Palestinian children from Nablus 



It is commonly said that childhood is the best period of one’s life. It is as least a beautiful time, magic and unique. It is the period of innocence, of incredible (often imaginary) adventures, and of the craziest dreams. Children are the most beautiful creatures on earth and I believe that each parent would do everything to protect their offspring. If children are a real source of joy and pride, they are nonetheless extremely fragile and vulnerable when facing the rough reality of our world.


While most of children of the Western world are spoilt (and hyper spoilt in some cases), we tend to forget about the unluckiest ones, those children and adolescents living in areas of armed conflict in other parts of the globe. For the period 1986-1996, it has been estimated that 2 million children have been killed, 4–5 million have been disabled and 12 million have been uprooted from their homes (United Nations Children’s Fund 1996). Since data have not been updated, on the grounds that an attempt to aggregate numbers would give inaccurate results (Machel Study 10-year strategic review: children and conflict in a changing world. United Nations Children’s Fund 2009). However, according to 2006 estimates, more than 1 billion children under the age of 18 were living in areas in conflict or emerging from war. Of these, more than 18 million children were refugees or internally displaced. In the Middle East, specifically Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, children are daily exposed to extreme violence. In Palestine, 23–49% children witnessed a friend being killed, 51–71% witnessed bombardment by airplanes and helicopters, 75% witnessed people killed by rockets, 37% saw family members arrested and humiliated. 4 to 7% had been shot. 99% had their homes shelled, 8% demolished [1].

In addition to this extreme violence exposure, Palestinian children are living in poor conditions that worsen from year to year [1, 2]. Conditions of poverty, owing to the border blockade, the destruction of infrastructure facilities during conflict and ongoing socio-economic decline, make the civil population feel increasingly insecure and under threat. A large proportion of the population lives in poverty within camps that seem to be ever more exposed to violence and military incursions, clashes between internal factions and indiscriminate demolitions of private dwellings; in addition, a chronic lack of infrastructure (Palestinian territories have very basic schools and hospitals) makes daily life extremely difficult and uncertain. Moreover, in the West Bank the Israeli Defence Force patrols the area that triggers altercations with civilians. The presence of Israeli settlements also restricts the movement of Palestinians and results in intermittent small-scale violence. Conditions are typically tougher still in Gaza, where the 2008 blockade has increased unemployment and caused a shortage of basic goods.

It is then not a surprise that most of Palestinian children are subject to traumatic conflict-related exposure that correlates positively with prevalence of mental, behavioural and emotional problems. A review of literature by Domitri L. [1] reveals that in Palestine, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevalence is estimated to be 23–70%. As many as 25–35% of children have at least mild depression, 40–100% present high anxiety levels, 14% conduct disorder, and 28% of Palestinian children feared leaving the house. I would not dare to say that children in Israel are luckier, as they are also subject to mental health disorders: prevalence of PTSD in children is estimated to be 5–8% in Israel. It is however important to understand the differences in situation between the countries. Israel is a relatively stable country and has been able for the most part to preserve its infrastructure. The government, health and educational services remained fully functional. Thus, in Israel people are able to maintain a routine and normal lifestyle in times of relative peace. On the other hand, Palestine is exposed to similar armed conflict but the higher intensity and the lower socio-economic status are correlated with higher rate of mental health symptoms and PTSD, posttraumatic reactions and aggressive behaviours as consequences of political and military violence.

If there is a positive side to this story, it is that despite the inhuman living conditions and extreme daily violence to which these children are exposed, they appear to display positive adjustment to traumatic events, relatively high levels of optimism, life satisfaction and resilience in the face of adversity”. These adaptive qualities have been examined in an interesting study by Veronese G. et al. [2], comparing subgroups of Palestinian Arab children living in different contexts: either in the West Bank, residents of urban districts (Tulkarem), refugee camps (Nur Shams) and rural villages (Assalam and Shufia); or residents of Israel (Nazareth). Surprisingly, the children in the refugee camp (despite highly negative socio-economic and sanitary conditions) are more optimistic – along with children from the rural villages (less exposed to military violence, but highly prone to ill health, malnutrition and the consequences of poverty in general) – than the children in the other subgroups and had the highest scores of all the subgroups for perceived subjective happiness. On the other hand, the Tulkarem children – who come from a city devastated by continuous military incursions, curfews, night-time house-to-house searches, imprisonment and targeted murders – rate themselves as less satisfied than the other groups of children. Interestingly, the functioning and well-being of Palestinian children are generally very high and do not differ from that of Israeli Arab children living in the city of Nazareth.

The hypothesis that is put forward by the authors to explain the results of the study is that “positive functioning in contexts of political and military violence will be promoted if, in the face of adversity, the child is able to remain optimistic and satisfied with itself and its cultural group. Thus, the more the context is able to attribute meaning to adversity and to actively involve children in the struggle to overcome it, the more individual well-being will be protected and the traumatic and posttraumatic effects of war reduced.” In other words, the social context enabled children to make sense of their suffering. This seems to support study by Elbedour et al. 1998, that showed adolescents who perceived the world as unjust and politically unresponsive, incomprehensible or unpredictable to be more likely subject to psychopathology.

Indeed, children in Nur Shams seem to identify very deeply with the symbolic meanings relating to their status as ‘offspring’ of the refugee camp: hope for the future of Palestine, redemption of their humiliated and exiled fathers, symbol of resistance against the ‘enemy Israeli’. They construct their identity as ‘resistant’ in the context of the camp itself, and the want, poverty and fear which they are obliged to face do not diminish their satisfaction and pride in taking active part in the life of the camp and in ‘combat’. Maintaining a degree of continuity in their personal lives, and building up a routine, allows youths to regain a sense of stability. In contrast, the Palestinian Arab children living in Israel seem to be frailer in terms of identity, perceiving themselves as half-way between Palestinian ‘internal refugees’ in a hostile country, and second-class Israeli citizens.

Children are shining jewels, models of courage in the face of adversity and of their oppressors. At times of intense conflict, they are especially extremely vulnerable. Ensuring children’s basic needs including love, food, shelter and health care is paramount in protecting them from mental health problems [2]. For stealing innocence of these children _ for that and for the long series of international laws that it violates [3] _ the criminal “State” of Israel and anyone supporting it should be heavily sanctioned.


I have a dream…
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve this.
―The Child Poets of Gaza

 
Notes

[1] Veronese G., Marco Castiglioni M., Tombolani M, Said M. ‘My happiness is the refugee camp, my future Palestine’: optimism, life satisfaction and perceived happiness in a group of Palestinian children. Scand J Caring Sci; 2011
[2] Dimitry L. A systematic review on the mental health of children and adolescents in areas of armed conflict in the Middle East. Child Care Health Dev. 2012 Mar;38(2):153-61.
[3] Relevant collection of international law and human rights documents which are all violated in one way or another by the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Sixteen Minutes to Palestine http://smpalestine.com/human-rights/documents/ (accessed 8/08/2012)

America’s 2012 Great Drought

August 9th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

Percentage of U.S. Land Covered in Drought As Bad As Dust Bowl … But Severe Drought – and Dust Storms – Not As Bad

The progress of the drought has been horrific:

12 week 2012 Drought: As Bad as During the 1930s Dust Bowl?The current drought is covering almost as much of the U.S. as during the 1930s dust bowl:

drought 2012 Drought: As Bad as During the 1930s Dust Bowl?
As the Weather Channel  pointed out last month,  the area covered by drought rivals some of the dust bowl years:

map specnews29 ltst 4namus enus 650x366 2012 Drought: As Bad as During the 1930s Dust Bowl?
As of June – the area covered by severe drought was still lower than during the Dust Bowl years, but still made the top 10 list:

map specnews30 ltst 4namus enus 650x366 2012 Drought: As Bad as During the 1930s Dust Bowl?But – despite the recent rains in some areas, which reduced by 1% the area covered by drought – the farm states remain parched, and the area covered by severe drought is still growing.

Much of the area hit during the Dust Bowl – and again today – is naturally prone to drought.  As the Weather Channel notes:

The area is known as semi-arid and is naturally prone to drought and high winds. In fact, early settlers referred to it as the “Great American Desert.”

Interestingly, HowStuffWorks notes:

About 90 percent of the 450 million hectares of arid land in North America suffers from moderate to severe desertification [source: Center for International Earth Science Information Network]

July was the warmest month recorded in the U.S. since records began in 1895.  And AP reports:

The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record, just beating out the July 2011-June 2012 time period.

Unfortunately, the one certainty is higher food prices.

Postscript:  Predictably, some say this proves global warming is a dire threat, and others say that it is dishonest to claim that short-term weather proves anything.

But we can all agree on the following:

The Gulf State Despots: Ten Facts about Saudi Arabia

August 9th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

Astounding hypocrisy, self-censorship, and complicity by the West regarding one of the most regressive regimes on Earth.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) comprises of 6 nations, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. In principle, Kuwait and Bahrain are considered “constitutional monarchs,” in practice, all 6 are despotic autocracies with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman overtly “absolute monarchs.” Devoid of even a feigned semblance of representative governance, these regimes brutally repress not only their own subjects, but play active roles in repressing the people of other nations, both on their borders and well beyond them.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are playing an active role in crushing dissent in neighboring Bahrain – an opaque uprising obscured by a lack of Western media coverage – apparently the result of Western press houses conveniently ignoring unrest targeting governments linked to Western interests, while intentionally subverting nations opposed to Western interests.

 
Image: A map of the GCC’s members, a collection of interconnected absolute monarchies guilty of serial crimes against humanity both at home and abroad, for decades. We are now expected to believe this criminal collaboration is promoting “democracy” in both Libya and now Syria by sending in legions of armed sectarian militants, when not even a feigned semblance of democracy exists within their own borders. 
….
Likewise, the collective efforts of the GCC’s regimes have torn North Africa’s nation of Libya apart, leaving it under the control of roving bands of NATO/GCC-armed and funded genocidal sectarian militants with the Tripoli government dominated by Western proxies. A similar operation is now underway in Syria, also fully funded, armed, and directed by the GCC and its Western minders.

The term “pro-democracy” has been disingenuously used to describe the militant legions that very “undemocratic” nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are underwriting. Clearly, even at face value, this is an untenable narrative. Under closer scrutiny, it unravels further, exposing a criminal, murderously violent, terroristic conspiracy of vast international proportions. 

Of the GCC, perhaps the two most prominent members are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with the House of Saud leading, and the Qataris playing a supporting role, mainly in terms of propaganda via state-owned Al Jazeera, by hosting “defectors,” and hosting the regional headquarters of Western corporate-financier funded think-tanks like the Brookings Institution’s Doha Centre.

Saudi Arabia: 10 Truths Self-Censored by the West’s Media Houses 


 1. Saudi Arabia is so utterly autocratic it is literally named after the ruling dynasty, the House of Saud. Thus it is Arabia of the House of Saud, or “Saudi Arabia.”

2. To this day, Saudi Arabia carries out barbaric executions against both criminals and political enemies, including victims accused of “sorcery and witchcraft” in the aptly named, “Chop-Chop Square” located in the capital of Riyadh where heads are literally chopped off by hooded swordsmen.

3. Women are banned from driving in Saudi Arabia, and most likely would also be banned from voting in national elections, if such a phenomenon even occurred – which it does not – as Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and its leaders are determined by heredity, not even the feigned pretense of elections. There are local elections, however, in which woman are not permitted to vote (perhaps in 2015?).

4. Saudi Arabia has been and to this day is the primary underwriter of the notorious international terror organization, Al Qaeda. Created along with Saudi Arabia’s long-time ally, the United States, money, weapons, and directives are laundered through the Saudis to maintain both plausible deniability for the Americans, and to maintain a degree of credibility for Al Qaeda’s sectarian extremist foot-soldiers across the Muslim World.

5. Saudi Arabia maintains an extensive “re-education” program internationally to pervert the tenants of Islam as a means of keeping Al Qaeda’s ranks full and fueling Wall Street and London’s engineered “Clash of Civilizations.”

6. Saudi Arabian corporate-financier interests (run by the royal family) are tied directly to Wall Street and London via conglomerations like the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council and representation upon the JP Morgan International Council (Khalid Al-Falih of Saudi Aramco, amongst the highest valued companies on Earth).

7. The alleged most notorious terrorist in modern history, Osama Bin Laden, was a creation of US-Saudi machinations, with the Bin Laden family to this day being a premier member of of both Saudi and Western elitist circles. The multi-billion dollar Saudi Binladin Group is an active member of the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council and plays a central role in deciding bilateral policy for the benefit of collective US-Saudi corporate-financier and corresponding geopolitical interests.

8. The autocratic House of Saud maintains Al Arabiya, along with a extensive list of unsavory investors from across the GCC and its sphere of influence, including Lebanon’s Hariri faction. It is a propaganda outlet masquerading as an objective journalistic organization, working in tandem with state-owned Al Jazeera in Qatar. Occasionally admitted to be “state media” by the West, “state media” in Saudi Arabia actually means “Saud family-owned propaganda.”

9. Saudi Arabia has played an active role in the violent destabilization of governments around the world, including most recently Libya and Syria. The use of sectarian-extremists indoctrinated at Saudi-funded faux-mosques and madrasas, armed and funded by Saudi cash, is the standard method of operation for these destabilizations.

10. Saudi Arabia’s brutally repressive internal security apparatus is a creation of US advisers and operators. Its military, both covert and conventional, is also armed through astronomically large weapons sales (including a recent sale considered the largest in US history) by its Wall Street and London allies. The atrocities committed by the despotic Saud regime are directly facilitated by US advisers, operators, and arms. Saudi Arabia also hosts the US military, a sizable force until it was spread out amongst the orbiting despotic regimes of Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

….

Of course, not everyone in Saudi Arabia is a barbaric, treasonous, meddling despot. This includes people all across Saudi Arabia’s population of 28 million and even throughout its government. Many of these people have attempted to protest or reform the current state of the “kingdom,” albeit very unsuccessfully.

This failure can be in part blamed on the vast, draconian police state created for the House of Saud despots by their Western sponsors as well as a Western media complicit in censoring crackdowns on protesters, most recently unfolding in the eastern city of Qatif, and a virtual media “black hole” in regards to covering anything, good or bad, regarding Saudi Arabia. 

The key to breaking this self-imposed Western media blockade is for the alternative media to conduct the research and cover developments themselves. This includes reaching out to activists and reformers within Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the other GCC autocracies and giving the people the platform denied to them by the corporate-funded Western media.


Image: The Fortune 500 has an array of faux-human rights organizations from North Africa to the Middle East, from Eastern Europe to East Asia – perhaps it is time for people to begin organizing themselves into independent institutions that truly defend human rights and freedom, while implementing an agenda of the majority. A possible “International Observatory for Gulf State Despotism” would seek to break the Western media’s blockade on information regarding the GCC, serving as a clearinghouse for information on abuses, repression, and meddling both at home and abroad.
….
If you are from the GCC region, please contact LD at [email protected] with any information, issues, corrections or concerns. There may be a possible “International Observatory for Gulf State Despotism” created specifically to give voices to the people under the rule of the GCC. Please exercise good judgement and caution – as these are real despots and have put many people to death for questioning their undisputed rule or opposing the progress of their medieval machinations.

Egypt Terrorist Attack: Another Mossad False Flag?

August 9th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

America and Israel use them strategically. Timing is key. Innocent victims suffer. Fingers point the wrong way. Cui bono matters most. 

Israel benefits greatly from Sunday’s incident. Sixteen Egyptian soldiers were killed in Sinai. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) blamed Mossad. More below on separating rhetoric from policy.

MB’s English language web site headlined “Muslim Brotherhood Statement on Unprovoked Aggression Against Rafah Border-Guards,” saying:

“Yesterday, a group of criminals and terrorists attacked an Egyptian security checkpoint in Rafah, killing nearly twenty of our brothers, our sons, and stole one car and one truck, and tried to crash their way into Israel.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya is Palestine’s legitimately elected prime minister. He also blames Israel for Sunday’s incident. It’s “responsible, one way or another, for this attack to embarrass Egypt’s leadership and create new problems at the border in order to ruin efforts to end” Gaza’s siege.

He added that “(n)o Palestinian wants to kill anybody in Egypt. Any attack against Egypt’s security is also against the security of Palestinians.”

An official Hamas statement said:

“Hamas condemns this ugly crime that killed a number of Egyptian soldiers and extends its deep condolences to the families of the victims and to the leadership and the people of Egypt.”

Israel blamed unidentified Gaza militants. A supportive Haaretz article headlined “Armed militants attack Egyptian army outpost, try to infiltrate Israel border,” saying:

“Armed attackers” stole an armored personnel carrier. They “killed around 15 Egyptian policemen.” Israeli air strikes destroyed their APC. IDF officials claimed it avoided a “large-scale terror attack.”

“A second personnel carrier exploded at the Kerem Shalom border terminal.” It connects Israel, Gaza and Egypt. The vehicle didn’t penetrate Israeli territory. No injuries were reported.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said:

“IDF forces, under the command of Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, and on the orders of Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and with the assistance of the Shin Bet, showed alertness, sharpness and purposefulness, and prevented a terror attack that could have caused many casualties.”

“The way the attackers operated once again raises the necessity of resolute Egyptian action to impose security and prevent terror in Sinai.”

Egypt said about 35 militants dressed as Bedouins opened fire on border guards. Some entered Israel. Clashes followed. No Israeli casualties were reported.

MB said a major border problem for Egypt was created. It “drives a wedge between” Egypt’s new government and its people. 

It’s more about disrupting Hamas/Cairo relations, manufacturing threats, closing Rafah’s border crossing, maintaining Gaza’s siege, destroying its tunnel economy, legitimizing IDF land, air and sea attacks, and continuing to suffocate its people ruthlessly.

MB said Israel “sought to abort the revolution ever since its launch.” Days earlier, it urged Israelis in Sinai to leave. Warning were issued about alleged Gaza-based terrorists planning abductions. Israeli tourists were called targets.

“(E)very time a warning like this is issued, a terrorist incident” follows, said MB.

“This crime also draws our attention to the fact that our forces in the Sinai lack the personnel and the equipment to protect the region or guard our borders, which makes it imperative to review the terms of our accords with Israel.”

Days earlier, Israel claimed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi sent a letter expressing his desire to help relaunch peace talks. Morsi denied Israel’s claim. He took office in June. 

He and Israel collaborate strategically. Hostile rhetoric masks more cooperation than friction. Junta leaders hold supreme power. General Mohammed Hussein Tantawi heads Egypt’s military. Close ties to Washington are maintained.

Morsi said his government “control(s) all parts of Sinai.” 

General Tantawi calls Hamas part of the problem. Saying so shows relations with Washington are close. He showed it by closing Rafah Crossing indefinitely. Two weeks earlier, Morsi extended operating hours and facilitated easier cross-border movement both ways.

Overall, he’s more figurehead than power broker. Tantawi decides what matters most. Each supports a common agenda. It’s linked to Washington’s imperial interests. 

MB members are involved in Syria. They’re counterrevolutionaries against Assad. Their hostile Israeli rhetoric masks more cooperative relations.

Sinai’s attack bears classic Mossad fingerprints. Militants are easily recruited. Al Qaeda is used strategically. They waged war on Gaddafi. They’re active in Syria. 

Perhaps they’re responsible for Sunday’s attack. Similar ones could happen any time. Timing is always key. Cui bono matters most. Sunday’s attack benefits Israel and Washington. Smart money blames them for planning it.

A Final Comment

On August 8, for the first time since 1973′s Yom Kippur war, Egypt launched air strikes in Sinai. The state Al-Ahram daily said 33 suspected militants were killed.

Officially, Egypt claims Gaza and Sinai-based “rebel” groups killed 16 Egyptian border guards. Egyptian General Intelligence Service head Murad Muwafi said GIS had information about a possible attack.

Unnamed Cairo security sources said:

“There are states behind what the terrorists are doing in Sinai. It is far beyond Sinai groups’ level.”

Without saying so, fingers pointed at Israel. How this incident affects relations remains to be seen.

