UN Mute Over NATO’s Syrian Death Squads

May 2nd, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

Since March 2011, reports of arsonists and gunmen amongst Syria’s opposition have been included in reports regarding the unrest in Syria, albeit buried under sensational headlines of the Syrian government’s “brutality.” More recently, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has conceded that indeed the Syrian opposition “Free Syrian Army” is conducting widespread, systematic abuses including the kidnapping, torture, and murder of both security forces and civilians.

The HRW report titled, “Syria: Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses,” is broken into three parts; kidnapping, torture, and executions. And while the report attempts to focus mainly on atrocities carried out against security forces and government supporters, the mention of civilian victims is made as well. The report states:

“Abuses include kidnapping, detention, and torture of security force members, government supporters, and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called shabeeha. Human Rights Watch has also received reports of executions by armed opposition groups of security force members and civilians.”

 Now, almost daily, the Syrian opposition is carrying out vicious attacks not only on security forces, but a terrorist bombing campaign across Syria that has already killed and maimed scores of civilians. While the Syrian opposition claims it lacks the ability to carry out such attacks, the opposition is exposed as very well armed, their fighters sheltered in NATO member Turkey, its leadership sheltered in Washington and London, and their fighters wielding not only an endless supply of small arms, but rocket propelled grenades, mortars, missiles, and even tanks.

see video

http://www.youtube.com/embed/sMcXJjU3uLs

Video: Hardly unarmed civilians, or “lightly armed freedom fighters,” meet Syria’s tank-driving, rocket-firing, Kalashnikov-waving foreign-funded rebels, many of whom are not even Syrian
….
Additionally, listed terror organizations such as Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), recently armed, supported, and literally handed control of Libya by NATO, has publicly met with leaders of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and pledged arms, cash, and fighters. Just last week, a ship originating from Libya carrying weapons was interdicted by the Lebanese, en route to deliver its cargo to Syria’s rebels.

Now in the midst of an alleged “peace deal” being brokered by the UN’s Kofi Annan – a deal that is admittedly designed to buy time for rebels to regroup, rearm, and redeploy according to US corporate-financier policy think-tank the Brookings Institution, the rebels have openly rejected the plan and demonstratively continue on with a campaign of terroristic violence.


Image: Brookings Institution’s Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.

….

The Syrian government has claimed it has documented a long list of ceasefire violations by the rebels – a list that is confirmed daily in headlines from across the biased Western media, still attempting to depict the violence as one-sided. There are sea-raids carried out at night with the precision of Western special forces, terror bombings against civilian targets admittedly carried out by rebels,  and now a daily campaign of bombs so overt and atrocious, even the Western corporate media must now acknowledge a “shift” in tactics.

A recent Reuters article titled “Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs,” includes admissions from the rebels themselves that they are behind the spat of bombings ravaging Syria – bombs the Western press and opposition leaders had previously tried to blame on “false flag” attacks carried out by the Syrian government to undermine the rebels’ legitimacy.The Reuters article concedes that while the FSA officially is “upholding” the UN truce, its fighters have outright rejected it and are indeed openly in violation of the ceasefire.

The Reuters report also confirms Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s statement that his security forces were fighting armed militants – not protesters and civilians – in security operations across Syria before the UN ceasefire came into effect. The reports states:

“Since the army routed them from their strongholds in cities, some rebels said they realized that even in guerrilla street battles they could not beat Assad’s tanks or artillery. The Syrian Liberation Army’s spokesman Qdemati said his group’s fighters were now focusing most of their attention on “manufacturing facilities” for bombs. “You are going to start seeing an escalation as we improve our techniques of bomb-making and delivery.””

Not only does this confirm that the Syrian rebels have resorted to indiscriminate terrorist tactics, but reveals again that government claims that an explosion in the city of Hama that killed 70, devastating much of a city block, was in fact a mishap at a rebel bomb-making facility. BBC amazingly attempted to peddle the opposition’s explanation, claiming the Syrian government possibly fired a “SCUD missile” at the city.

 

Photo: From Hama, Syria, a city block lies in ruins after a rebel bomb factory mishap caused a massive explosion. At least 70 have been reported killed. In initial attempts to spin and cover up rebel involvement, BBC actually ran with an opposition explanation suggesting the Syrian government fired “SCUD missiles” at Hama. It is now revealed that the rebels are indeed operating bomb factories across Syria and indeed carrying out a terrorist bombing campaign. ….
Now however, all pretenses have been dropped and it is admitted that the Syrian rebels are manufacturing and deploying indiscriminate bomb devices nationwide. The Syrian rebels have been noted as terrorists, both foreign and domestic since nearly the beginning of the fighting last year by the alternative media. The Western press has attempted to obfuscate this fact for as long as possible, already irreparably undermining their own legitimacy in the process.

The UN, NATO, and complicit media outlets across the West, by contradicting a growing awareness of the reality of both the terroristic nature of the Syrian rebels, and the depth of deceit directed against the global public in regards to the conflict in Syria since the beginning, undermines entirely the legitimacy they and the “international law” they claim to uphold, have. In regards to Libya, US think-tank the Brookings Institution openly stated that it was about asserting the “primacy of international law” over the nation-state.

When such gross injustices, deceit, and hypocrisy exist under “international law” in both Libya and now Syria, it is clear that such “international law” is but a system of control exercised by a minority against others on a global scale. “International law” is revealed as merely the neo-imperial edicts of the global corporate-financier oligarchs, dressed up as “humanitarian concerns” even as they prop up terrorists from Libya to Syria, and beyond. Even as the UN begins to admit that indeed the Syrian rebels are in violation of the ceasefire, they only do so as the violence runs demonstratively rampant and out of control.


Photo: It must be remembered, that not only are Syria’s rebels committing horrific atrocities amidst an admittedly terroristic campaign against the Syrian people, they do so with arms, funding, equipment, training, and political support from the “Friends of Syria” cadre including the US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. 
….Surely the UN doesn’t expect the world to believe rebels are picking their bomb-making materials and Kalashnikovs from Syria’s cypress trees – and knows full well such weapons, training, and cash are flowing over the borders, admittedly from the US-led “Friends of Syria” cadre to support what is now clearly a terrorist campaign in direct violation of the UN’s own “peace deal.”

Unfortunately, the UN will not demand that the West withdraw its support of the Syrian rebels, and instead use the violence to continue with their original plan – the establishment of “humanitarian corridors” and “safe zones” by armed NATO troops. From these established zones, the rebels can continue their campaign of violence against the Syrian people in pursuit of dividing and destroying Syria as a sovereign nation-state, in line not with “international law,” but in the interests of Western imperial ambitions. 

In an open letter to Trumka in late March, independent consumer advocate Ralph Nader said he was aware of “your group’s public stands in favor of” progressive legislation, “but as you well know, there is a very marked difference between being on-the-record, as the AFL-CIO is, and being on-the-daily ramparts pushing these issues, as your organization is not.”

 

Nader was right in terms of the AFL-CIO endorsement of the president, which simply didn’t accord with its own known disposition, but efforts are being made by some unions to mount the “ramparts” of public witness in recent times and they are not just intended to collect more votes for Obama in November.

This is an important point. There are two aspects to the question of the large labor-liberal coalition that lately has bedecked itself in the slogans of the Occupy movement. According to the Global Justice Ecology Project April 24: “Over the past several weeks, a broad coalition of progressive organizations — including National People’s Action, Color Of Change, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), MoveOn.org, the New Bottom Line, environmental groups like Greenpeace and 350.org, and major unions such as SEIU and the United Auto Workers — has undertaken a far-reaching effort to train tens of thousands of people in nonviolent direct action. They have called the campaign the 99% Spring.”

This effort is not an Occupy project, and a number of Occupy supporters (such as the key magazine Adbusters) and some activist groups are suggesting that the coalition is merely an effort to co-opt the anti-1% forces to support Obama, but that’s only partly correct.

It’s true that Obama is using the 99% slogan to draw a sharper distinction between himself and shape-shifting Romney, who is expected to occasionally gravitate to the center right during the remaining campaign while not completely disavowing his opportunist waving of the Don’t-Tread-On-Me Tea Party banner during the primaries. It’s also true that some groups in 99% Spring are in it strictly to support the Democrats and are in fact front groups.

But some unions, which certainly want a Democratic win, also seek to promote labor’s agenda independently among the masses of people, not least by associating itself with movements demanding a better deal for the 99%.

Union leaders know this isn’t the latter 1930s or the first three decades after World War 2, when the Democrats often went to bat for the working class/lower middle class. This is 2012, after several decades when productivity jumped 70%, wages stagnated at 10% increase and the rich more than doubled their income. Today the Democrats are no longer center/center left. Wall Street has both parties in its pocket.

Actually, many of the Occupy slogans are quite similar to what labor has been fighting about for years, such as denouncing Wall St., the corporations, CEO pay, the end of the “American Dream,” and particularly the rampant growth of economic inequality and the rich-poor gap.

The AFL-CIO organized several marches to Wall St. in New York in the years leading up to last October’s Occupy march and occupation of Zuccotti Park near the financial center. Labor hardly received any publicity because the commercial mass media is anti-union. The media, however, thrives on new social disruptions that include matters of permanent encampment, forced removal, several incidents of serious police brutality, and the fact that millions of people are adopting relatively radical slogans throughout the country.

Some big labor organizations, such as the giant Service Employees International Union, the Transport Workers Union and others supported Occupy Wall Street protesters from the beginning and joined in their big demonstrations because of a similarity of grievances. Finally, as a perhaps belated response to the economic crisis, a lot of labor’s old slogans have now percolated into social movement discourse.

The unions didn’t invent the 99% watchword but it was an easy fit for a major people’s movement representing millions of workers that’s being aced out of the political system by the power elite. The AFL-CIO  now refers to the labor movement as “America’s original working class social network.”

Not all unions by a long shot are yet involved with social movements, and all too frequently social movements seem indifferent to union problems or view organized labor as just one more  “interest group.” Some unions, indeed, have become antagonistic to certain causes such as the environmental movement. The Laborers International Union, for example, was highly critical of the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline because it “takes away jobs.” The actual number of jobs involved is not that large, but it’s important to a union with high percentage of unemployed workers.

This is not a new problem and a possible step toward resolution is fairly obvious. Social change movements must make genuine efforts to demonstrate concrete solidarity with the trade unions. The job issue is real in terms of the environment and other labor issues. What’s needed is a united campaign by the social/political movements and the trade unions to oblige the power structure to take forceful steps to put people to work, including the creation of “green” jobs and infrastructure repair. Social change movements should also provide active support for labor’s campaign to eliminate barriers to organizing workers.

Frankly – though this is a long shot – at some point labor should consider taking a portion of the multi-millions its spends on financing Democratic candidates and lobbying Congress and use part of it to build a mass coalition of unions and various social change organizations willing to fight the power. It’s obvious the unions aren’t getting an adequate return for their monumental investments in the system. It would take several million bucks and a few years, but a huge nationwide activist movement making radical economic and social demands on the government and political system could pay off  in a big way.

This is an unusual election year. As all peace and justice organizers know, presidential election years are virtually a washout for all activism except that of an electoral nature. The enormous anti-Iraq war movement was totally sidelined in 2004 as its Democratic base focused on supporting pro-war John Kerry. It happened in 2008 as well, and the peace movement nearly collapsed when Obama took power. Now there are numerous dissident actions taking place around the country in an election year. Occupy still gets considerable attention but other types of activism are in the streets and meeting halls as well.

Today’s activism is a far cry from the dramatic growth of the political left and the union movement during the Great Depression — particularly in the formidable strike activity that characterized the period — but at least it has started after a relatively quiet couple of years following the onset of the Great Recession.

The May Day action and other manifestations are signs that economic and other activism will continue to grow. Another reason is that the government acknowledges that 14.6% of workers remain unemployed, partially employed or “discouraged and not working (a probable underestimate) — and this situation is expected to last for several years.

The American labor movement is under the gun and beginning to move in a good direction, too slowly for some, to fast for others. The big union federation only broke with decades of top leadership “business unionism” in 1995 that kept the movement distant and suspicious of progressive social forces. This is changing, though many unions are still foot-dragging.

Real solidarity between the movements and the unions will enhance positive change. The more the unions involve themselves in social struggles for equality, people’s rights and labor rights, in the face of a political system in thrall to the 1%, there’s a good chance it can become stronger. And a bigger and more viable union movement can lead the way to substantial progressive social change. Time will tell.

Leaving Afghanistan by Staying

May 1st, 2012 by David Swanson

Is staying in Afghanistan OK with you as long as we call it leaving?

President Obama has signed an agreement with President Karzai to keep a major U.S. military presence in Afghanistan (currently about three times the size Obama began with) through the end of 2014, and to allow a significant unspecified presence beyond that date, with no end date stipulated.  Obama stresses that no permanent U.S. bases will be involved, but his agreement requires Afghanistan to let U.S. troops use “Afghan” bases.

Obama forgot to provide any reason not to withdraw from Afghanistan now, given majority U.S. desire to end the war.  Like Newt Gingrich promising to quit campaigning before actually doing so, Obama is promising to leave Afghanistan, but not yet — except that he isn’t promising to ever leave at all.  The agreement is open-ended.

Obama spoke on Tuesday of a transition to Afghan control, but we’ve heard that talk for a decade.  That’s not some new bright idea that requires two-and-a-half more years to develop.

Obama talked of fighting al Qaeda, but the U.S. has not been fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and has admitted for years that there is virtually no al Qaeda presence there.  That’s not the two-year project, and it’s not the reason to remain indefinitely after 2014.

The agreement requires that all “entities” involved in a peace process renounce violence, but the Taliban will no more do that while under foreign occupation than the United States will do so while occupying.  This is not a serious plan to leave.  Nor is it a plan based on Afghan sovereignty, numerous claims to the contrary notwithstanding.  This is a treaty for more years of war, on the model of the Bush-Maliki treaty for Iraq, but with the difference that theirs included an end date.

The agreement says it enters into force when “the Parties notify one another, through diplomatic channels, of the completion of their respective internal legal requirements.”  The U.S. Constitution requires ratification by the Senate of all treaties.  Congress could insist on its right to approve or reject this, just as the Afghan Parliament will be permitted to do.  Or Congress could require withdrawal now, as does bill HR 780, which has 70 cosponsors.

The written agreement doesn’t mention it, but Obama said on Tuesday that he would withdraw 23,000 troops by the end of the summer, after which reductions would continue “at a steady pace.”  Assuming 90,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan, a steady pace would get them all home by about a year from now, not two-and-a-half years from now.  But Obama says that it will be the end of 2014, not when the last troop leaves, but when a significant number of troops remain, as Afghans become “fully responsible for the security of their country” — except for whatever it is that the U.S. troops will do.

Obama is full of praise for U.S. troops, as if they’ve benefitted Afghanistan.  And he’s full of concern for the suffering of U.S. troops and U.S. citizens.  When he mentions Afghans, at best he equates their suffering under U.S. bombs, drones, night raids, and prison cells, to the suffering of Americans scared by their television sets and forced to over-eat to relieve their stress.  “Neither Americans nor the Afghan people asked for this war,” Obama said, forgetting that one of those two countries had invaded the other one and occupied it for over a decade.  “The reason America is safe is because of you,” Obama told U.S. troops, forgetting that the war has made our nation more hated around the world.

This agreement is inexcusable.  It’s also vague and preliminary.  A more detailed treaty will be worked out on May 20th when NATO meets in Chicago.  We need to be there en masse in protest. 

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.”

 

Get ready for the politics of division, based on income, class, gender, and race.

Get ready for more eerie scenes of crowds playing ‘repeat after me’ with their people’s microphone.

Get ready for more sit-ins, more anarchists, more Guy Fawkes masks.

Get ready for the unions too. And look out for the after party.

But most of all, get ready to live in tents.

Here comes Occupy Part Deux.

May 1st is the official relaunching of the formerly failed collectivist effort known as the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Occupy’s global ‘community organizers’ are calling for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking, and no shopping in places like New York, San Francisco, London, Toronto, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, along with hundreds of cities in North America, Europe, and Asia.

May 1st also marks the world-wide Marxist communist festival otherwise referred to as the “Day of the Worker.” Once relegated to the dying ranks of socialist workers’ groups, the collectivist revolution sees for itself a new opportunity, receiving a booster shot in the arm recently from two sources: Occupy Wall Street and the Obama White House.

Police and mayors around the U.S. will be ramping up security expecting a confrontation. This years demonstrations will have a slightly different, if not more vociferous tone. Now it will be a combination of Labor groups and immigration advocates who will be merging with the Occupy Wall Street protesters and other activists to stage marches and other events in cities across America, with the aim of “bringing daily business to a standstill.”

Alinskyites in the White House and those manning their ‘community organizer’ posts are drooling at the possibility of kicking off a class war in America starting today, one that will ride all the way to the November 2012 elections.

Occupy’s eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan ended with a whimper last year, but still, planned marches across the globe are scheduled to happen today. Once again, the movement is destined to fail and here’s why

Classic Social Propaganda: “1% vs. 99%”

It was inevitable that a movement which could not agree on a real ‘manifesto’ would, in the end, do the bidding of the very elite globalist powers that they are demonstrating against to begin with. One of the reasons Occupy 1.0 failed so miserably was because it lacked a clear focus, and ultimately died from its lack of actual results. All it offered the world in the end was the popular nomenclature, “99% vs. 1%.” Nothing else has endured. No progress, no solutions, no improvement, only disconnect – an increased ideological division based on a collectivist vision. Yet, not having learned their lesson the first time, they are back this time – supposedly calling attention to what they say are “abuses of power and wealth.”

Instead of achieving freedom from central bank debt enslavement, naive Occupiers appear to only be interested in a forced redistribution of wealth, with the Occupy Movement’s puppet masters skillfully pulling the mob towards endorsing higher public spending, which means more government/public debt to the private central banks – naturally coupled with higher taxation, or even a global taxation system a la The Robin Hood Tax to be administered… by a brand new global government body.

Many of this week’s demonstrators and students are completely unaware of whose drum beat they are actually marching to.

Directed from above by a confabulation of MoveOn.org, Ad Busters, and other foundation-funded tertiary arms, socialist/collectivist organizers have again rallied their ‘masses’ in the hopes of another worldwide shut-down on May 1st, with a general strike targeting parks, buildings, and highways and imploring students not to go to class, and employees not to go to work. At least that is what they are advertising. The reality is much different however…

The last three US administrations’ hell-bent drive to dismantle main street and the real US economy has acclimatized the country to a permanently sluggish economic outlook. And so thousands of Americans are now getting used to living in tents. Occupy simply supplies the romantic impetus for this new sub-level of the American Dream.

Another reason why Occupy will end in failure is because it is aligned with the Democratic Party. The irony of this is mostly lost on ‘occupiers’ though. Most are unaware that the Democratic and Wall Street love affair began in 1999, when then President Bill Clinton, who had just narrowly escaped impeachment for screwing his plump intern in the Oval Office on taxpayer time,  signed off on the repealing of the most key economic of safety valve. The Glass Steagall Act was repealed by Bill Clinton on the eve of exit as US President. From there on, it was smooth sailing for Wall Street’s most greedy, most corrupt, and most ruthless of economic wrecking crews, namely, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and droves of chronic gamblers whose last wish to Clinton was to ‘lift the rules’ so they could transfer the nation’s wealth offshore over the next decade.

What happened after was the final nail in America’s economic coffin – a slow and painful death of the American dream, as the country limped forward towards financial Armageddon – a death sentence for opportunity and upward mobility in the United States. That death sentence was finalized in October 2008, when both Barack Obama and John McCain left their respective campaign trails in order to lobby to Democrat and Republican colleagues in the Senate to please pass the first multi-trillion dollar Banker Bailout Bill, the most fatal economic and sovereign blow to the nation since the Federal Reserve Act was passed in the quiet of the night 1913.

If the Occupy Movement was truly genuine, truly grassroots, and actually had a brain it would focus all of its energy on the engine of poverty, and the tool of the elite’s plan for destruction – the Federal Reserve Bank which creates the constant inflation which makes everyone poor, no matter how hard they work.

But it’s not. So it doesn’t.

Obama’s Occupy 2.0

Another reason why Occupy has never found its brain is because it was hatched in the early stages of the current US Presidential election cycle in 2011, and its left-leaning character meant that it would inevitably become co-opted by the Democratic arm of America’s elite power structure.

How the current US leadership uses this new army of agitators should be a lesson to every occupier. It’s the same story every time. Government will order a harsh crackdown through its ranks down to the street level, Occupiers will be victimized, and then the President and his cadres will pose as their saviors – calling for peace and appearing to sympathize with the Occupiers.

Occupy is being eyed by the White House as Obama’s own army for re-election this year. It’s an ‘army of the entitled’ – socialist workers unions, student loaner, the newly and perpetually unemployed, illegal immigrants, and feminists. In an election year, it will slowly transition into a Saul Alinski orgy of social division, inciting Americans against each other based on race, gender, and income – but also based on success. 

Saul Alinsky’s tools for dividing society are as follows: left vs right, rich vs poor, black vs white, brown vs yellow, and most importantly… young vs old. “Young vs Old” is what the elites will use as a final battleground in their culture war.

Mob Rule

Division. This is how the Obama White House is conducting events and anyone who is actually paying attention can see this in media and through every comment which comes out of the President’s mouth.

The concept of “Mob Rule” is also important in America’s newly divided society. It now features heavily in both the racial, and the economic conversations heard throughout media.

In this volatile political climate, the mob will often feel empowered and their ‘leader’ will tell them anything they want to hear. Class envy will also feature heavily in this classic social engineering model – and notice how much it has been featured in the Occupy Movement. Here lies the dangers in the current manifestation of the Occupy Movement.

‘Our Dear Leader’

The current US President is a perfect example of a partisan icon. He received the majority of his campaign money from Wall Street oligarchs and is seen to be hob-nobbing with the rich, playing golf every other day, taking countless vacations, yet still portrays himself as part of the “99%”, or “a man of the people.” Still though, the “99%” have been trained to hopelessly envy this unattainable social status and celebrity lifestyle. This phenomenon solidifies the President’s cult of personality.

Using North Korea is an analogy, ranks of obedient socialist workers never criticize their ‘Dear Leader.’ The same can be said with the Occupy Movement and President Obama.

With all the complaints about the 1% living it up at the expense of the 99%, Occupiers have nothing to say about the current President who shamelessly petalled his memoirs and books from 2006, helping him to amass a $16 million fortune between 2006-2011. Nor will they question White House’s Royal Vacations, particularly the First Lady and her $800K taxpayer-funded holiday excursions with friends and security entourages to Majorca, Spain, and their daughters spring break trips with friends and entourage to Mexico.

Occupy is a major brigade in the army which the President and his Democratic Party hopes will catapult them back into their comfortable seats of power until 2016 – just enough time to create a million new federal government jobs, to loot the US Treasury with more stimulus pork, to win more multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts, and to move their riches off-shore. Not to mention more wars…

A wake up call out to all those middle class university students and junior college drop-outs who are working three jobs to get through life: no amount of government spending, higher taxes, or government entitlements will guarantee you a better life in America. Remember that a university education was never “a right” in America. Our forefathers were never entitled to a higher education because it was hard, it was selective and they had to earn it.  Your parents did not have Obamacare, they paid for their medical care.

Europe is no answer either. If you live in most any other country in the world – including socialist Europe – your opportunities for upward economic and especially social mobility are almost nonexistent.

Still, too many Occupiers maintain a naive, even romantic view of socialism and communism.

Perhaps the result of 20th century progress is that the country has produced a spoiled middle class generation whose own disinterest in politics, the economy, and spoon fed global warming propaganda over the last 20 years has brought us to this point in history.

Watch this frightening video; reveals the ugly face of the collectivist mentality:

The sad truth is that many supporters of Obama’s stalled “hope and change” mantra who have been hit by record unemployment now have plenty of time on their hands to hang in parks from May until November 2012. Another reason Occupy cannot make it past November is because it gets too cold to hang out in parks.

No Occupier will criticize the current leadership because they feel that they have a stake in the Obama game. That is the genius of the ruling elite, and thus how they are able to manipulate the masses – to make Occupy believe that Obama is their man. The same technique is used when Neoconservatives are ascending to power – the elite make Christian Conservatives and poor rural Americans believe that Bush is their man.

But if you thought that maybe the highly educated intellectual left in America would be smarter than that, so far, you’d be wrong.

Švedski voditelj: Srbi psihopate kao Brejvik

May 1st, 2012 by Global Research

Švedski glumac, voditelj i političar Gert Filking (Gert Fylking) u popularnoj radio emisji „Gertov svijet“ na stokholmskoj radio stanici ”Radio 1” izjednačio je srpski narod sa norveškim masovnim ubicom Andersom Beringom Brejvikom (Anders Behring Breivik) i insinuirao da su Srbi psihopate. Popularni švedski voditelj prokomentarisao je u utorak, glasom punim srdžbe, suđenje protiv norveškog teroriste idućim riječima:

”Svijet je pun ovakvih Brejvika” (sagovornica ga na trenutak prekida: „uhvatili smo u svakom slučaju ovog Brejvika“)

”Uhatili smo i mnoge druge, uhvatili smo one Srbe što su se ponašali kao proklete svinje, koji su pobili na stotine hiljada ljudi i protjerali više miliona ljudi, njih smo uhvatili. Misliš li da ih Srbi osuđuju? Ne! Srbi ih veličaju kao heroje. Ko su onda psihopate? Da li je onda veci dio srpskog naroda retardiran? Ili su retardirani samo oni koji su osuđeni za ratne zločine?”

Izjednačavanje srpskog naroda sa norveškim teroristom samo je jedan u nizu teških optužbi na račun srpskog naroda u švedskim medijima u posljednje vrijeme.

Prema tvrdnjama Kristera Bringeusa, ranijeg ambasadora Kraljevine Švedske u Srbiji, u ovoj skandinavskoj zemlji živi 250 000 ljudi srpskog porijekla.

Pripadnici srpske dijaspore se žale da Srbima u Švedskoj odavno nije dozvoljen bilo kakav prostor u švedskim medijima da se brane od najmonstruoznijih optužbi i ogorčeno dodaju da se ambasada Republike Srbije nije ni ovog puta nije oglasila.

As reported in the media, Gert Fylking, a well-known Swedish radio host, was suspended after his insinuation concerning Serbian similarities with the notorious mass killer Anders Breivik, calling them “damned pigs, psychopaths and retards.” After the suspension, Fylking’s apology was announced on the website of Radio1. It was also mentioned in the Entertainment and Culture section in two leading newspapers in Sweden, Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet

Protest and Apology

Following from this, the official representatives of the Serbian community in Sweden and the Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia, Dusan Crnogorčević, lodged a protest: “These are very serious allegations and on top of that many untruths. I feel singled out as an individual and as a representative of the Republic of Serbia. More than 100 000 Serbs live and work in Sweden, and they are affected, disgusted and angry about the fact that someone could categorize one entire nation in that manner,” said ambassador Crnogorčević to Dagens Nyheter on Monday. And when the dust around the scandal on Radio1 began to settle, the hate speech was reduced to a criminal justice problem for the relevant authorities.

Then celebrities and famous so-called “fighters against racism and intolerance” appeared on the scene, but instead of an appropriate condemnation, or at least distancing themselves from Fylking’s foul words of hatred, especially after even Fylking personally apologized and distanced himself from his own words, they relativized all those acts by referring to Fylking’s eccentric nature. In addition to repeating the offenses, they supplemented them with new, even more, serious allegations against the Serbian people.

“Serbs are worse than Breivik”

One of the persons who entered the scene was Lisa Bjurwald, who was until a few years ago member of the editorial board of Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet and later went on to Sweden’s best known “fighters against intolerance” organization, the newspaper Expo. She said that “the connection between the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik and Serbian war criminals in general is not difficult to uncover.”

In the article “Cowardly to suspend Fylking” published on the web portal medievärlden.se, Bjurwald engages in legal reasoning. Thus in her opinion, the intention of the radio presenter “was not to offend the Serbian people as a whole but rather to show that Breivik’s extremist ideas are not so extreme, but widely accepted in many places in Europe,” says the well-known writer, although the radio host didn’t mention Europe at all, but Serbia and Serbian people only.

Watch video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUoAcW8gE9Q

“The fact that Serbia lacks the political will to make its war criminals face justice is well known, as well as the fact that these war criminals are praised as heroes and that many (Serbs) believe that the genocide is a myth,” writes Bjurwald in her article, which seems to be more of a directive aimed at the Public Prosecutor to withdraw the investigation concerning criminal charges for racial hatred.

As we found out, representatives of the organization Justitia Pax Veritas, one of the applicants of the criminal complaint against Radio1 for racial hatred, asked for a space to reply. The editorial staff of this web portal refused the request on the grounds that the right to reply is reserved only for “people from media”.

Mocking the Serbian protests and comparisons with Nazi Germany

Famous radio and television presenter and journalist Robert Aschberg, editor in chief of the abovementioned newspaper Expo, and Fylking’s colleague from Radio1, in his column entitled “Ridiculous over reaction,” published in the newspaper Aftonbladet, insinuated and equated Serbia with Nazi Germany, and mocked the protest of the Ambassador Dusan Crnogorčević in Stockholm.

“It can be said that the Germans started the Second World War,” writes Aschberg, although in Fylking’s passionate hate speech there was not a single word on who is to blame for the outbreak of war in former Yugoslavia. “If it was told on air, should the German ambassador write a letter of protest on behalf of all Germans that may find themselves offended?” this influential publicist asked at the end of the column, obviously targeting the Ambassador Crnogorčević and the bitter reaction of the Serbs in Sweden as well.

Although Aschberg’s article sparked many heated reactions, primarily on the Serbian side, but also a huge approval from Bosniak commentators, Aftonbladet has not yet agreed to publish a reply to the serious allegations from the chief editor of Expo, which otherwise often presses criminal charges for racial hatred against extreme right-wing circles in Sweden.

Swedish politician: The radio must apologize to the host for the suspension!

And while many wonder how to deal with such awful propaganda, considering that all the journalists who ever have had a different opinion regarding the conflict in former Yugoslavia have, for a long period of time, been silenced and driven away, some more news arrived. A Green Party politician Jonas Paulsson, positioned in Stockholm says that Radio1 has to apologize to Gert Fylking for the suspension.

US resumes drone killings in Pakistan

May 1st, 2012 by Bill Van Auken

Washington ended a month-long pause in its campaign of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas Sunday, killing four “suspected militants” in North Waziristan and provoking a formal protest from the government in Islamabad.

The strike by the remotely piloted aircraft on Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, expressed Washington’s unconcealed contempt for the Pakistani government, which had publicly conditioned a resumption of its full collaboration in the so-called AfPak war on a halt to the drone attacks.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a formal statement saying that it “strongly condemns the US drone attack that occurred in North Waziristan today.” The statement continued: “Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations. The Government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone attacks are violative of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The matter will be taken up through diplomatic channels both in Islamabad and Washington.”

The drone strike comes on the heels of last week’s negotiations in Islamabad between the Pakistani government and a US team led by US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman.

Pakistani officials had indicated Sunday that a deal was in the works in which Pakistan would agree to reopen its borders to the transport of materiel for the US-led occupation troops in Afghanistan in return for the payment of some $1.1 billion in withheld coalition support funds, money which Washington and its allies had agreed to pay Islamabad for expenses incurred in counterinsurgency operations in the border region. No payments have been made since mid-2010.

The deal is of decisive importance for Washington, given that the route from Pakistani seaports to Afghanistan is far less costly than the alternative it has pursued through Central Asia to the north. Moreover, given the carrying through of a scheduled drawdown of large numbers of US and NATO troops, it will be next to impossible to ship out the huge quantities of vehicles, heavy weapons and other equipment that have been amassed in Afghanistan over more than a decade of war without access to the Pakistani supply routes.

One stumbling block in the negotiations was reportedly Islamabad’s demand that Washington issue an unconditional apology for the slaying last November of 24 Pakistani troops in strikes by US attack helicopters and fighter jets against a border post inside Pakistan.

The Pentagon’s story is that the incident was a result of “friendly fire,” a mistaken clash in which both sides bore blame. Pakistan’s military has categorically rejected this account. In any case, the US military is strongly opposed to issuing any apology, holding Pakistan responsible for harboring forces fighting the US occupation of Afghanistan, in particular the so-called Haqqani network, which was blamed for the coordinated attacks in the center of Kabul and other areas on April 15.

The Obama White House is not about to cross the Pentagon on such an issue in an election year. Moreover, an apology would cut across the right-wing re-election campaign being waged by the Democratic Party, which is extolling the US Seal assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan a year ago and suggesting that Obama is more militarily aggressive than his presumptive Republican rival Mitt Romney.

According to some reports, the US and Pakistan were prepared to work out some sort of face-saving statement that would fall considerably short of the apology, which had been set as part of the “terms of engagement” in a resolution approved by the Pakistani parliament last month.

The same resolution demanded an immediate halt to the drone strikes. Sunday’s attack was the first on a target inside Pakistan since March 30. While Grossman left Pakistan Friday night with no agreement, Pakistani officials reported that a team of 10 US officials from the State and Treasury departments, the Pentagon and other agencies had remained in Islamabad to iron out an deal.

The latest drone strike, however, has made it more difficult to reach a bargain with Washington. The brazen attacks on Pakistani soil and the resulting loss of civilian lives has provoked widespread anger in Pakistan, which the country’s ruling elite has had to take into account, even as the government has in the past collaborated with the drone campaign, going so far as to provide the CIA with a base inside Pakistan for the pilotless aircraft.

The Washington Post quoted an unnamed Pakistani government official as saying, “When a duly elected democratic Parliament says three times not to do this, and the US keeps doing it, it undermines democracy.” In reality, what it undermines is the credibility of the government and its attempt to mask its continued dependence upon US imperialism, which treats it as a neocolonial subject.

The Associated Press quoted unnamed American officials as stating that Washington has “no intention of stopping the covert drone program in Pakistan.”

The US intransigence on both the drone attacks and the apology for the November massacre of Pakistani troops appears likely to lead at least to a delay in any reopening of Pakistani supply routes to Afghanistan. It may also result in Pakistan boycotting a NATO summit meeting to be held later this month in Chicago, centering on future operations in Afghanistan.

The strike on Pakistan came on the same day that White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan issued an unusual public defense of the CIA’s drone missile attacks in various parts of the globe. While the drone campaigns have been widely reported in the media and are no secret in the countries where Hellfire missiles are claiming their victims, the official US position has been that it is a covert program, not to be officially acknowledged.

Appearing in Sunday television news interviews, followed by a Monday speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Brennan claimed that the extra-territorial and extra-judicial assassinations by drone attacks were both legal and effective.

“The constitution empowers the president to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack,” Brennan said in the Monday speech. “It is hard to imagine a tool that can better minimize the risk to civilians than remotely piloted aircraft.”

The claim that these drone strikes are aimed at protecting the US from “imminent threat of attack” is a lie. As US officials acknowledged, Sunday’s attack in Pakistan was directed at elements who were allegedly preparing not to attack the US, but rather to resist the US military occupation of Afghanistan.

In Yemen, they are aimed against armed opponents of the US-backed regime. The White House last month approved a CIA request for permission to stage so-called “signature strikes” in which targets may be selected on the basis of “suspicious activity” with no knowledge of who is being killed.

While extolling the “laser-like” precision of drone strikes, Brennan said that, “Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including among the civilian population.” While acknowledging that “innocent civilians have been killed in these strikes,” he claimed that such deaths are “exceedingly rare, but it has happened. When it does, it pains us and we regret it deeply, as we do any time innocents are killed in war.”

He added, “Sometimes you have to take a life to save lives.”

There have been some 3,000 Pakistanis killed in drone attacks, of whom only 170 have been identified as known “militants”.

What Obama Knows

May 1st, 2012 by Fidel Castro Ruz

The most demolishing article I have seen nowadays about Latin America was written by Renán Vega Cantor, full professor at the National Pedagogical University of Bogotá, which was published three days ago by the website ‘Rebelión’ under the title “Ecos de la Cumbre de las Américas” (Echoes of the Summit of the Americas).

It is a brief article and I should make no versions. Those who specialize on the subject can look it up at the aforementioned website.

I have referred more than once to the infamous agreement that the United States imposed on Latin American and Caribbean countries when the OAS was founded at the foreign ministers meeting held in the city of Bogotá on April, 1948. Just by sheer coincidence, I happened to be there on that date, helping to organize the celebration of a Latin American students’ congress whose main goal was to struggle against the European colonies and the bloody tyrannies imposed by the United States in this hemisphere.

One of the most brilliant political leaders in Colombia, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, who had managed to unite, with ever growing strength, the most progressive sectors in Colombia that opposed the Yankees’ miscreation, had offered his support to the celebration of the students’ congress. No one doubted he would win during the upcoming elections, but he was treacherously murdered. His death led to a rebellion that has kept alive for more than half a century.

Social struggles have been taking place throughout millennia, since human beings, by resorting to wars, were able to take hold of a surplus production to satisfy the essential needs of life.

As is known, the years of physical slavery, the most brutal form of exploitation, went on in some countries until a little more than a century ago, as it happened in our own homeland during the final stages of the Spanish colonial domination.

Even in the United States, the enslavement of African descendants continued until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. That brutal form of slavery was abolished there hardly thirty years before it was abolished in Cuba.

Martin Luther King dreamed about the equality of black Americans until almost 44 years ago, when he was vilely murdered on April, 1968.

The accelerated development of science and technology has been a sign of our times. Whether we are aware of it or not, this is what will mark the future of humanity. This is an entirely new era. What prevails in every corner of this globalized world is the real struggle of our species for its own survival.

As for now, all Latin American nations, particularly our own, will be affected by the process that is taking place in Venezuela, the home country of the Liberator of the Americas.

I barely need to reiterate what you already know: the close links that exist between our people and the people of Venezuela and Hugo Chávez, the promoter of the Bolivarian Revolution and the United Socialist Party he founded.

One of the first actions promoted by the Bolivarian Revolution was the medical cooperation program with Cuba. This is an area where our country has achieved a special prestige, which has been recognized nowadays by the international public opinion. Thousands of health centers equipped with state-of-the-art technology manufactured by the world’s specialized industry have been founded by the Bolivarian government to provide medical assistance to its people. Chávez, on his part, did not choose to go to expensive private clinics to care for his own health. He trusted it to the same medical services he was offering to his people.

Besides, our doctors have devoted part of their time to the training of Venezuelan doctors in classrooms that have been properly equipped by the Venezuelan government. The people of Venezuela, regardless of their personal incomes, began to receive the specialized services offered by our doctors. It is now among the ones with the best medical care in the world and their health standards have obviously begun to improve.

President Obama knows this only too well and has talked about it with some of his visitors. He candidly told one of them: “The problem is that the United States sends soldiers while Cuba, however, sends doctors”.

Chávez, a leader who has not had a minute of rest in the last twelve years and enjoyed an iron constitution, was, however, affected by an unexpected illness that was discovered and treated by the same specialized staff that usually assisted him. It was not easy to persuade him of the need to pay maximum attention to his own health. Since that moment, with an exemplary behavior, he has rigorously followed the treatment prescribed without neglecting his duties as Head of State and leader of his country.

I would dare to describe his attitude as heroic and disciplined. Not even for a single minute does he forget about his obligations; at times he does that to the point of exhaustion. I can attest to that because I have not ceased to be in touch and exchange with him. He has not stopped to devote his fertile intelligence to the study and analysis of the problems of his country. He finds the vile remarks and slanders of the spokespersons of the oligarchy and the empire to be amusing. I never heard him utter any insult or vile remarks when referring to his enemies. That is not his kind of language.

The enemy knows the features of his character and is multiplying its efforts with the purpose of slandering and attacking President Chávez. I, for one, do not hesitate in stating my modest opinion –which emanates from more than half a century of struggles- that the oligarchy will never again be able to govern that country. That is the reason why the US government’s decision to promote the overthrow of the Bolivarian government under such circumstances becomes a source of concern.

Besides, to insist on a slanderous campaign stating that among the top leadership of the Bolivarian government there is a desperate quarrel to assume command of the revolutionary government if the President is not able to overcome his illness, is tantamount to building a gross lie.

Quite on the contrary, I have been able to see the closest unity among the leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Under such circumstances, any mistake made by Obama could provoke rivers of blood in Venezuela. The Venezuelan blood is also Ecuadorian, Brazilian, Argentinean, Bolivian, Chilean, Uruguayan, Central American, Dominican and Cuban blood.

It is necessary to bear in mind this reality when analyzing the political situation in Venezuela.

Is it now understood why the workers’ anthem is a call to change the world by doing away with the bourgeois empire?

Hard on the heels of Khar-Grossman talks in which Pakistan turned down the US request to let Nato supplies pass through, the US ended its month-long hiatus in drone warfare and claimed that it had killed four suspected militants and wounded two others holed up in a girls’ school in North Waziristan on Sunday. The truth is that the attack left four young girls dead. The attack seems more like an attempt to pressurise Islamabad rather than fighting terrorism. And even so far as terrorism is concerned, drone strikes have been criticised by none other than anonymous high ranking members of the US Administration as a ‘recruiting windfall’ for the militants.

For Pakistan, they further compound the problem since they create a backlash leading to a spate of deadly bomb blasts. And we all know how many innocent persons the drones kill in comparison with a minute number of terrorists. One wonders if anyone would have the gall to take the perpetrators to the Hague for war crimes. This is senseless manslaughter. Right on the other side of the border, the US is going to great lengths to placate the same tribesmen to find a safe exit. Since it calls itself an ally of Pakistan, it must help it find the negotiated settlement that it is pursuing in Afghanistan. Drone wars figure nowhere in this scheme of things. It must be stopped.

Though infrequently acknowledged if even given consideration, the current historical period remains what it has been for a quarter century, the post-Cold War era.

Beginning in earnest in 1991 with the near simultaneous disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – instantaneous in the first case, comparatively slower in the second, only complete with the independence of Montenegro in 2008 – the  bipolar world ended with the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact and the nonaligned one with the fragmentation of Yugoslavia, a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The dissolution of the two nations, the only both multi-ethnic and multi-confessional countries in Europe, was accompanied by violent ethnic conflicts often reinforced by religious differences. In Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, the South Caucasus, the Russian North Caucasus and on the east bank of the Dniester River.

In many instances, in Serbian-majority areas of Croatia and Bosnia and in Transdniester, memories of World War II gave rise to legitimate fears of revanchism among populations that recalled the death camps and pogroms of Adolf Hitler’s allies in the early 1940s and witnessed the recrudescence of the ideologies, the irredentism and the political trappings that gave rise to them.

Transdniester refused to become part of post-Soviet Moldova as it foresaw both states being reabsorbed into Romania. Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Adjara, parts of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, didn’t desire to be included in the Republic of Georgia and majority-Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh adopted a similar approach to post-Soviet Azerbaijan. The above are collectively known in certain circles as the frozen conflicts in former Soviet space.

The centrifugal dynamic reached more dangerous proportions when armed secessionist movements went beyond federal republics – the Leninist constitutions of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia formally allowed for their independence under the proper conditions – and arose in autonomous and former autonomous republics: Chechnya and Dagestan in Russia and Kosovo and the Presevo Valley in Serbia. Northwestern Macedonia was the site of the same destabilization in 2001, the direct – and inevitable – result of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’ s air war against Yugoslavia two years earlier on behalf of Kosovo separatists.

The area collectively assailed by the above violence and national vivisection stretches from the Adriatic Sea to the Caspian Sea, north of the Broader (or Greater or New) Middle East which in turn begins in Mauritania and ends in Kazakhstan, from Africa’s Atlantic coast to China’s western border.

The ever more extensive breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia, correlated with – and more than correlated with – the development of NATO as an expansionist, aggressive and bellicose regional and global military force.

Twenty-one nations and five smaller breakaway states (including Kosovo) where earlier there had been only two created that many more opportunities for the West to expand southward and eastward from Cold War-era NATO territory. Every one of the 21 former Soviet and Yugoslav federal republics is now either a full member of NATO or engaged in a partnership program. Thirteen of them have troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan.

Two recent announcements demonstrate the constantly increasing penetration and domination of the area that begins in Slovenia and ends in Azerbaijan, a swathe of land that on its eastern extreme borders Russia to its north and Iran to its south.

Recently NATO’s Allied Command Operations website announced the resumption of what had been annual military exercises employed to integrate partners in the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

The dual exercise, Cooperative Longbow and Cooperative Lancer, respectively a command and a field exercise, will occur this year in Macedonia from May 21-29 with the participation of several NATO members – if the preceding versions are an indication, the U.S. Britain, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Turkey and others – and perhaps twice as many partnership adjuncts from the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative programs. The exercise, like its predecessors, is based on a “crisis response” scenario and a United Nations mandate. Like Libya last year, for instance.

In the last Cooperative Longbow/Cooperative Lancer exercises, in Georgia in 2009, NATO members the U.S., Britain, Canada, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Albania participated. Longbow/Lancer 2009 was held less than eight months after the five-day war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 and was also to have included NATO members Estonia and Latvia and twelve partnership nations.

This year’s version is slated to involve the largest number of Partnership for Peace states in any Longbow/Lancer exercises, thirteen: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine. NATO hasn’t yet disclosed which Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners will participate this year.

The first Longbow/Lancer exercises were held in Moldova in 2006 with seven NATO members, twelve Partnership for Peace nations (all of the above-mentioned except for Serbia, which joined the Partnership for Peace in that year) and Mediterranean Dialogue partner Israel. Mediterranean Dialogue member Morocco and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative members Qatar and the United Arab Emirates sent observers.

Cooperative Longbow/Lancer 2007 was conducted in Albania and the following year’s exercise in Armenia. All five nations – Moldova, Albania, Armenia, Georgia and Macedonia – are deeply involved, either on their own territory or in neighboring nations, in one or more of the conflicts discussed above. In 2009 Armenia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Serbia withdrew beforehand because of the Georgia-Russian war of a few months earlier and Estonia and Latvia did also because of an anti-government mutiny staged the day before the almost month-long exercise began.

What role the NATO and partnership troops may have played had the military uprising progressed further than it did can be easily imagined.

The U.S. Marine Corps’ Black Sea Rotational Force posted on its Facebook account (and to date nowhere else) that its six-month rotation for this year will “build enduring partnerships with 19 nations throughout Eastern Europe.” More accurately, as the Marine program formed two years ago identifies as its mission, in “the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions.”

Two years ago twelve nations were involved, by last year there were thirteen – Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine – and this year nineteen. The six new participating nations were not named.   

Black Sea Rotational Force 2012 began its half-year-long deployment in Georgia by joining Agile Spirit 2012 in March at the Vaziani Training Area where the last Cooperative Longbow/Lancer exercises took place. Serbia may host its first military exercises with the force as well.

The U.S. Marine Corps is not only building bilateral and multilateral ties with nineteen countries in the Balkans, the Black Sea region and the Caucasus and other parts of the former Soviet Union, it is also consolidating NATO’s expansion into those areas with the ultimate aim of full Alliance membership for those not already among the bloc’s 28 member states.

It can be argued that the Cold War didn’t end, that the U.S. and NATO continue to wage it with wars and preparations for wars.

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Producing from his pocket a sheet of paper which contained a biblical quote from the Prophet Zachariah, former Shin Bet chief said, “I will tell you things that might be harsh. I cannot trust Netanyahu and Barak at the wheel in confronting Iran. They are infected with messianic feelings over Iran,” thereby dealing a heavy blow to the Israeli regime.

A rift the size of a potential coup is taking shape between the Israeli government and the military-intelligence men over Iran, a fact which threatens the ruling Israeli political apparat on the one hand and exonerates Iran of all years-long groundless allegations on the other.

In fact, Iran has become a recent obsession with the present and past Israeli intelligence men insofar as the very mention of the name is enough to cause anger in the Israeli officials.

In point of fact, the fire started when Israel’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said he does not believe Iran will pursue nuclear weapons after years of efforts made by Tel Aviv and its allies to convince the world otherwise and swept through the Zionist barley. In an interview with the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, he described Iran’s leadership as “very rational” who would not make such a decision.

Also speaking at the Majdi Forum in Kfar Saba, a Tel Aviv suburb on Friday, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Yuval Diskin said Barak and Netanyahu are deluded into believing that they have “messianic” missions and added that they lie about the projected effectiveness of an Israeli strike on Iran.

“There’s a false image being presented to public and that’s what bothers me. They [Netanyahu and Barak] are giving the sense that if Israel doesn’t act, Iran will have nuclear weapons. This part of the sentence apparently has an element of truth. But in the second part of the sentence, they turn to the – sorry for the expression – the ‘stupid public’ or the layman public… and tell them if Israel acts, there won’t be [an Iranian] nuclear program. And that’s the incorrect part of the sentence,” Diskin said.

Iran is a taboo word is the dictionary of the Zionists and anyone who speaks a word or words implicating a defense of or support for the Islamic Republic is considered an enemy. That is why Diskin’s scathing comments were interpreted as stemming from ‘personal desperation’. Some described him as being the latest in a line of “moronic intelligence chiefs”. Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called his remarks “crude and inappropriate”, saying it is “clear that the timing and style of his comments stem from personal rather than substantive motives.” However, Israeli opposition leader Shaul Mofaz said Sunday he took Diskin’s criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak very seriously and rejected claims that the comments were made out of personal, political considerations.

On the other hand, some Israeli military and intelligence people joined in sympathy and supported Diskin in his criticism of Netanyahu. Former Mossad chief expressed support for Diskin, saying he was a serious man and spoke his own “internal truth.” Also, Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi defended Diskin on Sunday and said, “I know Diskin and he spoke what was on his heart out of genuine concern.” In the meantime, Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert joined a chorus of voices warning against rushing into war with Iran, saying, “There is enough time to try different avenues of pressure to change the balance of power with Iran without the need for a direct military confrontation with Iran.”

Generally, there are two different fronts concerning Diskin: the first group includes those who have served in the intelligence organizations and are cognizant of the true nature of Iran nuclear program and therefore silently or loudly criticize their government for its ‘bomb, bomb Iran’ rhetoric. And the second group includes those who follow the Zionist leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who lie about the Iranian nuclear program and serve as nuclear Pinocchios in the international arena and play an important role in misleading the international community on Iran.

A strong feeling of fear is eroding the Israeli regime from within and without. On the one hand, the regime has come under the close scrutiny of the intelligence people who are exposing the lies of the regime about Iran which is per se a very bad sign for Israel. On the other hand, the Zionist regime is fearful that the talks (slated for May 23 in Baghdad) between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers could ultimately end with a deal that would allow Tehran to continue enriching uranium. At all events, the regime is toddling on political razor’s edge and that it is already caught between a rock and a hard place.

