UN General Assembly Recognises Health Risks from Depleted Uranium

December 6th, 2016 by International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

The UN General Assembly has backed a new resolution on DU weapons by 151 votes to 4. The resolution, which highlights the ongoing concerns of affected states and communities, health experts and civil society over the potential health risks from DU exposure, is the sixth to be adopted since 2007. The text also recognises that countries affected by the use of DU weapons face considerable technical and financial barriers in dealing with DU contamination to internationally recognised radiation protection standards.

“While we welcome the fact that governments have finally acknowledged that those affected by the use of DU weapons have serious concerns over the risks they pose, we have seen little to suggest that states are willing to act,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Resolutions alone will not clear land or assist communities, and it is high time that governments commit to delivering clear obligations that tackle the post-conflict legacy of DU weapons.”

Although an overwhelming majority of states vote in favour of the resolutions, a minority still abstain. Around half are EU members, all of whom have been urged to vote in favour by the European Parliament. Germany, which supported the resolutions until 2014, has been singled out for particular criticism over its efforts to weaken the resolution’s language and encourage others to abstain. Meanwhile, hopes were high this year that Canada would vote in favour for the first time. In opposition Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party had been publicly opposed to DU weapons but this policy appears to have been quietly dropped in government.

As usual, the resolution was opposed only by the US, UK, France and Israel. Unusually, Montenegro, which voted in favour in the first round of voting in November abstained in the later plenary vote. Similarly South Sudan, which didn’t vote in November voted in the second round, abstaining for the first time. ICBUW will check to confirm that both Sudan and Montenegro’s votes were intentional.

The first round of voting on the resolution came just days after the US confirmed that it had used DU in Syria, sparking parliamentary interest in several of the countries that are part of the Operation Inherent Resolve military coalition, including Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the UK. Russia appeared to delight in the propaganda value of the disclosure, although as it has its own stocks of DU weapons, once again abstained on the resolution.

UN’s Sixth Committee debates principle on toxic remnants of war

In a move that could have ramifications for the development of post-conflict obligations for DU clearance, the toxic and hazardous remnants of war were also on agenda of the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee. While the DU resolution was being dealt with by the General Assembly’s First Committee, its Sixth Committee, which considers legal matters, was debating the legal principles that should govern the protection of the environment after armed conflicts.

draft principle on the management of toxic remnants of war that was proposed by the International Law Commission was backed by a number of states, although the US, Israel and the Netherlands registered objections to any attempt to expand the definition of remnants of war beyond explosive remnants of war. Two other principles, on post-conflict remedial measures and on information sharing were also on the agenda, both of which could help inform DU clearance practice in future.

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No alla «riforma» bellicista

December 6th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

La maggioranza degli italiani, sfidando i poteri forti schierati con Renzi, ha sventato il suo piano di riforma anticostituzionale. Ma perché ciò possa aprire una nuova via al paese, occorre un altro fondamentale No: quello alla «riforma»  bellicista che ha scardinato l’Articolo 11, uno dei pilastri basilari della nostra Costituzione. Le scelte economiche e politiche interne, tipo quelle del governo Renzi bocciate dalla maggioraza degli italiani, sono infatti indissolubilmente legate a quelle di politica estera e militare. Le une sono funzionali alle altre. Quando giustamente ci si propone di aumentare la spesa sociale, non si può ignorare che l’Italia brucia nella spesa militare 55 milioni di euro al giorno (cifra fornita dalla Nato, in realtà più alta). Quando giustamente si chiede che i cittadini abbiano voce nella politica interna, non si può ignorare che essi non hanno alcuna voce nella politica estera, che continua ad essere orientata verso la guerra.

Mentre era in corso la campagna referendaria, è passato sotto quasi totale silenzio l’annuncio fatto agli inizi di novembre dall’ammiraglio Backer della U.S. Navy: «La stazione terrestre del Muos a Niscemi, che copre gran parte dell’Europa e dell’Africa, è operativa».

Realizzata dalla General Dymanics – gigante Usa dell’industria bellica, con fatturato annuo di 30 miliardi di dollari – quella di Niscemi è una delle quattro stazioni terrestri Muos (le altre sono in Virginia, nelle Hawaii e in Australia). Tramite i satelliti della Lockheed Martin – altro gigante Usa dell’industria bellica con 45 miliardi di fatturato – il Muos collega alla rete di comando del Pentagono sottomarini e navi da guerra, cacciabombardieri e droni, veicoli militari e reparti terrestri in movimento, in qualsiasi parte del mondo si trovino. L’entrata in operatività della stazione Muos di Niscemi potenzia la funzione dell’Italia quale trampolino di lancio delle operazioni militari Usa/Nato verso Sud e verso Est, nel momento in cui gli Usa si preparano a installare sul nostro territorio le nuove bombe nucleari B61-12. Passato sotto quasi totale silenzio, durante la campagna referendaria, anche il «piano per la difesa europea» presentato da Federica Mogherini: esso prevede l’impiego di gruppi di battaglia, dispiegabili entro dieci giorni fino a 6 mila km dall’Europa. Il maggiore, di cui l’Italia è «nazione guida», ha effettuato, nella seconda metà di novembre, l’esercitazione «European Wind 2016» in provincia di Udine. Vi hanno partecipato 1500 soldati di Italia, Austria, Croazia, Slovenia e Ungheria, con un centinaio di mezzi blindati e molti elicotteri.

Il gruppo di battaglia a guida italiana, di cui è stata certificata la piena capacità operativa, è pronto ad essere dispiegato già da gennaio in «aree di crisi» soprattutto nell’Europa orientale. A scanso di equivoci con Washington, la Mogherini ha precisato che ciò «non significa creare un esercito europeo, ma avere più cooperazione per una difesa più efficace in piena complementarietà con la Nato», in altre parole che la Ue vuole accrescere la sua forza militare restando sotto comando Usa nella Nato (di cui sono membri 22 dei 28 paesi dell’Unione).

Intanto, il segretario generale della Nato Stoltenberg  ringrazia il neo-eletto presidente Trump per «aver sollevato la questione della spesa per la difesa», precisando che «nonostante i progressi compiuti nella ripartizione del carico, c’è ancora molto da fare». In altre parole, i paesi europei della Nato dovranno addossarsi una spesa militare molto maggiore. I 55 milioni di euro, che paghiamo ogni giorno per il militare, presto aumenteranno. Ma su questo non c’è referendum.

Manlio Dinucci

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The terrorists used precision fire on the Russian Defense Ministry mobile hospital in Syria’s Aleppo, they definitely had its exact coordinates, the Kremlin spokesman said Tuesday.

“Of course, it was precision fire. It confirmed the fact that the militants who shelled [the Russian Defense Ministry mobile hospital in Aleppo] had the exact coordinates,” Dmitry Peskov said.

Moreover, Russia would like to see a more accountable stance on the Aleppo hospital shelling from its Western partners.

“We regret that in fact Russia alone is trying to provide humanitarian aid to the civilians who’re leaving eastern Aleppo trying to escape militant captivity. We would welcome a much more accountable position from our Western partners on this issue,” Peskov said.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that alleged Syrian opposition militants had shelled a Russian military hospital killing a combat medic and injuring two others in Aleppo. One of the injured later also succumbed to her wounds.

“Beyond any doubt, militants of the ‘opposition’ were the ones firing. We understand, from whom the militants received accurate data and coordinates of the Russian hospital admission department,” he said.

The military official pointed out that the responsibility for killing and wounding medics, who were providing aid to Aleppo children, lied not only on those who opened fire.

“The blood of our servicemen is also on the hands of those who ordered the killing … On you, patrons of terrorists from the United States, Great Britain, France and other sympathizing countries,” Konashenkov said. Later he said that those who shelled the Russian hospital in Aleppo and those who ordered the shelling must be held equally responsible. Konashenkov also called on the international community to condemn the attack.

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Russia and China have vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which would have mandated a seven-day ceasefire in Syria’s Aleppo.

On Monday, Russia stated that a truce would only permit the militants to regroup and that the subject requires further talks between Moscow and Washington.

The resolution, drafted by New Zealand, Egypt and Spain, was also blocked by Venezuela, while Angola abstained from voting with the remaining 11 members voting in its favor.

“These kinds of pauses have been used by fighters to reinforce their ammunition and to strengthen their positions and this will only worsen the suffering of civilians,” said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent envoy to the UN.

“The draft resolution contradicts the work of the Council because it was put in a late time today, and it is not possible to vote on it before tomorrow, in addition there was no consensus on this issue,” he added.

He noted the draft resolution also contradicts upcoming talks between Russian and American experts aimed at removal of all militants from eastern Aleppo.

“The draft resolution put for voting today didn’t include any talk about the exit of gunmen from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, but about an immediate ceasefire, thus, it will be left ten days for the gunmen to mobilize their forces and re-organize their ranks,” he said.

Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari said that the draft resolution had been an attempt by Western countries to support the militants in Aleppo.

He noted that the US, France and Britain, who all voted for the resolution, were turning a blind eye towards the suffering of civilians in Aleppo by supporting the terrorists.

He further vowed that the Syrian army would continue to battle the terrorists until they are all destroyed.

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This may very well be the bribe of the century.

Instead of helping EU citizens suffering from years of austerity, poverty and misery, the EU oligarchs ruling in Brussels prefer to give EU cash on hand to Al Qaeda and ISIS Wahhabi terrorists.

Yesterday The Duran reported on EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, issuing a warning that the fall of Aleppo will not end the war in Syria.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs was quoted by ITV during a conference in Rome saying…

“I’m convinced the fall of Aleppo will not end the war.”

The Times UK is now reporting that the EU is preparing a sinister offer to Assad, which will be the EU’s special way to “end the war” in Syria, while preserving the huge financial investment the EU globalists committed to funding and training jihadists to overthrow the Assad government.

RT reports on the EU bribe to save Al Qaeda…

The EU is reportedly planning to offer Damascus financial aid in exchange for allowing rebel forces stay in power in some regions of Syria. Brussels is no longer insisting on the retirement of Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to the Times.

The new proposals from the EU were voiced by its foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, at a meeting with opposition leaders two weeks ago, the British newspaper reported. They reflect developments on the ground, as the Syrian Army has scored several victories and is about to take complete control over Aleppo.

A source close to the western-backed Syrian opposition (aka Al Qaeda) told The Times…

“What Mogherini wanted to do was present an EU plan – this is how to solve the conflict.”

“There’s a transition, but the details are vague. In return, if all sides agree and everyone does what the EU says, there’s a huge pot of money.”

RT reports further…

“Political transition” is a term used by all foreign stakeholders in the Syrian conflict to describe an end to hostilities and the forming of a new system of governance in the country, though various parties have vastly different views on what that transition would look like.

The rebels have for years insisted that the transition must include the ousting of Bashar Assad, while their western backers have repeated the mantra “Assad must go.” But the latest European plan no longer mentions the president’s future, the report said.

Brussels now consents to Assad remaining head of the Syrian government, but wants a “devolution of power to Syria’s provinces, which would allow for ‘moderate rebel’ forces to be integrated into local security forces.”

The EU is willing to offer financial aid to both the Syrian government and the rebels to sweeten the deal, the Times said. The report suggested that paying Damascus is preferable to dealing with the continued exodus of Syrian refugees to the EU, which is “contributing to electoral chaos across the continent” and “destroying Europe’s political fabric.”

To summarize. The bankrupt EU is ready to pay Assad money if he gives Al Qaeda autonomy in various parts of Syria.

We are certain that Al Qaeda’s autonomous regions will never try to overthrow the Damascus government. We are also certain that Saudi Arabia, the US, Turkey, and the EU will stop pouring weapons and cash into this Al Qaeda protectorate.

And the real win for the EU…no more migrants pouring into Europe. Mogherini is really onto something here. Its a real win-win for the entire region and continent of Europe (sarcasm folks).

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Listening to the media, you would think that yesterday’s Italian referendum results were yet another victory of right-wing populism against democracy. The situation, however, is much more complex than this, and the No victory is a victory for democracy and for the defense of social rights worth celebrating.

The constitutional reform proposed by Matteo Renzi’s government was politically illegitimate in its method and antidemocratic in its content. The current parliament was selected with an electoral law that has been judged as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. Moreover, Renzi’s government was created after he managed to hijack the Democratic Party (PD), marginalizing its left and the former majority by secretly organizing a “No” vote in the parliament against the presidential candidate — Romano Prodi — put forward by the PD leadership.

Finally, Renzi adopted disgraced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s style in putting forward the constitutional reform, by not trying to reach a large consensus across the parliamentary spectrum, but rather using institutional tricks to block parliamentary discussion, to the point that the opposition decided not to participate in the vote on the reform, in protest. As for the content, this constitutional reform was the last of a long series of attempts at revising the constitution in direction of stronger executive power and at the expense of democratic representation.

The Italian people rejected a previous attempt by Berlusconi in 2006, when the center-right government tried to pass a presidentialist reform of the constitution. But this is a much older story, which began already in the postwar era. The constitution of 1948 was the outcome of a compromise between the three main forces of the antifascist resistance: the Christian Democrats, the Italian Communist Party, and the liberal-socialist Action Party.

However, a sector of the Italian political class has never accepted the democratic liberties and the egalitarian principles espoused by the 1948 constitution. This story of attacks on the constitution continued in the last decades of the twentieth century with various attempts at changing the constitution and with increasingly antidemocratic reforms of the electoral law passed by parliament with the support of center-left forces.

In order to explain the outcome of this referendum, which saw a massive turnout of 67 percent and No winning with almost 60 percent of the votes, one has to look at the convergence of multiple factors. Forces across the political spectrum opposed the reform for different reasons. On the Left, the measure was challenged by the CGIL, the country’s biggest union; by the left of the Democratic Party, including its former secretary; by the National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI); by the whole radical left, including left unions, social coalitions, students’ organizations, and the various networks of occupied spaces; and by a number of prominent left-leaning constitutional law experts such as Gustavo Zagrebelsky. The arguments ranged from the defense of democratic representation and popular sovereignty against the principle of governability to the opposition to Renzi’s aggressively neoliberal political project, of which the constitutional reform is only a portion.

On the Right, the reform was opportunistically opposed by the xenophobic Northern League, by the right-wing nationalist party Fratelli d’Italia, by neo-fascist forces such as Casa Pound and Forza Nuova, and — reluctantly — by Berlusconi. The reason for the mainstream right’s opposition is rather clear: as Renzi highly personalized the vote on the constitutional reform and linked the destiny of his government to the outcome of the referendum, the currently disorganized and fragmented right saw it as an opportunity to get rid of the government and start a process that may allow them to regroup and be competitive again.

Finally, the Five Star Movement, a catch-all populist movement with highly contradictory positions, resisted the constitutional reform all the way through the parliamentary debate, protesting at every turn against the violation of the most basic parliamentary rules by the government. The reasons for their position combined both a defense of parliamentary democracy’s rules and the ambition to overtake the PD as Italy’s principal party.

The impressive defeat of Renzi’s project will most likely begin a period of confusion and instability. Liberal fears about this, however, entirely miss the point. Over the course of five years, the political forces most linked to European Union interests and projects have carried on a stunning attack on social rights: the technocratic Mario Monti government, supported by the center-left, introduced the obligation of balanced budgets in the constitution, in obedience to the European Treatises, making even moderate Keynesian policies of public spending unconstitutional. That same government also passed a devastating pension reform, part of which has been judged unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.

But it was Renzi’s government that succeeded even where Berlusconi had failed. The worst reforms passed by his government included measures like the Jobs Act, which abolished Article 18 of the Statuto dei Lavoratori, which made impossible for employers to fire a worker without justification, and introduced further forms of casualization of labor; and the reform of the public school system, which significantly strengthened the corporate-style management of schools, gravely affecting work conditions for teachers and the nature of the curricula for students.

Ultimately, Renzi hoped to pass both an antidemocratic constitutional reform combined with a new electoral law that would have established a majority bonus system in the Chamber of Deputies: as an outcome the government would have achieved entire control of the parliament, including control of the times for parliamentary discussion on laws deemed to be part of the government’s program.

It’s worth considering what would have happened if Yes had won. Likely, we would have seen a continued rise of the populist and far right in Italy, fueled by a center-left that has incessantly put forward austerity and neoliberal policies which have significantly worsened the conditions of life of the Italian population, affecting in particular younger people, whose chances of even finding a decent job are nil. (Not by chance, 81 percent of voters between eighteen and thirty-four voted No and Yes won only among voters older than fifty-three.)

If Yes had won, we would have risked ending up with a Five Star Movement or right-wing government with much greater executive powers than the ones currently allowed by the constitution. Not to speak of the majority system bonus’s effects. And even in the case Renzi had managed to secure a majority for the center-left at the next elections, we would have ended up with more neoliberalism and with an even stronger government with no space for effective opposition.

The main motivation behind the No vote was the opposition to the government. But regardless of the diverging motivations behind the No vote, the referendum outcome defended democracy and popular sovereignty, destabilized the political system in a phase in which stability only means further attacks on democratic liberties and social rights, and opened a political space for a possible rebirth of social movements. On November 26, 150,000 women marched in Rome against male violence and on a radical platform, and the next day, thousands gathering in an assembly and workshops called for a women’s strike on March 8, uniting the fight against violence with opposition to austerity, social and health services cuts, and the casualization of labor.

Women’s assemblies are being created in the whole country in preparation for the March action. The struggle we have ahead of us will of course be hard, as the Right is already trying to capitalize on the referendum result, hiding the fact that even a large part of PD voters voted against the reform. But the answer to this cannot be fear or lesser evilism, for these responses only work to strengthen the Right. The answer must be a return to politics as confrontation, starting from a participation in the women’s strike of March 8, which is opening the path for social resistance.

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In the wake of Brexit and Trump, ‘mainstream’ media have done the formerly unthinkable by focusing on media bias. The intensity of focus has been such that the Oxford Dictionaries have announced that ‘post-truth’ is their ‘Word of the Year 2016’.

‘Post-truth’ refers to ‘circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

Students of ‘brainwashing under freedom’ will notice that this bears a striking resemblance to 20th century US policy advisor Reinhold Niebuhr’s insistence on the use of ’emotionally potent over-simplifications’ to control the public mind. It’s nothing new, in other words.

We learn from a lengthy article on Wikipedia that ‘post-truth politics’ is driven by ‘fake news’:

‘Fake news websites publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation to drive web traffic inflamed by social media.’

This ‘fake news’ is being harvested by social media that seal unwitting users in airtight ‘filter bubbles‘:

‘A filter bubble is a result of a personalized search in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behavior and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles.’

The results are terrifying indeed. Author Andrew Smith argued in the Guardian that, post-Trump and Brexit, future historians will decide ‘whether this will go down as the year democracy revealed itself unworkable in the age of the internet’. The forecast is grim:

‘One day, I suspect, we will look back in disbelief that we let the net-induced friction on civil society reach this pitch, because if we didn’t know before, we know now that our stark choice is between social networks’ bottom line and democracy. I know which I prefer.’

These words appeared less than two years after the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre, when a Guardian editorial had opined:

‘Any society that’s serious about liberty has to defend the free flow of ugly words, even ugly sentiments.’

Now, it seems, anyone ‘serious about liberty’ has to resist the free flow of ugly words for fear of ‘net-induced friction on civil society’. Whatever that means.

Smith was reacting to ‘the accidental or deliberate propagation of misinformation via social media’. Many millions of people ‘saw and believed fake reports that the pope had endorsed Trump; Democrats had paid and bussed anti-Trump protesters…’; and so on.

Curiously, Smith made no mention of the relentless ‘mainstream’ and social media efforts to link Trump with Putin seen by many millions of people around the globe. Nor did Smith mention the upside of social media – the democratisation of outreach, the related growth in popular support for Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, and for left-wing movements like Spain’s Podemos.

Like the rest of ‘mainstream’ journalism, Smith had nothing to say about the leading role played by traditional corporate media in the ‘deliberate propagation of misinformation’. A remarkable omission, given the unprecedented ferocity of the smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn.

In one news report, seven different Guardian journalists discussed the rise of ‘fake news’ around the world without mentioning the key role of ‘mainstream’ media. This led to conclusions such as:

‘Fake news is not a problem of any scale in Australia: the media market, dominated by a handful of key players serving a population of just over 21 million people, does not seem fragmented enough.’

Some perspective was provided by former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi in 2009:

‘The Rupert Murdoch chain has been used extensively to publish false intelligence from the Israelis and occasionally from the British government.’

Another Guardian piece was titled:

‘Bursting the Facebook bubble: we asked voters on the left and right to swap feeds – Social media has made it easy to live in filter bubbles, sheltered from opposing viewpoints. So what happens when liberals and conservatives trade realities?’

The problem being:

‘Facebook users are increasingly sheltered from opposing viewpoints – and reliable news sources [sic] – and the viciously polarized state of our national politics appears to be one of the results.’

Facebook readers, then, are sheltered from the giant, global corporate media that dominate our newspapers, magazines, publishing companies, cinema, TVs, radios and computer screens – even though social media are themselves corporate media. And presumably we are to believe that readers of ‘reliable news sources’ – the BBC, Guardian, The Times, Telegraph and other traditional outlets – are forever being exposed to ‘opposing viewpoints’ by these media.

If we beg to differ, having studied the media intensively for two decades, it may be because we belong on a list of 200 websites that ‘are at the very least acting as bona-fide “useful idiots” of the Russian intelligence services, and are worthy of further scrutiny’, according to the PropOrNot group. The Washington Post reports:

‘PropOrNot’s monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.’

Matt Taibbi notes in Rolling Stone that outlets as diverse as AntiWar.com, LewRockwell.com and the Ron Paul Institute are on the list, although the Washington Post offered no information about the PropOrNot group, ‘which offered zero concrete evidence of coordination with Russian intelligence agencies’. Chris Hedges of Truthdig, which is on the list, describes the Post’s report as an ‘updated form of Red-Baiting.’ He added:

‘This attack signals an open war on the independent press. Those who do not spew the official line will be increasingly demonized in corporate echo chambers such as the Post or CNN as useful idiots or fifth columnists.’

Significantly, the Guardian experiment in swapping social media concluded with this extraordinary comment from one of the participants, again just two years after Charlie Hebdo:

‘Maybe we should stop having social media. For all the things that social media has done in terms of making it easier for me to stay in touch with someone that I was vaguely friends with in college, maybe the ability with social media for people to construct their own reality to create a mob is not worth it.’

A LIBERAL BREAKS BAD

Reporting from the ‘fake news’ frontline, a Guardian piece titled, ‘”Alt-right'” online poison nearly turned me into a racist’, described the experience of an anonymous commentator: outwardly, a normal, sane liberal:

‘I am a happily married, young white man. I grew up in a happy, Conservative household. I’ve spent my entire life – save the last four months – as a progressive liberal. All of my friends are very liberal or left-leaning centrists.’

It sounds idyllic – presumably he was a Guardian reader and helped the elderly cross the road. But then things started to go wrong:

‘This, I think, is where YouTube’s “suggested videos” can lead you down a rabbit hole… I unlocked the Pandora’s box of “It’s not racist to criticise Islam!” content.’

Despite his virtuous liberal heart, ‘Anonymous’ started to drift to the dark side:

‘I’d started to roll my eyes when my friends talked about liberal, progressive things. What was wrong with them?’

Eventually, realising he was becoming an intolerant racist, he confronted himself:

‘What you’re doing is turning you into a terrible, hateful person.’

This is a close copy of material that appeared during the original version of McCarthyite hysteria. Between 1948 and 1954, Hollywood made more than forty propaganda films with titles like, ‘I Married A Communist’, and ‘I Was A Communist For The FBI’. Large-circulation magazines were titled, ‘How Communists Get That Way’ and ‘Communists Are After Your Child.’ (Quoted, Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, Harper Colophon, 1990, pp.427-8)

With perfect irony, this attack on ‘fake news’ may itself have been faked. Satirist Godfrey Elfwick has since claimed authorship of the Guardian story. Elfwick certainly has form, having previously hoaxed several national news organisations on related issues.

Elsewhere, The Sun newspaper, no less, warned against ‘fake news’ in an article titled, ‘Don’t believe the hyperlink’:

‘Fake news is on the rise. In the past three months of the White House race the top 20 false stories about it were bigger on Facebook than the top 20 from the world’s most reputable news outlets.’ (Robert Colvile, The Sun, November 19, 2016)

The key word here is ‘reputable’. In 2012, The Sun wrote of the Hillsborough football disaster:

‘Nothing can excuse The Sun’s Page One presentation, under the headline The Truth.

‘It was inaccurate, grossly insensitive and offensive. This version of events was NOT the truth.’

Fake news, in other words.

In the Mirror, Pat Flanagan helped clarify the meaning of ‘reputable’: ‘the top 20 fake news stories during the presidential campaign collectively outperformed the top 20 legitimate stories’. (Flanagan, ‘Web of lies shows net is strangling democracy’, Mirror, November 25, 2016)

So the ‘reputable’ outlets (the BBC calls them ‘legitimate news outlets’) were those producing ‘legitimate stories’.

In May 2004, the BBC reported of Flanagan’s newspaper:

‘Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has been sacked after the newspaper conceded photos of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi were fake.

‘In a statement the Mirror said it had fallen victim to a “calculated and malicious hoax” and that it would be “inappropriate” for Morgan to continue.’

As John Hilley notes on his Zenpolitics blog, the most fantastic moment of post-real irony was reached when the BBC hosted Tony Blair’s Iraq spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, defending the term ‘post-truth’. Campbell said:

‘It’s acknowledging that politics, which has always been rough, has moved to a different phase where politicians who lie now appear to get rewarded for it.’ (BBC2 Jeremy Vine Show, November 16, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE PYRAMID – CONFORMITY WITHOUT DESIGN

To reiterate, ‘fake news’ is said to refer to ‘websites [that] publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation to drive web traffic’. A simple, table-top experiment can help us understand why this definition can be generalised to all corporate media, not just social media.

Place a square wooden framework on a flat surface and pour into it a stream of ball bearings, marbles, or other round objects. Some of the balls may bounce out, but many will form a layer within the wooden framework; others will then find a place atop this first layer. In this way, the flow of ball bearings steadily builds new layers that inevitably produce a pyramid-style shape.

This experiment is used to demonstrate how near-perfect crystalline structures such as snowflakes arise in nature without conscious design. We will use it here as a way of understanding Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s ‘propaganda model‘ of ‘mainstream’ performance.

Imagine now that the four sides of the wooden framework are labelled to indicate the framing conditions shaping the corporate media:

1) Corporate nature, elite/parent company ownership and profit-maximising orientation
2) Dependence on allied corporate advertisers for 50% or more of revenues
3) Dependence on cheap, subsidised news supplied by state-corporate allies
4) Political, economic, legal carrots and sticks rewarding corporate media conformity and punishing dissent

When facts, ideas, journalists and managers are poured into this framework, the result is a highly filtered, power-friendly ‘pyramid’ of media performance. Every aspect of corporate media output is shaped by these framing conditions. Consider media coverage of the recent death of Fidel Castro. In his book, ‘Inventing Reality’ (1993), political analyst Michael Parenti wrote:

‘References may occasionally appear in the press about the great disparities of wealth and poverty in Third World nations, but US corporate imperialism is never treated as one of the causes of such poverty. Indeed, it seems the US press has never heard of US imperialism. Imperialism, the process by which the dominant interests of one country expropriate the land, labor, markets, capital, and natural resources of another, and neo-imperialism, the process of expropriation that occurs without direct colonization, are both unmentionables. Anyone who might try to introduce the subject would be quickly dismissed as “ideological”. Media people, like mainstream academics and others, might recognize that the US went through a brief imperialist period around the Spanish-American War. And they would probably acknowledge that there once existed ancient Roman imperialism and nineteenth-century British imperialism and certainly twentieth-century “Soviet imperialism.” But not many, if any, mainstream editors and commentators would consider the existence of US imperialism (or neo-imperialism), let alone entertain criticisms of it.

‘Media commentators, like political leaders, treat corporate investment as a solution to Third World poverty and indebtedness rather than as a cause. What US corporations do in the Third World is a story largely untold…

‘What capitalism as a transnational system does to impoverish people throughout the world is simply not a fit subject for the US news media. Instead, poverty is treated as its own cause. We are asked to believe that Third World people are poor because that has long been their condition; they live in countries that are overpopulated, or there is something about their land, culture, or temperament that makes them unable to cope. Subsistence wages, forced displacement from homesteads, the plunder of natural resources, the lack of public education and public health programs, the suppression of independent labor unions and other democratic forces by US-supported police states, such things – if we were to believe the way they remain untreated in the media – have nothing much to do with poverty in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.’ (Parenti, ‘Inventing Reality,’ 2nd edition, St. Martin’s Press, 1993, pp.175-6)

Given the four framing conditions described above, it is easy to understand why Parenti’s facts and arguments find no place in the corporate media performance ‘pyramid’. This means that everything that appears in the ‘pyramid’ about the West’s relations with the Third World is either fake news, or half-truth presented in a fake context.

Thus a leading article after the death of Fidel Castro in The Times blamed ‘the clumsiness of American diplomacy that, in trying to rid the world of an opportunistic agitator, built up his global image as a plucky opponent of Yankee imperialism’. (Leading article, ‘Cuba Libre; For half a century Fidel Castro’s country has stagnated under his repressive rule. Now the island has a chance to free itself from his malign shadow,’ The Times, November 28, 2016)

Parenti’s accurate analysis of US imperial violence is replaced by a mocking, fake reference to US ‘clumsiness’. The fakery is such that The Times actually reverses the truth of history:

‘Washington now has a chance to coax Cuba down the road to liberty.’

In a Guardian leader, Parenti’s version of truth was replaced by another fake take:

‘Castro’s international reputation was built partly on a foreign policy of supporting other third world struggles that, while not perfect, has certainly been far more impressive than most of the west.’

Cuba’s foreign policy is thus compared to that of the less ‘impressive’ West, rather than presented as a desperate attempt to escape and survive Western imperialism. When the Guardian says that, in Castro, some ‘see a dictator who trampled human rights’, it fails to mention how the British government curtailed democratic freedoms at home when threatened by a far more evenly matched enemy from 1939-1945.

With the truth nowhere in sight, an Independent leader can deliver fake news of fake hope:

‘Cuba has no reason to fear a free media, free-trade unions and free trade with her neighbours (assuming her neighbours want it).’

The superpower’s long, terrible history of subordinating Latin American people to US profit and power – most recently helping to overthrow democracy in Haiti and Honduras, and supporting a failed coup attempt in Venezuela – is replaced by a faked discussion of Cuba’s ‘uneasy relationship with its powerful superpower neighbour’. The editors added:

‘It would be tragic if misunderstandings and diplomatic blunders wrecked what would be a transformative rebuilding of relations between two nations who have more in common than they care to admit.’

comment from Noam Chomsky puts all of this in perspective:

‘Terrorist activities continued under Nixon, peaking in the mid- 1970s, with attacks on fishing boats, embassies, and Cuban offices overseas, and the bombing of a Cubana airliner, killing all seventy-three passengers…

‘So matters proceeded, while Castro was condemned by [Western] editors for maintaining an “armed camp, despite the security from attack promised by Washington in 1962.” The promise should have sufficed, despite what followed…’

Put simply, it is not reasonable to expect corporate media to report honestly on a world dominated by corporations. With perfect irony, the latest focus on ‘fake news’ is itself fake news because the corporate media never have discussed and never will discuss the framing conditions that make it a leading purveyor of ‘hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation’.

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Al Qaeda’s Retreat: East-Aleppo Siege Nears Its End

December 6th, 2016 by Moon of Alabama

This is the situation in east-Aleppo as of Dec 4, 6PM ET.

The enclosed green area, held by al-Qaeda and its allies, will soon be gone.

Map via Fabrice Balanche – bigger

The British Foreign Minister says that the foreseeable Syrian government victory in Aleppo will not be a gain at all.  He and his colleagues have obviously given up on the case and now issue face saving laments. Syria’s alliance is winning, U.S. policy is changing and the end of the war is now foreseeable.

The British MI-6 propaganda operation “Bana Alabed” expired. The operation’s main star was a seven year old girl in east-Aleppo who could not speak English but tweeted world politics in perfect Twitter-English even when the Internet in all Aleppo was down. It has now vanished. This is just like one of the first anti-Syrian propaganda operations, the “Gay girl in Damascus“, which expired in 2011 shortly before its male U.S. operator in Scotland was exposed. What will all the media who have willfully fallen for this “Bana” nonsense now tell their viewers and readers?

Since the start of the Syrian army offense on the Takfiri held east-Aleppo some 21,000+ civilians have left towards the government held areas in the western part. Several news accounts confirm that these civilians had been held hostages by the Takfiris and had to flee under fire:

“We were under pressure by all means, psychological and financial. The gunmen were trying to prevent us from leaving until the army came,” said 36-year-old Amina Rwein, who fled with her husband, seven daughters and three sons.”We came under fire from the gunmen as we were leaving and the army hit the minaret from where the sniper was shooting, and then we crossed,” she said.

About 500 fighters among those civilians gave themselves up to the Syrian army. 480 of them were locals and were led go after they pledged to end all fighting.

The remaining rebels want to stay in the city and continued fighting until the end. This sabotages plans by Secretary of State Kerry who tries to get another ceasefire in which some al-Qaeda fighters would leave but other Takfiris kept in control of east-Aleppo. Kerry was late anyway. That deal was no longer on the table. The EU has even worse ideas – it wants to bribe the Syrian government to keep some Jihadis alive and in power. What a joke! The Russian and Syrian forces will not leave any enemy fighter in the area alive or any inch of Aleppo city grounds occupied by them. Later the same will apply to all of Syria.

New controlled exits for civilians and fighters who want to leave will be set up soon. All the old exit areas in the northern parts are now completely under Syrian government control.

I doubt that there are many, if any civilians left. As my original estimated from October 15 said:

Based on the Daraya numbers and those of other sieges in Syria there are probably no more than 4-5,000 fighters and some 3-5 civilians per fighter, i.e. their immediate families, in east-Aleppo. The real total could easily be as low as 20,000.

The UN Refugees Agency and UN officials told fairy tales of some 270,000 civilians under siege in east-Aleppo. Numbers every “western” media repeated without caveats. More than 60% of the areas have been liberated. The International Red Cross went there and they were empty. Where are all those hundred-thousands civilians the UN envisioned now?

There are still daily missile attacks from the Takfiri held areas on the government held western areas and each of these is costing lives. UPDATE: According to SANA 8 people were killed and 25 wounded today when the Takfiris fired missiles into residential areas of west-Aleppo. A Russian field hospital set up over the last days to help refugees from east Aleppo came under attack from the “moderate” Takfiris. A female Russian doctor was killed, several other personal were wounded and the hospital was (pics) destroyed. /UPDATE

These attacks create urgency to drain the cauldron as soon as possible. There are several other reason, next to that urgency, why the attack on east-Aleppo proceeds much faster than expected.

Whenever the Syrian army and its allies slow down their attacks infighting keeps the Jihadists in the cauldron busy. Yesterday the al-Qaeda group Jabhat al-Nusra joined the CIA equipped Zinki group in attacks on the headquarters of some local armed groups who had control over stores filled with food and ammunition. Such moments of infighting are ideal for the attacking Syrian forces to go forward in unexpected ways.

The Syrian government forces do not proceed along the lines military professionals expected. They do not attack along main roads or obvious axes with enemy checkpoints and prepared traps but probe from every side until they find a weakness and then go through lightly defended densely build up areas to attack the checkpoint defenders from the rear. The 25,000 Syrian army fighters and the 10,000 foreign allies (4,000 from Iraq, 4,000 provided by Iran and 2,000 Hizbullah from Lebanon) have unprecedented air support from Syrian planes and helicopters. Reports of “Russian bombing” of east-Aleppo are all false and have been false for the last six weeks. Only the Syrian airforce is active in the area.

The general plan is to squeeze all the Takfiris into one small area in east-Aleppo (probably the “old city”) and to then negotiate their departure to Idleb in north-west Syria. Idelb itself is already filled with infighting Jihadis of various stripes who were offered exit to it from several areas around Damascus, Homs and Hama. It will soon be a shooting alley for the Syrian and Russian air-forces. The Jihadis will flee to Turkey, which is a nightmare for Erdogan, and maybe onward from there into “western” European cities. There they will be pampered and rest until their masters call for another battle.

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South Korea’s General Strike against Park Government and Corrupt “Chaebol” Conglomerates

December 6th, 2016 by International Trade Union Confederation

Korean national trade union centre KCTU held a general strike on November 30 to protest the government’s labour policies, as opposition to embattled President Park Guen-hye grows.

The other main national centre FKTU held a national rally November 19. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on 12 November, demanding that Park, whose Presidency is under siege over allegations of corruption including illicit payments by Korean “chaebol” conglomerates including scandal-ridden Samsung. The national parliament has now appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations. Samsung and other chaebols, with opaque governance practices and riddled with nepotism, are coming under intense scrutiny, including for their covert relationships with Park’s entourage.

Park’s term in office has been marked by aggressive repression of trade unions, with KCTU President Han Sang-gyun imprisoned for five years in the Seoul Detention Centre for helping to organize previous public protests. Han, who is one of twenty union leaders currently in prison, met a delegation of global union representatives which was present in Seoul during the weekend protest.

“The Park government’s crackdown on legitimate union activity is having terrible consequences for Korean workers. Workers are being forced to do up to 100 hours of overtime per month, threatened with dismissal if they don’t comply, and employers frequently sack workers who try to join unions. In many companies, health and safety standards are appalling, sexual harassment is rife and workers are treated with total contempt by their bosses,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Korean companies such as Samsung and LG are well known for their opposition to unions in their supply chains, with supplier companies closely monitored for any sign of workers organizing. Suppliers know that if a union is formed, their company faces exclusion from the supply chain. Hyundai too has engaged in union-busting in its supplier companies.

The government has already decreed the KCTU’s planned strike to be illegal.

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Obama will be remembered for waging endless wars of aggression throughout his tenure, at home and abroad – a war criminal remaining unaccountable for his high crimes, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, one of many examples mocking its legitimacy.

He’ll leave office in January after bombing seven countries, multiple conflicts on his watch still raging, including nearly six years of terror-war on Syria, a nation threatening no one.

According to Syria’s War Information Center, around 65% of eastern Aleppo was liberated from terrorist control, additional neighborhoods freed daily.

US-backed terrorists are increasingly isolated, heading toward capitulation or elimination, their choice. On December 5, the Wall Street Journal reported they’re “weaken(ing)” in confrontation with government forces, defeat virtually certain, likely in weeks.

Surrounded by Syrian and allied troops, they’re increasingly “desperate…fac(ing) potential collapse.” Many ceased combat and fled with civilians to government-controlled areas.

Others “are thinking of leaving…because they have become exhausted” by endless fighting, according to Mohammad Al-Sheikh, a member of one terrorist group.

“Their spirits are low,” he said. “They are in despair over not being able to break the siege.”

On December 4, Reuters reported internecine fighting among terrorists in eastern Aleppo “in the face of an unprecedented onslaught by Russian-backed government forces…helping to put (Assad) on the verge of (his) biggest victory yet” – liberating Aleppo entirely, retaking it after four years under US-backed terrorists’ control.

Winning the battle for Aleppo doesn’t end conflict in Syria. It’ll represent a major turning point, reminiscent of Churchill remarking after winning a 1942 battle against Nazi Germany that “this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Eventual triumph followed, sadly replaced by a far greater threat – headquartered in Washington, heading NATO’s killing machine, waging global war on humanity.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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President-elect Donald Trump did not wait until taking office to upend decades of diplomatic protocol by accepting a phone call last Friday from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The conversation was the first between leaders of the two countries since 1979, when the US ended diplomatic ties with Taiwan as part of its “One China” policy, which recognises Beijing as the sole legitimate government of all of China.

An article in the Washington Post on Sunday refutes media suggestions that Trump’s decision to take the call was a mistake or blunder. It was, rather, “the product of months of quiet preparations and deliberations among Trump advisers about a new strategy of engagement with Taiwan,” and reflected “the view of hard-line advisers urging Trump to take a tough opening line with China.”

The decision to take Tsai’s phone call, nominally to congratulate Trump on his election win, was a deliberate and calculated provocation intended to set the stage for an aggressive confrontation with China across the board—diplomatically, economically and militarily.

Trump made it clear that more is at stake than just a phone call by tweeting on Sunday: “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of South China Sea? I don’t think so!”

Trump lashed China in the course of the election campaign, threatening to brand it a currency manipulator and impose 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports. He made few references, however, to the South China Sea, where the Obama administration has stoked up tensions in order to increase pressure on China, sending warships on three occasions within the twelve-nautical mile territorial limit around islets controlled by China.

By hinting that his administration could forge closer relations with Taiwan and overturn the “One China” policy, Trump is recklessly inflaming one of the world’s most dangerous and volatile flashpoints and risking conflict with China. Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, has stated that it will go to war to prevent a Taiwanese government declaring formal independence.

The Washington Post pointed out that key figures within Trump’s transition team and incoming administration have strong links with Taiwan, including Trump’s designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus. He reportedly visited Taiwan with a Republican delegation in 2011 and again in October 2015, meeting Tsai before she was elected Taiwanese president this year. Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lee has called Priebus a friend and described his appointment as “good news” for the island.

The Post also noted that Trump allies had inserted a clause in the Republican Party election platform supportive of Taiwan, “with whom we share the values of democracy, human rights, a free market economy, and the rule of law.” The platform is openly hostile to Beijing, declaring, “China’s behaviour has negated the optimistic language of our last platform concerning our future relations with China.”

By embracing Taiwan, Trump is threatening the “One China” policy put in place by President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Nixon’s trip to Beijing in 1972 coincided with a decisive sign of the historic decline of US imperialism—the August 1971 ending of dollar-gold convertibility, which had been the linchpin of the post-World War II economic order.

