The implementation of a no-fly zone will inflame and escalate an already desperate situation

There is a growing demand from government politicians for a no-fly zone in Syria. Those calling for it, led by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, and echoed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, are either culpably naive or more likely unconcerned about taking Britain into direct conflict not just with the Syrian military but with the Russians too.

The issue is not complicated. As today’s leaks show Hilary Clinton laid it out back in 2013 when she said, “To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defenses, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk— you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.”

UKDrones564

Or, just last month, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff admitted, “right now, for us to control all of the air space in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia; that’s a pretty fundamental decisio”.

The situation in Aleppo and other parts of Syria is desperate. The idea of a no-fly zone can seem attractive because people rightly want there to be an effective humanitarian response. But as these two quotes outline, a no-fly zone would need to be secured by Western forces against opposition from Syria and Russia. Air defenses would have to be taken out and Syrian and Russian planes shot down. In the end a no-fly zone in Syria would work the same as the no-fly zone in Libya did, as a corridor for western military bombing.

The end result in Libya was a huge increase in the level of death and destruction in the country, the decapitation of the regime and the fragmentation of the country. In the case of Syria the added problem is that it would inevitably lead to confrontation with Russia. Incredibly, Andrew Mitchell shrugged off this risk on BBC’s Today programme on Tuesday by saying that Turkey had shot down a Russian plane and nothing happened.

People say the situation in Syria can get no worse, but they are wrong. As Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary explained today in parliament, “in a multi-playered, multi-faceted civil war such as Syria, the last thing we need is more parties bombing”. Such action will inflame and escalate an already desperate situation leading not just to more agony on the ground Syria, but almost certainly to the break up of the country.

It is quite amazing that the views of MPs like Boris Johnson and Andrew Mitchell are taken seriously at all on issues of foreign policy. Andrew Mitchell voted for  the Iraq War, for the intervention in Libya and twice for bombing in Syria. Johnson too has voted for every war he has been able to. If the daily reports of carnage and chaos in the news are not enough to convince people of the catastrophic effects of these escapades, they have been roundly condemned as chaotic disasters in a series of official reports, including Chilcot, the Select Committee Report on Libya, and the House of Commons Defence Committee report on the intervention in Syria.

These reports and the whole bloody history of the War on Terror are wilfully ignored in efforts to push for more war and presumably to try and undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-war Labour leadership. Each time we are told that this situation is different, that this time we are fighting a war for other peoples freedom. Each time the terrible death toll of the War on Terror multiplies and the anger against the West is further inflamed.

How many more innocent civilians are going to die, how many more catastrophes have to happen before the start the war coalition finally accept reality and admit that bombing foreign countries is not a path to peace or progress? What is needed is diametrically opposite; de-escalation and the most urgent push for a political solution.

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Pro-government forces have intensified operations in the area of the Syrian capital, Damascus. On October 11, the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) seized the town of Rayhan from Jaish al-Islam militants in Eastern Ghouta. This allowed the government forces to lay down a siege on the strategic town of Tell Kurdi and the nearby industrial area and to deploy in about 2 km from the last major stronghold of militants in the region, Douma.

Separately, the government forces launched operation to liberate the strategic Yarmouk Refugee Camp in southern Damascus.

The camp is predominantly populated by Palestinian nationals and is now under the control of ISIS. A minor part of the camp is controlled by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra). The Syrian army and groups of pro-government Palestinian militias entered the camp from the north and by October 12 they have seized almost the half of it.

In the province of Hama, the Syrian army’s Tiger Forces and the NDF took control of Kawkab and al-Kubariyah, but retreated from Ma’an. By October 12, the army and the NDF have repelled a series of counter-attacks by the terrorists and now they are aiming to re-launch the operation in Ma’an. Local sources say that up to 60 terrorists, including Jaish al-Nasr commander, Bassam Abo Duraid, were killed in the clashes.

Clashes are ongoing in the city of Aleppo. However, no sides have achieved notable gains.

The Syrian military will receive a batch of Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon systems, according to reports in Russian media outlets. Sources in military-diplomatic circles say that the systems will be delivered under the Russian-Syrian deal made in 2008. Details of the deal have not been revealed. Nonetheless, experts believe that the delivery of 36-50 systems and 700 missiles for them could be expected. The reason of the decision is a growing threat to deliver military strikes on the government forces by the US-led coalition.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Defense Ministry confirmed that it will use all military means to repel the US aggression.

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Britain And France Prepare Military Escalation In Syria

October 13th, 2016 by Robert Stevens

Britain’s ruling elite are making advanced preparations towards a major escalation of military operations in Syria.

Parliament met in an emergency three-hour session yesterday to accuse Russia of war crimes in Syria and lay the basis for Britain’s involvement in establishing a no-fly zone and possibly sending ground forces into the war-torn country.

Global tensions over Syria are at a boiling point. As parliament met, Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled a planned October 19 visit to France in response to the accusation made the previous day by French President Francois Hollande that Moscow was guilty of “war crimes” in Syria.

The Syrian army, with the support of Russia, have been attacking the east of Aleppo, where NATO’s Al Qaeda-linked Islamist proxies in Syria are based. With its proxies facing defeat, Washington, backed by its international allies, is calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone in order to save them.

“The population [of Aleppo] is the victim of war crimes. Those who commit these acts will pay for this responsibility before the international court of justice,” said Hollande.

Tensions have been ratcheted up ever since Washington, without any evidence, pinned responsibility on Moscow for an attack on a UN aid convoy and demanded that Russia and Syria ground their aircraft. Russia denies any involvement.

The UK parliamentary debate was initiated jointly by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and Labour’s Alison McGovern, who co-chairs the Friends of Syria group and is chair of the main Blairite think-tank, Progress. The initiative was supported by former US commander in Iraq and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus.

The Guardian, one of the main advocates of confronting Russia in Syria, noted that Mitchell “has been arguing for a no-fly zone for many months… In recent weeks some of Mitchell’s advisers have developed this proposal into a call to track Russian jets from UK warships off the coast of Syria, and for a complete no-fly zone for Syrian helicopters over civilian areas. It has been argued that Syrian helicopters are doing all the damage with chemical, napalm and high explosive barrel bombs. One proposal has been to bomb air runways.”

Speaking to BBC radio’s Today programme ahead of the debate, Mitchell said, “What we are saying is very clear. No one wants to see a firefight with Russia, no one wants to shoot down a Russian plane.”

The shooting down of the warplanes of the world’s second nuclear power is precisely what Mitchell is advocating.

He continued, “But what we do say is that the international community has an avowed responsibility to protect and that protection must be exerted. If that means confronting Russian air power defensively, on behalf of the innocent people on the ground who we are trying to protect, then we should do that.”

Asked if the UK should be involved in enforcing a no-fly zone, Mitchell responded, “I think that Britain should explore with its allies how it would enforce a no-fly zone.”

In the debate, Mitchell provocatively compared Russia with fascist Germany and Italy. “The Russians are doing to the United Nations precisely what Italy and Germany did to the League of Nations in the 1930s, and they are doing to Aleppo precisely what the Nazis did to Guernica during the Spanish civil war,” he said.

Mitchell railed against the anti-war sentiment that has grown as a result of the disastrous imperialist wars over the past two decades. “The international community faces a choice,” he asserted. “Are we so cowed and so poleaxed by recent history in Iraq and Afghanistan that we are incapable now of taking action?”

The debate saw Labour’s warmongers compete with the Tories in displays of handwringing over the tragic fate of the Syrian people in order to justify heightened military aggression.

Labour’s official response came from Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, appointed at the weekend by newly elected leader Jeremy Corbyn. Opposing a no-fly zone, she said, “I believe that in a multi-layered, multifaceted civil war such as that in Syria, the last thing that we need is more parties bombing. We need a ceasefire and for people to draw back.”

From then on Thornberry bent with the prevailing political winds. After being heckled by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who demanded Thornberry describe Russia’s actions as “war crimes”, she replied, “The actions of the Russians can well be seen as war crimes”, adding that there were, however, also “the war crimes of the jihadis.” Thornberry called on the government to “support French efforts to ensure that more initiatives are taken to bring the parties to international justice.”

The evening prior to the debate, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn convened a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party to make yet another appeal for unity with the Blairite warmongers. Instead he was denounced for refusing to sanction action against Russia. According to the Guardian, “MPs said Corbyn referred to an attack that was ‘apparently’ carried out by the Russians.”

The newspaper cited Angela Smith MP, who said, “It is deeply concerning that Jeremy is unwilling to face up to the role that Putin’s Russia is playing in Syria. The recent criminal atrocities committed in Aleppo make the case for an effective international response overwhelming and Labour needs to show moral leadership on what is an intolerable situation.”

Corbyn’s spokesman later stated that he acknowledged that the evidence “appears to show that Russia was involved in the bombing, if not Russia the Syrian airforce, and all evidence appears to show it was a war crime.” But Corbyn “opposes all forms of foreign intervention in the conflict,” he added.

During the debate, Labour’s Ann Clwyd commended the Guardians coverage of Syria and demanded to know, “Where is the rage? Where are the demonstrations that we have seen on so many previous occasions…I want to see—I challenge the people listening to this debate—2 million, 3 million or 4 million people outside the Russian embassy day after day.”

Clwyd was a staunch advocate of the 2003 war against Iraq. The political editor of Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun, Trevor Kavanagh, praised her role in supposedly swinging public opinion behind support for war, while Blair made her his Special Envoy on Human Rights in Iraq.

Clwyd’s call was echoed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who called on the Stop the War Coalition to organise a demonstration in London against Russia.

Johnson at this stage ruled out support for a no-fly zone, stating it would be impossible to enforce “unless we are prepared to shoot down warplanes.” However, the military options being considered by the imperialist powers were outlined by retired British General Sir Richard Shirreff in an interview in the Daily Telegraph. The former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO said that British troops should “play a major role” in training professional armed forces in Syria to oppose Assad. “To train properly you’ve got to be able to commit troops, because the whole principle of training other armies is that you live alongside them and if necessary you’ve got to be prepared to fight alongside them, or at least advise them.”

He warned, “[B]e under no illusions about how difficult imposing a no fly zone is. The Syrians have very effective Russian supplied air defence systems and that will require a major effort to suppress it.”

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The U.S. State Department Spokesperson, John Kirby, claimed on Tuesday that the Saudi airstrike against Yemeni civilians in Sanaa was “different” than Russian and Syrian airstrikes in Aleppo.

The flustered Kirby then claimed the Saudis are not “deliberately targeting civilians” like the Russians and Syrians; furthermore, the Saudi Air Force is “investigating” the airstrikes.

Shockingly, Kirby then asserts that the Saudis are defending themselves against the Houthi fighters that are allegedly being armed by the Iranians.

Kirby’s comments were not only false, but also contradictory because his regime has supplied weapons to the opposition in Syria.

Moreover, Kirby stated that the exiled Yemeni regime invited Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen, which is the same thing his regime attacks Assad for doing in Syria.

Kirby’s claims that Iranian-supplied missiles are being fired into Saudi Arabia are somewhat false.

While Houthi fighters are responding to the Saudi Air Force’s daily bombardments around Yemen, they are not using Iranian-supplied missiles.

The Zilzal-3 missiles being fired by the Houthi fighters are not Iranian-made, but rather, a smaller replica produced by Yemeni engineers, Al-Masdar’s Tony Toh reported.

So far, the Saudi-led Coalition has not issued any-sort of apology or remorse for their airstrike that killed hundreds of civilians last week; it is also unlikely that they will accept blame for massacring these people.

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The American people are receiving a highly distorted view of the Syrian war – much propaganda, little truth – including from one of the moderators at the second presidential debate, writes Robert Parry.

How ABC News’ Martha Raddatz framed her question about Syria in the second presidential debate shows why the mainstream U.S. news media, with its deep-seated biases and inability to deal with complexity, has become such a driving force for wider wars and even a threat to the future of the planet.

Raddatz, the network’s chief global affairs correspondent, presented the Syrian conflict as simply a case of barbaric aggression by the Syrian government and its Russian allies against the Syrian people, especially the innocents living in Aleppo.

ABC News' chief global correspondent Martha Raddatz.

ABC News’ chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz.

“Just days ago, the State Department called for a war crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ally, Russia, for their bombardment of Aleppo,” Raddatz said. “So this next question comes through social media through Facebook. Diane from Pennsylvania asks, if you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn’t it a lot like the Holocaust when the U.S. waited too long before we helped?”

The framing of the question assured a response from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about her determination to expand the U.S. military intervention in Syria to include a “no-fly zone,” which U.S. military commanders say would require a massive operation that would kill many Syrians, both soldiers and civilians, to eliminate Syria’s sophisticated air-defense systems and its air force.

But Raddatz’s loaded question was also a way of influencing – or misleading – U.S. public opinion. Consider for a moment how a more honest and balanced question could have elicited a very different response and a more thoughtful discussion:

“The situation in Aleppo presents a heartrending and nettlesome concern. Al Qaeda fighters and their rebel allies, including some who have been armed by the United States, are holed up in some neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo. They’ve been firing rockets into the center and western sections of Aleppo and they have shot civilians seeking to leave east Aleppo through humanitarian corridors.

“These terrorists and their ‘moderate’ rebel allies seem to be using the tens of thousands of civilians still in east Aleppo as ‘human shields’ in order to create sympathy from Western audiences when the Syrian government seeks to root the terrorists and other insurgents from these neighborhoods with airstrikes that have killed both armed fighters and civilians. In such a circumstance, what should the U.S. role be and was it a terrible mistake to supply these fighters with sophisticated rockets and other weapons, given that these weapons have helped Al Qaeda in seizing and holding territory?”

Siding with Al Qaeda

Raddatz also could have noted that a key reason why the recent limited cease-fire failed was that the U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels in east Aleppo had rebuffed Secretary of State John Kerry’s demand that they separate themselves from Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which now calls itself the Syria Conquest Front.

Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (U.N. photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (U.N. photo)

Instead of breaking ties with Al Qaeda, some of these “moderate” rebel groups reaffirmed or expanded their alliances with Al Qaeda. In other words, Official Washington’s distinction between Al Qaeda’s terrorists and the “moderate” rebels was publicly revealed to be largely a myth. But the reality of U.S.-aided rebels collaborating with the terror group that carried out the 9/11 attacks complicates the preferred mainstream narrative of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin “the bad guys” versus the rebels “the good guys.”

If Raddatz had posed her question with the more complex reality (rather than the simplistic, biased form that she chose) and if Clinton still responded with her recipe of a “no-fly zone,” the obvious follow-up would be: “Wouldn’t such a military intervention constitute aggressive war against Syria in violation of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg principles?

“And wouldn’t such a strategy risk tipping the military balance inside Syria in favor of Al Qaeda and its jihadist allies, possibly even its spinoff terror group, the Islamic State? And what would the United States do then, if its destruction of the Syrian air force led to the black flag of jihadist terror flying over Damascus as well as all of Aleppo? Would a Clinton-45 administration send in U.S. troops to stop the likely massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other ‘heretics’?”

There would be other obvious and important questions that a more objective Martha Raddatz would ask: “Would your no-fly zone include shooting down Russian aircraft that are flying inside Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government? Might such a clash provoke a superpower escalation, possibly even invite nuclear war?”

But no such discussion is allowed inside the mainstream U.S. media’s frame. There is an unstated assumption that the United States has the unquestioned right to invade other countries at will, regardless of international law, and there is a studied silence about this hypocrisy even as the U.S. State Department touts the sanctity of international law.

Whose War Crimes?

Raddatz’s favorable reference to the State Department accusing the Syrian and Russian governments of war crimes further suggests a stunning lack of self-awareness, a blindness to America’s own guilt in that regard. How can any American journalist put on such blinders regarding even recent U.S. war crimes, including the illegal invasion of Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

President George W. Bush in a flight suit after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to give his "Mission Accomplished" speech about the Iraq War.

President George W. Bush in a flight suit after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to give his “Mission Accomplished” speech about the Iraq War on May 1, 2003.

While Raddatz referenced “the heart-breaking video of a 5-year-old Syrian boy named Omran sitting in an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble after an air strike in Aleppo,” she seems to have no similar sympathy for the slaughtered and maimed children of Iraq who suffered under American bombs – or the people of Yemen who have faced a prolonged aerial onslaught from Saudi Arabia using U.S. aircraft and U.S.-supplied ordnance.

Regarding Iraq, there was the case at the start of the U.S.-led war when President George W. Bush mistakenly thought Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein might be eating at a Baghdad restaurant so U.S. warplanes leveled it, killing more than a dozen civilians, including children and a young woman whose headless body was recovered by her mother.

“When the broken body of the 20-year-old woman was brought out torso first, then her head,” the Associated Press reported, “her mother started crying uncontrollably, then collapsed.” The London Independent cited this restaurant attack as one that represented “a clear breach” of the Geneva Conventions ban on bombing civilian targets.

But such civilian deaths were of little interest to the mainstream U.S. media. “American talking heads … never seemed to give the issue any thought,” wrote Eric Boehlert in a report on the U.S. war coverage for Salon.com. “Certainly they did not linger on images of the hellacious human carnage left in the aftermath.”

Thousands of other civilian deaths were equally horrific. Saad Abbas, 34, was wounded in an American bombing raid, but his family sought to shield him from the greater horror. The bombing had killed his three daughters Marwa, 11; Tabarek, 8; and Safia, 5 who had been the center of his life. “It wasn’t just ordinary love,” his wife said. “He was crazy about them. It wasn’t like other fathers.” [NYT, April 14, 2003]

The horror of the war was captured, too, in the fate of 12-year-old Ali Ismaeel Abbas, who lost his two arms when a U.S. missile struck his Baghdad home. Ali’s father, his pregnant mother and his siblings were all killed. As the armless Ali was evacuated to a Kuwaiti hospital, becoming a symbol of U.S. compassion for injured Iraqi civilians, the boy said he would rather die than live without his hands.

Because of the horrors inflicted on Iraq – and the resulting chaos that has now spread across the region and into Europe – Raddatz could have asked Clinton, who as a U.S. senator voted for the illegal war, whether she felt any responsibility for this carnage. Of course, Raddatz would not ask that question because the U.S. mainstream media was almost universally onboard the Iraq War bandwagon, which helps explain why there has been virtually no accountability for those war crimes.

Letting Clinton Off

So, Clinton was not pressed on her war judgments regarding either Iraq or the Libyan “regime change” that she championed in 2011, another war of choice that transformed the once-prosperous North African nation into a failed state. Raddatz’s biased framing also put Republican Donald Trump on the defensive for resisting yet another American “regime change” project in Syria.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a press conference on Sept. 9, 2012. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a press conference on Sept. 9, 2012. (State Department photo)

Trump was left muttering some right-wing talking points that sought to attack Clinton as soft on Syria, trying to link her to President Barack Obama’s decision not to bomb the Syrian military in August 2013 after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus, which occurred six months after Clinton had resigned as Secretary of State.

Trump: “She was there as Secretary of State with the so-called line in the sand, which…

Clinton: “No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you, but at some point…

Trump: “OK. But you were in contact — excuse me. You were…

Clinton: “At some point, we need to do some fact-checking here.

Trump: “You were in total contact with the White House, and perhaps, sadly, Obama probably still listened to you. I don’t think he would be listening to you very much anymore. Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened.”

In bashing Obama for not bombing Syria – after U.S. intelligence expressed suspicion that the sarin attack was actually carried out by Al Qaeda or a related group trying to trick the U.S. military into attacking the Syrian government – Trump may have pleased his right-wing base but he was deviating from his generally less war-like stance on the Middle East.

He followed that up with another false right-wing claim that Clinton and Obama had allowed the Russians to surge ahead on nuclear weapons, saying:our nuclear program has fallen way behind, and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good.”

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Only after attacking Clinton for not being more militaristic did Trump say a few things that made sense, albeit in his incoherent snide-aside style.

Trump: “Now, she talks tough, she talks really tough against Putin and against Assad. She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t even know who the rebels are. You know, every time we take rebels, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else, we’re arming people. And you know what happens? They end up being worse than the people [we overthrow].

“Look at what she did in Libya with [Muammar] Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s out. It’s a mess. And, by the way, ISIS has a good chunk of their oil. I’m sure you probably have heard that.” [Actually, whether one has heard it or not, that point is not true. During the ongoing political and military strife, Libya has been blocked from selling its oil, which is shipped by sea.]

Trump continued: “It was a disaster. Because the fact is, almost everything she’s done in foreign policy has been a mistake and it’s been a disaster.

“But if you look at Russia, just take a look at Russia, and look at what they did this week, where I agree, she wasn’t there, but possibly she’s consulted. We sign a peace treaty. Everyone’s all excited. Well, what Russia did with Assad and, by the way, with Iran, who you made very powerful with the dumbest deal perhaps I’ve ever seen in the history of deal-making, the Iran deal, with the $150 billion, with the $1.7 billion in cash, which is enough to fill up this room.

“But look at that deal. Iran now and Russia are now against us. So she wants to fight. She wants to fight for rebels. There’s only one problem. You don’t even know who the rebels are. So what’s the purpose?”

While one can’t blame Raddatz for Trump’s scattered thinking – or for Clinton’s hawkishness – the moderator’s failure to frame the Syrian issue in a factual and nuanced way contributed to this dangerously misleading “debate” on a grave issue of war and peace.

It is surely not the first time that the mainstream U.S. media has failed the American people in this way, but – given the stakes of a possible nuclear war with Russia – this propagandistic style of “journalism” is fast becoming an existential threat.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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Tensions within the Republican Party exploded into public recriminations Tuesday, with presidential candidate Donald Trump issuing a series of strident statements denouncing House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, two leading congressional Republicans, for their refusal to support his campaign.

In a particularly revealing Twitter comment, Trump gloated over his open break with the Republican congressional leadership, declaring, “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

By “shackles” Trump is referring to the political norms of the US constitutional system, which he has defied with his threats, should he win the presidency, to prosecute and jail his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as well as his encouragement of violence and his denunciation of the electoral process as “rigged.”

At two campaign rallies Monday, Trump suggested that a Democratic victory in the presidential election would be illegitimate, the result of ballot-box fraud in key states such as Pennsylvania. He told his supporters to send poll watchers to “certain communities”—alluding to African-American neighborhoods in Philadelphia—to “make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us.”

Trump’s strident attacks on his own party as well as the Democrats make clear that his perspective is no longer to win the presidential election on November 8. His orientation is rather toward the building of an extra-parliamentary far-right movement for the period of social and political upheaval that will follow the elections.

Maine Governor Paul LePage, a fervent Trump supporter, said in a radio interview Tuesday that the United States needed someone like Trump to wield “authoritarian power” because “we’re slipping into anarchy.” LePage was only articulating in the crudest form the strongman politics that are the essence of the Trump campaign.

Trump has said that a collapse of the world financial system on an even greater scale than in 2008 is likely, and he is positioning himself to offer an ultra-right alternative to a Democratic administration that will become deeply unpopular as it imposes policies of economic austerity and imperialist war. Whether this approach costs the Republicans legislative seats on November 8 is irrelevant to Trump, because he anticipates that in the next period in American history, political issues are going to be decided in the streets, not in the halls of Congress.

This divergence underlies the conflict between the Republican presidential candidate and House Speaker Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, who announced Monday he would no longer defend Trump or campaign for him. Ryan informed the House Republican Caucus of his decision in a Monday conference call, during which all members of the House leadership declared their agreement while a minority of pro-Trump representatives loudly objected.

Effectively declaring the presidential race lost for the Republicans, Ryan said that while he would not withdraw his endorsement of Trump, his number one task was to defend the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, “making sure that Hillary Clinton does not get a blank check” when she becomes president next January.

The House Republican leaders were reacting to polling data showing that Clinton has opened up a double-digit lead over Trump nationally. Of particular concern to the Republicans were indications that Trump’s unpopularity was having an effect on congressional races. While loss of the Republican majority in the Senate had been widely considered possible, the 60-seat Republican majority in the House of Representatives was seen as impregnable until last week.

Trump unloaded on Ryan in a series of tweets on Tuesday, calling him “weak” and suggesting that the congressional Republican leadership would be responsible if he lost the election to Clinton. He also denounced the 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain, one of ten Republican senators who announced Saturday they could no longer support his presidential campaign.

Clinton’s response to these events has been a further shift to the right, redoubling her efforts to win support from leading figures in the Republican Party. Her campaign launched advertisements in at least four states that include testimonials from Republican voters who are supporting Clinton this year. Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said, “She is reaching out to voters that may well have supported Mitt Romney in 2012 and in a normal year might also be inclined to support the Republican nominee, but are so troubled by Donald Trump they are open to supporting Hillary Clinton.”

As part of this “outreach” effort, Clinton followed up a campaign rally at Wayne State University in Detroit Monday with a private meeting with Republican billionaire Dan Gilbert, the Quicken Loans mogul who has bought up most of downtown Detroit in order to make a killing from the city’s bankruptcy.

For the Democratic Party and its supporters in the media, Trump’s slide in the polls and the very public crisis of the Republican Party are cause for celebration and complacent sighs of relief. Typical is the column by Roger Cohen in the New York Times, which begins with a lengthy verbal lashing of Trump:

“It’s fortunate that we are less than a month from the election because we are running out of words to describe him: this phony, this liar, this blowhard, this cheat, this bully, this misogynist, this demagogue, this predator, this bigot, this bore, this egomaniac, this racist, this sexist, this sociopath. I will not go on. It’s pointless. Everyone knows, not least his supporters .”

Cohen and his like are hostile to acknowledging the widespread economic desperation that is driving millions of working people to vote for and support the billionaire demagogue. But as Times columnist David Leonhardt pointed out on the same page Tuesday, tens of millions of Americans confront economic stagnation and generally deteriorating conditions of life. He wrote:

“The typical household, amazingly, has a net worth 14 percent lower than the typical one did in 1984, according to a forthcoming Russell Sage Foundation publication. The life-expectancy gap between the affluent and everyone else is growing. The number of children living with only one parent or none has doubled since the 1970s (to 30 percent). The obesity rate has nearly tripled (to 38 percent). About eight million people have spent time behind bars at some point in their life, up from 1.5 million 40 years ago. While college enrollment has grown, the norm for middle-class and poor students is to leave without a four-year degree.”

Cohen dismisses this social layer as “the losers to turbo-capitalism,” but they comprise, as Leonhardt suggests, the vast majority of the working class and large sections of the middle class, for whom living standards have declined or, at best, stagnated.

Hillary Clinton, the handmaiden of the stock exchange and the Pentagon, has no credibility as a defender of working-class jobs and living standards. It is the complacent, right-wing defense of capitalism and imperialism by the Democratic Party—given a “progressive” coloration by its pseudo-left apologists, who share its obsession with the politics of race, gender and sexual orientation—that provides an opening for fascistic demagogues, whether Trump himself or a more politically skilled successor.

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In a speech stunning for its arrogance, venom, and the violence of its verbal and personal attack on the Russian Federation, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom today demonstrated Lord Bertrand Russell’s observation that “the British gentleman behaves with exquisite courtesy toward members of his own set, and then goes home and whips his black servant to death.”  

Surpassing even the sanctimonious and hypocritical Russophobic diatribes of the Permanent Representative of the U.S., during today’s Security Council meeting it was obvious that the UK now regards Russia as its current “whipping boy,” and this targeted attempt to degrade and humiliate Russia during today’s meeting is alarming, as the devaluation and dehumanization of a people is the first step in the psychological preparation for a physical attack, overt or covert on the people of a country:

“Normally I begin my statements in this Council with the words “thank you, Mr. President.”  I cannot do that today.  Because today, we have seen the fifth veto in five years on Syria from you, Mr. President….A veto that has once again denigrated the credibility and respect of the Security Council in the eyes of the world.  A veto that is a cynical abuse of the privileges and responsibilities of permanent membership, and I simply cannot thank you for that.”


( Of course, the UK is selling arms to the Saudis bombarding innocent civilians in Yemen, slaughtering more than 600 innocent civilians that very same day, as the UK Ambassador spoke.  Headless bodies and people with smashed legs were later removed from the UK and US funded devastation inflicted on innocent civilians of Yemen)

Contrary to the UK’s defamatory remarks, indeed, today Russia upheld the United Nations’ credibility and legitimacy as an objective organization, by vetoing the French-Spanish Resolution that would have, under Article 25 of the UN Charter, denied the Syrian government  control over its own airspace by “demanding immediate end to military flights over Syria’s Aleppo,” a blatant infringement of Syria’s sovereignty, and a violation of the UN Charter, and as the Russian Foreign Ministry stated, “The prohibition of flights over Aleppo provides cover to terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra and those militants allied with them.”

Unfortunately for the Ambassador of the UK, his very own BBC corroborates the Russian Foreign Ministry allegations, quoting none other than United States Vice-President Joseph Biden, who stated at the Kennedy School of Harvard:

 “Our biggest problem is our allies.  The Turks, the Saudis, the Emirates, etc.,….were so determined to take down Syrian President Bashar al Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war….they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tonnes of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, policies that ended up helping militants linked to Al Qaeda and ultimately ISIS.”

 “’Qatar and Turkey provided support to the Syria Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist militias and some of what they sent got to al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra’ according to a former administration official.”   This is the BBC, not RT.

 And for an encore, Hillary Clinton stated in a 2015 speech at the Brookings Institution that:

“nobody can deny that much of  the extremism in the world today is a direct result of policies and funding undertaken by the Saudi government and individuals.  We would be foolish not to recognize that.”

Further, in an article by Liz Goodwin and Michael Isikoff Clinton is quoted stating:  “’The Saudi and Qatari governments themselves are funding ISIS’”

Russia supported UN Special Advisor Steffan di Mistura’s proposal to personally help escort Al-Qaeda linked terrorists out of Aleppo to avoid their provoking government bombing of their enclaves.  However, on October 7, the terrorist group Fatah al-sham rejected di Mistura’s and Russia’s offer to help end the fighting, and stated their determination to control part of Aleppo, regardless of the resultant bloodshed they thereby made inevitable.

In a CNN article dated September 28, reiterated in part on October 5 by the New York Times:

“State Department spokesman John Kirby warned Moscow that it risked getting stuck in a quagmire if it didn’t work to end the violence. ‘The war won’t stop, opposition groups are certainly not going to pull back, Extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria, to expand their operations, which will include – no question – attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.  And Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags.’”

The abovementioned ‘quagmire’ is the inevitable outcome of the French-Spanish resolution seeking to “demand an immediate end to military flights over Syria’s Aleppo.”  The result of that ‘quagmire’ would be, ultimately, regime change in Russia, and the reduction of Russia to the status of a servile puppet, who can be “whipped to death,” which Boris Yeltsin had made possible..

In one of the noblest speeches ever delivered at the United Nations during this century, Venezuelan Ambassador Ramirez, in  words of brilliance, exposed the enormity of hypocrisy for which the Ambassadors demonizing Russia are guilty, listing the colonialist aggressions and current war crimes throughout the middle east, and throughout the world, for which the UK and the US have never been held to account.

Ambassador Ramirez demonstrated that the Russian veto prevented the UN Security Council from endorsing the obliteration of Syria, in the same Machiavellian way in which UN Security Council Resolutions 678 on Iraq and 1973 on Libya unleashed the pulverizing bombing campaigns which turned the previously functioning and progressive governments of Iraq and Libya into current failed states incubating and rampantly spreading terrorism. And  Ambassador Ramirez stated that he regretted that Russia had not exercised its veto power to prevent the UN Security Council from authorizing the war crimes committed by the US, the UK and NATO in Iraq and Libya.

And finally, with enormous courage, the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela accurately defined the cause of the stagnation at the UN Security Council:

“The fundamental reason for the lack of unity is based on the fact that certain permanent members of the Security Council are deeply involved in the conflict and supported the development of this type of asymmetric war, a new and absolutely illegal mechanism designed to overthrow Governments… No one in the Security Council can decide whether the Government of Syria is legitimate.  No one in the Security Council has the right to suppress the sovereignty of the Syrian Government over its own territory…  The exercise of the right of veto by Russia was criticized.  We believe that the right of veto serves in many instances to establish balance in situations that are otherwise totally out of balance.  If only they could have exercised the right of veto in connection with the intervention in Iraq or the NATO bombings in Libya, we would not be facing the regrettable situation in which we find ourselves today.”

The virulent beating of the war drums at the UN Security Council suggests a proxy war against Russia, and predictions of Islamic terrorist attacks against Russian cities raise the terrifying prospect of another stealthy campaign to destabilize Russia, turning that sovereign country into a docile pawn of Western oligarchic interests.  It would be prudent to recall that Russia is a nuclear power, and hubris doomed Napoleon and Hitler.  Unfortunately, this time hubris may also doom all humanity.

Author and Geopolitical analyst Carla Stea is Global Research’s Correspondent at United Nations headquarters, New York, NY. 

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US-Nuclear-War

“Mutually Assured Destruction”(MAD): The Nuclear Debate America Should be Having

By Adeyinka Makinde, October 11 2016

M.A.D. The concept of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ which posited the prospect of a global catastrophe in the event of a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union was one which permeated the popular consciousness of the people of both nations as indeed it did the rest of the world during the era of the Cold War. The realisation of Armageddon beckoning, replete with apocalyptic imagery of modern cities being turned into vast swathes of wasteland and of mass human annihilation, informed the policies of the respective superpowers.

trumpclintonDonald and Hillary: The Tragedy of the Great American TV Soap Opera. “Trajectory Towards a Nuclear Precipice”?

By Colin Todhunter, October 10 2016

The game plan is to destroy Russia as a functioning state or to permanently weaken it so it submits to US hegemony. Washington believes it can actually win a nuclear conflict with Russia. It no longer regards nuclear weapons as a last resort but part of a conventional theatre of war and is willing to use them for pre-emptive strikes. The situation in Syria is most worrying of all. Another theatre of conflict instigated by the US that now sees it and Russia facing each other directly, with Moscow warning the US about the consequences of its aggression: possible nuclear war.

US-Nuclear-War

Nuclear Poker … “The Third World War Had Been Fought to Save Al Qaeda”

By Israel Shamir, October 10 2016

If the greatest poker game of all times will end by nuclear grand slam, and the survivors will review the causes of WWIII, they will die laughing. The Third World War had been fought to save al Qaeda. Yes, my dear readers! Uncle Sam invaded Afghanistan in order to punish al Qaeda, and now he started the World War to save al Qaeda. Positively a great ambivalent passionate love/hate relationship between the American gentleman and the Arab girl, from 9/11 to Aleppo.

trumpclinton

A Presidential Contest of Deplorables: Will the Next US President be Announcing a ‘No-fly Zone’ over Syria? Which Means War with Russia

By Eric Zuesse, October 12 2016

This news-report will be short but important: One major-Party U.S. Presidential candidate is so gross that his answer when the radio host Howard Stern said the individual’s daughter is “a piece of a**” was that she has “always been very voluptuous”; his competitor is so warmongering that she says “I am advocating the no-fly zone”, which means that she wants the U.S. to warn Syria and Russia that if they don’t stop flying their warplanes over Syria, the U.S. will shoot down those warplanes. (That’s what a “no-fly zone” means.) Which of these two candidates presents the bigger likelihood of starting World War III as the U.S. President — of starting a war against Russia?

worldwar3

Global Tensions Between East And West Reach Boiling Point

By Graham Vanbergen, October 12 2016

Whilst sitting in a street cafe enjoying a Cappuccino watching busy people doing busy things it is hard to imagine that another war on the scale of 1939-45 could ever happen again, especially in Europe, after all, we’re all part of the European Union, a bloc of 28 nations set up in first place to end any future conflict on the continent. America has not experienced international conflict on its soil for over 200 years. But this over confidence in western security is misplaced as the events leading up to the next major conflict won’t be like the last.

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Donald Trump said he “disagrees” with his running mate over US intervention in Syria. Mike Pence had called for hitting Syrian government targets, but on Sunday the GOP nominee said that instead, the US should work together with Russia against ISIS.

“He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree,” Trump said during Sunday’s presidential debate, when asked whether he agreed with Pence’s calls for bombing Syria.

During the presidential debates on Tuesday Pence had said that the US should be ready to strike the Syrian army if Russia continues to be involved in what he called“barbaric actions” in Aleppo.

Both Trump and Clinton were asked what would they do about the situation in Aleppo, which the question – asked via Facebook – compared to the Holocaust.

Clinton blamed the situation in Aleppo on the Syrian government and Russia, accusing Moscow of not paying “any attention to ISIS” but only being “interested in keeping Assad in charge.”

“We need some leverage with he Russians because they’re not going to come to the negotiation table without leverage,”Clinton said, repeating her calls for establishing a no-fly zone and arming the Kurds, but acknowledging that sending US troops on the ground would not work.

“I would not use American ground forces in Syria, I think that would be a very serious mistake,” Clinton said.

“She talks rebels, but she doesn’t know who the rebels are.” Trump replied. “Almost everything she’s done in foreign policy, it’s been a mistake and it’s been a disaster.”

Trump took issue with Clinton’s claim that Russia was not fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS. Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up together because of our weak policy,” he said.

“I think it would be great if we got along with Russia. We could fight ISIS together,” Trump had said earlier in the evening.

What would happen if Aleppo falls, asked ABC’s Martha Raddatz.

“Aleppo… I think that it basically has fallen,” Trump replied.

The Republican nominee also repeated his criticism of the US military announcing an attack on IS in Mosul, thus sacrificing the element of surprise, ending with declaring that “Generals George Patton and Douglas McArthur are spinning in their graves at our stupidity in the Middle East.”

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The last ASEAN country to be studied within the book is Myanmar, which is by far the most susceptible of the entire bunch to Hybrid War. Truth be told, it’s been experiencing some form or another of Hybrid War since its independence in 1948, although this mostly took the form of Unconventional Warfare prior to 1988. From that point on, Color Revolutions were reversely integrated into the destabilization model there and offered as a “solution” to the world’s longest-running civil war, earning them the automatic support of the international (Western) community and lending them false normative “justification” in the eyes of the easily misled global masses.

Myanmar functions as the ideal case study for examining Hybrid War in practice, and it’s more relevant in the current geopolitical climate than ever before. All of the pieces are in place for a violent explosion and the country is rife with asymmetrical risks to its stability. The reason that Myanmar is such a powder keg is because foreign actors have been conspiring against its unity since independence, wanting to exploit one or another peripheral ethnic group for their own particular purposes. The decades-long military government can’t avoid shouldering some of the responsibility for the country’s present woes, as it was unsuccessful in crafting an inclusive and lasting sense of nationhood, though to be fair, the challenge that it was confronted with was immense.

Hybrid Wars 7. How The US Could Manufacture A Mess In Myanmar (I)

As it stands, the Suu Kyi government intends to institutionalize the state’s internal divisions through the implementation of Identity Federalism, whereby each rebel-controlled and identity-dissimilar part of the country receives a high degree of sovereign ‘self-rule’ over its internal affairs. This could essentially fracture the country and prevent it from ever functioning as an integrated unit again, although the primary beneficiaries of this externally imposed “Balkanization” would most assuredly be foreign (Western) resource companies and their affiliated state militaries, the latter of which are eager to use the forthcoming federalized statelets as ‘lily pads’ to in their quest to ‘leapfrog’ as close to China’s border as they can.

The geostrategic intent is to either control or cripple China’s transnational multipolar infrastructure projects in the country, with the China-Myanmar Energy Corridor that recently opened in January 2015 being the specific target of both types of intrigue. The US already succeeded in pressuring the Myanmar government to abandon China’s ambitious plans for a $20 billion railroad along that route, thus demonstrating the degree of control that it exercised over Naypyidaw even before their proxy Suu Kyi came to de-facto power.  However, China saw the writing on the wall and unprecedentedly began courting the “opposition” leader and directly involving itself in the domestic affairs of one of its partners for the very first time. If China somehow manages to clinch a deal with Suu Kyi that preserves its influence in the country and safeguards its strategic pipeline assets there (to say nothing of possibly expanding its infrastructure investments), then it’s predicted that the US would respond by unleashing a Hybrid War against the country, preferring to see Myanmar totally destroyed than ever again functioning as a reliable multipolar springboard for Beijing.

burma_pol_96The situation inside the country is extraordinarily complicated owing to the multilayered variables that have been impacting on events for decades, but a quick review of the most relevant aspects of Myanmar’s history is the most suitable first step for better understanding the existing state of affairs. As such, the research proceeds from this point and then naturally segues into the country’s history of Color Revolution attempts, detailing how Suu Kyi was able to successfully come to power over twenty years after the US first intended for her to do so. After that, the study dives into the contours of Myanmar’s civil war before highlighting the country’s pivotal geopolitical role in facilitating three separate transnational connective infrastructure projects, two of which are instrumental in deepening the influence of unipolarity over the state. Finally, the last part of the work applies all of the previously examined information in constructing the most likely Hybrid War scenarios that the US could engineer in order to maximally destabilize China’s periphery and put an end to what used to be its most promising chance to strategically alleviate its dependence on the Strait of Malacca.

A Nation In Flux

The country that’s currently called Myanmar used to be known as Burma, and governments that refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the ruling authorities still refer to it by its pre-1989 name. For the sake of consistency, the author will use Burma when referring to the lands of present-day Myanmar up until the name change was initiated, and thenceforth the country will be referred to by its constitutional and legal name when describing all events afterwards. Myanmar’s history is extensive and dates back thousands of years, but the scope of the present study can only accommodate for the most relevant aspects of its past. That being said, it categorizes events into four distinct time periods ranging from the country’s early history until World War II; the post-independence years of U Nu and Ne Win; the failed 1988 “8888” Color Revolution to the equally failed 2007 Saffron Revolution; and Myanmar’s current role in the Pivot to Asia and electoral transition to the Suu Kyi-led government.

From Kingdom To Colony

Burma’s historical story can be summed up as one in which the Bamar demographic majority progressively became the dominant force within their area. Being located in the Indochinese Peninsula and directly across the Bay of Bengal from India, Burma’s people underwent a strong degree of Indianization and consequently came to adapt a very pious attitude towards Buddhism. This is most vividly represented in the historical city of Bagan, the capital of the ancient Pagan Kingdom, where the rulers erected thousands of Buddhist structures. This polity ended up falling apart by 1287, after which most of the territory of Burma split into three generally separate entities: the Kingdom of Mrauk U in current-day Rakhine State; the Kingdom of Ava in what came to be known as “Upper Burma” (or upstream/central Burma); and the Hanthawaddy Kingdom of “Lower Burma” (or the Irrawaddy Delta area).

The ethnic Rakhine/Arakanese-majority Mrauk U Kingdom was able to retain its sovereignty until 1784 because of the geographic protection afforded to it by the Arakan Mountains, but ethnic the Bamar Ava and Hanthawaddy Kingdoms struggled between themselves for leadership along the entire Irrawaddy River, with Ava’s former satellite of Toungoo eventually coming out on top in 1541. That was the year when both “Burmas” were unified, following which the rivalry between the Upper and Lower portions receded into history and the legendary Bayinnaung began building his regional empire. This historic figure succeeded in uniting the modern-day areas of Northeastern India (the “Seven Sisters”), Myanmar (minus Rakhine State/Mrauk U), Thailand, and Laos under his rule, although his conquests fell apart shortly after his death. In response, Burma and Siam entered into a regular period of warfare that would continue until the mid-1800s, although most of this focused on the areas of Northern Thailand and the Tenasserim Peninsula, roughly measuring out to around the modern-day border between Myanmar and Thailand.
The Toungoo Dynasty was succeeded by the Konbaung Dynasty in 1752, and at its height, it achieved control over Northeastern India and Mrauk U, the latter occurring in 1785 and remaining in effect until the present day. This means that the contemporary territory of Rakhine State had remained historically separate from Burma for hundreds of years, thus fostering a unique sense of identity and pride among its inhabitants. This factor will be returned to a future point, but it’s important for the reader to not forget that the area has a deeply ingrained sense of identity separateness and historical pride, as it directly relates to the current situation of Buddhist nationalism against the so-called “Rohingya”/Bengali Muslim minority. As it turned out to be, the Konbaung Dynasty didn’t last long, since the British soon set their imperial sights on Burma and steadily colonized it through a series of three wars between 1824-1886.

The First Anglo-Burmese War lasted from 1824-1826 and resulted in the UK gaining control of Northeastern India, Mrauk U, and Peninsular Burma near the Tenasserim Hills. In effect, this meant that Mrauk U was only part of unified Burma for less than 40 years before it separated once more for another 60 years, further underlining the different historical development that it experienced separate from the rest of the country. After that war, the British Empire attacked the country again from 1852-1853 in order to obtain control over the former Hanthawaddy lands of Lower Burma, and finally, it completed its colonization after the Third Anglo-Burmese War  from 1885-1886. Despite nominally ruling over all of the Burmese lands, the British struggled to exert their influence in the frontier areas of modern-day Shan, Kachin, and Chin states, thus marking the beginning of Myanmar’s ongoing predicament whereby the peripheral regions actively resist the central authority’s push in exercising its sovereignty there.

During the occupation, the British sought to mitigate this issue by recruiting frontier locals into the colonial administration and army, specifically targeting those that had earlier converted to Christianity. American missionaries had a heavy presence in the frontier areas and had been actively proselytizing there since the early 1800s. They importantly converted a large number of ethnic “Karen”, a nebulous exonym given to a variety of Thai-bordering tribes, and this group was among the most loyal to the British throughout the colonial period. Unsurprisingly, faced with the loss of their administrative privileges after independence, this was the first of the peripheral groups to formally rebel against the government and ignite what would later grow into the world’s longest-running civil war. The relevance in pointing all of this out is that the identity separateness of Burma’s frontier groups had already posed a governing challenge to the authorities since the beginning of the occupation, but that this factor of tension was co-opted in some ways in order to leverage influence against the ethnic Bamar and mostly Buddhist central majority, all to the divide-and-rule benefit of the British.

Arrival of British forces in Mandalay on 28 November 1885 at the end of the Third Anglo-Burmese War.

The UK had initially administered Burma as part of India, and it wasn’t until 1937 that it granted it the status of a separate colony. Burmese nationalism and anti-colonial sentiment began growing in the early 1900s and progressively remained steady until World War II. The colony was invaded by the Japanese in early 1942, and they used a locally sourced but foreign-trained fighting force called the “Burmese Independence Army” to attack alongside them in order to ‘justify’ their aggression. Notably, this group included Aung San and the Thirty Comrades, the collective term that’s now used in referring to the Burmese who went abroad to seek pro-independence support. Most of them reached positions of influence under the Japanese regime that they later used to foster a legitimate independence movement against the fascists. Aung San, for example, was appointed War Minister in 1943 of what the Japanese proclaimed to be an “independent Burma”, but he would eventually turn on his patrons and arguably become the country’s most famous independence hero and the internationally recognized founder of the modern state. After the end of World War II, Burma was able to secure international support in convincing Thailand to abandon its annexation of eastern Shan State (the territory east of the Salween River) and restore Yangon’s nominal pre-war sovereignty over the area.

U Nu And Ne Win

Burma was basically only ruled by two men from 1948-1988, and these were U Nu and Ne Win. The former was the first Prime Minister of Burma whereas the latter had been Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces prior to his 1962 coup (having served a brief interim period as Prime Minister beforehand). The only reason that they were able to come to power is because popular independence hero Aung San was assassinated in summer 1947, just before his country formally gained its independence the year afterwards. Prior to his death, he had importantly helped negotiate the Panglong Agreement with the country’s diverse minority groups which instituted a loose federal arrangement as a compromise solution for national unity. Particularly, the frontier areas of Shan, Kachin, and Chin states were allowed to practice “full autonomy in internal administration”, but the Karen weren’t granted such legally enshrined privileges because they chose to boycott the event. Resultantly, they began a simmering anti-government insurgency soon thereafter which evolved into a full-blown war of independence in 1949, marking the official start of the civil war that soon came to involve all of the other peripheral minorities.

General Ne Win

General Ne Win

Despite the war that was playing out in the countryside, U Nu hoped that Burma would evolve into a stable, non-aligned state. His foreign policy didn’t pander to either of the two blocs, although he and his military were opposed to the communist rebels that were fighting in the hinterland. Nevertheless, Yangon never particularly sided with the West on the international arena and endeavored to retain an air of independence during the Cold War. Try as the government may, it wasn’t able to pacify the insurgent frontier, and the communist rebellion continued to pose a threat to the country’s stability. U Nu and Ne Win reached a backdoor political arrangement whereby the latter would temporarily rule the country from 1958-1960 in order to mollify the growing anti-government crisis within the country, which had by then begun to dangerously turn some urban dwellers against the authorities. The ruse was ultimately unsuccessful, however, and when another substantial political crisis erupted in 1962, Ne Win simply seized power for himself and carried out a coup.

This power grab proved to be internationally unpopular and led to Burma’s isolation from the West. Part of the reason for this is because the then-General Secretary of the UN from 1961-1971, U Thant, was a Burmese national, so the general public was more aware of his country and its corresponding major political events, and they tended to see the coup as a negative development. Part of the reason behind this perception is because Ne Win quickly implemented what he referred to as the “Burmese War To Socialism”, which was a centrally controlled economic model that nationalized most of the country’s businesses. Considering that this occurred at one of the peaks of the Cold War, there was no way that the US and its allies could have supported it, yet despite their disdain and general condemnation, Ne Win did not use this strategic opportunity to fully ingratiate his country with the Soviet bloc.

The military leader believed that Burma should pursue a stringently non-aligned foreign policy, and furthermore, it was still under threat from the Chinese-supported Communist Party of Burma (CPB). While the USSR and China had by then already begun to express hostilities towards one another, the fear in Yangon was that allying too close with Moscow might result in the CPB falling under Soviet influence instead and consequently being used as a Russian tool for geostrategically pressuring the government (e.g. to set up military bases). Burma was also weary of upsetting their larger Chinese neighbor, despite its active assistance to the CPB, so it chose not to provocatively aggravate the regional situation by interacting with the Soviet Union on the same level as it had previously. For these reasons, the USSR was kept at arm’s length, yet bilateral relations were still quite fruitful and the two states never experienced any significant problems. Burma was thus able to pragmatically depend on the Soviet Union during this time, although the level of economic engagement between the two still trailed significantly behind what Burma had earlier enjoyed with the West.