On the same day, Egypt’s MENA state news agency said:

“Unknown armed men opened fire on a checkpoint on the main road between Al-Arish and Rafah.”

MENA said it was the 29th incident since Mubarak’s ouster. In response to Sunday’s attack, Egypt began closing tunnels Gazans use for food, fuel, and other vital supplies. Siege conditions just got harder.

Mossad-connected DEBKAfile(DF) suggested Iran’s involvement in Sunday’s incident. 

Doing so points fingers the wrong way. It diverts attention from Mossad.

DF claims Tehran “put Gaza Strip Islamists and/or Palestinian proxies together with a Sinai al Qaeda cell for a coordinated attack on Egyptian and Israeli military targets to avenge the presence of al Qaeda” in Syria.

The accusation is ludicrous on its face. Iran has no ties to Al Qaeda. Both sides are enemies, not allies. Washington uses Al Qaeda to advance its imperium. Tehran strongly opposes it. So do other nations seeking peace.


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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

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

On August 2, Pete Pinlac of the MAKABAYAN labour and political center in the Philippines spoke at a public forum hosted by the Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC). It was an extremely informative and inspiring event that reflected years of crucially important solidarity outreach by the Labour Council that began in 2008.

As explained at the forum by former VDLC President Bill Saunders, in 2008, the labour group organized a delegation of union activists to visit the Philippines and learn about its militant and embattled trade union movement. The delegation returned inspired by all that it learned. It resolved to do something in support of the workers and activists they met. The result has been a rich and rewarding relationship.

Rally for the union drive at Hanjin Shipyard.

Pinlac is a leader of the Movement for National Democracy (KPD) and its trade union wing, MAKABAYAN. He is on a speaking tour to Vancouver and Toronto, Canada hosted by the trade union movement and the progressive Filipino community.

Economic Crisis Spreads

His talk in Vancouver began with a summary of the current political and economic situation in the Philippines. Workers and peasants in that country are facing unprecedented difficulties and hardships. The world economic crisis has hit the country hard. As in so many other economically deprived countries, workers and peasants are the victims of capitalist investors who shift their capital from one country to another, looking for the cheapest labour costs, cheapest natural resources and friendliest legal and labour-relations regimes.

Unions in the Philippines are meeting this challenge with a strong spirit of struggle and national resistance. Pinlac described the situation of factory workers and service workers and the diverse trade union movement that is leading a struggle for better conditions amidst difficult challenges.

Of the approximately 41 million workers, peasants and informal workers engaged in economic activity in the country, only 3 million are organized in unions or associations. The minimum wage is a harsh $11.50 (U.S.) per day.

Sub-Contracting

In the telecommunications industry, where companies such as Canada’s Telus operate call center activity and where manufacturers locate assembly work, bosses face pressure of possible unionization and so the daily wage is higher than the minimum, around $15-$16 per day. But only 6,550 of the 800,000 workers in the industry are unionized. Here, as in other industries, the use of ‘sub-contracting’ of labour hinders union organizing. The large, multinational corporations avoid their responsibilities as employers by denying that they are the ones actually hiring and paying workers.

Sub-contracting is a big issue at the Hanjin Shipyard on the northern tip of Subic Bay. The shipyard is the fourth or fifth largest in the world and employs 21,000 workers. The company tries to duck its responsibilities to its workers by conducting its hiring through a sham ‘third party.’ MAKABAYAN and other unions are engaged in a tough battle to organize the workers into a union. An application is presently before the labour relations agency of the federal government.

This year, a very encouraging step was taken by unions. Nagkaisa is an initiative that brings seven of the eight existing union centrals (not including the KMU) into one, coordinating body. Some 40 workers organizations are affiliated. The key issues for which Nagkaisa is fighting are higher wages, job security and against labour contracting. The formation of the group was celebrated at a large rally march in Manila on May Day.

Lessons Learned

Pinlac reported that one of the lessons that the union movement in the Philippines has drawn from recent experience is the need to organize unions on an industry-wide basis. To that end, MAKABAYAN formed the Communication Workers of the Philippines to focus on that industry. It has 6,850 members.

Another of the issues that MAKABAYAN and the rest of the movement takes seriously is a fight to protect and enhance the natural environment. It has formed People Working for Environmental Development and Education (PWEDE), which conducts education and advocacy activity, including among young people.

PWEDE was part of a campaign that succeeded in stopping the proposed opening of the Bataan nuclear power plant, located near Manila. The Bataan plant was completed in 1984 but never became operational due to the international political fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Pressure to open it for operation was on the rise in recent years, but the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has put a definitive end to that.

PWEDE is part of the movement in the Philippines now seeking to stop the expansion of coal-fired electricity plants.

Pinlac was asked during the discussion period about the movements in the Philippines that have conducted armed struggle against the government or continue to do so. These include the Islamic-inspired political movement fighting for national self-determination in the Mindanao region (south) of the country and rural guerrilla units of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

He replied, “My philosophy is that if armed struggle is needed to protect people from the violence of the government, this must come from the people themselves.” He said that the country has a bad history of armed groups with too little relationship to the population they claim to be defending. The government has exploited this with extreme violence against peasant and other social movements.

Pinlac provided several examples of groups whose members have been murdered by the Philippine army or by right-wing vigilantes for the simple act of providing political guidance or mentoring to peasant movements. The Philippines is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for union organizers.

The Philippine left has been through a period of great reflection and recomposition over the past two decades. Some of that history is captured in a 2010 book, First Quarter Storm by Sonny Melencio, a former leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines and now a leader of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Masses), founded in 2009.

“We come from the fallout of the mainstream left,” Pinlac told the forum in Vancouver. Workers in Canada have much to learn from this rich history.

The solidarity program of the Vancouver and District Labour Council with MAKABAYAN and its affiliates and allies is continuing. It provides crucial funding for the modest living expenses of union organizers. VDLC President Joey Hartman, who chaired the August 2 forum, encouraged union activists at the meeting to get their unions involved in supporting that program.

Pinlac ended the meeting by citing the famous call to action of Cuban revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, “Hasta la victoria siempre (On to our final victory)!” •

Roger Annis is a former aerospace worker living in Vancouver BC. He can be reached at rogerannis(at)hotmail.com.

Drone Strikes Very Much a Human Rights Issue

August 9th, 2012 by Martin Khor

The use of drones by one state to kill people in other countries is fast emerging as an international human rights issue of serious public concern. This was evident in the recent session (June 18-July 6, 2012) of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, both in the official meetings and in NGO seminars.

The use of drones, or pilotless aircraft operated by remote control, by the government in one country to strike at persons and other targets in other countries, has been increasingly used by the United States, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Instead of following clear legal standards, the practice of drone attacks has become a vaguely defined and unaccountable “license to kill”, according to a 2010 report of a UN human rights special rapporteur.

According to an article in The Guardian, the American Civil Liberties Union estimates that as many as 4,000 people have been killed in U.S. drone strikes since 2002. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians. The numbers killed have escalated significantly since Obama became president.

Recent criticisms and concerns raised by officials, experts and governments about the use of drones include the high numbers of deaths and casualties of innocent civilians; possible violation of sovereignty and international human rights laws; lack of information, transparency and accountability; their being counter-productive; and the indirect encouragement to other countries to similarly use drone attacks.

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in her overall report to the Human Rights Council on June 18, said that during her recent visit to Pakistan she expressed serious concern over the continuing use of armed drones for targeted attacks, in particular because it is unclear that all persons targeted are combatants or directly participating in hostilities.

She added that the “UN Secretary-General has expressed concern about the lack of transparency on the circumstances in which drones are used, noting that these attacks raise questions about compliance with distinction and proportionality.”

She reminded States of their international obligation to take all necessary precautions to ensure that attacks comply with international law and urged them to conduct investigations that are transparent, credible and independent, and provide victims with effective remedies.

Violation of international law

On June 26, Pakistan’s Ambassador Zamir Akram told the Council that his country was directly affected by the indiscriminate use of drones, and at least a thousand civilians, including women and children, have been killed in drone attacks.

“The government of Pakistan has maintained consistently that drone attacks are not only counter-productive but a violation of international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said Akram, adding that Pakistan’s Parliament has called for an immediate end to these attacks.

“Regrettably this call has not been heeded. The drone attacks continue in violation of the UN Charter, international human rights and international humanitarian law. The international human rights machinery must clearly reject attempts to justify these actions.”

At the Council on June 19, Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, called for more transparency and accountability from the United States.

He urged that a framework be developed and adhered to, and pressed for accurate records of civilian deaths. “I think we’re in for very dangerous precedents that can be used by countries on all sides,” he said.

At an event organised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Heynes said the U.S. drone attacks would encourage other states to flout human rights standards and suggested that some drone strikes may even be war crimes, according to a report in the London-based Guardian.

Heynes said some states “find targeted killings immensely attractive. Others may do so in future. . . . Current targeting practices weaken the rule of law.” If reports are true that there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping the injured after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime.

Criticisms are also coming from U.S. groups and a former President. “The U.S. has cobbled together its own legal framework for targeted killing, with standards that are far less stringent than the law allows,” Hina Shamsi, a director of the ACLU told the council on June 20.

Shamsi also took issue with the lack of transparency of military programs based on what she called “a secret legal criteria, entirely secret evidence, and a secret process”.

“The international community’s concern about the U.S. targeted killing program is continuing to grow because of the unlawfully broad authority our government asserts to kill ‘suspected terrorists’ far from any battlefield, without meaningful transparency or accountability,” Shamsi said.

The lack of a legal framework allows for drone strikes to be implemented at will, in non-conflict zones and on the basis of loosely defined terrorist threats, without permission from the host nation.

Counterproductive

“In essence, drones cancel out national sovereignty,” Tom Engelhardt, co-author of ‘Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050′, told IPS news agency. “The rules of the game are one country’s sovereignty trumps that of another.”

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, writing in the New York Times (June 24, 2012), noted that the use of U.S. drone attacks “continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.

“These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organisations, aroused civilian populations against us. . . . As concerned citizens we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms.”

Drones were originally developed to gather intelligence. More than 40 countries have this technology and some have or are seeking drones that can shoot laser-guided missiles, according to a pioneering 2010 report by the then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Philip Alston.

They enable targeted killings with no risk to the personnel of the state carrying them out and can be operated remotely from the home state.

Calling drone attacks as a “vaguely defined license to kill”, he criticised states that use drones for failing to specify the legal justification for their policies, to disclose safeguards on place to ensure the targeted killings are in fact legal and accurate, or to provide accountability mechanisms for violations.

More troublingly, they have refused to disclose who has been killed, for what reason and with what collateral consequences.

“The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum.”

The report traced the use of drones by some states for targeted killings. They have been used by Israel since the 1990s for the killing of Palestinians it considers to be dangerous.

In recent years, the main user of drones for targeted killing has been the United States. Since 2002, it used drones in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

The report examined whether and in what conditions the use of drones for targeted killings is legal or not under international humanitarian and human rights laws, and the law of inter-state law in relation to sovereignty concerns.

It urged disclosure by states on the use of drones, the rules of international law that they consider provide a basis for their actions, the basis for their decision, the procedural safeguards they use to ensure compliance with international law, and measures taken after any killings to ensure its analysis was accurate and if not then the remedial measures taken. States should make public the civilians killed in targeted killing operations and measures to prevent such casualties.

This 2010 report lay out the framework for analysing the human rights implications of drone attacks. Since then, however, drone attacks have not only continued but increased.

Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre. This article first appeared in the South Bulletin 65 and is being re-published by arrangement with the South Centre.  

“Orwellian Ramifications” Begin to Unfold in Syria

August 9th, 2012 by Dr. Ismail Salami

There is speculation that the Western supported insurgents in Syria may have seized hold of chemical weapons.

 

Apart from the unthinkable havoc the rebels can wreak in Syria and in the region with WMDs in their possession, the rhetorical question which remains is how these weapons of mass destruction have fallen into the hands of the insurgents who are chiefly composed of Wahhabi al-Qaeda mercenaries of different nationalities including Afghans, Iraqis, Turkish, Yemenis, Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Saudis.

The situation in Syria is assuming Orwellian ramifications and the possibility to clearly understand or dissect the situation in the country is not an easy task.

In addition to the active role the Saudi-backed Wahhabis, CIA and some western intelligence organizations are playing in Syria, there is one entity, namely Israel which is stealthily espying every single development in Syria. 

For the first time, an Israeli spy official clearly stated that Israel supports regime change in Syria and that it really demands an end to the government of President Bashar Assad.

“I hope it will happen, even though I don’t know when or how,” Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor said on Tuesday.

The top spy chief implicated why Assad should go and how it would damage the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“I am not going to try to calculate when Assad’s end will come, but when it happens, Iran’s biggest ally will be gone.”

Taking it for granted that Assad is doomed to go, he said, “I hope the new Syria will understand that joining Iran is a mistake that brings isolation from the Western world.”  

Such a feeble perception of the Syrian situation is indicative of one who is either too optimistic or one who is well aware of what is going on behind the scene and that which is not visible to the ordinary people with no intelligence savvy.  

Furthermore, Dan Meridor does not seem to understand that the situation in Israel is spiraling out of control with people protesting against social injustice almost on a daily basis. Since last month, four Israelis have set themselves ablaze from an extremity of despair.

On August 5, John McCain and Lindsey O. Graham, both Republicans, who represent Arizona and South Carolina in the Senate, respectively and Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent, who represents Connecticut in the Senate advised the US government to directly and openly provide assistance, including weapons, intelligence and training, to the insurgents in Syria as they claim President’s Assad’s ‘brutality’ is no longer to be tolerated.

“It is not too late for the United States to shift course. First, we can and should directly and openly provide robust assistance to the armed opposition, including weapons, intelligence and training. Whatever the risks of our doing so, they are far outweighed by the risks of continuing to sit on our hands, hoping for the best.”

Another part of this sabotage axis against Syria is Turkey which plays a very treacherous role in snowballing the Syrian crisis. Turkey has supplied the rebels with dozens of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).

According to NBC, the missile supplies might have been provided by Turkey, Saudi Kingdom and Qatar monarchy, the three countries which have made strenuous and costly efforts to overthrow the government of Bashar Assad.

In a press conference at the United Nations in New York City, a Syrian UN representative announced that Turkey shipped US-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to rebels via Turkey, saying that Turkey was pleased with Kofi Annan’s resignation because Ankara and Washington were initially opposed to his six point peace plan.

In fact, Turkey should be grateful to Syria what it has done for it in the past. It is acknowledged by many pundits that it was Bashar’s father Hafiz Assad who made peace between Turkey and the Kurds living on both sides of the country, thereby vaccinating Turkey for years against any attacks on the part of the Kurds.

The antagonistic policies of Turkey have left President Bashar Assad with no choice but to grant autonomy to the Kurds in Syria who can foment dilemma for the Ankara government and get Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan into hot water.

The ongoing Kurdish insurgency has reportedly claimed the lives of at least 48000 over the past two decades. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is sharply aware of what a deep impact this decision can exercise on the security of Turkey.

He claimed the two groups had built a “structure in northern Syria” that for Turkey means “a structure of terror.”

Turkey is making a tactical mistake by supporting terrorism in Syria and supplying them with weapons, military training and human resources. Turkey will certainly fall into the pitfall it has dug for Syria and the insecurity it envisages for Syria will ultimately recoil against the government itself.

As for Washington and NATO, they are making a selfsame mistake.

The two are fondling terrorism and extremism by throwing support behind the insurgents in Syria. They know that a popular uprising in the true sense of the word is not clearly discernible in Syria and that what has been taking place in Syria is a string of militancy and terrorist operations funded by the Saudis and the Qataris and some western countries who are waiting to reap the benefits of their atrocities in case Bashar Assad’s government collapses. Such a day, if it comes, will open a new chapter of horror in the Middle East with no end in sight.

The unfurling reality is that the hostile states and powers antagonizing Bashar Assad are gradually getting caught up in the labyrinthine Orwellian pitfall of their own folly and that they are consciously or unconsciously working in the best interests of the Zionist regime. 

As the Syrian crisis escalates, Turkey, Syria and Poland are all under NATO’s constraint these days. Was a bilateral arrangement of Poland with the US a mistake? Should Poland develop its own missiles interception system integrated into or with NATO?

Interview with Mr. Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO website .

Can you give our listeners an update on what’s going on with NATO?

NATO’s been keeping a very low profile for several weeks. Their website, for example, has not updated for at least three weeks, perhaps a month. I’m not sure what to attribute that to. It may be a conscious decision to keep a low profile as the Syrian crisis escalates. So that should they become involved – a likely scenario, of course, is in alleged defense of Turkey – if border skirmishes develop that they will not have tipped their hand or signaled what they want to do…In terms of a new commander at NATO’s Norfolk command, which is called Allied Command Transformation, it was the first major NATO headquarters – and the only one to date – in the United States…

You talked about defending Turkey. Now Turkey recently made some statements regarding the fact that they’re against a military intervention in Syria.

I believe Turkish officials said that to Russian officials. And I would imagine that’s what Ankara thinks Moscow wants to hear. We should recall that last week Turkey moved 25 tanks as well as missile batteries and armored personnel carriers along with troops to within two kilometers of the Syrian border, allegedly engaging in a military exercise aimed at the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, but in fact claiming that a political party on the other side of the border, in Syria, is linked with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and intimating if not stating quite openly that Turkey reserves the right to intervene militarily against supporters of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, inside Syria.

So a scenario could come into existence whereby Turkey stages a provocation. You probably saw today’s news, John, that Turkey is claiming they’ve killed something like 117 Kurdistan Workers Party fighters in southeastern Turkey near the Iraqi border. So things are heating up there. And if it’s the intent, not only of Turkey, but if it’s the intent of the West as a whole to stage a direct military intervention into Syria, then the most likely pretext for doing so would be a clash between Turkish and Syrian forces near the border, on either side of the border, and then Turkey once again returning to NATO and asking for assistance from its fellow NATO members.

Do you have any information on what’s going on in Aleppo? Several high officials, I believe, were captured when the Syrian Army took Aleppo back under its control.

An English-language Iranian website mentioned that a Turkish general had been captured by Syrian forces in Aleppo. And I personally spoke with a Syrian émigré whose brother is in pretty influential circles in Damascus and he mentioned that six or seven foreign officers were captured in Aleppo within the last 24-48 hours. And he mentioned them being not only Turkish, but Arabic-speaking, presumably Saudi, Qatari or other Persian Gulf Arab States. This shouldn’t surprise us that, trying to throw together an organized insurgency, funded certainly and based abroad, would also entail having probably special operations officers, maybe of fairly high rank, from Turkey and from Arab Gulf states involved in the fighting in Aleppo and earlier in Damascus.

You’re saying six or seven generals were captured in Aleppo.

The term that was used in my conversation was generals, but I think we’re probably safe in assuming they were officers of some ranking, perhaps not generals.

They were commanding officers, but were they from different countries?

That’s correct.

Have you heard anything about training camps that have been set up on borders of Syria?

That’s an established fact. That Saudi Arabia supplied the funding for a training camp for fighters. Roughly, I believe, 40 kilometers from the Syrian border, if I’m not mistaken, inside Turkey. But this has been going on for quite a while. As long ago as, say, last November or October as I recollect even the Daily Telegraph in Britain was quoting an official of so-called Free Syrian Army stating there were 15,000 fighters – he didn’t specify their nationality, incidentally – but 15,000 fighters inside Turkey receiving material support and training. That’s probably a hyperbolical figure. He was probably exaggerating for propaganda purposes. But it’s an indication this has been going on for some time. The Saudis funding the creation of a special training camp inside Turkey that close to the Syrian border is an escalation of the conflict.

Can you tell us about the problems that NATO has had supplying the troops in Afghanistan?

For five days now what was to be the resumption of NATO supplies from Pakistan into Afghanistan has been held up, supposedly because of security concerns, as I understand it, but as recently as yesterday two NATO vehicles were torched in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. So what we’re seeing, in fact, is a resumption of attempted supplying of NATO forces in Afghanistan and we’re seeing exactly the same situation that obtained at the time they were occurring before the attack on the Pakistani border outpost in Salala last November that killed 25 Pakistani troops. What we’re seeing is that NATO supply vehicles are being attacked and set afire.