By recognising Beijing and withdrawing support from Taipei, the Nixon administration secured the collaboration of the Chinese Communist Party regime in Washington’s efforts to undermine the Soviet Union. China’s de facto alliance with Washington was the prelude to the process of capitalist restoration, which accelerated after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, leading to massive imperialist investment and the transformation of China, on the basis of super-cheap labour, into the world’s largest manufacturing hub.

The expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy and the relative decline of the United States have torn their partnership asunder. No longer able to maintain its hegemony through economic means, the US has increasingly resorted to military means since the end of the Soviet Union. A quarter-century of US-led wars is now coalescing into confrontations with nuclear-armed powers—China and Russia—that will be intensified under Trump.

A significant comment posted on the Foreign Policy website on November 7 titled “Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific” outlines a confrontational policy towards China not only in relation to Taiwan, but across the region. Far from adopting an isolationist stance, Trump intends to double down on the Obama administration’s aggressive “pivot to Asia.”

The comment, written by Alexander Gray and Peter Navarro, described by the Post as “one of Trump’s top economic and Asia advisers,” is scathing of Obama’s “pivot” for promising much but failing to deliver. The pivot, it declares, has “turned out to be an imprudent case of talking loudly but carrying a small stick, one that has led to more, not less, aggression and instability in the region.”

Navarro and Gray slam the Obama administration for cutting the American military, particularly the Navy, thus “inviting Chinese aggression in the East and South China Seas.” They also attack Obama’s “failed policy of ‘strategic patience’ with North Korea,” declaring that it “has produced nothing but heightened instability and increased danger.” Their comment hails Taiwan as a “beacon of democracy in Asia” and declares that its treatment by Obama has been “equally egregious.”

In reality, Obama’s “pivot” was a marked shift in foreign and strategic policy from the Bush administration, which had focussed on the Middle East to the virtual exclusion of the Asia Pacific. The Obama administration has been engaged in a comprehensive effort to isolate China, undermine it economically and encircle it militarily. This has included military provocations in the South China Sea, a refusal to negotiate with North Korea, and a $1.8 billion sale of arms last year to Taiwan.

The heart of Trump’s so-called “peace through strength”—echoing President Reagan’s provocative and aggressive policy toward the Soviet Union—is a massive military expansion accompanied by a strengthening of alliances and strategic partnerships throughout Asia as well as trade war measures against China. Trump has pledged to expand the US Navy from 274 ships to 350 ships in order to maintain military supremacy over China in the Asia Pacific.

This orientation is underscored by Trump’s choice for defence secretary—General “Mad Dog” Mattis—who has called for the boosting of US naval power and deployment of more advanced military hardware to Asia to counter Beijing’s so-called “aggression.” Mattis recently declared that efforts to maintain positive relations with China “must be paralleled by a policy to build the counterbalance if China continues to expand its bullying role in the South China Sea and elsewhere.”

Trump’s policy in the Asia-Pacific of “peace through strength” is a strategy not of peace, but war. With his phone call with the Taiwanese president, Trump has exposed the efforts of the media and political establishment to minimise the dangers posed by his election.

His administration will be one of extreme nationalism and militarism, using any and all means to “make America great” at the expense of its rivals—especially China. Trump’s “Fortress America” is the prelude to a further eruption of US imperialism. Unless prevented by the revolutionary intervention of the international working class, it leads inexorably to world war.

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For the sixth straight weekend, hundreds of thousands of Koreans came out in Seoul (and with other Korean cities estimates approaching 2 million people on the streets) to demand the resignation of President Park Geun-hye. This Saturday December 3, the protests marched on the Presidential Blue House. The three opposition parties introduced a bill last week to impeach the President, supported by a majority of the parliament (171 of 300 members), for abuse of power in an influence-peddling scandal. But the vote needs a 2/3 majority and requires a rump of Park’s Saenuri party to break and support the opposition to pass the bill.

These are the largest demonstrations in South Korea since the pro-democracy movement of the 1980s. But the street protests are also against the neoliberal reforms Park has pursued and the attacks on the KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions), and an emphatic statement that all politics is not forming in a populist hard right. The below essays were written just after the fourth demonstration weekend.

Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets in Seoul demanding President Park Geun-hye‘s immediate resignation on November 19. This protest was the fourth in a series of weekly mass demonstrations since October when it was first reported that Park was being secretly advised by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of 40 years who holds no official government title.

The scandal involving Park’s cronyism and corruption has triggered the worst political crisis in South Korea in decades. The biggest demonstration so far took place on November 12, when about 1 million people gathered in central Seoul. This was the largest anti-government protest since the June 1987 democracy movement when South Koreans forced the military regime to hold a free presidential election and eventually paved the way to ending the dictatorship.

President Park is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, a military dictator who ruled South Korea for 18 years, from 1961 when he took power via a coup until he was assassinated in 1979. While her father was in power, the current President Park acted as first lady at the age of 22 after her mother was killed in an assassination attempt against Park in 1975.

The friendship between Park and her confidante Choi Soon-sil dates back to the 1970s when Park first met Choi’s father, the founder of a religious cult who was believed to have become Park’s mentor and exercised cult-like control over Park until his death in 1994.

Choi is suspected of using her close ties to Park to pressure large corporations, the so-called “chaebol,” to donate nearly 77.4-billion won (about $70-million) to two foundations she runs. She is also suspected of meddling in state affairs and government decisions on personnel and policy behind the scenes, while gaining unauthorized access to classified information.

Choi has been charged with abuse of power and fraud. Two of Park’s aides have also been charged with abuse of power and extortion, and are suspected of helping Choi extract huge sums of money from big businesses, including Samsung, which alone is reported to have given $20-million to Choi in return for a favor.

Choi-gate

Initially, the corruption scandal was dubbed as “Choi-gate” and public anger was directed mainly by the “shadow president” – implying that Choi exercised an undue influence over Park and used her personal connection to coerce businesses into donating money to her foundations, amass an illicit fortune and win favors for herself and her family.

But according to leaks from sources describing the investigations, it turned out that President Park is the main culprit in this corruption scandal. On November 20, prosecutors issued an indictment against Choi in which they indicated that Park was an accomplice in the crimes, effectively making her a suspect rather than a witness.

According to prosecutors, Park “played a large role” in the efforts to raise money from the businesses to set up the foundations run by Choi. However, the South Korean constitution bars bringing criminal charges against a sitting president, except in cases of insurrection or treason – though investigations are permitted.

The allegations of corruption, abuse of power, embezzlement and cronyism stirred public anger and outcry for Park’s resignation or impeachment. Park’s approval ratings have plummeted to 5 per cent, the lowest in the history of South Korea.

While denying any involvement in wrongdoing, Park has issued public apologies twice since the corruption scandal broke out.

In an attempt to defuse public fury, Park initially vowed that she would cooperate with the investigation into any possible fraud and embezzlement involving her friend. But on November 20, after the release of the prosecution’s indictment of Choi, Park indicated through her attorney that she would not answer any of the prosecution’s questions.

Moreover, according to an insider, when she was advised to step down to quell a wave of popular fury, she allegedly responded by saying, “What did I do wrong?” – signaling that she wasn’t willing to hear the voices of the people and would hold out no matter what until her five-year term ends at the end of 2017.

This arrogance has fueled more public anger against Park. It’s expected that more people will participate in the next scheduled mass protest this coming Saturday demanding her resignation.

While people in the streets are demanding Park’s immediate resignation, opposition parties, though emboldened by the massive protests, have yet to seriously push for Park’s resignation over fears of negatively impacting next year’s presidential election. It seems that what they’re most interested in is containing people’s anger and channeling it into their electoral victory next year.

Attacks on Workers Have Intensified

South Koreans are angry over the corruption involving Park and those around her. But that isn’t the only reason there’s such huge outcry. When she became South Korea’s first female present in 2013, Park promised sweeping economic reforms to bridge the growing income inequality between rich and poor and address unemployment and a stagnant economy.

Demonstrators hold torches as they march to the Blue House in central Seoul, Korea.

She said that she would help the country repeat the so-called “Miracle on the Han River” – a reference to the rapid economic development seen under her father’s presidency. Park promised to create jobs and build a “creative” economy that would be less dependent on South Korea’s dominant big businesses, called “chaebol,” and would bring about “economic democratization” by prioritizing job creation in science and technology.

During the last four years, however, she has demonstrated her heavy-handed leadership style and lack of transparency, which very much resembles her father’s authoritarian rule. Just like her father, under Park’s presidency, attacks on workers’ rights, working conditions and wages have intensified, and a ruthless crackdown on dissent has continued.

For example, Han Sang-gyun, president of South Korea’s independent Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), was arrested last year and is still in prison after being sentenced to five years imprisonment for organizing a series of demonstrations against the Park administration.

Moreover, in an attempt to glorifying her father’s military dictatorship, Park is trying to rewrite school history textbooks. Conservatives have charged that “left-leaning” authors poisoned the current history textbooks and students’ minds with their “ideological biases.” The government has announced that they will replace the current history textbooks taught in schools with government-issued textbooks. This has been criticized as an attempt to return education to the country’s authoritarian past.

Privatization of healthcare and railroads is also underway, which has prompted recent strikes by workers in these sectors. In coordination with the U.S., the Park administration is about to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense in a rural town in South Korea, threatening the environment and the farmers who live there.

In summary, Park’s promise of repeating the “Miracle on the Han River” has become a nightmare for ordinary South Koreans. As public discontent has grown, Park’s party, the ruling Saenuri Party, has lost its parliamentary majority in the general election held in April 2016.

SooKyung Nam writes for the Socialist Worker, where this article first appeared.

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USA Empire

Chosen Leaders, Proven Failures and Political Debacles

By Prof. James Petras, December 05 2016

With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies.  Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices. A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process.  These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power.  With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites.

election-2016-US

America’s “Duopoly Party System”, Central to Understanding Power and Domination

By Vince Montes, December 03 2016

The 2016 presidential election did not only expose the political process and the duopoly political party system as a major mechanism of control, but exposed how the Democratic Party and their liberal supporters act as collaborators in upholding the status quo. This is not to say that the Republican Party is vastly different, but to say that there is a well-known belief, largely uncontested that the Democratic Party is the party that supposedly champions the common man/women, the oppressed, and the exploited causes. Yet, this narrative does not appear to be supported by overwhelming evidences. In fact, the Democratic Party and their liberal supporters appear to validate of the current arrangement of power and wealth and derive tremendous benefit from it.

German Government Announces Bank Bailout Plan

Angela Merkel’s Benign Dictatorship

By Michael Werbowski, December 05 2016

The mainstream media portrays the German chancellor as the guardian of western liberal democratic principles. Europeans are led to believe the German leader is following in the steps of enlightment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, Jefferson or her compatriot Wilhelm von Humboldt. And she’s certainly not carrying on the tyrannical tradition of former East German rulers like Walter Ulbright or Erich Honecker. Or is she?

haiti-flag

Haiti Rejects Election Under Occupation

By Dady Chery, December 05 2016

In December 2014, Reuters, AP, Miami Herald, and Huffington Post,among others, declared Evans Paul to be prime minister of Haiti without the requisite approval of the parliament, and it was so. Something similar was done when they called California for Hillary Clinton, before the votes were counted, and handed her the democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders in June 2016. Now mainstream outfits, including the BBC, New York Times, Guardian, and Fox News are trying to make Jovenel Moise Haiti’s president by pretending not to know the difference between a preliminary and a final result.

pilger-china

The Coming War on China. Nuclear War is No Longer a Shadow

By John Pilger, December 03 2016

I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency.  The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are in the northern hemisphere, on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

CuresActCongress

Urgent Alert: The “21st Century Cures Act” That Will Expand the Use of Coerced Drug “Treatments”

By Gary Kohls, December 03 2016

URGENT ACTION ALERT On November 30th, the House passed HR 34, a 996-page bill, known as the 21st Century Cures Act. They are now rushing to get it introduced and passed by the Senate on Monday, December 5th, at 5:30 EST. This bill must be defeated because it contains some very dangerous provisions relating to psychiatric treatments.  This is an urgent call to action as we must let our Senators know that they need to oppose it.  We have less than 72-hours to do this.

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Salim Lamrani es un estudioso de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Explica las razones del prestigio de Fidel Castro y de la importancia del líder de la revolución en una sociedad en mutación.

Estudioso de Cuba, usted acaba de publicar un libro sobre Fidel Castro (1). ¿Sería posible caracterizar la trayectoria de este hombre, de quien hasta sus detractores reconocen la estatura?

Salim Lamrani: En mi opinión, tres facetas caracterizan al personaje de Fidel Castro. Primero es el arquitecto de la soberanía nacional que realizó el sueño del Apóstol y Héroe Nacional José Martí de una Cuba independiente y que devolvió su dignidad al pueblo de la isla. Luego es el reformador social que defendió la causa de los humildes creando una de las sociedades menos injustas del Tercer Mundo. Por otra parte es el internacionalista que extendió una mano generosa a los pueblos necesitados y que ubicó la solidaridad y la integración en el centro de la política exterior de Cuba.

¿Cómo se explica su prestigio en Cuba y en el mundo?

SL: Fidel Castro es un personaje controvertido en Occidente porque los medios presentan de él una imagen caricatural. En cambio es plebiscitado por los pueblos de América Latina y del Tercer Mundo que lo consideran un símbolo de resistencia a la opresión y un defensor de la aspiración de los países del Sur a la independencia, a la soberanía y a la autodeterminación. Es un rebelde mítico que entró en vida en el Panteón de los grandes libertadores del continente americano. El antiguo guerrillero de la Sierra Maestra vio su prestigio superar las fronteras continentales para convertirse en el arquetipo del antimperialismo del siglo XX y el vector de un mensaje universal de emancipación.

Los medios occidentales no han logrado entender la importancia histórica de Fidel Castro en el mundo. Desde Martí ningún otro personaje ha simbolizado con tanta fuerza las aspiraciones del pueblo cubano a la soberanía nacional, a la independencia económica y a la justicia social. Fidel Castro es un símbolo de orgullo, de dignidad, de resistencia y de lealtad a los principios. El líder histórico de la Revolución Cubana tomó las armas para defender a los oprimidos y reivindicó sus derechos a una vida decente.

Cuando se retiró de la vida política en 2006, muchos comentaristas predijeron el fin de la Revolución Cubana y estimaron que ésta no sobreviviría a la ausencia de Fidel Castro. ¿Cuál es la realidad diez años después?

SL: El error que cometen muchos observadores es pensar que el proceso revolucionario cubano descansa en los hombros de un solo hombre, Fidel Castro. Ahora bien, la Revolución ha sido edificada por varias generaciones de cubanos. Hoy día, las instituciones son fuertes en Cuba y muchos cuadros han tomado el relevo tras el retiro progresivo de la generación histórica. Ningún cataclismo ocurrió en Cuba tras el retiro de Fidel Castro en 2006 porque el pueblo de la isla tiene una gran conciencia política y está apegado a su independencia, su sistema político y su modelo social.

Cuando se anunció el fallecimiento de Fidel Castro, un inmenso sentimiento de tristeza invadió a los cubanos porque perdieron a su guía moral, a su brújula política, el que siempre estuvo en primera línea para defender el derecho de su pueblo a la autodeterminación. Fidel Castro deja como legado una idea justa y generosa: la de una lucha continua por la dignidad de los desheredados, de un reparto más equitativo de las riquezas y de una solidaridad inquebrantable con los pueblos que luchan por una vida mejor.

¿Qué espacio ocupaba Fidel Castro en la sociedad cubana en plena mutación desde que se retiró del poder?

SL: Fidel Castro se definió como un “soldado de las ideas”. Era de alguna forma el padre espiritual del pueblo cubano, el sabio a quien se consultaba para las decisiones estratégicas por su inmensa experiencia. Fidel Castro fue hasta su último aliento un observador atento de la sociedad cubana y del mundo y expresó una gran preocupación frente al cambio climático y a la amenaza nuclear.

¿Qué pensaba de la normalización de las relaciones con Estados Unidos?

SL: Conviene recordar la verdad histórica. Desde el triunfo de la Revolución cubana en 1959, Fidel Castro expresó su deseo de mantener relaciones cordiales y apaciguadas con Estados Unidos por razones de principios y por consideraciones pragmáticas. A cambio Washington debía respetar tres principios fundamentales y no negociables: la igualdad soberana entre los Estados, la reciprocidad y la no injerencia en los asuntos internos.

Mientras Cuba extendió un ramo de olivo a su vecino, Washington respondió imponiendo sanciones económicas implacables que infligen todavía intolerables sufrimientos al pueblo cubano. Luego el presidente Kennedy organizó la invasión de Bahía de Cochinos en 1961 y amenazó a la isla de desintegración nuclear durante la crisis de los misiles en 1961. La CIA multiplicó los atentados terroristas contra Cuba que costaron la vida a 3.478 personas e infligieron secuelas permanentes a otras 2.099. Desde 1959 Estados Unidos lleva una guerra política, diplomática y mediática continua contra Cuba.

Es entonces necesario recordar que el conflicto que opone Washington a La Habana es asimétrico, pues la hostilidad es unilateral. Son los Estados Unidos los que imponen sanciones a Cuba, los que ocupan ilegalmente una parte del territorio cubano (Guantánamo), los que financian a una oposición interna en Cuba y los que buscan conseguir un cambio de régimen.

Barack Obama reconoció que la política de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba era obsoleta e injusta y decidió establecer un diálogo con Raúl Castro. Fidel Castro, quien obró tanto por la paz en el mundo, desde luego estaba a favor de la resolución pacífica del diferendo que opone Washington a La Habana, aunque no se hacía ilusiones sobre las verdaderas intenciones del vecino del norte.

Raúl Castro anunció que no se volvería a presentar a su cargo en 2018, lo que significa en definitiva el fin de la “generación histórica”. ¿Cómo se considera este cambio político?

SL: Los cubanos saben desde hace varios años que Raúl Castro pondrá término de modo definitivo a su carrera política en 2018. Tienen entonces que hacer frente a tres retos de primera magnitud: el cambio generacional a la cabeza del país, la actual reforma del modelo económico y la nueva relación con Estados Unidos. Pero la Historia ha demostrado que los cubanos siempre responden con inteligencia a las nuevas realidades y que están apegados al zócalo de valores que cimientan la Revolución Cubana.

Desde 2009 la isla está involucrada en un proceso de reformas económicas estructurales ¿Acaso entran en contradicción con los ideales que han prevalecido hasta ahora y que Fidel Castro defendió hasta su muerte?

SL: Fidel Castro brindó su apoyo total al proceso de actualización del modelo económico en Cuba porque era necesario. “Revolución es cambiar todo lo que debe ser cambiado”, dijo en su famosa definición del concepto enunciada el 1 de mayo de 2000. No hay ninguna renuncia a los ideales del socialismo. El Estado mantiene el control de los medios de producción y de los sectores estratégicos. El nuevo modelo económico, aunque introduce algunos mecanismos de mercado, sigue basado en la planificación socialista a todos los niveles y la empresa de Estado socialista es la forma principal en la economía nacional. El país se abre a las inversiones extranjeras –con el objetivo de atraer los capitales indispensables para el desarrollo de la nación– mediante empresas mixtas, en las que el Estado cubano dispone siempre de una mayoría de al menos el 51%.

Así, el nuevo modelo económico cubano, basado en la planificación, una política de precios centralizada, la prohibición de concentración de riqueza, un salario mínimo y un salario máximo y la protección de todas las categorías de la población, particularmente de las más vulnerables (no hubo despidos masivos), es indudablemente socialista. Pero se adapta a su época basándose en la filosofía de José Martí, héroe nacional cubano, según el cual “el primer deber del hombre es ser un hombre de su tiempo”. Tiene como objetivo alcanzar una mayor eficiencia económica, luchar contra la burocracia y la corrupción, preservar las conquistas sociales de la Revolución Cubana, reforzar la República Social y mejorar el bienestar material y espiritual de todos los cubanos.

 

Texto em francés :

La Havane

Salim Lamrani : « Les Cubains répondent avec intelligence aux nouvelles réalités  »

(1)  Fidel Castro, héros des déshérités, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2016.

Fuente original: http://www.humanite.fr/salim-lamrani-les-cubains-repondent-avec-intelligence-aux-nouvelles-realites-627287

 *Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de La Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Cuba, ¡palabra a la defensa!, Hondarribia, Editorial Hiru, 2016.

http://www.tiendaeditorialhiru.com/informe/336-cuba-palabra-a-la-defensa.html

Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected]

Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

 

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Prime Minister, you said that in India even Beggars are going Cashless. You are absolutely true. I keep seeing the Whaatsapp message that you work for 18 hours a day, haven’t taken a single leave for the last many years, left your family. All these sacrifices you are making to take India to a digital world. Then why poor should be left out of this digital revolution. They should not. They should also go cashless.By this act they would only contribute to eradicating Black money. Of course, they have accumulated black money through years of hard earned savings, but just saved in a few thousands.

Yes Prime Minister, it is not a problem, if the poor do not earn even Rs. 32 a day (the official definition of poverty) to survive. It is not necessary if they do not get full employment and their income is erratic. They have solution at their hands. They still can go cashless and manage with Debit cards, Credit cards, e-Wallets with a Rs. 32 deposited into their Jan-dhan accounts.

Yes Prime Minister, in the Acche din that you have brought about and in this great digital revolution that you are bringing to the door step, digital needs precede the basic needs. It is not a problem if basic issues of Roti, Kapda, Makaan aren’t solved. We highly regard your vision of an Indian poor with a Smart Phone, a Laptop, a wifi connectivity. Roti, Kapda and Makaan of course are less of a necessity and can become secondary priorities.

Yes Prime Minister, it is time to address the issue of digital hunger. According to the Global hunger index, India is ranked 97th in the world among 118 countries on hunger index. But not a problem. More than the hunger for food, it is the digital hunger which needs to be addressed first. The Indian poor is more concerned with digital hunger than the food hunger.

Yes Prime Minister, Indian farmers should take lending in the cashless way. Half of India’s farmers, despite a banking system in place yet depend on Money lenders to get credit for their agricultural operations. There is no need for them to get better access to bank credit. Money lenders can lend the cashless way through depositing the credit into the jan dhan accounts of the poor. Money lending can be done in a new cashless way.

Yes Prime Minister, it is not a problem if basic education and health care needs of the poor aren’t addressed. It is not a problem if affordable education and health care is not made accessible to the poor. Access to debit cards, credit cards, e-wallets will automatically provide them access to good quality education and health care.

Yes Prime Minister, you are right. India needs to take the digital way. Half of India’s children are malnourished. 44% of children under the age of 5 are underweight, while 72% of infants have anaemia. Many of the sub-saharan countries are better placed in nutrition than India. But it is not a problem. More than the food malnourishment, it is the digital malnourishment which is a much needed necessity for Indian children. Children with I-Pads, a Smart phone but without proper food are a way to take India into to a digital world.

We completely stand with you Mr. Prime Minister

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Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq, after Baghdad. It is a city of 1.5 million people (according to UN estimates). It is a city where Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, Yezidis, Armenians, Assyrians, Turkmens, and even some followers of Christianity have coexisted for a very long time. Mosul is also the informal political and economic capital of Sunni Iraq. An ethnically multifaceted city, it has the highest percentage of Christians of all the Iraqi cities.

Economically, Mosul is a sufficiently large center of oil production. Before the Russian operation to target and destroy the oil caravans that had followed the “northern route”(Iraq-Syria-Turkey), ISIL received up to $ 50 million per month from this trade. Mosul is also a transportation hub. Three major highways pass through Mosul: the Baghdad (№1) – Mosul – Syrian border – Aleppo (M4), the Baghdad (№2) – Mosul – Turkish border,  and the Mosul – Kirkuk (№80). The branch of the so-called Baghdad railway also passes through the city. The city is located on the largest river in the Middle East, the Tigris River. The largest hydroelectric power station in Iraq is situated on this river (60 kilometers from the city).

On October 16, 2016, a decisive attempt to storm Mosul was once again declared. It should be noted that for ISIL, Mosul is their last stronghold in Iraq and a key source of income from oil sales. For the governments of Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan, it is a question of control over the region in which, first of all, their financial interests depend. For their western colleagues, the operation represents a important PR campaign and a source of political dividends.

One of the leaders of a Shia armed group of Iraq, Hadi Al-Amery, declared that Mosul on degree of duration and intensity of fighting, can become one more Aleppo.

Structure of coalition forces

  • Iraqi security forces (54000 soldiers)
  • Peshmerga (up to 40000 soldiers)
  • Sunni Militia loyal to the government (to 9000 people)
  • Shia militias, units of Turkmens, Yazidi and Christians that operate as a part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)  (up to 5000 people)
  • Approximately 5000 American servicemen
  • More than 130 artillery weapon systems, several hundred of armored vehicles, and also about 90 warplanes, helicopters and fighting unmanned aerial vehicles.

A patchwork coalition of anti-ISIS forces inevitably creates additional problems during operations, firstly concerning the organization of troops’ cooperation and coordination. About 9000 Islamic State terrorists full of determination not to hand over the city, equipped with many vehicle bound improvised explosive devises (VBIED) and chemical weapons stand in opposition to them. The absolute advantage in numbers, equipment and professionalism definitely favor of the coalition.

However, anti-ISIS forces face a number of problems and the worse humanitarian situation in the city is only one of them. On the UN’s initiative, 5 camps for 120000 people are ready to be organized. It is obviously not enough for the estimated 1.5 million people that reside in the city

There are former officers of Saddam’s army among ISIL fighters who are natives of Mosul and who perfectly know the city and its communications. This fact makes storming of the city almost an impracticable task. Among the enlisted personnel of ISIL there is a significant number of fighters who have experience of conducting urban warfare in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Libya, and Syria. These people know all about warfare in an urban environment. The western media draw the Islamic State terrorist as wild, cruel and stupid. Such light-mindedness in the enemy’s assessment already leads to casualties. In less than a month of combat in the suburbs of Mosul, in areas with a civilian population loyal to the government coalition, there have already been more than 3000 people killed and wounded, 22 tanks, and more than 120 lightly armored vehicles destroyed.

Defense of the city by ISIL is conducted in due regard for the tenants of military science. The city has been under the control of ISIL for a long time and is respectively prepared in regard to the engineering of defensive positions. As the Iraqi military has repeatedly attempted to storm Mosul in the past, IS commanders have surely carried out measures to strengthen the most vulnerable sites of defense. Tactical methods of ISIL fighters are characterized by quick maneuvering in a square with use of these prepared avenues of approach, ambushes and traps. Grenade launchers (RPG-7, RPG-18, RPG-22) are used in large quantities and mortars are more rare in the conditions of fighting in the city. In the areas where the enemy is most likely to appear, mines traps and land mines are already prepared. On highways, ISIL uses VBIED and long-range artillery in large quantities. The nature of these attacks demoralizes the opponent, and reduces the rate of his offensive. As camouflage security from air strikes, and also with the purpose to complicate overcoming defense of the city, holes and trenches with oil products are set on fire. From the beginning of the latest Mosul operation, IS conducted a counterattack near the city of Kirkuk, in an effort to bleed resources away from the coalition’s efforts against Mosul.  Similar attacks were made in 2015 and 2016 to distract attention away from the city. IS uses long-range artillery, including shells filled with mustard gas and chlorine in areas which are attacked by peshmerga units. On October 20, 2016 Islamic State terrorists arranged an act of sabotage in Al-Mishraq, at a sulfur plant. This action resulted in the mass poisoning of civilians. ISIL is also using civilians as human shields to prevent air strikes.

The general concept of the operation is as follows: Units of peshmerga conduct an attack from the North and the East. The ISF, with the assistance of Shiite militia conduct an attack from the South. The armed groups of Kurds are tasked with blockading the city. The ISF takes Mosul under control.

There are about 5000 American soldiers deployed near Mosul. Official sources have specified that there are about 200 soldiers in the combat zone, generally it is USSOCOM personnel and forward air observers. How the remaining 4800 soldiers are employed has yet to be specified. As far as information is available, 1,700 soldiers of the 2nd brigade of the 101st airborne division are placed at Qayyarah air base, approximately 60 km from Mosul. Units of the 18th field artillery brigade are deployed at the same location to provide fire support to the American paratroopers. Besides that, the USMC battalion (Task Force Spartan) also acts in this area. Units of the 82nd airborne division shall replace their colleagues from the 101st division. They completed a two-month course in urban warfare, and also  warfare in a chemical weapons environment. An exact time frame of rotating the airborne units has not been announced. This means that the Pentagon may be keeping the paratroopers of the 101st airborne division in reserve.

It appears that the pre-election project of the Democratic Party of the USA, under the title “Quick Capture of Mosul” has, seemingly, failed together with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Now, the tactics of the USA administration have changed. This may mean that Donald Trump gets dragged into a quagmire of a war. That being stated, high-ranking Pentagon officials no longer believe that the Iraqi military is capable of taking Mosul, and have been preparing a plan with greater participation of the US Armed Forces.

Troops of the USA have already sustained losses: 16 killed and 27 wounded in the first 3 weeks of the offensive. The majority of these US casualties were due to artillery fire, the detonation of mines and friendly fire from coalition aircraft.

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Angela Merkel’s Benign Dictatorship

December 5th, 2016 by Michael Werbowski

The mainstream media portrays the German chancellor as the guardian of western liberal democratic principles.

 Europeans are led to believe the German leader is following in the steps of enlightment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, Jefferson or her compatriot Wilhelm von Humboldt. And she’s certainly not carrying on the tyrannical tradition of former East German rulers like Walter Ulbright or Erich Honecker. Or is she?

Merkel Uber alles

However after her official announcement to run for a fourth term as chancellor one must question where Germany’s so called “liberal democracy” is headed (1). Merkel faces ostensibly little opposition within her own CDU party. Furthermore Germany’s left is weak, fractured, and too caught in the debate over how compassionate the country can and ought to be regarding the on-going influx of migrants or refugees (both genuine and bogus, of which some of them have links to Islamic radical groups).  Her grip on power is unchallenged. Merkel hasn’t officially designated any successors to her rule, but those tipped to follow in her reign are mostly “yes, men (and women)”, who come from her inner circle of advisors and powerbrokers. The only exception or “outsider” is the much younger Ms. Frauke Pefry leader of the AfD party. She heads, the far right anti-immigrant political grouping, whose members yet to be elected, most likely, in the 2017 may sit in the Bundestag for the fist time since the Second World War (2).

Trumplandia versus Merkeland

With the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency this year, Ms. Merkel’s main humanitarian doctrine or guiding political principle, of “open borders” is under threat. As one leader has called for the building of a Wall to keep migrants out of America, the other persists with her purist and uncompromising “free-movement” policy of mass migration. Friction on this front policy front is immanent, if she is re-elected chancellor. Other ideological clashes between Trump and Merkel are bound to occur, such as what stance to adopt towards the Kremlin Leadership. However others se it, “Mutti” Merkel is a committed ideologue to the cause of non-impeded migration.

These words she pronounced at the time, to the now departing US president:

History has often showed us the strength of the forces that are unleashed by the yearning for freedom. It moved people to overcome their fears and openly confront dictators such as in East Germany and Eastern Europe about 22 years ago. […] The yearning for freedom cannot be contained by walls for long. It was this yearning that brought down the Iron Curtain that divided Germany and Europe, and indeed the world, into two blocs.”

This statement reflects her unflinching belief in the free movement of people no matter where they may come from, or regardless of their real motives to come to Germany. Such conviction on her part runs into direct contraction with the leadership views of other less powerful yet very outspoken nations.  EU member states such as Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, and France and of course after the Brexit the UK as well are deeply sceptical on the issue of unprotected borders.

On the economy Merkel get high marks. She has kept the German industrial juggernaut chugging along rather gingerly. Unemployment is one of the lowest within the EU. Her commitment to the faltering post-crisis Euro currency is unflappapable. Or as she puts it: “The euro is our common fate, and Europe is our common future.”

But the hang-over or fall-out from the deep recession which was caused by Berlin’s dictated austerity policies in southern Europe remain painfully evident to this day. Finally, the recent spat of terror attacks in Germany over the past year, and the shocking news of Islamist moles infiltrating German counter espionage networks (3), will undoubtedly undermine Merkel’s refugee policy and call into question Germany’s good will and generosity to foreigners and other newcomers. Merkel may have to tighten the reign of power in 2017, as a result. If she becomes chancellor for another term next year, then a “benign dictatorship” is almost assured.

Notes

1: (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/merkel-fourth-term-annoucement-1.3859221

2: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/angela-merkel-six-contenders-who-dream-toppling-germanys-embattled-chancellor-1549678

3: https://www.ft.com/content/933979c8-b6e3-11e6-961e-a1acd97f622d

 

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A recent survey of construction companies involved in World Cup-related infrastructure projects in Qatar raises questions about whether the Gulf state and world soccer body FIFA are doing all that could do to enforce international standards for the living and working conditions of migrant workers as well as adherence to human rights.]

The issue of Qatar and FIFA’s sincerity is underscored by the fact that a majority of 100 companies operating in Qatar as well as the United Arab Emirates, which prides itself on enacting the region’s most advanced labour-related legislation and regulation, felt no need in a recent survey to be transparent about their commitment to labour and human rights. The apparent lack of pressure on companies suggests that Qatar and FIFA have so far passed on opportunities to enforce adherence to standards.

Both Qatar and FIFA have been under pressure from human rights groups and trade unions to reform the Gulf state’s onerous kafala or labour sponsorship system that deprives workers of basic rights and puts them at the mercy of their employers. The pressure on Qatar coupled with economic difficulties as the result of tumbling energy prices have prompted virtually all Gulf states to tinker with their labour regimes.

To be sure, Qatar has responded to the pressure by becoming the only Gulf state to engage with its critics. It has also promised to legislate initial reforms that fall short of activists’ demands by the end of the year. Several major Qatari institutions, including the 2022 World Cup organizing committee and Qatar Foundation, have adopted standards and model contracts that significantly improve workers’ living and working conditions.

Those standards have yet in their totality to be enshrined in national legislation. Even that however would not resolve all issues, first and foremost among them the requirement of an exit visa to leave the country.

An Amnesty International report published earlier this year charged that migrant workers involved in World Cup-related infrastructure were still subjected to “appalling” human rights abuses six years after the hosting of the tournament was awarded to Qatar and at the halfway mark since the hosting rights were awarded to the Gulf state. The 2022 Qatari committee has said issues in the report have since been addressed.

Qatar moreover recently announced that a major international union, Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), would be included in inspections of World Cup construction sites in the Gulf state. Italian company Salini Impregilo, one the companies surveyed, earlier signed an agreement with BWI and Italian construction unions to promote and respect human rights and has allowed BWI to visit its worker accommodations in Qatar.

The onus on FIFA to ensure adherence to workers and human rights meanwhile is about to increase with the soccer body’s decision to take over responsibility for preparations of World Cups starting with the Qatar tournament.

FIFA earlier this year endorsed a report it had commissioned from Harvard international affairs and human rights professor John Ruggie, a former United Nations Secretary-General special representative for business and human rights. Mr. Ruggie provided advice on how FIFA should embed the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into everything it does.

Less than a quarter of the companies approached for the survey by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre deemed it appropriate to respond despite FIFA and Qatar’s public commitments to workers and human rights. Less than 40 percent of the companies approached publicly expressed a commitment to human rights and only 17 percent refer to international standards. Only three publicly acknowledge rights of migrant workers.

The survey noted that three UAE companies – Arabtec, BK Gulf (a subsidiary of UK-headquartered Balfour Beatty), Habtoor Leighton Group, and Al Jaber Group – that had failed to respond to the survey were recipients of the Emirates’ 2016 Taqdeer Award for excellence in labour relations.

Similarly, none of the companies with headquarters in Asia — China, India, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea – responded.

“The lack of response represents a missed opportunity to demonstrate the actions they are taking to adhere to the Workers’ Welfare Standards of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy,” the 2022 Qatari committee, the survey noted.

The survey singled out several companies that had taken steps to improve safeguards for migrant workers. Those companies include Vinci (QDVC), a joint venture between Qatar Diar Real Estate Investment Company, a subsidiary of the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, and France’s VINCI (QDVC) Construction Grand Projects. Ironically, Sherpa, a French human rights group, accused VINCI last year of employing forced labour and “keeping people in servitude.” VINCI, which employs 3,500 people in Qatar, denied the charges and threatened to sue Sherpa.

The survey said the willingness of companies to publicly detail their commitment to workers and human rights was important because “transparency on human rights issues has been an important driver of progress in other sectors. It generates examples of best practice that can be shared publicly with others and replicated, and enables accountability such that civil society, investors and others can hold companies to their stated actions, or call them out for inaction.”

Beyond health, safety, worker accommodation and timely payment of wages, the survey identified fair recruitment based on the principle of the employer pays, freedom of movement, worker input, and supply chain accountability as key issues that companies needed to address. The survey noted that the most progressive companies had found ways to circumvent Gulf restrictions on freedom of association and collective organisation.

Best practices included personal storage compartments in workers’ living quarters provided by Vinci (QDVC) and Laing O’Rourke to ensure that workers have sole custody of their passports in a country in which employers often illegally confiscate travel documents.

Vinci (QDVC) alongside Laing O’ Rourke, Multiplex, Salini Impregilo, SNC-Lavalin ensure that recruitment companies that illegally charge workers exorbitant fees reimbursed those recruited. Workers often arrive in Qatar and other Gulf states heavily indebted as a result of recruitment fees even though they are banned by law in Qatar and the UAE.

Carillion, Laing O’Rourke and Salini Impregilo said they supported the principle of freedom of association by providing workers in the Gulf with alternative means of expression and collective organising through worker welfare committees.

“Committed and concerted action by the construction industry holds the potential to prevent exploitation and drive genuine improvements in the lives of millions of workers around the world. While our outreach has identified some promising leading examples, the entire sector has a long way to travel to fulfil its human rights commitments,” the survey concluded.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a recently published book with the same title, and also just published Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario.

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Cannon Ball, North Dakota (Oceti Sakowin or Council of the Seven Fires Camp) – Today, the people won a major victory in the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The US Army Corps of Engineers sided with the Water Protectors and refused the final permit that would have allowed Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe.

There will be battles ahead but this was another amazing people-powered victory.

When people unite, we have power. This time people power defeated big oil and big finance.

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View of the camp from Media Hill.

When we arrived at the Oceti Sakowin Camp this morning, we were impressed by its size and organization. From our view on the highway, the camp stretched far into the distance and was packed with all kinds of structures. While we sat in a long line of cars waiting to enter, friendly volunteers were stationed along the road to manage traffic, make sure that we weren’t bringing any banned items into camp and orient us. News trucks were stationed on the closed portion of the highway just north of the camp entrance.

Today is the last day before the Corps of Engineers’ eviction notice is supposed to go into effect and thousands of people were converging at the camp. Some long time camp residents said that the camp population had doubled this weekend. We estimate that at least 1,000 cars and buses came to the camp today.

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Two of the Yurts at the MedicHealer Council.

The camp looked full and we were concerned that finding a parking space would be difficult. We called Popular Resistance reporter, Crystal Zevon and she met us at the entrance gate to show us around. The main street is lined with flags. We followed it to the MedicHealer area and found a spot not too far away. We had a large bag of donations to deliver.

The MedicHealer area consisted of a series of yurts with colorful doors and storage tents and sheds. The daily noon orientation was cancelled due to the overwhelming influx of new people. Margaret set to work helping to organize new donations and Kevin set out to deliver non-medical donations and find the legal tent. We saw many familiar faces, people we have worked with on a variety of  issues — climate justice, stopping extreme energy, stopping wars, racism and more.

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People hear the news of the Corps of Engineers decision at the Sacred Circle.

The courage and ethics of the participants at Standing Rock, some of whom have been there since April, were like a magnet to those of us who care about justice and the future of the planet. When the militarized police and corporate mercenaries used extreme, violent tactics, we and many others felt we had no choice but to be there — to stand with the Water Protectors at this critical moment when the Corps of Engineers was threatening to evict them and the Governor claimed there was an emergency and people had to be removed. Tens of thousands showed up in solidarity at this ceremonial, prayer camp that stood for Indigenous rights and the people and planet over corporate profit.

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Wood stoves unpacked and ready to go.

In the afternoon, the news went around that the Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit for the final phase of the pipeline. At first it was hard to believe and we were skeptical. People around us asked — who said that, what is the source? Then we heard the announcement at the Sacred Circle and we were convinced. People whooped and hollered, pumped fists in the air, beat drums and danced in celebration.

There are many lessons from #NoDAPL that can be applied to stop other pipelines and on other issues. No doubt having 20,000+ people there the day before the Corps of Engineers said there was going to be an eviction sent a powerful message that the people would not obey. Walking through the camp today we saw people digging in for the winter. They were building long-term structures out of wood and straw bail, cutting firewood, building their health, legal and media centers, and food services — showing they were not leaving. They were installing military tents with wood stoves, indeed wood stoves could be seen in many parts of the camp ready for installation. Solar panels were also evident in various parts of the camp, ensuring a long-term energy supply.

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Youth snow sliding down Media Hill.

#NoDAPL placed the government in a lose-lose situation. There were so many people there that it would have been very difficult to clear the camp. It was reported today that there will not be efforts by  any of the agencies from local to state to federal to evacuate the camp. And if the government had tried to clear the camp against the people’s will, then that would have increased support for the Water Protectors. If they leave the camp alone, it will prevent further construction of the pipeline. This is a classic example of how nonviolent campaigns work, put the government/corporations in a situation where they have no winning alternative except to grant the movement’s demands.

We recognize this is an important victory, but not a final one. On their Facebook page the Standing Rock Sioux are also clear. They write that there are still many questions to be answered . Here are ten issues they have initially raised, no doubt more information will be coming from them soon.

