Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan.

Both right wings of the US war party pose an unparalleled threat to world peace, stability, security, and humanity’s survival.

The rhetoric of each wing differs, the agenda the same, notably since the neoliberal 90s, especially post-9/11.

Not a dime’s worth of difference separates each wing on war and peace, corporate favoritism, neoliberal harshness, and police state crackdowns on nonbelievers.

Democracy in America is for the privileged few alone, the real thing serving everyone equitably nonexistent from inception.

US exceptionalism, the indispensable state, and moral superiority don’t exist, never did.

Permanent war on humanity is undeclared official US policy. Deterrence is code language for waging it, wanting pro-Western puppet rule replacing sovereign independent governments everywhere.

That’s what the scourge of imperialism is all about, promoted by Big Lies and deception, supported by establishment media, most Americans none the wiser about the threat to their lives, welfare, and futures.

On Monday at the right wing Hoover Institute, Pompeo said Trump and his regime’s national security team prioritize “deterrence” — code language for endless hot wars and by other means on humanity, notably against nations on the US target list for regime change, especially Russia, China and Iran.

Separately, US war secretary Esper falsely claimed the US has legal authority to attack Iran under the Constitution’s Article 2. No such authority exists.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, the so-called War Powers Clause, vests in Congress alone the power to declare war, stating:

“The Congress shall have power…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water…To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years…”

The Constitution affords the president no power to wage war without congressional approval.

Since establishment of the UN Charter, warmaking by one nation on others is unlawful without Security Council authorization, permitted only in self-defense, never preemptively.

Under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, international laws to which the US is a signatory are automatically constitutional law.

No presidential directive in any form or congressional legislation may legally circumvent international law.

The Security Council has exclusive authority on issues of war and peace.

On Monday, Esper falsely claimed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Resolution (AUMF – Sept. 2001) permits the US to attack its enemies — invented not real, he failed to explain.

So-called Iranian “proxies” he cited are self-defense forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, not aggressors like the US and its “proxies.”

Throughout the post-WW II era, especially post-9/11, the US attacked one country after another preemptively, never in self-defense, what naked aggression is all about, the highest of high crimes.

No nations or elements therein today threaten US national security. Claims otherwise reflect willful deception, a way to justify what’s unjustifiable, to defend the indefensible.

Esper falsely claimed Iranian General Soleimani was killed because he had “the blood of hundreds of American soldiers and Marines on his hands (sic).”

Pompeo called his assassination an act of “deterrence (sic),” earlier saying he posed an “imminent threat (sic),” citing other reasons, then changing the narrative.

Soleimani may have been killed on January 3 because of his success in combatting the scourge of ISIS it appears the Trump regime intends resurrecting in Iraq as a pretext for continued occupation of the country.

Nations on the US target list for regime change wage peace, not war — notably Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Syria, its forces combatting the scourge of US supported terrorists. Pentagon troops illegally occupying its territory assure endless war.

The US and its imperial allies threaten humanity, waging hot war and by other means worldwide to control other nations, their resources and populations.

One day the US will go the way of all other empires in history, self-destroyed by its endless wars, arrogance, and unwillingness to change.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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Passing the Point of No Return, Is A World War Upon Us?

January 15th, 2020 by Timothy Alexander Guzman

War is inevitable. More innocent people will be murdered, maimed, raped or sold into slavery. War is indescribable, a nightmare, yet those who are currently in power, the establishment or what some like to call “the elite” are on Trump’s team leading the world into another war In the Middle East that can go nuclear.

Trump has not drained the swamp, in fact he has filled his administration with war hawks, bankers, Zionists and the Neoconservatives (Neocons) who are all inter-connected to various corporations and special interests. It was reported by NBC news that Trump had actually approved the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani several months ago

“President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran’s increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials. The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, officials said.”

Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, a popular figure among Muslims and Christians who fought against ISIS, Al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq was the powder keg that has exploded in the Middle East and now there is no turning back. Real terrorists were actually celebrating the death of Soleimani.

RT news reported that

“the weekly Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) newspaper Al-Naba portrayed Soleimani’s death as an act of god in support of its cause, and Muslims in general, according to BBC Monitoring.”

What was interesting was that “an editorial in the jihadi paper was careful not to credit the US or even mention Soleimani by name.” My guess is that terrorists know the rules, never rat on your friends! However, it’s also noteworthy to consider that the strike could lead ISIS and the other terrorist organizations to regroup as “the paper also reported on the US and its allies suspending operations against IS as an opportunity for the group’s resurgence, according to BBC journalist Mina Al-Lami.” The world will once again see a new push into Syria by ISIS and other terrorist groups with US and Israeli support in an effort to remove Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad. That is why Russian President Vladimir Putin went to Syria for talks with President Assad as reported by RT news:

The two leaders were briefed on the military situation in Syria, including the northwestern province of Idlib, occupied by militants linked to Al-Qaeda. Assad thanked Putin and Russia for their support in restoring peace in Syria. Russian troops have been assisting the Syrian army since September 2015 in battling various terrorist groups, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS)

All anti-US and anti-Israel movements from Lebanon to Iran and all the way to central Asia with Afghanistan and Pakistan are now united for one cause, and that is to end US presence in the Middle East by targeting all US bases, embassies and other installations.

I could just imagine what world leaders are thinking at this point, especially those who are in some form of conflict with Washington including Russia, China, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina, the Palestinians, Pakistan, past and re-emerging former Latin American presidents Lula de Silva of Brazil and Evo Morales of Bolivia, leaders from political, social and Indigenous movements including those within the US and occupied territories must be saying to themselves: What will America do to us? Would they drone strike me if I don’t obey them?

The Trump regime has stepped-up its economic wars with sanctions that has caused mass suffering among populations in the Middle East with Iran and Syria as their targets and in Latin America with Venezuela and don’t forget that 59 year embargo on Cuba that Trump has kept going, so Trump is already a war president. Trump is a typical example of what you would call a “Chicken hawk” a term particularly used in the US which is defined by Wikipedia as “a person who strongly supports war or other military action yet who actively avoids or avoided military service when of age.” Newsweek magazine reported that “In all, Trump secured five deferments from the Vietnam War draft, four of which were because he was still studying at college. The fifth and final deferment was granted on medical grounds after a doctor signed Trump off as having bone spurs in his heels.” The article also claimed the following:

The daughters of the late podiatrist in question, Dr. Larry Braunstein, told The New York Times that their father did it as a favor to Fred Trump, the president’s father, who owned the building in which the doctor had an office. They said the suggestion from their father in his oft-told story was that Trump did not have a foot problem that should have disqualified him from the Vietnam troop drafts, and it was not clear if the podiatrist had ever examined him

I do not know if the claims made by Newsweek or The New York Times who have credibility issues are true or not, but if Dr. Larry Braunstein did do Trump’s father a favor, then it should be of no surprise because many wealthy people especially those in the East Coast of the United States did have the right connections to pull the strings to prevent their children from getting drafted into the Vietnam war.

However, Trump has committed young men and women who mostly come from poor families to the coming war effort against Iran. Not only will US forces be fighting another war for oil and other natural resources, they will be fighting for Israel. Trump decisions concerning Israel has made his close friend and ally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu very happy because Israel needs Iran and Syria to become another Iraq. US troops will be used for the protection and expansion of Israel who will become a powerful player in the Middle East with nuclear weapons. One thing is certain, the Muslim world is not going to except that under any circumstances.

Source: author

Prepare Now, The War Has Begun

A report by the Financial Times on December 27th, 2019 ‘Russia, China and Iran Launch Gulf of Oman War Games’:

Russia, China and Iran launched their first joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman on Friday in a direct challenge to US influence in the Middle East. The move reflects growing co-operation between the US’s two main rivals and the Islamic republic, which is under sanctions imposed by Washington. 

“The most important achievement of these drills . . . is this message that the Islamic republic of Iran cannot be isolated,” vice-admiral Gholamreza Tahani, a deputy naval commander, said. “These exercises show that relations between Iran, Russia and China have reached a new high level while this trend will continue in the coming years” 

After Trump’s reckless strike against Soleimani, Russia and China quickly condemned the actions. It was reported by RT news that “Moscow considers the operation “an adventurous move that will lead to an escalation of tension throughout the region.” China’s response was similar. CNBC reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said that “China opposes the use of force in international relations” and that “Military means will lead nowhere. Maximum pressure won’t work either. China urges the U.S. to seek resolutions through dialogue instead of abusing force.”China will be monitoring the crisis very closely “China will continue to uphold an objective and just position and play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and security in the Gulf region of the Middle East.“ Trump and the neoconservatives have now escalated tensions in the Middle East and in almost every region in the world with economic sanctions, failed coup attempts on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and the other coup that succeeded in Bolivia. The Trump regime also managed to instigate a trade war with China while funding protests in Hong Kong to create instability in Asia and the list goes on.

A new resistance has become a reality in the Middle East that will eventually force US troops out of the region. Expect more anti-war protests to grow substantially across the world as the US and its allies become more aggressive. The US economy is also collapsing, putting its own national security at risk with a $22 trillion in debt because let’s face it, when the US economy collapses, all of the debt bubbles will pop and all hell will break out across the US. However, Trump proudly tweeted that “The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!” There is a new neoconservative movement within the Trump White House driving foreign policy in the Middle East with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice-President Mike Pence leading the charge thus bringing back the memories of the Bush Neocons.  Let’s go back to an interesting Christian Science Monitor article from 2003 which can also be found on Global Research that describes what the Neocons believe in. The article ‘Neocon 101: What do Neoconservatives Believe?’ said the following:

What does a neoconservative dream world look like? Neocons envision a world in which the United States is the unchallenged superpower, immune to threats. They believe that the US has a responsibility to act as a “benevolent global hegemon.” In this capacity, the US would maintain an empire of sorts by helping to create democratic, economically liberal governments in place of “failed states” or oppressive regimes they deem threatening to the US or its interests. In the neocon dream world the entire Middle East would be democratized in the belief that this would eliminate a prime breeding ground for terrorists. This approach, they claim, is not only best for the US; it is best for the world. In their view, the world can only achieve peace through strong US leadership backed with credible force, not weak treaties to be disrespected by tyrants.  

Any regime that is outwardly hostile to the US and could pose a threat would be confronted aggressively, not “appeased” or merely contained. The US military would be reconfigured around the world to allow for greater flexibility and quicker deployment to hot spots in the Middle East, as well as Central and Southeast Asia. The US would spend more on defense, particularly for high-tech, precision weaponry that could be used in preemptive strikes. It would work through multilateral institutions such as the United Nations when possible, but must never be constrained from acting in its best interests whenever necessary

In an important note, neoconservative ideology is not limited to the Republicans. Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept published a report in 2017 titled ‘With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons’ pointed out that “one of the most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons.” The report continued:

A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.” 

It is, in fact, the ultimate union of mainstream Democratic foreign policy officials and the world’s most militant, and militaristic, neocons. The group is led by two longtime Washington foreign policy hands, one from the establishment Democratic wing and the other a key figure among leading GOP neocons. 

The Democrat, Laura Rosenberger, served as a foreign policy adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and chief of staff to two Obama national security officials. The Republican is Jamie Fly, who spent the last four years as counselor for foreign and national security affairs to one of the Senate’s most hawkish members, Marco Rubio; prior to that, he served in various capacities in the Bush Pentagon and National Security Council 

The neocons are back in the White House, reminiscent of the Bush regime, so another war is on the table. Be prepared, for the worst is yet to come.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, Silent Crow News.

Timothy Alexander Guzman is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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The planned signing of “phase one” of a more comprehensive US-Chinese trade deal is extremely bad news for India because its chief Asian competitor is committing to gradually open up its economy and therefore become even more attractive of an investment destination by comparison, which further reduces the odds that India will recover from its relative economic slump over the past year and ever have anything even remotely resembling a credible chance to eventually compete with China on this front.

Indian Anxiety

The US and China plan to sign “phase one” of a more comprehensive trade deal on Wednesday, which has caused the rest of the world to breathe a collective sigh of relief in recent weeks that the so-called “trade war” finally appears to be over. India, however, isn’t relieved, but panicked, since the agreement portends extremely bad news for its economy. The South Asian state failed to capitalize on the “trade war” since it didn’t succeed in luring Western companies to re-offshore to its territory to assist with Prime Minister Modi’s hallmark “Make In India” program of domestic industrial development. Its economic growth even declined during this time, contrary to practically all forecasts. Macroeconomically speaking, the economy continues to grow at an impressive rate of around 5%, but that’s still less than the 7% that the IMF previously predicted. It turns out that the fundamentals of the Indian economy aren’t as sound as they’ve been deceptively portrayed over the years by the authorities, and government policy hasn’t been anywhere near as aggressive in courting foreign investment as the BJP’s base expected it to be.

Mismanaged “Multi-Alignment”

India had the prime opportunity at the height of its “economic illusion” over the past few years and in the midst of the most intense period of the “trade war” to agree to a free trade agreement with either the US or China, but it completely mismanaged its policy of so-called “multi-alignment” by clumsily attempting to play both off against the other in pursuit of better terms from one of them but ultimately ended up being left in the lurch after they eventually put aside their differences and sidelined it. There was a time when it seemed that India would commit to the Chinese-led “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership” (RCEP), but it was revealed last November during the Bangkok Summit that was supposed to herald the signing of this world’s largest-ever free trade area that New Delhi was waiting until the last minute to sneakily make some demands to China in exchange for its agreement. The People’s Republic proudly stood its ground and refused to be blackmailed by India, which is why the latter ended up dramatically walking away from the agreement and then almost immediately turned towards the US once again.

Opportunities Lost

That could have been the moment when India finally agreed to commit to a free trade deal with America, but instead its leadership thought that they could continue haggling for better terms, forgetting that America was still negotiating “phase one” of its trade deal with China at the time and also didn’t need India more than the reverse. India then reversed course and tried to revive its stalled rapprochement with China in order to probe the opportunities for rejoining RCEP or signing a bilateral free trade agreement, but that bridge had already been burned last year and Beijing wasn’t eager to rebuild it so long as New Delhi kept pressing with its demands. India is now in much worse of a negotiating position vis-a-vis the US and China than ever before because both economic superpowers realize how desperate it is to agree to a deal with one of them, yet nevertheless still not desperate enough to curtail its demanded “compromises” because it fears (whether rightly or wrongly) that failing to do so would ultimately harm its economy in the long run. Modi’s therefore in a bind, one entirely of his own making, and it’s probably going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.

Indian Isolation?

The long-term vision guiding the eventual conclusion of a comprehensive US-Chinese trade deal is for the latter’s economy to continue opening up to the world, which is in full alignment with the final goal being pursued through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). That outcome would make China even more attractive of an investment destination than India currently is, especially since the second-mentioned state’s economy is slumping faster than expected and investors are also fretting about its political stability given the ongoing month-long unrest there which shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Simply speaking, it’s much easier for the companies that have already invested in China to continue doing business there than re-offshoring to India, particularly since there’s a widespread belief that the worst of the “trade war” is now over and the People’s Republic will continue opening up its economy. They don’t have the incentive to do so, nor is India providing them with one. The country failed to attract them at what in hindsight was its best possible moment to do so over the past few years, and it proverbially seems like that ship has finally sailed into the night.

Modi’s Dilemma

India will either have to rescind the demands that it made to both economic superpowers and begrudgingly sign an agreement with one of them to the zero-sum benefit of its eventual partner or risk losing out on even more foreign investment by continuing to isolate itself from global trends. Its economy will probably continue to show impressively high growth rates in comparison to others even if those aforesaid rates continue to decline in general. It’s difficult to imagine this process being reversed after India missed its opportunity to do so last year as a result of its economic miscalculations and the utter mismanagement of its “multi-alignment” policy. Both the US and China know that India needs them more than the reverse, now more than ever, so neither of them is likely to concede any substantial “concessions” just to sign a deal for the sake of it. All of this poses a serious dilemma for the BJP since it must do something big to restore confidence in its economy, but signing a seemingly lopsided trade deal with either of them could provoke even more civil unrest considering just how furious even its own supporters were when it was still thinking about agreeing to RCEP last year.

Concluding Thoughts

The lesson to be learned is that “multi-alignment” (or “balancing” as it’s described whenever Russia practices it) can’t be sustained indefinitely and that those who follow this policy must eventually commit to one side over the other, whether economically, politically, militarily, or strategically. It’s impossible to forever retain equal relations with all contrary to whatever any country’s officials rhetorically say to the public, especially when one of the “multi-aligned”/”balanced” parties is pressing for an agreement at the expense of its rival, like the US has been trying to do vis-a-vis China with India. Failing to seize the initiative at the right moment results in exposing one’s “multi-alignment”/”balancing” policy as nothing more than a slogan for excusing ad hoc opportunism and covering up for a lack of long-term vision. India’s reputation has seriously suffered because of this and neither of the two economic superpowers will trust it the same way that they used to (at least for a while) after the goodwill that they established through their extensive negotiations was ultimately all for naught. Whichever way one looks at it, the inevitable outcome is a loss for India.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

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

Another slot of judicial history, another notch to be added to the woeful record of legal proceedings being undertaken against Julian Assange.  The ailing WikiLeaks founder was coping as well as he could, showing the resourcefulness of the desperate at his Monday hearing.  At the Westminster Magistrates Court, Assange faced a 12-minute process, an ordinary affair in which he was asked to confirm his name, an ongoing ludicrous state of affairs, and seek clarification about an aspect of the proceedings. 

Of immediate concern to the lawyers, specifically seasoned human rights advocate Gareth Peirce, was the issue that prison officers at Belmarsh have been obstructing and preventing the legal team from spending sufficient time with their client, despite the availability of empty rooms.  “We have pushed Belmarsh in every way – it is a breach of a defendant’s rights.”  Three substantial sets of documents and evidence required signing off by Assange before being submitted to the prosecution, a state of affairs distinctly impossible given the time constraints.   

A compounding problem was also cited by Peirce: the shift from moving the hearing a day forward resulted in a loss of time. “This slippage in the timetable is extremely worrying.”  Whether this shows indifference to protocol or malice on the part of prosecuting authorities is hard to say, but either way, justice is being given a good flaying.

The argument carried sufficient weight with District Judge Vanessa Baraitser to result in an adjournment till 2 pm in the afternoon, but this had more to do with logistics than any broader principle of conviction.  As Baraitser reasoned, 47 people were currently in custody at court; a mere eight rooms were available for interviewing, leaving an additional hour to the day.  In her view, if Assange was sinned against, so was everybody else, given that others in custody should not be prevented from access to counsel. (This judge has a nose for justice, albeit using it selectively.) 

As things stand, Peirce is aiming to finalise the exhibits for submission to the prosecution by January 18.  The government deadline for responding to those documents will be February 7.  The case proceeding itself was adjourned till January 23, and Assange will have the choice, limited as it is, of having the hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court or Belmarsh.

Supporters outside the court were also of same mind regarding the paltry amount of time awarded Assange.  The rapper M.I.A, showing how support for the publisher can at times be sketchy, managed to have a dig at the state while also acknowledging thanks from it.  (An announcement had just been made that she would be receiving an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.)  “I think it is important to follow this case.  I am off to get a medal at Buckingham Palace tomorrow and I think today is just as important.  To give somebody an hour to put their case together is not quite right.”  Assange supporters would agree with her view that, for “a case of this scale, having only access to two hours to prepare, is illegal in itself.”

The atmosphere around the proceedings has thickened of late, and the WikiLeaks argument here about CIA interference and surveillance conducted by the Spanish firm Undercover Global S.L. while Assange was in the Ecuadorean embassy in London is biting.  Prior to Christmas he gave testimony to Spanish judge Jose de la Mata claiming he was not aware that cameras installed by the company in the Ecuadorean embassy were also capturing audio details.    

Leaving aside the broader issues of free speech, an argument has been made that CIA meddling might well be the fly in the ointment that impairs the prosecution’s case.  This might be wishful thinking, but this is a line of inquiry worth pursuing.  The WikiLeaks legal team is keen to press the matter in February during the extradition hearing.

In the well-considered view of James C. Goodale, former Vice Chairman and General Counsel for The New York Times, “After reading El Pais’s series, you would have to be a dunce not to believe the CIA didn’t monitor Assange’s every move at the Ecuadorean embassy, including trips to the bathroom.” 

Goodale cites the Pentagon Papers case as an example that the defence may well draw upon.  Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked classified Pentagon reports to The Washington Post and The New York Times, had the office of his psychiatrist broken into by President Richard Nixon’s notorious “plumbers”, led by former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt.  The conscience stricken analyst was also facing charges under the Espionage Act of 1917.  When it came to the trial judge’s attention that government misconduct, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a government official had characterised the entire effort against the whistleblower, the case was dismissed with prejudice.  Ellsberg’s treatment had “offended a sense of justice” and “incurably infected the prosecution”.

As with Assange, the footprint of the CIA in Ellsberg’s case was far from negligible.  It assisted in the muddled break-in.  It penned a clumsy psychiatric profile of Ellsberg and assembled a full identification ensemble for the plumbers: Social Security cards, disguises, drivers’ licenses, speech alternation devices.  As Goodale rhetorically poses, “Can anything be more offensive to a ‘sense of justice’ than an unlimited surveillance, particularly of lawyer-client conversations, livestreamed to the opposing party in a criminal case?”  It remains for the British courts to consider whether that degree of offensiveness has been achieved in this case.

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

Featured image is from 21st Century Wire

By the series of actions in recent months in Iraq and across the Middle East, Washington has forced a strategic shift towards China and to an extent Russia and away from the United States. If events continue on the present trajectory it can well be that a main reason that Washington backed the destabilization of Assad in Syria, to block a planned Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, will now happen, short of Washington initiating a full scorched earth politics in the region. This is what we can call unintended consequences.

If nature abhors a vacuum, so too does geopolitics. When President Trump months ago announced plans to pull US troops out of Syria and the Middle East generally, Russia and especially China began quietly to intensify contacts with key states in the region.

Chinese involvement with Iraqi oil development and other infrastructure projects, though large, was significantly disrupted by the ISIS occupation of some one third of Iraqi territory. In September, 2019 Washington demanded that Iraq pay for completion of key infrastructure projects destroyed by the ISIS war– a war where Washington as well as Ankara, Israel and Saudi Arabia played the key hidden role—by giving the US government 50% of Iraqi oil revenues, an outrageous demand to put it politely.

Iraq China Pivot

Iraq refused. Instead Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi went to Beijing as head of a 55-member delegation to discuss Chinese involvement in the rebuilding of Iraq. This visit did not go unnoticed in Washington. Even before that, Iraqi-China ties were significant. China was Iraq’s number one trading partner and Iraq was China’s third-leading source of oil after Saudi Arabia and Russia. In April 2019 in Baghdad, China’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations Lee Joon said China was ready to contribute to Iraq’s reconstruction.

For Abdul-Mahdi the Beijing trip was a major success; he called it a “quantum jump” in relations. The visit saw the signing of eight wide-ranging memoranda of understanding (MoUs), a framework credit agreement, and the announcement of plans for Iraq to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It included Chinese involvement in rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure as well as developing Iraqi oilfields. For both countries an apparent “win-win” as the Chinese like to say.

It was only a matter of days after the Beijing talks of Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi that nationwide protests against Iraqi government corruption and economic policies broke out, led by opposition cries that Abdul-Mahdi resign. Reuters witnessed snipers carefully fanning the violent protest firing on the protesters giving the impression of government repression much as the CIA did in Maidan in Kiev in February 2014 or in Cairo in 2011.

There is now strong evidence that the China talks and the timing of the spontaneous October 2019 protests against the Abdul-Mahdi government were connected. The Trump Administration is the link. According to a report by Federico Pieraccini, “Abdul-Medhi made a speech to Parliament speaking about how the Americans had ruined the country and now refused to complete infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless they were promised 50% of oil revenues, which Abdul-Mehdi refused.” He then quotes sections of Abdul-Mahdi’s speech translated from Arabic: “This is why I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to ask me to reject this agreement. When I refused, he threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership. Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine snipers on tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me. I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.”

Now the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, just as he landed in Baghdad reportedly on a mediation mission with Saudi Arabia via Abdul-Mahdi, has thrown the entire region into political chaos amid talk of possible World War III. The soft Iranian “retaliation” missile firings on US bases in Iraq and the surprise admission by Teheran that they accidentally downed a Ukrainian commercial airline as if left Teheran, all amid reports that Trump and Rouhani were in back channel secret talks to calm things down, leave many scratching their heads as to what is really going on.

Quiet ‘silk’ inroads

One thing is clear. Beijing is looking at its prospects, along with Russia to replace the domination of Iraqi politics that Washington has held since its 2003 war of occupation. OilPrice.com reports that beginning October just after Abdul-Mahdi’s successful Beijing talks, Iraq started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries. According to Iraqi oil ministry sources, China will build its influence in Iraq by beginning with oil and gas investments and from there building infrastructure including factories and railways using Chinese companies and personnel along with Iraqi labor. The Chinese-built factories will use the same assembly lines and structure to be integrated with similar factories in China.

Iran’s Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri has announced that Iran signed a contract with China to implement a project to electrify the main 900 kilometer railway connecting Tehran to the north-eastern city of Mashhad near the border to Turkmenistan and to Afghanistan. Jahangiri added that there are also plans to establish a Tehran-Qom-Isfahan high-speed train line and to extend this up to the north-west through Tabriz. OilPrice notes, “Tabriz, home to a number of key sites relating to oil, gas, and petrochemicals, and the starting point for the Tabriz-Ankara gas pipeline, will be a pivot point of the 2,300 kilometre New Silk Road that links Urumqi (the capital of China’s western Xinjiang Province) to Tehran, and connecting Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan along the way, and then via Turkey into Europe. Once the plans for this are making substantial progress then China will extend the transport links into Iraq to the West.”

Additionally, according to Iraq’s Electricity Minister Louay al-Khateeb, “China is our primary option as a strategic partner in the long run…We started with a US$10 billion financial framework for a limited quantity of oil to finance some infrastructure projects…[but] Chinese funding tends to increase with the growing Iraqi oil production.” That is, the more Iraqi oil China extracts the more Iraqi projects it can finance. Today Iraq is dependent on Iran for gas to serve its electric generators owing to lack of gas infrastructure. China says it will change that.

Further the oil industry source states that Russia and China are quietly preparing the ground to relaunch the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline from Iran’s huge Persian Gulf South Pars gas field it shares with Qatar. A US-backed proxy war began against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in 2011 just after he signed a deal with Iran and Iraq to build the pipeline, rejecting an earlier Qatar proposal for an alternative route. Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar poured billions of covert funds to finance terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and later ISIS in a vain effort to topple Assad.

China is not alone in its efforts in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, as erratic and unpredictable US foreign policy drives former US allies away. Russia, which just brokered a ceasefire in Libya along with Turkey’s Erdogan, just offered to sell its advanced S-400 Triumf air defense system to Iraq, an offer that would have been unthinkable even weeks ago. With Iraqi parliamentarians voting to demand all foreign troops, including US and Iranian, leave Iraq in the wake of the brazen US assassination of Soleimani in Baghdad, it is conceivable Baghdad would accept the offer at this point, despite protest from Washington. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, have all be in discussions with Russia in recent months to buy the Russian defense system, said to be the world’s most effective. Turkey has already purchased it.

Before the US assassination of Soleimani, there were numerous back-channel efforts for détente in the costly wars that have raged across the region since the US-instigated Arab Spring between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran and Iraq. Russia and China have both in different ways been playing a key role in changing the geopolitical tensions. At this juncture the credibility of Washington as any honest partner is effectively zero if not minus.

The temporary calm following Iran’s admission of shooting down the Ukraine airliner in no way suggests Washington will go quietly. Trump and his Defense Secretary Esper have defiantly rejected the call to pull US troops from Iraq. The US president just tweeted his support for renewed anti-government Iran protests, in Farsi. We are clearly in for some very nasty trouble in the Middle East as Washington tries to deal with the unintended consequences of its recent Middle East actions.

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

Featured image is from NEO


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Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

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

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

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

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

This is an international appeal by professional astronomers open for subscription to ask for an intervention from institutions and governments.

To sign/subscribe follow this link.

Astronomical observations from the ground can be greatly harmed by the ongoing deployment of large satellite fleets in preparation for the next generation of telecommunications.

For centuries the astronomical observations from the ground have led to exceptional progress in our scientific understanding of the Laws of Nature. Currently, the capability of astronomical instrumentation from the ground is endangered by the deployment of satellites fleets.

Through this international appeal and following the same concerns expressed by the International Astronomical Union, IAU [1] and other institutions, we raise a formal request for greater effective protection and safeguard for professional astronomical observations from the ground, guaranteeing the right to observe a sky free from unnecessary artificial polluting sources.

In particular, all the signers, astronomers and collaborators wish to manifest humanly and personally their worry and contrariety to the sky coverage produced by artificial satellites, which represent a dramatic degradation of the scientific content for a huge set of astronomical observations.

The sky degradation is not only due to light pollution in the sky near cities and the most populated areas, but it is also due to artificial satellite fleets crossing and scarring observations with bright parallel streaks/trails at all latitudes.

Astronomers are extremely concerned by the possibility that Earth may be blanketed by tens of thousands of satellites, which will greatly outnumber the approximately 9,000 stars that are visible to the unaided human eye. This is not some distant threat. It’s already happening. The american private company SpaceX has already put 180 of these small satellites, collectively called Starlink, in the sky and plans to constellate the whole sky with about 42,000 satellites. Thus, together with other telecommunication space projects in the near future (i.e. the English OneWeb, the Canadian Telesat, the American Amazon, Lynk and Facebook, the Russian Roscosmos and the Chinese Aerospace Science and Industry corp), there could be over 50,000 small satellites encircling the Earth for various telecommunication purposes but mainly delivering internet.

These new satellites are small, mass-produced, and orbit very close to the Earth with the intent to provide speedy internet connection with low-latency signals. But that closeness also makes them more visible, and brighter in the night sky (satellites launched by SpaceX, 180 at the present day, are brighter than 99 percent of the population of objects visible by the Earth orbit ).

The current total number of cataloged objects in Earth orbit is less than 20,000 among spacecrafts, rocket bodies, fragmented mission and other related debrids, so with only the nominal Starlink fleet the total number of orbiting objects will triple (see pictures).

In the mid and long term, this will severely diminish our view of the Universe, create more space debris, and, deprive humanity of an unblemished view of the night sky. It has been computed that most of these satellites will be visible to the naked eye (with a brightness between the 3rd and 7th magnitude, reaching the brightness of the stars in the Ursa Minor constellation (there are only 172 stars in the whole sky exceeding the expected brightness of Starlink satellites particularly in the time after sunset and before sunrise). Thus with 50k satellites the “normality” will be a sky crowded with artificial objects (every one square degree of the sky will have a satellite crawling in it along the whole observing night).

Not only observations with wide-field survey telescopes will be damaged (e.g. LSST [2] or VST [3] or Pan-STARRS [4], …), but also deep/long exposures with small-field facilities will be unavoidably impaired, see picture and [7].

Considering that large area astronomical observations and sky survey are commonly used in NEO and asteroids monitoring and research related projects to guard the Earth planet from potential impact events, such satellite constellations could negatively impact on the ability to prevent and warn the whole humankind.

Few starlink satellites visible in a mosaic of an astronomical image (NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/NSF/AURA/CTIO/DELVE)

This light pollution is extremely damaging for astronomical observations at all wavelengths. The recent attempt to use non-reflecting paint on the body (i.e. not the solar panels which represents 75% of the reflecting surface) of one of the Starlink satellites will not stop the degradation of the scientific observations for two reasons: 1) the stars and other objects in the universe will be eclipsed, therefore harming time-dependent (variability) studies, and,  2) the reflectivity of surface depends on the observational wavelength, so what becomes dark in one part of the spectrum (e.g. visible) remains bright or shines in other parts of the spectrum  (e.g. infrared or radio).

It should also be noted that during nominal service operations SpaceX expects to dismiss and replace from 2,000 to 8,000 Starlink satellites every year, disintegrating them in the lower atmosphere, with all related issues.

What is not widely acknowledged is that the development of the latest generation telecommunication networks (from space and from Earth) is going to deeply affect radio-astronomical observations (at all sub-bands).

In particular, low Earth orbit satellite’s spectral windows identified to communicate with earth stations in the Ku (12-18GHz), Ka (27-40GHz) and V (40-75GHz) bands will overlap with the nominal radio-astronomy bands and so will interfere with ground radio telescopes and radio interferometers, making the radio detectors enter in a non-linear regime in the K band (18.26.5GHz) and in Q band (33-50GHz). This fact will irreparably compromise the whole chain of analysis in those bands with repercussions on our understanding of the Universe, or even, making the astrophysics community blind to these spectral windows.

To aggravate the matter, with the current technological development, the planned density of radio frequency transmitters is impossible to envisage. In addition to millions of new commercial wireless hot spot base stations on Earth directly connected to the ~50,000 new satellites in space, will produce at least 200 billion of new transmitting objects, according to estimates, as part of the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020-2022, and one trillion of objects a few years later. Such a large number of radio-emitting objects could make radio astronomy from ground stations impossible without a real protection made by countries’ safe zones where radio astronomy facility are placed. We wish to avoid that technological development without serious control would turn radio astronomy practice into an ancient extinct science.

For all these reasons

We, astronomers subscribing to this appeal state THERE IS NO MORE TIME TO DISCUSS, IT IS TIME TO ACT!

Ask governments, institutions and agencies all around the world

  1. to be committed to provide legal protection to ground astronomical facilities in all of the available observation electromagnetic windows.
  2. to put on hold further Starlink launches (and other projects) and carry out an accurate moratorium on all technologies that can negatively impact astronomical observations from space and from the ground, or impact on the scientific, technological and economic investments that each State engages in astrophysical projects.
  3. to put in place a clear evaluation of risks and predictive impacts on astronomical observatories (i.e. loss of scientific and economic value), giving stringent guidelines to private individuals, societies and industries to plan satellite investments without clearly understanding all of the negative effects on outstanding astronomical facilities.
  4. that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and any other national agency be wary of granting permission to ship non-geostationary low-orbit  satellites into orbit or alternatively to limit the authorization of only satellites  being above the airspace of the “home country”.
  5. to demand a worldwide orchestration, where national and international astronomical agencies can impose the right of veto on all those projects that negatively interfere with astronomical outstanding facilities.
  6. to limit and regulate the number of telecommunication satellite fleets to the “strictly necessary number” and to put them in orbit only when old-outdated technology satellites are deorbited, according to the Outer Space Treaty (1967) – the Art IX [5], and the United Nations Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (2018) – guideline 2.2(c) [6], requiring the use of outer space be conducted “so as to avoid [its] harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth” and […omissis…] risks to people, property, public health and the environment associated with the launch, in-orbit operation and re-entry of space objects”.

Finally

All of these requests come from the heartfelt concern of scientists arising from threatens to be barred from accessing the full knowledge of the Cosmos and the loss of an intangible asset of immeasurable value for humanity. In this context, all co-signers of this appeal consider ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to put in place all possible measures to protect the night sky right also on the legal side. It would be desirable to adopt contingent and limiting resolutions to be ratified with shared international rules, which must be adopted by all space agencies to ensure protection for astronomical bands observable from the ground. All of this to continue to admire and study our Universe, for as long as possible.

This appeal/petition can be signed by professional Astrophysicists & Astronomers, Technologists/Engineers, Collaborators & PHD Students involved in professional astronomical observations.

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Sources

[1]  https://www.iau.org/https://www.iau.org/news/announcements/detail/ann19035/?lang

[2]  https://www.lsst.orghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_C._Rubin_Observatory

[3]  https://www.eso.org/public/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VLT_Survey_Telescope

[4]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-STARRS

[5]  https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html

[6]  https://www.unoosa.org/res/oosadoc/data/documents/2018/aac_1052018crp/aac_1052018crp_20_0_html/AC105_2018_CRP20E.pdf

[7] Simulated prediction of “only” 12k Starlink satellites in the sky: https://youtu.be/LGBuk2BTvJE and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9hQfKd9kfA

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Selected Articles

Trump Prosecutors Make Move to Ensure that Embassy Protectors Are Convicted

By Kevin Zeese, Ajamu Baraka, and Bahman Azad, January 15, 2020

As the trial approaches, the lawyers for the Trump Administration’s  prosecution of the four Venezuelan Embassy Protectors who were arrested last May are asking the court to make sure the jury is kept ignorant about the facts and circumstances surrounding the actions of the protectors.

In a recently filed motion by government lawyers, state prosecutors are seeking to severely restrict what can be discussed during the trial  scheduled for February 11, 2020. Judge Beryl Howell will hear arguments on the motion at the pre-trial hearing on January 29.

The Pentagon’s and CIA’s Power to Assassinate Americans

By Jacob G. Hornberger, January 15, 2020

Pentagon officials are assuring Americans that the Pentagon’s recent assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani will make Americans safer. There is at least one big problem with that formulation, one that, unfortunately, many Americans still don’t recognize. That problem is this: the power of assassination wielded by the Pentagon and the CIA extends to American citizens.

Why is that a problem?

Over 100 Years Ago the US Government Lied Us into World War I

By Jeff Harris, January 15, 2020

You may think “fake news” is a fairly recent development made possible by the internet and social media. But a little over 100 years ago President Woodrow Wilson created an official fake news agency to persuade the American people to support the United States entry into WWI.

But first a little perspective on what drove Wilson’s unorthodox methods.

1983 CIA Document Reveals Plan To Destroy Syria, Foreshadows Current Crisis

By Zero Hedge, January 15, 2020

Prophetically foreshadowing the current crisis (and apparent action plan), leaked CIA documents from the reign of Bashar al-Assad’s father in the 1980s show a Washington Deep State plan coalescing to “bring real muscle to bear against Syria,” toppling its leader (in favor of one amenable to US demands), severing ties with Russia (its primary arms dealer), and paving the way for an oil and gas pipeline of Washington’s choosing.