What can you say about Polish President’s announcement a couple of days ago? He said that it had been a mistake to agree with NATO on building ABM infrastructure in Poland.

That is a fascinating question. I’ve been trying to make sense of that since the story broke. I’m not quite sure if he was alluding to the earlier George W. Bush administration plan to put Ground-based Midcourse, longer-range, interceptor missiles or if it’s an allusion to what’s called the European Phased Adaptive Approach of the Obama administration, which is planning to put 24 Standard Missile-3, advanced Standard Missile-3, interceptors in Poland by 2018. It’s unclear whether he’s talking about the Bush program that’s already been superseded or the Obama program that’s still in the works. But in any event, the paraphrase of his comments that I’ve read suggested that a bilateral arrangement with the United States was a mistake and that Poland should develop its own missile interception system and integrate it into or with NATO.

He was repeatedly asked who they would be defending themselves against. He refused to answer the question.

Of course he refused to answer because the answer is not one that the United States wants him to provide. That country is Russia. The argument that the original Ground-based Midcourse interceptors were meant to hit Iranian missiles…one has to in one’s imagination conjure up a map of the world and try to imagine, first of all, how Iran would have the capability of launching basically intercontinental ballistic missiles over Poland, presumably over the Arctic Circle to hit the United States. That’s an impossibility, fallacious from the very beginning.

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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has signalled a return to stimulus measures because of sharply decelerating growth and potential social unrest. A CCP Politburo meeting last week called for stable growth to be the top priority.

“The ongoing pace of economic growth is within expectations, but the external environment remains grim and poses difficulties and challenges,” the official Xinhua news agency reported the Politburo discussions as stating.

The Politburo reiterated the need for “prudent” monetary and “proactive” fiscal policies. In other words, Beijing will try to stem a six-quarter slowdown in the world’s second largest economy by boosting bank credit and implementing further stimulus measures.

Underscoring the worsening economic situation, Premier Wen Jiabao told a meeting of business leaders and academics in late July: “We must see with a clear mind that there are difficulties and risks in the current economic situation that can’t be underestimated.”

President Hu Jintao warned that rising unemployment could trigger social unrest. He said China would try to diversify export markets and “expand and stabilise” employment.

The country’s economic growth for the second quarter fell to an annualised 7.6 percent, the slowest rate in three years. However, this official figure is optimistic and the actual situation could be far worse (See: “Economic downturn in China worse than official data”).

The deepening debt crisis in Europe and its broader international impact has reduced demand for China’s exports, which remain the economy’s main driving force. According to China Custom, in the first half of the year, exports to the European Union were $163.06 billion—a decline by 0.8 percent from the corresponding period last year. Exports to Germany declined for four consecutive months, France for three consecutive months and Italy for 10 months.

These figures translated into weakening industrial output. On August 1, the official purchasing managers index (PMI), released by the National Statistics Bureau, dropped to 50.1, its lowest level in eight months. It was just above the 50 mark, which indicates expansion.

Two days later came the publication of the official non-manufacturing index, based on a survey of about 1,200 companies in 27 industries, including telecommunications, transportation and construction. It slipped from 56.7 to 55.6 in July. The service sector makes up 43 percent of China’s economy, compared to 90 percent in the US. The contracting trend indicated that Beijing’s hopes of expanding the domestic market to make up for a slowing manufacturing sector is yielding few results.

The Chinese central bank has cut interest rates twice since June and reduced the reserve requirements for banks three times since November in a bid to encourage lending. The state planning commission has sped up approval of investment projects and boosted railway spending to counter the decelerating growth.

The China Security Journal reported last week that local bank branches were instructed to provide credit support to provincial level government-owned entities in 100 better-off counties, to build roads, railways, natural gas and clean energy projects. Some cities are also increasing stimulus efforts, with Changsha last month announcing an 829 billion yuan ($US130 billion) investment plan.

Relaxing lending to local governments is part of Beijing’s emphasis on “stable growth.” However, cheap credit will worsen the debt crisis facing local governments that are still struggling with huge debts resulting from the last stimulus package. Local government debt was estimated at 10.7 trillion yuan or $1.7 trillion in 2010, but analysts say this is an underestimation.

In a report released on August 3, London-based Capital Economics warned that new local government stimulus measures, from Nanjing and Jiangsu to Changsha and Hunan, could already total 4 trillion yuan, including tax cuts, consumption subsidies and infrastructure investment. The report warned that the 2008-09 stimulus program had “aggravated domestic imbalances in the economy,” leaving investment’s share of gross domestic product close to 50 percent—“one of the highest levels ever recorded for a major economy during peacetime.”

Far from resolving the “imbalance,” the push to stimulate growth with further investment will exacerbate the contradiction. Expanding domestic consumption would involve a significant increase in wages and living standards, which is unacceptable to the corporate elite.

The labour market contracted noticeably in the second quarter, particularly in the more economically developed eastern provinces. A Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security survey found that the number of job applicants in China’s eastern region increased by 132,000 in the second quarter, compared with the first quarter, while job vacancies increased by just 5,000.

While Chinese authorities still insist there is an “over-supply” of jobs, not workers, the survey revealed the opposite. Workers in the coastal provinces continue to lose their jobs as the manufacturing sector is hit by falling export orders.

In Zhejiang province, small and medium sized factories are being forced to scale back their workforces. In the first half of the year, the province’s exports increased by just 5.2 percent—compared to 22.3 percent in the corresponding period last year. In Wenzhou alone, 140 firms have shut and one fifth of industrial enterprises with annual revenues near $3 million yuan have experienced losses.

Zhejiang Wenzhou Apparel Association vice chairman Cai Huantian told the China Security Journal in late July that the business environment was worse than during the 2008 financial crisis. “The number of orders has fallen by around 30 percent from the same period last year, and the average volume of a single order has declined by 70 percent,” he said.

Fighting continued yesterday in the escalating US proxy war in Syria, as Western-backed militias hostile to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fought Syrian Army forces in the northern city of Aleppo, near the Turkish border.

Western journalists reporting with the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) said that Syrian Army forces in Aleppo were bombarding the main city districts held by the “rebel” forces every 5 minutes. Syrian tank units southwest of Aleppo were reported to be shelling the Sunni-majority Salaheddin neighborhood and the nearby Seif al-Dawla district. There were also reports of clashes in the Hanano, Hamdaniyeh, and Al Bab neighborhoods in northeastern Aleppo.

Reporting from Aleppo, CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman said that people were going about their daily business in much of the rest of the city, however.

Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital and the largest city in northern Syria, is emerging as a critical battleground in the US-led war to overthrow Assad. Washington and its allies—the Saudi and Qatari monarchies, the Turkish regime and the European NATO powers—are flooding the area with weapons and coordinating “rebel” operations from a nerve center in nearby Adana, Turkey, the site of Washington’s Incirlik air base. It has been widely reported, including in the Western media, that the “rebels” are being supported by Al Qaeda.

The Tehran Times wrote that the Syrian army had captured over 200 anti-Assad fighters, including some 70 foreign fighters.

Syrian officials claimed that Syrian Special Forces in Aleppo on Sunday captured Turkish and Saudi officers leading anti-Assad militias in Aleppo. They identified the Turkish officers as Sultan Oldu and Taher Amnitiu and the Saudi officials as Abdel Wahed al-Thani, Abdel Aziz al-Matiri, Ahmad al-Hadi, Moussa al-Zahrani, and Firas al-Zahrani. The Turkish government denied the report.

These reports underscore the right-wing character of the US proxy war in Syria. The anti-Assad forces, largely Sunni Islamists from Syria or flown in through Turkey from other Middle Eastern countries, are relying on operational guidance, arms, money and diplomatic pressure from the imperialist powers to overcome their lack of mass support.

Writing from Aleppo, Tomas Avenarius of Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung said last Friday: “I am skeptical when I hear claims the rebels control half the city… The trick of the rebels is to move around the city and then advance the claim that they have liberated large areas. But that does not mean that the Army of the regime will not return.”

He continued: “The FSA has, compared to the regime, far fewer fighters… It is not that all of Aleppo is burning. Certain neighborhoods are seeing brutal fighting and are constantly bombarded. There are also certain neighborhoods that are still calm, where one still sees people in normal areas.”

Avenarius noted the sectarian basis of the fighting and the “rebel” forces’ ability to control districts in Aleppo: “There were rumors that the rebels also wanted to assault a Christian neighborhood, not the Christians but loyalist soldiers that are stationed there. If this happened, I believe there would be much harder fighting. Many Christians feel threatened and would not automatically support the rebels. In the Sunni neighborhoods, people do not actively support the rebels, but many people sympathize with them. In the Christian neighborhoods it would be a different story.”

The civil war stoked by the US and its allies in Syria is destabilizing the entire Middle East, threatening a regional war fought along sectarian lines.

Yesterday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi arrived in Ankara to negotiate the release of 48 Iranians captured last week near Damascus by Sunni “rebel” forces. Iran claims they were a group of Shia pilgrims, including women and children, visiting a Shia holy site. But the anti-Assad forces claim they were Iranian soldiers backing Assad, an Iranian ally and follower of the Alawite faith, a branch of Shia Islam. There were unconfirmed reports that three of the Iranian hostages were killed yesterday.

While Turkey is threatening to invade Syria to crush Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, Iran has already warned that such an attack would activate Syria’s alliance with Iran—implicitly threatening a war between Iran and Turkey, a NATO member country.

Turkey has also declared seven zones of southeastern Turkey’s Hakkari province under military rule after attacks there were blamed on Kurdish fighters. Turkish citizens are not allowed to enter the area for two months, until October 6. Turkish strikes have already caused over 115 deaths among Kurdish fighters in the region. (See: Turkey attacks Kurds, threatens military action against Syria).

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also sent a formal diplomatic note to Washington saying that “due to its open support for Syrian terrorist groups” the US was responsible for the Iranian captives’ safety.

Commenting on the reports that three Iranian hostages had been killed, Iranian Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani said that if Iranian hostages were harmed “the Iranian nation will not ignore these crimes.” He said the hostages’ captors would receive a response from Iran “in due time.”

There were also protests in Lebanon demanding the release of eleven Lebanese hostages held by anti-Assad groups in Syria. The hostages’ families blocked the Beirut airport highway Monday evening to pressure the government to secure their release. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said he had contacted Turkish and Qatari authorities to secure the hostages’ release.

It is ever more obvious that the US intervention in Syria, launched under the cynical guise of defending Syrian civilians against the Army, is a brutal imperialist operation threatening to plunge the entire region into war and civil war. An indication of the plans being discussed in imperialist circles is provided by an article in Lebanon’s Daily Star by well-known Middle East journalist and commentator Dilip Hiro.

The article, entitled “Partition is a Viable Option for Syria,” notes that Syria’s “Alawites know that if the Assad regime collapses, they could be butchered by the Sunni victors.” It adds, “Many see no alternative to fighting for survival.”

As a result, Hiro writes, the “multifarious coalition of anti-Assad groups, united only by their hatred of the Alawite-dominated regime, could not cope with the aftermath of the collapse of the centralized Baathist state.”

Though he acknowledges that “The partition of British India was accompanied by roughly 1.5 million deaths and transfer of some 12 million people across the newly-demarcated international border,” Hiro nonetheless presents such a fate as a positive good for Syria. “The 1947 partitioning of British India into India and Pakistan,” he writes, “eased communal violence dramatically. And so Syria, too, could be on the way to a solution by partition… The end of such a conflict can be achieved by carving out an Alawite state wedged between Lebanon and Turkey. This could involve population exchange amid violence as happened in British India in 1947.”

The ferries that ply the river west of Sydney Harbour bear the names of Australia’s world champion sportswomen. They include the Olympic swimming gold-medalists Dawn Fraser and Shane Gould, and runners Betty Cuthbert and Majorie Jackson. As you board, there is a photograph of the athlete in her prime, and a record of her achievements. This is vintage Australia. Often shy and never rich, sporting heroes were nourished by a society that, long before most other countries, won victories for ordinary people: the first 35-hour working week, child benefits, pensions, secret ballots and, with New Zealand, the vote for women. By the 1960s, Australians had the most equitable spread of personal income in the world. In modern-day corporate Australia, this is long forgotten. “We are the chosen ones,” sang a choir promoting the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

One of the ferries is named after Evonne Goolagong, the tennis star who won Wimbledon in 1971 and 1980. She is Aboriginal, like Cathy Freeman, who won a gold medal in the 400 metres at Sydney. For all their talent, both belong to a carefully constructed façade, behind which Australia’s secret indigenous history is suppressed and denied.

The late Charlie Perkins, an Aboriginal leader who played first-division football in England, told me, “There’s an ambivalence that consumes many of us. I was so pleased to be back home, seeing that wonderful light, hearing the birds, seeing my mates, but I felt the racism more than ever. For one thing, no white person ever invited me home for a meal, for anything. Blacks weren’t even allowed in the grandstands, not even in the blacks-only sections.” In the 1960s, Charlie led “freedom rides” into the north-west of New South Wales, where “nigger hunts” were still not uncommon. Abused and spat at, he stood at the turnstiles of local swimming pools and sports fields and demanded that a race bar be lifted. “In South Africa, at least you knew where you stood,” he said. “In Australia, you can have a friend and an enemy all in one person, especially if you’re like me, of mixed blood. Someone will call you his mate one minute, then before you know it, you feel an indifference, a coldness you can’t explain. It’s what drove my brother to kill himself.”

Wally MacArthur was one of the “stolen generation”. The victim of a eugenics-inspired campaign to “breed out the black”, Wally was taken from his mother as a small boy and was destined to become a servant in white society. His gift was speed. Running without shoes, he was the Usain Bolt of his day. Wally was never selected in a state or national team.

Eddie Gilbert’s story is similar. A dazzling fast bowler, he was given special permission to play outside his Queensland “reserve” and took five wickets for 65 runs against the West Indies. He later faced Donald Bradman, the world’s greatest batsman, and bowled him for a duck. Thereafter, the secretary of the Queensland Cricket Association wrote to the Protector of Aborigines: “The matter of Eddie Gilbert has been fully discussed by my executive committee and it was decided, with your concurrence, to return Gilbert to the settlement.” The letter noted that his cricketing whites “should be laundered and returned”. Eddie was committed to an asylum where he was mistreated, and died.

The great Aboriginal boxer, Ron Richards, died a prisoner on Palm Island off the Queensland coast. He had won most Australian titles, and when he became British Empire middleweight champion, the Chief Protector stepped in. “Like many other crossbreeds,” he wrote, “he is unstable of character and inclined to be gullible.”

On 30 July, in London, the Aboriginal light-heavyweight Damien Hooper stepped into the ring for his Olympic bout wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Aboriginal flag: the same flag now approved to fly on public buildings in Australia. The Australian Olympic Committee demanded he make a public apology – itself a profanity in keeping with the enduring humiliation of Aboriginal people. Wearing the shirt was said to have breached the Olympic Charter; Coca Cola would have been acceptable. The sports writer for the Sydney Morning Herald sneared that it was “a stunt” by an opportunist. “I’m representing my culture, not only my country,” said Hooper. “I’m proud of what I did.”

In his 1995 book, Obstacle Race, Professor Colin Tatz, who has charted Australia’s genocidal history, says that of the 1,200 Aboriginal sportsmen and women he studied, only six – 0.5% — had access to the same opportunities and sporting facilities as whites. I asked him what had changed. “A few things are better.” he wrote, “The figure now is about one per cent.”

On the day Damien Hooper was forced to apologise, Australian swimmer Nick D’Arcy failed to make the final of the 200 metres butterfly. Few in the crowd were aware that this “chosen one” was a convicted thug who smashed the face of fellow swimmer Simon Cowley in an unprovoked assault in 2008. Ordered to pay his victim A$180,000 in damages, D’Arcy declared himself bankrupt and paid not a cent, nor showed any remorse. Yet, the Australian swimming authorities duly lifted his ban and allowed him to compete in London. After all, said a Liberal MP, ” Nick has paid a terrible price for his indiscretions”.

Josh Booth rowed in Australia’s eight that came last in the final. To a Chosen One, last is unacceptable, so Booth went on a rampage in Egham in Surrey, smashing windows. He later described it as an “emotional outburst”. The Sydney Morning Herald shed a tear for “the pain of a young man who lost in an event that comes along every four years”.

Unlike those original Australians forced to defend their basic human rights and apologise for their distinctiveness, both D’Arcy and Booth have enjoyed every advantage and privilege. Their “indiscretions” and victimhood are accompanied by a sense of entitlement that has shredded the national myth of “fair go”, not to mention an Olympic prowess of which we all were once proud.

For more information on John Pilger, please visit his website at www.johnpilger.com

Switzerland, a country traditionally reputed as a model for democracy and order, is nonetheless politically rife with contradictions. On one side many tend to praise the country’s high living standards, its system of direct democracy and its remarkable range of high quality products popular around the world. On the other hand the practice of bank secrecy has made Switzerland a popular destination for money launderers of all kinds throughout the decades.

Although offshore safe havens such as the British Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and others nowadays enjoy notably higher popularity for large-scale financial criminal activities, Switzerland remains the primary destination in many people’s minds when it comes to dictators, speculators or mafia bosses hiding their dirty money from the not quite long enough arm of the law.

Another key concept many associate with Switzerland is its strict policy of political neutrality. Indeed Switzerland is the second oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.

Though Switzerland’s ambivalent position during World War II was justifiably criticised by many, the state’s neutral stance has generally been appreciated all over Europe and the rest of the world. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was certainly no fan of neutrals, said:

”Of all the neutrals, Switzerland has the greatest right to distinction. . . What does it matter whether she has been able to give us the commercial advantages we desire or has given too many to the Germans. . .? She has been a democratic state, standing for freedom in self-defence. . . and largely on our side.”[1]

Swiss neutrality makes the country a good meeting ground for negotiations between conflicting global parties. Even the United States, who do not maintain official diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, rely on Swiss support in order to have a diplomatic channel:

“In the absence of diplomatic or consular relations of the United States of America with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as the Protecting Power of the USA in Iran since 21 May 1980. The Swiss Embassy’s Foreign Interests Section provides consular services to U.S. citizens living in or travelling to Iran.”[2]

As a diplomatic contact point between the U.S. and Iran, it is logical that Switzerland would have no valid reason for refusing to meet with Iranian officials. But even a short encounter between the former Swiss federal president Hans Rudolf Merz and the Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad at the United Nations Durban II anti-racism conference in Geneva 2009 was going too far, according to officials from Israel, America’s closest Middle East ally:

“Netanyahu’s office later said that he and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to recall Ambassador Ilan Elgar from Berne ‘for consultations and in protest at the conference in Geneva.’”[3]

Further testing Switzerland’s neutrality, U.S. and Israeli officials criticised Switzerland for not taking part in the oil embargo against Iran in July 2012.[4]

Relationship with the European Union

Although it does not belong to the European Union, Switzerland collaborates closely with its member states and the majority of Swiss exports are reserved for the EU market. Nevertheless, according to Jean-Claude Juncker[5], Prime Minister of Luxembourg and one of the key architects of EU integration, Switzerland’s independence remains “a geostrategic absurdity” because its position is an anomaly among other European states[6].

Indeed, there is no doubt that Swiss neutrality could not effectively continue if the country was to join the European Union, as EU member states are currently being forced to give up more and more of their fiscal sovereignty.

However, in Switzerland itself, where all major political parties have guaranteed representation in government, many forces are trying to push the country in a direction that would be more in line with the geostrategic roadmap of Brussels’ key players. In particular, Switzerland’s mainstream leftist party would like to see its country join the EU sooner rather than later. The fact that dominating EU-member states have participated in numerous U.S.-led military aggressions (e.g. Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Libya just this past year) apparently does not seem to faze the pro-EU stance of many Swiss leftists.