  1. Will the Army Corps actually conduct an Environmental Impact Statement? If so, on what portion of the project – just the river crossing, or the whole pipeline?
  2. What issues will the EIS take into account? (for example, will it include an analysis of spill risk? how about sacred sites? will it reassess the economic need for the pipeline now that the bakken is busting?)
  3. Which alternative routes will be considered? Will a “no-build” option also be considered?
  4. How long will the EIS take?
  5.  What input will the tribe have? What will the public participation process look like?
  6. In what way(s) was the original Environmental Assessment prepared by the Army Corps deemed inadequate?
  7. What was the result of the tribal consultation process exploring possible changes to the regulatory process for pipelines in general? have any changes been proposed?
  8.  How easily will these decisions be reversed by a Trump administration?
  9. How will these decisions be affected by the outcomes of DAPL’s lawsuit against the Army Corps, scheduled to be heard on Friday?
  10. Is the US government prepared to use force to stop the company from drilling under the river without a permit, if necessary?

20161204_131147 Last week people united stopped ratification of the TPP against transnational corporate power. Now, this is a tremendous victory over the oil industry as well as their big financiers.

Watch out, people may soon realize we have power when we join together and mobilize.

We head back to the Oceti Sakowin camp tomorrow.

We look forward to finding out what the next steps will be in this campaign.

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Haiti Rejects Election Under Occupation

December 5th, 2016 by Dady Chery

The discredited mainstream media has evidently not learned anything from the fiasco of the 2016 United States presidential election, for which it predicted an 85 percent probability of a Hillary Clinton win, instead of the Donald Trump landslide that happened.

This was not the mainstream’s first foray into the business of manipulating elections. In December 2014, Reuters, AP, Miami Herald, and Huffington Post,among others, declared Evans Paul to be prime minister of Haiti without the requisite approval of the parliament, and it was so. Something similar was done when they called California for Hillary Clinton, before the votes were counted, and handed her the democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders in June 2016. Now mainstream outfits, including the BBCNew York TimesGuardian, and Fox News are trying to make Jovenel Moise Haiti’s president by pretending not to know the difference between a preliminary and a final result.

In Haiti, there is a constitutionally allowed period during which candidates may contest the preliminary results of an election. Such contests are routine, and the results are often changed by them. The foreign correspondents in Haiti know this, but they prefer to ignore it. It is a fact that Haiti’s top three political parties (LAPEH, Pitit Desalin, and Fanmi Lavalas) are all contesting the presidential elections of November 20, 2016. As the LAPEH candidate, Jude Celestin, points out, the aim is not so much to increase their percentage of the vote, but to prove that the election was rigged and force a rejection of any candidate who illegally tried to cook the vote. Preliminary results of the election were announced on Monday, November 28. Until the election results are published in the government’s newspaper, Le Moniteur, on December 29, 2016, they are not final.

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Haiti is an occupied country. Make no mistake about it: the foreign correspondents who populate Port-au-Prince’s bougainvillea covered hills, along with the non-governmental organization people, are complicit with the occupation. Free and fair elections of a nationalistic government would cost them their undeserved jobs as well as their colonial lifestyles with a retinue of servants inside gated clusters of whites-only-allowed villas. Jovenel Moise would continue Hillary and Bill Clinton’s policies, lay the groundwork for a Michel Martelly return in five years, and himself return five years later. This would represent a total of 20 years of uninterrupted Clinton-wrought destruction of Haitians, but the expatriates in Haiti would luxuriate in an intoxicating tropical paradise.

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The fuzzy numbers of Haiti’s Elections: Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile

When their work is viewed in this context, it is not surprising that Haiti’s foreign correspondents have failed to ask any serious question about an election that cries out to be examined.

According to the Interim Electoral Commission (CEP), the number of Haiti’s voters on November 20 was exactly 1.0 million. This could, of course, signify nothing. On the other hand, it could mean that our cheats, not being fluent in arithmetic, prefer their numbers round. Before the vote, the CEP reported the total number of eligible voters to be 6.2 million; but after the vote, the same CEP said that 1.0 million voters amounted to 21 percent of the electorate. This would instead put the number of eligible voters at 4.8 million, and it begs the question: what happened to 1.4 million Haitian voters? These days, most of Haiti’s problems are blamed on Hurricane Matthew. It might be entertaining to watch the CEP try to lose more than a million people to a hurricane.

The PHTK candidate and darling of the international community, Jovenel Moise, was assigned 55.67 percent of the preliminary vote. This is a laughable degree of accuracy, since Haiti’s human rights groups and political parties estimate that 50 percent of the votes were irregular. Speaking of the irregular vote: if we grant a turnout of 1.0 million voters out of 6.2 million, and discard a 50-percent zombie vote, then we’re left with the conclusion that only 8 percent of Haiti’s voters showed up to the polls. In other words, 92 percent of Haiti’s voters once again boycotted the charade of an election under foreign occupation.

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Dady Chery is the author of We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation | All photographs were taken in Port-au-Prince on November 28 and 29, 2016; photograph three is by Bahare Khodabande.

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US Furious at UN Over Differing Afghan War Reports

December 5th, 2016 by Jason Ditz

15 years into the Afghan War, Pentagon statements are almost never the final word on what happened. False denials and upbeat predictions that never pan out have left US credibility incredibly low. Time and again, UN reports have contradicted the official US narrative, only to be proven correct, to the embarrassment of the occupation forces.

Patience appears to be wearing thin after 15 years of inconvenient truth getting in the way of the military’s version of events, with both UN and US officials saying relations between the two are “a nightmare,” and that the latest US commander, Gen. John Nicholson, has been considering a serious crackdown on the UN, even recently considering expelling all UN personnel from a military base within Kabul.

The disagreement was a common enough one. US drones had killed a bunch of civilians in the Nangarhar Province, and the Pentagon declared that everyone they killed was ISIS. Locals disputed the US version of events, and the UN concurred that the victims in the house the US blew up were indeed civilians.

It’s worth noting that this happens literally all the time, as in recent years hardly an incident of US airstrikes killing civilians goes by without the initial US statement being that everyone, whether they’re women or children or what have you, were “terrorists.”

As the war gets worse, the UN’s reports are increasingly documenting some of the most unsavory parts, like the rising civilian death toll in Afghanistan including a growing number of people killed in airstrikes, and with US commanders under constant pressure to show at least the illusion of progress in the war, that’s likely to mean growing efforts to silence the UN.

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With the passing of Thailand’s head of state, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a universally revered cultural and pragmatic leader for the last 70 years, Thailand’s enemies see an opportunity in what they perceive as a void in national unity.

Throughout Washington’s policy circles, several articles containing analysis have been circulated regarding an opportunity for “change” or a “New Thailand.”

The least subtle of these articles is Foreign Policy magazine’s “A Chance for Change in the New Thailand: Now that the king is gone, can Thailand’s opposition come together to challenge the ruling military junta?,” which in title alone gives away the West’s desire to foment the sort of “colour revolutions” and “regime change” it has backed around the world from North Africa to the Middle East to Eastern Europe and even Asia itself.

The article makes fundamental mistakes no real geopolitical analysis would make if informing readers was their goal. They are, however, mistakes one would make if they were advocating regime change and needed to create a false pretext with which to justify it.

The article claims:

the waiting game is now over. In a few months at most — following a period of mourning for the beloved king — the dust will settle and a new political landscape will come into being. In this new environment, the democratic opposition will be able to organize and mobilize far more effectively for a return to democratic rule. It will be able to capitalize on the unpopularity of the new king, mobilizing populations who were unwilling to challenge the junta and its royal mandate. It will also be able to unite various groups around common strategies and campaigns, now that the uncertainties of the referendum and the king’s health have passed. These campaigns might target the new centers of power, or use elections as mobilizing opportunities, or focus on uniting both major parties against the junta.

But of course, this will depend on the ability of civil society groups to bridge their divisions and unite behind a single banner: returning Thailand to democratic governance.

However, the so-called “democratic opposition” Foreign Policy deceptively refers to is in fact simply the supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, who represent a small and dwindling minority amid Thai politics.
Even in 2011, when Shinawatra’s sister took power, his political party garnered the support of only 35% of all eligible voters, failed to win even the popular vote and when in 2014 tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to call for the resignation of his party from power, he failed to mobilise a street presence even remotely proportional in his own support.
Shinawatra himself was a categorically undemocratic figure himself who sought to create a single party government, actively eliminated his political enemies both through litigation and through assassinations as well as cultivated a violent street movement used to intimidate and coerce the population.

In 2006 he was ultimately ousted from power. In his place, and only under the guise of “democracy,” Shinawatra would have his brother-in-law and even his sister take his place as prime minister. In actuality, Shinawatra’s rule over Thailand resembled third-world banana republicanism, not “democratic opposition.”

“Democratic opposition” in Thailand is actually the same foreign-backed, violent and dishonest rabble that has set upon nations from Libya to Syria, from Ukraine to Myanmar, dividing and destroying nations then turning them over to Western-backed despots

And since his ouster in 2006, he and his sponsors abroad, including the United States and Europe, have created for him the same recipe of foreign-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), student groups, alleged pro-democracy media platforms and even armed groups required to seize back power and implement policies favourable to the West.

In reality, the majority of Thailand’s population are either indifferent to the current political struggle, or are acutely aware of just how undemocratic Foreign Policy’s “democratic opposition” truly is.

The single banner of “returning Thailand to democratic governance” is problematic when all involved knows that what Foreign Policy really means is returning a government to power loyal to both Thaksin Shinawatra and his foreign sponsors who have invested years and billions in lobbying and network building in him.

The Asian Game Board 

Thailand is but one of several nations along China’s peripheries that the United States and its European allies seeks to control and turn against Beijing in a bid to isolate Chinese interests, and eventually overthrow them within China proper.

It is no coincidence that Foreign Policy’s supposed “democratic opposition” in Thailand is receiving funding from the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Open Society, side-by-side with similar outfits in neighbouring Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia.

Foreign Policy’s “democratic opposition” would be more accurately described as agents of foreign special interests.

Putting pressure on, and if necessary, overthrowing non-compliant governments in the region has little to do with promoting actual democracy. For example, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi who declared herself “State Counsellor,” an office she literally created for herself upon her National League for Democracy (NLD) winning recent elections, has since ended up locking up journalists seen as overly critical of her regime all while continuing a brutal campaign of repression against Myanmar’s Rohingya minorities.

Clearly, she is ever bit as undemocratic as the US and Europe claimed the government she replaced was. She, however, cooperates with Western designs both in Myanmar in regards to monopolising its people, resources and economy as well as using Myanmar as part of a wider, regional strategy in which the US seeks to reassert itself geopolitically.

In reality then, this “New Thailand” Foreign Policy magazine seeks the creation of is simply a Thailand devoid of its own, independent institutions and one that is run instead by deeply indebted, corrupt political parties and a network of front organisations masquerading as NGOs and “student groups” completely dependent on US and European financial and political support.

This incremental, systematic cultural and political colonisation of nations by the West and its various extraterritorial institutions requires an active and intelligent defence. Nations like Russia and China are reforming their NGO laws to eliminate organisations merely posing as “nongovernmental” and independent. They are also creating alternatives to platforms like Facebook and Google which are used to manipulate public perception from abroad.

Both nations also possess their own media organisations aimed at confronting and overcoming the din of propaganda generated by Western media, including righting the wrongs presented in publications like Foreign Policy.

If Thailand and other nations in Asia are able to put up this active and intelligent defence of their national sovereignty and regional stability, the second leg of America’s “pivot toward Asia” will fail as miserably as its first.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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Media Complicity Is Key to Blacklisting Websites

December 5th, 2016 by Norman Solomon

We still don’t have any sort of apology or retraction from the Washington Post for promoting “The List” — the highly dangerous blacklist that got a huge boost from the newspaper’s fawning coverage on November 24. The project of smearing 200 websites with one broad brush wouldn’t have gotten far without the avid complicity of high-profile media outlets, starting with the Post.

On Thursday — a week after the Post published its front-page news article hyping the blacklist that was put out by a group of unidentified people called PropOrNot — I sent a petition statement to the newspaper’s executive editor Martin Baron.

“Smearing is not reporting,” the RootsAction petition says. “The Washington Post’s recent descent into McCarthyism — promoting anonymous and shoddy claims that a vast range of some 200 websites are all accomplices or tools of the Russian government — violates basic journalistic standards and does real harm to democratic discourse in our country. We urge the Washington Post to prominently retract the article and apologize for publishing it.”

After mentioning that 6,000 people had signed the petition (the number has doubled since then), my email to Baron added: “If you skim through the comments that many of the signers added to the petition online, I think you might find them to be of interest. I wonder if you see a basis for dialogue on the issues raised by critics of the Post piece in question.”

The reply came from the newspaper’s vice president for public relations, Kristine Coratti Kelly, who thanked me “for reaching out to us” before presenting the Post’s response, quoted here in full:

“The Post reported on the work of four separate sets of researchers, as well as independent experts, who have examined Russian attempts to influence American democracy. PropOrNot was one. The Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list of organizations that it said had — wittingly or unwittingly — published or echoed Russian propaganda. The Post reviewed PropOrNot’s findings and our questions about them were answered satisfactorily during the course of multiple interviews.”

But that damage-control response was as full of holes as the news story it tried to defend.

For one thing, PropOrNot wasn’t just another source for the Post’s story. As The New Yorker noted in a devastating article on Dec. 1, the story “prominently cited the PropOrNot research.” The Post’s account “had the force of revelation, thanks in large part to the apparent scientific authority of PropOrNot’s work: the group released a 32-page report detailing its methodology, and named names with its list of 200 suspect news outlets…. But a close look at the report showed that it was a mess.”

Contrary to the PR message from the Post vice president, PropOrNot did not merely say that the sites on its list had “published or echoed Russian propaganda.” Without a word of the slightest doubt or skepticism in the entire story, the Post summarized PropOrNot’s characterization of all the websites on its list as falling into two categories: “Some players in this online echo chamber were knowingly part of the propaganda campaign, the researchers concluded, while others were ‘useful idiots’ — a term born of the Cold War to describe people or institutions that unknowingly assisted Soviet Union propaganda efforts.”

As The New Yorker pointed out, PropOrNot’s criteria for incriminating content were broad enough to include “nearly every news outlet in the world, including the Post itself.”

Yet “The List” is not a random list by any means — it’s a targeted mish-mash, naming websites that are not within shouting distance of the U.S. corporate and foreign policy establishment.

And so the list includes a few overtly Russian-funded outlets; some other sites generally aligned with Kremlin outlooks; many pro-Trump sites, often unacquainted with what it means to be factual and sometimes overtly racist; and other websites that are quite different — solid, factual, reasonable — but too progressive or too anti-capitalist or too libertarian or too right-wing or just plain too independent-minded for the evident tastes of whoever is behind PropOrNot.

As The New Yorker’s writer Adrian Chen put it: “To PropOrNot, simply exhibiting a pattern of beliefs outside the political mainstream is enough to risk being labeled a Russian propagandist.” And he concluded: “Despite the impressive-looking diagrams and figures in its report, PropOrNot’s findings rest largely on innuendo and conspiracy thinking.”

As for the Post vice president’s defensive phrasing that “the Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list,” the fact is that the Post unequivocally promoted PropOrNot, driving web traffic to its site and adding a hotlink to the anonymous group’s 32-page report soon after the newspaper’s story first appeared. As I mentioned in my reply to her: “Unfortunately, it’s kind of like a newspaper saying that it didn’t name any of the people on the Red Channels blacklist in 1950 while promoting it in news coverage, so no problem.”

As much as the Post news management might want to weasel out of the comparison, the parallels to the advent of the McCarthy Era are chilling. For instance, the Red Channels list, with 151 names on it, was successful as a weapon against dissent and free speech in large part because, early on, so many media outlets of the day actively aided and abetted blacklisting, as the Post has done for “The List.”

Consider how the Post story described the personnel of PropOrNot in favorable terms even while hiding all of their identities and thus shielding them from any scrutiny — calling them “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”

So far The New Yorker has been the largest media outlet to directly confront the Post’s egregious story. Cogent assessments can also be found at The InterceptConsortium NewsCommon DreamsAlterNetRolling StoneFortuneCounterPunch The Nation and numerous other sites.

But many mainline journalists and outlets jumped at the chance to amplify the Post’s piece of work. A sampling of the cheers from prominent journalists and liberal partisans was published by FAIR.org under the apt headline “Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited ‘Fake News’ Blacklist?

FAIR’s media analyst Adam Johnson cited enthusiastic responses to the bogus story from journalists like Bloomberg’s Sahil Kupar and MSNBC’s Joy Reid — and such outlets as USA TodayGizmodo, the PBS NewsHourThe Daily BeastSlateAPThe Verge and NPR, which “all uncritically wrote up the Post’s most incendiary claims with little or minimal pushback.” On the MSNBC site, the Rachel Maddow Show’s blog “added another breathless write-up hours later, repeating the catchy talking point that ‘it was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign.’”

With so many people understandably upset about Trump’s victory, there’s an evident attraction to blaming the Kremlin, a convenient scapegoat for Hillary Clinton’s loss. But the Post’s blacklisting story and the media’s amplification of it — and the overall political environment that it helps to create — are all building blocks for a reactionary order, threatening the First Amendment and a range of civil liberties.

When liberals have green lighted a witch-hunt, right wingers have been pleased to run with it. President Harry Truman issued an executive order in March 1947 to establish “loyalty” investigations in every agency of the federal government. Joe McCarthy and the era named after him were soon to follow.

In media and government, the journalists and officials who enable blacklisting are cravenly siding with conformity instead of democracy.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of the online activist group RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

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The disclosure by President-elect Donald Trump Thursday night that he will appoint retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as his secretary of defense has been greeted with approval across the political establishment and in the major organs of the corporate-controlled media.

Trump made the remark towards the end of his rally-style address in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he elaborated a perspective that combined extreme nationalism and militarism with demagogic promises to defend the interests of the working class. He referred several times to Mattis’s nickname, “Mad Dog,” given to him after he led the savage Marine counteroffensive that retook the Iraqi city of Fallujah in December 2004. Only in today’s America could the nomination of a general with that moniker be hailed as a sign of moderation and good sense.

Mattis’s nomination will require special legislation to pass Congress, since current law requires that a military officer be retired for at least seven years before returning to the Pentagon in a high-ranking position reserved for civilians.

When the Department of Defense was established in 1947, replacing the Department of War, Congress stipulated that no one who had served as a commissioned officer within ten years (reduced to seven in 2008) could be appointed. Though this requirement was immediately waived to allow for the appointment of General George Marshall in 1950, no former general has occupied the post in the past 66 years.

There is, however, no commitment to the basic democratic issue of civilian control of the military within the US political establishment. There is little opposition in Congress, in either party, to the passage of a waiver for Mattis.

Mattis has a long and bloody career. He played leading operational roles in both the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003-2004. He later co-authored the Pentagon’s counterinsurgency warfare manual with General David Petraeus, and held a top position with NATO.

He ended his career as head of the US Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing the US withdrawal from Iraq, the increasingly bloody stalemate in Afghanistan, and the US efforts to bolster the Egyptian military against the revolutionary upsurge in that country. He also supervised the drawing up of US plans for intervention in Syria, hailing the armed Islamic uprising against the Assad regime as a potentially devastating strategic blow to Assad’s ally Iran.

The four-star general was removed from his post at CENTCOM five months early, after he came into conflict with the Obama White House over its policy towards Iran, which he regarded as unduly conciliatory. Once retired, Mattis made his differences public, blasting the Obama administration for what he called its “policy of disengagement in the Middle East.”

This public criticism endeared Mattis to all factions of the Republican Party. “Never Trump” conservatives like William Kristol floated his name as a possible independent candidate for president against Trump. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton invited him to speak in their support at the Republican and Democratic conventions, but he declined to play any role in the 2016 campaign.

In the corporate-controlled elite media, there is remarkable unanimity in support of Trump’s appointment. The praise of Mattis runs the gamut from conservative to liberal.

The Wall Street Journal headlined its editorial, “Oorah, General Mattis,” saying that while Trump picked cronies for other positions, he “has chosen a Defense Secretary on the merits.” As for the constitutional implications, the editorial states, “The principle of civilian leadership is important, but Gen. Mattis has the knowledge and experience to deserve the dispensation.”

The Washington Post, while expressing some reservations about the prominence of retired military officers in the unfolding Trump administration, nonetheless concludes that a waiver of the ban on a retired general heading the Pentagon is warranted, supposedly as a check on the incoming president: “The extreme circumstances of the Trump presidency-to-be—including a commander in chief who is both ignorant of military and international affairs and prone to impulsiveness—strengthen the case for a Mattis exception.”

The New York Times unreservedly praises Mattis as “An Experienced Choice for the Pentagon,” suggesting that he “could bring a voice of reason to a White House that will be led by a dangerously ignorant president who has so far shown too little interest in opposing views.”

Echoing the Democratic Party and those sections of the military-intelligence apparatus that backed the Clinton campaign, both the Times and the Posthave expressed concerns that the incoming Trump administration will not be aggressive enough against Russia. On November 12, the Times published an editorial warning about “The Danger of Going Soft on Russia,” criticizing Trump for having been “Russia’s defender and the beneficiary of Moscow’s efforts to influence the elections.”

Within these circles, Mattis—who has differed with Trump on Russia—is seen as a counterweight to any tendency of the incoming administration to move away from the anti-Russia policy.

The only real concern expressed by the Times is “whether General Mattis intends to roll back military personnel policy changes adopted during the Obama administration, including opening all combat roles to women, allowing openly gay troops to serve and accommodating transgender troops.” The liberal newspaper-of-record is far more concerned with the gender and sexual identity of American troops than the identity of the people they will tasked with incinerating.

The Times has distinguished itself as the most fervent advocate of US military intervention in the Syrian civil war, supposedly on the grounds that this is necessary to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The “human rights” crusaders are not put off by the nomination of a general who once boasted about how killing Taliban was “fun.”

What is particularly noteworthy is that all three editorials discuss the principle of civilian control of the military, which would be effectively gutted by the appointment of Mattis, and dismiss it.

The Mattis nomination is not an isolated case. Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is Trump’s choice as national security adviser, the top White House position coordinating military and foreign policy. Retired General David Petraeus, former US commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and former CIA director, is a leading contender for secretary of state. Retired General John F. Kelly is under discussion to head the Department of Homeland Security. And Admiral Michael Rogers, the current head of the National Security Agency, is likely to be named Director of National Intelligence, coordinating all 19 components of the vast US intelligence apparatus.

It is thus quite possible that military officers, active or retired, could end up holding every major national security position in the incoming Trump administration. This is not merely a demonstration of the militaristic character of Trump’s perspective. It must be understood, more fundamentally, as a consequence of the long-term militarization of American foreign policy and American society as a whole.

US imperialism has been at war for most of the past 25 years, and continuously since 2001. Barack Obama, when he leaves office next January 20, will be the first president in American history to have been a wartime commander-in-chief for an entire eight years in office. It is not an accident that under such conditions, the military has come to play such a decisive role in national-security policy.

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Nearly 60% of Italian voters rejected Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s attempted constitutional power grab by referendum endorsement.

Following defeat, he announced his resignation on national television, “accept(ing) full responsibility,” adding he’ll officially resign on Monday.

The referendum, supported by Renzi and his Democrat Party, was first introduced in April 2014. It was approved by Italy’s Senate and lower house Chamber of Deputies in October 2015 – followed by subsequent approvals with amendments in January and April 2016.

It called for the popularly elected Senate, comprised of 315 members plus five lifetime ones, to be replaced by a 100-member body – 95 selected from regional councils, five appointed by Italy’s president, currently Sergio Mattarella.

A referendum was held because a constitutionally required two-thirds majority in each house of parliament wasn’t achieved. A majority popular vote was required for it to become law.

Approval would have granted Renzi’s government authoritarian powers, including denying senators the right to replace a sitting prime minister with another leader of their choice.

Much like Brits voting for Brexit, the will of the people may not matter, ruling authorities in Italy and the UK perhaps ignoring it, continuing to govern as they wish.

Brexit’s vote was advisory, not mandatory. Parliament has final say, MPs able to disregard the public will, alone empowered to choose Britain’s path.

Its referendum was held last June. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after its outcome, Theresa May replacing him.

Despite saying “Brexit means Brexit,” she’s done nothing to begin the process for Britain to leave the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, leaving in doubt whether she meant what she said.

Italian referendum results followed by Renzi’s resignation doesn’t automatically mean new elections will be held, likely not. Expect a ruling party loyalist to replace him, general elections for both houses of parliament not scheduled until May 23, 2018.

Business as usual will likely continue for now. It remains to be seen if responsible change follows the next general election whenever it’s held. Given Italy’s modern history, don’t bet on it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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The Remarkable Story of Fidel Castro

December 5th, 2016 by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

When Fidel Castro died on Nov. 25 at the age of 90, we lost one of the most remarkable leaders of the Twentieth Century.

No other head of state has so steadfastly stood up to the United States and survived.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro with his trademark cigar.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro with his trademark cigar.

In 1959, the Cuban Revolution, led by Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, overthrew the ruthless Fulgencio Batista, who had come to power in a coup d’état. Batista’s government had protected the interests of the wealthy landowners. In order to control the populace, Batista had carried out torture and public executions, killing as many as 20,000 people. During his regime, Batista was supported — financially and militarily — by the United States. Indeed, the U.S. Mafia’s gambling, drug and prostitution operations flourished under Batista’s government.

Led by Castro, the new Cuban government expropriated U.S.-owned property, companies and holdings in Cuba. The United States responded with a punishing economic embargo, which later became a blockade. The CIA attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow the revolution in the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

Since 1959, the U.S. government and the expatriated Cuban-Americans who fled Cuba after the revolution have tried mightily to topple the Castro government, without success. Castro survived more than 630 assassination attempts.

Legacy of Fidel Castro

“What’s amazing here is you’ve got a country that’s suffered an illegal economic blockade by the United States for almost half a century and yet it’s been able to give its people the best standard of health care, brilliant education,” Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London, said in 2006. “To do this in the teeth of an almost economic war is a tribute to Fidel Castro.”

Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaking at the Jose Marti Monument in 2003. (Photo credit: Ricardo Stuckert/ABr.)

Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaking at the Jose Marti Monument in 2003. (Photo credit: Ricardo Stuckert/ABr.)

Castro practiced a unique form of internationalism. Nelson Mandela credited Cuba with helping to bring down the system of apartheid in South Africa. Cuba fought with the revolutionaries in Angola. And Cuba regularly sends doctors to other countries and provides foreign nationals with free medical education.

As Nelson Valdes noted in 2013, Castro, together with others, “shaped a foreign policy and national movement around the fundamental concept of national sovereignty, yet devoid of any self-centered nationalism.” He added, “This unique form of national self-determination incorporated other countries on an equal footing. In fact, national sovereignty and solidarity had precedence over ideology.” Thus, Valdes wrote, “Cuba has aided countries, despite the economic and political differences they may have.”

In 1953, in what is considered the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, Castro, his brother Raul and more than 100 other rebels mounted a failed attack against the Batista regime at the Moncada Barracks. Castro was arrested, tried, sentenced to 15 years in prison and released in an amnesty deal two years later.

At his trial, Castro famously said in his defense, “Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me.”

U.S. Inference in Cuba

The U.S. economic embargo was initiated in 1960 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in response to a memorandum written by L.D. Mallory, a senior State Department official. Mallory proposed “a line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government.”

President Dwight Eisenhower

President Dwight Eisenhower

Cuba turned to the U.S.S.R. for assistance, which supported the Cuban Revolution until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1962, in response to the stationing of U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. After a tense standoff, Khrushchev and U.S. President John F. Kennedy negotiated a withdrawal of the missiles from both Cuba and Turkey.

The economic blockade continues to this day. It is an illegal interference in the affairs of the Cuban people, in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Charter of the Organization of American States. Every year for 26 consecutive years, the United Nations General Assembly has called on the United States to lift the blockade, which has cost Cuba in excess of $ 1 trillion.

U.S. meddling in Cuban affairs did not start in 1959. Since 1898, when the United States intervened in Cuba’s war for independence, the U.S. government has tried to dominate Cuba. The United States gained control of Guantanamo Bay in 1903, when Cuba was occupied by the U.S. Army after its intervention in Cuba’s war of independence against Spain.

Cuba was forced to accept the Platt Amendment to its constitution as a prerequisite for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Cuba. That amendment provided the basis for a treaty granting the United States jurisdiction over Guantanamo Bay.

The 1903 agreement gave the United States the right to use Guantanamo Bay “exclusively as coaling or naval stations, and for no other purpose.” A 1934 treaty maintained U.S. control over Guantanamo Bay in perpetuity until the United States abandons it or until both Cuba and the United States agree to modify it. That treaty also limits its uses to “coaling and naval stations.”

None of these treaties or agreements gives the United States the right to use Guantanamo Bay as a prison, or to subject detainees to arbitrary detention or torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, which have been documented at the prison.

Castro, who called the Guantanamo base “a dagger plunged into the heart of Cuban soil,” refused to cash the rent checks the U.S. government sends annually. “An elemental sense of dignity and absolute disagreement with what happens in that portion of our national territory has prevented Cuba from cashing those checks,” he noted. The United States, according to Castro, transformed the Guantanamo base into a “horrible prison, one that bears no difference with the Nazi concentration camps.”

It is no accident that President George W. Bush chose Guantanamo Bay as the site for his illegal prison camp. His administration maintained that Guantanamo Bay is not a U.S. territory, and thus, U.S. courts were not available to the prisoners there. But, as the Supreme Court later affirmed, the United States, not Cuba, exercises exclusive jurisdiction over Guantanamo Bay, so habeas corpus is available to prisoners there.

Amnesty International aptly described the irony: “Given the USA’s criticism of the human rights record of Cuba, it is deeply ironic that it is violating fundamental rights on Cuban soil, and seeking to rely on the fact that it is on Cuban soil to keep the U.S. courts from examining its conduct.”

Since the revolution, anti-Cuba organizations based in Miami have engaged in countless terrorist activities against Cuba and anyone who advocated normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. These terrorist groups have operated with impunity in the United States with the knowledge and support of the FBI and CIA.

For example, Ruben Dario Lopez-Castro, associated with several anti-Castro organizations, and Orlando Bosch, who planted a bomb on a Cubana airliner in 1976, killing all 73 people aboard, “planned to ship weapons into Cuba for an assassination attempt on [Fidel] Castro.”

In the face of this terrorism, the Cuban Five came from Cuba to gather intelligence in Miami in order to prevent future terrorist acts against Cuba. The men peacefully infiltrated criminal exile groups. The Five turned over the results of their investigation to the FBI. But instead of working with Cuba to fight terrorism, the U.S. government arrested and convicted the five men of unfounded charges.

Human Rights in Cuba

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights contain two different sets of human rights, respectively.

Some of the original detainees jailed at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as put on display by the U.S. military.

Some of the original detainees jailed at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as put on display by the U.S. military.

Civil and political rights include the rights to life, free expression, freedom of religion, fair trial, self-determination; and to be free from torture, cruel treatment and arbitrary detention.

Economic, social and cultural rights comprise the rights to education, health care, social security, unemployment insurance, paid maternity leave, equal pay for equal work, reduction of infant mortality; prevention, treatment and control of diseases, as well as the rights to form and join unions and strike.

The U.S. government criticizes civil and political rights in Cuba while disregarding Cubans’ superior access to universal housing, health care, education and its guarantee of paid maternity leave and equal-pay rates.

Unlike in the United States, health care is considered a right in Cuba. Universal health care is free to all. Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors to patients in the world, at 6.7 per 1,000 people. The 2014 infant mortality rate was 4.2 per 1,000 live births — one of the lowest in the world.

Free education is a universal right, up to and including higher education. Cuba spends a larger proportion of its gross domestic product on education than any other country in the world.

Cuban law guarantees the right to voluntarily form and join trade unions. Unions are legally independent and financially autonomous, independent of the Communist Party and the state. Unions have the right to stop work they consider dangerous. They have the right to participate in company management, to receive management information, to office space and materials, and to facility time for representatives. Union agreement is required for layoffs, changes in patterns of working hours and overtime, and for input on the annual safety report.

As of 2018, the date of the next Cuban general election and the date Raul Castro has promised to step down from the presidency, there will be a limit of no more than two five-year terms for all senior elected positions, including the president. Anyone can be nominated to be a candidate. It is not required that one be a member of the Communist Party. No money can be spent promoting candidates and no political parties (including the Communist Party) are permitted to campaign during elections. Military personnel are not on duty at polling stations; school children guard the ballot boxes.

In 2006, the World Wildlife Fund, a leading global environmental organization, determined that Cuba was the only country in the world to have achieved sustainable development.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has committed serious human rights violations on Cuban soil, including torture, cruel treatment and arbitrary detention at Guantanamo. And since 1960, the United States has expressly interfered with Cuba’s economic rights and its right to self-determination through the economic embargo.

Cuba is criticized for its restrictions on freedom of expression. Castro learned from the Guatemalan experience what would happen if he did not keep a tight rein on his revolutionary government. Jacobo Arbenz, a democratically elected president of Guatemala, carried out agrarian land reform, which expropriated uncultivated lands, compensated the owners and redistributed them to the peasantry. This program raised the hackles of the United Fruit Company, which enlisted the U.S. government to overthrow Arbenz. The CIA and the State Department obliged.

Stephen Kinzer wrote in his biography of the Dulles brothers that Guevara “told Castro why [the CIA coup in Guatemala] succeeded. He said Arbenz had foolishly tolerated an open society, which the CIA penetrated and subverted, and also preserved the existing army, which the CIA turned into its instrument. Castro agreed that a revolutionary regime in Cuba must avoid those mistakes. Upon taking power, he cracked down on dissent and purged the army.”

Obama Opens the Door 

In 2006, Castro suffered a serious illness and turned over the reins of power in Cuba to his brother Raul, who became president in 2008.

President Barack Obama talks with Ricardo Zuniga, National Security Council's Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, after the President delivered a statement on Cuba, in the Oval Office, Dec. 17, 2014. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice watches from the doorway. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks with Ricardo Zuniga, National Security Council’s Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, after the President delivered a statement on Cuba, in the Oval Office, Dec. 17, 2014. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice watches from the doorway. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On March 21, 2016, President Obama and Raul Castro held a joint press conference at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana. Obama notably declared, “Perhaps most importantly, I affirmed that Cuba’s destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation. Cuba is sovereign and, rightly, has great pride. And the future of Cuba will be decided by Cubans, not by anybody else.” Unlike all prior U.S. presidents, Obama understands the significance of treating Cuba with respect.

This is a lesson Donald Trump will hopefully learn. The President-elect has sent mixed signals about whether he will continue Obama’s steps toward normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The businessman in him will be receptive to investment, and, indeed, hotel building, in Cuba.

But, pandering to Cuban-Americans in Florida during the election, Trump talked tough against Cuba’s government. “Many of our leaders seem to view Florida’s Cuban conservatives, including the assassins and terrorists among them, as People Who Vote,” Alice Walker wrote in The Sweet Abyss.

On the Cuban side, Raul Castro has made it clear that normalization cannot occur until the blockade is lifted and the United States returns Guantanamo to Cuba. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Harvard lecturer Jonathan Hansen wrote, “It is past time to return this imperialist enclave to Cuba,” adding, “It has served to remind the world of America’s long history of interventionist militarism.”

Normalization of relations will not happen overnight, Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban Five, told me when I visited Cuba last year. “We have to remember that relations between the countries have never been normal.” Antonio Guerrero, another member of the Five, added that normalization will require “the dismantling of the whole system of aggression against Cuba, especially the blockade.”

Castro survived 90 years. And Castro’s revolution survives, notwithstanding 57 years of aggression and assassination attempts by the United States.

“Fidel Castro was an authoritarian. He ruled with an iron fist. There was repression and is repression in Cuba. In Fidel’s kind of argument, he did it in the name of a different kind of democracy, a different kind of freedom — the freedom from illness, the freedom from racism, the freedom from social inequality,” Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project, told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! “And Cuba has a lot of very positives that all the other countries that we don’t talk about don’t have. There isn’t gang violence in Cuba. People aren’t being slaughtered around the streets by guns every day. They defeated the Zika virus right away. There is universal health care and universal education.”

In a 1998 NBC interview with Maria Shriver, Castro wryly noted, “For a small country such as Cuba to have such a gigantic country as the United States live so obsessed with this island, it is an honor for us.”

History has absolved, and promises to continue to absolve, “El Comandante” Fidel Castro.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” Visit her website and follow her at Twitter @marjoriecohn.

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By an overwhelming 375-34 vote, the US House of Representatives last Friday passed a $619 billion Pentagon budget that ensures the growth of war and militarism under an incoming Trump administration, while also barring the shutdown of the American prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Early this week, the Senate is expected to easily pass the measure, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was hammered out in weeks of talks between House and Senate negotiators. The White House has given no indication that President Barack Obama intends to veto the measure, a veto that given the outsized margin of Friday’s vote would be easily overridden.

Only 30 Democrats opposed the spending measure, as opposed to 145 supporting it, providing overwhelming bipartisan support for maintaining Washington’s infamous and illegal detention facility at Guantanamo.

On his first day in office in 2009, Obama announced an executive order promising that within one year he would close down the prison camp, a symbol of US torture and lawless aggression all over the world. This will be the seventh Pentagon budget in a row that he has signed precluding such a shutdown. The first such restrictions were imposed by a Democratic-controlled Congress, and Obama has obeyed them ever since.

Now he will hand the prison camp over to Donald Trump, who has openly advocated torture and who, during the presidential campaign, vowed to keep the facility open and “load it up with some bad dudes.” Also during the campaign, Trump told the Miami Herald that he would support sending US citizens to Guantanamo to be tried by military commissions.

The real total spent by the US government on its gigantic military apparatus, including military atomic energy expenditures, veterans’ benefits and other costs, is at least $905 billion, more than 21 percent of the total federal budget.

The legislation passed Friday reversed plans by the Obama administration to slightly pare troop strength, instead barring the Army from falling below 476,000 active-duty soldiers, adding 1,000 and retaining another 15,000 previously slated to be cut. It also adds 8,000 soldiers to the Army National Guard and 4,000 to the Army Reserve, as well as 3,000 Marines and 4,000 Airmen.

In a now routine maneuver, the Congressional leadership evaded spending caps imposed in a 2011 budget-cutting measure known as the sequester by shifting increased appropriations into an overseas contingency operations (OCO) slush fund of $59.5 billion, ostensibly “emergency” funding used to pay for the never-ending US wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

In a cynical twist, $3.2 billion appropriated to pay for pay raises and beefed up troop strength was slotted into the OCO funding in a transparent attempt to portray any objection to the budget-busting measure as a failure to “support our troops.”

Spending on the procurement as well as research and development of weapons systems in the 2017 budget is set at $184.4 billion.

Among the areas where the 2017 budget expands spending significantly is on the development of the US military’s nuclear war fighting capabilities. This includes an accelerated program for new Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. While funding for this weapons system was pegged at $0.4 billion in 2016, it will now be ramped up to $1.0 billion by fiscal year 2020 and $1.6 billion by 2021.

Similar increased spending is slated for the development of new long-range nuclear bombers to be built by Northrop Grumman, which is to rise to $3 billion annually by 2020.

Also funded at slightly over the amount requested by the Obama administration are new Ohio Replacement Program (ORP) ballistic missile submarines. While funding for 2017 was set at $1.9 billion, the cost of each of these new nuclear weapons systems is expected to approach $5 billion.

The Republican leadership in the House indicated that it had not been able to increase funding for other weapons systems above levels set by the Obama administration, but anticipates that a new Trump administration will quickly introduce supplementary legislation to further expand the US war machine.

House Armed Services chairman Representative Mac Thornberry has called on Trump to send the Republican-controlled Congress a supplemental defense spending request for fiscal 2017 during his first 100 days in office to pay for additional warplanes, ships and other weaponry that had been originally funded in a House version of the Pentagon bill, but were dropped from the final version negotiated with the Senate because of spending caps.

“I would follow Teddy Roosevelt,” Thornberry told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank last week. “Speak softly and carry a big stick. We need to make our stick bigger.”

The House vote on the Pentagon budget came just one day after the US Senate voted unanimously to extend for another 10 years the Iran Sanctions Act, which authorizes the president to impose a blockade on Iran’s energy, banking and defense sectors. The White House indicated that Obama will sign the measure into law.

The passage of the legislation provoked heated protests from the Iranian government, which called it a blatant violation of the agreement reached last year between Tehran, the US and five other major powers. Under the terms of that agreement, Iran accepted the curtailment of its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the US and other countries.

“If this law is implemented it will be a blatant violation of the Iran deal and it will lead to our resolute answer,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the Iranian parliament on Sunday.

Among the strongest proponents of the legislation was Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who made clear that the threat of sanctions was directed not at any nuclear threat from Iran, but rather at the obstacle the country has posed to US hegemony in the Middle East. “Since the nuclear agreement came into force, Iran has continued its efforts to destabilize the region,” he said.

The vote, with the unanimous support of the Democrats, places a weapon in the hands of the incoming Trump administration. The Republican president-elect repeatedly expressed his desire to abrogate the nuclear pact with Iran and has surrounded himself with right-wing militarists who are advocates of a confrontation with Tehran.

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Chosen Leaders, Proven Failures and Political Debacles

December 5th, 2016 by Prof. James Petras

With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies.  Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices.

A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process.  These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power.  With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites.  We will conclude by posing an alternative to the ‘propaganda of choice’, which has so far resulted in broken pre-election promises and political debacles.