So, in order to sabotage the 5+1 talks, the Israeli regime has sent National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror to Europe to hold talks with European officials. Amidror arrived in Brussels on Monday and held talks with Helga Schmid, the EU deputy secretary general for political affairs, who is responsible for preparatory talks with Iran ahead of the Baghdad meeting. Amidror was also expected to travel on Wednesday to Berlin where he was to meet top German officials, among them Hans-Dieter Lucas, Germany’s representative to the Iran talks. A top Israeli official has described Amidror’s Europe tour as “extremely sensitive,” saying his visits are aimed at obtaining more information about the contents of the previous round of talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul and knowing the P5+1’s strategy about the Baghdad meeting.

Apparently, what is happening is not in the least in the best interests of Israel.

By way of countering the anti-regime remarks by the top military and intelligence people in Israel, Netanyahu and Barak have in recent days embarked on toning up their war rhetoric against Iran. In fact, the Zionist duo are steadfast in sowing the seeds of extremism, fear and hatred in order to give a cloak of legitimacy to a possible strike against the Islamic Republic.

While this excellent analysis by Srdja Trifkovic focuses on the “internal” history of Croatia, it is important to note that four days after Nazi Germany declared war on the United States, Hitler’s staunch ally the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) declared war on both the United Kingdom and on the United States on December 14, 1941. What makes this especially significant is that less than three years later, on April 16, 1944, which was Easter Sunday for the Serbian Orthodox, the Anglo-American forces bombed Belgrade, the capital of their loyal and devoted ally Serbia, even though there was no strategic reason to do so. The consequences of the bombing campaign were devasting for the Serbs, who lost tens of thousands of innocent civilians on that Holy day. No such Anglo-American bombing campaign was ever initiated against Zagreb, the capital of the Independent State of Croatia.

Aleksandra Rebic

Some important Westerners may prefer to look forward, to forget, minimize, or even deny, the fruits of the Croatian Holocaust of 1941-45 and its revived legacy of 1995. The endeavor is flawed. Sins unatoned for will continue coming back to haunt us.

The range of moral and political issues raised by the Ustaša movement and the regime it established in Croatia on April 10, 1941, is comparable to the Third Reich. In both cases, a political group, organized into a regime, devoted extraordinary resources to mass murder based on the victims’ race, creed or ethnicity. In both cases most ordinary Germans and ordinary Croats – those not directly affiliated with the regime, or overtly supportive of its goals and methods – opted for passive acquiescence. In both cases only a small minority was directly involved in the killing. In both cases the perpetrators understood why it had to be done; the mass murder made sense to them.

There are intriguing differences. The Nazis subjected ordinary Germans to relentless anti-Semitic indoctrination for almost a decade prior to the final, exterminationist phase of 1942-45. The anti-Serb propaganda campaign conducted by the Ustaša regime preceded the beginning of its own exterminationist campaign by weeks rather than months. In both cases modern racial myths were blended with a mix of pre-existing myths, stereotypes and prejudices, thus preparing ordinary people to internalize the dehumanization and subsequent liquidation of the victims. In Croatia, however, the collective indoctrination preceding the mass murder could be so much shorter because the soil was more receptive to the seed.

The Ustaša movement had its roots in the political tradition based on Croatia’s state rights, which included the key claim that no inhabitants of Croatia were exempt from the jurisdiction of its political and legal institutions. For the upholders of this view, the Serbs of the Military Border were unwelcome aliens for as long as they insisted on retaining their distinct name, their autonomous legal status vis-à-vis Civil Croatia, and their Orthodox faith. An obsessive aristocratic resentment at Grenzer priviliges was passed on from one generation to another, and became democratized after the collapse of feudalism in 1848.

At the historical root of the Ustaša bloodbath lay a centuries-old striving of the Croatian elite to impose legal and religious homogeneity and to re-establish political obedience. A culturally homogeneous nation-state could not be created from the diversity of nationalities without ethnic cleansing, however. The notion of a racially distinct national community with an exclusive claim to its land was the necessary ingredient to make such a project not only possible but emotionally and culturally legitimate. That notion was eventually articulated in the aftermath of 1848, in the period of rapid modernization, with the Serb as the essential ‘other’ at its center. The old distaste for the Vlach of the Croatian Estates was re-defined in surprisingly modern terms by the “father of the nation,” Ante Starčević. He articulated eliminationist anti-Serbism and thus created the necessary political culture for the Ustaša project of exterminationist Serbophobia.

What also set the Ustašas apart from both Nazis and Fascists was the degree to which their anti-Serb hate defined their emotional as well as cultural self perception, their very Croatness. This set the movement apart from all other political forces in Croatia, and notably the HSS. The Ustašas postulated a demonic concept of the Serb which made any compromise impossible. Limited sovereignty and amputation of territory was preferable. Pavelić’s perception of Croatia’s interests was consistent with his basic assumptions, eventually turning him into Mussolini’s “Balkan pawn” in the latter’s own words.

The victor in the Yugoslav war of all against all, Tito tried to force all “Yugoslavs” to invest their memories of the war into the common bank of the National Liberation Struggle (NOB) and Fascist Terror as equal shareholders, and to draw the common dividend of brotherhood and unity. Tito’s edifice thus came to be built on three fictions:

1. The myth of the constituent nations’ equal contribution to the Partisan victory in the ‘National Liberation Struggle.’

2. The myth of all ethnic groups’ equal suffering under the ‘occupiers and their domestic servants.’

3. The equating of the Četniks with Pavelić’s Ustašas as politically and morally equivalent.

The Serbs were not allowed to be personalized as victims and the Ustašas were seldom named as perpetrators. Countless markers and monuments in Lika, Kordun, Banija, or Bosnia and Herzegovina memorialized the “victims of the terror by occupiers and their domestic servants,” followed by long columns of Serbian names. The state narrative could not prevent or outweigh the impact of personal and family ones, however, which for the Serbs became part of an underground national narrative.

The Serb-Croat conflict of the 1990s grew from elements which should now be familiar. The Communist apparat in Croatia and the police force were disproportionately Serb. This was resented by Croats, just as Serb privileges had been resented before 1881. As the Croatian Communist Party became more nationalistic, this became consequential; and when Communism failed, nationalism detonated. The Serbs were identified as the bearers of the Communist revolution itself.

In 1990-91 it was hardly imaginable that the Serbs should not take up arms against a regime in Zagreb which was reviving the symbols, slogans, and atmosphere of the Ustaša state. Their fears were kindled by the government of Franjo Tudjman which came to power in April 1990 after the first multiparty election since 1938. It was composed of nationalists whose stated goal was to reconcile the legacy of the Croatian Partisans and their Ustaša opponents. Tudjman’s successor as president, Stjepan Mesić, thus declared that Croatia had scored a victory twice in the Second World War, first in 1941 and then again in 1945. Tudjman readily affirmed that the NDH reflected the legitimate, centuries-old aspirations of the Croat people.

The war which broke out in August 1991 had the traumatic collective memory of the NDH as its key cause. Its final act came on August 4, 1995, when Operation Storm was launched by the Croatian army and police. Its political objectives became evident over a decade later, when the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague released a transcript of Tudjman’s meeting with his top military commanders and civilian aides at the Adriatic island of Brioni on July 31, 1995. “We have to inflict such blows,” Tudjman announced, “that the Serbs will to all practical purposes disappear.” It is important that those civilians set out, he went on, “and then the army will follow them, and when the columns set out they will have a psychological impact on each other … This means giving them a way out, while pretending to guarantee civil rights etcetera.” This strategic design was firmly rooted in 1941. The result was the biggest act of ethnic cleansing in post-1945 Europe. An area the size of New Jersey, inhabited by over half a million people a century ago, was literally depopulated. Of those left behind, many have been shot in the back of the head or had throats slit, others have been mutilated. Virtually all Serb villages had been destroyed and many corpses left unburied.

To most Croats this was but the final act of a war of Serbian aggression and Croatian Defense of the Motherland. The power of this narrative became evident in April 2011, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the conviction of two Croatian generals by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. A rational verdict on the crimes against the Serbs remains as unlikely in today’s Croatia as it was seven decades ago. Suffice to note that the Croatian Army chief chaplain, Bishop Juraj Jezerinac, compared the predicament of generals Gotovina and Markač to the suffering of Jesus Christ. The collective refusal to judge immoral acts as such, separate from some alleged context, does not bode well either for Croatia or for its neighbors.

Tudjman’s vision behind the Storm, a Serb-free Croatia, indicated that the legacy of 1941 was alive. A week after it was all over, at a rally in Knin, Tudjman announced, “There can be no return to the past, to the times when [Serbs] were spreading cancer in the heart of Croatia, a cancer that was destroying the Croatian national being.” Those same words could have been uttered at a rally in the spring of 1941. Tudjman gloated in the “ignominious disappearance” of the Krajina Serbs, “as if they have never lived here.” His predecessors of 1941-45 would have approved.

What happens in the Balkans is seldom due to the Balkans alone. Tudjman felt authorized from Washington and Bonn to proceed with his final solution in the Krajina no less than Pavelić had felt authorized to pursue fifty years of intolerance after visiting Hitler in June 1941. Tudjman’s goals were recapitulated with precision on August 23, 1995, in the aftermath of the Storm:

“Military force can be a most effective means for solving the internal needs of the state… It is necessary for military command precisely to become one of the most efficient components of our state policies in solving the demographic situation of Croatia.”

The Ustaša legacy is a Serbenfrei Croatia. It is kept alive not only by the skinhead fringe at Thompson’s concerts and the Black Legion lookalikes at Bad Blue Boys’ soccer rallies, but also by the political, academic, ecclesiastical, cultural and media establishments. They, too, have internalized a host of similar assumptions and preferences, but they no longer require explicit symbolism and terminology of seven decades ago. Steadily reduced from a quarter of Croatia’s population before 1914 to a sixth after 1945 and a seventh in 1991, the Serbs today account for fewer than five percent.

Europe may have moved beyond blood-and-soil atavism, west of the Oder at least, but in the Balkans the old heart of darkness keeps beating. After the decline of higher cynicism in the name of Human Progress, benevolent tolerance by the “international community” of that legacy reflects the ascent of higher cynicism in the name of Human Rights. Some important Westerners may prefer to look forward, to forget, minimize, or even deny, the fruits of the Croatian Holocaust of 1941-45 and its revived legacy of 1995. The endeavor is flawed. Sins unatoned for will continue coming back to haunt us.

Chi dubitava che Barack Obama non meritasse il Premio Nobel per la pace, ora deve ricredersi. Il presidente ha annunciato la creazione dell’Atrocities Prevention Board, un apposito comitato della Casa Bianca per la «prevenzione delle atrocità». Lo presiede la sua ispiratrice, Samantha Power, assistente speciale del presidente e direttrice per i diritti umani al National Security Council, formato dai più importanti consiglieri di politica estera. Nella scalata al potere (cui sembra predestinata dal suo cognome), la Power, aspirante segretaria di stato, ha sempre fatto leva sulla denuncia di presunte atrocità, attribuite a quelli che di volta in volta gli Usa bollano quali nemici numero uno. Sotto le ali del suo patron, il potente finanziere George Soros, la Power ha contribuito a elaborare la dottrina «Responsabilità di proteggere», che attribuisce agli Stati uniti e alleati il diritto di intervenire militarmente nei casi in cui, a loro insindacabile giudizio, si stiano per commettere «atrocità di massa». Con tale motivazione ufficiale, in specifico quella di proteggere la popolazione di Bengasi minacciata di sterminio dalle forze governative, il presidente Obama ha deciso l’anno scorso di fare guerra alla Libia. Ora la dottrina viene istituzionalizzata con la creazione dell’Atrocities Prevention Board. Attraverso la Comunità di intelligence (formata dalla Cia e altre 16 agenzie federali), esso stabilisce quali sono i casi di «potenziali atrocità di massa e genocidi», allertando il presidente. Predispone quindi gli strumenti politici, economici e militari per la «prevenzione». In tale quadro, il Dipartimento della difesa sta sviluppando «ulteriori principi operativi, specifici per la prevenzione e la risposta alle atrocità». D’ora in poi sarà l’Atrocities Prevention Board a preparare il terreno a nuove guerre. Ed è già al lavoro: di fronte alla «indicibile violenza cui è soggetto il popolo siriano, dobbiamo fare tutto ciò che possiamo», ha dichiarato il presidente Obama, sottolineando che, oggi come in passato, «la prevenzione delle atrocità di massa costituisce una fondamentale responsabilità morale per gli Stati uniti d’America». Peccato che l’Atrocities Prevention Board sia stato creato solo ora. Altrimenti avrebbe potuto prevenire le atrocità di massa di cui è costellata la storia statunitense, a iniziare dal genocidio delle popolazioni autoctone nordamericane. Basti ricordare, limitandosi agli ultimi cinquant’anni, le guerre contro Vietnam, Cambogia, Libano, Somalia, Iraq, Jugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libia; i colpi di stato orchestrati dagli Usa in Indonesia, Cile, Argentina, Salvador. Milioni di persone imprigionate, torturate e uccise. Per prevenire altre atrocità, l’Atrocities Prevention Board dovrebbe assicurare alla giustizia i responsabili, impuniti, delle torture e uccisioni ad Abu Ghraib, a Guantanamo e in decine di prigioni segrete della Cia. Dovrebbe anche acquisire agli atti i video con cui soldati Usa documentano, per divertirsi, l’uccisione di civili in Afghanistan*, che il Pentagono ha cercato prima di occultare e poi di sminuire. Se li guardi bene Samantha Power, per capire che cosa è veramente una «atrocità di massa».

*V. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-kill-team-20110327

Al-Qaeda in Syria: Pretext for Intervention

May 1st, 2012 by Ben Schreiner

Twin blasts targeting government security buildings rocked the northern Syrian city of Idlib on Monday, killing at least nine and wounding a hundred more, according to Syrian state TV.  The attack followed a suicide bombing on Friday in the capital city of Damascus, which saw an additional nine killed. 

According to Reuters, the increasing frequency of such attacks signifies a shifting tactical emphasis from rebel forces toward the use of more “homemade bombs.”  As a rebel spokesman ominously warned, “You are going to start seeing an escalation as we improve our techniques of bomb-making and delivery.”

This comes as evidence mounts of increasing al-Qaeda infiltration into Syrian opposition groups.  As DEBKAfile reported Monday: “The suicide bombings hitting Damascus and Idlib in the last 24 hours were the work of al-Qaeda in Iraq—AQI, whose operatives have been pouring into Syria in the last two weeks.”

“There’s no question that a lot of Syrians fought with al-Qaeda elements in Iraq and it’s likely that many rebels today learned bombing skills fighting there,” Joseph Holliday, from the Institute for the Study of War, added to Reuters.

Instead of tempering calls for foreign intervention into Syria, however, al-Qaeda’s strengthening presence within the country appears likely to serve as the latest pretext used by imperial powers to further insert themselves into the crisis.  As the Washington Post argued, opting not to provide further assistance to the rebel Free Syrian Army only cedes influence with the opposition to Islamic extremists. 

“There is a real risk that frustrated members of the opposition will be driven toward extremism,” the Post writes, “adding a dangerous dimension to a revolt that is threatening to destabilize a wide arc of territory across the Middle East.”

Meanwhile, the right-wing DEBKAfile reports that members of the Syrian opposition are already in Washington “imploring administration officials to abandon the U.S. policy of non-intervention in Syria. They warn that the rebel Free Syrian Army is falling into the clutches of al-Qaeda.”

Washington, though, has no real qualms with an increased influence of al-Qaeda or its affiliates.  After all, the U.S. has a long history of allying itself with Islamic extremists in order to further its imperial ends.  This can be seen as far back as Washington’s support for the Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and as recently as its support of Libyan rebel groups opposed to the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

Using the rubric of the global “war on terror, Washington has also long used the menace of al-Qaeda as a tool to garner domestic and international support for its agenda of militarist expansion.  After all, in practice, Washington’s “anti-terrorism” policies have done little more than strengthen al-Qaeda and its various offshoots. 

For instance, in reporting on the expanded use of “signature” drone strikes in Yemen (which allow U.S. drone strikes within the country against unidentified targets), the Washington Post notes: “AQAP [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] has significantly expanded in numbers, strength and territory since one of its top leaders, the U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a CIA drone strike last year.”

(The fact that the U.S. drone campaign within Yemen, ostensibly instigated to combat the rise of AQAP, has led to the expansion of the terror group passes without notice from the Post.)

Much the same as AQAP, al-Qaeda in Syria will continue to be used as an excuse for enhanced Western military intervention into the country.  Of course, the the true aim of Washington planners is not al-Qaeda, but remains, as the World Socialist Web Site observes, to target “Iran, as well as the oil and military interests of Russia and China in the region.”  

If left unchecked, this destructive militarism of the U.S. shall only led to the further impoverishment of the nation’s already beleaguered working class, not to mention the grave imperilment of working people globally.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Oregon.  He may be reached at [email protected] or via his website.

The rise of China surely ranks among the most important world developments of the last 100 years. With America still trapped in its fifth year of economic hardship, and the Chinese economy poised to surpass our own before the end of this decade, China looms very large on the horizon. We are living in the early years of what journalists once dubbed “The Pacific Century,” yet there are worrisome signs it may instead become known as “The Chinese Century.”

But does the Chinese giant have feet of clay? In a recently published book, Why Nations Fail, economists Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson characterize China’s ruling elites as “extractive”—parasitic and corrupt—and predict that Chinese economic growth will soon falter and decline, while America’s “inclusive” governing institutions have taken us from strength to strength. They argue that a country governed as a one-party state, without the free media or checks and balances of our own democratic system, cannot long prosper in the modern world. The glowing tributes this book has received from a vast array of America’s most prominent public intellectuals, including six Nobel laureates in economics, testifies to the widespread popularity of this optimistic message.

Yet do the facts about China and America really warrant this conclusion? 

China Shakes the World

By the late 1970s, three decades of Communist central planning had managed to increase China’s production at a respectable rate, but with tremendous fits and starts, and often at a terrible cost: 35 million or more Chinese had starved to death during the disastrous 1959–1961 famine caused by Mao’s forced industrialization policy of the Great Leap Forward.

China’s population had also grown very rapidly during this period, so the typical standard of living had improved only slightly, perhaps 2 percent per year between 1958 and 1978, and this from an extremely low base. Adjusted for purchasing power, most Chinese in 1980 had an income 60–70 percent below that of the citizens in other major Third World countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Kenya, none of which were considered great economic success stories. In those days, even Haitians were far wealthier than Chinese.

All this began to change very rapidly once Deng Xiaoping initiated his free-market reforms in 1978, first throughout the countryside and eventually in the smaller industrial enterprises of the coastal provinces. By 1985, The Economist ran a cover story praising China’s 700,000,000 peasants for having doubled their agricultural production in just seven years, an achievement almost unprecedented in world history. Meanwhile, China’s newly adopted one-child policy, despite its considerable unpopularity, had sharply reduced population growth rates in a country possessing relatively little arable land.

A combination of slowing population growth and rapidly accelerating economic output has obvious implications for national prosperity. During the three decades to 2010, China achieved perhaps the most rapid sustained rate of economic development in the history of the human species, with its real economy growing almost 40-fold between 1978 and 2010. In 1978, America’s economy was 15 times larger, but according to most international estimates, China is now set to surpass America’s total economic output within just another few years.

Furthermore, the vast majority of China’s newly created economic wealth has flowed to ordinary Chinese workers, who have moved from oxen and bicycles to the verge of automobiles in just a single generation. While median American incomes have been stagnant for almost forty years, those in China have nearly doubled every decade, with the real wages of workers outside the farm-sector rising about 150 percent over the last ten years alone. The Chinese of 1980 were desperately poor compared to Pakistanis, Nigerians, or Kenyans; but today, they are several times wealthier, representing more than a tenfold shift in relative income.

A World Bank report recently highlighted the huge drop in global poverty rates from 1980 to 2008, but critics noted that over 100 percent of that decline came from China alone: the number of Chinese living in dire poverty fell by a remarkable 662 million, while the impoverished population in the rest of the world actually rose by 13 million. And although India is often paired with China in the Western media, a large fraction of Indians have actually grown poorer over time. The bottom half of India’s still rapidly growing population has seen its daily caloric intake steadily decline for the last 30 years, with half of all children under five now being malnourished.

China’s economic progress is especially impressive when matched against historical parallels. Between 1870 and 1900, America enjoyed unprecedented industrial expansion, such that even Karl Marx and his followers began to doubt that a Communist revolution would be necessary or even possible in a country whose people were achieving such widely shared prosperity through capitalistic expansion. During those 30 years America’s real per capita income grew by 100 percent. But over the last 30 years, real per capita income in China has grown by more than 1,300 percent.

Over the last decade alone, China quadrupled its industrial output, which is now comparable to that of the U.S. In the crucial sector of automobiles, China raised its production ninefold, from 2 million cars in 2000 to 18 million in 2010, a figure now greater than the combined totals for America and Japan. China accounted for fully 85 percent of the total world increase in auto manufacturing during that decade.

It is true that many of China’s highest-tech exports are more apparent than real. Nearly all Apple’s iPhones and iPads come from China, but this is largely due to the use of cheap Chinese labor for final assembly, with just 4 percent of the value added in those world-leading items being Chinese. This distorts Chinese trade statistics, leading to unnecessary friction. However, some high-tech China exports are indeed fully Chinese, notably those of Huawei, which now ranks alongside Sweden’s Ericsson as one of the world’s two leading telecommunications manufacturers, while once powerful North American competitors such Lucent-Alcatel and Nortel have fallen into steep decline or even bankruptcy. And although America originally pioneered the Human Genome Project, the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) today probably stands as the world leader in that enormously important emerging scientific field.

China’s recent rise should hardly surprise us. For most of the last 3,000 years, China together with the Mediterranean world and its adjoining European peninsula have constituted the two greatest world centers of technological and economic progress. During the 13th century, Marco Polo traveled from his native Venice to the Chinese Empire and described the latter as vastly wealthier and more advanced than any European country. As late as the 18th century, many leading European philosophers such as Voltaire often looked to Chinese society as an intellectual exemplar, while both the British and the Prussians used the Chinese mandarinate as their model for establishing a meritocratic civil service based on competitive examinations.

Even a century ago, near the nadir of China’s later weakness and decay, some of America’s foremost public intellectuals, such as Edward A. Ross and Lothrop Stoddard, boldly predicted the forthcoming restoration of the Chinese nation to global influence, the former with equanimity and the latter with serious concern. Indeed, Stoddard argued that only three major inventions effectively separated the world of classical antiquity from that of 18th-century Europe—gunpowder, the mariner’s compass, and the printing press. All three seem to have first appeared in China, though for various social, political, and ideological reasons, none were properly implemented.

Does China’s rise necessarily imply America’s decline? Not at all: human economic progress is not a zero-sum game. Under the right circumstances, the rapid development of one large country should tend to improve living standards for the rest of the world.

This is most obvious for those nations whose economic strengths directly complement those of a growing China. Massive industrial expansion clearly requires a similar increase in raw-material consumption, and China is now the world’s largest producer and user of electricity, concrete, steel, and many other basic materials, with its iron-ore imports surging by a factor of ten between 2000 and 2011. This has driven huge increases in the costs of most commodities; for example, copper’s world price rose more than eightfold during the last decade. As a direct consequence, these years have generally been very good ones for the economies of countries that heavily rely upon the export of natural resources—Australia, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and parts of Africa.

Meanwhile, as China’s growth gradually doubles total world industrial production, the resulting “China price” reduces the cost of manufactured goods, making them much more easily affordable to everyone, and thereby greatly increases the global standard of living. While this process may negatively impact those particular industries and countries directly competing with China, it provides enormous opportunities as well, not merely to the aforementioned raw-material suppliers but also to countries like Germany, whose advanced equipment and machine tools have found a huge Chinese market, thereby helping to reduce German unemployment to the lowest level in 20 years.

And as ordinary Chinese grow wealthier, they provide a larger market as well for the goods and services of leading Western companies, ranging from fast-food chains to consumer products to luxury goods. Chinese workers not only assemble Apple’s iPhones and iPads, but are also very eager to purchase them, and China has now become that company’s second largest market, with nearly all of the extravagant profit margins flowing back to its American owners and employees. In 2011 General Motors sold more cars in China than in the U.S., and that rapidly growing market became a crucial factor in the survival of an iconic American corporation. China has become the third largest market in the world for McDonald’s, and the main driver of global profits for the American parent company of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC.

Social Costs of a Rapid Rise

Transforming a country in little more than a single generation from a land of nearly a billion peasants to one of nearly a billion city-dwellers is no easy task, and such a breakneck pace of industrial and economic development inevitably leads to substantial social costs. Chinese urban pollution is among the worst in the world, and traffic is rapidly heading toward that same point. China now contains the second largest number of billionaires after America, together with more than a million dollar-millionaires, and although many of these individuals came by their fortunes honestly, many others did not. Official corruption is a leading source of popular resentment against the various levels of Chinese government, ranging from local village councils to the highest officials in Beijing.

But we must maintain a proper sense of proportion. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles when it still had the most notorious smog in America, I recognize that such trends can be reversed with time and money, and indeed the Chinese government has expressed intense interest in the emerging technology of non-polluting electric cars. Rapidly growing national wealth can be deployed to solve many problems.

Similarly, plutocrats who grow rich through friends in high places or even outright corruption are easier to tolerate when a rising tide is rapidly lifting all boats. Ordinary Chinese workers have increased their real income by well over 1,000 percent in recent decades, while the corresponding figure for most American workers has been close to zero. If typical American wages were doubling every decade, there would be far less anger in our own society directed against the “One Percent.” Indeed, under the standard GINI index used to measure wealth inequality, China’s score is not particularly high, being roughly the same as that of the United States, though certainly indicating greater inequality than most of the social democracies of Western Europe.

Many American pundits and politicians still focus their attention on the tragic Tiananmen Square incident of 1989, during which hundreds of determined Chinese protesters were massacred by government troops. But although that event loomed very large at the time, in hindsight it generated merely a blip in the upward trajectory of China’s development and today seems virtually forgotten among ordinary Chinese, whose real incomes have increased several-fold in the quarter century since then.

Much of the Tiananmen protest had been driven by popular outrage at government corruption, and certainly there have been additional major scandals in recent years, often heavily splashed across the pages of America’s leading newspapers. But a closer examination paints a more nuanced picture, especially when contrasted with America’s own situation.

For example, over the last few years one of the most ambitious Chinese projects has been a plan to create the world’s largest and most advanced network of high-speed rail transport, an effort that absorbed a remarkable $200 billion of government investment. The result was the construction of over 6,000 miles of track, a total probably now greater than that of all the world’s other nations combined. Unfortunately, this project also involved considerable corruption, as was widely reported in the world media, which estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars had been misappropriated through bribery and graft. This scandal eventually led to the arrest or removal of numerous government officials, notably including China’s powerful Railways Minister.

Obviously such serious corruption would seem horrifying in a country with the pristine standards of a Sweden or a Norway. But based on the published accounts, it appears that the funds diverted amounted to perhaps as little as 0.2 percent of the total, with the remaining 99.8 percent generally spent as intended. So serious corruption notwithstanding, the project succeeded and China does indeed now possess the world’s largest and most advanced network of high-speed rail, constructed almost entirely in the last five or six years.

Meanwhile, America has no high-speed rail whatsoever, despite decades of debate and vast amounts of time and money spent on lobbying, hearings, political campaigns, planning efforts, and environmental-impact reports. China’s high-speed rail system may be far from perfect, but it actually exists, while America’s does not. Annual Chinese ridership now totals over 25 million trips per year, and although an occasional disaster—such as the 2011 crash in Weizhou, which killed 40 passengers—is tragic, it is hardly unexpected. After all, America’s aging low-speed trains are not exempt from similar calamities, as we saw in the 2008 Chatsworth crash that killed 25 in California.

For many years Western journalists regularly reported that the dismantling of China’s old Maoist system of government-guaranteed healthcare had led to serious social stresses, forcing ordinary workers to save an unreasonable fraction of their salaries to pay for medical treatment if they or their families became ill. But over the last couple of years, the government has taken major steps to reduce this problem by establishing a national healthcare insurance system whose coverage now extends to 95 percent or so of the total population, a far better ratio than is found in wealthy America and at a tiny fraction of the cost. Once again, competent leaders with access to growing national wealth can effectively solve these sorts of major social problems.

Although Chinese cities have negligible crime and are almost entirely free of the horrible slums found in many rapidly urbanizing Third World countries, housing for ordinary workers is often quite inadequate. But national concerns over rising unemployment due to the global recession gave the government a perfect opportunity late last year to announce a bold plan to construct over 35 million modern new government apartments, which would then be provided to ordinary workers on a subsidized basis.

All of this follows the pattern of Lee Kwan Yew’s mixed-development model, combining state socialism and free enterprise, which raised Singapore’s people from the desperate, abject poverty of 1945 to a standard of living now considerably higher than that of most Europeans or Americans, including a per capita GDP almost $12,000 above that of the United States. Obviously, implementing such a program for the world’s largest population and on a continental scale is far more challenging than doing so in a tiny city-state with a population of a few million and inherited British colonial institutions, but so far China has done very well in confounding its skeptics.

America’s Economic Decline

These facts do not provide much evidence for the thesis in Why Nations Fail that China’s leaders constitute a self-serving and venal “extractive” elite. Unfortunately, such indications seem far more apparent when we direct our gaze inward, toward the recent economic and social trajectory of our own country

Against the backdrop of remarkable Chinese progress, America mostly presents a very gloomy picture. Certainly America’s top engineers and entrepreneurs have created many of the world’s most important technologies, sometimes becoming enormously wealthy in the process. But these economic successes are not typical nor have their benefits been widely distributed. Over the last 40 years, a large majority of American workers have seen their real incomes stagnate or decline.

Meanwhile, the rapid concentration of American wealth continues apace: the richest 1 percent of America’s population now holds as much net wealth as the bottom 90–95 percent, and these trend may even be accelerating. A recent study revealed that during our supposed recovery of the last couple of years, 93 percent of the total increase in national income went to the top 1 percent, with an astonishing 37 percent being captured by just the wealthiest 0.01 percent of the population, 15,000 households in a nation of well over 300 million people.

Evidence for the long-term decline in our economic circumstances is most apparent when we consider the situation of younger Americans. The national media endlessly trumpets the tiny number of youthful Facebook millionaires, but the prospects for most of their contemporaries are actually quite grim. According to research from the Pew Center, barely half of 18- to 24-year-old Americans are currently employed, the lowest level since 1948, a time long before most women had joined the labor force. Nearly one-fifth of young men age 25–34 are still living with their parents, while the wealth of all households headed by those younger than 35 is 68 percent lower today than it was in 1984.

The total outstanding amount of non-dischargeable student-loan debt has crossed the trillion-dollar mark, now surpassing the combined total of credit-card and auto-loan debt—and with a quarter of all student-loan payers now delinquent, there are worrisome indicators that much of it will remain a permanent burden, reducing many millions to long-term debt peonage. A huge swath of America’s younger generation seems completely impoverished, and likely to remain so.

International trade statistics, meanwhile, demonstrate that although Apple and Google are doing quite well, our overall economy is not. For many years now our largest goods export has been government IOUs, whose dollar value has sometimes been greater than that of the next ten categories combined. At some point, perhaps sooner than we think, the rest of the world will lose its appetite for this non-functional product, and our currency will collapse, together with our standard of living. Similar Cassandra-like warnings were issued for years about the housing bubble or the profligacy of the Greek government, and were proven false year after year until one day they suddenly became true.

Ironically enough, there is actually one major category in which American expansion still easily tops that of China, both today and for the indefinite future: population growth. The rate of America’s demographic increase passed that of China over 20 years ago and has been greater every year since, sometimes by as much as a factor of two. According to standard projections, China’s population in 2050 will be almost exactly what it was in 2000, with the country having achieved the population stability typical of advanced, prosperous societies. But during that same half-century, the number of America’s inhabitants will have grown by almost 50 percent, a rate totally unprecedented in the developed world and actually greater than that found in numerous Third World countries such as Colombia, Algeria, Thailand, Mexico, or Indonesia. A combination of very rapid population growth and doubtful prospects for equally rapid economic growth does not bode well for the likely quality of the 2050 American Dream.

China rises while America falls, but are there major causal connections between these two concurrent trends now reshaping the future of our world? Not that I can see. American politicians and pundits are naturally fearful of taking on the fierce special interest groups that dominate their political universe, so they often seek an external scapegoat to explicate the misery of their constituents, sometimes choosing to focus on China. But this is merely political theater for the ignorant and the gullible.

Various studies have suggested that China’s currency may be substantially undervalued, but even if the frequent demands of Paul Krugman and others were met and the yuan rapidly appreciated another 15 or 20 percent, few industrial jobs would return to American shores, while working-class Americans might pay much more for their basic necessities. And if China opened wide its borders to more American movies or financial services, the multimillionaires of Hollywood and Wall Street might grow even richer, but ordinary Americans would see little benefit. It is always easier for a nation to point an accusing finger at foreigners rather than honestly admit that almost all its terrible problems are essentially self-inflicted.

Decay of Constitutional Democracy

The central theme of Why Nations Fail is that political institutions and the behavior of ruling elites largely determine the economic success or failure of countries. If most Americans have experienced virtually no economic gains for decades, perhaps we should cast our gaze at these factors in our own society.

Our elites boast about the greatness of our constitutional democracy, the wondrous human rights we enjoy, the freedom and rule of law that have long made America a light unto the nations of the world and a spiritual draw for oppressed peoples everywhere, including China itself. But are these claims actually correct? They often stack up very strangely when they appear in the opinion pages of our major newspapers, coming just after the news reporting, whose facts tell a very different story.

Just last year, the Obama administration initiated a massive months-long bombing campaign against the duly recognized government of Libya on “humanitarian” grounds, then argued with a straight face that a military effort comprising hundreds of bombing sorties and over a billion dollars in combat costs did not actually constitute “warfare,” and hence was completely exempt from the established provisions of the Congressional War Powers Act. A few months later, Congress overwhelmingly passed and President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, granting the president power to permanently imprison without trial or charges any American whom he classifies as a national-security threat based on his own judgment and secret evidence. When we consider that American society has experienced virtually no domestic terrorism during the past decade, we must wonder how long our remaining constitutional liberties would survive if we were facing frequent real-life attacks by an actual terrorist underground, such as had been the case for many years with the IRA in Britain, ETA in Spain, or the Red Brigades in Italy.

Most recently, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have claimed the inherent right of an American president to summarily execute anyone anywhere in the world, American citizen or not, whom White House advisors have privately decided was a “bad person.” While it is certainly true that major world governments have occasionally assassinated their political enemies abroad, I have never before heard these dark deeds publicly proclaimed as legitimate and aboveboard. Certainly if the governments of Russia or China, let alone Iran, declared their inherent right to kill anyone anywhere in the world whom they didn’t like, our media pundits would immediately blast these statements as proof of their total criminal insanity.

These are very strange notions of the “rule of law” for the administration of a president who had once served as top editor of the Harvard Law Review and who was routinely flattered in his political campaigns by being described as a “constitutional scholar.”

Many of these negative ideological trends have been absorbed and accepted by the popular culture and much of the American public. Over the last decade one of the highest-rated shows on American television was “24”, created by Joel Surnow and chronicling Kiefer Sutherland as a patriotic but ruthless Secret Service agent, with each episode constituting a single hour of his desperate efforts to thwart terrorist plots and safeguard our national security. Numerous episodes featured our hero torturing suspected evildoers in order to extract the information necessary to save innocent lives, with the entire series representing a popular weekly glorification of graphic government torture on behalf of the greater good.

Now soft-headed protestations to the contrary, most governments around the world have at least occasionally practiced torture, especially when combating popular insurgencies, and some of the more brutal regimes, including Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany, even professionalized the process. But such dark deeds done in secret were always vigorously denied in public, and the popular films and other media of Stalin’s Soviet Union invariably featured pure-hearted workers and peasants bravely doing their honorable and patriotic duty for the Motherland, rather than the terrible torments being daily inflicted in the cellars of the Lubyanka prison. Throughout all of modern history, I am not aware of a single even semi-civilized country that publicly celebrated the activities of its professional government torturers in the popular media. Certainly such sentiments would have been totally abhorrent and unthinkable in the “conservative Hollywood” of the Cold War 1950s.

And since we live in a entertainment-dominated society, sentiments affirmed on the screen often have direct real-world consequences. At one point, senior American military and counter-terrorism officials felt the need to travel to Hollywood and urge its screenwriters to stop glorifying American torture, since their shows were encouraging U.S. soldiers to torture Muslim captives even when their commanding officers repeatedly ordered them not to do so.

Given these facts, we should hardly be surprised that international surveys over the past decade have regularly ranked America as the world’s most hated major nation, a remarkable achievement given the dominant global role of American media and entertainment and also the enormous international sympathy that initially flowed to our country following the 9/11 attacks.

An Emerging One-Party State

So far at least, these extra-constitutional and often brutal methods have not been directed toward controlling America’s own political system; we remain a democracy rather than a dictatorship. But does our current system actually possess the central feature of a true democracy, namely a high degree of popular influence over major government policies? Here the evidence seems more ambiguous.

Consider the pattern of the last decade. With two ruinous wars and a financial collapse to his record, George W. Bush was widely regarded as one of the most disastrous presidents in American history, and at times his public approval numbers sank to the lowest levels ever measured. The sweeping victory of his successor, Barack Obama, represented more a repudiation of Bush and his policies than anything else, and leading political activists, left and right alike, characterized Obama as Bush’s absolute antithesis, both in background and in ideology. This sentiment was certainly shared abroad, with Obama being selected for the Nobel Peace Prize just months after entering office, based on the widespread assumption that he was certain to reverse most of the policies of his detested predecessor and restore America to sanity.

Yet almost none of these reversals took place. Instead, the continuity of administration policy has been so complete and so obvious that many critics now routinely speak of the Bush/Obama administration.

The harsh violations of constitutional principles and civil liberties which Bush pioneered following the 9/11 attacks have only further intensified under Obama, the heralded Harvard constitutional scholar and ardent civil libertarian, and this has occurred without the excuse of any major new terrorist attacks. During his Democratic primary campaign, Obama promised that he would move to end Bush’s futile Iraq War immediately upon taking office, but instead large American forces remained in place for years until heavy pressure from the Iraqi government finally forced their removal; meanwhile, America’s occupation army in Afghanistan actually tripled in size. The government bailout of the hated financial manipulators of Wall Street, begun under Bush, continued apace under Obama, with no serious attempts at either government prosecution or drastic reform. Americans are still mostly suffering through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but Wall Street profits and multimillion-dollar bonuses soon returned to record levels.

In particular, the continuity of top officials has been remarkable. As Bush’s second defense secretary, Robert Gates had been responsible for the ongoing management of America’s foreign wars and military occupations since 2006; Obama kept him on, and he continued to play the same role in the new administration. Similarly, Timothy Geithner had been one of Bush’s most senior financial appointments, playing a crucial role in the widely unpopular financial bailout of Wall Street; Obama promoted him to Treasury secretary and authorized continuation of those same policies. Ben Bernanke had been appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve by Bush and was reappointed by Obama. Bush wars and bailouts became Obama wars and bailouts. The American public voted for an anti-Bush, but got Bush’s third term instead.

During the Cold War, Soviet propagandists routinely characterized our democracy as a sham, with the American public merely selecting which of the two intertwined branches of their single political party should alternate in office, while the actual underlying policies remained essentially unchanged, being decided and implemented by the same corrupt ruling class. This accusation may have been mostly false at the time it was made but seems disturbingly accurate today.

When times are hard and government policies are widely unpopular, but voters are only offered a choice between the rival slick marketing campaigns of Coke and Pepsi, cynicism can reach extreme proportions. Over the last year, surveys have shown that the public non-approval of Congress—representing Washington’s political establishment—has ranged as high as 90–95 percent, which is completely unprecedented.

But if our government policies are so broadly unpopular, why are we unable to change them through the sacred power of the vote? The answer is that America’s system of government has increasingly morphed from being a representative democracy to becoming something closer to a mixture of plutocracy and mediacracy, with elections almost entirely determined by money and media, not necessarily in that order. Political leaders are made or broken depending on whether they receive the cash and visibility needed to win office.

National campaigns increasingly seem sordid reality shows for second-rate political celebrities, while our country continues along its path toward multiple looming calamities. Candidates who depart from the script or deviate from the elite D.C. consensus regarding wars or bailouts—notably a principled ideologue such as Ron Paul—are routinely stigmatized in the media as dangerous extremists or even entirely airbrushed out of campaign news coverage, as has been humorously highlighted by comedian Jon Stewart.

We know from the collapsed communist states of Eastern Europe that control over the media may determine public perceptions of reality, but it does not change the underlying reality itself, and reality usually has the last laugh. Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his colleagues have conservatively estimated the total long-term cost of our disastrous Iraq War at $3 trillion, representing over one-fifth of our entire accumulated national debt, or almost $30,000 per American household. And even now the direct ongoing costs of our Afghanistan War still run $120 billion per year, many times the size of Afghanistan’s total GDP. Meanwhile, during these same years the international price of oil has risen from $25 to $125 per barrel—partly as a consequence of these past military disruptions and growing fears of future ones—thereby imposing gigantic economic costs upon our society.

And we suffer other costs as well. A recent New York Times story described the morale-building visit of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to our forces in Afghanistan and noted that all American troops had been required to surrender their weapons before attending his speech and none were allowed to remain armed in his vicinity. Such a command decision seems almost unprecedented in American history and does not reflect well upon the perceived state of our military morale.

Future historians may eventually regard these two failed wars, fought for entirely irrational reasons, as the proximate cause of America’s financial and political collapse, representing the historical bookend to our World War II victory, which originally established American global dominance.

Our Extractive Elites 

When parasitic elites govern a society along “extractive” lines, a central feature is the massive upward flow of extracted wealth, regardless of any contrary laws or regulations. Certainly America has experienced an enormous growth of officially tolerated corruption as our political system has increasingly consolidated into a one-party state controlled by a unified media-plutocracy.

Consider the late 2011 collapse of MF Global, a midsize but highly reputable brokerage firm. Although this debacle was far smaller than the Lehman bankruptcy or the Enron fraud, it effectively illustrates the incestuous activities of America’s overlapping elites. Just a year earlier, Jon Corzine had been installed as CEO, following his terms as Democratic governor and U.S. senator from New Jersey and his previous career as CEO of Goldman Sachs. Perhaps no other American had such a combination of stellar political and financial credentials on his resume. Soon after taking the reins, Corzine decided to boost his company’s profits by betting its entire capital and more against the possibility that any European countries might default on their national debts. When he lost that bet, his multi-billion-dollar firm tumbled into bankruptcy.

At this point, the story moves from a commonplace tale of Wall Street arrogance and greed into something out of the Twilight Zone, or perhaps Monty Python. The major newspapers began reporting that customer funds, eventually said to total $1.6 billion, had mysteriously disappeared during the collapse, and no one could determine what had become of them, a very strange claim in our age of massively computerized financial records. Weeks and eventually months passed, tens of millions of dollars were spent on armies of investigators and forensic accountants, but all those customer funds stayed “missing,” while the elite media covered this bizarre situation in the most gingerly possible fashion. As an example, a front page Wall Street Journal story on February 23, 2012 suggested that after so many months, there seemed little likelihood that the disappeared customer funds might ever reappear, but also emphasized that absolutely no one was being accused of any wrongdoing. Presumably the journalists were suggesting that the $1.6 billion dollars of customer money had simply walked out the door on its own two feet.

Stories like this give the lie to the endless boasts of our politicians and business pundits that America’s financial system is the most transparent and least corrupt in today’s world. Certainly America is not unique in the existence of long-term corporate fraud, as was recently shown in the fall of Japan’s Olympus Corporation following the discovery of more than a billion dollars in long-hidden investment losses. But when we consider the largest corporate collapses of the last decade that were substantially due to fraud, nearly all the names are American: WorldCom, Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing, and Adelphia. And this list leaves out all the American financial institutions destroyed by the financial meltdown—such as Lehman, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia—and the many trillions of dollars in American homeowner equity and top-rated MBS securities which evaporated during that process. Meanwhile, the largest and longest Ponzi Scheme in world history, that of Bernie Madoff, had survived for decades under the very nose of the SEC, despite a long series of detailed warnings and complaints. The second largest such fraud, that of Allen R. Stanford, also bears the label “Made in the USA.”

Some of the sources of Chinese success and American decay are not entirely mysterious. As it happens, the typical professional background of a member of China’s political elite is engineering; they were taught to build things. Meanwhile, a remarkable fraction of America’s political leadership class attended law school, where they were trained to argue effectively and to manipulate. Thus, we should not be greatly surprised that while China’s leaders tend to build, America’s leaders seem to prefer endless manipulation, whether of words, money, or people.

How corrupt is the American society fashioned by our current ruling elites? That question is perhaps more ambiguous than it might seem. According to the standard world rankings produced by Transparency International, the United States is a reasonably clean country, with corruption being considerably higher than in the nations of Northern Europe or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, but much lower than in most of the rest of the world, including China.

But I suspect that this one-dimensional metric fails to capture some of the central anomalies of America’s current social dilemma. Unlike the situation in many Third World countries, American teachers and tax inspectors very rarely solicit bribes, and there is little overlap in personnel between our local police and the criminals whom they pursue. Most ordinary Americans are generally honest. So by these basic measures of day-to-day corruption, America is quite clean, not too different from Germany or Japan.

By contrast, local village authorities in China have a notorious tendency to seize public land and sell it to real estate developers for huge personal profits. This sort of daily misbehavior has produced an annual Chinese total of up to 90,000 so-called “mass incidents”—public strikes, protests, or riots—usually directed against corrupt local officials or businessmen.

However, although American micro-corruption is rare, we seem to suffer from appalling levels of macro-corruption, situations in which our various ruling elites squander or misappropriate tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars of our national wealth, sometimes doing so just barely on one side of technical legality and sometimes on the other.

Sweden is among the cleanest societies in Europe, while Sicily is perhaps the most corrupt. But suppose a large clan of ruthless Sicilian Mafiosi moved to Sweden and somehow managed to gain control of its government. On a day-to-day basis, little would change, with Swedish traffic policemen and building inspectors performing their duties with the same sort of incorruptible efficiency as before, and I suspect that Sweden’s Transparency International rankings would scarcely decline. But meanwhile, a large fraction of Sweden’s accumulated national wealth might gradually be stolen and transferred to secret Cayman Islands bank accounts, or invested in Latin American drug cartels, and eventually the entire plundered economy would collapse.

Ordinary Americans who work hard and seek to earn an honest living for themselves and their families appear to be suffering the ill effects of exactly this same sort of elite-driven economic pillage. The roots of our national decline will be found at the very top of our society, among the One Percent, or more likely the 0.1 percent.

Thus, the ideas presented in Why Nations Fail seem both true and false. The claim that harmful political institutions and corrupt elites can inflict huge economic damage upon a society seems absolutely correct. But while the authors turn a harsh eye toward elite misbehavior across time and space—from ancient Rome to Czarist Russia to rising China—their vision seems to turn rosy-tinted when they consider present-day America, the society in which they themselves live and whose ruling elites lavishly fund the academic institutions with which they are affiliated. Given the American realities of the last dozen years, it is quite remarkable that the scholars who wrote a book entitled Why Nations Fail never glanced outside their own office windows.

A similar dangerous reticence may afflict most of our media, which appears much more eager to focus on self-inflicted disasters in foreign countries than on those here at home. Presented below is a companion case-study, “Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison,” in which I point out that while the American media a few years ago joined its Chinese counterparts in devoting enormous coverage to the deaths of a few Chinese children from tainted infant formula, it paid relatively little attention to a somewhat similar domestic public-health disaster that killed many tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans.

A society’s media and academic organs constitute the sensory apparatus and central nervous system of its body politic, and if the information these provide is seriously misleading, looming dangers may fester and grow. A media and academy that are highly corrupt or dishonest constitute a deadly national peril. And although the political leadership of undemocratic China might dearly wish to hide all its major mistakes, its crude propaganda machinery often fails at this self-destructive task. But America’s own societal information system is vastly more skilled and experienced in shaping reality to meet the needs of business and government leaders, and this very success does tremendous damage to our country.

Perhaps Americans really do prefer that their broadcasters provide Happy News and that their political campaigns constitute amusing reality shows. Certainly the cheering coliseum crowds of the Roman Empire favored their bread and circuses over the difficult and dangerous tasks that their ancestors had undertaken during Rome’s rise to world greatness. And so long as we can continue to trade bits of printed paper carrying presidential portraits for flat-screen TVs from Chinese factories, perhaps all is well and no one need be too concerned about the apparent course of our national trajectory, least of all our political leadership class.

But if so, then we must admit that Richard Lynn, a prominent British scholar, has been correct in predicting for a decade or longer that the global dominance of the European-derived peoples is rapidly drawing to its end and within the foreseeable future the torch of human progress and world leadership will inevitably pass into Chinese hands.

Ron Unz is publisher of The American Conservative and founder of Unz.org.

“The figures are terrible for everyone and terrible for the government,” Popular Party (PP) Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Radio. “Spain is in a crisis of huge proportions.”

The PP president of the regional government in Valencia, Alberto Fabra, declared, “The government has found that it has no money to be able to guarantee the welfare state.”

Spain is officially in recession—the second in little more than two years. Unemployment has soared to nearly one quarter of the population (over half of the youth)—the highest level in almost two decades and far worse than predicted.

Fears the government will not meet deficit-cutting targets agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund have pushed up its borrowing costs. There is also growing speculation that bank debts are much higher than admitted.

“It’s a very challenging situation. I don’t think that the banks are cornered yet, but the government must come out soon to say how they will address them,” Deutsche Bank economist Gilles Moec said.

As a result, credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit-worthiness and further downgrades are likely.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was determined to stick to austerity measures. His government has slashed spending by 42 billion euros this year, equal to some four percent of economic output.

As a result, social conditions for the majority of the people of Spain are fast approaching those in Greece. Youth are bearing the brunt. A popular new word appeared in the Spanish vocabulary as the effect of the 2008 crisis began to be felt—”Mileuristas, the thousands of young people who were forced to accept jobs that paid just a thousand (mil) euros a month. That has now been replaced by “nimileuristas”—those not even paid a thousand euros.