In June 2012, the Social Democratic Party’s faction of the Swiss General Assembly confirmed once again that they do not see a future in bilateral cooperation with the EU, specifying that joining the EU would be the “better institutional way.”[7]

Swiss Social Democrats also support Swiss participation in NATO programs such as the Partnership for Peace, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and NATO Parliamentary Assembly.[8]

Ironically, Switzerland’s mainstream “leftists” are the most unscrupulous proponents of militarism and imperialism, operating through the rhetoric of shamelessly demagogic “humanitarian” and “internationalist” phrases. For example, when the so called “Republic of Kosovo” declared unilateral independence in February 2008, “neutral” Switzerland was among the first countries to recognise the U.S./NATO protectorate disguised as a state. This happened mostly thanks to the efforts made by the former Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy Rey (a Social Democrat), who had already lobbied for recognition of Kosovo for months.

In May 2012, the Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, attended the NATO conference in Chicago and promised closer collaboration between NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) when Switzerland takes over OSCE presidency in 2014.[9] Furthermore he argued in favour of Swiss participation in NATO’s so called “Cyber Defence” program.[10]

The latest disturbing news on Switzerland’s role in the international community concerns the conflict in Syria, when it was revealed that Syrian anti-government insurgents have Swiss weapons in their arsenal, as the Swiss Sonntags-Zeitung[11] reported:

“The records, photographs, were made on Thursday in the Syrian village of Marea (Aleppo) and show hand grenades of the type shown OHG92 and SM 6-03-1, which were produced by the [Swiss] government-owned arms manufacturer Ruag.”[12]

Allegedly the weapons had been originally sold to the United Arab Emirates, who reportedly delivered them to Syrian insurgents. Other reports indicate the possibility that the arms had been used previously by anti-Gaddafi fighters from Libya, who got them from Qatar, which would mean that one of the most aggressive Gulf regimes received Swiss arms.[13]

In December 2011, a temporary ban on sending arms to Qatar was implemented by Switzerland, but was lifted quickly thereafter.[14] On the other hand, Swiss export of weapons to Syria has been banned since 1998. It is revealing that when it comes to arming pro-Western regimes, Switzerland exercises much less constraint.

As reported recently, about 40 senior representatives of various Syrian opposition groups have been meeting “quietly in Germany under the tutelage of the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) to plan for how to set up a post-Assad Syrian government.”[15]

Furthermore the project “has been funded by the State Department, but also has received funding from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” [16] According to the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed its participation and the donation of approximately 50 000 euros for covering “logistic costs”.[17]

The main problem concerning the decision-making process of Swiss foreign policy is that in no other field of Swiss politics can so many decisions be made without asking for the people’s approval in a referendum. This practice runs completely counter to Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, where referendums normally are meant to be a component of the country’s political culture. Therefore it is easy for factions who follow a transatlantic agenda to hijack Switzerland’s foreign policy and undermine the country’s centuries-old sovereignty.

However, defending a nation state’s democratic and social institutions against global imperialist rule would be a progressive act and has nothing to do with outmoded notions of “nationalism”, as Western mainstream leftists would have us believe. It would, rather, be the first step in the struggle for freedom from supranational corporate interests.

It is no surprise, then, that pro-EU pundits like Juncker label Switzerland’s reticence to jump aboard the EU bandwagon (and abandon its neutrality) as “absurd”. Apparently, his definition of the ideal “democratic process” – as dictated by Brussels and applied broadly – is much less questionable:

“We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.”[18]


Benjamin Schett
is an independent Swiss-based researcher and student of East European History at the University of Vienna. He can be reached at
[email protected] 

Notes

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/02/opinion/l-churchill-s-switzerland-460141.html.

[2] http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/reps/asia/virn/fosteh.html.

[3] http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel-recalls-swiss-envoy-over-ahmadinejad-presence-at-summit-1.274420.

[4] http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=274099.

[5] Jean-Claude Juncker is President of the Eurogroup (a meeting of the finance ministers of the eurozone)

[6] http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/12/15/eu-switzerland-idUKLDE6BE0VT20101215.

[7] http://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/schweiz/die-sp-waelzt-das-europadossier-1.17258476.

[8] http://www.sp-ps.ch/…/SIPOL_B_Stellungnahme_SP.pdf.

[9] http://www.currentconcerns.ch/index.php?id=1813.

[10] It goes without saying that U.S./NATO’s cyber activities have more to do with attack than defence. See for example RT on U.S.-Cyberwar against Iran: http://www.rt.com/news/iran-us-israel-cyberwar-virus-weapon-770.

[11] http://www.sonntagszeitung.ch/fokus/artikel-detailseite/?newsid=223610.

[12] http://www.syrianews.cc/syria-syrian-terrorists-weapons-switzerland.

[13] http://www.sonntagszeitung.ch/fokus/artikel-detailseite/?newsid=223610.

[14] http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/War_materiel_exports_return_to_the_spotlight_.html?cid=32277794.

[15] http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/07/20/inside_the_secret_effort_to_plan_for_a_post_assad_syria 

[16] Ibid.

[17] http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/ausland/naher-osten-und-afrika/Schweiz-finanzierte-Syriens-Opposition/story/25230130.

[18] http://www.economist.com/node/1325309.

e

The Dispossessed Majority

August 8th, 2012 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The bumper sticker on the beat-up pickup truck read: “Friends don’t let friends vote Democrat.”

The driver was obviously not affluent. Yet, despite all the news about mega-trillion dollar bankster bailouts, mega-million dollar bonuses for financial crooks, and unimaginable compensation packages for corporate CEOs who have moved middle class jobs out of America, something made the down-and-out pickup truck driver associate with the political party of the super-rich.

As I wondered at this strange alliance of the dirt poor with the mega-rich, I remembered that in 2004 Thomas Frank wondered about how the Republicans had managed to convince the poor to vote against their best interests. Frank’s answer, or part of his answer, is that the Republicans use “social issues,” such as gay marriage and Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple to work up indignation over the threat to moral values posed by liberal Democrats.

The working poor have been convinced by Republican propaganda that voting Democrat means giving the working poor’s tax dollars to the non-working poor, to providing medical care and schooling for illegal aliens, and being soft on terrorism.

To the pick-up truck driver, standing up for America means standing up for bankster bailouts and the military/security complex’s multi-trillion dollar wars.

The Karl Rove Dirty Tricks Team has honed the Republican propaganda. Republicans send each other via email an endless number of nonsense stories about Obama being a Muslim, about Obama being a Marxist, about Obama being a Manchurian Candidate turning America over to the New World Order or the United Nations, or to some other dastardly plotting organization. But never is Obama accused of turning the US over to Wall Street, the military/security complex, or Israel.

There is never any citation or source for the accusations in the emails. None are needed, because the words are what the Republicans want to hear. Ask them why Obama would be killing Muslims in seven countries if he was a Muslim, or why Wall Street and the military/security complex would put a Marxist in the White House, and they turn purple with rage. Just by asking the obvious questions instead of joining in the denunciations, a person confirms the propaganda that America is threatened by Obama dupes who won’t stand up for the country.

The non-affluent who rage about welfare, medicaid, Obamacare, and public schools can’t seem to put two and two together. The $750 billion TARP bankster bailout, a small part of the total and ongoing bailout, would have sufficed to cover any holes in these budgets for a long time. Instead, the money went to reward those who caused the financial crisis and threw millions of Americans out of their homes. As far as I know, the pickup truck driver is one of the dispossessed.

The same brainwashed Americans who rage against Obamacare and are lined up to vote for Romney are oblivious to the fact that Romney, while governor of the eastern liberal Democratic state of Massachusetts, had his version of Obamacare enacted at the state level.

The greatest irony about Obamacare is that it was written by the private insurance companies and diverts Medicaid and Medicare funds to their profits. It is socialized medicine alright, but it is socialism for the private insurance companies.

All it took to convince Red staters to go along with the military/security complex squandering $6 trillion on the Iraq and Afghan wars was yellow ribbon decals and a slogan, “support the troops.”

Obama, Republicans claim, won’t stand up to Syria, or against Iran, or for Israel. But Republicans are proud when Romney goes to Israel to slither on his belly pandering to the crazed, blood-thirsty Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, who called Israeli top generals “pussies” for warning against attacking Iran. Romney told Netanyahu, just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it; I am loyal to Israel. Apparently, flag-waving Republican patriots are not bothered when their presidential candidate announces that as soon as he is in office he will turn over US foreign policy to Netanyahu and send more americans to death and bankruptcy for Netanyahu.

Karl Rove didn’t have any trouble at all in brainwashing red staters to support their own demise. The pickup truck driver could just as well have sported a bumper sticker that read: “Don’t support a Democrat. He might do something for you.”

Yes, I know. It is almost as easy to beat up on Democrats. Bush and Cheney and their neocon hoodlums destroyed the Constitution and, thereby, America. But the Democrats let them. It was Nancy Pelosi, who as Speaker of the House stridently declared Bush’s impeachment to be “off the table.”

Bush and Cheney unquestionably violated both US and international laws and the Constitution. Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to hold them accountable established the precedent that the executive branch is no longer accountable to law or to the Constitution. In effect, the executive branch now comprises a dictatorship. It acts outside of law and constitutional restraints. On some issues it still has to consult with Congress or the courts, but as the executive branch’s power and audacity grows, consultation will become a formality and then drop away. Congress will have no more influence than the Roman senate under the empire, and courts will become stages for show trials.

Americans elected Obama president expecting that he would restore the rule of law. Instead, he codified the Bush regime’s transgressions and added some of his own. No one of my generation could have imagined the president of the US sitting in the Oval Office signing off on lists of American citizens to be murdered without evidence or due process of law.

So which do you want? The Republican panderer to the rich and Israel whose foreign policy is war or the Democrat panderer to the rich and Israel whose foreign policy is war? As Gerald Celente wrote in the July issue of the Trends Journal, americans “argue among themselves why their freak is better than the other freak. They will get angry with you if you call their freak a freak. They will actually fight and die to defend their freaks.”

It is extraordinary that millions of americans actually believe fervently that it matters whether Romney freak or Obama freak gets elected. If americans had any sense, they would stay home and not vote. The 1% control the country, and the 99% had just as well own up to it and stay at home. Nothing is going to change because of the ballot box.

What do you suppose the Ron Paul supporters will do? Will they see Romney as the less socialist of the two and vote for the Republicans who stole the nomination from Ron Paul? (Jaret Glenn, “How the GOP Establishment Stole the Nomination from Ron Paul,” published on August 6 on the OpEdNews website.)

The US is ruled by a private oligarchy. The government is merely their front. The country’s resources are diverted to the pockets of Wall Street, the military/security complex, and to the service of greater Israel. The oil, mining, timber, and agribusiness companies control the Environmental Protection Agency and the Forestry Service, which is why regulation only pertains to the small individual, while fracking, mountaintop removal mining, and pollution of air, water, and soil run wild.

The oligarchs have succeeded in making Americans a dispossessed majority in their own country. In November Americans will again give their approval to one of the oligarchy’s two candidates.

Help stop the media lies on Syria: War is NOT the answer

August 8th, 2012 by Global Research

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We have seen the situation in Syria ratcheted as violence spilled into the streets of Damascus this month. A NATO and Russian military buildup is underway in the Eastern Mediterranean and Iran has threatened to intervene should any external powers attack Syria. Syria clearly is the epicenter of an international confrontation seeing the US, NATO, Israel, Gulf Cooperation Council confronting Russia, China, and Iran.

An intensified media war comes with the battle in Syria to topple the government. The function of the media should not be underestimated.

Global Research has worked to bring its readers critical news, information, and analyses to reverse the tide of mainstream media disinformation. We have been the important reference of first choice for many of our readers in our coverage of topics like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Palestine, Fukushima, Latin America, Occupy Wall Street, the global economic crisis, and the financial meltdown in America.

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Amnesty International: An Instrument of War Propaganda?

August 8th, 2012 by Felicity Arbuthnot

Amnesty International has released satellite pictures of “craters” in Syria, citing : ”an increased use of heavy weaponry, including near residential areas”.

The BBC reports, quoting Amnesty: “Images from Anadan revealed more than 600 probable artillery impact craters from heavy fighting between Syrian armed forces and armed opposition groups.” (My emphasis.)

Further: “Turning Syria’s most populous city into a battlefield will have devastating consequences for civilians. The atrocities in Syria are mounting already,” warned Christoph Koettl, emergency response manager for Amnesty International USA, without acknowedging that the killings of civilians are committed by the US-NATO Free Syrian Army (FSA) rather than the government.

Digital Globe via Amnesty International “More than 600 probable artillery impact craters,
represented here with yellow dots, were identified in Anadan, in the vicinity of Aleppo, according to Amnesty International.”

“The Syrian military and the opposition fighters must both adhere to international humanitarian law, which strictly forbids the use of tactics and weapons that fail to distinguish between military and civilian targets”, he added.

Amnesty’s record on impartiality suffered a fatal blow when they stated in 1991 that Iraqi soldiers had torn babies from their incubators in Kuwait and left them to die on the floor of the hospital’s neo-natal unit. Arguably this sealed the 1991 onslaught on Iraq. The story that the Kuwaiti government rewarded Amnesty with $500,000 for endorsing this pack of lies has not gone away – and as far as I am aware, to date, has not been denied.

Amnesty’s record suffered a further blow when it organised a demonstration last year, outside the London Syrian Embassy, with CAABU (Council for Arab British Understanding) calling for the overthrow of the sovereign Syrian government. A plan which was outlined by the US Embassy in Damascus in December 2005. This action arguably falls under the definition of incitement to terrorism, set out by the UN Security Council on 4th May 2012. (SC/10636.) 

The Syrian government is doing what any nation would do to defend its country when attacked by terrorists, many from outside and many also with British accents, according to recently escaped, kidnapped British and Dutch journalists.

However, back to your 600 craters. The insurgents also seemingly have rocket propelled grenades and have also boasted of capturing tanks with heavy weaponry. However many craters or not, they will certainly be responsible for many and will not have clean hands.

Further, I do not seem to remember Amnesty blasting the British and Americans soldiers for killing, raping, murdering whole families of Iraqis and Afghans, also illegally invaded, who simply wanted their countries back, or were totally innocent victims.    

No doubt the all is now directed by your new US Head, former top aide to Hilary Clinton, who seems to hate most of the world’s non Western population, especially those of the Middle East, or of predominantly Muslim heritage.

Amnesty has moved a long way from its fine founding aims.

Palestine: Beyond the Two-State Solution

August 8th, 2012 by David Swanson

Fast forward to 2048.  The world is greatly changed, and in this year China invades France, occupying Paris and a good portion of the nation.  The French are massacred, evicted, raped, chased, and terrorized.  Towns are destroyed.  Every town and village has its name changed to a Chinese name, and its prior existence erased from any history books produced from then forward. 

Portions of France not yet under Chinese control shelter refugees by the millions.  French citizens captured in their homes are held as “prisoners of war” and freed to become refugees in distant parts of France.  China changes the name of its occupied areas from France to Chance.  The remaining parts of the country are just referred to by their local (Chinese) names, as if they were part of no nation at all and yet somehow Chinese in the end. 

For years, the Chancian government continues to expand and to assault the French people.  With more and more immigrants from China, Chance becomes an apartheid nation with lesser rights for any French within it.  In 2067, Chance launches a major assault, seizing control of much of what’s left of France.  The newly seized areas come to be called “the occupied territories,” in contrast to the already occupied territories, which are called simply Chance.

As the years pass, Chancian children are born and raised in Chance who had nothing to do with the original invasion.  In fact, they are never even told about it.  At most they are taught that Chance was founded in 2048 when the French voluntarily left and the true border of the Chancian nation was drawn on a map with a purple line.  That purple line is also called “the line of 2067,” even though it was drawn in 2048.  Outside of that purple line are the occupied territories and the few towns and villages left to the French. 

Liberals in Chance propose giving “the occupied territories” back to the French and restoring the Purple Line, while conservatives propose eliminating the last French descendant from Europe.  Those are the extremes of the political debate in Chance.  Everything within the Purple Line is universally agreed upon as properly Chancian.  The agreement runs so deep that the question is never raised at all.  The original sin in Chancian history is dated to 2067 when the Chancian democracy strayed outside its natural borders and violated the rights of others for the first time.

But, of course, Chancian families are raised through the years outside as well as inside the Purple Line, a line that had never been agreed to in any way by the French, a line that would deny many of them the right to return to their homes. 

The French want reparations and restoration.  They date the catastrophe of their nation to 2048.  The Chancians are willing to talk about undoing anything they’ve done since 2067, including through the creation of a French nation.  The French nation would include several geographically separated bits of territory in northern and southern parts of the former France.  It would remain subject to the rule of Chance on major questions.  And the new France would have to agree to the rightful existence of Chance inside the Purple Line — or the Purple Line plus a little.

So, a lengthy and seemingly endless process is created called the Peace Process.  The French show up wanting to talk about 2048.  The Chancians show up willing to talk only about 2067.  The two sides never hear each other.  There is never any peace.  The Chancians announce at the end of each failed meeting that they “have no partner” with which to negotiate peace.  Hostilities and a permanent state of emergency prevail, with French people within Chance and Chance’s “occupied territories” deprived of basic rights, imprisoned, tortured, and assaulted.  The other nations of Europe join with the French in resenting the behavior of Chance.  The nations of Asia, however, celebrate Chance as “the only democracy in Europe.”

Chance versus Palestine

There are several differences between this story and the story of Israel and Palestine.  Some of the differences are trivial: The dates are 1948 and 1967, not 2048 and 2067.  The line is green rather than purple.  Some of the differences are significant: The Jewish culture always had ties to Israel.  The religious element allows for an intermediary class of citizens consisting of Arab Jews.  Et cetera. 

But morally, the differences seem only to obscure what matters.  The state of Israel was created through ethnic cleansing.  It was created as a state to privilege one religious group, something that states should not do.  But two wrongs cannot make a right.  Evicting Israelis from their homes, inside or outside the Green Line, is not a solution.

Yehouda Shenhav’s new book, “Beyond the Two State Solution: A Jewish Political Essay” tells the story above, but straightforwardly, without the analogy.  The language of the Green Line, Shenhav writes, is “a language through which Israel is described as a liberal democracy, while the Arabs (and Mizrachi and religious Jews to boot) are described as inferior and undemocratic.  This is the language of someone who came to the Middle East for a short while, not to integrate but to exist here as a guest.  The position it expresses is not only immoral with regard to the Palestinians, but also potentially disastrous for the Jews.  It commits them to life in a ghetto with a limited idea of democracy based on racial laws and a perpetual state of emergency.”

Shenhav wants to restore awareness of 1948, but not to try to reconstruct the world of 1948.  He does not propose eliminating Israel.  He does not propose uniting the people of Israel and Palestine into a single nation. 

He does propose allowing Palestinians to return to their homes in a manner least disturbing to Israelis already living in those villages or buildings, including with compensation paid to residents evicted by an agreement with returning refugees.  He proposes a bilingual society, with a fragmented political federation.  He expects this to be very difficult, while preferable to any other approach.  And he rightly sees the first step as recovering honesty with regards to not-so-distant history.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

 

While the US was flexing its muscles in Iraq and Afghanistan (later, in Libya, currently in Syria, and further on other nations), taking a much less outspoken but nonetheless more effective approach of “soft power” penetrated the abandoned regions. The role of the frontrunner among new patrons of the developed world was unambiguously taken by China, which has established itself as the number one trade partner and a prominent investor not only in Africa but also in the region that for centuries had been regarded as the US’ “backyard” – Latin America.

[W]hat is surprising, though, is the fact that a call to Africa not to fall prey to “new colonialism” comes from Washington. Or do US political and business leaders think that the “forgotten continent” is also forgetful and that the people of Africa have forgotten what real colonialism and neocolonialism is, and who were the main bearers of the phenomenon?

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a high-ranking delegation of US officials and representatives of huge American companies including Boeing and General Electric is currently in South Africa with the aim of boosting trade and investment in what until recently was called a “forgotten continent”.

The delegation is headed by Fred Hochberg, chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the US and one of the highest-ranking business leaders in the Obama administration.