Language and Pseudo-Concepts:  Subterfuges for Manipulated Choices

The usual suspects in the business of mass-manipulation describe their political leaders in the same folksy or pseudo-serious terms that they attribute to themselves:  Experts/ intuitive improvisers/ trial and error ‘muddlers’.  The ‘experts’ often mean wrong-headed policymakers and advisers whose decisions usually reflect the demands of their current paymasters.  Their stated or unstated assumptions are rarely questioned and almost never placed in the context of the contemporary power structures.  The experts determine the future trajectory for their political choices.  In this way, the views expressed by ‘experts’ are primarily ideological and not some disembodied scholarly entity floating in an indeterminate space and time.

Pundits often promote ‘experience’ in describing the ‘experienced’ leader, adviser or cabinet member. They denigrate the opposition candidate adversary as ‘lacking experience’.  The obvious questions to this platitude should be: ‘What kind of experience?  What were the political results of this experience?  Who did this experience serve?

We know that Secretaries of Defense William Gates and Donald Rumsfeld and their leading assistants, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were appointed to their high positions and praised for their ‘experience’.   This ‘experience’ drove the country into repeated disastrous military engagements, political debacles and unending wars.  It would be better to reject officials who are highly ‘experienced’ in creating disasters and appoint those officials experienced in conciliation and reconciliation.  Unfortunately the ‘experts’ never discuss these matters in any historical context.

Many political choices are adorned with ‘titles’, such as ‘successful entrepreneur’ and/or ‘prize winning journalist’.  This ignores the fact that those ‘bestowing titles’ come from a narrow band of inbred organizations with financial, military or ideological interests looking for near-future rewards from their now titled, prize winning political choice.

Highly certified candidates, we are told, are those eminently qualified to lead, whether they are university academics with prestigious degrees, or doctors, lawyers, or investors who work for leading groups.  The most highly vetted officials coming from Harvard University have implemented economic policies leading to the worst crises in the shortest time in world history.

Lawrence Summers, PhD and Harvard University President-turned Treasury Secretary participated in the pillage of Russia in the 1990’s and then brought his talent for sowing international chaos home by joining Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.   These two ‘experts’ promoted enormous financial swindles, which led to the worst economic crash in the US in seven decades.

Money laundering by the big banks flourished under Princeton Summa Cum Laude and US Treasury ‘Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence’, Stuart Levey.   Levey concentrated on implementing brutal economic sanctions against Iran shutting US businesses out of multi-billion-dollar oil deals with Tehran, promoting a huge annual $4 billion-dollar giveaway to Israel and a granting a uniquely privileged trade status for the Jewish state – which cost the US taxpayers additional billions.

Receiving ‘prestigious awards’ does not predict a successful policymaker in contemporary US politics.   The underlyingideological commitments and political allegiances determine the appointment of these ‘prize-winning’ leaders.  From an objective perspective, any obscure college economics graduate, eager to increase high tech US exports and sign profitable trade agreements with Iran, would have been far more successful political choice as Secretary of Treasury.

Frequently ‘identity’ colors the choice of appointees, especially favoring an ‘oppressed’ minority, even if their field of competence and their political allegiances run counter to the real interests and political needs of the vast majority of American citizens.  Some ‘ethnic’ groups wear their identity on their shirt sleeves as a point of entry into lucrative or influential appointments: “Hello, I’m a Jewish graduate of Yale Law school, which makes me the best choice for an appointment to the Supreme Court … where there are already three Jews out of the ten Justices… and only an anti-Semite would consider a fourth to be an ‘over-representation’ of our tiny national minority…whereas the total absence of any WASPs (white Anglo-Protestants) on ‘The Court’ only confirms their historical degeneracy…”  Who could object to that?

‘Identity’ appointees are not reluctant to employ scare tactics, including citing old historical grievances and claiming special suffering unique to their heritage, to justify their appointment to privileged, lucrative positions.  Their identity also seems to insulate them from any fall-out from their policy catastrophes such as disastrous wars and economic crises, as well as providing impunity for their personal involvement in financial mega-swindles.

Race and claims of victimization often serves as a justification for being a political ‘chosen one’.  We are told repeatedly that some appointee, even with a tangential link to skin color, must have suffered past indignities and is therefore uniquely qualified to represent the aspirations of an entire group, promising to eliminate all inequality, right injustices and promote peace and prosperity.  Racial identity never prevented three of the worst Caribbean tyrants from robbing and torturing their people: The two Haitian dictators, ‘Papa Doc’ and ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier murdered tens of thousands Haitians, especially among mixed race educated elites.  Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had to slaughter hundreds of Afro-Caribbean sugar workers in Santiago de Cuba before he could enter the exclusive ‘whites only’ Havana Golf and Country Club.

In the United States, it was a ‘man of color’, General Colin Powell, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, who bombed and invaded black African Somalia and implemented the policy of invading and destroying Iraq and Afghanistan.  The carefully groomed ‘First Black President-To-Be’ Barack Obama, was the protégé of a Chicago-based millionaire lobby led by the fanatical ‘Israel-First’ mob, to bring ‘identity’ to its highest level.  This charade culminated in the ‘First Black President’ and promoter of seven devastating wars against the poorest people of the world receiving the Nobel Peace Prize from the hands of the King of Sweden and a committee composed of mostly white Swedish Christians.  Such is the power of identity.  It was of little comfort to the hundreds of thousands of Libyans and South Sahara Africans murdered, pillaged, raped and forced to flee in rotting boats to Europe, that the NATO bombs destroying their country had been sent by the ‘Historic Black US President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner’.  When the wounded captive President Libya Gadhafi, the greatest proponent of Pan-African integration, was brutalized and slaughtered, was he aware that his tormentors were armed and supported by ‘America’s First Black President’?  A video of Gadhafi’s gruesome end became a source of gleeful entertainment for the ‘Feminist’ US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who would go on to cite her ‘victory’ over the Libyan President in her bid to become ‘The First Female President of the US”.

The question is not about one’s race or identity, but whose interests are served by the Afro-American leader in question.   US President Barack Obama served Wall Street and the Pentagon, whereas Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had a long and arduous history of leading peoples’ movements.  MLK joined the striking Afro-American garbage workers in Memphis and the autoworkers in Detroit.  Malcolm X organized and spoke for the Harlem community – while inspiring millions.

Gender labels covered the fact that a politically chosen woman ruled on behalf of  a family-led tyranny, as in the case of Indira Gandhi in India. The financial lords of the City of London financiers, and the mining and factory bosses in Great Britain chose the very female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who launched multiple wars abroad and smashed trade unions at home.  Madame Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who promoted seven wars resulting in the deaths, injuries, displacement and rape of 5 million African and Middle Eastern women and destruction of their families, had the unconditional support of the top 20 Wall Street banks when she ran to become the ‘First Woman President of the United States’.

In other words, political appointments chosen for their ‘gender identity’ bring no special qualities or experience that would recommend them as progressive.  When political and business elites choose a female for a high political office, they do so because it serves their interests to put a progressive political gloss on their reactionary policies.  The ‘gender emphasis’ is most effective on liberals and the advocates of ‘identity over class politics’.  In reality it is a vacuous symbol rather than real power and highlights elite upward mobility.

Often media moguls, publicists and corporate leaders laud the ‘social background’ of a candidate.  They use such criteria to groom and coopt upwardly mobile workers, trade union officials and community militants.  ‘Chosen leaders’ from minority or oppressed backgrounds are put in charge of discipline, work-place speed-ups and lay-offs.  They sometimes adopt ‘workers’ language, splicing rough anti-establishment curses with their abuses as they fire workers and cut wages.  One’s past social background is a far less useful criterion than current social commitments.  As Karl Marx long ago noted, the ruling class is not a closed caste: It is always open to co-opting bright and influential new members among upwardly mobile labor leaders and activists.

Labor leaders receive ‘special favors’, including invitations to political inaugurations and corporate meetings with all the travel and luxury accommodations paid.  Elites frequently transform past militant leaders into corporate policemen, ready to identify, exclude and expel any genuine emerging local and shop floor militants.  Public and private labor relations experts frequently describe a labor militant’s ascent to the elite as an ‘up by his own bootstraps operation’ – putting a virtuous gloss on the ‘self-made worker’ ready to serve the interests of the corporate elite!  The primary feature that characterizes these ‘boot-strappers’ is how their sense of ‘solidarity’ turns upward and forward toward the bosses, and not backward and downward toward the working masses, as they transform into ‘boot-lickers’.

Many examples of these ‘upward and forward’-looking political choices are found among entertainment celebrities, sports heroes, media figures and pop musicians.  Rap singers become ghetto millionaires.  And ‘working-class hero’ rock musicians, the well-wrinkled as well as the young, charge hundreds of dollars a seat for their rasping and grasping performances while refusing to play on behalf of striking workers…

The popular music, promoted by the elite, contain country and working class lyrics, sung with phony regional twangs to entertain mass audiences even as the successful performers flaunt their Presidential awards, luxury mansions and limos. The political and corporate elite frequently choose phony working class or ethnic identity celebrities to endorse their products, as the gullible public is encouraged to purchase useless commodities, electronic gadgets and gimmicks, and to support reactionary politicians and politics.  There are a few celebrities who protest or maintain real mass solidarity but they are blacklisted, ostracized or past their peak earning power.  Most celebrities prefer to shake their backsides, mouth raunchy language, snort or smoke dope and slum a bit with their bodyguards, but the political elite have chosen them to distract and depoliticize the young and discontented.  They are paid well for their services.

Conclusion

The concepts, symbols and signs of the ruling class determine who will be the political ‘choices’ for leaders and officials.  Political elites co-opt upwardly mobile ‘identities’, among minorities and workers, carefully assessing which of their qualities will contribute to the desired elite outcomes. This is how working class and community-based electorates are seduced into voting against their real class, national, community, gender and racial economic interests.

Renegades, demagogues, soothsayers and other charlatans of many races, ethnicities, genders and proclivities run for office and win on that basis.

The elite pay a relatively small fee for procuring the services of prestigious, certified, titled and diversified candidates to elect or appoint as leaders.

Elite power only partially depends on the mass media, money and power.  It also needs the services of the concept and language masters, identity promoters and propagandists of the embellished deed.

Stripping away the phony veneer of the ‘chosen’ politicians requires a forceful critique of the signs and symbols that cloak the real identity of the makers and breakers of these leaders.  And it requires that they be exposed for their proven failures and disasters, especially their role in leading America into an unending series of political, military and economic debacles.

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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The UN mission in Iraq, UNAMI, will stop publicizing military casualty figures after the Joint Operations Command of the Iraqi military complained the UN’s figures for November were “much exaggerated.”

“UNAMI acknowledges that the military figures were largely unverified,” reads a statement published by the UN’s Iraqi mission on Saturday.

On Thursday, UNAMI reported that 1,959 Iraqi Security Forces, including army, police, and Peshmerga, had been killed in the month of November.

In their statement on Saturday, UNAMI admitted that obtaining accurate figures was difficult given the active conflict and few reliable sources. They noted that their requests for numbers from official government sources had gone unanswered.

“As such the Mission shall discontinue the publication of military casualty figures unless a sound methodology of verification can be found to better substantiate the figures being reported,” UNAMI stated.

Earlier on Saturday morning, the War Media Cell of the Joint Operations Command had published a statement saying the UN’s information was inaccurate. They added that such a false report “comes in the favor of Daesh [ISIS] who is working on exaggerations intended to influence the course of Ninawa operations.”

On Thursday, the Kurdistan Regional Government released figures of the number of Peshmerga killed in the two and a half years of war against ISIS. From mid-2014 through to November 21, 2016, they stated, 1,604 Peshmerga have been killed, 9,461 have been wounded, and 62 are missing.

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When Truth-Telling Becomes Russian Propaganda

December 4th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Fake news is a US government, mainstream media specialty – proliferating managed news misinformation agitprop, truth-telling suppressed on issues mattering most.

Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Deception, popular fiction and Big Lies launch them. Intense Russia bashing risks world peace, stability and security.

Washington’s imperial war machine is humanity’s greatest threat. Is Trump up to taming it? Will he try once in office?

Or were his campaign pledges just bluster? World peace and stability depends on which way he goes – along with whether he’ll defend waning freedoms or eliminate ones left, making America more of a police state than already.

previous article discussed House passage of the draconian US Intelligence Authorization Act, calling it a huge leap backwards, Senate passage and Obama signing it into law virtually certain.

It aims to counter nonexistent “measures by Russia to exert covert influence, including exposing falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.”

It calls truth-telling by writers like myself and many others “fake news.” It threatens speech, independent media (especially online) and academic freedoms – the hallmark of a fascist dictatorship, wanting information and views contrary to official ones suppressed.

Does supporting Russia’s good faith efforts to resolve conflicts in Syria and Ukraine equitably make me a Kremlin agent or propagandist? Does praising Putin for wanting peace, not war, multi-world polarity, and mutual cooperation among all nations?

Does opposing Washington’s imperial war machine mean I’m unpatriotic? Does patriotism require supporting lawless government policies?

Does opposing might makes right make me an enemy of the state? Does wanting real democracy, not America’s fantasy version? Does believing in the inviolability of international and constitutional law principles?

Does wanting peace and security, imperial wars ended? Does believing in equity and justice for everyone, not just America’s privileged few?

Am I and many others like me endangered if we pursue truth-telling? In 1893, Finley Peter Dunne (1867 – 1936) said “(t)he job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

He said it before the electronic media age, including the Internet, letting activist writers express views freely.

Will the US Intelligence Authorization Act change things? Are First Amendment rights threatened with annulment?

Will fascist tyranny replace remaining freedoms? Will truth-telling be criminalized?

Are my days able to write and speak freely numbered – despite committing no wrongdoing now or earlier? Just truth-telling on vital domestic and geopolitical issues, what journalism is supposed to be all about.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

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

 

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Trump’s first day at the Oval Office after being elected President.

First briefing to the President by CIA, Pentagon, FBI:

Trump: We must destroy ISIS immediately. No delays.

CIA: We cannot do that, sir. We created them along with Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and others.

Trump: The Democrats created them.

CIA: We created ISIS, sir. You need them or else you would lose funding from the natural gas lobby.

Trump: Stop funding Pakistan. Let India deal with them.

CIA: We can’t do that.

Trump: Why is that?

CIA: India will cut Balochistan out of Pak.

Trump: I don’t care.

CIA: India will have peace in Kashmir. They will stop buying our weapons. They will become a superpower. We have to fund Pakistan to keep India busy in Kashmir.

Trump: But you have to destroy the Taliban.

CIA: Sir, we can’t do that. We created the Taliban to keep Russia in check during the 80s. Now they are keeping Pakistan busy and away from their nukes.

Trump: We have to destroy terror sponsoring regimes in the Middle East. Let us start with the Saudis.

Pentagon: Sir, we can’t do that. We created those regimes because we wanted their oil. We can’t have democracy there, otherwise their people will get that oil – and we cannot let their people own it.

Trump: Then, let us invade Iran.

Pentagon: We cannot do that either, sir.

Trump: Why not?

CIA: We are talking to them, sir.

Trump: What? Why?

CIA: We want our stealth drone back. If we attack them, Russia will obliterate us as they did to our
buddy ISIS in Syria. Besides we need Iran to keep Israel in check.

Trump: Then let us invade Iraq again.

CIA: Sir, our friends (ISIS) are already occupying 1/3rd of Iraq.

Trump: Why not the whole of Iraq?

CIA: We need the Shi’ite gov’t of Iraq to keep ISIS in check.

Trump: I am banning Muslims from entering US.

FBI: We can’t do that.

Trump: Why not?

FBI: Then our own population will become fearless.

Trump: I am deporting all illegal immigrants to south of the border.

Border patrol: You can’t do that, sir.

Trump: Why not?

Border patrol: If they’re gone, who will build the wall?

Trump: I am banning H1B visas.

USCIS: You cannot do that.

Trump: Why?

Chief of staff: If you do so we’ll have to outsource White House operations to Bangalore. Which is in India.

Trump (sweating profusely by now): What the hell should I do as President???

CIA: Enjoy the White House, sir! We will take care of the rest!!

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Fake News in Overdrive: President Assad “Created ISIS”

December 4th, 2016 by Moon of Alabama

The so called “journalist” Roy Gutman is marketing an old fairy tale in three acts. It was the Syrian President Assad who created ISIS. Assad also faked the Al-Qaeda bombings in Syria to get sympathy in the “west”. The Daily Beast even paid Gutman to publish this nonsense:

This series charts Assad’s major role in the rise of Islamic extremism from the inside.

the regime likely staged bombings of its own security facilities in 2011 and 2012 to foster the impression that al Qaeda had an armed presence in Syria long before it did.

Syrian intelligence received orders to stand by when al Qaeda fighters crossed from Iraq into Syria in 2012.

But where did Gutman get such extraordinary information? On would think that some very credible witnesses were needed and on-the-ground research would be necessary to verify these claims. But as he himself writes:

Raed Ilawy, an Islamist recruit from Hama, was among the Syrians who traveled to the mosque. Some of the trainers, he recalled in an interview at an Istanbul café, …

and

Dendal was introduced to this reporter by a former regime judge from Aleppo who deserted to the opposition. Interviewed in a café in Istanbul’s popular Fatih district, …

Deserters and Islamist activists telling stories which blame their declared enemies – excellent witnesses. Those stories then must be true. Right? Gutman himself writes that the CIA does not believe the fairy tales he was told over coffee in Istanbul, nor does anyone else who is knowledgeable about the issue. Gutman is unable to get any official confirmation for his claims. Indeed the DNI refutes his tales:

The CIA declined to comment but did not dispute the validity of the question. “I looked into this, and there is nothing we can add,” a spokeswoman said.

The CIA declined to comment.

After bombings in Damascus Jan. 6 and Aleppo Feb. 10, 2012, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, told Congress in mid-February that the explosions “had all the earmarks of an al Qaeda-like attack.” He added: “And so we believe al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.

In 2012 Rania Abouzeid interviewed Jabhat al Nusra (al-Qaeda) fighters in Raqqa and wrote about it for Time. They confirm that many came from Iraq and were silently in Syria even before the “revolution”.

But whatever – activists say the Syrian government did it … – is all the validity Gutman needs.

In the second act of the farce Gutman meets another witness:

the actual numbers were smaller, according to Abdullah Hakawati, an activist who helped organize anti-government protests in Aleppo … Hakawati provided the name of the officer, but he could not be reached to verify the account.

Elijah Magnier urged Gutman (who does not speak Arabic) to find out what that activist’salleged surname means.

From the description of a book titled The Hakawati we learn:

As the family gathers, stories begin to unfold: Osama’s grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East.

So this was one of Gutman’s witnesses?


Pic: Syria: ‘al-Hakawati’ – the Storytelling Tour in Sweden 2015

Ha! Some Syrian activist made a joke over duping a gullible journalist over coffee in Istanbul by giving his name as Mr. Storyteller! Dumb as bricks the journalist and his editors at the Daily Beast fall for it.

Gutman stenographed a great fairy tale just as the various hakawatis in Istanbul’s cafes tell it. With that he vividly demonstrated how “fake news” are created. I doubt though that this was his intention.

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There is no greater single human rights dilemma facing the Australian parliament at the moment: refugees, declining, mouldering, decaying in detention centres in carceral conditions, being shifted, carted, moved from one base to another, from one nation state to another.  Camps funded with Australian tax payer dollars.  Camps run by privatised security firms and brutal local police forces.

The message from protesters of the Whistleblowers Activists and Citizens Alliance to Parliament was unvarnished in its simplicity: “We are here today because we have become world leaders in cruelty.” There were also chants of “close the camps” and “bring them here.”

Members of the WACA also managed to superglue themselves to the railings in Parliament’s public gallery, while two protesters on Thursday managed to abseil down Parliament House with a banner sporting the message of “Close the Bloody Camps Now”.

Appointed doyens of propriety were out there to hector and question the wisdom of these actions.  Government senator James McGrath thought the protesters “absolute grubs” and “Kmart Castros”.[1]  The speaker of the House, Tony Smith, adjourned the proceedings as members of the Australian Federal Police and security forces mopped up the irate protesters.

Our purpose here is to conduct the business of the House and in the period of time we have been suspended it is very clear we are unable to do that and the dignity of the House would have been severely compromised.

Such words: dignity, business, the integrity of the House, like an unsoiled Church of sombre ritual. Generally, the Australian parliament has been a financially minded, dull entity indifferent to the finer points of rights and liberties.  Common law and parliamentary wisdoms have tended to make that consideration less important.  Taxing backpackers and balancing the budget is of greater interest than abiding by the provisions of the UN Refugee Convention.

Nor does Australia have a clearly enshrined right to protest, despite the High Court’s inventiveness to identify a hidden implied right to express opinions on the subject of political communication.  Such rights are considered generally cosmetic apparel for the body polity, observed as much in the breach as anything else.

The Australian variant of democracy has tended to be a Westminster hybrid, wedded to the Senate principle of state representation.  When confronted about what was meant by democracy in the house, Peter Lalor of the Legislative Council, in a letter the Ballarat Star (Jan 1, 1857) though it merely “opposition to a tyrannical press, a tyrannical people, or a tyrannical government”. He accepted that he was hardly democratic in any Republican, Chartist or communist sense.

The content of how democracy is practiced remains something distinctly linked to politician over citizenry, with the latter’s voices mysteriously exercised through the representative body of parliament after each election.  At best, it is a rude compact enshrouded by the pretence of democratic practice.

Deferral to a wise, paternalistic Parliament has tended to be the norm.  The result is an unsophisticated form of political engagement, with elected representatives suspicious of protesters as errant children indifferent to the broader interests of Australians.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was one of the first to take that line.  The assumption there was very much in the representative and administrative mould: the voter’s voice is only relevant to the point of casting the ballot for the representative.  “We are representatives and our forebears, over centuries, fought and died to preserve our democratic freedoms that are practiced in this Parliament.”

From thereon, the wisdom of Parliament is total, and all other voices are mere noises of unwise interruption, and even disruption.  In Turnbull’s words uttered on Adelaide’s 5AA Radio, “What those demonstrators did in the House of Representatives’ gallery, let alone the following day when they actually defaced the Parliament, was not democratic.”[2]

The crude, ruffled response to the protests made clear how quickly the debate became a security one.  Forget speaking about the refugees condemned to administrative limbo; Australian Parliamentarians had more serious things to worry about, such as the prospect of a 2.6 metre-high-fence to be erected along the sloping grass lawns, with similar structures to be placed outside entrances to the ministries and the Senate. Then there was the looming Christmas recess.

For all that, Turnbull could still claim that politicians had to “make sure the people’s house… is as open and accessible as it can be and we try to get the right balance there.”  The Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale expressed some concern that the new security measures would reverse the symbolic significance of Australia’s elected representatives relative to the voter. “The building was designed so that people were able to stand above their politicians.  It was designed so that politicians served at the feet of the people.”

Not all of the protests that took place over Wednesdayand Thursday can be put down to the insensible nature of youthful anger, the response of middle class scorn. The points were made clearly, the message with merit. The Pacific offshore system of de facto prison camps, appalling resettlement options that deprive the country of enterprising refugees, and an entire world of euphemisms spiced with the cologne of administration, has done Australia no favours.

The country’s officials may well lead in the field of cruelty, as the protesters claim, but when it comes to a vibrant culture of democratic protest, those same officials show scant regard for the limits in placing one’s total trust in political representatives.

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

Notes

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-01/parliament-house-protesters-return-for-second-day/8082162

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-02/turnbull-condemns-refugee-protests-at-parliament/8087354

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Next month, Donald J. Trump, with hand on Bible, will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Or will he? The recent talk about recounting votes and ‘faithless electors’ suggests this highly contentious power struggle is far from over.

In fact, it may be just beginning.

Anybody who believes Hillary Rodham Clinton has been sent to the political graveyard by a Manhattan real estate developer has forgotten the cruel surprises of recent history (Remember the Greek referendum? Brexit anyone?). Democratic due process has devolved into something like ‘The Hunger Games’ for the rich – a sensational televised spectacle to entertain the elite every four years, while keeping the people believing they can effect real change.

Although it may seem implausible to some, Donald J. Trump may be denied the presidency due to a democratic system that has been corrupted to the bone by excessive wealth, power and collusion at the highest levels.

Countdown to disaster?

As the world media continues to eulogize Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the neocon-liberal establishment is quietly positioning their chess pieces for a power grab of epic proportions. As far as I can tell, there are three stages of this silent coup presently being carried out on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

The first step in the process was to perpetuate the news that although Donald Trump won the Electoral College (306-232), he failed to win the popular vote – reportedly by 2.5 million votes, at last count.

Clinton’s alleged victory in the popular vote count, which continued for three weeks after Nov. 9 (keep in mind that most of the vote monitors had already gone home as these votes were being quietly tallied), could present serious complications for Trump and his chances of entering the White House, as will become clear a bit later.

Meanwhile, the blatantly anti-Trump media is conducting “thought experiments” to show how Clinton would have, could have, should have won the Electoral College if only the Electoral map had been spliced and diced here and there across the nation. The implicit media message behind all of this tomfoolery, of course, is that Wall Street-approved Clinton deserves her coronation, because, well, that is what the elite want, democratic procedure be damned.

This ongoing campaign on behalf of Clinton is much more than just sour grapes; in fact, it is a war of attrition designed to exert undue pressure on the Electoral College, the rickety institution that got Trump elected in the first place. And although it has never robbed an election from a candidate who has gained the majority of Electoral College votes, there is a possibility – and a very high one in this particular battle – of so-called “faithless electors”tipping this contest in Clinton’s favor.

This represents the second stage of Clinton’s attempt at reversing the results of the presidential election in her favor.

Will the Electoral College go rogue?

The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on December 19 to perform what, under normal circumstances, would be a mere formality of voting for either Clinton or Trump, according to the will of their constituents.

Needless to say, however, we are not dealing with “normal circumstances.” This is a battle the Democrats have no intention of losing, no matter what the Electoral College results tell us.

The 2016 presidential campaign represents an epic power struggle that will determine the trajectory of US domestic and foreign policy like no other contest in recent history. No surprise, then, that neo-liberal lobbying groups have been exerting immense pressure on these electors to ignore the will of the people and “vote their conscience.”

You’d be very wrong to think this couldn’t work. If 37 Republican electors essentially break the law and vote against Trump, it will block him from winning the presidency. The Democrat’s team of lawyers and political consultants are now working around the clock to make this happen.

Micheal Baca, a Denver Democrat and a member of the state’s Electoral College delegation, is one of the individuals attempting to persuade Republican electors to discard the will of the people and vote for anybody but Trump.

Baca makes no secret about his intentions to override the Constitution and go rogue.

“This is not about Hillary,” he said. “This is about trying to stop Donald Trump.”

The Democrat full-court press is getting results. Art Sisneros, a Texas Republican elector, confirmed this week that he would resign his position rather than perform his Constitutionally mandated task.

Before continuing, let’s take a moment and perform our own “thought experiment” and consider would would happen if Hillary Clinton somehow gets the nod for the presidency instead of Trump. If the country is not completely overwhelmed by coast-to-coast riots and protests, and there is somehow a peaceful transition of power, then Clinton can expect to face four years of the most hostile, uncooperative (Republican) Congress in American history. Although given the number of neocons who openly support Clinton and her hawkish tendencies, there could be points of agreement.

In a best-case scenario, there would be – aside from carrying out the necessary task of maintaining ‘law and order’ at home, while continuing on a war footing abroad – a four-year-long government shutdown. America would get its first real taste of what martial law feels like.

The American Conservative painted the following picture as to what would happen if Trump’s Electoral College victory were rescinded: “Constitutional government would have broken down, and we would be facing something like a Latin American presidential dictatorship. For several years, Washington’s political debate would be reduced to something like a Hobbesian war of all against all.”

Is that something we really need? Apparently it is for some folks, and not least of all Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein.

And this brings us to the final stage of a possible Clinton coup.

Civil War, anyone?

It is generally assumed that it was Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate who masterminded the call for a recount of votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. That’s not quite right.

New York magazine reported that on November 17 Hillary Clinton was “urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump… The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.”

Just one day after the above article appeared (Nov. 22), Jill Stein, who came in dead last with about 3 million votes less than Gary ‘What is Aleppo?’ Johnson, announced she would be collecting money to recount votes in the swing states. One of the interesting things about Stein’s choice of swing states to hold recounts is that these are the very same places where Trump emerged victorious. Coincidence or not, that alone should have set off some alarms.

In any case, the reason Jill Stein and not Hillary Clinton is calling for the recount is evident: Throughout the campaign, the media hounded Trump with a single annoying question never asked of the future loser: Would he accept the results of the election in the event he lost? When Trump said he would take a “wait and see” approach, Clinton assumed a holier than thou position.

“Now make no mistake,” Clinton solemnly told supporters, “by doing that, he is threatening our democracy. The peaceful transition of power is one of the things that sets us apart. It’s how we hold our country together no matter who’s in charge.”

So now that the tables are turned, Stein is in the kitchen doing the dirty work. And the media suddenly can’t get enough of this woman who haunted the 2016 election campaign like a rare phantom sighting.

Here’s how News Busters tallied her sudden stardom: “When Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for US president, the networks only gave her 36 seconds of coverage. However, as soon as she launched a campaign to contest the presidential election and demand a recount of ballots in several key states, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC managed to find 7 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage for her in just four days. That’s more than 12 times as much coverage as in the entire campaign.”

But it gets better. Stein has managed to accumulate a massive war chest to carry out the recount – $7 million at last count (or about seven times what she received during her entire presidential campaign). At one point, her recount drive was pulling in almost $5,000 every minute. Somehow that doesn’t sound like Joe Voter digging deep in his Levi’s; that sounds more like big league spenders stepping up to the plate. Incidentally, when Stein first started passing the hat around, she said $2.5 million would be plenty, thank you very much. Yet every time she hit the target, a higher threshold was introduced.

Is Stein’s recount campaign really about collecting some easy money while giving the Green Party some much-needed attention? Or is Stein just trying to shed some light on the dry rot gnawing away at the foundation of US democracy? All that, however necessary, seems very unlikely. After all, the recount plan was initially floated to Hillary Clinton, not Jill Stein. Thus, we must assume this is all part of a major power push for the Democrats to steal the White House from Donald Trump.

As Paul Joseph Watson summed up the situation: “Her entire campaign was backed by an establishment that wouldn’t hesitate to exploit a recount to carry out the vote fraud they thought they didn’t need on Election Day.”

Exactly.

And here is where we can fit the last piece into the puzzle to understand what is really going on here. If the recount effort alone won’t make much of a difference to either Clinton or Stein’s chances of overturning the massive edge that Trump now enjoys, then why are they bothering themselves? Hold onto your seats, folks, this gets interesting.

The answer boils down to simple arithmetic, as well as some monkey play in the system.

Presently, Michigan has already agreed to a recount, which will be carried out this weekend and require hand-counting of ballots in the regions. This process will take many days. Federal law requires the recount to be finished by Dec. 13 – just six days before the Electoral College is expected to cast its votes.

Wisconsin has already agreed to a recount, while Pennsylvania is dragging its feet. In other words, this process will probably take us right up to Dec. 19 – the date the Electoral College is supposed to cast their votes (Why the Electoral College vote isn’t valid without these voters, who could go rogue, is a question for another day).

Keep in mind that the total number of Electoral College Votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania equals 46. Now take Trump’s 306 Electoral votes and subtract that amount. This leaves you with 260, which is below the 270 required for a candidate to be automatically considered the winner of a presidential election. Do you see where this is going?

Now if this recount should start to point toward a Clinton victory in these three swing states, this will present Trump with a very serious quandary. Should he kick up a fuss and protest the recount on the grounds that he won the Electoral College, this could provoke some sort of “constitutional crisis” that prevents the recount from being completed by the Dec. 13 deadline.

Now, if the matter remains unsettled by Dec. 19 this could – technically speaking – give the Electoral College’s “faithless electors” yet more reason for not aligning themselves with their constituents. Or, on the other hand, the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania votes could be considered forfeited because they failed to resolve the issue by the Dec. 19 deadline.

So if it did come down to this, who do you think will be selected – possibly by the very Supreme Court that Trump hopes to disband once in office – to be the 45th president of the United States?

Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the candidate we have been told got 2.5 million more popular votes than Donald Trump (I would suggest Trump start a serious process to challenge those votes right now).

For those who still doubt this possibility, please consider the two latest failed grassroots movements of our times – Brexit and the Greek referendum – two examples of ‘democracy in action’ that the political elite has de facto canceled or put on hold indefinitely.

Such dramatic setbacks, which are becoming the rule rather than the exception, lend credence to Mark Twain’s famous observation that “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

In other words, the elite will always get what they want, regardless how the votes goes.

Clinton seizing the White House through the backdoor would not be the strangest thing to happen in old Washington. Just ask George W. Bush how he got elected president in 2000 by the Supreme Court, not We the People.

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist based in Moscow, Russia. His articles have been featured in many publications, including Russia in Global Affairs, The Moscow Times, Lew Rockwell and Global Research. Bridge is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, which was released in 2013. email: [email protected]

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Aleppo Has Sent the West into Panic Overdrive

December 4th, 2016 by Martin Berger

Till the very end of November both the EU and Washington sought to convince international community that none of the parties to the Syrian conflict are strong enough to have a decisive advantage over the opponent on the field of battle.

At the same time, Western political circles took all possible steps to prevent Damascus and Russia from intensifying their offense against ISIS in Syria, particularly in Aleppo. To this end, US Secretary of State John Kerry has stepped up diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement with Russia on Syria before the sitting administration leaves office, The Washington Post would note. According to this newspaper, the Secretary of State doesn’t care about the alleged “humanitarian crisis” in Aleppo, what he fears is that the Trump administration can strike a different kind of deal with Moscow, which would essentially put the United States on the same side with Bashar al-Assad.

It’s curious that EU officials have pushed their propaganda sources into an overdrive, forcing them to publish all sorts false accusations against Moscow and Damascus, saying that they have been bombing schools and hospitals specifically. Yet, there was a complete media blackout about hundreds of civilians in Aleppo butchered by radical militants, that prevented local population from fleeing the territories they occupied through humanitarian corridors that the government opened. Yet, we were led to believe that the Islamists are some kind of heroes, while those who risked their lives to purge the city of this “black plague” were portrayed as criminals.

At this point the UN stage was used by the governments of Britain, France and German to demand Damascus to introduce a “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo. However, these were not used to provide relief for the inhabitants of the besieged city, since the West made no attempt to send a single humanitarian convoy to Aleppo. The representatives of the above mentioned three countries, just like the US representatives, didn’t even have the courage to lead the convoys provided by Russia into the city to prevent them from being ambushed.

Instead, the West used these pauses to redeploy more Islamists to Aleppo and provide them with additional equipment. There’s been a number of publications that prove that in this period the Ansar al-Islam jihadists were provided with AA capabilities, when massive arms deals were made in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, to smuggle massive amounts of Soviet-made weapons to Syria.

However, Syrian troops have been pretty successful so far in the liberation of Aleppo, which resulted in Washington finding itself in a pretty peculiar position. The Financial Times has already reported that the Syrian opposition leaders are engaged in secret talks with Russia to put an end to hostilities in Aleppo. This can result in the US being pushed out of the equation in a number of key conflicts in the Middle East, including Syria. As Washington’s concept of “moderate opposition” fails it’s losing any grounds to have a say in Syria, as those “moderate” militants turned out to be Jabhat Al-Nusra radicals.

The US and EU have been in a frank panic from the developments in Syria since that they can expose the true role that the US and its European allies played in the creation of ISIS. The US State Department spokesman Mark Toner has gone as far as publicly urging to prevent Russia from fighting international terrorism in Syria. Immediately after this statement, representatives of France, Britain and Germany tried to increase the pressure on Russia via the UN Security Council.

The delirious state of the ruling European elites has been displayed on public when the Guardian published their last demand:

European leaders, notably the French, are privately warning Vladimir Putin that if he permits Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to turn an expected capture of Aleppo into a military victory across most of the country, it will be up to Russia to foot the bill for reconstruction

It looks that those in power in London, Paris, Berlin are completely brain dead, since they seem to be unable to recall who destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and a number of other countries. The United States, with the avid support provided by the EU, have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, while destroying the homes and the infrastructure that supported those that they spared, which resulted in a veritable exodus of migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Europe. So, maybe they should be paying the bills instead of forcing smaller European countries to provide shelter for the refugees they created in the first place. And what about Washington’s responsibility?

Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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US Secretary of State Kerry’s latest offer for all Jihadis to leave Aleppo appears to be an attempt to get the Russians to agree to a ceasefire in order to preserve the Al-Qaeda controlled pocket in eastern Aleppo until after Obama leaves the Presidency in January. However Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called Kerry’s bluff by demanding that the US come up with concrete proposals and a definite timetable for the Jihadis’ withdrawal.

As news filters in of the Syrian army’s capture of another formerly Jihadi controlled district of eastern Aleppo, and of talks between the Russians and Jihadi representatives in the Turkish capital Ankara, there comes news of further discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary State Kerry in Geneva.

Now Lavrov is saying that Kerry came to Geneva on 2nd December 2016 and “finally presented proposals on Aleppo in line with Russia’s stance”.

In reality, though the fact has been little reported in the media, the last few weeks have witnessed frantic diplomatic activity, with the UN repeatedly calling for a ceasefire in Aleppo to enable it to send humanitarian supplies there, further denunciations of Russia’s actions by the US and other Western governments, and a further attempt by the French to propose a Resolution to the UN Security Council to impose a ceasefire.

The reason this activity has attracted so little attention is that they are action carried out by ghosts.

No one takes seriously the diplomatic manoeuvres of US and French governments that are in the last weeks and months of their respective lives, and which are likely to be replaced by new governments that take a diametrically opposite view of the Syrian conflict than they do.

There is also the factor that with the military situation in eastern Aleppo approaching its endgame, no one any longer seriously believes these diplomatic manoeuvres are going to change anything.

Possibly the most surreal event of all was a bizarre debate in Britain’s House of Commons, called at the insistence of a group of over 200 British MPs who demanded that the British air force air drop supplies to “relieve the suffering” of eastern Aleppo.

The idea that the British air force could challenge the Russians where even the mighty US air force refuses to gois beyond ridiculous, and the whole debate – complete with the government’s failure to call the demand ridiculous, and the heckling of a government minister when he tried (weakly) to explain some of the realities – shows just how delusional on the subject of Aleppo and Syria some people in Britain have become.

In light of this it comes as no surprise to read in The Economist that there were even some people presumably in Britain (since The Economist is a British magazine) who apparently seriously proposed building tunnels to eastern Aleppo to send supplies there

Out-manoeuvred, Western diplomats have discussed lifting the siege by digging tunnels….. (!)

As for the proposals Kerry presented to Lavrov, we have no details but Lavrov has made absolutely clear what the Russian demands are

Moscow is ready to immediately send our military experts and diplomats to Geneva to work out joint actions with our US colleagues in line with the [new] American proposals, which would ensure the withdrawal of all militants without exception from eastern Aleppo, and would provide unimpeded humanitarian supplies to the city’s residents and ensure the establishment of normal life in eastern Aleppo.

(bold italics added)

This has been the consistent Russian demand since at least the summer, as reported by The Duran, but so far as I know nowhere else.

As we have also previously explained, the US appeared to accede to this demand in the Kerry-Lavrov agreement of this September.  However the US failed to do what it had agreed to do, which was get the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis to withdraw from eastern Aleppo by way of the Castello road.  The reasons for this was divisions within the US administration, with the hardline group in the ascendant acting in a way that was intended – as Lavrov today also said

…[to] take the heat off Al-Nusra, which directs the militants in the un-liberated parts of eastern Aleppo,…

Will this latest offer from Kerry amount to anything?  The Russians are insisting that before anything happens there must be a concrete agreement on a timetable for the Jihadis’ withdrawal.  Though Lavrov is offering to send experts to Geneva to work on this offer, he made it clear that any meeting must not be a meeting for a meeting’s sake

It must not be a meeting for the sake of a meeting. It is necessary to agree on a detailed timeline of steps.

These comments of Lavrov’s highlight the deep mistrust the Russians now have towards the Obama administration.  Plainly what they will not agree to is a ceasefire with the terms and the timetable of the withdrawal left to be discussed later.  They are insisting on a definite commitment – one binding on the Jihadis – for them to withdraw completely from eastern Aleppo by a specific date.

In reality – as Lavrov almost certainly knows – Kerry’s latest proposals probably are a last desperate bid to get the Russians to agree to a ceasefire in Aleppo so that what is left of the Jihadi pocket can be preserved intact until after Obama’s final departure in January.

That way Obama would be spared the humiliation of having the Jihadi pocket fall whilst he is still President, so that the blame for its eventual fall can be passed on by him and the members of his administration onto Donald Trump.

Lavrov’s comments suggest that the Russians are in no mood to help Obama in this way, and given the appalling state relations between the US and Russia have fallen to under his Presidency, it is difficult to see why they would do so.

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After spending the past month blaming Hillary’s loss on the rampant spread of “fake news,” because choosing a failed candidate subject to numerous active federal criminal investigations and/or Obama’s failed policies couldn’t possibly be to blame, Mic is reporting that Obama is contemplating starting a propaganda machine media company of his own after leaving the White House.

 President Barack Obama has been discussing a post-presidential career in digital media and is considering launching his own media company, according to multiple sources who spoke on background because they were not authorized to speak for the president.

Obama considers media to be a central focus of his next chapter, these sources say, though exactly what form that will take — a show streaming on Netflix, a web series on a comedy site or something else — remains unclear. Obama has gone so far as to discuss launching his own media company, according to one source with knowledge of the matter, although he has reportedly cooled on the idea of late.

According to another source, Obama met privately with Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in Lima, Peru, on the sidelines of the recent APEC summit to discuss the matter.

While Obama has been on a crusade against “fake news” of late, we’re not exactly sure how adding yet another MSNBC substitute to the media arm of the democratic party will change anything in a meaningful way.  While Obama continues to “rethink his storytelling,” he and other democrats simply continue to prove that they’ve learned absolutely nothing from the 2016 election.  The entire election was a rejection of “storytelling” in favor of action, it was a rejection of establishment politicians, like Obama, who have proven time and again that, while they’re great at delivering emotional speeches on “Hope and Change,” they are completely void of any substance beyond their rhetoric. 