Soviet Marshall Georgiy Zhukov and Burmanese PM U Nu (left) talk to the members of parliament of Burma in Rangoon, February 1957.

On the domestic front, Ne Win fended off a couple of student protests that threatened his rule early on, but his suspension of the country’s constitution (and with it, the Panglong Agreement) unwittingly exacerbated ethno-regional tensions and caused insurgent activity to explode in the periphery. This was especially evident in Shan and Kachin states, and it prompted the government to reactively increase its operations in these regions, which thereby intensified the civil war. Ne Win sought to decrease tensions after the enactment of the 1974 Constitution, which symbolically allotted these regions and their Rakhine and Karen counterparts with “state” status. As part of his reforms, Ne Win also abolished military control over the government and moved towards administering it via the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) that he established right after his 1962 coup. Although the country was nominally civilian-led from this point up until the reestablishment of military power in 1988, it was still under the strong influence of individuals from the armed forces, with the perfect example being how General Ne Win simply assumed leadership of the BSPP in order to prolong his stewardship over Burma.

The “8888” Color Revolution, China, And The Saffron Revolution

Suu Kyi:

Regretfully, Ne Win wasn’t able to revitalize his country’s economy, and it continued its downward spiral throughout the next 14 years. Food prices spiked and the government’s social expenditure plunged, obviously combining to produce the stereotypical conditions necessary for imminent destabilization. The state fell into debt, yet the authorities were compelled to continue pumping large amounts of money into the military in order to confront the threats emanating from the never-ending civil war. Central mismanagement enflamed the already brewing economic crisis, and short-sighted currency decisions sparked a financial meltdown. The deteriorating domestic conditions breathed life into a simmering opposition movement that finally began to make itself public via student protests in late 1987. Despite its ups and downs, this anti-government force continued into the summer of 1988 and had by August displayed the obvious characteristics of what is now known as a Color Revolution. The military was provoked into violence and the state was predictably thrown into chaos soon thereafter, which unexpectedly prompted Ne Win to resign on 8 August 1988 after what the West has supportively taken to calling the “8888 Uprising”.

The country remained in chaos until the military’s State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) reestablished order on 18 September, but the brief interim period provided an opportunity for Color Revolution proxy Aung San Suu Kyi to become a global icon. She’s the daughter of the assassinated pre-independence leader Aung San and lived most of her life abroad, having resided in the UK prior to her return to Burma. She was in the country at this politically opportune time in order to care for her elderly mother, and just so happened (if one is to believe the Western mainstream media narrative) to decide to seize the moment and become an anti-government icon. She was totally unheard of beforehand but quickly and aptly capitalized off of her father’s namesake in order to tap into the patriotic historical memory that most Burmese have retained when reminiscing about the run-up to their country’s independence. With Burma now burning before their eyes because of the Color Revolution that was unleashed against it, many people felt a romanticist attraction to Suu Kyi simply because her family name made them imaginatively ponder how different their country could have been had World War II hero Aung San not been assassinated.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

These raw emotions, purposely summoned at a time of preplanned national collapse and manipulated fear, were easily exploited by Suu Kyi and her Color Revolution supporters as they sought to seize power over the country, but the SLORC’s surprise reestablishment of order preemptively offset their expected plans. A little over a week later on 27 September 1988, Suu Kyi responded by founding the National League for Democracy (NLD) in order to institutionally ‘legitimize’ her regime change plans and to serve as a vehicle for propelling her into the seat of power that she had earlier failed to acquire. The year afterwards, SLORC changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar, and then went through with holding elections in May 1990. The NLD had productively used the past 20 months to actively campaign for their “pro-democracy” cause, and despite Suu Kyi having been placed under house arrest since July 1989, they ended up receiving nearly 60% of the vote in this election. Sensing that an NLD-led government would be a Color Revolution success for the US alongside its forerunners in Eastern Europe, the military retained control of the country and did not recognize the results, pledging instead to maintain national unity until the domestic conditions were suitable for a political transfer.

In the meantime, they continued Suu Kyi’s house arrest for most of the time between then and her ultimate release in 2010, but instead of being seen as the necessary step in safeguarding national security that it was, it was widely interpreted by the American-influenced global media as “political oppression” and inadvertently transformed her into a worldwide icon for “democracy”. The politically influenced decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to her in 1991 ensured that she’d become a household name all across the globe and that the ensuing years until her eventual release would be marked by a slow-motion, low-intensity Color Revolution and never-ending regime change pressure on the authorities. In hindsight, it’s difficult to propose a more acceptable solution to the obvious threat that Suu Kyi posed in facilitating a foreign proxy takeover of the state, so it’s challenging to consider what other options the military authorities would have had at their disposal short of killing her, which they clearly would never have done simply because of the unquestionable reverence that all Myanmar citizens have for her bloodline (despite whatever disagreements they may have with her policies and patrons).

The China Factor:

Following the emergency restoration of military rule over the country, the state authorities speedily moved towards striking a strategic partnership with China. Their largest neighbor had long been the one which it had the most tepid relations, drawing back to the Sino-Burmese War of 1765-1769 when the country preserved its independence against the Qing Dynasty’s advances. That hadn’t really been many significant interactions after that, partly owing to Burma later having to fight against the British and subsequently falling under London’s imperial control. The famed Burma Road was used to supply anti-Japanese forces during World War II, but relations with the country’s northern neighbor quickly fizzled after the People’s Republic of China started sponsoring the Communist Party of Burma and relations remained tense until Beijing reversed its policy in the 1980s. The timing couldn’t have been more advantageous for Myanmar, since its economy had collapsed by that time and the Soviet Union was unable to provide it with any sustainable support. The newfound international isolation that it experienced after SLORC (later to be rebranded as the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC) abruptly halted Suu Kyi’s Color Revolution pushed it into finding whatever alliances were available to provide it with arms, money, and international support, and China was more than willing to oblige with all three.

20160423_asm986From the Chinese standpoint, Myanmar has copious untapped resources that could greatly aid in developing neighboring Yunnan Province. Additionally, clinching a strategic partnership with Myanmar would stabilize its southern periphery and safeguard against any surprises (or so it was thought). China correctly identified Myanmar as being the most viable conduit for facilitating its non-Malacca access to the Indian Ocean, thereby bestowing the country with an immense strategic importance to Beijing. Diversifying away from its dependence on the Strait of Malacca is one of the grand strategic objectives of the Chinese leadership, and being able to access Myanmar’s physical (including hydroelectric) resources was an added benefit in this arrangement. Extrapolating further, having yet another strategic ally along India’s borders would increase Beijing’s position vis-à-vis New Delhi and complement nicely with its existing relationships with Pakistan, Bangladesh, and for a period of time, Sri Lanka. By being the first Great Power to directly ally with the Myanmar military government, China hoped to acquire a premier foothold in the country’s economy that could further embed its influence. The reasoning in Beijing was that if a relationship of complex interdependence could be established, then it would become increasingly likely that Myanmar would see its relationship with China as absolutely indispensable to its interests and therefore be less likely to drift out of Beijing’s influence.

The Color Of Blood:

The US grew to be displeased with the fact that the Myanmar military authorities still remained in power, especially since it was largely due to Chinese full-spectrum support and Beijing was receiving major geostrategic benefits from the bilateral partnership. As it often does in such situations, the US convened an asymmetrical covert intervention aimed at toppling the government, albeit this time using Buddhist monks as the proxy of choice as opposed to student demonstrators. This was a calculated decision which demonstrated that the US intelligence services were well informed about the critical role that Buddhism plays in the country, especially in terms of the normative influence that monks have traditionally exercised over their local communities. If the US could engineer the manipulated perception that the dispensers of “normative judgement” in Myanmar society had turned against the government, then it hoped that this would spark a larger rebellion among the masses that could repeat the widespread destabilization of the “8888 Uprising” and topple the military.

a-young-monk-holds-his-alms-bowl-upside-down-during-the-2007-uprising_medium_thumbThe immediate trigger for what came to be known as the “Saffron Revolution” was the government’s unannounced decision to remove fuel subsidies after a visit by IMF and World Bank officials in August 2007. Both of these organizations had been pressuring the government to ‘loosen up’ its control over the economy by rolling back or rescinding its subsidization policies, and as expected, the moment that it was implemented, it led to catastrophic results for the country. Fuel prices obviously spiked, and this in turn increased the prices of food and other goods that are dependent on motorized transport in order to reach their markets. Quite quickly, then, the country found itself in the midst of another socio-economic crisis that was easily ‘nudged’ by the US into becoming a political one. Buddhist monks arose as the chief anti-government vanguard, with the more radical elements within them leading the seditious charge in agitating the rest of the masses into a full-blown riot.

Provocateur-monks functioned very similarly to and in close coordination with their provocateur-protester counterparts, as both groups endeavored to mislead more people within their ranks into joining the growing movement. Due to the heavy information warfare component that was utilized during these events, it can be surmised that many of the participants may not have been fully aware of the treasonous role that they were playing in joining the protests, having no idea about the violent regime change ambitions that the provocateur elements had in mind to pursue.

On an informational level, the simultaneous organizing of separate but coordinated religious and secular “protest” elements was useful in bestowing the organizers with a multitude of angles from which to cover the events, and it also invented the perception that the monks were leading people into the streets to follow them due to their religious influence over society (conveniently forgetting the existence of independently organized secular regime change actors). Most importantly, however, these two compatible Color Revolution forces acquired a critical mass of power and influence when they finally combined in the streets of Yangon, representing a tactical regime change innovation whereby separate autonomously organized anti-government blocs unify on command into a united front. This tactic would later be repeated and perfected during EuroMaidan seven years later.

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency. He is the author of the monograph “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” (2015). This text will be included into his forthcoming book on the theory of Hybrid Warfare.

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This news-report will be short but important:

One major-Party U.S. Presidential candidate is so gross that his answer when the radio host Howard Stern said the individual’s daughter is “a piece of a**” was that she has “always been very voluptuous”; his competitor is so warmongering that she says “I am advocating the no-fly zone”, which means that she wants the U.S. to warn Syria and Russia that if they don’t stop flying their warplanes over Syria, the U.S. will shoot down those warplanes. (That’s what a “no-fly zone” means.)

Which of these two candidates presents the bigger likelihood of starting World War III as the U.S. President — of starting a war against Russia?

Which of these two candidates has drawn more media-criticism and lost the more voter-support, as a consequence of these two revelations — the grossness of the one, and the warmongeringness of the other, candidate?

According to current polls, it seems extremely likely that the next President of the U.S. will be announcing a no-fly zone — ordering Syria and Russia to stop bombing ISIS and/or certain other jihadists in Syria (such as Al Qaeda in Syria). What will happen if Russia ignores the warning, and continues bombing all jihadist groups there, including the ones that the U.S. and Sauds have been arming and will be warning Syria and Russia not to bomb? Do U.S. voters care what would happen? Do they even think about what would happen? These Americans are obligated to produce these decisions, but not all of them will do that.

America’s voters will, in fact, be making those decisions, answering those questions, by no later than Election Day, November 8th. But other Americans will abstain, and will simply let the Americans who do participate, make these decisions, which all Americans, and all the world, will have to live with, if not die from. How patriotic will the non-participants — the people who won’t make a choice between the two deplorables — be? How unpatriotic will they be? How intelligent will the non-participants be? How stupid will they be?

Will the people who vote for a third-party candidate — someone who stands no realistic chance of winning even a single one of the 50 states in the Electoral College — belong in the category of Americans who make a choice, or instead in the category of Americans who decline to choose?

Sometimes, news-reporting consists of clarifying what the issues are in an upcoming election. Those are the issues in the current contest for the White House. On the one side is a gross person. On the other side is a warmongering person. The deadline for making this choice will be November 8th.

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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Brexit and the Despotism of the British Pound Sterling

October 12th, 2016 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

While British Prime Minister, Theresa May, keeps insisting that Brexit pathway will be a smooth, relatively painless process filled without dramatic compromise to lifestyle and outlook, the traders, stockbrokers and wolves of the City have gone about their own business.  They, the suggestion goes, knew better, whereas the idiotic Brexiteer ventured to the ballot in total ignorance.

Central to the post-Brexit dark is discussion about the British pound, which has been accorded magical powers to reward, anoint or strip.  Reading its fortunes is tantamount to consulting a wizened oracle, though the results are sometimes puzzling.

The last few days have seen the currency take a bruising, a spectacle not reflected in the bullish performance of the FTSE 100.  While the pound fell below $1.23 against the US dollar, the stock exchange closed near an all-time high, hitting an intra-day record of 7,129.83.

The rush for the tea leaf readers, insensible or otherwise, was on, and Michael Saunders of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee suggested that the giddy decline would continue. “Given the scale and persistence of the UK’s current account deficit, I would not be surprised if sterling falls further, but I am fairly agnostic as to whether further depreciation is likely.”[1]  As expected, a not particularly useful assessment, hugging escapist agnosticism.

The pound has been hitting a few snags in the hype, and purchasing power matters to such publications as The Economist, which has asserted that Brexit threatens that “gold mine” of “government bonds, London property, and sterling itself.”  Good old Mr Foreigner tends to be keen in owning such assets, a feature that drives up the price of sterling.  This, it asserts, usually results in the “Dutch disease” whereby exports become more expensive, impeding the competitiveness of local industries.

Brexit, claims the publication, removes that disease while undermining the gold mine, or oil deposits, if you wish to push the analogy.  “Brexit is a little like Saudi Arabia swearing off the oil business, declaring it would rather work for an honest living even if that makes its people poorer.”  This might well be deemed “noble,” but reflected a distinct lack of imagination or awareness on the part of the voter, falling for a misguided policy “so that they could work harder for what they get” (The Economist, Oct 11).

One of the central features that the debate pivots on is re-orientating the focus away from the zealous provision of financial services, Britain’s long trumpeted strong suit, with a focus on manufactured goods and tourism.

This, suggests Greg Ip of the Wall Street Journal (Oct 7), may well lead to a useful study in “deglobalization,” with the raising of fences, and the refocusing on the internal dynamics of the country.  Such is the consequence of reasserting some crude variant of sovereignty, however much it is disliked by the rampant free market vigilantes.  “In the end Britons may be a bit poorer than if they’d stayed, but more self-reliant and more in control of their own borders.”

The economic gatekeepers like Saunders, who had a stint as a Citigroup economist before entering the Bank of England establishment, saw promise in a lower pound precisely because it would ease the burden for exporters.  Never mind what those items might be.  “If you didn’t have a drop in the pound, the effect may be a particularly weaker export performance and the drop in the pound will probably offset that.”

Some of the economic preachers have become little Pollyannas.  The IMF’s former deputy-director for Europe, Ashoka Mody, was beaming with enthusiasm for the UK “rebalancing,” claiming it to be “a stunning achievement that a once-in-a-fifty-year event should have gone so smoothly.”[2]

The former Governor of the Bank of England, Lord King, sees a post-Brexit environment in terms of a wonderland of prospects, again ones which feature the exploits of a lower pound economy suitably placed to wage economic assault.  Hadn’t Britain been attempting to have lower house prices, a lower exchange rate accompanied by higher interest rates for some time?

Naturally, many of these assumptions (the “may” brigade is the only one in full employment in Britain these days) is based on the UK getting bullish in its supply of products, a point that gets increasingly complicated in the event of being prized out of chains in the European Union. Those priding British sovereignty have simply assumed that Britons will be cleverer and more resilient in that regard.  They will find magical markets unhindered by the sluggishness of the Euro zone.[3]

Again, the battle between market place, with the mammon of prosperity paraded before Britain, and the virtues of reforming a system that is not only creaking but in some cases collapsing, continues to play out.  Central to that battle remain the fortunes, if one can call them that, of British sterling.

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

Notes

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Why the New Silk Roads Terrify Washington

October 12th, 2016 by Pepe Escobar

Almost six years ago, President Putin proposed to Germany ‘the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.’

This idea represented an immense trade emporium uniting Russia and the EU, or, in Putin’s words, “a unified continental market with a capacity worth trillions of dollars.”

In a nutshell: Eurasia integration.

Washington panicked. The record shows how Putin’s vision – although extremely seductive to German industrialists – was eventually derailed by Washington’s controlled demolition of Ukraine.

Three years ago, in Kazakhstan and then Indonesia, President Xi Jinping expanded on Putin’s vision, proposing One Belt, One Road (OBOR), a.k.a. the New Silk Roads, enhancing the geoeconomic integration of Asia-Pacific via a vast network of highways, high-speed rail, pipelines, ports and fiber-optic cables.

In a nutshell: an even more ambitious version of Eurasia integration, benefiting two-thirds of the world population, economy and trade. The difference is that it now comes with immense financial muscle backing it up, via a Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), and an all-out commercial offensive all across Eurasia, and the official entry of the yuan in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights; that is, the christening of the yuan as a key currency worth holding by every single emerging market central bank.

At the recent G20 in Huangzhou, President Xi clearly demonstrated how OBOR is absolutely central to the Chinese vision of how globalization should proceed. Beijing is betting that the overwhelming majority of nations across Eurasia would rather invest in, and profit from, a “win-win” economic development project than be bogged down in a lose-lose strategic game between the US and China.

And that, for the Empire of Chaos, is absolute anathema. How to possibly accept that China is winning the 21st century / New Great Game in Eurasia by building the New Silk Roads?

And don’t forget the Silk Road in Syria

Few in the West have noticed, as reported by RT, that the G20 was preceded by an Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Essentially, that was yet another de facto celebration of Eurasia integration, featuring Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

And that integration plank will soon merge with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union – which in itself is a sort of Russian New Silk Road.

All these roads lead to total connectivity. Take for instance cargo trains that are now regularly linking Guangzhou, the key hub in southeast China, to the logistics center in  Vorsino industrial park near Kaluga. The trip now takes just two weeks – saving no less than a full month if compared with shipping, and around 80 percent of the cost if compared with air cargo.

That’s yet another New Silk Road-style connection between China and Europe via Russia. Still another, vastly more ambitious, will be the high-speed rail expansion of the Transiberian; the Siberian Silk Road.

Then take the closer integration of China and Kazakhstan – which is also a member of the EEU. The duty-free Trans-Eurasia railway is already in effect, from Chongqing in Sichuan across Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland all the way to Duisburg in Germany. Beijing and Astana are developing a joint free trade zone at Horgos. And in parallel, a $135 million China-Mongolia Cross-Border Economic Cooperation Zone started to be built last month.

Kazakhstan is even flirting with the ambitious idea of a Eurasian Canal from the Caspian to the Black Sea and then further on to the Mediterranean. Sooner or later Chinese construction companies will come up with a feasibility study.

A virtually invisible Washington agenda in Syria – inbuilt in the Pentagon obsession to not allow any ceasefire to work, or to prevent the fall of its “moderate rebels” in Aleppo – is to break up yet another New Silk Road hub. China has been commercially connected to Syria since the original Silk Road, which snaked through Palmyra and Damascus. Before the Syrian “Arab Spring”, Syrian businessmen were a vital presence in Yiwu, south of Shanghai, the largest wholesale center for small-sized consumer goods in the world, where they would go to buy all sorts of products in bulk to resell in the Levant.

The “American lake”

Neocon/neoliberalcon Washington is totally paralyzed in terms of formulating a response – or at least a counter-proposal – to Eurasia integration. A few solid IQs at least may understand that China’s “threat” to the US is all about economic might. Take Washington’s deep hostility towards the China-driven AIIB (Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank). Yet no amount of hardcore US lobbying prevented allies such as Germany, Britain, Australia and South Korea from joining in.

Then we had the mad dash to approve TPP – the China-excluding, NATO-on-trade arm of the pivot to Asia that was meant to be the cherry of the mostly flat Obama global economic policy cake. Yet the TPP as it stands is practically dead.

What the current geopolitical juncture spells out is the US Navy willing to go no holds barred to stop China from strategically dominating the Pacific, while TPP is deployed as a weapon to stop China dominating Asia-Pacific economically.

With the pivot to Asia configured as a tool to “deter Chinese aggression”, exceptionalists have graphically demonstrated how they are incapable of admitting the whole game is about post-ideological supply chain geopolitics. The US does not need to contain China; what it needs, badly, is key industrial, financial, commercial connection to crucial nodes across Asia to (re)build its economy.

Those were the days, in March 1949, when MacArthur could gloat, “the Pacific is now an Anglo-Saxon lake”. Even after the end of the Cold War the Pacific was a de facto American lake; the US violated Chinese naval and aerial space at will.

Now instead we have the US Army War College and the whole Think Tankland losing sleep over sophisticated Chinese missiles capable of denying US Navy access to the South China Sea. An American lake? No more.

The heart of the matter is that China has made an outstanding bet on infrastructure building – which translates into first-class connectivity to everyone – as the real global 21st century commons, way more important than “security”. After all a large part of global infrastructure still needs to be built. While China turbo-charges its role as the top global infrastructure exporter – from high-speed rail to low-cost telecom – the “indispensable” nation is stuck with a “pivoting”, perplexed, bloated military obsessed with containment.

Divide and rule those “hostile” rivals

Well, things haven’t changed much since Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski dreaming in the late 1990s of a Chinese fragmentation from within, all the way to Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, which is no more than futile rhetorical nostalgia about containing Russia, China and Iran.

Thus the basket of attached myths such as “freedom of navigation” – Washington’s euphemism for perennially controlling the sea lanes that constitute China’s supply chain – as well as an apotheosis of “China aggression” incessantly merging with “Russia aggression”;after all, the Eurasia integration-driven Beijing-Moscow strategic partnership must be severed at all costs.

Why? Because US global hegemony must always be perceived as an irremovable force of nature, like death and taxes (Apple in Ireland excluded).

Twenty-four years after the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Guide, the same mindset prevails; “Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival…to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union and southwest Asia”.

Oops. Now even Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski is terrified. How to contain these bloody silky roads with Pentagon “existential threats” China and Russia right at the heart of the action? Divide and Rule – what else?

For a confused Brzezinski, the US should

“fashion a policy in which at least one of the two potentially threatening states becomes a partner in the quest for regional and then wider global stability, and thus in containing the least predictable but potentially the most likely rival to overreach. Currently, the more likely to overreach is Russia, but in the longer run it could be China.”

Have a pleasant nightmare.

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Global Tensions Between East And West Reach Boiling Point

October 12th, 2016 by Graham Vanbergen

Whilst sitting in a street cafe enjoying a Cappuccino watching busy people doing busy things it is hard to imagine that another war on the scale of 1939-45 could ever happen again, especially in Europe, after all, we’re all part of the European Union, a bloc of 28 nations set up in first place to end any future conflict on the continent. America has not experienced international conflict on its soil for over 200 years. But this over confidence in western security is misplaced as the events leading up to the next major conflict won’t be like the last.

You might be surprised to learn that just two years ago out of a total of 195 countries, 151 of the world’s nations were involved in some form of conflict. What is worse is that the study from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) shows that the world has been getting progressively less peaceful over the last decade.

Russian leaders want to prevent Ukraine from joining Western alliances, particularly NATO, which Russia has always viewed as a national-security threat.

The founder and chairman of the IEP said at the time of the findings: “Given the deteriorating global situation we cannot be complacent about the institutional bedrocks for peace: our research shows that peace is unlikely to flourish.” He was right, because just two years later the same index reports that only 10 countries in the world are now free from conflict.

All over the world whether referring to the threat of Islamism in the West, Russia and America’s stance in the Mid-East or China’s muscle flexing in the Far-East, politicians, religious leaders and the establishment media are using the word WARmore and more to characterise their own security challenges and to demonise their opponents in the eyes of their citizens. A global propaganda machine is readying its citizens for what may come sooner than most of us would think possible.

By far, the greatest risk for global conflict to erupt overnight is happening right now in the Middle East. For this report, we will focus on Syria but don’t forget that there are six critical and 10 significant war zones on the world today according to the Global Conflict Tracker.

The west, predominantly the USA, UK and France and its coalition are not invited by the sovereign nation of Syria or its people to fight extremism on its territory and therefore one could argue it is acting against international law. Syria was one of the first countries in the world to sign up to the United Nationsin 1945 as a former member of the United Arab Republic.

However, every continent on earth is now represented in the battle for Syria.

Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria reached a joint agreement at the end of last year to work with each other which was also reported to have reached agreements on co-ordination of operations in Syria with Jordanand Israel. Just two days ago, China publicly backed Russia’s positions on “the most important” global issues, including Moscow’s take on the Syrian and Afghan conflicts but six weeks earlier had signed a tripartite agreement to support Russia and Iran over Syria.

At the same time last year the Islamic Nations Coalition including Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, Togo, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen are represented.

The American led coalition includes; United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Denmark and Italy. Albania, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Portugal, South Korea, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Sweden, Taiwan and Ukraine.

The France led coalition was arranged a few months before and joined the US led coalition which include; Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia and Spain.

Some of the country representations are obviously symbolic and political but if conflict erupts they won’t be soon after.

The British press reports that global conflict is inevitable

The Metro (4th Oct) leads with the banner “Russia tells citizens ‘nuclear war with the West could happen soon.” It reports that “As tensions rise in the middle East, an official TV channels in Russia has issued a chilling warning that war with the West could be imminent. Zvezda, a nationwide TV service run by the country’s Ministry of Defence, said last week, ‘Schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow.’

The Independent‘s headline (10th Oct) “Russia tensions with US ‘more dangerous’ than during the Cold War” states that Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walker Steinmeir says during the Cold War superpowers had ‘red lines and respected them’. Steiner was quoted in Germany’s newspaper Bild as saying: “It’s a fallacy to think that this is like the Cold War. The current times are different and far more dangerous”.

The Mirror (3rd Oct) goes with the flow and headlines with “Russia prepares citizens for NUCLEAR WAR with the West and builds huge underground shelters in Moscow.” The Mirror reports that “The country’s media and officials have claimed the West wants to launch an attack on Russia because of its intervention in Syria. Officials announced on Friday underground shelters had been built which could provide shelter for Moscow’s 12 million people in the event of an attack.”

And there are reports from all over the world with Newsweek adding to the concerns with”Europeans Are Quietly Preparing For War With Russia” as it reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin adopts his military brinksmanship across the region, including the buzzing of NATO ships and aircraft by Russian warplanes.

Australia’s News.Com reports Moscow vs Washington: Is Russia preparing for war with the US? Tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets has predicted that a “direct military confrontation” will occur between the global powers on par with the Cuban missile crisis.

In the U.S. War Talk Returns to Russian TV as U.S. Ties Hit Deep Freeze, – at this point we could go on and on – you get the idea.

1 in 122 people on earth are now displaced by conflict – more than at any time during World War 2

Other signals

Britain’s most senior diplomat was talking during an emergency debate in Parliament (11th Oct) and obviously feels there is no future whatsoever in even attempting a diplomatic solution as he has openly called for “demonstrations outside the Russian embassy” in London over its bombing of targets in Syria. Boris Johnson also voted for the bombing of Syria last December 2nd.

Veteran broadcaster Vladimir Pozner told the BBC: “There’s a real feeling now that America is out to prove it is the only superpower. The continued expansion of NATO is seen by the Russian leadership, perhaps incorrectly, as being a real threat.
“There is a danger of real confrontation, perhaps leading to some kind of military engagement and war.”

In June, Nato announced that it will be carrying out its biggest war games in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. The 10-day military exercise included 31,000 troops who will have to react to a “nightmare scenario”. Then Russia did the same but concluded from war-games it would win a European conflict.

War leaders quotes

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in September 2014 “The current security architecture in Europe, which relied on both the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter, has now collapsed, following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine”

Angela Merkel launched a scathing attack on Vladimir Putin a few weeks back amid fears the growing verbal conflict between the two leaders will soon escalate into a large-scale, brutal conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has cancelled a planned visit to France next week, the Kremlin said Tuesday (11th Oct), in an apparent snub to French President François Hollande, who suggested “Moscow was guilty of war crimes in Syria”.

Britain’s General Sir Richard Shirreff stoked nuclear fears (May 2016) when he warned Europe would be locked in nuclear war with Russia by 2017. The FT reported that “Shirreff, who until retiring two years ago was Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the most senior European officer in Nato, has a simple message: “the political and military decisions we are currently making, and have already made, are now propelling us into a future war with Russia.”

The US secretary of state tries to reach agreement with his Russian counterpart before Crimea referendum March 2014 where over 90% of Crimean’s voted to stay with Russia

Facing off

In the most dramatic diplomatic escalation involving the Syrian conflict to date, John Kerry issued an ultimatum to Russia just three weeks ago, in which he emphatically warned his opposite Russian number Sergey Lavrov to stop bombing Aleppo or else the US would suspend all cooperation and diplomacy with Russia.

Russia then suspended the nuclear cooperation deal with the US or was it the other way round – dependant on what you read. Then the US carried out that threat and suspends all cooperation talks with Russia over Syria.

Just one week later a Top US general warns that a Syrian “no-fly” zone means certain war with Russia. And just a few days after that, Russia reminds America what forces and capabilities in has in the air and on the ground in Syria.

US-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces on September 17, resulting in the deaths of 83 servicemen. Washington said the airstrike was a ‘mistake’, however Damascus claimed the incident was a “blatant aggression.” Here, we are on the brink.

The escalation ladder

Russian Government Officials Told To Immediately Bring Back Children Studying Abroad and in one of three scenario’s ZeroHedge speculates that it “underscores the severity of the ongoing diplomatic crisis and just how significant the upcoming isolation between Russia and the West is likely to become in the coming months.”

The Russian president assembles the western media and pleads with them to understand just how dangerous the situation has got for the Russian people in this (excerpt) VIDEO and literally pleads “how do you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction.”

Yesterday (Oct 11th) the Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev steps forward and warns of the risks of nuclear war – and his fears about tensions between Russia and America.

In the meantime a US Army chief threatens war with Russia stating “we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.” The Army Chief of Staff was countering a senior Russian official, who said that “Russia can now fight a conventional war in Europe and win.” There was no diplomatic opposition by the US state dept for these comments.

No-Fly zone imposed over Syria will mean a full-on open continental war with boots on the ground by all parties. In the meantime, both the US led and Russian led coalitions are facing off in the United Nations Security Council over the crisis with proposal, veto and counter-proposal with no-one reaching agreements. In this political ‘no-mans land’, anything can happen – and probably will.

“Everybody’s patience with Russia has run out,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday (10th Oct).

Germany’s Spiegel International explains in a lengthy 5-part piece that the extremely dangerous nature of this proxy war is becoming more apparent than ever. It argues that a serious escalation between Moscow and Washington is on the horizon and how Syria is becoming the new global war.

Russia is now sending two additional warships and a missile corvette with anti-aircraft capabilities to the Mediterranean. The Russian Defense Ministry has openly threatened to shoot down US warplanes over Syria.

The scene is set. Diplomacy has failed, ceasefires have failed. Threats are escalating. All parties are preparing for a wider conflict. Don’t forget that this article has been written on the back of mainstream press articles. We are now at the mercy of the global power players.

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An email exchange between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta, posted Monday by WikiLeaks, frankly acknowledges that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) is funded and supported by Washington’s chief allies in the Arab world.

The September 2014 exchange was contained in one of the 2,086 documents posted by WikiLeaks Monday, following up on the release a week ago of over 2,000 more of Podesta’s emails and attachments.

At the time of the exchange on ISIS, Podesta was a White House counselor to President Barack Obama. One of the most powerful figures in the Democratic Party establishment, he is the former White House chief of staff to Bill Clinton, the former chairman of the Obama transition and a corporate lobbyist for corporations like WalMart, BP and Lockheed Martin. For her part, Clinton had left her post as secretary of state over a year earlier.

The email acknowledges that the sources for the assessment of the Saudi and Qatari support for ISIS “include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.”

The document calls for increased reliance upon the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga as a key proxy force for combating ISIS in Iraq, pointing to the Kurdish militia’s “long standing relationships with CIA officers and Special Forces operators.”

It adds: “While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

The email continues: “This effort will be enhanced by the stepped up commitment in the [Kurdish Regional Government]. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious US pressure.”

The Obama administration has publicly embraced Saudi Arabia as its closest Arab ally and the ostensible leader of an “Islamic alliance” against terrorism. The Saudi regime is the patron of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which purportedly represents the so-called “moderate” opposition that is also supported by Washington in the more than five-year-old war for regime change against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Officially, the US administration has maintained that, while wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and Qatar had helped finance ISIS, the despotic governments of these oil monarchies were blameless.

This pretense was blown in October 2014, barely a week after the Podesta-Clinton email, when Vice President Joe Biden told an audience at Harvard University that the Saudi regime, along with other Gulf sheikdoms and Turkey, had “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

“We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them,” Biden added.

The US State Department subsequently “clarified” the vice president’s remarks and Biden himself apologized for “any implication that Turkey or other Allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL [ISIS] or other violent extremists in Syria.”

The contents of the Clinton-Podesta email are supplemented by a separate email released by WikiLeaks that includes an excerpt from a secret speech delivered by Clinton in 2013 that was flagged as problematic by her staff. In it she claimed that US attempts to “vet, identify, train and arm cadres of rebels” in Syria had been “complicated by the fact that the Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons–and pretty indiscriminately–not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.”

And previously, WikiLeaks posted a secret State Department memo signed by Clinton in 2009 that affirmed: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups.”

The Clinton camp has responded to the latest release of emails by ratcheting up its virulently anti-Russian campaign, claiming that WikiLeaks was acting as a pawn of the Kremlin and that the material released may have been altered to serve Moscow’s foreign policy purposes.

In her debate Sunday with her Republican rival Donald Trump, however, Clinton herself acknowledged the authenticity of the documents, attempting to defend a statement quoted in one of them from a speech to real estate investors in which she declared that in politics “you need both a public and private position.” She claimed that her inspiration for this approach was Abraham Lincoln.

The method of the “public and private” position is clearly in force in relation to Saudi Arabia, and for good reason.

Saudi Arabia remains a key pillar of political reaction and imperialist domination in the Middle East, with its ruling monarchy constituting the world’s chief customer of the American arms industry. Some $115 billion in US weapons and military support have poured into the kingdom since Obama took office in 2009.

More importantly, the Saudi government support for Al Qaeda, ISIS and similar Islamist militias has developed in close collaboration with the CIA, which coordinated the flow of arms, money and foreign fighters into Syria from a station in southern Turkey.

Moreover, such collaboration began long before the Syrian civil war, dating back to the US-orchestrated war against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s, where Al Qaeda got its start under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, who collaborated closely with the CIA and Pakistani intelligence.

The determination of the US ruling establishment to maintain a veil of secrecy over this collaboration was underscored by Obama’s veto–subsequently overridden–of legislation allowing Americans to sue foreign governments alleged to be responsible for terrorist attacks in the US. The clear target of the bill was Saudi Arabia, based on ample evidence of Saudi government involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

The overriding fear within the administration and US ruling circles is that any serious probing of the Saudi role in these attacks would uncover the complicity of elements within the US intelligence agencies themselves in the events of 9/11.

Another significant element of the Clinton-Podesta email is its welcoming of the ISIS 2014 offensive in Iraq. It states that “the advance of ISIL [ISIS] through Iraq gives the U.S. Government an opportunity to change the way it deals with the chaotic security situation in North Africa and the Middle East. The most important factor in this matter is to make use of intelligence resources and Special Operations troops in an aggressive manner.”

In other words, ISIS provided a pretext for launching a renewed US military intervention aimed at furthering the strategic goal of American hegemony in the Middle East under the guise of a struggle against terrorism.

The email exchange further exposes Hillary Clinton’s deep involvement in all of these crimes.

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One suspects that the decision to bar José Bové from entering Canada was taken jointly by the French and Canadian governments with the intent of blocking protest and debate on a far-reaching trade agreement which will have devastating economic and social implications throughout Canada and the EU. It will also contribute to the eventual trade integration of the EU and NAFTA.

“European Parliament MP José Bové was barred from entering Canada Tuesday night by the Canada Border Services Agency.

The anti-globalization activist and opponent of the free trade treaty with the European Union had been stuck at Trudeau airport customs since 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The French politician is best known for having contributed, while he was a union leader, to the demolition of a McDonald’s restaurant to protest against the free market in agriculture. He served two sentences in the early 2000s for civil disobedience, and has paid several fines for having destroyed certain plants. His campaign against McDonald’s 15 years ago was reportedly one of the reasons invoked by customs officers to refuse entry.

Bové was slated to participate in a discussion on free trade Tuesday evening at Centre St-Pierre in Montreal. The event was held anyway, though it started 20 minutes late. Other speakers included Nathalie Guay of Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale (RQIC), and Anne-Céline Guyon of Stop Oléoduc.

“He is not a criminal. He is an elected member of the European Parliament,” Bové’s press secretary, Jean-Marc Desfihes, said Tuesday night. (Montreal Gazette October 12, 2016)

Council of Canadians Press Release: 

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls arrives in Canada this week to promote CETA (the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). At the same time, another prominent voice, José Bové, Member of European Parliament and well-known anti-globalization activist, will be highlighting the dangers of the deal during his visit to Montréal on October 11-13.

Bové was a sheep farmer and trade union activist who rose to international celebrity status after the symbolic demolition of a McDonald’s under construction in 1999. This was to protest the WTO’s liberalization of agriculture. Elected as a Green Member of European Parliament since 2009, he is in Canada to highlight another looming disaster: CETA.

“Following in the footsteps of his colleague, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, French Prime Minister Mr. Valls will be here to sell you a dream about a ‘progressive’ agreement, but that is simply not so,” says Bové. “It is urgent to fight against CETA on both sides of the Atlantic. CETA is a Trojan horse for multinational corporations that seek to use it to bend rules as they wish. For family farms that provide quality food, whether European or Canadian, it is a major setback. The rules simply stack the deck in favour of corporate agriculture, and many farmers could lose their livelihoods.”

José Bové’s visit to Montréal is being hosted by the Council of Canadians, the Quebec Network for Continental Integration (RQIC), Vigilance OGM, National Farmers Union,  Union paysanne. It also involves these RQIC members: Attac-Québec, CSD, CSN, and Génération nationale.

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election to the leadership of the Labour Party on an increased vote is a significant victory for the left in the Labour Party and for progressive politics in Britain. It is a victory that everyone on the left celebrates.  It demonstrates the strength of support that exists for changing the politics of the Labour Party: for shifting the balance of power within our society, away from the political and economic elites towards the majority, to empower and enfranchise the working class and communities hardest hit by the long run attacks upon the welfare state.

It is absolutely clear that Corbyn seeks to bring significant change to the Labour Party: to restore its foundational commitment to the interests and advancement of the working class, to defend and extend its greatest achievement – the welfare state, and to make headway where previously there has been little progress – in making Labour a champion of international peace and justice, against British economic interventionism, war and nuclear weapons. All those who seek advance for this agenda wish to support Corbyn and his allies in bringing change to the Labour Party so it can implement some, or all, of these policies.

The influx of new members into the Labour Party to support Corbyn’s political vision has been remarkable. Yet obstacles to the implementation of extensive change in the Labour Party are considerable, as has been seen over the last year.  Both the British establishment and its counterparts within the Labour Party have fought to undermine Corbyn and remove him from office. This has failed but the strength of the right in the party’s apparatus and structures has obstructed much of the work he would wish to do.  But there are also a number of other historical and political factors which militate against the kind of extensive change that some on the far left would wish to see.

The Labour Party has always been a broad church politically, never predominantly the preserve of the left. As Corbyn demonstrated in his speech at the recent Labour Party conference, uniting the party means political pledges which are acceptable to the overwhelming majority of the party – progressive, but very much in the Labour tradition. These include supporting the NHS, introducing a National Education Service, investing in jobs and homes, and restoring workers’ rights and some elements of public ownership. All these are excellent commitments and the restoration of the Labour Party to this political programme is very much to be welcomed.

Policies supported by Jeremy Corbyn and the left that are not tolerated by the right, such as anti-war, anti-Trident, anti-NATO have been sidelined or rejected, in line with Labour policies throughout most of its existence. Attlee, whose government introduced the welfare state, also helped found NATO and committed Britain to nuclear weapons, and there are those in the Corbyn leadership, as well as in the trade unions, the PLP and across the membership who either genuinely support this perspective, or condone it in order to achieve change on more ‘mainstream’ issues like rail re-nationalisation . Other issues are also highly contested and structural obstacles exist to progressive change – such as the rule change voted at the recent conference, preventing Labour councillors from voting against cuts budgets thereby allowing the situation to continue where many working class people and communities see Labour as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

So the question facing Labour is not whether it can become an anti-capitalist party of the radical left. That is not within the framework of what is politically possible. Political intervention from the far left with that in mind will damage Corbyn’s prospects for achieving change within the Labour Party.  The question is whether his leadership can succeed in recovering Labour for a social democratic reform agenda. Such a development would be unprecedented and of enormous political significance, across Europe and beyond, potentially impacting on other similar parties across Europe – the SDP in Germany, the Socialist Party in France.

Since the 1990s, all nominally social democratic parties have embraced neo-liberalism. Blair consolidated that process in Britain as Jospin did in France and Schroeder did in Germany and countless others elsewhere. Nowhere has this political process yet been reversed. The possibility exists in Britain because, owing to the first past the post electoral system, no numerically significant radical left party has emerged to present an anti-neo-liberal alternative the like of which we have seen across Europe and elsewhere globally. Thus Corbyn has been the recipient of much of the anti-establishment, anti-neo-liberal sentiment which has brought significant electoral support to parties like Podemos and Syriza. If Corbyn can harness this desire for change to restore social democracy to the Labour Party that will be an enormous advance for the people of Britain, with a potential impact on mass social democratic parties beyond our national boundaries. The social democratic space in British politics needs to be occupied once again by a mass party capable of government.

Many on the left have opted to join the Labour Party in order to support this development. Others take the view that in addition to the struggle to restore the Labour Party to its original remit and ethos, it is also crucial for an alternative left politics to be expressed – anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist – as it has been in politics in Britain and globally, for a century or more. The purpose of this is not just to set out the extent of what is possible and necessary for a real transformation of society and human, economic and social relations, but to be able to pursue in practical terms the politics that this vision represents.  This political space, to the left of social democracy, also needs to be occupied – in Britain, as it is across Europe and beyond. Left Unity is part of that radical left current, with parties and movements across Europe, acting in solidarity and recognising that the problems we face in Britain cannot be solved on a national basis. They are systemic problems that the working class internationally is organising against and we are part of that process.

The hopes and dreams of so many of those who support Corbyn – and many more across society who don’t articulate their aspirations in party political terms – can only ultimately be fulfilled by a radical transformation of society, where democracy is not just a political process but an economic process in which the people must be supreme. We want to see the investment and reform programme which Corbyn proposes to improve people’s lives, but we also recognise that capitalism is fundamentally anti-people and our interests cannot be reconciled with the interests of capital. A clear political expression of anti-capitalist principles and policies is an essential part of the political spectrum – a small part no doubt in Britain – but the experience of the last two centuries shows this political analysis to be correct and to be widely supported internationally.

As too is our opposition to imperialism and our critique of British foreign policy and the tools it uses to retain its global position whatever the suffering it inflicts. A clear voice against war and nuclear weapons has never been more necessary, for Britain to play a different kind of role in the world based on justice and equality between states, not perpetuating neo-colonialism. Such a voice is necessary against racism and discrimination, for migrants, refugees and free movement, for the rights not only of workers from all countries, but of women and girls, of disabled people and all those suffering as a result of the brutal policies inflicted by ruling classes here and internationally.

Above all, our position is not just about stating the case for an alternative, it is about taking action, working wherever we can in our communities, with our class within and beyond our national boundaries, against austerity, against the sanctions, against the racist attacks and discrimination. There are diverse ways of contributing to the struggle for a just and equal society and this is ours.

Κate Hudson is a British left wing political activist and academic who is the General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and National Secretary of Left Unity
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Yemen Is the Unspoken Shame of Our Generation

October 12th, 2016 by Darko Lazar

Ordinarily in Yemen, it would be the thick plumes of black smoke that are indicative of the fact that something terrible has taken place – no matter what the location. But on this occasion, the dark curtain that obscures everything in sight is a welcome distraction; a murky drape that disguises something that even the most morbidly graphic of imaginations would have a hard time concocting. Severed, charred body parts are strewn about.

Yemenis attend the funeral of members of the same family on October 8, 2016

The grim sight is compounded by frequent, bloodcurdling screams – themselves a horrifying combination of disbelief, anguish, and rage punctuated by vows for revenge – just to name a few.

This was the scene at a funeral hall packed with thousands of mourners in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, on October 8.

According to the country’s health officials, over 140 people were killed and more than 525 were injured. Saudi air raids targeted the community hall where mourners had gathered to pay their last respects to the late father of Yemen’s interior minister, Jalal al-Rowaishan.

But Sana’a-based journalist Mohammad al-Attab says that the death toll is likely to rise.

“The hall is one of the biggest in Yemen. It has the capacity of over 4,000 and there were a lot of people attending the funeral. When I went to the hospitals after the attack, I saw a lot of injured people, many of them in critical condition,” al-Attab explained.

Described as one of the most lethal incidents since the start of the Saudi-led military campaign in March of last year, the attack caused outrage in a country already accustomed to Saudi-perpetrated massacres.

Al-Attab described the aftermath of the bombing as a “pool of blood”.

“When you enter the hall you can see flesh, blood and concrete mixed together. People’s bodies were shredded all over the place. It is really something very difficult to even imagine. Also the smell is unbearable because the Saudis use missiles that burn people alive,” al-Attab said.

Disingenuous Condemnation

Saturday’s attack was quickly followed by a wave of ‘condemnation’.

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned the “horrific attack”, adding that the humanitarian community was “shocked and outraged” by the airstrike.

However, the co-founder of one of the very last NGOs still operating in war-torn Yemen describes the attack as a “legal genocide approved by the UN.”

Dr. Riaz Karim, who co-founded the Yemen Organization for Humanitarian Relief and Development [MONA], says, “the rest of the world suffers from the ‘Ostrich Syndrome’. They have buried their heads in the sand hoping it will go away. Yemen is not the forgotten war of the decade; Yemen is the unspoken shame of our generation”.

Since the start of the conflict, more than 10,000 people, including 2,236 children have been killed, according to modest estimates. The Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools and factories, leaving over 80% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.

The Sana’a-based executive director of the Horn of Africa Center for Strategic & International Studies, Bischara Ali, believes that Riyadh’s war on Yemen enjoys, “full impunity from the so-called UN/HR/MSM and the entire western world”.

But the airstrikes on Sana’a, which come less than three weeks after the US Senate approved a US$1.15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, apparently provoked a reaction from the White House.

“We have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led coalition and are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with US principles, values and interests, including achieving an immediate and durable end to Yemen’s tragic conflict,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Washington, a major arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, is reportedly attempting to distance itself from Saturday’s devastating bombing, warning Riyadh that US-Saudi security cooperation was “not a blank check.”

For Saudi dissident and director of the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs, Ali Al-Ahmed, the Obama Administration’s supposed condemnation is “nothing new”.

“There are dozens of American officers inside the Saudi Ministry of Defense Aerial Command and Control Center, that tell the planes what to bomb. Those American officers, who are located six levels below ground at the Saudi air force command base, have a direct line of communication to the US military central command in Florida, which they use to receive information. The Americans continue to be part of the military operation [in Yemen]. It’s very typical of American officials to talk about how horrible they feel about this or that, but this is not about how they feel. This is about the people who have died because of their policy. If the Obama Administration wanted this war to stop, Obama would have called [King] Salam and said ‘stop this war’. It’s very clear that the American administration is lying here, trying to weather the storm,” Al-Ahmed says.

Double-Tap Strike

Footage emerging after the attack, along with eyewitness accounts, demonstrates that the Saudis had once again resorted to using the so-called ‘double-tap’ strike strategy, which involves repeated air strikes that target civilians and rescuers responding to an earlier bombing raid at the same location.

Rima Kamal, who works with the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], confirmed that “several air strikes” had hit the venue.

A number of senior intelligence and military officials were reportedly attending the funeral precession at the time of the attack. Sana’a mayor Abdul-Qader Hilal was confirmed to have been killed, while the commander of the Yemeni Republican Guard and the commander of the security forces in Sana’a are also believed to be among the dead.

The list of killed VIPs has led some to conclude that the attack was in fact a “targeted assassination.”

“This was an intentional attack against top Yemeni government officials, and the double-tap proves it. They [the Saudis] knew who was going to be there and that’s why they targeted the funeral,” Ali Al-Ahmed alleges.

But others believe Saudi Arabia’s motives are more sinister.

According to pro-Ansarullah activist, Hussain Al Bukhaiti, “the Saudis knew where all of the people who were at the funeral reside and they track all of their movements. If they really wanted to target them, why didn’t they target them alone?”

Al Bukhaiti points to similar attacks carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, which have killed an extraordinarily high number of civilians, even though no officials were in attendance.

“In my city of Dammar, the Saudis killed and injured over 120 people when they targeted a wedding on October 8 of last year. There were no high-ranking officials present. There is nothing different about this attack,” Al Bukhaiti says.

The Sana’a attack comes at a time when Riyadh is grappling with an economic crisis, growing political instability at home and territorial losses resulting from Houthi advances in the kingdom’s southern provinces.

Yemeni-born journalist, Yousef Mawry, who fled Sana’a last year, thinks that the timing of the attack is significant.

“Saudi Arabia realizes their demise is close at hand. They are killing innocents indiscriminately because they are simply in a state of confusion. They’ve already lost the war and now they are beginning to realize their entire regime is at stake,” Mawry opines.

Al Bukhaiti shares this point of view, warning that the Saudis are currently engaged in a campaign of collective punishment against the Yemeni nation.

“This is an act of frustration because the Saudis have targeted the entire Yemeni military and they have failed to stop the Houthis from attacking the Saudi border, and they have failed to stop the Houthis and the Yemeni army from launching ballistic missiles. So they want to punish the people,” Al Bukhaiti concludes.

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Human kind is facing the most formidable threats in all its history

– The planet is going rapidly towards an irreversible climatic disaster, facing simultaneously all sort of threats to its ecosystem

– We are facing again the specter of a possible major nuclear conflict

– The vast majority of the human population lives now in conditions which are, sometimes, even worse than those prevailing 500 years ago

Huge banks, state and “private” secret services are developing like cancer in our societies.