The task facing the US business leaders is not a simple one. For decades, Africa was looted by colonial and later neo-colonial powers, the US being the leader among the latter. Then, for some reason, the West largely lost interest in the continent (at least in its sub-Saharan part). The tendency became more than obvious during George W. Bush tenure – he was so preoccupied with the idea of establishing US dominance in the “Greater Middle East” that he left other regions virtually unattended – Africa being the most obvious but not the only among them.

But as is widely known, there is no such thing as a vacuum in nature. While the US was flexing its muscles in Iraq and Afghanistan (later, in Libya, currently in Syria, and further on other nations), taking a much less outspoken but nonetheless more effective approach of “soft power” penetrated the abandoned regions. The role of the frontrunner among new patrons of the developed world was unambiguously taken by China, which has established itself as the number one trade partner and a prominent investor not only in Africa but also in the region that for centuries had been regarded as the US’ “backyard” – Latin America.

The basic statistics quoted in the WSJ speak for themselves. In 2011 the US was only the third largest exporter to Africa after China and former colonial power France, while exports from numbers 2 and 3 on the list (France and the US) combined together do not even match those from China.

Barack Obama’s administration has realized that the narrow focus on the Broader Middle East is fraught with too many risks – both domestically and internationally.

At the end of 2011, the administration proclaimed the Asia-Pacific as the area of core US interests. The move was universally recognized as aimed at containing China’s influence. But as it turns out, China’s growing influence is not limited to the adjacent regions only. China has established itself as a marine power with perpetual presence in the Indian Ocean, and, as has been said above, is successfully positioning itself as the main partner on other distant playgrounds.

So, the task of containing China becomes the administration’ s obsession – whoever occupies the chair in the Oval Office. And the task is a multi-faceted one. Today, the US finds itself in a position of a pursuer in the scramble. And it is not only China that is the only contender the US has to catch up with. Africa has become the focus of attention of many important global players, including India, Brazil – that is, not to mention former colonial European powers.

In this context, the visit of the US business delegation cannot be regarded as an isolated event. Not surprisingly, about a week ago, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton also paid a visit to a number of sub-Saharan African countries. During the visit, she took all pains to persuade her African partners that the relationship with the US is more beneficial for them than relations with China. Among the arguments Ms. Hillary put forward were the usual appellations to the “respect for democracy and human rights that accompany US investments” . The Secretary of State also warned African countries of the risks of falling prey to “new colonialism” with was just a barely veiled reference to China’s policy on the continent.

It is true that the methods China is using in Africa (an elsewhere) are far from being truly respectful of the local partners and more often than not violate basic socio-economic, environmental and other humanitarian principles. A recent incident in Zambia, when a Chinese manager of a mine was killed during a local workers’ riot is just one of numerous examples showing the real nature of China’s relationship with its partners.

But what is surprising, though, is the fact that a call to Africa not to fall prey to “new colonialism” comes from Washington. Or do US political and business leaders think that the “forgotten continent” is also forgetful and that the people of Africa have forgotten what real colonialism and neocolonialism is, and who were the main bearers of the phenomenon?

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

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Tue Aug 7, 2012 3:53 pm (PDT) . Posted by:

“Rick Rozoff” rwrozoff

Greece: Syriza Shines a Light

August 8th, 2012 by Hilary Wainwright

Like a swan moving forward with relaxed confidence while paddling furiously beneath the surface, Syriza, the radical left coalition that could become the next government of Greece, is facing enormous challenges calmly but with intensified activity.

Syriza holds a rally just before the 17 June election at which it became Greece’s second party with 27 per cent of the vote. Photo: Mehran Khalili.

In the palatial setting of the Greek parliament, Alexis Tsipras, the president of the radical left coalition Syriza’s parliamentary group, opens the first meeting of its 71 new deputies with his characteristic mix of cool and conviviality. At the same time, across Greece, other Syriza activists are organizing neighbourhood assemblies, maintaining ‘solidarity kitchens’ and bazaars, working in medical social centres, protecting immigrants against attacks from Golden Dawn, the new fascist party that won 7 per cent of votes in the election, creating new Syriza currents at the base of the trade unions – and kickstarting the transition from a coalition of 12 political organizations (and 1.6 million voters) to a new kind of political party.

In the midst of all this they still find time to cook, dance, debate and organize at a three-day anti-racist festival. This annual festival, now in its 16th year, was founded with 40 organizations to ‘intercept,’ in the words of Nicos Giannopolous, one of its driving forces, ‘the growth of nationalism and racism in the early nineties.’ In its aims, principles of organization and the plural culture that it promotes, it symbolizes the strength of the internationalist civil society that Syriza has both helped to build and of which it is in good part a product. Now more than 250 organizations and parties are involved in organizing the event and more than 30,000 people of every age and ethnic origin pour into the still-public space of Goudi Park in Athens.

Self-Organized Social Power for Change

A common focus in all this activity is how to turn the electoral support for Syriza into a source of self-organized social power for change, as well as to build on it as the electoral path to government. When, on 6 May, Syriza won 17 per cent of the vote in the general election, most activists were stunned. After all, three years ago the alliance had only just scraped past the 3 per cent barrier to parliamentary seats, with 4.7 per cent. By 17 June, when the second election saw Syriza’s vote rise to 27 per cent, members had begun seriously to imagine their coalition in government.

Dimitris Tsoukalas, one of Syriza’s new MPs and a recruit from Pasok, the main centre-left party in Greece since its foundation in 1974, describes the vote as “an expression of need.” Tsoukalas’s recent history is indicative of the unravelling of Pasok, and with it the balance of political power in the trade unions. Formerly president of the bank workers’ union, he resigned from Pasok the day after then-prime minister George Papendreou signed the troika memorandum of understanding on economic policy with the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank. Tsoukalas then joined the ‘No to the Memorandum’ coalition to stand against Pasok in the regional elections for Attica – elections in which the Pasok vote first began to crumble, from 40 to 23 per cent.

Tsoukalas isn’t getting carried away with Syriza’s success, however. He warns that “votes can be like sand.” The sand won’t blow back to Pasok. But New Democracy, Greece’s main right-wing party, which came first in the June election, was able to harvest the fruits of the fear that it and a wholly hostile commercial media stirred up at the prospect of a Syriza victory – a process that is likely to intensify. There is also the danger of an ill wind from the direction of Golden Dawn. Formed in the early 1990s as a marginal semi-legal fascist organization, it has achieved wider electoral and street-level appeal recently in reviving an explicitly fascist tradition in a new form to lead a xenophobic, anti-immigrant response to the social devastation caused by policies of the troika.

Roots of Change

As yet, though, it has been Syriza and the left that has made the most substantial gains in the wake of Greece’s debt crisis. So what has produced a political organization that is both rooted in the movements and engaged in seriously restructuring the state? What is its organizational and cultural character?

Now is not the time to analyze in definitive terms. The structures of the new party are to be discussed by members and supporters, new and old, over the coming six months or so. But it is possible, learning from its history, to sketch the personality with which it enters this new phase. And everyone I talked to in Greece insists that its fundamentals must not change.

Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, was founded in 2004 following the success of a new generation of young activists from the left-wing Synaspismos party, including Alexis Tsipras and Andreas Karitzis, a key political coordinator, in taking over the party leadership. This generation had been formed through the alter-globalization movement of the first decade of the century, and especially the massive demonstration in Genoa and then the World and European Social Forums. The experience of the social forums, including the Greek Social Forum, was decisive in turning the predominant culture of the new Greek left away from loyalty to a particular ideology in favour of pluralism, democratic collaboration, openness and a belief in the importance of proposing an alternative.

This culture grew on fertile ground. The young activists and intellectuals who helped to found Syriza were from the first generation that rejected capitalism after the fall of the Soviet Union, and who came to the left independently of any ‘actually existing’ alternative. Their involvement in movements and struggles was part of a process of developing an alternative rather than promoting one that had already been worked out.

They knew that governing from above wouldn’t work but they did not know what would. “We try to find another way,” says Karitzis. “I believe you need state political power but what is also decisive is what you are doing in the movements/society before seizing power. Eighty per cent of social change cannot come through government.”

Synaspismos provided a hospitable home for this kind of practical but principled process of creating a new kind of socialism. It was the product of a number of splits in communist politics, breaking both from Stalinism and from an accommodation with capitalism. In general, the new young leadership was welcomed by many older comrades, who had already involved Synaspismos in the alter-globalization movement.

…the young and old worked with the organizations with which Synaspismos had created the Greek Social Forum. This included other political organizations (Maoist and Trotskyist, for instance) and green, feminist, gay and social rights networks. They all came together to form Syriza, with its green, red and purple flag. ”

With their strong belief in the need for the radical left to collaborate, the young and old worked with the organizations with which Synaspismos had created the Greek Social Forum. This included other political organizations (Maoist and Trotskyist, for instance) and green, feminist, gay and social rights networks. They all came together to form Syriza, with its green, red and purple flag. Standing outside, with arms folded, secure in its increasingly imaginary inner strength, was the KKE, the apparently immovably dogmatic Greek Communist Party. At that time it had 7.5 per cent of the vote. In this year’s June election this had fallen to 4.5 per cent. (There are signs that younger activist members are looking toward Syriza, as the KKE seems to be an organization unlikely to change.)

When, nine years and many movements later, the latest forces of change converged on Syntagma Square, Syriza members were there too. There they helped to build the movement, not to recruit to the party, to push a line or take control. Yanis Almpanis, a Syriza member active in the Network of Social and Political Rights, describes the way they participated: “Small groups of us often came together in the square, either because we knew each other or agreed with what each other were saying.” They shared principles – for example, not allowing any anti-immigrant slogans – and applied these to find practical solutions through the general discussions. On the first day, for instance, many people came to the demonstration with Greek flags and did not allow party flags. After a few days and much argument the idea emerged of having different flags of other nations, including from the Arab Spring. “It changed the image of the action,” says Almpanis. “This is how to build a radical and political movement.”

It is this principled immersion in the movements, including the uprising in 2008 following the police killing of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, that led many people to decide that Syriza was the instrument they could trust to help them rid Greece of the memorandum. “Syriza was always with us” says Tonia Katerina from the Open City coalition. It was a sentiment I heard again and again.

When Tsipras declared that Syriza was prepared to form a government to stop the memorandum and break the old ruling order, he linked anger with hope. The parliament stands some distance back from Syntagma Square. Syriza was committing itself to open up a two-way channel of power and energy from the squares and society to parliament and back.

Politicized Solidarity

In its work outside parliament, Syriza gives a high priority to supporting and spreading networks that in effect systematize the customs of informal mutual support that are deeply rooted in Greek society. Some begin with neighbours coming together to help others with greater need. Others involve solidarity kitchens linking with food producers; doctors and nurses responding to the crisis in the health system by creating medical social centres; support for actions against electricity cut-offs; legal help in courts to cut mortgage payments. Syriza’s involvement in this work follows in part from its members’ high alert to the threat posed by Golden Dawn. Andreas Karitzis stresses that if the left does not “build the new social connections, someone else will.”

The fascists are already creating their own social infrastructure for Greeks only and taking direct action to drive out immigrants. On 23 June, for example, a gang of Golden Dawn thugs raided Pakistani grocers’ shops in the working-class suburb of Nikea, near the port of Piraeus, telling them they had one week to get ready and go, ‘or else.’ Syriza had won 38 per cent of the vote in Nikea (a higher vote in working-class districts and among those under 35 was the general pattern of Syriza’s electoral support) and after the attack the party helped to organize a rally and march of 3,000 in support of the shopkeepers.

These solidarity networks, in which Syriza is only one participant among many, are run on an explicitly self-managed democratic basis. “We persuade people to participate, to become organizers; we explain that solidarity is an idea of taking and giving,” says Tonia Katerini.

The networks are not a substitute for the welfare state. “People are facing problems of survival,” explains Andreas Karitzis. “We cannot solve these issues but we can be part of socializing them. These solidarity initiatives can be a basis for fighting for the welfare state. For example, medical staff involved in the social medical centres also fight within the hospitals for resources and free treatment. The idea is to change people’s idea of what they can do – develop, with them, a sense of their capacity for power.” In this way consolidating Syriza’s vote is also about a deeper preparation for government: “If we become the government in a few months time people will be more ready to fight for their rights, to take on the banks and so on.”

Preparation for Government

Opposition as an opportunity to prepare for government also drives those Syriza members who are working closer to the state. Aristedes Baltas, coordinating member of Syriza’s programme committee, describes the work already underway on the committee of MPs, experts, civil servants and civic organizations whose purpose is to shed light on (not simply ‘shadow’) the ministry of education and propose alternative policies. “Through Syriza members who are frontline civil servants – and Syriza won over 50 per cent of the vote of these workers – we are mapping the obstacles, knowing who to rely on, how to release the ideas of staff with a commitment to the public good,” he says.

These committees – rather than single ‘shadow ministers’ – are also intended through their openness and links with social movements to be one way of countering the tendency of parliamentary institutions to pull the representatives of even the most radical political parties away from the movements for which they intend to be a political resource. Baltas, an activist-cum-professor of philosophy from the older generation of Synaspismos, the largest party in the Syriza coalition, co-ordinated the drawing up of a detailed, 400-page programme involving Syriza members and supporters from every social and political sphere. This contributed to the organization’s insistence on positive solutions and its confident approach to government. One of the programme’s four sections concerned “restructuring the state.”

Baltas summarizes the approach that Syriza is now preparing to put into practice in every ministry. It is an ambitious strategy for democratizing a state that is institutionally corrupt. It is also a direct challenge to the troika’s claim to be modernizing the Greek state through privatization. For each ministry, Syriza committees are preparing to sweep away the bastions of corruption and open up the work of the ministry to the stifled capacities of frontline civil servants, building on and encouraging the latent honesty that Baltas is convinced generally exists amongst such public service professionals.

Under Pasok and New Democracy rule, each minister brings 40 or 50 advisors who control everything. This, Baltas says, “is a deadly structure, suppressing all initiative and creating focal points for corruption throughout the system. We would not bring in such a layer. We will ask for a general assembly of all those who work in the ministry and explain the new situation, and encourage their initiatives to make the state responsive to the needs of the people.” The hope, he explains, is to encourage “a surge of people wanting to participate, produce ideas. This will be the first time such a thing will have happened in Greece.”

Old Challenges, New Openings

Alongside these various preparations for government, inside parliament and outside, activists are alert to the dangers of losing their social roots, becoming ‘another Pasok.’ In the formation of the new party, a shared priority is to create, as new MP Theano Fotiou puts it, “a structure for the people to always be connected to the party, even if they are not members of the party, to be criticizing the party, bringing new experience to the party.”

One factor pulling the parliamentary representatives of radical, pro-movement parties elsewhere has been the resources bestowed on them by the state, while the party, and often the movement, loses key cadres to the parliamentary routine. Syriza will receive €8-million (almost triple its present budget) as a result of its electoral success, and each MP is allocated five members of staff by the parliament. How will Syriza’s emphasis on struggles in society be applied to the distribution of these resources?

Andreas Karitzis answers: “The biggest part of the new funds should go to what we can do in the neighbourhoods. For example, to employ people to spread initiatives like social medical centres, explain what is successful and what is not, or people who would connect people in cities with producers of agricultural stuff. And to improve the ability to build these relationships online. These are the kind of things we are discussing, as well strengthening the capacity of the party in parliament.” Out of the five staff allocated to MPs, two will work for the MP directly. One will work for a policy committee and two will be employed by the party to work in the movements and neighbourhoods.

A further challenge will arise from the fact that although there are strong women in the Syriza leadership, the overwhelming majority are men. Sissy Vovou, a member of Syriza’s 200-strong leading body and member of the Syriza Women’s Network, says there is a tendency to treat women’s equality as “something that should wait until we are in government” There is a new dynamic developing though. A third of Syriza’s MPs are women, who have been elected on a proportional system based on open lists. So they have been voted for on the basis of their local leadership. They made it clear at that first parliamentary meeting opened by Alexis Tsipras that women’s equality cannot be put on hold.

New sources of radicalism are also evident within the trade unions. The dramatic collapse of the old political order is producing a potential earthquake in the unions, whose structures were closely tied to the old parties of Pasok, the KKE and New Democracy. The consequences for Syriza of these changes and the development of radical independent unions in Athens especially, where more than half of the population lives, are not yet clear. But they open up the possibility of a strong grassroots trade unionism that could in turn reinforce the radical character of Syriza, especially if and when it is in government.

Finally there is a challenge to us. Syriza’s rise, along with the defeat of Sarkozy in France, has encouraged the rejection of austerity measures across Europe and shifted the balance of forces in the EU. But it is not enough simply to applaud and walk away. The avoidable catastrophe imposed on the Greek people worsens every day. Syriza is clear that the memorandum cannot be reversed by national resistance alone.

The most effective form of solidarity across Europe would be to learn from Syriza how to build in our own countries new kinds of political organization that are sufficiently open and loose to enable all those people who desire an alternative to capitalism based on values that many of us describe as socialist, but without a precise model in mind, to become a powerful and popular political force.

Syriza has shown how this movement-style politics can be combined with a disciplined intervention in the political system to defend – and regain – the basic social and political rights that mainstream parties now treat as dispensable. Its example, which was necessarily forged in the heat of the most extreme manifestation of neoliberal austerity, can be taken up by the rest of us. In doing so, the political geography of Europe would be reshaped, with profound effects in Greece, potentially allowing Syriza not just to shine but to succeed. •

Hilary Wainwright is a fellow of the Transnational Institute and a founding editor of Red Pepper where this article first appeared.

Turkey already has troops in Syria and has threatened military action to protect the site they guard.

A 1921 agreement between Ottoman Turkey and France (the Treaty of Ankara), the latter at the time the colonial administrator of Syria, guaranteed Turkey the right to station military personnel at the mausoleum of Suleyman Shah (Süleyman Şah), the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman I (Osman Bey).

Turkey considers the area adjacent to the tomb to be its, and not Syria’s, sovereign territory and late last month reinforced its 15-troop contingent there.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated the following in an interview televised on August 5: “The tomb of Süleyman Şah and the land surrounding it is our territory. We cannot ignore any unfavorable act against that monument, as it would be an attack on our territory, as well as an attack on NATO land. Everyone knows his duty, and will continue to do what is necessary.” The gravesite of a Seljuk sultan who was reputed to have drowned in the Euphrates River while on a campaign of conquest is now proclaimed a NATO outpost in Syria.

If confirmation was required that a neo-Ottoman Turkey is determined to reassert the influence and authority in Mesopotamia it gained 700 years before and lost a century ago and, moreover, that it was doing so as part of a campaign by self-christened global NATO to expand into the Arab world, the Turkish head of state’s threat to militarily intervene in Syria with the support of its 27 NATO allies should provide it.

Especially as the above complements and reinforces the roles of the U.S. and NATO in providing military assistance to Ankara in its current war of attrition against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey and Iraq, with Syria soon to follow as last week Turkey deployed troops, tanks, other armored vehicles and missile batteries to within two kilometers of the Syrian border for war games. Last week a retired Turkish official compared the current anti-Kurdish offensive to the Sri Lankan military’s final onslaught against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) three years ago, ending the 25-year-long war against the latter with its complete annihilation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s trip to Colombia in April was designed to achieve the same result in the 48-year joint Colombian-U.S. counterinsurgency war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In the current era of international lawlessness, only NATO states and American clients like Colombia and Israel are permitted to conduct military strikes and incursions into other nations and to wage wars of extermination against opponents.

In the same interview cited above, Turkey’s Erdogan asserted the right to continue launching military strikes against Kurdish targets in neighboring countries, stating, “It should be known that as long as the region remains a source of threat[s] for Turkey we will continue staging operations wherever it is needed.”

Turkish Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin recently claimed that his nation’s armed forces had killed 130 suspected PKK members and supporters in Hakkari province, which borders Iran and Iraq.

Specifically in respect to military attacks inside Syria, Erdogan stated: “One cannot rule that out. We have three brigades along the border currently conducting maneuvers there. And we cannot remain patient in the face of a mistake that can be made there.”