 When Rolling Stone asked the president about his future plans, Obama said he would begin “organizing my presidential center,” where a top subject would be, “How do we rethink our storytelling, the messaging and the use of technology and digital media, so that we can make a persuasive case across the country?”

In recent days — even before Trump’s surprising victory — Obama also mused openly about what he views as the dangerous state of media and his desire to play a role in fixing it. According to the New Yorker, Obama apparently obsessed over a BuzzFeed story that documented how more than 100 pro-Trump websites peddling fake news reports had originated in one small Macedonian town. The president worried aloud that the way stories are displayed on various platforms “means everything is true and nothing is true” and that “an explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers’ payroll.”

Obama has been outspoken in recent days about the faux news phenomenon, arguing that the rise of conspiracy theories and the easy propagation of fake stories has made it difficult to establish basic facts to frame a debate. “And now we just don’t have that,” he told New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Of course, if true an Obama media company would threaten a long-standing tradition of former Presidents withholding criticism of their successors.

 Depending on what form it takes, a hard dive into media could also put Obama at odds with presidential precedent. For decades, former presidents have followed a tradition of remaining quiet about their successors in public. During his recent visit to Peru, Obama said he would uphold that convention after leaving office, but also hinted he might speak out when he feels necessary. “If there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle or go to core questions about our values and ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I’ll examine it when it comes,” Obama told reporters.

Remember when Obama scolded Republicans with his “Elections have consequences. Tough luck, you lost. Get over it” line.  We guess that only applies when his team wins.

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“Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.” -Fidel Castro Ruz (Concluding remarks from courtroom defense speech; October 16, 1953) [1]  

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On Friday November 25, 2016, Fidel Castro Ruz, the revolutionary who liberated the people of Cuba from the dictatorial rule of Fuglencio Batista[2], prevailed against several US-backed terrorist operations[3] and assassination attempts [4], walked among world leaders and inspired liberation movements around the world, fought and lost his final battle.  He was 90.

Raul Castro, who had succeeded his brother in the role of president, declared a nine day mourning period ending December 4.

Starting Monday November 28th, Cubans by the thousands gathered in Havana to pay their last respects to the Commander in Chief of the Revolution. A mass eulogy on Tuesday the 29th attracted tens of thousands of Cubans, along with dignitaries from around the world, including Venezuela’s Nicholas Maduro, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma.

News of his death also prompted attacks from those who perceived him as a human rights abuser and dictator. Anti-Castro Cubans in Miami reportedly celebrated his passing. In a tweet, following news of Castro’s passing, President-Elect Donald Trump referred to him as “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.” When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed sorrow for the passing of this eminent figure, he found himself pilloried by politicians and pundits inside and outside of the country.

Castro demonstrated that it was possible to stand up to a super power which habitually bullied its way throughout the Global South. Moreover, he actively committed his country’s resources, be it doctors, teachers or even troops, to the service of other struggling nations.

This week’s Global Research News Hour acknowledges the significance of Fidel Castro as an international figure and commemorates his passing with an hour-long examination of his life, and the legacy he left behind.

Lesley Hughes is a Canadian journalist, broadcaster and media critic. She also served as Canadian correspondent for Radio Havana back in the early 1990s. Hughes comments on the irresponsible media coverage greeting Castro’s death, and how to beat past the propaganda to get to a more sober account of his role in history. 

Eva Golinger is an attorney and a high level strategic consultant for high level clients worldwide including the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. She is the author of six books including The Chavez Code and Bush vs. Chavez: Washington’s War on Venezuela. Golinger speaks about meeting Castro and addresses how the island nation has managed in the face of hostility from the US.

 Abayomi Azikiwe is a geo-political analyst and Editor of Pan-African NewsWire. In this week’s episode, Azikiwe outlines Cuba’s solidarity efforts abroad and how they helped improve the popularity of Castro. 

Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and author of numerous books on energy depletion and transition. The California-based analyst explains how Cuba survived the near catastrophe resulting from the disintegration of its long time ally, the Soviet Union, after 1991. 

The episode ends with recollections from Global Research Editor and Founder Professor Michel Chossudovsky as well as a translation of one of Castro’s speeches, both read by the host for the radio show. 

Click here to read Fidel Castro’s conversations with Michel Chossudovsky.

Click here to read Fidel Castro articles on Global Research.

 

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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. Fidel Castro Reader (2007), p.105, Published by Ocean Press
  2. Clive Foss (2000), ‘Fidel Castro’ pg 48-51, Sutton Publishing
  3. Julia E. Sweig(2009), ‘Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know’, p. 100, Oxford University Press
  4. ibid, p.208

 

 

 

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On November 29, he publicly announced that Turkey had launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of “the tyrant al-Assad“:

The Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Nov. 29.

“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” Erdoğan said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.

“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” the president said.

Nonetheless, on December 1, the Turkish president was pushed to backtrack on Syrian goals, claryfying that “to end the rule of tyrant al-Assad” means “to combat terrorism“:

Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria does not target any country or individual, and is aimed only at terrorist groups, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. He had earlier stated that Turkey was in Syria to “end the rule of the cruel Assad.”

“The aim of the Euphrates Shield Operation [in northern Syria] is not any country or person, but only terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said Thursday, as quoted by the Hurryiet Daily News.

“No one should doubt this issue that we have uttered over and over, and no one should comment on it in another fashion or try to derail it,” he added.

The shift of Erdogan’s strategy in Syria came after a phone call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Accident? Don’t think so.

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US President-elect Donald Trump expressed his support for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) ahead of an evacuation order, due to go into effect on Monday, against thousands of people protesting the oil pipeline project.

Trump’s transition team released a statement reaffirming his support for the $3.8 billion project and claiming that this position is not related to his personal investment of $500,000 in Energy Partners, the Texas-based company that is leading the project. In his speech in Cincinnati on Tuesday, Trump pledged to “eliminate every single wasteful regulation” and remove all “restrictions on the production of shale energy, oil, natural gas and clean coal.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172-mile underground pipeline under construction that would connect the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to southern Illinois, passing through the states of South Dakota and Iowa. It would also pass through North American tribal lands, including the Standing Rock Indian Reservation of Sioux tribes that includes parts of North and South Dakota.

The pipeline has been financed by a consortium of 17 banks, including Citibank, Wells Fargo, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas and Société Générale. Additional capital is due to be raised from the partial sale of Energy Partners to a joint venture of Marathon Petroleum and Enbridge. The latter company was responsible for an 800,000-gallon oil spill in Michigan in 2010.

Protests initiated by the Sioux tribes in April have attracted thousands of supporters who have gathered at camp sites near a portion of the pipeline. They have expressed opposition to the pipeline’s construction out of fear that leaks will contaminate the reservation’s only water supply—Lake Oahe, formed by a dam on the Missouri River—and destroy cultural sites.

This weekend, hundreds of US military veterans are planning to join the protests, organized by the Veterans for Standing Rock. Members of the organization have already begun constructing more permanent buildings to house the protesters. They have also said they plan on staging a demonstration Monday and will be forming a wall to block police from attacking protesters.

Under the watchful eye of the Obama administration, protesters have been subjected to brutal violence from local police and the National Guard, including the use of water cannons in freezing weather, tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades. Many protesters have been seriously injured in clashes with police, who have arrested at least 525 people since August.

Police have deployed armored vehicles, and the Federal Aviation Administration has declared the area a no-fly zone, banning the use of drones to photograph the campsite and document the police response.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and the US Army Corps of Engineers—a federal agency under the control of the Defense Department and therefore the Obama administration—have set a December 5 deadline for the end of protests and the evacuation of those attempting to block the pipeline’s construction.

While officials issued the evacuation order on the grounds that it is necessary to protect “public safety,” and the US Army Corps has denied plans to seek the “forcible removal” of the camps, they want to force out protesters and create conditions for the arrest or violent dispersal of anyone who remains.

The governor cynically justified the evacuation order by claiming that the camps do not possess “proper permanent sanitation infrastructure,” but the state is simultaneously moving to prevent the transport of supplies to the protesters. The state has said that, beginning Monday, it will inform those traveling to the site that they could face fines of up to $1,000.

A North Dakota sheriff has said that the December 5 deadline is intended mainly to reduce the federal government’s legal liability for the protesters should they suffer injury or death as the cold Dakota winter sets in.

The state has also stopped snowplows from clearing about a mile of highway leading up to the camps, absurdly claiming that workers do not feel safe approaching the area.

The implementation of the evacuation orders follows a decision earlier this week by US District Court Judge Daniel Hovland to reject a temporary restraining order that would prevent police from using impact munitions, including rubber bullets, water cannon and concussion grenades. The judge rejected the suit, filed by the National Lawyers Guild, on technical grounds.

While an incoming Trump administration will no doubt move aggressively to ensure construction of the pipeline, the Obama administration has been fully complicit in the police assault on the protesters. In early November, Obama said that his administration would “let it play out for several more weeks” before deciding on whether to issue an easement to move forward with construction under Lake Oahe.

Native American tribes in the United States suffer from deplorable social conditions that are the legacy of American capitalism’s blood-soaked rise as a continental power. They have some of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment and other indices of social distress. More than 40 percent of the population in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has an income below the official federal poverty rate, while one report estimated that the real unemployment rate was as high as 86 percent.

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Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that his government has given the go-ahead for two major pipeline projects, including the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to transport diluted bitumen (heavy oil) from Alberta’s tar sands to the British Columbia coast.

Trudeau’s announcement has been universally hailed by big business, because it will decrease Canadian dependence on the US energy market and open up Asian markets for Canada’s oil industry.

In a bid to placate some of the Liberals’ environmentalist supporters, Trudeau confirmed that an alternate, long-troubled project to transport bitumen to Kitimat on BC’s north shore, the Northern Gateway pipeline, will not be allowed to proceed. This enabled Trudeau to announce his government will make a ban on oil tankers off the northern BC coast permanent.

The Liberals’ approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline has major economic and geopolitical implications for Canadian big business. The previous Stephen Harper-led Conservative government sought to establish Canada as an “energy superpower.” A key element in this strategy was securing access to tidewater for Alberta oil, rather than having it “locked-into” the Canada-US market. The Canadian ruling elite has been keen to take advantage of rapidly growing markets in Asia and the commodity price-boom of the first decade of this century. Harper even hoped that the growing conflict between the western powers and Russia, in which Canada has been playing a leading and provocative role, could open European markets to Canadian oil and liquid natural gas exports.

Harper’s strategy suffered a major blow with the 2014 oil price collapse, which led to the cancelling or delay of oil-projects worth tens of billions of dollars, the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs in Alberta and the rapid spread of poverty and economic insecurity in what had been Canada’s richest province. In addition, the vast growth of shale oil and natural gas production in the US in recent years undermined the market for Alberta’s high-cost tar sands oil south of the border.

But a significant impediment to building the pipelines needed to open up new markets for the rapidly expanding output of Alberta tar-sands oil was political: the Conservatives’ belligerent assertion of the interests of big business, packaged in aggressive Canadian nationalist and militarist terms, provoked widespread opposition among the population. As a result, despite the Conservatives’ repeated vows of support for the energy sector, not a single kilometer of new pipeline was built during Harper’s ten years in office.

The Trudeau Liberals: a “progressive” mask for continued austerity and war

This was one of the chief reasons why decisive sections of big business rallied behind the Liberals in the 2015 election. The ruling class calculated that Trudeau’s professed commitment to a clean energy strategy, environmental protection, and a “nation to nation” relationship with native people—that is his policy of integrating the aboriginal elite into big business and the state—would provide a Liberal government with the necessary political cover to oversee a crash program in pipeline building and expansion.

Aided and abetted by the trade unions and New Democratic Party (NDP), which leant their weight to an “Anybody but Harper” campaign in last year’s election that promoted the big business Liberals as a “progressive” alternative, Trudeau and his cabinet have now begun to deliver the goods. Speaking in the House of Commons Wednesday, Trudeau boasted, “Yesterday’s announcement demonstrated that in one year we were able to do what, in ten years, the previous government was unable to do.”

The Liberal government and Big Oil hope to achieve a number of inter-related goals with the building of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Their first goal is to reduce the Canadian oil industry’s dependence on the US market. Although the Canada-US partnership remains pivotal to Canadian imperialism, with Ottawa deeply implicated in Washington’s principal military-strategic offensives and reliant on the US market for three quarters of all its exports, much of Canada’s energy sector views the US as a direct competitor and is determined to increase Canada’s access to the world market. Fully 99 percent of Canadian oil exports currently go to the US, where Canadian producers are compelled to accept reduced prices, a problem only compounded by the present low price of oil.

Secondly, Canada’s ruling elite is seeking to make the tar sands, reputedly the world’s third largest reserve of recoverable oil, an important source of oil for Asia’s rapidly growing economies, especially China. The Liberals have been conducting a behind-the-scenes review of their policy towards China over recent months and Canada’s inability to get its oil to a Pacific port has been identified as a major obstacle to boosting Canada’s economic relations with the world’s second largest economy.

While the Trans Mountain decision was long in the making, it is clear that the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency last month reinforced the argument for approving it. Although the billionaire demagogue has vowed to revive the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport bitumen from Alberta to US refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, he has threatened to impose additional charges that would make the project less attractive. More fundamentally, his “America First” economic nationalism and protectionism is forcing ruling elites around the world, from Canada to Europe and Asia, to more openly assert their own imperialist interests.

The revival of the Canadian bourgeoisie’s “energy superpower” ambitions with this week’s pipeline announcements has been brought about by an alliance of the Liberals with the social democratic NDP. The Alberta government—currently the only provincial government led by the trade union-aligned NDP—collaborated closely with the Trudeau Liberals in laying the political groundwork for the greenlighting of the Trans Mountain project.

Fittingly, Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley met and engaged in mutual back-slapping immediately after his Tuesday announcement. Notley, whose NDP government has implemented austerity measures to offload the economic crisis onto working people while refusing to increase taxes on the oil corporations, has introduced a carbon tax and a 100 megaton annual cap on greenhouse gas emissions that will allow tar sands oil production to grow for years to come.

The Liberals have pressed ahead with their own federal “clean energy” initiative, which while providing the expansion of oil pipelines with political cover also seeks to create new opportunities for corporate profits in renewable and other energy sectors.

Notley hailed Trudeau for his “extraordinary leadership,” before going on to concisely sum up the hopes of big business, “We are getting a chance to break our land-lock. We’re getting a chance to sell to China and other new markets at better prices. We’re getting a chance to reduce our dependence on one market, and therefore to be more economically independent.”

Big business lauds Trudeau for defying public opinion

The corporate media has rushed to praise Trudeau’s decision. Important as Trans Mountain is for the Canadian ruling elite’s economic and geopolitical ambitions, the media also views Trudeau’s support for the project in the face of widespread public opposition as a test for other “tough decisions” it insists must be implemented. These include the soon to be announced deployment of hundreds of troops to wage war in Africa under the fraudulent banner of peacekeeping, the implementation of an already unveiled program of privatizing public infrastructure that will funnel billions into the pockets of the super-rich through the adoption of user fees and tolls on everything from water-supply to roads and bridges, and the enforcement of further attacks on the working class including pension reform and public spending cuts.

Campbell Clark, the Globe and Mail’s chief political writer, summed it up in a column Wednesday. Trudeau’s Trans Mountain announcement, he asserted, “marks a turning point in his prime ministership. Until now, it was easy to doubt whether Mr. Trudeau had the steel to make decisions that offend.” But now, continued Clark, he has shown that he is ready to implement measures “he knows will anger many who supported him.”

Andrew Coyne in the right-wing National Post was even more explicit. Under conditions of ongoing economic crisis and signs of growing class struggle in Canada and internationally, Coyne declared, “At stake in the coming battle over the Trans Mountain pipeline is not just the fate of the project or (Trudeau’s) own political fortunes, but how Canada is to be governed. It is a conflict we have been avoiding until now … Are decisions on resource use development to be made by democratically elected governments … within a framework of law defined by independent courts, or are we to be ruled in effect from the streets?”

The concern of Coyne and the many others who have written along similar lines is hardly with the likes of Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who has indicated she is prepared to go to jail for engaging in acts of civil disobedience to stop Trans Mountain. May is a representative of the political establishment who played a critical role in promoting the Liberals’ “progressive” bonafides during last year’s election, including by offering to help negotiate a Liberal-NDP coalition in the event of a hung or minority parliament.

What troubles big business and its media mouthpieces is the prospect of growing social unrest. Although the public protests against Trans Mountain have largely been confined to British Columbia and remain under the control of pro-capitalist environmentalist and First Nations groups, the ruling class fears that the attacks to be implemented by the Liberals in the period immediately ahead and the ongoing economic crisis will trigger a working class upsurge. This is why Coyne goes on to urge Trudeau to worry less about his abilities to “listen, to conciliate, to empathize” and to focus more in the coming period on displaying “his father’s steel.”

This is a reference to the right-wing, anti-working class record of Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who in the 1970s imposed the War Measures Act and sent troops onto the streets of Quebec, imposed a three-year wage-cutting wage-control program, and in 1978 threatened to fire postal worker en massewhen they defied a strike-breaking law.

This author also recommends:

Canada’s Resources Minister threatens to use army against pipeline protests
[3 December 2016]

Canada must be inside Trump’s “walls,” declares voice of financial elite
[25 November 2016]

Keystone XL pipeline rejection exemplifies Canadian elite’s deepening crisis
[11 November 2015]

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A Bare-Knuckle Fight Over US Election Recounts

December 4th, 2016 by Joe Lauria

Democrats are trying to stop Donald Trump’s inauguration by claiming Russian interference in the election, but the White House sees no evidence and Trump is now challenging the recounts, reports Joe Lauria.

When the Clinton campaign said it would join the recount in three Rust Belt states narrowly lost to Donald Trump, it didn’t say its motive was overcoming the vote totals but instead to find out if there was “foreign interference” in the election.

“This election cycle was unique in the degree of foreign interference witnessed throughout the campaign,” wrote Clinton campaign counsel Marc Elias.

“The U.S. government concluded that Russian state actors were behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the personal email accounts of Hillary for America campaign officials.”

Hillary Clinton speaking at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

During the campaign Hillary Clinton made no secret of where she thought that foreign interference might be coming from. She repeatedly blamed Russia for trying to sway the election.

When the Green Party’s Jill Stein launched her recount campaign in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania (the three states that gave Trump the victory), Stein’s announcement quoted her on her website as saying that because “foreign agents” had “hacked into party databases, private email servers, and voter databases in certain states, many Americans are wondering if our election results are reliable.” Stein’s page was then updated to eliminate reference to “foreign agents” in her quote.

But her recount petition filed in Wisconsin begins by saying “it was widely reported that foreign operators breached voter registration databases in at least two states and stole hundreds of thousands of voter records.” The petition then says the U.S. intelligence community is “confident” Russia was behind the hacks. There is “well-documented and conclusive evidence of foreign interference in the presidential race before the election … [that] call[s] into question the results and indicate the possibility that (a) widespread breach occurred,” Stein’s lawyers wrote.

In fact the intelligence community has never made public its evidence for independent computer experts to weigh in on. After the election, the Obama administration said it had no proof of Russian interference in the election tallies and that the results “accurately reflect the will of the American people.”

Citing Press Articles

Nevertheless, Exhibit A in Stein’s petition is an affidavit from Professor J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, who alleges that Russia hacked the election. Halderman took part in a conference call with the Clinton campaign last month trying to convince the campaign to seek a recount, which it only did after Stein launched her effort.

Russian President Vladimir Putin after the military parade on Red Square, May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from: http://en.kremlin.ru)

Russian President Vladimir Putin after the military parade on Red Square, May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from: http://en.kremlin.ru)

Exhibit B from Stein’s petition is an article from Wired Magazine about Russia’s alleged role in the hack. Exhibit C is a New York Times article quoting DellSecureWorks, a private security firm, saying Russia was behind the hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The company says Podesta clicked on a phishing link to gain access to his account. The Times relied on the company’s word that Russian spies were behind the phishing expedition, without also offering any proof that could be analyzed by other computer security experts.

Exhibits D through G — meaning all of Stein’s exhibits — are on alleged Russian hacking. One article is about an alleged attempted Russian hack of the 2014, post-coup Ukrainian election.

In her many media appearances since launching the recount campaign, Stein has carefully avoided mentioning Russia, or foreign agents, as she inadvertently did in her initial web posting. But her petition is about nothing else but Russia’s alleged hacking of the election.

Scott McLarty, the Green Party national media coordinator, told me in an email last week that the Green Party has “not taken a position on meddling by foreign agents.” Since then, top Green Party officials have distanced themselves from Stein, including her running mate, Ajamu Baraka.

“I’m not in favor of the recount,” Baraka told CNN. He said he told Stein “it was a potentially dangerous move” because it “would be seen as carrying the water for the Democrats.”

Margaret Flowers, the Green’s Senate candidate in Maryland, posted an open letter signed by several prominent party members saying, “While we support electoral reforms, including how the vote is counted, we do not support the current recount being undertaken by Jill Stein.”

The recount, however, does appear to have gotten under the skin of Donald Trump and his allies who, on Friday, went to courts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, seeking to stop any further examination of the votes. The challenges did not immediately stop the recounts but could create legal complications down the road.

Lobbying the Electors

Since recounts that overturn the vote totals seem unlikely, it appears the Clinton campaign’s Plan B is to use any evidence of tampering that it can pin on Russia to lobby electors to change their votes to Clinton when the Electoral College meets in state capitals on Dec. 19.

President-elect Donald Trump. (Photo credit: donaldjtrump.com)

President-elect Donald Trump. (Photo credit: donaldjtrump.com)

Trump won the electoral college 306 to 232. That means 38 Republican electors would have to be convinced to change their vote to Clinton to reach the required 270 to win the White House.

Finding evidence of hacking of election computers that can somehow be blamed on Russia could be crucial for the Clinton team in their effort to convince electors to change their vote.

Russia has been blamed in the U.S. for many things and though proof never seems to be supplied, it is widely believed anyway. It has been accepted as fact by American corporate media, for instance, that Russia invaded Ukraine and had a hand in shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, though the supposed evidence is more argumentative than conclusive.

Emotional appeals to elector’s patriotism and defense of the American system against interference by Russia could make a persuasive argument, however.

At an event at Harvard University on Thursday, Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, repeatedly blamed Russia for hacking and tampering with the election. “Congress has got to investigate what happened with Russia here,” said Mook. “It is outrageous that a foreign aggressor got involved in our election.”

Robert Reich, labor secretary under President Bill Clinton and a Hillary supporter, argued that one reason the electors should flip to Clinton is to “stop foreign interference in an election.”

Quoting on article, he wrote on Facebook: “The Framers were extremely concerned about infiltration by rivals including Great Britain. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that one major purpose of the Electoral College was to stop the ‘desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.’ He said that the college would, ‘Guard against all danger of this sort … with the most provident and judicious attention’ from the electors.”

Reich continued: “There’s incontrovertible evidence Russia interfered in the campaign by hacking the email accounts of top Democratic officials and cooperating with WikiLeaks’ parallel campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton campaign.” If such incontrovertible evidence exists, the Obama administration’s intelligence community has not shared it with the public.

Clinton operatives are also making her victory by more than 2 million popular votes part of their appeal to electors to switch sides.

Twenty-four states do not legally bind electors to the popular vote in their states. Elsewhere, electors face fines of about $1,000 if they vote against the will of the people of their states.

Laurence Tribe, a well-known and connected Democratic lawyer, has offered to defend pro bono any elector who breaks the law by changing their vote to Clinton. And there are plans to mount a constitutional challenge against the 26 states that legally bind the electors’ to their state’s popular vote.

Accompanying Media Campaign

The lobbying effort to blame Russia and get the electors to flip their votes is being accompanied by an intense media campaign.

In the announcement that the Clinton campaign would join the recount, campaign counsel Elias aligned the campaign with an unverified Washington Post article based largely on a shadowy, anonymous group that blamed a list of 200 alternative media sites and political groups for spreading Russian propaganda to influence the election, without providing any evidence.

“The Washington Post reported that the Russian government was behind much of the ‘fake news’ propaganda that circulated online in the closing weeks of the election,” Elias wrote.

A Huffington Post article said one of the eight reasons the electors should overturn the election is because “Russian covert action influenced the election.”

The staunchly pro-Clinton Daily Kos wrote that “Even if they never touched a voting machine, there’s absolutely no doubt: Russia hacked the election.”

If evidence of hacking is found in the recounts, the Clinton campaign would be greatly aided in lobbying electors with confirmation from the Obama administration that Russia was behind it. But on the day before the Clinton team joined the recount, the Obama administration appeared to throw a wrench into the plan to blame Russia.

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Nov. 10, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Nov. 10, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The administration said it remained “confident in the overall integrity of electoral infrastructure, a confidence that was borne out,” adding: “As a result, we believe our elections were free and fair from a cyber-security perspective.”

The timing of that statement may have been intended to undermine Clinton as a split was reported between President Obama and Hillary Clinton over whether to have a recount.

Not satisfied with the administration’s conclusion, a group of Democratic senators on Thursday asked that information about Russian hacking should be declassified and released to the public.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded that the administration would take a look at the request. But he added that the intelligence community “did not observe an increase in malicious cyber-activity on Election Day from the Russians that was directed at disrupting the casting or counting of ballots.”

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected]  and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

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What President-elect Trump says and what he will actually do, still remains to be seen. However, Trump had made statements in the past regarding Israel and the Palestinians do raise some important questions. The Palestinians whether in the West Bank, the Gaza strip and elsewhere have legitimate concerns regarding the Trump administration that is set to begin on January 20th, 2017. Trump will begin his term not only as the commander-in-chief of a global empire, but as a friend to Israel, probably its “best friend” after some of the statements he made in the past.  

The New York Times reported what right-wing members of the Israeli government thought about Trump’s victory on November 14th, ‘Israel’s Right, Cheering Donald Trump’s Win, Renews Calls to Abandon 2-State Solution’:

Emboldened by the Republican sweep of last week’s American elections, right-wing members of the Israeli government have called anew for the abandonment of a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

“The combination of changes in the United States, in Europe and in the region provide Israel with a unique opportunity to reset and rethink everything,” Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and the leader of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, told a gathering of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem on Monday. Mr. Bennett, who advocates annexing 60 percent of the occupied West Bank to Israel, exulted on the morning after Donald J. Trump’s victory: “The era of a Palestinian state is over”

Obviously, Naftali Bennet is quite optimistic about Trump’s election victory. Back in August 8th, 2015, The Times of Israel published an interesting story by Uriel Heilman on Trump’s long and deep connections to Israel and to Jewish American community in the U.S. The article was titled ‘When it comes to Jewish ties, no GOP candidate trumps Trump’, Heilman wrote the following:

Given his myriad Jewish associations, Trump is not an unfamiliar face in Jewish circles. He has served as a grand marshal at New York’s annual Salute to Israel Parade. After Hurricane Katrina, he was among a group of celebrities who decorated Jewish federation tzedakah boxes to be auctioned off to support hurricane disaster relief. And in February, he was honored with an award at the annual gala for the Algemeiner, a right-wing Jewish news organization.

“I have a Jewish daughter. This wasn’t in the plan, but I’m very glad it happened,” Trump said at the event, held in Manhattan. On Israel, he said, “We love Israel. We will fight for Israel 100 percent, 1,000 percent. It will be there forever”

Trump said that he will fight for Israel 1,000 percent, so what does that mean for the Palestinians and for the Middle East in general? It seems that the Trump administration will defend Israel’s actions no matter what it does against its Arab neighbors following in the same footsteps of past U.S. Presidents.

Under the Trump Administration, U.S. “Security Aid” to Israel will substantially Increase

Well, there is a certainty that Trump’s aid package to Israel would surpass President Obama’s $38 billion 10-year deal. On September 15th www.jewishinsider.com published a report ‘Trump Advisor: Security Aid to Israel Will Not Be Limited By MOU” on what Trump’s advisor David Friedman had said to the Jewish Insider in regards to U.S. “security aid” to Israel:

The United States will not be limited by the new $38 billion 10-year “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) in determining whether and how to increase security aid to Israel under a Trump administration, Donald Trump’s Israel advisor told Jewish Insider on Thursday.

“Under a Trump administration, the level of strategic and tactical cooperation between the two countries will be of an unprecedented high level,” attorney David Friedman, who advises the Republican presidential nominee on U.S.-Israel affairs, said. “The U.S. will not be limited in its support for Israel by the terms of the MOU”

More aid to Israel will certainly increase under a Trump administration. Does this mean more conflicts against Israel’s adversaries including the Palestinians, Hezbollah and a possible major war against Iran? Trump just nominated retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense who said that Iran “remains the single most belligerent actor in the Middle East” in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. last April (not a good sign for US-Iran relations in the future). Will Trump give Israel the green light to attack Iran if he does not make a “new deal” concerning Iran’s nuclear program? Unlimited security aid means that the Israeli government can become more militarily aggressive towards its neighbors and that is a dangerous step towards a Middle East conflict that could spiral out of control under a Trump presidency.

Trump Supports Israeli Settlement Expansion

On May 3rd, 2016, www.dailymail.com interviewed Trump and asked him about Israel’s intention to build West Bank settlements ‘EXCLUSIVE: Trump insists Israel should keep building West Bank settlements as he says Netanyahu should ‘keep moving forward’ because Palestinians fired ‘thousands of missiles’ at Jewish state.’ Here is part of the interview on Trump’s position on Israel’s construction of new settlements and negotiating a peace deal between both sides:

Asked whether there should be a pause in new construction – which the Obama administration has pressured Netanyahu’s government to observe in order to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table – Trump responded: ‘No, I don’t think it is, because I think Israel should have – they really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward.’ ‘No, I don’t think there should be a pause,’ Trump said. ‘Look: Missiles were launched into Israel, and Israel, I think, never was properly treated by our country. I mean, do you know what that is, how devastating that is?’ ‘With all of that being said, I would love to see if peace could be negotiated. A lot of people say that’s not a deal that’s possible. But I mean lasting peace, not a peace that lasts for two weeks and they start launching missiles again. So we’ll see what happens,’ Trump added.

‘I’d love to negotiate peace. I think that, to me, is the all-time negotiation,’ Trump said, in reference to stalled peace talks – which Palestinian negotiators say won’t occur without a halt in new construction.  The Obama administration demanded in 2009 that Netanyahu’s administration freeze new settlement construction in an effort to get the two sides to the negotiating table

Trump’s negotiations won’t stand a chance if he continues to support Israel’s settlement expansion deemed illegal by the international community.

The Trump Administration will Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

On September 25th, 2016, Reuters reported that President-elect Trump has every intention of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Sunday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if elected, the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the campaign said, marking a potential dramatic shift in U.S. policy.

During the meeting that lasted more than an hour at Trump Tower in New York, Trump told Netanyahu that under his administration, the United States would “recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel”

The day after, an article by The Jerusalem Post ‘Palestinians: Donald Trump shows ‘disregard for international law’described the reactions from Palestinian officials on Trump’s remarks on Jerusalem becoming Israel’s capital:

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat on Monday condemned Republican White House contender Donald Trump for saying if he is elected, the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. Erekat charged that Trump’s remarks – made during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday – show “disregard for international law.” The senior PLO official continued, accusing, the GOP presidential candidate of “neglecting” calls for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestinians.

“Previous statements delivered by [Trump’s] adviser on Israel show a total abandonment of the two-state solution, international law and UN resolutions,” Erekat asserted

The Middle East, especially the Palestinians should be concerned about President-elect Donald Trump come this January. Trump’s statements during his campaign on Israeli-Palestinian issues including his promise for more unlimited security aid for Israel, his support for the construction of more illegal Jewish settlements and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is worrisome. Trump’s “unbreakable” bond with Israel is a continuation of Washington’s long-standing policy that favors Israel over its Arab neighbors.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will fail under a Trump presidency if he follows through with the promises he made to the Israeli government under its current President, Benjamin Netanyahu. Expect more of the same old political shenanigans by the deep relationship between the U.S. and Israel. President-elect Trump, just like his predecessors before, will fund, arm and protect Israel, stoking tensions that can lead to more conflicts in the Middle East.

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Russia-US Agreement on Aleppo or Another American Deception?

December 4th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Throughout made in the USA conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, Washington systematically undermined Russia’s good faith efforts for responsible resolution.

America can’t be trusted, vowing one thing, doing another, notably,  under Obama, Bush/Cheney and the Clintons, waging permanent wars on humanity, rejecting peace and stability.

It’s unknown if Trump intends changing things, diverging from longstanding policy, wanting to be a peace, not a warrior president. The way he goes will be the measure of whether he fulfills lofty campaign promises or governs as the latest in a long line of leaders following agendas similar to their predecessors.

Negotiating with Obama officials is a lost cause, a waste of time, virtually no chance for responsible diplomatic resolution. Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry had numerous face-to-face and phone discussions – all for naught, accomplishing nothing.

Once again, they met in Rome. Lavrov said Kerry presented a proposal in line with Russia’s on Aleppo. Endless earlier promises were violated.

Is this time different? Will conflict in the city be resolved diplomatically? Will steps be taken for peace nationwide?

America doesn’t wage wars to quit, at least not since the 1990s. Russia isn’t about to accept anything from Washington on face value. It’s been betrayed so many times before.

It’ll follow through on its end responsibly, Lavrov saying “Moscow is ready to immediately send our military experts and diplomats to Geneva to work out joint actions with our US colleagues in line with the (new) American proposals, which would ensure the withdrawal of all militants without exception from eastern Aleppo, and would provide unimpeded humanitarian supplies to the city’s residents and ensure the establishment of normal life in eastern Aleppo.”

It must not be a meeting for the sake of a meeting. It is necessary to agree on a detailed timeline of steps.

With less than seven weeks left in Obama’s tenure, expect Russia to act in good faith like all previous negotiations with Washington while awaiting Trump to succeed Obama, hoping he’ll be more receptive to responsible negotiations than years of futility up to now.

Obama’s neocon infested administration isn’t about to turn a new page. Hopefully Trump meant what he said in wanting to normalize relations with Russia, both countries cooperating in combating terrorism.

It remains to be seen if his word is his bond, whether he’s able to overcome enormous pressure to stay hardline.

Expect nothing positive unless and until evidence proves otherwise.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

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

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President-elect Donald Trump has selected retired Marine General James Mattis to exercise civilian control over the Department of Defense. Originally known as the Department of War, it was renamed Department of Defense in 1949. But war is precisely what Mattis, known as “Mad Dog,” has enthusiastically done throughout his career.

In 2005, Mattis declared, “It’s fun to shoot some people.” That was one year after he oversaw the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq, which began in April 2004, after four Blackwater Security Consulting mercenaries were killed and their bodies mutilated. In retaliation, US forces attacked the city and killed 736 people. At least 60 percent of them were women and children, according to independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who interviewed doctors at Fallujah General Hospital and at other small clinics inside the city both during and after the April siege.

In November 2004 NBC News correspondent Kevin Sites, embedded with the US Marines, heard Staff Sgt. Sam Mortimer radio that “everything to the west is weapons free.” Weapons Free, explained Sites, “means the Marines can shoot whatever they see — it’s all considered hostile.” The rules of engagement come from the top, and Mattis was in charge.

Gen. James Mattis at his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, July 27, 2010. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Mattis as his pick for secretary of defense. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times)

Gen. James Mattis at his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, July 27, 2010. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Mattis as his pick for secretary of defense. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times)

Collective punishment against an occupied population constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Yet, according to the Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the US attack on Fallujah in November 2004 killed between 4,000 and 6,000 civilians. Targeting civilians is a war crime.

Mattis’ enthusiasm for battle may lead us into a war with Iran. A vigorous critic of the nuclear deal with Iran, Mattis said in an April 2016 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the Iranian regime is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” He added, however, “there’s no going back” on the deal and it would be an issue for the next president.

CIA Director John Brennan recently warned of the dangers of canceling the Iran deal, saying it would be “disastrous” and “the height of folly.” In a BBC interview, Brennan explained that dismantling the deal would set off an arms race in the Middle East and embolden the hard-liners in the Iranian government.

To his credit, Mattis has been clear-eyed about blowback from US policy on Israel. He noted the United States is paying a “security price” in the Middle East because the US is considered biased in favor of Israel, and Israel is in danger of becoming an “apartheid” state.

“I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel,” Mattis said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado in 2013, adding that this perception undercuts support from “all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians.”

Mattis criticized Israel for building settlements in the occupied West Bank, saying they “are going to make it impossible to maintain the two-state option.” He added that the settlements might weaken Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state and could lead to apartheid.

“If I’m in Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid,” Mattis said.

Also to his credit, Mattis opposes torture — because it doesn’t work. During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to reinstitute waterboarding, saying he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” because suspected terrorists “deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing.”

Waterboarding has long been considered torture, which is a war crime. Indeed, after World War II, the United States tried, convicted and hanged Japanese military leaders for waterboarding.

Trump may have changed his mind about torture after conferring with Mattis. Trump told The New York Times that when he asked Mattis what the general thought of waterboarding, Mattis replied, “I’ve never found it to be useful. I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.” Trump said he was “very impressed by that answer. I was surprised, because [Mattis is] known as being like the toughest guy.”

Indeed, former high-level FBI interrogators, including Ali Soufan and Dan Coleman, maintain that a person being tortured will say anything to get the torture to stop — even providing false information. The best results, interrogators add, are obtained with humane methods.

Moreover, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded, “the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.”

“If there’s any concern at all [about Mattis], it’s the principle of civilian control over the military. This role was never intended to be a kind of Joint Chiefs of Staff on steroids, and that’s the biggest single risk tied to Mattis,” a former senior Pentagon official told The Washington Post. The framers of the Constitution were wary of putting the military in charge of making foreign policy, which explicitly resides in the executive branch; that is, the president as commander-in-chief and his secretary of defense.

Trump has also chosen notorious hawks Michael Flynn for National Security Advisor and Mike Pompeo for CIA Director.

But the president-elect has stated, “We will use military force only in cases of vital necessity to the national security of the United States. We will put an end to attempts of imposing democracy and overthrowing regimes abroad, as well as involving ourselves in situations in which we have no right to intervene.”

Let’s hope Trump can maintain that position in the face of inevitable militaristic advice from Mattis, Flynn and Pompeo. Trump frequently makes contradictory statements about foreign policy. During the campaign, he insisted that he opposed the Iraq War and Libya regime change, when in fact he supported both. In fact, Trump called for all US troops in the Middle East to overthrow Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi.

It is our challenge to hold Trump’s feet to the fire in every way we can — speaking out, writing, demonstrating, and pressuring Congress and the White House. We cannot relent in demanding peace.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and on the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Visit her website: MarjorieCohn.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MarjorieCohn

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Park Geun-hye, who faced imminent impeachment at the start of this week, blindsided opposition parties on Tuesday with what appeared to be an offer of resignation. And with this game-changing move, she has effectively put off impeachment and may even avoid it all together.

Here’s how it all went down-

Opposition parties drew up a motion for impeachment this week. They need a two-thirds majority for the motion to pass the National Assembly – which means they need at least twenty-eight members of the conservative Saenuri party to vote with them. And earlier in the week, it was looking like they had those twenty-eight votes in the bag due to an internal split within the Saenuri Party.

(The Saenuri Party is split between the pro-Park and anti-Park factions. The anti-Park faction, with the support of the conservative media, spent the past month trying to distance itself from the crisis-ridden president and calling on the leadership of the Saenuri party to step down. It intended to dissolve the party and reorganize and rebrand itself as a new conservative party in time for the next presidential election. In order to do so, however, it needs to buy time, and the impeachment process, which requires a Constitutional Court ruling that can take up to six months, seemed its best option.)

Park Outmaneuvers Opposition; Protests Amp up Call for Immediate Ouster

So it looked as though the anti-Park faction in the Saenuri party would go along with the opposition parties’ motion for impeachment, which the opposition was planning on presenting for a vote on Friday.

But that plan fell apart when Park broke weeks of silence on Tuesday to lob a monkey wrench in the process. She announced that she would be willing to step down before the end of her term if the National Assembly can ensure a “stable transfer of power” in accordance with “legal procedures.”

Park Geun-hye during her third address to the South Korean public since the eruption of the corruption scandal; Photo - getty images Korea

After Park’s announcement, the anti-Park forces in the Saenuri party had a sudden change of heart. They proposed to postpone the impeachment vote until December 9 to see if all parties can come to an agreement for a “stable transfer of power.” Meanwhile, the pro-Park forces have proposed a timeline of April 2017 for Park’s resignation, followed by a new election in June 2017.

So for now, Park remains in the Blue House. And if the opposition parties are unable to secure a two-thirds majority by December 9, impeachment, which had seemed a foregone conclusion just a few days ago, may become out of reach.

Embedded in Park’s announcement was an even more cunning ploy. Technically, Park’s public offer on Tuesday was not to “resign,” but to step down after a “reduced term” in accordance with “legal procedures.” Reducing the president’s term requires a constitutional amendment, which has been on the Saenuri party wish list for some time.

Without a viable presidential contender, the Saenuri party has been wanting to overhaul the country’s political system into a parliamentary system, which would relegate the president to a largely ceremonial role and empower the federal legislature to choose a prime minister, who would act as the government head. The Saenuri party, confident that it can eventually lure members of the centrist People’s Party into an alliance to gain the upper hand in the legislature, believes changing to a parliamentary system is its best bet to secure its ruling power long term. And discussion of legal procedures for reducing her term, as Park suggests, would open the door for the Saenuri party to propose the constitutional amendment and system overhaul it had been wanting to pursue all along.

A well-played hand by Park.