For the first time in human History the development of productive forces has attained the level required to satisfy all “reasonable” human needs and permit a life in dignity to all inhabitans of the planet, but, in the same time, inequality has beaten all historical records.

– Also for the first time in History, the extremely limited minorities, already controlling most of power, money and knowledge, are also in the process of acquiring the technological capacity to impose a totalitarian order which will make Hitler seem a poor boy, an alchemist compared to modern chemists.

But maybe more worrisome than all those, already very worrisome “objective” facts, is the level of discourse emitted by the two persons competing to become Presidents of the most powerful country of the world. They want to rule the superpower and the world. But you will hardly find in the insults they exchange any meaningful idea on what they will do with the formidable challenges in front of their country and the planet.

Words and ideas do matter, even if they are false or ridiculous. Karl Marx used to say that Ideas are in delay compared to the Being and this is quite true. But the opposite is also true. Ideas – or their absence – is also a clear indication where a society is heading, what it chooses to know and what to ignore, what truths it needs and what illusions it prefers.

Our century was announced as a “century of catastrophes” – traditional wars in the Middle East, less traditional in Europe, like the one that destroyed already Greece and it goes on pushing it into the abyss, nuclear disasters like in Fukushima (a clear result by the way of the submission of nuclear industry to the prerogatives of a sick society in general and of the Finance in particular, the consequences of which remain hidden to a great extent). We are living in an era of “end of hope”, of huge crisis or collapse of nearly all the modern projects promising to make Humans subjects of their History (Enlightment and Democracy, Socialism, Welfare Capitalism, blind belief into the automatic social benefits of Science, Psychanalysis etc.).

But humans cannot survive without hope and without meaning (project). The destruction of meaning in the political discourse of the most powerful states of the world, like the USA, is a more than clear sign for the accelerating decomposition of modern capitalism (if capitalism is still the right word for a system which is going into a kind of post-modern feudalism, opening the way to the end of Humans, the destruction of the Planet and a dictatorship of the Machines). The destruction of meaning may announce our own destruction.

It is only normal that people, feeling by instinct the terrible prospects ahead, go back to past identities, like nation or religion, or try to find new hopes (for. ex. the social movement crystallized around Sanders during the US election campaign). Still the “dark” forces seem, for the time being, to dominate the scene.

Coming back to the US elections what we see? One of the candidates seems to represent the end of Rationality, the other the end of Emotion, both the end of any kind of Ethics. But we know from the Ancient times that those three properties, when and only when they coexist, are the ones differentiating Humans from human-like monsters. (The situation in Europe, in particular in France, which is the “mother” of modern Europe, as far as politics and ideas is concerned, is not better. Probably it is even worse than in the American center of the world system).

The characters dominating the political class reflect the illness of the “system”. Maybe this process is old enough. But after the “end” of the Cold War (not ended by the way) and the collapse of the USSR, it has come to the fore nearly everywhere in “Western Democracies”, the United States of America included.

Read the following commentaries on the second Trump-Clinton debate published in the The Nation and the Counterpunch respectively [1,2]. (Or, if you prefer, you may also skip the news and just look again to the films of Stanley Kubrick, especially the last one. His genius will help you discern the nature of forces governing, to a large extent, our world and also their – unannounced – project).

As the great French genetician Albert Jacquard has put it, “the main obstacle to grasp reality consists of the limits of our imagination”.

Dimitri Konstantakopoulos is a journalist and writer. He served as special advisor to the Office of Greek PM Andreas Papandreou (1985-88), working on Arms Control and East-West relations. He has been chief correspondent of the Athens News Agency in Moscow (1989-1999). He has been the Secretary of the Movement of Independent Citizens (2011-12) and a member of the Secretariat and the Central Committee of SYRIZA (2012-13). He left this party in July 2015. A member of the editorial board of the international review of self-management “Utopie Critique”, he is actively involved in the Delphi international Initiative for Democracy. He is the author of three books on relations between CPSU and Greek CP, the Cyprus conflict and US policy in Eastern Mediterranean and on relations between Nation and the Left.

Notes

1. https://www.thenation.com/article/the-strangest-debate-of-the-weirdest-election-ever/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DAILY_2016_10_10&utm_term=daily

2. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/10/

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This article was written in late September 2016

This week’s tempo of news breaking events exposing Hillary and the US government’s aggressive hubris is only accelerating the closer the November election looms.

The globalists are well aware that a growing segment amongst the global masses are on to them and their evil ways. So the elite is growing increasingly desperate trying to plug all the holes of endless false narratives exposing the rampantly corrosive corruption and in-our-face criminality of the entire Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Clinton dynasty. Thus, the dangerous treachery of warmongering rhetoric and reckless threats are ratcheting up daily.

But one key development seems to have barely gotten noticed this week. On October 1st Obama took us one enormous step closer to stripping away our free speech and access to accurate news sources via the internet as virtually the only truth disseminator left on the planet that’s not already oligarch owned and controlled by the six mega-media corporations.

As of this last weekend, Obama surrendered US control over important functions of the internet to the United Nations. Tech experts warn that placing internet domain responsibility into the hands of a centralized global bureaucracy like the UN may well lead to widespread censorship and control as just another warning sign plunging humanity towards New World Order totalitarianism.

Of course in recent years the CIA-NSA-Homeland Security apparatchik has co-opted internet giants like Facebook and Google which also controls YouTube, enlisting them as deep state spies invading citizens’ privacy and increasingly censoring the internet according to what deep state dictates as acceptable for consumption by a dumbed down robotic population.

Just as mainstream media is now overwhelmingly viewed by the vast majority of Americans as pure propaganda not to be trusted, by design so will the same oppressive fate soon befall the internet. Again, history keeps repeating itself as truth becomes the enemy in every totalitarian state. The elite plans to shut down any voice of dissent and the truth, thus gaining absolute control over the servile misinformed population. The rise and fall of the US Empire is morphing rapidly into a globalized crime cabal that only a handful of ruling psychopaths could love.

The recently rigged spectacle of a debate [first presidential debate] between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was just more over-the-top evidence that the elite controls every aspect of this year’s presidential election.

It’s been reported that Hillary received the debate questions a week in advance when an NBC intern was spotted dressed in a Fed Ex uniform delivering a package directly into the hands of her campaign manager.

And it didn’t take a four-time world poker champ to point out that Hillary was obviously in cahoots sending hand signals to MSM moderator Lester Holt every time she wanted to take another cheap shot at the Donald. Her bag of dirty tricks is unending as it’s also gone public that she is paying big bucks for dirty laundry secrets about her opponent. And since Trump’s recent tax return is unavailable due to a pending audit, the Clinton rag the New York Times feebly released a 1995 tax return that only found Trump using the same legal tax code loopholes that every other wealthy American reporting losses exploits in the corrupt US tax law system. But that would-be smoking gun quickly fizzled out.

Less than two months ago on national television Clinton campaign strategist Bob Beckel called for a drone assassination strike on Julian Assange to “illegally shoot the son of a bitch” due to ongoing WikiLeaks’ disclosures incriminating Hillary for her “lost” emails and DNC documents chronicling how she stole the primaries away from Bernie Sanders to cheat her way to the nomination.

Earlier this week because Assange was again threatened with his life, at the last minute he called off his hyped up bombshell disappointing millions who had stayed up late in America. Julian did promise to release within a few days such damaging information on war, arms, oil, Google, the election and mass surveillance that many hope will finally put Hillary behind bars where she belongs once and for all.

Speaking of hard time, the felony blackmail her hubby Bill brazenly committed just prior to the FBI-Justice Department issuing Hillary’s get-out-of-jail card also just surfaced. Journalist-author Edward Klein in his recent book Guilty as Sin wrote that he received some powerfully damaging information from one of Bill Clinton’s closest legal advisors. The anonymous source said that Bill shared with his advisor, “I want to bushwhack Loretta [Lynch],” the sitting US Attorney General.

So Bill Clinton stalked and laid in waiting to pounce on Lynch at the Phoenix airport in July prior to boarding her plane. Bill’s ambush was to blackmail the AG. Afterwards the former president bragged to advisors how he had the Attorney General sweating and shaking, so thoroughly intimidated that she promised not to charge Hillary with any crimes for being guilty of violating national security. On a related side note to Bill’s alleged sex crimes, Hillary’s been labeled his enabler pretending to stand for women’s rights on the one hand while on the other hypocritically intimidating to viciously discredit her husband’s past accusers.

That’s just the way business in Washington DC is done, behaving like criminal thug killers not unlike organized crime. The Clintons have been notoriously aggressive gathering and using the dirt on others in order to get what they want, from Arkansas to the White House. And when others in their path ever resist, a murder trail of dozens of close associates have suspiciously shown up dead, from longtime Clinton family friend-White House Counsel Vince Foster to Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Three more victims with ties to both the DNC and Clinton this summer are just the latest fatalities. Blackmail and murder pretty much explain Hillary and her husband’s modus operandi that appears immune from any and all accountability. A two-tiered justice system has been operating in the US for a long time where the top 1% continue getting away with murder while the rest of us without constitutional rights get screwed by a grossly unjust, violent police state system.

Assange and WikiLeaks may have deferred their bombshell to Romanian hacker aka Guccifer 2.0 who released over 800 megabytes amounting to 42 pages showing how millions in taxpayer TARP bailout dollars were syphoned off and allegedly laundered illegally through the Clinton Foundation. The hacked documents list a database of “pay-to-play” donors and bribes to selected Congress members as well as on to major banks and large financial institutions. Other documents show kickbacks from banks to Congress members.

Tax dollars allocated to boost the recession-racked US economy ultimately padded the 1%’s deep pockets, compliments of Hillary and Bill’s criminal laundering scheme. If confirmed as legitimate Foundation documents and not the already hacked DNC records released earlier this year, this latest data dump is but one more example demonstrating Bill and Hillary’s “pay-for-play” criminal enterprise. Moreover, additional emails released this week confirm how her State Department and her Clinton Foundation worked hand in glove together to illegally drum up revenue and influence with clear evidence of conflict of interest.

Despite this fact, prior to Hillary even being nominated by Obama to become his Secretary of State, she signed an ethics agreement that was a Memorandum of Understanding as a precondition to taking the job that she would not violate conflict of interest laws by allowing foreign interests undue influence. As soon as she accepted her powerful position, she began violating her White House agreement and compromising national security. In fact over half the private interests (85 out of 154) who met Hillary at her State Department made sizeable donations often into the millions totaling $156 million.

Pathological liar Hillary committed perjury before the Benghazi Congressional hearings and lied hundreds of other times, chief among them claiming she had turned over all her emails to the FBI that later found 17,448 more that she had failed to submit. In early March this year Hillary received a subpoena from the FBI for her emails. So what did she do? Three weeks later she ended up caught deleting 33,000 more emails attempting to destroy critical evidence, yet another crime. Through the watchdog group Judicial Watch, even more emails were procured from the State Department beyond the 55,000 emails she allegedly turned over to the FBI.

Repeatedly Clinton’s unsecured private server account had been used to criminally sell off America and US arms to the highest foreign bidders from places like Saudi Arabia (gave $10 million to Foundation) and Israel on top of her willful destruction of incriminating evidence she tried hiding from authorities to cover up her countless crimes. Throughout her entire 4-year stint as Secretary of State, Hillary Clintonknowingly breached national security allowing foreign nationals and hackers easy access to this nation’s top secret classified information. Anyone else but her would be doing decades inside federal prison.

Because of Hillary’s crimes and FBI Director James Comey’s whitewashed investigation, both the Justice Department and the FBI have been politically and irreparably compromised, causing the public to completely lose confidence in both government and law enforcement. Comey used his red herring smokescreen of “intent” to bogusly justify not pressing charges. Yet violating national security clearly falls under US Code 793 and has nothing to do with Clinton’s intentions but everything to do with her passing at least 22 top secret emailsthrough her unsecured private server. Clearly she broke a federal law that’s among the most serious of all felonies. Yet despite her consistent lying, destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice, she was never even required to take a single polygraph test. Comey’s shoddy farce of a non-investigation indicates that he’d made the political decision from the get-go to not prosecute. At no time did he refer the case to a grand jury. Instead he granted immunity to key witnesses and totally overlooked Hillary’s destruction of evidence.

Because the DC crime cabal works together in the oligarchic interest of the ruling elite, Congress will never dare impeach Hillary Clinton, even though overwhelming evidence of her criminality and immorality make her unfit for president. And as far as Director Comey’s criminal part, the Senate has more than enough grounds to file a resolution of no confidence in his capacity to oversee the FBI. Many FBI personnel working under Comey are now calling him a “traitor” too.

Audited financial records show that both Bill and Hillary Clinton amassed a fortune by diverting millions through their Clinton Foundation into their own private bank accounts. While Hillary headed the State Department, her partner-in-crime husband made a cool $48 millionin speaking fees 215 times that she lent her official stamp of approval. Their combined speaking engagements from 2001 to her presidential bid earned them $153 million. The same Persian Gulf monarchies that overtly support and finance ISIS terrorists that Hillary and Obama created gave the Clintons over $100 million. This unprecedented scale of obscene corruption enabled foreign interests undue influence and control over both the Clintons and US foreign policy as their pay-for-play tax-exempt Foundation profited $2 billion. Since 1997 over $100 billion has been collected by their international criminal charity foundation. The Clinton scheme monetized the White House, using illicit practices no different from the drug cartels to set up multiple shell entities for no other reason but for money laundering purposes.

The Clinton’s post-earthquake Haiti debacle [JH1] starting in 2010 with photo-ops and promises became a disgraceful example among many where 95 cents on each dollar was absconded by the Clintons while the remaining 5 cents trickled down to a few quake victims. An artificially inflated price tag into the hundreds of millions was designated for building a new hospital that was never built. $2 million for housing never got off the ground. A miniscule fraction of what they took in was actually spent on victims in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. The Clintons greedily self-enriched through their charity fraud off the backs of the destitute, hungry and homeless. Their organization was supposed to create 16,000 jobs but instead created a sweat shop on the north side of the island where the least damage occurred. $13 billion was raised in all. A mining gold contract was secured for Hillary’s brother while her chief of staff Cheryl Curtis made 30 trips to Haiti ostensibly to set up an industrial park and posh hotels that made a killing for the Clintons. To this day Haiti’s earthquake victims have yet to receive their promised assistance from the Clintons.

Getting richer off selling enriched uranium to the so called enemy Putin that’s the essential ingredient for making nuclear weapons allowed Russia to buy up 20% of America’s uranium deposits as yet another flagrant act of treason. And now hypocrite Hillary is resorting to the same kind of cold war witch hunt that Joe McCarthy would be proud of, accusing Donald Trump, Roger Stone and other critics of being un-American, secretly colluding with Russia, implying that they are violating national security, the very same high crime she willfully and recklessly perpetrated herself as the traitor she is. Both the Clintons’ entire public careers have been mired in scandal, controversy, deception, cutthroat criminality and thuggery.

Finally, because on top of everything else Hillary is gravely ill suffering from a host of severe medical and mental health issues, it’s all the more reason to ensure that she does not get elected. WikiLeaks determined that in 2011 Clinton asked her State Department staff to research a commonly prescribed drug for treating Parkinson’s disease. Her poor balance, multiple episodes of falling down, coughing fits, and what appear to be seizures have created a firestorm of speculation.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field with abused youth and adolescents for more than a quarter century. In recent years he has focused on his writing, becoming an alternative media journalist. His blog site is at: http://empireexposed.blogspot.co

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Nate Parker has produced a masterpiece which will evoke the legacy of one of the greatest African slave rebellions in the history of the United States.

The Birth of a Nation is a dramatic film which attempts the arduous task of conveying the story of the African known as Nat Turner, who was enslaved and led a rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. This film is co-written, co-produced and directed by Nate Parker. It stars Parker as Turner, with Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller and Gabrielle Union in supporting roles.

In order to launch the project Parker obtained financing to invest in the movie eventually obtaining $10 million in order to start the production filming in May 2015 in Georgia. The film represents a much needed effort aimed at reinterpreting the legacy of resistance among African people in North America as seen through the eyes of the oppressed and their descendants.

This film is being released 185 years after the Nat Turner Rebellion in August 1831 which took place in Southampton County, Virginia but had national ramifications. This former British colony was the entry point of enslaved Africans into the region of North America in 1620.

Some five decades after the much-flaunted 1776 Declaration of Independence of the white settlers, the importation and trade in Africans was growing at a fever pitch. Nonetheless, the economic system of slavery was already beginning to decline as is reflected in the film.

The failure of the slave system to secure a future for the Southern planters created the conditions for the intensification of the exploitation and brutality against Africans. Slave catchers of the period in Virginia and throughout the South are the forerunners of modern-day law-enforcement in their purpose and behavior.

After two centuries of super-exploitation and the development of a system of national oppression based upon institutionalized racism, Nat Turner and his comrades sent a profound warning to the slave masters that their plantations were not secure from unrest in its deadliest form. This episode in U.S. history reminds residents and observers of U.S. society that the plague of racism is very much alive and well in the second decade of the 21st century.

Parker’s work deliberating utilizes the same title as the notoriously racist silent film released in 1915 under the direction of D.W. Griffith. The cinematic innovation of the film a century ago through close ups and panning, made its propaganda incendiary. Historians say that the release of Griffith’s film just two years prior to the American intervention in World War I under the-then President Woodrow Wilson prompted a revival of the Ku Klux Klan.

Wilson hosted a screening of the film at the White House in part due to his friendship with novelist Thomas Dixon, whose 1905 book, The Clansman, provided the storyline of the 1915 release of The Birth of the Nation. Wilson is noted for his efforts in reinstituting strict segregation in Washington, D.C. Many believe he was an ideological racist and in recent times there have been demonstrations demanding the removal of his name from buildings and institutions at Princeton University, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the U.S.

In an article published by the New York Times on November 18, 2015, its says

“The students’ demands include the removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from anything named after him at the university; cultural competency training for the faculty and the staff; the inclusion in Princeton’s core curriculum requirements of a course on the history of a marginalized people; and the creation of a cultural space on campus dedicated to black students. During tense discussions between Mr. Eisgruber (university president) and more than 100 students spilling out of his office, Mr. Eisgruber refused to sign on to the demands. Though he personally agreed that Woodrow Wilson was a racist, he refused to remove his name. He said that Wilson, a former president of the university, had done some things that were honorable and some that were blameworthy. Mr. Eisgruber also said he would not require competency training for all faculty members, even though he and his cabinet had attended such training.”

The Political Economy of Slavery and the Racist Intellectual Culture of Historical Revisionism

In the contemporary The Birth of a Nation from 2016 it reveals the financial unviability of African slavery as an economic system. The protagonist Nat Turner, a preacher, is exploited by the planters in efforts to solve the problems of incorrigibility among the enslaved Africans.

Nat Turner is sent around the area to preach a doctrine of docility and obedience to the master class. Nonetheless, his exposure to the system in its most egregious aspects including horrendous working conditions, the selling of family members by the planters, the mass rape of African women and the deliberate division sewn among the enslaved themselves in order to maintain the dominance of the white slave owners and their functionaries, fueled his anger leading to a historic rebellion resulting in the deaths of many whites and the destruction of their property.

The field of American historical studies has been enriched by scholars such as W.E.B. Du Bois, CLR James, Eric Williams, Herbert Aptheker and others who rejected the notions of the “happy slaves” fostered by the apologist for institutional racism and national oppression such as Ulrich B. Philipps, Walter Lynwood Fleming and William Archibald Dunning. The racist approach to historical studies dominated the major universities in the U.S. during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

In taking such an approach to the history of slavery and the failure of Reconstruction, the Southern and indeed the entire ruling class of the post-antebellum period, were provided with a pseudo-scholarly rationale for the maintenance of national oppression and economic exploitation of the former enslaved Africans. This same justification continues into the 21st century as Africans seek to realize their inherent right to self-determination and national liberation.

The so-called Dunning school of Southern history blamed the Africans themselves for the failure of Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War fought from 1861-65. Fleming, the son of a Alabama slave owner who taught for years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, was so imbued with racism that he refused to even capitalize the word “Negro”, as Africans were known in the period leading up to the 1960s, when the term was overturned by the Black Power and Pan-Africanist movements.

Fleming wrote in one of his major works that “The [N]egro is the central figure in the reconstruction of the South. Without the [N]egro there would have been no Civil War. Granting a war fought for any other cause, the task of reconstruction would, without him, have been comparatively simple.”

This film by Nate Parker makes an important contribution to rewriting the actual history of the African people in the U.S. and consequently world studies. Without an accurate understanding of the development of America as the leading imperialist nation in the world it is impossible to design a program for transforming the present conditions of colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism.

Africans will of course be integral to the reshaping of international affairs amid the decline once again of the dominant economic class within the U.S. As slavery had outlived its usefulness and profitability in the mid-decades of the 19th century, so has imperialism in the 21st century. Whether its ultimate decline can be realized in the absence of another world war is largely dependent upon the role of the nationally oppressed in alliance with the working class in the U.S. and around the world.

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The email leak reveals why the battle for Aleppo matters so much to Hillary Clinton.

A new Wikileaks email dump released yesterday reveals Hillary’s eight point plan to destroy ISIS, and destroy Syria…in what can only be described as a reckless and naive view of the region that Hillary herself actively destabilized with her support for the Iraq invasion, and as the driving force behind the violent regime change operation in Libya.

The email exchange between Hillary Clinton, and top aide John Podesta, is breathtaking…full of hubris and stupidity.

It portrays a cold and calculating Clinton concerned with destroying ISIS in Iraq, but scheming to help jihadist groups in Syria n order to overthrow Assad with “moderate” forces that cannot be properly vetted.

Let’s not forget that Hillary’s financial conflict of interest runs deep in the troubled region, with Qatar giving between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and Saudi Arabia having donated upwards of $25 million dollars to the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary’s 8 point plan is conflicted and personal. Taking on Qatar and Saudi Arabia puts her at odds with big time Clinton Foundation donors.

Things get further complicated when we remember that in 2010, (as reported by The Intercept) Clinton’s top aide said that the up to $60 billion weapons transfer of fighter jets and helicopters to Saudi Arabia was a “top priority.”

On August 17, 2014 Hillary Clinton sent an email to John Podesta (then counselor to President Barack Obama, now current Hillary campaign chairman), where HRC details her roadmap to defeating ISIS, propping up the Kurdish forces in the north, and striking a decisive blow to Assad in Syria.

The complete email exchange can be found on the Wikileaks website. Here is The Duran’s breakdown of the 8 point plan with RED highlighted sections.

podesta-screen1

The email from John Podesta to HRC begins with a question on an attack in Tripoli, which is worth “analyzing for future purposes”. Podesta may be floating out the idea to communicate with whichever forces initiated the attack on Islamist positions. Maybe the forces can be lumped into the “moderate rebels” bucket.

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Podesta reveals his frustration with progress in Syria…describing “elements” as “vexing”.

 

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Hillary Clinton begins to lay out here 8 point plan. Point 1, HRC notes that the “advance of ISIL” provides an “opportunity” for American to reshape how it deals with North Africa and the Middle East.

Hillary closes Point 1 with her belief that Kurdish troops “can inflict a real defeat on ISIL”, and thus need to be supported by the US government.

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Point 2 and 3 sees HRC admit that US engagement with ISIL has been “limited”.  She further concludes that with US close air support to Peshmerga fighters, ISIL can be defeated in Iraq and the Sunni “resistance” in Syria can then be supported.

Hillary notes her concern with providing heavy weapons to Peshmerga forces in the fear that those weapons will be used against Turkey by Kurdish forces.  HRC brushes those concerns aside as “obsolete”, with an airlift of heavy weapons solving the Turkey issue.

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Point 4. Weaken ISIL in Iraq and Syria with targeted bombings (something Russia is doing at the moment in Syria). The smoking gun, after the targeted bombings “provide the FSA, or some group of moderate forces” with weapons, to not only take on ISIL on the ground in Syria, but to step up “operations against the Syrian regime.”

Then an even bigger revelation that should shock no one, but to have it documented holds weight…Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing ISIL with financial and logistical support.

“While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

“This effort will be enhanced by the stepped up commitment in the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government]. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious U.S. pressure.”

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Point 6 and 7 (Hillary’s numbering is off as she skipped point 5) HRC notes that US interests in the region differ from country to country, with “energy issues in Libya” being a US national interest.

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Point 8, HRC reveals that ISIL is growing and entering new markets such as Libya and Egypt..as Hilary alludes to the fact that ISIL can even reach into Lebanon and Jordan.

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Point 9, Hillary lays out her grand bargain for the region.

A Kurdish autonomous state, which will work with the Iraqi government to share energy riches in and around Mosel and Kirkuk, while at the same time shifting the fighting to Syria, where the Peshmerga forces (in coordination with FSA troops) carve out the North of Syria, and deal a decisive blow to Assad.

We see why the battle for Aleppo matters so much to Hillary Clinton. Assad taking control of Syria’s main northern city runs counter to HRC’s grand plan, as laid out in this Wikileaks email release.

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Afghanistan: Enduring Occupation

October 12th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

The fifteenth anniversary of 11 September was featured in the front pages for days. This contrasts with the media blackout for the fifteenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, launched on 7 October 2001 through operation «Enduring Freedom».

The official justification: hunting down Osama bin Laden, the lead organizer of the September 11 attacks, hidden in an Afghan cavern under the protection of the Taliban. In actual fact, we will later find out that a plan for the operation had already been laid out on President Bush’s table prior to September 11. What the strategic objectives might be emerged clearly from the report, Quadrennial Defense Review, published by the Pentagon on 30 September 2001, a week before the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.

In the Il Manifesto [original Italian] of 10 October 2001 we published its essential sections that can be reread today in light of subsequent events.

«The United States is a global power with important geopolitical interests all over the world, and therefore must preclude others from controlling crucial areas, particularly Europe, Northeast Asia, the coast of East Asia, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Asia in particular is emerging as a region capable of large-scale military competition. It is possible that a military rival with a formidable resource base will emerge in the region. Our armed forces must maintain their capabilities to impose the will of the United States on any adversary (be it a state or non-state entity), so as to change the regime of an adversary state or to occupy a foreign territory where till now US objectives have not been realized».

So here we have in black and white what the real reasons for the war in Afghanistan are.

In the period prior to September 11 2001, there are strong signals in Asia of a rapprochement between China and Russia — signals that are given concrete form when, the “Good Neighbours and Friendly Cooperation Treaty” is signed on 17 July 2001. This treaty was defined as the “cornerstone” of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Washington considers the rapprochement between China and Russia to be a challenge to US interests in Asia, at a critical time when the US is trying to occupy the vacuum, created by the dissolution of the USSR in Central Asia, an area of primary importance both for its geographic position with respect to Russia and China and the adjacent reserves of oil and natural gas in the Caspian.

Afghanistan is a key position to controlling this area. This explains the enormous deployment of US/NATO forces in Afghanistan, for a war that — according to an estimate provided by default from the Watson Institute (Brown University, USA) — has to date resulted in the following:

• more than 170,000 dead and 180,000 seriously injured;
• an official cost, on the part of the US alone, of around 830 billion dollars (more than 40 times the GDP of Afghanistan); plus
• other enormous costs that are not recorded.

When the military operations in Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries are taken into account, the US official costs, based exclusively on the military operations, amounts to around 3,700 billion dollars in 2001-2016 and includes future costs (notably support for veterans) that brings it to around 4,800 billion.

In the US-led Nato operation in Afghanistan, renamed «Steadfast Support», Italy continues to participate with a contingent lined up in the areas of Kabul and Herat. Italian officials are deployed at Tampa (Florida) at the US Command for the entire operation and in Bahrain as staff linking up with US forces. In the context of this strategy, Italy is committed to 27 «missions» in 19 countries.

Article in italian :

paula-bronstein-7

Afghanistan occupazione duratura

 

Translation : Anoosha Boralessa pour le Réseau Voltaire

Picture by the photographer Paula Bronstein, Independent

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On October 11, the Syrian army and its allies continued to conduct military operations in Aleppo with the most intense clashes were ongoing south of the Awijah neighborhood and in Sheikh Sa’eed where the army stormed the Sheikh Sa’eed Hill. Since October 10, up to 50 militants have been reported killed in the city.

Turkish-backed militant groups that operate under the brand of the Free Syrian Army, supported by the Turkish Armed Forces, have seized more areas from ISIS in northern Aleppo.

The Ankara-led forces took control of the villages of Yahmul, Jarez, Sheikh Rih, al-Bel, Baraghitah and Tawaqli near the strategic town of Azaz in the province of Aleppo. Now, they are aiming to re-take Sawran. If this is done, the nearby town of Dabiq will likely become the next target of Erdogan’s Operation Euphrates Shield.

The joint forces of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra), Failaq al-Sham, Jabhat Ansar al-Din and a number of less-known militant groups announced on Monday a fresh military operation, called ‘Ashoura Battle’, in northern Latakia. The operation is set to be focused on the Syrian army’s positions in the Kurdish Mountains. Pro-militants sources have already claimed that the so-called “moderate opposition” captured some “strategic points”. Nonetheless, these reports still have to be confirmed. The operation is most likely aimed to draw the Syrian military attention from the city of Aleppo and northern Hama where the militants’ defenses are collapsing under the pressure of the pro-government forces.

Russia is planning to expand its logistic facitiliy in Tartus into a fully-fledged permanent naval base. By now, the facility in Tartus has been used to resupply Russian warships during missions in the Mediterranean and to deliver supplies to the Syrian government forces.

“We have prepared the paperwork, which is now being reviewed by other government agencies. The documents are pretty much ready, so we hope to submit them to you for ratification soon,” Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, General Nikolay Pankov, told the Russian Senate on October 10.

Last week the Russians confirmed delivery of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Tartus to protect the facility and the naval grouping from potential airstrikes and missile attacks.

Meanwhile, reports have appeared that Russia is in talks with Egypt to lease military facilities, including an air base in the town of Sidi Barrani near the Mediterranean. If the agreement is made, the military base will be ready for use by 2019, according to the reports.

Now, there are no doubts that Washington’s actions to counter the Russian efforts in Syria have only pushed Moscow to expand its military presence in the Middle Eastern region.

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This article was first published by WhoWhatWhy

This presidential campaign has endured debates on a number of mundane issues, including the size of a candidate’s hands, who is more dishonest, and which candidate has the better temperament. One thing nobody is talking about is the staggering outcome of the war in Afghanistan — and that’s probably just the way those profiting from this trillion-dollar fiasco like it.

This month marks the 15th anniversary of the US-led intervention in Afghanistan, making it the nation’s longest war. It now appears, based on evidence gathered by a federal inspector general, that the whole undertaking was, and remains, an incredibly expensive disaster that has actually made Afghanistan more corrupt than it was before the US invasion back in 2001.

In one of his most stunning disclosures yet, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) revealed that, while the US Forces-Afghanistan reported that there were 319,000 Afghan soldiers, the actual number may only be 120,000. “Persistent reports” of discrepancies in Afghan troop strength “raise questions” over whether or not US taxpayers are actually paying for “ghost soldiers,” SIGAR John Sopko said in a letter to the Pentagon.

Bill Goodfellow, the executive director of the Center for International Policy, a nonprofit that promotes US foreign policy accountability and transparency, observes that despite reports like this, as well as the huge price tag and human cost, there’s been no discussion of Afghanistan in the presidential race.

“It doesn’t affect most people because the military is being staffed by economic conscription and the children of think tank analysts and journalists are not being drafted,” Goodfellow told WhoWhatWhy in a phone interview.

In his visits to Afghanistan, Goodfellow says, he has seen little evidence of the $115 billion that’s been appropriated by the US to rebuild that country. “When you go to Kabul you ask where is it? It’s in Dubai and in the pockets of US contractors,” he charged. “We’ve spent $800 billion on the war in Afghanistan and the 8,400 troops we have there now will cost $20 billion per year.”

Goodfellow sees little chances for a peace deal inside Afghanistan. He believes that as long as the US cash faucet remains open, there is just too much money to be made by all of the key players to do anything but prolong the war. “It provides powerful incentive for the elites,” said Goodfellow. “How do you make peace as lucrative as war?”

Developments in Iraq and Afghanistan show that, despite the loss of thousands of American lives,  hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and the expenditure of trillions of dollars, neither nation had the capability to defend itself once the US left.

This month is also the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse course, ending his planned withdrawal of American troops. This decision may force his successor to continue US involvement in Afghanistan long after Obama leaves the White House.

The White House’s latest about-face came after the Taliban seized the northern city of Kunduz and held it for two weeks, and after the United Nations reported that the Taliban were as prevalent throughout the country as they had been at any time since 2001.

It was only two years ago that President Obama declared that the combat mission in Afghanistan was ending and that the country’s longest war was “coming to a responsible conclusion.”

There was a similar proclamation after the high-profile American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.

Washington’s renewed troop commitment in Afghanistan comes at the same time the US is, once again, ramping up its presence in Iraq, helping that country take back territory lost to ISIS.

According to the office of the United Nations Secretary General, the first six months of 2016 saw a 4% increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan compared to the same period in 2015.

As the violence has escalated, the Afghan Investment Support Agency reports a 30% decline in net investments being made in the beleaguered nation from last year. The Asian Development Bank blames “deteriorating security and law and order concerns” for the retrenchment.

Construction workers in Afghanistan. Photo credit: ISAF Public Affairs / SIGAR (PDF)

So how did this come to pass in Afghanistan?

Americans are fortunate to have a team of 195 civil servants led by Sopko that has been tracking in great detail America’s pricey reconstruction effort there. While SIGAR’s work has been virtually ignored by most news outlets, WhoWhatWhy has covered it extensively. You can find our stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Over the arc of his 30-year career, Sopko has worked as a prosecutor and a legislative counsel for Congressional oversight committees, as well as senior federal government advisor. He was an attorney with the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Task Force.

Since July of 2012 he has served as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction. The voluminous quarterly reports that Sopko has filed with Congress provide blow by-blow-details on a reconstruction effort gone badly awry.

So far, SIGAR’s work has resulted in over one hundred convictions of a diverse roster of government contractors, active-duty and retired US military personnel, 91 of whom have already been sentenced.

SIGAR has recovered more than $951 million in criminal fines, restitutions, forfeitures, civil-settlement recoveries, and US government cost savings. Over 400 individuals and 355 companies were referred by SIGAR for suspension or debarment from government contracting.

“We have spent more in Afghanistan than we did on the entire Marshall Plan to rebuild postwar Europe,” Sopko told WhoWhatWhy (you can find the complete interview at the bottom of this article). “The American taxpayer has had to foot that $114 billion bill, so they deserve to know not only the cost but also what it has gotten them.”

Sopko recently released his agency’s first ‘lessons learned’ report entitled “Corruption in Conflict: Lessons from the US Experience in Afghanistan.” It evaluates how the US government viewed the risks of corruption going in, how the US responded to the corruption it encountered, and just how ineffective those responses were.

The SIGAR analysis describes how the pursuit of strategic and military goals all too often trumped concerns about fighting the corruption that US personnel found rampant throughout Afghan society.

According to the report, the United States facilitated “the growth of corruption by injecting tens of billions of dollars into the Afghan economy, using flawed oversight and contracting practices,” while collaborating “with malign power brokers” all in hopes of realizing short-term military goals.

As a consequence, the United States “helped to lay a foundation for continued impunity” for bad actors that ultimately undermined the “rule of law” and actually promoted the kind of corruption that had historically driven the local population away from the central government and “to the Taliban as a way of expressing opposition” to a government they believed to be illegitimate.

The SIGAR report quotes former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker making the disconcerting observation that “the ultimate failure for our efforts wasn’t an insurgency. It was more the weight of endemic corruption.”

SIGAR’s investigations documented “poor US oversight, procurement, and contracting practices that were enabling corrupt behavior.” As a result, lacking “sufficient controls on US funds, millions of dollars in US reconstruction funds for Afghanistan were being wasted.”

“The Afghan government was so deeply enmeshed in corrupt and criminal networks that dismantling them would mean dismantling major pillars of support for the government itself,” according to SIGAR’s report. “One part of US policy corrupted Afghan officials while other parts tried to investigate and root out corruption.”

Photo credit: SIGAR (PDF)

Benchmark studies reviewed by SIGAR’s researchers suggested that a donor nation’s capacity to absorb aid ranges from 15 to 45% percent of the recipient’s GDP. In the case of Afghanistan, too much money was a key problem. SIGAR reported that “US reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan surpassed 45% percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, reaching a high of 105% percent in 2010.”

As the money continued to pour in, SIGAR found “corruption grew so pervasive and entrenched that it came to pose a threat to the entire security and state-building mission.”

SIGAR’s reviews identified “abusive and corrupt warlords” who parlayed their status and acceptance by the US to gain “positions of authority in the Afghan government, which further enabled them to dip their hands into the streams of cash” flooding “into a small and fragile economy.”

SIGAR warned that corruption was “a corrosive acid — partly of our making” which was eating away at the base of “every pillar of Afghan reconstruction, including security and political stability.”

SIGAR concluded: “Failure to effectively address corruption in future contingency operations means US reconstruction programs may, at best, continue to be subverted by systemic corruption, and, at worst, may fail.”

Colonel Andrew Bacevich, a historian and author of several books, including “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism,” is a West Point graduate who served in the Vietnam War and remained on active duty through the early 1990s. He asserts the US is in deep denial about its failures in prosecuting the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have not won this war,” Bacevich told a Boston University audience in 2014. “We are not winning this war and simply pressing on is unlikely to produce more positive results this year or the year after.”

“To insist on accountability is to go out on a limb,” said Bacevich, whose son, an Army first lieutenant,  was killed in Iraq in 2007. “You would open yourself up to the charge of not supporting the troops, or of being an isolationist, or of not believing in American global leadership and worst of all, of not believing in American exceptionalism’s unique calling to save the world.”

“The absence of attention to SIGAR’s work is quite telling, in my view,” Bacevich wrote WhoWhatWhy in an email. “Rarely has so much money been squandered to such little effect with so few people taking notice.”

Below, is our complete interview with SIGAR John Sopko:

WWW:What’s the hardest part of your job?

SOPKO: “Maintaining aggressive oversight in an unstable atmosphere comes with a lot of roadblocks. Security concerns, missing documents, and access to decision-makers and implementers involved in decades-old projects can make our job difficult.”

WWW: Do you think that the average American is aware of the scale of the investment their government is making in Afghanistan?

SOPKO: No I don’t, and that is why I take my job so seriously. We have spent more in Afghanistan than we did on the entire Marshall Plan to rebuild postwar Europe. The American taxpayer has had to foot that $114 billion bill, so they deserve to know not only the cost but also what it has gotten them. SIGAR prioritizes transparency and accessibility in our work for that reason.

WWW: What’s the connection between rooting out corruption and the success of the American efforts in Afghanistan?

SOPKO: “A report we recently released found that systemic corruption has corroded US efforts in Afghanistan across nearly every sector. It has undermined support for the Afghan government and funneled money to the insurgency, threatening the stability of the state. US investments depend on Afghanistan remaining secure, stable, and democratically-governed, so our ability to recognize and address the threat of corruption is critical.”

WWW: Is it fair to say that SIGAR’s reports have been prescient in that they identified problem areas that became vulnerabilities that are exploited by the Taliban?

SOPKO: “I hope so, it is certainly our goal. In a war zone like Afghanistan, faulty and fraudulent work can kill people. We take that risk very seriously and it is why we have teams set up to identify and alert Afghan and US officials to immediate threats.”

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Billionaires Back “Black Lives Matter”

October 12th, 2016 by Gabriel Black

The Ford Foundation, one of the most powerful private foundations in the world, with close ties to Wall Street and the US government, recently announced that it is overseeing the funneling of $100 million over six years to several organizations that play leading roles in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’re eager to deepen and expand this community of social justice funders,” the foundation’s announcement reads. “We want to nurture bold experiments and help the movement build the solid infrastructure that will enable it to flourish.”

Fortune Magazine wrote that the foundation’s announcement “would make anyone sit up straighter if they read it in a pitch deck [a presentation for startups seeking investor capital].” The contribution of such an immense sum of money is a gift from the ruling class that will allow Black Lives Matter to construct a bureaucracy of salaried staff and lobbyist positions. The influx of money will bring the movement greater influence through campaign contributions and integrate it even more closely with the Democratic Party and the corporate media.

The Ford Foundation will also provide various forms of consultancy and advisory assistance to a consortium of 14 groups associated with Black Lives Matter. Both the financing and the auxiliary services are to be organized through a fund called the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), which is being overseen by a firm called Borealis Philanthropy.

The Ford Foundation receives the bulk of its endowment from corporate contributors and very wealthy donors through trusts and bequeathments. Established in 1936 by Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, it today boasts the third largest endowment of any foundation, valued at roughly $12.4 billion.

The Ford Foundation has for years maintained close ties to US military and intelligence agencies. A British historian of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Frances Stonor Saunders, described the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in her book The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters as “conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence.”

Today, the foundation is not formally connected to Ford Motor Company, but its board of directors is a “who’s who” of powerful corporate players, including CEOs and Wall Street lawyers. The chairperson of the board of directors is Irene Inouye, widow of deceased Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye.

The $100 million gift is an acknowledgment by a powerful section of the ruling class that the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement are aligned with those of Wall Street and the US government.

In an interview with Bloomberg News in 2015, the Ford Foundation’s current president, Darren Walker, an ex-banker at UBS, spelled out the pro-capitalist perspective underlying the foundation’s decision to bankroll Black Lives Matter:

“Inequality in many ways undermines our vision for a more just and fair world,” he said. “Indeed, the American people, and it’s not just the Trump supporters, are feeling increasingly vulnerable, increasingly insecure, and what that does is it drives wedges in our society, in our democracy. Inequality is bad for our democracy. It kills aspirations and dreams and makes us more cynical as a people… What kind of Capitalism do we want to have in America?”

The foundation’s support for Black Lives Matter is an investment in the defense of the profit system. Black Lives Matter portrays the world as divided along racial lines, proclaiming on its web site that it “sees itself as part of a global black family.”

It claims that black people are “extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children…” It explicitly rejects the notion that any other section of society has the right to raise grievances of its own. Its group history page notes: “Not just all lives. Black lives. Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too.”

The petty-bourgeois leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement are now poised to exercise a significant degree of political influence directed at securing privileges within the political elite. A quick look at the founders of Black Lives Matter gives a sense of the opportunist and self-promotional character of the group as a whole. The official Black Lives Matter organization was founded by three people: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. The three met as members of BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity). BOLD is one of the 14 organizations now being funded by the Black-Led Movement Fund.

One of these founders, Garza, runs an organization called the National Domestic Workers Alliance, on whose board sits Alta Starr. Starr oversees a fund at the Ford Foundation. She is also on the board of a foundation backed by billionaire George Soros, the Open Society Foundation’s Southern Initiative.

Patrisse Cullers is the director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. This organization was founded by Van Jones, a Democrat who worked under Obama as a special advisor on “green jobs, enterprise and innovation.” He is also a long time contributor to CNN. This organization also receives funds from the Open Society Foundation.

A leaked document from an October 2015 board meeting of the Soros-funded US Programs/Open Society revealed that the organization provided $650,000 “to invest in technical assistance and support for the groups at the core of the burgeoning #BlackLivesMatter movement.” The document notes that the board planned to discuss the difficulty of dealing with a de-centralized movement: “What happens when you want to throw a lot of money at a moment[sic], but there isn’t any place for it to go?” It was also raised that the Soros name could discredit Black Lives Matter if the public became aware of his financial support.

Many of the organizations on the list of Ford recipients are also members of the newly-formed “Movement for Black Lives,” which has published a policy agenda document centered on demands for greater government financing of black-owned businesses and institutions.

In an earlier period, nationalist movements such as the Black Panthers, however politically disoriented, had a genuine element of social struggle and conflict with the state. While their political program was of a petty-bourgeois character, they had a significant base of support among the oppressed. This was the period of the mass civil rights movement against Jim Crow segregation in the South and the urban rebellions in the North.

In response to the upheavals of the late 1960s, a section of the ruling class sought to cultivate a base of support among the more privileged sections of minorities that would be loyal to the status quo. As a result of policies such as affirmative action, social inequality among African-Americans has soared, with a small elite holding positions of power in corporate America and the state. This found its apotheosis in the election of Barack Obama to preside as president over a historic transfer of wealth to the financial aristocracy following the Wall Street crash of 2008.

These social transformations are reflected in the political outlook of the Black Lives Matter movement, which is devoid of any genuine element of social protest or democratic struggle. The agenda of these organizations, as underscored by the support of groups like the Ford Foundation, has nothing to do with the real social and economic grievances of millions of workers and young people of any race or ethnicity. They speak for highly privileged sections of the middle class who are fighting over the distribution of wealth within the top 10 percent of the population.

In the face of rising popular opposition to war, police violence and social inequality, the decision to advance the racialist program of Black Lives Matter is aimed at dividing the working class and preventing the emergence of an independent and unified working class movement against the capitalist system.

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Photos showing US jets being painted Russian colors have triggered debates and conspiracy theories online, with many saying Washington plans to conduct false flag attacks in Syria and blame them on Moscow.

The pictures of the US jets were posted by a Canadian journalist last week on his Twitter account.

Although the journalist noted that painting fighter jets in the colors of potential adversaries is standard practice, they caused a stir among conspiracy theorists.

Many of them accused the US of preparing a false flag attack aimed at framing Russia in Syria.

One Twitter user said the practice is reminiscent of Washington’s past actions regarding Cuba.

The publication of the images fell on fertile ground. Relations between Russia and the US over the Syria conflict are at an all-time low, with both countries exchanging threats and warnings with each other over their involvement in Syria.

The US and other militaries are known for using aggressor squadrons, which act as opposing forces in military war games. In addition to being painted in an adversary’s colors, they also use enemy tactics to provide realistic simulations of air combat.

click image to access RT instagram

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The Syrian War And The Question Of An American Mutiny

October 11th, 2016 by Adeyinka Makinde

 A recent press conference given by US Army General Mark Milley, the present serving army chief of staff reminded me of the fictional character played by Burt Lancaster in the 1964 movie ‘Seven Days in May’. That film posited the scenario of James Scott (the Lancaster character) as a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who, disgruntled about the serving president’s perceived weakness in seeking a treaty with the Soviet Union, plots to overthrow the civilian government.

‘Seven Days in May’ was based on a book that drew its inspiration from real life American political and military figures in the early 1960s during the Cold War. At that time Right-wing, verging on fascist-leaning generals such as Army General Lyman Lemnitzer the supremo at the Pentagon and Air Force Generals Curtis LeMay and Tommy Powers dominated the Pentagon. A Major General named Edwin Walker actually tried to indoctrinate troops under his command with the teachings of the Right-wing John Birch Society.

It was in the prevailing atmosphere of fervent anti-communism at the time that these generals sought to undermine and even plot to overthrow the government of President John F. Kennedy. This view was not limited to a few senators and journalists of the time. The Kremlin apparently believed this to the extent that it is claimed to have influenced Nikita Khruschev’s decision to reach the settlement that he did with Kennedy over the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviets feared a US military government would make the issue of a nuclear war not merely a possibility, but one of absolute certainty.

Lemnitzer is said to have believed in the theory espoused by military strategist Herman Kahn that the United States could win a nuclear war by a first strike attack.

LeMay, who in 1949 drew up plans to destroy 77 Russian cities in a single day of bombing, was on record as inviting a war with the Soviet Union and admitted that Tommy Powers, to whom he had variously referred to as “not stable” and a “sadist”,  was even more hardline than he was.

All three felt that Kennedy was weak in failing to invade Cuba and giving the Soviets the secret undertaking not to invade the island in return for the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr., one of JFK’s team would later admit that “we did not control the Joint Chiefs of Staff”.

That appears to be the situation today.

There is evidence that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are being undermined by not only by figures in the present Pentagon such as General Milley and General Joseph Durnford, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but also by the Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter.

For much of the available evidence points to the recent bombing by United States and NATO forces of Syrian Army placements in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour which killed over 60 and wounded over 100 Syrian soldiers as being far from the officially announced accident, and instead was a deliberate action designed to destroy the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire and also to enable Jihadist forces to mount an offence against the Syrian Arab Army.

It is a longstanding policy of the United States to use Jihadist groups as proxies against their enemies. This was successfully achieved in securing the withdrawal of Soviet armies from Afghanistan as well as in overthrowing the regime of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. The government of the United States has been applying the template of this policy in Syria despite its official anti-Jihadist stance and anti-ISIS propaganda. The Russian intervention has shown this to be disingenuous. This is why Russia is an enemy and the United States does not want Aleppo to fall to the Syrian Arab Army.

The US generals are hardly likely to be ignorant of this cynical geo-strategic policy of US covert support for ISIS, Jabhat al Nusra and virtually all the Sunni rebel militias. The ridiculous notion of the existence of ‘moderate’ rebels; one which has been roundly discredited at various intervals since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, was resuscitated recently and formed the basis of US arguments against Russia targeting all rebel positions in the vicinity of Aleppo.

Russian air power has been instrumental in enabling the Syrian Arab Army to reclaim Syrian territory lost to Jihadi groups such as Islamic State and al Nusra. Therefore calls by administration figures such as Carter and politicians such as Senator John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, for a ‘No Fly Zone’ are an invitation to war with Russia. This was confirmed by General Durnford’s unambiguous statement before a Senate Committee that such a declaration “will mean war with Russia.” It would also serve the interests of Jihadist groups.

But a crucial point which has not received much focus in the American mainstream press is the import to be taken from words uttered America’s most senior general at the aforementioned Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on US strategy in the Middle East which took place on the 22nd of September.

A report by Reuters of the congressional hearing noted that Durnford had stated that it would “be unwise” to share intelligence with Russia, and further, that Durnford had stressed that it would not be one of the military’s missions if Washington and Moscow were to ever work together against Islamist militants in Syria. When asked if he would support the proposal on intelligence sharing with Russia agreed upon by John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov on the 9th of September, Dunford responded “We don’t have any intention of having any intelligence sharing arrangement with the Russians.”