In March, El Pas began publishing daily reports on “the problems, challenges and dreams of this nimileurista generation.”

Sociologist and expert in youth and precariousness, Esteban Sánchez, said, “Every indicator has worsened… every single one”.

“Extremely high unemployment, high rate of temporary employment and very low wages. It has been horrendous. There is not a single datum that allows us to hold any kind of positive outlook,” Sánchez continued.

Rising unemployment, the lack of jobs and the prevailing conviction that the economic crisis is going to continue for a long time and get much worse has resulted in people leaving Spain in droves in the hope of finding work elsewhere. Between the months of January and March, 27,004 people left the country, more than double the numbers who left in the first quarter last year.

Of the people who remain, four out of ten of the 4.77 million unemployed don’t receive any economic help whatsoever; 1.4 million will receive unemployment benefit of just 865 euros a month for a minimum of four months and a maximum of two years and another 1.6 million get different types of subsidies amounting to a miniscule 426 euros a month for the duration of between six and 18 months. Many people are forced into different types of “training” jobs where they do full time work at training level payments. The labour cost per hour in Spain has plummeted to 23.3 percent below the European average.

According to the report, “Exclusion and social development 2012,” issued by the Fundación Foessa of the charity Cáritas, poverty in Spain is “more extensive, more intensive and chronic than ever before”.

The percentage of Spanish homes below the poverty threshold is 22 percent and a further 25 percent are in an “at risk situation”. In other words, nearly half the population are living in or close to poverty. It is reported that of the 84 million poor people in the European Union, 10.7 percent of them are in Spain.

Cáritas General Secretary Sebastián Mora commented, “The constant increase in inequality and the wage gap between the rich and the poor, which widened enormously at the beginning of the crisis, threatens to continue increasing, which will lead to the polarisation of society”.

Mora added that one third of Spanish homes find serious difficulties in making money stretch to the end of the month and that it is families with youngsters and minors who are most affected. There are marked differences according to regions: the poverty index in Navarre, in the north of the country is 7 percent, while in Extremadura it is 38 percent.

Mora added that in 2010 the charity had given help to one and a half million people badly in need, 20 percent more than the previous year.

Homelessness is on the rise because evictions are increasing and mortgages are becoming more difficult to get. Although the value of houses has dropped by nearly 29 percent since 2007, the number of mortgages has gone down by 45.7 percent.

The government has cut the amount of money provided to the municipalities for the care of elderly people at home and has forced pensioners to pay 10 percent of the cost of their medicines, which were previously provided free. This will affect eight million old people. Charges for medicines are also being increased by 10 percent for the rest of the “active population”.

New legislation has also been passed that makes it more difficult for immigrant workers to access medical care. While in the past a certificate of residence was sufficient, now they will have to produce documents that prove their “fiscal right” to live in Spain.

ILO report: Worldwide unemployment over 200 million

May 1st, 2012 by Patrick Martin

The International Labor Organization, in its annual report on global labor conditions issued Monday, forecast that more than 200 million workers will be unemployed in 2012. The United Nations agency estimated that 50 million jobs had been wiped out since the 2008 financial crisis, and predicted no worldwide recovery in jobs and incomes for at least another five years.

The World of Work Report 2012 forecast a global unemployment rate of 6.1 percent in 2012, with total world unemployment rising from 196 million in 2011 to 202 million in 2012. The unemployment total is projected to rise by another five million in 2013, and the rate to 6.2 percent. (The percentage rates are artificially low because the ILO uses the official unemployment reported in each country, when actual rates are much higher. In the US, for example, the official rate is 8.3 percent, but counting those who are involuntarily working part-time or have stopped looking for work, the real rate is closer to 14 percent).

Unemployment is projected to continue rising until it hits 210 million by the end of 2016, the report said, adding, “It is unlikely that the world economy will grow at a sufficient pace over the next couple of years to both close the existing jobs deficit and provide employment for the over 80 million people expected to enter the labor market.”

The report condemns the austerity policies adopted in most of the industrialized countries, particularly in Europe and the United States, saying that slashing spending on social programs had produced “devastating consequences” for employment while budget deficits had actually increased because austerity measures exacerbated the economic slump.

The report notes that dozens of countries, particularly in Europe, have enacted measures to “reform” their labor markets, by making it easier for employers to fire workers or cut their wages and benefits. In virtually every case, the result was to “reduce job stability and exacerbate inequalities while failing to boost employment levels.” The result has been the growth of a massive army of long-term unemployed: 40 percent of the job seekers aged 25-49 in the developed countries are chronically unemployed people who have not worked in more than a year.

Some key findings of the ILO report deserve to be quoted:

The unprecedented and protracted nature of the crisis:

“This is not a normal employment slowdown. Four years into the global crisis, labor market imbalances are becoming more structural, and therefore more difficult to eradicate. Certain groups, such as the long-term unemployed, are at risk of exclusion from the labor market. This means that they would be unable to obtain new employment even if there were a strong recovery.”

The bankruptcy of austerity policies:

“In countries that have pursued austerity and deregulation to the greatest extent, principally those in Southern Europe, economic and employment growth have continued to deteriorate. The measures also failed to stabilize fiscal positions in many instances.”

The growth of part-time, temporary and “precarious” jobs:

“In addition, for a growing proportion of workers who do have a job, employment has become more unstable or precarious. In advanced economies, involuntary part-time employment and temporary employment have increased in two-thirds and more than half of these economies respectively.”

The catastrophic impact on youth:

“Youth unemployment rates have increased in about 80 percent of the advanced economies and in two-thirds of the developing economies. On average, more than 36 percent of jobseekers in advanced economies have been without work for more than one year.”

Rising poverty and inequality:

“[T]he crisis has led to an increase in poverty rates in half of advanced economies and one-third of developing economies. Similarly, inequality has increased in approximately one-half of the advanced economies and one-quarter of the emerging and developing economies. Inequalities have also widened in terms of access to education, food, land and credit.”

Growth of popular discontent and social unrest:

“Out of 106 countries with available information, 54 per cent of the countries reported increase in the score of the Social Unrest Index in 2011 compared to 2010 (the higher the score, the higher the estimated risk). The two regions of the world that show the most heightened risk of unrest are Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa but there are also important increases in advanced economies and also in Central and Eastern Europe.”

While the ILO economists and analysts are liberal supporters of capitalism, generally adhering to the standpoint of Keynesian reformism, rather than the free market nostrums of the ultra-right, the figures they have compiled are a staggering indictment of the profit system. They have supplied the data, but only a Marxist perspective can supply the political alternative for the working class.

The massive growth of joblessness, amidst growing social need, is a devastating indictment of the capitalist system. Millions of people need work, yet this vast human potential cannot be mobilized because of the profit motive and the dictatorship of finance capital.

To answer the failure of the capitalist system, the working class must advance a comprehensive, global socialist program, making a direct revolutionary assault on the fundamental causes of the crisis: private ownership of the means of production, and the division of the world into antagonistic nation-states, each dominated by a capitalist elite seeking to maximize its own profits and power.

The working class must take the wealth of society, produced by its labor, into its own hands, by seizing the assets of the giant multinational corporations and placing them in public ownership and under democratic control. The development of the world economy must then proceed on the basis of an international plan, drawn up to produce both rapid economic growth and the abolition of poverty and social misery, raising the living standards of working people all over the world to a decent level.

This program is neither utopian nor farfetched. On the contrary, it is the perspective of continued capitalist depression, social polarization and imperialist war that is unrealistic, even preposterous, from the standpoint of the interests of the vast majority of the human race.

Obama’s Election: The Democrats Need the Unions

April 30th, 2012 by Jack A. Smith

Mitt Romney is the Republican Party’s strongest contender, but President Barack Obama still has a good chance for reelection in November.

 

This is largely because the ultra-right and its antics are alienating a sector of voters who otherwise may have tilted toward the Republicans and will bring to the polls those 2008 Obama supporters who may have stayed home because of disenchantment with the White House record.

Recognizing the conservatives and their Tea Party vanguard have gone too far in openly subverting the needs and security of the American people, Obama has decided to veil his center right political record with progressive populist rhetoric for the remainder of the campaign. He even articulates some Occupy themes — a smart if not entirely convincing stance.

Perhaps the main ingredient in any possible Democratic presidential victory is the labor movement. Without it, Obama’s chances plummet. AFL-CIO, Change to Win and a few independent unions are supplying Democratic candidates with over $400 million this year. Of equal importance, organized labor wants to field an estimated 400,000 campaign workers as well.

For the first time, union members can now ring doorbells in non-union households, which will allow volunteers to reach unprecedented numbers of people. This is one of the only positive aspects of the conservative Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited campaign contributions.

The corporations and Wall Street will provide the Democrats with more money, but they simply cannot field a fraction of labor’s campaign supporters in the streets and on the phones. At the same time, as we shall discuss in Part 2 directly below, the unions not only seek Obama’s reelection but several of them have an equal interest in reaching out independently and joining with social movements in the fight against the 1%. Many of the issues brought up by the Occupy forces and others are long time union issues as well, and the labor movement needs allies.

Of course all the Democratic constituencies will have to turn out in full force at the polls as well. In addition to union members this includes African Americans and Latinos, women, younger voters, college graduates, and a not insignificant sector of the 1% campaign funders.

It’s ironic that during Obama’s first term, with Democrats controlling the House and Senate for two years and then the Senate during the last two, the White House has done little for its main supporters, except those of the power elite. The black community, Obama’s most loyal supporters, was completely neglected despite its desperate economic circumstances and high unemployment. Considerable numbers of younger voters, and others as well, of course, were disillusioned by the contradiction between the president’s strong election promises of “change” and  his weak performance in office.

Many union leaders and members are extremely disappointed by the candidate they worked so hard to elect in 2008. Labor was not only ignored since then; aside from occasional tokens of Democratic support it was actually set back several times during the Obama years.

But when the AFL-CIO General Board voted unanimously to endorse President Obama for re-election March 13, its only reference to the casting aside of workers’ interests was one paragraph in a declaration of over-the-top support for the Democrats. It read:

“Although the labor movement has sometimes differed with the president and often pushed his administration to do more — and do it faster — we have never doubted his commitment to a strong future for working families. With our endorsement today, we affirm our faith in the president. We pledge to work with him through the election and his second term to restore fairness, security and shared prosperity.”

What followed was a series of statements and documents virtually lauding every decision the president made since taking office in January 2009, singling out three for special mention:

• “He took America from the brink of a second Great Depression by pressing Congress to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which saved or created 3.6 million jobs.

• “He championed comprehensive health insurance reform, which — while far from perfect —set the nation on a path toward the health security that had eluded our country for nearly 100 years.

• “He insisted upon Wall Street reform — passed over the objection of almost every Republican. Now, we can finally begin to reverse decades of financial deregulation that put our entire economy at risk.”

Many labor leaders saw through this of course but they are uniting behind Obama to keep the Republicans out of the White House and perhaps make inroads in the right wing-dominated House as well. The destruction of the union movement, after all, is a main objective of the Republican Party.

The unions are much weaker than in past decades. Membership today is down to 11.8%, compared to 35% in 1954. But they remain a huge organization and votes Democratic. The N.Y. Times pointed out recently that in 2008 “white blue-collar men voted for John McCain over Mr. Obama by an 18-point margin, but, in large part because of unions’ politicking, white blue-collar men in unions backed Mr. Obama by a 23-point margin.”

Despite the enthusiastic statement of support, the labor movement has been complaining for well over a year, often in public. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka repeatedly suggested last year that labor wasn’t getting its due and that the unions should seriously consider taking a more independent stance toward the Democrats.

It was expected the key union leaders would silence dissent during the election year, but they have been unable to mask their irritation as the Obama Administration has taken one anti-union step after another in recent weeks and months.

For example, the JOBS bill, passed in mid-April by Congress and signed with enthusiasm by President Obama, doesn’t create jobs. The acronym stands for “Jumpstart Our Business Start- Ups Act,” and it’s a gift to one constituency — the wealthy contributors of Silicon Valley’s tech industry — at the expense of another, the labor movement. The legislation was the creature of  Obama’s corporate-controlled Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  The bill will greatly benefit big business and Wall St.

Trumka, one of the two labor members of the 24-person blue ribbon 1% panel, thundered: “We are disappointed — and angry — that despite warnings from current and former financial markets regulators, law professors, institutional investors and consumer advocates, 73 senators voted for the cynically named ‘JOBS Act’…. This is a vote against investors in the real economy and for Wall Street speculators. When the next bubble bursts, Americans will know who to blame.”

And then there’s the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was engineered in April by President Obama in Colombia and will go into effect May 15. Obama characterized what has been called a “little NAFTA” as a “win-win” for both countries and an expression of support for the besieged Colombian labor movement.  More union organizers have been murdered in Colombia than anywhere else in the world. Two dozen were killed last year alone.

United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard denounced the agreement, charging that it allows the Colombian government to continue “its shameful distinction as the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist.” He suggested Obama’s guarantee about enhanced safety for Colombian union organizers was mistaken. Trumka called the compact “deeply disappointing and troubling.”

Leaders of the Colombian labor movement joined Trumka in this statement: “The underlying trade agreement perpetuates a destructive economic model that expands the rights and privileges of big business and multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, and the environment. The agreement uses a model that has historically benefited a small minority of business interests, while leaving workers, families, and communities behind.”

This is just the latest. In February Congress and Obama approved a bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over union objections. The legislation also weakened bargaining rights for workers in the aviation and rail industries by increasing from 35% to 50% the number of worker signatures required to allow an election for union recognition. It wasn’t even necessary to pass the measure at all. FAA reauthorization has been extended for the last four years by temporary funding, and could have been continued until the labor restrictions were excised.  Labor howled again, to no avail as usual.

In fact Obama has reneged on nearly all his 2008 campaign promises to the unions, such as his pledge to fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would have removed onerous limitations on labor organizing going back many decades. Trade unions have been fighting unsuccessfully for relief the whole time.

The White House also didn’t act on labor’s call for the administration to create 25 million full-time jobs. Obama ignored a promise to hike the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011. He didn’t, as he vowed, renegotiate NAFTA. He strengthened the Patriot Act after insisting in 2008 that he would get rid of it. He didn’t fight for safety and health standards for workers. The White House supports cutbacks in postal services that are strongly opposed by labor.

The list of Democratic dismissals of labor’s priorities — to placate the right wing and satisfy Wall St., corporate and wealthy backers — contains many more examples. And as far as the AFL-CIO’s three favorite Obama moves are concerned — jobs, health insurance and Wall St. reform — they stand as their own refutation. Each of these “victories” was worked out and compromised beforehand in negotiations with insurance companies, corporations and the financial industry.

This is only part of the story. Several key unions are beginning to engage independently with various movements for social change, mainly on economic issues. Labor is hardly united on this matter, but it’s a development worth watching.

(Part 2 forthcoming)

Osama Bin Laden: Everyone Is Missing the Big Picture

April 30th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

Obama and Romney Are Both Ignoring the Real Issue with Killing Bin Laden

The anniversary of Bin Laden’s death is big news.

Obama is bragging about how he whacked Bin Laden, accusing Romney of being too soft to take out bad guys.

Romney supporters accuse Obama of “spiking the football” and inappropriately showing off to score political points.

Both sides are missing the big picture.    Specifically, we noted last year:

I’m as happy as the next red-blooded American that Bin Laden is dead.

For more than a decade, the government has said that Bin Laden is the world’s worst terrorist, a terrorist kingpin, the head of the worst terrorist group in the world.

But if we captured and interrogated him, he could have spilled a lot of beans which would help prevent future terrorist attacks.

Right?

But as the Atlantic reports today:

There’s one option the administration appears to have never seriously considered: taking bin Laden alive.

***

The administration had made clear to the military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive. ***

And Gareth Porter reported yesterday that the U.S. didn’t even consider capturing Bin Laden as part of its Afghanistan war strategy:

The absence of any military planning to catch bin Laden was a function of Bush’s national security team, led by Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, which had firmly opposed any military operation in Afghanistan that would have had any possibility of catching bin Laden and his lieutenants.Rumsfeld and the second-ranking official at the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz, had dismissed CIA warnings of an al Qaeda terrorist attack against the United States in the summer of 2001, and even after 9/11 had continued to question the CIA’s conclusion that bin Laden and al Qaeda were behind the attacks.

Cheney and Rumsfeld were determined not to allow a focus on bin Laden to interfere with their plan for a U.S. invasion of Iraq to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime.

Even after Bush decided in favour of an Afghan campaign, CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks, who was responsible for the war in Afghanistan, was not directed to have a plan for bin Laden’s capture or to block his escape to Pakistan. [Background.]

We tortured a bunch of innocent farmers, children, grandparents and reporters … supposedly to get information about Bin Laden. But it doesn’t seem like the government was very interested in actually interrogating Bin Laden himself.

We pointed out the next day:

The Christian Science Monitor reports today:

Some US military intelligence officials also lament that bin Laden was not taken alive – and privately wonder whether concerns about the political “headaches” involved in trying detainees may have led the Obama administration to favor killing rather than capturing the architect of 9/11.

The opportunity to glean valuable intelligence from the leader of a powerful terrorist organization was lost, says retired Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who interrogated generals under the command of Saddam Hussein and evaluated US detention operations at Guantánamo.

It is a misconception that ideologues don’t talk, he says. “The opinion that, ‘Oh, he’s such a fanatic, he won’t tell us anything’ – that’s uninformed blathering by people who don’t understand the business,” Herrington adds.

The Christian Science Monitor article also confirms that torture doesn’t work to produce actionable intelligence, and points out that even Bin Laden could have been made to talk if other interrogation techniques were used.

***

The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. – Senator Chambliss – says that the executive order stated that Bin Laden should be killed ….

As we noted in 2008, Bin Laden was useful to the U.S. as a prop in the so-called war on terror:

Former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats, a 23-year senior CIA analyst, who “drafted or was involved in many of the government’s most senior assessments of the threats facing our country [and who] devoted years to understanding and combating the jihadist threat”, writes today in the Washington Post that the neocons have whipped us into an irrational fear of the terrorism. In reality, “Osama bin Laden and his disciples are small men and secondary threats whose shadows are made large by our fears” and our leaders.

This is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The BBC produced a documentary called The Power of Nightmares in 2005 that showed that politicians were greatly exaggerating the terrorist threat for political ends.

Indeed, we noted in 2009:

 A United States Congressman claims that the Bush administration intentionally let Bin Laden escape in order to justify the Iraq war.

***

Many people claim that Bin Laden died a long time ago. According to Israeli intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, and other sources, Bin Laden is dead.

According to video experts and and top Bin Laden experts, recent Bin Laden videos are fake.

So if Bin Laden is alive, American leaders have to explain why they have repeatedly chosen not to pull the trigger.

And if he is dead, they have to explain why they are claiming that he’s alive and authenticating his videos.

When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet. Politicians, including presidents, appear on late night comedy shows to do gags and they campaign on issues such as creating a moon colony. “At times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death. It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum.

When the most basic elements that sustain life are reduced to a cash product, life has no intrinsic value. The extinguishing of “primitive” societies, those that were defined by animism and mysticism, those that celebrated ambiguity and mystery, those that respected the centrality of the human imagination, removed the only ideological counterweight to a self-devouring capitalist ideology. Those who held on to pre-modern beliefs, such as Native Americans, who structured themselves around a communal life and self-sacrifice rather than hoarding and wage exploitation, could not be accommodated within the ethic of capitalist exploitation, the cult of the self and the lust for imperial expansion. The prosaic was pitted against the allegorical. And as we race toward the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem we must restore this older vision of life if we are to survive.

The war on the Native Americans, like the wars waged by colonialists around the globe, was waged to eradicate not only a people but a competing ethic. The older form of human community was antithetical and hostile to capitalism, the primacy of the technological state and the demands of empire. This struggle between belief systems was not lost on Marx. “The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx” is a series of observations derived from Marx’s reading of works by historians and anthropologists. He took notes about the traditions, practices, social structure, economic systems and beliefs of numerous indigenous cultures targeted for destruction. Marx noted arcane details about the formation of Native American society, but also that “lands [were] owned by the tribes in common, while tenement-houses [were] owned jointly by their occupants.” He wrote of the Aztecs, “Commune tenure of lands; Life in large households composed of a number of related families.” He went on, “… reasons for believing they practiced communism in living in the household.” Native Americans, especially the Iroquois, provided the governing model for the union of the American colonies, and also proved vital to Marx and Engel’s vision of communism.

Marx, though he placed a naive faith in the power of the state to create his workers’ utopia and discounted important social and cultural forces outside of economics, was acutely aware that something essential to human dignity and independence had been lost with the destruction of pre-modern societies. The Iroquois Council of the Gens, where Indians came together to be heard as ancient Athenians did, was, Marx noted, a “democratic assembly where every adult male and female member had a voice upon all questions brought before it.” Marx lauded the active participation of women in tribal affairs, writing, “The women [were] allowed to express their wishes and opinions through an orator of their own election. Decision given by the Council. Unanimity was a fundamental law of its action among the Iroquois.” European women on the Continent and in the colonies had no equivalent power.

Rebuilding this older vision of community, one based on cooperation rather than exploitation, will be as important to our survival as changing our patterns of consumption, growing food locally and ending our dependence on fossil fuels. The pre-modern societies of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse—although they were not always idyllic and performed acts of cruelty including the mutilation, torture and execution of captives—did not subordinate the sacred to the technical. The deities they worshipped were not outside of or separate from nature.

Seventeenth century European philosophy and the Enlightenment, meanwhile, exalted the separation of human beings from the natural world, a belief also embraced by the Bible. The natural world, along with those pre-modern cultures that lived in harmony with it, was seen by the industrial society of the Enlightenment as worthy only of exploitation. Descartes argued, for example, that the fullest exploitation of matter to any use was the duty of humankind. The wilderness became, in the religious language of the Puritans, satanic. It had to be Christianized and subdued. The implantation of the technical order resulted, as Richard Slotkin writes in “Regeneration Through Violence,” in the primacy of “the western man-on-the-make, the speculator, and the wildcat banker.” Davy Crockett and, later, George Armstrong Custer, Slotkin notes, became “national heroes by defining national aspiration in terms of so many bears destroyed, so much land preempted, so many trees hacked down, so many Indians and Mexicans dead in the dust.”

The demented project of endless capitalist expansion, profligate consumption, senseless exploitation and industrial growth is now imploding. Corporate hustlers are as blind to the ramifications of their self-destructive fury as were Custer, the gold speculators and the railroad magnates. They seized Indian land, killed off its inhabitants, slaughtered the buffalo herds and cut down the forests. Their heirs wage war throughout the Middle East, pollute the seas and water systems, foul the air and soil and gamble with commodities as half the globe sinks into abject poverty and misery. The Book of Revelation defines this single-minded drive for profit as handing over authority to the “beast.”

The conflation of technological advancement with human progress leads to self-worship. Reason makes possible the calculations, science and technological advances of industrial civilization, but reason does not connect us with the forces of life. A society that loses the capacity for the sacred, that lacks the power of human imagination, that cannot practice empathy, ultimately ensures its own destruction. The Native Americans understood there are powers and forces we can never control and must honor. They knew, as did the ancient Greeks, that hubris is the deadliest curse of the human race. This is a lesson that we will probably have to learn for ourselves at the cost of tremendous suffering.

In William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Prospero is stranded on an island where he becomes the undisputed lord and master. He enslaves the primitive “monster” Caliban. He employs the magical sources of power embodied in the spirit Ariel, who is of fire and air. The forces unleashed in the island’s wilderness, Shakespeare knew, could prompt us to good if we had the capacity for self-control and reverence. But it also could push us toward monstrous evil since there are few constraints to thwart plunder, rape, murder, greed and power. Later, Joseph Conrad, in his portraits of the outposts of empire, also would expose the same intoxication with barbarity.

The anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, who in 1846 was “adopted” by the Seneca, one of the tribes belonging to the Iroquois confederation, wrote in “Ancient Society” about social evolution among American Indians. Marx noted approvingly, in his “Ethnological Notebooks,” Morgan’s insistence on the historical and social importance of “imagination, that great faculty so largely contributing to the elevation of mankind.” Imagination, as the Shakespearean scholar Harold C. Goddard pointed out, “is neither the language of nature nor the language of man, but both at once, the medium of communion between the two. … Imagination is the elemental speech in all senses, the first and the last, of primitive man and of the poets.”

All that concerns itself with beauty and truth, with those forces that have the power to transform us, is being steadily extinguished by our corporate state. Art. Education. Literature. Music. Theater. Dance. Poetry. Philosophy. Religion. Journalism. None of these disciplines are worthy in the corporate state of support or compensation. These are pursuits that, even in our universities, are condemned as impractical. But it is only through the impractical, through that which can empower our imagination, that we will be rescued as a species. The prosaic world of news events, the collection of scientific and factual data, stock market statistics and the sterile recording of deeds as history do not permit us to understand the elemental speech of imagination. We will never penetrate the mystery of creation, or the meaning of existence, if we do not recover this older language. Poetry shows a man his soul, Goddard wrote, “as a looking glass does his face.” And it is our souls that the culture of imperialism, business and technology seeks to crush.

Walter Benjamin argued that capitalism is not only a formation “conditioned by religion,” but is an “essentially religious phenomenon,” albeit one that no longer seeks to connect humans with the mysterious forces of life. Capitalism, as Benjamin observed, called on human societies to embark on a ceaseless and futile quest for money and goods. This quest, he warned, perpetuates a culture dominated by guilt, a sense of inadequacy and self-loathing. It enslaves nearly all its adherents through wages, subservience to the commodity culture and debt peonage. The suffering visited on Native Americans, once Western expansion was complete, was soon endured by others, in Cuba, the Philippines, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The final chapter of this sad experiment in human history will see us sacrificed as those on the outer reaches of empire were sacrificed. There is a kind of justice to this. We profited as a nation from this demented vision, we remained passive and silent when we should have denounced the crimes committed in our name, and now that the game is up we all go down together.

Madeleine Albright: “Champion of Democracy.”

April 30th, 2012 by Felicity Arbuthnot

 

There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” (Madeleine Albright, 1937 – )

“That place is reserved for you Madeleine…”

As the anniversary of probably one of the most infamous responses in broadcasting history approaches, the woman who uttered it is shortly to be awarded “the highest honour” that America bestows upon civilians: the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Madeleine Albright, Iraq’s “Grim Reaper”, of course confirmed on “Sixty Minutes” (12th May 1996) that the deaths of half a million children as a result of the absolute, all-embracing deprivations of the UN embargo were: “A hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

 

Her comment also further endorsed the extent to which the United Nations had soiled its own founding affirmation to: “Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war ..” by declaring a new method of warfare, the withdrawal and denial of all life-sustaining necessities. Albright, at the time of her astonishing statement was US Ambassador the UN (1993-1997.).

Ironically, as a child she and her Czech family, her father a diplomat, lived in London during the 1939-’45 war, and whilst there she appeared in a film on the plight of children in war.

In her autobiography, she describes how her experience and knowledge of the horrors and repercussions of war were also shaped by the terrible consequences for a small state when it collides with the ambitions of interests of a big one. Iraq’s twenty five million population and America’s three hundred and fifty million again come to mind.

She enjoined in further heaping misery on Iraq’s most vulnerable as US Secretary of State (1997-2001.) Perhaps, as many, for good or ill, she was shaped by here childhood. When her family returned to Prague after the war, controversy was caused by their being given a home owned by a wealthy German family. Germans were expelled from the country, by Prime Ministerial decree after the war.

At least it was only a house. The government she had served went on to take over – and comprehensively ruin plunder and further impoverish – two countries and their peoples.

For the annals of: “You Could Not Make It Up”, Ms Albright’s current positions include being Co-Chair of the United Nations Development Programme’s Commission for Legal Empowerment of the poor, which: “works to make real improvements in people’s lives (fostering) economic growth, poverty reduction, human development” and making the: “law work for everyone.”

In Sept 2006 she received Menschen in Europe Award for furthering the cause of international understanding. Orwell strikes again.

On 26th April, announcing the thirteen recipients of the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, President Obama commended Madeleine Albright for her efforts to bring peace to the Middle East …. reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, and for her role as a longtime champion of democracy and human rights all over the world.(i)

“These extraordinary honorees (have) challenged us … inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place”, said the President.

The Medal honours those who have significantly contributed to: “world peace.”

Reading this “Adventures of a Heroine” fantasy story, the memories of the Iraqi mothers I have held, their tears mingling with mine, or dampening my shoulder, as they watched helplessly as their children faded away in front of us, for want of medications, denied by Albright’s country and the UN she served, flooded back.

The funerals, with the litany of coffins, so small, the impossibly little grave sites beyond counting, throughout Iraq, witness to unique wickedness.

One cynical blogger, was so incensed that the header read: “Genocidal war criminal wins Presidential Medal whilst invoking Holocaust memories.” (ii.)

But Madam Albright is right on one thing. There is indeed: “a special place in hell, for women who don’t help other women.”

Her Award may yet haunt her to become the ultimate poisoned chalice.

Notes

i. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/26/madeleine-albright-wins-presidential-medal-of-freedom.html

ii. http://thenakedfacts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/genocidal-warcriminal-madeline-albright.html

See also: http://johnpilger.com/videos/paying-the-price-killing-the-children-of-iraq

VIDEO: War Without End: Patriots or Profiteers?

April 30th, 2012 by Global Research

BREWING A CONFLICT WITH CHINA: Provoking a Long-term Cold War…

April 30th, 2012 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Washington has not made it clear what Washington’s stake is in the disputes. The reason Washington cannot identify why China’s disputes with the Philippines and Indonesia are threats to the United States is that there is no reason. Nevertheless, the undefined “threat” has become the reason Washington needs more naval bases in the Philippines and South Korea.

What this is all about is provoking a long-term Cold War conflict with China that will keep profits and power flowing into Washington’s military-security complex. Large profits flow to armaments companies. A portion of the profits reflow into campaign contributions to “the people’s representatives” in DC and to presidential candidates who openly sell out their country to private interests.

Washington is going to construct new naval bases in the Philippines and on the environmentally protected Jeju Island belonging to South Korea. Washington will waste tax revenues, or print more money, in order to build the unnecessary fleets to occupy these bases. Washington is acquiring bases in Australia for US Marines to protect Australia from China, despite the lack of Chinese threats against Australia. Bush and Obama are the leading models of the “people’s president” who sell out the people, at home and abroad, to private interests.

Why is Washington ramping up a new cold war?

The answer begins with President Eisenhower’s warning to the American people in his last public address about the military/industrial complex in 1962. I won’t quote the warning as it is available online. Eisenhower pointed out to Americans that unlike previous wars after which the US demilitarized, after World War II the cold war with the Soviet Union kept the power and profits flowing into the military/industrial complex, now known as the military/security complex. President Eisenhower said that the flow of power and profit into the military/industrial complex was a threat to the economic wellbeing and liberty of the American people.

No one paid any attention, and the military/security complex was glad to be rid of the five-star general war hero president when his second term expired. Thanks to the hype about the “Soviet threat,” the military/security complex faced an unlimited horizon of mounting profits and power as Americans sacrificed their future to the interests of those who protected Americans from the Soviet threat.

The good times rolled for the armaments companies and security agencies for almost three decades until Reagan and Gorbachev reached agreement and ended the cold war. When the Soviet Union subsequently collapsed, the future outlook for the power and profit of the US military/security complex was bleak. The one percent was about to lose its fortunes and the secret government was about to lose its power.

The military/security complex went to work to revive the need for a massive “defense” and “security” budget. Among their willing tools were the neoconservatives, with their French Jacobin ideology and Israeli loyalties. The neocons defined America as the “indispensable people.” Such extraordinary people as Americans must establish hegemony over the world as the sole remaining superpower. As most neoconservatives are allied with Israel, the Muslim Middle East became the target of opportunity.

Muslims are sufficiently different from Westerners that Muslims are easy to demonize. The demonization began in the neoconservative publications. Once Dick Cheney had the George W. Bush regime staffed with neoconservatives, the next step was to create “threats” to Americans out of verbiage about the Taliban’s responsibility for 9/11 and about “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction,” including verbal images from Bush’s National Security Advisor of “mushroom clouds” over US cities.

No one in the US government or the “free” US media or the media of the US puppet states in England, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Australia and South Korea was struck by Washington’s proposition that “the world’s sole superpower” was threatened by the likes of Iraq and Iran, neither of which had any offensive military capability or any modern weapons, according to the unequivocal reports of the weapons inspectors.

What kind of “superpower” is threatened by Iraq and Iran? Certainly, not a real one.

No one seemed to notice that the alleged 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabians, not Afghans or Iraqis, yet it was Afghanistan and Iraq that were labeled “terrorist threats.” Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which do terrorize their subjects, are safe from having America bring them democracy, because they are Washington’s puppets, not independent countries.

As fear of nonentities swept over the population of “the world’s sole superpower,” the demands for war against “America’s enemies”–”you are with us or against us”–swept through the country. “Support the troops” plastic ribbons appeared on American cars. Americans went into a frenzy. The “towel heads” were after us, and we had to fight for our lives or be murdered in our beds, shopping centers, and airliner seats.

It was all a hoax to replace the Soviet threat with the Muslim threat.

The problem that developed with the “Muslim threat” is that in order to keep the profits and power flowing into the military/security complex, the promised six-week war in Iraq had to be extended into 8 years. The war in Afghanistan against a few thousand lightly armed Taliban has persisted for more than a decade, longer than the attempted Red Army occupation of Afghanistan.

In other words, the problem with hot wars is that the need not to win them in order to keep them going (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan are all long-term wars never won) in order that the profits and power continue to flow to the military/security complex demoralizes the US military and creates the world-wide impression that the “world’s sole superpower” cannot even defeat a few thousand insurgents armed with AK-47s, much less a real army.

In Iraq and Afghanistan more US soldiers have died from demoralization and suicides than from combat. In Iraq, the US was humiliated by having to end the war by putting the Sunni insurgents on the US military payroll and paying them to stop killing US troops. In Korea the US was stopped by an army of a backward third world country that lived on rice. What would happen today if the US “superpower’s” militarily confronted China, a country with an economy on which the US is dependent, about equal in size to the US economy, operating on its home territory? The only chance the evil in Washington would have would be nuclear war, which would mean the destruction of the entire world by Washington’s hubris.

Fortunately, profits are more important to Washington than ending life on earth. Therefore, war with China will be avoided, just as it was avoided with the Soviet Union. However, China will be presented by Washington and its prostitute media, especially the New York Times, Washington Post, and Murdoch’s collection of whores, as the rising threat to America. The media story will shift the importance of America’s allies from Europe to countries bordering the South China Sea. American taxpayers’ money, or newly printed money, will flow into the “new alliance against China.”

China’s rise is a great boon to the US military/security complex, which governs america in which there is a pretense of “freedom and democracy.” China is the profitable replacement for the “Soviet threat.” As the days go by, the presstitute media will create in the feeble minds of Americans “The CHINA Threat.”

Soon whatever little remains of the US living standard will be sacrificed to Washington’s confrontation with China, along with the seizure of our pensions and personal savings in order to deter “the China threat.”

If only Americans were an intelligent people. Then they might have some prospect of holding on to their incomes, remaining wealth, and liberty. Unfortunately, Americans are so thoroughly plugged into the Matrix that they present as a doomed people, incapable of thought, reason, or ability to comprehend the facts that the rest of the world sees clearly.

Can reality be brought to the American people? Perhaps a miracle will occur. Stay tuned.

Treaties that gave away the store

As India grapples with the Vodafone and 2G fallout, the Bilateral Investment Treaties it signed a few years ago are coming back to haunt it.

On April 17, British telecom giant Vodafone issued a notice of dispute to the Indian government, as a first step towards launching investment arbitration proceedings under the India-Netherlands Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) signed in 1995.

The telecom company filed the notice through its Dutch subsidiary, Vodafone International Holdings BV, asking the Indian government to abandon or suitably amend the retrospective aspects of the proposed tax legislation under Finance Bill 2012 which allows tax authorities to reopen cases as far back as 1962. Vodafone has termed the retrospective tax proposals “denial of justice” and “a breach of the Indian government’s obligations” as they may allow the Indian authorities to collect Rs11,000 crore ($2.2 bn) in taxes over the company’s $11.2 bn acquisition of Hutchison Essar in 2007.

Growing line of cases

Vodafone’s notice is the latest in the growing line of cases where foreign investors are threatening to invoke international arbitration proceedings against India under the framework of BITs.

On February 28, Russian conglomerate Sistema sent a legal notice to the Republic of India threatening international arbitration proceedings under the India-Russia BIT (1994) if the government fails to settle the dispute related to revocation of its 21 telecom licences in an amicable way by August 28, 2012. The company claims that the cancellation of its licences by the Supreme Court is contrary to India’s obligations under BIT, including obligations to provide investments with full protection and security and obligations not to expropriate investments.

On February 2, the Supreme Court had ordered the cancellation of all 122 spectrum licences issued in January 2008 by the then Telecom Minister A. Raja. Out of these, 21 belonged to SSTL. In its judgment, the Supreme Court declared the allotment of spectrum “unconstitutional and arbitrary” and maintained that Mr. Raja “wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the public exchequer” and “virtually gifted away [an] important national asset.”

Following in the footsteps of Sistema, Norwegian telecom company Telenor also threatened to invoke the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement to protect its investments.

New Delhi has yet to respond to these legal notices. Meanwhile, a recent arbitral tribunal award (White Industries Limited v. Republic of India) should serve as an eye-opener to the government.

In 1989, White Industries Australia Limited (WIAL) entered into a commercial contract with state-owned Coal India Limited (CIL) for supply of equipment and development of a coal mine for the Piparwar Project in Jharkhand. In 1999, however, contractual disputes arose between WIAL and CIL. As per the contract, WIAL demanded payment of its performance bonus while CIL demanded a penalty based on poor quality production and subsequently encashed White’s bank guarantee. The matter went to the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration and hearings began in London. In March 2002, the ICC issued an AU$4 million award in favour of WIAL.

In September 2002, CIL approached the Calcutta High Court challenging the ICC award. Within days, White Industries also approached the Delhi High Court to enforce the award. After WIAL’s appeal to the Calcutta High Court to dismiss CIL’s application was rejected, it moved the Supreme Court. In March 2006, the Delhi High Court stayed the enforcement proceedings. At present, the Supreme Court is hearing WIAL’s appeal and a final decision is awaited.

Incensed by judicial delays over the enforcement of the ICC award, WIAL invoked arbitration against the Government of India in July 2010 under the India-Australia BIT and argued that the delays amounted to a denial of justice in violation of several provisions of the treaty especially fair and equitable treatment (FET), free transfer of funds and expropriation. It also argued that India had failed to provide WIAL with “effective means” of enforcing rights and asserting claims.

It is important to note that the 1999 India-Australia BIT does not contain “effective means” standards or any other obligations dealing with delays in court process. However, this treaty contains the MFN clause which allowed WIAL to import more favourable provisions from other treaties signed by India. Specifically, WIAL drew upon a beneficial provision under Article 4 (5) of the India-Kuwait BIT which obliges India to provide “effective means of asserting claims and enforcing rights with respect to investment.” By relying on the MFN clause, WIAL sought similar level of protection which Kuwaiti investors are given in India.

As per the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) rules, the three-member arbitral tribunal was constituted in July 2010 and hearings began in London. The tribunal passed its award on November 30, 2011. While dismissing WIAL’s allegations on violation of FET, free transfer of funds and expropriation, the tribunal held that the inability of the Indian judicial system to provide WIAL effective means to enforce its rights is a breach of India’s obligations under the India-Australia BIT. The tribunal awarded White Industries AU$4 million with interest.

Whether India will accept or challenge this ruling is still publicly unknown as the authorities have maintained complete silence over the issue. Nevertheless, the ramifications of this BIT award are far-reaching. It may encourage other foreign investors in India to take a similar route and seek compensation from the Indian government for non-implementation of commercial arbitration awards due to judicial delays. Given the fact that delays are endemic in our over-stretched judicial system, foreign investors may prefer to seek investment claims from the Indian government for the potential breach of the “effective means” provisions in the BITs.

Since India has signed over 80 bilateral investment treaties, it may open the floodgates for similar claims by foreign investors and the Indian government may end up paying full compensation.

Further, the BIT award raises an important policy concern: whether Indian courts have the sovereign right to intervene in arbitrations seated outside India.

Since there are conflicts between the treaty’s obligations and legitimate policy objectives, a carefully and well-worded investment treaty could avoid potential disputes. There are myriad policy options available to the Indian authorities when it comes to drafting new treaties or guiding the interpretation of existing ones.

First, India should initiate a comprehensive review of its existing investment treaties since recent cases have shattered the myth that its treaties maintain a fine balance between investor rights, investor responsibilities and regulatory space. Based on the review, India can seek suitable amendments in the existing treaties through bilateral negotiations. Since this process can be time consuming, a notification could immediately be issued by New Delhi giving its interpretation of various standards contained in the treaties. Second, policymakers should not allow investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms under which a foreign investor can initiate an international arbitration against India. In 2011, Australia announced its decision to not include investor-state dispute mechanisms under its trade agreements with the developing countries.

Third, to prevent “treaty shopping” by investors, policymakers could altogether remove the MFN clauses in future treaties or at least prohibit the possibility of importing such clauses from earlier treaties signed by India. Vague and controversial provisions such as national treatment, FET clauses, free transfer of capital, umbrella clauses should preferably be avoided or incorporated with explicit qualifications in the treaty.

Exception clauses

There are some exception clauses (such as national security clauses) which are exempt from the treaty’s obligations. Perhaps the time has come to enlarge the list of exception clauses by incorporating other policy priorities (such as taxation and financial stability) in the treaty.

Fourth, for a more balanced outcome, policymakers should avoid using words such as “creating favourable conditions for investments” in the preamble since it could be interpreted by arbitral tribunals as removing all restrictions in favour of foreign investors.

Fifth, the main objective of treaties should not be investment protection alone. There are legitimate policy objectives (such as sustainable development and financial stability) which should also be incorporated in the treaties. Policymakers should ensure that the state’s power to regulate business activities in the public interest is explicitly mentioned in the treaty’s preambles and other sections. No clauses should be included in the treaty which could bar the state from pursuing regulatory and other measures to pursue legitimate policy goals.

Reuters has recently reported in their article, “U.S. eyes testy China talks, Chen backer expects Chinese decision,” that “religious and political rights advocacy group ChinaAid is the chief source of information about Chen,” referring to Chen Guangcheng, the “blind activist” who has allegedly escaped from house arrest recently and who “activists” claim is being harbored by the United States in their embassy in Beijing

While Reuters alludes to the fact that ChinaAid is “US-based,” it fails to mention that it is in fact funded by the US State Department through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Democracy Digest, NED’s own publication reported in 2011 in their article titled, “‘Extraordinary’ campaign for barefoot lawyer Chen Guangcheng,” that:  “Chen Guangcheng was a recipient in absentia of the National Endowment for Democracy‘s 2008 Democracy Award. ChinaAid and China Digitial Times are NED grantees.”

Both ChinaAid and China Digital Times have been leading the propaganda efforts to grow attention and interest around the Chen Guangcheng “blind activist” case for years and is part of the West’s grander strategy of undermining the Chinese government by disingenuously leveraging “human rights” issues, even as they serially violate, and support the violation of, human rights around the world, most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, and Syria. …

In addition to a general strategy of encircling, containing, and undermining China, this most recent high profile stunt is meant to give the US an advantage ahead of upcoming talks, mentioned in the above Reuters article. China along with Russia has been blocking Western efforts to use the UN as a vehicle to legitimize a war of aggression against Syria and to further isolate Iran. China’s economic policies have also been a source of contention for the West’s ruling banking oligarchs.

It must also be remembered that US policy toward China must be considered within the context of the US State Department’s declared “America’s Pacific Century” policy, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly announced ambitions to reassert American hegemony across Asia and lining up a coalition of Southeast Asian nations against China.

Accusations that the Syrian government is either wholly or mainly responsible for breaches of the United Nations’ ceasefire are meant to provide a pretext for military intervention by the imperialist powers and their proxies.

The US and European media, meanwhile, is acting as a barely concealed propaganda instrument tasked with preparing public opinion for the latest criminal adventure in the Middle East—a war for regime change in Syria to follow those waged in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saturation coverage was given to an explosion in Hama, with “opposition” sources cited to claim that a Scud missile attack had destroyed a building, accompanied by the usual inflated casualty figures. The more believable explanation that the explosion was due to an accident at a building used as a bomb factory was relegated to an aside.

The same holds true of the widespread reporting of “shock footage” of a journalist supposedly being “buried alive” by Syrian troops—a video so obviously staged and badly scripted that even supporters of the opposition have deemed it as a fake.

In contrast, a campaign by the opposition to create the conditions for a military intervention through systematic violations of the cease-fire has been downplayed or portrayed as staged provocations by the regime of Bashir al-Assad.

On Friday, a suicide bomber in Damascus killed 10 people and wounded more than 28 others outside the Zain al-Abideen mosque. Witnesses said a man in military uniform detonated an explosives vest while he was among soldiers that left body parts scattered across the tarmac.

Earlier, a loud blast was heard near a bus station used by pro-Assad militiamen preventing demonstrations in the capital—one of four more minor explosions in Damascus in which four people were wounded.

On Saturday, oppositionists clashed with troops in the coastal town of Burj Islam, close to the presidential summer palace. The intense shooting lasted for 15 to 30 minutes.

On Saturday, oppositionists in dinghies attacked a military unit on the Mediterranean coast, about 30 kilometres from the border with Turkey, leading to the deaths of several members of the Syrian armed forces.

That same day, Lebanon said its navy seized three containers with large quantities of weapons destined for the opposition groups. The Lutfallah II began its voyage from Libya, stopped off in Alexandria in Egypt, and then headed for Tripoli in Lebanon before it was intercepted.

The official statements of the UN, Washington, Paris and Ankara are made as if none of this is taking place.

On Friday, even as reports of the suicide bombing in Damascus were emerging, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon warned that Syria’s government was “in contravention” of the April 12 cease-fire and that Assad’s crackdown has reached an “intolerable stage.”

Ban said the UN would soon beef up its 15 observers in Syria to 300.

Ban’s statement provided the US with another opportunity to declare that Damascus has failed to honour the UN peace plan. On April 28, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the UN peace plan “as a whole is failing…. It remains our assessment that the bulk of the violations of the cease-fire pledge are coming from the regime side.”

The US has in fact said the same thing from day one, threatening on April 21 that it may not even allow the renewal of the UN monitoring mission in Syria after the first three months is up. “Our patience is exhausted,” Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN told the Security Council.

The US has already signalled its intention to move to a military solution. Defence Undersecretary Kathleen Hicks and National Security Council director of strategies Derek Chollet have told the Senate that the UN diplomatic initiative had now reached “the point of collapse”.

The Pentagon has its “plan B” in place, including calling on US troops to set up a security zone along the border between Syria and Turkey. “We are planning various strategies for a vast range of scenarios, including the possibility of helping allies and partners on the frontier zones,” Hicks said April 27.

On April 19, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed that the Pentagon has plans in place for establishing humanitarian corridors in Syria. “Anything that takes out the Assad regime is a step in the right direction,” he said.

The same line is coming from Paris. French president Nicholas Sarkozy was the first Western leader to publicly back humanitarian corridors.

Last week, Foreign Minister Alan Juppé said that it may be necessary for the UN Security Council to consider a resolution authorising the use of force. “We cannot allow the [Damascus] regime to defy us,” he said. If the peace plan fails, “we would have to move to a new stage with a Chapter Seven resolution to stop this tragedy”.

May 5, when former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is set to present his report on the peace process, will be “a moment of truth”, Juppé said. France has been discussing invoking Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows for military action, with other powers, he added.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton threatened to invoke Chapter 7 at the April 18 “Friends of Syria” meeting in Paris.

On Thursday, Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliament, “In the face of developments in Syria, we are taking into consideration any kind of possibility in line with our national security and interests.” This includes setting up a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border that Turkey wants to be policed by NATO.

On April 9, four Syrian refugees and a Turkish policeman and a translator were wounded in the Kilis refugee camp on the 560-mile Turkish-Syrian border. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by threatening to invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, stipulating that an attack against a NATO member is considered an attack against all members.

The Arab states are also ready to line up behind a military attack on Damascus. The head of the Arab League, Nabil el-Arabi, said Arab foreign ministers have asked him to convene a meeting of all the Syrian opposition factions on May 16. On Friday, Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud met with Qatar’s crown prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Riyadh to plan a joint intervention at the meeting.

Regime change in Syria ultimately targets its main regional ally, Iran, as well as the oil and military interests of Russia and China in the region. Tensions are worsening daily as a result.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdolahian, has denounced “The parties who back sending weapons to Syria” as “responsible for killing innocent people.”

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said, “Opposition groups have essentially reverted to waging wide-scale terror in the region.”

On Saturday, during a visit to Moscow, Chinese vice foreign minister Cheng Guoping said that both sides “hold 100 percent coinciding positions on the issues of North Korea and Syria.”

The Year of the Drones – An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2011

1 in 3 Pakistan Drone Strikes and 1 in 7 of all CIA Drone Strikes Kills a Child , More Than 168 Children Killed in America’s Drone War in Pakistan

 

















 



























The Piece of Paper that Killed Bin Laden

April 30th, 2012 by Alexander Abad-Santos

If you can manage to decipher Leon Panetta’s chicken scratch, you too can read the final memo that launched the raid that killed America’s most hated enemy.  The memo is part of Peter Bergen’s Time cover story on Osama bin Laden’s last days and Obama’s call to go ahead, despite Joe Biden and Robert Gates’ disapproval, with the Navy SEAL raid on bin Laden’s Abottabad complex.  Here’s the memo:

And Time has gone through the trouble of transcribing Panetta’s penmanship:

Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault. The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.
 

If Admiral McRaven’s name is a little bit familiar, you may be a follower of The Washington Post‘s Karen Tumulty (who, it’s worth mentioning, was a longtime Time staffer), who recently humble-bragged on Twitter that, “My [White House Correspondents Dinner] guest this year is my 5th-grade classmate, Bill McRaven. He was too busy to go last year.” Tumulty links to a profile of her elementary school classmate headlined Adm. William McRaven: The terrorist hunter on whose shoulders Osama bin Laden raid rested. Okay, so he’s a pretty cool date for Nerd Prom.