He also stated, in reference to fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo, “I believe the Assad regime draws to its end with each passing day” and criticized Iran’s support, which is to say its recognition, of the Syrian government. Iran is the inevitable secondary target of actions directed by Turkey and its NATO and Persian Gulf Arab allies against Syria and will be struck through Iraq also.

In the same interview the Turkish head of state identified a third target: Iraq. He condemned the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, declaring it illegitimate and urging it be overthrown. In what portends confrontation and possible conflict with Iran and Syria as well by exploiting the PKK issue, he added:

“Even though we should be countries that share the same values, for us to be in such rigor [conflict?] only makes the terrorist organization more powerful. This leads us to approach each other with suspicion.”

In the process he criticized Iran as well:

“It is not possible to accept Iran’s stance [of supporting the Iraqi government]. We conveyed this to them at the highest level of talks. We said to them, ‘Look, this has been a source of disturbance in the region.’”

His comments occurred after the Iraqi government criticized the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the cities of Kirkuk and Irbil in the Kurdistan Regional Government-controlled north of Iraq in part to secure oil and natural gas deals with the regime of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish autonomous region. Irbil is the region’s capital, but Kirkuk is claimed by Iraq’s central government too. Davutoglu’s trip to Kirkuk was the first by a Turkish foreign minister since 1937.

On August 7 Hurriyet Daily News columnist Murat Yetkin offered this perspective on the matter:

“Because Iraq [is] at risk of falling apart. Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north of the country, which borders Turkey, has started to sign oil and gas deals with energy giants despite the objection of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, who refuses to approve a hydrocarbons law to regulate the sharing of oil and gas income. The energy giants have an interest in supplying more oil and gas that is not controlled or is less controlled by Russia and Iran to Western markets; Turkey provides an option under NATO protection for both Iraqi Kurdish and Azeri resources to be transferred further west. The presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the KRG region and its armed campaign is, of course, a pain in the neck and a big obstacle to greater cooperation…”

On July 26 the same commentator claimed that “There are already political and economic actors trying to push Turkey to claim some energy-rich parts of Iraq and Syria, which would mean a regime change such as a federated Turkey, with Kurdish and possibly Arabic members,” which, he conceded, “could drag the whole region into a chain reaction of wars.”

Part of Turkey’s justification for involvement in northern Iraq, and another pretext for potential military intervention, is the protection of their ethnic kin, the Turkmen, in the country.

However, since the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq in 2003 the true indigenous people of the north, the Assyrians, have been decimated by attacks from Barzani’s peshmergas and Saudi-backed Wahhabi extremists without Turkey, or the West, being in the least degree concerned. Nine years ago there were an estimated 1.5 million Assyrian and other Christians in Iraq; now there under 500,000. Churches have been destroyed and in 2008 the Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, Archbishop Mar Paulos Faraj Rahho, was kidnapped and murdered in the northern Iraqi city where he resided. Other religious minorities – Mandeans, Sabeans and Yezidis – have suffered the same fate. Shiites are regularly targeted by Wahhabi death squads.

The Barzani domain in the north has become a Turkish foothold inside the country, which has aided Ankara by preventing the PKK from operating on its territory and suppressing its sympathizers. It is also a dependable Sunni ally for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies in efforts to weaken the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. The al-Maliki administration condemned last week’s visit by the Turkish foreign minister to the Kurdish-dominated north as a violation of Iraq’s constitution and national sovereignty as Davutoglu had neither requested nor obtained permission to enter Kirkuk.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry handed the Turkish chargé d’affaires in Baghdad a harshly-worded statement and the Turkish Foreign Minister in response summoned the Iraqi ambassador to lodge a protest.

With Turkish threats against Iraq and Syria, and by inevitable implication Iran, mounting, on August 6 the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Seyed Hassan Firuzabadi, warned that:

“Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey are responsible for blood being shed on Syrian soil.

“This is not an appropriate precedent, that neighboring countries of Syria contribute to the belligerent purposes of…the United States. If these countries have accepted such a precedent, they must be aware that after Syria, it will be the turn of Turkey and other countries.

He added that Iran fears “Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have become victims of promoting the terrorism of al-Qaeda and we warn our friends about this.”

On the same day Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated, “There is a question that when al-Qaeda plays an active role in Syrian terrorism and violence, why the US and other countries back the shipment of heavy and semi-heavy weapons to the country?”

Kazem Jalali, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that “Turkey and those who support and arm terrorists” in Syria were responsible for the safety of 48 Iranians kidnapped in the country on August 4.

The following day the Turkish press reported that Osman Karahan, a Turkish lawyer who defended a suspected top-level al-Qaeda operative accused of participating in deadly bomb attacks in Istanbul in November of 2003 was killed in Aleppo fighting with anti-government forces. In 2006 the Turkish government charged Karahan with aiding and abetting al-Qaeda.

Syria has announced that it captured several Turkish and Saudi military officers in Aleppo. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have established a base in the Turkish city of Adana, 60 miles from the Syrian border, to supply weapons and training to Syrian rebels for cross-border attacks.

The Turkish government is providing bases, training and advisers for al-Qaeda and other participants in the insurrection against the Syrian government at the same time that it is threatening Syria, Iraq and Iran over the “terrorist” Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

In bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria, Turkey provides NATO – and through NATO the Pentagon – direct access to those three nations. The final stage in the West’s Greater Missile East Initiative is now well underway, as is a new redivision of the Levant modeled after the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.

Drones Over Gaza: Searching for Dignity

August 8th, 2012 by Rajaie Batniji

“They were playing with their Atari last night.” This was my young cousin’s way of explaining why our street in Gaza had turned into an arrangement of chairs and tents for an outdoor funeral. He was, of course, referring to attacks by drones, which Gazans call “zennana” in an Arabic reference to the buzzing noise they make. While there is uncertainty about how many people have been killed by these drones, the Palestine Center for Human Rights estimates that at least 800 people in Gaza have died because of drones since 2006. These deaths are largely civilians, bystanders from Israeli attempts at targeted assassinations in the Gaza Strip—a narrow 41 kilometre strip of land along the Mediterranean, where more than 1·5 million Palestinians live.

Zennana, a feminine word, is also used by Gazans to refer to a whining wife or daughter, reflecting the Gazan perception of these weapons of war as a nagging nuisance of daily life, rather than a traumatic occurrence. To understand how Gazans have “normalised the abnormal”, I visited Ahmed Abu-Tawahina, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP). He explained to me how “The idea of trauma makes no sense in the Palestinian context where people live in constant fear. Trauma makes sense in Geneva, where there is safety, stability, and routine. But in Gaza, there is no normalcy.” Ahmed suggested that an alternative to “trauma” might be “mousiba”, meaning tragedy. Since Gazans live in constant fear and insecurity, they are not typically shocked by violence.

The violence did startle me. Leaving the serenity of my life in the USA, where I am a resident physician at Stanford University, I arrived in Gaza in March, 2012, on the eve of an Israeli aerial campaign targeting militants from Islamic Jihad. I was greeted by my loving grandparents with offerings of tea and overly sweetened juice, but also by a near absence of electricity, a scarcity of running water, the buzz of the drones, the roar of military jets, and explosions from nearby incoming and outgoing missiles. In Gaza, I learned how the Israeli military’s surveillance and attacks, international foreign aid, and the conflict between Palestinian political factions conspire to create fear, divide communities, and—above all—threaten people’s dignity.

Dignity is a nebulous idea in theory and definition, but I found that Gaza is something of a laboratory for observing an absence of dignity. Jonathan Mann made the case that violations of dignity have “devastating” effects on physical, mental, and social wellbeing and he sought to create a taxonomy of dignity violations that included: not being seen or being incompletely seen; being subsumed into a group identity; invasion of personal space (including physical violence); and humiliation. Mann’s persuasive ideas seem to resonate in Gaza. The constant surveillance from the sky, collective punishment through blockade and isolation, the intrusion into homes and communications, and restrictions on those trying to travel, or marry, or work make it difficult to live a dignified life in Gaza.

Riding in a United Nations car with Mahmoud Daher, head of WHO’s Gaza office, he was careful to keep his distance from all other vehicles, for fear that they might be targeted by Israeli missiles. Later, Karem, a young surgeon at Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s trauma centre, told me how “Every day, I go to work and wonder where and when I’ll die. You never know when a war will start again. Just yesterday, it was calm, and now we’re in war.” During the 2009 Gaza war, Karem worked 19 straight days without leaving the hospital. He does not exude fragility. On his Facebook wall the day I entered Gaza, his status read, “Another tough night at Shifa hospital, then [at home] you still have the smell of smoke from grilled human bodies & that image of shattered human flesh.”

Foreign aid, ostensibly provided to relieve the suffering of Palestinians, has in some ways increased social fragmentation. Since the takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007, after winning the 2006 election, some political actors have used foreign aid in an effort to create a prosperous and healthy West Bank, and a sick and impoverished Gaza. In fact, official development assistance has, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, more than doubled since 2006, from disbursements of US$1·2 billion in 2006 to disbursements of $2·7 billion in 2009 and $2·5 billion in 2010. Yet very little of this aid makes it to Gaza. As Hasan Zeyada, a psychologist with GCMHP, told me, “Aid allows foreign powers to achieve a goal they couldn’t even achieve through war.”

Perhaps the most devastating attack on social cohesion comes from the internal Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian power struggle has recreated many of the most threatening aspects of the Israeli occupation: barriers to movement of people and goods, fear, isolation, and torture. It takes several hours to move a few hundred metres across the Egyptian border. Medical students, eager to act on the social and political factors that affect health, report that they are unable to do so because it is dangerous to create groups and alliances. Torture techniques seem to be used by Palestinians from both political factions. Torture survivors come to clinics in secret; their charts carry false names. As one clinician observed during my visit, “It would be far more compelling to tell an optimistic story, but I cannot do that. Torture and violence destroy our hopes for Palestinian unity.”

Occupation and the blockade make shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies commonplace. Yet during my visit it seemed to me that these shortages are at least partly attributable to internal Palestinian conflict. While enjoying fresh strawberry juice on Gaza’s coast with Mahmoud Daher, of WHO, our conversation was not only interrupted by explosions, but also by a call from the American Consulate in East Jerusalem, asking about the health situation amid the escalation in conflict. Mahmoud informs them that of about 480 drugs on the Palestinian essential drugs list, 180 drugs are out of stock and 70 to 80 are below the 3-month threshold. The cause of the essential drugs shortage is debated in Gaza. Some blame the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for failing to transfer medicines from their warehouses to Gaza. Others blame the Hamas Government for misallocating funds that need to be transferred to acquire the medications. Irrespective of the cause, the drug shortage is no longer simply attributable to the Israeli blockade.

Everywhere they turn, Gazans face isolation and fear: the drones and warplanes of Israeli occupation, the inequality reinforced by foreign aid, and the pervasive conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Ahmed Abu-Tawahina, of GCMHP, seemed to put it best when he likened Gazans to subjects in a Pavlovian experiment, being betrayed by political parties and donors wherever they turned. “We go to each corner of the cage and are shocked, then we stand in the middle of the cage, totally paranoid and abandoned.” In an earlier era, there was stronger social solidarity. During the first Palestinian uprising of 1988—93, the divisions between cities, villages, camps, and clans had faded. But, along the way, Gazan society has become divided. Without reliable infrastructure for water, electricity, or imported goods, families hoard fuel and depend on the black market. Many people on the street now walk with their heads down—whether it is out of fear, isolation, or a loss of dignity.

The attempt to restore and protect dignity was the primary goal of many clinicians I met in Gaza. One clinician, who works with victims of torture, keeps doing his work, despite the risks to his life in doing so, because his patients remind him, “You are the window through which I can breathe”. As Eyad El-Sarraj explained, the core goal of GCMPH is to make people feel like they are regaining their dignity. This is why their staff see themselves as community workers and human rights advocates, not just clinicians. Khamis Elessi, a clinician-educator at at El-Wafa Hospital and the Islamic University in Gaza, teaches his students to touch their patients. He explains, “The sick want to tell you about daily suffering, the misery of life without electricity, how he feels when his kids can’t go to school.” They need doctors who give them an opportunity to express these struggles. He had much more to say, but we ended our meeting so he could go to the funeral of his cousin, a 60-year-old farmer, who had recently died after an Israeli airstrike.

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A man sells fruit where a mosque used to be opposite Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City in 2009

Mostly, Gazans try to ignore their fear, and the loss of their dignity, in a vain attempt to live normal lives. As Bertrand Russell stated in his 1950 Nobel Lecture, “There are two ways of coping with fear: one is to diminish the external danger, and the other is to cultivate Stoic endurance. The latter can be reinforced, except where immediate action is necessary, by turning our thoughts away from the cause of fear.” To maintain some semblance of normal life, Gazans seem to have mastered the ability to intentionally neglect the destruction that surrounds them. Conversations with my grandfather were not interrupted by the sound of missiles landing nearby. In the long farewell on the eve of my departure, my extended family assembled for a group photograph. Children climbed onto their siblings and mothers. Everyone shuffled into view of the lens. Then, the house shook to the sound of an explosion. I jumped in fear. Yet young and old relatives remained smiling for the camera. They were unfazed, despite the knowledge that an Israeli military jet had dropped a bomb somewhere just east of us. My uncle, Abu Nizar, explained their calm: “When you are living in hell, and someone turns up the heat a little, it doesn’t change much. You’re still in hell.” We posed for some more photographs with bounding smiles, and without asking about the death and destruction that surrounded

The ongoing conflict in Syria is becoming increasingly sectarian amid reports that rebel fighters have attacked a housing compound for employees of a power company, killing 16 civilians, mostly Alawites and Christians.

The massacre took place in Jandar village near the western city of Homs on Tuesday, Syria’s state news agency SANA reports.

Armed men stormed the Jandar residential compound, firing indiscriminately and killing 16 Syrians, among them six Christians, six Alawites – including the compound director – and four Sunnis,” said the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based NGO.

Abdel Rahman said the gunmen targeted only the Syrian employees of the Jandar power plant. The other employees were Japanese and Iranians, who live with their families in the compound in Jandar village. “The village and its surrounding areas are Sunni,” he added.

Syria is a predominantly Sunni country, but it is also home to Christians and other Muslim denominations, among them the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam. Syria’s President Bashar Assad and the country’s ruling elite belong to the Alawite minority.

The latest attacks against minorities come after Bassam Mohieddin, an Alawite film director, was killed near his home in the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday.

“Treacherous hands assassinated Bassam Mohieddin on Sunday,” Syria’s General Cinema Institute said in a statement on Tuesday, adding the murder occurred in Jdeidet Artuz, the scene of recent clashes between government troops and rebels, AFP reports.

Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned against Syria descending into a sectarian war. “We have to set very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare,” she said during her trip to South Africa, Reuters reports.

Those who are attempting to exploit the situation by sending in proxies or terrorist fighters must realize that will not be tolerated, first and foremost, by the Syrian people,” she added.

The collapse of the Assad regime could lead to the repression of minority groups, former Russian prime minster and Middle East expert Evgeny Primakov has warned in an interview with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.

Should the armed opposition manage to oust Assad, it would try to impose a Sunni regime, which would immediately lead to the persecution of Alawites, who comprise a significant part of the population,” he said adding that everyone who does not share the opposition’s religious views would face repression.

Primakov also explained that Al-Qaeda is supporting the Syrian rebels because it is a Sunni organization.

The ongoing violence in Syria has reportedly claimed some 21,000 lives since the uprising against the Bashar Assad regime started in March 2011.

A Temple and a Mosque; Worship in America

August 8th, 2012 by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

On August 5,  a Sikh temple in Southern Wisconsin was attacked.  Six worshippers lost their lives before the gunman was killed.   There was an outbreak of condemnation – rightly so.  President Obama ordered flags at public buildings to be flown at half-staff and Mrs. Clinton called her Indian counterpart. Mitt Romney offered his prayers to the families of the victims.   Left ignored, was the burning down of a mosque in Missouri –  predictably so.  Worship in America is a political prerogative in sink with U.S. policies.  

But India and Indian Sikhs have privileges; so why were Sikh worshippers targeted?  It may well be that the perpetrator, Wade Michael Page who allegedly had links to the white supremacist movement ignored the political relations in favor of his ideology — white supremacy,  articulated by President T. Roosevelt who said of America: “Democracy has justified itself by keeping for the white race the best portion’s of the earth’s surface.”

Or perhaps, as CNN opined, “Sikh’s “unfairly” mistaken for Muslims and targeted.” This would not be the first time, and as Public Radio International (PRI) has reported, since the events of 9/11, Sikh men have been targeted as Moslems.  Even the cordial relations with India could not prevent the perception that an Indian Sikh resembles a Moslem and fair target.   

Scapegoating Moslems had been planned as early as 1991 (see full article here).   The end of the Cold War had left neoconservatives fearful that with the demise of the Soviet Union, and the splintering of the America ’s right wing faction, there would no longer be an unconditional support for a U.S.-Israel alliance.  The threat of communism was replaced with the threat of Islam.  The promotion and branding of Islam as an enemy came to fruition with the events of 9/11.  

In line with this neoconservative strategy, the mainstream media in the US framed September 11 within the context of Islam, ignoring all other inquiry, including the fact that a new U.N. Human Rights Council assigned to monitor Israel was calling for an official commission to study the role neoconservatives may have played in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (New York Sun 1).   As neocon Bernard Lewis was busy teaching the concept of ‘jihad’ versus‘crusade’ 2 Moslem bashing, Moslem killing, and Mosque burning became fair game.

The strategy of demonizing Islam was so successful that in 2008 the presidential candidates centered their qualification for Office on Moslem-bashing.  Former New York mayor and the hero of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, made the threat of ‘Islamic terrorism’ the centerpiece of his campaign.  Podhoretz also joined Giuliani (later he joined McCain), as did John Deady who resigned after it came out that he said the following of Giuliani: “He’s got, I believe, the knowledge and the judgment to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history and that is the rise of the Muslims. Make no mistake about it, this hasn’t happened for a thousand years, these people are very dedicated and they’re also very, very smart in their own way. We need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat or chase them back to their caves or, in other words, get rid of them.”  Renowned Evangelical Pat Robertson gave Giuliani his endorsement.3

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, allegedly dissuaded contender Mike Huckabee from “reaching out” to the ‘Muslim world’.   Mitt Romney, a contender in 2008 and the 2012 GOP presidential hopeful, raised eyebrows when he suggested that mosques be wire-tapped.4   For almost a decade, U.S. military officers were being taught to wage a ‘total war’ on Islam and target civilians.  

The Sikh Temple shooter, Wade Michael Page, a former U.S. Army veteran, is condemned for the violent and meaningless murder of innocent worshippers, but is he alone responsible for this act of insanity?  If these killing were truly a case of mistaking Sikhs as Moslems,  should those who implement seeds of hatred not be held accountable aslo? 

Who will persecute those who taught army officers to kill Moslems -  the  Commander-in-Chief hopefuls and their advisors who promoted hatred and persecution of Moslems, and the neoconservatives who planted the seeds of hatred among us?  Will their deeds be buried with Page? As Jonathan Swift said: “I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”

Notes

1. New York Sun

2 Bernard Lewis, ‘Learning the Lingo. Jihad vs. Crusade. A Historian’s Guide to the New War’, Wall Street Journal (27 Sept. 2001).

3 “The Religion Card; GOP Candidates Play on anti-Muslim Sentiments”The Progressive, Biography Resource Center , USC Feb 2008

4 The Religion Card, Ibid.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher and blogger with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups

Former Labor party minister, Uzi Baram, wrote a column in Yisrael HaYom today that urges Israel’s leadership to tell the people clearly what lies in store when they execute an expected attack on Iran.  What is most striking about the article is this:

Recently, I’ve come to believe that the leaders of the State have decided to act [attack Iran].

A trusted Israeli source tells me that Baram learned this from none other than a close confidant of Ehud Barak.  In other words, Barak has begun to tell his closest friends that Israel is going to war.  Before hearing this, I thought chances of an Israeli attack were 70-30.  Now I believe they are 85-15.