The Machines Have Us Trained for Obedience

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, January 15, 2020

Many decades ago there was an issue of Mad comics that portrayed a future time when everything was done by robots and humans had no function.  One day the system failed. As it had been eons since humans had to do anything, no one knew how to fix the system.  It was Mad comics version of Armageddon.

I think that is where the digital revolution is taking us.  I remember when appliances and cars responded to humans, and now humans respond to them.  When I grew up cars and home appliances did not go “beep-beep” to remind you of the things you were supposed to do, such as turn off the car lights and take the keys out of the ignition, or turn off the oven and shut the fridge.

Permanent War and Poverty or Widespread Truth Awareness?

By Mark Taliano, January 14, 2020

Transnational corporations impose impoverishing neoliberal diktats, the “Washington Consensus”, at home and abroad. Privatization schemes impoverish domestic populations at the expense of the public sphere. Equal access to health care and schooling is disappeared. The industrial base is delocated to vassal stooge countries where human and labour rights are largely non-existent.

Video: How and Why Iran Shot Down Ukrainian Boeing

By South Front, January 14, 2020

The Iran Air Defense Forces brought down the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 (Flight PS752) near Tehran due to “a human error”, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said in an official statement on January 11. The statement denounced the previous Iranian main version that the tragedy was a result of technical malfunction.

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Global Research strives to shine light on the under-reported, less known injustices ignored or buried.

Governments know it too, which is why there is an unprecedented threat to the independent media and the Internet. Fight-back was never more needed.

Please consider donating something, however large or small, to Global Research’s continuation.

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Brazil: From Lula to Bolsonaro

January 15th, 2020 by Eric Toussaint

I arrived in Sao Paulo, the financial and economic capital of Brazil, on the night of 14 November 2019. The city has over 12 million inhabitants. In all the districts I visited poverty is flagrant. You see homeless people living on the street with no access to sanitation of any kind and prey to the most extreme poverty. A significant number of people are undernourished. Reliable sources mention about 100,000 people who live on the streets of Sao Paulo, 25,000 of them permanently and 75,000 on a temporary basis.

I first came to Sao Paulo in December 1991 to participate in the first congress of the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores or PT) led by the former metal worker Lula. At that time Lula and the PT stood for the struggle against odious and illegitimate debt (see the interview I had with him in Managua in July 1991. He said among other things ‘Any Third World government that decides to further repay the external debt chooses to lead his people into the abyss.’).

Lula had led workers’ strikes against the dictatorship in the 1980s, and in 1988 a ‘democratic’ regime replaced the dictatorship after a transitional stage. The bases of the main trade union federation CUT (Central Única de Trabalhadores or Unified Workers’ Central), and of the new party, the PT, had been brought together during the valiant struggle against the dictatorship. The PT had been built from the bottom by activists in social movements and small very active politically radical organizations. The CUT and the PT were against repaying debt and wanted a citizens’ audit. Part of the debt had been accumulated during the military dictatorship which lasted more than 20 years, and afterwards it increased steeply during the debt crisis in the 1980s, a crisis that resulted from commodity prices plummeting while Washington had decided on a sharp increase in interest rates. More generally, the PT clearly stated that radical anti-capitalist policies had to be implemented which were to lead to the construction of a democratic socialist, self-managed and anti-bureaucratic society. This outcome stirred genuine enthusiasm in Brazil and beyond.

I went to Sao Paulo in 1991 in order to prepare Lula’s and another PT leader Marco Aurelio Garcia’s visit to Belgium at the invitation of the CADTM. The talks were to take place some ten days before Christmas 1991. Eventually for health reasons Lula couldn’t come over and was replaced by Marco Aurelio Garcia, who became president of the PT in 2006 and was Lula’s main adviser on foreign policy while Lula was president from 2003 to 2011. I met Lula four or five times from 1991 to 2003. I can remember a long discussion we had in Havana in 1993. It followed upon a meeting Lula had had with Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega. Lula explained that in order to become president of Brazil he had to neutralize US imperialism, the army and the Brazilian bourgeoisie. I understood that he meant not to thwart US strategic interests and to promise the army leadership and big capital that he would implement no measures that went against their interests. Lula told me that he would be the president of all Brazilians, as was all too often said. What I understood was that he would use his experience as a trade unionist to seal a pact between those at the bottom and those at the top, asking those at the top to concede some improvements in purchasing power (i.e. allowing the State to increase social aid with public money) while those at the bottom would accept that nothing would really change at the structural level. This is indeed what he attempted to do when he was president ten years later.

I saw him for the last time in June 2003 and stated how much I disapproved of the neoliberal reform he had introduced into the civil service pension system. The meeting occurred on the occasion of the G8 annual summit (United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Russia) in Evian on 1 and 2 June 2003. Several heads of states that did not belong to the G8 had been invited by the French president, Jacques Chirac, who wished to show that the G8, and France in particular, were open to dialogue with the rest of the world. Among those who had responded positively were President Lula of Brazil and the heads of states or governments of China, India, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Egypt and Mexico. Chirac was trying to give legitimacy to the G8, an informal club of major global powers, at a time when its credibility was in question, particularly after the brutal repression of the counter-G8 protest in Genoa in 2001. President Chirac’s guests met in Evian before the actual G8 summit meeting while over 100,000 marched through the streets of Geneva (Switzerland) and Annemasse (France) shouting ‘G8 is illegal’. Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva wanted to meet leaders of the European anti globalization movements. There were four delegates: the president of ATTAC France, a woman representative of the Italian Social Forum, a Swedish woman representative of the campaign against the WTO, and myself for the CADTM. The meeting occurred in Geneva in the residence of the Brazilian ambassador and it highlighted the gap between Lula and the international anti globalization movements (see my interview: President Lula’s “realpolitik” and the “alterglobalisation” movement).

Changes in the PT and the CUT

It should be pointed out that during the 1990s, the position of the PT and the CUT was gradually watered down. The PT won many elected officials in large cities as well as in small and medium-sized towns. In particular, the PT had mayors elected in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, where it gradually adopted a managerial orientation and lost its role as a spur to radical anti-capitalist changes. I followed this process of adaptation to the institutions of the capitalist state with great disappointment. When Lula was elected President of Brazil at the end of 2002 with a landslide 65% of the votes, he and the PT had fundamentally changed. They no longer really questioned the capitalist system and Lula signed a letter of submission to the IMF in the middle of the election campaign (in August 2002). In this letter, he solemnly declared that if elected president, he would abide strictly by the previous government’s agreements with the IMF.

Only a couple of months after his election, he introduced a neoliberal reform of retirement pensions. Lula also appointed as president of the Central Bank one of the big bosses, Henrique Meirelles, former president of one of the major US banks in Brazil, the Fleet Boston. The message was clear: a representative of the capitalist class was at the head of the Central Bank. Lula did not interfere with the army and did not suspend the amnesty extended to those officers of the dictatorship responsible for crimes against humanity. This is a major difference with Argentina where the 1986 amnesty was cancelled in 2005, which made it possible to condemn and incarcerate several military leaders including the major figures of the military dictatorship enforced in 1976. Under the Lula presidency, the Brazilian army participated in the occupation of Haiti, which was denounced by Haitian social movements. The top Brazilian military leader during the occupation of Haiti became a member of Bolsonaro’s government in 2019. Under Lula’s presidency not a single private corporation was brought back into the public sector. On the contrary, he supported the interests of private corporations that did not hesitate to bribe civil servants in order to secure procurements as was the case for the emblematic construction company Odebrecht (see Euronews, “What is the Odebrecht corruption scandal in Latin America, and who is implicated?”).

The Lula government scrupulously repaid its debts without carrying out the audit he had called for when he was in the opposition. To qualify this highly critical assessment, it should be mentioned that the Lula government developed a policy of public aid to the poorest through the distribution of social benefits under the programme entitled Bolsa Familia (family grant). This programme improved the income of more than 12 million families, i.e. about 20% of Brazil’s poorest families. Please note that the amount of aid was limited. At the time of the PT government, a family of three could receive a maximum of 50 euros. It should be noted that Bolsonaro has not stopped this programme which in 2019 benefited 13.5 million families, i.e. one fifth of Brazilian families (see this). In 2019, a poor family could receive a maximum of 200 reales per month (at the exchange rate of November 2019, that is around 40 euros). To be entitled to this grant, the family must show that its monthly income is below 89 reales (that is, 20 euros! or less than one euro a day per family).

Why did the Lula government not combat illegitimate public debt?

The Lula government did not combat illegitimate public debt because they did not want to antagonize Brazilian big capital. Questioning debt repayment as a government would have meant conflict with Brazilian big capital, which benefits largely from the debt, buying Brazil’s internal and external public debt securities. These insure a high return since interest rates are very high. Questioning debt repayment would also involve conflict with major private banks and foreign investment funds, as well as with the IMF. Lula and the PT leadership wanted to avoid such conflicts. As they gave legitimacy to the debt, continued paying it and went even further, calling on big capital to contract new public loans, the Lula government was tolerated, or even appreciated, by the bourgeoisie. All the more so as social measures that benefited people with the lowest income increased the purchasing power of the poor, which was good for capitalists’ business.

Lula’s neoliberal policies resulted in a split within the PT, with a new party emerging to its left in 2004. That party is the PSOL (Party for Socialism and Freedom).

Since 2001 I often went back to Brazil, for the large gatherings of the World Social Forums (around 100,000 people participated each time), for meetings of the WSF’s International Council of which I had been a member from the start and for meetings of social movements. There were meetings organized by the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit, a member of the CADTM’s international network. The CADTM’s international network repeatedly sent significant delegations to Brazil for WSF activities, particularly in Porto Alegre in 2005 and in Belem in 2009 (when one of the CADTM’s world assemblies was held). The political situation has changed a lot. As pointed out above, from 2003 onward, the PT clearly turned away from its revolutionary past to become a manager of the system. This eventually resulted in deep disappointment, not to say distrust, especially since several of its leaders were actively involved in major corruption cases, including Lula himself. Eventually, when the bourgeoisie felt it could manage the country without the PT’s collaboration, it exposed the party as corrupt, this while all other traditional parties are just as deeply corrupt or much more. Dilma Rousseff, the PT leader who won the 2010 presidential elections and became president of Brazil in 2011, was impeached by the Senate in 2016, in what was actually an institutional coup d’Etat (see this in French, Spanish or Portuguese). But disappointment towards the PT was so deep that the Brazilian people hardly mobilized to defend the PT and its leaders in 2016, and the right-wing vice-president Michel Temer – appointed by the PT in 2011–replaced Dilma Rousseff (PT) as president after masterminding the institutional coup.

Later, the antisocial policies implemented by President Temer, a corrupt right-wing leader, eventually stirred some popular support for Lula as a credible candidate to be reelected president in 2018. So the judiciary system, largely controlled by big capital, was relentless in its efforts to prevent Lula from running for president. Despite his imprisonment, Lula was the most likely to win and his supporters hoped that he would be able to participate in the elections. This is why the judiciary prohibited him from running and Jair Bolsonaro was elected president end of 2018 and started his mandate in early 2019; Bolsonaro is a far-right politician yearning for dictatorship (see this), a racist, sexist, homophobic, climate-change negationist. He is similar to Trump, while possibly even further to the right. His deeply reactionary and antipopular nature is beyond doubt (see this, in French or Spanish). On 21 October 2018, at the end of the election campaign, he stated that if he was elected president, he would conduct a purge “such as Brazil has never known”. He affirmed that the leaders of the Workers’ Party “must all rot in prison,” and said of the leftist movements, “they will have to submit to the law like everyone else. Either they leave or they go to jail.” Shortly after starting his mandate, he promised to remove civil servants with”communist” ideas. His election is a real tragedy for the Brazilian people and for the international left.

After Bolsonaro’s victory, a large part of the left fortunately formed a united front and demanded Lula’s liberation. They got it in early November 2019 and Lula immediately started a political campaign to win the presidential elections in 2022. This being said, we should not expect Lula to go back to the sources of the PT. His orientation remains the one that prevailed from 2003 to 2016. But he might get elected in 2022 since it is clear that Bolsonaro, if he completes his mandate, will have implemented antisocial policies that increase poverty and deepen the gap between a handful of very rich and the overwhelming majority of Brazil’s population. Obviously we need to mobilize widely against the Bolsonaro government and in spite of disagreements with the PT, we need a broad left-wing front within which the PT will play an active part.

Auditing Brazil’s debt from 2000 and Ecuador’s in 2007-2008

The Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit is an organization founded in the early 2000s. In 2000, a referendum was organized on popular initiative by the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement), the CUT, Brazil’s Jubilee South Campaign, the National Conference of Bishops (which has been positioned on the left since the years 1980-1990), with the support of the PT and more than 90 % of the 6 million Brazilians who voted were in favour of suspending debt payments for the time it took to carry out an audit to determine how much of it was illegitimate (see in Portuguese: Folha Online – Brasil – 90% dos votantes de plebiscito da CNBB pedem auditoria da dívida – 14/09/2000). There was acute awareness of the illegitimate character of Brazil’s debt in a large part of the left and the Brazilian population. Although the audit was provided for in the 1988 constitution, the government had never carried it through. After the popular referendum of September 2000, parliamentary representatives from the PT brought a draft bill to get it done. It was in the aftermath of the referendum that the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit was set up. It subsequently joined the CADTM (see the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit website, in Portuguese. See also Maria Lucia Fattorelli’s interview where she explains how the collaboration between her organization and the CADTM developed: in French, Spanish and Portuguese).

As pointed out above, as soon as Lula became president of Brazil in 2003, he forgot his commitment to set up an audit of the debt.

In 2005, during the 5th World Social Forum, the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit, the CADTM and Jubilee South, with the support of the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement), organized a three-day long Tribunal against Debt in Porto Alegre which brought together 1000 participants from every continent.

Next, in Brazil, support for the struggle against illegitimate debt faded mainly because the MST considered that they should rack up their critical support of President Lula’s government. As for the leadership of the CUT, they had deserted the fight against debt as soon as Lula came to office as president. Nevertheless, that did not prevent the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit from battling on through thick and thin to denounce repayment of mainly illegitimate debt. The CADTM International gave its constant support to this fight.

In 2007, at the behest of militants combating illegitimate debt in Ecuador, Maria Lucia Fattorelli, the Coordinator of the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit, and myself for the CADTM, became members of the Committee for Integral Debt Audit (CAIC) established by the new president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. The CAIC’s task was to identify illegitimate debts contracted during the period of 1976-2006. Our work, reported to the government in September 2008 and made public in November of the same year resulted in the suspension of payments on a significant part of debt demanded from Ecuador in the form of sovereign bonds mainly held by banks of the USA. The unilateral suspension of payment brought about a resounding victory (see Eric Toussaint, Hugo Arias Palacios, Aris Chatzistefanou – Video: “The Ecuador debt audit, a seven minute summary”). Ecuador imposed on its creditors a reduction of 70 % of the debts concerned. This enabled a significant increase in social spending from 2009-2010.

It is important to note that President Lula did not help Ecuador with its debt auditing initiative. This is proved by what happened in the case of the Brazilian firm Odebrecht which I mentioned earlier. The firm built a hydro-electric power plant of very poor quality in Ecuador. Odebrecht had overcharged for the work and had not complied with the technical specifications. The plant was so badly built that it broke down. The Audit Committee had identified the debt Brazil was demanding of Ecuador for the plant’s construction as illegal and illegitimate. Despite the fact that it was obviously in the wrong, the firm of Odebrecht refused to indemnify the State of Ecuador. In September 2008, to force Odebrecht to fulfil its obligations towards the government of Ecuador, President Rafael Correa sent the army to occupy the installations of the hydroelectric plant. Instead of backing up the progressive government of Ecuador in face of Odebrecht, Lula protested against Ecuador’s intervention and recalled his ambassador. He demanded that Rafael Correa cease applying pressure on Odebrecht and persuaded him to take it to arbitration in a Paris court. Correa accepted, though knowing only too well that the arbitration would favour Odebrecht. Indeed, Ecuador lost partially. The government of Brazil and Odebrecht came out on top.

President Lula’s intervention in 2009 to prevent the launch of a committee to audit odious debt called for by Brazilian companies in Paraguay

Now let us look at the case of Paraguay, an enclave country surrounded by Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. In December 2008, the progressive president Fernando Lugo, who had been in office for six months, invited me to help him create an audit committee of Paraguayan debt. I went to Asunción for a personal interview with the president followed by a meeting with the Paraguayan government (see “Paraguay. The Belgian who met with the president is an adviser to Correa and works with Chavez”. See also: Interview with the economic and political analyst Eric Toussaint “The Itaipu Treaty signed in 1973 could be declared void.” and this).

It was clear that most of Paraguay’s debt could be qualified as odious, as it resulted (as is always the case) from a major agreement made in the 1970s between two military dictatorships: the Brazilian military junta and the Paraguayan dictatorship of General Stroessner. [1] The offending treaty dealt with the construction, running and maintenance of what was at the time the biggest dam in the world, the Itaipu Dam. I had studied the matter in depth using the excellent documentation elaborated by Paraguyan experts. Moreover a former member of staff of the CADTM in Belgium, the Paraguayan jurist Hugo Ruiz Diaz Balbuena, had become an adviser to President Lugo, which made contacts easier. [2] The international audit initiative with citizen participation had withered under pressure from the Brazilian government during Lula’s presidency. Note that big Brazilian companies are the main creditors of Paraguay, which they exploit. Although he had intended to sign a presidential decree creating the debt audit committee, Fernando Lugo finally gave in to pressure from Lula and his government who were protecting the interests of the Brazilian firms who were creditors. To persuade the Paraguayan government to drop the idea of an international audit and of questioning the debt claimed by Brazilian firms, Lula made a few marginal concessions and increased the amount Brazil paid Paraguay every year for electricity provided by the Itaipu Dam. (See a commentary in French of the agreement signed between Paraguay and Brazil in July 2009: this). That said, despite the pressure from Brazil, an audit was carried out by the Court of Auditors in 2010 and 2011 (See this (in French and Spanish) and this (French only). At the time I went back to Paraguay at President Fernando Lugo’s invitation. In June 2012, he was eventually overthrown by a ‘parliamentary coup’, to use a phrase that had been used in Honduras in 2009 and was applied in Brazil when Dilma Rousseff, who had succeeded Lula as president of Brazil from 2011, was overthrown (see Eric Toussaint, “Paraguay (juin 2012) – Honduras (juin 2009): d’un coup d’Etat à l’autre”, in French or Spanish).

The fact that the right was able to use this form of institutional coup d’Etat, whether in Brazil or in Paraguay, is partly due to the inability of those two left-wing governments to affront creditors forcefully and carry out structural reform. At the beginning of their mandates they enjoyed enormous popular support; but this was deeply eroded by the disappointment engendered by conciliatory policies towards big capital, both local and international. By the time the right decided to take action, people on the left were too disillusioned and disorientated to mobilize in defence of those in power.

The Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit from 2009 to 2019

In 2009, the Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit managed to set up a parliamentary committee thanks, particularly, to active support from the PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party. Yet PT MPs joined conservative MPs to prevent the Committee from questioning the legitimacy of Brazil’s debt. Then President Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) vetoed the organization of such an audit. Here is an assessment by Maria Lucia Fattorelli (in French).

The Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit conducted a tireless campaign of consciousness-raising in Brazil. The group trained numerous local sections in Brazil and organized correspondence courses to train activists who wanted to audit debt. They organized several international rallies. The Coordinator, Maria Lucia Fattorelli, also participated in the Greek Public Debt Truth Committee in Greece in 2015. Before that, she had coordinated the publication of a debt-auditing handbook that was translated into French, Spanish and English: Maria Lucia Fattorelli, Citizen Public Debt Audit – Experiences and methods, see this.)

In 2018, during the electoral campaign, The Brazilian Citizens’ Debt Audit was bitterly disappointed by the presidential campaign of the PSOL candidate, Guilherme Bolos. With the agreement of the majority of the PSOL leadership, Bolos set aside the issue of questioning debt payment. He considered that continuing debt repayments was not really a problem. This caused a profound malaise within the PSOL, to put it mildly.

Indeed, G. Bolos’s electoral score as the PSOL candidate for the presidency fell far below the one the party had obtained in the previous presidential campaign in 2014. In 2014, the PSOL candidate Luciana Genro had vigorously defended the debt audit and the idea of suspending payments on debt identified as illegitimate. G. Bolos only won a third of the votes Luciana Genro had won even though, for the first time, the PSOL had benefited from a considerable government subsidy for the electoral campaign. It only goes to show that by watering down his positions, the PSOL candidate lost part of the radical electorate that had previously supported the PSOL.

Will this be a lasting development? Of the ten PSOL representatives in the Brazilian parliament at present, several maintain a clear position on debt but what is the true position of the party’s leadership? At the next PSOL congress, to be held in May 2020, we shall see whether its militants will push for a return to policies more in line with the party’s origins.

Within the PT (Workers’ Party), which has 53 members of parliament, acceptance of the debt system is deeply anchored in the party’s official line and unfortunately we must not nourish any illusions to the contrary.

Despite the criticisms aired above, it is obvious that to counter Bolsonaro, left-wing parties and social movements must unite in the broadest possible front.

Only the future will tell whether the huge social mobilizations that have taken or are taking place in countries such as Chile, Ecuador, Columbia, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Bolivia will find an echo in Brazil.

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Translated by Vicki Briault Manus and Christine Pagnoulle (CADTM)

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.

Notes

[1] At the time of the signature of the Itaipu treaty in 1973, Paraguay was under the dictatorship of General Stroessner, in power from 1954 until 1989, while Brazil had the Garrastazú Medici dictatorship (1969-1974).

[2] Hugo Ruiz Diaz Balbuena and Eric Toussaint, “L’audit de la dette : un instrument dont les mouvements sociaux devraient se saisir”, published 9 July 2004, https://www.cadtm.org/L-audit-de-la-dette-un-instrument-dont-les-mouvements-sociaux-devraient-se. Hugo Ruiz Diaz Balbuena, from Paraguay, is a doctor of Law and ran the CADTM’s Law Department until 2005. From 2008 until the institutional coup d’Etat that overthrew President Fernando Lugo in June 2012, he was one of his close advisers. See also: Hugo Ruiz Diaz Balbuena, “La décision souveraine de déclarer la nullité de la dette”, https://www.cadtm.org/La-decision-souveraine-de-declarer-la-nullite-de-la-dette published on 8 September 2008.

Featured image is from CADTM

There is mounting evidence that a healthy soil microbiome protects plants from pests and diseases. One of the greatest natural assets that humankind has is soil. But when you drench it with proprietary synthetic chemicals or continuously monocrop as part of a corporate-controlled industrial farming system, you can kill essential microbes, upset soil balance and end up feeding soil a limited doughnut diet of unhealthy inputs. 

Armed with their synthetic biocides, this is what the transnational agritech conglommerates do. These companies attempt to get various regulatory and policy-making bodies to bow before the altar of corporate ‘science’. But, in reality, they have limited insight into the long-term impacts their actions have on soil and its complex networks of microbes and microbiological processes. Soil microbiologists are themselves still trying to comprehend it all.

That much is clear when Linda Kinkel of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Plant Pathology said back in 2014: “We understand only a fraction of what microbes do to aid in plant growth.”

And it’s the same where ‘human soil’ is concerned.

People have a deep microbiological connection to soils and traditional processing and fermentation processes, which all affect the gut microbiome – the up to six pounds of bacteria, viruses and microbes akin to human soil. And as with actual soil, the microbiome can become degraded according to what we ingest (or fail to ingest). Many nerve endings from major organs are located in the gut and the microbiome effectively nourishes them. There is ongoing research taking place into how the microbiome is disrupted by the modern globalised food production/processing system and the chemical bombardment it is subjected to.

The human microbiome is of vital importance to human health yet it is under chemical attack from agri-food giants and their agrochemicals and food additives. As soon as we stopped eating locally-grown, traditionally-processed food, cultivated in healthy soils and began eating food subjected to chemical-laden cultivation and processing activities, we began to change ourselves. Along with cultural traditions surrounding food production and the seasons, we also lost our deep-rooted microbiological connection with our localities. It was traded in for corporate chemicals and seeds and global food chains dominated by the likes of Monsanto (now Bayer), Nestle and Cargill.

Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason says that glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway within these gut bacteria and is a strong chelator of essential minerals, such as cobalt, zinc, manganese, calcium, molybdenum and sulphate. In addition, it kills off beneficial gut bacteria and allows toxic bacteria to flourish. She adds that we are therefore facing a global metabolic health crisis linked to glyphosate.

Many key neurotransmitters are located in the gut. Aside from affecting the functioning of major organs, these transmitters affect our moods and thinking.  There is strong evidence that gut bacteria can have a direct physical impact on the brain. Alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome have been implicated in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, chronic pain, depression and Parkinson’s Disease.

Recently published research indicates that glyphosate and Roundup are proven to disrupt gut microbiome by inhibiting the shikimate pathway. Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London has found that Roundup herbicide and its active ingredient glyphosate cause a dramatic increase in the levels of two substances, shikimic acid and 3-dehydroshikimic acid, in the gut, which are a direct indication that the EPSPS enzyme of the shikimic acid pathway has been severely inhibited. The researchers found that Roundup and glyphosate affected the microbiome at all dose levels tested, causing shifts in bacterial populations.

This confirms what Mason has been highlighting for some time. However, she has also been pointing out the environmental degradation resulting from the spiralling use of glyphosate-based herbicides and has just written an open letter to the Principal Fisheries Officer of Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Peter Gough (NRW is the environment agency for Wales).

The letter runs to 20 pages and focuses on glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides. She asks who would re-authorise a pesticide that is toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects and is causing serious eye damage along with various forms of cancers and a wide range of other health conditions?

She answers her question by saying the European Glyphosate Task Force and Jean-Claude Juncker President of the EC along with various regulators in Europe who have basically capitulated to an industry agenda. Mason argues that the European Glyphosate Task Force (who actually did the re-assessment of glyphosate) omitted all the studies from South America where they had been growing GM Roundup Ready crops since 1996. She discusses the suppression of key research which indicated the harmful effects of glyphosate.

The Principal Fisheries Scientist Wales sent Mason two NRW Reports two years ago. In it, Mason discovered that giant hogweed on the River Usk bank had been treated with a glyphosate-based herbicide. NRW had also admitted to not studying the effects of neonicotinoids, which had been introduced in 1994. Mason pointed out to NRW that run-off from farms of clothianidin in seeds would be enough to kill off aquatic invertebrates.

In early January, NRW attempted to explain the absence of salmon and trout in the River Usk on climate change (warming of the river), rather than poisoning of the river, which is what Mason had warned the agency about two years ago.

In Britain, information on emerging water contaminants has been suppressed, according to Mason, and there is no monitoring of either neonics or glyphosate in surface or ground water. In the US, though, measurements of these chemicals have been carried out on farmland and their correlation with massive declines in invertebrates by separate agencies and universities in the US and Canada.

Mason notes there has been 70 years of poisoning the land with pesticides. Although the National Farmers Union and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs in the UK say fewer pesticides are now being applied, the Soil Association indicates massive increases of increasing numbers of pesticides at decreasing intervals (official statistics obtained via a Freedom of Information request).

Readers should consult the full text of Mason’s open letter on the acamedia.edu site to gain wider insight into the issues outlined above and many more, such as government collusion with major agrochemical corporations, the shaping of official narratives on illness and disease to obscure the role of pesticides and Monsanto’s poisoning of Wales.

What Mason outlines is not specific to Wales or the UK; the increasing use of damaging agrochemicals and government collusion with the industry transcends national borders. Nation states are becoming increasingly obsolete and powerless in the face of globalised capitalist interests that seek to capture and exploit markets, especially in the Global South.

What follows is the e-mail that Mason sent to Peter Gough by way of introducing her letter to him.

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Dear Peter,

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) classified glyphosate as a substance that is toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects

Your colleague Dave Charlesworth declared on BBC 1 Breakfast last week that the declines in salmon and trout were due to climate change and warming of the rivers. I told you just over 2 years ago that it was due to pesticides and showed you the proof from assorted NRW documents you sent me.

Why are NRW, the government, ‘top’ UK doctors, farmers, the corporations, the media and global pesticides regulators protecting the agrochemical industry? All of you could suffer from the effects of pesticides in food, in water, in the air and in rain. Why don’t you inform the people?

Monsanto claims that Roundup doesn’t affect humans, but their sealed secret studies that scientist Anthony Samsel obtained from the US EPA, shows evidence of cancers and that bioaccumulation of 14C labelled glyphosate occurred in every organ of the body (page 9).

The NFU and Defra deny they are responsible for 70 years of poisoning the land and the subsequent insect apocalypse; they should read their own document “Healthy Harvest.” The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Crop Protection Association (CPA) and the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) combined to lobby the EU not to restrict the 320+ pesticides available to them. The publication is called: HEALTHY HARVEST. [1] (Pages 6-9)

The Department of Health and the Chief Medical Officer for England claim that parents are responsible for obesity in primary school children. However, Pesticides Action Network (PAN) analysed the Department of Health’s Schools Fruit and Vegetable Scheme and found that there were residues of 123 pesticides in it, some of which are linked to serious health problems such as cancer and disruption of the hormone system.

When PAN informed them, they said that pesticides were not the concern of the DOH. (Page 14, 13-16).

Dr Don Huber, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology, Purdue University, US, speaking about GMO crops and glyphosate, said: “Future historians may well look back upon our time and write, not about how many pounds of pesticide we did or didn’t apply, but by how willing we are to sacrifice our children and future generations for this massive genetic engineering experiment that is based on flawed science and failed promises just to benefit the bottom line of a commercial enterprise.” (Page 18)

Kind regards,

Rosemary

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Colin Todhunter is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research.

Featured image is from Flickr

Dr. King Understood: U.S. Is Threat to Global Humanity

January 15th, 2020 by Black Alliance for Peace

As the U.S. engages in its annual ritual of parading out the state-sanctioned “I have a dream” Dr. King, it attempts to accomplish the amazing feat of reconciling Dr. King’s commitment to peace and principled non-violence with the normalized violence of the U.S. settler-state’s bloody history. The events in just the last month reaffirm Dr. Kings assessment that the United States is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

During the last month, we witnessed several graphic reminders that King’s declaration is as relevant today as it was 52 years ago; the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani; the announcement by the Trump Administration that it would defy the Iraqi government’s demand to withdraw U.S. troops; and the unveiling of operation “Relentless pursuit,” the latest State version of the racist war on the Black working class in the guise of fighting crime.

And while the U.S. state with the support of the capitalist media still promotes the U.S. as a “force for good” domestically, as Secretary of State Pompeo declared after announcing that the administration had just murdered a foreign leader who the U.S. was not officially at war with, the international community views the U.S. as the primary threat to global humanity.

For the past few years, international opinion polls have revealed that the U.S. is seen as the greatest threat to international peace.  This analysis predates the Trump Administration and reflects a sophisticated understanding on the part of the international public that the rhetoric of U.S. exceptionalism and moral self-righteousness – which is used so effectively to obscure the agenda of the corporate and financial elite within the U.S. – had little relationship to how the U.S. actually behaved in the real world.

But the U.S. is not alone in empire-building, as BAP continues to remind our members to the chagrin of some Western oriented “radical” apologists of European imperialism. It wasn’t surprising that most European heads of state supported the assassination of Soleimani, but it was disappointing that a number of European radical organizations were also either silent or gave “critical support” to his murder.

Western, white, cross-class collaboration in support of the Pan-European colonial/capitalist project is the reason why that even though BAP advocates for the principled unity of the working class and oppressed, we take the position that the Black working class and poor must be independently organized.  We will work with friends and allies from an autonomous place of organizational strength.


Some of the agitational and organizational work from BAP over the last few weeks include

Oppose any war with Iran. BAP is clear –  we said: If you believe in peace you must defeat the warmongers: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/bapstatements/defeat-warmongers-no-war-with-iran

BAP National Organizer Ajamu Baraka points out the hypocrisy of the democrat posing as Anti-war advocates: https://blackagendareport.com/sheep-dogging-steroids-new-democratic-party-anti-war-activists

BAP African team member Mark P. Fancher provides a legal analysis of the hit on Soleimani: https://blackagendareport.com/beware-imperialist-gaslighting-assassination-not-legal

Margaret Kimberley reminds the public that organized resistance is the most effective weapon we have if we are to confront the pro-war and anti-people agenda of the corporate state: https://blackagendareport.com/freedom-rider-iran-and-need-black-activism

BAP members took part in actions against any possible war with Iran in various parts of the country. However, in our messages on Iran we also had to alert the public on the racist and reactionary plan by the Trump regime to initiate a domestic military surge against the Black community.

Baltimore was one of seven cities chosen by the Trump Administration for its domestic surge. BAP-Baltimore responded: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/bapstatements/bapbaltimore-trump-military-surge

In an expanded statement on the surge “Black Alliance for Peace- Baltimore Demand End to Policing Surge” by Ready for Revolution
Thursday – January 9, 2020 – Hood Communist
http://hoodcommunist.org/2020/01/09/black-alliance-for-peace-baltimore-demand-end-to-policing-surge/

Two other interviews by BAP members Netfa Freeman and Brandon Walker elaborated on the interconnected issues of the war on Black people and the U.S. war on global democratic and human rights.

BAP Coordinating Committee member and Pan African Community Action organizer Netfa Freeman discusses the media “white out” on the subject: https://blackagendareport.com/us-surges-police-state-while-media-white-out-structural-racism

Ujima Peoples Progress Party organizer and BAP Coordinating Committee member Brandon Walker talked with BAP member and journalist Jacqueline Luqman on the impact of the surge on the people of Baltimore: $71 Million for More Cops; Not A Dime for Jobs and Healthcare – January 8, 2020 – The Real News Network: https://therealnews.com/stories/71-million-cops-not-jobs-healthcare

Other issues and actions that BAP members and supporters must be aware of

The reactionary arsenal of U.S. and Western pro-war weapons also includes the use of economic sanctions meant to target and punish the people in states that have been designated for subversion.  Popular Resistance provides a historical overview and analysis of U.S. sanctions that result in the lost of thousands of innocent lives:  https://popularresistance.org/illegal-us-economic-war/

BAP is supporting the Embassy Defense Committee and its call for an International Day of Action on January 22 to demand that all  charges of against the Venezuela embassy protectors are dropped: https://defendembassyprotectors.org/urgent-call-for-action-on-january-22nd-international-day-of-action-in-support-of-venezuela-embassy-protectors/

The Embassy Protectors will be on a short east coast tour to raise money for their defense. See here for a city near you in the East and attend if you can: https://defendembassyprotectors.org/embassy-protectors-january-tour/

All out for the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) conference February 21-23 in New York: https://www.unacpeace.org/home.html

Stop the School to Military Pipeline: The poverty and austerity draft that drives workers and the poor into the military makes this sector a priority for organizing resistance to the corporate capitalist imperial agenda. Rory Fanning talks about the need to incorporate veterans and active duty soldiers into the Anti-war movement. https://truthout.org/articles/many-soldiers-want-to-stop-fighting-lets-build-a-movement-that-welcomes-them/

If you want to honor King and the movement for human rights that produced him, struggle for justice. There is a clear connection between the turn to global war by the ruling class and that includes the intensification of the war against workers, with Black workers and poor the principle target.

BAP makes that connection and will continue to prepare our resistance to the war being waged against the Black working class, the poor, and all other oppressed peoples, nations and classes by the white supremacist Western capitalist oligarchy.

Join or support us.

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Conservation groups sued the Trump administration today challenging the last step in the administration’s plan to allow oil drilling and fracking on more than 1 million acres of public lands and minerals in Central California.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, says the Bureau of Land Management violated federal law by failing to consider fracking’s potential harm to public health and recreation in the region, as well as harm to the climate and possible groundwater and air pollution. The suit also notes the potential for oil-industry-induced earthquakes.

The BLM plan would allow drilling and fracking on public lands across eight counties in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura.

“Trump’s illegal, deeply unjust fracking plan would be a disaster for Central Valley communities, as well as our climate, wildlife and water,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need to phase out fracking and oil drilling, not throw open our public lands to polluters. The future of our beautiful state and our children depends on it.”

The Trump administration also plans to allow fracking on an additional 725,500 acres across 11 counties in California’s Central Coast and Bay Area. In October conservation groups filed suit to challenge that decision.

“BLM’s ill-considered plan to fling wide the door to fracking on public lands is yet another assault on California’s efforts to protect its environment and move away from dirty fossil fuels,” said Ann Alexander, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Gov. Newsom just announced curbs on oil drilling, but BLM is charging full speed ahead with it. California is trying to find a way to rationally address its limited water supply, and now BLM is greenlighting activities that can contaminate it with toxic chemicals. This federal war on California really needs to stop.”

The BLM has not held an oil and gas lease sale in California since 2012, when a federal judge ruled that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without considering fracking’s environmental dangers.

“BLM continues to choose the oil industry over the health and safety of local communities in Central California,” said Michelle Ghafar, an attorney at Earthjustice. “A federal court already agreed with us once that the BLM failed to fully evaluate the impacts of the oil and gas expansion it is authorizing on public land. We’re returning to court once again to ensure the agency properly analyzes the impacts of devastating fracking activities in its plan.”

Most of the land the BLM plans to open to the oil industry is in the San Joaquin Valley, which already has some of the most severe air pollution in the country.

“The BLM’s illegal plan to open up 1 million acres of our public lands to oil extraction is a dangerous risk to our communities, company, homes and schools,” said Robert Tadlock, associate general counsel at Patagonia. “It would also accelerate the climate crisis, and Ventura County already ranks as the fastest-warming county in the continental U.S. We should be working harder and smarter to stop climate change, not ignoring impacts of further drilling.”

“California’s Central Valley already suffers from some of the worst air and water quality in the state, and the decision allowing leases for oil extraction in public lands would be catastrophic for our region and especially for the health of our communities,” said Nayamin Martinez, director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network. “For years CCEJN staff has monitored emissions from oil and gas facilities and has documented that residents living near pumpjacks and storage tanks are constantly exposed to benzene and other VOCs that are carcinogenic. We need to protect our communities from further toxic pollution, not increase their exposure.”

