso limitado aos cuidados médicos e das condições gerais de higiene. Os detidos ainda realizam trabalho escravo no complexo, submetidos a todo o tipo de exploração.

As 70 mulheres imigrantes que aguardam deportação e que aderiram à greve de fome, também se queixaram que seus processos judiciais enfrentam atrasos de longa data, não lhes restando outra alternativa senão se submeter às terríveis condições de mais um entre os tantos presídios “privatizados” pelo Estado norte-americano.

“Viemos de nossos países para que pudéssemos ser ouvidos, e pedir ajuda”, disse uma detida através de comunicado por escrito. “Não somos criminosos, mas temos sido esquecidos aqui… Há muitos aqui que apenas aguardam deportação, e não estão sendo deportados”.

Nos EPUA, um mínimo de 80% dos leitos devem estar ocupados por “clientes” (i.e., presidiários), ainda que a criminalidade diminua, segundo análise do sítio norte-americano ThePublicInterest.com envolvendo 62 contratos de governos estatais com empresas privadas.

Pois o negócio das prisões geraram lucros de 222 milhões de dólares à Corrections Corporation of America, e de 139 milhões à sua principal concorrente, a GEO Group. Em 2012, ambas acabaram isentas de pagar impostos ao Internal Revenue Service (IRS), receita federal norte-americana (mais informações no artigo How Private Prison Companies Use Big Tax Breaks and Low Wages to Maximize Profit, de 8 de abril de 2016, no sítio norte-americano Truth Out). Nada disso, contudo, melhora os serviços nos presídios, longe disso, não ressocializando os presidiários fazendo com que a criminalidade apenas aumente.

Apenas uma breve menção para não se estender diante de um crime bem pior, e a nível internacional: a Detenção de Guantánamo, em solo cubano (primeiro crime) a fim de safar o regime norte-americano de sua jurisdição, abriga ilegalmente cidadãos capturados à força, na maioria dos casos sem nenhuma prova, e os submete a torturas das mais crueis que têm chocado a opinião pública mundial desde meados da década de 2000. O novo inquilino da Casa Branca, Donald Trump, promete dar seguimento e ainda aumentar as atividades em Guantánamo, exaltando os métodos de tortura.

Há muito tempo, diversos organismos norte-americanos e internacionais têm denunciado a existência de campos de concentração que abriga milhares dessas crianças – na maior parte originárias do México (que teve o território anexado pelos EUA em 50%, não sem traumas e subjugação pelo imperialismo norte-americano até hoje), Guatemala, El Salvador e Honduras (igualmente vítimas de golpes e de políticas coercitivas dos EUA até os dias de hoje) -, que ingressaram ao país desacompanhadas. Esses menores têm sido sumariamente deportados, e com mais dois trágicos detalhes: alguns abusados sexualmente, esses infantes não têm direito a advogado de defesa, devendo defender-se a si mesmos diante dos tribunais de “Justiça” dos Estados Unidos.

Entre os denunciantes estão a União Norte-Americana de Liberdades Civis (ACLU, na sigla en inglês), cujo argumento é que o governo viola a Constituição que garante o devido processo, e a lei de imigração e nacionalidade, que defende “uma avaliação completa e justa” perante um juiz de imigração.

E se não bastasse, até meados do ano passado ao menos 57 mil crianças encontram-se “depositadas” em campos de concentração. Denunciado pelo presidente venezuelano, o”ditador” Nicolás Maduro em novembro de 2014, o tratamento desumana de crianças imigrantes detidas no “berço da democracia” chegou a ser condenada pela ONU

Em outubro de 2015, a Comissão Inter-Americana de Direitos Humanos (CIDH) fez uma “solicitação” ao regime estadunidense: que fechasse os centros de detenção de crianças e famílias, além da investigação sobre os abusos sexuais contra menores por parte de “educadores” oficiais ali.

Porém, o regime de Obama e a “Justiça” norte-americana permanecem irredutíveis, tanto quanto a trivial indiferença midiática, dentro e fora do país. De lá para cá, nada mudou nem dá sinais de mudança para melhor.

Como pouco descaso com o “excedente humano” na terra da exaltação do livre-mercado e da livre circulação de mercadorias – não do livre trânsito de cidadãos, contudo – é sempre uma grande bobagem, entre as crianças enclausuradas nos centros de detenção provisórios há as que têm ingressado aos Estados Unidos através do tráfico de menores com participação de agentes federais estadunidenses – mais um crime internacional made in USA completamente ignorado pelo autoritário regime de Washington, que ano a ano acumula violações aos direitos humanos.

Os traficantes utilizam as crianças em trabalho análogo à escravidão, sob muita coerção e ameaça de acordo com o relatório da Subcomissão Permanente sobre Investigações do Senado norte-americano, publicado em 26 de janeiro de 2016.

Intitulada Protegendo Crianças Estrangeiras Desacompanhadas do Tráfico e de Outros Abusos, a investigação concluiu que 28 menores foram traficados após agentes federais tê-los entregues a adultos que deveriam cuidar deles. Outros 15 menores também apresentam sinais de tráfico. Os traficantes retinham os ganhos financeiros das vítimas e lhes davam muito pouco dinheiro para alimentação e necessidades básicas, sob ameaça de agressão física e de morte inclusive contra os familiares desses menores.

De acordo com indiciamento realizado em 2015, um traficante chegou a agredir uma vítima por esta ter se recusado a entregar o salário. Os traficantes puniram outra vítima menor de idade quando ela havia se queixado do trabalho em uma fazenda, conduzindo-a por isso a um trailer diferente, segundo a investigação, “anti-higiênico e inseguro, sem cama, sem aquecimento, sem água quente, sem banheiro e com vermes. Os traficantes, então, chamaram o pai da vítima menor de idade, e ameaçaram atirar na cabeça do pai se a vítima menor não trabalhasse. Os réus usaram uma combinação de ameaças, humilhação, privação financeira, coerção, manipulação da dívida e monitoramento para criar um clima de medo e de desamparo que obrigaria [as vítimas] ao cumprimento [das ordens]”.

Tais crianças somam-se às pelo menos seis que chegam a 14 anos de idade, traficadas da Guatemala em 2014 sob promessas de uma vida melhor à cidade de Marion, no estado de Ohio, após terem estado sob custódia federal, fato descoberto por juristas que motivou a instauração da atual Subcomissão Permanente.

“É intolerável que o tráfico humano – a escravidão moderna – possa ocorrer em nosso próprio quintal”, disse no ano passado o senador republicano por Ohio, Rob Portman, presidente da Subcomissão. “Mas o que faz com que os casos de Marion sejam ainda mais alarmantes, é que uma agência do governo dos Estados Unidos foi responsável pela entrega de algumas das vítimas às mãos de seus agressores”.

Em 1º de julho de 2015, um júri federal indiciou quatro réus pelo recrutamento e contrabando de cidadãos guatemaltecos para os Estados Unidos, com a finalidade de executar trabalho forçado em campos agrícolas em uma fazenda em Marion. Entre as vítimas, há vários menores que foram entregues a tutores através do Programa de Crianças Desacompanhadas (Unaccompanied Children Program).

“Qualquer que seja o ponto de vista sobre a política nacional de imigração, todos concordam que o governo tem a responsabilidade de garantir a segurança das crianças migrantes que entraram sob custódia do governo, até a data do julgamento da imigração”, disse o senador Portman.

Em março de 2011, WikiLeaks entregou ao jornal mexicano La Jornada diversos telegramas secretos emitidos pela Embaixada norte-americana na cidade do México ao Departamento de Estado em Washington, revelando que parte do tráfico ilegal de armas dos Estados Policialescos da América ao México era tão secreto quanto estatal: ignorando solicitações e reclamações da Cidade do México, tinha sinal verde por parte dos lords do bem-dizer do regime de Washington, sob o codinome Fast and the Furious (Rápido e Furioso) que acabaria se tornando um escândalo, devidamente abafado.

Graças a esse plano elaborado pela então administração do Nobel da Paz, Barack Obama, têm circulado em solo mexicano ao longo dos últimos anos mais de 2 mil rifles de alto calibre, fora de controle. Armas de guerra, também contrabandeadas do norte “avançado” ao sul “atrasado”, são proibidas por lei no país latino-americano, porém sua comercialização é livre na “democracia mais avançada do planeta”, mal-acostumada a espalhar violência e terror mundo afora.

Enquanto isso, a fim de exercer domínio sobre o país ao sul do Rio Bravo, o regime norte-americano historicamente acusa os mexicanos de leniência com o tráfico de armas. Donald Trump tem se apressado em dar continuidade à deportação em massa de imigrantes indocumentados baseado no discurso da criminalização dos estrangeiros, acusando especialmente os mexicanos de bandidos e traficantes.

Tiroteios por todos os Estados Unidos, praticamente todos os dias em escolas, estações de transportes públicos e nos mais diversos lares e locais públicos, fazem a sociedade mais armada do mundo, ostentadora da maior população carcerária do planeta e maior consumidora de drogas do globo, perpetuar o velho bang-bang existente desde o genocídio contra os povos originários, que possibilitou a anexação de 50% do território mexicano.

Isso tudo é uma pequena evidência da dupla moral norte-americana, sem nenhuma autoridade para ferir soberanias nacionais em nome de direitos humanos (geralmente, baseado em mentiras para atingir governos que não atendam seus interesses).

Decadência Existencial: Aliança com Organizações Terroristas

Na semana passada, o sítio WikiLeaks liberou mais cabos secretos emitidos pelos porões do poder norte-americano que evidenciam a aliança de Washington com os terroristas no Oriente Médio. Desta vez, os telegramas revelam que em fevereiro de 2012 Jake Sullivan, assessor da então secretária de Estado Hillary Clinton, afirmou que a Al-Qaeda apoiava os Estados Unidos no conflito sírio.

“Al Qaeda está ao nosso lado na Síria”, escreveu Sullivan em referência às afirmações do líder da organização extremista, Ayman al- Zawahiri, quem havia conclamado aos islamitas do Oriente Médio a se unir para derrubar, juntos, o presidente sírio, Bashar al-Assad.

Decadência Econômica

A literal falência da cidade de Detroit em 2013, em tempos não muito remotos capital da indústria automobilística norte-americana hoje despovoada, é apenas a ponta do iceberg: em 2014, 47 milhões de pessoas viviam em estado de pobreza nos Estados Unidos, o que significa uma taxa de 15% da população nacional. Naquele ano, o nível de pobreza atingiu patamares 2,3% mais altos que em 2007.

Nos Estados Policialescos Unidos da América hoje, 4 em cada 5 pessoas, ou 80% da população vive próxima à linha da pobreza. Já se somam 46 milhões de pobres, ou 15% da população, além de mais de 1,6 milhões de lares que abrigam cerca de 3,5 milhões de crianças em situação de pobreza extrema, totalizando mais de 20 milhões de pessoas, 6.7% da população nacional nesta situação. Ao todo, são hoje 800 mil os “sem-teto” naquele território onde elites de Terceiro Mundo sonham em lavar privada, e tudo isso de acordo com números oficiais do censo dos EUA leia 4 in 5 in USA Face Near-Poverty, No Work, em USA Today, e Ochocientos Mil Personas “Sin Techo”‘ en Estados Unidos, na Telesur).

A pobreza nos Estados Unidos, desde o desmantelamento do Estado de Bem-Estar Social especialmente dos anos de 1970 para cá, esfacelado por Ronald Reagan, tem experimentado vertiginoso crescimento. E a situação tem se agravado ainda mais após a crise financeira de 2008.

Uma em cada oito famílias passa fome no Império em vertiginosa decadência (outro sítio norte-americano como fonte). 40% de crianças encontram-se em estado de pobreza sem condições, portanto, de estudar. Total: 16 milhões de pequenos famintos (leia Poverty Is Killing Us, A Pobreza Está Nos Matando, no sítio norte-americano Truth Out).

633.782 cidadãos amontoam-se nas ruas no centro do capitalismo mundial (fonte, outro sítio norte-americano, US Homeless Facts). A taxa de suicídio no berço do capital – do ódio racial, regional, de sexo, gênero e de classe – é hoje a maior em 30 anos. O motivo? Crescimento vertiginoso da pobreza, desesperança e má saúde dos cidadãos.

Decadência Intelectual

Como nem poderia ser diferente, as reproduções pioradas do desmoralizado Tio Sam entre as sociedades mundo afora seguem a linha de “raciocínio” e de conduta de seu mestre, emburrecedoramente criminoso: acusam (na maioria das vezes, de maneira leviana) outras nações de falharem em democracia e direitos humanos (especialmente as que defendem soberanias nacionais, não se alinhando a Washington), enquanto dentro de casa, como comédia trágica, defendem e praticam toda a sorte de atos ditatoriais e terroristas, que atentam as mesmas liberdade de expressão e civis em geral que, para os outros, dizem defender. Pois ninguém poderia servir de maneira mais sublime como ícone de gente deste tipo, quanto o palhaço assassino que atualmente ocupa a Casa Branca.

Cada vez mais, tentar defender a legitimidade e o “sucesso” do agonizante Império além de tentar justificar o autoritarismo de um decadente Estado policialesco que tenta salvar sua combalida economia à base de invasões e guerras, torna-se tarefa profundamente árdua limitada aos que ainda se alimentam das migalhas de Tio Sam, ou que por ele e por seus porta-vozes da grande mídia foram mentalmente escravizados. Dizia Goethe: “Ninguém está mais desesperadamente escravizado, que aquele que falsamente acredita ser livre”.

Decadência Diplomática e Militar: Multipolaridade como Antídoto ao Imperialismo Agonizante

Se por um lado ainda há os que se disponham ao ridículo de tentar juntar os cacos do Império, por outro há uma questão fundamental que esses cérebros lavados, jamais, poderão nem quererão responder: quem julga esse mesmo Gigante com Pés de Barro, Estado mais terrorista da história que, no auge de sua hipocrisia, comporta-se como polícia do mundo a fim de se esquivar da prestação de contas por seus inúmeros crimes, domésticos e internacionais, e de afirmar sua política coercitivo-expansionista?

Enquanto o centro financeiro do mundo atravessa irreversível crise econômica e existencial, um mundo multipolar contra o qual estes mesmos Estados Policialescos Unidos da América atacam desmedidamente, é hoje mais que necessário: urge entre diante de um Império que quanto mais decai, mais agressivo se torna, estando por isso a humanidade à beira de uma III Guerra Mundial, a todo custo provocada por Tio Sam como sua derradeira esperança de salvação.

Assim, repete-se pelos EPUA não apenas os descarados cenários produzidos no Afeganistão (1979 e 2001), no Iraque (1980, 1991 e 2003) e na Líbia (2011), mas as próprias estratégias utilizadas pelas grandes potências nas duas Grandes Guerras do século passado quando, arrastando o mundo ao conflito extremo, tentou-se redesenhar a geopolítica global, reaquecer as respectivas economias, e ampliar seus domínios territoriais.

Enquanto a Rússia acumula vitórias diplomáticas, diplomacia que evidentemente gera prejuízos ao imperialismo norte-americano, a inferioridade militar de Tio Sam em relação aos russos é evidente: estes possuem aviação superior, soldados mais bem equipados, treinados e com estado de espírito muito superior, melhores armamentos, os mísseis russos não são inferiores aos norte-americanos além das bombas mais potentes do mundo. Geograficamente, a enorme Federação Russa é dispersa, enquanto o território norte-americano concentra-se entre duas costas.

Se somadas as forças russas às de seus aliados cada vez mais próximos, Irã, China e Coreia do Norte,fica ainda mais óbvio o porquê de o regime de Washington ter recuado de tantas decisões nos últimos anos, como o de invadir a Síria – medida que o inconsequente Donald Trump, talvez, esteja disposto contrariar. Pois é exatamente por isso que se torna, cada vez mais, urgente o estabelecimento de um mundo multipolar, se é que já não é tarde demais diante de um cenário cada vez mais consolidado de guerra global, sob o sério risco de confronto nuclear. Tudo isso, subproduto da necessidade desesperada do Império de turno de criar inimigos, dentro e fora de casa.

Edu Montesanti

 

Edu Montesanti escreve para Revista Caros AmigosPravda BrasilPravda Report (Rússia) e Global Research (Canadá). Autor do livro Mentiras e Crimes da ‘Guerra ao Terror’ (2012), é tradutor dos sítios na Internet de Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo(Argentina) e Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (Afeganistão).www.edumontesanti.skyrock.com

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Korean Peninsula Brinksmanship

April 16th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

For a day at least, Washington and Pyongyang stepped back from the brink.

The DPRK refrained from conducting an expected sixth nuclear test, likely postponed, not cancelled. 

Trump showed restraint by not belligerently reining on North Korea’s Day of the Sun commemorative parade, honoring its founder Kim Il-sung’s 105th birthday.

All quiet on the eastern front held on Saturday, fireworks perhaps coming later at a time of Trump’s choosing.

Potentially devastating Korean peninsula war threatens the entire region, catastrophic if nuclear confrontation erupts.

The weekend wasn’t entirely calm. Early Sunday, the DPRK launched an unidentified ballistic missile. Reportedly it plunged into the sea after exploding. [unconfirmed]

South Korea’s military believes it was a Pukguksong-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of traveling up to 1,000 km.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry called the test a threat to regional security. The Pentagon’s March 14 B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb test was practically unnoticed until the US National Nuclear Security Administration’s April 13 announcement, saying:

“This event is the first of a series that will be conducted over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service. Three successful development flight tests were conducted in 2015.”

No furor followed the test or announcement. US imperial madness is humanity’s greatest threat.

North Korea threatens no one. Throughout its history, it never attacked another country – at war from June 1950 to July 1953 in self-defense after being attacked.

Pyongyang justifiably fears another US war, believing its nuclear deterrent is its best defense. If America normalized relations long ago, the DPRK never would have developed nuclear weapons.

Washington’s rage to dominate overrides prioritizing world peace and stability – anathema notions for a nation always at war, enemies invented to justify waging it on humanity.

Korean affairs analyst Cui Zhiying said

“North Korea is now under immense pressure, especially from the US, and Pyongyang wanted to show a united front without making another nuclear test (at this time), a move deemed intolerable by the international community and that might trigger military conflict.”

China Arms Control and Disarmament Association researcher Xu Guangyu believes Pyongyang’s Saturday weapons display and missile test showed its military strength and “capability to fight back (if) necessary.”

Its commemorative parade showed “restraint. It is reluctant to fire the first shot and shoulder the responsibility for provoking conflict on the peninsula.”

Refraining from a nuclear test on Kim Il-Sung’s birthday doesn’t mean future ones aren’t coming. Five were conducted earlier, likely more ahead, perhaps delayed for now given current heightened tensions.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Sergey Lavrov

Beijing “is ready to coordinate closely with Russia to help cool down as quickly as possible the situation on the peninsula and encourage the parties concerned to resume dialogue.”

He also warned Pyongyang and Washington that if war breaks out, both sides will share blame “and pay the corresponding price.”

Trump is at his Florida residence for the Easter weekend. Congress is in recess until April 23.

Pyongyang’s Day of the Sun commemoration passed without imminent threat of war erupting.

Korean expert Bruce Cumings explained North Korea has around “15,000 underground facilities of a national security nature,” the world’s fourth largest military, about “200,000 highly trained special forces,” 10,000 artillery pieces, mobile missiles able to hit all US regional military bases, and nukes more than twice as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.

While no match against America’s military might, it’s able to cause enormous damage if attacked.

“Why on earth would Pyongyang not seek a nuclear deterrent,” Cumings asked? “(T)his crucial (logic) doesn’t enter mainstream American discourse,” he explained.

“History doesn’t matter, until it does – when it rears up and smacks you in the face.”

The Korean peninsula remains a hugely dangerous tinderbox. Trump’s rage for warmaking could ignite an uncontrollable firestorm.

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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The first aspect to consider, following the US attack on Syria, is what Putin, Xi, and Rohani, leaders of the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, and Iran respectively, thought while American Tomahawks were hitting the Syrian air base of Shayrat.

The last three years of the Obama presidency highlighted two very different strategies being advanced simultaneously by the US and the nations opposing its imperialistic overreach, principally Russia, China and Iran. The latter have been seeking cooperation, while the US, with its big hammer, has characteristically been on the search for nails to hammer. Yet the management of international relations has always sought to maintain wide diplomatic channels, even putting in place precautions in the military arena, such as direct communication lines at the height of tensions of 2014 in Ukraine.

With the DPRK, Obama adopted an attitude of strategic patience rather than the posture being employed by Trump of military bullying. With Iran, Obama’s team negotiated a nuclear deal that included a lot of diplomacy between Moscow, Beijing and Washington. One could almost say that, with the exception of Ukraine and Syria, relations between Washington and major chancelleries in Eurasia had their ups and downs, but they rarely reached the levels of concern that were seen in the first days the Trump presidency.

Let us take Syria as an example. Obama resisted pressure to bomb the country following a false-flag chemical attack done by al Qaeda-type rebels. The media and intelligence accused Assad, but Obama saw through this and decided against further entanglement in the Syrian quagmire. Facing a similar situation, Trump instead decided to proceed and bomb a sovereign nation, creating a ripple effect whose ultimate results are at this stage difficult to discern.

Surely one of the first results has been the cancellation of any kind of cooperation between the US and Russia in Syria. This means that any nations operating against Islamist terrorism in Syria will be reluctant to grant further concessions to Washington. In recent weeks, Moscow and Damascus have preferred to hit Daesh and Nusra Front while inflicting relatively little damage to the Islamists in the country controlled by Washington and its allies, normally the FSA and its affiliates. This Russian posture was in deference to Kerry’s original request to Lavrov that a clear distinction be made between terrorists and so-called moderate rebels.

Moscow was aware from the beginning that there is no substantial differences between Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda, and other minor Daesh acronyms gathered around the FSA. All groups are armed and fighting against the legitimate Syrian government, making them legitimate targets, especially following America’s unilateral bombing of Syria.

The strategy of Damascus, Tehran and Moscow was aimed at finding a common understanding, from the diplomatic point of view, in order to bring Washington to the negotiating table. Concessions by both parties were necessary, and from the perspective of Russian forces, focusing on Nusra Front and Daesh was a good bargaining chip to use.

After Trump’s actions in Syria, all kinds of cooperation has been suspended, and it is anticipated that Damascus’s allies will specifically target US proxy forces in Syria as a response. The consequence will be that the US will have even less influence in Syria then before lobbing its 60-or-so missiles. In addition to this, Trump’s intention in the bombing should be seen as seeking to increase his negotiating position with Moscow on the question of Syria. What does not appear clear to the American president is that his actions may have the opposite effect. Putin is certainly not the type of person who lets others intimidate him or put him in a weak situation. If the intention of Trump was to create the ideal conditions for Tillerson and Lavrov to establish a cooperative relationship, perhaps it would be appropriate to ask what kind of understanding Trump has of international relations.

After this reckless action in Syria, Trump will have greater difficulty carrying out his plan to defeat Daesh, if this is still the plan. And so another election promise – the one to wipe Daesh off the map – is likely to be broken. This is not to mention that the SDF, the Kurdish forces, will from now on be viewed with more hostility by the Syrian and Russian forces, being ground troops who are undeclared by the US military.

Many have begun to refer to the Islamic State group as Daesh. | Photo: andaluciainformacion.es

Given the unpredictability of the US, Damascus cannot rule out the possibility that Washington’s final intent is to further the original plan of partitioning Syria as proposed by the Brookings Institute and embraced by the neocons and liberal-interventionist crowd. Moscow and Damascus cannot trust Washington, and this precludes many opportunities for Trump to pursue a foreign policy that aligns with his election promises.

President Xi during the Syrian bombing was at a diplomatic meeting with Trump and was told about the military action at the end of the meeting. It is likely that Trump wanted to send a message to the Chinese president and, indirectly, to Kim Jong-un, the leader of the DPRK. For the American president, this was all about a show of force, aimed at restoring the US role in the world and dictating the diplomatic conditions on which to agree for the resolution of various conflicts or areas of tension around the world. It is an approach that has almost entirely eliminated any possible cooperation with Beijing and Moscow.

Putin, Xi, and Rohani must leave behind any hopes for cooperation with Washington. It is important for them to send a strong message to Trump that the front opposing US imperialism is compact and ready to respond in the case of further provocations. Of course such a response need not necessarily be with military action but rather with all the alternatives available, such as with the areas of finance, the economy and diplomacy.

Until a few weeks ago, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran aimed at a resolution of problems with Washington in order to find a strategic balance in international relations. At this point in time, it should be clear that this strategy will not work. We are in a multipolar world that is synonymous with instability. The ideal conditions for a balance of political forces lie in a joint duopoly that recalls the situation that obtained during the Cold War. Even the unipolar moment guaranteed greater stability in a certain sense, given the unfortunate disproportion of force that the US enjoyed throughout the 1990s. What Trump finds hard to understand is that in a multipolar reality, the chances of clashes increase significantly.

Trump is meddling directly or indirectly in a lot of situations, ranging from Iran’s involvement in Syria, threatened by American partners such as Saudi Arabia; to the use of Russian forces in Syria; passing by the perennial crisis in Ukraine; and instability in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In China we have the autonomous region of Xinjiang, the South China Sea, and not to forget tensions with New Delhi as well as the explosive situation in the DPRK. If Trump is confident in being able to test the waters in each of these situations, even with the use of the military, to arrive at better negotiating positions, it is best that we all prepare for a nuclear winter.

The key issue for China, Russia and Iran must necessarily be to place emphasis on increasing cooperation in several areas, such as finance, the economy, the military, and politics. Up until a month ago, as a result of Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, all three of these nations aspired for cooperation in the field of international relations with the US on equal terms. After what happened in Syria, they have fully understood that this opportunity is now threatened by a clear desire by Trump to risk everything in order to improve his negotiating position. This is the reckless attitude of an unprepared POTUS.

Only a strong unity of purpose, under the economic umbrella of a jettisoning of the dollar as a reserve currency, can change the situation dramatically. In addition to this, the US dollar must be excluded in trade deals between cooperating nations. Another important effort lies with stocking up as much gold as possible. With these methods, it will be possible to stand up to the US’s pressure without it leading to a military conflict. Organizations such as the BRICS, SCO, Eurasian Union and One Belt, One Road must necessarily take up the challenge thrown down by Trump with the launch of 59 missiles on Syria, and show what consequences Trump has brought on himself through his rash actions. Moscow, Tehran and Beijing have an impetus to finally overcome any lingering hesitation and to completely disengage from the western system. Instead of creating alternative ways to operate in the economic and financial sphere, they should try to replace the current one, making it irrelevant and inconvenient for other nations.

The primary objective for these three nations must be from now on to resolve every dispute between them and form an alliance that goes beyond the mere question of economic or financial convenience. The goal should be to create a cultural and social system that can represent an opportunity for other third countries vis-a-vis a predatory capitalism and a rampant imperialistic approach that Trump appears to have signed onto.

Trump’s actions ultimately worsened the US State of the World. The failure of the military operation involving the launch of the Tomahawks showed the US to be more of a paper tiger today than the unbeatable war machine it depicts itself to be. Decades of corruption at the highest levels of the military-industrial complex have finally started to affect the United State’s ability to wage war. It is an observation that is a taboo amongst the US and its allies, who need to maintain the illusion for deterrence, as well as to allow for the gravy train to continue to line the pockets of those who profit from this corrupt system. Reality shows us that in any real conflict, the United States vulnerability and lack of combat readiness shows.

In a situation like this, the strategy of Moscow and its allies is to produce weapons systems capable of inflicting considerable damage to the United States at low cost, given that Moscow cannot simply print more money and pour debt on the rest of the world in order to finance its wars. A great example of this can be seen with the anti-ship missiles Moscow possesses, which are capable of destroying American aircraft carriers, considered the backbone of the US war strategy. A missile that costs hundreds of thousand of euros can cause damage to an aircraft carrier worth tens of billions of dollars, inflicting a mortal blow to the credibility of American military posture.

If Trump will continue down this destructive path, such as with encouraging the entrance of Montenegro into NATO after an election campaign where he labelled the Atlantic alliance obsolete, he will only get the opposite effect to the one desired, which is to say worse negotiating positions with peer American competitors like Moscow and Beijing. Maybe it is time to wonder whether Trump is really keen on a de-escalation model of international relations, aimed at brokering deals from positions of strength, or whether his ultimate aim is simply to preserve America’s unipolar moment in any possible way, even with war. It is a perspective that should be discussed widely by nations such as Iran, Russia and China in order to find a perfect asymmetrical response through economic, financial, political and social means that avoid a direct conflict. The war between the American elites seems to have come to an end and the neoliberals and neocons seem to have won. Wars and chaos will continue, as with the last decades of US foreign policy. It is a sad prospect that the nations opposing Washington will have to deal with.

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A dear, humble man with the most beautiful smile sang the Lord’s Prayer for us in Aramaic on Good Friday.

Ma’aloula has been a Christian village since there were such things.

But it was almost gone.

America’s “moderate rebels” of the Free Syrian Army attacked it with a vengeance alongside Al Qaeda…as they always do.

Our “moderates” executed many who would not convert to their fake, twisted, violent, completely intolerant version of “Islam”.

The local men who had formed a militia to protect their homes were able to hold off the terrorists with the help of Hezbollah fighters until they could get almost all of the women and children out via ancient sewer tunnels.

Then US supported “moderate” terrorists ransacked the place, looted and vandalized the homes, businesses, churches, and orphanage.

They stole the priceless, ancient, unique icons and sold them to Israel, Europe, and Gulf countries.

After six months the Syrian armed forces and allies finalized the liberation of Ma’aloula. So many Muslims died defending that Christian village that is held precious by Syrians of all faiths and people groups.

When we visited they were honoring the second anniversary of that liberation.

So much is destroyed but they are rebuilding.

President Assad made the restoration of Ma’aloula a top priority. The Syrian Army protects the people who have moved back. Since I first visited one year ago I can see great progress already in spite of the terrible war in their country.

Its hard for me this morning, to write in such a way as to build bridges with Americans who have been lied to incessantly by our government, war-profiteering media, and NGOs masking themselves as humanitarian organizations while existing only to further political agendas…because I am filled with rage as I write this.

After the lies and horrors of Iraq and Libya are so obvious and so exposed now…why oh why do Americans continue their blind, ignorant and often arrogant support for the US war machine?

Oh, and Happy Easter.

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After denying that British and other European intelligence agencies have intercepted communications between Donald Trump’s staff and Russian citizens and other Russian citizens during the campaign, the truth has come out that they did exactly that. The Guardian, which has also been extremely anti-Trump, reported: “Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.”

European intelligence agencies sent these intercepts to their US counterparts, US Congress and law enforcement agencies, and US and European intelligence agencies. This is all part of an elaborate scheme. US intelligence agencies cannot by law tap American calls. The British and Germans can and do. They then hand it to the US agencies who then claim they didn’t do anything.

These European intelligence services did monitor those communication between the Trump staff and the Russian individuals for several months, and then passed the results to the US. The United States and the UK are part of the so-called “Five Eyes” agreement (together with Canada, Australia and New Zealand), which provides an exchange of intelligence from the member countries. Foreign intelligence monitors citizen with a country and then hands the results to that domestic agency. This is how they all circumvent civil rights of their own citizens. The new head of the CIA can bullshit everyone saying they do not tap American phones, but he NEVER said they do not get that info by allowing foreign intelligence to do so.

Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement that his sources said that President Obama was outside the command chain to spy on Trump. He did not use the NSA, he did not use the CIA, he did not use the Ministry of Justice, he used GCHQ, the British intelligence. When he made those comments, he was blasted by every news media as making this up. Then the British GHCHQ came out and lied to the world saying the allegations were nonsense, and they were “utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.” Beware whenever any government says such statement should be ignored. That is always a code word for they are true.

Now the British and Germans claim that these communications were recorded during the routine monitoring of Russian officials and other Russians known to Western intelligence services. The British and European intelligence agencies, including GCHQ, the British Intelligence Service responsible for communications monitoring, were not proactive in the Trump team, but took these communications in the so-called “random collection”.

Screenshot of GHCQ Home page

Since foreign intelligence services are intercepting every phone call from the USA outside the country and then share that information with the US intelligence agencies, this is direct circumvention of the Constitution and the NSA, CIA, and FBI can deny they tap people all the time, but they just get someone else to do it for them.

Let’s make one point very clear. They are monitoring absolutely EVERY phone call, email, and SMS and they call this “random” since they do not target a specific person, they just collect everything. They then can identify each phone call and create files. This is the objective and it is not for terrorism and this Trump incident proves. They will be able to track every penny and this is for taxes.

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Recently seen as dangerous and incompetent, Trump has now “done what needed to be done”. It doesn’t matter that, as former Brazilian president Lula da Silva noted, “They invaded Iraq, killed Hussein, and until this day have found no chemical weapons”. Trump is now “presidential”. The deceit is barely worth mentioning on Telesur (Caracas) and Cubadebate (Havana).

They use the word “empire” to explain what empires do: Conquer. It means they don’t waste time asking why, from the first Bush to Clinton, the second Bush, and Obama, US presidents invade, destroy and occupy, relying on lies. On Telesur, Trump is part of a long history of imperial lies.

Some are about freedom and what it means. The deep lies are hard to talk about in North America. Yet there’s a trendy new debate in US Academia, about “epistemic injustice”. It refers to how systemic discrimination affects how people think, including how we identify ourselves. It’s about freedom of thought. We can fail to understand our own aspirations, even our humanity or the humanity of others.

It affects perpetrators as well as victims. US academics invented the term, building careers on it. Students line up to write theses. Yet the idea isn’t new. It occurred to non-radical priests in Cuba at the start of the nineteenth century. 1 They gave it a different name: Imperialism. Priests, before Marx, knew our most intimate thinking depends on circumstances and conditions, even global ones.

They knew imperialism creates what Fidel Castro called “sobrantes”, or left-overs: People who don’t count. Simón Bolívar understood the supposedly new idea two centuries ago. It explained why Europeans’ talk about rights and freedoms was useless in Latin America. It didn’t apply to those “even lower than servitude”: sobrantes. They couldn’t claim such rights and freedoms. They weren’t human.

Che Guevara understood it too. He argued that freedoms in Cuba – including individual freedoms – required radical transformation of social and political institutions, which inform thinking. Freedom, he said, is a narrow dialectic, dependent on direction. At the Fourth Party Congress (1997), Castro said, “If we lose direction, we lose everything”. He knew injustice. He didn’t need a fancy new bit of jargon.

It is not easy to grasp this aspect of imperialism, so clear to independentistas: its effect on thinking. I thought of this recently on encountering two moving accounts of the “Yankee comandante”, hero of the Cuban revolution, executed as a traitor. 2 William Morgan was a highly intelligent social misfit from Ohio who joined the guerrilla struggle against the dictator, Fulgencio Batista, in Cuba in the fifties.

Arriving in the Escambray Mountains, he lost 35 pounds, learned Spanish and gained the rebels’ respect. He became a commander, confidante of Fidel Castro. Morgan was one of two foreign commanders. Che Guevara, Argentinian, was the other. Morgan disliked Guevara, a Marxist. He liked Castro, who waited almost 2 ½ years after Batista’s defeat to declare socialism. Morgan’s support died there.

The story is of a young man who became the person he wanted to be in Cuba, fighting for freedom. He wrote to his mother that he joined the Cuban Revolution because “the most important thing for free men to do is to protect the freedom of others.” We are led to conclude that the Cuban Revolution renounced freedom once Batista was gone: Morgan was supposedly executed for believing in it.

Even if true, it is an uninteresting conclusion. It commits an error we used to call, in Philosophy classes, “begging the question”: If you declare your own view of freedom correct, you can dismiss opponents by claiming they are not talking about freedom. Or, you start with a liberal view of democracy, notice Cuba has one party, and conclude it is undemocratic because it doesn’t fit your view.

It’s bad argument. It’s also missed opportunity. You win by dismissing the opposition, denying it exists. By the time Morgan was fighting for freedom, entire traditions, from throughout the continent, had discredited the idea of freedom he took for granted: the so-called negative view of freedom promoted by liberals to this day. It’s the idea, roughly, that we’re free if we can do what we want, within limits.

The truth about William Morgan is that he fought for freedom but didn’t know what it was. He didn’t know, for instance, that you can’t be free when your fellows are sobrantes. It’s not possible. We are interdependent creatures by nature. It’s not ethics. It’s science. Morgan couldn’t know what freedom was because of US propaganda. He had little chance of asking what human freedom really meant.

It’s hard to know whether the Cuban Revolution fell short of its ideals in Morgan’s case. In Canada and the US, failure to respect human rights and freedoms is considered an error, to be investigated and learned from. Cuba isn’t given that consideration. Any error, if it is an error (and we usually can’t know because relevant counter arguments are dismissed), means the whole system is wrong.

It is an impoverished approach that limits freedom of thought. It shuts out options before they’re even identified.  I’d like to think the “epistemic injustice” folk will take issue with national myths about freedom, so cherished they are almost impossible to question. It wouldn’t be bad to start with stories about Cuba. Just acknowledging there could be a question about what freedom means is useful.

The challenge of stories is that how they are heard depends on what people believe. Certain stories, even if told, are not heard. Being unexpected, they do not “read well”. Hence the challenge for those pretending to present Cuba “objectively” by telling stories. Perhaps, Trump will force the rethinking of (false) national myths. Or, we can take seriously those already raising such questions since long ago.

Notes

1. Félix Varela, José de la Luz y Caballero and their colleagues.

2. David Grann, “The Yankee Commandante: A story of love, revolution, and betrayal”, The New Yorker, May 28 2012; “American Comandante”, written, produced and directed by Adriana Bosch, aired November 17, 2015, PBS

3. I say “used to” because news analysts use this term now to mean raising a question.

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

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The Mother of Bombs Goes to Afghanistan

April 16th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

These are the times where magnitude and size matters. Bombs in number with much heft and presence are being sought to root out those non-state jihadists of the Prophet, destructively maiming and killing all before them in the name of the next heavily drawn out cause.

On Friday, United States armed forces busied themselves with dropping such a weapon of truly lethal size against a country that has had more bombs directed at it than worthy industrial incentives in half a century. 

It seemed to rival the announcement of a birth, and it was, in fact, sanctified as the “Mother of All Bombs” known less romantically as the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast. (The only other conventional weapon of greater scale is the physically suggestive Massive Ordnance Penetrator, coming in at a busting 30,000 pounds.)

The use of this particular weapon was tediously familiar, reminding villagers on the ground in Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan how their country has become fun and fodder for US air strikes since Trump came to power.

The new president, in turn, has built on the murderous momentum ushered in by the outgoing Obama presidency, which stepped up airstrikes in dramatic fashion with the departure of the majority of coalition troops two years ago.[1]  Afghanistan remains a vacuum repeatedly filled by failed missions and violent urges.