For the full story on bin Laden, head over to Time

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on the 2nd day of South Sudan’s formation that he hopes it joins the British Commonwealth. Britain seems to have expanded its role in South Sudan from an initially claimed humanitarian one to military sabotage along northern borders with Sudan amid fears that London is plotting another oil war.

The Foreign Office confirmed on Sunday that a British national has been arrested by Sudan’s security forces along its oil-rich Heglig border area with South Sudan.

Sudan’s army spokesman Colonel Sawarmi Khalid said the Briton was part of a team of four including Norwegian, South African and South Sudanese nationals who were equipped with military hardware and an armored vehicle.

Heglig was captured by South Sudan forces earlier this month but Sudanese forces later retook the strategic area.

London has repeatedly expressed support for South Sudan since its secession from Sudan in July 2011 but it has claimed the support remains within humanitarian frameworks.

At the time of Heglig’s capture by the South, Sudanese government said “foreigners” were involved in the operation.

Now it appears that they were right and Britain is delivering more than humanitarian aid to the south.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said one day after South Sudan’s independence that London will support the new republic and expressed “optimism” for its future.

Hague indirectly pointed to London’s awareness of South Sudan’s massive wealth of resources.

“Sudan has good economic prospects with its abundant mineral wealth and huge potential in agriculture and forestry. Africa as a whole has three fifths of the world’s uncultivated arable land, a fifth of the world’s copper and half of the world’s gold… So the UK will focus on helping South Sudan build its private sector, boost revenues and the economy and trade with its neighbors,” he wrote in an article for Huffington Post on July 11,2011.

But he included another hint in his article that — one tends to believe – becomes clear in the context of the recent detention of the British national in Heglig area of Sudan.

Hague said in his article that Britain will support South Sudan as it joins the community of nations including “the Commonwealth.”

The suggestion was shocking as the Commonwealth is a euphemism that replaced ‘colonies’ back in 1960’s when the British empire was on its last days and talking of South Sudan as a new colony in the 21st century is hardly fit.

In that context, the revelation that Britain is operating military elements in the border area of South Sudan can at best suggest London is looking at the disputed Heglig oil fields as a rich opportunity for its oil industry.

But considering the fact that Sudan and South Sudan are on the brink of full-scale war over the oil fields, another scenario seems more likely.

Britain is plotting for long-term military presence in the resource-rich South Sudan under the pretext of helping it in the ‘war’ with the north.

That scenario, of course, will bring the mentioned opportunities for British oil businesses while providing a ripe market for British weapons as London tightens its grip on South Sudan’s huge natural resources.

NSARCHIVE Digest – 26 Apr 2012 to 27 Apr 2012 (#2012-14)

Table of contents:

  1. New Documents Spotlight Reagan-era Tensions over Early Pakistani Nuclear Program

Browse the NSARCHIVE online archives.

New Documents Spotlight Reagan-era Tensions over Early Pakistani Nuclear Program

Perceptions that General Zia Had “Lied” About Pakistani Nuclear Activities Raised Conflicts with U.S. Afghanistan Priority

General Vernon Walters: Zia May Be “The Most Superb and Patriotic Liar I Have Ever Met”

Reagan Administration Supported Sale of F-16s with Advanced Radar Technology on Nonproliferation Grounds Despite CIA Warnings that Pakistan Would Share it with China

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 377

For more information contact:
William Burr – 202/994-7000 or [email protected]

http://www.nsarchive.org

Washington, D.C., April 27, 2012 — Tensions between the United States and Pakistan rose through the 1980s over intelligence reports that suggested to U.S. officials that Pakistani leader Zia ul-Haq had repeatedly lied to them about his country’s nuclear program, according to recently declassified records obtained by the National Security Archive. Zia’s apparent mendacity posed an immediate challenge to U.S. nonproliferation goals, but also threatened the even higher priority of providing aid to Islamabad and to the Mujahedin resistance fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Concerned by the Pakistani nuclear program, in July 1982, the Reagan administration sent former CIA deputy director General Vernon Walters to meet secretly with Pakistani dictator General Zia. U.S. intelligence had detected an upswing of clandestine Pakistani efforts to procure nuclear weapons-related technology and unwanted publicity could jeopardize U.S. government economic and military aid to Pakistan, a key partner in the secret war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

According to documents published today for the first time by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Walters told Zia that Washington had “incontrovertible intelligence” that Pakistani representatives had “transferred designs and specifications for nuclear weapons components to purchasing agents in several countries for the purpose of having these nuclear weapons components fabricated for Pakistan.”

Confronted with the evidence, Zia acknowledged that the information “must be true,” but then denied everything, leading Walters to conclude that either Zia “did not know the facts” or was the “most superb and patriotic liar I have ever met.”  While Zia restated earlier promises not to develop a nuclear weapon and made pledges to avoid specific nuclear “firebreaks,” officials from Secretary of State George Shultz on down would conclude time and time again, that Zia was breaking his word.

In 1986, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director Kenneth Adelman wrote in a memorandum to the White House that Zia “has lied to us again,” and warned that failure to act would lead the General to conclude that he can “lie to us with impunity.” While the Reagan administration was concerned about nuclear proliferation, it gave a greater priority to securing aid to Pakistan so it could support the Afghan anti-Soviet insurgency. The White House and the State Department leadership hoped that building a strong bilateral relationship would dissuade Pakistan from building nuclear weapons.

Top levels of the U.S. government let relations with a friendly government supersede nonproliferation goals as long as there was no public controversy that could “embarrass” the President the documents show. Indeed, Reagan administration officials feared that if the Pakistanis had told them the “truth” about the purpose and scope of their nuclear activities, it would have made it impossible for the administration to certify to Congress that Pakistan was not developing nuclear weapons. On that certification rode the continued flow of aid to assist the Afghanistan resistance. For the sake of that aid, senior Reagan administration officials gave Pakistan much slack by obscuring its nuclear activities, but that they wrote about lying and “breaking … assurances” suggests that lack of trust and confidence was an important element in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as it is today.

Among the disclosures in today’s publication:

* By the early summer of 1981, State Department intelligence estimated that the Pakistanis were “probably capable of producing a workable device at this time,” although the Kahuta enrichment plant was unlikely to produce enough fissile material for a test until 1983.

* A few months later, U.S. officials began to worry that India might take preventive action against the Pakistani nuclear program, especially because Pakistan was slated to acquire F-16 fighter-bombers from the U.S. That prospective sale troubled Indian leaders because a nuclear Pakistan with advanced fighter bombers would be a more formidable adversary.

* During the spring of 1982 U.S. diplomats and intelligence collectors found that Pakistani agents were trying to acquire “fabricated shapes” (metal hemispheres for producing nuclear explosive devices) and other sensitive technology for a nuclear program. Suggesting that Pakistan was starting to cross the line by building a nuclear weapon, these discoveries contributed to the decision to send former CIA deputy director Vernon Walters to meet secretly with General Zia in July and October 1982.

* During Walters’ October 1982 visit, Zia told him of his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd who had told him that agents from an unspecified country had attempted to sell him a nuclear device for $250 million. Zia advised Fahd not to “touch the offer with a barge pole.”

* A controversial element in the F-16 sale was whether the U.S. would comply with Pakistani requests that it include the same radar system as the most advanced U.S. model. While top CIA officials warned that the Pakistanis were likely to share the technology with China, Secretary of State George Shultz and other officials believed, ironically, that denying Pakistani requests would make that country less responsive to U.S. nonproliferation goals.

* With Pakistan’s efforts to acquire sensitive technology continuing, in December 1982 Secretary of State Shultz warned President Reagan of the “overwhelming evidence that Zia has been breaking his assurances.” He also expressed concern that Pakistan would make sensitive nuclear technology available to “unstable Arab countries.”

* In June 1986 ACDA director Kenneth Adelman wrote that Zia has “lied to us again” about violations of agreements not to produce highly-enriched uranium above a five-percent level. If Washington did not apply real pressure it would reinforce Zia’s belief “that he can lie to us with impunity.”

* In the spring of 1987, senior State Department officials wrote that Pakistani nuclear development activities were proceeding apace and that General Zia was approaching a “threshold which he cannot cross without blatantly violating his pledge not to embarrass the President.”

This is the third in a series of Electronic Briefing Books on U.S. policy toward the Pakistani nuclear program. The first was on the Carter administration’s http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb333/index.htm policy; the second was on the efforts to work with allies to prevent the export of sensitive technology http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb352/index.htm to Pakistan. The National Security Archive has filed numerous declassification requests to U.S. government agencies on important developments during the 1970s, 80s, and early 1990s, and as significant material becomes declassified the Archive and the NPIHP will update this series of EBBs.

Check out today’s posting at the National Security Archive website – http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb377/

Find us on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/NSArchive

Unredacted, the Archive blog – http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/

________________________________________________________
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

On April 26, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the draconian Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523 or CISPA) by a vote of 248-168, with 206 Republicans and 42 Democrats voting in favor.

If the legislation passes muster in the Senate and is signed by President Obama (who has threatened a veto, but don’t hold your breath), it would allow private firms–internet service providers (ISPs), telecoms and wireless providers–to hand over personal information about users to law enforcement and security agencies.

This unprecedented power-grab by a cabal of giant corporations and the federal government would take place under the guise of “cybersecurity,” the latest front in the secret state’s assault on Americans’ civil liberties and privacy rights.

While the bill’s sponsors and supporters claim that any “information-sharing” of personal data would be “voluntary,” it would occur without benefit of a warrant or a court order and automatically “exempts such information from public disclosure.”

Denouncing the bill, the ACLU’s Michelle Richardson said that CISPA’s “biggest and most fundamental flaw” is that it empowers “the military, including agencies like the NSA, to collect the internet records of Americans’ everyday internet use.”

CISPA is the latest in a series of repressive measures that have incrementally rolled-back the Bill of Rights since 1995’s Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 terrorist provocations. Under successive Democratic and Republican administrations fundamental constitutional protections, specifically those guaranteed by the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, have been gutted.

Beginning with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), which severely limited the rights of prisoners to obtain habeas corpus relief from federal courts, 2001’s Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which handed the Executive Branch carte blanche to wage endless, undeclared wars, and now the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), which empowers the President to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison anyone, anywhere in the world declared a “terrorist,” including American citizens detained on U.S. soil, without charge or trial, the architecture of a police state is firmly in place.

“In the past decade,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Trevor Timm averred, “the amorphous phrase ‘national security’ has invaded many arenas of government action, and has been used to justify much activity that did not involve legitimate terrorist threats. The most obvious (and odious) example is the unfortunately named USA-PATRIOT Act, a law that was sold to the American public as essential to combating terrorism, but which has overwhelmingly been applied to ordinary American citizens never even suspected of terrorism.”

Citing the example of the FBI, Timm pointed out that under the rubric of “stopping terrorism” the Bureau “issued more than 192,000 National Security Letters to get Americans’ business, phone or Internet records without a warrant. These invasive letters–which come with a gag order on the recipient so they can’t even admit they received one–have been used to gather information about untold number of ordinary citizens, including journalists.”

Indeed, “‘Information sharing’–CISPA’s mantra–has also created privacy nightmares for everyday Americans in the name of national security. The federal government routinely shares its massive national security databases with local law enforcement agencies with predictable results.”

Amongst CISPA’s controversial provisions, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Obergruppenführer of America’s 16-agency Intelligence Community, “shall issue guidelines providing that the head of an element of the intelligence community may, as the head of such element considers necessary to carry out this subsection: (A) grant a security clearance on a temporary or permanent basis to an employee or officer of a certified entity; (B) grant a security clearance on a temporary or permanent basis to a certified entity and approval to use appropriate facilities; and (C) expedite the security clearance process for a person or entity as the head of such element considers necessary, consistent with the need to protect the national security of the United States.”

Under “Definitions,” (1) a “certified entity” is described as a “protected entity, self-protected entity, or cybersecurity provider that–(A) possesses or is eligible to obtain a security clearance, as determined by the Director of National Intelligence; and (B) is able to demonstrate to the Director of National Intelligence that such provider or such entity can appropriately protect classified cyber threat intelligence.”

“(2) The term ‘cyber threat information’ means information directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from–(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information. (3) Cyber threat intelligence.–The term ‘cyber threat intelligence’ means information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from–(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.”

According to this reading, a “certified entity” is any one of the thousands of über-secretive “cybersecurity firms” with their stable of “cleared” employees who hold top secret and above security clearances who rely upon and do the bidding of their masters–corporate shareholders and the federal government.

The bill’s draconian language would in essence transform investigative journalism and whistleblowing into a crime since “the theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information” is precisely the meat and potatoes used by journalists and outraged citizens to uncover corporate and government lawbreaking.

Indeed under CISPA, the employees of firms such as the ultra-spooky Endgame Systems, SAIC, Lockheed Martin, or General Dynamics, the designers of “boutique cyber weapons” for the government as BusinessWeek disclosed last summer, would ply their dirty trade in destructive algorithmic weapons with more than a wink-and-a-nod: they would be empowered to do so and earn big bucks (courtesy of U.S. taxpayers) in the process!

To get a sense of some of the surveillance “products” which have transformed private data into weaponized kit for the secret state, readers are well-advised to peruse The Spyfiles published last December by the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks.

“In the last ten years,” WikiLeaks informed us, “systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market.”

To cite but one example culled from The Spyfiles, NICE Systems, founded by “retired” members of Israel’s equivalent of the National Security Agency, Unit 8200, has become a key player in the global Surveillance-Industrial Complex.

With decades of experience surveilling, tracking and repressing Palestinian and left-wing activists at home and abroad, the NiceTrack Mass Detection Center is a perfect tool that provides “nationwide interception, monitoring and analysis” to enterprising securocrats who need a leg-up on home-grown “subversive elements.”

Accordingly, the Mass Detection Center “helps intelligence organizations and national security agencies fight terrorism and reduce national threat levels. It supports both mass and target monitoring workflows and helps operators and analysts find new suspects, generate new leads and monitor existing targets.” Indeed, the software suite “stores and analyzes all types of telephony and Internet content.” We’re informed that “collecting and storing nationwide data enables broadening the scope of target information and performing on-going and post-event investigations.”

NiceTrack Target 360° according to brochures published by WikiLeaks “is the leading communication intercept system for tracking, monitoring, and investigating targets’ activities, securing 1.5 billion people worldwide.” Indeed, “the system is designed to provide Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), intelligence organizations and SIGINT agencies with hermetic 360° target monitoring by collecting, processing, retaining and analyzing any type of communication activity.”

Amongst the product’s “Key Benefits” we learn that Target 360° can “help” law enforcement “reduce crime, prevent terrorism” and “identify other security threats” by providing “persistent situation awareness” of a “target” through “advanced IP monitoring,” “open source intelligence” and “lawful hacking.”

Additionally, Target 360° can “manage and efficiently structure millions of internet activities and unstructured data into a simple and meaningful intelligence picture.” Target 360° “is designed to handle all types of Web 2.0 internet applications, including Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, forums, chats, and e-mails, and is scalable to support new services” and can “be integrated with legacy systems for telephony and mobile interception and provide a comprehensive solution for all types of communication interception.”

As numerous critics and journalists have pointed out, the privatization of the government’s intelligence and security functions, theoretically transparent under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), would, under CISPA, fall under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) where “disclosure” is little more than a euphemism for “down the memory hole.”

In all likelihood, privatized spooks would be exempt from revealing the state’s blanket surveillance of its citizens under any number of provisions built into the Freedom of Information Act.

For example under section (b)(1), the secret state can prevent “disclosure [of] national security information concerning the national defense or foreign policy, provided that it has been properly classified in accordance with the substantive and procedural requirements of an executive order.”

Can you say “state secrets privilege,” Sibel Edmonds or Thomas Drake?

Since, an “an employee or officer of a certified entity,” i.e., a private contractor, telecom or ISP will be empowered by Congress to share user information with NSA and other departments of the federal government, such information “shall be considered proprietary information and shall not be disclosed to an entity outside of the Federal Government except as authorized by the entity sharing such information.”

Under CISPA it will be virtually impossible for the average citizen to learn whether they have been spied upon since Section (b)(4) of FOIA specifically protects “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential. This exemption is intended to protect the interest of both the government and submitter of information.”

And once an “employee or officer of a certified entity” has been “read into” a CIA, FBI, DHS or NSA black program, they are automatically exempt from disclosing such information to a lawful court since CISPA “prohibits a civil or criminal cause of action against a protected entity, a self-protected entity (an entity that provides goods or services for cybersecurity purposes to itself), or a cybersecurity provider acting in good faith under the above circumstances.”

With CISPA, official lawbreaking is automatically precluded from review by a lawful court and the average citizen, who may have lost their job because of malicious or flawed data collected by a “certified entity” will be stripped of their ability to obtain compensation from deputized cyber snoops “acting in good faith.”

Most controversially perhaps, the statute reads: “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” companies can share information “with any other entity, including the federal government.”

As CNET News analyst Declan McCullagh pointed out, “By including the word ‘notwithstanding,’ House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) intended to make CISPA trump all existing federal and state civil and criminal laws.”

Indeed, by inserting the word “notwithstanding” into the legislation, it “would trump wiretap laws, Web companies’ privacy policies, gun laws, educational record laws, census data, medical records, and other statutes that protect information,” McCullagh wrote.

As noted above, “CISPA’s authorization for information sharing extends far beyond Web companies and social networks. It would also apply to Internet service providers, including ones that already have an intimate relationship with Washington officialdom,” CNET reported.

“Large companies including AT&T and Verizon handed billions of customer records to the NSA; only Qwest refused to participate,” McCullagh reminded us. “Verizon turned over customer data to the FBI without court orders. An AT&T whistleblower accused the company of illegally opening its network to the NSA, a practice that the U.S. Congress retroactively made legal in 2008.”

What’s to prevent firms such as Google, Facebook or Twitter from turning over our private data to the government, after all, they have their customers’ best interests at heart as part of their business model, right? Better think again!

The New York Times reported Sunday that that “Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.”

That report, prepared by the Federal Communications Commission “draws a portrait of a company where an engineer can easily embark on a project to gather personal e-mails and Web searches of potentially hundreds of millions of people as part of his or her unscheduled work time, and where privacy concerns are shrugged off.”

“As early as 2007,” the Times disclosed, “Street View engineers had ‘wide access’ to the plan to collect payload data. Five engineers tested the Street View code, a sixth reviewed it line by line, and a seventh also worked on it, the report says.”

“Google’s rogue engineer scenario collapses in light of the fact that others were aware of the project and did not object,” Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the Times. “This is what happens in the absence of enforcement and the absence of regulation.”

Such practices will be infinitely worse under CISPA. Google’s harvesting of their customers’ private data or Facebook’s routine cooperation with law enforcement “requests” for users’ information could in fact be turned over whenever an intelligence agency declares that doing so is in the interest of national- or cybersecurity and we would have no way of ever learning about it since harvested emails, web searches and stored profiles could be deemed “proprietary information.”

With a ginned-up panic over “cybersecurity” taking its place alongside imperialism’s other “wars” on “terror,” “drugs” and “crime,” the secret state’s “unprecedented attacks on democratic rights, in which the entire political establishment and both Democrats and Republicans are participating,” as the World Socialist Web Site warned, “must be understood as preemptive preparations by the political establishment to meet the coming social upheavals with police state measures.”

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

The Rockefeller Foundation was the principle source for funding public opinion and psychological warfare research between the late 1930s and the end of World War Two. With limited government and corporate interest or support of propaganda-related studies, most of the money for such research came from this powerful organization that recognized the importance of ascertaining and steering public opinion in the immediate prewar years.

Rockefeller philanthropic attention toward public opinion was twofold: 1) to review and establish the psychological environment in the United States for anticipated US involvement in the coming world war and 2) to wage psychological warfare and suppress popular dissent in foreign countries, particularly Latin America. Recognizing how the Franklin Roosevelt Administration was bogged down politically and less capable of planning for war in terms of domestic and foreign propaganda efforts, Rockefeller Foundation-funded projects and research institutes were established at Princeton University, Stanford University, and the New School for Social Research to monitor and analyze shortwave radio transmissions from abroad.

The “founding fathers” of mass communication research could not have established their field without Rockefeller largesse. Alongside World War One propagandist and University of Chicago political scientist Harold Lasswell, psychologist Hadley Cantril was a principal contributor to the knowledge and information that helped propel Rockefeller-controlled enterprises and American empire in the postwar era. Throughout this period Cantril provided the Rockefeller combine with important information and new techniques in public opinion measurement and management in Europe, Latin American, and the United States.

A roommate of Nelson Rockefeller’s at Dartmouth College in the late 1920s, Cantril took a doctorate in psychology at Harvard, coauthoring The Psychology of Radio with his doctoral mentor Gordon Allport in 1935. “Radio is an altogether novel medium of communication,” Cantril and Allport observed, “preeminent as a means of social control and epochal in its influence upon the mental horizons of men.”

The work garnered the attention of Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Division officer John Marshall, commissioned by the Foundation with convincing commercial broadcasters to include more educational programming into their advertiser-driven schedules. To this end Rockefeller was funding fellowships at the CBS and NBC broadcasting networks.

Aware of the Dartmouth connection, Marshall encouraged the enterprising Cantril to apply to the Foundation for support. Cantril’s request resulted in a $67,000 grant for a two-year charter of the “Princeton Radio Project” (PRP) at Princeton University. There Cantril proceeded to develop studies assessing radio’s effects on audiences. In 1938 Cantril also became a founding editor of the Rockefeller Foundation-funded Public Opinion Quarterly, an organ closely associated with US government’s psychological warfare endeavors following World War Two.

When the Princeton venture commenced another trained psychologist close to Rockefeller, CBS Director of Research Frank Stanton, was named PRP lead researcher but took a secondary role of Associate Director due to his position at the broadcast network. At this time Austrian émigré social scientist Paul Lazarsfeld was recruited to join Cantril. Thus Cantril, Stanton, and Lazarsfeld were closely affiliated and ideally positioned to embark on a major study involving public opinion and persuasion.

The opportunity for such an analysis presented itself when CBS broadcast Orson Welles’ rendering of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds on on October 30, 1938. Lazarsfeld saw the event as especially noteworthy and immediately asked Stanton for CBS funds to investigate reaction to what at the time was the largest immediate act of mass persuasion in human history. Over the next several months interviews with War of the Worlds listeners were collected, provided to Stanton at CBS, and subsequently analyzed in Cantril’s 1940 study, The Invasion From Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic.

Pointing to the dearth of “basic information on its formation and operation”, the Foundation thereafter developed an even more concerted interest in understanding public opinion during wartime. “The war in Europe”, the Foundation’s 1939 Report asserted, “has given this country an unusual opportunity for studying the development of public opinion, the changes which opinion undergoes under varying conditions, and the reasons for change.”

Appointing Cantril to the task of revisiting several years of polling and interview data, the Foundation’s leadership concluded that the project

would supply essential facts on the formation and trend of opinion from peace to war time and from one stage to another under the force of successive war crises. It is expected that further analysis of the data will demonstrate the influence of such factors as family relationship, educational experience, and occupation; the group origins of reported intensity of opinion or apparent lack of it on many issues.

Thus as the US entry into World War Two approached, Rockefeller provided $15,000 to Princeton for establishment of the Office of Public Opinion Research. A primary objective of OPOR was to systematically examine how public opinion is forged, the motivating factors behind mass public sentiment toward certain ends and, in Cantril’s words, “follow[ing] the course of American public opinion during the war that had already started in Europe in which I felt the United States would soon be involved.”

In 1940, the Foundation increased the amount of funding devoted to research on public opinion and mass communication to $65,000, with $20,000 apportioned to continuing Cantril’s OPOR. In addition, a $25,000 grant was given to Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs for monitoring and assessing European shortwave radio transmissions, and $20,000 for University of Chicago political scientist Harold Lasswell to launch an institute at the Library of Congress “for more general studies of radio transmissions, the press, and other media.” A similar shortwave monitoring station was set up at Stanford University to assess transmissions from Asia.

Cantril succeeded in predicting voting behavior on important referendums through covert sampling procedures in both the US and Canada. Such achievements brought the young psychologist to the renewed attention of old school tie Nelson Rockefeller, who at the time was a close associate of Franklin Roosevelt. Rockefeller oversaw the State Department’s Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs office, a US intelligence arm focused mainly on psychological operations in Latin America. Given the American public’s apprehension toward propaganda, titles like the one afforded Rockefeller’s agency were intended to obscure such undertakings.

A foremost concern of Rockefeller was ascertaining public opinion in South America in anticipation of extending Rockefeller banking and oil interests in the region. In Rockefeller’s view, no longer would power be determined by military control over colonies, but rather through the exertion of “soft power”, where the understanding and anticipation of public opinion figured centrally. To this end in the early 1940s Rockefeller helped Cantril and public opinion impresario George Gallup establish American Social Surveys, an ostensibly non-profit entity that carefully assessed public opinion throughout South America.

In 1942 Cantril also began The Research Council, Inc. with initial funding from advertising tycoon Gerard Lambert. Housed at Princeton, the Research Council embarked on a nationwide survey mechanism to monitor public opinion in the US during wartime and in anticipation of the postwar environment. With Nelson Rockefeller acting as intermediary, Roosevelt closely consulted Cantril’s findings in crafting his speeches during the war. The Research Council proceeded to carry out projects for the Psychological Warfare Branch of Military Intelligence in North Africa, the Department of State on US attitudes toward foreign affairs, and the Office of Strategic Services on public opinion in Germany.

Cantril’s Research Council continued its activities for US interests in the postwar period, measuring public opinion in France, Holland and Italy to anticipate and quash popular political and social movements. It was later revealed that for much of its existence the Research Council was being funded by the Central Intelligence Agency via the Rockefeller Foundation, a technique often employed by Rockefeller to support a variety of covert projects.

Nelson Rockefeller was so delighted with Cantril’s continued public opinion analyses 0f European countries that while working as a psychological warfare consultant for President Eisenhower in 1955, he offered the researcher and his associate Lloyd Free with lifetime patronage of $1 million to continue providing such information. “Nelson had always been a great believer in utilizing psychological concepts and tools for the understanding of peoples”, Cantril recalls. With the formidable sum, revealed two decades later in the New York Times to have actually originated from the CIA by way of the Rockefeller Foundation, the researchers founded a nonprofit entity, the Institute for International Social Research, with Rockefeller slated as one of its distinguished trustees.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s interest in domestic persuasion continued apace throughout the war. Between 1938 and 1944, for example, the organization directed a total $250,000 to produce educational and documentary films through the American Film Center. By the late 1940s Foundation officials had developed an even more pronounced interest in opinion management. As the Foundation’s 1948 report read, “An understanding of communication and attitude change is important to our educational system, to those who lead great organizations, and to those who are concerned with political opinion and behavior.” Toward this end the Rockefeller Foundation devoted an unprecedented amount of funding to psychological warfare research. In 1954, for example, a $200,000 grant went to support Yale psychologist Carl Hovland’s attitude change and persuasion studies.

Yet with the Cold War as a backdrop such work was increasingly funded by the US military where often the same social scientific talent was tapped that had been groomed under Rockefeller aegis. As historian Christopher Simpson observes, in the postwar era government funding now accounted for at least 75 percent of Lazarsfeld’s Bureau of Applied Social Research and Columbia University and Cantril’s Institute for International Social Research at Princeton.

In accord with the more far-reaching educational and social scientific efforts the Rockefeller Foundation saw fit to develop, the elite class to which the Rockefeller family belongs has traditionally failed to distinguish between domestic or foreign subjects as targets for propaganda and behavioral modification. From a perspective that often recognizes national boundaries as obstacles to expanding a certain agenda of political-economic power and control, all are equally subject to similar designs of manipulation and persuasion and the often unwitting acquiescence they cultivate.

One need look no further than the legacy of supporting certain philosophical and pedagogical approaches to US public education from the early 1900s that has resulted in a vast reduction of the quality and scope of educational institutions to recognize how the Rockefeller interest in psychological warfare is but a chapter of a much larger saga. This holds true as well in terms of the Rockefellers’ broader philanthropic activities, which from the days of mollifying an outraged citizenry following the Ludlow massacre and John D. Rockefeller’s famous dime dole outs have constituted a thoroughgoing and carefully coordinated exercise in impression management.

James F. Tracy is professor of media studies at Florida Atlantic University.

References

Cantril, Hadley and Gordon Allport. 1935. The Psychology of Radio. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.

Cantril, Hadley. 1940. The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

—. 1967. The Human Dimension: Experiences in Policy Research. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Cramer, Gisela. 2009. “The Rockefeller Foundation and Pan-American Radio”, in William J. Buxton (ed.) Patronizing the Public: American Philanthropy’s Transformation of Culture, Communication and the Humanities, pp. 77-99, Lanham MD: Lexington Books.

Engdahl, F. William. 2009. Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century. Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive Press.

Gary, Brett. 1999. Propaganda Anxieties From World War I to the Cold War, New York: Columbia University Press.

Glander, Timothy R. 1999. Origins of Mass Communication Research During the American Cold War: Educational Effects and Contemporary Implications. New York: Routledge.

Lazarsfeld, Paul F. 1969. “An Episode in the History of Social Research: A Memoir”, in Donald Fleming and Bernard Bailyn (eds.) The Intellectual Migration: Europe and America, 1930-1960, pp. 270-337. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Maessen, Jurriaan. 2012. “Documents Reveal Rockefeller Foundation Actively Engaged in Mass Mind-Control”, Infowars.com, 4 March, http://www.infowars.com/documents-reveal-rockefeller-foundation-actively-engaged-in-mass-mind-control/

Pooley, Jefferson. 2008. “The New History of Mass Communication Research”, in Jefferson Pooley and David W. Park (eds.) The History of Media and Communication Research: Contested Memories, pp. 43-69. New York: Peter Lang.

Rockefeller Foundation Annual Report – 1939. New York: Rockefeller Foundation. http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/about-us/annual-reports/1930-1939

Rockefeller Foundation Annual Report – 1940. New York: Rockefeller Foundation. http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/about-us/annual-reports/1940-1949

Simpson, Christopher. 1993. Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare, 1945-1960. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shaplen, Robert and Arthur Bernon Tourtellot (eds.). 1964. Toward the Well Being of Mankind: Fifty Years of the Rockefeller Foundation. Garden City NY: Doubleday & Company.

Is there any truth in the allegations that informed circles made substantial profits in the financial markets in connection to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, on the United States?

Arguably, the best place to start is by examining put options, which occurred around Tuesday, September 11, 2001, to an abnormal extent, and at the beginning via software that played a key role: the Prosecutor’s Management Information System, abbreviated as PROMIS. [i]

PROMIS is a software program that seems to be fitted with almost “magical” abilities. Furthermore, it is the subject of a decades-long dispute between its inventor, Bill Hamilton, and various people/institutions associated with intelligence agencies, military and security consultancy firms. [1]

One of the “magical” capabilities of PROMIS, one has to assume, is that it is equipped with artificial intelligence and was apparently from the outset “able to simultaneously read and integrate any number of different computer programs or databases, regardless of the language in which the original programs had been written or the operating systems and platforms on which that database was then currently installed.” [2]

And then it becomes really interesting:

What would you do if you possessed software that could think, understand every major language in the world, that provided peep-holes into everyone else’s computer “dressing rooms”, that could insert data into computers without people’s knowledge, that could fill in blanks beyond human reasoning, and also predict what people do – before they did it? You would probably use it, wouldn’t you? [3]

Granted, these capabilities sound hardly believable. In fact, the whole story of PROMIS, which Mike Ruppert develops in the course of his book Crossing the Rubicon in all its bizarre facets and turns, seems as if someone had developed a novel in the style of Philip K Dick and William Gibson. However, what Ruppert has collected about PROMIS is based on reputable sources as well as on results of personal investigations, which await a jury to take a first critical look at.

This seems all the more urgent if you add to the PROMIS capabilities “that it was a given that PROMIS was used for a wide variety of purposes by intelligence agencies, including the real-time monitoring of stock transactions on all the world´s major financial markets”. [4]

We are therefore dealing with a software that

a) Infiltrates computer and communication systems without being noticed.
b) Can manipulate data.
c) Is capable to track the global stock market trade in real time.

Point c is relevant to all that happened in connection with the never completely cleared up transactions that occurred just before September 11, [5] and of which the former chairman of the Deutsche Bundesbank Ernst Weltke said “could not have been planned and carried out without a certain knowledge”. [6]

I specifically asked financial journalist Max Keiser, who for years had worked on Wall Street as a stock and options trader, about the put option trades. Keiser pointed out in this context that he “had spoken with many brokers in the towers of the World Trade Center around that time. I heard firsthand about the airline put trade from brokers at Cantor Fitzgerald days before.” He then talked with me about an explosive issue, on which Ruppert elaborated in detail in Crossing the Rubicon.

Max Keiser: There are many aspects concerning these option purchases that have not been disclosed yet. I also worked at Alex Brown & Sons (ABS). Deutsche Bank bought Alex Brown & Sons in 1999. When the attacks occurred, ABS was owned by Deutsche Bank. An important person at ABS was Buzzy Krongard. I have met him several times at the offices in Baltimore. Krongard had transferred to become executive director at the CIA. The option purchases, in which ABS was involved, occurred in the offices of ABS in Baltimore. The noise which occurred between Baltimore, New York City and Langley was interesting, as you can imagine, to say the least.

Under consideration here is the fact that Alex Brown, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank (where many of the alleged 9/11 hijackers handled their banking transactions – for example Mohammed Atta) traded massive put options purchases on United Airlines Company UAL through the Chicago Board Option Exchange (CBOE) – “to the embarrassment of investigators”, as British newspaper The Independent reported. [7]

On September 12, the chairman of the board of Deutsche Bank Alex Brown, Mayo A Shattuck III, suddenly and quietly renounced his post, although he still had a three-year contract with an annual salary of several million US dollars. One could perceive that as somehow strange.

A few weeks later, the press spokesperson of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at that time, Tom Crispell, declined all comments, when he was contacted for a report for Ruppert´s website From the Wilderness, and had being asked “whether the Treasury Department or FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] had questioned CIA executive director and former Deutsche Bank-Alex Brown CEO [chief executive officer], A B ‘Buzzy’ Krongard, about CIA monitoring of financial markets using PROMIS and his former position as overseer of Brown’s ‘private client’ relations.” [8]

Just before he was recruited personally by former CIA chief George Tenet for the CIA, Krongard supervised mainly private client banking at Alex Brown. [9]

In any case, after 9/11 on the first trading day, when the US stock markets were open again, the stock price of UAL declined by 43%. (The four aircraft hijacked on September 11 were American Airlines Flight 11, American Airlines Flight 77 and UAL flights 175 and 93.)

With his background as a former options trader, Keiser explained an important issue to me in that regard.

Max Keiser: Put options are, if they are employed in a speculative trade, basically bets that stock prices will drop abruptly. The purchaser, who enters a time-specific contract with a seller, does not have to own the stock at the time when the contract is purchased.

Related to the issue of insider trading via (put or call) options there is also a noteworthy definition by the Swiss economists Remo Crameri, Marc Chesney and Loriano Mancini, notably that an option trade may be “identified as informed” – but is not yet (legally) proven – “when it is characterized by an unusual large increment in open interest and volume, induces large gains, and is not hedged in the stock market”. [10]

Open interest describes contracts which have not been settled (been exercised) by the end of the trading session, but are still open. Not hedged in the stock market means that the buyer of a (put or call) option holds no shares of the underlying asset, by which he might be able to mitigate or compensate losses if his trade doesn’t work out, or phrased differently: one does not hedge, because it is unnecessary, since one knows that the bet is one, pardon, “dead sure thing.” (In this respect it is thus not really a bet, because the result is not uncertain, but a foregone conclusion.)

In this case, the vehicle of the calculation was “ridiculously cheap put options which give the holder the ‘right’ for a period of time to sell certain shares at a price which is far below the current market price – which is a highly risky bet, because you lose money if at maturity the market price is still higher than the price agreed in the option. However, when these shares fell much deeper after the terrorist attacks, these options multiplied their value several hundred times because by now the selling price specified in the option was much higher than the market price. These risky games with short options are a sure indication for investors who knew that within a few days something would happen that would drastically reduce the market price of those shares.” [11]

Software such as PROMIS in turn is used with the precise intent to monitor the stock markets in real time to track price movements that appear suspicious. Therefore, the US intelligence services must have received clear warnings from the singular, never before sighted transactions prior to 9/11.

Of great importance with regard to the track, which should lead to the perpetrators if you were seriously contemplating to go after them, is this:

Max Keiser: The Options Clearing Corporation has a duty to handle the transactions, and does so rather anonymously – whereas the bank that executes the transaction as a broker can determine the identity of both parties.

But that may have hardly ever been the intention of the regulatory authorities when the track led to, amongst others, Alvin Bernard “Buzzy” Krongard, Alex Brown & Sons and the CIA. Ruppert, however, describes this case in Crossing the Rubicon in full length as far as possible. [12]

In addition, there are also ways and means for insiders to veil their tracks. In order to be less obvious, “the insiders could trade small numbers of contracts. These could be traded under multiple accounts to avoid drawing attention to large trading volumes going through one single large account. They could also trade small volumes in each contract but trade more contracts to avoid drawing attention. As open interest increases, non-insiders may detect a perceived signal and increase their trading activity. Insiders can then come back to enter into more transactions based on a seemingly significant trade signal from the market. In this regard, it would be difficult for the CBOE to ferret out the insiders from the non-insiders, because both are trading heavily.” [13]

The matter which needs clarification here is generally judged by Keiser as follows:

Max Keiser: My thought is that many (not all) of those who died on 9/11 were financial mercenaries – and we should feel the same about them as we feel about all mercenaries who get killed. The tragedy is that these companies mixed civilians with mercenaries, and that they were also killed. So have companies on Wall Street used civilians as human shields maybe?

According to a report by Bloomberg published in early October 2001, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began a probe into certain stock market transactions around 9/11 that included 38 companies, among them: American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp., American Express Corp., American International Group, AXA SA, Bank of America Corp., Bank of New York Corp., Bear Stearns, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Morgan Stanley, General Motors and Raytheon. [14]

So far, so good. In the same month, however, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reported that the SEC took the unprecedented step to deputize hundreds, if not even thousands of key stakeholders in the private sector for their investigation. In a statement that was sent to almost all listed companies in the US, the SEC asked the addressed companies to assign senior staff for the investigation, who would be aware of “the sensitive nature” of the case and could be relied on to “exercise appropriate discretion”. [15]

In essence, it was about controlling information, not about provision and disclosure of facts. Such a course of action involves compromising consequences. Ruppert:

What happens when you deputize someone in a national security or criminal investigation is that you make it illegal for them to disclose publicly what they know. Smart move. In effect, they become government agents and are controlled by government regulations rather than their own conscience. In fact, they can be thrown into jail without a hearing if they talk publicly. I have seen this implied threat time after time with federal investigators, intelligence agents, and even members of United States Congress who are bound so tightly by secrecy oaths and agreements that they are not even able to disclose criminal activities inside the government for fear of incarceration. [16]

Among the reports about suspected insider trading which are mentioned in Crossing the Rubicon/From the Wilderness is a list that was published under the heading “Black Tuesday: The World’s Largest Insider Trading Scam?” by the Israeli Herzliyya International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism on September 21, 2001:

  • Between September 6 and 7, the CBOE saw purchases of 4,744 put options on United Airlines, but only 396 call options. Assuming that 4,000 of the options were bought by people with advance knowledge of the imminent attacks, these “insiders” would have profited by almost $5 million.

  • On September 10, 4,516 put options on American Airlines were bought on the Chicago exchange, compared to only 748 calls. Again, there was no news at that point to justify this imbalance; again, assuming that 4,000 of these options trades represent “insiders”, they would represent a gain of about $4 million.

  • [The levels of put options purchased above were more than six times higher than normal.]

  • No similar trading in other airlines occurred on the Chicago exchange in the days immediately preceding Black Tuesday.

  • Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co, which occupied 22 floors of the World Trade Center, saw 2,157 of its October $45 put options bought in the three trading days before Black Tuesday; this compares to an average of 27 contracts per day before September 6. Morgan Stanley’s share price fell from $48.90 to $42.50 in the aftermath of the attacks. Assuming that 2,000 of these options contracts were bought based upon knowledge of the approaching attacks, their purchasers could have profited by at least $1.2 million.

  • Merrill Lynch & Co, with headquarters near the Twin Towers, saw 12,215 October $45 put options bought in the four trading days before the attacks; the previous average volume in those shares had been 252 contracts per day (a 1200% increase). When trading resumed, Merrill’s shares fell from $46.88 to $41.50; assuming that 11,000 option contracts were bought by “insiders”, their profit would have been about $5.5 million.

  • European regulators are examining trades in Germany’s Munich Re, Switzerland’s Swiss Re, and AXA of France, all major reinsurers with exposure to the Black Tuesday disaster. (Note: AXA also owns more than 25% of American Airlines stock, making the attacks a “double whammy” for them.) [17]

    Concerning the statements of the former chairman of the Deutsche Bundesbank Ernst Welteke, their tenor in various press reports put together is as follows:

    German central bank president Ernst Welteke later reports that a study by his bank indicates, “There are ever clearer signs that there were activities on international financial markets that must have been carried out with the necessary expert knowledge,” not only in shares of heavily affected industries such as airlines and insurance companies, but also in gold and oil. [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/2001] His researchers have found “almost irrefutable proof of insider trading”. [Miami Herald, 9/24/2001] “If you look at movements in markets before and after the attack, it makes your brow furrow. But it is extremely difficult to really verify it.” Nevertheless, he believes that “in one or the other case it will be possible to pinpoint the source”. [Fox News, 9/22/2001] Welteke reports “a fundamentally inexplicable rise” in oil prices before the attacks [Miami Herald, 9/24/2001] and then a further rise of 13 percent the day after the attacks. Gold rises nonstop for days after the attacks. [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/2001] [18]

    Related to those observations, I sent a request via e-mail to the press office of the Deutsche Bundesbank on August 1, 2011, from which I was hoping to learn:
    How did the Bundesbank deal with this information? Did US federal agencies ask to see the study? With whom did the Bundesbank share this information? And additionally: 1. Can you confirm that there is such a study of the Bundesbank concerning 9/11 insider trading, which was carried out in September 2001?
    2. If Yes: what is the title?
    3. If Yes: who were the authors?
    4. If Yes: has the study ever been made available to the public?

    On August 2, I was then informed: “Your mail has been received by us and is being processed under the number 2011 / 011551.” Ultimately, however, the press office of the Deutsche Bundesbank was only available for an oral explanation on the phone. With this explanation, I then turned to the press office of the federal financial regulator in Germany, the Bundesanstalt fur Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, BaFin, with the following e-mail – and that because of obvious reasons:

    Yesterday, I sent a request (see end of this e-mail) to the press office of the Deutsche Bundesbank relating to insider trading connected to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and respectively relating to an alleged study carried by the Deutsche Bundesbank. The request carries the reference number 2011 / 011551.

    The press office or respectively Mr Peter Trautmann was only available for an oral explanation. I repeat this now, because it is related to your entity. This will be followed by my further questions.

    According to an oral explanation from the press office of the Deutsche Bundesbank, there has never been a detailed and official study on insider trading from the Bundesbank. Rather, there has been probably ad-hoc analysis with corresponding charts of price movements as briefings for the Bundesbank board. In addition, it would have been the duty of the Bundesfinanzaufsicht to investigate this matter. The press office of the Bundesbank was also not willing to give out any written information, not even after my hint that this alleged study by the Bundesbank has been floating around the Internet for years without any contradiction. That was the oral information from the Bundesbank press office, or respectively from Mr Peter Trautmann.

    Now my questions for you:
    1. Has the BaFin ever investigated the 9/11 insider trading?
    2. With what result? Have the results been made public?
    3. Have there not been any grounds for suspicion that would have justified an investigation, for example as damaged enterprise: Munich Re, and as buyers of put options of UAL’s United Airlines Company: Deutsche Bank/Alex Brown?
    4. Has the Deutsche Bundesbank ever enquired with BaFin what information they have regarding the 9/11 insider trading – for example for the creation of ad-hoc analysis for the Bundesbank?
    5. Have the US federal agencies ever inquired if the BaFin could cooperate with them in an investigation?
    Could you reply to me in writing, unlike the Deutsche Bundesbank, please? I would be very grateful for that!

    The next day I did indeed receive an e-mail concerning this topic from Anja Engelland, the press officer of the BaFin in which she answered my questions as follows:

    1. Yes, the former Bundesaufsichtsamt fur Wertpapierhandel, BAWe (federal supervisory for securities trading), has carried out a comprehensive analysis of the operations.
    2. As a result, no evidence of insider trading has been found. Their approach and results have been published by the BAWe or BaFin in the annual reports for the years 2001 (cf S 26/27) and 2002 (cf p 156 above first paragraph). Here are the links. [See here and here.]
    3. See annual reports 2001 and 2002. Put options on United Airlines were not traded on German stock exchanges (the first EUREX options on US equities were introduced only after the attacks on 9/11/2001); there were warrants on UAL and other US stocks, but those traded only in low volumes.
    4. I personally do not know about such a request. Furthermore, the Bundesbank itself would have to comment on this.
    5. BaFin is fundamentally entitled to the exchange of information with foreign supervisory authorities, like SEC, on the basis of written agreements, so-called memoranda of understanding (MoU). Regarding potential inquiries from foreign supervisory authorities, the BaFin can unfortunately not comment, this would be a matter of respective authority. For this I ask for understanding.

    Then I wrote another brief note to BaFin, “in order to prevent any misunderstanding: your answers refers, as far as I understand, solely to the financial markets in Germany and Frankfurt, or not?” The reply from BaFin:

    The answers refer to the German financial market as a whole and not only on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In terms of the assessment of foreign financial markets, the relevant authorities are the competent points of contact.

    In my inquiries, I mentioned, among other things, a scientific study by US economist Allen M Poteshman from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which had been carried out in 2006 regarding the put option trading around 9/11 related to the two airlines involved, United Airlines and American Airlines. Poteshman came to this conclusion: “Examination of the option trading leading up to September 11 reveals that there was an unusually high level of put buying. This finding is consistent with informed investors having traded options in advance of the attacks.” [19]

  • The eurozone is slipping into a recession that could have been avoided. Had policymakers provided fiscal support for stricken countries in the South and guarantees on their government bonds, (as the USG does for US Treasuries) then their economies could have continued to grow while the necessary reforms were put in place. But the Troika (The IMF, the ECB, and the European Commission) decided to make the bailouts conditional on member states’ acceptance of harsh austerity measures which forced leaders to slash government payrolls, services and programs. The result was entirely predictable; economic activity began to sputter as one country after another succumbed to a vicious slump.

    So the downturn was a basically matter of choice, a self-inflicted wound brought on by poor decision-making in Brussels and Frankfurt. Anyone could see what the result was going to be because contractionary policy leads to economic contraction. Implement policies that are designed to shrink the economy, then the economy will shrink.

    For the last month or so, the focus has mainly been on Spain, and for good reason. Spain’s banking system is crumbling beneath the weight of tens of billions in non performing loans generated by the gigantic housing bubble which is still deflating. Unemployment in Spain is the highest in Europe at 24 percent. (Youth unemployment is over 50 percent) Even so, Spain’s right wing PM Mariano Rajoy is attempting to reach the deficit targets demanded by the troika which will push unemployment higher while further deepening the depression. According to Der Speigel:

    “The prime minister recently announced that he wants to reduce expenditures in the country’s education and health system by €10 billion. …. To meet the demands of the central government, the regions would have to slash 80,000 out of 500,000 teaching positions.”

    As you can see, austerity measures and debt consolidation are only adding to Spain’s woes. Eventually, after much unnecessary misery, Spain will require a bailout, although ECB president Mario Draghi insists that this is not so.

    But Europe’s problems are not limited to Spain or countries on the periphery. France’s output has slipped for a second month in a row and the pace of the decline is accelerating. The service sector is also showing signs of distress as belt tightening measures take hold and gradually reduce aggregate demand. Unemployment is edging higher as the slump deepens. According to data from Eurostat the seasonally adjusted jobless rate in France reached 10 percent in April, a 12 year high. Ballooning unemployment has led to an uptick in poverty which now affects 13.5 percent of the population. Austerity measures have led to a decline in personal consumption, an erosion of confidence, and a more generalised slowdown across all sectors. Still, intractable bankers and bureaucrats in Brussels and Frankfurt have not veered one bit from the original policy. They remain steadfast in their commitment to austerity.

    Here’s Draghi defending austerity in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:

    “There was no alternative to fiscal consolidation, and we should not deny that this is contractionary in the short term. In the future there will be the so-called confidence channel, which will reactivate growth; but it’s not something that happens immediately, and that’s why structural reforms are so important, because the short-term contraction will be succeeded by long-term sustainable growth only if these reforms are in place.” (“Q&A: ECB President Mario Draghi”, Wall Street Journal)

    Notice how Draghi does not defend austerity on the basis of any identifiable economic theory, nor does he cite any examples of austerity’s successes. (Are there any?) Nor does he name any prominent economists who support the theory. It’s all just “Trust us, we’re the experts”…. “contractionary expansion will work because we say so” even though the economy is sinking, unemployment and extreme poverty are at record highs, and the Eurozone is embroiled in the worst slump in the last 80 years. “Trust us. We know what we’re doing”.

    And here’s a sample of Draghi’s views on taxation from the same interview:

    “A ‘good’ consolidation is one where taxes are lower and the lower government expenditure is on infrastructures and other investments.”…”A ‘bad’ consolidation is actually the easier one to get… by raising taxes and cutting capital expenditure.”

    Let’s summarize: Cutting public spending and austerity, “Good”. Raising taxes, “Bad”. Isn’t this the same right wing blather we’ve heard for years?

    “Austerity” amounts to an attack on Europe’s social model and aims to roll back the progressive advances of the last century. There’s nearly-universal agreement that belt tightening doesn’t lead to recovery, but just make matters worse. Trimming deficits in the throes of a recession is a surefire way to choke off economic activity and foment social unrest. And so it has. Aside from turning many of the EU’s biggest cities into free-fire zones, austerity is reshaping the political landscape and fueling radical elements on the right and left who are calling for an end to the 17-member union and a return to national sovereignty. (Hooray)

    Still, policymakers seem oblivious to the political firestorm they’ve touched off. They remain focused laserlike on their primary objective, which is to make sure that a bigger share of the national wealth moves up the income chain. The way they do this is by demagoging the fake “debt crisis” while their political lackeys and “technicians” slash pensions, health care and subsidies to protected industries; hack away at state budgets, reduce their federal workforce, crush organized labor, remove tariffs and taxes on capital, and privatize more public assets and services. Smaller government means less activity, fewer jobs, weaker demand, and greater hardship for working people. In other words, austerity achieves exactly what it was meant to achieve; bigger profits for the 1% and zilch for everyone else. Here’s a clip from an article in Reuters:

    “The euro zone’s business slump deepened at a far faster pace than expected in April, suggesting the economy will stay in recession at least until the second half of the year….