Areas planned for drilling and fracking are near spectacular public lands, including state parks and beaches, national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, the Pacific Crest Trail and Carrizo Plain National Monument. The lands are also home to threatened and endangered animals, including San Joaquin kit foxes and California condors.

“This reckless plan threatens the iconic landscapes that define central California, endangering our communities and moving us further away from a clean energy future,” said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch. “Our action today seeks to uphold our nation’s environmental protection laws while securing a safe and healthy future for our region’s public lands.”

“Throughout this planning process, the Trump administration has ignored our warnings about the long-term impacts to nearby communities and national parks, in favor of short-term gains for oil and gas developers,” said Mark Rose, Sierra Nevada program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “This plan could allow drilling near several of our most cherished public lands, like Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, which already suffer from some of the worst air quality of any park units in the country.”

In November Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration announced a moratorium on new high-pressure steam injection wells and scientific reviews of all current fracking permit applications.

“The BLM is breaking the law by failing to adequately analyze the impacts that increased fracking would cause to air and water quality, public health and global climate change,” said Alex Daue, assistant director for energy and climate at The Wilderness Society. “Residents of California’s Central Valley and our public lands deserve thoughtful, science-backed planning. We are joining this lawsuit as part of our continued support for environmental justice and good stewardship of America’s shared public lands.”

Today’s lawsuit adds to a raft of recent legal challenges to the federal oil and gas leasing program over the damage to the climate. Climate scientists are urging drastic cuts to greenhouse gas pollution, but new oil and gas leases commit public lands to producing more pollution for decades. Federal fossil fuel production causes about one-quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

“At a time when we need to be taking urgent action to address the climate crisis, the Trump administration’s attempts to expand fossil fuel extraction on our public lands represent a huge step in the wrong direction,” said Gary Lasky, chair of the Sierra Club Tehipite Chapter in Fresno. “This reckless plan is a threat to our public lands, our health and our climate, and we will not allow it to go unchallenged.”

Fracking is an extreme oil-extraction process that blasts a mixture of toxic chemicals and water into the ground to crack open oil-bearing rocks. According to the BLM, about 90 percent of new oil and gas wells on public lands are fracked.

A 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology concluded that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking-water supplies, with unusually high concentrations of toxic chemicals.

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Last April and May we were in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC protecting it from a US coup takeover. We were in the embassy for 37 days and are now being prosecuted by the federal government for ‘interference with protective function.’ The prosecutors have submitted a motion in limine, which restricts what can be said in the trial. If the court approves it the jurors will be sitting in judgment of us based on fantasy facts, i.e. they will be told Juan Guido is the president, Nicolas Maduro will not be mentioned. They will never be told that we were in the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela, recognized as the government under Venezuelan law and by the United Nations. The Vienna Convention, which forbids the US government from entering foreign embassies in the United States will not be mentioned.

Ajamu and Bahman summarize this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ moment in an article below.

Kevin Zeese, January 15, 2020

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As the trial approaches, the lawyers for the Trump Administration’s  prosecution of the four Venezuelan Embassy Protectors who were arrested last May are asking the court to make sure the jury is kept ignorant about the facts and circumstances surrounding the actions of the protectors.

In a recently filed motion by government lawyers, state prosecutors are seeking to severely restrict what can be discussed during the trial  scheduled for February 11, 2020. Judge Beryl Howell will hear arguments on the motion at the pre-trial hearing on January 29.

What does the prosecution want to repress? Everything that might give the defenders the ability to challenge the state’s case.

The prosecutors do not want jurors to know that Nicolas Maduro is the democratically-elected president of Venezuela. They also do not want the illegitimacy of the failed coup leader Juan Guaido to be known to the jurors as the eviction and arrest of the four was based on the direction of a fake ambassador, Carlos Vecchio, who is wanted for violent crimes in Venezuela and is allied with Guaido.

The Trump prosecutors do not want the jury to know that the Embassy Protectors were inside the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela that is recognized under Venezuelan law and by the United Nations.

And, they do not want the Vienna Convention discussed so jurors are unaware that the United States violated international law when police entered the embassy to arrest the four who remained inside.

The parties will also discuss voir dire, i.e., the questions that will be used to pick the jury and ensure they are not biased, as well as jury instructions, which the court will read to the jurors before they deliberate.

The government’s motion in limine, if approved by the judge, would leave the jury wearing a blindfold, unaware of the facts, context or why the Embassy Protectors were in the embassy. This will ensure the desired outcome of the state which is to convict the defenders and make them a model for how the state intends to deal with challenges to its illegal policies.

The jurors will also not be told that the protectors were under siege, surrounded by a pro-coup mob that was working with the police, threatening the protectors and blocking food from going into the embassy. And, they will not know the government had the electricity and water turned off in the embassy.

While there were negotiations between the US and Venezuela for a mutual protecting power agreement during the final days of the embassy protection, the jurors will not be told that the negotiations were occurring and that they would have resulted in Switzerland protecting the US embassy in Caracas and Turkey protecting the Venezuelan embassy in DC. The embassy protectors told the police they would leave voluntarily when that agreement was reached. The day before the four were arrested, Samuel Moncada, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, held a press conference where he discussed the negotiations for a protecting power agreement and said the Embassy Protectors were in the embassy with Venezuela’s permission.

The government is also urging the court not to allow the four to explain they were exercising their rights under the First Amendment to political expression and criticizing the US government for their continuing efforts to force the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Venezuela.

If Judge Howell grants the Trump government’s motion, it will leave the Embassy Protectors virtually defenseless. The government wants the prosecution to be about three things (1) the four were in the embassy, (2) they were given a notice of eviction by the police, and (3) they refused to leave.

The judge has thus far shown she leans toward the government’s narrow view of the case and does not want the questionable legality of the state’s order to vacate the embassy and its clearly illegal entry into the embassy and arrest of the defenders as part of the trial. When the motion for discovery was argued, the judge ruled against the Embassy Protectors regarding documents and other materials related to some of the above issues. See this article we wrote at the time, Embassy Protectors Are Being Denied Their Right To A Fair Trial.

For more information on the prosecution, this page provides background on the case, Frequently Asked Questions.

You can also show support for the Embassy Protectors by supporting our demand to drop charges against the defenders on the home page of Embassy Protectors Defense Committee‘s web site.

  • We are still raising money for the defenders legal defense (Donate here).
  • There will be an international day of action on January 22nd (Click Here for More Information)
  • You can also attend one of the events of the defenders upcoming January tour on the East Coast if you are in the area.
  • We are asking the public to attend the trial in Washington, DC, which begins on February 11.

In this period of normalized illegality and attempts at intimidation, we shall not allow the state to move against these courageous activists without resistance from our movements. While today it is the defenders tomorrow it could be any of us.

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Featured image is from Embassy Protection Collective

The Pentagon’s and CIA’s Power to Assassinate Americans

January 15th, 2020 by Jacob G. Hornberger

Pentagon officials are assuring Americans that the Pentagon’s recent assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani will make Americans safer. There is at least one big problem with that formulation, one that, unfortunately, many Americans still don’t recognize. That problem is this: the power of assassination wielded by the Pentagon and the CIA extends to American citizens.

Why is that a problem?

Because there is no way to reconcile a government’s power to assassinate its own citizens with the principles of a free society. A free society necessarily is one in which the government lacks the power to assassinate its own citizens.

Our American ancestors clearly understood this aspect of a free society. That’s why they demanded the enactment of the Fifth Amendment as a condition for accepting the new limited-government republic that was being proposed by the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment reads in part: “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” That phrase — due process of law, which stretches back to Magna Carta — has come to mean notice and trial, including trial by jury.

Americans had been operating under the Articles of Confederation for some 13 years when the delegates at the Constitutional Convention proposed a limited-government republic type of governmental system. Under the Articles, the federal government hadn’t even been given the power to tax, much less the power to assassinate American citizens. Americans were leery about the proposal for a limited-government republic because they feared that it might evolve into a government with totalitarian-like powers, such as the power to assassinate its own citizens.

Americans finally were persuaded to accept the deal but they demanded the enactment of the Bill of Rights to make sure that federal officials got the point. The Bill of Rights essentially says: “You don’t have the power to destroy our fundamental, God-given rights, and you also lack the power to kill us without following the principles of due process of law.”

The Framers did not bring into existence a government in which federal officials would be entrusted with the power of assassination. Instead, they made certain that the federal government was denied the power of assassination. They understood that freedom isn’t a government in which officials are exercising a power of assassination prudently, rarely, and wisely. They understood that freedom is a government in which officials don’t have the power to assassinate at all.

It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the change that took place after World War II, when the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state form of governmental structure. A national-security state is a totalitarian form of governmental structure, one that wields totalitarian-like powers. North Korea is a national security state. So are China, Russia, Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. And post-World War II United States.

The conversion of the federal government to a national-security state automatically brought into existence the power of the federal government to assassinate American citizens. At the moment of the conversion, the freedom of the American people was destroyed because, again, it is impossible to reconcile the totalitarian power of assassination with the principles of a free society.

It doesn’t matter how much Americans are convinced that they are a free people. It doesn’t matter how many times they thank the troops for defending their freedom. The fact remains: A people whose government wields the power to assassinate its own people are not a free people.

It’s no different here in the United States. The power to assassinate, which is reserved to the Pentagon and the CIA, two of the principal components of the national-security establishment (the other is the NSA), is omnipotent and non-reviewable, so long as the Pentagon and the CIA say that the assassination relates to “national security.” Once they utter those two words, there isn’t a court in the land, including the U.S. Supreme Court, that will interfere with the Pentagon’s or CIA’s assassination of any American citizen or, for that matter, any other citizen.

An American citizen who learns that he has been targeted for assassination has no recourse to prevent his killing. If he kills the assassin or any other Pentagon or CIA official, they will arrest him, prosecute him, and execute him as a terrorist and murderer. If he seeks an injunction in U.S. District Court, they will assassinate him on his way to court. If a relative sues for an injunction on his behalf, the court will dismiss the suit for “lack of standing.” If relatives sue for wrongful death, their suit will be summarily dismissed. If a state grand jury returns an indictment for murder against the Pentagon or the CIA, a federal district court will enjoin the prosecution. If a federal grand jury returns a similar indictment, a federal district judge will summarily dismiss it.

In a national-security state, national security is everything. Once the Pentagon or the CIA utter those two words to justify their assassination of an American citizen, the other three branches of government, including the judiciary, immediately go silent, passive, and deferential.

Can Americans regain their freedom? Of course! But to do so requires a dismantling of the national-security state form of governmental structure and a restoration of a limited-government republic form of governmental structure. Once a critical mass of Americans desire liberty and a limited-government republic over national security and a national-security state, Americans will be on the road toward the restoration of a free society.

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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.

You may think “fake news” is a fairly recent development made possible by the internet and social media. But a little over 100 years ago President Woodrow Wilson created an official fake news agency to persuade the American people to support the United States entry into WWI.

But first a little perspective on what drove Wilson’s unorthodox methods.

Woodrow Wilson was elected President of the United States in 1912. Politically, he was a novice having only served two years as governor of New Jersey prior to his elevation to the Presidency. Wilson’s lack of political experience made him easy to manipulate by the seasoned political pros who surrounded him. “Colonel” Edward M. House, a well-connected associate of the Rothschild international banking dynasty was handpicked as an informal advisor to President Wilson.

The Rothschilds were working hard behind the scenes to foment a global war so their banks could fund the massive costs of military conflict. Colonel House was their man in the White House to “nudge” the new President in the right direction. In the fall of 1914 WWI erupted with the assignation of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, Bosnia. France, Britain and Russia faced off against Germany and her allies Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey), and Bulgaria.

But the United States had no compelling reason to join the fray and the vast majority of the nation wanted nothing to do with the war. Indeed, Wilson ran for his second Presidential term in 1916 under the slogan, “He kept us out of war!” Colonel House used Wilson’s grandiose ego by persuading him that he could go down in history as the man who ended world wars forever with a League of Nations, today’s modern day United Nations.

There was only one major problem. Wilson would have no credibility with the combatants to pitch his League of Nation’s idea unless America shared in the bloody conflict. And to accomplish that trick House hatched a plan to turn the hearts and minds of ordinary US citizens into clamoring for war! This was accomplished with a brazen propaganda campaign of “fake news” that painted Germany and her allies as heartless monsters that threatened the globe.

America Enters the War

Great Britain used a naval blockade in an attempt to starve the German people into submission. Germany responded with unrestricted submarine warfare sinking any ship the German Navy suspected of aiding the British. Several US ships (suspected of secretly transporting war materials to Great Britain) were torpedoed by German U Boats. On April 2nd, 1917 President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany and her allies and four days later Congress did so.

On April 13th, 1917 President Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI) an independent government agency through Executive Order #2594. Wilson appointed George Creel, a journalist, to head up the agency. They recruited approximately 75,000 volunteers to spread carefully crafted messages deemed crucial to molding the hearts and minds of American citizens to support the war.

The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph and movies to broadcast its message. The volunteer speakers were dubbed “Four Minute Men” because that’s how long it took to change a reel of film at a movie theatre. In between reels they would jump up and recite their carefully rehearsed propaganda to sway the crowd for war. They spoke in Churches, arena’s, concert halls and even on street corners in cities and towns large and small.

According to historians the CPI’s grip on war news was ironclad as they recounted the average citizen’s experience.

Every item of war news they saw—in the country weekly, in magazines, or in the city daily picked up occasionally in the general store—was not merely officially approved information but precisely the same kind that millions of their fellow citizens were getting at the same moment. Every war story had been censored somewhere along the line— at the source, in transit, or in the newspaper offices in accordance with ‘voluntary’ rules established by the CPI.

And while the CPI was officially disbanded on August 21st, 1919 their influence is still felt today. Overall the CPI was considered a glorious success and paved the way for today’s 24/7 news cycles that promote endless wars.

A report published in 1940 by the Council on Foreign Relations credits the Committee with creating:

…the most efficient engine of war propaganda which the world had ever seen, producing a ‘revolutionary change’ in public attitude toward US participation in WWI.

Fake news is nothing new, but its bloody legacy continues to mold the hearts and minds of unsuspecting, unthinking US citizens today.

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Jeff Harris and his wife own and operate a small organic grass fed beef and pastured pork farm in South Carolina.

Featured image is from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

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Relevant Zero Hedge article first published and crossposted on GR in April 2017.

Prophetically foreshadowing the current crisis (and apparent action plan), leaked CIA documents from the reign of Bashar al-Assad’s father in the 1980s show a Washington Deep State plan coalescing to “bring real muscle to bear against Syria,” toppling its leader (in favor of one amenable to US demands), severing ties with Russia (its primary arms dealer), and paving the way for an oil and gas pipeline of Washington’s choosing.

As ActivistPost.com’s Brandon Turbeville detailed (just a day before Trump unleashed his Tomahawks), as the Syrian crisis enters its sixth year, the Donald Trump administration is looking more and more like the Obama administration every day. With the Trump regime refusing to open useful dialogue with Russia regarding Syria, its obvious anti-Iran and pro-Israel positioning, and support for a very questionable “safe zone” plan for Syria, the odds of a rational U.S. policy in regards to Syria has lower and lower odds of existence as time progresses.

Yet, despite the fact that the Trump administration is apparently poised to continue the Obama regime’s proxy war of aggression against the people of Syria, an example of seamless transition, it should also be remembered that the plan to destroy Syria did not begin with Obama but with the Bush administration.

Even now, as the world awaits the continuation of the Syrian war through a Democratic and Republican administration, the genesis of that war goes back to the Republican Bush administration, demonstrating that there is indeed an overarching agenda and an overarching infrastructure of an oligarchical deep state intent on moving forward regardless of which party is seemingly in power.

As journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his article, “The Redirection,”

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

“Extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam” who are “hostile to America and sympathetic to al-Qaeda” are the definition of the so-called “rebels” turned loose on Syria in 2011. Likewise, the fact that both Iran and Hezbollah, who are natural enemies of al-Qaeda and such radical Sunni groups, are involved in the battle against ISIS and other related terrorist organizations in Syria proves the accuracy of the article on another level.

Hersh also wrote,

The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

. . . . . .

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

. . . . . .

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah.

. . . . .

In January, after an outburst of street violence in Beirut involving supporters of both the Siniora government and Hezbollah, Prince Bandar flew to Tehran to discuss the political impasse in Lebanon and to meet with Ali Larijani, the Iranians’ negotiator on nuclear issues. According to a Middle Eastern ambassador, Bandar’s mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed “to create problems between the Iranians and Syria.” There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis’ goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, “It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar’s approach is very unlikely to succeed.”

. . . . . .

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”

. . . . .

There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

Hersh also spoke with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shi’ite Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. In relation to the Western strategy against Syria, he reported,

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.” Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,” which is dominated by Shiites. “I am not sure, but I smell this,” he told me.

Partition would leave Israel surrounded by “small tranquil states,” he said. “I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”

Yet, while even the connections between the plans to destroy Syria and the Bush administration are generally unknown, what is even less well-known is the fact that there existed a plan to destroy Syria as far back as 1983.

Documents contained in the U.S. National Archives and drawn up by the CIA reveal a plan to destroy the Syrian government going back decades. One such document entitled, “Bringing Real Muscle To Bear In Syria,” written by CIA officer Graham Fuller, is particularly illuminating. In this document, Fuller wrote,

Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf — through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey.

Even as far back as 1983, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, was viewed as a gadfly to the plans of Western imperialists seeking to weaken both the Iraqis and the Iranians and extend hegemony over the Middle East and Persia. The document shows that Assad and hence Syria represented a resistance to Western imperialism, a threat to Israel, and that Assad himself was well aware of the game the United States, Israel, and other members of the Western imperialist coalition were trying to play against him. The report reads,

Syria continues to maintain a hammerlock on two key U.S. interests in the Middle East:

Syrian refusal to withdraw its troops from Lebanon ensures Israeli occupation in the south;

Syrian closure of the Iraqi pipeline has been a key factor in bringing Iraq to its financial knees, impelling it towards dangerous internationalization of the war in the Gulf

Diplomatic initiatives to date have had little effect on Assad who has so far correctly calculated the play of forces in the area and concluded that they are only weakly arrayed against him. If the U.S. is to rein in Syria’s spoiling role, it can only do so through exertion of real muscle which will pose a vital threat to Assad’s position and power.

The author then presents a plan that sounds eerily similar to those now being discussed publicly by Western and specifically American corporate-financier think tanks and private non-governmental organizations who unofficially craft American policy. Fuller writes,

The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey. Iraq, perceived to be increasingly desperate in the Gulf war, would undertake limited military (air) operations against Syria with the sole goal of opening the pipeline. Although opening war on a second front against Syria poses considerable risk to Iraq, Syria would also face a two-front war since it is already heavily engaged in the Bekaa, on the Golan and in maintaining control over a hostile and restive population inside Syria.

Israel would simultaneously raise tensions along Syria’s Lebanon front without actually going to war. Turkey, angered by Syrian support to Armenian terrorism, to Iraqi Kurds on Turkey’s Kurdish border areas and to Turkish terrorists operating out of northern Syria, has often considered launching unilateral military operations against terrorist camps in northern Syria. Virtually all Arab states would have sympathy for Iraq.

Faced with three belligerent fronts, Assad would probably be forced to abandon his policy of closure of the pipeline. Such a concession would relieve the economic pressure on Iraq, and perhaps force Iran to reconsider bringing the war to an end. It would be a sharpening blow to Syria’s prestige and could effect the equation of forces in Lebanon.

Thus, Fuller outlines that not only would Syria be forced to reopen the pipeline of interest at the time, but that it would be a regional shockwave effecting the makeup of forces in and around Lebanon, weakening the prestige of the Syrian state and, presumably, the psychological state of the Syrian President and the Syrian people, as well as a message to Iran.

The document continues,

Such a threat must be primarily military in nature. At present there are three relatively hostile elements around Syria’s borders: Israel, Iraq and Turkey. Consideration must be given to orchestrating a credible military threat against Syria in order to induce at least some moderate change in its policies.

This paper proposes serious examination of the use of all three states – acting independently – to exert the necessary threat. Use of any one state in isolation cannot create such a credible threat.

The strategy proposed here by the CIA is virtually identical to the one being discussed by deep state establishment think tanks like the Brookings Institution today. For instance, in the Brookings document “Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options For Regime Change,” it says,

Turkey’s participation would be vital for success, and Washington would have to encourage the Turks to play a more helpful role than they have so far. While Ankara has lost all patience with Damascus, it has taken few concrete steps that would increase the pressure on Asad (and thereby antagonize Tehran). Turkish policy toward the Syrian opposition has actually worked at cross-purposes with American efforts to foster a broad, unified national organization. With an eye to its own domestic Kurdish dilemmas, Ankara has frustrated efforts to integrate the Syrian Kurds into a broader opposition framework. In addition, it has overtly favored the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood over all other opposition groups. Washington must impress upon Turkey the need to be more accommodating of legitimate Kurdish political and cultural demands in a post-Asad Syria, and to be less insistent on the primacy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some voices in Washington and Jerusalem are exploring whether Israel could contribute to coercing Syrian elites to remove Asad. The Israelis have the region’s most formidable military, impressive intelligence services, and keen interests in Syria. In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.

While Syria is not in conflict with Iraq today, after being destroyed by the United States in 2003, Western Iraq now houses the mysteriously-funded Islamic State on the border between Iraq and Syria.

That being said, this plan is not merely being discussed, it is being implemented as one can clearly see by the fact that Israel routinely launches airstrikes against the Syrian military, Turkey continues to funnel ISIS and related terrorists into Syria through its own territory, and ISIS continues to present itself as an Eastern front militarily. As a result, the “multi-front” war envisioned and written about by the CIA in 1983 and discussed by Brookings in 2012 has come to fruition and is in full swing today.

Full Document below:

Then three years later, another CIA report (found recently in CREST database by Wikileaks) confirms much of the above, raising once again the goal of reducing Russian influence, and toppling any Syrian leadership that was inclined to escalate tensions with Israel…

Under most circumstances Moscow’s position in Syria should remain strong, but should Syria suffer another devastating military defeat at the hands of Israel new leaders might decide to look elsewhere for military equipment.

A shift to a Western arms supplier also could prompt parallel efforts to seek Western financial advice and support.

Best case scenario for Washington…

We judge that US interests in Syria probably would be best served by a Sunni regime as it might well include relative moderates interested in securing Western aid and investment.

Such a regime probably would be less inclined to escalate tensions with Israel.

Russian relations…

Syria is the centerpiece of Moscow’s influence in the Middle East. Moscow thus has a vested interest in major policy shifts or changes in Syrian leadership. The Soviet Union and its East European allies provide virtually all of Syria’s arms, and the Soviets deliver more weapons to Syria than to any other Third World client.

We believe Moscow’s interests would be seriously jeopardized if Sunnis came to power through a civil war. Many Sunnis resent the Soviets because they are closely identified with Alawi dominance, and Sunnis would be especially hostile toward the Soviets if they had supported Alawis with military equipment and advisors in a civil war.

SCENARIOS OF DRAMATIC POLITICAL CHANGE

US biggest fear was series of coups over succession of Bashar al-Assad’s father… That did not come to be.

Civil war (similar to what is very evident now)…

Sunni dissidence has been minimal since Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, but deep-seated tensions remain–keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flareups of communal violence. For example, disgruntlement over price hikes, altercations between Sunni citizens and security forces, or anger at privileges accorded to Alawis at the expense of Sunnis could foster small-scale protests. Excessive government force in quelling such disturbances might be seen by Sunnis as evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis, precipitating even larger protests by other Sunni groups.

Best case scenario…

In our view, US interests would be best served by a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates. Business moderates would see a strong need for Western aid and investment to build Syria’s private economy, thus opening the way for stronger ties to Western governments. Although we believe such a government would give some support–or at least pay strong lipservice–to Arab causes, this group’s preoccupation with economic development and its desire to limit the role of the military would give Sunnis an incentive to avoid a war with Israel.

However…

We believe Washington’s gains would be mitigated, however, if Sunni fundamentalists assumed power. Although Syria’s secular traditions would make it extremely difficult for religious zealots to establish an Islamic Republic, should they succeed they would likely deepen hostilities with Israel and provide support and sanctuary to terrorist groups.

It’s a little late for that Islamic State genie to go back in the bottle now.

As Brandon Turbeville concludes,

the trail of documentation and the manner in which the overarching agenda of world hegemony on the behalf of corporate-financier interests have continued apace regardless of party and seamlessly through Republican and Democrat administrations serves to prove that changing parties and personalities do nothing to stop the onslaught of imperialism, war, and destruction being waged across the world today and in earnest ever since 2001. Indeed, such changes only make adjustments to the appearance and presentation of a much larger Communo-Fascist system that is entrenching itself by the day.

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The Machines Have Us Trained for Obedience

January 15th, 2020 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Many decades ago there was an issue of Mad comics that portrayed a future time when everything was done by robots and humans had no function.  One day the system failed. As it had been eons since humans had to do anything, no one knew how to fix the system.  It was Mad comics version of Armageddon.

I think that is where the digital revolution is taking us.  I remember when appliances and cars responded to humans, and now humans respond to them.  When I grew up cars and home appliances did not go “beep-beep” to remind you of the things you were supposed to do, such as turn off the car lights and take the keys out of the ignition, or turn off the oven and shut the fridge.

Cars, except for British sports cars, didn’t have seat belts.  Today a car doesn’t stop beeping until you fasten your seat belts.  I hear that soon the cars won’t start until the seat belts are fastened. 

When the electric company’s outsourced crew failed to connect the neutral line to my house and blew out all appliances, sprinkler system, and garage openers, the electric company replaced everything on a prorated depreciated basis that cost me thousands of dollars.  The worst part of it is that the new appliances boss me around.  

The old microwave would gently beep three times and stop.  The new one beeps in the most insistent way—open the door you dumb human right this second, immediately—and keeps on insisting until I obey.  The fridge refuses to let me leave it open for cleaning.  The oven insists that I open it immediately, despite my habit of cutting the on time short and leaving whatever it is to cook awhile longer in the hot oven.  

Here is an explanation of how our electric meters spy on us and pass on the information to interested parties.  

Self-driving cars seem to be our future, and robots are taking our jobs away even faster than global corporations offshored them to Asia.  

What exactly is it that humans are going to be good for?  Nothing it seems.

Why will we need a driving license when cars drive themselves?  If there is an accident, who is to blame?  The company that made the car?  The company responsible for the softwear?  What is the point of car insurance when drivers have no responsibility?

Perhaps it is true that aliens are living among us.  Their language is “beep-beep” and they are using our machines and cars to train us, like Pavlov’s dogs, to respond to their command.

I can remember when telephones were a convenience before they became a nuisance.  When my land line rings, 95% of the time it is a scam or a telemarketing call, usually robotic.  Now, a man will listen to a sexy female voice, for a time, and a woman will listen to a courtly gentleman’s voice, but until sex doll robots catch on, no one wants to listen to a machine’s voice.  So why the calls?  Why do the telephone companies permit their customers to be scammed and their privacy to be constantly invaded?  How do the phone companies benefit from permitting unethical people to destroy the value of phone service?

The same thing, I am told, happens to cell phone users.  Recently I finally had to acquire a smart phone, because two people I need to reach only respond to text messages.  They refuse to answer any phone, and email is so invaded by scammers, malware, and marketeers that they do not use email.  They do not even set up the message system on their cell phones. If you try to call them, you get instead of an answer the message that the person you are attempting to call has not set up their message box.  

So there you have it.  Except for texting, which can’t (yet) be done with a land line, telephones are a nuisance.

Growing up in Atlanta during the 1940s and into the early 1950s, you could not yourself place a call from your telephone.  When you picked up the receiver, an AT&T operator answered and asked: “number please.”  You gave her the number, and she rang it and connected you if there was an answer.  If you did not know the number, you asked her for information.  If you knew the complete name and perhaps the street address, you were provided with the telephone number.

In those halcycon days even in a city such as Atlanta, Georgia, there were party lines.  That meant that you shared a telephone line with a neighbor.  If you picked up the receiver to make a call through the operator and heard voices speaking, you knew the line was in use and decency required that you hang up immediately.  As the talking parties heard the click when you picked up the line, if they didn’t hear the click when you hung up they asked you to get off their call.

In that system, there was no anonymity. Anonymity appeared with dial phones, which allowed you to make your own calls.  From a public telephone, the call was not traceable to you.  This technology was the beginning of our downfall.  

Dial phones, something youths have seen only in antique shops or old movies are still with us in everyday language. We still say “dial the number” when we are punching buttons.

Today thanks to technological “progress,” it is much easier to invade privacy.

Technology is destroying us and the planet.  The pollution from technology is phenomenal. 5G itself may do us in. The destruction of privacy, identity, and freedom by the digital revolution is far beyond George Orwell’s imagination.  Insouciant humans delight in the gadgets that are turning themselves into unfree people who are under control but who themselves control nothing.

This outcome is easily seen in China where the government uses universal spying to construct for each person a social credit score.  It that person is a dissident, has bad habits, etc., that person gets a score too low to qualify for a loan, university admission, employment, etc., and becomes a non-being.  Here is Soren Korsgaard’s explanation of our future.

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Dr. Paul Craig Roberts writes on his blog, Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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What are we really supporting when we refuse the truth and accept the war lies and the permanent war agenda?

We are supporting al Qaeda/ISIS, Empire’s proxies. We are supporting the military dictatorship of Washington-led NATO and the collapse of International Law.

We are supporting a New Fascist World Order and our subservience to supranational diktats.We are supporting the thirdworldization of our own political economies.

The Truth is deplatformed in this New Fascist Order. Politicians do not represent the people. Representative government is a projected perception, empty of substance.

Transnational corporations impose impoverishing neoliberal diktats, the “Washington Consensus”, at home and abroad. Privatization schemes impoverish domestic populations at the expense of the public sphere. Equal access to health care and schooling is disappeared. The industrial base is delocated to vassal stooge countries where human and labour rights are largely non-existent.

The Fascist world order creates holocausts but denies it all.

“Those with consciences,” wrote Gideon Polya in 2015:

“recently marked the 12th anniversary on 19 March 2015 of the illegal and war criminal US, UK and Australian invasion of Iraq in 2003  that was based on false assertions of Iraqi possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, was conducted in the absence of  UN sanction  or Iraqi threat to the invading nations, and led to 2.7 million Iraqi deaths from  violence (1.5 million) or from violently-imposed deprivation (1.2 million). The West has now commenced its Seventh Iraq War since 1914 in over a century of Western violence in which Iraqi deaths from violence or violently-imposed deprivation have totalled  9 million. However  Western Mainstream media have resolutely ignored  the carnage, this tragically illustrating the adage ‘History ignored yields history repeated’. ” (1)

Permanent warfare and globalizing poverty are hallmarks of this dystopia, as is widespread despair.

“It’s not only the impoverishment of large sectors of the world population;” explains Prof. Michel Chossudovsky:

“It is precipitating people into total despair and it’s the destruction of the institutional fabric, the collapse of schools and hospitals which are closed down, the legal system disintegrating, borders are redefined.

Essentially this stage, which goes beyond impoverishment, is the transformation of countries into territories and we see it occurring in the Middle East. The objective for Iraq and Libya and Yemen is certainly to transform a country into a territory, and then you recolonize it. You’re in a very different environment to that which has prevailed until recently.” (2)

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Axis of Resistance is fighting back against the war lies, the terrorism, the permanent warfare. It is fighting for international law, nation-state sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is fighting against globalized fascism, poverty, and despair.

Those of us in the West who still believe in the ideals of democracy and freedom need to denounce the NATO occupation of our lands, our minds, and our pocket books. We need to denounce wars of aggression, imperialism, and war lies. We need Pro-Life political economies, not Pro-Death diseconomies.

The choice is ours.

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Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.

Notes

(1) Dr. Gideon Polya, “An Iraqi Holocaust, 2.7 Million Iraqi Dead From Violence Or War-imposed Deprivation.” “ICH”, March 27, 2015, (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41378.htm) Accessed January 10, 2020.

(2) Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, “Neoliberalism and the New World Order. IMF-World Bank ‘Reforms’, The Role of Wall Street.” Global Research, 24 March, 2017 Guns and Butter 22 June 2016.
(https://www.globalresearch.ca/neoliberalism-and-the-new-world-order-imf-world-bank-reforms/5572157) Accessed 10 January, 2020.

Featured image is CC BY SA 2.0


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Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

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Video: How and Why Iran Shot Down Ukrainian Boeing

January 14th, 2020 by South Front

On January 10, SouthFront released a video entitled “What’s Behind Boeing Crash In Iran” on the January 8 airliner crash near Tehran. This video was produced because the Iranian side released new facts and details regarding the incident.

The Iran Air Defense Forces brought down the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 (Flight PS752) near Tehran due to “a human error”, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said in an official statement on January 11. The statement denounced the previous Iranian main version that the tragedy was a result of technical malfunction.

The data provided in the statement of the General Staff, and the press conference of the Head of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) provide the following chain of events:

  1. At approximate 23:00 UTC, on January 7, the IRGC carried out a missile strike on US military targets in Iraq;
  2. The country’s air defense network was on highest alert amid reports on a possible cruise missile strike by the United States and increased flights of US warplanes near Iranian airspace;
  3. At 2:38 UTC, January 8, the PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport and moved close to a “sensitive” facility of the IRGC “when completing a loop”. The aircraft reportedly deviated from the general PS752 course for around 2km;
  4. The altitude and the direction of the flight’s movement “were like an enemy target”. The surface-to-air missile system operator mistakenly identified as the plane as an incoming “cruise missile” 19km away;
  5. The missile system operator acted independently because of a failure in the communication system;
  6. The operator then “took the wrong decision” of firing on the perceived threat in a “ten-second” time span to shoot or ignore the flying object. During the night, the operator repeatedly called for a halt in flights in the area. This was not done.
  7. A “short-range missile” exploded next to the plane. After this, the plane continued flying for a while, and “exploded when it hit the ground.” The Iranian side did not mention the missile system used. Supposedly, it was the Tor low to medium altitude, short-range surface-to-air missile system.

Thus, Iran described the situation with the Boeing as a result of the combination of aforementioned factors in the “atmosphere of threats and intimidation by the aggressive American regime against the Iranian nation”. Nonetheless, the real picture of events may have been different.

It remains unclear how the Boeing 737-800 may have been mistaken for an incoming cruise missile, especially taking into account that this situation developed near the capital’s working airport. If one takes this explanation with a grain of salt, the scenario could have been the following.

The plane experienced some technical difficulties during or immediately after the take-off and deviated from the course moving closer to the IRGC military site. Information appeared that the preflight inspection checklist was not signed by Iranian airport engineers, but the Ukrainian side insisted to fly at its own risk and responsibility.

Therefore, the system operator, that experienced a communication failure, considered the plane as a ‘military threat’ because it may have been hijacked for a 9/11-style attack, got under control via a cyber-attack and/or used as a cover for a pinpoint missile strike on the IRGC site.

This version does not explain how the communication failure could appear at the air defense post that must have two shielded communication channels: primary tactical circuit and the alternative. The possible explanation with an electronic warfare attack does not hold up against criticism civilian communication channels remained operational with routine flights continuing from the Tehran airport. Another factor is the video of the missile hit that appeared online. How this person, could have known when and what exactly to film without advance knowledge of the developments?

Then, there is one more explanation: The plane was shot down deliberately to exert additional pressure on Iran from the United States during the alleged acute phase of the crisis between Iran and the United States, which had a chance to develop into an open regional war. In the framework of this version, it could be suspected that the operator may have been recruited by US intelligence or blackmailed, or the system was captured in an act of sabotage by the US or its affiliated forces.

Regardless the existing gaps in the current official version of the events and the real course of the developments, Iran will and further be forced to claim that the airliner shoot down was a “human error”. Iran can ill-afford to admit the lack of control over key objects of military infrastructure in the heart of the country.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin made a surprise Christmas visit to Syria, where he met with the country’s president, Bashar Assad. The tranquility of their meeting was in sharp contrast to the hell breaking out in neighboring Iraq.

The unannounced visit to Syria, where Putin also delivered a Christmas address to Russian forces deployed in that nation, was remarkable. Any visit by a national leader to a foreign war zone is, in and of itself, notable, and let there be no doubt – Syria is an active war zone. But Syria is no run of the mill conflict zone. It is at the center of a complex web of violence involving a myriad of state and non-state actors, including two adversarial nuclear powers – the US and Russia.

The conflict also involves separatist Kurds, Syrian rebels, foreign Islamist terrorists, Hezbollah, the Turkish Army, Israeli and Iranian forces, and the Syrian Army. And while the Syrian conflict has entered what most observers believe is the end game, with the Syrian Army, backed up by the Russian Air Force, engaged in a final offensive against the last militant bastion in Idlib Province, the potential for Syria to explode in violence involving some or all of the forces listed above is a real and present danger.

While Putin was on the ground in Syria, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired at least a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles at US bases on Iraqi soil. These attacks were in retaliation for the US assassination of Qassem Soleimani, a senior IRGC general who was much beloved and respected inside and outside of Iran.

The Iranian government has stated that if the US does not respond to this retaliation, then General Soleimani’s death will have been revenged, and the crisis terminated. If, however, the US were to attack Iran, then Tehran has threatened to attack additional targets in the region, including Israel and the UAE. If this were to transpire, then the situation in the Middle East would devolve into general war that would undoubtedly spread to Israel.

Putin has a record of visiting Russian troops who are deployed in harm’s way. Shortly after taking over the presidency from Boris Yeltsin, Putin made a scheduled trip to Chechnya, where he met with soldiers in Grozny. He has made several similar visits to troops in the troubled Caucasus region since then. In 2017, the president visited Russian troops stationed at the Khmeimim Airbase in Latakia, Syria. Seen in this light, the current trip can not be said to be a particularly unique event. However, the timing of the visit, coinciding as it does with the escalation of violence between the US and Iran in neighboring Iraq, is auspicious.