Bombs of enormous power, short of the nuclear variety, were deployed against an elusive Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The issue then, as now, was his use of labyrinthine tunnel complexes. The weapons of choice then were 15,000 pound “daisy cutters” with a supposedly adept pulverising capability.

In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Air Force Research Laboratory wished to add more punch to such weapons, designing a MOAB, ostensibly as a deterrent against the soon-to-be-deposed Saddam Hussein.

The 21,600 pound beast was used against a complex of tunnels supposedly designed by Islamic State, killing 36 militants. A subsequent report from Afghan authorities raised that number to almost a hundred, though their US counterparts were staying mum.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously,” claimed the historically challenged White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, “and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did.”

General John W. Nicholson, US commander in Afghanistan, referenced the desperate tactics of the ISIS group as a justification for the weapon.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defence.”  He further explained that, “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”[2]

In the meantime, WikiLeaks insisted on a dark irony to the whole story: those very same tunnels now being pulverised by mother bombs and what not were actually funded with resources from the Central Intelligence Agency.

WikiLeaks was hardly being controversial in mentioning it, citing a report from the New York Times by Mary Anne Weaver noting how the Tora Bora tunnel complex was envisaged and constructed during the war against the Soviet Union.[3] “It’s miles of tunnels, bunkers and base camps, dug deeply into the steep rock walls, had been part of a CIA-financed complex built for the mujahedeen.”

There was a repeated sense that this entire episode was one for show, the usual bullyboy psychology power tends to encourage. For one, would the North Koreans take note of this phallocentric display of might? The regime in Pyongyang has been more erratic, and theatrical, of late, keeping up with the Trump administration’s own sense of thespian bluster.

Using such a weapon also carried various risks, not least of all the prospect of obliterating villagers in proximity of the oxygen hungry blast.  In the optimistic and unconvincing overview given by Dawlat Waziri, Afghan ministry spokesman, the bomb had avoided causing mayhem to the civilian population. 

“No civilian has been hurt and only the base, which Daesh use to launch attacks in other parts of the province, was destroyed.”[4] 

Where such a monstrosity fits into the legitimate canons of international law is hard to see. At worst, it has been destructive to sovereignty and the restrained use of force.

“Through its use of blunt military force on non-state actors in South and West Asia,” Arun Mohan Sukumar solemnly notes, “the US had systematically weakened the restraints that the United Nations imposes on all countries, big and small.”[5]

Blanket justifications for such actions keep pivoting on UN Security Council Resolution 1373, deeming terrorism to be a “threat against international peace and security”, granting states the authority to target terrorism “by all means”.[6]  An unfortunate and unguarded choice of words.

The actual impact of the weapon in terms of overall strategy is also shrouded in vague Pentagon speak and speculation, the sort typical in this long, misnamed period called the “War on Terror”. It was, according to one spokesman, merely “projected… that the bomb has the ability to collapse the tunnels” upon combatants operating within them. Assessments would have to follow, and these would not necessarily be conclusive.

What a wonderful sense of purpose for this Easter: a massacre, another sovereign violation and an entire compromise of values in the name of military bravado. All of this merely adds to the fact that Afghanistan has become a military test site for the United States, one where belligerent big boys may test their murderous toys with minimal restraint.

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

Notes

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The Boston Marathon Bombing After Four Years

April 16th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Today, April 15, 2017, is the fourth anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing, a hoax event performed by crisis actors and tell-tale bright red Hollywood blood. Sheila Casey has done a good job of exposing the hoax just by using the time line and photos of the event. 

A number of agencies run training programs in which amputees working as crisis actors have a prosthesis affixed to resemble a bone as a remaining piece of a leg or arm. Casey examines the Boston event by timeline. First the crisis actors are assembled. Then the prosthesis is attached. Then the blood appears.  

Notice the photo of Miracle Man laying on his side clutching the back of his left thigh with a straight line sticking out from what appears to be below his knee. This does not resemble a leg bone. Moreover, a person with an injury this severe would not be conscious, and certainly he would not be ignored while aid workers attended to those with lesser injuries. Note also the bright red color of what is pretending to be blood. Many surgeons and trauma medical personnel have testified that blood spilled in injuries is dark red.

Sheila Casey walks you through the hoax. I am convinced that the only victims of the Boston Marathon bombing were the framed Tsarnaev brothers. The older brother was murdered in captivity. The younger brother was also supposed to be killed in the alleged shoot-out with the police, but the operation was botched. The younger brother survived a second episode of police shooting. He was taken into custody, held incommunicato, and assigned an attorney who participated in his conviction. He now awaits execution as his appeals are denied. No one has ever heard his story. We only have alleged confessions, including one allegedly written in his own blood in total darkness as he lay bleeding under the boat where he was found and shot again.  

John Remington Graham has filed evidence with the court proving the younger brother’s innocence.

See: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/08/17/fbi-evidence-proves-innocence-accused-boston-marathon-bomber-dzhokhar-tsarnaev/  

A person has to be extremely gullible and inattentive to believe the official story.  But that is what most Americans are.

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With the world still abuzz over the first ever deployment of the GBU-43/B “Mother Of All Bombs” in Afghanistan, where it reportedly killed some 36 ISIS fighters, in a less noticed statement the US National Nuclear Security Administration quietly announced overnight the first successful field test of the modernized, “steerable” B61-12 gravity thermonuclear bomb in Nevada.

In a well-timed statement, just as tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program and potential US airstrikes run wild, the NNSA said that in conjunction with the US Air Force, it had completed the first qualification flight test of B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb on March 14 at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

In the press release, the NNSA said that the “non-nuclear assembly test” was dropped from an F-16 based at Nellis Air Force Base and was intended to evaluate “both the weapon’s non-nuclear functions as well as the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon.”

This test was the first of a series that will be conducted over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service. Three successful development flight tests were conducted in 2015.

“This demonstration of effective end-to-end system performance in a realistic ballistic flight environment marks another on-time achievement for the B61-12 Life Extension Program,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, NNSA’s principal assistant deputy administrator for military application. “The successful test provides critical qualification data to validate that the baseline design meets military requirements. It reflects the nation’s continued commitment to our national security and that of our allies and partners.”

The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants, and mated to the tail-kit assembly section, designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.

Phil Hoover, an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, shows off a flight test
body for a B61-12 nuclear weapon

The B61-12 consolidates and replaces four B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.

The original B61 gravity bomb is the mainstay of the Air Force’s nuclear arsenal and one of the legs of the so-called nuclear triad, along with the intercontinental ballistic missiles deployed from either ground-based silos or oceangoing submarines. The B61 nuclear gravity bomb, deployed from U.S. Air Force and NATO bases, has almost 50 years of service, “making it the oldest and most versatile weapon in the enduring U.S. stockpile.” Numerous modifications have been made to improve the B61’s safety, security, and reliability since the first B61 entered service in 1968, and four B61 variants remain in the stockpile: the 3, 4, 7, and 11. However, the aging weapon system requires a life extension to continue deterring potential adversaries and reassuring our allies and partners of our security commitments to them.

The B61-12 LEP will refurbish, reuse, or replace all of the bomb’s nuclear and non?nuclear components to extend the service life of the B61 by at least 20 years, “and to improve the bomb’s safety,  effectiveness, and security” according to the NNSA. The B61-12 first production unit will occur in FY 2020. The bomb will be approximately 12 feet long and weigh approximately 825 pounds. The bomb will be air-delivered in either ballistic gravity or guided drop modes, and is being certified for delivery on current strategic (B-2A) and dual capable aircraft (F-15E, F-16C/D & MLU, PA-200) as well as future aircraft platforms (F-35, B-21).

President Trump has endorsed the ambitious and expensive plan to modernize the US nuclear triad, begun under his predecessor.

The March test of the B61-12 was the first in a series to take place over the next three years, with the final design review due in September 2018 and the first production unit scheduled for completion by March 2020.

Once the bomb is authorized for use in 2020, the US plans to deploy some 180 of the B61-12 precision-guided thermonuclear bombs to five European countries as follows:

  • Belgium – 20;
  • Germany -20;
  • Italy – 70;
  • Netherlands – 20;
  • Turkey -50;

… although in light of recent developments, and this weekend’s Turkish referendum which may grant Erdogan what are effectively dictatorial powers, it may consider reassessing the Turkish deployment.

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Donald Trump has reversed his national-security policies 180 degrees, and is now focusing it around conquering Russia, instead of around reducing the threat from jihadists. The reason for this drastic change is in order for him to be able to win the support of the U.S. aristocracy, who had overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton during the Presidential contest, and who (and whose ‘news’media) have been trying to portray Trump as “Putin’s fool” or even as “Putin’s Manchurian candidate” and thus as an illegitimate President or even traitor who is beholden to ‘America’s enemy’ (which to them is Russia) for Trump’s having won the U.S. Presidency — which they had tried to block from happening.

(And, actually, even Republican billionaires generally preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump — and almost all of them hate Putin, who insists upon Russia’s independence, which the U.S. aristocracy call by all sorts of bad names, so that any American who even so much as merely questions the characterization of Russia as being an ‘enemy’ nation, is considered to be ‘unAmerican’, like in the days of communism and Joseph R. McCarthy, as if communism and the U.S.S.R. and its Warsaw Pact that mirrored America’s NATO military alliance, even existed today, which they obviously don’t. So: the U.S. Establishment’s portrayal of current international reality is so bizarre, it can be believed only by fools, but enough such fools exist so as to enable that Establishment to do horrific things, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the 2011 invasion of Libya, just to name two examples, which got rid of two national leaders who were friendly toward Russia.) 

After Trump ditched his National Security Advisor Mike Flynn (whom Obama had fired for not being sufficiently anti-Russian, but Trump then hired) and replaced him with the rabidly anti-Russian H.R. McMaster (whom the aristocracy’s people were recommending to Trump), Trump was expecting to be relieved from the aristocracy’s intensifying campaign to impeach him or otherwise replace him and make the President his clearly pro-aristocratic Vice President Mike Pence, but the overthrow-Trump campaign continued even after McMaster became installed replacing Flynn. Then, perhaps because the replacement of Flynn by McMaster failed to satisfy the aristocracy, Trump additionally ousted Stephen Bannon and simultaneously bombed Syrian government forces, and now the campaign to overthrow Trump seems finally to have subsided, at least a bit, at least for now. 

Trump’s domestic enemies have been variously called “neoconservatives,” “Zionists,” “Democrats,” “liberals,” “Republicans,” and other such misleading categories, all of which ‘sides’ are now actually controlled by, and representing, only one side, the world’s roughly 2,000 billionaires (and this Forbes list doesn’t even include royalty, who are the topmost of all, such as the King of Saudi Arabia, whose net worth is in the trillions).

These are the individuals who control all of the ‘news’ media that have significantly large audiences, and who also control Wall Street, and who also control the giant oil companies, and who also control the top 100 U.S. government contracting firms, the top 25 of which are shown, in the ranking of the “Top 100 Contractors of the U.S. federal government”, as being:

1: Lockheed Martin. 2: Boeing. 3: General Dynamics. 4: Raytheon. 5: Northrop Grumman. 6: McKesson. 7: United Technologies. 8: L-3. 9: Bechtel. 10: BAE. 11: Huntington Ingalls. 12: Humana. 13: SAIC. 14: Booz Allen Hamilton. 15: Healthnet. 16: Computer Sciences. 17: UnitedHealth. 18: Aecom. 19: Leidos. 20: Harris. 21: General Atomics. 22: Hewlett-Packard. 23: Battelle. 24: United Launch Alliance. 25 Los Alamos National Lab. 

Those 25 firms are about 35% of the total, but they’re almost 100% ‘Defense’ Department suppliers, and so they show the extreme extent to which the extraordinary entity that President Dwight Eisenhower had called (only when he was leaving office — he had been too scared to say it while still in the White House) “the military-industrial complex”, has come to be the aristocracy that’s now joined-at-the-head to the behind-the-scenes U.S. government, and that uses, and is used by, that government (its politicians), in order to protect and increase their personal wealth. 

They thrive on war, because war is the ultimate government-expense. (Aristocrats have, over the centuries, benefited from government expenses, because those expenses are extracted from the public, and become income to the aristocracy.)

And, then, after a war is over, the entity who own the debt that the taxpayers will need to pay back, for all of those government-purchases, from all of those government contractors (basically the manufacturers of the machines for mass-killing) is whom?

The megabanks had been lending to those weapons-makers, of course, so as to enable these manufacturers to ramp-up production. The money that was lent to make those weapons, comes back to these megabanks, with interest, charged to those weapons-makers, who profited from these weapons-sales. Thus, it’s not just those weapons-manufacturing firms but also the megabanks, that grow from wars. In addition, the government has issued bonds to pay to the weapons-makers to purchase those weapons.

Those enormous debts, which had been paid to the weapons-makers, are now owed by taxpayers to the government to pay to the owners of those government bonds, which often are investment-firms, either the megabanks themselves, or clients of the megabanks. Ultimately, these debts often become assets on the mega-banks’ balance-sheets — and the same aristocratic families can (and often do) own or control both government contractors and megabanks, and sometimes also the investment-firms. This is the safe way, the low-risk way, for billionaires to become multi-billionaires. Virtually all of the risks of wars are borne by the general public, but all of the profits from wars go to the aristocrats. It’s a certain type of game, in which the billionaires are the players, and the public are the toys, which are played with; and, from which, multiple extractions are made, as the game is played. It’s like raising “game” (in the animal-sense) in order to shoot, and eat it.

Even the world’s biggest bookstore-owner, Jeff Bezos, became a major contractor to the ‘Defense’ Department, by providing cloud-based computing services to the war-machine, and then he arranged to purchase the world’s top neoconservative ‘news’paper, the Washington Post, to boost and to suppress the careers of whichever federal politicians have proven to be the most and the least cooperative with regard to expanding the budget for the only U.S. Cabinet Department that’s so corrupt it can’t even be audited: the ‘Defense’ Department.

A retailer, such as Bezos, doesn’t generally have much clout, unless he either owns a ‘news’ medium (such as the Washington Post) or hires effective lobbyists. At that high a level, things are very interconnected, and a player needs to have agents in each crucial part of the power-machine. So, Bezos does. But, so, too, do other high-tech leaders, such as the billionaires at Alphabet Inc., formerly called “Google.” They were heavily involved in 2011 helping Hillary Clinton’s State Department draw up the plans to overthrow two heads-of-state that allied with Russia: Yanukovych in Ukraine, and Assad in Syria.

Of course, ownership of almost all large corporations is usually hidden by layers of ownership, and sometimes only one class of stock actually controls the company, while other classes of stock are purely passive investors in the given firm and they have no real control over it. But, regardless, anyone who is paying serious attention to textbook versions of economic theory (‘economic competition’) is thinking about a mere fantasy world, a fantasy-game, not the real-world game; not the real world, at all — and the aristocracy also gets to decide who writes those textbooks (the rules of the fantasy-game), to make sure they distract the public from what’s happening in the real world. 

So, within that tiny society at the top of this planet’s power-pyramid, are being made the person-to-person deals that determine peace or war, life or death, for the general population, at any given time. These are the few people who will take their cut, no matter what. But, they need this cycle, of war, debt, and politics, to continue going ’round and ’round, in order to achieve what, for them, is “progress,” and to keep it going — ’round and ’round, like in centuries past, for themselves, and for their heirs. It’s a way of life; it is a tiny sub-culture, at the very top; and it remains remarkably constant, from decade to decade, and even from century to century. The illusion that the players care about the toys, is needed, in order to keep the game going, so that extractions can continue to be made from the toys, forever, and the aristocracy can thus become evermore bloated (“successful”), from this ‘progress’.

Here, at the following links, is a brief history of how this game has been proceeding, during recent decades, starting from current times, and going backward through the decades:

“America’s Secret Planned Conquest of Russia”

“How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed the West”

“During the Cold War the US was ready to sacrifice 40 million Americans to destroy Russia”

So: Trump has decided to do what he thinks he must do, in order to be able to stay in power.

In order to stay in power, he must be a type of President that, in some crucial respects, is more like what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were, than what he had promised his voters he would be. And the reason that this is so, is that this is what America’s aristocracy demands, in today’s American ‘democracy’.

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

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His attack on Syria’s Shayrat airbase looked like prelude for escalated aggression.

According to Bloomberg News, administration officials are undecided on what comes next. National Security Advisor McMaster favors deploying tens of thousands of US ground forces to northern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley.

Trump told Fox News “(w)e’re not going into Syria.” He often says one thing, then goes a different way, so it’s unclear what he’ll do so far.

McMaster favors a greatly increased US military presence in Syria. According to Bloomberg, Defense Secretary Mattis, Joint Chiefs chairman Dunford, and CENTCOM commander Votel oppose the idea.

Chief White House strategist Bannon accused McMaster of wanting to start another Iraq war. Pentagon officials favor escalating conflict in Syria short of full-scale war.

Following his meeting with Rex Tillerson, Sergey Lavrov said they agreed that further US missile or similar attacks on Syria are unacceptable.

Lavrov called the Shayrat strike a US

“provocation. (Tillerson) and I thoroughly discussed the situation and agreed that this should not happen again,” he said.

Lavrov knows his counterpart has no say over America’s imperial agenda – what hawkish administration officials and Pentagon commanders decide.

Separately on Friday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov heavily criticized Trump’s aggression, saying:

“According to an established tradition, every violation of international law, especially military aggression on the part of the US against sovereign states, is covered up by the Pentagon by the presence of some ‘indisputable’ evidence of atrocities.” 

“And the more contrived these pseudo-proofs, the more ‘secret’ they are.”

A CNN fake news report claimed US intelligence services intercepted communications between Syrian chemical and military personnel regarding preparations for attacking Khan Sheikhoun with CWs.

No such communications took place. Syria had nothing to do with the April 4 incident. Not according to neocon CIA director Mike Pompeo. He lied, claiming with “high confidence” Assad ordered the attack.

He provided no evidence proving his accusation because none exists. Assad called blaming him and his government a “100 percent fabrication.”

Russia wants an unbiased independent investigation of the Khan Sheikhoun incident, concerned about OPCW involvement.

According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov,

“(t)he trust for (its) activity continues to dwindle as (it) ignores obvious facts.”

It’s investigators draw conclusions in advance, he said –

“later impos(ing) (them) on the entire international community as the ultimate truth.”

“(P)ermanent (Security Council) member-states…and other countries such as Iran, Brazil and India should take part in” the investigation. “We will insist on this,” Ryabkov stressed, adding:

“We are very much interested in establishing the truth, and are not interested at all in the gambling the United States, Britain, France and other countries continue for the sake of attaining their geopolitical aims.” 

“We would like inquiries at Khan Shaykhun and the Shayrat base to be made as soon as possible.”

If chemical weapons were present on Syria’s Shayrat airbase, traces will be found. If not, Syria will be absolved of responsibility for what happened.

Washington opposes an independent investigation, knowing it’ll prove Syria had nothing to do with the Khan Sheikhoun CW attack.

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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Video: The Syria Strikes, A Conspiracy Theory

April 16th, 2017 by James Corbett

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In the philosophical discipline of epistemology, there does not even exist a generally agreed-upon definition or “analysis”of knowledge. Undeterred by that, by the caution about knowledge claims that this would warrant or by basic epistemological as well as journalistic principles such as reliance on evidence or logical reasoning, especially U.S. mainstream media would have us believe that it is essentially ‘known’ or at least very very likely that the recent gas attacks that were perpetrated on April 4, 2017, in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykun were committed by the Assad regime.

The actually quite plausible possibility that this could also have been a false flag attack such as the one used by Hitler’s Germany in 1939 in order to attack Poland or such as the one used by the USA in 1964 in order to intensify their war against Vietnam of course goes unmentioned since “false flag” is a big no-no term in mainstream-media just like “fake news” (remember how Senator Bernie Sanders got cut off in a February 2017 CNN live feed after used the term “fake news” in jest). The twin irony about the latter issue is that the fake news debacle from which the Washington Post and other mainstream media tried to row back unsuccessfully is largely self-inflicted and that it was instead successfully used by Donald Trump to become POTUS.

Fake News and Propaganda

But make no mistake about that: Despite Trump using the term of “fake news” rather indiscriminately, the phenomenon of fake news is perfectly real and has been around at least for decades. The perhaps best or at least most well-known explanation for this phenomenon was given by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in their legendary book of 1988: The primary function of mass or mainstream media is not to give the public objective information about events in the world but to manufacture consent about events in the world – as in “the type of consent or opinion that the power elite which runs the U.S. mainstream media would like there to be among the public.”

Especially when it comes to international conflicts such as Syria where the interests of different power elites clash with each other, one can virtually rest assured that the usual suspects among U.S.politicians and mainstream media are over large stretches not so much sources of information, but rather sources of sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant disinformation and propaganda.

Take, for example, a closer look at this April 6 article in the New York Times. The article is an entirely uncritical but aside from that decent report of events. The problem with that, however, is that lack of criticism where criticism is due essentially already amounts to propaganda of the subtle sort in the form of propaganda by omission or (self-)censorship so as not to lose one’s job or access. Take, for instance, the sentence “After being briefed on the chemical attack shortly after it occurred, American intelligence agencies and their allies worked quickly to confirm the source of the chemical weapons, administration officials said.” A more critically-minded journalist could have pointed out the revealing oddity of using the term “confirm” (as in “confirm that an already predetermined to be guilty party did it”) instead of “determine” (as in “determine which party actually committed the gas attack”).

A more critically-minded journalist could also have pointed out that American intelligence agencies such as the “rogue agency” CIA are ‘regime change agencies’ which have toppled or helped topple democratically elected governments around the globe and replaced them with fascist dictatorships (see e.g. Iran 1953 or Chile 1973, the first 9/11). As such, one should not put it past them or others to, say, get chummy with local terrorists a.k.a. ‘moderate rebels’ like Senator John McCain, to produce false evidence like former ‘secretary of offense’ Colin Powell, or to give false testimony like NSA director James Clapper. Little to nothing of that for true journalism essential criticism of power, however, can be found in such pieces of ‘softcore propaganda’ which revolve around the omission of the important bits and pieces, including the omission to report on protests against the U.S. regime’s actions in Syria.

Mainstream media ‘hardcore propaganda,’ on the other hand – think of the 1990 Nayirah baby incubator lie that was used to find an excuse for the Iraq war or of the “It was Putin’s missile”-hysteria back in 2014 after flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine–, generally hurls blatant and at best borderline plausible accusations at the intended victims of propaganda (also note the interesting reappearance of McCarthyism as ‘Maddowism’).

The general objective in these hardcore cases seems to be to ‘orwellianize’ a sane “innocent until proven guilty” into an insane “guilty (through mere accusation by mainstream media or politicians) until proven innocent.”In these cases, the appeal is not to reason(Aristotle’s logos), but to reason-clouding emotions (Aristotle’s pathos):

“Oh, the poor innocent children. Therefore, we must strike the VERY EVIL Assad regime which ONCE AGAIN used chemical weapons against its own people. MAGA!!!”

And with even your own daughter being oh so very “heartbroken and outraged” about the poor innocent gassed children (one wonders if poor Ivanka also cried big crocodile tears about the innocent civilians that her dad had killed in his ‘successful’ Yemen raids) and especially with militaristic war porn being served as a delicious side order (also see here or here), the U.S. military strike against Syria on April 6 could not possibly have been yet another insane U.S. foreign policy decision, right? (irony off again).

The August 21, 2013, gas attacks in Ghouta

The main problem with the Western narrative of Assad having gassed his people “again” is that there exists highly credible evidence and testimony that it was not the Assad regime but rebel groups and state actors that were responsible for the 2013 Sarin gas attacks in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus (not to be confused with the Chlorine gas attacks in Syria in 2014 and 2015). This version of events receives further support from the general situation back then as outlined in this April 11 CounterPunch article:

“In 2013, US-supported, anti-Assad forces were losing ground in the war in Syria. Assad claimed that the rebels were using chemical weapons in Aleppo in a last-ditch effort to hold territory. Assad asked the UN to investigate his claims, and they agreed, and began an investigation in Syria. Within days of the UN inspectors’ arrival, another chemical weapon attack occurred in Syria. Western media was quick to blame Assad, even though it defied logic that Assad would use chemical weapons when chemical weapons inspectors were inside Syria at his invitation.”

An extremely idiotic moment for Assad to use chemical weapons, but a very opportune moment for rebels and other parties to implement a false flag attack. This was also the general conclusion of UN commissioner Carla del Ponte: 

“‘Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals, and there are strong, concrete suspicions, but not yet incontrovertible proof, of the use of sarin gas,’ said Del Ponte in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.

‘This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.’”

Internationally renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh also reached that conclusion in his very revealing and hugely important article:

“In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.”

“[I]n recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam.”

Then there was also the curious case of a Mail Online article that got pulled. Its first two paragraphs read as follows:

“Leaked emails have allegedly proved that the White House gave the green light to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that could be blamed on Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country.

A report released on Monday contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence where a scheme ‘approved by Washington’ is outlined explaining that Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons.”

Among more well-informed circles it is therefore really an old hat that it was not Assad but the Al-NusraFront a.k.a.Jabhat al-Nusra– “the official Syrian branch of al-Qaeda” (i.e. the terrorist network created by the CIA) – including a number of outside parties such as the U.S. neocons that wanted and still want Assad to be gone which are most likely responsible for the 2013 gas attacks in Ghouta, Syria. The overwhelming majority of the population has unfortunately never worn that hat even though they should really give it a try (Behold the nice fit! No sir/madam, it is entirely aluminum-free).

Gregor Flock is an independent philosopher from Vienna, Austria. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Global Civil Society Network (GCSN) www.gcsno.org.

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The worst crime of the United Nations Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH, extended on April 13, 2017 and renamed MINUJUSTH) has been to kill over 10,000 Haitians with cholera. These deaths resulted from two epidemics of cholera. After the first epidemic in 2010, the UN covered up the fact that several Nepalese soldiers on one or more of its bases near the city of Mirebalais had become violently ill with cholera, and then the bases dumped the troops’ raw sewage into the Artibonite River. The second epidemic was introduced by an all-female group of so-called peacekeeping police from Bangladesh. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has apologized for the first epidemic, but the UN has so far not acknowledged contaminating Haiti twice with cholera.

The UN mission was brought into Haiti in June 2004 to serve as an occupation army after a foreign-sanctioned coup d’état; in keeping with this role, rapes, sex traffic, massacres, and murders have been its mainstays. There are countless reasons to rid Haiti of this degraded, degrading, and unwanted occupation force. The following are, to my mind, the top 10.

1. Common criminals in the UN mission enjoy immunity from prosecution. Though over 100 troops have been expelled from Haiti for child prostitution, human trafficking, and related charges, these soldiers have enjoyed immunity for most of their crimes, including their numerous gang rapes of Haitians, and the suffocation in August 2010 of a Haitian teenager working on a Nepalese UN base.

An officer from the Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU), working with Brazilian UN peacekeepers, helps to secure the perimeter of a bank in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

2. The UN mission serves as an occupation force. Together with Haitian paramilitaries, these troops ambushed and gunned down over 4,000 Fanmi Lavalas partisans soon after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed in 2004 in a coup plotted by the United States, Canada, France, and Haiti’s elite.

3. The UN mission has operated as a large gang that preys on the poor. The troops have shot and beaten countless Haitians who were merely protesting for food, jobs and homes. They have conducted numerous raids on slums such as Cité Soleil to kill civilians. In some of these raids the soldiers have fired tens of thousands of rounds at dwellings and schools.

4. The UN mission subverts democracy. On behalf of the US, Canada and France, the UN mission fixed the 2010-11 presidential and legislative elections to exclude 80 percent of the electorate and bring Michel Martelly to power. As part of these elections, the head of the mission, Edmond Mulet, threatened to depose then-President René Preval when he balked at withdrawing his party’s presidential candidate, Jude Célestin, from the second round. In 2015, elections financed and largely managed through the UN Development Programme (UNDP) were discovered to include a zombie vote of 77 percent.

William J. Clinton (centre), UN Special Envoy for Haiti and former President of the United States of America, is swamped by reporters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after his meeting with Haitian President René Garcia Préval. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Préval met at the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire (DCPJ), Haiti’s investigation bureau which serves as government headquarters since the collapse of the Presidential Palace.

5. UN troops have neglected Haitians during disasters and in fact showed spectacular cowardice in some cases. During the first 36 hours after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, the troops hardly assisted Haitians and instead searched for each other. After Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the troops did not lift injured Haitians to Port-au-Prince by air for treatment but mostly watched them.

6. The UN mission harbors vectors of disease. The UN introduced a cholera epidemic from Nepal into Haiti in October 2010 and another epidemic from Bangladesh after 2012, which have killed over 10,000 Haitians. There has been no amend for these deaths. Instead, the UN has exploited the epidemic to promote the sale of oral cholera vaccines by friendly pharmaceutical companies.

A U.S. search and rescue team carries a UN staff member, Jens Kristensen, into an ambulance in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The team recovered Mr. Kristensen from under the rubble of the UN Haiti Mission’s headquarters five days after a deadly earthquake caused the building to collapse.

7. By every measure, civic life in Haiti has deteriorated since the UN occupation. The rates of violent crime and incarceration in Haiti are low, but they have steadily climbed since the introduction of the UN force. The UN occupation has assisted the destruction of Haiti’s agricultural economy and the promotion of greater than 85 percent unemployment, abject poverty, and even famine.

 

8. The presence of UN troops on Haitian soil is illegal. Haiti’s UN mission is the only UN Chapter 7 force in a country that is not at war. Chapter 7 of the UN Charter gives the UN Security Council the power to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace” and take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security.” Participating countries have boasted about Haiti being a place where they could test their police methods and military equipment for urban warfare on an unsuspecting population.

9. The UN has trained a massive paramilitary force of Haitians. Together with embedded personnel from the private military and security company DynCorp, the UN has already trained a so-called Haitian police force (Police Nationale d’Haiti, PNH) of more than 15,000 to replace its mission at the highest level of personnel it had achieved in Haiti.

10. The Haitian people despise the UN mission. The perfidious UN occupation continues in Haiti because, through three presidential elections, the UNDP has conveniently arranged for winners who agreed to renew the mission’s mandate. For more than a decade, Haitians at home and abroad, young and old, have made clear that they want the mission out. Common epithets for the troops are vòlè kabrit! (goat thief), kakachwèt!(shitter), kolera! and pedofil!

05.Anti-UN-protest750

Haitians protest against the United Nations presence on September 23, 2011 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Nowadays the UN hides the identities of its contributors of police and troops to specific missions, but in 2015 the mission’s police in Haiti were supplied by Canada, Russia, Spain, Argentina, Norway, Croatia, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia; Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Philippines, Vanuatu; Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda; Egypt , Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen; Grenada, and Jamaica.

In 2016, the mission’s troops in Haiti were supplied by the United States, France, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Jordan, and Indonesia.

Dady Chery is the author of We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation | All photos are from the United Nations website.

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) continued their attempts to retake the town of Souran from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies in northern Hama. The SAA and the NDF had regrouped and deployed artillery units and military equipment for this operation. An intense clashes are ongoing in the area.

Reports appear that some HTS allies failed to absorb the pressure from government forces and decided to withdraw from the area. If confirmed, this will likely lead to collapse of the militants’ defenses in the area soon.

ISIS has carried out a number of light counter-attacks against the SAA and the NDF in the countryside of Palmyra. According to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq, terrorists had killed some 14 pro-government fighters and a BMP infantry fighting vehicle.

Meanwhile, government forces continued their operation aimed to capture the strategic Palmyra-Al-Seen highway. The SAA targeted ISIS points in Al-Mahseh, Al-Suane villages and in Al-Qariaten dam area

According to opposition sources the Syrian Air Force have carried out multiple air strikes targeting US-backed FSA group “Assud Al-Sharqiah” forces in the Syrian Desert to stop their attack aimed to break the siege on Jaish Al-Islam in East Qalamun.

Pro-Turkish social media activists have been spreading rumors that the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are going to hand over Tal Rifa’at, Mennagh and their surroundings to the Turkish-backed coalition of militant groups, known as the Free Syrian Army in northern Aleppo. According to the statements, this would be a result of some secret deal. However, so far, it just looks as a part of the ongoing Turkish media campaign over the Syrian conflict launched following the alleged chemical attack in Idlib. Since then, the Turkish leadership have repeatedly called for use of force and other measures against the Syrian government. The recent reports are likely aimed at fueling tensions between the SDF and the SAA in the province of Aleppo.

The SDF has announced the start of the fourth phase of its operation to capture the ISIS-held city of Raqqah. It’s main goal is to seize the northern countryside of the city. The SDF said that this effort will be supported by the US-coalition and called on civilians in the villages north of Raqqah to cooperate with them.

At the same time, ISIS terrorists are still in control of the important town of Tabqah and a part of the Tabqah dam west of Raqqah. The US-backed force is still struggling to capture these points from ISIS. According to pro-ISIS sources, some 28 SDF fighters were killed in the recent military developments in the area.

On April 11, the US-led coalition’s fighter jet hit a group of SDF fighters south to Tabqah killing 18 of them. The two sides allegedly launched a “joint investigation” to avoid similar incidents in the future.

On April 13, the Syrian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the US-led coalition’s airpower targeted headquarters and chemical weapons depot belonging to the ISIS terrorist group in the village of Hatla near the city of Deir Ezzor on April 12. According to the statement, a toxic cloud appeared as a result of the airstrike, inflicting major casualties (“hundreds deaths”) among civilians in the area. The Syrian Defense Ministry said that the incident confirmed the ability of various terrorist groups to obtain, to transport, to keep and to use chemical weapons. It also added that it does not possess any kind of chemical weapons and does not use them and warned that terrorists could use chemical weapons again in order to blame government forces.

Following the Syrian Defense Ministry statement, Col John L. Dorrian, spokesman for the US-led coalition, said that it is not true. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that it “does not have information, confirming the reports on deaths of people and nature of destructions, caused by the bombing, carried out by aircraft of the international coalition near Deir Ezzor.”

Separately, reports appeared in social media that some ISIS warehouse was in fire in Hatla in the evening of April 12. However, no visual confirmation has been provided so far.

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On April 12, Security Council met again to discuss the issue of chemical substances that caused the death of 87 persons last April 4 in Syria. A first urgent session took place on April 5 on the very same topic (see S/PV.7915).

On April 5, three drafts of a future resolution circulated: a draft elaborated by Russia (see Document 1 at the end of this note), a draft called “E-10” prepared by Non Permanent Members (Document 2 reproduced at the end of this note) and a draft presented by France, United States and United Kingdom (Document 3 reproduced at the end of this note). The main difference between these two last drafts has to do with Operative Paragraph 5 (OP 5): the version of the second text is considered by some delegates excessive, due to the request of extremely detailed military data to Syria.

A new version of this second draft circulated on April 12, with minor modifications. The text maintains OP 5 (see Document 4 at the end of this note) with the detailed list of military information requested to Syria. As well known, France, United States ad United Kingdom consider that what happened in Idlib is the result of an attack with a chemical weapon, and that Syria is directly responsible for this attack, even if there is no for the moment any investigation made by an independent body since 4 April 2017 to clarify the alleged “chemical attack”: see, for example, French Minister of Foreign Affairs declaration that does not use “alleged” when refering to what happened on April 4 and declarations of British Prime Minister (see press note of BBC of April 13). The last investigation on use of chemical weapons in Syria has been presented in January 2017 to Security Council by OPCW Fact Finding Mission, regarding an incident of 2 August 2016 (see letter and reports of OPCW Fact Finding Mission available here). It can be read in the conclusions (p. 16) that:

6.3 Based on the evidence presented by the National Authority of the Syrian Arab Republic, the medical records that were reviewed, the results of the sample analyses, and the prevailing narrative of all of the interviews, the FFM cannot confidently determine whether or not a specific chemical was used as a weapon in the investigated incident. From the results of the analyses of the samples, the FFM is of the opinion that none of the chemicals identified are likely to be the cause of death of the casualties in the reported incident“.

48 hours later after this alleged “chemical attack” of April 4, United States bombed with 59 Tomahawk missiles the Syrian military base to which, according to United States, “chemical attack” came. This strike constitutes a clear violation of United Nations Charter, as no military action can be taken without prior approval of UN Security Council. See on this particular point the analysis published by Professor Marko Milanovic (University of Nottingham) entitled: “The Clearly Illegal US Missile Strike in Syria” published by EJIL Talk.

In his statement at the Security Council, Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, commented the predictable effect of this strike ordered by President Trump in Syria without any kind of consultation:

A few days later, the United States targeted Al-Shayrat air base with a strike of 59 Tomahawk missiles. Under-Secretary-General Feltman briefed the Council on that extremely serious development on Friday (see S/PV.7919). Since then, we have seen more fighting and violence, with new claims of the use of cluster munitions in inhabited areas, barrel bombs and incendiary weapons, including in close proximity to Khan Shaykhun itself. The Secretary-General has made clear his own position. He is appalled by the chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun and calls for accountability for such crimes. In the aftermath of the United States strike, he is mindful of the risk of escalation and appeals for restraint” (see official statement available at the beginning of the meeting, available reading S/PV.7921, p. 3).

It must be recalled that it is not the first time that chemical weapons in Syria are discussed in United States as a possible justification for a military intervention. In 2013, a very interesting press article entitled “U.S. ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad’s regime“ published in MailonLine was removed and deleted, and “captured” by other websites (see text of the article recuperated by Reseau International).

The draft voted this Wednesday of April 12 (see official version available here) obtained 10 votes in favour, 2 against and 3 abstentions. As predictable, Russia vetoed the text, and China abstained. Bolivia voted also against, while Ethiopia and Kazakhstan abstained. In addition to the five Permanent Members, the following States are Members of the Security Council: Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay.

If we read Operative Paragraph 1 of this draft, it says that the Security Council:

1. Condamne avec la plus grande fermeté l’emploi qui aurait été fait d’armes chimiques en République arabe syrienne” / “Condemns in the strongest terms the reported use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic” /” Condena en los términos más enérgicos el presunto empleo de armas químicas en la República Árabe Siria”.

Spanish official version is extremely interesting due to the fact that “presunto” is closer to “alleged” that “reported”. Maybe our readers can find interesting wording in Russian, Arabic and Chinese official version of the draft resolution.

Despite strong political positions heard in France, in United States and United Kingdom on the direct responsibility of Syria in the “chemical weapon attack”, the representatives of these three Permanent Members at UN Security Council presented on April 12 a draft resolution trying to force UNSC to condemn the use “reported” or “qui aurait été fait” of chemical weapons. In case of the adoption of such a resolution, it would have been a very first “premiere” in UN Security Council´s practice. On this very particular point we would be extremely grateful to know of any precedent of a UN Security Council resolution condemning “reported” violence by a State against its own citizens.