    “Today’s dismal PMI figures clearly indicate that the euro zone economy remains in dire straits”….European factories had their worst month since June 2009. Companies said their order books were shrinking and they were cutting jobs in reaction to falling demand….

    “There are no real drivers of growth here, which suggests that although the overall rate of decline is modest at the moment, we could see it continue to worsen in coming months,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist of PMI compiler Markit.” (“Euro zone slump deepens unexpectedly in April”, Reuters)

    Draghi’s ”debt consolidation” and “structural reforms” have increased deflationary pressures and deepened the slump. They’ve been a total flop as anyone with half-a-brain could have predicted.

    So, are we supposed to believe that the ECB president didn’t know what the effect of his policies would be, that he didn’t know that contractionary policies would result in economic contraction?

    Of course, he knew. Draghi’s not an idiot; he’s a very competent economist. This just shows that he had an ulterior motive, that the policy was crafted to serve the interests of his banking buddies and not those of the 99%. After all, the real purpose of austerity is not to cut deficits or spur growth, but to stuff government into a fiscal starightjacket so that private industry and big finance get a bigger slice of the pie. Isn’t that what this is really all about?

    Sure, it is. Austerity is just the euro-version of “starve the beast”.

    Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). He can be reached at [email protected].

    Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap compared to manned aircraft and ground troops. Teams of remote warriors work far from, and at times, closer to battlefields. 

    Drone pilots operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors. Sensor staff work with them. They handle TV and infrared cameras, as well as other high-tech drone sensors. Faceless enemies nearby or half a world away are attacked. Virtual war kills like sport. 

    At day’s end, home-based operators head there for dinner, relaxation, family time, then a good night sleep before another day guiding weapons with joysticks and monitors like computer games.

    Dozens of drone command centers operate worldwide. Dozens more are planned. Pentagon and CIA personnel run them. Some are bare bones. Climate-controlled trailers work fine. They operate effectively anywhere. They maintain constant radio contact with command centers.

    Others are sophisticated command and control centers. Two operate at CIA’s Langley, VA headquarters. Nevada’s Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases near Las Vegas have others. Plans last year called for Nellis operations to be moved to Florida’s Hurlburt Field Special Operations Command. 

    Domestic bases also operate from command and control centers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, New York, and perhaps elsewhere. Eventually they could be anywhere.

    Washington plans escalated surveillance and predator drone operations at dozens of global sites. Expanding them to hundreds is likely. The Pentagon and CIA are tightlipped. 

    Currently, around one in three US warplanes are drones. One day perhaps they’ll all be unmanned. Sanitized killing is cheap and efficient. Rule of law principles and other disturbing issues aren’t considered. Secrecy and accountability go unaddressed.

    Last September, the Washington Post headlined, “US assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say.”

    Pentagon and CIA officials plan aggressive campaigns against “al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said.”

    Ethiopia is home to one installation. Al-Shabab fighters are targeted. Another is based in the Seychelles. Since September 2009, Air Force and Navy MQ-9 Reaper drones operated there. 

    Called “hunter-killers,” they’re equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. Operational secrecy suppresses details of planned missions.

    Besides elsewhere, drones are used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen. Among other locations, they operate from Djibouti.

    The CIA  is building “a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula so it can deploy armed drones over Yemen.”

    More on Yemen below.

    On July 1, 2011, Aviation Week headlined “Drone War,” saying:

    “There is an unofficial but lethal drone war taking place over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya that has expanded the area of operation for U.S. forces beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, with no real acknowledgement from the government that anything extraordinary is happening.” 

    “The undeclared conflict on these three fronts might be the first Drone War, and warfare has never seen anything like it.”

    The article asked if unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) increase the threshold for war in more places because logistics are simpler and US lives aren’t at stake.

    Using them also provides intelligence. Aircraft can stay airborne 24 hours. Multiple crews operate them. Offsite calm away from battle zones aids concentration, decision-making, and overall efficiency.

    The Air Force Academy’s class of 2011 was its first with graduates planning to specialize in drone operations. Army enlisted personnel do it along with trained pilots  handling takeoffs and landings.

    Unmanned platform killing is expanding. Targets include countries where technically America isn’t at war. Victims and families know otherwise. 

    Target Yemen

    On June 14, 2011, the Los Angeles Times headlined, “CIA plans drone strike campaign in Yemen,” saying:

    Obama authorized escalated counterterrorism strikes against alleged Al Qaeda threats to America. A secret CIA regional base will target them. An unnamed US official was quoted, saying:

    “There’s no question that we’re trying to look at a lot of different ways to make something happen in Yemen.”

     

    In March 2012, after returning from Yemen, Nation magazine contributor Jeremy Scahill headlined “Washington’s War in Yemen Backfires,” saying:

     

    Washington is “doubling down on its use of air power and drones, which are swiftly becoming the primary focus of Washington’s counterterrorism operations.”

     

    “For years, the elite Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA had teams deployed inside Yemen that supported Yemeni forces and conducted unilateral operations, consisting mostly of cruise missile and drone attacks.”

     

    Lots of civilians are killed. At anti-regime rallies, “prominent conservative imams deliver stinging sermons denouncing the United States and Israel.”

     

    US policy enrages tribal leaders. Resistance grows stronger against it. Washington’s belligerence “backfire(d) by killing civilians” and for violating Yemeni sovereignty. Angry people strike back. In a heavily armed country, America’s alleged threat is stronger. 

     

    Yemen’s a gun culture. On average, people own three, including automatic weapons like AK-47s and heavier arms. Moreover, they’re prone to direct action. Threaten them and they strike back. They’re mostly ordinary Yemenis against imperial America’s intervention. In self-defense, they react belligerently. 

     

    Perhaps Obama officials want it that way in more combat theaters than Yemen to justify waging permanent wars. America needs enemies. Peace and calm defeats its imperial agenda. Killing civilians may work as planned.

     

    On April 25, 2012, the Washington Post headlined “White House approves broader Yemen drone campaign,” saying:

     

    Al Qaeda suspects are targeted. Obama’s authorization lets Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and CIA personnel “fire even when the identity of those who could be killed is not known, US officials said.”

     

    In June 2011, counterinsurgency advisor David Kilcullen told Congress that drone strikes kill militants 2% of the time. Others are noncombatant civilians. He explained that these operations “lose the population (and) the war.” He also raised issues of legality.

     

    UAVs were first used in Vietnam as reconnaissance platforms. In the 1980s, Harpy air defense suppression system radar killer drones were employed. In the Gulf War, unmanned combat air systems (UCAS) and X-45 air vehicles were used.

    Others were deployed in Bosnia in 1995 and against Serbia in 1999. America’s new weapon of choice is now commonplace in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, elsewhere abroad, and domestically for law enforcement and surveillance. Escalated domestic and foreign use is planned.

     

    Along with satellites and other technologies, Big Brother plans a global presence to spy and kill. International law isn’t considered. Neither are constitutional and US statute laws. Rogue states do what they please. They answer to no one and don’t say they’re sorry.

    CIA Director General David Petraeus urged easing the rules of engagement. Anything goes is policy. It always was, but now it’s more official. Princeton University Yemen specialist Gregory Johnsen worries about “a dangerous drift.” He said policymakers “don’t appear to realize they are heading into rough waters without a map.”

    The greater the number of drone kills, he explained, the more recruits Al Qaeda gains. What does Washington plan in response, he asked? Is another war coming, he wonders?

    On April 20, Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman headlined his Washington Post op-ed “President Obama: Don’t go there.” 

    Before Obama’s authorization, he said permitting expanded UAV strikes “break(s) the legal barrier that Congress erected to prevent the White House from waging an endless war on terrorism.”

    Ackerman, of course, knows legal barriers haven’t deterred presidents from waging lawless wars since Korea in 1950. WW II was the last legal one. 

    Since 2009, Obama waged drone war on Yemen and other countries besides officially designated war theaters. He also authorized special forces death squads in dozens of countries worldwide.

    Post-9/11, Congress gave Bush a blank check to wage war. It approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

    It was used to wage war on Iraq. It’s still in force today. Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy “reserve(s) the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests.”

    In other words, to wage preemptive or proxy war, including with nuclear weapons. Making the world safe for capital may destroy it. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) was reinvented in new form. Who knows what’s next.

    A constitutional lawyer, Obama knows right from wrong. Nonetheless, he’s waging lawless permanent wars, plans more, and not just against Yemen.

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

    Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

     

    http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

    The city of Chicago will be invaded by a NATO conference next month, costing US taxpayers up to $100 million for the provision of facilities and security for 50 delegations comprising some 100 dignitaries and thousands of advisors.

    But instead of providing ring-of-steel security for the NATO bureaucrats in attendance, what the hard-pressed citizens of Chicago would appreciate more is a little application of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine that NATO powers are so keen on bestowing on other parts of the world wracked by violence.

    Chicago’s notoriety as a violent city has gone into overdrive in recent years with an epidemic in fatal shootings. Last year, nearly 2,300 people were shot in the Windy City, resulting in 441 homicides, including men, women and children. In the first three months of this year, some 656 were shot, with 145 homicides. At that rate, the victims of gun crime will amount to over 2,600 shootings and 580 homicides by the end of this year alone.

    With this level of violence, the people of Chicago do not feel safe in their own city, and the state and federal authorities are conspicuously inadequate in their duty to protect citizens.

    In that way, it is not far-fetched for the people of Chicago, or some concerned foreign governments on their behalf, to invoke the principle of R2P, in emulation of how the NATO powers so readily intervene around the world purportedly to “protect human rights”. After all, the R2P advocates tell us that “sovereignty is not a right, it is a privilege” and if governments cannot protect their citizens then they forfeit their right to sovereignty, thereby giving the UN or NATO a mandate to protect vulnerable populations.

    Likewise, the case can be made for NATO intervention in Chicago whereby heavily armed “peacekeepers” with strange accents lock down large areas of the city, impose no-fly zones and launch missiles from aerial drones on groups suspected of perpetrating violence against vulnerable citizens who are left unprotected by the presumptive authorities.

    Let’s put Chicago’s annual casualties of gun crime into a Syrian context. On a Syrian versus Chicago population basis (20.5 million versus 2.8 million), the American figures would be equivalent to 18,815 civilian shootings and 4,160 homicides in Syria. This is of the same order as the unverified, and no doubt grossly exaggerated, UN figures commonly quoted for Syrian victims since conflict broke out in that country 13 months ago. If such dubious figures for Syria have sparked so much attention from Western governments, mainstream media and the UN Security Council, why is the plight of Chicago citizens being ignored? As the cheeky saying goes in this city: “What are we? Chopped liver?”

    It is not hyperbole to say that large areas of Chicago resemble a war zone for its hapless population. Schoolchildren have to be escorted daily by armed guards for even a short trip to visit a library across town. People from ethic minorities are particularly at significant risk of suffering a violent death from just walking out on the streets. Surely, there is a legal case at the UN or some other international court that the US authorities are abdicating a responsibility to protect their own citizens. The UN or NATO is thereby mandated to intervene to protect Chicago citizens (assuming, of course, that the principle and practice of R2P is genuinely construed).

    Another factor for R2P being applicable to Chicago is the level of systematic violence emanating from armed gangs and criminal mercenaries. Many of the shootings in the city are believed to be the work of heavily armed gangs or private militia engaged in industrial-scale drug dealing. Furthermore, many of these private armies are funded and directed from foreign territories – Mexico and Colombia.

    In the coming weeks, no doubt we will hear a lot from Western governments and the mainstream media exhorting the UN or NATO to intervene in Syria because of violence against citizens whom the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad is not protecting in the face of armed gangs (even though these same armed gangs are being supported by these same Western governments and media).

    Therefore, applying the same – albeit cynical – criteria, a case could be made for NATO peacekeepers being sent to liberate Chicago and overseeing some badly needed regime change here.

    Ross Ruthenberg is a Chicago area political analyst [email protected]  

    Protests rocked the streets of the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, April 28, as an estimated 25,000 people took to the streets in support of Bersih [1], an organization fighting to reform the nation’s electoral system.

    The organization refers to itself as ‘The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections’, comprised of 84 Malaysian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that form a ‘coalition of like minded civil society organizations unaffiliated to any political party’ [2]. The recent rally follows two previous mass demonstrations in November 2007 and July 2011, as organizers renew their demands for the Malaysian Election Commission to resign before the 13th General Elections scheduled for June 2012 [3]. Although the coalition claims to be devoid of political affiliation, the movement is fully endorsed by Malaysia’s main opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan Rakyat political coalition he oversees.

    Following documented cases of United States-based organizations funding pro-opposition civil society groups associated with civil unrest in Russia [4] and the Middle East [5], Chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan acknowledged that the Bersih coalition received financial support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Open Society Institute (OSI) [6]. An article published in the New York Times entitled “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings” reveals organizations such as the National Democratic Institute receive funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a recipient of funds directly from the US Congress [7]. The Bersih Coalition has also received support from the US-based Freedom House [8], an NGO that receives direct funding from the US State Department [9]. While concern over electoral corruption and the various legitimate grievances of Bersih supporters may be entirely justified, the coalition’s association with opposition Political parties and groups financed by the United States government suggests subversion.

    Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammed has warned that the ruling Barisan Nasional party is targeted for regime change due to its stance on Israel and criticism of US policy, while condemning Anwar Ibrahim for his close ties to Paul Wolfowitz and other adherents of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) [10]. Furthermore, Mahathir has accused the United States of using currency manipulation and US-funded NGOs to orchestrate the kind of destabilization needed to install a compliant proxy government [11]. Dr. William Robinson explains the subversive methods of conducting regime change through “democracy promotion” in his book, ‘Promoting Polyarhcy,’ “In Latin America, in Eastern Europe with the Velvet Revolutions, in Africa, in the Middle East, really all over the world, the U.S. set up these different mechanisms now for penetrating these civil societies in the political systems of countries that are going to be intervened and to assure the outcome is going to be pleasing to Washington’s foreign policy objectives” [12].

    Eva Golinger, a researcher who has been investigating the democracy promotion efforts of the United States offers, “Millions and millions of U.S. tax payer dollars go every year into funding for political organizations and campaigns in different countries in the world that promote US agenda. Most U.S. citizens are unaware of the fact that that is how their money is being spent, to meddle, and to influence and to interfere in other nation’s affairs” [13]. While the demands of the Bersih coalition appear to be coherent and apolitical, the convergence of its leadership with the opposition political establishment provides Anwar Ibrahim and Malaysia’s opposition front Pakatan Rakyat with the means to mobilize demonstrators under the benign common cause of “clean and fair elections.” The initial Bersih demonstration in 2007 has become widely credited for Pakatan Rakyat’s record gains in the 2008 Malaysian elections, where the opposition coalition usurped power in five states and won 82 parliamentary seats [14].

    Anwar Ibrahim served as Deputy Prime Minster from 1993 to 1998 under the administration of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad; the pair disagreed on the utilization of recovery methods during the 1997 Asian Economic Crisis, leading to Ibrahim’s dismissal. While Mahathir introduced sovereign currency controls on the Malaysian ringgit to prevent currency speculation, Ibrahim denounced Mahathir’s economic policies and portrayed himself as a freedom fighter for the free market [15]. Following his stint as Deputy Prime Minister, Ibrahim served as Chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1998, while appearing on the payroll of Dick Cheney’s Foundation for the Future and George Soros’ International Crisis Group [16]. Furthermore, Anwar Ibrahim served as a panelist at the National Endowment for Democracy’s “Democracy Award” [17].

    The Bersih coalition has rejected a raft of reforms announced by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, including the establishment of parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms and amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Act following widespread condemnation of Putrajaya’s crack down on July 2011’s Bersih 2.0 rally from the international press [18]. The heavy-handed conduct of Malaysian security officials has worked to further strength international condemnation of Malaysia’s nationalist regime, as well as alienating the well-intentioned participants of Bersih rallies. Unlike the Bersih rally in July 2011, the recent demonstrations provoked armed clashes between protestors and police with cases of violence on both sides. Although police barricaded the area surrounding Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) where the rally was scheduled to take place, violence was not used until demonstrators attempted to cross police barricades into the Square.  

    The security situation deteriorated as defiant protesters refused to disperse, prompting demonstrators to overturn a police vehicle [19]. Protesters and black-shirted police officials threw broken bottles, pieces of metal and concrete slabs towards each other, prompting police to fire tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators, causing hundreds to disperse into side streets [20]. While footage of the recent police crackdown circulates throughout international media, Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional party is again the subject of international criticism. As public discontent grows with the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak, the unpopularity of the Malaysian ruling party has set the stage for the victory of Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition. As the United States shifts its military focus to the Pacific Region, Anwar Ibrahim’s adherence to western political institutions will likely warrant the continued nurturing of unrest in Malaysia until the opposition successively usurps power.

    Malaysian Riot Police near Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) maintained the security situation without the use of force until several demonstrators attempted to take the area.

    Supporters of Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition march on side streets with banners calling on people to reject dirty elections. 

    Red-shirt supporters of pro-opposition security unit Jabatan Amal form human chain in a commercial district of Kuala Lumpur.

    Demonstrators hold banners calling on Malaysians to reject the perceived corruption of the electoral system. 

    Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim fully endorses Bersih, an organization that claims to hold no affiliation with any political party.

    Crowds cheer as demonstrators invert a photograph of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

    Bersih supporters sit behind police barricades outside of Dataran Merdeka.    

    Jabatan Amal supporters stand near the barbed wire barricades setup by Police, preventing demonstrators from entering the historic Dataran Merdeka. 

    Riot police fire tear gas to disperse protestors attempting to take Dataran Merdeka, causing Bersih supporters to take refuge in the nearby City Hall complex. 

    Protesters pray in the historic Masjid Jamek Mosque as Riot Police fire tear gas and surround the complex to prevent demonstrators from exiting. 

    Medical teams rush to the scene to provide assistance to injured people and those who experienced adverse effects from tear gas. 

    Commercial areas of downtown Kuala Lumpur littered with damaged property and personal belongings following the initial dispersal of protestors into side streets toward the Sogo district. 

    Malaysian Police have reportedly detained at least 388 Bersih supporters.  

    Notes:

    [1] Police violence marks Malaysia reform rally, Al Jazeera, April 28, 2012

    [2] Bersih About, BERSIH 2.0 [OFFICIAL] Facebook

    [3] Ibid

    [4] Emails expose watchdog’s dollar deals, Russia Today, December 9, 2011

    [5] U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings, The New York Times, April 14, 2011

    [6] Bersih repudiates foreign Christian funding claim, The Malaysian Insider, June 27, 2011

    [7] U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings, The New York Times, April 14, 2011

    [8] Freedom House Calls on Malaysian Authorities to Allow Free Assembly, Freedom House, 2012

    [9] Freedom House: Frequently Asked Questions, Freedom House, 2012

    [10] REGIME CHANGE, CheDet (Official Blog of Dr. Mahathir Mohammed), February 13, 2012

    [11] CURRENCY WARS, CheDet (Official Blog of Dr. Mahathir Mohammed), March 29, 2012

    [12] Democracy promotion: America’s new regime change formula, Russia Today, November 18, 2010

    [13] Ibid

    [14] Bersih repudiates foreign Christian funding claim, The Malaysian Insider, June 27, 2011

    [15] The Case of Malaysia, Executive Intelligence Review, July 4, 2008

    [16] British Empire Tool to Recolonize Malaysia, Executive Intelligence Review, September 12, 2008

    [17] 2007 NED Annual Report, National Endowment for Democracy, 2007

    [18] Bersih tarnishes Najib’s reform credentials; say foreign press, The Malaysian Insider, April 29, 2012

    [19] Larger Bersih turnout, but violence may play into Umno’s handsThe Malaysian Insider, April 29, 2012

    [20] Ibid

    Nile Bowie is an independent writer and photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;  Twitter: @NileBowie  

    Article originally posted here: Bersih 3.0: Politicizing the Apolitical in Malaysia


    The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III
    ONLINE INTERACTIVE READER
    – by Michel Chossudovsky, Finian Cunningham – 2012-05-14

    The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.


    SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War?
    ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK
    – by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-05-11

    ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK. The insurgency in Syria is based on the “Libya Model”: it is integrated by mercenaries and Al Qaeda affiliated paramilitary brigades supported by British, French and Turkish Special Forces…


    Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation
    ONLINE READER
    – by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-04-28

    The dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination… Eventually all major regions of the World will be affected.


    The 9/11 Attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC): Unspoken Financial Bonanza
    – by Prof Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-04-27


    POLICE STATE: “Robots R’US”: Military-style Drones on 63 Military Bases In The USA
    – by Danny Schechter – 2012-04-27


    EURASIAN ECONOMIC BOOM AND GEOPOLITICS: China’s Land Bridge to Europe: The China-Turkey High Speed Railway
    – by F. William Engdahl – 2012-04-27


    NATO ENCIRCLEMENT OF RUSSIA. The Strategic Role of the “Visegrad Four”: Poland, Hungary Czech Republic, Slovakia
    – by Vladislav Gulevich – 2012-04-27


    The Middle Class Hasn’t Disappeared. It’s Just Sliding Toward the Bottom
    – by Paul Buchheit – 2012-04-27


    GLOBAL MILITARY ALLIANCE: Partners Across The Globe: NATO Consolidates A Worldwide Military Force
    – by Rick Rozoff – 2012-04-27

    FRACKING AND THE ENVIRONMENT: Landmark Fracking Lawsuit starts with Twist in Alberta
    – by Andrew Nikiforuk – 2012-04-27


    DEATH OF OSAMA? Judge Denies Request For Release Of Bin Laden Death Pictures
    – 2012-04-27


    AMERICA’S DRONE BATTLEFIELD: US steps up drone war in Yemen
    – by Patrick Martin – 2012-04-27


    THE GULF IS DYING: Two years After the BP Drilling Disaster, Gulf Residents Fear for the Future
    – by Jordan Flaherty – 2012-04-27


    US ARMS SALES TO LATIN AMERICA
    Data by Country
    – 2012-04-27


    Massive Student Upsurge Fuels Major Debates in Quebec Society
    – by Richard Fidler – 2012-04-26


    NUCLEAR RADIATION IN ONTARIO: Tritium Toxic Emissions have Increased Dramatically in Peterborough
    – by Zach Ruiter – 2012-04-26


    NAZISM, THE LESSONS OF HISTORY: The Global War on Terror, in the “Original German”
    – by David Swanson – 2012-04-26


    VIDEO: Sanctioning Israel: Debating the BDS Movement
    Join the discussion on GRTV
    – by Gilad Atzmon, Eric Walberg, Omar Baddar – 2012-04-26


    BP OIL SPILL AND THE GULF ECOSYSTEM: “Deformed Seafood”. Officials Close Gulf Waters to Shrimping
    – by Stuart Smith – 2012-04-26


    US-Philippine military exercises directed against China
    – by Peter Symonds – 2012-04-26


    MARKET DISTORTIONS AND PROFIT DRIVEN FINANCIAL INSTABILITY: 84% of All Stock Trades are by High-Frequency Computer Algorithms
    – by Washington’s Blog – 2012-04-26


    Media Disinformation and the Use of “Words”
    – by Ross Ruthenberg – 2012-04-26

    “SYRIAN OPPOSITION”: Mossad, Blackwater, CIA Led Operations in Homs. Weapons from Israel
    – by Israa Al-Fass – 2012-04-26


    THE GLOBAL SPY APPARATUS: You Are All Suspects Now. What Are You Going To Do About It?
    – by John Pilger – 2012-04-26


    West Coast Unions Cave In to Democrats
    – by Shamus Cooke – 2012-04-26


    CIA DRONES OVER PAKISTAN: Evidence in British court confirms civilian deaths
    – by Chris Woods – 2012-04-26


    SYRIA: “Media Warfare” undermines UN Peace Mission
    Annan: “We Need Eyes and Ears on the Ground”
    – by Ronda Hauben – 2012-04-26


    SYRIA REGIME CHANGE: United Nations Duplicity, Kofi Annan and Diplomats Wives.
    – by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2012-04-26

    ECHELON: Exposing the Global Surveillance System
    – by Nicky Hagar – 2012-04-25


    CIVIL LIBERTIES, REMOTE SPYING AND THE DRONE LOBBY: Opening US Domestic Airspace to Unmanned Drones
    – 2012-04-25


    VIDEO: NGO Crackdown: Bogus Reports Fuel Intervention Industry
    Libya, Syria, Uganda… Where next? Learn more on GRTV
    – by Marina Portnaya – 2012-04-25


    Obama Invokes Holocaust to Ratchet up War Threats on Iran, Syria
    – by Bill Van Auken – 2012-04-25


    MILITARIZATION OF THE BALKANS: Directed against Russia? U.S. Leads Largest Air Combat Exercises In Bulgaria’s History
    – by Rick Rozoff – 2012-04-25


    VIDEO: With Al Qaeda Bogeyman Gone, US Turns to China
    Get the details on GRTV
    – by Pepe Escobar – 2012-04-25


    TRIALS WITHOUT CRIMES OR EVIDENCE
    – by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-04-25

    Once the government can convict defendants on the basis of secret evidence, the concept of a fair trial will disappear.


    THE ECONOMICS OF ZERO INTEREST RATES
    – by Bob Chapman – 2012-04-25


    VIDEO: From Scarcity to Abundance: Re-imagining Money
    Get all the information on GRTV
    – by Ellen Brown – 2012-04-25


    THE PENTAGON’S “COUNTERINSURGENCY WAR” ON LATIN AMERICA : Colombia, America ‘s “Military Launchpad”
    – by Rick Rozoff – 2012-04-25

    FRACKING CAUSES EARTHQUAKES.
    UK Government: “It’s Worth the Risk”…
    – by John C.K. Daly – 2012-04-25


    CHINA’S RENMINBI VERSUS THE US DOLLAR: People’s Bank of China widens trading range of the yuan
    – by John Chan – 2012-04-25


    NO NUKES IN IRAN: DOES THIS MEAN PEACE, OR IS WAR ON HOLD? Israel IDF chief: I do not believe Iran will develop nuclear weapons
    – 2012-04-25


    Economic Analysis: Neoliberalism in the Arab World, Rural-Urban Migration and the Destabilisation of Agriculture
    – by Prof. Ali Kadri – 2012-04-25


    “Occupy Wall Street not Palestine,”: Heeding the International Call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
    – by Richard Sanders – 2012-04-25


    LIBYA: US Corporate Predators Arrive in Tripoli
    – by Alexandra Valiente – 2012-04-25


    Chossudovsky’s New Book: America’s “Contingency Plan” to Attack Iran with Nuclear Weapons
    Review of “Towards a World War III Scenario. The Dangers of Nuclear War”
    – by Sherwood Ross – 2012-04-24


    VIDEO: Funding Terror: US Behind Heinous Crimes of Bahraini Regime
    Find out what’s happening on GRTV
    – by Finian Cunningham – 2012-04-24


    WEAPONIZATION OF THE FOOD SYSTEM: Genetically Engineered Maize Threatens Nepal and the Himalayan Region
    – by Arun Shrivastava – 2012-04-24


    TOP OF THE WORLD: NATO Rehearses For War In The Arctic
    The Western campaign for global dominance has reached the top of the world.
    – by Rick Rozoff – 2012-04-24

    US-NATO is preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic directed against Russia, anticipating that rising temperatures could open up a treasure trove of resources and long-dreamed-of sea-lanes…


    NO PULL-OUT IN AFGHANISTAN: US makes a Pact with its Afghan Puppet
    – by Patrick Martin – 2012-04-24

    Large neo-fascist vote shakes French presidential race
    – by Alex Lantier, Johannes Stern – 2012-04-24


    HOW LIBERTY WAS LOST
    – by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-04-24


    Former US President Jimmy Carter warns against a possible war with Iran
    – 2012-04-24


    UN MISSION TO SYRIA: The UN Security Council Battleground
    UN Observer Mission Needs to Learn from Arab League Observer Report
    – by Ronda Hauben – 2012-04-24


    BREAKING NEWS: Bahrain: Massive Pro-Democracy Rally Defies US-Backed State Terrorism
    – by Finian Cunningham – 2012-04-24

    Terrorist Grandmothers” take to the screens in documentary web series”
    – 2012-04-24


    AMERICA’S “PEACE DRONES”: Was this 16-year-old, killed by a US drone, really a terrorist?
    – by Pratap Chatterjee – 2012-04-24

    Bahrain: Grand Prix State Terror
    – by Stephen Lendman – 2012-04-24

    Iran Builds Prototypes of U.S. RQ170 Drone despite US Doubts
    – 2012-04-24


    William Shakespeare and the New World Order: “Hell is Empty and all the Devils are Here”
    – by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-04-23


    “GLOBAL SPYING”. WASHINGTON’S “WEAPONIZED DATA” SYSTEM
    – by Tom Burghardt – 2012-04-23

    With exponential growth of wireless networks, the mass of data which can be “mined” for “actionable intelligence,” from eavesdropping to blanket surveillance of dissidents is now part of a global landscape…


    THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS: We cannot afford to remain powerless
    – 2012-04-23


    AMERICA’S AFRICA: Hollywood Celebrities Provide “Mood Music” and “Star Appeal” for US “Humanitarian Wars”
    – by Finian Cunningham – 2012-04-23

    It’s a sign of the times: Hollywood heart-throbs, pop divas and TV chat show celebrities are turning on the mood music for America’s never-ending global war.


    VIDEO: Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent
    Full presentation now available on GRTV
    – by Andrew Nikiforuk – 2012-04-23


    VIDEO: Egypt Protests: ‘Muslim Brotherhood Tool of CIA’
    Watch this incisive interview on GRTV
    – by James Corbett – 2012-04-23


    Suspicious Death of Dr David Kelly: Doctors Seek New Death Inquest
    – by Dr. Stephen Frost – 2012-04-23


    How The World Bank Destroys the Local Economy: REPORT UNCOVERS WORLD BANK FUNDED LAND GRAB IN UGANDA
    – by Friends of the Earth International – 2012-04-23


    THE DISAPPEARING TERRORISTS
    – by Philip Giraldi – 2012-04-23


    US-NATO WAR ON SYRIA: The Assorted Lies and Limits of Syria’s Imperial “Friends”
    – by Ben Schreiner – 2012-04-23


    Being a Jew in Palestine
    – by Beth Miller – 2012-04-23


    Turkey blocks Israel from Chicago NATO summit– report
    – 2012-04-23


    Socialist Party candidate Hollande, Sarkozy advance in French presidential elections
    – by Alex Lantier – 2012-04-23


    REMOTE WARFARE: CIA seeks expansion of drone strikes against suspected Al Qaeda targets
    – 2012-04-23


    Crimes Committed by the Federal Government of the USA against African Americans
    – by Prof. Francis A. Boyle – 2012-04-23


    Canada Pension Plan (CPP) invests $1.5 Billion in Companies which Supply Israel’s Military, Police and Prisons
    – by Richard Sanders – 2012-04-23

    Bahrain: Grand Prix Disgrace
    – by Stephen Lendman – 2012-04-23


    VIDEO: BP Gulf Contamination: Sealife Deformities Alarm Scientists
    Find out what’s really happening on GRTV
    – by Dahr Jamail – 2012-04-22


    VIDEO: French Elections: Sarkozy, the Choice of Washington
    Watch now on GRTV
    – by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-04-22


    COUNTERTERRORISM AND HUMANITARIAN AID: U.S. Patriot Act Kept Somalia Starving
    – by Linus Atarah – 2012-04-22


    Nobel Peace Prize: Those Committed to “Security by Military Means” have taken charge of the Peace Prize…
    New Book
    – by Fredrik S. Heffermehl – 2012-04-22


    ISRAELI POLITICAL INSANITY. THE SAMSON OPTION: Israeli Letter-poem to Grass: If We Go, Everyone Goes
    – by Gil Ronen – 2012-04-22


    RADIATION IN JAPANESE SUCHI? Japanese Seaweed Radiation Doubles. Tests
    – by Michael Collins – 2012-04-22

    Security Council Authorizes 300 Syrian Monitors
    – by Stephen Lendman – 2012-04-22


    The West Wants to Take the Rest of Sudan’s Oil
    – by Glen Ford – 2012-04-22


    MALTHUS AND DARWIN: The Population Boon
    – by Prof. Philip E. Auerswald – 2012-04-22

    Obama has Prosecuted More Whistleblowers than All Other Presidents COMBINED. But Refuses to Go After White Collar Criminals
    – by Washington’s Blog – 2012-04-22


    VIDEO: IMF “Solutions” Cannot Solve Eurozone Crisis
    Latest interview now on GRTV
    – by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-04-21


    VIDEO: BP Oil Spill 2 Years Later: The Coverup Continues
    Find all the info on GRTV
    – by Abby Martin – 2012-04-21

    CANADA: Fixing Elections Through Fraud
    On the Need for a Royal Commission on Electoral Practices in Canada
    – by Anthony J. Hall – 2012-04-21


    “QUEER ANARCHY”: State Oppression and the Rights of “Sexual Minorities”
    – by Devon DB – 2012-04-21


    GMO AND THE DEVASTATION OF BEE COLONIES: Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm
    – by Anthony Gucciardi – 2012-04-21


    Afghan Screams Aren’t Heard
    – by Kathy Kelly – 2012-04-21


    SYRIA: UN Working With NATO to Provide Pretext for Intervention
    UN “aid” program to be used in establishing NATO “humanitarian corridors.”
    – by Tony Cartalucci – 2012-04-21

    GRAND PRIX HYPOCRISY IN BAHRAIN: Formula One’s (F1) governing body announced Grand Prix will go ahead as planned
    – by Stephen Lendman – 2012-04-21


    COVERUP AND DENIAL: America’s Gulf Disaster Revisited
    – by Stephen Lendman – 2012-04-21


    Google Inc: “Don’t Be Evil”
    – by James Corbett – 2012-04-21

    For a company whose corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” Google Inc. certainly has found itself at the receiving end of its share of lawsuits, claims and controversies.

    WikiLeaks: Kony 2012 creators spied for Uganda
    – 2012-04-20


    Afghanistan is not a US Colony!
    – by Dr. Ismail Salami – 2012-04-20

    BLOCKING PUBLICATION OF AFGHANISTAN ATROCITY PHOTOS
    Washington’s real concerns over the Afghanistan atrocity photos
    – by Bill Van Auken – 2012-04-20


    “HUMANITARIAN TERRORISM”: CIA to Expand “Remote Control Assassinations” in Yemen
    – by Patrick Martin – 2012-04-20


    “Social State” versus “Corporate State”: FROM EUROPEAN FASCISM TO “GLOBAL MONEY-SEQUENCE ABSOLUTISM”
    Part X
    – by Prof. John McMurtry – 2012-04-20

    The Supposed Legality of Murder

    April 28th, 2012 by David Swanson

    War is legal, but pointing out its illegality is not mistaken; it’s irrelevant and un-strategic. That’s the argument I’m hearing from a number of quarters.

    Chase Madar has a terrific new book on Bradley Manning in which he argues that many of the offenses Bradley Manning allegedly revealed through Wikileaks (the murder in the collateral murder video, the turning over of prisoners to be tortured by Iraq, etc.) are immoral but legal. When I pointed out to Madar that the Kellogg Briand Pact banned all war, that the U.N. Charter legalized only two narrow categories of war that our government does not meet (defensive wars and wars authorized by the U.N.), and that the Constitution of the United States bans wars not declared by Congress, Madar did not try to argue that I was mistaken. Instead he said it wasn’t important to point out war’s illegality, because Americans don’t care; instead we have to point out its immorality. But if war’s illegality is unimportant, why was its supposed legality important enough to develop as a significant part of a book? Why couldn’t war’s illegality be of help in the movement to oppose it on primarily moral grounds?

    I attended a wonderful event on Saturday in Washington, D.C., a “Drone Summit” organized by Code Pink, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Reprieve — terrific organizations all, some of the best. Included in the summit were speakers from organizations that have concerns about drones but do not oppose war. It’s important to work with organizations and individuals who agree on the matter at hand, even if broad differences in world view divide you. I give great credit to every ban-the-drones or reform-the-drones organization that supports war or avoids the topic of war, yet works in coalition with antiwar groups. More credit and gratitude to them.

    But many more people than attend one event in one city have these questions running through their minds, and the differences in viewpoint within the anti-drone movement may be helpful in forming one’s own view.

    One question plaguing me is how we will ever end the war crimes and the war atrocities and the war-driven abuses of civil liberties and human rights while continuing to dump $1 trillion into war and preparation for war every year. It’s hard to put numbers to these things, but if you chart the rise in military spending in the United States in recent years, you can chart the decline in civil rights along with it. I asked Hina Shamsi of the ACLU, which is always doing some of the most valuable work in opposing the symptoms of military spending whether the ACLU would ever oppose military spending. She replied that it would not, because that is a “political question,” ironically the same answer the courts give the ACLU when it tries to learn information about U.S. war programs. My point wasn’t that military spending was the same type of question as baseless imprisonment or torture or murder, but that as long as massive military spending goes on we will have a very hard time getting rid of those other things.

    David Glazier of Loyola Law School spoke brilliantly on the topic of how our nation or foreign nations might prosecute U.S. officials for war crimes. But he caught my attention by asserting that war itself is not a crime. Armed conflict is legal, he said. I asked how this squared with the Kellogg Briand Pact or the U.N. Charter, and he said that the “international legal community” had chosen to criminalize only “aggressive war,” that 9-11 was an attack, and that the Authorization to Use Military Force is a legal response to that attack. Are drone killings legal? According to Glazier we must examine each one to see whether it is proportional, militarily advantageous, etc. (And then, what? Build a movement of lawyers to object to the particular strikes we oppose?) This was not exactly Madar’s argument. Glazier was making a more-or-less legal case. But, of course, it is common practice to ignore the Kellogg Briand Pact — which banned all war, not aggressive war — and to pretend that U.S. wars comply with the U.N. Charter. But laws are written down so that they cannot be arbitrarily altered or erased by any “community,” and the notion that U.S. drone strikes are in compliance with the U.N. Charter is patently absurd. Why is it permissible to laugh at John Yoo’s legalization of torture but not at his legalization of wars, wars that are not defensive and not U.N. authorized?

    And once you’ve legalized war in your mind, how do you stop yourself from approving of it?

    This can be done, of course. There are many unjust laws that we oppose, work to change, yet admit the existence of. I’m on probation for having spoken in a Senate hearing. I consider that unjust but admit it exists.

    Yet, all too often we see people focus so closely on the legality of particular war tactics that they approve of those tactics morally. Sarah Holewinski of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict said at the Drone Summit that U.S. drone strikes should be done “legally,” “responsibly,” and “appropriately.” Drones are better than other weapons, she said, as if we have no choice but to use some weapon or other. I asked her to explain, and she said that she meant that we should operate within international law. She praised the drone program in Afghanistan, and condemned that in Pakistan. When someone objected to drone killings in Afghanistan, she said “I didn’t create international law.” But she and most other people accept a pro-war interpretation of what international law says. And then they accept that what it says is good and just.

    Also at the Drone Summit we were shown (primarily from Pakistan, but similar accounts have come out of Afghanistan): reports, photos, stories and hundreds of names of innocent children targeted and killed by U.S. drones, innocent men, women, and children killed, rescuers and funeral goers targeted and killed, people targeted and killed without attempting to identify them first, and revelation of false claims made to have killed the same supposedly important militant in multiple strikes, plus evidence that many more civilians have been killed than supposed militants (that is people alleged to be fighting in defense of their country, exactly what the United States so absurdly pretends to be doing when it kills with drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia).

    I don’t think we can do without attempts to apply pressure within the system of misgovernment here in Washington, D.C. We must have the FOIA requests. We must have the demand that legal justifications be invented for each new offense. Compelling Harold Koh to pretend that bombing Libya did not constitute either a war or hostilities was not nothing. But it was not as valuable as would have been a massive, well-funded, organized movement against bombing Libya. Pressuring Obama to say whether Awlaki’s 16-year-old son was a target or collateral damage is good. But it’s not as good as impeaching and prosecuting Obama for having assassinated people. And it’s not as good as an educational and organizational campaign that sees such action as morally just even if immediately unobtainable. We need the inside-game, just as we need whistleblowers if any such brave souls remain and can manage to make themselves heard.

    But, our goal, our vision, our salvation cannot be and will not be transparent adherence to the “laws of war,” any more than asking rapists to wear condoms will solve the problem of rape-crimes or rape-atrocities. The problems we are up against are these: military funding; military bureaucracy (Gareth Porter has reported on the CIA’s purely bureaucratic motivation for expanded drone wars); love of technology for its own sake; racism; ignorance; secrecy; a democracy deficit; and acceptance of war as a legal, reasonable, and appropriate instrument of national policy.

    Let’s not regulate murderous flying robots. Let’s create a world that gets along without them.

    David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio

     

    The State Department’s top Eurasia hand addressed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’s Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia on April 26 to present Washington’s perspective on and expectations of next month’s summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    In a presentation titled “The Chicago Summit and U.S. Policy,” the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Tina Kaidanow, laid out what the military alliance’s main powerhouse and financial backer demands of its 27 allies and in so doing indicated many of the top geopolitical objectives of her department and the U.S. government as a whole for the upcoming years.

    Commenting on the fact that the May 20-21 gathering of over fifty heads of state from nations supplying troops for the longest war in her nation’s history, that in Afghanistan, will occur in Chicago, only the second NATO summit in the U.S. and “the first ever outside of Washington,” Kaidanow reiterated the main purpose of the world’s only military bloc:

    “Our hosting of the Summit is a tangible symbol of the importance of NATO to the United States, as well as an opportunity to underscore to the American people the continued value of the Alliance to the security challenges we face today…NATO is vital to U.S. security. More than ever, the Alliance is the mechanism through which the U.S. confronts diverse and difficult threats to our security…Our experiences in the Cold War, in the Balkans, and now in Afghanistan prove that our core interests are better protected by working together than by seeking to respond to threats alone as individual nations.”

    What the House members listening to her, if not the casual reader, would understand by the above comments is that NATO is the chief vehicle employed by the State Department, White House and Pentagon to advance American political, economic and military interests in Eurasia and increasingly the rest of the world. As such, it’s well worth the U.S.’s efforts to provide the preponderance of its funding and military assets and further engineer its evolution into an expanding, ultimately global, military-political network. 

    Kaidanow included an elementary school primer-level synopsis of NATO’s history from its founding – “For…40 years…we.. stood united in purpose against the specter of communism” – until the fall of the Berlin Wall, after which “NATO helped to rebuild Central and Eastern European countries while integrating them into the trans-Atlantic community of democratic states.”

    The latter was accomplished by absorbing every former Soviet ally in the Warsaw Pact, and three past Soviet republics, into the alliance from 1999-2009, in the process conscripting troops from every one of them for deployment to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. No troops from the Warsaw Pact except the Soviet Union had been deployed outside Eastern Europe during the entire Cold War period.   

    Her presentation dutifully echoed that of her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the latter’s speech at the World Affairs Council 2012 NATO Conference on April 3. The U.S. is the only NATO member whose leading officials speak authoritatively in advance of the outcome, in fine detail, of the upcoming summit as the nation effectively determines the agenda, with a friendly nod in the direction of its fellow NATO Quint states – Britain, France, Germany and Italy – but nevertheless calling all the important shots. One wonders why, except for a vain propensity for pageantry and pomposity, summits are held at all given that the results have been decided upon long in advance.

    Early in her talk Kaidanow invoked the new Strategic Concept adopted at the last NATO summit in 2010, particularly highlighting the bloc’s Article 5 mutual military assistance (war) clause, affirming that “First and foremost, NATO remains committed to the Article 5 principle of collective defense.”

    That article is responsible for the stationing of 152,000 troops, at peak strength, from 50 nations in Afghanistan.

    When Kaidanow spoke of “integrating them [twelve Eastern European nations incorporated into NATO from 1999-2009] into the trans-Atlantic community,” she was in fact if not openly confirming the practical results of NATO expansion: To provide the U.S. and its Western allies with air, infantry, naval, radar and drone surveillance, missile, strategic airlift, cyber warfare and other bases and facilities east of the former Berlin Wall and legionaries for neocolonial wars and military occupations in the Balkans, Asia and Africa.

    She has been no disinterested observer in that process. In her current position and in a post that preceded it, Kaidanow has cultivated and consolidated the power of what are without dispute Washington’s two most favored – and pampered – satraps, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili and Kosovo’s Hashim Thaci, than whom there are no less savory and more malicious heads of state in the world. If the sociopathic ghoul in Kosovo and the megalomaniacal self-styled reincarnation of the medieval King Davit IV in Georgia are indicative of the U.S.’s political alliances, and if an empire can be judged by the foreign stooges it employs, then Washington has plummeted to a new imperial nadir.

    Like most of the current American foreign policy elite, Kaidanow cut her teeth in the Balkans in the 1990s, her first State Department assignments being in the U.S. embassies in Serbia (1995-1997) Bosnia (1997-1998) and Macedonia (1998-1999), in the last instance focusing on neighboring Kosovo.

    She attended the infamous Rambouillet conference in February of 1999 where the American delegation headed by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright threw down the gauntlet to Yugoslavia with the infamous Appendix B ultimatum and set the stage for the 78-day war that began on March 24. Rambouillet was also the debut of American asset Thaci, then an underworld kingpin and head of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, who was even then being groomed as the head of state be became in 2008 ahead of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in February of that year. Four years later a majority of the world’s nations still don’t recognize his organized crime-ridden fiefdom as a nation.

    Kaidanow was the Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Office in Kosovo from July 2006 to July 2008, until the George W. Bush administration appointed her the first American ambassador on July 19 of the latter year.

    In 2009, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (her Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary position, a promotion, was obtained last July), she visited Georgia a year after the Saakashvili regime invaded South Ossetia, thereby provoking a five-day war with Russia, and met with Defense Minister Bachana (Bacho) Akhalaia to discuss modernizing the nation’s armed forces (described as “reforms”), the impending deployment of U.S. Marine Corps-trained Georgian troops to Afghanistan to serve under NATO command and the U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership signed four months after the war of the preceding year. She returned two months afterward for the same purpose.

    In her April 26 appearance before the House committee, she hailed NATO as an alliance of “like-minded states who share our fundamental values of democracy, human rights, and rule of law.” NATO’s first war, against Yugoslavia thirteen years ago, and its partnerships with nations in former Soviet space have produced the likes of Hashim Thaci and Mikheil Saakashvili. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

    Speaking of goals to be discussed and promoted at the Chicago summit, she said:

    “In addition to being a collective security alliance, NATO is also a cooperative security organization. Unlike an ad hoc coalition, NATO can respond rapidly and achieve its military goals by sharing burdens. In particular, NATO benefits from integrated structures and uses common funding to develop common capabilities. “

    That is, NATO is a mechanism for the permanent military integration of European states for the purpose of the U.S. securing auxiliary troops for wars outside the Euro-Atlantic zone.

    Concerning the first of three main items of discussion at the summit, the war in Afghanistan, Kaidanow asserted:

    “[T]he Summit will make clear that NATO will not abandon Afghanistan after the ISAF mission concludes. In Chicago, the Alliance will reaffirm its enduring commitment beyond 2014 and define a new phase of cooperation with Afghanistan. “

    As to the true and residual purpose of the Afghan campaign, she added, “we must continue our efforts to develop NATO’s role as a global hub for security partnerships, ” which Afghanistan has been used as the crucible for.

    The latter relates to the third point, building worldwide military partnerships, regarding which one is reminded of Aesopian cautionary tales about being offered cooperation by wolves and lions. Upon hearing such propositions, a sensible creature starts inching backward into the sheep pen or out of the lair.

    The other priority at next month’s summit is what both Kaidanow and Clinton before her referred to as critical defense capability requirements, with the former saying, “NATO’s ability to deploy an effective fighting force in the field makes the Alliance unique” and that, pressuring allies to cough up the funds to ensure it, “its capacity to deter and respond to security challenges will only be as successful as its forces are able, effective, interoperable, and modern.”   

    To reinforce and flesh out the above, she added:

    “The United States is modernizing its presence in Europe at the same time that our NATO Allies, and NATO as an institution, are engaged in similar steps. This is a clear opportunity for our European Allies to take on greater responsibility. The U.S. continues to encourage Allies to meet the two percent benchmark for defense spending and to contribute politically, financially, and operationally to the strength and security of the Alliance.”

    She, like her superior at Foggy Bottom, accentuated several key projects in Europe, the most important of which is the U.S.-created European Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile system.

    Kaidanow acknowledged commitments already obtained to that end in Poland, Romania, Turkey and Spain and said, “We would welcome additional Allied contributions. “

    Another summit item is the further integration and expansion of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Lest anyone be confused about the purpose of those and mistake them as in any way defensive in character, the following comments from Kaidanow will disabuse them of the notion:

    “Allies contributed more combat power in Libya than in previous operations (almost 90 percent of all air-to-ground strike missions in Libya were conducted by European pilots, as compared to 10 percent in the Kosovo air campaign in 1999). However, Libya demonstrated considerable shortfalls in European ISR capabilities as the U.S. provided one quarter of the ISR sorties, nearly half of the ISR aircraft, and the vast majority of analytical capability. This past February, NATO defense ministers agreed to fund the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) program. The five drones that comprise this system will provide NATO with crucial information, including identifying potential threats, monitoring developing situations such as humanitarian crises, and distinguishing possible targets for air strikes.”

    She also spoke of the now over eight-year patrol of the Baltic Sea sky by NATO warplanes which this year has been extended to 2018, which is to say in perpetuity, revealing an interesting link along the way: “This helps assure the security of allies in a way that is cost effective, allowing them to invest resources into other important NATO operations such as Afghanistan. “

    Kaidanow also assured her congressional interlocutors – again in advance; see above comments – that next month’s NATO summit will endorse the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR).

    Doing so “will reaffirm NATO’s determination to maintain modern, flexible, credible capabilities that are tailored to meet 21st century security challenges. The DDPR will identify the appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities that NATO needs to meet these challenges.. .”

