Melting the Ice in the Human Heart

March 2nd, 2018 by Robert C. Koehler

How close, how intimate, have you ever gotten with Greenland?

new documentary called Stella Polaris, directed by Yatri Niehaus — part of Chicago’s tenth annual Peace on Earth Film Festival — takes you on a meditative journey to this lonely, extraordinary island, to its melting ice, its rampaging waters and crumbling glaciers, where climate change is a part of daily life, and where the native people have wisdom and heart to offer the rest of us.

It begins with a slow meditation on the beauty of the ice. Then, six minutes in, a wall of ice suddenly crashes into the ocean.

“The Old People of Greenland have told us, since the sixties, this time it’s too late to stop it,” a native man says. “. . . Your religion, your money and your politics cannot stop the melting of the Big Ice.”

But the story is told matter-of-factly, mostly without rancor or blame. Indeed, it’s not really a story in the ordinary sense. It’s a slow walk across the ice: a swirl of light and sky, ice and ocean, in loving close-up and stunning overview.

Punctuating the photography are the words of an array of Greenland natives, who talk about life here at the far end of Planet Earth — life that’s “ordinary” and Western in some ways, but that reverberates with memories of the old ways and the Old People.

“From clothes to food, we had everything we could ever ask to have,” a man named Angaangaq says at one point. “Then the government came and declared that the village of Qaggat, my grandmother’s village, is very poor. There was no money in the village. It didn’t have a store. So the government closed the village and moved my grandmother to Maniitsoq.”

As he talks, the camera pans over a sterile, soulless, “modern” building, presumably in the new, money-infused town the Danish government had established.

“My grandmother died in 1969,” he continues. “We all say now she died of a broken spirit. She was moved from the village she grew up in, where she was the matriarch of an entire society — honored, recognized, respected, acknowledged, loved — to a senior home where she was nobody.”

And then the camera pans to the melting ice.

“Only by melting ice in the heart of Man does Man have a chance to change and begin using his knowledge wisely.”

And slowly a truth emerges, that peace on Earth, whatever that is, involves listening to the Old People: the indigenous people, the victims of cultural, spiritual and physical genocide these last 500 years. They had a connection to the planet that their conquerors dismissed as primitive and irrelevant. Stella Polaris makes this point not with venom but with melting ice, which in close-up cuts through one’s consciousness like tears.

This movie is merely one of 34 international films, from 11 different countries, that are part of this year’s Peace on Earth Film Festival, which will be held March 9-11 at Chicago’s Davis Theater. Besides the films, the festival also includes Q&A sessions with some of the directors, plus both filmmakers’ and peacemakers’ panel discussions.

The mission of the festival, which I have been lucky enough to be a part of since its inception, in 2008, is “to raise awareness of peace, nonviolence, social justice and an eco-balanced world.”

It “aims to contribute to a culture of peace through international cinema, dialogue and programming highlighting individuals on the vanguard of peace activism and social change. POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families, and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness, into the light of communication, consideration, tolerance and understanding.”

Step out of the ignorance of conflict . . .

This is an idea that bears close attention. Is it possible? What does it mean? At one point in Stella Polaris, a woman named Laali, a Greenland native who became a social worker and lived for a dozen years in Northern Canada, said:

“I was working with the First Nation, the Inuit and the Metis women, who were abused or homeless. . . .The native people really use their culture, their teachings to lift up the spirits of the women, the teenagers, the children who are in need. They use their elders. They sit in circles with them. . . .”

The film doesn’t explore this further, but the point here is profound: It is the essence of stepping out of the ignorance of conflict. The peace circle/Restorative Justice movement has entered the so-called civilized world from Northern Canada and other parts of the world where indigenous culture has not been totally uprooted.

Sitting in a circle with others — creating a safe place where everyone is respected, everyone is welcome, everyone can speak — builds connection and creates the possibility of healing. As Rupert Ross writes:

“Healing is by turns subtle and dramatic, but underlying the entire process is this movement toward reconnection. . . .

“As the First Principle in The Sacred Tree is phrased: ‘It is . . . possible to understand something only if we can understand how it is connected to everything else.’”

And I return to the ice, the ocean and the sky. Stella Polaris is not so much a movie to understand as a movie to surrender to. We can’t undo what we’ve done to the planet, but perhaps we can ask its forgiveness.

*

Mocking Ceasefire and Humanitarian Pause in Syria

March 2nd, 2018 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Excluded from Security Council Resolution 2401 are military operations against ISIS, al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and elements connected to them.

US-led terror-bombing continues, massacring defenseless civilians on the phony pretext of combating ISIS Washington created and supports.

Begun on January 20, Turkish Operation Olive Branch aggression against Kurdish YPG fighters in and around Afrin continues. Hundreds of civilians have been killed or wounded.

Damascus condemned its operations as “aggression” and “occupation,” flagrantly violating international law, including SC Res. 2401.

US-supported terrorists in Eastern Ghouta continue preventing civilians from leaving the enclave through Russian-established humanitarian corridors – “due to mortar shelling by militants,” Russian General Vladimir Zolotukhin explained, spokesman for its reconciliation center in Syria.

On Wednesday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said

“Russia has been doing its utmost to maintain humanitarian pauses and unblock the situation in Eastern Ghouta. Continuing provocations by terrorists regrettably leave no chance for settling this situation properly.”

Moscow and Damascus “keep pressing for ensuring the necessary humanitarian conditions in that region.” Washington and its imperial partners block their good faith efforts.

Anti-Syria/anti-Russia propaganda war continues daily. A NYT report headlined “ ‘Humanitarian Pause’ in Syria: More Fighting, More Death,” saying:

In Eastern Ghouta, “a Russia-declared cease-fire…failed to yield the promised results: Civilians did not evacuate, the wounded were not ferried out, humanitarian aid did not flow in, and fighting persisted.”

Instead of condemning US-supported terrorists in the enclave for holding its residents hostage as human shields, preventing their evacuation through Russian-established humanitarian corridors, the Times blamed Syria, saying:

“(T)he Syrian government has undertaken one of the most intense bombardments of the offensive against eastern Ghouta…”

It cited the Western-funded long ago discredited Syrian Observatory for Human Rights propaganda operation, falsely blaming Syrian airstrikes for killing hundreds of Eastern Ghouta residents, injuring many more.

Syrian aerial and ground operations are combating US-supported terrorists in the enclave. These elements are responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties. The Times suppressed what’s vital to explain.

A neocon/CIA house organ Washington Post report on Eastern Ghouta was much the same – featuring disinformation and Big Lies, falsely blaming Syria for high crimes committed by US-supported terrorists.

Reporting on “government warplanes launch(ing) several attacks in the early hours of Wednesday morning,” Al Jazeera lied blaming Syria for preventing Eastern Ghouta residents from leaving.

Its correspondent reporting from Beirut, not Syria, said terrorists she called “rebels” claim “they are not bombing the corridors and that people do not want to leave because they don’t have any security guarantees “ – a bald-faced lie.

During a Wednesday Security Council session on Syria, US mission to the UN representative for economic and social affairs Kelly Currie, recited a litany of Big Lies about what’s going on in Eastern Ghouta.

She ignored daily war crimes committed by US terror-bombing and atrocities on the ground by terrorist fighters it supports.

Instead, she condemned legitimate Syrian aerial and ground operations, focused solely on combating US-supported terrorists, a campaign to liberate Eastern Ghouta from their control.

She disgracefully lied saying its operation “demonstrates (its) complete and utter contempt for this council and the United Nations.”

She turned truth on its head, slamming Russia’s humanitarian pause, calling it “cynical, callous and in flagrant defiance of the demands of 2401.”

It’s a noble effort in full compliance with the resolution – Russia and Syria united in the campaign to liberate the country from US-supported terrorists and Washington’s illegal presence.

As long as US-led aggression continues in Syria, conflict resolution will remain unattainable – despite good faith efforts by Moscow and Damascus for peace.

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

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

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

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


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria directly from Global Research.  

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

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Author’s Update as of March 2, 2018

Now that the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, are over, warmongering, threats and bombings are retaking world stage. Syria is again in the crosshairs of the blood-drenched empire’s handlers, NATO and its western puppets. The US are setting up a series of permanent illegal, uninvited bases in northern Syria, deploying some 30,000 mostly mercenary type soldiers, commanding the US trained and armed 50,000 strong Kurdish so-called People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, as well as newly trained, funded and armed ISIS fighters – all aiming at taking over one third of the Syrian territory – the beginning of a balkanization of Syria, and with the ultimate goal of ‘regime change’ – the goal that has never changed – removing Bashar al Assad, the legitimate democratically elected President of Syria.

Then there is East-Ghouta – a suburban area of Damascus, already largely under control – again – by US mandated IS or associated terrorists, shelling Damascus with an average of 70 rockets per day. In addition of having hit the Russian Embassy, they are causing innumerable casualties, including children, more suffering, homes, hospitals and schools destroyed, more orphans, to whom they apply the UN-sanitized term “refugees” – children without names without faces, without parents, without education, children as slaves and objects of sexual and labor exploitation – children without a future.

This will go on no doubt. Russia will interfere, hoping to stop the onslaught, while the US bases in the north will grow and not let go – one of the principles of the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) is make no concessions, pursue your target no matter what… Russia be better aware of this unbendable doctrine. “The no matter what” could mean: If we go down, the world goes down.

Then there are the seven countries that have to fall, of which the 2007 “Democracy Now” broadcast by Wesley Clark testifies. Syria is one of them. Lebanon is under simultaneous threat. Fortunately, Russia has just signed a military defense agreement with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The confrontation between Israel and Lebanese defense forces may intensify – more children at risk. And what is a distinct possibility for which the prostitute MSM has already launched an indoctrinating lie-propaganda – a false-flag act – another East-Ghouta sarin gas attack, this time specifically targeting children – executed by US / NATO directed terrorists and blaming the Assad government. The White Helmets would be there for the filming, possibly directed by George Clooney. That would have major impact on the world population.

Remember the August 2013 chlorine and sarin gas attack which killed up to 1,700 people, about a third of them children, in eastern Ghouta, and where a first investigation mission by the UN, led by former Swiss Attorney General, Carla Del Ponte, concluded that most likely the gas attack was perpetrated by the ‘opposition’, i.e. by the terrorists.

“I was a little bit stupefied by the first indication of the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” she said on Swiss TV.

‘Stupefied’ were certainly also Washington and its puppet European allies, France, Germany, UK, to hear a UN expert saying that “their people’’ did it, not Mr. Assad. – What Ms. Del Ponte clearly implied is that the West, by supporting the terrorists, most probably directing them to carry out the false flag – is highly complicit in war crimes.

Madame del Ponte later had to retract her statement, probably under threat – the tyrannical empire’s ultimate weapon, threating those who digress from the given doctrine. Since then all you can find in the presstitute MSM are accusations of the Syrian Government gazing her own people. That is not Mr. Assad’s style; but is sure is characteristic for the west, just look at the hundreds of False Flags – and school shootings – since and including 9/11.

Of course, nothing has changed since 2013. The west on a daily basis is responsible for uncountable war crimes, for the killing of millions of people since 9/11, the Mother of False Flags, at least a third of the victims are children – and those children who survived are made to live in abject misery, as orphans, refugees and slaves – undignified lives.

Innocent children are being sacrificed for the benefit of a power and greed driven elite – to finally gain control over this most strategically placed oil and mineral rich Middle Eastern country, whose President Assad declared in 2009 the “Five Sea Vision”, linking Syria with the Mediterranean, Caspian, Black Sea, Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. That would make Syria an economic power house of the Middle East.

Two years later, in 2011, Washington initiated via CIA and NATO trained terrorists a so-called civil war in Syria that has in the seven years to now cost the lives of at least a half a million people and almost half of Syria’s 18 million population has been displaced, of whom more than 4 million refugees abroad. If the sinister PNAC were to prevail, Syria would be kept in chaos for savage exploitation for decades to come. And generations of children are gone. Remaining Syrians, one of the best educated people of the Middle East, would descend into destitute slavehood.

***

Author’s Update on February 9, 2017

With Trump’s aggressive anti-Muslim immigration policy, especially anti-Syrian refugees, with the US special forces ordered by Trump carpet bombing and indiscriminately killing predominantly children and women in Yemen, and with Trump declaring his intent to step up the ‘anti-terror’ fight in Yemen — it is time to review the issue of war crimes committed against The Children of Syria

Let’s remind the people, especially those ‘selective’ Trump supporters, that the new President’s atrocities are hardly running behind those of the Obama / Killery team.

Killing is still Washington’s number One objective to feed the weapon and war cum security industry without which the rotten-to-the bone United States economy could not survive.

The victims of these brutal US trained-to-kill soldiers are invariably children and women. Those who are not killed right away, are likely to become refugees, be it from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan – and, yes, Yemen – and then they have no choice, but to seek out the homelands of their killers. Europe is next door.

That is why highlighting again The Children of Syria, symbolic for other children refugees of the western-destroyed Middle East, is so important.

The leadership (sic-sic) of the EU’s also rotten (and corrupt)-to-the-bone bureaucratic dictatorship, pretending to command the destiny of some 800 million people, is meeting in Malta, nominally to discuss the ‘destabilizing flood of refugees’ as they call it – had actually nothing better to do then to bash Trump for destabilizing Europe.

Yes, you read correctly, Trump. The villain and danger for the utterly useless bunch of vassal-clowns is, would you believe it, suddenly no longer Putin – but Trump! – See also Finian Cunningham’s ‘Trump or Putin’ 

When do these incompetent and inhuman European stooges of the White House, wake up to their own responsibility to stop the wars, thereby stopping the inhuman flood of refugees and apologize to the victims. They – the European un-leaders – would be capable of stopping the bloodshed, if they wanted to, as Washington will not do the killing alone. Washington will not expose themselves to the world as the only brutes to massacre women and children. Brussels knows about their power. But they don’t use it; they are cowards – or bought by the murderers.

But who would be surprised? Their forefathers have slaughtered and raped and colonized and exploited to the roots for over 800 years the rest of the world. Why would the new Europeans be different? Inhumanity is in the Judo-Christian men’s nature, the settlers of Europe.

Let us be reminded of The Children of Syria as a reality on its own, and as an allegory for refugee children around the world, of the inhumanity that inhabits the soul- and heartless westerners.

It’s not by hazard that in a recent interview with Al-Jazeera President Bashar Al-Assad pointedly said he didn’t want any European help in rebuilding Syria, “You can’t destroy Syria and then [make money] rebuilding her….”.

The words of the neocon Robert Zoellick, then President of the World Bank, still ring in the air “Let’s hope the World Bank will be able to help rebuild Libya”- after US / NATO forces under Obama’s and Hillary’s orders bombed the country to rubble in 2011, and shamelessly and brutally murdered their rightful leader, Mohamad Gaddafi on 20 October 2011, in his hometown of Sirte.

The Children of Syria – are also the suffering and homeless children of Libya — and of Somalia, of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Palestine, of Pakistan, of Sudan – and the list of victims of western wars. The Children of Syria are everywhere where the western war machine seeks profit for its US based industry and for full spectrum world dominance of its deep State Masters.

***

There is no other species, no other biological being on this planet that for no necessity at all destroys its own species for sheer greed and power.

Hardly anybody talks about and shows the horrendous situation in Syria on the ground, how this US instigated war affects the people, the individuals – and in particular the children. No future. Three million of them (UNICEF) do not go to school; they are malnourished, many sick, many die – miserable deaths, in unsanitary refugee camps; uncounted children are orphans at young age – have to fend for themselves, are being abused, exploited, mistreated, physically and mentally.

What a future? What a life. – Add to these 3 million from Syria alone the uncounted children from Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan – and the list goes on. All of these children were made homeless and refugees and many also orphans through wars and armed conflicts started by the US and its western ‘allies’.

Syrian Refugees, Sept 2015

Be sure always to remember, who is behind these conflicts; who could stop the misery anytime and who has the power to bring peace to humanity rather than constant war and mass killings to satisfy their greed – greed for dominance, greed for resources.

According to the UNHCR about 60 million people worldwide are on the move as refugees. This figure in reality is probably at least 70 million. It also masks another reality – one of abject poverty and misery, caused by a US-led world elite living in superb luxury and comfort, killing for more wealth and more power. The number of children can only be estimated. It is fair to guess that at least 1/3 of all refugees are children and adolescents, some 25 million. Again, most of these worldwide refugees are the result of US aggressions or conflicts initiated by Washington and carried out by US / NATO armed forces, or by America’s vassals and proxies, i.e. the war in Yemen nominally fought by the Saudis and other Gulf states, but with full backing and arms supplied by the US / NATO.

Young girls and adolescent women are often ending up in the sex-trade. Many of the boys and girls are abused as slaves or at best cheap, hardly-paid labor, working at least 12-hour days and of course – no chance of going to school – a missed opportunity to get a basic education. – What will they do in the future? – Those who may one day be ‘free’ from seeking shelter as refugees, free from slavery and able to enter a ‘normal’ work life?

The number of refugees is increasing with every bombing run by the US and NATO; by drone assassinations, yes, personally approved by Obama, the self-appointed leader of the world who goes around the globe preaching human rights, the biggest human rights abuser in recent history. US drones have killed tens of thousands in the last 15 years. To that you may add the hundreds, perhaps thousands killed by UK and French drones. At least 90% of those killed are civilians, many of them, maybe as many as half, are children or adolescents.

Many children survive as orphans. Especially when the trigger-happy drone-trained operators in Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas or elsewhere on the US territory, or the US Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, Djibouti, direct their joysticks towards a wedding or funeral celebration in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan – you name it. They have a particular liking for these mass family gatherings. The ‘bug splats’ – military slang for people killed by remote control – are the most numerous, the most fun, the bloodiest ‘bang for the buck’, for these inhuman monsters, trained to kill in places tens of thousands of kilometers away from their comfort zone – and ordered to do so by the Assassin-in-chief, Obama; he who proudly says that he approves each killing personally. How does the man – if he still deserves the term – sleep at night?

Many of these drone ‘pilots’ work from mobile air-conditioned trailers outside large cities in the US, but also from Africa, Afghanistan or the United Arab Emirates. There are at least 60 drone bases around the world, most of them controlled by the CIA and their proxies. Their number may be flexible with a tendency to grow. They are often operating from simple airstrips, easy to set up and easy to dismantle. They are clad in a shroud of secrecy, therefore difficult to monitor. This is modern American warfare, by robot, removed from emotions. Killing is a mere statistic, a measure accounted for on a spreadsheet. Almost nobody talks about this atrocious way of combat that is easily and painlessly replicated everywhere and endlessly.

How can a future Syria be built without an educated population? There will be a generation gap, for several generations – if ever – before the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region can recuperate its economy, its social and physical infrastructure – its sheer living of normal lives. Syria, Libya and Iraq were the most progressive countries in MENA: free education and health care; a first-class social safety net and physical infrastructure that functioned; a deep and profound history of humanity, the cradle of our western civilization. No more. The very ‘western civilization’ has destroyed it all. Bombed into oblivion. They were and Syria still is socialist by definition – a red flag and no-go for the western neoliberal fascist way of thinking and economic model.

Most of these people have done no harm, are no terrorists, especially the children, they were happy to go to school, to play with their friends, to have a home and caring family and daily food on the table. Now everything is lost. No home. Street children, begging, eating from the gutters, sick, torn and filthy clothing, cold, no shelter – no health care – no care at all. Washington and Washington directed stooges have taken away their future, have plunged them into misery, those that have survived and are roaming the globe as ‘refugees’. What a western sanitized term out of the handbook on statistics – when these poor souls are more often than not at the edge of survival, expulsed from one country to another, beaten, threatened with guns, sometimes killed, hovering between a life of despair and death from starvation, disease or sheer neglect.

Because the greed-driven neoliberal western colonialists – the same Europeans and some of them have become North Americans in the 18th, 19th and 20th century – who have ravaged and raped and exploited the world for centuries, these same people – can they still be called people? – are now decimating and destroying what’s left of our globe, for full spectrum dominance.

Killing is the new normal. Desolation and misery of living beings is of no importance. Interference without limitation, that is what the west does best, literally best. They have perfected an evil science: how to create a chaos of suffering and misery efficiently, with the least effort, at least cost – bombs, drones – poison gas, spent uranium, GMOs, and finally – the atom bomb – eradicating all. By chaos you divide and conquer.

Paradise going up in flames, taking evil humanity with it – safe for a few indigenous people, who have lived all their lives and are still living close and with nature. They may become the founders of a new humanity.

*

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, CounterPunch, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in May 2017.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s visit to West Asia, is there even a faint glimmer of hope for peace in the most conflict-ridden region of the world? Or, has his visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel from the 20th to the 23rd of May 2017 only strained the region’s undercurrents of friction and tension? Some reflections on areas of conflict in West Asia may throw a bit of light.

On the Israel-Palestine/Arab conflict — one of the world’s longest conflicts — Trump adopted an extremely biased position while mouthing platitudes about Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in harmony. He was effusive in his sympathies for Israelis faced by “threats” from Palestinians and other Arabs and the “suffering” they have to bear but was totally silent about the usurpation of Palestinian and Arab lands, their mass expulsion and their extermination through acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing pursued by Israel. He appeared oblivious to the humiliation and oppression that Palestinians have to undergo on a daily basis at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank or to the incarceration of about 2 million Palestinians in the world’s largest open-air prison called Gaza.

From Trump’s words and gestures in Israel it is obvious that he is working towards a solution that will see Palestinians subsisting in Bantustans with the whole of Jerusalem firmly in Israel’s control, reinforced by settler communities in the West Bank exercising jurisdiction over its water resources. Palestinian agents of Israel and the US will be enticed into accepting this arrangement which in turn will be endorsed by a number of other Arab and Muslim governments keen on pleasing Washington for their own interests.

Needless to say, the Bantustan solution will further incense Arabs and Muslims everywhere. It will spawn more suicide bombers and prod more youths to turn to terrorism. Given the current pattern of terrorism, the effects will be felt far and wide with Western cities as special targets.

In addressing other conflicts in West Asia, Trump proved to be equally obtuse. For him the whole region is confronted by the challenge of terrorism which has to be resolved by Muslims themselves since it is allegedly rooted in misinterpretations of Islamic teachings. If Trump and his advisers had looked at the present phase of terrorism and how it had developed, they would have realized that it is linked directly to the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. It is because of that act of aggression, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and subsequent political events including the dismantling of the Iraqi army by the occupierthat a sizeable number of former soldiers and other Saddam loyalists coalesced into the core of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and launched terrorist attacks against the Shia-led, Western backed government in Baghdad. In other words, US engineered regime change in Baghdad had given rise for the first time to organised terrorism on Iraqi soil. It is significant that Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq were funded, equipped and trained by groups from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey who for different reasons were opposed to the new rulers in Baghdad.

As a faction of the Iraqi Al-Qaeda moved to Syria, encouraged by groups in Saudi Arabia to fight Bashar Assad who has a Shia background and is secular, the US elite saw it as an opportunity to advance its own longstanding agenda of ousting Bashar from power especially since there was already a minor uprising against his authoritarian rule in one small city. Bashar is not only an adversary of Israel which occupies a large chunk of Syria’s strategic Golan Heights, he is also a close ally of both Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, two entities which are deeply committed to resisting US-Israeli hegemony over West Asia. This is why American and Israeli intelligence, together with the intelligence services of Britain and France, worked hand-in-glove with their counterparts in the region and with religious elites in a few Muslim countries to recruit tens of thousands of people from all over the world to engage in a sort of ‘Jihad” against the Bashar Assad government. These are the recruits who became part of Daesh, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and other outfits which until recently controlled parts of Syria. Syria is another tragic example of an attempt to affect regime change which in turn has generated terrorism and, in the course of it, brought death and sorrow to tens of thousands of people.

There is a third example of the intimate nexus between regime change and terrorism. In October 2011, the US and other NATO members provided aerial cover while ground forces including some terrorist groups organised the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was subsequently tortured and murdered. Libya has since plunged into chaos. There is no effective functioning government. As a result of the mayhem, terrorist cells have proliferated. Libya has also become a conduit for illegal migrants from North Africa and other parts of Africa trying desperately to escape the turmoil and find sanctuary in Europe. There are also thousands of migrants from Iraq, Syria and other countries who because of the mess their societies are in, cross the Mediterranean to Europe in search of shelter and stability. This goes to show that in at least three countries, Libya, Iraq and Syria, regime change is also directly and indirectly responsible for the migration crisis.

That neither migration nor terrorism can be separated from regime change is a truism which is not part of Trump’s radar screen. None of the Arab or Muslim leaders gathered in Riyadh to listen to Trump had the guts to tell him that the US pursuit of regime change, that its quest for hegemony has a lot to do with the upheavals that have overwhelmed some of their societies. The US should cease to control and dominate other nations through regime change and invasion and occupation if it wants to bring terrorism to an end.

But it is not just the US that seeks hegemony through regime change. Israel is also an aggressive advocate of regime change as demonstrated by its enthusiastic endorsement of the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, there are analysts who argue that more than the US president at that time George Bush Junior it was Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who wanted Saddam overthrown. Similarly, an Israeli Minister had called recently for the assassination of Bashar Assad. On regime change as on a number of other issues there is tremendous convergence of goals and perspectives between the US and Israel. Both for instance regard Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement, which commands the support of a huge percentage of Palestinians, and Hezbollah, committed to the liberation of Arab lands from Israel and Zionism as terrorist organisations. Trump reinforced that view during his recent visit to West Asia.

The Trump visit also demonstrated US-Israeli convergence on Iran. Both regard Iran as a sponsor of terrorism. Supporting a liberation movement such as Hezbollah is not the same as colluding with Daesh or Al-Qaeda. It is important to note that in the last so many years not a single Iranian has been involved in any of the terrorist attacks in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), or in Europe or in North America or in other parts of the world. In fact, the leading terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda are anti-Iran and anti-Shia. Most of them are Sunni. In Iraq as in Syria, Iranian militias are battling Sunni terrorist outfits. The irony is that in Iraq, Iranian militias are cooperating with the US in the bid to defeat Daesh terrorists in Mosul. It is obvious from all this that the attempt by Trump and Israel to smear Iran with the terrorist brush does not stand up to scrutiny.

Neither does their attempt to concoct fear among Iran’s neighbours about its nuclear programme. The agreement that Iran entered with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (P5+1 group) in 2015 called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ensures that Iran will never be able to produce a nuclear weapon. In any case, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has openly proclaimed on a number of occasions that manufacturing nuclear weapons is haram from an Islamic perspective.

The question of Iran’s nuclear programme exposes Israel’s hypocrisy. Why is it so perturbed by Iran’s nuclear programme whose peaceful intent has been verified over and over again by UN Inspectors when Israel is the only state in the region that has a nuclear weapons arsenal of perhaps at least 200 warheads? Israel’s obsession with Iran’s nuclear programme stems from its desire to maintain a nuclear weapons monopoly in West Asia.

Trump alsorevealed in the course of his visit that US-Israeli convergence was enhanced by the similarities they shared with Saudi Arabia. On terrorism and Iran’s nuclear programme all three are on the same page. Most of all they are all totally united in their view that the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region is Iran.

Iran is their mortal foe. The big conference in Riyadh that brought together heads of state or government or their representatives from 55 countries was in a sense to convince all of them that Iran is also their greatest enemy.

Saudi antipathy towards Iran has a certain history behind it. It became pronounced after the Islamic Revolution in Iran of 1979 which overthrew a feudal monarch, Shah Pahlavi. Before that, Saudi Rulers and the Shah enjoyed good relations partly because both paid obeisance to the same overlord, namely, the US. Revolutionary Iran under Imam Khomeini was clearly opposed to US and Western imperialism and saw Islam as a religion of justice and human dignity that championed the oppressed. Faced with a revolutionary interpretation of Islam, the Saudi Rulers were concerned with preserving their feudal power and perpetuating their ties with the US whom they saw as the protector of their throne. Besides, they leaned towards a brand of Islam — Wahabism —- which apart from its puritanism was also antagonistic towards the Shia sect, the sect of the vast majority of Iranians. This explains to some extent why the Saudis got together with the Gulf monarchies and goaded the ambitious Saddam Hussein of Iraq to go to war against Iran in 1980. It is estimated that a million lives were lost in that eight-year war.

After the pain of the war receded into the background, relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran improved somewhat. However things began to change when the Shia majority in Iraq came to power through the ballot-box in December 2005, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The Saudis viewed Shia ascendancy in Iraq as benefitting Iran and as an expansion of Shia power in their neighbourhood. Then in 2006, the Shia Hezbollah thwarted the Israeli attempt to gain control over Lebanon which boosted Hezbollah’s standing among the entire Arab population, much to the dismay of the Saudi elite. When the Arab uprisings began in 2010, and spread to places like Bahrain which is 70% Shia, the Saudi elite became even more determined to maintain its grip upon the region and moved quickly to crush the popular movement for human rights. In Yemen, the legitimate government of the day is facing a popular challenge, a significant segment of which comes from Houthis, who happen to be Shia. The Saudi elite is involved in extensive military operations to shore up the position of President Mansur Hadi and in the course of it has committed some serious human rights violations which have tarnished its image. Its inability to oust President Bashar of Syria after six years has also frustrated the Saudi elite.

The frustrations of the Saudi elite engendered by the apparent rise of Iranian/Shia power were further compounded by the reluctance of former President Barack Obama to curb Iran. This was how the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also felt about Obama given the latter’s enthusiastic support for the nuclear deal. This is why boththe Saudi King Salman, and Netanyahu welcomed the arrival of Trump in Riyadh and Tel Aviv with such joy.

It is in this context that one should view Trump’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth 350 billion dollars over 10 years, with nearly 110 billion to take effect immediately. This “package of defence equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian related threats.” US military assistance to Israel also runs into billions and is a constant feature of their bilateral relations. The common aim of both military aid programmes is crystal-clear.

If the most concrete achievement of Trump’s visit to West Asia was to forge a US-Israel-Saudi alliance against Iran, it can only be described as a bane upon peace. Given the friction and tension that already exists, it could lead to open intra-regional conflict with Israel and Saudi Arabia on one side, supported by the US, and Iran, on the other, backed by Russia. In such a conflict, a strong sectarian dimension, specifically a Sunni-Shia divide, could also emerge. And if the grand sell-out of Palestinian rights occurs at the same time with all its dire consequences, all hell will break loose.

This is why global citizenry should be focussed on what is unfolding in West Asia – and act now.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

This article by Prof James Petras –which is relevant to understanding the present context– was originally published by GR in November 2013.

“Pro-Israel Policy groups such as AIPAC work with unlimited funding to divert US policy in the region (Middle East)” – Jack Straw, Member of Parliament and former Foreign Secretary of the British Labor Party

“The United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran to spur the country to end its nuclear program”  – Sheldon Adelson, biggest donor to the Republican Party and major fundraiser for pro-Israel political action committees,  speech at Yeshiva University, New York City, October 22, 2013.

Introduction

The question of war or peace with Iran rests with the policies adopted by the White House and the US Congress.  The peace overtures by newly elected Iranian President Rohani have resonated favorably around the world, except with Israel and its Zionist acolytes in North America and Europe.  The first negotiating session proceeded without recrimination and resulted in an optimistic assessment by both sides.  Precisely because of the initial favorable response among the participants, the Israeli government escalated its propaganda war against Iran .  Its agents in the US Congress, the mass media and in the Executive branch moved to undermine the peace process.  What is at stake is Israel’s capacity to wage proxy wars using the US military and its NATO allies against any government challenging Israeli military supremacy in the Middle East, its violent annexation of Palestinian territory and its ability to attack any adversary with impunity.

To understand what is at stake in the current peace negotiations one must envision the consequences of failure:  Under Israeli pressure, the US announced that its ‘military option’ could be activated – resulting in missile strikes and a bombing campaign against 76 million Iranians in order to destroy their government and economy.  Teheran could retaliate against such aggression by targeting US military bases in the region and Gulf oil installations resulting in a global crisis.  This is what Israel wants.

We will begin by examining the context of Israel ’s military supremacy in the Middle East .  We will then proceed to analyze Israel ’s incredible power over the US political process and how it shapes the negotiation process today, with special emphasis on Zionist power in the US Congress.

The Context of Israeli Military Supremacy in the Middle East

Since the end of World War II , Israel has bombed, invaded and occupied more countries in the Middle East and Africa than previous colonial power, except the US .  The list of Israel ’s victims includes:  Palestine , Syria , Lebanon , Egypt , Iraq , Jordan , Sudan and Yemen .  If we include countries where Israel has launched quasi-clandestine terrorist attacks and assassinations, the list would be greatly expanded to include a dozen countries in Europe and Asia – including the US through its Zionist terror network.

Israel ’s projection of military power, its capacity for waging offensive wars at will, is matched by its near-total impunity.  Despite their repeated violations of international law, including war crimes, Israel has never been censored at an international tribunal or subjected to economic sanctions because the US government uses its position to veto UN Security Council resolutions and pressure its NATO-EU allies.

Israel’s military supremacy has less to do with the native techno-industrial ‘brilliance’ of its war-mongers and more to do with the transfers and outright theft of nuclear, chemical and biological technology and weapons from the US (Grant Smith “Ten Explosive US Government Secrets of Israel” IRMEP).  Overseas Zionists in the US and France have played a strategic (and treasonous) role in stealing and illegally shipping nuclear technology and weapon components to Israel, according to an investigation by former CIA Director Richard Helms.

Israel maintains huge nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon stockpiles refusing any access to international arms inspectors and is not obliged to abide by the non-proliferation treaty, because of US diplomatic intervention.  Under pressure from the local ‘Zionist power configuration’ (ZPC), the US government has blocked any action which might constrain Israel ’s production of weapons of mass destruction.  In fact the US continues to provide Israel with strategic weapons of mass destruction for use against its neighbors – in violation of international law.

US military aid and technology transfers to Israel exceed $100 billion dollars over the past half century.  US diplomatic and military intervention was crucial in rescuing Israel from defeat during the 1973 war.  US President Lyndon Johnson’s refusal to defend the unarmed intelligence ship, the USS Liberty in 1967, after it had been bombed and napalmed by Israeli fighter planes and warships in international waters, constituted a tremendous victory for Israel thanks to Johnson’s Zionist advisers.  Because of its impunity, even in killing American servicemen, Israel has been given a free hand to wage aggressive wars to dominate its neighbors, commit acts of terrorism and assassinate its adversaries throughout the world without fear of retaliation.

Israel ’s uncontested military superiority  has converted several of its neighbors to quasi-client collaborators:  Egypt and Jordan have served as de facto allies, along with the Gulf monarchies, helping Israel repress the region’s nationalist and pro-Palestinian movements.            

The most decisive factor in the rise and consolidation of Israel ’s power in the Middle East has not been its military prowess but its political reach and influence via its Zionist agents in the US .  Washington ’s wars against   Iraq and Libya , and its current support of the mercenary assault against Syria , have destroyed three major secular nationalist opponents of Israel ’s hegemonic ambitions.

As Israel accumulates more power in the region, expanding its colonization of Palestinian territory, it looks eastward toward destroying the last remaining obstacle to its colonial policies:  Iran .

For at least two decades, Israel has directed its overseas agents – (the ZPC) – to destroy the government of Iran by destabilizing its society, assassinating its scientists, bombing its military establishments and laboratories and strangling its economy.

After the ZPC successfully pushed the US into war against Iraq in 2003 – literally shredding its complex secular society and killing over a million Iraqis – it turned its sights on destroying Lebanon (Hezbollah) and the secular government of Syria as a way to isolate Iran and prepare for an attack.  While thousands of Lebanese civilians were slaughtered in 2006, Israel ’s attack of Lebanon failed, despite the support of the US government and the ZPC’s wild propaganda campaign.  Hysterical at its failure and to ‘compensate’ for its defeat at the hands of Hezbollah and to ‘boost morale’, Israel invaded and destroyed much of Gaza (2008/9) – the world’s largest open air prison camp.

Lacking military capacity to attack Iran on its own, Israel directed its agents to manipulate the US government to start a war with Teheran.  The militarist leaders in Tel Aviv have unleashed their political assets (ZPC) throughout the US  to work to destroy Iran – the last formidable adversary to Israel supremacy in the Middle East .

The Israeli-ZPC strategy is designed to set the stage for a US confrontation with Iran , using its agents in the Executive branch as well as its ongoing corruption, bribery and control of the US Congress.  ZPC control over the mass media enhances its propaganda campaign:  Everyday the New York Times and the Washington Post publish articles and editorials promoting Israel ’s war agenda.  The  ZPC uses the US State Department to force other NATO states to likewise confront Iran .

Israel’s Proxy War with Iran:  US Political Pressure, Economic Sanctions and Military Threats

Alone, Israel’s ‘war’ with Iran would not amount to much more than its cyber sabotage, the periodical assassinations of Iranian scientists using its paid agents among Iranian terrorist groups and non-stop brow-beating from Israeli politicians and their ‘amen crowd’.  Outside of Israel , this campaign has had little impact on public opinion.  Israel’s ‘was’ on Iran depends exclusively on its capacity to manipulate US policy using its local agents and groups who dominate the US Congress and through the appointments of officials in key positions in the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Justice , and as Middle East ‘advisors’.  Israel cannot organize an effective sanction campaign against Iran ; nor could it influence any major power to abide by such a campaign.  Only the US has that power.  Israel ’s dominance in the Middle East comes entirely from its capacity to mobilize its proxies in the United States who are assigned the task of securing total submission to   Israel ’s interests from elected and appointed government officials – especially in regard to Israel ’s regional adversaries.

Strategically placed, ‘dual US-Israeli citizens’ have used their US citizenship to secure high security positions in the Government directly involved in policies affecting Israel .  As Israelis, their activities are in line with the dictates of Tel Aviv.  In the Bush administration (2001-2008) high placed ‘Israel Firsters’ dominated the Pentagon (Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith), Middle East Security (Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross), the Vice President’s office (‘Scooter’ Libby), Treasury (Levey) and Homeland Security (Michael Chertoff).  In the Obama administration the ‘Israel Firsters’ include Dennis Ross, Rahm Emanuel, David Cohen, Secretary of Treasury Jack “Jake the Snake” Lew, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Michael Froman as Trade Representative among others.

Israel ’s Proxy Power within the Executive branch is matched by its dominance of the US Congress.    Contrary to some critics, Israel is neither an ‘ally’ or ‘client’ of the US .  Evidence of the gross asymmetry of the relation abounds over the past half century.  Because of these powerful proxies in Congress and the Executive branch, Israel has received over $100 billion dollar tribute from the US over the past 30 years, or $3 billion plus a year.  The US Pentagon has transferred the most up-to-date military technology and engaged in several wars on Israel ’s behalf.  The US Treasury has imposed sanctions against potentially lucrative trading and investment partners in the Middle East ( Iran , Iraq and Syria ) depriving US agricultural and manufacturing exporters and oil companies of over $500 billion in revenues.  The White House sacrificed the lives of over 4,400 US soldiers in the Iraq War – a war promoted by Israel ’s proxies at the behest of Israel ’s leaders.  The State Department has rejected friendly and profitable relations with over 1.5 billion Muslims by backing the illegal settlement of over half million Jewish colonists on military-occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem .

The strategic question is how and why this one-sided relation between the US and Israel persists for so long, even as it goes counter to so many strategic and elite US interests?  The more immediate and pressing question is how this historically lopsided relation effects contemporary US-Iran sanctions and nuclear negotiations?

Iran and the Peace Negotiations

Undoubtedly the newly elected Iranian President and his Foreign Minister are prepared to negotiate an end to hostilities with the US by making major concessions ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  They have stated they are open to reducing or even ending the production of highly enriched uranium; reducing the number of centrifuges and even allowing intrusive, unannounced inspections, among other promising proposals.  The Iranian government proposes a roadmap with end goals as part of the initial agreements.  The European Union’s Foreign Secretary Lady Ashton has commented favorably on the initial meeting.

 The US Administration has given conflicting signals following the Iranian overtures and the opening meeting.  Some individual comments are guardedly positive; others are less encouraging and rigid.  Administration Zionists like Jack ‘Jake’ Lew, the Treasury Secretary, insists sanctions will remain until Iran meets all US (read ‘Israeli’) demands.  The US Congress, bought and controlled by the ZPC, rejects the promising Iranian overtures and flexibility, insisting on military ‘options’ or the total dismantling of Iran’s legal and peaceful nuclear program – ZPC positions designed to sabotage the negotiations.  To that end, Congress has passed new, more extreme, economic sanctions to strangle the Iran ’s oil economy.

  How Israel’s Political Action Committees Control the US Congress and Prepare War with Iran

 The Zionist Power Configuration uses its financial firepower to dictate Congressional policy on the Middle East and to ensure that the US Congress and Senate do not stray one iota from serving Israel ’s interests.  The Zionist instrument used in the purchase of elected officials in the US is the political action committee (PAC).

 Thanks to a 2010 US Supreme Court decision, Super PACs-linked to Israel spend enormous sums  to elect or destroy candidates – depending on the candidate’s political work on behalf of Israel .  As long as these funds do not go directly to the candidate, these Super PACs do not have to reveal how much they spend or how it is spent.  Conservative estimates of ZPC- linked direct and indirect funds to US legislators run close to $100 million dollars over the past 30-year.  The ZPC channels these funds to legislative leaders and members of Congressional committees dealing with foreign policy, especially sub-committee  chairpersons dealing with the Middle East .  Unsurprisingly, the largest Congressional recipients of ZPC money are those who have aggressively promoted Israel ’s hard-line policies.  Elsewhere around the world, such large scale payoffs for legislative votes would be considered blatant bribery and subject to felony prosecution­ and imprisonment for both parties.  In the US , the purchase and sale of a politician’s vote is called ‘lobbying’ and is legal and open.  The legislative branch of the US government has come to resemble a high-price brothel or white slavers’ auction – but with the lives of thousands at stake.

 The ZPC has purchased the alliance of US Congress people and Senators on a massive scale:  Of 435 members of the US House of Representatives (sic), 219 have received payments from the ZPC in exchange for their votes on behalf of the state of Israel .  Corruption is even more rampant among the 100 US Senators, 94 of whom have accepted pro-Israel PAC and Super PAC money for their loyalty to Israel .  The ZPC showers money on both Republicans and Democrats, thus securing incredible (in this era of Congressional deadlock), near unanimous (‘bipartisan’) votes in favor of the ‘Jewish State’, including its war crimes, like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon as well as the annual $3 billion dollar plus US tax-payer tribute to Tel Aviv.  At least 50 US Senators have each collected between $100 thousand and $1 million in ZPC money over the past decades .  In exchange, they have voted for over $100 billion in tribute payments to Israel … in addition to other ‘services and payments’.  The members of the US Congress are cheaper:  25 legislators have received between $238,000 and $50,000, while the rest got peanuts.  Regardless of the amount, the net result is the same: Congressional member pick up their script from their Zionist mentors in the PACs, Super PACs and AIPAC and back all of Israel ’s wars in the Middle East and promote US aggression on behalf of Israel . 

The most outspoken and influential legislators get the biggest chunk of Zionist payola: Senator Mark Kirk (Bombs over Teheran!) tops the ‘pigs at the trough’ list with $925,000 in ZPC payoffs, followed by John McCain (Bombs over Damascus!) with $771,000, while Senators Mitch McConnell, Carl Levin, Robert Menendez, Richard Durban and other Zionophilic politicos are  not shy about holding out their little begging bowls when the pro-Israel PAC bagmen arrive!   Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tops the ‘House’ list with $238,000 for her 100% pro-Israel record as well as for being more war-mongering than even Netanyahu!  Eric Cantor got $209,000 for championing ‘wars for Israel ’ with American lives while cutting Social Security payments to US seniors in order to increase military aid to Tel Aviv.  House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, got $144,000 for ‘whipping the few wobbly’ Democrats back into Israel ’s ‘camp’.  House Majority Leader John Boehner was paid $130,000 to do the same among the Republicans.

 The ZPC has spent huge amounts to punish and destroy a dozen or so dissident legislators who had stood up to Israel ’s wars and grotesque human rights record.  The ZPC has poured millions into individual campaigns, not only financing opposition candidates who pledged allegiance to the Israel but mounting scurrilous character assassinations of Israel’s critics in office.  These campaigns have been mounted in the most obscure parts of the US , including in majority African-American districts, where local Zionist interests and influence are otherwise absolutely nil.

There are no comparable PACs, Super PACs, party leaders, or civic organization that can contest the power of Israel ’s Fifth Column.  According to documents archived by the courageous researcher, Grant Smith of IRMEP, when it comes to Israel , the US Justice Department has adamantly refused to enforce its own federal laws requiring the prosecution of US citizens who fail to register as foreign agents while working for a foreign country – at least since 1963.  On the other hand, the ZPC, through the so-call ‘Anti-Defamation League’, has successfully pressured the Justice Department, the FBI and NSA to investigate and prosecute law-abiding, patriotic US citizens critical of Israel ’s land grabs in Palestine and the Zionist corruptors of the US political system on behalf of their foreign master.

The corruption and degradation of US democracy is made possible by the equally compromised and corrupted ‘respectable press’.  Media critic, Steve Lendman, has pointed out the direct link between Israel and the mass media in his investigation of the New York Times.  The leading (‘fair and balanced’) journalists reporting on Israel have strong family and political ties to that country and their articles have been little more than propaganda.  Times reporter Ethan Bronner, whose son served in the Israel Defense Forces, is a long-time apologist for the Zionist state.  Times reporter Isabel Kershner, whose ‘writing’ seem to come straight out of the Israeli Foreign Office, is married to Hirsh Goodman an adviser to the Netanyahu regime on ‘security affairs’.  The Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, lives comfortably in the ancestral home of a Palestinian family dispossessed from that ancient city.

