Trump wants to dismantle the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and shift responsibility for Palestine refugees to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). What has UNHCR got to say about that? Is it worried about any negative effects, such as what it has to say about Iran?

Iran’s services to the refugees is exemplary and should be encouraged and supported, Representative of the UNHCR in the Islamic Republic of Iran Ivo Freijsen said in a local ceremony. He expressed concern about negative effect of the US’ unilateral sanctions on daily life of refugees residing in Iran. … Iranians have hosted the Afghan refugees for four decades and the international community should help Iran to continue its services for the refugees, the UN diplomat added.

When I read the above, I went looking for a news item regarding what, if anything, UNHCR has to say about the complete defunding by the United States of UNRWA (established in Dec. 1949 by the UN General Assembly), but I found no pronouncements by UNHCR, only a Facebook ad by the US trying to raise money from subscribers on behalf of UNHCR for the disaster in Yemen (note: Most Americans would be horrified to know that it is U.S. policy leading to the starvation for millions of innocent people there):

I did come across, however, this warning, in January 2018, by Sara Roy: “Palestinians will suffer the most from the cuts to UNRWA, but the whole region will feel the consequences.”

The U.S. has alleged that UNRWA must be dismantled or reformed. In particular, the U.S. has taken issue with how UNRWA defines and registers refugees, alleging that its organizational procedures are contrary to international refugee law and UNHCR regulations. In particular, the U.S. wants a) to redefine Palestine refugees — i.e., remove the descendants of original Palestine refugees from the UNRWA register, as well as those who have obtained the nationality of a host country — example, Jordanian, and b) to dismantle UNRWA and shift responsibility for Palestine refugees to UNHCR.

The strategic discursive attacks on UNRWA are no more different from the strategic discursive attacks on, say, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Both are meant to delegitimize Palestinian nationalism and entrench Jewish nationalism in Palestine and lead to policies by and in the U.S. that do just that.

The issue of the expulsion of the Palestinians, their right to return to their homes, and to compensation for their losses, has in many ways been the core of the question of Palestine refugees since 1948, when the dispossession of the Palestinian people was consummated. Since then, there have been various brazen attempts to dodge this issue or ignore its salience by denying that the Palestinians exist, ranging from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s notorious declaration to this effect in 1969, to the current Trump administration’s effort to define away the reality of the Palestinian refugees through legal sleight of hand.

The quote above comes from a recent report (published May 15, 2019) by the Institute for Palestine Studies, which has long addressed knowledge gaps on Palestine as well as challenged unreliable, politically biased information with timely and meaningful scholarly publications.

In its new series Current Issues in Depth, the Institute has issued a report by Francesca P. Albanese, an Affiliate Researcher with Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut, titled UNRWA and Palestine Refugee Rights. The report addresses fundamental legal and historical issues and amply demonstrates that the U.S. policy shift concerning UNRWA and Palestine refugees is ill-Informed and driven by political, rather than sound legal considerations, as the U.S. claims.

UNRWA was devised to provide relief and assistance to Palestine refugees until such time that their situation was resolved in accordance with UNGA Resolution 194. It employs 30,000 staff in 711 schools in the region, serves over half a million children and runs 143 health facilities. The Agency has already suspended its emergency relief programs, including essential food and cash distribution to the poorest segment of the Palestine refugee population.

The Institute’s report debunks the U.S. allegations against UNRWA as contradicted by international law, UN legislation and “decades of State practice”. The claims are all “old talking points” with a new twist — that of the “deal of the century”, and shows up the policy of the Trump’s administration for what it is — a unilateral wholesale “adoption of the most extreme Israeli positions”.

Israel’s “extreme position” is described in the report as follows:

Palestine refugees at large, including descendants, are persons of predominantly Arab origin (holding British Mandate citizenship since 1925 and Ottoman nationality before that) who were displaced from the territory of that part of British Mandate Palestine subsequently designated as Israel, to other parts of Mandate Palestine, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as neighbouring countries, namely Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, in connection with the creation of the State of Israel (i.e. the 1947-49 Arab-Israeli war). Despite being willing to return to their “homeland” in line with applicable international law, approximately 750,000 Palestine refugees were prevented from doing so by virtue of laws enacted by Israel between 1948–52, which resulted in their denationalization as well as the confiscation and disposition of their properties. After enacting a Law of Return in 1950, which encouraged the immigration of Jews from all over the world to the State of Israel, in 1952 Israel also approved the Nationality Law, which stipulated conditions that Arabs of former Palestine could not fulfil, which de facto barred them from returning to the land as nationals.

This is not the first time that the Institute of Palestine Studies has issued information and analysis on UNRWA and its archives. In 2001, in conjunction with the Institute of Jerusalem Studies (IJS), which had undertaken to digitize UNRWA’s archival system, it issued a volume titled Reinterpreting the Historical Record: The Uses of Palestinian Refugees, Archives for Social Science Research and Policy Analysis, edited by Salim Tamari and Elia Zureik. The purpose was to “preserve a major segment of Palestinian history for national and research purposes, and to make data available to Palestinian negotiators during final status talks about the … conflict.”

The irony here is that the data meant to be useful for the “negotiations” then is being undermined today by the U.S. as a strategic negotiation ploy for the “deal of the century”.

The extensive data available on Palestinian dispossession are lodged in different organizations that pre-date UNRWA. The UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) possesses in its archives “extensive data on confiscated Palestinian refugee property”. Information is also available in the archives of the International Red Cross (IRC) in Geneva and Bern, and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) offices in Philadelphia.

The archives also include information on Palestinians who became refugees during the 1967 war and others who were expelled in 1948 but did not register with the Agency, and do not appear in UNRWA’s registry.

The claims that UNRWA operates outside the realm of the international refugee regime and perpetuates the refugee problem are based on selective use and erroneous understanding of facts regarding Palestine refugees and UNRWA; misconstrue the international refugee framework, particularly the mandates of UNRWA and UNCHR; and neglect UN norms and procedures regarding cooperation with the UN and among states. … The argument that UNRWA is an “irredeemably flawed operation” “perpetuating” the refugee crisis is premised upon the assumption that, by not overtly pursuing local integration or third country resettlement of refugees, UNRWA has “perpetuated” the refugee problem — hence, UNHCR should take over the mandate for Palestine refugees so as to easily resettle them.

In the final chapter of Reinterpreting the Historical Record (2001), Adnan Abdelrazek has this to say about gaps in the available records and tenders a recommendation that would be much more productive for the Trump administration to take up than its current sabotage endeavors against UNRWA:

In order to close … gaps in the available records, including the modernized records, and to reach a comprehensive identification of the refugees’ properties and the creation of value parameters corresponding to a realistic market value, a specialist team of land and market experts should be brought in. Keeping these records confidentially away from the relevant experts undermines their usefulness and relevancy. As the peace negotiations advance, the completion of these records by technical and economic experts becomes more urgent.

Following are the conclusions in the report UNRWA and Palestine Refugee Rights, Institute of Palestine Studies, published May 15, 2019.

Conclusions

71. The United States has been strategic in determining the UN regime regarding Palestine refugees. Th e United States, under the auspices of the General Assembly, has played a crucial role in setting up UNRWA and in the way the Agency has worked and developed. For decades, it has influenced through its role within the UN, by means of multilateralism, politics, and processes regarding Palestine refugees. By allowing UNRWA to provide Palestine refugees with relief and development opportunities, especially quality education, employment opportunities, and health services, the international community — and the United States first and foremost — has contributed to alleviate the suffering of Palestine refugees and also fostered stability in the region.

72. The current U.S.-led attempts to reshape the way Palestine refugees are defined, registered and counted, and to dismantle UNRWA, have no legal basis; rather, they seem to constitute an attempt to attain political goals without regard to international law, human rights and history.

73. Both UNRWA’s definition and its registration system are in line with international norms and practice, and Palestine refugees, including descendants, are legitimate refugees. While some irregularities exist (unlike UNHCR, UNRWA only registers refugees though the male line and does not count those who were displaced for the first time by the 1967 hostilities as part of its Registered Refugee population), these have not been made the object of U.S. criticism and request for reform.

74. It is irrelevant whether UNRWA’s refugee definition differs from how all other refugees in the world are classified. Upon the initiative of the U.S. government, the UN has adopted a sui generis regime for Palestine refugees, by creating (UNCCP and) UNRWA and by incorporating article 7(c) in the UNHCR Statute and article 1 D in the 1951RC. Article 1 D contains its own “cessation clause” and it was upon insistence of the United States, which saw UNRWA as an instrument to prevent countries in the Middle East from falling into the Soviet sphere of influence that UNRWA continued to treat all Palestine refugees — including those who had citizenship, like in Jordan — as eligible for its services.

75. UNRWA’s history demonstrates that rather than “perpetuating” the refugee problem through its services to refugees, and in the absence of a political solution, the Agency has been a stabilizing factor, helping maintain peace by supporting welfare and development of the refugees in the various host countries. Rather, dependency of growing numbers of refugees on UNRWA services stems from the failure to achieve a political resolution in line with international law. UNRWA stands as a symptom of these structural deficits, not its cause.

76. The right of return of Palestine refugees rests upon international law, as reaffirmed repeatedly by the General Assembly, and its exercise cannot be cancelled based on political considerations.

77. As a United Nations member state, the United States has the power to bring any issues for discussion before the UN, including the need to reform a UN agency, its mandate, or operations. However, the pressure that the United States appears to be exerting both on UNRWA — pressing the Agency to reform itself in a way that contrasts with the Agency mandate and the immediate interests of the refugees — and on other UN member states to change their policies vis-à-vis UNRWA and Palestine refugees, sits uncomfortably with these states’ sovereignty and the independence that UN agencies enjoy under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. It is also at odds with the overall purposes of independence of states in their dealings with the United Nations and cooperation among nations for maintenance of peace and stability enshrined by Article 2 of the UN Charter.

78. Should the General Assembly advise that UNRWA needs to be reformed, new visions and strategy should be discussed within the framework of UN rules and procedures and, bearing in mind the importance of respecting international law — especially human rights norms — also as a stabilizing factor.

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Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

On May 21, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria) and its Turkish-backed allies launched an attack from the direction of al-Habit and Qusaybiyah in northwestern Hama on positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Kafr Nabudah, Tal Hawash and Qafr-Zaita.

The attack started with at least one successful attack by a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device near SAA positions. Militant group infantry was backed up by several rocket launchers and battle tanks.

In the framework of this attack, militants reached Kafr Nabudah attempting to capture it. Since then, intense fighting has been ongoing there.

At the same time, SAA units have still not been able to make any progress in the area of Kbanah in northwestern Lattakia. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party have well-fortified positions in this area and have successfully repelled most SAA attacks.

Both sides claim that their enemies suffered major casualties.

The situation is further complicated by speculations about chemical weapons, which are being spread by radical groups. As always, they use this kind of propaganda in the attempt to get foreign support in their battle against the Damascus government.

The US State Department has already reacted to a recent claim that the SAA allegedly used chlorine in northern Lattakia threatening to attack Syria once again.

“We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said claiming that “the Assad regime’s culpability in horrific chemical weapons attacks is undeniable”.

In turn, the Russian military warned that militants are preparing new provocations involving chemical weapons. According to the Russian Center for reconciliation, captured militants revealed that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham had set up a special unit named the ‘chemical wing’ for this purpose. The unit is reportedly headed by Abu Basir al-Britani, a member of the al-Qaeda linked group Hurras al-Din. This group is a close ally of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The recent developments once again confirm that the Greater Idlib zone remains a nest of various terrorist groups deeply linked to the so-called Syrian opposition. The de-escalation efforts and attempts to separate “moderate rebels” from “terrorists” resulted in little progress. All these create a serious pretext for further military action in this area.

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In mid-January 2018, the Turkish General Staff announced the beginning of Olive Branch Operation. The goal was to oust the Kurds from the outskirts of Afrin, as well as to create a buffer zone along the Syrian-Turkish border.

These steps were sharply criticized by the world community, but Ankara hastened to declare that the presence of its troops in Syria was temporary.

Erdogan promised to return these territories to Syrians. Indeed, the fighting stopped on March 20 2018, after capturing Afrin when several hundred Kurds were killed and wounded. However, now it looks like Turkey is not going to leave the occupied territory.

Kurdistan 24 TV channel recently published information that the Ankara government  is building a concrete wall around the city of Afrin to isolate it from its surroundings.

“Sources on the ground in Afrin see this as another step of Turkey’s annexation of Afrin into its borders,” said Mutlu Çiviroğlu, a Syria and Kurdish affairs analyst.

Though several locals support Turkish activity, it doesn’t bring peace and stability to the region. Just remember the events of the last year.

First of all, let’s notice the terrorist attacks in Afrin that have been carried out against the Turkish Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) units. Among biggest attacks, the car bomb explosion in front of Ahrar al-Sharqiya headquarters is often mentioned. An investigation was initiated, but the responsible parties were never found. That demonstrates the support of the residence to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Moreover, since the beginning of the Turkish occupation, the humanitarian situation in northern Syria has deteriorated significantly. The main reason is the closure of medical and educational facilities whose activities, for some reason, didn’t suit the local pro-Turkish administration. On demand of the Turks, some of them were converted to the military headquarters.

Return of the northern regions under the control of the Syrian government undoubtedly will lead to the reopening of the health centers, hospitals, and schools. Consequently, more Syrian children will be able to obtain an education, and older people will receive appropriate medical treatment.

The districts of Damascus that have been completely liberated from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants and now are being reconstructed by the Syrian government serve as a good example. Thus, in February 2019, the provincial departments of education reported on the restoration of 57 schools, another eight are still being reconstructed. The same situation takes place in other parts of Syria.

The reopening of the Police stations and reactivation of other security services will contribute to reduce arms and drug trafficking, as well as limit the supply of weapons to terrorists in the neighbouring province of Idlib. Such actions will lead to a de-escalation of tensions in the region.

Currently, the key reason for hostilities in the region is the ongoing extremist’s provocations. Ankara ignores such incidents as these radicals are fighting against the Kurds. The militants are opposed to President Assad, but after the withdrawal of the Turkish troops, Damascus will be able to establish a dialogue with FSA, as it has happened in southern Syria. There the Syrian government managed to persuade the militants to lay down weapons and then amnestied them.

At the same time, we should not forget about the fate of Kurds. If the north of Syria remains under Turkish control, thousands of locals will become refugees and can’t get back to their homes, fearing constant repression by the Turkish authorities. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 100,000 people have already left the region before the Turkish invasion.

Therefore, the return of the areas occupied by the Turkish Army under control of the Syrian government is an essential step towards restoring sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. It contributes a lot to the strengthening of peace and stability, both in the north of the country and in the region as a whole.

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Monsanto, Scientific Deception and Cancer

May 23rd, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Money may not be able to buy the purest love, but it can buy the best, life-ending cancer.  For Monsanto, giant of rule and misrule in matters of genetically modified crops, known for bullying practices towards farmers, things have not been so rosy of late.  Ever the self-promoter of saving the world an agricultural headache (biotech crops being the earth’s touted nutritional salvation), the company has run into a set of legal snags that have raided its funds and risk sinking it, along with Bayer AG, the company that bought it last year for $63 billion.

A spate of legal cases have begun entering the folklore of resistance to the company.  Central to it is the use of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weedkiller marketed since 1974 as Roundup, and a core chemical in the agrochemical industry. In 2015, it was deemed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) “probably carcinogenic to humans” in addition to being genotoxic and clearly carcinogenic to animals.

Image result for lee johnson + monsanto

The legal train commenced last August, when a state court in San Francisco found for Dewayne “Lee” Johnson (image on the right), a 46-year-old former school groundskeeper, ordering $289 million in damages.  (The amount was subsequently reduced to $78 million.)  The jury had been satisfied that the use of the Roundup weedkiller, with its glyphosate constitution, had, in fact, been the cause of Johnson’s cancer.  They also found that the company had paid insufficient heed to warning the plaintiff of the impending dangers, also acting, in the process, with “malice or oppression”.   

The picture that emerged in trial was of a beast keen to keep critics at bay and intimate opponents.  Attorney Brent Wisner was keen to press the issue.

“Monsanto has specifically gone out of its way to bully… and to fight independent researchers.”

Wisner’s evidence – a selection of internal Monsanto emails – showed the steadfast rejection on its part of warnings critical and researched. “They fought science.” 

Not so, came the rebutting if not so convincing argument from Monsanto lawyer George Lombardi.

“The scientific evidence is overwhelming that glyphosate-based products do not cause cancer and did not cause Mr Johnson’s cancer.”  

The message was very much in keeping with Monsanto’s program for colouring and fudging empirical data on the use of herbicides.  The 2015 IARC findings, despite being on some level qualified, infuriated the company. Christopher Wild, the director of the agency, was unequivocal in his interview with Le Monde: the company had gone rabid. 

“We have been attacked in the past, we have faced smear campaigns, but this time we are the target of an orchestrated campaign of an unseen scale and duration.” 

Monsanto dismissed the agency’s conclusions as “junk science”, the product of “cherry-picking” driven by a biased agenda.   

The company duly harried the agency, using the law firm Hollingsworth to demand, “Drafts, comments, data tables… everything that has gone through the IARC system.”  In the event that the agency decline to do so, the firm requested and instructed the agency “to immediately take all reasonable steps in your power to preserve all such files intact pending formal discovery requests issued via a US court.” 

What commenced was a concerted effort to cook the science and massage the results.  Monsanto chief scientist William Heydens proposed one method of doing so: ghost-writing papers under the thinly veiled cover of scientific legitimacy.  As Heydens noted in an email,

“we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak.” 

This was a practice not unknown to the company; a paper had been so authored in 2000, one conspicuously short on detail regarding the affiliation of Monsanto employees. 

In the safety stakes, Monsanto was also careful to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency was on board – at least when it came to terminating or frustrating investigations.  Jess Rowland, formerly a manager in the EPA’s pesticide division, is said to have boasted in an April 2015 conversation with a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager that,

“If I can kill this I should get a medal.” 

In October that year, the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC), chaired by Rowland (miracle of miracles) produced an internal report claiming that glyphosate, contrary to the IARC findings, were “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” 

The Johnson case was significant for the court’s allowance of extensive scientific argument.  This flatfooted Mansanto (now Bayer’s) legal team.  It was an approach that would be repeated in subsequent trials.  In March this year, a unanimous jury verdict in the federal court in San Francisco ordered the company to fork out damages to the value of $80 million for failing to warn Edwin Hardeman, the plaintiff, of any cancer risks associated with the use of Roundup.  

Image result for Alberta and Alva Pilliod

A trifecta was achieved this month when a jury of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Alameda was willing to find that Roundup weedkiller caused the non-Hodgkin lymphoma of the plaintiffs Alberta and Alva Pillioid. It took 17 days of trial testimony leading to the decision to award the couple $1 billion each. 

The order of punitive damages centred on the finding that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression, or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto”. 

The next case of interest against Monsanto is being pressed by Sharlean Gordon with an entire cohort of fellow litigants, set to take place in St. Louis County Circuit court on August 19.  The formula is tried and true, alleging that they were harmed as “a direct and proximate result of [Monsanto’s] negligent, wilful, and wrongful conduct in connection with the design, development, manufacture, testing, packaging, promoting, marketing, distribution, and/or sale of Roundup and/or other Monsanto glyphosate-containing products.” 

Legal watchers, thousands of other litigants, and those in St. Louis County, will be curious to see whether the company finally gets some respite after its Californian hammerings.  It employs a considerable labour force in the area and has been very much in the charity game.  But the sympathy of local jurors should not detract from the St. Louis City Court’s reputation as one of the more favourable forums to seek mammoth verdicts against corporations.  Sympathies for Monsanto-Bayer might well have truly curdled by then. 

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

Featured image is from Mike Mozart/Flickr/CC

The following text by Professor Gjergj Sinani of the University of Tirana, Albania, was presented at the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations, programme organized by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, May 15-16, 2019

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Voltaire is a famous thinker who has been considered the founder of the conscience of Europe. He did this by evoking the example of Chinese civilization, and by focussing on Chinese civilization he sought a better Europe by using a critique of the vices of Europe comparing with the values ​​of Chinese civilization.

The seventeenth and eighteenth century is considered the period of the crisis of European consciousness. One of the elements of this crisis was the triumph of Europe. From now on, the notion of Europe has taken precedence over “Christianity”.

It was in terms of Europe that all sovereigns, ministers and writers analyzed the situation. If for Montesquieu Europe is the land where law, if not freedom, dominates, while Asia is despotic, Voltaire will have another perspective by glorifying ancient China. In his work “Essay on Morals” in two volumes, he put as subtitle “and the spirit of nations and the main facts of history from Charlemagne to Louis XIII”.

As a philosopher he wants to show that we have never finished with history. If this work is considered as a Philosophy of History, this explains why Voltaire no longer follows the order of a chronological relation. Flying over time and continents, he examines the question of origins, and if the initial chapter is about China, he wants to show that history starts in non-history.

In the Introduction and the first two chapters he deals with China. We must take into consideration the fact that he organizes his history of the Middle Ages around the conflict of the priesthood and the empire. It is without doubt that such a conflict was of primary interest to all “enlighteners”: around 1760, at the initiative of the various enlightened despotisms, the struggle began in Europe between the secular power and the clerical power. At the same time, from morals he grasps “the spirit of men”. The customs take on a meaning, becoming then an object worthy of attention, as the historian goes back to the ideas from which they proceed. That’s why he wrote:

“Dare we talk about the Chinese without referring to their annals? They are confirmed by the unanimous testimony of our travelers of different sects, Jacobins, Jesuits, Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans…”

“Only of all peoples, they have constantly marked their epochs by eclipses, by the conjunctions of the planets; and our astronomers, who have examined their calculations, have been astonished to find them almost all true; and the Chinese wrote their history, pen and astrolabe in hand, with a simplicity of which we can find no example in the rest of Asia”[1].

Voltaire wants to emphasize that in this vast country, it is the reason and the science that they are at the base of the Chinese institutions. This scientific exactitude is even based on their history that contrasts with the contradictions of the European chronologies that contradict each other.

Portrait of the Kangxi Emperor in Court Dress, late Kangxi period

He gives the example of the wise Emperor Cang-hi for whom he said that when he heard the European missionaries that they showed considerable variations in the chronology of the vulgate, the Septuagint and the Samaritans, Cang-hi replied to them: “Is it possible that the books you believe in are fighting each other?“ And it is Voltaire that comments:

“The Chinese wrote on light bamboo tablets, when the Chaldeans wrote only on rough bricks; and they even have these old tablets that their varnish has preserved from rot: they are perhaps the oldest monuments in the world”[2].

According to him, as soon as this people write, they write reasonably.

China differs especially from other nations in that their history makes no mention of a college of priests who never influenced laws. The Chinese do not go back to the wild days when the men needed to be deceived to lead them. According to him, there were the other peoples that began their history by the origin of the world, as for example the Zend of the Persians, the Shasta and the Veidam of the Indians, finally until Hesiod, all go back to the origin of the things, to the formation of the universe.

“The Chinese did not have this madness; their history is only that of historical times. It is here that we must above all apply our great principle that a nation whose first chronicles attests to the existence of a vast empire, powerful and wise, must have been gathered together in a body of people for centuries past”[3].

According to him this civilized people were civil when we were wild. Their annals have an assurance character then no one else. “Finally, writes Voltaire, it is not up to us or the end of our West, to dispute the archives of a nation that was all civilized when we were only savage”[4].  The most important is the fact that the Chinese people organized themselves as a body of people (en corps de peuple).

What are the reasons that the Chinese succeeded in raising as a body of people? The reason is that they perfected the moral, which is the first of the sciences. Here is the description of Voltaire who, at the same time, aims the default of Europe.

“Their vast and populous empire was already governed as a family of which the monarch was the father, and of which forty courts of law were regarded as the elder brothers, when we were wandering in small numbers in the forest of the Ardennes. Their religion was simple, wise, august, free from all superstition and barbarism, when we did not even have Teutates, to whom druids sacrificed the children of our ancestors in great wicker manna”[5].

We know the anticlerical attitude of Voltaire and especially his fight against intolerance and fanaticism. Let us not forget that the Europe just sorted out of the wars of the religions. That’s why Voltaire glorifies public life in China.

“Never has the religion of the emperors and the tribunals been dishonored by impostures, never troubled by the quarrels of the priesthood and the empire, never charged with absurd innovations, which fight each other with arguments as absurd as they are. They, whose insanity ended the dagger in the hands of the fanatics, led by factious men. It is especially here that the Chinese prevail over all the nations of the universe”[6].

Hence the glorification of the great Chinese thinker, Confucius. According to Voltaire, Confucius imagined neither new opinions nor new rites. He made neither the inspired nor the prophet; he was a wise magistrate who taught the ancient laws. He recommends only virtue; he does not preach any masters. In his first book, he says that to learn to govern you must spend all your days correcting yourself.

In the second, he proves that God himself engraves virtue in the heart of man; he says that man is not born wicked, and that he deflects him by his fault. The third is a collection of pure maxims, where you find nothing low, and nothing of a ridiculous allegory. According to Voltaire, he had five thousand disciples, he could put himself at the head of a powerful party, and he liked better to teach the men than to govern them. After his death his disciples were emperors, the colao, that is to say the mandarins, the scholars, and all that is not peoples.

At the same time, Voltaire is strongly opposed to the idea of ​​attributing to him atheism, because a Frenchman called Maigrot treated Confucius as an atheist, based on the words of this great man: heaven gave me virtue, man can not harm me.

According to Voltaire, Confucius, who lived two thousand and three hundred years ago and shortly before Pythagoras, restores this religion, which consists in being just. He began by saying, in his book, that whoever is destined to govern “must rectify the reason he received from heaven, as one wipes a tarnished mirror; that he must also renew himself, to renew the people by his example.” Everything tends to this end; he is not a prophet, he is not inspired; he knows no inspiration but the continual attention to repress his passions; he only writes in sage, and he is regarded by the Chinese as a sage.

“His morality, writes Voltaire, is as pure, as severe, and at the same time as human as that of Epictetus. He does not say: Do not do to the others what you would not want to be done to you; but: “Do to others what you want us to do to you. He does not recommend the forgiveness of insults, the memory of benefactions, friendship, and humility. His disciples were a people of brothers. The happiest and most respectable time ever on the earth was when one followed his laws”[7].

It is evident that Voltaire wanted to show the greatness of Confucius’s thought by contrasting with the fanaticism and idolatry of the Pope who reigned in Europe.

Image result for confucius

According to Voltaire, Confucius has all the honors, not the divine honors, that no man owes, but those who deserve a man who has given by the Divinity the healthiest ideas that can form the human mind.

“This is why, writes Voltaire, the P. le Comte and other missionaries write, that the Chinese have known the true God, when the other people were idolaters, and sacrificed to him in the oldest temple of the universe “[8].

Voltaire has mentioned an author that has written a work, New Memory on the State of China, (Nouveaux mémoire sur l’état de la Chine), published in 1697, where he wrote that China has kept over two thousand years the knowledge of the true God and practiced the maxims of the purest of the morals, while Europe and almost all the rest of the world was in error and in corruption. These memoirs were condemned by the court of Rome in 1702.

One thing that has fascinated Voltaire about religion in China is the fact that this religion does not admit eternal punishment and rewards. It is Voltaire that he writes: “It is true that their religion does not admit of eternal punishment and rewards; and that is what shows how old this religion is. The Pentateuch does not speak of the other life in his laws: the Sadducees among the Jews never believed it”[9]. It should be emphasized that in the Introduction of this work, Voltaire had highlighted all aspects of religion in China and its beneficial effects in social life. “It is true that, he wrote in the Introduction, the laws of China do not speak of penalties and rewards after death; they did not want to affirm what they did not know. This difference between them and all the great civilized peoples is very surprising. The doctrine of hell was useful, and the government of the Chinese never admitted it. They just exhorted men to reverence heaven and to be fair”[10].

Voltaire is very critical of the idea that Chinese scholars do not have a distinct idea of ​​an immaterial God, but according to him, it is unfair to infer that they are atheists. To support this idea he quotes Archbishop Navarrete, who has said that, according to all the interpreters of the sacred books of China, the soul is an airy, igneous part which, by separating from the body, meets at the substance of the sky. But this feeling is the same as that of the Stoics. According to Voltaire, all this is in the sixth book of the Eneide of Virgil, and the Manual of Epictetus, and these works are not infected with atheism. All the early fathers of the Church thought so.

“We have slandered the Chinese only because their metaphysics are not ours; we should have admired in them two merits which condemn both the superstitions of the pagans and the morals of the Christians. Never did the religion of the scholars be dishonored by fables, nor defiled by quarrels and civil wars”[11].

By criticizing prejudices and misunderstandings about religion and rites in China, we have given a very important methodical principle. We must not judge the uses of others by ours, because we carry at the end of the world the prejudices of our contentious spirit.

Justice, morality, and adoration for the heaven and the father of the family, such are the moral foundations of China. This is why the king is considered the father of the empire, and the mandarins as the fathers of the cities and provinces (it meant that everyone was based on the idea of ​​paternal authority). We must add the role of science, and especially of astronomy, which explains its very exact chronology. The virtues and science is seen, for example at the Emperor Hiao. That’s why his name is still venerated in China, as in Europe that of Titus, Trajan, and Antonine.

“If, wrote Voltaire for emperor, for his time, he was a clever mathematician that alone shows that he was born in a nation already very civilized. We do not see that the old chiefs of German or Gaulle towns had reformed astronomy: Clovis had no observatory”[12].

It is the perfect example of the idea of ​​the enlightened king that was dreamed by the Enlightenment philosophers.

Voltaire’s sympathy goes to the newspaper of the empire. Voltaire’s sympathy for the annals of the empire has been seen in the Introduction. In the newspaper of the empire we find the daily life of the Chinese empire.

“The Journal of the Chinese Empire, writes him, is the most authentic and useful journal in the world, since it contains the details of all the public needs, resources, and interests of all the orders of the State”[13].

Descriptions of the forces of the state, cities, the army, and the fortifications prove the greatness of China. Even the great wall is the highest monument compared to the pyramids of Egypt, by its utility as by its immensity. Voltaire found in the third book of Confucius, a peculiarity that shows how much the use of armed carts is old. In his day, the vice-king, or governors of the provinces, were obliged to furnish the head of state, or emperor, a thousand chariots of war with four horses in front. Homer, who flourished long before the Chinese philosopher, never speaks of anything but of two or three horse-drawn chariots. In addition, China has almost all the fruits transplanted in our Europe, and many others we miss. The precious insect that produces the self is native to China, and these fabrics were so rare, even in the time of Justinian, that the self was sold in Europe at the weight of gold. The fine, bright white paper was made by the Chinese from time immemorial. It was made with nets of boiled bamboo wood. The printing press was invented by the Chinese at the same time. We know that this printing works is an engraving on wooden planks, such that Gutenberg practiced it first in Mainz in the 15th century. They cultivated chemistry; they invented powder; but they used it only in festivals, in the art of fireworks, where they surpassed other nations. These are some Chinese inventions.

But, according to Voltaire, what they know best, most cultivated, and most perfected is morality and laws. Respect for children for their fathers is the foundation of the Chinese government. This is why

“The fundamental law being that the empire is a family, we have looked more than elsewhere, the public good as the first duty. From this comes the constant attention of the emperor and the courts to repair the highways, to join the rivers, to dig canals, to favor the cultivation of lands and manufactures”[14].

In emphasizing the public good, Voltaire aimed at European despotism, in general, and French despotism, in particular, where the public good was in the service of the prince’s caprice. Did the Chinese people have vices? Yes, tell us him. All the vices exist in China as elsewhere, but certainly more repressed by the brake of the laws, because the laws are always uniform. Voltaire mentions a story of an author of Memoirs of Admiral Anson, that a little people in Canton deceived the English,

“but, writes Voltaire, must one judge of the government of a great nation by the customs of the populace of borders? And what would the Chinese have said about us if they had been shipwrecked on our seacoasts at a time when the laws of the nations of Europe confiscated the shipwrecked effects, and that custom allowed the owners to be slaughtered?”[15].

There is a very close link between virtues, morals, and laws. Voltaire, as a son of the time of Illuminist, sees the law as a factor that influences the cohesion of the society. The laws represent the spirit of the people, and they should not shock society. At the same time, the law must not be based solely on the logic of punishment, but must contribute to the strengthening of virtue. By glorifying the legal reality of China, he wants to criticize the despotism that reigned in many States in Europe.

“In other countries laws punish crime; to China they do more, they reward virtue. The sound of a generous and rare action spreads in a province; the Mandarin is obliged to inform the Emperor of it; and the emperor sends a mark of honor to the one who has deserved it so well”[16].

We have to reflect on these ideas of such a great cosmopolitan philosopher in our time when intolerance and fanatic movements threaten the coexistence of the peoples in many regions of the world.

 

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Prof. Dr. Gjergj Sinani, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Philosophy, University of Tirana, Tirana – Albania

Notes

[1] Voltaire, Essai sur les mœurs, T.I, Classiques Garnier, Paris, 1990, p. 66-67.

[2] Voltaire, Essai sur les mœurs, T.I, p. 67.

[3] Voltaire, Essai sur les mœurs, T.I, p. 67.

[4] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 208.

[5] Voltaire, idem, p. 69.

[6] Voltaire, idem, p. 69.

[7] Voltaire, idem, p. 220.

[8] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 220.

[9] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 221.

[10] Voltaire, idem, T.I,  p. 71.

[11] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 222.

[12] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 206.

[13] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 210.

[14] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 216.

[15] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 217.

[16] Voltaire, idem, T.I, p. 217.

The so-called “Balochistan Liberation Army” (BLA) issued a video ultimatum over the weekend calling on China to cancel the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) or face the consequences of more terrorist attacks against its interests in the Pakistani province that pivotally hosts the mega-project’s terminal port of Gwadar.

Although being a regional separatist group and not a religiously fundamentalist one like the sort that used to plague Pakistan, the BLA is no less vicious. It catapulted to international notoriety last November when it attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi, and again in April this year by killing over a dozen Pakistani servicemen traveling by bus along the Makran Coastal Highway.

Earlier this month, the terrorist group attempted to storm the five-star Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar and later boasted that its intent was to kill as many Chinese civilians as possible.

The BLA began its campaign of terrorism at the beginning of the century, having grown out of other regional separatist groups that had been active in the region for decades prior, but it coincidentally picked up its activities over the past year after making the CPEC its main target.

The Pakistani authorities have alleged that the BLA receives foreign support for its terrorist activities, pointing to the confession of convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav in April 2017 following his capture the year before.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani (C), Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi  (R) and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) attend the signing ceremony of the MoU on anti-terrorism in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 15, 2018. /VCG Photo 

India officially denies its involvement in supporting the BLA and other terrorist groups in Balochistan, though that hasn’t stopped Pakistan from sharing the plethora of evidence that it claims to have about this with the United Nations in order to expose what it describes as the “Hybrid War” on the CPEC being waged by its regional rival.

Whatever the truth may be, there’s no denying that the BLA understands the grand strategic importance of its home region in the larger geopolitical paradigm. The CPEC has enabled Pakistan to become the Zipper of Eurasia by connecting different countries and regional blocs together, especially through its prospective CPEC+ branch corridors that could one day reach Central Asia, the Mideast, Africa, and beyond.

This will in turn increase contact between each region’s civilizations because they’ll all end up using these game-changing trade corridors to one extent or another, which accordingly makes Pakistan the Convergence of Civilizations.

Altogether, Pakistan’s rising multi-functional geo-strategic role as a result of the CPEC makes it the 21st century’s global pivot state, with its province of Balochistan being the fulcrum upon which these ambitious plans depend.

While media reports and the recent uptick in attacks might make it seem like Balochistan is becoming destabilized, the opposite is true because the region has never been more stable before in history. Chinese investments in the physical and social domains are liberating the locals from the feudalistic system that they’ve been trapped in for centuries, revolutionizing their standard of living and giving them the promise of a better future that they otherwise could never have dreamed.

A lot of work still remains to be done because Balochistan’s modernization is only beginning, but China and Pakistan both plan to have the region figure prominently in the Silk Road Century and are therefore prioritizing its comprehensive development to make up for decades of neglect.

CGTN Photo

That said, some feudal lords and their cohorts have a stake in maintaining the old system and are therefore resorting to terrorism in a desperate bid to cling onto their fading power.

The CPEC will not be thwarted by terrorist threats and to the contrary such cowardly efforts will only strengthen the determination of the Chinese and Pakistani people to see this mega-project succeed.

The authorities are currently in the process of fencing off the porous Afghan and Iranian borders in order to contain regional terrorist threats, and the Pakistan Army recently announced that it’ll deploy another division to ensure CPEC’s security.

In addition, the Baloch people always condemn the terrorist attacks committed in their name by fringe feudalistic elements and are genuinely grateful to the CPEC for changing their lives for the better.

Considering these hard and soft security factors that collectively work out to the megaproject’s favor, there’s no realistic chance that the CPEC will be stopped by the BLA or any other terrorist group, and it’s only a matter of time before Balochistan is internationally regarded as one of the regions that benefited the most from the Belt and Road Initiative’s development plans.

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This article was originally published on CGTN.

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

Featured image is from CGTN

A glimpse of the plastic arts in Iraq

The contemporary Iraqi plastic art is considered to be the legitimate heir of the ancient Iraqi civilizations of Sumer and Babylon. Relics have beem found indicating that the Iraqi craftsman is the first artist in the world. He is the one who creates and produces such beautiful household pottery pieces for functional purposes for eating, drinking and other daily uses.