    She then touted the role of NATO’s global partnership arrangements, “working with a growing number of partners around the world,” as they “allow the Alliance to extend its reach, act with greater legitimacy, share burdens, and benefit from the capabilities of others.”

    Regarding which regions among others the expanding military partnerships will be  focused on, Kaidanow stated: “In light of the dramatic events of the Arab Spring and NATO’s success in Libya, we envision a particular focus on further engagement with partners in the wider Middle East and North Africa region.”

    She also promoted a new category of nations being cultivated for full NATO accession called aspirant countries – currently Bosnia, Georgia, Macedonia and Montenegro – which are “all working closely with Allies to meet NATO criteria so they may enter the Alliance.”

    Regarding the most controversial of those four candidate nations, Georgia, she insisted:

    “U.S. security assistance and military engagement support the country’s defense reforms, train and equip Georgian troops for participation in ISAF operations, and advance its NATO interoperability. In January, President Obama and President Saakashvili agreed to enhance this cooperation to advance Georgian military modernization, defense reform, and self-defense capabilities. ..U.S. support for Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders remains steadfast, and our non-recognition of the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will not change.”

    *****

    The U.S. makes decisions for the military bloc it created and its 27 allies rubber-stamp them.

    With the results already determined, the claim by NATO that it is an alliance of equals and that their summits are in any many deliberative is given the lie.

    What has already been decided, as confirmed by Deputy Secretary Kaidanow on April 26, is that NATO will remain the world’s only nuclear alliance, one which will continue stationing U.S. strategic weapons on air bases in European countries under NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangement.

    That NATO military forces, including the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, will remain in Afghanistan long past 2014.

    That the U.S. will steadily expand its interceptor missile system from one end of Europe to the other under NATO auspices.

    That the U.S. and NATO will continue to move military forces and equipment to Russia’s borders.

    That the hallmark of NATO mutual obligations is the bloc’s Article 5, which commits all members to intervene, up to and including going to war, on behalf of any member state which requests intervention.

    That NATO will be used to recruit national contingents from scores of nations for military actions like those in Afghanistan and Libya.

    That NATO will continue to build a global military network even beyond its 80 or so current members and partners.

    That the U.S.-led organization will even more aggressively promote itself as an international – as the only international – military intervention force. 

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    Confronted with a declining World Order it can no longer control, does the West want to re-assert its will through a new world war, which this time would be really global?

    A terrifying scenario emerges from the ceaseless escalation of pressures and threats against Syria and Iran, pitting, for the first time since the NATO-OECD Empire won the Cold War two decades ago, the Western trio of the UN veto club (U.S., U.K., France) against its non-Western duo (Russia and China).

    These two latter superpowers, key players of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) spanning the Eurasian mega continent, have blocked the trio’s plans to carry out a Libya-II in Syria, and to choke Iran with an array of sanctions that include cutting off its oil exports — while keeping the military strike option “on the table.”

    This is the first time the Russians and Chinese have, together, raised obstacles in the way of the apparently unstoppable march of the victors of the Cold War — and the destroyers of the former Soviet Empire.

    But the march of the NATO-OECD Empire is becoming less and less triumphal. With support from most of the non-Western countries of the Non Aligned Movement and the G77, Russia and China are reasserting the primacy of international law and UN diplomacy in tackling the Syria and Iran issues, hobbling further the Western propensity to drown every “crisis,” real or fabricated, under a carpet of bombs, missiles and boots on the ground — with dire unintended consequences for all!


    From Euphoria to Quagmire and Decline

    Still basking in its victory over the ex-Soviet Empire, the NATO-OECD Empire dismembered the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and extended NATO to the European limits of Russia — which did not react militarily. Moscow reacted only when NATO tried to take hold in the Caucasus, through Georgia and Azerbaijan.

    Despite the French “lone wolf” episode in Rwanda, the Empire also reinforced its hegemony over the Great Lakes region of Africa — as compensation for the fall of Apartheid in the South of the continent. Neither Russia nor China budged. And China coolly swallowed the repeated provocations of the Empire along its borders — through Tibet, Xinjiang, Burma, Taiwan, North Korea.

    But as the 21st century set in, the Empire began to falter. The attacks of September 11, 2001 precipitated implementation of a New World Order according to George W. Bush’s PNAC (Project for a New American Century): “You are either with us or against us.”

    For the first time in its history, NATO invoked Article 5 of its Charter to attack and occupy Afghanistan — bypassing the UN. Two years later, again without UN approval, the Empire attacked and occupied Iraq.

    But very soon it hit a quagmire. By 2012, these wars will have cost $4 trillion, according to the Oakland Institute — while OECD economies stagnate or decline. Throughout the West, crises won’t stop, unemployment is up, debt is ballooning — while the weight and influence of the “Rest” (China, India, Brazil, Iran, South Africa, et al.) keep growing globally.

    The Empire saps the UN and Boosts NATO

    This shifting balance of power has compelled the old G7 to turn to the G20 to manage the world economy. But the G7 keeps stalling much called-for UN reform and Security Council enlargement, as it clings to its waning political supremacy.

    More resolutely, the G7 continues to boost its military superiority: 21 of the 34 States of the OECD are members of NATO, which has pushed the limits of the “North Atlantic” to the Indian Ocean, Central Asia and Africa (with Africom) — while also targeting Australasia and the Pacific.

    As real productivity migrates away from the West, the unsteady economies of the NATO-OECD Empire depend more than ever on the “Military-Industrial Complex” that Dwight Eisenhower warned us against. According to the Swedish SIPRI Institute, NATO countries devoted more than $1 trillion (1,000 billion) last year to military expenditure.

    With allies like Saudi Arabia ($42 billion, 11 per cent of GDP, 8th place), Australia ($20 billion, 1.9 per cent, 14th) and Israel ($13 billion, 6.3 per cent, 18th), NATO and its friends accounted for more than two-thirds of a global military expenditure of $1.6 trillion in 2011. With $698 billion (4.8 per cent of GDP, 1st place), the U.S. alone accounted for 43 per cent of world defence spending. Canada ($22.8 billion, 1.5 per cent) came 13th.

    In comparison, China spent $120 billion (2.1 per cent of GDP, 2nd place), Russia $58 billion (4 per cent, 5th), India $41 billion (2.7 per cent, 10th), Brazil $30 billion (1.6 per cent, 11th) — with $7.7 billion for Iran (1.8 per cent, 25th) and $2.2 billion for Syria (4 per cent, 53rd)!

    The Empire and the Israel-Oil-Emirates-Turkey axis

    This is the backdrop to the incessant roll of NATO-OECD drums of war over Syria and Iran. The twin crises are inseparably linked: through Syria, its key Arab ally, and its bridge to the (Shiite) Lebanese Hezbollah and the (Sunni) Palestinian Hamas, it’s Iran which is the target, Iran which broke free of the Empire more than 30 years ago.

    Motives abound:

    1. The Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas-Iran axis holds Israel in check;

    2. The Shiite awakening, Arab and Persian, and unambiguously republican, threatens the feudal Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, beginning with Saudi Arabia and its puritan wahhabi brand of Islamic fundamentalism;

    3. After destroying Saddam Hussein’s secular and anti-monarchist Baath regime (and Iraq along with it), the Empire, backed by the Oil Emirates, Israel and Turkey, is frantically trying to steer, even hijack, the Arab Spring;

    4. Turkey, a member of both NATO and the OECD, sees itself as a Sunni republican rival of Iran — drawing on its new “moderate” Islamist regime and on its Ottoman past as ruler of the Arabs for nearly 700 years;

    5. Syria has its own secular Baath regime, which has been pressured by the Arab Spring and by its allies to open up to pluralism and hold general elections on May 7 — but the Empire keeps battering it ruthlessly, because what it wants is “regime change”;

    6. Meanwhile the Empire is doing all it can to maintain the status quo in Yemen, and in Bahrain, home of the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Gulf, where a Sunni royal family rules over a Shiite majority;

    7. The Sunni oil emirate of Qatar continues the propaganda war for the Empire via Al Jazeera TV, even though key journalists are leaving and accusing the network of fabricating false video reports on Libya and Syria. Qatar shares with the atoll of Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, the HQ of the U.S. Central Command (Centcom).

    A military victory for a New World Order?

    The campaign in the U.S. leading to the November presidential and Congressional elections, now pitting Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, is an additional factor that heightens the threat of a new world war, in the context of the inexorable decline of the NATO-OECD Empire.

    Romney and his Republican rivals have publicly called for “doing everything, covertly and deniably, to isolate, choke and destabilize Iran, to kill its nuclear scientists, to destroy its facilities, and to bring down the regime.” Short of declaring war on Iran, Obama the Democrat is doing all that, but Romney believes, with Israel and the hawkish camp in Washington, that only war will work.

    Some hawks are Evangelical Zionists who pontificate on U.S. TV about biblical prophecies, and call for U.S. support for the “King of the North” (Israel) in the necessary Armageddon against the “King of the South” (Iran) — although my reading of the map points to Saudi Arabia as “King of the South”! For them, this war is absolutely essential to the Second Coming of Christ.

    These hawks think that a victorious war against the Iran-Syria axis will provide the West with the opportunity to impose a (divinely sanctioned) New World Order tailored to the interests of the NATO-OECD Empire.

    The opposite camp fears another costly quagmire, like in Afghanistan-Iraq-Pakistan, and further decline of Empire. But the U.S., Britain and France also find the war option tempting, as they recall how they imposed their own global dispensation after World Wars I and II. They won the Cold War, but they do not have the means other than a “Hot War” to establish a Diktat which is universally scorned.

    After demonstrating its military superiority and getting a real stranglehold over Arab and Persian oil, the Empire would force countries like China, India, Japan, Indonesia, and South Africa, among others, to depend on its benevolence for stable and secure supplies for their crucial energy needs. The UN could then be reformed and the Security Council enlarged, but in a way that would allow the Empire to keep its decisive political power within the architecture of the world system.

    As it continues moving away from a uni-polar to a multi-polar world, the “Rest” obviously sees things differently. The Empire “just doesn’t get it” and keeps reaching for the caveman’s club, says the Rest. But the West keeps doing all it can to provoke a larger, global showdown, which the Rest has no appetite for and is determined to avoid.

    Talks, Freeze, Sanctions and Terrorist Wars

    Such are the dark schemes hovering on the Iran-Syria crisis. Iran just met with the P5+1 (the five UN Security Council “permanents,” plus Germany) in Istanbul to explain and defend its nuclear program, once again. Iran was quick to reassert its peaceful nuclear rights under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and countered its inquisitors by calling for global nuclear disarmament. The P3 trio deemed the meeting “positive.” Discussions will resume in Baghdad in May.

    But on the ground inside Iran, where the eight-year war waged by Saddam Hussein on behalf of the Empire ended in 1988, terrorists groups linked to the West continue to operate relentlessly. They are, in the main, the MeK (Moujahidine-e-khalq), the Kurdish Komoleh and PJAK, and the Sunni Jundallah, based in Pakistan. Nuclear scientists are being assassinated. Neighbouring Azerbaijan also has an eye on the territory of 16 million Azeris living in Iran.

    Iran’s assets and accounts are frozen and the West refuses to sell it all kinds of goods, including spare parts critical to the safety of its civilian airlines. A campaign is now on to obtain a worldwide boycott of its oil exports. Iran has preemptively cut off oil supplies to some European countries, triggering a rise in prices and in unemployment.

    But India and China continue to purchase Iranian oil. They refuse to bow to what they call “internal U.S. rules,” and argue that Iranian oil is essential for their development. The Empire is playing India against China by giving New Delhi access to its nuclear technology — and squeezing Pakistan, which seems to value its friendship with China more than its old dependence on the West. India, looking out for its own interest, has signed a deal with Iran to settle their bilateral trade in riyals and rupees. However, India may not resist the siren song of the West if the NATO-OECD Empire were to take over or disable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the fog of war.

    War Preparations, from Syria to the Caucasus

    India and Iran, together with Pakistan and Afghanistan, enjoy observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is prepared to upgrade them to full membership. And the SCO is lined up solidly behind Iran, together with Latin America, where Uncle Sam is in retreat, and with many African and other Asian countries. The entry of both India and Pakistan, together with Iran, as full-fledged members of the SCO, an emerging powerhouse of neighbourly co-operation, trade and security under the joint leadership of Russia and China, is too much of a nightmare for the declining NATO-OECD Empire to contemplate.

    Russian troop movements have been reported in the Caucasus along the Georgia and Azerbaijan borders. Georgian opposition members say new hospitals built in the country with U.S. help are part of war contingencies. Azerbaijan has purchased arms worth $1.6 billion from Israel, which imports one-third of its oil needs from Baku. The risks of a generalized conflagration are high, and will only rise with the approach of the U.S. elections — as most eyes will be on the U.S. “withdrawal” from Afghanistan.

    On Syria, the Empire says it supports the mediation efforts of Kofi Annan as Special Envoy for the UN, and the Arab League, which is itself in deep transition. But the Empire has declared in the same breath that it is financing and arming the forces that are carrying out war operations inside Syria from nearby Lebanon and Turkey. The Empire is feeding a civil war in Syria and shows it will countenance no compromise.

    Propaganda and Police State Measures

    The option of an outright military strike against Iran and Syria has been frenziedly promoted by Israel, itself a nuclear power, though undeclared, which refuses to sign the NPT and submit its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. The U.S. repeats that the military option against Iran “remains on the table” — hanging as a Damocles sword over the Middle East, and the world.

    With Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyya, the Western media keeps on demonizing Iran and Syria for a coming overt war led by NATO and its allies — “this sounds just like the propaganda we heard before the attack on Iraq,” said Ron Paul, the black sheep of the Republican hopefuls.

    These same media meanwhile are silent on the growing trend within the Empire towards measures typical of police states — the assaults on rights and freedoms, and on citizen privacy, the militarization of police as seen in the brutal repression of the 99 per cent, the authority to arrest, torture, detain, and even kill, citizens on “suspicion of terrorism” — all in the name of “national security.”

    German writer and Nobel laureate Günther Grass was hit by widespread censorship in the West for his poem What Must Be Said, which criticizes nuclear Israel for clamouring for war against Iran “where the existence/Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,” and for endangering “the already fragile world peace.” Israel quickly declared him persona non grata. As the Rest refuses to rise to the bait of the West over Iran, we may yet avoid war. But if the new, dreaded war does come to pass, those who will oppose it within the very NATO-OECD Empire know what treatment to expect.

    Notes

    [1] http://rabble.ca/taxonomy/term/369
    [2] http://rabble.ca/sites/rabble/files/node-images/NATO.jpg
    [3] http://rabble.ca/news/2012/03/dont-attack-iran-five-lessons-iraq-war
    [4] http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/redeye/2012/03/evaluating-pressures-iran
    [5] http://rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/us-israel-european-powers-and-canada-threaten-iran-5
    [6] http://rabble.ca/user
    [7] http://rabble.ca/user/register

    The United Arab Emirates officials are burning with a low blue flame. They have once again started insulting the Iranian nation using an arrogant and offensive language. What has irritated them this time is the recent visit paid by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian island of Abu Musa in the Persian Gulf as part of his provincial trip to the southern province of Hormozgan on April 11. They claim that the island belongs to their soil and that Iran has violated their territorial integrity by continuing its “occupation” of the strategic island.

    Of course fueling anti-Iranian sentiments has been constantly on the UAE officials’ political agenda. The statesmen of the newborn, tiny Arab sheikhdom think that by launching verbal attacks against Iran, they can gain power and popularity. But they have brought their eggs to the wrong market. Hostility and rivaling with Iran will backfire and fail. The hullabaloo of the Emirati officials is a tempest in a teapot and there’s no trace of logic and rationality in it. What is annoying and painful is that by credulously neglecting the principle of peaceful neighborhood and coexistence, the Arab officials are muttering the words of Israel, the U.S. and UK about Iran and upsetting a neighbor which has always contributed to their progress and development.

    Over the past days, I was following the headlines and articles of the Arab newspapers and magazines. To my utmost surprise, I found that they have been collectively pursuing a unified policy of vilifying and denigrating Iran over the Abu Musa dispute. In line with their politicians and statesmen, the Arab media have used the most odious and abhorrent language against Iran, as if they were talking about a sworn enemy with which they have been at odds for centuries.

    The public atmosphere of the Arab nations since the short trip of Iranian president to the Abu Musa island has been an ambience of hatred, antagonism and hostility. Iran believes that the UAE follows the path of the Western powers and Israel by saying that Abu Musa is occupied by Iran. But the UAE officials deny the charge as Anwar Mohammed Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has rudely claimed that “we have fed up with the record of foreign pressure which the Iranians kept parroting.”

    Peter Hellyer, an American executive associated with the UAE Ministry of Information and Culture has discourteously called as “ludicrous” the statement by Iranian parliamentarians that the UK drives UAE in citing territorial claims against the Iranian island of Abu Musa. Albeit, it was consequently proved that Iranians’ suspicion about the possible role of the U.S., UK and other Western states in the UAE’s anti-Iranian scenario was right when the foreign ministries of Italy, France, UK and the U.S. Department of State issued separate statements, backing the tiny sheikhdom’s claims on the Abu Musa island.

    An article run by the UAE newspaper “The National” written by Michael Theodoulou has impolitely called the Iranian president “publicity-loving and populist” and condemned his trip to the Abu Musa island. The other Arab nations in the region were not hesitant in rushing up to attack and insult Iran over the island row. Ali Bluwi, a columnist with the Saudi-based “Arab News” wrote an impertinent article titled “Iran’s political bluff,” describing Iran as a country suffering from “superiority complex.”

    “Iran lives in self-denial and as if it is an angel free of defects and flaws. Psychologically, those suffering from superiority complex believe they can set a good example for others to copy,” he wrote.

    Other Arab media have also shown the same reaction. They published articles and editorials with bombastic and insolent language, attacking Iranian people and officials in an impudent way.

    Historical evidence confirming that the islands of Abu Musa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb have always been an inseparable part of Iran’s soil is so abundant and plentiful that takes several research projects and scholarly articles to be cited. Historical documents including hundreds of precious ancient maps kept in the world museum give proof to the fact that the triple islands of Persian Gulf constitute the southernmost parts of Iran and that the claims of Emirati officials are unfounded, illegitimate and baseless. However, what is unfortunate and regrettable is that the UAE officials and statesmen from other Arab countries have all joined an ill-fated anti-Iranian scenario which bears no fruit and only costs them the friendship of a committed and faithful ally.

    Over the past four decades and following the establishment of the United Arab Emirates, Iranians have enormously invested their money in different financial and economic sectors of the small Arab state, helping the vast, extensive desert turn into a prosperous country which has now become the hub of tourism in the Persian Gulf.

    Some Iranian lawmakers have suggested that it’s better for Tehran to sever its ties with Abu Dhabi so that the tiny Emirates may learn a lesson not to interfere in Iran’s internal affairs in the future and refrain from making provocative statements about Iran’s territorial integrity. Iran’s Army Commander Ahmad Reza Pourdastan has also implied that all options are on the table vis-à-vis those who question Iran’s territorial integrity: “if the sedition is not resolved through diplomacy, military forces are ready to show the prowess of the establishment to the claimant.”

    Iran’s cultural managers have also showed their diplomatic finesse and skill by saying that they will hold the next edition of Persian Gulf cultural festival in the Iranian island of Abu Musa. Vali Esmaili, a member of Iranian Parliament’s Domestic Policy Committee has also said that Iran is preparing the plans for establishing a new province called “Persian Gulf” with the “Abu Musa” island as its capital.

    At any rate, when it comes to territorial integrity, Iranians have always shown a firm stance and demonstrated that they will not retreat an iota from their rights. In the 1980s when the United States and several European countries backed and equipped the late dictator Saddam Hussein in the war which he waged on Iran, the Iranians didn’t surrender an inch of their soil to the enemy.

    Now, perhaps the UAE can win a psychological war against Iran with the help of numerous Arab and Western media outlets who are ready to blast and blitz Iran on every occasion, but the fact on ground is that Abu Musa and the two other Persian Gulf islands will remain an eternal and indissoluble part of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s soil.

     Torture Cheerleaders Back In the News Trying to Defend the Indefensible

    10 Torture Myths Debunked

    The so-called “debate” about whether torture helped to keep us safe is reemerging, as the former chief of CIA clandestine operations Jose Rodriguez is about to publish a book claiming that the use of “enhanced interrogation” practices including water-boarding saved lives.

    “We made some al-Qaeda terrorists with American blood on their hands uncomfortable for a few days,” Rodriguez said in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that will air on Sunday, April 29. “I am very secure in what we did and am very confident that what we did saved American lives.”

    Torture is also back in the news because Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats are producing a report stating that torture isn’t effective in producing information.

    We will quote the top American military and intelligence interrogation experts to debunk the following 10 common myths about torture:

        1. Torture is a partisan issue

        2. Waterboarding isn’t torture

        3. Torture increases our national security

        4. Torture is necessary to break hardened terrorists

        5. Torture is necessary in a “ticking time bomb” situation

        6. The “enhanced” interrogation techniques were aimed at producing actionable intelligence

        7. Torture helped to get Bin Laden

        8. Torture provided valuable details regarding 9/11

        9. Only bad guys were tortured

        10. America doesn’t torture any more

    Myth # 1: Torture Is a Partisan Issue

    George Washington – the father of our country before there were any parties – was against torture. Torture is not leftwing or rightwing … it is simply un-American.

    And both Democrats and Republicans approved torture. As we noted in 2009:

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy told the New York Times:

    The temptation to abuse powers in a crisis is bipartisan and the [proposed truth] commission’s review should include the role of Democrats in Congress in approving the Bush policies.

    As I have previously written, Nancy Pelosi was secretly briefed on torture many, many years ago, and yet did nothing to stop those unlawful programs. Indeed, she egged the torturers on. Pelosi was also secretly tipped off about warrantless spying on Americans.

    And Pelosi hid from the 9/11 Commission and the American people the fact that the interrogations of 9/11 suspects were videotaped, and that the alleged “confessions” of those held at Gitmo were wholly unreliable. She could have stopped the whole farce cold — but chose to go along with it.

    Leading democrats Harman, Rockefeller and others in Congress were also war criminals, accessories after the fact, and co-conspirators.

    And as shown below, many conservative military and intelligence officers oppose torture.

    Myth # 2: Waterboarding Isn’t Torture

    Yes, waterboarding is torture:

    • Everyone claiming waterboarding is not torture has changed their tune as soon as they were exposed to even a small dose of it themselves. See this, this and this

    (In addition, a lot more than waterboarding was used on detainees. See this, this and this.)

    Myth # 3: Torture Increases Our National Security

    Torture apologists say that torture is a necessary evil for protecting our national security. In fact, torture reduces our national security:

    • The head of all U.S. intelligence said:

      “The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world,” [Director of National Intelligence Dennis] Blair said in the statement. “The damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”

    • A top counter-terrorism expert says torture increases the risk of terrorism (and see this).
    • One of the top military interrogators said that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place (and see this).
    • Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke says that America’s indefinite detention without trial and abuse of prisoners is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting tool
    • A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:

      Torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.

    “The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies … strengthened the hand of our enemies.”

    • General Petraeus said that torture hurts our national security
    • The reporter who broke Iran-Contra and other stories says that torture actually helped Al Qaeda, by giving false leads to the U.S. which diverted its military, intelligence and economic resources into wild goose chases
    • Raw Story says that torture might have resulted in false terror alerts
    • Hundreds of other experts have said the same things

    Myth # 4: Torture Is Necessary to Break Hardened Terrorists

    We’ve repeatedly noted that virtually all of the top interrogation experts – both conservatives and liberals (except for those trying to escape war crimes prosecution) – say that torture doesn’t work:

    • Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1says:

      “Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”

    • The C.I.A.’s 1963 interrogation manual stated:

    Intense pain is quite likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping from distress. A time-consuming delay results, while investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue. During this respite the interrogatee can pull himself together. He may even use the time to think up new, more complex ‘admissions’ that take still longer to disprove.

    • According to the Washington Post, the CIA’s top spy – Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service – said that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration. “I don’t think we’ve suffered at all from an intelligence standpoint.”
    • A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks (Milton Bearden) says(as quoted by senior CIA agent and Presidential briefer Ray McGovern):

      It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose. *** The old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work ….

    • A former high-level CIA officer (Philip Giraldi) states:

    Many governments that have routinely tortured to obtain information have abandoned the practice when they discovered that other approaches actually worked better for extracting information. Israel prohibited torturing Palestinian terrorist suspects in 1999. Even the German Gestapo stopped torturing French resistance captives when it determined that treating prisoners well actually produced more and better intelligence.

    • Another former high-level CIA official (Bob Baer) says:

      And torture — I just don’t think it really works … you don’t get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you.

    • Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, says:

      “I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”

    • A retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002 (Glenn L. Carle) says:

      [Coercive techniques] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information…Everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”

    • A former top Air Force interrogator who led the team that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has conducted hundreds of interrogations of high ranking Al Qaida members and supervising more than one thousand, and wrote a book called How to Break a Terrorist writes:

    As the senior interrogator in Iraq for a task force charged with hunting down Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the former Al Qaida leader and mass murderer, I listened time and time again to captured foreign fighters cite the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as their main reason for coming to Iraq to fight. Consider that 90 percent of the suicide bombers in Iraq are these foreign fighters and you can easily conclude that we have lost hundreds, if not thousands, of American lives because of our policy of torture and abuse. But that’s only the past.Somewhere in the world there are other young Muslims who have joined Al Qaida because we tortured and abused prisoners. These men will certainly carry out future attacks against Americans, either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or possibly even here. And that’s not to mention numerous other Muslims who support Al Qaida, either financially or in other ways, because they are outraged that the United States tortured and abused Muslim prisoners. In addition, torture and abuse has made us less safe because detainees are less likely to cooperate during interrogations if they don’t trust us. I know from having conducted hundreds of interrogations of high ranking Al Qaida members and supervising more than one thousand, that when a captured Al Qaida member sees us live up to our stated principles they are more willing to negotiate and cooperate with us. When we torture or abuse them, it hardens their resolve and reaffirms why they picked up arms.

    He also says:

    [Torture is] extremely ineffective, and it’s counter-productive to what we’re trying to accomplish.When we torture somebody, it hardens their resolve … The information that you get is unreliable. … And even if you do get reliable information, you’re able to stop a terrorist attack, al Qaeda’s then going to use the fact that we torture people to recruit new members.

    And he repeats:

    I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

    He saidlast week:

    They don’t want to talk about the long term consequences that cost the lives of Americans…. The way the U.S. treated its prisoners “was al-Qaeda’s number-one recruiting tool and brought in thousands of foreign fighters who killed American soldiers.

    • The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work
    • Another FBI interrogator of 9/11 suspects said:

    I was in the middle of this, and it’s not true that these [aggressive] techniques were effective

    • The FBI warned military interrogators in 2003 that enhanced interrogation techniques are “of questionable effectiveness” and cited a “lack of evidence of [enhanced techniques’] success.
    • The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn’t work, stating:

      The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.

    • General Petraeus says that torture is unnecessary
    • Retired 4-star General Barry McCaffrey – who Schwarzkopf called he hero of Desert Storm – agrees
    • Former Navy Judge Advocate General Admiral John Hutson says:

      Fundamentally, those kinds of techniques are ineffective. If the goal is to gain actionable intelligence, and it is, and if that’s important, and it is, then we have to use the techniques that are most effective. Torture is the technique of choice of the lazy, stupid and pseudo-tough.

      He also says:

      Another objection is that torture doesn’t work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners.

    • Army Colonel Stuart Herrington – a military intelligence specialist who interrogated generals under the command of Saddam Hussein and evaluated US detention operations at Guantánamo – notesthat the process of obtaining information is hampered, not helped, by practices such as “slapping someone in the face and stripping them naked”. Herrington and other former US military interrogators say:

      We know from experience that it is very difficult to elicit information from a detainee who has been abused. The abuse often only strengthens their resolve and makes it that much harder for an interrogator to find a way to elicit useful information.

    • Major General Thomas Romig, former Army JAG, said:

      If you torture somebody, they’ll tell you anything. I don’t know anybody that is good at interrogation, has done it a lot, that will say that that’s an effective means of getting information. … So I don’t think it’s effective.

    • Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke says that America’s indefinite detention without trial and abuse of prisoners is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting tool.
    • The first head of the Department of Homeland Security – Tom Ridge – says we were wrong to torture.The former British intelligence chairman says that waterboarding didn’t stop terror plots.
    • A spokesman for the National Security Council (Tommy Vietor) says:

      The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003.

    In researching this article, I spoke to numerous counterterrorist officials from agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Their conclusion is unanimous: not only have coercive methods failed to generate significant and actionable intelligence, they have also caused the squandering of resources on a massive scale through false leads, chimerical plots, and unnecessary safety alerts…Here, they say, far from exposing a deadly plot, all torture did was lead to more torture of his supposed accomplices while also providing some misleading “information” that boosted the administration’s argument for invading Iraq.

    • Neuroscientists have found that torture physically and chemically interferes with the prisoner’s ability to tell the truth
    • An Army psychologist – Major Paul Burney, Army’s Behavior Science Consulting Team psychologist – said (page 78 & 83):

    was stressed to me time and time again that psychological investigations have proven that harsh interrogations do not work. At best it will get you information that a prisoner thinks you want to hear to make the interrogation stop, but that information is strongly likely to be false.*** Interrogation techniques that rely on physical or adverse consequences are likely to garner inaccurate information and create an increased level of resistance…There is no evidence that the level of fear or discomfort evoked by a given technique has any consistent correlation to the volume or quality of information obtained.

    • An expert on resisting torture – Terrence Russell, JPRA’s manager for research and development and a SERE specialist – said (page 209):

    History has shown us that physical pressures are not effective for compelling an individual to give information or to do something’ and are not effective for gaining accurate, actionable intelligence.

    Indeed, it has been known for hundreds of years that torture doesn’t work:

    • As a former CIA analyst notes:

    During the Inquisition there were many confessed witches, and many others were named by those tortured as other witches. Unsurprisingly, when these new claimed witches were tortured, they also confessed. Confirmation of some statement made under torture, when that confirmation is extracted by another case of torture, is invalid information and cannot be trusted.

    • The head of Britain’s wartime interrogation center in London said:

    “Violence is taboo. Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”

    • The national security adviser to Vice President George H.W. Bush (Donald P. Gregg) wrote:

    During wartime service with the CIA in Vietnam from 1970 to 1972, I was in charge of intelligence operations in the 10 provinces surrounding Saigon. One of my tasks was to prevent rocket attacks on Saigon’s port.Keeping Saigon safe required human intelligence, most often from captured prisoners. I had a running debate about how North Vietnamese prisoners should be treated with the South Vietnamese colonel who conducted interrogations. This colonel routinely tortured prisoners, producing a flood of information, much of it totally false. I argued for better treatment and pressed for key prisoners to be turned over to the CIA, where humane interrogation methods were the rule – and more accurate intelligence was the result. The colonel finally relented and turned over a battered prisoner to me, saying, “This man knows a lot, but he will not talk to me.” We treated the prisoner’s wounds, reunited him with his family, and allowed him to make his first visit to Saigon. Surprised by the city’s affluence, he said he would tell us anything we asked. The result was a flood of actionable intelligence that allowed us to disrupt planned operations, including rocket attacks against Saigon. Admittedly, it would be hard to make a story from nearly 40 years ago into a definitive case study. But there is a useful reminder here. The key to successful interrogation is for the interrogator – even as he controls the situation – to recognize a prisoner’s humanity, to understand his culture, background and language. Torture makes this impossible. There’s a sad twist here. Cheney forgets that the Bush administration followed this approach with some success. A high-value prisoner subjected to patient interrogation by an Arabic-speaking FBI agent yielded highly useful information, including the final word on Iraq’s weapons programs. His name was Saddam Hussein.

    • Top interrogators got information from a high-level Al Qaeda suspects through building rapport, even if they hated the person they were interrogating by treating them as human

    Senator John McCain explains, based upon his own years of torture:

    I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.

    Myth # 5: Torture Is Necessary In a “Ticking Time Bomb” Situation

    According to the experts, torture is unnecessary even to prevent “ticking time bombs” from exploding (see this, this and this).

    Indeed, a top expert says that torture would fail in a real ‘ticking time-bomb’ situation

    Myth # 6: The “Enhanced” Techniques Were At Least Aimed at Producing Actionable Intelligence

    The torture techniques used were Communist techniques specifically designed to produce false confessions:

    As I notedin 2009:

    Senator Levin, in commenting on the Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture declassified today, drops the following bombshell:

    With last week’s release of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions, it is now widely known that Bush administration officials distorted Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape “SERE” training – a legitimate program used by the military to train our troops to resist abusive enemy interrogations – by authorizing abusive techniques from SERE for use in detainee interrogations. Those decisions conveyed the message that abusive treatment was appropriate for detainees in U.S. custody. They were also an affront to the values articulated by General Petraeus. In SERE training, U.S. troops are briefly exposed, in a highly controlled setting, to abusive interrogation techniques used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions. The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting false confessions for propaganda purposes. Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. Until recently, the Navy SERE school also used waterboarding. The purpose of the SERE program is to provide U.S. troops who might be captured a taste of the treatment they might face so that they might have a better chance of surviving captivity and resisting abusive and coercive interrogations.

    Senator Levin then documents that SERE techniques were deployed as part of an official policy on detainees, and that SERE instructors helped to implement the interrogation programs. The senior Army SERE psychologist warned in 2002 against using SERE training techniques during interrogations in an email to personnel at Guantanamo Bay, because:

    [T]he use of physical pressures brings with it a large number of potential negative side effects… When individuals are gradually exposed to increasing levels of discomfort, it is more common for them to resist harder… If individuals are put under enough discomfort, i.e. pain, they will eventually do whatever it takes to stop the pain. This will increase the amount of information they tell the interrogator, but it does not mean the information is accurate. In fact, it usually decreases the reliability of the information because the person will say whatever he believes will stop the pain… Bottom line: the likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the delivery of accurate information from a detainee is very low. The likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the level of resistance in a detainee is very high… (p. 53).

    I also pointed out:

    McClatchy fills in some of the details:

    Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration… For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.” It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document… When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.”Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . . A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq. “While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.” “I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.” Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

    In other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false linkage.

    Writing about this today, Paul Krugman says:

    Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link. There’s a word for this: it’s evil.

    The Washington Post reported the same year:

    Despite what you’ve seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing: eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War. So as shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes sense — in a nauseating way. The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced with a “ticking time bomb” scenario from terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks — in order to strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.

    ***

    Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: “Senior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified information discovered in a congressional probe.

    I wrote last month:

    One of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.

    Truth Out reported yesterday:

    Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD). Kearns and his boss, Roger Aldrich, the head of the Air Force Intelligence’s Special Survial Training Program (SSTP), based out of Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, hired Jessen in May 1989. Kearns, who was head of operations at SSTP and trained thousands of service members, said Jessen was brought into the program due to an increase in the number of new SERE courses being taught and “the fact that it required psychological expertise on hand in a full-time basis.” Jessen, then the chief of Psychology Service at the US Air Force Survival School, immediately started to work directly with Kearns on “a new course for special mission units (SMUs), which had as its goal individual resistance to terrorist exploitation.” The course, known as SV-91, was developed for the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) branch of the US Air Force Intelligence Agency, which acted as the Executive Agent Action Office for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jessen’s notes formed the basis for one part of SV-91, “Psychological Aspects of Detention.” *** Kearns was one of only two officers within DoD qualified to teach all three SERE-related courses within SSTP on a worldwide basis, according to a copy of a 1989 letter written Aldrich, who nominated him officer of the year.

    ***

    The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered – not just ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar,” he said. “What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen’s instruction. It is exploitation, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to ‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.” *** Jessen wrote that cooperation is the “end goal” of the detainer, who wants the detainee “to see that [the detainer] has ‘total’ control of you because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.).” *** Kearns said, based on what he has read in declassified government documents and news reports about the role SERE played in the Bush administration’s torture program, Jessen clearly “reverse-engineered” his lesson plan and used resistance methods to abuse “war on terror” detainees.

    So we have the two main Air Force insiders concerning the genesis of the torture program confirming – with original notes – that the whole purpose of the torture program was to extract false confessions.

    Myth # 7: Torture Helped to Get Bin Laden

    CIA director Leon Panetta said that torture did not help get Bin Laden. We noted in May:

    White House deputy national security advisor John Brennann says that waterboarding did not lead to the death of Bin Laden.

    Former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld – who had a big hand in the torture programagrees:

    “The United States Department of Defense did not do waterboarding for interrogation purposes to anyone. It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”

    As does Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein:

    Nothing has been found to indicate this came out of Guantanamo. And people were questioned, but there were no positive answers as to the identity of this number one courier.

    [Asked whether she considers the Bin Laden killing any kind of “vindication” of torture, Feinstein replied] Absolutely not. I do not. I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view, nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used.

    [Senator] Lindsey Graham – a vocal proponent of waterboarding– said:

    This idea we caught bin Laden because of waterboarding I think is a misstatement. This whole concept of how we caught bin Laden is a lot of work over time by different people and putting the puzzle together. I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work.

    [T]he New York Times notes:

    Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002, said in a phone interview Tuesday, that coercive techniques “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information.” He said that while some of his colleagues defended the measures, “everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”

    ***

    “The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council. “It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.”

    And Huffington Post reports:

    Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, produced a 263-page report in 2009 on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody in the years following 9/11. He too dismissed the idea that the interrogation techniques used at that time were efficacious. “If they had any information under the Bush administration that could have led to bin Laden it would have been terribly neglectful for them not to use it,” Levin noted in an interview on the “Bill Press Show.” The confirmation of the courier’s significance appears to have come in 2004, from an al Qaeda operative who was not waterboarded: Hassan Ghul.

    Dan Froomkin noted that torture actually delayed by years more effective intelligence-gathering methods which would have resulted in finding Bin Laden:

    Defenders of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies have claimed vindication from reports that bin Laden was tracked down in small part due to information received from brutalized detainees some six to eight years ago. But that sequence of events — even if true — doesn’t demonstrate the effectiveness of torture, these experts say. Rather, it indicates bin Laden could have been caught much earlier had those detainees been interrogated properly. “I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” said an Air Force interrogator who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander and located Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006. It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us,” Alexander told The Huffington Post. “We know that they didn’t give us everything, because they didn’t provide the real name, or the location, or somebody else who would know that information,” he said. In a 2006 study by the National Defense Intelligence College, trained interrogators found that traditional, rapport-based interviewing approaches are extremely effective with even the most hardened detainees, whereas coercion consistently builds resistance and resentment. “Had we handled some of these sources from the beginning, I would like to think that there’s a good chance that we would have gotten this information or other information,” said Steven Kleinman, a longtime military intelligence officer who has extensively researched, practiced and taught interrogation techniques. “By making a detainee less likely to provide information, and making the information he does provide harder to evaluate, they hindered what we needed to accomplish,” said Glenn L. Carle, a retired CIA officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002. *** For Alexander, Kleinman and others, the key takeaway is not just that the torture didn’t work, but that it was actually counterproductive. “The question is: What else did KSM have?” Alexander asked. And he’s pretty sure he knows the answer: KSM knew the courier’s real name, “or he knew who else knew his real name, or he knew how to find him — and he didn’t give any of that information,” Alexander said. Alexander’s book, “Kill or Capture,” chronicles how the non-coercive interrogation of a dedicated al Qaeda member led to Zarqawi’s capture. “I’m 100 percent confident that a good interrogator would have gotten additional leads” from KSM, Alexander said.

    ***

    This new scenario hardly supports a defense of torture on the grounds that it’s appropriate in “ticking time bomb” scenarios, Alexander said. “Show me an interrogator who says that eight years is a good result.”

    The ACLU noted Wednesday:

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s torture proves McCain’s point. Proponents claim his torture led to the identity of Osama bin Laden’s courier…. The contention is astonishing because the apparent proof that torture worked is that Mohammed “repeatedly misled [his] interrogators about the courier’s identity,” and that these lies somehow showed that Mohammed was protecting important information. This false logic is as disturbing as it is dangerous, and it exemplifies the self-fulfilling nature of the torturer’s claims. In the end, not even Leon Panetta, the former director of the CIA, believes that torture was responsible for the location of bin Laden.

    As we noted last May:

    Cheney and Rumsfeld were never very interested in capturing Bin Laden. Their focus was elsewhere. So their revisionist statements about the usefulness of torture for intelligence purposes must be taken with a grain of salt. In reality, their torture program was crafted to justify the Iraq war, not to catch Bin Laden (and see this.)

    Myth # 8: Torture Provided Valuable Details of 9/11

    Only those who have actually read the 9/11 Commission Report would know that most of the Commission’s information about 9/11 came from suspects who were tortured. Specifically, most of the 9/11 Commission Report was based on 3rd hand reports of what people said while being tortured.

    But wasn’t the information at least accurate? We don’t know.

    But remember that communist torture techniques specifically crafted to produce false confessions were used. Remember also:

    • The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work
    • Another FBI interrogator of 9/11 suspects said:

    I was in the middle of this, and it’s not true that these [aggressive] techniques were effective

    Myth # 9: Only Bad Guys Were Tortured

    Statue of Liberty2 Torture Cheerleaders Back In the News Trying to Defend the Indefensible Torture apologists pretend that only the baddest of the bad were tortured. But the truth is different.

    As I noted in 2009:

    One of the main excuses used to justify torture is that the people being tortured were bloodthirsty terrorists, who would do far worse to us if we didn’t stop them. Is that true? Judge for yourself:

    • The number two man at the State Department under Colin Powell, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, says that many of those being held at Guantanamo Bay were innocent, and that top Bush administration officials knew that they were innocent. Moreover, he said:

      “This philosophy held that it did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance (this general philosophy, in an even cruder form, prevailed in Iraq as well, helping to produce the nightmare at Abu Ghraib). All that was necessary was to extract everything possible from him and others like him, assemble it all in a computer program, and then look for cross-connections and serendipitous incidentals–in short, to have sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.Thus, as many people as possible had to be kept in detention for as long as possible to allow this philosophy of intelligence gathering to work. The detainees’ innocence was inconsequential. After all, they were ignorant peasants for the most part and mostly Muslim to boot.”

      (see this and this). Indeed, Wilkerson signed a declaration under penalty of perjury stating that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld covered up the fact that hundreds of innocent men were sent to Guantanamo because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for the war in Iraq and the broader war on terror.

    This has been confirmed by the recent release of U.S. military files. As the Guardian reported yesterday:

    The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how … many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment. The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim. Anyone who was affiliated with Pakistan’s national intelligence service, or that had been held as a prisoner in a Taliban jail, or that wore a certain type of watch, was considered a terrorist: US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence. Interrogators were told to regard links to any of these as an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity. *** A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. One Briton … was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. *** Another 17-page file, titled “GTMO matrix of threat indicators for enemy combatants”, advises interrogators to look out for signs of terrorist activity ranging from links to a number of mosques around the world, including two in London, to ownership of a particular model of Casio watch. “The Casio was known to be given to the students at al-Qaida bombmaking training courses in Afghanistan,” it states. Others were held because they led religious services or drove cabs in certain geographic regions, or because they were Al Jazeera reporters: One man was transferred to the facility “because he was a mullah, who led prayers at Manu mosque in Kandahar province, Afghanistan … which placed him in a position to have special knowledge of the Taliban”.

    ***

    Another prisoner was shipped to the base “because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver”. The files also reveal that an al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years, partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network. His dossier states that one of the reasons was “to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL”.

    In addition:

    Myth # 10: America Doesn’t Torture Any More

    We noted last November that Congress is considering repealing the ban on torture:

    The same Senate which today passed a bill allowing indefinite detention of American citizens on American soil for suspicion of being terrorists is now considering a bill to repeal the prohibitions against torture:

    The ACLU and over 30 other organizations sent a letter to the Senate asking them to oppose an effort in Congress that threatens to revive the use of torture and other inhumane interrogation techniques. If passed, an amendment introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to the Defense Authorization bill would roll back torture prevention measures that Congress overwhelmingly approved in the 2005 McCain Anti-Torture Amendment, as well as a 2009 Executive Order on ensuring lawful interrogations. It would also require the administration to create a secret list of approved interrogation techniques in a classified annex to the existing interrogation field manual.

    In a related development, republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann renewed her attack on the prohibition of waterboarding and other forms of torture ….

    We reported the same month:

    Mother Jones notes today that Congress has explicitly authorized rendition, allowing American Citizens on U.S. soil to be sent to other countries which do torture:

    A defense spending bill that passed both houses of Congress overwhelmingly and is set to be signed by President Barack Obama as early as this week could make it easier for the government to transfer American terrorist suspects to foreign regimes and security forces. The National Defense Authorization Act (PDF) contains a section that says the president has the power to transfer suspected members and supporters of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated” groups “to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.” That means if the president determines you’re a member or supporter of Al Qaeda or “associated forces,” he could order you to be handed over to the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Yemenis (“any other foreign country”), any of their respective security forces, or even the United Nations (“any other foreign entity”). (You can read the relevant section of the law in the document viewer at the end of this article; look for the highlighted annotations.)

    ***

    [Daphne Eviatar, a lawyer with Human Rights First] adds that there are “a whole lot of scenarios” where the government might want to transfer a suspected terrorist—even a US citizen—to foreign custody. For example, the administration might not want to go through the political mess of determining whether to send a suspect to Gitmo, try him in a military commission, or use the civilian system. The administration might also want to avoid the mandatory habeas corpus review that would come if the US held the suspect itself. In such a case, transferring the suspect to a foreign security force might present an appealing option.

    ***

    You can read the detention and transfer provisions of the NDAA here

    But even in the absence of such legislation, torture has been continuing:

    As I noted in 2009, in a post entitled “Can Nobel Prize Winner Obama At LEAST Stop the Torture?”: You may assume that things have changed after President Obama was sworn in. However, the Obama Department of Justice is trying to protect torture memo writer John Yoo.

    As constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley notes:

    The president literally has gotten onto a plane this evening to go to Norway to accept the Nobel Prize, while his Justice Department is effectively gutting a major part of Nuremberg. The Obama administration is arguing not only that they shouldn’t be prosecuted, but it’s now saying that you shouldn’t even be able to sue them civilly …. It’s an international disgrace.

    Well, it may be a disgrace, but at least torture isn’t continuing under the Obama administration, right?

    In fact, many reporters have said that the Bagram prison facility in Afghanistan is worse than Guantanamo ever was.

    Moreover, abuse is apparently still occurring there. As Spiegel wrote on September 21, 2009, in an article entitled “Prisoner Abuse Continues at Bagram Prison in Afghanistan”:

    US President Barack Obama has spoken out against CIA prisoner abuse and wants to close Guantanamo. But he tolerates the existence of Bagram military prison in Afghanistan, where more than 600 people are being held without charge. The facility makes Guantanamo look like a “nice hotel,” in the words of one military prosecutor… Bagram is “the forgotten second Guantanamo,” says American military law expert Eugene Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School. “But apparently there is a continuing need for this sort of place even under the Obama administration. “From the beginning, “Bagram was worse than Guantanamo,” says New York-based attorney Tina Foster, who has argued several cases on behalf of detainee rights in US courts. “Bagram has always been a torture chamber.” And what does Obama say? Nothing. He never so much as mentions Bagram in any of his speeches. When discussing America’s mistreatment of detainees, he only refers to Guantanamo.

    Obama still never mentions Bagram.

    Spiegel continues:

    From the beginning, Bagram was notorious for the brutal forms of torture employed there. Former inmates report incidents of sleep deprivation, beatings and various forms of sexual humiliation [and rape with sticks]… At least two men died during imprisonment. One of them, a 22-year-old taxi driver named Dilawar, was suspended by his hands from the ceiling for four days, during which US military personnel repeatedly beat his legs. Dilawar died on Dec. 10, 2002. In the autopsy report, a military doctor wrote that the tissue on his legs had basically been “pulpified.” As it happens, his interrogators had already known — and later testified — that there was no evidence against Dilawar… However attorney Tina Foster feels that the new initiative is just a cosmetic measure. “There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration’s position with respect to Bagram detainees’ rights,” she says during an interview with SPIEGEL in her office in the New York borough of Queens.

    And see this.

    Moreover, Obama is still apparently allowing “rendition flights” – where prisoners are flown to countries which freely torture – to continue. This itself violates the Geneva Convention and the War Crimes Act of 1996. Specifically, to the extent that the U.S. is sending prisoners to other countries for the express purpose of being tortured are true, violation of the war crimes act by the highest officials of our country would be probable. For who else but Obama, Gates and other top officials would have the ability to authorize such flights? How could such a program be undertaken without their knowledge? And how could such a program be anything but the intentional “ordering” of torture, or at least “knowing about it” and “failing to take steps to stop it”?

    Finally, Jeremy Scahill – the reporter who broke most of the stories on Blackwater – says that some forms of torture at Guantanamo have continued under Obama, and may even have gotten worse. For example, Scahill points out that:

    The Center for Constitutional Rights released a report titled “Conditions of Confinement at Guantánamo: Still In Violation of the Law,” which found that abuses continued. In fact, one Guantanamo lawyer, Ahmed Ghappour, said that his clients were reporting “a ramping up in abuse” since Obama was elected.

    As Marjorie Cohen – professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, past president of the National Lawyers Guild – writes at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy:

    Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is facing court-martial for leaking military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico brig in Virginia. Each night, he is forced to strip naked and sleep in a gown made of coarse material. He has been made to stand naked in the morning as other inmates walked by and looked. As journalist Lance Tapley documents in his chapter on torture in the supermax prisons in The United States and Torture, solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations and suicide; it is considered to be torture. Manning’s forced nudity amounts to humiliating and degrading treatment, in violation of U.S. and international law. Nevertheless, President Barack Obama defended Manning’s treatment, saying, “I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures . . . are appropriate. They assured me they are.” Obama’s deference is reminiscent of President George W. Bush, who asked “the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government” to review the interrogation techniques. “They assured me they did not constitute torture,” Bush said.

    ***

    After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley criticized Manning’s conditions of confinement, the White House forced him to resign. Crowley had said the restrictions were “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” It appears that Washington is more intent on sending a message to would-be whistleblowers than on upholding the laws that prohibit torture and abuse.

    ***

    Torture is commonplace in countries strongly allied with the United States. Vice President Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, was the lynchpin for Egyptian torture when the CIA sent prisoners to Egypt in its extraordinary rendition program. A former CIA agent observed, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt.”

    In her chapter in The United States and Torture, New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer cites Egypt as the most common destination for suspects rendered by the United States.