Both Durnford and Carter openly contradicted the official policy at the hearing and General Milley’s recent sabre rattling press briefing which included a not so veiled threat to Russia when he promised to “destroy any enemy, anywhere and anytime”, provides ample illumination on the attitude of US military leaders towards the notion of cooperating with the Russians in Syria or elsewhere. It certainly opens serious questions about the purportedly accidental attack on the Syrian Army which is said to have lasted for over an hour.

If army generals like Durnford and Milley are disobeying orders and policy instructions from the White House, both should be dealt with under the provisions contained within the United States Uniform Code of Justice as pertain to the usurping or overriding of military authority. A strict application of military custom should have had both reprimanded and instructed to disavow their words failing which they should be demoted, court martialed and dismissed from the service. In fact, mutiny is technically punishable by death; presumably in this case execution by firing squad.

Barack Obama did in the past remove generals who disagreed with him, a notable example being that of General Stanley McChrystal. His inaction on this matter may be due to the lame duck status all presidents acquire in the last months of their presidency. While Obama’s policy remains the American position on using Islamist militias to overthrow Arab regimes which do not act in accord with the wishes of the United States and Israel, it is difficult to believe that he would want to go down in history as the president who started World War Three.

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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Afghanistan occupazione duratura

October 11th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

Il quindicesimo anniversario dell’11 settembre ha occupato per giorni le prime pagine. Blackout mediatico, invece, sul quindicesimo anniversario della guerra in Afghanistan, iniziata il 7 ottobre 2001 con l’operazione «Libertà duratura».

Motivazione ufficiale: la caccia a Osama bin Laden, organizzatore degli attacchi dell’11 settembre, nascosto in una caverna afghana sotto protezione dei talebani. In realtà, si saprà in seguito, il piano dell’operazione era già sul tavolo del presidente Bush prima dell’11 settembre. Quali fossero i suoi obiettivi strategici emergeva chiaramente dal rapporto Quadrennial Defense Review, diffuso dal Pentagono il 30 settembre 2001, una settimana prima dell’inizio della guerra in Afghanistan.

Sul Manifesto del 10 ottobre 2001 ne pubblicammo le parti essenziali, che oggi possiamo rileggere alla luce degli avvenimenti successivi: «Gli Stati uniti, che come potenza globale hanno importanti interessi geopolitici in tutto il mondo, devono precludere ad altri il dominio di aree cruciali, particolarmente l’Europa, l’Asia nordorientale, il litorale dell’Asia orientale, il Medio Oriente e l’Asia sudoccidentale. L’Asia, in particolare, sta emergendo come una regione suscettibile di competizione militare su larga scala. Esiste la possibilità che emerga nella regione un rivale militare con una formidabile base di risorse. Le nostre forze armate devono mantenere la capacità di imporre la volontà degli Stati uniti a qualsiasi avversario, inclusi stati ed entità non-statali, così da cambiare il regime di uno stato avversario od occupare un territorio straniero finché gli obiettivi strategici statunitensi non siano realizzati». È qui scritto a chiare lettere quali sono le reali ragioni della guerra in Afghanistan.

Nel periodo precedente l’11 settembre 2001, vi sono in Asia forti segnali di riavvicinamento tra Cina e Russia, che si concretizzano quando, il 17 luglio 2001, viene firmato il Trattato di buon vicinato e amichevole cooperazione, definito «pietra miliare» nelle relazioni tra i due paesi.

Washington considera il riavvicinamento tra Cina e Russia una sfida agli interessi sta-tunitensi in Asia, nel momento critico in cui gli Usa cercano di occupare il vuoto che la digregazione dell’Urss ha lasciato in Asia centrale, area di primaria importanza sia per la sua posizione geostrategica rispetto a Russia e Cina, sia per le limitrofe riserve di petrolio e gas naturale del Caspio.

Posizione chiave per il controllo di quest’area è quella afghana. Ciò spiega l’enorme spiegamento di forze Usa/Nato in Afghanistan, per una guerra che —secondo una stima per difetto del Watson Institute (Brown University, Usa)— ha finora provocato oltre 170 mila morti e 180 mila feriti gravi e una spesa ufficiale, solo da parte Usa, di circa 830 miliardi di dollari (oltre 40 volte il pil dell’Afghanistan) più altre enormi spese non registrate. Comprese le operazioni militari in Iraq, Libia, Siria e altri paesi, la spesa ufficiale Usa, limitatamente alle sole operazioni militari, ammonta nel 2001-2016 a circa 3700 miliardi di dollari e comporta impegni futuri (soprattutto come assistenza ai veterani) che la portano a circa 4800 miliardi.

All’operazione Nato sotto comando Usa in Afghanistan, ridenominata «Sostegno Risoluto», continua a partecipare l’Italia con un contingente schierato nelle aree di Kabul ed Herat. Ufficiali italiani sono dislocati a Tampa (Florida) presso il Comando Usa dell’intera operazione e in Bahrein quale personale di collegamento con le forze Usa. Nel quadro della stessa strategia, l’Italia è impegnata in 27 «missioni» in 19 paesi.

Manlio Dinucci

 

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Over the Weekend of 14 – 16 October, South Africans will be joining their voices in a call against Agro chemical Giant Monsanto and others like them, in support of the international Tribunal in the Hague.

With organic markets, seed swaps, garden project initiatives, celebrating organic farmers, talks by doctors in the field, environmental lawyers, practicing permaculture implementers, environmental activists, parents, teachers, farmers, farm workers who have either been drastically effected, seen the effects of or who are working on the solutions to the problems which these agro chemical companies have caused in our country.

monsanto-southafricans-rise

The following areas will be holding peoples assemblies as one voice for South Africans who are in want and need of drastic change in our environment, health and food system

Public trial of Monsanto for ecocide and violation of farmers rights at the Monsanto Tribunal and the People’s Assembly in the Hague

Navdanya, the organization founded and led by Vandana Shiva, is co organizing, along with multiple civil society organizations, the Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly to take place at The Hague from 14 to 16 October 2016. The Monsanto Tribunal will hold Monsanto accountable for their crimes against humanity, human rights violations and ecocide, in tandem with the People’s Assembly, a gathering of leading movements and activists working to defend our ecosystem and food sovereignty, to lay out the effects of industrial agrochemicals on our lives, our soils, our atmosphere and climate. Over 800 organizations from around the world are supporting and participating in this process while over 100 people’s assemblies and tribunals are being held across the world.

In the last century, giant agribusiness interests which came out of the war industry, have poisoned life and our ecosystem, are destroying our biodiversity and the lives of small farmers, appropriating their land, in an attempt to control and profit from these essentials for life on earth. The risks keep increasing as these multinationals diminish in number as a result of aggressive takeovers and mega-mergers – such is the case with the recent 66 billion Bayer-Monsanto merger. A merger which serves to further extend the control of these multinationals over agricultural and food production systems. There is only one way to translate this process: maximum focus on potential profit, and a minimal concern towards the environment, to the quality of our food, to consumers and to workers in the sector.

Large multinationals are lobbying democratically elected governments to take on neoliberal policies and international‘free’ trade agreements such a TTIP and TPP: the race towards deregulation is an unprecedented attack on biodiversity and to life itself on Earth. Multinationals like Monsanto have already expanded their control over our seeds, our food and our freedom, depriving us of our basic human rights and our right to democracy. With patents and international property rights (IPRs) as their tools, they have established monopolies and threatened the rights of farmers and consumers.

Participating at the People’s Assembly will be leading representatives of movements and associations, seed custodians, farmers and journalists from all over the world. The aim of the Assembly is to shine the light on crimes against nature and humanity of mega chemical and biotechnological industrial corporations which through patents on seed have opened the doors to the invasion of GMOs. Based on the ecocide and genocide of the past century, the Assembly will lay out the necessary actions for a future based on the rights of small farmers to save and exchange seed, on food sovereignty, on agroecology, the rights of consumers and workers in the sector, on the commons and a sharing economy, as well as on the rights of nature and a true Earth Democracy.” Seed Freedom

Johannesburg – http://tinyurl.com/zqswg7c
Port Elizabeth –http://tinyurl.com/hthjcpk
Durban – http://tinyurl.com/hq2hd9n
Mitchells Plain – http://tinyurl.com/jpv9vyn
Butterworth – http://tinyurl.com/jmsonov
Cofimvaba – http://tinyurl.com/jtarlp8

Resources for journalists

www.peoplesassembly.net
www.monsanto-tribunal.org
www.seedfreedom.info

http://acbio.org.za/

http://www.biowatch.org.za/

For the first time in history, ECOCIDE has been brought to light as a crime.  It is a significant mark in history and the more awareness that can be created regarding, the more hope we have for the future of our earth and people.

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In every period of history, there have been secondary governmental structures parallel to primary governments. These alternative power groups, which are also called “deep states” in our time, sometimes act alongside the government, supporting it but sometimes they raise difficulties for the government. In Ancient Rome, the Senate was comprised of nobles and balanced the imperial reign of the Emperors. In the United Kingdom, the Privy Council, which acts above the monarch, has been the highest level of administration since the 12th century.

There are examples of such structures in holy books as well; Pharaoh’s close circle by whom he was advised about his decisions and the Queen of Sheba’s administrators that she consulted about military matters, are examples of this. Throughout history many secret or open societies possessed these traits. There was a period when the Knights Templars or the Rosicrucians, who had the power of sanction over kings or even the Vatican, were influential. With the coming of the 18th century, these parallel governments started to wield constitutional authorities.

Starting with the second half of the 20th century, supranational organizations emerged. For example, countries shared their administrative power with multinational organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, the Warsaw Treaty Organization or an era later, the European Union. The decisions made in Moscow, Brussels, or New York were imposed upon the most of the world.

Following the Cold War, a new model was developed where think tanks came into prominence. It appears that the 21st century will be a period where governments will be directed by think tanks and non-governmental organizations, which are their field branches.

In fact, the CIA is now known to be almost controlled by Stratfor and the Rand Corporation. The UK’s Chatham House or its little American brother, the Council on Foreign Relations, have become the places where the foreign policies of nations are determined. Economic policies are shaped by rating corporations like Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s.

These so-called independent and non-profit organizations are self-authorized. They attained power without any accountability. The Heritage Foundation, which is considered as one of the ten most effective think tanks of the world, develops policies for the Republican governments of the USA. With its Washington, Brussels, Moscow, Beirut, Beijing and New Delhi offices, the Carnegie Endowment is in a position as a worldwide center of influence. Generating ideas was not the only thing think tanks were doing.  Along with the Open Society Foundation in particular, many think tanks have expanded their operations to the field through non-governmental organizations. They exerted actual pressure on governments.  The first activity of OTPOR, the field group supported by foundations as well as the  CIA, was to overthrow Milosevic’s government in Serbia. After that, countries like Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Moldova experienced so-called public movements named “color revolutions”. The Arab Spring which started in Tunisia and spread quickly had a similar foundation.

Through these rebellions, the ideas generated by various think tanks were put into practice in the field. Think tanks also became supranational powers in terms of military capacity. For example, the Atlantic Council became the headquarters where the military strategies of NATO, the organization that has 28 member nations, is determined. NATO, which was initially a defensive pact, is now proceeding to become an offensive power under the Atlantic Council’s guidance. Recently, under the pretense of defense against Russia, NATO has started to deploy offensive forces in the Black Sea and Ukraine regions. In this new military framework, NATO has established new bases in Eastern Europe and redeployed thousands of soldiers. Ariel Cohen from the Atlantic Council, the architect of this new strategy, explained the necessity of NATO’s endeavors to assume control in the Black Sea with the following words:

“The Alliance must focus on a range of actions to address Russia’s rapidly escalating offensive posture in the Black Sea and protect its allies —including reinforcing air, naval, and ground assets; improving space capabilities; cyber security; reconnaissance; intelligence; and creating credible deterrence strategies.”

This aggressive attitude seems like it aims to transform the Black Sea region into a new area of conflict. This kind of mobilization policy will force Russia to take urgent measures, which in turn will turn the Black Sea into a region of tension, or maybe even into a region of hot conflict. In order to understand the influence of the Atlantic Council over the USA’s and NATO’s military policies, it will be enough to look at the key assignments President Obama made after he became the president in 2009. The Chairman of the Council, James Jones, became the National Security Advisor to President Obama. Council member Susan Rice became the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Richard Holbrooke became the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Council member Anne-Marie Slaughter was appointed as the Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department. Chuck Hagel, who replaced Jones as the Council’s chairman, became the Secretary of Defense after four years.

After the Council’s policies replaced the policies of the US government institutions, civil wars broke out in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine. The intensity of the wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan escalated and ultimately, ISIS emerged. A coup attempt was carried out in Turkey. The list can go on for pages.

Today in Washington, D.C., a part of Massachusetts Avenue is called “Think Tank Row”. An unsupervised group of people, who act with ambiguous capacities and is subject to no accountability, has now become the center of world politics. Since these individuals operate with a ‘clash of civilizations’ mindset, they think that solutions can only be achieved through conflict, fragmentation, and causing general disturbance.

A large part of the problem is this flawed mentality. Such global governance can be restructured in a perfect way for the sake of cementing world peace, love and friendship. However, the fact that the aforementioned organizations’ mentality is focused on conflict and war documents that they do not consider it possible yet. Nonetheless, assuming that the power of the deep powers is self-contained can be deceptive; these organizations became successful and took control of many nations only because they look “invincible”.

However, in truth, those who shape their goals upon love and peace are always more powerful. Their ideals are bigger and their goals are righteous. Righteous goals will ultimately prevail. The important thing is that people of peace should unite and act in an alliance. Then those who believe that solutions can only be achieved through conflict will witness the absolute power of peace, change their perspective, and work towards making the world a better place.

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As the Syrian army advances in the east of Aleppo with support from Russia, and with the conflict between the US and Russia intensifying dramatically, the German government has hardened its attitude towards Moscow. On Friday, leading German politicians called for fresh sanctions against Russia, the massive arming of the Islamist opposition and even the use of German ground troops.

On the same day, leading German business daily Handelsblatt, reported that Angela Merkel advocated “the withdrawal of Russian troops” from Syria in a speech in Magdeburg. Directly addressing the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, the chancellor declared, “I can again only appeal to Russia, Russia has a lot of influence on Assad: We must end this horrible crime as soon as possible.”

Given the “truly appalling situation” in Aleppo, the German government considers new sanctions against Russia a possible reaction. The German government was “considering all the options,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin.

Beforehand, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag (parliament), Norbert Röttgen (CDU, Christian Democratic Union), had called for tougher sanctions against Moscow. He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “A war crime that had no consequences or sanctions would be a scandal.” At the same time, he also complained that European governments had only done what absolutely needed to be done under their “obligations”.

Speaking on ARD television, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok (CDU) also called for sanctions, to “put pressure on” Russia and “punish” her. In particular, he called for technological sanctions that inhibited the development of weapons—“as we have done during in the Cold War”.

Brok provided an insight into the far-reaching, aggressive plans that are being discussed in government and military circles behind the backs of the population. “The only option to do something would be to go in,” said Brok. “But who in Germany would be willing to send the army in there?” One must ask, “Are we ready to do something ourselves and go in with the army?”

He added: “Perhaps the only way—if that is possible technically, from the logistics—is to provide some of the rebels […] with ground-to-air missiles”. It had been shown that Russia herself was not prepared to engage in “selective cooperation”. For Russia, it was “just a matter of power, of ruling this country”.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is supporting the aggressive war policies of the Christian Democrats. For example, in the Rheinische Post, SPD foreign policy expert Niels Annen said, “Instead of dispatching warships to the region and terminating agreements, for example concerning the destruction of plutonium, Russia should finally assume its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council and respect international humanitarian law”.

In September, Social Democratic Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already demanded a no-fly zone to advance the West’s objective of regime change in Syria. Such an action would be the exact opposite of promoting “international humanitarian law”. In March 2011, the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya was the prelude to a massive NATO bombing campaign against the oil-rich country and the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime by Western-backed Islamist rebels.

Unlike the Libyan war, Germany has been in the vanguard of the imperialist powers against Syria from the beginning. In 2012, the German foreign ministry in cooperation with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and parts of the Syrian opposition, brought to life the so-called “The Day After” project to outline its “vision for a post-Assad regime” in Syria. Since the end of 2015, Germany’s Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) have been a direct party to the war in Syria, operating with tornado jets, reconnaissance technology and a warship.

To the extent that the Russian intervention in Syria is thwarting the plans of the German government and has brought the Western-backed Islamist militias to the brink of defeat, the German media has beaten the drum for war and militarism ever more hysterically.

A commentary in the current issue of news weekly Die Zeit, headlined “Can Europe really just look on in Syria”, warns that currently “some 10,000 pro-Assad fighters” are preparing “to storm East Aleppo”. Should the city fall into the hands of the Syrian regime in the next weeks, “this would be a strategic success for Bashar al-Assad”.

The counter-strategy advocated by Die Zeit: “The delivery of weapons with which the insurgents can prevail against the permanent air onslaught”, as a “first military step”. The author of the article, Andrea Böhm, who in an earlier comment had defended Al Qaeda, openly says who should be supported. “The pro- Al-Qaeda Jabhat Fateh al-sham” is “as strong as ever” and has “established itself as the most effective faction defending civilians against IS and against Assad”.

In an editorial in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday, Tomas Avenarius mused: “Finally delivering to the rebels the weapons they had long called for after years of reluctance: anti-aircraft missiles, which can bring down Russian jets from the sky. In the Afghanistan war 30 years ago, such US missiles had helped the jihadists inflict a defeat on the Red Army”.

If German politicians and media representatives are now beating the drum for sanctions against Russia, for the massive rearmament of Al Qaeda and the deployment of ground troops to Syria, they do so not as followers of the US government, which is also constantly fuelling the conflict, but as representatives of European and, above all, German imperialism.

“The second step must take place in Brussels and especially in Berlin”, Böhm emphasized in Die Zeit. The war in Syria must “be understood as a matter of supreme national security”. Avenarius is incensed that the US was not able to guarantee “a Russian defeat in Syria”. “Thanks to earlier hesitancy”, the US “no longer” had the power “to prevent” the cementing of Russian power aspirations.

To defend Germany’s geo-strategic and economic interests against Russia, but also increasingly against the United States, the German elites are prepared to foment a conflict which they themselves know could trigger a third world war. The current edition of news magazine Der Spiegel appears with a front page headline reading, “World power struggle: trouble spot Syria—Putin’s work, Obama’s contribution”, and speaks of a “world war for Aleppo”.

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Awkward facts that erode the ‘benign humanitarian’ self-image of the West are routinely side-lined or buried by the corporate media. Consider, for example, the severe impact of sanctions imposed on Syria by the United States and the European Union.

An internal United Nations assessment, revealed on September 28 by Rania Khalek in The Intercept, makes clear that the sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and preventing vital aid, including medical supplies, from reaching those in dire need.

Access has been denied for blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps and spare parts for power plants, amongst other items.

Khalek notes that the internal assessment, which was prepared for the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, describes:

‘the U.S. and EU measures as “some of the most complicated and far-reaching sanctions regimes ever imposed.” Detailing a complex system of “unpredictable and time-consuming” financial restrictions and licensing requirements, the report finds that U.S. sanctions are exceptionally harsh “regarding provision of humanitarian aid.”‘

US sanctions on Syrian banks have made the transfer of funds into Syria ‘nearly impossible’. This has had a two-fold effect:

1. Aid groups have been unable to pay local staff and suppliers which has delayed or prevented aid from reaching those in need.

2. An unofficial and unregulated financial network has proliferated, making it easier for ISIS and al Qaeda to divert funds undetected.

Khalek also reports that a leaked email from ‘a key UN official’ blamed US and EU sanctions for contributing to food shortages and weakened health care. In particular:

‘sanctions had contributed to a doubling in fuel prices in 18 months and a 40 percent drop in wheat production since 2010, causing the price of wheat flour to soar by 300 percent and rice by 650 percent.’

The UN official cited sanctions as a ‘principal factor’ in the erosion of Syria’s health care system. Khalek adds:

‘Medicine-producing factories that haven’t been completely destroyed by the fighting have been forced to close because of sanctions-related restrictions on raw materials and foreign currency’.

The US first imposed sanctions on Syria in 1979, after designating its government ‘a State Sponsor of Terrorism’. Over time, further sanctions were added with more extreme restrictions imposed in 2011 after it was claimed the Syrian government had initiated violence against peaceful protesters (a claim that has been contested). In 2013, sanctions were eased, but only in areas that opposed President Assad. As Khalek notes:

‘Around the same time, the CIA began directly shipping weapons to armed insurgents at a colossal cost of nearly $1 billion a year, effectively adding fuel to the conflict while U.S. sanctions obstructed emergency assistance to civilians caught in the crossfire.’

When Khalek challenged the US State Department about the devastating impact of sanctions on war-torn Syria, where 13 million people are dependent on humanitarian assessment, she was fed a statement ‘which recycled talking points that justified sanctions against Iraq in [the] 1990s’:

‘U.S. sanctions against [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], his backers, and the regime deprive these actors of resources that could be used to further the bloody campaign Assad continues to wage against his own people’.

The same specious propaganda arguments were used by the West, notably the United States and Britain, to ‘justify’ barbaric sanctions against Iraq from 1990 to 2003, following the first Gulf War. Leading politicians and officials in the West claimed that the sanctions were aimed at punishing and containing Saddam. But the victims were the Iraqi people themselves. In 1999, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that the mortality rate for children under five in Iraq had doubled. In all, half a million young Iraqi children died as a result. Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, infamously declared that ‘the price is worth it’.

Given the terrible consequences in Iraq under the crippling UN embargo, the United States government is no doubt perfectly aware of the impact of sanctions on the Syrian people. Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, observes:

‘Sanctions have a terrible effect on the people more than the regime and Washington knows this from Iraq. But there’s pressure in Washington to do something and sanctions look like you’re doing something.’

Hans von Sponeck, who resigned from his post as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad in 2000, accused Washington and London of ‘knowingly maintaining conditions of misery’ in Iraq under sanctions. (Hans von Sponeck, ‘A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanctions Regime in Iraq’, Berghahn, 2006, p. 27). We are not supposed to believe that ‘our’ governments would do such a heinous thing. And, indeed, von Sponeck’s book was essentially ignored by the western media. It has never been reviewed by any major UK newspaper, and has literally been mentioned only once (by Robert Fisk in the Independent).

As well as the current punitive sanctions on Syria, Khalek also notes that:

‘in cities controlled by ISIS, the U.S. has employed some of the same tactics it condemns. For example, U.S.-backed ground forces laid siege to Manbij, a city in northern Syria not far from Aleppo that is home to tens of thousands of civilians. U.S. airstrikes pounded the city over the summer, killing up to 125 civilians in a single attack. The U.S. also used airstrikes to drive ISIS out of Kobane, Ramadi, and Fallujah, leaving behind flattened neighborhoods. In Fallujah, residents resorted to eating soup made from grass and 140 people reportedly died from lack of food and medicine during the siege.’

An honest media would report all this with headline coverage and include much critical analysis in editorials and opinion pieces. They would also ask searching questions of the British Prime Minister and other leading politicians. Needless to say, this has not happened. Indeed, our searches have revealed just one newspaper article covering the report’s assessment that US and EU sanctions are contributing to the terrible suffering of the Syrian people. Patrick Cockburn reported in the Independent:

‘the US and EU sanctions are imposing an economic siege on Syria as a whole which may be killing more Syrians than die of illness and malnutrition in the sieges which EU and US leaders have described as war crimes. Over half the country’s public hospitals have been damaged or destroyed.’

We found nothing on the BBC News website.

Even when the Guardian trumpeted an ‘exclusive’ on September 30 (two days after Rania Khalek’s piece in The Intercept) that more than 80% of UN aid convoys in Syria had been blocked or delayed, there was nothing about the crippling effect on aid by US and EU sanctions. There was a single passing mention to these sanctions, but only in the context of heaping blame on the official enemy Assad:

‘the UN has awarded contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to individuals closely associated with Assad, including businesspeople whose companies are under US and EU sanctions.’

We asked Nick Hopkins, the author of the Guardian article, to explain why his ‘exclusive’ had ignored criticism of US and EU sanctions (here and here). He did not respond. Hopkins, a former BBC journalist, had also remained silent when we challenged him in 2011 about a propaganda piece on Iran. Likewise, he ignored us in 2013 when we challenged him to justify misinforming Guardian readers that merely ‘tens of thousands’ had died in Iraq following the 2003 invasion by US-led forces.

These are just a tiny sample of the myriad examples that reveal the Guardian‘s role as a liberal gatekeeper of acceptable views in the ‘mainstream’. Bear this in mind the next time you see an online Guardian advert pleading:

‘Producing in-depth, thoughtful, well-reported journalism is difficult and expensive – but supporting us isn’t. If you value the Guardian’s international coverage, please help to fund our journalism by becoming a supporter.’

Support journalism that regularly buries Western crimes? Smears Jeremy Corbyn and the public movement behind him? And promotes a ‘liberal’ view of climate-wrecking capitalism? No thanks.

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“Just as this country’s obsession with professional hockey does not just happen, Canadians’ opinions about their country’s role internationally is not a historical accident or ‘natural’ occurrence. Rather, it reflects the work of numerous institutions designed to influence public opinion, which together represent a powerful propaganda system.” Yves Engler, from the 2016 book A Propaganda System

“The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely to impose necessary illusions to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena.” Noam Chomsky [2]

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Major capitalist societies like the U.S. and Canada are political democracies couched in economic plutocracies. That is, the means of production and the levers of economic control over vast resources lie in the hands of a wealthy elite.

However, the common people have the freedom to organize in their own interests and elect one of their own to high office. There is no totalitarian ruler holding a bludgeon over the heads of the masses controlling what they do, and restricting what they say.

As prominent political dissident and linguistics professor Noam Chomsky has pointed out, however, under such conditions “when the State loses the bludgeon, when you can’t control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard…it may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don’t have the humility to submit to a ‘civil rule’ and therefore you have to control what people think.” [3] This is why a propaganda system of national myths and necessary illusions is a consistent and vital component of what is seen as modern democracy.

Chomsky, together with co-author Edward Herman wrote at length about this phenomenon in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. That analysis, however, mostly focused on the mass media communication system within the United States.

This week’s episode of the Global Research News Hour focuses on the system of thought control as it has manifested itself within Canada.

In the first half hour, we hear from John Ahniwanika Schertow, the editor and founder of Intercontinental Cry. Since 2004, IC has been highlighting stories of Indigenous struggle and resistance not just on Turtle Island (North America) but in South America, the African continent, Asia and points around the globe. As Schertow explains in this twenty minute interviewer with special guest host Kimlee Wong, Canadian media, including so-called alternative media, systematically ignore the realities confronting the world’s 5000 Indigenous Peoples. Such omissions have consequences not only for the lives, Indigenous cultures and languages, but also for the ecosystems they fight to protect for future generations.

Intercontinental Cry, like Global Research, depends on donations to carry on its important work. The media platform has just begun a fund-raiser. Please consider an on-line donation at this site:

https://www.patreon.com/indigenousjournalism

In the second half hour, we hear from Yves Engler, prominent Montreal-based writer and Canadian foreign policy critic. In previous books, such as The Black Book on Canadian Foreign Policy, and Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid, Engler confronted the mistaken impression a lot of Canadians have about their country as a positive influence on the world stage. His latest book A Propaganda System: How Canada’s government, corporations, media, and academia sell war and exploitation details exactly how numerous institutions within the nation have been so successful generating this mythology. Yves Engler elaborates on his analysis in the second half hour.

As of Tuesday October 11, Yves Engler is partaking in a cross- Canada book tour. Details available here. 

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca . The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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 every Saturday at 6am.

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 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. Yves Engler, 2016: “A Propaganda System: How Canada’s government, corporations, media, and academia sell war and exploitation”, p.186. Fernwood Publishing
  2. Excerpt of a speech in the film Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) by Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHa6NflkW3Y
  3. ibid

US’ Destruction of Syria Will Take UN With It

October 11th, 2016 by Ulson Gunnar

The United Nations has never looked more impotent, irrelevant and politically motivated in its actions than it has regarding the ongoing conflict in Syria.

It has categorically failed to take an impartial stance on the conflict which has raged for over 5 years now. This includes a failure to properly identify the conflict as a foreign-funded and backed proxy war rather than a “civil war,” as well as identify and hold accountable those nations fueling anti-government hostilities within and beyond Syria’s borders.

By failing to do so, the UN has undermined its own credibility, credibility required to ensure the Syrian government and its allies adhere to international law and observe human rights as they execute security operations aimed at restoring order and stability across the country.

Quest for “Veto Limits” is Politically Motivated

The most recent and perhaps severe collapse of the UN’s credibility revolves around US-backed calls to “limit veto power” upon the UN Security Council, effectively allowing the council to green-light without opposition any war the US wills predicated on its well-practiced “humanitarian war” rhetoric.

The US State Department’s Voice of America would publish an article titled, “UN Official Calls for Security Council Veto Limit to Halt Syrian Bloodbath,” which claimed:

The United Nations’ top human rights official has called for limits on the use of the veto power by the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members to halt the tragedy unfolding in east Aleppo in northern Syria. 

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein has called the situation nothing short of calamitous and likened the horrors being inflicted on the citizens of Aleppo to those that occurred in cities such as Warsaw, Stalingrad and Dresden in World War II.

It is no coincidence that Zeid hails from Jordan, one of several nations directly involved in harboring, training, arming and refitting militant groups along Syria’s borders, belying claims that the conflict is a “civil war” rather than a foreign sponsored proxy war.

VOA also claimed:

Russia, often backed by China, has used its veto power in the Security Council to block resolutions it deemed unfavorable to its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The high commissioner’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, said Zeid was calling for bold leadership to end this practice.

And indeed, Russia’s veto is all that prevented a recent French-sponsored resolution aimed at establishing a no-fly-zone and thus impunity for terrorists trapped in the city of Aleppo and surrounding it, prolonging the conflict and suffering of those trapped amid it, not ending it.

It was a US-European sponsored no-fly-zone implemented through the UN Security Council (that Russia failed to veto) that transformed Libya from a functioning nation-state into a divided and destroyed failed state.

The ability for Syria and its allies to continue security operations aimed at reclaiming eastern Aleppo from militant groups admittedly affiliated with terrorist organizations is essential in reestablishing peace and stability and normality for the civilian population of Aleppo, the majority of which already live in relative peace and stability in government-held western Aleppo.

Qatari state media, Al Jazeera, in an article titled, “Syria’s war: UN Security Council votes on Aleppo,” would claim:

Western governments and Russia have clashed at the UN Security Council even while the Syrian government presses ahead with its military offensive against rebel-held areas of Aleppo. 

The UN Security Council voted on Saturday on two rival resolutions on the fighting – one drafted by France calling for an end to air strikes and a second by Russia that urged a ceasefire but made no mention of halting the bombings.

In reality, US and European efforts to end the bombings is based on a necessity to preserve the fighting capacity of militant groups operating in Syrian territory, thus perpetuating the conflict, not ending it — at least not until US and European terms are met regarding regime change and the division and destruction of Syria as a functioning nation-state.

As in Libya, So to in Syria 

Observers should note that similar claims by the US and its allies were made regarding the conflict in Libya in which its UNSC proposals were meant to prevent a “humanitarian crisis” resulting instead in a devastating US-led war that ultimately created by far a vastly larger humanitarian catastrophe than it was allegedly aimed at preventing.

A US-led air campaign destroyed essential infrastructure across Libya, eliminated Libya’s security forces and helped propel extremist militant groups the US and its European and Arab allies armed and supported, into power across the remnants of the North African nation-state.

The collapse of Libya as a nation-state has led to racially motivated attacks and ethnic cleansing by US-European-Arab backed militants, transforming Libya into one of now several epicenters fueling Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis.

It is clear that the US knew its actions would lead to Libya’s collapse, the creation of chaos within Libya and the creation of a refugee crisis that would compromise regional security far beyond Libya’s borders. There is absolutely no reason to believe the US and its political allies vying to push forward yet another resolution within the UN Security Council, are unaware that Syria will suffer a similar, if not worse fate than Libya, should they succeed.

The UN, willfully serving as a medium through which the US openly pursues its self-serving politically objectives behind the letter of international law, cripples its own credibility, preventing it from fulfilling its role as the impartial mediator required to resolve global conflicts, including the Syrian conflict.

It is clear that no solution will be found within the halls of the UN, and instead, it will continue to serve as a stage upon which nations perform public relations stunts rather than carry out genuine diplomacy.

Syria’s fate will ultimately be decided on the battlefield either through continued combat operations, or direct negotiations with those bearing weapons, face-to-face, far from the halls of the impotent and ultimately compromised United Nations.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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M.A.D. The concept of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ which posited the prospect of a global catastrophe in the event of a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union was one which permeated the popular consciousness of the people of both nations as indeed it did the rest of the world during the era of the Cold War.

The realisation of Armageddon beckoning, replete with apocalyptic imagery of modern cities being turned into vast swathes of wasteland and of mass human annihilation, informed the policies of the respective superpowers.

Although severely divided by diametrically opposed ideological standpoints and ranged against each other via the military alliances respectively of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact, the leaders of America and the Soviet Union were nonetheless consistently united in the idea of diffusing tension.

While they may have fought proxy wars in far-flung theatres such as Vietnam, Angola and the Ogaden region of the Horn of Africa, the desire to maintain a state of coexistence as well as the prolongation of human existence spurred them to making a succession of treaties which sought to ban or reduce forms of nuclear testing, weapon capabilities and stockpiles of arsenal. Deterrent strategies such as related to ‘first-strike’ and ‘massive retaliation’ doctrines became modified by a flexible response doctrine. However, since the ending of the Cold War, there appears to be little by way of public debate about a clear departure from the modus operandi of the past. Battlefield doctrines of both United States and Russian militaries now permit the deployment of nuclear munitions. Contrary to public perception and even the words uttered during a recent debate between the present contestants for the US presidency, both countries refute a ‘No First Use’ policy and reserve the right to initiate a pre-emptive strike using nuclear weapons.

The period elapsed since the ending of the Cold War has witnessed significant developments that have had an impact on nuclear policy: the expansion of NATO towards the borders of Russia, the abrogation of anti-ballistic missile treaties as well as the development and deployment of so called ‘missile shields’ by the United States around Russia. Yet, these matters have not been made issues of public concern and subjected to a level of scrutiny which they arguably should be. The American public, it appears, remains blissfully unaware or unconcerned about the possibility of nuclear warfare even as tensions between the United States, seemingly resolute in its policy of preserving the unipolar world which succeeded the Cold War, and a resurgent Russia, have steadily increased. This is an unsatisfactory state of affairs; one which given the current tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine and Syria surely invokes the cautionary adage of death being always present wherever ignorance dominates.

The recent presidential debate held in New York between Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent Donald Trump contained an interesting exchange which followed Clinton’s expressing her concerns about Trump’s judgement and temperament in being able to deal with the pressures incumbent on any serving president.

“A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes” said Clinton. She claimed that Trump’s public statements on the matter had indicated that he was unconcerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons among nations in the Middle East and Asia. Trump denied this and at one point replied that “nuclear is the single greatest threat that this country has.”

Then turning to the last segment of the debate which he referred to as “securing America”, the moderator, Lester Holt, a news anchor for NBC News, said the following:

“On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy? Mr. Trump, you have two minutes on that.”

What followed was a rambling response with references to old B-52 bombers, China’s potential influence on North Korea and a criticism of President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Still, Trump did manage to assure the audience that he “would certainly not do first strike”.

For her part Clinton’s response, which contained reassurances to Japan and South Korea on America’s continued commitment to mutual defence treaties and critique of Trump’s allege lack of strategic thinking, did not directly answer Holt’s question. She did however end with the statement that “we cannot let those who would try to destabilize the world to interfere with American interests and security to be given any opportunities at all.”

What was striking in the first place was the limited period of discussion given to both candidates to discuss the matter of nuclear policy. The question lacked the proper degree of scope for an issue of such importance. Further, Holt’s query did not have sufficient clarity. It assumed that the American public was aware of the specificities of the present doctrine on nuclear strategy.

In a 2010 survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR), just over half -55%- responded that the United States should only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack. Those who felt that in certain circumstances their country should use nuclear weapons even if it has not suffered a nuclear attack amounted to 21%.

America’s new B61-12 tactical nuclear weapon

A ‘first strike’ may be defined as the initiation of a preemptive surprise attack by one nation upon another by a concentrated and comprehensive utilisation of nuclear weapons. The object of such an action is to destroy the nuclear offensive capability of the opponent to the extent that a response would be either impossible or ineffective. The attacker would thus be put in the position of surviving a war.

It is important to note that the American-led NATO alliance has never adopted a ‘No First Use’ policy. The ‘massive retaliation’ doctrine developed in the 1950s under the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, allowed for the use of nuclear weapons as a response to any form of military aggression including that of a relatively minor attack using conventional forces. The doctrine succeeding it, namely that predicated on ‘flexible response’, although a modification, did not preclude the United States-NATO from being the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict including one initiated by the use of conventional weapons.

This has continued to be the state of affairs. President Kennedy, who in March of 1961 had raised the issue of a ‘No First Use’ strategic doctrine, dropped the idea after the Cuban Missile Crisis. A call on the eve of NATO’s 50th anniversary summit in 1999 by Germany, Canada and the Netherlands for the alliance to consider a ‘No First Use’ policy was roundly rejected by the administration of Bill Clinton. And when President Obama announced in 2016 that he was considering making good on a pre-election promise in 2008 of adopting the policy, he was met with vociferous opposition by his national security advisers who persuaded him to nix the idea.

On the Russian side, Vladimir Putin in 2000 announced a new military doctrine that replaced the previous one devised in the Soviet era which was committed to ‘No First Use’. This has since been modified. Russia’s official military doctrine published in the latter part of 2014 states that it will not use nuclear weapons in a first strike. Some in the West are quick to doubt the sincerity of the doctrine much in the manner that many refused to believe similar no first strike doctrines announced by China in the 1960s and by the old Soviet Union.

Nonetheless, it is clear that there is much more involved in reassuring national populations than the mere enumeration of nuclear military doctrine. For if the nuanced distinction between having a ‘first strike’ capability and a ‘no first use’ policy may not be readily appreciated by the layperson, what should be apparent to anyone whether of the political classes or of the masses is the importance of the tone of the relations between competing nuclear powers. Mutual security for both is ensured not merely by the expression of doctrine but critically, through the words and deeds of the political and military leaders of the potential antagonists. The quality of diplomacy together with the strategy employed both in the development and the deployment of nuclear weapons is the ultimate guarantor of peace no matter how severe the differences existing between both.

Using this as a standard, it is clear that the contemporary circumstances of the relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation falls short. And dangerously so.

This state of affairs, so markedly different to that which existed during the Cold War, is largely the doing of the policies undertaken by successive administrations of the United States since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent dismantling of the Soviet system in Eastern Europe. But before providing the reasons for this shift, it is useful first to explain the position which previously existed.

Starting with the administration of President John F. Kennedy, and lasting up until the ending of the Cold War, successive American governments consistently sought to achieve the means by which tensions with the nuclear armed Soviet Union could be lessened if not totally diffused.

The potential global catastrophe which could have ensued from the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 served as a catalyst in enabling years of talks to finally conclude with the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty the following year. A secret protocol accompanying the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba was the withdrawal of US Jupiter ballistic missiles from Turkey. The United States also gave an undertaking not to attempt to invade Cuba in the future.

The following decade, Richard Nixon signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT) as well as the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) in 1972. In 1979, Jimmy Carter signed the SALT II treaty. Although not ratified by Congress because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States nonetheless abided by it terms until its expiration. The next major agreement was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INFT) of 1987 signed by President Ronald Reagan just before the Cold War came to an end.

However, there came a shift. The Clinton administration decided on pursuing a policy of absorbing former Soviet satellite states into NATO. Starting in 1997 with Poland, Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia, NATO inaugurated a policy of expansion into eastern Europe, reneging on an agreement, the Russians allege, that had been reached by American and Soviet leaders at the end of the Cold War. This was that in return for allowing a re-unified Germany to join NATO, the American-led alliance would not extend itself “an inch” towards the east.

Then in 2002, the Bush administration withdrew from the ABM treaty and adopted a missile shields policy. It was under President Barack Obama that the first of the anti-ballistic missiles began to be deployed in countries close to the Russian border. The result has been a consistent ratcheting of tension between the Russians and NATO.

To understand the basis of these developments and the attendant antagonisms developed between the United States and the Russian Federation, recourse needs to be made to understanding the guiding canons which have shaped American foreign policy since the ending of the Cold War. These are, respectively, known as the Wolfowitz and Brzezinski doctrines. Each is the creature of the belief that American political and economic global hegemony must remain unassailable.

In 1992, the then secretary of the US Department of Defence, Paul Wolfowitz authored a policy document named the ‘Defense Planning Guidance’, which was to cover the fiscal years of 1994 to 1999. It explicitly called on the present and future political leadership to enforce a global American imperium which would if necessary involve the abrogation of international treaty obligations. It was a call to embrace a new age of American militarism.

Earlier in 1988, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s work, ‘The Grand Chessboard’ theorized in detail a geo-strategy fixated on preventing the rise of a Eurasian power or combination of powers which could challenge the global dominance of the United States. The focus of this doctrine when applied is that the United States needed to militarily intimidate a post-Cold War Russia while working to dismantle it for the purpose of using it as a pliant source of Western energy needs.

Both doctrines reflect a hybrid of the thinking behind the neoconservative philosophy which has been consistently influential on the policies of successive American administrations dating back to that of Bill Clinton.

The notion that the ending of the Cold War was the ‘end of history’, the resultant synthesis of a Hegelian-like dialectical chain, through which the American system had emerged victorious and thus anointed as a nation to impose its will on the rest of humanity resonated with those already imbued with a belief in the messianic aspect of ‘American Exceptionalism’ as well as those of the neoconservative stripe who believe in the aggressive export of American ideas and values.

Thus, America’s embrace of militarism which has been the major stimulant in destroying countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, has also put it on a confrontational course with the nuclear armed China. China, with whom Richard Nixon sought a rapprochement in the early 1970s is today being challenged by the United States through its military and diplomatic pivot to Asia. One aspect of this is its insistence on what it terms “freedom of navigation” which the Chinese not unreasonably interpret as a euphemism for American control of the sea lanes which are vital to its trade.

Added to the aforementioned expansion of NATO as well as the withdrawal from the ABM treaty have been the conflicts the United States has encouraged or fomented on Russia’s borders. In Chechnya, NATO provided covert support to Chechen rebels as part of a strategy geared towards controlling the pipeline corridors transporting oil and gas out of the Caspian Sea region. NATO also encouraged Georgia under former president Mikheil Saakashvili to attack South Ossetia which prompted the Russo-Georgian War of 2008. The United States was also behind the coup of February 2014 in the Ukraine using far-Right militias to depose the democratically elected leader under the guise of a popular people’s uprising. Russia’s reaction in annexing the Crimea after a plebiscite, an invocation of its ‘Black Sea doctrine’,  was a measured response to the threat posed by NATO encroaching on its only warm sea port which grants part of its naval fleet access to the Mediterranean Sea.

The coup in Ukraine and the belligerence of the succeeding regime whose leaders were handpicked by the United States has provided a means by which tensions between both powers have been escalated. The United States installed a nationalist government which was quick to demonstrate its antipathy to the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country. It is worth reminding how the United States felt threatened by a Soviet backed regime in Cuba and how this led to a crisis which brought both superpowers to the brink of a nuclear showdown. The question then is how would an objective observer appraise the Russian view about a rival power installing a hostile regime right on its border? A useful analogy may be of the Russians or the Chinese instigating a coup in Quebec and installing an FLQ-type regime which was hostile both to English-speaking Canadians and the United States.

While the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has provided the basis for a potential conflict between Russia and NATO, the present Syrian Civil War, the fruits of an American-initiated insurrection to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad currently presents the basis through which an all out war between the United States and Russia may ensue.

The formal Russian intervention that commenced in September of 2015 is based on Russian interests in preserving its naval base in the sea coast town of Tartus and also in putting down the American-sponsored Jihadi militias that are being used as proxies to effect Assad’s overthrow. Russia has a vested interest in preventing the spread of Jihadi militias such as Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra to the Muslim populations within it and in neighboring states. The Russian action which has enabled the Syrian government to reconquer swathes of territory from Jihadi militias exposed the United States the insincerity behind America’s professed actions against these Islamist groups some of which it disingenuously refers to as ‘moderate’ rebels.

The breakdown of the US-Russian ceasefire over the besieged town of Aleppo as a result of an attack on September 17th by United States and NATO forces on Syrian Army placements in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour has presented another deliberate provocation to the Russians. It is doubtful that the quality of United States intelligence could be so poor as have mistaken Syrian soldiers for Islamic State guerrillas. Rather, it is more believable that the attacks were deliberately carried out to put Islamic State insurgents in a position to mount a ground offensive against the Syrian Army and was aimed at sabotaging the ceasefire worked out by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on the 9th of September.

It fits into the pattern of the United States covert support for Jihadi militias. It also, raises the question of whether high-ranking civilian and military officials within the American government are keen to start a war with Russia and risk the full weight of the consequences that may ensue. Recent developments point to what effectively is a mutiny on the part of Ash Carter, the US Secretary of State for Defence, and senior generals including General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Chief of Army Staff, Mark Milley. The fatal attack on Syrian Army positions which lasted for over an hour could only have been sanctioned at the highest echelons of the Pentagon.

Russian air power has been instrumental in enabling the Syrian Arab Army to reclaim Syrian territory lost to jihadi groups such as Islamic state and Jabhat al Nusra. Therefore calls by administration figures such as Carter and politicians such as Senator John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence for a ‘No Fly Zone’ are an invitation to war with Russia. On September 22nd, while giving evidence under oath to the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on US strategy in the Middle East, General Durnford explicitly stated that the imposition of a ‘No Fly Zone’ in Syria “will mean war with Russia.”

But while the general mentioned that the actions of the US military would depend on the instructions they received, he gave an extraordinary reply to a question put to him by a senator. Asked if he would support the proposal on intelligence sharing which Russia agreed upon by John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov on the 9th of September, Dunford responded “We don’t have any intention of having any intelligence sharing arrangement with the Russians.” Durnford did not stop at stating that it would be “unwise” to share intelligence with Russia. He stressed that it would not be one of the military’s missions if Washington and Moscow were to ever work together against Islamist militants in Syria.

The threat of a war between the United States and Russia can only be increased if a disobedient faction of the military and government is acting independently of instructions of a serving president. Such a situation is not unheard of in American history. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a member of the Kennedy administration, would once admit “we did not control the joint chiefs of staff”. It was in the prevailing atmosphere of fervent anti-communism that a group of Right-wing, high-ranking military officers at the Pentagon openly defied Kennedy and constantly called for war against the Soviet Union. Most notable among them were Army General Lyman Lemnitzer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Generals Curtis LeMay and Tommy Power. All called for the invasion of Cuba at the height of the missile crisis – a decision which would have almost certainly led to a war and a nuclear catastrophe.

If army generals such as Durnford and Milley are wilfully acting against the instructions of the White House, this would amount to mutinous conduct as defined under the United States Uniform Code of Justice. Barack Obama has in the past removed generals who disagreed with him; General Stanley McChrystal being a case in point. However, it is uncertain as to whether his inaction is due to the ‘lame duck’ status  all presidents acquire in the last months of their time in office or if he tacitly approves of this aggressive course while maintaining a facade of wishing to reach an accommodation with Russia in Syria.

The aggressive tone being struck by senior American military figures is worrisome. On October 4th, General Milley issued a warning that the United States would “destroy any enemy, anywhere and anytime”. His reference to a belligerent statement made by a London-based Russian official along as well as his mentioning of China, Iran and South Korea identified the presumptive foes while his references to tackling enemies both possessing large conventional capabilities or using guerrilla tactics in dense urban populated areas indicate that the United States is preparing for a large scale war.

The Russian leader has raised the issue of the danger of a nuclear conflict in several interviews over the past months. In an impassioned monologue delivered to a gathering of various world news agencies in July of this year, Putin referred to the prevailing mood of insouciance in the Western media and public.

Your people…do not feel a sense of impending danger -this is what worries me. How do you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? While they pretend that nothing is going on. I don’t know how to get through to you anymore.

Putin had reminded the gathered of the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders, the positioning of missile shields in Europe under the pretext of being a defensive shield to an attack from Iran.

But while Russia’s actions have been demonstrably reactive, it has shown that it is prepared to go on the offensive. While John McCain has suggested a “new strategy” in Syria with a “necessary military component” which would involve attacking the Syrian military and shooting down Russian aircraft, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defence, warned in early October that Russia will shoot down NATO jets over Syria if airstrikes are launched against the Syrian Arab Army.

Syria currently presents the greatest danger of a full blown conflict developing between the United States and Russia. But the security challenge presented by Ukraine is still ongoing as indeed are the policies respectively of an expanding NATO and encircling Russia with missile shields from Eastern Europe through to Asia and Alaska. Meanwhile, there has been no thorough public examination of the legality of American military involvement in Syria, no public debate on the reasonableness of NATO expansion or the efficacy of the development of a missile shield system.

Those who dispute the veracity of an undertaking by US leaders not to expand its military alliance eastwards because of the absence of an official written document forget that many important bilateral international agreements of the past were undertaken orally and respected by successor governments. For example, the United States undertaking not to mount an invasion of Cuba was never officially reduced to writing. Yet it was respected by succeeding American administrations.

So far as missile defence systems are concerned, the American Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit science advocacy organisation, argue that they are “fundamentally ineffective”. Their development, it is further argued, “may actually undermine national security by impeding deep cuts in nuclear weapons, complicating important international relationships and engendering a false sense of security among policy makers.”

Again those who think nothing untoward about the expansion of America’s network of nuclear missile shields should be aware of what it implies. It is sending out a message to potential adversaries that the shield will insulate the owner from nuclear attack thus presenting the United States with a viable first strike option while removing the balance of terror guaranteed by mutual assured destruction. This is why the Soviet Union reacted with alarm at the Reagan administration’s announcement of its Strategic Defence Initiative.

At the same time, a country which is increasingly surrounded by missile defence systems is likely to feel ‘locked in’. And the more it feels that it is reaching the point where its own arsenal will no longer be able to serve as a deterrent to an attack, the more likely that such a country would feel compelled to use a first strike option during an episode of crisis.