Putin met with Assad in a joint military operations center, where they received a briefing on the current situation in Syria. The two leaders then went on a tour of the Syrian capital of Damascus, visiting cultural and religious sites. The imagery of these moments, memorializing as they did the close relationship between two wartime allies, contrasted sharply with what was transpiring in Iraq. There, President Donald Trump had deliberately acted in a manner which violated Iraqi sovereignty while breaking international law, assassinating an Iranian official, Soleimani, who had arrived in Iraq at the invitation of the country’s prime minister, Adil Abdul Mahdi, an erstwhile ally of the US. Following this attack, Mahdi made a presentation to the Iraqi parliament, supporting the passage of a resolution ordering all foreign troops out of Iraq. And now Iranian ballistic missiles have rained down on US bases on Iraqi soil.

In the days, weeks and months to come, regional and world leaders will be engaged in concerted diplomacy to contain the US-Iran crisis and prevent a larger conflict that could have extremely detrimental consequences for regional and world peace and security. In the past, the US has stepped forward to assume a leadership role in helping to craft a diplomatic or military solution. But leadership is a two-way street – respect is earned, not assumed. As things currently stand, the US under President Trump has seen its moral authority to lead eroded to such an extent that American diplomacy is little more than an empty vessel.

While the US maintains a sizable and capable military force, which the Iraqi parliament has voted to evict from its soil, force alone cannot compel compliance with Washington’s objectives. In many ways, the chaos unfolding in the Middle East is reflective of the overall unraveling of US credibility brought about by the dysfunctional policies of President Trump.

While there is no way to predict with any degree of certainty how events will ultimately transpire in the Middle East, this much is sure: nations will be looking for someone to fill the vacuum created by the collapse of US authority and influence in Iraq. It is in this context that the visit to Syria by President Putin must be evaluated. It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words. The image of Putin shaking hands with Assad, in contrast with the pictures of Iranian missiles fired at US bases in Iraq, provides a point of comparison that will resonate in the minds of anyone looking for stability over chaos, and peace over war. From this perspective, it speaks volumes.

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Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.

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According to the Pentagon, US forces are in 164 (of the world’s 193) countries.

They’re on over 1,000 US bases of varying sizes and on others of host countries. Much information about their numbers, troop strength, and location is secret.

According to analyst Nick Turse, the US maintains “an imperial military presence (globally) unlike any other” country in world history, adding:

“Never has a single country had so many military bases on so many parts of Planet Earth…How many such bases?”

The Pentagon won’t say. In his book titled “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” Chalmers Johnson explained the following:

“Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies,” adding:

“America’s version of the colony is the military base; and by following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever more all-encompassing imperial footprint and the militarism that grows with it.”

“(E)ven more than in past empires, a well-entrenched militarism (globally lies) at the heart of (US) imperial adventures.”

Reflecting “force projection,” they’re positioned to strike nations anywhere to advance the US imperium, notably against nations targeted for regime change.

They come at an enormous cost. With all categories included, the US spends more on militarism and belligerence than all other countries combined.

Wherever US forces are based, their presence is intrusive at the expense of the host country’s population.

They have nothing to do with protecting host countries from external threats, nothing to do with requests by these countries for a US military presence on their territory.

They’re all about pursuing the US global war OF terror, not on it. Their mission is advancing Washington’s imperium at the expense of world peace, stability and security.

Its aim is controlling other nations, their resources and populations.

Its rage for dominance by brute force and other hostile actions is a prescription for endless wars, instability, chaos, a nation in decline, others rising at its expense.

Numerous US bases in Iraq are key to pursuing its hostile regional agenda. They’re platforms for endless Middle East war.

Controlling Iraqi territory maintains supply lines to Pentagon bases in Syria.

Without Iraqi bases, US control over northern parts of the Syrian Arab Republic would be weakened.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi called the Trump regime’s assassination of Iranian General Soleimani and Iraqi deputy PMU commander Muhandis “a massive breach of (the country’s) sovereignty, (a) “clear breach of the terms of the American forces’ presence.”

He and Iraqi MPs want US forces expelled. According to Mahdi, they’re “guests” in the country no longer wanted. The Iraqi street considers them hostile “occupiers.”

No status of forces agreement (SOFA) authorizes their presence, an informal arrangement alone — to combat the scourge of ISIS the US created and supports.

Terms of an earlier 2009 US SOFA with Iraq (no longer applicable now) required Iraqi government approval for US military operations within or from the country’s territory.

If Baghdad and Iraqi parliamentarians want US forces out of the country, it’ll be illegally occupied territory if Trump refuses to leave, where things now stand.

Their removal from Iraq is essential to advance things toward restoration of regional peace and stability — a blow to Washington’s regional agenda if achieved.

On Monday, Pompeo suggested a possible reduction in the Pentagon’s Iraq’s footprint, short of withdrawing all US forces.

Speaking at the right-wing Hoover Institution, he unjustifiably justified Soleimani’s assassination, repeating his earlier stated litany of bald-faced Big Lies about a widely respected, now martyred, figure in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere regionally.

The US has no intention of voluntarily withdrawing troops from parts of the world where its ruling authorities want them based.

As long as the US empire of bases exists, world peace and stability will remain unattainable.

Iraq wants US forces out of the country. Clearly the Trump regime won’t leave voluntarily. Nor is withdrawal likely any time soon.

Because of the US presence in Middle East countries, the region remains the world’s top hot spot, a hugely dangerous situation, risking greater war than already.

A Final Comment

According to a 2019 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment, Iran’s missile capabilities are formidable, saying:

“Iran has the largest missile force in the Middle East, with a substantial inventory of close-range ballistic missiles (CRBMs), short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), and medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) that can strike targets throughout the region as far as 2,000 (to 2,500) kilometers from (its) borders.”

They can strike anywhere in the Middle East with pinpoint accuracy and destructive force.

The DIA noted that Iran is working to increase the capability of its missile strength.

Its retaliatory strike on US Iraq bases last week in retaliation against Soleimani’s assassination, penetrating its missile defenses, was a slap-on-the-wrist example of its capabilities.

It’s why Pentagon commanders likely oppose tangling with Iran militarily by striking its territory.

All its regional bases, warships, and allied nations would be vulnerable to destructive retaliation.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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Was ist die wirkliche nukleare Bedrohung im Nahen Osten?

January 14th, 2020 by Manlio Dinucci

„Der Iran hält sich nicht an die Nuklearabkommen“ (Il Tempo), „Iran zieht sich aus den Nuklearabkommen zurück – ein Schritt in Richtung Atombombe“ (Corriere della Sera), „Iran bereitet Atombomben vor – Abschied vom Atomabkommen“ (Libero). Auf diese Weise haben fast alle Medien die Entscheidung des Iran nach der von Präsident Trump angeordneten Ermordung von General Soleimani dargestellt, die für 2015 geplanten Beschränkungen der Urananreicherung durch die 5+1-Gruppe (USA, Frankreich, Großbritannien, Russland, China und Deutschland) nicht mehr zu akzeptieren.

Diese „informationsorgane“ haben also offensichtlich keinen Zweifel an der Quelle der nuklearen Bedrohung im Nahen Osten. Sie vergessen, dass es Präsident Trump war, der 2018 die USA aus dem Abkommen, das Israel als „die Kapitulation des Westens vor der vom Iran geführten Achse des Bösen“ bezeichnet hatte, zurückgezogen hat. Sie sagen kein Wort darüber, dass es im Nahen Osten nur eine einzige Atommacht gibt – Israel -, die keiner Form der Kontrolle unterworfen ist, weil sie sich nicht an den Atomwaffensperrvertrag hält, der jedoch vom Iran unterzeichnet ist.

Das durch einen dichten Mantel aus Geheimhaltung und Omertà abgeschirmte Arsenal Israels wird auf 80 bis 400 Atomsprengköpfe geschätzt, zuzüglich genügend Plutonium, um Hunderte von weiteren zu bauen. Israel produziert sicherlich auch Tritium, ein radioaktives Gas, mit dem es Atomwaffen der neuen Generation baut. Dazu gehören Minibomben und Neutronenbomben, die, da sie eine minimale radioaktive Verseuchung verursachen, besser für Ziele in der Nähe von Israel geeignet wären. Die israelischen Nuklearsprengköpfe sind bereit für den Abschuss durch ballistische Raketen, die mit der Jericho 3 eine Reichweite von 8.000 bis 9.000 Kilometern haben. Deutschland lieferte an Israel (als Geschenk oder zum Schleuderpreis) vier für den Start von Popeye Turbo Atomraketen modifizierte Dolphin-U-Boote mit einer Reichweite von etwa 1.500 Kilometern. Lautlos und mit der Fähigkeit, eine Woche lang unter Wasser zu bleiben, fahren die Dolphins im östlichen Mittelmeer, im Roten Meer und im Persischen Golf und sind rund um die Uhr für einen Atomangriff einsatzbereit.

Die Vereinigten Staaten, die Israel bereits mehr als 350 F-15 und F-16 Jagdbomber geliefert haben, liefern derzeit mindestens 75 F-35 Jäger aus, die ebenfalls sowohl über konventionelle als auch über nukleare Kapazitäten verfügen. Das erste Geschwader der israelischen F-35 wurde im Dezember 2017 einsatzbereit. Israel Aerospace Industries stellt Tragflächenkomponenten her, die die F-35 für den Radar unsichtbar machen. Mit dieser Technologie, die auch bei den italienischen F-35 angewendet wird, potenziert Israel die Angriffskapazitäten seiner Nuklearstreitkräfte.

Israel, mit 200 Atomwaffen, die permanent auf den Iran gerichtet sind, wie der ehemalige US-Außenminister Colin Powell 2015 [1] angedeutet hat, ist entschlossen, sein Monopol der Bombe im Nahen Osten aufrechtzuerhalten, indem es den Iran daran hindert, ein ziviles Atomprogramm zu entwickeln, das eines Tages den Bau von Atomwaffen ermöglichen könnte, eine Befugnis, die heute Dutzende von Ländern auf der ganzen Welt haben. Im Kreislauf der Urangewinnung gibt es keine klare Grenze zwischen der zivilen und militärischen Nutzung von spaltbarem Material. Um das iranische Nuklearprogramm zu blockieren, ist Israel entschlossen, alle Mittel einzusetzen, die ihm zur Verfügung stehen. Die Ermordung von vier iranischen Atomwissenschaftlern zwischen 2010 und 2012 war höchstwahrscheinlich das Werk des Mossad.

Die israelischen Nuklearstreitkräfte sind im Rahmen des „Individuellen Kooperationsprogramms“ mit Israel, einem Land, das nicht Mitglied des Bündnisses ist, aber eine ständige Mission im Hauptquartier des Bündnisses in Brüssel hat, in das elektronische System der NATO integriert. Nach dem Plan, der bei der Übung Juniper Cobra 2018getestet wurde, würden die amerikanischen Streitkräfte über Europa (vor allem von italienischen Stützpunkten aus) eintreffen, um Israel in einem Krieg gegen den Iran [2] zu unterstützen, ein Krieg, der mit einem israelischen Angriff auf iranische Nuklearanlagen beginnen könnte, wie er auf dem iranischen Gelände von Osiraq durchgeführt wurde. Die Jerusalem Post [3] bestätigt, dass Israel über nicht-nukleare Anti-Bunker-Bomben verfügt, die insbesondere mit den F-35, die den iranischen Nuklearstandort Fordow treffen können, eingesetzt werden können. Aber der Iran, obwohl er keine Atomwaffen besitzt, verfügt über eine militärische Abwehrkapazität, die Jugoslawien, Irak und Libyen zum Zeitpunkt der Angriffe der USA und der NATO nicht besaßen. In diesem Fall könnte Israel eine Atomwaffe einsetzen, indem er eine Kettenreaktion auslöst, die unvorhersehbare Folgen hat.

Manlio Dinucci

 

Qual è la vera minaccia nucleare in Medio Oriente

il manifesto, 07.Januari 2020

Übersetzung: K.R.

  • Posted in Deutsch
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Mark Esper, the former US Secretary of Defense (it’s a matter of time now) said that his chief Donald Trump lied to the US citizens about the justification to carry out the most heinous murder crimes against two top commanders who fought ISIS and saved US and European lives, including the soldiers from the USA and Europe.

That’s how I read the ‘breaking news’ I received from The New York Times in my inbox. Other info about this is nothing but useless details, especially to those who are concerned.

New York Times Mark Esper

Screenshot of The New York Times ‘breaking news’ email notification

This might be breaking news to ignorant people, but there was no planned attack against any US interest in the region or elsewhere by the murdered commanders Iranian IRGC’s top General Qasim Soleimani and Iraqi top security force commander and Deputy Head of the PMU Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

Trump killed these two top commanders based on his own lies by the orders of the Israeli embattled Netanyahu to save the necks of both of them.

It was totally the contrary, the Iranian General Soleimani was on a PEACE Mission to defuse tensions between Iran and Saudi carrying a reply message from Iran to the Saudis through the Iraqi mediator Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, and what drove the Iranians and the Iraqi officials further mad at the US President Trump and the US Army is that Trump knew about the mission of General Soleimani and when he was arriving from the Iraqi PM by a phone call the same day.

This is what Mr. Abdul-Mahdi told the Iraqi Parliament during the historic session which voted to expel the US forces out of the country.

Everything else you heard of from the western mainstream media propagandists is full of their usual Pentagon propaganda, but wait, maybe the Pentagon itself is not happy about what happened like what its chief has come out to tell.

Mark Esper spilled out what could be his last statement as the Defense Secretary of the US, since his chief the absolute dictator of large Trump Inc., ie. the USA, doesn’t like other opinions than his and has a short but rich history of firing those who have any other opinions ‘You’re Fired’.

Don’t blame Trump or even his contenders at the US presidential race in 2016 especially crooked Hillary, it’s the USAians who look through the bottom of the degenerated society that thrives among them and pick the worse of it to lead them. They turned a Republic into a ‘Lobbycracy’ and called it ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ and they want to export the surplus of their invention by all means of force, terror, and intimidation to the rest of the world.

Side note: Why does the US ‘Vile‘ President Pence keep staring at his boss throughout all the conferences when they’re together?

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Featured image is from Syria News

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he didn’t see any specific evidence that Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was planning an imminent attack, which had been widely used by Trump as the justification of his assassination along with Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.  “What the president said was he believed that it probably and could’ve been attacks against additional embassies,” he said.

While Trump was apparently making Ouiji-board foreign policy decisions, Esper was worried about the US troops now in Iraq, and with more on their way, whether these troops had the support of the American people; however, the American people want to see proof of why those troops need to be there, otherwise there is a case for bringing them back home to safety.

Time to go home

Iraqis feel the US was first an invader in 2003, and then left Iraq with a sectarian constitution which has the country deeply divided.  “It is not true that we Iraqis are divided into either hating the US or loving Iran. We appreciated both for fighting ISIS, but that is over and we need to be independent,” said Nezar George, a welder in Baghdad.

More than 60% of Iraqis are Shiite, which is the state religion of their neighbor, Iran.  Post-war political parties, and their leaders, were formed with stances of either pro-US or pro-Iran. The US is secular and touts religious freedom.  All Americans live side by side, not in segregated ghettos, but diverse communities. The US imposed a constitution on Iraq which maintains divisions by religion and sect.  The Iraqi people identify with their sect, which is translated into sectarian political parties. Patriotism is a foreign concept, which could only be nurtured in Iraq by time spent under a secular government.  They pledge their allegiance to their family, their sect, and their party. Iraq is now referred to as either Sunni or Shiite, with the Christians having been virtually eliminated by the US invasion, and ISIS.

After seeing over 1 million Iraqis murdered by US troops, the Iraqi government invited them to return in 2014 to fight ISIS. However, after ISIS was defeated in 2017, Iraqi politicians are determined to oust the US troops. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi telephoned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday and asked him to “send delegates to Iraq regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq,” and said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements.  He appeared to give the US time to plan for the withdrawal of about 5,200 US troops in Iraq. The US State Department acknowledged that Pompeo had spoken with Abdul-Mahdi, but neglected to mention withdrawal.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mark Esper have said there were no plans for the US to leave Iraq. The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution to expel US troops after the Trump ordered the assassination of Soleimani and Muhandis at Baghdad’s airport.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged opposing factions to unite. The cleric was born in Iran but has lived most of his life in Iraq.

“The serious attacks and repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty that occurred in recent days with the apparent weakness of the concerned authorities in protecting the country and its people … are part of the repercussions of the current crisis,” al-Sistani said.

Ammar al-Shibli, a member of the parliament, said

“There is no need for the presence of American forces after defeating Daesh (ISIS),” and added, “We have our own armed forces which are capable of protecting the country.”

“The guests arrive, and later the party is over, but they won’t go home. What do we do? We make their stay with us so unbearable; they will leave on their own,” said Abdul Khayat, a Baghdad pizza baker.

Trump Flip-Flops

Trump broke the Iran nuclear deal that the US had agreed to, along with other nations, in a head-spinning reversal. Without offering anything to take its place, he then slapped drastic sanctions of Iran which have devastated the economy, going so far as to prevent humanitarian medicines to be imported.

Trump threatened to freeze billions of Iraqi dollars in the New York Fed if Iraq insists the US troops must withdraw; however, in almost the next breath he suggest on Friday he would not oppose a troop withdrawal from Iraq, “I’m OK with it,” Trump said on a Fox News interview.

After the constant reversals by Trump, the Iranians might be waiting it out, hoping to deal with a future US president who they can trust to keep a deal.

Soleimani history

Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport by invitation of the PM Abdul-Mahdi to attend a regional peace talk when he was assassinated by Trump. He was the head of Iran’s Quds Force and also the mastermind of the Iraqi militia networks, who are part of the Iraqi military structure. In 2014, when ISIS came into Iraq, a religious ruling was issued calling on all Iraqis to fight against ISIS; however, most Iraqis did not enlist in the Iraqi armed forces but instead joined militias supported by Iran.

The millions of people in Iraq and Iran who attended his funeral revered him. Lebanese and Syrian people remembered he helped to save them from ISIS. Noam Chomsky wrote, “They have not forgotten that when the huge, heavily armed US trained Iraqi Army quickly collapsed, and the Kurdish capital of Erbil, then Baghdad and all of Iraq were about to fall in the hands of ISIS, it was Soleimani and the Iraqi Shia militias he organized that saved the country.”

The mainstream media reporting the death of Soleimani have all chanted the same mantra: that he was responsible for hundreds of Americans’ deaths.  They refer to US forces killed by IEDs during the Iraq War; however, the Pentagon has provided no evidence that Iran made those IEDs.  That unproven claim was used by VP Dick Cheney in his plan to wage a US war on Iran.

Soleimani and his militiamen targeted US troops or contractors/mercenaries stationed in a country that the US illegally attacked and occupied.  Under Soleimani’s leadership, the Iraqi militias provided effective military resistance to foreign occupying forces. The US was not an innocent party getting accidentally trapped into going to war, rather it was actively pursuing it.  Michelle Goldberg explains, “To Iranians, after all, America is the aggressor.”

Even though the US might have viewed Iran, and Soleimani as an enemy, the US troops fought alongside the Iraqi militias under Soleimani’s command in the 2014-2017 fight against ISIS. Law scholar Karen Greenberg wrote that killing Soleimani was illegal and an “inevitable outcome of our dangerous ‘war on terror’ policy.”

The locals have a saying, “Saddam Hussein’s Hell was better than the Americans’ paradise.”

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This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse.

Steven Sahiounie is a political commentator.

Featured image is from Mideast Discourse

The United States is relying more heavily on illegal unilateral coercive measures (also known as economic sanctions) in place of war or as part of its build-up to war. In fact, economic sanctions are an act of war that kills tens of thousands of people each year through financial strangulation. An economic blockade places a country under siege.

A recent example is the increase in economic measures being imposed against Iran, which many viewed as more acceptable than a military attack. In response to Iran retaliating for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani and seven other people, Iran used ballistic missiles to strike two bases in Iraq that house US troops. President Trump responded by saying he would impose more sanctions on Iran. Then he ended his comments by urging peace negotiations with Iran. The United States needs to understand there will be no negotiations with Iran until the US lifts sanctions that seek to destroy the Iranian economy and turn the people against their government.

The sanctions on Iran have been in place since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which made that country independent of the United States. Iran is not the only country being sanctioned by the United States. Samuel Moncada, the Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, speaking to the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement of 120 nations on October 26, 2019, denounced the imposition of sanctions by the US, as “economic terrorism which affects a third of humanity with more than 8,000 measures in 39 countries.”

It is time to end US economic warfare and repeal these unilateral coercive measures, which violate international law.

Take Action: Join The International Days Of Action Against  Sanctions And Economic WarMarch 13 – 15, 2020

Sanctions are war. From havaar.org.

Sanctions Are A Weapon of War

The United States uses sanctions against countries that resist the US’ agenda. US sanctions are designed to kill by destroying an economy through denial of access to finance, causing hyperinflation and shortages and blocking basic necessities such as food and medicine. For example, sanctions are expected to cause the death of tens of thousands of Iranians by creating a severe shortage of critical medicines and medical equipment everywhere in Iran.

Muhammad Sahimi writes that in a “letter published by The Lancet, the prestigious medical journal, three doctors working in Tehran’s MAHAK Pediatric Cancer Treatment and Research Center warned that, ‘Re-establishment of sanctions, scarcity of drugs due to the reluctance of pharmaceutical companies to deal with Iran, and a tremendous increase in oncology drug prices [due to the plummeting value of the Iranian rial by 50–70%], will inevitably lead to a decrease in survival of children with cancer.’”

Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and asthma affect over ten million Iranians who will find essential medicines impossible to get or available only at high prices. The US claims that food and medicines are excluded from sanctions but in practice, they are not because pharmaceutical companies fear sanctions being applied to them over some technical violation and Iran cannot pay for essentials when banks can’t do business with it. European nations failed to persuade the Trump administration to ensure that essential medicine and food were available to Iranians.

In Venezuela, due to the sanctions, 180,000 medical operations have been canceled and 823,000 chronically ill patients are awaiting medicines. The Center for Economic and Policy Research found sanctions have deprived Venezuela of “billions of dollars of foreign exchange needed to pay for essential and life-saving imports,” contributing to 40,000 total deaths in 2017 and 2018. More than 300,000 Venezuelans are at risk due to a lack of access to medicine or treatment. Economists warn US sanctions could cause famine in Venezuela. Sanctions also cause shortages of parts and equipment needed for electricity generation, water systems, and transportation as well as preventing participation in the global financial market. Sanctions, which are illegal under the UN, OAS and US law, have caused mass protests in Venezuela against the US.

Sanctions against Iran and Venezuela could be a prelude to military attack, i.e. the US weakening a nation economically before attacking it. This is what happened in Iraq. Under pressure from the United States, on Aug. 2, 1990, the UN Security Council passed sanctions that required countries to stop trading or carrying out financial transactions with Iraq. President George H.W. Bush said the UN sanctions would not be lifted “as long as Saddam Hussein is in power.” The US continued to pressure the increasingly skeptical Security Council members into compliance even though hundreds of thousands of children were dying. In 1996, then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright was asked about the death of as many as 500,000 children due to lack of medicine and malnutrition exacerbated by the sanctions, and she brutally replied, “[The] price is worth it.” Sanctions were also used against Libya and Syria before the US attacked them.

This is consistent with the US ‘way of war’ described by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz in “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” which describes frontier counterinsurgency premised on annihilation including the destruction of food, housing, and resources as well as ruthless militarism. The US has waged a long-term economic war against Cuba (sanctions in place since 1960), North Korea (first sanctions in the 1950s, tightened in the 1980s), Zimbabwe (2003) and Iran (1979)

Sanctions hurt civilians, especially the most vulnerable – babies, children, the elderly and chronically ill – not governments. Their intent is to shrink the economy and cause chronic shortages and hyperinflation while ensuring a lack of access to finance to pay for essentials. The US then blames the targeted government claiming that corruption or socialism is the problem in an effort to turn the people against their government. This often backfires as people instead rally around the government, quiet their calls for democracy and work to develop a resistance economy.

Stop Sanctions destroying lives from BrightonAndHoveNews.org.

The Movement to End Sanctions

In recent years, a movement has been building to end the use of illegal economic coercive measures. The movement includes governments coming together in forums like the Non-Aligned Movement, made up of countries that represent 55 percent of the global population, as well as UN member-states calling for international law and the UN Charter to be upheld and social movements organizing to educate about the impact of sanctions and demand an end to their use. This June, the Non-Aligned Movement called for the end of sanctions against Venezuela.

Popular Resistance is working with groups around the world on the Global Appeal for Peace, an initiative to create a worldwide network of people and organizations that will work together to oppose the lawless actions of the United States, and any country that acts similarly. A high priority is opposing the imposition of unilateral coercive economic measures that violate the charter of the United Nations. The UN and its International Court of Justice have been ineffective in holding the US accountable for its actions. No one country or one movement has the power alone to hold the United States accountable, but together we can make a difference. Join this campaign here.

With 39 countries targeted with sanctions, and other countries impacted because they cannot trade with those countries, nations are challenging the US’ dollar domination. Countries are seeking to conduct trade without the dollar and are no longer treating the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency while also avoiding Wall Street. The de-dollarization of the global economy is a boomerang effect that is hastening due to the abuse of sanctions and will seriously weaken the US economy.

Foreign Minister Zarif, who describes sanctions as “economic terrorism,” warned that “the excessive use of economic power by the United States, and the excessive use of the dollar as a weapon in US economic terrorism against other countries, will backfire.”  As the blowback continues to grow, the negative impact on the US economy may force the US to stop using sanctions. The end of dollar domination will add to the demise of the failing US empire.

Take Action: Join The International Days Of Action Against  Sanctions And Economic WarMarch 13 – 15, 2020

End the Deadly Sanctions banner on the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC. From the Embassy Defense Collective.

Time to End the Use of Illegal Economic Sanctions

The combination of countries acting against US sanctions, and people’s movements pressuring the US government has the potential to end the abuse of sanctions. The EU has moved to blunt the impact of the sanctions against Iran by creating an alternative to the US-controlled SWIFT system for trade. This is spurring the end of the dollar as the reserve currency. Some officials in the EU have called for retaliatory sanctions against the US.

Trump left a small opening for potential diplomacy with Iran that could lead to the end of sanctions against that country. Trump bragged about the US being the number one oil and gas producer, taking credit for an Obama climate crime, and therefore no longer needing to spend hundreds of millions a year to have troops in the Middle East. He concluded with a message to the “people and leaders of Iran” that the US was “ready to have peace with all those who seek it.” He said the US wanted Iran to have a “great and prosperous future with other countries of the world.”

That future is only possible if the US moves to end the sanctions against Iran. Iranians have learned the US cannot be trusted. Iran lived up to the requirements of the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but Trump did not when he withdrew from it and re-instated draconian sanctionslifted by Obama. Trump added even move sanctions. This also angered European allies who had negotiated the agreement and were put in the positionof being subservient to the US or going against it. To regain Iran’s trust, the US needs to make a good-faith gesture of ending punitive economic measures.

North Korea, which has been sanctioned by the US longer than any other country, had a similar experience after they reached an agreement with the United States in 1994 under the Clinton administration.  The George W. Bush administration wanted to put in place a national missile defense system but the agreement with North Korea blocked that. John Bolton and Dick Cheney falsely accused North Korea of violating the agreement, increased sanctions against it and claimed it was part of the Axis of Evil, along with Iran, and Iraq. North Korea, like Iran, learned they cannot trust the United States. Sanctions are causing thousands of deaths in North Korea. Now, China and Russia are allied with North Korea and are urging relief from the US sanctions. Russia and China have also ignored US sanctions against Venezuela and continue to do business with it.

On December 17, the Senate passed a Sanctions Bill that put in place sanctions against corporations working with Russia to develop gas pipelines to Europe. The action is naked US imperialism seeking to prevent Russia from being the main natural gas exporter to the EU market and to replace it with more expensive US-produced gas, a move to save the financially-underwater US fracking industry. Russia, Germany, and others have defiantly told Washington its weaponizing of economic sanctions will not halt the gas pipeline construction.

The indiscriminate, illegal and immoral use of sanctions is an act of war. Unless they are authorized by the United Nations, unilateral coercive measures are illegal. A critical objective of the peace and justice movement in the United States, working with allies around the world, must be to end this terrorist economic warfare. The US economy currently depends on financial hegemony and war. The slow, steady collapse of the dollarized economy means the 2020s will be the decade US domination comes to an end. The US must learn to be a cooperative member of the global community or risk this isolation and retaliation.

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Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers co-direct Popular Resistance where this article was originally published. 

Argentina: Facing Another Debt Crisis

January 14th, 2020 by Eric Toussaint

Let us remember that when Macri started his mandate in December 2015 he accepted all the injunctions formulated by a New York magistrate, who had ruled in the favor of vulture funds against Argentina. This has made it possible for those investment funds specializing in repurchasing sovereign securities at cut prices to garner $4.6 billion, a 300% profit (see this). To compensate these vulture funds, Mauricio Macri borrowed on the financial markets. He claimed that everything would be fine since implementing neoliberal policies would make Argentina more attractive to foreign investors and lenders. International mainstream media supported him. When invited to comment experts in economics presented Macri’s Argentina as a success story. Issuing in 2017 bonds that would come to maturity one hundred years later, (2117) was hailed as the ultimate proof of Macri’s pro-market neoliberal success.

In fact, the success of those bonds had a completely different explanation: the interest rate every year for one hundred years is 7.25% (with an actual return on the initial purchase price of 7.917% for the bonds were sold at a cut price to attract investors). At the same time in early June 2017, bankers could borrow at 0% from the ECB, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank, at 0.25% from the Bank of England and at 1.00% from the Federal Reserve in the US, while investment funds had huge amounts of cash and return on public debt securities in the North was very low or even negative, Argentine bonds at 7.25% over one hundred years was a godsend. Their success was thus in no way evidence of the Argentine economy’s good health. There is such a huge amount of capital intended for speculation (and not for productive investment) that any State that issues sovereign securities with a return that is higher than average is likely to find takers.

Here is an example of comments to be found in the press heralding the 100 year bonds:

Argentina sold $2.75 billion of a hotly demanded 100-year bond in U.S. dollars on Monday, just over a year after emerging from its latest default, according to the government. The South American country received $9.75 billion in orders for the bond, as investors eyed a yield of 7.9 percent in an otherwise low yielding fixed income market where pension funds need to lock in long-term returns. This Reuters report clearly celebrates the country’s achievement (see this).

One year earlier, in April 2016, Reuters reported:

Marking a rare bright spot among gloomy emerging markets, Argentina sold $16.5 billion of sovereign debt on Tuesday in its first international bond issue since its record 2002 default… Investors seemed convinced of [new President Mauricio Macri’s] strategy… Argentina received offers worth $68.6 billion from investors around the world.

Anybody will understand from such hyperbolic comments that major capitalist corporations all over the world were on the lookout for opportunities to obtain high yield by purchasing high risk securities. It does not tell anything about Argentina’s economic health.

Potential lenders such as investment funds or major banks thought that Argentine securities would be guaranteed by the State of Argentina and that if necessary they could seek favorable adjudication in the jurisdiction of New York. They were right since the loan agreements were made in accordance with the law of the State of New York. Anyway, they were also convinced that in case of necessity the IMF would bail-out the government of Argentina so that it may repay its debt to private funds as it had always done. Another argument was the following: Argentina’s underground resources are significant and if hard pressed Argentina could increase production in order to meet lenders’ expectations.

In short, in 2016-2017, while Argentina’s real economy was collapsing, the government managed to find lenders and its right-wing government was praised in international media as well as by the IMF and by other governments in the hold of big capital.

But the situation took a turn for the worse in 2018 as a consequence of several negative factors resulting from Macri’s policies such as a steep rise in the amount of interests to be paid (which had to be financed by ever new loans), massive flight of capital that was made possible by a most lax policy of complete freedom for capital to leave the country. It showed that Argentine capitalists had limited confidence in Macri’s future and preferred shopping elsewhere including buying Argentine external debt securities in US dollars on Wall Street. Currency reserves sharply dropped. Production started to decline and Argentina slipped into recession. Employment plummeted. Most people’s purchasing power dropped as a consequence of the government’s and bosses’ attacks. As a result, domestic consumption, that accounted for 70% of Argentina’s GDP, also dropped. The Argentine peso gradually sunk: while 22 pesos bought one euro on 1st January 2018, 32 pesos were needed on 16 June 2018. [1]

In this context, in June 2018, Macri called on the IMF as foreign investors and Argentine capitalists had anticipated (see this). The total credit promised by the IMF rose to $57 billion (with $44.1 billion actually paid up to now). As a first step, in June 2018, the amount of $50 billion had been announced and a few months later, as the situation had not improved, $7 more billion were added. This is the highest ever loan granted by the IMF (the IMF’s loan to Greece in 2010 was €30 billion). As usual the IMF demanded even stricter austerity policies that were even more unpopular than those already introduced by Macri (see this).

In October 2019, the Argentine people turned away from Macri and elected the Peron political movement back into office after an intermission of four years. Alberto Fernandez became President and Cristina Fernandez, who was President from 2007 to 2015, Vice-President (Alberto and Cristina are not related).

The CADTM’s Latin American and Caribbean network, CADTM AYNA, held its 8th annual assembly in preparation of Alberto Fernandez succeeding Mauricio Macri as President (10 December 2019). I participated in the meeting as well as in several talks and debates including one at the parliament of Argentina. I also gave four interviews: fifteen minutes live on a popular private and anti-Macri TV channel (see this); a video for an information website (see this) connected with the main civil service trade union, Canal Abierto (see this); one on the main website of the revolutionary left laizquierdadiario (the daily paper of the Left) which has an average of two million visits per month; and one to the main center left newspaper, Pagina 12.

The rate of poverty strongly increased over the four years of Macri’s mandate, going from 27 to 40% of the population. In the days before Macri left the Presidency to the two Fernandezs debt repayment was the most debated issue.

On the other hand, we should emphasize that social and political movements in Argentina are massive and well organized: trade unions are still powerful, the feminist movement is still able to mobilize on a large scale, the unemployed too are well organized, the cooperative movement is strong. The various neoliberal experiments that started with the dictatorship (1976-1983) and that had their latest attempt under Macri have not been able to fracture the Argentine society and, contrary to what is the case in neighboring Chile, education is free including at university level, as indeed is health care.

The questions most often raised in Argentine media during the November-December 2019 period

  • While the previous government had suspended repayment of part of the internal debt, will the new government repay the accumulated debt and implement policies that have been rejected by a majority of the people?
  • What should be done with the IMF agreements?
  • Since the IMF is expected to pay Argentina $11 to 13 billion, must the new government demand those payments or withdraw from them?
  • Shouldn’t Argentina suspend debt repayment for two years so as to make sure that economic activity resumes properly and make later debt repayment sustainable? This is a suggestion by Martin Guzman, an Argentine economist who teaches in New York and works with Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate for economy. Guzman has just been appointed minister for economy and finance in Alberto Fernandez’ new government (see this and this)

A majority of the people clearly reject the IMF, whose deleterious impact on Argentina is obvious to all and sundry. It has to be remembered that after the second world war, president Juan Domingo Perón had turned down his country’s adhesion to the IMF, an institution he exposed as an instrument of imperialism. [2] Argentina only joined the IMF in 1956 during the military dictatorship of General Pedro Eugenio Aramburu Silveti, who overthrew the constitutional president Juan Domingo Perón in 1955. Twenty years later, the IMF actively supported the bloody dictatorship of General Jorge Rafael Videla, who was responsible for the assassination of over 30,000 left-wing opponents. In the 1990s, the IMF put Argentina under pressure to turn it into one of the most active countries in terms of privatizations and structural adjustment. This eventually resulted in the massive upheaval of December 2001, which led to the fall of President Fernando de la Rúa.

During the public lectures organized by ATTAC- CADTM in collaboration with some ten other associations in Buenos Aires from 27 to 29 November 2019, I had the opportunity as international spokesperson for the CADTM to put forward a number of proposals to face the Argentine debt crisis. Those proposals are the result of wide ranging debates within the CADTM network. This was also the case at a hearing held in the Parliament of Argentina on 27 November at the initiative of economist Fernanda Vallejos, an MP in the new presidential majority (see my contribution in Spanish).

The following is a summary of my points and proposals.

There should be no hesitation in arguing the doctrine of odious debt because it is particularly applicable to the situation in which Argentina finds itself.

According to this doctrine a debt is deemed odious and nullified if it fulfils two conditions:

  1. it was taken on against the interests of the Nation, the People or the State.
  2. the creditors are unable to prove that they were unaware that the debt was contrary to the interests of the Nation. It is to be pointed out that the nature of the political regime or the government is not taken into consideration in the doctrine.

The deciding factor is the use that is made of the debt. If a democratically elected government puts its population into debt against their best interest this debt may be deemed odious. It is erroneous to say that only debts taken on by dictatorial regimes may be deemed odious (see this). [3]

It is fundamental that Argentina unilaterally takes sovereign measures to improve its debt situation.

Five principal examples:

  1. pass laws prohibiting vulture funds
  2. suspend debt repayments
  3. bond holders must be registered with the Buenos Aires authorities
  4. setting up a citizens’ debt audit
  5. repudiation of current agreements with the IMF

1 – Pass laws prohibiting vulture funds

As Belgium showed in 2008 and again in 2015, it is possible to pass laws restricting vulture funds (see Renaud Vivien, « Analyse de la loi belge du 12 juillet 2015 contre les fonds vautours et de sa conformité au droit de l’UE »,  (see this in French)). The act of law is quite simple – an investment fund cannot reclaim sums superior to what it paid to acquire treasury bills. In fact, vulture funds purchase the sovereign debts of countries with repayment difficulties at junk prices and then apply legal pressure on the government concerned to pay in full and so make profits sometimes amounting to several hundred per cent of their initial layout. If Argentina passed a similar law it would have some protection against vulture funds. If many countries did the same vulture funds would be neutralized. The practice of designating foreign jurisdictions (such as New York or London with laws that are favourable to creditors) as competent in the case of sovereign debt litigations must end.