December 3, 2016 - 1.6 million South Koreans take to streets in Seoul to demand Park's ouster; Photo - Voice of People
December 3, 2016 - Sixth consecutive weekly mass demonstration - citizens have stepped up their demands and symbollically showing the growth of their candlelights to torches; Photo - Voice of People

But the wild card that Park, or her puppeteer, hasn’t yet accounted for is the power of the mass protests on the streets. This week’s events have fueled even more public anger and brought out 2.12 million people in protests across the country today in the sixth consecutive week of protests. South Korean media report 200,000 in Busan, 100,000 in Gwangju, 50,000 in Daejeon, 10,000 in Jeju, 12,000 in South Jeolla, 15,000 in Jeonju, 15,000 in Ulsan, 4000 in Sejong and 1.6 million in Seoul. Some held up images of Park Geun-hye in handcuffs and prison garb.

If the opposition parties’ gamble on impeachment fails on December 9, the line in the sand will only become clearer. It may finally consolidate the opposition around the people’s demands, which are–Park’s immediate resignation, investigation of the president for her involvement in the corruption scandal, and the dissolution of the Saenuri party.

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Eric Zuesse has brought to our attention that US intelligence officials have placed a story in Buzzfeed, “a Democratic party mouthpiece,” that the Russian government used fake news to get Donald Trump elected president. 

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/12/63755.html 

According to Buzzfeed:

US intelligence officials believe Russia helped disseminate fake and propagandized news as part of a broader effort to influence and undermine the presidential election, two US intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News.

‘They’re doing this continuously, that’s a known fact,’ one US intelligence official said, requesting anonymity to discuss the sensitive national security issue.

‘This is beyond propaganda, that’s my understanding,’ the second US intelligence official said. The official said they believed those efforts likely included the dissemination of completely fake news stories. …

One intelligence official said, ‘In the context, did Russia attempt to influence the US elections; the aperture is as wide as it can possibly be.’” ‘The real unanswered question is, why did they do it?’ the second US intelligence official said. ‘Is it because they love Donald Trump? Because they hated Hillary Clinton? Or just because they like undermining Western democracies?’

Who are these US intelligence officials who are portraying the president-elect of the United States to be a “Putin stooge, a tool of Russia”?

Once in office, Trump must investigate these hostile elements in US intelligence who are working to discredit the US president and the American people who voted him into office.

As one reader pointed out, those who debunk “conspiracy theories,” that is, explanations that they do not like, now have a conspiracy theory of their own: Vladimir Putin used independent American websites to elect Trump with fake news. Only voters living in a few large coastal cities were immune to the fake news.

In other words, the presstitute media has lost control over Americans’ minds to Putin.

With an opponent this powerful, neoconservatives better think a dozen times before fomenting any more tension with the Kremlin.

Open the link above to Zeusse’s column and look at the cover of Time magazine.

This cover delegitimizes the presidential election. Which US intelligence agency planted this cover on Time? President Trump must have the Secret Service investigate this attack from inside the US government on the US President. Congress, both House and Senate, should immediately summon Time magazine to hearings under oath. This interference by US intelligence in American political life is illegal. Those responsible must be discovered, indicted, convicted, and sentenced. Otherwise fake news will displace facts as Americans are wrapped in a Matrix inside a Matrix.

Three hundred and ninety opponents of the US Constitution, who sit in the US House of Representatives, just passed a bill that voids the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-02/house-quietly-passes-bill-targeting-russian-propaganda-websites

Title V of the bill establishes an interagency executive branch committee “to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence.” Russian manipulation of US media (a routine practice of the US government) to spread disinformation (fake news) is one of the “active measures by Russia” to be countered. In other words, websites that do not participate in the demonization of Russia and President Putin will be subjected to McCarthyite suspicions and accusations. Countering is an open-ended activity that easily extends to enforcement actions against suspected parties.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr6393/text

If this bill becomes law, it can be used to discredit and destroy truthtellers as agents of foreign intelligence. In other words, the message is: if you dispute our lies you are a foreign agent and subject to arrest or elimination.

This is the state of democracy in America today. More than any other country, the United States needs to be liberated. Can Trump do it?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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China Is Laughing At Trump’s Twitter Feed

December 4th, 2016 by Mitchell Blatt

Donald Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s Republic of China president Tsai Ying-wen upended 37 years of precedent in U.S. foreign policy and potentially raised tensions with China, but his tweets afterwards didn’t help matters.

Since the phone call made the news, Trump tweeted, “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME” in an attempt to deflect some of the responsibility, and then added, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.” (Taiwan’s government said that both sides agreed to the call ahead of time and agreed that Tsai would formally initiate the call, according to the Straits Times.)

What these tweets show is Trump is ignorant of world affairs and doesn’t give much consideration to how his words could affect foreign relations. Does he not know the rest of the world can read his Twitter feed, too? More likely he just doesn’t care.

Since 1979, the U.S. has had diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. China demands that any country with whom they have diplomatic relations not recognize Taiwan as an independent country. While America continues to have under-the-table relations with Taiwan, America doesn’t openly recognize Taiwan as a country and doesn’t have an official embassy on the island. (The American Institute in Taiwan, technically a non-profit organization, serves the functions of an embassy.)

To call Tsai the President of Taiwan is taken by many in China as to imply that Taiwan is a sovereign nation.

Next he tweeted about the fact that America sells weapons to Taiwan. (He could have also mentioned the fact that his company is trying to develop hotels in Taiwan.)

Of course everyone knows that Taiwan has a de facto president and that America sells them weapons–he’s not sharing confidential information. But such comments and actions could unnecessarily provoke China. He could start a conflict through his own ignorance.

Moreover, the DPP, which supports greater autonomy from China and pushes for formal recognition of independence, could use Trump’s ignorance to push for its own agenda. A DPP legislator praised the call as a breakthrough in the Straits Times.

His tweets were widely shared on China’s Weibo microblog:img_8004
Wang Jingyu, a professor of law at the National University of Singapore, remarked about how Trump called Tsai the “President of Taiwan” and said there was a risk of provocation. “How can the people in China who welcomed Trump taking office console themselves?”img_8008

To that effect, another Weibo user said, “Chinese Trumpsters, be careful what you wish for!”

There was a narrative in China that Trump, due to his calls to stay out of foreign interventions and threats to withdraw from Korea and Japan, would be better for China than “warmongering” Hillary Clinton. Now one can see that complete ignorance of the world can be more dangerous than cold-hearted pursuit of a nation’s national interests.img_8009

Thomas Chen, a news editor for Sina, wrote that Trump’s comments about weapons were “very funny!”

Wei Peng wrote, “Trump must be receiving widespread criticism from America’s diplomatic circle.”

Mitchell Blatt moved to China in 2012, and since then he has traveled and written about politics and culture throughout Asia. A writer and journalist, based in China, he is the lead author of Panda Guides Hong Kong guidebook and a contributor to outlets including The FederalistChina.org.cn, The Daily Caller, and Vagabond Journey. Fluent in Chinese, he has lived and traveled in Asia for three years, blogging about his travels at ChinaTravelWriter.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @MitchBlatt.

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URGENT ACTION ALERT

On November 30th, the House passed HR 34, a 996-page bill, known as the 21st Century Cures Act. They are now rushing to get it introduced and passed by the Senate on Monday, December 5th, at 5:30 EST. This bill must be defeated because it contains some very dangerous provisions relating to psychiatric treatments.  This is an urgent call to action as we must let our Senators know that they need to oppose it.  We have less than 72-hours to do this.

Talking Points on Why This Bill Must Be Opposed:

  •  It drastically broadens the criteria for who qualifies for forced psychiatric treatment.  For example, if you are labeled mentally ill, you can be court-ordered for psychiatric treatment just because you are “substantially unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment.”  All states already have their own laws regarding involuntary treatment and so there is no need for Federal legislation, especially with such dangerously broad language.
  • It undermines FDA regulations that are essential for making sure medical and drug research is conducted ethically, scientifically and safely.  Meaning it could cost lives.
  • Additionally, this 996-page bill is being fast-tracked through as it is being introduced with no time for the Senators to fully study and understand the broad implications of it.

If you live in the United States, we need you to do the following, very simple actions-it will take you less than 10 minutes:

  1. Find your Senators (you have TWO) at the end of this e-mail. They are listed alphabetically by state.
  2. Call the listed numbers and, using any or all of the above talking points, tell them you want to urge the Senator to vote NO on HR 34. Note: Calls are the most effective way to make your voice heard.
  3. Click on the contact link for each of your TWO senators. This brings you to a form to fill out which you follow the steps to email your message that you want them to vote NO on HR 34.
  4. Forward this e-mail to ALL family members, friends, or colleagues that live in the United States and urge them to do the same.

Please make your calls and send your e-mails right away, then e-mail us back to let us know you have done so.

Sincerely,

Carla Moxon

Director of Public Activities

CCHR International

www.cchrint.org

800-869-2247

List of U.S. Senators, in Order by State:

Murkowski, Lisa – (R – AK)709 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6665

Contact: www.murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Sullivan, Daniel – (R – AK)

702 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3004

Contact: www.sullivan.senate.gov/contact/email

 

Sessions, Jeff – (R – AL)

326 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4124

Contact: www.sessions.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff

 

Shelby, Richard C. – (R – AL)

304 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5744

Contact: www.shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailsenatorshelby

 

Boozman, John – (R – AR)

141 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4843

Contact: www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Cotton, Tom – (R – AR)

124 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2353

Contact: www.cotton.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Flake, Jeff – (R – AZ)

413 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4521

Contact: www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff

 

McCain, John – (R – AZ)

218 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2235

Contact: www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

 

Boxer, Barbara – (D – CA)

112 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3553

Contact: www.boxer.senate.gov/?p=shareyourviews

 

Feinstein, Dianne – (D – CA)

331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3841

Contact: www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

 

Bennet, Michael F. – (D – CO)

261 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5852

Contact: www.bennet.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Gardner, Cory – (R – CO)

354 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5941

Contact: www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory

 

Blumenthal, Richard – (D – CT)

706 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2823

Contact: www.blumenthal.senate.gov/contact/

 

Murphy, Christopher – (D – CT)

136 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4041

Contact: www.murphy.senate.gov/contact

 

Carper, Thomas R. – (D – DE)

513 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2441

Contact: www.carper.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-carper

 

Coons, Christopher A. – (D – DE)

127A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5042

Contact: www.coons.senate.gov/contact

 

Nelson, Bill – (D – FL)

716 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5274

Contact: www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill

 

Rubio, Marco – (R – FL)

284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3041

Contact: www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Isakson, Johnny – (R – GA)

131 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3643

Contact: www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

 

Perdue, David – (R – GA)

383 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3521

Contact: www.perdue.senate.gov/connect/email

 

Hirono, Mazie K. – (D – HI)

330 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6361

Contact: www.hirono.senate.gov/contact

 

Schatz, Brian – (D – HI)

722 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3934

Contact: www.schatz.senate.gov/contact

 

Ernst, Joni – (R – IA)

111 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3254

Contact: www.ernst.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Grassley, Chuck – (R – IA)

135 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3744

Contact: www.grassley.senate.gov/contact

 

Crapo, Mike – (R – ID)

239 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6142

Contact: www.crapo.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm

 

Risch, James E. – (R – ID)

483 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2752

Contact: www.risch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email

 

Durbin, Richard J. – (D – IL)

711 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2152

Contact: www.durbin.senate.gov/contact/

 

Kirk, Mark – (R – IL)

524 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2854

Contact: www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Coats, Daniel – (R – IN)

493 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5623

Contact: www.coats.senate.gov/contact/

 

Donnelly, Joe – (D – IN)

720 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4814

Contact: www.donnelly.senate.gov/contact/email-joe

 

Moran, Jerry – (R – KS)

521 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6521

Contact: www.moran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-jerry

 

Roberts, Pat – (R – KS)

109 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4774

Contact: www.roberts.senate.gov/public/?p=EmailPat

 

McConnell, Mitch – (R – KY)

317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2541

Contact: www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=contact

 

Paul, Rand – (R – KY)

167 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4343

Contact: www.paul.senate.gov/connect/email-rand

 

Cassidy, Bill – (R – LA)

703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5824

Contact: www.cassidy.senate.gov/contact

 

Vitter, David – (R – LA)

516 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4623

Contact: www.vitter.senate.gov/contact

 

Markey, Edward J. – (D – MA)

255 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2742

Contact: www.markey.senate.gov/contact

 

Warren, Elizabeth – (D – MA)

317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4543

Contact: www.warren.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

 

Cardin, Benjamin L. – (D – MD)

509 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4524

Contact: www.cardin.senate.gov/contact/

 

Mikulski, Barbara A. – (D – MD)

503 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4654

Contact: www.mikulski.senate.gov/contact/

 

Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME)

413 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2523

Contact: www.collins.senate.gov/contact

 

King, Angus S., Jr. – (I – ME)

133 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5344

Contact: www.king.senate.gov/contact

 

Peters, Gary C. – (D – MI)

724 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6221

Contact: www.peters.senate.gov/contact/email-gary

 

Stabenow, Debbie – (D – MI)

731 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4822

Contact: www.stabenow.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Franken, Al – (D – MN)

309 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5641

Contact: www.franken.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Klobuchar, Amy – (D – MN)

302 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3244

Contact: www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/contact-amy

 

Blunt, Roy – (R – MO)

260 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5721

Contact: www.blunt.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-roy

 

McCaskill, Claire – (D – MO)

730 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6154

Contact: www.mccaskill.senate.gov/contact

 

Cochran, Thad – (R – MS)

113 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5054

Contact: www.cochran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

 

Wicker, Roger F. – (R – MS)

555 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6253

Contact: www.wicker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Daines, Steve – (R – MT)

320 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2651

Contact: www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve

 

Tester, Jon – (D – MT)

311 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2644

Contact: www.tester.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

 

Burr, Richard – (R – NC)

217 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3154

Contact: www.burr.senate.gov/contact/email

 

Tillis, Thom – (R – NC)

185 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6342

Contact: www.tillis.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

 

Heitkamp, Heidi – (D – ND)

110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2043

Contact: www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Hoeven, John – (R – ND)

338 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2551

Contact: www.hoeven.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-the-senator

 

Fischer, Deb – (R – NE)

454 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6551

Contact: www.fischer.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Sasse, Ben – (R – NE)

386A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4224

Contact: www.sasse.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-ben

 

Ayotte, Kelly – (R – NH)

144 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3324

Contact: www.ayotte.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Shaheen, Jeanne – (D – NH)

506 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2841

Contact: www.shaheen.senate.gov/contact/

 

Booker, Cory A. – (D – NJ)

359 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3224

Contact: www.booker.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Menendez, Robert – (D – NJ)

528 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4744

Contact: www.menendez.senate.gov/contact

 

Heinrich, Martin – (D – NM)

303 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5521

Contact: www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact

 

Udall, Tom – (D – NM)

531 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6621

Contact: www.tomudall.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Heller, Dean – (R – NV)

324 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6244

Contact: www.heller.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

 

Reid, Harry – (D – NV)

522 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3542

Contact: www.reid.senate.gov/contact

 

Gillibrand, Kirsten E. – (D – NY)

478 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4451

Contact: www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/

 

Schumer, Charles E. – (D – NY)

322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6542

Contact: www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck

 

Brown, Sherrod – (D – OH)

713 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2315

Contact: www.brown.senate.gov/contact/

 

Portman, Rob – (R – OH)

448 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3353

Contact: www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=contact...

 

Inhofe, James M. – (R – OK)

205 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4721

Contact: www.inhofe.senate.gov/contact

 

Lankford, James – (R – OK)

316 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5754

Contact: www.lankford.senate.gov/contact/email

 

Merkley, Jeff – (D – OR)

313 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3753

Contact: www.merkley.senate.gov/contact/

 

Wyden, Ron – (D – OR)

221 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5244

Contact: www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/

 

Casey, Robert P., Jr. – (D – PA)

393 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6324

Contact: www.casey.senate.gov/contact/

 

Toomey, Patrick J. – (R – PA)

248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4254

Contact: www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Reed, Jack – (D – RI)

728 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4642

Contact: www.reed.senate.gov/contact/

 

Whitehouse, Sheldon – (D – RI)

530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2921

Contact: www.whitehouse.senate.gov/contact/

 

Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC)

290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5972

Contact: www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-senator-gr.

 

Scott, Tim – (R – SC)

520 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6121

Contact: www.scott.senate.gov/contact/email-me

 

Rounds, Mike – (R – SD)

502 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5842

Contact: www.rounds.senate.gov/contact/email-mike

 

Thune, John – (R – SD)

511 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2321

Contact: www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)

455 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4944

Contact: www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email

 

Corker, Bob – (R – TN)

425 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3344

Contact: www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailme

 

Cornyn, John – (R – TX)

517 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2934

Contact: www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact

 

Cruz, Ted – (R – TX)

404 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5922

Contact: www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

 

Hatch, Orrin G. – (R – UT)

104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5251

Contact: www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=Email-Orrin

 

Lee, Mike – (R – UT)

361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5444

Contact: www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Kaine, Tim – (D – VA)

231 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4024

Contact: www.kaine.senate.gov/contact

 

Warner, Mark R. – (D – VA)

475 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2023

Contact: www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact

 

Leahy, Patrick J. – (D – VT)

437 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4242

Contact: www.leahy.senate.gov/contact/

 

Sanders, Bernard – (I – VT)

332 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

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Cantwell, Maria – (D – WA)

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Murray, Patty – (D – WA)

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Baldwin, Tammy – (D – WI)

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Johnson, Ron – (R – WI)

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Capito, Shelley Moore – (R – WV)

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Manchin, Joe, III – (D – WV)

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Barrasso, John – (R – WY)

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Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)

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The first part of the research on the Horn of Africa described the regional state-to-state political dynamics, and now it’s time to delve into each country more in depth in order to acquire a heightened sense of their strategic positions. This will enable the final section about the Hybrid War vulnerabilities in the region to be more understandable to the reader, since a few of the scenarios admittedly require some detailed background information in order to properly comprehend the manner in which the US intends to effectively apply them. 

Somalia

Overview:

This civil war-torn country appears to have passed the crest of its over two-decade-long crisis and is finally on the road to recovery, although it will likely be a prolonged and sinewy one that might take a few more decades to fully play out. At this stage, Mogadishu is struggling to assert its authority throughout the rest of the country, and herein lays the major hindrance to any effective reconstruction efforts. Somalia has been bloodily divided into a handful of warlord-ruled territories, neither of which really wants to cede their hard-fought sovereignty to the other, let alone to a central authority responsible for everyone. As a means of attempting to adapt to this reality, Somalia implemented a federal system in 2012, although it had transitional plans to do so ever since 2004.

Despite the US officially recognizing the Mogadishu authorities in 2013, it’s practically impossible to speak about a “national” government and likely will remain so for the indefinite future. The official military does not have the capacity nor the international support to simultaneously combat Al Shabaab terrorists (which have proved to be a very formidable and internationally destabilizing threat) and ‘federal warlords’, and the obviously pressing priority has thus fallen towards fighting the former. More than likely, Somalia will never return to the cohesive political unit that it once was prior to 1991, and this is a geopolitical reality that the federal government, its various warlord principalities, and the international community appear ready to accept and deal with. For as many challenges as it opens up, there are also a few opportunities for self-interested and ambitious actors to exploit.

somalia-01-jpg

Institutionalized Warlordism:

The major domestic factor that defines Somalia’s geopolitical future is its implementation of federalism, which in its particular context amounts to Institutionalized Warlordism throughout the country. There was no feasible way that the Mogadishu government was going to reassert control over the rest of the country ever again, and the rise of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) proved how radical non-state actors could actually become stronger than their host governments. In many ways, the rise of the ICU preceded the rise of Daesh, and it’s certainly appropriate to look at the two as being strategically and even tactically linked to one another in the grand sense. Separate from the rise of the ICU has been the autonomous and self-proclaimed independent statelet of Somaliland and its autonomous but non-separatist counterpart of Puntland, both of which the capital has had the highest degree of difficulty exerting its authority over. Whereas Puntland is still loyal to the Somali state, Somaliland endeavors to become its own separate country, and it already de-facto behaves as such. The other regions of Galmudug, the South West State, and Jubaland are more under the influence of Mogadishu than the aforementioned two, but the federal capital still does not have full and total sovereignty over their entire territory and all of its activities.

It must be qualified at this point that the regions which were just described are formed from some of the 18 separate legally recognized provinces within the country, and that while Somalia isn’t formally divided into a handful of different federal regions, the on-the-ground reality holds that this is the case and will likely remain to be so. Therefore, when discussing what the author has termed to be Institutionalized Warlordism, it’s important to remember that the regional constructs being referred to are not formally recognized by the 2012 Constitution but instead reflect the trans-provincial realities of Identity Federalism’s implementation to Somalia’s clan- and warlord-based realities.

Here’s an approximate map of the de-facto regional breakdown:

af16

* Red: Somaliland
* Yellow: Puntland
* Red and Yellow Hashes: Disputed territory between Somaliand and Puntland, mostly controlled by the former at the moment
* Green: Galmudug
* Blank: Mogadishu and its surroundings
* Blue: South West State
* Purple: Jubaland

As can be gathered from the above, Somaliland and Puntland are critically important for controlling the Sea of Aden and the entranceway to the Bab-el-Mandeb that connects to the Red Sea. This explains why the UAE is purportedly building a naval facility in Somaliland, which is a lot more developed, stable, and independent than Puntland (which is where most of the notorious pirates from the last decade came from). The territorial dispute between these two statelets doesn’t seem poised to escalate into a large conflict, although if Puntland’s former president is successful in his bid for the national presidency, then he might obviously cut a deal with Mogadishu and  perhaps even the international community (as represented most directly by the African Union forces in Somalia, AMISOM) to gain their support in making a militant move to settle this dispute once and for all under the pretense of promoting national unity and tackling secessionism. This would probably devolve into another phase of the country’s civil war and pull it back from the relative internal political successes that it’s made over the past decade.

In the more immediate future, however, Somalialand is expected to remain fiercely independent and will not unnecessarily cede any of its de-facto sovereignty to Mogadishu unless it gained (or thought it could gain) a lot more benefit than it believably loses by agreeing to this. Establishing that Somaliland is for all intents and purposes a de-facto yet unrecognized independent state and will continue to be treated as such by various self-interested actors such as the UAE, it’s appropriate to also talk about the other spheres of foreign influence that are popping up throughout Somalia and how they relate to the larger international dynamics of the Horn of Africa region. Jubaland, the purple-shaded territory along the country’s southwestern border, is the slice of Somalia that the East African state of Kenya unilaterally treats as its own, occasionally sending military forces and conducting airstrikes there to battle Al Shabaab. The forthcoming section about East Africa and which relates to that country in particular will explain the fear that Kenya has of Somali Nationalism and Al Shabaab, but for now it’s enough to just know that Nairobi envisions Jubaland as being its exclusive sphere of influence and one day operating as a buffer state in insulating the country from the rest of Somalia’s destabilizing woes.

As for the others, it remains to be seen exactly under which foreign powers’ purvey they will fall, but it’s reasonable to assert that Ethiopia will always have an interest in their activities. Looking back at the 2006 anti-terrorist intervention against the ICU, Ethiopia entered the country through the regions that are now generally identified as Galmudug, Mogadishu, and the South West State, thus underlining just how important Addis Ababa views these territories as its most preferred access route for directly influencing Somalian domestic events. It’s anticipated that this geopolitical reality will remain constant, although it’s unclear to what extent Ethiopia will be able to influence these regions in the future and whether or not it will ever stage another anti-terrorist intervention there. The latter scenario is only relevant if Al Shabaab launches a Daesh-like cross-border invasion aimed at establishing a terrorist ‘caliphate’ or if it stages some similar sort of provocation within the broad Somali Region (previously known as Ogaden). Should this transpire, then Ethiopia might end up repeating its 2006 operation and subsequently also occupying parts of the country for the proceeding next couple of years. This, however, is dependent on the military’s sustainable capabilities, and a domestic crisis such as a (preplanned and timed) separatist struggle against Oromo nationalists might force it to hasten an early withdrawal and concentrate more on responding to its most immediate and purely domestic threats.

To summarize, the implementation of Identity Federalism within Somalia’s specific domestic context and under its socio-political conditions has in effect institutionalized the warlordism that has been prevalent in the country for decades, and while this creates obvious challenges for the Mogadishu federal authorities, it also brings with it certain ‘opportunities’ for foreign states in most definitively carving out their envisioned spheres of influence. This state of affairs is most ‘mutually’ visible in the de-facto independent statelet of Somaliland, but it can also occur in any of the others, especially if a forthcoming domestic political crisis leads to them similarly cutting their established ties with Mogadishu and employing their respective militias in bloodily carving out a more ‘sovereign’ fiefdom within their territories. Also, the spheres of influence that were referred to might not always be ‘mutually’ agreed upon by the envisioned host region and their foreign ‘partner’, since as in the case of Kenya over Jubaland and Ethipia over Galmudug, Mogadishu, and the South West State, unilateral foreign action might be imposed out of furtherance of each intervening state’s subjectively defined self-interests.

The Scramble For Somalia:

This domestic geopolitical reality directly coincides with the abovementioned details about Institutionalized Warlordism, but deserves to be mentioned as its own separate domestic vulnerability and strategic factor owing to its large-scale importance. The UAE and possibly its fellow GCC partners are militarily involving themselves in Somliland, Ethiopia has a history of intervention and prolonged militarily presence in Galmudug, Mogadishu, and the South West State, and Kenya occasionally involves itself in Jubaland, which altogether proves that foreign countries are scrambling to delineate their interests in a centrally weak and broadly autonomous Somalia. That’s not all, however, since Turkey, like it was mentioned in Part I, is interested in setting up a military base inside the country too, albeit focusing on the Mogadishu Region. This would make it the second non-African state to have an indefinite military presence in the country, although of course the US’ secret drone bases mustn’t be forgotten as well. On top of all of this, the African Union (AU) maintains military facilities within the country as well, and it’s through the framework of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that countries such as Burundi and Uganda have legally deployed their respective forces.

Scaling down the focus and moving from state to non-state actors, it’s worthwhile to once more bring up Eritrea’s UNSC-suspected role in supporting Al Shabaab terrorists and the link that this group has with Qatar. Addressing Asmara, it follows that it used (and perhaps still uses) this organization as part of its region-wide proxy war against Addis Ababa, while Doha sees in it a proxy army that could advance its respective ideological and geopolitical aims.

Again, there is no smoking gun that links either of these two countries to Al Shabaab without a sliver of reasonable doubt,  but the existing arguments and provided evidence are convincingly enough to presume that some sort of connection between them did and likely still exists to a certain extent. From here, the analysis can thus proceed to the incorporation of non-state actors as agents of certain states’ geopolitical faculty, which thereby returns the focus to the regional federalized statelets and the interaction that states have with them and their respective militias (whether friendly such as the UAE and Somaliland or hostile such as during Kenya’s incursions into Jubaland). In accordance with the tenets of Identity Federalism that the author has written about before and periodically cited throughout the book, it’s expected that foreign states will intensify their state-to-non-state diplomatic interactions within Identity Federalized countries such as Somalia, and given the examined country’s geopolitical significance to global politics, it’s assumed that this will accelerate in the near and medium terms and usher in a competitive Scramble for Somalia.

Renegades:

The last driving issue in determining Somalia’s domestic stability is the role of Al Shabaab, which the author describes as a renegade terrorist group that disturbingly poses a latent regional threat on par with Daesh. The term “renegade” is applied towards the organization because it contravenes all established international norms and practices and is used by its two suspected partners of Eritrea and Qatar to destabilize the region in an unconventional way. Al Shabaab, just like Daesh, could one day turn on its previous partners and completely “go rogue” in becoming an uncontrollable source of trouble for every affected actor, be they its victims or former patrons. The interfusion of “Greater Somalia” nationalism, anti-Ethiopian sentiment (which could broadly be manipulated under the inclusive banner of “anti-imperialism”), and Wahhabi jihadism makes the group’s message attractive to misguided youth and mono-issue individuals who prioritize any of these three platforms above the rest of their life’s ideals. If Al Shabaab effectively harnesses the groundswell of support that it could possibly cull by exploiting each of these three unifying ideologies individually and then gathering them under the collective umbrella of their organization, then the terrorist group might receive a boost of support among some key constituencies and quickly rise to the level of strength that its ICU predecessor once wielded.

The renegade terrorist group would certainly succeed in prompting one, if not several, military interventions if it succeeds in gaining more prominence and power. For starters, Ethiopia would almost certainly intervene to a limited or all-out extent in order to prevent its Somali Region (formerly called Ogaden) from falling victim to the ideological contagion being spread by Al Shabaab. Kenya, too, would be compelled to do something similar vis-à-vis Jubaland, both to protect its own interests and also out of the regional leadership competition that’s playing out between it and Ethiopia.

Nairobi would not want to strategically ‘cede’ any square inch of its envisioned sphere of influence in southwestern Somalia to Ethiopia, the latter of which might broaden any forthcoming intervention to include that area as well. The African Union would likely get involved too, although its inner political mechanisms might prevent it from taking as immediate and resolute of a decision as either Ethiopia or Kenya, therefore making it the third most likely participant to directly militarily intervene, or in the case that it’s still present in the country at the time of this scenario (which is all but assured), beef up its forces prior to a robust offensive campaign. It can also be assumed that the US would play a Lead From Behind role via selected air/drone strikes, special forces incursions, and a strategic advisory to one, some, or all of the intervening militaries.

Considering all of the destabilizing “free-for-all” scenario branches that could predictably develop in response to Al Shabaab’s rise in Somalia, it’s fair to say that this terrorist organization represents the ultimate renegade factor in the country and perhaps in all of the Horn of Africa and, by Kenyan extent, to parts of East Africa as well.

Djibouti

Overview:

Tiny Djibouti has grown into one of the most geostrategic and competitively sought-after states in the whole of Africa, and this is entirely the result of its position along the Bab-el-Mandeb and its Chinese-financed railroad connectivity to the expanding Ethiopian economy. Its port facilities allow a handful of its closest military partners to assert their share of influence in behaving as the maritime ‘gatekeepers’ to Europe alongside of course Egypt and its control over the two Suez Canals.

djibouti-01

The flurry of diplomatic-military attention that’s been given to Djibouti proves that there’s an active competition underway among various powers for equaling or at least approaching Egypt’s role as it regards the flow of European-Asian goods by way of the Red Sea. On a grand scale, this indicates that the world is cognizant of the dual maritime-mainland nature of China’s One Belt One Road policy, and that while the unipolar actors are frenziedly confronting it and attempting to block the mainland portions along the Russian frontier, they’re also simultaneously trying to do something similar in regards to the maritime one along the Bab-El-Mandab and Djibouti.

It’s not at all forecast that they plan on shutting down the waterway anytime soon, but it’s the potential latent capabilities that the US and its GCC allies are trying to attain (the latter of which were nakedly exposed in the War on Yemen) that signifies a strategic threat to the multipolar world on par with the one that’s posed to the Strait of Malacca and its related interregional connectivity function. For this reason, the concentration of focus on Djibouti is all the more important because this country has become host to so many varied military facilities by a handful of geographically diverse states, heightening the competition that’s been unleashed for advantageous access (and proactive safeguarding potential) to the Bab-el-Mandeb ever since the late-2000s “pirate” scare was used as the grounds for initiating the subsequent international naval scramble.

Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen:

As the saying goes, if there are “too many cooks in the kitchen”, it means that there are too many decision-makers in too small of a given space. This is the case when it comes to the multitude of military actors on the ground in Djibouti, which to review, includes the US, China, France, Japan, and soon Saudi Arabia. It can be understood that the unipolar forces will generally all align their intelligence operations against China, just as China will do against all of them in proactive response, but neither camp is expected to physically harm the other. Instead, Djibouti is turning into a spy haven and a forward operating base for drone, special forces, and other types of non-conventional involvement in the region’s affairs, to say nothing of the employment of conventional naval forces. With the small state being used as a springboard for the promotion of grand regional strategies, it could ironically be said that it is “to small to fail”, or in other words, it is too small of a strategic base for all of the involved powers that none of them can afford to shake its stability and risk undermining their respective self-interested deployment in the country.

Color Revolution Threats:

As is regretfully typical, however, it’s likely only a matter of time that a security dilemma will develop between the US and China, by which the Pentagon’s allies will bandwagon together in devising a plan to protect their military interests at the same time as they devise another one that’s aggressively aimed at undermining China’s. The US’ track record of destabilizations suggests that Djibouti is obviously not immune, despite the US and its allies’ military presences and related superficial interest in retaining general stability there. The driving motivation for the US to undermine the existing government of President Guelleh is to pressure him to either renege on his basing deal with China or replace him with a compliant stooge who will carry out the orders that he refused. Following the documented playbook of Color Revolution strategies, it can thus be expected that the US will soon start to stir up some Hybrid War threats against the government, and in this perspective the December 2015 anti-government riots can be seen as a warning to Guelleh of what might later come if he doesn’t abide by Washington’s wishes.

The blowback potential to this scheme is that Guelleh might end up ejecting their military bases instead of China’s if he is forced to fend off (with Chinese advisory or direct assistance) a serious enough Hybrid War threat to his government. Furthermore, even if the regime change operation succeeds in removing the President, his replacement might not be exactly who they expect it to be, or the selected individual might end up being preemptively swayed by China and thereby strategically neutralized in carrying out any damaging policies against its interests. The unpredictable circumstances that can thus (and as a rule, typically and in a chaotic fashion do) transpire through the unipolar commencement of Hybrid War might end up reversing the hoped-for strategic gains and ironically inflicting damage upon their creators. Djibouti is so important for unipolar strategy that the purposeful destabilization of the country isn’t a scenario that will be considered lightly by the pertinent decision makers who ultimately call the shots on whether or not to carry through with it, but conversely, because it’s also just as important (if not more) for China’s grand strategy, it’s possible that some of them might feel confident enough to initiate this dangerous gambit.

Afar And Somali Nationalism:

The Tripwire

In the advent of a breakdown in state authority, probably triggered by a Color Revolution and latent Hybrid War push by the unipolar Djiboutian-based intelligence units, it’s likely that the country might split into violently bickering identity groups along traditional ethnic-clan lines. Demographicallyspeaking, around 60% of the country is populated by the ethnic-Somali Issa clan, whereas roughly 35% is inhabited by the Afar, a transnational group of people whose territory spreads out across Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia (the latter of which has granted them a geographically broad federal state). It’s also important to note at this point that the former French colony in modern-day Djibouti was called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas in the 1967-1977 period immediately preceding independence, emphasizing the role that both people have played in the country for at least the past half century (if not obviously longer). Tensions between the two sides reached a violent climax in the 1991-1994 Djiboutian Civil War which saw Afar rebels fighting against the Somali-Issa government, but in the end the authorities and their numerically larger ethnic constituents prevailed and ethnic Somali/Issa clansman President Guelleh was elected in 1999.

It’s important to point out that the Afars mostly concentrated their civil war activity in the northern reaches of the country where they’re natively from, and that in today’s current schema, this would place the Ethiopia-Djibouti railroad outside of their area of forecasted operations should a second civil war ever (as unlikely as it may seem at the moment) break out in the future. Considering that the said railroad is the spine of Djibouti’s strategic significance to the African hinterland, it’s accordingly appropriate to consider how it could be geopolitically affected by reactionary (or even proactive) Somali nationalism within an identity-based Hybrid War scenario in Djibouti. As a result of historical-colonial circumstances and the 1977 independence of their own sovereign state, the Issa Somalis have cultivated a separate identity from their Somalian nation state and namesake compatriots, which themselves have been proven after the beginning of the 1991 civil war to be a lot more deeply divided than may have initially met the eye during the Cold War and Siad Barre’s decades-long 1969-1991 administration.

Identity Unity And Disunity

In many respects, Barre functioned as a socially stabilizing force in uniting or at least pacifying the disparate Somali clans just as Gaddafi did in relation to the Libyan tribes, and the forced removal of both leaders had devastating consequences for national unity. It’s uncertain whether Guelleh serves a similar personal function for Djibouti or not, but it’s predicted that domestic disturbances against him could be the trigger needed to once more divide the country along its Afar-Somali/Issa lines which of course have geographic north-south dimensions, respectively. If this somehow opens the presumably dormant Pandora’s Box of Somali Nationalism and revives the idea of “Greater Somalia”, then instead of Djibouti being the recipient of the now-fractured Somalian state’s irredentist ambitions, it could turn out that the tiny country or at least some of its more nationalist grassroots (possibly even unipolar intelligence-influenced) individuals actively push to initiate the expansion or ‘unification’ of Djibouti with Somaliland in order to maximize the proposed state’s geostrategic significance and fulfill their ethno-nationalist desires.

There’s nothing concrete to indicate that this is a topic of popular discussion in Djibouti or Somaliland, but the author takes his cue from the observed experience of “greater” nationalist projects all across the world and their activation amidst periods of domestic identity strife. Also, the presence of so many unipolar military forces in Djibouti might likely also hint that there’s a sizeable NGO (intelligence front) complementary presence as well which could be discretely working to promote this agenda. From the unipolar standpoint, an expanded Djibouti-Somaliland (if the latter agreed to it) would lengthen their strategic presence along the southern passages of the Bab-el-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden, thus joining the Ethiopia-Djibouti railroad, the Port of Djibouti, and the Somaliland port of Berbera together under one de-facto geopolitical unit.

Scenario Branches

Nevertheless, this might incite a counter-reaction from the Afar, which could then agitate for their own independence, unification with the Afar Region of Ethiopia (and thenceforth the destruction of the Djibouti geopolitical unit), or possibly even some form of Identity Federalism within Djibouti in order to retain the extant borders of the unwinding state. If that potentiality turns out to be the case, then the Afar would acquire the sparsely populated and landmine-infested northern reaches of the Gulf of Tadjoura while the Somali-Issas would receive the southern and more populated reaches, with the capital and ethnically mixed city of Djibouti (and all of its military facilities) being a separate political unit in the shade of Old Cold War-style Berlin. In this construction, the Ethiopia-Djibouti railroad terminal would be in the separately administered capital zone while the rest of its path passes through the Somali-Issa region, but it’s a near certainty that the Afar would want to have some sort of profit-sharing agreement with the Somali-Issas in order to financially survive in their resource-lacking northern reaches (which also haven’t been rented out for military bases, at least not yet).

To wrap up the scenario forecasting that was just undertaken by the author, a Color Revolution and/or Hybrid War attempt by the unipolar forces to change the existing Djiboutian government and oust China’s military presence in the country could reopen the ethnic wounds between the Afar and Somali-Issa communities, possibly leading to either the dissolution of the Djiboutian state and its division into “Greater Afar” as a sub-state entity of Ethiopia (but which would for sure be opposed by Eritrea out of its fear of encirclement) and “Greater Somalia” or “Greater Somaliland” or the Identity Federalized internal partitioning between two or three separate entities. In all likelihood, regional and world powers would now allow Djibouti to simply dissolve and be divided between its two largest neighbors because of the effect this could have in upsetting the delicate balance between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and if this specific scenario was advanced, then it would probably lead to a continuation war between the two Horn of Africa rivals.

Al Shabaab Aggression:

The last strategic factor affecting Djibouti is the possibility of attack by Al Shabaab, which might exploit the Muslim Somalian identity of the most vulnerable segments of the pertinent 60% of the population in order to gain militant recruits for carrying out its indirectly anti-Ethiopian assault there. They were already responsible for a May 2014 suicide attack in the capital which prompted the UK Home Office to warn that the terrorists may be planning to target more Western soft targets inside the country.

This precedent proves that Djibouti is on Al Shabaab’s radar and it will probably remain there for as long as the organization is in existence. A Paris- or Mumbai-style all-out assault on the country’s capital city would immediately prompt a state of pandemonium, as each foreign military organization that’s based there scrambles to understand what is going on and devise the most advantageous and self-interested way that they can assist the nation’s security forces in responding to the crisis.

The resultant competition might be fierce and unfriendly, and uncoordinated anti-terrorist measures by the US and China, for example, could even lead to unintended incidence of ‘friendly fire’, further heightening tensions between the two global rivals. Al Shabaab, as always, is the ultimate agent of chaos in the Horn of Africa and it’s impossible to accurately predict within a given certainty just what it will do, the impact it will have, and the domestic, regional, and international responses that it would elicit.

Eritrea

Overview:

The third and last littoral state in the Horn of Africa region, Eritrea is peculiar by all international political standards. Like was discussed earlier in the research, it’s engaged in hostilities or been in heightened tensions with all of its neighbors, which has led to a siege-like mentality among its population that has been readily promoted by the government. For this reason and many others, Eritrea is commonly regarded as a “rogue state” by the international community, which also involves the UNSC. This security organ unanimously implemented sanctions against the country because of what was alleged to be Eritrea’s support of the Al Shabaab terrorist organization. While the sanctions were decried by some alternative media commentators, it’s indisputable that both Russia and China agreed to these measures out of what they felt were justifiable grounds for doing so at the time, and that the personalities criticizing Moscow for its behavior in this regard almost always purposely avoid doing the same thing to Beijing. So as not to sidetrack the research too much into becoming an analytical commentary on the subtle workings of tacit pro-imperial and anti-Russian “alternative” media voices, the author would like to conclusively summarize that the existence of UNSC sanctions as also agreed upon by the multipolar leading states of Russia and China have led to the “rogue state” stigma being applied to Eritrea.

eritrea-01-jpg

The Red Sea state is rich in mineral resources but poor in living standards, and this is both a result of economic-administrative mismanagement and the priority that the state gives to military affairs over civil ones (as seemingly justified due to the siege-like mentality that was earlier touched upon). Eritrea is estimated to spend around 20% of its GPD on military affairs, which obviously eats an enormous hole in the national budget in order to defend against what it views as multi-vectored threats from literally every geographic direction. Partially because of the poor economic conditions inside the country and the large amount of GDP that it’s dedicated to the armed services, the Eritrean government is understandably hurting for cash, which might explain one of the reasons why it turned to the wealthy GCC in collaborating with them in their War on Yemen. For as right or as wrong as commentators may have felt that Eritrea was for its post-independence rogue-like behavior, whether as an expression of destabilizing aggression or resistant multipolar pride, it’s fair to say that by recently cooperating with the GCC, Asmara has unequivocally sided with a pro-American unipolar coalition in order to receive money, fuel, and the possibility of sanctions relief, a halt in the West’s “Weapons of Mass Migration” plot that’s been hatched against it, and possibly Gulf and other investment after positioning itself as a favorable though unspoken partner in this globally infamous campaign.