 The Times unflinching pro-Israel posture provides a political cover and justification for the corrupted US politicians as they beat the war drums for Israel .  It is no surprise that the New York Times, like the Washington Post, is deeply engaged in disparaging and denouncing the current US-Iran negotiations – and providing ample space for the one-sided rhetoric of Israeli politicians and their US mouthpieces, while studiously excluding the more rational, pro-rapprochement voices of experienced former US diplomats, war-weary military leaders and representatives of the US business and academic communities.

 To understand Congress’ hostility to the nuclear negotiations with Iran and their efforts to scuttle them through the imposition of ridiculous new sanctions, it is important to get to the source of the problem, namely the statements of key Israeli politicians, who set the line of march for their US proxies.

In late October, 2013, Former Israeli Defense Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin spoke of ‘having to choose between ‘the bomb’ or the bombing’ – a message which immediately resonated with the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (Daily Alert, October 24, 2013).  On October 22, 2013, Israel ’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, called for harsh new sanctions on Iran and insisted that the US use them as leverage to demand that Iran agree to entirely abandon its peaceful nuclear energy and enrichment program.  Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon affirmed that ‘ Israel will not accept any deal that allows Iran to enrich uranium’.  It is Israel ’s position to threaten war (via the US ) if Iran does not submit to unconditional surrender of its nuclear program.  This defines the position of all the major pro-Israel PACs, Super PACs and AIPAC.  They in turn proceed to dictate policy to their ‘lick-spittles’ in the US Congress.  As a result, Congress passes even more extreme economic sanctions on Iran in order to sabotage the ongoing negotiations. 

 Those who have received the biggest Zionist pay-offs from the pro-Israel PACs are the most vociferous:  Senator Mark Kirk ($925,379), author of a previous sanctions bill, demands that Iran end its entire nuclear and ballistic missile program (!) and declared that the US Senate “should immediately move forward with a new round of economic sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian government revenue and reserves” (Financial Times, 10/18/13, p. 6).  The US House of Representatives (sic) has already passed a bill sharply limiting Iran ’s ability to sell its main export, oil.   Once again, the Israel- ZPC – Congressional axis seeks to impose Israel ’s war agenda on the American people!  In late October 2013, Secretary of State Kerry was ‘grilled’ for 7 hours by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with the craven Kerry promising to promote Israel ’s agenda on dismantling Iran ’s nuclear enrichment program.

To counter the campaign to strangle Iran ’s oil economy, promoted by Israel ’s flunkeys in the Congress, the Iranian government has offered generous contracts to the US and EU oil companies (Financial Times 10/29/2013, p 1).  Existing nationalist provisions are being removed.  Under the new terms, foreign companies book reserves or take equity stakes in Iranian projects.  Iran hopes to attract at least $100 billion dollars in investments over the next three years.  This stable country boasts the world’s largest gas and the fourth largest oil reserves.  Because of the current US ( Israel )-imposed sanctions, production has fallen from 3.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to 2.58 million barrels per day in 2013.  The question is whether ‘Big Oil’, the giant US and EU companies have to power to challenge the ZPC-stranglehold over US-EU sanction policy.  So far, the ZPC has dominated this critical policy and marginalized ‘Big Oil’ using threats, blackmail and coercion against US policymakers.  This has effectively shut out US companies from the lucrative Iranian market.

Conclusion

As the US and the 5 other countries attempt to negotiate with Iran , they face enormous obstacles overcoming Israel ’s power over the US Congress.  Over  past decades Israel ’s agents have bought the loyalties of the vast majority of Congress people, training them to recognize and obey the whistles, signals and script from the war mongers in Tel Aviv.

This ‘Axis of War’, has inflicted enormous damage on the world resulting in the deaths of millions of victims of US wars in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and North Africa .  The gross corruption and widely recognized bankruptcy of the US legislative system is due to its slavish submission to a foreign power.  What remains in Washington is a debased vassal state despised by its own citizens.  If the ZPC controlled Congress succeeds once again in destroying the negotiations between the US and Iran via new war-like resolutions, we, the American people, will have to pay an enormous price in lives and treasure. 

 The time to act is now.  It is time to stand up and expose the role played by the Israeli PACs, Super PACs and the 52 Major American Jewish Organization in corrupting Congress and turning “our” elected representatives into flunkeys for Israel’s wars.  There has been a deafening silence from our noted critics –few alternative media critics have attacked Israel ’s power over the US Congress.  The evidence is openly available, the crimes are undeniable.  The American people need real political leaders with the courage to root out the corrupted and corruptors and force their elected members in the House and Senate to represent the interest of the American people.

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in January 2016.

The news of another nuclear weapon test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, often referred to in the west as North Korea, has been met with condemnation from the most powerful nuclear armed state of them all, the United States of America, the only nation to have actually used them, against the people of Japan in 1945, and a nation that still retains a first strike strategy against its claimed enemies. This was to be expected from the greatest hypocrite state in the world. But the United States is not the only nuclear weapon state that showed blatant double standards in reaction the news. Both Russia and China have condemned the test of what the DPRK claimed was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.

This hypocrisy is even more startling since both Russia and China are modernizing and increasing their nuclear weapon systems to deal with the existential threat from the United States which is doing the same. Meanwhile Britain claims the right to renew its Trident submarine programme with its nuclear arsenal and France, Pakistan, India, and Israel continue to maintain their nuclear weapon systems. None of them have followed South Africa’s example of dismantling its nuclear weapons as it did after the African National Congress took power in the early 90’s.

One would have expected that Russia and China, which constantly and rightly complain about western double standards vis a vis their policies and actions, would support the right of the DPRK to defend itself against the nuclear threat from the United States and demand that the United States itself disarm its nuclear weapons in return for the DPRK eliminating its nuclear arsenal. One would have expected solidarity with the DPRK that faces the same common enemy as Russia and China face and that they would understand the fears of the Koreans in the face of that threat. But it seems that the Americans are not the only ones capable of displaying double standards.

And why is it that Israel, a state that continues to lie about its possession of nuclear weapons, escapes this criticism? Why does Iran suffer under years of economic sanctions, as does the DPRK, merely for developing a civilian nuclear programme with only the possibility of building nuclear weapons? We can only scratch our heads at this irrationality, arrogance and hypocrisy of the big and medium powers; as well as the United Nations that joined in the condemnation of the DPRK but which stays enigmatically silent about the weapons possessed by those most likely to use them.

Since no journalist has asked these powers to justify their hypocrisy and no newspaper or media dares to question it, we, the people of the world are not allowed to know the real reasons why this double standard is applied to the DPRK and to Iran, except that the nuclear armed nations do not want those two countries to be able to defend themselves in the event of a military attack by the United States and its allies. Why this is so they must explain. For it is obvious that neither the DPRK nor Iran have any desire to use such weapons offensively against any nation and surely not Russia or China.

Russia and China need all the credibility they can establish to be able to counter the domination of the United States, to create a truly multipolar world, or even better, a world of equal nations where no nation dominates any other. They lose credibility by acting in the same manner as the imperial power they rightly criticize. Instead of appearing as defenders of the weak and oppressed, they will come to be perceived as just another set of bullies, threatening smaller nations that dare to actually be equal. And, in the case of the DPRK, they lose their credibility the more rapidly they ignore, or pretend to ignore, the history of the Korean peninsula since the Americans attacked the north in 1950, which itself was a failed attempt to make a thrust into China to attack the newly established communist government

During the savage war that followed, the Americans and their allies killed an estimated 5 million Koreans. The Chinese, who came to the aid of the north then, as did the Soviet Union, also suffered large numbers of casualties in repelling the American attack. The Russians and Chinese are now acting as if none of this ever took place. But the DPRK has vowed that it will never happen again and so they defend themselves, as best they can.

The only justification for Russia or China condemning the DPRK nuclear weapons programme would be if they guaranteed the security of the DPRK, but this is something they are clearly not now prepared to do, though once they did. So what choice does the DPRK have? And yet, and yet, the government of the DPRK has stated consistently that it is prepared to eliminate its nuclear weapons if two conditions are satisfied; first the removal of the American occupation forces and the reunification of the Korean peninsula under a federal system in which both the south and the north retain their current socio-economic systems and, secondly, a written guarantee from the United States that it will not attack them. Since the United States refuses to provide such a guarantee (probably worthless anyway knowing their history of duplicity) the government of the DPRK is convinced that the Americans intend to attack it. No other conclusion is possible from their point of view and that view is entirely logical.

During my visit to the DPRK in 2003 as part of a team of the National Lawyers Guild of the United States, I had the opportunity to speak to members of the leadership in the government and what was learned is contained in our report of that trip. I will restate it here.

Just prior to his death in 1994, Kim Il Sung wrote that the two countries on the Korean peninsula must make all efforts to achieve reunification. In fact a monument to that historic document is found on the north side of DMZ. We must remember that the country has been one nation for 1300 years, and two nations for only 68. In 2000, a joint declaration was made, after a meeting between the Presidents of the two splintered nations, to use their respective proposals to achieve a confederation. They agreed further to economic cooperation and exchanges in “civic, cultural, sports, public health, environment and all other fields.”

The DPRK officials provided us with their written proposal for unification. It calls for a Federation with a joint Supreme Assembly to pass laws for the federation, but one that allows each side to maintain its systems of government. Whether this is achievable remains uncertain, but the point remains that both sides want to have a united and peaceful nation.

It was our observation that the U.S. “defenses” on the peninsula may be doing more than “protecting” the South Koreans as is claimed by the US. 
In fact, a unified and peaceful Korea, with a combined population of 77 million people, coupled with the growing economic power of China and the increased trade with Japan, makes all Asia an increasing threat to the economic prowess of the United States. It was our opinion that by maintaining instability in Asia, and maintaining a massive military presence there, in Japan and Korea, they try keep China at bay, Japan a vassal and Russia off-balance.

With the continuing pressure to remove the U.S. bases in Okinawa, the American military occupation of the peninsula remains a central focus of American efforts to dominate the region. Furthermore, when read in light of right wing pronouncements in the United States of a New American Century and the Clash of Civilizations, wherein the United States has planned and fought several simultaneous wars to “preserve Western culture against Islam” and defend the west against “terrorism” it is clear there is more at work here than we are being told.

The U.S. military estimates that a new Korean war would lead to as many as I million people being killed, including 80-100,000 Americans, with out of pocket expenses of over $100 billion and an impact on the region of over 1 trillion dollars. War is not a viable or civilized option. Yet, the U.S. continues to spend huge sums every year to maintain its equipment and forces in South Korea.

The fundamental foundation of DPRK policy is to achieve a non-aggression pact and peace treaty with the United States. The North Koreans repeatedly stated that they did not want to attack anyone, hurt anyone or be at war with anyone. But they have seen what has happened to Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. They have no intention of having that happen to them. It is clear that any U.S. invasion would be defended vigorously and that the nation can endure a long, arduous struggle

The real issue is not whether the DPRK has or can have nuclear weapons, but whether the United States, which has nuclear arms capability on the Korean peninsula, is willing to work with the North towards negotiating a peace treaty. We found North Koreans sincerely searching for peace. They are not attached to having nuclear weapons if peace can be established.

However, in this age of “regime change,” “pre-emptive war” doctrines, American efforts to develop low yield nuclear weapons, and their abandonment of international treaties, it is not surprising that the DPRK plays the nuclear card. The tragedy is the failure of the American people and now the Russian and Chinese people, in fact the people of the world, to demand that their leaders exhaust all avenues of dialogue and peace before contemplating war and using constant deception to justify maintaining a state of militarism on the Korean Peninsula, a militarism aimed straight at the heart of the people of the DPRK.

Instead of berating the DPRK for developing a defensive nuclear weapons system, it would be better for the nuclear powers to lead the way forward and declare an immediate programme of disarmament of their own nuclear weapon systems and all other weapons systems capable of mass destruction. It would be better if they would guarantee that no nation would be subject to their aggression.

In the meantime, if Russia and China want to prevent a nuclear catastrophe from happening on the Korean Peninsula then they should consider the real danger that the DPRK faces from the United States, and remember the recent history of American aggression and occupation. They must approach the DPRK, not as inferiors, to be lectured and scolded, but as serious and worthy equals with valid concerns about their security, who require their assistance and cooperation, not their hypocrisy and rejection.

I will conclude with the words of Albert Einstein, expressed in the Japanese magazine Kaizo in September 1952, since they convey the very thoughts expressed to me by leaders of the DPRK when I had the chance of meeting some of them on our visit there some years ago and which, I am sure, still reflect their position:

“To kill in war is not a whit better than to commit ordinary murder. As long, however, as the nations are not resolved to abolish war through common actions and to solve their conflicts and protect their interests by peaceful decisions on a legal basis, they feel compelled to prepare for war. They feel obliged to prepare all possible means, even the most detestable ones, so as not to be left behind in the general armament race. This road necessarily leads to war, a war which under the present conditions means universal destruction.

Under these circumstances the fight against means has no chance of success. Only the radical abolition of wars and of the threat of war can help. This is what we have to work for.”

 

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in December 2010.

On January 29, 2002, former President George W. Bush designated North Korea as one of three nations in the “axis of evil”. Bush made it clear that these countries were enemies of the United States and that they would be targets of future US aggression. Shortly after Bush’s State of the Union Address, the administration released its National Defense Strategy which claimed the right to preemptively attack countries it saw as threats to US hegemony. Naturally, North Korea took these developments seriously and prepared a strategy to defend itself against a US attack.

Less than a year after Bush’s speech, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). And, six years after that, on May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test in a remote north-eastern area of the country which triggered a 4.7 magnitude earthquake. Experts now believe that North Korea has a stockpile of between 6 to 9 nuclear weapons.

North Korean leaders were forced to develop a nuclear arsenal to defend themselves against US aggression. It was a reasonable response to Bush’s saber rattling.

On November 30, 2010, North Korea announced that it had opened its first uranium enrichment plant. According to the Christian Scientist Monitor:

“For the first time, North Korea made its uranium enrichment program a matter of written record Tuesday with the proud claim in the country’s leading newspaper of a modern facility that is already operational….

That revelation… marks another step toward North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear power. The North’s “modern uranium enrichment plan” was still under construction but was already “equipped with several thousand centrifuges,” according to the newspaper. In recent years Pyongyang has already exploded two nuclear devices with plutonium at their core.” (“It’s official: North Korea says ‘modern’ nuclear plant is operating”, Christian Scientist Monitor)

So, the North has nukes and has thus spared itself a fate similar to Iraq’s. No doubt, leaders in Tehran are looking on with envy. If Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program already, they surely must be considering one now.

Virtually all of the western media have condemned North Korea’s recent shelling of Yeonpyeong which killed a number of innocent civilians. But the media leave out important details which help to explain why the North acted as it did. South Korea missionary, Gene Matthews breaks down the incident like this in The Progressive:

“North Korea has always felt threatened by joint military exercises of the U.S. and South Korea, and has always protested against them,” he says. “This time, North Korea stated that the exercises were taking place in North Korean territory and that if shots were fired during the exercise they would retaliate. Shots were fired (not at the North, it should be pointed out but out toward the ocean) and the North retaliated.” (“Keeping Perspective on North Korea”, Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive)

So we can see that, however foolish, this was not an act of aggression on the part of the North, but defense. The US/South Korea military exercises are intentionally provocative. The North merely did what it felt it had to do to send a message that it will defend its borders. US citizens would expect nothing less if Russia and China were carrying out military maneuvers on the Canadian border or off the coast of San Diego.

Barack Obama is following in the footsteps of the early Bush administration. Bush eventually learned that hostility does not work with North Korea, so he backed down. After 6 years of belligerence, Bush caved in to nearly all of North Korea’s demands and got nothing in return. The UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, did not gain access to Kim Jong-il’s nuclear stockpile or to its “Top-Secret” file on weapons programs. Nor were IAEA inspectors allowed to conduct surprise “go anywhere, see anything” inspections. None of Bush’s main objectives were achieved, in fact, the ex-president even had North Korea removed from the State Department’s list of “supporters of terrorism”. All the while, the North continued to develop its long-range ballistic-missile delivery system, the Taepodong 2, which will eventually be able to strike cities in the US.

The Bush policy turned out to be a disaster and was viciously criticized by former supporters on the right. Here’s what Claudia Rosett, of “The Rosett Report” (a favorite at the Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute) said at the time:

“The lesson to date is that America, faced with nuclear blackmail, will bow down, dignify and fortify tyrants, fork over loot, and celebrate the process as a victory for diplomacy. Were North Korea to detonate a nuclear bomb over Los Angeles tomorrow, I start to wonder if Condi Rice and Chris Hill, would describe the cataclysm as “troubling” and then re-cast it as a candid and informative addendum to North Korea’s promised declaration of its nuclear program.”

And here’s a blurp from neocon John Bolton:

“The only good news is that there is little opportunity for the Bush administration to make any further concessions in its waning days in office. But for many erstwhile administration supporters, this is a moment of genuine political poignancy. Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse.”

Now Obama wants to resume hostilities with the North, while expecting a different outcome than Bush; tougher sanctions, more military exercises, more pressure from allies, and a stubborn refusal to conduct bilateral negotiations. It’s madness. There’s been no change in the approach at all. If anything, Obama has taken a harder line than Bush.

And what does the North want?

The North wants what it has always wanted. It wants the US to honor its obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework. That’s it. All Obama needs to do to end the current standoff, is to keep his end of the bargain. Here’s how Jimmy Carter summed it up in a Washington Post op-ed (November 24, 2010):

“…in September 2005, an agreement that reaffirmed the basic premises of the 1994 accord. (The Agreed Framework) Its text included denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a pledge of non-aggression by the United States and steps to evolve a permanent peace agreement to replace the U.S.-North Korean-Chinese cease-fire that has been in effect since July 1953. Unfortunately, no substantive progress has been made since 2005…

This past July I was invited to return to Pyongyang to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, with the proviso that my visit would last long enough for substantive talks with top North Korean officials. They spelled out in detail their desire to develop a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a permanent cease-fire, based on the 1994 agreements and the terms adopted by the six powers in September 2005….

North Korean officials have given the same message to other recent American visitors and have permitted access by nuclear experts to an advanced facility for purifying uranium. The same officials had made it clear to me that this array of centrifuges would be “on the table” for discussions with the United States, although uranium purification – a very slow process – was not covered in the 1994 agreements.

Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during direct talks with the United States, it is ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the “temporary” cease-fire of 1953. We should consider responding to this offer. The unfortunate alternative is for North Koreans to take whatever actions they consider necessary to defend themselves from what they claim to fear most: a military attack supported by the United States, along with efforts to change the political regime.” (“North Korea’s consistent message to the U.S.”, President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post)

There it is in black and white. The US can end the conflict today by just keeping its word. Unfortunately, the United States never had any intention of meeting its obligations under the terms of the Agreed Framework or of resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. From the very beginning, the US stalled on its promise to build 2 lightwater reactors to meet the North’s electrical needs. None of the essential components–turbines or generators–were ever delivered. A foundation was built for one of the reactors, but nothing more. The US also agreed to organize an international consortium to guarantee funding for the reactors, but never followed through. The US never made any effort to keep its end of the bargain. So, (reluctantly) the North withdrew from the NPT and build 9 nuclear weapons. Of course, none of this appears in US media where it might interrupt the daily flow of anti-North Korea propaganda.

Bottom line: The reason there is no peace in Korea is because Washington doesn’t want peace. It’s that simple.

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in October 2015.

The Israeli army is using very dangerous weapons, which can be lethal, to disperse demonstrators who are just demonstrating. The rules of engagement that the Israeli army is using against Palestinian demonstrators simply violate every international law.

First of all, Israeli forces use high velocity bullets, which have already caused at least 300 injuries and taken the lives of many people.

Second, they use what they call “rubber bullets,” but these are not rubber bullets at all; it’s a misconception or misrepresentation to call them “rubber.”

There are two types of rubber bullets. One is a cylinder, but inside it you have a very heavy metal. Usually when it is shot from a close distance it penetrates the body and frequently it penetrates the brain and becomes fatal.It is also very dangerous when it hits the eye. Many Palestinians have lost eyes because of these kinds of bullets.

The other type of bullet they call “rubber” is not rubber at all but a very heavy shard, and this shard is covered with a very thin piece of plastic. Again, this is very dangerous and responsible for very serious injuries and it is misleading to keep saying that it is “rubber.”

Third, recently, Israeli forces started using this kind of bullet in a big quantity, they are heavy metallic bullets which are usually used against animals, but now they are using them against Palestinians.

You have what they call 0.22 bullets. The 0.22 bullet is a very small bullet, but it’s very dangerous because when it hits a vital organ or a major vein it can cause bleeding to death.The so-called 0.22 bullet is used by snipers and it has been responsible for the death and injury of many people. Even B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, issued a statement saying that their use is illegal.

Then you have the sponge, and the sponge is dangerous because it has taken away already 13 eyes, including 7 children who lost their eyes.They also use tear gas bombs, and they throw them in very big quantities, creating what we call “closed room effect”, which could kill people because of suffocation.We have already lost three women in previous years because of tear gas, they suffocated from tear gas. Sometimes Israeli forces fire up to 50 tear gas bombs at once and that can also have long term effects.

When you throw tear gas to disperse the crowd you throw one, two, three tear gas bombs, not fifty.Tear gas is also very dangerous because it is a chemical and we don’t know the long term effects of using such chemicals. Many people including myself have had serious bronchitis and laryngitis because of this. We think that long term and repeated exposure could be risky to people’s health.

Some neighbourhoods like Al-Aida camp in Bethlehem are very close to confrontation areas andare routinely exposed to tear gas, so children, families, everyone breathes in tear gas around the clock. The furniture is full of it, the walls, the beds, everything.

Then they use stun grenades, and stun grenades are dangerous especially when they are thrown directly at people. Many people have had severe injuries because they have had stun grenades thrown at them directly, and when they explode they can cause serious injuries. Some people have lot their hearing because of stun grenades.Tear gas bombs also, the metallic ones are especially dangerous because sometimes the army uses them as bullets in the sense that they direct them at someone. One of the guys who died from this, his heart stopped beating when the tear gas bomb hit him.

You should not shoot people when they are very far from you and when they present no risk to you. They start shooting when they see people in the distance.

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published by GR in October 2014 sheds light on the unfolding war in Syria, the crisis in the Gulf states and the confrontation between Russia and the US.

The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called ISIS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King. The unintended consequence will be to push Russia even faster to turn east to China and Eurasia.

One of the weirdest anomalies of the recent NATO bombing campaign, allegedly against the ISIS or IS or ISIL or Daash, depending on your preference, is the fact that with major war raging in the world’s richest oil region, the price of crude oil has been dropping, dramatically so. Since June when ISIS suddenly captured the oil-rich region of Iraq around Mosul and Kirkuk, the benchmark Brent price of crude oil dropped some 20% from $112 to about $88. World daily demand for oil has not dropped by 20% however. China oil demand has not fallen 20% nor has US domestic shale oil stock risen by 21%.

What has happened is that the long-time US ally inside OPEC, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC, with Iran following suit and panic selling short in oil futures markets. The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. [1] That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely.

The deal

According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria.[2]

When combined with the financial losses of Russian state natural gas sales to Ukraine and prospects of a US-instigated cutoff of the transit of Russian gas to the huge EU market this winter as EU stockpiles become low, the pressure on oil prices hits Moscow doubly. More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas.

The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. The strategy is similar to what the US did with Saudi Arabia in 1986 when they flooded the world with Saudi oil, collapsing the price to below $10 a barrel and destroying the economy of then-Soviet ally, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and, ultimately, of the Soviet economy, paving the way for the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, the hope is that a collapse of Russian oil revenues, combined with select pin-prick sanctions designed by the US Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence will dramatically weaken Putin’s enormous domestic support and create conditions for his ultimate overthrow. It is doomed to fail for many reasons, not the least, because Putin’s Russia has taken major strategic steps together with China and other nations to lessen its dependence on the West. In fact the oil weapon is accelerating recent Russian moves to focus its economic power on national interests and lessen dependence on the Dollar system. If the dollar ceases being the currency of world trade, especially oil trade, the US Treasury faces financial catastrophe. For this reason, I call the Kerry-Abdullah oil war a very stupid tactic.

The Kerry-Abdullah secret deal

On September 11, US Secretary of State Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. The King invited former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar to attend. There a deal was hammered out which saw Saudi support for the Syrian airstrikes against ISIS on condition Washington backed the Saudis in toppling Assad, a firm ally of Russia and de facto of Iran and an obstacle to Saudi and UAE plans to control the emerging EU natural gas market and destroy Russia’s lucrative EU trade. A report in the Wall Street Journal noted there had been “months of behind-the-scenes work by the US and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh US commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.” [3]

For the Saudis the war is between two competing age-old vectors of Islam. Saudi Arabia, home to the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina, claims de facto supremacy in the Islamic world of Sunni Islam. The Saudi Sunni form is ultra-conservative Wahhabism, named for an 18th Century Bedouin Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahha. The Taliban derive from Wahhabism with the aid of Saudi-financed religious instruction. The Gulf Emirates and Kuwait also adhere to the Sunni Wahhabism of the Saudis, as does the Emir of Qatar. Iran on the other hand historically is the heart of the smaller branch of Islam, the Shi’ite. Iraq’s population is some 61% majority Shi’ite. Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad is a member of a satellite of the Shi’ite branch known as Alawite. Some 23% of Turkey is also Alawite Muslim. To complicate the picture more, across a bridge from Saudi Arabia sits the tiny island country, Bahrain where as many as 75% of the population is Shi’ite but the ruling Al-Khalifa family is Sunni and firmly tied to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the richest Saudi oil region is dominated by Shi’ite Muslims who work the oil installations of Ras Tanura.

An oil and gas pipeline war

These historic fault lines inside Islam which lay dormant, were brought into a state of open warfare with the launching of the US State Department and CIA’s Islamic Holy War, otherwise known as the Arab Spring. Washington neo-conservatives embedded inside the Obama Administration in a form of “Deep State” secret network, and their allied media such as the Washington Post, advocated US covert backing of a pet CIA project known as the Muslim Brotherhood. As I detail in my most recent book, Amerikas’ Heiliger Krieg, the CIA had cultivated ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood death cult since the early 1950’s.

Now if we map the resources of known natural gas reserves in the entire Persian Gulf region, the motives of the Saudi-led Qatar and UAE in financing with billions of dollars the opposition to Assad, including the Sunni ISIS, becomes clearer. Natural gas has become the favored “clean energy” source for the 21st Century and the EU is the world’s largest growth market for gas, a major reason Washington wants to break the Gazprom-EU supply dependency to weaken Russia and keep control over the EU via loyal proxies like Qatar.

The world’s largest known natural gas reservoir sits in the middle of the Persian Gulf straddling part in the territorial waters of Qatar and part in Iran. The Iranian part is called North Pars. In 2006 China’s state-owned CNOOC signed an agreement with Iran to develop North Pars and build LNG infrastructure to bring the gas to China.[4]

The Qatar side of the Persian Gulf, called North Field, contains the world’s third largest known natural gas reserves behind Russia and Iran.

In July 2011, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed in the midst of the NATO-Saudi-Qatari war to remove Assad. The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. The agreement would make Syria the center of assembly and production in conjunction with the reserves of Lebanon. This is a geopolitically strategic space that geographically opens for the first time, extending from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.[5] As Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar put it, “The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord.”[6]

Shortly after signing with Iran and Iraq, on August 16, 2011, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Ministry of Oil announced the discovery of a gas well in the Area of Qarah in the Central Region of Syria near Homs. Gazprom, with Assad in power, would be a major investor or operator of the new gas fields in Syria. [7] Iran ultimately plans to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to the huge EU market. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field.[8]

Qatar, today the world’s largest exporter of LNG, largely to Asia, wants the same EU market that Iran and Syria eye. For that, they would build pipelines to the Mediterranean. Here is where getting rid of the pro-Iran Assad is essential. In 2009 Qatar approached Bashar al-Assad to propose construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar’s north Field through Syria on to Turkey and to the EU. Assad refused, citing Syria’s long friendly relations with Russia and Gazprom. That refusal combined with the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement in 2011 ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power, financing al Qaeda terrorists, recruits of Jihadist fanatics willing to kill Alawite and Shi’ite “infidels” for $100 a month and a Kalishnikov. The Washington neo-conservative warhawks in and around the Obama White House, along with their allies in the right-wing Netanyahu government, were cheering from the bleachers as Syria went up in flames after spring 2011.

Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal. The true aim of the US and Israel backed ISIS is to give the pretext for bombing Assad’s vital grain silos and oil refineries to cripple the economy in preparation for a “Ghaddafi-”style elimination of Russia and China and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad.

In a narrow sense, as Washington neo-conservatives see it, who controls Syria could control the Middle East. And from Syria, gateway to Asia, he will hold the key to Russia House, as well as that of China via the Silk Road.

Religious wars have historically been the most savage of all wars and this one is no exception, especially when trillions of dollars in oil and gas revenues are at stake. Why is the secret Kerry-Abdullah deal on Syria reached on September 11 stupid? Because the brilliant tacticians in Washington and Riyadh and Doha and to an extent in Ankara are unable to look at the interconnectedness of all the dis-order and destruction they foment, to look beyond their visions of control of the oil and gas flows as the basis of their illegitimate power. They are planting the seeds of their own destruction in the end.

*

William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics in the New World Order. He is a contributing author at BFP and may be contacted through his website at www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net where this article was originally published.

Notes:

[1] M. Rochan, Crude Oil Drops Amid Global Demand Concerns, IB Times, October 11, 2014     http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/crude-oil-drops-amid-global-demand-concerns-1469524

[2] Nihan Cabbaroglu, Saudi Arabia to pressure Russia Iran with price of oil, 10 October 2014, Turkish Anadolu Agency, http://www.aa.com.tr/en/economy/402343–saudi-arabia-to-pressure-russia-iran-with-price-of-oil

[3] Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, Deal With Saudis Paved Way for Syrian Airstrikes: Talks With Saudi Arabia Were Linchpin in U.S. Efforts to Get Arab States Into Fight Against Islamic State, Wall Street Journal, September. 24, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/deal-with-saudis-paved-way-for-syrian-airstrikes-1411605329?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

[4] POGC, North Pars Gas Field, Pars Oil and Gas Company website, http://www.pogc.ir/NorthParsGasField/tabid/155/Default.aspx

[5] Imad Fawzi Shueibi , War Over Gas–Struggle over the Middle East: Gas Ranks First, 17 April, 2012. http://www.voltairenet.org/article173718.html

[6] Pepe Escobar, Why Qatar Wants to Invade Syria, Asia Times, September 27, 2012, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32576.htm

[7] Ibid.

[8] F. William Engdahl, Syria Turkey Israel and the Greater Middle East Energy War, Global Research, October 11, 2012, http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-turkey-israel-and-the-greater-middle-east-energy-war/5307902

How to Stop Terrorism: Seven Ways to “Drain the Swamp”

March 2nd, 2018 by Washington's Blog

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in January 2015.

In the wake of the barbaric Paris terror attack, everyone is debating how to stop further terrorism.

Some say we need more war against Islamic countries … or more spying … or more crackdowns on our liberties.

But – despite what the talking heads may say – the methods for stopping future attacks are well known …

We’ve got to drain the swamp.

I. Stop Supporting the Dictators Who Fund Terrorists

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sponsor of radical Islamic terrorists.

The Saudis have backed ISIS and many other brutal terrorist groups.  According to sworn declarations from a 9/11 Commissioner and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11, the Saudi government backed the 9/11 hijackers (see section VII for details).

Saudi Arabia is the hotbed of the most radical Muslim terrorists in the world: the Salafis (both ISIS and Al Qaeda are Salafis).

And the Saudis – with U.S. support – back the radical “madrassas” in which Islamic radicalism was spread.

And yet the U.S. has been supporting the Saudis militarily, with NSA intelligence and in every other way possible for 70 years.

In addition, top American terrorism experts say that U.S. support for brutal and tyrannical countries in the Middle east – like Saudi Arabia – is one of the top motivators for Arab terrorists.

So if we stop supporting the House of Saud and other Arab tyrannies, we’ll get a two-fold reduction in terror:

(1) We’ll undermine the main terrorism supporters

And …

(2) We’ll take away one of the main motivations driving terrorists: our support for the most repressive, brutal Arab tyrannies

II. Stop Arming Terrorists

We’re arming the most violent terrorists in the Middle East, as part of a geopolitical strategy to overthrow leaders we don’t like (see section III for more details).   And see thisthisthisthis and this.

Previously-leaked documents showed that the CIA warned Obama that funding extremist rebels doesn’t work … but Obama decided to fund the Syrian rebels anyway for cynical political gain.

Indeed, the French terrorists who just murdered the cartoonists in Paris apparently just returned fromwaging war against the Syrian government, where they may – directly or indirectly – have obtained U.S. weapons and training.

And – strangely – we’re overthrowing the more moderate Arabs who stabilized the region and denied jihadis a foothold.

If we want to stop terrorism, we need to stop supporting the terrorists.

III. Stop Imperial Conquests for Arab Oil

The U.S. has undertaken regime change against Arab leaders we don’t like for six decades. We overthrew the leader of Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, Iraq twice, Afghanistan twice, Turkey, Libya … and other oil-rich countries.

Neoconservatives planned regime change throughout the Middle East and North Africa yet again in 1991.

Top American politicians admit that the Iraq oil was about oil, not stopping terrorism (documents from Britain show the same thing).    Much of the war on terror is really a fight for natural gas.  Or to force the last few hold-outs into dollars and private central banking.

And the U.S. military described terror attacks on the U.S. as a “small price to pay for being a superpower“:

A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.

Security experts – including both conservatives and liberals – agree that waging war in the Middle Eastweakens national security and increases terrorism. See thisthisthisthisthisthisthis and this.

For example, James K. Feldman – former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies – and other experts say that foreign occupation is the main cause of terrorism. University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – agrees.

We’ve fought the longest and most expensive wars in American history … but we’re less secure than before, and there are more terror attacks than ever.

Remember, Al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq until the U.S. invaded that country.

If we want to stop terrorism, we have to stop overthrowing Arab leaders and invading Arab countries to grab their oil.

IV. Stop Mass Surveillance

Top security experts agree that mass surveillance makes us MORE vulnerable to terrorists.

V.  Stop Torture

Top terrorism and interrogation experts agree that torture creates more terrorists.

Indeed, the leaders of ISIS were motivated by U.S. torture.

Once again, we have a very current example:  Paris terrorist Cherif Kouchi told a court in 2005 that he wasn’t radical until he learned about U.S. torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

If we want to stop creating new terrorists, we have to stop torturing … permanently.

VI.  Stop Drone Assassinations of Innocent Civilians

Top CIA officers say that drone strikes increase terrorism (and see this).

The CIA – the agency in charge of drone strikes – even told Obama that drone kills can increase terrorism.

If we want to stop creating new terrorists, we have to stop the drone strikes.

VII. Stop Covering Up 9/11

Government officials agree that 9/11 was state-sponsored terrorism … they just disagree on which state was responsible.

Because 9/11 was the largest terror attack on the U.S. in history – and all of our national security strategies are based on 9/11 – we can’t stop terror until we get to the bottom of what really happened, and which state was behind it.

Many high-level American officials – including military leadersintelligence officials and 9/11 commissioners – are dissatisfied with the 9/11 investigations to date.

The Co-Chair of the congressional investigation into 9/11 – Bob Graham – and 9/11 Commissioner and former Senator Bob Kerrey are calling for either a “permanent 9/11 commission” or a new 9/11 investigation to get to the bottom of it.

The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee (Bob Graham) said that the Paris terror attack, ISIS, and other terrorist developments are a result of failing to stand up to Saudi Arabia and declassify the 9/11 investigation’s report about Saudi involvement in 9/11:

The 9/11 chairs, Ron Paul, and numerous other American politicians have called for declassification, as well.

Again, others have different ideas about who was behind 9/11. But until we get to the bottom of it, terror attacks will continue.

Stop Throwing Bodies In the River

Defenders of current government policy say: “we have to do something to stop terrorists!”

Yes, we do …

But we must also stop doing the 7 things above which increase terrorism.  We have to stop “throwing new bodies in the river.”

But the powers-that-be don’t want to change course … they gain tremendous power and influence through our current war on terror strategies.

For example, the military-complex grows rich through war … so endless war is a feature – not a bug – of our foreign policy.

Torture was about building a false justification for war.

Mass surveillance is about economic and diplomatic advantage and crushing dissent.

Supporting the most radical Muslim leaders is about oil and power … “a small price to pay” to try to dominate the world.

A leading advisor to the U.S. military – the Rand Corporation – released a study in 2008 called “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida“.  The report confirms what experts have been saying for years: the war on terror is actually weakening national security (see thisthis and this).

As a press release about the study states:

“Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”

We, the People, have to stand up and demand that our power-hungry leaders stop doing the things which give them more power … but are guaranteed to increase terrorism against us, the civilian population.

Peace IS Possible If We Remain Committed to the Truth

March 1st, 2018 by Global Research

In these turbulent times, we believe in using every possible means to bring accurate and timely information to our readers. With increased global militarization and disinformation in the press, it is more important than ever to have a reliable news source that delivers the critical analysis that is ignored or manipulated by mainstream media. We are committed to curbing the tide of disinformation by stimulating public engagement and understanding. It’s time to come together and say NO to the US/NATO world order!

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Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in March 2016.

“The UN which was created to prevent the scourge of war, has become an instrument of war”. Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General, Re:  United Nations Security Council Resolution 678:

One of the most infamous  and provocative resolutions adopted in the history of the United Nations Security Council is Resolution 2270, adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter on March 2, 2016.  The unconscionable cruelty of this resolution literally taunts and baits the DPRK to react, as the resoslution strangles the economy of the DPRK, inevitably causing intolerable suffering to the people of that bullied nation.

The demonization of North Korea is based on the grossest of double standards, and fraudulent testimony by defectors from the DPRK who were paid large sums of money to provide sensational and gruesome descriptions of human rights abuses in the DPRK, testimony both lurid and lucrative, and which was later proven to be false, and withdrawn by these same defectors who had so blatantly lied.  This has been documented by The New York Times and the The Guardian of Britain.

It is impossible to ignore the possibility that Resolution 2270 is intended to facilitate a sinister agenda, which could very likely culminate in largescale warfare in East Asia, pulverizing North Korea, inevitably leading to massive bloodshed in both North and South Korea, and forcing the People’s Republic of China to increase military spending to the detriment of its social programs and its success in raising hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty.

The hypocrisy and double standards of this resolution are brazen to the point of barbarity, considering the enormity of suffering it inflicts upon the lives of North Koreans as a consequence of this action, which shames the United Nations Security Council.

By prohibiting ( No. “30” of the resolution) the DPRK’s export and sale of 50% of the minerals ( gold, titanium, vanadium, rare earth minerals, probably coal),   upon the export of which the survival of the country’s economy depends, this resolution devastates North Korea’s economy, and condemns the citizens of the DPRK to rampant starvation.

No. “17” of the resolution

“Decides that all Member States shall prevent specialized teaching or training of DPRK nationals within their territories or by their nationals…of advanced physics, advanced computer simulation and related computer sciences, geospatial navigation, nuclear engineering and related disciplines.”

Resolution 2270 thereby condemns the DPRK to intellectual impoverishment, and a primitive level in science, and, especially medicine (so much of which now depends on advanced, sophisticated computer technology and advanced nuclear engineering for swift diagnosis and options indispensable for treatment of cancers and other pathological medical conditions and illnesses, etc.

This resolution is a consequence of the ongoing demonization of North Korea,  a tiny, country which proudly defends a social and economic system which is anathema to the capitalist “west” and US-NATO powers, unlike obedient South Korea, which is regarded by the USA as merely a military base, to the humiliation of the South Koreans, many of whom cautiously confide their anger at being a mere colony hostage to the West.

The contrivances and slanders used to degrade and torment the DPRK follow the now predictable pattern that we saw with the UN Security Council adoption of Resolution 678 in 1990, which led to the annihilation of Iraq and murder of Saddam Hussein, and the spread of the most vicious terrorism;  the adoption of Resolution 1973 which obliterated Libya as a functioning state, lawlessly committed the extrajudicial murder of Khaddafi, and transformed Libya into an incubator of exponentially increasing terrorism, worldwide. And now,  on December 22, 2014, in violation of its mandate, and following reports of human rights abuses which have been exposed as fraudulent, the Security Council, against the opposition by Russia and China, put the “Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK” on its agenda, urging the Security Council to refer this concocted matter to the International Criminal Court, despite the fact that at a press stakeout after that meeting, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic admitted that the testimony of defectors which was used as the basis for the Report of the Commission of Inquiry (S/2014/276) would not meet the standard of proof required for consideration as evidence admissible in court.

At that December, 2014 meeting the Permanent Representative of the United States, who ferrets out the most lurid and practically pornographic details, stated at that Council meeting: “A former guard testified that the baby of a political prisoner had been cooked and fed to animals.”  The US permanent Representative ignored the fact that the US Senate Torture Report had been recently released (after fierce attempts to conceal its findings)  confirming (in grossly redacted form) that often innocent prisoners of the US Army had been subjected to horrifying tortures,  several prisoners had been waterboarded more than 180 times, along with other atrocities.

And her conveniently, or irresponsibly selective memory ignores the fact that the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, in Chile, installed and supported by the US government, had a standard practice of forcing live rats up the vaginas of female political prisoners, after submerging their heads in vats of excrement, and in an op ed piece by Anthony Lewis of the NY Times, he reported documentation of the Chilean government forcing hungry live rats up the bleeding naked legs and torso of political prisoner Sergio Buschman, enabling the rats to eat whatever they found most edible.  When it comes to pornographic torture of political prisoners, the inventiveness of the US military and its client states is probably unsurpassed.  Veronica di Negri, one of the Chilean women who suffered the sexual torture using rats, had a teenage son who participated in a peaceful demonstration to restore democracy in Chile;  the Chilean military poured gasoline over her son, Rodrigo Rojas di Negri, set him on fire and he died in agony.  All this is documented in The Washington Post in an article by David Remnick.

This is only the prelude.  Reports in the NY Times and the British Guardian document that not only are many of the DPRK defectors’ reports proven to be fraudulent, those very defectors, upon whose fraudulent testimony the UN Commission of Inquiry is based, (testimony which was later retracted by the defectors themselves), had initially been paid large sums of money – upwards of $500 per hour for the most sensational, shocking inventions.

Shin Dong-hyuk, whose fanciful 2012 book “Escape from Camp 14” translated into 27 languages, met with Navi Pillay, the former UN Human Rights Chief, and his fabrications formed the basis for the UN Commission of inquiry.  Shin subsequently retracted central parts of his account, and apologized for betraying the trust of the gullible “investigators” who eagerly sought and seized upon his lurid details.  According to the Guardian:

“Shin is not alone.  Another North Korean defector, Lee Soon-ok offered testimony to the US House of Representatives in 2004 describing torture and the killing of Christians in hot iron liquid in a North Korean political prison.  But Lee’s testimony was challenged by Chang In-suk, then head of the North Korean defector’s association in Seoul, who knew first hand that Lee had never been a political prisoner.  Many former DPRK citizens agreed Lee’s accounts were unlikely to be true….Cash payments in return for interviews with North Korean refugees have been standard practice in the field for years….A government official from the South Korean ministry of unification said the range of fees could vary wildly, depending on the quality of the information….How does the payment change the relation between a researcher and an interviewee, and what effect will it have on the story itself?  This practice drives the demand for “salable stories,” the more shocking or emotional, the higher the fee.”

So much for the double standards which dictate Security Council action.  There is now more than reasonable doubt about the validity of the Commission of Inquiry report upon which the UN Security Council is basing its effort to refer the DPRK to the International Criminal Court.  Isolation, stigmatization, slander, defamation and demonization of DPRK is so fashionable and lucrative an industry today that there can be little doubt about the agenda driving this.  “Crimes of War,” edited by Dr. Richard Falk and psychologist Robert Jay Lifton documents stage one in preparing an attack upon a people:  dehumanization, and this stage has already been accomplished among those conforming with the program.  Once dehumanized, it is easy to massacre and exterminate a people, overtly or covertly.  DPRK is one of the few remaining socialist countries in the world, proud and defiant of the will of the capitalist behemoth, and for this it is being crucified.

On September 27, 2014, Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong of the DPRK stated at the UN General Assembly:

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula had reached the touch-and-go brink of war last year.  It was started with the United States-South Korea joint military exercises aimed at “occupying” the capital city, Pyongyang of the DPRK.  In January this year, the government of the DPRK made a proposal to stop military hostile acts against each other on the Korean peninsula, but these provocative joint military exercises against the DPRK were forcibly conducted in March-April and in August as well.  The government of the DPRK officially referred to the Security Council the issue of suspending such war exercises which seriously endanger peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the region as a whole.  However the Security Council turned its back… At present, the government of the DPRK set forth the economic construction and improvement of people’s living standard as its major task.  Accordingly, peaceful environment is a vital necessity for us to lead the just picked-up upward trend of the national economy to a sustainable development.”

According to Al Jazeera last week:

“If the current sanctions are enforced systematically, North Korea would suffer a major blow.  Its economy, which began to recover in recent years, is likely to shrink again, and its living standards will certainly go down.  According to Foster Klug on CNS news, “Analysts say one part of North Korea’s traditional anger over drills is that they force the impoverished country to respond with its own costly war games.”