2 – Suspend debt repayments

Suspending debt repayments is one of the possibilities that permit governments to deal with financial and/or humanitarian crises. The country may declare suspension unilaterally, many have done so. It was the case of Argentina between 2001 and 2005 for a total of €80 billion and the benefits followed.

In a collective book published by OUP in 2010, [4] Stiglitz claims that Russia in 1998 and Argentina in the 2000s are proof that a unilateral suspension of debt repayment can be beneficial for countries that make this decision: “Both theory and evidence suggest that the threat of a cut-off of credit has probably been exaggerated.” (p.48)

When a country succeeds in enforcing debt relief on its creditors and uses funds that were formerly meant for repayment in order to finance an expansionist tax policy, this yields positive results: “Under this scenario the number of the firms that are forced into bankruptcy is lowered, both because of the lower interest rates [5] and because of the improved overall economic performance of the economy that follows. As the economy strengthens, government tax revenues increase – again improving the fiscal position of the government. […] All this means that the government’s fiscal position is stronger going forward, making it more (not less) likely that creditors will be willing to again provide finance.” (p.48) In an article published in Journal of Development Economics [6] under the title ‘The Elusive Costs of Sovereign Defaults,’ Eduardo Levy Yeyati and Ugo Panizza, two economists who worked for the Inter-American Development Bank, set out the findings of their thorough inquiry into defaulting in some forty countries. One of their main conclusions is that ‘Default episodes mark the beginning of the economic recovery.’ It couldn’t be better put.

As was already done in 2001 Argentina should not hesitate to declare a new unlimited suspension of payments. The recuperated amounts could be used to stimulate consumer spending and economic activities favouring the population. Two years would appear to be a minimum period to achieve lasting results with the possibility of prolonging the period.

It is recommended to suspend selectively – small savers and shareholders as well as public pension schemes should be exempted from suspension on the domestic debt. This means that they would continue to be paid. It is quite right to make this discrimination in order to protect the weaker investors and public institutions. It is the big private investors and the IMF who are to be defaulted.

3 – Bond holders must be registered with the Buenos Aires authorities

Argentine authorities should revive the practice of the first half of the 20th century that established lists of bond holders. In the litigation between Mexico and its creditors in the 1940s the creditors were obliged to make themselves known and have their certificates rubber stamped or be excluded from settlement. This permitted the cancellation of 90% of the Mexican debt (see this). Registering bond holders makes it possible to sort big and small, private and public bond holders in order to favour small and public holders.

4 – Setting up a citizens’ debt audit

To have a clear idea of the stakes and sums involved and a solid legal arsenal it is essential to conduct an audit of the debt under citizens’ control. An audit would show how much of the debt (possibly an overwhelming part) may be deemed illegal or odious and could be the way forward towards debt repudiation and/or a unilateral restructuring.

5 – Repudiation of current agreements with the IMF

As has been shown by many observers and Argentine jurists the agreements made with the IMF by Mauricio Macri are contrary to the country’s and the people’s interests. When the IMF granted a loan of $57 billion to the Macri government it transgressed its own rules that state that the IMF can only grant loans if as a consequence the borrowing country’s debt becomes sustainable, which is not at all the case as evidenced less than a year later. Macri also transgressed the Argentine constitution that requires that the signature of such an agreement that has the value of an international treaty must be debated in Parliament and then be ratified by Parliament. The real reason the loan was granted was because the US President Donald Trump wanted to help Macri remain in power in spite of the crisis and win the 2019 elections, to implement policies that favoured the US in political, military and economic terms. As the Argentine electors have disavowed Macri’s policies and Macri had transgressed the Argentine constitution, the new government would have the right to refuse to validate the agreement. This is a text-book case of odious debt: when a country sees regime change the new government is not held to respect the debts of its predecessors if they were taken on against the interest of the Nation or the People and in the former regime’s own advantage (in this case to remain in power) and it is clear that the IMF directors were aware of the context.

It is important that Argentina does not make the same errors of debt negotiation as in the 2002-2010 period (see the analysis by Maud Bailly and Eric Toussaint, “The mixed fortunes of Argentina’s 2005 and 2010 debt restructuring”).

The above measures should be part and parcel of a larger programme that would include; capital controls, socialization of the banking sector, tax reforms, measures against the extractivist/exportation market model and ecological policies among others.

In conclusion: a new situation will arise in Argentina as from December 2019, a new government must face up to a serious debt crisis. It is fundamental that a large popular social and political front be created in order, by all necessary means, to promote the solutions that will liberate the Argentine people from the burden of illegitimate and odious debt.

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Translated by Mike Krolikowski and Christine Pagnoulle

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.

Notes

[1] End of September 2018, 48 pesos were needed for one euro, and 66 in early December 2019.

[2] Noemí Brenta y Pablo Anino, « Una de terror: la historia de Argentina y el FMI », https://www.laizquierdadiario.com/Una-de-terror-la-historia-de-Argentina-y-el-FMI

[3] The father of the odious debt doctrine, Alexander Sack says very clearly that a regular governmentmay very well agree to debt that is odious. He says “ For a debt taken on by a regular government to be considered odious, it must…” Sack defines a regular government as follows: ”We must consider as regular government the supreme power that reigns over given territory. Whether that power be monarchic (absolute or limited) or republican, reigning by the grace of God or the will of the people or only a portion of them or whether it was legally established or not, etc. None of this has any importance for the question we are considering (p. 6) (our emphasis). Source: Les effets des transformations des États sur leurs dettes publiques et autres obligations financières : traité juridique et financier, Recueil Sirey, Paris, 1927. The document almost entirely complete is available for consultation or download on the CADTM website here (in French).

[4] Barry Herman, José Antonio Ocampo, Shari Spiegel, Overcoming Developing Country Debt Crises, OUP Oxford, 2010.

[5] Indeed one of the conditions set by the IMF when it helps a country about to default is that it raise local interest rates. If a country is free not to comply with IMF conditions, it can lower its interest rates so as to prevent bankruptcies.

[6] Journal of Development Economics 94 (2011), 95-105.

 

SELECTED ARTICLES FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH 

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India’s Kashmiri Detainee Self-Censorship Demand Is Undemocratic

By Andrew Korybko, January 14, 2020

India’s demand that thousands of Kashmiri detainees sign a bond that commits them to not to make any comments on “recent events” as a condition for their release after they were previously apprehended without charge for five months already is the definition of an undemocratic practice which exposes the fundamental hypocrisy behind the self-professed “world’s largest democracy”.

Iran to Sue the US and Trump for Killing General Soleimani

By Stephen Lendman, January 14, 2020

According to Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Esmayeeli, the country’s ruling authorities will sue the US in international courts for Soleimani’s assassination. “This brutal act was a violation of human rights and all international rules,” Esmayeeli stressed.

The Cost of Brexit – £200 bn in ‘Collateral Damage’ and Counting

By True Publica, January 14, 2020

Brexit has now cost the UK £130bn in what is termed as “collateral damage” since the referendum, a new study suggests. And this number is set to rise another £70bn by the end of 2020.

Bloomberg Economics said Britain’s economy had been “lacklustre” over the three-and-a-half years since a majority of voters backed Leave in the EU referendum in 2016.

Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

By Philip Giraldi, January 14, 2020

If one seriously seeks to understand how delusional policymakers in Washington are it is only necessary to examine the responses by the president and Congress to the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. The first response came in the form of a Donald Trump largely incoherent nine-minute self-applauding speech explaining what he had done and why. It was followed by a House of Representatives War Powers non-binding resolution that was all theater and did nothing to limit the president’s unilateral ability to go to war with the Islamic Republic.

Trump Sends a “Death Threat” to Iraq’s Prime Minister.

By Renee Parsons, January 13, 2020

The assassination of Major General Qaseem Soleimani, who was already a national hero in Iran, has now achieved the stature of a world class martyr. Carrying a diplomatic passport on his flight into Baghdad, Soleimani was also carrying the Iranian response  to a Saudi initiative for peace.

In contrast, President Donald Trump has revealed more about his own inner angst than he ever intended – or perhaps, being a non-introspective type, what has been revealed may be more than he himself has ever acknowledged.

“This Plane Was Designed by Clowns, Who Are Supervised by Monkeys” – Shocking Boeing Emails Reveal Contempt for Management, FAA

By Zero Hedge, January 13, 2020

In recent weeks, a series of reports claiming Boeing neglected to turn over critical information to the FAA regarding the development of the 737 MAX 8, Boeing’s new “workhorse” model that has been grounded around the world for the last 10 months, after a pair of suspicious crashes raised suspicions of possible flaws in the plane’s anti-stall software.

According to more than 100 pages of internal company communications (which were apparently withheld from the FAA during the certification process for the jet) Boeing employees could be heard mocking federal rules, openly discussing their deception of regulators, and joking about the MAX’s potential flaws.

The Federal Reserve Protects Gamblers at the Expense of the Real Economy. “Helicopter Money” – The Only Way Out?

By Ellen Brown, January 13, 2020

Although the repo market is little known to most people, it is a $1-trillion-a-day credit machine, in which not just banks but hedge funds and other “shadow banks” borrow to finance their trades. Under the Federal Reserve Act, the central bank’s lending window is open only to licensed depository banks; but the Fed is now pouring billions of dollars into the repo (repurchase agreements) market, in effect making risk-free loans to speculators at less than 2%.

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Chamada às armas, a NATO mobilizada em duas frentes

January 14th, 2020 by Manlio Dinucci

NATOME: Assim, o Presidente Trump, que se orgulha do seu talento para criar siglas, já baptizou o destacamento da NATO no Médio Oriente, por ele solicitado por telefone, ao Secretário Geral da Aliança, Stoltenberg. Este concordou imediatamente, que a NATO deveria ter “um papel cada vez maior no Médio Oriente, particularmente, nas missões de treino”. Ele participou, em seguida, na reunião dos Ministros dos Negócios Estrangeiros da UE, salientando que a União Europeia deve permanecer ao lado dos Estados Unidos e da NATO, porque “embora tenhamos feito progressos enormes, o Daesh pode regressar”. Os Estados Unidos procuram, deste modo, envolver os aliados europeus na situação caótica provocada pelo assassínio, autorizado pelo próprio Trump, do General iraniano Soleimani, logo que desembarcou no aeroporto de Bagdad.

Depois do Parlamento iraquiano ter deliberado a expulsão de mais de 5.000 soldados americanos presentes no país, juntamente com milhares de pessoal militar de empresas privadas, contratados pelo Pentágono, o Primeiro Ministro Abdul-Mahdi, pediu ao Departamento do Estado para enviar uma delegação a fim de estabelecer o procedimento da retirada. Os EUA – respondeu o Departamento – irão enviar uma delegação “não para discutir a retirada de tropas, mas o dispositivo adequado de forças  no Médio Oriente”, acrescentando que em Washington se está  a ajustar “o reforço do papel da NATO no Iraque, alinhado com o desejo do Presidente de que os Aliados partilhem o fardo de todos os esforços para a nossa defesa colectiva”.

O plano é claro: substituir, totalmente ou em parte, as tropas USA no Iraque pelas dos aliados europeus, que se encontrariam nas situações mais arriscadas, como demonstra o facto de que a própria NATO, depois do assassínio de Soleimani, suspendeu as missões de treino no Iraque. Além da frente meridional, a NATO está a ser mobilizada na frente oriental. Para “defender a Europa da ameaça russa”, está a preparar-se o exercício Defender Europe 20 que, em Abril e Maio, terá o maior destacamento de forças USA na Europa, dos últimos 25 anos.

Chegarão dos Estados Unidos 20.000 soldados, incluindo vários milhares de militares da Guarda Nacional dos 12 estados USA, que se juntarão aos 9.000 já presentes na Europa, elevando o total para cerca de 30.000 militares. A eles juntar-se-ão 7.000 soldados de 13 países europeus da NATO, entre os quais a Itália e 2 parceiros, a Geórgia e a Finlândia. Além dos armamentos que virão do outro lado do Atlântico, as tropas americanas empregarão 13.000 tanques, canhões auto-propulsores, veículos blindados e outros meios militares dos “depósitos pré-posicionados” dos USA na Europa. Comboios militares com veículos blindados percorrerão 4.000 km por 12 artérias, operando em conjunto com aviões, helicópteros, drones e unidades navais. Páraquedistas USA da 173ª Brigada e italianos da Brigada Folgore serão lançados em conjunto, na Letónia.

O exercício Defender Europe 20 assume maior relevo, na estratégia USA/NATO, após o agravamento da crise no Médio Oriente. O Pentágono que, no ano passado enviou 14.000 soldados para o Médio Oriente, está a desviar na mesma região, algumas forças que se estavam a preparar para os exercícios de guerra na Europa: 4.000 paraquedistas da 82ª Divisão Aerotransportada (incluindo algumas centenas de Vicenza) e 4.500 marinheiros e fuzileiros navais do navio de ataque anfíbio USS Bataan. Outras forças, antes ou depois do exercício na Europa, poderiam ser enviadas para o Médio Oriente. No entanto, o planeamento do Defender Europe 20, observa o Pentágono, permanece inalterado.

Por outras palavras, 30.000 soldados dos EUA exercitar-se-ão a defender a Europa de uma agressão russa, um cenário que nunca poderia verificar-se porque no combate, usar-se-iam não tanques, mas mísseis nucleares. No entanto, é um cenário útil para semear tensões e alimentar a ideia do inimigo.

Manlio Dinucci

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Chiamata alle armi, la Nato mobilitata su due fronti

January 14th, 2020 by Manlio Dinucci

NATOME: così il presidente Trump, che si vanta del proprio talento nel creare acronimi, ha già battezzato lo spiegamento della Nato in Medio Oriente, da lui richiesto per telefono al segretario generale dell’Alleanza Stoltenberg. Questi ha immediatamente acconsentito che la Nato debba avere «un accresciuto ruolo in Medio Oriente, in particolare nelle missioni di addestramento». Ha quindi partecipato alla riunione dei ministri degli esteri della Ue, sottolineando che l’Unione europea deve restare a fianco degli Stati uniti e della Nato poiché, «anche se abbiamo fatto enormi progressi, Daesh può ritornare». Gli Stati uniti cercano in tal modo di coinvolgere gli alleati europei nella caotica situazione provocata dall’assassinio, autorizzato dallo stesso Trump, del generale iraniano Soleimani appena sbarcato all’aeroporto di Baghdad. Dopo che il parlamento iracheno ha deliberato l’espulsione degli oltre 5.000 soldati Usa, presenti nel paese insieme a migliaia di contractor del Pentagono, il primo ministro Abdul-Mahdi ha chiesto al Dipartimento di Stato di inviare una delegazione per stabilire la procedura del ritiro. Gli Usa – ha risposto il Dipartimento – invieranno una delegazione «non per discutere il ritiro di truppe, ma l’adeguato dispositivo di forze in Medio Oriente», aggiungendo che a Washington si sta concordando «il rafforzamento del ruolo della Nato in Iraq in linea con il desiderio del Presidente che gli Alleati condividano l’onere in tutti gli sforzi per la nostra difesa collettiva».

Il piano è chiaro: sostituire, totalmente o in parte, le truppe Usa in Iraq con quelle degli alleati europei, che verrebbero a trovarsi nelle situazioni più rischiose, come dimostra il fatto che la stessa Nato, dopo l’assassinio di Soleimani, ha sospeso le missioni di addestramento in Iraq. Oltre che sul fronte meridionale, la Nato viene mobilitata su quello orientale. Per «difendere l’Europa dalla minaccia russa», si sta preparando l’esercitazione Defender Europe 20, che vedrà in aprile e maggio il più grande spiegamento di forze Usa in Europa degli ultimi 25 anni. Arriveranno dagli Stati uniti 20.000 soldati, tra cui alcune migliaia della Guardia Nazionale provenienti da 12 Stati Usa, che si uniranno a 9.000 già presenti in Europa portando il totale a circa 30.000. Essi saranno affiancati da 7.000 soldati di 13 paesi europei della Nato, tra cui l’Italia, e 2 partner, Georgia e Finlandia. Oltre agli armamenti che arriveranno da oltreatlantico, le truppe Usa impiegheranno 13.000 carri armati, cannoni semoventi, blindati e altri mezzi militari provenienti da «depositi preposizionati» Usa in Europa. Convogli militari con mezzi corazzati percorreranno 4.000 km attraverso 12 arterie, operando insieme ad aerei, elicotteri, droni e unità navali. Paracadustisti Usa della 173a Brigata e italiani delle Brigata Folgore si lanceranno insieme in Lettonia.

Resultado de imagem para pictures of Defender Europe 20 

L’esercitazione Defender Europe 20 assume ulteriore rilievo, nella strategia Usa/Nato, in seguito all’acuirsi della crisi mediorientale. Il Pentagono, che l’anno scorso ha inviato altri 14.000 soldati in Medio Oriente, sta dirottando nella stessa regione alcune forze che si stavano preparando all’esercitazione di guerra in Europa: 4.000 paracadutisti della 82a Divisione aviotrasportata (comprese alcune centinaia da Vicenza) e 4.500 marinai e marines della nave da assalto anfibio USS Bataan. Altre forze, prima o dopo l’esercitazione in Europa, potrebbero essere inviate in Medio Oriente. La pianificazione della Defender Europe 20, precisa il Pentagono, resta però immutata. In altre parole, 30.000 soldati Usa si eserciteranno a difendere l’Europa da una aggressione russa, scenario che mai potrebbe verificarsi anche perché nello scontro si userebbero non carri armati ma missili nucleari. Scenario comunque utile per seminare tensione e alimentare l’idea del nemico.

Manlio Dinucci

il manifesto, 14 gennaio 2020

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Iran to Sue the US and Trump for Killing General Soleimani

January 14th, 2020 by Stephen Lendman

According to Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Esmayeeli, the country’s ruling authorities will sue the US in international courts for Soleimani’s assassination.

“This brutal act was a violation of human rights and all international rules,” Esmayeeli stressed, adding:

“Martyr Soleimani was the official guest of the Iraqi government officials as a high-ranking (Iranian) official, and a foreign state has committed this crime in Iraq.”

“The criminal US government’s measure to martyr General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and their entourage is a terrorist act from the legal view of point and a clear instance of state terrorism.”

Iran’s Chief Justice Seyed Ebrahim Raisi said “(t)hose who commit offenses will be prosecuted,” adding:

“We need to name the US president as the main defendant. We won’t let it slide. He must be convicted at the international level.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC), not the ICJ, is the proper tribunal for prosecuting individuals for crimes of war, against humanity, genocide, and aggression.

Since established by the Rome Statute in 2002, the ICC never held the US, other Western nations, or Israel accountable for  indisputable high crimes — just their victims.

Time and again, the court breached its mandate to “end  impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern.”

Clearly it won’t lay a glove on Trump or any other US official involved in Soleimani’s assassination.

Even if it agrees to hear the case, justice will not follow, how it operated since established — prosecuting victims of imperial crimes, not their perpetrators.

Iran will likely seek redress against the US in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), mandated to settle international legal disputes, along with issuing advisory opinions on international legal issues referred to the court by the UN.

In July 2018, Iran filed suit against the Trump regime in the ICJ for violating provisions of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights between both countries.

At the time, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted:

“Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of US contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations.”

The Trump regime “violated and continues to violate multiple provisions” of the 1955 treaty – along with unlawfully pulling out of the JCPOA, an international treaty, unanimously affirmed by Security Council members, making it binding international law.

In October 2018, the ICJ ruled for Iran, in response its Foreign Ministry said the following:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the decision made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the only major judicial body of the UN and the tribunal’s issuing of an injunction against the US administration’s illegal move to restore unilateral sanctions which came upon the country’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal,” adding:

“(T)he court’s unanimous decision (is a) clear testament to the truthfulness of Iran and the illegitimacy and unfairness of the United States’ sanctions against our country’s people and citizens.”

Though the rulings by the ICJ and ICC are binding, Washington notoriously flouts what conflicts with its interests.

The Trump regime ignored the ICJ’s earlier ruling for Iran, imposing multiple new rounds of sanctions after it was issued.

However the ICJ, ICC, or another international tribunal rules on Soleimani’s assassination, hardwired anti-Iran Trump regime policy won’t change.

Hegemons operate by their own rules, flouting the rule of law with impunity, ignoring judicial rulings against their interests.

Suing the US and Trump in international tribunals is the right thing to do.

The case for Iran is open and shut — even though redress for unlawful US actions in international tribunals is unattainable.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from the American Herald Tribune

Harry and Meghan “Exit”: The Royal Family Propaganda Machine

January 14th, 2020 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Royal gossip is worth its weight in gold on the British media circuit.  Buckingham Palace knows that, and seeks to control, as much as it can, the way that gold is distributed.  

The recent fuss over the premature retirement, or redirection, of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has stirred the hornet’s nest amongst self-harming Royal watchers.  Sky News suggested with profound exaggeration that the announcement that the couple would move to Canada “shocked the UK and the world.”  Disgraceful and unacceptable, went such papers as The Sun.  The Evening Standard ran with the headline, “Harry arrives to face the royal music”, going on to say that he was facing “showdown talks with the Queen, his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William over his plans to stand down as a senior royal.” 

Harry had effectively resigned from public duties, intent on becoming “financially independent” (such terms are obscene in Palace land) and spending more time in North America.  “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”    

The intention of spending time between the UK and North America will enable the couple to raise their son “with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.” 

Something of a war has broken out between the couple and the press, leading to an information tussle.  The couple have adopted a new communications strategy that involves providing “access to credible media outlets focused on objective news reporting to cover key moments and events.”  On the legal front, the duchess has initiated proceedings against the Daily Mail for breach of privacy; the duke sued two papers in October claiming phone hacking.  The National Union of Journalists has expressed concern that the couple’s removal from the “royal rota” of coverage will lead to greater control exercised over coverage of their affairs.

The palace machine has been icy in response to the decision to withdraw, taking a harsh lecturing tone to the couple.  Discussions were, went a statement from the Palace, “at an early stage”.  “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”

The palace stooges are out aplenty, helped along by the Daily Mail’s enthusiastic antipathy against the duchess, never seen as a worthy fit.  The treatment afforded Markle has been strikingly different to that of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, who is, in the true royal tradition, a functionary and incubator for heirs.  An apt illustration of this can be gathered from the Mail’s respective descriptions of the pregnancies of both Middleton and Markle, the former “tenderly” cradling “her bump while wrapping up her royal duties ahead of maternity leave”, the latter incapable of keeping “her hands of her bump”.  Was it “pride, vanity, acting – or a new age bonding technique?” 

Middleton does not question; she adjusts, amends her positions, adapts her being.  When novelist Hilary Mantel made the astute observation that Middleton was really a “show-window mannequin” of machine like quality, “without the risk of the emergence of character”, shrieks and howls followed. This ignored the obvious point that higher aristocracy have always been pieces of strategy and durability rather than people, always the behest of a higher command and duty to procreate.  Real estate, babies and legacies – that’s the show.   

Markle is no such product.  Her US birth, with an African-American mother, and her self-made standing as an actor (leaving aside the quality of that acting), were already awkward jabs at the pattern of royal propriety.  Last June, the sense of independence (the British press prefer the term “divergence”) became evident when the couple decided to go into the charitable pursuit separate from the royal family.  This has led to Markle being subject to what royal historian Marlene Koenig claims is “a pile-on”. 

Markle has been attacked for her luxuriant baby shower last February, dubbed Showergate, accused by Prince Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson for being indiscreet and vulgar.  Despite dealing with it with her own funds, “Favours must be returned, obligations quickly multiply and pretty soon royal free-riders are handing over their most precious assets: credibility and dignity, if not, please God, their lives.” 

Markle has also been said to be a handful for her staff, the Duchess Difficult of the royal set.  The signs of Palace sabotage and disruption are suggested; Markle seems to be rather well-liked, and depending on which royal source you tap, you are bound to find the appropriate slant.

Added to this the less than becoming aspect of the duke’s brother, Prince William, and we are left with a true plate of grist.  One flavoured morsel doing the rounds is the suggestion that the exit of the Sussexes has much to do with the extra-marital conduct of the Duke of Cambridge as with anything else.  The Sun, doing its bit to go through the trash cans, suggests that William is “incandescent with rage” at the suggestion. The Times, not wanting to be left out in the cold, fronts its own royal source alleging that William is prone to bullying and has estranged is brother. 

Enough has been floating around that Wills can barely contain himself and is keeping up the royal front of bed hopping, notably with Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley.  The palace eagles are duly floating around to ensure that no press outlet will publish such speculation without threatened sanction, and royal watchers such as Phil Dampier are already dousing the flames.  “Whatever the truth of William’s closeness to Rose, who is a mum of three, Kate has obviously decided she doesn’t want any lasting bitterness or tension.” 

For republicans, none of the above should matter, except that the royals remain some of the most privileged spongers of Britain and the Commonwealth.  Their extra-marital trysts are subsidised; their efforts to be celebrity puffs are also greased by the tax payer.  In Canada, the security tab will be picked up by local security.  Though the Sussexes have made it clear they do not intend to rely on the British public purse, the question remains unresolved.  What remains striking, however, is the way the palace machinery has strutted its plumage, giving the impression that the Sussex situation was a scandal unique and deserving of attention.

In the end, it was left to the Queen to exert some authority via a statement.  “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.  Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”  In what must count as a polished way of saying “bugger”, the Queen promises “a period of transition which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.”

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

We ‘Slaughtered’ Jeremy Corbyn, Says Israel Lobbyist

January 14th, 2020 by Asa Winstanley

The lobbyist is part of CAA, one of the most active right-wing Zionist groups promoting the false notion that Britain’s Labour Party became an anti-Semitic party after Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership in 2015.

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A prominent Israel lobbyist in the UK has claimed credit for last month’s electoral defeat of the British Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

“The beast is slain,” Joe Glasman delighted – Corbyn has been “slaughtered.”

He rejoiced that “we defeated him” in the election. “They tried to kill us,” he ranted, but “we won.”

Glasman leads the “political investigations team” at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, or CAA – an influential anti-Palestinian lobby group.

He made his comments in a bizarre video rant addressed to his team of supporters that he posted online during the holiday break.

The video was soon set to private.

But left-wing Labour activists managed to download a copy and posted it on the Barnet Momentum Facebook page.

In the video Glasman claimed he and his supporters beat Corbyn through a coordinated campaign using methods including “our spies and intel.”

But he said his group were “not secret Mossad spies, they’re just ordinary people.”

The video swiftly became an embarrassment. Other copies posted online have been taken down following copyright claims by Glasman.

The Electronic Intifada is reposting the full video to YouTube channel for news reporting purposes.

Partisan “charity”

After he was subjected to a four-year witch hunt targeting the left and Palestine solidarity activists over alleged “Labour anti-Semitism,” Corbyn lost last month’s general election.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism was founded in 2014 during Israel’s war against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, to counter rising criticism of Israel. It did so primarily by smearing critics as anti-Semitic.

It has been one of the most active right-wing Zionist groups promoting the false notion that Labour became an anti-Semitic party after Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership in 2015.

But as anti-Zionist Palestine solidarity campaigner Tony Greenstein recently put it, “The one thing that the Campaign Against Antisemitism doesn’t do is to campaign against anti-Semitism.”

In fact, Greenstein argued on his blog, “anti-Semitism of the traditional kind is all but ignored by it, but [fake] ‘anti-Semitism’ of the anti-Zionist or pro-Palestinian variety is very much its concern.”

Despite being a registered charity, and thus supposedly non-partisan, the CAA openly campaigned against Labour and against Corbyn.

It organised demonstrations against Labour, including one day before last month’s general election. Greenstein has complained to the Charity Commission, calling for the regulator to remove the group’s tax-exempt status.

Anti-Palestinian agenda

The Campaign Against Antisemitism habitually smears Palestinians and their supporters.

In 2017, it attacked Malaka Shwaikh, a Palestinian from Gaza then running in student elections in Exeter. The attacks sparked a barrage of threats and harassment against her.

Now a lecturer at the University of Leeds, Shwaikh told The Electronic Intifada at the time, “The right of free speech on campus has been threatened.”

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Il sito militare russo Avia.pro ha affrontato il problema dell’incidente a causa di un errore umano del Boing ucraino 737 in Iran, l’8 gennaio, pochi minuti dopo il decollo, che ha causato la morte di 179 passeggeri e membri dell’equipaggio.

Facendo affidamento su esperti militari, riferisce che l’incidente assomiglia punto per punto alla distruzione a Latakia, in Siria, nel settembre 2018, di un IL-20 russo. I combattenti israeliani, seguiti dai missili siriani, hanno usato l’aereo come scudo, anche se ciò significava la sua distruzione e la morte di 15 passeggeri.

Il sito web militare russo fa riferimento a un’indagine indipendente che ha concluso “almeno una parziale responsabilità degli Stati Uniti” nella tragedia dell’8 gennaio:

“Secondo gli esperti, l’esercito americano ha deliberatamente modificato le informazioni sul volo del Boeing ucraino 737, rendendolo un vero bersaglio per i sistemi di difesa aerea iraniani”. Secondo i dati provenienti da fonti relative al Pentagono, diversi aerei militari statunitensi sono stati osservati nel cielo vicino allo spazio aereo iraniano, proprio al momento del volo Boeing, e sono state osservate anomalie nei radar iraniani, probabilmente a causa di un attacco informatico. L’aereo civile fu quindi confuso con un aereo da caccia diretto direttamente verso un obiettivo militare. ”

“Da quando il pilota ha fatto un’inversione a U, è molto probabile che l’attacco informatico statunitense abbia anche puntato sul sistema di navigazione del Boeing ucraino. Questa non è la prima volta che gli americani fanno questo tipo di azione “, ha detto il sito.

Inoltre, un membro del Comitato di sicurezza e difesa della Duma russa ha accusato le provocatorie misure statunitensi contro l’Iran di essere state la causa dell’incidente aereo ucraino.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently presenting the work of Félix Vallotton, an artist who has been largely neglected relative to his contemporaries, such as Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard. This makes the present exhibition all the more welcome, and fascinating. Vallotton’s work unquestionably merits the renewed attention — his paintings possess a mysterious quality, narrative appeal, and attention to detail, as well as invoke a delicious sense of irony and wit.

Born in the Swiss town of Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva in 1865, Vallotton displayed early an ability to draw from life; and at sixteen he arrived in Paris to study painting at the Académie Julian. A self-portrait at the age of twenty reveals a virtuosic, confident brush and much more — Vallotton is not interested in merely demonstrating his facility as a realist painter: he has a penetrating eye, a psychological depth, and a naturalism that owes much to northern Renaissance masters, especially Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein.

It is not entirely clear when Vallotton’s friendship with Les Nabis began – from the Hebrew word for prophet, the Nabis were an avant-garde group of Parisian artists, which included Bonnard, Vuillard, Charles Cottet, and Ker-Xavier Roussel, among others. Valloton’s nickname within the group may be revealing – he was the ‘foreigner Nabi’. Perhaps this name reflected his Swiss origin, but the Nabis were an international group anyhow. It could also reflect in some measure that Vallotton was something of a loner; but it may allude to the fact that while for a time he adopted the Nabi’s dismissal of naturalism in favor of flat forms and the expressivist use of color, Vallotton was and fundamentally remained a realist painter.

Recognition arrived early in Vallotton’s career for reviving the art of woodcut prints which had largely been forgotten since the Renaissance. Indeed, by the age of 25, Vallotton had single-handedly brought about a kind of revolution in xylography. Inspired by Japanese woodcuts that were popular in Paris at the time, Vallotton produced images with sharp contrasts of jet black and pristine white. His woodcuts are remarkable for their commentary on the French bourgeoisie, their stinging rebuke of societal decadence in fin-de-siècle Paris, their critical orientation to the police. Vallotton has an eye for violence — be it in the form of murder, or the sudden carriage accident, the political execution or the suicide. Vallotton combines a dark realism with sophisticated satire, wry humor, and a keen acerbic wit. He has an eye for the ambiguous and the enigmatic — a deft and subtle touch that defies finalization. The Demonstration from 1893 renders the political chaos of the day with humor — from the old man who has lost hold of his hat to the sole figure in white, a woman racing along the left hand side.

L’Eclat (recto), L’Exécution (verso) 

Vallotton would return in both woodcuts and paintings to the scene of the bourgeoisie shopping for the latest luxury goods at the Bon Marche Department Store — the first such store of its kind in the world. The 1898 triptych is not without a certain irony — given that the format Vallotton chose was traditionally associated with altarpieces such as would be found in church. Which is just to underscore the Vallotton is a close observer of modernity, fascinated by the new world he sees emerging around him — with its rampant consumerism, and its technological novelties (such as a moving conveyor belt along a footbridge, which he includes in his woodcut series devoted to the World’s Fair of 1900.)

A series of ten woodcuts entitled Intimités is a sustained and biting critique, and among Vallotton’s greatest achievements as a graphic artist. As an unsettling and disquieting series which lays bare the hypocrisies of bourgeois society, Vallotton deftly exposes a decadent class through scenes of adultery, deceit, romantic quarrels and indecent proposals.

In 1899, Vallotton married Gabrielle Rodrigues-Henriques and the union was to have a significant effect on the remainder of his career. His wife was a wealthy widow and the daughter of a Paris art merchant, which meant that he now enjoyed a certain financial security and could turn exclusively to painting. While Vallotton’s work generally lost its satirical wit and subversive edge — there is also a certain psychological insight and marked turn towards the inwardness of his subjects that constitutes much of the power of this later period.

The acquisition of a Kodak camera in 1899 led to changes in the way the artist worked. Now, he would typically take snapshots of imagery that appealed to him – and then used those photographs to craft his painting in the studio. It appears that often he would retain the sharply contrasting patterns of light and shadow revealed in the small photograph. However, the painter however was by no means subservient to the photographic image, as The Red Room, Etretat (1899), demonstrates. It is a remarkable painting for its unity of composition and psychological structure. All lines in the painting essentially point to (and up to) the seated figure of Gabrielle Vallotton – even the viewer is made to feel they’re looking up to this woman, who meanwhile looks down at the small child in the foreground. This child, so crucial to the psychological depth of the painting is entirely absent, however, from the photograph.

Vallotton was also a master of ambiguity. There is always something more to the story he is telling that must ever remain just beyond our reach. Consider, for example, one of this exhibition’s finest offerings, The White and the Black (1913), a provocative work depicting a young white woman, nude and reclining; and a black woman, seated and coolly smoking a cigarette. The painting may be a response to Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863) in which a white model, a prostitute likely, lies on a bed attended by a black servant bringing her flowers (probably from a client). But Vallotton may also be in dialogue with Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ Grande Odalisque (1814) and Odalisque with a Slave (1839). All of his friend’s attest to Vallotton’s love and admiration for Ingres, by whom he was “conquered without offering any resistance” – as one contemporary put it. Vallotton was clearly a close observer of Manet as well, and many of his paintings – for example, Misia at Her Dressing Table (1898) – emphasize the harsh light, the large color surfaces and shallow depth that was characteristic of Manet’s work, including Olympia (1863). But at the same time Vallotton subverts the traditional roles of mistress and servant by making the relationship between these two women utterly ambiguous.

The White and the Black (La Blanche et la Noire) 

The Provincial (1909) is notable for its exploration of one of Vallotton’s recurring themes – namely, the complex, uneven relationship between men and women. In this painting, and others such as Chaste Suzanne (1922), a powerful female figure holds sway over her subservient male counterpart. The white lace of her blouse protrudes in a witty but subtle reminder of her breasts, which only underscores her sexual dominance over the docile man who sits beside her with eyes deferentially lowered.

Moonlight (1895) is a standout work that reveals the influence of the Symbolists, in Vallotton’s attention to emotional force over actual topographical representation – water, earth and sky have become interfused in what is almost an abstraction. The picture also anticipates the latter part of his career, when Vallotton increasingly turned to landscape painting – often beginning with a photographic image or an on-site sketch, which was then imaginatively reconstructed on the canvas. The painter referred to his later landscapes as paysages composes (composed landscapes) – and remarked in 1906, “I dream of a painting free from any literal respect for nature.” Valloton said he wanted to “be able to recreate landscapes only with the help of the emotion they have provoked in me.” His method allows him to simplify the compositional structure, to intensify the mood and emphasize the emotional impact of color – as, for example, in Last Rays (1911) where we find the silhouettes of umbrella pines as they receive the last light of the evening sun.

Félix Vallotton more than deserves the attention that this exhibition brings. His work – from the groundbreaking forays into xylography, to his portraits and scenes of bourgeois society, to his hauntingly mesmerizing landscapes – defies identification with any artistic school. Like all truly great artists, Vallotton is inimitable; while he experiments with various artistic programs, he ultimately remains aloof from them, determined to paint pictures purged of all sentimentality, beholden only to the emotional, psychological or social reality with which he is concerned. Such a body of work remains ever fresh and vital, and rewards close attention with a glimpse of truth.

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Sam Ben-Meir is a professor of philosophy and world religions at Mercy College in New York City. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from The MET

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Brexit has now cost the UK £130bn in what is termed as “collateral damage” since the referendum, a new study suggests. And this number is set to rise another £70bn by the end of 2020.

Bloomberg Economics said Britain’s economy had been “lacklustre” over the three-and-a-half years since a majority of voters backed Leave in the EU referendum in 2016.

Its analysis shows British companies performed poorly, even accounting for the weaker global economy by international standards

It predicted Brexit would continue to hold back national output, forecasting a further £70bn hit in lost opportunities for growth this year.

Even the boost BE expects from prime minister Boris Johnson’s decisive election victory in December won’t stop a further £70bn being added this year,” wrote its chief UK economist and former Treasury official Dan Hanson.

The Conservatives’ landslide victory in December broke the long-running political deadlock at Westminster, paving the way for Britain’s departure on 31 January.