Near-Permanent State Of War With Ethiopia:

The first primary defining characteristic of Eritrea’s strategic situation is that it has been on near-constant war footing with Ethiopia ever since independence, and that this has come to literally dominate every aspect pertaining to the country. To recall the opening portion of the Horn of Africa research, the Ethiopian-Eritrean Cold War has stretched all throughout the region and is especially a factor in Somalia, which explains Asmara’s suspected cooperation with Al Shabaab. The perceived threat that a continuation war could break out at any moment necessitates Eritrea’s sovereign right to spend so liberally on military affairs and institute a forced and indefinite draft policy for its citizens. This latter decision will be returned to very soon when describing the effect of the West’s “Weapons of Mass Migration” on Eritrea, but as pertaining to the former, the country’s military expenses are not solely used on conventional investments. Instead, a good amount of Asmara’s strategic attention is focused on utilizing asymmetrical elements in offsetting the stability of the Ethiopian government, and this particularly takes the form of hosting a handful of secessionist and anti-government organizations.

The Transnational Tigrayans:

Out of all of the Ethiopian-originated groups that Eritrea supports, perhaps the most strategically affiliated are the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM) which even the UN has accusedAsmara of assisting. While all insurgent organizations are destabilizing to various extents, there exists a certain strategic symbiosis between the Eritrean government and the TPDM, largely stemming from the transnational state of ethnic Tigrayans between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In the Red Sea state, Tigrayans are estimated by the CIA World Factbook to comprise a whopping 55% of the population, while in Ethiopia, where they have their own ethnic-based federal state, the same source lists them as being just 6.1% of the nation’s total, though it should be underscored that this means that there are almost two times as many Tigrayans by number inside of Ethiopia than in Eritrea. Also, the percentage figures don’t properly indicate the inverse importance that Tigrayans have played in recent Ethiopian history because the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was the main driver of the anti-Derg resistance organization at the end of the Ethiopian Civil War and is speculated to be the most important component of the present-day governing Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Interestingly, the TPLF was allied with the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), so essentially what’s happened is that the two civil war allies have broken apart and assumed leadership roles of each of the rival states, adding a further dose of complicating drama to the Ethiopian-Eritrean Cold War. What this means, however, is that the Tigray Region of Ethiopia is seen by Eritrea as an especially vulnerable region owing to the cross-border spread of this ethnic group, but correspondingly, the same could also be said about Eritrea’s Tigrayan-inhabited areas vis-à-vis Ethiopian grand strategy. To add to that, though, it’s thought that the Ethiopian Tigrayans are more loyal to Addis Ababa then they’d ever be to Asmara because they are perceived as gaining a disproportionate advantage from their positions within the ruling EPRDF and are consequently not predicted to turn their backs on the government which benefits so much. However, due to the perception among some critics that the Tigrayans occupy too influential of a position in the EPRDF and the rallying potential that this can have for gathering opposition-minded civilians into anti-government manifestations, it’s also not predicted that Ethiopia at this time and given its presumed internal political leadership’s arrangement would risk launching a war against Eritrea on the stated behalf of creating a sub-state “Greater Tigray” (although this might in fact be the unspoken tangential result of any forthcoming successful war).

No matter how the Tigrayan factor is or isn’t used by either side of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Cold War, it’s inescapable to ignore that it’s one of the most emotionally charged elements between them and will likely continue to occupy an important and symbolic role in their strategic rivalry with one another.

“Weapons of Mass Migration”:

Harvard researcher Kelly M. Greenhill’s groundbreaking 2010 research on “Weapons of Mass Migration” introduced the controversial concept that states were generating, provoking, and exploiting transnational human flows, and considering the documented lessons of what this theory looks like in practice, it can be confidently asserted that contemporary Western policy towards Eritrea applies various facets of this stratagem. There’s been a lot of negative coverage lately about the exodus of Eritrean “refugees” from their homeland and how this poorly reflects on the domestic conditions of their society, but while there are mixed reports about the accuracy of whether or not Eritrea is as bad of a “failing state” as it’s popularly described to be in the mainstream media, the large-scale human outflow from the country can objectively be attributed to two separate reasons.

The first one, to refer to what was touched upon previously, is the government’s policy of forced and indefinite military drafting of some of its citizens. It’s not the author’s place to comment on whether the “refugees” that “flee” from this policy are traitorous turncoats or future-focused opportunists, but it’s undeniable that the forced and indefinite draft is the reason why a substantial amount of people are leaving the country to never return. The other reason that needs to be mentioned alongside the same vein as the prior one is that European countries have a complementary and facilitative policy to this whereby they granted some sort of “protection status” to Eritreans between 91% and 93% of the timeon average. Undoubtedly, this almost guaranteed assurance that all Eritreans have of being given “refugee” or other “protection” status in the EU serves as a very powerful pull factor in magnetizing the high rates of out-migration from their country. Regardless of what the given push or pull factor may be, the UN refugee agency’s 2015 estimate that nearly 400,000 have left the country of slightly over 6 million people over the past 6 years speaks to the magnitude of impact that the West’s “Weapons of Mass Migration” policy has had on Eritrea.

The reason that the country is being targeted is because it has historically been reluctant to integrate into the Western-led international economic and political order, which to Eritrea’s credit, it has stoutly succeeded in doing up until the present day. Western countries and especially their most elite transnational corporations would like to access Eritrea’s wealthy mineral deposits with the preferential sort of conditions that they have elsewhere in the non-Western world, and Eritrea’s refusal to grant them this is what largely explains the West’s hostility to it and utilization of “Weapons of Mass Migration” in asymmetrically weakening its internal military, economic, social, and eventual political stability. Even so, as commendable of a brave and anti-systemic stand as Eritrea has made over the past two decades in that respect, this doesn’t excuse its UNSC-suspected support of the Al Shabaab terrorist group or its recent collaboration with the GCC’s War on Yemen. Instead, it can be argued that Eritrea’s sovereign choice to remain as far outside of the world system as feasibly possible put its government in the position where it had to eventually resort to such unscrupulous actions in order to sustainably survive. Looking forward, if the “Weapons of Mass Migration” that the West has used against Eritrea prove to be utterly devastating over the long run, then it’s possible that the country will either collapse entirely or bend progressively to the Western world’s whims, the latter of which might evidently have already begun as seen by Asmara’s willing participation in the War on Yemen.

Bad Friends, Bad Future:

Background Context

The final thing that will be discussed about Eritrea’s strategic position is its silent alliance with the GCC in their War on Yemen. The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea released a report in October 2015 claiming that the latter “forged a new strategic military relationship with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that involved allowing the Arab coalition to use Eritrean land, airspace and territorial waters in its anti-Houthi military campaign in Yemen” and that “Eritrean soldiers are embedded with the United Arab Emirates contingent of the forces fighting on Yemeni soil”. While Asmara has vehemently denied that it sent troops to Yemen, it has remained strangely silent on the allegations that it allowed the GCC to use its territory for striking its cross-sea neighbor. The author wrote two detailed analyses about this development for Katehon and The Saker, but the general idea in terms of how it relates to the present research is that Asmara has finally ‘come in from the cold’ and is now closely collaborating with one of the most aggressive unipolar military blocs in history, dramatically turning its back on whatever perceived pro-multipolar policies it had in the past and boldly charting a new geopolitical future for itself.

Changing The Game

That’s not all, though, since the new strategic relationship between Eritrea and the GCC which was forged by the blood that has been spilled in the War on Yemen is actually an ultra-destabilizing development for Ethiopia, which now has to contend with the very real and dangerous possibility that its foe has gained the military support of some of the Mideast’s most aggressive players. The aforementioned analyses describe this more thoroughly and should certainly be at least skimmed through by the reader if they’re genuinely interested in understanding what a potential game-changer this might become in relation to the strategic balance in the Horn of Africa, but the basic idea is that Asmara might seriously be cultivating its ties with the GCC in order to prepare for a forthcoming war of aggression against Ethiopia. It’s sensible to think in terms of this scenario owing to the siege mentality that Eritrea has been in over the past two decades and the utmost hate that its leadership has for Ethiopia, and even if it decides to launch its campaign simply due to the heated rivalry that it has with its opponent, this would have the most negative of repercussions for China’s Silk Road strategy in the region, especially if the GCC got involved in supporting Eritrea.

‘Plausible Deniability’

None of the parties acknowledge the UN’s report about their alleged military relationship, probably because of the sensitivity that’s involved due to the GCC’s much-needed strategic agriculturalrelations with Ethiopia, but that doesn’t take away from the very real military-strategic impact that they can have on the long-term stability of the region. If Eritrea decides on its own to go to war with Ethiopia or is pressed to do so by the US as a condition for the lessening of “Weapons of Mass Migration” pressure on the country, then if Asmara retains its nascent ties with its new GCC allies (and there’s no indication that it would willingly return to “rogue state” isolation and reject the monetary advances of its new ‘friends’), it will likely bring them into the fray as well. Qatar and possibly even Saudi Arabia by that time might have a very real interest in offsetting Ethiopia’s rise and tangentially obstructing China’s One Belt One Road geostrategic multipolar project in the Horn of Africa, which ultimately accords to the US’ grand strategy as well. As it stands, Ethiopia and Eritrea are relatively evenly matched, and this state of affairs has retained the cold and tense ‘peace’ between them since their latest large-scale conventional war in 1998-2000, but the insertion of GCC military-strategic capabilities into the equation on Eritrea’s side could dramatically upset the established balance and quickly turn the tables on Ethiopia.

The China Factor

In response to this unfolding potential threat, Addis Ababa may be compelled to enter into an arms race with Eritrea which would essentially amount to one against the GCC as a whole if they turn the former province into their personalized military outpost on Red Sea. In this case, Ethiopia would not be able to compete with the wealthy Gulf Kingdoms, but it could decisively shift the balance by intensifying its strategic relations with China and depending on any forthcoming security commitments that Beijing makes towards it. China wouldn’t be able to properly defend Ethiopia in the event of any GCC-related hostilities against it (even if they use Eritrea as their proxy), but its Djibouti-based force could present a tripwire deterrent towards the Gulf’s large-scale proxy escalation of conflict because none of its allied countries would have anything at all to gain by destroying their relations with China and targeting its military units which might by that point be sent to frontline advisory positions inside Ethiopia. An interesting twist to the security dilemma between Eritrea and Ethiopia can therefore be forecasted, in that the more that Asmara tries to bring in GCC support to bolster its capabilities (whether physical or strategic, potential or kinetic), the more that Addis Ababa can do the same with China, thus setting the stage for a possible prolonged GCC-China proxy confrontation in the Horn of Africa over influence along the Bab-el-Mandeb and its related continental interior.

Ethiopia

Overview:

The second most populous state in Africa is unquestionably one of its emerging leaders and a pole of attraction for Great Power competition and investment. Right now, China is Ethiopia’s unrivaled partner and is assisting its rise to regional leadership in all capacities. The Chinese-financed Ethiopian-Djibouti railroad and LAPSSET network to the Kenyan port of Lamu are instrumental in decisively surmounting the country’s landlocked geographic constraint and directly engaging with the outside world. Altogether, these two megaprojects will catapult Ethiopia’s standing from a regional force into a globally recognized power in its respective corner of the world, and their completion will create a magnet of incentives for foreign investors to compatibly boost its rapid development. Addis Ababa follows Beijing’s lead to such a tee that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is closely modeled off of the centralized administrative-political structure of the Chinese Communist Party. With China assured of its predominant position as Ethiopia’s prized partner of choice, it can thus work on maximizing the win-win benefit that it hopes to acquire from this relationship and help develop the country into one of the most dynamic economic nodes along the One Belt One Road global network.

ethiopia-01

Pairing nicely with Ethiopia’s envisioned economic leadership role in the coming future, the country has also demonstrated a proclivity in expressing diplomatic, resource, and military leadership as well. For example, Ethiopian diplomacy is very actively involved in bringing a settlement to the South Sudanese Civil War, and Addis Ababa’s plans in constructing Africa’s largest hydroelectric project, the Grand Renaissance Dam, will give it total control over most of the Nile’s headwaters and thereby enable it to exert strategic influence on Sudan and Egypt (much to their grumbling consternation and objections). Finally, Ethiopia’s 2006 anti-terrorist intervention in Somalia, while no doubt controversial and polarizing to some, showed that the country is willing to flex its military muscle when it feels it appropriate to do so. All of these leadership-evoking roles, whether assessed by various observers as being positive or negative in accordance with their personal viewpoints, objectively leave no doubt that Addis Ababa sees itself as one of Africa’s rising powers and a continental force to be reckoned with in the larger Horn of Africa-East Africa super region. In view of this, the factors affecting Ethiopia’s strategic stability can be seen as crucially important for all of its direct and immediately indirect neighbors.

In order to add some additional context to Ethiopia’s examined position, it’s highly recommended that the reader reference the author’s aforementioned Katehon and Saker works about the GCC’s anti-Yemen cooperation with Eritrea. The author expanded on some of Ethiopia’s strategic qualities within those articles and they could be useful in helping the reader acquire a more comprehensive assessment of the domestic situation there. Additionally, because the scenario of a renewed Ethiopian-Eritrean war was already discussed earlier, it won’t be reiterated in this section.

When Is A Federation Not A Federation?:

There’s no issue more important to Ethiopia’s domestic stability than the highly partisan one of its existing state of federalization. The so-called “opposition” (both unarmed and armed) state that the country’s form of government is insufficient in granting what they believe to be “equitable representation” to the country’s myriad ethno-regional groups. Even though Ethiopia is already internal delineated according to 10 identity-based regions and the separately administered capital city, they believe that this is nothing but a ‘farcical ploy’ in showcasing a pretense to ‘democracy’. What they’re actually advocating is the pressured transformation of Ethiopia’s centralized federation (a political oxymoron of sorts) into a loose and disjointed Identity Federation that would function as a collection of quasi-independent statelets and undermine all of the leadership advances that Ethiopia has undertaken in over the two past decades. To be sure, there’s definitely a monetary incentive that the envisioned ethno-regional fiefdoms’ leaders and aspiring elite have in seeing this occur, since they’d be able to more closely concentrate their respective entity’s natural resource and human capital profits into their own hands as opposed to having to share it under the present arrangement with the rest of the country in accordance to Addis Ababa’s centralized guidance.

This draws into question what the exact nature of Ethiopia’s present federalized arrangement actually is if it’s not autonomous enough to the pro-Western Identity Federalists’ liking. Interestingly, broad structural parallels can be made to the effectiveness of Ethiopia’s model of federalism and that of the US, since both are in essence federalized models that satisfy certain symbolic criteria for their respective constituencies but inarguably retain very powerful centralized cores that have the overriding and final say on the most important elements of coordinated domestic affairs. That is to say, Ethiopia and the US are “federations” in the technical textbook definition sense of the word, but they don’t function in the manner that many people have rightly or wrongfully come to stereotypically expect from such a system. This is the bone of the externally provoked domestic contention that occasionally flares up in Ethiopia, since the existing federal system itself efficiently works to its full potential but does not legislatively manage itself in the manner that some of its citizens have falsely been misled by the US and others into believing is the “proper” way that a federation should run.

Internal Anti-Systemic Threats:

The EPRDF’s centralized federal system that’s actively practiced in Ethiopia is under threat by two complementary Hybrid War forces that regularly conspire against it and which can by theoretical definition be divided into their constituent Color Revolution and Unconventional Warfare components, however, the country’s circumstances are such that there is more often than not a strategic-tactical blurring between these two parts. For example, the Ginbot 7 “opposition group” is regularly presentedto Western audiences in a favorable light but is in reality a self-described “armed” organization, or in other words, a domestic regime change terrorist network that is also suspected of having ties with Eritrea. What would otherwise be a purely Color Revolution vanguard group had it not self-described itself as “armed” and admitted to taking up weapons to violently overthrow the government is in reality a doubly dangerous organization, in that it functions as a ‘publicly presentable’ international face for the anti-government ‘protest’ movement but also simultaneously carries out very clear Unconventional Warfare goals. Being the closest that Ethiopia has ever come to having a leading Color Revolution organization yet not tactically ‘pure’ enough to fully be described as one owing to its stated terrorist agenda, it can be generalized that the regime change conspirators have conclusively decided that all anti-government groups must have some sort of Unconventional Warfare attributes in order to immediately transition into Hybrid War battle mode at a split second’s notice.

What makes Ginbot 7 unique though is that it is technically not tied to a given ethno-regional identity and claims to be broadly inclusive of all potential members that it can cull from the domestic Ethiopian pool. This stands in contrast to the more traditional Hybrid War organizations such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) which are generally tied to a given demographic, the Oromos and Somalis respectively. Concerning the first ethnic group, the rioting protests that some of its members initiated at the end of the year and which the author analyzed at the time have been accused of being linked to the OLF and Eritrea, which if true would be a reverse tactical application in which a generally Unconventional Warfare group engages in Color Revolution techniques and not the other way around like with Ginbot 7. It’s worthy at this moment to mention that the Oromo are the largest ethno-regional plurality in Ethiopia and that some of its members aspire to use this demographic fact to attain internal hegemony over the rest of the country, so the related doctrines of Oromo separatism and Identity Federalism are appealing to a certain segment of this group for these very reasons. However, no single terrorist group is strong enough to defeat the EPRDF and the Ethiopian military on their own which is why some of them have united into a semi-organized front, such as last May when the Tigrayan People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM), Gambella People’s Liberation Movement (GPLM), Benishangul Peoples Liberation Movement (BPLM), Amhara Democratic Force Movement (ADFM), and Ginbot 7 came together under an unnamed umbrella.

Assessing the state of Ethiopia’s strategic stability, the authorities must properly confront Hybrid War terrorist groups that masquerade in front of the global cameras as “pro-democracy” and “pro-federalization” ethno-regional-based civilians, but which can quickly reveal their true colors as lethal Unconventional Warfare foes capable of inflicting inordinate damage to the state system. Although the US has publicly distanced itself last year from such terrorists as Ginbot 7, OLF, and ONLF by stating that it does not support the use of armed force (especially by these particular groups) to overthrow governments, its hypocritical actions in Syria and elsewhere prove that this was nothing more than a public relations gimmick and likely presages that Washington is in fact actively cooperating with these terrorists but has wanted to present a semblance of ‘plausible deniability’ in order to proactively cover its tracks. The Hybrid War threat posed by these organizations is a difficult one to respond to, but Ethiopia has no choice but to rise to the existential challenge and face this major problem, as it’s predicted that this danger will probably become even more acute in the coming years as China solidifies its One Belt One Road influence in the country and Ethiopia naturally becomes recognized as one of the continent’s up-and-coming regional leaders.

Foreign-Originating Unconventional Threats:

Ethiopia is obviously under threat from Eritrea’s myriad intrigues that are aimed at undermining its leadership, but having already covered that in the previous section, it’s necessary to speak more about the other dangers that it’s facing. There are generally only two others that are significant enough to talk about, one of which has already been explored pretty comprehensively thus far. Al Shabaab is obviously a major threat to Ethiopia’s stability, although Addis Ababa can be applauded for keeping the organization outside of the country and largely contained to Somalia. It can be assumed that there are some terrorist cells residing in the Somali Region (formerly called Ogaden) and possibly even some attempted attacks that have been thwarted at the last minute over the past couple of years, but by and large, there doesn’t seem to be a considerable Al Shabaab presence in the country in spite of the presumably porous borders that Ethiopia shares with Somalia. The Daesh effect in using social media and other information-communication technology tools to propagate the terrorists’ message is mostly inept in this part of the world because less people are plugged into these platforms than they are elsewhere across the globe, which thus mitigates the potential for this occurring but of course doesn’t preclude it from eventually becoming a sizeable threat sometime further down the line.

There’s no ‘rule’ saying that Al Shabaab has to concentrate on recruiting the Somali community in Ethiopia or targeting areas within its namesake region, although these will predictably remain its areas of focus. That said, it’s very possible that the terrorists could be planning and eventually end up carrying out a large-scale attack across Addis Ababa or other larger cities within the country, and it can’t be excluded that they could team up with some of the many ethno-regional Hybrid War groups throughout Ethiopia in maximizing their collective chaos potential. Depending on the severity of any possible Al Shabaab attack, Ethiopia might be pressured to once more stage an anti-terrorist intervention into Somalia, although this time it might be of a considerably lesser scale and for a much briefer period of time than what it did in 2006-2009. It would of course have to exercise caution so as to not get itself caught in a debilitating quagmire that could unbalance its security forces from dealing with pressing domestic threats such as those from Ginbot 7 and its terrorist allies, so this policy option would have to be utilized judiciously and only in the most extreme cases. Be that as it may, the nature of Al Shabaab’s threat is that it’s so entirely unpredictable and always recently results in a highly publicized incident (e.g. the Westgate shopping center and Garissa College attacks in Kenya)  that Ethiopia might have no choice but to launch some sort of symbolic attack in Somalia regardless, no matter if it’s purely superficial and not tactically helpful.

The other main foreign-originating unconventional threat is the potential for South Sudan’s violence to spill over the border and destabilize Gambella Region. The UN refugee agency reported that Ethiopia “became the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa” in August 2014 after more than 190,000 South Sudanese refugees cumulatively had streamed into the country, many of which entered into Gambella. This frontier territory is estimated to have only around 300,000 people, and yet the UN accounted for 271,344 South Sudanese refugees being located there on 1 April, 2016. It’s clear to see that the region has been overwhelmed by what might also be cynically functioning as “Weapons of Mass Migration” in attempting to trigger a centrifugal identity reaction in tearing apart Gambella and the neighboring diverse Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). The SNNPR is a quilted patchwork of various tribes and ethnicities and is the area of Ethiopia which most closely bears a structurally identity diverse and potentially conflict-prone resemblance to South Sudan. The incipient danger is that the structural destabilization that the refugees might inflict in Gambella could spread into the SNNPR and be taken advantage of by Ginbot 7, its allies, and Al Shabaab in order to throw Ethiopia into the burner of full-scale and nationwide Hybrid War violence, putting the authorities on the defensive in all fronts and inevitably leading to one or another regime change group making relative gains on the ground in the immediate aftermath.

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.

PREVIOUS CHAPTERS:

Hybrid Wars 1. The Law Of Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid Wars 2. Testing the Theory – Syria & Ukraine

Hybrid Wars 3. Predicting Next Hybrid Wars

Hybrid Wars 4. In the Greater Heartland

Hybrid Wars 5. Breaking the Balkans

Hybrid Wars 6. Trick To Containing China

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

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Last Friday December 2, Denmark has announced officially that it will suspend its participation in airstrikes on Syria and Iraq. In this press note of The Local, we read that Danish Foreign Ministry Anders Samuelsen stated that “We have decided to withdraw the Danish fighter jets as planned”. A few days before, US top officials recognized errors during last operations, and in this note of The Local, it can be read that:

Defence Command Denmark, the command centre for the Danish armed forces, released a short statement following the attack that confirmed that Danish fighter jets were part of the mission. The Danish forces said it was “of course unfortunate if the coalition mistakenly struck anything other than ISIL forces.

Last November 30, a note published in Australia stated that:

The United States-led review into the air strike released early Wednesday morning highlights two key points about the international coalition air war over Syria: first, that even the best planned military campaign will make mistakes and kill innocents, and second, that the Coalition air campaign has been one of the most tightly controlled in the history of air power. The remarkable thing is that more people haven’t been wrongly killed by Coalition strikes. This constraint on air operations is legally and morally right, but the effect has been to render much of the Syrian air campaign useless. The review makes it clear that a number of factors contributed to inadvertently targeting a position near Dayr az Zawr, on 18 September occupied by Syrian Army or militia forces. For some reason intelligence reporting incorrectly identified the position as occupied by so-called Islamic State fighters.

Denmark and Belgium, as well as France, The Netherlands and United Kingdom are the only European countries engaged in airstrikes operations in Syria and Iraq of the so called “coalition against ISIS“. It is the first time that a European country decides to suspend its engagement in this kind of military operations. However, it is no the first time that airstrikes in Syria and Irak are suspended by a State: last February 22,2016, Canada officially suspended all operations consisting in bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, ending a controversial action inherited from Prime Minister Harper administration (see pressnote).

DANISH INVOLVEMENT IN THE COALITION AGAINST ISIS

In the last report of Airwars.org (see report on November 2016 operations) the last mission held by Denmark is dated December 1st,

Update from Danish MoD on December 1st: [For Wednesday November 23rd to Wednesday November 30th, Denmark report 11 missions over the Iraqi province of Nineweh and the Syrian governorate of Ar Raqqah. They dropped eight precision bombs, launching attacks on ISIL roadblocks, buildings and facilities that manufactured improvised explosive devices to vehicles.]

We read in this report of Airwars of October 2015 that Denmark initially asked not to identify Danish operations in press releases:

Colonel Andersen confirmed that the Danish military had asked CENTCOM not to identify Danish actions in its press releases, though argued that the introduction of the ‘partner nation’ term was a result of “several interests that had to be united” rather than a Danish request exclusively. A FOIA request by Danish reporter Charlotte Aagaard later confirmed the Danish policy of rendering it impossible to identify Denmark’s role in strikes, “neither directly or by through deduction”, specifying that “the Danish contribution should not be mentioned in Coalition press releases if fewer than three nations are mentioned in relation to the activity in question.” Under pressure from Danish media, mission updates were initially expanded in November to include the names of provinces and cities targeted – although dates and locations of attacks were still withheld.

In this other report on The Netherlands transparency on airstrikes, it can be read that Dutch extreme discretion has suffered indiscretions twice: “On only two occasions have the locations and dates of Dutch airstrikes in Iraq been revealed – on neither occasion by the Netherlands itself. Following a strike on Fallujah on July 25th 2015, France later reported it had carried out the mission with Dutch assistance: “Cette mission fut réalisée conjointement avec des avions américains et hollandais.”5 And in September 2015, Airwars in collaboration with RTL Netherlands was able to show that according to a declassified CENTCOM document, Dutch aircraft had been implicated in a possible civilian casualty incident ten months earlier

It must be recalled that since August 2014, US led coalition against Islamic State (ISIS) has decided to bomb Iraq and Syria territories. In the case of Syria, without the consent of Syrian authorities. The information provided officially is not necessarily very clear, and numbers differ from one official source to another one, but data base and reports elaborated by Airwars.org allow to have a better idea of the logic behind airstrikes campaign launched by the so called “coalition against ISIS“.

Chart on aistrikes in Syria, taken from this report of Airwars entitled:”First year of Coalition airstrikes helped stall Islamic State – but at a cost

An updated chart shows that at the date of November 27, 2016, 5673airstrikes in Syria were launched by US, and 306 by CanadaAustraliaFranceUKSaudi ArabiaUAEJordanBahrein and Turkey (see Chart “Cumulative US and allied airstrikes in Syria” available here).

In a recent special report from US Defense Secretary (see text), we read also that: “As of 6:45 a.m. EST Dec. 2, 2016, the U.S. and coalition have conducted a total of 16,592 strikes (10,590 Iraq / 6,002 Syria).

U.S. has conducted 12,876 strikes in Iraq and Syria (7,183 Iraq / 5,693 Syria).

Rest of Coalition has conducted 3,716 strikes in Iraq and Syria (3,407 Iraq / 309 Syria).

The countries that have participated in the strikes include: In Iraq: (1) Australia, (2) Belgium, (3) Canada, (4) Denmark, (5) France, (6) Jordan, (7) The Netherlands, and (8) UK.

In Syria: (1) Australia, (2) Bahrain, (3) Canada, (4) Denmark, (5) France, (6) Jordan, (7) The Netherlands, (8) Saudi Arabia, (9) Turkey (10) UAE and (11) UK.

Between Aug. 8, 2014 and Nov. 28, 2016, U.S. and partner nation aircraft have flown an estimated 127,764 sorties in support of operations in Iraq and Syria”.

ONE YEAR AGO: THE DISCUSSION AT BRITISH PARLIAMENT

One year ago, British Prime Minister appealed to Parliament Members to vote in favor of Royal Air Forces (RAF) airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, in order to “keep the British people safe” from the threat of terrorism. At the opening of a 10-hour Commons debate on December 2, 2015, he said the country had no other choice. In the report presented to the Parliament he stated that:

I believe that the UK should now join Coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Syria” and pointed out that “On 20 November 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously called on Member States to use all necessary measures to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL, and to deny them safe haven in Syria and Iraq.

We have had the opportunity to clarify some of the very simple (and quite questionable) arguments presented by Primer Minister in our article entitled:”The UK Parliament’s Decision to Bomb Syria is ILLEGAL Arguments based on UN resolution 2249 in Prime Minister´s report on airstrikes in Syria: some clarifications needed“.

AMBIGUITY OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2249 ADOPTED IN NOVEMBER 2015

As known, Security Council 2249 (see full text) resolution does not provide any legal basis for airstrikes in Syria. A careful reading of the text shows that Resolution 2249 does not mention Article 42 of the UN Charter, which allows Security Council to authorize States to the use of force, or even Chapter VII generally; nor does use the verb “decide“, used when Security Council adopts a resolution on the use of force.

However, this text has been presented as a solid legal basis for airstrikes in Syria by France and United Kingdom. In November 2015, two distinguished international lawyers entitled their analysis of Resolution 2249 (see article):

The Constructive Ambiguity of the Security Council’s ISIS Resolution“. For the authors of this article, the legal basis on which military actions can be taken in Syria is totally absent of the text: “Resolution 2249, on the other hand, is constructed in such a way that it can be used to provide political support for military action, without actually endorsing any particular legal theory on which such action can be based or providing legal authority from the Council itself. The creative ambiguity in this resolution lies not only in the fact that it does not legally endorse military action, while appearing to give Council support to action being taken, but also that it allows for continuing disagreement as to the legality of those actions.

With respect to the vote that took place on December 2nd 2015 in London, and, in particular to the arguments presented by Prime Minister concerning UNSC Resolution 2249, a distinguished professor of international law at Nottingham wrote in his article entitled “How the Ambiguity of Resolution 2249 Does Its Work” the following conclusion:

Calling this particular resolution “clear and unambiguous” is, with respect, a real howler. But nonetheless we can see how the ambiguity of the resolution also did its magic in internal UK politics, and not just on the international plane – I very much doubt that without it the Prime Minister could have obtained the necessary majority for the air strikes, or even if he did that majority would have been slim indeed.

WHO ARE REALLY THE MEMBERS OF COALITION AGAINST ISIS

It must be recalled that in a report of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons entitled “The extension of offensive British military operations to Syria“, information was provided in order to know which were the States involved in airstrikes in Syria (and in Iraq). At note 22, page 9, we read the following data, that refers to Denmark withdrawn:

Airstrikes in Iraq: US, UK, Australia, Belgium (withdrawn), Canada (expected to withdraw), Denmark (withdrawn), France, Jordan, The Netherlands (9). Airstrikes in Syria: US, Australia, Bahrain, Canada (expected to withdraw), France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE (9). Total of 13 states overall.

The decision of Denmark to “withdraw” airstrikes in Iraq has been revised after been registered by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons at the end of 2015. On April 20, 2016, we read from US Defense Secretary the following statement:

Statement from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Denmark’s Decision to Expand Role in Counter-ISIL Campaign Press Operations Release No: NR-139-16 April 20, 2016

This week’s decision by the Danish Parliament to approve an expanded role in the fight against ISIL is a welcome contribution from a valued partner in the counter-ISIL coalition and another sign of the growing momentum for the campaign to defeat ISIL. Denmark is a steadfast partner in global coalition efforts. Its contributions, including strike aircraft, air defense radar, and training and assistance to Iraqi forces, have already been significant.

Concerning the participation of others members of the so called “coalition against ISIS“, on Nov. 30, 2015 The Washington Times informed (see note) that some members of the coalition have stopped flights against ISIS positions:

One Pentagon official directly involved in the counter-Islamic State fight told The Washington Times that the Saudis haven’t flown a mission against the group in nearly three months. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Bahrain is still involved, but confirmed that Jordan stopped flying sorties against the extremists in August and the UAE hasn’t flown one since March.

Curiously, in its presentation at the “Sénat” in France, on November 25, 2015 French Minister of Foreign Affairs declares publicly that: “Une trentaine d’État sont engagés militairement dans la coalition“. The number 13 is a number of member States quite far from 30. But visually speaking (mainly if you are an urged person acting as a Minister of Foreign Affairs) the number 13 is very close to 31.

A COLLECTIVE CALL AGAINST ABUSIVE INVOCATION OF SELF DEFENSE TO JUSTIFY AIRSTRIKES IN SYRIA AND IRAQ

Last July 2016, we have had the opportunity to refer to a collective call against the abusive invocation of self-defense in the fight against ISIS, signed by more than 240 international law professors and experts around the world. The text of this global call (available here ) in French, English, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic) considers, among other arguments, that:

 Thus, numerous military interventions have been conducted in the name of self-defence, including against Al Qaeda, ISIS or affiliated groups. While some have downplayed these precedents on account of their exceptional nature, there is a serious risk of self-defence becoming an alibi, used systematically to justify the unilateral launching of military operations around the world. Without opposing the use of force against terrorist groups as a matter of principle — particularly in the current context of the fight against ISIS — we, international law professors and scholars, consider this invocation of self-defence to be problematic. In fact, international law provides for a range of measures to fight terrorism. Priority should be given to these measures before invoking self-defence .

On this collective call, we refer to our modest article entitled “Against the abusive invocation of self-defence against terrorism” and to the updated list of signatures collected, available here.

Publicado por Curso de Derecho Internacional. Costa Ricaen 10:04

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While Syrian government forces are retaking neighborhood after neighborhood in east Aleppo, thousands of civilians have seized the opportunity to flee the violence. Locals shared their memories of what they left behind with RT.

RT’s Lizzie Phelan went to a former food market turned makeshift camp where some east Aleppo residents have fled en route to safer places within and outside Syria. A generator has been set up in the camp to let people charge their phones so that they can try to contact friends and relatives who can help them get further away from the conflict-torn area.

“They were shelling in our area, but we didn’t leave our home. It wasn’t until my home was destroyed and my children were injured that I said I could no longer live there and I left,” one woman named Fatima told RT.

Her husband, who sustained a head injury, is disoriented and desperately needs medical help.

Some of the people light fires to try to keep warm, as it is freezing cold in the region at the moment. Cold, however, isn’t the only life-threatening issue – despite fleeing the terror, many suffer from severe malnutrition and most of the kids have yellowish skin and can barely move.

One of the mothers told RT that it was the rebels who took the food from them in eastern Aleppo.

“The prices for everything were so high! When the aid would come, they [the rebels] would take it and keep it for themselves. They stole it from us. None of my kids have eaten for three days, they are suffering, and the journey here was so difficult!” Majdolene said.

Many people had to walk for three hours to reach the makeshift camp.

“When I heard the road was open, they told us not to go, ‘they will shoot you and your kids,’ but I said, let them shoot us, I don’t care, it’s better than staying [in east Aleppo],” Majdolene emotionally told RT.

“My friends said, ‘let’s find a car.’ I said, ‘if I don’t find a car, I will go crawling on my hands and knees,’” she added.

It was not the first time Majdolene had attempted to flee with her five children. The last time, the militants caught her and took her ID. The woman’s family has been separated by the fighting, with her husband joining the Free Syrian Army and her brother serving in the Syrian military. She says her husband tried to force her to bring her brother to him but she refused despite beatings.

Majdolene’s isn’t the only family split by war. Teenage Ahmad’s parents are just 50 kilometers away, but he can’t go see them, as Al Bab is under Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) control now.

“We will stay here until God helps us,” the boy told RT.

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The 2016 presidential election did not only expose the political process and the duopoly political party system as a major mechanism of control, but exposed how the Democratic Party and their liberal supporters act as collaborators in upholding the status quo.

This is not to say that the Republican Party is vastly different, but to say that there is a well-known belief, largely uncontested that the Democratic Party is the party that supposedly champions the common man/women, the oppressed, and the exploited causes. Yet, this narrative does not appear to be supported by overwhelming evidences.

In fact, the Democratic Party and their liberal supporters appear to validate of the current arrangement of power and wealth and derive tremendous benefit from it. This is opposed to the image of “fighters” for real change. The party functions as a powerbroker that is committed to its own political party’s survival and prestigious position.  To this end, they attempt to incorporate the grievances of protest movements, which includes its leadership, and to fan the flames of narrow identity politics in order to retain its support base. However, the latest presidential election appears to expose this party’s complicity in the continuation of the status quo. In addition, as Wikileaks revealed there is a particular elite mindset within this party that is adrift from the common people’s issues and a dogged commitment to their own power and wealth.

Rather than exposing the political process and the duopoly party system by critically analyzing it and illustrating how both parties firmly support U.S. empire and have a firm commitment to preserving the current arrangement of power and wealth in the U.S. as well as in the world, many within the academic establishment discredited themselves as cheerleaders for one party over another.  According to Gore Vidal:

There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party…and it has two wings:   Republican and Democrat.  Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire            in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more    corrupt…until recently…and more willing than the Republicans to make small    adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand.  But,      essentially, there is no difference between the two parties. (1977).

This astute observation is certainly not unique and can be seen as part of a long critical tradition found in sociology and other disciplines that claim such figures as Karl Marx and Max Weber as part of their foundations and have power and its reproduction as their key emphasis.  C. Wright Mills who was a prominent sociologist, for example, was relentless in exposing the dominant ideas behind political pluralism by arguing that power resides in a power elite (1956)

Many of us take seriously our training in sociology and other critical disciplines and have used them as guidance in understanding power and dominance. In other words, the outcome of the recent election did not serve as a defining moment that awoken us from a liberal stupor, or create symptoms associated with PTSD. Many of us were already dealing with power and domination and its various mechanisms of control. So for many of us, many if not all roads do indeed lead to Rome or stated more precisely.

Most social problems lead to capitalism and imperialism as root causes for a multitude of inequalities (class, ethno-racial, and gender, to just name a few). Therefore, it is along this line of inquiry that we examine such issues of the political process and political party politics.  These critical stances are in keeping with the fundamental principle in critical disciplines that upholds the idea that nothing is sacred (e.g., national identity or political party affiliation) when it comes to pealing back the layers of socialization in the quest to understand power; its arrangement and its reproduction.

As Glen Ford stated it is extremely difficult to defend the Democratic Party after witnessing the continuation of George W. Bush policies within the Obama administration (2016). It appears that millions of others feel the same way, especially if we are to accept the explanation that a large part of Donald Trump’s victory was the result of a voters’ revolt against the democratic and republican establishments. Bernie Sanders, stated, what many have attributed to his own campaign, that Trump had “tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media” (Levin, et al. 2016)

Of course, a fuller explanation also includes race and gender and their intersectionality with class. Furthermore, what needs to be done and is being done today is the development of a deeper analysis, which is largely being conducted outside of the established institutions of academia and the media that is attempting to explain the conditions that brought about a Trump victory. This is without doubt a difficult endeavor considering Thump’s platform, which many consider filled with hatemongering rhetoric, which some have state overlook his appeal for his anti-neoliberal, anti-neoconservative interventionism, “drain the swamp,” and “Make American Great Again” promises, which appear to have won many people over.  This may, as many have predicted with end in the same way that “Hope and Change” and “Hope we can believe in” did with great disappointment. If history is a guide, we understand that individual personality, political platforms, and political party affiliation means almost nothing in terms of the overall continuation of the arrangement of power and wealth in the U.S. and its imperialist global policies. Trump’s cabinet selection process appears to make this fact clear, as the recycling of establishment politicians unfold.

It may be too cynical to say that there is “not a dime worth of difference” between the two party duopoly, but a basic understanding of the power structure in the U.S. informs us that those with power will fight “tooth and nail” to retain their personal, party, and class as well as their U.S. global position of power. In particular historical moments, political parties have supported social movements, especially when threatened, will make concessions (e.g., the New Deal and Great Society provisions) (Piven and Cloward 1977), or at moments in which the elite are divided (Tilly 1978). It is at this moment, that a political party will champion the grievances of a social movement in order to gain their support, especial electorally (as was the case with JFK’s administration taking up the cause for civil rights).

The fear of a right turn in the U.S. as a result of Trump’s presidency because of campaign promises to deport undocumented immigrants and to deny entry to Muslins as evidence of the ascendance of fascism may be a little overblown if one does not have the critical sense to understand that the infrastructure for a police state has been in the making since at least the late 1960s and earlier 1970s with the bipartisan passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill in 1968, which set the foundation for a militarized police force, counterinsurgency, surveillance, and the erosion of civil liberties (Parenti 1999: 8-10). From the passage of this Act emerged, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), which can be seen as the foundation for the keys pillars that would anchor the police state in which billions of dollars annually allocated to.

To just name a few of the pillars:

the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Clinton); the USA Patriot Act 2001 (Bush); and National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (Obama).

All the above Acts have to varying degrees served to enhance the state’s ability to control perceived threats to its social order. If one wanted to look at one key legislation that provides the “legal” right to repeatedly violate other nation-states national sovereignty it is Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001, which was used to invade Afghanistan and Iraq under the Bush administration and to intervene in such nation-states such as Libya, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen under the Obama administration.  This Law, under the guise of pursuing the “terrorists” responsible for the 9/11 attack, has added tremendous power to the state, in its pursuit to maintain and expand empire.