This was alluded to back in 2012 by the then Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolay Marakov who stated that Russia would consider a preemptive strike under certain circumstances:

Considering the destabilising nature of the (American) ABM system, namely the creation of an illusion of inflicting a disarming (nuclear) strike with impunity, a decision on preemptive deployment of assault weapons could be taken when the situation gets harder.

The Russians are responding by a programme of modernizing their weapons delivery systems. It is developing a new generation of long-range nuclear bombers and truck-mounted ballistic missiles. Missiles have been placed closer to NATO countries accepting United States shield technology and its ageing Pacific nuclear submarine fleet which is mostly stationed at the Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is being upgraded with the addition of the new Borei-class submarines.

While the role of its Asian fleet is part of what the Russians refer to as one of ‘strategic deterrence’, soldiers on the Western alliance are prone to interpret these measures as evidence of aggressive intent. Arguing against any modification of NATO’s doctrine to one of ‘No First Use’, General Sir Richard Shirreff, a British former deputy supreme allied commander, told the BBC in 2014 that Russia has hardwired “nuclear thinking and capability to every aspect of their defence capability”.

Comments such as Shirreff’s as well as those by United State’s government officials chiding Russia for allegedly being in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty fail to take into account Russian grievances related to the United States abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty by NATOs development and deployment of missile shields. At a meeting in November 2015 with high-ranking generals, Vladimir Putin accused the United States of attempting to “neutralize” Russia’s nuclear arsenal through its missile shield project. Russia’s response, he said, would be to “strengthen the potential of its strategic nuclear forces”, including the deployment of “attack systems” capable of nullifying any missile shield.

The global management of nuclear arsenals has always been played as a game of sorts. Within it are strategies and counter-strategies that have taken into account matters such as political gamesmanship, shifting international alliances, geo-political developments and advances in technology. But while the American-Soviet Cold War has long ended and statistics such as those released by the Peace Research Institute Oslo indicate a steady and marked decline since the end of the Second World War in the overall number of deaths sustained globally through wars, the world is a more dangerous place when there are rising tensions between the nuclear armed superpowers.

The recent acrimonious breakdown in US-Russian efforts at cooperating  in Syria as well as Russia’s withdrawal from a nuclear security pact offer clear illustrations of this drift as do the planned extensive troop buildups and massive military exercises on NATO’s eastern flank. Meanwhile in Russia, where public opinion polls suggest the average person believes that a war with the West is inevitable, the government has launched a nationwide civil defence training exercise involving 200,000 emergency personnel and the co-operation of 40 million civilians to ensure that the country is prepared in the event of a nuclear, chemical and biological attack from the West.

Unlike during the Cold War, there are no large, vocal anti-nuclear campaign groups organising demonstrations and making public appeals. While there is a press, the American mainstream media has failed to put these issues squarely into the public domain. The coverage of dangerous Russo-American confrontations such as Ukraine and Syria which ultimately should bring the wider issue of nuclear strategy to the fore is edited, biased and highly compartmentalized. Among America’s political leadership there is silence and incoherence. This state of affairs has resulted in a misdirected discourse and a cruelly misinformed public.

It is a debate which America continues to bypass at its own peril.

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer and law lecturer who is based in London, England.

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One of the major email “leak” stories to emerge last week courtesy of the WSJ, was that the White House had intervened on at least one occasion to suppress the story surrounding Hillary’s “Secret Server” scandal, through backdoor channels with the State Department. This is what we noted as per the original piece:

Ten days after the story broke, White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri emailed State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki to ask, “between us on the shows…think we can get this done so he is not asked about email.” That apparently referred to Mr. Kerry, who appeared in an interview on CBS ’s “Face the Nation” three days later.

“Agree completely and working to crush on my end,” wrote back Ms. Psaki.

A day later, Ms. Psaki added, “Good to go on killing CBS idea.” She continued, “And we are going to hold on any other TV options just given the swirl of crap out there.” Mr. Kerry wasn’t asked on CBS about the email server, though it isn’t clear how Ms. Psaki could have guaranteed that.

Teased by Ms. Palmieri about her use of the phrase “swirl of crap,” Ms. Psaki wrote back: “Ha I mean—the challenging stories out there.”

While we are confident there were many other interactions between the White House and the State Department meant to boost the winning odds of the Clinton presidential campaign, this was sufficient evidence to confirm that on at least one occasion, the two entities had colluded.

Now, courtesy of the latest leak by Wikileaks, which earlier today released another 2,000 emails by Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta, we may have stumbled on evidence of collusion between the State Department and the Clinton Campaign itself. In an email from close Hillary’s confidant Heather Samuelson, also known as “the Clinton insider who screened Hillary’s emails“, we learn the intimate details leaked by Samuelson regarding a FOIA request submitted previously by Judicial Watch regarding Bill Clinton speeches, which shows that virtually entire process was being “translated” over to Hillary’s campaign.

By way of reminder, here is a quick Politico primer on who Heather Samuelson is, from September 2015:

Hillary Clinton chose a former campaign staffer who followed her to the State Department to make the initial determination about which of her emails should be preserved as federal records, according to closed-door testimony by Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, a GOP source told POLITICO.

Heather Samuelson, a lawyer and 2008 Clinton campaign staffer, worked under Mills and Clinton’s attorney David Kendall to sift through her ex-boss’ messages. She helped separate those that were purely personal, which were not turned over to the State Department, from those that were work-related.

THe Daily Caller adds the following:

A longtime Clinton campaign staffer who worked for as White House liaison at Clinton’s State Department and, later, as her lawyer.

As a lawyer, Samuelson led up the 2014 review of Clinton’s emails to determine which ones were work-related and which were personal.

Most importantly, as we reported previously, Samuelson received DOJ immunity in exchange for turning over the laptop she used during the review of Clinton’s emails in 2014. 

Finally, as the NRO wrote over the weekend, “The more information that drips out about the Clinton e-mail investigation, the more we learn that two key subjects, Hillary confidants Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, got extraordinarily special treatment — concessions that would never be given to subjects in a normal investigation. The primary reason for this is that the Obama Justice Department was never going to charge Hillary Clinton and her accomplices with crimes.

The guise under which Mills and Samuelson got the kid-glove treatment was their status as lawyers. Crucially, this status was the Justice Department’s pretext for resolving that potentially incriminating evidence against them, and against their “client,” Mrs. Clinton, had to be shielded from investigators pursuant to the attorney-client privilege.

Except neither Mills nor Samuelson was eligible to represent Clinton in matters related to the e-mails, including the FBI’s criminal investigation. Moreover, even if they had arguably been eligible, attorney-client communications in furtherance of criminal schemes are not privileged.

* * *

Mills and Samuelson were given immunity in exchange for surrendering their laptops not because searching lawyers’ computers is complicated, but because the Justice Department had no intention of prosecuting them. That is also why Justice severely limited the FBI’s search of the laptops, just as it severely limited the FBI’s questioning of Mills. Mills and Samuelson were given immunity because Justice did not want to commence a grand-jury investigation, which would have empowered investigators to compel production of the laptops by simply issuing subpoenas. Justice did not want to use the grand jury because doing so would have signaled that the case was headed toward indictment. The Obama Justice Department was never going to indict Hillary Clinton, and was determined not to damage her presidential campaign by taking steps suggestive of a possible indictment.

Today, we may have stumbled on the real reason why Samuelson got immunity.

In the following email dated March 17, 2015 disclosed today by Wikileaks, we find troubling details of the internal State Department process, which somehow made its way to Samlueson with details so nuanced it may only have come as a result of direct communication between the State Department (or DOS as Samuelson calls it) as Hillary’s young confidant, and which in turn she promptly conveyed to her team, regarding the FOIA request, in what appears to be a material breach of confidentiality. This is what she said :

DOS is soon releasing another round of documents and email traffic (not hers) in response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request on DOS’s process for reviewing WJC’s speaking engagements.

It’s 116 pages with approx. 50 sponsor/subsponsor requests. No objections by DOS in this batchbut some lengthy internal discussions among DOS officials that I highlighted below.

There is one request where speaking fee would have been paid by Turkish govt — WJC’s office declined this.   And one speaking engagement with fee from Canadian government, which he did do.

Let me know if you have any questions.

We have one question, Heather: is this legal, and are emailed exchanges such as this one why you received DOJ immunity in exchange for “turning over your laptop”?

From the original email, bolding ours.

* * *

From: Heather Samuelson [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 10:53 AM
To: Maura Pally; Craig Minassian; Philippe Reines; Nick Merrill; Jennifer Palmier I
Cc: Cheryl Mills; Tina Flournoy
Subject: JW FOIA | WJC Speeches

All —  DOS is soon releasing another round of documents and email traffic (not hers) in response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request on DOS’s process for reviewing WJC’s speaking engagements.   

It’s 116 pages with approx. 50 sponsor/subsponsor requests.   No objections by DOS in this batch, but some lengthy internal discussions among DOS officials that I highlighted below.  

There is one request where speaking fee would have been paid by Turkish govt — WJC’s office declined this.   And one speaking engagement with fee from Canadian government, which he did do.  

Let me know if you have any questions.

[Jen — happy to give you more background on prior releases since it’s your first go around]

Thx

1) UNIQFEST/Turkey:  There are 20 pages of internal, heavily redacted email traffic among DOS officials on request for WJC to speak at UNIQFEST in 2009 — a climate change conference sponsored by the Turkish government with Turkish officials as featured speakers.  According to the traffic, WJC would receive compensation from “government and non-government sources.”

— WJC’s office decided to decline the invitation.  There is no final determination in the materials by the Department.

—  Some of email traffic has subject line  “Clinton Foundation” and refers to this as request from “Clinton Foundation.”  I only flag as may be twisted to say DOS did not even understand what they were reviewing for, blurred lines between personal and BHCCF etc…

2)   Canadian National Exhibition:  Email traffic indicates WJC’s compensation for this speaking engagement would come from the Canadian government via their program to promote tourism, “Industry Canada.”  There is heavily redacted email traffic between DOS officials, including our Embassy in Canada, with several emails from WJC’s office asking for status update, at one point saying they only have “about more 30 minutes before we lose the offer.”

— Jim Thessin (Deputy Legal Advisor) responds: “I do not have a problem with this so long as President Clinton is not serving as a U.S. government at the time of his appearance and when he is paid an honorarium.   If not an employee, he may accept reimbursements of expenses and an honorarium for his speech/talk, but he may not receive any gifts from the Canadian government.”

— HRC’s financial disclosure form indicates that WJC received $175,000 from Canadian National Exhibition for this speech on 8/29/09.

3)  CISCO:  Request is submitted for WJC to speak at CISCO two months before HRC awards CISCO the State Department’s Award for Corporate Excellence, holding a ceremony featuring the CISCO’s CEO.    According to HRC’s financial disclosure form, WJC received $255,000 for this speech.

4)  Other notable requests:  

  1. Local foreign govt:  Terife Island Council (local government of largest island in Canary Islands)
  2. Private Equity Firms/Banks:   ICE Canyon LLC, VISTA Equity, Harris Private Bank, TD Bank Financial, Whitton Investment Groups (London)
  3. Foreign Based Organizations:  Etisalat (UAE based telecomm co); Egyptian Junior Business Association; Friends of Cystic Fibrosis (Irish non-profit); Essex Regional Conservation Authority (Essex, Ontario); Wilbros Entertainment (Philippines, event to raise funds for Philippines charity); Miaor Entertainment Ltd (division of Grupo ABC based in Brazil); London Business Forum; Aditya Birla Management (Indian multinational conglomerate)
  4. Universities:  Southern Methodist, Tufts, American Jewish University

5)  GWB:   Two requests are for events with Deloitte and Radio City Music Hall that are a joint appearance between WJC and George W. Bush.  WJC did the event with Deloitte, but not Radio City.

In light of the ongoing speculation that there may have been collusion between the DOJ and Bill Clinton (and thus Hillary), following the infamous “tarmac encounter”, where Bill and Loretta Lynch spoke for 40 minutes about “Bill’s gold game and grandchildren”, the discovery that there was collusion between the State Department and Hillary Clinton, who formerly headed it, seems like a potential conflict of interest to us.

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The West keeps all of its mercenary terrorists, including its “A -Team”— al Qaeda and ISIS – well equipped with sophisticated weaponry.

In 2014, for example, when Lebanese and Libyan terrorists captured the world-renowned Krak des Chevaliers, a UNESCO world heritage site, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) faced a daunting challenge, not only because the castle is located at about 700 meters above sea level, but also because the terrorists were armed with US-supplied Tow anti-tank missiles launchers, and Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers.

Not only does UN Resolution 2253  specifically prohibit arming terrorists (with good reason), but using the aforementioned terrorists as proxies in a dirty war against a sovereign country constitutes the most egregious of war crimes according to Nuremburg principles.  Consequently, whenever possible, Empire commits its crimes covertly.

 

Battle damage at the base of the Krak Des Chevaliers, Syria

A Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) document clearly reveals that, in the aftermath of the West’s destruction of that country, the Libyan armouries were looted, and the weapons were sent to Syria, in what intelligence agencies refer to as a “ratline”.

The report confirmed in October 2012 that,

“Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.

During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the ((Qaddafi)) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.”

The report also details the type of weapons delivered:

“The weapons shipped from Syria during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.  The numbers for each weapon were estimated to be: 500 Sniper rifles, 100 RPG launchers with 300 total rounds, and approximately 400 howitzers missiles [200 ea – 125mm and 200ea – 155 mm.]”

Professor Michel Chossudovsky demonstrates in “U.S. ‘Military Aid’ to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria”, however, that the aforementioned ratline is the tip of the iceberg.

Chossudovsky explains that since one shipment of light weapons destined for terrorists inside Syria weighs 990 tons, “one can reasonably conclude that the amounts of light weapons in the hands of  ”opposition” rebels inside Syria is substantial and exceedingly large.”

The “packing list” is listed below:

The criminal West also uses its so-called “moderates” as vectors for weapons.  In one instance, for example, the West delivered US anti-tank TOW missiles to the so-called “moderate” Harakat Hazm “rebels”, and within 48 hours the weapons were in the hands of al Qaeda/al Nursra Front.

Mainstream media might paint such transactions as “mistakes”, but the Western war criminals and their msm bullhorns always label their crimes as mistakes.  Or have we forgotten the invasions of Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and on and on?

All of these Western crimes advance and strengthen the reach of extremist Wahhabi terrorism and assault the very foundations of civilization.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) alone has lost about 100,000 soldiers thanks to the West, its terror proxies, and their sophisticated weapons.   It is Syria, not the Western governments and their allies, that represents civilization and the rule of law.

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The evidence for genetically modified organism (GMOs) safety for human consumption and its environmental risks remains one of the nation’s most contentious, controversial and debated subjects. Throughout the world, governments, national health ministries and their populations have been led to believe that there is no reason to critically object to GMOs. American mainstream media, which have now been fully absorbed into the agendas of large multinational corporate chemical and food sponsors, claim GMOs are completely harmless. We are sold a promise that they are urgently needed for feeding the world. Consequently, in the absence of critical journalism, aside from independent media, the spread of GMOs has become widespread.

Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, and Bayer dominate the global GMO market.

Corn is the US’ number one crop with eighty-nine percent being genetically modified. Ninety-three percent of American soybeans are GMO. GM sugar beets, certain squashes, canola, alfalfa, papaya (77% of Hawaii’s crop), and new apple strains are genetically engineered.

Many more GM vegetables and fruits are in the pipeline.

Only during the past 15 years have voices within the environmental and public health movements, and free-thinking scientists and researchers in molecular biology, genetics and agriculture turned vocal to publicly challenge GMO safety and their exaggerated promises. One especially unfounded promise, often promulgated by Monsanto and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the GMO revolution’s ability to feed the world. Yet as a senior economic analyst at the Environmental Working Group in Washington DC has reported, “this is simply a myth adopted and deployed by US agribusiness to distract the public from reality.”[1]

Every leading opponent and critic of GMOs is well known to the chemical industry and its army of public relation provocateurs and internet trolls. Many have been mercilessly attacked, libeled and slandered through a sophisticated network of PR hacks, industry special interest groups, educational and pseudo-scientific organizations and projects, and the mainstream media, publications and lobbying firms. In the wake of the agri-industry’s PR efforts to bolster erroneous favorable images of GMOs and chemical based agriculture, careers have been destroyed. For example, FOX journalists Jane Akre and her husband Steve Wilson were destroyed by Monsanto for providing scientific evidence about the dangers of genetically modified bovine growth hormone in milk.[2] Mainstream media willingly provides a red carpet for GMO advocates to promote the promises of genetic engineering but denies equal time to its scientific critics. So effective have been the chemical industry’s attacks that even peer reviewed research showing GMO risks has been retracted.

Perhaps the most important and damning case of retracted science is that of Eric Gilles Seralini’s studies. Seralini and his colleagues at the University of Caen in France reproduced Monsanto’s own safety trials for GMO maize. However, Seralini continued the study for the entire lifespan of the laboratory animals. Monsanto only published studies conducted over a three month period. Seralini discovered a direct correlation between GM maize consumption with kidney and liver diseases, hormonal disturbance and cancer. Later investigations revealed that a sustained effort by Monsanto lobbyists and the food industry influenced the study’s retraction from the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Subsequently, the study was republished by another journal and now remains on the scientific record. Recently, a French court uncovered the original author behind the fraud allegations against Seralini’s research, which led to the retraction. He was identified as Forbes Magazine journalist and former FDA official, Henry I Miller, a former tobacco lobbyist with a history of denying smoking’s association to cancer and heart disease.[3]

Again, on September 22, 2016, a criminal court in Paris found another pro-GMO advocate and former president of the Biomolecular Engineering Commission, which assesses GMO safety in France, guilty of forgery in order to defame and even frame Prof. Seralini of criminal activity.[4]

The entire pseudo-scientism behind corporate sponsored GMO and pesticide trials to twist data results to support Big Ag’s version of safety is an illusion. Even when their own research is proven faulty and corrupt, no explanations are given. Intellectual honesty, courage and integrity are completely absent from not only the large chemical and food companies but from all their supporters in the universities, academies, the scientific blogosphere, and public relations firms and quasi think tanks relied upon for lobbying efforts on behalf of Big Ag.

Today the lesson is clear that money, power and influence sustain the lies and deceit of private industry. Take on any powerful interest and Big Ag will come after you.

Big Ag has turned the clock back to the era of the tobacco industry’s legacy. Decades ago, regardless of how many lawsuits were filed showing tobacco’s causal relationship to cancer, emphysema, heart disease and nicotine addiction, none were won. Years later, and only with the emergence of an executive within the tobacco industry turned whistleblower, Jeffrey Wigand, did the government learn that the heads of the tobacco corporations had lied before Congress. Even the FDA possessed proprietary information from the tobacco industry itself proving smoking’s health risks yet refused to educate the public.

During the past six decades, corporations and their hired lobbyists and PR firms have launched multi-million dollar public campaigns, largely organized and funded in the shadows, to attack critics and activist opponents of DDT, dioxin, saccharine, aspartame, the industrial meat industry, fluoride, psychiatric drugs, hydro-fracking, sugar, vaccines, alcohol, nuclear power, and other toxic substances. Regardless of the health concerns and risks of these chemicals and activities, offensive corporate behavior designed to ridicule, demonize and systematically marginalize opponents is similar and taken from the same playbook. Yet in every case it has been the independent scientific research relied upon by the critics that have been proven correct. Over the decades corporate funded science, the media and the private industries themselves have been proven wrong consistently. The agri-industry’s science is faith based and full of contradictions and unsound claims. Unfortunately government regulators are slow to act on the facts. Dangerous products remain for public consumption for many years before resolute action is taken to ban them. In the meantime, millions of people have been directly harmed or killed by pervasive scientific fraud. Worse, no one in private industry who is caught for perpetuating scientific and medical deception and fraud is held accountable. Corporations settle out of court, pay fines that are a fraction of their revenues, and remain in favor with Wall Street and investors. And those at the federal level are protected and concealed from prosecution altogether.

The history of bad science propagated by private firms has always shown to be profit over health. Inevitably it is self-educated citizens and the victims of corporate greed and profit, not the federal government, who unveil the lies. It wasn’t the federal agencies who raised alarm over DDT’s dangers but a marine biologist, Rachel Carson, acting upon her own convictions, who uncovered the plot in her seminal book Silent Spring. Over the years, many advocates for public safety—Ralph Nader, Jim Turner, Sydney Wolf, Michael Jacobson, Ronnie Cummins, Andrew Wakefield and many others—have battled the righteous struggle to protect consumers against dangerous and unsafe drugs, chemicals and products that the federal government more often than not defends and protects on behalf of corporate interests.

In all such cases, proponents of consumer safety and health have had to struggle against an army of lobbyists, consultants, think tanks, public relations firms and a complicit media with the wealth and influence to convince people that their fears are unfounded and they should wholeheartedly embrace toxic substances. Not unlike the medical establishment, the industrial food industry has created a vast network of allies in all walks of life and within government to promote its cause. Realizing the sheer depth and breadth of this network and the endless money pumped into its public relations machine to keep the myths of GMOs alive and front and center is not only deeply disturbing but also rather impressive. It is a leviathan of enormous scale and influence. And there is little wonder that even with the most damning scientific evidence to discredit anything of long-term value regarding GMOs, virtually nothing is done at the federal level to protect the public.

After reviewing hundreds of research studies and articles, dozens of interviews, and numerous conversations, we are convinced that science overwhelming supports a cautionary position about the safety and promises of GMOs. This research is all in the public domain which begs the questions, why is the federal government reluctant to take action? And why is the chemical agricultural and Big Food industry in complete denial to accept the risks of its products, many which are known carcinogens?

For example, last year, we were made aware of a mother lode of formerly sealed Monsanto documents the EPA was forced to release through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request only after considerable political pressure was applied. The documents, over 10,000 pages worth, provide clear and unequivocal proof that Monsanto has known for many years the serious carcinogenic risks and environmental dangers associated with glyphosate (Roundup) before any GMO seed ever reached the market. Today, approximately 80% of all products with corn and soy on grocery shelves are laced with glyphosate. Monsanto, similar to the tobacco industry, concealed and covered up the health risks about their flagship product for several decades. And even more egregious, the federal EPA has known this for years and still sat on the damning documents.

Our thorough summary about the release of these Monsanto documents was published in The Ecologist. However mainstream media has completely ignored and denied the public urgency in this treasure trove of data that damns practically everything positive Monsanto and the USDA has ever stated about glyphosate’s safety for animal and human consumption and the environment.[5]

Whatever scientific integrity these people may have once held, it has been compromised in a Faustian deal with private financial interests. GMO science has become a mad science, a form of pathology that hides behind the illusion of being objective.

Instead, independent researchers, their citizen supporters and anti-GMO activists are venomously attacked by every means available. Conveniently anonymous Wikipedia editors are clearly advocates of the health and food industries as any alternative doctor or health practitioner can attest when she or he attempts to change false information on their profiles. And now many otherwise independent liberal, independent media sources, such as Mother Jones and Alternet, are increasingly following suit. It pays to play the game with the powers that have money.

So who are these people behind the efforts to suppress opposition? Who are the real trolls doing agribusiness’ dirty work? When we pull back the curtain, the wizards behind the chemical food industry who control the message through the media through a well-oiled public relations network are exposed.

The Genetic Literacy Project and University of California at Davis

The chemical agricultural industry relies upon American universities in many ways. Collaborations between corporations, such as Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont, and university agricultural departments are common place and this has been the increasing trend in the academic community since the 1980s and the emergence of biotechnology. What is more recent has been a new trend whereby universities across the U.S. participate directly or indirectly in the marketing promotion of GMOs. In effect, some universities now act as private industry’s lobbyists. And this becomes a greater scandal when the university is a public institution receiving public funding. Such is the case of the University of California at Davis and its prestigious agriculture department.

To date, US Right to Know has filed seventeen public records requests, per the California Public Records Act, to receive information about the funding of questionable activities that go beyond serving public education and only benefit private interests such as Monsanto.[6]

Among these lobbying groups operating on the UC campus is the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP).[7] Over the years GLP has gained recognition as a credible and reliable source of information about GMOs. It is one of the most frequently quoted sources of information by pro-GMO advocates and journalists. However in our opinion, GLP is perhaps one of the most spurious, financially compromised and scientifically illiterate organizations, founded and funded for the sole purpose of disseminating false pro-GMO propaganda that distorts peer reviewed literature in order to prop up public support for GMOs and genetic engineering in general.[8]

The Project has become the GMO industry’s clearing house for public relations to spin science into advertising, propaganda and character assassination of GM opponents. It is also the primary site now sourcing the review of 1,700-plus studies favoring GMO safety. This review of over 1,700 studies, also known as the Nicolia Review, is the most cited source making the broadest claims for GMO safety. Yet over the years, many independent, industry free and unbiased researchers have reviewed the Nicolia Review and their conclusions are far from what private industry wants us to believe. Many of these studies are tangential at best and barely take notice of anything related to crop genetic engineering or GMOs. Many are also completely irrelevant from a value-added perspective because they have nothing to do with GMO safety whatsoever. Furthermore, other studies in this collection conclude the exact opposite and prove GMOs environmental and animal and human health risks. When Nicolia published his review, heintentionally omitted and ignored scientifically sound research that directly investigated GMO safety as a prime target that found convincing evidence supporting GMOs risks. For example, one peer-reviewed publication by over 300 independent scientists declared that there is no scientific consensus that GM crops and food are safe. Curiously, there is no mention of this study in the Nicolia Review.[9]

The Genetic Literacy Project is not a scientific project in any proper sense of the term. Its founder and head Jon Entine has no formal academic scientific background. Nor has he ever worked in an academic or corporate research driven environment before crawling up the top of the ladder to become one of the GMO industry’s leading PR gurus and propagandists. GLP will not release its exact funding sources but Entine repeatedly claims that 97% of its funding derives from non-partisan, independent foundations.[10]

This might sound impressive, but lobbying and the channeling of funds has changed dramatically during the past decade. A new and more popular generation of lobbying practices and ways to avoid K Street regulations, has reshaped the means by which public relations, propaganda, and economic and political pressures are enacted. This new model of lobbying has become an ever-spreading fungus of think tanks, foundations, associations, and nonprofit entities, often with impressive names, that serve no other purpose aside from steering funds between various entities as lobbying payoffs. For an excellent understanding about how this new form of shadow lobbying network operates, I would recommend George Mason University Professor Janine Wedel’s publication Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt Our Finances, Freedom and Security.

It is no secret that Monsanto and Big Ag, and more recently the USDA, have significant undue influence over all of UC-Davis agricultural department and divisions. The bogus economic studies trumped up by the Big Ag cartel to defeat California’s GMO labeling bill Prop 37 were performed at this university. Gary Ruskin who has been filing FOIA requests has publicly expressed deep concerns that UC Davis has been acting as a financial conduit for private corporations and interests to develop and launch PR attacks against academics, professors, activists and other institutions who oppose those same corporate interests. Agro-ecologist Dr. Don Lotter, who was interviewed for our documentary Seeds of Death in 2011, was an employed scientist at UC-Davis’ agriculture school. In 2009, Dr Lotter published a paper in the peer-reviewed Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food that presented a “damning case against genetically modified foods, saying the technology is based on obsolete science, that biotechnology companies such as Monsanto have too much influence on government regulators and “public” universities, and that university scientists are ignoring the health and environmental risks of GM crops.” Lotter was subsequently forced out of the University for his truth telling.[11]

Like many plant scientists who have awakened to the serious risks GMO crops pose to the future food security of the nation and planet, Lotter advocates for agro-ecological methods in farming recommended by the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). Some 60 governments signed IAASTD’s final report in April 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The IAASTD report, the first of its kind ever produced, calls for a fundamental change in farming practices, in order to address soaring food prices, hunger, social inequities, and environmental disasters. It acknowledges that GM crops are highly controversial. IAASTD director, Robert Watson, chief scientist at the UK food and farming department DEFRA, said much more research was needed to prove whether GM crops offer any benefits and do not harm human health and the environment. Biotech companies Monsanto, Syngenta, and BASF withdrew from IAASTD because it did not back GMOs as a solution to reduce poverty and hunger. The comprehensive report was produced by over 400 scientists from around the world over a 3-year period. The study was sponsored by a number of major international organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, and UNESCO.Not surprisingly and conspicuously, the United States was one of only three nations present at the IAASTD conference that refused to sign the accord.[12]

Jon Entine

Jon Entine is a perfect choice to head up the GLP’s well-funded propaganda operations that specializes in distributing disinformation. He is a former TV news writer and producer for ABC and NBC. Currently this non-scientist is also senior fellow at University of California at Davis’ Institute for Food and Agriculture Literacy (IFAL). IFAL is another entity that has remained secretive and non-transparent, refusing to reveal its funding sources. Freedom of Information Act requests were filed to force the University to reveal its sources. But these FOIA requests continue to be thwarted.[13]

Entine is a shameless hack for mainstream big industry as is demonstrated by his record of being paid to protect dangerous and controversial products. An investigative report in the Boston Globe revealed that Monsanto executives recruited prestigious professors to write favorable papers about their products, namely GMOs and chemical pesticides.[14] Entine publicly admitted to Bloomberg that he has helped edit their work in the past. Yet, Entine doesn’t limit himself to GMOs. He has viciously attacked a prestigious Harvard scientist and climate change expert, Naomi Orestes, who opposes nuclear power. He supports, without reservation, the use of neonicitinoid pesticides that have been repeatedly shown to contribute to honeybee colony collapse. In fact, Entine has written that neonics benefit bees in his attack on European nations that have formally banned neonics. He denies that phthalates, an endocrine hormone disrupter banned in Europe, are health hazards. He has supported another endocrine disruptor BPA, also partially banned in Europe. Entine defends hydraulic fracking and has consistently attacked Cornell University scientists who are perhaps the world’s experts in hydro-fracking’s risks and its most harsh critics. This list goes on and on.[15]

A Case Example of Public Deception about GMOs

In June 2016, 108 Nobel laureates signed a letter against Greenpeace and the international organization’s opposition to genetically engineered Golden Rice. This rice, which has yet to be brought to market, was formulated in the belief that it would significantly reduce illnesses associated with Vitamin A deficiency which is primarily a problem for the poorest people on the planet, primarily Africa and Southeast Asia. There has been considerable criticism s of the letter. On the one hand, the argument doesn’t follow that every one of these laureates supports all GMOs in general. Nevertheless, the Nobel letter has become the gold standard of agribusiness’ industry’s PR machine which propagandized the letter as it fed the letter to the mainstream media. Consequently, the news blared that the laureates are in agreement that all GMOs are safe. But nothing could be further from the truth.[16]

Looking at this more deeply, the Nobel laureates’ letter has an interesting gensis. Its originator was Sir Richard Roberts, who received the Nobel Prize for discovering genetic sequences known as introns. Sir Roberts currently serves as Chief Science Officer at New England Biolabs which is involved in GMO research. Roberts also happens to have earned a somewhat controversial reputation as a leading promulgator of GMOs in India and has been accused of unfounded exaggeration of food shortage threats to the lives of millions of people unless there is wholesale, uncritical adoption of GMOs.[17] At this moment, lawsuits remain pending against Monsanto for violating India’s regulations and the national government is in session to possibly ban Monsanto’s GMO cotton. GMOs have been a nightmare for the Indian subcontinent; Monsanto knows this and is already making efforts to step further away from India as a market for its genetically engineered seeds. Forbes magazine recently profiled Sir Robert’s most recent mission to promulgate GMOs to the world religious leaders including Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama.[18]

For many academics possessing actual experience in agricultural sciences and developmental conditions in third world nations, the laureates’ letter was an outrage. According to professor Devon Pena at the University of Washington, and an expert in indigenous agriculture, the laureates’ letter is “shameful.” He noted that the signatories were “mostly white men of privilege with little background in risk science, few with a background in toxicology studies, and certainly none with knowledge of the indigenous agro-ecological alternatives. All of you should be stripped of your Nobels.” In fact one “signatory”, Alfred Gilman, was already dead. And none of the Nobel signatories have any background in agriculture, which led a professor of physical sciences and statistics at UC-Berkeley to write “Science is supposed to be ‘show me’, not ‘trust me’… Nobel Prize or not.”[19]

So, how did Sir Roberts, gather 107 signatures from Nobel laureates? The press conference that first announced this PR achievement was directly connected to Monsanto’s former PR man, Jay Byrne, now head of the biotech industry PR firm v-Fluence. In addition, the laureates’ letter was originally housed at the website, supportprecisionagriculture.org. Curiously its sister website, supportprecisionagriculture.com finds its home with the Genetic Literacy Project. Jon Entine is a close associate of Byrne, having been the editor of Byrne’s book “Let Them Eat Precaution,” published by the pro-business and conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.[20]

And there is one further caveat to the Nobel laureate letter. According to the International Rice Research Institute, Golden Rice is not ready for release. It has yet to be tested for toxicity and has yet to prove efficacy in combating health conditions related to vitamin A deficiency.[21] This was the primary reason behind Greenpeace’s opposition to its release on the market. Greenpeace adopted a precautionary stance. Nevertheless the GMO industry with the assistance of the GLP turned this into an opportunity for a publicity misinformation stunt to silence one of GMOs largest critics.

American Council on Science and Health

The Genetic Literacy Project is a key collaborator with another food industry front organization, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). But ACSH has very little do with actual science of health. It has been described by the independent corporate financial watchdog organization Sourcewatch as a thinly veiled corporate front that holds “a generally apologetic stance regarding virtually every other health and environmental hazard produced by modern industry, accepting corporate funding from Coca-Cola, Syngenta, Proctor Gamble, Kellogg, General Mills, Pepsico, and the American Beverage Association, among others.”[22] ACSH is also in favor of toxic pesticides, the use of biphenol A in products and hydrofracking. It is also closely aligned with pseudo-medical front organizations that criticize alternative and natural health modalities. Among ACSH’s board of scientific advisors is controversial Quackbuster founder, Steven Barrett.

The extremist Koch Brother’s American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has also been associated with the ACSH. This information was leaked to Mother Jones and subsequently, ACSH’s executive director Dr. Gilbert Ross did not deny the veracity of the leaked information. Remarkably, Ross was convicted of scamming Medicaid for $8 million in 2005, had his medical license revoked, and served half of a 46 month prison. He now has his license back and is heading one of the more powerful food lobbying organizations in the nation.[23]

Ketchum and GMO Answers

Ketchum is the principle public relations firm for Monsanto, Dow Chemical and mega grocery manufacturers such as Kraft. The GMO and food industries are among Ketchum’s special focus areas. Ketchum is owned by the corporate giant Omnicom and has a checkered history that includes unsavory clients and engaging in questionable legal activities. It spearheaded the public relations efforts to improve the image of Honduras following the Obama administration’s backed coup in 2009. A Mother Jones investigative report in 2010 uncovered Ketchum’s espionage activities targeted against Greenpeace on behalf of Dow Chemical.

In 2013, Ketchum launched GMO Answers, an interactive, personalized website to convince the public to accept GM foods and produce. According to Gary Ruskin’s investigations at US Right to Know, GMO Answers claims the public’s questions and concerns about GMOs are answered by qualified scientists and professors. However it was uncovered that much of the pro-GMO materials is ghostwritten by Ketchum employees or independent contractors.

In an interview with US Right to Know founder, Gary Ruskin, Ketchum was identified as recruiting an army of journalists, trolls and private industry compromised scientists and academics to defend GMOs, pesticides and processed foods containing GMO ingredients.[25]

Cornell Alliance for Science

Many pro-GMO front organizations frame themselves as scientific organizations to seduce people into believing they are engaged in an actual scientific inquiry. In fact, these groups are nothing more than well-funded propaganda machines devoted to the distribution of misinformation and faux research in order to promote the GMO agriculture agenda. Such organizations are now commonplace in the corporate scientific community and medical establishment.

One such GMO public relations front is the Alliance for Science at Cornell University (AFS). As reported by GM Watch, AFS does not conduct any agricultural research, yet its tentacles reach far and wide largely to attack GMO opponents. Similar to the Genetic Literacy Project at University of California at Davis agriculture department, the AFS makes the unfounded claim to represent “balanced” research about genetic engineered products. One of its missions is to influence the next generation of agricultural scientists to embrace GMO science. For AFS, as for Bill Gates, GMOS are the only food solution for Africa in the future. Recently, organic farmers in New York mobilized to pressure the Trustees of Cornell University to evict AFS’ presence and influence over the school’s prestigious College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.[26]

Several incidents of protest against anti-GMO organizations and activists now reveal that AFS is nothing more than a propaganda campaign to attack and discredit opposition. Two of its most notable targets have been the non-profit organization US Right to Know in Oakland CA and the public appearances by the international organic food activist Vandana Shiva. US Right to Know is devoted to exposing what the food industry and Big Agriculture corporations such as Monsanto don’t want the public to know. AFS waslaunched in 2014 after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted AFS $5.6 million in start-up money.[27]

Conclusions

GMO tobacco science aside, what is most disturbing is that the public has become the victim of one of the greatest deceptions that will have untold detrimental consequences upon future generations. The public has blindly trusted the statements of our government agencies — particularly the FDA and USDA — that have been headed by former Monsanto personnel since the Clinton White House. Our legislators and mainstream media profit from the industrial food firms and their commercial associations, that GMOs are healthy, pose no environmental risks and are saving the planet by reducing hunger. Nothing can be further from the truth as we witness more and more nations, particularly in the developing world, rejecting the GMO agricultural paradigm.

Whenever the truth is told, no matter the amount of prevailing documentation and expert witness presented, there is enormous push back by agriculture industry spin doctors, hired professional PR firms, and internet trolls paid to promulgate lies, misinformation and character assassination of all anti-GMO advocates. There is no honor, no responsibility to accept reliable and trustworthy data or any science contrary to agribusiness interests. These corporations make every effort to reduce the urgency of their products’ health risks in order to protect the guilty.

So far, the war of facts about GMO safety has had little impact on altering or shifting national policy. This is because of the overarching economic interests that must be protected by perpetuating scientific lies by any means possible. The success of Big Agriculture’s public relations strategy and operations has been fear, intimidation, and slander. It has never been a campaign based upon scientific facts, but only scientific deception, spin and outright falsehoods. Unfortunately, mainstream media continually laps up this misinformation while ignoring any contrary independent research.

There must be a public debate, on a nationally recognized level, of independent GMO research, not compromised by commercial or ideological interests, to commence and lay to rest GMO safety issues once and for all. This is the only way that the truth will finally come out and the propaganda control by GMO agribusiness will be broken.

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Seeds of Death about GMOs and Poverty Inc. More at the Progressive Radio Network

Notes

[1] “Despite ‘Cloak of Moral Necessity,’ Report Shows Big Ag Can’t Feed the World” http://commondreams.org/news/2016/10/05/despite-cloak-moral-necessity-report-shows-big-ag-cant-feed-world
[2] “The BGH Scandals” PR Watch. Volume 7, No. 4, 2000. https://www.organicconsumers.org/old_articles/rbgh/akrepart1.php
[3] http://www.gmoseralini.org/seralinis-team-wins-defamation-and-forgery-court-cases-on-gmo-and-pesticide-research/
[4] “Seralini wins again in court against his attackers” GM Watch, Sepetmber 26, 2016. http://gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/17236
[5] Gale R, Null G. “Monsanto Knew All Along. Secret Studies Reveal the Truth of Roundup Toxicity,” The Ecologist. September 18, 2015. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2985458/monsanto_knew_all_along_secret_studies_reveal_the_truth_of_roundup_toxicity.html

[6] https://usrtk.org/news-releases/uc-davis-sued-for-failing-to-release-public-records-on-gmos-and-pesticides/
[7] https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org
[8] Katherine Paul, “How Monsanto solicited academics to bolster their pro-GMO propaganda using taxpayer dollars,” Alternet. October 15, 2015. http://www.alternet.org/food/monsanto-scandal-biotech-giant-solicited-academics-fight-their-pro-gmo-war
[9] Antoniou M, Fagan M, Robinson C. “GMO Myths and Truths” 2015 second edition. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/download/
[10] Heyes JD. “Who’s funding Jon Entine’s Genetic Literacy Project’s pro-GMO propaganda?” Natural News, April 6, 2016. http://www.naturalnews.com/053565_Jon_Entine_character_assassin_funding_sources.html
[11] see documentary film Seeds of Death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6OxbpLwEj
[12] “Scientist jeopardizes career by publishing paper criticizing GM foods”. The Organic and Non-GMO Report, 2009. http://www.non-gmoreport.com/articles/nov09/scientists_criticizing_gm_foods.php
[13] http://www.truthwiki.org/Jon_Entine/#exactline
[14] Laura Krantz. “Harvard Professor failed to disclose connection.” Boston Globe. October 1, 2015. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/10/01/harvard-professor-failed-disclose-monsanto-connection-paper-touting-gmos/lLJipJQmI5WKS6RAgQbnrN/story.html

[15] US Right to Know. http://usrtk.org/hall-of-shame/jon-entine-the-chemical-industrys-master-messenger/
[16] http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/17077-pro-gmo-campaign-exploits-nobel-laureates-to-attack-greenpeace-and-fool-the-people

[17] Ibid.
[18] “Nobel laureate Sir Richard Roberts to ask religious and government leaders to support GMOs” Forbes. September 21, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kavinsenapathy/2016/09/21/nobel-laureate-sir-richard-roberts-to-ask-religious-and-government-leaders-to-support-gmos/#695a848e5cc8
[19] http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/17077-pro-gmo-campaign-exploits-nobel-laureates-to-attack-greenpeace-and-fool-the-people
[20] Ibid.
[21] “Who is to blame for the failure of GMO golden rice?” Independent Science News. August 10, 2016. https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/millions-spent-who-is-to-blame-failure-gmo-golden-rice/
[22] http://www.truthwiki.org/jon_entine/
[23] Bill Hogan. “Paging Dr. Ross,” Mother Jones. November 2005. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/11/paging-dr-ross
[24] James Ridgeway. “Black Ops, Green Groups” Mother Jones. April 11, 2008. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2008/04/exclusive-cops-and-former-secret-service-agents-ran-black-ops-green-groups?
[25] Interview with Gary Ruskin. Progressive Radio Network. September 27, 2016. http://prn.fm/progressive-commentary-hour-09-27-16/
[26] Ibid.
[27] “Gates Foundation Backed Pro-GMO Cornell Alliance for Science on the Attack,” Corporate Crime Reporter. March 5, 2015. http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/gates-foundation-backed-pro-gmo-cornell-alliance-science-attack/

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The Ten Most Lethal CIA Interventions in Latin America

October 11th, 2016 by Dr. Gary G. Kohls

Note: In its 200 year history, the USA has intervened in, invaded or militarily occupied the following Western Hemisphere nations:

Canada, Confederate States of America, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Surinam, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Grenada.

While the dates most associated with the Central Intelligence Agency are the 1953 coup against Iran’s Mohammed Mossadeq and the following year against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, the world’s most notorious–and possibly ignoble–spy agency actually was chartered on this day, 18 September, in 1947.

Since then, the CIA has played a role in hundreds of assassinations, military coups, and rebellions around the globe, from Argentina to Zaire.

Despite it’s championing of freedom, the CIA’s true objective has always been imperialist in nature. Whether oil in Iran or bananas in Guatemala, the U.S. has a material interest in every country in whose affairs it has meddled.

In order to meet its goals, the CIA recruits influential, intellectual and charismatic personalities. The agency also resorts to threats, kidnappings, torture, enforced disappearances and assassinations. The organization incites violence, uprisings and military rebellion, and causes economic chaos and misery to the people through scarcity of basic foods, etc..

The CIA has been exposed on a number of occasions through documented evidence, leaks of information and whistleblowing by active and former agents.

Che Guevera, the revolutionary face of resistance against U.S. homicidal interventions. Two years after leading a rebellion against Washington’s intervention in Bolivia, Che was murdered.

1. 1954 – Guatemala

In 1944, the violent U.S.-backed dictatorship of Jorge Ubico was overthrown by a popular uprising. The people of Guatemala were sick and tired of the brutal injustices of his regime, although in reality Ubico was merely a puppet of The United Fruit Company, which obeyed Washington’s orders. They basically enslaved the population. They stripped campesinos and Indigenous people of their lands and forced them to work their own parcels and paid them bread crumbs. Those who dared to disobey were brutally punished by a police force working for the U.S. fruit company.

The victory of the uprising brought peace to the country but it only took 10 years for U S President Dwight Eisenhower (and two of Ike’s cabinet members [who were also United Fruit Company insiders] Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Chief Allen Dulles) to implement a plan to overthrow the government.

In 1954, (US President Dwight Eisenhower’s) CIA launched the so-called Operation PBSuccess. The country’s capital, Guatemala City, was bombed by U.S. warplanes. The young Ernesto “Che” Guevara was there and witnessed the ordeal first hand. Hundreds of campesino leaders were executed and many campesino and Mayan Indigenous communities were completely wiped out. The brutal CIA intervention wasn’t complete until 200,000 had been killed. U.S. companies were again enjoying huge profits in the Central American country and Washington was happy.

U.S.-backed and financed military tyrants of Guatemala 1954

2. 1959 – Haiti

Haiti is equally strategic to the United States as are the Dominican Republic and Cuba. So, Washington doesn’t hesitate when their brutal control appears to wane in the Caribbean. Under no circumstance, would the U.S. allow governments in the region to lean to the left, and if they dare to, (US President Dwight Eisenhower’) CIA steps in to push them back to the right. Of course, Cuba is a rare example of resilience to U.S. efforts to achieve hegemony in the area. Since 1959, the Cuban revolution of Fidel Castro has repealed the relentless U.S. attacks.

But in Haiti, the story is different. In 1959 as well, popular discontent rose against the brutal puppet of the U.S., Francois Duvalier. The CIA stepped in and stopped it immediately. With the help of the intelligence agency, Duvalier wasted no time and created an army to violently repress all those who rose up against him. He and his heir to the regime, Jean Claude Duvalier, ordered massacres that were so horrendous they defy words. Over 100,000 people were murdered. And in 1986, when a new but uncontrollable rebellion took over, a U.S. Air Force plane rescued Jean Claude and took him to France so he could live in peaceful luxury.

U.S. puppet Francois “Papa Doc”  Duvalier—a CIA murderer

3. 1964 – Brazil

The year of 1964 was one of incredible transformation in Brazil. Democratically-elected President Joao Goulart implemented his “Plan of Basic Reforms.” Even though the U.S. had exerted much of its power through ensuring people weren’t lifted from ignorance and illiteracy, Brazil implemented real changes that made Washington very uncomfortable. Firstly, a tax reform was put in place that would hugely carve into the profits of the multinational corporations of the United States and its allies. Washington was also very unhappy with a reform by which land would be given back to their legitimate owners and would redistribute other lands to poor people.

It was now time to send in (US President Lyndon Johnson’s) CIA to take action against the government of Goulart, which they did in 1964. They put in power a brutal dictatorship that lasted 19 years. During this regime, thousands were tortured and hundreds executed. The CIA also made sure all those leaders who had leftist tendencies were eliminated, particularly Marxists.

4. 1969 – Uruguay

During the sixties, revolutionary movements spread through Latin America. Uruguay was drowned in crises. United States saw influential socialist leaders emerge in this South American nation. For example, the urban revolutionary guerrilla known as the Tupamaros. Jose “Pepe” Mujica was part of it, and so was his wife Lucia Topolansky. Washington became obsessed with eliminating them, fearing the influence and power they were achieving.

Nelson Rockefeller went to Uruguay to observe first-hand how they were, generating a growing anti-Yankee sentiment. He returned to Washington to alert authorities that something needed to be done urgently.

Of course, (US President Richard Nixon’s) CIA responded immediately. They sent their special agent Dan Mitrione. He trained security forces in the art of torture and other highly macabre practices that are indescribable in nature. And then the CIA put in power Juan Maria Bordaberry and his military dictatorship. He ruled under direct order from Washington the next 12 years, during which he killed hundreds of people and tortured tens of thousands more. Repression was so brutal and Uruguayans were so traumatized and fearful they no longer carried out their traditional dances, which symbolize happiness and victory.

5. 1971 – Bolivia

The vast Latin American natural resources are the envy of the greedy and powerful politicians of the United States, who resort to any means to control them for their own benefit, and never for the people and countries they brutally exploit. During decades, U.S. multinational corporations enslaved people in vast regions of Chile, Bolivia and Peru. When those living under slavery conditions dared to rebel against their oppressors, they were annihilated in bulk. Che Guevara felt compelled to go to Bolivia and help the people rise in revolution.

This was 1967. By then, U.S. mining companies had enslaved entire communities, including children, who they banned from school. Two years later, Che Guevara was murdered by (US President Richard Nixon’s) CIA. Once out of their way, CIA officials established a military regime.

However, the people again turned on Washington. General Juan Jose Torres took power and implemented reforms to benefit workers and those living in poverty. Hope returned to Bolivia and its people, but the CIA would not allow this to continue. The agency recruited General Hugo Banzer. He led the coup against Torres and in 1971, he kicked off his violent dictatorship. He ordered the torture of a number of opposition leaders and the execution of hundreds of influential political leaders. He sent about 8,000 other leaders to jail. Washington was happy.

6. 1973 – Chile

Chilean President Salvador Allende was just another of the many victims of the many coups on democracy carried out by the United States (Note the date: 9/11/73)

Chile was another country brutally exploited by U.S. corporations.Washington (US President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger) made sure the people lived in utter misery. The CIA used different tactics but the results were the same. The agency led a smear campaign against the government of Chile, as it is currently doing in Venezuela. They used national and international media to demonize President Salvador Allende. They made sure people who had once been loyal to him because of his benevolent way of governing turned on him.

How you ask? The same way they’re doing it in Venezuela. By causing scarcity through extortion, through torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearances and by assassinating all those who refused to bow to them. Washington was irritated beyond control after Allende nationalized natural resources. They were also annoyed because Allende built houses for those who couldn’t afford homes. He made sure his people had access to education. When Allende’s popularity was successfully undermined, the next step was to plan a coup against him. It would now be easy. And on September. 11, 1973, Gen. Augusto Pinochet led the military all the way to the presidential palace with the backing of the CIA, who provided him with all the necessary weapons and armored vehicles.