    And see this, this, this and this.

    statue of liberty crying Torture Cheerleaders Back In the News Trying to Defend the Indefensible

    Israeli intelligence news confirms the holding of US-Israel military exercises in the Persian Gulf, simulating an attack on Iran, as well as a counterattack. by the Islamic Republic.

    Deafening silence of the Western media. There are no corroborating reports in the US and European media regarding these war games.

    According to Israel’s DebkaFile, these exercises were ordered by President Obama. They involve the US and Israeli Air Force, naval forces, as well as intelligence and ground forces. 

    The exercises are intended “to simulate [Iran’s] reactions to a potential US-Israel strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.” (DEBKAfile April 28, 2012)

    “Sunday, April 22, the US also transferred a number of advanced stealth F-22 fighter bombers, believed to be from the 302nd Fighter Squadron 302, from the joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska to the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. According to our sources, the F-22 jets will join the F-15s of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing which were transferred to the Al Udeid base a month ago.

    Their mission will be to destroy the Iranian air force and air defense batteries so as to clear the way for US and Israeli bombers to go into action against Iran’s nuclear sites and the strategic infrastructure of its army and Revolutionary Guards Corps. This unprecedented US buildup of air might – supplementing the aircraft on the decks of the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Enterprise, to be joined by a third carrier as soon as the offensive gets underway – shows Tehran that the Obama administration is serious about using military means as extra pressure on Iran to give way in diplomatic negotiations – both with the six powers and with the US through clandestine channels.” (Ibid)

    These military drills were timed to take place prior to the second round of negotiations with Tehran regarding its nuclear program scheduled for May. (For further details on the Debka report click here)

    This aggressive military initiative by the US and Israel simulates an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities as well as Iran’s simulated counter-attack. In a bitter irony, it is carried out in the wake of clear statements both by the US and Israel to the effect that Iran does not constitute a nuclear threat and that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons:

    “Israel’s intelligence service Mossad has acknowledged, just like their American counterparts, there is no proof Tehran is carrying out a nuclear weapons program, a source in US intelligence told the New York Times. ­An unnamed former senior US intelligence official told the paper “Mossad does not disagree with the US on the [Iranian] weapons program.”  (See Mossad and CIA concur: Iran is not seeking nukes)

    In January, following US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta`s candid statement to the effect that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barack also confirmed that Iran does not constitute a nuclear threat.

    The war games are not acknowledged in the Western media. US military sources quoted by the Western media have, nonetheless, confirmed the deployment of  F-22 fighter planes to the Persian Gulf. The reports, however, deny that this deployment “is meant as a show of force against Iran or or that it is in some way related to a potential strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities”. It’s described as part of a “routine deployment and “security cooperation with regional partners.” (US deploys F-22s to base near Iran, Fox News, April 27, 2012)

    The Air Force won’t say how many jets were sent or exactly where they are stationed, but privately, U.S. officials have told Fox News the jets are in hangars at the United Arab Emirates’ Al Dafra Air Base, a fact first reported by Aviation Week.

    The F-22 has not yet seen combat. The jets were not used in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya. They are stealth, and they specialize in air-to-air combat, but can also strike air-to-ground if needed. As one Air Force official put it, “this is America’s premier fighter jet. It has no rival.”

    These “routine operations” are also meant to pressure Iran ahead of the May negotiations which Fox New cryptically describes as “the country’s last diplomatic opportunity”.

    While Western reports casually acknowledge the sending of F-22 fighters to the Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates, the broader issue of war games and war threats is not mentioned. (See U.S. sends fighter jets to Gulf in massive ‘show of force against Iran, Daily Mail, April 28, 2012)

    It’s easy to understand why Presidents, politicians and the military love robots. They don’t talk back. They follow orders.  You press a button and they do what they are told. They are considered so efficient, and so lethal.

    These modern killing machines represent science fiction reborn as science ‘faction.’

    Robots and drones don’t burn Korans or pose with the heads of their captives on the battlefield. (Robots also don’t protest wars.)  Lose the human factor and you get silent but deadly total destruction.

    And that’s why drone warfare has become such a weapon of choice. You have video game jockeys sitting on their asses in front of consoles of digital displays at an Air Force base outside Las Vegas, targeting suspected terrorists in Afghanistan. After a couple of quick kills, they take the rest of the day off.

    It’s only later, that we get the reports of civilians decimated as collateral damage.

    Oops!

    These new lethal toys are used both for surveillance and targeted assassinations.

    In Congress, according to Code Pink’s Media Benjamin, there’s even a bi-partisan caucus to encourage more building of drones cheered on by the military industrial complex.  She has just written a book about it. She told me, “instead of having a caucus to feed preschool children, they decided it was more important to have a Drone Caucus and that’s because all the manufacturers in their districts are funding them.”

    I asked Medea if this is more evidence that President Eisenhower was right when he warned of a growing military-industrial complex?

    “Eisenhower was so right,” she replied, “and he was so right when he said it steals money, it robs us of food for our children, of healthcare for our parents, he was so right.  And it’s just worse and worse.  And you get the little puppets in Congress, and I’m in Washington now, so I see these little puppets, and wish that they were like the NASCAR drivers that got to have their corporations on their suits, but they don’t rule America.  The corporations obviously rule America. 

    “And when it comes to war and peace, those corporations are so powerful that they’ve kept us for the last decade and more and if we don’t do something about it, they will keep us more for the next decade.”

    Anti-war activist and author David Swanson has been tracking this phenomenon too, telling me, “members of Congress have created a caucus for drones, where they openly promote the use and sale of drones at home and abroad. They have now authorized the flight of up to 30,000 drones in US skies for whatever purpose–this is in contrast to the lack of any caucus for senior citizens, for children, for health coverage, for green energy, for human beings—there’s a caucus for robots.”

    Soon we will have an arms race in drones of all kinds. The crash of a US drone in Iran has allowed that country to reverse-engineer one, probably leading to Iran soon making their own.

    The Russians and Chinese, even the North Koreans, can’t be far behind.

    More worrying to Americans should be a report saying that there are already 63 drone bases inside the United States.

    The Washington Post reports, “Big things can happen in Congress — as long as no one is watching.

    “Lobbying records released last week show that there wasn’t much opposition this winter when Congress quietly opened up U.S. airspace to aerial drones, which some advocates for civil liberties say raise a host of concerns  about privacy.

    Drone technology, advanced by the military for surveillance and elimination of terrorists in war zones, is set to come back to the home front in a big way in coming years, with possible uses for law enforcement, first responders, and agriculture and environmental monitoring.

    Select companies and ask local governments around the country already for permission to test drones, which can sometimes stay aloft for days at a time at a fraction of the cost of helicopters and airplanes.”

    What assisted all of this drone fever?

    Remember the NDAA bill passed last year that was signed quietly into law on New Year’s Eve by President Obama?  The Administration assured one and all that it would not apply to military operations on U.S. soil or against American citizens.

    It now turns out that the NDAA is being interpreted as authorization to deploy military drones (unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) into domestic airspace.  A major overhaul of the Federal Aviation Administration’s control system is permitting the deployment of drones

    Recently, Alexander Higgins.com reported:

    “A lawsuit has forced the FAA to reveal the location of 63 Secret Drone bases located inside the United States some of which will be the starting point for more drone warfare.

    While the information released shows an alarming number of bases being used for military and local law enforcement drones, perhaps the most startling revelation is that the United States is allowing Canadian Border Patrol Drones to operate across the Canadian border.

    Odds are that the are many more drone bases inside the United States whose locations have been kept secret for various national security reasons and the lawsuit only forced the government to release the names and locations of permmitted US drone operators.

    That means that the type of drones – be they for targeted killing, guiding missiles, or general surveillance – and the number of drones at each location still remains a secret although the FAA says they plan on releasing such information at a later date.”

    England’s Daily Mail has more information:

    “Most of the active drones are deployed from military installations, enforcement agencies and border patrol teams, according to the Federal Aviation Authority.

    But, astonishingly, 19 universities and colleges are also registered as owners of what are officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles.

    It is thought that many of institutions, which include Cornell, the University of Colorado, Georgia Tech, and Eastern Gateway Community College, are developing drone technology.

    There are also 21 mainstream manufacturers, such as General Atomics, who are registered to use drones domestically.

    As well as active locations, the FAA also revealed 16 sites where licences to use spy planes have expired and four where authorizations have been disapproved, such as Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

    However, the FAA is yet to reveal what kinds of drones might be based at any of these locations.

    The agency says it will release this data later.”

    Robot technology has other uses too, says financial journalist Max Keiser,   who told me in a recent appearance on my Progressive Radio Network that algorithm based technology is now actually writing stories, perhaps even like this one.

    He explained. “Forbes magazine wrote a story a couple of weeks ago about computers that are able with narrative software to take prices from the exchange and create stories in any of the ways that they want in their magazine.  So it can be like, okay write a story about the prices that- the closing prices in the technology sector in the voice of Danny Schechter.  And they’ll create a story and it’ll appear in the magazine.  So it’s a computer that’s writing the stories, but the computers are also reading the stories.”

    Oops, Delete!

    News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at NewsDissector.net. His recent books are Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street and Blogothon (Cosimo Books) He hosts News Dissector Radio on PRN.fm. His latest film is Plunder The Crime of Our Time (Plunderthecrimeorourtime.com) Comments to [email protected] 

    The prospect of an unparalleled Eurasian economic boom lasting into the next Century and beyond is at hand. The first steps binding the vast economic space are being constructed with a number of little-publicized rail links connecting China, Russia, Kazakhstan and parts of Western Europe. It is becoming clear to more people in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia including China and Russia that their natural tendency to build these markets faces only one major obstacle: NATO and the US Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance obsession.  Rail infrastructure is a major key to building vast new economic markets across Eurasia.

    China and Turkey are in discussions to build a new high-speed railway link across Turkey. If completed it would be the country’s largest railway project ever, even including the pre-World War I Berlin-Baghdad Railway link. The project was perhaps the most important agenda item, far more so than Syria during talks in Beijing between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Chinese leadership in early April. The proposed rail link would run from Kars on the easternmost border with Armenia, through the Turkish interior on to Istanbul where it would connect to the Marmaray rail tunnel now under construction that runs under the Bosphorus strait. Then it would continue to Edirne near the border to Greece and Bulgaria in the European Union. It will cost an estimated $35 billion. The realization of the Turkish link would complete a Chinese Trans-Eurasian Rail Bridge project that would bring freight from China to Spain and England.1

    The Kars-Edirne line would reduce travel time across Turkey by two-thirds from 36 hours down to 12. Under an agreement signed between China and Turkey in October 2010, China has agreed to extend loans of $30 billion for the planned rail network.2 In addition a Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway connecting Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku to Kars is under construction, which greatly increases the strategic importance of the Edirne-Kars line. For China it would put a critical new link in its railway infrastructure across Eurasia to markets in Europe and beyond.


    (Map: Yunus Emre Hatunoğlu)

    Erdogan’s visit to Beijing was significant for other reasons. It was the first such high level trip of a Turkish Prime Minister to China since 1985. The fact that Erdogan was also granted a high-level meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the man slated to be next Chinese President, and was granted an extraordinary visit to China’s oil-rich Xinjiang Province also shows the high priority China is placing on its relations with Turkey, a key emerging strategic force in the Middle East.

    Xinjiang is a highly sensitive part of China as it hosts some 9 million ethnic Uyghurs who share a Turkic heritage with Turkey as well as nominal adherence to the Turkish Sunni branch of Islam. In July 2009 the US government, acting through the National Endowment for Democracy, the regime-change NGO it finances, backed a major Uyghur uprising in which many Han Chinese shop owners were killed or injured. Washington in turn blamed the riots on Beijing as part of a strategy of escalating pressure on China.3 During Uyghur riots in Xinjiang in 2009, Erdogan accused Beijing of “genocide” and attacked the Chinese on human rights, a dicey issue for Turkey given their Kurd ethnic problems. Clearly economic priorities from both sides have now changed the political calculus.

    Building the world’s greatest market

    Contrary to the dogma of Milton Friedman and his followers, markets are never “free.” They are always manmade. The essential element to build new markets is building infrastructure and for the vast landmass of Eurasia railroad linkages are essential to those new markets.

    With the end of the Cold War in 1990 the vast under-developed land space of Eurasia became open again. This space contains some forty percent of total land in the world, much of it prime unspoiled agriculture land; it contains three-fourth of the entire world population, an asset of incalculable worth. It consists of some eighty eight of the world’s countries and three-fourths of known world energy resources as well as every mineral known needed for industrialization. North America as an economic potential, rich as she is, pales by comparison.

    The Turkish-China railway discussion is but one part of a vast Chinese strategy to weave a network of inland rail connections across the Eurasian Continent. The aim is to literally create the world’s greatest new economic space and in turn a huge new market for not just China but all Eurasian countries, the Middle East and Western Europe. Direct rail service is faster and cheaper than either ships or trucks, and much cheaper than airplanes. For manufactured Chinese or other Eurasian products the rail land bridge links are creating vast new economic trading activity all along the rail line.

    Two factors have made this prospect realizable for the first time since the Second World War. First the collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up the land space of Eurasia in entirely new ways as has the opening of China to Russia and its Eurasian neighbors, overcoming decades of mistrust. This is being met by the eastward expansion of the European Union to the countries of the former Warsaw Pact.

    The demand for faster rail transport over the vast Eurasian distances is clear. China’s container port activity and that of its European and North American destinations is reaching a saturation point as volumes of container traffic explode at double-digit rates. Singapore recently displaced Rotterdam as the world’s largest port in volume terms. The growth rate for container port throughput in China in 2006, before outbreak of the world financial crisis was some 25% annually. In 2007 Chinese ports accounted for some 28 per cent of world container port throughput. 4 However there is another aspect to the Chinese and, to an extent, the Russian land bridge strategies. By moving trade flows over land, it is more secure in the face of escalating military tensions between the nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, especially China and Russia, and NATO. Sea transport must flow through highly vulnerable narrow passageways or chokepoints such as the Malaysian Straits of Malacca.

    The Turkish Kars-Edirne railway would form an integral part of an entire web of Chinese-initiated rail corridors across the Eurasian landmass. Following the example of how rail infrastructure transformed the economic space of Europe and later of America during the late 19th Century, the Chinese government, which today stands as the world’s most efficient railroad constructor, has quietly been extending its rail links into Central Asia and beyond for several years. They have proceeded in segments, one reason the vast ambition of their grand rail infrastructure has drawn so little attention to date in the West outside the shipping industry.


    China builds Second Eurasian Land Bridge

    By 2011 China had completed a Second Eurasian Land Bridge running from China’s port of Lianyungang on the East China Sea through to Kazakhstan’s Druzhba and on to Central Asia, West Asia and Europe to various European destinations and finally to Rotterdam Port of Holland on the Atlantic coast.

    The Second Eurasian Land Bridge is a new railway connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic that was completed by China to Druzhba in Kazakhstan. This newest Eurasia land bridge extends west in China through six provinces–Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Xinjiang autonomous region, which neighbors respectively with Shandong Province, Shanxi Province, Hubei Province, Sichuan Province, Qinghai Province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolia. That covers about 360,000 square kilometers, some 37% of the total land space of China. About 400 million people live in the areas, which accounts for 30% of the total population of the country. Outside of China, the land bridge covers over 40 countries and regions in both Asia and Europe, and is particularly important for the countries in Central and West Asia that don’t have sea outlets.

    In 2011 China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan announced plans to build a new high-speed railway link within Kazakhstan, linking the cities of Astana and Almaty, to be ready in 2015.  The Astana-Almaty line, with a total length of 1050 kilometers, employing China’s advanced rail-building technology, will allow high-speed trains to run at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour.

    DB Schenker Rail Automotive is now transporting auto parts from Leipzig to Shenyang in northeastern China for BMW. Trains loaded with parts and components depart from DB Schenker’s Leipzig trans-shipment terminal in a three-week, 11,000 km journey to BMW’s Shenyang plant in the Liaoning province, where components are used in the assembly of BMW vehicles. Beginning in late November 2011, trains bound for Shenyang departed Leipzig once each day. “With a transit time of 23 days, the direct trains are twice as fast as maritime transport, followed by over-the-road transport to the Chinese hinterland,” says Dr. Karl-Friedrich Rausch, member of the management board for DB Mobility Logistics’ Transportation and Logistics division. The route reaches China via Poland, Belarus, and Russia. Containers have to be transferred by crane to different gauges twice—first to Russian broad gauge at the Poland-Belarus border, then back to standard gauge at the Russia-China border in Manzhouli.5

    In May 2011 a daily direct rail freight service was launched between the Port of Antwerp, Europe’s second-largest port, and Chongqing, the industrial hub in China’s southwest. That greatly speeded rail freight transport across Eurasia to Europe. Compared to the 36 days for maritime transport from east China’s ports to west Europe, the Antwerp-Chongqing Rail Freight service now takes 20 to 25 days, and the aim is to cut that to 15 to 20 days. Westbound cargo includes automotive and technological goods, eastbound shipments are mostly chemicals. The project was a major priority for the Antwerp Port and the Belgian government in cooperation with China and other partners. The service is run by Swiss inter-modal logistics provider Hupac, their Russian partner Russkaya Troyka and Eurasia Good Transport over a distance of more than 10,000km, starting from Port of Antwerp through to Germany and Poland, and further to Ukraine, Russia and Mongolia before reaching Chongqing in China.6

    The Second Eurasian Land Bridge runs 10,900 kilometers in length, with some 4100 kilometers of that in China. Within China the line runs parallel to one of the ancient routes of the Silk Road. The rail line continues across China into Druzhba where it links with the broader gauge rail lines of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is the largest inland country in the world. As Chinese rail and highways have expanded west, trade between Kazakhstan and China has been booming. From January to October 2008, goods passing through the Khorgos port between the two nations reached 880,000 tons – over 250% growth compared with the same period a year before. Trade between China and Kazakhstan is expected to grow 3 to 5 fold by 2013. As of 2008, only about 1% of the goods shipped from Asia to Europe were delivered by overland routes, meaning the room for expansion is considerable.7

    From Kazakhstan the lines go on via Russia and Belarus over Poland to the markets of the European Union.

    Another line goes to Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s largest city of some two millions. Another line goes west to Turkmenistan’s capital Asgabat and to the border of Iran.8  With some additional investment, these links, now tied to the vast expanse and markets of China could open new economic possibilities in much-neglected regions of Central Asia. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) could provide a well-suited vehicle for coordination of a broad Eurasian rail infrastructure coordination to maximize these initial rail links. The members of the SCO, formed in 2001, include China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, Uzbekistan with Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan as Observer Status countries.

    Russia’s Land Bridge

    Russia is well positioned to benefit greatly from such an SCO strategy. The First Eurasian Land Bridge runs through Russia along the Trans-Siberian Railway, first completed in 1916 to unify the Russian Empire. The Trans-Siberian remains the longest single rail line in the world at 9,297 kilometers, a tribute to the vision of Russian Sergei Witte in the 1890s. The Trans-Siberian Railway, also called the Northern East-West Corridor, runs from the Russian Far East Port of Vladivostok and links in Europe to the Port of Rotterdam some 13,000 kilometers. At present it is the less attractive for Pacific-to-Atlantic freight because of maintenance problems and maximum speeds of 55 km.

    There are attempts to better use the Trans-Siberian Land Bridge. In January 2008 a long distance Eurasian rail freight service, the “Beijing-Hamburg Container Express” was successfully tested by the German railway Deutsche Bahn. It completed the 10,000 km (6,200 miles) journey in 15 days to link the Chinese capital to the German port city, going through Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Poland. By ship to the same markets takes double the time or some 30 days.  This route, which began commercial service in 2010 incorporates a section of the existing Trans-Siberian Railway, a rail link using a broader gauge than either Chinese or European trains, meaning two offloads and reloads onto other trains at the China-Mongolia border and again at the Belarus-Poland border.

    Were the Trans-Siberian railway passage across Russian Eurasian space to be modernized and upgraded to accommodate high-speed freight traffic, it would add a significant new economic dimension to the economic development of Russia’s interior regions. The Trans-Siberian is double-tracked and electrified. The need is minimally to improve some segments to insure a better integration of all the elements to make it a more attractive option for Eurasian freight to the west.

    There are strong indications the new Putin presidency will turn more of its attention to Eurasia. Modernization of the First Eurasian Land Bridge would be a logical way to accomplish much of that development by literally creating new markets and new economic activity. With the bond markets of the United States and Europe flooded with toxic waste and state bankruptcy fears, issuance of Russian state bonds for modernization or even a new parallel high-speed rail Land Bridge linking to the certainty of growing freight traffic across Eurasia would have little difficulty finding eager investors.  

    Russia is currently in discussion with China and Chinese rail constructors who are bidding on construction of a planned $20 billion of new high-speed Russian rail track to be completed before the 2018 Russian hosting of the Soccer World Cup. China’s experience in building some 12,000 km of high speed rail in record time is a major asset for China’s bid. Significantly, Russia plans to raise $10 billion of the cost by issuing new railroad bonds.9

    A Third Eurasian Land Bridge?

    In 2009 at the Fifth Pan-Pearl River Delta Regional (PPRD) Cooperation and Development Forum, a government-sponsored event, the Yunnan provincial government announced its intention to accelerate construction of needed infrastructure to build a third Eurasian continental land bridge that will link south China to Rotterdam via Turkey over land. This is part of what Erdogan and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao discussed in Beijing this April. The network of inland roads for the land bridge within Yunnan province will be completed by 2015, said Yunnan governor Qin Guangrong. The project starts from coastal ports in Guangdong, with the Port of Shenzhen being the most important. It will ultimately go all the way through Kunming to Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Iran, entering Europe from Turkey.10

    The route would cut some 6,000-km from the sea journey between the Pearl River Delta and Rotterdam and allow production from China’s eastern manufacturing centers to reach Asia, Africa and Europe. The proposal is for completing a series of missing rail and modern highway links totaling some 1,000 Km, not that inconceivable. In neighboring Myanmar a mere 300 km of railways and highways are lacking in order to link the railways in Yunnan with the highway network of Myanmar and South Asia. It will help China pave the way for building a land channel to the Indian Ocean.

    The third Eurasian Land Bridge will cross 20 countries in Asia and Europe and have a total length of about 15,000 kilometers, which is 3,000 to 6,000 kilometers shorter than the sea route entering at the Indian Ocean from the southeast coast via the Malacca Straits. The total annual trade volume of the regions the route passes through was nearly US$300 billion in 2009. Ultimately the plan is for a branch line that would also start in Turkey, cross Syria and Palestine, and end in Egypt, facilitating transportation from China to Africa. Clearly the Pentagon’s AFRICOM and the US-backed Arab Spring unrest directly impacts that extension, though for how long at this point is unclear. 11

    The geopolitical dimension

    Not every major international player is pleased about the growing linkages binding the economies of Eurasia with western Europe and Africa. In his now famous 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives”, former Presidential adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski noted,

    “In brief, for the United States, Eurasian geo-strategy involves the purposeful management of geo-strategically dynamic states…To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geo-strategy are to prevent collusion and to

    maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” 12

    The “barbarians” that Brzezinski refers to are China and Russia and all in between. The Brzezinski term “imperial geo-strategy” refers to US strategic foreign policy. The “vassals” he identifies in the book as countries like Germany, Japan and other NATO “allies” of the US. That Brzezinski geopolitical notion remains US foreign policy today. 13

    The prospect of an unparalleled Eurasian economic boom lasting into the next Century and beyond is at hand.

    The first sinews of binding the vast economic space have been put in place or are being constructed with these rail links. It is becoming clear to more people in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia including China and Russia that their natural tendency to build these markets faces only one major obstacle: NATO and the US Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance obsession.  In the period prior to World War I it was the decision in Berlin to build a rail land link to and through the Turkish Ottoman Empire from Berlin to Baghdad that was the catalyst for British strategists to incite the events that plunged Europe into the most destructive war in history to that date. This time we have a chance to avoid a similar fate with the Eurasian development. More and more the economically stressed economies of the EU are beginning to look east and less to their west across the Atlantic for Europe’s economic future.

    *F. William Engdahl is author of several books on contemporary geopolitics including A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. He is available via his website at www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net

    Notes:

     

    1 Sunday’s  Zaman, Turkey, China mull $35 bln joint high-speed railway project, Istanbul, April 14, 2012, accessed in

    http://www.sundayszaman.com/sunday/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=277360.

    2 Ibid.

    3 F. William Engdahl, Washington is Playing a Deeper Game with China, Global Research, July 11, 2009, accessed in http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14327.

    4 UNCTAD, Port and multimodal transport developments,2008,  accessed in http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Chapter+5%3a+Port+and+multimodal+transport+developments.-a0218028142.

    5 Joseph O’Reilly, BMW Rides Orient Express to China, Global Logistics, October 2011, accessed in http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/global-logistics-october-2011/.

    6 Aubrey Chang, Antwerp-Chongqing Direct Rail Freight Link Launched, May 12, 2011, accessed in

    http://www.industryleadersmagazine.com/antwerp-chongqing-direct-rail-freight-link-launched/

    7 CNTV, Eurasian land bridge, March 12, 2011, accessed in http://english.cntv.cn/program/china24/20111203/108360.shtml.

    8 Shigeru Otsuka, Central Asia’s Rail Network and the Eurasian Land Bridge, Japan Railway & Transport Review 28, September 2001, pp. 42-49.

    9 CNTV, Russian rail official: Chinese bidder competitive, November 21,2011, accessed in

    http://english.cntv.cn/program/bizasia/20111121/110092.shtml

    10 Xinhua, Yunnan accelerates construction of third Eurasia land bridge, 2009, accessed in http://www.shippingonline.cn/news/newsContent.asp?id=10095

    11 Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei, Third land link to Europe envisioned, China Daily, July 2, 2009, accessed in

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-07/02/content_8345835.htm.

    12 Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 1997, Basic Books, p. 40. See F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Wiesbaden, 2011, edition.engdahl, for details of the role of the German Baghdad rail link in World War I.

    13 Zbigniew Brzezinski, op. cit. p.40.

    In May 2012, Chicago is to host the NATO summit. The alliance is facing the task of improving the relations within the bloc and restructuring its strategy taking into account the current crisis tendencies, which have gripped the Western world and the global challenges the West is facing. With mass media focusing on the events on the Middle East and North Africa, a threat of war against Iran and Afghanistan, Libya’s post war instability, the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian crisis, Brussels has a lot to consider. In its turn, Poland is also preparing to submit its ideas and proposals at the coming summit in Chicago.

    In particular, in its foreign policy for 2012-2016 Poland pays a special attention to the Visegrad Group or the Visegrad Four (V4) (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and  Slovakia), a  military and political bloc, which was established in 1991. When V4 signed its joint declaration on striving for their European integration, they clearly defined the political and ideological border-line where they planned to “hold back” Russia. In May 2011, the group announced plans to set up a new combat unit under the command of Poland, which was to grow into a full-fledged military and political mechanism by 2016. Formally this mechanism is expected to have the authorities which are separate from NATO.
       
    Already in 2013, the Visegrad Group plans to take part in the NATO Response Force military exercises. It is very important for Poland to unite the countries of the Four around itself, considering that in the second half of 2012 Poland will chair this organization. Warsaw wants to continue acting as the regional pole of power, consolidating the countries of the Eastern Europe and the Baltic region. Poland and the Baltic states have tight allied relations but Warsaw looks into the future and does not rule out that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will join the Visegrad Group (В 4+ format).

    In April 2012, the Polish authorities organized a meeting with the Baltic allies in order to discuss this idea and to work out a common view of the strategic situation in the region. While Tallinn and Riga are willing to participate Vilnius with its attempts of “lithuanization” of Lithuanian Poles is spoiling the party.  Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaitė ignored the meeting of her Baltic counterparts with the Polish president. Reportedly, Poland hinted to Lithuania quite directly that if the Lithuanian authorities did not reconsider their policy with regard to the Polish minority in Lithuania, Warsaw would revise its position regarding the support of NATO’s mission on protection of the Baltic States’ air space.
     

    Meanwhile the Baltic States are eying Scandinavia to build a North-South geopolitical axis instead of an East-West axis. Polish experts regularly recommend the government not to forget about Scandinavia and to strive for the creation of a “geopolitical bridge” between Poland and Sweden. Poland is the regional leader in Eastern Europe. Sweden is the leading Scandinavian power. The Baltic States, sandwiched between Swedes and Poles, were destined to rely on Warsaw. But Lithuania wants to depend on Poland less than on anyone else. Vilnius and Warsaw look at the history of the Polish-Lithuanian relations from different positions. Poles regard the period of the unification of Lithuania and Poland as the peak of the geopolitical power of the Polish State, while Lithuanians consider that epoch to be the time of total Polish domination in everything from the language to the legislation.

    For Poland Lithuania is the most important of all the Baltic States. In the 1920-s, the supporters of the Polish statesman Jozef Pilsudski tried to get control over Lithuania and to create a puppet state – the Republic of Central Lithuania (the rebellion of General Zeligowski). The Republic of Central Lithuania included also a part of Belarus and was to form a strong buffer state between Poland and the USSR. But today there is coolness between Lithuanians and Poles. Lithuanians are trying to make Lithuanian Poles forget their “Imperial ambitions”. In their turn, Lithuanian Poles consider Poland to be a stronger state than Lithuania and don’t want to give up their Polish ways. As a result the idea of “В 4+” is still only an idea.

    As for V4, these countries do not have any serious contradictions. This is proved by a recent declaration (“Responsibility for a strong NATO”), in which members of the Vysegrad group pledged to contribute to the strengthening of NATO’s defense capacity. The four states have declared they would not withdraw their troops from Afghanistan earlier than the term which was officially set, sticking to the principle “together-in – together-out”. The group has also supported the plans of the US administration on deployment of the components of the anti-missile system and spoken for the expansion of the North-Atlantic alliance by admitting the states, which membership will contribute to a stronger defense capacity of the bloc.

    It is not difficult to guess what those states are. First of all it is Ukraine. It is not a coincidence that the Visegrad group issued its joint declaration on the eve of the Chicago summit. Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich has already been invited to attend this event and Poland is acting as the main supporter of Ukraine in the EU and NATO. Warsaw does not mind Georgia’s entry to NATO either, but the problem of the republic’s “territorial integrity’ is a serious obstacle on the way to its dream of European integration. Moldova’s prospects are also vague due to the same reason.

    In the declaration the Visegrad Group pledges to stick to NATO’s strategy adopted in Lisbon in 2010. According to V4, during the Chicago summit it is desirable to adopt a “defense package”.  In particular, the Four urges the intensification of cooperation within NATO in the field of joint military exercises in particular on the territory of the V4 countries.

    According to NATO’s plans, which are to be discussed at the summit in Chicago in May, the countries of the former USSR, which surround Russia, must play the role of an “anaconda ring” pressing Russia and pushing it farther from its navigation routes: the Baltic States would block the access to the Baltic Sea, the scale of Russia’s presence on the Black Sea depends on Ukraine and Georgia; on land the Western direction would be blocked by Moldova and Ukraine and by Muscovites’ eternal opponent, which is Poland.

    The essence of the North-Atlantic alliance as a military and political bloc has not changed since its establishment in 1949. NATO has not changed its goals regarding historical Russia which were set back in the beginning of the Cold War. These are only means of achieving these goals which are changing.    

    It used to be that the average American resided halfway between two extremes:

    • Steven Schwarzman’s home was being partially replicated in a Park Avenue hall for his gala $5 million 60th birthday party. The guest of honor’s full-length portrait greeted the invitees as they proceeded past rows of orchids and palm trees to the dining area, where they feasted on lobster, filet mignon, baked Alaska, and the finest of wines. Martin Short provided the laughs, and the music came compliments of Marvin Hamlisch, Patti LaBelle, and Rod Stewart.
       
    • Eloise Pittman’s home had been purchased in the 1950s by her mother, who washed dishes to pay off the mortgage. In 1985 the younger Ms. Pittman, a schoolteacher, went to Chase Bank and took out a loan on the house. It was a predatory loan with balloon payments, and Ms. Pittman was forced to borrow more and more money to keep from defaulting. When she died in November 2011, she was $400,000 in debt. A week after her death her family received an eviction notice.

    There’s no ‘average’ anymore, in the sense of a normal curve with most of the people and most of the money in the middle.

    Today, 400 individuals have as much wealth as an entire HALF of America.

    Yet it’s still argued by some conservatives that in real life the two extremes are split by a substantial group of average Americans in the middle. The income of the middle quintile, we are told, grew by over 35% percent between 1979 and 2007. But, as Jared Bernstein points out, 35% over 28 years is 1.1% per year, over a period when productivity grew at twice that rate. Census data shows that the inflation-adjusted salary of a full-time male worker in 2010 was almost exactly the same as in 1979.

    In real life just 2 percent of Americans own HALF of all wealth outside the home. The top quintile owns 93% of all wealth outside the home. The poor half of America owns nothing outside of their homes, because most of them owe more than they own. And their homes have lost much of their value.

    Conservatives counter that the 1% hasn’t increased its share of wealth for many years, and that the “democratization of stock ownership” is beginning to spread the wealth around.

    While it’s true that the share of wealth held by the 1% has remained at the same high level since the 1980s, the rest of the richest 5% increased their share by almost 20%. The percentages for the poorest 80% of the population DECREASED by almost 20%.

    In other words, the share of wealth owned by the top 1% leveled off because the “democratization of stock ownership” spread the wealth among just 5% of the population, those earning an average of $500,000 per year. A few people — 5 out of 100 — got very rich, but everyone else lost ground.

    How can there be a “middle class” with such a lopsided wealth distribution? Is the middle class part of the 65 million households who have virtually NONE of the non-home wealth? Is it part of the 117 million households who have received NONE of the productivity gains over 30 years?

    The middle class is somewhere between two extremes, sliding toward the bottom:

    • In California Paul Hannum eagerly awaited the birth of his daughter. He got sick, but he didn’t have health insurance. His brother Curtis said, “He had a little girl on the way. He didn’t want the added burden of an ER visit to hang on their finances. He thought ‘I’ll just wait,’ and he got worse and worse.” But he died from a burst appendix without ever holding his baby in his arms. Access to even a single health care worker might have saved his life.
       
    • In 2007 John Paulson had an idea: bet against the mortgage market. He went to Goldman Sachs to help design a financial instrument that would group bad loans in an attractive-looking package. Then he – and Goldman – could take out an insurance policy against their own financial instrument. It worked perfectly. Paulson made $4 billion, enough to pay the salaries of 100,000 health care workers.

    Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at [email protected].
    more Paul Buchheit

    The military leaders of 50 nations, more than a quarter of those in the world, opened a two-day conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 25 to discuss, as the Pentagon’s website described it, “the present and future of the effort in Afghanistan” and other topics.

    Afghanistan being the main subject of discussion, the military chiefs of NATO’s 28 member states, collectively the Military Committee, presumably met with the chiefs of defense staff of the 22 non-NATO nations supplying the alliance with troops for the war in Afghanistan.

    In January top military leaders of 67 countries, over a third of those in the world, met at NATO Headquarters to discuss operations in Afghanistan in what is the largest-ever meeting of chiefs of defense staff in history.

    The recently concluded expanded meeting of the NATO Military Committee was the last before next month’s summit in Chicago and was largely focused on that impending event.

    Participants in the conference included General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; General John R. Allen (in teleconference) , commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, in charge of the largest foreign military force ever to be stationed in that nation; NATO’s two top military commanders, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Stéphane Abrial; U.S. military chief Dempsey’s equivalents from 49 nations in Europe, North America, Central America, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Northeast Asia, South East Asia and the South Pacific supplying troops for NATO’s Afghan War. (Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Tonga, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.)

    In short, NATO’s 21st century global expeditionary force and its top commanders. An international military coalition never authorized by the United Nations or discussed at any conference or other fora except at NATO Headquarters and at the bloc’s summits.

    On the second day of the Military Committee conference in Brussels, NATO’s Allied Command Operations reported on a training course underway at the Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters in Brunssum, the Netherlands where staff officers from NATO’s Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative military partnerships are being instructed to “work as augmentees in a Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJF HQ) environment.

    NATO added, “DJF HQ serves as an example of a Joint HQ for non-NATO nations to contribute to the Alliance’s missions.”

    “Many of the attending nations already share close ties with NATO and have taken part in NATO’s missions, including the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. “

    Participating officers were from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Qatar, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.

    At the gathering of military chiefs on April 25 and 26, subjects addressed were NATO’s wars and occupations in three continents: In addition to the ten-and-a-half- year conflict in Afghanistan, NATO’s top brass discussed missions in Kosovo (Kosovo Force), off the Horn of Africa (Operation Ocean Shield), in Libya (Operation Unified Protector), the Mediterranean Sea (Operation Active Endeavor) and no doubt others. Most everywhere, indeed, but on or near the Atlantic Ocean, north or south.

    Reporting on the conference, the Pentagon’s website paraphrased an unnamed senior Defense Department official, “speaking on background,” as affirming that “Every opportunity for NATO members and their partners to work together helps to keep the alliance moving forward…especiall y as they seek to improve interoperability [and] refine tactics and procedures.. .”

    Quoted directly, the source added:

    “NATO remains a very strong partnership – as strong as ever – and we have a lot of demonstrated successes with NATO if you look at the history up through today and current events, and especially in the last year. So I think that bodes well for the future of the partnership. The United States involvement in NATO is a strong partnership for tackling any future challenges.”

    The Pentagon account also mentioned meetings between the assembled military chiefs and representatives of Georgia and Ukraine, within the NATO-Georgia Commission and NATO-Ukraine Commission frameworks, and of the NATO-Russia Council.

    The top military commanders also discussed what in a Pentagon report on the conference was alluded to as Pacific perspectives.

    The North Atlantic Alliance in fact has a Pacific strategy. Most of the most recent additions to NATO’s Troop Contributing Countries in Afghanistan have come from Asia-Pacific nations: Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, South Korea and Tonga. Japan has dispatched military personnel, medics, as well. Australia and New Zealand have had troops, including special forces, engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan for years. With 1,550 soldiers assigned to the International Security Assistance Force, Australia is the largest troop provider to that NATO operation of any non-NATO country.

    The Afghan war has been employed by the U.S. and NATO to forge an unprecedented 50-nation interoperable military force and the bloc has formalized the arrangements initiated to that end with its new Strategic Concept adopted at the last NATO summit in Portugal in late 2010. At a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Berlin a year ago the alliance endorsed a new partnership format, a uniform Partnership Cooperation Menu (with approximately 1,600 activities), to strengthen already existing military cooperation programs and to expand its network of military partnerships throughout the world.

    In addition to the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative programs – in Europe and Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf, respectively – NATO has a new category it calls partners across the globe, which as its name indicates has no geographical boundaries.

    NATO lists Partnership for Peace members, which with the alliance’s 28 members are subsumed under the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, as:

    Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

    Its Mediterranean Dialogue partners are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

    Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, with Saudi Arabia and Oman next in line.

    Partners across the globe are, to date, though subject to expansion, Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Korea.

    The new Partnership Cooperation Menu provides for a new type of global NATO partnership arrangement called an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme. The first country to be enrolled in it was Mongolia last month. With Kazakhstan, NATO now has two partners that border both China and Russia.

    The issue of Israel employing the Partnership Cooperation Menu to secure Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme status like Mongolia (in 2006 Israel was the first nation to be granted membership in another NATO partnership modality, the Individual Cooperation Program) has arisen lately in regard to reports that Turkey has blocked Israel’s participation at next month’s NATO summit to prevent the above reaching fruition.

    The Partnership Cooperation Menu became effective the first of this year and initial plans were to grant the above-mentioned program to Israel and other members of the Mediterranean Dialogue.

    NATO is cultivating Iraq and Yemen for prospective Istanbul Cooperation Initiative membership and Libya for membership in the Mediterranean Dialogue, with Lebanon and Syria (in the event of a change in regime) after it. With Iraq the partnership with the Western military organization is a continuation of the seven-year NATO Training Mission-Iraq.

    In reference to partners across the globe, NATO maintains that “Japan is NATO’s longest-standing global partner,” adding:

    “At their meeting in Berlin in April 2011, Allied foreign ministers listed Japan as one of NATO’s partners across the globe. As such, in the framework of the establishment of a single Partnership Cooperation Menu (PCM) open to all NATO partners, Japan will be able to access a wide range of cooperation activities with the Alliance and develop a more effective individual programme.”

    Article 9 of the Japanese constitution expressly forbids the nation entering into any form of collective self-defense. A formal partnership with the world’s only military bloc is doing just that.

    The government of South Korea has stated: “Following the new partnership policy of NATO approved in the NATO Ministerial meeting in Berlin, Germany in April 2011, the Republic of Korea is committed to further developing its partnership with NATO and to deepening practical cooperation with the trans-Atlantic defense organization. “

    Pakistan is another nation that has expressed interest in the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme.

    Afghanistan, whose new military is being developed for interoperability with those of the major Western powers through the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, is another candidate.

    The 21st century has witnessed the emergence of a truly worldwide military alliance, one which in regard to the number of members and partners, geographic range, defense capabilities and universal ambitions is staggering.

    As the war council in Brussels was underway, Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo di Paola (former chairman of the NATO Military Committee) while speaking at a NATO Smart Defense Agenda meeting in Rome advocated the establishment of ties between the military bloc and the BRICS nations (Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa), asserting that “the Alliance must have a global vision and must take responsibility for the problems concerning security on a global level,” according to Agenzia Giornalistica Italia.

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    A landmark lawsuit against an energy giant and two Alberta government regulatory agencies concerning water well contamination by hydraulic fracturing started with an unusual twist in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench yesterday.

    Judge B. L. Veldhuis began the proceedings in a Drumheller courtroom attended by 20 landowners from across the province by admitting that she was going to do something unexpected: she then asked for a shorter statement of claim.

    Jessica Ernst, a 54-year-old oil patch consultant and scientist from Rosebud, Alberta, is suing EnCana, one of the continent’s largest unconventional gas producers, for negligence causing water contamination and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the province’s energy regulator, for breaching the Charter of Rights.

    The lawsuit alleges that the regulator “banished” Ernst, now a celebrated landowner in the province, from contact with the board after she publically spoke out about water well contamination and noise pollution.

    In addition, the $33-million lawsuit alleges that Alberta Environment, one of two agencies responsible for groundwater protection, failed to uphold its regulatory responsibilities.

    The lawsuit effectively puts on trial the practice and regulation of hydraulic fracturing: the controversial blasting of coal, oil and shale formations with toxic chemicals, sand and water.

    North America’s fracking boom has increased natural gas supplies, lowered gas prices and weakened the bottom line of many gas companies. The poorly studied technology, which can also cause earthquakes, has sparked moratoriums, debates and regulatory investigations from New Brunswick to Wyoming due to concerns about groundwater contamination, air pollution and methane leaks.

    Neither EnCana nor the Alberta regulators have fielded statements of defence on shallow fracking incidents that took place eight years ago during a frenzied coal-bed methane drilling boom in central Alberta.

    Instead, lawyers for both EnCana and the ERCB came prepared to argue a variety of motions to dismiss the entire case or strike out entire paragraphs from Ernst’s highly readable 73-page statement of claim as “inflammatory” and “embarrassing.”

    In particular, the ERCB, whose mission is to develop oil and gas “in a manner that is fair, responsible and in the public interest,” was prepared to argue that it has “no duty of care” to a landowner with contaminated water.

    Toronto lawyer Murray Klippenstein, who represents Ernst, agreed with the judge’s request and says he will submit a shorter claim within a month. (Klippenstein, a no-nonsense litigator on critical justice issues, successfully represented the family of slain First Nation activist Dudley George against the Ontario government of Mike Harris.)

    “We know that EnCana and the Board and the government did not like the detailed description of Jessica’s case and were trying very hard to have parts removed,” explained Klippenstein outside the courtroom.

    “The judge wanted a more concise description and that can be easily provided.”

    The lawsuit alleges that an experimental and shallow drilling and fracking program into coal seams contaminated Ernst’s water source with so much methane that she could light her tap water on fire.

    “EnCana refused to address Ms. Ernst’s concerns or answer her questions; failed to investigate Ms. Ernst’s water contamination problem; refused to disclose the chemicals used in fracturing, drilling and servicing operations,” adds the claim.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has linked fracking activity by EnCana to the contamination of groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming. EnCana, which is losing money and shareholder confidence due to its extreme dependence on industrial scale shale gas plays, calls the EPA investigation flawed.

    Landowners at the courthouse said they came to support Jessica Ernst as a champion of the public interest and groundwater protection.

    “Jessica is doing what we all want to do but don’t have the balls to stand up and do,” said Shawn Campbell, a Ponoka area rancher who also has water contamination problems related to fracking. “Water is the key issue. If you don’t have clean water what are you going to do? You won’t live long.”

    Dairy farmer Jan Slomp, a board member of the National Farmer’s Union, which has called for a moratorium on fracturing, also attended the first day of the trial because of his admiration for Ernst’s courage.

    “I’m here to support Jessica. This issue needs to be brought into the public arena. People are concerned and know something is wrong.” [. . . . ]

    Andrew Nikiforuk wrote the first stories on hydraulic fracturing and the Ernst Case for ROB Magazine and Canadian Business magazine.

    A federal judge has denied a request by Judicial Watch for the government to release photographs or video of Osama bin Laden taken during or after the Special Forces raid that resulted in the death of the al Qaeda leader last year.

    “A picture may be worth a thousand words. And perhaps moving pictures bear an even higher value. Yet, in this case, verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama bin Laden will have to suffice, for this court will not order the release of anything more,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote in an opinion filed today in a D.C. federal court, denying Judicial Watch’s request.

    Judicial Watch sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense on May 2, 2011, the day after President Obama announced bin Laden’s death to the world, and sent a similar request to the CIA a few days later. Both agencies responded that they would not be able to process the request under the time allowed under FOIA rules (within a maximum of 30 days for the DOD), so on May 13, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit.

    “This is arguably as important as any lawsuit we’ve filed,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said at a press conference at the time.

    In his ruling, Boasberg wrote that the Department of Defense “turned up nothing responsive” to Judicial Watch’s request, while the CIA found 52 “responsive records,” but claimed they were all exempt from disclosure. In siding with the government, Boasberg wrote, “[t]he Court declines Plaintiff’s invitation to substitute its own judgment about the national-security risks inherent in releasing these records for that of the executive-branch officials who determined that they should be classified.”

    “The Court is also mindful that many members of the public would likely desire to see images of this seminal event,” Boasberg wrote. “Indeed, it makes sense that the more significant an event is to our nation — and the end of Bin Laden’s reign of terror certainly ranks high — the more need the public has for full disclosure. Yet, it is not this Court’s decision to make in the first instance.”

    Judicial Watch has already appealed the decision.

    President Barack Obama has approved much wider use of drone-fired missiles in Yemen, according to press reports Thursday, quoting unnamed US government officials. The result will be a much higher death toll from American attacks in that country, which has joined Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia as a battlefield for the US military and CIA.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama had given the green light to a request by CIA Director David Petraeus to allow the agency to fire missiles at buildings, cars and armed groups without identifying exactly who is being targeted, based simply on a pattern of activity observed by US surveillance satellites or on-the-ground informants.

    These “signature” strikes are a marked escalation from the previous “personality” strikes, which were restricted to individuals targeted as alleged leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a militant Islamist group that Washington claims has attempted terrorist attacks against US targets.

    The Journal quoted a US official with reservations about the new policy, which he considered so broad that it was likely to provoke widespread opposition in Yemen which could undermine the US-backed government of newly installed President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. “Every Yemeni is armed, so how can they differentiate between suspected militants and armed Yemenis?” the official asked.

    The Yemeni government must approve the missile strikes, thereby taking responsibility for them in the eyes of the Yemeni people, who overwhelmingly oppose US military intervention in their country.

    The Washington Post reported that the first such signature strike took place last Sunday in Yemen’s Marib province, identifying the target as Mohammed Saeed al Umda, an AQAP commander whom US officials claimed was linked to the bombing of the USS Cole in the Yemeni port city of Aden in 2000. No evidence was presented to demonstrate that supposed connection.

    Obama administration officials who confirmed the missile strikes claimed that they were aimed at “terrorists” who were planning attacks on US targets, not on the tribal or factional opponents of the US-backed Yemeni regime. But according to the Post, “In recent months, U.S. spy agencies have collected intelligence indicating plots against American diplomats or U.S. special operations troops who are working alongside Yemeni counter-terrorism units.”

    In other words, the so-called “terrorists” are Yemenis who oppose the intervention of American military forces into their country to prop up the decades-long dictatorship of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who turned over his office to Hadi in February, but remains the principal power behind the scenes.

    A Lebanese newspaper, the Daily Star, reported that another US drone strike killed three militants allegedly linked to Al Qaeda on Thursday, when a missile hit their car in the southern Yemen city of Mudiyah. Residents told the newspaper they saw two drones in the sky after the explosion.

    It was not known whether this drone strike was conducted under the expanded authority just provided by the White House, or under the targeting rules previously in place. The CIA and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command have carried out at least nine missile strikes in Yemen so far in 2012, as many in four months as in the entire previous year.

    The stepped-up drone strikes come as both the US and Yemeni government have issued warnings about a supposed upsurge of Al Qaeda activity in Yemen. The Hadi government warned that AQAP was planning an assault on Sana’a, the capital city, although nearly all known AQAP activity has been confined to the southwestern part of the country, far from Sana’a and much closer to the virtually unpoliced border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s “empty quarter.”

    White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, in a speech last week at New York police headquarters, described AQAP as “very, very dangerous,” claiming it has grown to more than 1,000 members since the assassination of one of its alleged top leaders, US-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, last September.

    Awlaki was killed by a CIA drone missile, an attack approved by Obama under the doctrine, later elaborated by Attorney General Eric Holder, that the president has the authority to order the killing of any American citizen who is deemed an “enemy combatant,” without any legal process or judicial review.

    FBI director Robert Mueller was in Sana’a Tuesday for talks with Hadi and Yemeni security officials. The FBI chief promised that the US government would continue to support Yemen “with full force” adding, “The US will provide the possible assistance in various aspects bilaterally with the international community to achieve stability in Yemen.”

    On the same day, the Yemeni defense ministry said that an offensive in the southern province of Abyan had killed 52 militants in two days, mostly in the city of Zinjibar, which was captured by AQAP fighters last May. Yemeni troops, backed by artillery and tanks, pushed into the center of Zinjibar in the middle of the night Monday, destroying at least four tanks that had been previously captured by the militants.