Another interesting focus of Baram’s article is the economic fallout that such an attack will generate.  Though he speaks in terms familiar to anyone who’s read Meir Dagan’s warnings on this subject, the columnist focuses specifically on economic issues.  He warns a strike will bring an end to international investment in Israeli business and a halt to the flourishing tourism industry:

Every Israeli citizen should know that what has been will not be in the future…It will mean the end of today’s Israel.

…It’s no secret what will happen.  If we attack, the Iranians will respond in kind.  The western and Muslim world, including Iran’s allies and enemies, will tighten the “siege belt” around us.

In effect, Baram is warning that a BDS-like state of siege will descend on Israel.  It won’t be fueled by moral arguments against Occupation as the current BDS movement is.  It will be fueled by an even more potent fuel: outrage at Israel’s aggression against Iran.

On the eve of an expected major offensive in Aleppo by the Syrian regime, Turkey has threatened to invade Syria, using the pretext of Kurdish groups seizing control of northern border areas.

Such a move could pitch Ankara directly into war against Syria, after it has long sought to dictate events through control of the opposition Syrian National Congress and Free Syrian Army.

This would be done with the full support of the United States.

Al Ahram cited reports in the Turkish media that the US embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Adana in southeast Turkey have “been planning military operations against the Baathist regime in Syria with the knowledge of the Turkish government.”

Large numbers of trucks have been seen coming out of the US airbase at Incirlik, laden with arms for distribution to the Syrian opposition.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has warned of an impending massacre in Aleppo, close to the Turkish border, and appealed for action. This is combined with ever escalating rhetoric over the “terrorist threat” posed by the Kurds.

In the past fortnight, up to 115 Kurdish fighters have been killed in a south eastern Turkey in military operations, including air strikes near the town of Semdinli. Sunday saw a counter-offensive in which Kurdish forces raided three military posts near the Iraq border that left at least six soldiers and 14 rebels dead. Turkish officials claim to be combating a 200-strong force of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Kurds make up 17 percent of Iraq’s 31 million people, including the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, nine percent of Syria’s 21 million population, and seven to ten percent of Iran’s 75 million people.

Turkey, which has a 25 percent Kurdish population (20 million Kurds) is bitterly opposed to the creation of an independent state. The Turkish army has targeted PKK forces, with which it has been in conflict since 1984 at a cost of 40,000 mainly Kurdish lives. However, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has made clear that its ultimate aim is to intervene directly into Syria.

Without naming anyone, Prime Minister Racip Tayyip Erdogan accused foreign countries of backing the Kurdish fighters, who had made “dastardly” attacks on least three military bases. “Turkey has the strength to put enemy nations and circles who hold the strings of the terrorist organisation in their place,” he threatened.

Deputy AKP Chairman Omer Celik stated more directly, “The preparations and multi-pronged attack by the PKK in Hakkari exceeds the PKK’s capabilities. The PKK, in carrying out the attacks in Semdinli and Hakkari, acted in parallel with the massacres carried out by [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad’s forces in Aleppo.”

The AKP has placed itself at the head of the movement to depose Assad, breaking its former alliance with Syria. It calculated that this would secure its leadership of an alliance of Sunni powers, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which the United States is utilising as a proxy through which to establish a client regime in Syria. This would cut Shia Iran off from its major regional ally and deprive Russia and China of a foothold in the Middle East.

It has worked to secure the support of Kurdish groups in Syria and to bring them into the SNC, which is now led by Abdelbaset Sayda—a Kurd living in exile in Sweden. But most Kurds view the SNC with deep suspicion, due to the dominant role played by the Muslim Brotherhood and the involvement of Riyadh and Qatar in funding, arming and training the insurgents. Routine professions of non-sectarianism count for little against the growing weight of Al Qaeda and Salafist forces in the anti-Assad camp.

The most widely supported Kurdish group, the PKK, and its local unofficial affiliate, the Democratic Unionist Party (PYD), initially allied themselves with Assad based upon opposition to the Sunni insurgency and anticipation of being rewarded with some form of autonomy.

In recent days, the transfer of Syrian units to build up a reported Aleppo force of 20,000 has left a vacuum that has been filled by the PYD and other groups that are now said to control four or five of the main towns and cities in northern Syria.

To this threat, Erdogan has stated, “It is our most natural right to intervene since those terrorist formations would disturb our national peace… In the North, (Assad) has already allocated five provinces to the terrorists.”

Turkey has been working to secure some form of accommodation with the leader of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish administration, President Massoud Barzani, to prevent movements in Syria, Iraq and Turkey from meeting up. It sent Davatoglu to the capital, Erbil, on August 1 for talks. A joint statement expressed “deep concern regarding instability and chaos in Syria” that posed “a threat to regional security and stability” and promised co-ordinated efforts to establish a democratic, non-sectarian Syria.

However, this follows an earlier admission by Barzani to al-Jazeera that Syrian Kurds have been trained militarily in Iraq.

Any prospect of a Kurdish autonomous region, whether under Assad or a post-Assad government, is anathema to Ankara. But it is also utilising the Kurdish question as a means of establishing a bridgehead in Syria.

The SNC and the Syrian Kurdish National Council (KNC) have agreed to establish a committee to address Turkey’s concerns about the threat of “terrorism” following a meeting with Davutoglu. Abdulhakim Bashar, the head of the KNC, denounced the PYD as an ally of Assad and stated that the best option for Syrian Kurds is to form a Kurdish confederation affiliated with Turkey.

Stressing the Kurdish threat above all provides Turkey with a casus belli for declaring war on Syria and opening up a second front to complement the invasion of the commercial capital, Aleppo, by FSA and jihadist fighters. Ankara has already moved 2,000 troops to the Syrian border, as well as missiles, helicopters and tanks.

Turkey’s repression of the Kurds is being carried out with the full backing of Washington, which sees Turkey as the best candidate for leading a proxy war in Syria. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to travel to Turkey for talks this week. The Obama administration is presiding over the arming and training of the opposition by its regional allies and has its CIA and military operatives on the ground.

This week the Daily Telegraph reported that the Syrian Support Group (SSG) has been granted a license to send funds to the opposition by the US Treasury, described by the group as a “game changer”.

Washington’s criminal actions in deliberately provoking a sectarian war in Syria are at the centre of a still greater crime. In order to secure unchallenged hegemony over vital oil supplies, the US is allying itself with Al Qaeda elements, the Muslim Brotherhood and Gulf despots to redraw the map of the Middle East in blood.

Perfecting The Method of “Color Revolutions”

August 7th, 2012 by Thierry Meyssan

In 1985, a social scientist, Gene Sharp, published a study commissioned by NATO on Making Europe Unconquerable. He pointed out that ultimately a government only exists because people agree to obey it. The USSR could never control Western Europe if people refused to obey Communist governments.

A few years later, in 1989, Sharp was tasked by the CIA with conducting the practical application of his theoretical research in China. The United States wanted to topple Deng Xiaoping in favor of Zhao Ziyang. The intention was to stage a coup with a veneer of legitimacy by organizing street protests, in much the same way as the CIA had given a popular facade to the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh by hiring Tehran demonstrators (Operation Ajax, 1953). The difference here is that Gene Sharp had to rely on a mix of pro-Zhao and pro-US youth to make the coup look like a revolution. But Deng had Sharp arrested in Tiananmen Square and expelled from the country. The coup failed, but not before the CIA spurred the youth groups into a vain attack to discredit Deng through the crackdown that followed. The failure of the operation was attributed to the difficulties of mobilizing young activists in the desired direction.

Ever since the work of French sociologist Gustave Le Bon in the late nineteenth century, we know that adults behave like children when they are in the throes of collective emotion. They become susceptible, even if for just a critical fleeting moment, to the suggestions of a leader-of-men who for them embodies a father figure. In 1990, Sharp got close to Colonel Reuven Gal, then chief psychologist of the Israeli Army (he later became deputy national security adviser to Ariel Sharon and now runs operations designed to manipulate young Israeli non-Jews). Combining the discoveries of Le Bon and Sigmund Freud, Gal reached the conclusion that it was also possible to exploit the “Oedipus complex” in adolescents and steer a crowd of young people to oppose a head of state, as a symbolic father figure.

On this basis, Sharp and Gal set up training programs for young activists with the objective of organizing coups. After a few successes in Russia and the Baltics, it was in 1998 that Gene Sharp perfected the method of “color revolutions” with the overthrow of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

After President Hugo Chavez foiled a coup in Venezuela on the basis of one of my investigations revealing the role and method of Gene Sharp, the latter suspended the activities of the Albert Einstein Institute which served as a cover and went on to create new structures (CANVAS in Belgrade, the Academy of Change in London, Vienna and Doha). We saw them at work the world over, especially in Lebanon (Cedar Revolution), Iran (Green Revolution), Tunisia (Jasmine Revolution) and Egypt (Lotus Revolution). The principle is simple: exacerbate all underlying frustrations, blame the political apparatus for all the problems, manipulate the youth according to the Freudian “patricidal” scenario, organize a coup, and then propagandize that the government was brought down by the “street.”

International public opinion easily swallowed these stage settings: first, because of a confusion between a crowd and the people. Thus, the “Lotus Revolution” actually boiled down to a show on Tahrir Square in Cairo, mobilizing a crowd of tens of thousands, while the near totality of the Egyptian people abstained from taking part in the event; and second, because there is a lack of clarity with regard to the word “revolution”. A genuine revolution entails an upheaval in social structures that takes place over several years, while a “color revolution” is a regime change that occurs within weeks. The other term for a forced change of leadership without social transformation is a “coup d’état”. In Egypt, for example, it is clearly not the people who pushed Hosni Mubarak to resign, but U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner who gave him the order.

The slogan of the “color revolutions” harks back to an infantile perspective; What matters is to overthrow the head of state without consideration of the consequences–“Don’t worry about your future, Washington will take care of everything for you.” By the time people wake up, it’s too late; the government has been usurped by individuals not of their choosing. At the outset though, there are cries of “Down with Shevardnadze!” Or “Ben Ali, get out!” The latest version was launched at the third conference of “Friends” of Syria (Paris, July 6): “Bashar must go!”

A strange anomaly can be detected with regard to Syria. The CIA did not locate groups of young Syrians willing to chant this slogan in the streets of Damascus and Aleppo. So it is Barack Obama, François Hollande, David Cameron and Angela Merkel themselves who repeat the slogan in chorus from their respective foreign offices. Washington and its allies are trying out the methods of Gene Sharp on the “international community”. It is a risky bet to imagine that foreign ministries can be as easy to manipulate as youth groups! At the moment, the result is simply ridiculous: the leaders of the colonial powers have been stomping their feet like angry, frustrated children over a desired object that the Russian and Chinese adults won’t let them have while ceaselessly wailing “Bashar must go!“.

Thierry Meyssan, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. Professor of International Relations at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Damascus. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

The Dark Heart Of The Libor Scandal

August 7th, 2012 by Mark Vorpahl

Though, for most, the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (Libor) interest rate fixing scandal appears to be distant and far too complex to understand, its potential consequences may be as economically devastating as a world war.

The Libor is used to set payments on $800 trillion worth of financial instruments. It sets the prices that people and corporations pay for loans and receive for savings. Given that the fraud impacted $10 trillion in consumer loans, the Libor scandal will likely leave a long list of previous financial scandals that contributed to the Great Recession look like child’s play.

It also pulls back the curtain on the mechanisms behind the world economy, its anti-social priorities, its willingness to gamble away the future of millions of people, and the government’s collusion in these operations. The Libor scandal reveals that the “invisible hand” Adam Smith spoke of in explaining how a capitalist economy regulates itself has been transformed into the trained hand of a swindler.

The Libor and Its Problems

The Libor sets interest rates that banks charge one another to borrow on a daily basis. Sixteen (now eighteen) large banks submit their assessment of what they anticipate credit would cost them. The four lowest and four highest calculations are thrown out, and the interest rate is determined as the middle figure among the remaining assessments.

While the method that the banks use to determine the figure they report to Libor is largely arbitrary, it is, nevertheless, assumed that they won’t take advantage of the process to game the system. This is a rather remarkable leap of faith since there are billions of dollars of profit if the banks can find a clever way to sidestep the rules. In contrast to popular knowledge, the Libor expects honor among thieves.

Clearly, this is naive in the extreme. It has recently been revealed that for years the banks worked with one another to submit interest rates to the Libor lower than their actual borrowing costs, thereby covering up the shaky condition they were in. Of even greater consequence, it is now acknowledged that the banks were rigging the Libor since 2005 to make the most profit from their bets on derivatives, and regulators knew it was happening.

So far, London-based Barclays Bank has been fined $455 million by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the U.S. Department of Justice and the UK Financial Services Authority. This is likely a fraction of the money they made from their fraud. Its chief executive, Bob Diamond, was forced to resign, no doubt, with a handsome severance package even if he does have to give up some on the advice of the bank’s board.

Barclays Bank is just the tip of the iceberg. In several countries, 20 big banks are under investigation, including such behemoths as Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, RBS and UBS.

Current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Chairman Ben Bernanke have had to defend the Fed’s response when it first became aware of the fraud in 2008. While Geithner said he was “aggressive” in expressing his concerns, this on-going scandal did not come to light until four years later.

Why the Regulators Failed to Regulate

The explanation for this contradiction is that the fraud the banks were committing was producing outcomes in line with the Federal Reserves own policies, though they were concerned about how flagrantly it was being done. In “The Meaning of Libor-gate” Paul Craig Roberts explains:

It is the prospect of ever-lower interest rates that causes investors to purchase bonds that do not pay a real rate of interest. Bond purchasers make up for the negative interest rate by the rise in price in the bonds caused by the next round of low interest rates. As the Federal Reserve and the banks drive down the interest rate, the issued bonds rise in value, and their purchasers enjoy capital gains.

As the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are themselves fixing interest rates at historic lows in order to mask the insolvency of their respective banking systems, they naturally do not object that the banks themselves contribute to the success of this policy by fixing the Libor rate and by selling massive amounts of interest rate swaps, a way of shorting interest rates and driving them down or preventing them from rising.

The lower Libor is, the higher is the price or evaluations of floating-rate debt instruments, such as CDOs [Collateralized Debt Obligation], and thus the stronger the banks’ balance sheets appear.

Does this mean that the U.S. and UK financial systems can only be kept afloat by fraud that harms purchasers of interest rate swaps, which include municipalities advised by sellers of interest rate swaps, and those with savings accounts?

The answer is yes, but the Libor scandal is only a small part of the interest rate rigging scandal. The Federal Reserve itself has been rigging interest rates. How else could debt issued in profusion be bearing negative interest rates?

Later in the article Roberts succinctly points out:

Imagine the Federal reserve called before Congress or the Department of Justice to answer why it did not report on the fraud perpetrated by private banks, fraud that was supporting the Federal Reserve’s own rigging of interest rates (and the same in the UK.)

The Federal Reserve will reply: “So, you want us to let interest rates go up? Are you prepared to come up with the money to bail out the FDIC-insured depositors of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, etc.? Are you prepared for U.S. Treasury prices to collapse, wiping out bond funds and the remaining wealth in the U.S. and driving up interest rates, making the interest rate on new federal debt necessary to finance the huge budget deficits impossible to pay, and finishing off what is left of the real estate market? Are you prepared to take responsibility, you who deregulated the financial system, for this economic Armageddon?

Obviously, the politicians will say NO and continue with the fraud. The harm to people from a collapse far exceeds the harm in lost interest from fixing the low interest rates in order to forestall collapse. The Federal Reserve will say that we are doing our best to create profits for the banks that will permit us eventually to unwind the fraud and return to normal. Congress will see no better alternative to this.

In short, the Federal Reserve and other political structures have been left to act as subordinate partners in the big banks’ schemes — the tail is wagging the dog.

The Magnitude of the Problem

The level of gambling that is being tolerated without a care by the wheeler and dealers of Wall Street is almost beyond comprehension. For instance, it has been estimated that the world’s annual gross domestic product is valued between $50 trillion and $60 trillion. This is peanuts compared to the exposure of the worlds financial markets to such speculation tools as derivatives. Paul Wilmott has estimated the total amount of derivatives being played in the markets is $1.2 quad-trillion. That is 20 times the amount of money currently in the global economy. As noted earlier, the amount of financial instruments pegged to the Libor alone is $800 trillion.

Despite the obscuring complexity and mathematical models used to justify such inflated figures, the fact of the matter is that they are still inevitably tied to the real economy of production and consumption. The farther they stretch into the stratosphere from this ground level, the more violently they snap back to earth with catastrophic consequences for working people. The Libor scandal combined with the government sanctioned gambling help to create greater economic crises around the bend.

There is no accountability for this mad lust for short-term, even if illusionary, profit at the expense of the economy’s long-term health. Those responsible are sheltered from the devastation they wreak with the hand out line of “too big to fail” and workers’ tax dollars.

This should be no surprise because these crooks own both the Republican and Democratic parties. What better evidence for this than, after being bailed out, the banksters are again continuing their speculative orgy and scandals while workers continue to suffer from the effects of the Great Depression. If the U.S.’s political parties had the least amount of independence from the financial elite, they would have jailed those responsible for the economic crisis, confiscated their funds, sharply raised taxes on the rich, and used this increased revenue for job creation, fully funded education, Medicare for all, and rebuilding our decaying infrastructure.

In addition to denying workers of revenue for these fundamental needs, those behind the Libor scandal have also used their interest rigging to rob already cash strapped municipalities and other local governments. While there are many examples of this that are dealt with in Pam Marten’s “Wall Street’s Biggest Heist Yet? How the High Wizards of Finance Gutted Our Schools and Cities,” one is enough to get the picture of how it worked:

According to the June 30, 2011 auditor’s report for the City of Oakland, California, the city entered into a swap with Goldman Sachs Mitsui Marine Derivatives Products in connection with $187.5 million of muni bonds for Oakland Joint Powers Financing Authority. Under the swap terms, the city would pay Goldman a fixed rate of 5.6775 percent through 2021 and receive a variable rate based on the Bond Market Association index (that was the predecessor name to the SIFMA index). In 2003, the variable rate was changed from being indexed to the Bond Market Association index to being indexed at 65 percent of the one-month Libor rate.

The city is still paying the high fixed rate but it’s receiving a miniscule rate of less than one percent. According to local officials, the city has paid Goldman roughly $32 million more than it has received and could be out another $20 million if it has to hold the swap until 2021. A group called the Oakland Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs succeeded in getting the City Council to vote on July 3 of this year to stop doing business with Goldman Sachs if it doesn’t allow Oakland to terminate the swap without penalty. It called the vote “a huge victory for both the city of Oakland and for the people throughout the world living under the boot of interest rate swaps.”

Thanks to grass roots pressure, Oakland was fortunate enough to get out of paying the termination fees on the abusive interest rates swaps. This is not normally how it works. According to a March 2010 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) report, from 2006 -2008 the banks have been paid $28 billion in termination fees so state and local governments could get out of similar arrangements. Clearly the requirement to pay such termination fees to get out of abusive interest rate swaps should be voided on a federal level.

The Way Forward

In addition, many, in response to the Libor scandal have called for the re-instatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, which was repealed under President Clinton. This Act did help to prevent some of the worst current excesses. However, the situation with fraud has reached such monstrous proportions today that such a measure seems to be entirely inadequate. The shattered system of bank regulation cannot be put together by relying on the political players who are holding the hammers and profiting from deregulation. Starting out, any reform movement as a lobbying exercise is a complete dead end.

It will take an independent mass social movement to exercise the necessary force to abolish this kind of financial fraud. When the streets are regularly filled with millions united in protest accompanied by strike action aimed at helping the vast majority of working people, the roadblocks to reform are pulverized.

The Libor scandal points out the need for fundamental change in the banking system. While there will be some fines imposed and tweaks made, they will not even begin to clean the rot. The problem is that the interests of the bank owners are the polar opposite from the interests of workers and society in general. Their profit is our loss. You can’t control a system you do not own. The banks need to be placed under public ownership and their current private owners locked out.