War planes dropped bombs on the palace. Before he died, Allende told his people: “I will not give up! Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for the loyalty of the people with my life. And I tell you with certainty that that which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever. They are strong and they may be able to dominate us, but the social processes cannot be halted nor with crime nor by force.”

Pinochet ruled for 17 years. He jailed 80,000 people, tortured 30,000 and murdered 3,200.

7. 1976 – Argentina

The Argentine people endured arguably the bloodiest dictatorship of South America. It was so terrible that reading about it can be traumatic. Concentration camps, torture centers, massacres, massive rape of women and children, the beating of pregnant women, and the execution of boys and girls. In total, 30,000 people were executed. Behind it all: the CIA.

In 1973, Argentina was going through a political crisis so grave that President Juan Peron collapsed and ultimately died of a heart attack in 1974. His wife, Isabel Martínez de Perón, took power only to confront conflicts everywhere, even within her own Peronist party.

The CIA waited like a cat hunting its prey until 1976, when the situation they themselves provoked was so bad their intervention would be a walk in the park. Of course, as usual, a key recruitment was in order. The right-wing military dictator-to-be was Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla. The next step – a coup d’etat in yet another Latin American nation, and again another dictatorship at the service of the United States.

This time, (US President Richard Nixon’s) nefarious Henry Kissinger would be in charge of supervising the brutal regime. The rest is history: genocide, massive human rights violations, enforced disappearances, child theft, among other heinous crimes. All this, with the approval of the hypocritical and shameless owners of power in Washington.

8. 1980 – El Salvador

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero broke with Catholic tradition by caring for the poor. He paid for it with his life.

The people of this Central American country suffered no less than Argentina under the U.S. intervention that was carried out by you know who: the CIA. Washington had already backed a brutal dictatorship that lasted 50 years from 1931 to 1981. Campesinos and Indigenous were smashed without mercy. More than 40,000 were massacred.

Things were so bad a rare incident occurred. The Catholic church tried to intervene in favor of the poor and oppressed. At this point in time, El Salvador was controlled by 13 mafia-style families who had expropriated about half of the national territory. The 13 families were closely linked to Washington. And (US President Jimmy Carter’s and later US President Ronald Reagan’s) CIA, just in case, made sure the military was very well trained in everything horrific.

They were provided with all the right lethal equipment. And when the CIA found out that Jesuits were helping out the masses, they made sure they were killed. They also asked Pope John Paul II to speak to Archbishop Óscar Romero to try to persuade him to desist. Romero refused to comply and so they murdered him when he was officiating mass in 1980. When the U.S. intervention was over, 75,000 people were reported murdered, but the U.S. was at peace.

9. 1989 – Panama

CIA agent and Washington-backed drug trafficker Manuel Noriega enraged the U.S. when he refused to obey their orders, prompting an invasion that left 3,500 innocent civilians dead.

Another unprecedented incident occurs in this Central American country. A (US President George H. W. Bush’s) CIA agent rises to power as a dictator in the form of Manuel “Pineapple Face” Noriega. Washington’s interest here, among others, is the inter-oceanic canal.

When President Omar Torrijos tried to take over control of the Panama Canal, the CIA planted a bomb on his plane and that was the end of that.

In 1983, Noriega took power. He was a drug trafficker for the CIA. He had been for some 30 years. That was fine with Washington. He was of huge service to them. In fact, he was instrumental in the Iran-Contra affair, by which the CIA circumvented Congress’ prohibition to provide the Nicaraguan contras with weapons to be used against the leftist Sandinista movement.

Noriega helped with cocaine to be sent mainly to Los Angeles, California, where it was sold in form of crack and served to poison vast Black communities, another of the devious objectives of the CIA. The money was used to buy arms in Iran to provide the contras with them.

Money and power transforms the weak and devious. Noriega wasn’t exempt. It went to his head. He now believed he was untouchable and felt he could ignore Washington’s orders and instead of helping the U.S. place Guillermo Endara in power in Nicaragua, he decided he would impose a president of his own choosing: Francisco Rodriguez. Noriega also began harassing U.S. military bases in Panama. The U.S. was not about to put up his unruly behavior. Washington deployed troops to invade Panama in December 1989.

They captured Noriega and locked him up in a Miami jail, but before that, they killed 3,500 innocent civilians and displaced 20,000 more… (The CIA called the operation against Panama “Operation Just Cause.”)

10. 1990 – Peru

Finally, we arrive at Peru (and US President George H. W. Bush’s CIA). First we need to understand that this list by no means represents the end of U.S. interventions worldwide. The CIA continues to cause havoc across Latin America and the rest of the world. However, these 10 cases may enlighten those who refuse to believe that the United States is responsible for death and destruction. It also serves to show how they operate and can be easily detected in places where there is instability, hunger and chaos. Instability, hunger and chaos is their specialty.

In Peru another CIA agent rose to power. Alberto Fujimori was elected president in 1990. The reason why his election is highly suspicious is because he was a mediocre person with no education and no charisma. He had no political influence, and he was known to nobody but his family.

But he did show some intelligence when he asked Vladimiro Montesinos to be his associate. Montesinos was a lawyer and a very intelligent person with above average strategic thinking. He was also a CIA man.

Fujimori named him National Intelligence Service director. A paramilitary group was created only to murder leftist and Marxist leaders. Fujimori dissolved Congress and locked up all the members of the Supreme Court of Justice. The CIA helped him with his plan, they financed him and supervised all his atrocities. Today, Fujimori is in jail.

Note: The 10 sovereign Latin American nations that were discussed in some detail above were just the Ten Most Lethal CIA-led Coups. The article did not include the militarily-invaded Latin American nations of Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Surinam, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Grenada. – GGK

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Today, Indigenous communities in rural areas and cities across Canada and the United States are rallying to demand that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal commit to real action and respect for Indigenous rights.

More than a dozen actions are happening around the country alongside others in the United States, including a round-dance in Toronto, a picnic for the Peace River in Vancouver, a healing ceremony at the site of Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland/Labrador, and rallies in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and northern Ontario.

The actions come on the heels of Trudeau back-tracking on a pledge to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), approving mega-projects like the Site C dam, the Petronas LNG terminal, and promoting tar sands pipelines, maintaining discrimination against First Nations children on reserves, and continuing policies that deny the land rights of Indigenous peoples.

“Justin Trudeau has made big promises on Indigenous issues, but his actions have revealed an agenda that continues violating our rights. It’s time for Indigenous peoples to demand not just pretty words from this government, but deeds,” said Russ Diabo, a member of the Defenders of the Land organizing committee.

The demands of the national day of action include that the Liberal government implement UNDRIP in Canadian law, respecting Indigenous Peoples’ right to say no to development on their land; stop pipeline, gas, and oil mega-projects without Indigenous consent; introduce a bold climate plan that respects the 1.5-2 degree temperature target that Canada helped negotiate in Paris; and fully fund Indigenous-owned and controlled renewable energy projects.

“Indigenous women are spiritually connected to the water and we take that role very seriously. Indigenous grandmothers are standing up and will continue to stand with our allies against the destruction of our water sources,” said Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association and a member of the Defenders of the Land women’s committee.

The national day of action was initiated by the Defenders of the Land women’s committee, a network of rural Indigenous activists fighting for land rights. The action is supported by a broad network, including Idle No More, Greenpeace, 350.org, No One is Illegal groups, and the Leap Manifesto.

“We don’t want a share of the profits from pipeline, oil, and mining projects that are devastating vulnerable communities, our lands, and all living things on this planet. We reject endless extraction because we know that the ground beneath our feet is not a commodity – this is our home,” said Erica Violet Lee, a spokesperson for Idle No More.

This network of activism by Indigenous communities builds on years of protest against destructive resource projects, and the Idle No More movement.

Media contacts:

Stop Alton Gas/Defenders of the Land Women’s Committee: Cheryl Maloney [email protected] or 902.751.0077

Defenders of the Land: Russell Diabo, 613-296-0110 (can speak to federal policy on land issues, UNDRIP, funding)

Idle No More: Erica Violet Lee – [email protected]

Eriel Tchekwie-Deranger, member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, can speak on pipelines, climate change, and Indigenous Peoples:  780-903-6598

Pam Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University (can speak to federal policy on land, UNDRIP, funding) – [email protected]

For more information, and contacts for communities and organizers of events happening nationwide, please contact: [email protected] com or see: http://tiny.cc/zddrfy or http://www.idlenomore.ca/ deeds_not_words

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As the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia comes under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the Gulf nation’s weekend bombing campaign in Yemen, a Reuters exclusive published Monday reveals that the Obama administration approved a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings that it could implicate the U.S. in war crimes.

The Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen on Saturday killed at least 140 people and wounded hundreds more, prompting the U.S. to launch a “review” of its support for the kingdom. On Monday, Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of State had already warned the government that “the United States could be implicated in war crimes” for aiding the campaign.

Officials also had doubts that the Saudi military would actually be able to target Houthi militants without hurting civilians or destroying infrastructure, according to department emails and interviews with officials.

However, government lawyers stopped just short of concluding that U.S. support for the campaign would implicate the country in war crimes—which could have opened up the U.S. military to accountability. Reuters writes:

U.S. government lawyers ultimately did not reach a conclusion on whether U.S. support for the campaign would make the United States a “co-belligerent” in the war under international law, four current and former officials said. That finding would have obligated Washington to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen and would have raised a legal risk that U.S. military personnel could be subject to prosecution, at least in theory.

The documents, obtained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, shed new light on “how the United States pressed the Saudis to limit civilian damage and provided detailed lists of sites to avoid bombing, even as officials worried about whether the Saudi military had the capacity to do so,” Rueters continues.

American officials were actually well aware that airstrikes in Yemen were killing scores of civilians. Reuters writes:

State Department lawyers “had their hair on fire” as reports of civilian casualties in Yemen multiplied in 2015, and prominent human rights groups charged that Washington could be complicit in war crimes, one U.S. official said. That official and the others requested anonymity.

During an October 2015 meeting with private human rights groups, a State Department specialist on protecting civilians in conflict acknowledged Saudi strikes were going awry.

“The strikes are not intentionally indiscriminate but rather result from a lack of Saudi experience with dropping munitions and firing missiles,” the specialist said, according to a department account of the meeting.

The specialist also noted that “weak intelligence” had contributed to confusion over who was who on the ground.

The investigation comes just after the U.S. approved yet another billion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia. At the time of the authorization in September, Oxfam America president Ray Offenheiser condemned the deal as continued evidence of both nations’ “startling indifference to civilian lives.”

Indeed, as Common Dreams reported over the weekend, the Obama administration’s new review has little credibility among anti-war advocates. Although National Security Council spokesman Ned Price rebuked the airstrikes Saturday night, stating, “U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check,” United Nations-based journalist Samuel Oakford pointed out in response that the government has long been making that empty declaration.

“WH used this ‘not a black check’ language for months,” he tweeted, noting that there is also no deadline for the review and that “refueling continues.”

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Various news agencies internationally reported on October 10 that a Pentagon war vessel was threatened by missiles amid an escalating war of imperialist dominance in the Middle Eastern state of Yemen. This ship was reported to have been deployed in the southern Red Sea.

Only a week before another ship from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was struck causing extensive damage in a missile attack said to have also come from inland Yemen.

A Destroyer known as the USS Mason was reportedly not struck in the alleged attack according to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, who serves as a spokesman for the Department of Defense. Pentagon officials contend the incident took place around 7 p.m. as the ship, which originated from Norfolk, Virginia, was claimed to have been in international waters off the coast of Yemen.

The Pentagon quickly sought to blame the supposed incursion against their ship on the Ansurallah movement (also known as the Houthis) which Washington has targeted as the principal enemy in Yemen since the religious group has made gains in taking control of huge areas of territory in the northern, central and southern regions of the country located near the Gulf of Aden. The Supreme Revolutionary Committee, an alliance led by the Ansurallah, has been targeted in air strikes and ground operations since the withdrawal of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel in early 2015.

Davis told the Washington Post that the U.S. assessed “the missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. The United States remains committed to ensuring freedom of navigation everywhere in the world, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our ships and our service members.”

The war conducted by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) since March 2015, has resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 Yemenis. Daily aerial bombardments have sought to neutralize and defeat the Ansurallah movement which is accused of being supported politically by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Supporters of the Ansurallah have been largely the Shite-oriented adherents of Islam in Yemen whom have formed an alliance with the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Military units still loyal to Saleh have fought against a coalition of anti-Houthis forces including the ousted Saudi and U.S.-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has been reinforced by Islamist elements alongside special forces from the GCC countries and their allies.

On October 8, Saudi-GCC air forces struck a funeral in the capital of Sanaa killing over 140 people. There were at least two separate bombings according to eyewitnesses at the scene of the attacks. These air strikes follow a pattern since this phase of the war emerged which targets civilians through the bombing of residential areas, schools, health facilities, mosques and internally displaced persons camps.

There has been the deliberate destruction of power stations and water supply lines in a war of desperation to reclaim control of the country by political interests currently allied with Washington, London, Paris, Brussels and Riyadh. Numerous attempts to negotiate a political settlement involving the major organizations and religious groups inside the Middle East’s most impoverished state have been sabotaged by the Saudi Monarchy supported by the U.S. State Department.

International Outcry Over Funeral Attack

Even the Wall Street Journal reported on October 10 that “With its military campaign in Yemen under renewed international scrutiny, Saudi Arabia said it ‘regretted’ a strike on a funeral that killed 142 mourners but stopped short of accepting responsibility for the attack. In a letter from its United Nations mission to the U.N. Security Council on Sunday, the kingdom promised to release the results of an investigation into Saturday’s airstrike, which Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels blamed on the Saudi-led coalition fighting to unseat them.”

U.S. State Department top envoy Secretary of State John Kerry was said to have made a telephone call to the Saudi leadership expressing Washington’s “grave concern.” Perhaps this particular air strike which received widespread press coverage in U.S. media was a potential political embarrassment to the administration of President Barack Obama. Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, is currently seeking the presidency in a hotly-contested race against New York real estate magnate and right-wing demagogue Donald Trump.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also weighed in on the massacre saying “Aerial attacks by the Saudi-led coalition have already caused immense carnage and destroyed much of the country’s medical facilities and other vital civilian infrastructure. Bombing people already mourning the loss of loved ones is reprehensible. This latest horrific incident demands a full inquiry. More broadly, there must be accountability for the appalling conduct of this entire war.”

This same statement went on to emphasize that “The Secretary-General condemns the attack on an event hall in Sana’a where hundreds of people were gathered for a funeral ceremony. Initial reports indicate that the attack, said to have been airstrikes by the Coalition, killed over 140 people and injured hundreds of others. The Secretary-General expresses his sincere condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. The Secretary-General notes that any deliberate attack against civilians is utterly unacceptable and calls for a prompt and impartial investigation of this incident. Those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice. The Secretary-General once again reminds all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law – including the fundamental rules of proportionality, distinction and precaution – to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure against attack.”

The Secretary General also noted that he had requested that the UN Human Rights Council establish a team to conduct an independent investigation into the bombings on October 8. He stated as well that these latest attacks represented a continuation of a disaster that has left 80 percent of the 20 million people in Yemen in need of humanitarian assistance.

An Imperialist-engineered Disaster

Many Yemenis have fled to other parts of the country and abroad to avoid the impact of the conflict. The situation has been the subject of numerous reports issued by the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs and other relief organizations.

Spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke, went as far as to say that the bombing and ground war in Yemen has destroyed the economic fabric of the country. Laerke emphasized that the situation has destroyed basic services moving the economy toward near total collapse. This same office noted that children have been the main casualties in the war. (VOA)

The World Food Program (WFP), a UN agency, reported that it has reduced monthly food rations to the people of Yemen due to the lack of funds. Bettina Luescher, a spokeswoman for the WFP, said that agency needs another $145 million to complete its work by the end of 2016. (VOA)

Laerke stressed as well that “Even before the violence and the war in Yemen, the malnutrition rates of children in Yemen were the highest in the world. So you have a little bit of a perfect storm coming together there.”

The port city of Hudaydah has suffered tremendous damage making it difficult to import food and other needed supplies. “Before the war, Yemen was over 90 percent dependent on import of basic food items and medicines,” he said. “Eighty percent of those imports come through Hudaydah port. That gives you an indication of the importance of that lifeline.”

“What is particularly urgent in the port is the rehabilitation and the repair of five cranes, which were damaged in an airstrike in August 2015, so they have been partly out of commission for quite some time,” Laerke noted.

“Half of the children are stunted,” Luescher added, “meaning they are too short for their age because of chronic malnutrition. This year, the nutrition cluster estimates that there are 1.5 million [children younger than 5] who are acutely malnourished, of whom 375,000 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. There are many, many others suffering from moderate malnutrition, indicative of the gravity and severity of the situation.”

U.S. War Policy Causes Death and Destruction

This is a genocidal war being waged with the support of Washington. It is the Obama administration that has authorized the use of American-made warplanes, bombs and other destructive weapons against the Yemeni people.

The Wall Street Journal reported on October 10 that “The U.S., a top Saudi arms supplier, approved a $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other military equipment to Riyadh in August. Citing Yemen’s high civilian casualty toll, four senators introduced a resolution on the floor of the Senate in September to block the sale, but the measure failed to garner sufficient support in a vote later that month. The U.K. government has approved for the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of British jets, bombs and missiles to the country in recent years.”

Without the diplomatic cover provided by the White House the war waged by the Saudi-GCC coalition could not have been carried out for the last 19 months. The situation in Syria has overshadowed the war in Yemen yet both are a direct result of the failed imperialist policies of the U.S.

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As Russia and America creep ever closer to outright conflict, now that the diplomatic facade of the proxy war in Syria falls away with every passing day, one voice if calling for the world to stop and reassess what it is doing. Former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned on Monday that the world has reached a “dangerous point” as tensions between Russia and the United States surge over the Syria conflict; a conflict which if escalated even fractionally further, could result in all out war between the two superpowers according to General Joseph Dunford.

Gorbachev blamed the current state of affairs between Russia and US on the “collapse of mutual trust” and urged the sides to resume dialogue and push towards demilitarization and complete nuclear disarmament.

“I think the world has reached a dangerous point. I don’t want to give any concrete prescriptions but I do want to say that this needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue. Stopping it was the biggest mistake.  Now we must return to the main priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, fighting terrorism and prevention of global environmental disasters. Compared to these challenges, all the rest slips into the background.” Gorbachev said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Relations between Moscow and Washington, already at their lowest since the Cold War over the Ukraine conflict, deteriorated sharply in recent days as the United States pulled the plug on Syria talks and accused Russia of hacking attacks.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (L) and U.S. President Ronald Reagan begin their mini-summit talks in Reykjavik October 11, 1986.

As a result, last week Russia moved nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, near the hear of central Europe, an indication that a nuclear disarmament is the last thing on the mind of either Putin or Obama; quite the contrary a new nuclear arms race has begun. That, however, did not stop Gorbachev to preach the need for nuclear disarmament.

“Of course, at this moment it is difficult to talk about moving towards a nuclear-free world, we must honestly admit it. But we should not forget: as long as there are nuclear weapons there is the threat of their use. It could be an accident, a technical malfunction of someone’s evil will – a madman or a terrorist,” the former Soviet leader said. Or a perfectly sane, administration official intent on starting a new world war to benefit his or her financial backers.

In the interview, Gorbachev also reminded that in line with the nuclear non-proliferation agreement all of its signatories must hold talks on nuclear disarmament uniting the eventual full destruction of nuclear weapons.

“The nuclear-free world is not a utopia, but rather an imperative necessity. But we can achieve it only through demilitarization of politics and international relations.”

Gorbachev added that veterans of international politics, such as the “council of sages” chaired by former UN leader Kofi Annan, understood these problems and expressed hope that their voices would be heard by modern leaders. At the same time he emphasized that the main responsibility for global security lies on these modern leaders who would make the greatest mistake if they do not use the last chance to return international politics to a peaceful course.

The former Soviet leader’s interview was published on Monday to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the USSR-US summit in Reykjavik, which eventually allowed the nuclear arms race to slow down and greatly contributed to the end of the Cold War. Ironically, it comes out at a time when the nuclear arms race is back front and center.

Looking back to a more sensible time, Gorbachev reiterated that the Reykjavik summit was a major breakthrough. “First, we agreed on many issues and second, we managed to look over the horizon, see the perspective of a nuclear-free world,” he said.

“It was very appealing that in the course of our negotiations President Ronald Reagan sincerely spoke about the necessity to rid the world of the weapons of mass destruction. We shared a common position on this issue.”

Sadly, today that is no longer the case, and as we said over the weekend when we profiled the latest Russian nuclear escalation, the next move will be one by NATO and it will be proportional, as the west delivers even more nuclear weapons in close proximity to Russia in what will become a tit-for-tat “defection” from the game theoretical equilibrium, until the “accident, technical malfunction, madman or  terrorist” emerges and unleashes an unthinkable scenario.

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During the sexual scandals of Bill Clinton—the “bimbo eruptions” as Hillary called them—the Democrats and progressive opinion ruled out a person’s sex life as a political factor. Now suddenly nothing more than juvenile locker room banter without the actual sex has become the determinant of political unfitness.

Where did the 11-year old recording of locker room talk between Donald Trump and Billy Bush come from?

Who recorded it and kept it for 11 years for what purpose? Why was it released the day prior to the second debate between Trump and Hillary? Was the recording an illegal violation of privacy? What became of the woman who recorded Monica Lewinsky’s confession to her of sex with Bill Clinton? Wasn’t she prosecuted for wiretaping or some such offense? Why was Billy Bush, the relative of two US presidents, suspended from his TV show because of a private conversation with Trump?

You have to take men’s sexual banter with a grain of salt, just as you do their fish stories. President or candidate Bill Clinton himself publicly engaged in sexual banter. If memory serves, in a speech to blue collar workers, Bill said that the bed of his pickup truck was covered in artificial turf and “you know what that was for.” In the Clinton White House according to reports there were a number of female interns seeking Bill’s sexual attention. The scantily clad young women came to work sans underwear until Hillary put her foot down. One wonders if the Secret Service was told to inspect compliance with the dress code.

The One Percent masquerading as prudes want to remove Trump as the Republican candidate. Just how the people’s choice of presidential candidate is removed in a democracy prior to election, the prudes do not say. No one wanted to remove Clinton from the presidency despite the sexual use of the Oval Office, called at the time the “Oral Orifice.” The House Republicans wanted to remove Clinton not for sex but for lying about it, but the Senate would not go along with it. As senators all lied about their sexual liaisons, they saw no harm in it.

What disturbs me about the importance attributed to Trump’s sexual banter is that we have in front of us the dangerous situation of the neoconservatives pushing for Washington to attack Syrian and Russian forces in Syria and the chief Washington propagandist, neocon Carl Gershman, calling publicly for the US to “summon the will” to bring regime change to Russia.

The tensions between the two nuclear powers are currently at all time highs, and this dangerous situation is not a factor in the US presidential election! And some people wonder why I call Americans insouciant.

The US media, 90% owned by the One Percent, have teamed up with their owners against the American people — the 99 Percent. As Trump observed during the second presidential “debate,” ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper teamed up with Hillary against him: “Nice, three on one,” Trump said.

Do the 99 Percent understand that the anti-Trump hysteria fanned by the presstitutes is intended to keep the people in economic bondage and at war?

https://www.rt.com/usa/362298-media-endorsing-hillary-clinton/ 

We all know that the hysteria over the Trump-Billy Bush locker room banter is orchestrated for political purposes. But consider the absurdity of it all. Trump’s private expression of sexual interest in an attractive member of the opposite sex has been declared by the presstitutes to be “extremely lewd comments about women.”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-billy-bush-today-show-20161009-story.html 

Is what is going on here the criminalization of heterosexual sex?

Feminist say that women do not want to be regarded as sex objects, but much of womankind disagrees, judging by the provocative way some of them dress. Clothes designers, assuming they are good judges of the apparal market for women, also disagree. At the latest Paris fashion show (October 1) Vivienne Westwood displayed a dress on which the female sexual organs are displayed on the dress.

https://sputniknews.com/photo/201610071046086772-pictures-week-october-07/ 

Vivienne Westwood is a woman, a British fashion designer. She has twice earned the award for British Designer of the Year. The Queen of England awarded her the aristocratic title of Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) “for services to fashion.”

At a ceremony honoring her at Buckingham Palace, Westwood appeared without panties and twirled her skirt in the courtyard of the palace. Photographers caught the event, and in Vivienne’s words, “ the result was more glamourous than I expected.”

As recently as 2012, Vivienne was chosen by a panel of academics, historians, and journalists as one of The New Elizabethans who have had a major impact on the UK and given this age its character.

In 18th century England, if historians are correct, young women would appear at evening social functions in wet gowns that clung to their bodies the better to indicate their charms. Some of them died of pneumonia as a consequence. They did this on their own accord to attract the attention of the opposite sex.

According to reports, robotic sexual partners are being created for men and women that are superior to the real thing. Other news reports are that young Japanese men go on vacation with their sex apps, not with girlfriends. There are indications that as the advancement in social approval of homosexual, lesbian, and transgendered sex progresses, heterosexual sex is acquiring the designation of queer. If Trump had expressed sexual interest in a male or a transgendered person, it would be politically incorrect to mention it. Only heterosexual sexual impulses are a political target.

We have reached that point in which women can appear in high heels with skirts that barely cover their nether parts and their braless breasts exposed, and men are lewd if they notice.

Do women really want it this way?

Is Hillary really going to win the election because Trump is sexually interested in women?

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Brazil: The Billion Dollar Coup

October 11th, 2016 by Prof. James Petras

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was removed from office through a well-organized, carefully planned operation among the corrupt Brazilian political elite, closely linked to the stock-market, financial institutions and foreign energy companies.  This ‘legislative coup d’état ’eliminated the democratically-elected ‘political intermediaries’ and installed a regime directly controlled by the CEO’s of leading multi-nationals.  The corporate composition of the post-coup regime insured there would be a radical restructuring of the Brazilian economy, with a massive shift from wage support, social spending and public ownership toward profits, a foreign capital take-over of strategic sectors and  foreign-domestic elite dominance over the entire economy.

This paper will describe the socio-economic dynamics of the coup and its aftermath, as well as the strategy and program that Brazil’s new rulers will pursue.  In the second half of the paper, we will discuss the Workers Party regimes’ policies (under Lulu and Rousseff) that prepared the political and economic ground-work for the right-wing seizure of power.

Socio-Economic Dynamics of the Coup

The overthrow of President Rousseff was organized and implemented by Brazil’s capitalist class for its benefit, even though it had the superficial appearance of a power grab by corrupt politicians.

Rousseff’s Vice-President, Michel Temer (image: above with Dilma), acted as the front-man on behalf of the major investment banks:  They set the agenda; he played his part.

Moreover, the principal beneficiaries of the economic giveaways under ‘President’ Temer, most notably the privatization of the energy sector, are clearly foreign capitalists.  Once the coup makers lined up the votes among Brazil’s notoriously corrupt Congressmen to oust Rousseff, the multinational corporations emerged from the shadow of the stock market to take control over the levers of power.

In the run-up to the coup, when the so-called ‘impeachment’ was gaining momentum, the shares of the largely state-owned oil company sky-rocketed by 70%.  In anticipation of the privatization and sell-off of assets, leading speculators and overseas investment houses seized the moment.

The ‘coup’ was no ‘secretive conspiracy’ – it was an overt, direct capitalist seizure of power.  Once installed, it proceeded to dismantle the public sector economy and transfer the jewels of Brazil’s economy to foreign multi-nationals.

Master of Pillage

To ensure that the coup would not deviate from the course set by the capitalist coup-masters, Pedro Parente, ‘one of their own’ and the former head (CEO) of the giant agricultural trader, Bunge, was put in charge of the economy.  With dizzying speed, Parente imposed the New Order onto the puppet Temer coup regime.  He used a set of phony ‘technocratic’ euphemisms to explain the ongoing plunder of Petrobras, the state oil company.

Parente lowered Petrobras’ public investment sector by 25%, which he called ‘debt reduction’.  The brutal programed sell-off of Petrobras’ most valuable assets was described as a ‘deleverage timetable’.

The unelected ‘Privatization Czar Parente’, in effect, ended the state’s role in the Brazilian economy by placing it under the exclusive dictates of private capitalist.  The primary beneficiaries will prove to be foreign over national capital.

Parente has undermined the competitiveness of the national manufacturing sector and transport system with a hefty increase in domestic fuel prices.  On the surface, he claimed the price increase would ‘raise profits for Petrobras’, obscuring the fact that the oil giant’s public assets had been given over to private capitalists.  Meanwhile, Parente privatized the gas stations, ethanol production and distribution, as well as the billion-dollar fertilizer and petro chemical industry.  Over $15 billion worth of Brazilian prime public assets were sold off to private, mostly foreign capital, in 2015-2016.

Parente’s onslaught deepened. The ‘grand prize’ was access to its rich off-shore oil fields.  By the middle of 2016, a large-scale offshore oil license was sold to the Norwegian multi-national, Statoil, for a mere $2.5 billion.

With Parente in command, the ruling elite is on track to sell-off an additional $20 billion worth of Petrobras assets to foreign capital in 2017-18.  The key goal has been to replace the state sector as lead operator in the deep water oil and gas fields.

The ongoing pillage of the Brazil’s huge state energy sector, is only the first course in an orgy of privatization:  Infrastructure, transport, utilities and basic state-protected industries are on the chopping block.  This private plunder of the state economic jewels accompanies a brutal slashing of public pensions, salaries and wages guarantees as well as public sector budgets for health and education and public workers.  In order to reduce corporate taxes, increase profits and attract capital, the coup regime has ordered the cuts by fiat.

Conclusion:  Challenges to Capitalist Power

The capitalist class seized state power through the corrupt political and judicial machinations of Brazil’s Vice President and Congressional cronies.  The take-over was based on a series of alleged corruption scandals by the Workers Party.  The fact that the entire Brazilian congress, most notably the capitalist operatives behind the coup, has been deeply immersed in the scandal over an alleged $15 billion looted from Petrobras,undermines their credibility.  In fact, the ousted President Rousseff was cleared of all charges of corruption, while her successor faces ongoing investigations.  This tragic comedy exposes that some members of the Workers Party are tiny amateurs in this orgy of capitalist plunder.

The current President Michel Temer is charged with receiving bribes from private contractors.  If these investigations undermine his already dubious leadership, the capitalist coup-masters will be forced to call for early election.   This will introduce considerable uncertainty about the viability of Privatization Czar Parente’scapitalist power grab.

The regime’s ‘slash and burn’ campaign against wages and pensions has heightened class conflicts within Brazil.  The three major labor confederations are preparing for major strikes against a regime of questionable legitimacy.

The business coup has allowed the capitalist class to seize state power and decree its agenda.  However it has yet to show it can directly impose its draconian polices aimed at reconcentrating wealth and income for the top five percent while repressing scores of millions of industrial workers, rural landless laborers and the urban poor.

In addition, while the rulers can offer the jewels of Brazil’s economy to foreign capital, the current low oil prices, ongoing corruption trials at the highest level of elite power and intensifying class conflicts will undermine their ability to implement their agenda.   Indeed the prospect of escalating state repression and criminal gang violence may persuade foreign capitalists to skim off the top of Brazil’s most profitable assets and abandon the ensuing chaos.

Epilogue

After 13 years of Workers Party control of the Brazilian presidency, how did the coup-masters rise so quickly and decisively?   The political leader of the coup was Vice President Michel Tener, who had been selected by the Workers Party (PT) leadership as part of their ‘coalition strategy’ of working with the most corrupt elements of the Brazilian capitalist class.  The members of the Congressional majority, which voted to impeach President Rousseff, were in partnership with the PT, elected in joint election platforms.  The economic decline and recession, which undermined public support for the PT government, was a result of its emphasis on the ‘boom and bust’ commodity strategy.  The strategic role played by the private banking and business sector in the ‘legislative coup’ resulted from the PT’s decision to implement the privatizations started by the previous regime of President Cardoso, thus strengthening this parasitic class.

Above all, it was the PT’s new reliance on financing their political campaigns through the donation of contractors and the business elites, instead of combining electoral politics with class warfare and mass struggle that opened the Party to the everyday corrupt practices of the capitalist parties.  It is a perverse justice that only the PT newcomers to political corruption would be caught and prosecuted!

In other words’ the PT continued to win elections by becoming a normal bourgeois party with its social welfare agenda reliant on an unstable capitalist growth cycle of commodity exports.  The PT were profoundly mistaken when they saw their alliance with the capitalist class as something permanent rather than an ‘alliance of convenience’  where the business elite would tolerate them until it was in a position to overthrow them.

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First published in October 2014

In October every second week on Monday, Columbus Day is celebrated in western culture in general and in the America’s specifically. This is an American tradition and school children of all ages are taught about  his  so-called discovery of his New-World. Annual parades are given around the country, and every year dignitaries participate in these festivities. 

Unfortunately, most people celebrate his holiday  without knowing the truth about Columbus’s  purpose for taking such risky voyages, and his horrendous behavior against the indigenous population, together with brutality against his own men.

At the other end of the spectrum, Columbus’s impact has been most devastating on the indigenous people together with  African communities everywhere. For a better understanding, three historical events before Columbus’s four voyages are presented, along with the reasons for these voyages.

Three Historical Events:

The first event occurred  when the African Berbers/Moors  conquered the Iberian peninsula (present-day Portugal and Spain). Back then the conquered territory was identified as Andalusia and at that time was most of Spain, Portugal, parts of France, Italy and Gibraltar. Their conquest began in 711 and lasted up to the fall of Granada on January 2, 1492.

The second event is the conquest of Ceuta an Islamic city in North Africa by the Portuguese in 1415. Notably, that was over three decades before the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In the meantime, Portuguese mariners sailed beyond Cape Bojador, Morocco, for the first time in the 1430s.

By 1445, a trading post was established on the small island of Arguim off the shores of present-day Mauritania. As Portuguese ships continued to explore coastlines and rivers over the following decades, they established trade with the preexisting  industries. Portuguese traders procured not only various west African commodities such as ivory, peppers, textiles, wax, grain, copper, as well as captive African slaves for exporting. At this time, these slaves were only used as servants in Europe.

In addition to building trading posts, Portugal established colonies on previous uninhabited islands off the African shores that would later serve as collection points for captive slaves, and commodities to be shipped to Europe, and eventually sent to the colonies in the Americas. After several generations, Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, opening up European access to the east Indies.

By the close of the fifteenth century, Portuguese merchants could circumvent commercial, political, and military strongholds in both north Africa and in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Indeed, they were successful in using maritime routes to bypass trans-Saharan overland trade routes controlled by Islamic Ottoman Turks.

The third event occurred in 1453, when the Islamic Ottoman Turks  successfully captured Christian Constantinople (present-day Istanbul)—formerly western Europe’s main source for spices, silks, paper, porcelain, glass, and other luxury goods produced in India, China, Japan, and the spice islands (present-day Indonesia)   collectively these areas were known as the east Indies, and the silk road  trade route  was shutdown by the Ottoman Turks conquest.

The Fall of Granada in 1492:

Obviously, the passages to the east Indies were denied to the Christian west by the Ottoman Turks who controlled the main overland routes to the Orient. Desert robbers, along with the  heat and sand storms, as well as other unforeseen hazards eventually made the trip too dangerous and expensive.

The Portugal’s  alternate  route, by sea, was now in demand.  Christopher Columbus spent the better part of his adult life embracing a different navigational solution other than Portugal’s already established maritime route. The core  of his idea was  sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean to the east Indies would be shorter, and  quicker. Moreover, knowing modern geography  makes his idea  a guaranteed failure.  In hindsight if his idea was correct, a world of opportunity would open up not only for  him but other fortune hunters.   Of course,  this did not happen.

By the late 13th century, the Spanish Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon had reconquer most of the Islamic Berber/Moors controlled territory. In 1479, the two kingdoms were united as a result of the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. The last Islamic kingdom, Granada, was lost in  1492. For Christian Spain, this  conquest was the most important event in their history.  After nearly eight centuries of fighting, the Christian Iberians finally defeated the African Islamic Berbers/Moors.  On the second of January, 1492, King Ferdinand together with Queen Isabella rode into Granada victoriously. Columbus was present at that joyful event.

The Spanish monarchy agreed to sponsor his voyage but with stringent modifications. He angrily refused their offer and went to France for financial support. A short time afterward, the king and queen  had second thoughts and decided to meet Columbus’s demands.  Eventually, their courier  caught up with  him just before he reached France.

Upon his return, he was promised huge amounts of gold plus given the title captain of the ocean seas, along with absolute power as administrator for the future to be colonized New World. Columbus promised to bring back gold, spices, and silks, to spread Christianity, and at the same time charter a quicker route to the east Indies. Consequently, he was outfitted with three ships, the Nina, La Pinta and the Santa Maria.

Columbus’s Four Voyages:

This set the stage for his four voyages. All of them had some sort of disaster. Which begin with his maiden voyage in 1492 that was disaster number one. While exploring an uncharted island he name Hispaniola (present-day Dominican and Haitian Republics), on Christmas Day he wrecked his flag ship the Santa María; together with the help of the indigenous Taino people using wreckage from the ship and anything else they could find to built small fortress named La Navidad (Christmas in English). He left 39 men at the fortress, and proceeded to Spain to request funding for another voyage.

Unknowing to Columbus, the left-behind Spaniards began enslaving the Taino women for domestic work, which, after several months, led to armed conflict with the Taino’s, who destroyed the temporary settlement, killing them. Upon returning to Spain on the La Niña with a little gold, parrots, spices, and Taino  captives that Columbus displayed for the Spanish Monarchy convinced them of the need for a rapid second voyage. He received a great deal of fanfare. Columbus   was cheered and followed everywhere he went. After all he was ” admiral of the ocean sea ” and governor-general of the new lands he discovered.

In reality, he did not bring anything in the way of gold or other valuable items like he promised, and he certainly did not find a shorter route to the east Indies. However, he did display some indigenous Taino’s whom was forcibly bought to the Monarchy with a few trinkets of gold. His persuasiveness convinced the Spanish monarchy to finance a second voyage of discovery and colonization;   later with the blessing of Pope Alexander VI in the Treaty of Tortillas on June 7, 1494. Which assign spheres of influence in the Americas to Portugal and Spain.

Leaving the Canary’s Islands on October 13, 1493, Columbus’s second voyage of conquest was outfitted with a huge fleet of 17 ships, domesticated animals, with over 1,000 colonists together with six priests, attack dogs and canons. Notably, from an African perspective, this was the precursor to chattel slavery and colonialism.

Arriving in Hispaniola in late November to find the fort of La Navidad destroyed with no survivors. Immediately, other fortified places were built, including a city, founded on January 2, and named La Isabella in honor of  the queen. On February 2 Antonio de Torres left La Isabella with 12 ships, some gold, spices, parrots, and Taino captives (most of whom died en route), as well as the bad news about Navidad and some complaints about Columbus’s methods of governance.

Meanwhile,  he managed to find a small source of  gold on Hispaniola.  Columbus forced the natives to work in gold mines as slaves until they died of exhaustion. If a Taino did not deliver his full quota of gold dust by his  deadline, soldiers would cut off the man’s hands and tie them around his neck to send a message.  Slavery was so intolerable to the island people that at one point, 100 of them committed mass suicide. Catholic law forbids the enslavement of Christians, but Columbus solved this problem. Although, priests were available to convert  natives into Christians, he simply refused to have them baptize, in all likelihoods never intended to do so.

One of his men, Bartolome De Las Casas, was so mortified by Columbus’ brutal atrocities against the native peoples, he  became a Catholic priest. He described how the Spaniards under Columbus’s command cut the legs off of children who ran from them, to test the sharpness of their blades. According to him,  the men made bets as to who, with one sweep of his sword, could cut a person in half.

In a single day, De Las Casas was an eye witness as the Spanish soldiers dismembered, beheaded, or raped 3000 native people. ” Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel, ” He  wrote. ” My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write. ”

Columbus had been appointed governor and Viceroy of the new lands by the Spanish crown, and for the next year and a half, he attempted to do his job. Although, he was a good ship’s captain but an inapt administrator. The one thousand or so colonialist sole purpose was to seek gold, and none was to be found. The gold they had been promised never materialized, and what little gold was discovered was sent to the Spanish crown.  In the meantime, supplies began to run out, and it was discord in the colony. Columbus used brutality and cruelty to restore order.   With the supplies almost gone in March of 1496, he returned to Spain for more resources to keep the struggling colony from failing.

In Spain this time around  he was not met with jubilation, on the contrary, there were skepticism and doubt about his venture. However, he managed to get enough financial support, and his third expedition left on May 30, 1498 with six ships. The fleet split into two squadrons; three ships to sail directly for Hispaniola with supplies to the colonists, and the other three led by Columbus’s further exploration of the uncharted islands.

After a short time exploring, Columbus returned to Hispaniola on August 19, 1498, he found open hostility. As a matter of fact, it was civil unrest  by the colonist. The constant unrest  was resolved when Ferdinand and Isabella appointed Francisco de Bobadilla as royal commissioner, with administrative powers in Hispaniola.

His first order of business was to send the Admiral and his two brothers Bartolome and Diego back to Spain in chains  in October of 1500. At this point, he came from being the Admiral of the Oceans seas to a miserable failure.  Despite the justifiable charges brought against Columbus and his two brothers, the Spanish Monarchy released them. Considering,  he was sending them gold all along, perhaps not as much as he promised but gold non-the-less.

Christopher Columbus made a fourth voyage, to search for the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean. Mindfully, when examining a current map his westward theory was doomed from the beginning; On May 11, 1502, four old ships and 140 men under Columbus’s command put to sea from the port of Cadiz. Insultingly, he was forbidden to enter Hispaniola the colony he founded.

He proceeded to explored parts of southern, and central America. However, his ships were damaged by a hurricane and termites. Columbus and his men unable to seek assistances in Hispaniola were stranded on Jamaica for a year before being rescued.

This concludes Columbus four voyages, which were all failures; beginning with wrecking the Santa Maria in Hispaniola, and on the second voyage running out of supplies; and on the third upon his return was arrested together with his two brothers and sent back to Spain in chains. On his fourth voyage, he was not allowed in Hispaniola, although it was the island, he founded. More insulting was he was stranded on Jamaica for a year before returning to Spain.

Contrarily, the Caribbean Islands is often called the west Indies. With certainty, the descendants of the native inhabitants are mistakenly called Indians around the world because Columbus believed until his death, he was in the east Indies. After 25 years of Spanish occupation, the Taino’s populations, numbered several million in 1492, were reduced to about 50,000.

In today’s contemporary world, he would be guilty of crimes against humanity with evidence from his diary, as well as, accounts from his own men. In all probabilities, he would be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Conclusion:

Columbus Day, was brought on by the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal service organization. Back in the 1930s, they were looking for a Catholic hero as a role-model. In 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed

Columbus Day into law as a federal holiday.

In western culture, there are some whom honor and worship him, and others recognized his atrocities, and loathe him. For those that honor and worship him, it might be worthwhile to Google ” Columbus slave trade, ” it just might change their opinions.

None the less, Columbus Day from an African perspective has a different dynamic altogether. His decade of exploration was founded on the principals of conquering and destroying other culture’s economic livelihoods and at the same time enhancing the Spanish crown. The rest of Europe followed these  principals resulting in  500 years of their domination. More specifically, it started with Columbus’s second voyage in 1493 as previously mentioned.

Shortly after his alleged discovery the world was divided by  two European world powers at the time, which was Spain in Portugal. The Roman Catholic Pope was ecstatic over the discovery of the so-called New World by Columbus. The Pope divided the world between Portugal and Spain in the treaty of Tortillas in 1494. Where Portugal was assigned Brazil,  both coastal shores of Africa, the southern and eastern shores of Asia, and the east Indies.

On the other hand, Spain was given the Americas, the Philippines, and future lands encountered by Columbus. These two historical events set the precedent of conquering other cultures, which was condoned and embrace by the two super powers then,  and later all of Europe.

Within these same scenarios, White-Supremacy evolved based on color. Whereas, white represent supremacy in contrast to   people of color whom were deemed inferior, which is the foundation of racism. After 500 years these principals, although modified for all intents and purposes are still prevalent today.

By establishing a permanent foothold based on conquering, Spain took the first steps towards building their mighty empire by destroying indigenous Aztecs, Incas and Mayan cultures, and then a century later the rest of Europe followed using the same conquering techniques. The evidence is 500 years of Western domination.

In the process of profitable plantations during the 1500s, expanded the demand for African slaves in the colonies in the New-World. Trade in slaves soon overshadowed gold as the main export of the area. At this time in history, Portugal’s trading post off the shores of Africa became one of the principal sources of slaves. By the early 16th century, the native slave trade was not sufficient. As they died out, Africans were imported for the plantations in the New-World.

The wealth and the trade it generated by the Spanish conquests were enormous and within Europe was the backbone around which capitalism was built. As the native populations of the Americas were wiped out merchants made more profits by importing Africans and selling them to work the tobacco, sugar, cotton plantations and mines.

Later in the century, England, France, and the Dutch joined in the enslavement of Africans. Notably, Portugal together with Spain  already had an established  slave trade in Latin America a century before their arrival.

A hidden fact is the majority of the African slaves were sent to Latin America led by Spain and Portugal, whom were influenced by Columbus’s enslaving the native Americans.  These fact still prevails today where the majority  of the  slave descendants  are in Latin-America.

It would be a gross oversight not to mention Australia, together with Africa. The aborigines of Australia suffered the same fate as the natives in Columbus’s so-called New World. Summarily, three continents were destroyed and now being controlled by victors of western culture based on Christopher Columbus conquering principals.

Although, Africa has been colonized and their cultural and economic progress has been altered forever. Colonization was planned during a conference held in Berlin from 1884 until 1885. The purpose of this conference was to use their superiority of weapons to partition Africa. There were six countries evolved led by England, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Belgium, partition Africa according to their economic interest.

Due  to Columbus’s conquering precedent Africa and Australia were also victimized just as the other  two continents in his New-World. It can be said with certainty that Christopher Columbus conquering exploits have benefited western culture. At the other ends of the spectrum, to some degree people of color and Africans particularly are at the same time suffering.

Obviously, there are two sides to every story. Specifically, this presentation is from the African communities’ perspective. It must be said, collectively, these communities are the victims of slavery as well as colonialism along with other Africans scatter around the world.

Conclusively, for the descendants of the native populations in the New-World, and within the African, communities everywhere together should conclude that  Columbus Day is nothing but a huge April Fool’s Joke.

Sabamya Jaugu [email protected]

Resources:

 Moors in Spain                                                      Stanley-Lane Poole

A short Account of the Destruction of the Indies    Bartolome De Las Casa

American Holocaust                                               David E Stannard

Christianity Islam and the Negro Race                  Edward W.  Blyden

African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean        Herbert S Klein,   Ben Viinson III                                                                             

The Afrikan Holocaust                                          John H.  Clarke

Lies My Teach Told Me                                        James W. Lowen

The Scramble for Africa                                        Thomas Parkenham

How Europe Undeveloped   Africa                       Walter Rodney

A people History of the United States                   Howard Zinn 

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If the greatest poker game of all times will end by nuclear grand slam, and the survivors will review the causes of WWIII, they will die laughing.

The Third World War had been fought to save al Qaeda. Yes, my dear readers! Uncle Sam invaded Afghanistan in order to punish al Qaeda, and now he started the World War to save al Qaeda. Positively a great ambivalent passionate love/hate relationship between the American gentleman and the Arab girl, from 9/11 to Aleppo.

For the future historians, the WWIII commenced with the US decision to terminate bilateral talks with Russia over Syria. Let the arms do the talking, they said. Here is an exclusive revelation:

The US decided to suspend talks after Russia called for withdrawal of al Qaeda (al Nusra Front etc.) fighters from Aleppo. This was the casus belli.

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I have in my possession two war-starting documents:

Document One, headlined October 2 Agreement. This is an American draft of an agreement presented by State Secretary John Kerry to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Its first line said “The Russian Federation will ensure an immediate halt on October 3 to all offensive military operations etc.”. It is based on the older short-lived Lavrov-Kerry agreement with an important addition: “without the previous requirement for repositioning of forces”.

Document Two, called Reducing violence in Aleppo, full-scale humanitarian assistance to civilian population, setting of “effective Cessation of Hostilities” and separation of moderate opposition forces and Jabhat Al-Nusra. It is subtitled “position document draft”. This is the Russian counter-proposal, confirming the Geneva agreement of September 9, 2016.

Its most important part is the call to separate al-Qaeda fighters (aka terrorists) through pushing the terrorists out of Aleppo via humanitarian corridor to the Castello Road.

This Document has been answered by American termination of talks.

Thus, the Russians wanted to take al-Qaeda out of Aleppo, so the city can be fed and brought back to life. The Americans were ready to start armed hostilities against Russia for the right of Al Qaeda to remain in the city.

In other words, the Americans did not believe in their own myth of moderate opposition. They knew, as well as the Russians, that without “terrorists”, the insurgency in Syria is doomed. They did not want to let Syria be under Assad and with the Russians.

As usual, they made a lot of humanitarian-sounding noise about suffering children of Aleppo. Why Aleppo, and not Mosul with its mounting victims? Just because the killers of Mosul are supported by the US? Why not Yemen, where Saudi troops using American weapons (procured after giving a hefty bribe to Clinton’s war chest) to kill more children than there are in Aleppo? And where is this great sisterly supporter of Mme Clinton, Mrs Albright who famously said “it was worth it” to kill five hundred thousand children of Iraq?

There is no doubt, the Aleppo children and grown-ups suffer, and there is a simple way to stop their suffering: to remove the “terrorists” and to allow more moderate forces to join in the political process. But on this way, Assad and Russians will remain in control of the bulk of Syria.

The insurgency in Syria would have died out long time ago, if the Gulf states and the US did not pump billions of dollars, heaps of weapons and wagonloads of jobless fighters from nearby countries. It would be very sad for many people, but not a terrible disaster for Syrians. Sometimes, rebellions end with defeat. This is not end of the world.