The Baghdad School of Art of Illustration was founded by Iraqi artist Yahya bin Mahmoud bin Yahya bin Abi al-Hassan al-Wasiti who laid down its pillars. Al-Wasiti lived in the seventh Hijri century and is considered to be at the forefront of Arab and Islamic creativity scene where the Islamic art of illustration could be straightened and become competitive. Then this School spread from Mesopotamia to all other Islamic countries. Al-Wasiti inspired others with his miniature manuscripts on which he painted topics and narrative facts from the collections of al-Hariri which were written by Abu Muhammad al-Qasim bin Ali bin Othman al-Basri, famous as “al-Hariri”.

These collections are considered to be among the Arabic literary masterpieces due to their richness of material, accuracy of observation and unique imagination. Artist al-Wasiti completed illustrating and scripting these collections in 634 A.H./1237 A.D., and they are now treasured at several international museums and libraries. These painted collections were quite famous. Rulers and affluent folks of the time were jostling for acquiring them due to their popularity and beautiful aesthetic illustration reflected by al-Hariri as a form of literary art, attracting artist al-Wasiti who was inspired by them, with a colored illustration emerging into the light during the first half of the thirteenth century A.D. They represented the peak of what the Iraqi School had reached in the art of painting and coloring.

The continuous colonial darkness on Iraq had shed its dark obscure shadow on the beautiful colored image of this early and essential artistic School. Because of the heavy burden of this long darkness and the negative effects it caused on the Iraqi social reality in general, the Iraqi art had also remained as a general concept in a deep stupor. It had to get a quick awakening, a renewed revival and a remarkably sustained activity so it could join the international art vanguard.

With the beginning of the 20th century, there was an emergence of a new dawn and the penumbra of lights that shattered the darkness of the dusk. Thus did the sun of the art of illustration in Iraq shone again to formulate from its threads a renaissance of contemporary art ushered by an educated elite of hobbyist painters from among military officers who had learned illustration at their military Schools where painting formed a decorative aspect of their personal and private lives.

Abdul-Qadir al-Rassam, who was born in Baghdad in 1882 A.D., became the first eminent painters, the most brilliant in style and the most productive and outgiving among all others. He even was the most clingy painter devoted to the life and reality of the countryside and to the Baghdadi nature. He left a large collection of artistic oil paintings of different sizes which he had done between Istanbul, Turkey, when he was then an officer of the Ottoman army, and Baghdad.

Painting by Abdul-Qadir al-Rassam depicting a scene in Southern Iraq

Artist Abdul-Qadir al-Rassam continued his productive artistic career despite his difficult economic and health conditions until his death in 1952 after an age of more than 90 years, as well as other artists such as Assim Hafidh, Saleem Ali, father of the immortalized sculptor Jawad Saleem, Othman Beg, Natiq Beg, Hassan Sami and Mohammed Salih Zaki, the first to publish brochures on the art of drawing art in schools.

Those elite painters were called “the early” or the pioneers, and they were able to set the foundation block for the rules of the art of drawing in its proper academic form, especially after the Iraqi government had been established during the monarchy period when they left their military jobs to be completely devoted to teaching the art of illustration at private and official schools in Baghdad.

Thus did the Iraqi art of illustration grow day after day and year after another, and the official art scholarships started to send students abroad. Akram Shoukri was the first scholarship student sent in 1930 to London followed by artist Faiq (Faeq) Hassan who traveled to Paris in 1935. Then artist Jawad ←Saleem was sent to Paris in 1938 then to Rome in 1939 as well as artists Atta Sabri and Hafiz al-Durubi and others.

The year 1932 witnessed the holding of the first Iraqi plastic art gallery dubbed “The Industrial-Agricultural Gallery”, while in 1939, the scholarship envoys returned. The establishment of the drawing department at the Institute of Fine Arts then took place. Thereafter, the first art staff graduated, undertaking the lead of the plastic movement through art groups and joint galleries. Thus did artistic and creative mobility begin crawling little by little. So, in 1941, the “Friends of the Art Society” became the first art association in Iraq. It was followed in 1950 by a pioneer group led by artist Faiq Hassan, then in 1951, the “Modern Art Group” was led by artist Jawad Saleem. The Iraqi Impressionist Group was launched in 1953 from the atelier of artist Hafiz al-Durubi followed by the Contemporary Art Group which was founded by some graduates of the Fine Arts Institute.

In 1956, the Iraqi Artists Society was formed to incorporate art groups with other elite artists and began its activity in the same year when it announced the organizing of a series of art galleries, the holding of lectures and the showing of films under the title “Iraqi Art Festival.”

Thus, contemporary Iraqi art has taken its proper place on the cultural, political and even social scenes as well as its own trend towards contemporary approaches to express the humanitarian values and concepts just as the intellectual visions and technical methodologies have varied so that each Iraqi artist now has his own identity and imprint that distinguishes him from others in concept, color and line.

Because of this remarkable development and great advanced transformation the geographic and creative scope of which had expanded, there had to be a museum to accommodate this huge quantity and quality of experiences and outstanding art achievements to be documented and preserved.

Gulbenkian Hall

So was the Gulbenkian Hall in Bab al-Sharqi area in the heart of the capital, Baghdad, which was later renamed “the National Museum of Modern Art”, officially inaugurated in 1962 on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the July 14 Revolution to house the Iraqi Gallery.

This museum has had an active and significant role to play later in the march of the Iraqi plastic movement through sponsoring personal galleries, collective festivals, evenings, seminars specialized in art and other cultural activities as well as accommodation in storing thousands of different illustrated artworks (museum work) of all its kinds, such as oil and water paintings, ink sketches, graphic designs of different techniques, Arabic calligraphy, sculpture of all materials, plus ceramics.

It became mandatory to establish a museum of a larger and more advanced area suitable for the Iraqi plastic art achievements, one which accommodates all this qualitative sum of artworks according to international storage organization system and gallery halls qualified to receive such creativities.

The beginning of the Museum’s establishment

Before the July 14, 1958 Revolution, the Iraqi Museum of Antiquities played an important role in encouraging the art movement in Iraq. This Museum used to express its opinion on international art galleries after artist Akram Shukri had settled in as the director of the laboratory upon his return from his study scholarship in London.

Thus did he undertake to organize a collection of artworks in order to participate in the 1948 Cairo Gallery and in another UNESCO Gallery held in Beirut and in others.

After the July 14, 1958 Revolution, urgency necessitated the emergence for the need to accommodate the rise and growth of the art movement in the country, hence concepts and aspirations ended up in projects dictated by the circumstances of that period.

Thus did the National Museum of Modern Art come to be as a cornerstone for encouraging and sponsoring the Iraqi arts. As for this Museum, it was dubbed “Gulbenkian” after Armenian citizen Calouste Gulbenkian who had made a donation to build this Museum in cooperation with the State.

Actually, in early 1959, the Municipality started constructing a building in the heart of Baghdad City in Bab al-Sharqi area, and when this building was completed in late 1961, it later became to be known as the Art Center as it was destined to be. Deliberations went on between the then General Directorate of Antiquities and the Ministry of Guidance to take over the plastic antiquities housed in the Museum of Modern Art when the latter was abolished by the said Ministry that took over the responsibility of displaying them at a new museum.

Thus, the delivery procedures commenced within a short period of time, and the museum building was officially inaugurated in July 1962, starting with the opening of the Iraqi Art Gallery held on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the July 14 Revolution.

It must be mentioned that the year 1960 witnessed the establishment of the first nucleus of the National Museum of Modern Art by the Directorate of Art Galleries in the Ministry of Guidance at the initiative of pioneer artist Nouri al-Rawi who convinced the Minister to purchase the first painting collection of the pioneer artists, including those of Jawad Saleem, Suad Seleem, Naziha Seleem, Atta Sabri, Faiq Hassan, Issa Hana, Shakir Hassan Al Sa’eed, Isma`eel al-Shaikhli and others.

Al-Rawi kept exerting all his personal efforts to obtain an international scholarship. After his correspondence, he earned a scholarship from the Gulbenkian International Foundation in Lisbon, the Portugal, to build the National Gulbenkian Museum of Modern Art to be opened later and be the museum’s first director.

The National Gulbenkian Museum of Modern Art is considered to be a cultural art monument illuminating the real face of the plastic art movement in Iraq, rather, a streaming center for all plastic art connoisseurs. It is the most attended and active place in presenting plastic experiences and researches and even submitting art data which some art groups have now adopted.

This Museum includes four halls, the largest is set aside for the Museum of Permanent Iraqi Art which includes selected samples of Iraqi artists’ works in the plastic arts fields. It was not limited to only holding plastic galleries; rather, it went beyond that to also maintain artworks, prepare weekly evenings and cultural seminars, activities that went on throughout the 1970 decade.

In 1971, al-Rawi suggested the establishing of the “Plastic Archive” to document all what is published in the press such as follow-ups, press releases, critique articles and others that relate to the plastic art. Thus, lighting devices were introduced and a store was allocated for artworks which had been acquired by the State from artists. International galleries started to exchange with Iraq through managing the Museum directly through support from the Ministry of Culture and Arts as well as the organizing of weeks and days for the Iraqi art pioneers, inviting Arab and foreign artists to hold their own galleries there.

The result, therefore, was this Museum becoming active and undertaking later on a significant role in the march of the Iraqi plastic movement through receiving personal galleries, public festivals, evenings, seminars specialized in art and other activities. Add to this its accommodation of storing thousands of different varied Museum artworks. It was, hence, necessary to establish a Museum with a larger area and more developed facilities to accommodate the Iraqi Plastic Art Achievements and all this qualitative storage of artworks according to an international standard of storage organization and gallery halls eligible to receive such creativities.

A sculpture by Muhammed Ghani Hikmat depicting a scene from the Arabian Nights. The Tigris River appears in this photo.

The Art Center Opens

There it was, the opening of the first contemporary plastic monument for the Iraqi art, actually the most important art monument in the Middle East area, dubbed in 1986 “Saddam Arts Center” at Haifa Street equipped with all important and modern requirements for success and for rehabilitating all administrative and art sections according to the advanced and modern requirements, such as archiving and documenting.

This section includes all detailed information and documentation about the march of art and artists one by one since the beginning of the 20th century, a library of hundreds of titles and art references in Arabic, English and some other languages, an audio-visual section, an artworks’ maintenance section and spacious halls for lectures and seminars. It also allocates full floors of selected groups of these collections. Two floors were allocated for the experiments of Iraqi artists from different generations that followed the pioneers generation while one floor was allocated for artists’ works, the early ones first then beyond that. That floor was given the name “The Pioneers Museum”. Another separate floor was divided into two sections: one allocated for graphic arts and the other for Arabic calligraphy and decoration. There are other floors which include separate wings for some prominent artists such as sculptor Mohammed Ghani Hikmat who donated all his artworks to the Art Center. As for the ground floor, it was allocated for the galleries and continuous periodic festivals or what is called Roving Galleries.

The coordination of art display process has been characterized by the floors’ wide areas where there are high ceiling walls, appropriate floors, natural and electrical lighting, rolling iron slides for stored paintings, central air conditioning that all suit the safety of artworks and materials plus other services and requirements that are complementary for the success and sustainability of the Museum’s message.

This Center has remained an outstanding and distinctive lighthouse in its continuous outgiving and enriching interaction with the cultural and art scenes inside and outside Iraq over the past period.

My Personal Testimony: Before and after the destruction of this Museum

Prior to the zero hour announcing the invasion of Iraq in 2003, most Iraqi official and semi-official offices as well as public organizations had undertaken preventive precautionary measures to preserve their buildings, movable and immovable funds, etc.

Thus, the Art Center used to contain thousands of art museum works for rare experiments, varying from oil and graphic paintings to water sketches, Arabic calligraphy paintings and decorations, sculptures of all materials and ceramics, all by prominent art figures from the first generation of Iraqi artists up to the beginning of the invasion.

American tanks roll on a main Baghdad street in April 2003

Due to the large number of artworks that exceeded eight thousand items of various sizes and were of extreme art significance, some of them were displayed on an area covering the center’s entire fifth floor. Some were stored in the basement. There was no safe place to preserve them except the building’s huge basement which was tightly controlled from all directions. So it was very difficult, rather impossible, to move this huge quantity of artworks to places outside the Museum’s building. We also could not get many of them out of their frames because they were frail and damaged due to being old and exposed to complete or partial damages. Even if we had moved them distantly elsewhere, they would have been stolen, whereas all official offices and alternative sites had been looted and brutally devastated.

What was important is that the then director of the Fine Arts section, artist Mukhalad al-Mukhtar, assigned me to form a committee of the office’s employees and started issuing directives to first preserve the artworks of the pioneers, to wrap them with nylon and ropes, then to take them down to the corners of the vast and safe basement.

An American tank turned this museum into a parking space for it… How convenient!

We actually undertook quick measures whereby large numbers of artworks were preserved and the basement’s doors were well controlled only so that many other artworks were to be displayed on the walls of the center which became a storage area containing thousands of important artworks.

There were security guards from the army and police as well as private groups that spread throughout Baghdad areas, including the geographical area where the Museum has always been located on Haifa Street. There were round-the-clock employee sentry duties at night and during daytime despite the exit of people out of Baghdad who feared the military operations that began to escalate day after day. By then, Baghdad became a ghost city filled with fears, panic and an unknown future. A harbinger of pessimism began crawling throughout the country, and people began to realize our dire situation as being a reality from which there was no way out. We were searching for a bit of food to fight our hunger, and our tired bodies did not taste sleep or rest. All types of public transportation disappeared from the streets. Shops and restaurants were closed, and nobody was there in the city other than the security and military units that kept patrolling the city here and there with signs of apprehension on their faces especially after the U.S. forces had overrun Baghdad’s International Airport and violent armed clashes erupted in its vicinity.

We, employees inside this Museum, had to exchange duties to check on what was left of our families, to make sure they were safe, and to bring some food.

Two days before the fall of the regime, I went to check on my family on foot all the way from Haifa Street to the New Baghdad area where I lived hoping to return the next morning after getting some food for my colleagues.

But we were taken by surprise due to the chaos caused by thieves and the elements of vandalism that started stealing whatever weighed less but cost a lot. All our institutional and official facilities, offices, schools, universities, hospitals and banks are destroyed and burnt and .. .. and.., Yet despite the contingency plans and strict arbitrations, there was a rapid and unexpected dissolution the like of which we never expected.

The barbaric invasion scene kept repeating itself time and over again in Baghdad. The scene we sensed was one of people who had harbored all hatred and hostility towards humanity, civilization and culture. People were killed without reasons, and there were burning and looting everywhere. This went on till the destruction and vandalism had taken their toll on this Art Center: Its huge library, historical archives and other administrative properties were all burnt.

American soldiers looked on as they witnessed the looting…

Thus did darkness cast its shadow on Iraq, taking us back to the dark ages, just as then U.S. Secretary of State, the cursed Albright, wanted and desired even before the invasion had taken place. It was all pre-meditated.

Anyway, we were stranded, the chaos intensified and the revenge emerged in the form of killing, looting and robbing. I was delayed from going there for a few days after Baghdad had been completely destroyed and everything was burnt. I finally reached the Museum, and what a horrible scene it was! I could not accept and digest the extent of the calamity and will never be able to do that because I did not imagine that in such an insane tide, all this huge Iraqi heritage which impressed the whole world could thus be dealt with. It was all destroyed by those who brag about civilization and human rights, meaning apparently to only their civilization and rights and not to those of others…

Everything came to an end in the form of torn paintings, frames stripped of stolen paintings, Museum documents and identification cards, all lost from each Museum’s work by name, material, date, subject, year, etc. We had worked for many years to archive, tabulate and store items in special CDs, but now all was lost…

Moreover, there was burning of all archive files, including everything about the march of the plastic movement in Iraq according to our indexed and quite accurate tabulation. Our library stood out in its essential Arab and international sources and references; it, too, was totally and completely burnt…

The share of the destruction of Museum artworks is the loss of more than eight thousand artworks to the fire, according to the basic administrative records which were also lost to organized theft and other barbaric actions. Artworks were ripped. A large number of them were intentionally damaged, and the serious damages reached 100%, rendering these artworks out of the scope of art presentation. Most, if not all, do not qualify for any maintenance or preventive art treatment of any sort.

What was left from the rest of the Museum’s artworks did not exceed one thousand artworks which had been moved to the building of the Iraqi Museum of Antiquities for the purpose of securing and preserving them temporarily until the chaotic situation could settle down. This step was provided with special protective measures.

Despite our communication with the American forces, which were present there and then, to provide necessary protection for what was left at the building of our Art Museum, those American forces refused to oblige. The Rasheed Bank, which faced our Museum, was with protection backed by one armored vehicle! Apparently, to those Americans, money came first…

Once the tragically chaotic situation had settled down, we gradually were able to continue our official job at the Directorate of Folk Heritage located in the Iskan area, and we retrieved our preserved Museum artworks to store them in a narrow room space…

Despite the very painful circumstance that had taken place and the tragedy of the humanitarian and cultural proportions which had afflicted this huge monumental Museum, we did not stand idly by but knuckled down, and our sincere and confident efforts had resumed carefully again to rehabilitate and maintain the Museum in an attempt to bring back a sort of normalcy. According to the available possibilities to restore the glitter, splendor and luster to our educational mission, we left scattered artworks on the ground in a very deplorable condition. Those had been collected by volunteers, and some of them were completely damaged or partially torn.

The facts were later revealed that most artworks which had been stolen from the Museum by thieves as well as painting dealers who knew their real material value, many of those dealers came back to me to offer to sell the artworks which they had stolen in order to return them to the Museum because they had “bought them on the market”, but I refused because I was not authorized to negotiate with them, so I invited them to directly hand the artworks in their possession over to the Ministry of Culture, perhaps the said Ministry would buy those artworks from them. But the Ministry and its officials were also busy with financial corruption, and the outcome was those artworks were smuggled out of Iraq to be sold for high prices; this did the curtain finally fell on them. Although we tried to reach and communicate with the UNESCO, the INTERPOL and art gallery halls inside and outside Iraq, there was no answer to our calls or interest to hear us…

Following the destruction of the Museum

We, the elite folks, had to initiate specialists in the plastic art to try to trace the Museum’s artworks which had been stolen during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, so a specialized art committee was formed for the purpose of retrieving what could be retrieved of those lost artworks. This committee was headed by late sculptor Mohamed Ghani Hikmat and the membership of each of the following gentlemen: Ali al-Dulaimi, Taha Waheib, Najim al-Qaisi and Salah Abbas. Indeed, a large collection of them could successfully be retrieved. Other Museum artworks were handed over to us by artists and other citizens. In turn, we presented them with certificates of appreciation for their honorable patriotic gesture. Later, we held several galleries for these artworks after rehabilitating them. The most recent was a gallery for rehabilitated damaged frames of a collection of paintings. This gallery became possible due to a grant from the British Embassy in Baghdad in cooperation with the Kahramana Art Society.

All this could have been prevented…

An inclusive media campaign was launched inviting all those who retained in their possessions artworks to return the latter to this Museum or to provide us with information to their whereabouts. Indeed, these sincerely patriotic calls resulted in a good response by some honest citizens and cultural institutions and authorities inside Iraq. Some lost artworks were recovered and transferred to the maintenance section for repair and treatment from the damage thereto, though to a modest extent, to at least stop any further damage to them. Special galleries for the restored artworks were organized after appropriately preparing the halls of the art galleries to reactivate the role and mission of this Museum and to continue documenting the movement and march of plastic arts in Iraq.

No words can describe this catastrophe…

We have an art maintenance section affiliated with the Museum the role of which is to restore and maintain various artworks in academic ways in order to retain the sustainability of artworks for display in a nice way despite this section’s lack of many advanced devices and raw materials and to the fact that it is not being supported by courses on specialized training outside the country.

This Museum presently contains two gallery halls, the first is the Pioneers Hall on the first floor of the building housing the Ministry of Culture, whereas the other is on the same floor; it is the Modernity Hall.

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Ali I. al-Dulaimi is Director of the Iraqi National Museum of Modern Art.

All images in this article are from the author

The British-based Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media recently revealed an internal engineering assessment by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that undermines claims justifying U.S. attacks on Syria.

Last year, many claimed that the Syrian government had launched a chemical weapons attack on Douma on April 7. This was used to justify strikes on Syrian government targets on April 14. The British Guardian claimed: “Syria: U.S., U.K. and France launch strikes in response to chemical attack.” NPR headlined a story: “U.S., Allies Hit 3 Syrian Sites Linked To Chemical Weapons Program.”

Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology, and international security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provided the Institute for Public Accuracy with his initial assessment of the newly revealed OPCW document:

“The OPCW engineering assessment unambiguously describes evidence collected by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) that indicates two analyzed chlorine cylinder attacks were staged in April 2018 in Douma. The holes in the reinforced concrete roofs that were supposedly produced by high-speed impacts (impact at speeds of perhaps 100 m/s or more, 250 mph) of industrial chlorine canisters dropped from helicopters were instead created by earlier explosions of either artillery rockets or mortar shells. In one event a chlorine canister that was damaged on another occasion was placed on the roof with its head inserted into an existing crater hole, and in the other case a damaged chlorine cylinder was placed on a bed supposedly after it penetrated the building roof and bounced from its original trajectory into a bed. In both cases the damage to the chlorine cylinders was incompatible with the damage to the surroundings that was allegedly caused by the cylinder impacts.

“As such, 35 deaths that were originally attributed to these staged chlorine events cannot be explained and it cannot be ruled out that these people were murdered as part of the staging effort.

“The evidence provided in the OPCW report is quite clear. For example, rebar in the cement roof slabs was splayed out from the forces of an intense supersonic shockwave that produced the holes. The only source of such a violently impulsive force in this environment would be that of the shockwave from the forward end of an explosive warhead that impacted and detonated on the roof. The forward end of the explosive charge in the warhead would have been touching or nearly-touching the roof surface when it detonated. Under these conditions the near-in shockwave generated from the forward end of the cylinder shaped explosive produces a shockwave that is traveling at a very high Mach number. Such a shockwave creates a reflected shock that is tremendously hotter and more intense than the incident shock due to the extreme compression of the supersonic incident shock as it violently decelerates during its encounter with a rigid surface.

“The net result of the shock interactions is that the incident and tremendously amplified reflected shocks coalesce together to produce an extremely intense impulse at the surface of the concrete slab. This impulse is so intense that it might well cut through rebar and readily splay the rebar in the forward direction in a geometry like that of the petals of a flower pointing downward.

“This is what is described in the report.

“I will have a much more detailed summary of the engineering report later this week. For now, it suffices to say that the UN OPCW engineering report is completely different from the UN OPCW report on Khan Sheikhoun, which is distinguished by numerous claims about explosive effects that could only have been made by technically illiterate individuals. In very sharp contrast, the voices that come through the engineering report are those of highly knowledgeable and sophisticated experts.

“A second issue that is raised by the character of the OPCW engineering report on Douma is that it is entirely unmentioned in the report that went to the UN Security Council. This omission is very serious, as the findings of that report are critical to the process of determining attribution. There is absolutely no reason to justify the omission of the engineering report in the OPCW account to the UN Security Council as its policy implications are of extreme importance.”

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The Trump administration’s overhyped claims of an increased Iranian threat went over like a lead balloon with allied officials this week:

A NATO military intelligence official who was briefed on Pompeo’s claims about increased Iranian aggression in the Middle East said the substance of the intelligence that the Americans briefed was utterly unconvincing — even insulting [bold mine-DL].

“Do they think that we are stupid?” asked the NATO official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Pompeo has a record of making false and exaggerated claims about Iran and its involvement in other conflicts, especially in Yemen, so he probably didn’t have much credibility among allies going into this. It isn’t surprising that his presentation of the latest administration spin didn’t go over well. Our treaty allies don’t share the administration’s Iran obsession and don’t want to be drawn in to a new conflict, so to convince them the evidence of new and unusual Iranian behavior would have to be very strong. At the same time, the Secretary of State has been so used to getting away with making outrageous false statements to Congress and the public for more than a year that he probably didn’t expect to encounter so much skepticism when he tried to pass off weak evidence as if it were solid proof of increased threats.

The information Pompeo provided predictably didn’t back up the administration’s alarmist statements and provocative behavior:

The NATO military intelligence official said Pompeo’s clumsy attempt to gin up support for the U.S.’s dealings with Iran fell on deaf ears.

“[The briefing] was a dog’s breakfast of things that happen every day, rumors, poorly-sourced things we suspect are [planted information], and of course, some pictures of boats that the Iranians have put some missiles on,” he said, referencing the photograph of an Iranian missile on a small boat in the Persian Gulf that was recently declassified, according to the New York Times, by U.S. intelligence agents who wanted to prove that Iran is indeed a threat. “Iranians have been putting missiles on boats in the Gulf since the 1980s. That’s what you do when you don’t have proper blue water navy.”

In short, there was no good reason for the panicked administration reaction this month, and it has shown how eager some administration officials are to seize on absolutely anything as an excuse to move towards conflict with Iran. The Trump administration’s response over the last two weeks has been a bit like the cartoon where the giant elephant shrieks and jumps up on a chair when it spots a mouse on the floor. That doesn’t bode well for how the administration will respond to an accidental collision or clash. This is why the U.S. and Iran should maintain regular lines of communication to avert potential misunderstandings and to make sure that our governments can calm things down before they get out of control.

Pompeo had no better luck during his recent trip to Iraq:

When asked if Pompeo and his staff accepted this analysis, the Iraqi official laughed.

“You Americans aren’t always good listeners in the Middle East,” he said. “We are telling them that the Iranians weren’t behaving unusually and they ignored us.”

The Trump administration has pursued a policy of relentless hostility towards Iran, and then they misread normal Iranian actions as a new threat, blew that threat out of proportion, and then massively overreacted.

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It is still uncertain whether the United States will go to war with Iran or not, according to the  Virginia State Senator Richard Hayden Black. 

According to Senator Richard Hayden Black, the world would be much safer if the U.S. President Donald Trump replaced his national security adviser John Bolton and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The senator affirmed that Bolton is extremely dangerous because President Trump does not exercise proper control over military matters. He referred to the fact that Bolton immediately countermanded President Trump’s order to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria.

Sen. Black’s remarks came during an interview with the Syria Times e-newspaper over US-Iran tensions and the US military presence in Syria.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Syria Times: Is the U.S. going to war with Iran?

Sen. Black: This is uncertain.  President Trump and the Saudis say no, but there are still provocative actions being taken to trigger a conflict.  For instance, some American oil contractors have been evacuated from Iraq without permission from the Iraqi government.  Also, U.S. diplomatic staff were removed from Iraq.  The U.S. did move B-52 heavy bombers into position, although all other military movements appear to have been routine.

Saudi Arabia, which has invaded Yemen in a criminal war of aggression, is complaining that the Houthis are fighting back against their invasion by attacking an oil pipeline with drones.

All of Iran’s military movements were designed to defend against an American attack.  There is absolutely no chance that Iran will take aggressive action against the U.S., although the western media say that certain unspecified “intelligence” says they are being aggressive.  Since Mossad, the Saudis and the U.A.E. have long wanted to have America attack Iran, intelligence reports from those sources lack all credibility.

ST: Why does the U.S. enhance its military presence in the Arabian Gulf?

Sen. Black: John Bolton was a draft dodger in Vietnam.  He favors wars so long as he does not risk harm to himself.  He is a coward, who sends other men to fight wars he ran away from himself.

Bolton caused a complete debacle when he tried to stage a coup against Venezuela. He intended to install Juan Guaidó as a CIA-installed puppet president, but the people did not support Guaidó.  He had almost no real backing from the people of Venezuela.  John Bolton made the U.S. look foolish but within the same week, he was trying to start a new war with Iran.  He just wants to start a war against someone—anyone.

Now, he is attempting to raise tensions in order to trigger a war with Iran.  He knows that provocative actions against Iran might trigger a war, which would bring him fame and fortune.  The man has no moral principles.  John Bolton is a reckless fool; he is anxious to shed the blood of innocent men, women and children.

ST: Do you think Mr. Donald Trump will keep some of US troops in Syria after the liberation of Idlib by Syrian army and allies?

Sen. Black: I am pleased that Syria is finally moving against the terrorists in Idlib.  Right now, the terrorists do not seem to put up strong resistance, but that could change.  I believe that Idlib will be liberated a section at a time.

President Trump ordered an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, but John Bolton immediately countermanded his order.  I would have fired him immediately, but President Trump let him make the decision that only the President should make.

If Idlib falls, the Kurdish region will become more tenuous.  Turkey does not want an independent Kurdish region and the Arab majority is bitter toward heavy-handed Kurdish rule, which has been encouraged by the Americans.   Kurds must reconcile with the Syrian government.  It has always been generous toward them.

I hope that the U.S. will leave northern Syria soon. That would permit all parties to reconcile and begin rebuilding Syria. But militants in the Trump Administration will resist removing them.  It is not clear to me that anyone ever obeyed Trump’s order to leave Syria.

ST: Who is the real acting president Mr. Trump or Mr. Bolton?

Sen. Black: Bolton is extremely dangerous because the President does not exercise proper control over military matters.  His staff are dangerously militaristic, and they have far too much independence.  There are signs that President Trump is becoming exasperated by their inept and immature actions. Hopefully, he will assert proper control over them.

Unfortunately, the President has assembled an irresponsible and inexperienced war cabinet.  Instead of restraining rash impulses of the President, they try to inflame them.  The President needs to replace Bolton and Pompeo.  The world would be much safer if he did so.

When President H.W. Bush invaded Iraq, it made him very popular for 18 months.  After that, he suffered a disastrous defeat in his bid for reelection.  Today, Americans have been at war for 18 years in Afghanistan and many other places; they are war weary.  I do not believe Americans would have as much patience with a war against Iran as they did with Iraq, and I believe President Trump would lose reelection in 2020 if he attacked Iran. Hopefully, the President knows this too.

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This article was originally published on Syria Times.

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May 22nd, 2019 by The Global Research Team

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May 13, 1985 is a day that shall live in infamy, but for far more reasons than the obvious. It was the death knell of a system committing suicide. It proved that a man called John Africa spoke powerful truths when he spoke about the nature of the system as corrupt, as flawed, as poisoned. Every day past that date has only proved it even more. ” -Mumia Abu-Jamal, from a May 9  2010 radio essay

 

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The only aerial bombing by police ever carried out on US soil was on May 13, 1985, when a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped military grade explosives on the house run by a group of self-styled revolutionaries known as Move. This group, which claims to adhere to principles of non-violence was founded by John Africa in 1972, and was composed mostly, but not exclusively, of African-Americans. They rejected the norms of 20th century American society in their dress, grooming, diet and lifestyles, and had come in conflict with authorities on several occasions.[1]

The 1985 bombing claimed the lives of five children and six adults including founder John Africa. Another adult named Ramona Africa, and a child named Birdie Africa were the only survivors of the assault. More than 250 people in the predominantly black middle class neighbourhood were left homeless after more than 60 other homes were destroyed as a result of the aerial bombing, and the fires that followed.[2]

This attack followed a previous assault on August 8, 1978. A police raid on the Move house, then located in the Philadelphia neighbourhood of Powelton village, resulted in the death of police officer James Ramp. The Courts held nine Move members responsible for the death and sentenced them to 30 to 100 years behind bars. [3]

Thirty-seven years later, two of the nine have died in prison under suspicious circumstances. Supporters of the Move 9, as they are called, are appealing to the Philadelphia Parole Board to set the remaining seven members free, now that they have all served their minimum sentences. [4][5]

In this installment of the Global Research News Hour we examine the attacks on Move in the context of a history of police and state repression of the black minority population of the US.

Linn Washington is a journalist and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University. He has covered Move almost from the group’s beginnings and was present on the scene as a reporter during the 1985 police action against the group. He will put the 1985 Bombing and the events that led up to it in their proper context and establish the failures, as he sees it, of the media to hold those in authority to account.

Ramona Africa is the spokesperson for Move. She served seven years in prison on riot charges following the bombing by Philadelphia police. She and other plaintiffs eventually received a $1.5 million settlement from the city in connection with the incident. In this interview Ramona provides some background on the group and the police stand-offs in 1978 and 1985, and speaks at length about the unjust incarceration of nine Move members who she explains could not possibly have been responsible for the murder of police officer Ramp.

For more resources on Move, and how to help the Move 9, please visit the following sites:

onamove.com

www.move9parole.blogspot.ca

Readers who happen to be in the New York City area ma wish to take in the following event:

NYC Stand in Solidarity in with Parole for the Move 9 – Friday Night 2/12/16

 

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The  show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CFUV 101. 9 FM in Victoria. Airing Sundays from 7-8am PT.

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

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

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

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the  North Shore to the US Border. It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

 

Notes: 

1) Alan Yuhas (May 13, 2015), The Guardian, Philadelphia’s Osage Avenue police bombing, 30 years on: ‘This story is a parable’ “; http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/13/osage-avenue-bombing-philadelphia-30-years

2) Ibid

3) Emilie Lounsberry (Feb. 28, 2008), The Philadelphia Inquirer, “MOVE members due for parole hearing”; http://web.archive.org/web/20080411115748/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/20080228_MOVE_members_due_for_parole_hearing.html

4)http://www.workers.org/ww/1998/africa0326.php

5) http://www.iacenter.org/racism/africa-phil011315//

 

 

In light of President Trump and John Bolton’s dangerous escalations against Iran and a forthcoming intelligence briefing on Capitol Hill this afternoon, 62 organizations – including J Street, Indivisible, NIAC Action and Win Without War – sent a letter calling on Congress to pass legislation to halt a march to war with Iran.

The combined groups, representing millions of Americans concerned about renewed threats of war with Iran, signals a strong desire for Congress to step up and block Trump from leading America into yet another war of choice.

“Last Fall, Americans voted for a new Congress to act as a co-equal branch of government that would finally serve as a check on this president and his reckless impulses,” said NIAC President Jamal Abdi. “Now Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton are taking this country to the brink of a completely avoidable military confrontation. It’s time for Congress to turn its words into action by passing legislation to stop Trump and Bolton from starting an illegal war.”

“President Trump’s chaos-first foreign policy centers around his penchant for turning challenges into crises,” said Win Without War Advocacy Director Erica Fein. “His Iran policy is no different: President Obama took us off the path to war, but now Trump and Bolton have put us back on it. It’s time for Congress to put the brakes on a Trump-Bolton war with Iran.”

“If the Trump administration were to launch a war of choice against Iran it would have devastating consequences for the United States, Israel and the entire region,” warned J Street head of government affairs Dylan Williams. “Congress must fulfill its constitutional responsibility by making absolutely clear that the president is not authorized to trigger a new conflagration in the Middle East.”

According to the letter,

“As the drumbeat for war grows louder, Congress must fulfill its Constitutional duty and enact further constraints to unequivocally prevent the administration from launching an unauthorized war.” The letter concludes, “The American people do not want another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East. Congress has the chance to stop a war before it starts. Please take action before it is too late.”

Please see full text here. (screenshot below)

 

 

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We need a bipartisan Muellergate investigation to determine who cooked up the Russiagate conspiracy that has taken over US foreign policy and driven American political discourse from idiotic to imbecilic.

However, in the schreechfest that our domestic politics has become, we’re no more likely to get a bipartisan Muellergate investigation than we are to get bipartisan agreement on anything but war, austerity, and the “socialist” aspersions now hurled at Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tulsi Gabbard, and Ilhan Omar. Following Trump’s lead, Democrats have begun attacking their own left flank.

I suffered through Volume I of the Mueller Report nevertheless; it’s such a crashing bore that its authors no doubt trusted few would actually read it. Someone else will have to read and review Volume II, which worries the question of whether or not Trump and friends attempted to obstruct justice in the investigation of the “collusion,” aka “conspiracy,” that didn’t happen. At one point Mueller finally acknowledges that there’s no definition of “collusion” in US criminal law, so they were really considering charges for criminal conspiracy. (Calling it “conspiracy” in the first place might have risked allegations that the US government is engaged in “conspiracy theory,” a term invented by the CIA to patently discredit narratives about world-changing events like the Kennedy, King, and Malcolm X assassinations, and the various false flag operations staged to start wars.)

The “Executive Summary” of Vol. I begins with this a priori assumption:

“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. Evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in mid-2016. In June, the Democratic National Committee and its cyber response team publicly announced that Russian hackers had compromised its computer network. Releases of hacked materials—hacks that public reporting soon attributed to the Russian government—began that same month. Additional releases followed in July through the organization WikiLeaks, with further releases in October and November.”

Mueller did no forensic evidence of his own to determine how the DNC and Podesta emails reached Wikileaks. He relied in part on Crowdstrike, which the DNC hired to conduct an investigation in lieu of the FBI’s own (despite the agency’s $9 billion budget). Crowdstrike has ties to the Atlantic Council, through its Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dimitry Alperivitch, and its President and Chief Strategy Officer Shawn Henry. Henry was formerly with the FBI, where Mueller appointed him to be Executive Assistant Director of its Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. It’s also worth noting that Google Capital invested $100 million dollars in Crowdstrike.

Mueller didn’t bother to interview any members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), not even Bill Binney, who conducted an independent forensic investigation and concluded that “the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack,” and that “the copying was performed on the East coast of the U.S.” (Not in Russia or Romania.)

Some have said that the DNC or the alleged hackers in Romania may have had internet connections faster than the rest of us mere mortals, but why didn’t Mueller at least look into that instead of ignoring the VIPS report? Wouldn’t the NSA have been more than capable of confirming it? And if the DNC had some sort of unusually speedy internet connection, wouldn’t it have long since offered its internet service bill in evidence?

Mueller did not even talk to Julian Assange, a central player in this saga who is now sitting in London’s Belmarsh Prison while his lawyers fight extradition requests from both Sweden and the US. Assange offered to talk to Mueller in exchange for limited immunity, presumably immunity from charges relating to publication of the DNC and Podesta emails, but Mueller declined.