But while Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal bill attempts to tackle key issues linked to Britain’s departure, official talks over the future of EU-UK trade and wider relations have not even begun. Although the British government have stated that the EU deal will be done by 31st December 2020, EU officials do not agree stating that it could take years.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, warned in a speech on Thursday of the risk “uncertainties over future trading relationships could remain entrenched.”

He said such uncertainty had already proved a “persistent drag” already on the UK economy, slowing growth below its potential, particularly through reduced business investment. Inward investment into Britain has all but collapsed since 2016.

Carney, who leaves his role in March, said growth had “significantly underperformed” the central bank’s predictions prior to the referendum.

He said GDP was 3% lower than might have been expected if Britain had voted to stay, taking into account how the rest of the world’s economies had performed since June 2016.

Uncertainty has dented business investment and innovation, hitting firms’ capacity to grow, according to Carney.

Many firms and investors fear Brexit will mean new barriers to trade with EU partners. Contingency planning has also drained firms of “considerable time and resources,” Carney said.

Investment has significantly fallen in four of the past seven quarters, with growth more than 20% less than forecast by the bank before the referendum in May 2016. Household spending has also fallen in the past year adding to economic woes.

He added: “Brexit-related uncertainties may have dissuaded companies from expanding supply capacity or entering new markets.”

But the survey of business leaders, conducted by accountancy giant Deloitte, saw 38% say they planned to increase investment in 2020. That marked the highest proportion in four years, while Brexit also dropped from the top to third on a list of their greatest concerns.

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US to Iraq: ‘Vote All You Want, We’re Not Leaving!’

January 14th, 2020 by Rep. Ron Paul

President Trump’s decision earlier this month to assassinate Iran’s top military general on Iraqi soil – over the objection of the Iraqi government – has damaged the US relationship with its “ally” Iraq and set the region on the brink of war. Iran’s measured response – a few missiles fired on an Iraqi base after advance warning was given – is the only reason the US is not mired in another Middle East war.

Trump said his decision to assassinate Gen. Qassim Soleimani was intended to prevent a war, not start a war. But no one in his right mind would think that killing another country’s top military leader would not leave that country annoyed, to say the least. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said the Trump Administration’s briefing to Congress on its evidence to back up claims that Soleimani was about to launch attacks against the US was among the worst briefings they’d ever attended.

After initially claiming that Soleimani had to be taken out immediately because of “imminent” attacks he was launching against the US, Trump Administration officials including Secretary of State Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper have been busy walking back those claims. Esper claimed over the weekend that he had not seen the intelligence suggesting an attack on US embassies was in the works. If the Secretary of Defense did not seen the intelligence, then who did?

No doubt the Iraqi leadership recognized these kinds of deceptions: the same kinds of lies were used to push the US into attacking their own country in 2003. So it should not have come as a big surprise that the Iraqi government met last week and voted that all foreign military personnel should leave Iraqi soil.

Then a funny thing happened when the Iraqi prime minister attempted to communicate to the US government the will of the Iraqi people through their democratically-elected officials. On Thursday Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi phoned Pompeo to urgently request that Washington enact a US troop “withdrawal mechanism” in Iraq. American troops are in Iraq by invitation of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi government had just voted to revoke that invitation.

The State Department responded with a statement titled “The US Continued Partnership with Iraq,” in which it essentially said that the US would not abide by the request of its Iraqi partners because the US military is a “force for good” in the Middle East and that as such it is “our right” to maintain “appropriate force posture” in the region.

The US invaded Iraq based on Bush Administration lies and a million Iraqis died as a result. Later, President Obama ramped up the drone program and also backed al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists to overthrow the secular Syrian government. Obama also attacked Libya based on lies, leaving the country totally destroyed. Trump is assassinating foreign officials and threatening destruction of Iran.

And the State Department calls that a “force for good”?

The United States can be a true force for good, however. End the military occupation of the Middle East, end foreign military aid, stop using the CIA to overthrow governments. Allow Americans to travel and do business in any country they wish. Lead by example and demonstrate how free markets and peace benefit all. A “force for good” means not forcing others to bow to your will.

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150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

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

Michel Chossudovsky

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

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

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

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Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

January 14th, 2020 by Philip Giraldi

If one seriously seeks to understand how delusional policymakers in Washington are it is only necessary to examine the responses by the president and Congress to the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. The first response came in the form of a Donald Trump largely incoherent nine-minute self-applauding speech explaining what he had done and why. It was followed by a House of Representatives War Powers non-binding resolution that was all theater and did nothing to limit the president’s unilateral ability to go to war with the Islamic Republic.

It was reported that the Trump speech had been hurriedly written by aides the night before it was given and that it existed in several competing drafts. It was full of out-and-out lies and half truths and intended to reassure the American people that the president was keeping them safe. The opening line might well be regarded as some kind of joke: “As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.” Trump has in fact done more to ensure that Iran will have a nuclear weapon than any other president through his abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and his assassination of Soleimani, which together have convinced the Iranian leadership that there is no possibility of a reasonable negotiated solution when dealing with the American president, even when he claims he wants to “talk.”

Trump then went on characteristically to eulogize our brave soldiers on far flung battlefields before lying again, saying “For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.” Lie one is that the “destructive and destabilizing behavior” actually has Made in U.S.A. stamped all over it. Lie two is “leading sponsor of terrorism,” an honor that belongs to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States, in that order. And lie three is that Iran “pursued” nuclear weapons. It has never done so.

Trump them boasted that “Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives. At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani. As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.” Trump’s preening was again wrong on every count: Soleimani is no terrorist by any reasonable definition, nor is there any evidence that he threatened American lives. And Trump and his chorus of neocons cannot name a single “atrocity” committed by the man

The president claimed that Soleimani “…viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims,” a particularly absurd charge suggesting that Trump believes that any American soldier who died in Iraq or Afghanistan did so at the hands of the Iranian Major General. By the same logic, the musical chairs series of American generals that have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have murdered hundreds of thousands of people. If Trump wants to start counting fatalities he should perhaps start with David Petraeus.

Piling Ossa on Pelion, Trump declared that Soleimani “…orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.” There is no evidence whatsoever to support either assertion and Trump then goes on to ascribe all the problems of the Middle East to Iran, ignoring the roles played by others, most notably Washington, Israel and the Saudis. He also roundly condemned the JCPOA before asserting falsely that “Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi…” In reality, ISIS was defeated by the Syrian Army and its allies Russia and Iran, the very countries that Trump has continued to vilify even as he struts his anti-terrorist credentials. Qassem Soleimani played a major role in the destruction of ISIS.

The only good things in the Trump speech were that it was short and the president did not find it necessary to say a whole lot of good things about Israel. Interestingly, no one in the mainstream media or in the political chattering class made much effort to challenged Trump on the “facts” he cited, though there was some pushback from mostly Democratic congressmen who stated that they could not see any “imminent threat” in the evidence that the Administration produced during a classified briefing. The actual war powers concurrent resolution that passed in the House last Thursday was symptomatic of the unwillingness of the political opposition to take on the illegal and immoral wars in the Middle East themselves – it had no teeth and will not change anything.

The resolution’s subject line “Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” actually is misleading. And the first thing the text does do is slam Iran with the same dubious “facts” employed by Trump, including that “The Government of Iran is a leading state sponsor of terrorism and engages in a range of destabilizing activities across the Middle East. Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was the lead architect of much of Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the world.”

The resolution includes “In matters of imminent armed attacks, the executive branch should indicate to Congress why military action was necessary within a certain window of opportunity, the possible harm that missing the window would cause, and why the action was likely to prevent future disastrous attacks against the United States.” It then goes on to explain that “When the United States uses military force, the American people and members of the United States Armed Forces deserve a credible explanation regarding such use of military force…” because “The War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.) requires the President to consult with Congress ‘in every possible instance’ before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities.” It concludes with “Congress has not authorized the President to use military force against Iran.”

It would seem to be a devastating critique of the Trump Art of War but then comes the wiggle room “…Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military, unless Congress has declared war or enacted specific statutory authorization for such use of the Armed Forces; or such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces, consistent with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. Nothing in this section may be construed to prevent the President from using military force against al Qaeda or associated forces…” In other words, all Trump has to do is claim “imminent threat” or that he is attacking “terrorist associated forces” and he is home free no matter what he does, particularly as the resolution itself is non-binding.

The sheer ignorance and arrogance of elites in Washington combined with a colonialist mentality that dismisses Asians and Africans as unthinking “wogs” who will do one’s bidding if they are confronted with punishment is currently on display. It was inevitable that Iraq would demand the departure of U.S. troops after thirty-four Iraqi militiamen were killed by American drone and air strikes, but many in Washington just didn’t get it. Trump threatened, in characteristic fashion, to respond with sanctions, but now Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has made it official in a phone call to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding a plan and timetable for the removal of the American soldiers. The State Department has indicated that it is not prepared to discuss the matter.

Some pundits who should know better have predicted that the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers will not take place because Iraq somehow “needs” the United States. And besides, there will be economic consequences if Iraq does go ahead to insist on an American withdrawal. But sometimes abstractions prove to be more powerful than material incentives. The United States violated Iraqi sovereignty not once but twice and murdered 34 Iraqis in the process. Pompeo can huff and puff all he wants and Trump can mouth his illiteracies, but nothing changes the fact that the United States did things it did not have to do based on a delusional view of the Middle East and will have to pay a price. Minus a presence in Iraq, Syria will be untenable and one might hope that once the U.S. loses its ability to directly confront Iran on the ground the whole house of cards just might collapse, leading to Washington’s gradual departure from the region. That would be good for the region and also for the United States even if Israel and the Saudis, who prefer to have Americans fight and die in their wars, might object.

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This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

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

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Once again the French have shown the world now to protest, and that protesting works. President Emmanuel Macron was forced to roll back his plans for pensions reform over the weekend as demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday in what was entering a second month of social unrest. Paris had come to a standstill over the festive season; trains, including the metro had ground to a halt, save a couple of main lines during peak times, as commuters and shoppers stayed at home.

It has been agreed to scrap for the time being, a plan to raise the full-benefits retirement age from 62 to 64. France currently has a pensions deficit of around $19 billion, and although Macron’s proposals would have gone some way to fixing it, the President is going to have to rethink his approach. The idea is to wait until at least April, by which a report into the pensions deficit should be ready.

Macron has seen unprecedented protests during his tenure so far. Indeed this latest one is the longest in modern French history. Although it has been given minimal coverage in the corporate media, Yellow Vest demonstrations for economic and social justice have been a weekly feature of the Macron presidency since as far back as October 2018. But this hasn’t stopped ‘Manu’ -as some call him – from trying to implement a range of reforms which workers feel undermine their rights. Forced to abandon his fuel tax rise back in 2018 as a result of protests, he then embarked on a series of other reforms, the latest of which has been to pensions. And despite being reported in mainstream media as being merely a retirement age increase from 62 to 64 for certain professions, what Macron proposed was not quite as harmless as is being portrayed.

Referred to by France’s CGT union as a ‘smokescreen’, the pension reforms were to replace France’s 42 separate pension regimes with a points system. But opponents say by doing that, people would be required to work for longer or be left with less money when they retire.  It would also abolish benefits like early retirement for certain groups of workers. And far from women being ‘big winners’ from the reforms as the government maintains, it seems the opposite could be true, with widows, divorced women and mothers who take career breaks to raise their families, being particularly penalised. As a result, the majority of French support the strikes – around 62% according to an RTL poll.

One might think that Macron would have learnt some lessons from his predecessors. Alain Juppe, Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac, tried to overhaul pensions in 1995, leading to three weeks of strikes which equally resulted in a government U-turn. But Macron has had a ruthless, defiant approach towards the protestors since the outset; determined not to give in to their demands. Even before he became President, he proclaimed in response to a question about pushing through economic reforms ‘if we get a few protests, it won’t be a show-stopper’. And this attitude is what is at the heart of the demonstrations against the government. For it is Macron’s lofty, high-handed approach which has irked people from the very beginning.

The idea that people’s feelings towards the reforms are somehow irrelevant – the very people who are powering the machine that is the city of Paris – is gravely wrong, and will only inspire more French to take to the streets. These people are no different from those who led the revolution of the 18th century, and it would be a mistake to think that they will accept to be dictated to by a powerful elite any more than their ancestors did.  The mood in the streets has been militant of late; emotions are running high.

The French people have proved that they are a force to be reckoned with. It is to Emmanuel Macron’s detriment if he underestimates them. Currently he is presiding over one of the most socially turbulent periods in France’s modern history. If he is to save his legacy at all, he must begin by respecting the citizens he presides over, and ultimately, by respecting the key message of the republic: freedom, equality and fraternity.

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Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

New reporting out Monday further erodes the White House narrative that President Donald Trump was justified in ordering the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani earlier this month because Soleimani posed an “imminent” threat to American targets. 

According to NBC News, Trump authorized Soleimani’s killing in June—seven months ago—on the condition that Iranian actions resulted in the death of an American. The assassination was pushed by Iran war hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who wanted the U.S. to carry out the killing in retaliation for Iran shooting down a US. drone in June. Trump responded to the push by responding “that’s only on the table if they hit Americans,” according to a person briefed on the discussion.

Discussions on targeting Soleimani began even earlier. From NBC:

The idea of killing Soleimani came up in discussions in 2017 that Trump’s national security adviser at the time, retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, was having with other administration officials about the president’s broader national security strategy, officials said. But it was just one of a host of possible elements of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and “was not something that was thought of as a first move,” said a former senior administration official involved in the discussions.

Middle East analyst Juan Cole added to the mounting scrutiny over Trump’s “imminent” threat narrative on Monday. Writing at his Informed Comment blog, Cole noted:

[Soleimani] does not appear to have killed or had killed any Americans at all in the past decade, and from 2015 because of the U.N. Security Council nuclear deal with Iran, Soleimani was not an adversary of the US in recent years. In fact, he was often a de facto ally and the U.S. Air Force gave him air support at Tikrit and elsewhere in the campaign against ISIL (ISIS, Daesh). In fact, for a while there Soleimani was fighting ISIL and al-Qaeda-linked militias in Syria in tacit alliance with the Kurds supported by the United States at a time when Israel allied with an al-Qaeda affiliate in the Golan Heights.

Moreover, the entire narrative of the Trump administration was undermined by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdelmahdi, who told Parliament on Jan. 5when he asked its members to kick out the U.S. military, that he had personally invited Soleimani to Baghdad as part of a back-channel set of negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran aimed at cooling down tensions between the two. Soleimani did not sneak into Iraq on a covert mission. He flew on a commercial jet and went through passport control with his diplomatic passport.

While an attempt was made to invade the U.S. embassy on the Wednesday before Soleimani’s arrival, that was done by members of the Iraqi militia, the Kata’ib Hizbullah, who were angry that on December 30, the Trump administration bombed its bases in northern Iraq and killed some two dozen of its fighters.

Cole suggested the Trump administration appeared to be taking a page from the George W. Bush administration, which set up the Office of Special Plans to amass sketchy evidence to push the narrative of a threat of weapons of mass destruction posed by Iraq.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have also found evidence presented to them by administration officials to be unconvincing.

Among that group is Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.),  who pointed to Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s comments to CBS Sunday that he “didn’t see” any specific evidence about four U.S. embassies being targeted by Soleimani.

Speaking on MSNBC‘s Kasie DC show Sunday, Merkley said, “the whole imminent argument is basically made up and they’re trying to backfill and give that some substance.”

“But it wasn’t there,” Merkley said. “It wasn’t in the [Senate] brieifing. It wasn’t detailed… and there’s Secretary Esper trying to square the circle and having a hard time doing it.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also contributed to the doubt over the administration’s stated justification, telling Fox News last week that the administration actually didn’t know when or where the purported “imminent” attacks were going to take place.

Soleimani’s killing has sparked Agnes Callamard, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, to call this month for an impartial probe.

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Russia’s Libyan peace summit in Moscow didn’t succeed with its stated objective of getting the warring parties to agree to a ceasefire agreement after they failed to find any common ground with one another, but it was nevertheless a good start which showed just how influential the trans-regional Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership has become, especially since it paved the way for this weekend’s upcoming peace talks in Berlin.

Premature Peace Prospects

Russia was left sorely disappointed after the Libyan Summit that its diplomats organized in Moscow on Monday failed to achieve its stated objective of getting the warring parties to agree to a ceasefire agreement after they couldn’t find any common ground with one another. Prime Minister Sarraj of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) refused to meet with General Haftar of the eastern-based House of Representative’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which was the first sign that the hoped-for pragmatism between them that both Russia and Turkey worked so hard to facilitate probably wasn’t going to happen. The author wrote about the high hopes that this unexpected summit held in his analysis asking “Who’d Have Thought 9 Years Ago That Russia & Turkey Would Bring Peace To Libya?“, the title of which turned out to be premature despite its organizer’s expectations. Nevertheless, there are still some very significant lessons to be learned from this experience that will be discussed in the present piece.

Mutually Unrealistic Demands

First off, regardless of the speculative role that Russia’s possible mercenaries in Libya may or may not have played in compelling General Haftar to attend the summit in the first place (the working hypothesis of which was elaborated on in the previously cited piece above), the eastern strongman has shown that he’s not willing to undertake what he believes to be unilateral concessions. Rather, he thought that he could pressure his opponent into doing exactly that by demanding that his troops be allowed to enter Tripoli, something that the GNA obviously wasn’t going to agree to. Another point of contention was that General Haftar was reportedly upset at Turkey’s military and diplomatic intervention in the conflict, as well as the draft ceasefire not making any mention of Ankara’s troops withdrawing or the dismantlement of all of Tripoli’s GNA-allied militias that he regards as terrorists. To be fair, the GNA also made an unrealistic demand of the LNA. Prime Minister Sarraj wanted General Haftar to withdraw from Tripoli’s outskirts and possibly even as east to where his forces originally were before they launched their nationwide offensive early last year.

Hanging Onto Hope

Just because the Libyan Summit failed to have any tangible outcome, however, doesn’t mean that it “collapsed” or was in and of itself a “failure”, as argued by Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Vitaly Naumkin. Foreign Minister Lavrov, while lamenting that the meeting’s main goal wasn’t achieved, also expressed hope that this experience could set into motion a more comprehensive peace process involving all of the relevant stakeholders. He said that “all efforts now taken by Europeans including Germans, the French, Italians, the efforts by Libyan neighbors – Algeria, Egypt – as well as the UAE, Turkey, Qatar and Russia, we want to piece them all together so that everyone acts in one direction and urges all Libyan parties to reach agreements rather than sort things out militarily.” This is especially pertinent considering this weekend’s planned peace talks in Berlin on 19 January, which were agreed to by Chancellor Merkel and President Putin during the former’s visit to Moscow last Saturday.

The Five-Day Countdown

In the five-day run-up to that event, the question thus becomes one of whether or not the unofficial ceasefire will hold up until then seeing as how fighting resumed after General Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal. He and his GCC+ allies might be calculating that they could possibly make a last-ditch push on the capital to take as much as possible in order to improve their leverage ahead of the upcoming peace talks, if not seize the capital outright (which is unlikely in the speculative event that the Russian mercenaries that were reportedly fighting alongside him ceased their operations out of “patriotic inspiration” following President Putin’s ceasefire proposal like the author earlier hypothesized). Should the GNA survive long enough for an official ceasefire to eventually be agreed to more or less on General Haftar’s terms (seeing as how he’s powerful enough to not unilaterally withdraw from the capital’s outskirts, let alone all the way to where he was prior to the onset of last year’s nationwide campaign), then Russia has a UN-linked peace plan ready to implement.

Syria 2.0?

It was reported by TASS on Monday that the Eurasian Great Power would deploy what are presumably intended to be Syrian-like peacekeeping forces to Libya. The exact passage of relevance reads that “the function of ceasefire control will be placed in the hands of Russia as a foreign party”, strongly resembling the role that it already fulfills in the Arab Republic alongside Ankara. Although the Moscow ceasefire envisaged a moratorium on the deployment of Turkish forces to Libya, it’s likely that the two strategically partnered countries would cooperate just as closely in that North African war zone as they presently do in the Levantine one, thus possibly representing yet another joint military achievement. These details might change by next week pending the outcome of the Berlin peace talks, but it’s probable that the spirit of the original proposal will remain wherein Russia plays a leading role in preserving any ceasefire per its “balancing” strategy of having equally excellent relations with both primary sides in that conflict (and in mostly any other one more broadly).

The Power Behind The Proxy

Provided that General Haftar doesn’t take Tripoli before next Sunday’s peace talks, then the most realistic way to compel him into “compromising” with Prime Minister Sarraj is to pressure his GCC+ backers, specifically the Emirati and Saudi ones (which strongly influence his closest Egyptian military ally through financial means). They’re the only ones that could possibly “rein him in”, but they both have their own interests in not doing so, at least at this point in time. It’s unforeseeable that any of the attendees apart from perhaps Turkey would consider sanctioning those oil-rich monarchies if they don’t do what’s requested of them, thus taking the “bite” out of their “bark”, but there might be other ways to get them to enter into a pragmatic agreement in the name of peace. That of course remains to be seen since it’s not yet known what “tricks” any of the attendees might have up their sleeves, but in any case, observers should keep an eye on that facet of the negotiations since General Haftar won’t be stopped unless his GCC+ backers signal that it’s time for him to finally do so.

Concluding Thoughts

It was already an impressive diplomatic feat for Russia to organize an impromptu peace summit on Libya in Moscow on Monday (with Turkey’s assistance) even if it didn’t attain its main goal of getting both warring parties to sign an official ceasefire agreement. Moscow and Ankara proved that they’re nowadays important enough players in the conflict (each for different reasons) that their interests can’t be ignored, both individually but especially also collectively per their trans-regional strategic partnership, thus placing them in the same league as the many other stakeholders like Libya’s neighbors, the EU, and the GCC+ who have long had their own interests in the outcome. General Haftar must know that it’s “now or never” wherein he either captures Tripoli before Sunday’s peace talks in Berlin or he’ll probably have to eventually settle for a power-sharing agreement with Prime Minister Sarraj. It’s unclear whether his LNA and its GCC+ backers are powerful enough to accomplish this, though, so that variable remains the wild card to watch over the next five days.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

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

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The assassination of Major General Qaseem Soleimani, who was already a national hero in Iran, has now achieved the stature of a world class martyr. Carrying a diplomatic passport on his flight into Baghdad, Soleimani was also carrying the Iranian response  to a Saudi initiative for peace.

In contrast, President Donald Trump has revealed more about his own inner angst than he ever intended – or perhaps, being a non-introspective type, what has been revealed may be more than he himself has ever acknowledged.

As events and more of the back story unfold, Trump’s frequently problematic sense of reality may be questioned in view of his astonishing suggestion that he is ‘ready to makea new nuclear deal with Iran, even as he ordered additional sanction against the country.  Prior to Soleimani’s assassination, Trump threatened to kill Iraq Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.

There is no denying that the nature of the act is right out of the Israel play book of quick and dirty overkill and extermination of humanity as seen in Gaza and Jerusalem on a daily basis.

During a session of the Iraq legislature immediately after the assassination, Mahdi reported that the Americans had “ruined his country” and were now unwilling to repair Iraq’s electric grid and other infrastructure needs. Mahdi did what any self respecting leader would do; he signed a contract with Trump’s favorite trading partner to make the repairs.   China already had an international reputation for providing necessary community infrastructure in Africa and elsewhere – wonder if they might visit Detroit and solve their water quality crisis.

Trump has vehemently opposed Iraq’s deal with China unless Mahdi would guarantee that 50% of Iraq’s oil revenue would go to the US.  Mahdi refused and when he refused to reject the contract, he said that Trump “threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership.

Mahdi continued

“Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine sniperson tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me.  I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.”

Mahdi says he was also “threatened with false-flag sniper shootings of both protesters and security personnel in order to inflame the situation” like what took place  in Cairo in 2009, Libya in 2011, and the Maidan in 2014.

“After this, when our Minister of Defense publicly stated that a third party was targeting both protestors and security personnel alike (just as Trump had threatened he would do), I received a new call from Trump threatening to kill both me and the Minister of Defense if we kept on talking about this “third party”.

Does any precedent exist, outside of a formally declared war, where the leader of one country personally threatens the life of the leader of another country? This sounds more serious than just a “bad hair” day but rather that someone was off their meds. As Trump frequently demonstrates a bombastic nature with a non-functioning filter to refine his every whim and thought, he has more recently exhibited a deep dark side that has emerged for many Americans to witness.

The nature of the Act itself, the sheer violence of obliterating another human being beyond recognition, appeared to not be enough to satisfy the President’s inner lustful rage.  He continued over the weekend to issue a score of irrational threats to Iran and unfounded accusations about Soleimani who is now acknowledged as architect of the successful campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  Despite the false bravado, Trump’s media blast was less a show of strength and courage than a horrifying display of one soul’s malevolent nature.

Forty two hours after the assassination, Trump appeared before the VFW’s National Conference where, in a massive disconnect from reality, he suggested:  “I withdrew the US from a horrible one sided nuclear deal and Iran is not the same country any more; that I can say.  We’ll see what happens but we’re ready to make a real deal; not a deal that was done by the previous administration which was a disaster.“ Is it rational to consider a new nuclear deal with Iran after having just assassinated that country’s most revered military leader?

By Wednesday, in an awkward and somewhat bumbling public appearance from  the White House, Trump appeared short of breath and nervous as he spoke the same belligerent rhetoric but in a more mellow tone.   He again raised the possibility of a new nuclear deal with Iran:  “We must all work together to make a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place” and “The US is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it” as if the assassination was a long ago forgotten kerfuffle.

As Trump continued to pound on Soleimani in death about destabilizing the Middle East, every word he uttered about terrorists could be easily applied to the US, to himself or to Barack Obama or GW for their never-ending campaign to preserve The Empire.

With a penchant for over-exaggeration, Trump claims that the “US has achieved energy independence” as if it is a done deal.   “We are now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.  We are independent and  “we do not need Middle East oil.” So let’s take him at his word that the US has truly achieved  long term reliable energy  independence; then let’s immediately initiate an exit strategy from Afghanistan, Iraq,  Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and where ever else US troops are protecting pipelines.

The Iranians are long term, big picture thinkers and they might see the wisdom of going through the motions of a new deal with the US but the smart money is on a covert act  that will claim a fitting justice for Soleimani as it is time for Israel to fight its own battles.

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Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and President of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter.   She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist with Friends of the Earth and staff member in the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC.  She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31.

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In response to the Trump regime’s assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi deputy PMU head Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iraq’s prime minister and parliament called for expelling US troops from the country.

They’re a hostile force wherever based, their presence making peace and stability unattainable.

Iraqis want them out of their country. Trump and hardliners surrounding him refuse to go, the country now occupied US territory.

Their presence is all about colonizing Iraq, permanently occupying its territory, controlling its hydrocarbon and other resources, along with using its military bases in the country as platforms for endless regional wars against invented enemies.

As president and commander-in-chief of US armed forces, Trump serves the interests of America’s military, industrial, security complex, Wall Street, Big Oil, and other corporate interests — at the expense of world peace, equity, justice, the rule of law, and other democratic values he and most others in Washington disdain.

Last week, Trump threatened tough sanctions on Iraq if US troops are expelled, saying:

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” adding:

He’ll impose “sanctions (on Iraq) like they’ve never seen before ever.”

According to former Iraqi official Fadhel Jawad, Baghdad can expel US forces because their presence isn’t based on legislation or a formal agreement.

Iraqi geopolitical analyst Sajad Jiyad explained that US forces violated the country’s constitution and statute laws “many times,” clear just cause for expelling them, adding:

“It’s a case of will the government be bold enough to take the initiative, or does it want to draw this out and pass the buck around?”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump regime “warned that the US could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

It “manag(es) the country’s finances, including revenue from oil sales. (Losing access) could restrict Iraq’s use of that revenue, creating a cash crunch in (its) financial system.”

According to Shwan Taha, chairman of Iraqi investment bank Rabee Securities, “(t)he Fed…has a (financial) stranglehold on the (country’s) entire economy.”

Baghdad needs to free itself from petrodollar bondage by conducting bilateral trade with other nations in its own currency and theirs.

It needs to pursue stronger relations with Russia, China, and other nations on a mutually cooperative basis, freeing itself from US control.

Otherwise, it’ll remains hostage to US imperial whims and will, a colonized nation, not a sovereign independent one.

US relations with Iraq and other countries it occupies is based on an unacceptable master/vassal arrangement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi wants Pompeo to begin the process of withdrawing Pentagon forces from the country — details to be worked out through bilateral talks in Baghdad.

According to a statement from his office, Mahdi told Pompeo to “send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism to carry out the parliament’s resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq,” adding:

US “forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements.”

During a Friday press conference in Washington, Pompeo rebuffed the request, saying:

“Our mission (in Iraq) is very clear. (We’re) there to perform a training mission to help the Iraqi security forces be successful and to continue the campaign against ISIS (sic),” adding: “We’re going to continue that mission.”

Trump called withdrawing US forces from Iraq “the worst thing to happen to” the country. “(T)his isn’t the right” time.

Fact: US troops in Iraq have nothing to do with combatting the scourge of ISIS Washington created and supports.

Fact: Their presence has everything to do with controlling the country and its resources, along with using Pentagon bases in its territory as platforms for endless regional wars.

Iraqis want freedom from US occupation. The Trump regime refuses to go. Pentagon forces are unlikely to be withdrawn any time soon.

Iran’s UN envoy Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh believes the Trump regime’s assassination of Soleimani and Muhandis pushed the envelope closer to ending US occupation of Iraq.

On Saturday, prominent Iraqi PMU commander Taleb Abbas Ali al-Saedi was lethally shot in Karbala, a city southwest of Baghdad — by an unknown gunman, according to Iraqi media, US dirty hands likely responsible.

Separately according to Iran’s Tasnim News, UK envoy to the Islamic Republic “Rob Macaire was arrested for hours for his involvement in provoking suspicious acts in a gathering held in front of Tehran Amir Kabir University on Saturday,” adding:

He’s accused of inciting students involved in protesting Iran’s announced accidental downing of a Ukraine airliner, US dirty hands perhaps responsible for orchestrating what happened.

“(F)reed a few hours later,” Macaire faces further questioning for his unacceptable actions.

Britain is no friend of Iran, partnered with Washington’s aim for regime change.

The presence of US and allied forces in the region assures endless wars, related violence, instability, and human misery — why it’s crucial to be rid of them.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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On July 3, 1988 the US guided missile destroyer USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655, an Airbus A300 flying in Iranian airspace and carrying 290 civilians from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, killing all aboard.

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“I’ll never apologize for the United States of America, ever; I don’t care what the facts are,” said Vice President George H. W. Bush after the US Navy shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, killing 290 innocent people, including 66 children.

It’s too early to tell whether or not Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after the Boeing 737-8KV took off in Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. One thing seems almost certain—if Iran did shoot down the plane, it was by accident. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson, his British counterpart, both claim to have intelligence and other evidence that Flight 752 was hit by one or more surface-to-air missiles, while US President Donald Trump opined that “somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.” It’s practically impossible to imagine a scenario in which Iran would intentionally target a Ukrainian commercial flight; fortunately, cool heads seem to be prevailing ahead of investigations of the incident.

‘I’ll Never Apologize for the United States of America’

For many Iranians, the Tehran tragedy brought back painful memories of a similar incident from more than 30 years ago during a period of similarly heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. On July 3, 1988 the US guided missile destroyer USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655, an Airbus A300 flying in Iranian airspace and carrying 290 civilians from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, killing all aboard. The victims included people from six countries, including 66 children. The US maintains this was an accident, while Iran accused the US of an intentional act of state terrorism.

According to the official US account, the Vincennes’ crew misidentified the civilian airliner, claiming its flight profile was similar to that of the US-made F-14 Tomcat fighters sold to the Imperial Iranian Air Force during the last years of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s dictatorship. The latter years of the Iraq-Iran war—which began in 1980 after the US encouraged Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to invade his much larger neighbor — saw periodic skirmishes between US and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. On the morning of July 3 a US helicopter came under small arms fire from Iranian patrol boats; the Vincennes gave chase into Iranian waters, where it fired two surface-to-air missiles at the doomed airliner.

Serious questions were raised by the US account of the incident. First, the Vincennes’ Aegis Combat System, a state-of-the-art computer and radar tracking and guidance system, indicated the plane was climbing and not descending as an attacking F-14 would. Second, Flight 655 was transmitting the correct transponder “squawk” code for a commercial airliner, while maintaining radio communication in English with nearby air traffic controllers. Third, Iran argued that even if the plane had been a fighter jet, the US had no right to shoot it down, as it was in Iranian airspace and its flight path couldn’t possibly indicate an attack profile as it was climbing when attacked.

The Reagan administration told lie after lie about the incident. It claimed the Vincennes was in international waters at the time of the attack It was not. It said the ship acted in self defense against the “descending” plane; Flight 455 was climbing when it was shot down. It also claimed the flight had strayed from its usual route. It did not. It told the United Nations that the Vincennes was rushing to defend merchant shipping from Iranian attack, a complete fabrication.

President Ronald Reagan swiftly apologized to Iran for the incident, while Vice President George H.W. Bush—who was running for president that year—shocked the world with his response to his country’s mass killing of 290 innocent civilians. “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America, ever,” he said on August 5. “I don’t care what the facts are.”

A subsequent Pentagon investigation concluded that Flight 655 “was on a normal commercial air flight plan profile, in the assigned airway, squawking Mode III (civilian), on a continuous ascent in altitude from take-off at Bandar Abbas to shoot-down.” In 1996, the United States agreed to pay over $60 million, or just over $213,000 per passenger, to families of Iran Air Flight 655 victims, without admitting any legal liability.

For the sailors of the USS Vincennes, praise, not punishment, was the order of the day. All received combat action ribbons, while the ship’s air warfare coordinator was awarded a commendation medal for the “heroic achievement” of “quickly and precisely completing the firing procedure” that shot down Flight 655. Captain Will Rogers III was honored with the Legion of Merit for his “outstanding service.”

‘A Bus with 73 Dogs’

While Iran Air Flight 655 was almost certainly a tragic accident, an earlier attack on a commercial airliner closer to home bears much more sinister US fingerprints.

On the balmy afternoon of October 6, 1976, Cubana de Aviación Flight 455, a DC-8 carrying 73 passengers, many of them teenage members of Cuba’s junior Olympic fencing team, took off from Barbados bound for Jamaica. The plane made a brief stop in Trinidad and Tobago, where two anti-Fidel Castro terrorists planted a pair of bombs, cleverly hidden inside a camera and a tube of toothpaste, aboard the plane. They exploded shortly after takeoff, blasting a hole in the plane and sparking a fire as it plunged into the sea. There were no survivors of what was, until September 11, 2001, the worst-ever act of airborne terrorism in the Western Hemisphere.

Shortly after the attack, one of the terrorists, Hernán Ricardo, phoned Orlando Bosch, a CIA-backed, Miami-based Cuban exile militant who, along with fellow anti-Castro terrorist and longtime CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles, planned the bombing. “A bus with 73 dogs went off a cliff,” Ricardo told Bosch. “All got killed.”

The CIA, under its new director at the time—none other than George H. W. Bush—knew as early as June 1976 that Cuban exiles were plotting to blow up a Cubana airliner, but did not warn Havana. Ricardo and his accomplice Freddy Lugo were arrested in Trinidad and Tobago. They confessed to the bombing and fingered Bosch and Posada Carriles as the masterminds of the attack. The four men were jailed in Venezuela but Bosch and Posada Carriles escaped. They eventually made their way back to Florida, where they were welcomed as heroes—the city of Miami even declared an official Orlando Bosch Day—and protected by Bush, who was now president. This, despite the Justice Department calling Posada Carriles, the hemisphere’s most wanted terrorist, “an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks.”

Bosch and Posada Carriles lived out the rest of their lives in sunny South Florida while relatives of Flight 455 victims waited for justice that was never delivered. Posada Carriles pursued a successful art career while Bosch made frequent media appearances, always insisting that “there were no innocents on that plane.” Roseanne Nenninger Persaud of Guyana, whose 19-year-old brother Raymond died on Flight 455, told the New York Times in 2006 that the perpetrators of the bombing should be “treated like [Osama] bin Laden.”

“If this were a plane full of Americans, it would have been a different story,” she said.

From Common Dreams: Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

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Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based freelance author and editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com.

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U.S. Now at War Against Iraq and Iran

January 13th, 2020 by Eric Zuesse

On January 9th, Iraq’s Prime Minister and Parliament again ordered all American troops out, but on January 10th the AP headlined “US dismisses Iraq request to work on a troop withdrawal plan” and reported that the U.S. State Department “bluntly rejected the request, saying the two sides should instead talk about how to ‘recommit’ to their partnership.” It was not a “request” from Iraq; it was a command from them; and the U.S. and Iraq relate as conqueror and conquered, not as “partners.” Consequently: the U.S. Government, now that it has been so unequivocally ordered to leave, is back again, unequivocally, to its invader-occupier role in Iraq. 

The AP report went on to say that, “The request from Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi pointed to his determination to push ahead with demands for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.” Again there was that false word “request.” The AP report said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted, in reply, “Our mission set there is very clear. We’ve been there to perform a training mission to help the Iraqi security forces be successful and to continue the campaign against ISIS, to continue the counter-Daesh campaign.” Though that’s the invader-occupier’s excuse, the reality is that the U.S. needs Iraq in order to invade Iran, which is the U.S. Government’s objective, though not overtly stated. 

Already, America’s assassination in Iraq of Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani on January 3rd is an enormous act of war against Iran. It is intended to obliterate Iran’s main strategist, and this successful attack against Iran inside Iraq is a devastating first strike, by the U.S. Government against Iran.

So: now, the U.S. is at war against both Iraq and Iran.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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We have never heard a more damning description of the relationship between a corporation and its regulators than a line that has been plucked from a batch of company emails that Boeing has just handed over to the FAA (and which the FAA has, apparently, leaked to the press).