Where were the democrats and their supporters while millions of individuals were being killed and displaced as a result of neoliberal and imperium policies, many whom undoubtedly find themselves today as immigrants? Lastly, upwards to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants have been deported from the U.S. for having criminal infractions, the most in U.S. history.

The result has been what William Robinson has called the growth of the “Immigrant Military-Prison-Industrial-Detention Complex” that is tasked with the maintenance of a flexible, super-exploited immigrant workforce, which is highly vulnerable to the threat of deportation, and therefore super-exploitable (2013). The management of this complex has generated vast new opportunities for profit-making, consider that rise of private ran detention centers (William 2013).

The real questions is! Where was all the eruptions of protest during the current democratic administration?

A great amount of the protest that had gained momentum under the Bush administration had mainly either died or faded away once a democrat won the presidency in 2008 and 2012. Yet, within time, acting against calls to give Obama a chance, identity politics, and an endless chorus of the liberal and pseudo left apologists from academia that pointed to the obstructions of republicans for not delivering on his promises, emerged the Occupy Wall Street, Immigrant, Black Lives Matter, and Dakota Pipeline protest and movements that challenged the democratic party. These protest/movements nevertheless faced or face repressive measures from a democratic administration that has claimed itself the guardian of the oppressed and exploited.

Historically, as well as in the above cases, the Democratic Party has channeled grievances into the political process thereby legitimizes the system by serving as the champion of the oppressed and the exploited.  This can be seen in the case with the civil rights movement and the labor unions.  Therefore, rather than acting as a transformative agent that addresses root cause issues such as capitalism and imperialism, the democrats act to legitimatize the system and thereby legitimatizing themselves as a powerbroker in the continuation of the status quo.

When we understand power; its arrangement, and reproduction, we are less likely to be sidelined as cheerleaders for one particular political party over another. Because rather than point out how the  political process is but one mechanism of control that is designed to win over or manufacture control every four years, we validate this process by advancing such arguments for voting against the “worst of the evil.” Some of us even do worse by parading this farce in classrooms. Every four years we are told that this election really matters, because the other party will be even worse. The problem with this argument is that it has been worst for many for a long time. Just ask the indigenous people, the ancestors of slaves, the millions of colonialized and exploited people who inhibit the United States.

As the late Howard Zinn argued,

“the establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small reward to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors lawyers, nurses, transport and communications workers, garbage men and firemen. These people –the employed, the somewhat privileged-are drawn into alliance with the elite. They become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system fails” (1995: 622).

This line of critical thinking alerts us to how the system of inequality maintains and reproduces itself through sophisticated and complex mechanisms of control that certainly include the democratic party and the republican party and their elaborate systems that breed collaboration.

Besides U.S. state use of various modes of repression that are anchored in the vast national security state and the police/prison nexus, it also utilizes various facilitative modes that are designed to incorporate, bribe, and otherwise conquer and divide individuals and groups of individuals (Montes 2009, 2016). Certainly, elite promotion among the oppressed and exploited, the channeling of protest and social movement grievances to the electoral process, the distribution of social aid provisions, and employment distribution are but some of the modes in which elite and the U.S. state facilitates the incorporation of millions of individuals into the system. What appears to be center to an effective analysis of power is to understand the role of the Democratic Party in the continuation of a system that is rooted in inequality.  As Zinn argued the “U.S. system is the most ingenious system of control in world history” (1995: 618).

This is largely based on its ability to use its resources and wealth to pacify and co-opt troublesome minorities and lower classes.  Besides having obtained resources and wealth by land usurpation, a system of slavery, and exploitation, the U.S. economic global domination and imperialist policies have  amass incredible amounts of wealth providing it many repressive and facilitative options for maintaining and legitimizing its authority.

References:

Ford, Glen. 2016. The Ford Report, on The Real News Network, “There is Little in Obama’s ‘Legacy’ Worth Defending,” Nov.15 (http://blackagendareport.com/node?page=1)

Levin, Sam, Zach Stafford and Scott Bixby, Matthew Weaver. 2016. “Bernie Sanders: Donald Trump Harnessed Anti-Establishment Anger.” The Guardian, Nov.10. (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/10/bernie-sanders-donald-trump-harnessed-anti-establishment-anger)

Mills, C. Wright. 1956. The Power Elite. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

______1959 (2000). The Sociological Imagination. New York: NY: Oxford University Press.

Montes, Vince. 2009. “The Web Approach to the State Strategy in Puerto Rico.” In Knottnerus, David and Bernard Phillips, eds. Bureaucratic Culture and Escalating Problems: Advancing the Sociological Imagination, Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers.

_______. 2016 “Coercive Occupations as State Facilitation: Understanding U.S. State’s Strategy of Control, Radical Criminology, Issue 6, Fall. (http://journal.radicalcriminology.org/index.php/rc/issue/view/6/showToc)

Parenti, Christian. 1999. Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis. New York, NY: Verso.

Piven, Frances Fox and Richard A. Cloward. 1977. Poor People’s Movements. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Robinson, William I. 2013. “The New Global Capitalism and the War on Immigrants.” Truthout,  Sept. 13. (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18623-the-new-global-capitalism-and-the-war-on-immigrants)

Tilly, Charles. 1978. From Mobilization to Revolution. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Vidal, Gore. 1977. Matters of Fact and of Fiction: Essays 1973–76. New York, NY: Random House.

Zinn, Howard. 1995. A People’s of the United States: 1492-Present. New York: Harper Perennial.

Vince Montes is a lecturer in sociology at San Jose State University. Earned a Ph.D. at the New School for Social Research. Recent publications: “Coercive Occupations as State Facilitation: Understanding U.S. State’s Strategy of Control, Radical Criminology, Issue 6, Fall 2016 and “The Web Approach to the State Strategy in Puerto Rico.” In Knottnerus, David and Bernard Phillips, eds. Bureaucratic Culture and Escalating Problems: Advancing the Sociological Imagination, Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers (2009).

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Seasoned journalist, White House official, and historian Pat Buchanan has responded to the Washington Post’s fake news about the independent journalists on the 200 List being Russian agents by reminding us that the US government has always been a major disseminator of fake news.

http://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2016/12/01/fake-news-war-party-lies/

No one knows who is behind the newly created PropOrNot website that came up with the list of 200 “Russian agents,” but it is as likely as not the State Department funded National Endowment for Democracy, which has been peddling propaganda as fake news since its inception. Indeed, it was created for the purpose of destabilizing the Soviet Union. Of course the CIA could be involved, or Israel, or George Soros, or some neoconservative group, or some new government funded organization as a tool of the propaganda war that the Obama regime has vowed to fight.

By publicizing the fake list in the Washington Post, the presstitute newspaper has brought buckets of shame and condemnation upon its head, destroying in the process the thin shred of credibility that the Main Stream media still possessed.

As Pam Martens reports, another imbecile has now composed a list of 200 suspect professors who also dissent from the official bullshit fed to the American people.

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2016/12/u-s-journalists-and-professors-appearing-on-rt-america-get-blacklisted/

The official government purveyors of fake news in the US and their presstitute agents are concerned that they are losing control over the explanations given to the American people.

In an effort to regain control over Americans’ minds, they are attempting to define dissenters and truth-tellers as “Russian agents.” Why “Russian agents”? Because they hope that their fake news portrait of Russia as America’s deadly enemy has taken hold and will result in the public turning away from those of us labeled “Russian agents.”

I don’t think it is working.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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Politicized Humanitarian Aid to Aleppo

December 3rd, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Two days after over 80,000 eastern Aleppo residents were freed from US-supported terrorists, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said the UN, America, Britain and France declined to provide any humanitarian aid.

Russia and Syria alone are helping thousands fleeing from eastern Aleppo to safety in government controlled areas. On Tuesday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:

The President ordered the Defense Ministry and the Emergencies Ministry to send to Syria’s Aleppo mobile hospitals, which will provide treatment for residents of the city and its neighborhoods.

A special 100-bed clinic and trauma care unit will be set up, also able to provide treatment for about 420 outpatients daily. A separate 50-bed clinic will be able to treat 200 outpatients every day.

On November 30, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said providing humanitarian aid to Syrians is increasingly politicized. Most UN aid goes to US-supported terrorists.

She condemned using humanitarian aid as “a tool for political pressure or…as a means of flirting with terrorists or shielding them…American promises are one things while their actions are another.”

US supported terrorists are blowing up hospitals, schools and mosques, then sending video footage to Western media for airing, propaganda claiming Syrian and Russian responsibility.

In November, Konashenkov said “(o)nly in recent months, we’ve delivered more than 100 tons of the most essential goods – food, medicine and other basic necessities – to Aleppo.”

All the inhabitants of Aleppo had equal access to these goods, with no restrictions to those from the western or eastern part of the city. The State Department within this period has not delivered one bread crumb to the Syrians, for whom it supposedly cares so much.

On December 2, Konashenkov said UN authorities aren’t providing humanitarian aid to liberated eastern Aleppo residents. Instead they’re sending it to areas of the city “controlled by terrorists.”

Russia’s Reconciliation Center in Syria continues sending tons of food, medicines and other essentials to the city daily. Head of Russia’s General Staff, Gen. Sergey Rudskoy said “(a)s a result of effective actions by the Syrian government forces, Castello Road is now completely liberated. Thus, there are no impediments for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people of Aleppo.”

On Friday, Sergey Lavrov said “(w)e have informed the UN in New York and Geneva that there are no longer any problems with the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Aleppo.”

An agreement has to be made with the Syrian government over the passage of these convoys, which are no longer under threat. The UN is currently pondering how to do this.

While they are deciding, Russia, as you know, has directed additional humanitarian assistance to east Aleppo as well as two mobile hospitals, doctors, medical equipment (and) medicine(s).

On Saturday, Konashenkov said Britain failed to provide any humanitarian aid to the country throughout years of war – “not…a gram of flour, a tablet or a blanket to help civilians,” adding:

On the basis of Russophobia, the UK government has lost its ability to objectively assess the situation in Syria, including in Aleppo.

If the UK government really wants to send humanitarian aid to residents of eastern areas (of Aleppo), there are all conditions for that, just tell us where it is stuck now. If there is no British humanitarian aid to Aleppo, don’t interfere with others’ efforts to help.

Separately, Lavrov said formation of a so-called army of Aleppo in eastern parts of the city controlled by terrorists “is just another attempt to rebrand al-Nusra Front and shield it from righteous retaliation.”

All anti-government forces in eastern Aleppo are terrorists, control by al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) – supported by Washington and its rogue allies.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

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

 

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Will Vietnam Embrace China After Trump Gets Elected?

December 3rd, 2016 by Andre Vltchek

Common wisdom says that after Donald Trump got elected in the United States, Vietnam should be in panic.

True, there could be some ‘objective’ reasons for alarm, if one is truly obsessed with the ‘free’ trade agreements.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership may soon go to the dogs and at least one sizeable part of the Vietnamese leadership was counting on it, hoping that it would boost the economy, particularly its garment and agricultural sectors.

However, Vietnam is and always was tough, and on top of it, there are many signs indicating that the public and many government and Party heads are actually demanding a more ‘hardline’ Communist path, not just more business activities.

Earlier this year, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, was re-elected, while Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was pushed from power. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported:

Mr Dung was the party’s strongest voice in denouncing Beijing and was credited with Vietnam’s smooth accession to a US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In brief: he was one of the main local advocates of the pro-Western foreign and economic policy, which was setting Vietnam on a dangerous crash course with China. And he is gone…

After the recent election results in the United States were announced, Vietnam is set to move much closer towards both China and Russia. President-elect Donald Trump’s ‘exceptionalist’ and often anti-Asian rhetoric is already setting off alarm bells all over the region: from Hanoi to Jakarta, and naturally from Manila to Beijing.

*

Donald Trump is now getting ready to kill the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (the 12-nation trade pact). Vietnam, which during the previous years developed (pragmatically) a very close relationship with the Obama administration, is watching nervously. Before the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party earlier this year (and particularly since a new Constitution was adopted in 2013), Vietnam introduced and passed around 100 new laws, some described rightly or wrongly by Western analysts as ‘pro-market economic reforms’.

Undeniably, some in the Vietnamese leadership believed that their country would be one of the main beneficiaries of the TPP.

There was even some muted grumbling about the ‘growing strategic relationship’ between Vietnam and the United States.

To impress the West, particularly the United States, Hanoi kept ‘improving the business climate’, ‘easing its trade regulations and yielding to various demands from Western and Asian businesses and corporations.

Most alarmingly, Hanoi’s confrontational stand towards China was changing from rhetorical to ‘tangible’, after Vietnam began expanding its runway – and according to Reuters and other Western sources – after it began deploying several rocket launchers in or near the disputed area in the South China Sea.

*

To say that ‘Vietnam changed its basic positions opportunistically and abruptly’ would be wrong. Even before the US elections, Vietnam began ‘diversifying’ its foreign policy.

Now Hanoi is hoping for the deal that is being proposed by China: a 16-nation agreement called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would include Vietnam and the rest of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Relations between Hanoi and Beijing have been rapidly improving. It is becoming clear that Vietnam may be following the example of the Philippines, backing off permanently from the confrontational course with the most populous nation on earth. Significantly, the top Vietnamese leadership recently hosted the outspoken anti-imperialist President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. To quote Gary Sands from the Foreign Policy Blogs:

…While the previous administration in Hanoi had angered Beijing by seeking legal advice from Manila in order to potentially file their own claim at The Hague, the new leadership under Quang appears to be backing off confrontation with Beijing, along with Manila. Any jointly-coordinated legal or military effort between Hanoi and Manila appears now to be out of the question for fear of provoking the dragon next door, while we await the outcome of hopefully peaceful bilateral negotiations.

The ideological stand of the Vietnamese leadership became clear following the death of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro Ruz. The country announced a day of mourning and Vietnam’s government and Party officials delivered powerful emotional revolutionary and internationalist speeches.

*

One major problem is that the Western perspective has managed to kidnap almost entirely the narrative on the country – the way all major or minor developments in Vietnam are being perceived and interpreted. This does not necessarily apply to the Vietnamese people, although many of them are actually also consuming Western propaganda at an excessive rate. However, it definitely applies to how the rest of the world understands (or misunderstands) Vietnam.

The slowing down of Doi Moi pro-market reforms is hardly addressed by Western mass media. As they hardly address any social changes in neighboring China. In Europe and the US it is generally perceived that both countries are determinately and happily embracing the market economy concepts.

The reality couldn’t be any farther from that. In China and in Vietnam (although still more in China), the majority of the population has been disappointed, even disgusted, by capitalist practices. People are demanding the re-introduction of essential socialist principles. In China, under the leadership of President Xi, the government is yielding to the people’s demands. It appears that Vietnam is paying close attention to its giant neighbor in the North, and is also willing to reconsider its hard-core pro-market stands.

The people of Vietnam may be hopeful, but they are not necessarily content, in the cities and in the countryside. Life is now better than two decades ago, but expectations are also much higher. ‘Socialism Vietnam-style’ would most likely be welcomed by the majority, and could be coming soon!

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, filmmaker, investigative journalist and writer who has recently finished his new novel Auroraespecially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

 

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On November 30, one week after the Washington Post launched its witch hunt against “Russian propaganda fake news”, with 390 votes for, the House quietly passed “H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017“, sponsored by California Republican Devin Nunes (whose third largest donor in 2016 is Google parent Alphabet, Inc), a bill which deals with a number of intelligence-related issues, including Russian propaganda, or what the government calls propaganda, and hints at a potential crackdown on “offenders.”

A quick skim of the bill reveals “Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries”,  whose Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in  coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”

The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:

  • Establishment or funding of a front group.
  • Covert broadcasting.
  • Media manipulation.
  • Disinformation and forgeries.
  • Funding agents of influence.
  • Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
  • Assassinations.
  • Terrorist acts.

As ActivistPost correctly notes, it is easy to see how this law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, could be used to target, threaten, or eliminate so-called “fake news” websites, a list which has been used to arbitrarily define any website, or blog, that does not share the mainstream media’s proclivity to serve as the Public Relations arm of a given administration.

Curiously, the bill which was passed on November 30, was introduced on November 22, two days beforethe Washington Post published its Nov. 24 article citing “experts” who claim Russian propaganda helped Donald Trump get elected.

As we reported last week, in an article that has been widely blasted, the WaPo wrote that “two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.”

The newspaper cited PropOrNot, an anonymous website that posted a hit list of alternative media websites, including Zero Hedge, Drudge Report, Activist Post, Blacklisted News, the Ron Paul Report, and many others. Glenn Greenwald penned an appropriate response two days later in “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group.”

PropOrNot has pushed a conspiratorial thesis, without any actual proof, that the listed websites have been either used directly or covertly by the Russians to spread propaganda.

While the bill passed the House with a sweeping majority, it is unknown if and when the bill will work its way through the Senate and be passed into law, although one would think that it has far higher chances of passing under president Obama than the President-Elect. It is also unclear if it will be used to shut down websites anonymously characterized as “useful idiots” or subversive elements used in disseminating supposed Russian propaganda.

Those interested can read the full “H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017″ at the following location” bill that may soon proclaim much of the internet to be criminal “Russian propaganda” at the following link.

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During months of US/Russia talks on conflict resolution in Syria, Washington consistently undermined Moscow’s good faith efforts, breaching promises made, violating SC Res. 2254 terms – unanimously adopted in December 2015, calling for ceasefire and diplomatic conflict resolution.

In October 2016, the Defense Department ceased military contacts with Russia in Syria. Information exchanges stopped.

State Department spokesman admiral John Kirby said “(t)he United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities.” He lied, claiming Moscow “failed to live up to its own commitments…”

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement said “in pursuit of regime change in Damascus, Washington…forge(d) an alliance with hardened terrorists…”

House members want US military cooperation with Russia hamstrung, inserting a provision in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – overwhelmingly approved on December 2 by a 375 – 34 vote, Senate passage assured, perhaps with minor revisions, followed by Obama signing it into law.

Orwellian anti-Russian Section 1236 bans the Defense Department from pursuing “bilateral military-to-military cooperation between the governments of the United States and Russia” – unless Moscow “cease(s) its occupation of Ukrainian territory and its aggressive activities that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”

DOD must “certify” to Congress that Russia “is abiding by the terms of and taking steps in support of the Minsk Protocols regarding a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.”

Fact: No Russian occupation of Ukraine exists – nor “aggressive activities” threatening Kiev, NATO countries or any others.

Fact: Russia alone strictly observes Minsk principles. Other so-called Normandy Quartet countries France, Germany and Ukraine systematically breach them, US pressure assuring it.

A congressional waiver may be granted provided “national interest(s)” are served, without further elaboration.

Obama’s tenure was marked by increasing tensions with Russia, risking direct confrontation by his hostile acts – including by signing into law the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) when it reaches his desk.

Congressional action is aimed at stymying Trump’s efforts to normalize ties with Russia, including both countries cooperating in combating terrorism in Syria – if he follows through on what he suggested while campaigning.

Will he observe what Section 1236 mandates or seek a waiver to cooperate with Russia in the “national interest?”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

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

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When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open.

At a quarter past eight on the morning of 6 August, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, “disappeared”, a political embarrassment.

I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency.  The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are in the northern hemisphere, on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is buried and distorted: a drumbeat of mainstream fake news that echoes the psychopathic fear embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.

Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an “existential threat” to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.

To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a “pivot to Asia”, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020. Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, “the perfect noose”.

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled, War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable.  Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the cold war when RAND made notorious the catch cry of its chief strategist, Herman Kahn — “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

Today, his apocalyptic view is shared by those holding real power in the United States: the militarists and neo-conservatives in the executive, the Pentagon, the intelligence and “national security” establishment and Congress.

The current Secretary of Defense, Ashley Carter, a verbose provocateur, says US policy is to confront those “who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us”.

For all the attempts to detect a departure in foreign policy, this is almost certainly the view of Donald Trump, whose abuse of China during the election campaign included that of “rapist” of the American economy. On 2 December, in a direct provocation of China, President-elect Trump spoke to the President of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province of the mainland. Armed with American missiles, Taiwan is an enduring flashpoint between Washington and Beijing.

“The United States,” wrote Amitai Etzioni, professor of international Affairs at George Washington University, “is preparing for a war with China, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress.”  This war would begin with a “blinding attack against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers … satellite and anti-satellite weapons”.

The incalculable risk is that “deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by the Chinese as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into ‘a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma’ [that would] lead to nuclear war.”

In 2015, the Pentagon released its Law of War Manual. “The United States,” it says, “has not accepted a treaty rule that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons per se, and thus nuclear weapons are lawful weapons for the United States.”

In China, a strategist told me, “We are not your enemy, but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay.”  China’s military and arsenal are small compared to America’s. However, “for the first time,” wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack … This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy … Indeed, the nuclear weapon policies of the United States are the most prominent external factor influencing Chinese advocates for raising the alert level of China’s nuclear forces.”

Professor Ted Postol was scientific adviser to the head of US naval operations. An authority on nuclear weapons, he told me, “Everybody here wants to look like they’re tough. See I got to be tough … I’m not afraid of doing anything military, I’m not afraid of threatening; I’m a hairy-chested gorilla. And we have gotten into a state, the United States has gotten into a situation where there’s a lot of sabre-rattling, and it’s really being orchestrated from the top.”

I said, “This seems incredibly dangerous.”

In 2015, in considerable secrecy, the US staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War. This was Talisman Sabre; an armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an “Air-Sea Battle Concept for China” – ASB — blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

It is such a provocation, and the fear of a US Navy blockade, that has seen China feverishly building strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.  Last July, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s claim of sovereignty over these islands. Although the action was brought by the Philippines, it was presented by leading American and British lawyers and could be traced to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 2010, Clinton flew to Manila. She demanded that America’s former colony reopen the US military bases closed down in the 1990s following a popular campaign against the violence they generated, especially against Filipino women. She declared China’s claim on the Spratly Islands – which lie more than 7,500 miles from the United States – a threat to US “national security” and to “freedom of navigation”.

Handed millions of dollars in arms and military equipment, the then government of President Benigno Aquino broke off bilateral talks with China and signed a secretive Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement with the US. This established five rotating US bases and restored a hated colonial provision that American forces and contractors were immune from Philippine law.

The election of Rodrigo Duterte in April has unnerved Washington. Calling himself a socialist, he declared, “In our relations with the world, the Philippines will pursue an independent foreign policy” and noted that the United States had not apologized for its colonial atrocities. “I will break up with America,” he said, and promised to expel US troops. But the US remains in the Philippines; and joint military exercises continue.

In 2014, under the rubric of “information dominance” – the jargon for media manipulation, or fake news, on which the Pentagon spends more than $4 billion – the Obama administration launched a propaganda campaign that cast China, the world’s greatest trading nation, as a threat to “freedom of navigation”.

CNN led the way, its “national security reporter” reporting excitedly from on board a US Navy surveillance flight over the Spratlys. The BBC persuaded frightened Filipino pilots to fly a single-engine Cessna over the disputed islands “to see how the Chinese would react”. None of these reporters questioned why the Chinese were building airstrips off their own coastline, or why American military forces were massing on China’s doorstep.

The designated chief propagandist is Admiral Harry Harris, the US military commander in Asia and the Pacific. “My responsibilities,” he told the New York Times, “cover Bollywood to Hollywood, from polar bears to penguins.”  Never was imperial domination described as pithily.

Harris is one of a brace of Pentagon admirals and generals briefing selected, malleable journalists and broadcasters, with the aim of justifying a threat as specious as that with which George W Bush and Tony Blair justified the destruction of Iraq and much of the Middle East.

In Los Angeles in September, Harris declared he was “ready to confront a revanchist Russia and an assertive China …If we have to fight tonight, I don’t want it to be a fair fight. If it’s a knife fight, I want to bring a gun. If it’s a gun fight, I want to bring in the artillery … and all our partners with their artillery.”

These “partners” include South Korea, the launch pad for the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, known as THAAD, ostensibly aimed at North Korea.  As Professor Postol points out, it targets China.

In Sydney, Australia, Harris called on China to “tear down its Great Wall in the South China Sea”. The imagery was front page news. Australia is America’s most obsequious “partner”; its political elite, military, intelligence agencies and the media are integrated into what is known as the “alliance”. Closing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the motorcade of a visiting American government “dignitary” is not uncommon.  The war criminal Dick Cheney was afforded this honour.

Although China is Australia’s biggest trader, on which much of the national economy relies, “confronting China” is the diktat from Washington. The few political dissenters in Canberra risk McCarthyite smears in the Murdoch press. “You in Australia are with us come what may,” said one of the architects of the Vietnam war, McGeorge Bundy. One of the most important US bases is Pine Gap near Alice Springs. Founded by the CIA, it spies on China and all of Asia, and is a vital contributor to Washington’s murderous war by drone in the Middle East.

In October, Richard Marles, the defence spokesman of the main Australian opposition party, the Labor Party, demanded that “operational decisions” in provocative acts against China be left to military commanders in the South China Sea. In other words, a decision that could mean war with a nuclear power should not be taken by an elected leader or a parliament but by an admiral or a general.

This is the Pentagon line, a historic departure for any state calling itself a democracy. The ascendancy of the Pentagon in Washington – which Daniel Ellsberg has called a silent coup — is reflected in the record $5 trillion America has spent on aggressive wars since 9/11, according to a study by Brown University. The million dead in Iraq and the flight of 12 million refugees from at least four countries are the consequence.

The Japanese island of Okinawa has 32 military installations, from which Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq have been attacked by the United States. Today, the principal target is China, with whom Okinawans have close cultural and trade ties.

There are military aircraft constantly in the sky over Okinawa; they sometimes crash into homes and schools. People cannot sleep, teachers cannot teach. Wherever they go in their own country, they are fenced in and told to keep out.

A popular Okinawan anti-base movement has been growing since a 12-year-old girl was gang-raped by US troops in 1995. It was one of hundreds of such crimes, many of them never prosecuted. Barely acknowledged in the wider world, the resistance has seen the election of Japan’s first anti-base governor, Takeshi Onaga, and presented an unfamiliar hurdle to the Tokyo government and the ultra-nationalist prime minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to repeal Japan’s “peace constitution”.

The resistance includes Fumiko Shimabukuro, aged 87, a survivor of the Second World War when a quarter of Okinawans died in the American invasion. Fumiko and hundreds of others took refuge in beautiful Henoko Bay, which she is now fighting to save. The US wants to destroy the bay in order to extend runways for its bombers. “We have a choice,” she said, “silence or life.” As we gathered peacefully outside the US base, Camp Schwab, giant Sea Stallion helicopters hovered over us for no reason other than to intimidate.

Across the East China Sea lies the Korean island of Jeju, a semi- tropical sanctuary  and World Heritage Site declared “an island of world peace”. On this island of world peace has been built one of the most provocative military bases in the world, less than 400 miles from Shanghai. The fishing village of Gangjeong is dominated by a South Korean naval base purpose-built for US aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile system, aimed at China.

A people’s resistance to these war preparations has been a presence on Jeju for almost a decade. Every day, often twice a day, villagers, Catholic priests and supporters from all over the world stage a religious mass that blocks the gates of the base. In a country where political demonstrations are often banned, unlike powerful religions, the tactic has produced an inspiring spectacle.

One of the leaders, Father Mun Jeong-hyeon, told me, “I sing four songs every day at the base, regardless of the weather. I sing in typhoons — no exception. To build this base, they destroyed the environment, and the life of the villagers, and we should be a witness to that. They want to rule the Pacific. They want to make China isolated in the world. They want to be emperor of the world.”

I flew from Jeju to Shanghai for the first time in more than a generation. When I was last in China, the loudest noise I remember was the tinkling of bicycle bells; Mao Zedong had recently died, and the cities seemed dark places, in which foreboding and expectation competed.  Within a few years, Deng Xiopeng, the “man who changed China”, was the “paramount leader”. Nothing prepared me for the astonishing changes today.

China presents exquisite ironies, not least the house in Shanghai where Mao and his comrades secretly founded the Communist Party of China in 1921. Today, it stands in the heart of a very capitalist shipping district; you walk out of this communist shrine with your Little Red Book and your plastic bust of Mao into the embrace of Starbucks, Apple, Cartier, Prada.

Would Mao be shocked? I doubt it. Five years before his great revolution in 1949, he sent this secret message to Washington. “China must industrialise.” he wrote, “This can only be done by free enterprise. Chinese and American interests fit together, economically and politically. America need not fear that we will not be co-operative. We cannot risk any conflict.”

Mao offered to meet Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, and his successor Harry Truman, and his successor Dwight Eisenhower. He was rebuffed, or willfully ignored. The opportunity that might have changed contemporary history, prevented wars in Asia and saved countless lives was lost because the truth of these overtures was denied in 1950s Washington “when the catatonic Cold War trance,” wrote the critic James Naremore, “held our country in its rigid grip”.

The fake mainstream news that once again presents China as a threat is of the same mentality.

The world is inexorably shifting east; but the astonishing vision of Eurasia from China is barely understood in the West. The “New Silk Road” is a ribbon of trade, ports, pipelines and high-speed trains all the way to Europe.  The world’s leader in rail technology, China is negotiating with 28 countries for routes on which trains will reach up to 400 kms an hour. This opening to the world has the approval of much of humanity and, along the way, is uniting China and Russia.

 “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Barack Obama, evoking the fetishism of the 1930s. This modern cult of superiority is Americanism, the world’s dominant predator. Under the liberal Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, nuclear warhead spending has risen higher than under any president since the end of the Cold War. A mini nuclear weapon is planned. Known as the B61 Model 12, it will mean, says General James Cartwright, former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that “going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable”.

In September, the Atlantic Council, a mainstream US geopolitical thinktank, published a report that predicted a Hobbesian world “marked by the breakdown of order, violent extremism [and] an era of perpetual war”. The new enemies were a “resurgent” Russia and an “increasingly aggressive” China.  Only heroic America can save us.

There is a demented quality about this war mongering. It is as if the “American Century” — proclaimed in 1941 by the American imperialist Henry Luce, owner of Time magazine — has ended without notice and no one has had the courage to tell the emperor to take his guns and go home.

https://newint.org/

 www.johnpilger.com

John Pilger’s film, The Coming War on China, is released in UK cinemas and will be broadcast on the ITV Network on December 6 at 10.40 pm. RT Documentaries will broadcast The Coming War on China worldwide on December 9, 10 & 11. The Australian release will be early 2017 on SBS Television. 

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When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open.

At a quarter past eight on the morning of 6 August, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, “disappeared”, a political embarrassment.

I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency.  The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are in the northern hemisphere, on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is buried and distorted: a drumbeat of mainstream fake news that echoes the psychopathic fear embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.

Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an “existential threat” to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.

To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a “pivot to Asia”, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020. Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, “the perfect noose”.

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled, War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable.  Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the cold war when RAND made notorious the catch cry of its chief strategist, Herman Kahn — “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

Today, his apocalyptic view is shared by those holding real power in the United States: the militarists and neo-conservatives in the executive, the Pentagon, the intelligence and “national security” establishment and Congress.

The current Secretary of Defense, Ashley Carter, a verbose provocateur, says US policy is to confront those “who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us”.

For all the attempts to detect a departure in foreign policy, this is almost certainly the view of Donald Trump, whose abuse of China during the election campaign included that of “rapist” of the American economy. On 2 December, in a direct provocation of China, President-elect Trump spoke to the President of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province of the mainland. Armed with American missiles, Taiwan is an enduring flashpoint between Washington and Beijing.

“The United States,” wrote Amitai Etzioni, professor of international Affairs at George Washington University, “is preparing for a war with China, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress.”  This war would begin with a “blinding attack against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers … satellite and anti-satellite weapons”.

The incalculable risk is that “deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by the Chinese as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into ‘a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma’ [that would] lead to nuclear war.”

In 2015, the Pentagon released its Law of War Manual. “The United States,” it says, “has not accepted a treaty rule that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons per se, and thus nuclear weapons are lawful weapons for the United States.”

In China, a strategist told me, “We are not your enemy, but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay.”  China’s military and arsenal are small compared to America’s. However, “for the first time,” wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack … This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy … Indeed, the nuclear weapon policies of the United States are the most prominent external factor influencing Chinese advocates for raising the alert level of China’s nuclear forces.”

Professor Ted Postol was scientific adviser to the head of US naval operations. An authority on nuclear weapons, he told me, “Everybody here wants to look like they’re tough. See I got to be tough … I’m not afraid of doing anything military, I’m not afraid of threatening; I’m a hairy-chested gorilla. And we have gotten into a state, the United States has gotten into a situation where there’s a lot of sabre-rattling, and it’s really being orchestrated from the top.”

I said, “This seems incredibly dangerous.”

In 2015, in considerable secrecy, the US staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War. This was Talisman Sabre; an armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an “Air-Sea Battle Concept for China” – ASB — blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

It is such a provocation, and the fear of a US Navy blockade, that has seen China feverishly building strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.  Last July, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s claim of sovereignty over these islands. Although the action was brought by the Philippines, it was presented by leading American and British lawyers and could be traced to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 2010, Clinton flew to Manila. She demanded that America’s former colony reopen the US military bases closed down in the 1990s following a popular campaign against the violence they generated, especially against Filipino women. She declared China’s claim on the Spratly Islands – which lie more than 7,500 miles from the United States – a threat to US “national security” and to “freedom of navigation”.

Handed millions of dollars in arms and military equipment, the then government of President Benigno Aquino broke off bilateral talks with China and signed a secretive Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement with the US. This established five rotating US bases and restored a hated colonial provision that American forces and contractors were immune from Philippine law.

The election of Rodrigo Duterte in April has unnerved Washington. Calling himself a socialist, he declared, “In our relations with the world, the Philippines will pursue an independent foreign policy” and noted that the United States had not apologized for its colonial atrocities. “I will break up with America,” he said, and promised to expel US troops. But the US remains in the Philippines; and joint military exercises continue.

In 2014, under the rubric of “information dominance” – the jargon for media manipulation, or fake news, on which the Pentagon spends more than $4 billion – the Obama administration launched a propaganda campaign that cast China, the world’s greatest trading nation, as a threat to “freedom of navigation”.

CNN led the way, its “national security reporter” reporting excitedly from on board a US Navy surveillance flight over the Spratlys. The BBC persuaded frightened Filipino pilots to fly a single-engine Cessna over the disputed islands “to see how the Chinese would react”. None of these reporters questioned why the Chinese were building airstrips off their own coastline, or why American military forces were massing on China’s doorstep.

The designated chief propagandist is Admiral Harry Harris, the US military commander in Asia and the Pacific. “My responsibilities,” he told the New York Times, “cover Bollywood to Hollywood, from polar bears to penguins.”  Never was imperial domination described as pithily.

Harris is one of a brace of Pentagon admirals and generals briefing selected, malleable journalists and broadcasters, with the aim of justifying a threat as specious as that with which George W Bush and Tony Blair justified the destruction of Iraq and much of the Middle East.

In Los Angeles in September, Harris declared he was “ready to confront a revanchist Russia and an assertive China …If we have to fight tonight, I don’t want it to be a fair fight. If it’s a knife fight, I want to bring a gun. If it’s a gun fight, I want to bring in the artillery … and all our partners with their artillery.”

These “partners” include South Korea, the launch pad for the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, known as THAAD, ostensibly aimed at North Korea.  As Professor Postol points out, it targets China.

In Sydney, Australia, Harris called on China to “tear down its Great Wall in the South China Sea”. The imagery was front page news. Australia is America’s most obsequious “partner”; its political elite, military, intelligence agencies and the media are integrated into what is known as the “alliance”. Closing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the motorcade of a visiting American government “dignitary” is not uncommon.  The war criminal Dick Cheney was afforded this honour.

Although China is Australia’s biggest trader, on which much of the national economy relies, “confronting China” is the diktat from Washington. The few political dissenters in Canberra risk McCarthyite smears in the Murdoch press. “You in Australia are with us come what may,” said one of the architects of the Vietnam war, McGeorge Bundy. One of the most important US bases is Pine Gap near Alice Springs. Founded by the CIA, it spies on China and all of Asia, and is a vital contributor to Washington’s murderous war by drone in the Middle East.

In October, Richard Marles, the defence spokesman of the main Australian opposition party, the Labor Party, demanded that “operational decisions” in provocative acts against China be left to military commanders in the South China Sea. In other words, a decision that could mean war with a nuclear power should not be taken by an elected leader or a parliament but by an admiral or a general.

This is the Pentagon line, a historic departure for any state calling itself a democracy. The ascendancy of the Pentagon in Washington – which Daniel Ellsberg has called a silent coup — is reflected in the record $5 trillion America has spent on aggressive wars since 9/11, according to a study by Brown University. The million dead in Iraq and the flight of 12 million refugees from at least four countries are the consequence.

The Japanese island of Okinawa has 32 military installations, from which Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq have been attacked by the United States. Today, the principal target is China, with whom Okinawans have close cultural and trade ties.

There are military aircraft constantly in the sky over Okinawa; they sometimes crash into homes and schools. People cannot sleep, teachers cannot teach. Wherever they go in their own country, they are fenced in and told to keep out.

A popular Okinawan anti-base movement has been growing since a 12-year-old girl was gang-raped by US troops in 1995. It was one of hundreds of such crimes, many of them never prosecuted. Barely acknowledged in the wider world, the resistance has seen the election of Japan’s first anti-base governor, Takeshi Onaga, and presented an unfamiliar hurdle to the Tokyo government and the ultra-nationalist prime minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to repeal Japan’s “peace constitution”.

The resistance includes Fumiko Shimabukuro, aged 87, a survivor of the Second World War when a quarter of Okinawans died in the American invasion. Fumiko and hundreds of others took refuge in beautiful Henoko Bay, which she is now fighting to save. The US wants to destroy the bay in order to extend runways for its bombers. “We have a choice,” she said, “silence or life.” As we gathered peacefully outside the US base, Camp Schwab, giant Sea Stallion helicopters hovered over us for no reason other than to intimidate.

Across the East China Sea lies the Korean island of Jeju, a semi- tropical sanctuary  and World Heritage Site declared “an island of world peace”. On this island of world peace has been built one of the most provocative military bases in the world, less than 400 miles from Shanghai. The fishing village of Gangjeong is dominated by a South Korean naval base purpose-built for US aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile system, aimed at China.

A people’s resistance to these war preparations has been a presence on Jeju for almost a decade. Every day, often twice a day, villagers, Catholic priests and supporters from all over the world stage a religious mass that blocks the gates of the base. In a country where political demonstrations are often banned, unlike powerful religions, the tactic has produced an inspiring spectacle.

One of the leaders, Father Mun Jeong-hyeon, told me, “I sing four songs every day at the base, regardless of the weather. I sing in typhoons — no exception. To build this base, they destroyed the environment, and the life of the villagers, and we should be a witness to that. They want to rule the Pacific. They want to make China isolated in the world. They want to be emperor of the world.”

I flew from Jeju to Shanghai for the first time in more than a generation. When I was last in China, the loudest noise I remember was the tinkling of bicycle bells; Mao Zedong had recently died, and the cities seemed dark places, in which foreboding and expectation competed.  Within a few years, Deng Xiopeng, the “man who changed China”, was the “paramount leader”. Nothing prepared me for the astonishing changes today.

China presents exquisite ironies, not least the house in Shanghai where Mao and his comrades secretly founded the Communist Party of China in 1921. Today, it stands in the heart of a very capitalist shipping district; you walk out of this communist shrine with your Little Red Book and your plastic bust of Mao into the embrace of Starbucks, Apple, Cartier, Prada.

Would Mao be shocked? I doubt it. Five years before his great revolution in 1949, he sent this secret message to Washington. “China must industrialise.” he wrote, “This can only be done by free enterprise. Chinese and American interests fit together, economically and politically. America need not fear that we will not be co-operative. We cannot risk any conflict.”

Mao offered to meet Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, and his successor Harry Truman, and his successor Dwight Eisenhower. He was rebuffed, or willfully ignored. The opportunity that might have changed contemporary history, prevented wars in Asia and saved countless lives was lost because the truth of these overtures was denied in 1950s Washington “when the catatonic Cold War trance,” wrote the critic James Naremore, “held our country in its rigid grip”.

The fake mainstream news that once again presents China as a threat is of the same mentality.

The world is inexorably shifting east; but the astonishing vision of Eurasia from China is barely understood in the West. The “New Silk Road” is a ribbon of trade, ports, pipelines and high-speed trains all the way to Europe.  The world’s leader in rail technology, China is negotiating with 28 countries for routes on which trains will reach up to 400 kms an hour. This opening to the world has the approval of much of humanity and, along the way, is uniting China and Russia.

 “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Barack Obama, evoking the fetishism of the 1930s. This modern cult of superiority is Americanism, the world’s dominant predator. Under the liberal Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, nuclear warhead spending has risen higher than under any president since the end of the Cold War. A mini nuclear weapon is planned. Known as the B61 Model 12, it will mean, says General James Cartwright, former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that “going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable”.

In September, the Atlantic Council, a mainstream US geopolitical thinktank, published a report that predicted a Hobbesian world “marked by the breakdown of order, violent extremism [and] an era of perpetual war”. The new enemies were a “resurgent” Russia and an “increasingly aggressive” China.  Only heroic America can save us.

There is a demented quality about this war mongering. It is as if the “American Century” — proclaimed in 1941 by the American imperialist Henry Luce, owner of Time magazine — has ended without notice and no one has had the courage to tell the emperor to take his guns and go home.

https://newint.org/

 www.johnpilger.com

John Pilger’s film, The Coming War on China, is released in UK cinemas and will be broadcast on the ITV Network on December 6 at 10.40 pm. RT Documentaries will broadcast The Coming War on China worldwide on December 9, 10 & 11. The Australian release will be early 2017 on SBS Television. 

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