Russiagate was first and foremost a deflection of attention from the the Democrats’ failure and the content of the DNC and Podesta emails. So it’s no surprise that Mueller never entertained the idea that the emails might have informed the American public about the crimes the Clinton campaign was hiding or that the public might have a right to know.

Nor did he ever consider that the FBI, the CIA, and/or NSA might have fabricated Russiagate. Forty-five years after the Church Committee, it’s as though Cointelpro and Operation Mockingbird never happened. Now even liberal progressives are in love with the FBI and the CIA.

“Post-2016 election”

This section includes a curious set of allegations:

“The Russian Embassy made contact hours after the election to congratulate the President-Elect and to arrange a call with President Putin. Several Russian businessmen picked up the effort from there.”

Isn’t that what heads of state do? Don’t the world’s most powerful heads of state call to congratulate one another on their election? And isn’t that what big businessmen in big corporate states do? Don’t they try to make contacts they can utilize to do business? Trump never stops touting the US weapons sales he negotiates with his head-chopping Saudi friends and neither did Hillary Clinton.

Here’s another curious allegation:

“[Kiril] Dmitriev and [Jared] Kushner’s friend collaborated on a short written reconciliation plan for the United States and Russia, which Dmitriev implied had been cleared through Putin. The friend gave that proposal to Kushner before the inauguration, and Kushner later gave copies to Bannon and incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.”

Isn’t that what heads of state and secretaries of state are supposed to do? Shouldn’t the world’s two greatest nuclear powers do their best to reconcile instead of escalating the new nuclear arms race and amassing more and more troops and missiles on either side of Russia’s European borders?

Another allegation is that Trump’s first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, attempted to negotiate an easing of tensions caused by the sanctions that Obama had imposed on Russia after Trump won the 2016 election and Russiagate sprouted wings.

This is one of several instances in which Trump, like a broken clock, might be right once or even twice a day. However, he’s since been so relentlessly vilified as a “Russian stooge,” “Putin puppet,” etcetera, that Russian scholar Stephen F. Cohen worries he may be politically unable to negotiate us out of another confrontation as perilous as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cohen also argues that US-Russia tensions are now worse than they were at any time in the First Cold War. (He coined the “New Cold War” to describe them.)

After the Mueller Report was released, Cohen said, on his weekly broadcast with John Batchelor, that, “Moreover, if you read the footnotes, and as a scholar, I always look at the footnotes—and there’s hundreds of them—it’s amazing how many of Mueller’s footnotes are to newspaper accounts and even tweets. I’ve never seen what purports to be a scholarly research work footnote tweets.

Where’s the beef?

Much of Volume I is a long tedious account of how various Trump associates had contact with various Russians, all leading up to the great big nothingburger:

“. . . while the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation. Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.”

Social media crime

Mueller does, however, hold fast to the allegations that Russians conspired to use social media to influence the 2016 election and sow social discord in our otherwise tranquil nation. He never asks why Hillary Clinton’s billion-dollar campaign couldn’t create enough of its own meme-bombs to defeat Russia’s. Nor does he ask whether these claims might have to do with ruling-class anxiety that the internet threatens their control of the narrative and they’re rushing to censor it.

And why would he? The Mueller Report relies heavily on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution,” more simply known as the “intelligence community assessment,” which concludes with a list of “key judgements,” most centrally this:

“Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.”

The US-led liberal democratic order meaning of course more war, austerity, and oligarchic rule. It’s grim, but polls at least show that most Americans don’t give a damn about Russiagate and care a lot more about their own impoverishment as wealth inequality continues to soar. Otherwise Trump and the Democratic Party establishment wouldn’t feel compelled to demonize socialism, which 51% of young Americans now prefer to capitalism. And naming it or not, more and more Americans readily see that there’s nothing in this so-called US-led order for them.

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Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at [email protected]. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

President Donald Trump’s national security team has been leaking “intelligence” about Iranian threats for a week now in an attempt to justify escalating tensions, including moving American air attack assets to the Persian Gulf. But a closer look suggests that National Security Advisor John Bolton and other senior officials are trying to pull off an intelligence deception comparable to the fraudulent pretense for war in Iraq.

There’s also credible evidence that Israel could be playing a key role in this subterfuge.

This deception has served to defend not only a U.S. military buildup in the region, but an expansion of the possible contingencies that could be used to justify military confrontation. In Bolton’s White House statement on May 5, he said the deployment of assets to the Gulf would “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

But public claims by the White House about Iran don’t reflect “intelligence” in any technical sense of the word. No one has cited a single piece of hard evidence that justifies these claims of threats, let alone any that are “new,” as press leaks have suggested. All of them appear to be deliberate and gross distortions of actual facts. Thus do they parallel the infamous aluminum tubes of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, which were presented as proof of an incipient Iraqi nuclear weapons program, despite the fact that technical analysis had shown that they couldn’t have been used for that purpose.

The Washington Post reported on May 15 that Pentagon and intelligence officials had cited three “Iranian actions” that had supposedly “triggered alarms”:

  • “Information suggesting an Iranian threat against U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Irbil.”
  • “U.S. concerns that Iran may be preparing to mount rocket or missile launchers on small ships in the Persian Gulf.”
  • “A directive from [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and regular Iranian military units that some U.S. officials have interpreted as a potential threat to U.S. military and diplomatic personnel.”

None of those three claims describes actual evidence of a threatening Iranian “action”; all merely refer to an official U.S. “concern” about a possible Iranian threat.

The notion of missile launchers on small Iranian boats threatening American ships has been the subject of extensive leaks to the media. But a closer examination of that story shows that it’s an entirely artificial construct.

Multiple news outlets have reported that the concerns over missiles launchers are based on aerial photographs showing Iranian missiles in small fishing boats, or dhows, that are “believed” to be under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. An ABC News story claims that these photos were “taken by U.S. intelligence” above the Iranian port of Chabahar. This is said to have stoked fears that the IRGC would use them against U.S. naval ships.

This, however, makes no strategic sense. In the first place, as Fabian Hinz, an independent specialist on missile proliferation, has observed, the IRGC would need to have a method of launching them from boats, which would require extensive testing. None of that has been observed up to now, and such a development seems extremely unlikely.

The IRGC also has no reason to consider using small fishing vessels to target U.S. ships, because Iran already has an impressive arsenal of land-based, anti-ship cruise missiles with all the range it needs. And those missiles are much less vulnerable than jury-rigged weapons, as they’re hidden in underground bases and disguised in trucks.

Hinz writes that the Iranians in the photos were most likely transporting the weapons to one of Iran’s islands in the Gulf, which are already known to have such anti-ship missiles.

The fishing dhow story isn’t the only one to suffer from a serious lack of credibility. The other two, suggesting a threat to U.S. military personnel and diplomatic facilities in Iraq from Iranian-supported militias, were discredited during an official Pentagon-sponsored press briefing by Major General Christopher Ghika, British Deputy Commander of Operation Inherent Resolve for strategy and information. Ghika declared explicitly that there is “no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” and repeated it when challenged by a shocked Barbara Starr on CNN.

So where did the idea of Iran using fishing dhows to target U.S. ships in the Gulf come from? Not a single media report has suggested that either CIA Director Gina Haspel or Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats provided such information. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan would not specify the source when he told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 8 that senior administration officials had “received indications and this very, very credible intelligence” on Friday afternoon, May 3. That was when officials met with Bolton at the Pentagon, according to the transcript of the meeting provided to TAC  by Shanahan’s press office.

The New York Times revealed the answer to the mystery on May 16: “In meetings in Washington and Tel Aviv in the past few weeks,” the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent wrote, “Israeli intelligence warned” U.S. officials that “Iran or its proxies were planning to strike American targets in Iraq.” The report cited a “senior Middle Eastern intelligence official”—the term traditionally used to describe an Israeli intelligence official–as the source.

Newsweek unearthed another clue as to the provenance of the claims. The magazine said that it learned from one Pentagon official that the satellite imagery of loading missiles into fishing dhows was not produced by U.S. intelligence but rather had been provided by Israel.

Reporting by the leading Israeli diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid, now of Channel 13 but also filing for Axios, provides more detailed evidence that Israel was the original source of all three alleged Iranian threats. Ravid’s story reports that an Israeli delegation, led by national advisor Meir Ben Shabbat, met with Bolton and other U.S. national security officials in the White House on April 15 and passed on to them “information about possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf,” according to “senior Israeli officials.”

Bolton confirmed the meeting with Ben Shabbat in a tweet after it happened, but revealed nothing about what was discussed.

Ravid’s Israeli sources acknowledged that it wasn’t hard intelligence or even an intelligence assessment based on evidence. Instead, as one Israeli official acknowledged, Mossad “drew several scenarios for what Iran might be planning.” Ravid’s sources ultimately admitted that Israel’s Mossad doesn’t really know “what the Iranians are trying to do.”

This is the obvious explanation for why U.S. officials were so unwilling to reveal the provenance of what has loosely been called “intelligence.” It also tallies with one Pentagon official’s revelation to Newsweek that the satellite imagery cited as evidence of missiles in fishing boats had been “provided to U.S. officials by Israel….”

That April 15 meeting was only the most recent one between top U.S. and Israeli national security officials over the past year, according to Ravid. These meetings were conducted under a still-secret U.S.-Israeli agreement on a joint plan of action against Iran reached after two days of unannounced meetings at the White House between Ben Shabbat and then-national security advisor H.R. McMaster on December 12, 2017. Ravid reported the details of that agreement in late December based on information from a “senior U.S. official” and confirmation from senior Israeli officials.

Ravid’s story provided details on the four working groups that were formed under the agreement, including one on “Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region, concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.” The Mossad “scenarios” apparently provided the central ideas with which to justify the Trump administration’s subsequent escalatory moves against Iran, including ostentatiously moving an aircraft carrier and a B-52 bomber group into the region.

Ravid asked the NSC for comment last summer about several meetings of the joint working group and was told, “we don’t confirm or provide details of internal deliberations.”

When reached by TAC on Mondaythe NSC press office declined to respond to Ravid’s reporting or other reports indicating that Israel was the source of the “very credible intelligence” about Iranian threats.

Bolton’s May 5 statement warning of “unrelenting force” against Iran in response to any attack by either Iranian or “proxy” forces added a very significant new element to America’s retaliatory threats. It referred to an attack “on United States interests or on those of our allies.” That broadening of the range of scenarios that could be cited to justify a U.S. strike against Iran, which has so far been studiously ignored by major news media, represents a major concession to the Israelis and Saudi Arabia.

It also creates a new incentive for the Israelis and Saudis to provoke military responses by Hamas in Gaza or the Houthis in Yemen. And it poses the problem of incidents that could be blamed on Iran or a “proxy” but for which actual responsibility is ambiguous, such as the apparent “limpet mine” attack on oil tankers on May 12—or the rocket fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone within a mile of the U.S. embassy there Sunday night.

These deceptions are part of a dangerous game being run by Bolton in which Israel is apparently playing a crucial role. That should prompt some serious questioning as to Bolton’s claims and the role of the alleged secret U.S.-Israeli understandings.

There are already signs of resistance within the Pentagon in response to this move towards war with Iran, as reported by Newsweek late last week. “Be on the lookout for Iraq 2.0 justifications,” said one military official. “Think about the intel indicators prior to the Iraq invasion. Compare. Then get really uneasy.”

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Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to The American Conservative. He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Featured image: U.S. National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton meets The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu for dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence, in Jerusalem, August 2018. (U.S. Embassy/public domain)

Military Spending: The “Great Power Competition”

May 22nd, 2019 by Oriental Review

Researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) have concluded that military spending is skyrocketing around the world. According to a report published by the institute in April, the world spent $1.8 trillion on military expenditure in 2018 (2.1 per cent of global GDP), which is 2.6 per cent higher than in 2017 and 76 per cent higher than in 1998 after the end of the Cold War. In fact, the current level is the highest since 1988, when the institute began collating consistent data on military expenditure. This is also bearing in mind that SIPRI only gathers its information from official sources, which is why its reports include a large number of assumptions. One must suppose that the actual military expenditure of countries today is significantly higher.

According to SIPRI, the five countries with the largest military expenditure in 2018 were the US, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, making up 60 per cent of global military spending. Russia came sixth, falling out of the top five for the first time since 2006.

Going against the flow

The Kremlin’s military spending has decreased for the second year in a row. SIPRI reports that it totalled $61.4 billion in 2018, a decrease of 3.5 per cent compared with 2017. In December 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted at a Defence Ministry meeting that the country’s military budget should not exceed 2.8 per cent of the state’s GDP (in 2016, Russia’s military spending amounted to almost 3.7 per cent of its GDP). The president also said that the Kremlin would be reducing military spending on “maintenance and equipment”. At the time, SIPRI linked the decision to Moscow’s economic problems as a result of the anti-Russian sanctions. “Military modernization remains a priority in Russia, but the military budget has been restricted by economic problems that the country has experienced since 2014,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers and Military Expenditure Programme.

However, the Kremlin has a different take on the issue. In March 2018, the Russian president noted that the bulk of the country’s military spending was associated with the creation of the latest systems and the technical re-equipment of the Russian army. “The reduction will not undermine Russia’s defence capabilities because it invested in creating new weapons systems in previous years,” said Putin.

In fact, the reduction in expenditure has not had a huge impact on the potential of the Russian Armed Forces. In November 2018, the magazine Business Insider published a ranking of the world’s most powerful militaries in which Russia came second after the US. The top five also included China, India and France. In addition, figures published by SIPRI in March placed Russia second behind the US in terms of arms exports.

Experts from the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy also explain Russia’s reduction in military spending as a desire by the country’s defence ministry to avoid any further advance payments to the country’s military and industrial complex. The fact is that Russia’s military industry and military institutions are not in a position to fully utilise the funds allocated to them, as a result of which they remain unused. Meanwhile, the Gaidar Institute estimates that Russia’s military spending for 2018 was $108.5 billion, which is $47.1 billion more than SIPRI’s figure. However, this can be attributed to the fact that SIPRI converts roubles into dollars at the current exchange rate without taking into account the purchasing power parity (PPP).

Trump’s battle with China 

The boom in global military spending is due, first and foremost, to the battle between the United States and China for supremacy in Asia. According to SIPRI, China doesn’t want the US to get too close to the region and to neighbouring countries. The institute believes that there is a great deal of tension between the actors involved. China is also still feeling pressure from Japan, which is yet another reason for the country to be on its guard.

At present, it is China, which accounts for 14 per cent of global military spending, that is primarily responsible for the overall increase in the military budget of countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Between 2009 and 2018, when America’s military spending fell by 17 per cent, China’s military expenditure increased by 83 per cent. SIPRI reports that China’s military budget for 2018 was $250 billion (5 per cent higher than in 2017).

Like the United States, China is paying a great deal of attention to shipbuilding. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), China has launched naval vessels with a total tonnage greater than the tonnages of the entire Indian and French navies. China’s new arsenal also includes autonomous weapons systems and cyber weapons. The country’s strong economy is making it possible to invest huge amounts of money in new weapons. China’s military budget is still just 1.9 per cent of its GDP, however, which, in percentage terms, is much less than any other country in SIPRI’s top five. So China’s military spending still has room for growth, should geopolitical circumstances require it.

Yet America remains the global leader in military spending. For the first time in seven years, America’s already enormous military budget increased by 4.6 per cent to almost $700 billion in 2018. SIPRI calculates that America’s military spending in 2018 was almost as much as that of the next eight largest-spending countries combined.

What’s more, the Pentagon’s appetite is only growing. This year, America’s military budget is around $716 billion and, in 2020, this figure could reach $750 billion. Incidentally, this annual increase exceeds the military budgets of almost every one of America’s NATO allies.

China military spending

The increase in military spending is primarily due to the administration of US President Donald Trump adopting the so-called “great power competition” as an organising principle of US foreign policy. “The increase in US spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programmes under the Trump administration,” says Dr Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX programme.

With an eye on Asia 

The battle between the US and China is forcing other countries in the region to actively arm themselves. Thus, according to SIPRI, military expenditure in Asia and Oceania amounted to $507 billion in 2018, or 28 per cent of the total global military spending. For comparison, this figure was just 9 per cent in 1988. As well as China and India, SIPRI’s top ten includes Japan and South Korea.

America’s NATO allies in Europe are also arming themselves. According to IISS, Europe increased its military spending by 4.2 per cent in 2018, with Poland increasing its spending by as much as 8.9 per cent. If the military spending of every European country was added together, then the European Union would be the world’s second-largest military power, outspending Russia fourfold. In practice, however, Europe is being hindered by duplicated equipment and its continued dependence on America in key areas such as moving troops and refuelling military aircraft.

Interestingly, military spending in Africa and the Middle East fell in 2018. SIPRI’s figures show that Africa’s military spending has been falling steadily since 2014 and fell by 8.4 per cent in 2018 compared with 2017. There has also been a considerable reduction in the military spending of Algeria (6.1 per cent), Angola (18 per cent) and Sudan (49 per cent) compared with 2017. In addition, military spending by states in the Middle East fell by 1.9 per cent last year compared with the year before. Yet six of the ten countries with the highest military spending as a proportion of GDP are in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (8.8 per cent of GDP), Oman (8.2 per cent), Kuwait (5.1 per cent), Lebanon (5 per cent), Jordan (4.7 per cent) and Israel (4.3 per cent).

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This article was originally published on Oriental Review.

Featured image is from Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; the rest in the article are from OR

Haiti: The Unsustainable Presidency

May 22nd, 2019 by Nancy Roc

If the parting of the Red Sea is one of the most dramatic episodes in the Old Testament, Haiti’s Moses will not be saved by a miracle; on the contrary, he’s about to drown the nation with the support of the US government.

President Jovenel Moïse (Moses in English) promised to put “money in the pockets and food on the plates’’ (of the Haitian people) More than two years later, the food emergency has worsened and the famine is on our doorstep’’, states the day’s editorial of Haiti’s oldest daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, on May 17th 2019. And it gets worse. The exchange rate has reached an unprecedented 90 gourdes for a dollar, inflation is at 17% – while some estimate that the real rate is around 20%. On February 14th, 2019, following violent protests against President Jovenel Moise, the U.S. State Department issued a Level-4-Travel Advisory for Haiti – at its highest level of alert. Since then, there have been massive layoffs within the tourism sector and some import-export companies. The US decision exacerbated the asphyxiation of entire sectors of an economy already crippled by corruption. To make matters worse, attacks on life and property are increasing in cities and in the countryside. ‘’We are at the antipodes of the tomorrows promised by President Jovenel Moïse’’ concludes Le Nouvelliste.

For the past year, the disastrous management practices and the suspected diversion of nearly $2 billion from the Petrocaribe fund under the presidency of Michel Martelly – endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 2012 – have been the core of the violent unrest in Haiti. While Martelly took the presidency with just 16.7 per cent of the electorate, the US press billed his victory as “overwhelming“, reminds Al Jazeera. For the TV network, Martelly, ‘’the friend of coup-plotters, fascists, and armed right-wing groups in his country and abroad’’ was ‘’the second greatest disaster’’ for Haiti since the 2010 earthquake[1]. Yet, the U.S. supported him and still supports his successor, Jovenel Moise.

Two years after the latter took power, the expressions of the collapse of the state are blatant. The Haitian Moses has neither the experience, nor the political will or the moral authority to make a change. The crisis is worsening by the day and last April, in a rare volte-face, the Haitian private sector made it clear:

The system is finished. We must break it. We can prepare, order the rupture or we can undergo the rupture. This would mean that many of us will lose their heads. We will be decapitated. What we have will be burned“, said Frantz Bernard Craan[2].

When this business leader speaks, he does so on behalf of the Haitian private sector. Indeed, Craan is the Coordinator of the Private Sector Economic Forum in Haiti -an association regrouping all Haitian private sector corporative associations.

Amid Haiti’s ongoing political and economic crisis and a month after his nomination, Haiti’s new Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Lapin has yet to be ratified by Parliament. If he is, people generally doubt that he will be able to help Moise face pressing problems such as the high cost of living and the insecurity that plagues the country.

On National Flag Day, May 18th, in Arcahaie, a small town where the flag was adopted, the Mayor  gave a cold shower to the highest authorities of the country.

People need hope, not promises. They want to live in safety. This is their cry. As long as the Haitian people complain, fearing for their future which seems more and more devastating, the flag remains stained and desecrated and you have understood nothing “, slammed the Mayor Rosemila Petit-Frère to the president under the applauds of an approving and somewhat stunned public.

She reminded members of Parliament that as long as they continue to impose ministers, overthrow governments and refuse to control the executive, they are themselves guilty of desecrating the flag.

You, too, have not understood our bicolour. The people are following you, they have understood and taken notes“, she said. “The wind of the division has unveiled everything. The press, the private sector, the public sector, the political opposition, all are concerned. This wind of division contributed to the devaluation of the gourde, it has increased misery, insecurity and instability’’, said the mayor who gave the proverbial keys of the city to the president, and with them an invitation to use her historic city as a site to start a national dialogue, as had done the heroes of independence 216 years before.

In his speech, president Moïse reiterated his intention to hold this dialogue while admitting that he was “an accident of the system”. The problem is that the Haitian people no longer believes in Moïse’s empty promises and it is improbable that it will be behind him when, in his accident, the  raging waters of discontent and scorn  drown him.

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Nancy Roc is an independent Canadian journalist with over 30 years of experience. Originally from Haiti, she is specialized in political analysis and her work has been published in many Canadian newspapers, such as La Presse de Montreal, Le Devoir, Jobboom, Le Soleil or L’Actualité magazine; as well as on websites, such as, l’Observatoire des Ameriques, Gaiapresse.org and Alterpresse.org. She has also collaborated numerous times as a political analyst with Radio Canada and CBC News Canada. Her other research topics’ specializations are the environment, climate change, violence against women, women’s empowering and autonomy.

Notes

[1] Greg Grandin ‘’ Martelly: Haiti’s second great disaster’’, May 4th, 2011, Al Jazeera.

[2] Roberson Alphonse, Craindre le pire pour le secteur privé, Le Nouvelliste, April 13th, 2019.


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Last week, I addressed a United Nations Security Council meeting on “Israeli settlements”. Because I knew other speakers, experts and diplomats, would address the illegality of Israeli settlements, the economic and human rights impact on the Palestinian people and the stated design of the entire settlement enterprise to eliminate the possibility of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, I focused my remarks on my government’s role in enabling Israel’s settlements and its complicity in Israel’s violations of international law. This may seem like harsh language, but when nothing is done to stop an activity that violates international law, contributes to human rights abuses and presents a clear danger to peace, then I do not know any other way to describe US actions.

During the past 50 years, there has been a steady erosion in US policy toward Israeli behaviour in Palestinian lands. Successive US administrations’ attitudes towards Israeli settlements have gone from passive acquiescence to outright acceptance. Even when some presidents expressed opposition to Israeli settlements, they took no concrete action to stop them. The net result has been that the settlement population in the Palestinian territories grew from 50,000 during president Jimmy Carter’s administration to 620,000 Israeli settlers today. The growth of settlements and settlers has been as steady as the erosion of the official US policy on this critical question.

In 1976, president Gerald Ford’s administration was firm in its support of the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the behaviour of an occupying power, to Palestine. President Jimmy Carter was equally firm on this matter. He even sought a formal legal opinion from the State Department legal adviser, who determined that settlements were, in fact, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

US adherence to international law regarding settlements ended with president Ronald Reagan. Reagan was neither a student of law nor policy, and when tackling complex matters in interviews, he sometimes made awkward pronouncements based on his vague recollection of policy talking points. One particularly sloppy example occurred during his first week in office. When asked about Israel’s planned expansion of settlements, he said:

“As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there… they’re not illegal. Not under the UN resolution that leaves the West Bank open to all people, Arab and Israeli alike.”

Though sloppy, this statement became US policy. During the rest of his time in office, Reagan meandered between contradicting Carter’s position on the illegality of settlements and saying that settlements were eroding “Arab confidence in Israel’s willingness to enter into a peace agreement”. In the end, Reagan had done real damage to US policy. After him, no US president referred to settlements as illegal.

Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush was firmly opposed to Israeli settlements, even withholding, as a penalty, Congressionally-approved loan guarantees from Israel. Still, Bush never called settlements illegal, instead terming them “obstacles to peace”.

President Bill Clinton, who inherited the Oslo Accords, continued a similar approach to settlements. He never claimed settlements were illegal, and instead argued that continued construction was in violation of the “Oslo process”, which prohibited the parties from undertaking “unilateral actions” that could predetermine final negotiations.

While expressing concern with settlement expansion, the George W. Bush administration often took positions which enabled their growth. For example, he acceded to Israel’s effort to distinguish between “legal” settlements and “illegal” outposts, insisting that the latter be removed (they were not), while only paying scant attention to the former, many of which Israel proceeded to encapsulate behind a 676km wall, redrawing its borders with the West Bank. And despite endorsing the “roadmap”, which called on Israel to dismantle all settlement “outposts” erected after March 2001 and freeze all settlement activity, Bush sent a letter to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in April 2004 which stated that, “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect” these settlements will be removed after final status negotiations. In short, what was once illegal became accepted as a “new reality”.

President Barack Obama made repeated efforts to end settlement expansion. In his 2009 Cairo speech, Obama said,

“the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace… it is time for these settlements to stop”.

When challenged by the Israelis on the need to allow “natural growth” and their claim that the Bush administration had given them permission to build within the “blocs” that were assumed Israel would annex, the Obama administration initially denied the validity of the Bush “promise” and secretary of state Hillary Clinton forcefully stated that President Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements, not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions… That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly”. Despite this rhetoric, little changed and, eventually, Obama officials also began speaking of existing settlements as “realities” that would eventually be annexed by Israel with Palestinians being compensated with unspecified “land swaps”.

It was President Donald Trump who delivered the final blow to the US position on settlements. Under his leadership, settlements are not only legal, they are not even “obstacles to peace”. When Israel announces new construction, there is nary a peep from the State Department. And while we have not seen “the ultimate deal”, from what we know, most likely this administration will bless Israel’s retention of all settlements it has constructed. What is clear is that the US bears responsibility for Israel’s continued flouting of international law. Despite past empty protests: we have continued to provide massive amounts of aid and loan guarantees, we have blocked all efforts to censure Israeli behaviour and Congress and state legislatures are in the process of criminalising the right of Americans to use boycotts to oppose settlements. There is no other way to describe this behaviour other than to say that we have become complicit in Israel’s international law violations.

The international community needs to develop a new strategy to deal with this critical matter. Passing another UN General Assembly resolution that protests Israeli policies will accomplish nothing, neither will more speeches reaffirming the importance and applicability of international law. The burden for changing Israeli behaviour must not be left to the weakest party — the Palestinians — because they are not only confronting Israel. They are also confronting the United States, which has given Israel the green light and the wherewithal to continue to act with impunity.

At this point, an international strategy must be developed to confront Israel and the backing it receives from the United States. What is at stake is not only the human rights of a beleaguered Palestinian nation, but the viability of international law and fabric of civilised world order.

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James J. Zogby is president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute.

The events of September 11, 2001, are still unexposed. Instead, the world has narrated a story within 13 minutes that Osama bin Laden was the supposed mastermind, and after 24 hours, the “facts” were set in stone by a congressional vote.

A lot of dissenting opinions about the attacks were hushed, silenced or ignored. The mainstream media behaved the same. All their critical questioning broke off, and they fell in line with the official narrative.

Elias Davidsson was born in Palestine in 1941 to German refugees. He settled in Iceland in 1962 and retired with his wife to Germany in 2008. He has published books on 9/11 and different terror incidents in particular. “Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11” was published in the U.S. in 2013.[1] Followed by two books in German. (Der Gelbe Bus=The Yellow Bus)[2], which deals with the terror attack in Berlin and a comprehensive study on 9/11 and the aspects of psychological warfare and social denial.[3] His latest research investigates the Mumbai attacks. His book “The betrayal of India”[4] made headlines in Pakistan and led to an invitation to this country. The over 900 some pages study was translated into Urdu.

In 16 chapters, the author proceeds through careful investigation concentrating on the legal and forensic aspects of 9/11, and he debunks the official narrative and everything that goes with it.

From his standpoint, all the presented facts do not hold water. There is not a single hard evidence that the 19 Muslims committed this horrendous crime. According to Eliason, the 9/11 Commission Report is a joke, and its conclusions were prefabricated.

“The U.S. authorities failed in their legal and political obligations to fully and impartially investigate the massive crime of 9/11: They failed to investigate the alleged plane crashes; they tried to prevent a congressional investigation; and they tried to undermine that investigation, once it took place. Those investigations, which were carried out under the authority of the United States government and Congress were not prompt, independent, impartial, or thorough, and only partially transparent. The United States judiciary failed to bring to justice even one person implicated in the mass murder of 9/11. Had the United States been a party to the European Convention of Human Rights, the European Court would have been compelled to declare the United States in violation of the right to life of 3,000 people.”

For Davidsson, 9/11 was a propaganda-coup, unprecedented in history.

“When the sun rose on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, the official legend of 9/11 lay ready to be promoted worldwide. It was conceived before the events and confirmed by the U.S. Congress – give or take minor details – within 24 hours of the deadly events.”

Within hours, the entire world was led astray into believing what can be labeled an absurd tale. The author can’t understand that the Western world swallowed ” this legend hook, line, and sinker.”

According to Davidsson, not only academia but also the leftists and liberals failed.  Academicians out of fear to lose their career, leftists argued that the attacks were retributions by Muslims against US foreign policies. None of the liberals or leftists ever asked for hard evidence> Did Afghanistan have anything to do with 9/11? Not to mention  Saddam Hussein.

The author calls for a new independent investigation. The initial value of demanding a further, independent investigation of 9/11 is educational.

” Had the crime of 9/11 been carried out by rogue elements of the U.S. government or by a foreign state against the real interests of the ruling class of the United States and its allies, the plotters and perpetrators would have been exposed and punished long ago.”

Davidsson’s book runs counter to the official 9/11 narrative with excellent arguments and irrefutable evidence. The revolutionary aspects of the 9/11-truth lie in the fact that people can’t achieve justice through the established procedures.  The author generously provides the book for download.[5]

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Dr. Ludwig Watzal is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] https://www.countercurrents.org/watzal170813.htm

[2] http://betweenthelines-ludwigwatzal.com/2018/07/27/der-gelbe-bus-vom-breitscheidplatz/

[3] http://betweenthelines-ludwigwatzal.com/2017/01/24/psychologische-kriegsfuehrung-und-gesellschaftliche-leugnung-die-legende-ueber-911/

[4] http://between-the-lines-ludwig-watzal.blogspot.com/2017/08/elias-davidsson-betrayal-of-india.html

[5] http://aldeilis.net/Betrayal-of-America-introduction.html

Following the fifth death of a child in U.S. custody in recent months, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is renewing its call for the immediate release of all detained children to community-based settings, access to independent medical providers for all detained children, and an independent investigation into the deaths. A 16-year-old boy from Guatemala, identified as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, died on Monday in Texas after being diagnosed with the flu the day before. Vasquez had been waiting in a detention facility for a week pending relocation to a shelter for migrant children.

“The death of the fifth immigrant child in U.S. custody in the last six months is a damning indictment of this administration’s continued policy of detaining children and a stark reminder that detention poses a grave threat to children’s health,” said Kathryn Hampton, Asylum Network program officer for PHR. “The fact that this child was held in Customs and Border Protection custody for seven days violates CBP’s own guidelines, which cap short-term detention at 72 hours. These facilities don’t even have showers or beds, much less adequate medical screening procedures and staff. What more evidence does the administration need that no child belongs in a holding cell?”

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has failed to consistently employ appropriately trained medical professionals to screen asylum seekers. Holding cells are commonly referred to as “hieleras” or “iceboxes,” and are known for their uncomfortably low temperatures and cramped spaces. The small holding cells, designed for temporary use, lack furnishings such as beds and provide no privacy. Asylum seekers are, at most, provided a thin Mylar blanket and mat to place on the cement floor for sleeping on.

Many Border Patrol stations and processing centers are located in remote areas, which hinders access to emergency medical care, resulting in delayed treatment and perhaps even unavoidable deaths. Preliminary medical screenings are conducted by apprehending agents, who are often not medically qualified to determine if further care is needed. While CBP recently began employing physicians to conduct screenings at the border, the agency still lacks trained pediatricians to screen children for injuries or illness.

“PHR is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to cease holding children in CBP detention facilities and to provide adequate standards for essential care of all persons in custody,” said Michael Payne, advocacy officer for PHR. “Congress must ensure that asylum seekers receive timely medical treatment from properly trained medical professionals.”

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Featured image is from Periódico Cubano

Video: The Coming War on China. Documentary

May 22nd, 2019 by John Pilger

The Coming War on China (2016) is John Pilger’s 60th film for ITV.

Pilger reveals what the news doesn’t – that the world’s greatest military power, the United States, and the world’s second economic power, China, both nuclear-armed, are on the road to war.

The film is a warning and an inspiring story of resistance.

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A civilização moderna à prova

May 22nd, 2019 by Amir Nour

“Não sei com que armas será disputada a terceira guerra mundial, mas a quarta guerra mundial será travada com paus e pedras” (Albert Einstein)[2]

Alerta vermelho num mundo ambivalente

Tendo em vista a sua edição de 2018, a muito prestigiada Conferência de Segurança de Munique publicou um relatório destinado a servir de compilação e base de trabalho útil para um encontro impressionante de mais de 300 decisores e profissionais da segurança provenientes dos quatro cantos do mundo.

A epígrafe do primeiro artigo do relatório dava claramente o tom ao citar a mensagem proferida pelo Secretário Geral das Nações Unidas recentemente eleito, António Guterres: “Quando iniciei as minhas funções há um ano, lancei um apelo para que 2017 fosse um ano de paz. Infelizmente, o mundo seguiu, em grande medida, o caminho inverso. No primeiro dia do ano de 2018, não vou lançar um novo apelo. Vou emitir um alerta, um alerta vermelho ao nosso mundo. Os conflitos agravaram-se e emergiram novos perigos. A ansiedade global relacionada com as armas nucleares nunca foi tão forte desde a Guerra Fria. As mudanças climáticas avançam mais depressa do que nós. As desigualdades acentuam-se. Assistimos a violações horríveis dos direitos humanos. Os nacionalismos e a xenofobia estão a aumentar.”[3]

Haverá maneira mais exacta e concisa para descrever o estado do mundo neste início do século XXI?

Avanços históricos em quase todos os sectores da actividade humana têm suscitado uma preocupação crescente no tocante à durabilidade de uma ordem internacional que foi, em grande parte, concebida, moldada e construída pelos Estados Unidos da América no fim da Segunda Guerra Mundial, graças ao seu poder económico e militar. Mas esta ordem dita “liberal” dirigida pelos Estados Unidos tem vindo a sofrer uma erosão constante e é hoje brutalmente posta em causa. Assaz surpreendentemente, os seus fundamentos têm sido alvo de ataques constantes da parte daqueles que a construiram, hoje encabeçados pela administração Donald Trump, que reage contra aquilo que considera ser os excessos de uma mundialização  desenfreada. Segundo John Ikenberry, “o Estado mais poderoso do mundo começou a sabotar a ordem que criou. Surgiu um poder revisionista hostil que ocupou o Salão Oval, o centro nevrálgico do Mundo livre.”[4]

A conjunção de realidades como as guerras ilegais conduzidas pelos autoproclamados polícias mundiais contra Estados fracos e “desobedientes”, mas soberanos, e uma desigualdade económica sem precedentes que resulta das contradições da mundialização capitalista e do comportamento expansionista e sem entraves de empresas que investem em todos os sectores da vida pública e privada, gerou um autoritarismo e um darwinismo social crescentes à escala global.

A par de outros grandes críticos do capitalismo mundial do século XXI –como Paul Krugman e Thomas Piketty[5]– o vencedor do prémio Nobel, Joseph Stieglitz, descreveu esta realidade omnipresente num livro importante.[6] Desde o início do século, observa, “quatro dos principais problemas que a nossa sociedade enfrenta são a grande fractura –ou seja, a enorme desigualdade existente nos Estados Unidos e em muitos outros países avançados– a má gestão económica, a mundialização e o papel do Estado e do mercado.”

Esta situação está, segundo ele, relacionada com o papel dos interesses privados na política e cada vez mais com os interesses do 1% mais rico da população mundial. Foi por esta razão que a Oxfam apresentou um documento de informação[7] que fez história ao apelar à elite mundial reunida em Davos para que assumisse compromissos capazes de estancar a crescente vaga de desigualdades. O documento indica que cerca de metade da riqueza mundial pertence, hoje, a apenas um por cento da população. A Oxfam alertou para o facto de esta concentração maciça de recursos económicos nas mãos de um número reduzido de pessoas constituir uma ameaça real para os sistemas políticos e económicos inclusivos e de agravar as desigualdades. Ao deixarem de ser controladas, as instituições políticas são minadas e os governos servem massiçamente os interesses das elites económicas, em detrimento das pessoas comuns.

Desde então, um outro relatório da Oxfam[8] veio demonstrar que estas projecções estão correctas e assinala que oito homens apenas dispõem de uma riqueza equivalente à da metade mais pobre da população mundial. O documento considera ser “mais do que grotesco” um punhado de homens ricos, encabeçados pelo fundador da Microsoft Bill Gates, deterem uma fortuna de 426 bilhões de dólares, que corresponde aos haveres de 3,6 bilhões de pessoas.

O relatório[9] do Instituto de Estudos Políticos informa, por sua vez, que os três cidadãos mais abastados dos Estados Unidos (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates e Warren Buffet) são mais ricos do que a metade mais pobre da população daquele país ou seja, 160 milhões de pessoas! A riqueza dos três representa, ao todo, o montante assustador de 248,58 bilhões de dólares. Comentando as conclusões deste documento, Chuck Collins, economista e co-autor do relatório, declarou que “a classe dos bilionários” continua a afastar-se do resto da população a um ritmo acelerado e que “tanto dinheiro concentrado em tão poucas mãos, quando há tantas pessoas a lutar pela sobrevivência, não só representa um sinal de má política económica como uma crise moral.”

Pankaj Mishra captou e resumiu de forma eloquente a imagem e a coreografia desta dança macabra do mundo ao observar que “os futuros historiadores poderão interpretar esta desordem como o início da Terceira Guerra Mundial, que será a mais longa e a mais estranha de todas as guerras mundiais porque se assemelha, pela sua ubiquidade, a uma guerra civil mundial.”[10]

Mas como pôde o mundo chegar a esta situação sinistra?

De Prometeu a Homo Deus

No seu livro The Progress Paradox[11], editado em 2014, Gregg Easterbrook baseia-se numa quantidade de pesquisas impressionante para afirmar que quase todos os aspectos da vida ocidental progrediram consideravelmente ao longo do século passado e que, nos últimos cinquenta anos, quase tudo melhorou de tal forma para quase toda a gente, que acaba por ser pura perversão sentirmo-nos mal a propósito de tudo ou de quase tudo. Recentemente[12], reiterou esta afirmação denunciando, ao mesmo tempo, aqueles que se encontram empenhados numa “política de nostalgia competitiva” que exige o regresso a um passado idealizado inatingível quando, refere o autor, esse passado pura e simplesmente nunca existiu. Easterbrook está convencido de que, segundo critérios de avaliação significativos, o mundo moderno está melhor do que nunca e que ainda podemos alcançar um futuro melhor.

Dentro desta mesma linha, o investigador em ciências cognitivas Steven Pinker, que se baseou nos resultados de uma ampla pesquisa e em setenta e cinco gráficos para a sua avaliação da condição humana no terceiro milénio, sublinha que “a vida, a saúde, a prosperidade, a segurança, a paz, o conhecimento e a felicidade”[13] estão a progredir, não só no Ocidente, mas no mundo inteiro. A partir desta constatação, chega a uma conclusão aparentemente lógica afirmando que nunca existiu melhor momento para o ser humano do que o actual.

Porém, a maior parte dos homens e das mulheres sente-se hoje menos feliz do que as gerações precedentes. Esta observação levou David Callahan a questionar-se sobre o facto de tantas pessoas apresentarem um semblante carregado quando deveriam mostrar um sorriso feliz por terem tido a sorte de nascer na geração actual.[14]

Como explicar, então, este descontentamento mundial não obstante uma inegável melhoria da condição humana em geral?

Será possível atribuí-lo, como pensa Pinker, ao facto de esse progresso, “que não é o resultado de uma força cósmica, mas uma dádiva das Luzes resultante da convicção de que a razão e a ciência podem contribuir para o aperfeiçoamento do desenvolvimento do homem”, ir a contra-corrente da natureza humana assente no tribalismo, no autoritarismo, na diabolização e no pensamento mágico, que os “demagogos comprometidos com ideologias políticas, religiosas e românticas” estão sempre prontos a explorar, numa guerra de outros tempos com a qual alimentam um “fatalismo corrosivo e a vontade de destruição das preciosas instituições da democracia liberal”?

Ou, pelo contrário, não será a crise mundial actual acima de tudo devida,  como pensam muitos outros autores, ao facto de as experiências apressadas de construção da nação, da democracia, da industrialização e da urbanização terem deixado cicatrizes em muitas partes do mundo, e ao facto de conceitos como a modernidade, a laicidade, o desenvolvimento e o progresso serem quimeras antigas, que uma minoria de poderosos continua a apresentar à maioria como ideais a prosseguir? Esta opinião é partilhada por Pankaj Mishra. O autor sublinha que os impasses políticos e os choques económicos das nossas sociedades, bem como o ambiente irremediavelmente degradado corroboram as visões mais sombrias de uma longa lista de pensadores, a começar pelos críticos do século XIX, que condenavam o capitalismo moderno considerando-o “uma máquina sem coração ao serviço do crescimento económico e do enriquecimento de uma minoria, em oposição às aspirações fundamentalmente humanas que são a estabilidade, a comunidade e um futuro melhor.”[15]

Não podemos deixar de recordar a resposta de Noam Chomsky quando o entrevistador lhe perguntou se a civilização pode sobreviver ao capitalismo predador, que a maioria das economias avançadas adoptou a partir de finais dos anos 1970: “o capitalismo realmente existente –cuja sigla é RECD e se pronuncia “wrecked” [destruído]– é radicalmente incompatível com a democracia. Parece-me improvável que a civilização possa sobreviver ao capitalismo realmente existente e à democracia fortemente atenuada que o acompanha”.[16]

Convém sublinhar igualmente que, em 1932, o romance de Aldous Huxley Brave New World já perspectivava uma ditadura científica embora esta, na altura, parecesse uma visão tão assustadora quanto inscrita num futuro longínquo. Menos de trinta anos depois, todavia, noutra obra romanceada e não menos fascinante[17], Huxley comparava o mundo moderno com o fantasma profético que desenhara na sua análise anterior, incluindo as ameaças para a humanidade induzidas pelos progressos fulgurantes da ciência, nomeadamente no âmbito do controlo do pensamento. Com o seu novo livro, Huxley rejeitava qualquer tipo de complacência para com as pressões cada vez maiores exercidas no sentido da adopção destas ferramentas modernas e defendia a necessidade de a humanidade se educar para a liberdade, antes que fosse tarde demais.

Não existe hoje qualquer dúvida sobre o facto de estarmos muito adiantados no caminho perigoso antecipado por Aldous Huxley. Num livro recente, Franklin Foer[18] analisou estes desafios colossais e, em particular, os perigos que os GAFA –os quatro gigantes da tecnologia: Google, Apple, Facebook e Amazon– representam para a nossa cultura e as nossas carreiras. Foer demonstrou que estas empresas, através dos seus métodos de observação dos consumidores e de colecta de dados, bem como através da sua vontade de substituirem a tomada de decisão humana por algoritmos implacáveis, “destroem os princípios que protegem a individualidade”. Pior ainda, acrescentou, ao procurar dominar os mercados e o mundo, este “quatuor redutável, que influencia o nosso pensamento e as nossas actividades, adormeceu-nos instalando-nos num sentimento de dependência”.[19] Mais poderosas do que as instituições de controlo tradicionais, nomeadamente as principais redes de televisão ou os jornais mais importantes, aquelas empresas tornaram-se os novos árbitros dos media, da economia, da política e das artes.

Yuval Noah Harari, autor e historiador, que conseguiu captar a imaginação de milhões de pessoas graças aos seus dois best-sellers mundiais[20], exprime uma opinião semelhante. Em Sapiens, Harari explica o modo como a humanidade tem vindo a reinar sobre o planeta e, em Homo Deus, examina o futuro da humanidade. O autor sublinha que “o império mundial que tem vindo a desenhar-se debaixo dos nossos olhos não é governado por um Estado nem por um grupo étnico específico. Tal como o Império romano, o império mundial é governado por uma elite multiétnica e está ligado por uma cultura e interesses comuns. Empreiteiros, engenheiros, peritos, universitários, advogados e gestores são convidados a integrar o império. Como tal, devem autoquestionarse e decidir se respondem ao apelo imperial ou se permanecem fiéis ao seu Estado e ao seu povo. São cada vez mais numerosos aqueles que escolhem o império.”

No tocante à sua visão do futuro, Harari considera que a prossecução dos projectos, dos sonhos e dos pesadelos que moldarão o século XXI –a vitória sobre a morte e a criação de uma vida artificial– pode vir a tornar supérflua a maior parte dos seres humanos. O autor antevê que os principais produtos da economia do século XXI não serão os têxteis, os veículos e as armas, mas os corpos, os cérebros e os espíritos. Assim, “depois de a revolução industrial ter criado a classe operária, a próxima grande revolução criará a classe inútil […] A democracia e o mercado livre afundar-se-ão quando Google e Facebook conseguirem conhecer-nos melhor do que nos conhecemos a nós próprios e quando o poder passar dos humanos para os algoritmos em rede. Os humanos não combaterão as máquinas; fusionarão com elas”.

É igualmente preocupante, para Harari, a ideia do regresso do fascismo e das ditaduras; estes regressarão, porém, sob uma forma nova que estará muito mais adaptada às realidades tecnológicas do século XXI. O autor observa que, antigamente, o território era o trunfo mais importante. Por conseguinte, a política centrava-se, então, na luta pelo seu controlo e a palavra ditadura significava que a totalidade do território pertencia a um só soberano ou a um pequeno oligarca. Mas, na época moderna, as máquinas suplantaram o território, pelo que “a política passou a ser sinónimo de luta pelo controlo das máquinas e a ditadura a significar que demasiadas máquinas se encontram concentradas nas mãos do governo ou de uma pequena elite. Hoje, os dados tanto substituíram o território como as máquinas e são eles que constituem o verdadeiro trunfo.” Harari conclui que “o maior perigo para a democracia liberal é o facto de a revolução das tecnologias da informação vir a tornar as ditaduras mais eficazes do que as democracias.” É esta a forma do novo mundo, acrescenta, e a distância que separa aqueles que sobem a bordo daqueles que permanecem no cais é maior do que aquela que separa os impérios industriais das tribus agrárias e maior até do que o fosso que separa o Homo Sapiens do Homem de Neanderthal. Esta será a próxima etapa da evolução. Isto é Homo Deus.

A onda espiritual mundial: requiem para a laicidade consumista ocidental?

Para se perceber melhor os meandros da realidade moderna de hoje, o profano inteligente não pode dispensar uma abordagem transversal e interdisciplinar baseada nas últimas tendências das ciências sociais e das neurociências sociais, em particular, que postulam que os humanos são essencialmente uma espécie social e não seres individualistas.[21]

A este respeito, Malek Bennabi[22] pode ser considerado um pioneiro relativamente aos seus pares ocidentais. A essência das suas ideias mais originais exprime-se no livro que publicou sobre a questão das ideias no mundo muçulmano.[23] Cogitando sobre o universo e o lugar do homem, Bennabi propõe uma análise exaustiva deslumbrante dentro de uma perspectiva histórica, teológica, filosófica e sociológica. Devemos-lhe a observação fundamental segundo a qual, “quando abandonado à sua solidão, o homem se sente assaltado por um sentimento de vazio cósmico. É a maneira de preencher este vazio que vai determinar a sua cultura e a sua civilização ou seja, os traços de carácter internos e externos da sua vocação histórica.” O pensador argelino considera que existem essencialmente duas maneiras de preencher o vazio: olhar para os pés e para a terra ou levantar os olhos até ao céu. O primeiro, é um olhar dominador, que deseja possuir e preencherá a solidão com coisas materiais. O segundo, é um olhar interrogador, que busca a verdade e povoará a solidão com ideias. Assim nascem, diz Bennabi, dois tipos de cultura: uma cultura do império com raízes técnicas e uma cultura da civilização com raízes éticas e metafísicas.

Bennabi observa, em seguida, que a falha deste dois tipos de civilização se explica pelo excesso de cada uma das suas essências ou seja, pelo excesso de materialismo no primeiro caso, e pelo excesso de misticismo no segundo. Foi o que se passou, por exemplo, com as civilizações islâmica e ocidental ao longo das respectivas trajectórias históricas. A civilização islâmica foi afastada do seu equilíbrio inicial e inexoravelmente empurrada para as mãos dos teólogos e dos místicos. Por sua vez, a adopção, por parte da civilização ocidental, de um materialismo imoderado, tanto capitalista como comunista, conduziu a uma destruição sistemática do tecido moral das suas sociedades, que aquela civilização acabaria por dominar totalmente deixando o mundo e a humanidade cada vez mais atolados em objectos.

Parecendo partilhar esta reflexão profunda de Bennabi, o autor indiano J.C. Kapur[24] advoga que o consumismo tem vindo a esvaziar a alma dos seus adeptos.  Ao reduzir os humanos ao estatuto de consumidores de objectos materiais, tornou possível todo o tipo de transgressões mediante a utilização de instrumentos de baixa cultura e, por conseguinte, o reforço do unicentralismo. O autor é da opinião de que, na busca de novas orientações, “a nossa salvação residirá no reconhecimento do facto de as imagens do consumismo projectadas conduzirem a um vazio moral, ético e espiritual, que constitui um obstáculo ao processo do desenvolvimento humano e à evolução.” Mais preocupante para Kapur é o facto de, com a implosão da União Soviética em 1991 e a mercantilização da economia do Estado que lhe sucedeu -a Rússia- as economias de mercado mundiais terem atingido um “consumismo protegido pelo armamento”, que conduz a um paradigma inaceitável, tanto do ponto de vista social como emocional e psíquico. Assim, qualquer tentativa de estruturação de uma nova “civilização imperial” com base nos parâmetros de uma sociedade mundial da informação, apenas pode ser de curta duração. Inevitavelmente, o autor levanta a questão essencial do ponto focal a atribuir à actividade humana: baseado no ganho material ou na busca eterna da verdadeira natureza do homem, em plena harmonia com as leis cósmicas?

Com efeito, durante mais de dois séculos, uma tradição de pensamento tenaz, que vai dos primeiros “positivistas” como Auguste Comte ou Friedrich Nietzsche aos “ateístas” contemporâneos como Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Bennett e Sam Harris, pressupôs que a modernização tornaria obsoletas todas as religiões e sonhou com um mundo livre, democrático, laico e materialmente superior, em que a razão e a ciência conduziriam a humanidade até um futuro radioso e feliz. O exemplo mais eloquente desta linha de pensamento é a declaração que o político francês Jean Jaurès fez num dos seus discursos, em 1903: “Se a própria ideia de Deus adquirisse uma forma palpável, se Deus se erguesse pessoalmente acima das multidões, o primeiro dever do homem seria recusar-lhe obediência, tratá-lo em pé de igualdade como alguém com quem se debate e não aceitá-lo como um mestre ao qual se deve submissão”.

 Os adeptos desta “nova religião” decretaram regularmente a morte da fé. Alguns chegaram ao ponto de proferir a “morte de Deus” e outros não hesitaram em discorrer sobre o “funeral de Deus”.[25] No mundo “ocidental”, até aos anos sessenta do século XX, a tendência para a secularização total parecia irreversível. Aconteceu indubitavelmente o mesmo na grande maioria dos países recentemente descolonizados do terceiro mundo. As suas classes dirigentes “ocidentalizadas” tudo fizeram para convencer os seus concidadãos de que a superioridade dos países “avançados” assenta nas ideias e nas instituições ocidentais, e esperaram aceder à modernidade adoptando pura e simplesmente as duas; o exemplo mais extremo é o da República da Turquia de Atatürk (o pai dos Turcos).

É, hoje, evidente que desapareceu quase completamente a convicção do fim da religião e do sentimento de espera maravilhosa ligada às virtudes supostamente intrínsecas do progresso tecnológico. E já não é possível, como sublinhou Pankaj Mishra, negar ou ocultar a realidade do abismo que separa “uma elite que açambarca os frutos mais apetitosos da modernidade e desdenha as verdades mais antigas, das massas desenraizadas que, ao descobrirem que foram enganadas a respeito desses mesmos frutos, se refugiam no supremacismo cultural, no populismo e no rancor violento.”[26]

Agora que as contradições e os custos elevados da visão de progresso desta minoria se tornaram visíveis à escala do globo, torna-se urgente adoptar um pensamento transformador e verdadeiramente salvador, na senda das ideias desenvolvidas por J.C. Kapur ou daquelas que foram debatidas por Deepak Chopra e Leonard Mlodinow no livro que escreveram.[27]

É útil recordar, a este propósito, que, numa entrevista concedida à revista Le Point em dezembro de 1975, o célebre romancista e ministro francês André Malraux negou ter declarado que “o século XXI será religioso (espiritual) ou não”, citação que lhe é frequentemente atribuída. É mais provável ter dito : “não excluo a possibilidade de um acontecimento espiritual à escala planetária”. Sob este aspecto, Malraux foi verdadeiramente profético pois quatro anos após aquela entrevista deu-se a revolução islâmica iraniana, que engendrou uma renovação excepcional do fervor religioso, nomeadamente no mundo muçulmano, embora a religião nunca tivesse deixado de desempenhar um papel preponderante no seu seio. Esta revolução representou, sem dúvida, a manifestação “local” mais notória e mais violenta da rejeição do “vazio espiritual global” que até àquela data caracterizara o mundo “pós-moderno”. Vigorosamente promovido pelo movimento das Luzes, este tipo de mundo foi fustigado com idêntica violência aquando da vaga de mudanças sociais e políticas tectónicas de Maio de 1968, que atravessou o continente europeu de lés a lés e começou precisamente na França de André Malraux.

A partir daqui, torna-se óbvio que o carácter “sagrado” do Estado profundamente secularizado, fruto das entranhas do tratado de Vestefália de 1648, tem vindo a desmoronar-se. Tal como acontece com todas as outras formas de organização política, o Estado-nação conheceu um período de ascensão, um ponto culminante, e está agora em declínio. Por conseguinte, e contrariamente ao que se previa ou esperava, para muitas pessoas no mundo, as religiões, longe de perderem o seu vigor, constituem o ponto de referência e de convergência mais sólido para ajudar a preencher o vazio ambiente e enfrentar a desordem e as incertezas do mundo actual.[28]

Segundo o autor de sucesso e erudito influente da religião, Rodney Stark, o mundo nunca foi tão religioso. Stark chegou a esta conclusão depois de ter sondado mais de um milhão de pessoas em 163 países. A partir dos dados coligidos conseguiu um quadro completo, que os especialistas da corrente dominante e os comentadores populares forem incapazes de restituir fielmente.[29] Seguramente, “Deus está de regresso”[30] –se é que alguma vez despareceu do cenário mundial– e qualquer pessoa que queira compreender correctamente a política do século XXI não O pode ignorar, quer acredite Nele ou não.

Perante esta constatação, um número crescente de sociólogos começou a considerar a necessidade de tentar compreender o comportamento religioso, em vez de o descreditar qualificando-o de irracional, de anacrónico ou de obstáculo ao progresso. Foi precisamente o que Rodney Stark e Roger Finke empreenderam com o seu livro[31], em que concluem ter chegado, indubitavelmente, “o momento de transportar o corpo mortal da doutrina da secularização até ao cemitério das teorias falhadas e de murmurar um requiescat in pace” (repousa em paz!).

Nascimento, declínio e renascença: argumento a favor de uma “civilização universal”

Muito antes de estes dois académicos californianos pronunciarem o seu requiem, o historiador britânico Arnolde Toynbee escreveu um estudo[32] em que sublinhava o facto histórico importante de as civilizações morrerem devido ao suicídio e não ao assassinato. Toynbee explica que as civilizações começam a desintegrar-se quando perdem a sua fibra moral e quando a sua elite se torna parasitária explorando as massas e criando um proletariado interno e externo. Toynbee argumenta que, ao tornar-se reaccionária, aquela “minoria criativa” acaba por tornar-se uma “elite dominante minoritária” incapaz de responder de modo criativo aos desafios existenciais.

No caso da civilização ocidental, Toynbee considera que a religião é o calcanhar de Aquiles e avisou que, embora a sua estrutura assente na tecnologia, “o homem não pode viver unicamente da tecnologia”. O autor observa também que a civilização ocidental se propagou como um fogo de floresta através do mundo sem, contudo, conseguir unificá-lo. Acabaria por ser apenas um fogo de palha, uma máquina sofisticada à qual arrancaram a peça essencial, a religião. Revelando uma perspicácia espantosa expressa numa bela prosa, Toynbee anteviu que “chegará o momento, quando a casa ecuménica tiver sido edificada em bases sólidas e quando tiver ruído a construção tecnológica temporária do Ocidente –sobre isso não tenho dúvidas–, em que se verificará que as fundações são firmes porque assentam na religião… e esta é, afinal, a questão de fundo da raça humana”.

Nos parágrafos seguintes, procuraremos explicar por que motivo e de que forma o domínio mundial da “civilização ocidental”, que tem 500 anos, está a chegar ao fim; um destino significativamente ilustrado pela auto-imolação do Ocidente durante o banho de sangue das duas guerras mundiais que provocou em trinta anos. Para tal, examinaremos os escritos de sete autores que influenciaram profundamente o pensamento do homem ocidental e de sete outros autores que anteciparam e alertaram para o crespúsculo iminente da predominância ocidental. Com efeito, aquilo que consideramos ser a base ética, social, económica e ideológica do pensamento ocidental foi, de longe, essencialmente forjada a partir das ideias contidas em sete obras de referência escritas desde o início do Renascimento europeu e a Idade das Luzes.

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Assim, no seu livro O Príncipe (1513), o italiano Nicolo Machiavelli descreve os métodos     –incluindo o engano deliberado, a hipocrisia e o perjúrio– que um príncipe aspirante pode utilizar para aceder ao trono ou um príncipe existente para preservar o seu reino. Por sua vez, no seu livro publicado em 1798, intitulado Essai sur le principe de population, o pastor inglês Thomas Robert Malthus afirmou que a população tem tendência para crescer mais rapidamente do que a produção de alimentos. Também postulou que o planeta seria incapaz de suportar mais de um bilhão de habitantes e advogou que a limitação do número de pobres seria o dispositivo de controlo populacional mais eficaz. O livro do inglês Charles Darwin, A origem das espécies, editado em 1859, desenvolveu uma teoria da evolução através da selecção natural e da noção de “sobrevivência do mais apto”, que pôs em causa as ideias da era vitoriana sobre o papel do homem no universo. O seu discípulo, o filósofo e sociólogo inglês Herbert Spencer, publicou Principles of Biology em 1864, em que transpôs a teoria de Darwin para o domínio da sociedade defendendo a ideia segundo a qual o mais forte ou o mais apto podia e devia dominar os pobres e os fracos que, por sua vez, deveriam desaparecer. Segundo esta linha de pensamento, certas raças (nomeadamente os protestantes europeus), certos indivíduos e certas nações tinham o direito de dominar os outros devido à sua “superioridade” dentro da ordem natural. O Capital, escrito em 1867 pelo alemão Karl Marx, é o texto teórico fundamental da filosofia, da economia e da política materialistas. Certos ensinamentos seus conduziram ao comunismo e causaram milhões de mortos na esperança (ou na utopia) de criar uma sociedade igualitária. No seu livro mais célebre Assim falou Zaratustra (redigido entre 1883 e 1885), o filósofo alemão Friedrich Nietzsche desenvolveu ideias como a do eterno retorno, a “morte de Deus” e a noção de “Übermensch” (super-homem) ou seja, o homem superior ideal do futuro susceptível de se elevar acima da moral cristã convencional para criar e impor os seus próprios valores. Por fim, as teorias do austríaco Siegmund Freud, embora sujeitas a numerosas críticas, tiveram uma influência enorme. O seu livro mais conhecido, O Mal-Estar na Civilização (1930), analisa aquilo que o autor considera ser as tensões fundamentais entre a civilização e o indivíduo. Segundo este livro, a fricção principal provém do facto de a busca imutável da liberdade instintiva do indivíduo (nomeadamente o desejo sexual) estar em contradição com aquilo que é o melhor para a sociedade (civilização) no seu todo. Por estas razões, são editadas leis que proibem e punem o assassínio, a violação e o adultério. O resultado é um sentimento de descontentamento permanente, que grassa entre os cidadãos desta civilização.

A mentalidade, a visão do mundo e o comportamento do homem ocidental foram, sem sombra de dúvida, consideravelmente influenciados pelos pressupostos dos “sete pecados capitais” que aquela literatura encarna, o que conduziu a calamidades, para o mundo, como o materialismo, o individualismo, o cientismo, a busca desenfreada do lucro, o nacionalismo, a supremacia racial, a vontade excessiva de poder, as guerras, a colonização, o imperialismo e, por fim, a decadência e o declínio civilizacionais. No seguimento deste processo irreversível e, sobretudo, do desmoronamento moral e dos custos humanos e materiais colossais que resultaram da Grande Guerra, os pensadores e os filósofos eminentes começaram a exprimir a sua inquietação face ao futuro declínio do Ocidente. Entre estes autores destacaremos sete, cujos livros argumentam que, embora o Ocidente esteja em declínio, ainda vai a tempo de atenuar ou até de inverter o processo.[33] Estes livros são: O declínio do Ocidente, de Oswald Spengler (1926); A civilização posta à prova, de Arnold Toynbee (1958); Ordem e História, de Eric Voegelin (1956-1987); O fim da História e o último homem, de Francis Fukuyama (1992); O choque das civilizações, de Samuel Huntington (1998) ; A civilização: o Ocidente e os outros, de Niall Ferguson (2012) ; e Decadência: vida e morte do judeo-cristianismo, de Michel Onfray (2017).[34]

Outro traço comum, declarado ou implícito, destes livros é a convicção de que “a civilização cristã ocidental” deve ser simultaneamente defendida contra a decadência interna e as ameaças externas, principalmente o Islão ou, pior, uma aliança entre as civilizações islâmica e chinesa. Este medo do Islão não é novo; encontra-se profundamente enraizado na psique ocidental. Hoje, contudo, é de tal forma exacerbado –por vezes, de maneira absurda[35]– que o debate sobre a ressurgência do Islão se encontra, quase sempre, inextricavelmente ligado ao do declínio da civilização ocidental.

Em 1948, o historiador inglês Arnold Toynbee observou[36] que a civilização ocidental tanto produziu um pleno económico e político como um vazio social e espiritual. Também declarou que, num futuro próximo, o Islão poderá vir a exercer uma influência preciosa sobre o “proletariado cosmopolita da sociedade ocidental, que lançou a sua rede sobre o mundo e abraçou toda a humanidade”. Tratando-se do futuro mais longínquo, especulou sobre “o contributo possível do Islão para uma nova manifestação da religião” e avisou que, “se a situação actual da humanidade se precipitar no sentido de uma ‘guerra racial’, o Islão poderá vir a desempenhar novamente o seu papel histórico. Absit omen”, aconselhando os Ocidentais, “que ainda estão mentalmente adormecidos, a perceber que o passado dos nossos vizinhos passará a ser uma parte vital do nosso futuro ocidental”.

Setenta anos depois, no seu livro controverso supracitado, o filósofo ateu francês Michel Onfray faz eco ao prognóstico de Toynbee sublinhando que a História é testemunha de que não existiu nenhuma civilização assente no ateísmo e no materialismo, que estes são ambos “sinais ou melhor, sintomas da decomposição de uma civilização”. Sei-o, diz o autor, “pois sou ateu e materialista… não se unem os homens sem o recurso ao sagrado”. Neste livro, Onfray anunciou a morte da tradição judaico-cristã, “que em breve será derrubada pelo Islão”, uma religião forte “de um exército planetário composto por inúmeros crentes prontos a morrer pela sua religião, por Deus e pelo seu Profeta”.

No que nos toca, abster-nos-emos deliberadamente de qualquer retórica do ódio e de malentendido mútuo sustentada por slogans igualmente controversos, ideologicamente carregados e perigosos como “choque das civilizações” ou “guerra das religiões”, por exemplo. Uma via alternativa bem melhor consistiria em procurar denominadores comuns entre todos os povos e todas as culturas, que convirjam para o objectivo da construção de uma paz e de uma segurança duradoiras, assim como para uma prosperidade partilhada no mundo globalizado e desorientado de hoje. Numa próxima análise, procuraremos explicar os motivos, as condições e as circunstâncias pelas quais o Islão se encontrará efectivamente em posição de responder ao apelo que lhe é lançado no sentido de tornar a desempenhar o seu “papel histórico”. Apenas o poderá fazer enquanto força motriz no seio de uma “aliança mundial das boas vontades” que aspire a construir uma verdadeira “civilização universal”. Bonum omen.

Amir Nour [1]

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Notas:

[1] Investigador argelino em relações internacionais e autor, nomeadamente, do livro L’Orient et l’Occident à l’heure d’un nouveau Sykes-Picot  (O Oriente e o Ocidente na hora de um novo Sykes-Picot), éditions Alem El Afkar, Abril 2014. A descarregar gratuitamente em formato PDF : 

http://www.mezghana.net/amir-nour.pdf (versão francesa) e 

http://www.mezghana.net/Sykes-Picot.jadeed-REAL.LAST.pdf (versão árabe).

[2] Albert Einstein, numa entrevista de Alfred Werner, Liberal Judaism, 16 Abril-Maio 1949, Einstein Archive 30-1104, The New Quotable Einstein por Alice Calaprice,2005, p. 173. 

[3] Consultar: http://news.un.org/en/story/2017/12/640812-un-chief-issues-red-alert-urges-world-come-together-2018-tackle-pressing 

[4] G. John Ikenberry, The Plot Against American Foreign Policy: Can the Liberal Order Survive?, Foreign Affairs, Maio/Junho 2017.

[5] Comentando o livro de Piketty Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Paul Krugman afirma: “Aquilo que o autor nos está a dizer é que caminhamos para uma sociedade com grandes desigualdades ou até para uma sociedade oligárquica […]. Estamos a transformar-nos no tipo de sociedade com a qual não imaginávamos sequer poder identificar-nos.”

[6] Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do about Them, 2015. 

[7] Oxfam, Working for the Few: Political Capture and Inequality, Document Information nº 178 de 20 de Janeiro de 2014. 

[8] Ler o relatório intitulado An economy for the 99%, 18 de Janeiro de 2016. 

[9] Chuck Collins e Josh Hoxie, Billionaire Bonanza 2017: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us.

[10] Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger, op. cit. 

[11] Gregg Easterbrook, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, 2004.

[12] Gregg Easterbrook, It’s Better than it Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear, Public Affairs, 2018.

[13] Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case of Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress, 2018.

[14] David Callahan, The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, 2004.

[15] Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger, op. cit.

[16] Noam Chomsky, Optimism over Despair: On Capitalism, Empire and Social Change, Penguin Books, 2017.

[17] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, Harper & Row Publishers, 1985.

[18] Franklin Foer, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, Penguin Press, 2017.

[19] Ler o artigo de John Gertner, “Are Tech Giants Robbing Us for Our Decision-making and Our Individuality?”, The Washington Post, 6 de Outubro de 2017. 

[20] Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harvill Secker, 2014 e Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Harper, 2017. 

[21] Ler a análise de J.T. Cacioppo e J. Decety, “Social Neuroscience: Challenges and Opportunities in the Study of Complex Behaviour”, em Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 2224, 2011.

[22] Malek Bennabi (1905-1973) é conhecido, nomeadamente por ter  forjado os conceitos de “colonizabilidade” e de “mundialismo”.

[23] Malek Bennabi, Le problème des idées dans le monde musulman, 1970.

[24] J.C. Kapur, Our Future: Consumerism or Humanism, Kapur Surya Foundation, New Delhi, 2005.

[25] Andrew Norman Wilson, God’s Funeral: The Decline of Faith in Western Civilization, W.W. Norton, 1999. 

[26] Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger, op. cit. 

[27] Deepak Chopra e Leonard Mlodinow, War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality, 2011.

[28] Manlio Graziano, Holy Wars and Holy Alliance: The Return of Religion to the Global Political Stage, Columbia University Press, 2017.

[29] Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Faith: Why the World is More Religious than Ever, ISI Books, 2015. 

[30] Para mais informações sobre esta questão, ler: D. Hamer, The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes, 2004; J. Micklethwait e A. Woolridge, God is Black: How the Global Rise do Faith is Changing the World, 2009; M. Duffy Toft, D. Philpott e T. Samuel Shah, God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics, 2011.

[31] Rodney Stark e Roger Finke, Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion, 2000.

[32] Arnold Toynbee, Civilization on Trial, Oxford University Press, New York, 1948.

[33] Emanuel L. Paparella, Is Western Civilization Doomed? A review Essay, Modern Diplomacy, Out. 20, 2015.

[34] Publicado na Flammarion em 2017.

[35] Ler o artigo darwiniano de Mike Adam, The Coming Collapse of Western Civilization: The Shocking Reason Why Liberal Americans Are Weak, But Islamic Soldiers Are Strong, 30 de Setembro de 2016.

[36] Arnold Toynbee, Civilization on Trial (traduzido para francês com o título La civilisation à l’épreuve), Oxford University Press, New York, 1948.

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Rand Corp: come abbattere la Russia

May 21st, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

Costringere l’avversario a estendersi eccessivamente per sbilanciarlo e abbatterlo: non è una mossa di judo ma il piano contro la Russia elaborato dalla Rand Corporation, il più influente think tank Usa che, con uno staff di migliaia di esperti, si presenta come la più affidabile fonte mondiale di intelligence e analisi politica per i governanti degli Stati uniti e i loro alleati. La Rand Corp. si vanta di aver contribuito a elaborare la strategia a lungo termine che permise agli Stati uniti di uscire vincitori dalla guerra fredda, costringendo l’Unione Sovietica a consumare le proprie risorse economiche nel confronto strategico. A questo modello si ispira il nuovo piano, Overextending and Unbalancing Russia, pubblicato dalla Rand.

Secondo i suoi analisti, la Russia resta un potente competitore degli Stati uniti in alcuni campi fondamentali. Per questo gli Usa devono perseguire, insieme ai loro alleati, una strategia complessiva a lungo termine che sfrutti le sue vulnerabilità. Vengono quindi analizzati vari modi per costringere la Russia a sbilanciarsi, indicando per ciascuno le probabilità di successo, i benefici, i costi e rischi per gli Usa. Gli analisti della Rand ritengono che la maggiore vulnerabilità della Russia sia quella economica, dovuta alla sua forte dipendenza dall’export di petrolio e gas, i cui introiti possono essere ridotti appesantendo le sanzioni e accrescendo l’export energetico Usa. Si deve far sì che l’Europa diminuisca l’importazione di gas naturale russo, sostituendolo con gas naturale liquefatto trasportato via mare da altri paesi. Un altro modo per danneggiare nel tempo l’economia della Russia è quello di incoraggiare l’emigrazione di personale qualificato, in particolare giovani russi con un alto grado di istruzione. In campo ideologico e informativo, occorre incoraggiare le proteste interne e allo stesso tempo minare l’immagine della Russia all’esterno, espellendola da forum internazionali e boicottando gli eventi sportivi internazionali che essa organizza.

In campo geopolitico, armare l’Ucraina permette agli Usa di sfruttare il punto di maggiore vulnerabilità esterna della Russia, ma ciò deve essere calibrato per tenere la Russia sotto pressione senza arrivare a un grande conflitto in cui essa avrebbe la meglio.

In campo militare gli Usa possono avere alti benefici, con bassi costi e rischi, dall’accrescimento delle forze terrestri dei paesi europei della Nato in funzione anti-Russia. Gli Usa possono avere alte probabilità di successo e alti benefici, con rischi moderati, soprattutto investendo maggiormente in bombardieri strategici e missili da attacco a lungo raggio diretti contro la Russia. Uscire dal Trattato Inf e schierare in Europa nuovi missili nucleari a raggio intermedio puntati sulla Russia assicura loro alte probabilità di successo, ma comporta anche alti rischi.

Calibrando ogni opzione per ottenere l’effetto desiderato – concludono gli analisti della Rand – la Russia finirà col pagare il prezzo più alto nel confronto con gli Usa, ma anche questi dovranno investire grosse risorse sottraendole ad altri scopi. Preannunciano così un ulteriore forte aumento della spesa militare Usa/Nato a scapito delle spese sociali.

Questo è il futuro che ci prospetta la Rand Corporation, il più influente think tank dello Stato profondo, ossia del centro sotterraneo del potere reale detenuto dalle oligarchie economiche, finanziarie e militari, quello che determina le scelte strategiche non solo degli Usa ma dell’intero Occidente. Le «opzioni» previste dal piano sono in realtà solo varianti della stessa strategia di guerra, il cui prezzo in termini di sacrifici e rischi viene pagato da tutti noi.

Manlio Dinucci

 

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A future without independent media leaves us with an upside down reality where according to the corporate media “NATO deserves a Nobel Peace Prize”, and where “nuclear weapons and wars make us safer”.

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Breaking: Federal Judge Orders Release of Trump’s Tax Returns

By Stephen Lendman, May 21, 2019

On May 10, House Dem Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig to release Trump’s personal tax returns for the 2013-18 period, along with other returns for several of his businesses.

Israel’s War Criminals in Their Own Words

By Philip Giraldi, May 21, 2019

Israel’s government favors its Jewish citizens through laws and regulations that are defined by religion. It in fact now identifies itself legally as a Jewish state with Christians and Muslim citizens having second class status.

USAF Paints F-16 Jet with Russian Color Scheme for ‘Training Purposes’

By Zero Hedge, May 21, 2019

The new color scheme was chosen through a crowdsourced competition on the 57th Wing Commander Brigadier General Robert Novotny‘s Facebook page, with followers submitting many sophisticated designs and voting on each one, ending with the winning design: a Russian stealth jet color scheme.

Backlash in US-China Trade War. China Defies Sanctions against Iran, Resumes Purchase of Iran Oil

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, May 21, 2019

The trade war and the Iran sanctions regime are intimately related. Trump’s tariff announcement was two weeks after the US administration’s resolve  to “push Iran’s oil and gas revenues to Zero”.

A China Food Crisis More Dangerous than Trade War? The African Swine Fever (ASF) Outbreak

By F. William Engdahl, May 21, 2019

China faces a threat to its agriculture that could do far more damage to her political stability and economy than the escalating USA tariff war. In recent months cases of deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) among the pig population of the world’s largest pig producer have forced drastic killing off of the pig population since cases were first detected last August.

How to Survive the Journey Ahead: A Graduation Message for a Terrifying Age

By John W. Whitehead, May 21, 2019

They will find themselves overtaxed, burdened with excessive college debt, and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state.

Illusory Freedoms

By Prof. Yakov M. Rabkin, May 21, 2019

There must be other instances of ready compliance of corporations with the wishes of Western governments in the absence of court injunctions. This readiness brings to light an obvious but often neglected fact, namely that seemingly neutral and transnational services we use every day belong to Western corporations.

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Challenging Orthodoxies: Alabama’s Anti-Abortion Law

May 21st, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It seems like a grand ploy of massive distraction.  On the surface, the move by Alabama to place the most onerous restrictions on the granting of an abortion has become a lighting-rod of conviction for Democrat agitators.  And not just them.

The fear, and one with suggestive implication, is that various legislatures are paving the way to push Roe v Wade into the domain of a Supreme Court so conservative it is being touted as reactionary.  Colorado lawmakers, earlier this year, made a similar attempt to pass a bill banning elective abortions every bit as nasty as the Alabama version. The feeling is that the 1973 decision will be terminated in the name of foetus worship taking way the injunction against states from interfering in a woman’s right to an abortion within the first trimester.

Roe was never, in truth, such a radical innovation in the field of social reform.  It, for one, heavily circumscribes the way choice operates for a woman in terms of her relationship with the foetus.  It’s celebration of a woman’s autonomy leaves the designation of how it is used, not in the hands of the carrier, but the Supreme Court.

What certain stone throwing conservatives have repeatedly disliked about it is that the decision was reformist at all. “Roe,” tut tuts Rich Lowry of the National Review, “is judicially wrought social legislation pretending to the status of constitutional law.” It was a product of such judicial activism that produced the Miranda and Griswold cases, “as much a highhanded attempt to impose a settlement on a hotly contested political question as the abhorrent Dred Scott decision denying the rights of blacks.”

Lowry’s swipe belies the broader problem facing anti-abortion advocates, many of whom simply think that the legislators in that good red state have lost the plot.  The Alabama move is being seen on the part of some on the right as too extreme, painting advocates who favour limiting abortion into a narrow, extreme corner.  In the words of conservative pundit Jonathan V. Last, having such a law was the very counter-reproductive thing the movement feared, “the most damaging development to the pro-life movement in decades.”

HB314 is a heavy artillery shell for the anti-abortion movement, reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony. The implication of this is gruesome enough: those found guilty of falling foul of the law, notably those providing such services, may spend up to 99 years in prison.

Alabama governor, Kay Ivey, ennobled bill HB314 with words mindful of the great Sky God that continues to mark significant stretches of US political thought. (In Freedom’s Land, the unseen and unknowable have traditional anti-democratic tendencies.)

“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

HB314’s sponsor, Rep Terry Collins, was attempting to be more pragmatic in a political sense, claiming that HB314 was part of the grand plan to subvert and ultimately sink Roe v Wade.

The media presses in Alabama have been filled with pungent responses, many indignant, others glazing in their holy reflection.  A Guest Voices segment for AL.com, part of the Alabama Media Group, made rich reading.  Rene Washington of Birmingham refused to accept the anti-abortion rights law as one of protecting life.

“The abysmal statistics on children’s health and welfare prove that.”

The ban was a traditional, based on old issues of control, be they “religious, patriarchal and cultural.”

Savannah Crabtree, keen to remind us of her age (23 years old), wrote of having a uterus and living in the state of Alabama.

“And I am scared.”  A troubled Crabtree was puzzled that the governor had expressed no reservation, racing the bill into law. “I hoped that maybe, because she is a woman, she’d empathize with a 12-year-old rape victim seeking an abortion more so than the 25 men who voted on the bill in the Senate did.”

The worriers and activists have come out.

“This,” laments Democratic strategist Jess McIntosh, “is the endgame of many years chipping away at our freedoms.”

For McIntosh, a tyrannical instinct is finally being played out in US jurisprudence – a play, as it were, to alter the court’s reformist agenda.

“They’ve waited for the moment they believed the courts would overturn precedent and go against the overwhelming will of the people.”

For a strategist, McIntosh is far from sharp.  (She did work for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.)  The Alabama law, along with any aspiring facsimiles, risks falling at the first hurdle, given that an appellate court is bound to give defenders of the bill a good going over.  The issue of placing “undue burdens” on a woman’s access to abortion services would come into play.  As Kim Wehle explains,

the Alabama law is “by any stretch” an “undue burden” because it entails no abortions except in instances where the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly” in order “to avoid serious risk to the unborn child’s mother” or in instances of “ectopic pregnancies” (where the fertilized egg finds itself implanted outside the uterus, often in fallopian tubes which might burst causing bleeding, infection and death to the mother).

Keeping the Democrats noisily busy is a Trump tactic, and he has kept markedly reticent on not wishing to push views on the Alabama move.  A tweet re-iterated his stance as being “strongly pro-life, with three exceptions – rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother.”  It was, he suggested, “the same position taken by Ronald Reagan.”  Similar exceptions can be found in thirty-three states and the District Colombia, which allow funding for the tripartite list of exceptions.  A range of superstitions dot the legislative provisions of other states: five, for instance, demand that women be counselled on a claimed link between abortion and breast cancer, one firmly lodged in the realm of fantasy.

Alabama’s HB314, however, in its crudely blanket application, leaves minimal room for exceptions.  It is savagely onerous, even for conservatives.  The wheels may well be in motion for certain brands of foetus defenders, but citizens with uteri can well be comforted that they will move in retarded fashion.

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

The official investigation into Russian collusion is over, after three harrowing, nerve-wracking years. I kid, of course. After endless news cycles, and various non-stories and wild-goose chases disseminated by mainstream media, one would think the country could move on. Yet this hasn’t been the case. It seems pretty straightforward: delusions about Russia continue because they serve empire.

Most serious people who have not had their brains parasitized by the ridiculous hand-wringing and caterwauling of mainstream media pundits understood Russiagate for what it was: a bunch of half-baked allegations against obviously corrupt yet incompetent stooges of the Trump campaign and administration, cobbled together to appear as some sinister, shadowy plot against America. That does not mean that Donald Trump is not a repugnant, amoral, serial liar who would do anything within his power to engage in damage control in regards to the behavior of his corrupt and incompetent lackeys, as well as himself. It simply means, in regards to collusion, there is no there, there.

Examine nearly any foundational element of the alleged Trump-Putin collusion fairy tale and it falls apart immediately. When Donald Trump acts illegally, as he has in the past with various real estate scams, he does it out in the open, in full view. He does not seem to have the mental capacities to collude and conspire, he is simply a billionaire: he gives orders, even if often he does not have to state them openly, as Michael Cohen told us, and he gets what he wants. Partially this is why liberals vilify him so much, obviously: he has removed the curtains of empire to show how things are really run, how white supremacy and unchecked greed and corruption has always been at the core of US hegemony.

Moreover, I do not see anyone even in alternative media circles asking about Russia’s side of the equation. Would Vladimir Putin look at the pro-con, cost-benefit analysis of conspiring with a clown such as Trump and determine, let’s do this? I would say probably not. What would the endgame be? Would Trump pull out of NATO, would Trump give his tacit approval of the transfer of Crimea, or even attempt to thaw relations concerning Ukraine? Hell no. These are liberal fantasies: demented, fevered nightmares of the national security state falling apart at the hands of an ignoramus. US imperial rule does not allow for any significant aberrations in foreign policy, regardless of who is president.

To some degree, US imperial policy is on rails, and who is in charge simply doesn’t matter. Presidents are puppets, figureheads. Putin must understand this on some level. Although to an extent post-Soviet Russia has been seeking approval from the West, and forming tacit alignments with such basket cases as Orban’s Hungary, as well as becoming more engaged with other xenophobic nationalist-populists in Europe, the Kremlin simply does not vitally need US approval. It may, however, broach certain topics in specific policy areas where overlapping interests are well-established.

The costs of Russia getting caught by actually concretely, materially, and intellectually conspiring with any incoming US administration (by setting the entire US on wild Neo-McCarthyite witch-hunts and restarting a New Cold War, which is essentially what has happened anyways without any collusion) would vastly outweigh the benefits.

I mean, come on, the Steele document, Wikileaks being pawns of the Russians, a handful of Facebook ads having any significant effect on election results? It’s frankly ridiculous that these fabricated fairy tales could send any rational group of people into an investigative furor. It’s even more absurd considering, frankly, that probably lots of corporate leaders, Democratic “elite” consultants, spooks at Langley, national security “experts”, and political operatives were taking a look at this 3rd-rate paperback fiction before any investigation was launched, and deciding, yes, let’s go with this.

What it does seem to mean, and what hardly anyone wants to admit, is that this steaming pile of horseshit was in fact concocted by our intelligence agencies (and possibly at the behest of the Clintons’ networks within the national security state to avert eyes from the Clinton Foundation scandal) to help  to distract, divide, and hypnotize the public. This is what is called a disinformation campaign/psychological operation, a “psy-op”.

Every media story devoted to the Russiagate hoax takes away from any and all of the failed policies and spinelessness of the Democrats. It also benefits conservatives and elite corporate interests as well, because there is less time to cover things like global warming, militarism, increasing income inequality, Trump’s deregulations which have gutted federal agencies, etc.

The hypocrisy is astounding, and the analysis is completely ahistorical, considering the nefarious meddling, subterfuge, coups, and death the US has doled out for decades by interfering in overseas elections. Not to mention the assassinations, funding death squads, the massacres and genocides committed in the wake of US covert foreign policy. There is no existent US democracy to interfere in.

If you’re biting on the “Russian hackers” and “Russian spies” nonsense, well, there’s not much hope for you either. It is well within the possibilities of many intelligence agencies to fake an attack or make digital signatures appear to be coming from other countries. As for whether any of these so-called Russian “agents” actually has any significant influence in the Kremlin hierarchy, it is pure speculation. From an examination of the Mueller report, which is all we can do with all the redacted evidence, it appears many of these shadowy Russian figures are marginal figures, and/or are simply sponges and spivs vying for a wee bit of influence in Moscow, rather than member of some deep-cover GRU operation.

The vast majority of citizens understand that Hillary Clinton lost because of her hubris, her frigid personality, and, most obviously, her stupidity as she failed to campaign in key battleground states.

Further, if we are asking questions as to what countries influence our elections, the obvious answers would have to be NATO allies and Israel. Even Bill Clinton faced charges of election subterfuge due to his supposed backing from Chinese money.

Hands down, you can pretty much guarantee that Cambridge Analytica, Facebook’s and Youtube’s own algorithms which favor sensationalist and hateful content, and probably a host of other unknown shady corporations influenced the election far more than Russia could have. I can guarantee that Russiagate has been the biggest boon for cybersecurity, surveillance, and counter-terror corporations since 9/11.

Another point is the issue of “back-channels” from the Trump campaign and transition teams to the Putin administration. As if nearly every leader of a sovereign nation does not establish back-channels with other allies and enemies (see: Nixon to China, among many examples), simply because national leaders have enemies within their own government who will leak or sabotage any efforts at dialogue, whether they are corrupt or not.

How naïve does one have to be to recoil in shock at the notion that the most powerful governments in the world establish diplomatic back-channels with shady, corrupt officials and spies?

If you want to open the book on political corruption, you will probably find every member of Congress, every high-level member in State and Defense, every Cabinet member and their top-tier underlings, every senior financial person at Treasury and the Fed have conflicts of interests if they are not openly taking bribes, stock buybacks, or whizzing in and out of corporate positions (the “revolving door” phenomenon) to deregulate and consult for the industries which stand to benefit from the wanton dismemberment of our regulatory agencies.

The elites are not honest in public, but I’d assume most of them are self-aware enough to realize what they are doing occurs in a legal gray area, if not being outright criminal. The liberal and some “never Trump” and “principled” conservative media, however, cannot even be bothered to reflect on whose interests are being served by pandering to the national security state. These mainstream journalists have managed to rehabilitate the image of our abhorrent domestic and foreign security and intelligence agencies.

When your beliefs align with those who support US Empire, you might want to critically question them. There was absolutely no “objective” reporting (an abstract fantasy these hacks hang their hats on) regarding alleged election interference in mainstream sources. What almost certainly happened was that key figures in DC, whether politicians, technocrats, or intelligence assets or agents fed running lies to their puppet mouthpieces such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc.

Elite interests threw chum in the water and watched as the mainstream journalist feeding frenzy ensued. Not only did they take the bait hook, line, and sinker; there were no internal checks among news agencies about the origins of the hogwash theories they disseminated.

If one hazards to take a best guess as to where this all originated, it’s as simple as three letters: C-I-A. US intelligence involvement in concocting the collusion yarn is conspicuously absent in media analysis, a telling omission.

The psychology of this nonsense is interesting insofar as it reveals deep-rooted liberal tendencies: rather than engaging in self-reflection as to the reasons of Clinton’s loss, Trump’s victory can only be an aberration. In this dream-world impeachment is always on the horizon, and America can undergo a return to normalcy by replacing Trump with a “rational”, neoliberal democratic centrist.

The denialism of mainstream liberals knows no bounds and we should not be hesitant to laugh at the ridiculousness of allegations of Russian hacking and collusion. What might also be helpful is to remind the chattering classes that their thoughts are not their own. By examining the historical and material forces at play, one is forced to confront the facts that only very elite interests in the military-industrial complex could be responsible for stringing along our compliant media for so long.

Again, every multinational corporation, every authoritarian government agency, every arms dealer, fossil fuel emitter, financial speculator, agribusiness corporation, medical and insurance company, as well as the FBI, CIA, and our vast imperial apparatus stood to benefit as mainstream media devoted so much time, energy, and bandwidth towards such a ridiculous, divisive, and painfully obvious intelligence disinformation ploy.

That, in fact, may have been the point, and the initial culprits in the US security state may never be found. Nor does the Russiagate hoax require any specific people directing the media. The deviousness of our system is that it does not need individual conspirators. To paraphrase Gore Vidal: “There is no need for the elite to conspire. They all think the same.” The system vomits forth new idiotic post-truth narratives on both liberal and conservative sides to sooth frayed nerves by offering palliatives to those frightened by resurgent racist and nationalist tendencies, and to satiate a public beholden to spectacle. Rather than trying to untangle the contradictions and travesties inherent to capitalism and empire, any fairy tale will do. No one can seem to figure out who is responsible for our nation’s slow collapse, and there can’t be a public reckoning for whoever was disseminating this collusion nonsense either, because the national security state is cowardly and faceless. Empire and capitalism cannot bear to have their true faces unmasked.

The faceless people behind the scenes are not heroic American spy-warriors or clever, righteous assassins we see portrayed in popular TV, movies, video games, etc. Nor does any real power reside in the “Russian hacker”, a classic case of US projection (Stuxnet anyone?). What the stereotype does play into is a racist and absurd caricature of seedy Slavic programmers deviously plotting to destroy democracy in America from troll-farms in St. Petersburg.

The real faceless people of today are khaki-wearing doofuses overseeing server farms in Northern Virginia, the uniformed killers wandering the corridors of the Pentagon E-ring whose schemes lead to genocide abroad, free market-worshipping chauvinist tech-bros in Silicon Valley constructing our ever-surveilled digital hellscape who mine the need for human connection and community for profit, diplomat dilettantes plotting coups in US embassies which increasingly resemble bunkers, the stuffed-suit lawyers and financial parasites who plunder whole continents and construct tax havens for the super-rich, and the anonymous shareholders, CEOs, and owners of nesting-doll conglomerates which oversee trillions of dollars stolen from workers and direct trillions more from public treasuries.

Russiagate will continue on to provide cover for ruling class criminality. It functions in US political discourse to evade the examination of capital’s true nature, to lead down blind alleyways in the long tradition of America’s “paranoid style”. As the climate crisis intensifies, as the rising tides of authoritarianism destroy lives and sap energy from ordinary workers and citizens, the simulation of democracy must be maintained at all costs. What better way than for the elites to distract and confuse the public, remain in the shadows, and feign responsibility for their crimes against the planet and humanity than to foment unrest between the two leading nuclear powers, simultaneously enrage and anesthetize the public with a feel-good story about a former FBI director taking down a President, and shift away public attention from the imperial paroxysms of violence erupting all over the globe?

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William Hawes is an independent journalist who specializes in world politics and environmental issues. His work has appeared online at Global Research, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Countercurrents.org, and many other outlets. Visit his website at williamhawes.wordpress.com. Check out his ebook- Planetary Vision: Essays on Freedom and Empire. You can contact him at [email protected]

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate, said she doesn’t buy reports saying Iran poses a new threat to U.S. personnel in Iraq in an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week.”

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GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You resigned your DNC post back in 2016 because you thought Hillary Clinton had a hawkish interventionist foreign policy. Does that apply to her colleague in the Obama administration, former Vice President Biden?

REP. TULSI GABBARD: We’ll see what Vice President Biden’s foreign policy vision is for this country. We may agree on some issues, disagree on others. The problem that I have seen is that across both Democrat and Republican administrations, and especially in this Trump administration where, right now, he is leading us down this dangerous path towards a war with Iran …

STEPHANOPOULOS: He says he doesn’t want it.

GABBARD: He says he doesn’t want it but the actions of him and his administration, people like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, tell us a very different story. They are setting the stage for a war with Iran that would prove to be far more costly, far more devastating and dangerous than anything that we saw in the Iraq war, a war that I served in a medical unit where every single day I saw firsthand the high human cost of war.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of the actions they took this week was evacuating, as you know, our diplomatic posts in Iraq because they were concerned, based on the intelligence, that Iran may be looking to strike U.S. interests. You don’t buy it?

GABBARD: I don’t. You know, we heard conflicting stories coming from the British commander who is the co-commander of the fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda there in Iraq and Syria saying, hey, he hadn’t seen an escalation of tensions or threats coming from these Iraqi – or these Shia militias serving in Iraq. I think what we’re seeing, unfortunately, is what looks a lot like people in the Trump administration trying to create a pretext or an excuse for us to go to war against Iran, a war that would actually undermine our national security, cost us countless American lives, cost civilian lives across the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis in Europe, and it would actually make us less safe by strengthening terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

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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!)

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.

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

Dueling Agendas: Russia and China v. the US

May 21st, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Sino/Russian and US geopolitical agendas are world’s apart. Together with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi last week, Sergey Lavrov said the following:

“(O)ur foreign policy cooperation…is a stabilizing factor in world affairs. Russia and China consistently advocate a more just, democratic and polycentric world arrangement based on the principles of the UN Charter.”

“We expressed zero tolerance for any attempt to destroy the architecture of international security based on the results of World War II, to undermine strategic stability and replace the standards of international law, including the UN Charter, with arbitrary rules.”

“We also find unacceptable any attempt to circumvent WTO standards” so the hegemonic aims of one nation can prevail over others.

Both nations affirm the rights of Venezuelans, Iranians, North Koreans, Afghans, Syrians, and citizens of other states to decide the future of their countries, including their leadership, free from from foreign interference as mandated by UN Charter principles.

“(T)here is no alternative to maintain(ing) the territorial integrity of Syria,” as affirmed by SC Res. 2254, Lavrov stressed.

The JCPOA Iran nuclear deal is inviolable international law Russia and China firmly support. Both foreign ministers slammed the Trump regime’s unlawful pullout and “illegitimate nature of (its) unilateral anti-Iran sanctions aimed, in particular, at stopping oil exports from Iran.”

On Sunday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it’s hard dealing with the US because its position “on many issues is subject to swift changes,” adding:

“Hardy anyone will have the guts to make forecasts regarding the future of our bilateral relations” given the way the US operates, by its own rules exclusively, adding:

Trump saying “getting along (with Russia is) a good thing, not a bad thing” is meaningless when “imposing additional (unlawful) sanctions,” along with “ignoring (Moscow’s) interests. It should mean something different.”

US hegemonic aims make normalized relations with Russia and other sovereign independent nations unattainable.

They’re polar opposite what’s vital for world peace and stability. The US seeks dominance over other nations, demanding they bend to its will, doing whatever it takes to achieve its objectives, naked aggression and other unlawful hostile actions its favored strategies.

On Sunday, Trump sounded like Pompeo and Bolton tweeting:

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Iran considers his bombastic threats empty posturing, the more often made, the less credibility they have.

In response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier saying US confrontation with the Islamic Republic would be “the mother of all (regional) wars,” Trump shot back tweeting:

“To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

Attacking Iran would be madness, what cool heads in Washington understand. The same goes for Pentagon commanders, knowing war on Iran will be tougher than any previous conflict since the US defeat in Vietnam.

According to political analyst Ariane Tabatabai, Trump’s aggressive Sunday tweet “undermines (his) efforts to reach the Iranian people,” adding:

“Threatening not just war but ‘the official end of Iran’ taps into deeply and historically rooted anxieties in Iran. Far from leading Iranians to oppose their leaders, it’ll rally them around the flag…(further) cement(ing) distrust of (and anger toward) the US.”

Conservative commentator/Pompeo/Bolton critic Daniel Larison agreed, saying “Trump’s rhetoric is aimed at appealing to his domestic supporters, so he doesn’t think about or care how it sounds to the targeted (nation), but my guess is that the Iranian government will take this as additional proof that there is no point in talking to the US while (he’s) in charge.”

His rhetorical toughness mimics Pompeo and Bolton, opposed by the international community, firmly against war on Iran or Venezuela.

The Trump regime’s trade war with China risks pushing the global economy into recession if it continues months longer and escalates further than already.

The wrongheaded policy is doomed to fail. China clearly won’t be cowed into accepting what undermines its longterm developmental objectives.

On Monday, Xinhua accused the Trump regime of “recklessly rais(ing) tariffs on Chinese goods, unilaterally escalating trade disputes, and…restrict(ing) (tech giant) Chinese Huawei from doing business in the United States” by blacklisting the company and its affiliates, adding:

“(T)he US trick of exerting extreme pressure to deter China won’t work. (Its policy) will only make China stronger.”

The so-called threat of its technology is its ability to compete effectively against corporate American, notably Huawei’s 5G and other technological superiority over over US and other Western telecom companies, along with the expertise of its other tech companies.

China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria won’t bow to unacceptable US demands.

The harder the US pushes, the greater the risk of global war by accident or design.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

On May 10, House Dem Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig to release Trump’s personal tax returns for the 2013-18 period, along with other returns for several of his businesses.

The move followed Mnuchin’s refusal to voluntarily comply with the House request, claiming it was politically motivated.

According to 1924 US legislation, the House and Senate Joint Committee on Taxation may request for examination anyone’s personal tax information.

Federal law also requires  candidates for federal office, as well as current office holders and their senior staff — including congressional members, the president and vice president, along with their cabinet members, and senior administration staff — to comply with provisions of the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. It applies to Supreme Court justices as well.

They’re required to file annual disclosures of their personal finances, including amounts and sources of earned and unearned income, assets, relevant transactions (like purchases or sales of property or other assets), liabilities, honoraria received for speeches or other activities (only allowed if donated to charity while in office), gifts received, book deals, reimbursed travel expenses, non-government positions held, and whatever relates to the above.

The same obligation holds for spouses and dependent children. In my judgment, the above requirements include full disclosure of federal income tax returns as requested by Congress which Trump refused to comply with.

Before taking office, it’s standard practice for incoming US presidents to either divest from financial and related holdings or place them in a blind trust to have no say over how they’re managed.

Trump did neither, instead placing his adult children in charge of his financial and business interests, arguably a violation of the Ethics in Government Act by keeping himself informed (and maybe personally involved) in how his monied interests are managed.

On Monday, US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amit Mehta ruled against Trump’s lawsuit to block a House subpoena, ordering release of his personal and business tax returns as explained above, saying:

“The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States,” adding:

“But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail.”

It’s not for the court to decide if the Dem-controlled House subpoena was “motivated by political considerations.”

“(T)he balance of equities and the public interest weigh heavily in favor of denying relief (to litigant Trump). The risk of irreparable harm does not outweigh these other factors. The court, therefore, will not stay the return date of the subpoena beyond the seven days agreed upon by the parties.”

Trump almost surely will appeal the ruling, aiming to delay resolution of this issue until after the 2020 presidential election so whatever information may be disclosed won’t politically damage him as a lame duck head of state.

If Republicans retake control of the House and maintain Senate control, the lawsuit for his tax returns no doubt will be dropped.

As of now, a lengthy legal fight will continue, likely heading for Supreme Court resolution. If it rules against Trump before November 2020, and his returns contain politically damaging information, it could greatly jeopardize his reelection, making him a one-term president.

Given the potential stakes for this politically charged issue, the High Court could call for both sides to compromise if the case goes this far, perhaps not wanting to come down on one side against the other.

On the other hand, the Court’s right-wing majority could rule for Trump. Throughout High Court history, disturbing rulings were handed down time and again.

International, constitutional, and US statute laws are inviolable, yet High Court justices interpret them as they wish. Numerous disturbing rulings include:

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) ruled black slaves and their descendants had no constitutional rights.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) affirmed segregation in public places.

Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886) granted corporations personhood under the 14th Amendment with all rights and privileges but none of the obligations — in my judgment, the most disturbing ruling in Supreme Court history.

Korematsu v. United States (1944) ordered internment of Japanese Americans during WW II — despite no threat posed by the affected individuals.

Bush v. Gore (2000) overrode the order for a presidential vote recount by Florida’s Supreme Court and annulled the popular vote favoring Gore, installing Bush as president — one of many examples of the farcical money controlled US electoral process.

How the Court rules on Dems v. Trump remains to be seen if things go this far.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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All the Times John Bolton Called for War with Iran

May 21st, 2019 by Darius Shahtahmasebi

This article was originally published in 2018

The fact that Donald Trump’s recent hawkish stance on the Syrian government coincided with John Bolton’s first day as national security advisor is most likely no accident. Syria and Iran have been bound by a mutual defense treaty for some time, and there are a significant number of Iranian military advisors and Iranian-supported militia on the ground in Syria for that very reason.

People like Bolton know this all too well, which is why Syria was targeted so heavily for regime change in the first place. This is from the Hillary Clinton email archives:

“Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about — but cannot talk about — is losing their nuclear monopoly…Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.” [emphasis added]

Bolton, who can boast on his illustrious political CV his overwhelming support for the invasion of Iraq, wants to see done to Iran what he proudly advocated for in Iraq.

In 2015, Bolton wrote a New York Times op-ed entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” In this article, Bolton makes it quite clear that “only military action” could accomplish what is required to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Never mind that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) formed in 2015 has been working to curb any international fears of an Iranian nuclear program. Both the Trump administration and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have found that Iran has been compliant with the terms of the agreement. According to these assessments, Iran has dismantled thousands of its centrifuges and moved as far away from building a nuclear weapon as is possible, yet people like Bolton are still not content.

Reportedly, in October last year, Bolton spoke to Sheldon Adelson, a very powerful pro-Israel casino magnate with ties to Trump to get Trump’s ear regarding his stance on the JCPOA. Bolton was then able to speak to Trump by phone after meeting with Adelson. According to Politico, Bolton advised Trump prior to delivering an anti-Iranian speech in October to include a line that Trump reserved the right to scrap the JCPOA entirely, despite chief of staff John Kelly limiting Bolton’s contact with Trump.

In January 2017, Bolton went on Fox News to denounce the nuclear deal stating that it was a “strategic mistake.” In July 2017, speaking at the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s “Free Iran Gathering” in Paris, he also called for regime change as the only viable solution and that this should be America’s “declared policy”, alleging that Iranian President Hasan Rowhani cannot be trusted. In doing so, Bolton was heavily supporting the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a group that not too long ago was actually designated as a terrorist entity by the United States. The MEK is even believed to be behind the deaths of American civilians in Iran in the infamous 1980 U.S. embassy siege.

Iran is a 'big threat' to the US -- John Bolton

According to the Intercept, the Iranian expatriate journalist Bahman Kalbasi noted that Bolton concluded his address to the MEK exiles by stating: “And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!”

In October 2017, he again went on Fox News to lambast the JCPOA, claiming that Iran is violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty. At around the same time, he also wrote an op-ed for the Hill in which he claimed “the real issue is how much worse Iran’s behaviour will be once it gets deliverable nuclear weapons.”

When protests rocked Iran shortly after the heralding of the 2018 new year, Bolton went on Fox News and openly called for America’s goal to be regime change in Iran.

In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal at the beginning of this year, Bolton condemned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran as a “massive strategic blunder” before making one of his most disturbing announcements.

America’s foreign policy “should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution before its fortieth anniversary,” being next February, he wrote. “Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for four hundred and forty-four days. The former hostages can cut the ribbon to open the new U.S. Embassy in Tehran.”

During his tenure as the Bush administration’s policymaker on Iran from 2002 through 2004 Bolton actively established the political conditions required to carry the United States into a war with Iran. As investigative reporter Gareth Porter explained, Bolton began laying the ground work for a war with Iran by using Vice President Dick Cheney’s backing to make a series of trips to Israel in 2003 and 2004 without the required clearance from the State Department.

Shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bolton reportedly told Israeli officials that once Hussein was removed from power, it would then be necessary to deal with Syria, Iran, and North Korea afterwards (a common theme in Bolton’s discourse ever since).

Bolton even met with the head of Mossad at the time, Meir Dagan, without the required reporting cable to the secretary of state. The Mossad, as we know, has a very anti-Iranian stance, having openly conducted assassinations on Iranian soil.

At around this time, Bolton began openly accusing Tehran of developing a nuclear weapons program. As he outlines in his 2007 memoir, his goal was to ensure that the Iranian nuclear issue would not take place under the guise of the IAEA but instead move to the U.N. Security Council instead. According to Porter:

“Bolton’s strategy was based on the claim that Iran was hiding its military nuclear program from the IAEA, and in early 2004, he came up with a dramatic propaganda ploy: he sent a set of satellite images to the IAEA showing sites at the Iranian military reservation at Parchin that he claimed were being used for tests to simulate nuclear weapons. Bolton demanded that the IAEA request access to inspect those sites and leaked his demand to the Associated Press in September 2004. In fact, the satellite images showed nothing more than bunkers and buildings for conventional explosives testing.” [emphasis added]

Bolton and his impressive career as a prolific warmongering liar makes him no ordinary war-hawk. In fact, for the reasons explained above, Bolton is a man so dangerously hawkish that at the time of his announced appointment, this development received open warnings from even pro-war outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The GuardianVice NewsVox, and Foreign Policy magazine.

Of course, we now understand why.

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Darius Shahtahmasebi has completed a Double Degree in Law and Japanese from the University of Otago, with an interest in human rights, international law and journalism.

Featured image is from The Transnational

Israel prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu claimed he personally convinced the US president Donald Trump to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA agreement, and wished Iran to “disappear with the help of God”. Israel is much more experienced in dealing with the Middle East than the current US president and his entire team in this administration. Even if Israel itself was not convinced, they evidently managed to convince the Americans that a show of US “superior force with the will to use it” would compel Iran to back off and submit to the US 12 conditions dictated by Secretary Pompeo, as Israel’s former Ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon said would happen. Israel, the instigator of this strategy that has been refuted by two clear messages from Iran and its allies– is nonetheless coming out unharmed by this rhetorical escalation. Trump seems the only loser, waiting by the phone that is not expected to ring.

It is Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s belligerence which obliges Iran to take a strong stand; Netanyahu has boasted that his influence led Trump to give him the Syrian Golan Heights, move the US embassy to Jerusalem, give Jerusalem to Netanyahu, and to revoke the JCPOA deal with Iran. He is also very likely behind the 12 conditions Trump seeks to impose on Iran since, unlike the inept US administration, the Israelis know well that Iran cannot accept them. The US president has sabotaged the peace process and squandered the position of his country as a mediator between the Palestinians and Israel.

When Netanyahu asked Trump to give him all these gifts, the US president did not hesitate to save the Israeli prime minister from criminal prosecution for fraud and breach of trust to boost his re-election and give him what doesn’t belong to him!

And now it is Iran’s turn to be in the US frying pan. Nevertheless, it seems things haven’t turned out the way Trump planned. His own image has been damaged, but not that of Netanyahu, who has instructed his cabinet to keep silent and stay out of the Iran-US contention. The Israeli Prime Minister can wash his hands of the US non-act of war against Iran and watch in silence, keeping Israel out of the Iran-US tensions as though he were far from being involved. He is trying to pretend that the ongoing bras-de-fer between the US and Iran and Trump’s retreat after the al-Fujairah and Aramco attacks have nothing to do with him.

Netanyahu’s military officers are mistaken to believe “Iran has an unsettled account with the Israeli Army because it has delivered several hits (in Syria) to which Tehran has not had the chance to retaliate”. Here again, Israel is far from understanding the Iranian mode of action: In February 2018, Iran shot down an F-16 bombing Syria. Iran delivered to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad the most efficient Kornet, the anti-tank laser guided missiles and the technology to fire destructive long-range missiles from Gaza. It is arming Hezbollah with the most sophisticated anti-ship, anti-air, surface-to-surface missiles for possible use against Israel oil platforms and harbours and is spending billions to maintain the strength of its allies: Hezbollah, Iraqi non-state actors, the Syrian government, and the Houthis in Yemen, to name but a few.

But from where does Hezbollah derive its legitimate presence and survival? The answer is simple: from Israel’s wars and its violation of Lebanon’s sea, territory and airspace. Israel is still occupying the Shebaa farms and Kfarshouba, disputing Lebanon’s territorial waters, and it continues to assassinate Hezbollah leaders. Hezbollah would have nothing to do if Israel opted for peace.

In Syria, Moshe Yaalon (former Israel defence minister) says Israel would rather have ISIS on its borders than Assad and Iran. Trump has given Israel a gift, the Syrian Golan, that belongs to neither country. It has bombed the Syrian Army and its allies that were fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda. Assad was negotiating peace with Israel in exchange for land in 2010, as his father did before him. Netanyahu refuses peace, logically enough since the alternative is to manipulate Trump and collect gifts from him, including all of Jerusalem.

If Israel wanted to end the raison d’être of Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and all the non-state actors around it, it could start by implementing the Oslo accords as a first step, recognising a state of Palestine, as the Palestinians recognised a state of Israel. A next step would be to return the Lebanese and Syrian territories to their owners (President Hafez Assad and his son Bashar were both prepared to sign a peace dealwith Israel in exchange for this land) and to refrain from bombing (Israel acknowledges it has bombed over 200 targets in Syria) and violating its neighbours’ sea and airspace (daily violation of Lebanese sovereignty). Then Iran would have no need to build up a necklace of states and non-state allies in the Middle East.

And last but not least, Israel seems to be behind the intelligence misinformation provided to the US, indicating that Iran “is moving missiles by boat”, speeding up the US sending of additional forces to the Middle East. Nevertheless, the US had to find a way out of this seemingly “false flag”, because it says now that “Iran has unloaded missiles from its small boat” to ease the tension.

Iran is unwilling to give Trump an easy escape from the climate of tension he and his team have created. Netanyahu is keeping quiet to avoid criticism from the US, since he is clearly the one who pushed Trump towards confrontation with Iran.

Tehran is aware of the Israeli sabotage and manipulation of the current US administration to its advantage. Trump’s lack of knowledge in foreign affairs and his eagerness to be re-elected in 2020 are allowing Netanyahu to pull him around by the nose. The Iranian leader of the revolution never trusted either the US or Europe to keep their commitments to the JCPOA.

“The US will never keep its promises and the EU is an acolytes of the US. You shall get nothing from them” Sayyed Khamenei told president Rouhani when he signed off the JCPOA deal with the Obama administration – according to a high Iranian official – who, after a few years, agreed with his “Rahbar” (the supreme leader of the revolution).

Israel’s Mossad provided the US with false intelligence that ballistic missiles were being carried on wooden boats, as though Iran doesn’t have enough deserts and places to hide its missiles. Incredibly enough, the Mossad was believed.

This is just one illustration of Israel’s power to manipulate the US government into a lose-lose scenario, while Israel can only win-win. The US will lose prestige from backing down, but will lose much more if it is backed into a senseless and catastrophic war. The 12 demands Netanyahu has persuaded the US to make on Iran are impossible for Iran to comply with, as Israel well knows. If Iran were to submit, it would be a victory for Israel. If not, the US will try to go to war or will impose more sanctions—both beneficial to Israel’s position. Israel can push the US to a confrontation and push Iran to its limits because Netanyahu has nothing to lose in a situation where the US military assumes the risks of his reckless strategy; Israel has no skin in the game. It is Trump confronting the Iranians not Netanyahu. Israel can sit back, eat popcorn, and watch events unfold. It will consider itself the winner whatever the consequences. Israel’s influence over Trump’s incompetent administration is the greatest threat to peace today.

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Hypocritical to the core, the execution of false-flag events spare aggressive states the ignominy of appearing in public as the warmongering psychopaths they are, lest their subjects get the wrong idea as to exactly who is governing over them.

The last thing tyrannical rulers want, after all, are battles raging on two fronts, especially if one of those fronts just happens to be back in the Heartland. Psychopaths are mentally deranged, of course, but that does not mean they are necessarily stupid.

Thus, once again, the United States is flying its jolly tricolors from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, as well as nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and a Patriot missile battery on standby. But America’s reputation as a rabble-rouser and hell raiser long preceded its entry into the Gulf, as did the frenetic rhetoric.

Just as the fleet was en route, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a warning that was so far beyond the pale of reality that it sounded as though it were scripted by a Hollywood film director with a penchant for embellishing American history.

“The response of the United States and our partners and allies has been clear: We do not seek war,” the statement reads. “But Iran’s forty years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities, and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves.”

Forty years of killing Americans? Really? That comment brought to mind Pompeo’s recent display of braggadocio as he reminisced over his former CIA days.

“We lied, we cheated, we stole,” he confessed with a hearty chuckle to an audience from Texas A&M University last month. “We had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”

Ah yes, the glory days. Next he’ll be shooting off about how he enjoys shaving with napalm in the morning, or some such nonsense.

In any case, the prospect of America’s leading diplomat who basically admits to being a bald-faced liar, and darn proud of it, delivering a fiery shot across the bow of the Iranian Republic at the same time a large US naval group is entering the Persian Gulf and Iran is struggling under severe sanctions does very little to instill much comfort or confidence.

One week before the US naval fleet turned up in Gulf waters, Pompeo was already laying the necessary groundwork for the buildup, saying that the US has observed “escalatory actions from the Iranians, and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” he said, without providing any details. “If these actions take place — if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah — we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”

Now for anyone who followed the protracted Syrian crisis understands, that is exactly the sort of crazy talk that inspires friends and foes alike to pull off a false-flag attack that will force the United States to live up to its word and go after the villains, which will predictably be – as was the case following the chemical attacks against the Syrian rebels when the ‘Assad regime’ was duly blamed – the Islamic Republic of Iran.

So where did the information regarding a possible Iranian strike on some “American interest” derive? According to Axios, that news was delivered to National Security Advisor John Bolton by an Israeli delegation led by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.

It is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to figure that the Israelis may have produced the report knowing full well that it would ratchet up tensions between Washington and Tehran, and more so when it is understood that the mad hatters Pompeo and Bolton figure into the calculus. Who knows? Perhaps they really do mean what they have been saying for years about Iran and would relish the prospects of an ‘Iranian attack,’ or false flag event in order to get World War III, which they both seem to anticipate with more excitement than the Second Coming.

Meanwhile, it should come as no surprise that the mainstream media is doing everything in its power to stoke the flames. On Monday, the New York Times, citing unnamed sources, published an article alleging that the White House was drafting plans to deploy some 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event Iran attacked US forces or expedited work on nuclear weapon research. The paper giddily reported that such a force “would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003.” Trump, however, ruined the war party, flat out denying the claim, saying he would send a lot more than 120,000 troops under such circumstances.

To underscore exactly how dangerous the situation is becoming, Sputnik reported that four commercial ships – two Saudi, one Emirati and one Norwegian – were targets of a “sabotage attack” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.

It should come as no surprise as to what country was blamed. “Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies” are thought to be behind the attack, according to US officials.

Although Iran in the past may have played down such provocations, this time around they are showing a striking level of confidence in the face of American firepower. “An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past,” Amirali Hajiadeh, who heads Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace unit, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), as reported by RT. “But now, the threats have switched to opportunities,” he added.

The only thing left to consider now is whether Trump left Bolton and Pompeo to their own mischievous devices in their dealings with Iran and even Israel, or is there some sort of safety catch on the gun, so to speak.

Considering that Trump didn’t seem to be fully informed as to what was happening in Venezuela with regards to puppet president Juan Guaido’s recent failed attempt at a coup, it makes one wonder if Trump is equally in the dark as to what is happening with Iran. The prospect of such a possibility is simply too terrifying to even contemplate.

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Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist.

Featured image is from Silent Crow News

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Israel’s War Criminals in Their Own Words

May 21st, 2019 by Philip Giraldi

Israel’s public face, sustained and propagated by a wealthy and powerful diaspora that has significant control over the media, insists that the country is the Middle East’s only true democracy, that is operates under a rule of law for all its citizens and that its army is the “most moral in the world.” All of those assertions are false. Israel’s government favors its Jewish citizens through laws and regulations that are defined by religion. It in fact now identifies itself legally as a Jewish state with Christians and Muslim citizens having second class status. Israel’s army, meanwhile, has committed numerous war crimes against largely unarmed civilian populations in the past seventy years, both in Lebanon and directed against the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza.

In response to the past year’s Great March of Return protests staged by Gazans along the fence line that separates them from Israel, Israeli army snipers have shot dead 293 Palestinians and wounded seven thousand more. Twenty-thousand other Gazans have been harmed by other weapons used by the Israelis, to include canisters from the volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets. The numbers include hundreds of children and medical personnel trying to help the wounded, which reportedly have been particularly targeted.

The United Nations has reported that many of the wounded have been shot in their legs, which the Israeli army regards as “restraint” on its part. Many of those injured will likely need to have limbs amputated because Gaza lacks the medical facilities required to properly treat their wounds. Israel has bombed hospitals and blocked the importation of medical supplies into Gaza while also not allowing Gazans to leave the enclave for medical treatment elsewhere in the Middle East.

One hundred and twenty amputations have already been performed this year. Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Territories explained “You’ve got 1,700 people who are in need of serious, complicated surgeries for them to be able to walk again…[requiring] very, very serious and complex bone reconstruction surgery over a two-year period before they start to rehabilitate themselves.”

The U.N. would like to provide $20 million in assistance to enable medical treatment rather than amputations but the United States has refused to support emergency funding for the Palestinians through the Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), a step presumably taken to benefit Israel by punishing the Palestinian people.

Interestingly, a document has recent re-surfaced describing in chilling terms the Israel Army’s viewpoint on shooting protesting Arabs. One year ago former British diplomat Craig Murray posted on his blog, “Condemned By Their Own Words”, which provided a translated from Hebrew-to-English transcript of an Israeli radio broadcast that had taken place on April 21st. An Israeli Brigadier-General, named Zvika Fogel, was responding to reports of the killing by soldiers of an unarmed fourteen year-old boy. He explained in some detail why his soldiers are absolutely doing the right thing to shoot to kill Palestinians who approach the barrier separating Gaza from Israel.

General Fogel’s comments are reflective of the Israeli government view of how to control the “Palestinian problem.” Only the rights, including the right to life, of Israeli Jews are legitimate and Arabs should be grateful for what the Jewish state allows them to have.

Fogel responded to interviewer Ron Nesiel’s first question “Should the IDF [Israeli army] rethink its use of snipers?” by saying that “Any person who gets close to the fence, anyone who could be a future threat to the border of the State of Israel and its residents, should bear a price for that violation. If this child or anyone else gets close to the fence in order to hide an explosive device or check if there are any dead zones there or to cut the fence so someone could infiltrate the territory of the State of Israel to kill us …”

Nesiel: “Then, then his punishment is death?”

Fogel: “His punishment is death. As far as I’m concerned then yes, if you can only shoot him to stop him, in the leg or arm – great. But if it’s more than that then, yes, you want to check with me whose blood is thicker, ours or theirs. It is clear to you that if one such person will manage to cross the fence or hide an explosive device there …”

Nesiel: “But we were taught that live fire is only used when the soldiers face immediate danger. … It does not do all that well for us, those pictures that are distributed around the world.”

Fogel: “I know how these orders are given. I know how a sniper does the shooting. I know how many authorizations he needs before he receives an authorization to open fire. It is not the whim of one or the other sniper who identifies the small body of a child now and decides he’ll shoot. Someone marks the target for him very well and tells him exactly why one has to shoot and what the threat is from that individual. And to my great sorrow, sometimes when you shoot at a small body and you intended to hit his arm or shoulder it goes even higher. The picture is not a pretty picture. But if that’s the price that we have to pay to preserve the safety and quality of life of the residents of the State of Israel, then that’s the price.

“[And] look, Ron, we’re even terrible at it [at suppressing those pictures]. There’s nothing to be done, David always looks better against Goliath. And in this case, we are the Goliath. Not the David. That is entirely clear to me. … It will drag us into a war. I do not want to be on the side that gets dragged. I want to be on the side that initiates things. I do not want to wait for the moment where it finds a weak spot and attacks me there. If tomorrow morning it gets into a military base or a kibbutz and kills people there and takes prisoners of war or hostages, call it as you like, we’re in a whole new script. I want the leaders of Hamas to wake up tomorrow morning and for the last time in their life see the smiling faces of the IDF. That’s what I want to have happen. But we are dragged along. So we’re putting snipers up because we want to preserve the values we were educated by. We can’t always take a single picture and put it before the whole world. We have soldiers there, our children, who were sent out and receive very accurate instructions about whom to shoot to protect us. Let’s back them up.”

One might reasonably suggest that Fogel’s comments reflect a consensus among Israelis on how to deal with the Arabs. And the United States is fully complicit in the slaughter. American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has repeatedly praised the restraint of the Israeli armed forces and has blamed the Gazans for their plight. The United States continues to subsidize illegal Israeli settlements that fuel the conflict and is putting the final touches on an Israeli approved peace plan that will now and forever make the Palestinians a non-people, without a nation of their own and without any hopes for the future. Meanwhile, they are target practice for Israeli snipers. The world should be mortified by Israeli arrogance and behavior and the United States should bow its head in shame each time a pandering American politician comes out with the line “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

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This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected].

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Video: Donald Trump Threatens to Destroy Iran

May 21st, 2019 by Ken Stone

US President Donald Trump on Sunday ratcheted up his rhetoric toward Iran, warning that a fight with the United States would “be the official end of Iran.”

Watch the interview with Canada’s antiwar activist and geopolitical analyst Ken Stone below.

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India Elections: Towards a Possible BJP Victory

May 21st, 2019 by Andrew Korybko

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British Special Forces have flown to the Middle East in the framework of a top-secret mission to rebuff possible Iranian attacks on merchant ships, according to The Sun.

Members of the elite Special Boat Service are reported to have joined UK registered oil tankers heading towards the Persian Gulf, subsequently to be tasked with monitoring Iranian military activity in the vicinity of Qesham Island, home to the country’s naval gunboats, the paper reports.

Once the two SBS crews have passed through the Strait of Hormuz, reports claim Royal Navy Merlin helicopters operating out of Oman will airlift them off the vessels.

The UK Ministry of Defence declined to respond when contacted by The Sun Online, with a spokesman stating they never comment about the Special Forces.

The alleged military move comes shortly after the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group arrived for patrols in the Arabian Sea.

The US has already deployed the aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran, with the US planning to deploy as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces, a report claimed this week.

However, US President Donald Trump is said to be increasingly favoring direct talk with Tehran as the best way forward, in a bid to comply with his long-standing pledge to withdraw the US from costly foreign wars, reports Washington Post.

Trump had campaigned on avoiding overseas conflicts, but also on taking a tougher line on Iran.

The Washington Post quoted a senior administration official as saying the US President is growing frustrated with what he sees as warlike planning generated by hawkish advisers.

Hardline national security adviser John Bolton is a known foreign policy “hawk” and has long been advocating regime change in Iran.

The paper cited several US officials saying Donald Trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving mounting tensions in the Middle East and wants to speak directly with Iran’s leaders.

“He is not comfortable with all this “regime change” talk,” which to his ears echoes the discussion of removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the 2003 US invasion,” the officials were reported as saying.

In a Fox News interview on Sunday, US President Donald Trump said that the only sphere where he wants to “invade” is actually the economy, thereby downplaying fears of a conflict with Iran.

He reiterated that he did not seek a war with Tehran, noting that the main thing he wanted was “not to let Iran have nuclear weapons”.

“I am not somebody who wants to go into war because war kills (the) economy, kills people most importantly,” he added.

However, Trump is willing to respond with force should there be American deaths or a dramatic escalation, added the official.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said he does not believe a war will break out in the region amid concerns over rising tensions with the US.

Speaking with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) at the end of a visit to China on Saturday, he added that Tehran did not want a war, but that no country had the “idea or illusion that it can confront Iran”.

US-Iranian tensions flared up last year when Washington unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reinstated crippling sanctions against the country.

On 8 May 2019, Iran announced its decision to partially discontinue its obligations under the deal.

The United States, in turn, stepped up its military presence in the Middle East in what White House National Security Adviser John Bolton has called “a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime”, sending a carrier strike group, Patriot missiles, B-52 bombers and F-15 fighters to the area, according to the Pentagon.

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Fire the Nutcases Leading Us to War

May 21st, 2019 by Eric Margolis

President Donald Trump claimed this week that he does not want war with Iran. If he really believes this, the president ought to look into what his subordinates are doing.

Among their bellicose actions are deployment of the ‘Abraham Lincoln CVN-72’ carrier task force to the coast of Iran, massing a strike package of B-52 heavy bombers in Qatar, just across the Gulf from Iran, positioning more US warplanes around Iran, readying a massive cyber attack against Iran, and trying to stop the export of Iranian oil, upon which its economy depends.

Plus repeated attempts to overthrow the government in Tehran – something the US already did very skillfully in 1953.

If all this is not war, according to Trump, then what is? It’s war by another name. Just what the US did to Cuba, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, Nicaragua, Syria, and, since 1979, Iran. Like a shark, the US warfare state has to keep moving. So it finds threats popping up all over.

The latest alleged grave ‘threat’ to America’s security was an ancient wooden dhow. Spotted by US satellites, this decrepit old sail-powered tub was claimed by Washington war promoters, led by the enragé John Bolton, to be carrying Iranian missiles. What unbelievable rubbish.

Many moons ago, I used to oversee dhows based in Dubai smuggling expensive Western luxury goods and small gold ‘ten tola’ bars into India and Iran. They would dodge Indian and Pakistani patrol boats; if caught, ‘baksheesh’ (bribes) were paid. Some of the smuggled goods even found their way into the Soviet Union, via caravans through Afghanistan.

All this was worthy of Sinbad the Sailor and the Arabian Nights. Great fun and profitable, but hardly of any strategic consequence. But now, Washington’s war-mongers claim the dhows will threaten ‘US interests’ in the Gulf region. ‘US interests’ are, of course, whatever and wherever Washington says they are.

This is yet another charade that will be amplified by the tame US media, and gobbled up by the credulous public unsure if the Gulf is off Texas or Iran. It joins the huge lies about World War I – ‘Belgian babies spitted to German bayonets’ – Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, anthrax attacks, and Saddam’s ‘drones of death.’ Some cynics would add 9/11 and Osama bin Laden to the cast of manufactured villains.

We now know that all the reasons cited for attacking Iraq in 2003 where false. Pure lies. War propaganda. President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Tony Blair led us into a war by a campaign of lies that fed off one another. Media that supported the war with false news was equally guilty.

Yet we still see, for example, the Murdoch-owned media, New York Times and Washington shamelessly promoting more war in the Mideast. US media has made little progress since the yellow journalism era of William Randolph Hearst. As the great Mark Twain said, ‘if you don’t read the daily newspapers you are uninformed. If you do read them, you are misinformed.’

Which leads us to ask the question: given all these lies, is it not time for us to begin questioning the official narrative about World War II?

Trump is playing with fire by making threats against Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Libya, Cuba, North Korea and China. He appears well on the way to a major war by either plan or accident. He is provoking and trifling with two major, nuclear-armed world military powers, Russia and China. Instead of capable diplomats, Trump keeps consorting with men of low character and even lower knowledge. It’s like the hostess who will never invite to her party another woman who is younger and more attractive.

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Nellis Air Force Base’s Facebook page published a video of a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon Friday belonging to the 64th Aggressor Squadron in a new paint scheme that resembles Russia’s fifth-generation stealth fighter, reported The War Zone.

“A new adversary has arrived. The GHOST is here! Be afraid!,” Nellis Air Force Base Facebook said.

The new color scheme was chosen through a crowdsourced competition on the 57th Wing Commander Brigadier General Robert Novotny‘s Facebook page, with followers submitting many sophisticated designs and voting on each one, ending with the winning design: a Russian stealth jet color scheme.

The Aggressors Squadrons F-16 copied paint schemes, markings, and insignias of the Sukhoi Su-57, a single-seat, twin-engine multirole fifth-generation stealth jet, flown by the Russian Air Force.

Here is the video of the F-16 being painted from beginning to end:

The purpose of the redesigned color scheme for the F-16 is to start training American fighter pilots against Russian fifth-generation combat aircraft, and or even, China’s Chengdu J-20 or Shenyang FC-31. If the scheme works out, there could be more jets from the 64th Aggressor Squadron painted with Russian colors.

Photos emerged on a Turkish website Saturday of a McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet belonging to Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve (VFC-12), a US Navy Reserve fighter squadron based in Virginia Beach, sporting the same Russian Su-57 color scheme.

The new Russian paint designs on American fighter jets shows just how serious military commanders are about training pilots to identify and engage fifth-generation fighter from Russia and or China.

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Today, President Trump threatened to “end” Iran in a tweet on the heels of reports that rockets landed near the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad.

In response, President of the National Iranian American Council, Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement:

“President Trump’s saber-rattling about Iran has reached a dangerous new low with his threat to “end” Iran—a country of 83 million men, women, and children. Since the President reneged on the Iran nuclear deal last year, the administration’s policies have been geared towards provoking Iran into retaliation to give cover for a perilous escalation favored by administration hawks. There is no doubt that National Security Advisor John Bolton will use the slightest Iranian action—even bereft of reliable intelligence—as a pretext to push for the war he’s always wanted.

“Trump’s belligerent threat to destroy Iran comes on the heels of reports that a “low-grade” rocket landed in an empty lot near the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad. Last September, a similar incident led to Bolton asking the Pentagon for options to militarily strike Iran. At the time, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis shot down Bolton’s plans. With Mattis gone today, Bolton is well positioned to push Trump and the U.S. into a conflict that would be catastrophic for U.S. interests and regional and global stability.

“The fact is that the United States and the world should not be in this position where a war with Iran is even a possibility. America’s traditional allies in Europe, as well as the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence, have repeatedly warned that the administration’s actions are leading to a dangerous tit-for-tat with Iran. Simply stated, the current state of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran is exclusively due to the policies of the Trump administration, which abandoned a nonproliferation agreement that was working in favor of a so-called “maximum pressure campaign.”

“President Trump has claimed that he doesn’t want war, but his bombastic rhetoric is ensuring that he walks into one. Threats of destruction, a la “fire and fury,” will not get him a deal with Iran, just as they haven’t with North Korea. Instead, if Trump is sincere about wanting diplomatic compromise, he should cease his policy of economic warfare that is strangling the Iranian people and pursue a tone of mutual respect with Tehran. Foremost, this would require him to fire John Bolton, who has made clear he opposes U.S.-Iran diplomacy in principle.”

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On May 5, Donald Trump announced a devastating 25%  tariff on Chinese commodity imports valued at 200 billion dollars.  

According to Trump:

“China is cheating the system”.

“Dirty Bureaucrats in Washington have allowed China to take advantage of our great Nation for far too long”.

How has Beijing responded?

Look at the Trade War chronology

The trade war and the Iran sanctions regime are intimately related. Trump’s tariff decision was announced two weeks after the US administration’s resolve  to “push Iran’s oil and gas revenues to Zero”.

On April 20, the Trump administration announced that it would start imposing sanctions on several countries including China, “unless they stop buying oil from Iran [when the waivers expire]”…

“If you don’t abide by this, there will be sanctions,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“When the waivers expire on May 2, the United States could sanction the remaining five countries” including China (WP, April 22, 2019)

How has Beijing responded to Trump’s 25% tariff on China’s imports? 

Trump made the announcement regarding the 25% tariff on May 5, three days after the announced expiry of the Iran sanctions’ waivers on May 2nd.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi was adamant. He is reported to have told Secretary of State Pompeo in a telephone conversation not to go “too far“.  Ironically, that same week on May 17,  Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Beijing  for talks with Wang Yi.  The timely issue of sanctions on Iran oil exports was  on the agenda.

And how has Beijing responded to the Iran sanctions regime?  China had already confirmed it’s “intention to defy U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry” (April 23, 2019) prior to Trump’s decision to impose the 25 % tariff:

“The normal energy cooperation under the international law between Iran and other members of the international community, China included, is legitimate and lawful; thus it must be respected and protected,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.

According to reports:

On the same day that Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was in Beijing for talks with Wang Yi, China’s giant oil tanker PACIFIC BRAVO was reported to have, “loaded approximately 2 million barrels of Iranian oil from the Soroosh and Kharg terminals in the Persian Gulf ”

According to analysis provided by ‘TankerTrackers.com’, PACIFIC BRAVO is the first major tanker to load Iranian crude after the Trump administration revoked waivers permitting the purchases by eight of Iran’s oil customers, Bourseandbazaar Web Site reported. (Iran Press)

Trump’s sanctions regime directed against Iran’s oil exports has “fallen flat”: an utter failure.

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On May 17 and May 18, the Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF) intercepted several unidentified aerial objects over Damascus and the southern part of the country. In both cases, the intercepted targets came from the southern Syria border, near the contact line with Israel.

Some sources speculated that the SADF was repelling Israeli strikes. However, no explosions were reported in Damascus and its countryside as well as pro-government sources were not able to present any vestiges of intercepted missiles. The situation with the interceptions remains unclear.

At the same time, the Damascus government and Russia came with another peaceful initiative for Idlib militants. On May 18, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) introduced a temporary ceasefire halting offensive operations around Idlib, in particular in northwestern Hama.

Militants reacted to this announcement in their common manner. On the same day, unguided rockets were launched at Russia’s Hmeimim airbase and the nearby villages of Acharashir and Hwaiz. A civilian was killed and several others were injured in the shelling. There were no casualties to Russian personnel or damage to the airbase’s facilities.

Clashes between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the SAA also continued in northern Lattakia. On May 19, militants claimed that the SAA had used munitions armed with chlorine gas in the area. However, according to pro-militant sources, the gas attack caused no casualties. Multiple anti-tank guided strikes by militants were also reported in northwestern Hama.

These developments serve another confirmation that ceasefire agreements work not so well in the areas with a high presence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham members. If the SAA and its allies are set to fulfil the ceasefire, it will likely mark the end of the operation in northwestern Hama.

Meanwhile, in northeastern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition continue efforts to consolidate control over this part of the country. The SDF and the coalition pay a special attention to combating the remaining ISIS cells along  the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

If relations between the SDF and the Damascus government remain at the current low level, the US-led coalition will use the situation to turn northeastern Syria into its de-facto protectorate.

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The so-called “Turkistan Islamic Party”, the Syrian branch of the Uighur-led terrorist group previously known as the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement”, threatened to deal Russia a defeat akin to the one that its Soviet predecessor experienced in Afghanistan, demonstrating the transnational danger that this group has become and consequently explaining why Turkey needs to take decisive action against these terrorists that are operating in its Syrian “sphere of influence”.

A Growing Threat

Tens of thousands of foreign jihadists flocked to Syria during the height of “Daesh’s” caliphate and the Arab Republic’s descent into failed state status, with many of them still remaining in the country despite the dramatic military reversal that occurred since then following Russia’s decisive anti-terrorist intervention in late 2015. Nowadays these terrorists are mostly concentrated in the northwestern province of Idlib that falls within Turkey’s informal “sphere of influence” per its responsibilities in what is euphemistically described as this “de-escalation zone”, but Ankara has been unable to wield much control over the region. As a result, a new transnational security threat is growing, and that’s the one posed by the Uighur-led terrorist group previously known as the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM). Its Syrian branch, the so-called “Turkistan Islamic Party” (TIP), recently released a video threatening to deal Russia a defeat akin to the one that its Soviet predecessor experienced in Afghanistan.

From Afghanistan To Syria

It’s no secret that at least several thousand Uighur terrorists have been in Syria for the past few years, but their brazen threat against Russia is an unexpected escalation that also reveals a newfound confidence. The danger that they pose to Russian forces might have also explained one of the reasons for the latest anti-terrorist incursion in Idlib, too, but it also more importantly speaks to the transnational threat of terrorism across the entire Eurasian space. Back when it was still the ETIM, the group traveled to nearby Afghanistan to train for its militant anti-Chinese jihad, but the organization has since set up base in Syria and rebranded itself as the TIP after coming under attack by the Kabul authorities. It’s in this second-mentioned theater that it received the most hands-on training but also faces the greatest risks because Russia is much better equipped than the Afghan National Army is to destroy any terrorists in its official zone of military operations, especially after recently being threatened by them.

Ceasefire Politics

Curiously, Russia just announced a unilateral ceasefire in Idlib, though the reason for this likely had to do with a combination of humanitarian and political concerns. TIP is known to embed its fighters in civilian areas, therefore greatly raising the risk of civilian casualties with each targeted bombing. In addition, since Idlib is within Turkey’s “sphere of influence”, the anti-terrorist operation there is politically sensitive for the Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership. It’s not that Turkey supports terrorism, but just that it wants to retain influence in this region and possibly enshrine its de-facto autonomy into the forthcoming Syrian constitution, something that it won’t be able to do if the Syrian Arab Army successfully liberates it before then. Instead, it can be understood that Russia was sending Turkey a signal that it needs to take care of the situation as soon as possible otherwise Moscow won’t have any choice but to continue its anti-terrorist bombings there.

The China Card

Whether by coincidence or not, China just once again called on Turkey to support its anti-terrorist campaign in Xinjiang, something that Ankara has been reluctant to do for several self-interested reasons. The timing is interesting because it could also be interpreted as China hinting that Turkey needs to also take decisive action against TIP’s “safe havens” in its “sphere of influence”, which becomes all the more pressing to do after the terrorist group just threatened Russian forces. That might be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, but Turkey would nevertheless need to proceed with caution for self-evident military reasons but also sensitive political ones as well, seeing as how it’s regarded as the unofficial torchbearer of the pan-Turkish cause that the TIP also claims to be fighting for. Moving against the group might be seen as “betraying” this influential soft power ideal unless Turkey preemptively controls the narrative and makes it clear that it will not tolerate any organization that uses terrorism to advance this goal.

The Path To Peace

Turkey has the right to practice whatever policies its decision makers choose, but it would be wise to unambiguously distance itself from Uighur terrorists even if it decides to continue raising concerns about this ethnic group’s alleged treatment at the hands of the Chinese authorities. Transforming words into actions and physically eradicating Uighur terrorists in Idlib would go a long way towards showing how seriously Turkey takes its Chinese and Russian partners’ security, as well as maturely demonstrating that there are red lines that it won’t allow others within its “sphere of influence” to cross in pursuit of the pan-Turkish cause. As the kinetic military phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria winds down and is replaced by its emerging non-kinetic political one, Idlib still stands out as the festering wound that’s holding the country back from a “compromise” solution, but the path to peace could be pioneered by Turkey if it takes action against the many terrorist groups there, especially the Uighur-led one that just threatened Russia.

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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

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

China faces a threat to its agriculture that could do far more damage to her political stability and economy than the escalating USA tariff war. In recent months cases of deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) among the pig population of the world’s largest pig producer have forced drastic killing off of the pig population since cases were first detected last August. On top of that, more recently, Chinese grain producers have been hit by what can only be called a plague of a dangerous pest called “Fall Armyworms”, that devastates corn, rice and other grain crops. The combination hitting China as its leaders are in the midst of an escalating major trade war with the United States, could affect the world geopolitical map in ways few can imagine.

Officially, the Chinese government appears to be responding with clear determination to take necessary measures to eradicate the deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak. Beijing authorities claim that more than 1 million pigs to date have been killed. However, that has not prevented the pig contamination from spreading to all provinces of China and even beyond.

In the Chinese diet today pork is the main source of protein. China has the world’s largest pig population, over half, or close to 700 million swine. The problem is that African Swine Fever is highly deadly, almost 100% lethal to pigs, (though not, according to evidence, to humans). The disease is highly infectious which is why entire herds must be immediately destroyed and there is no medical cure known for it. The virus can exist on surfaces or in meat for days, even weeks.

In an April report the US Department of Agriculture predicted that China will have to kill 134 million pigs, equal to the entire US pig production. That would be the worst drop recorded since the USDA began monitoring in the mid-1970’s.

An April, 2019 research report by the Rabobank in Holland, a major world agriculture lender, estimates that actual ASF kills in China are significantly higher than the reported 1 million. They estimate that since initial outbreak in August 2018, deadly ASF has infected between 150 to 200 million of China’s pig population, some 100 times worse than the official numbers and has spread to every province in mainland China. The report states,

“In 2019, we expect Chinese pork production losses of 25% to 35% in response to ASF. Reports of extreme losses (over 50%) are limited to confined areas.” The report adds, “These losses cannot easily be replaced by other proteins (chicken, duck, seafood, beef, and sheepmeat), nor will larger imports be able to fully offset the loss…this will result in a net supply gap of almost 10 million metric tons in the total 2019 animal protein supply.”

That is far more than official data suggest and, if true, will have drastic effect on not only animal prices, but could devastate millions of small China farmers unable to survive the losses. Accurate data are lacking as the Chinese pig production is dominated by small farmers where health security measures are more lax and contagion more likely.

Unfortunately, in a clear effort to calm the situation, the China Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement this January that there was no “ASF epidemic,” and that the government was taking adequate measures to bring the situation under control, this, though the disease had then spread to 24 mainland provinces. The suspicious timing of the reassuring statement was two weeks before the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, the time of the largest pig consumption of the year. Ironically this year is also the Year of the Pig in China.

The deadly pig disease has also spread to neighboring Vietnam, a major pig producer where Rabobank expects at least 10% of the herd will be destroyed, and to Cambodia. As well it has spread to Hong Kong and to Taiwan and Mongolia. The problem is that the risk of reinfection is large and experts estimate that under best of conditions, it will take China years to rebuild its pig herds.

Then Fall Armyworm Plague

At the same time as China’s pig production is in its worst crisis in decades, its grain crops are being hit by another devastating plague that is every bit as difficult to combat, spread of what is called the “Fall Armyworm,” the common name for the larvae of Spodoptera frugiperda species of moth.

According to a recent report, prepared for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the devastating pest, first discovered in Yunnan Province January 29, entering from Myanmar, may have already spread to a range of southern Chinese provinces including Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan and Hainan. The USDA estimates that the Fall Armyworm, which can travel an astonishing 100 kilometers in a single night, will spread across all of the country’s grain-producing area in the coming few months. A typical Fall Armyworm moth will travel 500 kilometers in its lifespan, laying 1,000 to 1,500 eggs in total. The eggs hatch into larvae within a few days.

Chinese agriculture exports report that the worm has spread much faster than they expected. The worm is extremely difficult to eradicate. The USDA notes that,

“The Fall Armyworm has no natural predators in China and its presence may result in lower production and crop quality of corn, rice, wheat, sorghum, sugarcane, cotton, soybeans and peanuts, among other cash crops.” The report adds that, “…most farmers in China do not have the financial resources and training needed to effectively manage Fall Armyworm. Even if a mitigation program is employed, costly control measures (mainly chemical sprays) will drag producer margins into negative territory for farmers of most crops that could be affected.”

China is the world’s second largest corn producer after the USA, forecast to produce 257 million tons of corn in 2018-19, according to the USDA. In the past three years, the Fall Armyworm, endemic to North America, has caused extensive economic damage across Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. In just two years the Fall Armyworm colonized three-quarters of Africa, according to British-based Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI).

Meanwhile in response to US trade tariffs put in place by the Trump administration, Beijing has restricted purchase of American soybeans, making domestic soy and other grain crops increasingly important for Chinese agriculture. And poor weather conditions have impacted Chinese production of soybeans and corn due to droughts and unusually cold weather.

The double blows from African Swine Fever and the Fall Armyworm, combined with the latest escalation of US tariffs on Chinese imports, amid signs that China’s overall economy is slowing significantly, create a potentially dangerous situation whereby hundreds of thousands of Chinese small farmers are likely economically ruined and Chinese domestic food price inflation rises sharply. That is definitely what China does not need at this point.

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

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seeds_2.jpg

Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

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

List Price: $25.95

Special Price: $18.00

 

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

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

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

“No matter who you are, no matter how strong you are, sooner or later, you’ll face circumstances beyond your control.” — Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones

Those coming of age today will face some of the greatest obstacles ever encountered by young people.

They will find themselves overtaxed, burdened with excessive college debt, and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state. They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies and government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moment’s notice.

As such, they will find themselves forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands they be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences.

It’s a dismal prospect, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, we who should have known better failed to guard against such a future.

Worse, we neglected to maintain our freedoms or provide our young people with the tools necessary to survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal jungle that is modern America.

We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism. We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs, substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and automatons instead of activists.

We allowed them to languish in schools which not only look like prisons but function like prisons, as well—where conformity is the rule and freedom is the exception. We made them easy prey for our corporate overlords, while instilling in them the values of a celebrity-obsessed, technology-driven culture devoid of any true spirituality. And we taught them to believe that the pursuit of their own personal happiness trumped all other virtues, including any empathy whatsoever for their fellow human beings.

No, we haven’t done this generation any favors.

Based on the current political climate, things could very well get much worse before they ever take a turn for the better. Here are a few pieces of advice that will hopefully help those coming of age today survive the perils of the journey that awaits:

Be an individual. For all of its claims to champion the individual, American culture advocates a stark conformity which, as John F. Kennedy warned, is “the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.” Worry less about fitting in with the rest of the world and instead, as Henry David Thoreau urged, become “a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.”

Learn your rights. We’re losing our freedoms for one simple reason: most of us don’t know anything about our freedoms. At a minimum, anyone who has graduated from high school, let alone college, should know the Bill of Rights backwards and forwards. However, the average young person, let alone citizen, has very little knowledge of their rights for the simple reason that the schools no longer teach them. So grab a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and study them at home. And when the time comes, stand up for your rights before it’s too late.

Speak truth to power. Don’t be naive about those in positions of authority. As James Madison, who wrote our Bill of Rights, observed, “All men having power ought to be distrusted.” We must learn the lessons of history. People in power, more often than not, abuse that power. To maintain our freedoms, this will mean challenging government officials whenever they exceed the bounds of their office.

Resist all things that numb you. Don’t measure your worth by what you own or earn. Likewise, don’t become mindless consumers unaware of the world around you. Resist all things that numb you, put you to sleep or help you “cope” with so-called reality. Those who establish the rules and laws that govern society’s actions desire compliant subjects. However, as George Orwell warned, “Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they rebelled, they cannot become conscious.” It is these conscious individuals who change the world for the better.

Don’t let technology turn you into zombies. Technology anesthetizes us to the all-too-real tragedies that surround us. Techno-gadgets are merely distractions from what’s really going on in America and around the world. As a result, we’ve begun mimicking the inhuman technology that surrounds us and have lost our humanity. We’ve become sleepwalkers. If you’re going to make a difference in the world, you’re going to have to pull the earbuds out, turn off the cell phones and spend much less time viewing screens.

Help others. We all have a calling in life. And I believe it boils down to one thing: You are here on this planet to help other people. In fact, none of us can exist very long without help from others. If we’re going to see any positive change for freedom, then we must change our view of what it means to be human and regain a sense of what it means to love and help one another. That will mean gaining the courage to stand up for the oppressed.

Give voice to moral outrage. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” There is no shortage of issues on which to take a stand. For instance, on any given night, over half a million people in the U.S. are homeless, and half of them are elderly. There are 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, and 16 million children living in households without adequate access to food. Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year. With more than 2 million Americans in prison, and close to 7 million adults in correctional care, the United States has the largest prison population in the world. At least 2.7 million children in the United States have at least one parent in prison. At least 400 to 500 innocent people are killed by police officers every year. Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist. On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams. It costs the American taxpayer $52.6 billion every year to be spied on by the government intelligence agencies tasked with surveillance, data collection, counterintelligence and covert activities. All the while, since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and police the rest of the world. This is an egregious affront to anyone who believes in freedom.

Cultivate spirituality, reject materialism and put people first. When the things that matter most have been subordinated to materialism, we have lost our moral compass. We must change our values to reflect something more meaningful than technology, materialism and politics. Standing at the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. urged his listeners:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motive and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Pitch in and do your part to make the world a better place. Don’t rely on someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. Don’t wait around for someone else to fix what ails you, your community or nation. As Gandhi urged: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Say no to war. Addressing the graduates at Binghampton Central High School in 1968, at a time when the country was waging war “on different fields, on different levels, and with different weapons,” Twilight Zonecreator Rod Serling declared:

Too many wars are fought almost as if by rote. Too many wars are fought out of sloganry, out of battle hymns, out of aged, musty appeals to patriotism that went out with knighthood and moats. Love your country because it is eminently worthy of your affection. Respect it because it deserves your respect. Be loyal to it because it cannot survive without your loyalty. But do not accept the shedding of blood as a natural function or a prescribed way of history—even if history points this up by its repetition. That men die for causes does not necessarily sanctify that cause. And that men are maimed and torn to pieces every fifteen and twenty years does not immortalize or deify the act of war… find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow-man.

Finally, prepare yourselves for what lies ahead. The demons of our age—some of whom disguise themselves as politicians—delight in fomenting violence, sowing distrust and prejudice, and persuading the public to support tyranny disguised as patriotism. Overcoming the evils of our age will require more than intellect and activism. It will require decency, morality, goodness, truth and toughness. As Serling concluded in his remarks to the graduating class of 1968:

Toughness is the singular quality most required of you… we have left you a world far more botched than the one that was left to us… Part of your challenge is to seek out truth, to come up with a point of view not dictated to you by anyone, be he a congressman, even a minister… Are you tough enough to take the divisiveness of this land of ours, the fact that everything is polarized, black and white, this or that, absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This is one of the challenges. Be prepared to seek out the middle ground … that wondrous and very difficult-to-find Valhalla where man can look to both sides and see the errant truths that exist on both sides. If you must swing left or you must swing right—respect the other side. Honor the motives that come from the other side. Argue, debate, rebut—but don’t close those wondrous minds of yours to opposition. In their eyes, you’re the opposition. And ultimately … ultimately—you end divisiveness by compromise. And so long as men walk and breathe—there must be compromise…

Are you tough enough to face one of the uglier stains upon the fabric of our democracy—prejudice? It’s the basic root of most evil. It’s a part of the sickness of man. And it’s a part of man’s admission, his constant sick admission, that to exist he must find a scapegoat. To explain away his own deficiencies—he must try to find someone who he believes more deficient… Make your judgment of your fellow-man on what he says and what he believes and the way he acts. Be tough enough, please, to live with prejudice and give battle to it. It warps, it poisons, it distorts and it is self-destructive. It has fallout worse than a bomb … and worst of all it cheapens and demeans anyone who permits himself the luxury of hating.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the only way we’ll ever achieve change in this country is for the American people to finally say “enough is enough” and fight for the things that truly matter.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your political ideology is. If you have something to say, speak up. Get active, and if need be, pick up a picket sign and get in the streets. And when civil liberties are violated, don’t remain silent about it.

Wake up, stand up, and make your activism count for something more than politics.