It is probable that in a coming meeting, Security Council will consider the missile strike ordered by President Donald Trump of 6 April against Syria. A first urgent meeting took place last 7 April (see S/PV.7919), and legally speaking, no arguments can be found, despite the official statement made by United States during this meeting. Military reprisals are legally forbidden by United Nations Charter signed in 1945. Airstrikes launched without the consent of a State on its territory are in a very similar situation. On this last point, it can also be recalled that last December 2016, Denmark decided to withdraw from airstrikes in Syria (and Iraq), after Canada (February 2016): on Denmark´s decision, we refer to our modest note entitled “The decision of Denmark to withdraw from airstrikes on Syria and Iraq” (Debate Global, December 9, 2016).

On the different reasons and motivations to explain United States intervention in Syria, we refer to our recent note edited in Spanish, entitled “Armas químicas en Siria: Consejo de Seguridad y Estados Unidos“. It must be noted that during his intervention at Security Council last April 12, the representative of Syria said that:

This comes at a time when the Syrian army and its allies are achieving crushing victories against terrorism; national reconciliation is being concluded across Syrian towns and regions; and significant steps have been taken in the Astana talks, emphasizing, as Mr. De Mistura said, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria” (see the text of his intervention at pp. 28-21 of S/PV.7921)

Document 1: Draft elaborated by Russia

“Recalling the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic on 14 September 2013, and the Council’s resolutions 1540 (2004), 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015), 2235 (2015), 2314 (2016), and 2319 (2016),

Expressing its deep concern regarding the alleged incident with the chemical weapons in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic on 4 April 2017 reportedly causing large-scale loss of life and injuries, affirming that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international law, and stressing that those responsible for any use of chemical weapons must be held accountable,

Recalling that in resolution 2118 (2013) the Council decided that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons, to other States or non-State actors and underscored that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer chemical weapons,

1.Requests the joint FFM and the JIM investigative team to visit as soon as possible the site of the alleged incident in Khan Shaykhun and adjacent territories to conduct full-scale investigation using the whole spectrum of relevant methods, including the alternative information collection efforts and investigative skills, as was strongly recommended for such cases in the 4th and 5th JIM’s reports (para. 49 and para . 11 respectively).

2. Demands all parties in the Syrian Arab Republic to secure in accordance with the resolution 2118 (2013) without any delay free and safe access for the joint FFM and JIM team to the site of the incident and adjacent areas;

3. Requests the Director-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the head of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to forward through the United Nations Secretary-General to the Council for its consideration their proposals on the personal composition of the joint team to be dispatched to the Idlib Governorate of the Syrian Arab Republic based on the principle of a broad-based and balanced geographical representation;

4. Decides that the report of the joint FFM and JIM team should include all the evidences collected at the site of the incident and be provided to the Council for consideration;

5. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Document 2: Draft resolution E-10

“Recalling the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic on 14 September 2013, and the Council’s resolutions 1540 (2004), 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015), 2235 (2015), 2314 (2016), and 2319 (2016),

Expressing its horror at the reported use of chemical weapons in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic on 4 April 2017 causing large-scale loss of life and injuries, affirming that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international law, and stressing that those responsible for any use of chemical weapons must be held accountable,

Noting the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced, in addition to its ongoing investigation, that its Fact Finding Mission (FFM) is in the process of gathering and analyzing information on this incident from all available sources and will report to the OPCW Executive Council,

Recalling that in resolution 2118 (2013) the Council decided that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons, to other States or non-State actors and underscored that no party in Syria should use, develop produce acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer chemical weapons,

Recalling its determination that the use of chemical weapons in the Syria Arab Republic represents a threat to international peace and security,

1. Condemns in the strongest terms the reported use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on Khan Shaykhun reported on 4 April 2017, expresses its outrage that individuals continue to be killed and injured by chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, and expresses its determination that those responsible must be held accountable;

2. Expresses its full support to the OPCW Fact Finding Mission, demands that all parties provide delay-free and safe access to any sites deemed relevant by the OPCW FFM, and, as applicable, by the JIM, to the reported incident in Khan Shaykhun in accordance with resolution 2118, and requests that the FFM report the results of its investigation as soon as possible;

3. Requests that the Secretary General make the necessary arrangements for the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism to liaise closely with the Fact Finding Mission to expeditiously investigate any incident the FFM determines involved or likely involved the use of chemicals as weapons in order to identify those involved in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 5 of its Resolution 2235;

4. Recalls that in its resolutions 2118 and 2235 it decided that the Syrian Arab Republic and all parties in Syria shall cooperate fully with the OPCW and the United Nations including the Joint Investigation Mechanism;

5. Emphasizes that this includes the obligation upon the Syrian Arab Republic of complying with their relevant recommendations, by accepting personnel designated by the OPCW or the United Nations, by providing for and ensuring the security of activities undertaken by these personnel, by providing these personnel with immediate and unfettered access to and the right to inspect, in discharging their functions, any and all sites, and by allowing immediate and unfettered access to individuals that the OPCW has grounds to believe to be of importance for the purpose of its mandate, and decides that all parties in Syria shall cooperate fully in this regard; [op. 7 of op. 2118]

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report on whether the information and access described in paragraph 5 has been provided in his reports to the Security Council every 30 days pursuant to paragraph 12 of resolution 2118.

7. Recalls its decision in response to violations of resolution 2118 to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations charter.

Document 3: Draft resolution presented by France, United States and United Kingdom

Recalling the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic on 14 September 2013, and the Council’s resolutions 1540 (2004), 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015), 2235 (2015), 2314 (2016), and 2319 (2016),

Expressing its horror at the reported use of chemical weapons in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic on 4 April 2017 causing large-scale loss of life and injuries, affirming that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international law, and stressing that those responsible for any use of chemical weapons must be held accountable,

Noting the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced, in addition to its ongoing investigation, that its Fact Finding Mission (FFM) is in the process of gathering and analysing information on this incident from all available sources and will report to the OPCW Executive Council,

Recalling that in resolution 2118 (2013) the Council decided that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons, to other States or non-State actors and underscored that no party in Syria should use, develop produce acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer chemical weapons,

Determining that the use of chemical weapons in the Syria Arab Republic represents a threat to international peace and security,

1. Condemns in the strongest terms and use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on Khan Shaykhun reported on 4 April 2017, expresses its outrage that individuals continue to be killed and injured by chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, and expresses its determination that those responsible must be held accountable;

2. Expresses its full support to the OPCW Fact Finding Mission investigation and requests that it report the results of its investigation as soon as possible;

3. Recalls paragraph 9 of resolution 2235 (2015), which requested the FFM to collaborate with the JIM to provide full access to all the information and evidence obtained or prepared by the FFM, and stresses that the JIM should begin to fulfill its mandate alongside the FFM as it seeks to determine whether the incident on April 4 2017 involved the use of chemicals as weapons;

4. Recalls that in its resolutions 2118 and 2235 it decided that the Syrian Arab Republic and all parties in Syria shall cooperate fully with the OPCW and the United Nations including the Joint Investigation Mechanism;

5. Emphasizes that this includes the obligation upon the Syrian Arab Republic to provide the JIM and FFM with the following:

(a) flight plans, flight logs, and any other information on air operations, including all flight plans or flight logs filed on April 4 2017;

(b) names of all individuals in command of any helicopter squadrons;

(c) arrange meetings requested including with generals or other officers, within no more than five days of the date on which such meeting is requested;

(d) immediately provide access to relevant air bases from which the JIM or the FFM believe attacks involving chemicals as weapons may have been launched

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report on whether the information and access described in paragraph 5 has been provided in his reports to the Security Council every 30 days pursuant to paragraph 12 of resolution 2118.

7. Recalls its decision in response to violations of resolution 2118 to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations charter.

Document 4: Draft resolution submitted to Security Council on 12 April 2017 with the following result: 10 votes in favour, 2 against and 3 abstentions

France, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America: draft resolution

The Security Council,

Recalling the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) acceded to by the Syrian Arab Republic on 14 September 2013, and its resolutions 1540 (2004), 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015), 2235 (2015), 2314 (2016), and 2319 (2016),

Expressing its horror at the reported use of chemical weapons in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic on 4 April 2017 causing large-scale loss of life and injuries, affirming that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international law, and stressing that those responsible for any use of chemical weapons must be held accountable,

Noting the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced, in addition to its ongoing investigation, that its Fact Finding Mission (FFM) is in the process of gathering and analysing information on this incident from all available sources and will report to the OPCW Executive Council,

Recalling that in resolution 2118 (2013) the Council decided that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons, to other States or non-State actors and underscored that no party in Syria should use, develop produce acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer chemical weapons,

Recalling the report by the Director-General of the OPCW (EC-82/DG18 dated 6 July 2016) that the OPCW Technical Secretariat is not able to resolve all identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies in Syria’s declaration, and therefore cannot fully verify that Syria has submitted a declaration that can be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the CWC or OPCW Executive decision EC-M-33/DEC.1 dated 27 December 2013 or resolution 2118 (2013),

Recalling its determination that the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic represents a threat to international peace and security,

1. Condemns in the strongest terms the reported use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on Khan Shaykhun reported on 4 April 2017, expresses its outrage that individuals continue to be killed and injured by chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, and expresses its determination that those responsible must be held accountable;

2. Expresses its full support to the OPCW FFM, demands that all parties provide delay-free and safe access to any sites deemed relevant by the OPCW FFM, and, as applicable, by the OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), to the reported incident in Khan Shaykhun, including the site of the reported incident on 4 April, in accordance with resolution 2118 (2013), and requests that the FFM report the results of its investigation as soon as possible;

3. Requests that the Secretary-General make the necessary arrangements for the JIM to liaise closely with the FFM to expeditiously investigate any incident the FFM determines involved or likely involved the use of chemicals as weapons in order to identify those involved in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 5 of its resolution 2235 (2015);

4. Recalls that in its resolutions 2118 (2013) and 2235 (2015) it decided that the Syrian Arab Republic and all parties in Syria shall cooperate fully with the OPCW including the FFM and the United Nations including the JIM;

5. Emphasises that this includes the obligation upon the Syrian Arab Republic of complying with the relevant recommendations of the OPCW and the United Nations, including the FFM and the JIM, by accepting personnel designated by the OPCW or the United Nations, by providing for and ensuring the security of activities undertaken by these personnel, by providing these personnel with immediate and unfettered access to and the right to inspect, in discharging their functions, any and all sites, and by allowing immediate and unfettered access to individuals whom the OPCW or the United Nations, including the JIM, has grounds to believe to be of importance for the purpose of its mandate, and specifically that this includes the obligations upon the Syrian Arab Republic to provide the JIM and FFM with the following and take the following steps:

(a) flight plans, flight logs, and any other information on air operations, including all flight plans or flight logs filed on 4 April 2017;

(b) names of all individuals in command of any aircraft;

(c) arrange meetings requested including with generals or other offi cers, within no more than five days of the date on which such meeting is requested;

(d) immediately provide access to relevant air bases from which the JIM or the FFM believe attacks involving chemicals as weapons may have been launched;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report on whether the information and access described in paragraph 5 has been provided in his reports to the Security Council every 30 days pursuant to paragraph 12 of resolution 2118 (2013);

7. Recalls its decision in response to violations of resolution 2118 to impose measures under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations;

8. Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.

Nicolas Boeglin, Professor of International Law, Law Faculty, University of Costa Rica (UCR). Contact: [email protected]

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With the Trump administration and the mainstream media gleefully beating the war drums for a military attack on North Korea, there’s crucial historical context missing from the corporate media coverage of this issue. I suspect most Americans have never heard of of Korea’s “Sunshine Policy” (1998-2008), aimed at eventual reunification of North and South Korea. We certainly heard about it here in New Zealand, thanks to the mass revolt in Bush’s diplomatic corps when he deliberately sabotaged this policy to isolate and provoke North Korea into amping up their their nuclear weapons program.

On learning of the Sunshine Policy, my Americans friends are shocked to learn that North Korea moved from active engagement in 1998 in nuclear disarmament and negotiations towards Korean reunification to announcing the their first nuclear weapons test in 2006. They also have no idea of the deliberate steps the Bush/Cheney administration took to sink the Sunshine Policy, nor their devious motives for doing so.

Carter’s 1994 Agreed Framework and the Origins of South Korea’s Sunshine Policy

The Sunshine Policy grew out of a treaty (the Agreed Framework) former president Jimmy Carter negotiated with late North Korean President Kim Il Sung in 1994. In return for North Korea agreeing to cease its nuclear weapons program and permitting the return of International Atomic Energy (IAEA) inspectors, the US agreed to replace the power lost when North Korea closed its Yongbyon reactor with oil shipments and two modern nuclear plants.

The North Koreans kept this agreement, and in 1998 South Korean president Kim Dae Jung began his Sunshine Policy aimed at lessening tensions and building reconciliation between North and South Korea. In June 2000, leaders of the two countries held a historic three-day summit in Pyongyang (the first in 50 years) and signed a pact in which they agreed to work towards reunification. Among other provisions, the agreement included substantial South Korean humanitarian aid to address North Korea’s chronic food shortages, loosening of restrictions on South Korean investment in North Korea, the opening of North Korea’s Kumgang Tourist Region to South Korean visitors, the establishment of a family reunification program, the opening of rail links through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and a worker exchange program permitting South Korean workers to work at North Korea’s Kaesang Industrial Park.

In 2000, Kim Dae Jung won the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful implementation of the Sunshine Policy.

Why Bush Deliberately Sabotaged the Sunshine Policy

Unfortunately George W Bush, who took office in 2001, had very different plans for the Korean peninsula. In his view, a paranoid militarist North Korean threatening US allies South Korea and Japan was the most potent argument he had to justify his obsession with building a missile defense system. Once Japan joined the effort to normalize relations with North Korea, the neocons in his administration also had real concerns about the potential threat to US strategic dominance in the region.

In “Blame Bush for North Korea’s Nukes”, journalist Barbara O’Brien gives a blow by blow description of Bush’s calculated efforts to derail the Sunshine Policy, starting with his refusal to meet with Nobel Prize Winner Kim Dae Jung during his March 2001 visit to Washington. In January 2002, Bush would make his infamous Axis of Evil speech, including North Korea with Iraq and Iran as states deliberately sponsoring terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction. In October 2002, a month after Japan joined the diplomatic effort to normalize relations with North Korea, he accused the latter (with even flimsier evidence than his administration put forward for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction) of secretly developing a program to enrich uranium to weapons grade and unilaterally cut off oil shipments the US committed to under the 1994 Agreed Framework.

Bush would go on to pull US troops out of North Korea, where they had been working cooperatively with the North Korean Army searching for the remains of US army personnel killed in the Korean War.

As O’Brien asserts in her series, the immediate trigger for these moves was a visit by Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to North Korea in a first effort to normalize relations between the two countries. In the view of the Bush administration, an independent economic-political block consisting of Japan and a unified Korea posed a serious strategic threat to US dominance in Asia and had to be stopped. Her arguments make sense in view of the fact that direct US military occupation of South Korea only ended in 1994, a year after the South Korean people overthrew the last US-installed puppet dictator.

Provoking North Korea into Resuming Their Nuclear Weapons Program

In the face of growing belligerence and military threats from the US, in 2003 North Korea announced they were withdrawing from the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and restarted the nuclear reactor frozen by the 1994 Agreed Framework. They also announced they were restarting their nuclear weapons program and long range missile testing. In 2004, they would announce they had successfully manufactured a nuclear weapon and in 2006 test their first nuclear weapon

Whereas there was no evidence they had nuclear weapons in 2002 when Bush first leveled accusations against them, by 2004 he managed to convince them their regime was under sufficient threat they needed nuclear weapons to defend themselves – he also managed to convince Congress that the North Korean threat justified massive expenditures on a wasteful and questionably effective missile defense system.

Meanwhile despite growing tensions related to North Korea’s decision to resume their nuclear weapons program, the Sunshine Policy would limp along until 2008. A shooting incident at the Mount Kumgang tourist region (in which a South Korean tourist was shot by North Korean soldiers) effectively ended it.

Dr. Bramhall is a retired American psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand. She has published a free, downloadable non-fiction ebook 21st Century Revolution. Her first book The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led her to leave the US in 2002. Email her at: [email protected]. Read other articles by Stuart Jeanne, or visit Stuart Jeanne’s website.

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Why North Korea Needs Nukes – And How To End That

April 16th, 2017 by Moon of Alabama

Media saythe U.S. may or may not kill a number of North Koreans for this or that or no reason but call North Korea ‘the volatile and unpredictable regime’ –b.

Now consider what the U.S. media don’t tell you about Korea:

BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) — China proposed “double suspension” to defuse the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday.

“As a first step, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises,” Wang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.

Wang said the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is mainly between the DPRK and the United States, but China, as a next-door neighbor with a lips-and-teeth relationship with the Peninsula, is indispensable to the resolution of the issue.

FM Wang, ‘the lips’, undoubtedly transmitted an authorized message from North Korea:

“The offer is (still) on the table and China supports it.”

North Korea has made the very same offer in January 2015. The Obama administration rejected it. North Korea repeated the offer in April 2016 and the Obama administration rejected it again. This March the Chinese government conveyed and supported the long-standing North Korean offer. The U.S. government, now under the Trump administration, immediately rejected it again. The offer, made and rejected three years in a row, is sensible. Its rejection only led to a bigger nuclear arsenal and to more missiles with longer reach that will eventually be able to reach the United States.

North Korea is understandably nervous each and every time the U.S. and South Korea launch their very large yearly maneuvers and openly train for invading North Korea and for killing its government and people. The maneuvers have large negative impacts on North Korea’s economy.

North Korea justifies its nuclear program as the economically optimal way to respond to these maneuvers.

Each time the U.S. and South Korea launch their very large maneuvers, the North Korean conscription army (1.2 million strong) has to go into a high state of defense readiness. Large maneuvers are a classic starting point for military attacks. The U.S.-South Korean maneuvers are (intentionally) held during the planting (April/May) or harvesting (August) season for rice when North Korea needs each and every hand in its few arable areas. Only 17% of the northern landmass is usable for agriculture and the climate in not favorable. The cropping season is short. Seeding and harvesting days require peak labor.

The southern maneuvers directly threaten the nutritional self-sufficiency of North Korea. In the later 1990s they were one of the reasons behind a  severe famine. (Lack of hydrocarbons and fertilizer due to sanctions as well as a too rigid economic system were other main reasons.)

North Korean soldiers on agricultural duty – see bigger picture

Its nuclear deterrent allows North Korea to reduce its conventional military readiness especially during the all important agricultural seasons. Labor withheld from the fields and elsewhere out of military necessity can go back to work. This is now the official North Korean policy known as ‘byungjin‘. (Byungjin started informally in the mid 2000nds after U.S. President Bush tuned up his hostile policy towards North Korea – Chronology of U.S.-North Korean Nuclear and Missile Diplomacy)

A guaranteed end of the yearly U.S. maneuvers would allow North Korea to lower its conventional defenses without relying on nukes. The link between the U.S. maneuvers and the nuclear deterrent North Korea is making in its repeated offer is a direct and logical connection.

The North Korean head of state Kim Jong-un has officially announced a no-first-use policy for its nuclear capabilities:

“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes,” Kim told the Workers’ Party of Korea congress in Pyongyang. Kim added that the North “will faithfully fulfill its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for the global denuclearization.”

During the congress, as elsewhere, Kim Jong Un also emphasized (transcript, pdf, v. slow) the above described connection between nuclear armament and economic development. Summarized:

After decades of emphasizing military strength under his father, Korea is moving toward Kim’s “byongjin” — a two-pronged approach aimed at enhancing nuclear might while improving living conditions.

The byongjin strategy, despised by the Obama administration, has been successful:

What are the sources of [North Korea’s economic] growth? One explanation might be that less is now spent on the conventional military sector, while nuclear development at this stage is cheaper—it may only cost 2 to 3 percent of GNP, according to some estimates. Theoretically, byungjin is more “economy friendly” than the previous “songun” or military-first policy which supposedly concentrated resources on the military.

To understand why North Korea fears U.S. aggressiveness consider the utter devastation caused mostly by the U.S. during the Korea War:

via Jeffrey Kaye – see bigger picture

Imperial Japan occupied Korea from 1905 to 1945 and tried to assimilate it. A nominal communist resistance under Kim Il-sung and others fought against the Japanese occupation. After the Japanese WWII surrender in 1945 the U.S. controlled and occupied the mostly agricultural parts of Korea below the arbitrarily chosen 38th parallel line. The allied Soviet Union controlled the industrialized part above the line. They had agreed on a short trusteeship of a united and independent country. In the upcoming cold war the U.S. retracted on the agreement and in 1948 installed a South Korean proxy dictatorship under Syngman Rhee. This manifested an artificial border the Koreans had not asked for and did not want. The communists still commanded a strong and seasoned resistance movement in the south and hoped to reunite the country. The Korea War ensued. It utterly destroyed the country. All of Korea was severely effected but especially the industrialized north which lost about a third of its population and all of its reasonably well developed infrastructure – roads, factories and nearly all of its cities.

Every Korean family was effected. Ancestor worship is deeply embedded in the Korean psyche and its collectivist culture. No one has forgotten the near genocide and no one in Korea, north or south, wants to repeat the experience.

The country would reunite if China and the U.S. (and Russia) could agree upon its neutrality. That will not happen anytime soon. But the continued danger of an “accidental” war in Korea would be much diminished if the U.S. would accept the North Korean offer – an end to aggressive behavior like threatening maneuvers against the north, in exchange for a verified stop of the northern nuclear and missile programs. North Korea has to insist on this condition out of sheer economic necessity.

The U.S. government and the “western” media hide the rationality of the northern offer behind the propaganda phantasm of “the volatile and unpredictable regime”.

But it is not Korea, neither north nor south, that is the “volatile and unpredictable” entity here.

Update:

Yesterday’s Day of the Sun / Juche 105 (the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung) parade in Pyongyang went along without a hitch and without interference from the U.S. side.

Several new types of missile carrying Transporter-Erector-Launcher vehicles (TELs) were shown. The three hour TV transmission is available here. The military equipment display starts around 2h14m; the nuclear capable carriers are seen from 2h20m onward.

An early-impression remark from The Diplomat: North Korea’s 2017 Military Parade Was a Big Deal. Here Are the Major Takeaways

Even though Pyongyang withheld from testing this weekend amid rumors of possible retaliation by the United States, North Korea is still looking to improve its missile know-how. Moreover, the long-dreaded ICBM flight test also might not be too far off now. Given the ever-growing number of TELs — both wheeled and tracked — North Korea may soon field nuclear forces amply large that a conventional U.S.-South Korea first strike may find it impossible to fully disarm Pyongyang of a nuclear retaliatory capability. That would give the North Korean regime what it’s always sought with its nuclear and ballistic missile program: an absolute guarantee against coercive removal.

The “absolute guarantee against coercive removal” would, in consequence, allow for much smaller conventional forces and less resources spend on the military. This again will enable faster economic development for the people in North Korea. The byongjin strategy will have reached its aim.

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Mexico is the only former colony which, in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, won decisive victories over its creditors through its own determination. In 1861 Mexico repudiated a portion of the external and internal debt being demanded of the country and in 1867 overcame a large French expeditionary force.

Under the pressure of an authentic popular revolution, starting in 1914 and for more than thirty years, Mexico once again suspended repayment of its debt. During that period, with popular mobilization and social progress reaching high and low points, profound economic and social reforms were put in place, and after the Second World War Mexico’s economy gained in strength. This little-known history deserves to be put into the spotlight because it should serve as inspiration for today. It shows that determined struggle by a country under the domination of the major powers and international finance can make major social advances. It also proves that no victory is definitive and irreversible, a fortiori if those who govern fail to defend it.

This study devoted to Mexico during the period from the early 19th century to the Second World War demonstrates how a peripheral State can successfully repudiate a debt even if its collectors are backed by the imperial powers and their gunboat diplomacy.

The local dominant classes lent to the colonial Spanish State

Spain conquered Mexico with fire and sword beginning in 1519. |1| Madrid called its colony “New Spain.” The war of independence began in 1810 and ended in victory for independence in 1821. At the end of the 18th century, the local dominant classes, including the clergy, were lending to the colonial State and also to the home country at a rate of 5%. Mine owners, big landowners, rich Spanish merchants established in Mexico, and the Mexican clergy lent large sums to Madrid at an interest rate that varied between 5% and 6%. These loans, which financed Spain’s European wars, were raised by selling Spanish bonds to Mexico’s ruling classes to contribute to Spain’s war against England in 1782 and against revolutionary France in 1793-94. When Mexico’s war of independence began in 1810-11, the ruling classes cut off credit to the Spanish government in Mexico City and Madrid. The risks were too high. |2| Only the Spanish merchants residing in Mexico were still lending money to the colonial government in Mexico City in 1813, at a rate of 5%, |3| since they had every interest in seeing the independence movement defeated and because they were convinced that should the Spanish camp be defeated, they would be compensated by Madrid.

The struggle for independence was conducted, with a few exceptions, by well-off sectors of the population who were of European origin and who, following the example of the rest of Latin America, wanted to rid themselves of the colonial yoke. |4| As throughout the continent at that period, the movement was led by “creoles” – sons and daughters of parents of European origin born in the Spanish colonies. The leaders of the independence movement had little regard for the indigenous populations, who accounted for some 80% of Mexico’s six million inhabitants. |5| Following independence in 1821, Agustín de Iturbide, the new head of State, questioned whether or not the debt of the former colonial regime should be repaid. He envisaged three options: primo, repudiate the debt, since it was accumulated in the interests of the colonial power that had exploited the country; secundo, confiscate the Church’s property and sell it to repay the debt; tertio, issue bonds in London in order to pay off old debts. |6| In order to avoid conflict with the local ruling classes, who were the holders of a large portion of colonial debt, the President decided against repudiation. Similarly, to reassure the powerful clergy, he decided not to nationalize Church property.

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Iturbide with the Trigarante Army in the capital on 27th of September (1821)

So, against the interests of the people, Iturbide opted to borrow in London and devote a significant part of the proceeds from the bond issue to repaying colonial debt. Mexico’s ruling classes, or a large part thereof, had an interest in their country taking on foreign debt. The article “How Debt and Free Trade Subordinated Independent Latin America”, http://www.cadtm.org/How-Debt-and-Free-Trade, gives a brief analysis of Mexico’s bond issues in London in 1824-25. They set off a chain of events that were to unfold over the entire 19th century and strongly affect the country’s history in its relations with foreign powers. The terms of the loans were clearly abusive, as was their management.

In February 1824, Mexico issued bonds in London through the intermediary of the bank Goldsmith and Company. The conditions were harsh in that they gave Goldsmith abusive advantages. Whereas Mexico issued debt worth the equivalent of 16 million Mexican pesos (3.2 million pounds sterling – NB: hereinafter, pounds sterling = £), the country actually received only 5.7 million pesos or approximately, £1.14 million), or a mere 35% of the amount borrowed. Taking into account the interest to be paid whereas it actually received 5.7 million pesos, Mexico committed to repaying 40 million pesos (16 million pesos in capital and another 24 million pesos in interest, since the rate was fixed at 5%) over a period of 30 years. To express it simply, Mexico received 1 and had to pay back 7. Even at the time of the bond issue, Goldsmith made enormous profits.

In 1825, Mexico borrowed the same amount (16 million pesos or £3.2 million) from another financial firm, Barclay and Company, |7| and actually received 6.5 million pesos (£1.3 million). Again, over 30 years, Mexico committed to repaying 44.8 million pesos (16 million pesos in capital plus 28.8 million pesos in interest, since the rate was set at 6%).

Despite what the official narrative claims, the suspension of debt repayment by Mexico and other Latin America countries (and also Greece) beginning in 1827 was not the cause of the London financial-market crisis. It was the consequence. Neither was it caused by the upheavals which have continued to affect Latin America and other countries, such as Greece, until this day.

The crisis broke out suddenly in London in December 1825 as a result of the bursting of the speculative financial bubble that had swelled over the preceding years and mainly affected domestic British activities. In addition, egged on by the speculative fever, London bankers massively granted credits to countries waging independence struggles (the decisive battles fought by Simón Bolívar took place in Latin America in 1824, the Greek separatists were in a fragile position in their conflict with the Ottoman Empire, etc.) When the crisis started in London, the Latin American countries and Greece were repaying their external debts as normal.

In Mexico’s case, the two financial firms Goldsmith and Barclay that had issued Mexican bonds in 1824-25 had made considerable profits at the country’s expense. It should also be pointed out that Goldsmith had skimmed off the interest and the repayment of the capital corresponding to the years 1824-25 from the 1824 issue. But in addition, a quarter of the amount of the 1825 issue, made through Barclay, was used to repay Goldsmith for the year 1826! Goldsmith speculated on the Mexican bonds: whereas the bank had purchased them from Mexico at 50 % of their nominal value, it sold a great number to third parties at 58 % of their value. Later, in early 1825 when the market euphoria was at its height, the firm was selling them at 83% of their face value. |8| However, the firm of Goldsmith went bankrupt in London in February 1826, and Barclay and co. failed in August 1826. |9| Clearly, Mexico was not responsible for the failures; rather it was one of the victims. Due to Barclay’s failure, Mexico lost £304,000 that had been skimmed off by the firm to prepay the interest and the beginning of repayment of capital for the entire year 1826 and part of 1827.

The payment default of Mexico and many other countries that occurred on 1 October 1827 was caused by the sudden shut-off of credit that happened in December 1825. Up to then, through 1824-25, access to credit in London had been largely unimpeded. Mexico however, like the other debtor countries, had been counting on further credits from London in order to repay the preceding ones. The conditions the countries had agreed to on the loans made it impossible for them to continue repayment without new loans. In other words, the credit conditions of 1824-25 were so unfavourable to the newly independent debtor countries that they were unable to repay without further borrowing.

In the early 1830s, Lorenzo de Zavala, Mexico’s Minister of Finance, |10| stated that Mexico should have refrained from seeking credit in London because Mexico’s economic resources were sufficient. |11| Zavala, it should be noted, was president of the Constitutional Congress at the time of the bond issues of 1824-25. Lucas Alaman, who was minister in 1824, also recognized a posteriori, in 1852, that the London issue had been disastrous. |12| José Mariano Michelena, who replaced Borja Migoni, who had negotiated the 1824 and 1825 loans, in London in 1825 condemned the usurious rates. |13| And yet an author such as Jan Bazant, in a work published in 1968 and considered authoritative in academic circles, wrongly states that Mexico’s borrowing on the London market was a good choice and that, all things considered, the credit conditions were not so disastrous after all. |14| Bazant’s main argument consists of pointing out that other countries accepted conditions that were just as unfavourable. It is not a convincing argument. Objective criteria such as the issuance price, the actual interest rate, and the commissions paid must be considered. Mexico agreed to conditions it should have refused to accept. But in any event the 1824 Goldsmith loan was by far the most abusive of all those granted to Latin American countries during the 1820s. |15| That other governments accepted loans on conditions that were against the interests of their countries does not make those entered into by Mexico any more legitimate. Moreover countries like Paraguay and Egypt refused to resort to foreign borrowing during this same period, and managed very well without. It was when Egypt eventually did agree to massive foreign loans, in the 1850s, that its situation became disastrous. |16|

The close link between domestic and foreign debt

In contrast with the loans they granted to the Spanish colonial State at rates of 5 to 6%, the local ruling classes extracted usurious rates (12% to 30%, and even more |17|) from the new Mexican State, with foreign loans serving in part to repay the domestic debt. The rich Mexicans (big landowners – latifundistas –, powerful merchants, or owners of mines) who lent to the State had every interest in seeing the Mexican authorities continue to seek foreign loans. These loans were then used in large part to repay internal debt; and they had other advantages: they were a source of profit for Mexico’s ruling classes, who themselves purchased the Mexican bonds abroad. They were a source of the foreign hard currency needed by Mexican capitalists for importing foreign products (capital goods, consumer goods, armaments, etc.)

By financing a whole range of the State’s activities through borrowing, the Mexico authorities avoided increasing the taxes paid by those same wealthy citizens.

The use to which the two bond issues of 1824-1825 were put is a good illustration of this: 25% of the total amount went to repay internal debt; 15% was used for arms purchases in London; 8% went to purchase tobacco from major Mexican producers (the tobacco was then re-sold by the State); and 52% was used to pay the State’s current expenditures (payment of back wages, pensions, administrative expenditure). |18| This means that 0% was used for investments in development or for social expenditure.

The example of Mexico is very interesting from the following point of view: Mexican capitalists took on English or French citizenship to avail themselves of the protection of the London or Paris governments. The pretext used by France, Britain and Spain to justify invading Mexico in late 1861 was precisely the necessity of securing repayment of the debts owed by Mexico to French, British or Spanish citizens. Yet in fact some of those citizens were in reality rich Mexicans residing in Mexico but who had adopted a European nationality to obtain the support of the European powers in their conflict against their own State. In the literal sense, they were what is called in Spanish “vende patria”(“those who sell out their country”).

The debt restructurings of 1830 and 1840

As pointed out above, Mexico suspended repayment of its foreign debt (the Goldsmith and Barclay loans in October 1827) and its government attempted to make use of internal debt by agreeing, in 1828, to extremely high interest rates – the local ruling classes were very demanding: on 1 June 1828, the Mexican capitalist Manuel Lizardi granted a loan at an annual rate of 536%; on 23 July 1828, Angel González lent at 232%. |19| We should add that nine years later, in London, Lizardi’s financial firm served as intermediary between the Mexican government and the holders of Goldsmith and Barclay securities, pocketing substantial commissions (see below). |20|

The country entered into negotiations with London creditors who in 1829 had created a Mexican bondholders committee. In 1831, the Mexican authorities made enormous concessions to creditors. Whereas the arrears of interest for the period between October 1827 and April 1831 amounted to £1.1 million, they agreed to that interest being turned into a debt of £1.6 million (this is called capitalization of interest or transformation of unpaid interest into outstanding capital).

How did things stand after the 1831 agreement between Mexico and the creditors? In 1824-25 Mexico received approximately £2.44 million, and repaid £2 million in the form of interest and capital repayment between 1824 and 1827, receiving no further funds until 1831, and found itself with a debt that had increased from £6.4 million to £6.85 million. In the case of the Goldsmith loan of 1824, between February 1824 and July 1827 Mexico paid back £1.57 million whereas it had received only £1.13 million in all. |21| Mexico should have repudiated the loan due to the unconscionable nature of the contract, especially since the Goldsmith firm went bankrupt in 1826. Yet in 1831 Mexico recognized an outstanding debt of £2.76 million on the Goldsmith loan. |22|

In 1831, Mexico resumed foreign-debt repayments for a period of one year. In 1837, whereas it had received no further external loans, Mexico struck a new agreement with the creditors in London. The debt grew yet again – from £6.85 million to £9.3 million. Mexico made interest and capital repayments from 1842 to 1844. New negotiations took place in 1846, during which Manuel Lizardi reaped considerable – and fraudulent – profits from his country for the benefit of the bondholders’ committee. Despite the payments made in 1842-44, Mexico’s debt increased from £9.3 million to a little over £10 million, without the slightest additional credit being granted. This was purely an accounting trick that increased the outstanding debt for the creditors’ benefit while giving Mexico some semblance of relief. The additional commission that went to Manuel Lizardi totalled £876,000. After pocketing that sum, Lizardi dissolved his financial firm in order to escape future litigation.

In 1847, the USA made war on Mexico in order to annex an enormous portion of its territory. The USA took half of Mexico, annexing what are today the States of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Troops occupied the capital, Mexico City, for a time.

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Territories lost by Mexico in favor of the United States in 1848

After the war, Washington paid compensation for the annexed territories (15 million Mexican pesos, or approximately £3 million). A large part of that amount then went to repay the internal debt to the local ruling classes and to resume repayment of foreign debt between 1851 and 1853 (still in repayment of the 1824-25 loans). |23|

The disastrous international conventions signed by Mexico between 1851 and 1853 with Britain, France and Spain

In December 1851, Mexico agreed to sign an international convention with Britain under which it recognized a debt and declared that it was ready to indemnify British subjects and firms who had suffered losses in the past when the Mexican authorities had suspended repayments on internal debt that had been bought up by British firms. This convention was imposed by coercion: if Mexico wanted to issue new bonds in London, it had to sign this international treaty. If it refused, Mexico faced British military intervention on the pretext of obtaining justice for its subjects. Apart from the fact that this convention was weighted in favour of British subjects and companies, granting them excessively high repayments, it contained a measure that was even more harmful and scandalous and which deserves a brief explanation: a firm owned by a Mexican capitalist had obtained, using this convention, the guarantee of a large compensatory payment on the grounds that its owner, Martinez del Rio, had acquired British citizenship in 1843. The Mexican firm that had purchased Mexican internal-debt bonds succeeded in internationalizing that debt through the naturalization of its owner. |24|

The same year, Mexico signed a similar convention with Spain. Two others were to follow during 1852-53 |25| ; and between 1851 and 1853, Mexico entered into three such conventions with France. |26| According to Jan Bazant, half of the debt recognized by Mexico by virtue of these international conventions was in reality held by Mexican capitalists who had acquired British or Spanish nationality.

Britain, France and Spain, in forcing these conventions on Mexico, created an international instrument of coercion. By signing, Mexico relinquished part of its sovereignty and gave the foreign powers an argument for declaring war over unpaid debts. Until then the Mexican courts had refused claims by British, Spanish or French subjects concerning internal debt. And foreign courts did not deal with claims from their own citizens and firms if they involved the internal debt of a sovereign nation like Mexico. In agreeing to sign these conventions, Mexico was agreeing that its internal debt be turned into external debt, and that foreign States represent private citizens. As explained above, Mexico also agreed to allow Mexican subjects (capitalists, as it happens) who had acquired foreign nationality to have their interests defended by foreign powers.

Concretely, the domestic debts were replaced by Mexican government bonds that had international value and were repaid using customs revenues. The new external debt inherited from these conventions amounted to 14.2 million pesos (or a little less than £3 million). It’s important to make it clear that that amount does not correspond to any payment of funds to Mexico from foreign sources. Once again, it was simply a piece of accounting sleight of hand that transformed an internal debt into external debt. External debt, which before the conventions stood at 52.7 million pesos (a little more than £10 million) |27| corresponding to the unconscionable Goldsmith and Barclay loan of 1824-1825, increased by 14.2 million pesos to 66.9 million pesos. |28|

Clearly, in signing these conventions the Mexican authorities –comprised of representatives of the local ruling classes – acted against the interests of their country and of Mexico’s people.