The Irish Rising of 1916 ended in defeat, but Ireland is still there. Tamil Tigers failed to take over Sri Lanka. The suppression of the Confederacy in the American Civil War has been bloody and cruel. Atlanta was burned and its citizens expelled by force. One million dead: much more than in Syria, as mankind was much smaller in those days. One can imagine the European force landing on the American shore and relieving Atlanta in the name of human rights, preserving the Confederacy. But it did not happen. Civil wars have their own logic. A defeat of rebels is not the end of the nation.

As a young idealistic Israeli soldier, I planned to go to Nigeria and join the Biafra rebel army. I thought the Ibo tribe are “Jews of Africa” who had to be protected from a coming genocide. At the end, I was stuck in the Attrition War at the Suez Canal, and the Biafra war ended without my interference. In spite of apocalyptic predictions, Nigeria was reunited, and Ibo reintegrated.

The Syrian war also can end with rebels’ defeat. The government will assume its control, the Syrians will run the elections, and eventually come to a modicum of co-existence. Are you worried the elections under Bashar Assad won’t be fair? The US can loan them Mrs Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to oversee the elections. I am sure, chances of Assad won’t be better or worse than those of Mrs Clinton in the US elections.

The al-Qaeda forces (I keep using this name, for they forever change their official titles; it was Al Nusra, and Ahrar al-Sham, and probably Squirrels’ Union for Syrian Nuts, but they are basically the same good old Al Qaeda that bombed out New York on 9/11 and had been bombed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya) are on their way to defeat. If the Americans are so keen on them, ship them home to the US on direct flights Aleppo-Washington, as this city seemingly is most pro-Al-Qaeda place beside of the caves of Bora Bora. Probably the Democratic Party will greet them and President Obama will grant them the US citizenship.

The only way to save al-Qaeda (short of the described above) is to start war with Russia. And this is actually the choice the US administration is about to make.

Provided the US can’t be serious planning to destroy mankind while saving Al Qaeda, we are forced to look for a better explanation. I do not want to dwell too much on “conspiratorial” reasoning of “for the sake of Israel”, or for gas pipeline.

These explanations are valid. We know that the US supported Qatari plan to build a pipeline from the Qatari gas field to Europe to undermine the Russian economy and European dependence on Russian gas. We know that Hillary Clinton promised to break up Syria “for the sake of Israel”, as she wrote in a wikileaked email.

And still, these are just rationalisations of the true thing. I’ll tell you the real reason.

Why the war? For the fun of it. American leaders appreciate brinkmanship, I was told by a very prominent American insider. This is a human quality. Young kids like to walk at the edge of the precipice. This is their way of proving they are better than their mates. Grown ups do it too, for the same reason.

Brinkmanship is the practice of causing a situation to become extremely dangerous in order to get the results that you want, says a too-rational dictionary, but in real life of elites, the reason (“in order to get the results that you want”) has been forgotten. It is pure art, brinkmanship for the sake of brinkmanship.

For quite a while, the US leaders competed over who can push the Russian bear further, who will take the world more close to the edge of the abyss. Why? Just because it is there, as Mallory said on climbing Everest. Perhaps, by its size, by its ostensible clumsiness (“giant on clay legs”), by its nearness, Russia wakes up such a suicidal desire in the hearts of powerful leaders, from Napoleon to Hitler.

Practical, quasi-rational reasons were always very weak, and usually included saving the Russian people from their cruel rulers, be it Judeo-Bolsheviks or the Tsardom of Knout (humanitarian intervention is not a new invention!). Now it is saving kids of Aleppo.

True, the kids of Aleppo could be saved by removal of fighters out of the city, but it does not score in the brinkmanship game.

 The Russians understand the game. They are trying to save Syria, and their positions in Syria; previously they tried to protect their positions in their immediate vicinity by taking the Crimea in the wake of the West-arranged Kiev coup. Every time, they tried to be reasonable. They did not like what was done to them, but they lived with it.

Now they have finally come to the conclusion that the US will not stop pushing until the challenge has been met. It is surrender, or war. Even if they were to leave Syria (and they have no such intention), the Americans will find the next reason for pushing them.

This is why Putin published his Plutonium and Uranium decrees. These decrees symbolised the end of Gorbachev-Yeltsin era and undid the “victory in the Cold War” of the US over the USSR. In the 1980s, the two superpowers of the time achieved the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) military potential, but beginning from 1986, Gorbachev, and afterwards Yeltsin surrendered the Russian positions. Many missiles were dismantled, nuclear warheads were broken and shipped to the US to be used as a source of energy for American reactors.

The Russian scientists and experts complained that extremely expensive plutonium and enriched uranium were sold for peanuts, efficient and deadly missiles were broken and Russian ability to fight the enemy had been diminished. But the Russian government said that Russia has no enemies, the US is a friend, and the missiles and the warheads are not needed anymore.

A few years ago Putin began slowly to restore and modernise the nuclear arsenal. This was almost too late, as the American Dr Strangeloves called for a first nuclear strike upon a weak Russia. They said there will be no payback, as the Russian nuclear weaponry is too old and can be intercepted by the newest American anti-missile systems. Anyway, Russia observed the agreements made by Gorbachev and Yeltsin and duly shipped plutonium and enriched uranium to the West. These agreements made the US safe, and kept Russia vulnerable.

If the US would play its cards safely and fairly, this situation could last for a long time. Until now, the Russians meekly responded to the crescendo of NATO threats and accusations. But now, in course of one week, the western mainstream media accused the Russians of multiple war crimes, from downing the Malaysian liner in the Ukraine to bombing a humanitarian convoy in Syria.

The Russians are positive that these accusations are groundless. Less than 8% of Russian responders believe the Russians attacked the liner. They think the liner had been shot down by the Ukrainians who thought they were attacking Putin’s jet. As for the humanitarian convoy, the BBC video clearly shows traces of thermobaric ammo Hellfire, used by the US Predator drone. Such a drone has been observed at the place of the tragedy, they say.

Putin has been demonised as Milosevic and Saddam, compared to Hitler and even (oh, the horror!) Trump. The New York Times editorial described Russia as an outlaw state. This concerted push made an impact. You never know how far you can push until you push too far. The Russians were pushed too far.

They began to dismantle the system of agreements made after the Soviet collapse. So, in a family quarrel, the man being pushed and pronged by his hysterical spouse, lifts a pile of china plates and smashes them on the kitchen floor. Now nuclear war is quite likely, – unless the US leaders will come to their senses.

Russians aren’t worried about the forthcoming war. There is neither panic nor fear, just cool stoic acceptance of whatever comes. This week, some forty million people participated in a huge civil defence exercise. Shelters of Moscow and other cities have been aired and repaired. They do not want war, but if it comes, it will be met. The Russians have fought many wars against the West; they never started a war, but invariably fought to the finish.

An American attack on Syrian or Russian bases in Syria could be a starting point for the avalanche. I am truly amazed by the Russian spirits: they are considerably higher than they were in the days of Korean war, of Vietnam war or the Cuban crisis. Then, they were scared of war and ready for sacrifices to avoid MAD. Not anymore.

This readiness for the Armageddon is the most unexpected and scary feature I observed. It is even more unexpected, as the daily life of an average Russian has greatly improved. Russia probably never lived as good as she does now. They have much to lose; it is only the feeling of being cornered and unjustly so, that makes them to react in such a way.

The audacious demands of Putin: lift all sanctions, pay for damages caused by sanctions and counter-sanctions, remove your troops and tanks from the Baltic states, Poland, other late-joiner NATO states – show that the stakes are indeed high. Not only the US leaders can walk at the edge of the abyss: the Russians can show them the art of brinkmanship. After the utter humiliation of 1990s, Russians are not likely to turn off the road where two nuclear juggernauts are speeding towards each other.

There are some signs of the Americans coming to their senses. “The president has discussed in some details why military action against the Assad regime to try to address the situation in Aleppo is unlikely to accomplish the goals that many envisioned now in terms of reducing the violence there,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday.

And even the warmongers’ best friend The New York Times has published a call: Do Not Intervene In Syria.

So perhaps we shall live a bit longer.

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Amid the increasingly hawkish approach the US government has taken towards the Syrian government, it has been clear for its strategists that a no-fly zone over Syria would mean mass civilian casualties, leaked quotes from a 2013 Hillary Clinton speech have shown.

One of the problems with the no-fly zone, which Western hawks have long insisted should be imposed over Syria, would be the need to “take out” the country’s “very sophisticated” air defenses, Hillary Clinton noted in a Wall Street speech posted by WikiLeaks in the latest trove of classified emails.

“To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defenses, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk – you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians,” Clinton admitted.

WikiLeaks on Friday opened a Pandora’s box of emails leaked from the account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, unleashing thousands of messages with excerpts of her paid speeches for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and others in between her job as secretary of state and the current presidential campaign.

Syria proved to be a hot topic for Clinton in 2013. During her speech for Deutsche Bank, she was asked by an audience member whether she would support US airstrike or boots on the ground in Syria, and if there was indisputable evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its people.

“Well, you’ve asked a very, very difficult question,” Clinton replied,“because we obviously talked about this at great length, and both the United States and Europe, as well as Israel, have said that’s a red line. And if there is indisputable evidence, then there is the stated commitment to take action.”

“What that action is and what would work is extremely difficult to plan and execute,” she added.

Clinton asserted the US had some “potential” interests in Syria, the leaked document shows.

“It depends upon how you define national interest. We certainly do with chemical weapons,” she said during her October 2013 speech at the Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner.

Clinton then justified Syria being “a national interest” by what she claimed was a possibility of it becoming “a training ground for extremists, a launching pad for attacks on Turkey, Jordan, the non-tetarian[sic] elements in Lebanon and, eventually, even in Israel.”

Another challenge mentioned by Clinton was for the West to“develop covert connections with the Syrian opposition to gain insight,” she said during the 2013 speech to Goldman Sachs.

“So the problem for the US and the Europeans has been from the very beginning: What is it you – who is it you are going to try to arm? And you probably read in the papers my view was we should try to find some of the groups that were there that we thought we could build relationships with and develop some covert connections that might then at least give us some insight into what is going on inside Syria.”

Clinton said she actually favored “more robust, covert action trying to vet, identify, train and arm cadres of rebels” in Syria, adding that things have been “complicated by the fact that the Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons  – and pretty indiscriminately.”

Clinton also said she has heard advice about Syria to “let them kill themselves until they get exhausted, and then we’ll figure out how to deal with what the remnants are,” according to another quote from the Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner in 2013. She called it “a very hands-off approach.”

While journalists may still be combing through hundreds of the leaked emails, Clinton’s Republican rivals have already used leaks to hit out at her for hiding the transcripts of Wall Street speeches and running a “fraud” campaign.

“With today’s WikiLeaks revelations we are finding out who Hillary Clinton really is, and it’s not hard to see why she fought so hard to keep her transcripts of speeches to Wall Street banks paying her millions of dollars secret,” the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said in a statement. “The truth that has been exposed here is that the persona Hillary Clinton has adopted for her campaign is a complete and utter fraud. How can Bernie Sanders and many like-minded Democrats continue to support her candidacy in light of these revelations?”

Meanwhile, on Friday the Obama administration accused Moscow of being behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) computers in June.

“Earlier today the US government removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponised WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump’s candidacy,” Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin said. “We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange, who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry called the US allegations “nonsense.”

“This whipping up of emotions regarding ‘Russian hackers’ is used in the US election campaign, and the current [US] administration taking part in this fight is not averse to using dirty tricks,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Saturday in comments posted on the ministry’s website.

“There is no proof whatsoever for such grave accusations,” Ryabkov said. “They are fabricated by those who are now serving an obvious political order in Washington, continuing to whip up unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria,” he added.

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On October 7, the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) launched a major counter-attack on the joint terrorist forces of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Ahrar al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) northeast of the Syrian city of Hama.

Initially, the Syrian army and the NDF took control of the village of Junaynah, then, after a series of firefights, they liberated Sha’atha and Tulaysiyah. On October 8, the pro-government forces freed from terrorists the village of al-Qahira, the al-Shu’tha hills and the nearby agriculture airstrip, Khefseen and checkpoints near al-Khaima and al-Naqra. On October 9, the army and the NDF continued operations in the direction of Tamat al-Khalifah, Qubaybat Abu al-Huda and Kubbariyah. By October 10, they have recaptured the strategic town of Ma’an and the nearby village of Kubbariyah after a series of heavy firefights with terrorists.

Ma’an had been one of the major towns (others are Taibat al-Imam, Al-Lataminah and Kfar Zitam) strategically located near the M5 highway and captured by the joint terrorist forces.

The terrorists’ defenses collapsed due to the ongoing infighting among various factions. Major clashes are ongoing between Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa. Fateh Halab, Liwa al-Haq, Jaish al-Sunna and Ahrar al-Sharqiyah announced a support to Ahrar al-Sham while Fatah al-Sham has played a role of the big brother and made a series attempts to mediate a ceasefire between the groups. On October 9, Jund al-Aqsa gave alliance to Fatah al-Sham. Nonetheless, by October 10, the ceasefire has not been reached. At least 12 military commanders and over 80 militants have been killed in the fighting.

The army, the NDF, Hezbollah, Liwa al-Quds (a Palestinian pro-government militia) and other pro-government units, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force, have been developing momentum against the joint terrorist forces of Jaish al-Fatah and Fatah al-Sham in the strategic city of Aleppo. The pro-government forces implement a long-standing strategy aming to take an upper hand on the terrorists, using the advantage in fire power and reinforcements. Terrorists units, encircled in eastern Aleppo, are limited in supplies and the maneuverability.

On October 8, the army and Liwa al-Quds took full control of the Awijah Neighborhood after a series of clashes terrorists. The pro-government forces also seized a strategic hilltop south of the neighborhood and the Jandoul roundabout. On October 9 and 10, the loyalists continued operations in northern Aleppo, trageting Jaish al-Fatah at Manashir al-Breij, southeast of Awijah. The mid-term goal of loyalists in northern aleppo is to seize the Asfar Hill that will allow to secure Majbal Anzarat and take fire control of the northern part of Anzarat. The next strategic hilltop that the army and its allies will need to seize is Ayn Tal, northeast of the Bostan Basha neighborhood, partly sized by the army. If all these are done, the militant-controlled areas in eastern Aleppo will be significantly reduced and the government forces will be able to launch a storm of the main neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo.

In southern Aleppo, the army and Hezbollah continued pressure on terrorist units deployed in the Sheikh Saeed Neighborhood. The Sheikh Saeed road to the central Aleppo will likely become the axis of the main offensive operations of the pro-government forces in the area. In the 1070 Apartment Project no sides has been able to make gains despite the ongoing firefights.

35,000 terrorists were killed in Syria from February 27 to September 1, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Antonov announced, adding that 586 settlements and 12,360 square kilometers of the country’s territory were liberated in the same period.

Russian heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” will depart to the Syrian coast to take part in the ongoing anti-terrorist operation in the period from October 15 to October 20, Interfax news agency reported, citing a source familiar with the situation. A large antisubmarine warfare ship, a big sea tanker and a rescue tug will accompany Admiral Kuznetsov in the campaign, which will last 4-5 months.

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A prominent neocon paymaster, whose outfit dispenses $100 million in U.S. taxpayers’ money each year, has called on America to “summon the will” to remove Russian President Putin from office, reports Robert Parry.

The neoconservative president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy [NED] has called for the U.S. government to “summon the will” to engineer the overthrow of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the 10-year-old murder case of a Russian journalist should be the inspiration.

Carl Gershman, who has headed NED since its founding in 1983, doesn’t cite any evidence that Putin was responsible for the death of Anna Politkovskaya but uses a full column in The Washington Post on Friday to create that impression, calling her death “a window to Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin autocrat whom Americans are looking at for the first time.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Gershman wraps up his article by writing: “Politkovskaya saw the danger [of Putin], but she and other liberals in Russia were not strong enough to stop it. The United States has the power to contain and defeat this danger. The issue is whether we can summon the will to do so. Remembering Politkovskaya can help us rise to this challenge.”

That Gershman would so directly call for the ouster of Russia’s clearly popular president represents further proof that NED is a neocon-driven vehicle that seeks to create the political circumstances for “regime change” even when that means removing leaders who are elected by a country’s citizenry.

And there is a reason for NED to see its job in that way. In 1983, NED essentially took over the CIA’s role of influencing electoral outcomes and destabilizing governments that got in the way of U.S. interests, except that NED carried out those functions in a quasi-overt fashion while the CIA did them covertly.

NED also serves as a sort of slush fund for neocons and other favored U.S. foreign policy operatives because a substantial portion of NED’s money circulates through U.S.-based non-governmental organizations or NGOs.

That makes Gershman an influential neocon paymaster whose organization dispenses some $100 million a year in U.S. taxpayers’ money to activists, journalists and NGOs both in Washington and around the world. The money helps them undermine governments in Washington’s disfavor – or as Gershman would prefer to say, “build democratic institutions,” even when that requires overthrowing democratically elected leaders.

NED was a lead actor in the Feb. 22, 2014 coup ousting Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych in a U.S.-backed putsch that touched off the civil war inside Ukraine between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east. The Ukraine crisis has become a flashpoint for the dangerous New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.

Before the anti-Yanukovych coup, NED was funding scores of projects inside Ukraine, which Gershman had identified as “the biggest prize” in a Sept. 26, 2013 column also published in The Washington Post.

In that column, Gershman wrote that after the West claimed Ukraine, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, Gershman already saw Ukraine as an important step toward an even bigger prize, a “regime change” in Moscow.

Less than five months after Gershman’s column, pro-Western political activists and neo-Nazi street fighters – with strong support from U.S. neocons and the State Department – staged a coup in Kiev driving Yanukovych from office and installing a rabidly anti-Russian regime, which the West promptly dubbed “legitimate.”

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine's Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

In reaction to the coup and the ensuing violence against ethnic Russians, the voters of Crimea approved a referendum with 96 percent of the vote to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that the West’s governments and media decried as a Russian “invasion” and “annexation.”

The new regime in Kiev then mounted what it called an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO against ethnic Russians in the east who had supported Yanukovych and refused to accept the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev as legitimate.

The ATO, spearheaded by neo-Nazis from the Azov battalion and other extremists, killed thousands of ethnic Russians, prompting Moscow to covertly provide some assistance to the rebels, a move denounced by the West as “aggression.”

Blaming Putin

In his latest column, Gershman not only urges the United States to muster the courage to oust Putin but he shows off the kind of clever sophistry that America’s neocons are known for. Though lacking any evidence, he intimates that Putin ordered the murder of Politkovskaya and pretty much every other “liberal” who has died in Russia.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

It is a technique that I’ve seen used in other circumstances, such as the lists of “mysterious deaths” that American right-wingers publish citing people who crossed the paths of Bill and Hillary Clinton and ended up dead. This type of smear spreads suspicion of guilt not based on proof but on the number of acquaintances and adversaries who have met untimely deaths.

In the 1990s, one conservative friend of mine pointed to the Clintons’ “mysterious deaths” list and marveled that even if only a few were the victims of a Clinton death squad that would be quite a story, to which I replied that if even one were murdered by the Clintons that would be quite a story – but that there was no proof of any such thing.

“Mysterious deaths” lists represent a type of creepy conspiracy theory that shifts the evidentiary burden onto the targets of the smears who must somehow prove their innocence, when there is no evidence of their guilt (only vague suspicions). It is contemptible when applied to American leaders and it is contemptible when applied to Russian leaders, but it is not beneath Carl Gershman.

Beyond that, Gershman’s public musing about the U.S. somehow summoning “the will” to remove Putin might — in a normal world — disqualify NED and its founding president from the privilege of dispensing U.S. taxpayers’ money to operatives in Washington and globally. It is extraordinarily provocative and dangerous, an example of classic neocon hubris.

While the neocons do love their tough talk, they are not known for thinking through their “regime change” schemes. The idea of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia with the goal of ousting Putin, with his 82 percent approval ratings, must rank as the nuttiest and most reckless neocon scheme of all.

Gershman and his neocon pals may fantasize about making Russia’s economy scream while financing pro-Western “liberals” who would stage disruptive protests in Red Square, but he and his friends haven’t weighed the consequences even if they could succeed.

Given the devastating experience that most Russians had when NED’s beloved Russian “liberals” helped impose American “shock therapy” in the 1990s — an experiment that reduced average life expectancy by a full decade — it’s hard to believe that the Russian people would simply take another dose of that bitter medicine sitting down.

Even if the calculating Putin were somehow removed amid economic desperation, he is far more likely to be followed by a much harder-line Russian nationalist who might well see Moscow’s arsenal of nuclear weapons as the only way to protect Mother Russia’s honor. In other words, the neocons’ latest brash “regime change” scheme might be their last – and the last for all humanity.

A Neocon Slush Fund

Gershman’s arrogance also raises questions about why the American taxpayer should tolerate what amounts to a $100 million neocon slush fund which is used to create dangerous mischief around the world. Despite having “democracy” in its name, NED appears only to favor democratic outcomes when they fit with Official Washington’s desires.

CIA Director William Casey.

If a disliked candidate wins an election, NED acts as if that is prima facie evidence that the system is undemocratic and must be replaced with a process that ensures the selection of candidates who will do what the U.S. government tells them to do. Put differently, NED’s name is itself a fraud.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since NED was created in 1983 at the urging of Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director William J. Casey, who wanted to off-load some of the CIA’s traditional work ensuring that foreign elections turned out in ways acceptable to Washington, and when they didn’t – as in Iran under Mossadegh, in Guatemala under Arbenz or in Chile under Allende – the CIA’s job was to undermine and remove the offending electoral winner.

In 1983, Casey and the CIA’s top propagandist, Walter Raymond Jr., who had been moved to Reagan’s National Security Council staff, wanted to create a funding mechanism to support outside groups, such as Freedom House and other NGOs, so they could engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.

In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but he recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey wrote.

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance – that it would permit the continued behind-the-scenes involvement of Raymond and Casey.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head NED, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.

“Senator [Orrin] Hatch, as you know, is a member of the board. Secondly, NED has already given a major grant for a related Chinese program.”

Neocon Tag Teams

From the start, NED became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs that was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

The Washington Post building. (Photo credit: Daniel X. O'Neil)

Over the ensuing three decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (in 2014) and Russia.

Indeed, NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing “non-governmental organizations” inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce legislation passed by the Russian parliament that required recipients of foreign political money to register with the government.

Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

Another bash-Putin tag team has been The Washington Post’s editors and NED’s Gershman. On July 28, 2015, a Post editorial and a companion column by Gershman led readers to believe that Putin was paranoid and “power mad” in worrying that outside money funneled into NGOs threatened Russian sovereignty.

The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians had enacted the law requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.

The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move … is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May [2015]. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’

“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts.

“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations ‘foreign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”

However, among the relevant points that the Post’s editors wouldn’t tell their readers was the fact that Russia’s Foreign Agent Registration Act was modeled after the American Foreign Agent Registration Act and that NED President Gershman had already publicly made clear — in his Sept. 26, 2013 column — that his goal was to oust Russia’s elected president.

In his July 28, 2015 column, Gershman further deemed Putin’s government illegitimate. “Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy … was declared an “undesirable organization” prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:

“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”

The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the column.

Also undercutting the column’s impact would be an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. So Gershman left that out, too. After all, how many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?

And, if you had any doubts about what Gershman’s intent was regarding Russia, he dispelled them in his Friday column in which he calls on the United States to “summon the will” to “contain and defeat this danger,” which he makes clear is the continued rule of Vladimir Putin.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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On Saturday, Russia on one side and the US and its allies on the other clashed at the Security Council over Syria. As expected, the two sides weren’t able reach a compromise. Unfortunately, analysts say, Syria is no longer just a local conflict, and not even just a clash between Russia and the US – but a struggle of entire geopolitical coalitions.

This, experts warn, tremendously increases the risks of a global conflagration sparking off over the conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

On October 8, Russia vetoed a French-drafted Security Council resolution calling for a halt to airstrikes over the city of Aleppo, where the Syrian military is currently engaged in a campaign to liberate eastern sections of the city from a hodgepodge of militant groups.

Syrian pro-government soldiers hold a position as they advance in Aleppo's restive Bustan al-Basha neighbourhood on October 6, 2016

Syrian pro-government soldiers hold a position as they advance in Aleppo’s restive Bustan al-Basha neighbourhood on October 6, 2016

Soon afterward, Russia introduced its own resolution, based on an idea by UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, to get Nusra Front terrorists to withdraw from Aleppo altogether, thus bringing down the violence and allowing for the resumption of the comprehensive Russian/US-sponsored ceasefire agreement of September 9. Russia’s resolution went to a vote, but was voted down by the US and its allies.

Commenting on the tensions, barely masked, between the two sides over the competing Syria resolutions, Svobodnaya Pressa columnist Andrei Ivanov suggested that “it’s enough,” for a start, “to look at the harsh tone of the statements made by the Russian Foreign Ministry over the French proposal.”

Syrian pro-government soldiers hold a position as they advance in Aleppo’s restive Bustan al-Basha neighbourhood on October 6, 2016

“The coauthors of the French resolution, encouraged by the most rabid critics of Damascus, were not able to show political wisdom,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Instead of negotiations aimed at achieving positive results, they chose an ultimatum – a loud PR campaign, exploiting the humanitarian issue for short-term political purposes removed from the real interests of the Syrian people, and those of other nations in the region,” it added.

The other side too certainly wasn’t afraid of making sharp comments, Ivanov noted. Prior to the vote, President Hollande “threw in a phrase to the effect that any country that vetoes the French resolution would be ‘discredited in the eyes of the world.'”

Ultimately, the journalist suggested, “behind these words is nothing more than another threat to isolate the ‘savage and barbarian Russia’ from the ‘civilized’ world. Frankly speaking, this is the rhetoric of the Cold War…”

What’s more, Ivanov noted, in a situation where Washington makes direct threats to attack those who fight the terrorists, it’s very difficult to imagine a compromise with the Kremlin. In fact, he added, “it seems like the chances of compromise have disappeared altogether.”

“But if we do not hold negotiations, what is left?” the journalist asked. “US generals are ready to bomb Assad’s troops. In response the Russian Ministry of Defense has threatened to shoot down any ‘unidentified objects’ over Syria’s skies. Neither side is prepared to step back. Washington cannot allow Aleppo to be liberated, since it would hearten the Syrian army and be a triumph for Assad. Hence, the US may have to use their aircraft, and Russia cannot just allow the successes of our efforts in Syria to be erased…”

An S-400 air defence missile system deployed for a combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase to provide security of the Russian air group’s flights in Syria

“For now, the worst scenario imaginable – the destruction of US aircraft, has not yet materialized,” Ivanov noted. “But the situation is heating up with each passing day. The termination of nuclear cooperation, the end of business contracts, the veto at the UN – in a calmer period each of these news stories would have been discussed for weeks. Today, analysts can barely keep up with the situation enough to comment.”

An S-400 air defence missile system deployed for a combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase to provide security of the Russian air group's flights in Syria

An S-400 air defence missile system deployed for a combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase to provide security of the Russian air group’s flights in Syria

Asked to comment on the dangers that the Syrian crisis poses in escalating to a global conflagration, Alexander Krylov, a senior researcher at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations’ Center for Middle Eastern Studies, confirmed that the dangers exist, and they are very pressing.

“The situation is very serious, and looks similar to the Suez Crisis of 1956, or the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,” the analyst recalled. Accordingly, he suggested, today it is necessary “to understand that the crisis in Syria could lead to far more serious consequences,” thus forcing the parties to make amendments to their calculations.

Unfortunately, the analyst noted, US foreign policy decision makers want to ensure that their country continues its post-Cold War reign of setting the agenda and “playing a dominant role across the entire globe. When this doesn’t work, as is the case in Syria, Washington gets severely irritated.”

For now, Krylov explained, Damascus and Moscow can stick to their existing policy, since the US election cycle makes it virtually impossible for US leaders to take any drastic foreign policy decisions. However, with election of a new president, the Kremlin will be forced to exert itself to get the new administration “to understand the complexity of the situation and try to find a diplomatic solution” to the existing problems, including on Syria.

At the same time, the analyst added, as long as the Obama administration is in office, so too will US policy aimed at toppling Assad remain in force, no matter the cost (even if it means cooperating with Islamist terrorists). “Given this approach, resolving this crisis will be impossible. And there won’t be any liberation of Aleppo either, because Washington will do anything and everything in its power to ensure that any Syrian army offensive gets bogged down.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confer at the conclusion of their press conference about their meeting on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland September 9, 2016. The ceasefire that Moscow and Washington eventually agreed to was disrupted after being in force for just over a week.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confer at the conclusion of their press conference about their meeting on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland September 9, 2016. The ceasefire that Moscow and Washington eventually agreed to was disrupted after being in force for just over a week.

Ultimately, Krylov suggested, in the current situation, pending the outcome of the November elections, “there is no one with whom to engage in dialogue…It’s another matter that uninvited foreign intervention too certainly isn’t conducive to a settlement. I’m talking specifically about the Turkish invasion, and about the active involvement of the Persian Gulf states, the US, the EU and Israel in the crisis. All this only exacerbates the conflict.”

“The situation truly is critical. Politicians and military men must come to recognize that the situation today is similar to that of the Suez Crisis. Back then, in spite of the difficult relations between the Soviet Union and the United States, politicians were able to find a compromise. A wider war was stopped, and the US – for the only time in history, even adopted a resolution against Israel,” the analyst concluded.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confer at the conclusion of their press conference about their meeting on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland September 9, 2016. The ceasefire that Moscow and Washington eventually agreed to was disrupted after being in force for just over a week.

For his part, political scientist Leonid Kurtakov admitted that a diplomatic solution must continue to be searched for, but work to do so will be difficult given the differing conceptions on how the world should function. “According to the first concept, only one power has the right to determine the values of political, economic and trade relations [around the world]. According to the second concept, justice in international relations is of primary importance, and important decisions must be made by consensus. The two concepts contradict each other – hence this intransigence in the rhetoric of the two sides.”

Kurtakov suggested that for the US, the situation in Aleppo literally could not be more critically important, given its broader significance for US policy worldwide. “As soon as Assad’s army liberates Aleppo and puts an end to Daesh, this will immediately end the US game in the Middle East – along with their effort to stage color revolutions and overthrow legitimate governments; for the US it will mean the end of its current foreign policy, and of the economic model of globalization.” In other words, “this would be an economic and political collapse.”

Moscow, meanwhile, has no room to back down, according to the analyst, not only because it has international law on its side (something even Secretary of State Kerry has admitted), but also because the war in Syria is a precedent-setting event. “As soon as we allow chaos to be organized in one country, so will it spread to others. We made mistakes with regard to Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya. International law came to be associated with the order established by Washington. It’s for this reason that attempts to return things to the legitimate order of things by Russia or China have been seen as an ‘anomaly’ or, worse, a ‘threat to stability'” by the US.

Ultimately, Kurtakov suggested, “if we recognize that in the world there is only one ‘policeman’ – we can forget about our sovereignty…We can calm geopolitical tensions, kneel down and wait to be forgiven.” However, the analyst noted that in his own time, Mikhail Gorbachev already tried this approach, and it didn’t work. “As Churchill said, those who choose humiliation over war will get both humiliation and war.”

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The two most disliked candidates in modern U.S. election history did not disappoint U.S. voters’ low expectations of their performance in the second presidential debate held October 9 in St. Louis.

Both candidates spent most of their time attacking each other as either ‘morally unfit’ to be president, chronically prone to ‘bad judgement’, and habitual liars. Issues of real importance to voters were again, as in the first debate, altogether absent or, at best, were briefly and superficially addressed.

The continued mudslinging was fueled by the release of videos this past week, taken a decade or more ago, showing Trump bragging about his ability to sexually dominate women and making other generally extreme misogynist comments.

The videos set off a firestorm among the Republican elite over the week. Some began calling for Trump to drop from the race. Others talked of ‘pulling the plug’ on Republican Party financial assistance to Trump’s campaign. How Trump performed in this second debate would no doubt determine whether such talk translated into action, as the Republican camp showed signs of splitting down the middle even further and the party’s elite abandoning their candidate.

This potential ‘hard split’ among Republicans in the United States, the party elite vs. a majority of its members, is not unlike similar party developments in Europe, where the British Labour party elites have been attacking their public leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for abandoning their neoliberal policy regime; or in Spain where the Socialist Party leader was recently dumped; or in France where presidential Hollande will soon be.

The economic recovery since 2009 that has benefited only the economic elites—in the United States 95 percent of all the net income gains since 2009 have accrued to the wealthiest 1 percent households—has been translating into a grass roots disaffection from political parties. As one of the press commentators put it after the second U.S. debate, “This election is about the American people vs. the Political Class.” But it’s not just an American phenomenon. The trend is becoming generalized across many of the advanced economies.

Trump fielded the damning video evidence of his misogynist bragging by saying it was only ‘locker room’ talk. Only words. He then went on the offensive against Hillary Clinton, saying that while his were only ‘words’, Hillary’s husband, past president Bill Clinton, engaged in actual sexual abuse and was impeached for it. The Trump camp had brought three women to the debate who were involved in Bill Clinton’s impeachment charges or were subjects of Clinton’s sexual misconduct. Trump further accused Hillary of laughing when, as a prosecuting attorney, she got her client saved from jail time in a rape case involving a 12 year old. Both candidates thus showed they would go to whatever lengths to dredge up decades old evidence to prove their opponent as ‘morally unfit’.

An interesting, related detail to the ‘morality telenovela in real time’ that has become the U.S. presidential election, is that the videos of Trump were released more or less simultaneous with the Wikileaks’ release last week showing Clinton’s plans to run her campaign with one set of proposals and promises communicated to private big banker-corporate donors, while planning to say the opposite to voters. When challenged by Trump to explain the leak and her implied ‘two-faced’ approach to U.S. voters, Hillary hid behind the example of Abraham Lincoln, saying he did the same and the practice was therefore legitimate.

This ascerbic exchange was preceded by Hillary’s reference to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, accusing them of hacking the Democratic Party and the U.S. election in order to aid Trump. The U.S. media in recent weeks has picked up this idea, for which there is no evidence to date, and has been promoting it widely. It is yet another dimension of the growing shift in U.S. elite toward confronting Russia. Hillary’s implicit suggestion in the debate was the Wikileaks release reflects Putin-Russian interference in the US election to aid Trump. The timing of the release of the Trump videos and the Wikileaks material raises the question whether in coming weeks voters can expect more of the same—i.e. more damaging Trump videos being released, perhaps not coincidentally, as more promised Wikileaks releases appear damning Clinton.

The second debate revealed yet another, even more ominous anti-Russia theme worth noting. In a reply to a question about what would the candidates do about Syria and Aleppo, Hillary declared the Russian air force in Syria is determined to destroy Aleppo. Russia has ‘gone all in’ in terms of ambition and aggressiveness in Syria, she added. Russia’s war crimes should therefore be investigated. Furthermore, a ‘no fly zone’ should be imposed in Syria. What she didn’t explain is if Russian planes ignored the U.S. ‘no fly zone’, would the United States try to shoot them down? And what if U.S. planes were shot down, as Russians retaliated? Clinton’s exchange revealed the U.S. ‘war hawk’ faction’s increasingly desperation concerning the Syria conflict, in which the United States has been increasingly sidelined and Russia has become more influential.

The debate moderator, Martha Radditz, then asked Trump what he would do in Syria, since Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, Pence, had just days before declared, agreeing with Clinton, “the U.S. should be prepared to strike military targets of the Assad regime”, presumably including airfields with Russian planes. Trump replied “I disagree”, and that the focus should be on dealing with ISIS. Trump’s disassociating from his VP, Hillary, and the war hawk faction created some stir and commentary in the post-debate discussion by pundits and talking heads.

Another notable exchange during the debate occurred when Trump attacked Clinton for deleting her emails after receiving a subpoena, when Secretary of State. He then dropped yet another debate bombshell by saying when he’s president he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary’s action. When she rejected the notion as an example of Trump’s ‘imperial presidency’ view, Trump retorted it didn’t matter “because you’ll be in jail”.

Hillary clearly scored points in the debate, however, when the discussion turned, on occasion briefly, to actual policy. Trump noted costs of Obamacare had risen 68 percent, and that voters were drowning under rising costs of premiums, deductibles and copays. He advocated repeal and a total restart. Clinton, however, argued to fix it, and keep the good elements, whereas Trump would return health care to insurance and pharmaceutical companies’ price gouging and coverage denial, as in the past.

Clinton scored points in the exchange on taxes as well, noting that Trump’s plan to reduce taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent would benefit the rich twice as much as had George W. Bush’s tax cuts. She proposed no tax hikes on anyone earning less than US$250,000 a year, with taxation raised only on the wealthy.
The second presidential debate changed little in terms of voter preference, according to post debate polls.

The unfavorability ratings for both candidates were virtually unchanged: Clinton with 45 percent unfavorable rating before the debate and 44 percent after; Trump with 64 percent unfavorable both before and after. In national polls Clinton enjoyed a wide margin of support among women before the debate, which has grown further after events of the past week. This margin may prove significant in the election outcome, providing it carries over to the 8 or 9 swing states where the election will be determined by voter turnout–perhaps even before November since 30 percent vote by mail before and that voting has already begun.

In the second debate, Trump’s strategy was clearly to shore up his conservative base by returning to the extreme anti-Hillary rhetoric that got him the nomination. Themes of Clinton as ‘liar’, ‘devil’, and ‘put her in jail’, were resurrected. He may have restored his base after the events of the past week, and by performing relatively better in the second debate (a very low bar), but that may not prove sufficient to win in November. Clinton has used the events of the past week and the debate to deepen her support among women voters. However, an expected ‘knock out’ debate, where Trump was decisively defeated, did not happen.

But debates and national polls are almost irrelevant at this stage. The outcome will be determined in the eight to nine swing states. With 87 percent of voters decided and neither candidate able to ‘move the needle’ in debates, it’s about whether Trump turns out more of his base in the swings states and whether Hillary can change the minds of millennials, Latinos, and others to turn out to support her after they have felt betrayed by Obama’s second term and its failure to deliver on promises made in 2012.

In the meantime, audiences can just ‘enjoy’ (and weep) the morality telenovela that is the current U.S. presidential election.

Jack Rasmus is the author of the just-released book, “Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges,” and the previous, “Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy.”, both published by Clarity Press, 2016. He blogs at jackrasmus.com.

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The Trump Leaked Video Scandal And The US Gutter Election

October 10th, 2016 by Patrick Martin

The generally degraded state of American politics entered a new low this weekend. The entire media and political establishment was consumed with the scandal that erupted in the wake of the release of video of Republican candidate Donald Trump boasting in 2005 of his ability to use his position of wealth and celebrity to assault women with impunity.

Dozens of Republican office-holders and candidates have announced they will not vote for Trump or called for his replacement as the party’s nominee—a practical impossibility, given the widespread distribution of ballots for early, absentee or mail-in voting. Democrats jumped at the chance to denounce Trump. Media commentators, who never fail to cheer on every war launched by the American military, expressed their horrified indignation at Trump’s treatment of women.

As far as Trump’s comments are concerned, there was nothing that would surprise or shock any serious observer of the appalling decay in the political culture of the Republican Party and the capitalist two-party system as a whole. Trump in his persona embodies the backwardness of the American ruling class, a product of the sordid nexus of the New York City real estate market, Atlantic City casinos, Las Vegas and the entertainment industry.

More significant than the comments themselves are the uses to which they are being put. It is clear that a significant section of the ruling class has decided that a Trump presidency cannot be accepted. The scandal is a mechanism for fighting out differences while concealing any discussion of the extremely reactionary character of the Clinton campaign. The Democrats prefer to fight Trump on the most debased level, the politics of pornography.

Sex scandals have become a standard mechanism employed by the US ruling class to regulate its conflicts without alerting the great mass of the population to what the real issues are. Such methods have long been a feature of American politics—FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover notoriously kept folders full of such personal scandals in his desk, for use in blackmailing congressmen, executive branch officials and presidents.

There is little doubt that the video from the Access Hollywood program on NBC was located and set aside for use at a time when it would do the maximum damage, only 30 days before the election. There is also little doubt that if this particular salvo fails to finally sink the Trump campaign, more torpedoes are in the water.

What the real issues are came out to some extent in Sunday night’s Town Hall debate. Behind the mudslinging and name-calling, Clinton’s agenda was expressed in the limited discussion over foreign policy, during which she repeatedly denounced “Russian aggression” and called for a major military escalation in Syria.

Responding to a question about a leak from WikiLeaks that included excerpts of her speeches to Wall Street banks—including one in which she said that it was necessary to have a “public” and a “private” position on political issues—Clinton quickly shifted to an attack on Russia, charging that it was seeking to influence the elections in favor of Trump. “Our intelligence community has just come out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks [i.e., the exposure of DNC emails], the hacking of American accounts to influence our election. And WikiLeaks is part of that.”

Clinton later added that she supports a “no-fly” zone in Syria—which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said last month would mean war with Russia—in order to establish “leverage.” “Russia has decided that it’s all in in Syria,” Clinton said. “And they’ve also decided who they want to see become president of the United States, too, and it’s not me. I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as president.”

This is what the American ruling class is planning, and indeed already implementing. Clinton was not asked by debate moderators Anderson Cooper or Martha Raddatz how many people she was prepared to sacrifice in the pursuit of this policy.

The American media expresses consternation over Trump’s sexual predations, but does not bat an eyelash over the appetites of an imperialist predator who threatens the lives of thousands, if not millions. There has been no equivalent media furor over Clinton’s television interview where she chortled over the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, declaring, “We came, we saw, he died.”

As far as the outcome of the debate goes, it is evident that it did not go as Clinton and the Democrats had hoped. While they seek to capitalize on hostility to Trump, the Democrats have for their own candidate an individual who is deeply despised, steeped in criminality and corruption. Clinton had no real answer to the right-wing demagogy of Trump, who denounced her as a “liar,” whose words have no relationship to her actions.

The exposure of Trump’s backwardness is obviously revealing, but it points to the illegitimate and fraudulent character of the two-party system and the electoral process as a whole. The Democratic Party, with its nomination of a corrupt political hack and warmonger, is no alternative. Out of a country of 325 million people, the two candidates are the most hated in modern US history, and deservedly so.

The installation of Hillary Clinton in the White House would only insure that the policies that represent the consensus in the American ruling elite—a more aggressive and interventionist foreign policy, directed above all against China and Russia, and a crackdown against democratic rights and working class living standards at home—will be pursued by an experienced and trusted representative of big business, rather than by an erratic billionaire who has served his purpose in pushing the political system further to the right and encouraging the development of extreme-right and fascistic forces.

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For many onlookers who reside outside the US, the run-up to that country’s presidential election appears to be some kind of made-for-TV soap opera. Amid evidence of rigging, it seems Bernie Sanders was always destined not to win the Democratic Party nomination. It seemed a sure-fire bet that Clinton would.

Hilary Clinton, a war monger who supported the attack on Libya and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi. Clinton who presses for more attacks on Syria and who sanctions the destabilisation of that sovereign state via the placement of US military personnel there along with the active backing of terror groups. Clinton, the candidate who is on record as stating she would go to war with Iran and whose dodgy emails and Clinton Foundation dealings help demonstrate the corruption at the heart of US politics.

And this doesn’t even account for Trump, someone seemingly so lacking in knowledge of world affairs that much of the rest of the world can only say with more than a hint of trepidation, “Only in America!”

Trump was always destined to be little more than the fall guy to get Clinton elected. While Trump has his loyal followers, the assumption was that the floating voter would never support such a figure and that Clinton would be a relatively safer bet. As Ron Horn on his Surviving Capitalism website argues, Clinton was always the US deep state’s choice and she was always going to win – by hook or by crook.

So what will the US voter give to the rest of the world by voting in a handmaiden of empire? What will we, the global public, have to thank the US voter for? A voter spoonfed and indoctrinated with a diet of CNN/Fox fear-based propaganda about ‘Russian aggression’ and Islamic terror as well as the US’s role in exporting ‘freedom and democracy’ to the smoking ruins it helped create in Syria, Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan?

What we will get is what we already have: a trajectory towards a nuclear precipice and, along the way (maybe a very short way), a continuation of the steely grip of freedom around the necks of weaker states who refuse to bow to US hegemony.

Aside from the unfolding situation in Syria, the US and its client states are to all intents and purposes already at war with Russia. Washington initiated economic sanctions against Russia, has attacked its currency and has manipulated oil prices to try and devastate the Russian economy. It was behind the coup in Ukraine and is now escalating tensions by placing troops and missiles in Europe.

The ultimate aim is to de-link Europe’s economy from Russia and weaken Russia’s energy dependent economy. The ultimate aim is to also ensure Europe remains subservient to Washington, not least via the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and in the long term via US gas and Middle East oil (sold in dollars, thereby boosting the strength of the currency upon which US global hegemony rests).

As with Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and now Syria, or the much less publicised death and plunder in the Democratic Republic of Congo which Washington and London fuels for its corporations, US foreign policy leaves a trail of death and devastation in its wake.

By the 1980s, Washington’s wars, death squads and covert operations were responsible for six million deaths in the ‘developing’ world. An updated figure suggests that figure is closer to ten million. The US is effectively a ‘destroyer of nations‘.

The game plan is to destroy Russia as a functioning state or to permanently weaken it so it submits to US hegemony. Washington believes it can actually win a nuclear conflict with Russia. It no longer regards nuclear weapons as a last resort but part of a conventional theatre of war and is willing to use them for pre-emptive strikes.

The situation in Syria is most worrying of all. Another theatre of conflict instigated by the US that now sees it and Russia facing each other directly, with Moscow warning the US about the consequences of its aggression: possible nuclear war.

Washington presses ahead regardless. Russia and China undermine dollar hegemony by trading oil and gas and goods in roubles and other currencies. And history shows that whenever a country threatens the dollar, the US does not idly stand by.

Unfortunately, most US voters believe the lies being fed to them: a Pavlov’s dog public and media, which respond on cue to the moralistic bleating of politicians who rely on the public’s ignorance to facilitate war and conflict. A public that is encouraged to regard what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Libya, etc, (that is if they are encouraged to think about such things at all) as a disconnected array of events in need of Western intervention based on bogus notions of ‘humanitarianism’ or a ‘war on terror’, rather than the planned machinations of empire.

And what of Europe? Former US government official Paul Craig Roberts says a senior US government official told him in the 1970s, when referring to top European leaders, “we own them, they belong to us.” This has always been the US plan for Europe since 1945. And that ownership is clear to see as Europe’s politicians lie to their public by parroting official Pentagon nonsense about Russia and Syria and drag Europe into conflicts not of its choosing.

Could it be that the US’s first woman president will sleepwalk the world towards humanity’s final war (if it doesn’t reach that point prior to her becoming president)?

Could it be that the hawks in Washington would rather gamble on taking Russia (and China) out while risking all life on the planet?

After all, why would they be any different from their predecessors who appeared to place no value on the lives of hundreds of millions of ordinary people who lived in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe? They were prepared to annihilate vast swaths of humanity with nuclear weapons.

That mindset persists among the modern-day guardians of empire who continue to display no regard for human life whatsoever. We can hope that the US public finally wake up to the situation. But what chance of that? A public fed a prime-time TV soap opera script based on personality politics revolving around Trump’s dodgy past or Clinton’s health or integrity, while remaining blissfully ignorant of the real possibility of nuclear war breaking out in Syria.

We can of course hope that diplomacy and sanity prevails.

Unfortunately, the more likely option at this moment is that, in Syria, Russia offers a sufficient enough deterrent to force the Pentagon and the White House to reconsider the course it is on.

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This article was first published by GR in January 2015

Five years after the devastating earthquake, numerous massive protests were held against the UN occupation (MINUSTAH) and for the departure of Haitian President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. The latter finally resigned in December 2014. 

These demonstrations did not make their way into the mainstream media in 2014.

Why?

When anti-government protests occur in a country which is not led by a U.S. ally, there is extensive coverage. Haiti’s current leaders are “suitable” for Western leaders, most of all for the U.S. since it actually chooses Haiti’s leaders, not the Haitian people.

On January 12 there will be extensive coverage of the 5th anniversary of the devastating earthquake but the major issues and structural problems will either not be addressed or, at best, will be presented in a way that supports the deceitful notion of the white man’s burden. “Haiti needs our help.” Or does it? And what kind of help are we talking about?

“International aid” is nothing but a capitalist, imperial tool designed to keep the South captive of the North’s disastrous neoliberal policies which hinder genuine development and prevent the South’s economic and political sovereignty.

Where does aid money go? In the very pockets of those who pretend to give.

Haiti is probably the best example of the scam international aid really is.

Bush and Clinton the saviors

As a good neoliberal never letting a serious crisis go to waste, Bill Clinton, saw the 2010 earthquake as a great opportunity. As Dady Chery notes:

[At the beginning of the U.S. Occupation in 1915] a treaty was forced on Haiti that created the post of US High Commissioner, to run the country alongside its hand-picked “Haitian” president… Control of the country’s finances, public works, and public health services were transferred to southern US Democrats who had supported Wilson’s campaign, in much the same way that these are transferred today to USAID and non-governmental organizations (NGO). The idea then was the same as now: all Haiti’s economy should serve the US, and nearly all US dollars paid as wages in Haiti should return to the US.

Clinton saw in the earthquake of 2010 his opportunity to become the new US High Commissioner of Haiti… Within four months of the earthquake, he formed the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH): a strictly pay-to-play group of officials/rich businessmen from the MINUSTAH countries and others who agreed to contribute armed personnel from their countries or money … in return for a piece of the action in Haiti. After some arm twisting and bribery, the Haitian parliament was forced to declare a state of emergency for 18 months during which Clinton and his CIRH gang could do as they pleased with regard to reconstruction, without risk of liability. One year and a half came and went, and when the Haitian Senate observed that nothing much had been accomplished, the state of emergency was not renewed, and the CIRH was alleged to be fraudulent. (Dady Chery, Haiti: Time for Clinton and Co to Pack and Go, News Junkie Post, December 15, 2014)

Bill Clinton’s nefarious influence on the country is not new. A study of the economic liberalization strategies imposed by the U.S. on Haiti in the 1980s and 1990s showed that “President Clinton and other recent White House tenants condemn[ed] Haiti to a future of endemic poverty through a self-serving U.S. rice export policy”:

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), among other agencies, encouraged Haiti to start exporting manufactured and processed agricultural products, in tandem with emphasizing the need to import grain staples on the international market… U.S. experts worked to disassemble Haiti’s rural economy, even though USAID officials recognized that such a move could increase poverty and contribute to a decline in average Haitian income and health standards. By 2003, approximately 80% of all rice consumed in Haiti was imported from the United States.” (Leah Chavla, Bill Clinton’s Heavy Hand on Haiti’s Vulnerable Agricultural Economy: The American Rice Scandal, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, April 13, 2010.)

The business of disaster relief and international aid

Haiti’s earthquake was an opportunity for “business”. Several industries —mining, garment, tourism, only to name a few— profited from the disaster. Donations have favoured businesses in the donor countries more than Haitians themselves and several projects have seen cost overruns and others ended up being useless due to the critical lack of infrastructure.

It is a well-known and documented fact in independent media circles that international aid is nothing but business masquerading as charity. Approximately 80% of the aid money dedicated to developing countries ends up in the coffers of businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the donor countries. Far from helping, this dynamic only creates a relationship of dependency hampering, even preventing the “recipient” country from developing the very structures which could liberate it from this colonial relationship.

While most people working for Western humanitarian organizations are well-intentioned, Western “humanitarian” policies towards countries like Haiti are deliberately designed to maintain the financial superiority of the North on the South. This has been demonstrated by the disastrous effects of the International Monetary Fund’s infamous Structural Adjustment Programs, focused on massive privatization, free trade and which have destroyed local economies, agriculture and food sovereignty in countries which now rely on “food aid”. That’s what happened in Haiti:

While some U.S. government agencies say their programs have been meant to alleviate hunger and promote agricultural production, other programs have helped pry open Haiti’s market, creating millions of new consumers for U.S. agricultural products like rice, poultry, pork and other products while undermining local agricultural production and changing Haitian eating habits.

Because some 50% to 60% of the population still makes their living in the agricultural sector, these policies have had extremely negative effects on the economy at large. For example, a 2006 study from Christian Aid estimated that 831,900 people had been directly affected by the 1995 lowering of tariffs that once protected Haitian sugar, rice, and chicken.

Haiti now imports at least 50% of its food, mostly from the U.S., and has become the second most important importer of U.S. rice on the planet. (Haiti Grassroots Watch HAITI: Aid or Trade? The Nefarious Effects of U.S. Policies, November 6, 2013)

Western NGOs are an imperial tool, writes Ezili Dantò:

The NGOs carry out US imperial policies in Haiti in exchange for “charity funding” – which means, they money launder US tax payer and donor dollars and put it in their pockets. US imperial policies is about destroying Haiti manufacturing and local economy, expropriating Haiti natural resources and making a larger Haiti market for their subsidized Wall Street monopolies. (Ezili Dantò, Haiti: US to Re-Write Haiti Constitution to Better Service the One Percent, Black Agenda Report, July 2, 2013)

According to the U.S. government’s own data, the top 5 contractors which received funds related to Haiti in the last 5 years were, indeed, American:

1. Chemonics International Inc (U.S. international development company) $118,961,374

2. Development Alternatives INC. (U.S. consultant firm) $67,703,366

3. Cce/Dfs Inc (U.S. consultant firm) $20,551,722

4. Tetra Tech INC (U.S. consultant, engineering, etc., firm). $16,294,596

5. Pathfinder International (U.S. NGO) $16,036,859

The top 5 recipients of federal funds for Haiti for the same period were:

1. Ministry of Health Haiti $137,751,752

2. United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti $117,111,216

3. New York City Office of Emergency Management $36,912,020

4. Miami City of $35,270,000

5. Miami- Dade Fire Rescue Department $34,070,000

Financing the occupation

Following the Ministry of Health, the most important amount spent by the U.S. in Haiti was on military occupation. In 2013, $117,111,216 was allocated by the U.S. Department of State to the so-called United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), for “peacekeeping activities”.

The MINUSTAH was established June 1st2004 after a coup d’état led by the United States, France and Canada which removed from office the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide, leader of the most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas. Fanmi Lavalas, which has largely dominated in both elections it participated in, was banned from the 2010 election, “won” by the U.S.’ favoured candidate Michel Martelly. Dady Chery explains:

“Clinton and his cronies had began to search for another way to continue their economic stranglehold on the country, and this would include a suitable Haitian President: specifically, one who would be popular with the young but lack patriotism. They found their man in the vulgar musician Michel Martelly. His election became a mere formality after an electoral commission excluded from participation the Fanmi Lavalas party, which commanded 80 percent of the electorate. Observers from Caricom and the Organization of American States (OAS) legitimized the results despite countless irregularities and ballots from only about 20 percent of the electorate. Such are the conditions under which Michel Martelly was (s)elected President of Haiti.” (Chery, op. cit.)

The MINUSTAH’s mandate was extended on October 15, 2014. It should be called an occupation force to reflect its true nature. From the outset its “peacekeeping” operations consisted in political repression of Fanmi Lavalas supporters. It recently fired live bullets on protesters:

During these ten years, MINUSTAH has compiled a horrific record of human rights abuses, including but not limited to extrajudicial murder, an epidemic of sexual assault against Haitian men, women and children, the repression of peaceful political protests, in addition to unleashing cholera through criminal negligence which has caused the death of over 9,000 people and infecting nearly a million more. (Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya and Kevin Edmonds, On October 15, the United Nations Will Fail Haiti Once Again, Global Research, October 14, 2014)

The Haitian Police is also trained by the U.S. private military and security contractor (PMSC) DynCorp.

In April 2013, DynCorp received a $48.6 million contract from the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, for a one-year base period with three one-year options, for the insertion of its trainees into the UN police force in Haiti. (Dady Chery, Reconstitution of Haiti’s Tontons Macoutes and Their Fusion With MINUSTAH, Haiti Chery, December 24, 2014)

Aid money for luxury hotels and new slums

According to the International Organization for Migration, 80,000 people were still living in camps in December 2014, a 92 per cent decrease since the beginning of the crisis when 1,5 million people were homeless. But the organization does not say where those who left the camps went.

One year ago Haiti Grass Roots Watch wrote that 200,000 earthquake victims had left the makeshift camps for “three large new slums called Canaan, Onaville and Jerusalem.” What about the housing projects paid for by generous donations?

Who lives in them? Who runs them? Can the residents afford the rents or mortgages? Are the residents the earthquake victims?

In total, the new housing projects, with homes for at least 3,588 families, cost US$ 88 million, according to government figures. (In contrast, international donors and private agencies spent more than five times that amount – about US$ 500 million – on “temporary shelters” or T-shelters.) …

On July 21 2011, President Martelly, former US President Bill Clinton and then-Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive inaugurated the Housing Exposition: a fair featuring about 60 model homes in Zoranje.

Everyone agrees the Expo was a failure. Few visited the site and fewer still chose one of the model homes – many of which were very expensive by Haitian standards – for their project. (HAITI: Reconstruction’s Housing Projects Still Plagued with Problems Four Years After the Earthquake, Haiti Grassroots Watch January 8, 2013)

While hundreds of thousands of people were still living in makeshift camps, large sums of aid money were dedicated to the construction of luxury hotels. As we reported in 2013:

Now, as 300,000 Haitians are still living in camps, a “new Marriott hotel rising from the rubble in Haiti is getting a $26.5 million financial boost” from the International Financial Corporation (IFC), member of the World Bank Group…

The IFC is part of the World Bank Group. The World Bank has been criticized for previous initiatives like the Project for Participatory Community Development (PRODEP). An eight month investigation by Haiti Grassroots Watch found that PRODEP “helped undermine an already weak state, damaged Haiti’s ‘social tissue,’ carried out what could be called ‘social and political reengineering,’… raised questions of waste and corruption… contributed to Haiti’s growing status as an ‘NGO Republic’… damaged traditional solidarity systems and in some cases even strengthened the power of local elites.” (Julie Lévesque, Haiti “Reconstruction”: Luxury Hotels, Sweat Shops and Deregulation for the Foreign Corporate Elite, Global Research, August 16, 2013)

And in 2012:

As part of the country’s “Reconstruction”, The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund recently invested $2 million in the Royal Oasis Hotel, a deluxe structure to be built in a poverty-stricken metropolitan area “filled with displaced-persons camps housing hundreds of thousands”. (Julie Lévesque, HAITI: Humanitarian Aid for Earthquake Victims Used to Build Five Star Hotels, Global Research, June 28, 2012)

The Royal Oasis, 5 star hotel.

In 2013 it was reported that “Haitians earn less today than they did under the Duvalier dictatorship”. Unless there were any changes within the last year, Haitians who work in the giant Caracol Industrial Park inaugurated in March 2013 end up with a meager US$ 1,36 a day after they paid for food and transportation. If exploitation was not enough, the construction of the giant garment sweatshop kicked farmers off one of the breadbaskets of Haiti when the country is in need of food.

HGW also learned that most of the farmers kicked off their plots to make way for the park are still without land.

“Before, Caracol was the breadbasket of the Northeast department,” said Breüs Wilcien, one of the farmers expelled from the 250-hectare zone. “Right now there is a shortage of some products in the local markets. We are just sitting here in misery.” (The Caracol Industrial Park: Worth the risk? Haiti Grassroots Watch, March 7, 2013)

The anchor tenant of Caracol is Korean apparel manufacturer Sae-A, which provides mass retailers such as Wallmart, and brands including Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen New York, Gap, Zara, Old Navy, H&M.

Haitians have once again been betrayed by the international community:

2015 finds Haitians fighting tooth and nail in renewed political mobilizations to create the nation-building project that big governments and aid agencies pledged but then cruelly betrayed…

[T]he promises of the multi-billion dollar international relief effort and aid which will reach the grassroots have proven largely illusory.

A key admission in the months following the earthquake was that democratic governance and national sovereignty were essential tools for building Haiti on a new and progressive foundation. Today, the lack of democracy and sovereignty is at the epicenter of the political firestorm sweeping the country. (Travis Ross and Roger Annis, Haiti’s Promised Rebuilding is Unfulfilled as Haitians Challenge Authoritarian Rule, Haïti Liberté  January 7, 2015)

Visit our Haiti in-depth report for more information.

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 Noted Montreal-based author and Foreign Policy critic Yves Engler released his latest book! 

A Propaganda System — How Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation 

A Propaganda System reveals why most Canadians believe their country is a force for good in the world, despite a long history of supporting empire, racism and exploitation. The book details the vast sums Global Affairs Canada, Veterans Affairs and the Department of National Defence spend articulating a one-sided version of Canada’s foreign policy.

With the largest PR machine in the country, the Canadian Forces promotes its worldview through a history department, university, journals, war commemorations, think tanks, academic programs and hundreds of public relations officers.

A Propaganda System traces the long history of government information control during war, including formal censorship, as well as extreme media bias on topics ranging from Haiti to Palestine, investment agreements to the mining industry.

The book also details the corporate elite’s funding for university programs and think tanks.

Written for ordinary Canadians interested in the structures impeding understanding of this country’s role in the world, the book should be of interest to journalists curious about the institutions seeking to “spin” them, development workers dependent on government funds and academics interested in the foreign-policy establishment’s influence on campus.

For more details and updates, please visit yvesengler.com

*     *     *

Book Launch Tour

Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm
Montréal
Concordia University, School of Community and Public Affairs
https://www.facebook.com/events/677601815748854/

Wednesday, October 13, 6 pm
Ottawa
University of Ottawa
85 University, UCU 215D,
https://www.facebook.com/events/279604189104774/ 

Monday, October 17, 5 pm
Montréal
Concordia University, Hall Building
https://www.facebook.com/events/1097568806990704/  

Wednesday, October 19, 7 pm
Hamilton
New Vision United Church 24 Main Street West
https://www.facebook.com/events/165586230557308/

Thursday, October 20 12:30
Hamilton
L8S 4S4, McMaster University Student Centre MUSC 230
http://www.opirg.ca/node/800  

Thursday, October 20, 5:30
Guelph
University of Guelph
https://www.facebook.com/events/333896453625982/  

Friday, October 21, 7 pm
Toronto
Beit Zatoun
http://beitzatoun.org/event/propaganda-system-how-canadas/

Monday, October 24, 2 p.m.
London
University of Western Ontario
Kings College

Tuesday, October 25, 7 p.m.
Windsor
University of Windsor
Oak Room

Wednesday, October 26, 7 pm
Edmonton
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 2-190 (SW corner of 87 Ave & 114 St, U of A Campus)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/supportGPCBDS/595904567248236/ 

Thursday, October 27, 7 p.m.
Calgary
Unitarian Church of Calgary 1703 – 1 Street NW
https://www.facebook.com/events/179044505871750/?active_tab=highlights

Saskatoon, TBA

Tuesday, November 1, TBA
Thunder Bay
Lakehead University

Wednesday, November 2, 7 PM – 9 PM
Winnipeg 

The Hive at the University of Winnipeg

https://www.facebook.com/events/284818511917023/ 

Thursday, November 3, TBA
Regina

Friday, November 4, TBA
Calgary

Saturday, November 5, TBA
Lethbridge

Sunday, November 6, TBA
Nelson

Monday, November 7, TBA
Kelowna

Abbotsford, TBA

Wednesday, November 9, TBA
Vancouver
UBC

Nanaimo, TBA

Monday, November 14, 7 p.m.
Vancouver
SFU Harbour Centre, room 1415

Tuesday, November 15, TBA
Victoria

Wednesday Nov.16, TBA
Victoria

Powell River, TBA

Saturday, November 19, TBA
Vancouver
World Peace Teach in
http://www.peaceforumteachin.org/

Tuesday, November 22, TBA
Ottawa
Octopus Books

The Flu Shot Remains The Most Dangerous Vaccine

October 10th, 2016 by Health Impact News

The US Department of Justice issues a report on vaccine injuries and deaths every quarter to the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (Click on “Meeting Book – PDF – 10.8 MB” for September 3rd meeting). There are 211 cases for vaccine injuries and deaths for the period 5/16/2015 through 8/15/2015.

86 of the settlements were listed in this report, giving the name of the vaccines, the injury, and the amount of time the case was pending before settlement. Three of those settlements were for deaths linked to vaccines, with two deaths related to the flu shot, and one death for the HPV shot. 65 of the 86 settlements were for injuries and deaths due to the flu shot, and the majority of flu shot injuries were for Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

These quarterly reports on vaccine injuries and death settlements from the U.S. vaccine court are seldom, if ever, reported in the mainstream media. We report them here at Health Impact News. Here is the September 3rd, 2015 report:

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Most of the Public is Unaware that there is a Vaccine Court

the-vaccine-court

In November of 2014 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued the first report on America’s “Vaccine Court,” known as the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), in almost 15 years. Most citizens of the United States are not even aware that there is something called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and that if you suffer harm or death due to a vaccine, that you cannot sue the manufacturer of the vaccine, but you must sue the Federal Government and try to obtain compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund,which is funded by taxes paid on vaccines.

This is because Congress gave the pharmaceutical companies immunity against lawsuits for injuries or deaths resulting in vaccines in 1986. Prior to this time, there were so many lawsuits pending against pharmaceutical companies for injuries and deaths due to vaccines, that the pharmaceutical industry basically blackmailed Congress and told them that if they did not grant them legal immunity against the liabilities of vaccines, that they would quit making them. These vaccine products cannot survive in a free market, they are so bad.

The November 2014 GAO report criticized the government for not making the public more aware that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program exists, and that there are funds available for vaccine injuries. Therefore, the settlements represented by vaccine injuries and deaths included in the DOJ report probably represent a small fraction of the actual vaccine injuries and deaths occurring in America today.

Is the US Government Trying to Hide Stats Showing Increase in Vaccine Injuries and Deaths?

The September 3rd, 2015 report published here shows a definite increase in compensations for vaccine injuries from the last report issued on June 4th, 2015, and previous reports before then. You can review previous DOJ reports for vaccine injuries and deaths compensated by the U.S. Government here.

Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, a former CBS Evening News correspondent, recently reported that the government has deleted some vaccine data from their websites.

She wrote:

In March, the federal government removed the latest vaccine injury court statistics—more than a year’s worth of data—from one of its publicly reported charts. It was an abrupt departure from the normal practice of updating the figures monthly.

Wiping the latest data means the “adjudication” chart on a government website no longer reflects the recent, sharp rise in court victories for plaintiffs who claimed their children were seriously injured or killed by one or more vaccines.

Since January of 2014, twice as many victims have won court decisions than the previous eight years combined. In these court decisions, a judge ruled the evidence showed vaccines “more likely than not” caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Also on the rise is the number of vaccine injury cases the government has “conceded”: up 55% in a little over one year.

As a result of the recent website changes, neither of these trends is reflected on the current “adjudication” chart.

Read her full report here:

Recent Rise in Vaccine Victims’ Court Decisions and Concessions Not Reflected in Revised Government Chart

Safety of Flu Shots Not Established

Currently, flu shots are made by multiple drug manufacturers including Flucelvax, FluLaval, Flublok, Fluarix, Afluria, Fluzone, and Fluvirin. Do you know what they all have in common? Each shot listed above states the following on their product insert:

  • Safety and effectiveness have not been established in pregnant women or nursing mothers.”
  • “…has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential.”

Regarding the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine in regards to children, each insert tells a different story. If you are deciding to give a flu shot to your child this year, it is important to understand the safety research, or lack of, for their specific shot.

  • Flubok: “Safety and effectiveness in children 3 years to less than 18 years of age have not been established.”
  • Flucelvax: “Safety and effectiveness have not been established in children less than 18 years of age.”
  • Fluzone: “Safety and effectiveness in children below the age of 6 months have not been established.”
  • Fluvirin: “The safety and immunogenicity have not been established in children under 4 years of age.”
  • FluLaval: “Safety and effectiveness in children younger than 3 years have not been established.”
  • Afluria: “…not approved for use in children less than 5 years of age.”
  • Fluarix: “…not approved for use in children younger than 3 years.”
  • Fluvirin: “The safety and immunogenicity have not been established in children under 4 years of age.”

Safety data and effectiveness for the flu shots and many others are currently unknown and still being tracked as described in each insert category listed above. Any medical professional that insists on injecting you without full disclosure of these facts could face a suspension or loss of their license to practice.

In the video below, Dr. Mark Geier explains the fraud behind the flu vaccine. Dr. Geier is NOT anti-vaccine. He is an M.D. and has a PhD in genetics. He spent 10 years working at the National Institute of Health, and was a professor at Johns Hopkins University as a geneticist. He is also the author of over 150 peer-reviewed publications.

He worked on vaccine safety and efficacy for more than 30 years. He was one of four scientists that worked to replace the DTP vaccine, a vaccine that caused every child to become sick with a high fever at the time of vaccination, with the DTaP vaccine, which is a more purified vaccine and causes illness due to fever in only 3% of those vaccinated.

In the video above, he explains that the flu shot causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and that the flu shot is not very effective in preventing the flu. He also explains that the CDC does not follow the law for vaccines in requiring long-term safety testing for the influenza vaccine like they do with other vaccines, as it is impossible to test a vaccine that changes every year. So the flu vaccine is basically an experimental vaccine that they want to give out to 300 million people every year.

There are also no studies showing the safety of giving the flu vaccine to the same person every single year. However, Dr. Geier points out that the CDC is in the business of distributing flu vaccines, because they represent 300 million doses per year, whereas all the childhood vaccines together only number 20 million.

Dr. Geier goes on to explain that flu is “the wrong thing to vaccinate against” because you have to keep re-vaccinating against it every year, unlike childhood infectious diseases, such as smallpox, that are only vaccinated for once. Dr. Geier points out how ridiculous it is spend billions of dollars on a vaccine that might, at its best, save about 50 lives a year, when there are far more serious problems causing death that are more worthy of that kind of expenditure.

Be informed before you vaccinate, particularly the annual flu vaccine! In general, medical professionals and the federal government cannot be trusted, as they present the extremist position that all vaccines are safe, and they are not a credible source due to their conflicts of interest.

Medical Doctors Opposed to Forced Vaccinations – Should Their Views be Silenced?

One of the biggest myths being propagated in the compliant mainstream media today is that doctors are either pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, and that the anti-vaccine doctors are all “quacks.”

However, nothing could be further from the truth in the vaccine debate. Doctors are not unified at all on their positions regarding “the science” of vaccines, nor are they unified in the position of removing informed consent to a medical procedure like vaccines.

The two most extreme positions are those doctors who are 100% against vaccines and do not administer them at all, and those doctors that believe that ALL vaccines are safe and effective for ALL people, ALL the time, by force if necessary.

Very few doctors fall into either of these two extremist positions, and yet it is the extreme pro-vaccine position that is presented by the U.S. Government and mainstream media as being the dominant position of the medical field.

In between these two extreme views, however, is where the vast majority of doctors practicing today would probably categorize their position. Many doctors who consider themselves “pro-vaccine,” for example, do not believe that every single vaccine is appropriate for every single individual.

Many doctors recommend a “delayed” vaccine schedule for some patients, and not always the recommended one-size-fits-all CDC childhood schedule. Other doctors choose to recommend vaccines based on the actual science and merit of each vaccine, recommending some, while determining that others are not worth the risk for children, such as the suspect seasonal flu shot.

These doctors who do not hold extreme positions would be opposed to government-mandated vaccinations and the removal of all parental exemptions.

In this eBook, I am going to summarize the many doctors today who do not take the most extremist pro-vaccine position, which is probably not held by very many doctors at all, in spite of what the pharmaceutical industry, the federal government, and the mainstream media would like the public to believe.

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Across the country from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, miles of decrepit pot-holed streets give way to a smooth roadway leading up to the gates of the Caracol Industrial Park, but no further.

The fishing hamlet of Caracol, from which the park gets its name, lies around the bend down a bumpy dirt road. Four years after the earthquake that destroyed the country on January 12, 2010, the Caracol Industrial Park is the flagship reconstruction project of the international community in Haiti. Signs adorn nearby roads, mostly in English, declaring the region “Open for Business.” In a dusty field, hundreds of empty, brightly colored houses are under construction in neat rows. If all goes as hoped for by the enthusiastic backers of the industrial park, this area could be home to as many as 300,000 additional residents over the next decade.

Petrocaribe-financed housing development in Morne Cabrit, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Photograph: Jake Johnston

The plan for the Caracol Industrial Park project actually predates the 2010 earthquake. In 2009, Oxford University economist Paul Collier released a U.N.–sponsored reportoutlining a vision for Haiti’s economic future; it encouraged garment manufacturing as the way forward, noting U.S. legislation that gave Haitian textiles duty-free access to the U.S. market as well as “labour costs that are fully competitive with China . . . [due to] its poverty and relatively unregulated labour market.”

The report, embraced by the U.N. and the U.S., left a mark on many of the post-earthquake planning documents. Among the biggest champions of the plan were the Clintons, who played a crucial role in attracting a global player to Haiti. While on an official trip to South Korea as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton brought company officials from one of the largest South Korean manufacturers to the U.S. embassy to sell them on the idea. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, having just appointed Bill Clinton U.N. special envoy to Haiti, tapped connections in his home country, South Korea.

Then suddenly, the earthquake presented an opportunity for the Clintons and the U.N. to fast track their plans. The U.S. government and its premiere aid agency, USAID, formed an ambitious plan to build thousands of new homes, create new industries, and provide new beginnings for those who lost everything in the earthquake. Originally the plan was to build the industrial park near Port-au-Prince. But land was readily available in the North, and the hundreds of small farmers who had to be moved from the park’s site were far less resistant than the wealthy land-owners in the capital. So the whole project moved to the Northern Department, to Caracol. Under the banner of decentralization and economic growth, the Caracol Industrial Park, with the Korean textile manufacturer Sae-A as its anchor tenant, became the face of Haiti’s reconstruction.

Now, only 750 homes have been built near Caracol, and the only major tenant remains Sae-A. New ports and infrastructure have been delayed and plagued by cost overruns. Concerns over labor rights and low wages have muted the celebration of the 2,500 new jobs created. For those who watched pledges from international donors roll in after the earthquake, reaching a total of $10 billion, rebuilding Haiti seemed realistic. But nearly four years later, there is very little to show for all of the aid money that has been spent. Representative Edward Royce (R-CA), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, bluntly commented in October that “while much has been promised, little has been effectively delivered.”

The story of how this came to pass involves more than the problems of reconstruction in a poor country. While bad governance, corruption, incompetent bureaucracy, power struggles, and waste contributed to the ineffective use of aid, what happened in Haiti has more to do with the damage caused by putting political priorities before the needs of those on the ground.

The Housing Crisis and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission

The earthquake decimated Haiti’s housing stock: 100,000 were destroyed and more were damaged. There were $2.3 billion in damages in the housing sector alone, and 1.5 million people left living in makeshift tent camps. Unplanned and unregulated housing construction made Port-au-Prince, with population at least 3 million, extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. In less than a minute, entire shantytown neighborhoods came crashing down.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission was created by the international community to coordinate post-quake aid and align it with Haitian government priorities. Bill Clinton, as the U.N. special envoy and the head of the Commission, was optimistic. “If we do this housing properly,” he affirmed, “it will lead to whole new industries being started in Haiti, creating thousands and thousands of new jobs and permanent housing.”

Like the Caracol Industrial park, the Commission was presented as a response to the devastation of the earthquake. But its basic tenets—and its slogan, “Build Back Better”—were actually agreed upon by the U.S. and U.N. in the year prior. The commission’s formation was handled not by the Haitian government, but by the staff of the Clintons, mainly Cheryl Mills and Laura Graham, as well as a team of U.S.-based private consultants. The commission’s bylaws were drafted by a team from Hogan Lovells, a global law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. A team from McKinsey and Company, a New York based consultancy firm, handled the “mission, mandate, structure and operations” of the commission. Eric Braverman, part of the McKinsey team, later went on to become the CEO of the Clinton Foundation.

According to Jean-Marie Bourjolly, a Haitian member of the commission, the body’s “original sin” lay in concentrating the decision-making power in the Executive Committee of the Board, made up of Bill Clinton and then–Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. In October 2010, just six months after its creation, Bourjolly wrote a memorandum to the co-chairs and the rest of the commission’s board. The note cautioned that by “vesting all powers and authority of the Board in the Executive Committee, it is clear that what is expected of us [the rest of the Board] is to act as a rubber-stamping body.” According to Bourjolly, the memorandum was not included in the official minutes of the October meeting at Clinton’s behest, and the document has remained out of the public sphere. But one former commission employee confirmed the commission’s role: he told me that many projects were approved because “they were submitted by USAID and State” and “that as long as USAID is submitting it and USAID is paying for it,” it should be approved.

Bourjolly also contended that the commission was failing to live up to its mission “to conduct strategic planning, establish investment priorities and sequence implementation of plans and projects.” Rather, Bourjolly wrote, “our action has so far been limited to accepting projects that. . . come our way on a first come, first served basis” and that it would result in “a disparate bunch of approved projects. . . that nonetheless do not address as a whole neither the emergency situation nor the recovery, let alone the development, of Haiti.”

Even the Clintons’ supporters conceded that their staff and the foreign consultants did more harm than good. A Haitian government official, who requested her name be withheld because of the power the Clintons continue to wield in Haiti, commented that “they were lucky to get someone as high-profile and experienced as Clinton” but that the staff “had no idea what Haiti was like and had no sensitivity to the Haitians.” “Out of ignorance, there was much arrogance,” the official said. “And who pays the price? The Haitian people, as always.”

Article 22 of the Haitian constitution enshrines “the right of every citizen to decent housing,” and civil society groups have long advocated for the government to protect this right through large-scale, affordable public housing. But in October 2011, the commission quietly closed its doors. Its eighteen-month mandate was not renewed, and little remained of the grand plans to build thousands of new homes. Instead, those left homeless would be given a small, one-time rental subsidy of about $500. These subsidies, funded by a number of different aid agencies, were meant to give private companies the incentive to invest in building houses. As efforts to rebuild whole neighborhoods faltered, the rental subsidies turned Haitians into consumers, and the housing problem was handed over to the private sector.

The number of displaced persons is down to 200,000 from its 1.5 million peak, according to the U.N. But only 25 percent of that decrease has anything to do with official programs to provide housing. Many were given a paltry subsidy and evicted from their camps. The highest profile and most visible camps were closed down, but those tucked in alleys, out of the view of the convoys of aid workers’ vehicles, remain forgotten. Fifty-five thousand Haitians who moved to areas known as Canaan, Jerusalem, and Onaville were recently removed from the “official” list of Internally Displaced Persons camps. Though those who were pushed out of the camps simply returned to their old homes, the international community claims progress. A USAID–sponsored study from the summer of 2011 estimated that over a million Haitians were occupying damaged homes and that nearly half of them were living in “buildings that might collapse at any moment.” In fact, if another quake happened today, they’d be more likely to die than they were living under tents in clearings.

By September 2013, nearly four years after the earthquake, only 7,500 new homes had been built and 27,000 repaired—an incredibly small achievement when set against the billions of dollars and grand plans put together by the international community in the wake of the catastrophe. “Now, we have a return to the status quo, the same situation that was there before the earthquake, with no coordination and each project done haphazardly,” Gabriel Verret, the former executive director of the commission, said.

USAID’s $33,000 House

While the $500 rental subsidies recommended by the Clinton Commission at the end of its tenure became the preferred form of support by the Haitian government and international community, smaller projects to provide permanent housing that had already been approved by the commission were carried through. In December 2010, the commission’s board had signed off on the U.S. government’s “New Settlements Program,” which called for the construction of 15,000 homes in Port-au-Prince and the North Department, where the new industrial park was to be located.

This June, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report revealing that only 900 of those 15,000 homes had been built. The overall goal has been reduced to 2,600. At the same time, costs increased from $53 million to over $90 million. The GAO found that the program suffered from a fatal flaw: original estimates had drastically low-balled how much the houses would cost. The calculation of 15,000 planned houses was based on an estimate of each costing around $8,000. With the cost of preparing the land, the total cost per house was over $33,000.

USAID assembled a team of shelter experts in August of 2010. The goal, according to Duane Kissick, the head of the shelter planning team, was to put the majority of available resources into the damaged communities. The plan they came back with was simple and meant to be implemented quickly. Jerry Erbach, another member of the Shelter Team, recalled that “there was a good deal of pressure to develop a series of projects very quickly and at low cost in order to meet the needs of those households who became homeless after the earthquake.” The plan was to build homes that were simple, modest and small, but that could expand over time.

The narrative put forth by the Shelter Team experts is confirmed by USAID’s Shelter Sector Activity Approval Document (AAD), which I obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The plan called for construction to be completed by December 2012 and specifically noted that “USAID programs will seek wherever possible to work with local partners.” A USAID-funded study by the International Housing Coalition recommended the same thing, noting that “wherever possible, USAID should utilize Haitian construction contractors.” Letting local companies or individuals handle the work means more money for Haiti, its economy, and its people. It’s also cheaper, and has worked in the past.

Food for the Poor, an NGO that has worked in Haiti for decades, utilizes small local construction teams to build 1,000 homes each year at a cost of just $6,400 each. Brad Johnson, the president of Mission of Hope, another NGO working in Haiti, told the New York Times, “We’re not one of the big groups that sit in Washington, D.C., and get the financing. . . But we’re managing to get it done for $6,000 a house. I don’t understand, for all the money that came into Haiti, why there aren’t houses everywhere.”

But the recommendations for using local contractors and the plan to build $8,000 homes were ignored. More international companies were brought in, additional studies were undertaken, and the first contract to actually build a house was not awarded until April of 2012, nearly two and half years after the quake and eight months after the project was approved. The contracts ended up going not to small local companies but to large international ones. Thor Construction, based in Minnesota, received $18 million, and CEMEX, a Mexican company, got over $7 million. Another $35 million went to two Haitian-American firms based in Maryland for environmental assessments, construction management, site preparation, and other associated projects.

Outsourcing the construction drove the price up, since international companies had to fly in, rent hotels and cars, and spend USAID allowances for food and cost-of-living expenses. To incentivize working in Haiti, the U.S. government also gave contractors and employees “danger pay” and “hardship pay,” increasing their salaries by over 50 percent. With all these costs included in contracts, it’s not hard to see how prices ballooned. Bill Vastine, a long-time contractor and member of the Shelter Team, said, “if the American people saw the true cost of this, they’d say ‘you’ve got to be out of your mind.’” The changing priorities undermined any cohesion in the program.

With 200,000 still homeless and hundreds of thousands more living in grossly inadequate and often structurally unsound buildings, the 900 homes that USAID has built won’t go very far. No current USAID employees agreed to speak about the project on the record, despite repeated requests for comment. In remarks before Congress, USAID administrator Beth Hogan stated that “we were significantly off in terms of what our original estimates were. . . when we got back bids from offerers who were going to actually build these homes. . . the estimates increased even further.”

The Shelter Team also initially planned to build two-thirds of the homes in the Port-au-Prince area. But this has changed: the current plan is to build 75 percent of the homes in the Northern Department of Haiti, all within 13 miles of the new industrial park. Many USAID staffers on the ground wanted to focus on Port-au-Prince, where the damage was greatest. But the State Department had made a commitment to building houses in the North, in support of the Caracol Industrial Park.

The State Department’s political intervention in the project also delayed the process of getting people into the houses that did manage to get built. According to Erbach, who also worked with an international NGO assisting the Haitian Government in selecting households to benefit from the new housing, pressure from the Department of State led to a “significant amount of time and effort being wasted on identifying and vetting workers from the industrial park who were not IDPs.” The internal shelter AAD warned that “if the process is perceived as inequitable, opaque, or led by the United States, the [government] will appear to be ‘choosing winners,’ resulting in political problems.” As Vastine describes it: “Every agency has its own little fiefdom, their own little budgets to protect and their own cadre of people they protect and they don’t work well together; there is no cohesiveness with our own internal bureaucracy in the United States, much less with everything else that’s here, from all the other countries.”

Speaking before Congress, USAID Administrator Hogan conceded that, “what we realized as we were going into this. . . is that new homes isn’t [sic] the solution for Haiti.” USAID is now officially out of the home-building business in Haiti.

As for the 750 houses under construction in Caracol, as the four-year mark comes and goes, the first families are just now starting to move in. Meanwhile, back in Haiti’s capital, at least 200,000 quake victims face another year living under tattered tarps.

Too Big to Fail

Over the last twenty years, the American foreign aid system, much like the military, has become increasingly reliant on private contractors. From 1990 to 2008, USAID experienced a 40 percent decline in staff while funds under their responsibility skyrocketed. A 2008 report from the American Academy of Diplomacy found that “implementation of programs has shifted from Agency employees to contractors and grantees and USAID lacks . . . [the] capacity to provide effective oversight and management.” In her Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said “I think it’s fair to say that USAID, our premier aid agency, has been decimated. . . It’s turned into more of a contracting agency than an operational agency with the ability to deliver.” Billions have been shifted to private corporations and NGOs. Many of those who actually implement foreign aid projects are explicitly for-profit companies, but even top employees at some USAID-funded non-profits earn over $300,000 a year.

Before he became head of the recovery commission, Bill Clinton urged those working in Haiti to ask, “Are we helping [the Haitian people] to become more self-sufficient? Are we building infrastructure in local development plans? Are we creating local jobs? Are we paying salaries for teachers, doctors, nurses, police, civil servants? Are we giving money to support government agencies that provide those services?”

The answers to these questions would seem to be mainly in the negative. In Haiti, a report(which I co-authored) at the Center for Economic and Policy Research revealed that less than 1 percent of the more than $1.3 billion in assistance provided by USAID was awarded directly to Haitian companies or organizations. USAID awarded more money to one Washington D.C.-based for-profit contractor, Chemonics, than to the entire Haitian government since the earthquake.

Haiti is not unique; these problems erode U.S. aid across the globe. A revolving door between NGOs, development companies, and the U.S. government has entrenched the system so deeply that any movement for change will be long and difficult. Fortunately, development agencies are slowly realizing that aid goes much further when more of it stays in the local economy. For its part, USAID has launched an ambitious reform program called “USAID Forward,” which aims to totally overhaul the procurement system, working directly with local institutions.

USAID Administrator Beth Hogan told Congress that in Haiti, the United States is “trying to reach 17 percent of our overall budget to be channeled through local institutions.” But already, for-profit development companies have formed a lobbying group and hired the influential, Democratic party-linked, Podesta Group to get their message out. Their selling point: foreign companies are harder to hold accountable. It’s an argument that rings hollow when you realize that not a single USAID awardee, NGO, or for-profit has been suspended or reprimanded publically for their work in Haiti, despite all the high-profile failures.

The failure of Haiti’s reconstruction is, sadly, another chapter in a long history of poverty perpetuated by outside powers. Bureaucracy, internecine quarrels, moneyed lobbying, waste and inefficiency—these are not monopolies of poor, “developing” countries such as Haiti. They are the problems of the United States and its foreign aid complex.

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Fifteen Years of Occupation: Afghanistan Since the Invasion

October 10th, 2016 by Michael Skinner

7 October 2016 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Many Western leaders claimed the invasion, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom, was a humanitarian intervention to liberate Afghans and especially Afghan women and girls from the brutal Taliban regime. However, the evidence demonstrates the results have been anything but humane or liberating.

The people truly liberated by the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan are the wealthy investors in the military-industrial complex and those betting on successfully extracting Afghan resources and developing the infrastructure of the New Silk Road.

The Failure of Humanitarian Intervention

Civilian casualties: Perhaps the crudest measure of the failure of the humanitarian intervention in Afghanistan is to count the growing number of civilian casualties. Mysteriously, no official agency actually counted Afghan civilian casualties prior to 2009; consequently, civilian casualty figures from 2001 to 2009 really are anybody’s guess. Literally, countless numbers of Afghans were killed or maimed during the invasion and ensuing occupation.

The UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) only began counting civilian casualties in 2009 recording a trend of increasing numbers ever since. In the first half of 2016, 5166 civilians were killed or maimed – almost a third of these were children.

The total civilian casualties recorded by UNAMA from 1 January 2009 to 30 June 2016 is 63,934, including 22,941 killed and 40,993 injured. UNAMA states: “The figures are conservative – almost certainly underestimates – given the strict methodology employed in their documentation and in determining the civilian status of those affected.”

Anti-government forces account for 60 per cent of civilian casualties; nonetheless, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, argues:

“Parties to the conflict must cease the deliberate targeting of civilians and the use of heavy weaponry in civilian-populated areas. There must be an end to the prevailing impunity enjoyed by those responsible for civilian casualties – no matter who they are.”

The consequences for Afghans have been devastating. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights observes:

“The family that lost a breadwinner, forcing the children to leave school and struggle to make ends meet; the driver who lost his limbs, depriving him of his livelihood; the man who went to the bazaar to shop for his children only to return home to find them dead; the broken back and leg that has never been treated because the family cannot afford the cost of treatment; the parents who collected their son’s remains in a plastic bag… In just the past six months, there have been at least 5,166 such stories – of which one-third involve the killing or maiming of children, which is particularly alarming and shameful” (UNAMA 25 July 2016).

Refugees: Another crude measure of the failure of the humanitarian intervention is to count refugees in what is a growing refugee crisis 15 years after the invasion. But, like civilian casualties, no official agency counted refugee numbers throughout most of the occupation.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) conditions deteriorated in 2015 with renewed fighting causing the internal displacement of 245,000 Afghans in the first half of 2016 swelling the number of internally displaced persons to more than 1.2 million.

The UNHCR observes that an estimated 1.5-2 million undocumented Afghans refugees live in the Islamic Republic of Iran and another million in Pakistan. Western media has recently focussed almost exclusively on Syrian refugees, but the UNHCR documents that, since 2015, Afghans have constituted the second largest group of refugees arriving in Europe (UNHCR 23 Sept. 2016).

The Failure to Liberate Afghan Women and Girls

Western media and even many Western women’s organizations continue to portray Afghan women as passive victims who needed intervention by a military force to liberate them from a misogynistic regime. However, many women I met in Afghanistan argue the ongoing war impedes their own struggles for liberation.

Prior to the invasion, Afghan women were focussed on resisting the misogynistic policies of the Taliban regime in the South as much as on those of the United Islamic Federation aka Northern Alliance in the North. Since the invasion, however, women’s energies are often redirected to merely surviving or attempting to escape warfare. Moreover, installing the misogynistic regime of the United Islamic Federation aka Northern Alliance in power to replace the misogynistic Talib regime changed little for Afghan women. Some argue this regime change actually legitimated misogyny.

One women’s activist I met in Afghanistan used the example of women in Iran to make her point. Indeed the regime that seized power in Iran in 1979 was one of the most brutally misogynistic imaginable. But Iranian women resisted the regime to the extent that today they enjoy some of the best conditions in the Islamic world – certainly conditions significantly better than those suffered by Saudi women, despite the irony of unwavering Western support of the Saudi regime.

Some Western feminists continue to focus on what clothing Afghan women choose to wear, but arguments about the burqa and hijab are red-herrings. These are not the real issues facing Afghan women confronted with far greater problems.

Violence against women: A recent UNAMA study finds that while the new legal framework of Afghanistan criminalizes violence against women, in reality numerous factors block women’s access to justice. (UNAMA April 2015)

I have found no documentary evidence to show violence against women is less of a problem today in Afghanistan than it was prior to the invasion.

Health and welfare: Afghanistan has by far the worst infant mortality rate in the world at 112.8 deaths per 1000 live births, one of the worst maternal mortality rates, at 460 deaths per 100,000 live births, and the third worst life expectancy at 51.3 years. These horrific health statistics are not surprising considering that even the basics of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities still remain inaccessible to large numbers of Afghans 15 years after the invasion. Moreover access to healthcare is extremely limited with only 0.27 doctors per 1000 Afghans (CIA World Factbook 2016).

Forty-three per cent of Afghans still do not have electricity, which disproportionately affects women and girls in a traditional culture in which they are burdened with water collection, food preparation, and cleaning (CIA World Factbook 2016).

Afghan women focussed entirely on caring for their families in these conditions have little time and energy left for organizing resistance against a misogynistic regime.

Education for girls: Throughout the occupation, numerous reports have cited encouraging statics claiming millions of Afghan girls are attending school. Unfortunately, inflated enrolment statistics do not reflect the reality that vast numbers of Afghan girls as well as boys do not have access to education. There have been modest improvements in some areas, but overall access to education remains a dream for vast numbers of Afghan children, especially girls. The female literacy rate remains at 25.3 per cent (CIA World Factbook 2016).

The failure of the humanitarian mission to liberate Afghan women and girls might be chalked up to bad planning and overall incompetence. But the more plausible explanation is that the humanitarian-liberation mission has never been a priority – this mission is a politically acceptable façade for the geostrategic mission to liberate capital.

The Success of Liberating Capital

Since George Bush declared the beginning of the Global War of Terror on 20 September 2001, the cost to the United States to date is $4.79-trillion (U.S.) (Crawford Sept. 2016). The costs to the other NATO and coalition states would undoubtedly add many more hundreds of billions of dollars to this figure.

This unfathomable sum is a cost to taxpayers, but it is a profitable return on investment for investors in the military-industrial complex. Rather than money lost, it is in fact money liberated from public coffers to be transferred to the private pockets of a few wealthy investors.

Extracting Afghan Resources: In 1808, Captain Alexander Burns of the British East India Company led a team of surveyors into Afghanistan in an attempt to exploit its resources ahead of Russian competitors. However, Burn’s paramilitary expedition had greater success in propelling the British East India Company into the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1839-42.

Another captain of the British East India Company, Henry Drummond conducted surveys during the First Anglo-Afghan War. Drummond wrote that the company’s paramilitary invasion of Afghanistan would not be perceived as an “act of aggression” because the reorganization of the existing system of Afghan mine management and improvements in the working conditions of Afghan miners would lead to an “era of peace, prosperity, and of permanent tranquility in Afghanistan.”

Also during that war, the British envoy to Kabul, Sir W.H. Macnaughten, wrote that developing Afghanistan’s resources would employ the “wild inhabitants… reclaim them from a life of lawless violence” and increase the wealth of Afghans as it increased the wealth of the British East Asia Company.

Despite fighting three wars in Afghanistan, (1839-42, 1878-80, 1919) the British could not establish control over Afghan territory to develop resource extraction operations.

A Soviet surveyor, Vladimir Obruchev, published a detailed geological report in 1927. The Obruchev depression in the natural-gas rich Amu Darya Basin still bears his name. Then in the early 1930s, the Afghan government granted the American Inland Oil Company a 25 year concession to oil and mineral exploration rights, but the company soon backed out of its agreement.

Following the Second World War, the Afghan government sought technical and financial assistance from American, European, Czech, and Soviet sources often pitting First-World and Second-World surveyors against one another. By the 1970s more than 700 geological reports indicated that a vast wealth of resources awaited exploitation.

From the 1970s to the 1990s Afghans derived much of their foreign exchange from natural gas sales to the USSR.

Thus, following the 2001 invasion, a first order of business was for the U.S. and British Geological Surveys to conduct extensive exploration with the assistance of the Canadian Forces Mapping and Charting Establishment.

In 2010, New York Times journalist James Risen broke the news that Afghanistan contains a vast wealth of natural resources. Risen’s claim that U.S. geologists merely “stumbled across” some old surveys to make their discovery seems somewhat disingenuous considering the long history of foreign interest in Afghan resources.

If the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom invasion of 2001 accomplished nothing else, it secured the freedom for foreign investors to profit from extracting Afghanistan’s resource wealth. The occupation forces destroyed the last vestiges of Afghanistan’s poorly developed and badly broken state enterprise system.

The U.S. Department of State reported in 2010 that Afghanistan “has taken significant steps toward fostering a business-friendly environment for both foreign and domestic investment.” Afghanistan’s new investment law allows 100 per cent foreign ownership and provides generous tax allowances to foreign investors without protections for Afghan workers or the environment.

The strategic value of Afghanistan’s rich resources rests, nevertheless, more in their catalytic potential to attract investors to the region than these resources actual use or market values. Whether these investors are American, Chinese, Russian, Indian, British, Canadian or anyone else matters little, provided they invest within the rubric of the American led global capitalist regime. More importantly, investments in resource development are an essential catalyst to develop the infrastructure of the New Silk Road.

The New Silk Road and the Regime of Global Free Trade

Influential geostrategists have argued since the collapse of the USSR that the nation that dominates trade in Eurasia will dominate the globe. The shortest routes between China and Europe, as well as between India and Russia, pass through Afghanistan. Railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, electrical transmission lines, and fibre-optic cables will inevitably criss-cross Afghanistan to connect Eurasia. As in previous imperial ages, the empire that achieves primacy is the one that, among other aspects of power, establishes itself as builder, protector, and arbiter of trade routes.

During the past half millennia of the emergence of capitalism, empires expanded in the pursuit of various commodities – spices, fish, furs, indigo, cotton, rubber, and gold among many others. The strategic importance of various resources wax and wane with changes in technology or even the whim of consumers. Nonetheless, what remains as a constant is the growth of the physical transportation, energy transmission, and communications networks as well as the less tangible but no less real political-legal-economic infrastructure of empire. Geostrategists recognize that building this infrastructure of dominance is ultimately more important to securing power than merely acquiring specific resources.

Consequently, on 20 July 2011, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced the New Silk Road strategy. She stated the U.S. and its partners will build a New Silk Road across Central Asia including Afghanistan as an “international web and network of economic and transit connections.” “That means,” Clinton said, “building more rail lines, highways, energy infrastructure … upgrading the facilities at border crossings … and removing the bureaucratic barriers to the free flow of goods and people.” She also stated: “It means casting aside the outdated trade policies that we are living with and adopting new rules for the 21st century.”

The new rules Clinton refers to are the political-legal-economic infrastructure of an empire of capital. A primary objective of the geostrategists plotting the emergence of an American led empire of capital is to globalize this political-legal-economic infrastructure – the regime of capitalist social relations.

The value of Afghanistan’s resource wealth lies then not only in its actual use or market values, but also in its value to catalyze expanding the physical and the less tangible but no less real political-legal-economic infrastructure of an American led empire of capital.

Despite the fact George Bush declared a Global War on Terror on 20 September 2001, many perceive the battles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, the lesser-known military operations in Haiti, the Philippines, the Horn of Africa and Latin America, the never-ending battles in Palestine, as well as the many worldwide covert operations of U.S. and allied Special Forces as separate individual wars. However, all these struggles are interrelated battles of one global war.

The primary objective of this global war is regime change. However, this is not regime change in the sense of 20th century history when a ‘bad’ ruler would be replaced by a ‘good’ or perhaps ‘less bad’ ruler, or even a ruler we really cannot abide but who might at least stave off chaos. This is, instead, a deliberate pogrom of fundamental regime change with the objective to destroy whatever socioeconomic order existed before, whether socialist, or Talib, or Ba’athist, or any variety of traditional tribal communitarian society.

The claim that this global war is about eliminating terrorism, promoting democracy, or in the case of Afghanistan liberating women provides politically acceptable façades to legitimate the primary objective of creative destruction – the destruction of any preceding socioeconomic system to be replaced by the capitalist social order.

This is a multi-generational pogrom. The NATO states are currently committed to maintaining military forces in Afghanistan until 2024 to secure an “Enduring Partnership” (NATO 2014).

Considering that pacification of the many Peoples of the western territories of the U.S. took more than a century, this is likely just a beginning.

The enduring legacy of the Operation Enduring Freedom invasion that began 7 October 2001 is that Afghans – for both better and worse – are left to endure the freedom of investors to dictate the future of Afghanistan. •

Michael Skinner is a researcher, human rights and peace activist, musician and composer. He has conducted research projects in Afghanistan in 2007 and in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011. This article was published online 7 October 2016 at Michael Skinner Research and is reprinted here with his permission.

Sources:

This essay also includes updated segments from:

  • Skinner, Michael. “Liberating Afghanistan? Global War and the Battle for Afghanistan” In Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope (eds.) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
  • Skinner, Michael. “Afghanistan from Barrier to Bridgehead: Rare Earth Elements and the New Silk Road.” In Ryan Kiggins (ed.) The Political Economy of Rare Earth Elements: Rising Powers and Technological Change. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
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