On March 2, the UN Security Council inflicted this brutal resolution on the DPRK, crippling the country’s economy.  Five days later, the US and South Korea began the two month military operation “Key Resolve,” and ”Foal Eagle,” which include the “beheading operation” that plans to remove the DPRK government, colorfully describing the fate of the North Korean President in a manner identical to the practice of ISIS:  beheading.  According to China Daily, “The exercises this year are reported to be carried out on the largest scale, mobilizing the highest tech weapons.”

After witnessing the fate of Libya’s country and leader after Khadaffi abandoned his nuclear program, under no realistic circumstances could the DPRK abandon its nuclear program.  Further, the question must be asked:  who has the right to demand this?  There are nine nuclear powers today, and only the US has ever used  nuclear weapons, as a demonstration exercise on civilian human guinea pigs, to intimidate the USSR.

At  the March 2, 2016 Security Council meeting, once again, gross hypocrisy and double standards were revealed by the Permanent Representative of the US, who sanctimoniously and disingenuously began:

“In looking at the DPRK, it can at times feel as though one is seeing two entirely different realities.  One is the DPRK that is expending tremendous resources in pursuing advanced technology to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying out a nuclear strike a continent away.  The other is the DPRK in which according to a joint assessment conducted by the World Food Program and the North Korean government, 25 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth as a result of chronic malnutrition.”

One can only question the US Permanent Representative’s awareness of reality in the country she represents:  last weekend the US government celebrated the launching of the attack submarine named “Washington,” the cost of building which was huge, and the US yearly spends more than 612 billion dollars for the military, which it deploys in 150 countries around the world, while only  9 weeks before, the Financial Times reported, December 11, 2015, that twenty percent of US citizens live below the poverty line, and homelessness is a national scandal.  The US Permanent Representative’s description of North Korea appears to be a paranoid projection of the economic priorities of the country she currently represents.

While 17,000 US troops and 300,000 South Korean troops threaten the DPRK’s survival with yearly military drills rehearsing “occupying Pyongyang” and “Beheading operation,” which would justify the DPRK’s invoking Article 51 of the UN Charter guaranteeing the “inherent right of self defense” against armed attack, the US-South Korean military has widened its threat and its target, and is now engaged in preparations to deploy THAAD missiles (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) in South Korea.  In an interview with Reuters in Munich, Germany, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated:

“China is gravely concerned about the US’s such probable move.  The coverage of the THAAD missile defense system, especially the monitoring scope of its X-Band radar, goes far beyond the defense need of the Korean Peninsula.  It will reach deep into the hinterland of Asia, which will not only directly damage China’s strategic security interests, but also do harm to the security interests of other countries in this region.  There are two old Chinese sayings, one of which goes: ‘Xiang Zuang performed the sword dance as a cover for his attempt on Liu Bang’s life,’ and the other one goes: ‘Sima Zhao’s trick is obvious to everyone on the street-the villainous design is apparent.’  We firmly oppose any country to utilize the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula to jeopardize China’s legitimate rights and interests.”

On January 27, 2016 The New York Times reported that “China has accused Washington of using the North Korean nuclear tests as an excuse to deploy the THAAD missile system in South Korea.”  According to Wang Junsheng, a research fellow on Northeast Asia at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:  “It is simply the US technically trying to deter China and Russia with these missiles, and strategically alienating South Korea from China.” Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated:

“It doesn’t require experts.  Ordinary people know that the deployment of the THAAD system is not just to defend South Korea, but a wider agenda and may even serve the possibility of targeting China.”

Indeed, Japan’s “apology” to South Korea over the “comfort women” issue was made under pressure from the United States, which seeks to cement a coalition of Japan, South Korea and other Asian “allies” to confront and encircle China.  In February 2014 the annual exercise between Japan and the US in Camp Pendleton California, called “Iron Fist,” was the largest operation ever, and included drones and air support used to cover troops bombing and invading an island prior to its capture.  Russia is encircled by NATO bases in the West, and THAAD missiles in South Korea would complete the encirclement of Russia with the THAAD missile system on the East.

There is the ominous possibility that the recklessly punitive Resolution 2270 could entirely collapse the DPRK, driving a flood of refugees into China fleeing the oncoming hordes of the United States and South Korea.  This would inflame the entire area, and one cannot expect China to remain passive with hostile troops on its border.  Slightly more than two years ago, the Yale Journal of International Affairs published an extraordinary article by the great sociologist and former adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Amitai Etzioni.  Dr. Etzioni’s article is entitled:  “Who Authorized Preparations for War with China?”  Last year Dr. Etzioni discussed with me, personally, his alarm over these stealthy preparations.

As usual every effort will be made to provide a cosmetic veneer of legitimacy for such an act of aggression, as step by step the infrastructure is being contrived for a terrifying outcome which will very likely become inevitable.  The destruction of Korea will be merely “collateral damage” in any deadly confrontation between two global super powers.  And the United Nations Security Council has been distorted and manipulated to facilitate, once again, the scourge of war.  This is irresponsible to an extreme.

The purpose of Reagan’s “Star Wars” was to lure the USSR into an arms race requiring vast investment in the military, to the detriment of the social programs of socialism, resulting in the Soviet people’s frustration and disillusionment, which contributed to the collapse of the Soviet state.  The capitalist powers could then gloat that “socialism failed.”  The purpose of THAAD is to lure China into a similar distortion of its economic investment priorities, so that after having lifted a half billion people out of poverty, evidence of the extraordinary success of their economic system (as confirmed by Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz), they will become trapped in an arms race which will cripple their ability to continue raising the living standards of their people, leading to social frustration and disillusionment similar to that suffered by the Soviet peoples during their arms race, and ultimately weakening the structure, and possibly the viability of the Chinese state.

In 1992 I had a long, personal conversation with Ambassador Yuliy Vorontsev, the last Soviet Ambassador to the UN, and the first Russian Ambassador to the UN, regarding this very arms race.  Ambassador Vorontsev stated:

“We had enough weapons to defend ourselves.  But we were provoked to invest more in the military, and we should not have risen to the bait.  To quote Tallyrand:  ‘We committed something worse than a crime;  we committed a blunder.’”

With the destruction of the DPRK, China would become extremely vulnerable, and with the placement of THAAD in South Korea, an arms race would be provoked.  This would be profitable for the “one percent” in the capitalist powers, who profit from the military-industrial arms buildup, and profit enormously from war.  But it would destroy all that China has accomplished, and its model for a saner, more humanitarian world.  And the ensuing tsunami of bloodshed would be the legacy of the United Nations Security Council.   One can only question why Russia and China did not veto SC Resolution2270, especially as Russia stated during that meeting:

“Russia is very seriously worried about the negative trends and the way the situation in North-East Asia has been developing.  We are concerned about attempts to use the actions of Pyongyang as a justification for military build-up in the region including of offensive weapons and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.  The resolution we have adopted today should not be used to choke off the North Korean economy.  In that regard we are concerned about the hasty introduction, even before today’s resolution was adopted, of unilateral sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which could have very negative humanitarian consequences for the many millions of inhabitants of the country, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

China stated:

“China opposes the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system on the Korean peninsula because such an action harms the strategic security interests of China and other countries of the region, goes against the goal of maintaining peace, security and stability of the peninsula and will seriously undermine the efforts of the international community to find a political solution to the question of the Korean peninsula.”

It is the passionate dream of many of the Korean people, both North and South, to reunify.  The passage of UNSC Resolution 2270 makes this dream now a fantasy, and a form of magical thinking in a context where, absent dramatic change in the global economic architecture, war and bloodshed are most likely.

Under the best of circumstances this long cherished Korean hope for reunification will be excruciatingly difficult to accomplish.  However, the current situation seems to be the worst of circumstances.  Transformation of the economic structure and priorities of the capitalist West would provide the most favorable context in which this more than half-century longing of the Korean peoples for reunification may finally become a reality.

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in October 2016.

A young man, wearing a white helmet and a distinctive yellow-and-blue badge on his arm, digs for four hours in the rubble of a destroyed building in Idlib Province in northwest Syria. Finally, he sees what he’s looking for: an infant. He takes her to an ambulance like she is his own child.

This is how the Western media portray the volunteers of Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets. But what does the reality look like?

It’s not a secret that since the Syrian crisis began in 2011, dozens of NGOs have been set up. As a rule, these organizations have a pretty title and stand for the rights and freedoms of the Syrians while providing some humanitarian aid.

In 2012, these organizations list had Syrian Civil Defense included. It was founded by a former British intelligence officer and private security specialist James Le Mesurier who took part in various conflicts around the world including Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

In a few years, Syrian Civil Defense turned from an NGO into a structure with its own uniform, symbols and even vehicles. It has 119 centers across whole Syria: in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Homs, Hama, Damascus. 2016 even saw an attempt to nominate the White Helmets for Nobel peace prize. However, only few remember that its volunteers appeared exactly in the areas captured by the opposition and refused to let there the representatives of Red Crescent and Red Cross.

The Helmets claim that their organization is an unbiased humanitarian NGO, without any official allegiance to a political party or military group.

Alongside, the Helmets receive vast donations from various governments – the UK, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. But their biggest donor is US Agency for International Development (USAID) financing NGOs across the world. In April of 2016, US State Department Spokesman Mark Toner confirmed that since 2013 the agency granted the Helmets at least $23 million.

Obviously, receiving such donations Syrian Civil Defense will have to promote the interests of those countries which invest in it. A bright example is the Sept. 19 attack on the UN humanitarian convoy by Aleppo. The White Helmets volunteers “accidentally” appeared by the site and were first to report about the attack and immediately accused the Syrian and Russian aviation.

The volunteers allegedly found some air bombs pieces and saw Syrian helicopters by the site. This information was cited by London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Then, the US government made a conclusion based on the so-called Syrian NGO’s report.

A peculiar fact is that humanitarian activists turned up in an area controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group. But if we look deeper everything becomes clear.

Vanessa Beeley, a British expert focused on the Middle East, says the While Helmets are forming an environment for the US and its allies’ military invasion into Syria and are collaborating with various terrorist groups.

According to her, the organization operates in the areas controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra and not just ignores the crimes committed by terrorists but is trying to create a favorable image of them in the media.

For instance, another proof of a link between the Helmets and terrorists is the fact that on April 20, 2016 the head of the organization Raed Saleh was refused entry arriving in the US where he came to receive an award from InterAction, an alliance of aid agencies. According to the official version, his visa expired but New York Times supposed he was recognized as a terrorist suspect.

Moreover, many White Helmet activists are the members of armed groups. There is much evidence of their sympathy towards not just the opposition but terrorists. Helmets are fond of sharing photos and comments on Twitter and Facebook showing who really works in the so-called Syrian Civil Defense.

It becomes clear that the White Helmets are not just a humanitarian organization but a cover used to support the militants of various terrorist groups. Besides, the Helmets can be used to disseminate the required fake information: Civil Defense activists constantly publish on their Twitter the photos of hospitals, schools and mosques bombings allegedly carried out by the Syrian AF and its allies. Then, there comes a turn for Observatory for Human Rights and several Western media.

However, experienced journalists bring into question the White Helmets’ information verity. An independent Italian Journalist Marinella Correggia found out that no medical organization ever stated that any of its structure was hit during the attacks of the Syrian or Russian AFs. Not a single building damaged or destroyed by bombings had the required identification signs. The Italian researches came to conclusion that these buildings located near militant groups were terrorists’ field hospitals and had no connection with any state’s healthcare system or international organizations like Red Cross.

Obviously, Syrian Civil Defense doesn’t pursue the goals its heads propose. The Helmets don’t just provide humanitarian aid but collaborate with terrorist groups.

Clearly, the information about the attack on the UN convoy near Aleppo and other crimes allegedly committed by the Syrian AF and its allies provided by the Helmets is rather doubtful. The investigation the UN is planning to start must be based not on the Helmets’ allegations but on the objective information provided by all sides of the conflict.

Thus, the Western-media-created image of a savior wearing a white helmet disappears and reality is exposed: the uniform of a humanitarian organization is worn by people who sympathize with terrorists.

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Featured image: Ernst David Bergmann, first chairman of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Speaking at the opening of “Atoms for Peace” exhibition in Israel, 1956 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This carefully documented report on Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal, first published by Global Research in 2002 reveals the nature and size of Israel’s thermonuclear arsenal.

Is it a concern?

Israel has 20 times more nuclear weapons than North Korea and the international community turns a blind eye.

Are Israeli nukes slated to used against Iran?

***

“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.” Seymour Hersh(1)

“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Ariel Sharon(2)

With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal.

Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publicly recognized as such.  Since the Gulf War in 1991, while much attention has been lavished on the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the major culprit in the region, Israel, has been largely ignored. Possessing chemical and biological weapons, an extremely sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and an aggressive strategy for their actual use, Israel provides the major regional impetus for the development of weapons of mass destruction and represents an acute threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. The Israeli nuclear program represents a serious impediment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and, with India and Pakistan, is a potential nuclear flashpoint (prospects of meaningful non-proliferation are a delusion so long as the nuclear weapons states insist on maintaining their arsenals). Citizens concerned about sanctions against Iraq, peace with justice in the Middle East, and nuclear disarmament have an obligation to speak out forcefully against the Israeli nuclear program.

Birth of the Israeli Bomb

The Israeli nuclear program began in the late 1940s under the direction of Ernst David Bergmann, “the father of the Israeli bomb,” who in 1952 established the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. It was France, however, which provided the bulk of early nuclear assistance to Israel culminating in construction of Dimona, a heavy water moderated, natural uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing factory situated near Bersheeba in the Negev Desert. Israel had been an active participant in the French Nuclear weapons program from its inception, providing critical technical expertise, and the Israeli nuclear program can be seen as an extension of this earlier collaboration. Dimona went on line in 1964 and plutonium reprocessing began shortly thereafter. Despite various Israeli claims that Dimona was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory,” the extreme security measures employed told a far different story. In 1967, Israel shot down one of their own Mirage fighters that approached too close to Dimona and in 1973 shot down a Lybian civilian airliner which strayed off course, killing 104.(3) There is substantial credible speculation that Israel may have exploded at least one, and perhaps several, nuclear devices in the mid 1960s in the Negev near the Israeli-Egyptian border, and that it participated actively in French nuclear tests in Algeria.(4) By the time of the “Yom Kippur War” in 1973, Israel possessed an arsenal of perhaps several dozen deliverable atomic bombs and went on full nuclear alert.(5)

Possessing advanced nuclear technology and “world class” nuclear scientists, Israel was confronted early with a major problem- how to obtain the necessary uranium. Israel’s own uranium source was the phosphate deposits in the Negev, totally inadequate to meet the need of a rapidly expanding program. The short term answer was to mount commando raids in France and Britain to successfully hijack uranium shipments and, in1968, to collaborate with West Germany in diverting 200 tons of yellowcake (uranium oxide).(6) These clandestine acquisitions of uranium for Dimona were subsequently covered up by the various countries involved. There was also an allegation that a U.S. corporation called Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) diverted hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium to Israel from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.

The Negev Nuclear Research Center as viewed from a Corona satellite in the late 1960s (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Despite an FBI and CIA investigation, and Congressional hearings, no one was ever prosecuted, although most other investigators believed the diversion had occurred(7)(8). In the late 1960s, Israel solved the uranium problem by developing close ties with South Africa in a quid pro quo arrangement whereby Israel supplied the technology and expertise for the “Apartheid Bomb,” while South Africa provided the uranium.

South Africa and the United States

In 1977, the Soviet Union warned the U.S. that satellite photos indicated South Africa was planning a nuclear test in the Kalahari Desert but the Apartheid regime backed down under pressure. On September 22, 1979, a U.S. satellite detected an atmospheric test of a small thermonuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa but, because of Israel’s apparent involvement, the report was quickly “whitewashed” by a carefully selected scientific panel kept in the dark about important details. Later it was learned through Israeli sources that there were actually three carefully guarded tests of miniaturized Israeli nuclear artillery shells. The Israeli/South African collaboration did not end with the bomb testing, but continued until the fall of Apartheid, especially with the developing and testing of medium range missiles and advanced artillery. In addition to uranium and test facilities, South Africa provided Israel with large amounts of investment capital, while Israel provided a major trade outlet to enable the Apartheid state avoid international economic sanctions.(9)

Although the French and South Africans were primarily responsible for the Israeli nuclear program, the U.S. shares and deserves a large part of the blame. Mark Gaffney wrote (the Israeli nuclear program) “was possible only because (emphasis in original) of calculated deception on the part of Israel, and willing complicity on the part of the U.S..”(10)

From the very beginning, the U.S. was heavily involved in the Israeli nuclear program, providing nuclear related technology such as a small research reactor in 1955 under the “Atoms for Peace Program.” Israeli scientists were largely trained at U.S. universities and were generally welcomed at the nuclear weapons labs. In the early 1960s, the controls for the Dimona reactor were obtained clandestinely from a company called Tracer Lab, the main supplier of U.S. military reactor control panels, purchased through a Belgian subsidiary, apparently with the acquiescence of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.(11) In 1971, the Nixon administration approved the sale of hundreds of krytons(a type of high speed switch necessary to the development of sophisticated nuclear bombs) to Israel.(12) And, in 1979, Carter provided ultra high resolution photos from a KH-11 spy satellite, used 2 years later to bomb the Iraqi Osirak Reactor.(13) Throughout the Nixon and Carter administrations, and accelerating dramatically under Reagan, U.S. advanced technology transfers to Israel have continued unabated to the present.

The Vanunu Revelations

Mordechai Vanunu (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Following the 1973 war, Israel intensified its nuclear program while continuing its policy of deliberate “nuclear opaqueness.” Until the mid-1980s, most intelligence estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal were on the order of two dozen but the explosive revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician working in the Dimona plutonium reprocessing plant, changed everything overnight. A leftist supporter of Palestine, Vanunu believed that it was his duty to humanity to expose Israel’s nuclear program to the world. He smuggled dozens of photos and valuable scientific data out of Israel and in 1986 his story was published in the London Sunday Times. Rigorous scientific scrutiny of the Vanunu revelations led to the disclosure that Israel possessed as many as 200 highly sophisticated, miniaturized thermonuclear bombs. His information indicated that the Dimona reactor’s capacity had been expanded several fold and that Israel was producing enough plutonium to make ten to twelve bombs per year. A senior U.S. intelligence analyst said of the Vanunu data,”The scope of this is much more extensive than we thought. This is an enormous operation.”(14)

Just prior to publication of his information Vanunu was lured to Rome by a Mossad “Mata Hari,” was beaten, drugged and kidnapped to Israel and, following a campaign of disinformation and vilification in the Israeli press, convicted of “treason” by a secret security court and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He served over 11 years in solitary confinement in a 6 by 9 foot cell. After a year of modified release into the general population(he was not permitted contact with Arabs), Vanunu recently has been returned to solitary and faces more than 3 years further imprisonment. Predictably, The Vanunu revelations were largely ignored by the world press, especially in the United States, and Israel continues to enjoy a relatively free ride regarding its nuclear status. (15)

Israel’s Arsenal of Mass Destruction

Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow, cruise missiles, land mines (In the 1980s Israel planted nuclear land mines along the Golan Heights(17)), and artillery shells with a range of 45 miles(18). In June, 2000 an Israeli submarine launched a cruise missile which hit a target 950 miles away, making Israel only the third nation after the U.S. and Russia with that capability. Israel will deploy 3 of these virtually impregnable submarines, each carrying 4 cruise missiles.(19)

The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.”

Israel also possesses a comprehensive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. According to the Sunday Times, Israel has produced both chemical and biological weapons with a sophisticated delivery system, quoting a senior Israeli intelligence official,

“There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon . . .which is not manufactured at the Nes Tziyona Biological Institute.”(20)

The same report described F-16 fighter jets specially designed for chemical and biological payloads, with crews trained to load the weapons on a moments notice. In 1998, the Sunday Times reported that Israel, using research obtained from South Africa, was developing an “ethno bomb; “In developing their “ethno-bomb”, Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying distinctive a gene carried by some Arabs, then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus… The scientists are trying to engineer deadly micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes.” Dedi Zucker, a leftist Member of Knesset, the Israeli parliament, denounced the research saying,

“Morally, based on our history, and our tradition and our experience, such a weapon is monstrous and should be denied.”(21)

Israeli Nuclear Strategy

In popular imagination, the Israeli bomb is a “weapon of last resort,” to be used only at the last minute to avoid annihilation, and many well intentioned but misled supporters of Israel still believe that to be the case. Whatever truth this formulation may have had in the minds of the early Israeli nuclear strategists, today the Israeli nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy. As Seymour Hersh says in classic understatement:

“The Samson Option is no longer the only nuclear option available to Israel.”(22)

Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union(and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War) One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”(23) (In 1983 Sharon proposed to India that it join with Israel to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities; in the late 70s he proposed sending Israeli paratroopers to Tehran to prop up the Shah; and in 1982 he called for expanding Israel’s security influence to stretch from “Mauritania to Afghanistan.”) In another example, Israeli nuclear expert Oded Brosh said in 1992,

“…we need not be ashamed that the nuclear option is a major instrumentality of our defense as a deterrent against those who attack us.”(24)

According to Israel Shahak,

“The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is.” and “Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states…. Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…, without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”(25)

Israel uses its nuclear arsenal not just in the context of deterrence” or of direct war fighting, but in other more subtle but no less important ways. For example, the possession of weapons of mass destruction can be a powerful lever to maintain the status quo, or to influence events to Israel’s perceived advantage, such as to protect the so called moderate Arab states from internal insurrection, or to intervene in inter-Arab warfare.(26) In Israeli strategic jargon this concept is called “nonconventional compellence” and is exemplified by a quote from Shimon Peres; “acquiring a superior weapons system (read nuclear) would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes- that is forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands, which presumably include a demand that the traditional status quo be accepted and a peace treaty signed.”(27) From a slightly different perspective, Robert Tuckerr asked in a Commentary magazine article in defense of Israeli nukes,

“What would prevent Israel… from pursuing a hawkish policy employing a nuclear deterrent to freeze the status quo?”(28)

Possessing an overwhelming nuclear superiority allows Israel to act with impunity even in the face world wide opposition. A case in point might be the invasion of Lebanon and destruction of Beirut in 1982, led by Ariel Sharon, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, most civilian. Despite the annihilation of a neighboring Arab state, not to mention the utter destruction of the Syrian Air Force, Israel was able to carry out the war for months at least partially due to its nuclear threat.

Another major use of the Israeli bomb is to compel the U.S. to act in Israel’s favor, even when it runs counter to its own strategic interests. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, head of the French A-bomb project wrote

“We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, ‘If you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us; otherwise we will use our nuclear bombs.'”(29)

During the 1973 war, Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift massive amounts of military hardware to Israel. The Israeli Ambassador, Simha Dinitz, is quoted as saying, at the time,

“If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and…we will have to draw very serious conclusions…”(30)

Just one example of this strategy was spelled out in 1987 by Amos Rubin, economic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said

“If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.”(31)

Since then Israel’s nuclear arsenal has expanded exponentially, both quantitatively and qualitatively, while the U.S. money spigots remain wide open.

Regional and International Implications

Largely unknown to the world, the Middle East nearly exploded in all out war on February 22, 2001. According to the London Sunday Times and DEBKAfile, Israel went on high missile alert after receiving news from the U.S. of movement by 6 Iraqi armored divisions stationed along the Syrian border, and of launch preparations of surface to surface missiles. DEBKAfile, an Israeli based “counter-terrorism” information service, claims that the Iraqi missiles were deliberately taken to the highest alert level in order to test the U.S. and Israeli response. Despite an immediate attack by 42 U.S. and British war planes, the Iraqis suffered little apparent damage.(32) The Israelis have warned Iraq that they are prepared to use neutron bombs in a preemptive attack against Iraqi missiles.

Third stage of Israeli space launch vehicle Shavit (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Israeli nuclear arsenal has profound implications for the future of peace in the Middle East, and indeed, for the entire planet. It is clear from Israel Shahak that Israel has no interest in peace except that which is dictated on its own terms, and has absolutely no intention of negotiating in good faith to curtail its nuclear program or discuss seriously a nuclear-free Middle East, “Israel’s insistence on the independent use of its nuclear weapons can be seen as the foundation on which Israeli grand strategy rests.”(34) According to Seymour Hersh,

“the size and sophistication of Israel’s nuclear arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear force.”(35)

General Amnon Shahak-Lipkin, former Israeli Chief of Staff is quoted

“It is never possible to talk to Iraq about no matter what; It is never possible to talk to Iran about no matter what. Certainly about nuclearization. With Syria we cannot really talk either.”(36)

Ze’ev Shiff, an Israeli military expert writing in Haaretz said,

“Whoever believes that Israel will ever sign the UN Convention prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons… is day dreaming,”(37)

and Munya Mardoch, Director of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry, said in 1994,

“The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of Vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.”(38)

As Israeli society becomes more and more polarized, the influence of the radical right becomes stronger. According to Shahak,

“The prospect of Gush Emunim, or some secular right-wing Israeli fanatics, or some some of the delirious Israeli Army generals, seizing control of Israeli nuclear weapons…cannot be precluded. …while Israeli Jewish society undergoes a steady polarization, the Israeli security system increasingly relies on the recruitment of cohorts from the ranks of the extreme right.”(39)

The Arab states, long aware of Israel’s nuclear program, bitterly resent its coercive intent, and perceive its existence as the paramount threat to peace in the region, requiring their own weapons of mass destruction. During a future Middle Eastern war (a distinct possibility given the ascension of Ariel Sharon, an unindicted war criminal with a bloody record stretching from the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Quibya in 1953, to the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and beyond) the possible Israeli use of nuclear weapons should not be discounted. According to Shahak,

“In Israeli terminology, the launching of missiles on to Israeli territory is regarded as ‘nonconventional’ regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas.”(40) (Which requires a “nonconventional” response, a perhaps unique exception being the Iraqi SCUD attacks during the Gulf War.)

Meanwhile, the existence of an arsenal of mass destruction in such an unstable region in turn has serious implications for future arms control and disarmament negotiations, and even the threat of nuclear war. Seymour Hersh warns,

“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.”(41)

and Ezar Weissman, Israel’s current President said

“The nuclear issue is gaining momentum(and the) next war will not be conventional.”(42)

Russia and before it the Soviet Union has long been a major(if not the major) target of Israeli nukes. It is widely reported that the principal purpose of Jonathan Pollard’s spying for Israel was to furnish satellite images of Soviet targets and other super sensitive data relating to U.S. nuclear targeting strategy. (43) (Since launching its own satellite in 1988, Israel no longer needs U.S. spy secrets.) Israeli nukes aimed at the Russian heartland seriously complicate disarmament and arms control negotiations and, at the very least, the unilateral possession of nuclear weapons by Israel is enormously destabilizing, and dramatically lowers the threshold for their actual use, if not for all out nuclear war. In the words of Mark Gaffney,

“… if the familiar pattern (Israel refining its weapons of mass destruction with U.S. complicity) is not reversed soon- for whatever reason- the deepening Middle East conflict could trigger a world conflagration.” (44)

Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies. Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.” Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns.

Notes

1. Seymour Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, New York,1991, Random House, p. 319 (A brilliant and prophetic work with much original research)2

2. Mark Gaffney, Dimona, The Third Temple:The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, Brattleboro, VT, 1989, Amana Books, p. 165 (Excellent progressive analysis of the Israeli nuclear program)

3. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Warner D. Farr, The Third Temple Holy of Holies; Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Air War College Sept 1999 <www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/farr,htm (Perhaps the best single condensed history of the Israeli nuclear program)

4. Hersch, op.cit., p. 131

5. Gaffney, op.cit., p. 63

6. Gaffney, op. cit. pp 68 – 69

7. Hersh, op.cit., pp. 242-257

8. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, pps. 65-66 (An alternative discussion of the NUMEC affair)

9. Barbara Rogers & Zdenek Cervenka, The Nuclear Axis: The Secret Collaboration Between West Germany and South Africa, New York, 1978, Times Books, p. 325-328 (the definitive history of the Apartheid Bomb)

10. Gaffney, op. cit., 1989, p. 34

11. Peter Hounam, Woman From Mossad: The Torment of Mordechai Vanunu, London, 1999, Vision Paperbacks, pp. 155-168 (The most complete and up to date account of the Vanunu story, it includes fascenating speculation that Israel may have a second hidden Dimona type reactor)

12. Hersh, op. cit., 1989, p. 213

13. ibid, p.198-200

14. ibid, pp. 3-17

15. Hounman, op. cit. 1999, pp 189-203

16. Hersh, 1989. pp.199-200

17. ibid, p. 312

18. John Pike and Federation of American Scientists, Israel Special Weapons Guide Website, 2001, Web Address <http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/index.html (An invaluable internet resource)

19. Usi Mahnaimi and Peter Conradi, Fears of New Arms Race as Israel Tests Cruise Missiles, June 18, 2000, London Sunday Times

20. Usi Mahnaimi, Israeli Jets Equipped for Chemical Warfare October 4, 1998, London Sunday Times

21. Usi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, Israel Planning “Ethnic” bomb as Saddam Caves In, November 15, 1998, London Sunday Times

22. Hersh, op.cit., 1991, p. 319

23. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p. 163

24. Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, London, 1997,Pluto Press, p. 40 (An absolute “must read” for any Middle East or anti-nuclear activist)

25 ibid, p.2

26. ibid, p.43

27. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p 131

28. “Israel & the US: From Dependence to Nuclear Weapons?” Robert W. Tucker, Novenber 1975 pp41-42

29. London Sunday Times, October 12, 1986

30. Gaffney, op. cit. 1989. p. 147

31. ibid, p. 153

32. DEBKAfile, February 23, 2001 WWW.debka.com

33. Uzi Mahnaimi and Tom Walker, London Sunday Times, February 25, 2001

34. Shahak, op. cit., p150

35. Hersh, op.cit., p. 319

36. Shahak, op. cit., p34

37. ibid, p. 149

38. ibid, p. 153

39. ibid, pp. 37-38

40. ibid, pp 39-40

41. Hersh, op. cit., p. 19

42. Aronson, Geoffrey, “Hidden Agenda: US-Israeli Relations and the Nuclear Question,” Middle East Journal, (Autumn 1992), 619-630.

43 . Hersh, op. cit., pp. 285-305

44. Gaffney, op. cit., p194

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published in November 2017.

“This is not the first time that the ports have been closed…And every time they close the ports, the situation gets worse and food prices increase to the point where we can’t provide for our children,” explained Dr. Sherin Varkey, the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen, to the BBC.

In Saudi’s ongoing military intervention in Yemen, Saudi-led blockades have strained access to basic resources like food, water so much that approximately 70 percent of the country is in serious need of humanitarian assistance.

The conflict in Yemen is largely seen as a proxy war between Saudi and Iran. Saudi leads an international coalition that backs the President, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, whereas Iran backs the Houthi rebel movement.

Saudi Arabia is not alone in its military intervention, the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and the UAE provide substantial arms and/or logistical support, enabling the oil-rich kingdom to continue its mission, including conducting massive air strikes which Human Rights Watch flag as war crimes.

In retaliation for a missile fired from rebel-held territory suspected to be modified by Iran, Saudi enforced a total blockade for all air and naval ports, preventing critical medical supplies and food from entering the country for a week.

Activists in the country are now reporting that a widespread famine with the potential to kill millions  is a distinct possibility.

According to Perry Cammack, a Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, there is little reason to hope the war in Yemen will end any time soon.

Saudi “lack[s] an exit strategy, which creates a dynamic of steady escalation, at the expense of the Yemeni population.” On top of that, “Yemen is far more important to Saudi Arabia than it is to Iran, so that such escalation has limited utility in pressuring Iran.”

In other words, Saudi is stuck in an expensive war that it doesn’t know how to win, and Yemen, according to Cammack sits on the verge of “becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.”

These are the five biggest contributors to Saudi’s war.

The United States

  • When President Trump visited Saudi in May, he pledged to give $350 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years

  • The U.S. notoriously refuels Saudi jets mid air, ensuring its aerial campaign, which has been flagged as source of war crimes, can maintain a near-constant tempo

  • Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a symbolic bill calling the U.S.’ military involvement in Yemen unauthorized

Germany

  • Largely seen as the stronghold of European values, Germany approved a $526 million weapons-export deal to Saudi and Egypt

  • The deal marks a 500 percent increase in arms exports since last year

  • Germany is within the top five arms exporters in the entire world

The United Kingdom

  • The U.K. has sold approximately $4.7 billion in arms to Saudi since its intervention in Yemen began

  • This roughly reflects a 500 percent increase in the arms dealt to Saudi before its involvement in Yemen

  • Former Defense Minister Michael Fallon told the U.K. Parliament to refrain from criticizing Saudi Arabia for fear that future arms deals with the kingdom would be jeopardized

France

  • France approved around $18 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2015

  • President Macron visited Saudi to address the rising tensions with Iran, Yemen and Lebanon, emphasizing the need to work with Saudi despite its promotion of regional and internal instability

  • At the same visit, Macron reportedly  announced a new deal with close Saudi-ally UAE to sell them two warships

The United Arab Emirates

  • The UAE is perhaps Saudi’s most reliable and active ally, providing logistical support and training for Yemeni forces

  • UAE jets have conducted airstrikes, performing “the heaviest air strikes that Sana’a has endured,” as described by one Yemeni official

  • The UAE hired ex-Blackwater CEO Erik Prince to raise a mercenary of Colombians to operate in Yemen in order to avoid losing Emirati lives

Yemenis are facing multiple crises, including armed conflict, displacement, risk of famine and disease outbreaks that have created the worst man-made humanitarian crisis. Some 75 per cent of the population – 22.2 million people – are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million people in acute need who urgently require immediate assistance to survive – an increase by one million since June 2017. Vulnerable populations in 107 out of 333 districts are facing heightened risk of famine and require integrated response efforts to avert a looming catastrophe.

One of the world’s largest protection crises

Escalating conflict continues to inflict civilian casualties and cause extensive damage to public and private infrastructure. Half of the Yemeni population live in areas directly affected by conflict, many of whom are suffering from the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, and other apparent violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). As of late December 2017, health facilities reported 9,245 conflict related deaths and over 52,807 injuries – meaning that an average of 60 people have been killed or injured every day in the past two and a half years. Given that only 50 per cent of health facilities remain functional, and acknowledging the limited reporting capacity across the country, this number is significantly underreported. Over three million people have been forced to flee from their homes since the escalation of conflict two and a half years ago, including 2 million who remain displaced. The intensification of the conflict since November has resulted in alarming levels of civilian impact including high level of casualties and additional displacements.

Collapse of basic services and institutions

Essential basic services and the institutions that provide them are at the brink of total collapse. Conflict, economic decline and subsequent disruption of operational budgets and salary payments in public sector institutions have contributed to this collapse. In this situation, Yemen is increasingly becoming susceptible to disease outbreaks: crippled public health and WASH systems contributed to the unprecedented scale of the 2017 cholera outbreak, which is followed by a rapidly spreading suspected diphtheria outbreak attributed to low vaccination coverage. Only half of all health facilities are functioning, and even these face severe shortages in medicines, equipment, and staff. Similarly, some 16 million people lack adequate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, which is attributed to the physical damage to infrastructure [largely caused by airstrikes], lack of resources (including fuel)[largely caused by the blockade] , and suspension of salaries [imposed by the Saudi-led coalition-supported ‘government’ of President Hadi]. The deficit has also hampered agriculture extension and veterinary services with an estimated 90 per cent of animal health facilities either fully closed or functioning below their capacity due to non-payment of salaries and lack of operating budget. The system is increasingly depending on humanitarian aid stretching beyond its scope and remit to continue to provide minimum basic assistance, which cannot, however, compensate for collapsing systems.

Import Restrictions

Before the escalation of the crisis, Yemen imported 80-90 per cent of its staple foods and required an estimated 544,000 metric tons of imported fuel per month for transportation and powering water-systems and health facilities, among other activities. Even before the imposition of complete and partial closure of ports through the final months of 2017, fluctuating restrictions on imports, damaged port infrastructure, insurance and banking hurdles, security risks and high transport costs were key factors negatively affecting imports and distribution of critical goods across Yemen. Damaged port infrastructure has further undermined the ability to import key commodities including food, fuel, and medical supplies at the scale required. Al Hudaydah port, which accounts for 70-80 per cent of commercial imports in Yemen, remains a critical lifeline, despite operating at reduced capacity after being hit by an airstrike in August 2015. The extended blockade imposed on Al Hudaydah and Salif ports on 6 November 2017 significantly threatened this lifeline of Yemenis. In the aftermath of the closure of these supply routes, prices of basic commodities significantly increased, further accelerating food insecurity, loss of livelihoods and the collapse of basic facilities. The Saudi-led Coalition (SLC) announced a 30-day opening of Al Hudaydah and Salif ports to commercial imports on 20 December 2017, but only a sustained flow of imports of essential basic goods can avert further catastrophe.

Blundering into Iran

March 1st, 2018 by Philip Giraldi

The deluge of recent reporting regarding possible conflict with nuclear armed North Korea has somewhat obscured consideration of the much higher probability that Israel or even Saudi Arabia will take steps that will lead to a war with Iran that will inevitably draw the United States in.

Israel is particularly inclined to move aggressively, with potentially serious consequences for the U.S., in the wake of the recent incident involving an alleged Iranian drone and the shooting down of an Israeli aircraft. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been repeatedly warning about the alleged threat along his northern border and has pledged that Israel will not be in any way restrained if there are any hostile moves directed against it. The Israeli Transportation Minister Ysrael Katz has warned that Lebanon will be blasted back into the “stone age.”

There is also considerable anti-Iran rhetoric currently coming from sources in the United States, which might well be designed to prepare the American people for a transition from a cold war type situation to a new hot war involving U.S. forces. The growing hostility towards Iran is coming out of both the Donald Trump Administration and from the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is warning that the “time to act is now” to thwart Iran’s allegedly aggressive regional ambitions while U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley sees a “wake-up” call in the recent shooting incident involving Syria and Israel. The hostility emanating from Washington is increasing in spite of the fact that the developments in the region have little or no impact on vital U.S. national interests, nor is Iran anything like an existential threat to the United States that would mandate sustained military action.

Iran’s alleged desire to stitch together a sphere of influence consisting of an arc of allied nations and proxy forces running from its western borders to the Mediterranean Sea has been frequently cited as justification for a more assertive policy against Tehran, but that concern is certainly greatly exaggerated. Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, is, to be sure, a major regional power but militarily, economically and politically it is highly vulnerable. Its economy is struggling and there is a small but growing protest movement regarding the choices being made for government spending.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is well armed and trained, but much of its “boots on the ground” force consists of militiamen of variable quality. Its Air Force is a “shadow” of what existed under the Shah and is significantly outgunned by its rivals in the Persian Gulf, not to mention Israel. Its navy is only “green water” capable in that it consists largely of smaller vessels responsible for coastal defense supplemented by swarms of Revolutionary Guard speedboats.

When Napoleon had conquered much of continental Europe and was contemplating invading Britain in 1804 it was widely believed that England was helpless before him. But Admiral Earl St Vincent was nonplussed. He said at the time:

“I do not say the French can’t come, I only say they can’t come by sea.”

In a similar fashion, Iran’s apparent threat to its neighbors is in reality decisively limited by its inability to project power across the water or through the air against other states in the region that have marked superiority in both respects.

And the concern over a possibly developing “Shi’ite land bridge,” also referred to as an “arc” or “crescent,” is likewise overstated for political reasons to make the threat more credible. It ignores the reality that Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon all have strong national identities and religiously mixed populations. They are influenced and sometimes more than that by Iran, but they are not puppet states and never will be. Even Lebanon’s Hezbollah, often cited as Iran’s fifth column in that country, is not considered a reliable proxy.

Majority Shi’a Iraq, for example, is generally considered to be very friendly to Iran but it has to deal with considerable Kurdish and Sunni minorities in its governance and in the direction of its foreign policy. It will not do Iran’s bidding on a number of key issues, including its relationship with Washington, and would be unwilling to become a proxy in Tehran’s conflicts with Israel and Saudi Arabia as such a move would be extremely unpopular. Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, the highest-ranking Sunni in the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi government, has, for example, recently called for the demobilization of the Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces or militias that have been fighting ISIS because they “have their own political aspirations, their own [political] agendas. … They are very dangerous to the future of Iraq.”

A seemingly legitimate major concern driving much of the perception of an Iranian threat is the possibility that Tehran will develop a nuclear weapon somewhere down the road. Such a development is quite plausible if only from a defensive point of view as Iran has been repeatedly threatened by nuclear armed Israel and the United States, but the current Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action provides the best response to the possible proliferation problem. The U.N. inspections regime is rigorous and Iran is reported to be in compliance with the agreement. If the plan survives the attacks by the White House, there is every reason to believe that Iran will be unable to take the necessary precursor steps leading to a nuclear weapons program while the inspections continue. And it will be further limited in its options after the agreement expires in nine years because it will not be able to accumulate the necessary highly enriched uranium stocks to proceed if it should ever make the political and economic decisions to go ahead with such a program.

The recent incident involving the shoot-down of a drone alleged to be of Iranian provenance followed by the downing of an Israeli fighter by a Syrian air defense missile resulted in a sharp response from Tel Aviv, though reportedly mitigated by a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that anything more provocative might inadvertently involve Russia in the conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accordingly moderated his response but his government is clearly contemplating a more robust intervention to counter what he calls a developing Iranian presence in Syria. It is important to recall that Netanyahu’s prime objective in Syria and Lebanon is to have both nations in turmoil so they cannot threaten Israel. With that in mind, it is wise to be skeptical about Israeli claims regarding Iranian intentions to build bases and construct missiles in Syria. Those claims made by Israel’s Mossad have not been confirmed by any western intelligence service, not even by America’s totally corrupted and subservient CIA.

Netanyahu is also facing a trial on corruption charges and it would not be wildly off target to suggest that he might welcome a small war to change the narrative, just as Bill Clinton did when he launched cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan to deflect congressional and media criticism of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky. Unfortunately, if Netanyahu does wind up being charged and going to prison his successor will likely be even more hardline.

It must be understood that the mounting Iran hysteria evident in the U.S. media and as reflected in Beltway groupthink has largely been generated by allies in the region, most notably Saudi Arabia and Israel, who nurture their own aspirations for regional political and military supremacy. There are no actual American vital interests at stake and it is past time to pause and take a step backwards to consider what those interests actually are in a region that has seen nothing but U.S. missteps since 2003. Countering an assumed Iranian threat that is no threat at all and triggering a catastrophic war would be a major mistake that would lead to a breakdown in the current political alignment of the entire Middle East. And it would be costly for the United States. Iran is not militarily formidable, but its ability to fight on the defensive against U.S. Naval and air forces is likely to be considerable, producing high casualty levels on both sides. How would the U.S. public respond if an aircraft carrier were to be sunk by a barrage of Iranian shore-to-ship missiles? And Tehran would also be able to unleash terrorist resources throughout the region, particularly endangering U.S. military and diplomats based there as well as American travelers and businesses. The terror threat might easily extend beyond the Middle East, into Europe and also within the United States while the dollar costs of a major new conflict and its aftermath could also break the bank, literally. Promoting a robust U.S. role in “regime change” for Iran as a viable military option to support objectives largely fabricated by allies would be a phony war fought for bad reasons. It is not commensurate with the threat that the Mullahs actually pose, which is minimal, and is just not worth the price either in dollars or lives.

*

[This article is an edited and expanded version of a memorandum that I prepared for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity which has been released separately on Consortium News].

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

Featured image is from the author.


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

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China is clearly on the way to regaining its historic position as the world’s largest economy, displacing the US. With a population of 1.3 billion, more than four times as much as the population of the US, China has over 2.3 million in active service, with an additional 1.1 million as reserves.

Though China is known for mass-produced goods, it has now clearly put quality ahead of quantity in its developments.

The Chinese Communist Party has delivered prosperity to ordinary Chinese, which is why it enjoys their support. Eighty-six percent of Chinese think their country is on the right track.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has embarked on a modernization program commensurate with the country’s expanding national interests. From the Clinton Administration forward – which did not consider this modernization to be a threat to the US – the dominant voices in the US have started obsession with China’s rapid growth.

The US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined and has enjoyed absolute military superiority in every region of the globe. The US would have to abandon interests worldwide in order to focus on China, whereas China’s entire military would focus on defending its borders and few interests in the Pacific.

China’s last war was a short fight against Vietnam in 1979. The Chinese have not been in a sustained conflict since the Korean War that ended in 1953, according to Congressional Research Service.

A series of foreign acquisitions and domestic innovations, possibly bolstered by cyber espionage, have led to a huge push in modernization for the Chinese PLA. Chinese have engaged in stealing military secrets from the US and others because they can.

China is actively considering how to put effective pressure on the US to halt arms sales to Taiwan. China wants Washington to live up to Ronald Reagan‘s commitment to restrain and reduce such sales in return for credible pursuit by Beijing of a peaceful settlement of its differences with Taipei.

The rising Chinese defense capabilities erode American supremacy. China’s new anti-carrier weapons endanger US force projection capabilities in the Western Pacific; its anti-satellite programs imperil US global surveillance and communication capabilities; its growing operations in cyberspace menace US government operations and the economy of the American homeland alike.

On the opposite, while China commands the largest ground force in the world, it is plagued by mobility problems. The bulk of PLA’s equipment remains obsolete. The Chinese defense ministry is unable to produce modern weaponry and relies on Russian technology since 1970s. The Chinese fighter jets fly on Russian engines. China lacks sufficient transport helicopters, and still largely relies on trains for transportation across the mainland.

Additionally, China may seek to buy Russia’s advanced S-400 missile-defense system, which would bolster its already-substantial missile defenses.

China has tremendous space assets, including 70 military satellites used for communications, navigation, positioning and timing, meteorology and electronic and signals intelligence.

Additionally, China sees the US’s reliance on GPS technology and space assets as a weakness, and has developed anti-satellite capabilities, such as directed-energy weapons, satellite jammers, and anti-satellite missiles.

China has three types of cyber forces: (1) specialized military network warfare forces in the PLA, (2) PLA-authorized teams of network warfare specialists in government organizations, and (3) non-governmental forces that may be mobilized for network warfare operations.

Potentially, China could access foreign networks and even deny foreign nations’ access to their own networks. There have been numerous and credible reports that China has used cyber espionage to steal military secrets from the US.

The Chinese, in addition to traditional warfare, would confront an enemy with media and propaganda, legal actions, and psychological warfare.

The latest announcement of technological upswing in the Chinese industry was a hypersonic heavy bomber that could reportedly reach from Beijing to New York City in just two hours. Chinese Researchers say the aircraft would travel at speeds of more than 3,700mph (6,000km/h) or five times the speed of sound. Since 2013, China has conducted seven successful test flights of its hypersonic glider DF-ZF. The vehicle will be capable of speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or five to 10 times the speed of sound.

Launch of HTV-2a on a Minotaur IV Lite rocket

The US officials tested HTV-2 in 2011, an unmanned aircraft capable of Mach 20, but the hypersonic flight lasted just a few minutes before the vehicle crashed.

China is Cautious in Dealing with the US

The role of the dollar as the international reserve currency allowed the US to spend beyond its means but that may end soon. The Global Financial Crisis delivered a huge blow to the American economy. The costs of bank bailout and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars pushed the US’s national debt to new heights.. By August 2012, the US federal debt topped $16 trillion, rising by 1 trillion in less than a year.

At the same time, China has become a major lender to the US government. National wealth underpins military strength, and a frail economy can’t support a robust foreign policy.

Since 1974, when Deng Xiaoping addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York, China has been at pains to deny any possibility that it might seek such dominance. As the Chinese defense “white paper” put it:

China will never seek hegemony or engage in military expansion now or in the future, no matter how developed it becomes.

In saying this, China is inadvertently echoing the American isolationists of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The US did not then seek to dominate or control the international state system, nor did it pursue military solutions to problems far from its shores. In time and in reaction to events, however, America came to do both.

China has a very persuasive explanation of its national interests. It says it needs domestic tranquility and peace on its borders in order to pursue its continued modernization and economic development.

Whatever the meaning of China’s assurances that it will not pursue hegemony or engage in military expansionism in future, we cannot be certain that it will not.

In a speech to the National Committee on US-China relations in 2005,  Robert Zoellick invited China to become a responsible stakeholder in the international system. What he left unsaid was that the responsible stakeholder would need to submit to American Leadership.

The Secretary of State of the Bush administration, Condoleeza Rice, a proponent of the invasion of Iraq once wrote that China resents the role of the US in the Asia-Pacific and wants to change the balance of power. She went on saying:

“China is a strategic competitor, not a strategic partner and will do what it can to enhance its power, including stealing nuclear secrets and bullying Taiwan”

AIIB, another Challenge to US Hegemony

China announced its first largest bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in October 2013, to expand its influence at the expense of the US and Japan. Although, China is the biggest economy in Asia, the Asian Development Bank [ADB] is dominated by Japan; Japan’s voting share is more than twice China’s and the bank’s president has always been Japanese.

Reforms to give China a little more say at the US-led International Monetary Fund have been delayed for years. China is, understandably, impatient for change. It is therefore taking matters into its own hands.

The US administration suffered a humiliating diplomatic defeat in March 2015 when most of its closest allies signed up for the AIIB, including Britain, Germany, Australia and South Korea, among 57 countries, leaving the US and Japan aloof.

At its launch in January 2016, there were 57 signatories to AIIB’s Articles of Agreement, and in March and May, the bank announced the approval of another 20 prospective members, who are currently in the process of finalizing their membership, according to a statement from the bank.

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Police State Supreme Court Ruling on Immigrants

March 1st, 2018 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

The US Supreme Court is stacked with right-wing extremists – progressive voices for social justice entirely absent.

The words “Equal Justice Under Law” adorn the High Court Building’s west facade. Facing east is the motto “Justice, the Guardian of Liberty.”

Since the Court’s 1789 establishment, these words belie its rulings, arguments, “supreme” allegiance to power, and support for the divine right of capital.

“We the people” are America’s privileged class, no others. The Constitution’s general welfare clause applies to them alone.

In his book “Democracy for the Few,” Michael Parenti called the Supreme Court an “aristocratic branch” of government.

Its members are appointed. They serve for life, and have great power for good or ill – too much of the latter, not enough of the former.

Justices nearly always side with corporate America. Today they’re supremely pro-business, ideologically conservative and reactionary.

No one nominated by Republicans or undemocratic Dems approaches the stature of William Brennan, William Douglas, Thurgood Marshall or Louis Brandeis.

Five current Supreme Court justices are Federalist Society members – Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

The organization supports rolling back civil liberties, imperial wars, free-wheeling laissez-faire capitalism and corporatism, along with ending New Deal/Great Society social programs.

It’s against reproductive choice, government regulations, labor rights, environmental protections and justice in defense of privilege.

Jennings v. Rodriguez was argued before the High Court on November 30, 2016. On June 26, 2017, the court ordered the case reargued.

Reargument took place on October 3, 2017. It involves whether government authorities can indefinitely detain immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers (including individuals with permanent legal status), along with whether they’re entitled to bond hearings at six-month intervals while appealing their case.

Representing Alejandro Rodriguez et al, the ACLU argued that congressional statutes don’t authorize prolonged detention -that without periodic bond hearings, individuals would be unjustly deprived of their liberty.

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, the ACLU said the case “challenges the government’s practice of detaining immigrants facing deportation proceedings for months or years without due process, including many long-term green-card holders and asylum seekers.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on their behalf, ordering individual bond hearings at six-month intervals to decide whether prolonged detention without due process is justified.

Indefinite detention of undocumented immigrants costs over $2 billion annually, an unacceptable abuse of power.

“(N)o one should be locked up for months or years without a hearing to determine if their detention is even justified,” the ACLU argued.

US immigration policy is notoriously discriminatory, mostly harming people of color and Muslims.

Detainees held under deplorable conditions, treated like criminals, denied fundamental human and civil rights because they’re unwanted – including refugees and asylum seekers fleeing conflict zones or homeland repression.

On Tuesday, the High Court ruled 5 – 3 against Rodriguez et al – depriving them of due process and judicial fairness, hallmarks of all free societies, absent in America.

Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch ruled with the majority. Elena Kagan recused herself. She was Obama administration solicitor general when it supported indefinite detention of immigrants.

Following the ruling, the ACLU tweeted:

“This decision will impact the lives of thousands of people, including lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, and survivors of torture.”

“Many will ultimately win their deportation cases, but would be forced to unjustly suffer first.”

Tuesday’s ruling affects hundreds of thousands of indefinitely detained immigrants, refugees ad asylum seekers – countless numbers of others in America vulnerable to arrest and similar oppressive treatment.

Most media scoundrels paid scant attention to the ruling. The NYT initially published an AP wire service report, not its own until Wednesday.

The Washington Post covered it. So did the Wall Street Journal. CNN, MSNBC, and NBC news ignored it.

So did most congressional members – including self-styled progressives in name only Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Obama administration officials supported indefinite detention without habeas or due process rights.

Tuesday’s ruling provided more evidence of the absence of equity and justice in America – police state harshness replacing it.

The High Court remanded the case back to the Ninth Circuit for further consideration on whether immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers have any constitutional rights – clearly not in America today.

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

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

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

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

Featured image is from RT.

A US-based activist’s post, ostensibly meant to “raise awareness” about Syrian civilians, turned out to be a complete fabrication. Twitterati found the photos he used were actually from Gaza and Mosul.

A Cleveland-based user who goes by the name of Sami Sharbek has posted two photos on his Twitter account – one showing Middle Eastern-looking residential blocks being bombed from the air; the other depicting a man carrying a crying child.

“This is not a movie. This is Syria,” he wrote in the caption.

The post was widely retweeted and liked. As of Wednesday morning, it had racked up over 125,000 shares and 154,000 likes. However, what many people failed to notice is that the photos portraying the perils of war were shot outside Syria.

This is not a movie. This is Syria. pic.twitter.com/jdlxIwtLOn

— Sami Sharbek (@SamiSharbek) February 25, 2018

Some users have shared the links to news stories featuring the original photos. “Wrong,” John Mangun, BusinessMirror Columnist, tweeted, sharing a link to a 2014 Independent story covering Israeli air raids on Palestine.

This photo shows the same airstrike featured in the photo tweeted by Sharbek. It comes from Reuters’ coverage of an Israeli strike on eastern Gaza city.

Smoke rises from the Tuffah neighborhood after an Israeli airstrike in eastern Gaza City, July 29, 2014 (Source: Sameh Rahmi / Global Look Press)

In a subsequent post, he continued jabbing Sharbek with photo proofs, posting a Reuters image of the US-backed Mosul siege; an event which became notorious for its high civilian death toll and the all-round destruction of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Shortly after, Sharbek acknowledged the post was a fake and apologized for the error.

“I wasn’t aware that the images came from Gaza and Mosul,” he wrote. “My only intention was to show awareness for my country.”

Regardless, he still asked users to make donations, sharing a link to a non-profit organization called the Syrian American Medical Society. What’s more, he again posted a series of photos whose credibility is doubtful – at least in the case of the infamous image of a little boy allegedly pulled from the rubble after an air strike on Aleppo.

Bogus photos on the horrors of war in Syria have surfaced on more than one occasion. In 2016, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said it had arrested a group of five people caught producing images purportedly depicting scenes of suffering in Aleppo.

One particular photo that they had planned to pass off as a real picture from Syria featured a small girl holding a teddy bear in a white dress marked by splotches of blood, with the ‘ruins of Aleppo’ behind her.

The ministry said that the residents of Port Said, a city on the Suez Canal, were caught in the middle of their photo shoot as the 12-year-old girl, Ragd, was posing for 21-year-old Mustafa, who told the authorities that he “normally photographed weddings and ceremonies, but had an idea for something else.”

*

Featured image is from RT.

Events in Syria have recently clearly taken a turn for the worse and there is an increasing amount of evidence that the Russian task force in Syria is being targeted by a systematic campaign of “harassing attacks”.

The recent incident, like drone and mortar attack on the Russian Aerospace Forces base in Khmeimin, the shooting down of a Russian SU-25, so-called Russian casualties in US airstrikes in Deir Ezzor, likely indicate on starting of implementation of a new US strategy in Syria: to punish the Russians as much as possible short of an overt US attack on Russian forces. This hypothesis is based on the following reasons:

First, the USA and Israel are still reeling in humiliation and impotent rage over their defeat in Syria: Assad is still in power, ISIS is more or less defeated, the Russians were successful not only their military operations against ISIS but also in their campaign to bring as many “good terrorists” to the negotiating table as possible. With the completion of a successful conference on Syria in Russia and the general agreement of all parties to begin working on a new constitution, there was a real danger of peace breaking out, something the US and Israeli-led block is absolutely determined to oppose.

Second, both Trump and Netanyahu have promised to bring in lots of “victories” to prove how manly and strong they are. Starting an overt war against Russian would definitely be a “proof of manhood”, but a much too dangerous one. Killing Russians “on the margins”, so to speak, either with plausible deniability or, alternatively, killing Russians private contractors is much safer and thus far more tempting option.

Third, there are presidential elections coming up in Russia and the US Americans are still desperately holding on to their sophomoric notion that if they create trouble for Putin they can somehow negatively impact his popularity in Russia.

Last but not least, since the US and Israeli-led block has long lost the ability to actually getting anything done, their logical fall-back position is not let anybody else succeed either. This is the main purpose of the entire US deployment in northern Syria: to create trouble for Turkey, Iran, Syria and, of course, Russia.

The bottom line is this: since the US Americans have declared that they will (illegally) stay in Syria until the situation “stabilizes” they now must do everything their power to destabilize Syria. Yes, there is a kind of a perverse logic to all that…

Step one: encouraging the Turks

There is a counter-intuitive but in many ways an ideal solution for Russia to counter the US invasion of Syria: involve the Turks. And do it not by attacking the US forces directly, but by attacking the Kurdish militias the US Americans are currently “hiding” behind. While the US and Israel will have no second thoughts whatsoever before striking Syrian or Iranian forces, actually striking Turkish forces would carry an immense political risk: following the US-backed coup attempt against Erdogan and, just to add insult to injury, the US backing for the creation of a “mini-Kurdistsan” both in Iraq and in Syria, US-Turkish relations are at an all-time low and it would not take much to push the Turks over the edge with potentially cataclysmic consequences for the US, EU, NATO, CENTCOM and Israel interests in the region. Truly, there is no overstating the strategic importance of Turkey for Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle-East, and the US Americans know that. From this flows a very real if little understood consequence: the Turkish armed forces in Syria basically enjoy what one would call a “political immunity” from any US attacks, that is to say that no matter what the Turks do, the US would never consider actually openly using force against them simply because the consequence of, say, a USAF strike on a Turkish army column would be too serious to contemplate.

In fact, the US-Turkish relationship is so bad and so one-sided that one would see a Turkish attack on a Kurdish column/position with embedded US Special Forces far more likely than a US attack on a Turkish army column. This might sound counter-intuitive, but let’s say the Turks did attack a Kurdish column/position with US personnel and that US servicemen would die as the result. What could the US do? Not only is the notion of the US attacking a fellow NATO country member is quite unthinkable, it would most likely be followed by a Turkish demand that the US/NATO completely withdraw from Turkey’s territory and airspace. In theory, the US could ask the Israelis to do their dirty job for them, but the Israelis are not stupid and they won’t have much interest in starting a shooting war with Turkey over what is a US-created problem in a “mini-Kurdistan”.

No, if the Turks actually killed US servicemen there would be protests and a flurry of “consultations” and other symbolic actions, but beyond that, the US would take the losses and do nothing about it. As for Erdogan, his popularity at home would only soar even higher. What all this means in practical terms is that if there is one actor which can seriously disrupt the US operations in northern Syria, or even force the US to withdraw, it is Turkey. That kind of capability also gives Turkey a lot of bargaining power with Russia and Iran which Erdogan will carefully use to his own benefit. So far Erdogan has only threatened to deliver an “Ottoman slap” to the USA and Secretary of State Tillerson is traveling to Ankara to try to avert a disaster, but the Turkish instance that the USA chose either the Turkish or the Kurdish side in the conflict very severely limits the chances of any real breakthrough. One should never say never, but it would take something of a miracle at this point to really salvage the US-Turkish relationship. Russia can try to capitalize on this dynamic.

The main weakness of this entire concept is, of course, that the USA is still powerful enough, including inside Turkey, and it would be very dangerous for Erdogan to try to openly confront and defy Uncle Sam. So far, Erdogan has been acting boldly and in overt defiance of the USA, but he also understands the risks of going too far and for him to even consider taking such risks there have to be prospects of major benefits from him. Here the Russians have two basic options: either to promise the Turks something very inciting or to somehow further deteriorate the current relationship between the US and Turkey.

The other obvious risk is that any anti-Kurdish operation can turn into yet another partition of Syria, this time by the Turks. However, the reality is that the Turks can’t really stay for too long in Syria, especially not if Russia and Iran oppose this. There is also the issue of international law which is much easier for the USA to ignore than for the Turks.

For all these reasons using the Turks to put pressure on the USA has its limitations. Still, if the Turks continue to insist that the USA stop supporting the Kurds, or if they continue putting military pressure on the Kurdish militias, then the entire US concept of a US-backed “mini-Kurdistan” collapses and, with it, the entire US partition plan for Syria.

So far, the Iraqis have quickly dealt with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Iraq and the Turks are now taking the necessary steps to deal with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Syria at which point *their* problem will be solved. The Turks are not interested in helping Assad or, for that matter, Putin and they don’t care what happens to Syria as long as *their* Kurdish problem is under control. This means that the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians should not place too much hope on the Turks turning against the USA unless, of course, the correct circumstances are created. Only the future will tell whether the Russians and the Iranians will be able to help to create such circumstances.

Step two: saturating Syria with mobile modern short/middle range air defenses

Right now nobody knows what kind of air-defense systems the Russians have been delivering to the Syrians over the past couple of years, but that is clearly the way to go for the Russians: delivering as many modern and mobile air defense systems to the Syrians. While this would be expensive, the best solution here would be to deliver as many Pantsir-S1 mobile Gun/SAM systems and 9K333 Verba MANPADs as possible to the Syrians and the Iranians. The combination of these two systems would immensely complicate any kind of air operations for the US Americans and Israelis, especially since there would be no practical way of reliably predicting the location from which they could operate. And since both the USA and Israel are operating in the Syrian skies in total violation of international law while the Syrian armed forces would be protecting their own sovereign airspace, such a delivery of air-defense systems by Russia to Syria would be impeccably legal. Best of all, it would be absolutely impossible for the US and Israeli-led block to know who actually shot at them since these weapon systems are mobile and easy to conceal. Just like in Korea, Vietnam or Lebanon, Russian crews could even be sent to operate the Syrian air defense systems and there would be no way for anybody to prove that “the Russians did it” when US and Israeli aircraft would start falling out of the skies. The Russians would enjoy what the CIA calls “plausible deniability”.

The other option for the Russians would be to offer upgrades (software and missile) to the existing Syrian air defense systems, especially their road-mobile 2K12 Kub and 9K37 Buk systems. Such upgrades, especially if combined with enough deployed Pantsirs and Verbas would be a nightmare for both the US Americans and the Israelis. The Turks would not care much since they are already basically flying with the full approval of the Russians anyway, and neither would the Iranians.

One objection to this plan would be that two can play this game and that there is nothing preventing the USA from sending even more advanced MANPADs to their “good terrorist” allies, but that argument entirely misses the point: if both sides do the same thing, the side which is most dependent on air operations (the USA) stands to lose much more than the side which has the advantage on the ground (the Russians). Furthermore, by sending MANPADs to Syria, the USA is alienating a putative ally, Turkey, whereas if Russia sends MANPADs and other SAMs to Syria the only one who will be complaining will be the Israelis. When that happens, the Russians will have a simple and truthful reply: we did not start this game, your US allies did, you can go and thank them for this mess.

The main problem in Syria is the fact that the US and the Israelis are currently operating in the Syrian skies with total impunity. If this changes, this will be a slow and gradual process. First, there would be a few isolated losses (like the Israeli F-16 recently), then we would see that the location of US and/or Israeli airstrikes would gradually shift from urban centers and central command posts to smaller, more isolated targets. This would indicate an awareness that the most lucrative targets are already too well defended. Eventually, the number of air sorties would be gradually replaced by cruise and ballistic missiles strikes. Underlying it all would be a shift from offensive air operations to force protection which, in turn, would give the Syrians, Iranians, and Hezbollah a much easier environment to operate in. But the necessary first step for any of that to happen would be to dramatically increase the capability of Syrian air defenses.

Hezbollah has, for decades, very successfully operated under a total Israelis air supremacy and their experience of this kind of operations would be invaluable to the Syrians until they sufficiently built up their air defense capabilities.

Conclusion: is counter-escalation really the only option?

Some starting to believe that the Empire has decided to attempt upon a partial “reconquista” of Syria, even Macron is making some noises about striking the Syrians to “punish” them for their use of (non-existing) chemical weapons. At the very least, the USA wants to make the Russians pay as high a price as possible for their role in Syria. Further US goals in Syria include:

  • The imposition of a de-facto partition of Syria by taking under control the Syrian territory east of the Euphrates river
  • The theft of the gas fields located in northeastern Syria
  • The creation of a US-controlled staging area from which Kurdish, good terrorist and bad terrorist operations can be planned and executed
  • The sabotaging of any Russian-backed peace negotiations
  • The support for Israeli operations against Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and Syria
  • Engaging in regular attacks against Syrian forces attempting to liberate their country from foreign invaders
  • Presenting the invasion and occupation of Syria as one of the “victories” promised by Trump to the MIC and the Israel lobby

So far the Russian response to this developing strategy has been a rather a passive one and the current escalation strongly suggests that a new approach might be needed. The shooting down of the Israeli F-16 is a good first step, but much more needs to be done to dramatically increase the costs the Empire will have to pay for is policies towards Syria. The increase in the number of Russian commentators and analysts demanding a stronger reaction to the current provocations might be a sign that something is in the making.

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Early on February 27, reports appeared that aircraft of the US-led coalition had carried out strikes on government forces at the village of Salhiya in the province of Deir Ezzor. According to pro-government sources, the SAA responded by launching anti-aircraft missiles at the aircraft attacking their positions.

Later on the same day, reports appeared about sporadic clashes near the CONOCO gas plant between troops of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and US-backed forces.

On February 28, the situation in the area remained unclear, with neither side providing an official statement commenting on the reports. However, it clearly showed a high level of tensions in the area.

Also on February 27, the SAA and the Republican Guard advanced on positions of Ahrar al-Sham and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in the Ajami district of Eastern Ghouta. According to pro-government sources, government troops captured a major part of it. On February 28, clashes continued there.

Separately, fighting was also reported in Nashabiyah which remained contested despite previous reports that it had been liberated by the Tiger Forces.

In the province of Idlib, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is still involved in fierce fighting with the so-called Syrian Liberation Front (SLF), a coalition of Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki. Recently, the SLF has captured over 20 localities from HTS. Both sides use various types of military equipment and artillery pieces.

Some local sources speculate that Turkey is using the SLF to establish full control over HTS and to re-brand it once again, absorbing the terrorist group into the newly created coalition.

In the Afrin area, clashes continued but the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army achieved no notable progress against the Kurdish YPG.

*

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Vassals rarely question. If they do, criticism is limited and usually restrained behind closed doors.  The Australian Prime Minister’s visit to Washington during February was marked by the usual and expected kowtows, blessings and awkward acceptances. 

The visit was also marked by what an Australian media outlet claimed was “Australia’s most significant delegation ever to visit the United States to build trade connections with US governors.”  Keeping Malcolm Turnbull company were four state premiers wishing to wade into the spectacle.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo was glowing at the efforts of Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey.  The latter, he claimed, had been prancing before the National Governors’ Association in an effort to focus interest on Washington’s antipodean satrap. 

“All governors of all the states come together in the United States to talk about their pathway forward, to build linkages… we’ll put a strong focus on our trade and investment relationship.”

The visit left nobody in any doubt about what would happen should the US find itself in yet another conflict.  Australia, with unquestioning, conditioned automatism, would rush to the side of its imperial sponsor. 

At the press conference of February 24 for the two leaders, President Donald Trump did a bit of buttering up.

“The United States and Australia are currently honouring the 100 years of mateship.  The term that you use very beautifully, Prime Minister.”

Mateship, in the Australian sense, is a rubbery term, one of such elasticity it loses form when confronted.  Do mates turn over the furniture of another’s house, cajole and hector?  Is acceptable servitude a function of mateship?  The failure of “mateship” to make its incorrigibly vague way into the preamble of Australia’s dry Constitutional document was a moment to celebrate.

Trump, however, was on form.  As he does so often, he personalised the political.  At the press gathering were Australians Greg Norman and billionaire Anthony Pratt, both of whom were asked to stand up by the president.  The latter was singled out for his $2 billion investment in box making factories in the US. 

 “But he only did that if Trump won the election, I think, is that the correct statement Anthony?”

Pratt expressed due agreement, having previously proclaimed an inevitable renaissance in the US economy: “100 percent correct!”

Trump had other offerings.  The Imperial Chief was proving generous

“This afternoon, I’m pleased to announce that the United States will name the Littoral Combat Ship 30 the USS Canberra in honour of an Australian cruiser lost fighting alongside the US Navy during World War II.”

Such offerings do come at a price.  Turnbull was thanked by the same figure who has, at various stages, threatened North Korea with annihilation.  The deployment of Australian forces as pro-US dots of global engagement, including Afghanistan and forces marshalled against ISIS, was duly mentioned. Trump was also grateful for the prime minister’s “strong voice for peace and stability across the entire Indo-Pacific region,” a less than subtle hint that the vassal was doing its appropriate policing for Mother Empire.

Trump was also mindful of Canberra’s role in his coarse policy towards North Korea.  “Australia is one of our closest partners in our campaign of maximum pressure to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.” No sign there of sober counsel, a point then shown by Trump’s call that the US and Australia “must continue to stand together to prevent that brutal dictatorship from threatening the world with nuclear devastation.”

When it came to Turnbull’s turn to make a few remarks, the satrap’s obedience was clear.  Closeness was stressed, the sort expected in disorienting infatuation.  Indeed, matters in terms of the security alliance kept pushing both Washington and Canberra closer, a sort of cementing embrace.  “The cooperation is more intense than it has ever been.  Whether we are standing up for freedom’s cause in the Middle East, in our region around the world combating terrorism.”

The trip also marked the tired, forced iteration of that tried, and failed experiment: tax cuts for the mighty non-personality known as the corporation.  In Turnbull’s words at the press gathering,

“We have secured some tax reforms in terms of reducing company tax but not as much as we need to do.” 

The Australian government had been “inspired… by your success in securing the passage of the tax reforms through the Congress.”

Having learned nothing from such voodoo economics as “trickle down”, figures such as Turnbull and Trump have decided that corporations are heart and soul of a nation, while the rest can stand aside. The economic show room is only big for so many, and citizens do not count.

Despite an initially awkward start to the relationship, it is clear that Turnbull has found the customary niche all Australian prime ministers eventually do with the United States, firmly wedged in the machinery and bosom of empire, with its follies, miscalculations and limitations.

*

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

Last week I wrote that “all signs point toward an upcoming large-scale Israeli/U.S. attack on Lebanon and Syria, and all the sycophantic mainstream media are in the kitchen prepping for the feast.  Russia and Iran are the main course, with Lebanon and Syria, who will be devoured first, as the hors d’oeuvres.”  Those signs are growing more numerous by the day.

Israel’s mainstream newspapers, Haaretz, and the more conservative Jerusalem Post, both announce in headline news that Iran has built a new base in Syria with missiles capable of hitting Israel. One look at these newspapers with their talk of Israeli war preparations and the potential in assassinating the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah makes it very clear that an expanded Middle Eastern war is fast approaching.  Russia, Syria, and Iran are being demonized as mind control propaganda spews forth.  The mainstream corporate media in the United States and other countries are sure to follow.

In Lebanon, the Prime Minister Saad Hariri has returned to Saudi Arabia to meet with his Saudi patrons for the first time since his shocking resignation on November 4, 2017, which he later withdrew.  The timing of his visit suggests another anti-Iranian and anti-Hezbollah announcement will follow.  Will Hariri issue another statement accusing Iran and Hezbollah of destabilizing Lebanon to add to the war rhetoric coming out of Israel at the same time that Lebanon is making a military agreement with Russia?  The moves on the chessboard are happening fast and furious. Divide and conquer is clearly the strategy of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States.

Here in the United States, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity,  a group of retired intelligence workers, has just issued a public warning, or what they call a memo, to Donald Trump ( Why bother?  Do they actually think he is listening or is in charge?) Growing Risk of U.S.-Iran Hostilities Based on False Pretexts. This group, which shares some suspicions regarding Iran and is therefore not its apologist, nevertheless says the following:

There is considerable anti-Iran rhetoric in U.S. media, which might well facilitate a transition from a cold-war type situation to a hot war involving U.S. forces.  We have for some time been observing with some concern the growing hostility towards Iran coming out of Washington and from the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia.  National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is warning that the ‘time to act is now’ to thwart Iran’s aggressive regional ambitions while United Nations Ambassador Nick Haley sees a ‘wake-up’ call in the recent shooting incident involving Syria and Israel.  Particular concern has been expressed by the White House that Iran is exploiting Shi’a minorities in neighboring Sunni dominated states to create unrest and is also expanding its role in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

VIPS also suggests that because Netanyahu may be indicted on corruption charges:

“it is conceivable that he might welcome a ‘small war’ to deflect attention from mounting political problems at home.”

One may say the same of Donald Trump, but as history has taught us ‘small wars’ lead to large wars, and as is well known, the ultimate target of these warmongers is Russia, and such a war would be far from small.

One of the signers of the VIPS’ aforementioned article is Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer who in a separate article, Donald Trump’s foreign policy: Made in Israel? (No need for the question mark), rightly says that Trump is aligned with the most hardline elements in Israel and that “some pretext for war [with Iran] will surely follow with the United States having to bear much of the burden as well as most of the consequences, including what is likely to be a large casualty list as the Iranians will surely fight back.”  Furthermore, Giraldi says that the U.S., with an active presence on the ground in Syria aimed at destabilizing the country and ousting Assad, is supporting alleged Israeli intelligence that allows it to bomb another sovereign country under the claims it is protecting Israel by attacking Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian targets.

While the American public is inundated with news about Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks, propaganda about how the Syrian government is slaughtering civilians in East Ghouta (see Jonathan Cook’s excellent article, The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions, and is further depressed by news of  the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School, shares are rising in the US military-Industrial Complex and the Academy Awards ceremony will soon give a Hollywood deluded society a “needed distraction” from all the news.  Meanwhile, the bloodthirsty warmongers are licking their lips in anticipation.  They are beating the war drums, and not very slowly right now.  The beat has quickened.  You can hear it if you listen.

Perhaps the propaganda film The Post, about the CIA’s favorite newspaper, The Washington Post, will take home the golden fetish at the Oscars while Israel and the U.S. assumes their responsibility to protect the innocent by killing more of them and expanding their deadly arms toward their ultimate targets.

*

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


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

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Imagine living in a country where the entire social services sector is privatized, run by “charities” that are based in other countries and staffed by foreigners who get to decide whether or not you qualify for assistance.

Welcome to Haiti, the “Republic of NGOs.”

As salacious details about Oxfam officials hiring Haitian girls for sex make headlines, the media has downplayed NGOs’ lack of accountability to those they purportedly serve. Even less attention has been devoted to the role so-called non-governmental organizations have played in undermining the Haitian state and advancing wealthy countries’ interests.

According to a series of news reports, Oxfam UK’s Haiti director hired prostitutes and organized orgies at a charity-run villa set up after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Some of the girls may have been as young as 14, and Oxfam representatives traded aid for sex. Oxfam UK leaders tried to keep the issue quiet when it emerged in 2011, which enabled a number of the perpetrators to join other NGOs operating internationally.

Since the earthquake there have been innumerable stories of NGOs abusing their power or pillaging funds raised for Haitians. In an extreme case, the U.S. Red Cross built only six houses with the $500 million they raised for Haiti after the earthquake.

While impoverished Haitians get short shrift, NGOs respond to the interests of their benefactors. After the UN occupation force brought cholera to Haiti in October 2010, Oxfam and other NGOs defended the Washington-France–Canada instigated MINUSTAH (Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti). In response to Haitians protesting the UN’s role in the cholera outbreak, Oxfam spokeswoman Julie Schindalltold the Guardian

“if the country explodes in violence, then we will not be able to reach the people we need to.”

At the same time Médecins Sans Frontières’ head of mission in Port-au-Prince, Stefano Zannini, told Montreal daily La Presse that

our position is pragmatic: to have learnt the source at the beginning of the epidemic would not have saved more lives. To know today would have no impact either.”

Of course that was nonsense. Confirming the source of the cholera was medically necessary. At the time of these statements, UN forces were still disposing their sewage in a way that put Haitian life at risk. Protesting UN actions was a way to pressure MINUSTAH to stop their reckless sewage disposal and generate the resources needed to deal with a cholera outbreak that left 10,000 dead and one million ill.

Worse than deflecting criticism of the UN’s responsibility for the cholera outbreak, NGOs put a progressive face on the invasion/coup that initiated MINUSTAH. Incredibly, many NGOs justified U.S. Marines taking an elected President from his home in the middle of the night and dumping him 10,000 km away in the Central African Republic. On March 25, 2004 Oxfam Québec and a half dozen other Canadian government-funded NGOs defended Canada’s (military, diplomatic and financial) role in the ouster of thousands of elected officials, including President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Marthe Lapierre of Development and Peace stated:

We’re not talking about a situation where a rebel group suddenly orchestrated Aristide’s departure. We’re talking about a situation where the Aristide government, since 2000, had gradually lost all legitimacy because of involvement in activities such as serious human rights violations and drug trafficking, but also because it was a profoundly undemocratic government.”

Oxfam Québec regional director Carlos Arancibia concurred:

I fully agree with the analysis presented by others. It’s important to understand that things went off the rails starting in the year 2000, with the election.”

(After they lost the May 2000 legislative elections the opposition claimed that the electoral Council should have used a different voting method, which would have forced eight Senate seats to a runoff. Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party would likely have won the runoff votes, but the U.S./Canada backed opposition used the issue to justify boycotting the November 2000 presidential election, which they had zero chance of winning. For its part, Washington used the election dispute to justify blocking aid to the country. Even without the disputed senators, Fanmi Lavalas still had a majority in the senate and even when seven of the eight Lavalas senators resigned the aid embargo and effort to discredit the elections continued.)

At the time of the coup, most of Haiti’s social services were run by NGOs. A Canadian International Development Agency report stated that by 2004, “non-governmental actors (for-profit and not-for-profit) provided almost 80 percent of [Haiti’s] basic services.” Amongst other donor countries, the Canadian government channelled its “development assistance” through NGOs to shape the country’s politics.

According to CIDA,

“supporting non-governmental actors contributed to the creation of parallel systems of service delivery. … In Haiti’s case, these actors [NGOs] were used as a way to circumvent the frustration of working with the government … this contributed to the establishment of parallel systems of service delivery, eroding legitimacy, capacity and will of the state to deliver key services.”

As intended, funding NGOs weakened the Aristide/René Préval/Aristide governments and strengthened the U.S./France/Canada’s hand.

Highly dependent on Western government funding and political support, NGOs broadly advanced their interests.

The Oxfam “sex scandal” should shine a light on the immense, largely unaccountable, power NGOs continue to wield over Haitian affairs. It should also be a lesson in how not to use “aid” to undermine democracy.

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Featured image is fro Flickr.

In a 5-3 decision handed down on Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Jennings v. Rodriguez that the government can arrest and indefinitely detain immigrants, depriving them of the fundamental right to bail.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of immigrants will be locked up in internment camps as their immigration cases proceed, with no opportunity for release until their cases are decided—a process that often takes years. Roughly 450,000 immigrants were jailed in detention centers at some point during the last year, and that number will increase astronomically after yesterday’s ruling.

The decision makes no distinction between undocumented immigrants and those with legal permanent residency. It means millions of immigrants living in the US are subject to arrest and indefinite detention.

This milestone event has passed with virtually no comment in the corporate-controlled press. As of Tuesday evening, the online front pages of the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and Politico had no coverage of the ruling, while the New York Times had a single article far down its page. At the same time, these five sites featured a combined 23 front-page articles on the anti-Russia witch hunt.

No major Democratic Party official has made a statement on the ruling, and the Twitter accounts of Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are all silent.

The case was initiated by Alejandro Rodriguez, a Mexican citizen who was jailed in 2004 and held in detention without bond as his case made its way through the arduous immigration appeals process. In 2007, after being imprisoned for three years, he filed a habeas corpus petition challenging his long detention. The District Court for the Central District of California ultimately certified a class of plaintiffs including thousands of similarly situated immigrants on whose behalf the suit was fought. Many class members have been detained for longer than six months.

Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion shows the depth of support within the ruling class for police-state methods of rule.

“Detention during [immigration] proceedings gives immigration officials time to determine an alien’s status without running the risk of the alien’s either absconding or engaging in criminal activity,” the decision reads.

The ruling overturns a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision mandating bond hearings after six months of detention. Alito scolded the Ninth Circuit for the “implausible” argument that indefinite detention “raise[s] serious constitutional concerns.”

Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts, mocked the three-justice dissent for “devoting the first two-thirds of its opinion to a disquisition on the Constitution.” Thomas and Gorsuch agreed with the result but said the court should throw the challenge out because immigrants do not have the habeas corpus right to even question the legality of their detention.

Justice Stephen Breyer, whose dissent was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor, warned:

“No one can claim, nor since the time of slavery has anyone to my knowledge successfully claimed, that persons held within the United States are totally without constitutional protection. Whatever the fiction, would the Constitution leave the Government free to starve, beat or lash those held within our boundaries? If not, then, whatever the fiction, how can the Constitution authorize the Government to imprison arbitrarily those who, whatever we might pretend, are in reality right here in the United States? The answer is that the Constitution does not authorize arbitrary detention. And the reason that it is so is simple: Freedom from arbitrary detention is as ancient and important a right as any found within the Constitution’s boundaries.”

Elsewhere, he added,

“We need only recall the words of the Declaration of Independence, in particular its insistence that all men and women have ‘certain unalienable Rights,’ and that among them is the right to ‘Liberty.’”

Although the Democratic appointees’ dissent makes additional warnings about the impact of yesterday’s decision, there has been no comment on the role of the Democratic Party in paving the way for the decision. Democratic nominee Elena Kagan recused herself from the decision because she was solicitor general when the Obama administration argued against granting the plaintiffs a bond hearing in the lower courts and in support of indefinite immigrant detention.

The statutes cited by the Alito majority were passed with bipartisan support. When Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch argued that immigrants have no right to even file habeas corpus petitions based on final deportation orders, they cited a statute enacted as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which had bipartisan approval in Congress, including from Democrats such as Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein, Elijah Cummings, Steny Hoyer and Sheila Jackson-Lee, and was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

The case now heads back to the Ninth Circuit. In rejecting the six-month bond requirement set by that court, the Supreme Court remanded for further deliberation on the merits of the immigrants’ constitutional claims.

Jennings v. Rodriguez is further proof that the Bill of Rights is a dead letter. Both parties have signed off on mass surveillance, illegal war, state torture, black site prisons and drone assassinations of US citizens without warrants or trials. The decision of the political and media establishment to downplay the significance of Tuesday’s ruling shows that there is no constituency for the defense of democratic rights in the American ruling class.

The authorization for a regime of mass indefinite detention is an existential threat to workers of all national origins, regardless of immigration status. There is a history in the US, including during miners’ strikes in Bisbee, Arizona in 1917 and Colorado from 1901 to 1903, of the government indefinitely detaining and even deporting striking workers from one state to another at the behest of the corporations. Not only will the decision be cited as the Trump administration expands the network of immigrant internment camps across the country, it will soon be turned against US citizen workers as well.

*

Featured image is from teleSUR.

Pyeongchang Olympics might be able to offer the third chance of peace in the Korean peninsula. In fact, there were two chances of peace in the past, one in 1994 and the other in 2005. Both could have led to success but failed because of some unjustifiable reasons. Let us hope that the third chance will succeed.

One of the most memorable events of the Pyeongchang Olympics was the visiting of the North Korean delegation including Kim Young Nam, head of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and, above all, Kim Yo-Jong, sister of Kim Jong-un who came with her brother’s message of peace and a possible inter-Korean summit. Kim Jong-un’s message has given the world a hope of peace.

The world is asking this question:

“What is the chance of ending the nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula after the Pyeongchang Olympics?”

In fact, there were two chances of peace in the past, one in 1994 and the other in 2005.

On October 21, 1994, there was what was called the Framework Agreement by virtue of which North Korea agreed to abandon all nuclear programs in return of peace, construction of two Light Water Reactors (LWR), supply of 500,000 tons of fuel oil and even international assistance for the economic development of North Korea. The second chance of peace in the Korean peninsula came in 2005. On September 19, 2005, at the 4th round of the 6-Party Talks in Beijing, North Korea promised what it had proposed in 1994 in return of peace with Washington and the supply of heavy fuel oil. North Korea also promised to return to NPT and allow the inspections of IAEA.

The international community blew both chances of peace. The 1994 Agreement failed because of mutual mistrust between the U.S. and North Korea, controversy surrounding missile tests and, above all, Washington’s treatment of North Korea as a part of the “axis of evil”.

The chance of peace in 2005 did not succeed largely because of the lack of mutual trust and, in particular, freezing of Pyongyang’s $ 25 million deposited at the Banco Delta Asia in Macao. But, these visible reasons of the failures of peace opportunities were merely circumstantial ones. What were then the fundamental reasons? To answer this question, we have to know the nature of the bilateral relations between the U.S. and North Korea. To be more precise, we have to know what each side expects to get from the bilateral relations.

What North Korea wants is to be free from the American attacks. To do so, North Korea claims that it is obliged to have nuclear weapons. This position has been consistently kept for the last several decades. In fact, the dying message of Kim Il-sung to his son, Kim Jong-il was denuclearization of the Korean peninsula; Kim Il-sung did not want nuclear weapons in Korea. Kim Jong-il did not want to have them either; he wanted to respect his father’s wish.

Kim Jong-il told Japanese Prime Minister, Koizumi, at the meeting with the Japanese delegation on May 22, 2004 in Pyongyang, about his deep concerns about possible US attacks; he made it quite clear that North Korea had to develop nuclear weapons solely to defend itself. His message was quite clear:

“Nobody can keep silent, if threatened by someone with a stick. We come to have nuclear weapons for the sake of the right of existence. If our existence is secured, nuclear weapons will be not necessary any more”.

A statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea of October 11, 2006 made the same point. It said:

“The nuclear test was entirely attributable to US nuclear threat, sanctions and pressure. North Korea was compelled to substantially prove its possession of nuclear arms to protect its sovereignty”.

This position has been clearly reiterated in Kim Jong-un’s New Year speeches since he took over the power in 2012.

In other words, in the eyes of North Korea, the fundamental root of the nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula is American threats to attack the land of Juche. As far as Pyongyang is concerned, the deployment of a large number of American nuclear assets in South Korea during the Cold War era, installation of the American nuclear umbrella protecting Japan and South Korea since 1991, annual U.S.-South Korea joint war games (the Foal Eagle and Key Resolve joint exercises in Spring and Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise in Autumn) have been and are real threats to Pyongyang.

North Korea being threatened by the U.S. has been consistently asking for peace with the U.S. Then, why does the U.S. ignore Pyongyang’s plea? There can be three reasons. First, the U.S. might worry about the North Korean dream of reunifying the peninsula under the Red Flag. But, North Korea officially abandoned such dream by virtue of its 1992 Constitution. Besides, the North Korean model of reunification is the regime of Koryo Confederation in which both Koreas would remain sovereign states.

Second, American leaders may not like the ideology of North Korea. It is certain that the North Korean ideology is different from American values. But, the U.S. has friendly relations with many countries having ideologies which are very different from the American way of thinking.

Third, the U.S. claims that North Korea is a threat to the U.S. This begs two questions. Does North Korea have the military capacity to threaten the U.S.? Even if it has such capacity, what benefits can it expect to gain from threatening the super power? Let us be realistic about such possibilities. North Korea is a small country with a population of 23 million people, a GDP of US$40 billion spending each year perhaps less than US$ 5 billion on national defence. How can such a small country threaten the U.S. of 327 million people with a GDP of US$18 trillion spending each year more than US$ 600 billion on national defence?

It is true that North Korea has been making belligerent statements even warning counter attacks. But, this warning has been for self defence, not for offensive purposes. A more important question is about possible benefits which North Korea expects to obtain from engaging a war against the U.S. Nobody would deny what is inevitable; a war with the U.S. would be a certain tragic suicide of Pyongyang’s regime.

On its part, the U.S. argues that its mighty military muscles deployed in South Korea are for the protection of South Korea and the U.S. against North Korean nuclear attacks. But North Korea says that it has no intention of attacking South Korea. At the same time, North Korea says that it will never attack the U.S. unless it is threatened. The trouble is that Washington does not seem to believe what North Korea is saying. Here lies the root of deep mistrust between Washington and Pyongyang.

Under these circumstances, what is the chance of having permanent peace in the Korean peninsula? It goes without saying that the first thing to do is reopening of dialogue between Pyongyang on the one hand, and on the other hand, Washington and Seoul. Fortunately, owing to highly productive diplomatic initiatives of the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, shown during the Pyeongchang Olympics, the dialogue has become a possibility

Obviously the dialogue is a good start, but the dialogue must lead to fruitful negotiations for peace. The success of negotiations depends on a compromise between what the U.S. wants and what North Korea desires. It is likely that Pyongyang will demand peace treaty with the U.S., elimination of joint military exercises, or reduction of their size at least, removal of sanctions, compensation for the loss of economic benefits due to sanctions and resuming of Inter-Korean peaceful interaction and cooperation. In return, Pyongyang might abandon its nuclear program.

On the other hand, The U.S. may satisfy some parts of North Korea’s demand; it may reduce the range of sanctions; it may reduce the size of joint military exercises; it could allow inter-Korean cooperation. But what does Trump really want from the negotiation? It appears that Trump asks no less than a full denuclearization of the land of Kim Jong-un. But if the full denuclearization of North Korea takes place, Tramp will have difficulty in justifying the deployment of American armed forces in South Korea. The world will be anxious to see how far Trump will go in negotiations

*

Professor Joseph H. Chung is Associated Professor of Economics and Co-director of East Asia Observatory of University of Quebec in Montreal. He has been teaching economics at various universities in Canada and Korea. His recent research projects have been focusing on inter-Korean relations, in particular, the issue of reunification of the Korean peninsula.


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

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102
Print Edition: $10.25 (+ shipping and handling)
PDF Edition:  $6.50 (sent directly to your email account!)

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   

WWIII Scenario

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

The Russia Indictment: A Danger to Peace and Democracy

March 1st, 2018 by Christopher Black

The Indictment issued by the US Department of Justice on February 16, against Russians alleged to have “defrauded the United States government” and a wave of “sanctions” imposed or threatened against the Russian government and individuals the past few weeks echo the Nazi propaganda and ideological preparation of the German people in the period leading up to Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941. The same techniques are being applied to the American population to build a psychological architecture of war and destruction. It is the arming of the civilian population with xenophobic and nationalistic abstractions to create support for violent action, for war, and the suppression of democracy. It is a danger to world peace and to democracy in the west only collective action can remove.

The entire anti-Russian propaganda campaign for the past several years rests on the long-standing stereotypes planted in American minds during the Soviet period, but now reinforced and expanded upon to amplify fear and hatred of Russia and its people. Hitler was very successful in mobilizing the German nation for war and creating enemies with slander and disinformation against Russians and Jews. A mythical world was created that had no relation to objective reality. The Nazis used these methods to create an illusion of ever-present terror to solidify their control over a people in despair of their condition, the poverty of their lives, to create the conformity they needed to impose a dictatorship.

The same process is proceeding to unfold in the United States. The Russian “Slavic menace” used by the Nazis has been replaced with the Russian “threat to democracy.” Just as the Soviet Union was portrayed by the Nazis as a subhuman state rule by criminals, Russia now is portrayed by the US ruling class and their intelligence services as an evil state ruled by criminals.

It is interesting to note that the US propaganda indictment uses 2014 as the reference date for the beginning of the alleged Russian campaign to subvert democracy in America, for it was in 2014 that the United States backed the neo-Nazi coup against the elected government of Ukraine. That coup led to the disaster that is now Ukraine, for as soon as the coup took place, the threats against Russians and Russian culture in Ukraine caused the peoples of east Ukraine to either join the Russian Federation as happened in Crimea or to set up separate republics in the Donbass region to resist the neo Nazi factions that took power in Kiev. The coup partly succeeded in moving NATO right up to the Russian border but failed to take control of all Ukraine since the reaction of the people of eastern Ukraine denied them possession of the industrial and mining resources of Donbass and denied them the important naval base at Sevastopol.

That this is a propaganda campaign is evidenced by the corresponding allegations of Russian “threats to democracy’ in Britain and Europe. New allegations smear the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn with alleged past links to Soviet and Czech communist agents, the latest in a long list of accusations that he is a Putin puppet. That the communists are not in power in Russia does not matter. The important point is that the allegations link him to Russians and the constant menacing theme in the mass media that NATO countries and “democracy” are under threat from Russian subversion. The objective is two-fold; primarily to recreate Russians as the “other,” as the enemy that needs to be dealt with and, secondarily, to discredit political parties and suppress popular movements that have social and economic justice as their aims.

The suppression of populist or left political parties, suppression of dissent and providing scapegoats to the NATO public for their increasingly desperate lives under capitalism by attributing public discontent to the Russian “sowing of discord,” as is claimed in the American indictment, are all important objectives in this campaign. But the larger ambition of the United States and its allies is the elimination of Russia as an independent and sovereign nation and its shattering into a thousands pieces. Any opposition to this objective is now being criminalised in the US as support of the Russian “conspiracy against democracy.”

The continuing theatrical staging of hearings on Russian subversion in the US Congress, the daily media coverage on the subject, the harassment of Russians even on the sports field and its banning from the Winter Olympics, are a prelude to wider ranging actions. We can expect US citizens to be arrested on bogus charges to send shock waves through the population. The indictment is carefully constructed to prepare the ground for that with the use of the phrase “Defendants did knowingly conspire with each other and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury.” Who the persons “known” are will be interesting to determine for if they are known why are they not named.

But the unknown can be anyone, anyone at all. CNN, on February 21 ran a video, under the title, “Who are the citizens hired by Russian trolls,” of one of their “journalists” baiting a woman in Florida, a Mrs. Goldfarb, whom they had tracked down as being one of the supposed dupes of the Russians, accusing her of acting on their behalf. Her pleas to leave her alone, that she never helped any Russians and was as patriotic as the CNN man, were met by a microphone shoved into her face and aspersions cast on her true motives and loyalty. It is not far from aggressive CNN men to aggressive police interrogating and arresting citizens. Mrs. Goldfarb got it right when she fired back “It’s all bullshit,” a heroic act these days. But her name is now public and she is now deemed a co-conspirator. In fact anyone who criticises the state of the nation can be labelled as a co-conspirator. So that, on the lie that they are protecting “democracy” the American ruling class in control of the machinery of government is destroying what little democracy there is in that country and for their sole benefit.

As the character Agius, a US agent up to no good in Canada, says in my novel, “You talk about democracy and truth in your trials, in your tiresome lectures. You talk about justice. There is no such thing. A crisis exists. You can see it all around you. In a crisis you must have order. The people are told a myth. It makes them feel good about themselves. It panders to their egos. You want to take the myth from them and tell them there is no god. They don’t want to be told that, Eiger.” And for too many in the United States and other NATO countries this seems to be the case. There are too few Mrs. Goldfarbs out there.

But the problem she has along with many others is that she blames everything on Hillary Clinton, or Trump, or whoever they have been deluded into thinking has the power, instead of the entire socio-economic and political system she is buried in. In fact there is a wide spread notion in the USA that the Russian subversion of American democracy theme is a plot by Clinton and the Democratic Party upset about losing the election to Trump and the Republicans. There may be some truth to that. But I suggest that this campaign was planned long before and would have taken place even if she had won. The same allegations would have been made, with different details, of Russian attempts to undermine her and American democracy as they have been made in Britain even under Conservative Party rule. For their purpose it didn’t matter who won. The objective was the same under either scenario. Paint a picture of the US under threat and Russia as the evil destroyer of American democracy. For conditions in the United States require a scapegoat if the lid is to be kept on. The continuous mass shootings, even in schools, across that nation, are the bubbles of a seething cauldron of anger and despair.

If the reports of dozens of Russians being killed in Syria by American bombs are correct, then the war is already on, the action against the scapegoat is heating up, but no one officially wants to say it yet. That attack was a provocation, like several other hostile actions. There is no other reason that the Americans did it except as a provocation. The reaction, the consequence is yet to come. But the actions match the hostile rhetoric so we can expect further provocations, in Syria, in Ukraine, in the Baltic, and in Asia as the Americans build and use their armed forces in synchronisation with their domestic and international propaganda.

In a previous article, I referred to Soviet attempts at the United Nations to have war propaganda made a war crime, an attempt the Americans opposed. It bears repeating because what we are looking at in the United States is a deliberate campaign, using war propaganda, to generate hostility to a nation in order to justify a war.

A Soviet draft definition of aggression presented to the General Assembly in 1957 defined war propaganda as ideological aggression. Their draft stated that a state has committed ideological aggression when it ‘encourages war propaganda, encourages propaganda for the use of atomic or other weapons of mass extermination and stimulates Nazi-fascist views, racial or national superiority, or hatred and disdain for other peoples.’”

The American governments have never obeyed international law unless it served their interests so stating that this is the law and that they are criminals might make us feel that we have done something but will change nothing; applying a label only identifies; useful, yes, and then what? That is the question, to be class conscious or not to be conscious at all, to act collectively or not to act at all. For this war being waged is not just against Russia as a state or a nation, nor the Russian people but against all of us the world over who have nothing but the power of our labour and combined action to resist; to resist the forces of capital that want to dominate and exploit us. So unite and act. What do we have to lose? Everything.

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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.”

Featured image is from the author.

The crumbling “liberal” West is in a desperate hurry in the Balkans. More than a quarter century since the first Western states, pushed by Germany, unilaterally recognized the secession of the former Yugoslav federal republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and about 19 years since NATO’s air and land attack against what had remained of the country (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro) resulting in NATO’s occupation and subsequent forced amputation of Serbia’s Kosovo and Metohija province (by way of recognition of its unilaterally declared independence of February 2008 by the main Western powers, some – but not all Muslim countries – and all the smaller countries whose hands Uncle Sam could either twist or stuff with a fistful of dollars) – NATO’s taskmasters are increasingly showing signs of nervousness for having failed to establish complete control over the territory of the former model multi-ethnic country and calls for the Alliance to take care of “unfinished business” in the region are gaining in volume.

Just last summer, Montenegro was expressly absorbed into NATO, on the wings of a contrived, supposedly Russian-backed “attempted coup” (the “evidence” of which is on par with that so far offered to back claims of the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russians during the 2016 US presidential campaign) and the associated intimidation and scare-mongering used to justify pushing the country into the Alliance without allowing something as cumbersome as a referendum to get in the way. This special op might have, at first glance, seemed rather trivial, considering Montenegro’s tiny size and population of about 600,000. Until, that is, one looks at a map and realizes that the traditionally Russian-allied country was the last non-NATO holdout in the northern Mediterranean.

Next, it was Macedonia’s turn. First, its nationalist government, which had the temerity to actively court Chinese investment and good relations with Russia had to be jettisoned. This was accomplished through a destabilizing George Soros and US-backed campaign, the inevitable evidence-free claims of “Russian meddling” and the installing of a new pro-Western government in May 2017, brokered by the EU and US, after some major arm-twisting by US diplomat Hoyt Brian Yee (the deputy of Victoria Nuland of the Ukrainian coup and “F*ck the EU” fame), with the crucial aid of Macedonia’s Albanian minority – the Atlanticists’ most reliable trump card in the Balkans over the past three decades. In addition to promising the Albanians equal status with that of the majority Macedonians (who are South Slavs and make up about 65% of the population, as opposed to the Albanians’ 25%), new prime minister Zoran Zaev’s main task is to make way for Macedonia’s EU accession and express admission to – you guessed it – NATO. Toward that end, hurried negotiations are now being conducted with Greece, which has been blocking Macedonia’s NATO aspirations for the better part of two decades until the country changes its name, i.e., gives up claims to being the historic Macedonia of Alexander the Great and, potentially, to Greece’s own Macedonia region. Since the start of 2018, Macedonia’s new government has taken steps toward that end, renaming its capital city Skopje’s airport (from “Alexander the Great” to “Skopje International Airport”) as well as its main highway to Greece (from “Alexander the Great” to “Friendship Highway”). That still hasn’t fully satisfied Greece, but Macedonian diplomacy is doing its utmost to speed the process along in time for the next NATO summit in July 2018. By securing Macedonia, NATO not only adds another piece of jewelry but also gains firm control of a key communication along the Balkan branch of both China’s New Silk Road and the Russian Turkish Stream gas pipeline.

That leaves Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H) as the last former Yugoslav non-NATO holdouts. Serbia is still a hard nut to crack, due to its relative size, traditional stubborn independence and military tradition – although it is being subjected to increasing pressure, as witnessed by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s recent warning that the West was pushing Serbia towards a Ukrainian scenario by forcing it to choose between the EU and Russia.

That leaves B-H as the weakest remaining link to break. The political parties representing the majority Muslims are not an obstacle, nor are the Croats (roughly 17% of the population). However, Bosnia’s Serbs, making up about a third of the population, but controlling 49% of the territory as a result of the Dayton Peace Accords of 1995 (according to which B-H is made up of two entities: the Serbian majority Republika Srpska, and the Muslim and Croat majority B-H Federation, comprising 51% of the country), are resolutely opposed to NATO membership, for three main reasons: a) memories of NATO powers’ demonization of the Serbs and siding with Sarajevo’s Islamic fundamentalist leadership during the bloody civil war of 1992-95, as well as today, b) refusal to be at odds with neighboring Serbia, which has declared military neutrality and refusal to join any military bloc, c) desire to retain friendship with Russia and other non-NATO countries.

As a result, since adopting its own Resolution on military neutrality last fall, making it impossible for B-H to be officially invited to join NATO, the Serbian leadership in B-H has been subjected to various fake news campaigns and provocations concocted in various Anglo-American media, military and diplomatic kitchens.

First came allegations that – what else? – a “Russian-trained” group under the name “Serbian Honor” (or “Srbska čast” in the original Serbian) took part in a parade marking the anniversary of Republika Srpska on January 9. The Washington Post and the Guardian quickly put out the distress calls, with appropriately alarmist headlines: “Russia finds young men who love guns — and grooms them” and “Russian-trained mercenaries back Bosnia’s Serb separatists.” But, as has become the custom of late with what Donald Trump has christened the fake news media, the claims have proven to be evidence-free.

For one, while a group called “Serbian Honor” does exist, Republika Srpska Police Minister Dragan Lukac has denied that it took part in the parade. For two, absolutely no evidence has been offered that its members are “Russian-trained,” except for empty claims of supposed ties between this obscure group and the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center established in the Serbian city of Nish in 2012. The irony here is especially rich, as the Center’s main activity since its inception has been to provide personnel and resources to help clear the thousands of illegal cluster munitions and aerial bombs left behind by NATO’s illegal bombing of Serbia in 1999. That’s right: Russian resources are being used to clean up NATO’s crime scene. And, yet, the lead NATO country is accusing Russia of exercising “malign influence” in the region.

The Center also provided vital aid during the catastrophic floods that beset Serbia in 2014. Yet, again, the main NATO countries have persistently tried to portray this small outpost – hosting, as Serbia’s foreign minister has put it, a grand total of “five Serbs, four Russians and one dog” – as some sort of sinister spy, or even military base. All that has been lacking is – you guessed it – evidence to back up these ludicrous claims. Even Reuters admitted as much, reporting that no sources were cited in the original story to back up the claim that “mercenaries” were being trained there. But, as we’ve learned, especially over the past several years, a minor inconvenience such as the truth must not stand in the way of the “greater good” of restarting the Cold War, even at the risk of making it substantially “warmer” than its previous incarnation.

Then, in early February, came another (alleged) scandal: the dastardly Bosnian Serb police were now – egads! – arming themselves. “Arms shipment to Bosnian Serbs stokes EU fears,” warned the trusty Guardian, with accompanying echoes in the Bosnian Muslim press. Except, it turned out that the Republika Srpska police had finally decided to buy its first batch of guns in 20 years. And that it had all been cleared with the B-H central authorities. And that, as clarified by the well respected Croatian journalist, Darko Hudelist, other police units in Bosnia’s Muslim-majority cantons had also recently purchased new weapons. Of course, there was no accompanying screaming Guardian headline to set the record straight.

Finally, in mid February, a Bosnian news site uncovered plans to hold a NATO military exercise in B-H in 2019. Naturally, this was to take part in the resolutely anti-NATO Serbian majority part of the country, near its capital of Banja Luka. However, the real news was the planned use of American A-10 Warthog close air support warplanes, and their possible use of depleted uranium munitions. As was to be expected, the response from Republika Srpska was that of outrage. NATO had twice bombed Serbian army positions during the B-H civil war, in 1994 and 1995, and the population living in the areas where DU ammunition was used saw an alarming rise in cancer rates in the subsequent years, as has been the case in neighboring Serbia, where DU munitions were much more heavily used during NATO’s illegal air war of 1999.

The US Embassy in Sarajevo issued denials, but the published documents did indeed show that the use of A-10 and DU ammunition was being considered. Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska, flatly warned NATO “not to dare” use DU ammo, while the inhabitants of the villages near the proposed military exercise site vowed to block the event from taking place.

This is classic psychological warfare, and it’s bound to intensify. For, in its steady buildup along Russia’s western borders, NATO seems to be seeking to eliminate all potential loose ends in its rear. And Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are precisely that. In the war-weary Balkans, especially in the Serbian majority parts, that kind of calculus has an eerily familiar ring. It was the Serbs that rose to reject the Royal Yugoslav government’s attempt to appease Nazi Germany by signing a pact with it on March 25, 1941. As a result, Hitler had to postpone his attack on the USSR for several crucial weeks until the Serbian-led rebellion could be pacified (it was, but only briefly, as two majority Serb guerilla movements arose during summer of 1941, and fought on until the country’s liberation). Some think that this at least partly contributed to the Nazi war machine’s failure to break Stalin before the Russian winter set in, which ultimately cost it the war.

Some might find the analogy surprising. But actions speak louder than words. As in the US, it’s now practically all “Russia! Russia! Russia!” in the Balkans, and the traditionally pro-Russian Serbs are under rapidly increasing political, propaganda and military pressure to join the “new order,” finally give up their historic and spiritual Kosovo heartland, and turn their backs on their traditional Russian ally and Orthodox Christian co-religionists. The West’s quarter century long anti-Serbian and, by extension, anti-Russian crusade is intensifying, and things may well be coming to a head in the near future.

And we know what it might mean when things are coming to a head in the Balkans…

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Aleksandar Pavic is an independent analyst and researcher.

Featured image is from the author.

Selected Articles: Western Propaganda to Foment Violence

March 1st, 2018 by Global Research News

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Mainstream Media Disinformation on Syria

By Inside Syria Media Center, February 28, 2018

According to The Guardian journalists, “as many as 150 airstrikes beginning on Sunday were recorded in 18 towns of Idlib province by Monday”. Trying to imagine the number of attacks carried out without interruption for 12 hours we came to the conclusion that Idlib Governorate, in the view of The Guardian, has suffered a saturation bombing. In fact, if these figures were accurate at least eight aircraft would have flown mission and dropped about 60 bombs at every town – based on an average maximum loading of eight FAB-500 general purpose bombs per one Su-25 jet.

The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions

By Jonathan Cook, February 28, 2018

Western governments and western corporate media have promoted a common narrative on Syria. It has been difficult for outsiders to be sure of what is going on, given that Syria has long been a closed society, a trend only reinforced by the last seven years of a vicious civil-cum-proxy war, and the presence of brutal ISIS and al Qaeda militias.

Video: No Chemical Weapons Used by Assad in Syria? Reality Check.

BBen Swann, February 28, 2018

Secretary of Defense James Mattis says there is no evidence that the Syrian government used sarin gas on its own people.

It is a narrative we have been pushing back on for years. So what does this mean for U.S. policy in Syria? And will President Trump continue to push for war in Syria, or will he return to the positions of candidate Trump who said the U.S. should stay out of it?

US Intends Indefinite Illegal Occupation of Syrian and Iraqi Territory

By Stephen Lendman, February 28, 2018

Russia operates in Syria by invitation. So do Hezbollah fighters and Iranian military advisors. US forces are there illegally – waging naked aggression by terror-bombing and support for terrorists, seeking regime change.

For All Practical Purposes, the American System of Government Is Failing. How and Why?

By Prof Rodrigue Tremblay, February 28, 2018

Observers have noticed, however, that since the 1980’s, something big has occurred in the United States: the political system and its processes have fallen into the hands of an unscrupulous money establishment in a way that has left a majority of Americans deprived of the basic services they are entitled to receive from their government.

Here’s How Syrian “Rebels” Manipulate Information From East Ghouta

By Roberto Vivaldelli, February 27, 2018

In the Eastern Ghouta in Syria, a war is fought every day without the exclusion of blows: it is the war of information and propaganda, which is consumed by tweets and photographic material on social networks. Objective: to bring public opinion to its own side, at any cost and by any means.

What Could a Left Presidency Look Like in Mexico?

February 28th, 2018 by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) could become Mexico’s first progressive president in generations, but what would such a presidency actually look like? It is not an easy question to answer, though his time as leader of Mexico’s largest city could offer some insights. Between 2000 and 2005, Lopez Obrador headed the government of Mexico City. In a position akin to mayor, AMLO ran a city that today boasts a population of 8.9 million people in the city proper, and 20 million people if the surrounding greater urban area is included. In short, Mexico City is a country within a country.

When AMLO left office, he enjoyed an 84% approval rating. His welfare reforms were wildly popular, and he gave the city a major facelift while improving public transport and education. On the other hand, he has been accused of failing to address corruption while sparking controversy with his views on domestic security.

We cannot know whether AMLO – who polls suggest could win Mexico’s upcoming presidential elections – will run the country the same way he ran its capital. It has been more than a decade since he left the mayor’s office, and both he and Mexico have changed a lot.

Moreover, a potentially hostile congress could make AMLO’s election promises impossible to fulfil – not to mention the external challenges posed by the Donald Trump administration in the United States.

Nonetheless, AMLO’s time as mayor of Mexico City is our best window into understanding his style of governance. So, a decade on, how did he do?

Welfare

Without doubt, AMLO’s biggest achievement as mayor of Mexico City was to create the country’s first comprehensive, socially-funded retirement pension system.

Before AMLO, Mexico had a mostly privatized system of income-related pensions with some government subsidies. This system was woefully inadequate. In 2000, only about 22% of Mexicans aged 65 and older had any kind of pension. Today, 88% of all Mexican seniors have a pension – largely thanks to AMLO.

In 2001, AMLO’s government introduced a universal pension to residents of Mexico City. Anyone older than 70 was entitled to the pension (later lowered to 68).

The scheme was very popular, though it had problems. For one, AMLO’s government set the pension in 2001 at just half the minimum wage, or about US$65 a month. Nonetheless, more than 80% of Mexico City’s seniors had successfully applied for a pension by the end of the next year.

This figure continued to rise until about 2011, when figures plateaued. The pension application process was considered easy initially, but, after a decade, complaints began to mount that new applicants were suffering long waiting times.

AMLO’s pension program could hardly be considered a failure. In fact, the overwhelming popularity of the program forced AMLO’s political rivals to endorse pensions. AMLO put pensions on the national agenda, and used Mexico City as a laboratory to prove such programs could work.

Sadly, the pensions remain inadequate. Mexico has one of the lowest pension rates in Latin America and nearly half of Mexicans aged 65 and over still live in poverty.

An AMLO presidency could be expected to prioritize welfare programs like the senior pension. However, it remains to be seen whether he could deliver on providing dignified living for millions of elderly Mexicans still living hand-to-mouth.

Redevelopment

Supporters of AMLO say he revitalized a rusting city – and they have a point. Anyone who has visited Mexico City has likely spent some time meandering around the city’s well maintained old colonial centre. AMLO is largely to thank for the state of the historic centre, after he oversaw major renovations during his time as mayor.

Successive Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governments had promised to rejuvenate the city’s heart during the 1980s and ’90s, but when AMLO came to power the colonial centre remained a wreck of semi-abandoned colonial buildings and streets lined with garbage. Under AMLO, streets were re-paved, new street lights installed and the city scrubbed clean.

The secret to AMLO’s success was twofold. For one, his government relied on local communities to carry out most of the work, empowering locals to take the lead in repairing their city streets. This brought grassroots organizations into the fold, turning a largely aesthetic project into an exercise in community cooperation and pride.

But the second pillar of the redevelopment was more controversial: a heavy dependence on the support of billionaire Carlos Slim. Mexico’s richest man poured about US$200-million into the colonial centre during the first redevelopment phase alone, with critics accusing Slim of effectively buying the city.

Tax breaks and other incentives were also used to encourage investment. Critics warned the influx of private development was gentrifying vast swathes of the city and pricing out locals. AMLO responded by arguing the development was being accompanied by better services, better public safety and an improved city for all residents.

Education and Transport

Indeed, another of AMLO’s flagship initiatives was the creation of the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM) in 2001. Before then, the Federal District did not even have a public university. Not only that, but the UACM was the first new university built in Mexico for nearly three decades, making it a major achievement.

Later in AMLO’s term, he undertook arguably his biggest challenge: fixing Mexico City’s notoriously gridlocked traffic. The centrepiece of these efforts was the US$30-million Metrobus, which was hailed as Mexico City’s first new major public transport initiative in nearly 30 years.

Initially, the project saw jumbo-sized buses running down their own dedicated lane on a 20 kilometre stretch of the critical artery of Insurgentes, the longest avenue in Mexico City. Today, the Metrobus is on its seventh line, with successive governments expanding the popular initiative.

Along with providing fast, safe public transport, the system was also praised as a major step to address climate change. In its first decade of operation, Metrobus reduced Mexico City’s carbon footprint by just under 144,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This was achieved partly by coaxing Mexico City residents away from private vehicles while also replacing older, more polluting buses.

Yet the initiative was not without controversy. A clunky smart card system initially frustrated users, while environmentalists complained the bus lanes were built over the corpses of thousands of historic trees.

Meanwhile, Metrobus’ impact on the city’s traffic problem is unclear. Traffic continues to account for half of the city’s greenhouse gas emissionsstunt economic growth and kill nearly 1000 people annually in road accidents. The problem is so bad that Mexico City’s air remains unfit to breathe for much of the year.

In the face of such a huge traffic congestion crisis, critics say the Metrobus was simply too small in scope. Instead, they say the Metrobus was simply a cheaper alternative to a much better solution – more subway lines.

Still, AMLO has pledged to make university education universally accessible while investing heavily in infrastructure. His record suggests he is dead serious.

Corruption and Security

Finally, if AMLO has an Achilles heel, it is corruption. Despite vowing to crack down on corruption, AMLO’s record is spotty at best.

As mayor, two of AMLO’s close advisors were later accused of accepting bribes. More recently his party, MORENA, has been accused of failing to tackle corruption within its own ranksmisusing public resources for political purposes, and teaming up with allegedly corrupt allies.

Then there was his suggestion of offering amnesty to drug kingpins, which sparked a public backlash. AMLO supporters responded by arguing the backlash was the result of AMLO’s comments being exaggerated.

Nonetheless, on the question of corruption and impunity, AMLO’s record is not particularly impressive. In left-wing circles, it is the corruption issue that all-too-often leads to AMLO being branded as just another unreliable politician.

Foreign Policy and Energy

AMLO’s foreign policy is one area where he has broad support. He has arguably taken the toughest stance of any major candidate against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has devastated Mexico since the 1990s. He has pledged to do a better job of renegotiating the deal than the current administration of Enrique Pena Nieto.

“Pena is too quiet and Donald Trump speaks very loudly,” AMLO has said. “One doesn’t beg for liberty, one seizes it.”

Comments like these resonate well with Mexicans, who are tired of being derided as criminals and rapists. In some ways, Trump has done the most to help AMLO, despite the presidential hopeful toning down his anti-imperialist rhetoric in recent years.

The same could be said for AMLO’s stance on Mexico’s controversial energy reforms, which opponents say involve privatizing the country’s national resources. Once a firm opponent of the reforms, AMLO’s stance is less clear today. He has promised to carry out a public consultation on the reforms, but one of his closest allies has likewise promised to ensure existing privatization deals remain in place.

All up, AMLO’s record is far from perfect. He has a proven record on welfare, education, infrastructure and development, but his history of seemingly taking a light touch to corruption is worrisome. His energy policy positions are also an issue of concern, even if he may offer a better path than any other candidate.

Ultimately, Mexico’s entire political process is so encumbered with corruption that few, if any, candidates can be considered clean, AMLO included.

So while AMLO is, without any doubt, the only major candidate worth considering for progressives, it is still an open question as to whether he has what it takes to turn Mexico around.

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Ryan Mallett-Outtrim is an Australian independent journalist and travel writer currently living in Puebla, Mexico. He is a member of the alternative news collective Venezuelanalysis.com, and is a contributor to Australian alternative newspaper Green Left Weekly. He blogs at Dissent Sans Frontieres.

All images in this article are from the author.

Mainstream Media Disinformation on Syria

February 28th, 2018 by Inside Syria Media Center

The Guardian article from February 6, 2018, titled “Biggest airstrikes in a year hit Syria after rebels shoot down Russian jet” claims that “Russian and Syrian jets have bombed up to 18 towns across north-west Syria, devastating civilian areas and forcing fresh waves of refugees to flee”. According to the journalists Martin Chulov and Kareem Shahee, a series of devastating airstrikes have been carried out in the northwest of Idlib province. “Nine people were treated for symptoms of chlorine exposure after a bomb was dropped on the town of Saraqeb by a helicopter”, they claim.

Inside Syria Media Center has tried to get to the bottom of the adequacy of this information and determine whether it is credible.

Fake No.1 Mission Impossible

According to The Guardian journalists, “as many as 150 airstrikes beginning on Sunday were recorded in 18 towns of Idlib province by Monday”. Trying to imagine the number of attacks carried out without interruption for 12 hours we came to the conclusion that Idlib Governorate, in the view of The Guardian, has suffered a saturation bombing. In fact, if these figures were accurate at least eight aircraft would have flown mission and dropped about 60 bombs at every town – based on an average maximum loading of eight FAB-500 general purpose bombs per one Su-25 jet.

At the same time, Business Insider reports that “the most recent satellite images of the Russian-operated Hmeimim air base in Syria show Moscow has 10 types of aircraft in the war-torn country, 33 jets in total and a smaller number of fixed-wing aircraft.” So, all the Russian aircraft are supposed to have taken off and landed 4 times, refueled, loaded weapons and once again set course for Idlib for the 12 hours.

If it really did happen, this military operation could be compared to the one-night air raid on London during WW2, which caused over, 500 deaths a night. But this has nothing in common with the casualties reported by The Guardian.

Besides, The Guardian’s figures vary substantially with those from other sources. Thus, The Washington Post referring to ВВС channel reported 25 airstrikes on 15 towns. It also claimed that about 20 militants in the area died in bombardment while The Guardian cited 300 people killed, mostly women and children.

Having analyzed Turkish mass media, we do not consider the Guardian’s ‘facts’ to be authentic. For example, Anadolu Agency reported on civilian casualties referring to White Helmets’s director in Idlib, Mustafa Haj Yusuf. This organization has already been involved in staging fake videos. Moreover, Turkish media claimed the only tragic case had happened in Masaran village with eight locals killed and about 40 wounded from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2018. It was also reported that three mosques and a hospital had been destroyed in Maarat al-Numan without quoting the number of killed. So Guardian’s data on 300 civilians killed is also looking different.

Fake No.2 What happened in Termala?

Covering the situation around Termala, The Guardian’s reporters refer to some monitoring groups. In our opinion, the source of this false information is the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Surprisingly, we have not found any photos or videos which could prove this airstrike. The Observatory’s representatives said Russian airstrikes had killed three people targeting the village of Termala in Idlib on February 6. This information was widely disseminated by the influential Western media like Anadolu and NYP. However, their data slightly varies. Some report three civilians deaths while others report five deaths.

Fake No.3 “Chemical explosion”

There is a particular interest in a new case of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. According to The Guardian, “nine people were treated for symptoms of chlorine exposure after a bomb was dropped on the town of Saraqeb by a helicopter.” However, some American sources like Business Insider say there were two bombs and 11 wounded. The Guardian’s journalists refer to the unnamed ‘medics’. This alleged fact causes major doubts because of several reasons.

First, we’ve analyzed the craters formed, according to locals, by the barrel bomb with chlorine gas dropped on Saraqeb.

Location of the bomb dropped on Saraqeb

The result of the barrel bomb drop in Hama Governorate

The dispersion of soil fragments in craters doesn’t match with the barrel bomb drop. This is called a fragmentation effect. The detonating wave converts the shell and sends its fragments/splinters flying with high velocity in roughly three separate directions when the projectile reaches the surface and the explosive filler blows up.

The aperture of the craters formed and the amount of the splinters in them mostly depend on the shape and body of the shell, and also on the explosive filler inside. The directions of the splinters are affected by the velocity and the speed of rotation at the moment when the projectile explodes. Usually, the majority of the splinters are in the side cones (roughly 80 % of the splinters), and with the shells fired by cannons and howitzers, which have cylindrical projectiles, the aperture of the cone is usually between 40 – 50 degrees. The shells fired by mortars, are usually drop-shaped, giving the side cone an aperture of over 50 degrees. Below is the scheme of the dispersion of soil fragments.

The scheme shows that an artillery and mortar shell unlike a barrel bomb has a parabolic trajectory and coming in a shallow or a steep angle. At the same time, a vertically dropped barrel bomb has practically the similar dispersion of soil fragments in all the directions. The ammunition of different type and function can’t leave the same traces on the ground.

In the videos above, we can see the craters of that kind which are equal to many others formed as a result of artillery or mortar shell. So, the video shows the mortar crater, not the barrel one. The crater is most likely to have been created due to the militant attack.

Second, Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) found out the location of the alleged attack.

The supposed impact point of the two barrel bombs

However, thoroughly looking at the older Google-maps pictures dated 01/10/16 we can assume that the craters had been formed long ago.

The screenshot of Google-maps dated 01/10/16

It is worth paying special attention to the use of chlorine effects radius. We can use the following formula to describe the process.

R = 2,52 √ Q/d,

Q=spread over materials (tons),

d= density (tons m-3).

The density can be measured on the basis of the bomb’s form appeared in the video. The bomb of such type was allegedly dropped on Saraqeb. We identified that the chemical warheads for this barrel bomb do not exceed 10 kilos. Consequently, two barrel bombs’ mass is less than 20 kilos.

The screenshot of the barrel bomb allegedly dropped on Saraqeb

The chloride density is d=0,001557 tons m-3. We can calculate the radius of possible damage using the formula: R =2,52*√0,02/0,001557=9 meters.

Thus, only the people standing around the epicenter could be wounded. The nearby houses couldn’t be ruined.

Besides, the pictures of the bomb were taken in the different locations and not in the direct placement of the explosion. This fact can also confirm the falsification of The Guardian’s information.

The photos of the chlorine bomb taken not in the place of the explosion

The only house that could be affected is inhabited and half-constructed without roof and window-frames.

The photo of the house

The peak chlorine effects radius is laid down upon the map below.

The peak chlorine effects radius of the two bombs

Moreover, the puddle of water inside the crater emerged after the rain. It gave us an idea to see weather forecasts in Saraqeb where the bomb had been allegedly dropped.

The picture of the crater with the puddle of water in Saraqeb dated 02/04/2018

It turned out that a week before the video was posted on February 4, 2018, there had been no precipitations in Saraqeb. This proves that the video was made much earlier – for example, during the last rainfall on January 27, 2018.

The weather forecast in Saraqeb dated 02/04/2018

The article was written by Syrians for Truth & Justice special report group allegedly provides evidence of a chemical attack and contains the statements by the supervisors of the so-called Aviation Observatory which monitors the movement of warplanes in Saraqeb skies. The officer said that a helicopter with a designation “Alpha 253” had taken off from al-Manjazrat School, located in Hama countryside at 9:00 pm on February 4, 2018, and headed towards the north of Syria.

That day the sun went down at 17:03 pm, so it was very dark at 9:00 pm, and according to the weather forecast, the sky was cloudy.

It is curious to find out how the representative of the so-called Aviation Observatory could see a helicopter and its designation.

Another issue concerns the reasonability of dropping two barrels of poisonous gas. What military task the Syrian president (if it was him) could seek to solve by giving an order to drop two barrel bombs of chlorine from the helicopter?

Chemical weapons are considered as weapons of mass destruction. Its use implies a massive loss of human life. Thus, in 1988, the using of chemical weapons in Halabja (Iraqi Kurdistan city) led to the death of five thousand people.

We value every single life. However, taking into account only 11 victims, it cannot be called massive death.

So why the Syrian government needs to use chemical weapons if its amount cannot even kill? This quite differs from the narrative of the Western media that tries to present Assad as a bloodthirsty murderer.

By acting like this, the Syrian Arab Army would never drive ISIS out of the country or gain an advantage over the opposition. Such measures are ineffective but are good for a provocative act.

Shortly after this, the United States declared once again to the world community that it “would keep the right to launch attacks against Syria if it becomes necessary to prevent or stop the use of chemical weapons.” All this reminds of Khan Shaykhun incident and the U.S. missile strike on the Shayrat airbase.

In addition, it’s worth noting that we’ve never heard about the use of chemical weapons by Syrian troops against ISIS.

Fake No.4 “Destroyed Hospitals”

The Guardian also mentions Ahmad al-Dbis, the director of safety and security at the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM). He often makes public statements to The Guardian, The Telegraph, Reuters, Huffington Post, Der Spiegel, etc. His words are based on the statements of the White Helmets. Nevertheless, we’ve found some more contradictions.

One is “the fact” of an airstrike on the hospital in Kafr Nabl.

The analysis of the video of SMART opposition channel allows telling that the footages were taken at specially prepared places and from different angles as if the cameramen knew about the impending airstrikes and pre-selected positions for recording.

Here are the links to the videos: 1 and 2

In addition, the hospital’s exterior questions the very fact of the medical personnel recently working in there. It looks like the hospital has been out of operation for a long time (since May 28, 2014.)

The footage of the destroyed Kafr Nabl Hospital

We have also found out that the hospital received most of the damage much earlier. In the course of the investigation, the media center stumbled upon other videos of hospital attacks in Kafr Nabl previously.

In the video of the Syrian opposition YouTube channel Qasioun News Agency on March 25, 2017, you can see White Helmets volunteers putting out one of the single-story buildings on the territory of the hospital.

Photo of the fire on the hospital’s territory dated March 25, 2017

Near the building, we have found a burned diesel generator which previously supplied the hospital with electricity. The generator was destroyed by fire on March 25, 2017. The following video shows that the generator is out of order. Hence the hospital is out of operation since March 2017.

The territory of the hospital dated March 25, 2017.

Diesel generator destroyed by fire dated March 25, 2017.

Apparently, the medical personnel left the building much earlier. The latest evidence that the hospital operates for its intended purpose is a video dated May 17, 2014.

Video of the working hospital dated May 17, 2014.

On May 25, 2014, the hospital was attacked and partially destroyed.

After that, it seems that it was occupied by militia groups that used the hospital building as their base. The video shows a special mound (1) that covers the windows; there are no windows in the entire building (2); there are grills (3) installed at the entrance and indoor; the defensive positions are based on the second floor (4).

Photo of the destroyed hospital in Kafr-Nabl in the province of Idlib

The hospital current state shows that there was a serious fight for the building, perhaps between local opposition groups. The walls have multiple bullets holes.

Photos of bullet holes

There are other burned buildings nearby that rather look like fortified positions of militants. Some of those buildings were seriously hit by artillery shells. Here is a small structure that has also been converted into a fire position after being partially destroyed.

A small structure in the territory of the medical center

The mentioned facts point out that Kafr Nabl hospital was already out of operation as of February 5 2018.

Another curious detail is that an ambulance parked in front of the building has exactly the same location in each video dating from September 19, 2017.

The same ambulance is always parked in the same place in the video posted on September 19, 2017, and in the one dated February 5, 2018

Moreover, there is no fragment of glass around or in the vehicle which means that the ambulance, with no equipment inside the cabin, by the way, was more likely to have been damaged long before the strike cited by the Guardian.

The ambulance cabin in the video dated February 5, 2018

Here’s another odd fact: rescuers are carrying out only two injured persons with no trace of dust on them. It means that these patients had been moved there to make a staged video about the aftermath of “an airstrike” on the hospital in February, 2018. The footage doesn’t show a real rescue operation through the hospital allegedly treats up to 200, 000 patients a year!

Staged video with two hospitals “patients”

Thus, the claims about the hospital bombing are clearly a hoax.

Speaking of the Maarat al-Numan hospital we can say that its interior also looks doubtful as there’s no wall damage while the hospital rooms and halls don’t seem to be used for treatment: many of them are full with trash and lack medical equipment.

Besides, one shot demonstrating the so-called bombing aftermath shows no material damage, dust or any other effect from an alleged air strike. And then, in other shots (2 min 12 sec) with the very same hospital after an “air strike”, the doors are pulled off and the building is damaged.

Medical equipment keep operating after an air strike

All this raises doubts about the veracity of information sourced from the director of safety and security at the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations Ahmad al-Dbis and the activist Hassan Mukhtar cited by the Guardian. For instance, Hassan Mukhtar claims there are 300 civilian deaths in two cities without mentioning his sources. But the most unbelievable is that how “the activist” could get information on “600,000 refugees trying to find a safe haven towards the Turkish border” in such short period of time.

Summary

We’ve found out the following inconsistent facts, which are more likely to be concocted:

  • The number of air strikes launched from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2018, and the number of towns in Idlib province allegedly damaged due to the raids
  • Information about civilian deaths in the village of Termala
  • Data about a chemical attack on the town of Saraqeb
  • Information about air strikes on the hospitals in Kafranbel and Maarat al-Numan
  • The craters created by bombs
  • Lack of warhead fragments in the craters

Based on the investigation, it comes clear that the largest Western media, like the Guardian, tried to cover a new provocative initiative seemingly concocted by the Syrian opposition and the White Helmets backed by the U.S. special services and their allies who seek to discredit the Assad government, Syria’s and Russian’s Air Forces.

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All images in this article are from Inside Syria Media Center.

Lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s unpopular repeal of Net Neutrality protections.

Led by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, the Senate version of the resolution has already drawn support from 50 senators, just one shy of the number needed to pass the chamber. Rep. Michael Doyle of Pennsylvania introduced an identical resolution in the House, where the measure currently has 150 co-sponsors, with more joining every day.

Democrats plan to force a vote on the resolution in the coming months. The move follows the publication of the FCC repeal in the Federal Register last week, which triggered a countdown clock for legal and congressional actions to overturn the agency’s widely disparaged decision to strip internet users of Title II Net Neutrality protections.

The resolution’s introduction kicks off an internet-wide day of action on Tuesday. Throughout the day, internet users, small businesses, online communities, public-interest groups, technology companies and popular websites will harness their reach to flood lawmakers with calls, emails and tweets aimed at securing the final votes in the Senate and House needed to pass the CRA resolution.

More information about today’s activism is available via the coalition website BattlefortheNet.com.

Free Press Action Fund Government Relations Director Sandra Fulton made the following statement:

“Today millions of Net Neutrality supporters from across the country are putting lawmakers on notice: You have to choose whether you side with big phone and cable lobbyists or with the majority of people in the United States — both Republicans and Democrats — who want to restore Net Neutrality protections.

“We thank the hundreds of members of Congress who have already made their choice clear and stood up for the open internet, along with the educators, entrepreneurs, advocates and activists who depend on this essential platform to make their voices heard.

“People are shocked by what Chairman Pai and his Republican FCC colleagues have done. Striking down the 2015 rules is a radical rewiring of the internet that hands control of the network to a few powerful internet service providers. The FCC repeal blatantly ignored the fact that the 2015 rules were working for everyone, as broadband investment and deployment continued under the Title II-based protections the Pai FCC struck down.

“Pai’s actions are so wrongheaded and outrageous that it’s no surprise millions of people are speaking out in defense of the open internet. Lawmakers who haven’t yet committed their support to the CRA resolution need to wake up, listen to their constituents and sign on in support of restoring Net Neutrality. And they need to act now while the CRA opens this window for fully rejecting the FCC’s dangerous action.”

Prostituting Charity: The Oxfam Debate

February 28th, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Featured image: Roland van Hauwermeiren

Oxfam has outdone itself.  In the murky, squalid business where charity seems to chase, then embed itself in disaster zones like a dedicated virus, Oxfam ranks highly.  In terms of a tally, the number of reported abuses in the charity sector is galloping ahead, with one of Britain’s most noted charities in the lead.

The revelations this month that the charity’s staff sexually exploited victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, a point subsequently concealed, have triggered a storm of British discontent.  The revelations included a very active country director, Roland van Hauwermeiren, who revelled in sex parties as he went about his humanitarian work.  Allegations of sexual abuse in Oxfam shops have also made their searing mark.

The organisation has lost over 7,000 donors since the revelations, and MPs on the international development committee overseeing aid have been unimpressed. The Charity Commission may well have been misled by former executives Dame Barbara Stocking and Penny Lawrence

Oxfam’s CEO, Mark Goldring, is all apologies, notably after remarking in an interview with The Guardian that the charity was being attacked as if “we murdered babies in their cots.  Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feel out of proportion to the level of culpability. I struggle to understand it.”

The official line from the organisation was more humbling, though prefaced by an insistence that measures of reform had been implemented.

“It is clear we still have not done enough to change our own culture and to create the strongest possible policies to protect people we work with globally. We are doing that right now.  But we must do much more and act with greater urgency.”

On the other side of the moral saviour is the self-helping abuser.  Such figures have needs and callings.  The squalid reality soon manifests.  Vulnerability is less there to be alleviated than cultivated, teased into an ongoing relationship between the victim and the touted rescuer. Historically, however, the mission of rescue can be broadly seen as part of the stock idea of the civilising project.  The modern humanitarian project is a colonialism of the emotions, pornogrified guilt that finds refuge in despair.

It is precisely such a civilising mission that was said to cause debility and emotional decay. The obligated civilisers, in engaging their burdensome task, would encounter harsh environments, uncompromising geography and problematic natives. 

It was precisely such background that provided the alibi and apologia for the white civilizer’s bad behaviour read against noble necessity. Geographer Ellsworth Huntington suggested in Civilization and Climate (1915) that temperate zones engendered mental stimulation while tropical climates induced “tropical inertia”.   

The focus of such geographers and the odd enthused quack was an insistence on justifiable degeneracy as an occupational hazard.  “Tropical neurasthenia” was one term coined by Charles Woodruff in his 1905 work The Effects of Tropical Light on White Men, emphasising the preponderance of insanity amongst certain US soldiers based in the Philippines. (Those based in cooler regions evinced fewer problems.) 

“According to the man’s complexion and general resistance to this exhaustion from increased metabolism and effects of the light may be so slight as to show mere enervation, or nervous weakness being more marked in older men.”  

Such studies served to bolster the views of Benjamin Kidd, a British sociologist who insisted that peoples from temperate zones could never adjust to tropical climes.

Taking such factors into account, and the modern, heart bleeding charity worker becomes a colonial builder.  Such a figure is part of the modern industry of rescue, dressed up as a charitable exercise.  According to Afua Hirsch, theories such as tropical neurasthenia may well have fallen out after the Second World War,

“but to this day our understanding of countries that receive humanitarian assistance is still deeply grounded in the same colonial thinking.”

Even those considered voraciously read and enlightened on the problems of empire find room, even if small, to defend such missions.  Poverty and disaster invite assumptions. 

 “I do wonder how hard it must be to sustain ‘civilised’ values in a disaster zone,” pondered Cambridge classicist Mary Beard.  That statement, it should be added, followed on from, “Of course one can’t condone the (alleged) behaviour of Oxfam staff in Haiti or elsewhere.”

The Beard episode induced outrage.  Language police duly considered her use of inverted commas of civilisation as unwarranted and misguided.  Others chose to avoid seeing them.  Torrential abuse followed. 

Fellow Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal finessed a particularly brutal response, reflecting on her own place of employment.  Cambridge, that abode “where there is little direct abuse but plenty of genteel and patrician casual racism passing as frank and well-meaning observations.” Beard had done nothing to show contrition, indeed persisted in refusing “to see what was so profoundly and deeply wrong” with such claims, supplemented by “bizarre, indeed cringe-making comparisons between the French resistance and aid workers.”

Beard felt, a point she subsequently made in a blog for the Times Literary Supplement, she had been “guilty of a shorthand which misled.”  She duly concluded that it was “too easy to imagine that we are better than those who do the work we would be too scared to do.”  The implication of such a sentiment, framed as an obligatory task of the nobly decent, is clear: even those involved in rescue and inadvertent civilising are humans too.  Patrician morality is alive and kicking.

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

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It has been a long year ever since January 20th of last year. Not only because of the ever-ensuing embarrassments of the Commander in Chief with such frequency it can be difficult to follow, but also – and I would say especially – because of the incessant daily media focus on the so called “Russiagate” scandal, a conspiracy which seeks to prove a collusion between the Putin and the Trump administration in order to successfully steal the 2016 presidential election win away from Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton. 

The United States and the Russian Federation have a long history of mutual hostility – famously dividing the East and West into a bipolar world during the Cold War – and the vision of Russia is among many Americans still that of the Soviet bad guys. The Cold War was not a pleasant time for many obvious reasons, but in the minds of the American left, the McCarthy era is one that still sticks, and its apparent return is something that seems to concern only a minority on the left – including myself. Now for the unacquainted, McCarthyism can be described as “the vociferous campaign against alleged communists in the US government and other institutions carried out under Senator Joseph McCarthy in the period 1950–4. Many of the accused were blacklisted or lost their jobs, though most did not in fact belong to the Communist Party” (source). It was a clever way used by the US government to frame and condemn all the big left leaning civil rights and social justice movements that were happening during the Cold War era. Professors, academics, independent media platforms, politicians or activists with left leaning messages were being labelled as Soviet agents by the US government, discrediting them completely of any legitimacy in the eyes of the American people through the widespread Red Scare. What has been happening in the last year can be seen as a mirror of the same mentality, except that “Soviet spy” has today been replaced by labels such as “Kremlin agent” or “Russian bot”.

It isn’t news that what is often referred to as the “American Left” of the Democratic party is in reality nothing more than a neo-liberal party slightly more to the center/left than the GOP. So in this article, when I am referring to the terminology “American Left”, and the one subject to the revamped McCarthyism, I am in fact talking about the often anti-establishment, anti-imperialistic and even sometimes anti-capitalistic left – the one that threatens the current neo-liberal status quo. So as I elaborate my case, I just want to make it clear that I am referring to the latter.

One of the greater, larger left-wing media presence on US ground is undoubtedly RT America (RT short for Russia Today). Hosting many US critical segments such as Redacted Tonight  by Lee Camp, On Contact  with Chis Hedges and Breaking The Set  with Abby Martin, RT America comes out as a prominent side-narrative to the mainstream medias such as MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CNN, NPR and so forth. Yet last year, RT America has had to register itself as a “foreign agent”, on the basis of a very weak report by the Director of National Intelligence. Reasons for this decision as stated in the report claims to be that RT regularly covers surveillance, civil liberties, protest movements, the environmental impacts of fracking and Wall Street greed. Other more establishment friendly foreign news media on US soil such as BBC America have not had to register as a foreign agent. So far, only RT. Facebook (known for working closely with the US government) has even gone as far as marking RT articles shared on its platform as spam The Intercept did find out recently as well that Facebook does censor certain of its pages on behalf of governments, so more of the same behaviour is expected to be seen more in the future.

Where the delegitimization of leftist media really strikes is in the realm of “fake news”-stamping and propaganda-flagging. The Washington Post backed the website project PropOrNot.com which frames in a sort of ‘blacklist’ news medias that they believe are Russian Propaganda, with usually no evidence to back up their claims. Many independent news outlets are to be found on their list, and none of the major media conglomerates (unless they’re Russian, of course). In the same vein, Facebook has decided to team up with established media outlets such as AP and ABC News to find out and decide what is or is not “Fake News”.

Apparently, Americans are believed to be too unwise to figure it out for themselves, and if alternate narratives and opinions are being held, it must be because they have fallen victim of fake news. BBC has even gone as far as taking the teaching role in spotting “fake news”. The concept seems to be that social media platforms and mainstream media outlets are to tell the population what is real and what is a lie. The same outlets that pushed the war in Iraq, Syria, Libya, as well as the current Russiagate narrative. Media outlets that are ramping up on US intelligence spokesmen for their news segments, despite the fact that they are historically known to lie and deceive the American people. These same people are to tell us what is the truth. It is my belief that one of the only way such a development has become possible lies in the fact that the Democratic party and its voters have a newfound love for the FBI, NSA and CIA, thanks to the Russiagate conspiracy.

During the last year, James Comey and Robert Mueller have incessantly been praised by the media as American heroes and patriots saving the American people from the Kremlin puppets that Trump and his administration are accused to be (with very little evidence so far). It would seem that in this day and age, the Democrats would rather side with the deep state than with reason. Through programs such as COINTELPRO and Operation Mockingbird, the FBI and CIA have spent decades and millions of dollars deceiving and crushing any movement that dared to challenge the two-party system. For “the resistance” movement to embrace US intelligence agencies and the lies they propagate is an extremely reckless and dangerous move, and by doing so they are not only consciously trying their best to harm the current administration, but unconsciously harming the many media outlets, journalists, activists and politicians who hold a different view on the world than the Washington narrative, and who are now all being flagged as Kremlin agents pushing Russian propaganda.

During the last year we have been told not only that Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin, but also that Bernie Sanders, Green Party leader Jill Stein and even that UK’s Jeremy Corbyn did. So have we been told about whistleblowers Julian AssangeEdward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, and many of RT America’s journalists who have their shows and articles published on RT America for the sole reason that RT is one of the only outlets allowing their differing viewpoints on American politics. Many Russiagate sceptics on Twitter have received messages directly from Twitter informing them that they might have fallen victim to Russian propaganda because they had retweeted or were following certain accounts they deemed to be associated with the Kremlin. From my own personal experience, I cannot count how many times I have seen Russiagate sceptics being called-out by liberals for being Kremlin agents or Russian bot accounts – all because of the many, many Russia-Kremlin-Trump stories that have been promulgated over the last year. It has paralyzed a large portion of the centre-left to not even move an inch more towards the left, and has condemned those who have.

There is a paranoia happening in the US political establishment, remarkably similar to the one experienced during the Cold War era. It doesn’t matter whether the Russia-Collusion story is true or not (let’s not forget the United States has itself meddled in countless foreign elections ever since the end of WWII, even in Russia in 1996), it matters more what this ongoing investigation and grotesque media-hype is doing to the American public – and by extension to the rest of the world. The US-Russia relation is worse today than at the high point of the Cold War, all thanks to this constant Putin bashing and the fact that NATO is slowly encircling the Russia in Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, the Arctic, the Middle-East and Asia. Despite the West promising not to expand NATO an inch Eastwards as part of the German reunification deal, such promises have not been kept. But of course, most of the general population is fine this politically unwise expansion of NATO, “because you know, Russians are bad” (satire).

If there is a threat to national and global security today, and a threat to free speech and independent media, it is not coming from Putin or the Kremlin – but rather from the United States. And until the American left gathers itself and stops listening to the warmongering pundits and establishment journalists parroting the Washington narrative, we have nothing but a bleak future in front of us with regards to the relation between thte two old nemesis nuclear superpowers.

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Jonathan Sigrist is a student at the University of Tromsø in Northern Norway, currently studying the geopolitical, environmental, cultural and economic relations between the Arctic nations (The US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark/Greenland and Iceland), as well as the future of the Arctic’s role in global politics. He has lived in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and France, and is a fervent observer and critic of US foreign policy.

The tropical Andes of Ecuador are at the top of the world list of biodiversity hotspots in terms of vertebrate species, endemic vertebrates, and endemic plants. Ecuador has more orchid and hummingbird species than Brazil, which is 32 times larger, and more diversity than the entire USA.

In the last year, the Ecuadorean government has quietly granted mining concessions to over 1.7 million hectares (4.25 million acres) of forest reserves and indigenous territories. These were awarded to transnational corporations in closed-door deals without public knowledge or consent.

This is in direct violation of Ecuadorean law and international treaties, and will decimate headwater ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots of global significance.However, Ecuadorean groups think there is little chance of stopping the concessions using the law unless there is a groundswell of opposition from Ecuadorean society and strong expressions of international concern.

The Vice President of Ecuador, who acted as Coordinating Director for the office of ‘Strategic Sectors’, which promoted and negotiated these concessions, was jailed for 6 years for corruption.However, this has not stopped the huge giveaway of pristine land to mining companies.

From the cloud forests in the Andes to the indigenous territories in the headwaters of the Amazon, the Ecuadorean government has covertly granted these mining concessions to multinational mining companies from China, Australia, Canada, and Chile, amongst others.

The first country in the world to get the rights of Nature or Pachamama written into its constitution is now ignoring that commitment.

They’ve been here before. In the 80’s and 90’s Chevron-Texaco dumped 18 billion gallons of crude oil there in the biggest rainforest petroleum spill in history. This poisoned the water of tens of thousands of people and has done irreparable damage to ecosystems.

Now 14% of the country has been concessioned to mining interests. This includes a million hectares of indigenous land, half of all the territories of the Shuar in the Amazon and three-quarters of the territory of the Awa in the Andes.

Please sign the petition and contribute to the crowdfund which will help Ecuadorean civil society’s campaign to have these concessions rescinded.

As founder and director of the Rainforest Information Centre (RIC), I’ve had a long history of involvement with Ecuador’s rainforests.

Back in the late ‘80’s our volunteers initiated numerous projects in the country and one of these, the creation of the Los Cedros Biological Reserve was helped with a substantial grant from the Australian Government aid agency, AusAID. Los Cedros lies within the Tropical Andes Hotspot, in the country’s northwest. Los Cedros consists of nearly 7000 hectares of premontane and lower montane wet tropical and cloud forest teeming with rare, endangered and endemic species and is a crucial southern buffer zone for the quarter-million hectare Cotocachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. Little wonder that scientists from around the world rallied to the defense of Los Cedros.

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Tropical Andes (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In 2016 a press release from a Canadian mining company alerted us to the fact that they had somehow acquired a mining concession over Los Cedros! We hired a couple of Ecuadorean researchers and it slowly dawned on us that Los Cedros was only one of 41 “Bosques Protectores” (protected forests) which had been secretly concessioned. For example, nearly all of the 311,500 hectare Bosque Protector “Kutuku-Shaimi”, where 5000 Shuar families live, has been concessioned. In November 2017, RIC published a report by Bitty Roy, Professor of Ecology from Oregon State University and her co-workers,  mapping the full extent of the horror that is being planned.

Although many of these concessions are for exploration, the mining industry anticipates an eightfold growth in investment to $8 billion by 2021 due to a “revised regulatory framework” much to the jubilation of the mining companies. Granting mineral concessions in reserves means that these reserves aren’t actually protected any longer as, if profitable deposits are found, the reserves will be mined and destroyed.

In Ecuador, civil society is mobilising and has asked their recently elected government to prohibit industrial mining “in water sources and water recharge areas, in the national system of protected areas, in special areas for conservation, in protected forests and fragile ecosystems”.

The indigenous peoples have been fighting against mining inside Ecuador for over a decade.  Governments have persecuted more than 200 indigenous activists using the countries anti-terrorism laws to hand out stiff prison sentences to indigenous people who openly speak out against the destruction of their territories.

Fortunately, the new government has signalled an openness to hear indigenous and civil society’s concerns, not expressed by the previous administration.

In December 2017, a large delegation of indigenous people marched on Quito and President Moreno promised no NEW oil and mining concessions, and on 31 January 2018, Ecuador’s Mining Minister resigned a few days after Indigenous and environmental groups demanded he step down during a demonstration. On 31 January, The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, CONAIE, announced their support for the platform shared by the rest of civil society involved in the anti-mining work. Then on 15 February CONAIE called on the government to “declare Ecuador free of industrial metal-mining”, a somewhat more radical demand than that of the rest of civil society.

But we will need a huge international outcry to rescind the existing concessions:many billions of dollars of mining company profits versus some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth and the hundreds of local communities and indigenous peoples who depend on them.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT THEIR DEMANDS.

From 2006, under the Correa-Glas administration, Ecuador contracted record levels of external debt for highway and hydroelectric dam infrastructure to subsidize mining. Foreign investments were guaranteed by a corporate friendly international arbitration system, facilitated by the World Bank which had earlier set the stage for the current calamity by funding mineralogical surveys of national parks and other protected areas and advising the administration on dismantling of laws and regulations protecting the environment.

After 2008, when Ecuador defaulted on $3.2 billion worth of its national debt, it borrowed $15 billion from China, to be paid back in the form of oil and mineral exports. These deals have been fraught with corruption. Underselling, bribery and the laundering of money via offshore accounts are routine practice in the Ecuadorean business class, and the Chinese companies who now hold concessions over vast tracts of Ecuadorean land are no cleaner. Before leaving office Correa-Glas removed much of the regulation that had been holding the mining industry in check. And the corruption goes much deeper than mere  bribes.

The lure of mining is a deadly mirage. The impacts of large-scale open pit mining within rainforest watersheds include mass deforestation, erosion, the contamination of water sources by toxins such as lead and arsenic,  and desertification. A lush rainforest transforms into an arid wasteland incapable of sustaining either ecosystems or human beings.

Without a huge outcry both within Ecuador and around the world, the biological gems and pristine rivers and streams will be destroyed.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Civil society needs an open conversation with the state. Ecuador has enormous potential to develop its economy based on renewable energy and its rich biodiversity can support a large ecotourism industry. In 2010 Costa Rica banned open-pit mining, and today has socioeconomic indicators better than Ecuador’s. Costa Rica also provides a ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ to landholders, and through this scheme has actually increased its rainforest area (from 20% to just over 50%).

Ecuador’s society and government must explore how an economy based on the sustainable use of pristine water sources, the country’s incomparable forests, and other natural resources is superior to an economy based on short term extraction leaving behind a despoiled and impoverished landscape. For example,  studies by Earth Economics in the Intag region of Ecuador (where some of the new mining concessions are located) show that ecosystem services and sustainable development would offer a better economic solution let alone ecological and social.

The Rainforest Information Centre is launching a CROWDFUND to support Ecuadorean NGO’s to mobilise and to mount a publicity and education campaign and to help advance a dialogue throughout Ecuador and beyond: ‘Extractivism, economic diversification and prospects for sustainable development in Ecuador’.

We have set the crowdfund target at A$15,000 and Paul Gilding, ex-CEO of Greenpeace International is getting the ball rolling with an offer to match all donations $ for $ so that every $ that you donate will be matched by Paul. Donations are tax-deductible in Australia and the US.

When you sign the PETITION you will reach not just to the President of Ecuador and his cabinet. The petition is also addressed to the other actors who have set the stage for this calamity, being:

  • The international governments and NGO’s who funded the creation and upkeep of these Bosques Protectores and indigenous reserves and other protected sites and who now need to persuade Ecuador to prevent their good work from being undone.
  • The governments of the countries whose mining companies are preparing this devastation.

Australian senator Lee Rhiannon (who was part of helping us create Los Cedros 30 years ago) wrote to the Canadian Environment Minister on our behalf and the Canadian Embassy has expressed concern about the bad name Cornerstone is giving the other Canadian mining projects. They have asked us for a meeting to discuss the reports of bad business practices by the company. Likewise, the Chinese government is beginning to develop some guidance which will come into effect in March 2018. We are lobbying the Australian government to put pressure on BHP, Solgold and other Australian companies preparing to mine protected forests and indigenous reserves in Ecuador.

Visit Ecuador Endangered for more links to the history and causes of Ecuador’s mining crisis. There you will find research, detailed reports and news updates. Contact information can be found for those wanting to be involved in the campaign, which is being run entirely by volunteers. To let the Ecuadorean Government, World Bank and mining companies know you want them to invest in a sustainable future for all, a petition can be found here.

*

John Seed is the founder and director of the Rainforest Information Centre in Australia. He has been campaigning to save the world’s rainforests since the 1970s.

Why One War When We Can Have Two!

February 28th, 2018 by Eric Margolis

Featured image: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with troops stationed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 21, 2017. (DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

`We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great-power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of US national security.’  Henceforth Russia and China will be America’s main enemies, with Iran and North Korea thrown in for good measure.

So declared US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, last week in a statement of profound importance for the world.

For the past seventeen years, the US military has been laying waste to the Muslim world in the faux `war on terrorism.’  Afghanistan, Iraq, much of Syria, Somalia, Pakistan – all have been heavily bombed. US B-52’s and B-1 heavy bombers have tried to pound those resisting American ‘guidance’ into submission.

In Afghanistan, America’s longest war, President Donald Trump ordered a doubling of bombing against Taliban forces battling US occupation.  Now, the US is running very low on bombs, guided munitions and even air-to-air missiles for some reason.  Stores of munitions are being rushed from the US Pacific command to the Mideast.

At the same time, the US is fast running out of Muslim targets to bomb, now that the bogeyman ISIS has vanished into thin air and US air attacks in Syria are being minimized for fear of clashing with Russia.  Iran still remains on the US potential hit list.

Which brings us back to General ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis.  He is quite right that so-called terrorists (that’s anyone who actively opposes the Lex Americana) pose no real life or death threat to the US mainland.

But if so, how then to maintain the $1 trillion US military budget?  Well, of course, trot out those good old ‘Reds Under Our Beds.’  Actually, the Pentagon has been planning a new war with China for the past three years, a mainly air and naval conflict to dominate China’s coasts and seas.   The Pentagon is loading up on new aircraft, missiles, satellites and naval craft for the next Pacific War, and trying to enlist India as an ally against China.

But what then about Russia?  Not so easy.  The likely theater for a US-Russia clash is on the Baltic coast, Ukraine, the Black Sea or Syria.  In this case, the US would be confronted by the same problem that afflicted France in the fall of 1939.

Few people know that it was France that first attacked Germany, not the other way around.  Responding to the German invasion of Poland, France and Britain declared war on Germany.  French divisions began to invade Germany’s Rhineland.  But after a few skirmishes the French high command, under the inept Gen. Maurice Gamelin, didn’t know what to do next.  Germany was large, and the defensive-minded French did not anticipate occupying its entire country.

After a brief demonstration, the French Army withdrew behind the Maginot Line.  Hitler did not counter-attack in hope he could forge a peace treaty with London and Paris.  Winston Churchill and his fellow imperialists furiously sought to push Britain into war with Germany.  But months of inactivity went by, known as the ‘Sitzkrieg’ or ‘drôle de guerre’ until Germany acted decisively.

This would also be America’s problem in a war against Russia.  How deep into Russia to attack (assuming no use of nuclear weapons)?  How to protect ever lengthening supply lines?  Napoleon and Hitler faced the same challenges and failed.

Of course, this supposes the US is ready for war.  In truth, neither the US and NATO nor Russia are in any way prepared to fight a real war on land, sea and air. Military forces on both sides have been so run down and depleted by little wars and budget cuts that there are serious shortages of war stocks and aging equipment.

Key NATO member Germany is in a shambles.  Its feminized military, run by a nice but incompetent lady defense minister, could not fight its way out of a paper bag.   France is not much better off.  The US armed forces and Britain are critically short of spares, munitions, transport, and armor.  Russia’s once mighty Red Army is short of everything.  Both east and west are simply unready for a real war.

As if there is any reason for one. There is not.  Those jackanapes in the US Congress and media trying to inflate online mischief by 20-something Russian hackers into a second Pearl Harbor are crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

A final respectful note to Gen. Mattis (my dad was a marine):  A good general does not pick a fight with two, far–away major powers at once.  The trick is to turn them against one another. Declaring a future war against China and Russia is a crazy idea.  Only draft-dodgers and generals who lost the Vietnam War could come up with it.


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

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The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions

February 28th, 2018 by Jonathan Cook

I am loath to draw more attention to the kind of idiocy that passes for informed comment nowadays from academics and mainstream journalists. Recently I lambasted Prof Richard Carver for his arguments against BDS that should have gained him an F for logic in any high school exam.

Now we have to endure Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, using every ploy in the misdirection and circular logic playbook to discredit those who commit thought crimes on Syria, by raising questions both about what is really happening there and about whether we can trust the corporate media consensus banging the regime-change drum.

Whitaker’s arguments and assumptions may be preposterous but sadly, like Carver’s, they are to be found everywhere in the mainstream – they have become so commonplace through repetition that they have gained a kind of implicit credibility. So let’s unpack what Whitaker and his ilk are claiming.

Whitaker’s latest outburst is directed against the impudence of a handful of British academics, including experts in the study of propaganda, in setting up a panel – the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – to “provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers” on Syria. The researchers include Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Piers Robinson of Sheffield University.

So what are Whitaker’s objections to this working group? Let’s run through them, with my interjections.

Whitaker: They dispute almost all mainstream narratives of the Syrian conflict, especially regarding the use of chemical weapons and the role of the White Helmets search-and-rescue organisation. They are critical of western governments, western media and various humanitarian groups but show little interest in applying critical judgment to Russia’s role in the conflict or to the controversial writings of several journalists who happen to share their views.

Western governments and western corporate media have promoted a common narrative on Syria. It has been difficult for outsiders to be sure of what is going on, given that Syria has long been a closed society, a trend only reinforced by the last seven years of a vicious civil-cum-proxy war, and the presence of brutal ISIS and al Qaeda militias.

Long before the current fighting, western governments and Israel expressed a strong interest in overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad. In fact, their desire to be rid of Assad dates to at least the start of the “war on terror” they launched after 9/11, as I documented in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

Very few corporate journalists have been on the ground in Syria. (Paradoxically, those who have are effectively embedded in areas dominated by al Qaeda-type groups, which western governments are supporting directly and through Gulf intermediaries.) Most of these journalists are relying on information provided by western governments, or from groups with strong, vested interests in Assad’s overthrow.

Should we take this media coverage on trust, as many of us did the lies promoted about Iraq and later Libya by the same western governments and corporate media? Or should we be far more wary this time, especially as those earlier regime-change operations spread more chaos, suffering and weapons across the Middle East, and fuelled a migrant crisis now empowering the far-right across much of Europe?

Whitaker and his ilk are saying we should not. Or more disingenuously, Whitaker is saying that the working group, rather than invest its energies in this supremely important research, should concentrate its limited resources on studying Russian propaganda on Syria. In other words, the researchers should duplicate the sterling efforts of Whitaker’s colleagues in daily attributing to Russian President Vladimir Putin the superpowers of a James Bond villain.

Here’s a counter-proposal: how about we leave well-funded western governments and media corporations to impugn Putin at every turn and on every pretext, while we allow the working group to check whether there is a large (larger?) mote in the west’s eye?

Whitaker: The worrying part, though, especially in the light of their stated intention to seek ‘research funding’, is their claim to be engaging in ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of media reporting on Syria.

Is this really so worrying? Why not allow a handful of academics to seek funds to try to untangle the highly veiled aid – money and arms – that western governments have been pumping into a war tearing apart Syria?

Why not encourage the working group to discern more clearly the largely covert ties between western security services and groups like the White Helmets “search-and-rescue service”? One would think supposedly adversarial journalists would be all in favour of efforts to dig up information about western involvement and collusion in Syria.

Whitaker: But while members of the group are generally very critical of mainstream media in the west, a handful of western journalists — all of them controversial figures — escape similar scrutiny. Instead, their work is lauded and recommended.

More of Whitaker’s circular logic.

Of course, the few independent journalists (independent of corporate interests) who are on the ground in Syria are “controversial” – they are cast as “controversial” by western governments and corporate journalists precisely because they question the consensual narrative of those same governments and journalists. Duh!

Further, these “controversial” journalists are not being “lauded”. Rather, their counter-narratives are being highlighted by those with open minds, like those in the working group. Without efforts to draw attention to these independent journalists’ work, their reporting would most likely disappear without trace – precisely the outcome, one senses, Whitaker and his friends would very much prefer.

It is not the critical thinkers on Syria who are demanding that only one side of the narrative is heard; it is western governments and supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and the Guardian’s George Monbiot. They think they can divine the truth through … the corporate media, which is promoting narratives either crafted in western capitals or derived from ties to groups like the White Helmets located in jihadist-controlled areas.

Again, why should the working group waste its finite energies scrutinising these independent journalists when they are being scrutinised – and vilified – non-stop by journalists like Whitaker and by big-budget newspapers like the Guardian?

In any case, if official western naratives truly withstand the working group’s scrutiny, then the claims and findings of these independent journalists will be discredited in the process. These two opposed narratives cannot be equally true, after all.

Whitaker: The two favourites, though, are Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley — ’independent’ journalists who are frequent contributors to the Russian propaganda channel, RT. Bartlett and Beeley also have an enthusiastic following on ‘alternative’ and conspiracy theory websites though elsewhere they are widely dismissed as propagandists.

“Widely dismissed” by … yes, that’s right, Whitaker’s friends in the corporate media! More circular logic. Independent journalists like Bartlett and Beeley are on RT because Whitaker’s chums at British propaganda outlets – like the Guardian and BBC – do not give, and have never given, them a hearing. The Guardian even denied them a right of reply after its US-based technology writer Olivia Solon (whose resume does not mention that she was ever in Syria) was awarded a prominent slot in the paper to smear them as Kremlin propagandists, without addressing their arguments or evidence.

Whitaker: [Bartlett and Beeley’s] activities are part of the overall media battle regarding Syria and any ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of the coverage should be scrutinising their work rather than promoting it unquestioningly.

There is no “media battle”. That’s like talking of a “war” between Israel, one of the most powerful armies in the world, and the lightly armed Palestinian resistance group Hamas – something the western corporate media do all the time, of course.

Instead there is an unchallenged western media narrative on Syria, one in favour of more war, and more suffering, until what seems like an unrealisable goal of overthrowing Assad is achieved. On the other side are small oases of scepticism and critical thinking, mostly on the margins of social media, Whitaker wants snuffed out.

The working group’s job is not to help him in that task. It is to test whether or how much of the official western narrative is rooted in truth.

Returning to his “concerns” about RT, Whitaker concludes that the station’s key goal:

is to cast doubt on rational but unwelcome explanations by advancing multiple alternative ‘theories’ — ideas that may be based on nothing more than speculation or green-ink articles on obscure websites.

But it precisely isn’t such “green-ink” articles that chip away at the credibility of an official western consensus. It is the transparently authoritarian instincts of a political and media elite – and of supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and Monbiot – to silence all debate, all doubt, all counter-evidence.

Because at heart he is an authoritarian courtier, Whitaker would like us to believe that only crackpots and conspiracy theorists promote these counter-narratives. He would prefer that, in the silence he hopes to impose, readers will never be exposed to the experts who raise doubts about the official western narrative on Syria.

That is, the same silence that was imposed 15 years ago, when his former newspaper the Guardian and the rest of the western corporate media ignored and dismissed United Nations weapons experts like Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. Their warnings that Iraq’s supposed WMD really were non-existent and were being used as a pretext to wage a disastrous colonial war went unheard.

Let’s not allow Whitaker and like-minded bully-boys once again to silence such critical voices.

*

Jonathan Cook is a Nazareth- based journalist and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria directly from Global Research.  

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

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We continue to hear from a variety of uninformed or corrupt people that there is “clear evidence” that Russia interfered in the US presidential election.  We hear it from the Atlantic Council, a mouthpiece for the military/security complex. 

We hear it from a nutcase in the British Labour Party. 

We hear it from Washington Post and, of course, from all the other professional liars at the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, etc. 

We hear it from Internet columnists.  

We hear it from Newt Gingrich on Fox News and from politicians in both parties.

We hear it from Bloomberg news from Henry Meyer and Kevin Cirilli.  

The truth of the hoax indictment is available, but it is not reported by the MSM. This website has reported the facts about the indictment as has Moon of Alabama and David Stockman. Even Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in his press conference announcing Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians told us part of the truth when he said at the 5 minute, 22 second mark that 

“there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.  There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”  

Rosenstein goes on to say that the suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a trial, which, of course, will not take place as the indicted charges are make-believe and the US has no jurisdiction over the indicted Russians.  

Is this the way the presstitutes and politicians are reporting it?

Of course not.  Mueller’s comic indictment is being treated as proof that the Russian government interfered in the election.  In other words, the presstitutes and politicians are purposely deceiving the public at home and abroad. The corrupt American media and political system misrepresent Mueller’s unproven accusation as proof of guilt.  

Note that Rosenstein waited until the end of his press conference to tell us that Mueller’s indictment is not supportive of the Russiagate allegation of a Trump/Putin conspiracy that stole the election from Hillary.  Note also that Rosenstein does not tell us that what Mueller has indicted is a private Russian internet marketing bait-click scheme whose purpose was to make money, not influence the US presidential election.  See this for example, and this and this.

The presstitutes have not explained the charges that comprise the indictments of the 13 Russians. It is important to understand what these charges are. As Mueller’s charges themselves make perfectly clear,  the indictment has nothing to do with stealing an election.  The Russians are charged with committing violations of visa laws by disguising the true reason for their trip to the US. They are charged with fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, email accounts and  bank accounts, apparently by using false names and stolen identities.  In other words, the crimes, even if they were committed, do not relate to the Russiagate allegations of a Trump/Putin conspiracy to steal the presidential election. 

As I read the indictment, these illegalities are alleged to constitute a conspiracy to defraud the United States by interfering in the election.  However, according to the indictment, the conspiracy to defraud began in 2014 before it was known Trump would be a presidential candidate.  So who was the unknown candidate at the time who was to benefit from the interference?  Why would Russians interfere in an election when they do not know who the candidates will be?  Apparently, both Mueller and the American presstitute media are too stupid to see the relevance of this question.

Why hasn’t the media explained any of this and asked how it amounts to a Putin/Trump conspiracy to steal the election?  What is wrong with the American people that they cannot see this by themselves.  Why do they need it explained to them?  Is it because they are too lazy to care enough to know the truth?  

David Stockman, a former member of the House of Representatives and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, accurately describes Mueller’s indictment as a “comic book indictment” and “a great big nothingburger.” 

Stockman points out some of the facts that Mueller, Rosenstein, Fox News, CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, BBC, etc., have failed to tell us:

“The nefarious ‘troll farm’ in St. Petersburg that comprises nearly the totality of Mueller’s case is not a Russian intelligence agency operation at all.”

“Nowhere in the entire 37 pages is there even a clause linking Prigozhin’s Hobby Farm to the SVR (foreign intelligence service), the FSB (counter-intelligence and anti-terrorism), the GRU (military intelligence service), any other agency of the Russian State—-or even some purported Kremlin back channel to Putin.”

The question is: Why is the entirety of the print and TV media, a huge chunk of the Internet and social media, a majority of Congress, the entirety of the military/security complex and even a Disney movie, “His Double Life,” determined to elevate “the Russian threat”? 

The Disney movie concludes with these words across the screen:  Russian agents “are your neighbors. Your co-workers. Your friends. Your husbands.”  The “Russian agents” are not only under your bed, but also in bed with you! (Notice that the Russian agents are men, not women, thus in keeping with Identity Politics.)

We know that the military/security complex owns the media.  Apparently the complex owns Hollywood as well.

Keep in mind how rare truth is told and how unlikely you are to hear and read the truth.

The concentration during the Clinton regime of the diverse and partly independent media into the hands of six mega-corporations created the ability to control the explanations the public is given. Now the ruling oligarchy is moving to bring the Internet under control as well. 

Richie Allen, the host of the most popular independent radio show in Europe, found his Google/YouTube channel deleted yesterday.  1,400 videos of interviews with former CIA officers, bankers, journalists, scientists, including yours truly, simply disappeared. These were largely videos providing counter-narratives to the official explanations.  YouTube has a policy that allows deletion of videos that offend people who have been brainwashed and find it painful to have their beliefs challenged.  In other words, anything that does not adhere to the official explanations is considered bullying and harassment to the brainwashed masses who are no longer to be permitted the choice between the blue pill and the red pill.

Google/YouTube censorship is hitting other sites also: see this and this

The decision to control all explanations fed to Americans was made years ago. Clearly, the concentration of 90% of the US print, TV, and radio media in the hands of six mega-companies during the Clinton regime was a major step forward.  Other concentrations, such as Google/YouTube, have followed. All of these concentrations are illegal under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, but the act is no longer enforced, because according to the neoliberal junk economists, “markets are self-regulating.” 

In the absence of a diverse and independent media, there is no such thing as democracy and government accountable to the people. By controlling explanations, the ruling oligarchs can use government for whatever best serves them. The people are the losers.

The Trump presidency is the perfect timing for the oligarchs to take over control of all information. The liberal/progressive/left hate Trump so much that they are willing to ignore the proven fact that Russiagate was a FBI/Obama/Hillary conspiracy against Trump in order to use the false accusation as a weapon against Trump.  Gun control advocates and Identity Politics are willing to turn a blind eye to the unanswered questions about school shootings and terrorist bombings in order to get more gun control and police power to suppress “white supremacists.”  Partisan in their approach, they do not consider that the same power will be used against them.

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of young Americans have no idea what is at stake.  Most will never realize that their reality consists of controlled explanations. They will never know the truth about anything.

*

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

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It was a stunning announcement, stunning because of what was said and maybe equally as stunning because it was honest.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis says there is no evidence that the Syrian government used sarin gas on its own people.

It is a narrative we have been pushing back on for years. So what does this mean for U.S. policy in Syria? And will President Trump continue to push for war in Syria, or will he return to the positions of candidate Trump who said the U.S. should stay out of it?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

The statement is getting very little media coverage but it is a very big deal.

According to Defense Secretary James Mattis, there is no evidence that the Syrian government has used sarin gas on its own people.

Here is exactly what Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon:

“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used.”

“We do not have evidence of it.”

“We’re looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions.”

Mattis insists that he wasn’t refuting the claims. But in a sense, he did.

According to Newsweek, in 2017 a White House memorandum was quickly produced and then declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.

The justification used was that Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people. Then President Trump himself insisted that there was no doubt that Syrian President Assad had killed his own people with banned chemical weapons.

But Mattis also didn’t qualify the statement to just the Syrian airbase strike. That means that the 2013 gas attack in Ghouta also was not proven to be Assad.

At that time, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were demanding congress approve use of force against Assad. Obama said this from the rose garden as he said American destroyers armed with Tomahawk missiles were on standby in the Mediterranean Sea.

“I’m prepared to give that order, but having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.”

Congress did not approve that use of force, but then applauded Trump for his use.

For his part, in this latest statement, Mattis says that “aid groups and others” had provided evidence of the Syrian government using sarin.

But as I have extensively reported over the past few years, there is much evidence that the so called Syrian freedom fighters are actually ISIS and Al Qaeda fighters. And there is evidence that they have used chemical weapons.

Other problems with the claims of Assad using sarin: in the 2013 Ghouta event, the sarin came from home-made rockets, which were favored by insurgents.

Also, according to Newsweek:

“In the 2013 event, the White House memorandum seemed to rely heavily on testimony from the Syrian white helmets who were filmed at the scene having contact with supposed sarin-tainted casualties and not suffering any ill effects.

“Carla del Ponte was unable to fulfill her U.N. joint investigative mechanism mandate in Syria and withdrew in protest over the United States refusing to fully investigate allegations of chemical weapons use by ‘rebels’ who are actually jihadis, allied with the American effort to oust President Assad (including the use of sarin by anti-Assad rebels).”

According to the Times of London:

“Carla del Ponte, head of the independent UN commission investigating reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, told a Swiss-Italian television station that UN investigators gleaned testimony from victims of Syria’s civil war and medical staff which indicated that rebel forces used sarin gas – a deadly nerve agent.

“‘Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,’ del Ponte said in the interview, translated by Reuters.

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

It was the involvement of those jihadis posing as Syrian rebels that made then-candidate Trump state emphatically that he wouldn’t intervene and help oust Assad as Hillary Clinton wanted to do.

Candidate Trump pushed back heavily against intervention. He warned that ISIS was likely to take over Syria if Assad were ousted, just as they have in Iraq and Libya.

And yet the U.S. is only escalating fighting.

Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials—that according to the New York Times.

Russia says that no members of the Russian armed forces were killed and that any Russians fighting alongside the Syrians were mercenaries.

So what you need to know is that candidate Trump was clear when he pointed to the bush policy in Iraq and the Obama/Clinton policies in Libya and Syria that have only strengthened the creation and spread of ISIS and jihadism.

Candidate Trump rightly pointed out that these policies had failed and that it was insanity to keep pursuing those policies and expecting a different outcome.

So why is President Trump now embracing those insane policies that if continued will undoubtedly leave another power vacuum in the Middle East which will be filled with jihadis?

*

This article was originally published on Truth in Media.

Ben Swann is an investigative journalist working tirelessly to dissolve the left/right paradigm prevalent in most mainstream media narratives. As a news reporter and anchor in the earlier days of his career, he has gained a wealth of experience while earning two Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow awards.

Guns and Liberty in America

February 28th, 2018 by Chris Hedges

Featured image: A White House protest held by Teens for Gun Reform last week in the wake of the Florida school massacre. (Lorie Shaull / Flickr)

The proliferation of guns in American society is not only profitable for gun manufacturers, it fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency. Guns buttress the myth of a rugged individualism that atomizes Americans, disdains organization and obliterates community, compounding powerlessness. Gun ownership in the United States, largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression. It does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.

“Second Amendment cultists truly believe that guns are political power,” writes Mark Ames, the author of “Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.” “[They believe that] guns in fact are the only source of political power. That’s why, despite loving guns, and despite being so right-wing, they betray such a paranoid fear and hatred of armed agents of the government (minus Border Guards, they all tend to love our Border Guards). If you think guns, rather than concentrated wealth, equals political power, then you’d resent government power far more than you’d resent billionaires’ power or corporations’ hyper-concentrated wealth/power, because government will always have more and bigger guns. In fact you’d see pro-gun, anti-government billionaires like the Kochs as your natural political allies in your gun-centric notion of political struggle against the concentrated gun power of government.”

American violence has always been primarily vigilante violence. It is a product of the colonial militias; the U.S. Army, which carried out campaigns of genocide against Native Americans; slave patrols; hired mercenaries and gunslingers; the Pinkerton and Baldwin-Felts detective agencies; gangs of strikebreakers; the Iron and Coal Police; company militias; the American Legion veterans of World War I who attacked union agitators; the White Citizens’ Council; the White League, the Knights of the White Camellia; and the Ku Klux Klan, which controlled some states. These vigilante groups carried out atrocities, mostly against people of color and radicals, within our borders that later characterized our savage subjugation of the Philippines, interventions in Latin America, the wars in Korea and Vietnam and our current debacles in the Middle East. Gen. Jacob H. Smith summed up American attitudes about wholesale violence in the Philippines when he ordered his troops to turn the island of Samar, defended by Filipino insurgents, into “a howling wilderness.”

Mass culture and most historians do not acknowledge the patterns of violence that have played out over and over since the founding of the nation. This historical amnesia blinds us to the endemic violence that defines our culture and is encoded in our national myth. As historian Richard Slotkin writes in “Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier 1600-1860,” the first of his three magisterial works on violence in American society, our Jacksonian form of democracy was defined by “the western man-on-the-make, the speculator, and the wildcat banker; [in a time] when racist irrationalism and a falsely conceived economics prolonged and intensified slavery in the teeth of American democratic idealism; and when men like Davy Crockett became national heroes by defining national aspirations in terms of so many bears destroyed, so much land preempted, so many trees hacked down, so many Indians and Mexicans dead in the dust.”

“The first colonists saw in America an opportunity to regenerate their fortunes, their spirits, and the power of their church and nation,” he writes, “but the means to that regeneration ultimately became the means of violence, and the myth of regeneration through violence became the structuring metaphor of the American experience.”

“A people unaware of its myths is likely to continue living by them, though the world around that people may change and demand changes in their psychology, their ethics and their institutions,” Slotkin writes.

The metaphors we use to describe ourselves to ourselves are rooted in this national myth. We explain our history and our experience and seek our identity in this myth. This myth connects us to the forces that shape and give meaning to our lives. It bridges, as Slotkin writes,

“the gap between the world of the mind and the world of affairs, between dream and reality, between impulse or desire and action. It draws on the content of individual and collective memory, structures it, and develops it from imperatives for belief and action.”

The historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz in her book “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment” also illustrates how the racist, white settler vision of the world continues to color our perception of reality. She writes:

The populist frontier ideology has served the U.S. ruling class well for its entire history and once again found tremendous resonance in the Vietnam War as another Indian war. A key to John F. Kennedy’s political success was that he revived the “frontier” as a trope of populist imperialism, speaking of the “settling” of the continent and “taming” a different sort of “wilderness.” In Kennedy’s acceptance speech in Los Angeles at the 1960 Democratic Convention, he said: “I stand tonight facing west on what was once the last frontier. From the lands that stretch 3,000 miles behind me, the pioneers of old gave up their safety, their comfort and sometimes their lives to build a new world here in the West. … We stand today on the edge of a new frontier.” The metaphor described Kennedy’s plan for employing political power to make the world the new frontier of the United States. Central to this vision was the Cold War, what Richard Slotkin calls “a heroic engagement in the ‘long twilight struggle’ against communism,” to which the nation was summoned by Kennedy in his inaugural address. Soon after he took office, that struggle took the form of the counterinsurgency program in Vietnam and his creation of the Green Beret Special Forces. “Seven years after Kennedy’s nomination,” Slotkin reminds us, “American troops would be describing Vietnam as ‘Indian Country’ and search-and-destroy missions as a game of ‘Cowboys and Indians’; and Kennedy’s ambassador to Vietnam would justify a massive military escalation by citing the necessity of moving the ‘Indians’ away from the ‘fort’ so that the ‘settlers’ could plant ‘corn.’ ”

The gun culture permits a dispossessed public, sheared of economic and political power, to buy a firearm and revel in feelings of omnipotence. A gun reminds Americans that they are divine agents of purification, anointed by God and Western civilization to remake the world in their own image. Violence in America is not about the defense of liberty or radical change. It is an expression of domination, racism and hate. American vigilantes are the shock troops of capitalism. They butcher the weak on behalf of the strong.

“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer,” the English novelist and essayist D.H. Lawrence wrote. “It has never yet melted.”

There are some 310 million firearms in the United States, including 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns. The number of military-style assault weapons in private hands—including the AR-15 semi-automatic rifles used in the massacres at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.—is estimated at 1.5 million. The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, an average of 90 firearms per 100 people.

“Total gun deaths in the United States average around 37,000 a year, with two-thirds of those deaths being suicides, leaving approximately 12,000 homicides, a thousand of those at the hands of the police,” writes Dunbar-Ortiz. “Mass shootings—ones that leave four or more people wounded or dead—now occur in the United States, on average, at the pace of one or more per day. Disturbing as that fact is, mass shootings currently account for only 2 percent of gun killings annually. The number of gun deaths—37,000—is roughly equal to death-by-vehicle incidents in the United States per year.”

If the ruling elites feared an armed uprising, a draconian form of gun control would instantly be law. But the engine of gun ownership is not the fear of government. It is the fear by white people of the black and brown underclass, an underclass many whites are convinced will threaten them as society breaks down. Guns, largely in the hands of whites, have rarely been deployed against the state. In this, the United States is an exception. It has a heavily armed population and yet maintains political stability. The few armed rebellions—the 1786 and 1787 Shays’ Rebellion, the 1921 armed uprising by 10,000 coal miners at Blair Mountain in West Virginia—were swiftly and brutally put down by militias and armed vigilantes hired by capitalists. These uprisings were about specific grievances, not systemic change. Revolution is foreign to our intellectual tradition.

As jobs and manufacturing are shipped overseas, communities crumble, despair grips much of the country and chronic poverty plagues American families, the gun seems to be the last tangible relic of a free and mythic America. It offers the illusion of power, protection and freedom. This is why the powerless will not give it up.

“In the heartland, these are people who feel they’ve been the victims of sustained economic violence at the hands of tyrannical governments of both parties,” writer and editor Daniel Hayes wrote in The New York Times in 2016. “In 2008, Barack Obama’s notorious misstep got one thing right: Rural people will ‘cling’ to guns. Not because they are sad or misguided, but because it is the last right they feel they still have: a liberty at least, in place of opportunity.”

“Outsourcing and guns: These are the twin issues animating Trump voters in rural Kentucky,” he wrote. “The two are linked and feed off each other; the only difference between them is that white rural voters see outsourcing as a losing battle, whereas protecting and expanding Second Amendment rights is the only policy they’ve been able to get politicians to move on. For that reason alone, it is totemic.”

The Second Amendment, as Dunbar-Ortiz makes clear in her book, was never about protecting individual freedom. It was about codifying white vigilante violence into law.

“The elephant in the room in these debates has long been what the armed militias of the Second Amendment were to be used for,” Dunbar-Ortiz writes. “The kind of militias and gun rights of the Second Amendment had long existed in the colonies and were expected to continue fulfilling two primary roles in the United States: destroying Native communities in the armed march to possess the continent, and brutally subjugating the enslaved African population. …”

Attacks on the gun culture and the gun violence that plagues the nation are seen by many gun owners as an attack on their national identity. The more powerful the weapon, the more powerful the gun owner feels. There are those among the marginalized and enraged who are tempted, especially because of easy access to assault-style weapons, to use their guns in mass killings to cleanse the world. The lone killer, almost always a white male, is celebrated by Hollywood and in our national myth and “frontier psychology.” This peculiar American veneration of violence, Slotkin writes, “reaches out of the past to cripple, incapacitate, or strike down the living.”

*

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, former professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. 

Video: “…And I am a Russian Bot”

February 28th, 2018 by Will Markham

The mainstream media suppress truth defenders and progressives in a form of smear campaign directed against them.

The latest trend in their narrative is #RussianBots or #RussianTrolls.

Jump on the bandwagon and see how far your “trolls” can change the truth!

.

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published by Global Research on February 28, 2015

The following email was sent to me by a Global Research reader, widow of an American serviceman, an unspoken victim of  America’s wars.

Her response shows how effective war propaganda has become, in turning concepts up side down.

Western civilization is threatened, the ISIS bogeyman seeks World domination. Our American way of life is threatened. 

She blames the enemy for the death of her husband, rather than the US government. 

I offered to send her my book regarding the impacts of nuclear war. I signed my email with the words “For Peace”.

She responded by saying:  “How dare you think peace is the answer.”

War is the solution, she says. “total annihilation is the answer. .. What we have to do is to teach nations to fear us”:  

Have we become so complacent of fear that we will not use mass destruction against the Middle East. We did it against Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end all threats from  those who have no regard for other humans?  [first email]

 In response  to your email, I am a military brat  and have good experience with war.

Have you ever been to a little place called Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq.  I had 6 very good friends, drafted  to Vietnam, who never returned.

I am a war widow and raised an 18 month old son, alone!!

How dare you think peace is the answer.

For countries, that threaten our way of life, war is not good enough to slap hands, total annihilation is the answer.

If we had done that,  ISIS would not be beheading people.

They are encouraging our own people to join ISIS to retaliate against America.

Are you ready to live under ISIS world domination? Remincent of a little man named Adolf Hitler, who annihilated 6 million  Jews.

If we can teach nations to fear us, then we wouldn’t  need war, then our precious military would not die on foreign soil, leaving families devastated.

Think about that. Peace, Fear is a much better alternative. [second email]

(minor editing by M.Ch.)

The Victims of War Propaganda

Her response is the product of a propaganda campaign within the US Armed Forces.

She is the victim of America’s wars, the widow of an American serviceman. She is also the victim of war propaganda which instills hatred and upholds war as the solution.

Upon reading her message,  I felt that the most important thing to do was to reach out to her, and the victims of war propaganda, provide them with concepts and information, which will enable them to know the truth about US led wars.

More broadly Americans are misinformed as to the true nature of America’s wars. “Wipe out the rest of the world to ensure the security of the American homeland.”

Going after “Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “protect the Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda. This has become a consensus shared by millions of people. In turn, “The Global War on Terrorism” is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”.

Evil folks are lurking. A good versus evil duality prevails, which instills in the minds of millions of people the notion that war is a humanitarian undertaking.

What is required is counter-propaganda to sensitize our fellow-citizens, with a view to confronting the stream of lies emanating from the US government and the mainstream media. This campaign should be extended to members of the Armed Forces and their families.

Spread the word far and wide.  Reverse the Tide. Obama’s “Global War on Terrorism” is Fake, it’s a criminal undertaking.

The fundamental issue, which is obfuscated by the media is that the Islamic State (ISIS) is a creation of US intelligence, which is used to destabilize and destroy sovereign countries as part of a global war of conquest.

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VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

All US wars and related occupations are flagrantly illegal, Trump continuing what his predecessors began.

Pentagon and State Department officials lied, claiming Washington needs no congressional or other authorization to maintain a military presence in Syria and Iraq.

US-installed puppet Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi was pressured to accept the indefinite presence of US forces in the country.

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad slammed their presence in northern and southern parts of the country, earlier saying:

“Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other(s).

Russia operates in Syria by invitation. So do Hezbollah fighters and Iranian military advisors. US forces are there illegally – waging naked aggression by terror-bombing and support for terrorists, seeking regime change.

Last March, Assad blasted Washington, saying wherever US forces are sent, “they only create a mess. They are very good at creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions,” adding:

Without US-led foreign intervention, war would “only take a few months” to end. It never would have been launched.

Washington intends indefinite missions wherever it shows up. Last month, Rex Tillerson lied saying

“(t)he Trump administration’s counterterrorism policy is quite simple. It is to protect Americans at home and abroad from attacks by terrorists.”

The only threat they face is state-sponsored terrorism, no others from terrorist groups Washington created and supports.

Tillerson lied claiming “Syria remains a source of severe strategic threats,” adding US forces will remain in the country indefinitely “to protect our own national security interest.”

They illegally occupy Syrian territory for regime change. Throughout its history, Syria never threatened US security.

The Pentagon and State Department lied, claiming ISIS terrorists in Syria give Washington legal justification for US forces to remain indefinitely in Syria and Iraq.

The Trump administration turned truth on its head, claiming a legal right to strike Syrian forces and Iranian military advisors it believes threaten US troops and terrorist fighters it supports and falsely calls “rebels.”

According to Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Mary Waters,

“the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend US, coalition, or partner forces engaged in operations to defeat ISIS and degrade Al Qaeda.”

Washington created and supports ISIS and al-Qaeda, Waters failed to explain. US forces operate illegally in all its war theaters.

Trump has no legal authority to wage war anywhere without Security Council approval. All US wars are illegal acts of aggression against sovereign nations threatening no one.

Congress has appropriation authority. It can end US wars by cutting off funding, the way US involvement in Southeast Asia ended in April 1975.

Efforts began with the Church/Cooper June 30, 1970 amendment (attached to a supplemental aid bill), stipulating no further spending for soldiers, combat assistance, advisors, or bombing operations in Cambodia.

The 1972 Church/Case amendment to end all funding for US military operations in Southeast Asia, except for withdrawal subject to the release of prisoners of war, was the first congressional legislation to end the Vietnam war.

In June 1973, Congress passed the Church/Case amendment ending all funding after August 15.

On April 30, 1975, US forces completed their withdrawal from the rooftop of its Saigon embassy, ending over a decade of war – based on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing war without declaring it, based on a false flag incident.

Congress can end illegal US wars today the same way it did in the 1970s. Figures like Senators Frank Church, William Fulbright, George McGovern, and others like them aren’t around today.

Even conservative Senator Richard Russell, Lyndon Johnson’s mentor in the Senate, called war in Southeast Asia the “damn worse mess I ever saw,” telling LBJ the territory wasn’t a “damn bit” important to America.

US wars of aggression rage today in multiple theaters. Virtually no congressional profiles in courage exist to stop them.

No House or Senate members argue publicly against endless US wars. None publicy support peace.

Nothing is being done to cut off war funding. Instead, military budgets are increased.

The vast majority of House and Senate members publicly support Washington’s imperial war agenda – including self-styled progressive Bernie Sanders.

Without strong opposition, endless US wars continue, others in the wings to be launched.

Catastrophic nuclear war is ominously possible against one or more nations threatening no one.

America’s imperial agenda is humanity’s greatest threat!

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

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

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

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The plan was announced three years ago, during the Obama administration, when Pentagon officials declared: “In front of Russian aggression, the United States is considering the deployment of ground-based missiles in Europe” (the manifesto, 9 June 2015).

Now, with the Trump administration, the plan is officially confirmed. In the 2018 fiscal year the Congress of the United States authorized the financing of “a program of research and development of a ground-based mobile Cruise missile”. It is a nuclear missile with an intermediate range (between 500 and 5500 km), similar to the 112 Cruise nuclear missiles deployed by the US in Comiso in the 1980s.

They were eliminated, along with the Pershing 2 ballistic missiles deployed by the US in Germany and the Soviet SS-20 deployed in the USSR, by the Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF), stipulated in 1987. It prohibits the deployment of ground-based missiles with a range between 500 and 5500 km.

Washington now accuses Moscow of deploying missiles of this category and declares that, “if Russia continues to violate the INF Treaty, the United States will no longer be bound by this treaty”, ie the United States will be free to deploy ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

However, a decisive fact is ignored: the Russian missiles (assuming their range is intermediate) are deployed in a defensive position in the Russian territory, while the US intermediate-range missiles would be deployed in an offensive position in Europe close to the Russian territory. It is as if Russia deployed nuclear missiles pointed at the United States in Mexico.

As the US / NATO escalation continues, the deployment of such missiles in Europe is increasingly likely.

Meanwhile, in early February, Ukraine tested a ground-based intermediate-range missile, which was certainly produced with US assistance.

The new US nuclear missiles – much more precise and faster than the Cruise missiles of the Eighties – would be deployed in Italy and probably in Eastern countries too, adding to the B61-12 nuclear bombs that US will deploy in Italy and other countries since 2020.

In Italy, the new Cruise missiles would probably again be positioned in Sicily, although not necessarily in Comiso. On the island there are two US installations of primary strategic importance.

The MUOS ground station of Niscemi, one of the four on a world scale (2 in the US, 1 in Australia and 1 in Sicily) of the satellite communications system that connects all US forces, even nuclear, anywhere of the world they are.

JTAGS, a satellite reception and transmission station for the US «anti-missile shield», which is about to become operational in Sigonella. It is one of five worldwide (the others are in the United States, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan). The station, which is transportable, is used not only for anti-missile defense but also for attack operations, launched from forward-deployed bases such as those in Italy.

In the “Nuclear Posture Review 2018″ the Pentagon declares: “The United States commit nuclear weapons forward-deployed to Europe, to the defense of NATO. These forces provide an essential political and military link between Europe and North America”.

By linking us to their strategy not only militarily but politically, the United States increasingly transform our country into a forward-deployed base of their nuclear weapons pointed at Russia, therefore into a forward-deployed target at which Russian nuclear weapons are pointed.

Article in Italian :

Torna l’incubo dei missili a Comiso

ilmanifesto, 27 February 2018

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Raising the American Flag of False Flags. War Propaganda Runs Deep

February 28th, 2018 by Philip A Farruggio

First published by Global Research on April 27, 2015

Each morning I walk throughout my quiet neighborhood here in Central Florida noticing more and more homes with giant U.S. flags hanging from the garage tops. Occasionally, if I know the neighbor with the flag, I ask what is the reason he or she keeps it up so long. The answer is alwaysthe same: ” To support our troops in the Middle East and the war on terror.” 

It is thus useless to conduct a debate, as most of these folks happen to be senior citizens even older than me, the baby boomer. And, if for some reason the neighbor hanging the sign happens to be a man or woman younger than yours truly, chances are any forthcoming ‘ conversation ‘ will get testy to say the least. Having stood weekly on street corners in my town withanti phony war  signs for ten years can attest to that fact. The propaganda sadly does run that deep!

So many Americans really do not have a correct sense of history. When this writer uses Nazi Germany as an example of an ‘ empire on steroids ‘ and compares it to our own, the critics go wild. ” How can you dare compare what the Nazis did to what our country is doing or done? ” Well, let’s take a look back at then and now. Let’s take the GI on the ground first. When Germany began its assault on Europe, many German soldiers, not the true believer Waffen SS, really bought into the skillful propaganda spun by Goebbels and others. The Versailles Diktat, as it was really known by Germans after WW1, did in fact destroy any hope for economic recovery.

Most German leaders and students of history alike agreed that Germany was excessively punished by the victors of WW1, which in fact aided the rise and popularity of parties like the National Socialists AKA Nazis. When Hitler and his gang assumed power, a majority of  German citizens including most of the soldiers in uniform  believed in whatever lies they were told about their European rivals: Poland, France, England and Russia. So, when the Wehrmacht  marched into those countries (except UK), the troops believed in the need for war. As time wore on and the atrocities and cruelties mounted, and victories turned into defeats, the morale level lowered. Now, isn’t that what happened to our own soldiers after we did the dirty deed and invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq? Many returning soldiers, not the true believer right wing types ( American Sniper lovers )  now see the futility of our country’s efforts in the Middle East. Hope springs eternal.

During the reign of the Nazi empire or Third Reich, the average hard working German citizen for the most partloved the economic boom occurring in the 1930s. Who wouldn’t love more jobs, higher wages, food on the table etc? Factor out those who ‘ knew better’ about the brutality of the regime against not only Jews but unions and basically anyone who questioned Hitler and his gang ( duh, like the fact that they outlawed any other political party but their own). What was left was a silent majority ( wonder if Nixon and Agnew got inspiration from that? ) of everyday Germans who reveled in the current better times. They ‘ drank the Kool-Aid’ and hung the Swastika flags from their homes to support their brave troops. Need one say more? Cannot you the reader connect the dots? How many of our fellow Americans really give a **** at what we have and are doing in the Middle East?

Who cares about some rag head child or elderly person blown away by a smart bomb or smart drone missile? If  everygood and decent neighbor of mine, the ones who proudly hang those flags, could watch the 2007 You Tube of the Apache helicopter massacre of 19 Iraqi men who were just walking along in the daylight sun ( and of course the two young kids in the parked car who were seriously maimed).  If they would listen closely and hear the audio of the soldiers in the copter who did the dirty deed… as if it was some video game!  Perhaps then the bridge across the Rubicon would materialize.

Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn , NYC longshoremen. He has been a free lance columnist since 2001, with over 300 of his work posted on sites like Consortium News, Information Clearing House,  Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op Ed News, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust., whereupon he writes a great deal on the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has a internet interview show, ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid’ with producer Chuck Gregory, and can be reached at [email protected])


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

Click here to order.

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In the past, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) justified its militarization of large swaths of Eastern Europe by pointing to the omnipresent threat of terrorism, or some ‘rogue’ foreign state, inherently understood to be Iran. Today the mask has slipped and it is no longer denied that NATO’s primary target is Russia.

But first, a trip down nightmare lane. The road to ruin – at least as far as US-Russia relations were concerned – began immediately following the 9/11 terror attacks. Three months after that fateful day, in December 2001, George W. Bush informed Vladimir Putin that the US was withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a strange move considering that the treaty had kept the peace between the nuclear superpowers since 1972. This geopolitical “mistake,” as Putin rightly defined it, allowed the US to begin the process of deploying a missile defense system, smack on the border with Russia, allegedly to shield the continent against an attack by Iran. Never mind the fact that Tehran had absolutely no reason, not to mention the wherewithal, to carry out such a suicidal mission. But Washington has never been one to let facts get in the way of a forced move on the global chess board.

Thus, the Bush administration advocated on behalf of a land-based missile defense system with interceptors based in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. However, due to serious objections from Russia, not to mention the apprehensive citizens of the host countries, the plan had reached an impasse in 2008 – just as Obama was replacing Bush in the White House. Some would call that impeccable timing. What happened next can only be described as a devious sleight of hand on the part of Washington.

In September 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obamaannounced to great fanfare that the US would “shelve” the Bush plan. This announcement was received in Moscow and beyond as a sign that America’s first black president was truly the real deal when it came to working on behalf of global peace. Suddenly, it appeared that the Bush reign of error had been an ugly anomaly, a bad eight-year dream. That grand illusion lasted for about as long as it took to read that sentence.

Image on the right is then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and then-President Barack Obama

Related image

Barack Obama, the man who had seduced the global masses with his velvety albeit telepromoted delivery, shifted gears the very next day, announcing that the US would be deploying, in four phases, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles in Eastern Europe instead. An opinion piece in the New York Times, penned by then Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, provided all the information to understand that the world had been hoodwinked.

“Steady technological advances in our missile defense program — from kill vehicles to the abilities to network radars and sensors — give us confidence in this plan,” Gates wrote. “The SM-3 has had eight successful tests since 2007, and we will continue to develop it to give it the capacity to intercept long-range missiles like ICBMs. It is now more than able to deal with the threat from multiple short- and medium-range missiles — a very real threat to our allies and some 80,000 American troops based in Europe that was not addressed by the previous plan.”

“We are strengthening — not scrapping — missile defense in Europe,” he concluded.

With the benefit of hindsight and common sense, it seems that Washington’s plan from the start was to move forward with the sophisticated SM-3 system; the bulky Bush initiative just provided the necessary distraction to usher in the advanced Obama plan, which presents a major threat to the global strategic balance.

But all that is ancient history compared to what is happening today. Under the guise of ‘Russia aggression,’ a concept that was peddled to the unsuspecting masses based on the fake news of a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine and Crimea, compounded by claims that Russia somehow swayed the 2016 US presidential elections, US-led NATO has dropped all pretensions and declared open season on Russia. Combined with Donald Trump’s empty threat that the US would exit NATO if member states did not start spending more on defense (2 percent of annula GDP), Eastern Europe has become a veritable hothouse of paranoia-driven militarization.

In what the Kremlin has described as the greatest amassing of military assets on its border since World War II, NATO troops and hardware have set up camp from as far north as Estonia, down through Latvia and Lithuania, into Romania and Poland, where the rotation of US troops is now standard operating procedure.

Meanwhile, massive military games aimed at deterring the Russian bogeyman continue unabated on Russia’s border. In April, British journalist Neil Clark described just one of these exercises, dubbed Summer Shield. The NATO military exercises “got underway at the Adazi military base. Soldiers from Latvia, the US, Bulgaria, Estonia, Canada, Lithuania, the UK, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, Germany and also non-NATO member Sweden are taking part in the drills,” Clark wrote.

He then went on to make a rather unsettling yet accurate observation:

“Today’s mantra regarding ‘Russian aggression’ is the 2003 equivalent of ‘Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction,’ to be repeated ad nauseam by anyone supporting NATO’s Drang nach Osten. And like the WMD claim, it’s based on zero evidence.”

Such reckless behavior would have been difficult to fathom less than a decade ago.

But these are brave new times, and American madness has settled upon the realm of foreign relations like a noxious cloud, forcing client states to crack open their tattered wallets or be left out in the cold when the big, bad Russian bear comes a knocking.

An MFOR rocket is launched from a HIMARS (Source: United States Department of Defense U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Consider the case of Romania, one of Europe’s poorest countries. Prompted by Donald Trump‘s warning that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members must fork over 2 percent of their GDP on military spending, Bucharest just made a down payment on a $1 billion American-made M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), as well as four new multi-function corvettes.

Romanian Defence Minister Mihai Fifor told Jane’s that these exorbitant purchases would “improve Romania’s national and allied defense capability” and emphasized that Romania’s commitment to the 2% of GDP spending cap “for the next 10 years is strong”.

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said,

“We want those procurement programs to also strengthen our defence industry based on offset arrangements where possible”.

This was not the first American military incursion into Romania under the guise of guarding against Iran and other alleged rogue players.

In May 2016, the US activated its $800 million missile shield in Romania, which Russia obviously views as a direct threat.

“At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know,” Vladimir Putin told reporters during a visit to Greece in May 2016.

“We have been saying since the early 2000s that we will have to react somehow to your moves to undermine international security. No one is listening to us,” Putin warned.

It remains to be seen how long NATO tone deafness will continue before the militarization of Eastern Europe gets completely out of control and the situation becomes untenable. Or perhaps the point of no return has already come to pass and, fait accompli, we are merely enjoying an illusory calm before the storm.

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Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist.

Featured image is from the author.

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The widespread use of wildlife-harming neonicotinoid pesticides is failing to deliver promised benefits to agricultural production, according to a study published today in the academic journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

The global assessment of 200 scientific studies by the International Task Force on Systemic Pesticides found that use of neonicotinoids over the past two decades has inflicted serious damage to birds, pollinators and other insects without generally increasing yields.

“This study should be the final nail in the coffin for these dangerous pesticides here in the U.S.,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. “It’s mindboggling that while much of Europe and Canada are limiting the use of these poisons, the U.S. EPA is considering expanding their use across millions of acres.”

The study shows neonicotinoids can be phased out to protect pollinators and aquatic invertebrates without harming agricultural productivity; research also shows that farmers benefit from integrated pest management practices such as crop rotation and biological controls.

Moving forward, the study’s authors conclude that the documented harms of neonicotinoids must be weighed against evidence that use of the dangerous pesticides does not generally result in higher yields or profits.

The International Task Force on Systemic Pesticides is made up of the world’s leading experts on neonicotinoids and other systemic pesticides. Today’s study is the response of the scientific community to escalating worldwide concerns about the harm of these pesticides on biodiversity and ecosystems.

“Here in the U.S., it’s time the EPA started listening to the world’s leading scientists instead of pandering to companies hoping to squeeze more profits out of selling these dangerous pesticides,” said Burd. “This eye-opening study confirms that the EPA must move quickly to eliminate the unacceptable risk posed by neonics. The sooner the better.”

Background 

Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to have both acute and chronic effects on aquatic invertebrates, honeybees, birds, butterflies and other pollinator species; they are a major factor in overall pollinator declines. These systemic insecticides cause entire plants, including their pollen and nectar, to become toxic to pollinators. They are also slow to break down, and they build up in the environment.

A large and growing body of independent science has found overwhelming evidence linking neonicotinoids to declines in populations of bees, birds, earthworms, butterflies and other wildlife.

Neonicotinoids have long been known to pose serious harm to bee populations. EPA assessments released in December 2017 found the commonly used pesticides can also kill and harm birds of all sizes and pose significant dangers to aquatic invertebrates.

The EPA’s aquatic and non-pollinator risk assessment found that the majority of uses of neonicotinoids on currently registered crops resulted in risks to freshwater invertebrates that exceeded levels of concern — the threshold at which harm is known to occur.

Yet the same week the EPA released these risk assessments, the agency announced that it was considering allowing the highly toxic neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam, to be sprayed directly on 165 million acres of wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice and potatoes.

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Israel and Palestine: A Very Modern Apartheid

February 28th, 2018 by Marienna Pope-Weidemann

International Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Many people remember apartheid as a dark chapter in the history of South Africa and the world. But for the Palestinian people, apartheid isn’t history; it is a brutal, daily reality.

Apartheid is the Afrikaans word for ‘apartness’. It describes the system of racial discrimination that once existed in South Africa. Today, the United Nations defines apartheid as acts “inhumane acts…committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime”.

South African apartheid was established in 1948, the same year as the Palestinian Nakba or ‘catastrophe’ that saw the first 750,000 Palestinians forced from their homes. In the 1980s, these two apartheid regimes shared deep economic and military ties. Israel trained and advised the South African military, both in domestic repression of the anti-apartheid movement and in military aggression in Namibia and Angola.

The Shadow of the Wall

The charge of apartheid has been made against Israel for many years by legal scholars and international institutions. An exhaustive legal study published in 2009 stated that Israel has implemented all the core characteristics of South African apartheid, by categorising and segregating the population along racial lines and subjecting the Palestinian population to extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention.

Racial discrimination is a fact of daily life for Palestinians in the occupied territory. Under Israeli law, and in practice, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians are treated differently in almost every aspect of life including freedom of movement, family, housing, education, employment and other basic human rights. Dozens of Israeli laws and policies institutionalise this prevailing system of racial discrimination and domination.

Segregation is carried out by implementing separate legal regimes for Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living in the same area. For example, Jewish Israeli settlers living in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli civil law, while Palestinians also living in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli military law.

This ‘apartness’ is also institutionalised through separate legal systems governing Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living in the same area, with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank governed by Israeli military law. In 2012 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination condemned Israel for precisely this, calling for an end to all policies of “racial segregation and apartheid.”

Many of these practices are prohibited by the UN Apartheid Convention, such as the forced transfer of communities to make way for illegal Israeli settlements and the denial of a host of fundamental human rights. Simply existing as a Palestinian in Palestine carries the risk of murder, torture and unlawful imprisonment.

The illegal Apartheid Wall, built by Israel in the West Bank, towers eight meters high, blocking access to schools, hospitals, loved ones and water supplies. Covered in watch towers, electric fences, cameras and military patrols, it is the ultimate symbol of ‘apartness’.

The Memory of a Movement

Last year, new ground was broken when the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) published a report which not only named Israel as an apartheid state but advocated BDS tactics to bring down the apartheid regime. It is in part because apartheid is synonymous with the call for BDS that calling the Israeli system by its name is so important.

In South Africa, it took two tidal waves to bring apartheid to its knees: first and foremost from within, was a radical mass movement of poor black South Africans; but boycott, divestment and sanctions advocated by the international community and solidarity movements also played a vital role by isolating South Africa’s apartheid regime. This began as a grassroots effort by people of conscience across the world, who inspired by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, protested and lobbied corporations, universities, trade unions, churches and finally governments to get on the right side of history.

Like black South Africans, Palestinians confront a brutal and profoundly racist colonial occupation; and now, like black South Africans once did, they are building a global BDS movement to free themselves. The BDS movement strives to win freedom, justice and equality for all Palestinians, calling for an end to occupation, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of all refugees to return home.

Over recent years, despite growing efforts at repression and censorship in Palestine and internationally, this movement has grown from strength to strength. It has forced major corporations like G4S and Veolia to quit Israeli markets and won large-scale divestments from banks complicit in Israel’s human rights violations.

In 1997, Nelson Mandela famously said:

“We know only too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

This was a sentiment shared with many South Africans as they threw off the yoke of ‘apartness’. But there is also a sense in which it is true for all of us. As long as the powerful anywhere can detain, demolish and destroy life with impunity, all freedom is fragile.

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Marienna Pope-Weidemann is War on Want’s press officer. @MariennaPW.

Who Is Keeping the EU Hostage?

February 28th, 2018 by Martin Berger

Speaking at the security conference in Munich, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster announced that “we will not allow Russia to hold the nations of Europe hostage.” Apparently, local media sources couldn’t come up with anything more fresh than parroting him, unleashing yet another instance of compulsive Russia-bashing, alluding that the recent drastic improvements in the state of Russia’s armed forces are somehow keeping the EU hostage. One could come across a torrent of similar articles immediately after the revision of America’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

But let us inject some objectivity into the otherwise heavily propagandized matter by asking: hasn’t the US been forcing Europe to risk everything in its own little nuclear game?

It’s been seven years since the signing of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) initiative and both Moscow and Washington would announce that they’ve attained the stated goal of reducing the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, today the world rather vocally protests the new nuclear doctrine of the United States, according to which it is going to seek to increase its nuclear posture even in conflicts that should otherwise remain strictly conventional in their nature. The United States has considerably simplified the criteria which enables Washington to use nuclear weapons, expressing its intention of developing smaller nuclear warheads for by both sea and land based cruise missiles.

The National Interest argues that there’s a handful of reasons for these force-structure adjustments, however even such a prolific pro-Washington mouthpiece finds itself unable to downplay the fact that the changes introduced were designed to deter the Russian government from what many in Washington believe to be a lowered nuclear threshold.

It would be added that Moscow hasn’t really lowered or raised the nuclear threshold in recent years. Yet, most people would be misled by the fact that policymakers in both Russia and the United States have different concepts about the conditions under which a conflict meets the nuclear threshold.

It’s no secret that Washington has taken every possible step to weaken, contain, and eventually bring about regime change in Moscow in favor of one that is more compliant with US national interests. It’s been noted that this goes back to NATO’s invasion of Kosovo, against fervent Russian objection. The bold steps that the United States and NATO took to bring down the Milošević government, convinced Russia’s policymakers that Washington would eagerly pursue its foreign-policy goals, while paying no heed to Russian national-security concerns.

It’s no wonder that after witnessing a string of color revolutions across Europe that came hand-in-hand with the so-called Arab Spring, there’s no persuading Moscow that somehow America would ever respect its sovereignty, dismissing the notion of national sovereignty in its meddling all across the globe. That is precisely why any step that Russia has taken so far should not be regarded as a sign of imperialist or revanchist ideas taking hold of the Russian elite, but as an attempt to defend itself from a growing external threat.

“Donald Trump does not understand the historical significance of nuclear disarmament and has repeatedly argued that during the election campaign he allegedly asked one of his advisers what an advantage the United States has in nuclear weapons if they never use it. with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, he boasted that his nuclear button is bigger. For Trump, nuclear weapons are an integral part of his fantasy of omnipotence,” Tagesspiegel said in a statement.

Both the United States and Russia have gone a long way on the road toward nuclear disarmament. However, now Trump has decided to send dubious signals, notes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Trump, unlike his predecessors, has not said a single word about his future nuclear disarmament initiative, while keeping just as silent about Washington’s intentions to extend the New START.

In one of its articles the Guardian states:

Tilman Ruff, the founding chair of the Melbourne-founded International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) said the newly released US nuclear posture review was “a chilling document.

This increases the danger of nuclear war … it clearly flags that great power confrontation with Russia is back on again. It essentially says, ‘we’re back in the cold war’.

According to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Washington’s decision to develop new tactical nuclear weapons marks the launch of a new round of a nuclear arms race. Gabriel noted that Europe would be “particularly vulnerable” in this race, as it was during the Cold War. This notion is supported by the annual report of the Munich Conference, in which experts have unanimously agreed that the world has never been so helpless in the face of this new threat.

The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Fu Ying has openly challenged Washington’s position during the Munich Security Conference, noting that Beijing can’t be any more surprised to hear Washington accusing other states of presenting a nuclear threat, while it itself adjusts its own nuclear strategy in a rather unpleasant manner.

The whole conference can be summarized with a statement made by a Swiss jurist, Beatrice Fihn, who warned all participants of the Munich conference about the possibility of new accidents, noting that the world cannot always count on luck, as, statistically speaking, something terrible would happen sooner or later. However, Washington apparently couldn’t care less about Europe and its security, as it continues accusing Russia of holding it hostage to a nuclear threat.

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Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”   

Featured image is from the author.

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I had high hopes that the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review would lay out a creative new strategy that would save money when it comes to sustaining and modernizing America’s hideously expensive nuclear arsenal. It ended up doing just the opposite. 

Basically an “and the kitchen sink too” document, it not only maintains and modernizes the current nuclear triad, but also expands upon it with calling for new iterations of established delivery systems as well as a developing a whole new one as well. Most controversially it looks to field more “usable” nuclear weapons in some nebulous attempt to deter an enemy’s own use of low-yield tactical nukes during a limited conflict. This is sometimes referred to as “escalate to de-escalate,” but regardless of the tactics involved, really this document represents a handout to defense contractors of monumental proportions and above all else, a unsustainable and highly expensive strategy overall.

Just modernizing the nuclear arsenal we have today was slated to cost roughly $1.5T with inflation over the next 30 years and that is without the new initiatives laid out by the Strategic Posture Review. These include the introduction of low-yield warheads for the D5 Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile, the reintroduction of a nuclear-tipped naval cruise missile, and the development of nuclear-armed hypersonic weapons that will become a whole new medium of delivery in the coming decades.

Before the review was released the Pentagon was already working on new ICBMs, new Columbia class ballistic missile carrying submarines, new stealthy B-21 nuclear bombers, a new guided variant of the B61 tactic nuclear bomb dubbed the B61-12, and a new air-launched nuclear-tipped cruise missile dubbed the LRSO. Basically a totally remodeled nuclear arsenal along with all the command and control architecture that supports it. Now, according to the Strategic Posture Review and the Pentagon’s overall strategy going forward, this is not nearly enough.

AGM-86 cruise missiles being loaded on a B-52H. The AGM-86B is the country’s sole nuclear air launched cruise missile after the retirement of the AGM-129.

Many have argued, including the author of this article, for the potential elimination or reduction of the ground-based Minuteman III ICBM inventory in particular. This leg of the nuclear triad acts as a massive “nuclear sponge” to soak up hundreds of enemy warheads during a conflict more than anything else. This strategy is almost laughable if it weren’t so alarming. Maybe it would save the US from direct attacks on a number of secondary targets in populated areas, but what will be left of the US, or even the world eventually, once fallout from hundreds of thermonuclear weapons that pummeled the central part of the country takes effect.

The ICBM leg is not nearly as survivable as the ballistic missile submarine leg nor is it anywhere near as flexible as the nuclear bomber leg of the triad and its assortment of weaponry. Eliminating the ICBM leg of the triad could save hundreds of billions of dollars that could be invested in expanding America’s nuclear ballistic submarine force and on a whole slew of other capabilities the Pentagon says it desperately needs. Instead, under the Nuclear Posture Review, we are going to be sticking roughly 400 new missiles into existing Minuteman III silos.

Minuteman III missile receiving upgrade. 

Some will say that America’s ICBM force is “an insurance policy” against the other two legs of the triad experiencing technical failure or being knocked out before they can launch their deadly payloads. Considering that our second strike deterrent relies on those submarines primarily, such an argument is questionable at best. And by moving substantial funds to the nuclear ballistic submarine (SSBN) program, that second strike deterrent would only become more survivable and dense.

But even if the triad remains intact in full, do we really need to spend billions on new delivery systems beyond what was already planned? For instance, the nuclear tipped naval cruise missile seems to be more of a bargaining chip to get Russia back into treaty compliance than anything else, but that’s a very costly bargaining chip to say the least.

The nuclear-tipped BGM-109A Tomahawk cruise missile, usually referred to as the TLAM-N, was finally stricken from inventory just five years ago. Now a new missile would have to be developed for this purpose, and the procedures for handling and employing the weapon on American Navy ships and submarines would need to be reintroduced—a far more complex and expensive proposition than one might think.

Equipping Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles for tactical nuclear delivery purposes is downright troubling. An unannounced launch of Trident missile could, or more likely would, be viewed as an incoming strategic strike, not a limited tactical one. Quite frankly, such an act could usher in the beginning to the end of the world as we know it, especially during a time of such intense conflict that a nuclear weapon of any type would be used. The ability to issue a prompt tactical nuclear strike from nearly anywhere on the globe may be attractive, but hypersonic delivery systems will fulfill that capability in the years to come anyway, for better or worse.

In the end, substantially increasing the number of America’s nuclear delivery systems and making nuclear weapons “easier to use” is a reckless and extremely costly path to go down, especially without giving up something in return. And the cold hard truth is that $700B defense budgets are notsustainable. As America is forced to confront its reckless spending habits in the years to come, sustaining the nuclear arsenal we already have will become fiscally challenging—doing so with an expanded arsenal will be all but impossible.

So what you have here is a big reactionary shot of nuclear sugar before an inevitable crash. And yes, the threat profile may be changing around the globe, and certainly a resurgent Russia is something to be dealt with by fielding a strong defense and a solid nuclear deterrent, but how many ways do you need to potentially end the world multiple times over?

When it comes to tactical nuclear weapons, we already have hundreds of them forward deployed to Europe, and the F-35 would be a more cost effective and less risky delivery system than reintroducing naval cruise missiles or low-yield warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. We will also have over 100 stealth bombers and 75 B-52s, not to mention a new very stealthy air-launched nuclear-tipped cruise missile to take on flexible nuclear delivery missions. So a bit of rationalization would go a long way when it comes to updating our nuclear arsenal instead of just saying “we want all of it and more.” Doing so isn’t a strategy at all, it’s a childish and irresponsible cop out to making realistic decisions that can endure for the decades to come.

The Pentagon’s existing triad and its modernization plan seemed to have all the threats covered before the introduction of this expansive nuclear weapons strategy.

So who wins in all this? Defense contractors, and in a huge way. Nuclear weapons contracts are extremely expensive and the secrecy surrounding them helps with limiting public ridicule and even congressional oversight.

But don’t blame the contractors, blame those who are making these decisions. Just going on a nuclear shopping spree while the dollars are many sets the Pentagon up for some tough, if not embarrassing triaging of fiscal priorities down the road. As such, the chances are very high that these initiatives will end up being viewed as highly wasteful and nearsighted in the not so distant future, and even integrating them into existing arms treaties is a whole other issue altogether.

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You may contact the author at [email protected]thedrive.com.

All images in the body of the article are from USAF.

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Video: What’s Really Going On in East Ghouta?

February 28th, 2018 by Sarah Abed

The video below was created by an amazing team of people that won’t let the voices of innocent civilians who are being killed in Damascus, be silenced by western mainstream media!

Created by Carla Ortiz, Jason Clarke, Soraya Tebbani and narrated by Sarah Abed.

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

Featured image is from Sarah Abed.


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“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd American President (1933-1945), (in ‘Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies’, April 29, 1938)

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist, statesman, and author.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.” Lord Acton (John E. Dalberg) (1834-1902), English historian, politician, and writer.

The truth is there are very few members [of the U.S. Congress] who I could even name or could think of who didn’t at some level participate in that system [of bribery and corruption in Washington D.C.].” Jack Abramoff, professional lobbyist and onetime power broker for the elite of Washington, D.C. (during a CBS’s 60 Minutes interview, Sunday November 6, 2011)

Now [the United States] is just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and Congress members. … So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors. …The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.” Jimmy Carter (1924- ), 39th U.S. President (1977-1981), (in a radio interview, Tues. July 28, 2015)

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On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969),34th President of the United States, (1953-1961), and a five-star general, gave a Farewell address that has echoed through the years. He not only warned his fellow citizens about the danger of a “military-industrial complex”, which could “endanger our liberties or democratic processes”, but he also issued a wish in saying that “we want democracy to survive for all generations to come.”

Observers have noticed, however, that since the 1980’s, something big has occurred in the United States: the political system and its processes have fallen into the hands of an unscrupulous money establishment in a way that has left a majority of Americans deprived of the basic services they are entitled to receive from their government.

This can be explained by the workings of a political cycle of corruption, through which big money increasingly corrupts basic political institutions and practices.

Before the 1980s, the U.S. system of government had functioned reasonably well along the lines dictated by the U.S. Constitution and following the democratic principle eloquently summarized by President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) when he said that the U.S. government is the government of the people, by the people, for the people” as dictated by the vote of citizens who elect officials and who favor the adoption of common good policies.

The U.S. Constitution is one of the oldest

The United States is an old democracy. Its Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world. It was approved on September 17, 1787, after three months of debate, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and it became effective on March 4, 1789.

It is a federal constitution, which created a strong federal government, but according to the principle of separation of powers. At the federal level, it establishes an intricate system of checks and balances between an executive branch headed by a President, a legislative branch with two houses forming the U.S. Congress and a judicial branch consisting of a U.S. Supreme Court and other courts. The purpose was to prevent tyranny. The fifty American states delegated certain powers to the federal government, but undelegated powers are reserved to the states.

This founding document guarantees constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, as spelled out in twenty-seven amendments. The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights and they were ratified and adopted in 1791, while the other seventeen amendments have been adopted over time, between 1795 and 1992.

Basically, the U.S. Constitution was a compromise between the political ideas of Alexander Hamilton (New York) and Thomas Jefferson (Virginia). Hamilton and the Federalists favored a centralized federalism, and were supported by merchants and manufacturers. Jefferson and the anti-federalists rather favored the principle of a decentralized federal system; they supported states’ rights and agriculture. Over time, economic and technological developments and various court decisions tipped the balance in favor of Hamilton’s espousal of a strong, even aristocratic, central U.S. government.

The electoral reforms enacted by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt

Since the 1980s, there has been a fundamental change in the way political institutions function in the United States. And this is not only a matter of change in the governance approach to providing public services, as some have pointed out. It is a profound change in the way ordinary citizens choose their elected representatives and in the way they convey to public officials their demands, wishes and needs. Their influence has greatly diminished over the years.

For most of the twentieth century, a century during which the American standard of living rose substantially, there existed in the United States a system of laws and practices that protected the sanctity of the voting system as an expression of the choices of the citizenry. Legal entities, such as corporations, banks or other organizations were prevented from using their huge access to money to subjugate the voice of the electorate and debase democracy.

President Theodore Roosevelt

In 1905, for example, President Teddy Roosevelt (1858-1919), a Republican, in his annual address to Congress spelled out the democratic principle that “all contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law.” In 1906, Roosevelt was even more explicit, saying: “I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party… Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly. ”On January 26, 1907, President Roosevelt signed the Tillman Act of 1907, which was the first legislation in the United States prohibiting monetary contribution to national political campaigns by corporations.

How the U.S. Supreme Court has subverted the American electoral system

However, on January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. The more than century-old Roosevelt principle which had prevailed until then according to which “no corporation shall be considered to be a person who is permitted to raise or spend money on federal, state, or local elections of any kind was crudely abolished and thrown into the trash.

Indeed with their judgment in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Chief Justice John Roberts and four other justices created a major revolution in the American electoral system. They rejected historic precedents and judicial restraint in order to put a radical pro-corporate spin on the First Amendment, which protects free speech. They declared that “corporations” and other legal organizations are indeed “persons”, entitled to the same human rights as living, breathing persons, and that they can spend unlimited sums of money during electoral campaigns.

Consequently, since the 2010 decision of the U.S. Court, the Preambule of the U.S. Constitution that says “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union…” should more appropriately be changed now for “We, the business corporations of America…etc.”, in order to fully reflect the new political philosophy of the five-member majority of the Roberts Court. Indeed, with the decision of Jan. 21, 2010, the type of government the majority of the Roberts Supreme Court wished to establish is essentially ‘a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations’.

Nowadays, the U.S. Government is more centralized and more corrupt than ever

Indeed, over the last quarter century, there has been a quiet political coup in the United States, with far right money interests taking over the American system of government, and this not only includes the U.S. Congress; it includes also the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court. Billionaire oligarchs have taken control in the United States and they pretty much do what they want with the government, irrespective of what the people think or want. This is a throwback to the later part of the 19th Century when Robber Barons could buy out politicians, pile up the public debt and plunder the public purse at will, while unscrupulously rigging markets and abusing consumers.

People want peace, but the oligarchs—and that includes Donald Trump—want war, permanent war, and they want to be free to line their pockets with the war industry profits all over the world.

People want social services and want to reduce poverty, but the oligarchs want to reduce the influence of government, cut taxes and keep politicians corrupted.

People want their children to be secure, safe and not the target of guns when they go to school, but the oligarchs, manufacturers and extremist organizations want to be able to sell military-style assault weapons to everybody who can afford to buy them. Indeed, cowardly American politicians refuse to ban military-style assault weapons, as they are controlled in most countries.

People want to live in a clean environment, but the oligarchs want to be free to pollute and pursue their own private interests.

Most people stand for the rule of law and for democracy, but the oligarchs prefer a system closer to plutocracy, in which their money can call the shots, etc.

The potentially corrupting influence of money has become more and more dominant in U.S. politics, and it has been openly encouraged by numerous decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, especially, as we have seen, by the Roberts U.S. Supreme Courtin favor of the wealthy, the powerful and private interest groups, and against the common good.

As a consequence, popular trust in the U.S. government has declined steadily over the last half century. According to the Pew Research Center, while 73% of Americans were said to have trust in the federal government in Washington D.C., in 1958, that percentage had fallen to a mere 18%, in 2017. This represents a huge erosion of public trust in government in a bit less than sixty years. This is a generational shift of great magnitude and the sign of a profound disgust.

What are the consequences of that shift toward less democracy?

  • Americans are the least likely to exercise their right to vote: in the 2016 election, only 55.7% of eligible voters bothered to vote, as compared to an average of 75% in other OECD countries.
  • In the U.S., politics has become a rich man’s game: In practice and in most cases, no American citizen who is not rich can expect to be elected in the current American political system, unless he or she is willing to become a political prostitute to big money interests. Moreover, ordinary citizens cannot entertain any hope, on their own, of being able to redress the situation.
  • More importantly perhaps,it has become harder and harder to encourage government to pass legislation to enhance the common good and to promote the general welfare of ordinary citizens. Wealthy lobbies, corporations and mega banks, supported by a very concentrated and partisan media, hold the upper hand in anything the government does. These powerful lobbies push the United States to spend more on its military sector than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined.
  • Not surprisingly,income and wealth disparities in the United States are indecent and growing. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality has ranked the United States dead last among the 10 richest countries on that score. Half of the U.S. population lives presently in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. Census data, while the American middle class is losing ground, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center. To compare income and wealth inequality that prevails in the U.S. today, it is necessary to go back 100 years, just before the Great Depression. Presently, there is less social mobility in the United States and the social fabric is increasingly disorganized.

Social cohesion is threatened in a country when income and wealth inequalities become exceptionally wide. This has been a big problem in South America for many years. Now it has become a growing social and economic problem in the United States.

  • The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, ahead of Cuba, El Salvador, Turkmenistan, the Russian Federation and Thailand. Its rate is almost 5 times higher than the OECD average.
  • An ominous sign:Life expectancy at birth in the United States fell for the second consecutive year in 2016, due to a dizzying 21% increase in the death rate from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, this is the first time since 1962 and 1963, two years in which the flu caused an unprecedented number of deaths, that the United States experienced two consecutive years of declining life expectancy.

Conclusion

Since the 1980s, a vicious cycle of political corruption in the United States has become more and more powerful and has had negative social consequences. It is a cycle of corruption that has allowed the money establishment to tighten its grip on the major American institutions of the Presidency, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Such a cycle of political corruption is self-reinforcing, and as it becomes more and more comprehensive and entrenched, it also becomes very difficult to break up and reverse.

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This article was originally published on The New American Empire.

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire”.  Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site: http://www.thenewamericanempire.com.

Featured image is from Vox.

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“One Belt, One Road,” China’s $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, is a massive undertaking of highways, pipelines, transmission lines, ports, power stations, fiber optics, and railroads connecting China to Central Asia, Europe and Africa. According to Dan Slane, a former advisor in President Trump’s transition team, “It is the largest infrastructure project initiated by one nation in the history of the world and is designed to enable China to become the dominant economic power in the world.” In a January 29th article titled “Trump’s Plan a Recipe for Failure, Former Infrastructure Advisor Says,” he added, “If we don’t get our act together very soon, we should all be brushing up on our Mandarin.”

On Monday, February 12th, President Trump’s own infrastructure initiative was finally unveiled. Perhaps to trump China’s $1 trillion mega-project, the Administration has now upped the ante from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion, or at least so the initiative is billed. But as Donald Cohen observes in The American Prospect, it’s really only $200 billion, the sole sum that is to come from federal funding; and it’s not even that after factoring in the billions in tax cuts in infrastructure-related projects. The rest of the $1.5 trillion is to come from cities, states, and private investors; and since city and state coffers are depleted, that chiefly means private investors. The focus of the Administration’s plan is on public-private partnerships, which as Slane notes are not suitable for many of the most critical infrastructure projects, since they lack the sort of ongoing funding stream such as a toll or fee that would attract private investors. Public-private partnerships also drive up costs compared to financing with municipal bonds.

In any case, as Yves Smith observes, private equity firms are not much interested in public assets; and to the extent that they are, they are more interested in privatizing existing infrastructure than in funding the new development that is at the heart of the president’s plan. Moreover, local officials and local businessmen are now leery of privatization deals. They know the price of quick cash is to be bled dry with user charges and profit guarantees.

The White House says its initiative is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposal but is the start of a negotiation, and that the president is “open to new sources of funding.” But no one in Congress seems to have a viable proposal. Perhaps it is time to look more closely at how China does it . . . .

China’s Secret Funding Source: The Deep Pocket of Its State-owned Banks

While American politicians argue endlessly about where to find the money, China has been forging full steam ahead with its mega-projects. A case in point is its 12,000 miles of high-speed rail, built in a mere decade while American politicians were still trying to fund much more modest rail projects. The money largely came from loans from China’s state-owned banksThe country’s five largest banks are majority-owned by the central government, and they lend principally to large, state-owned enterprises.

Where do the banks get the money? Basically, they print it. Not directly. Not obviously. But as the Bank of England has acknowledged, banks do not merely recycle existing deposits but actually create the money they lend by writing it into their borrowers’ deposit accounts. Incoming deposits are needed to balance the books, but at some point these deposits originated in the deposit accounts of other banks; and since the Chinese government owns most of the country’s banks, it can aim this funding fire hose at its most pressing national needs.

China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, issues money for infrastructure in an even more direct way. It has turned to an innovative form of quantitative easing in which liquidity is directed not at propping up the biggest banks but at “surgical strikes” into the most productive sectors of the economy. Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter calls this “qualitative easing” to distinguish it from the quantitative easing engaged in by Western central banks. According to a 2014 Wall Street Journal article:

In China’s context, such so-called qualitative easing happens when the People’s Bank of China adds riskier assets to its balance sheet – such as by relending to the agriculture sector and small businesses and offering cheap loans for low-return infrastructure projects – while maintaining a normal pace of balance-sheet expansion [loan creation]. . . .

The purpose of China’s qualitative easing is to provide affordable financing to select sectors, and it reflects Beijing’s intention to dictate interest rates for some sectors, Citigroup’s economists said. They added that while such a policy would also put inflationary pressure on the economy, the impact is less pronounced than the U.S.-style quantitative easing.

Among the targets of these surgical strikes with central bank financing is the One Belt, One Road initiative. According to a May 2015 article in Bloomberg:

Instead of turning the liquidity sprinkler on full-throttle for the whole garden, the PBOC is aiming its hose at specific parts. The latest innovations include plans to bolster the market for local government bonds and the recapitalisation of policy banks so they can boost lending to government-favoured projects. . . .

Policymakers have sought to bolster credit for small and medium-sized enterprises, and borrowers supporting the goals of the communist leadership, such as the One Belt, One Road initiative developing infrastructure along China’s old Silk Road trade routes.

“Non-Performing Loans” or “Helicopter Money for Infrastructure”? Money that Need Not Be Repaid

Critics say China has a dangerously high debt-to-GDP ratio and a “bad debt” problem, meaning its banks have too many “non-performing” loans. But according to financial research strategist Chen Zhao in a Harvard review called “China: A Bullish Case,” these factors are being misinterpreted and need not be cause for alarm. China has a high debt to GDP ratio because most Chinese businesses are funded through loans rather than through the stock market, as in the US; and China’s banks are able to engage in massive lending because the Chinese chiefly save their money in banks rather than investing it in the stock market, providing the deposit base to back this extensive lending. As for China’s public “debt,” most of it is money created on bank balance sheets for economic stimulus. Zhao writes:

During the 2008-09 financial crisis, the U.S. government deficit shot up to about 10 percent of GDP due to bail-out programs like the TARP. In contrast, the Chinese government deficit during that period didn’t change much. However, Chinese bank loan growth shot up to 40 percent while loan growth in the U.S. collapsed. These contrasting pictures suggest that most of China’s four trillion RMB stimulus package was carried out by its state-owned banks. . . . The so-called “bad debt problem” is effectively a consequence of Beijing’s fiscal projects and thus should be treated as such.

China calls this government bank financing “lending” rather than “money printing,” but the effect is very similar to what European central bankers are calling “helicopter money” for infrastructure – central bank-generated money that does not need to be repaid. If the Chinese loans get repaid, great; but if they don’t, it’s not considered a problem. Like helicopter money, the non-performing loans merely leave extra money circulating in the marketplace, creating the extra “demand” needed to fill the gap between GDP and consumer purchasing power, something that is particularly necessary in an economy that is contracting due to shrinking global markets following the 2008-09 crisis.

In a December 2017 article in the Financial Times called “Stop Worrying about Chinese Debt, a Crisis Is Not Brewing”, Zhao expanded on these concepts, writing:

[S]o-called credit risk in China is, in fact, sovereign risk. The Chinese government often relies on bank credit to finance government stimulus programmes. . . . China’s sovereign risk is extremely low. Importantly, the balance sheets of the Chinese state-owned banks, the government and the People’s Bank of China are all interconnected. Under these circumstances, a debt crisis in China is almost impossible.

Chinese state-owned banks are not going to need a Wall Street-style bailout from the government. They are the government, and the Chinese government has a massive global account surplus. It is not going bankrupt any time soon.

What about the risk of inflation? As noted by the Citigroup economists, Chinese-style “qualitative easing” is actually less inflationary than the bank-focused “quantitative easing” engaged in by Western central banks. And Western-style QE has barely succeeded in reaching the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target. For 2017, the Chinese inflation rate was a modest 1.8 percent.

What to Do When Congress Won’t Act

Rather than regarding China as a national security threat and putting our resources into rebuilding our military defenses, we might be further ahead studying its successful economic policies and adapting them to rebuilding our own crumbling roads and bridges before it is too late. The US government could set up a national infrastructure bank that lends just as China’s big public banks do, or the Federal Reserve could do qualitative easing for infrastructure as the PBOC does. The main roadblock to those solutions seems to be political. They would kill the privatization cash cow of the vested interests calling the shots behind the scenes.

What alternatives are left for cash-strapped state and local governments? Unlike the Fed, they cannot issue money directly; but they can establish their own banks. Fifty percent of the cost of infrastructure is financing, so having their own banks would allow them to cut the cost of infrastructure nearly in half. The savings on infrastructure projects with an income stream could then be used to fund those critically necessary projects that lack an income stream.

For a model, they can look to the century-old Bank of North Dakota (BND), currently the nation’s only publicly-owned depository bank. The BND makes 2 percent loans to local communities for infrastructure, far below the 12 percent average sought by private equity firms. Yet as noted in a November 2014 Wall Street Journal article, the BND is more profitable than Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. Before submitting to exploitation by public-private partnerships, state and local governments would do well to give the BND model further study.

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This article was originally published on Truthdig.org.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, chairman of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com.

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Torna l’incubo dei missili a Comiso

February 27th, 2018 by Manlio Dinucci

Il piano fu preannunciato tre anni fa, durante l’amministrazione Obama, quando funzionari del Pentagono dichiararono che «di fronte all’aggressione russa, gli Stati uniti stanno considerando lo spiegamento in Europa di missili con base a terra» (il manifesto, 9 giugno 2015). Ora, con l’amministrazione Trump, esso viene ufficialmente confermato.

Nell’anno fiscale 2018 il Congresso degli Stati uniti ha autorizzato il finanziamento di «un programma di ricerca e sviluppo di un missile da crociera lanciato da terra da piattaforma mobile su strada». È un missile a capacità nucleare con raggio intermedio (tra 500 e 5500 km), analogo ai 112 missili nucleari Cruise schierati dagli Usa a Comiso negli anni Ottanta. Essi vennero eliminati, insieme ai missili balistici Pershing 2 schierati dagli Usa in Germania e agli SS-20 sovietici schierati in Urss, dal Trattato sulle forze nucleari intermedie (Inf), stipulato nel 1987. Esso proibisce lo schieramento di missili con base a terra e gittata compresa tra 500 e 5500 km.

Washington accusa ora Mosca di schierare missili di questa categoria e dichiara che, «se la Russia continua a violare il Trattato Inf, gli Stati uniti non saranno più vincolati da tale trattato», ossia saranno liberi di schierare in Europa missili nucleari a raggio intermedio con base a terra.

Viene però ignorato un fatto determinante: i missili russi (ammesso che siano a raggio intermedio) sono schierati in funzione difensiva in territorio russo, mentre quelli statunitensi a raggio intermedio sarebbero schierati in funzione offensiva in Europa a ridosso del territorio russo. È come se la Russia schierasse in Messico missili nucleari puntati sugli Stati uniti. Poiché continua la escalation Usa/Nato, è sempre più probabile lo schieramento di tali missili in Europa.

Intanto l’Ucraina ha testato agli inizi di febbraio un missile a raggio intermedio con base a terra, realizzato sicuramente con l’assistenza Usa. I nuovi missili nucleari statunitensi – molto più precisi e veloci dei Cruise degli anni Ottanta – verrebbero schierati in Italia e probabilmente anche in paesi dell’Est, aggiungendosi alle bombe nucleari Usa B61-12 che arriveranno in Italia e altri paesi dal 2020.

In Italia, i nuovi Cruise sarebbero con tutta probabilità di nuovo posizionati in Sicilia, anche se non necessariamente a Comiso.

Nell’isola vi sono due installazioni Usa di primaria importanza strategica. La stazione Muos di Niscemi, una delle quattro su scala mondiale (2 negli Usa, 1 in Australia e 1 in Sicilia) del sistema di comunicazioni satellitari che collega a un’unica rete di comando tutte le forze statunitensi, anche nucleari, in qualsiasi parte del mondo si trovino. La Jtags, stazione di ricezione e trasmissione satellitare dello «scudo anti-missili» statunitense, che sta per divenire operativa a Sigonella. È una delle cinque su scala mondiale (le altre si trovano negli Stati uniti, in Arabia Saudita, Corea del Sud e Giappone). La stazione, che è trasportabile, serve non solo alla difesa anti-missile ma anche alle operazioni di attacco, condotte da basi avanzate come quelle in Italia.

«Gli Stati uniti – spiega il Pentagono nel rapporto «Nuclear Posture Review 2018» – impegnano armi nucleari, dispiegate in basi avanzate in Europa, per la difesa della Nato. Queste forze nucleari costituiscono un essenziale legame politico e militare tra Europa e Nord America».

Legandoci alla loro strategia non solo militarmente ma politicamente, gli Stati uniti trasformano sempre più il nostro paese in base avanzata delle loro armi nucleari puntate sulla Russia eles, quindi, in bersaglio avanzato su cui sono puntate le armi nucleari russe.

Manlio Dinucci

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Dr. Strangelove in the Pentagon

February 27th, 2018 by Prof. Rajan Menon

If you’re having trouble sleeping thanks to, well, you know who… you’re not alone. But don’t despair. A breakthrough remedy has just gone on the market.  It has no chemically induced side effects and, best of all, will cost you nothing, thanks to the Department of Defense.  It’s the new Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, among the most soporific documents of our era.  Just keeping track of the number of times the phrase “flexible and tailored response” appears in the 75-page document is the equivalent of counting (incinerated) sheep.  Be warned, however, that if you really start paying attention to its actual subject matter, rising anxiety will block your journey to the slumber sphere.

Threats Galore

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that the United States devoted $611 billion to its military machine in 2016. That was more than the defense expenditures of the next nine countries combined, almost three times what runner-up China put out, and 36% of total global military spending. Yet reading the NPR you would think the United States is the most vulnerable country on Earth.  Threats lurk everywhere and, worse yet, they’re multiplying, morphing, becoming ever more ominous.  The more Washington spends on glitzy weaponry, the less secure it turns out to be, which, for any organization other than the Pentagon, would be considered a terrible return on investment.

The Nuclear Posture Review unwittingly paints Russia, which has an annual military budget of $69.2 billion ($10 billion less than what Congress just added to the already staggering 2018 Pentagon budget in a deal to keep the government open), as the epitome of efficient investment, so numerous, varied, and effective are the “capabilities” it has acquired in the 17 years since Vladimir Putin took the helm.  Though similar claims are made about China and North Korea, Putin’s Russia comes across in the NPR as the threat of the century, a country racing ahead of the U.S. in the development of nuclear weaponry.  As the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has shown, however, that document only gets away with such a claim by making 2010 the baseline year for its conclusions.  That couldn’t be more chronologically convenient because the United States had, by then, completed its latest wave of nuclear modernization.  By contrast, during the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s economy contracted by more than 50%, so it couldn’t afford large investments in much of anything back then.  Only when oil prices began to skyrocket in this century could it begin to modernize its own nuclear forces.

The Nuclear Posture Review also focuses on Russia’s supposed willingness to launch “limited” nuclear strikes to win conventional wars, which, of course, makes the Russians seem particularly insidious.  But consider what the latest (December 2014) iteration of Russia’s military doctrine actually says about when Moscow might contemplate such a step:

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, and also in the case of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”

Reduced to its bare bones this means that countries that fire weapons of mass destruction at Russia or its allies or threaten the existence of the Russian state itself in a conventional war could face nuclear retaliation.  Of course, the United States has no reason to fear a massive defeat in a conventional war — and which country would attack the American homeland with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and not expect massive nuclear retaliation?

Naturally, the Nuclear Posture Review also says nothing about the anxieties that the steady eastward advance of NATO — that ultimate symbol of the Cold War — in the post-Soviet years sparked in Russia or how that shaped its military thinking.  That process began in the 1990s, when Russian power was in free fall.  Eventually, the alliance would reach Russia’s border.  The NPR also gives no thought to how Russian nuclear policy might reflect that country’s abiding sense of military inferiority in relation to the United States.  Even to raise such a possibility would, of course, diminish the Russian threat at a time when inflating it has become de rigueur for liberals as well as conservatives and certainly for much of the media.

Strangelove Logic

Russian nuclear weapons are not, however, the Nuclear Posture Review’s main focus.  Instead, it makes an elaborate case for a massive expansion and “modernization” of what’s already the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal (6,800 warheads versus 7,000 for Russia) so that an American commander-in-chief has a “diverse set of nuclear capabilities that provide… flexibility to tailor the approach to deterring one or more potential adversaries in different circumstances.”

Source: Arms Control Association

The NPR insists that future presidents must have advanced “low-yield” or “useable” nuclear weapons to wield for limited, selective strikes.  The stated goal: to convince adversaries of the foolishness of threatening or, for that matter, launching their own limited strikes against the American nuclear arsenal in hopes of extracting “concessions” from us.  This is where Strangelovian logic and nuclear absurdity take over.  What state in its right mind would launch such an attack, leaving the bulk of the U.S. strategic nuclear force, some 1,550 deployed warheads, intact?  On that, the NPR offers no enlightenment.

You don’t have to be an acolyte of the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz or have heard about his concept of “friction” to know that even the best-laid plans in wartime are regularly shredded.  Concepts like limited nuclear war and nuclear blackmail may be fun to kick around in war-college seminars.  Trying them out in the real world, though, could produce disaster.  This ought to be self-evident, but to the authors of the NPR it’s not.  They portray Russia and China as wild-eyed gamblers with an unbounded affinity for risk-taking.

The document gets even loopier.  It seeks to provide the commander-in-chief with nuclear options for repelling non-nuclear attacks against the United States, or even its allies.  Presidents, insists the document, require “a range of flexible nuclear capabilities,” so that adversaries will never doubt that “we will defeat non-nuclear attacks.”   Here’s the problem, though: were Washington to cross that nuclear Rubicon and launch a “limited” strike during a conventional war, it would enter a true terra incognita.  The United States did, of course, drop two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities in August 1945, but that country lacked the means to respond in kind.

However, Russia and China, the principal adversaries the NPR has in mind (though North Korea gets mentioned as well), do have just those means at hand to strike back.  So when it comes to using nuclear weapons selectively, its authors quickly find themselves splashing about in a sea of bizarre speculation.  They blithely assume that other countries will behave precisely as American military strategists (or an American president) might ideally expect them to and so will interpret the nuclear “message” of a limited strike (and its thousands of casualties) exactly as intended.  Even with the aid of game theory, war games, and scenario building — tools beloved by war planners — there’s no way to know where the road marked “nuclear flexibility” actually leads.  We’ve never been on it before.  There isn’t a map.  All that exists are untested assumptions that already look shaky.

Yet More Nuclear Options

These aren’t the only dangerous ideas that lie beneath the NPR’s flexibility trope.  Presidents must also, it turns out, have the leeway to reach into the nuclear arsenal if terrorists detonate a nuclear device on American soil or if conclusive proof exists that another state provided such weaponry (or materials) to the perpetrator or even “enabled” such a group to “obtain nuclear devices.”  The NPR also envisions the use of selective nuclear strikes to punish massive cyberattacks on the United States or its allies.  To maximize the flexibility needed for initiating selective nuclear salvos in such circumstances, the document recommends that the U.S. “maintain a portion of its nuclear forces alert day-to-day, and retain the option of launching those forces promptly.”  Put all this together and you’re looking at a future in which nuclear weapons could be used in stress-induced haste and based on erroneous intelligence and misperception.

So while the NPR’s prose may be sleep inducing, you’re unlikely to nod off once you realize that the Trump-era Pentagon — no matter the NPR’s protests to the contrary — seeks to lower the nuclear threshold.  “Selective,” “limited,” “low yield”: these phrases may sound reassuring, but no one should be misled by the antiseptic terminology and soothing caveats.  Even “tactical” nuclear weapons are anything but tactical in any normal sense.  The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki might, in terms of explosive power, qualify as “tactical” by today’s standards, but would be similarly devastating if used in an urban area.  (We cannot know just how horrific the results would be, but the online tool NUKEMAP calculates that if a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb, comparable to Fat Man, the code name for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, were used on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I live, more than 80,000 people would be killed in short order.)  Not to worry, the NPR’s authors say, their proposals are not meant to encourage “nuclear war fighting” and won’t have that effect.  On the contrary, increasing presidents’ options for using nuclear weapons will only preserve peace.

The Obama-era predecessor to Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review contained an entire section entitled “Reducing the Role of U.S. Nuclear Weapons.” It outlined “a narrow set of contingencies in which such weaponry might still play a role in deterring a conventional or CBW [chemical or biological weapons] attack against the United States or its allies and partners.”  So long to that.

The Shopping List — and the Tab

Behind the new policies to make nuclear weapons more “useable” lurks a familiar urge to spend taxpayer dollars profligately.  The Nuclear Posture Review’s version of a spending spree, meant to cover the next three decades and expected, in the end, to cost close to two trillion dollars, covers the works: the full nuclear “triad” — land-based ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ones, and nuclear-armed strategic bombers.  Also included are the nuclear command, control, and communication network (NC3) and the plutonium, uranium, and tritium production facilities overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The upgrade will run the gamut.  The 14 Ohio-class nuclear submarines, the sea-based segment of the triad, are to be replaced by a minimum of 12 advanced Columbia-class boats.  The 400 Minuteman III single-warhead, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, will be retired in favor of the “next-generation” Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, which, its champions insist, will provide improved propulsion and accuracy — and, needless to say, more “flexibility” and “options.”  The current fleet of strategic nuclear bombers, including the workhorse B-52H and the newer B-2A, will be joined and eventually succeeded by the “next-generation” B-21 Raider, a long-range stealth bomber.  The B-52’s air-launched cruise missile will be replaced with a new Long Range Stand-Off version of the same.   A new B61-12 gravity bomb will take the place of current models by 2020.  Nuclear-capable F-35 stealth fighter-bombers will be “forward deployed,” supplanting the F-15E.  Two new “low-yield” nuclear weapons, a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and a sea-launched cruise missile will also be added to the arsenal.

Think of it, in baseball terms, as an attempted grand slam.

The NPR’s case for three decades of such expenditures rests on the claim that the “flexible and tailored” choices it deems non-negotiable don’t presently exist, though the document itself concedes that they do.  I’ll let its authors speak for themselves:

“The triad and non-strategic forces, with supporting NC3, provide diversity and flexibility as needed to tailor U.S. strategies for deterrence, assurance, achieving objectives should deterrence fail, and hedging.”

For good measure, the NPR then touts the lethality, range, and invulnerability of the existing stock of missiles and bombers.  Buried in the review, then, appears to be an admission that the colossally expensive nuclear modernization program it deems so urgent isn’t necessary.

The NPR takes great pains to demonstrate that all of the proposed new weaponry, referred to as “the replacement program to rebuild the triad,” will cost relatively little.  Let’s consider this claim in wider perspective.

To obtain Senate ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty he signed with Russia in 2010, the Nobel Prize-winning antinuclear advocate Barack Obama agreed to pour $1 trillion over three decades into the “modernization” of the nuclear triad, and that pledge shaped his 2017 defense budget request.  In other words, President Obama left President Trump a costly nuclear legacy, which the latest Nuclear Posture Review fleshes out and expands.  There’s no indication that the slightest energy went into figuring out ways to economize on it.   A November 2017 Congressional Budget Office report projects that President Trump’s nuclear modernization plan will cost $1.2 trillion over three decades, while other estimates put the full price at $1.7 trillion.

As the government’s annual budget deficit increases — most forecasts expect it to top $1 trillion next year, thanks in part to the Trump tax reform bill and Congress’s gift to the Pentagon budget that, over the next two years, is likely to total $1.4 trillion — key domestic programs will take big hits in the name of belt-tightening.  Military spending, of course, will only continue to grow.  If you want to get a sense of where we’re heading, just take a look at Trump’s 2019 budget proposal (which projects a cumulative deficit of $7.1 trillion over the next decade).  It urges big cuts in areas ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the Environmental Protection Agency and Amtrak.  By contrast, it champions a Pentagon budget increase of $80 billion (13.2% over 2017) to $716 billion, with $24 billion allotted to upgrading the nuclear triad.

And keep in mind that military cost estimates are only likely to rise.  There is a persistent pattern of massive cost overruns for weapons systems ordered through the government’s Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP).  These ballooned from $295 billion in 2008 to $468 billion in 2015.  Consider just two recent examples: the first of the new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, delivered last May after long delays, came in at $13 billion, an overrun of $2.3 billion, while the program to produce the F-35 jet, already the most expensive weapons system of all time, could reach $406.5 billion, a seven percent overrun since the last estimate.

Flexibility Follies

If the Pentagon turns its Nuclear Posture Review into reality, the first president who will have some of those more “flexible” nuclear options at his command will be none other than Donald Trump.  We’re talking, of course, about the man who, in his debut speech to the United Nations last September, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and later, as the crisis on the Korean peninsula heated up, delighted in boasting on Twitter about the size of his “nuclear button.”   He has shown himself to be impulsive, ill informed, impervious to advice, certain about his instincts, and infatuated with demonstrating his toughness, as well as reportedly fascinated by nuclear weapons and keen to see the U.S. build more of them.  Should a leader with such traits be given yet more nuclear “flexibility”?  The answer is obvious enough, except evidently to the authors of the NPR, who are determined to provide him with more “options” and “flexibility.”

At least three more years of a Donald Trump presidency are on the horizon.  Of this we can be sure: other international crises will erupt, and one of them could pit the United States not just against a nuclear-armed North Korea but also against China or Russia.  Making it easier for Trump to use nuclear weapons isn’t, as the Nuclear Posture Review would have you believe, a savvy strategic innovation.  It’s insanity.

*

Rajan Menon is Anne and Bernard Spitzer of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York/City University of New York. He is a senior research fellow in the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. He is the author, most recently, of The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention (Oxford University Press, 2016).

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United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) guaranteeing sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and the autonomy of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia, is the highest binding legal document that obliges all UN members, including the member states of the EU, NATO, the OSCE, the OIC, the African Union.

Resolution 1244 is the only reliable basis and the framework for any negotiations concerning status. Owing to grave mistakes made by the former Serbian authorities, the UN system has produced certain damaging documents of advisory and non-binding character. It is vital that no similar or even greater mistakes are made either presently or in the future, which would make Serbia’s future position and prospects more difficult.

The single most important parameter is the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. It is expected to be observed by all, and the relevant responsibility grows with the rising position of each of us in the society. Respect towards the country’s Constitution is the measure of the seriousness of the state, statesmen and citizens.

Trading’ Kosovo and Metohija for gaining EU membership is unacceptable, because the values concerned are not comparable. Membership is welcome, provided it is offered devoid of blackmails and ‘an exclusive membership fee’.

Having regard to all the experiences so far it is clear that any guarantees of the EU for any future agreements or solutions concerning Serbia could not be trustworthy.

The EU has been initiating agreements in which the rights of Serbia are but a bait, luring Serbia to consent and sign, whereas the true goal is to establish Serbia’s obligations in favour of the other side and, thus, gain foothold for endless blackmails using unique “argument”: ‘If you want EU membership!’ The only implemented provisions of the UNSC Resolution 1244 are those in the interest of the Kosovo Albanians, and none of those which guarantee the rights of the Serbs and of Serbia.

Serbia has fulfilled all of her obligations stemming from the EU sponsored Brussels Agreement of 2013, whereas the Albanians failed to observe the only one they pledged to – the establishment of the Community of the Serbian Municipalities. The EULEX was accepted as being ‘status-neutral’, but in reality this Mission was and remains the key instrument for the establishment of an illegitimate quasi-state on a part of the territory of Serbia. It is shadowed by unsolved serious suspicions of the corrupt behaviour of its staff. The resulting mistrust may only be neutralized through the implementation of unfulfilled obligations towards Serbia and the Serbs, together with genuine impartiality, identifying and prosecuting those responsible for perpetrated crimes against the Serbs.

Under the negotiations thus far, Serbia has gone above and beyond in granting concessions to Pristina and the West and, in return, was not given as little as a minimal protection of her rights and interests.

Belgrade should be wise enough to infer proper conclusions from this practice. It should not involve in any new arrangement or obligation, least of all enter any new ‘legally binding agreement’ for so long until the implementation of all obligations towards Serbia and the Serbian people, including free and safe return of almost 250,000 persons expelled in an ethnic cleansing episode. What kind of normalization would it be without having it conditioned with the safe return of a quarter million of expelled persons?

A legally binding agreement would be used for the accelerated creation of Greater Albania. While remaining outside the UN, Kosovo could hardly unite with Albania, as it is not a subject of international law. Another obstacle is its formally being under the mandate of the UN under UNSCR 1244.

For Serbia, the status of the Province of Kosovo and Metohija is a vital issue which will be open for so long as the negotiations produce a just and self-sustainable solution, as set forth under UNSC Resolution 1244. None has the right to blackmail Serbia by means of setting any deadline, or to impose solutions tailor-made to meet their own geopolitical interests.

Serbia’s obligation and invested efforts to ensure the basic human rights of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, such as personal security, freedom of movement, and inviolability of property rights – enjoy full support of citizens. This obligation, together with duty to ensure observance of the status and inalienable rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church, neither lessen nor eliminate the essential interest, which is – the status of the Province in line with UNSC Resolution 1244 and the Serbian Constitution.

We find unacceptable both indifference, and indulging the malicious propaganda which touts that Kosovo and Metohija is but a burden Serbia should get rid of, and soon, so to enable her economy and the citizens embark onto the future, investments, development, better standard of living, higher population growth, almost a paradise on Earth. This all is yet another great deception. In any given country, standard of living and economy depend on the economic policy and systems, on the diversification of economic cooperation and the sources of investment, rather than on renouncing any vital national or state interest.

Germany exploits the present Brussels’ format of negotiations to promote its own and, to a certain degree, the general Western, geopolitical interests. This dovetails with the way of resolving the Albanian national question, the weakening of the Serbian people and Serbia as a political factor in the Balkans, and with the further deterioration of the unresolved Serbian national question. An important argument supporting this assessment is the actual prevention of 250,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians to exercise the universal right to free, safe and dignified return to their homes and properties.

A just compromise is only possible within the framework of UNSC Resolution 1244 and the Constitution of Serbia. It is neither a compromise nor a durable solution to let Pristina acquire independence, economic and natural wealth, membership to the UN, UNESCO, the OSCE, whereas all the Serbs get new divisions, new international borders instead of the administrative line, status of national minority, and a Community of Serbian Municipalities reduced to an NGO.

Having in mind all of the above, and in particular the altered circumstances, inadequate format of Brussels’ negotiations, the blackmailing dimension of tying the status of Kosovo and Metohija to Serbia’s EU membership negotiations, one can surmise that presently do not exist prerequisites for the reaching of a balanced, just, and durable solution. Such prerequisites may be created by involving Russia and China in the negotiations process and guaranties, that is, by reverting the process back to the United Nations, where it has originally begun.

Serbia has been and remains willing to search for a compromise, to harmonize interests, not in an uncharted space, but within the domain of principles and law. Serbia should not opt for exiting this domain of principles and law, and strive into the future better life by giving priority to injustice over the justice. The justice is a part of reality, too.

Proposing the so-called “two Germanies models” is an obvious attempt to justify and deceive, and an offer for “face saving”. However, the two situations, relevant international circumstances, their origins and root causes are incomparable. Serbia is not the former Federal Republic of Germany, nor is Kosovo and Metohija in the former German Democratic Republic. Serbia has already expressed her opinion of Zeigmar Gabriel’s ultimatum. It would be better that both Europe and the EU state their position, and thus preclude Gabriel from his habit of proclaiming which parts of territories do or do not constitute the part of other states. Let us recall this year is 80th  year of the Munich Agreement?

*

Živadin Jovanović is President of the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals.

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VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Security Council Resolution 2401 terms, calling for a 30-day ceasefire, exclude combat operations against ISIS, al-Nusra and al-Qaeda.

All so-called “rebels” in Eastern Ghouta are US-supported terrorists.

They’re holding countless thousands of Syrian civilians hostage as human shields, unexplained by Western media, waging daily anti-Syria, anti-Russia propaganda war.

Security Council Res. 2401 was adopted on Saturday. As expected, US-supported terrorists breached it straightaway.

Using foreign-supplied weapons and munitions, al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam, and Failak al-Rahman have been shelling Damascus before and after the ceasefire took effect.

Russian center for Syrian reconciliation General Yuri Yevtushenko said the following:

“The humanitarian, social and economic situation in Eastern Ghouta is deliberately exacerbated by the leaders of the al-Islam, Failak Ar-Rahman and Jabhat al-Nusra illegal armed groups.”

“All attempts by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic to provide assistance to civilians in the Eastern Ghouta region are blocked by militants.”

On Sunday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said

“(t)he situation in East Ghouta is worsening.”

“In the enclave, (five terrorist) groups (including) Jayish al Islam, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Failak Ar-Rahman and Fajr al-Umma have created a joint center for coordinating the actions of the groups,” adding:

Despite adoption of SC Res. 2401 on Saturday, their hostilities continue unabated.

Russia’s reconciliation center issued a warning, saying “data at our disposal indicates the leaders of militant units are preparing a provocation that will involve the utilization of chemical weapons in order to accuse the government forces of deploying chemical weapons against peaceful civilians.”

On the same day, US-led terror-bombing continued in northern Syria – on the phony pretext of combating the ISIS which Washington created and supports.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Deir Ezzor province al-Shaafa and Dharat Allouni villages were struck, killing at least 29 civilians, injuring others.

Eastern Ghouta is a 60-square mile enclave in the Damascus countryside, the last major terrorist-occupied stronghold – why liberating it is a key strategic objective.

On Sunday, thousands of Syrian forces, including elite Tiger troops, launched Operation Damascus Shield.

Aided by government and Russian airpower, it’s a long-awaited offensive to liberate Eastern Ghouta from US-supported terrorists – an operation likely to take weeks, maybe months to regain control over the strategic enclave.

Separately, Turkish forces continue aggression in Afrin – in violation of SC Res. 2401.

SANA said its warplanes terror-bombed Jandires and Rajo towns in Afrin’s Western countryside, “causing massive destruction to houses.”

Turkish and allied forces are blocking humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in affected areas.

Since Ankara operations began in northern Syria’s Afrin district on January 20, hundreds of civilians in harm’s way were killed, many others injured and/or displaced.

SC Res. 2401 changed nothing on the ground. War continues raging because Washington, its rogue allies, and terrorist foot soldiers want regime change and destruction of Syrian sovereignty.

They oppose restoring peace and stability to the country and its long-suffering people – victims of US imperial ruthlessness.

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

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

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

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


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria directly from Global Research.  

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

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

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

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In the Eastern Ghouta in Syria, a war is fought every day without the exclusion of blows: it is the war of information and propaganda, which is consumed by tweets and photographic material on social networks. Objective: to bring public opinion to its own side, at any cost and by any means. The sources that much of the Western information has used to describe what has been happening in recent weeks are the same as those of the 2016 Battle of Aleppo: the Syrian Human Rights Observatory guided by the dissident Rami Abdel Rahman based in London, the controversial White Helmets, the notorious humanitarian NGO founded by James Le Mesurier and, above all, a dense network of “activists” and “reporter” who declare themselves independent. 

What we have undertaken is a journey into this conflict, where children become an extraordinary propaganda tool, able to leverage the emotional side: after all, with the advent of the internet and the new social media, indignation has become a formidable tool and to be effective it must be channeled in a precise and well-determined direction – in this case aimed at demonstrating that “Assad bombards and kills his own people” and to discredit the allies Russia and Iran.

That the war is terrible and brutal there is no doubt but the truth that we want to tell you is another thing, and it is much more complex and sophisticated. To tell you about it, we wore the role of a “rebel” activist, entering the wide and widespread social network that fights against the Syrian government of Assad with photos, movies and hashtags.

Among the first we spoke with is Alaa Al-Ahmad, quoted by the Guardian on 7 February. In his biography on Twitter he describes himself as “a Syrian journalist” of the Eastern Ghouta and contributor to the Damascus Media Center, “an information platform that covers social, military and political events in Syria fairly”. To our precise question, however, he himself confirms the presence of three Islamist groups widely financed from abroad in Eastern Ghouta: al-Rahman Corps, Army of Islam (or Jaysh al-Islam) and Ahrar al-Sham, three organizations Salafis who aim to create a Caliphate in Syria in which to apply the Islamic Shari’a law.

We are talking about the same Islamist organizations that, as Matteo Carnieletto and Gian Micalessin told on “Gli Occhi della Guerra!, have bombed the Syrian capital, leaving many dead, including many children.

Al-Ahmad shares the statements of Arhar-al Sham on social media and turns to Europe for military intervention against Assad:

“My message goes to France to whom I want to remember that we are human and we are not just figures. We have the right to choose who governs Syria. This killer Bashar al-Assad kills us before the eyes of the international community and kills us with internationally forbidden weapons,” he tells us.

No answer when we ask him what his real relations are with the three Salafist groups he mentioned. Here’s how Syrian rebels manipulate information in East Ghouta.

Just like in Aleppo and with the same modalities of Bana al-Abed, also in the information war of Ghouta a children’s role plays a fundamental role as a propaganda weapon in order to convey information in a single direction and in support of the narration of Islamist rebels. They have launched the hashtag #SaveGhouta, they are very young and document the horrors of the war every day with videos and videos. They are the little ones Noor and Alaa and Muhammad Najem. Accounts created only a few months but have already reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Including numerous clearly false profiles.

To manage these accounts are followed by family members or activists close to the Islamist opposition. As reported by Middle East Eye, in fact, “children are helped by family members and opposition activists”. Shams Alkhateeb is an English teacher and is the mother of Noor and Ala. Also according to Middle East Eye, it is she who manages her son’s account, documenting daily what is happening in the suburbs of Damascus. He claims to have decided to open a Twitter account “to show the world what is happening inside the Eastern Ghouta: nothing in the world can prevent us from publishing and we hope to document our suffering on Twitter”.

On the identity of Shams Alkhateeb, however, there are no news or certainties, and the family’s connection with the three jihadist groups present in the rebel enclave is not known. Among the profiles followed by Noor and Ala there are numerous journalists, members of the Syrian opposition, the White Helmets and Lina Shamy, the reporter-activist close to Al-Qaeda who documented the battle of Aleppo Est from the sacks controlled by the rebels.

Who really manages the profile of 10 thousand followers of 15-year-old Muhammad Najem, who has been on Twitter since last December, is not aware of it, since he never answered our questions. Alaa Al-Ahmad confirms, however, that

“Muhammad Najem is fine, he is my friend but now he is in the shelter and has no internet”.

We know he’s lying to us, because the young Syrian’s tweets are very frequent and daily. What strikes us about the mysterious Najem is his special interest in the events of international politics and the internal facts of the United States, quite peculiar for a Syrian boy who lives under the bombs and in a bunker without internet, water and food.

On February 17, for example, Muhammad Najem’s profile put a “like” on a New York Times article on the 13 Russians indicted in the Russiagate investigation; February 13 showed another appreciation for a Political article titled “Here’s how the white nationalists fooled the media on the Florida shooting”. Who is behind Muhammed Najem? To date, it remains a mystery. What is certain is that in the war of propaganda nothing is as it seems and the truth is hidden in depth.

*

This article was translated from Italian


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria directly from Global Research.  

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

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

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

Click to order

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Responding to Fidel Castro’s death just over a year ago, then president-elect Donald Trump was among the first to attack the Cuban revolutionary’s legacy. Amidst other accusations, Trump charged Castro with having “oppressed his own people for nearly six decades”, without supplying any evidence to support such a claim.

Not mentioned by Trump was the extensive terrorist attacks perpetrated by his country against Cuba, dating to the early 1960s. Nor was any attention afforded to the crippling economic blockade America continues to impose on its near neighbor, in opposition to global opinion. The embargo was first implemented during the Cuban Missile Crisis over 50 years ago.

Trump further called Castro “a brutal dictator” – once more neglecting to provide proof – while overlooking American backing for some of the most notorious dictators in living memory. The US not only supported, but ensured, the coming to power of tyrants such as Augusto Pinochet (Chile), the Shah (Iran) and Haji Suharto (Indonesia).

General Suharto, for example, was responsible for killing up to a million people in massacres that rivaled Joseph Stalin’s purges. Yet the Indonesian despot, who ruled for over 30 years, was never charged for crimes against humanity. He lived out his remaining days in luxury, while protected by soldiers and politicians.

The US had orchestrated Suharto’s genocidal takeover (1965-66), as hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were killed by his death squads. The level of bloodshed would surely have impressed former SS commanders like Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, who were instrumental in perpetrating the Holocaust.

Meanwhile, Trump’s hypocritical views are common policy across the West. When a designated foe (like North Korea or Iran) can be accused of something, it receives headline and front page news on mainstream networks and newspapers. Western leaders outline their objections, while ignoring the far more serious abuses that can be leveled at regimes they support (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel).

For decades, oil rich Saudi Arabia has been the most extreme fundamentalist regime in the world – and has remained a darling of the West throughout. The Saudis, with huge military aid provided by the US, Britain, France, and Germany, have been committing an overt famine war against Yemen.

Indeed, successive Saudi regimes make their near neighbor, Iran, seem moderate by comparison. Iran has long been an enemy of the West, after its people overthrew the US-backed dictatorship of the Shah in 1979. This popular revolt against a notorious autocrat deprived America and Britain of access to Iran’s huge oil reserves.

In early January this year, mainstream outlets pounced upon protest marches occurring in Iran. The numbers of those protesting were mischievously exaggerated and exploited for political purposes. There are serious problems in Iranian society, such as high youth unemployment and rising food prices, yet these issues are hardly unique. First world leaders were, however, quick to highlight their concerns for “the great Iranian people” (Trump).

There have been no such misgivings proclaimed for the more severe repression of the Saudi people, for instance. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, commended the late Saudi King Abdullah upon his death in 2015. King Abdullah’s reign lasted for a decade (2005-2015). During that time, he oversaw extreme punishments for anything from minor thefts to drunkenness, rising oppression against women and homosexuals, to public executions for “witchcraft” and drug trafficking, etc.

Obama said King Abdullah had taken “bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative” and that his “vision was dedicated to the education of his people”, while the two leaders had enjoyed “a genuine and warm friendship”. Elsewhere, Bill and Hillary Clinton praised the late king’s “humanitarian efforts around the world”.

There was not a word criticism – simply, as Obama highlighted, Abdullah’s “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship” which was “a force for stability and security”. It would be unwise to note the Saudi efforts for stability and security in their funding of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

However, the following year (2016), Obama was sharp to emphasize his “serious differences” with Cuba regarding “democracy and human rights” after visiting the Caribbean island. For years, Cuba has been attacked by establishment figures for what they deem to be repression of human rights.

Overlooked, is that easily the most severe humanitarian abuses occurring in Cuba, can be seen at the US-run Guantanamo military prison. Indeed, the human rights infringements at the “detention camp” are among the worst in the entire Western hemisphere. Prisoners have often been held without charge or access to lawyers – for years on end – an extreme violation of the most fundamental human rights.

For over a century, the US has illegally occupied Guantanamo Bay, which also constitutes Cuba’s major port. Despite repeated demands for its return, the US has refused to relinquish Guantanamo to its rightful owner.

Furthermore, the fact that Cuba has been subjected to continued attacks by the world’s dominant power is also forgotten. America’s terrorist assaults on Cuba lasted for over 30 years, well into the 1990s. It included everything from bombings of Cuba’s tourist industry, infrastructure and exports, to support for international terrorists, along with chemical and biological warfare unleashed on the island.

Elsewhere, in eastern Asia, a serious crisis has been smoldering since the end of World War II. Following the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Korea was divided into two zones – the north (Soviet-occupied) and south (American-occupied). This came about despite the desires of unification for ordinary Koreans. In the following years, rising geopolitical hostility led to the Korean War (1950-53), which today enters history as one of the deadliest conflicts since 1945.

Indeed, North Korea was leveled by the might of American military forces, losing over 20% of its population. The scale of devastation is put in perspective, when considering that less than 1% of the United Kingdom’s population was killed during World War II.

In the ensuing decades, the country has remained in the shadow of another American invasion. As a deterrent against the threats, consecutive North Korean leaders have pursued the development and expansion of nuclear weapons and missiles.

The fact that the North’s nuclear program was undertaken to discourage an American attack receives little attention. North Korea’s nuclear policy is hardly a mindless strategy. One must consider the fate of non-nuclear states in the past – such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – who were all demolished by the US military, along with help from other old imperial powers, Britain and France.

Instead, the public are repeatedly informed that Kim Jong-un wishes to develop missiles that are “capable of striking the US mainland”. If Kim followed through on this threat, it would mean the end of his own country – the US would inevitably retaliate by firing its far more prolific nuclear arsenal upon the North.

What Pyongyang desires is a guarantee for security, along with a termination of provocative US-South Korean military exercises. Indeed the North, with Chinese backing, have repeatedly proposed to the US that they halt their nuclear testing. There is one condition in return: America must cease its military maneuvers on their frontiers, including replicated nuclear-bombing raids with B-52 war planes.

In June 2017, the Trump administration immediately rejected the latest North Korean-Chinese proposition. Obama likewise rebuffed identical offers in 2014 and 2015. Again, little of this is ever reported to wider audiences. The North Korean-Chinese proposals are reasonable by all accounts. Rather, America’s dangerous preference for military solutions outweighs their desire to pursue possibilities for negotiation and peace.

Elsewhere, Russia continues to be denounced on an almost daily basis by mainstream elites – from its annexation of Crimea (previously part of Russia from 1783-1917), to its involvement in Syria and eastern Ukraine. The current Kiev government, illegally imposed by the US in 2014, is the most corrupt in Europe. Yet its highly unpopular leader, Petro Poroshenko, is seldom criticized – unlike his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who is routinely attacked despite having approval ratings regularly reaching almost 90%.

During last year’s operation to retake Mosul from ISIS in northern Iraq, US-led forces killed about 11,000 civilians. This death toll dwarfs anything ascribed to Syrian government forces in recent days. Yet, in reclaiming Mosul, the appropriate criticism of American-backed forces came entirely from non-governmental organizations (like Human Rights Watch).

The same media outlets condemning the Syrian government, along with allies Russia and Iran, were largely ignoring the catastrophe as Mosul was reduced to rubble. In fact, the civilian death toll reported in Mosul at the time was just 10% of the true figure.

*

Shane Quinn obtained an honors journalism degree. He is interested in writing primarily on foreign affairs, having been inspired by authors like Noam Chomsky. 

Featured image is from The 4th Media.

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