We will see what advantages the foreign powers sought to gain from these conventions in the 1860s. Ten years later, the threat dramatically took concrete form when Mexican capitalists, beginning in 1861-1862, supported the French, British and Spanish invasion and backed France’s imposing of an Austrian prince as Emperor of Mexico. To permanently avoid the trap of international debt recognition conventions and the accompanying abandonment of sovereignty, the Mexican Congress adopted a decree prohibiting them in 1883 (see below).

The Revolution of Ayutla and the struggle between Liberals and Conservatives

In 1855, the dictatorship of the conservative Santa Anna was overthrown by the Revolution of Ayutla and the Liberal Party came to power.

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On the right, Juan Álvarez, named by the Plan of Ayutla as one of the 3 leaders of the forces of the liberation

In order to promote the development of a capitalist bourgeoisie in Mexico, the Liberals wanted to expropriate land belonging to the clergy and the indigenous communities. |29| The laws passed to this effect are referred to as the Reform, and were reaffirmed in the Constitution of 1857. In reaction, the Conservative Party, representing the interests of the clergy and large landowners, launched the War of the Reform against the Liberals in power, with the support of Pope Pius IX. The Liberal Benito Juárez, who had become president in 1858, was overthrown by Conservative generals. General Zuloaga, commander of the military garrison in the capital, usurped the presidency. Benito Juárez was forced to leave Mexico City and organized armed resistance against the usurpers from the North, while enjoying support from all over the country. Between 1858 and 1 January 1861, two governments coexisted – the Conservative government, which remained in Mexico City, and the Liberal one, whose seat moved about according to the needs of the war.

The scandal of the Jecker bonds issued by General Zuloaga, the usurper president

In 1858, the Finance Minister of the Conservative president of the period attempted to conduct a major operation to restructure/convert the internal debt for a total of 57 million pesos. The new bonds began to sell at 5% of their nominal value, after which the price fell to 0.5%! Mexico indebted itself to the tune of 57 million pesos and in return received only 443,000 pesos (less than 1% of the nominal value of the issue!) and some older bonds. It was a total fiasco for the treasury, but a gold mine for the bond purchasers. And in particular for the Swiss banker Jean-Baptiste Jecker, |30| established in Mexico City since 1835. A large shareholder in silver mines (the Taxco and Mineral Catorze mines), he had purchased a large number of bonds at between 0.5% and 5% of their value. One year later, Mexico issued more bonds internally using Jecker’s services. Jecker acquired bonds for a total value of 15 million pesos, and in exchange paid Mexico’s public treasury 618,927 pesos (approximately 4% of the value of the bonds) and bonds issued the previous year with a nominal value of 14.4 million pesos but which he had bought for next to nothing. The total cost of the operation for Jecker was 1.5 million pesos (that is, the purchase of a large part of the bonds issued in 1858 and the new 15-million-peso issue of Jecker bonds).

PNG - 100 kbOn 3 November 1858 Benito Juárez issued a decree from the city of Veracruz, revealed to the citizens of Mexico City by the clandestine press, which said:

“Benito Juárez, Constitutional interim President of the United States of Mexico, hereby informs all inhabitants of the Republic that: By virtue of the powers vested in me, I deem it appropriate to decree the following: Any person who, directly or indirectly, shall give aid to the individuals who have refused obedience to the supreme Constitutional government by supplying money, food, ammunition or horses, shall through that act alone forfeit the full value of the amounts or the goods that shall have been delivered to them, and will in addition be liable to pay the Treasury a fine amounting to twice the amount of money, or twice the value of the goods that shall have been supplied.
Issued at the Palace of the General Government at Veracruz, 3 November, 1858.” |31|

Jecker and the local capitalists who were financing the illegal government had been warned.

Repudiation of the internal debt and suspension of payment of the external debt in 1861

Having defeated the Conservatives’ army, Benito Juarez triumphantly entered the capital on New Year’s Day 1861. Juárez and his government repudiated the internal loans contracted by the usurpers between 1858 and the end of 1860.

Nevertheless, he offered to compensate Jecker for the amount he had actually spent, or 1.5 million pesos. Jecker refused and sought the support of France in order to guarantee maximum profit. Emperor Napoleon III was looking for a pretext for launching new colonial conquests: he wanted to take possession of Mexico (whose territory was three times bigger than France) and its silver mines. The French government demanded that Mexico repay the bonds held by Jecker (who, remember, was a Swiss national) and Mexican bonds held by French citizens at face value. The fallacious nature of the argument they used becomes even more obvious when we learn that France granted French citizenship to Jecker in March 1862, whereas the invasion had already begun three months earlier, in early January of 1862 (see below).

France had already attacked Mexico in 1839

France had already used the pretext of damages caused to its citizens in Mexico to obtain trade advantages. In the chaotic post-independence period, French merchants in Mexico suffered losses, and some had even been killed during the disturbances.

In September 1838, the pastry shop of a Frenchman, Remontel, was looted in Tacubaya. Louis-Philippe’s France demanded 600,000 pesos (3 million francs) for damages and in compensation for “forced loans.” When the Mexican authorities refused, France sent in a squadron which took possession of San Juan de Ulúa and destroyed the port of Veracruz. The Mexicans referred to this intervention as the Guerra de los pasteles (Pastry War) to show the disproportion between the pretext and the effects.

Indeed the war did have consequences for Mexico, who had to rebuild the port of Veracruz and lost customs revenue while the port was out of service. It was forced to sign the Treaty of Veracruz, in March 1839, under which it agreed to pay the 600,000 pesos being demanded, but above all granted trade advantages to France, in particular for importation of fabrics and luxury products.

Jecker went bankrupt in May 1860, and among his assets the liquidators found Mexican bonds from 1858 and 1859 for an amount of 68 million pesos, which means that Jecker had only sold a small number of them, despite what he claimed. |32| This brings to mind what the French banker Erlanger did regarding the Tunisian bonds issued in Paris in 1863, (see http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-how-France-appropriated). It should also be pointed out that the Duke of Morny, Napoleon III’s half-brother and President of the National Assembly, later acquired 30% of the Jecker bonds. |33|

As indicated earlier, Benito Juárez, after emerging victorious from the power struggle between Liberals and Conservatives in late 1860, attempted to restore order to the country’s finances. Britain recognized him as President in February 1861 with the hope that his government would resume repayment of the debt stemming from the Goldsmith (1824) and Barclay (1825) loans, honour the convention of 1851, and take on the debts contracted since then by the successors. |34| But in May 1861, Benito Juárez decided to suspend repayment of the debt outstanding from the Goldsmith and Barclay loans for one year. In July 1861, he extended the suspension of payment to two years. No payments were made to Britain, France or Spain, who had backed the usurping Conservative presidents between 1858 and 1860.

The French invasion and occupation of Mexico (1862-1867)

On 31 October 1861, Britain, France and Spain entered into an international convention under which the three colonial powers agreed to use force against Mexico to obtain payment of its debts. |35| The conventions signed by Mexico between 1851 and 1853 were cited as justification for the aggression. The US executive attempted mediation: Washington offered to lend Mexico the money it needed to resume payments to Britain, France and Spain. But the US Senate finally rejected that proposal |36| and preparations for invasion continued. The Spanish landed in December 1861, the British on 4 January 1862, and the French four days later. The French expeditionary corps was by far the largest. In the end, only France pursued the invasion. Britain and Spain were opposed to France’s plan to conquer Mexico, abolish the Republic, and install a monarchy. The British and Spanish officially objected to France’s totally disproportionate demands and declared the convention of October 1861 null and void.

The British and Spanish withdrew from Mexico in April 1862. The French troops took a year to reach the Capital and occupy it to install – with the support of part of the local ruling classes – a Catholic monarchy. Prince Maximilian of Austria was proclaimed Emperor. During his reign, which lasted until 1867, he unsuccessfully sought popular support by launching certain social reforms.
Maximilian of Austria was clearly a puppet emperor serving France’s interests. Recognition of the Jecker debts contracted by the Conservative presidents in 1858-1860 was among his first acts. Another consisted in issuing a new international loan in Paris and London for 200 million French francs (40 million pesos, or £8 million). |37|

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The new loan was successful only in Paris, where it was managed by two banks, the Crédit Mobilier and Fould-Oppenheim & Cie. The Crédit Mobilier had been founded in 1852 and benefited from the protection of Bonaparte. |38| The Fould-Oppenheim & Cie bank was directly tied to Napoleon III’s Finance Minister Achille Fould, who was the brother of the bank’s owner. The conditions of issuance were similar to those of the Goldsmith loan of 1824. Whereas Mexico indebted itself for 200 million francs, the sale of the bonds brought in only 100 million francs, a large part of which remained in France. Maximilian of Austria issued a second loan in Paris in April 1864 for 110 million francs (22 million pesos). The entirety of that amount remained in France. |39|Maximilian sought a final loan in early 1865 for 250 million francs (50 million pesos). |40| Of the total debt of 560 million francs contracted by Mexico, only 34 million francs actually arrived in Mexico. |41| More than half of the amount borrowed went directly to the French ministry of Finance. As for Jecker, he received 12.6 million francs.

The international military expedition sent by Napoleon III ended in bitter defeat; the French troops withdrew in February 1867. |42| During his brief reign, Maximilian, acting entirely as France’s surrogate, tripled Mexico’s foreign debt. Once Benito Juárez returned to the presidential palace in Mexico City and permanently ended the occupation, he repudiated all debts contracted by Maximilian of Austria and had him executed in June 1867. He also reaffirmed the repudiation of the interior debt contracted between late 1857 and late 1860 by the Conservative presidents Zuloaga and Miramon.

During the struggle against French occupation, in 1865 the government of Benito Juárez had contracted a debt with the United States amounting to 3 million pesos. That debt was honoured. Clearly the regime of Benito Juárez needed Washington’s support against the other colonial powers. It is also clear that Washington again adopted an imperialistic policy toward Mexico once the War of Secession was ended. As we shall see further on, the strategy used took the form of a policy of investments, in particular in railways. Later, Washington again resorted to military intervention after the Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910.

After Benito Juárez returned to power, Britain pressured him to resume repayment of the former foreign debt stemming from the convention of 1851. Mexico answered that this convention was no longer valid, since in the interim Britain had participated in a military expedition against Mexico in 1862 and then recognized the occupying regime of Maximilian of Austria. |43|

As for the outstanding debts corresponding to the Goldsmith (1824) and Barclay (1825) loans, Mexico did not repudiate them but made no payments until 1886.

And regarding the convention of 1852-53 with France, Mexico held that it was no longer valid in light of the invasion. Note that France eventually accepted Mexico’s position, and that diplomatic relations were fully restored between the two countries in 1880 without France demanding that former debts be recognized. This constitutes an important victory for Mexico. France did not want to lose the possibility of investing in Mexico and understood that to persist in making unacceptable demands on Mexico would get it nowhere.

We shall see that the government of Porfirio Díaz later adopted a policy toward France and other powers that was against the country’s interests where external debt was concerned.

The Porfirio Díaz regime (1876-1910) and the return to massive indebtedness

PNG - 153.4 kbA new period in Mexico’s history began in 1876 when General Porfirio Díaz (a Liberal who had served under Benito Juárez) violently overthrew the Liberal government of Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, who had succeeded Benito Juárez in 1872. This was the beginning of the Porfiriato, an authoritarian Liberal regime that would “modernize” the country by opening it much more to foreign capital, encouraging the accumulation of capital by a national bourgeoisie through expropriation and the accelerated development of capitalist relations of production, without completely ending pre-capitalist forms of exploitation.

The Porfiriato extended the Liberal reforms begun by Benito Juárez using even more authoritarian methods. |44| From that point of view, there was continuity. |45| On the other hand, whereas Juárez and Mexico had defied creditors’ demands for repayment of internal and external public debt, Porfirio Díaz adopted a policy that favoured the creditors. His government recognized old debts, including some that had been repudiated by Congress and by the Juárez government.

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Between 1880 and 1884, Díaz handed power to General Manuel González, a faithful collaborator. During this period major debt restructuring was conducted, leading to a new cycle of massive indebtedness. The Porfiriato lasted until the Revolution of 1910. Between 1888 (the date of the first international bond issue during the Porfiriato) and 1910, Mexico’s external debt was multiplied by a factor of 8.5, increasing from 52.5 million to 441.4 million pesos, and internal public debt doubled.

A most edifying calculation

In 1883, when Mexico’s Congress adopted the law establishing the limits of the debt to be renegotiated with the creditors, it came to approximately 100 million pesos. Between 1888 and 1911, Mexico paid approximately 200 million pesos in interest and capital repayment and its total public debt (external and internal) reached 578 million pesos. |46| In other words, Mexico paid back twice what it owed and ended up six times more indebted. The amount actually received by Mexico was extremely small, because the increase in the debt was essentially the result of juggling accounts during successive restructurings. In addition, the funds actually received were very badly spent, generally in the form of subsidies to capitalist railway owners (see below).

Despite this catastrophic bottom line, several authors considered to be authorities on debt have praised the Porfiriato. William Wynne writes: “The advent of President Díaz to power in 1877 marked the commencement of an era of peace and strong government, and in 1885-86, a definitive and workable settlement of the early loans was embodied in a comprehensive scheme of financial readjustment. With this accomplished, a new chapter began to be written in the country’s foreign debt history, indeed, in the whole social and economic life of the nation. A succession of new loans was contracted and applied in a fair measure to the building of railways and public works, while foreign capital in considerable amounts was employed privately in the exploitation of the rich natural resources.” (p. 3-4) |47|

Jan Bazant, in the conclusion of his book on debt in Mexico, writes: “During the Porfiriato, material progress could not be attained by other methods than those employed – methods which consisted in considerable growth of foreign debt and foreign investments, as in other countries.” (p. 240) |48|

These two citations clearly demonstrate their authors’ bias. They do not hesitate to embellish the Porfiriato and the regime’s policies of indebtedness, which in reality were catastrophic for the country and its population.

Caught again in the machinery of debt

Mexico ceased repayments of foreign debt in 1861 from Benito Juárez’s arrival in Mexico City and through 1888. |49| Note that the Juárez government, in the late 1860s, had the good sense to buy back a large quantity of the bonds affected by the conventions entered into with Britain in the early 1850s |50| at 10% of their value. For one thing, the cost of repurchase was low, and also, since the operation removed the bonds from circulation, the country saved money on interest payments and avoided future claims.

JPEG - 21.7 kbAfter he took power, General Porfirio Díaz sought to restructure the old debts in order to enrich the Mexican capitalists who held a large share of them and to improve relations with the major foreign powers. This he managed to do in 1888.

Since the Mexican Constitution did not allow him to be re-elected indefinitely, he passed on the presidency to General Manuel González between 1880 and 1884. González furthered negotiations with the creditors. In 1883, he succeeded in persuading the Mexican Congress to allow the government to negotiate new loans while acknowledging part of the old foreign debt – in particular that part related to the outstanding amounts of the Goldsmith (1824) and Barclay (1825) loans. The decree adopted by the Congress on 14 June 1883 |51| clearly repudiated the following debts: all debts contracted by the illegitimate (usurper) governments, those contracted by General Zuloaga and his successor, Miramon, between 17 December 1857 and 24 December 1860, and those contracted or renegotiated by Maximilian of Austria. |52|

One very important provision of the decree was that regardless of the origin of the credit and the nationality of the creditors, the debt must remain within Mexican jurisdiction, without the possibility of being granted any international dimension nor any revenue of the State being furnished to repay it. In including this provision, Congress wanted to deny the foreign powers the possibility of attacking Mexico under the pretext of forcing compliance with an international convention on external debt. Declaring that the debt must remain Mexican meant that in case of litigation with creditors, foreign or domestic, the only competent jurisdiction was Mexico’s. Declaring that no particular revenue of the State could be seized in repayment of debt protected Mexico’s right to make repayments only if it considered that it had the resources to do so. The limitations set by the law clearly show that for the majority of Congress members and Mexican public opinion, it was inconceivable to resume repayment of certain debts that were deemed “illegitimate” or “impure,” in the terms used in public debate by the main protagonists of the period.

The Decree of 14 June 1883, then, has twofold significance: on the one hand, it authorized the government of Manuel González to renegotiate old foreign debt; on the other, the legislature established constraints, limiting the concessions the government could make in meeting creditors’ demands.

On 1 June 1884, the government of Manuel González violated the Decree of 14 June 1883 by entering into an agreement with the international creditors in order to repay debts stemming from the conventions signed with Britain in the early 1850s. |53| The agreement with the creditors was finally submitted to Congress for ratification in November 1884. This caused major disturbances among parliamentarians and in the streets. |54| The members of Congress who opposed the agreement demanded a prior audit of the debts in order to determine their validity and legitimacy and decide what should be repudiated. The government attempted to force the agreement through Congress, causing major protests. Students led the demonstrations, and the repression resulted in one death. The debate in Congress was suspended, but that did not stop the González government, and then that of Porfirio Díaz, from entering into an agreement with the London Convention creditors, compensating them at a highly favourable rate and within a very short time. |55| As we have seen, at least half of the so-called “London” debt was held by Mexican capitalists. It is highly probable that 30 to 50% of the London bonds were held by Manuel González himself and by his brother-in-law, Ramon Fernandez, Mexico’s ambassador to France. |56|

The difficulties González encountered in Congress at the end of his term of office and the street demonstrations, all echoed by the press of the period, clearly show that debt was a central element in the national debate and that the orientation adopted by the government was rejected by a large part of the population.

Following these major incidents, Porfirio Díaz began his second term on 1 December 1884 and further reinforced the budgetary policy aimed at repaying the debt and seeking new loans.

In 1888, the restructuring of debt inherited from the Goldsmith and Barclay loans

Finally, Mexico issued new foreign debt in 1888, two thirds of the proceeds of which went to repay the balance of the Goldsmith and Barclay debt, by then more than 60 years old.

Let us bear in mind that in 1824 and 1825, Mexico had received £2.7 million (approximately 13.5 million pesos) from the Goldsmith and Barclay loans. Subsequently, it repaid £5.1 million (more than twice the amount actually received), including £4 million in payment of interest and £1.1 million in repayment of capital.

In 1888, Mexico used £5.4 million (27 million pesos) to repay the balance of the Goldsmith and Barclay debt. This was an out-and-out swindle. It went against the interests of the nation and served the narrow interests of the Mexican capitalists who held part of the old bonds. |57| Of course, foreign bondholders also benefited. And it was all at the expense of the Mexican Exchequer.

The 1888 bond issue, according to many major authors such as Jan Bazant, put an end to the 1824-25 debts, whereas in reality that old debt was replaced by a new debt of 34 million pesos |58| which Mexico was forced to repay until 1910, and whose balance was included in the debt renegotiations that took place between 1922 and 1942.

We can in no way agree with Bazant’s assessment, to wit: “With the 1888 loan the chapter of the 1824 and 1825 loans is closed. […] We can conclude that despite the many complications these loans had brought about for the country, in the final analysis they were a beneficial operation.” |59|

The 1824-1825 loans, restructured for the last time in 1888 (bearing in mind that they had already been restructured four times between 1830 and 1850 |60|) were a terrible yoke borne by the Mexican people.

Consequences of the Porfiriato debt policies

During the Porfiriato, the government imposed budgetary measures in order to produce sufficient financial leeway to cover debt repayments. Austerity measures included lowering public sector wages, increasing taxes and refusing any social spending.

Seven bond issues were made. The first one, in 1888, was essentially, as we have seen, to cover the reimbursement of previous bond issues. Those of 1899 and 1910 were again for similar repayments. That of 1893 was for general government costs. The 1889, 1890 and 1904 borrowing went straight to funding Mexican and foreign investors building railways.

By observing the nationalities, the localities and the names of the foreign banks providing the Porfiriato loans, we can trace the rise of big capital and the newly developing international financial centres. While the 1824-1825 issues were made in London by English bankers, or in Paris by French bankers the 1888, 1893, 1899 agreements were made in Berlin with German bankers (Bleichroeder, Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank). As of 1899 American banks make their presence felt, notably JP Morgan (now the biggest bank in the US) and in 1910 the French came back in force, under the banner of the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas (today the biggest bank in France: BNP Paribas). |61|

What is also striking is that the return of Mexico to the European Financial markets in 1888 as a borrower coincides with a general rise in European bank lending to Latin American countries. Since 1873, and into the 1880s, European financial markets had been through a crisis that cut the flows of credit and were only just finding a renewed interest in lending to peripheral countries. They were particularly drawn to feverish Latin American railway investments, whether in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay or Mexico.

Mexican indebtedness furnished regular, juicy incomes to Mexican and foreign capitalists holding Mexican debt which, as we shall see, was used to lavish gifts on big private railway companies. These companies, after having furnished their owners with quick profits, were at their own request, nationalized at great cost to the State. To cover these costs the State resorted to more borrowing.

Contrary to affirmations that the State’s foreign borrowing was beneficial, enabling the economy to open up and assuring the construction of infrastructures, there are convincing arguments that it would have been possible to financially stimulate real development useful to the population without resorting to borrowings rife with extortion, fraud and embezzlement. Old illegitimate debts should have been cancelled. (In this case the first two loans would have been unnecessary and so would the second two – taken on to service the first two). The private railway companies that built the infrastructure should not have been subsidized. Rather, it should have been built as a public service project with other priorities than the exportation of commodities and the importation of finished products from Europe or the US. Taxes could have been levied on the incomes and fortunes of the richest and on the profits of the mining companies in order to avoid, as far as possible, recourse to borrowing. What should have been done is organize agrarian reform, stimulate domestic industrial production, promote the domestic market and develop the educational system.

The Porfiriato agricultural policy

Under the Porfiriato, grabbing the land of the Campesinos, villages and indigenous peoples was institutionalized by surveying companies charged with establishing the boundaries of unclaimed lands. The government sold the lands to the bourgeoisie and paid the surveying companies for their work with stretches of the land that they had themselves delineated. But these lands were rarely unused; they were usually common property. The bourgeoisie, with the help of the vast repressive means of the State and private militias, waged a fierce war against the poorly armed peasantry, who possessing only their land and access to water, fought desperately. Peasant rebellions were put down and the haciendas of the big landowners spread over ever greater territories in spoliation of the villages. The process permitted, at the same time, to dispossess the population of its common property and to create a class of peasantry possessing only their labour which they were soon forced to sell to Capitalists to gain their livelihoods. |62|

Adolfo Gilly said of these violent spoliations: “This accelerated process of accumulation dependent on precapitalist economic structures coincided with a worldwide phase of capitalist expansion, which distinguished it from the classic primitive accumulation process. From this aspect the phenomenon showed certain resemblances with the extermination of the Indians in the US, and other resemblances with imperialist countries’ colonial wars; it was in fact a colonial war waged by a bourgeois government against its own people.” |63|

In a society that was still largely agricultural, Mexican capitalism developed primarily around the haciendas, vast agricultural properties formed around a walled-in central structure containing the owner’s villa, employees’ quarters and other buildings necessary for the functioning of the domain (administration block, church, granaries etc.). While the hacienda was brought to Mexico by the Spanish colonists, it considerably spread under the Porfiriato. According to Adolfo Gilly, because of its capacity to use and occupy neighbouring lands, the hacienda “is remarkably adaptable to produce or labour market changes, able to contract into a certain self-sufficiency or expand to exterior markets depending on the economic conjuncture.” |64| It employs workers of different kinds such as peones, indentured peasants bound to the hacienda by debts, and day labourers taken on as needed. As well as this combination of different social relations of production, the political power in the hacienda is held by the ruling class, which completes the strong central power of the Porfiriato at a local level.

As a good demonstration of the catastrophic nature of the Porfiriato agricultural policy, from the point of view of the general population: corn is the Mexican staple diet and local growers know very well how to produce it, but in 1891-92, Mexico had to import vast quantities of corn from the US to avoid famine. |65| The problem was that the big land owners preferred to use the land intensively for other uses such as cattle, sugar, coffee, tobacco and sisal.

A 19th century Mexican historian, Francisco Bulnes, denounced the government’s 28 favourites to whom they sold 50 million hectares (235 million acres) of land that were then sold on to foreign companies. Bulnes claims that half of the State of Lower California was sold to an American capitalist of German origin for next to nothing. Three million hectares (7.4 million acres) of excellent land in the state of Chihuahua were made over to a certain Hearst. The Rockefellers and the Aldriches are said to have obtained enormous amounts of land in the State of Cohuila. |66|

In 1910 land ownership was highly concentrated. Mexico had a population of a little over 15 million inhabitants in a territory of 197 million hectares (486 million acres). 834 land owners between them possessed nearly 168 million hectares (415 million acres) of that. |67|

The railways

General Ulysses S. Grant, former President of the United States and holder of a concession to build a railroad line from Mexico City to Oaxaca, declared in 1880:

“The Mexicans have a country of vast resources, and these [rail-] roads will develop them to the mutual benefit of both republics. We are now buying […] sugar, coffee, tobacco and numerous other articles from countries […] where they are largely produced by slave labor. We are constantly paying into their treasuries a large amount annually for duties, and we give them back nothing but sterling exchange. […] Mexico is not only our neighbor, but she is a Republic. If fostered, she can produce nearly all of those articles, and will take in exchange what our manufacturers produce. They will take from us cotton goods, locomotives, cars, railroad iron, rolling-stock, all the machinery necessary to the running of a railroad, agricultural implements, wagons, carriages, musical instruments, jewellery, clocks, watches, and a thousand and one other things too numerous to mention.” |68|

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Map of Mexico’s railways in 1903
Before the liberal Porfirio Díaz replaced his predecessor, the equally liberal Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada had been less willing to allow Washington to spread its railway infrastructure deep into Mexico. Referring to the semi-arid regions that separated Mexico from the US he declared, “Between the strong and the weak, let’s leave the desert”. |69| But Porfirio Díaz threw the doors wide open to the interests of Mexico’s northern neighbour.

The first railway line was inaugurated in 1873 and serious extensions went on from 1880, when the infrastructure counted 1,086 km, to the end of the Porfiriato in 1910. The infrastructure grew to 9,558 km in 1890, 14,000 km in 1900 and 19,025 km in 1910. |70| Construction and exploitation was trusted to US and British companies who enjoyed many advantages: abundant State subsidies, free transfer of land, requisitioned and badly paid work force, exonerations from taxes and duties, even the organization of their own private police forces.

A quarter of the federal State revenue was allocated to subsidising private railway companies. |71| By 1890 half of the domestic debt was allocated to subventions for capitalist owners of the railways (37 million pesos out of a debt of 74 million pesos). |72| Public subsidies covered between half and two-thirds of real construction costs. Grants were paid by the kilometre.

Karl Marx writing about railways in 1879

According to Karl Marx, “There is no doubt that in the colonies and in semi-colonial States the introduction of railways has accelerated the social and political disintegration, as in the more advanced States, the final development and thus the final change in capitalist production was faster. In each State, except in England, the governments enriched and supported the railway companies at the cost of the Exchequer. In the United States they were freely granted the ownership of vast tracts of public land, not only the land necessary for railway construction, but also several kilometres along either side (…). They became the biggest of the landowners, just at the time when immigrant farmers were seeking to create their farms along the railways to ensure the convenient transport of their produce […] Railways initiated a dynamic for the development of foreign trade, but trade in the countries that produced mainly raw materials for export came at the cost of increasing hardship for the labouring masses. .[…] The new indebtedness taken on by governments for the railways has increased their tax burden.” (Letter from Karl Marx to Danielson, 1879, cited by A. Gilly, p. 281, CADTM translation.)

The railways’ first goal was to favour external trade routes, so that the lines could be connected to the US network. All the regions they crossed were integrated into the budding capitalist economy, pushing up land prices and intensifying the spoliation of the peoples, as previously mentioned, while destroying their pre-capitalist life styles. Politically, railways also permitted the central authorities to affirm their power as they could quickly intervene in a rebellious region. |73|

At the beginning of the 1900s the two main rail networks were owned by private US companies. |74| In 1904 Mexico purchased one of them from the Speyer bank for $9 million. Previously, the Mexican government had borrowed to subsidize this network and now borrowed a further $40 million, of which, only $16 million ever appeared in the Mexican Exchequer. This $40 million loan was to be repaid at 5% interest over a period of fifty years, the final repayment scheduled for 1954. |75| In 1909 Mexico financed the purchase of the other network from its US owners by borrowing from US banks associated with the railway’s owners.

Purchasing rail networks brought 13,744 km under the management of the Mexican State or two-thirds of the total Mexican infrastructure. In fact the Mexican and US owners wanted to sell off their interests because the systems were no longer as profitable as when the State was massively subsidising them. |76| The State purchased them at high prices and to do so borrowed from the banks that owned much of the network.

Gilly also wrote “Considered together, the development of a domestic market, the integration of the economy into the New World economy and the development of capitalist production under the Porfiriato are one and the same phenomenon, the remarkable dynamism of which is borne out by several observations. Along with the railways the whole communications system progressed: the telegraph, which ran along the rails; roads, ports, postal services. Cities inaugurated drinking water and electric street lighting networks.” |77|

Foreign investment

Foreign capital investment is essential to industrialize the country:

“Around 1884, foreign investment in the country amounted to 110 million pesos. In 1911, it reached 3,400 million pesos […]. These investments were in the following sectors: railways 33.2% ; mining 24%; oil 3.1%; public debt 14.6%; commercial 4.9%; banking 3.6%; electricity and public services 7% ; agriculture, stock-breeding and forestry 5.7% ; industry and transformation 3.9%. 62% of total foreign investment came from Europe (90% of which was British or French) and 38 % from North America. However, Mexico represented only 5.5% of European foreign investment whereas it took 45.5% of US foreign investments.” |78|

Towards the end of the Porfiriato, when drilling started for the oil that had been discovered in 1901, the investments came from Britain and the US.

The end of the Porfiriato and the beginning of the 1910 Revolution

“For a generation Porfirio Díaz ruled Mexico with an iron hand. During that period he transformed a turbulent and bandit-ridden land into a peaceful and law-abiding country in which life and property were secure.” |79| For William Wynne, jurist and author of this opinion, the rights to be defended are those of capitalists seeking to grab the country’s and people’s resources. A dictatorship such as that of Porfirio Díaz helps this along and by doing so gains this kind of approval. In Wynne’s opinion it is fundamental that the country get into debt and the creditors be repaid without the legitimacy or legality of the loans being contested. Wynne saw the Porfiriato measures as positive.

In fact, there was such a widespread process of dispossession, spoliation and exploitation that revolution was brewing and ready to burst. It started by a rejection of Porfirio Díaz’s authoritarianism but from the beginning it included social and identity issues. The communities of despoiled indigenous peasants wanted justice. They wanted the return of lands that had been stolen from them, so as to regain their livelihoods. The workers wanted better labour laws and political rights. Other social sectors, victims of capitalist development under the Porfiriato, made demands and eventually joined the revolution that set its mark on the Mexico of the 1910s

Revolution broke out in response to calls to resistance when in 1910 the by now very unpopular General Porfirio Díaz, at the age of 80 and in power since 1876, was again re-elected. The calls were notably made by Francisco I. Madero, son of a wealthy capitalist family, |80| who had founded the National Anti-re-election Party in 1909.

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After a difficult start, the uprising, which had met its first successes in the north of the country, spread to other regions, notably to Morelos (south of the capital) where the indigenous leader Emiliano Zapata and his companions fought for the restitution of common lands plundered by big landowners. The successes of the revolution forced Porfirio Díaz to resign in May 1911 and go into exile in Europe. |81|

Once elected president in October 1911, Madero tried to channel the ongoing revolution. He refused the agrarian reforms demanded by Emiliano Zapata |82| and his partisans but he also annoyed US conservatives. He was assassinated in February 1913 after a coup d’état set-up by the US Embassy and led by General Victoriano Huerta, who Madero had put at the head of the Strategic Military Command. William H. Taft was president of the USA |83| and had direct interests in several US conglomerates active in Mexico. |84|

In 1911-12 Mexico borrowed $20 million from the Speyer bank in New York who, as we have seen, had previously granted loans to the Porfirio Díaz regime in 1904 and 1909. The 1912 loan was partly used to pay the interest on the first loan and was to be repaid in record time in 1913. After Madero’s assassination, the usurper, Huerta, managed to raise the equivalent of 58 million pesos in Paris in June 1913. The US banks were clearly becoming aware of the extent of the revolution and the dangers it represented for them; whereas European banks jumped at the chance to lend to the dictator during the euphoric period that preceded the First World War. French banks (mainly the Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas and Société Générale) subscribed 45 % of the total amount, German banks (including Deutsche Bank) 19% and an English bank also subscribed for 19%. The New York banks JP Morgan and Kuhn Loeb only subscribed 12%. Speyer did not take part in the loan but supported it as the funds would be used to pay the loans it had granted in 1911-12. By January 1914 Huerta was in a financial stranglehold and suspended debt repayments. |85| Mexico did not resume payments until 30 years later after having won an enormous victory against its creditors (see further on). Mexico did not resort to foreign banks again until the second half of the 1950s (US banks became Mexico’s principal lenders).

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Victoriano Huerta

The Mexican revolution 1910-20

The Mexican revolution had deep-seated implications. The principal protagonists were the indigenous peasantry (who made up the majority of the population), while the workers’ role, although important, was only secondary. |86| Nevertheless, the repression of the miners in 1906 in Cananea, in the east of the State of Sonora, and of the workers of Río Banco, at Veracruz, had exacerbated popular discontent and contributed to creating the conditions that led to the revolution.

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Pancho Villa and his escort, 1911

The movement led by Zapata was the most advanced among the population. It was very widespread in the State of Morelos and became the “Commune of Morelos”. Zapata and his movement promoted, as of November 1911, the Ayala Plan which went much further than President Madero’s, known as the Saint Luis de Potosi Plan.While Madero went no further than to revise decisions through which the Porfiriato plundered vast stretches of land at the expense of indigenous communities and Campesinos, the Ayala Plan called for arms to put an end to private ownership of the vast stretches of land. Zapata and his Plan called for the redistribution of the land to the smallholders who worked it, and for the land seized by aggressively applied laws going back to 1856, to be returned to the communities who had been dispossessed. The war-cry was “Reform, Liberty, Justice and Law”.

Madero organized the repression of the Zapatista movement that he wanted to destroy as well as against socialist and anarchist movements in the north. The elimination of Madero by Huerta was welcomed by the ex-Porfirists, the Catholic Church and the armed forces. The repression against the popular movements intensified.

JPEG - 72.9 kbVenustiano Carranza, a liberal leader and admirer of Benito Juárez, called for the overthrow of General Huerta and so made a momentary alliance with the Southern Liberation Army and with Pancho Villa, |87| who had created the Northern Division near the US border. Carranza repudiated the debt Huerta had signed in 1913. Meanwhile, the democrat Woodrow Wilson succeeded William Taft as US President. Taft’s policy concerning Huerta was not the same; he considered him a usurper and preferred to await the outcome before granting US recognition. To sway the balance, Wilson sent 44 US navy ships to block the port of Veracruz on the pretence of preventing German arms supplies from reaching Huerta.

Although the social ideas and objectives of Pancho Villa |88| were less progressive than those of the Zapatistas, the two groups came to an agreement in order to influence the process. Their armies met in Mexico City at the end of November 1914. The two leaders came together at the presidential palace on 6 December 1914, in opposition to Carranza.

Finally, after much difficulty and several battles against Huerta’s and Pancho Villa’s troops, who represented opposite sides, Carranza gained the advantage and Huerta was forced into exile in July 1914, after which, Washington recognized Carranza as de facto President. From then on the US intervened directly to end the threats from Zapata and Villa, whose intentions were a threat to the interests of its big businesses (plantations, mining, oil, etc.).

To help Carranza destroy Zapata’s social basis and organize his assassination Washington sent him 53,000 rifles in 1915. Carranza launched an offensive against Zapatista resistants: mass executions and deportations took place, villages were destroyed, a 100km long trench was dug around the capital city to protect it against Zapatist attacks and chemical weapons supplied by Washington were also used. |89| Yet despite the magnitude of the atrocities committed the objective completely failed. The Zapatista army was again operational within a year.

Furthermore, on 15 March 1915, the US sent an expeditionary force of 12,000 troops (5,000 according to some authors), under General Pershing, to the State of Chihuahua to eliminate Pancho Villa. Among the other officers were two future generals, Patton, who made their names at the battle of the Ardennes in the winter of 1944, and Eisenhower, who was to become 34th President of the United States of America after the Second World War. The operation was a fiasco; Pancho Villa’s resistance won through.

The failure to quell Pancho Villa’s forces and the Zapatista movement was clearly due to the enormous popular support the two movements enjoyed. Fierce repression could not end it for as long as the revolutionary momentum lasted, which it did until 1918-1919.

In order to consolidate his power, Carranza passed social measures applicable to rural as well as to urban sectors. He was well aware that to take the sting out of the Zapatista movement it was necessary to meet some of the popular demands.

When the capital was retaken without hostilities after the Zapatista and Villista troops’ voluntary withdrawal (neither had ever had the intention of taking power or of occupying the capital), Carranza applied his new measures to the rural and urban sectors and made agreements with the trade unions which included the distribution of humanitarian aid. He supported the electricians’ union against their bosses and arrested tradesmen and 180 priests. The leaders of the “Worldwide Workers” Anarchist unions signed an agreement with Carranza and the influential General Obregon to join the war against Pancho Villa in exchange for concessions. |90| On 6 January 1915, Carranza passed a law of agrarian reform of limited application with the intention of alienating Zapata’s and Villa’s rural base.

A year after the pact with the Anarchists Carranza ended the concessions. He no longer had any use for them; Villa’s Northern Division had been destroyed. Repression started against the workers and the unions. Repression quashed a great general strike that began in Mexico City on 31 July 1916. |91| At the same time, during July and August 1916, there was a massive offensive against the Zapatistas in the State of Morelos.

In spite of all these tragic and unpopular acts, in January 1917 Carranza managed to consolidate his power and give it a cloak of legitimacy by adopting what was, for its day, one of the world’s most socially advanced constitutions. This constitution included some elements of the Ayala Plan. It stated that the Nation should keep control of its natural resources, and that the Peasantry should have access to the land. It announced an agrarian reform and social rights (an eight hour day, union rights, the right to strike, a minimum wage, limitations on the work of women and children).

Letter from Emiliano Zapata to the Russian Revolution dated 14 February 1918.

It would be wrong to imagine that Emiliano Zapata limited his visions to Mexico and the Campesinos. The following extracts of his letter to the Russian revolutionaries clearly show the importance he gave to solidarity between the two great revolutions of the time and the necessity of cooperation between workers and peasants:

“We would win much, Humanity and Justice would win much, if all the peoples of the Americas and the older European Nations understood that the cause of the Mexican Revolution and the cause of Russia incarnate and represent the cause of Humanity, the supreme interest of all the oppressed peoples […]

Here as there, there are inhuman masters, who, greedy and cruel from father to son, brutally exploit the great masses of the peasantry. Here as there, enslaved men, men of broken spirit, are starting to awaken, to cry out, to act, to revolt.

It is not surprising that the proletariat of the World applauds and admires the Russian Revolution, in the same way that they will join, sympathize and support our Mexican Revolution as soon as they realize what its goals are […].

This is why the diffusion and propaganda effort that you have undertaken in the name of truth is so interesting; this is why you should go to all the associations and workers’ centres in the World to have them realize the importance of taking on the double task of raising the awareness of the worker’s struggle and forming the peasantry’s class consciousness. It must not be forgotten that because of their interdependence, the emancipation of the workers cannot succeed unless it goes hand in hand with the liberation of the peasantry. Otherwise, the bourgeoisie will always be able to get the upper hand by setting one against the other, for example, using the ignorance of the peasants to combat and restrict the workers’ rightful anger, or enrol unaware workers to fight their country brothers.”

We can see here why the Mexican ruling classes and the US government wanted to be rid of Emiliano Zapata. |92|

In April 1919, Carranza managed, through trickery, to have Zapata assassinated.

In 1920, Carranza was ousted by the General Alvero Obregon, a key collaborator. Some months later, on 1 September 1920, Obregon was officially elected President with more than one million votes. He had the support of union leaders, particularly those of the Confederacion Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM, the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers), a trade union founded in 1918. In 1920, Obregon persuaded Villa to lay down his arms and demobilize his remaining loyal soldiers. In return, he would receive a pension and his grade of regimental General in the federal army would be recognized. Villa too was assassinated, in 1923.

The revolutionary dynamic petered out during 1918-1919. The most ardent and visionary men and women, such as Emiliano Zapata and his partisans, were either eliminated or absorbed by the capitalist system. The country had a very progressive constitution but it was only partially applied and the local ruling classes quickly started to work towards abolishing the important concessions they had been forced into during the revolution.

Successive governments gradually buried the great social conquests achieved between 1911-1917 but they resurfaced in force as of 1934 (see further on). The governments also sought compromise with the creditors from 1921.

Debt renegotiations from 1921

Between 1922 and 1942 (20 years!), extended negotiations were held with a consortium of creditors chaired by one of the executive officers at JPMorgan.

In February 1919, a cartel of banks to which Mexico owed money was set up and called the International Committee of Bankers on Mexico. It was chaired T. W. Lamont, who represented JPMorgan and brought together banks from the US, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.

In 1921, President A. Obregón invited T. W. Lamont to Mexico to start negotiations that resulted in an agreement in June 1922. |93| It was a bad agreement for the country that clearly showed the government’s political orientation. It was close to the Porfiriato policy in terms of indebtedness, i.e. its subjection to the interests of local ruling classes and of international banks that were creditors for both external and internal debts.

Through this agreement President Obregón and his government acknowledged a public debt of US$ 500 million. In 1910 it had amounted to 220 million which, with additional loans after that date, i.e. those contracted by the usurper Huerta between 1911 and 1913, came to a total of US$ 30 million (The 20 million lent by Speyer Bank had been paid back with a loan contracted in Paris in 1913). President Obregón thus agreed to acknowledge a debt that was twice the amount actually due. |94| On top of that, he agreed to add 200 million as default interest. |95| It was a thorough betrayal of the country’s and the Mexican people’s interests, especially since the debt contracted by dictator Porfirio Díaz (US$ 220 million) as well as loans by the usurper Huerta (US$ 30 million) clearly constituted odious debt. They had been contracted against the interests of the people with the full knowledge of the creditor banks. |96|

The Mexican Congress, controlled by the president, sanctioned the agreement and Mexico started paying back in 1923, but the amounts to be paid were so high and the fiscal deficit so deep that on 30 June 1924, Obregón suspended debt repayments. Mexico resumed negotiations with Lamont from JPMorgan and these resulted in another agreement in 1925, which was again sanctioned by Congress. To resume repayments, the new Mexican president, Plutarco Ellias Calles (in office from December 1924 to November 1928), negotiated a credit line with the Committee of Bankers. Some payments took place in 1926, but in 1927 Mexico again suspended repayments.

In 1928 the Committee of Bankers sent a commission of experts to analyze the situation. In their report the experts criticized the government for its social spending, particularly in public education. They considered that Mexico had invested too much in irrigation works and in setting up a system of public credit for farmers. They acknowledged that in order to avoid another revolution, public expenditure was necessary but estimated that government spending had been excessive. |97|

Negotiations between the government and the Committee of Bankers were resumed. Another agreement was signed in 1930 but for the first time since 1922 many MPs were opposed to ratification. Four MPs from the State of Chihuahua even introduced a bill demanding a ten-year moratorium on debt repayment so as to use the money for socially useful expenditure. |98| The government rather than run the risk of a minority in Congress, did not put the agreement with the Committee of Bankers to the vote.

Meanwhile export revenues declined as a consequence of the October 1929 Wall Street crisis and the project of resuming debt repayments was perceived with increasing anger by the population. In January 1932, Congress voted a law that cancelled the latest agreement between the government and the Committee of Bankers. Eventually on 1st September 1933, President Abelardo Rodriguez announced that Mexico would not resume repayment of its external debt.

Lázaro Cárdenas’ presidency (1934-1940) prepares the 1942 victory against creditors

In December 1934, Lázaro Cárdenas started a presidential mandate that was extended until December 1940. Over those six years Cárdenas carried out major left-wing reforms, some of which made it possible to implement for the first time some of the revolutionary aspirations of the years 1910-1917 and the 1917 Constitution.

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Lázaro Cárdenas became president in a context of social struggle such as workers’ strikes. His orientation was quite different from that which had prevailed since 1920. He opposed his predecessor Plutarco Ellias Calles. He refused to resume negotiations with the Committee of Bankers.

One of the first measures Cárdenas took concerned the reform of public education. Article 3 of the Constitution as modified in December 1934 stipulated that state education was to be “socialist in character”, and that as well as excluding any religious doctrine it was to fight fanaticism and prejudice. Schools had to foster among the young a “rational and accurate” perception of the universe and of social life. The explanation given of the rationale behind the bill introduced to the Chamber of Representatives was that a socialist education as set down in Article 3 did not mean an immediate transformation of the economic system but the preparation of the human material needed to carry the revolution forward and consolidate its work. Indeed the country’s future belonged to the socialist youth, educated and trained in Mexican schools. It was incumbent upon those young people, the text said, to fulfil the aspirations of Mexico’s oppressed and labouring classes. Though the implementation of these principles was limited due to the system’s inertia, they had a deep and lasting impact on Mexican society.

Land Reform

According to one of the provisions in Article 27 of the 1917 Constitution, which provided for land to be expropriated by ejidos, |99| Lázaro Cárdenas expropriated some 45 million acres that had previously belonged to big Mexican landowners and foreign companies. He distributed this land to indigenous agrarian communities in the form of traditional collective properties known as ejidos. So the land was no longer the property of private individuals. Apart from meeting the fundamental demands formulated by Emiliano Zapata and in the Ayala plan, the aim was to give back to local communities what they had been robbed of and to promote a self-sufficient kind of farming that would meet the needs of the local markets. The farming communities that received land could use it as they pleased but were not allowed to sell it. Those ejido communities developed decision-making procedures to run the land. Cárdenas’ government created a public bank, Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal or Banjidal (the National Bank for éjidoCredit) and also financed the training of technicians to improve the yield of the land. Cárdenas’ land reform differed from the policies of former governments which had only restored a limited quantity of land to private individual owners.

Nationalization of oil and railways

The 1936 railway workers’ strike resulted in the complete nationalization of the railways.

In 1938, the nationalization of oil was brought about by a strike of the workers in the oil industry. Oil extraction, which had started at the end of the Porfiriato, was in the hands of UK and US companies. Paragraph 4 of Article 27 in the 1917 Constitution stated that oil-field reserves were the property of the nation. In 1937, oil workers began a determined confrontation with the owners of the oil companies who would not grant the pay-rise demanded by the workers. On 18 March 1938, Lázaro Cárdenas stepped in to put an end to the confrontation by expropriating the oil companies. He added that within ten years foreign owners would be compensated. This infuriated foreign capitalists and the UK severed its diplomatic relations with Mexico so as to put maximal pressure on its government. |100| Cárdenas did not budge. He created the public company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Cárdenas’ decision was met with huge enthusiasm in the population. Pemex (let us recall) was privatized sixty-five years later, in 2013, in the context of hardening neoliberal policies.

International policy

Cárdenas’ government was also one of the few to provide the Spanish Republicans with weapons, thus breaching the blockade by the British and French governments. Churchill vehemently decried Mexico’s position. Cárdenas’ government also welcomed and supported 40,000 Spanish Republicans after they were defeated by Franco, who had been massively armed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Cárdenas also hosted Trotsky, the Russian revolutionary persecuted by Stalin to whom no European government was willing to grant either a visa or a right to extended residence. |101| Cárdenas befriended the Russian exile, which did not prevent one of Stalin’s agents from murdering Trotsky in Mexico City in August 1940.

Cárdenas was also very popular because as soon as he became president, he cut his salary by half, left the traditional presidential palace (Chapultepec Castle, the former residency of New Spain’s viceroys) to move to a less ostentatious place called Los Pinos and converted the former castle into a national museum of Mexican history. At the end of his mandate, his fellow citizens could see that he had not accumulated any riches for himself.

To sum up, we can say that although Lázaro Cárdenas did not try to break away from capitalism, he carried out structural reforms that improved the people’s living conditions. They partly met fundamental demands formulated during the 1910-1917 Revolution and strengthened the country’s sovereignty over its natural resources. Cárdenas also conducted an anti-imperialist international policy that supported solidarity among peoples.

The 1942 victory against creditors

Cárdenas’ refusal to resume debt payment or even negotiations with the international Committee of Bankers brought victory. His former Defense Minister, Manuel Ávila Camacho, was elected to take over as President and Cárdenas became Defense Minister.

From 1941, as he wanted to improve the US relationship with Mexico, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt insisted that US bankers, starting with JPMorgan, give up and acknowledge the Mexican government’s repudiation. In December 1941 Washington was about to enter the Second World War and needed the support of its Mexican neighbour (as well as that of Brazil, another country that had stopped paying its debt). The agreement that put an end to the conflict between the international Committee of Bankers and Mexico was an act of surrender on the part of the banks. While the Committee demanded payment of debts estimated at US$ 510 million (capital and interest), the final agreement mentioned payment of less than US$ 50 million: a cut of over 90%.

Moreover, what is most remarkable is the rate used for compensation of default interest: 1/1,000 for delays before 1923, 1/100 for 1923-1943. |102| Now in many debt restructuring agreements in the 19th century or in the first half of the 20th century, all default interest was turned into owed capital. Let us recall that the agreement signed between Obregón and the international Committee of Bankers in 1922 meant that Mexico acknowledged a debt of US$ 500 million! And 20 years had gone by. By agreeing to pay a debt of US$ 50 million (capital and default interest included), the Mexican government won a resounding victory.

There is more: security holders had to hand in their securities and have them registered and stamped by the Mexican authorities before they could claim any compensation! Bankers had to register securities with the Mexican government: this was unprecedented. Note also that German banks that were part of the international Committee of Bankers were not allowed to register their securities because they were perceived as helping an enemy power.

Better still, from 1940 onward Washington tried to buy Mexican oil even though Mexico had paid no oil compensation. The Sinclair oil company started buying oil from the public company Pemex. Sinclair, that had demanded US$ 32 million of compensation, finally settled for US$ 8 million compensation partly paid with dollars Pemex had received from Sinclair in payment for 20 million barrels of oil over four years. Eventually a general agreement was reached and Mexico promised to pay US$ 23 million as compensation for all the US oil companies that had been expropriated in 1938. |103|

Thanks to the agreement on its debt, to other political measures taken under Cárdenas and to the general context after the Second World War, Mexico was able to unfold a policy of economic development while carrying out a strict form of protectionism until the 1950s. Mexico did not borrow from private banks again until the late 1950s.

Final remarks and conclusions

Mexico is the only former colony that managed to defeat its creditors on its own in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. In 1861, Mexico repudiated a large portion of the debt that was claimed and gained complete victory in 1867. Next, less than twenty years later, ruling classes and the dictator Porfirio Díaz managed to backpedal, which is typical of the collusion and duplicity of the upper classes in a dominated country who see their own interest in submission to European or US imperialist powers.

When Porfirio Díaz was eventually overruled and a genuine popular revolution took over, Mexico again suspended debt payments for over thirty years (from 1914 to the end of the Second World War) and simultaneously implemented in-depth social and economic reforms. The victory over Mexico’s creditors was complete albeit not final.

The present paper shows how important it is to understand what occurred in Mexico between its independence in 1821 and the end of the Second World War. The other country that succeeded in repudiating its debt on its own was the USSR in 1918. The common point with Mexico is the coincidence of a revolutionary process and debt repudiation. There are also differences: 1. the Bolshevik government simply wiped the Tsarist debt away; |104| 2. at the time of the 1917 revolution Russia was an imperialist power, though a declining one, while Mexico was a former Spanish colony that was eyed greedily by the US and ascending European imperialisms. The other countries that successfully repudiated debts were major powers such as the US |105| – or were protected by one of them – as was the case of Costa Rica, protected by the US against the UK in the early 1920s. |106| This is why the Mexican experience is unique and deserves to be more widely known. |107| Yet very little has been published about it. Dominant thinking hardly wishes Mexico’s real history to be acknowledged. Among left-wing movements we have a lot of catching up to do and it is to be hoped that this article will play its part.

Acknowledgements: The author is grateful to Victor Isidro, Nathan Legrand, Carlos Marichal, Alejandro Manriquez, Silvia Elena Meza, Damien Millet and Claude Quémar for their comments and/or their help in locating sources.
The author is fully responsible for any mistakes that may occur in this paper.

Translation: Snake Arbusto, Vicki Briault Manus, Mike Krolikowski, Christine Pagnoulle.

This article is the sixth in the series “Debt: The Subordination of Latin America.” The first  articles are:

“How the South paid for the Northern crises and for its own subjugation”

http://www.cadtm.org/How-the-South-paid-for-the, “

How Debt and Free Trade Subordinated Independent Latin America”

http://www.cadtm.org/How-Debt-and-Free-Trade.

“What other countries can learn from Costa Rica’s debt repudiation”,

http://www.cadtm.org/What-other-countries-can-learn;

The USA’s repudiation of the debt demanded by Spain from Cuba in 1898,

http://www.cadtm.org/The-USA-s-repudiation-of-the-debt;

“History: the Policies of the United States toward its Neighbours in the Americas in the 19th and early 20th Centuries,

http://www.cadtm.org/History-the-Policies-of-the-United.

To these should be added an article devoted to “Three Waves of Public-Debt Repudiations in the USA during the 19th Century,”

http://www.cadtm.org/Three-Waves-of-Public-Debt

The series devoted to the Americas complements five earlier articles on the Mediterranean: “Newly Independent Greece had an Odious Debt round her Neck”

http://www.cadtm.org/Newly-Independent-Greece-had-an,

“Greece: Continued debt slavery from the late 19th century to the Second World War”

http://www.cadtm.org/Greece-Continued-debt-slavery-from,

“Debt as an instrument of the colonial conquest of Egypt”

http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-as-an-instrument-of-the,

“Debt: how France appropriated Tunisia” http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-how-France-appropriated.

***

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SISMONDI, Jean de. 1819. Nouveaux principes d’économie politique ou de la richesse dans ses rapports avec la population, Paris, 1827. (In French.) The French text can be accessed at https://play.google.com/store/books…

TAIBO II, Paco Ignacio. 2006. Pancho Villa: una biografía narrativa (In Spanish.) Published in French as Pancho Villa, Roman d’une vie, (translated by Claude Bleton) Paris: Payot & Rivages, coll. “Petite bibliothèque Payot”, 2 volumes de 752p. and 704p., 2012 (2009).

TOUSSAINT, Éric. 2004. La finance contre les peuples. La bourse ou la vie, CADTM-Bruxelles/CETIM-Genève/Syllepse-Paris, 640 p. (In French.). See English version Your Money or Your Life at http://www.cadtm.org/Your-money-or-our-life (free download).

TOUSSAINT, Éric. 2016. “Newly Independent Greece had an Odious Debt round her Neck”,http://www.cadtm.org/Newly-Independent-Greece-had-an TOUSSAINT, Éric. 2016. “Greece: Continued Debt Slavery from the late 19th century to the Second World War” http://www.cadtm.org/Greece-Continued-debt-slavery-from

TOUSSAINT, Éric. 2016. “Debt as an instrument of the colonial conquest of Egypt”, http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-as-an-instrument-of-the

TOUSSAINT, Éric. 2016. “Debt: How France Appropriated Tunisia”,http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-how-France-appropriated

WYNNE, William. 1951. State Insolvency and Foreign Bondholders. Selected Case Histories of Governmental Foreign Bond Defaults and Debt Readjustments. Vol. 2. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951, 652 p.

***

Notes

|1| Prior to the Spanish conquest, the population of present-day Mexico was between 18 and 25 million. Less than a century later, in around 1600, it had fallen to approximately 3.5 million (source: Jean Batou, see fn 5). According to a lower estimate by Angus Maddison, Mexico’s population was 7.5 million in 1500 and diminished by two thirds after the Spanish conquest, to some 2.5 million in 1600. Source: Angus Maddison, L’économie mondiale : statistiques historiques, (The Global Economy: Historical Statistics) OCDE, Paris, 2003, p. 120. Thomas Calvo, a specialist in Hispanic America, gives the following figures for the population of the Aztec empire and its dependencies prior to the Spanish conquest: 17.5 million inhabitants, of which the Northern territories: 2.5 million; central Mexico: 15 million; Chiapas: 0.8 million. Source: Thomas Calvo, L’Amérique ibérique de 1570 à 1910 (Iberian America from 1570 to 1910), Nathan Université, 1994, p. 14.

|2| See Jan Bazant, Historia de la deuda exterior de Mexico 1823-1946, (History of Mexican Foreign Debt 1823-1946), El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Históricos, Mexico City, 1995, p. 18-19.

|3| See Bazant, p. 21, and Alaman, p. 323.

|4| There had been uprisings of indigenous peoples several times during the preceding centuries, and some, such as the Yaquis of Sonora in Mexico, continued their struggle after independence, because they derived no benefit from it.

|5| Evolution of Mexico’s population between 1600 and 2015 (in millions of inhabitants): 1600: 3.5; 1700: 4.0; 1800: 5.7; 1850: 7.7; 1895: 12.7; 1910: 15.1; 1940: 19.6; 1950: 25.8; 1990: 86.0; 2000: 97.4; 2015: 121.7. Source: Jean Batou through 1990 (p. 171) and official statistics from 1895 (date of the first official census).

|6| See Bazant, p. 27-28.

|7| The full name was “Barclay, Herring, Richardson and Company” – not to be confused with Barclays, the high street bank.

|8| See Morning Chronicle, London, 8th February 1825, cited by William Wynne, “State Insolvency and Foreign Bondholders.
Selected Case Histories of Governmental Foreign Bond Defaults and Debt Readjustments.” Vol. 2., 1951, p. 5.

|9| J. Bazant, p. 48.

|10| Lorenzo de Zavala, who had participated in the struggle for independence, was a big landowner in Texas. He turned against his country in 1836 when he took part in the funding of an independent republic of Texas. In retaliation, Mexico stripped him of his nationality. The United States annexed Texas in 1845.

|11| J. Bazant, p. 39.

|12| L. Alaman, p. 983.

|13| J. Bazant, p. 39.

|14| J. Bazant, p. 233

|15| This can be seen from the table compiled by Bazant himself, p. 46.

|16| See “Debt as an instrument of the colonial conquest of Egypt” http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-as-an-instrument-of-the

|17| J. Bazant, p. 45.

|18| ibid., p. 234.

|19| ibid., p. 54.

|20| J. Bazant, p. 67-70

|21| ibid., p. 53

|22| ibid., p. 58

|23| In 1853, under new pressure and the expansionist ambitions of the US, Santa Anna sold the territory of Mesilla (a transaction known as the “Gadsden purchase”) for $10 million .This amount was devoted to fighting the liberal rebels (the Ayutla Plan) who wanted to overthrow Santa Anna, who had managed to remain in power until 1855.

|24| William Wynne, State Insolvency and Foreign Bondholders. Selected Case Histories of Governmental Foreign Bond Defaults and Debt Readjustments. New Haven: Yale University Press, Vol. 2., 1951, p.16. See also J. Bazant, p. 96.

|25| ibid., p. 16-17.

|26| ibid., p. 18.

|27| J. Bazant, p. 96.

|28| In 1856, the internal debt of 41 million pesos was more than half the total amount of the external debt, which was 68.6 million pesos. Total public debt, internal and external, was 109.6 million pesos. J. Bazant, p. 97.

|29| According to recent research by Mexican historians, the indigenous communities resisted fairly well against the application of the laws adopted as from 1856 aimed at putting their ancestral lands up for sale. While feigning to accept the laws, they managed to protect themselves. It was only later, during the long presidency of Porfirio Díaz, that expropriation of land became widespread.

|30| See his biography at https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-… (in French only). This biography may only be approximate.

|31| Cited by Émile de Kératry, La créance Jecker : les indemnités françaises et les emprunts mexicains, (Jecker Bonds : French Compensation and Mexican Loans), Librairie internationale, 1867, p. 17, accessible at: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bp… (in French).

|32| E. de Kératry, p. 30 and W. Wynne p. 20.

|33| J. Bazant, p. 100. See also E. de Kératry, op. cit.

|34| W. Wynne, p. 21.

|35| W. Wynne, p. 25.

|36| It should be remembered that the War of Secession began in April 1861 and ended in April 1865.

|37| 1 peso = 5 French francs; 1 pound sterling = 5 pesos; 1 pound sterling = 25 French francs.

|38| The Crédit Mobilier suffered the same fate as the French expedition into Mexico, failing in 1867.

|39| J. Bazant, p. 103.

|40| This final fraudulent loan provoked such protest that Napoleon III compensated the holders of the bonds for a total of 87 million French francs. It is certain that some of the beneficiaries of this compensation had taken part in the fraud. And it is equally clear that the amount of 87 million francs increased France’s public debt for the benefit of the rich individuals who had acquired the bonds. See J. Bazant, p. 103; W. Wynne, p. 30.

|41| Calculations by J. Bazant, p. 105, based in particular on É. de Kératry.

|42| Of the 38,493 troops France sent to Mexico, 6,654 – one sixth of them – died of wounds or of disease. In 1863, the Khedive of Egypt supported France by sending a battalion of 450 soldiers to the Mexican Empire, including many Sudanese, whose resistance to tropical diseases was supposedly higher. From 1864-1865, Austria-Hungary sent 7,000 men (Poles, Hungarians, etc.) in support of the foreign aggression. Belgian soldiers also took part. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frenc…. The King of Belgium, Léopold II (who reigned from 1865 to 1909), having colonial ambitions, sought to obtain advantages from the conquest of Mexico. He began carrying out his colonial projects in 1885 with the conquest of the Congo. Charlotte, Léopold II’s sister, was the wife of Maximilian of Austria. She actively supported Bonaparte’s projects and those of her father, Léopold I.

|43| W. Wynne, p. 29.

|44| Porfirio Díaz’s slogan, “Order and Progress,” is evidence of his belief in the Positivist ideology that was well established in Latin America during this period.

|45| It should be made clear that Benito Juárez did not actively seek to better the living conditions of the peonesand other peasants. Benito Juárez did away neither with the semi-slavery the peones lived under because of their inherited debts nor with the private prisons and the bodily mutilations at the haciendas. This failure to defend the peasants and indigenous communities and the attacks on their communal lands resulted in uprisings, notably that of the Chamulas in Chiapas in 1869; the resistance movement led by Julio Chávez López (based on socialist/anarchist principles) in the late 1860s in Chalco and Texcoco; and the continued struggle of the Yaqui people in the State of Sonora.

|46| Calculated by the author based on Jan Bazant (in particular p. 147, 160, 175, 176, and 272).

|47| W. Wynne, p. 3-4.

|48| J. Bazant, p. 240.

|49| With one single exception – repayment of the three-millions peso loan contracted in 1865 with the United States by the government of Benito Juárez for purchasing armaments used to overcome the French occupation. Repayment of this loan ended in 1893.

|50| J. Bazant, p. 109.

|51| See the text of the decree: http://cdigital.dgb.uanl.mx/la/1080… , p. 326 to 328.

|52| Jeff King, The Doctrine of Odious Debt in International Law. A Restatement, University College London, 2016, p. 72-73.

|53| J. Bazant, p. 127.

|54| See the press of the period: El Monitor, Mexico City No. 278, 19 November 1884; El Nacional, Mexico City, No. 242, 19 November 1884; La Libertad, Mexico City, No. 243, 31 October 1884.

|55| W. Wynne, p. 45.

|56| J. Bazant, p. 134.

|57| Furthermore, in violation of the repudiation pronounced by Benito Juárez in 1867 and the Decree of June 1883, the government agreed to include in the compensation payment of a part of the cost of the bonds issued by Maximilian of Austria to the creditors under the restructuring of the “London” debt. See J. Bazant, p. 130.

|58| The new debt, the consequence of repayment of the balance of the Goldsmith and Barclay loans, in fact amounted to 34 million pesos because in order to actually borrow 27 million, Mexico was forced to recognize a new debt that was greater than that amount, since the new issue was sold for less than its nominal value and a commission had to be paid to the German bank Bleichroeder, which managed the loan.

|59| J. Bazant, p. 237.

|60| J. Bazant, p. 234-235; W. Wynne, p. 7-13.

|61| W. Wynne, p. 57.

|62| In the late 19th and early 20th century, capitalist development was not based on a ’free’ work force only, as it combined capitalist productive relations (waged labour) with pre-capitalist forms of exploitation, and even certain forms of slavery. Entire indigenous communities were deported to forced labour on tobacco and sisal plantations.

|63| A. Gilly, p. 21.

|64| ibid., p. 28.

|65| W. Wynne, p. 51.

|66| J. Bazant, p. 177.

|67| A. Gilly, p. 36.

|68| The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Vol. 30: October 1, 1880 – December 31, 1882 edited by John Y. Simon, Southern Illinois Univ. Press, Carbondale, 2008

|69| J. Bazant, p. 123.

|70| A. Gilly, p. 32.

|71| J. Bazant, p. 125.

|72| J. Bazant, p. 141-142.

|73| Several years later the revolutionaries made full use of the railways to move troops.

|74| J. Bazant, p. 165.

|75| J. Bazant, p. 167-169.

|76| This was happening in many countries throughout the World at that time.

|77| A. Gilly, p. 33-34.

|78| ibid., p. 35.

|79| W. Wynne, p. 59.

|80| Madero studied in Baltimore, at the HEC in Paris, the University of California, Berkeley, and Culver Academy in Indiana.

|81| During his exile Porfirio Díaz lived at Interlaken in Switzerland, then in Paris. He was received with honours in Germany by Guillaume II, who was about to let loose the First World War. He visited Egypt and spent time in Rome and Naples. He died on the 2 July 1915 in Paris and is buried in Montparnasse cemetery. In exile he was well considered and provided for. Some Mexican neoliberal nabobs wish to have his remains returned to Mexico.

|82| Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919) was the revolutionary who carried the rights of the indigenous communities the furthest. His armed struggle was intrinsically linked to the popular masses particularly in his home state of Morelos. His programme went beyond the the concerns of the rural masses even if they were his main concern.

|83| Concerning the policies of US President (1909 – 1913) Taft see: http://www.cadtm.org/what-other-countries-can-learn

|84| J. Bazant, p. 181.

|85| W. Wynne, p. 64.

|86| During the porfiriato, the workers first organized in the mines, then on the railways. In the former the proletariat had the benefit of the revolutionary trade union experience of the US miners. The worker’s movement was also nourished by class struggles from many parts of the World, notably the experience of the Paris commune in 1871. Socialist publications appeared: El Socialista in 1872, La Comuna in 1874, that later became La Comuna mexicana. The first labour confederation; “The Great Circle of Workers”, implanted in the textile industry and the crafts, appeared in 1872. This organization started to dissolve in 1879, separating into factions supporting two different bourgeois candidates in the 1880 elections. Adolfo Gilly wrote: “this decomposition of the Great Circle marked the end of the epoch and coincided with the beginning of the period of impetuous capitalistic development of the 1880s-90s, when the young industrial proletarian movement produced a more authentically union-based organization, especially in the railways, mines and textile industries” (A. Gilly, p.41). Despite the fierce repression of the Porfirio Diaz regime there were 250 strikes between 1876 and 1911. Whether they were successful or not they developed the political organization of the productive forces against the contradictions of capitalism and prepared the explosion of revolution that occurred in 1910. Anarchist tendencies had a real influence on the revolution. They were most expounded by the Flores Magon brothers. In 1911 one of the brothers, with the support of anarchists of various nationalities, including a hundred or so internationalists from the US organisation, “Industrial Workers of the World”, took part in occupying two poorly-defended Mexican villages close to the US border, Mexicali (pop. 300) and Tijuana (pop.100). For five months the commune of Lower California experimented with libertarian communism, the abolition of private property, collective working of the land and among other experiments, the grouping of producers, before being invaded. That was the end of the attempt to establish a socialist libertarian republic.

|87| Pancho Villa (1878-1923) was a smallholder whose relations with the justice system were strained after conflicts with big landowners. He was an outlaw and lived by various means including cattle-rustling in the mountain regions. It was in the unequal struggle against Porfirio Diaz’s rural police that he developed his great fighting skills. Moreover Villa rapidly showed a strong gift for military organization not only in his relations with his foot soldiers but also with regard to his commanding officers. This ability to organize won him over the labour sectors in the North, mainly miners and railway workers who joined his army. This is no mere detail: the railwaymen in Villa’s army were central to his use of the railway for movements of revolutionary troops. Source: A. Gilly, p. 90.

|88| Nevertheless, when Pancho Villa was the the governor of the State of Chihuahua in 1913 he applied radical measures favouring the people to the detriment of the interests of the local ruling classes. See Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Pancho Villa, Roman d’une vie, (Life Story of Pancho Villa), Paris: Petite bibliothèque Payot, 2012, Volume 1, Chapter 23.

|89| See Jan Martinez Ahrens, « Toda la municion contra Zapata » (All ammunition against Zapata), El Pais, 24 December 2016, (in Spanish).

|90| According to Adolfo Gilly, this decision to sign a pact did not win the approbation of the general assembly that was held on 8 February 1915. There was strong opposition. Nevertheless 9000 “workers” formed the red battalions, including an “Anarchist first aid corps”, in Obregas’ army that fought against the Northern Division. See A. Gilly, p. 157-159.

|91| A. Gilly, p. 179.

|92| in A. Gilly, p. 228-229.

|93| W. Wynne, p. 66-67.

|94| J. Bazant, p. 239. J. Bazant, who is as a rule in favour of any compromise with creditors, says this amount of 500 million is simply incredible.

|95| W. Wynne, p. 68.

|96| A reasoned definition of odious debt can be found in the online article by Éric Toussaint, “The Doctrine of Odious Debt: from Alexander Sack to the CADTM”, http://www.cadtm.org/The-Doctrine-of-Odious-Debt-from

|97| W. Wynne, p. 77.

|98| W. Wynne, p. 82. See also the New York Times of 30 November 1930.

|99| An ejido is the name given in Mexico to a communal property by a group of indigenous farmers who work the land together. In an ejido, the principle is that members of the community be granted the land’s usufruct with no legal possibility of selling or ceding it. In 1993, President Salinas de Gortari, who carried forward the neoliberal policies initiated by his predecessors, had the Constitution modified so as to enable massive sales of ejidos. One of the aims of the Zapatista uprising on 1 January 1994 was to question this government policy.

|100| Diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored in October 1941 because London was looking for allies against Nazi Germany and feared a possible alliance between Mexico and Berlin.

|101| Another element that substantiates Cárdenas’ sympathy for revolutionary movements, though not at a time when he was president, is that he helped Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra to get out of prison a couple of weeks before sailing to Cuba in the Granma. Fidel and the Che had been emprisoned in Mexico City after the Batista government had told the Mexican authorities that some guerrillas were operating in the country. While in prison, Fidel managed to have the warden release him and him alone, after which, in an audience with Cárdenas, he enlisted his help to liberate the other prisoners. Cárdenas showed some empathy with Fidel’s project.

|102| W. Wynne, p. 97 and table p. 106.

|103| W. Wynne, p. 94-95.

|104| See Eric Toussaint http://www.cadtm.org/Demystifying-Alexander-Nahum-Sack

|105| See “Three Waves of Public-Debt Repudiation in the USA during the 19th Century”, http://www.cadtm.org/Three-Waves-of-Public-Debt as well as “The USA’s repudiation of the debt demanded by Spain from Cuba in 1898: What about Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, etc.?”, http://www.cadtm.org/The-USA-s-repudiation-of-the-debt

|106| See ‘What other countries can learn from Costa Rica’s debt repudiation’, http://www.cadtm.org/What-other-countries-can-learn. We must emphasize that Costa Rica did repudiate the debt claimed by Britain in a sovereign and unilateral way. Had the US not then given the country its support, the Costarican people might yet have been victorious in resisting almost certain aggression from Great Britain. Similarly in the case of Cuba, the army of Cuban independence fighters (the mambis) might have got the better of Spain, had the colonizing country tried to make them pay for their independence.

|107| The same applies to what happened in the USSR, which will be developed in another article.

***

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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Troubling Questions about Killers in America’s Streets

April 16th, 2017 by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Why do we allow veterans of recent wars to keep their weapons at home? Sometimes I think I’m alone in noticing a troubling American social pattern. When I mention how it keeps coming up again, others admit that they too noticed it. That’s all. It’s not the sort of thing one can easily follow.

Because media ignores it, the aggravation seems to disappear. Then it returns, as it did with the latest school killings—this time at the school in San Bernardino, California, this week.

I expect mine will be a highly unpopular opinion—it’s a hard one for Americans to swallow. But it has to be pointed out that when our military teaches our men and women to kill, legally, there is a terrifying and common spillover here at home, namely: they go on killing.

I have never been privy to the way military authorities pump up soldiers to kill, to revenge their fallen comrades, to hunt what are presented as savage animals who would take away ‘our freedoms’. But I‘ve heard enough to know that military training really hardens men, subjecting them racist and violent language to motivate them on the battlefield. Soldiers also learn to feel comfortable with weapons; they become highly attached to their guns.

We have to own up to it. As much as our presidents celebrate “these gallant men and women who put themselves in harms way”, U.S. veterans are increasingly among the killers in our own neighborhoods. They are among the gun-lovers and gun owners killing us and our children– in our streets, in airports, in their homes and in our schools. When will we disarm these men who we celebrate for killing Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians, Yemenis, Somalis?

In the case of Marine Chris Kyle of “Sniper” fame, the six dead in the baggage hall of Ft. Lauderdale airport, and this week’s San Bernardino’s North Park Elementary School killings, focus is on the victims. Yes, teacher Karen Elaine Smith deserves to be known and mourned nationally. So too, 8-year old Jonathan Martinez. That this teacher was dedicated to working with special-needs children, and the dead child himself suffered from an illness, makes the violence against them all the more despicable.

But news reports in this massacre’s aftermath, and likely in the weeks ahead will, according to common practice, fail to adequately investigate implications of the killer being a U.S. veteran who served in American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the case of the famous Iraq ‘war hero’ Chris Kyle, films and memorials celebrated this soldier’s killing power—160 kills, was it?—his victims may also have been teachers, perhaps among them, fathers, and brothers of boys like Jonathan Martinez. When Kyle was later murdered, it was by a fellow Iraq veteran. Eddie Routh was invited by Kyle and his colleague Chad Littlefield for an afternoon’s entertainment at a local shooting range. In the course of their sport, Routh shot dead both of his colleagues.

That event received wide press coverage because of the celebrity of Kyle, where again his prowess as a killer of Iraqis was applauded. Coverage included some history of Kyle’s killer with the spotlight on his mental problems. 

There were others—too many. Remember Esteban Santiago-Ruiz? He is the mass murderer of 5 (with 8 injured) at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport last January. He too was a soldier, noted for receiving 10 awards during his time in the military. 

Now we have Cedric Anderson, this month’s San Bernardino schoolkiller. While investigations of his background highlight violence against women, he was also held (charges were dropped) for acts involving weapons. (There’s only cursory reference to Anderson’s 8 years in the U.S. navy.

I recall reading about a man who murdered himself and his two daughters in their home– a nice home on a nice American street—about a year ago. He too, I recall, was a military veteran. News of that massacre focused on his two unfortunate girls.

Yes, we know about PTSD. We know these boys have seen their buddies killed and wounded. We know the Department of Veterans Affairs could do better. But what about these men holding on to weapons when back in civilian life? What about the way they are trained in violence and hatred?

What about gathering data countrywide on how many killers in the U.S. over the past 25 years are veterans of recent wars? And how do U.S veterans who kill and maim, once discharged, compare with others across the globe, and in earlier U.S. wars? This epidemic needs urgent attention because we have more than two million of these young men among us. END

Barbara Nimri Aziz, a New York-based anthropologist and writer, hosted RadioTahrir on Pacifica-WBAI in New York City for 24 years. Her 2007 book Swimming Up the Tigris: Real Life Encounters with Iraq is based on her 13 years covering Iraq. Aziz’ writings and radio productions can be accessed at www.RadioTahrir.org.

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Tensions between the United States and the major European imperialist powers and Russia are at their highest point since the Cold War. The danger of a military conflict between the two largest nuclear powers has never been greater.

Since the April 6 missile strike, the Trump administration has issued new threats against Syria and new ultimatums to Russia to end its support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad. On Wednesday, President Trump defended the unprovoked strike and called Assad a “butcher.”

The G7 powers over the weekend lined up behind the US strike and its pretext—the totally unproven claim that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town. They endorsed Washington’s renewed drive to topple Assad, Moscow’s only Arab ally in the Middle East.

Russia has responded by stepping up its military support for Assad. Last Friday, it discontinued its coordination with the US aimed at avoiding encounters between US and Russian jets and announced that it would upgrade Syrian missile air defenses, which already include advanced S-400 and S-300 radar/missile batteries. It diverted a frigate with cruise missiles to the Eastern Mediterranean. And it issued a joint statement with the Iranian military warning that it would respond with force to any new act of aggression against Syria.

The recklessness of US policy was highlighted by Defense Secretary and retired general James Mattis, who told reporters on Tuesday that Syria would pay “a very, very stiff price” in the event of another chemical attack, which is undoubtedly already being prepared by the CIA and its Al Qaeda-linked proxies in Syria. Mattis offered assurances that the situation would not “spiral out of control,” based on the assumption that Russia would “act in their best interests,” i.e., back down.