Per the New York Times:

“This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys…”

In recent weeks, a series of reports claiming Boeing neglected to turn over critical information to the FAA regarding the development of the 737 MAX 8, Boeing’s new “workhorse” model that has been grounded around the world for the last 10 months, after a pair of suspicious crashes raised suspicions of possible flaws in the plane’s anti-stall software.

According to more than 100 pages of internal company communications (which were apparently withheld from the FAA during the certification process for the jet) Boeing employees could be heard mocking federal rules, openly discussing their deception of regulators, and joking about the MAX’s potential flaws.

The most shocking messages were sent by Boeing pilots and other employees who can be seen discussing software issues and problems with the flight simulator software for hte MAX, which is particularly disturbing since it was issues with the plane’s MCAS software that were found to have contributed to two avoidable crashes and the brutal deaths of 346 people.

In one message, one Boeing employee openly admits to deceiving the FAA on behalf of the company.

“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration.

In another, a group of Boeing test pilots agreed that they wouldn’t want their families flying with pilots trained on the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight simulator.

Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee said to a colleague in another exchange from 2018, before the first crash. “No,” the colleague responded.

As the New York Times explains, the release of these communications, both emails and instant messages, is “the latest embarrassing episode for Boeing in a crisis that has cost the company billions of dollars and wreaked havoc on the aviation industry across the globe.”

When allegations that Boeing withheld “damning” information from the FAA first surfaced late last year, Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, blasted the company in a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“These messages indicate that Boeing withheld damning information from the FAA, which is highly disturbing,” Peter DeFazio, Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives transportation committee, wrote in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Friday.

It should go without saying that these messages “threaten to complicate Boeing’s relationship with the FAA” at a time when it’s still unclear when the MAX might be cleared to fly again.

Yet, as we mentioned above, this is only the latest and perhaps most jarring of a string of revelations citing internal documents and communications. Forget “regulatory capture” – a term that’s often used to criticize the revolving-door nature of Wall Street compliance officials and the regulatory agencies supposed to keep their firms in line – this is regulatory irrelevance.

And any Boeing shareholders who experienced an escalating dread as they read this post – it’s okay, you can relax.

Because once again, the market just doesn’t care. Plane crashes have been normalized in 2020, and so, apparently, has gross incompetence and contempt for both government regulators and the broader public.

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Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement in which called the Prime Minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord, Fayez Sarraj, and the leader of the Libyan National Army, strongman Khalifa Haftar, for a cease-fire.

The counterparts took this initiative in different ways: Sarraj happily agreed, and Haftar did not respond so clearly.

On January 9, the Libyan National Army spokesperson, Major General Ahmed Al-Mismari, released a statement on the Turkish- Russian initiative. His speech contained unusual details worth analysing.

First of all, Al-Mismari said that the Libyan army supports the Russian President’s proposal. It should be noted that the General did not mention Recep Erdogan during his speech.

The hostility of the spokesperson is clearly due to the fact that Turkey is actually participating in the Libyan civil war. The Turkish parliament approved sending Turkish troops to Libya to support the GNA in Tripoli, and Turkey has been deploying its forces in the African country. In addition, earlier, Ankara repeatedly supplied arms and military equipment to Sarraj, including drones in violation of international sanctions, as evidenced by a leak from documents between the Libyan Central Bank and the Turkish military company SSTEK. It is known that the GNA spent more than $ 600 million on the illegal purchase of arms and military equipment from Turkey.

Furthermore, Al-Mesmari indicated that the Libyan National Army would continue the military operation to liberate Tripoli from the terrorists anyway. Thus, he made it clear that Sarraj’s government is not politically independent because it cooperates with illegal armed groups and therefore can not participate in a political settlement in Libya.

The Libyan National Army’s response to the Turkish and Russian leaders’ proposal demonstrated the real position of the Libyan Army regarding the settlement of the Libyan conflict. Despite respecting the initiative of the Russian authority, Haftar clarified that retreat is not possible as long as the capital is controlled by a group of criminals and terrorist groups led by the National Accord Government.

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Hassan Mansour is a Libyan freelance journalist.

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Italy, Russia and Turkey have been pressing for an end to the war in Libya between the Parliament-backed Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Turkish-backed Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Pressure to put an end to the LNA offensive was received by General Khalifa Haftar, who continues to advance on jihadist forces loyal to the GNA, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin made a joint statement to “declare a sustainable ceasefire, supported by the necessary measures to be taken for stabilizing the situation on the ground and normalizing daily life in Tripoli and other cities,” with the ceasefire to begin at midnight on Sunday. The Libyan general also had a private meeting on Wednesday with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who called on Haftar to order the cessation of military action, as according to Conte, the only viable solution is a political solution.

Although the LNA’s efforts to liberate Libyan territory from the GNA began in April, it slowly grinded down to a halt and stalemate. However, Erdoğan in a gross miscalculation that left him isolated and with no international support, set tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean alight when him and GNA leader, Fayez al-Sarraj, an ethnic Turk himself, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in late November 2019 that redrew maritime borders that massively infringed on Greece’s maritime space.

Haftar took every advantage of the renewed tensions between Turkey and Greece and successfully swayed Athens to withdraw relations with the internationally recognized GNA and back the LNA. This was important as Greece became the first NATO and EU member to openly back the LNA, sparking a new offensive by the LNA against the GNA. Since the signing of the memorandum between Erdoğan and Sarraj, Egypt has not only provided weaponry and equipment to the LNA, Cairo has threatened to attack Turkey if it involves itself in Libya just as the United Arab Emirates continues to conduct airstrikes against the GNA.

The LNA with renewed and strengthened international support just days ago liberated the symbolic city of Sirte, the birthplace of Libya’s historic leader, Muammar Gaddafi. This is a major blow as the LNA has now also officially reached Tripoli and is only a few kilometres from the center of Libya’s capital. The simultaneous operations have meant that the GNA, whose forces just days ago beheaded an LNA scout in similar fashion to ISIS barbarity, is not only feeling pressure in the capital, but LNA forces have continued their offensive beyond Sirte and are now only 100 kilometers from Misrata. This will surely divide GNA forces considering many of the militias fighting in Tripoli on the side of the GNA are originally from Misrata, the first major city to fall during the NATO-backed destruction of Libya in 2011.

Saraj had contacts with top European Union officials this week, who also called for an end to armed violence, however they failed to convince Haftar to end military operations. Turkey has already sent military supplies, military advisers and Syria-based jihadists to Libya. Any ceasefire will only allow GNA forces to regroup and resupply while the LNA would lose its momentum with the massive advances they are currently making.

Russia has little influence over the LNA and there is no incentive for the LNA to accept the ceasefire. In Syria, Russia has strongly supported Damascus economically and militarily, while Turkey has supported jihadist groups. However, Syria is not Libya, with the LNA relying on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It is for this reason that Haftar has unconditionally rejected the call for a ceasefire as they have vowed to defeat Turkish-backed forces unconditionally. The LNA is more heavily reliant on air support and intelligence from the Abu Dhabi, and material support and intelligence from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Putin, despite making the joint statement for a ceasefire with Erdoğan, likely would have known the LNA were going to reject the ceasefire request. It is likely that Putin did so as an act of good will to preserve the strengthening Russian-Turkish economic and cultural relations just as the Turkstream pipeline was inaugurated on Wednesday. Therefore, Putin made the call for a ceasefire knowing full well it would be rejected. As the LNA continues to approach Misrata, it is likely the militias originally from Misrata will leave Tripoli for their own hometown, further weakening the GNA’s defences in Tripoli, which will lead to the LNA liberating the capital city. Haftar will not surrender his advantage for a ceasefire with forces who are serving Turkish interests and behead their soldiers in an ISIS-like fashion.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

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Although the repo market is little known to most people, it is a $1-trillion-a-day credit machine, in which not just banks but hedge funds and other “shadow banks” borrow to finance their trades. Under the Federal Reserve Act, the central bank’s lending window is open only to licensed depository banks; but the Fed is now pouring billions of dollars into the repo (repurchase agreements) market, in effect making risk-free loans to speculators at less than 2%.

This does not serve the real economy, in which products, services and jobs are created. However, the Fed is trapped into this speculative monetary expansion to avoid a cascade of defaults of the sort it was facing with the long-term capital management crisis in 1998 and the Lehman crisis in 2008. The repo market is a fragile house of cards waiting for a strong wind to blow it down, propped up by misguided monetary policies that have forced central banks to underwrite its highly risky ventures.

The Financial Economy Versus the Real Economy

The Fed’s dilemma was graphically illustrated in a Dec. 19 podcast by entrepreneur/investor George Gammon, who explained we actually have two economies – the “real” (productive) economy and the “financialized” economy. “Financialization” is defined at Wikipedia as “a pattern of accumulation in which profits accrue primarily through financial channels rather than through trade and commodity production.” Rather than producing things itself, financialization feeds on the profits of others who produce.

The financialized economy – including stocks, corporate bonds and real estate – is now booming. Meanwhile, the bulk of the population struggles to meet daily expenses. The world’s 500 richest people got $12 trillion richer in 2019, while 45% of Americans have no savings, and nearly 70% could not come up with $1,000 in an emergency without borrowing.

Gammon explains that central bank policies intended to boost the real economy have had the effect only of boosting the financial economy. The policies’ stated purpose is to increase spending by increasing lending by banks, which are supposed to be the vehicles for liquidity to flow from the financial to the real economy. But this transmission mechanism isn’t working, because consumers are tapped out. They can’t spend more unless their incomes go up, and the only way to increase incomes, says Gammon, is through increasing production (or with a good dose of “helicopter money,” but more on that later).

So why aren’t businesses putting money into more production? Because, says Gammon, the central banks have put a “put” on the financial market, meaning they won’t let it go down. Business owners say, “Why should I take the risk of more productivity, when I can just invest in the real estate, stock or corporate bond market and make risk-free money?” The result is less productivity and less spending in the real economy, while the “easy money” created by banks and central banks is used for short-term gain from unproductive financial investments.

Existing assets are bought just to sell them or rent them for more, skimming profits off the top. These unearned “rentier” profits rely on ready access to liquidity (the ability to buy and sell on demand) and on leverage (using borrowed money to increase returns), and both are ultimately underwritten by the central banks. As observed in a July 2019 article titled “Financialization Undermines the Real Economy”:

When large highly leveraged financial institutions in these markets collapse, e.g., Lehman Brothers in September 2008, central banks are forced to step in to salvage the financial system. Thus, many central banks have little choice but to become securities market makers of last resort, providing safety nets for financialized universal banks and shadow banks.

Repo Madness

That is what is happening now in the repo market. Repos work like a pawn shop: the lender takes an asset (usually a federal security) in exchange for cash, with an agreement to return the asset for the cash plus interest the next day unless the loan is rolled over. In September 2019, rates on repos should have been about 2%, in line with the fed funds rate (the rate at which banks borrow deposits from each other). However, repo rates shot up to 10% on Sept. 17. Yet banks were refusing to lend to each other, evidently passing up big profits to hold onto their cash. Since banks weren’t lending, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York jumped in, increasing its overnight repo operations to $75 billion. On Oct. 23, it upped the ante to $165 billion, evidently to plug a hole in the repo market created when JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest depository bank, pulled an equivalent sum out. (For details, see my earlier post here.)

By December, the total injected by the Fed was up to $323 billion. What was the perceived danger lurking behind this unprecedented action? An article in The Quarterly Review of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) pointed to the hedge funds. As ZeroHedge summarized the BIS’ findings:

[C]ontrary to our initial take that banks were pulling from the repo market due to counterparty fears about other banks, they were instead spooked by overexposure by other hedge funds, who have become the dominant marginal – and completely unregulated – repo counterparty to liquidity lending banks; without said liquidity, massive hedge fund regulatory leverage such as that shown above would become effectively impossible.

Hedge funds have been blamed for the 2008 financial crisis, by adding too much risk to the banking system. They have destroyed companies by forcing stock buybacks, asset sales, layoffs and other measures that raise stock prices at the expense of the company’s long-term health and productivity. They have also been a major factor in the homelessness epidemic, by buying foreclosed properties at fire sale prices, then renting them out at inflated prices. Why did the Fed need to bail these parasitic institutions out? The BIS authors explained:

Repo markets redistribute liquidity between financial institutions: not only banks (as is the case with the federal funds market), but also insurance companies, asset managers, money market funds and other institutional investors. In so doing, they help other financial markets to function smoothly. Thus, any sustained disruption in this market, with daily turnover in the U.S. market of about $1 trillion, could quickly ripple through the financial system. The freezing-up of repo markets in late 2008 was one of the most damaging aspects of the Great Financial Crisis (GFC).

At $1 trillion daily, the repo market is much bigger and more global than the fed funds market that is the usual target of central bank policy. Repo trades are supposedly secured with “high-quality collateral” (usually U.S. Treasuries). But they are not risk-free, because of the practice of “re-hypothecation”: the short-term “owner” of the collateral can use it as collateral for another loan, creating leverage – loans upon loans. The IMF has estimated that the same collateral was reused 2.2 times in 2018, which means both the original owner and 2.2 subsequent re-users believed they owned the same collateral. This leveraging, which actually expands the money supply, is one of the reasons banks put their extra funds in the repo market rather than in the fed funds market. But it is also why the repo market and the U.S. Treasuries it uses as collateral are not risk-free. As Wall Street veteran Caitlin Long warns:

U.S. Treasuries are … the most rehypothecated asset in financial markets, and the big banks know this. … U.S. Treasuries are the core asset used by every financial institution to satisfy its capital and liquidity requirements – which means that no one really knows how big the hole is at a system-wide level.

This is the real reason why the repo market periodically seizes up. It’s akin to musical chairs – no one knows how many players will be without a chair until the music stops.

ZeroHedge cautions that hedge funds are the most heavily leveraged multi-strategy funds in the world, taking something like $20 billion to $30 billion in net assets under management and levering it up to $200 billion. According to The Financial Times, to fire up returns, “some hedge funds take the Treasury security they have just bought and use it to secure cash loans in the repo market. They then use this fresh cash to increase the size of the trade, repeating the process over and over and ratcheting up the potential returns.”

ZeroHedge concludes:

This … explains why the Fed panicked in response to the GC repo rate blowing out to 10% on Sept 16, and instantly implemented repos as well as rushed to launch QE 4: not only was Fed Chair Powell facing an LTCM [Long Term Capital Management] like situation, but because the repo-funded [arbitrage] was (ab)used by most multi-strat funds, the Federal Reserve was suddenly facing a constellation of multiple LTCM blow-ups that could have started an avalanche that would have resulted in trillions of assets being forcefully liquidated as a tsunami of margin calls hit the hedge funds world.

“Helicopter Money” – The Only Way Out?

The Fed has been forced by its own policies to create an avalanche of speculative liquidity that never makes it into the real economy. As Gammon explains, the central banks have created a wall that traps this liquidity in the financial markets, driving stocks, corporate bonds and real estate to all-time highs, creating an “everything bubble” that accomplishes only one thing – increased wealth inequality. Central bank quantitative easing won’t create hyperinflation, says Gammon, but “it will create a huge discrepancy between the haves and have nots that will totally wipe out the middle class, and that will bring on MMT or helicopter money. Why? Because it’s the only way that the Fed can get the liquidity from the financial economy, over this wall, around the banking system, and into the real economy. It’s the only solution they have.” Gammon does not think it’s the right solution, but he is not alone in predicting that helicopter money is coming.

Investopedia notes that “helicopter money” differs from quantitative easing (QE), the money-printing tool currently used by central banks. QE involves central bank-created money used to purchase assets from bank balance sheets. Helicopter money, on the other hand, involves a direct distribution of printed money to the public.

A direct drop of money on the people would certainly help to stimulate the economy, but it won’t get the parasite of financialization off our backs; and Gammon is probably right that the Fed lacks the tools to fix the underlying disease itself. Only Congress can change the Federal Reserve Act and the tax system. Congress could impose a 0.1% financial transactions tax, which would nip high-frequency speculative trading in the bud. Congress could turn the Federal Reserve into a public utility mandated to serve the productive economy. Commercial banks could also be regulated as public utilities, and public banks could be established that served the liquidity needs of local economies. For other possibilities, see Banking on the People here.

Solutions are available, but Congress itself has been captured by the financial markets, and it may take another economic collapse to motivate Congress to act. The current repo crisis could be the fuse that triggers that collapse.

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Ellen Brown chairs the Public Banking Institute and has written thirteen books, including her latest, Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age.  She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com.

What we witnessed last week was unprecedented in international affairs: the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Suleimani, as well as a senior Iraqi military commander. Why did Trump decide to engage in this lawless, reckless act? Was it just because he hated the Obama-era nuclear accord that he unlawfully withdrew from? It is a little more than that, and requires some background.

For Trump, this goes all the way back to his campaign and his first meeting with the Pentagon generals in his Oval Office. One of the reasons he was elected was because he spoke openly about ending useless wars, bringing troops home, etc. The Pentagon generals met him only once in his Oval Office in the White House, and furious at his views, demanded that all future meetings take place in ‘the Tank’ – what they call the Pentagon. There, they felt they would be in charge and Trump would have no choice but to take orders.

What has happened during the past three plus years is a slow-motion coup d’etat against Trump since even before he entered office by the military-intelligence apparatus, or the Deep State, in alliance with the most nefarious sections of the Democratic Party. The contempt for Trump has had nothing to do with his vile racism, xenophobia, pathological lying, and imbecilic threats and tweets.

However, it did have to do with the veil of a multicultural, melting pot liberal Western order that he completely tore apart through his domestic bravado.

Internationally, it was somewhat the opposite. That entailed Trump’s campaign promises to end these endless, meaningless wars, make ‘deals’ with the North Koreans and start removing all these costly global US military bases, including in the Middle East.

This is what made elite political discourse in the US under Trump anything unlike in the 21st or 20th century. One has to go back to the US Civil War in the 1860s to find such intra-elite factional infighting.

When a former CIA director goes on national TV in the US and calls a sitting president’s behavior as treasonous – the crime for treason being the death penalty – one knows that there are significant factions of the permanent military-intelligence complex, the Deep State, that have the CIA director’s back. Otherwise, such a remark by a CIA Director about the President of the United States would be unthinkable.

The intense frustration of the intelligence agencies at not being able to first oust Trump first for the absurd ‘Russiagate’ investigations lasting more than two years, and now a ‘Ukrainian-gate’ phone call scandal, has left them hopelessly restless.

Nevertheless, that does not imply that their incredible pressure on Trump on foreign policy has not coerced the president to accede to their demands some of the times. Whether it was halting any further diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, withdrawing from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, etc. as quickly as possible – the Deep State conveyed to Trump in no uncertain terms that these were ‘no-go’ areas for him and to not even try to interfere in these matters.

Like the emperor Constantine feeling besieged by his time’s new wave of mass conversion to prophetic, revolutionary Christianity, the emperor finally decided: why fight them, just join them! Hence, you had the conversion of Christianity, a prophetic moral-ethical emancipatory force, to Christendom – an empire of and for the powerful. Trump has effectively done the same thing in his last year in office, hoping he can adequately placate the Deep State so that this time (unlike in 2016) the latter doesn’t object to his potential re-election this year.

While the war hawk on steroids John Bolton, whose fantasy was wiping Iran off the map, had a short shelf-life in Trump’s administration, there still remains a Secretary of State who’s equally reckless, idiotic, and dangerous.

Mike Pompeo, along with a small neo-con faction of the Deep State, wanted Qasim Suleimani out of the picture for a variety of reasons.

First, Suleimani understood the American forces in West Asia all too-well having worked closely with them both in defeating Taliban and ISIS forces – and Suleimani’s knowledge of the American military’s modus operandi was ‘too close for comfort.’

Second, whether you liked him or hated him, Suleimani was undoubtedly the most formidable commander (regardless of his country of origin) over the past decade in leading and guiding forces in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen – and perhaps other places as well – in defeating salafi jihadis of the Al Qaeda and ISIS types. This fact is not merely some regional Shia hagiography of the man. This is the CIA’s own assessment.

Third, because of his mastery in the battles against and defense from these salafi jihadi forces – routing them out everywhere they may crop up – Suleimani therefore became to be perceived as a threat to complete American hegemony over the world’s most energy-rich region. If a commander from a nation that the US despises the most can accomplish virtually any victory he so desires, plans for US domination of the oil resources and profits in the region, with ‘futures derivatives’ on the stock market on the price of oil in the pipeline, then the risk (of keeping this character in the picture) was deemed to great to Uncle Sam’s policy of ‘what we say goes’ here and everywhere.

And fourth and relatedly, if it is true that the Iraqi Prime Minister had received messages from the Saudis about wanting to open up diplomatic channels with Tehran, since even MBS realized by now that he is not invincible and may even be dispensable for the Americans – then this same zealous faction of Pompeo-led neocon fanatics of the Deep State perceived this to be the absolute anathema to all of their designs over the region. In fact, it was precisely the prestige and influence of Suleimani that was needed by both the Iraqis and Saudis to make any such talks meaningful and substantive. The insane levels of contempt demonstrated toward Iran by this neo-con faction is not without any merit, I suppose. It is not Iran’s human rights abuses or theocratic rule that bothers them. What irks hawkish planners in DC is Iran’s independence and assertion of its own sovereignty since 1979, not playing the game like they should be like the surrounding quisling client regimes of the American empire.

Nevertheless, the devil here is most certainly in the details – because the details reveal plenty. So Gen. Suleimani, who for all effective purposes was considered to be the second highest/most respected government official in Iran, was assassinated by a drone attack by the US in a so-called ‘partner country’ (Iraq) at the Baghdad airport, along with a senior Iraqi commander as well. Let us be clear: these are not paramilitary or militia leaders subject to an American targeted assassination program. These are senior government officials.

In an interview with one of the world’s most highly respected scholars of international law, and a world-renowned public intellectual for peace and justice, Richard Falk notes that no matter how incredibly dangerous moments sometimes reached during the Cold War, it was utterly unimaginable that the US (or the USSR) would directly, themselves, assassinate a senior serving government official of the other nation. Proxy wars would be fought between the two from Afghanistan to Southern Africa, but such a flagrant act, if done by the US to the USSR, for example, would probably have precipitated a nuclear response. That is how unthinkable it was to do such a blatantly unlawful act of, basically, international terrorism directed toward government officials.

To my knowledge, such were the tactics of the anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th century who had their own justifiable reasons for targeting certain oppressive rulers, czars, and state torturers. But of course, with regard to states and their behavior, we have something called the United Nations as well numerous treaties and conventions of which the US is a signatory – but is now catching up with Israel in casually and routinely violating both international and US domestic law on at least a weekly basis. In fact, it’s become so evident that the US has degenerated into a lawless, rogue state that even the normally docile Congress is finally saying wait a minute, the President will need our authorization before he undertakes such an illegal international assassination again, and may even have the courage to play its constitutional role in declaring war first before allowing the executive branch to execute it.

And so what makes this whole dangerous psycho-drama even more interesting is the Iranian response to this unprecedented dastardly act against a government servant revered in his country and beyond – at the very least for fighting off salafi jihadis trying to infiltrate every country in the region. Tehran said it would respond, it informed Baghdad about what it would do, and then did it.

Iranian ballistic missiles targeted  Western-based military bases in Iraq to make three points:

a) we don’t have to target the bases right on our border, our missiles can go way further than that;

b) let’s see how great those missile defense systems of the Americans are, which were unable to intercept a single one of the ballistic missiles even though the Pentagon admits that it knew this was being planned; and

c) unlike arrogant hegemonic powers who could care less about ‘collateral damage,’ our assault was a symbolic one to just send a message, not to harm or injure a soul.

Can anyone recall when is the last time a country harmed or bombed in some capacity by the US had the will power to respond in this way outside of the context of full-scale war? Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers were killed in the Salala massacre, Pakistan being a so-called ‘non-NATO ally’ – and the US even refused to issue an apology, causing the US ambassador to Pakistan to, in principle, resign. Pakistan is a country of 220 million with nuclear weapons and a military that dwarfs Iran’s. But we could not even imagine even ‘returning the favor’ – even symbolically. Our constant mantra is that ‘we’ll be bombed to the stone age’ for any independence and self-respect we demonstrate.

For DC think tankers, chicken hawks, and their stooges across the Global South, the fact that the longest war in US history against one of the poorest countries in the world could not even be won, forget about the mess created in the Middle East with American actions only leading to the strengthening of new players on the bloc, such as Iran, Russia, and China – the fact that Iran had the audacity to retaliate like this should all speak for itself.

Rather, even more significant is President Trump’s speech the next day after the Iranian ballistic missile attacks. After blabbering for around seven minutes about how Iran is so horrible and that the US has big and tall weapons, during the last 1-2 minutes, he goes on to say that the US and Iran have a lot in common in fighting ISIS, should cooperate on various fronts, and that the US desires peace. If Trump goes, we will certainly miss these schizophrenic comedy acts!

It was clear that the dominant factions of the Deep State and their Wall Street friends conveyed the message loud and clear: Pompeo, please move to the side, and we will take over now. And now Trump will listen to them and tell Pompeo to take a break and go play some golf. The dominant factions of the Deep State realize that the neocon games of setting fire to the Middle East, and especially unleashing full Iranian and Iranian-backed force throughout the region, not to mention its utter and unshakeable control over the Strait of Hormuz, will wreck the global economy within a matter of days.

The second chance given to the neo-cons to try to pull off a ‘re-mapping’ of the Middle East has failed. The American empire is slipping and fading away, slowly and gradually but surely. If you give the war hawks a third chance, that decline won’t be so gradual. The American Deep State, with any of the sensible generals and politicos within it, have to make a decision whether their imperial landing (ending) will be a soft one or a hard one.

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Junaid S. Ahmad is Professor of Islam and Decolonial Thought and Director the Center for Global Studies, UMT, Lahore, Pakistan, and is the Secretary-General of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

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The Price of Publishing Independent Thought: We Need Your Support!

January 13th, 2020 by The Global Research Team

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A new study reveals yet another major unintended effect from the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool – with potentially serious implications for the food safety of gene-edited plants. The study found that CRISPR-Cas9 edits intended to knockout the function of a gene fail to do so. Instead, proteins are still produced from the damaged genes, many of which are still functional. The result could be the production of gene-edited plants that are toxic or allergenic.

This suggests existing CRISPR-edited plants with gene knockouts, such as the non-browning mushroom that has been de-regulated in the US, should be subjected to extensive safety checks, as they could contain new proteins or compounds that pose a food safety risk.

Background

Every living cell contains genes that code for proteins that perform all essential functions that constitute a living organism, such as building the structures of our bodies, digesting food, or sensing the environment. However, many genes, and the proteins they code for, have unknown functions. In humans, one in five genes has an unknown function. One approach that scientists use to try to find out the function of proteins is to mutate (disrupt) the structure of the gene encoding a given protein and then monitor the consequences of this “knockout”.

The invention of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool has allowed scientists to generate gene knockouts far more easily than was possible in the past. CRISPR-Cas9 makes a double-strand cut in the DNA to disable (knockout) a gene, which, scientists have hitherto believed, makes the proteins it codes for nonfunctional. Scientists can then watch what happens to cells or an entire organism as a result, inferring the lost function from what goes wrong.

Scientists were “terribly wrong”

As explained by an article in The Wire, the Cas9 enzyme searches the DNA, using a “guide RNA” to look for a specific sequence, and makes a cut where it finds a match. The gene, split in two, is repaired by the cell, but often results in varying lengths of DNA base units being deleted or added (indels). The Wire article explains, “Many scientists assume that if a chunk of a gene is missing then the protein that it encodes will not function, or even be produced” – but “In many cases, they would be terribly wrong.”

The article highlights the new study, by researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, which shows exactly why. Using HAP1 cells, a human cell line used for biomedical and genetic research, the researchers used CRISPR to make cuts in 136 different genes. In about a third of cases, proteins were still produced from these “damaged” genes – and many of the proteins remained partially functional.

What does this mean for plant gene editing?

London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou explained the relevance of the new study in a plant agricultural context:

“Hundreds or thousands of gene knockouts via CRISPR have been reported in plants, with even more planned in the future. The new study implies that a third of these claimed CRISPR-mediated gene knockouts were not complete knockouts, but only partial knockouts. In some cases there was no reduction at all in gene expression because an almost fully functional protein was still made.

“Worryingly, the most frequent outcomes were truncations of the original protein or proteins with a central deletion within their structure. These mutant proteins may not only partially retain the function of the full-length protein, as reported in the study, but could also gain a novel function, with unknown consequences.”

Dr Antoniou continued,

“In gene-edited crops and foods with CRISPR-mediated gene knockouts of this type, such mutant proteins could give rise to an altered biochemistry which could lead to the production of novel toxins or allergens. Or the truncated protein itself could have toxic or allergenic qualities.”

Will systematic characterization of protein expression solve the problems?

The authors of the new study conclude their paper by saying, “Our results imply that systematic characterization of residual protein expression or function in CRISPR–Cas9-generated KO [knockout] lines is necessary for phenotype interpretation.”

However, Dr Antoniou said, “In order for plant genetic engineers to do this, they would have to conduct an in-depth molecular profiling of their edited plant in order to get a more complete picture of the consequences of the CRISPR edit, including any risks to the environment or health of the consumer. If they did carry out such profiling, it is likely that unintended differences will be found in the edited plant, making it non-substantially equivalent to its non-GM parent. At this point, a comprehensive toxicity and allergenicity assessment should be required, including long-term animal feeding studies.”

But that’s something that industry has never done with any GM food or crop. The few long-term feeding studies that have been carried out on GM foods and crops have been the work of scientists working outside the industry.

Study builds on earlier findings

This new study builds on earlier observations by Tuladhar and colleagues, which showed that in 50% of mammalian cell lines investigated, CRISPR-mediated gene knockouts resulted in an altered genetic code at the intended editing site with the production of a novel mRNA and/or protein.

The new study reveals additional mechanisms through which undesirable outcomes can occur at the intended editing site, with unknown consequences.

Non-browning mushroom should be investigated for safety

The discovery that undesirable outcomes can occur at the intended editing site through multiple mechanisms suggests that existing CRISPR-edited plants with gene knockouts, such as the non-browning mushroom that has been de-regulated in the US, should be subjected to extensive safety checks. The mushroom was engineered by knocking out one of six genes that encode for the browning effect after the mushroom has been cut into.

The developer of the mushroom, Yinong Yang of Pennsylvania State University in the USA, emphasized that it did not need to be regulated since it was free from transgenes (genes inserted from another organism) and only contained “small deletions in a specific gene”. However, it is now evident that Yang and the US regulators should re-assess their claims of safety for this gene-edited mushroom in the light of the findings of the new study, as well as that of Tuladhar and colleagues. The simple “small deletion” in a single gene in the CRISPR-edited mushroom that is assumed to be innocuous may have led to the production of new proteins and altered biochemistry that pose a food safety risk. An Internet search has turned up no evidence that Yang has conducted thorough investigations that could show the mushroom to be safe to eat.

The new study also shows that Australia’s decision to de-regulate gene-edited organisms of the class known as SDN-1 – involving just this type of gene knockout and the subsequent re-joining of the cut ends of the DNA by the cell’s repair mechanism – is not scientifically defensible. This is because even supposedly simple deletions of a few DNA base units, performed with the aim of knocking out a gene, can result in the production of novel toxins or allergens.

Making the CRISPR tool more “precise” won’t solve the problems

Dr Antoniou explained that both the findings of this latest study, as well as the earlier observations by Tuladhar and colleagues, show that undesirable effects occur at the site targeted for gene editing after the editing event has taken place; that is, the mutant proteins are produced after the editing event. He said, “These effects are completely independent of the gene-editing tool and the editing procedure as whole. Therefore no matter how precisely the editing event is targeted through future technological developments, the problematic outcomes highlighted by these studies are inevitable. There is no way of avoiding these issues because they arise from the innate properties of the basic molecular biology of gene expression.

“Thus people using CRISPR for gene knockout must do so with extreme caution, not only in the medical sphere but also in an agricultural context.”

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Featured image: CRISPR (= Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) + DNA fragment, E.Coli, by Mulepati, S., Bailey, S., via Wiki Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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It’s vitally needed in the US nationwide, in other Western countries and elsewhere.

It’s needed in large numbers, staying the course longterm, reviving the Vietnam era anti-war spirit in America.

January 9 was “No War With Iran Day of Action,” protests held in 180 US cities nationwide — sponsored by numerous organizations, including Veterans Against the War, NIAC Action, Win Without War, CODEPINK, Peace Action, Public Citizen, Veterans for Peace, and many other anti-war groups.

A Veterans for Peace statement said it “strongly condemns any and all US aggression (on) Iran and calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq,” adding:

“War with Iran would be yet another bloody disaster in the region and initiate another endless war.”

The organization endorsed anti-war days of action on January 9 and others to follow.

What’s needed is far more than action in the streets against war on Iran. Nationwide activism to end all US wars of aggression is vital, including ones waged by other means.

In the 1960s and 70s, activists and anti-war groups united against US war in Southeast Asia.

Students, workers, middle class households, academics, and others were involved in large numbers nationwide.

In 1965, anti-war activism gained momentum when the Pentagon began terror-bombing North Vietnam.

Protest marches rallied at the Oakland Army Terminal, the departure point for many troops to Southeast Asia.

Faculty members on US college campuses held teach-ins to educate students about the immorality, unlawfulness, and political foundation of warmaking.

In April 1965, a Washington rally by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) drew around 25,000.

Numerous anti-war events followed nationwide, thousands participating.

At a time before US military service was volunteer, resistance leaders urged young men to burn their draft cards in protest against war.

Underground networks helped draft resisters leave the country. Churches offered sanctuary. Anti-war activism among civil rights leaders provided more impetus, notably by Martin Luther King.

On April 4, 1967, a year to the day before his state-sponsored assassination, he delivered his memorable New York Riverside Church anti-war speech called “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”

Unmentioned by establishment media during annual Martin Luther King Day commemorations, he called the US “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” adding:

“It’s “on the wrong side of a world revolution. We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence, or violent co-annihilation.”

“We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

Silence is “betrayal,” he stressed, calling war in Vietnam “an enemy of the poor.”

“(I)t should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life (in) America today can ignore the present war.”

“If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam.”

“This madness must cease…We must stop now…We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam.”

He called for a “revolution of values…declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism — ending by quoting James Russell Lowell (1819 – 1891), saying:

“Once to every man and nation

Comes the moment to decide,

In the strife of truth and falsehood, For the good or evil side…”

That time is now, King stressed, his anti-war dream unfulfilled over half a century later, things today dismal than back then.

Calling US warmakers “criminals,” he stressed that ruling authorities in Washington and congressional supporters “committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world.”

Condemning the US as the world’s most villainous nation, he said “(o)ur only hope (depends on) declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”

Sustained anti-war activism nationwide got Nixon to suspend US offensive action against North Vietnam on January 15, 1973 — signed by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in Paris, France on January 27, 1973.

In June, the congressional Church-Case amendment ended war funding, effective August 15.

On April 30, 1975, Washington ended its Southeast Asia involvement with a humiliating Saigon embassy rooftop pullout.

It took years of sustained anti-war activism to achieve it, what’s needed today to end all US wars of aggression, withdraw US forces from regions where they rage, and slash military spending, turning swords into plowshares.

What happened before can happen again. It takes judgment, spirit, guts, and commitment — staying the course for peace in all active US war theaters, including ones waged by other means.

We have a choice. We can end wars of aggression against one nation after another or risk eventual nuclear war ending us.

If not now, when? If not us, who? If not soon, maybe it’ll be too late to save us.

If that’s not incentive enough, what is?

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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War, What Is It Good for?

January 13th, 2020 by Philip A Farruggio

Edwin Starr in 1970, had this hit song War.

This was of course during the apex of the phony war on Vietnam.

One line of the lyrics that resounded so well for this writer was:

.

.

War
Friend only to the undertaker
War
War
War-Good God, now
Now
Give it to me one time now
Now now
What is it good for?
 

The 2003 illegal and, may I include, immoral US invasion and occupation of Iraq opened up a Pandora’s box of terrible repercussions that to this day, nearly 17 years later, still resonate. Yet, for this empire, what it succeeded in doing was to gift various US corporations $50 Billion of reconstruction contracts. You see, what the grifter community calls the Long Con is to attack a country on false claims, destroy much of its infrastructure, occupy the damaged mess you created and make gazillions from taxpayer money. As the helicopter tail gunner in the film Full Metal Jacket exclaimed as he stood there, arbitrarily murdering civilians: Ain’t war great!  

After the phony invasion in March of 2003 the bu…hit named Coalition Provisional Authority took money from the Iraqis and dished it out to a number of international corporations. They justified this robbery as compensation for ‘lost profits’ and ‘decline in business’ due to the ‘aggressive actions’ of Saddam Hussein since 1990.

My Yiddish speaking friends call that Chutzpah!

Believe it or not, US based  companies like Sheraton received $11 million , Bechtel $ 7 million, Mobil $2.3 million, KFC some $ 321,000…. even Toys R Us got $190,000. OH, and Israeli farmers received $8 million…. and listen to this: They were not able to harvest fully due to the threat from Saddam’s regime. Plus, Israeli hoteliers and travel agencies received $15 million. I kid you not!

Now, while this was all going on, 500,000 Iraqi citizens lost their jobs, and soon after that over 50% of the workforce became unemployed. And people now ask why they want us the hell OUT of their country? When they ended the (so called) ‘War in Iraq’ in 2011, seven million Iraqis lived below the poverty line. Large amounts of Iraqi money were paid out to those infamous and humanitarian US corporations for local projects. Most were never completed, and corruption was rampant… by all parties concerned, Iraqi and American.