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This article was originally published on The Rutherford Institute.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

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Throughout the post-WW II era, the US demanded and continues demanding that other countries bend to its will — by pressure, bullying, intimidation, threats, naked aggression and other hostile actions.

The strategy weakens ties with allies, making lots of enemies at the same time. Pompeo and Bolton are a virtual geopolitical wrecking ball, the most destructive duo ever in charge of US foreign policy and national security, despite having stiff competition from earlier extremists.

In recent remarks, Pompeo lied about Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea. He threatened to cut off Britain’s access to US intelligence if it grants Chinese tech giant Huawei access to its 5G network, falsely claiming it’ll help Beijing spy on nations doing business with the firm.

Days earlier, former US diplomat Charles Freeman accused the Trump regime of “trying to dismantle China’s interdependence with the American economy, curb its role in global governance, counter its foreign investments, cripple its companies, block its technological advance, punish its many deviations from liberal ideology, contest its borders, map its defenses, and sustain the ability to penetrate those defenses at will,” adding:

Trump recklessly “declared open season on China…unleash(ing) an undisciplined onslaught” — biting off more than he can chew, picking a fight he can’t win.

He’s got a tiger by the tail able to give as much as it takes, unwilling to be unfairly pressured or bullied. The same goes for Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Cuba.

The harder US regime hardliners push, the more determined its adversaries are to hold firm, and in China’s case, push back hard, able to inflict considerable damage to the US economy in response to unacceptable actions it considers intolerable.

The massive trade deficit between both countries isn’t Beijing’s fault. The US bears full responsibility for relocating much of its industrial base to China and other low-wage countries, for replacing millions of high-pay skilled jobs with menial ones paying poverty and sub-poverty wages, for thirdworldizing America, a nation increasingly resembling Guatemala.

The nation I grew up in long ago no longer exists, replaced by global wars on humanity at home and abroad, by wanting planet earth colonized, controlled and exploited, by police state laws, by making America unsafe and unfit to live in, including inner cities nationwide transformed into battlegrounds, militarized killer cops making things unbearable for its poor and disadvantaged people of color.

The US is governed by its war party with two extremist right wings, by a bombastic geopolitical know-nothing MAGA president, an embarrassment to the office he holds.

Freeman believes we’re entering a “post-American…post-Western era…China (to) play a larger and the US a lesser role” on the global stage, undermined by its hubris and arrogance.

It’s the same dynamic dooming  other empires in history, pursuing self-destructive policies, being unwilling to change, what’s self-defeating over time.

It’s the path the US is taking, stubbornly sticking to it, toughening its policies instead of responsibly stepping back from the brink and charting a new course based on peace and mutual cooperation with other nations.

US hostility toward China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, and other nations bodes ill for what lies ahead. Ruinous military spending persists while vital homeland needs go begging, social justice on the chopping block for elimination.

Believing endless wars and other hostile actions can turn things around is reckless thinking. Just the opposite is true and worse if nuclear war is waged by accident of design, mutually assured destruction if things go this far.

What’s possible may be inevitable given US rage for global dominance, wanting no other nations standing in its way.

America is a nation in decline, failing to acknowledge its weakening condition relative to other nations.

Despite spending countless trillions of dollars to remain the dominant global superpower, Russia, China, and other nations are rising, America declining politically, economically, financially and militarily.

The myth of American exceptionalism, the indispensable state, an illusory moral superiority, and military supremacy persist despite hard evidence debunking these notions.

The US was at the height of its power post-WW II, maintained for some years in the post-war era, decline beginning and continuing in recent decades, notably post-9/11.

Washington repeatedly blames China and other countries for its own wrongdoing. MAGA is an “assault on the international status quo,” said Freeman, adding:

It’s “undermining both US global leadership and the multilateral order…put in place…decades ago.” America breaches international law time and again — not China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, or other independent nations.

Along with waging endless wars of aggression against nations threatening no one, its actions proved time and again it can never be trusted by breaching international laws, treaties, conventions, and other agreements, operating solely by its own rules — to the detriment of world peace, stability and security.

Washington’s aim to undermine the development of China and other major nations is an agenda doomed to fail.

If pursued by war, mushroom-shaped cloud denouement may doom us all.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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The so-called “Baloch Liberation Army” issued a video ultimatum to China over the weekend to discontinue its CPEC development projects in Pakistan’s Balochistan or face a renewed wave of terrorist attacks against its interests there, with this message unambiguously proving that the group is far from the “national liberation movement” that it purports to be but is really just a bunch of regional feudal terrorists that are doing the Hybrid War bidding of foreign powers.

South Asia As The Center Of The US’ “Pivot To Asia”

The US’ much-discussed “Pivot to Asia” was naively assumed by many to mostly concern East and Southeast Asia as America finagled to “contain” China there, but the reality is that South Asia seems to be taking the central focus in this new strategic paradigm. The US’ alliance with India is a geopolitical game-changer in Eastern Hemispheric affairs because it positions the South Asian state as the key component of the “Chinese Containment Coalition” that’s gradually being assembled against the People’s Republic, which in turn marries the two Great Powers’ interests and makes the US a stakeholder in India’s regional security. Accordingly, the overlap of interests that both of these allies have in stopping China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) has taken the form of the Hybrid War on CPEC against that global vision’s flagship project, ultimately manifesting itself in the upsurge of terrorist attacks committed over the past year by the so-called “Baloch Liberation Army” (BLA).

The Tip Of The Spear

While purporting to be a “national liberation movement” and being treated as such by the Mainstream Media, the BLA is really just a bunch of regional feudal terrorists that are doing the Hybrid War bidding of foreign powers. It’s enough to pair their directly stated objectives with the tacit ones of the US and India to realize this, especially keeping in mind the group’s latest video ultimatum to China over the weekend to discontinue its CPEC development projects in Pakistan’s Balochistan or face a renewed wave of terrorist attacks against its interests there like the recent Gwadar hotel storming that it proudly claimed credit for. There should be no doubt among objective observers that the BLA is an anti-Chinese terrorist organization tasked with being the tip of the US’ “Pivot to Asia’” spear by waging the Hybrid War on CPEC and destabilizing BRI as part of one of the most important proxy conflicts in the New Cold War, with the US and India also doing all they can to publicize the group’s goals and generate sympathy for them among the international audience.

Unreformable Feudalists

That second-mentioned point is actually much more difficult to do than it may seem because the BLA doesn’t even make a pretense of supporting anything “noble”, instead openly saying that it’ll continue carrying out terrorist attacks against civilians in order to forcibly drive out foreign investment from this historically underdeveloped province so as to safeguard the feudal structure that has survived there for centuries. Unlike the US’ usual terrorists of choice, the BLA aren’t pursuing a religiously fundamentalist vision but a separatist one, albeit a future where the traditions of the past predominate to the detriment of the locals’ socio-economic development. Baloch culture is still very tribal and controlled by chieftains who the locals are expected to remain loyal to, even though those communal leaders sometimes behave more like feudal lords by treating those below them as their personal property and depriving them of their wealth.

Chinese-Driven Socio-Economic Changes

That’s begun to change in recent years, however, as billions of dollars of Chinese investment flooded into the region and consequently saw the construction of modern-day transportation, health, educational, and social infrastructure through CPEC. China knows that Pakistan is the global pivot state because of its irreplaceable role at the crossroads of Eurasia’s many countries and civilizations, with its province of Balochistan being the fulcrum of this entire vision because it hosts the CPEC terminal port of Gwadar, hence why it’s investing so heavily in its potential all across the board. Be that as it may, some of the traditional feudal lords feel threatened by these changes because they know that their power over the people will naturally decline as the province becomes more developed, which is why they’re more than eager to engage in acts of terrorism against their homeland and its Chinese partner in order to preserve this failing system in which they have a key stake.

The US-Indian Proxy War

The US and India are well aware of this state of regional affairs and are attempting to exploit it to the utmost, taking advantage of the fact that this terrorist campaign is actually decades old but is being revived in response to CPEC and resultantly receiving a bunch of global news coverage because of it unlike before. To be clear, the Pakistani state is meeting the needs of the local population and addressing their various grievances, so those who are engaging in the BLA’s terrorism aren’t “freedom fighters” but loyal feudalists who are treasonously cooperating with foreign powers in order to suppress their own people. Even so, that angle of their campaign is conspicuously left out of the Mainstream Media’s coverage and only the anti-Chinese one is emphasized for reasons of “political convenience” since there’s a clear contradiction between the “democratic” principles that the US and India allege to support and the anti-democratic goals being advanced by the BLA.

BRI-Aid + PBU + Veterans = Democratic Security

It’s therefore important for Pakistan and China to draw international attention to the feudalist goals that foreign-backed Baloch terrorism is trying to achieve, as well as to highlight their own joint actions in bettering the lives of the local people there. The most effective “Democratic Security” (anti-Hybrid War) measure that could be implemented in the province is to promote patriotic organizations such as Dr. Jumma’s Pakistani Baloch Unity (PBU, formerly Overseas Pakistani Baloch Unity before its recent rebranding) and establish a workflow where Chinese humanitarian aid (“BRI-Aid“, the author’s name for this proposed concept modeled off of USAID) is distributed to the locals through the Baloch veterans of the Pakistan Armed Forces who could act as reliable conduits between civil society and the state. The creation of this interconnected structure linking together Chinese aid, local patriotic organizations, and reliable veteran conduits between the two would go a long way towards stabilizing the region, and this model could even be transplanted upon perfection to other BRI countries where similar Hybrid Wars are being waged such as Myanmar’s RakhineState.

Concluding Thoughts

China’s multibillion-dollar investments in Pakistan’s Balochistan are helping its people move from feudalism to the future, but some stakeholders in the old system militantly refuse to go along with this progressive process because they stand to lose power once their “subjects” are socio-economically liberated. In turn, they’ve renewed their terrorist campaign in the region with foreign assistance from the US and India in exchange for prioritizing these two Great Powers’ anti-Chinese objectives in the Hybrid War on CPEC, which explains why the so-called “Baloch Liberation Army” would so audaciously brag about its desire to kill as many Chinese and other civilians as possible yet doesn’t fear being branded as the terrorist organization that it truly is by the Mainstream Media. Far from being the “national liberation movement” that they purport to be, these fighters are nothing more than regional feudal terrorists who are doing the bidding of foreign powers, but the combination of kinetic and non-kinetic “Democratic Security” measures by the Pakistani state, its Chinese partners, and local patriotic organizations can eliminate this Hybrid War threat once and for all.

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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

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

The US is used to having its way in dealings with other countries — pressuring, bullying, warning, threatening, and attacking them to push them into compliance with its demands.

What once worked most often is increasingly a less effective strategy — notably with Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Russia and China.

These nations aren’t about to subordinate their sovereignty to US interests. On Saturday, Venezuelan military personnel participated in a march of loyalty to the Bolivarian Republic along with President Maduro, shouting:

“Only the ones who fight have a right to be. You will never invade my country. Listen to us small gringo. We are ready. With weapons in our hands…we are waiting for you.”

Iran wants peace, not war with the US or other countries. Its military commander General Hussein Salami said

“we are in an atmosphere of a full-blown intelligence war with the US and the front of enemies of the Revolution and the Islamic system,” adding:

“This atmosphere is a combination of psychological warfare and cyber operation, military provocations, public diplomacy and intimidation tactics.”

Hostile US actions toward the Islamic Republic haven’t worked for 40 years — nor will they likely succeed ahead.

Following the breakdown in US trade talks with China, its Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly told Pompeo by phone not to go “too far” in pushing China to go along with unacceptable Trump regime demands on trade and other issues.

According to China’s Xinhua, Beijing remains willing to negotiate with Washington to resolve bilateral differences — provided US officials show good faith.

China will suspend talks if the Trump regime maintains its toughness, including unacceptable sanctions, possible further ones, and actions against tech giant Huawei, blacklisting the company and its affiliates, shutting them out of the US market for phony national security reasons, aiming to give corporate America a competitive edge.

Following its unacceptable action against Huawei, China cancelled the purchase of 3,247 metric tons of US pork, the largest cut in over a year, following other cuts earlier this year, according to the US Agriculture Department.

Since China instituted a 25% tariff on US soybeans, exports to the country are half their earlier peak amount.

China is the world’s largest consumer of soybeans, importing 88 million tons in 2018, according to the General Administration of Customs, the cut in purchases from the US hitting its agribusiness hard.

According to Iowa Soybean Association president Lindsey Greiner,

“(i)f you asked me two weeks ago, I would have told you I was optimistic about a deal, but now I’ve just done a 180 and I’m not optimistic at all.”

Things have “gone from bad to worse. I had been optimistic but last week everything blew up. It’s not good for agriculture at all,” including for US producers of pork and other agricultural exports to China.

National Pork Producers Council president Jim Monroe said resolution of Sino/US trade differences is the top priority for pig farmers. Because of lost sales and lower prices,

“(w)e  continue to urge the administration to resolve trade disputes as quickly as possible,” he stressed, adding:

The “China deal doesn’t look good at all…(A)fter (talks broke down), I don’t have one ounce of optimism left in me…There’s no hope of making any money” without resolution of bilateral differences.

The US tariff hike on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 – 25%, perhaps followed by the same duty on over $300 billion more US exports to the country amounts to a large tax increase on American consumers and companies.

According to the Tax Foundation’s chief economist Kyle Pomerleau, it’s one of the largest tax increases in the last 20 years.

Penn-Wharton Budget Model economist Kent Smetters estimates it’ll cost a US household earning $61,000 from $500 to $550 annually.

According to Oxford Economics,25% US tariffs on all Chinese goods would cost US households around $800 annually, the economy to lose about half a percent of GDP, around 360,000 fewer jobs created.

As of now, no further Sino/US talks are scheduled. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences official Tao Wenzhao said further ones are fruitless unless “the US finally wakes up,” realizing that unacceptable demands on Beijing won’t work.

International relations expert Jia Qingguo said

“(t)he stand-off should last for a while because the US has refused to make even the slightest compromise – to a point that is somewhat unreasonable.”

Deals only work when fair to both sides. That’s not how the US operates, wanting things its way, demanding other nations comply.

Eleven rounds of Sino/US talks failed to get Beijing to bend to the Trump regime’s will. Nor will further talks as long as its demands remain unreasonable.

President of Huawei semiconductor affiliate HiSilicon He Tingbo said blacklisting the company won’t work. It’s “been preparing for the dark moment.” The action will make Huawei “even stronger,” adding:

“The US has completely abandoned commercial principles and disregarded law. Its barbaric behavior against Huawei by resorting to administrative power can be viewed as a declaration of war on China in the economic and technological fields.”

“It is time that the Chinese people throw away their illusions. Compromise will not lead to US goodwill…Any measure that can bite into the US and do no harm to China can be adopted.”

“The trade war launched by the US is becoming more and more like real war. At its core is the US resorts to unscrupulous means to suppress China while China is committed to crushing US arrogance.”

“The US has been telling its people that China would soon make compromises, and we must break such lies by making clear China will not sign any unequal deal.”

The Peope’s Daily, Beijing’s official newspaper, said

“China (won’t accept) unreasonable (US) demands.”

“(T)he Chinese nation has embarked on a journey toward the great rejuvenation. Any attempt to force China to sign an unequal treaty is not only an extreme ignorance of the modern history of China, but also a great provocation against the Chinese people.”

President Xi Jinping earlier said China won’t sacrifice its principles and interests. Expecting it by the US would be a major strategic blunder, adding:

Beijing won’t permit the US or any other nation to impede or undermine its economic, industrial or technological development. It’ll make no concessions on these core issues.

If Trump regime hardliners remain unbending, trade talks may be doomed to fail.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from CGTN

The public will have no right to information about issues which the new environmental watchdog, a public authority or a minister does not wish to disclose, according to the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

The watchdog is being set up under the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill in order to replace the oversight of the European Commission once the UK leaves the EU.

It will be able to investigate complaints alleging a serious failure by a public authority, and set out the measures it expects to be taken to correct this. If these are not complied with, it will be able to take legal action against the authority.

Aarhus

However, campaigners claim that under clause 28 of the bill, the public will have no right to information about investigations.

The clause states both that the OEP cannot disclose information it has obtained from an authority under investigation if the authority does not want it to, and that a public authority would be prohibited from disclosing correspondence relating to an investigation without the OEP’s consent.

Campaigners fear that this clause will override the right of access that would apply under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), through which the UK complies with the international Aarhus Convention governing rights of access to information on environmental matters.

Infraction

Campaigners argue that:

“This would be a major reversal of the progress made over more than 25 years in opening up environmental information – and a huge backward step for our right to know.”

A spokeswoman for the environment department (DEFRA) said that the government was committed to compliance with the Aarhus Convention, but information about the enforcement activity of the OEP needed to have an “appropriate degree” of protection to avoid prejudicing possible legal proceedings.

This was similar to arrangements in the EU where particular documents from the European Commission are not published while infraction cases are live, she added.

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Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.

Featured image is from The Ecologist

On 15 May 2019, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore addresses the United Nations Security Council. “Since the fighting in Yemen began four years ago, 7,300 children have been killed or seriously injured. These are verified numbers. The actual numbers are no doubt higher. The fighting still rages across 30 active conflict zones — home to nearly 1.2 million children. Each day, another eight children will be killed, injured or recruited to the fighting. Every 10 minutes, another child will die from a preventable cause,” states Fore.

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AS PREPARED

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director

UN Security Council: Yemen

New York, NY

May 15, 2019

Thank you, Mr. President.

Last month, a group of schoolchildren in Sana’a were doing what children around the world do every day, sitting in their classrooms, learning. Most were under the age of nine. It was almost lunchtime, when a sudden incident shattered the windows. Shrapnel and broken glass flew into the classrooms.

Imagine the fear these children experienced. Imagine the horror their parents felt for sending them to school that day — all so they could gain what every child deserves: an education. And imagine the pain endured by the families of the 14 children who never made it home at all. Or the desperate worry felt by the families of the 16 others who were critically injured, left fighting for their lives in the hospital. Or the other students who will live with the trauma of that day for the rest of their lives.

In any conflict, children suffer first, and worst.

Since the fighting in Yemen began four years ago, 7,300 children have been killed or seriously injured. These are verified numbers. The actual numbers are no doubt higher.

The fighting still rages across 30 active conflict zones — home to nearly 1.2 million children.

Each day, another eight children will be killed, injured or recruited to the fighting.

Every 10 minutes, another child will die from a preventable cause.

Like a lack of food, with 360,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. In fact, half the children under five years old in Yemen — 2.5 million — are stunted. And stunting is irreversible.

Like a lack of a simple vaccination — with 151 children dying of diphtheria since last August. Or like cholera and severe acute watery diarrhea. Despite the best efforts of the humanitarian community — including over two million doses of oral cholera vaccines delivered over the last year — there are over 135,000 suspected cases reported so far this year among children. Over 3,300 people have died of cholera since 2017 — including 153 children since January alone. A number that will increase as we head into the rainy season. And as always, the children die first.

And the UN has verified the recruitment and use of over 3,000 children by all parties to the conflict since the conflict began. That number is likely much higher. A flagrant and outrageous violation of international law.

As children’s lives are at risk, so too are their minds.

More than two million children are out-of-school. And one in five schools have been damaged or destroyed in the fighting. A huge blow to their future potential.

The situation has only gotten worse.

While the ceasefire has largely held in Hudaydah, other areas are seeing a rise in violence —  in Abs, Haijah, Taiz, Al Dhale’e and elsewhere.

Hospitals, clinics and water systems are in ruins — with half of the country’s hospitals and clinics destroyed.

In short — the systems that every child and family needs are failing.

At the same time, Yemen’s economy is in freefall.

A new report[1] commissioned by UNDP shows that Yemen — already one of the least-developed countries before the war — has lost an additional two decades’ worth of development gains since the war began.

Mr. President, we are at a tipping point. If the war continues any longer, the country may move past the point of no return.

As a global community, we must ask ourselves: Can Yemen afford losing a generation of children? Can the region — and indeed, the world — afford the instability and crushing poverty that will result? What will happen if Yemen descends into a full-blown famine? What happens now that the water table is so low that the small aquifers are below the required well depth? In some ways, this can be worse than famine, as lack of water can sicken and kill children. Are we prepared to subject a generation of children — and perhaps, their children — to this bleak future? How long will we continue allowing Yemen to slide into oblivion?

Our teams are working around the clock to prevent this from happening.

Last year, UNICEF and our humanitarian partners treated 345,000 severely malnourished children. Children whose mid-upper arm circumference is less than 11 centimetres — or three adult fingers in circumference.

We’re delivering safe drinking water to over five million people every day — including 1.7 million children — in the 15 main cities through municipal water systems.

We’re providing cash incentives to 7,000 health workers and 135,000 teachers and school staff — as many have not been paid in over two years.

And with key donors, we’re helping to keep alive almost nine million of the most vulnerable Yemeni people with emergency cash assistance.

But this work only addresses the symptoms of the catastrophe in Yemen.

To truly shape a better future for Yemen and its children, we need your engagement and influence to end this war on children. Now.

Yemen is spiraling perilously close to the brink.

We call on the Council to speak with one voice to protect the children of Yemen and stop grave violations against them.

We urge all parties to the conflict to open doors to immediate, long-term humanitarian access, and to allow days of tranquility to vaccinate and help children.

If we cannot reach them, we cannot keep them alive.

We must also re-double our support for the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to reach a negotiated political solution — one that puts children first.

As we fail these children, we fail more than their basic rights.

We fail humanity itself.

When I was in Sana’a and Aden, I visited hospitals and clinics shattered by the conflict.

I witnessed heartrending struggles to survive.

A newborn baby struggling to breathe in an incubator after all power was lost in the emergency room.

A distraught mother with a child thin and malnourished, begging for food.

A father weeping with so little money he was forced to choose between keeping his wife alive or his children.

Is this how we show our humanity to others?

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[1] Assessing the impact of war on development in Yemen, (2019) https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/ImpactOfWarOnDevelopmentInYemen.pdf

There is an extraordinary story published in The Guardian that, in my opinion, was not prominently positioned – with its opening explainer stating: “A leaked memo shows that the Department for Work and Pensions is about to embark on a PR campaign to defend its worst ever policy.”

The reality is that the government and the BBC are hooking up on a propaganda campaign to deceive the nation that their flagship policy – Universal Credit – widely described by just about everyone in the know as a total disaster, is indeed a miraculous success.

This story is extraordinary because Universal Credit is turning out to be a crime scene all of its own and for the government to use taxpayers money to deceive the public of anything else using the tactics of a full-on propaganda campaign is nothing short of an abuse of its position and of public office. This government is shameless, immoral and without principle.

The stories of the failure of UC are almost boundless.

Just six months ago the consequences of austerity, of which UC is the mothership, led to an accusation of “economic murder” in a paper published in the journal BMJ Open. Among its co-authors are academics from University College London, Cambridge University and Oxford University, three of the top academic institutions not just in Britain but in the world. They stated that 120,000 people in Britain have now died as a result of this failed economic plan, but the numbers are getting worse.

An Independent article on the subject last November highlighted just how bad the numbers were –

Every day there are 100 needless deaths in England, and they come as a result of government policy. Just think about that figure for a moment. It’s positively chilling. Just writing about it leaves me feeling in need of a valium. I’d imagine that would be true of anyone to whom empathy is not an alien concept.”

100 people a day is over 36,000 deaths a year. That is 21 times the fatality rate on Britain’s roads every year.

But Universal Credit has taken on a life (or death) all of its own and as a policy is nothing less than political savagery destined to kill yet more and the evidence is there right before our eyes. In 2015, it was known that 2,380 people died between 2011 and 2014 shortly after being declared able to work. These numbers were also forced out by Freedom of Information requests that had been continually refused. From there, the stories of UC and death escalate. From people overdosing and ending it all at the end of a rope to simply dying of the ailments that the government refused to accept and pulled their benefits on.

And the reaction of ministers to all this failure? A propaganda campaign to tell us that the opposite is true and to look the other way.

A memo from the DWP’s director of communications got leaked which condemns the “negativity and scaremongering” of UC.

As The Guardian reports –

What follows is an elaborate media strategy to manufacture a Whitehall fantasy, one in which the benefits system is running like a dream while a Conservative government generously helps people on the escalator to prosperity. It begins at the end of this month with a giant advert wrapped around the cover of the Metro newspaper; inside will be a further four-page advertorial feature. This will “myth-bust the common inaccuracies reported on UC”. What’s more, “the features won’t look or feel like DWP or UC – you won’t see our branding … We want to grab the readers’ attention and make them wonder who has done this ‘UC uncovered’ investigation.”

That little exercise will burn £250,000 of taxpayers much-needed cash.

Next up, the secretary of state, Amber Rudd, will invite “a wide range of journalists at regional and national publications … to come [to a jobcentre] and see the great work we do”.

As the Guardian says, the Jobcentres will be carefully chosen and everything will be nicely stage-managed, all sparkly and running tickety-boo.

Then, the BBC gets wheeled on as its main propagandist. They have commissioned a documentary series of three, which is “looking to intelligently explore UC” by filming inside these jobcentres.

When the civil servants’ trade union, the PCS, found out about the filming, it asked if staff could talk frankly to the crew, only to be told no.

The reporter for the Guardian Aditya Chakrabortty who wrote the article said –

staff are unhappy about being identified on screen. At one of the nominated jobcentres, in Toxteth in Liverpool, “It is our understanding that there have been no volunteers to take part in the filming. When I contacted the DWP it refused to answer even the most basic of questions, advising me to submit them via a freedom of information request.”

All the editing will be through the BBC, no-one can question its accuracy.

The article then cited Jennifer Jones, who is severely disabled and at the mercy of the government and UC. She quite rightly put it that:

They’re taking money off the public, to lie to us about how well universal credit is working. They could be spending that money on us, but they’re spending it to con us,” she said. “It’s scary our government doing that.

In summary, the government have rolled out a policy that is known to kill people, it then takes taxpayers cash to create a propaganda campaign to tell the rest of us to look the other way. In the meantime, if anyone is any doubt that the BBC is not a state mouthpiece, this article should at least put you right.

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An American doctor who conducted several medical and mental health evaluations of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London over the last two years says that she believes she was spied on and that the confidentiality of her doctor-patient relationship with Assange was violated.

Dr. Sondra Crosby, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Boston University and an expert on the physical and psychological impact of torture, has evaluated detainees held by the United States, including at its prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. She quietly began meeting with and evaluating Assange in 2017 inside the embassy where he had sought refuge.

During her last session with Assange on February 23, Crosby says that her confidential medical notes were removed when she briefly left the embassy to get food to bring back to Assange who, she wrote, “had not eaten.” The notes were taken from where she had been evaluating Assange and only later discovered in another space used by the embassy’s surveillance staff.

“Mr. Assange’s right to doctor-patient confidentiality was violated, and his confidential information had been breached,” Crosby wrote in a March 1 affidavit she gave to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In her affidavit, she states that her medical notes were “presumably” read by embassy personnel.

She also says that her medical visit with Assange in February was monitored by two cameras, and that she had to speak with Assange “over the noise of a radio playing” to mask their conversations because of what he said were listening devices in the room.

In addition, when she returned to the embassy after getting food, she was questioned by embassy security staff and asked for a copy of her medical license, even though she had earlier provided her passport and explained the purpose of her visit.

“The hostile, nonconfidential, and intimidating environment was palpable,” she wrote in her affidavit.

In an April 8 letter sent to both U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and Dunja Mijatovic, the commissioner for human rights for the Council of Europe, Crosby added that during her February visit to the embassy, the conditions of Assange’s confinement had significantly worsened since her first visit in 2017. Her letter noted the severe psychological toll Assange suffered in his prolonged and indefinite confinement.

“Mr. Assange’s situation [inside the embassy] differs from a typical prisoner in a conventional prison,” she wrote in her letter. “In fact, his position is worse than a conventional prison in many respects. His confinement is indefinite and uncertain, which increases chronic stress and its myriad of chronic physical and serious psychological risks, including suicide.”

During seven years of confinement, Assange had suffered “a number of serious deleterious effects of sunlight deprivation,” she wrote, including “neuropsychological impairment, weakened bones, decreased immune function, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer.” He also displayed physical and psychological symptoms as a result of “prolonged social isolation and sensory deprivation.”

“I believe the psychological, physical, and social [aftereffects] will be long-lasting and severe,” Crosby wrote.

Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy and arrested by British authorities on April 11, three days after her letter was sent to the U.N. and the Council of Europe. He is now in prison in Britain on charges of jumping bail, but also faces an indictment in the United States on a hacking charge in connection with the 2010 publication of classified U.S. documents obtained from former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Assange has been charged in the U.S. with trying to help Manning crack a government password; he also faces the possibility of a renewed investigation by Sweden into sexual assault charges. His lawyers have vowed to fight his extradition.

Assange sought refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in 2012, when Sweden was seeking his extradition in the sexual assault case, and remained in the embassy until his arrest last Thursday. British officials repeatedly vowed to arrest him for jumping bail if he ever set foot outside the embassy.

In 2012, when Ecuador agreed to give Assange refuge, the country had a leftist president, Rafael Correa, who was sympathetic to the WikiLeaks founder. But Ecuador’s current president, Lenín Moreno, has been far less tolerant of Assange and grew impatient with his presence in the embassy.

Both before and since his arrest and expulsion from the embassy, Assange has been criticized and mocked for his erratic behavior. But Crosby’s observations and statements make it clear that he has suffered severe psychological harm.

Crosby wrote in her letter to the U.N. and the Council of Europe that Assange suffered from “multiple medical conditions” that had become “more complex and urgent” over the two years she had evaluated him. “He has no ability to access necessary medical care, and he does not have access to the outdoors and sunlight. Even minimum standards for prisoners dictate at least one hour of sunlight daily and access to natural light.”

While the British government and Assange’s many critics say that it was his choice to stay in the embassy, Crosby argues that Assange was denied the fundamental right to health care that should have been afforded to him as a refugee.

In her April 8 letter, Crosby wrote that the “highest priority” for Assange’s medical care was his “critical need for an oral surgery procedure,” adding that “the severe daily pain” from his dental condition is “inhumane.” She had consulted with a dentist who had examined Assange, she wrote, and learned that the dental surgery could not be performed in the embassy. In her letter, Crosby says that the British government had repeatedly rejected requests to give Assange safe passage to a hospital for treatment.

In addition to Crosby, Dr. Brock Chisholm, a British clinical psychologist who was previously retained as an expert witness in a case involving allegations of torture at CIA black sites, evaluated Assange over the past two years. Dr. Sean Love, now at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, initially met with Assange and arranged for an introduction to Crosby and Chisholm, but did not conduct any of the evaluations. Love said that Assange and WikiLeaks gave the doctors permission to make Crosby’s affidavit and letter public.

Love criticized the British government for denying Assange medical care while he was in the embassy.

“Whatever you think of his politics, he is a human being,” Love said, “and under international law, he deserved to be treated fairly and not in cruel or inhumane ways.”

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US rulers promised that technology would bring the return of the millions of jobs that were outsourced to low-wage countries, but America has lost the hi-tech race and excels only in weapons of war.

The early U.S. global hi-tech lead was squandered in the chaotic and criminally wasteful corporate capitalist game of all-or-nothing.”

If you can’t pronounce Huawei (Wah-Way), then you won’t be able to explain to your grandchildren how the United States definitively lost the race for planetary technological supremacy, the last non-military contest with China that American capitalism had any chance of winning. The inherent inferiority of the chaotic U.S.-led system is now manifest – even to the thick-skulled Donald Trump, who only three months ago held off on banning U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei, the China-based world leader in 5G technology. Back in February Trump tweeted that he wanted American companies to win the ultra-high speed mobile telecommunications race by competition and “not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies,” meaning Huawei. “American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind.” But Trump is expected to sign the Huawei banning order this week , having finally despaired of making U.S. hi-tech “great again” by peaceful means. The only card the U.S has left to play, is war.

The inherent inferiority of the chaotic U.S.-led system is now manifest.”

The U.S. 5G eclipse by China is permanent, rooted in the systemic mayhem of the imperial economic (dis)order. Although the U.S. virtually invented the Internet as a byproduct of military technology, the early U.S. global hi-tech lead was squandered in the chaotic and criminally wasteful corporate capitalist game of all-or-nothing. As recounted by the South China Morning Post (“How US went from telecoms leader to 5G also-ran without challenger to China’s Huawei”) the U.S. refused to set national standards for mobile carriers, allowing tech companies to choose between wireless networks like TDMA, CDMA and GSM. Since 1987 — the year Huawei was founded — Europe has mandated that all its wireless systems use the GSM standard. But the Americans allowed U.S. corporations to wager billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of competing jobs on rival mobile systems. The deregulation of U.S. telecommunications in 1996 further fueled the high-tech capitalist pandemonium. “The US was like the Wild West,” said Thomas J. Lauria, a former AT&T employee, telecoms analyst and author of the book The Fall of Telecom. “Europe managed itself more contiguously than the US, they did not have a lot of disparate networks and picked the [GSM] standard that everyone had to agree to.”

“The deregulation of U.S. telecommunications in 1996 further fueled the high-tech capitalist pandemonium.”

U.S. high-tech firms fought it out among themselves tooth and nail, ignoring the GSM standard and betting that, once one of them won dominant market share and bankrupted or absorbed the others, their corporation would be king of the monopoly capitalist hill, and that U.S. global clout would then propel them to the top of the world. “In many aspects, the era from the early 1990s to mid 2000s was lost time for the US mobile industry,” said Bengt Nordstrom, chief executive of Northstream, a Stockholm-based consultancy. But in the hi-tech arena, a decade is a lifetime. The rise of China would not allow the U.S. the privilege of imperial technological resurrection.

There’s more to this story, but let’s stop right here before some of our readers start mourning the loss of jobs and capital that will result from America’s fall from preeminence in technology — the competitive edge that was supposed to compensate for the systemic outsourcing of the nation’s manufacturing jobs to the low wage South and East of the planet, including China. Throughout the nineties, Americans were told not to worry, because those gritty industrial jobs would be replaced by clean, well-paid hi-tech employment for everyone willing to learn new skills like computer programming and code-writing. But we soon discovered that most of those jobs would be outsourced, too, or performed by low-paid, hi-tech imported workers from the global South and East. Technology is not the cure for U.S. capitalism’s ills. To paraphrase a clichéd term, “It’s the system, stupid.”

“The era from the early 1990s to mid 2000s was lost time for the US mobile industry.”

Under late stage capitalism, high technology is a tool of accelerated economic consolidation — monopolization — and marginalization of workers. Armed with hi-tech tools, Jeff Bezos now wages a war of annihilation against retail commerce, one of the last remaining mass employment sectors in the U.S., while other digital oligarchs publicly proclaim their intention to deploy “the internet of things” – based on 5G technology — to wipe out much of the rest of existing employment. Silicon Valley plutocrats scheme to create a world with few workers, where trillionaire owners of technology rule. A subsistence wage would be doled out to the masses, so they can pay for hi-tech connectivity to the networks that surveil and disinform them. And that’s the least dystopian of our prospects under late stage capitalism. In a racist United States, the worst scenario is always the most likely for the descendants of Africa.

As chief executive of the U.S. capitalist (dis)order, Donald Trump will try to “make America great again” by playing the only cards remaining in the imperial deck: military coercion and the weaponized dollar. The corporate Democrats that hope to succeed Trump will rattle the same missiles and sanctions, blaming China’s command economy for the contradictions of U.S. capitalism in decline. Both corporate parties are singing the same death dirge for the nation and the world. There is only one escape: overthrow the rule of the rich. Under their reign, the U.S. is no longer the “greatest” at anything but mass incarceration, the amassing of weapons of destruction, and the maintenance of a worldwide system of surveillance that hears and watches everyone with a telephone or computer.

A Russian news analyst had an interesting take on America’s eclipse in the race for 5G: “US universal surveillance of everyone outside of America is in serious trouble.”

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BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

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Nicaragua in the Shadow of Western Fascism

May 21st, 2019 by Stephen Sefton

In her Sorbonne University exam results, French philosopher Simone Weil scored better than Simone de Beauvoir or Jean Paul Sartre. She well understood the varieties of Western fascism and imperialism. So it’s worth paying attention to her remark that Europeans were shocked by Nazi crimes because the Nazis did to them what Europeans did to the people in their colonies. Weil’s remark was hardly news to people in the majority world, but it bears repeating to people in North America and Europe now.

Current US and EU foreign policy embodies fascism in terms of its aspect combining corporate power with State power and policy. The glitzy contemporary version prioritizes monopoly corporate finance and media as means to achieving what the US and EU elites want, avoiding the mass destruction of war with uncertain global outcomes against obdurate, determined antagonists. That is the underlying meaning of contemporary sanctions and psychological warfare against Russia, China, North Korea, Syria and, in Latin America, against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, this reality is self-evident given the nature of US and EU proxies. The US and the EU support repressive organized-crime regimes in Colombia, Brazil and Argentina and those regimes’ counterparts among the political opposition of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. A corollary of that support is the inability of these subaltern political blocs to tell the truth or honor agreements, exactly like their overseers in North America and Europe.

Examples abound of this reality. Early in 2018 the Venezuelan opposition was on the point of signing an agreement with President Nicolas Maduro’s government but dropped out at the very last minute on orders from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Similarly, the US authorities unilaterally abandoned the process easing tensions with Cuba after years of negotiations and just recently they intensified sanctions by activating previously unused measures under the notorious Helms-Burton Act.

In Colombia, the latest violation of the increasingly debased peace agreement has been the re-arrest of Jesus Santrich on phony narcotics charges after his release under the agreement’s key judicial provision, the Special Peace Jurisdiction. That abuse of the agreement follows over 120 murders of demobilized FARC fighters by Colombia’s army and their  narco-terror paramilitary allies. Similar gross bad faith characterizes right wing abuse of judicial practice in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador and the desperate, unsuccessful maneuvers of the opposition in Bolivia against the presidential candidacy of Evo Morales.

This is the regional context for the political negotiations here in Nicaragua between President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government and the US bought-and-paid-for opposition. In contrast to the political opposition in Venezuela, in Nicaragua the talks are not even with elected politicians. The US controlled opposition representatives have deliberately excluded electorally bankrupt right wing political parties from the talks The opposition negotiators are almost without exception individuals from organizations dependent one way or another on US financial support.

The Nicaraguan government has accepted talks with these unrepresentative opposition figures in a process mediated by the Papal Nuncio and a delegate from the Organization of American States. The discussions have been continuing formally since March this year with some progress on issues like the conditional release of prisoners convicted of crimes during last year’s failed coup attempt, the return of opposition supporters who fled the country last year, electoral reforms and reinforcing existing constitutional guarantees. All of these are important concessions by the government.

For their part, the opposition refuse to commit either to renouncing future violence or to a joint call with the government for an end to sanctions damaging the Nicaraguan economy. Nor do they seem open to agreeing a mechanism guaranteeing the implementation of any final agreement that may be reached. In effect, they seem to think the threat of continuing US sanctions and even intervention exonerates them from making any meaningful concessions.

As the talks wear on, the government’s good faith contrasts more and more strongly with the opposition’s bad faith, both to the majority of Nicaragua’s people and to the mediating delegates.  As a smokescreen for their perfidy, the opposition periodically stage distractions either via media theatricals or calculated violence. The latest example of this has been a series of attacks by opposition prisoners in the penitentiary where they are detained. But the Nicaraguan authorities preempted the propaganda value of those attacks by inviting the Red Cross to monitor conditions for those prisoners, a measure which has undercut the opposition’s false claims of abuse.

Two things remain absolutely clear at this stage of the failed US and EU attempts to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Firstly, people supporting the Nicaraguan opposition are accomplices to profoundly anti-democratic, anti-humanitarian Western government efforts at regime change against a successful progressive government. Secondly, like their fascist counterparts in Venezuela and Colombia, the Nicaraguan opposition are treacherous quislings committed to serving and obeying foreign corporate interests. They have nothing to offer in response to the impeccable national human development plan of President Ortega’s Sandinista government.

Everything suggests that the opposition delegates are determined to find an excuse either to walk away from the current talks or to renege on any eventual agreement. President Ortega’s government negotiators have already made and implemented important concessions but are sticking to their demand that the opposition call for an end to sanctions. In the end, a final agreement may well be reached, but the US and EU owners of Nicaragua’s opposition will never let them honor it. In fact, it may not be entirely true that Nicaragua’s opposition have no plan for their country: they want to be the rulers of a neoliberal hell like Honduras or Haiti.

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Illusory Freedoms

May 21st, 2019 by Prof. Yakov M. Rabkin

On April 19 Google disabled the accounts of Press TV, an Iranian news service.  Google denied Press TV access to all its services, including the video streaming platform YouTube and the e-mail service Gmail.  The company’s move took place without prior notice or subsequent explanation. Iran is a founding member of the United Nations and a country that has not attacked another one for over three centuries. But it resists American hegemony and is therefore a target of military threats from the United States, which has surrounded Iran by dozens of its bases.

Google’s action reminded me the swift cancellation by Visa and Mastercard of the accounts collecting donations for Wikileaks in 2011. Its founder Assange had brought upon himself the ire of American officials upset about the revelations of their country’s misbehaviour in foreign wars. Similarly, five years later, the National Westminster Bank denied services to the British branch of RT, Russia Today, the TV channel funded by the Russian Federation.

There must be other instances of ready compliance of corporations with the wishes of Western governments in the absence of court injunctions. This readiness brings to light an obvious but often neglected fact, namely that seemingly neutral and transnational services we use every day belong to Western corporations. For example, Expedia, Booking and Airbnb would not allow reservations in the Crimea but welcome customers to reserve lodgings in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 against the will of its Palestinian population. Some occupied territories are apparently more occupied and deserving of sanctions than others.

Western sanctions are effective because they exploit globalization and the ensuing dependence on Western services, which are assumed to be politically neutral. After all, they belong to the private sector, not to the government. This is a naïve belief in view of the close relations between corporations and governments. The revolving door practice ensures regular interchange between the corridors of political power and the corporate boardrooms. It has also been remarked that governments act as trade unions for the capitalists. The interests of the two are often indistinguishable.

Western governments havelong been concerned about cyberwars, hacking attacks and other forms of invisible subversion. Now, their concern has broadened to include “cognitive security”. NATO has established an office in Riga, Stratcom, on the border of Russia, to engage in psychological and information activities in order “to promote NATO’s military aims”. Among other functions, Stratcomsignals “pro-Russia ” sources to internal security agencies in NATO countries, who, in turn, may pay visits to such identified authors to make sure they are in check, as it happened to a colleague of mine in Montreal who had published articles in English on a website in Russia.

None of this is new to me personally. I grew up in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, where foreign broadcasts in Russian were jammed and dissidents daring to publish abroad were harassed. When emigrating from my native Leningrad in 1973, I would have never believed that such practices would be continued by governments priding themselves for being democratic.

The Internet has brought us seemingly unlimited access to sources of information around the world. Whether we use it or not is another matter. In Winter 2014 I was teaching a course of the history of the 20th century Russia. Even though the course was not compulsory, there were 160 students in the classroom, full capacity. Someone asked me about the events then unfolding in Kiev. In the traditional Jewish manner, I answered the question with a question : « Who among you have opened Ukrainian sites in Western languages in recent days? » Two students raised their hands. The rest, albeit interested in that part of the world since they were taking my course, never bothered to use their computers and smartphones to see what is being said in the country involved.

Freedom can be restricted not only by governments and corporations, but also by our own complacency.

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Yakov M. Rabkin is Professor of History at the Université de Montréal and a founding member of Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices; his recent book is Demodernization: A Future in the Past (Columbia University Press). He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

In Sweden, prosecutors have applied to the Swedish courts to issue a warrant for Julian’s arrest. There is a tremendous back story to that simple statement.

The European Arrest Warrant must be issued from one country to another by a judicial authority. The original Swedish request for Assange’s extradition was not issued by any court, but simply by the prosecutor. This was particularly strange, as the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm had initially closed the case after deciding there was no case to answer, and then another, highly politically motivated, prosecutor had reopened the case and issued a European Arrest Warrant, without going to any judge for confirmation.

Assange’s initial appeal up to the UK Supreme Court was in large part based on the fact that the warrant did not come from a judge but from a prosecutor, and that was not a judicial authority. I have no doubt that, if any other person in the UK had been the accused, the British courts would not have accepted the warrant from a prosecutor. The incredible and open bias of the courts against Assange has been evident since day 1. My contention is borne out by the fact that, immediately after Assange lost his case against the warrant in the Supreme Court, the British government changed the law to specify that future warrants must be from a judge and not a prosecutor. That is just one of the incredible facts about the Assange case that the mainstream media has hidden from the general public.

The judgement against Assange in the UK Supreme Court on the point of whether the Swedish Prosecutor constituted a “judicial authority” hinged on a completely unprecedented and frankly incredible piece of reasoning. Lord Phillips concluded that in the English text of the EWA treaty “judicial authority” could not include the Swedish prosecutor, but that in the French version “autorite judiciaire” could include the Swedish prosecutor. The two texts having equal validity, Lord Phillips decided to prefer the French language text over the English language text, an absolutely stunning decision as the UK negotiators could be presumed to have been working from the English text, as could UK ministers and parliament when they ratified the decision.

I am not making this up – you will find Phillips amazing bit of linguistic gymnastics here on page 9 para 21 of his judgement. Again, it is impossible that this would have been done to anybody but Julian Assange; and had it been the outcry from the MSM against the preference given to French wording and thus French legal tradition would have been deafening. But given the state’s unhidden animus against Assange, it all was passed quietly with the law simply amended immediately thereafter to stop it happening to anybody else.

The law having been changed, this time the Swedes have to do it properly and actually go to a court to issue a warrant. That is what is now happening. As usual, the Guardian today cannot resist the temptation to tell an outright lie about what is happening.

The main headline is completely untrue. Sweden has not filed a request for arrest. Sweden is going through its judicial processes – which it skipped the first time – in order to decide whether or not to file a request for arrest. This gives Assange the opportunity to start the process of fighting the allegations, which he strenuously denies, in the Swedish courts. However at present his Swedish lawyer cannot access him in Belmarsh high security jail, which is typical of the abuses of process to which he is subject.

It is not political correctness which prevents the UK mainstream media from investigating the extraordinary nature of the allegations against Assange in Sweden. In the case of Nafissatou Diallo, for example, the entire UK mainstream media had no compunction whatsoever in publishing the name of the alleged victim from the very first moment of the allegations against DSK, and the likelihood or otherwise of the entire story was raked through in detail by every single national newspaper, and extensively by the BBC.

I have never heard anybody even attempt to explain why it was OK for the MSM to look in detail at Diallo’s accusations and use her name, but Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen must never be named and their story must never be doubted. The answer is not the position in Swedish law – the Swedish law states that neither the accuser nor the accused may be named, which law has been gleefully broken in Assange’s case every day for nine years. When it comes to Assange, he is simply to be reviled. He is provably treated differently by both state and MSM at all points. It does not matter to them that his arrest warrant was not from a judge, or that the media apply entirely different rules to investigating his case, enforced by a feminist mantra they do not believe or uphold in other cases. He is simply to be hated without question.

Why has there never been a documentary in the UK like the brilliant “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange” from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship Four Corners programme? Please do watch if you have not done so already.

Julian Assange revolutionised publishing by bringing the public direct access to massive amounts of raw material showing secrets the government wished to hide. By giving the public this direct access he cut out the filtering and mediating role of the journalistic and political classes. Contrast, for example, the Panama Papers which, contrary to promises, only ever saw less than 2% of the raw material published and where major western companies and individuals were completely protected from revelation because of the use of MSM intermediaries. Or compare Wikileaks to the Snowden files, the vast majority of which have now been buried and will never be revealed, after foolishly being entrusted to the Guardian and the Intercept. Assange cut out the intermediary role of the mediating journalist and, by allowing the people to see the truth about how they are governed, played a major role in undercutting public confidence in the political establishment that exploits them.

There is an interesting parallel with the reaction to the work of Reformation scholars in translating the Bible into vernacular languages and giving the populace direct access to its contents, without the mediating filters of the priestly class. Such developments will always provoke extraordinary venom from those whose position is threatened. I see a historical parallel between Julian Assange and William Tyndale in this respect. It is something worth bearing in mind in trying to understand the depth of the State’s hatred of Julian.

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Across the globe, popular weed killer Roundup has been making headline news over it’s controversial active ingredient glyphosate, which is allegedly causing various types of cancer in Roundup users.

Since August 2018, a number of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of Roundup products, Monsanto, with three major trials concluding with verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs. Juries have decided against Monsanto, now acquired by Bayer AG, saying the company did not fairly warn consumers of the potential dangers of one of their major ingredients.

Recently, the scientific evidence for glyphosate’s carcinogenic properties has been disputed. Increased scrutiny followed the EPAs April press release which stated that “[the] review process for herbicide glyphosate, reaffirms no risk to public health.” However, other health organizations are continuing to standby the declaration of glyphosate being considered, “probably carcinogenic to humans,” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

January 2016 – August 2018: Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company

Image result for dewayne johnson + monsanto

Dewayne Johnson, school groundskeeper for the California county school system, was the first individual to file a personal injury lawsuit against Monsanto. Johnson alleged that after regular exposure to glyphosate containing Roundup, he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Citing the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Johnson built a case around the argument that glyphosate are classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

In addition, confidential documents were released during the proceedings revealing evidence Monsanto had “ghostwritten” a number of important documents relating to Roundup product research and glyphosate exposure. Furthermore, the evidence presented by the plaintiff found Monsanto colluded with officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to suppress the negative news released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, questioning the safety of glyphosate.

In August 2018, Johnson received $39 million in compensatory damages, and $250 million in punitive damages, totaling $289 million. However, In October, Judge Suzanne Bolanos of the San Francisco Superior Court drastically reduced the award for punitive damages after ruling the settlement should follow a 1:1 ratio with the compensatory damages.

As a result, the award initial $250 million settlement for punitive damages was cut to $39.25 million to match the compensatory damage award, which reduced the overall settlement to $78.5 million total. As stated by case coverage from the US Right to Know, Johnson is currently cross appealing this decision in an attempt to recover the $289 million settlement he was initially awarded.

In 2018, Bayer AG acquired Monsanto, and as of April 2019 has set forth an appeal to the $78.5 million settlement claiming there was “no evidence” that glyphosate, caused the plaintiffs cancer. Bayers response to these cases are clearly illustrated, as a press release made by the company states, “Bayer stands behind [Roundup] products and will continue to vigorously defend them,”

February 2016 – March 2019: Edwin Hardeman v Monsanto Company

Edwin Hardeman, a 70 year old California man, worked with Roundup for 40+ years to kill the common weeds, poison oak, and overgrowth that covered his property. Hardeman relied on the product heavily until he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in fall 2015.

Hardeman was the second individual to file a class action lawsuit against Monsanto Company. His case presented various scientific studies that glyphosate-containing Roundup products could disturb cell division in sea urchins and affect cell cycle regulation in humans.

The third and fourth studies that Hardeman referenced examined the chemical composition of the herbicide. The results of which identified that the Roundup formula was more toxic than glyphosate alone, and the specific chemical composition has an affect on human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells.

In combination with the above evidence, Hardeman’s lawyers claimed that Monsanto knew about these dangers, but failed to properly warn consumers. Deliberation took five days and the result was a unanimous decision made by the jury, in which Hardeman was awarded $80 million in compensatory damages. However, this case is also under appeal by Bayer, as they hope for a settlement reduction.

March 2019 – May 2019: Alva and Alberta Pilliod v Monsanto Company

In the most recent Roundup trial, Northern California couple Alva (age 76) and Alberta Pilliod (age 74) had been using Roundup since the early ‘80s, applying the product to weeds and other nuisance plants they found on their personal and income properties regularly. Although both individuals used the product extensively, neither of them had much warning of the potential effects this consumer weed killer could have on their health, which lead them to believe the product was safe to use without protective equipment.

Both were eventually diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Alva in 2011 and Alberta in 2015. Although both Alva and Alberta had a significantly shortened life expectancy, both are currently in remission from their cancer. However, due to their conditions and age, the Pilliods’ trial date was moved forward under California law.

The expedited trial resulted in unanimous decision by the jury claiming Monsanto had acted maliciously, and refused to look into the potential short and long-term health effects of the primary ingredient found in Roundup, glyphosate.

On April 23, 2019, the Pilliod’s received $55 million in compensatory damages, and were both individually awarded $1 billion in punitive damages. The total judgement amount topped $2.055 billion. Bayer has announced that they are “disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case,” as they have with the other cases with similar verdicts.

The Future of Roundup Lawsuits

In April 2019 the judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation made a rebuttal to impact future trials. Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ordered the participants in the latest Roundup trial to find a mediator they could both work with. In addition, he stated, If they can’t find one, “the court will appoint someone”.

With hopes is that both parties can find a mediator, Chhabria believes this action could potentially resolve the thousands of cases currently in federal court which Chhabria also notes that multidistrict litigation could be the best way to organize the more than 13,400 currently pending lawsuits.

Following up on May 22, Judge Chhabria plans to discuss their progress and plans moving forward to appoint a suitable mediator.

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The Trump administration’s war hawks couldn’t have asked for a more docile casus belli than the Katyusha rocket that landed a mile outside the US embassy in Baghdad’s American-occupied Green Zone on Sunday night, sparing persons, property, and the pride of a president who must have begun to doubt whether the mounting tensions between the US and Iran had any basis in reality at all – or whether the deliberately vague “credible intelligence” on the Iranian “threat” supplied by the Mossad was not a trick to convince the US to take out Israel’s last regional rival. 

The plucky little rocket injured no one, and the launcher that fired it was immediately recovered by Iraqi security services in a canal in East Baghdad, which Israeli media breathlessly reported is “home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.” Authorities found no clues as to who had fired the rocket, but a narrative trap was clearly being laid. “Non-emergency” US government personnel had been safely bundled out of the Iraqi embassy by the State Department last Wednesday, supposedly due to an “imminent threat” from Iran, and even Exxon-Mobil had interrupted its plunder of Iraq’s resources, pulling 30 engineers off a Basra oil field as a “temporary precautionary measure.”

Despite its uselessness as an offensive measure, the lonely rocket fulfills the purposefully broad criteria set forth by “Rapture Mike” Pompeo earlier this month when he warned that any attacks on “US interests or citizens” by “Iran or its proxies” would be met with a “swift and decisive” response. In a “coincidence” that should surprise no one, the malignant manatee followed those remarks with a statement celebrating Israel’s National Day and promising to “work toward a safer, more stable, and more prosperous” – and presumably depopulated of all those pesky Persians – “Middle East.”

Trump met with Bolton and other members of his cabinet on Sunday night to discuss the strike. While the State Department made ominous noises, its statement officially found no responsibility as yet; the president, however, had apparently made up his mind who to blame, and Bolton made up his mind decades ago.

It’s unlikely this will be the last provocation, either. Despite an “emergency” visit from Pompeo to Baghdad earlier this month in which he paid lip service to Iraqi “independence” while warning “any attack by Iran or its proxies on American forces in Iraq would affect the Iraqi government too,” Iraqi ambassador to Russia Haidar Mansour Hadi has said in no uncertain terms that Iraq will not allow the US to use it as a staging ground for an invasion of Iran. A few people would presumably have to die or be kidnapped before the Iraqis permit their country to be used as a launchpad for World War III by someone whose idea of international diplomacy is basically “that’s a nice sovereign nation you got there – sure would be a shame if we had to invade it a third time.” Though with 5,000 American troops still stationed in Iraq nearly a decade after Obama supposedly ended that war, the second invasion never really finished.

Unwilling to allow Mossad to hog the credit for predicting “Iran”‘s curiously self-defeating act of amateur rocketry, the State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory on Wednesday, warning US citizens in Iraq that they are at “high risk for violence and kidnapping” from “numerous terrorist and insurgent groups” as well as “anti-US sectarian militias” – who also threaten “western companies.” That warning followed a similar notice from the US Maritime Administration cautioning ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz to give the US a few days notice, the better to attack them and blame Iran – er, protect them.

The Baghdad rocket attack, almost a carbon copy of the pointless “Hamas rocket strikes” Israel stages whenever it wants to derail peace talks or just flatten a few blocks in Gaza, comes almost exactly a week after four oil tankers mysteriously sprouted holes in their sides just below the water line, large enough to attract attention but small enough not to spill a single drop of precious oil or risk sinking the vessels. An anonymous US military source was breathlessly quoted blaming the “sabotage” on Iran the day after the “attack,” as if Americans had learned nothing in Syria other than that rushing into war without all the facts is a great way to cheer up Lockheed Martin stockholders.

Given the newly-leaked OPCW report confirming that last year’s “chemical attack” in Douma, which was immediately pinned on Bashar al-Assad without a shred of evidence based on the word of Oscar-winning terrorist head-choppers the White Helmets, was instead the work of anti-government rebels, the US should be doubly cautious about retaliating against any perceived attack. But Bolton and Pompeo have been baying for Iranian blood for over a decade now, and even the most transparently absurd excuse will do (the Onion’s headline “Bleeding John Bolton stumbles into Capitol Building claiming that Iran shot him” barely counts as satire).

Even if Iran, which has repeatedly said it does not want war with the US, suddenly developed a death wish, it wouldn’t waste its critical first strike on an abandoned building a mile from the American embassy – not when there’s billions of dollars worth of juicy American aircraft carrier sitting in the Gulf, one well-placed missile away from Davy Jones’ locker.

Like the Douma “chemical attack,” this rocket strike does not benefit the government in any way. Iran has nothing to gain by bringing down the full force of the American regime-change machine on its head by crossing Pompeo’s ridiculously vague red line (more of a red blob, really), even if, per the Pentagon’s own 2002 ‘war-gaming’ of the conflict, the US is unlikely to win the resulting war. Just as Nikki Haley’s warning that Assad would be blamed for all chemical attacks was a green light to rebel groups to stage false flag events and pin them on the government, so the Trump administration has essentially issued an open invitation to all Iran’s enemies to attack something – anything – in the CENTCOM region and point to Tehran as the culprit.

As usual, the only winner in this scenario is Israel, whose PM Benjamin Netanyahu actually had the chutzpah to tell US officials that his country wasn’t interested in direct participation in the war he’s been trying to start for the better part of three decades – even as his military official was in the New York Times trying to goad Trump into firing the first shot.

“If the Americans now act like nothing happened — ‘Iran didn’t spit on us, it’s only rain’ – it’s catastrophic, because it’s saying to the Iranians, ‘We won’t interfere.’ What kind of Middle East will we face when it’ll be clear to other countries that Americans are not ready to fulfill what people expect them to do?” Israeli military intelligence officer Yaakov Amidror asked, horrified by a world in which Israel is not able to run around throwing sand in the faces of the bigger kids on the geopolitical playground, safe in the knowledge that Big Daddy ‘Murica will come to its rescue, guns blazing. Saudi Arabia, too, has also claimed it wants no part of this war, even as it joins the US in blaming Iran for the holes in its ships and continues to blame Iran for the Houthis’ refusal to lay down and die in Yemen.

Nor have the US’ usual partners in war crime taken the bait. British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, deputy commander of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition, told reporters on Tuesday there was “no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” triggering a sharp rebuke from the Pentagon, and Spain actually withdrew its ship from the US-led carrier strike group dispatched last month to the Gulf, determined to avoid getting roped into an extremely unattractive conflict.

I’ve already commented on the curiously threadbare quality of the US’ anti-Iran propaganda – for some reason, the American people aren’t being fed the usual Manichaean dramas starring “animal Assad” or Gaddafi-the-rapist. It’s unsettling how little effort is being expended to sell us what will certainly be the most ruinous war we’ve faced in a lifetime: recycled physics-defying threats about missiles fired from small boats, warnings of sleeper-cell militias Tehran can activate with a word, and the constantly-repeated-but-still-untrue line that Iran is the world’s top sponsor of terror are hardly sufficient to convince a country to act against its interests. Perhaps after the utter failure of the latest regime-change operation in Venezuela, the ruling class has realized that their persuasion skills have gotten soft. Meanwhile, instead of creating and amplifying western propaganda, they’ve merely silenced Iranian media, knocking out PressTV’s YouTube channel.

Americans are familiar with the tragedy of how shortsighted greed destroyed the country’s industrial base in the latter half of the twentieth century. But can we no longer even manufacture consent? Or have the powers that be realized they no longer need the consent of the governed to wage war in the service of empire?

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Helen Buyniski‘s work has been published at RT, Global Research, Progressive Radio Network, and Veterans Today, among other outlets. A journalist and photographer based in New York City, Helen has a BA in Journalism from New School University and also studied at Columbia University and New York University. Find more of her work at http://www.helenofdestroy.com and http://medium.com/@helen.buyniski, or follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Progressives, human rights advocates, and journalists responded with outrage on Saturday to a New York Times report that President Donald Trump “has requested the immediate preparation of paperwork needed to pardon several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes.”

Unnamed U.S. government officials told the Times that on or around Memorial Day, Trump may pardon multiple servicemembers involved with “high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder, and desecration of a corpse.”

As the newspaper reported:

The requests are for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who is scheduled to stand trial in the coming weeks on charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive with a knife while deployed in Iraq.

They are also believed to include the case of a former Blackwater security contractor recently found guilty in the deadly 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis; the case of Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, the Army Green Beret accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010; and the case of a group of Marine Corps snipers charged with urinating on the corpse of a dead Taliban fighter.

“These are all extremely complicated cases that have gone through a careful system of consideration,” Gary Solis, a retired military judge and armor officer who served in Vietnam, told the Times. “A freewheeling pardon undermines that whole system.”

Solis warned that pardoning servicemembers accused or convicted of war crimes “raises the prospect in the minds of the troops that says, ‘Whatever we do, if we can get the folks back home behind us, maybe we can get let off.'”

The news on Saturday came after Trump, earlier this month, pardoned former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who was convicted of murdering an Iraqi prisoner in 2008. As Common Dreams reported at the time, human rights advocates decried that decision as “a presidential endorsement of a murder that violated the military’s own code of justice.”

The Times report—on which the White House and Justice Department declined to comment—was met with similar condemnation.

The Atlantic‘s Adam Serwer, who spoke out against Trump’s pardon of Behenna, tweeted,

“This incentivizes the commission of war crimes by our opponents and allies, and in doing so puts U.S. servicemembers at greater risk.”

Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth said,

“Think of the horrible message that sends to would-be war criminals around the world.”

Murtaza Mohammad Hussain, a reporter at The Intercept, denounced Trump’s expected move as “a huge injustice to those whose lives they destroyed and a message that America will tolerate war crimes.”

Their criticism was echoed by others, including journalist Ryan Devereaux, who suggested that

“if you were to make a list of ‘top notorious U.S. war crimes of the post-9/11 era’ it would look a lot like the president’s pardoning plans.”

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The Assange/Manning Cases Discredit Humanity

May 21st, 2019 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Everyone who is aware of the US government’s extraordinary criminal actions at home and abroad bears a heavy weight.  The millions of peoples murdered, maimed, orphaned, widowed, and displaced by gratuitous American military aggression comprise a Holocaust of deaths based entirely on lies and false accusations in order to advance secret American and Israeli agendas. I suspect that the heavy burden of responsibility for mass murder and destruction committed in our name is the reason most Americans prefer the fake news fed to them about how good and wonderful and exceptional we are and how hard our government works to protect us from the nasty folks elsewhere.  This storyline converts the illegal brutal war crimes of the US government against women, children, defenseless citizens, schools, wedding parties, funerals, and farmers in their fields into glorious and brave defenses of our liberty and virtue. If you want the truth watch the video leaked by Manning of US troops enjoying themselves while from the air they machine-gun reporters and innocent civilians walking along a street and follow up by machine-gunning a father and his two young children, babies, who stopped to help the wounded bleeding in the street.  The leak of the video that showed the true picture of Washington’s wars is the reason Manning was tortured and imprisoned.  It is the person who told the truth, not the criminals who committed the murders, who was punished.

I agree that the fake story of America’s moral worthiness is much easier to live with than it is to bear the shame of the true story.  But in the end the fake story destroys our liberty even more completely than would conquest by a foreign opponent. People are more suspicious of an occupying power than they are of their own government and are less likely to believe foreign occupiers when they lie to them.  In contrast, a people’s own government can trap them in a false consciousness and keep them there with fake news.

Wherever one looks at the behavior of Americans today, from airline flight attendants to police to national security advisors and secretaries of state, one sees people devoid of moral conscience, integrity, compassion, empathy, and self-control. For unreasonable and petty spite alone, a female airline attendant on a long-delayed Southwest Airline flight called police and had a man to whom she took a dislike arrested and taken off the airplane.  All of the passengers protested to the police that the arrested person had done nothing, but the cops didn’t listen. They had another victim to abuse. Was the victimization of this person the result of Identity Politics teaching women to hate men? See this.

Recently, a black woman pushed an elderly white male off a bus into the street simply because he interrupted her harangue of other passengers by telling her she should be nicer to people. He died from his injuries. Was this murderous act the product of Identity Politics teaching black Americans to hate white Americans? See this.

Trump’s crazed war criminal national security adviser, John Bolton, and the idiot secretary of state, Pompeo, want to cause massive civilian deaths in Iran and Venezuela.  Iran is to be overthrown for Israel, and Venezuela for US oil companies. The motives are blatant and obvious, but Bolton and Pompeo are not denounced and forced to resign for their shameful murderous intentions.  Yet, if they used the n-word or sexually harassed a woman, they would have to resign.  This demonstrates the twisted and sick state of American morality today.  Bombing people is acceptable, but words might really hurt them.

Washington’s case against Julian Assange is so contrived and so weak, that the corrupt US attorney assigned to frame-up Assange has resorted to persecution of Manning in an effort to coerce false testimony against Assange from Manning. After being tortured and serving seven years in prison for revealing a US war crime, as Manning was required to do under the US military code, Manning was pardoned by President Obama. Now Manning is back in prison for a second time after being pardoned, because Manning will not cooperate in the frame-up of Assange by giving false testimony to a grand jury.  Without false testimony, the corrupt US attorney hasn’t a case that could get a conviction from even the typical insouciant American jury, normally a collection of gullible people easily manipulated by the prosecutor. 

When Manning was imprisoned for 63 days for refusing to tell lies about Assange, Manning spent 28 of those days in solitary confinement.  Why?  

A week after Manning was released, the corrupt US attorney called Manning again before the grand jury that the corrupt US attorney is using to contrive a case against Assange.  Again Manning refused to cooperate in the frame-up, and was again held in contempt and again remanded into federal prison.  This time a corrupt US federal district judge, Anthony Trenga, added to Manning’s jail time a daily fine of $500 rising to $1,000 daily after 60 days.  In other words, the corrupt judge is helping the corrupt US attorney to coerce Manning into cooperating in a frameup of Assange.  Americans need to understand that their judges are not judges. They are operatives of the American police state.

When I characterize the US attorney and judge as corrupt, I don’t mean that they are taking money, although that cannot be ruled out.  I mean that they are corrupt in the sense that they have abandoned the rule of law and do not see their function as serving justice.  The US Constitution and its amendments establish law as a shield of the people against coercive and arbitrary actions of government, but the US attorney and judge are using law as a weapon against individuals against whom authorities want revenge.  For years we have been witnessing the rule of law being attacked from every level, from the president to the local police. See Roberts and Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions. See this.

No one has protested the open and highly visible effort to force Manning to commit perjury that can be used to build a case against Assange or otherwise be imprisoned for “contempt” and fined into penury.  The despicable liberal-progressive-left whores that comprise the US print and TV media and NPR will not protest the injustice.  They hate Manning and Assange for having more integrity than all of them together.  The conservative talk radio hosts won’t protest the attempt to coerce Manning, because they love Trump, Washington’s wars, and hate “anti-Americans,” which is everyone who dares tell the truth about the US.  On conservative talk radio on May 17, I heard one popular host say “I am happy Manning is in prison.” 

No US senators or representatives and neither the Senate or House judiciary committee sees anything untoward in forcing an American citizen to produce the needed lies for framing up the world’s best journalist.  Law schools and bar associations are not demanding the corrupt US attorney to be disbarred for violating every precept laid down by US Attorney General, Supreme Court Justice, and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson.  Nor are they demanding the impeachment of the corrupt federal district judge, who perhaps has his eye on appointment to the appeals court for his cooperation in finishing off the First Amendment.

The American people are too insouciant and brainwashed to know what is happening.  Regardless, they are as powerless as third world peasants who have a dictator’s boot on their necks.  

The “Western democracies”—what a joke—have not raised a voice at the US government’s public display of intimidation of a witness, at the US government’s use of imprisonment and coercive fines in a public display of forcing a person to lie in order that the US government can get revenge on a journalist who published leaked materials that show conclusively that the US government is a deranged war criminal, a liar and deceiver of its dumbshit allies and population, and the greatest threat to peace and stability in the world.

Assange might be saved by prosecutors with a guilty conscience in Sweden, the country in which Assange’s troubles began.  Assange’s troubles began in Sweden where two women enthralled with his celebrity separately invited him into their beds. One of them became alarmed when he did not use a condom.  To reassure herself that he did not have a sexually transmitted disease, she asked him to take a test.  He foolishly refused.  She went to the police, not to report a rape but to inquire if Assange could be forced to submit to testing. The other woman found out about the other woman, and was angry that she was not the only woman in his sexual life.

It was the police and a feminist prosecutor taught to hate men who made it into a rape investigation.  But as the women said it was consensual sex, the charges were dropped.  Assange was released and free to leave Sweden.  

His second mistake was to go to England, an American puppet state. Once Assange was in Britain, he was as good as in Washington’s hands.  Washington encouraged a second Swedish feminist prosecutor to reopen the case.  As there were no charges against Assange, all the feminist prosecutor could do was to try to extradite Assange for more questioning.  Once Sweden had him, the expectation was that Washington would pay the bribe for his extradition to the US. Normally, extradition requires formal charges, but Sweden had none.  Normally, there is no extradition for questioning.  But a corrupt British court, perhaps well paid by Washington, agreed to the extradition for questioning and placed Assange under house arrest under a large bond paid, if memory serves, by Sir James Goldsmith’s  daughter. 

Whether or not Sir James’ daughter understood it, Assange and his lawyers understood that he was in line to be delivered to Sweden and from there to the Washington torturers. Therefore, asylum was arranged for Assange in the Ecuadoran Embassy where he lived seven years until a Washington-compliant and corrupt Ecuadoran president, well paid with an IMF loan, gained power and revoked Assange’s asylum. The British police then did Washington’s bidding and dragged Assange out of the embassy and placed him in a maximum security prison as if he were some sort of dangerous criminal.

The second Swedish prosecutor had eventually consented to interviewing Assange in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London and afterward dropped her extradition request, and the case was closed for the second time. But the corrupt British legal system, which is almost as corrupt as the American one, put Assange in jail for 50 weeks based on “bail jumping” despite the fact that the extradition request from Sweden on which the bail was based was withdrawn. 

Now Washington’s British vassal is considering the request from Britain’s Washington master to hand over Assange for torture, confession, and death or long-term imprisonment. But suddenly Sweden has found that there is “still probable cause” that not using a condum could be a sexual offense and have again requested Britain to hand Assange over to Sweden.

Is this a rescue attempt on Sweden’s part to make up for having ruined the life of the world’s best journalist? Or is it Washington’s insurance policy against the British coming to their senses and, on the basis of justice, refusing Washington’s extradition order?

In England the decision is up to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who is not of British ethnicity. Hopefully, he is an immigrant from one of the abused colonies and will stick his finger in the UK/US eye and turn Assange over to Sweden where he is unlikely to be convicted for engaging in unprotected sex. Hopefully, Assange will not  be so stupid as to then travel to another Washington puppet state. If he does, he will experience his tribulation again.

But Washington pays so well I doubt Assange can escape. The corrupt Western media is against him because Assange  shows them up as devoid of an ounce of integrity and devoid of the practice of journalism. The American presstitutes don’t care about the First Amendment.  As they never tell the truth, they don’t need First Amendment protection.

Washington, which claims to represent the American people, is for war and more war.  Bolton intends that the US will, for Israel, attack Iran and create chaos there as was created in Iraq and Libya, and also in Syria prior to the Russian intervention.

Under neoconserative and Israeli leadership, America has become a deranged country, distrusted by other governments and considered the primary threat to peace and life on earth.

Every American should be ashamed.  But they are not.  At some point, the Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Iranians, and everyone else will finally realize, hopefully before it is too late, that Washington is overwhelmed by evil, capable only of destruction, and a dangerous threat to life on earth. 

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

The Sounds of Silence

May 21st, 2019 by Philip A Farruggio

Simon and Garfunkel, from their 1966 hit song Sounds of Silence, forecast it best:

And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more

People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices never hear

And no one dared disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I,” You do not know silence like a cancer grows”…

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon God they made

And the sign flashed out its warning in the words that it was forming

And the sign said ” The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls”

And whispered in the sounds of silence

How appropriate that this 50+ year old song lyric resonates within our Amerikan empire today. Look at what our gung ho militaristic, almost (sadly) fascistic nation is currently engaged in for what they disgracefully label as foreign policy. The CIA and other covert operatives have been manipulating for regime change in the sovereign nation of Venezuela. Elections there mean nothing if our puppets cannot win! Economic sanctions cripple that economy, and our banks, along with our lackey ‘trading partners’, freeze Venezuela’s assets.

Then look over at Iran. The ‘chump Trump’ gang follow the bidding of whomever pulls its strings to bang the war drum against them. As the great geopolitical analyst Peter Koenig describes, it’s mostly about the petrodollar and its survival worldwide… and of course about who will control both South America and the Middle East away from the Chinese and Russians. It has nothing to do whatsoever about humanitarian or democracy concerns at those places!

The silence that Simon and Garfunkel’s song relates to is today all about how damn silent most of our fellow citizens are concerning what their country is doing. No, so long as the streets and shops are filled with everyone carrying and using those electronic gadgets to numb them from truth. So long as millions of Amerikan men stay narcotized by 24/7 sports. So long as millions of Amerikans get their news and info from the usual ‘Scandal a day’ mainstream media, with the asinine tweets and tweets back from this current emperor and all the other pretenders to his throne. All that matters to the half of us who actually vote is when the next election cycle appears, disregarding viable ideas and information to perhaps save our republic from the Military Industrial predators.

You walk along your neighborhood and see more and more of the flags that those predators have held hostage. Why do they hang them up on their doorways and garages? Ask them and they tell you it is to honor our troops, who are out there fighting the terrorists. And it makes this writer almost teary eyed to think how this long con has been operating for decades. Honor our troops? Well, if these fools wanted to honor our troops, they would have never  remained silent while we sent those troops  to Vietnam and all the many places they were sent to for over 50 years! There was NO Iraq War as they refer to it. No, it was the ‘War ON Iraq’ with the phony mantra to bring democracy there. It was the illegal occupation of said country (after of course we destroyed most of its infrastructure and civilians) that then sacrificed thousands of our young troops. How many of those lucky enough to return home NOT in a box did return with less of their body parts or less of their right minds? Yet, the minions who remain in silence to it all keep on trucking, as the good Amerikans, good voters and of course good consumers that they are.

Silence is NOT golden… it only allows tyranny to continue.

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Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for The Greanville Post. He is also frequently posted on Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust and Off Guardian sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 300 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid‘ radio show, co produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at [email protected]

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