What is most astonishing is the virtual absence of any discussion in the US and European media of the danger of a war between the US and Russia and the consequences of such a turn of events. What happens if a US jet is shot down by a Russian anti-aircraft installation or Russian jet? One can only imagine the frenzied demands for retaliation that will spew out of the press and politicians of both countries.

How many millions will die in the opening minutes of a nuclear exchange between Russia and the US? Neither the New York Times, nor the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Times of London, Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or Sydney Morning Herald is even raising these questions.

There have, however, been revealing commentaries in certain more specialized publications. The Conversation published an article on April 7 (“Why US air strike on Syria deeply threatens military clash with Russia”) making the point that the danger of a clash between the US and Russia is much greater than in 2013 because Russia has in the interim firmly established a military presence in Syria.

“So, if the new aim of the Trump administration is the removal of Assad from power,” the article states, “this could only happen through a major confrontation with Russia.”

Russia Beyond the Headlines published an article on April 7 outlining three possible scenarios following the US attack on Syria. The first, and presumably most likely, is “Armed conflict between Russia and the US.” Sooner or later, the article notes, the “logic of confrontation will force Russia to respond with force.” It quotes a Russian international security expert who warns that “we cannot fully exclude the use of nuclear weapons.”

An April 7 article on the Defense One web site explains that a US assault on Syria would for the first time in the “decades-old counter-terrorism fight” pit the United States against a “real, modern and well-armed military,” resulting in a war “of exponentially greater scale.”

Steven Starr, a senior scientist at Physicians for Social Responsibility and associate with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, who is a noted expert on the life-destroying environmental consequences of “nuclear winter,” explains that once a nuclear exchange between Washington and Moscow gets underway, the death toll will be in the high tens of millions within the first hour, and that will be only the horrific beginning.

The two countries have between them 3,500 deployed and operational strategic nuclear weapons that they can detonate within an hour. They have another 4,600 nuclear weapons in reserve and ready for use. Given these vast numbers of mega-weapons, there is a strong chance that most large cities in both countries will be hit. Starr estimates that 30 percent of the US and Russian populations will be killed in the first hour. A few weeks later, radioactive fallout will kill another 50 percent or more.

Nuclear winter, a new Ice Age caused by the environmental impact of nuclear war, will “probably cause most people on the planet to die of starvation within a couple of years.”

Then there is the possibility of a high-altitude detonation triggering an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that destroys electronic circuits over an area of tens of thousands of square miles.

“A single detonation over the US East Coast would destroy the grid and cause every nuclear power plant affected by EMP to melt down. Imagine 60 Fukushimas happening at the same time in the US.”

being prepared behind the backs of the American and world population by the power- and profit-mad criminals in the Pentagon and the CIA, with the full support of both parties and the political and media establishment. People living in cities from New York to Boston to Philadelphia to Detroit, Chicago and all the way to Los Angeles and San Francisco will likely be obliterated within minutes of the beginning of such a war.

What preparations are being made? What is the survival plan? There are none. The silence of the media and politicians is not an oversight. They know that should this prospect become a subject of public discussion, the shock will produce uncontrollable social convulsions.

The astonishing recklessness of the ruling elite has an objective source. It is the global crisis of the capitalist system, which finds its sharpest expression in the long-term economic decline of the United States. Even during the Cold War there remained within the dominant sections of the ruling class a certain caution. Now, the relentlessly aggressive tone of the media and constant demonizing of Russian President Putin almost seem calculated to provoke a military clash. There is, in fact, a significant faction within the ruling elite and the state that is prepared to do just that.

This horrifying prospect cannot be averted through appeals to the powers-that-be. The entire history of the 20th century, with its catastrophic wars, shows that the only way to prevent war is through a mass movement of the working class. Workers and youth must confront the urgency of the situation by organizing mass protests directed toward the building of an international anti-war movement based on the working class to put an end to imperialism and capitalism.

On April 30, the International Committee of the Fourth International is organizing an International May Day Online Rally, called in opposition to war, authoritarianism and poverty, for peace, equality and socialism. The event will be broadcast at 11:00 am Eastern Daylight Time (3:00 pm UTC/GMT) and transmitted live throughout the world. We urge all of our readers to participate. For more information, visit wsws.org/mayday.

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US forces in Afghanistan have dropped America’s biggest non-nuclear weapon on Islamic State positions on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border – the first time this particular bomb has been used in combat. What’s so special about it?

1.  What’s in a name?

The weapon’s official designation is: Guided Bomb Unit, Massive Ordnance Air Blast. The acronym MOAB has also been rendered as the “Mother Of All Bombs.” The name is likely a reference to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s threat of the “mother of all battles” over Kuwait in 1991.

2. 14 years old and Vietnam-era Daisy Cutter’s daughter

The weapon was first tested in March 2003, just before the US invasion of Iraq. The MOAB is descended from the BLU-82B ‘Daisy Cutter,’ a Vietnam-era bomb that weighed 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg) and was used to clear jungle and desert minefields. The weapon was used with devastating effect against Iraqi troops in 1991. The last of the 225 BLU-82s were expended by 2008 and officially replaced by the MOAB.

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3. It is HUGE!

The GBU-43/B MOAB is the “monster truck of American ordnance,” wrote self-described ‘war nerd’ columnist Gary Brecher in 2003. The MOAB weighs about 22,000 pounds, or just over 10,000 kg, and is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the US arsenal.

It is packed with H6 explosive, which is about 1.35 times more powerful than pure TNT for a 11-ton yield over a 1-mile (1.6 km) radius. The bomb itself is 30 feet long (almost 10 meters) and 40 inches (over 1 meter) in diameter and can only be dropped from specially modified C-130 transport planes.

4. It is scary

The MOAB’s function is primarily “shock and awe”: it is an air-burst weapon, creating pressure intended to collapse tunnels or bunkers and obliterate any enemy personnel caught in the blast radius.

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5. It is expensive, reportedly costing $16 million a piece

The MOAB was built by the Alabama-based company Dynetics in cooperation with the US Air Force. The Pentagon has reportedly commissioned only 20 bombs. The widely-reported cost-per-unit of the weapon is $16 million, with the entire program estimated at $314 million.

There are, however, some reports that the figures may be inaccurate and that the DoD never gave a public estimate of the weapon’s cost because it was developed in-house and the military didn’t keep track of the expenses the way private companies do.

6. And, there’s a Russian daddy

After the US tested the MOAB in 2003, Russia developed its own thermobaric weapon, nicknamed the “Father of All Bombs” and tested it in 2007. Very little is known about this weapon, but the Russian military says it is four times more powerful and has twice the blast radius of the American mega-bomb.

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Amid a media barrage to try to drum up public support for US-led military attacks on Syria and North Korea, the corporate media and the Turnbull government have launched an extraordinary vilification campaign against academics seeking to expose the lies behind last week’s US cruise missile strike on Syria.

The witch-hunt is an open attack on basic democratic rights, above all free speech—accompanied by demands that the University of Sydney censor, discipline or sack staff members for even calling into question the pretext for the illegal attack ordered by US President Donald Trump.

Clearly, there are deep fears in ruling circles about the publication of any information or criticism that lays bare the false justification for the US aggression and points to the record of similar fabrications concocted by the US and its allies, including Australia, to justify their endless predatory wars in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government has been one of the most vociferous global defenders of the US attack. Turnbull declared there was no doubt that “the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad committed a shocking war crime against the people of Syria, with a chemical attack … that called out for a swift response.”

For decades, Australian governments have endorsed every such lie perpetrated by Washington, including the “weapons of mass destruction” fraud used to invade Iraq in 2003.

The initial target of the political witch-hunt has been University of Sydney economics and international politics lecturer Dr Tim Anderson and other academics associated with his online Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies. After the missile attack, Anderson posted social media comments pointing out there was no independent evidence, or plausible motive, to accuse the Syrian government of conducting the alleged April 4 sarin gas attack that killed 87 people in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

To order Tim Anderson’s book directly from Global Research click front cover

Anderson suggested that the gassing was more likely to be another “false flag” atrocity committed by US-backed, Al Qaeda-linked outfits. They have previously made similar attempts to trigger US intervention to oust Assad, such as the 2013 Ghouta chemical weapons attack that was later systematically exposed by veteran American journalist Seymour Hersh.

Significantly, the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) spearheaded the demonisation of the academics. Its “Media Watch” television program last Monday accused Anderson of spreading “disinformation and discord.”

Backed by denunciations of Anderson issued by ABC and Guardian journalists, the program sought to discredit him by making an amalgam between his postings and others by extreme right-wing sites and mouthpieces for the Sryian and Russian governments.

Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets, such as the Sydney Daily Telegraph, blazoned the accusations against Anderson over their front pages, under headlines depicting him as an “Assad-loving boffin” and his associates as “uni loonies.” The Australian, Murdoch’s national broadsheet, attacked the University of Sydney for refusing to act against them.

Turnbull’s Education Minister Simon Birmingham, who is responsible for university funding, told the Daily Telegraph the university should investigate Anderson’s comments.

“Although universities are places where ideas should be contested, that’s no excuse for being an apologist [for the Assad regime],” he insisted.

The clear logic of this declaration is that anyone who questions any aspect of US or Australian foreign and military policy is guilty of supporting war crimes and should therefore be sacked, or even prosecuted under war crimes or anti-terrorism legislation.

Fairfax Media extended the offensive to the University of Sydney itself. “One of Australia’s most prestigious universities” was at the centre of a “pro-Assad push,” the Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Koziol declared.

There are signs that the barrage may backfire. The ABC’s smears provoked outrage among its viewers. One typical comment posted on “Media Watch’s” web site denounced the program for emulating other media “megaphones” in producing “not one shred of evidence to back the claim that this event was perpetrated” by Syria.

Another viewer warned:

“What is interesting about this sordid witch-hunt is that it accuses all who dare disagree with obvious lies of being stooges of Assad and Putin. The accusation of ‘treachery’ and ‘treason’ will not long be delayed.”

In his own response to “Media Watch,” Anderson rejected its allegation that he was “misleading public understanding.” As an academic, he said,

“I have a responsibility to educate the public, especially in face of the constant misinformation from Australia’s corporate and state media.”

The WSWS has fundamental political differences with Anderson, a longtime supporter of bourgeois nationalist regimes such as Assad’s. Nevertheless, we unconditionally defend his right, and the right of all academics, political activists, workers and students, to oppose the drive to war and to exercise freedom of political expression.

Anderson told the WSWS the corporate and state media “feel the imperative to back a new war drive against Syria” and wanted to “shout down any dissenting voices on this dirty war.” He said the “fake news” operation “does frighten some people, but we have also received a great deal of public support in the past few days.”

Independent federal parliamentarian Andrew Wilkie this week also questioned the US charges against Assad. In 2003, Wilkie resigned from the Office of National Assessments, a top-level intelligence agency, in an attempt to expose the “weapons of mass destruction” and other lies being used to justify the US-led invasion of Iraq and Australia’s involvement in it.

“Frankly I don’t trust the Trump administration,” Wilkie told reporters. “From first principles it just seems so unlikely that President Assad would have used sarin gas on his own people at this particular time, for a whole range of reasons.” It was “a very unlikely choice of weapon when you know it’s going to attract such a strong military response from the United States.”

Speaking from an Australian nationalist standpoint, Wilkie said:

“It’s regrettable that here we are again just instantly agreeing with whatever the Americans are saying, instead of taking an opportunity to be a little more independent … We have been stuck in the Middle East quagmire since 2003, again on account of allegations of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons.”

In reality, rather than being duped, successive Australian governments have willingly joined one “false flag” US-led war after another in order to secure Washington’s backing for Australian imperialism’s own mercenary operations in the Asia-Pacific.

The witch-hunt against the academics is part of a broader attempt to suppress anti-war sentiment. Last week, the Turnbull government revoked the visa of a prominent Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi, to prevent him from addressing public meetings in Australia.

The bid to silence public discussion is a warning. More than 15 years after the declaration of the “war on terror,” the unending war drive by US imperialism is entering a potentially catastrophic stage. Having already devastated much of the Middle East, Washington and its partners are planning even more aggressive actions, posing the danger of direct military conflicts with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

The building of a global anti-war movement of the working class, armed with a socialist perspective, is the only way to prevent a disastrous conflagration.


160119-DirtyWarCover-Print.jpgThe Dirty War on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. In seeking ‘regime change’ the big powers sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies of ‘Islamists’, demonising the Syrian Government and constantly accusing it of atrocities. In this way Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a mild-mannered eye doctor, became the new evil in the world.

The popular myths of this dirty war – that it is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or a sectarian conflict – hide a murderous spree of ‘regime change’ across the region. The attack on Syria was a necessary consequence of Washington’s ambition, stated openly in 2006, to create a ‘New Middle East’. After the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria was next in line.

To order Tim Anderson’s book directly from Global Research, click here or click front cover of book.

Five years into this war the evidence is quite clear and must be set out in detail. The terrible massacres were mostly committed by the western backed jihadists, then blamed on the Syrian Army. The western media and many western NGOs parroted the official line. Their sources were almost invariably those allied to the ‘jihadists’. Contrary to the myth that the big powers now have their own ‘war on terror’, those same powers have backed every single anti-government armed group in Syria, ‘terrorists’ in any other context, adding thousands of ‘jihadis’ from dozens of countries.

Yet in Syria this dirty war has confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along sectarian lines. Despite terrible destruction and loss of life, Syria has survived, deepening its alliance with Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Resistance, the secular Palestinians and, more recently, with Iraq. The tide has turned against Washington, and that will have implications beyond Syria.

As western peoples we have been particularly deceived by this dirty war, reverting to our worst traditions of intervention, racial prejudice and poor reflection on our own histories. This book tries to tell its story while rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, ethical principle and the search for independent evidence.

Reviews: 

Tim Anderson  has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government. 

No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.

This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists.  -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.

ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.

There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “Moderate Opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited  and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.

Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.

Anderson’s excellent book is required reading for those wanting to know the true story of the imperialist proxy war waged on Syria by the U.S. and its Western and Middle Eastern puppet states. This account could also be titled “How to Destroy a Country and Lie About it”. Of course Syria is only one in a long line of countries destroyed by Washington in the Middle East and all over the Global South for more than a century.

Anderson’s analysis is particularly useful for dissecting the propaganda war waged by the U.S. to hide its active support for the vicious Islamic fundamentalists it is using in Syria. In spreading this propaganda the U.S. has been aided not only by the West’s mainstream press but also by its prominent so-called human rights organizations. Asad Ismi, International Affairs Correspondent for The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor.

To order this book directly from Global Research, click here.

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Damascus: Easter Week in a City Under Fire

April 16th, 2017 by Patrick Henningsen

Though old as history itself, thou art fresh as the breath of spring, blooming as thine own rose bud, and fragrant as thine own orange flower, Damascus, pearl of the East.” -Mark Twain “The Innocents Abroad”

The first thing you notice while driving over Mount Lebanon is how close Beirut and Damascus are, and yet their respective situations could not be further apart. 

Last month, the war on Syria entered its sixth year. However, thirty years ago, Lebanon was where Syria finds itself today – embroiled in a painful and protracted not-so-civil ‘civil war,’ with numerous regional and global powers angling for influence, each pressing for their own agenda.

There’s a noticeable difference once you pass from Lebanon into Syria – the highway is paved and smooth, concrete bollards are neatly arranged, and there are no manhole ditches to avoid in the middle of the road. Images of Bashar and his father Hafiz are prominently displayed along the Damascus Road.

As one would expect in a country at war, checkpoints are numerous and security is extremely tight along the rural highways, as well as in the city. Still, life goes on in the capital. Couples are walking, mothers are shopping, children playing and the restaurants are serving.

This is Easter week in Syria. In normal times, the week following Palm Sunday would see major processions and festivities, as families take off work and get together to celebrate over an extended weekend. That’s still happening, but with an air of caution. Church volunteers are still out displaying their Easter decorations, and you can hear the voice of choir hymns gently echoing through the narrow streets of the Old City. Even with the cloud of conflict looming over the city, the spiritual vibration is still undeniable.

This is my first time in Syria, so it’s more than a bit surreal to be having a morning tea while hearing shells exploding only one and a half kilometres away as fierce fighting continues between Syrian government forces and Tahrir al Sham (the latest incarnation in the endless rebranding campaign of Al Nusra Front, aka Al Qaeda in Syria) terrorists (dispensing with the west’s regime change pc lexicon, they are not rebels, they are terrorists) in Jobar.

Last night, we went to sleep with the sounds of artillery and mortars, and awoke by more of the same at about 4:00am. The shelling is loud enough that the bedroom wall vibrates, with a few seconds delay between the sound of firing and the impact. Later today, we’ll get updates and perhaps learn exactly what landed and where, or maybe not. Unfortunately, after 24 hours of continuous random shelling, it becomes background noise. But it also serves as a pungent reminder that anyone’s fortunes can change in a split second.

Some residents intimated that in comparison to 2012 and 2013, the last two years have seen a relative peace for Damascus residents, but that apparent lull in fighting ended last month. Certainly, the tension is palpable. The city is on high alert after intense fighting broke out in the Damascus district of Jobar, and in Quaboun, and in the suburb of Ghouta.

Over the last five weeks, the west’s proxy column commonly known in US and UK media circles and by Senator John McCain, as “moderate rebels,” unleashed what American analyst Andrew Korybko cannily described last month as a Takfiri Tet Offensive. Not surprisingly, the Syrian government forces’ response to the Takfiri offensive in terrorist-occupied places like Jobar has been hard and swift. Syria is not like any other urban conflict. As in East Aleppo, terrorists in Jobar have been operating from a a series of underground tunnels and bunkers which have been dug and developed over the last five years.

The purpose of this terrorist surge was twofold: to derail international peace talks, and to further destablize previously stable areas, like Damascus, but also to try and stretch the Syrian Army’s resources, in effect handicapping attempts to regain control of pivotal control lines like Deir ez Zor. Meanwhile, an increasingly motley international conclave continues to huddle around the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in preparation for the big show.

In the same way that Israeli airstrikes in Syria have coincided with al Nusra and ISIS movements on the ground, the timing of this recent terrorist offensive in conjunction with US military operations should not be ignored either. The fact remains that terrorist militants continue to benefit from the US-led Coalition and Israeli sorties, including after the recent US Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in Syria ordered by President Trump. The US President claims the US was “talking out” Syria’s ‘chemical weapon facilities’ in response to the alleged chemical weapons incident in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province last week. In his infinite wisdom, what Trump really did was take out a Syrian air base which was responsible for roughly 75% of air sorties launched against ISIS. Like Obama before him, Trump’s claim that Washington’s illegal US operation in Syria is all about fighting ISIS – still rings as hollow as ever.

So it’s not outrageous to say that there are no more coincidences  in this war.

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There are a number of ‘moderate rebel’ mortar strikes left in the pavement along a busy shopping thoroughfare in the Old City (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)

In the Old City, you can see where Al Nusra mortar fire landed in the market souks. Despite the fighting, these are areas busy with city residents going about their daily business; shopping, having tea and coffee at cafes, and going to church and mosque. It’s fairly obvious that militants backed by the US, UK, Israel and the Gulf states do not care much for the people of Syria – a conclusion which becomes self-evident by the fact that in every instance where there is fighting in the country, terrorists routinely and as a matter of policy randomly launch mortar and artillery attacks into civilians areas. What else is not reported by western media outlets and what anyone here will tell you, is that the only inhabitants remaining in terrorist-held areas are terrorist fighters, possibly their families, and residents who are not allowed to leave under threat of violence.

Certainly this was the case in East Aleppo, but for an area like Jobar, it’s highly unlikely very many ‘normal’ civilians remain, as militants continue to bait government forces with ‘hit and hide’ mortar attacks while taking refuge in their ever-expanding network of tunnels below street level. Of course, you won’t hear that from any western mainstream media outlet. For any US or UK politician or pundit to try and characterize this as ‘fighting for freedom’ is ludicrous to the extreme and yet, this is how low the level of discourse has sunk thanks to the efforts of Washington and London’s chief propagandists who fill the ranks of what can only be described as forward military operations and information warfare run out of CNN, followed by the BBC, NBC and equivalent outlets.

Simply put, what CNN and its mainstream cohorts have been doing on a daily basis since 2011 is projecting their own self-styled, fictional narratives, tailored for a virtual sixth grade reading level audience. To suggest that somehow the terrorist occupations of Damascus neighborhoods is an outgrowth of the Arab Spring should be treated as fake news on an epic scale.

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In the Old City, you can follow in the literal footsteps of St. Paul in the heart of Damascus (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)

‘Jewel of the Middle East’

First impressions are of a bustling landlocked Middle Eastern megatropolis, with the modern utility of Tehran’s social housing on the outskirts, but with some artisan motifs of Beirut. But none of this really means much in comparison to the time travel portal one steps through when entering one of the Seven Gates of Damascus into the Old City.

Here, history and tradition is preserved on a scale which hardly exists elsewhere.

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Various Christian churches are busy preparing for Easter throughout Syria. Earlier today we visited Mar Boulos Syrian Catholic Church in the Old City of Damascus (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)

A point which has been made by journalists and travel writers who visit Damascus is that you can often see a church located next door to a mosque. It’s a point worth reiterating – especially as western politicians and numerous ‘experts’ on Middle Eastern affairs continue to flood US television screens and talk radio, droning on endlessly about how sectarianism prevents differing communities from living together in countries like Iraq and Syria. It’s simply not true, but for some macabre reason, western experts seem to want it to be so.

Despite the war, Damascus still remains as an important reminder that the western sectarian narrative is political sophistry projected to the public in order to reinforce a distinctly western brand of divide and conquer geopolitics. Different religious sects have, and will continue to thrive side by side – despite Washington and London’s best efforts to set them against each other.

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One of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, the Umayyad Mosque, in Old City, Damascus (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)

Patrick Henningsen is a global affairs analyst and founder of the independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire as well as a regular guest commentator for the UK Column News, RT International, host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR).

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Agora só o pensamento racional pode salvar o mundo!

April 15th, 2017 by Andre Vltchek

CENÁRIO UM: Imagine que está a bordo de um navio a afundar-se lentamente. Não há terra à vista e o seu transmissor de rádio não está a funcionar. Há várias pessoas a bordo e quer mesmo salvá-las. Você não quer que seja o fim de “tudo”.

O que é que faz?

  1. A) Reserva para si uma boa porção de arroz frito com camarões.
  2. B) Liga a televisão, que ainda está a funcionar milagrosamente, e vê as notícias sobre o futuro referendo escocês ou sobre o BREXIT.
  3. C) Salta de imediato para a água, tenta identificar o dano, e tenta fazer algo impensável com suas capacidades e ferramentas simples: salvar o navio.

Imagine outro cenário:

CENÁRIO DOIS: Por engano, a sua esposa ingere dois tubos inteiros de comprimidos para dormir, supostamente confundindo-os com uma nova linha de doces. Quando a encontra no chão, ela parece estar inconsciente e seu rosto está azulado.

Qual seria a sua reação?

  1. A) Depois de perceber que os saltos altos não combinam com a cor da meia-calça dela, você corre para o armário à procura de um par de sapatos mais condizentes.
  2. B) Leva-a sem demora para o quarto de banho, bombeia-lhe o estômago e tenta ressuscitá-la, ao mesmo tempo que chama o 112 usando a função de alta voz do seu telemóvel.
  3. C) Você recorda-se do momento em que se conheceram, sente-se nostálgico e dirige-se apressadamente para a biblioteca da sala de estar, à procura de um livro de sonetos de amor de Pablo Neruda, que recita para ela, emocionado, ajoelhado no tapete.

Agora prepare-se para ter uma grande surpresa. Se não escolher C) no cenário UM, e B) no cenário DOIS, ainda assim você poderá ser realmente considerado absolutamente “normal” de acordo com os padrões dominantes, quer nos EUA quer na Europa.

E se optar por C) ou B), respetivamente, pode facilmente passar por extremista, um fanático ideológico e um esquerdista radical.

**

O Ocidente conduziu o mundo para perto do colapso total, mas os cidadãos, mesmo os intelectuais, continuam teimosamente a recusar-se a entender essa evidência. Como avestruzes, muitos estão a esconder a cabeça na areia. Outros, estão a portar-se como um cirurgião que opta por tratar o doente de um pequeno corte no dedo, ignorando que ele está realmente a morrer, devido a um terrível ferimento causado por uma bala no peito.

Parece haver uma ausência enorme de pensamento racional e, especialmente, da capacidade das pessoas compreenderem, em toda a sua dimensão, as ocorrências e eventos de âmbito mundial. Há anos que venho a defender que a destruição da capacidade de comparar e ver as coisas a partir de uma perspetiva universal tem sido uma das diligências mais bem-sucedidas levadas a cabo pelas instituições de doutrinação ocidentais (através da educação, média/desinformação e “cultura”). Elas têm efetivamente influenciado e pacificado tanto as pessoas no Ocidente como as que vivem nas suas colónias, atuais e antigas, (particularmente as “elites” locais e os seus descendentes).

Parece não haver nenhuma capacidade de comparar e analisar consistentemente, por exemplo, as ações certamente desagradáveis, mas principalmente defensivas tomadas pelos governos e países revolucionários, com os crimes mais horríveis e terríveis cometidos pelos regimes colonialistas do Ocidente em toda a Ásia, América, Médio Oriente e África, que ocorreram quase na mesma época histórica.

Não é só a história que é vista no Ocidente através de lentes totalmente distorcidas e “fora de foco”, é também o presente, que tem sido percebido e “analisado” de uma maneira fora do contexto e sem se aplicar praticamente nenhuma comparação racional. Os países rebeldes e independentes da Ásia, da América Latina, da África e do Médio Oriente (a maioria deles foram realmente forçados a defender-se de ataques extremamente brutais e a opor-se a campanhas de subversão impulsionadas pelo Ocidente) foram criticados, mesmo nos chamados círculos “progressistas” do Ocidente, usando padrões muito mais severos do que aqueles que são aplicados tanto à Europa como à América do Norte, duas partes do mundo que têm espalhado continuamente o terror, e infligido a destruição e sofrimentos inimagináveis a pessoas de todos os cantos do mundo.

A maioria dos crimes cometidos pelas revoluções de esquerda foram cometidos em resposta direta a invasões, subversões, provocações e outros ataques vindos do Ocidente. Quase todos os crimes mais terríveis cometidos pelo Ocidente foram cometidos no exterior e foram dirigidos contra pessoas escravizadas, exploradas, completamente saqueadas e indefesas em quase todas as partes do mundo.

Agora, de acordo com muitos, o “fim do jogo” está a aproximar-se. Os oceanos em ascensão estão a engolir países inteiros, como testemunhei em várias partes da Oceânia. É uma visão horrível, indescritível!

Milhões de pessoas, em numerosos países governados por regimes pró-Ocidente, estão a sair dos seus países, enquanto algumas nações estão basicamente deixando de existir, como a Papua ou Caxemira, para dar apenas dois exemplos óbvios.

O meio ambiente está completamente arruinado nas zonas onde,  há apenas algumas décadas atrás, os “pulmões” do mundo costumavam funcionar, mantendo o planeta saudável.

Dezenas de milhões de pessoas estão agora em movimento, já que os seus países foram completamente arruinados pelos jogos geopolíticos ocidentais. Em vez de influenciar e ajudar a guiar a Humanidade, culturas tão antigas como as do Iraque, Afeganistão e Síria são agora forçadas a produzir milhões de refugiados desesperados. Estão  apenas a tentar sobreviver, humilhadas e pouco relevantes.

Os grupos religiosos extremistas (de todas as religiões e, definitivamente, não apenas pertencentes à religião muçulmana) estão a ser preparados pelos ideólogos e estrategas maquiavélicos ocidentais, e estão espalhados por todos os cantos do globo: Ásia do Sul, Médio Oriente, China, América Latina, África e até na Oceânia.

O imperialismo conseguiu reduzir nossa Humanidade a uma desgraça total.

A maior parte do mundo está realmente a tentar funcionar “normalmente”, “democraticamente”, seguindo seus instintos naturais, que são baseados no simples humanismo. Mas acaba repetidamente por descarrilar, atacado e atormentado pela brutal, monstruosa e impiedosa hidra – o expansionismo ocidental e a sua “cultura” ou niilismo, ganância, cinismo e escravidão.

É óbvio para onde estamos a caminhar enquanto raça humana.

Nós queremos voar, queremos liberdade, otimismo e beleza para governar as nossas vidas. Queremos sonhar e criar algo profundo, significativo, feliz e amável. Mas há aqueles pesos horríveis que nos penduram nos pés. Há correntes que restringem as nossas ações. Há um medo constante, que nos está  a levar a trair todos os nossos ideais, assim como a trair-nos uns aos outros,  uma e outra vez; medo que nos faz, a nós seres humanos, agir como covardes e egoístas sem vergonha. Como resultado, não voamos, estamos apenas a rastejar, e nem mesmo para a frente, mas em elipses e círculos bizarros, irracionais.

Ainda assim, não acredito que o “fim do jogo” seja inevitável!

Há muitos anos que faço advertências, tenho escrito, mostrado e apresentado milhares de terríveis imagens de destruição, do colapso irreversível, da barbárie.

Praticamente, não guardei nada para mim. Utilizei os frutos do meu trabalho, dos meus filmes e livros, em novas viagens para os abismos mais escuros do nosso mundo. Não recebi quase nenhum apoio de terceiros. Mas não posso parar: o que tenho testemunhado, o perigo para o planeta e a devastação total, forçam-me a nunca desistir da luta. Sempre que foi necessário, e na maioria das vezes, eu estive sozinho. Passei muito tempo na América Latina; não posso desistir. Aprendi muito com Cuba e em tantos outros lugares maravilhosos; senti que não tinha o direito de me render.

Sempre que os horrores de que nosso planeta está sofrendo me sobrecarregam, posso ‘colapsar’, como aconteceu no ano passado. Então enterro-me em algum lugar por um curto período de tempo, reúno-me comigo mesmo, levanto-me e continuo o meu trabalho e a minha luta. Nunca deixei de confiar nas pessoas. Alguns vêm cheios de entusiasmo inicial, oferecem muito, depois traem-me e saem. Ainda assim, nunca perdi a fé nos seres humanos. Este ano, em vez de desacelerar, eu ‘adotei’ mais um lugar, que está em agonia – o Afeganistão.

O meu único pedido, a minha única exigência foi, que o mundo escutasse, que visse, que tentasse compreender, antes que seja tarde demais. Este meu pedido provou ser, percebo-o agora, tido também como “exigente”, e “radical”.

Às vezes pergunto: consegui muito? Abri os olhos a muita gente? Consegui construir muitas pontes entre as diferentes partes do mundo em luta? Como um internacionalista tenho de questionar as minhas próprias ações, a minha eficácia.

Tenho que admitir, honestamente: não sei as respostas para minhas próprias perguntas. Mas continuo a trabalhar e a lutar.

**

O mundo parece diferente se observado e analisado a partir de um pub na Europa ou na América do Norte, ou se alguém estiver de pé num daqueles atóis no meio do Pacífico Sul (Oceânia) que estão sob o assalto constante da maré das ondas, pontilhadas com raízes das palmeiras mortas que apontavam de forma acusadora para o céu. Essas ilhotas estão na vanguarda da batalha pela sobrevivência do nosso planeta, e estão obviamente a ser derrotadas.

Tudo também parece ser muito mais urgente, mas também “real”, quando observado a partir das planícies negras e desoladas das ilhas indonésias, desesperadamente alagadas, de Bornéu/Kalimantan e Sumatra.

Eu costumava relatar nos meus ensaios, apenas para os leitores ficarem a saber, como ficavam as aldeias nalguns lugares, como em Goma na República Democrática do Congo (RDC), e como se sentiam as pessoas, após os assassinatos perpetrados por assassinos pró-Ruanda e, portanto, pró-Ocidente. Milícias. Era importante para mim explicar como as coisas são “no meio delas”, no terreno. Eu costumava escrever sobre estupros e mutilações em massa, sobre a carne queimada, a tortura terrível…Parei há algum tempo. Ou se testemunha tudo isso pelo menos uma vez ou simplesmente não se testemunha. Se se testemunha, sabe-se o que é, o que se sente e a que cheira…ou então nunca se poderá imaginar, por muitos livros e relatórios que se leia, por muitas imagens que se vejam.

Tenho tentado falar sobre tudo isto com as pessoas no Ocidente, em conferências, universidades, ou mesmo através dos meus filmes e livros. Elas escutam, principalmente com respeito. Elas mostram-se educadamente indignadas e ‘horrorizadas’, elas ficam (como é “esperado” que fiquem). Alguns dizem: ‘Eu quero fazer alguma coisa’. A maioria não faz absolutamente nada, mas mesmo quando decidem agir, é geralmente para si mesmos, apenas para se sentirem bem, para se sentirem melhor, para convencerem a própria consciência de que realmente “fizeram pelo menos algo pela Humanidade”.

Eu costumava culpá-los. Já não o faço. É assim que o mundo está organizado. No entanto, tenho reduzido drasticamente as visitas de trabalho tanto à América do Norte como à Europa. Eu não sinto empatia com as pessoas nesses lugares. Não pensamos da mesma maneira, não sentimos o mesmo, e mesmo a nossa lógica e razão são diametralmente diferentes.

A minha recente estadia de três semanas na Europa revelou-me claramente o quão pouco há de comum entre o estado mental do Ocidente e a realidade em que a grande maioria do mundo tem vivido.

**

No passado, antes que os impérios ocidentais e o único “Império”, tivessem esvaziado os povos da maior parte da sua determinação e do seu entusiasmo, os seres humanos mais talentosos não faziam distinção entre as vidas pessoais, a sua criatividade e o seu implacável trabalho e dever para com a Humanidade.

Em vários lugares, incluindo Cuba, é assim que muitas pessoas ainda vivem.

No Ocidente, todos e tudo está agora fragmentado e a própria vida tornou-se objetivamente sem sentido: há um tempo distinto para trabalhar (satisfazer a carreira pessoal, garantir a sobrevivência, avançar “prestígio” e ego), um tempo para brincar e a vida familiar… e ocasionalmente há tempo para pensar sobre a Humanidade ou, muito raramente, sobre a sobrevivência do nosso planeta.

Escusado será dizer que, essa abordagem egoísta falhou na ajuda necessária para fazer avançar o mundo. E também fracassou diretamente quando se tratou de parar, pelo menos algumas, das monstruosidades cometidas pelo imperialismo ocidental.

Quando vou à ópera ou a algum grande concerto de música clássica, é para obter uma inspiração profunda, para me entusiasmar com o meu trabalho, para reciclar a beleza que exprimo nos meus romances e filmes, peças de teatro e até relatórios políticos. Nunca vou para ficar simplesmente “entretido”. Nunca é, pelas minhas próprias necessidades, somente.

Também é essencial para mim trabalhar em estreita colaboração com as pessoas que amo, incluindo a minha mãe, que já tem 82 anos.

É porque eu sei que não há absolutamente nenhum tempo para desperdiçar. E também porque tudo é, e deve estar entrelaçado na vida: amor, trabalho, dever, luta pela sobrevivência e progresso do nosso mundo.

**

Posso ser rotulado como fanático, mas estou decididamente a escolher as opções C) e B) dos “dilemas” que descrevi acima.

Estou a escolher a racionalidade, agora que a “armada” dos EUA repleta de armas nucleares está a navegar em direção à China e à Coreia do Norte, agora que os mísseis Tomahawk caíram sobre a Síria, agora que o Ocidente vai enviar mais milhares de mercenários para um dos países mais devastados da Terra – o Afeganistão.

Sobrevivência e, em seguida, o avanço do mundo deve ser o nosso maior objetivo. Eu acredito nisso e fico de pé. Em tempos de crises absolutas, que estamos vivenciando agora, é irresponsável, quase grotesco, simplesmente ‘continuarmos a viver a nossa vida diária’.

O imperialismo tem que ser travado de uma vez por todas, por todos os meios. No momento em que a sobrevivência da Humanidade está em jogo, o fim justifica todos os meios. Ou, como reza o lema do Chile: “Por razão ou por força”.

Naturalmente, se aqueles “que sabem” não agirem, se forem covardes e oportunisticamente não fizerem nada, de uma perspetiva universal, nada de muito significativo acontecerá: um pequeno planeta numa de tantas galáxias simplesmente deixará de existir. Há muitos planetas habitados no universo, muitas civilizações.

No entanto, eu adoro este mundo e este Planeta particular. Eu conheço-o bem, desde a ponta mais ao sul, todo o caminho para o norte. Eu conheço os seus desertos e vales, montanhas e oceanos, as suas criaturas maravilhosas e tocantes, as suas grandes cidades e aldeias abandonadas. Conheço os seus povos. Eles têm muitas falhas; pelas quais em muito os podemos condenar, e muito deve ainda melhorar. Mas acredito que, no entanto, ainda são mais merecedores de admiração do que de denúncia.

Agora é hora de pensar, racional e rapidamente, e então agir. Nenhum remendo pequeno será suficiente, nada de ações para “sentir-se bem”. Apenas uma recomposição total, revisão. Chame-lhe a Revolução, se você quiser, ou simplesmente C) e B). Não importa como você o defina, mas algo terá que vir rapidamente, muito rapidamente, ou em breve não haverá mais nada para amar, defender e trabalhar, nunca mais.

Andre Vltchek

 

Artigo original em inglês :

Now Only Rational Thinking Can Save the World!

Tradução : Júlio Gomes (Docente na Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal, atualmente reformado.)

.

Andre Vltchek é um filósofo, romancista, cineasta e jornalista de investigação. Cobriu guerras e conflitos em dezenas de países. Três de seus últimos livros são o romance revolucionário “Aurora”, e dois bestsellers, obras de não-ficção política: Expondo as mentiras do Império e Luta contra o imperialismo ocidental. Veja outros livros aqui. André está fazendo filmes para teleSUR e Al-Mayadeen. Assista a Ruanda Gambit, seu documentário inovador sobre o Ruanda e a República Democrática do Congo. Depois de ter vivido na América Latina, África e Oceânia, Vltchek atualmente reside na Ásia Oriental e no Médio Oriente, e continua a trabalhar em todo o mundo. Ele pode ser contactado através do seu website e pelo Twitter.

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Double Standards? Whereas President Donald Trump threatens to wage a preemptive attack against North Korea if Pyongyang goes ahead with its nuclear weapons tests, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the US Air Force have announced the carrying out of tests of America’s controversial state of the art B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb.

In a bitter irony, the announcement of the B61-12 nuclear bomb tests (which took place a month ago at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada), was made public on exactly the same day (April 13, 2017) as the official (“first time in history”) deployment of  America’s “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) as part of a counter-terrorism operation against the ISIS in the remote highlands of Afghanistan (and two days prior to the North Korean tests which, according to Western sources, had been scheduled for April 15-16). 


UPDATE (19.30pm ET): Western media reports quoting South Korean military sources point to a failed DPRK Missile launch. “North Korea attempted to test an unidentified type of missile from [its eastern port of] Sinpo,” the ministry said, adding that the suspected launch on Sunday had “failed”.

The report is unconfirmed. No statement was made by the DPRK authorities. Normally, if this launch had occurred, one would expect that both the ROK and US military and intelligence would have precise information pertaining thereto. 

Apart from the official NNSA release, the “functionality test” pertaining to the US B61-12 Guided Nuclear Gravity Bomb is not the object of media coverage. 


In practice, the deployment of the MOAB in Afghanistan was a de facto “weapons test”, a “dress rehearsal” in disguise for the subsequent deployment of the largest conventional “non-nuclear weapon ever designed” against underground targets in Iran and North Korea. While the deployment of the MOAB received extensive media coverage (focussing on the “war on terrorism”), the testing of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb was not considered newsworthy.

Disinformation through omission: While the media has its eyes riveted on the “North Korean Nuclear Threat”, these tests of America’s nuclear arsenal are not considered “front-page news”. Why? Because the U.S. public is led to believe that America is NOT a threat to Global Security.

Meanwhile, the West’s (non-existent) anti-war movement remains  mum; nobody is challenging (or threatening) Washington for testing the functionality of the B61-12 bomb (without the need of a nuclear explosion). The B61-12 is America’s latest addition to its nuclear arsenal of more than 7000 nuclear warheads: The new B61-12 (guided) gravity nuclear bomb is heralded as an instrument of peace and global security. Pre-emptive nuclear war does not constitute a threat to humanity.

Needless to say, the development of the B61-12 is part of a multibillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization program funded by US tax payers.

The B61-11 and 12 are  bunker buster (gravity) bombs with a nuclear warhead, slated to be used on a first strike basis under the doctrine of “pre-emptive” nuclear war against both nuclear and non-nuclear states.

The MOAB is also a high yield  bunker buster bomb, with a conventional warhead and a “non-nuclear” mushroom cloud similar to that of a nuclear bomb. Both the MOAB and the B61-11 (which is actively deployed) are (“officially”) intended to destroy underground military targets (e.g in North Korea and Iran).

According to the NNSA:

The non-nuclear [B61-12] test assembly was dropped from an F-16 based at Nellis Air Force Base. The test evaluated both the weapon’s non-nuclear functions as well as the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon.

This event is the first of a series that will be conducted over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service.  Three successful development flight tests were conducted in 2015.

Peace-making Bombs

In 2002,  the mini-nukes were recategorized by the US Senate (2001 Nuclear Posture Review), cleared for use in the conventional war theater, thereby foreclosing once and for all the Cold War doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) which previously described the use of nukes as part of a doomsday scenario.

The B61 tactical nuclear weapons (mini-nukes) have an explosive capacity varying between one third and 12 times a Hiroshima bomb. Their use, however, following the US Senate’s 2002 “recategorization” would not require the “green light” from the Commander in Chief (aka Donald Trump).

The B61-12 has an explosive yield varying from 0.3 kilotons to 50 kilotons. While the test in Nevada was limited to evaluating the functionality of the B61-12, without the need for a nuclear explosion, this decision is nonetheless both “timely” and “significant”. It’s also an instrument of propaganda directed against the DPRK.

What it implies is that the new B61-12 which is designated to target underground bunker facilities is in the process of being cleared for active deployment.

North Korea versus the United States

US public opinion is routinely led to believe that US nukes are harmless (safe for civilians). The devastating consequences (amply documented) of the use of nuclear weapons is carefully obfuscated.  In contrast to the nukes developed by North Korea, the US Department of Defense considers both the B61-11 and the new B61-12  as”harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground“, according to “scientific opinion” on contract to the Pentagon.

While the DPRK’s nukes are considered as bona fide Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and a Threat to Global Security, America’s tactical mini-nukes are categorized as “peace-making bombs”. They’re harmless to civilians according to the military manuals; let’s go head and use them as part of a  pre- emptive “humanitarian” war under an R2P mandate  (“Responsibility to Protect”).

Lest we forget, the DPRK has been threatened by the US with nuclear war for more than half a century. Barely a few years after the end of the Korean War (1950-53), the US initiated its deployment of nuclear warheads in South Korea. This deployment in Uijongbu and Anyang-Ni had been envisaged as early as 1956.

Trump-Style Political Insanity

All the safeguards of the Cold War era, which categorized the nuclear bomb as “a weapon of last resort”, have been scrapped. “Offensive” military actions using nuclear warheads are now described as acts of “self-defense”.

In the post Cold war era, US nuclear doctrine was redefined. There is no sanity under the Trump administration as to what is euphemistically called US foreign policy. Trump hasn’t the foggiest idea as to the consequences of nuclear war. Nor does he have an understanding of the workings of US foreign policy.

At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable… (Image of Hiroshima in the wake of the bombing)

Stay informed, spread the word far and wide. To reverse the tide of war, the broader public must be informed. Post on Facebook/Twitter.

Confront the war criminals in high office.

#StandDownMrTrump. What we really need is real “Regime Change in America”.


originalClick image to order Michel Chossudovsky’s book directly from Global Research

“On August 6, 2003, on Hiroshima Day, commemorating when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima (August 6 1945), a secret meeting was held behind closed doors at Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Senior executives from the nuclear industry and the military industrial complex were in attendance. This mingling of defense contractors, scientists and policy-makers was not intended to commemorate Hiroshima. The meeting was intended to set the stage for the development of a new generation of “smaller”, “safer” and “more usable” nuclear weapons, to be used in the “in-theater nuclear wars” of the 21st Century.

In a cruel irony, the participants to this secret meeting, which excluded members of Congress, arrived on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing (August 6) and departed on the anniversary of the attack on Nagasaki (August 9).” (Michel Chossudovsky, Towards a World War III Scenario, The Dangers of Nuclear War, Global Research, Montreal, 2012) Click the link above to order directly from Global Research.

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 On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence heads to Seoul, part of a 10-day Asia trip to include Japan, Indonesia and Australia visits. A White House statement said he’ll “arrive in Seoul…on April 16,” return home on April 25.
Trump launching aggression on North Korea risking nuclear war while his vice-president is in East Asia seems unlikely.
For now, he’ll most likely continue tough talk, saber rattle off North Korea’s coastline, pressure China and impose more sanctions. What comes later remains to be seen.
An unnamed White House foreign policy advisor said Pence will meet with South Korea officials on Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, arriving the day after the DPRK’s Day of the Sun national holiday, commemorating Kim Il-sung’s 105th birthday, the country’s founder.
The White House has contingency plans in case Pence’s trip coincides with Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, the White House added without further elaboration.
According to the US official, the DPRK continues developing its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, expecting further tests, saying:
“With the regime, it’s not a matter of if. It’s when. We are well prepared to counter that,” adding:
“We are fully committed to our security alliances, especially in the face of our evolving security
challenges.”
“And you’ve seen the nuclear threat of North Korea, and we’ll reinforce those security alliances,” suggesting a possible military response.
On Saturday, Pyongyang showcased its ICBMs during a military parade, commemorating Kim Il-sung’s birthday. Seoul said they appeared to be a new type – longer than the existing KN-08 or KN-14 ICBMs.
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) were publicly displayed for the first time. On State television, a male voiceover said “(t)oday’s parade will provide a chance to display our powerful military might” – a clear message to Trump, the West, Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.
Senior DPRK official Choe Ryong-hae said his country is ready to challenge any US-initiated aggression, accusing Trump of “creating a war situation” by hostile rhetoric and positioning US warships off North Korea’s coastline.
“We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack,” he said.
On Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned “conflict could break out at any moment.” Pyongyang considers Trump “unpredictable.”
Perhaps its leadership chose a saber-rattling military parade in lieu of an expected Saturday nuclear test, maybe postponed, not cancelled.
China is Pyongyang’s key ally. In 1961, both countries signed the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty.
It obligates both nations to provide military and other aid if either one is attacked by a foreign power. The treaty remains in force until 2021.
Beijing wants conflict avoided for obvious reasons. It shares a border with North Korea. Hordes of refugees would seek safe haven in China if war erupts.
Nuclear war fallout would affect the entire region. South Korea and Japan want things resolved diplomatically. Everyone loses in case of war.
Trump said the North Korean problem “will be taken care of.” If China doesn’t help, he’ll go it alone.
Pyongyang’s General Staff urged Washington “to come to its senses and make a proper option for the solution (to) the problem.”
Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol warned “we will go to war if they choose. If the US comes with reckless military maneuvers, then we will confront it with the DPRK’s preemptive strike.”
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi “call(ed) on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made similar comments. Possible Korean war with nukes should terrify everyone.
It’s Trump’s call. His belligerence over diplomacy is great cause for concern.
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. 
 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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We bring to the attention of our readers the complete declassified White House report which accuses the Syrian government of deliberately killing its own people triggering  people. The report is entitled “The Assad Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons on April 4, 2017”

Click Here to read complete report (PDF)

Excerpt (screenshot of original):

Click Here to read complete report (PDF)

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The sarin-gas attack story prompted the US missile strike on a Syrian runway. Here are the top ten reasons for doubting that story, and instead calling it a convenient pretext:

ONE: Photos show rescue workers treating/decontaminating people injured or killed in the gas attack. The workers aren’t wearing gloves or protective gear. Only the clueless or crazy would expose themselves to sarin residue, which can be fatal.

TWO: MIT professor Thomas Postol told RT,

“I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the [US intelligence] 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…Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real. No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it.” How would a canister purportedly dropped from an Assad-ordered plane incur “crushing from above?”

THREE: Why would President Assad, supported by Russia, scoring victory after victory against ISIS, moving closer to peace negotiations, suddenly risk all his gains by dropping sarin gas on his own people?

FOUR: In an interview with Scott Horton, ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi states that his intelligence and military sources indicate Assad didn’t attack his own people with poison gas.

FIVE: Ex-CIA officer Ray McGovern states that his military sources report an Assad air strike did hit a chemical plant, and the fallout killed people, but the attack was not planned for that purpose. There was no knowledge the chemicals were lethal.SIX: At consortiumnews.com, journalist Robert Parry writes,

“There is a dark mystery behind the White House-released photo showing President Trump and more than a dozen advisers meeting at his estate in Mar-a-Lago after his decision to strike Syria with Tomahawk missiles: Where are CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other top intelligence officials?”

“Before the photo was released on Friday, a source told me that Pompeo had personally briefed Trump on April 6 about the CIA’s belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was likely not responsible for the lethal poison-gas incident in northern Syria two days earlier — and thus Pompeo was excluded from the larger meeting as Trump reached a contrary decision.”

“After the attack, Secretary of State Tillerson, who is not an institutional intelligence official and has little experience with the subtleties of intelligence, was the one to claim that the U.S. intelligence community assessed with a ‘high degree of confidence’ that the Syrian government had dropped a poison gas bomb on civilians in Idlib province.”

“While Tillerson’s comment meshed with Official Washington’s hastily formed groupthink of Assad’s guilt, it is hard to believe that CIA analysts would have settled on such a firm conclusion so quickly, especially given the remote location of the incident and the fact that the initial information was coming from pro-rebel (or Al Qaeda) sources.”

“Thus, a serious question arises whether President Trump did receive that ‘high degree of confidence’ assessment from the intelligence community or whether he shunted Pompeo aside to eliminate an obstacle to his desire to launch the April 6 rocket attack.”

SEVEN: As soon as the Assad gas attack was reported, the stage was set for a US missile strike. No comprehensive investigation of the purported gas attack was undertaken.

EIGHT: There are, of course, precedents for US wars based on false evidence—the missing WMDs in Iraq, the claims of babies being pushed out of incubators in Kuwait, to name just two.

NINE: Who benefits from the sarin gas story? Assad? Or US neocons; the US military-industrial complex; Pentagon generals who want a huge increase in their military budget; Trump and his team, who are suddenly praised in the press, after a year of being pilloried at every turn; and ISIS?

TEN: For those who doubt that ISIS has ever used poison gas, see the NY Times (11/21/2016). While claiming that Assad has deployed chemical attacks, the article also states that ISIS has deployed chemical weapons 52 times since 2014.

I’m not claiming these ten reasons definitely and absolutely rule out the possibility of an Assad-ordered chemical attack. But they do add up to a far more believable conclusion than the quickly assembled “Assad-did-it” story.

These ten reasons starkly point to the lack of a rational and complete investigation of the “gas attack.”

And this lack throws a monkey wrench into Trump’s claim that he was ordering the missile strike based on “a high degree of confidence.”

Image Credit

(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, The Matrix Revealed, click here.)

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine.

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His attack on Syria’s Shayrat airbase looked like prelude for escalated aggression.
According to Bloomberg News, administration officials are undecided on what comes next. National Security Advisor McMaster favors deploying tens of thousands of US ground forces to northern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley.
Trump told Fox News “(w)e’re not going into Syria.” He often says one thing, then goes a different way, so it’s unclear what he’ll do so far.
McMaster favors a greatly increased US military presence in Syria. According to Bloomberg, Defense Secretary Mattis, Joint Chiefs chairman Dunford, and CENTCOM commander Votel oppose the idea.
Chief White House strategist Bannon accused McMaster of wanting to start another Iraq war. Pentagon officials favor escalating conflict in Syria short of full-scale war.
Following his meeting with Rex Tillerson, Sergey Lavrov said they agreed that further US missile or similar attacks on Syria are unacceptable.
Lavrov called the Shayrat strike a US “provocation. (Tillerson) and I thoroughly discussed the situation and agreed that this should not happen again,” he said.
Lavrov knows his counterpart has no say over America’s imperial agenda – what hawkish administration officials and Pentagon commanders decide.
Separately on Friday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov heavily criticized Trump’s aggression, saying:
“According to an established tradition, every violation of international law, especially military aggression on the part of the US against sovereign states, is covered up by the Pentagon by the presence of some ‘indisputable’ evidence of atrocities.” 
“And the more contrived these pseudo-proofs, the more ‘secret’ they are.”
A CNN fake news report claimed US intelligence services intercepted communications between Syrian chemical and military personnel regarding preparations for attacking Khan Sheikhoun with CWs.
No such communications took place. Syria had nothing to do with the April 4 incident. Not according to neocon CIA director Mike Pompeo. He lied, claiming with “high confidence” Assad ordered the attack.
He provided no evidence proving his accusation because none exists. Assad called blaming him and his government a “100 percent fabrication.”
Russia wants an unbiased independent investigation of the Khan Sheikhoun incident, concerned about OPCW involvement.
According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, “(t)he trust for (its) activity continues to dwindle as (it) ignores obvious facts.”
It’s investigators draw conclusions in advance, he said – “later impos(ing) (them) on the entire international community as the ultimate truth.”
“(P)ermanent (Security Council) member-states…and other countries such as Iran, Brazil and India should take part in” the investigation. “We will insist on this,” Ryabkov stressed, adding:
“We are very much interested in establishing the truth, and are not interested at all in the gambling the United States, Britain, France and other countries continue for the sake of attaining their geopolitical aims.” 
“We would like inquiries at Khan Shaykhun and the Shayrat base to be made as soon as possible.”
If chemical weapons were present on Syria’s Shayrat airbase, traces will be found. If not, Syria will be absolved of responsibility for what happened.
Washington opposes an independent investigation, knowing it’ll prove Syria had nothing to do with the Khan Sheikhoun CW attack.
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. 
 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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On April 6th, 2017, on the 100 year anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, Donald Trump launched airstrikes against the Syrian government; in retaliation for a gas attack supposedly perpetrated by Assad. There was no investigation, not even a hack job of a frame up like we had in 2003. The evidence we do have contradicts the official story, and the stakes are much higher this time around.

Then before the dust had even settled, Trump pivoted to Asia. Ratcheting up intimidation tactics, towards North Korea. Threatening regime change and practically begging the already insecure Kim Jong-un to do something stupid. And that’s the point. Provoke a response, and then play the victim.

Video below is an analysis of Trump’s World War 3. For full transcript, see below

If he can’t get it the old fashion way he might just make one up. Trump cut a deal with the deep state, and the neoliberal/neocon/corporate alliance. They got his back now. As long as they get their war, everybody’s happy.

Make no mistake this is just the beginning. Expect the unexpected in the South China Sea, Iran, and Eastern Europe and on the home front.

The circus tent is coming down, but boy is he gonna give us a show in the meantime.

Trump isn’t just flirting with World War III, he’s inviting it. He wants everyone to know that he’s crazy enough to pull the trigger; thinks it’ll help him twist some arms, thinks he can force the big boys to negotiate.

But this isn’t isn’t a real estate deal, and that’s not an ace he’s got up his sleeve. Nobody wins a nuclear war.

If just 300 of Russia’s bombs were set off in the United States somewhere between 75 and 100 million people would die in the first half hour. Most of the infrastructure needed to support the population would be instantly destroyed: communication systems, hospitals, transport, power plants, etc… Those not killed by the initial blast would die slowly in the coming months from radiation poisoning, starvation, exposure, and disease.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Even a smaller nuclear conflict involving only 50 to 100 Hiroshima sized bombs would send 5 million tons of debris into the upper atmosphere causing global temperatures to plummet catastrophically, reducing rainfall worldwide for up to a decade, devastating agriculture, and triggering mass starvation on a global scale.

That is not a world you would want to raise children in.

The powers want to tip the game board, rewrite history and start again. They think you’re too stupid, too distracted, too easy to manipulated by emotional platitudes to examine the evidence.

It would be completely illogical for Assad to use chemical weapons at this stage of the conflict . They had nothing to gain from this and everything to lose. The Syrian army had the clear advantage at this stage with conventional means, Russia has their back, and that gave them an extremely strong position going into negotiations which were scheduled for the very next day (April 7th). Assad would have to be a total moron to do something like this (and he’s not).

Then there’s the fact Assad doesn’t actually have such weapons. According to the OPCW, the last of Syria’s chemical weapons were handed over for destruction in 2014. John Kerry confirmed this assessment.

“But Assad used chemical weapons before!”

Really? When? According to the U.N. investigation conducted on the gas attacks of 2013, as reported by the BBC, it was the Rebels that used Sarin, not Assad.

Obama backed down in 2013 because the U.S. backed rebels got caught, and we held them accountable. As a people we activated in 2013 against these airstrikes. We flooded the phone lines as congress approached the vote. We didn’t ask nicely. We made it clear that we knew their names and addresses and that we would hold them personally accountable for the consequences.

Funny thing: they cancelled the vote, Obama backed down, and humanity temporarily stepped away from the abyss.

Trump himself spoke out against the airstrikes in 2013. He demanded a formal declaration of war by congress “unconstitutional if not”. Pointed out just how stupid and destructive such a decision would be… 

Mr Trump is a liar, a hypocrite and a fool. He has turned the U.S. military into Al Qaeda’s air force. He’s playing chicken with humanity’s future. He’s rolling dice with the inhabitability of the planet.

And this insanity is bipartisan! The Neoliberal, Neocon, corporate alliance has come out of the closet, in a disgusting show of war mongering solidarity.

These haircuts in suits don’t deserve your obedience. They don’t even deserve your respect. It’s not their power it’s yours.

If enough of you figure that out it’s game over. That’s why they pit you against each other provoking artificial group identities. Divide and conquer makes you easy to control.

The choices we make in the next few milliseconds of human history count. A lot.

Asymmetrical Response When the odds are stacked against us, and failure is not an option we must formulate an asymmetrical response.

We have to think outside the box, find creative ways to break the chain of obedience, and send a message in uncompromising terms: #StandDownMr.Trump Stand Down.

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With the world still abuzz over the first ever deployment of the GBU-43/B “Mother Of All Bombs” in Afghanistan, where it reportedly killed some 36 ISIS fighters, in a less noticed statement the US National Nuclear Security Administration quietly announced overnight the first successful field test of the modernized, “steerable” B61-12 gravity thermonuclear bomb in Nevada.

In a well-timed statement, just as tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program and potential US airstrikes run wild, the NNSA said that in conjunction with the US Air Force, it had completed the first qualification flight test of B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb on March 14 at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

In the press release, the NNSA said that the “non-nuclear assembly test” was dropped from an F-16 based at Nellis Air Force Base and was intended to evaluate “both the weapon’s non-nuclear functions as well as the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon.”

This test was the first of a series that will be conducted over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service. Three successful development flight tests were conducted in 2015.

“This demonstration of effective end-to-end system performance in a realistic ballistic flight environment marks another on-time achievement for the B61-12 Life Extension Program,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, NNSA’s principal assistant deputy administrator for military application. “The successful test provides critical qualification data to validate that the baseline design meets military requirements. It reflects the nation’s continued commitment to our national security and that of our allies and partners.”

The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants, and mated to the tail-kit assembly section, designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.


Phil Hoover, an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, shows off a flight test

body for a B61-12 nuclear weapon

The B61-12 consolidates and replaces four B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.

The original B61 gravity bomb is the mainstay of the Air Force’s nuclear arsenal and one of the legs of the so-called nuclear triad, along with the intercontinental ballistic missiles deployed from either ground-based silos or oceangoing submarines. The B61 nuclear gravity bomb, deployed from U.S. Air Force and NATO bases, has almost 50 years of service, “making it the oldest and most versatile weapon in the enduring U.S. stockpile.” Numerous modifications have been made to improve the B61’s safety, security, and reliability since the first B61 entered service in 1968, and four B61 variants remain in the stockpile: the 3, 4, 7, and 11. However, the aging weapon system requires a life extension to continue deterring potential adversaries and reassuring our allies and partners of our security commitments to them.

The B61-12 LEP will refurbish, reuse, or replace all of the bomb’s nuclear and non?nuclear components to extend the service life of the B61 by at least 20 years, “and to improve the bomb’s safety,  effectiveness, and security” according to the NNSA. The B61-12 first production unit will occur in FY 2020. The bomb will be approximately 12 feet long and weigh approximately 825 pounds. The bomb will be air-delivered in either ballistic gravity or guided drop modes, and is being certified for delivery on current strategic (B-2A) and dual capable aircraft (F-15E, F-16C/D & MLU, PA-200) as well as future aircraft platforms (F-35, B-21).

President Trump has endorsed the ambitious and expensive plan to modernize the US nuclear triad, begun under his predecessor.

The March test of the B61-12 was the first in a series to take place over the next three years, with the final design review due in September 2018 and the first production unit scheduled for completion by March 2020.

Once the bomb is authorized for use in 2020, the US plans to deploy some 180 of the B61-12 precision-guided thermonuclear bombs to five European countries as follows:

  • Belgium – 20;
  • Germany -20;
  • Italy – 70;
  • Netherlands – 20;
  • Turkey -50;

… although in light of recent developments, and this weekend’s Turkish referendum which may grant Erdogan what are effectively dictatorial powers, it may consider reassessing the Turkish deployment.

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Trump May Send Up To 50,000 Troops To Syria

April 15th, 2017 by Zero Hedge

It appears that Mike Cernovich, who earlier this week wrote that Trump’s national security advisor, Gen. H.R.McMaster, was planning on sending as many as 150,000 troops to Syria, may have been right again. According to Bloomberg commentator Eli Lake, who has now made a habit of confirming Cernovich “conspiracy theories” (he did so previously with the Susan Rice scoop), Trump may be on the verge of escalating the proxy war in Syria by sending anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 troops on the ground, and – if Cernovich is indeed correct – as much as three times more.

Per Lake, after U-turning on attacking Syria last week and on a variety of economic policies yesterday, the Donald Trump‘s “biggest foreign policy surprise may be yet to come.” Specifically, he says that McMaster, has been quietly pressing his colleagues to question the underlying assumptions of a draft war plan against the Islamic State that would maintain only a light U.S. ground troop presence in Syria. “McMaster’s critics inside the administration say he wants to send tens of thousands of ground troops to the Euphrates River Valley. His supporters insist he is only trying to facilitate a better inter-agency process to develop Trump’s new strategy to defeat the self-described caliphate that controls territory in Iraq and Syria.”

To be sure, there have been ground troops, typically special forces, in Syria since 2014, when Barack Obama famously flipflopped on his own promise of “no more boots on the ground”, first in Iraq and then the broader region. However, the U.S. presence on the ground has been much smaller and quieter than more traditional military campaigns, particularly for Syria. As Lake puts it,

“It’s the difference between boots on the ground and slippers on the ground.”

Well, the boots are coming, even if that means Trump gets to flip on yet another promise: Trump told Fox Business this week that that would not be his approach to fighting the Syrian regime:

“We’re not going into Syria,” he said.

According to Gen. McMaster “we are”, and it’s only a matter of time.

As Lake explains, McMaster himself has found resistance to a more robust ground troop presence in Syria. In two meetings since the end of February of Trump’s national security cabinet, known as the principals’ committee, Trump’s top advisers have failed to reach consensus on the Islamic State strategy. The White House and administration officials say Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and General Joseph Votel, who is in charge of U.S. Central Command, oppose sending more conventional forces into Syria.

An interesting aside: according to a Lake source, Stephen Bannon had “derided” McMaster to his colleagues as trying to start a new Iraq War. Bannon’s opposition to yet another US conflict – one which would have the clear goal of replacing the Assad regime – may explain why the former Breitbart head is on his way out.

* * *

So where in the process is the McMaster “ground war” plan currently? Lake reports that it is still in its early stages.

Because Trump’s national security cabinet has not reached consensus, the Islamic State war plan is now being debated at the policy coordinating committee, the inter-agency group hosted at the State Department of subject matter experts that prepares issues for the principals’ committee and deputies’ committee, after which a question reaches the president’s desk for a decision.

Of course, following the recent cleansing of the NSC as per McMaster himself, which kicked out such skeptics as Bannon, whatever the new national security advisor wants, is what he will get.

And what he wants, based on the preliminary information, is a land war.

Inside the Pentagon, military leaders favor a more robust version of Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State. This has been a combination of airstrikes and special operations forces that train and support local forces… McMaster however is skeptical of this approach. To start, it relies primarily on Syrian Kurdish militias to conquer and hold Arab-majority territory. Jack Keane, a retired four-star Army general who is close to McMaster, acknowledged to me this week that the Kurdish forces have been willing to fight the Islamic State, whereas Arab militias have primarily fought against the Assad regime.

Keane told Lake he favored a plan to begin a military operation along the Euphrates River Valley.

“A better option is to start the operation in the southeast along the Euphrates River Valley, establish a U.S. base of operations, work with our Sunni Arab coalition partners, who have made repeated offers to help us against the regime and also ISIS. We have turned those down during the Obama administration.”

That particular plan would require an initial force of 10,000 troops:

Keane added that U.S. conventional forces would be the anchor of that initial push, which he said would most likely require around 10,000 U.S. conventional forces, with an expectation that Arab allies in the region would provide more troops to the U.S.-led effort.
With time, however, the number will grow dramatically:

White House and administration officials familiar with the current debate tell me there is no consensus on how many troops to send to Syria and Iraq. Two sources told me one plan would envision sending up to 50,000 troops. Blogger and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich wrote on April 9 that McMaster wanted 150,000 ground troops for Syria, but U.S. officials I spoke with said that number was wildly inflated and no such plan has been under consideration.

While McMaster has not disclosed in public whether he supports a ground troop offensive, on Sunday in an interview with Fox News, McMaster gave some insights into his thinking on the broader strategy against the Islamic State.

“We are conducting very effective operations alongside our partners in Syria and in Iraq to defeat ISIS, to destroy ISIS and reestablish control of that territory, control of those populations, protect those populations, allow refugees to come back, begin reconstruction,” he said.

According to Lake, “that’s significant” as Obama never said the goal of the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria was to defeat the Islamic State, let alone to protect the population from the group and begin reconstruction.

Those aims are much closer to the goals of George W. Bush’s surge strategy for Iraq at the end of his second term, under which U.S. conventional forces embedded with the Iraqi army would “clear, hold and build” areas that once belonged to al Qaeda’s franchise.

There is another reason why McMaster is for US ground presence in Syria.

As a young colonel serving in Iraq, he was one of the first military officers to form a successful alliance with local forces, in Tal Afair, to defeat the predecessor to the Islamic State, al Qaeda in Iraq.  During the Iraq War, McMaster became one of the closest advisers to David Petraeus, the four-star general who led the counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq that defeated al Qaeda in Iraq — and brought about a temporary, uneasy peace there. That peace unraveled after Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq at the end of 2011. Obama himself never apologized for that decision, even though he had to send special operations forces back to Iraq in the summer of 2014 after the Islamic State captured Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. He argued that U.S. forces in Iraq would have been caught up inside a civil war had they stayed.

* * *

The cadre of former military advisers to Petraeus took a different view. They argued that America’s abandonment of Iraq gave the Shiite majority there a license to pursue a sectarian agenda that provided a political and military opening for the Islamic State. An active U.S. presence in Iraq would have restrained those sectarian forces. One of those advisers was H.R. McMaster.

What was unsaid in Lake’s piece, is that the real aim of any US ground assault would be to remove the Assad regime and “destabilize” the Middle-Eastern region, something both Rex Tillerson and Sean Spicer hinted at over the past week. That, in itself, would be considered a clear act of war, even if there is no formal declaration by Congress. It would also prompt a ground troop response by not only Assad but also Russia.

As Lake concludes,

“it’s now up to Trump to decide whether to test the Petraeus camp’s theory or try to defeat the Islamic State with a light footprint in Syria. Put another way, Trump must decide whether he wants to wage Bush’s war or continue Obama’s.”

The real conclusion, however, is different: it is now up to Goldman to decide whether to advise Trump to risk starting World War III in Syria by sending some 50,000 “boots on the ground” to start, a number which will only grow in direct proportion with the casualties that emerge as this proxy world war enters its final, most destructive phase.

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While focus regarding the Syrian conflict has shifted almost exclusively to recent US cruise missile strikes, what the strikes are designed to lay the groundwork for holds much larger implications. Particular attention should be focused on US forces operating both within Syrian territory and along Syria’s borders.

Normalizing the use of stand-off weapons like cruise missiles makes it easier and more likely that similar attacks will unfold in the near future – particularly if Syria and its allies fail to demonstrate a significant deterrence against future attacks.

The use of stand-off weapons by the United States and the routine use of airstrikes by US allies including Israel within Syrian territory will likely open the door to wider and more direct military intervention against the Syrian government.

Punitive strikes will shift incrementally to a concerted effort to dismantle Syria’s fighting capacity, inviting either US proxies to overthrow the Syrian government, or for US forces to do so directly – or likely a combination of both.

Preparing for just such an escalation are not only US forces continuously expanding the scale and scope of their presence in eastern Syria and NATO-member Turkey’s forces in northern Syria, but also a US-led proxy army being staged in and operated from, for years now, in Jordan.

Jordan: The Other “Turkey”

It was from Jordan that a rumored column of US armored vehicles recently entered Syrian territory. CNN, in an article titled, “Coalition and Syrian opposition forces repel ISIS attack,” would report that:

Anti-ISIS coalition troops and allied Syrian opposition forces have repelled an attack by the terrorist group on a joint base in southern Syria, according to the coalition. 

The US-led coalition said ISIS initiated a complex attack on Saturday at the At Tanf Garrison on the Syrian-Jordanian border using a vehicle-borne IED, and 20-30 fighters followed with a ground assault and suicide vests.

CNN would also report that:

Some American forces were at the base at the time of the assault, the official said.

Additionally, for years, US policymakers and media platforms have discussed both potential plans for staging an invading force in Jordan, as well as ongoing efforts to stand up a proxy force in Jordan before moving it into Syrian territory.

In 2015, the Guardian in an article titled, “US begins training Syrian rebels in Jordan to become anti-Isis force,” would report:

Jordanian officials told reporters on Thursday that coalition forces have begun training prescreened rebels at a site inside the Middle Eastern kingdom. Training locations are also expected to begin operation in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A 2016 article by the Washington Post titled, “Revamped U.S. training program, with new goals, has trained fewer than 100 Syrians so far,” would report:

U.S. military officials are considering ways to ramp up training of Syrian fighters against the Islamic State as the Pentagon moves cautiously forward with a revamped program to create an effective local ground force.

The series of setbacks hindering the creation of an “opposition army” from scratch, and even setbacks in training and effectively utilizing existing militant and terrorist groups may be why the US has also sought to create its own large and growing military presence in Jordan.

In 2013, the Heritage Foundation would publish an article titled, “Hagel Announces Deployment of U.S. Troops to Jordan in Response to Worsening Syria Crisis,” claiming:

Although initially tasked with playing a support role in assisting Jordan in developing contingency plans for mitigating the destabilizing spillover effects of Syria’s civil war, the troops could “potentially form a joint task force for military operations, if ordered.” The headquarters staff will lay the foundation for a formal U.S. military presence that could grow to 20,000 troops or more, if the Obama Administration activates contingency plans for a major U.S. military intervention.

According to most estimates from across the Western media, approximately 1,000-2,000 US service members are currently stationed in Jordan. Expanding that number to 20,000 or more would surely be noticed by Syrian, Russian, and Iranian intelligence agencies. Likewise, the creation and deployment of a full-scale invasion force created by America’s Persian Gulf allies or NATO-member Turkey would likewise be noticed long before having a chance to storm Syrian territory.

Invasion or Further Balkanization?

Instead of a full-scale invasion, what is more likely is the incremental Balkanization of Syria, with Turkey already holding significant territory in the north, Israel maintaining its long-term occupation of the Golan Heights in the west, US troops occupying Syrian territory in east, alongside Persian Gulf sponsored terrorists holding both the eastern city of Raqqa and the northern city of Idlib.

A US-led incursion into southern Syria could likewise carve off territory even if such an incursion falls short of reaching Damascus or toppling the government presiding there.

With focus elsewhere – particularly along Syria’s border with Turkey and amid operations aimed at taking back both Raqqa and Idlib – Jordan has enjoyed relative obscurity amid geopolitical analysis. However – as the endgame approaches and the US increasingly becomes desperate – Jordan’s role as a staging point and potential vector into Syria for additional US troops and for the carving out of additional Syrian territory should be noted and brought to the public’s attention.

Additionally, it is important for the public to understand that America’s “new policy” toward Syria is simply a redux of years – even decades – of attempts to use both proxy and direct military force against the Syrian state to depose its government and create either a proxy or a failed state to take its place. While many personal and political motivations will be assigned to US President Donald Trump for why “he” is pursuing expanded aggression against Syria, it should be noted that the plans “he” is now executing sat on former President Barack Obama’s desk for years waiting for the right moment to be implemented – only to be complicated by Syrian resilience and Russia’s 2015 intervention.

With this in mind, and with pressure on the Jordanian government, Jordan may rein in US forces operating from its territory, hindering, even if ever so slightly, US ambitions to further compound Syria’s tragic, ongoing conflict.

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

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CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Power and WikiLeaks

April 15th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

“Vested interests deflect from the facts that WikiLeaks publishes by demonizing its brave staff and me.”
Julian Assange, The Washington Post, Apr 11, 2017

The Central Intelligence Agency’s current director, Mike Pompeo, has a view of history much like that of any bureaucrat as understood by the great sociologist Max Weber. The essential, fundamental purpose of bureaucracy is a rationale to manufacture and keep secrets. Transparency and accountability are its enemies. Those who challenge that particular order are, by definition, defilers and dangerous contrarians.

On Thursday, April 13, Pompeo was entertained by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, an opportunity of sorts to sound off on a range of points.[1] Pompeo’s theme is unmistakeable, opening up with a discussion about Philip Agee’s “advocacy” as a founding member of CounterSpy, which called in 1973 for the outing of CIA undercover operatives.

Richard Welch, a CIA station chief working in Athens and identified in a September 1974 issue of CounterSpy, was duly deemed a victim of Agee’s stance.

“When he got out of his car to open the gate in front of his house, Richard Welch was assassinated by a Greek terrorist cell.”

Agee is then the mint and mould for the current WikiLeaks agenda, deemed by Pompeo to be compromised in “the harm they inflict on the US institutions and personnel”. What bothers Pompeo is their zeal, their determination, even romance, those self-touted “heroes above the law, saviours of our free and open society.”

Pompeo’s methods are blunt, and shower generous disdain on the notion that free speech protections should extend to such an organisation as WikiLeaks.

“It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service, often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

This is the language of fear about the fifth columnist, that WikiLeaks is mimicking the CIA, even surpassing it. (Such flattery!) The organisation “encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence.” Gravely, claims the CIA director,

“It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information.”

Image result for pompeo wikileaks

CIA Director Mike Pompeo

Never mind what that information actually revealed.

For the director’s myopic appraisal of the world, only the select should be in a position to steal.

“We steal secrets from our foreign adversaries, hostile entities and terrorist organizations. And we’re damn proud of it.”

These words are hardly going to fluster Assange, though they have provided the main front man of WikiLeaks food for thought about what individuals like Pompeo really think about democratic virtue, given the continuous insistence by US officials that they keep the sacred flame of liberty alive the world over. The very defender of the US Republic is willing to ignore a fundamental feature of that Republic’s existence: the need for public debate about the limits of power.

Assange is aware of this, noting how the “American idea”, or the United States as “idea” throbs within his mind and body.[2] It is precisely that idea that needs conservation, even purification. What Pompeo is really bothered about is how similar the intelligence goal is for an organisation charged with the task of dealing in secrets, be it their theft and exposure, or their protection.

Image result for julian assange

WikiLeaks’ Founder Julian Assange

What matters in such information environments, and notably the one so currently crowded by a noisy battle between digital rabblerousers and orthodox followers of the closed society, is where they fit in holding the powerful accountable. All positions ultimately turn on matters of power and how information is best wielded.

Assange uses his piece in the Washington Post not merely to rubuff the CIA’s position, but to reference the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address:

“Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

The motives, then, are “identical to that claimed by the New York Times and The Post – 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.”[3]

Assange also reminds readers of an old, proposed taxonomy on the issue of how the fourth estate might function in terms of accuracy and content with President Thomas Jefferson’s own proposal. An editor might wish to “divide his paper into 4 chapters, heading the 1st, ‘Truths.’  2nd, ‘Probabilities.’  3rd, ‘Possibilities.’  4th, ‘Lies.’  The first chapter would be very short, as it would contain little more than authentic papers, and information.”

The modus operandi is significant here: the exposure of truths deemed inconvenient, complicating, disrupting.  Reduced to that dimension, Pompeo’s supposedly patriotic bile seems one of simple objection, an age old struggle between those who wish to know, and those who prefer to keep ignorance central to the argument.  The ever tantalizingly relevant point remains: Who is so entitled?

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

Notes 

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On April 11th, the White House released a “declassified four-page report” on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the village of Khan Shaykhun in the Syrian province of Idlib.

The United States accuses the Syrian and Russian governments of providing disinformation and “false narratives” regarding the attack, adding that Washington is sure that the Assad government is responsible for the attack.

However, the report provides only a “summary” of the United States’ version of the situation. According to this version, the US possesses intelligence and evidence of the attack but cannot reveal it because of security classifications.

It is stated in the report that the Syrian government maintains the capability to conduct a chemical weapons attack to prevent “the loss of territory deemed critical to its survival”. Then, the “declassified” report just retells the story provided by hard-core “pro-opposition” media outlets and activists -in other words, supporters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and Ahrar al-Sham (a radical Islamist group that had cooperated with ISIS until 2014). It should be noted that the report added some “fresh” facts to the opposition story – for example, it argues that some “personnel historically associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program” were at the Shayarat military airfield. However, this part lacks evidence.

Additionally, if the guys from the White House really believe that the “Assad regime” suffered some notable setbacks across the country or in northern Hama itself in early April, then they are hardly aware of current situational maps of the area.

By April 4th, pro-government forces had reversed nearly all gains of the “opposition forces” led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in northern Hama, a detail curiously omitted from the report. Since then, the situation has been more or less stable. Furthermore, Khan Shaykhun is far away from the current frontline. However, the report promotes the idea that the Syrian government was pushed to use some “chemical weapons” to save itself.

Then, the report once again refers to videos posted by the “opposition” and reports provided by “human rights organizations.” The document emphasizes that “the opposition could not have fabricated all of the videos and other reporting of chemical attacks” because it is too complicated. We recall that the so-called White Helmets and media activists linked with them are the primary source of the initial reports.

The rest of the paper is dedicated to the blaming and shaming of Syria and Russia for a wide range of issues: from conducting a chemical attack to pushing false narratives about the attack. It’s interesting to note that the document, as well as US diplomats, say nothing about the need of investigation of the incident by the international community. The proper investigation of the incident is especially important amid contradictory claims made by various sides interested in pushing their own agendas regarding the issue.

It is clear that the whole pretext and explanation of the Syrian government’s desperate need to use chemical weapons against some target far away from the frontline, as well as the inability to provide any real confirmation of allegations as to who actually conducted the attack, looks very questionable.

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Da Camp Darby armi Usa per la guerra in Siria e Yemen

April 14th, 2017 by Manlio Dinucci

Si chiama «Liberty Passion» (Passione per la Libertà). È una modernissima, enorme nave statunitense di tipo Ro/Ro (progettata per trasportare veicoli e carichi su ruote): lunga 200 metri, ha 12 ponti con una superficie totale di oltre 50000 m2, sufficienti al trasporto di un carico equivalente a 6500 automobili.

La nave, appartenente alla compagnia statunitense «Liberty Global Logistics», ha fatto il suo primo scalo il 24 marzo nel porto di Livorno. Prende così via ufficialmente un collegamento regolare tra Livorno e i porti di Aqaba in Giordania e Gedda in Arabia Saudita, effettuato mensilmente dalla «Liberty Passion» e dalle sue consorelle «Liberty Pride» (Orgoglio di Libertà) e «Liberty Promise» (Promessa di Libertà). L’apertura di tale servizio è stata celebrata come «una festa per il porto di Livorno».

Nessuno dice, però, perché la compagnia statunitense abbia scelto proprio lo scalo toscano. Lo spiega un comunicato dell’Amministrazione marittima Usa (4 marzo 2017): la «Liberty Passion» e le altre due navi, che effettuano il collegamento Livorno-Aqaba-Gedda, fanno parte del «Programma di sicurezza marittima» che, attraverso una partnership tra pubblico e privato, «fornisce al Dipartimento della difesa una potente, mobile flotta di proprietà privata, con bandiera ed equipaggio statunitensi». Le tre navi hanno ciascuna «la capacità di trasportare centinaia di veicoli da combattimento e da sppoggio, tra cui carrarmati, veicoli per il trasporto truppe, elicotteri ed equipaggiamenti per le unità militari».

È dunque chiaro perché, per il collegamento con i due porti mediorientali, la compagnia statunitense abbia scelto il porto di Livorno. Esso è collegato a Camp Darby, la limitrofa base logistica dello U.S. Army, che rifornisce le forze terrestri e aeree Usa nell’area mediterranea, mediorientale, africana e oltre. E’ l’unico sito dell’esercito Usa in cui il materiale preposizionato (carrarmati, ecc.) è collocato insieme alle munizioni: nei suoi 125 bunker vi è l’intero equipaggiamento di due battaglioni corazzati e due di fanteria meccanizzata. Vi sono stoccate anche enormi quantità di bombe e missili per aerei, insieme ai «kit di montaggio» per costruire rapidamente aeroporti in zone di guerra. Questi e altri materiali bellici possono essere rapidamente inviati in zona di operazione attraverso il porto di Livorno, collegato alla base dal Canale dei Navicelli recentemente allargato, e attraverso l’aeroporto militare di Pisa. Da qui sono partite le bombe usate nelle guerre contro l’Iraq, la Jugoslavia e la Libia.

Nel suo viaggio inaugurale – riportano documentate fonti (AsiaNews e altre) – la «Liberty Passion» ha trasportato 250 veicoli militari da Livorno al porto giordano di Aqaba dove, attraversato il Canale di Suez, è arrivata il 7 aprile. Due giorni prima, a Washington, il presidente Trump riceveva re Abdullah, per la seconda volta da febbraio, ribadendo l’appoggio statunitense alla Giordania di fronte alla minaccia terroristica proveniente dalla Siria. Mentre proprio in Giordania sono stati addestrati per anni – da istruttori statunitensi, britannici e francesi – militanti dell’«Esercito libero siriano» per attacchi terroristici in Siria.

Vari rapporti indicano crescenti movimenti di truppe Usa, dotate di carrarmati e veicoli corazzati, al confine giordano-siriano. L’obiettivo sarebbe quello di impadronirsi, usando anche truppe giordane, della fascia meridionale del territorio siriano, dove operano forze speciali statunitensi e britanniche a sostegno dell’«Esercito libero siriano» che si scontra con l’Isis. Già in febbraio il presidente Trump aveva discusso con re Abdullah «la possibilità di stabilire zone sicure in Siria». In altre parole, la possibilità di balcanizzare la Siria vista l’impossibilità di controllare l’intero suo territorio, in seguito all’intervento russo.

A questa e altre operazioni belliche, tra cui la guerra saudita che fa strage di civili nello Yemen, servono le armi Usa che partono da Livorno. Città dove, su invito del sindaco Nogarin (Movimento 5 Stelle), verrà probabilmente in visita Papa Francesco, che ieri ha di nuovo denunciato «i trafficanti di armi che guadagnano con il sangue degli uomini e delle donne». Mentre a Livorno si festeggia il fatto che il porto toscano sia stato scelto come scalo della «Liberty Global Logistics», con grandi prospettive di sviluppo. Finché c’è guerra, c’è speranza.

 Manlio Dinucci

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Article first published on Global Research on March 13, 2017

“And you know, we have this mad guy [Kim Jong-un], I guess he’s mad, either he’s mad or he’s a genius, one or the other, but he’s actually more unstable, even than his father, …” (Donald Trump, August 2016 during election campaign)

What was indelible about it [the Korean War of 1950-53] was the extraordinary destructiveness of the United States’ air campaigns against North Korea, from the widespread and continuous use of firebombing (mainly with napalm), to threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons, and the destruction of huge North Korean dams in the final stages of the war. …. (Bruce Cumings)

Trump believes that Kim Jong-un is crazy. Take him out.

The U.S. media concurs: the DPRK is a threat to US national security requiring a preemptive first strike THAAD missile attack in the name of “self defense”.

Who’s crazy? Kim or Trump? Never mind if it unleashes war with China and Russia.

Screenshot CNN

According to the Heritage Foundation:

“The rogue regime in North Korea poses one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. national security interests. Pyongyang presents a multifaceted military threat to peace and stability in Asia as well as a global proliferation risk.

Pyongyang responds by saying that the US (including 29,000 troops stationed in South Korea) constitutes a threat to the DPRK’s  national security, and they must defend themselves.

America, a threat to their national security?

They have no right to self defense.

The North Koreans are absolutely nuts.

Or are they?

General Curtis LeMay who coordinated the bombing raids against North Korea during the Korean War (1950-53) acknowledged that:

We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, someway or another, and some in South Korea too.… Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — twenty percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war, or from starvation and exposure?  Strategic Air Warfare: An Interview with Generals (1988)

But it was all for a good cause, killing to preserve democracy.

The territories North of the thirty-eighth parallel were subjected to extensive carpet bombing and fire-bombing using napalm, which resulted in the destruction of seventy-eight cities and thousands of villages. As a result, almost every substantial building in North Korea was destroyed.

According to U.S. Major General William F. Dean:

“most of the North Korean cities and villages he saw were either rubble or snow-covered wastelands”.

According to award winning author and Vietnam war veteran Brian Willson:

“It is now believed that the population north of the imposed thirty-eighth Parallel lost nearly a third its population of eight to nine million people during the thirty-seven-month-long “hot” war, 1950-53, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerence of another.”

Forget about crazy rogue leaders.

Put yourself in the shoes of North Koreans, they’re fellow human beings.

Every single family in North Korea has lost a loved one during the Korean war. Ask them: who is the threat to “Their National Security”. And its not over.  The DPRK has been threatened with a US nuclear attack for more than sixty years.

Imagine what would happen if a foreign power had attacked America, all major cities had been destroyed and 20 percent of the US population killed. How would you feel?

That’s what happened to North Korea.

Spread American democracy. Kill the Communists.

Who’s the threat to Global Security, North Korea or the United States?

Trump is just as crazy as Kim Jong-un.

Moreover he doesn’t have an understanding of 20th Century history, nor is he able to comprehend the unspoken consequences of a first strike US led nuclear attack.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads. The architects of US foreign policy are insane.

In the words of Stephen Lendman, Trump wants to ignite Korean War 2.0, which inevitably would lead to military escalation beyond the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang in rubble (1953)

This is not The Trump Tower in New York, it’s Pyongyang. Is this what Trump wants to destroy? Again?

Pyongyang rebuilt today


A chapter entitled

The Threat of Nuclear War, North Korea or the United States?

is contained in Michel Chossudovsky’s book entitled The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity

“While the Western media portrays North Korea’s nuclear weapons program as a threat to Global Security, it fails to acknowledge that the U.S. has being threatening North Korea with a nuclear attack for more than half a century.

Unknown to the broader public, the U.S. had envisaged the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea at the very outset of the Korean War in 1950. In the immediate wake of the war, the U.S. deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea for use on a pre-emptive basis against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in violation of the July 1953 Armistice Agreement.”

To order the Michel Chossudovsky’s book directly from Global Research click image.

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

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

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

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

REVIEWS:

“Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the most realistic of all foreign policy commentators. He is a model of integrity in analysis, his book provides an honest appraisal of the extreme danger that U.S. hegemonic neoconservatism poses to life on earth.”

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury

““The Globalization of War” comprises war on two fronts: those countries that can either be “bought” or destabilized. In other cases, insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit U.S. military intervention. Michel Chossudovsky’s book is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair.”

Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence

“Michel Chossudovsky describes globalization as a hegemonic weapon that empowers the financial elites and enslaves 99 percent of the world’s population.

“The Globalization of War” is diplomatic dynamite – and the fuse is burning rapidly.”

Michael Carmichael, President, the Planetary Movement

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Article first published on Global Research on March 13, 2017

“And you know, we have this mad guy [Kim Jong-un], I guess he’s mad, either he’s mad or he’s a genius, one or the other, but he’s actually more unstable, even than his father, …” (Donald Trump, August 2016 during election campaign)

What was indelible about it [the Korean War of 1950-53] was the extraordinary destructiveness of the United States’ air campaigns against North Korea, from the widespread and continuous use of firebombing (mainly with napalm), to threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons, and the destruction of huge North Korean dams in the final stages of the war. …. (Bruce Cumings)

Trump believes that Kim Jong-un is crazy. Take him out.

The U.S. media concurs: the DPRK is a threat to US national security requiring a preemptive first strike THAAD missile attack in the name of “self defense”.

Who’s crazy? Kim or Trump? Never mind if it unleashes war with China and Russia.

Screenshot CNN

According to the Heritage Foundation:

“The rogue regime in North Korea poses one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. national security interests. Pyongyang presents a multifaceted military threat to peace and stability in Asia as well as a global proliferation risk.

Pyongyang responds by saying that the US (including 29,000 troops stationed in South Korea) constitutes a threat to the DPRK’s  national security, and they must defend themselves.

America, a threat to their national security?

They have no right to self defense.

The North Koreans are absolutely nuts.

Or are they?

General Curtis LeMay who coordinated the bombing raids against North Korea during the Korean War (1950-53) acknowledged that:

We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, someway or another, and some in South Korea too.… Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — twenty percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war, or from starvation and exposure?  Strategic Air Warfare: An Interview with Generals (1988)

But it was all for a good cause, killing to preserve democracy.

The territories North of the thirty-eighth parallel were subjected to extensive carpet bombing and fire-bombing using napalm, which resulted in the destruction of seventy-eight cities and thousands of villages. As a result, almost every substantial building in North Korea was destroyed.

According to U.S. Major General William F. Dean:

“most of the North Korean cities and villages he saw were either rubble or snow-covered wastelands”.

According to award winning author and Vietnam war veteran Brian Willson:

“It is now believed that the population north of the imposed thirty-eighth Parallel lost nearly a third its population of eight to nine million people during the thirty-seven-month-long “hot” war, 1950-53, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerence of another.”

Forget about crazy rogue leaders.

Put yourself in the shoes of North Koreans, they’re fellow human beings.

Every single family in North Korea has lost a loved one during the Korean war. Ask them: who is the threat to “Their National Security”. And its not over.  The DPRK has been threatened with a US nuclear attack for more than sixty years.

Imagine what would happen if a foreign power had attacked America, all major cities had been destroyed and 20 percent of the US population killed. How would you feel?

That’s what happened to North Korea.

Spread American democracy. Kill the Communists.

Who’s the threat to Global Security, North Korea or the United States?

Trump is just as crazy as Kim Jong-un.

Moreover he doesn’t have an understanding of 20th Century history, nor is he able to comprehend the unspoken consequences of a first strike US led nuclear attack.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads. The architects of US foreign policy are insane.

In the words of Stephen Lendman, Trump wants to ignite Korean War 2.0, which inevitably would lead to military escalation beyond the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang in rubble (1953)

This is not The Trump Tower in New York, it’s Pyongyang. Is this what Trump wants to destroy? Again?

Pyongyang rebuilt today


A chapter entitled

The Threat of Nuclear War, North Korea or the United States?

is contained in Michel Chossudovsky’s book entitled The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity

“While the Western media portrays North Korea’s nuclear weapons program as a threat to Global Security, it fails to acknowledge that the U.S. has being threatening North Korea with a nuclear attack for more than half a century.

Unknown to the broader public, the U.S. had envisaged the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea at the very outset of the Korean War in 1950. In the immediate wake of the war, the U.S. deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea for use on a pre-emptive basis against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in violation of the July 1953 Armistice Agreement.”

To order the Michel Chossudovsky’s book directly from Global Research click image.

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

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

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

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

REVIEWS:

“Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the most realistic of all foreign policy commentators. He is a model of integrity in analysis, his book provides an honest appraisal of the extreme danger that U.S. hegemonic neoconservatism poses to life on earth.”

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury

““The Globalization of War” comprises war on two fronts: those countries that can either be “bought” or destabilized. In other cases, insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit U.S. military intervention. Michel Chossudovsky’s book is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair.”

Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence

“Michel Chossudovsky describes globalization as a hegemonic weapon that empowers the financial elites and enslaves 99 percent of the world’s population.

“The Globalization of War” is diplomatic dynamite – and the fuse is burning rapidly.”

Michael Carmichael, President, the Planetary Movement

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North Korea: If We are Attacked, “We Will Not Keep our Arms Crossed … We are Fully Prepared”

By , April 14 2017

Misunderstanding prevails regarding the threat of a US preemptive strike against North Korea. The intentions of the Pentagon are unclear. Moreover, Washington does not have the endorsement of its regional allies including South Korea and Japan. In the wake of ROK President Park’s impeachment, strong opposition has been building up within South Korea against US military presence in the region. Meanwhile Beijing has warned Washington. China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, intimated that:  “one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment”.

The Money-Quote From the Postol Report on the Recent Gas Attack in Syria

By , April 14 2017

The U.S. ‘news’media hid from the public Dr. Postol’s disproof of the Obama regime’s still-continuing assertions that the 21 August 2013 sarin attack was from Syria’s government instead of from the ‘moderate rebels’ (jihadists) whom the U.S. supported. Will they hide from the U.S. public his disproof of the U.S. regime’s latest such scam backing the actual perpetrators of a war-crime — will they do now as they did then?

China and Russia Veto UN Security Council Resolution on Syria – No Carte Blanche for Chapter VII

By , April 14 2017

Permanent UN Security Council member Russia, on Wednesday, used its veto right to block the adoption of a resolution on Syria that would have condemned the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria and called on the Syrian government to cooperate with an investigation into the incident.

The “Terrorism of Money” and the Global War On Cash: Target India

By , April 14 2017

Geopolitics is a field alien to financial economics. Thus when economists need to step outside the frame of finance theory to consider larger implications they are confronted with the messier world of geopolitics; the world that operates on a totally different set of rules than financial economics. In this report we explore these geopolitical forces and provide an insight into the chain of events that led us to this juncture.

Electronic Weapons, Radio Frequency Radiation, Remote Manipulation of the Human Nervous System

By , April 13 2017

OPEN LETTER TO THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We are missing a legislation which would ban the purposeful remote manipulation of the human nervous system and organism including remote killing of people.

 

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Now Only Rational Thinking Can Save the World!

April 14th, 2017 by Andre Vltchek

Scenario ONE: Imagine that you are on board a ship, which is slowly sinking. There is no land in sight, and your radio transmitter is not functioning properly. There are several people on board and you care for them, deeply. You don’t want this to be the end of ‘everything’.

What do you do?

A) You fix for yourself a nice portion of fried rice with prawns

B) You turn on the TV set, which is still somehow miraculously working, and watch the news about the future Scottish referendum or on BREXIT

C) You jump into the water immediately, try to identify the damage, and then attempt to do something unthinkable with your simple tools and capabilities: to save the ship

Imagine another scenario:

SCENARIO TWO: By mistake, your wife eats two full tubes of sleeping pills, supposedly confusing them with anew line of candies. As you find her on the floor, she appears to be unconscious and her face looks rather bluish.

What would your course of action be?

A) After you realize that her high heels do not match the color of her pantyhose, you run to the closet in search of a much better pair of shoes to achieve the balance

B) You carry her without delay to the bathroom, pump out her stomach, and try to resuscitate her while calling the ambulance using the speakerphone function

C) You recall how you first met, get nostalgic, and rush to your living room library in order to find a book of love sonnets by Pablo Neruda, which you then recite to her kneeling on the carpet

Now brace yourself for a great surprise. Unless you choose C) for scenario one, and B) for scenario two, you can actually consider yourself absolutely “normal” by most North American and European standards.

However, if you opt for C) or B) respectively, you could easily pass off for an extremist, a radical and ideological left-wing fanatic.

*

The West has brought the world to the brink of total collapse, but its citizens, even its intellectuals, are stubbornly refusing to grasp the urgency. Like ostriches, many are hiding their heads in the sand. Others are behaving like a surgeon who opts for treating a small cut on a finger of his patient who is actually dying from a terrible gunshot wound.

There seems to be an acute lack of rational thinking, and especially of people’s ability to grasp the proportions of global occurrences and events. For years I have been arguing that destroying the ability to compare and to see things from the universal perspective has been one of the most successful endeavors of the Western indoctrination drive (dispersed through education, media/disinformation and ‘culture’). It has effectively influenced and pacified both, the people in the West itself, and those living in its present and former colonies (particularly the local ‘elites’and their offspring).

There seems to be no capacity to compare and consistently analyze, for instance, those certainly unsavory but mainly defensive actions taken by the revolutionary governments and countries, with the most horrid and appalling crimes committed by the colonialist regimes of the West all over Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa,which took place in approximately the same historical era.

It is not only history that is seen in the West through totally crooked and ‘out of focus’ lenses, it is also the present, which has been perceived and ‘analyzed’ in an out of context way and without applying hardly any rational comparisons. Rebellious and independent-minded countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East (most of them have been actually forced to defend themselves against the extremely brutal attacks and subversion campaigns administered by the West) have been slammed, even in the so-called ‘progressive’ circles of the West, with much tougher standards than those that are being applied towards both Europe and North America, two parts of the world that have been continuously spreading terror, destruction and unimaginable suffering among the people inhabiting all corners of the globe.

Most crimes committed by the left-wing revolutions were in direct response to invasions, subversions, provocations and other attacks coming from the West. Almost all the most terrible crimes committed by the West were committed abroad, and were directed against enslaved, exploited, thoroughly plunderedand defenseless people in almost all parts of the world.

Now, according to many, the endgame is approaching. Rising oceans are swallowing entire countries, as I witnessed in several parts of Oceania. It is a horrid, indescribable sight!

People in numerous countries governed by pro-Western regimes are shedding millions of their inhabitants, while some nations are basically ceasing to exist, like Papua or Kashmir, to give just two obvious examples.

The environment is thoroughly ruined where the ‘lungs’ of the world used to work hard, just a few decades ago, making our planet healthy.

Tens of millions of people are now on the move, their countries thoroughly ruined by Western geopolitical games. Instead of influencing and helping to guide humanity, such great cultures as those of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are now forced to disgorge millions of desperate refugees. They are barely surviving, humiliated and hardly relevant.

Extremist religious groups (of all faiths, and definitely not only belonging to the Muslim religion) are being groomed by the Western Machiavellian ideologues and strategists, then dispersed to all corners of the globe: South Asia, the Middle East, China, Latin America, Africa, and even Oceania.

It is a total disgrace what imperialism has managed to reduce our humanity to.

Most of the world is actually trying to function ‘normally’, ‘democratically’, following its natural instincts, which are based on simple humanism. But it is being constantly derailed, attacked and tormented by the brutal monstrous and merciless hydra – the Western expansionism and its ‘culture’ or nihilism, greed, cynicism and slavery.

It is so obvious where we are going as a human race.

We want to fly, we want freedom and optimism and beauty to govern our lives. We want to dream and to create something deep, meaningful, happy and kind. But there are those horrible weights hanging from our feet. There are chains restraining our actions. There is constant fear, which is making us betray all our ideals, as well as each other, again and again; fear that makes us, humans,act like shameless cowards and egoists. As a result we are not flying, we are only crawling, and not even forward, but in bizarre, irrational ellipses and circles.

Still, I do not believe that the endgame is inevitable!

*

For many years I have been sending warnings, I have been writing and showing and presenting thousands of terrible images of destruction, of the irreversible collapse, of barbarity.

I have generally kept nothing to myself. I have recycled my work, my films and books, into new journeys into the darkest abysses of our world. I have received hardly any support from the outside world. But I couldn’t stop: what I have been witnessing, the danger to the planet and total devastation, have forced me to never give up the struggle. If necessary and most of the time, I have done it alone. I spent too much time in Latin America; I could not give up. I learned too much from Cuba and so many other wonderful places; I felt I had no right to surrender.

Whenever the horrors from which our planet is suffering would overwhelm me, I’d ‘collapse’, as I did last year. Then I’d bury myself somewhere for a short period of time, collect myself together, get up and continue with my work and my struggle. I have never ceased to trust people. Some would come full of initial enthusiasm, offering much, then betray me, and leave. Still, I have never lost faith in human beings. This year, instead of slowing down, I ‘adopted’ one more place,which is in agony – Afghanistan.

My only request, my only demand has been, that the world listens, that it sees, that it tries to comprehend, before it is too late. This request of mine has proven to be, I realize now, too ‘demanding’, and too ‘radical’.

Sometimes I ask: have I achieved much? Have I opened many eyes? Have I managed to build many bridges between the different struggling parts of the world? As an internationalist I have to question my own actions, my effectiveness.

I have to admit, honestly: I don’t know the answers to my own questions. But I keep working and struggling.

*

The world looks different if observed and analyzed from a pub in Europe or North America, or if you are actually standing on one of those atolls in the middle of the South Pacific (Oceania) that are under the constant assault of tidal waves, dotted with dead stumps of palm trees pointing accusatively towards the sky. These islets are at the forefront of the battle for the survival of our planet, and they are obviously losing.

Everything also appears to be much more urgent but also ‘real’, when observed from the black and desolate plains of the hopelessly logged out Indonesian islands of Borneo/Kalimantan and Sumatra.

I used to recount in my essays, just for my readers to know, what the villages somewhere like Gomain the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), look and feel like, after the murderous assaults by the pro-Rwandese, and therefore pro-Western, militias. It was important for me to explain how things are ‘right in the middle of it’, on the ground. I used to write about mass rapes and mutilations, about the burning flesh, terrible torture… I stopped some time ago. You at least once witness all this or you simply didn’t. If you did then you know what it all looks like, what it feels like and smells like… or you could never imagine it, no matter how many books and reports you read, no matter how many images you consume.

I have been trying to speak about all this to the people in the West, at conferences, universities, or even through my films and books. They do listen, mostly respectfully. They do show politely how outraged and ‘horrified’ they are (it is ‘expected’ of them). Some say: ‘I want to do something’. Most of them do absolutely nothing, but even if they decide to take action, it is usually for themselves,just to feel good, to feel better, to convince their own conscience that they have actually ‘done at least something for the humanity’.

I used to blame them. I don’t, anymore. This is how the world is arranged. However, I have sharply reduced my work-visits to both North America and Europe. I don’t feel that I click with the people in those places. We don’t think the same way, we don’t feel the same, and even our logic and rationale are diametrically different.

My recent three-week stay in Europe clearly revealed to me, how little there is in common between the West’s state of mind and the reality in which the great majority of the world has been living.

*

In the past, before the Western empires and the sole“Empire” took most of determination and enthusiasm away from the people, the most talented of human beings used to make no distinction between their personal lives, their creativity and their relentless work and duty towards humanity.

In several places including Cuba, it is how many people still live.

In the West, everyone and everything is now fragmented and life itself became objectively meaningless: there is distinct time to work (satisfying one’s personal career, guaranteeing survival, advancing ‘prestige’ and ego), there is time to play, and for family life… and there is occasionally time to think about humanity or, very rarely, about the survival of our planet.

Needless to say, this selfish approach has failed in helping to advance the world. It has also squarely failed when it comes to stopping at least some of the monstrosities committed by Western imperialism.

When I go to the opera house or some great classical music concert, it is in order to get some deep inspiration, to get fired up about my work, to recycle the beauty that I’m expressing in my novels and films, theatre plays and even political reports. I never go to get simply ‘entertained’. It is never for my own needs only.

It is also essential for me to work closely with the people that I love, including my own mother who is already 82 years old.

It is because I know there is absolutely no time to waste. And also because everything is and should be intertwined in life: love, work, duty, and the struggle for the survival and progress of our world.

*

I may be labeled as a fanatic, but I am decisively choosing those C) and B) options from the ‘dilemmas’ I depicted above.

I am choosing rationality, now that the US ‘armada’ packed with the nuclear weapons is sailing towards both China and North Korea, now that the Tomahawk missiles have rained down on Syria, now that the West will be sending thousands more mercenaries to one of the most devastated countries on Earth – Afghanistan.

Survival and then the advancement of the world should be our greatest goal. I believe it and I stand by it. In time of absolute crises, which we are experiencing right now, it is irresponsible, almost grotesque, to simply ‘continue to live our daily lives’.

Imperialism has to be stopped, once and for all, by all means. At the moment when the survival of humanity is at stake, the end justifies all means. Or as the motto of Chile goes: “By Reason Or By Force”.

Of course, if those ‘who know’ do not act, if they are cowardly and opportunistically do nothing, from a universal perspective, nothing much will happen: one small planet in one of the so many galaxies will simply cease to exist.Most likely there are many inhabited planets in the universe, many civilizations.

However, I happen to love this world and this particular Planet. I know it well, from the Southernmost tip all the way to the north. I know its deserts and valleys, mountains and oceans, its marvelous and touching creatures, its great cities as well as god-forsaken villages. I know its people. They have many faults; and much that could be condemned in them, and much that should be improved. But I still believe that there is more that could be admired in them than denounced.

Now it is time to think, rationally and quickly, and then to act. No small patches will do, no ‘feel good’ actions. Only a total reset, overhaul. Call it the Revolution if you will, or simply C) and B). No matter how you define it, it would have to come rapidly, very rapidly, or there soon will be nothing to love, to defend, and to work for, anymore.

*

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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Misunderstanding prevails regarding the threat of a US preemptive strike against North Korea. The intentions of the Pentagon are unclear. Moreover, Washington does not have the firm endorsement of its regional allies including South Korea and Japan. In the wake of ROK President Park’s impeachment, grassroots opposition has been building up within South Korea against US military presence in the region. 

Dangerous crossroads: The DPRK has intimated in no uncertain terms that it will forcefully retaliate if is attacked by the US. 

Meanwhile Beijing has warned Washington. China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, intimated that:  “one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment”.

“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not to let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,”

“We urge all parties to refrain from inflammatory or threatening statements and deeds to prevent the situation on the Korean Peninsula from becoming irreversible,” Wang said when meeting with the press following talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. (Xinhua, April 14, 2017)

There is no intent on the part of China, following the Donald Trump Xi Jinping encounter at the Mar-a-Lago Florida resort last week to support or in any way endorse a US preemptive attack against the DPRK.  In fact quite the opposite.

It should be noted that the deployment of the THAAD missiles in South Korea although officially envisaged for the DPRK is targeted at China.

And there is no indication that China would in any way compromise its military alliance with Russia under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In this regard, China is also firmly aligned with Russia (e.g at the UN Security Council) in relation to the evolving crisis in Syria.

Moreover, Russia has a border with North Korea and Vladivostok is a strategic military hub hosting Russia’s Pacific Fleet.

According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

“President Trump indicated to President Xi that . . . we would be happy to work with them, but we understand it creates unique problems for them and challenges and that we would, and are, prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to co-ordinate with us,” (Financial Times, April 7, 2017

Visibly, Beijing does not want to work with Washington.

Washington’s actions and intentions can be summarized as follows:

1. The USS Carl Vinson nuclear aircraft carrier group (image above) is moving towards the Korean coastline. Japan’s naval participation in this operation is unconfirmed.

2.  “the US Navy has deployed two destroyers with Tomahawk cruise missiles some 500 kilometres from the North Korean nuclear test site”.

3. Of significance, on April 13, the US dropped a MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) in Afghanistan allegedly against the ISIS.  The MOAB has been described as “a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea”. 

What’s the purpose of dropping it in a remote area of Afghanistan as part of an alleged “counter-terrorism” operation against ISIS? Is this MOAB bomb test in Afghanistan a “dress rehearsal”, prior to its actual military use (e.g. against North Korea) ? The explosion of a conventional monster MOAB bomb would result in a nuclear mushroom cloud similar to that of a tactical nuclear weapon.

4. The official annoucements by the Pentagon remain notoriously ambiguous. There is no confirmation of a preemptive attack against North Korea, despite NBC TV’s report that the US was ready to wage a strike against North Korea’s military facilities in response to Pyongyang nuclear tests scheduled for the weekend of April 15-16.

“International security analysts have cast doubt on reports that the United States may be considering a preemptive military strike against North Korea, warning such action could have huge consequences on a key U.S. ally and upset a carefully managed balance of power between Kim Jong Un and the West. (Nick Visser, Huffington Post, April 14, 2017)

Response of the DPRK

The DPRK has confirmed that if attacked, there would be a counter-attack largely targeting US military facilities in East Asia including Guam and Okinawa.

In the words of Vice Minister Han Song Ryol:  “We’ve got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a US preemptive strike,…  Whatever comes from the US, we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it.” (quoted by AP)

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Keystone XL Pipeline is a long-controversial proposed Canadian pipeline project through the U.S. north to south, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, to trans-ship the world’s most global-warming filthiest oil, from Canada’s tar-sands, to be burnt and used in Europe.

On March 24th, U.S. President Trump informed the to-be-owner of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, that he gives them the go-ahead to build it, after U.S. President Barack Obama had, near the end of his Presidency, prohibited it. Obama had wanted it built (and had pressured the EU to accept the oil that would be shipped to them from the proposed Pipeline’s southern terminus in Galveston, to sell this Canadian oil in Europe), but the EU said no; they wouldn’t relax their anti-global-warming standards to accept the world’s dirtiest oil, and this refusal by them eased Obama’s decision to give Ms. Clinton’s campaign the boost it needed by his simply nixing the project altogether. He nixed it in order to show Democratic voters that the Democratic Party cares about the environment, so as not to depress the electoral turnout for Hillary Clinton (who was actually a big supporter of fossil-fuels) on Election Day November 8th. But not only did the EU say no; the voters said no, to Clinton, too. So, this was a double disappointment to Obama; he had turned the Pipeline down for nothing — nothing that he had wanted, anyway, because global warming never seriously mattered to him (and therefore what he was doing about it in secret was supportive of the gas-and-oil industries).

Clinton had done all she could to rig the Environmental Impact Statements to favor construction of Keystone: The State Department needed to go through three draft versions before even one of them — the final one, which was released by her successor, Secretary of State Kerry — included any estimate at all of the impact that the Pipeline would have on global warming. Until the third (the Clinton-Kerry) version, all that it estimated was the impact that global warming would have on the Pipeline (and other such trivia — and loads of such distractions, so that the press didn’t even recognize that the «State Dept. Keystone XL Study Ignores Climate Impact», as I headlined my original report on the first of the three): the Clinton State Department reported that the pipeline would have no such global-warming impacts at all, but only good impacts (such as trivial increases in employment). They were puff-pieces for the Pipeline. No climatologist was on any of the three teams that prepared the three drafts.

This had not been an oversight; it was intentional, so as to make politically palatable for Obama to approve the project (which he wanted to do), and for him to be able to do it far enough in advance of the 2016 Presidential campaign so as not to impede the election of a Democratic President following him. But the EPA balked at both of the first two drafts, and these delays caused Obama’s decision to come too close to the 2016 elections, for his comfort; so, it was, for him, a politically forced «No».

What, then, will be the likely impact, upon the climate, if the Pipeline is ultimately built and operated? Though the two all-Clinton Environmental Impact Statements said nothing whatsoever about the global-warming impact, the Clinton-Kerry one did; and — because, like the first two, it was prepared by oil-industry contractors (instead of by the U.S. State Department or any other federal workers), who had bigger and private fish to fry (oil-industry contracts) than to worry about the global climate — they vastly underestimated its Green House Gas emission (GHGe) impact.

Even as of the present time, no thorough climatological impact assessment has yet been performed of the proposed Pipeline; but, on 10 August 2014, a serious but very limited (called therefore «a simple model to understand the implications of the pipeline for greenhouse gas emissions») was finally published, by two Seattle climatologists, at the Stockholm Environment Institute, in NATURE: Climate Science, and it made note of the fact that not even the final one of the State Department’s three Environmental Impact Statement versions had so much as even just considered (much less calculated) the likely impact that the usage of such a pipeline would have on the petroleum market (which, after all, was the reason why it was being proposed to be built), and on the global prices for petroleum as a fuel competing against other fuels. These two climatologists stated:

Here, we apply a simple model to understand the implications of the pipeline for greenhouse gas emissions as a function of any resulting increase in oil sands production. … Our analysis suggests incremental GHGemissions of 100110Mt CO2e, or four times the upper State Department estimate. The sole reason for this difference is that we account for the changes in global oil consumption resulting from increasing oil sands production levels, whereas the State Department does not. … Our simple model shows that, to the extent that Keystone XL leads to greater oil sands production, the pipeline’s effect on oil prices could substantially increase its total GHG impact.

After the extensive ‘news’ coverage that had been done of the Keystone XL issue, there was, finally, an at least elementary scientific analysis of the proposed Pipeline’s impact upon global warming, but there was little press coverage of this, and none of those few news-reports linked to the scientific article itself (as I just did here), and one of those ‘news’ reports even misstated that, «The study also says the pipeline could reduce oil prices to $3 a barrel,» which it did not say: it said that XL might reduce the price by up to $3 a barrel — there’s, of course, a big difference. (And, furthermore, the Keystone XL Pipeline would increase the price of gasoline in the center of the United States; the price-decreases would be for the export-markets.) What’s critically important, however, is that all of that price-lowering would be price-lowering on the most CO2-intensive of all oils, tar-sands oils, which require around an extra $12/barrel to process because of the extra expenses to remove the sand from it. That’s where the extra CO2-emissions would be coming from, that extra processing: the replacement of relatively clean oil, by relatively dirty oil. This is something that almost all of the ‘news’ reports on Keystone XL have ignored entirely — but it is also the reason why the Koch brothers and other major owners of the tar-sands are desperate to get their product to market as inexpensively as possible. And the Keystone XL Pipeline would be by far the cheapest way to do that. The petro-gas billionaires don’t care about whether our grandchildren will be living on a dying, scorching, planet; they want their extra billions of dollars while they’re alive to enjoy it. And our Presidents are serving today’s billionaires; certainly not serving future generations of us.

Here are some of my other, prior, articles on Keystone XL:

«Keystone XL Pipeline Would Double the Kochs’ Net Worth, Says New Report»

«Hillary Clinton’s Bought-And-Paid-For Favors for Keystone XL Deal»

«John Kerry vs. Hillary Clinton on the Keystone XL Report»

«Keystone XL Pipeline Corruption With State Department Should Not Be Legal»

«Obama Is Desperately Trying To Find A Way To Approve The Keystone Pipeline»

«The Kochs Have Bet Big That The Earth Is Doomed»

«TransCanada’s $15 Billion Lawsuit Against U.S. on Keystone XL Presents Strong Case»

«Elizabeth Warren Comes Down Hard Against Keystone XL Pipeline While Hillary Clinton’s Allies Push It Ahead»

The Keystone XL story is a perfect example to confirm, thus far, what Jimmy Carter said of U.S. federal politics, Washington DC:

Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members.

And anyone who thinks that Trump is any different from Obama, other than being far less intelligent and not nearly as slick, should see this from Political Wire, reporting that Trump doesn’t even care what health care bill he passes, but only that he signs one into law. Whatever the corrupt Congress can pass, he will sign. If that doesn’t display total psychopathy, then the term «psychopath» has no meaning. The whole thing is a con; that’s all the top level of the U.S. federal government now is.

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

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