Sarah Anderson wrote a great piece on Global Research about how even the threat of war makes money for the top military contractors. Look below to see how the top 5 military contractors made a bundle right after the killing of General Suleimani:

*Resigned 12/22/19. **Resigned 1/1/19 while staying

What is needed in our fine nation is for we, the good and decent folks, to start demanding action. We must demand that the majority of our almost 1000 foreign bases be closed and personnel returned home. We need to make drastic cuts in this obscene military spending, whereupon 50% of our federal tax money goes down that rabbit hole. Take the savings, of treasure and US military lives, and fix our broken safety net… period! Oh, and how about we use eminent domain and nationalize all military contracting companies… at NON PROFIT! Maybe then Edwin Starr’s song would be a great reminder of what used to be…

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Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for The Greanville Post. He is also frequently posted on Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust and Off Guardian sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 300 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the ‘ It’s the Empire… Stupid ‘ radio show, co produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at [email protected].

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Ten days have passed since US President Donald J. Trump ordered the assassination of Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRCG) Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Soleimani had just arrived at Baghdad International airport from Damascus at the invitation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi for a declared diplomatic peace mission to lessen tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. 

The White House was provided with important details from Israeli intelligence and carried out the airstrike without congressional support or knowledge and without providing a shred of evidence that Soleimani was planning attacks on American’s and US embassies.

The lie that was told to the American public (and by extension the world) by the Trump administration is that Soleimani was an imminent threat and was planning terror missions targeting American’s, US soldiers, and US embassies, and in order to thwart his plans the US had to act quickly and assassinate Iran’s top military official.  During President Trump’s speech to the nation on Wednesday he accused Soleimani of directing recent attacks against US personnel in Iraq which injured four and killed one American.

In an interview with Fox News that aired on Thursday, Pompeo said

“There is no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks that were being plotted by Qassem Soleimani,”

He went on to say,

“we don’t know precisely when, and we don’t know precisely where, but it was real.”

Maybe it’s just me, but without having any specifics whatsoever Pompeo’s statements do not make Soleimani sound like a “real” threat, if anything this solidifies the notion that the White House used a lie that lacks any evidential backing to bring us inches away from war with a nuclear regional power.

Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi called the assassination of Soleimani and al-Muhandis an act of aggression against Iraq and the Iraqi people, and a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty, and stated it was a dangerous escalation. Since then US troops have been asked to leave Iraq but the request has fallen on deaf ears. Iraq does not want to become a battlefield for war between the United States and Iran.

Lt. General Soleimani was an instrumental figure in the fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq and saved countless Christian and Muslim lives by thwarting missions that put their civilian lives in danger. However, as is the case in many of Washington’s manufactured pretexts used to justify unwarranted wars and invasions, heroes are vilified and terrorists (along with their sponsors) are revered.

It’s particularly interesting to see ISIS, Israel, and the United States on the same side when it comes to Soleimani’s death. A weekly ISIS newspaper called al-Naba praised the assassination and called it “divine intervention” “an act of God” and stated that Soleimani’s death will assist their efforts to regroup in Iraq. It’s blatantly obvious that ISIS saw him as a deterrent while Washington painted him to be the “number one terrorist”. This further illustrates how Washington’s alleged “war on terror” is nothing more than an excuse to invade countries and control their natural resources all while bolding Israel.

The United States has essentially been at war with Iran since the US-backed Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in 1979 and has engaged in acts of war against Iran through economic sanctions and other means throughout the years.

In 2018, President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reinstated crippling sanctions under its maximum pressure campaign. After waiting a year for the United States to come back to the nuclear deal or negotiate new terms, or at the bare minimum for the European nations that are signatories on the deal to offer sanctions relief to no avail, Iran started scaling back its commitments under the nuclear deal every sixty days.

Clearly the current administration does not intend to come back to the JCPOA, nor do they intend on lifting harsh sanctions, nor do they want to negotiate changes to the existing deal or propose a new nuclear deal till the JCPOA expires.

In response to Soleimani’s assassination, Iran fired 15 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases which housed not only Iraqi but US soldiers as well, one military base was specifically targeted because that’s where the attack against Soleimani was initiated. US officials and Pentagon officials believe that Iran deliberately avoided incurring any loss of life. Iran’s intention was not to kill American’s but instead to show its target accuracy, and Washington’s inability to protect their bases and that US defense and interception systems are not as effective as they boast, also that Iran is willing to take measured and calculated retaliation when it deems necessary.

De-escalation soon followed with neither side interested in further military action, President Trump opted for more harsh sanctions and called for NATO to step up their involvement in the region.

Iran has claimed responsibility for the tragic unintentional downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane which took the lives of 176 civilians aboard. A series of unfortunate events led to this grave human error which was due to heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.

Since this admission, protestors have taken to the streets to demand that President Hassan Rouhani step down, without delay President Trump and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu publicly stated their support for the protestors.

Washington and Tel Aviv’s ultimate goal remains regime change, whether it’s done internally or externally, ousting the current Iranian administration and installing a puppet leader is of top priority. Iran wants to limit US presence in the region and stands in the way of US expansion, hegemony, and control of resources. Iran’s opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine is another reason why the US has incessantly vilified Iran on the global stage and labelled them as their number one enemy.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist/analyst.

Featured image is from Iranwire.com

Pompeo’s Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Provocation to War

January 13th, 2020 by Gareth Porter

Like the crucial steps toward public acceptance preceding the U.S. invasions of Vietnam and Iraq, the assassination of Qassem Soleimani was aimed at building popular support for war on Iran. Not only the justification, but the assassination itself were part of a broader strategy to grease the skids into war.

The Soleimani ploy has apparently failed, however, thanks to the carefully prepared Iranian response, which did not provoke Donald Trump to raise the stakes further. At least not yet.

The fingerprints of Pompeo are all over this provocation to war. In a striking parallel to the deception that accompanied the Gulf of Tonkin crisis in 1964—in which the American public was told about an attack on a U.S. ship that never happened, precipitating the Vietnam War—Pompeo and his allies carried out a complex deception in regard to the Soleimani hit. They claimed they had to kill the second most popular leader of Iran with no advance notice to Congress because the Iranian general was planning a massive attack that put the country in “imminent” danger. Trump officials have so far not provided any evidence publicly to back up this version of events. In fact, when briefed by DoD officials Wednesday, Democrats complained about the lack of hard evidence presented, leaving them unconvinced there was an imminent threat. Republican Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY., said the briefing was “less than satisfying.”

The deception accompanying Soleimani’s killing was just the latest in a much longer string of efforts by Pompeo that began in September  2018.  That’s when Pompeo and then-National Security Advisor John Bolton established the basic propaganda line that was used to sell the Soleimani assassination. They claimed that a few mortar rounds in the vicinity of the U.S. embassy and a consulate in Basra were evidence of an effort by Tehran to kill or injure U.S. diplomats. Bolton then demanded the Pentagon come up with retaliatory options if any Americans were harmed by any action of an Iranian “proxy,” Pompeo issued a public threat to attack Iran over the incidents.

But in fact those rockets landed a kilometer away from the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone where all foreign embassies are located, and that the one that fell near the Basra airport’s outer perimeter was nowhere near the U.S. consulate. And they were fired the same night that anti-Iran rioters were setting fire to the Iranian consulate in Basra and shutting down the country’s only seaport, and at the same time Sadrist protesters were rallying against the Iraqi government at the entrance to the Green Zone in sympathy with the anti-Iran protests.

In May 2019, Bolton claimed new “escalatory indications and warnings” of a threat to U.S. personnel in the Middle East and vowed, “[A]ny attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”  He and Pompeo leaked to major news outlets that there was intelligence about Iran ordering militia allies in the region to “target” Americans. But other officials who had seen the intelligence told the Wall Street Journal that Tehran sent its allies a directive telling them to prepare for possible attack by the United States.

The Bolton-Pompeo effort to lure Trump into a war with Iran faltered when the president twice refused their advice to retaliate militarily over the shoot-down of a U.S. drone and the drone attack on a key Saudi oil facility.  Bolton got fired in September, but Pompeo continued what they had begun. On December 13, he condemned two attacks on a Iraqi military base located near the Baghdad Airport on Dec. 7 and Dec. 9, in which two Iraqi anti-terrorist troops were injured, and then added,

“We must also use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response.”

But the circumstances surrounding those rocket attacks made it unclear who might have fired the two to four mortars or rockets at the Iraqi Security Forces headquarters near Baghdad Airport, wounding two Iraqi counter-terrorism personnel. Opponents of the government had just launched new protests against repression of demonstrations by lethal forces by Iraqi security forces, including anti-riot police, and Moqtada al Sadr, who had been supporting the Iraqi government, but had just started to support the demonstrators. It is entirely possible that Sadrist militiamen or other opponents of the government had fired the rockets at the base in protest.

Two weeks later, on December 27, a rocket attack on the K1 Iraqi base near Kirkuk killed an American contractor, as “Operation Inherent Resolve” command confirmed.  The Trump administration immediately went into crisis mode, discussing both killing Soleimani and retaliatory strikes against Kataib Hezbollah. But the provenance of the event that triggered the fateful decisions that followed is shrouded in ambiguity. As The New York Times reported on Dec. 27, “It wasn’t clear who was responsible for the attack,” adding that the base had been threatened previously by both Iranian-backed militias and Islamic State forces.

The IS forces in the area of Kirkuk where the K1 base was located had become increasingly active in 2018 and 2019, with a rapidly growing pace of attacks, operating freely out of the rugged mountainous north and south of the city. In fact there had been more attacks by IS on government targets in Kirkuk in 2018 than anywhere else in Iraq, and it had the highest rate of growth as well.

To confirm the origins of the rockets might have taken some time, but Pompeo wasn’t interested in waiting. Instead of taking on the responsibility of investigating the incident thoroughly, the Pentagon and the command of Operation Inherent Resolve turned that responsibility over to the Iraqi Security Forces. If there was indeed an investigation that turned up information indicating that Kataib Hezbollah was responsible, it would certainly have been released publicly, but no further information on the incident has been forthcoming from either Iraqi or U.S. commands. The only specific information available has been a Reuters report from “security sources that Iraqi security forces had found a ‘launchpad’ for Katyusha rockets in ‘an abandoned vehicle near the base,’” which further deepened the mystery.

But it can be argued that Pompeo was eager for the United States to provoke a military confrontation with Iran, just as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was eager to begin airstrikes against North Vietnamese targets in August 1964. Even though he knew there were serious doubts on the part of the U.S. commander in the Gulf of Tonkin that an American ship had been attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats on Aug. 4, McNamara did not inform President Lyndon Johnson, and went ahead with the order for retaliatory strikes that night. Similarly, Pompeo apparently led Trump to believe that there was no doubt that pro-Iranian militia forces had killed an American in Kirkuk, despite the genuine uncertainty about the provenance of the attack.

In the initial meeting with Trump to discuss retaliation for the Dec. 27 attack, Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley presented the option of assassinating Gen. Soleimani along with strikes against Kataib Hezbollah, which they were blaming for the attack. According to The New York Times, the principals suggested the “improbable” assassination option only to make the retaliatory airstrikes more palatable. But considering Pompeo’s record of pushing for a military confrontation with Iran, and everything he has said publicly since, “taking Soleimani out” was probably Pompeo’s ultimate objective.

The U.S. retaliatory strikes against the militia’s weapons storage sites and other targets on Dec. 29 were nowhere near Kirkuk. One of the strikes was against al Qaim on the Syrian border 400 kilometers away from Kirkuk and two others were in Syria. It was obvious those retaliatory strikes would provoke a response by pro-Iranian militias in Baghdad that could be used to justify the assassination of Soleimani. And the response was not long in coming: thousands of angry pro-Iranian Shiite militants, many in militia uniforms, broke into the Embassy compound and set fire to three trailers near the outer wall a reception area before being ordered by militia leaders to disperse, because they had delivered the desired “message.

That was enough to persuade Trump to support the Soleimani assassination option. Pompeo had achieved his objective of U.S. military aggression, while publicly making the obviously specious argument that it was aimed at “deterring” Iran from further military actions. No one in the national security elite, which was universally convinced that Iran would have to retaliate against the assassination, took Pompeo’s argument seriously.

Iran is too clever, however, to allow Pompeo to so easily maneuver it into a confrontation that would serve the interests of American hawks and Israel. Iran has its own much more complex political-military strategy for managing the problem of the Trump administration’s policy of economic and military warfare. It now appears from the results of Iran’s military retaliation Tuesday night that it has foregone any mass casualty strike in revenge for the U.S. assassination of its second most prominent official. And Trump, as yet, will not retaliate in response. Now Pompeo will have to come up with a new deception to try to provoke U.S.-Iran war.

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Gareth Porter is an independent journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of numerous books, including Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014).

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Letter to the Young People of Hong Kong. Why?

January 13th, 2020 by Andre Vltchek

Now that your city has been in flames for more than six months, your families divided, and no end to the violence is in sight, I have decided to write this short essay, in the form of an open letter, to the young people of Hong Kong.

First of all, I want to ask: Why?

Why all this smoke and fire, wrath and violence? Were your lives, before the so-called “protests”, or “riots”, really so dismal?

You have been living in one of the richest cities on earth. Even according to Western evaluations, Hong Kong has one of the highest “freedom indexes”, higher than that of most of Western countries.

Water that comes from your taps is clean, the Internet is extremely fast, public transportation is cheap and one of the best in the world. You can enjoy an exciting cultural life, as well as great public spaces constructed along your impressive coasts.

Naturally, Hong Kong is not a perfect place, as there are no perfect places on this planet.

Your housing is some of the most expensive in the world. Job opportunities for college graduates are not really excellent. Some cities on Mainland China are now more exciting places to live, to create and to dream, than ‘good old’ Hong Kong. But still, it is a fascinating, solid city, with its own culture, mindset and complex history. And in many ways, it is a beautiful city; beautiful and unique.

So, why? What happened? Why suddenly such anger, and such frustration?

Should we talk? Please let’s.

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I have worked in around 160 countries and territories, on all continents. I have written about, and I have filmed many wars and conflicts. I have been covering revolutions and rebellions, but also terrible riots ignited by Western countries. You probably have heard about the so-called “Color Revolutions”, or the “Arab Spring”.

I have witnessed, first hand, the fate of countries that have been occupied and then thoroughly destroyed by the United States and NATO: Afghanistan and Syria, Iraq and Colombia, to name just a few. I have seen millions of ruined lives in nations where the West overthrew left-wing governments, and then injected fascism: places like Indonesia (1965), and Chile (1973). Now there is nothing left of Indonesia; it’s nature is thoroughly ruined and the great majority lives in misery. In Chile, people have stood up, and are proudly fighting and dying for socialism which was stolen from them by Western governments and corporations.

I have lived and worked all over the African continent, the most devastated part of the world, colonized and terrorized first by Europe, and later by the United States, for many centuries.

In Hong Kong, I see you waving flags of the United States. You want that country to “save you from China” (from your own nation, in essence). I have read a translation of your school curriculum. It smears China, and it glorifies the West. Were you told, ever, that in the name of that flag, consisting of the stars and stripes, tens of millions of people, worldwide, were murdered, democracies were raped, and freedom of expression horrendously oppressed? Or are you only reading what is brought to you by Reuters and other Western press agencies?

When waving the U.K. flags, nostalgically recalling your British masters and their rule over Hong Kong, do you even think about some of the most monstrous crimes committed in the history of humankind? On all continents of the world, the British Empire murdered, humiliated, violated and plundered; hundreds of millions of people. Human beings were reduced to slaves. Their lives, identities were reduced to nothing.

Were you told this? Do you realize it? When you wave these flags, when your leaders are taking bribes from the U.S. and the E.U. establishment, do you ever think what kind of money you are touching? Do you ever consider that this money is soaked in blood?

I saw several of you demanding “independence from China”. I even witnessed some of you calling China a “terrorist” state.

Have you ever, seriously, compared the Chinese political system to that, so-called, “democracy” of the West?

Let me give you a simple quiz: In the last decades, how many countries have been attacked by China, and how many by the West? Just do a simple calculation, please. It is so simple; so clear. How many countries have been bombed to the ground, and thoroughly ruined by China, and how many by the West?

And democracy? In China, the government listens to its people. In reality, democracy means nothing more than the direct translation from Greek – rule of the people. In PRC, the government is working to improve the lives of its citizens, while building a global infrastructure for all (BRC). Now, look at the West: most of the citizens in North America and Europe hate their system, but cannot get rid of it. Some of you regularly travel to the West: don’t you hear what the people are saying there?

In the last two decades, China has lifted up hundreds of millions out of poverty. In the West, the governments have buried billions of people in misery in all their colonies. Despite of the terrible plunder of the world, tens of millions are destitute at home, in both North America and Europe.

Despite of the not too high GDP per capita, China has almost no misery, while tens of millions of the U.S. citizens are living in poverty. There are many more prisoners (per capita) in the U.S. prisons, than in the Chinese ones.

Many U.S. prisons are now privatized: it is a big business. The more that are held behind bars, the bigger the profit!

Is this a system in which you’d want to live? Is it, really?

I know the West very well. And I know China. These days, in Hong Kong, some of you are waving Western flags, while insulting Beijing.

The West has the most powerful propaganda on earth. It has the ability to twist everything; to call black – white, and vice versa.

But frankly, it is Beijing, which has the ability and desire to help solve the problems of Hong Kong.

Do you really think that Washington, London or Berlin are genuinely interested in helping your city? I am convinced that they only want to break China, and to continue ruling over the world.

To conclude this letter, let me say what has to be said: After speaking to people that are now angrily waving black banners, as well as U.S. and U.K. flags, I realized that they know very little about the state of the world. And, they do not want to listen to different points of view. When confronted intellectually, they become violent.

That is not a democratic approach; not at all.

I suggest we talk. Publicly. Let us debate the very definitions of democracy. Let us discuss who has done more harm to the world: China or the West? I am ready, anytime.

If the leaders of Hong Kong riots, or “protests” are confident that they are correct, let us face each other, in front of microphones and cameras.

I love your city. I love Hong Kong. I love China. And I strongly believe that China and Hong Kong are one beautiful, inseparable entity.

I am ready to give my best, proving that point.

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This article was first published by China Daily Hong Kong.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Five of his latest books are “China Belt and Road Initiative”,China and Ecological Civilization”with John B. Cobb, Jr., “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and Latin America, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website, his Twitter and his Patreon. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Three years into the presidential administration of Donald Trump, one might ask if he has kept his commitment to ‘Make America Great Again’. These four words, comprising his 2016 campaign slogan, are based on the false premise that the United States was ever ‘great’, which can be defined as “of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average.” We will look at a few facts.

  • The early colonists exploited the Native Americans in savage ways. This resulted in one of the largest genocides in world history, and the oppression of the descendants of those who survived continues to this day.
  • The ‘founding fathers’ created a government wherein only rich, white, male landowners could vote.
  • The U.S. grew in prosperity by sending emissaries to Africa and kidnapping the indigenous men, women and children of countries there, bringing them across the ocean in conditions not fit for a dog, and forcing them to work long hours with little pay, buying and selling them like livestock, and savagely punishing them for the smallest infractions.
  • Once slavery was abolished, savage discrimination against people of African descent continued. Lynchings, for such ‘crimes’ as talking to a white woman, were common through the 1950s. Today, people of African descent are routinely killed by white police officers for such ‘crimes’ as walking while Black, driving while Black and shopping while Black. Additionally, whites often call the police to report people of African descent who are trying to enter their own homes, have a picnic in a public park, or who are committing other such heinous crimes.
  • The only nation to ever use nuclear weapons is the United States. As World War II drew to a close and Japan was on the verge of surrender, the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities that had no military or strategic importance. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people died horrific deaths. And today, U. S. politicians have the temerity to believe they can determine which countries can and cannot have nuclear weapons.
  • During WWII, U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were arrested and placed in concentration camps. Many lost their homes and businesses. Government officials often refused to issue birth certificates for children born to these citizens. They were kept in dismal conditions for years.
  • The U.S. has been at war for at least 223 of its 240-year history. Just since the end of WWII, it has invaded or otherwise destabilized at least 35 other nations, and caused the deaths of at least 20,000,000 people. Today, despite the Iraqi Parliament vote that the U.S. leave the country, U.S. spokespeople have said they have no intention of doing so.
  • The U.S. incarcerates more of its citizens per capita than any other nation, many of them in for-profit prisons. Six hundred, fifty-five of every 100,000 citizens in the U.S. is incarcerated.
  • In its attempt to stop immigration from Central and South America, the U.S. is now arresting individuals and families at the Mexican border, separating children from their parents and keeping them in cages. Reports of abuse are high, and extreme overcrowding is the norm.
  • Government officials have worked hard to keep Muslims from entering the country, and much of their military violence is committed against mainly-Muslim nations that have in no way harmed or threatened the U.S.
  • The U.S. has very recently assassinated a top military leader of another nation. One can only imagine the U.S. response if a U.S. military leader were to be assassinated by a foreign nation.
  • The U.S. uses economic sanctions to force ‘regime change’ in countries whose governments it doesn’t like. During sanctions against Iraq, an estimated 500,000 innocent children died because of them. The Secretary of State at that time, Madeleine Albright, when asked about this, said that those deaths were worth it, because they helped achieve U.S. geo-political goals.
  • The U.S. has sanctioned Cuba for nearly 70 years, with a brief, partial respite during part of the administration of Barack Obama, without succeeding in the goal of ‘regime change’. But unlike current sanctions against Iran, the U.S. hasn’t threatened other nations with sanctions if they continue to trade with Cuba.
  • The U.S. governs not according to the will of the people, but according to the dictates of lobby groups and financial donors. For example, while the majority of U.S. citizens, according to every reputable poll on the topic, supports reasonable gun control, Congress will not even consider any such legislation, not wanting to risk losing contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Also, despite the fact that the United Nations has issued more resolutions critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestine than it has against any other nation for any reason, the U.S. continues to give that prosperous, apartheid nation more money in foreign aid than it gives to any other nation, not wanting to offend wealthy pro-Israel lobby groups. And under Trump, U.S. aid to U.N. departments that assist the suffering Palestinians has been eliminated.
  • In a democracy, one assumes that a person who gains the most votes would win the office for which he or she is running. Not so in the U.S.; in 2000, Vice President Al Gore won 500,000 more votes than Texas Governor George Bush, but Bush became president. In 2016, the corrupt former First Lady, New York senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won nearly 3,000,000 more votes than Donald Trump, but it is Trump who ascended to the presidency.
  • In order to run for national office with any chance of victory, a candidate must have access to millions of dollars. Candidates often finance their own campaigns. This prevents countless honest, qualified people from seeking office, thus enabling those who only wish to further enrich themselves and their associates to be elected. There are few exceptions to this unwritten rule.
  • Government officials work hard to increase difficulties for impoverished minorities to vote, by limiting the number of polling places in poor communities, and demanding forms of identification that many of the U.S.’s poorer citizens don’t have.

Where is the greatness in any of this? How can anyone look at the dismal record of the U.S. and say with a straight face that this is a model democracy?

No, Donald Trump has not made America great; he has simply perpetuated its inherent ugliness.

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International relations is typified by its vagueness of definition and its shallowness of justification. Be it protecting citizens of a state in another, launching a pre-emptive strike to prevent what another state might do, or simply understanding the application of a treaty provision, justifications can prove uneven and at odds.

The pre-emptive jerk behind the killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force was one such occasion.  (It transpires that there was another effort, failed as it turned out, against the Quds commander Abdul Reza Shahla’i.)  The ingredients behind the drone strike were supposedly clear: the now vanquished leader of the Quds operational arm was planning attacks on US soldiers and interests.  In any case, he had killed many US personnel before.  The attack could therefore be seen as an adventurous, and advanced reading, of self-defence, billed by the legal fraternity as “anticipatory self-defence”. 

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter qualifies the use of force against another state by imposing two conditions.  There must be authorisation by the Security Council to use force to maintain or restore international peace and security.  The second arm of the provision legitimises the use of force where a state is exercising its recognised right to individual or collective self-defence. But the boundaries of the latter are often unclear; they include “preventive” military action and “pre-emptive” military action, with the former focused on targeting the enemy’s acquisition of a capacity to attack, the latter focusing on foiling an imminent enemy attack.

Both the United States and Iran duly resorted to Article 51 letters in light of Soleimani’s killing.  US Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, claimed that the strike took place as a response to an “escalating series of armed attacks in recent months” by Iran and its proxies on US personnel and interests in the Middle East “in order to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran from conducting or supporting further attacks against the United States or US interests”.  The addition purpose of the attack was to “degrade the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force-supported militias’ ability to conduct attacks.” 

Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi obliged with a counter letter to the UN on Wednesday justifying its January 8 actions in retaliation against a US airbase in Iraq for the killing of Soleimani.  The retaliatory strikes were deemed “measured and proportionate”, “precise and targeted”, and left “no collateral damage to civilians and civilian assets in the area.” 

For all the padding offered, the Soleimani killing could be considered a legacy of a tenuous, and precarious reading of self-defence offered by the United States since 2001.  US policy makers have done their obfuscating bit to compound the sheer vagueness of anticipatory self-defence since President George W. Bush occupied the White House.  The US National Security Strategy of 2002, followed by its 2006 variant, showed the sloppiness that comes with imperial overconfidence in the pursuit of enemies.  Pre-emption and prevention lose their distinct forms when the drafters search for legitimate uses of force against a shady enemy that prefers to play by different rules.

NSS 2002 acknowledges that centuries of international law “recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack.”  But the scope is given a good widening.  “The United States has long maintained the option of pre-emptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security.  The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack.”

Embracing such a broad reading of pre-emption was conditioned by “the capabilities and objectivities of today’s adversaries.  Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means.”  So it goes: the enemy obliges us to adjust, alter and repudiate conventions.  Flying civilian planes into the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001 constituted such an unconventional manner of attack. 

The 2006 National Security Strategy stated unequivocally that “the place of pre-emption in our national security strategy remains the same” though conceding that “no country should ever use pre-emption as a pretext for aggression.”  Using such force would take place after “weighing the consequences of our actions.   The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.”  Four years later, under the Obama administration, the position had not much improved, and the muddle remained.

The killing of a senior Iranian commander in circumstances that could hardly be seen as a matter of combat revived that hoary old chestnut of imminent threat.  When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was pressed about the nature of such imminence in a press conference, the old tangle of interpretations became manifest.  “Mr. Secretary,” came one question, “the administration said this strike was based on an imminent threat, but this morning you said we didn’t know precisely when and we didn’t know precisely where.  That’s not the definition of ‘imminent’.” 

Pompeo was not exactly helpful, resorting to the classic rhetorical device of circularity.  “We had specific information on an imminent threat, and those threats included attacks on US embassies.  Period.  Full stop.”  He conceded to not knowing, with exact precision, “which day it would’ve have been executed.  I don’t know exactly which minute.”  But the evidence was sound enough: Soleimani “was plotting a broad, large-scale attack against American interests.  And those attacks were imminent.”

Each time he was confronted with a question on clarification, Pompeo dissembled.  In not taking any action to stall the efforts of Soleimani, the Trump administration “would have been culpably negligent” in not recommending the president to “take his action”.

President Donald Trump, for his part, has given the impression of justified clarity.  “I can reveal,” he told Fox News, “that I believe it would have been four embassies.”  Before a campaign rally in Ohio on Thursday, he suggested that Soleimani had been “actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad.”  

None of this really matters in the final analysis.  Uses of force must be justified after the fact, and the tradition of big power statecraft shows that the more formidable a power, the more likely threats against it will be magnified.  The attack on Soleimani had as much to do with inflated claims of US security as it did with chronic insecurity.

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

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If the grand plan to ‘decarbonise the planet’ was based upon a human scale renewable energy supply and de-corporatised, decentralised, small scale environmentally friendly distribution patterns – I would have no argument with the initiators. On the contrary, I would applaud such a rare demonstration of holistic thinking.

But the reality is very, very different. In fact it could not be more opposite. The plan being put into effect actually constitutes not a slowing down – but a significant expansion of the existing highly centralised finite energy mining and distribution apparatus, backed by a rampant corporatocracy, devious propaganda and unashamed political spin.

Emerging evidence increasingly points to deliberate actions being engaged in to bring about the very conditions that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims to be trying to prevent. This United Nation’s organisation and its followers, appear to be intent upon expanding the volume of anthropogenic pollutants being released into the atmosphere, rather than reducing them. 

The IPCC “CO2 causes global warming” position, adopted by a plethora of industries and institutions determined to benefit from its decree, has already been exposed as a fraudulent misrepresentation of the truth. Making CO2 into ‘the devil in our midst’ is an overtly false trail which I have dealt with in an earlier article.[1]

Observe carefully and you will notice that the great majority of political pronouncements made by leading protagonists of ‘cabal politics’ are subsequently reversed in the actions that follow. Promises of peace are followed-up by acts of war; promises of prosperity for all are followed by a widening of the poverty gap. Claims of trying to stabilize the planet’s climate are followed by acts of wilful destabilisation – and so on.

This ‘reversal of truth’ formula is the trick used by power seeking despots who have adopted dark-side practices designed to suppress – and quite literally reverse – peoples natural propensity for humanitarian expressions of warmth and mutual respect. Instead, turning those qualities into cold and calculating acts of division.

Since our world is currently in the grip of this ‘cabal agenda’ whose goals are not mutable nor flexible, attempts are being made to make it appear that every serious geological/environmental upheaval manifesting on this planet – is happening due to (the phony) ‘global warming’. 

The continuous repetition of this mantra by mainstream media is essential for the unquestioned roll-out of the corporate and banker backed ‘Green New Deal/Zero Carbon’ plan (scam) – which is termed ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ by the industry that backs it. This is because it promises vast riches to the corporations contracted to build and implement the impossibly large scale infrastructural requirements deemed necessary to shift the world from an almost 100% fossil fuel dependence to a close to 100% dependence on renewable energy.   

The heavy dependence upon fossil fuel energies needed in order to make possible this (theoretical) shift, would, in practice, involve an unparalleled asset stripping march across the length and breadth of the planet. Such a situation makes a mockery of the hugely over-hyped UN term ‘sustainability’. 

The ‘zero carbon’ cabal, for example, must make it appear that the disastrous fires which have ravaged South East Australia and a significant part of California, are the result of ‘anthropogenic global warming’ and, of course, could not possibly have anything to do with any ‘conspiratorial’ ulterior motives. 

Which leads us to ask the following question: just who might benefit from the fact that whole communities have been wiped-out and large forests burned to ashes in these countries? 

A recent expose of the Australian position shows successive governments destroying the vital South East Australian river systems by deliberately siphoning-off huge volumes of river water and hoarding it in a large number of specially constructed reservoirs. Not for strategic use in irrigating the surrounding countryside in times of drought, but to sell-off to the highest bidder – including foreign interests – hugely enriching the vendors. 

A viciously inhuman policy which includes grossly negligent management of the Australian bush, in which millions of highly flammable gum trees have been allowed to over mature, presenting the perfect fuel for the rapid spreading of extremely dense fires. 

It is believed that the real government ambition behind this appalling act of ecocide is to pave the way for the establishment of a super-sized control grid, construction of 5G microwave powered  ‘smart cities’ and a new high speed railway link between capital cities. All recognised Agenda 2030/Green New Deal ambitions. 

I established in earlier articles that Green New Deal is a key part of the New World Order’s strategic march to power. It is founded on the fictitious ‘greenhouse effect’ science of the IPCC/United Nations; and on the insanely bizarre plan to achieve an end to the use of fossil fuels (‘zero carbon’) by mining and burning vast volumes of oil, coal and gas (fossil fuels) in order to achieve this end! 

Looking at steel alone, the embedded energy (fossil fuel) requirement involved in the construction of the tens of thousands steel hungry giant wind farms that would be needed to satisfy the Green New Deal ‘zero carbon’ scam – would lead to a terrible massacre of the ecology of the planet. 

Quite obviously, chasing this monstrous Zero Carbon ‘Industrial Revolution’ (oxymoron) ambition will be the harbinger of severe climactic reactions. Quantum physics has already revealed the intimate interrelatedness and interactions that occur between man’s global activities and Gaia’s subtle levels of equilibrium and balance. The sheer scale of the Green New Deal undertaking will involve unavoidable destabilisation of all aspects of planetary life, including that of the biosphere.

Under such a regime one can expect to see the build-up of a wide variety of intense environmental and geological upheavals, coupled to those already set in motion due to other nefarious anti-life programmes like the deadly HAARP ionospheric heaters, highly toxic global atmospheric aerosol geoengineering activities and the ubiquitous build-up of WiFi electronic smog. These are, of course, coupled with other military/space attack and defence programmes manifest by a long running US determination to exert its hegemonic ambitions at will. 

Weather, already largely under the manipulative control of the US military, will become even more a victim of political/corporate attempts to carve up the planet for their own deeply narcissistic ends.

However, all forms of geological and atmospheric disruption will be blamed on ‘global warming/climate change’ with a stupefied public clinging to the quite demonic notion that ‘zero carbon’ – achieved at the cost of planetary ecocide – will finally put everything right! 

This insider created ‘planetary climate emergency’ – now with the backing of almost the entire global corporate cabal elite and a posse of high flying multi billionaires to boot – is operating under the Green New Deal moniker. While Green New Deal’s professionally trained propaganda front-runners have been given the title ‘Extinction Rebellion’, so as to give the impression of being cool anti-government rebels. The UK Green Party has also willingly been brought into the fold, like so many errant sheep searching for a safe pen to keep them out of trouble. 

Under this infamous Green New Deal, governments and their cohorts are further capitalising on spurious and fraudulent planetary ‘carbon trading’ schemes. Schemes that fill the coffers of already bloated insider wheeler-dealers whose insatiable appetites lead them to rip-off the needy for the further aggrandisement of their uncontrolled narcissistic cravings. Carbon trading has nothing to do with climate stabilisation, it is just another ‘green dressing’ for pure neocolonial exploitation.

Where the insanity on display reaches its most cruel zenith, is in the astounding degree of top-down deception that is being perpetrated on humanity. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” has never been a more apt declaration. 

Perhaps the outstanding slight of hand performed by these trickster’s highly organised disinformation campaign – is the use of the word ‘Green’ to describe the materialistic rape of our blessed Earth. 

All those who grasp the true meaning of the word Green, used as a synonym for environmentally friendly ecological management systems that support localised human scale communities and benign land practices, must now speak-out and vigorously decry this fake-green wholescale evisceration of the essential life support system of the planet. Let us not allow ourselves the misplaced luxury of thinking that at some point all this craziness is just going to magically dissolve away. It is not. 

Those who recognise themselves as ‘Real Greens’ must now unite in overcoming the subversive fake-green interlopers, whose activities are carried-out with seemingly cool disdain – while boasting an unquestioning commitment to the six defining flags of green deception: ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Agenda 2030’, ‘Green New Deal’, ‘Climate Emergency’ and ‘Extinction Rebellion.’ 

May all those capable of thinking and acting responsibly, now come together to stand resolutely for actions that work with – not against – nature.  Let us also rise up as one in support of the ever threatened sanctity of humanity, remembering that everything of value starts with Reverence for Life. 

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Julian Rose is author of  ‘Overcoming the Robotic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through,   now available from independent book stores and Amazon. See www.julianrose.info for more information. Julian is an international activist, writer, broadcaster, organic farming pioneer and actor.  In 1987 and 1998, he led a campaign that saved unpasteurized milk from being banned in the UK; and, with Jadwiga Lopata, a ‘Say No to GMO’ campaign in Poland which led to a national ban of GM seeds and plants in that country in 2006. Julian is currently campaigning to ‘Stop 5G’ WiFi.

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http://www.julianrose.info/2019/10/zero-carbon-5g-denial-and-green-fascism/ 

British Universities Invest in Israeli Apartheid

January 13th, 2020 by Asa Winstanley

British universities have invested more than an estimated half a billion dollars in companies that arm Israel or support Israeli settlement infrastructure.

This revelation comes from new research by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Activists on Wednesday held an “Apartheid off Campus” day of action at universities across the UK.

The same day, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign released a publicly accessible database listing 117 out of the UK’s 150 universities, and their $580 million worth of investments in complicit firms.

Freedom of information requests by PSC show that one institution, London’s Imperial College, has more than $15 million invested in military and high technology firms that supply Israel.

About $3.8 million of this is invested in Lockheed Martin, which makes warplanes Israel has used to bomb Palestinians and Lebanon countless times.

Another $3.5 million is invested in Cisco Systems, which supplies information technology and surveillance infrastructure to Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The database highlights some ironies. University College London has a “Centre for Ethics and Law.”

This institution’s sponsor is BAE Systems, the world’s fourth-largest arms firm.

BAE Systems has extensively documented ties to the Israeli war industry, with its weapons repeatedly used on Palestinian civilians.

“It is shocking that UK universities fuel Israel’s human rights abuses by investing in such companies, despite the majority holding so-called ethical investment policies,” said Huda Ammori, campaigns officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

King’s College London has $3 million invested in complicit firms, including Microsoft.

Campaigners say Microsoft is a complicit firm due to its multi-million dollar investment in AnyVision, an Israeli facial recognition company with a camera network deployed “deep inside the West Bank” to surveil the Palestinian population.

In effect, AnyVision is conducting human experimentation on an occupied civilian population without their consent – an activity from which it then hopes to profit.

“As a Palestinian student, I am disgusted to find out that my institution has complicit links with Israeli apartheid,” Mohammed Ali, president of King’s College London Action Palestine, said.

Ali vowed that students across the country would continue to “demand our universities abide by their ethical policies, and remove all links with companies and institutions complicit in human rights abuses.”

The PSC database is the result of more than a year’s research.

Freedom of information requests were sent to all 150 UK universities, but many refused to hand over the figures, or gave partial disclosures.

The PSC figures are based partly on those disclosures, partly on Bloomberg International’s database of holdings of major investment funds and partly on estimates.

For those universities that refused to fully disclose their investments, PSC calculated an average “complicity percentage” based on known holdings of major investment funds, and those universities’ known levels of overall investment.

Of the 44 universities that disclosed investments in response to their freedom of information requests, and from the Bloomberg database, PSC established $166 million worth of investments.

Ammori told The Electronic Intifada that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign used the same methods as climate change campaigners use in calculating fossil fuel complicity.

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Featured image: Students in Leeds demand divestment. (PSC/Twitter)