    Other Yemeni military operations against supposed AQAP militants are ongoing in Shabwa, Marib and Baitha provinces.

    Drone missile attacks in Yemen have resulted in numerous atrocities in which innocent men, women and children, including entire families, and even the deputy governor of a province, were exterminated by “mistake,” because CIA or Pentagon targeters claimed they were opening fire on Al Qaeda targets.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights, a US civil liberties group, has just filed a Freedom of Information request into the legal basis for a cruise missile attack in Al Majalah in Yemen in 2009, which killed 41 people, 21 of them children.

    Cables released by WikiLeaks revealed the US State Department’s role in covering up the Al Majalah killings, for which the Yemeni government agreed to take responsibility, claiming the attack was carried out by Yemeni jet fighters, in order to conceal the use of US missiles.

    According to the British-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US drone strikes in Pakistan since Obama took office have killed 535 civilians, including more than 60 children.

    The escalation of drone attacks in Yemen means a death toll on that scale or even higher, justified by the Obama administration with the claim that it is preventing “imminent attacks” on the United States—although now, under the expanded authority approved by Obama, the US government need not even identify in advance those it is murdering.

    Now is not the time to let BP off the hook for the Gulf oil spill disaster. Environmentalists report “shrimp born without eyes, fish with lesions, and crabs with holes in their shells.” The Obama administration has not acted in the public’s interest. “The US government seemed to protect BP more than coastal communities or the environment.”

    “The Gulf has been dying the death of a thousand cuts for a long time.”

    On April 20, 2010, a reckless attitude towards the safety of the Gulf Coast by BP, as well as Transocean and Halliburton [5], caused a well to blow out 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. As the world watched in horror, underwater cameras showed a seemingly endless flow of oil – hundreds of millions of gallons – and a series of failed efforts to stop it, over a period of nearly three months. Two years later, that horror has not ended [6] for many on the Gulf.

    “People should be aware that the oil is still there,” says Wilma Subra, a chemist who travels widely across the Gulf meeting with fishers and testing seafood and sediment samples for contamination.

    Subra says that the reality she is seeing on the ground contrasts sharply with the image painted by BP. “I’m extremely concerned on the impact it’s having on all these sick individuals [7],” she says. Subra believes we may be just at the beginning of this disaster. In every community she visits, fishers show her shrimp born without eyes, fish with lesions, and crabs with holes in their shells. She says tarballs are still washing up on beaches across the region.

    While it’s too early to assess the long-term environmental impact, a host of recent studies published by the National Academy of Sciences and other respected institutions have shown troubling results. They describe mass deaths of deepwater coral [8], dolphins, and killifish [9], a small animal at the base of the Gulf food chain. “If you add them all up, it’s clear the oil is still in the ecosystem, it’s still having an effect,” says Aaron Viles, deputy director of Gulf Restoration Network [10], an environmental organization active in the region.

    The major class action lawsuit on behalf of communities affected by the spill has reached a proposed $7.8 billion settlement, subject to approval by a judge. While this seems to have brought a certain amount of closure to the saga, environmentalists worry that any settlement is premature, saying they fear that the worst is yet to come. Pointing to the 1989 Exxon spill off the coast of Alaska, previously the largest oil spill in US waters, Viles said that it was several years before the full affect of that disaster was felt. “Four seasons after Exxon Valdez is when the herring fisheries collapsed,” says Viles. “The Gulf has been a neglected ecosystem for decades – we need to be monitoring it closely.”

    Environmentalists worry that any settlement is premature, saying they fear that the worst is yet to come.”

    In the aftermath of the spill, BP flooded the Gulf with nearly 2 million gallons of chemical dispersants. While BP says these chemicals broke up the oil, some scientists have said this just made it less visible, and sent the poisons deeper into the food chain.

    It is widely agreed that environmental problems on the coast [11] date back to long before the well blew open. The massive catastrophe brought into focus problems that have existed for a generation. Land loss caused by oil company drilling has already displaced many who lived by the coast, and the pollution from treatment plants has poisoned communities across the state – especially in “cancer alley,” the corridor of industrial facilities along the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge. “The Gulf is a robust ecosystem and it’s been dying the death of a thousand cuts for a long time,” says Viles. “BP is legally obligated to fix what they screwed up. But if you’re only obligated to put the ecosystem back to where it was April 19, 2010, why would we?”

    Fishing is a huge part of the economy for the Gulf Coast. Around 40% of the seafood caught in the continental US comes from here. Many area fishermen were still recovering from Hurricane Katrina when the spill closed a third of Gulf waters to fishing for months. George Barisich [12], president of the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association, a group that supports Gulf Coast fishers, says many fishers still had not recovered from Hurricane Katrina when the oil started flowing from the BP spill [13]. Now, he says, many are facing losing their homes. “Production is down at least 70 percent,” compared to the year before the spill, he says. “And prices are still depressed thirty, forty, sixty percent.”

    Many fishers still had not recovered from Hurricane Katrina when the oil started flowing from the BP spill.”

    In a video statement on BP’s website, Geir Robinson, Vice President of Economic Restoration for BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, says that the company believes the legal settlement will resolve most legitimate economic claims. “We do have critics,” adds Robinson. “And we’re working hard every day to show them that we will meet our responsibilities.”

    Environmentalists and scientists also complain that Obama administration has let down the Gulf Coast. Viles is critical of the role the US government has played, saying that by inaction they seemed to protect BP more than coastal communities or the environment. “The coast guard seems to empower the worst instincts of BP,” Viles says. “I don’t know if it’s Stockholm Syndrome or what.”

    International environmental groups have also joined in the criticism. Oceana, a conservation group with offices in Europe and the Americas, released a report on Tuesday criticizing the US government’s reforms as being either ineffective or nonexistent, saying “offshore drilling remains as risky and dangerous as it was two years ago, and that the risk of a major spill has not been effectively reduced.”

    Theresa Dardar lives in Bayou Pointe-au-Chien [14], a Native American [15] fishing community on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. Dardar and her neighbors have seen their land vanish from under their feet within their lifetimes due to canals built by the oil companies to access wells. The canals brought salt water into freshwater marshes, helping cause the coastal erosion that sees Louisiana lose a football field of land every 45 minutes. The main street that runs through the community now disappears into the swamps, with telephone poles sticking out of the water.

    Now, in addition to worries about disappearing land and increasing risk of hurricanes, she fears that her family’s livelihood is gone for good. “It’s not going to be over for years,” she says, expressing a widely held concern among fishers here. “We’re just a small Native American fishing community. That’s all they’ve done their whole lives. Some of them are over 60. What are they going to do? If BP gives them money for the rest of their lives, that’s one thing. But if not, then what can they do?

    Jordan Flaherty is a journalist based in New Orleans and author of the book Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six [16].[17]


    NOTES:

    [1] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/war-against-environment
    [2] http://blackagendareport.com/category/us-politics/bp-gulf-disaster
    [3] http://blackagendareport.com/category/us-politics/bp-gulf-settlement
    [4] http://blackagendareport.com/sites/www.blackagendareport.com/files/bayou_poison.jpg
    [5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/bp-2-other-companies-cite_n_1007949.html
    [6] http://louisianajusticeinstitute.blogspot.com/2010/06/lji-injustice-index-bp-drilling.html
    [7] http://louisianajusticeinstitute.blogspot.com/2011/07/devastating-report-exposes-feinbergs.html
    [8] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/gulf-oil-spill-coral-death_n_1380712.html
    [9] http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/oil-spill-affected-gulf-fishs-biology-study-finds/
    [10] http://healthygulf.org/
    [11] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/05/2011519131959617935.html
    [12] http://louisianajusticeinstitute.blogspot.com/2011/04/fishers-gather-to-commemorate.html
    [13] http://louisianajusticeinstitute.blogspot.com/2010/08/colorlines-heres-where-bp-is-dumping.html
    [14] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-flaherty/fears-of-cultural-extinct_b_612626.html
    [15] http://louisianajusticeinstitute.blogspot.com/2011/11/houma-nation-fight-for-recognition-by.html
    [16] http://floodlines.org/
    [17] http://www.addtoany.com/share_save?linkurl=http%3A%2F%2Fblackagendareport.com%2Fcontent%2Ftwo-years-after-bp-drilling-disaster-gulf-residents-fear-future&linkname=Two%20years%20After%20the%20BP%20Drilling% 0Disaster%2C%20Gulf%20Residents%20Fear%20for%20the%20Future    

     

    US ARMS SALES TO LATIN AMERICA

    April 27th, 2012 by Global Research

    For Customized Search by Country and Region of US Arms Sales click here

     

    U.S. Arms and Equipment Sales, All Programs, Entire Region, 2005-2010

    Country
    2005
    2006
    2007
    2008
    2009
    2010
    TOTAL

    Mexico
    230,486,114
    401,948,670
    246,327,382
    749,985,108
    974,901,419
    475,061,022
    3,078,709,715

    Colombia
    112,805,113
    362,228,684
    333,652,881
    419,145,722
    240,651,999
    538,137,238
    2,006,621,637

    Chile
    241,293,280
    323,130,844
    133,841,184
    139,185,605
    235,396,412
    172,750,383
    1,245,597,708

    Brazil
    150,972,949
    68,732,914
    249,657,737
    153,506,459
    165,066,263
    287,869,851
    1,075,806,173

    Argentina
    28,548,849
    61,371,002
    37,739,536
    104,053,628
    48,988,034
    58,660,166
    339,361,215

    Peru
    8,046,012
    63,994,564
    81,184,250
    50,130,166
    26,718,768
    30,891,163
    260,964,923

    French Guiana
    177,374,066
    420,888
     
    147,840
    1,439,581
    487,128
    179,869,503

    Ecuador
    23,090,979
    23,509,163
    14,571,986
    41,152,033
    27,966,149
    17,678,292
    147,968,602

    Bermuda
    41,486
    12,962
    33,909
    114,552,830
    1,072,895
    16,671
    115,730,753

    Dominican Republic
    10,874,900
    34,926,962
    27,818,077
    11,493,129
    5,671,695
    17,431,101
    108,215,864

    Netherlands Antilles
    1,868,197
    421,165
     
    6,578,061
    46,425,340
    46,762,932
    102,055,695

    Costa Rica
    9,774,916
    22,303,459
    1,662,610
    25,418,012
    7,852,471
    21,278,275
    88,289,743

    Panama
    923,872
    2,440,889
    3,370,334
    37,884,109
    9,269,076
    11,923,738
    65,812,018

    Venezuela
    47,572,933
    16,321,000
    897,000
    453,000
    2,000
     
    65,245,933

    Bolivia
    6,177,939
    12,202,196
    26,056,411
    8,397,121
    233,858
    4,685,160
    57,752,685

    El Salvador
    3,292,169
    4,657,164
    4,510,109
    16,217,575
    15,863,813
    8,214,579
    52,755,409

    Guatemala
    1,316,331
    1,431,433
    2,151,455
    7,910,285
    28,635,156
    5,390,671
    46,835,331

    Suriname
    49,065
    150,407
    81,921
    159,796
    32,175,848
    192,629
    32,809,666

    Jamaica
    2,449,469
    2,038,353
    11,606,045
    5,353,447
    6,667,225
    3,335,210
    31,449,749

    Honduras
    2,860,986
    2,596,379
    5,475,230
    9,597,745
    5,002,600
    768,843
    26,301,783

    St. Kitts and Nevis
    103,723
    18,062,223
    329,050
    296,656
    919,792
    5,060,830
    24,772,274

    Uruguay
    1,181,822
    5,256,581
    4,826,271
    7,310,962
    582,000
    5,017,930
    24,175,566

    Trinidad and Tobago
    3,345,366
    1,857,188
    1,569,927
    4,241,088
    6,838,379
    2,301,227
    20,153,175

    Haiti
    2,152,163
    385,109
    2,026,079
    2,300,622
    734,931
    5,443,870
    13,042,774

    Nicaragua
    1,646,849
    1,157,072
    1,550,967
    1,514,817
    1,987,374
    1,516,832
    9,373,911

    Paraguay
    222,676
    944,674
    782,134
    861,111
    1,006,839
    2,527,112
    6,344,546

    Belize
    695,618
    739,621
    599,224
    777,878
    602,075
    1,383,296
    4,797,712

    Antigua and Barbuda
    627,004
    621,059
    222,527
    1,045,200
    1,398,694
    149,540
    4,064,024

    St. Lucia
    214,698
    187,600
    138,161
    619,312
    886,973
    600,094
    2,646,838

    Barbados
    759,991
    489,159
    319,964
    182,203
    315,951
    201,042
    2,268,310

    Bahamas
    31,506
    289,904
    329,391
     
    587,178
    217,762
    1,455,741

    Guyana
    60,922
    105,074
    443,722
    156,887
    386,641
    291,057
    1,444,303

    Cayman Islands
     
     
    23,783
    31,529
    1,167,407
    62,700
    1,285,419

    Dominica
    170,156
    109,705
    399,298
    37,666
    509,160
    57,550
    1,283,535

    Grenada
    84,000
    112,000
    149,837
    29,180
    673,810
    71,000
    1,119,827

    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    15,042
    16,941
    92,802
    328,369
    82,758
    76,441
    612,353

    Aruba
    70,008
    33,132
    63,602
    15,103
    112,050
    68,060
    361,955

    OAS Headquarters
    7,000
    59,000
    24,000
     
     
     
    90,000

    St. Vincent and Gren.
     
     
     
     
    50,000
     
    50,000

    British Virgin Islands
    3,885
    6,100
    5,500
    13,000
     
     
    28,485

    Montserrat
     
    4,998
     
     
    15,450
     
    20,448

    TOTAL
    1,071,212,054
    1,435,276,238
    1,194,534,296
    1,921,083,254
    1,898,858,064
    1,726,581,395
    9,247,545,301

           A. Las “noticias” del Canal 24h

           Vergüenza para Radio-Televisión Española en lo que es su enésimo acto de tergiversación, al que estos asesinos audiovisuales allanadores osan calificar de “noticia”.

           Afirma el Telediario que “los observadores internacionales de Naciones Unidas exigen al gobierno el fin de la violencia en Siria, y más tras la última masacre perpetrada”.

           Pero hay un “detalle” que la “noticia” omite. Los propios observadores “internacionales” no han desmentido hasta la fecha los tres siguientes datos estatales:

           1º. Desde su entrada en vigor, el “Alto el Fuego” ha sido violado con más de 1.000 acciones ofensivas de disparo por parte del Hampa de delincuentes que se hacen llamar “rebeldes” y “Oposición militar”.

           2º. En el último mes esta Mafia ha proliferado en sus secuestros a la población civil, llevada por motivos económicos de lucro y de financiación a su infraestructura. Parece que ahora hay que sacarle el dinero a las familias, nueva “táctica” que en última instancia responde a la parcial retirada de suministro “presupuestario” por parte de las Potencias imperialistas orquestadoras (una vez más se constata que a partir de cierto momento “Roma no paga Traidores”).

           3º. No dejan de penetrar en Siria -dispuestos a acometer sus incursiones-, sujetos armados procedentes de Libia (17 fueron neutralizados hace unos días cerca de Latakia). Así como tunecinos y egipcios, mientras sus gobiernos neo-islamistas pos”revolución primaveral”  hacen la vista gorda a las razzias. He ahí los Gobiernos terroristas a quienes los Pueblos, y no sus pálidas falsificaciones espectaculares, habrán de ajusticiar en un futuro de genuina consciencia.

           Ante el Panorama real percibido hoy por los observadores, Kofi Annan hace la vista gorda al tiempo que el Organigrama de filtrado de Naciones Unidas impermeabiliza su Agenda de Actuación respecto de datos incómodos. Pero ahí están, y “no hay más ciego que quien no quiere ver”. Quienes desde Televisión Española o su Alto Cargo en Naciones Unidas se dedican a cegar a la “opinión pública”,  pueden proseguir con su siniestra comedia exigiéndole al Gobierno sirio la magia y milagros de (textualmente) “garantizar el fin de la violencia”. ¿Y cómo se supone que éste va a hacerlo?. El Ejército responde porque tiene que proteger a las víctimas de esa bandilla de mafiosos asesinos con sponsor.

           Pero es que, en el fondo, ése es el Plan: como el gobierno sirio habría de seguir “reprimiendo”, y así lo “revelan” las “noticias” de TVE entre cientos de otros cómplices periodísticos, la “misión ONU de pacificación” no puede continuar implementándose sólo con observadores civiles”, así que habría que llegar a “otro grado”. Por el momento, y en consecuencia, las primeras decenas de Boinas Azules de Naciones Unidas están ya operantes sobre suelo sirio.

           Por su parte (y reflexiónese sobre siguiente el dato), de los 300 observadores civiles proyectados han llegado tan solamente 7 (5 más 2 observadores chinos llegados ayer 25 de abril), sin que por supuesto se halla iniciado todavía la inspección ni menos la confección de informes. Condición de neo-nata, pues, tiene la Misión de Naciones Unidas, lo que no es óbice para que el francés Alain Juppé exclame textualmente que… “La Misión Civil en Siria ha fracasado”. ¿Se puede ser ya más cínico a la hora de hacer valer el Plan que a priori se tiene en Agenda?. ¿Se le puede ver más a uno “el plumero”?     

           B. ¿Qué “Alto el Fuego” puede el propio Fuego?:

    Para las bandas y sus titiriteros, las armas no son un medio de fuerza hacia el diálogo político sirio entre supuestas “partes”, sino un escalón en el Proyecto foráneo de destrucción nacional/domesticación política

           En su profundidad, la Categoría jurídico-militar de “Alto el Fuego” aplicada a este preciso contexto sirio, no deja de ser mistificación semántica en sí. Su misma substancia de significado es ni más ni menos que podredumbre confusionista. Pues está fuera de todo lugar de realidad “llegar a un alto el fuego” con quienes ingresan las cifras en su franco-británica o en su franco-saudí Cuenta Corriente junto al mensaje financiero “prended Siria y que arda”.

           Así pues, la violación reiterada del llamado “marco de Alto el Fuego”, pone sobre el tapete -más profundamente a motivaciones volitivas y más allá de fanatismos motrices- la cuestión de cuál es la Entidad de estos armados:

           ¿En serio alguien puede creer que una organización que tuviera realmente carácter militar, con vínculos consolidados entre cierto fragmento de la población siria y representando en el plano militar los intereses de ciertas fracciones de clase -por ejemplo a la pequeña burguesía mercantil, a la burguesía comercial, a la pequeña burguesía teológica…-, iba a dedicarse a sabotear incansablemente una tregua llegada en medio de los serios y regulares reveses que esa organización misma ha estado sufriendo?

           La respuesta a esta escandalosa contradicción es la siguiente:

           Aquello que los medios como TVE han urdido en llamar ejército sirio rebelde, ejército libre de Siria, pueblo rebelde de Siria y fórmulas similares, no es en realidad ni un ejército, ni es libre, ni por supuesto tampoco es sirio.

           Los ejércitos no son otra cosa que dispositivos materiales traduciendo al plano de la violencia las relaciones inter-clase cuando éstas han llegado al grado de desenvolverse conscientemente de acuerdo a la naturaleza política en el fondo inherente a los antagonismos de clase, a las necesidades de clase y a sus intereses. Pero a este curiosísimo “ejército”, quien ha violado más de 1.000 veces la tregua desde su inicio, no se le ven ningunas ganas de anclar en un marco de diálogo o de negociaciones que sirviera para sentar las bases a “nuevos grados de apertura política”. Es decir, que sirviera para poner las bases en pro de una re-modificación del sistema jurídico-institucional con que posibilitar asumir poder político a las fracciones clasistas cuyos intereses la supuesta “organización militar” habría de estar representando.

           ¿Por qué ese actuar desmarcado de tender hacia la propia “formalización Política como fuerza” y consecuentemente desmarcado de la tregua que sería la atmósfera permisiva a tal acceso?:

           Pues porque el carácter de clase objetivo que subyace a estos armados no se ubica en Siria, sino fuera de Siria, y porque a tal clase determinante -la Burguesía Monopolista de Estado imperialista- se la trae al pairo hacerse con más o menos cuotas de poder político. Lo que necesita el imperialismo es El Poder Político como tal en Siria, y esa Dictadura suya que el Capital financiero tiene por finalidad no puede edificarla, obviamente, desde ningún marco de diálogo que valga ni desde ningún proceso de “apertura política”: el imperialismo sabe perfectamente de la naturaleza antagónica entre sí y cualquier marco político nacional de concurrencia/lucha/distribución/articulación entre las clases. En su racionalidad tanto económica como geopolítica, Siria le es “todo o nada”: no cabe el consenso.

           Dicha racionalidad exterior de naturaleza maniquea sólo puede realizarse en el interior a través de tres conjuntos actoriales armados, a quienes importa tres pimientos los estragos poblacionales y productivos consecuentes a sus acciones.

           Al contrario, la única encomendación hecha a tales tres actores es la de tensar cada vez más la cuerda destructiva disponiendo así la “Revelación solucionadora”, que debe correr a cargo de “La Comunidad Internacional”, y llegándose finalmente, de mano de ésta, al vaciamiento nacional de Siria y a su completa anexión ordenada al Mundo-Circuito de las Burguesías Financieras Imperialistas. Mundo-Circuito donde países y Pueblos operan como chips transmisores de energía hacia el altar mammónico de la deposición/re-inversión de capitales. Procede volver a señalar el botón de muestra: estamos viendo ya el despliegue incipiente de Boinas Azules en Siria.

           Tales tres grupos actoriales armados ejecutores son:

           1) Los mercenarios extranjeros (desde yankies hasta afganos, pasando por turcos y franceses) avituallados hasta los dientes;

           2) El lumpen, crimen, ex-convictos traficantes de más o menos monta y delincuencia pagados, quienes hacen de avanzadilla como carne de cañón del Imperialismo, pero quienes juegan un rol por conocedores de los marcos físicos en que el primer grupo tiene que desenvolverse;
     

           3) Elementos desprendidos de la oficialía militar con aspiraciones a burguesía militar-burocrática, quienes no representan, objetivamente y en última instancia, más que a sí mismos, al Imperialismo que les patrocina y a las “oposiciones” con aspiraciones oligárquicas y sitas en Europa (elementos en Francia, en GB, en España reunidos hace pocos meses en Madrid con la entonces ministra Trinidad Giménez, etc.). 

           C. ¿Guerra Civil entre franjas poblacionales-clasistas con ejércitos respectivos?. ¿O Nación acosada por jaurías ausentes de representar en lo profundo a trasfondo clasista o policlasista nacional alguno?

           En resumidas cuentas:

           Habiéndose llegado a un Alto el Fuego, su reventar cada día a manos de estos boicoteadores es un acto que bien sería Irracional desde cualquier óptica de cálculo de beneficios sectoriales. Y más teniendo en cuenta el curso de los acontecimientos, que les es marcadamente desfavorable.

           Si se sabe “leer entre líneas”, dicho acto pone de manifiesto que no estamos ante ninguna “Guerra Civil” definida como proceso donde dos o más grupos poblacionales nacionales confrontan en el plano militar el antagonismo de SUS intereses materiales POLÍTICOS de clase y, por consiguiente, de cosmovisiones e ideologías. Puesto que, contrariamente a las películas mediáticas, la contradicción principal que hoy se traduce como proceso “sirio” no es contradicción en última instancia enmarcada en Siria, y ni mucho menos en el conjunto de relaciones inter-clase de ámbito sirio.

           Por eso mismo, cualquier propósito honesto de pacificación (ya propuesto por el Portavoz del Gobierno sirio en la propia ONU) orientado desplazar la contradicción política desde el Plano de la violencia armada hacia un Plano político electivo “más abierto” o bien hacia un Plano político de conciliación y consenso, es un propósito que rompe de raíz los planes de la “Oposición armada”. Pues ésta, al no representar a base social o a base clasista alguna nacional, sino a la camarilla exterior de candidatos sirios a fundar Oligarquía dependiente del Imperialismo, es una “Oposición” suspendida en el aire, muy limitada para entroncar con el suelo social de Siria. Es pura pantalla privada de substancia y que por tanto nacería político-electivamente muerta en un contexto de férrea consciencia nacional-popular como es la sociedad siria tomada en su abrumadora mayoría (véase el cariz de las manifestaciones masivas a lo largo de más de un año de asedio fascista-entreguista exterior/interior).

           Y a toda esta descripción hay que matizar aquello relativo a acuñar un sistema político “más abierto”:

           Me refería, claro, a “más abierto” como para que pudieran optar a concurrir en él estos vehículos de los intereses imperiales anti-nacionales. Puesto que, en sí, Siria ya goza de un sistema político abierto, pero al Pueblo: Siria se prepara para las Elecciones de mayo, donde se presentan más de 7.000 candidatos para poco más de 120 escaños, entre los cuales casi 80 están reservados a comités obreros y campesinos. ¿Con qué caradura afirma “nuestra” prensa que “Siria es una Dictadura”?. Y sin embargo, recordemos: no existe “la Democracia” abstracta a su propio carácter de clase: a “nuestra” prensa la ampara la democracia del Capital financiero (Dictadura sobre los países oprimidos del Mundo), pretendiente a fagocitar también a Siria. Y la democracia siria es indisociablemente Dictadura popular contra esa Dictadura oligárquica.    

           Lo que hay verdaderamente, lejos de ser “fuego bélico” en el seno de una “población civil bipolarizada”, es una mal-llamada “parte” cuya composición Directiva no se vincula a Siria salvo en el uso que realiza de actores clasistas terceros sirios que no le son a ella más que vehiculares. Una “parte del conflicto” cuyas metas no son en profundidad dar cabida política concurrencial en Siria a esas fracciones interiores de clase de que se sirve, y que por tanto como “parte” no tiene nada que negociar.

           Una “parte” a la que, en tal medida, nada importa la sangre vertida; y la que menos le importa es la sangre de sus movilizados interiores, pues esa “parte” misma no pertenece a aquellas fracciones de adeptos o de seducidos, ni le anuda ningún vínculo nacional con ellos (ni siquiera vínculo de clase en el plano interior sirio).

           Al revés: se trata de una parte cuya función especializada es causar sangre hasta que la sangre llegue al río premeditado de la apropiación anglo-sionista de Siria planificada por su espantapájaros las “Naciones Unidas”.

           A tenor de estas consideraciones, podemos llegar a desentrañar finalmente la Entidad de los supuestos ejércitos re-presentados como “rebeldes” en suelo sirio:

           A. No son ningún Ejército: Los oficiales sirios que lo representan avalados con la película periodística de “la deserción militar” de “la incorporación civil rebelde a la oficialía militar de grado bajo o medio”, son en realidad hombres de paja sin margen de directriz. Los únicos Ejércitos que componen esa mal-llamada “parte”, y que comandan latentemente, son muy otros: US Army, Ejército francés, turco, británico, israelí… Ahí deben buscarse las oficialías de facto.

           

           B. Por lo mismo, no es “Libre”: Contra la película periodística relativa al reclutamiento voluntario de sus tropas de base entre soldados rasos “desertores” y entre “civiles que han conseguido auto-armarse” y han formado un ejército, el grueso de composición real corresponde a camadas a sueldo y entrenadas en campos turcos, libios, qataríes… Y quienes sí son soldados procedentes de estructuras militares no son precisamente sirios, sino turcos, franceses, y soldados USA incorporados por la empresa Black Water sobre todo desde suelo irakí.

     

           C. Este no-ejército no-libre tampoco es “de Siria”: Aunque es verdad que varias fracciones entre la pequeña burguesía mercantil y religiosa, entre la burguesía comercial siria y entre la burocracia siria con los ojos puestos sobre la acumulación de terrenos y suelos, son fracciones muy interesadas -y volcadas-en la victoria de esta pseudo-insurrección, lo cierto es que los mayores beneficiarios, financieros y “reclutadores” del dispositivo “militar” son actores foráneos al marco nacional (no hablamos ya de marco patriótico o de marco popular). Esos actores deben ser buscados en otras latitudes, empezando por Tel-Aviv.

           Los profesionales que preparan, montan, editan, escriben y leen sin disentir y sin objetar noticias como la de ayer noche en TVE (contra la loable dimisión de ya varios periodistas de Al-Jazeera, llevados a ello por motivos de conciencia), son asesinos puros y duros. Ellos ponen voz lastimera dando la crónica del “irrespeto gubernamental por el alto el fuego y la agudización al respecto de las presiones emitidas por Kofi Annan”. Cuando ciertamente conocen que esa lacrimógena voz periodística suya está inserta en aquel marco discursivo que es herramienta imperialista para proseguir un día más con su despliegue de sangre sobre Siria y de lágrimas de sangre. Un día los Pueblos les trataremos por lo que son.

    A crowd estimated at 250,000 people or more wound its way through Montréal April 22 in Quebec’s largest ever Earth Day march. They raised many demands: an end to tar sands and shale gas development, opposition to the Quebec government’s Plan Nord mining expansion, support for radical measures to protect ecosystems, and other causes. And many wore the red felt square symbolizing support to the province’s students fighting the Liberal government’s 75 per cent increase in post-secondary education fees over the next five years. The Earth Day march was the largest mobilization to date in a mounting wave of citizen protest throughout the province.

    Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

    In the vanguard have been the students, now in the eleventh week of a strike that has effectively shut down Quebec’s universities and junior colleges. In recent days they have battled court injunctions and mounting police repression. Their resilience has astonished many Québécois and inspired strong statements of support from broad layers of the population.[1] Equally surprising to many has been the government’s stubborn refusal to even discuss the fee hike with student representatives.

    Addressing the huge crowd assembled at the foot of Mount Royal, student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois answered the taunts against the students by Premier Jean Charest and his deputy, Education Minister Line Beauchamp:

    “In recent days they have been calling Quebec students hoodlums, vandals, violent people. That’s false! What is more violent than selling the lands of indigenous peoples to some multinationals? What is more violent than polluting the air that our children are going to breathe? We are not violent, it is they who are violent!”

    The Crunch

    The student strike – the longest in Quebec history – is now in a crucial phase. If it continues for more than a few days, an entire semester will be sacrificed by the students. Yet the strike has held firm. There are still more than 170,000 students boycotting classes and they are now being joined by some high school students.[2] The movement has been sustained by frequent mass assemblies and debates as well as off-campus mobilizations. On March 22, more than 200,000 students and supporters marched through the streets of Montréal while throughout Quebec some 300,000 students struck their campuses.

    Although the police have kept a low profile in the largest student actions, they have been emboldened by the government’s intransigence and the complicity of courts and academic authorities. During the past week, the cops have viciously attacked peaceful student demonstrations and arrested hundreds. Popular reactions in talk shows and letters to the editor indicate that many citizens are shocked at the repression, especially in regions outside the Montréal metropolitan area.

    In Gatineau – a city adjacent to Ottawa, the federal capital – some dissident students at the regional campus of the Université du Québec (UQO) got a superior court judge to issue an injunction ordering professors to resume normal classes and barring student pickets within 25 metres of the university facilities. On April 18, I joined about 200 students, professors and supporters protesting the injunction. After demonstrating in front of the main campus, we marched peacefully (albeit noisily) through city streets, heading toward a secondary UQO campus less than two kilometres distant. Suddenly the municipal police tactical squad closed in, surrounded us and kept us “kettled” in close formation for a couple of hours before arresting more than 160 of us. We are being charged with “obstructing traffic” – although it was the police who closed off the road!

    The next day, a similar demonstration, joined now by supporters bussed in from Montréal, was attacked at various points by the provincial police riot squad using pepper spray and truncheons. After leading the cops on a cat-and-mouse march through the city streets, some students found an unlocked door in a university building, entered and peacefully occupied the cafeteria. The cops swarmed in and stood in battle array along the walls. The students remained calm in the face of this intimidating spectacle. They observed a moment of silence and then held an hour-long free discussion on reforming the Quebec education system. The police then announced that they would be charged with “public mischief,” a serious criminal offense. In all, some 150 students and supporters were arrested that day.

    The police occupation of campuses, as in Gatineau, is unprecedented and has shocked the academic community, resulting in several public statements of protest from professors and their unions. And even non-striking students have increasingly objected to the intimidating presence of police and massive private security forces on some campuses, including the University of Montréal.

    A United Front

    Despite the provocation from government leaders and the cops, and the vitriolic verbal attacks on the students from much of the mass media – and notwithstanding a few minor incidents of attacks on property by a few unidentified agitators – the students have displayed a remarkably astute ability to remain united and strategically focused on the broader issues in their struggle.

    When Education Minister Line Beauchamp, under mounting popular pressure, grudgingly offered to meet with student leaders (but not to discuss the fees increase), she ruled out meeting with the largest of the three groups, the CLASSE.[3] Her pretext? CLASSE leaders had not denounced violent attacks allegedly committed by a few students, including an incident in which her constituency office was invaded, staffers assaulted and some furnishings destroyed. Leaders of the other two federations[4] refused to meet with the minister in the absence of the CLASSE, and pointed out that under the CLASSE’s democratic structure and procedures, its leaders had no mandate to issue such a denunciation pending a decision by its weekly congress to do so.

    This common front of the student organizations was a major change from the previous student strike, in 2005, when the two more conservative federations had abandoned the CLASSE predecessor, the CASSÉE,[5] and bargained an agreement with the minister that was subsequently criticized by many students, not just CASSÉE supporters, as grossly inadequate. In part, the change this year reflects the much greater weight of the CLASSE, the most militant wing of the movement, in the strike. It now represents about one half of the strikers, and has provided much of the political leadership for the movement as a whole.

    (At the regular weekly congress of the CLASSE leadership, April 22, the delegates adopted a resolution “denouncing any deliberate physical violence toward individuals,” while reaffirming their support of actions of civil disobedience such as occupations of parliamentary deputies’ offices or blockages of certain sites such as bridges, roads, etc. In doing so, they effectively called the minister’s bluff. At this point she has not responded.)

    A ‘Débat de Société’

    The CLASSE began preparing for the strike early in 2011, publishing several issues during the year of an on-line tabloid journal, Ultimatum, containing detailed, well-argued articles on the issues and extensive reports on local activities. Each issue, up to 44 pages at one point, included reports on the popular upsurges in the Middle East and elsewhere internationally, with an emphasis on the leading role of students and youth. The Occupy movement was prominently covered. When the strike began in February of this year, Ultimatum switched to a two-page format issued almost weekly with updates on the strike’s progress.

    Largely thanks to CLASSE’s intervention the strike has managed to move the public debate onto the students’ terrain, raising basic questions about the role of public education and its importance to the whole of Quebec society as a collective service that should be financed out of general government revenues, not on the backs of students as ‘consumers.’ Thus, while the strike movement’s immediate goal is to ‘block the increase’ in fees, the students have successfully placed the campaign in the context of an ongoing fight for la gratuité scolaire, free and universal access to post-secondary education. As the students argue, this remains a still unrealized objective of Quebec’s “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s.

    The students’ case has been endorsed by the eminent sociologist Guy Rocher, a member of the Quebec government-appointed Parent commission in the 1960s that laid the basis for a massive overhaul of the province’s educational system, proposing an end to church control of the schools and the creation of a vast network of post-secondary educational institutions. In an interview published in Le Devoir, Rocher described free education as a “societal choice” that would cost only 1% of the Quebec budget. And the Parent commission, he recalled, said free post-secondary education was “desirable in the long term” and even proposed that the neediest students be given a salary while they studied.

    In fact, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Canada is a signatory, provides that “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education” [Article 13(2)(c)].

    Aware that even stopping the current hike in fees requires a popular mobilization larger than what the students themselves can achieve, the CLASSE has called for creation of a broad united front of protest against the neoliberal offensive and linked the fees increase to a string of recent regressive measures. A statement issued for the April 14 march, “For a Quebec Spring,” stated:

    “Cuts in social programs, lower taxes for corporations, record military expenditures, setbacks to women’s rights, massive layoffs, inaction on factory closings, raising the retirement threshold to 67 years, increase in education fees, imposition of the healthcare tax, increased electricity rates… The list of Liberal and Conservative injustices is a long one.”

    Where Are the Unions?

    And indeed, the students’ appeals have been supported by a wide array of organizations in civil society. The full list, regularly updated, can be found at the web site 1625$ de hausse, ça ne passe pas. But while all three trade-union centrals support the students and favour free education, they have so far failed to back their rhetoric with economic action – not even the one-day general strike in solidarity with the students promised by the CSN. A petition urging such action by the unions is now gathering mounting support. It urges the union leaders to speak out forcefully, to organize a “national mobilization, beginning perhaps with a one-day symbolic general strike across Quebec” and, if that proves insufficient to defeat the fee hike, to follow it up with stronger solidarity actions.

    Meanwhile, the right-wing voices in the mass media – especially in English Canada – are becoming increasingly shrill in their attacks on the students. A case in point was a diatribe by Postmedia columnist Andrew Coyne, a regular member of CBC-TV’s “At Issue” panel, which the state television network presents as intelligent commentary on questions of the day. In an April 21 newspaper column, Coyne described the Quebec students as a “self-serving, self-satisfied, self-dramatizing collection of idiots,” and went on to propose that instead of paying the present 17% of the total cost of their education the students should pay the full tab – through a graduated tax on subsequent income! Such is the logic of the neoliberal ‘user pays’ principle.

    And the Funding?

    “la gratuité scolaire.” [photo by Marc Bonhomme]

    There is, of course, no truth whatever in claims that there is not enough money in current government budgets to support free education at all levels. The point was made quite compellingly in a statement by Cap sur l’indépendance, a network of groups agitating for an independent Quebec. It contrasted the projected revenues from the fee hike, $250-million, with the following documented unnecessary expenditures, among others:

    • Annual cost of Canadian monarchy: $49-million (Monarchist League of Canada, 2011)

    • Harper’s financing of oil companies since 2009: $3.5-billion (Suzuki Foundation, 2012)

    • Tax evasion of the five biggest Canadian banks (1993-2007): $16-billion (Lauzon and Hasbani, 2008)

    • Canada’s climate debt under Kyoto as of December 31, 2012: $19-billion (Le Devoir)

    • Canadian military expenditures (2007-08): $490-billion (Canada First Defence Strategy, 2008)

    In fact, a single F-35 fighter plane ($482-million, according to the Auditor-General) would largely suffice to fund the re-investment in post-secondary education that Premier Jean Charest wants students to pay.

    As Cap sur l’indépendance notes, all of the above are expenditures under the federal regime. No doubt many other needless expenses – and new revenue sources – could be found within Quebec government budgets. But it would be easier to tackle those in an independent Quebec, “in which we could flourish in all areas, starting with education.”

    However, the major independentist party, the Parti Québécois (PQ), does not support free post-secondary education. Several weeks into the student strike, the PQ leadership promised only a freeze on student fees if elected – now a real possibility in the forthcoming general election, judging from opinion polls. Only the pro-independence left party, Québec solidaire, is solidly behind the demand for la gratuité scolaire. •

    Richard Fidler is an Ottawa member of the Socialist Project. This article first appeared on his blog Life on the Left.

    Notes:

    1. For an important statement early in the strike, see the appeal by Quebec post-secondary teachers.

    2. A list of associations voting for unlimited general strike can be found here.

    3. CLASSE stands for Coalition Large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante, the Broad coalition of the Association for student union solidarity. Its web site explains that the CLASSE is “a temporary union type of organization comprising close to 100,000 members in many college and university student associations throughout Quebec. It represents the continuity of a current that for 40 years has made the student movement a ubiquitous actor in Quebec society and a major agent of social progress in education.” (The web site also contains materials in English; see the upper right corner.)

    4. These are the Fédération Universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) and the Fédération Étudiante Collégiale du Québec (FECQ).

    5. Coalition de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante Élargie (CASSÉE).

    Troubles with Tritium & Shield Source in Peterborough

    William E. Lynch Jr. is the owner of Shield Source, which manufactures radioactive ‘EXIT’ signs using a nuclear reactor waste by-product called Tritium.  Tritium gas was first used as the detonating component in nuclear bombs.  It is sourced from the Darlington Nuclear plant and transported 66kms north to Peterborough for use in “self-illuminating safety signs” .

    Speaking to CHEX News’ Melody Belfry, Lynch defended Shield Source’s safety record arguing, “We’ve been in Peterborough for 26 years, we are licensed as you know by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and they are regulatory, and watching over what we do, and all the operations we have comply with all the applicable regulations.”

    According to a Canadian Environmental Law Association, CELA, media release, Shield Source has “recalculated its tritium emissions for the years 2010 and 2011 at five to nine times the levels previously reported”, adding, “The new levels are more than twice the release limits allowed by the CNSC licence.” Joseph Castrilli, legal counsel at CELA is acting on behalf of a local citizen’s group, SAGE, Safe and Green Energy Peterborough, in the matter.

    For CHEX News, Melody Belfry also spoke with Ruth Webster, who  “works for the company and only lives five kilometers away, she thinks all of this is for nothing”.   Webster told Belfry “we’re tested, all the guidelines are followed, they’re a wonderful company to work for and to be with and it just makes me upset to think of all this going on”.

    Webster was in attendance at an April 19th public information meeting hosted by Shield Source.  The meeting was requested by SAGE organizer and local filmmaker Jessica Rowland. The occasion was the first public meeting in the history of Shield Source which operates at the Peterborough Airport.

    The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CNSC, recently announced the cancellation of the May 2nd tribunal hearing to consider a requested ten year operating licence renewal for Shield Source. 

    The CNSC has also restricted Shield Source’s operating licence to forbid the company from processing tritium gas, yet the regulator contends “doses to the public are well below regulatory limits and the safety of the public, workers and the environment have not been compromised”. 

    A letter from the Peterborough County Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, states a “grave health concern” over tritium emissions, noting “We have a small industry in Peterborough emitting more than a major nuclear industry”. 

    When water contaminated with tritium, a known carcinogen, is ingested by pregnant women, it can cause fetal malformation according to Dr. Ken Ranney.  Dr. Ranney is a Peterborough resident and retired pathologist who argues “its hard for me to see why this enterprise should be necessary at all”. 

    SAGE spokesperson Jeff Brackett has recently revealed that Shield Source owner, William E. Lynch Jr. is also the owner of Isolite in Berwyn Pennsylvania, and Safety Light in Wayne Pennsylvania. 

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken over the Safety Light site and started a $17 million clean-up paid for by taxpayers.  Speaking to Pamela Vanmeer of CHEX News, Lynch claimed “Safety Light does not have the resources to pay for clean up and that most of the contamination was from previous owners of the company.” 

    According to transcripts of a CNSC hearing into Shield Source’s operating licence in 2009,  Lynch was specifically asked if there was any connection to a company known as Safety Light Corporation.  In response Mr. Lynch said, “Shield Source was started in the mid-80’s on its own, has no affiliation of its own with Safety Light or any other U.S. corporation”

    Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, CCNR, contends the decision to cancel the public hearing is a “small but significant victory”.  Because Shield Source will not be allowed to process tritium for the time being, Edwards claims it allows groups opposing the company “to cultivate support for a principled position against the opportunistic marketing of radioactive waste products from nuclear reactors”.

    For more about Shield Source and Tritium:

    Video (4minutes 49seconds) of April 11th public meeting featuring Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear responsibility and Dr. Linda Harvey of Physician for Gobal Survival

    http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/video/dr-linda-harvey-dr-gordon-edwards-trit…

    Video (1minute 22seconds) SAGE Hwy 115 Tritium Banner Drop

    Video (6minutes 14seconds) Everything You Wanted to Know About Radioactive Tritium But Were Afraid To Youtube

    Video (1minute 34seconds) Raging Grannies drop new single: Shield Source and Tritium Contamination in Peterborough

    Video (3minutes 5seconds) MEDIA ADVISORY: Tritium & The Quality of LIfe in Peterborough

    Article and Video (4minutes 18seconds) Radioactive Health Alert in Peterborough: Tritium

    Video (5minutes 35seconds) Shield Source and Tritium Contamination – Interview with SAGE Spokesperson Jeff Brackett

    Video (6minutes 52seconds) Toxic Tour: Shield Source Tour with Jeff Brackett

    In 1939, Sebastian Haffner sat down and wrote a pre-history of Nazism.

    Nazism had not been inevitable. It had not progressed steadily without setbacks. But it had been growing for many years, even before the name for it existed. It had been coming since the end of the Great War.

    By the late 1920s, according to Haffner, “Berlin became quite an international city. Admittedly, the sinister Nazi types already lurked in the wings, as ‘we’ could not fail to notice with deep disgust. They spoke of ‘Eastern vermin’ with murder in their eyes and sneeringly of ‘Americanization.’ Whereas ‘we,’ a segment of the younger generation difficult to define but instantly and mutually recognizable, were not only friendly toward foreigners, but enthusiastic about them.”

    The Stresemann Era, 1924-1929, saw Gustav Stresemann serve as Foreign Minister. He made peace with France, joined the League of Nations, won a Nobel Peace Prize, wandered the streets of Berlin unarmed and unguarded, and his signature is first at the bottom of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Who studies him today? His spirit is far more powerful in Germany now than Hitler’s, so powerful as to go unnoticed.

    But Hitler was coming. When Stresemann died in 1929, “we were seized with icy terror. . . . The era of peace was at an end. So long as Stresemann had been there, we had not quite believed it. Now we knew.”

    In 1930, Heinrich Bruning became chancellor, ushering in what we would today call “bipartisan austerity” or “fiscal responsibility,” something the United States and its allies helped to impose on Germany, just as the United States and Germany now help to impose it on Greece or Spain. Bruning cut salaries, pensions, social benefits, wages, interest rates, freedom to travel, freedom of the press, and the powers of the parliament. “Yet, paradoxically, his actions were rooted in the conviction that he was defending the republic. Understandably, the republicans began to ask themselves whether there was anything left to defend.”

    Haffner makes an interesting observation at this point in his reminiscences: “To my knowledge, the Bruning regime was the first essay and model of a form of government that has since been copied in many European countries: the semi-dictatorship in the name, and in defense, of democracy against fully fledged dictatorship.”

    As a U.S. citizen in 2012, of course, there is nothing whatsoever familiar to me in Haffner’s description of Bruning:

    “Anyone who takes the trouble to study Bruning’s rule in depth will find all those factors that make this sort of government the inevitable forerunner of the very thing it is supposed to prevent: its discouragement of its own supporters; the way it undermines its own position; its acceptance of a loss of freedom; its lack of ideological weapons against enemy propaganda; the way it surrenders the initiative; and its collapse at the final moment when the issue is reduced to a simple question of power.”

    I will admit that Haffner does pull out a phrase I have heard used in our own day: “Bruning had no real following. He was ‘tolerated.’ He was the lesser evil, the strict schoolmaster who accompanied the chastisement of his pupils with the words ‘This will hurt me more than you,’ rather than a sadistic torturer.”

    And this logic does strike me as oddly clear, almost like something I might have seen somewhere before without paying sufficient attention: “One supported Bruning because he seemed to be the only bulwark against Hitler. Knowing that he owed his own political life to the threat posed by Hitler, Bruning had to fight against him, but at all costs refrain from destroying him.”

    But Hitler was coming. Haffner saw him coming in the face of a policeman newly militarized: “This face seemed to consist entirely of teeth. The man had literally snarled at me, baring both rows of teeth, an unusual grimace for a human being. . . . I shuddered. I had seen the face of the SS.” Two days later the Reichstag burned. The next day everything changed. Civil liberties, the rule of law, the Constitution, civilization: it all oozed away. Soon such changes would be instituted without even bothering with Reichstag-fire-like excuses.

    People went along out of fear, or belief in the system, or a desire to change the Nazi Party from within, or from the value they placed in doing their work well, whatever that work might happen to be. People went along as the mythical frogs on whom we impose human behavior in the story of the boiling water. They did not understand. They did not want to understand. They did not want to consider that young people who understood might be right. They slowly began speaking the language of brutal stupidity: Einsatz (strike force), Garant (pledge), fanatisch (fanatical), Volksgenosse (racial comrade), Scholle (soil), artfremd (racially alien), Untermensch (subhuman), Heimat (Homeland).

    Now, history does not actually repeat itself. It’s far too complex and unpredictable. But a few facts leap out at us today:

    We are at war with the world without end for the sake of war itself.

    We have given power over from the Congress to the President.

    We have allowed the Supreme Court to give power over the President to financial and weapons interests.

    We have developed a central corporatist and militarist communications system.

    Our government operates in great secrecy, censoring and prosecuting whistleblowers.

    Our military conducts criminal trials that people strain themselves not to laugh at or condemn, thereby training themselves in a new kind of behavior.

    Our president claims the power to imprison, torture, or murder.

    Our society has labeled a class of people “illegals” and subjected them to a secondary and abusive status.

    Our police have been militarized, nationalized, and empowered to strip-search us or assault us with tasers.

    A soldier was just dismissed for speaking unacceptably of the President.

    Our government and large corporate partners spy on everything we say on a telephone or near a cell phone, and everything we do or type on the internet.

    Our government kills people all over the world with drones and is now putting drones in our own skies.

    And we’ve advanced from lying about wars to joking about the lies about the wars to not even bothering with the lies or any legal pretense whatsoever.

    Have we killed as many people as Hitler did? No, not in the same manner. But by sins of both commission (Iraqis bombed and shot, for example) and omission (children starving and suffering from preventable illness, for example) of course we have. And we have the potential to quite easily kill many more.

    I can still write this.

    I can still post this on marginal websites unseen by the masses.

    I can still say these things openly on the street.

    But reporters are being preemptively detained. Peace activists’ homes are being raided. And the number two excuse I get from people for their inaction (after futility, which is always number one) is fear (which is not always high on the list — it had to be put there).

    Do you use these phrases? Illegal Alien. Underclass. Stakeholders. Defense Department. Humanitarian Intervention. Homeland. Targeted Strike. Collateral Damage. Evildoers. Islamofascists. Terrorists. Muslim Extremists. Status of Forces Agreement. Iranian Threat.

    If you use those phrases, are they your own?

    If you hear those phrases, do you object to them? Do you protest them?

    Do you ever think that when they destroyed ACORN it didn’t affect you because you weren’t a poor person and you weren’t a community organizer? Is preventing union organization all right as long as you’re not in a union? Is it OK if they lock up Muslims for free speech but legalize political bribery in the name of free speech for corporations, as long as you’re not a Muslim and your food comes from a corporation? Is it OK to profile Latinos because your ancestors got here earlier? Are we safe packing the prisons with blacks because you’re white? Can whistleblowers be put away for life as long as the President says they were secretly helping evil foreigners who want us dead?

    Or does that worry you a little?

    David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio