La Nato boccia il disarmo nucleare

September 26th, 2017 by Manlio Dinucci

Il giorno dopo che il presidente Trump prospettava alle Nazioni Unite uno scenario di guerra nucleare, minacciando di «distruggere totalmente la Corea del Nord», si è aperta alle Nazioni Unite, il 20 settembre, la firma del Trattato sulla proibizione delle armi nucleari. Votato da una maggioranza di 122 stati, esso impegna a non produrre né possedere armi nucleari, a non usarle né a minacciare di usarle, a non trasferirle né a riceverle direttamente o indirettamente, con l’obiettivo della loro totale eliminazione.

Il primo giorno il Trattato è stato firmato da 50 stati, tra cui Venezuela, Cuba, Brasile, Messico, Indonesia, Thailandia, Bangladesh, Filippine, Stato di Palestina, Sudafrica, Nigeria, Congo, Algeria, Austria, Irlanda e Santa Sede (che l’ha ratificato il giorno stesso). Il Trattato entrerà in vigore se verrà ratificato da 50 stati. Ma il giorno stesso in cui è stato aperto alla firma, la Nato lo ha sonoramente bocciato.

Il Consiglio nord-atlantico (formato dai rappresentanti dei 29 stati membri), nella dichiarazione del 20 settembre, sostiene che «un trattato che non impegna nessuno degli stati in possesso di armi nucleari non sarà effettivo, non accrescerà la sicurezza né la pace internazionali, ma rischia di fare l’opposto creando divisioni e divergenze». Chiarisce quindi senza mezzi termini che «non accetteremo nessun argomento contenuto nel trattato».

Il Consiglio nord-atlantico esautora così i parlamenti nazionali dei paesi membri, privandoli della sovranità di decidere autonomamente se aderire o no al Trattato Onu sull’abolizione delle armi nucleari. Annuncia inoltre che «chiameremo i nostri partner e tutti i paesi intenzionati ad appoggiare il trattato a riflettere seriamente sulle sue implicazioni» (leggi: li ricatteremo perché non lo firmino né lo ratifichino).

Il Consiglio nord-atlantico ribadisce che «scopo fondamentale della capacità nucleare della Nato è preservare la pace e scoraggiare l’aggressione» e che «finché esisteranno armi nucleari, la Nato resterà una alleanza nucleare».

Assicura però «il forte impegno della Nato per la piena applicazione del Trattato di non-proliferazione nucleare». Esso è invece violato, tra l’altro, dalle bombe nucleari statunitensi B61 schierate in cinque paesi non-nucleari – Italia, Germania, Belgio, Olanda e Turchia. Le nuove bombe nucleari B61-12, che rimpiazzeranno dal 2020 le B61, sono in fase avanzata di realizzazione e, una volta schierate, potranno essere «trasportate da bombardieri pesanti e da aerei a duplice capacità» (non-nucleare e nucleare).

La spesa Usa per le armi nucleari sale nel 2018 del 15% rispetto al 2017. Il Senato ha stanziato, il 18 settembre, per il budget 2018 del Pentagono circa 700 miliardi di dollari, 57 miliardi in più di quanto richiesto dall’amministrazione Trump. Ciò grazie al voto bipartisan. I democratici, che criticano i toni bellicosi del presidente Trump, lo hanno scavalcato quando si è trattato di decidere la spesa per la guerra: al Senato il 90% dei rappresentanti democratici ha votato con i repubblicani per aumentare il budget del Pentagono più di quanto avesse richiesto Trump. Dei 700 miliardi stanziati, 640 servono all’acquisto di nuove armi – soprattutto quelle strategiche per l’attacco nucleare – e alle aumentate paghe dei militari; 60 alle operazioni belliche in Afghanistan, Siria, Iraq e altrove.

L’escalation della spesa militare statunitense traina quella degli altri membri della Nato sotto comando Usa. Compresa l’Italia, la cui spesa militare, dagli attuali 70 milioni di euro al giorno, dovrà salire verso i 100. Democraticamente decisa, come negli Usa, con voto bipartisan.

Manlio Dinucci

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The Iranian ballistic missile launch that President Donald Trump tweeted about Saturday apparently never happened.

That’s what U.S. officials told Fox News and CNN on Monday after U.S. intelligence assets in the region, including radar and satellites, found no indication of a launch.

On Friday, Iran’s state-run TV showed video boasting of a new missile launch, but that footage turned out to be seven months old, U.S. officials said, taken from an unsuccessful launch in March.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel.They are also working with North Korea.Not much of an agreement we have!”

Trump has been criticized a number of times for jumping to conclusions and commenting on Twitter before breaking news reports have been confirmed.

As of Monday night, he had not deleted the erroneous tweet.

Separately, Twitter Inc. TWTR, +0.29%  on Monday explained that it would not block Trump’s more incendiary tweets because they are newsworthy. Some had complained to Twitter that his threats toward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — which North Korea said Monday it took as a “declaration of war” — violated the company’s terms of service.

In a series of tweets Monday, Twitter’s Public Policy account said “newsworthiness” and “whether a tweet is of public interest” are two of the factors it uses when considering rule violations.

“This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will,” the company said.

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Angela Merkel: The IKEA Politician

September 26th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

“The recipe for her success, which she has only latterly discovered, is that she’s been able to develop an image as someone who is tuned in to the German soul.” – Oskar Niedermayer, Sep 22, 2017

Modular furniture divinities, or corporations, may not be the best points of comparison for a politician, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited it. She is stable, reliable, self-assembled from history. But more to the point, she has managed to forge a workshop of political viewpoints, angles, and perspectives, a tent so vast it has neutralised opponents within and without her political base. Her capacity to deal in “flat pack centrism,” otherwise termed the “IKEA principle” has become textbook.

The notion of IKEA politics is not something that has been missed by conservatives and centre-based politicians.  IKEA supplied a point of reference to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, when she observed a certain organisational principle at work in the conservative movement in the United States.[1] The State Policy Network proved particularly interesting, some 64 groups loosely assembled as free-market think tanks. Its president, Tracie Sharp, while denying the IKEA model had any role to play in a public sense, secretly spoke about it, its points of assembly and distribution.

For all its stock standard reliability, Merkel’s period in office has also seen hiccups, some of the dangerous sort. The Syrian refugee crisis, and the open door policy to migrants and refugees which her European counterparts fear, has threatened inroads into her political base. She has managed to prevent a general exodus from the centre, but dissatisfaction is finding form across a range of smaller parties across the political spectrum.

To that end, any vision of furniture is only as good as its final product. These wear over time, and not even the advertising agency Jung von Matt could conceal the creaks and breaks for this campaign. This was the question that presented itself on Sunday. Mutti did pull through eventually, but it was a scarring encounter.

The first signs on Sunday night, true to a form that has become a recurring pattern across the elections of Europe, were that smaller parties, notably those reaping the populist whirlwind, were set to make strong gains.

The Free Democrats (FDP), which had vanished from the Bundestag in 2013 on 4.8%, found themselves projected to return with a notably present 9%. (As the figures continue being finalised, that number has moved to almost 11%.)

The AfD (Alternative for Germany), while still garnering support as a far-right wing alternative, did not do as well as certain worried predictions went, though, with just under 13%, things promise to be merry for this coming term. As the party’s manifesto went with conspiratorial glee, a “secret sovereign… has cultivated itself in the existing political parties.”

Nothing can get away from the reality that the party has made good its promise to found a petulant base in the Bundestag, a nationalist rear guard hopeful of dampening the refugee agenda. The party’s co-leader, Alexander Gauland, has made clear through his conservative soaked account Anleitung zum Konservativsein (Instruction on Being a Conservative), that he wishes for a return to such notions as “deutsche Leitkultur,” a dominant German culture which arrests any other notions of identity. Germany first is not a dirty term.

Despite being a refugee of the German Democratic Republic during the Cold War, Gauland saw his experience as singularly German, one to set apart from those swarms Merkel was accepting onto the soil of the fatherland. He, as he explained, “went from Germany to Germany. It is quite different when someone comes from Eritrea or Sudan. He has no right to the support of a foreigner.”[2] A fantasy he holds near and dear is a Muslim ban and an open cradling of the nostalgia of Heimat.

It was a night where major parties received more than a touch-up. Merkel’s CDU/CSU grouping received the lowest share of the vote since 1949, on 33%, while the SPD’s effort was even more impoverished at 20.5%.

The message from the electoral pundits and analysts was generally uniform: Merkel would win. Thankfully for her, the FDP performance means that a “Jamaica” coalition with the CDU/CSU and the Greens is in the offing. But she could barely conceal the exhausted fact that it was a victory stripped of its sweetness. Her own efforts to reverse the rot had seen a more curt electioneering approach, a visible hardening in policies, including support for a burqa ban and attempts to gauge the conservative temperature. 

“The CDU could have hoped for a better result, but we mustn’t forget – looking back at an extraordinary challenge – that we nevertheless achieved our strategic objectives: we are the strongest party.” 

The next period in the Budestag promises to be truly astringent, the very politics that resists the convenient brand labelling of modular, stable furniture. For Merkel, its objective is clear.

“We want to win back the AfD voters above all through good politics.” 

The chancellor’s political centre risks breaching.

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

Notes

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Not since Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his fists and waved his shoe at the UN in 1960 has a world leader made such a spectacle of himself as President Donald Trump did this past week at the world organization.

Trump vowed to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea, a nation of 25 million, if it dared threaten the US or its allies. To do so, the US would have to use numerous nuclear weapons.

The president’s Genghis Khan behavior seemed to take no account that a US nuclear strike against North Korea would cause huge destruction to neighboring China, Japan and Russia – and pollute the globe. They could hardly be expected to applaud Trump’s final solution for pesky North Korea.

As leader of the world’s greatest power, President Trump was foolish to get into a schoolyard fracas with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Superpowers shouldn’t engage in such childish behavior. Trump’s claim that North Korea threatens the world is a reheated Bush-era lie used to whip up support for invading Iraq.

In a subsequent speech to African UN delegates, Trump comically referred to the nation of ‘Nambia’ instead of Namibia. Let’s hope Trump does not mix up the Koreas. While passing through Philadelphia last week I was reminded of its former flamboyant, tough-guy police chief Frank Rizzo. He famously welcomed a senior Nigerian official as the leader of ‘Niggeria.’

Interestingly, both ‘axis of evil’ jeremiads originated from two different neocon speech writers, both known to this writer.

Escalating tensions, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, suggested that his nation might detonate a hydrogen bomb in the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean.

Amidst all the trumped-up hysteria over North Korea, too few questions were asked about its ballistic missiles that have caused such an uproar.

First, the DPRK’s medium-range missiles, notably the 6,700km-range Hwasong and the 3,500 km-range Musudan are fueled by highly volatile liquid propellants. Fuelling them is often done outdoors for safety reasons. The dangerous, unstable chemical fuels have a tendency to spontaneously explode. Early US ballistic missiles had similar problems. Musudan, based on an elderly Soviet design, is notoriously unreliable and plagued by technical problems.

These missiles are usually kept on wheeled transporters (aka TELs) secreted in caves. The transporters are based on Russian and Chinese designs. An erector device then positions the missile into upright launch position.

This is the most vulnerable time for North Korea’s missiles. The US and South Korea claim they can knock out the DPRK missiles while getting ready for launch.

South Korea has a tactical program known as ‘Kill Chain’ that would use missiles, rocket batteries and air strikes to destroy the pre-launch missiles. But the problem remains:  during the 1991 invasion of Iraq, US warplanes and missiles totally failed to knock out Iraq’s mobile missile launchers and stop it firing ineffective Scud missiles at Israel.

For North Korea, launching a major missile barrage is no easy matter. The North’s missile caves, fueling points, and leadership bunkers are photographed even more often than super-model Cindy Crawford. US satellites, high-altitude recon aircraft, sensors and drones keep a 24/7 watch on North Korea’s potential launch sites.

Preparations for refueling and erecting large numbers of missiles would invite a massive nuclear strike by US air and naval forces. But given the technology unreliability of the DPRK’s missiles, it would have to fire a sizeable barrage in order to be sure of scoring a few long-range nuclear hits.

Equally important, North Korea’s ability to fire a nuclear warhead atop a ballistic missile has not yet been demonstrated. A miniaturized warhead that can withstand the g-forces of launch and re-entry, extreme heat and cold and buffeting and detonate as planned after a 6,700-km journey is a tall order. The US and USSR both keep redundant ICBM missiles because of the reliability problem.

North Korea’s submarine-launched prototype KN-08 missile could pose a far greater danger. Though short-medium ranged, the missile if fired from submarines off the US East and West coast is greatly worrying US defense authorities. But, once again, North Korea is only in its infancy when it comes to underwater-launched strategic missiles and submarines.

Another key point. US and South Korean intelligence question how much missile propellant fuel the North has or could produce. Supplies are believed limited; raw material components are under embargo, even from ally China. Information about DPRK fuel supplies is, as always, scanty and unreliable. So is US and South Korean intelligence about North Korea.

Finally, if Washington believed North Korea was about to launch a massive, long-ranged missile strike against North America, it’s likely the US would detonate a nuclear device high above North Korea. The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from such a detonation would likely fry most of North Korea’s electronic circuits, notably missile guidance systems and communications. Of course, the North Koreans could do the same to the US and allies Japan and South Korea. Pacific Russia and northern China would also be affected.

Behind all the hysteria over North Korea lies the basic question: why would rather small North Korea embark on a nuclear war with the United States? Its leadership, however zany and eccentric, is in no mood to commit suicide. US nuclear weapons would vaporize North Korea before any of the missiles it might fire at North America could detonate.

Having nuclear-armed missiles does not necessarily make one’s nation a public menace that must be destroyed. India has them. So do Pakistan and Israel, China and Russia. Add France and Britain. We don’t keep threatening to invade them and overthrow their governments. That’s why they are not threatening us.


“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 UniversityWWIII Scenario

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

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

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Looking at the global political landscape over the last month, two trends are becoming more apparent. The infamous military and economic power at America’s disposal is declining, whereas in the multipolar field, an acceleration has occurred in the creation of a series of infrastructures, mechanisms and procedures to contain and limit the negative effects of America’s declining unipolar moment. This series of three articles will focus firstly on the military aspect of these ongoing changes, then the economics at play, and finally, how and why smaller countries are transitioning from the unipolar camp to the multipolar field.

One of the most tangible consequences of the decline of US military power can be observed in the Syrian conflict. Over the past few weeks, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have completed the historic and strategic liberation of Deir ez-Zor, a city besieged for more than five years by Islamists belonging to Al Qaeda and Daesh. The focus has now shifted to the oilfields south of the liberated city, with a frantic rush by both the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the SAA to free territories still held by Daesh. The final goal is to claim Syria’s resources and strengthen a weak US position (the US is not even part of the Astana peace talks) in future negotiations concerning the country’s future. To understand how much the US dream of partitioning Syria is failing, one only need note repeated US failures as seen in the liberation of Aleppo and then Deir Ez-Zor, and now the crossing of the Euphrates river. In spite of American intimidation, threats, and sometimes even direct aggression, the Syrian army continued to work against Daesh in the province of Deir Ez-Zor, advancing on oil rich sites. Thanks to the protection given by the Russian Federation Air Force during the conflict, Damascus has obtained a protective umbrella necessary to withstand attempts by the US of balkanize the country.

Further confirmation of Washington’s failed strategy to divide the country a la Yugoslavia appears evident from the strategic realignment of the most loyal allies of Washington in the region and beyond. In the course of the last few weeks, several meetings have taken place in Astana and Moscow between the likes of Putin and Lavrov with their TurkishSaudi, and Israeli counterparts. These meetings outlined the guidelines for Syria’s future thanks to Moscow’s red lines, especially regarding Israel’s desire to pursue regime change in Syria and an aggressive attitude towards Iran. Even the most loyal allies of the United States are beginning to plan a future in Syria with Assad as president. US allies have started showing a pragmatic shift towards a reconciliation with the factions that are clearly winning the war and are going to call the shots in the future. The long-held dreams and desires of sheikhs (Saudi-Qatar) and sultans (Erdogan) to reshape Syria and the Middle East in their image are over, and they know it. Washington’s allies have been let down, with the US incapable of keeping its promises of fulfilling a regime change in Damascus. The consequences for the US have just begun. Without a military posture capable of bending adversaries and friends to her will, the US will have to start dealing with a new reality that involves compromise and negotiation, something the US is not accustomed to.

An example of what can happen if Washington decides to go against a former friend can be seen with the Gulf Crisis involving Qatar. Since the beginning of the aggression against Syria, the small emirate has been at the center of plots and schemes aimed at arming and financing jihadists in the Middle East and Syria. Five years later, after billions of dollars spent and nothing to hold onto in Syria, the Gulf Cooperation Council, as expected, has plunged into a fratricidal struggle between Qatar and other countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Egypt. The latter accuse Doha of funding terrorism, an undeniable truth. But they omit to acknowledge their own ties to the jihadists (Egypt in this framework is excluded, fighting continually with terrorists inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Sinai), showing a hypocrisy that only the mainstream media can rival.

The consequences of Riyad’s actions against Doha, backed up by a large part of the American establishment, seems, almost six months later, to have finally pushed Qatar and Iran together, reopening diplomatic ties. These are two countries that have for years been on opposite sides of many conflicts in the Middle East, reflecting contrasts and divisions dictated by the respective positions of Tehran and Riyadh. This seems to be no more, with Doha and Tehran coming closer and circumnavigating sanctions and blockades, overcoming common difficulties. This shift can only be described as a strategic failure by Riyadh.

Looking back six years, one of the reasons for the eruption of the conflict in Syria has everything to do with the famous pipeline that Iran intended to build connecting Iraq and Syria. Incredibly, the end of the conflict will see a new transport line emerging between countries that for years have had opposing and diverging strategic goals. Iran and Qatar are currently engaging in trade agreements, and rumors have it that a joint effort to build a new pipeline that should cross Iraq and Syria, to end in the Mediterranean, is in the making. The idea is to jointly exploit the world’s largest gas field, and in so doing become a new supplier for a Europe that is looking to diversify its energy imports. Riyadh and Washington will have to take full responsibility for this failure of epic proportions.

A clear sign of how fast things are changing in the region and beyond comes from Israel. Even the Jewish State has had to abandon any dream of territorial expansion into Syria, despite several attempts by Netanyahu to persuade Putin of the existential danger that Israel faces with Iran’s presence in Syria. A smart and pragmatic Putin is able to let Israel know that any request to impose conditions on Russian or its allies in Syria will be firmly refused. But at the same time, Moscow and Tel Aviv will continue to pursue good relations with each other. Russian political figures are far to smart to play double games with their long-standing allies in Syria or to underestimate the capacity that Israel has to disrupt the region and plunge it into chaos. Furthermore, Assad has invited Russia into Syria as well as Iran and Hezbollah. Even if Putin were willing to help Netanyahu, which is doubtful, international law prohibits this. If anything is clear, it is that Moscow respects international law as few nations do. All other foreign nations operating in Syria, or flying over Syrian skies, have no right to be there in the first place, let alone to impose decisions over a sovereign territory.

If Tel Aviv’s goal was to expand the illegal border in the Golan Heights and proceed with regime change, the situation has ended up totally different six years later. Iran has expanded its influence in Syria thanks to aid provided to Damascus in combating terrorism. Hezbollah has increased its battle experience and arsenal, as well as expanded its network of contacts and sympathizers throughout the Middle East. Hezbollah and Iran are seen as Middle Eastern peacemakers, playing positive roles in fighting the plague of jihadist terrorism as well as against Israel and Saudi Arabia, states that have tried in every way to assist terrorist organizations with weapons and money. Washington, Riyadh and Tel Aviv six years later find themselves in a totally different environment, with hostile neighbours, less collaborative friends, and in general, a Middle East increasingly orbiting around the Iranian and Russian spheres of influence.

Another indicator of American decline in military terms can be clearly seen on the Korean peninsula. The DPRK has obtained a full nuclear capability through a development program that has paid scant attention to American, South Korean and Japanese threats. The imperative for Pyongyang was to create a nuclear deterrent capable of dissuading the desire of many US policymakers enact regime change in North Korea. The strategic importance of a regime change in the DPRK follows the strategy of containment and encirclement of the People’s Republic of China, a failed doctrine well known as the Asian pivot.

Beside its nuclear deterrent, the US is unable to attack the DPRK because of the conventional deterrent that Pyongyang has patiently put in place. Trump and his generals continue the rhetoric of fire and flames, dragging Seoul and Tokyo into a dangerous game of chicken between two nuclear powers. Not surprisingly, Trump’s words worry everyone in the region, especially the Republic of South Korea, which would pay the heaviest price were war ever to break out. In light of this assessment, it is worth pointing out that the military option is simply unthinkable, with Seoul and perhaps even Tokyo ready to break with its American ally in case of disastrous unilateral action against Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-un, as well as Assad and other world leaders facing pressure from Washington, have fully understood and taken advantage of America’s declining military power. Trump and his close circle of generals are full of empty threats, unable to change the course of events in different regions around the world, from the Middle East to the Korean peninsula. Whether it is through direct action or through proxies, little changes and the results remain the same, showing a continuous failure of goals and intents.

The underlying rule guiding US policy makers is that if a country cannot be controlled, such as with a Saudi-style regime serving only American interests through something like the petrodollar, than that country is useless and ought to be destroyed in order to stop other peer competitors from expanding their ties with that country. The Libyan example is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Luckily for the world, Russia has stepped in militarily, and on more than one occasion has, together with her allies, sabotaged or deterred the US military from taking reckless actions (Ukraine, Syria and DPRK).

In this sense, Hillary Clinton‘s defeat, more than Trump’s victory, seems to have instilled some sense into this declining empire, if one ignores the persisting strong rhetoric. One can only shudder on imagining a Clinton presidency in the current environment, with her predictably careening at full speed towards a conflict with Russia in Ukraine and Syria or a nuclear standoff with the DPRK in Asia.

Trump and his generals are slowly adapting to a new reality where it is not only impossible to control countries, but where it is increasingly difficult to destroy them. The old doctrine of wreaking chaos on the world, with a view to emerging once the dust settles down as the world’s hegemonic power, now seems like a distant memory. Just looking at the Middle East, even Syria, in spite of the unprecedented destruction, is on the road to reconstruction and pacification.

Russian military power and Chinese economic might have thus played an invaluable role in restricting the US war machine. The DPRK even took a further step by attaining a formidable nuclear and conventional deterrent, effectively blocking the United States from influencing domestic events by bringing about destruction and chaos.

While this reality is difficult for Washington to take, it must come to accept it. After almost seventy years of imperialistic chaos and destruction wrought all over the globe, America’s friends and enemies are starting to react to this situation. Washington is left with a president full of sound and fury, but a credible militarily posture is now but a thing of the past.

The financial mechanisms that have allowed for this indiscriminate military spending are based on an intrinsic bond between dollar, oil, and the role of American money as the world reserve currency. The transition of the world order from a unipolar reality to a multipolar one is deeply tied to the economic and diplomatic strategies of Russia and China. The next article will explore the role of gold, investment, diplomacy and the petroyuan, which are all decisive factors that have accelerated the transformation and division of power on a global scale.

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

Featured image is from the author.

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Washington Has Initiated Military Conflict with Russia

September 26th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Russia has provided evidence that Washington is collaborating with ISIS in attacks on Russian forces. 

In one Washington-directed attack, ISIS tried to capture 29 Russian military policemen. However, Russian special forces entered the fray, and the result was spectacular losses for ISIS. 

In another Washington-directed attack, Russian General Valery Asapov and two Russian colonels were killed in an attack that violated agreements. 

Sooner or later it will dawn on the Russian government that Washington is not a rational government with which diplomacy can be practiced, peace pursued, and agreements reached. Sooner or later it will dawn on the Russian government that far from being rational, Washington is a criminally insane collection of psychopaths in thrall to the military/security complex which, in turn, is in thrawl to its massive profits.  

In other words, for the powerful interest groups that control the US government, war is a profit center. No amount of Russian diplomacy can do anything about this fact.

It is unfortunate that the Russian government did not realize what it was dealing with. If the Russian government had not projected its own rationality on Washington, the war in Syria would have been over a couple of years ago.  Instead, hoping for a settlement, the Russians were stop-go/stop-go, which gave Washington time to recover from the shock of Russian intervention and put in place plans to partition Syria in order to keep the conflict alive forever.  Having dallied in hopes of a settlement, the danger of which The Saker warns us is real.  

The protests by black pro-football players by refusing to stand for the national anthem has come at an unfortunate time.  It is playing into the hands of the military/security complex which is using President Trump’s loud voice challenging the “anti-americanism” to whip up patriotic fervor.  It is amazing how people fall for it every time.  The military/security complex and their presstitutes are creating public anger at those “attacking our country.”  This anger will be turned from black football players to Russia.

With the public in its pocket, the military/security complex will increase its reckless provocations of Russia until we are all dead.

Featured image is from Right.is.

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Video: US-Russian Tensions Grow in Deir Ezzor Province

September 26th, 2017 by South Front

Featured image: Russia’s Lieutenant general Valery Asapov (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

An ISIS shelling has killed Russia’s Lieutenant general Valery Asapov near Deir Ezzor city, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday. The general died after sustaining a “fatal injury” in the shelling. The incident took place when Asapov was at a command outpost manned by Syrian troops, assisting commanders in the liberation of Deir Ezzor.

According to the Russian media, Asapov was a commander of Russian task forces in Deir Ezzor and Raqqah provinces.

At the same day, CNN announced citing a US official that US forces in Syria have increased surveillance of Russian troop locations. The report boosted the rumors that ISIS could receive a location of the Russian-Syrian command post from the US-led coalition.

The Russian Defense Ministry also released photos showing US Special Operations Forces deployed in stronghold in the ISIS-held area near Dier Ezzor with no screening patrols.

“The shots clearly show the US SOF units located at strongholds that had been equipped by the ISIS terrorists. Though there is no evidence of assault, struggle or any US-led coalition airstrikes to drive out the militants.

Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them. This suggests that the US troops feel safe in terrorist controlled regions,” the statement said.

Russia will likely react to the recent developments in Deir Ezzor with increased bombing campaign with possible usage of Kalibr cruise missiles against ISIS targets.

Photos and videos appearing online show increased deployment of government troops as well as equipment, including battle tanks, PMM-2M self-propelled ferries and BMK-MO boats, to Deir Ezzor ahead of further operations.

Last weekend, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies made a large progress northwest of Deir Ezzor, retaking the key town of Maadan and the nearby areas from ISIS. At the same, time, government troops were not able to develop momentum on the east bank of the Euphrates because of a fierce ISIS resistance there.

In turn, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) consolidated their gains over Ibsah and Taibah fields and pushed towards Jafra fields. The SDF also launched a storm of the al-Suwar town.

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How to End the Korea Crisis

September 26th, 2017 by Rep. Ron Paul

The descent of US/North Korea “crisis” to the level of schoolyard taunts should be remembered as one of the most bizarre, dangerous, and disgraceful chapters in US foreign policy history.

President Trump, who holds the lives of millions of Koreans and Americans in his hands, has taken to calling the North Korean dictator “rocket man on a suicide mission.” Why? To goad him into launching some sort of action to provoke an American response? Maybe the US president is not even going to wait for that. We remember from the Tonkin Gulf false flag that the provocation doesn’t even need to be real. We are in extremely dangerous territory and Congress for the most part either remains asleep or is cheering on the sabre-rattling.

Now we have North Korean threats to detonate hydrogen bombs over the Pacific Ocean and US threats to “totally destroy” the country.

We are told that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a “madman.” That’s just what they said about Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, and everyone else the neocons target for US military action. We don’t need to be fans of North Korea to be skeptical of the war propaganda delivered by the mainstream media to the benefit of the neocons and the military industrial complex.

Where are the cooler heads in Washington to tone down this war footing?

Making matters worse, there is very little understanding of the history of the conflict. The US spends more on its military than the next ten or so countries combined, with thousands of nuclear weapons that can destroy the world many times over. Nearly 70 years ago a US-led attack on Korea led to mass destruction and the death of nearly 30 percent of the North Korean population. That war has not yet ended.

Why hasn’t a peace treaty been signed? Newly-elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in has proposed direct negotiations with North Korea leading to a peace treaty. The US does not favor such a bilateral process. In fact, the US laughed off a perfectly sensible offer made by the Russians and Chinese, with the agreement of the North Koreans, for a “double freeze” – the North Koreans would suspend missile launches if the US and South Korea suspend military exercises aimed at the overthrow of the North Korean government.

So where are there cooler heads? Encouragingly, they are to be found in South Korea, which would surely suffer massively should a war break out. While US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was bragging that the new UN sanctions against North Korea would result in a near-complete blockade of the country (an act of war), the South Korean government did something last week that shocked the world: it announced an eight million dollar humanitarian aid package for pregnant mothers and infant children in North Korea. The US and its allies are furious over the move, but how could anyone claim the mantle of “humanitarianism” while imposing sanctions that aim at starving civilians until they attempt an overthrow of their government?

Here’s how to solve the seven-decade old crisis: pull all US troops out of the Korean peninsula; end all military exercises on the North Korean border; encourage direct talks between the North and South and offer to host or observe them with an international delegation including the Russians and Chinese, which are after all Korea’s neighbors.

The schoolyard insults back and forth between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are not funny. They are in fact an insult to all of the rest of us!

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Election Results in Germany. Rise of the Ultra Right Wing

September 26th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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Angela Merkel’s fourth term as chancellor was marred by the rise of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, winning 13% of the vote on Sunday, entering parliament for the first time post-WW II.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) alliance got only 33% of the vote, its worst showing since 1949 – compared to 41.5% in 2013.

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) finished second with 20.5%, a post-WW II low. Putting a brave face on her party’s dismal result, Merkel said

“(w)e are the strongest party. We we have the mandate to build the next government, and there cannot be a coalition government built against us.”

Nearly half of German voters rejected the two major parties, dominating the country’s politics since WW II.

Coalition-building won’t be easy. SPD leader Martin Schulz said his party won’t rejoin the so-called “grand” one with the CDU and CSU. Instead, it’ll become its main opposition.

Germany’s parliament will now include members of six parties instead of four. Die Zeit publisher/editor Josef Joffe said Sunday’s result marks a “tectonic shift in German politics,” a likely three-party CDU-led coalition, he believes, with Merkel remaining chancellor to be “highly unstable.”

AfD co-founder Alexander Gauland said his party will “hunt” the new government whatever its new makeup, adding “(w)e’ll get our country and our people back.”

France’s Marine Le Pen tweeted:

“Bravo to our AfD allies for this historic showing.”

Party spokesman, academic/politician Jorg Meuthen maintained its anti-immigration policy is racist, saying

“(w)e will neither tolerate xenophobia or racist positions.”

Party leaders deny being Nazi sympathizers.

The hard-right Free Democratic Party (FDP) appears Merkel’s best coalition option, short of majority rule without a third partner, the Greens a slim possibility, a party that long ago abandoned its anti-establishment leftist agenda.

At this point, nothing is certain. Surprises are possible. Election results showed Germany becoming more hardline, the right-wing AfD and FDP the only parties gaining strength – at the expense of the CDU/CSU and SDP.

Despite her party’s dismal showing, Merkel becomes the third German leader to serve four terms as chancellor – Konrad Adenauer (1949 – 1963) and Helmet Kohl (1982 – 1998), Merkel’s mentor, the other two.

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It is all done in a fully barefaced manner. Those who are not part of this world could never even dream about such a ‘perfect’ design.

You come to your club, in my case to The Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand (FCCT), and immediately the long arm of indoctrination begins stretching towards you.

You place yourself on a comfortable couch, and soon after get fully serviced. You get instructed, told what to think and how to formulate or modify your ideas.

You are periodically shown movies about “corruption and immorality” in China. You get encouraged to participate in some public discussions that are, among other things, trashing the anti-Western president of the Philippines.

Although lately also the Middle East, and particularly Syria, are brought into the spotlight.

Of course almost all that is on offer in such places like FCCT is the Western view, or concretely a set of Western views raging from conservative to ‘liberal’. The club is located in Asia, in the heart of Southeast Asia, but very few Asians are invited to speak here, except the few Thais who are well versed in the Western way of thinking. Or Western agents like the Dalai Lama, of course – such individuals can come anytime they want! Forget about hearing from ‘the other side’ – you’d never stumble here over speakers such as Communist thinkers or writers from Mainland China, or pro-Duterte academics or activists from the Philippines.

Most of the Thais who get spotted at the FCCT are actually those who provide support services for the Western gurus of mainstream media: interpreters, fixers, waiters and as well as some administrative support staff.

This is not a place for Asians to lecture Westerners about Asia; this is where Westerners tell Asians how to think in general, and what to think about their own countries in particular.

On the same floor as the FCCT, right down the narrow carpeted corridor, there are the offices of the BBC, the NBC and several other mainstream Western media outlets. ‘The Penthouse’ of the Maneeya Center Building in Bangkok is actually a self-sufficient propaganda complex.

And tonight it is offering a free screening (free for us, members) of a U.S. documentary film called Salam Neighbor, about Jordan’s huge Za’atari refugee camp, which hosts approximately 80,000 refugees just a few miles away from the Syrian border.

On the FCCT flier it says openly: “In partnership with the U.S. Embassy Bangkok and The American Film Showcase.“

A U.S. embassy official introduces the film. It is also being sponsored (openly) by the U.S. Department of State.

The FCCT is packed. Beer flows. People obediently clap to all the opening speeches. No one seems to be noticing the irony: The Empire’s foreign ministry hosting an event at the foreign correspondent’s club in the most important city of Southeast Asia. There are no jokes flying about, no sarcasm. Western media people are well disciplined. Forget about “Salvador” by Oliver Stone – these are quite different times.

It all feels mildly embarrassing. Here, one can never really witness a fiery ideological confrontation. People know their place. They are well aware of what they should say, and how to behave. But most importantly, they know what to write.

*

The film is short, only some 75 minutes, and it is truly predictable. It is not out-rightly bad. Cinematography is fine, and there are very few factual errors, perhaps because there are only a few facts on offer. The filmmakers are ‘politically correct’: they periodically break down in tears, particularly when interacting with some refugee children.

It is full of clichés, such as: “….. inhabitants of the camp opened their hearts and homes to us”.

But there are also several clearly predictable scenes, appearing on the monitors in all corners of the FCCT, with chilling regularity. Here is one, for instance: kids are playing violent war video games. One child suddenly comments:

“Yes, and this is Assad’s regime flag… They give me ammunition and weapons…”

We are fed with soft, ‘well-intentioned’ and well-filmed propaganda. Not one word is uttered about the essential and monstrous role of the West in the Syrian war. There is nothing about the Za’atari Camp being one of the training camps for the most extreme pro-Western and pro-Gulf terrorist organizations.

After the films ends, I decide to participate in the Q/A session.

Somehow sarcastically, I congratulate the two filmmakers who were flown to Thailand at the US taxpayer’s expense. I mention that I have also made some films inside refugee camps, including the notorious and brutal Dadaab on the Kenyan-Somali border. Then I ask, point blank:

“Did you know that Syrian refugees were allowed to tell you only one side of the story? I am well familiar with the Za’atari camp. There, as well as in the camps for Syrian refugees located in the Iraqi Kurdish region, Syrians are screened and unless they declare that they are against President Assad, they have no chance of getting processed and receiving assistance.”

The annoyed faces of veteran Western propaganda-makers now stare at me, point blank. The US embassy apparatchiks maintain their composure. These people are professionals and they hardly ever lose their calm.

But media people are scandalized. I exaggerate my Russia accent and I mention South American Telesur as one of the channels for which I have been making films. How dare I? Don’t I know my place? A non-Westerner telling Western opinion-makers about the world!

I conclude:

“Most of the Syrian refugees are not escaping from their government. They are fleeing from the horrors of war, triggered and upheld by the West and its allies in the Gulf and elsewhere.”

The silence is now complete.

Then a girl, a local Thai miss, obviously coming from the upper middle class and groomed in the West, approaches the microphone and asks with a cute giggle:

“I want to visit the Za’atari Camp early next year. I don’t know why, as I don’t know anything about the Middle East… but maybe I can do something for the refugees, no? And maybe I learn something?”

“And maybe take some selfies,” I think.

Soon after I begin to feel sick, and literally flee the place.

*

The entire Southeast Asia is imprisoned in the tight straightjacket of Western and Japanese pro-Western propaganda. However, the mainstream media and the way it disseminates Western propaganda is not the only example of how the straightjacket works.

Almost all serious and large bookstores, (at least those that are selling books in English), have already been ‘defeated’ by Kinokuniya, a Japanese mega seller. Kinokuniya is to bookselling in Southeast Asia, what Carrefour is to food vending. It operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, and its shops look elegant and sleek. But unless you want to buy some mainstream stuff, you may be truly disappointed, even shocked, by what you find (or not find) on the shelves.

It goes without saying that in those stores, one would always be able to find hundreds of appalling anti-Soviet propaganda books, such as those of the Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, Svetlana Alexievich. But try to search for a great, iconic Mexican left-wing author like Elena Poniatowska, and you will get nothing! And forget about finding most of works there of such enormous (but Communist) thinkers like Jose Saramago, Dario Fo, and Harold Pinter (all three authors were also awarded with the Nobel prizes in literature, but are strongly hated by the regime). If you are lucky, you will find one or two books from each of them, but not more than that.

Perhaps you may also find one or two plays by Bertolt Brecht. I searched in Bangkok, and found only one – Galileo.

In Southeast Asian bookstores, you can have “all you can eat” anti-Chinese, anti-Communist propaganda, but except for Mo Yan, not one book of any truly great modern Chinese Communist novelist or a poet.

Of course, you should never even try to find some “offensive materials”; and by offensive I mean sarcastically critical of all that the West has been implanting and upholding in this part of the world – religion, neo-colonialism, monarchism, or even local feudalistic structures which often hide behind such terms as ‘cultures’…

In Indonesia, the situation is the most ridiculous. There, all decent bookstores that mushroomed after Suharto stepped down have literally disappeared. Thereafter, Kinokuniya ‘modified’ its operation in Jakarta, and is presently selling only pop fiction, some Penguin classics and similar mainstream stuff.

Mr. Ariff, a staff marketing person at Kinokuniya, Plaza Senayang in Jakarta, explained:

“Arrangement of the shells has to be the same as in our Singapore store, but Indonesian management decides what to sell here.”

And decide they do! As expected, many books about Adolf Hitler (very popular historic individual in Indonesia), including his ‘best selling’ (at least in Jakarta) “Mein Kampf.” Right next to it, there are few shelves filled with anti-Communist propaganda of the lowest grade.

Indonesia has been, since 1965, always a Southeast Asian leader in brainwashing of the population.

One could of course argue that there are also some local chains of bookstores, selling books exclusively in the languages of Southeast Asia. However, the offering there is very limited. Frankly, there is no culture of high-quality translations of books in this part of the world, and the number of titles published in local languages is relatively small. Even the most prominent Indonesian novelist, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, once confessed to me, that while translating Maxim Gorky’s “Mother” to Bahasa Indonesia (“Ibunda”), he used the Dutch translation for his work, as well as his ‘intuition’ while scrolling through the original Russian text (he did not really speak much Russian, as he admitted).

*

After decades of great effort, the Western intellectual indoctrination of Southeast Asia is now almost complete.

It is partially being done through ‘education’, by disbursing scholarships for students and offering conditional funding for Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian and other ‘scholars’ and professors.

Western propaganda is also ‘successfully’ distributed through ‘culture’. Western ‘cultural centers’, which are often (bizarrely) the only places offering ‘high art’ in most of the local cities, are clearly advancing their European and North American imperialist agenda (as I colorfully described in my latest novel “Aurora”).

The elites here are almost fully subservient to foreign business and political interests. Patriotism is only a buzzword, with no substance behind it.

There is no other part of the world so disconnected from the ideological and physical opposition to Western imperialism, as Southeast Asia.

The consequences of total Western brainwashing are devastating: the entire colossus of Southeast Asia is unable to produce great thinkers, writers, filmmakers, or scientists. There are only a few small exceptions in Thailand (including an important novelist Chart Korbjitti) and in Indonesia (the political painter Djokopekik, a former political prisoner during Suharto’s fascist regime, described by my Australian friend, the artist George Burchett, as ‘an explosive local fusion of Diego Rivera and Picasso’).

Other poor, devastated or complex parts of the world are literally regurgitating entire armies of tremendous writers, filmmakers and intellectuals: from Nigeria to Lebanon, from Iran to Mexico.

*

With the exception of Vietnam (and to some extent, Laos), the West has literally uprooted all Communist and socialist ways of thinking, as well as internationalism. It was done brutally, though orchestrating massacres and purges. Hundreds of thousands of leftists, perhaps millions, were killed in Indonesia alone, after the 1965 coup. 30% of the population was murdered by Suharto’s military in East Timor, after the left-wing FRETILIN movement won independence from Portugal and consequently took power in fair and clear elections. In Thailand, Communists were burned alive in oil barrels. The killing and disappearing of Communists took place in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

In several countries, including Indonesia, th entire ‘Communist ideology’ is still officially banned.

After internationalism, anti-imperialism, Communism and intellectualism were destroyed, Southeast Asia was injected from abroad with conservative forms of religion, with consumerism, ‘traditional family values’ and grotesquely extreme individualism.

Simultaneously and already for years and decades, this part of the world has become truly famous, even notorious, for sex tourism, and for armies of ‘expats’ who are searching for a cheap and easy lifestyle. In the process they are managing to shape local ‘cultures’, to de-intellectualize this part of the continent. While Beijing and Tokyo are attracting, like magnets, countless great foreign scholars, thinkers and creative people, Southeast Asia is generally besieged by, to put it mildly, a very different type of foreigners. Why are they so comfortable here? It is because of the ‘great respect’ they can enjoy in Southeast Asia for just being white, no matter what their age or life achievements. This respect comes from the clear indoctrination of locals, from the pronounced lie, repeated thousands of times (mostly indirectly), that Western culture is superior, and in fact the greatest in the world.

To make Europeans and North Americans even more comfortable here: in Southeast Asia, almost all basic doctrines disseminated by Western propaganda, as well as the most primitive grain of capitalist and right wing ideologies have been historically accepted, tolerated, and even dutifully replicated.

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For the local academia, it is only the Western (or Japanese) stamp of approval that matters. As a result Southeast Asia forgot what patriotic and independent thought truly consists of.

Most of the Southeast Asian newspapers have no ‘foreign correspondents’ in faraway places. Almost all of their international news reports come directly from Western mainstream agencies such as Reuters, AFP and AP. No loopholes through which at least some alternative opposition information could enter and influence the masses, seems to be available.

You ask on the streets of Bangkok, Jakarta or even Kuala Lumpur about ‘South-South’ co-operation, and you will be greeted with blank stares. You would be suspected of talking about some new mobile phone application, or a chain of fast food restaurants. And what is BRICS, masonry?

While bookstores are basically finished, commercial cinemas are offering extremely carefully selected (the emptier the better) Hollywood ‘blockbusters’ and local horror films.

Local art forms, including traditional political theatre in Indonesia (ketoprak) is lately ‘out of fashion’, read: sidelined, made fully irrelevant, silenced.

Scarce art film clubs, like the one in the River City in Bangkok, has stickers of US and European cultural institutions (“sponsors”) ‘decorating its entrance.

One naughty art seller, in one of the galleries near the River City film club, just recently dared to exhibit a painting depicting Obama, with two obnoxious missiles hanging in between his legs. But was apparently asked to remove provocative art work, right before the official film screening which was sponsored by the Turkish embassy and attended by several Western diplomats. “Come with me into the storage and I will show you,” he whispered to me, as if he was peddling some illegal pornographic material or narcotics.

*

Perhaps the most telling example of “how things are done”, I encountered several years ago on the premises of the Goethe Institute in Jakarta. Its curators decided to exhibit some old photographs from the Polish ‘Solidarity’ days, when, during one protest in the city of Gdansk, security forces fired at protesters.

The exhibition was put together, barefacedly, in the capital city of Indonesia, where ‘Communism’ is patently banned, where millions were massacred during the US-sponsored coup of 1965, and where the entire huge archipelago has been irreversibly plundered and devastated by multi-national and local mining and logging cartels. The nightmarish, ultra-extreme capitalism has been ruling and ruining Indonesia for years and decades, but it was Gdansk that Germany decided to show to the Indonesian public!

A handful of people killed by the Communists, decades ago, in Poland, was commemorated and shown to the Indonesian public. Of course the German cultural institute would never even dream about arranging an exhibition commemorating the mass slaughter of Communists by Indonesian pro-Western genocidal forces.

*

Now Southeast Asia knows nearly nothing about Russia, and almost nothing about China (except what the Western demagogues want it to know). Africa, including South Africa, is located on another planet, and so is Latin America. Only local elites can afford to travel to far away places, and these people are loyal to their Western masters and official doctrines; they would never tell the truth, never rock the boat of disinformation.

The local population knows generally more about North American pop or European football, than about its neighboring countries. The Southeast Asian poor are kept totally ignorant about Latin American attempts to build just, egalitarian societies. They know close to zero about Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela or Ecuador.

Of course there is absolutely no way one could discuss, in Southeast Asia, the recent re-election of MPLA in Angola (an event of tremendous global significance, as Angola is one of the symbols of the Western colonialist crimes against humanity, as well as of neo-colonial plunder). There is no way of discussing Cuba and its internationalism here, or even the coalition of countries, which are now standing proudly and determinedly against Western imperialism.

And what about the Middle East? It is fully limited to the Palestinian issue, and even that is discussed only in predominantly Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia. Another Middle Eastern ‘link’ is the unnaturally injected hatred for President Assad, who is accused of being too ‘secular’ and too ‘socialist’ (of course, these are great ‘crimes’ here, definitely not praise).

*

In Southeast Asia, the West is clearly victorious. It has successfully ‘neutralized’, ‘pacified’, indoctrinated and intellectually enslaved this large (and in the past diverse) part of the world.

Hopefully this situation will not last forever, and not even for too long a time.

The Philippines and Vietnam are rapidly coming back to their senses, increasingly determined not to take dictates from the West.

But Indonesia has suffered a major setback, after its traditional-style ‘legal coup’ against Jakarta’s progressive Governor ‘Ahok’, who was smeared and then imprisoned on thoroughly irrational and bizarre accusations that he ‘insulted Islam’ (charges so bizarre that even local linguists came to his defense, but the verdict was ‘political’ and had nothing to do with justice). His true ‘sin’: Ahok tried to implement at least some elements of socialism in this still hopelessly fascist country. He fell. Others may make a fresh attempt, soon.

In the meantime, both China and Russia are making great inroads in the region. Local ‘creams’ are watching, attentively. Most of Southeast Asian elites have always been for sale, for centuries, of course with the exception of those in North Vietnam.

As the anti-imperialist coalition is getting stronger and wealthier, there could actually be some serious changes of heart in foreseeable future, at the top of several Southeast Asian countries. Even Communism could be finally legalized again, but only if it manages to disperse some funding, scholarships, and substantial grants.

If it would, than those uniform debates at the FCCT in Bangkok could finally become vibrant and diverse.

The West will, of course, work very hard to prevent all this from happening.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, a writer of revolutionary novel Aurora and several other books. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

This article was originally published by New Eastern Outlook.

All images in this article are from the author.

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So I wish you well, Sarge, give ’em Hell!
Kill me a thousand or so
And if you ever get a war without blood and gore
I’ll be the first to go
Phil Ochs, The Draft Dodger’s Rag

“Guess that makes me a proud bitch.”
Teresa Kaepernick, Colin Kaepernick’s mother’s response to Trump’s comment about her son.

*

In the true spirit of patriotic opposition, Colin Kaepernick took a courageous knee when he protested the current and historical treatment of black Americans and people of color during the playing of the National Anthem. For his patriotism, the NFL has made sure he remains unemployed, and now, when our reality-television president urges NFL teams to fire any “son-of-a-bitch” who dares follow Kaepernick’s example, the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell releases a sanctimonious statement calling Trump’s demented words “divisive comments,” revealing an “unfortunate lack of respect” for NFL players.  NFL owners and others chimed in with the word of the day – “divisive.” Exactly who is being divided from whom is left to speculation?

The hypocrisies of this lurid spectacle continue to mount daily.

Kaepernick knelt on principle during the Obama presidency. His was a lonely act.  Now that the buffoonish Trump tweets and speaks his grotesqueries, it has become easy to emerge from the woodwork and join the crowd in supporting the man who made his solitary witness. Cheap grace, the German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer termed the desire for “salvation” without paying a price. He said this before being executed by Hitler for his opposition to Nazism.

Who among those kneeling today in solidarity with Kaepernick are willing to pay a price? What’s the NFL’s price?  The Tycoons who own the teams? Who among them agrees with a man who gave his life for black liberation, Dr. Martin Luther King, who made it emphatically clear that the fight against racism involved opposing a trinity of devils when he said:

We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.

Colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism – this is U.S. history, not the myths proffered by mythmakers, politicians, and schools.  The system of exploitation is old and enduring, and the point of its spear is war.  It is great that many players join in solidarity with Kaepernick. Racism must be opposed and freedom of speech exercised and defended. But it would be better indeed if more of those who rightly oppose Trump’s disgusting comments and support Kaepernick speak out about the triple devils King warned about.  The system of racial exploitation does not stand alone; never has. Nor will it fall alone.

The Star Spangled Banner is a celebration of war, meant to stir martial emotions. It also contains racist lyrics. And football is the war sport par excellence, extremely violent, and deeply tied to the spectacle of cruelty that dominates American society today and that has caused so much suffering for black people and other people of color for centuries. In the 1960s, Brazilian television, in an effort to distinguish football (soccer) from American football, aptly termed it “military football.” And while it, like other sports, has been an avenue to wealth and “success” for some black Americans (a tiny minority), its war-like structure and violent nature is noted with a nod and a wink. Heck, it’s fun to play and exciting to watch, and is just a colorful spectacle that we can’t do without, despite all the concussions, pain killers, and crippling life-long injuries. Lasting effects similar to those suffered by veterans returned from war zones. The gridiron is a war zone.

That the NFL is a conditioning agent for the love of war and violent aggression is usually passed over. Its language, like all good linguistic mind control, becomes powerfully invisible.

Colin Kaepernick, like all quarterbacks, is the field general who throws bombs to flankers as he tries to avoid the blitz. Each team defends and conquers the enemy’s territory, pushing its opponent back through frontal assaults and pounding the enemy’s line. This is mixed with deceptive formations and aerial assaults behind the opponent’s line. When none of this works and the enemy goes on the offensive, a different platoon is brought in to defend one’s territory. One’s front line must then defend against a frontal assault and hit back hard.

The analogies are everywhere, and as with many aspects of “everywhere,” what’s everywhere is nowhere – its familiarity making it invisible and therefore all the more powerful.

In a society of the spectacle, NFL football is the most spectacular and entertaining mass hypnotic induction into the love of war and violence that we have.  Goodell says that “the NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.” These are swell sounding words that were essentially forced out of his mouth by Trump’s mad rantings. Words involving a double-entendre as well: The good of being united against racism on one hand, if that is what Goodell meant; the bad of being united to promote patriotic militarism, violence, and war on the other. Hypocritical contradictions, at best.

And where in all this is Colin Kaepernick, the forgotten man? Has he decided to study war no more, but to study Dr. King’s true legacy and his naming of the three demons that must be confronted and exorcised if MLK’s “Beloved Community” is to be established?

Great ironies abound here. Who among Kaepernick’s current supporters said one word when the mixed-race, neo-liberal Democrat, Barack Obama, suavely mass murdered his way around the world with seven wars,while showing his “cool” skills on the basketball court? Coolness works.Obama was given a free ride. More than that; he was treated like a rock star by the entertainment/sports complex.  And now that he is cashing in with speeches to Wall Street, who calls him out on that?  Obama, while always standing front stage, was all about operating back stage, very CIA-like. “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain,” wrote Shakespeare, who was quite an expert on acting.

Trump is the obverse. His back stage is his front stage. He is an easy target. He makes himself one; thinks coolness is to generate heat and draw audience attention to it.  It is an aspect of his celebrity reality-TV mindset: create buzz around your “brand,” make it hot, whether good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Titillate, provoke, tweet garbage sure to arouse passions. Agitate the audience.  He is an expert at feeding the beast that is America’s entertainment circus, the spectacle of con-men and prestidigitators extraordinaire. Flip Trump and you have Obama. Flip Obama and you have George W. Bush. Flip George and you have Bill Clinton. Flip Bill and you have the tail that wags the dog – Hillary. Or the reverse. Rotating little people going round and round, in and out, disappearing and appearing on a cuckoo clock with terrible music and mockingbird sounds.

There’s only one coin in these United States, and it’s counterfeit.

Trump goes to the United Nations and says he is “ready, willing, and able to totally destroy North Korea” and its 25 million people.  Who will take a knee for the North Korean people threatened by the public ranting of a man willing to commit genocide?

Who took a knee for the world when Obama announced a 1 trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade? When he savagely attacked Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan; sent drones worldwide in search of victims?  Did the NFL issue a statement of condemnation on the deaths of innocent children at the receiving end of American bombs?

Who is linking arms for all the innocent victims killed by Trump in eight months?  What communities are the NFL Commissioner and team owners referring to when they say the league and the players are forces for good in our communities?  Does “ours” meana small circle of friends, outside of which the enemies lurk who should be annihilated?  Over there, over there, send the bombs, send the bombs, over there.  Far from our “communities.”  Is that the theme song?  Is that the distinction?

What about Dr. King’s “Beloved Community”?

Our goal is to create a beloved community and
this will require a qualitative change in our souls
as well as a quantitative change in our lives.

Who will take a knee for a radical redistribution of economic and political power? Who will link arms for the end to capitalist exploitation and the amassing of obscene wealth by a few at the expense of the many? Who will refuse to support war and war-making? Who will tell it like it is and say that the demon of racism can only be eliminated if the others are? Liberals won’t. Conservatives won’t. Who will? Who will pay a price?

MLK paid the ultimate price for confronting these demons. When U.S. government forces killed him in Memphis, he had taken a knee for all the exploited and oppressed people of the world community, the beloved community.

“America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order,” he told us.

Hypocritical comes from the Greek hypokrites, a stage actor; pretender, dissembler. There are too many actors on this stage of moral outrage – far too may hypocrites. For years many NFL teams accepted Pentagon money to pimp for the war makers, but their pimping days started long before and continue to the present day, even if they say they no longer accept their client’s payoff. What do the owners stand for? Capital accumulation? Exploitation? War? And all the liberals jumping on the moral outrage train of racism? Obama was okay as he killed, maimed, and exploited – wasn’t that their silent mantra? So Trump is a conservative? What kind of true conservative would threaten foreign wars and tweet absurdities?

Welcome to the phony circus, where the man on the hire wire, the daring one, Colin Kaepernick, is home studying American history and learning about all the confidence men.

So I hope and pray.

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely.  He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. A former college basketball player, he teaches the sociology of sports, and writes on a wide range of topics.  His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/

Featured image is from Uproxx.

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Satellite Images Show US-Support for ISIS in Syria

September 26th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

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stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

This and other incriminating evidence clearly reveal US support for ISIS – the scourge it pretends to combat, arming its fighters, providing other material support.

Silence by media scoundrels makes them complicit with US high crimes, a longstanding unholy alliance, a disgrace to legitimate journalism.

On Sunday, Russia’s Defense Ministry released satellite video images showing US-supported troops together with terrorists comprising the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), moving freely in ISIS-controlled parts of Deir Ezzor governorate.

“Without resistance from ISIS militants, (these forces) are moving along the left bank of the Euphrates river towards the town of Deir Ezzor,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said, adding:

“Despite strongholds of the US armed forces…located where ISIS troops are currently deployed, there are not even signs of organization of a battle outpost.”

In other words, ISIS, al-Nusra, and so-called SDF forces are virtually the same thing – US recruited, armed, funded and directed cutthroat killers, waging naked aggression against Syria and its people.

Images were taken from September 8 – 12 in areas controlled by ISIS, also showed “US Hummer armored vehicles used by the US Army’s special forces,” Russia’s Defense Ministry explained.

US and SDF forces “feel absolutely safe” in ISIS-controlled territory.

Days earlier, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov accused SDF fighters of colluding with ISIS, saying they “work (for) the same objectives.”

“Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between” between them. They’re allies, not enemies.

The Pentagon’s so-called Operation Inherent Resolve so far is silent on Russia’s damning evidence.

Separately, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem accused Washington of working with its terrorist “assets” in Syria, including al-Nusra, to undermine Astana peace talks.

Russia’s Defense Ministry made a similar accusation, saying its intelligence revealed US forces together with al-Nusra terrorists tried halting “the successful advance of government forces east of Deir Ezzor.”

Russian airpower smashed their offensive. Sergey Lavrov condemned the US-led coalition for refusing to combat al-Nusra, calling it “absolutely unacceptable.”

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, nearly 90% of Syrian territory held by ISIS is now liberated.

Moscow will respond appropriately to any US efforts to impede the campaign to free Syria entirely from control by terrorists.

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

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

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

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

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Featured image: Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov

By now many of you must have heard the news: a Russian Lieutenant-General, Valery Asapov, and two Colonels have been killed in what appears to be a very precisely targeted mortar attack.  Just as in the case of the Russian military police unit recently attacked near Deir ez-Zor, the Russians are accusing the Americans of being behind this attack.  To make things even worse, the Russians are now also officially accusing the Americans of actively collaborating with ISIS:

US Special Operations Forces  units enable US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces units to smoothly advance through the ISIS formations.  Facing no resistance of the ISIS militants, the SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the Euphrates towards Deir-ez-Zor.  The aerial photos made on September 8-12 over the ISIS locations recorded a large number of American Hummer vehicles, which are in service with the America’s SOF.  The shots clearly show the US SOF units located at strongholds that had been equipped by the ISIS terrorists. Though there is no evidence of assault, struggle or any US-led coalition airstrikes to drive out the militants.  Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them. This suggests that the US troops feel safe in terrorist controlled regions.

These are the maps and aerial photos provided by the Russians (for higher resolution, click here)

What this all seems to point to is that the Pentagon has now apparently decided to attack Russian forces directly, albeit unofficially. From the Pentagon’s point of view, this (almost) makes sense.

First, by now it is pretty darn clear that the “good terrorists” and the “bad terrorists” have lost the civil war in Syria.  Simply put, the USA has been defeated, Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have won and the Israelis are now freaking out.

Second, the American plan to use the Kurds as foot-soldiers/canon-fodder has failed.  The Kurds are clearly too smart to be pulled in such a losing proposition.

Third, the American plan-B option, the partition of Syria, is now itself directly threatened by the Syrian military successes.

Last and not least, the Americans by now are deeply humiliated and enraged at the Russian success in Syria.

Hence they have now apparently taken the decision to directly target Russian military personnel and they are using their considerable reconnaissance capabilities combined with US Special Forces on the ground, working side by side with “good” and “bad” terrorists, to target and attack Russian military personnel.

This is not the first time, by the way.  There is pretty good evidence that a Russian hospital near Aleppo was targeted using means not available to the local Daesh franchise.This time, however, the Americans are not even trying to hide.  The message seems to be this all-time American favorite “watcha gonna do about it?“.

There is a lot the Russians could do about it, in fact.  I wrote about this in my article “Using plausible deniability against a systematically lying adversary“.  If the folks at CENTCOM really believe that their generals are all safe and out of reach they are deeply mistaken.  Unlike the Russians and, even more so, the Iranians, US Generals are mostly risk averse and hard to get to in Syria.  But who said that Russia would have to retaliate in Syria?  Or, for that matter, that Russia would have to use Russian forces to retaliate.  Yes, Russia does have special units trained in the assassination of high-value targets in hostile countries, but that does not at all mean that they would decide to use them.  Accidents can happen anywhere and the roads are notoriously dangerous in the Middle-East.  Why do I mention that?  To illustrate that Russia does have options short of overtly going to war.

Of course, the Russians could simply fire a volley of Kalibr cruise missile at any of the ISIS positions shown in the photos above and then go “oops, you had personnel embedded with these al-Qaeda types?  Really?  We had no idea, no idea at all“.  Syria also have a pretty solid arsenal of tactical ballistic missiles.  The Syrians could mistakenly hit any such ISIS+US positions and express consternation at the presence of US military personnel in the midst of terrorists.  There is also Hezbollah who, in the past, has even seized Israelis soldiers in raids across the border and who could decide to capture themselves some US SOF types.    And let’s not forget the Iranians who have not had such an golden opportunity to finally get their hands on US military personnel since many years.

The three key weakness of the US force posture in Syria are: first, their own force in Syria is too small to make a difference, but big enough to represent a lucrative target and, second, all the boots on the ground which matter are against them (Syrians, Iran, Turkey, Hezbollah and the Russians).  Finally, the only two real US allies in the region are too afraid to put boots on the ground: Israel and the Saudis.

The bottom line is that if the Americans think that the Russians and their allies don’t have options they are deeply mistaken.  They also should seriously consider the consequence of having US SOF operating in forward positions.  The Syrians are closing the distance fast and this might not be the best time to hunt Russian military personnel.

So far the Russians have only limited themselves to protests and expressions of disgust.  This has clearly not been an effective strategy.  The Russians apparently don’t realize that very few people care and that the more the complain, the less credible their warnings sound.  This is not a sustainable approach and the Russians will so “have to do something about it”, to use the American expression.

Things might become very dangerous, very fast and very soon.

All images in this article are from The Saker.

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Kurdistan’s Referendum Gamble

September 26th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

“We hope for a unified Iraq to annihilate ISIS, and certainly a unified Iraq to push back on Iran.” – Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House spokeswoman, Sep 25, 2017

What a gamble, and a seemingly ugly one. The merchants of propaganda have naturally been busy with this new, and petulant, kid on the block. Three areas of Iraqi Kurdistan have gone to the polls for a referendum that is intended to add meat to the bone of any future negotiations for secession. The desk minders in Baghdad are fuming; regional power brokers are minding their military inventories.

The Reuters news agency noted the words of a man queuing to vote in Irbil.

“We have been waiting 100 years for this day. We want to have a state, with God’s help. Today is a celebration for all Kurds.”

President of the Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani was unflappably confident on Sunday:

“From now on, Kurdistan will be a neighbour of Iraq, but not a part of it.”

Iraq remains a construction, an artificial confection of miscellaneous, often murderous groups. It is being held together – barely – and the Iraqi leaders wish to keep it this way. Given its sheer vulnerability, the Iraqi state, or at the very least parts of it, have been ripe for severance. Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, vain efforts to secure various states of autonomy were crushed with cold blooded determination. Towns such as Halabja and Qala Diza blot the text books as bloodied, failed enterprises.

The romance of a free Kurdistan, or at the very least its dream cleaved from the Iraqi whole, has been the lingering preoccupation of some. The late Christopher Hitchens, who remained a staunch backer of the invasion of Saddam’s Iraq, was ever keen to scribble about the advances being made in the region. He had found an underdog to back. 

The Christmas holidays of 2006 were spent taking advantage of this new Kurdistan, one free of Saddam. (Never mind the fact that Iraq was unraveling and untethered from any concept of a unified state at that point.) Travelling with his Greek-speaking son, Hitchens noted the ease of air and road travel, and that “walking anywhere at night in any Kurdish town is safer than it is in many American cities.” Erbil was visited, “where Alexander the Great defeated the Persians”.[1] With some cheer, it had been a year since the last suicide bomb attack.

Such sentiment aside, this non-binding vote has already stirred resentment. A curfew was imposed on the city of Kirkuk on Monday evening, a characteristic reminder that trouble is brewing. There are suggestions that the voting process has been compromised, despite loud proclamations that democracy is being practised with vigour. Turkmen and Arab groups had urged a boycott. 

Geopolitical considerations, as they often do in these situations, are bound to force their way into the profane reckoning. Nature’s abhorrence of a vacuum has duly brought in replacements, and they are furious with this experiment in balloting. This was, for Iraq’s Vice President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, “a declaration of war on the unity of the Iraqi people.”[2]

To the Baghdad authorities can be added Turkey, Iran, the United Nations and the United States. The reasoning there is elementary: the moment the Kurds get a nationalist foothold, the surge towards independence may be unstoppable. Minorities may upset local applecarts through the region. Police and military measures, followed by massacre, will be perpetuated. From the crucible of death a state shall be born and slain. 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not disappointed with his stance: military and economic measures are promised against the Kurdistan Regional Government for holding the referendum. Baghdad, he insists, must remain behind the steering wheel of the country’s affairs. 

“After this, let’s see through which channels the northern Iraqi regional government will send its oil, or where it will sell it.”[3] 

As oil is life, the president is keen to remind the upstarts of the KRG that Ankara controls “the tap. The moment we close the tap, then it’s done.” 

The move stresses the complex dynamics of oil politics in the area, with Iraqi Kurdistan able to develop an independent oil sector of some consequence. This burgeoning sector supplies some 80% of revenue for the KRG.  Some 600,000 barrels of oil are exported on a daily basis, impressive when you start considering the petroleum output relative to such states as Ecuador and Qatar.[4] The Turkish threat, however, is an important one, given that half of the oil product goes through a Turkish pipeline which effectively bypasses Baghdad’s own oil company.

Washington has also affirmed its traditional duplicity regarding the Kurdish situation. While happy to avail itself of Kurdish help fighting Islamic State forces, pen pushers in the Pentagon and State Department would prefer it if they use their weapons for an entirely altruistic cause. Forget the nationalist drive: defeating ISIS is the only cause that truly matters.

According to Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve,

“There is a distraction from the fight against ISIS”.

Irritatingly for Dillon, the Peshmerga forces had been biding their time in the latest offensive against Hawija, where an estimated 800 to 1,500 ISIS fighters remain.

“The Peshmerga are not part of the elements that are conducting the advance, but they will very much likely play a part because of the proximity of the Kurdish defence line.”[5]

To add a final, and by no means exhaustive touch of complexity to the vote, some Kurdish groups have preferred caution, the sort harvested from centuries of disappointment. Businessman Shaswar Abdulwahid Qadir, the man behind the “Not4Now” campaign, urges the care and patience only wealth can buy.[6] Secession hardly comes cheaply. The Kurdistan Islamic Group and the Change Movement (Gorran) are similarly opposed to the timing.[7] But nationalist referendums are rarely about caution and timing, and the waiting, for some, is over.

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

Notes

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This week’s headlines have been dominated by reaction to US President Donald Trump’s bluster against North Korea during his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. This has overshadowed the equally threatening and ominous references he made in the same speech to Iran.

Anyone listening to him will have been left with two impressions: Trump’s speech faithfully echoed the utterances of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and it brazenly beat the drums of war against Iran.

Trump described Iran as a ‘rogue state’ and ‘corrupt dictatorship’ that exports violence, anarchy, and bloodshed. He also said that he had reached a decision regarding the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran, while declining to reveal what it is. This has led many observers to conclude that he will soon withdraw from the agreement, in line with his electoral promise to tear it up on the grounds that it is the worst agreement in US history, and in deference to the dictates of the Israel lobby.

Trump is widely expected to announce the US’ withdrawal from the agreement in mid-October when he testifies to Congress in his semi-annual review. This is likely to be accompanied by a further tightening of the sanctions and the economic blockade on Iran. And it could prompt the Iranian government to immediately resume the enrichment of uranium at very high levels, giving it the capacity it to produce nuclear warheads.

It was no coincidence that shortly before Trump spoke, Netanyahu demanded that the nuclear agreement be scrapped or altered, while likening Iran to a hungry tiger on a vicious rampage in the region and the world. Nor was it a coincidence for Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to announce that Israel has plans already in place for attacking Iran and Hezbollah, which he described as an Iranian surrogate whose growing missile and intelligence-gathering capacity (via pilotless drones) was a top Israeli concern.

The Israeli occupation state is the only country that backs Trump’s stance. The EU is opposed to it, especially French President Emmanuel Macron who warned it would be a ‘mistake’ for the US to withdraw from the nuclear agreement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed the same view and vowed that his country would continue to uphold the deal.

Trump is literally implementing Israeli dictates. He is planning to drag his country and the world into a ruinous war in the Middle East: a war whose main victims will be Arabs and Muslims, and which will not spare the citizens of those states that host American military bases, which along with Israel can be expected to be targeted in any Iranian retaliation.

Iran will certainly not stand by with folded arms in response to the attempt to cancel the agreement it spent five years negotiating with the six major powers, and ratchet up the economic sanctions that have stifled it for decades and inflicted huge damage on its economy and its people’s livelihoods. President Hassan Rouhani replied by stressing that his country was ready for all scenarios, including that of immediately resuming its nuclear activities. Revolutionary Guard Commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari went further, threatening to deliver a painful blow to the US if compelled to do so. Saturday’s test of a new ballistic missile a few days after Trump’s speech – apparently taking a leaf out of North Korea’s book – was intended to demonstrate that Iran is not prepared to take his threats lying down.

After the failure of his plans in Syria and the entire region, and after the humiliating embarrassment inflicted on him by North Korean President Kim Jong-un, who defied him by carrying out fresh nuclear and missile tests, Trump wants to return to the Middle East in force and start fires there. He is confident that the region’s oil-rich governments will cover the war’s expenses and does not mind turning their citizens into their victims.

But the Israelis who are pushing for this war will also pay a heavy price. They too will not be secure, either during or after this war, as hundreds of thousands of missiles will be aimed at their cities and settlements from Iran, Lebanon and Syria. It would be the mother of all wars, and with Israel armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, potentially the region’s last. This time round, however, it will not be one-sided.

Trump is playing with fire. He may not only burn his fingers but also millions of our innocent people unless he is restrained, and unless his deranged tendencies and the megalomania which dominates his behaviour and policies are brought under control.

Featured image is from the author.


“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 UniversityWWIII Scenario

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

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

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The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian spinoff, the YPG, are cult-like radical movements that intertwine Marxism, feminism, Leninism and Kurdish nationalism into a hodge-podge of ideology, drawing members through the extensive use of propaganda that appeals to these modes of thought.

Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, took inspiration from American anarchist Murray Bookchin in creating his philosophy, which he calls “Democratic Confederalism.”

The PKK spin-off group YPG represents most of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria.

With Western political support, they have gained popularity and garnered an impressive amount of support from anarchists and military veterans in the West, some of whom have left the comfort of their home countries to fight with the group.

One of their most productive marketing tools has been to use young, attractive female fighters as the face of the guerrillas. During their fight against Daesh, the PKK has saturated the media with images of these young female “freedom fighters,” using them as a marketing tool to take their cause from obscurity to fame. Some of these female fighters in the YPJ are fighting alongside their male counterparts under the direction of the U.S. in the SDF.

Stephen Gowans writes more about this topic in his superb article titled: The Myth of the Kurdish YPG’s Moral Excellence.

Here is an excerpt:

In Syria, the PKK’s goal “is to establish a self-ruled region in northern Syria,” [8] an area with a significant Arab population.

When PKK fighters cross the border into Turkey, they become ‘terrorists’, according to the United States and European Union, but when they cross back into Syria they are miraculously transformed into ‘guerrilla” fighters waging a war for democracy as the principal component of the Syrian Democratic Force. The reality is, however, that whether on the Turkish or Syrian side of the border, the PKK uses the same methods, pursues the same goals, and relies largely on the same personnel. The YPG is the PKK.

Child Soldiers: forced recruitment, kidnapping, and murder by the PKK and YPG

Within the past few years, Kurds have gone from almost total obscurity to front page news. What doesn’t get reported however is how these terrorist groups under the guise of being a revolutionary movement for Independence have carried out numerous atrocities including kidnappings and murder – not to mention their involvement in trafficking narcotics.

It’s important to keep in mind that this and previous articles are never meant to imply that the crimes committed by Western-backed militia groups are in any way a reflection on the entire Kurdish ethnicity. Although the term Kurds may be used generalizations and blanket statements are neither intended nor applicable. Kurds are not a monolithic united group of people that all share identical political aspirations, goals, the same language or religion. They are a diverse group of people that are spread across the globe and have predominately lived in or around the four countries that some are looking to divide and establish an independent Kurdistan on.

The militia groups more or less exist for the purpose of creating instability, division, and chaos, in the region, for the benefit of Israel and its Western allies. After all, a divided people are much easier to control than a united one.

Causing tension between Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, and other groups in the region is a goal that the United States and their allies have had their eyes on for a while.

Therefore it’s important to always remember that there are many Kurds that do not support these armed groups, nor are they interested in carving out the Near and Middle East and illegally establishing an independent country in the Middle East.

Kurdish families are demanding that the PKK stop kidnapping minors. It started on April 23, the day Turkey marked its 91st National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. While children celebrated the holiday in western Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) kidnapped 25 students between the ages of 14 and 16 on the east side of the country, in the Lice district of Diyarbakir.

Although the PKK has kidnapped more than 330 minors in the last six months, the Bockum family was the first in the region who put up a tent near their home to start a sit-in protest, challenging the PKK and demanding that it return their son. Sinan was returned to the family on May 4. Al-Monitor reported this incident from the beginning in great detail.

As Bebyin Somuk reported in her article, the PKK and PYD still kidnap children in Turkey and Syria. She states:

“As I previously wrote for Kebab and Camel, the PKK commits war crimes by recruiting children as soldiers. Some of the PKK militants that surrendered yesterday were also the PKK’s child soldiers. The photos clearly show that these children are not more than sixteen years old. The Turkish army released video of the 25 PKK militants surrendering in Nusaybin.”

Image on the right is a young Kurdish fighter (Source)

U5dqpdM5uJ9t7e3spcAC9TtkRdYRfZB_1680x8400.jpg

Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. In 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 38, proclaimed:

“State parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.”

Since then, UNICEF and the UN Security Council took steps to end the recruitment of children in conflict and war.

The PKK, recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. EU, and Turkey

The PKK often recruits children some as young as 7-12 years. In 2010, a Danish national daily newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, published a story about the PKK’s child soldiers. According to that report, there were around 3,000 young militants in the PKK’s training camps. The youngest child at the PKK training camps was eight or nine years old. They were taught Abdullah Öcalan’s life story (the jailed leader of the PKK) and how to use weapons and explosives.

U5dsGHKEYCcxdyZgg7nFMUDYML5gX8S_1680x8400.jpg

Despite the Deed of Commitment, the PKK continues to recruit minors. 

After that story was published, the PKK encountered strong reactions from human rights organizations worldwide. The same year, UNICEF released a statement voicing its “profound concern” about the PKK’s recruitment of child soldiers. In October 2013, the PKK, represented by HPG (the PKK’s military wing) commander Ms. Delal Amed, signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict. This document, drawn up by the Geneva Call NGO, is dedicated to promoting respect by armed non-state actors for international humanitarian norms in armed conflict. Despite this commitment, the PKK continued to recruit minors.

Image on the left shows young Kurdish fighters (Source)

The PKK Abducted Children During the Peace Process

On March 21, 2013, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called for a cease-fire that included the PKK’s withdrawal from Turkish soil and an eventual end to armed struggle. The PKK announced that they would obey, stating that 2013 would be the year of conclusion, either through war or through peace. But that did not happen. Instead, the PKK abducted 2052 children aged between 12 and 17 while the peace process was still going on, according to Turkish security records. The PKK took these children and trained them. However, because these children were not involved in any criminal activities, when they were captured by or surrendered to, Turkish security forces, Turkish courts did not prosecute them, so most of them were released. This was the Turkish state’s goodwill gesture for the sake of the peace process, for whatever it’s worth.

U5dsE8WnoC2C4RfmSb1nHSL7DD5bgxU_1680x8400

The People’s Defence Forces is the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. (Source)

Unfortunately, once released, most of these children joined the YDG-H, the PKK’s new youth wing, and began to perpetrate illegal and/or violent events in Kurdish populated cities and towns. The YDG-H began to emerge in early 2013 and spread rapidly after the peace process’ beginning. Then, after the 7 June 2015 election, the YDG-H began to attack security forces and civilians in cities and towns such as Cizre, or in Diyarbakır’s Sur neighborhood, with heavy weapons, and to dig trenches and erect barricades in side streets.

Source: VOA News Published on Jul 2, 2014

Video summary: A growing number of Kurdish families in Turkey are calling for the return of their children, who they say have been abducted by the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK. The PKK denies the claim, but with the Turkish prime minister stepping in, the issue is putting pressure on an already stalled peace process. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

The HDP assaulted the mothers demanding their children

In May 2014, mothers from across Turkey whose children had been recruited by the PKK held a sit-in protest in front of the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality building and called on the PKK to release their children. Their children were mostly 14-15 years old at that time. Some families claimed that their sons and daughters were kidnapped by the PKK against their will. The Diyarbakır Municipality, administered by the HDP, used water cannons to disperse the mothers. HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş even claimed that these mothers were hired by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization. Despite the resistance coming from the PKK and the HDP, the families continued their protest, and some families’ children were released by the PKK.

The PKK established a child-wing called YPS-Zarok

The above Tweet, from the Yüksekova district shows the child-wing recently established by the PKK called YPS-Zarok (Child) with the headline “YPS-Zarok announcement from the children of the resistance.”

The PYD, the PKK’s Syria branch, is also known for its recruitment of child soldiers.

U5dtvKPw7bNqT4GFCT78gHGHQSKXNwn_1680x8400.jpg

YPS (Source)

U.S.’s “reliable partner” the YPG also recruits children

A Human Rights Watch report, “Syria: Kurdish Forces Violating Child Soldier Ban” provides a list of 59 children, ten of them under the age of fifteen, recruited for YPG or YPJ forces since July 2014. International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court classify the recruitment of under-15-year-olds as a war crime. While the Trump Administration does not recognize the YPG as a terrorist organization and supports them as a local partner in the region, the YPG continues to recruit child soldiers.

It’s clear that the U.S. sees the PYD as a “reliable partner” in the fight against ISIS. However, the Trump Administration should notice the fact that the PYD is not an independent organization. It is linked to the PKK and recruiting minors under 18. The decision to found the PYD was made in 2002 during a PKK Congress in Qandil. The PYD also has a bylaw stating that “Abdullah Öcalan is the leader of the PYD.”

In summary, the YPG is the Syrian wing of the PKK, and recruits children just like the PKK. Regardless of what acronym they go by, whether it be the YPG, PKK, PYD, YPJ or any of the other alphabet soup combinations, they commit crimes against civilians in both Syria and Turkey all with the arms, funds, and training received from the United States.

Female PKK Fighters Killing Turkish Soldiers

SouthFront reported on female PKK fighters who have killed Turkish soldiers.

“The women fighters command of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have released a statement, claiming PKK female fighters killed 160 Turkish military servicemen in 2016. According to the statement, the women fighters command of the PKK carried out 115 operations against Turkish government forces in 2016. The group also vowed to ‘proceed the struggle during the new year for a life of freedom and until victory is achieved.’”

U5dsPdrfdbJZxHY9RD8WQfUzn8vMjxc_1680x8400

Hundreds of people protest against the PKK in Istanbul on 7 September after the PKK killed 16 soldiers and wounded six others in Daglica, Turkey. (Source)

The PKK is also killing Kurds under the guise of protecting their rights

“Senior PKK leader Cemil Bayık, in an interview with the Fırat News Agency (ANF) on Aug. 8, said, ‘Our war will not be confined to the mountains like it was before. It will be spread everywhere without making a distinction between mountains, plains or cities. It will spread to the metropolises.’ Terrorist Bayık’s statement signaled that the PKK would take increasing aim against civilians, targeting civilian areas more than ever. And it is happening.

Since July 15, the day when the Gülenist terror cult, FETÖ, launched its failed military coup attempt to topple the democratically-elected government, the PKK perpetrated dozens of terrorist attacks, killing 21 civilians and injuring 319 others – most of them Kurdish citizens.”

According to The Washington Institute: On November 18, FBI Director Robert Mueller met with senior Turkish officials to address U.S.-Turkish efforts targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also known as Kongra-Gel. A press release from the U.S. embassy in Ankara following the meeting stressed that U.S. officials ‘strongly support Turkey’s efforts against the PKK terrorist organization’ and highlighted the two countries’ long history of working together in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.

The PKK: Terrorist Organization and Foreign Narcotics Trafficker 

These discussions are timely. Despite Ankara’s recent bid to alleviate the Kurdish issue — a bid referred to as the ‘democratic opening’ — the PKK is one of a growing number of terrorist organizations with significant stakes in the international drug trade.

In October, the U.S. Treasury Department added three PKK/Kongra-Gel senior leaders to its list of foreign narcotics traffickers. The PKK, along with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is one of only a few organizations worldwide designated by the U.S. government as both a terrorist organization and a significant foreign narcotics trafficker.” Drug smuggling is reported to be the main financial source of PKK terrorism, according to the organization International Strategic Research, whose detailed report can be seen here.

U5drTAq5Cuuvo4u1Un9iXzUUKgpbcVj_1680x8400.jpg

Source

Western Veterans Blindly Supporting Kurdish Independence

Their exaggerated triumphs against Daesh have helped them evolve from a radical militia to an alleged regional power player. Have they been successful in fighting against Daesh in Syria? Yes – but while the Syrian Arab Army has been more effective, it does not receive a fraction of the praise or recognition that the PKK does.

Pato Rincon, a U.S. military veteran, recently wrote about his experience training with the YPG in Syria.

Although initially interested in their desire for autonomy, he soon got to know a different side of the group.

An Exclusive Eyewitness Account of an American who Trained with the Kurdish Syrian Rebels

Getting retired from the United States Marine Corps at age 23 with zero deployments under my belt was a huge blow to what I figured to be my destiny on this planet. That “retirement” came in 2010 after three years on convalescent leave, recovering from a traumatic brain injury sustained stateside. I got my chance to vindicate myself in 2015 by volunteering to fight in Syria with the Kurdish Yeni Parastina Gel (YPG), or the “People’s Protection Units” in Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish language).

The YPG is the military apparatus of the Partiya Yekitiya Democrat (PYD), the Democratic Union Party, and one of the main forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting ISIS and Bashar al-Assad’s regime. While they are a direct ideological descendant of the Soviet Union, their take on Marxism has a much more nationalistic bent than that of their internationalist forebears. At their training camp that I attended, they constantly spoke of their right to a free and autonomous homeland–which I could support. On the other hand, they ludicrously claimed that all surrounding cultures from Arab to Turk to Persian descended from Kurdish culture. One should find this odd, considering that the Kurds have never had such autonomy as that which they struggle for. All of this puffed up nationalism masquerading as internationalism was easy to see through.

The Westerners were treated with respect by the “commanders” (they eschewed proper rank and billet, how bourgeoise!), but the rank and file YPGniks were more interested in what we could do for them and what they could steal from us (luckily, my luggage was still in storage at the Sulaymaniyah International Airport in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq). By “steal from us,” I mean they would walk up to a Westerner/American and grab their cap, glasses, scarf and whatever else they wanted and ask “Hevalti?” which is Kurmanji for “Comraderie?” and if you “agreed” or stalled (a non-verbal agreement) then they would take your gear and clothing. “Do not get your shit hevalti-ed,” the saying went.

Not only was their idea of Marxism fatuous, their version of feminism was even worse. We had to take mandatory “Female World History” classes in which some putrid fourth or even fifth wave feminist propaganda was espoused. Early on in my brief stay with this “military unit”, I was told not to ever brush my teeth in front of a woman as that might “sexualize” her… …something to do with preparing one’s self for sex or something.

They insisted that we chicken-wing our elbows while sighting in on targets–the same targets that were fired on by everybody in the class, thus making an assessment of individual strengths and weaknesses rather impossible. This was on the ONE day that we went to the range–one day with the AK-47 out of about a month of training. Another day was Some of these guys were straight from civilian life, with only their blood composition to act as a reason for them to be there. Little boys and little girls as young as 13 or 14 were there–reason enough for me to leave.

During one long “Female World History” class, we were taught that if a man had a Dragonov (sniper rifle) and he was elevated from his female comrade’s position and she had a Bixie, they the male in the scenario should not cover his female comrade, but instead should find something else to do lest she lose self esteem, not feeling capable of carrying out the task by herself.

When a student from Kentucky asked, “What if the situation is reversed–can a woman cover a man?” the female instructor smiled and said, “Yes, that’s okay.” I didn’t end up firing a shot in combat for the YPG. After seeing their half-baked ideology, poor level of training, and the child soldiers, I had had enough. They were nice enough to arrange for me to go back to Iraq where I could catch a ride to Turkey.

U5dr7RnnEiaxhDQjarqsfGiDtWSiwZX_1680x8400

Pat Rincon with YPG fighters in Syria (Source)

Accounts such as this will certainly not make it to mainstream media, as they do not fit the narrative that the Kurds and their sponsors promote.

UK Veteran with outstanding warrant joined YPG, gets arrest in the UK then again in Turkey

In another example of Western support for the YPG, Joe Robinson, an ex-soldier and UK national, recently returned to the UK after spending five months in Syria fighting with the group. He was detained and arrested by Greater Manchester Police officers on suspicion of terrorism offenses as soon as he returned. He joined the British military when he was 18 and toured Afghanistan with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in 2012.

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Joseph A. R. (right) in a military outfit with flag patches of Kurdistan and the UK, while men who appear to be Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces are seen in the background in this undated social media picture (Source)

He left the UK when an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court. Robinson is pictured here in Syria with YPG fighters.

The information contained in this article serves the purpose of balancing all of the propaganda and romanticization that these Kurdish terrorist groups have received in mainstream media. The bottom line is they are armed, dangerous, and committing crimes with international support. Support for these terrorist groups needs to end immediately before further division, chaos and death spread further in the region.

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and political commentator. Focused on exposing the lies and propaganda in mainstream media news, as it relates to domestic and foreign policy with an emphasis on the Middle East. Contributed to various radio shows, news publications and spoken at forums. For media inquiries please email [email protected]

This article was originally published by The Rabbit Hole.

Featured image is from this source.

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Threats of Total Destruction Are Unlawful and Extremely Dangerous; Direct Diplomacy between the US and the DPRK Is Essential to Avert Disaster

September 26th, 2017 by Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and Western States Legal Foundation

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” – President Donald Trump, speech at United Nations, September 19, 2017

President Trump’s threat of total destruction of North Korea is utterly unacceptable. Also unacceptable are similarly threatening statements made in pieces carried by North Korea’s state-owned news agency.[1] Instead of making apocalyptic threats, the two governments should agree on a non-aggression pact as a step toward finally concluding a peace treaty formally ending the 1950s Korean War and permanently denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

The U.S. and North Korean threats are wrong as a matter of morality and common sense. They are also completely contrary to bedrock requirements of international law – law which is part of the law of the land under the U.S. Constitution. Both countries, by engaging in a cycle of threats and military posturing, violate prohibitions on the threat of force to resolve disputes and on threats to use force outside the bounds of the law of armed conflict. Trump’s threats carry more weight because the armed forces of the United States, capped by its immense nuclear arsenal, could accomplish the destruction of North Korea in short order.

Threats of total destruction negate the fundamental principle that the right to choose methods and means of warfare is not unlimited:

  • Under the law of armed conflict, military operations must be necessary for and proportionate to the achievement of legitimate military objectives, and must not be indiscriminate or cause unnecessary suffering. Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits threatening an adversary that there will be no survivors or conducting hostilities on that basis. The Nuremberg Tribunal found the Nazi concept of “total war” to be unlawful because it runs contrary to all the rules of warfare and the moral principles underlying them, creating a climate in which “rules, regulations, assurances, and treaties all alike are of no moment” and “everything is made subordinate to the overmastering dictates of war.”
  • Conducting a war with the intention of destroying an entire country would contravene the Genocide Convention, which prohibits killing “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group ….”
  • Limits on the conduct of warfare apply to both aggressor and defender states. Thus Trump’s statement that total destruction would be inflicted in defense of the United States and its allies is no justification. Moreover, the U.S. doctrine permitting preventive war, carried out in the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq, means that Trump’s reference to “defense” does not necessarily rule out U.S. military action in the absence of a North Korean attack or imminent attack.
  • North Korea has explicitly threatened use of nuclear weapons. While the United States likely would not use nuclear weapons first in the Korean setting, it remains true that Trump’s references to “fire and fury” and “total destruction” raise the specter of U.S. employment of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons cannot be used in compliance with the law of armed conflict, above all the requirement of discrimination, as the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons recognizes. Threats of use of nuclear weapons are likewise unlawful.  The illegal character of the threat or use of nuclear weapons is especially egregious where the express intent is to “totally destroy” an adversary, a purpose that from the outset rules out limiting use of force to the proportionate and necessary.

U.S. and North Korean threats of war are also unlawful because military action of any kind is not justified.

The UN Charter prohibits the threat or use of force except in self-defense against an armed attack or subject to UN Security Council authorization:

  • Article 51 of the UN Charter permits the use of force as a matter of self-defense only in response to an armed attack.  No armed attack by either side has occurred or is imminent.
  • The Security Council is addressing the matter and has not authorized use of force. Its most recent resolution[2] imposing further sanctions on North Korea was adopted pursuant to UN Charter Article 41, which provides for measures not involving the use of force. There is no indication whatever in that and preceding resolutions of an authorization of use of force. Moreover, the resolution emphasizes the need for a peaceful resolution of the dispute with North Korea. That approach is mandated by the UN Charter, whose Article 2(3) requires all members to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”

It is urgent that diplomatic overtures replace threats.

In the nuclear age, the first principle of diplomacy should be that adversaries talk to each other to the maximum possible extent, and in moments of crisis directly and unconditionally. We learned during the Cold War that even when the prospects for any tangible progress seem dim, negotiations between nuclear-armed adversaries have other positive results. They allow the military and political leaderships of the adversaries to better understand each other’s intentions, and their fears. They build broader channels of communication between military and government bureaucracies that can be of tremendous value when tensions rise.

Accordingly, the United States should declare itself ready and willing to engage in direct talks with North Korea, and a commitment to denuclearization should not be a precondition for such talks. To facilitate negotiations, the United States and South Korea should immediately cease large-scale military exercises in the region, providing North Korea with an opportunity to reciprocate by freezing its nuclear-related testing activities. The immediate aim of negotiations should be a non-aggression pact, as a step toward a comprehensive peace treaty bringing permanent closure to the Korean War and providing for a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula. Success in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula will be much more likely if the United States, Russia, China and other nuclear-armed states also engage, as they are obligated to do, in negotiations for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Click here for a printable pdf of this statement.

Notes

[1] E.g., “U.S. Will Meet Nuclear Strike and Final Ruin,” The Rodong Sinmun, September 18, 2017, http://www.rodong.rep.kp/en/index.php?strPageID=SF01_02_01&newsID=2017-09-18-0005 (“in case the U.S. opts for confrontation and war … it will meet horrible nuclear strike and miserable and final ruin”).

[2] Resolution 2375, adopted September 11, 2017.


“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 UniversityWWIII Scenario

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

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

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Featured image: Israeli border police officer chases Palestinian children during land day demonstration in Damascus gate, East Jerusalem, March 30, 2014. (Source: Activestills.org via +972 Magazine)

Israeli occupation apologists masquerading as protectors of Palestinian children in military detention? Few displays of alternative facts should shock us these days, but somehow an upcoming event by the Israeli right-wing group NGO Monitor’s at the UN Palais De Nations in Geneva comes close. Under the Orwellian title “Protecting Children: The realities of Israeli Military Juvenile Justice in a Terror Environment,” the event planned for Sept 25th features such doyens of child protection as the former IDF Chief West Bank Prosecutor, Lt. Col. (Res) Maurice Hirsch.

A recent recruit to the Israeli hasbara (public relations) industry, Hirsch seems committed to denying Israel’s 50 year-long occupation — instead, he euphemistically refers to “the changing borders of the State of Israel” — as well as trying to legitimize Israel’s military court system, which has faced broad criticism by British experts, UNICEF, as well as B’Tselem, for its systematic and widespread mistreatment of Palestinian minors.

Hirsch oversaw the prosecution’s part in the assembly line that forces virtually all Palestinian minors prosecuted by the army to accept conviction by plea bargains — which usually lead to incarceration. In 2015, the last year for which official data is available, 95 percent of the approximately 540 Palestinian minors indicted in the military courts were convicted. This is done through interrogations that violate minors’ rights, such that they incriminate themselves and others; these incriminations are later presented to the military court, with no other evidence. Military courts deny most minors bail and the few exceptions are routinely appealed by the military prosecution, which is also responsible for the high percent of indictments – 62 percent of the 871 minors arrested in 2015.

In response to criticism, Israel has implemented tried and true tactic: cosmetic changes that enable it to continue imprisoning Palestinian children. These included several changes to the military legislation, such as formalizing the age for prosecuting Palestinians as adults, the establishment of the military court for youth, and changes in detention and remand periods. Legal cosmetics, however, will not meaningfully improve the treatment of Palestinian minors or the protection of their rights.

Israel soldiers in a courtroom at the Ofer Military Court near the West Bank town of Beitunia, February 8, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel soldiers in a courtroom at the Ofer Military Court near the West Bank town of Beitunia, February 8, 2015. (Source: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel has also attempted to deflect criticism by initiating a “secret dialogue” with UNICEF, the UN program that provides humanitarian assistance to children in developing countries, in order to improve its image. But according to the latest UNICEF update, “the data demonstrates the need for further actions to improve the protection of children in military detention, as reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.” And this comes following the “secret dialogue”. Official Israeli statistics present a large increase in the numbers of Palestinian minors serving prison sentences since the round of violence that broke out in late 2015, and a renewal of administrative detention of minors. All this indicates that the situation has not improved, and that the system still rejects the principle that the detention of minors should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate time.

The central problem at the heart of Israel’s half-century old military court system is clear: these courts do not – and never will – reflect the interests of the defendants, but rather that of the regime of occupation. Under Israel’s two separate and unequal legal systems, military judges and prosecutors act as Israeli army officers enforcing martial law over a civilian Palestinian population living under military rule.

In 2012, a delegation of eminent British jurists concluded that

“it may be that much of the reluctance to treat Palestinian children in conformity with international norms stems from a belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a ‘potential terrorist’. Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice.”

The jurists did not speak to Hirsch, who took up his post in 2013, but his conduct seems to reflect a similar position: treating all Palestinian child detainees, regardless of age, as terrorists, while denying Israel’s obligations as an occupying power in the West Bank.

Israeli Border Police officer detains a Palestinian child at a protest in Kufr Qaddum, January 25, 2013. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli Border Police officer detains a Palestinian child at a protest in Kufr Qaddum, January 25, 2013. (Source: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

In 2016, bloggers Noam Rotem and John Brown revealed a series of private Facebook posts published by Hirsch, in which he demanded to hang the killers who committed the horrific killing of five members of the Fogel Family in March 2011, and for the “elimination” of Hamas heads on a daily basis until Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is freed. According to Rotem and Brown, these comments “reflect on the head of the military prosecution in the West Bank, who should at least pay lip service to providing a fair hearing for Palestinians.” Hirsch’s deeply disturbing indictment of a troubled 12-year-old Palestinian girl, arrested near a settlement carrying a concealed knife is another telling indication of his take on protecting Palestinian children, with the entire military legal system’s backing and participation. The girl was sentenced to four-and-a-half months in prison, of which she served two-and-a-half months, eventually released following an international outcry.

The steady entrenchment of Israel’s occupation and dispossession of Palestinians, while eliciting some condemnation, has not yet led to meaningful international action. Still, the abuse of Palestinian minors in the military court system is one of the few matters that some countries have been willing to take up seriously with Israel. This is the context of the forthcoming event in Geneva: yet another example of NGO Monitor’s role in promoting Israeli government’s propaganda while smearing critical human rights groups. Now they have moved to trying to justify systematic abusive treatment of minors. But no PR exercise can eliminate the contradiction in terms known to the world as Israel’s “military justice system.” Only ending the occupation will.

Sarit Michaeli is B’Tselem’s international advocacy officer.

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Syria: U.S. Central Command Declares War on Russia

September 25th, 2017 by Moon of Alabama

Yesterday three high ranking Russian officers were killed in an “ISIS attack” in eastern-Syrian. It is likely that they were killed by U.S. special forces or insurgents under U.S. special forces control. The incident will be understood as a declaration of war.

The U.S. Central Command in the Middle East wants the oil fields in east-Syria under control of its proxy forces to set up and control a U.S. aligned Kurdish mini-state in the area. The Syrian government, allied with Russia, needs the revenues of the oil fields to rebuild the country.

 

Last week the Russians issued sharply worded statements against U.S. coordination with al-Qaeda terrorists in Idleb province and warned of further escalation.

Yesterday the Russian Ministry of Defense accused the U.S. military in east-Syria of direct collaboration with the Islamic State:

US Army special units provide free passage for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) through the battle formations of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, the ministry said in a statement.“Facing no resistance of the ISIS militants, the SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the Euphrates towards Deir ez-Zor,” the statement reads.

The newly released images “clearly show that US special ops are stationed at the outposts previously set up by ISIS militants.”

“Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

This map marks the currently relevant conflict area – (U.S. proxies – yellow, SAA – red, ISIS – black):

Source: Weekend Warrior

The accusations are plausible. Large parts of ISIS in Deir Ezzor consist of local tribal forces from eastern-Syria. U.S. special envoy Brett McGurk recently met tribal leaders who had earlier pledged allegiance to ISIS. Deals were made. As we wrote:

The U.S. diplomat tasked with the job, Brett McGurk, recently met with local tribal dignitaries of the area. Pictures of the meeting were published. Several people pointed out that the very same dignitaries were earlier pictured swearing allegiance to the Islamic State.

Just like during the “Anbar Awaking” in its war on Iraq the U.S. is bribing the local radicals to temporarily change over to its side. This will help the U.S. to claim that it defeated ISIS. But as soon as the payments stop the very same forces will revert back to their old game.

The local criminal Ahmad Abu Khawla, who had earlier fought for ISIS, was suddenly installed as commander of a newly invented “Deir Ezzor Military Council”, set up under U.S. special force control.

Last night a Russian three-star general and two colonels were killed in a mortar attack while they visited a Syrian army headquarter in Deir Ezzor:

Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov, of the Russian armed forces, has been killed after coming under shelling from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants near Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced.In its statement, the ministry said that Asapov was at a command outpost manned by Syrian troops, assisting commanders in the liberation of the city of Deir ez-Zor.

Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov is the highest-ranking Russian officer to be killed in the Syrian campaign. He was a commander of the 5th Army in Russia’s Eastern Military District, one of the four strategic commands in the Russian Armed Forces. The army is based in Russia’s Far East, in the city of Ussuriysk, some 98 km (61 miles) from Vladivostok.

For three years ISIS had besieged Syrian troops in Deir Ezzor city and its airport. It had not once managed to successfully attack the Syrian headquarter or to kill high ranking officers. Now, as U.S. proxy forces “advised” by U.S. special forces, have taken position north of Deir Ezzor, “ISIS” suddenly has the intelligence data and precision mortar capabilities to kill a bunch of visiting Russian officers?

That is not plausible. No one in Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran or Moscow will believe that.

The Russian military, as usual, reacts calmly and officially attributes the attack to ISIS. Doing so avoids pressure to immediately react to the attack. (The U.S. will falsely interpret this as a face-saving Russian retreat.)

But no one in Moscow will believe that the incident is independent of other recent maneuvers by the U.S. forces and independent of the earlier accusations the Russian military made against the U.S. forces.

Nominally the U.S. and Russia are both in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Russian troops are legitimately there, having been invited by the Syrian government. The U.S. forces have no legal justification for their presence. So far open hostilities between the two sides had been avoided. But as the U.S. now obviously sets out to split Syria apart, openly cooperates with terrorists and does not even refrain from killing Russian officers, the gloves will have to come off.

U.S. Central Command has declared war on the Russian contingent in Syria. A high ranking Russian general was killed. This inevitably requires a reaction. The response does not necessarily have to come from Russian forces.  Moscow has many capable allies in the area. The response does not necessarily have to come in Syria.

“Accidents” and “incidents”, like an “ISIS mortar attacks”, or unintentional bombing of troop concentration of the other side, can happen on both sides of the front. Cars can blow up, bridges can collapse. Any U.S. officer or civilian official in the larger Middle East should be aware that they too are now targets.

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The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Sunday asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to start investigating Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and for the United Nations (UN) to inspect Israel’s nuclear facilities, according to a statement issued at the conclusion of a meeting in Ramallah for the PLO’s Executive Committee.

It also charged Israel of ethnic cleansing and racial segregation, which it also said were considered a war crime that should be investigated by the ICC.

The PLO said Israel’s settlement expansion, which it described as an aggression, is going to create “a system of discrimination and racial segregation.”

It accused Israel of carrying out what it describe as “silent ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, in areas south of Hebron and in other areas of the occupied West Bank.

As a result, said the PLO, it has decided “to refer the file of settlements as a war crime and the file of ethnic cleansing, discrimination and apartheid to the International Criminal Court with an urgent appeal to open a judicial investigation into the war crimes committed by the State of Israel in the Palestinian territories occupied during the 1967 aggression.”

President Mahmoud Abbas chairing a PLO meeting in Ramallah following his return from a trip that took him to the United Nations. (WAFA photo/Thayer Ghanayem) 

The PLO also called on the United Nations to take “necessary and speedy measures to inspect (Israel’s) nuclear facilities and the necessity of (Israel) implementing the decisions of the (Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons).”

It called on the UN to provide protection to the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation, saying that the international community, particularly the UN, cannot continue with its double standard policy and not implement international law and UN resolutions when it comes to Israel.

It said Jewish settler groups that have been terrorizing the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, such as Price Tag, the Hilltop Youths, and others should be considered as terrorist organizations and treated as such. It accused Israel of protecting these groups  while they carry out attacks and terror acts against the Palestinian civilians and their properties.

The PLO said that international law and UN resolutions relevant to the Palestinian cause remain

“the only base for a comprehensive and balanced political settlement that will provide security and stability to all people in the region, including the state of Palestine on the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem in its heart as the eternal capital of the people and state of Palestine, that will also protect the rights of the Palestinian refugees for return to their homes they were forced out from by military aggression as stated in UN resolution 194.”

Featured image is from PNN.

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The Russian Defense Ministry wrote on Facebook on Sunday that US special forces have escorted the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) across ISIS positions.

“Without any resistance from the IS militants, the SDF units are moving further along left shore of the Euphrates River towards Deir Ezzor,” the defense authority said. “At the aero photo imaged, taken between September 8 and 12, 2017, at the positions of IS forces can been seen many US armored Hammer vehicles, used by the US special forces.”

“Though the US military units’ positions are in the areas of ISIS location, they do not have any signs of organized combat security,” the Defense Ministry added.

“The pictures show clearly that units of the US special force are located in the strongholds, the IS militants had equipped,” the statement reads.

“This means that all the US personnel there feel quite secure in the districts, controlled by terrorists,” the ministry said after highlighting that there was no signs that fighting has taken place.

All images in this article are from the author.

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There have been disturbing reports of attacks by security forces against civilians, which are completely unacceptable. Aid activities…have been severely disrupted. I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country.” – United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres (September 13, 2017) [1]

“Like so many other cases of ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya conflict is essentially a conflict over resources, namely oil and gas.” – Whitney Webb (September 20, 2017) [2]

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Over the last year, and particularly in recent weeks, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi has had her status as a pro-democracy icon tarnished.

Since August 25th, violence directed by the Myanmar security forces toward the Rohingya peoples has forced more than 400,000 to cross the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. [3]

Former allies and admirers of Aung San Suu Kyi are now condemning her inaction in the face of these measures against the Rohingya. There has been open talk of rescinding her Nobel Peace Prize. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing pressure to revoke the Myanmar leader’s status as an honourary Canadian citizen. Even fellow Nobel laureate and celebrated anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu could not contain his disappointment saying:

“If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep…It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country.”

The Myanmar top general claims the recent crack down is in retaliation against Rohingya militants, a group “with no roots in the country” which attacked dozens of police positions on August 25th.

On September 13th, the UN Secretary-General gave the crisis top billing during a press conference. The ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Rohingya is making international headlines.

It is not unusual for mainstream press and Western political leaders to downplay human rights abuses by their allies (eg. Israel, Saudi Arabia) while waxing indignant about the crimes of official enemies (eg. Cuba, Venezuela, Syria).

So what are we to read into the change in attitude toward Aung San Suu Kyi, arguably a tool of US ambitions in the region since the beginning? This question dominates our focus on this week’s Global Research News Hour.

In our first half hour, fellow broadcaster Stephen Lendman joins us to share what prompted him to write two recent articles on the Rohingya and Aung San Suu Kyi. [4] [5] In a 20 minute discussion we explore the question of foreign support for Suu Kyi’s ‘pro-democracy’ movement, the role of celebrity in achieving imperial ends, and whether the current ‘calling out’ of the former darling of the West signals a welcome correction of US strategic aims.

In our second half hour, we probe more deeply into the question of US imperial aims. Chile-based writer Whitney Webb wrote an article for Mint Press News entitled Oil, Gas, Geopolitics Guide US Hand In Playing The Rohingya Crisis. This September 20th article, exposes a destabilization campaign being deliberately instigated through Saudi and Pakistani sources, prompting the Myanmar government’s violent crack-down. She brushes aside misleading rhetoric about human rights as a motivating factor and puts Myanmar in the context of basic power principles and the South Asian state’s critical role on the current geopolitical chessboard.

Stephen Lendman is an independent journalist, blogger and broadcaster with the Progressive Radio network. He is a project censored winner and recipient of the Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award. He is also the editor of and contributor to the 2014 book “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” from Clarity Press. He is also a frequent contributor to Global Research and a frequent guest on this program. His writings are archived on his new website: stephenlendman.org.

Whitney Webb is a contributor to Mintpress News and has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish. Her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, Global Research, 21st Century Wire, and True Activist among others. She is based in Temuco, Chile.

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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 everyThursday at 6pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm 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 –1  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  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

Radio station CFUV 101.9FM based at the University of Victoria airs the Global Research News Hour every Sunday from 7 to 8am PT.

CORTES COMMUNITY RADIO CKTZ  89.5 out of Manson’s Landing, B.C airs the show Tuesday mornings at 10am Pacific time.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 6am pacific time.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 10am.

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at www.caperradio.ca

Notes: 

  1. http://webtv.un.org/watch/ant%C3%B3nio-guterres-un-secretary-general-press-conference-13-september-2017/5575111900001/
  2. http://www.mintpressnews.com/oil-gas-geopolitics-us-rohingya-crisis/232145/
  3. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41315924
  4. http://stephenlendman.org/2017/09/the-rohingya-genocide/
  5. http://stephenlendman.org/2017/09/nobel-laureate-suu-kyi-ignores-genocidal-slaughter-rohingyas/

Global Research strives for peace, and we have but one mandate: to share timely, independent and vital information to readers across the globe. We act as a global platform to let the voices of dissent, protest, and expert witnesses and academics be heard and disseminated internationally.

We need to stand together to continuously question politics, false statements, and the suppression of independent thought.

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North Korea versus the United States: Who are the Demons? North Korea Lost 30% of Its Population as a Result of US Bombings in the 1950s

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, September 25, 2017

What most people in America do not know –and which is particularly relevant when assessing the “threats” of the DPRK to World peace– is that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of  US led bombings in the 1950s. US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s population was killed off over a three period of intensive bombings.

“Unlimited Imperialism”, History of American Militarism: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

By Francis A. Boyle, September 25, 2017

The future of American foreign policy and the peace of the world lie in the hands of American citizens—not the bureaucrats, legislators, judges, lobbyists, think-tankers, professors, and self-styled experts who inhibit Washington, D.C., New York City, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hyde Park/Chicago, Illinois. Civil resistance is the way to go!

“The Syrian People Knew that This War Was to Eliminate Their Country”: Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister’s Impassioned UN Address

By Stephen Lendman, September 25, 2017

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Moualem used his UN address to blast America and its rogue allies, while expressing gratitude to Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah for their vital support – combating the scourge of terrorism Washington supports.

The Iran “Nuclear Deal” Leads to War, Not Peace

By Tony Cartalucci, September 25, 2017

While US President Barack Obama posed as conciliatory toward Iran, the US was steeped deeply in not only a proxy war against Syria, but ultimately a proxy war aimed directly at Iran.

Signs Indicate Trump Continuing Obama’s Support for Al Qaeda in Syria

By Eric Zuesse, September 25, 2017

This is a U.S.-Saud-Israel core alliance, against Iran and against Iran’s ally Syria. From the very start of Donald Trump’s Presidency, the overthrow of Iran’s Government has been practically an obsession.

Unites Nations – and the Monster in the Room

By Peter Koenig, September 23, 2017

The ongoing US indiscriminate killing around the globe – tens of millions of people in the last 70 years alone – plus these ferocious, insane threats, and economic strangulations through illegal sanctions, are ripe for a new Nuremburg type tribunal.

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In recent years, Myanmar (formerly Burma) has only rarely been in the news. The quiet treatment owed much to the assumption that the country’s fledgling democracy was in “good hands” once the U.S-backed 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi gained renewed political prominence after the 2015 elections and assumed the office of state counselor a year later. However, the tide of international public opinion has been turning sharply against Suu Kyi as human rights activists, the United Nations and several other Nobel laureates have strongly criticized her handling of what has now become known as the “Rohingya crisis.”

The crisis centers on the plight of the Rohingya, a historically persecuted Muslim minority living in Myanmar’s coastal Rakhine state (formerly Arakan state). The Rohingya are also stateless, as Myanmar’s government has long refused to recognize their centuries-long claim to the region and has asserted on several occasions that the Rohingya are not native to Myanmar but instead “illegal immigrants” from neighboring Bangladesh. Deprived of citizenship and thus of basic rights, their suffering has been compounded by Myanmar’s government, which has used the military to violently intimidate the Rohingya and force them from their lands.

This month, in particular, the corporate media — as well as several prominent human rights organizations and international bodies, such as the UN — have given unprecedented attention to the conflict. Last Monday, for example, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, accused Myanmar of undertaking “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and stated that Myanmar’s campaign against the Rohingya violated international law. In the first two weeks of September, corporate media outlets have reported extensively on the crisis. Just last week, CNN published 13 different articles about the Rohingya’s plight. Calls have mounted for Suu Kyi, as Myanmar’s leader, to intervene.

Given the recent flurry of press coverage and the spike in concern among international bodies such as the United Nations, one might assume that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya by Myanmar’s government is a recent phenomenon. However, in reality, the conflict itself is nearly a century old and its current escalation did not begin this year, but rather in 2011, and has continued to worsen ever since. Furthermore, numerous other instances of genocide, such as the Saudis’ destruction of Yemen and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine, are hardly touched by the corporate media or mentioned in mainstream political discourse.

So why the sudden interest in Myanmar?

Oil and Gas Pipelines

Like so many other cases of ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya conflict is essentially a conflict over resources, namely oil and gas. In 2004, a massive natural gas field, named Shwe in honor of the long-time leader of Myanmar’s military junta, was discovered off the coast of Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal. In 2008, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) secured the rights to the natural gas and bestowed upon the field its honorific name. Construction began a year later on two 1,200 km overland pipelines that would cross from Myanmar’s Rakhine state – home of the Rohingya – to the Yunnan province of China.

The pipelines — one carrying gas and the other carrying oil from the Middle East and Africa, brought to Myanmar by ship — missed their targeted dates for completion. The gas pipeline became operational in 2014 and carries more than 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year to China. The oil pipeline has proven more difficult to construct and is set to be completed later this year. Once completed, it will allow China easier access to oil from the Middle East and Africa and will reduce the transport time of such oil by as much as 30 percent.

Map showing the route of the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines. (Image: Shwe Gas Movement)

Map showing the route of the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines. (Image: Shwe Gas Movement)

Beyond the obvious boon of having increased and easier access to oil, the Shwe oil pipeline is of critical strategic importance to Chinese geopolitical interests. Currently, 80 percent of China’s imported oil passes through the straits of Malacca and disputed parts of the South China Sea. This current route would leave China vulnerable to a potential energy blockade imposed by the 6th Fleet of the U.S. Navy, were hostilities to arise between the two rival nations. Once the Shwe oil pipeline became operational, the Chinese would no longer have to worry about the possibility of the U.S. imposing a blockade on the vast majority of Chinese oil imports, a critical advantage for China during a period of rapidly decaying Sino-U.S. relations.

Since construction began, protests against the pipelines in Rakhine state and other areas of Myanmar have been constant. Residents of Rakhine state, in particular, have complained to the government and to CNPC on numerous occasions that the project had polluted rivers, destroyed private property and decimated the livelihood of local fishermen. In addition, many of the owners of properties expropriated for the project were not compensated by CNPC as promised, further stoking anti-pipeline demonstrations and unrest. Protesters have also repeatedly called for CNPC to supply the surrounding area with electricity, a basic utility still lacking there, and to offer more job opportunities for local workers.

The Myanmar government is a major stakeholder in the pipeline, as it owns a major stake in the Shwe field’s production of natural gas and is set to earn $7 million per year in annual right-of-way fees for the pipelines once both are completed. Given that public opposition forced Myanmar to suspend China’s Myitsone Dam project in Kachin state in 2011, the government is acutely aware that unchecked local resistance to the pipelines could potentially deprive it of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Thus, Myanmar’s military has been ardently pursuing the Rohingya, citing vengeance for periodic attacks launched by regional insurgents as a pretext for the violence that has forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

A manufactured insurgency financed by Saudi Arabia

Ataullah abu Ammar Junjuni, a Pakistani national with deep ties to Saudi Arabia, center, and leader of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. (Photo: screenshot)

Ataullah abu Ammar Junjuni, a Pakistani national with deep ties to Saudi Arabia, center, and leader of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. (Photo: screenshot)

The “Rohingya insurgency” in Rakhine state is hardly the organic, local response to long-standing state suppression it claims to be. The group, now known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and formerly known as Harakah al-Yakin, is led by Ataullah abu Ammar Junjuni, a Pakistani national who worked as a Wahhabi imam in Saudi Arabia prior to arriving in Myanmar. According to a Reuters report from last year, the group is financed by both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — and “a committee of 20 senior Rohingya emigres,” headquartered in Mecca, “oversees” the group.

ARSA is directly responsible for both last year’s and the current crackdown on Rohingya civilians and communities, as its attacks on Myanmar military installations and bases have precipitated the military’s violent response. ARSA has also targeted Buddhist civilians in Rakhine state, fomenting support among extremist Buddhists elsewhere in the country for the continued persecution of the Rohingya.

ARSA is also likely to have no shortage of recruits, as Saudi Arabia is spending over a billion dollars to construct 560 Wahhabi mosques in nearby Bangladesh, the nation where most Rohingya have fled to escape the violence.

Despite this, international corporate media outlets such as CNN and Al Jazeera have published sympathetic portrayals of the Wahhabist insurgency, asserting that the group “is not a terrorist group aimed at striking at the heart of Myanmar society as the government claims it is” but rather “a group of hopeless men” working to protect their people. However, Myanmar’s Muslim organizations have overwhelmingly condemned ARSA for its tactics and extremist views. The parallels to the corporate media coverage of Saudi-funded Syrian “rebels” are obvious.

What does Saudi Arabia stand to gain from funding and driving the Rohingya conflict? A large crisis in Rakhine state, particularly one that has gained the attention of the UN, has the potential to derail the completion of the Shwe oil pipeline to China, which is set to begin functioning later this year. Preventing this pipeline from being built might directly benefit Saudi Arabia to some extent, but would be far more profoundly beneficial to a major ally of the Saudis, the United States. Another U.S./Saudi ally, Israel, also stands to profit as a significant supplier of weapons to the Myanmar regime, a role that has continued unimpeded despite the conflict.

U.S.’ noncommittal response a product of its long-game cynicism

While China’s tacit support of Myanmar’s response to the Rohingya crisis was expected given its clear economic and strategic interests in the nation, some reports expressed surprise that the U.S. — the reputed, if selective, global “defender” of human rights — was “wary of involvement” in the conflict despite the outrage expressed by the UN and the corporate media. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. is concerned its involvement could “undermine the Asian country’s democratic leader,” Aung San Suu Kyi, whose rule is largely a product of Western funding.

U.S. interest in Myanmar is hardly new, as the U.S. government, along with various U.S. nongovernmental organizations, have spent millions on “democracy promotion” — specifically on funding the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Suu Kyi. In 2003, a document titled “Burma: Time for Change” by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) noted that the NLD, and its leader, “cannot survive in Burma [Myanmar] without the help of the United States and the international community.”

In the years since, the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in order to cultivate “democratic institutions” and spur “economic development” in order to push for a new form of government in Myanmar. Between 2012 and 2014, the Obama administration gave $375 million to Myanmar for such efforts.

Furthermore, in 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was the “leading donor” in Myanmar’s 2015 election, which saw Suu Kyi and her party claim decisive victories. It also funded the creation of Myanmar’s entire voter database that year and the use of all technology used in the election and subsequent elections. Ultimately, over $18 million was spent on the election by USAID.

In addition, several nongovernmental organizations, often funded by controversial U.S.-Hungarian billionaire George Soros, have been involved in Myanmar “democracy promotion.” Two such examples are the London-based Prospect Burma and the CFR umbrella group known as the Burma Task Force, which has taken up the Rohingya’s plight as its flagship issue since 2013. Soros’ Open Society Foundations have also been involved in Myanmar for some time, specifically in attempting to pressure Indian shareholders of the Shwe natural gas pipeline into abandoning the project.

Suu Kyi’s election marked a reversal for Myanmar in several ways, particularly economically. While Suu Kyi’s predecessors had favored investment from China and South Korea, Suu Kyi’s rise to power has seen increased U.S. investment in Myanmar, partly because the U.S. waited to remove sanctions against the country until she became the nation’s leader. Soon after her election, U.S. investment increased precipitously and is expected to double its current level by 2020. As of last month, U.S. companies had invested $250 million in Myanmar following Suu Kyi’s assumption of power.

However, this new surge in investment is not as new for U.S. oil and gas companies, who have been allowed to invest in Myanmar, despite U.S. sanctions, since 2012. The Obama administration made the exception due to the fear that the U.S. “would lose out to foreign competitors” before sanctions were fully lifted, a clear allusion to the Chinese and South Korean companies which had claimed large swaths of the Shwe gas field a year prior. However, Suu Kyi’s rise to prominence led to more lucrative contracts for U.S. and Western companies, particularly Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips.

“Puppets” with ideas of their own

Image result for myanmar china

Source: news.xinhuanet.com

While the uptick in U.S. corporate investment and U.S. ties is unsurprising given the U.S.’ own massive investment in Suu Kyi and her political party, the U.S. is less than pleased with Suu Kyi’s tenure thus far. As The New York Times recently noted, Suu Kyi has maintained and even strengthened her nation’s ties with China, failing to favor the U.S. interests responsible for her rise to power.

For instance, Suu Kyi has visited Beijing twice since becoming Myanmar’s leader yet has rejected an invitation to a conference organized by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. She has expressed her feelings that China “will do everything possible to promote our peace process,” referring to China’s eagerness to end sectarian fighting in Rakhine State and other area of Burma. There are also suggestions that the Chinese are seeking to develop a naval base in the port city of Kyaukpyu, something the U.S. desperately wants to avoid.

Min Zin, executive director of the Institute for Strategy and Policy in Myanmar, told the Times that

“As the United States recedes, Aung San Suu Kyi is relying more and more on China in Myanmar and on the international stage.”

Suu Kyi’s decision to keep China close is similar to the stance taken by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, who has fought to diminish the U.S.’ historically strong influence in his country and forge closer ties to both China and Russia. Interestingly, following the strengthening of ties between these two nations and China, Myanmar and the Philippines became the only Southeast Asian nations forced to battle against Saudi-funded Wahhabist insurgencies — ARSA in Myanmar and Daesh (ISIS) in the Philippines. Duterte has implicitly blamed the U.S. for the rise of Daesh in his country.

The rise of both Wahhabist groups has offered a convenient excuse for the U.S. to boost its military presence in both nations. In Myanmar, the U.S. State Department in late June removed Myanmar from its list of nations using child soldiers, despite having no valid reason for doing so, as Myanmar continues that odious practice.  The move — which conveniently ended the U.S.’ prohibition on providing U.S. military aid, training and U.S.-made weapons to Myanmar — was carried out over the objections of experts in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which typically shapes U.S. policy on the issue.

The U.S. is set to further expand its direct military ties with the nation by way of an amendment hidden within the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). If passed, the NDAA would allow for the full normalization of ties between the militaries of the U.S. and Myanmar, and would enable the U.S. to provide the same level of technical and logistical assistance as well as training it currently provides in the Philippines. It would also open the path for the U.S. to establish a military base, which would definitively end Chinese hopes for its own naval base in Myanmar. Meanwhile, Israel, a strong ally of the United States, has continuously been selling arms to Myanmar’s military.

Playing both sides: a high-stakes geopolitical protection racket

In the context of the Rohingya crisis, the U.S. is playing both sides of the conflict. On one hand, its close ally Saudi Arabia is funding and fomenting the insurgency responsible for the worst recent escalation of the crisis, while the U.S. corporate media paints this insurgency as “freedom fighters” and focuses public attention on the issue at a critical time. On the other hand, the U.S. is offering Myanmar deeper military cooperation to help combat the very insurgency problem it is helping to create, while also offering increased U.S. corporate investment in Myanmar’s economy.

With calls for Suu Kyi to take drastic action to address the issue growing by the day, the U.S. has the ability to force her hand, both covertly and overtly. If the crisis continues to worsen, the possibility that Suu Kyi will request U.S. military assistance to combat an outbreak of “terrorism” will grow. Such an outcome would greatly benefit the U.S., which would gain a new military foothold in another Chinese border nation and also secure Myanmar’s oil and gas riches for itself.

U.S. strategic interest in Myanmar is hardly limited to dominating the exploitation of the nation’s lucrative oil and gas resources. A large part of the U.S. motivation to wrest influence from the Chinese is crucial to its larger regional “China containment” strategy — one that seeks to create a united front of U.S. influence surrounding China in order to reassert U.S. dominance in the region.

This goal was notably expressed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, in a private speech in 2013, stated “we’re going to ring China with missile defense. We’re going to put more of our fleet in the area.” This policy has been put into practice with Obama’s 2011 “pivot to Asia” — resulting in a massive increase in U.S. arms sales to countries neighboring China, as well as the proliferation of Saudi-backed insurgents in nations that seek to foster closer ties with Beijing, namely the Philippines and Myanmar.

Watch journalist John Pilger’s documentary, “The Coming War on China,” for a thorough examination of the U.S.’ China “containment” policy:

With so much to be gained in geopolitical goal-realization from a favorable veer in the current “crisis,” the U.S. is also acutely aware of what it stands to lose if the chips fall the other way. An opening of the Shwe oil pipeline to China would remove permanently the U.S.’ capacity to impose a blockade on 80 percent of China’s oil supply. Losing this massive strategic advantage would be disastrous for the U.S. were a major geopolitical conflict between the two rival powers to develop. With the U.S. threatening to remove China from the SWIFT banking system, tensions on the Korean peninsula flaring, and China touting a oil/gold/yuan alternative to the petrodollar, such a conflict is far from a remote possibility.

Thus, the U.S. interest in Myanmar is multi-faceted — a sinister union of the U.S.’ ever-growing demand for fossil fuels and its ruthless push to reassert political dominance in Asia at China’s expense. As with other recent U.S.-led efforts to control globally strategic hydrocarbon flows, the cloak is a Saudi-funded insurgency that has sparked and continues to foment a brutal crackdown against a disadvantaged minority group. The goal is simple: to force Myanmar to choose between either the United States or China as a “strategic partner.”

Ultimately, the Rohingya are the latest pawns of the United States’ desperate attempts to cling to global dominance under the guise of “humanitarianism.” If U.S. interests are successful and oust the Chinese, the Rohingya will continue to suffer all the same. The only difference will be that their tormentors will answer to different masters.

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Featured image: A new working paper links the Flint water crisis to a “horrifyingly large” increase in fetal death rates. (Photo: Jay Weenig/flickr/cc)

Shedding new light on the human costs of the ongoing Flint water crisis—as well as underscoring the need for regulatory oversight—a new working paper links the city’s now infamous switch from the Detroit system to the Flint River as a water source with a decrease in fertility rates and a spike in fetal death rates.

The paper (pdf) from researchers from the University of Kansas and West Virginia University is the first to look at lead-poisoned water’s impact on fertility and birth outcomes. It compares birth and fetal death rates, which refers to miscarriages after 20 weeks of gestation, in Flint with those in other Michigan cities from 2008 to 2015—before and after the 2014 water switch.

Following the change in the water source, women in Flint aged 15-49 had a general fertility rate (GFR) decease of 12 percent. Fetal death rates for the group increased by 58 percent—a magnitude the researchers describe as “horrifyingly large.”

“We find no evidence of avoidance behavior,” said David Slusky, assistant professor of economics at the University of Kansas. “Either Flint residents were unable to conceive children, or women were having more miscarriages during this time.”

If water switch had not occurred, the researchers estimate that between November 2013 and March 2015 between 198 and 276 more children would have been born.

They write:

It is very possible that many residents who may have had a stillborn baby or miscarried during the water switch do not realize that exposure to lead increased their risk of these outcomes. While researchers are aware of these risks, the public may not be. Therefore, this work may inform citizens that they should sign up for this registry as they were more affected by the water switch than they may have previously realized.

Given the harm lead-tainted water can cause, the researchers say their work speaks to the need for more stringent regulatory agencies.

“In the future we would like to have a government that is more responsive and more active in ensuring that the water that comes out of people’s taps is safe,” Slusky said.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Alongside Washington and Venezuela’s elite, the Trudeau government is seeking to oust President Nicolás Maduro. While Ottawa’s campaign has recently grown, official Canada has long opposed the pro-poor, pro-working class Bolivarian Revolution, which has won 19 of 21 elections since 1998.

Following a similar move by the Trump Administration, Global Affairs Canada sanctioned 40 Venezuelans on Friday. In a move that probably violates the UN charter, the elected president, vice president and 38 other officials had their assets in Canada frozen and Canadians are barred from having financial relations with these individuals.

In recent months foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Maduro’s government. She accused Caracas of “dictatorial intentions”, imprisoning political opponents and “robbing the Venezuelan people of their fundamental democratic rights”. Since taking office the Liberals have supported efforts to condemn the Maduro government at the Organization of American States (OAS) and promoted an international mediation designed to weaken Venezuela’s leftist government (all the while staying mum about Brazil’s imposed president who has a 5% approval rating and far worse human rights violations in Mexico).

Beyond these public interventions designed to stoke internal unrest, Ottawa has directly aided an often-unsavoury Venezuelan opposition. A specialist in social media and political transition, outgoing Canadian ambassador Ben Rowswell told the Ottawa Citizen in August:

We established quite a significant internet presence inside Venezuela, so that we could then engage tens of thousands of Venezuelan citizens in a conversation on human rights. We became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.”

(Can you imagine the hue and cry if a Russian ambassador said something similar about Canada?) Rowswell added that Canada would continue to support the domestic opposition after his departure from Caracas since “Freeland has Venezuela way at the top of her priority list.”

While not forthcoming with information about the groups they support in Venezuela, Ottawa has long funnelled money to the US-backed opposition. In 2010 the foremost researcher on U.S. funding to the opposition, Eva Golinger, claimed Canadian groups were playing a growing role in Venezuela and according to a 2010 report from Spanish NGO Fride, “Canada is the third most important provider of democracy assistance” to Venezuela after the US and Spain. In “The Revolution Will Not Be Destabilized: Ottawa’s democracy promoters target Venezuela” Anthony Fenton details Canadian funding to anti-government groups. Among other examples, he cites a $94,580 grant to opposition NGO Asociación Civil Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia in 2007 and $22,000 to Súmate in 2005Súmate leader Maria Corina Machado, who Foreign Affairs invited to Ottawa in January 2005, backed the “Carmona Decree” during the 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez, which dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court and suspended the elected government, Attorney General, Comptroller General, governors as well as mayors elected during Chavez’s administration. (Machado remains a leading figure in the opposition.)

Most Latin American leaders condemned the short-lived coup against Chavez, but Canadian diplomats were silent. It was particularly hypocritical of Ottawa to accept Chavez’s ouster since a year earlier, during the Summit of the Americas in Québec City, Jean Chrétien’s Liberals made a big show of the OAS’ new “democracy clause” that was supposed to commit the hemisphere to electoral democracy.

For its part, the Harper government repeatedly criticized Chavez. In April 2009 Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to a question regarding Venezuela by saying,

I don’t take any of these rogue states lightly”.

After meeting only with opposition figures during a trip to Venezuela the next year Peter Kent, minister of state for the Americas, said:

Democratic space within Venezuela has been shrinking and in this election year, Canada is very concerned about the rights of all Venezuelans to participate in the democratic process.”

The Bolivarian Revolution has faced a decade and a half of Liberal and Conservative hostility. While the NDP has sometimes challenged the government’s Venezuelan policy, the party’s current foreign critic has echoed Washington’s position. On at least two occasions Hélène Laverdière has demanded Ottawa do more to undermine the Maduro government. In a June 2016 press release Laverdière bemoaned “the erosion of democracy” and the need for Ottawa to “defend democracy in Venezuela” while in August the former Foreign Affairs employee told CBC

we would like to see the (Canadian) government be more active in … calling for the release of political prisoners, the holding of elections and respecting the National Assembly.”

Conversely, Laverdière stayed mum when Donald Trump threatened to invade Venezuela last month and she has yet to criticize the recently announced Canadian sanctions.

NDP members should be appalled at their foreign critic’s position. For Canadians more generally it’s time to challenge our government’s bid to undermine what has been an essentially democratic effort to empower Venezuela’s poor and working class.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitationRead other articles by Yves.

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This article was first published in December 2011. Does the DPRK constitute a security threat to the USA?

The American people should, in the words of Vietnam War Veteran Brian Willson  “place themselves in the position of people living in targeted countries. That North Korea, a nation of 24 million people, i.e., one-twentieth the population of the U.S., many of them poor, a land slightly larger in area than the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, continues to be one of the most demonized nations and least understood, totally perplexes the Korean people.”

What most people in America do not know –and which is particularly relevant when assessing the “threats” of the DPRK to World peace– is that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of  US led bombings in the 1950s. US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s population was killed off over a three period of intensive bombings:

After destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, [General] LeMay remarked, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.” It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.” (quoted in Richard Rhodes, “The General and World War III,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, p. 53.)

In comparison, during the Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89% and the US lost 0.32%. During the Korean war, North Korea lost 30 % of its population, which means that every single family in North korea lost a loved one in the course of the Korean War.

These figures of civilian deaths in North Korea should also be compared to those compiled for Iraq by the Lancet Study (John Hopkins School of Public Health). The Lancet study estimated a total of 655,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, following the US led invasion (March 2003- June 2006).

The US never apologized for having killed 30 percent of North Korea’s population. Quite the opposite. The main thrust of US foreign policy has been to demonize the victims of US led wars.

For more than half a century, Washington has contributed to the political isolation and impoverishment of North Korea. Moreover, US sponsored sanctions on Pyongyang have contributed to destabilizing the country’s economy.

North Korea has been protrayed as part of an “axis of evil”. For what?

The unspoken victim of US military aggression, the DPRK is portrayed as a failed war-mongering “Rogue State”, a “State sponsor of terrorism” and a “threat to World peace”. These stylized accusations become part of a consensus, which we dare not question. The Lie becomes the Truth. North Korea is heralded as a threat. America is not the aggressor but “the victim”.

Washington’s intent from the very outset was to destroy North Korea and demonize an entire population. The US has also stood in the way of the reunification of North and South Korea.

People across America can put politics aside and relate to the suffering and hardships of the people of North Korea. War Veteran Brian Willson provides a moving assessment of the plight of the North Korean people:

“Everyone I talked with, dozens and dozens of folks, lost one if not many more family members during the war, especially from the continuous bombing, much of it incendiary and napalm, deliberately dropped on virtually every space in the country. “Every means of communication, every installation, factory, city, and village” was ordered bombed by General MacArthur in the fall of 1950. It never stopped until the day of the armistice on July 27, 1953. The pained memories of people are still obvious, and their anger at “America” is often expressed, though they were very welcoming and gracious to me. Ten million Korean families remain permanently separated from each other due to the military patrolled and fenced dividing line spanning 150 miles across the entire Peninsula.

Let us make it very clear here for western readers. North Korea was virtually totally destroyed during the “Korean War.” U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s architect for the criminal air campaign was Strategic Air Command head General Curtis LeMay who had proudly conducted the earlier March 10 – August 15, 1945 continuous incendiary bombings of Japan that had destroyed 63 major cities and murdered a million citizens. (The deadly Atomic bombings actually killed far fewer people.).Eight years later, after destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, LeMay remarked, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.” It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.

Virtually every person wanted to know what I thought of Bush’s recent accusation of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil.” I shared with them my own outrage and fears, and they seemed relieved to know that not all “Americans” are so cruel and bellicose. As with people in so many other nations with whom the U.S. has treated with hostility, they simply cannot understand why the U.S. is so obsessed with them.”(Brian Willson, Korea and the Axis of Evil, Global Research, October 12, 2006 emphasis added)

Regime Change: What Lies ahead for North Korea?

While US-NATO led wars waged in the wake of what is euphemistically called the post War era, have resulted in millions of civilians deaths, America is upheld as the guardian of democracy and World Peace.

In a bitter irony, Washington’s “peace-making role” in relation to North Korea was casually reconfirmed in a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the death of the DPKR’s leader Kim Jong Il.  Clinton “urged North Korea’s new leadership to embrace “the path of peace”: “We are deeply concerned with the well-being of the North Korean people and our thoughts and prayers are with them during these difficult times.”

The State Department spokesperson clarified that Clinton’s words did not constitute as an expression of “condolence” but rather were meant as “a signal of our expectations and hopes for the new regime.” pointing to a scenario of  US sponsored “democratization” and “regime change” under the banner of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

In the words of Hillary Clinton, Washington’s mandate is the “well-being of the North Korean people”, of which, lest we forget, 30 percent were killed in the 1950s during a 37 month-long “humanitarian bombing campaign”…

 

This article was first published in December 2011. Does the DPRK constitute a security threat to the USA?

The American people should, in the words of Vietnam War Veteran Brian Willson  “place themselves in the position of people living in targeted countries. That North Korea, a nation of 24 million people, i.e., one-twentieth the population of the U.S., many of them poor, a land slightly larger in area than the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, continues to be one of the most demonized nations and least understood, totally perplexes the Korean people.”

What most people in America do not know –and which is particularly relevant when assessing the “threats” of the DPRK to World peace– is that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of  US led bombings in the 1950s. US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s population was killed off over a three period of intensive bombings:

After destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, [General] LeMay remarked, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.” It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.” (quoted in Richard Rhodes, “The General and World War III,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, p. 53.)

In comparison, during the Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89% and the US lost 0.32%. During the Korean war, North Korea lost 30 % of its population, which means that every single family in North korea lost a loved one in the course of the Korean War.

These figures of civilian deaths in North Korea should also be compared to those compiled for Iraq by the Lancet Study (John Hopkins School of Public Health). The Lancet study estimated a total of 655,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, following the US led invasion (March 2003- June 2006).

The US never apologized for having killed 30 percent of North Korea’s population. Quite the opposite. The main thrust of US foreign policy has been to demonize the victims of US led wars.

For more than half a century, Washington has contributed to the political isolation and impoverishment of North Korea. Moreover, US sponsored sanctions on Pyongyang have contributed to destabilizing the country’s economy.

North Korea has been protrayed as part of an “axis of evil”. For what?

The unspoken victim of US military aggression, the DPRK is portrayed as a failed war-mongering “Rogue State”, a “State sponsor of terrorism” and a “threat to World peace”. These stylized accusations become part of a consensus, which we dare not question. The Lie becomes the Truth. North Korea is heralded as a threat. America is not the aggressor but “the victim”.

Washington’s intent from the very outset was to destroy North Korea and demonize an entire population. The US has also stood in the way of the reunification of North and South Korea.

People across America can put politics aside and relate to the suffering and hardships of the people of North Korea. War Veteran Brian Willson provides a moving assessment of the plight of the North Korean people:

“Everyone I talked with, dozens and dozens of folks, lost one if not many more family members during the war, especially from the continuous bombing, much of it incendiary and napalm, deliberately dropped on virtually every space in the country. “Every means of communication, every installation, factory, city, and village” was ordered bombed by General MacArthur in the fall of 1950. It never stopped until the day of the armistice on July 27, 1953. The pained memories of people are still obvious, and their anger at “America” is often expressed, though they were very welcoming and gracious to me. Ten million Korean families remain permanently separated from each other due to the military patrolled and fenced dividing line spanning 150 miles across the entire Peninsula.

Let us make it very clear here for western readers. North Korea was virtually totally destroyed during the “Korean War.” U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s architect for the criminal air campaign was Strategic Air Command head General Curtis LeMay who had proudly conducted the earlier March 10 – August 15, 1945 continuous incendiary bombings of Japan that had destroyed 63 major cities and murdered a million citizens. (The deadly Atomic bombings actually killed far fewer people.).Eight years later, after destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, LeMay remarked, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.” It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.

Virtually every person wanted to know what I thought of Bush’s recent accusation of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil.” I shared with them my own outrage and fears, and they seemed relieved to know that not all “Americans” are so cruel and bellicose. As with people in so many other nations with whom the U.S. has treated with hostility, they simply cannot understand why the U.S. is so obsessed with them.”(Brian Willson, Korea and the Axis of Evil, Global Research, October 12, 2006 emphasis added)

Regime Change: What Lies ahead for North Korea?

While US-NATO led wars waged in the wake of what is euphemistically called the post War era, have resulted in millions of civilians deaths, America is upheld as the guardian of democracy and World Peace.

In a bitter irony, Washington’s “peace-making role” in relation to North Korea was casually reconfirmed in a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the death of the DPKR’s leader Kim Jong Il.  Clinton “urged North Korea’s new leadership to embrace “the path of peace”: “We are deeply concerned with the well-being of the North Korean people and our thoughts and prayers are with them during these difficult times.”

The State Department spokesperson clarified that Clinton’s words did not constitute as an expression of “condolence” but rather were meant as “a signal of our expectations and hopes for the new regime.” pointing to a scenario of  US sponsored “democratization” and “regime change” under the banner of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

In the words of Hillary Clinton, Washington’s mandate is the “well-being of the North Korean people”, of which, lest we forget, 30 percent were killed in the 1950s during a 37 month-long “humanitarian bombing campaign”…

 

To the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources  (DNR), regarding PolyMet’s most recent permitting request:

(Email address: [email protected]):

Here are my reasons that the DNR should reject PolyMet’s permit applications for their earthen tailings dam, their liquid slurry pipeline pumping operation and their open pit sulfide mine near the headwaters of the St Louis River:

For starters, it is critically important to understand that the foreign Penny Stock company called PolyMet has a current share price of $0.63 per share, down from $1.50 per share in 2014. PolyMet, a total amateur in the business, has never operated a single mine in its short corporate life nor has it earned a single penny from mining. Their only income comes from selling shares to speculators and borrowing money from investors to pay their executives and employees. In addition, PolyMet, being an inanimate money-making corporation (that by definition has no conscience), cannot be trusted to tell the public about all the risks to the environment (including wildlife, fish, water, soil and air) that their exploitation of the earth could generate.

Therefore PolyMet can be expected to hide the fact that their operations could easily cause a massive environmental catastrophe similar to what happened at Mount Polley, British Columbia in 2014 (carefully study the article further below for the frightening details). Mount Polley was a state of the art copper mining operation.

Every citizen stakeholder that is potentially adversely affected by PolyMet’s operation deserves to be fully informed by (theoretically) unbiased regulators such as the MN DNR about the potentially catastrophic risk to the water users who happen to live downstream from the massive tailings lagoon, whose (eventual) 250 foot high earthen dam is at a high risk of failing in some way or other sometime in the future, especially in the event of a large deluge of rain, an earthquake or a design flaw that could cause the earthen dam to dissolve, leak, over-top or structurally fail in some other way, including being damaged by sabotage. The risks will exist for eternity, since the toxic metals (see list below) in the lagoon will never degrade into non-toxic forms.

In addition, the vulnerable pipeline that will carry the toxic sludge from the processing plant to the slurry pond is at high risk of sabotage, with serious environmental contamination that could possibly be even worse than the bursting of a dirty frack oil pipeline such as could happen from the foreign pipeline company Enbridge as it transports dirty oil from the tar sands in Canada or from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. I don’t believe that PolyMet has dealt with the possibility of sabotage.

Up to this point, both PolyMet and Twin Metals (and all of the governmental agencies that have been involved in the approval process) have been seriously neglectful in educating the public about all the potential lethal dangers of either the pipeline or the massive amount of toxic liquids that will forever cause the deaths of any water bird that lands on the lake-like lagoon (a la Butte, Montana’s ever-lastingly poisonous mining tailings “pond” and the nearby defunct Berkeley open pit mine [now a toxic “lake”] that has had its water pumps shut down and is now nearly filled to the brim with poisonous water that has high levels of dissolved toxic metals and a pH approximating that of stomach acid!).

It seems to me that the MN DNR would be exceedingly naïve if it trusts PolyMet’s promises to treat the water from the tailings pond by some pie-in-the-sky reverse osmosis or other de-watering plan that has not yet been tried on a commercial level. Those promises are theoretical and should not be trusted.

To more fully understand the importance of the Butte, Montana disaster, I attach below an aerial view photo of Butte’s serious SuperFund site that will be impossible for the EPA to remediate. Every attempt to de-acidify or alkalinize the tailings lagoon has failed miserably. And now, the future of the city of Butte, which was once happily promised jobs, jobs, jobs by the copper bosses, is extremely bleak. Butte, whose rivers and streams experience regular fish kills due to the copper mine-caused water contamination, is becoming de-populated. Could the same thing happen to downstream communities in northern Minnesota?

(See my article about the Butte environmental catastrophe.)

The DNR, the EPA, and the Forest Service are surely ethically – and also legally, I hope – obligated to adequately educate and fully inform every citizen that relies on the drinking water that is in the nearby aquifers about all of the dangers of extracting (and grinding up into a fine powder) low-grade copper sulfide or nickel sulfide ore (99+% of which is hazardous waste material), whether the risks are catastrophic or minor.

One cannot expect the full disclosure of all risks by any corporation, whether it is a major trans-national mining corporation like Glencore or Antofagasta or a rookie Penny Stock company like PolyMet or Twin Metals. Their share-holders and corporate executives would not stand for totally full disclosure, because such information could adversely affect their investments or the company’s prestige.

Regulatory agencies like the DNR are ethically obligated to inform those of us whose precious and increasingly threatened water is at high risk of being contaminated, especially if the culprits are foreign corporations that have investors who don’t live here. The St Louis River – and thus Lake Superior – is definitely at risk of contamination if the dam fails or the pipeline breaks or is sabotaged. Any such failure – whether gradual or sudden – will impact millions of people, animals and plants downstream.

In the worst case scenario (the Mount Polley scenario), the St Louis River watershed (and therefore Lake Superior) will be poisoned to such a degree that it will never be remediable or usable for fishing, hunting, farming, wild rice harvesting, canoeing, swimming and drinking by those who will never benefit from a copper mine. Even a trillion dollar escrow account posted by PolyMet would be woefully inadequate to meet the costs of an environmental catastrophe like Mount Polley.

The chances of the failure of an earthen tailings dam with walls that are 250 feet high and resulting in an environmental disaster in northern Minnesota will significantly increase every time the dam needs to be raised. The raising of an earthen dam by large bulldozers adding potentially dissolvable additional earth (of what consistency?) is of itself a risky effort, since each level will necessarily have to be narrower and narrower and therefore increasingly more likely to leak, liquefy and/or burst.

Why we Should Fear the Creatures from the Black PolyMet Lagoon

The public needs to understand that the liquid slurry that is piped into the lagoon by a pipeline system of uncertain length or safety will surely contain toxic levels of some of the following common sulfide-mining toxic by-products (that are only safe if the remain buried in the ground as sulfide ore: Lead, Arsenic, Nickel, Zinc, Cadmium, Vanadium, Antimony, Manganese and Mercury. This list of hazardous waste minerals were the ones that were present in large quantities in the contaminated sludge that destroyed Mount Polley’s Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake and contaminated the Fraser River.

Duluth residents, representing the largest concentrated population that could be adversely affected by a copper/nickel mine disaster upstream, need to be fully informed that, in the event of a leak or full-fledged collapse of the dam, the fishable, swimmable St Louis River and eventually Duluth’s drinking water from Lake Superior will be contaminated, perhaps mortally and irretrievably.

Earthen dams are notorious for dissolving and collapsing, especially in the presence of certain weather circumstances that are out of the control of any mine operator. One only has to consider the frequent flash floods that result from a sudden deluge of rain similar to the one Duluth experienced a few years ago – and which are increasingly common all over our warming, climate-unstable planet.

To back up this testimony, I offer the following videos – plus an eye-opening article about the Mount Polley environmental disaster of 2014, which should make the DNR decision-makers reject PolyMet’s permits. Mount Polley is considered the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of Canada. And it was man-made (actually corporate-made).

Thank you for your attention. Gary G. Kohls, MD, Duluth, MN


PS: I ask the MN DNR committee that is evaluating the PolyMet’s permit applications to please watch the following videos:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33lhPsd7L1c

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmJY5D4fNM8

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfanpPz8HeA

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAItFxc8bME&feature=youtu.be

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg3yd8GPSnA

Then study the following article:

The PolyMet and Twin Metals Copper Mining Projects and the Lethal Risks to the St Louis River Watershed, Lake Superior and the BWCA

Acceptable Risks for Foreign Investors, but What About the Potential Victims Downstream?

Gary G. Kohls, MD – 1-31-17

“ALL tailings “ponds” are problems. If they don’t breach and spill massive amounts of toxic sludge into the environment like at Mount Polley, they leach that contamination slowly, poisoning the waters and lands around them.”  – Source

In 2016, the Duluth News-Tribune published a Local News article with the title “EPA signals its support for final PolyMet review”.

The article ended with what I regard as an intentionally deceptive and woefully insufficient sentence: “Critics say the project is likely to taint downstream waters with acidic runoff.”

In a column for the Duluth Reader, which I wrote in response, I attempted to correct the notion that “acidic runoff” is the major reason for the widespread opposition to PolyMet’s proposed copper/nickel mining project (and the Twin Metals Project, which is adjacent to the pristine In a column for the Duluth Reader, which I wrote in response, I attempted to correct the notion that simple “acidic runoff” is the major reason for the widespread opposition to PolyMet’s proposed copper/nickel mining project (in addition to the Twin Metals Project, which is adjacent to the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). Both PolyMet and Twin Metals, it should be mentioned, are Penny Stock companies from Canada and are total novices when it comes to operating copper/nickel sulfuric acid-producing mines. The companies have never earned a penny producing a product. All their operating budgets have come from loans, speculators, major transnational mining corporations and other investors that are hoping that the regulatory agencies will succumb to corporate and public pressure,so that the mines will be built and they can cash in on their investments.

Typical of many media outlets that depend on advertising revenues from Big Business, the Duluth News-Tribune failed to report on a recent catastrophic “tainting of downstream waters” that had happened a couple of years earlier in Canada.

The Mount Polley Copper Mining Disaster of 2014

On August 4th, 2014 the earthen dam holding back the massive mine tailings lagoon at the Imperial Metals Mount Polley (British Columbia) gold and copper mine burst. The dam breach suddenly unleashed around 25 million cubic meters of toxic sludge containing heavy metals, processing chemicals and other hazardous waste material that could have filled 9,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The toxic sludge flowed into Polley Lake, then into the tiny Hazeltine Creek and then into the previously pristine Quesnel Lake and the Quesnel River, a tributary of the 800 mile-long Fraser River, a migratory Sockeye salmon-bearing river that empties into the Georgia Strait and the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, B.C.

Typical of most government and industry responses to such catastrophic mining industry failures, Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party government of Canada – not to mention the ruling Liberal Party government of British Columbia – tried to cover up the disaster. Therefore most North Americans on either side of the border (certainly us Minnesotans) were unaware of the event, thanks in part to our co-opted corporate-controlled media that failed to adequately report on the disaster.

Immediately below are links to dramatic photos and videos that have been available to the US government and media agencies, but which were not reported on the evening news of either local or regional media outlets.

Imperial Metals Corporation of Vancouver, the owner of the mine, acknowledged that they, as do all sulfide mining operations, had been regularly piping massive amounts of toxic metals into the slurry (aka “slime”) pond in the years leading up to the failure of the earthen dam. See the photos below. Click to enlarge.

A series of high-altitude photos of the progressively filling tailings lagoon from 2009 to just before it breached August 4, 2014

The following list of hazardous waste minerals that had been dumped into the “tailings” pond is taken from Environment Canada’s website. Environment Canada reported that the poisonous metallic contaminants that had been dumped in the tailings pond included: Lead, Arsenic, Nickel, Zinc, Cadmium, Vanadium, Antimony, Manganese and Mercury.

Each of these 9 heavy metal contaminants are highly toxic to all life forms and have no safe levels in drinking water or in the serum or tissues of humans or other animals. These contaminants, commonly found in hard rock sulfide mines, are also lethal to plant life, but only when the rock has been ground up into fine powder that is necessary in the copper extraction process.

It is important to understand that polluted aquifers can never be de-toxified by any known process.

Below is a selection of links to some of the many videos of the Mount Polley tailings pond dam failure:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33lhPsd7L1c

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfMolg5Ul_0

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfanpPz8HeA

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAItFxc8bME&feature=youtu.be

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg3yd8GPSnA

And here is an important video of an experimental tailings dam breach that can happen to any earthen dam:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWEWVw7TGk4

The birds-eye view of the mouth of the tiny (normally about 6 feet wide) Hazeltine Creek (now 120-150 feet wide) as it enters into Quesnel Lake, the previously deepest, purest lake in British Columbia and a famous trout and salmon fishery; that is, until August 4, 2014, when 24,000,000 cubic meters of toxic water and sludge breached the Mt Polley mine’s tailings dam and exploded downstream. The tan material in the photo above represents millions of floating dead trees that were swept away in the massive sludge flood.

Also available above are satellite photos of Imperial Metals’ Mt Polley copper/gold mining facility before and after it suddenly dissolved and broke in 2014. Note the change in color of the tailings pond, the nearby lakes and the widening of the Hazeltine Creek that directed the toxic sludge into Quesnel Lake. The creek had been invisible to satellite photos until the flood.

A Final Thought

Northern Minnesotans, Native American Water Protectors (like the heroes at Standing Rock), sportsmen, environmentalists, downstream businesses, wild rice harvesters, fish, game, birds and just plain working folks whose babies and other vulnerable beings with developing brains need non-toxic water to thrive or simply survive must understand that such relatively common catastrophes could destroy the aquifers in the BWCAW, Birch Lake, the Partridge River, the Embarrass River, the St. Louis River, the city of Duluth and ultimately, Lake Superior.

In the considered opinion of many ethical thinkers, any human with an ounce of morality would conclude that the risks of allowing amateur mining companies such as PolyMet and Twin Metals – and other similarly amoral, non-human corporations like Switzerland’s GlencoreXstrata or Chile’s Antofagasta are too great. (Glencore and Antofagasta are the two major multinational mining corporations that control PolyMet and Twin Metals.) The plans to open and operate sulfuric acid-producing copper mines in pristine watersheds that are just upstream and upwind from children and other living things should be shelved for the good of the planet. But somehow, the legislators who are often in bed with their corporate paymasters are quite willing to ignore the risks in favor of a few temporary jobs. The risks seem to be OK for conscienceless corporations and their investors, but they don’t live here.

States that surround the potentially poisoned wilderness areas as well as Lake Superior and the other downstream great lakes should have a say in the issue. Bullying corporations, along with their co-opted friends in positions of power in state and national capitals are quite willing to risk permanent catastrophes such as Mt Polley.

They, being the sociopathic entities that they are, can’t be expected to act as ethical humans, especially when billions of dollars are involved.

Experimenting with copper mining in water-rich northern Minnesota should not be done. The risks are too high. It must be stopped.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA. He writes a weekly column for the Duluth Reader, the area’s alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, malnutrition, Big Pharma’s psychiatric drugging and over-vaccination regimens, and other movements that threaten the environment, prosperity, democracy, civility and the health and longevity of the populace. Many of his columns are archived at

http://duluthreader.com/search?search_term=Duty+to+Warn&p=2;

https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=017930374292714292268%3Avw5cotp1r2c&q=gary+kohls+articles&sa=Search&siteurl=consortiumnews.com%2Farchives%2F&ref=consortiumnews.com%2Fabout%2F&ss=3193j1359707j10#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=gary%20kohls%20articles&gsc.page=1 or at

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

All images in this article are from the author.

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Trump at War with Dissent

September 25th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Trump continues finding ways to disgrace himself, the latest episode Friday evening, criticizing legitimate dissent.

It’s the highest form of patriotism, the comment attributed to Thomas Jefferson, whether or not he actually said it.

In 1961, The Use of Force in International Affairs publication used the phrase, asking

“(i)f what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, is dissent the highest form of patriotism?”

During the height of the Vietnam war in 1969, New York Mayor John Lindsey said

“(w)e cannot rest content with the charge from Washington that…peaceful protest(s) (are) unpatriotic…The fact is that this dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

The late Howard Zinn and other distinguished figures said the same thing in similar or identical language.

During a Friday campaign rally in Alabama, Trump disgraced himself by irresponsibly blasting NFL players – kneeling, not standing, during the national anthem, their legitimate right of dissent, and why not. There’s plenty to dissent about America’s rogue state policies at home and abroad.

Black players protesting police brutality deserve respect for doing the right thing. Not according to Trump, bellowing

“(w)ouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ”

“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner (will) be the most popular person in the country.”

During America’s 1899 – 1902 war on the Philippines, Mark Twain blasted another venerable US symbol.

Saying “I am an anti-imperialist,” he added “I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land,” harshly criticizing ruthless US mass slaughter and destruction.

Twain is an iconic figure in US history. Imagine what he’d say today about America smashing one country after another. He’d be a vocal Trump critic.

Image result for Colin Kaepernick

Unsigned NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began what’s perhaps becoming a trend – during the national anthem, keeling, not standing, honorably protesting against cops killing unarmed Black men and youths, getting away with cold-blooded murder, Kaepernick so far punished by NFL owners for his righteous stand against injustice.

In response to Trump’s hostile remarks, Minnesota Vikings player Bishop Sankey tweeted:

“It’s a shame and disgrace when you have the president of the US calling citizens of the country sons of a bitches.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement saying:

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.”

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

NFL players association executive director DeMaurice Smith separately said

“(t)he peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses.”

“Those opinions are protected speech and freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history. This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussion in our locker rooms and in board rooms.”

“However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.’ “

New York Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said the following:

“Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society.”

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said

“(o)ur country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness. We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites.”

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York sharply criticized Trump saying:

“The callous and offensive comments made by the president are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice.”

Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said

“(i)t’s unfortunate that the president decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL.”

Teresa Kaepernick, Colin’s mother, responded to Trump calling protesting NFL players “sons of bitches,” tweeting:

“Guess that makes me a proud bitch.”

Will other NFL owners individually or together by joint statement responsibly denounce Trump’s hostile remarks?

He disgraced himself. His reckless agenda speaks for itself.

A Final Comment

Trump extended his war on dissent to the NBA, disinviting Golden State Warrior’s star Stephen Curry to the White House – because of his public criticism of the president.

NBA star LeBron James responded calling Trump “U bum.” A spokesman for the University of North Carolina national championship team said a White House visit was cancelled, citing a scheduling conflict, likely polite criticism of the president.

The key issue isn’t Trump. It’s America’s deplorable state. He’s a front man for rogue state ruthlessness, threatening humanity’s survival – what warrants universal criticism and activism against.

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

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

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

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

Featured image is from AJC.com.

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Deportations and Harassment of Irish Group Traveling to West Bank

September 25th, 2017 by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

Departure

I joined the group in Dublin airport on the morning of September 8th and we flew out to Istanbul where we waited in a transit area cafe for a couple of hours. As it turned out our flight departure lounge for Tel Aviv was next to the cafe where we were sitting and we noticed that an extra layer of security was being prepared by ground staff for the Tel Aviv flight. After boarding, and a smooth Turkish Airlines flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, we disembarked and queued up for passport control. I was on my own and after 2 or 3 questions (what was the purpose of my trip, had I been to Israel before, etc). I was given a one month visa and waved through.

Meanwhile, however, trouble was brewing as I could hear the two Irish girls at the kiosk next to me being asked to bring the group leader over. I went directly through to the arrivals hall as I had not checked in any bags. Then began a long wait as myself and the few who got through unhindered discovered that security had rounded up as many of the group as they could find including those who had decided to wait in the luggage hall rather than in the arrivals hall. In all 21 were detained and 6 questioned, and of those 4 were deported (Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass, Joan Nolan and Stephen McCloskey) a few hours later. The four who were detained were informed that they were being deported to prevent ‘illegal immigration’ even though they had valid passports and return tickets. Around 4am the others were released and we finally boarded the bus and made the journey to our hotel in Bethlehem.

West Bank wall and turnstiles

Fact Finding Program

Our tour, though coordinated in Dublin, was organised by the Siraj Centre, a non-profit organization licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and based in Palestine. Our Fact Finding Program included meetings with prominent peace activists, political officials, human rights organizations, settlers and Jewish tour guides. This makes the deportation of our group leader, Elaine Daly, even stranger as she has been organising trips with the Siraj Centre every year from Ireland since 2006.

Sat 9th Sept: Day 1 Bethlehem

On our first morning we attended a talk by Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a local university professor and activist, at the Natural History institute who emphasised the strong link between biodiversity, political struggle for the land and its safeguarding for future generations. It was interesting to note that it had been his son who had first drawn the infamous ‘shrinking’ map of the Palestinian territories showing their loss of land from 1946, 1947, 1967 to the 2000s.

Entrance to Aida refugee camp

CS gas

Afterwards we headed over to the Lajee Center, a cultural centre beside the main Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem for a talk and a traditional dance display from the local children. Soon however they switched off the air-conditioning and when we asked why we were told that tear gas was coming through the system. Directly outside the window local youth were throwing stones at the Israeli army at the far end of the road. Soon more and more tear gas came into the building and the windows and doors were shut. For most on the tour it was their first experience of the burning effects of CS gas yet for the members of the Lajee Center it had become merely a nuisance. After about a half hour we were able to leave and go for a short tour of the area. We passed under the arch of Aida camp with a giant key symbolising the principle that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants have a right to return. On our left were simple concrete buildings while on the right the street is cut off from Jerusalem by the Israeli West Bank wall and covered in murals and graffiti.

Wall mural, Aida refugee camp

Sun 10th Sept: Day 2 Hebron

The next day on the way to Hebron we stopped off at a small park beside a main road containing the tomb of Baruch Goldstein, the religious extremist who carried out the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron. Goldstein killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers and wounded another 125. He was then overpowered and beaten to death by the survivors. Goldstein was not allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery but his current burial site still attracts Jewish extremists. We drove on to the Cave of Patriarchs or Ibrahimi Mosque where the Goldstein massacre took place. There are now two separate entrances, one for Muslims and one for Jews, both of which we were able to enter. This building is over 2,000 years old is believed to be the oldest continuously used prayer structure in the world. However, it was outside the Mosque at the military checkpoints we witnessed Israeli apartheid for the first time. Palestinians are barred from the using the street and our guide was apprehended by two soldiers. Our group complained to the soldiers but only our guide responded saying he would get a taxi and meet us elsewhere. In the end, the group spontaneously applauded our guide for his patience and perseverance as he was removed from the area. Our waiting bus had only been 50 metres around the corner…

Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

We walked through streets of Hebron going through different stages of clearance. In some places only a few Palestinians were left in the old stone buildings and Israeli street signs had been erected pointing to Jewish places of interest. In other streets nets had been used to stop settlers throwing objects on the shoppers below. Afterwards we were brought to meet with a settler where some asked questions about the settlements and their legality but this ended up with some storming out and others realising how it easy it was to become an Israeli citizen and participate in the land confiscations.

Mon 11th Sept: Day 3 Jerusalem

Our guides were Palestinian and Jewish and both were equally as good when it came to explanations and answering questions from our group. As we drove through East Jerusalem it was pointed out by our Jewish guide that Palestinians pay taxes yet their areas had bad roads and poor rubbish collection services.

Tues 12th Sept: Day 4 Nablus

In Nablus we visited Jacobs Well Church, and then to Balata Camp to meet with a representative from the Yafa cultural Center. The centre was set up in 1996 by the Committee for the Defence of Refugee Rights and offers a range of educational and creative programs to camp residents. We were brought around the closely-built neighbourhoods of the camp where some ‘streets’ were less than one metre wide. After lunch we had a tour in the old city of Nablus and visited the Samaritans Museum. The bustling old city gave us a feel for what many areas should have looked like and felt like without occupation.

Yafa cultural Center, Nablus

Wed 13th Sept: Day 5 Ramalah

We began the day driving to Ramalah to meet with a speaker from Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS). BDS has become an extensive movement against Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism. It is also a Palestinian-led movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. We also met with a representative from Al Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation also based in Ramallah. According to their website: ‘Al-Haq documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable.’ In the afternoon the group were brought on a sightseeing tour of Jerusalem which I did not participate in due to feeling unwell. Instead, I went with our Palestinian tour guide back to Bethlehem on the public bus instead. As the bus approached the wall we all had get off and pass through the many turnstiles and barricaded-off pathways to get to the other side of the wall. The queues moved quickly enough as the military generally do not carry out checks on Palestinians going home to the West Bank from Jerusalem in the evening. It is in the early morning that the long queues form as workers are stopped and permits scrutinised on the way to work in Jerusalem.

Old City, Nablus

Thurs 14th Sept: Day 5 Bethlehem

The next day I went back to Jerusalem from Bethlehem on public bus No. 231. At a major checkpoint a male and female soldier got on the bus while about a third of the bus got off to have their permits checked outside. They questioned a Palestinian woman with children for about ten minutes on the bus before suddenly leaving the bus again and letting the others back on. These checks, the roadworks and traffic jams into Jerusalem added up to about 30 minutes onto our journey, a journey which should have taken only around 20 minutes. In the centre I crossed the road and entered into the Old City through Herod’s Gate. I headed through the old city markets to the Al-Aqsa Mosque but at various Israeli military check points I was stopped and informed that the Mosque was only open in the mornings. There were 4 or 5 groups of about 20 Israeli soldiers each walking and singing down the narrow streets towards the Western Wall. The area was being prepared for a swearing-in ceremony for Paratrooper recruits taking place that evening. After walking the Via Dolorosa and around to the Damascus Gate I got the bus back to Bethlehem. Later, after dinner with the group in a Palestinian restaurant in Bethlehem, a few of us took a taxi to visit the Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel about ten minutes drive away. The ‘Walled Off’ sits beside the massive wall which is covered in graffiti executed in many styles by various artists. Boasting the ‘worst view in the world’ the lobby contains a collection of art and there is a museum upstairs. People sat outside on the veranda between the hotel and the wall having a quiet drink in this most incongruous of places.

Mural near ‘Walled Off’ hotel

Fri 15th Sept: The Dead Sea

For our last day the group decided to visit the Dead Sea. After arriving at the resort, getting to the water’s edge meant walking down layer after layer of beaches as the Dead Sea evaporates. The recession of the water’s edge is believed to be about 1 m (3 ft) a year. The speed and breadth of the recession of the Dead Sea was a fitting symbol for the recession of the West Bank itself as more and more settlements and walls reduce further the size of the Palestinian territories.

Early the next morning we were back on the bus to Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport where there was some anxiety as the security checks were known to be more stringent in the departures area than in arrivals area. (Why? a form of damage limitation?) Once again our group was held up to the last minute for our flight to Istanbul. We had a much more pleasant time in Dublin airport where a welcoming committee was waiting for us with a Palestinian flag. Elaine and the other deportees had decided to hold off publicising the deportations so as not to create any unnecessary difficulties for the rest of the group’s departure from Tel Aviv. Of course, our problems were nothing compared to the daily experiences and hardships of the Palestinian people being forced through turnstiles, having to obtain multivaried permits, losing land and dwellings, enduring constant military checks and an oppressive political/legal system (like the 17C Penal Laws in Ireland) all because of a particular nationality or religion. The trip left an indelible impression on us as individuals and as a group which would not be easily removed by the self-serving rhetoric of an all-powerful occupying force.

Since our return the issue of the deportations has been raised in various articles in the national newspapers. It has also been brought up during question time in the Dáil (the Irish parliament). Despite not being able to return to the West Bank again, Elaine is already planning to organise two trips to the West Bank from Dublin for 2018. All aboard!

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

All images in this article are from the author.

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NATO’s “Fake News” Russia Scare Increases Defense Waste

September 25th, 2017 by Moon of Alabama

The military of the Russian Federation is organized in four districts – west, central, east and south. Each year one of the districts will stage a division size maneuver. 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers leave their quarters to move against imaginary adversaries. Their training is complemented by various military and civilian staffs exercises. The active part of the medium-size maneuver takes about a week and includes some live firing.

This year, like in 2009 and 2013, the turn was on the western military district to run its quadrennial exercise. It included, as is usual in the western district, units from and within Russia’s ally Belarus. The name of this regular training event is simply “West”, Zapad in Russian. Zapad-2017 was publicly announced and foreign military observers were invited to watch it.

NATO and its associated media used the occasion to launch a gigantic fear- and warmongering campaign against the Russian Federation. Over months hundreds of news pieces were weaved around dark murmurs from various NATO officials and “experts”. Examples:

The Zapad 2017 maneuvers ended yesterday. They were exactly what Russia and Belarus had announced – a regular, medium-size training event with no special intent or effect.

NATO and its various spokesperson had done what they like to accuse Russia of. They created fakenews about the maneuver based on nothing but hot air:

Zapad-2017 concluded earlier this week, by which time it had seriously fizzled out, in Western media terms at least.

And the Russians are enjoying a rare last laugh. They point out, with some justification, that their numbers were accurate, there was no dissembling, international borders were respected. All the Russian troops introduced into neighbouring Belarus for the exercise are going home, too. After all the Western accusations that Russia has been waging an information war with the help of “fake news”, who is disseminating “fake news” now, they ask. Is this not further evidence that Western opinion formers are stuck in the rut of Cold War stereotypes? They have a point.

The Western “opinion formers” have, of course, reason to hype everything their selected boogeyman does. That reason is greed. This year nearly all NATO countries increased their military budgets. The U.S. Senate passed a record $700 billion trough for the Pentagon with 89 to 8 votes. The more than 10% budget increase was even higher that what President Trump had requested. It broke all earlier commitments:

The $700 billion is $91 billion beyond the spending caps outlined in the 2011 Budget Control Act, which demanded a “sequestration” of military spending in order to rein in federal costs.

There was no public outrage over this increase. Meanwhile Russia cut its 2018 defense budget by 25.5% down to a total of some $48 billion.

There is obviously little fear in Russia that the U.S. budget increase will effect U.S. military capabilities. The Russians are right. Most of the Pentagon budget goes to waste. The military as well as the politicians know this well. From a recent NYT piece about options against North Korean missiles:

Intercepting a warhead using missile defenses runs other dangers, White House officials have been told. If the American antimissile systems missed — against a single warhead, which should be the simplest target — it would undercut confidence in an infrastructure the United States has spent $300 billion to build over the past four decades.”

Missile defense is nonsense. Its principle is to hit one bullet with another bullet at several times the speed of sound and at distances of hundreds of miles. That is nearly impossible to do. Even the staged missile defense tests fail and the system as a whole does not work. The U.S. military is too afraid to use its $300 billion missile defense boondoggle because that would prove that it is one gigantic scam.

That does not restrain the politicians from adding money to it:

[The new budget] does authorize an additional $8.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency to strengthen homeland, regional and space missile defense. That authorization is $630 million above the Trump administration’s request.

The fakenews warmongering by NATO and western politicians about the Zapad maneuver helped to convince the sheeple that additional welfare projects for the owners of the military-industrial complex are necessary and justified.

Meanwhile health care for all, which would cost much less than missile defense, is too expensive to pass.

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It is the Unlimited Imperialists along the line of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon and Hitler who are now in charge of conducting American foreign policy…

Historically this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific was also designed to secure America’s economic exploitation of China pursuant to the euphemistic rubric of the “open door” policy. But over the next four decades America’s aggressive presence, policies, and practices in the so-called “Pacific” Ocean would ineluctably pave the way for Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and thus America’s precipitation into the ongoing Second World War. Today a century later the serial imperial aggressions launched, waged, and menaced by the neoconservative Republican Bush Junior administration then the neoliberal Democratic Obama administration and now the reactionary Trump administration threaten to set off World War III.

By shamelessly exploiting the terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001, the Bush Junior administration set forth to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Muslim States and Peoples of Color living in Central Asia and the Middle East and Africa under the bogus pretexts of

(1) fighting a war against “international terrorism” or “Islamic fundamentalism”; and/or

(2) eliminating weapons of mass destruction; and/or

(3) the promotion of democracy; and/or

(4) self-styled humanitarian intervention and its avatar “responsibility to protect” (R2P).

Only this time the geopolitical stakes are infinitely greater than they were a century ago: control and domination of the world’s hydrocarbon resources and thus the very fundaments and energizers of the global economic system – oil and gas. The Bush Junior/ Obama administrations targeted the remaining hydrocarbon reserves of Africa, Latin America (e.g., the Pentagon’s reactivization of the U.S. Fourth Fleet in 2008), and Southeast Asia for further conquest and domination, together with the strategic choke-points at sea and on land required for their transportation (e.g., Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti). Today the U.S. Fourth Fleet threatens oil-rich Venezuela and Ecuador for sure along with Cuba.

Toward accomplishing that first objective, in 2007 the neoconservative Bush Junior administration announced the establishment of the U.S. Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) in order to better control, dominate, steal, and exploit both the natural resources and the variegated peoples of the continent of Africa, the very cradle of our human species. In 2011 Libya and the Libyans proved to be the first victims to succumb to AFRICOM under the neoliberal Obama administration, thus demonstrating the truly bi-partisan and non-partisan nature of U.S. imperial foreign policy decision-making. Let us put aside as beyond the scope of this paper the American conquest, extermination, and ethnic cleansing of the Indians from off the face of the continent of North America. Since America’s instigation of the Spanish-American War in 1898, U.S. foreign policy decision-making has been alternatively conducted by reactionary imperialists, conservative imperialists, and liberal imperialists for the past 119 years and counting.

Trump is just another White Racist Iron Fist for Judeo-Christian U.S. Imperialism and Capitalism smashing all over the world. Trump forthrightly and proudly admitted that the United States is in the Middle East in order to steal their oil. At least he was honest about it. Unlike his predecessors who lied about the matter going back to President George Bush Sr. with his War for Persian Gulf oil against Iraq in 1991. Just recently, President Trump publicly threatened illegal U.S. military intervention against oil-rich Venezuela. Q.E.D.

This world-girdling burst of U.S. imperialism at the start of humankind’s new millennium is what my teacher, mentor, and friend the late, great Professor Hans Morgenthau denominated “unlimited imperialism” in his seminal book Politics Among Nations 52-53 (4th ed. 1968):

The outstanding historic examples of unlimited imperialism are the expansionist policies of Alexander the Great, Rome, the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries, Napoleon I, and Hitler. They all have in common an urge toward expansion which knows no rational limits, feeds on its own successes and, if not stopped by a superior force, will go on to the confines of the political world. This urge will not be satisfied so long as there remains anywhere a possible object of domination–a politically organized group of men which by its very independence challenges the conqueror’s lust for power. It is, as we shall see, exactly the lack of moderation, the aspiration to conquer all that lends itself to conquest, characteristic of unlimited imperialism, which in the past has been the undoing of the imperialistic policies of this kind….

Since September 11, 2001, it is the Unlimited Imperialists along the lines of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon, and Hitler who have been in charge of conducting American foreign policy decision-making. The factual circumstances surrounding the outbreaks of both the First World War and the Second World War currently hover like twin Swords of Damocles over the heads of all humanity.

After September 11, 2001 the people of the world witnessed successive governments in the United States that have demonstrated little respect for fundamental considerations of international law, human rights, and the United States Constitution. Instead, the world has watched a comprehensive and malicious assault upon the integrity of the international and domestic legal orders by gangs of men and women who are thoroughly Machiavellian in their perception of international relations and in their conduct of both foreign affairs and American domestic policy. Even more seriously, in many instances specific components of the U.S. government’s foreign policies constitute ongoing criminal activity under well-recognized principles of both international law and United States domestic law, and in particular the Nuremberg Charter (1945), the Nuremberg Judgment (1946), and the Nuremberg Principles (1950), as well as the Pentagon’s own U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 on The Law of Land Warfare, which applies to the President himself as Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces under Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

US army in Syria (Source: Inside Syria Media Center)

Depending on the substantive issues involved, these international and domestic crimes typically include but are not limited to the Nuremberg offences of “crimes against peace”—e.g., Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, and their longstanding threatened war of aggression against Iran. Their criminal responsibility also concerns crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as grave breaches of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the 1907 Hague Regulations on land warfare: torture, enforced disappearances, assassinations, murders, kidnappings, extraordinary renditions, “shock and awe,” depleted uranium, white phosphorous, cluster bombs, drone strikes, etc. Furthermore, various officials of the United States government have committed numerous inchoate crimes incidental to these substantive offences that under the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles as well as U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956) are international crimes in their own right: planning, and preparation, solicitation, incitement, conspiracy, complicity, attempt, aiding and abetting, etc. Of course the terrible irony of today’s situation is that seven decades ago at Nuremberg the U.S. government participated in the prosecution, punishment, and execution of Nazi government officials for committing some of the same types of heinous international crimes that these officials of the United States government currently inflict upon Peoples of Color all over the world. To be sure, I personally oppose the imposition of capital punishment upon any human being for any reason no matter how monstrous their crimes, whether they be Saddam Hussein, Bush Junior, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump.

According to basic principles of international criminal law set forth in paragraph 501 of U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, all high level civilian officials and military officers in the U.S. government who either knew or should have known that soldiers or civilians under their control (such as the C.I.A. or mercenary contractors), committed or were about to commit international crimes and failed to take the measures necessary to stop them, or to punish them, or both, are likewise personally responsible for the commission of international crimes. This category of officialdom who actually knew or should have known of the commission of these international crimes under their jurisdiction and failed to do anything about them include at the very top of America’s criminal chain-of-command the President, the Vice-President, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Director of National Intelligence, the C.I.A. Director, National Security Advisor and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff along with the appropriate Regional Commanders-in-Chiefs, especially for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and now U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Related image

Nuremberg Defendants (Source: news.dm)

These U.S. government officials and their immediate subordinates are responsible for the commission of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes as specified by the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles as well as by U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 of 1956. Today in international legal terms, the United States government itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, because of its formulation and undertaking of serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany. As a consequence, American citizens possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance designed to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to “defense” and “counter-terrorism.” They are the terrorists! They terrorize the entire world!

For that very reason, large numbers of American citizens have decided to act on their own cognizance by means of civil resistance in order to demand that U.S. government officials adhere to basic principles of international law, of U.S. domestic law, and of the U.S. Constitution in their conduct of foreign affairs and military operations. Mistakenly, however, such actions have been defined to constitute classic instances of “civil disobedience” as historically practiced in the United States. And the conventional status quo admonition by the U.S. power elite and its sycophantic news media for those who knowingly engage in “civil disobedience” has always been that they must meekly accept their punishment for having performed a prima facie breach of the positive laws as a demonstration of their good faith and moral commitment. Nothing could be further from the truth! Today’s civil resisters are the sheriffs! The U.S. government officials are the outlaws!

Here I would like to suggest a different way of thinking about civil resistance activities that are specifically designed to thwart, prevent, or impede ongoing criminal activity by officials of the U.S. government under well‑recognized principles of international and U.S. domestic law. Such civil resistance activities represent the last constitutional avenue open to the American people to preserve their democratic form of government with its historical commitment to the rule of law and human rights. Civil resistance is the last hope Americans have to prevent the U.S. government from moving even farther down the paths of lawless violence in Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, military interventionism into Latin America, and nuclear confrontation with Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, and China.

Such measures of “civil resistance” must not be confused with, and indeed must be carefully distinguished from, acts of “civil disobedience” as traditionally defined. In today’s civil resistance cases, what we witness are American citizens attempting to prevent the ongoing commission of international and domestic crimes under well-recognized principles of international law and U.S. domestic law. This is a phenomenon essentially different from the classic civil disobedience cases of the 1950s and 1960s where incredibly courageous African Americans and their supporters were conscientiously violating domestic laws for the express purpose of changing them. By contrast, today’s civil resisters are acting for the express purpose of upholding the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution, human rights, and international law. Applying the term “civil disobedience” to such civil resistors mistakenly presumes their guilt and thus perversely exonerates the U.S. government criminals.

Civil resistors disobeyed nothing, but to the contrary obeyed international law and the United States Constitution. By contrast, U.S. government officials grossly violated fundamental principles of international law as well as U.S. criminal law and thus committed international crimes and U.S. domestic crimes as well as impeachable violations of the United States Constitution. The civil resistors are the sheriffs enforcing international law, U.S. criminal law and the U.S. Constitution against the criminals working for the U.S. government!

Today the American people must reaffirm their commitment to the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles by holding their government officials fully accountable under international law and U.S. domestic law for the commission of such grievous international and domestic crimes. They must not permit any aspect of their foreign affairs and defense policies to be conducted by acknowledged “war criminals” according to the U.S. government’s own official definition of that term as set forth in U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956), the U.S. War Crimes Act, the Geneva Conventions, and the Hague Regulations, inter alia. The American people must insist upon the impeachment, dismissal, resignation, indictment, conviction, and long-term incarceration of all U.S. government officials guilty of such heinous international and domestic crimes. If not so restrained by civil resistance, the U.S. government could very well precipitate a Third World War. That is precisely what American civil resisters are doing today!

The future of American foreign policy and the peace of the world lie in the hands of American citizens—not the bureaucrats, legislators, judges, lobbyists, think-tankers, professors, and self-styled experts who inhibit Washington, D.C., New York City, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hyde Park/Chicago, Illinois. Civil resistance is the way to go! This is our Nuremberg Moment now! Thank you.

Professor Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert and served as Legal Advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasser Arafat on the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, as well as to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations from 1991 to 1993, where he drafted the Palestinian counter-offer to the now defunct Oslo Agreement. His books include “ Palestine, Palestinians and International Law” (2003), and “ The Palestinian Right of Return under International Law” (2010).

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stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Syria and its people are victims of US aggression – ISIS and like-minded terrorists used as imperial foot soldiers, along with Pentagon-led terror-bombing since September 2014, massacring tens of thousands of civilians, destroying vital infrastructure on the phony pretext of combating the Islamic State Washington supports.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Moualem used his UN address to blast America and its rogue allies, while expressing gratitude to Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah for their vital support – combating the scourge of terrorism Washington supports.

Obama’s war, now Trump’s, has been raging for six-and-a-half years, ongoing because America rejects peace, wanting regime change, Syria transformed into a US vassal state, puppet governance replacing its sovereign independence.

Millions of Syrians remain internally and externally displaced. Humanitarian crisis conditions persist, aid forthcoming only from Russia and Iran.

None from Washington. None from other Western countries. None from regional ones besides Iran. Practically none from the UN.

Moualem explained

“a persistent standoff between two sets of forces: forces that seek to control and dominate nations and their riches, by turning back the clock, re-establishing a unipolar world order, fueling chaos and war, and violating international and humanitarian laws: and opposite forces that work tirelessly to create a more balanced, secure, and just world, one that respects the sovereignty of the states and the right of peoples to exercise self-determination and build their own future.”

It’s clear which nations he means on each side.

“Syria is determined, more than ever, to eradicate terrorism from every part of the country, without exception, thanks to the sacrifices of our army and the steadfastness of our people,” Moualem continued.

His nation has two objectives – eliminating the scourge of US-supported terrorism, along with preserving and protecting its sovereign independence and territorial integrity.

Russia, Iran and Hezbollah share the same objectives. America and its rogue allies oppose them.

Syrian and allied forces have come a long way from earlier times, on the offensive, smashing terrorists, liberating cities, towns and villages from their scourge.

Turkey remains an enemy of Syria, not an ally or neutral party.

“Erdogan has persisted in (his) aggression…under the illusion that terrorism will help serve its subversive agendas in Syria and the countries of the region. Turkey’s position stands in stark contrast to the positive and constructive role played by Russia and Iran,” said Moualem.

Syria is committed to restoring peace and stability through responsible diplomacy, combating ISIS and other terrorists continuing their reign of terror on defenseless civilians.

Moualem blasted Israel for “its unscrupulous thuggish actions with full impunity,” adding:

“This usurper entity has occupied Arab territories in Palestine and the Golan for more than seventy years and has committed horrific crimes against innocent civilians.”

“It has publicly interfered in the Syrian crisis since its early days. Israel has provided all forms of support to Takfirist terrorist gangs, including funds, weapons, material, and communication equipment.”

“Israel has also bombed Syrian Army positions to serve terrorist agendas.”

“Coordination between the two was at its best when terrorist groups decided to target Syrian air defense assets used to defend Syria against Israeli aggression.”

Moualem blasted the so-called US-led coalition, massacring “innocent civilians…destroy(ing) vital infrastructure,” using banned weapons, supplying CWs to terrorists, Syria falsely blamed when they’re used.

Moualem criticized the UN’s “failure to uphold its own Charter and the principles of international law” – failing to condemn US-led aggression on Syria, complicit in its war crimes through silence, falsely blaming Damascus for responsibly defending the country and its people.

Moualem concluded saying

“(t)he Syrian people have stood their ground, against all odds, because they knew that this was a war that sought to eliminate their country, and with it, their own existence.”

“They are an example to follow by any people who might face, now or in the future, similar attempts to break their will and deny them their freedom and sovereignty.”

One day, Syria will be free from the scourge of US-supported terrorism and its occupation of parts of the country – because of the commitment of its military and allied forces to continue their liberating struggle.

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

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

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

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


Below is the link to the full speech of Walid Al-Moualem at the UN General Assembly.

Statement by Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Walid Al-Moualem at the UN General Assembly

By Walid Al-Moualem, September 25, 2017

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Poroshenko and Trudeau: Canada’s Ukrainian Attitude

September 25th, 2017 by Jim Miles

“We continue to stand with Ukraine against the illegal illegitimate incursion of Russia into Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and their attempts to destabilize Ukraine economically and many other ways,” Trudeau said. CBC, September 22, 2017.  

Donbass

The Canadian government operates under as many double standards as that of the U.S. and its other NATO allies.  Russia did not invade Donbass, but more than likely supplied the rebel defenders with equipment, (much as the U.S. does globally). And what were they rebelling against, you dare not ask?

Well, they rebelled against the U.S. covert actions against the democratically elected government of Yanukovich, not wanting the newly installed neonazi Maidan strongmen (e.g. Arseniy Yatsenyuk) to control their region of the country. Further, the same bunch also used language that indicated they wished for ethnic cleansing and even genocide – Yulia Tymoshenko, the new revived darling of the western backed government, called for their complete destruction. The criminal Saakashvili (wanted for crimes in Georgia, his home state) is attempting to do something now that he has returned to Cherkasy in the geographical centre of Ukraine, another CIA sponsored overthrow of their first internationally illegal operation?

The Minsk agreement is an agreement signed between Donetsk-Luhansk on one side and Ukraine on the other, with France and Germany as co-signees – not the Russians. The agreement calls for unconditional ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners of war, and constitutional reform in Ukraine. All of these are dependent on the Ukraine government in Kiev to act upon (not Russia) and they have not acted on any of them.

Heavy weapons have not been withdrawn and continue to fire daily and nightly from the front line into the Donbass region, mostly at civilian targets. Some prisoners were exchanged, but many from the Minsk side were simply civilians rounded up to use as ‘trade’. There has been no constitutional reform from the Ukrainian Rada.

The current desire to place peacekeepers inside Donbass is a non-starter for Donbass residents who have suffered under continual artillery fire since the Minsk agreement was signed. If the peacekeepers were on the ceasefire line, that might be acceptable, but for Poroshenko that obviously recognizes that the real problem is internal rather than with Russia.

Canada’s integrity

So where else is Canada concerned about territorial integrity? Hmmm, perhaps Syria, with its support for U.S. actions against Assad – nominally against terrorism, but the intelligent broad reader would know that the real target is Assad astride a critical oil route (as well as having ongoing troubles with Israel, the country that illegally annexed the Golan Heights, an action that the Canadian government never criticizes.)

Or perhaps Libya? Canada was one of the lead brave bombers that destroyed that country, aggravating the ISIS terror nexus, aggravating the immigrant problem to the EU, once again supporting U.S. international criminal actions under the false accusation of genocide (there wasn’t any, Gaddafi was fighting against ISIS affiliates in his eastern provinces).

Or maybe Yugoslavia/Serbia, where once again the brave Canadian bombers destroyed civilian infrastructure and more in order to carve apart another country that did not fit the U.S. definition of what a country should be – that is, subservient to the U.S., as Canada is.

Crimea

Trudeau and cohorts would of course cry out that Crimea is an obvious illegal international intervention. But consider….Crimea had always wanted independence from Ukraine ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Twice they voted for it, twice they were denied it by Ukraine, and Russia at that time was to weak to do anything to assist them (remember originally Crimea had been ‘gifted’ to Ukraine by Khrushchev).

When the U.S./Yatsenyuk team overthrew the duly elected (if corrupt) government, the Russian forces already in Crimea blocked any attempts of the Ukraine towards violent actions such as happened at the Maidan, in Odessa, and in Donbass. Really they should be thanked for the prevention of another area with a large loss of life due to U.S. imperial desires (sort of like they should be thanked for destroying most of ISIS in Syria, you know, the Saudi backed group the U.S. covertly supports).

It also became known that U.S. warships were bound for the Crimean port of Sevastopol, an action prevented by the quick move of the Russian forces stationed there. What would have happened if the U.S. had arrived first, once again violating an international boundary – well of course, the sycophantic Canadian government would have lauded the action, while the Ukrainian forces rampaged against all things Russian in Crimea – which is most of it.

Following that a referendum was held to know if the people wished to join with Russia. The vast majority said yes, not at gunpoint as the western MSM wished to argue, and the Russian Duma accepted the request. Peaceful, no lives lost, and Crimea is better off than the rest of Ukraine and the Donbass.

Trudeau can lament that all he wants, there is no way Crimea will voluntarily return to Ukraine. But as long as the U.S. wants it, so long as the domestic Ukrainian lobby wants it, so the lament will continue.

Economic destabilizing

If the actions of the countries involved are looked at closely, the main economic destabilizing factor for Ukraine has been its own actions. It was Ukraine that blocked coal shipments from Donbsas. It was Ukraine that stopped the farmers and citizens of Kherson from trading with Crimea. It was Ukraine that knocked down power lines to Crimea, and cut of water to Crimea as well as parts of Donbass. It is Ukraine that continues to shell civilian structures in Donbass (water pumping stations, power stations, railways, schools, hospitals et al) causing serious economic damage to that region. Donbass has not responded in kind, and has withdrawn its heavy weapons from the contact line.

Ukraine itself has devolved into familiarity, with various oligarchs controlling the political, industrial, and financial actions both domestically and internationally that have ruined much of what little the Ukrainian people had. Factories are closing (lack of coal, lack of orders, for the latter a significant part being industries that used to sell equipment to Russia). The war effort of Kiev against Donbass is itself a costly affair, both in human lives and in economic losses to the economy.

Canada’s Ukrainian attitude

Canada’s Ukrainian attitude – that is its anti-Russian attitude – is a combination of both domestic politics as well as its subservient role to U.S. interests via NATO. The ultimate U.S. goal is to deconstruct if not destroy Russia, to make it part of the U.S. empire as it tries for global hegemony. Unfortunately for the world it is that very U.S. imperial desire that has wreaked havoc across many countries on all continents of the world.

Personally, I support the actions of Russia in Syria, an area where they are operating within international law, as opposed to the U.S., Canada and all the other uninvited nations fighting – theoretically – against terrorism. Given the global method that the U.S. uses to destabilize nations – through economics (sanctions, embargoes et al) combined with covert military means that frequently become overt military means – I support the growing positive relations between Russia and China and their efforts at building infrastructure and economic relationships across Eurasia (and Africa and Latin America), without using the military.

That of course is another reason for Ukraine being used as it is – to keep Eurasia from developing independence from the U.S. economic system and the reserve currency status of the US$. With Ukraine as another puppet U.S./EU/NATO government, it will be easier to try and block the Chinese BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). That then spreads globally to U.S. actions in Syria, Iran and anywhere else in the Greater Middle East where Canada plays its supporting role in all things imperial. After all it’s only natural – the U.S. and Canada are children of the once greatest colonial-settler imperial nation in the world, the U.K.

In short then, Canada’s Ukrainian attitude is supported by its internal Ukrainian cohort and more broadly by its warmongering imperial backing of U.S. adventurism to capture…well, the world.

Featured image is from Radio Canada International.

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Art and Politics, and Why Happiness Is Overrated

September 25th, 2017 by Prof Susan Babbitt

As the thinking man was overtaken by a great storm, he was sitting in a big car and took up a lot of space.

The first thing he did was to get out of his car.

The second was to take off his jacket. The third was to lie down on the ground.

Thus reduced to his smallest magnitude he withstood the storm.

Such was the lesson Bertoldt Brecht took from ancient Chinese theatre. 1 It was how he survived. The Nazis forced him from Germany into impoverished exile in Scandinavia. Later, he suffered humiliating anti-communist harassment in the U.S. His strategy was always: the best resistance is no resistance.

It doesn’t mean to cave. Brecht opposed his “thinking man” to an image common in European theatre: the individual “standing tall” against the wind, fighting the storm. Brecht’s realism was to see a situation for what it is, discover its real opportunities, and survive knowingly, until the storm passed.

It is not easy to do. It means seeing things as they are, not as you want them to be, suspending expectations, or at least not being defined by them. Some think it is not possible to be realist in Brecht’s sense. They say we can’t live without “dreams”, without things to “look forward to”.

They call that “hope”. The medical establishment is obsessed with it. As a cancer patient for many years, I got tired of hope. It seemed delusional. It was as if seeing things as they are – bad! – was not allowed. Realism means we can discover truth, even unexpected.

And we can learn to live with it, fully, with open eyes.

In the rich North, culturally, we don’t believe in truths. We believe in happiness and choice. Truth and happiness don’t always go together. There’s a simple reason. We are happy when expectations are realized, when dreams come to pass, when we get what we want. But expectations, dreams and desires come from society. Truth, if we believed in it, removes their lustre.

One truth, for instance, is that a fraction of the world’s population “lives well”. Another is that we live well because others don’t. We kill and rob them to be “happy”. A further truth is that we think we live well precisely because we don’t think about these truths. The people we kill and rob, after all, don’t count. Finally, it happens to be true that we don’t live well. We are mostly depressed and anxious.

French poet, novelist and dramatist Victor Marie Hugo is shown in this undated photo. Hugo was born on May 22, 1802 in Besancon, France, and died in 1885 in Paris. (AP Photo)

Truth is an “implacable foe” of happiness. This is how Victor Hugo saw it. He wrote:

“Thoughtful people rarely use the terms, the happy and the unhappy…. The true division of humanity is this. Those filled with light and those filled with darkness”.

Hugo was a realist, like Brecht, Marx, José Martí.

It is why he valued art. He thought art, including the beauty of nature and people, matters for politics. 2 He didn’t look to art for fun, tranquility or escape. He looked for realism. Art is best experienced for what it is, not for its purpose. It might have a purpose but its value is not mainly instrumental.

Hugo thought human actions can be art. He called it “social beauty”. 3

Consider Inspector Javert. He relentlessly pursues ex-convict Jean Valjean. When Valjean has a chance to kill Javert, he frees him. Javert wants Valjean to kill him because that is what every part of him expected: an act of revenge. And when it doesn’t happen Javert feels “cut off from his past life”. Hugo writes that Javert saw what was “terrible .… He was moved”: by an instance of social beauty.

Hugo was not a liberal, as sometimes claimed. True, he valued individual freedom. But it was not the sort that liberalism proclaims: the individual “standing tall”, seizing their destiny.

We can’t do that, not as individuals.

It’s a lie, and leads to lies, like the medical establishment’s insistence on “hope”: Just believe everything will go back to where it was. It doesn’t happen, and believing it does not empower.

Hugo writes,

“There are those who ask for nothing more, living beings who, having bright blue skies above, say: This is enough …  people who, as long as there are clouds of purples and gold above their heads … are determined to be happy until the stars stop shining and the birds stop singling. These are the darkly radiant. They have no idea they are to be pitied. … Whoever does not weep does not see”.

The “darkly radiant”! Brecht saw an existential need for “every kind of truth”. He writes,

“When the thinking man conquered the storm, he did so because he recognized the storm and agreed to it. Thus, if you want to conquer death, you should recognize it and agree to it”.

It is a more interesting view of freedom than the one we’ve been saddled with for centuries of liberalism. It would be good if philosophers and political theorists looked further afield: Martí, Marx, even the Buddha. (He thought the “standing tall” image was evil).

Truth is only ever approximate. But we can keep moving in the direction.

Raúl Roa, student leader in the 1930s uprising in Cuba, later Cuba’s foreign minister, once defined humanism as the identification of lies. Humanism, he wrote, is “awareness in the face of conceptions that undermine, deform and eliminate the human personality”.4

Roa had in mind the lies of imperialism, including liberalism’s naïve freedoms: See the lies, and you’ll start to see beauty: social beauty.

Ana Belén Montes is social beauty, locked up under undeservedly harsh and demeaning conditions. 5

Please sign petition here.

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

Notes

1. Stephen Parker, Bertoldt Brecht: A literary life (2014)

2. Carmen Suárez León, José Martí y Victor Hugo, en el fiel de las modernidades (Havana: Centro de investigación y desarrollo de la cultura cubana, 1996)

3. I am grateful to Dr. Robert Rennebohm for pointing this out.

4. Bufa subversiva Havana: Ediciones la memoria,  2006

5. http://www.prolibertad.org/ana-belen-montes. For more information, write to the [email protected] or [email protected]

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

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Slow Boat to China

September 25th, 2017 by Dr. T. P. Wilkinson

There was a day
It was still called Cathay
By those in the West
Who travelled that way
Silk and tea
Porcelain and spice
They brought us
spaghetti
We even took rice.
For centuries
We bought there
Things we don’t need
Brought for those
Whose moral was greed
The rice we still eat
The tea we still drink
But with preference
For substances
By which we don’t think.
They sold us their goods
For silver we stole
We blasted their ports
Filled their cities with holes
Now that they make
All the things that we take
Our vanity cries
To tell them more lies
With centuries past
Recovery fast
No longer the first
We’re afraid to be last.

***

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa (Maisonneuve Press, 2003). Read other articles by T.P..

This poem was originally published by Dissident Voice.

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“Saldremos adelante!” (“We can only move forward!”). This is what a colleague exclaimed during one of my several phone calls to Havana in the days after Irma unleashed its wrath on the capital.

Others, when asked how they, their families, colleagues and neighbours were faring, declared in a similar manner, “We are fighters,” “We are never defeated” and “We are in the battle for recovery.”

Despite this attitude, they were unanimous in their emphasis that Cuba’s situation is “critical,” having suffered the most devastating hurricane in about 85 years. This coincides with Raúl Castro’s message to the people, when he said,

“No one should be fooled; the task we have before us is huge.”

Another colleague remarked that the Cubans’ trademark solidarity immediately became stronger and more widespread in the course of Irma’s fury on Havana. For example, in a small apartment building without gas or electricity for cooking, one family used charcoal to prepare meals for all the residents, using everyone’s food that was otherwise perishing in their refrigerators. Another colleague, a journalist, recounted how she was able to meet the deadline for her story despite her office building remaining without electricity, thanks to being granted access to the headquarters of another news outlet. One can hardly imagine a similar situation taking place in the US! Would CNN and FOX collaborate this way? Would the capitalist New York Times share its offices with its diehard competitor The Wall Street Journal? In the same manner, in Canada, can anyone imagine such cooperation between archrivals The Globe and Mailand the Toronto Star? This is just one great advantage of the Cuban press not being privately controlled. All of the above and countless other examples are also reflected in Raúl’s statement “with a people like ours, we will win the most important battle: recovery.”

In fact, only three days after these initial phone conversations, the same people reported that their electricity and gas had been restored but that, sadly, many small towns on the north coast have been devastated to the extent that normal services and housing had not yet come close to being restored.

The Cuban Revolution and Notions of Defeat Are Incompatible

The Cuban Revolution does not know the meaning of defeat. It likewise does not accept in its collective and individual minds the notion of fear or despair. This new consciousness began developing in Cuba since 1959, solidifying and deepening over the decades in the face of adversity. This unique feature was noticeable before Irma, but it has become ever more evident these past two weeks. Its latest expression in the dramatic days during and after Irma could not help one to think of the first two sentences of the Cuban Constitution, which states that Cuban citizens express “combativity, firmness, heroism and sacrifice fostered by our ancestors.” An early example of this consists of “the Indians who preferred extermination to submission.” The 16th-century Taíno Indian chief Hatuey is a legend in Cuba. On February 2, 1512, Hatuey was tied to a stake at the Spanish camp, where he was burned alive. Just before lighting the fire, a priest offered him spiritual comfort, showing him the cross and asking him to accept Jesus and go to heaven. “Are there people like you in heaven?” he asked. “There are many like me in heaven,” replied the priest. Hatuey answered that he wanted nothing to do with a god that would allow such cruelty to be unleashed in his name.

Raul Castro cropped.jpg

Raul Castro (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This fierce characteristic of the native people remains true of the Cuban people today. The same cannot be said of the European peoples, nations and their descendants as a whole, with the exception of the Cuban nation, which, faced with one adversity or another ­– whether it be successive hurricanes, Moncada, post-1959 terrorist attacks on the island, the Bay of Pigs or the fall of the former USSR and Eastern European socialist countries (with which 85% of Cuba’s economy was entangled) – have demonstrated an indelible feature of their collectivity: the impossibility to accept defeat.

Cuba accomplished this not only since 1959, but also as far back as the wars of independence in the second half of the 19th century. One notable example of this historical period is the Protest of Baraguá. Cuban independence fighter Antonio Maceo could not accept defeat because he did not feel defeated – he had been winning his battles and had a good military organization. In the Baraguá (eastern Cuba) meeting with the Spanish, he strongly objected to the terms of the peace agreement, which the conciliatory section of the resistance to the Spanish accepted, deeming the agreement to be insulting and brushing aside its promise of concessions. Cuba is an eternal Baraguá, as they say.

This feature of the Cuban people having revolutionized their mentality as a people and a nation in a protracted process, obliterating any notion of fear and defeat while replacing it with a firmly based new consciousness, is not only inspired by the inevitable victory over adversity, but is also of historic importance for this century. In Latin America, the Bolivarian Revolution (with its more than 8 million proactive people) is another example, even though it has not yet penetrated the Venezuelan people or nation as a whole.

It seems as if the overwhelming majority of Cuban people have reached this new consciousness, as it existed among the native peoples for thousands of years. The latter’s mindset constitutes an entirely different mentality generally not found as a distinguishing characteristic among European nations and their descendants. The Cuban off-springs of the Spanish and other Europeans, Africans, Chinese and others as a new nation have been evolving in the course of revolutionary struggles since 1868, with a renewed spark after the 1953 Moncada attack. This fearless way of thinking and corresponding actions seems to have merged into an entirely new national idiosyncrasy that has far more in common with the heritage of the native peoples than with that of the Europeans.

“Survival of the Fittest?”

The words that follow may stir some interest as well as cackles. It is a historical fact that the Cuban Revolution has survived against all odds and predictions despite, among other factors, the five-decade-long blockade and the earthshaking fall of the USSR, which was supposed to have sounded the death knell for the socialist revolution. Instead, rather than merely surviving it, Cuba has evolved further – socially and culturally – while constituting an unprecedented model of international solidarity. And, let us not forget, all this has transpired within the limits of the blockade, whose goal, it must always be recalled, is the protracted genocide of the Cuban people.

While social science is far from able to provide an exhaustive analysis, explanation or encouragement of this rare phenomenon that is the Cuba Revolution, the metaphoric use of natural science may be of assistance in reflection. Charles Darwin showed that, as part of natural evolution, only the fittest survive extinction. The Cuban Revolution is indeed the “fittest,” in the sense that it has imbued the vast majority of Cuban people composing the nation to overcome even the most difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

This mentality of refusing to accept defeat was also reflected in the call by Raúl to his people, when he ended by saying,

“We face the recovery with the example of Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana, Fidel Castro Ruz, who, with his unwavering confidence in victory and iron will, taught us that nothing is impossible. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.”

Fidel is at once the main impulse and guide, through his thinking, action and example for the Cuban Revolution. He embodies this iron will to fight off attacks from all hostile tendencies inside and outside Cuba to defeat any challenge that stands in its way and thus come out victorious.

International Solidarity

The Cuban people have proven themselves to be world leaders when it comes to international solidarity, and the love they have extended to others has been rewarded with the rapid material and moral support of Russia, Vietnam and countries in Latin America. For example, in a briefing after Irma hit Cuba, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, with his Chavista flair, showed a video of a Hercules plane loaded with material support landing on a makeshift runway cleared by the Cuban government as part of reopening of the Havana airport.

More than ever before, Cuba needs and deserves such material and moral support. While Cuba receives this type of solidarity from around the planet, Trump has signed the Trading with the Enemy Act once again, and made a statement on September 13 about human rights violations in Cuba and Venezuela. This was followed by the callous statement of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He stated on September 16 that, in light of the alleged and totally non-founded sonic interference by Cuba against the American diplomats in Havana, the US is considering closing its Embassy in Havana. He said with a callousness completely oblivious to the suffering of the Cuban people by the very real Irma:

“It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals [American diplomats] have suffered.”

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau’s Canadian government is among the Western countries that have not issued any statement of support or solidarity with Cuba. This is a sad reality, given Canada’s special relationship with Cuba, having not ever broken diplomatic ties with the country. In fact, Justin Trudeau’s father was the first Western leader to visit Cuba and express solidarity with Fidel Castro and “Cuba Libre.” Justin Trudeau himself visited Cuba and met with Raúl Castro only days before Fidel passed away. Furthermore, Canada has been the biggest source of tourism for Cuba for several decades, to the extent that millions of Canadians have visited the island not only once, but multiple times, making Cuba practically a home away from home for many.

One may hope that the Trudeau government will rectify and at least express its moral support, which would very much encourage the Cubans, who are conscious of this special Cuba–Canada relationship forged to an extent by the Trudeau tradition. As far as critically needed financial and material support, Canada should overcome its self-imposed bureaucracy and provide immediate aid. According to the website of the Cuban Mission in Ottawa, the first on the list of material needs is construction material. Canada is the fifth in the world as far as lumber production and hovers between the first and second of the world’s top exporters of timber products. Should Canada not immediately consider overcoming any obstacle and make use of this plentiful natural resource that is so necessary for Cuba in this critical situation?

This obstinacy by some Western governments – such as the US, Canada, the UK, the rest of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as others – is in contrast to the attitude of solidarity organizations and other institutions in these countries that are going all out to raise relief funds at the grassroots level to support Cuba. While all countries in the Caribbean also need this support, Cuba was the hardest hit in terms of quantity of infrastructure and the number of people affected by Irma. It is also a political issue, in terms of supporting the survival of the Cuban Revolution, which is now facing an unprecedented climate challenge. Furthermore, the hurricane season still has close to another three months to go, as some of my colleagues in Havana have pointed out.

The American Blockade and Irma

Cuba is also facing a new disinformation campaign from mass media and others. Many are having a field day describing housing, roofs and other structures as being “dilapidated,” which to an extent is true, especially in cities such as Havana. But is this a feature of the Cuban system? The impression given is that any problematic housing and infrastructure is entirely Cuba’s fault and thus proof of the “failure of socialism.” However, what about the effects of the blockade, which was mainly completely ignored in these reports or reduced to a footnote? As mentioned by Cuban colleagues in Havana who were consulted on this issue of disinformation,

“It is no accident that these media hide or minimize the effects of the blockade.”

The cumulative effect of the blockade since 1961 seriously hinders normal economic development in Cuba. The blockade itself resulted from the original genocidal goal to make Cuba bend to its knees and give in to the US empire. Watching Cuban TV during and immediately after Irma, it was clear that the blockade has had a cataclysmic effect on the damage, just as it is having now with the recovery.

Take, for example, construction and infrastructures, where “dilapidated” housing is more likely a direct result of the blockade, which led to $30,868,200 in damages in a single year alone, spanning 2015–2016. One of the main causes of damages was the lack of access to lightweight and efficient construction technologies and energy components, which are available on the US market or are produced by subsidiaries of US-based companies. Could this not be the main cause of the “dilapidated” housing, notwithstanding any Cuban domestic insufficiencies?

This situation requires that we outside of Cuba counter the disinformation campaign against the Cuban Revolution and demand the complete lifting of the blockade, as part of our expression of financial, material and moral solidarity with Cuba.

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and the recently released  Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August and FaceBook

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President of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly,

I would like to congratulate you on your election as president of the current session of the General Assembly and wish you all success. I would also like to thank your predecessor for his important role at the helm of the General Assembly during the previous session. I congratulate Mr. Antonio Guterres on his appointment as Secretary-General of the United Nations and wish him the best in carrying out his responsibilities in service of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

As we meet again, our world is facing mounting challenges and dangers on a daily basis, and a persistent standoff between two sets of forces: forces that seek to control and dominate nations and their riches, by turning back the clock, re-establishing a unipolar world order, fueling chaos and war, and violating international and humanitarian laws; and opposite forces that work tirelessly to create a more balanced, secure, and just world, one that respects the sovereignty of states and the right of peoples to exercise self-determination and build their own future.

As we meet again, many people continue to pay dearly and sacrifice their lives, security, stability and livelihood, as a result of the policies of certain countries. Those countries falsely believe that they could use terrorism as a tool to satisfy their greed and further their ill-conceived agendas, which do not serve the interests of any people, not even their own. No people has suffered at the hands of terrorism more than the Syrian people, who, for six years now, has fought against terrorists pouring from all over the world, supported by parties from the region and beyond.

For more than six years, Syrians have endured the worst and have made great sacrifices to defend their country in the face of a terrorist war of unprecedented brutality, which has spared no one and no-thing, targeting innocent people, services, the infrastructure and cultural heritage. Despite it all, Syria is determined, more than ever, to eradicate terrorism from every part of the country, without exception, thanks to the sacrifices of our army and the steadfastness of our people.

Mr. President, 

Since the beginning of the war, our state policy has followed two main tracks: combating terrorism, and working hard towards a political solution that stems the bloodshed and restores stability.

On the counter-terrorism front, the Syrian Arab Army along with its supporting forces and allies are making daily achievements, clearing out territories and uprooting terrorists. However, the threat of this plague persists, claiming the lives of Syrians on a daily basis, and depleting the country’s resources. We must all understand that terrorism and the underlying Takfirist extremist ideology will continue to spread like a tumor throughout the world and haunt all of our people unless every one of us demonstrates a genuine will to cooperate to confront it together. Any such endeavor must respect the sovereignty of states and the interests of the people, and must let go of the illusion that terrorism can be used as a tool for political gains and narrow interests.

On the political front, the Syrian government has spared no effort since the early months of the crisis to stop the bloodshed. The success of local reconciliations would not have been possible without the leadership’s political support and the numerous amnesty decrees issued by President Bashar Al-Assad, which allowed everyone who had taken up arms to lay them down and resume their normal life.

These successful reconciliations have allowed tens of thousands of IDPs and refugees to go back home and helped improve the living conditions of a great number of Syrians who had fallen victim to terrorist crimes. Syria is determined to scale up reconciliation efforts, whenever possible, because it is the best means to alleviate the suffering of Syrians and restore stability and normalcy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since day one, the Syrian government has positively considered all initiatives to put an end to the war. However, these initiatives eventually failed after states that supported and fueled terrorism decided to persist in their aggressive policies against Syria and its people.

As for the Astana and Geneva tracks, the Syrian government has shown seriousness and commitment and has done its best to provide the necessary conditions for these efforts to succeed and achieve their goals.

We are encouraged by the Astana process and the resulting ‘de-escalation zones’ and hope that it will help us reach an actual cessation of hostilities and separate terrorist groups, such as ISIL, Al-Nusra and others, from those groups that have agreed to join the Astana process. This will be the real test of how committed and serious these groups and their ‘Turkish’ sponsors are. So far, Turkey under Erdogan has persisted in its aggressive policies against the Syrian people and has continued to labor under the illusion that terrorism will help serve its subversive agendas in Syria and the countries of the region. Turkey’s position stands in stark contrast to the positive and constructive role played by Russia and Iran.

Notwithstanding its commitment to the memorandum on the ‘de-escalation zones’, Syria reserves the right to respond to any violation by the other party. Syria also stresses that these zones are a temporary arrangement that must not violate the territorial unity of Syria.

The Syrian government reaffirms its commitment to the Geneva process and further progress on that track. This process has yet to bear fruit in the absence of a genuine national opposition that can be a partner in Syria’s future, and as countries with influence over the other party continue to block any meaningful progress.

Mr. President,

It is truly unfortunate that these countries that block a solution in Syria are members of this international organization, including permanent members of the Security Council.

The Syrian government has always insisted that any solution in Syria must respect Syria’s non-negotiable principles, which are a red line for all Syrians. These include the complete rejection of terrorism, the territorial unity of Syria and its people, and the rejection of any external interference in political decisions regarding Syria’s future. Only Syrians have the right to make such decisions, whether now or in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For decades, Israel has continued its unscrupulous thuggish actions with full impunity. This usurper entity has occupied Arab territories in Palestine and the Golan for more than seventy years and has committed horrific crimes against innocent civilians. Israel did not stop there. It has publicly interfered in the Syrian crisis since its early days. Israel has provided all forms of support to Takfirist terrorist gangs, including funds, weapons, materiel, and communication equipment. Israel has also bombed Syrian Army positions to serve terrorist agendas. Coordination between the two was at its best when terrorist groups decided to target Syrian air defense assets used to defend Syria against Israeli aggression. The unlimited Israeli support to terrorists in Syria did not come as a surprise. After all, the two share the same interests and goals. However, let me be clear: It is delusional to believe, even for a moment, that the crisis in Syria will make us forget our inalienable right to recover the occupied Syrian Golan fully to the lines of June 4, 1967.

For more than six years, states and parties that were behind the war on Syria, have continued to peddle lies and falsely accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, despite a confirmation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that Syria has fully eliminated its chemical program. This is enough proof that there is an ill-conceived intention to tarnish the real image of the Syrian government in the international public eye, and come up with new excuses to continue the aggression against Syrian favor of terrorists and their supporters. This was the case when the United States blatantly attacked the Shayrat airbase, claiming that it contained chemical weapons used in the alleged Khan Shaykhun attack. And as was the case alter every accusation of this kind, we confirmed our readiness to receive and cooperate with UN investigation teams.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Certain countries have boasted about fighting terrorism in Syria and having the interests of Syrians at heart. They have established ‘coalitions’ and held dozens of conferences under deceiving titles, such as ‘friends of the Syrian people’. It is quite ironic that those are the same countries that are shedding the blood of thousands of Syrians by supporting terrorists, bombing innocent civilians, and destroying their livelihoods.

The so-called ‘International Coalition’ led by the US, which was created three years ago to allegedly fight terrorist groups such as ISIL, has killed much more innocent Syrians, mostly women and children, than terrorists and has destroyed vital infrastructure that Syrians have worked for years to build. It has also used phosphorus bombs and other internationally prohibited weapons before the eyes of the whole world.

We cannot understand the silence of the international community in the face of these crimes. The international community has not condemned or sought to stop these crimes, even though the Syrian government has made a number of appeals to the Security Council to assume its main responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. The Syrian government has urged the Council to implement its own resolutions on counter-terrorism, in particular resolution 2253, and prevent the Coalition from committing more crimes against the citizens of my country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While the coalition failed to make any meaningful progress against the terrorist group of ISIL, the Syrian Army, along with its allies and friends, has been able to secure real and significant gains and drive out terrorists from large parts of the Syrian Desert. In what was considered a strategic achievement, the Army was recently able to break the siege imposed on the city of Deir Ezzor and its people by ISIL more than three years ago. This achievement will significantly improve the humanitarian situation in the city and contribute to the fight against terrorism in general.

We have declared more than once that it is impossible to combat terrorism without coordination with the Syrian government. This is the only way to make real gains in the war on terrorism. Any presence of foreign troops on Syrian grounds, without the consent of the government, is considered a form of occupation, a wanton aggression, and a flagrant violation of international laws and the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

The war that the most powerful countries and terrorist groups are waging against Syria is not only a military war. It has taken other forms, no less brutal or aggressive, to break the will of the Syrian people and punish it for its firm support of the Army in its efforts to defend Syria’s political independence and territorial unity. For this reason, those countries have imposed a suffocating economic blockade on Syria, in blatant violation of international law, to destroy the livelihoods of Syrians and increase their suffering.

These unilateral coercive measures have been imposed on vital sectors, most notably health care services. Syria used to have an advanced health care system. Today, however, Syrians are denied access to many types of medicine, even those used to treat life-threatening conditions, such as cancer. Such sanctions are a clear sign of the hypocrisy of certain countries that shed tears over Syrians while practicing a different form of terrorism.

The refugee problem is one of the consequences of terrorism. As Syria will need the efforts of every Syrian over the upcoming period, the Syrian government has made the return of Syrians to their homes a top priority. To this end, the Syrian government has embarked on a mission to liberate and secure the areas occupied by terrorists and improve the basic living conditions of all Syrians.

Mr. President,

Given the United Nations’ failure to uphold its own Charter and the principles of international law, we must all consider reforming this international organization to be able to effectively play its role and to defend the legitimate rights against the law of the jungle that some are trying to impose.

Our nations yearn for a safer and more secure, stable and prosperous world. Such a world will remain a fantasy as long as certain countries believe that they can go around, spreading chaos, creating troubles and imposing their will with full impunity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

My country, along with its steadfast people and its brave army, supported by our loyal allies, is marching steadily towards the goal of rooting out terrorism. The liberation of Aleppo and Palmyra, the lifting of the siege of Deir Ezzor and the eradication of terrorism from many parts of Syria prove that victory is now within reach.

I am confident that, when this unjust war on Syria is over, the Syrian Army will go down in history as the Army that heroically defeated, along with its supporting forces and its allies, the terrorists that came to Syria from many countries and received large support from the most powerful countries of the world, including arms, funding, training, access and political cover. Those terrorists have tried and failed to impose their backward ideology on a peaceful nation that has been for decades a cradle of civilization.

The annals of history will recall for generations to come the achievements of the Syrian people and their steadfastness in the face of a barbaric terrorist campaign and unjust measures, which have compounded their suffering and deprived them of their basic needs. The Syrian people have stood their ground, against all odds, because they knew that this was a war that sought to eliminate their country, and with it, their own existence. They are an example to follow by any people who might face, now or in the future, similar attempts to break their will and deny them their freedom and sovereignty.

Thank you Mr. President.

Featured image is from un.org.

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Below is the full transcript of Mr. RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the General Debate of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 23rd September 2017 

Mr. President,

First of all, allow me to congratulate Your Excellency Mr. Miroslav Lajcak on your election as the President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

I look forward to successful outcome of the present session under your able guidance.

Before going into the main points in my debate, I feel forced to make comments on the speech uttered 4 days ago by someone called the U.S. president that rendered this sacred UN arena tainted.

Since Trump uttered such reckless and violent words provoking the supreme dignity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) at this very platform, I think it is fair enough for me to make a response in the corresponding tone.

D.P.R. Korea denounces US President’s ‘reckless and violent’ comments (Source: United Nations)

During his 8 months in power, he has turned the White House into a noisy marketing place full of crackling sounds of abacus beads and now he has tried to turn the UN arena into a gangsters’ nest where money is respected and bloodshed is the order of the day.

The absurd reality that the person like Trump, a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency, the person who is chastised even by American people as “Commander in Grief, “Lyin King”, “President Evil” is holding the seat of the U.S. President, and the dangerous reality that the gambler who grew old using threats, frauds and all other schemes to acquire a patch of land holds the nuclear button; these are what constitute the gravest threat to the international peace and security today.

Due to his lacking of basic common knowledge and proper sentiment, he tried to insult the supreme dignity of my country by referring it to a rocket. By doing so, however, he committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.

None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission.

In case innocent lives of the U.S. are lost because of this suicide attack. Trump will be held totally responsible.

The respected supreme leader Comrade Kim Jong Un stated : as a man representing the DPRX and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.

Trump might not have been aware what is uttered from his mouth but we will make sure that he bears consequences far beyond his words, far beyond the scope of what he can handle even if he is ready to do so.

Mr. President,

Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet; this is the theme of the current session.

For all countries and people to enjoy peace and a decent life, it is imperative to realize genuine international justice before anything else.

Realizing international justice is one of the main missions of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates “to bring about by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace”.

Due to high-handedness and arbitrariness of one particular big power however, at present the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and other established basic principles of international relations are now wantonly ignored in the UN arena.

Abnormal acts of justifying and legitimizing high-handedness and arbitrariness and the acts of violating truth and justice are connived at or tolerated. The most rampant violation of international justice can be seen on the Korean peninsula.

Unprecedented acts of injustice such as imposing harsh sanctions on a victim for the reason that the victim chose to stand up to the offender are openly committed in the name of the UN.

The essence of the situation of the Korean peninsula is a confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S. where the former tries to defend its national dignity and sovereignty against the latter’s hostile policy and nuclear threats.

The United States is the country that first produced nuclear weapons and the only country that actually used it, massacring hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

It is the U.S. that threatened to use nuclear weapon against the DPRK during the Korean War in 1950s and first introduced nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula after the war.

The U.S. started large-scale joint military exercises against the DPRK during the Cold War period and further increased their scope and aggressive nature after the Cold War, staging the exercises several times a year by mobilizing more of nuclear strategic assets.

What else could be a bigger threat than the violent remarks such as pouring “fire and fury”, “total destruction” coming from the top authority of the world’s biggest nuclear power.

The very reason the DPRK had to possess nuclear weapons is because of the U.S. and it had to strengthen and develop its nuclear force onto the current level to cope with the U.S.

The U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threats have continued over 70 years and these have led the situation on the Korean peninsula to a touch-and-go point. But in the United Nations, unjustifiable resolutions which illegalize justice as injustice are randomly adopted due to the high-handedness of,the U.S.

The respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of,the DPRK said: International justice is never achieved by itself; it can only be achieved when the anti-imperialist independent countries are strong enough.

Unless true international justice is realized, the only valid philosophical principle is that force must be dealt with force and nuclear weapons of tyranny must be dealt with nuclear hammer of justice.

The possession of nuclear deterrence by the DPRK is a righteous self-defensive measure taken as an ultimate option, pursuant to this principle.

Recently, the DPRK has successfully conducted ICBM-mountable H-bomb test as a part of the efforts to achieve the goal of completing the state nuclear force.

With this, the DPRK has entered a phase of completing the state nuclear force in accordance with its line of simultaneous development of the economy and the nuclear force.

Our national nuclear force is, to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the U.S. and for preventing its military invasion; and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S.

Distinguished delegates of all countries attending this session are aware of the fact that the DPRK, unlike other nuclear weapon states, made public every time to the world the test process and its result in all stages of the development and advancement of its nuclear force.

Since the war deterrent for safeguarding peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the region is strengthened enough, the United States and its followers must now think twice before launching military provocation against the DPRK.

Although they talk about “fire and fury”, “total destruction” and whatever, every time they have to add various conditions such as “hopefully this will not be necessary”, “that is not our first option” and so on.

Accordingly, we are convinced that peace and security of the northeast Asia and the region as a whole have been as much consolidated.

We do not need anyone’s recognition of our status as a nuclear weapon state and our capability of nuclear strike.

The ICBM marked with sacred name of the DPRK flew over the universe above the endless blue sky, the warhead of our rocket left its trace on the blue waves of the Pacific Ocean and the tremendous explosion and vibration of the hydrogen bomb were recorded by this planet.

Although our decision to possess nuclear weapons was an inevitable option forced by the United States, it resulted in our country achieving the status of a nuclear weapon state and a rocket power, and this prestige has now become an immortal destiny of the DPRK.

Mr. President,

The failure of the United Nations in fulfilling its role in realizing genuine international justice is primarily related to the undemocratic old practices of the Security Council.

It is none other than the Security Council which disregards the UN Charter from the very first Article and only acts in pursuit of the will and interest of its permanent member states.

It is not incidental that the issue on reform of the Security Council had already been decided in 1992 by resolution 47/62 at the 47th Session of UNGA.

Since then, the UNSC reform issue has been discussed at UNGA every year during the past 25 years but without any progress at all. This fact itself clearly shows how deeply the current permanent members are obsessed in their anachronistic vested interests.

One permanent member alone can veto the general will of over 190 UN member states. Such an undemocratic UN organ is the Security Council.

At this forum, I would like to once again remind all the distinguished delegates of the unjust and unfair nature of the “resolutions” adopted by the Security Council against the DPRK.

First, the Security Council fabricated illegal and double-standard “resolutions” which only prohibit the satellite launch of the DPRK in violation of the international law prescribing peaceful use of outer space as a sovereign right of every state and without taking any issue with all other satellite launching countries.

Second, the Security Council cooked up illegal and double-standard “resolutions” which arbitrarily prohibit only the nuclear tests of the DPRK, although nuclear test strictly belongs to the sovereignty of every state since the international law on prohibition of nuclear test has not yet entered into force and there are countries that conducted many more nuclear tests.

Third, the Security Council condemned the development of nuclear weapons by the DPRK as a “threat to international peace and security” and, on that basis, fabricated illegal and double-standard “resolutions” in contravention of Article 51 of the UN Charter which recognizes the right to self-defense of every state and without calling into question the other countries that keep on developing latest nuclear weapons of various kinds.

The reason these unjust and unfair resolutions continue to be adopted is that the permanent members of the Security Council, all nuclear powers, have common interest in maintaining their monopolistic nuclear status.

The permanent members of UNSC are talking much about non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Viewed from the aspect of nuclear non-proliferation, the DPRK’s possession of nuclear weapons is a righteous self-defensive measure.

Actually, the international agreement on nuclear non-proliferation was possible because the nuclear weapon states had made the promise not to threaten non-nuclear weapon states with the nuclear weapons.

Article 10 of NPT stipulates that each Party shall have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that its supreme interests have been jeopardized. This Article recognizes that supreme interests ofstates are above the nuclear non-proliferation.

After all, the U.S. itself impeded the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation by not giving up the nuclear threat against the DPRK, but rather compelling the latter to possess nuclear weapons.

This eloquently shows that the anti-DPRK “resolutions” are not based on any established principles and that they are nothing less than the products of undemocratic old practice of the Security Council and the conspiracy and collusion of the forces obsessed only in their vested interests.

The U.S. claims that the DPRK’s possession of H-bomb and ICBM constitutes a “global threat” even at the UN arena. But such claim is a big lie which is just tantamount to the notorious “big lie” faked up by the U.S. in 2003 about the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction in order to invade that country.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a responsible nuclear weapon state.

We will take preventive measures by merciless preemptive action in case the U.S. and its vassal forces show any sign of conducting a kind of “decapitating” operation on our headquarters or military attack against our country. However, we do not have any intention at all to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the countries that do not join in the U.S. military actions against the DPRK.

The U.S. is resorting to an intrigue of condemning the DPRK’s nuclear possession as “a global threat” in order to find a pretext for coercing other UN member states into implementing the anti-DPRK “sanctions resolutions”.

This is a sneaky and selfish attempt by the U.S. to avoid its responsibility for the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula and to pursue its own interests by using and sacrificing other countries that have nothing to do with the issue.

The government of the DPRK made a request to the UN Secretariat that a forum of international law experts be organized to assess legal grounds and lawfulness of the UNSC “resolutions”, but we have not heard anything from the Secretariat for 9 months already.

Same is true of the fact that the DPRK made repeated requests to the UNSC to discuss the serious threat to international peace and security posed by the aggressive and provocative U.S.-south Korea large-scale joint military exercises, but these requests were never put on the UNSC agenda, rather turned down every time.

The UN Charter stipulates that the members of the United Nations accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.

If the “resolutions” on the DPRK adopted at the Security Council are truly lawful and fair, there will be no need that all U.S. ambassadors abroad and even the President and the State Secretary turn out to coerce other countries into implementing the “resolutions”. Furthermore, there will be no need for the U.S. to bring its stooges like south Korea and Japan into this.

The UN member states should not yield in to pressure of an individual big power in dealing with the UNSC resolutions but make an independent judgment on lawfulness, impartiality and morality of the resolutions and contribute to promoting reform of the UNSC by further raising their voices against high-handedness and arbitrariness.

Mr. President,

The U.S. had put sanctions against our country from the very first day of its foundation and the over 70-year long history of the DPRK can be said in a sense a history of struggle, persevering along the road of self-development under the harshest sanctions in the world.

Through such a prolonged and arduous struggle, now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force. It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the DPRK would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces.

The day will certainly come in near future when we settle all damages inflicted to our peaceful economic development and improvement of the people’s livelihood and all the sufferings imposed on our innocent women, children and elderly by the heinous and barbaric sanctions against our Republic.

The DPRK already organized a national damage investigation committee to make comprehensive study of total damages inflicted on our Republic by all kinds of sanctions.

This committee will thoroughly investigate and compile all physical and moral damages imposed upon the DPRK by the U.S., its followers and also those countries that submitted to the U.S. coercion.

When this racket of sanctions and pressure reaches a critical point, thus driving the Korean peninsula into an uncontrollable situation, investigation results of this committee will have a huge effect in holding those accountable.

Mr. President,

My delegation takes this opportunity to extend strong support to and solidarity with the Cuban government and people who are fighting to defend national sovereignty and realize international justice against the high-handedness, arbitrariness and unilateral embargo of the U.S.

We also express strong support to and solidarity with the government and people of Venezuela who are fighting to defend the national sovereignty and the cause of socialism.

The unjust and contemptible acts such as turning a blind eye to the heinous acts of Israel while condemning in every manner only the Syrian government fighting to protect its national sovereignty and security should not be tolerated any longer.

The DPRK government will certainly defend peace and security of the country with its powerful nuclear deterrence and also contribute to safeguarding world peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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A Risky Referendum for Kurdistan Underway in Iraq

September 25th, 2017 by Barbara Nimri Aziz

At least the combative and haughty Israeli prime minister is forthright: he supports a free and independent Kurdistan. Tomorrow’s vote by Iraqi Kurdish parties to secede from Iraq may well push the country into another war, a civil war. (Doubtless nothing would please Israel more.) The referendum is opposed by neighboring powers, but most significantly by the central government in Baghdad. It is a far more serious move that the well publicized Catalonian vote in Spain scheduled for October 1st, also more perilous than Middle East-watchers let on. Why the Iraqi referendum is receiving so little scrutiny, I don’t know.

Our revered English language “fake-news” establishment (e.g. The NYTimes and The Guardian, among them) is underplaying the significance of a Kurdistan secession, also denying American and British endorsement for it. In reality the US and UK are totally with Israel in promoting and supporting north Iraq’s independence. Iran’s and Turkey’s opposition is well known; Syria would also be in that camp although no one publicly listens to Syria these days. (Remember that US troops are closely collaborating with Syrian Kurdish forces in opposition to Damascus.)

Reading the buried articles on Iraqi Kurdish national aspirations, one would gather it’s a scheme conceived after the 2003 US invasion, and advanced only by Kurdish leaders. This is nonsense.

Although the British divided the large, strategic area occupied mainly by Kurdish-speaking people among Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey with their Sykes-Picot “Agreement” during World War I (part of the dissolution of the Turkish Empire), more recent plans by the imperial powers and Israel involve reconfiguring the modern Middle East into smaller and smaller pieces, starting with Iraqi Kurdistan. (Talk of Iraq’s division into three parts arose in 1991; similar scenarios are applied to Syria today.)

Public discussion of an independent Kurdistan has been ongoing since the launch of the US-led war on Iraq. Yes, Washington’s war on Iraq began not with the 2003 invasion but in 1991, with what’s called the Persian Gulf War (as if it was confined to that area). The ongoing assault included the murderous, destabilizing and destructive embargo war that continued from 1990 to 2003).

As for the Kurds, readers will recall images of tens of thousands of besieged families fleeing into the mountains ostensibly pursued by Saddam’s army. Without delay, humanitarian-motivated (sic) western powers rushed to the Kurds’ aid, using the opportunity of diversionary assaults in pursuit of Saddam and the Baathists, to essentially occupy the three Kurdish governates on behalf of that besieged minority. With Kurdish leaders’ wholehearted complicity, occupation was easily secured by a band of CIA agents, a low profile US military contingent working with an Israeli team, protected by the insipid northern “no-fly zone” (blessed, I believe, by the United Nations Security Council). The Kurdish region has remained semi-autonomous since then, sanctioned by a clause in the US-framed Iraqi constitution granting Kurds a degree of autonomy. Day by day, year by year, those three Kurdish governates have enjoyed protection, economic development, including a thriving tourist industry, freedom from any sanctions, and free to sell oil from its territory directly to foreign companies, all unquestioned thanks to its benevolent international image in human rights reports and the press.

During these 26 years, tensions between the central government and the KRG (Kurdish regional government) in Erbil have steadily heightened. Neither US occupiers nor other influential forces in Iraq have done anything to lessen the crisis. American Kurdish experts led by the intrepid former US diplomat Peter Galbraith have consistently argued for an independent Kurdistan.

Then there is Kirkuk: Iraq’s major city in the area lies outside that semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Until 1991 Kirkuk was overwhelmingly inhabited by Iraqi Turkmen people. Kirkuk and smaller nearby cities (e.g. Tel Afar) have been a Turkmen homeland for centuries, an area profoundly and unquestionably Iraqi in loyalty. You’d never know this from western press accounts which characterize Kirkuk simply as a center of oil deposits. I say Kirkuk was a largely Turkmen city because that has changed; since 1991 Iraqi Kurds have been steadfastly engaged driving Turkmen from their towns while repopulating them with Kurdish families. Although no mass killings of Turkmen have occurred as far as I am aware, there has been a major ethnic cleansing underway, turning Kirkuk from a major Turkmen society into a Kurdish one. All this has been in preparation for the inclusion of Kirkuk into the anticipated autonomous Kurdistan, a process known and condoned by US, Israel and the UK policy makers.

With the coming referendum, although the three regions (minus Kirkuk) enjoyed a marked degree of independence, despite successive Baghdad government attempts to limit this, Kirkuk now become the additional prize and a noted target in the coming referendum.

Baghdad opposes the referendum as strongly as Madrid rejects Catalonia’s independence vote. In recent weeks Madrid has taken startlingly firm action to thwart the regional vote. Baghdad’s position is as uncompromising; a federal court has declared the referendum illegal according to the Iraqi constitution, and Baghdad declared its readiness to use military action, at least to hold Kirkuk. Don’t believe news reports that the US and its allies oppose this referendum. Note the absence of any diplomatic effort by Washington to help reach a compromise and avoid another period of strife there.

All Iraqis must be feeling very nervous tonight.

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The Iran “Nuclear Deal” Leads to War, Not Peace

September 25th, 2017 by Tony Cartalucci

The so-called Iran “nuclear deal,” officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was hailed as “historic” when the United States among other nations became a signatory of it. Then US President Barack Obama, attempted to make convincing statements regarding America’s commitment to the deal.

However, America’s rhetoric compared to its actual actions diplomatically, militarily, and geopolitically told two different stories.

US Was Waging Proxy War with Iran when the Deal was Signed 

The deal was created in 2015, 4 full years since the United States engineered a destructive proxy war in Syria – one of Iran’s closest and most crucial regional allies. By 2015, the United States had already committed to direct military intervention in Syria, occupying Syrian territory, directly arming, funding, and providing air support for militants seizing Syrian territory, and even constructing military bases within Syria’s borders.

By 2015, the United States was revealed to have poured billions of dollars into arming militants ranging from Kurdish groups in Syria’s northeast, to militants aligned to Al Qaeda and even the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) in northern and southern Syria.

While US President Barack Obama posed as conciliatory toward Iran, the US was steeped deeply in not only a proxy war against Syria, but ultimately a proxy war aimed directly at Iran.

According to years of US policy papers, dismantling Iran’s allies in Syria and Lebanon were crucial prerequisites toward eventually undermining and overthrowing the government and political order in Iran itself.

In 2009, US corporate-financier sponsored geopolitical policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, would publish a 170 page report titled, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), in which it proposes several options, including having Israel attack Iran on Washington’s behalf. The report states (emphasis added):

…the Israelis may want U.S. help with a variety of things. Israel may be more willing to bear the risks of Iranian retaliation and international opprobrium than the United States is, but it is not invulnerable and may request certain commitments from the United States before it is ready to strike. For instance, the Israelis may want to hold off until they have a peace deal with Syria in hand (assuming that Jerusalem believes that one is within reach), which would help them mitigate blowback from Hizballah and potentially Hamas. Consequently, they might want Washington to push hard in mediating between Jerusalem and Damascus.

In hindsight, it is clear that no “peace deal” would be struck with Syria, and instead, the wholesale destruction of Syria would be orchestrated. Many of the proposals presented in the Brookings report in regards to triggering conflict and regime change in Iran have been instead used on Syria.

Betraying the “Nuclear Deal” is Stated US Policy 

Signing an agreement posing as rapprochement while simultaneously waging proxy war against a principle party of the agreement already indicates US intentions regarding Iran and America’s commitment to honoring the agreement.

Beyond US policymakers openly conspiring to weaken or altogether dismantle Iran’s regional allies before setting upon Iran directly, years before the JCPOA was signed, US policymakers pledged to propose then intentionally betray a “superb offer” to help portray Iran rather than the United States as both an irrational threat to global security and a nation bent on acquiring nuclear weapons for the “wrong reasons.”

The 2009 Brookings Institution report “Which Path to Persia?” would explicitly describe this ploy, stating:

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

Shortly before US President Barack Obama ended his second term in office, preparations were already underway to backtrack on the Iran deal. With US President Donald Trump now presiding over US foreign policy, the US is preparing to either entirely withdraw from the deal, or rewrite its conditions in such a fashion that Iran will be unable to accept it.

As the End Game Approaches in Syria 

While regime change and the total division and destruction of Syria would have been ideal for US policymakers who then seek to wage war upon Iran, Syria and its allies have paid a significant price in personnel and materiel.

Despite this, Syrian forces have retaken virtually all significant population centers across the nation, including Syria’s largest city Aleppo where reconstruction is already beginning. Syrian forces have also crossed and are currently establishing a stronghold east of the Euphrates River, further complicating the partitioning of Syrian territory as envisioned by US policymakers and their Kurdish and Arab proxies.

With Russian and Iranian forces deeply dug in on the ground in Syria, the likelihood of the US and its partners making any further headway against Syria is unlikely and faces a “now or never” moment in regards to pivoting the conflict and its regional resources toward Iran. Reconstruction in Syria and the loosening of sanctions versus Iran will only further impede possible future operations against Iran.

US Forfeits Illusion of Independent Israeli Foreign Policy 

Signaling increasing signs of desperation and aggression, the US has opened its first official military base in what has for all intents and purposes been for decades a “forward operating base” for Wall Street and Washington in the Middle East – Israel.

The Times of Israel in an article titled, “In first, US establishes permanent military base in Israel,” would note:

For the first time in history, the United States on Monday established an official, permanent military base in Israel: an air defense base in the heart of the Negev desert.

Dozens of US Air Force soldiers will call home the new base, located inside the Israeli Air Force’s Mashabim Air Base, west of the towns of Dimona and Yerucham. 

Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch, head of the IAF’s Aerial Defense Command, announced the establishment of the installation on Monday evening.

“It’s nothing short of historic,” he said. It demonstrates the “years-old alliance between the United States and the State of Israel.”

While it is indeed “historic,” it is also notable for the significant concession it represents. For decades Anglo-American interests benefited from the perception that Israel possessed its own aggressive, independent foreign policy. Maintaining this perception allowed the US and its Western allies to use Israel to carry out regional aggression while maintaining plausible deniability.

The aforementioned Brookings document specifically cited this as one of several possible means for provoking war with Iran – by having Israel appear to unilaterally attack Iran, with the US only joining in direct military intervention once Iran either committed to retaliation or a staged attack on Israel could be blamed on Iran.

With a permanent US military base on Israeli soil, plausible deniability and the illusion of an independent Israeli foreign policy vanishes completely. This may signal a much more blunt approach by Washington regarding any upcoming aggression against both Syria and Iran.

Regional Consolidation in Preparation for What? 

The US finds itself overtly consolidating its positions in the Middle East at a time when the global balance of power teeters dangerously close to irrevocably undoing American hegemony.

Preparing the Middle East for war with Iran has been a work-in-progress since the end of the Cold War. It is an agenda that has transcended multiple US presidencies and has included everything from US-backed terrorism in the form of organizations like Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), to US-backed color revolutions like the “Green Revolution” in 2009, to the current proxy war being waged against Syria and the ongoing diplomatic maneuvering surrounding the Iranian “nuclear deal.”

Radical shifts in US policy regarding Iran are not owed to new occupants in the White House, but rather the shifting geopolitical realities as the US declines and other nations incrementally rise upon the world stage. Today, the US has exhausted its international clout, repeatedly abused international mechanisms for conflict resolution, and is openly pursuing a war in Syria with the aid of militant groups internationally designated as terrorist organizations. As its ability to wage war against Ian behind a smokescreen of legitimacy dwindles, the likelihood of it openly carrying out an act of aggression increases.

US policymakers may hope that after consolidating its positions in the Middle East, it can carry out a single, sweeping act of military aggression Iran’s allies will be unable or unwilling to contest.

Desperate hegemons are dangerous hegemons.

Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

This article was originally published by New Eastern Outlook where all images were sourced.

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Video: Trump’s “Mein Kampf” Tirade

September 25th, 2017 by World Socialist Web Site

This incisive video produced by the World Socialist Website points to Trump’s criminal narrative at the UN, comparable to that of Adolph Hitler 

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President Donald Trump and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have voiced support for US companies developing Afghanistan’s vast trove of minerals, in what Trump sees as payment for the US’s role in the drawn out war.

The two leaders met in New York on Thursday, where they discussed how American companies can help “quickly develop Afghanistan’s rare earth mineral resources,” the White House said in a statement.

The White House said the two

“agreed that such initiatives would help American companies develop materials critical to national security while growing Afghanistan’s economy and creating new jobs in both countries, therefore defraying some of the costs of United States assistance as Afghans become more self-reliant.”

Trump has had his eyes on Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources as a way to cover the $117 billion cost of the war and reconstruction efforts since the US began bombing and occupying the country in 2001.

Reuters reports that Trump told advisors in June that the US should demand a share of Afghanistan’s minerals as a payment for US assistance given to the Afghan government.

In July, the New York Times reported that senior White House aides met with an executive from American Elements, which specialises in mineral extraction, to discuss the potential for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is home to vast deposits of gold, silver, platinum, coal, lithium, natural gas, uranium, tantalum and copper, among other minerals.

The US interest in Afghan resources predates Trump. The US Geological Survey reported in 2010 that Afghanistan has mineral deposits worth $1 trillion, which has been touted as the key to the country’s future.

A 2007 Pentagon memo cited by the New York Times described the country’s potential as being the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” A 2006 mineral resource map by the USGS also shows US knowledge of Afghan minerals.

What the country lacks is the suitable infrastructure to handle transportation of these minerals, as well as the resources to conduct updated surveys. Many smaller mines in the country are run by private entities whose profits are out of reach of the government. The country continues to fight an insurgency from the Taliban and other groups.

The US launched its war in Afghanistan in 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers led by Osama bin Laden. “Operation Enduring Freedom” was triggered when the Taliban, who had been in power since 1996, refused to hand Bin Laden over to the Americans.

In 2003, George W Bush turned his attention and military toward the invasion of Iraq. This allowed the Taliban and others to regain strength in Afghanistan. The number of US troops deployed to Afghanistan continued to increase until its peak in 2009, when 100,000 troops were sent to Afghanistan.

Although Bin Laden was killed in 2011 in Pakistan, the US presence in Afghanistan continues to this day, with troops training Afghan soldiers and fighting terrorist groups.

Featured image is from Afghan News Agency.

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In 1713-14, it took the troops of Spain’s Borbon monarchy 14 months of siege before taking Barcelona and ending Catalan self-rule. In September 2017, Catalonia is again under siege, this time from the central Spanish People’s Party (PP) government. Under prime minister Mariano Rajoy the Spanish state is concentrating all its firepower on stopping the Catalan government’s October 1 independence referendum. On that day, if this siege is successfully resisted, Catalan citizens will vote on whether “Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic.”

Since September 6, the day its parliament adopted its referendum law, Catalonia has experienced a “shock and awe” offensive aimed at forcing the pro-independence government of premier Carles Puigdemont to submit to the central Spanish administration. The adoption of the law by the parliamentary majority of 62 Together For The Yes (JxSí) and 10 People’s Unity List (CUP) MPs was the culmination of an eight-year process that has seen over one million people mobilize every Catalan National Day since 2012.

The stakes could not be higher. If the referendum takes place, the PP minority government in Madrid will suffer a lethal blow to its credibility, opening the way to a change of government in the Spanish state. It would also bring into view the prospect of finally overturning the sub-democratic regime that has been in place in Spain since the late 1970s, when the heirs of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco negotiated a flawed “transition to democracy” with the anti-dictatorship resistance.

By the same token, if the Rajoy government manages to stop October 1, it will be a setback not only for Catalan aspirations to sovereignty but also for all forces in Spain fighting for democratic rights and against austerity. The partial weakening of the “1978 regime” represented by the rise of anti-austerity party Podemos and its allies would be contained: the “constitutionalist” parties – the PP, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the hipster neoliberal outfit Citizens – would be strengthened.

Understanding of the stakes of the fight is increasingly reaching across the whole Spanish state, with left forces like Podemos and the older United Left, which had originally rejected October 1 as “not the referendum Catalonia needs,” now allying with pro-independence forces in the face of a legal and police offensive that amounts to a state of emergency in all but name.

The Fear Campaign

These stark possible outcomes to the conflict explain the ferocity of the Spanish government’s offensive. The Spanish Constitutional Court’s immediate decisions to suspend both the referendum law and the Law of Jurisdictional Transition (to apply in the case on a Yes win) have allowed Spanish prosecutor-general José Manuel Maza to unleash a judicial firestorm via regional Catalan prosecutors’ offices and the High Court of Justice of Catalonia. To date the main thrusts of the offensive have been to:

  • Charge those members of the Catalan parliament’s speakers’ panel who enables debate on the laws with disobeying a lawful instruction and perverting the course of justice;
  • Instruct the electoral commission appointed by the Catalan parliament first to cease all work on the referendum and two days later charging them with usurping public functions, disobedience and misuse of public funds;
  • Formally warn all MPs supporting the Catalan government and 700 senior public servants that any collaboration with the referendum will open them to charges of disobedience, perverting the course of justice and misuse of public funds;
  • Instruct the Catalan police, Spanish National Police, the paramilitary Civil Guard and municipal police forces to locate and confiscate all material related to the referendum;
  • Warn all private media that if they carry advertising material for October 1 they will be liable to prosecution and instructing the heads of Catalan public radio and TV not to carry advertising material for the referendum;
  • Advise owners of halls and public spaces that hosting any events connected with the referendum will open them to prosecution;
  • Have the Spanish postal service instruct its employees not to deliver any material connected to the referendum;
  • Order the closure of the web sites of the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and the Catalan Association of Municipalities and Shires (ACM) for facilitating collaboration with the referendum and then order the closure of any web site in any way connected with October 1; and
  • Open proceedings against the 712 Catalan mayors (out of 948) who have indicated that their councils will make premises available – as per normal – for the referendum. The mayors are to be summoned to regional prosecutor’s offices, where they will face charges of disobeying a lawful instruction, perversion of the course of justice and misuse of public funds (which carries a jail sentence). The Catalan police have been ordered to arrest any mayor who fails his or her appointment with the prosecutor.

Most seriously of all, in the face of a Catalan government refusal to continue to supply the central Spanish government with a weekly report of its expenditures, the Spanish Council of Ministers (cabinet) decided on September 15 to take direct control of all payments to Catalonia’s creditors, effectively ending its financial autonomy.

Police actions in support of this offensive have so far included a Civil Guard raid on the newspaper El Vallenc (with the editor charged with disobedience, perverting the course of justice and misuse of public funds) and the National Police preventing the anti-capitalist CUP from reading a pro-independence manifesto in Valencia. On September 14, Dolors Sabater, the mayoress of Badalona, Catalonia’s third largest city which is run by a left coalition including pro-independence and pro-sovereignty forces, denounced the Spanish government delegation in Barcelona for making threatening telephone calls to council employees.

At the time of writing (September 17), the Civil Guard claims to have confiscated 1.3 million posters from printeries in Catalonia, while municipal police has been engaged in low-intensity harassment of Yes campaign stalls. However, the main meetings of the referendum campaign, including the Yes case’s 13,000-strong launch in the southern industrial city of Tarragona, have so far gone ahead without impediment.

The most potentially damaging action to date was the Civil Guard’s closing of the referendum web site. When this was done on September 13 the Catalan government had two replacement sites on line immediately. These and others were then closed down by September 15, but on September 16 premier Puigdemont tweeted instructions on how to access the referendum web site via proxy servers invulnerable to against Civil Guard interference.

Symptomatic of the rising concern the Catalan rebellion is causing in the establishment was the September 12 decision of a Madrid judge to ban a meeting on the Catalan right to decide from taking place on Madrid Council premises: the grounds were that “the general interests of the citizens precludes the realization of public events in favour of an illegal referendum.” The organizers of the meeting, the platform Madrid for the Right to Decide, then rescheduled the meeting to another location. When it was finally held on September 16, the crowd overflowed the theatre and filled the nearby street.

At the time of writing, over 60,000 people potentially face charges for associating themselves with the “illegal” referendum and the rumours are of even more drastic action to come. The PP is supposedly moving towards establishing the legal and political grounds for suspending the Catalan government under article 155 of the Spanish Constitution; 4000 extra National Police are ready to be deployed; the Civil Guard is bringing extra agents into Catalonia – such is the daily dose of psychological warfare to which Catalans are being exposed.

In a September 17 interview with the web-based daily VilaWeb premier Puigdemont described how far he thought the Spanish government’s intervention had come:

“[T]he Spanish government is near as well implementing articles 116 [covering conditions for declaring states of emergency or siege] and 155 without having to declare them. It is looking for the practical impact of a state of emergency – suspension of public events, confiscation of informative material, intimidation of the means of communication, creation of a generalised climate of persecution of all mayors…”

On September 16, in an address to the PP faithful in Barcelona, prime minister Rajoy warned:

“Don’t force us to go to a point that we don’t want to arrive at.”

Who are the Authoritarians?

The blatant goal of the central government campaign has been to create a climate of fear and panic: the October 1 referendum is a political Chernobyl – if you even touch it you won’t only go to jail, you´ll lose all your assets – like former Catalan premier Artur Mas and three of his ministers, who stand to lose five million euros for allowing a September 9, 2014 “participatory process” (9N) to go ahead in the face of a court ban (over 2.3 million of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters took part).

Central government ministers have personally weighed into this campaign. On September 12, finance minister Cristobal Montoro said that “nobody’s going to use a euro of public money against the law: it didn’t happen on November 9, and it won’t happen on October 1, unless someone wants to put their assets at risk.” On September 13, Rajoy announced:

“I say to everyone who understands that the government has to carry out its obligation, that we’re going to do that, that they needn’t worry. If anyone is asked to staff a voting centre, don’t go because there can’t be a referendum and it would be an absolutely illegal act.”

With this statement Rajoy unwittingly betrayed his government’s double approach: to stop the referendum by any and every means that don’t entail an intolerable political cost (like sending in the army) and, if that’s finally not possible, to at least drive participation in the referendum to as low a point as possible.

At the core of the PP approach is the big lie that the Spanish government has no choice but to have the law obeyed because a Scottish-style negotiated referendum was always impossible under the Spanish constitution. However, as many Spanish jurists have pointed out, the Constitution provides mechanisms for consultations of a part of the population of the Spanish state – the PP chose not to have one in the Catalan case because it has always seen greater political gain in cultivating anti-Catalanism in the rest of Spain.

Having made that choice, the PP has then had no option but to paint and themselves as the staunch and principled upholders of constitutionality against the authoritarian and anti-democratic Catalan outlaws “abducted” (term of prosecutor-general Maza) by separatism. Matters have reached the bizarre point where some PPers have accused the Catalan government of having Nazi and Francoist tendencies.

The Fight to Adopt the Referendum Law

It was the need to paint the Catalan movement in these black terms that drove the tactics of the PP and the other unionist parties in the September 6 and 7 sessions of the Catalan parliament that adopted the new laws. Spanish television channels were able to broadcast two days of filibustering, procedural haggling and theatrical outrage from the PP, Citizens , the Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC) and even from a fraction of the left coalition Catalonia Yes We Can (CSQEP).

It could not have been otherwise. In order to get a referendum in Catalonia in the face of the Spanish institutional refusal to negotiate (18 rejections since 2012), the Catalan parliamentary majority had no choice but to develop its own referendum bill. It was inevitable that this would be met with filibustering and procedural antics aimed at bogging down its adoption. To get it through parliament without giving the opposition the chance to delay its implementation through court appeals, the majority also had to use a fast track procedural provision.

The majority also had to shun the advice of the parliamentary speakership panel’s two legal advisers – who pointed out the bill’s unconstitutionality in terms of Spanish law – and to refuse to allow parliament to seek an opinion from the Catalan Council of Statutory Guarantees, which would also have been certain to point out that incompatibility. CQSEP MP Joan Coscubiela described this approach as “unprecedentedly anti-democratic.”

However, premier Puigdemont justified it in these words:

“They’ll get us lost talking about public servants, attorneys-at-law, the Council of Guarantees… However, what is important are the citizens. And they are demanding respect for fundamental rights, for human rights, including the right to self-determination.”

In the two days of acrimonious debate, the PP and Citizens speakers made a point of speaking in Spanish, so that their message could be understood by people in the rest of Spain (the interventions of the majority, done in Catalan, would have been mainly lost on them). The supposedly undemocratic behavior of the speakership panel majority and of the speaker Carme Forcadell could thereby more readily become an “accepted truth” for Spanish public opinion: this impression would have hopefully been reinforced for the PP, Citizens and the PSC by their decision to walk out of the chamber when the final vote was taken on both pieces of legislation.

The conservative Madrid media – sworn enemy of the right to self-determination and even of acknowledging Spain’s plurinational reality – described the adoption of the new laws as “democracy kidnapped” (La Razón) and a “coup d’etat” (ABC). The Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, in charge of the PP government’s operations against Catalonia, said: “I’ve never felt such shame on behalf of democracy in my life.”

Prime minister Rajoy then used the supposedly outrageous behavior of the Catalan parliament to justify his government’s legal carpet bombing. He warned on September 13:

“This was an anti-democratic act, a blow against democracy. And in Spain the law gets carried out because if not it would mean that the will of the majority of citizens counts for nothing.”

The Battle for Participation

How has the Catalan government reacted to this aggression?

On the one hand by insisting that all logistics are in place for October 1, that the referendum will be going ahead regardless of the legal and constitutional barrage, and that people should be able to vote at their usual polling station. In cases where local councils refuse to make these available, the Catalan government will make its own premises available as voting centres. At the September 14 launch of the Yes campaign, Puigdemont said: “Does anyone really believe we won’t be voting on October 1? What sort of people do they think we are?”

Such confidence became more plausible earlier on the same day, when the Catalan government and Barcelona Council announced they had reached an agreement on providing voting centres in the Barcelona area. This was an important gain in the critical battle for participation, because it puts Catalonia’s biggest municipality on the side of October 1. Ada Colau, the Barcelona mayoress who had come in for criticism for delaying a decision on the issue, came to the agreement with the government despite advice from the council’s legal service that it would potentially open the administration to prosecution.

On September 16, when the mayors potentially facing charges demonstrated in central Barcelona, Colau was there to greet them on behalf of Barcelona Council. She said:

“This is not about independence. They will find an entire people against them in defence of the rights that have cost so much to win.”

Colau’s position reflected a shift in Catalonia’s non-independence left towards participating in October 1, even while still regarding it as “not the referendum Catalonia needs” but mobilization against the Rajoy government and for a Catalan right to decide. This is because a considerable part of its support – mainly but not only working people from other parts of Spain who have immigrated to Catalonia – do not support a unilateral referendum in which the independence case is likely to win. In the world of the “commons” – the catch-all term for Barcelona en Comú (running Barcelona Council), En Comú Podem (largest Catalan force in the Spanish parliament) and Catalunya en Comú (grouping together Barcelona en Comú and the “old left” forces Initiative for Catalonia-Greens, United and Alternative Left and the green party Equo) – the October 1 referendum had intensified differences over how to relate to a unilateral consultation.

However, in the atmosphere of increasing aggression from the Rajoy government a shift towards greater support for October 1 showed in the results of Catalunya en Comú’s membership ballot on whether to participate. The result was 59.39% for to 41.61% against, with 44% of the membership taking part. According to its coordinator Xavier Domènech, Catalunya en Comú will “stage events denouncing the repression and affirming the rights of the Catalans … If, finally, there are ballot boxes, we’ll be going to vote.” This was a move away from an initial orientation that focused more on demanding guarantees from the Catalan government than on how Catalunya en Comú might be able to intervene most fruitfully in the referendum process.

It also represented a defeat for those forces in the party that had called for a boycott of October 1, as organized around the manifesto “Don’t Participate or Call for Participation in the October 1 Referendum.” The shift also came with the effective dropping of their call by Pablo Iglesias and Alberto Garzón, leaders at the level of the Spanish state of Podemos and the United Left, for the commons not to participate.

Nevertheless, despite the Catalunya en Comú membership ballot result certain mayors within the universe of the commons will still not be making their councils premises available for the referendum, the main example being the Initiative For Catalonia mayor of the greater Barcelona industrial town El Prat de Llobregat. In other councils where councilors from the commons are part of the government – especially in partnership with ERC – they have already voted to make premises available on October 1.

As for the PSC, it is driving the campaign among working-class voters to ensure that October 1 is a low turnout flop if it eventually goes ahead. In the two provincial capitals run by the Catalan social democracy (Lleida and Tarragona) councils have refused to make premises available despite protests demanding that they do. The PSC has denounced the supposed intimidation these demonstrations represent. In others towns it controls, such as the outer Barcelona industrial city of Santa Colomer de Gramanet, the PSC has refused to make council premises available for meetings on the referendum.

The party has started an active boycott campaign, launching a manifesto called “On the illegal ‘referendum’ of October 1.” There are signs that this may be beginning to have some effect: all polls previous to September 17 showed around 50% of PSC supporters prepared to vote in the referendum. This figure has fallen in the latest Opinòmetre poll to 35%.

However, even as it tries to wreck October 1 and supports all legal activity to stop it, the PSC has to try to appear as not simply the running dog of the PP. A sign that it does not want to cut all ties with forces supporting the referendum was a September 10 statement by PSOE federal secretary Pedro Sánchez to the effect that, even if Barcelona Council provided voting centres for the referendum, he did not think the PSC should break its governing alliance with Ada Colau’s party (Barcelona en Comú).

Conclusion

If morale and commitment were enough to win on October 1, the victory would already be secure. In the days since the 712 mayors were summoned to appear before the prosecutors, 38 more have signed up to make their council’s premises available for the referendum. To ensure the proper staffing of voting stations, 5000 volunteers were needed: 47,000 have put their name down to help (13,000 more than for 9N).

Nonetheless, the Rajoy government simply cannot afford to lose this fight. Backed by the monarchy, big business, the establishment media, three of the four major Spanish parties and the four main associations of judges, it still remains confident in its capacity to cripple the Puigdemont government.

The deciding factors will be: whether the Puigdemont government is organized enough to ward off Madrid’s sustained attack on the logistics of October 1; whether the mass of Catalan supporters of independence – and of basic democratic rights – are strong enough to make the Rajoy government pay as high a political price as possible for each new act of aggression; and whether, in the case that the referendum goes ahead, the enormous media campaign to denigrate it as a “fraud” fails to reduce participation.

At the time of writing the political cost of the Rajoy government’s aggression is increasing, domestically and internationally. For example, while its legal aggression has received no explicit support from beyond the borders of the Spanish state, support for a negotiated referendum has come from the Scottish government and from 17 Danish parliamentarians representing seven different parties.

Within Catalonia, the Civil Guard’s confiscation of posters is being answered with the reproduction on home printers of posters downloaded from improvised web sites and then pasted up by teams of volunteers from the Catalan mass organizations. The September 16-17 weekend meetings on the referendum went ahead without police interference and were bigger than all expectations (and the halls in which they were supposed to fit). On September 17, 30,000 marched in Bilbao (in the Basque Country) in support of Catalonia’s referendum.

The campaign for October 1 is increasingly taking the form of a peaceful insurrection for democracy against the authoritarian Spanish state – all democrats will be doing what they can to help it prevail.

Dick Nichols is Green Left Weekly’s European correspondent, based in Barcelona. An initial version of this article has appeared on its web site. This article first published on the Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal website.

Featured image is from the author.

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Actor-director Rob Reiner and actor Morgan Freeman have teamed up with a sordid crowd of extreme right-wingers to push the McCarthyite anti-Russia campaign.

Reiner, a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser and fervent Hillary Clinton supporter, is a member of the Advisory Board of a new organization, the “Committee to Investigate Russia,” which describes itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit” organization “helping Americans understand the gravity of Russia’s continuing attacks on democracy.”

As part of this foul outfit’s launching, Freeman narrates a two-minute video, which begins:

“We have been attacked. We are… at war.”

Freeman asks his viewers to imagine a movie script in which a former KGB spy, “angry at the collapse of his motherland, plots a course for revenge.” After becoming president, “he sets his sights on his sworn enemy: the United States.”

Freeman goes on:

“And like the true KGB spy he is, he secretly uses cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world. Using social media to spread propaganda and false information, he convinces people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors… Vladimir Putin is that spy, and this is no movie script.”

The actor then calls on President Donald Trump to “tell us the truth”—that during the 2016 election “we came under attack by the Russian government.”

Invoking the language of Cold War hawks, Freeman informs his viewers that the “free world is counting on us for leadership.” He concludes:

“For 241 years, our democracy has been a shining example to the world of what we can all aspire to. And we owe it to the brave people who have fought and died to protect this great nation and save democracy.”

A number of out-and-out reactionaries sit alongside Reiner on the Advisory Board of the Committee to Investigate Russia. Prominent among these is James Clapper, who, as Director of National Intelligence (2010-17), presided over agencies carrying out espionage and intrigue against governments and corporations internationally. Clapper lied to Congress about the massive and illegal NSA spying on US citizens.

Max Boot

Another illustrious member of the Board is Max Boot, the Russian-born anti-communist fanatic and proponent of US imperialist intervention everywhere. A strident supporter of George W. Bush and the “war on terror,” Boot supported the neo-colonial invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Board is rounded out by Norman Ornstein of the ultra-right American Enterprise Institute and right-wing author and former talk show host Charles Sykes, notorious for his vicious attacks on the working class and poor in the guise of opposition to the “culture of entitlement.” Another individual publicly associated with the committee is David Frum, right-wing columnist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, allegedly responsible for the “Axis of Evil” claim in the latter’s 2002 State of the Union address.

Who is this sinister crowd to demand an “investigation” into Russia, or anyone else? Clapper, Boot and Frum, to begin with, should be investigated and prosecuted for carrying out or propagandizing in support of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The claims in the committee’s video about the leadership of the “free world” provided by America, whose “democracy has been a shining example to the world of what we can all aspire to,” belong under the heading of the Hitlerian big lie. Leaving aside the fact that some of Freeman’s ancestors were slaves and taking into account only the past half-century or so, US imperialism has invaded country after country on the basis of lies (as Ken Burns’ documentary “The Vietnam War” is currently detailing), resulting in the deaths of millions of human beings.

No other elite on the face of the planet has the bloody record of the American ruling class. The Pentagon, the CIA and the entire gigantic military-intelligence apparatus do nothing on a 24-hour basis except conspire against the democratic rights of people around the world.

Nevertheless, the Committee to Investigate Russia’s mission statement reads,

“On January 6, 2017, America’s intelligence agencies shared a declassified report concluding Russia had attacked our nation with the express goal of disrupting the presidential election and ultimately weakening our democracy. To this day, that destabilizing effort continues.”

That’s it! On the basis of this bald assertion, the committee declares that

“We have been attacked. We are at war.”

As the WSWS noted in January, the cited report consists of unsupported conclusions by the CIA, FBI and NSA, “using the phrase ‘we assess’ 19 times without a single fact to demonstrate Russian involvement… One is left with the bare assertion: we, the intelligence community, have made a judgment, and you, the American people, must take it on faith.”

James Clapper

As for the “shining example” of American democracy at home, Freeman and Reiner are doing the bidding of Clapper, who is directly responsible for shredding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and establishing a surveillance police state structure that would be the envy of Orwell’s Big Brother.

Moreover, the hacked Democratic Party emails leaked by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election—attributed without any evidence to the machinations of Putin—contained true, not fake, information, which has not been contested by the Democrats or Clinton, about the anti-democratic efforts of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to sabotage the challenge by Bernie Sanders, as well as the transcripts of Clinton’s fawning speeches to Wall Street, for which she received millions in speaking fees (i.e., bribes).

Such is the manipulated and anti-democratic character of a political system that enforces the monopoly of two right-wing capitalist parties that are controlled top to bottom by a financial oligarchy.

Have Reiner and Freeman thought about what an actual war with nuclear-armed Russia would mean? Tens of millions of dead, entire cities, regions or perhaps continents made uninhabitable, civilization thrown back decades or centuries. What incredible and contemptible irresponsibility!

It took right-winger Tucker Carlson of Fox News, of all people, to point out to Reiner some of the implications of his pro-war propaganda. On Carlson’s program Thursday, the host asked the actor-director, “How would you respond if President Trump took you seriously and sent the B-52s to St. Petersburg or blockaded the Gulf of Finland? Would you support that?”

Reiner responded disingenuously that

“We’re not advocating going to war… or a traditional war with Russia… When we say we are at war, we are talking about a cyber war.” Carlson noted that the video “doesn’t make that clear… Morgan Freeman who everyone trusts… [says] we’re at war.”

Foreign policy divisions are a major factor driving the current anti-Russia campaign. Clapper and company view Russia as an obstacle to Washington’s drive for world hegemony and consider the Trump administration too soft or too distracted in this regard.

But for figures like Reiner and Freeman, looming larger is the social situation in the US and their dread of a popular radicalization. Their repugnant efforts coincide with the publication of Hillary Clinton’s book, Google’s efforts at censorship of left-wing websites and the ever more frequent cries heard in the American media and political establishment that “fake news,” which increasingly means anti-establishment opinion, is the source of discontent and social instability in the US.

Thus, the preposterous assertion in Freeman’s video that Putin, “using social media to spread propaganda and false information,” has convinced “people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors.”

Reiner and Freeman, wealthy celebrities each reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, are intervening to encourage trust in a media and political establishment that is utterly discredited in the eyes of vast layers of the American and world population.

For decades, Reiner has been a big money-raiser for the Democrats in Hollywood. He strenuously campaigned for Clinton in the last election cycle. In November 2015, for instance, Reiner and his wife held a fundraiser at their home in the affluent Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

“Clinton attended a small reception in the Reiners’ entry parlor and later spoke in the garden, with about 350 in attendance,” according to Variety.

The event, “with tickets starting at $500, was billed as a conversation with Clinton.” The account continued:

“Those who donated $2,700 got a photo with Clinton, and those who raised $27,000 got access to the host reception.”

During the campaign, Reiner attributed the persistence of support for Trump to the racism of white working class males. Speaking of such support, he told the Hollywood Reporter in September 2016,

“Look at the demographics: It’s mostly white males who don’t have college degrees. And, you know, that’s Archie [Bunker]. Then there’s also a very serious strain of racism that runs through his followers…”

This is the voice of someone a thousand miles from the economic and social suffering of broad layers of the American population.

Rob Reiner (Source: Neil Grabowsky/Montclair Film Festival)

That Reiner is participating in the McCarthyite anti-Russian campaign has an ironic element. His father, Carl Reiner, veteran comedian, actor and director, had a brush with the anti-communist witch-hunts in the 1950s and even early 1960s.

The elder Reiner, now 95, had sufficient contact with left-wing figures in Hollywood during the time he was writing for and performing on Sid Caesar’s popular television program Your Show of Shows to warrant a visit from two FBI agents in 1954. They inquired about his voting habits and asked, according to Reiner, “Do you know any communists?”

Later, Reiner served as a “front”—someone who took public credit for the writing efforts of figures who were officially unemployable because of their association with the Communist Party—for blacklisted writer Frank Tarloff when Reiner was working on the Dick Van Dyke Show in the early 1960s.

Now his son is taking part in this vile sequel to the McCarthyite anti-Russian hysteria of the 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s.

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Nuclear Plants Plus Hurricanes: Disasters Waiting to Happen

September 25th, 2017 by Harvey Wasserman

Featured image: St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant at Port St. Lucie, Florida (Source: The Progressive)

Although the mainstream media said next to nothing about it, independent experts have made it clear that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma threatened six U.S. nuclear plants with major destruction, and therefore all of us with apocalyptic disaster. It is a danger that remains for the inevitable hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters yet to come.

During Harvey and Irma, six holdovers from a dying reactor industry—two on the Gulf Coast at South Texas, two at Key Largo and two more north of Miami at Port St. Lucie—were under severe threat of catastrophic failure. All of them rely on off-site power systems that were extremely vulnerable throughout the storms. At St. Lucie Unit One, an NRC official reported a salt buildup on electrical equipment requiring a power downgrade in the midst of the storm.

Loss of backup electricity was at the core of the 2011 catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan when the tsunami there and ensuing flood shorted out critical systems. The reactor cores could not be cooled. Three melted. Their cores have yet to be found. Water pouring over them flooded into the Pacific, carrying away unprecedented quantities of cesium and other radioactive isotopes. In 2015, scientists detected radioactive contamination from Fukushima along the coast near British Columbia and California.

Four of six Fukushima Daichi reactors suffered hydrogen explosions, releasing radioactive fallout far in excess of what came down after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Extreme danger still surrounds Fukushima’s highly radioactive fuel pools, which are in varied stages of ruin.

“In addition to reactors, which at least are within containment structures, high-level radioactive waste storage pools are not within containment, and are also mega-catastrophes waiting to happen, as in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane,” says Kevin Kamps of the activist group Beyond Nuclear.

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew paralyzed fire protection systems at Florida’s Turkey Point and so severely damaged a 350-foot-high tower it had to be demolished. The eye of that storm went directly over the reactor, sweeping away support buildings valued at $100 million or more.

There’s no reason to rule out a future storm negating fire protection systems, flinging airborne debris into critical support buildings, killing off-site backup power, and more.

As during Andrew, the owners of the nuclear plants under assault from Harvey and Irma had an interest in dragging their feet on timely shut-downs. Because they are not liable for downwind damage done in a major disaster, the utilities can profit by keeping the reactors operating as long as they can, despite the obvious public danger.

Viable evacuation plans are a legal requirement for continued reactor operation. But such planning has been a major bone of contention, prompting prolonged court battles at Seabrook, New Hampshire, and playing a critical role in the shutdown of the Shoreham reactor on Long Island. After a 1986 earthquake damaged the Perry reactor in Ohio, then-Governor Richard Celeste sued to delay issuance of the plant’s operating license. A state commission later concluded evacuation during a disaster there was not possible. After Andrew, nuclear opponents like Greenpeace questioned the right of the plant to continue operating in light of what could occur during a hurricane.

Throughout the world, some 430 reactors are in various stages of vulnerability to natural disaster, including ninety-nine in the United States. Numerous nuclear plants have already been damaged by earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, and floods. The complete blackout of any serious discussion of what Harvey and Irma threatened to do to these six Texas and Florida reactors is cause for deep concern.

Harvey Wasserman’s California Solartopia show airs at KPFK-FM in Los Angeles; his Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at prn.fm. He is the author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and co-author of Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

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Is Health Care a Commodity or Right?

September 25th, 2017 by Margaret Flowers

With just a week left before Congress’ budget reconciliation process ends, the Senate is once again peddling a poorly-thought out plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If Senators vote before the September 30 deadline, they only need 50 votes instead of the filibuster-proof 60 votes to pass amendments. And once again, people are rising up in opposition to the plan, making it unpopular and unlikely to pass.

At the same time, support for a National Improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system is increasing and there are bills in both the House and Senate with record numbers of co-sponsors. Will the United States finally join the long list of countries that provide healthcare to everyone?

Overall, it is a time to be optimistic. The movement for National Improved Medicare for All has made great strides this year. Whether we succeed still hangs in the balance. We discuss what it will take to win and how to proceed.

Join Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE) , a campaign for National Improved Medicare for All.

First, Some History

Efforts to create a national health insurance have existed in the United States for the past 100 years. Health historian, David Barton Smith, writes (in a draft chapter) that the fundamental struggle in the US has been over the question of whether health care is a commodity that belongs in a market or whether it is a basic necessity that requires the protection of government so that it is universal. Smith breaks up the past one hundred years into five phases and argues that in each phase, compromises were made that failed because they did not meet the fundamental criteria of covering everyone and achieving effective governmental oversight. He refers to these compromises as “more palatable approaches” that were considered to be politically feasible, but each “self-destructed.”

These failures, including the most recent ACA, have driven health care deeper into the pockets of private industry from the provision of medical services to the the production and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Doctors are turning their practices over to large institutions, “going corporate,” in order to have the negotiating power to simply exist in this environment. Mergers by health insurers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have been acts of desperation, as each sector fights for control. But the bottom line in this fight is profit for a few, not health for the many, and so it is the public who suffers. Dr. Adam Gaffney traces and explains this trend from the 1940s to the present in “The Neo-liberal Turn in American Health Care.”

Make no mistake, currently, in the United States, health care is a commodity, and the profiteers are going wild. Since passage of the ACA, major health insurance company stock values have quadrupled. And they are never satisfied. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are discussing a “bipartisan approach,” as outlined by the Center for American Progress, which is funded by health industry lobbyists, to fix the healthcare system. Their plan is to give billions of more dollars to the industry to encourage it to cover our healthcare needs. They refer to this as “stabilizing the market.”

Any person who says that health care is a right or basic necessity but supports keeping the existing market-based structure is either confused or lying. The market model of health care is a failure. Even Fareed Zakaria, conservative host of CNN, understands this.

This history is important because the elites in power are working to maintain their grip on the system. Incrementalists were out in full force after the failure of repeal attempts this summer. Writers who claim to be progressives argued that those who want National Improved Medicare for All are asking for too much, that it is just not politically feasible and that we must compromise. But what they might consider to be doable won’t solve the healthcare crisis.

Incremental steps that were taken in the past did not succeed because they failed to meet the basic requirements of being both universal and properly overseen by the government. This is why we say that the smallest incremental step that we can take in the US is to create a National Improved Medicare for All, a universal publicly-funded healthcare system that relegates private insurers to a supplemental role to provide extras that the system does not cover. Beyond that, there will still be a lot to do to make sure everyone has their healthcare needs met.

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National Improved Medicare for All is on the table

A victory this year is that there are bills in the House and Senate that outline a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system, and they have record numbers of co-sponsors. HR 676 is considered the ‘gold standard’. It has been introduced every session since 2003 and it has broad support from the single payer healthcare movement. It would truly treat health care as a public necessity and not a commodity.

Under HR 676, all people living in the US would be included in the system, there would be free choice of health professional, the coverage would be comprehensive and care would be provided as needed without financial barriers. HR 676 would create a publicly-financed not-for-profit healthcare system. It currently has 119 co-sponsors, all Democrats, plus Rep. John Conyers, who introduced it.

S 1804 is the Medicare for All Act in the Senate that was introduced on September 13 of this year by Senator Sanders with 16 co-sponsors, all Democrats. It has strengths and similarities to HR 676 as well as weaknesses. Its strengths are that it endeavors to achieve a universal Medicare for All system with more comprehensive coverage than what most people have now. It has strong language protecting women’s reproductive rights and it removes most co-pays and deductibles.

The weaknesses of S 1804 prevent it from fully transforming our healthcare system to a public service. Investor-owned facilities are permitted to continue to operate within the system and budgetary controls that might restrain them were excluded from the bill. Another weakness is the exclusion of long term care and keeping it in Medicaid, which forces people and their families to live in poverty to receive benefits.

Perhaps one of the greatest concerns about S 1804 is the long transition period. Most universal systems are started at once – on a certain date everyone is in the system. This is how we did Medicare as a totally new system in 1965 before we had computers. The delayed implementation period over four years is such a complex transition that there are concerns it will proceed poorly and support for a universal healthcare system will disappear before it is complete. With complexity, comes greater costs. HR 676 would start all at once, which would not only allow the savings needed to cover everyone but would also put us all in the same boat so that we all have an interest to fix any problems that arise.

We created a chart comparing HR 676 and S 1804 and a chart outlining the transition for S 1804.

Jim Kavanaugh of The Polemicist argues that S 1804 may actually be a “Trojan Horse” for the Democrat’s favored proposal, a public insurance they refer to as a ‘public option’ being added to the current mix. We call the ‘public option’ a “Profiteer’s Option” because it will serve as a relief valve for private insurers to jettison people who need care.

Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE), a campaign of Popular Resistance, sent a letter to Sanders before he introduced his bill urging him not to compromise from the start. Thank you to all of you who wrote to his office.

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Next Steps

Winning the fight for a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system is possible. It will take preparation and hard work. Our opponents are those who profit from the current healthcare system, such as the pharmaceutical companies behind the opioid epidemic, those who are ideologically opposed to public safety nets, the commercial media, as Yves Smith describes, and legislators from both major parties, even those who claim to be progressive, because our political system is dominated by Wall Street. We can’t be fooled by progressive veneers. President Obama’s ACA was written by and for the medical industrial complex to enrich the few, and he is already receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars for Wall Street speeches.

We counter our opponents through the principals of I.C.U.:

I =Independence – we must be independent of political parties and willing to pressure all members of Congress, the White House and federal institutions to achieve the healthcare system we need. We cannot attach this movement to any political party or politician’s agenda. To have lasting success, this needs to be a multi-partisan effort on the movement’s terms. If one party or person takes ownership, then the issue can become a political football, as the ACA has become.

C = Clarity – we must educate ourselves and others about basic health policy so that we understand what elements are required for the system to meet our goals and our needs. We will be the watchdogs for the system to make it the highest quality system it can be. This includes understanding which proposals are insufficient too, such as the much-promoted public option and lowering the age of Medicare.

U = Uncompromising – we must stay strong and united around the basics that we need to achieve for the National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system to function. We are often told that politics involves compromise, but some compromises undermine our goal. Movements for social transformation have always been told they are asking for too much. We are asking for what many other countries have and what we are already spending enough money to have – a healthcare system that is universal high quality and comprehensive. We spend more than twice per person per year what other countries spend that have achieved this. For those who say we should have anything less than a universal system, we ask: who should be left out?

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The People will Win Improved Medicare for All

Our goal for the HOPE campaign is to achieve National Improved Medicare for All. We provide the tools and information you need to accomplish this. Sign up for HOPE here.

People across the country are organizing teach-ins and movie nights, doing outreach in their communities, attending town halls and meeting with their members of Congress. We urge you to join the effort and join the monthly education and organizing national calls.

When we win the fight for a universal healthcare system, it will represent a political sea change in the US that will bring solidarity and empowerment to fight for the many other changes that we require. Health is connected to having an education, a job, a home, clean air and water and much more.

As medical student Mike Pappas describes, we need to look beyond access to care and recognize that:

“We must address the social determinants of health. Taking the social determinants of health into account can no longer be something nice to do if there is ‘extra time.’ It must become the focus of medical practice. This will require changing medical education and medical practice.”

It’s time for a real healthcare revolution of, by and for the people!

This article was originally published by PopularResistance.org.

All images in this article are from the authors.

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Featured image: Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s controversial speech at the UN General Assembly, Cuba delivered a zinging takedown of US hypocrisy in a wide-ranging speech that targeted climate change, military invention, poverty and nuclear threats.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla used his UN speech on Friday to remind the General Assembly of the US’s own indiscretions around the world, and to slam Trump, whom he said, “ignores and distorts history.”

“We remind the United States of its violation of human rights,” Rodriguez said. “They do not have the slightest moral authority to judge my country.”

Sovereignty hypocrisy

Rodriguez pointed to the US’s use of weapons and pressure to interfere in other nations’ affairs, and highlighted the hypocrisy in Trump’s speech that lauded the nation’s sovereignty while at the same time threatening the sovereignty of countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea.

“The US government has come here to tell us that, in addition to prosperity, the other two ‘beautiful pillars’ of international order are sovereignty and security,” he said.

Trump “manipulates the concepts of sovereignty and security to his exclusive benefit and to the detriment of all others,” Rodriguez said.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (Source: Wang Ying / Global Look Press)

The Cuban FM described the “America First” patriotism in Trump’s speech as “a perversion of humanism” which embodies an “exceptionalist and supremacist vision of ignorant intolerance.”

NATO member states that promote “military interventions and non-conventional wars against sovereign states” also found themselves in Rodriguez’ crosshairs.

“Unilateral coercive measures and the use of financial, legal, cultural and communicational instruments to destabilize governments” has “become customary,” Rodriguez said.

“Non-interference in the affairs of governments must be respected,” he added.

Poverty

Rodriguez reminded the Assembly of Trump’s comments about promoting “the prosperity of nations and persons,” before damning the president with statistics.

“In the real world, the wealth owned by eight men altogether is the equivalent to the wealth shared by 3.6 billion human beings,” Rodriguez said, adding, “The turnover of the world’s 10 biggest corporations is higher than the public revenues earned by 180 countries combined.”

After highlighting the “cruel and ineffective” construction of walls and laws to stop refugees and migrants, Rodriguez pointed to the fact that “military expenditures have increased to $1.7 trillion.”

“That reality belies those who claim that there are not enough resources to eradicate poverty,” he said.

“Could the several decades of bloody military dictatorships in Latin America be referred to as an example of a successful capitalism?” he asked.

Nuclear threats

Highlighting a common responsibility to prevent nuclear threats, Rodriguez pointed to US opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, its upcoming military expenditure of $700 billion, and its “extremely aggressive nuclear and military doctrine based on the threat to use and the use of force.”

Call for UN democratization

Rodriguez hammered home the need for the “democratization of the Security Council,” which currently has 15 members, five of which (US, UK, Russia, China and France) are permanent and have veto powers.

The Cuban foreign minister urged the UN to “establish a new participatory, democratic, equitable and inclusive international economic order,” that takes into account developing countries and “the asymmetries that exist in world trade and finances as a result of centuries of exploitation and plundering.”

Pence also under fire

Vice President Mike Pence was also slammed for “ridiculously ignoring the functions of the Security Council” in his efforts to modify the Human Rights Council, which Pence said “doesn’t deserve its name” as some of its members fail to meet any minimum standards.

Rodriguez assumed the US wasn’t including itself in the list, despite its “pattern of systematic violations of human rights, namely the use of torture, arbitrary detentions and imprisonment…the assassination of African Americans by law enforcement agents, the killing of innocent civilians perpetrated by its troops and the xenophobia and repression against immigrants.”

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According to the magazine Israel-Kurd based in Erbil, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Massoud Barzani, the self-appointed President of the future independent Kurdistan, have reached a secret agreement.

Tel-Aviv is committed to installing 200 000 Israelis of Kurdish origin in Kurdistan.

The announcement has been widely repeated in the Turkish, Iranian and Arab press. The plan to create a South Sudan and a Kurdistan has been an Israeli military objective following missile development at the end of the nineties. These territories, largely administered by the Israelis, have enabled a rear attack on Egypt and Syria.

Out of the 8.5 million Israelis living in Israel, around 200,000 are of Kurdish origin. In March 1951, “Operation Ezra and Nehemiah” (named after the biblical persons that organized the flight of the Jewish people from Babylon) permitted 11,000 Jewish Kurds to emigrate from Iraq to Israel. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee of New York funded this operation. The planes used for this air lift were made available by the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista.

The Barzani family that governs the Iraqi Kurdistan with an iron fist, is historically connected to Israel. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, father of the current president Massoud Barzani, was one of Mossad’s high official.

The Israeli Prime Minister is the only head of government to have publicly declared his support of the creation of an independent Kurdistan outside the historic Kurdish territory (which would also be to the detriment of the indigenous populations).

Despite the prohibition declared by the Iraqi Constitutional Court, a referendum will take place on 25 September 2017 with a view to declaring this new State.

Translation by Anoosha Boralessa

Featured image is from Voltairenet.org

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Kabuki Politics and the Threat of Nuclear Genocide

September 25th, 2017 by Israel Shamir

Donald Trump has chosen the wrong career. His flamboyant style would make him a popular and much loved Kabuki actor. The Japanese call it aragoto, literally a “rough business” style of heroic drama, featuring a big bold warrior with red and black makeup and a huge sword. The warrior trumps up to the scene with thundering strides and shouts his sky-rending Shibaraku (‘Wait a moment’, or better, ‘cease and desist’) call. His appearance in the UN General Assembly would be remembered with delight by Kabuki devotees for years and years if it were performed in Tokyo Kabukiza theatre.

In Japanese art, there would be a place for Kim, his adversary, in the play called Tora-no-O, Tiger’s Tail. He would be The Man Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail.

Trump and Kim could star together in a rap battle, calling each other out:

– He is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire!

– I will surely tame the mentally deranged dotard with fire!

– Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime!

– A frightened dog barks louder!

They could assume stage names Rocket Man and Orange Dotard, as rappers wont. It could be fun.

However, for an American President in the United Nations his speech was unbecoming and shockingly brutal. The people of the world listened to his United Nations General Assembly speech, and experienced a touch of nostalgia for the late Mr Adolf Hitler, a kind and mild man of subtle messages in comparison to the fiery US President.

The German Chancellor allegedly killed six million civilians, and this sublime sacrifice (do not ask me to what deity, this is just a translation of the Greek ‘holocaust’) is considered the worst crime in the bloody history of mankind. Mr Trump publicly and loudly promised to incinerate five or six times that amount. While the German never boasted of that crime, the American already boasts of his still undone crime. His desire to “totally destroy North Korea”, to wipe out an entire nation of 25 million, and in addition to cause the death of millions of Koreans in the South of the peninsula as well, secures him a unique place among the villains.

Kim, the brazen King of the North, dismissed Trump as a ‘barking dog’ who, people say, never bites, and this is surely a comforting thought, but not as comforting as a muzzle for the beast. This barking dog is obviously dangerous and should be restrained, or put out of its misery. The hound has been hounded by his domestic enemies, and thus he became possessed by a demon, for just a few months ago Trump was a peace-loving creature who wanted to attend to the US infrastructure, who refused to bow to AIPAC and was friendly to Putin. It’s Mrs Clinton who was the warmonger. But invocation magic worked on him.

Once, the magicians did invoke Beelzebub’s name, and the Evil One would make his appearance. The Americans and their Jewish masters are obsessed with Hitler’s Germany; Hollywood outputs a Hitler-related movie every month at least. They invoked the names of Hitler and Gestapo so often that it came to haunt them.

In a divine intervention of poetic justice, Trump’s nemesis bears the Gestapo chief’s name, and applies the methods deliberated by his German namesake. Many of Mr Trump’s leading supporters lie awake in cold sweat night after night expecting Mueller’s thugs to pick their locks and force entry to their bedrooms in predawn mist as they did to Paul Manafort. This Gestapo-style terror knocked the wind out of Trump’s sails. The American billionaires and politicians are not that brave. They can roar against a small far-away state, but feeling vulnerable at home reduces their courage to naught. Adolf Hitler had Mueller on his side, but Trump cuts a miserable figure of a wannabe Hitler persecuted by Mueller.

Donald Trump invoked Hitler to reject attempts to solve the Korean crisis by negotiations. He called this attempt by South Korean president ‘appeasement’, like in Munich in 1938. This is the favourite derisive term of Trump’s demon Bibi Netanyahu. For Bibi and for the new, possessed Trump, whoever does not submit to the Jews is a Hitler who should be annihilated. This is thoroughly anti-Christian attitude, for we know Who said Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. If somebody in Trump-Kim High Noon scene has to be a new Hitler, it is surely not the plump Korean.

Every statesman on the planet knows you can’t cross the US. America is powerful, vindictive and vicious, and you must obey or else. They will destroy you and/or your country sooner or later for your disobedience. If they can’t invade, they will bomb, if they can’t bomb, they will starve first – and then bomb, and only afterwards, invade. One should be crazy to resist. But the little Korean resisted. He is definitely crazy. But we humans adore such crazy rebels against supreme authority, be it Che Guevara or Luke Skywalker. Or McMurphy.

Yes, by his suicidal courage, Kim reminds me of ‘Mac’, Randle McMurphy, the protagonist of Ken Kesey’s novel and Milos Forman’s movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Probably you remember his hopeless stand and a futile, doomed fight against the almighty Nurse Ratched. She rules supreme over the inmates. Against her will, there is no appeal. The inmates tremble before her. But she can’t break Mac. She is forced to burn his brain, to kill him by other means, and this evil deed releases the inmates. Until then, they supported and obeyed the Nurse like the nations of the world obeyed the Judeo-American power. Incineration of Mac’s brain puts paid to her dominion. In revulsion, the placid inmates leave the ward, chose freedom and leave her behind, broken. This is human nature. There is no way for the US to prevail in its fight against Kim the Bold. They can kill him and thirty million of other Koreans, but they can’t prevail.

Perhaps Kim’s stand is unreasonable.

Perhaps, if/when radioactive dust will be blown by winds over the Korean peninsula, and the few surviving Koreans winter in tents near Ussuriysk on the Russian side of the border, reasonable people will say – Kim didn’t have to resist the bully. He should have keep his mouth shut, like we do. But even then we will think – even if we do not say – God damn the mega-killer from Washington! And Kim was bold guy, too bold for his own good, God bless him.

We are used to the fact that Americans do whatever they want – they invade independent countries, wage wars of conquest, seize consular buildings and disregard conventions and treaties while risking not more than a protest note. Insanely bold Kim promises to hit Americans if they hit his country. We are horrified, but we are secretly happy that somebody dares to say that.

Everyone wants to live, and the Russians, of course, are happy with the prudence of their leadership. But they look at Kim like the docile inmates of the asylum looked at McMurphy. Russia is upset and concerned with this conflict. Korea is next to Vladivostok, a big Russian city, and the consequences of the conflict will have to be cleared up by Russia and China. Russia offered Americans a reasonable solution – a double freeze. The Koreans freeze their tests, the Americans freeze their manoeuvres. The Koreans accepted the Russian proposal, and the Americans arrogantly rejected. “This would be a reward to the Koreans,” the State Department said.

Is it really a reward – right to live on one’s own land without facing threats of nuclear genocide? It seemed to us that this is an inalienable right of every nation. The new president of South Korea and the people of South Korea are not eager for a new Korean war, where millions of their brothers and sisters in the North and in the South will perish. South Korea wants negotiations and a peaceful solution. What right does Trump have to refuse – and still claim that he acts in the interests of South Korea? If Kim survives this campaign, it will be a huge breakthrough for humanity. But if he does not, and Trump incinerates Korea and sends millions of Koreans to paradise, then America will achieve only the hatred and contempt of mankind, as Nurse Ratched did, when she fried the brains of the rebel McMurphy.

It would be good if the Pope were to exorcize the demons of Trump, so he will became the Trump Americans voted for. But then, Trump is just more outspoken than the rest of the people in power. Liberal Americans propose to starve the Koreans to death, instead of bombing them. The idea of letting the Koreans live their own way has no buyers on Capitol Hill.

The Russians were dismayed with Trump’s plans to reform the UN and eliminate or undermine their right of veto. They noticed an uncanny similarity of Trump’s call for the UN reform 2017 with Adolf Hitler’s call to reform the League of the Nations in 1937. They aren’t likely to agree to any attempt to cancel their veto. They will not leave the UN, either. They tried to walk out once, and it did not work out well.

In January 1950, the Russians were dismayed by America’s steadfast refusal to transfer the seat in the UN Security Council to the new Chinese Government of Chairman Mao. They insisted the seat should be occupied by Kuomintang-ruled Taiwan. The Russians boycotted the Security Council to their peril: the Security Council (sine Russians) voted to invoke military action by the United Nations for the first time in the organization’s history. The Russians could have blocked the action in the Security Council, since they had absolute veto power, but no Russian delegate was present. In just a short time, a multinational U.N. force under American leadership arrived in South Korea and the grueling three-year Korean War was underway. The Russians immediately returned to the Security Council but they never could reverse the decision, and until today the US troops in Korea use the UN banner.

The Russians remember that, and they will never repeat the mistake. Even if Trump takes his allies out, the Russians and the Chinese will remain and they will keep the Security Council running, if necessary, without the Americans.

The Americans want to have the UN without the Russians. Trump-proposed declaration of intent to revamp the UN has been endorsed by many small states, but the great ones declined to join. In a brazen act, countries that were hesitant or unwilling to sign the declaration – which include Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – were not invited to the launch. An organization without them, will not be the United Nations, perhaps NATO 2.0.

The Russian feelings towards the US hardened a lot in the aftermath of the General Assembly. The Russians helped the Syrian government army cross Euphrates and seize the east bank, despite American demands to stay away on the other side of the great river. For the first time ever, they threatened the Americans present in Syria with using their supreme fire power if their troops will be jeopardized like they were a few days ago, when the Islamists led by American instructors made an attempt to snatch a group of Russian policemen.

The dream of many American politicians to begin a war with Russia does not seem as improbable as it was a few months ago. There are people who believe it is unavoidable – for a strange reason. They say this will be a fulfillment of the prophecy of the Armageddon battle as described in Ezekiel, 39 and in the Revelation, 16. They say that as the present battlefield spreads over Euphrates to Babylon, the deep-seated neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has been activated leading mankind to utter destruction. In plain words, prophesies we are aware of tend to be self-fulfilling. It just remains to be seen whether it will begin in the Far East in Korea or in Syria, in the Middle East.

It would be better if Trump were to take up Kabuki acting…

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

This article was originally published by The Unz Review where the featured image was sourced.

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U.S. Near Bottom in Public Trust of News Media

September 25th, 2017 by Eric Zuesse

According to the most extensive study ever done of the public’s usages of, and trust in, the newsmedia in their country — a study that (in late January early February) scientically sampled thousands of people in each one of 36 different industrialized countries — the United States scored #28, which was in the bottom 22% of all 36 nations, regarding the public’s trust of the newsmedia.

However, the average American had a 53% level of trust in the news-sources he or she is relying on. The country with the highest level of trust in the newsmedia generally was Finland, where 61% of the population trust the nation’s news media. Two countries were tied for the last place in trusting the media among the 36 nations surveyed, both scoring a 23% level of trust: Greece, and Korea. All of the countries that scored below the U.S. (in order increasingly less-trusting than America, down to the very bottom) were: Czech Republic, Hungary, Taiwan, France, Malaysia, Slovakia, and then, Greece and Korea tied at the bottom. 

Those figures appear on page 21 of the 136-page study, “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017”

The surveys also asked respondents to rate themselves between far-left and far-right. The degree of political polarization in the United States, is shown on page 38, and turns out to be, by far — actually enormously — the highest polarization of all 36 countries. Whereas, in the other 35 countries, the residents reasonably constitute a nation where there is widespread political agreement (a coherent nation), the residents in the U.S. are more like a nation in ideological civil war. (Perhaps Ukraine, which wasn’t surveyed, is even worse, and maybe that’s why it split apart right after the 2014 U.S. coup there.) 

On page 103 of the Reuters Institute’s report, is provided the details of the U.S. findings. This page shows that Americans whose main source of news is NPR are the farthest-left of all audiences, and that Americans whose main source of news is Fox News online (not the TV channel) are the farthest-right of all audiences. Among all 32 “News Brands” constituting the “Top Brands,” the only one that is anywhere near the poitical center (in its audience) is Yahoo! News. Only one among the 32 brands has an audience that rates itself to the right of center: Fox News online. Even the audience of the Fox News TV brand, rate themselves to the left of center. Apparently, more Americans are embarrassed at being categorized as rightists, than are embarrassed at being categorized as leftists. Maybe this has something to do with the phrase in America ‘political correctness’ being commonly associated with ‘liberal’ positions, and also helps explain ‘conservatives’ widespread contempt for ‘political correctness’. (Maybe Fox News on TV seems to them to be sufficiently ‘politically correct’ for them to be able to admit that it’s their main news-source.)

The largest 26 news-audiences in the United States, as indicated in the Reuters study (p.103), are (from the largest on down) Local TV news, Fox News (TV), Regional or local newspaper, CNN, Huffington Post (online-only), NBC/MSNBC (miscategorized as being one not two), ABC, CBS, CNN online, Fox News online, New York Times online, local radio news, local TV news online, BuzzFeed News (online-only), BBC, Washington Post online, NPR, local newspaper online, NBC/MSNBC online, MSN (online-only), ABC online, BBC online, New York Times print, PBS, USA Today, and Washington Post.

Alexa shows the online right-wing news Breitbart as being #58 in the U.S., and Huffington Post as being #66, but Breitbart scored in the Reuters survey as being #33 of all news sources, having a far smaller audience than did the #2-ranked online news site Huffington Post (which scored so high at Reuters). Perhaps that’s because Breitbart is proudly ‘politically incorrect’ and maybe a result of this is that many of its users don’t want to admit that it’s their main news-source.

The farthest ‘left’ news-source amongst the 32 top media, NPR, is actually solidly neoconservative; and was gung-ho, in 2002 and up to the invasion in 2003, for Republican George W. Bush’s push, to invade Iraq. National Public Radio invited many proponents (and almost no opponents) of invasion — such as the Brookings Institution’s Ken Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon, and the Bush Administration’s own Eliot Cohen — onto their shows, arguing that it would be essential to invade Iraq. Furthermore, the Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, was among the most neoconservative politicians in America, but was clearly preferred by NPR against Donald Trump, who was panned by all neocons, even by Republican ones, and who emerged as a neocon only after becoming President (though still not yet as much of a neocon as Hillary Clinton always was). And, for example, Eliot Cohen has been an invited ‘expert’ guest on NPR several times recently (such as this and this and this and this and this) talking against Trump, and against Trump’s least-neocon Cabinet-member Rex Tillerson, using extremely disparaging terms against them, such as “probably the worst ever” and “reprehensible.” When Democrats hear this ‘liberal’ news-outlet (NPR) lend its air waves to moralizing super-neocons attacking a Republican President for not being sufficiently neocon, then whatever is left of the left, in mainstream U.S. ‘news’media, has become too small even to discern at all, other than perhaps a few liberal bumper-stickers, to place onto listeners’ cars. But if this is liberal fascism, then is the conservative variety necessarily worse? So, America now is consumed now with one ethnic group attacking another — that’s what this ‘democracy’ is consumed by: distractions, and inter-ethnic conflicts. As if the voracious grabbing by the nation’s super-rich and resultant soaring inequality of power in this country, isn’t a problem that the poorer 99.99% of Americans could unite together against. But, after all, in America, ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ are now nothing more than bumper-stickers. They can always be heard at NPR. And, at some other ‘news’media? Not so much. (And, apparently, not at all at Fox News online.)

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

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In Defence of Democratic Rights in Catalonia

September 25th, 2017 by José Luis Martínez

In Catalonia an important process of independence is taking place against Spain. At the request of the Popular Party (PP), the Spanish Constitutional Court declared the Catalan Statute of 2010, unconstitutional. This statute was negotiated between the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and later endorsed by the Spanish Parliament. Since then, the number of Catalans who want to become independent from Spain has not stopped growing.

The degree of autonomy that Catalonia was going to reach was far too much for a right-wing party as the PP, despite the 2010 statute cuts which were decided by the Spanish parliament.

Chronology of the Process of Independence of Catalonia

  • November 9, 2014: A consultation for independence was held, prohibited by the Constitutional Court. Almost 2.3 million people participated in it. These were the results: 80.72% ‘YES’, 4.55% ‘NO’, 9.56% in blank votes and the rest with other answers. Artur Mas, the former president of the Autonomous Community, called the vote a total success due to the conditions in which they were held. In an appearance on the night of the vote, he sent two messages to the central government: The Catalans had made it clear that they wanted independence and they wanted to decide their political future.
  • November 20, 2014: The Board of Prosecutors concluded that there were conditions to act against the Catalan president for holding the consultation on 9 November and, after a debate of more than four hours, it was understood that there was disobedience to the Constitutional Court, which had banned the consultation.
  • January 14, 2015: Following an agreement between the President of Catalonia and the leader of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), Oriol Junqueras, supported by the President of the Catalan National Assembly, Carme Forcadell, the Òmnium Cultural, Muriel Casals, and the president of the Association of Municipalities for Independence, Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal, the Generalitat convenes early elections for the 27 September of that year.
  • September 11, 2015: Demonstration of the Diada prior to 27 September. According to the organization, two million people participated; however, the Urban Guard gave an estimated participation of 1.2 million people.
  • November 13, 2016: Thousands of people gathered to show their support for the Catalonian politicians who were being investigated by the Spanish court, including Artur Mas himself. The ex-president said that he did not disobey the law, but rather, he obeyed the mandate of the people of Catalonia and called for the consultation on 9 November. Puigdemont, the current president of Catalonia, defended that Catalonia will decide its relationship with Spain freely and at the polls and said: “I hope that the government in Madrid will listen to the people.”
  • March 13, 2017: Artur Mas is convicted of disobeying two years of political inactivity and a fine of 36,500 euros. Ortega and Rigau are also sentenced, for the same offence of one year and nine months and one year and six months respectively. In addition, Ortega will have to pay a fine of 30,000 euros, while Rigau must pay 24,000 euros.
  • May 22, 2017: In a conference in Madrid, Puigdemont, accompanied by the Vice-President of the Catalonian Government and ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, reiterated again the desire to dialogue with the central government to agree on the question, date and necessary majority of the referendum, but added that the referendum will be held, even if the central government refuses to negotiate.
  • May 24, 2017: Puigdemont sent a letter to Mariano Rajoy, President of Spain, stating that it would be necessary for the two governments to start a dialogue. In his letter he said that the Generalitat had the maximum will to seek a peaceful agreed solution, but respecting the will of the Catalan people.
  • May 25, 2017: Rajoy responded to Puigdemont’s letter with a resounding NO. The President of the central government rejects any kind of negotiation about the referendum and accuses the Catalonian government of threatening the central State.
  • June 9, 2017: Puigdemont announced that the referendum for independence would be held on Sunday, 1 October 2017 with the question: “Do you agree with an independent State in the form of a Republic?”
  • September 6, 2017: The Catalan Parliament approved the law of the referendum and the president convened the consultation for 1 October. In a controversial parliamentary session in which the left grouped in Catalunya sí que es pot abstained.
  • September 7, 2017: Prior to the referendum, the central government responded with a series of reprisals from the Spanish state. The Constitutional Court prohibited the referendum and warned thousand Catalonian politicians. The Prosecutor’s Office issues a complaint against Puigdemont and the Catalonian government. Rajoy announced, after meeting with Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) – who assured all his support to the central government – that he will do anything to stop the referendum. But the Catalan Parliament gave the green light to the Law of Legal and Fundamental Transiency of the Republic and Puigdemont ratified that the referendum should continue despite the complaints.
  • September 8, 2017: Inspections by the Civil Guard began in search of ballot boxes and ballots, ordered by the Attorney General’s Office. The Civil Guard inspected printing shops, the headquarters of the newspaper El Vallenc and private vehicles in search of propaganda material for the referendum. The controls have been repeated every day so far. There have been multiple peaceful demonstrations against these police acts and also Julian Assange defends the right to decide of the Catalans.
  • September 11, 2017: A new Diada demonstration with more than 1 million people in favour of the referendum. In his institutional message, Puigdemont says: “No one can disable us.”
  • September 15, 2017: The central government intervened in the accounts of the government of Catalonia and suspended several fiscal competencies.
  • September 17, 2017: In Madrid, an event was held in support of the right to decide, which had previously been banned by a Madrid court. In spite of this, thousands of people gathered. There was a large police presence and the threat of fascist groups attacking the event.
  • September 19, 2017: The Civil Guard took the voters’ census for the referendum and the interrogation by the prosecution of more than 700 Catalan mayors who support the referendum starts. If they do not attend the interrogation, the persecutors office threatens them with jail.

This chronology is not complete, but it shows the milestones in this dispute.

The Spanish Left and the Catalan Referendum

Both Podemos and Izquierda Unida support a referendum but with guarantees. Podemos sees the referendum as a citizen mobilization, but believes that it cannot be binding. Izquierda Unida, for its part, says that the question of the referendum leaves out people who want a federal state, to which the various existing nationalities of the Spanish State can freely adhere.

Defensem el referendum

Source: Socialist Project

The problem of guarantees is that, if the central government does not want to negotiate, the guarantees that are demanded cannot be given, since the updated voters’ census can only be given by the central government.

Esquerra Unida I Alternativa (EUiA), the political counterpart of Izquierda Unida in Catalonia, decided on 17 September to appeal to the Catalan people to participate in the referendum, although EUiA is against the independence of Catalonia.

And here I come to the most controversial point. Who leads the process of independence? The Catalan bourgeoisie is not exactly a very democratic bourgeoisie and is immersed in many scandals of corruption. Although the movement for independence is very transversal, it is highly questionable that independence will serve the working classes, as the parties of the Catalan bourgeoisie have approved in the Catalan government the biggest cuts in health and education among others and have supported the central government when the Spanish parliament has passed anti-democratic laws such as the “Law Mordaza” that cut many democratic rights in order to curb the protests of the citizens against antisocial policies. I personally would vote NO for independence for the reasons mentioned above. However, this does not detract from the right of self-determination of the people. I sincerely believe that the NO would win in a referendum, if it could be carried out with the necessary guarantees, and a democracy should allow the people to decide about their future.

The 2010 surveys indicated that 35% of Catalans wanted independence, but now the surveys say that there are almost 50% of Catalonians that want independence. In addition, several surveys point out that 80% of the Catalan people want a referendum and 60% have said that they will participate, even if the Spanish State forbids it.

The repression and intransigence of the government of Mariano Rajoy have made many people in Catalonia stand for independence. And if his party continues with this repressive policy, it is expected that soon this number will increase.

A Few Questions

  • What are the limits of sovereignty?
  • Is there a right of self-determination only for the colonies or also for the nationalities of consolidated autonomous States?
  • Why is it not possible in Spain what has been possible in the United Kingdom with Scotland?
  • Do the Spanish government and the king fear that a Catalan rupture will provoke an increase in the struggle for a republic in Spain?

I had already finished this article, but the events of today, 20 September, in Catalonia made me have to expand it. This morning the Civil Guard and the National Police Corps entered in several Catalan government departments, they have registered the departments and arrested some 14 people, including officials of the government of Catalonia. The leftist parties in Spain have called for a fight against this new repressive spiral of the central government of the PP that is a de facto state of exception in Catalonia.

It is no longer just the right of people to decide. The leaders of Podemos and Izquierda Unida have said:

“We must also defend democratic rights because of this dictatorial move by the Spanish government.”

They have called for actively defending the democratic rights that are being cut drastically in the Spanish State. In response, tens of thousands of people have concentrated on ‘Puerta del Sol’ in Madrid and other Spanish cities.

What has become clear is that the ruling party has not been detached from its fascist roots. It is necessary to remember that this party was created by seven ex-ministers of the dictator Franco.

José Luis Martínez is a social activist and member of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and Izquierda Unida. He has published books on Latin America and articles in Mundo Obrero, the newspaper of the PCE.

Featured image is from pri.org.

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“This was a violent and criminal act, nothing whatsoever to do with the point of view of those of us who favour a yes vote.” – Senator George Brandis, Australian Attorney-General, Sep 22, 2017

It came, less out of the blue than out of the ether of the expected. “A 38 year old North Hobart man has been charged,” went the note from the Tasmanian Police Force, “following an alleged incident on Hobart’s waterfront yesterday afternoon.”[1]  Former Australian prime minister and conservative high priest Tony Abbott had received a Liverpool kiss, a head butt that had left him, by his own admission, a slightly swollen lip. “I just want to shake your hand and just went bang,” came the description from a Hobart DJ, Astro ‘Funknuckl’ Labe.

Abbott’s account on this directed “bang” was immediate. This had been the work of a pro same-sex advocate, an invert not merely in the sexual sense, but in the sense of political tolerance. Heads had replaced hearts – quite literally.

“Their slogan of ‘love is love’ is unfortunately shown in practice to be intolerance, not wanting people to be able to have their view.” The reliably conservative Senator Eric Abetz also added his stubborn varnish, suggesting that the encounter was “yet again another example of the ugliness of the Yes campaign.”

Abbott garnered little sympathy from various quarters. The critics, as they do with reliable promptness, came out with their pitchforks. The New Matilda site wondered if he was being economical with the account.

“What we do know is that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and on that front there are so many videos on YouTube of Tony Abbott lying”.[2] 

Writer John Birmingham felt solidarity with the man who sported a head that connected with Abbott’s: “Je suis headbutt guy.”[3] Tribal loyalties were being stirred, and violence was being embraced as a necessary symptom, axiomatic in any debate, if it could be called that, regarding Abbott and his views.  Tolerance had been replaced by delight and Schadenfreude.

Others added their own versions, showing that this had become an argument without a distinction, a discussion without a purpose. What mattered was the application of unadorned violence, best reflected by the hashtag running its merry way through Twitter: “nut the cunt”. The brutish phrase had its origins in Labe’s own roughly struck words, which had spawned a social media phenomenon:

“If I see an opportunity to improve my life and those around me by nutting Tony Abbot, I’m a pretty pragmatic guy.”[4]

The social media feast swarmed with disputes about violence, its application, its necessity. The tolerant brigades had disappeared, and the revolutionary pugilists, behind the comfort of a tweet, were coming out. What was left was mere technique, reaction, and counter-attack.

“Abbott has a uni boxing blue,” chirped Steven Trewin.  “Disappointed in Tony that he did not punch the tosser hard in the face! He served it for his king butt.”

Then came the next turn in the tale, another shift in the winds.  Labe, it transpired, had attacked the former prime minister for different reasons. Abbott’s own Liberal colleague, the Attorney-General George Brandis, poured the coldest of pours on the suggestion that this act had anything to do with the same-sex marriage debate.

“This man had absolutely nothing to do with those who advocated for a yes vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey, absolutely nothing.”[5]

Abbott had the Tasmanian DJ seeing a haze of red rage, an instinctive chance. “It’s just about Tony Abbott – the fucking worm that he is.” Old, unalloyed “personal hatred”, and his anarchism, was what sufficed to do violence.  And the fact that he “didn’t think it was an opportunity I’d get again.”

And what of the same-sex sticker on his ticket as the ferocious act unfolded? Astro Labe was unconvinced. It was a case of coincidence, accident, a misalignment of the stars.

“It was purely because a friend of mine had walked past handing them out and had stuck one on my jacket.”

The nature of this debate (if it qualifies as that) has had its inevitable pressures. Violence, not love, is the current running beneath notions of what will be changed by what can only be described as a fatuous survey. The tide is coming in, and the pantomime is unfolding.

Businesses are being made to come out in their own fashion. Sporting clubs that would otherwise be interested in the pursuit of sport have had a stab, with mixed results, at the whole issue of same-sex marriage, donning the rainbow, spouting the line. The very issue is becoming a fashion statement, with a serious undercurrent.  The debate there is simple, unrefined. The default here can only be intolerance.

Astro Labe did reveal the sheer bankruptcy behind such nice-mannered efforts as controlling and punishing the one-punch on an intoxicated night out or restraining violence in the community with the nonsense of control.  Australia, embrace yourself: the truth of simmering resentment will out.

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

Notes

[1] https://www.facebook.com/Tas.Police/posts/1553633184716576

[2] https://newmatilda.com/2017/09/22/is-tony-abbott-lying-about-getting-head-butted-for-marriage-equality/

[3] https://twitter.com/JohnBirmingham/status/911143389361463297

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/22/man-charged-over-allegedly-head-butting-tony-abbott

[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-22/astro-labe-charged-over-alleged-assault-of-tony-abbott/8975454

Featured image is from Sky News.

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This has not been a good week for President Trump’s Iran policy. As the president has indicated, he plans in mid-October to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), negotiated and signed in 2015, which rolled back Iran’s nuclear program, placed severe restrictions on it for the foreseeable future, and imposed the world’s most intrusive inspections regime on what remained.

Leaving aside for now the various and profoundly negative ramifications of Trump’s stated intention to declare Iran in violation of the agreement, the most immediate problem for the president has always been that Iran is, in fact, not in violation of the deal. As attested to by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and all other signatories to the agreement – including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia – Iran is fully compliant with its obligations under the JCPOA.

But this week brought significant pushback to Trump’s plan. Following the president’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, world leaders and diplomats reportedly pressured the president and members of his administration in numerous meetings to reconsider his plan to scuttle the JCPOA. Allies publicly criticized him.

“Renouncing [the Iran deal] would be a grave error, not respecting it would be irresponsible,” said the French president Emmanuel Macronsuggesting further that decertification could create another nuclear crisis like North Korea.

In a press conference following a meeting with representatives from every signatory country, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union, said that if the United States walks out of the deal, Europe would make sure it remains in place anyways. She further indicated,

“The international community cannot afford dismantling an agreement that is working and delivering…Iran is complying.”

Mogherini confirmed that all of the parties to the JCPOA, including the United States, agreed in the closed-door meeting that “there is no violation.” This prompted questions for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had to sheepishly admit that “from a technical standpoint, the IAEA reports continue to indicate and confirm that Iran is in technical compliance of the agreement.”

Foreign Policy reported that the Trump administration’s ploy to use the threat of decertification to reopen negotiations on the JCPOA and squeeze more concessions out of Iran “collapsed on Wednesday as key European powers persevered in their effort to rescue the deal from an American walkout, and Iran’s president made clear his government wouldn’t revisit the terms of the pact.” The New York Times reportedthat Trump’s repudiation of the international consensus and his brash denunciation of the JCPOA was unintentionally generating global sympathy for Iran, while damaging U.S. credibility and trust.

Even members of Trump’s own party began to break ranks. On Tuesday, Rep. Ed Royce, Republican Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN that Trump should not withdraw from the Iran deal, but rather continue to “enforce the hell out of it.” Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who opposed the deal when it was signed in 2015, told reporters,

“if [Iran is] complying with it, I think we should stay in it.”

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General John Hyten, in a speech at the Hudson Institute, said,

“The facts are that Iran is operating under the agreement that we signed up for under JCPOA… We have an agreement that our nation has signed and I believe that if the United States of America signs an agreement, it’s our job to live up to the terms of that agreement, it’s our job to enforce that.”

It’s not clear that this overwhelming resistance to decertification will dissuade President Trump. But the American people should know that if Trump goes through with it, he’ll be doing it in defiance of the facts, the international community, much of his own cabinet, and at least some prominent members of his own party.

This may soon become Congress’s responsibility. According to legislation passed subsequent to the signing of the JCPOA, that requires the president to certify Iranian compliance every 90-days, decertification triggers a 60-day clock for Congress to decide by majority vote whether to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. A decision to do so and join President Trump in his misbegotten scheme to unravel the Iran deal would be dangerous and irresponsible.


“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 UniversityWWIII Scenario

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

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

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After the ISIS Caliphate, Rojava

September 25th, 2017 by Thierry Meyssan

Featured image: This map was published by Robin Wright nine months before the offensive by Daesh into Iraq and Syria. According to this Pentagon researcher, it rectifies the map published in 2005 by Ralf Peters for the reshaping of the Greater Middle East.

While the Syrian Arab Army, the Russian aviation and Hezbollah are preparing to finish off Daesh, the Pentagon is planning a new war against Syria, this time with Kurdish troops. Just as the mission of the Caliphate was to create a Sunnistan straddling Iraq and Syria, so the mission of “Rojava” is to create a Kurdistan straddling the two states, as the Pentagon has been publicly stating for the last four years.

According to US grand strategy, as defined by Admiral Cebrowski in 2001, and published in 2004 by his assistant Thomas Barnett, all of the Greater Middle East must be destroyed except for Israël, Jordan and Lebanon.

Consequently, the imminent victory against Daesh will change nothing of the Pentagon’s intentions.

President Trump is against the manipulation of the jihadists. He has stopped the financial and military support that his country was giving them, and has managed to convince Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to do the same. He has modified NATO policies in the matter. However, nothing yet hints as to whether or not he will also oppose the Pentagon’s grand strategy. As far as the US Interior is concerned, the whole of Congress is in league against him, and he has no possibility of preventing a procedure for destitution other than negotiating with the Democratic Party.

Donald Trump has composed his administration of ex-senior civil servants from the Obama administration, a number of opportunistic politicians, many improvised representatives, and very very few trustworthy personalities.

His special representative against Daesh, Brett McGurk, is an ex-collaborator of President Obama, and is supposed to serve Trump’s new policy. On 18 August, he organised a meeting with the tribal leaders to “fight Daesh”. However, the photographs he published attest to the fact that, on the contrary, several of Daesh’s leaders also participated in the meeting.

In the same vein, helicopters of the US Special Forces exfiltrated two European leaders of Daesh and their families from the outskirts of Deiz ez-Zor, before they could be taken prisoner by the Syrian Arab Army on 26 August. Two days later, they also exfiltrated about twenty more Daesh officers.

Everything looks as though the Pentagon were storing away its jihadist structure and conserving it for other operations elsewhere. Simultaneously, it is preparing a new episode against Syria with a new army, which, this time, will be composed around Kurdish forces.

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This war, like the war against the Caliphate,was announced four years ago in the New York Times, by Robin Wright, a researcher at the US Institute of Peace (equivalent to the NED for the Pentagon). It also planned to divide the Yemen into two states, potentially shared between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – and finally, last but not least, to dismember Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the “Rojava” project corresponds to Israëli strategy, which, since the end of the 1990’s and the development of missiles, is no longer concentrated on controlling its border regions (the Sinaï, the Golan and South Lebanon), but on taking its neighbours from behind (hence the creation of South Sudan and eventually, Greater Kurdistan).

The recruiting drive for European soldiers for the “Rojava” project has only just begun. A priori, it could assemble as many combatants as there were for the jihad, insofar as the members of the anarchist groups which provide manpower are as numerous in Europe as common law prisoners.

Indeed, the jihadist network began in French prisons before becoming a generalised “crusade”. It is probable that the recruitment within the anarchist movement will also spread as the conflict goes on. Washington, London, Paris and Berlin, who organised this recruitment, planned in the long term. I use the word “crusade” deliberately, because these wars in the Middle Ages, like the one we have just experienced, were in fact European imperialist operations against the people of the Greater Middle East. It is just as grotesque to claim that there is a link between the message of Christ and the crusades as to claim a link between the Prophet and jihadism. In both cases, the commanders were “Westerners” [1], and these conflicts exclusively served Western imperialism. The successive crusades bled across two centuries, and the majority of Christians in the Levant fought alongside their Muslim compatriots against the invaders.

Not long ago, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, publicly declared that President Assad “did not deserve to be on Earth”, and confirmed that the jihadists were doing a “good job”. Many young people answered his call by joining Al-Nusra (Al-Qaïda), then Daesh. Today, the French ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, publicly announced that France would support the creation of state which would include Iraqi Kurdistan and the corridor to the Mediterranean via Syria. A few young Europeans have already answered this call, and many others will follow.

Today, as in 2011-12, the Western Press has taken the side of this new anti-Syrian army, supported by their governments. It will never question the treachery of Abdullah Öcalan, who renounced Marxist-Leninism for anarchy. It will repeat that Kurdistan has already been recognised by the Sèvres Conference, in 1920, but it will avoid looking at the documents which specify its boundaries. It will believe it to be legitimate in Iraq and Syria, although it is currently situated in Turkey. It will ignore the fact that the frontiers in fact correspond to nothing other than the plans developed by the Pentagon.

The referendum for the independence of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan and the territories annexed with the help of Daesh will launch the beginning of this operation, on 25 September. As in 2014, it will be intended to simultaneously destroy Iraq and Syria, this time without creating a “Sunnistan” from Rakka to Mossul, but a “Kurdistan”, on a territory linking Erbil and Kirkuk to the Mediterranean.

Thierry Meyssan is a Political consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in French – Sous nos Yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump(Right Before our Eyes. From 9/11 to Donald Trump).

Translated by Pete Kimberley

Note

[1] This term is poorly chosen insofar as “Westerner” is not opposed to “Oriental”, but to “Soviet”. I could find no other term to describe collectively the Europeans, the North-Americans and the Israelis. Author’s note.


Global Research announces the forthcoming release of  the print edition of Mark Taliano’s Book, “Voices from Syria”  which includes two additional chapters. 

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

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Special Pre-Publication Offer

**Pre-Order Special Offer: Voices from Syria (Ships mid-September)

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

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According to a report issued on September 22nd by the most accurate reporter on the current status of forces in the war against Syria — the anonymous military and geostrategic blogger who owns, and posts exclusively at, the “Moon of Alabama” blog — the effort by the previous U.S. President Barack Obama in support of Al Qaeda in Syria, is continuing under the current U.S. President Donald Trump. However, that report isn’t the only indication of Trump’s continuing Obama’s war against Syria, and of the U.S. Government’s continuing pro-Al-Qaeda policy in Syria. And, furthermore, the U.S. Government even supports ISIS in Syria when ISIS is being attacked by Syria’s secular and non-sectarian Government, which Government the U.S. Government has been trying to overthrow and replace by Saud-financed fundamentalist-Sunni Islamists, ever since 1949.

Back on 14 October 2016, Patrick Cockburn appropriately headlined in Britain’s Independent“We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along – US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding ISIS”, but any reference to the Government of Saudi Arabia is actually a reference to the royal Saud family, who own it; and any reference to the Government of Qatar is a reference to the royal Thani family, who own it. And those royal families, but the Sauds above all, have long been allied with America’s aristocracy — the billionaires who own controlling blocs of stock in U.S.-based international corporations, including the ‘defense’ contractors such as Lockheed Martin (whose largest foreign customer is the Saud family), and also the major newsmedia (which is a major reason why U.S. Presidents represent not only the U.S. aristocracy but also the Saud family, who are allied (as the U.S. aristocracy is) with the Government of Israel against Iran, and against Iran’s ally, Syria. So: this is a U.S.-Saud-Israel core alliance, against Iran and against Iran’s ally Syria. From the very start of Donald Trump’s Presidency, the overthrow of Iran’s Government has been practically an obsession.

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


Global Research announces the release of  the print edition of Mark Taliano’s Book, “Voices from Syria”  which includes one additional chapter. 

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

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Special Offer

**Pre-Order Special Offer: Voices from Syria (Ships mid-September)

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

Click to order

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The Killing of History

September 24th, 2017 by John Pilger

Featured image: The lone survivor of an all-women anti-aircraft battery near Hanoi. Most were teenagers. (Photo: John Pilger 1975)

One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”.  Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”.

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans – it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences.

In the series’ press release in Britain – the BBC will show it – there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans. “We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying.  How very post-modern.

All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the twentieth century: from The Green Berets and The Deer Hunter to Rambo and, in so doing, has legitimised subsequent wars of aggression. The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy”. Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off Napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites”.

In the early 1970s, I went to Quang Ngai province, where in the village of My Lai, between 347 and 500 men, women and infants were murdered by American troops (Burns prefers “killings”). At the time, this was presented as an aberration: an “American tragedy” (Newsweek ). In this one province, it was estimated that 50,000 people had been slaughtered during the era of American “free fire zones”. Mass homicide. This was not news.

To the north, in Quang Tri province, more bombs were dropped than in all of Germany during the Second World War. Since 1975, unexploded ordnance has caused more than 40,000 deaths in mostly “South Vietnam”, the country America claimed to “save” and, with France, conceived as a singularly imperial ruse.

The “meaning” of the Vietnam war is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the levelling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American.

Quoting Robert Taber‘s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said,

“There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on 19 September – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual.

His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now.

Returning to the US, I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition – on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground.

There is plenty of sound and fury at Trump the odious one, the “fascist”, but almost none at Trump the symptom and caricature of an enduring system of conquest and extremism.

Where are the ghosts of the great anti-war demonstrations that took over Washington in the 1970s? Where is the equivalent of the Freeze Movement that filled the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s, demanding that President Reagan withdraw battlefield nuclear weapons from Europe?

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as “nuclear targeting planning is increased”. The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against

“repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War… All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this.”

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders‘ “revolution” in last year’s presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America’s violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama’s overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia’s western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in 2011 signaled the transfer of the majority of America’s naval and air forces to Asia and the Pacific for no purpose other than to confront and provoke China. The Nobel Peace Laureate’s worldwide campaign of assassinations is arguably the most extensive campaign of terrorism since 9/11.

What is known in the US as “the left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to see off a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.

All of this fails to penetrate those “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics”, as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, “diversity” is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin colour: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars.

“How did it fucking come to this?” says Michael Moore in his Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, a vaudeville for the disaffected set against a backdrop of Trump as Big Brother.

I admired Moore’s film, Roger & Me, about the economic and social devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and Sicko, his investigation into the corruption of healthcare in America.

The night I saw his show, his happy-clappy audience cheered his reassurance that “we are the majority!” and calls to “impeach Trump, a liar and a fascist!” His message seemed to be that had you held your nose and voted for Hillary Clinton, life would be predictable again.

He may be right. Instead of merely abusing the world, as Trump does, the Great Obliterator might have attacked Iran and lobbed missiles at Putin, whom she likened to Hitler: a particular profanity given the 27 million Russians who died in Hitler’s invasion.

“Listen up,” said Moore, “putting aside what our governments do, Americans are really loved by the world!”

There was a silence.


“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 UniversityWWIII Scenario

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

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

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The impending collapse of ISIS has touched off a race for territory in the oil-rich eastern part of Syria pitting US-backed forces against the Russian-led coalition of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.  This is the nightmare scenario that everyone wanted to avoid.  Washington and Moscow’s armies are now converging on the same area at the same time greatly increasing the probability of a conflagration between the two nuclear-armed superpowers.  The only way a clash can be avoided is if one party backs down, which seems increasingly unlikely.

The situation can be easily explained. The vast swath of territory captured by ISIS is steadily shrinking due to the dogged perseverance of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) which has liberated most of the countryside west of the Euphrates River including the former ISIS stronghold at Deir Ezzor, a critical garrison at the center of the fighting. ISIS is also getting pressure from the north where the US-backed SDF is pounding their capital at Raqqa while deploying troops and tanks southward to the oil fields in Deir Ezzor province.

Washington has made it clear that it wants its proxy-army to control the area east of the Euphrates establishing a soft partition between east and west. The US also wants to control Deir Ezzor’s vast oil resources in order to provide a reliable revenue stream for the emergent Kurdish statelet.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has said many times that he will never agree to the partitioning of the country. But the decision will not be made by Assad alone. His coalition partners in Moscow, Beirut and Tehran will also help shape the final settlement. As far as Putin is concerned, it seems extremely unlikely that he’d risk a protracted and bloody war with the United States simply to recapture every square inch of Syrian territory. The Russian president will probably allow the US to keep its bases in the northeast provided that critical areas are conceded to the regime. But where will the line be drawn, that’s the question?

The US wants to control the area east of the Euphrates including the lucrative oil fields. This is why they deployed troops from the SDF southward even though they’re still needed in Raqqa. Earlier in the week, it looked like the Syrian Army had a leg up on the SDF as troops and armored vehicles crossed the Euphrates headed east to the oil fields. But reports that appeared late Thursday indicate that the SDF has beaten them to the punch. This is from South Front:

“On Thursday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) …captured Tabiyeh and al-Isba oil fields in the northwestern Deir Ezzor countryside, according to pro-Kurdish sources. … If these reports are confirmed, the SDF will be in control over a half of Syria’s oil reserve. Moreover, that will mean that the SDF at least partly blocked the SAA way on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river.” (“Syrian Democratic Forces Capture Key Oil Fields In Deir Ezzor”, South Front)

This is a major setback for the Russian coalition. It means that the SAA backed by the Russian Airforce will have to fight a group which, up to this point, has been an ally in the war against ISIS. Now it’s clear that the mainly-Kurdish SDF is no ally, it’s an enemy that wants to steal Syria’s resources and carve a state out of its eastern flank.

The news about the SDF’s arrival at the oil fields came just hours after the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov issued a terse warning to the US and SDF that Russia would retaliate if  SAA positions were attacked again by SDF mortar or rocket fire.

Quote:

“Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed (…)  Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary.”

In retrospect, it looks like the SDF had already decided to make a clean break with the government leaving no doubt of where they stood. Washington is using the SDF to seize the oil fields and to claim to the entire east side of the Euphrates for its own. There’s no doubt that these combat units of the SDF are accompanied by US Special Forces who are providing critical communications, logistic and tactical support. This operation has Washington’s fingerprints all over it.

On Friday morning, loyalist forces led by the 5th Assault Corps ISIS Hunters, established full control over Khusham village on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River near Deir Ezzor city.  The strategically-located village blocks a key road linking the area held by the SDF to the Omar oil fields.

Get the picture? US-backed forces and Russian coalition members are now operating cheek-to-jowl in the same theatre trying to seize the same oil-rich scrap of land.  This has all the makings of a major head-on collision.

Putin is a cautious and reasonable man, but he’s not going to hand over Syria’s oil fields without a fight. Besides, Assad needs the oil receipts to finance the rebuilding of his decimated country. Equally important, he needs the territory east of Deir Ezzor to for an overland route connecting Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad to Tehran, the so-called Arab Superhighway. Putin’s job is to glue as much of the country together as needed to create a viable state. So while he may allow the SDF and US military to occupy parts of the northeast, he’s not going to surrender crucial resources or strategically-located territory.

So what does it all mean? Does it mean that Russia will support Assad’s attempts to liberate the oil fields even if it could trigger a broader war with the United States?

Yes, that’s exactly what it means.

Putin doesn’t want a slugfest with Uncle Sam, but he’s not going to abandon an ally either.  So there’s going to be a confrontation because neither party is willing to give up what they feel they need to achieve success.

So there you have it. As the standoff begins to take shape in east Syria, the two rival superpowers are preparing themselves for the worst.  Clearly, we have reached the most dangerous moment in the six year-long war.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

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President Donald Trump is reportedly gearing up to roll back even the most limited restrictions on U.S. drone operations overseas, further opening the door for the expansion of airstrikes and commando raids into nations like the Philippines and Nigeria and setting the stage for an upsurge in civilian casualties—already at record highs in Afghanistan and soaring in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA, told the New York Times in an interview that while Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes “fell far short on human rights protections,” any move to water down drone warfare rules even further would be a “grave mistake.”

The White House appears to be committed to the move nonetheless, the Times reported on Thursday, noting that the plan “has quietly taken shape over months of debate among administration officials and awaits Trump’s expected signature.”

The Times notes that at least two rules are on the chopping block:

  • “First, the targets of kill missions by the military and the CIA, now generally limited to high-level militants deemed to pose a ‘continuing and imminent threat’ to Americans, would be expanded to include foot-soldier jihadists with no special skills or leadership roles.”
  • “And second, proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting.”

The plan, in effect, would deepen American military involvement in nations considered to be beyond combat zones and allow the U.S. military—and the CIA, which has for months lobbied for more drone authority—to target individuals that are not even deemed national security threats by the U.S. government.

“[D]rone operators and commanders would face fewer internal hurdles to launching specific strikes or raids,” the Times concluded.

As Common Dreams reported last month, Trump has repeatedly shown a willingness to bow to endless war advocates, as he did in his speech outlining the White House “strategy” for the 16-year-war in Afghanistan. Central to his address was the promise to lift restrictions on military operations and “expand authority for American forces.”

With his expected drone rule rollback, Trump appears to be moving closer to fulfilling this promise.

According to a recent analysis by the human rights organization Reprieve, the Trump administration’s more belligerent and less accountable foreign policy is already having devastating consequences. Trump, the group notes, “has overseen a projected fivefold increase in drone strikes” in Yemen, the site of a U.S. assassination campaign that “eclipses all that came before it in scale and brutality.”

Johnson of Amnesty International noted in a statement late Thursday that Trump’s ability to expand the use of lethal force abroad is due to the “legally and morally murky” policies that were put in place and maintained by his predecessors, and sustained by a Congress that refuses to debate the merits of the endless “war on terror.”

Thus, any proposal that “gut[s] already weak human rights protections” that restrain American forces abroad “would be unacceptable,” Johnson concluded.

“The Trump administration needs to ensure that its guidance for operations outside armed conflict comply with human rights law. The administration cannot write itself a blank check to kill with impunity.”

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