Mark Vorpahl is an union steward, social justice activist, and writer for Workers’ Action – www.workerscompass.org. He can be reached at [email protected]  

GRTV: West Attempts to Destabilize Syrian Government

August 7th, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Imperialismo olimpionico

August 7th, 2012 by Manlio Dinucci

Tra le squadre alle Olimpiadi di Londra ce n’è una multinazionale, formata da giornalisti che, allenati da coach politici, eccellono in tutte le discipline della falsificazione. La medaglia d’oro va ai britannici, primi nello screditare gli atleti cinesi, descritti come «imbroglioni, scherzi della natura, robot». Un secondo dopo che la nuotatrice Ye Shiwen ha vinto, la Bbc ha insinuato il dubbio del doping. Il Mirror parla di «brutali fabbriche di addestramento», in cui gli atleti cinesi vengono «costruiti come automi» con tecniche «ai limiti della tortura», in cui vengono creati «atleti geneticamente modificati». La medaglia d’argento va al Sole 24 Ore che, tramite l’inviata Colledani, descrive così gli atleti cinesi: «La stessa faccia squadrata, la stessa concentrazione militaresca, fotocopia l’uno dell’altro, macchine senza sorriso, automi senza eroismo», creati da una catena di produzione che «sforna ragazzini come bulloni», costringendoli alla scelta «piuttosto che fame e povertà, meglio disciplina e sport». C’è nostalgia a Londra dei bei tempi andati, quando nell’Ottocento i cinesi venivano «scientificamente» descritti come «pazienti, ma pigri e furfanti»; quando gli imperialisti britannici inondavano la Cina col loro oppio, dissanguandola e asservendola; quando, dopo che le autorità cinesi ne proibirono l’uso, la Cina fu costretta con la guerra a cedere alle potenze straniere (tra cui l’Italia) parti del proprio territorio, definite «concessioni»; quando all’entrata del parco Huangpu, nella «concessione» britannica a Shanghai, c’era il cartello «Vietato l’ingresso ai cani e ai cinesi». Liberatasi nel 1949, la nuova Cina, non essendo riconosciuta dagli Usa e dai loro alleati, venne di fatto esclusa dalle Olimpiadi, alle quali poté partecipare solo nel 1984. Da allora è stato un crescendo di successi sportivi. Non è però questo a preoccupare le potenze occidentali, ma il fatto che la Cina sta emergendo come potenza in grado di sfidare il predominio dell’Occidente su scala globale. Emblematico che perfino le uniformi della squadra Usa alle Olimpiadi siano made in China. Dal 1914 saranno usate solo quelle made in America, ha promesso il Comitato olimpico Usa, organizzazione «non profit» finanziata dalle multinazionali. Che, con le briciole di quanto ricavano dallo sfruttamento delle risorse umane e materiali di Asia, Africa e America latina, finanziano il reclutamento di atleti da queste regioni per farli gareggiare sotto la bandiera a stelle e strisce. La Cina invece considera «lo sport come una guerra senza uso di armi», accusa il Mirror. Ignorando che la bandiera olimpica è stata issata da militari britannici, che hanno usato le armi nelle recenti guerre di aggressione. La Cina è l’ultima ad avere «atleti di stato», accusa Il Sole 24 Ore. Ignorando che, dei 290 olimpionici italiani, ben 183 sono dipendenti statali in veste di membri delle forze armate, poiché solo queste (per una precisa scelta politica) permettono loro di dedicarsi a tempo pieno allo sport. Tale sistema, secondo il ministro Di Paola, «si fonda su un’etica condivisa, caratteristica dell’appartenenza ad un corpo militare così come ad un gruppo sportivo». Forse quella effettuata in Libia l’anno scorso non è stata una guerra, ma la preparazione alle Olimpiadi, simbolo di pace.

Global Research Editor’s Note

This carefully researched article by Amy Worthington was first published by Global Research in June 2004 ( http://globalresearch.ca/articles/WOR406A.html). We are reposting it with a view to encouraging debate on the issue of Chemtrails.

North America is now suffering its seventh year of conspicuous and dangerous aerosol and electromagnetic operations conducted by the U.S. government under the guise of national security. Concerned citizens watch in fear as military tankers discolor the skies with toxic chemicals that morph into synthetic clouds.

We continually witness bizarre meteorological occurrences as powerful electromagnetic devices manipulate both the jet stream and individual storm fronts to create artificial weather and climatic conditions. Black operations projects embedded within these aerosol missions are documented to sicken and disorient select populations with biological test agents and psychotronic mind/mood control technologies.

Part of what is happening in the atmosphere above us involves the Pentagon’s secret space weapons program, designed for strategic, operational and tactical levels of war. NASA missions will soon be transferred to Pentagon control.1 The Air Force Space Command declares that, in order to monitor and shape world events, it must fight intense, decisive wars with great precision from space.2 Air Force Secretary James G. Roche has stated: “Space capabilities are integrated with, and affect every link in the kill chain.”3

A glimpse into new death technologies under construction is in legislation introduced by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinch. His unsuccessful Space Preservation Act of 2001 was intended to ban space deployment of:4

* electronic, psychotronic and information weaponry

* high altitude ultra low frequency weapons

* plasma, electromagnetic, sonic and ultrasonic weapons

* laser weapons

* strategic, theater, tactical or extraterrestrial weapons

* chemical biological, environmental climate or tectonic weapons

* chemtrails (this item was stricken from a later version, suggesting duress)

In their quest to remain top dog in the kill chain, the purveyors of perpetual war have deliberately dimmed earth’s life-giving sunlight,5 and reduced atmospheric visibility with lung-clogging particulates and polymers.6 This ecological terrorism has severely compromised public health, according to thousands of testimonials. Years of mass appeals to legislators, media and military officials for information, and for cessation of catastrophic atmospheric degradation, have fallen on deaf bureaucratic ears. Public awareness of what befalls us remains as murky as our skies because those “in the know” are muzzled by national secrecy laws and Americans have no authority to challenge matters of national security. Left to gather clues, we know this much so far:

1. At least part of the aerosol project has been dubbed Operation Cloverleaf,7 probably due to its multi-faceted operations, which include: weather modification, military communications, space weapons development, ozone and global warming research plus biological weaponry and detection testing.

2. Dumping tons of particulate matter from aircraft has geo-engineered our planetary atmosphere into a highly charged, electrically-conductive plasma useful for military projects.8 The air we breathe is laden with asbestos-sized synthetic fibers and toxic metals, including barium salts, aluminum, and reportedly, radioactive thorium.9 These materials act as electrolytes to enhance conductivity of military radar and radio waves.10 Poisonous on par with arsenic and a proven suppressant of the human immune system,11 atmospheric barium weakens human muscles, including those of the heart.12 Inhaled aluminum goes directly to the brain and medical specialists confirm that it causes oxidative stress within brain tissue, leading to formation of Alzheimer’s like neurofibrillary tangles.13 Radioactive thorium is known to cause leukemia and other cancers.14

3. Only a small percentage of the military’s atmospheric modification projects are visibly obvious. What we can’t see is equally dangerous. The ionosphere, the earth and its inhabitants are continually bombarded with high frequency microwaves used to manipulate the charged atmosphere for weather modification, information gathering and for tectonic (earthquake-producing) weaponry.15 Independent chemtrail researcher Clifford Carnicom confirms that we are also continuously subjected to extremely low electromagnetic frequencies (ELF) pulsing at 4 hertz multiples, frequencies known to profoundly affect human biological and mental functioning.16

4. There is a well-documented biological component to continuously ongoing atmospheric studies in which nations and regions are furtively inoculated via specially designed delivery systems with combinations of viruses, bacteria, fungi, mycoplasma, desiccated blood cells and exotic biological markers so that testmasters can assess human, animal and plant response.17

5. The multi-organizational megalith perpetrating these bio-chem projects against humanity includes the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and its research arm DARPA, plus the Department of Energy (DOE) with its huge network of national labs and universities. Private defense contractors and pharmaceutical companies are heavily involved.18 Cooperating governments of other nations and probably some United Nations agencies are complicit, since the aerosol projects are global in scope.

Gross chemical and electromagnetic pollution is only part of the horrific realities we endure. The sociopaths who brazenly pervert skies, climate and weather for power and profit are the same madmen who have waged four limited nuclear wars since 1991. Radioactive weaponry, declared both illegal and immoral by the entire civilized world, has been used by the Pentagon in Desert Storm, the Balkans campaign and the on-going occupation-wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. Few Americans understand the extent of carnage inflicted in their name across the planet.

By scientific definition, the missiles, tank penetrators and bunker busting bombs unleashed against Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. and British forces in the so-called war on terror are nuclear weapons.19 Refuse from radioactive weaponry does not disperse, but remains in the atmosphere organotoxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic to all living flesh for 4.5 billion years.

Inhabitants of the Pentagon’s two newly “liberated” nations are now slowly dying of radiation and heavy metal poisoning. Victims of U.S. weaponry used in Afghanistan have a concentration of non-depleted uranium isotopes in their bodies never before seen in civilian populations.20 Tons of depleted and non-depleted uranium contaminating their land, air, food and water guarantee their painful demise. Using data from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), nuclear scientist Leuren Moret calculates that the estimated 2,500+ tons of depleted uranium used against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 is sufficient to cause 25 million new cancers.21 Is it a coincidence that the population of Iraq, according to the CIA, is 25 million?

The quarter million U.S. and British fighting forces who have helped the Pentagon deliver this holocaust also face inevitable radiological death by slow burn. Rotated into atomic war zones since 2001, coalition troops have inhaled and ingested millions of tiny invisible ceramic uranium particles which emit alpha, beta and gamma radiation as they embed in lungs, kidneys, blood, lymph and bone.22 Radiation exposure to a single internalized U-238 (uranium) alpha particle is 50 times the allowable whole body dose for one year under international standards.23 As U-238 decays into daughter isotopes, it becomes ever more radioactive, causing cell and organ destruction to escalate over time.24 Uranium contamination leads to incapacitating, multi-organ system disorders identical to illnesses suffered by thousands of Gulf War I vets. Bodily fluids poisoned with uranium isotopes sicken spouses and visit upon offspring a genetic Armageddon.25

Who knows what a disabled and prematurely dying military population will mean to future stability and safety of USA? Yet Senator Chuck Hagel (R- Neb.) now demands that America provide more fodder for its atomic battlefields by reinstating the military draft so that “all of our citizens…bear some responsibility and pay some price” in order to “understand the intensity of the challenges we face.”26

Despite disingenuous denials that biological harm will result from atomic warfare,27 the Pentagon knows full well the gruesome realities of uranium weaponry by virtue of its own voluminous studies spanning 60 years. Pentagon documents confirm that America’s war establishment knowingly exposes its own troops to dangerous levels of radiation.28 The resulting illness of those now returning from the war zones is already making headlines.29

Because our military-industrial overlords brazenly poison the very grunts who make their war games possible, we must logically conclude there is virtually nothing they would not secretly and sadistically do to the rest of us. Military officials lie as perniciously about chemtrail operations30 as they do about effects of DU weaponry. If people were to consider the published science regarding chemtrails and DU, they would understand that we are all in mortal jeopardy.

Both the Pentagon’s aerosol operations and its limited nuclear wars are deeply interconnected. We can trace the beginnings of Operation Cloverleaf right to the Strangelove brain of Dr. Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and proponent of nuking inhabited coast lines to rearrange them for economic projects.31 Before he died in 2003, Teller was director emeritus of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where plans for nuclear, biological and directed energy weapons are crafted. In 1997, Teller publicly outlined his proposal to use aircraft to scatter in the stratosphere millions of tons of electrically-conductive metallic materials, ostensibly to reduce global warming.32

Shortly after Teller’s presentation, the public began seeing frenetic chemtrailing. In 2000, CBS News admitted that scientists were “looking at drastic solutions for global warming, including manipulating the atmosphere on a massive scale.” CBS confirmed that the plan to load the air with tiny particles would “deflect enough sunlight to trigger global cooling.”33

Teller estimated that commercial aircraft could be used to spew these particles at a cost of 33 cents a pound.34 This gives credence to a report by an airline manager, forced by a compulsory non-disclosure agreement to remain anonymous, that commercial aircraft have been co-opted to assist the military in consummating Project Cloverleaf.35 A 1991 Hughes aircraft patent confirms that sunscreen particulate materials can be run through jet engines.36 A science textbook now used in some public schools discusses the sunscreen project by showing a large orange-red jet with the caption, “Jet engines running on richer fuel would add particles to the atmosphere to create a sunscreen.” The logo on the plane says “Particle Air.”37 The implications of this crucial information should not be understated. A program to make America’s millions of annual jet flights a source of specially designed particulate pollution is serious business.

Cloverleaf particles and polymers saturating the air we breathe are smaller than 10 microns (PM 10) and are invisible to the human eye. By comparison, a human hair is 60 to 100 microns in thickness. Scientists and the EPA report that because PM10 and sub-micron pollution particles bypass lung filters and enter the blood stream, they cause radical changes in the endocrine and nervous systems. 38 They can trigger high blood pressure and cause heart attack within two hours of inhalation.39 They cause the blood to become sticky, making it tougher for the heart to pump and increasing the risk of blood clots and vessel damage.40 Now researchers in Taiwan document “a significant increase” in the number of stroke victims when PM10 pollutant levels rise.41 The American Lung Association confirms that we are breathing more toxic air than ever.42 No wonder nationwide asthma rates have been soaring in recent years.43

Tiny synthetic filaments called polymers are part of the brew. In 1990, a NATO report detailed how high-flying aircraft can modify the atmosphere by spraying polymers to absorb electromagnetic radiation.44 U.S. patent number 6315213 describes how cross-linked aqueous polymers dispersed into a storm diminish rain.45

Polymer chemist Dr. R. Michael Castle has studied atmospheric polymers for years. He has found that some of them contain bioactive materials, which can cause “serious skin lesions and diseases when absorbed into the skin.”46 He has identified microscopic polymers comprised of genetically-engineered fungal forms mutated with viruses. He says that trillions of fusarium (fungus)/virus mutated spores, which secrete a powerful mico-toxin, are part of the air we breathe.47 Allergies anyone?

We can safely bet that into our particle-enriched air, experimenters are also dumping nanoparticles, developed for a variety of military and industrial uses. These engineered carbon molecules, as small as one-thousandth the diameter of human hair, display bizarre chemical properties and are known to trigger organ damage.48 A recent study at Southern Methodist University found that fish exposed to one type of nanoparticle suffered severe brain damage after only 48 hours.49

The military’s aerosol operations have been climate altering to the extreme. Air traffic is a huge source of greenhouse pollution. Increasing that traffic exponentially in order to scatter tons of heat-trapping metallic particulates and heat-liberating barium salts have undoubtedly led to accelerated global warming. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, have reached a record high this year.50 As carbon dioxide levels rise, oxygen levels decrease.

In 1996, Scientists for Global Responsibility compiled a report contending that dangerous geoengineering, as proposed by Teller and the Global Change Research Coordination Office, would be absolutely ineffective in mitigating global warming. The report noted that climate engineering research is funded by industry with a vested interest in continued high consumption of fossil fuels.51 The hair-brained scheme of particle engineering was contrived to ensure that industry polluters will never be forced to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions. But because warming and pollution trends have worsened drastically since the aerosol projects began, we must suspect that the warming mitigation program is a hoax and that chemtrailing is really intended, among other things, to create a series of “hobgoblins.”

The establishment’s modus operandi for maintaining a fierce and lucrative hold upon the collective American mind has been defined precisely by satirist H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) who wrote: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and thus clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

In The Report from Iron Mountain published in 1967, just as the Pentagon’s lucrative Vietnam War was being revved into high gear, establishment braintrusters confirmed that perpetual war is absolutely vital for controlling and manipulating the masses. The document even suggested a number of options for creating fictitious enemies, noting that perpetual war induces populations to give blind allegiance to political authority.52

Since the 1930s, when the Eastern Establishment, including the Bush family, used its New York banks and oil companies to secretly fund Hitler’s German Nazi party,53 our controllers have employed FEAR, the concept of ENEMY and WAR to keep us in bondage. Chemtrailing is a manifestation of the Fourth Reich, an era of corporate fascism ushered in by a powerful military juggernaut, which manufactures enemies and unleashes fake terror attacks to scare us into voiceless submission.

Both Saddam Hussein and the al Queda networks have long been nourished with U.S. government and corporate funding and groomed by U.S. military and corporate advisors to play useful roles as “enemies.”54  Former German Technology Minister Andreas von Bulow recently confirmed on U.S. radio that hijacked planes were able to fly around the eastern U.S. on 9/11 unimpeded by military interdiction because those attacks were part of a carefully-orchestrated “covert operation” designed to coerce America into perpetual conflict with the Muslim world.55

Now, a “secret” Pentagon report has been conveniently leaked to the media. It contends that abrupt climate change is the most fearful hobgoblin yet.56 Authored by change agents with ties to the CIA and the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, the report contends that abrupt climate change will lead to a global catastrophe of monumental proportions, including nuclear war and natural disasters, as whole nations disappear beneath the encroaching sea and survivors fight for dwindling food, water and energy supplies.

Yet the Pentagon has been involved for decades in the drastic manipulation of weather, climate and atmospheric conditions. The U.S. used a chemical agent dubbed Olive Oil during Operation Popeye to induce heavy rains in Vietnam 40 years ago.57 The Air Force document titled “Weather As a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025″ lists its weaponized agenda for creating abrupt climate change including: Storm creation and modification, fog and cloud creation, precipitation enhancement, precipitation denial, drought inducement and artificial creation of “space weather.” This document also states that the military’s radical weather modification agenda will “become a part of national security policy with both domestic and international applications.”58

Weather weapons are now routinely used in war zones. A citizen reporting from Serbia noted that during NATO operations in the Balkans, black clouds suddenly materialized out of blue skies, hailstones were the size of eggs, and surreal thunder and lightening terrified the people. He reported that scientists found that the electromagnetic field over Serbia had been punctured, causing rain systems to circumvent the region.59 In addition to manufactured drought, scientists also predict that Serbia will suffer 10,000 cancer deaths from DU weaponry used there.60

According to University of Ottawa Professor Michael Chossudovsky, the military’s High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), operating in Alaska as part of the Strategic Defense Initiative, is a powerful tool for weather and climate modification.61 Operated jointly by the U.S. Navy and Air Force, HAARP antennas bombard and heat the ionosphere, causing electromagnetic frequencies to bounce back to earth, penetrating everything living and dead.62

HAARP transmissions make holes in the ozone,63 creating yet another hobgoblin. HAARP inventor Bernard Eastlund described in his original patent how antenna energy can interact with plumes of atmospheric particles, used as a lens or focusing device, to modify weather.64 HAARP is capable of triggering floods, droughts and hurricanes, much to the chagrin of both the European Parliament and the Russian Duma.65

HAARP also generates sweeping pulses through the ULF/ELF range.66 In 2000, independent researchers monitored HAARP transmissions of 14 hertz. They found that when these signals were broadcast at high output levels, wind speeds topped 70 miles per hour. They watched as these same transmissions dispersed a huge weather front approaching the west coast from California to British Columbia. Although precipitation had been originally forecast, the front was seen shredding apart on satellite photos and rain did not materialize.67 The hobgoblin drought can be an enriching and empowering tool for certain corporate and governing entities.

HAARP is not only capable of destabilizing agricultural and ecological systems anywhere on the planet, but its effects can target select regions to affect human physical, mental and emotional responses during non-lethal warfare projects.68 HAARP frequencies beamed at specific targets can generate catastrophic earthquakes,69 exactly like the quake last December which killed thousands of people in Iran, a nemesis nation according to the Bush administration.

The Pentagon’s warning about climate catastrophe is surely nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to prepare the masses for the bizarre atmospheric upheavals we can expect as the military continues to brutalize our planet and near space with its grotesque toys. And we ain’t seen nothing yet. Dr. Eastlund and his ilk have developed plans for solar power satellites designed to modify the weather with electromagnetic beam output that dwarfs the present HAARP system.70 As abrupt climate change is increasingly orchestrated, we will surely need additional fascist agencies, an ever-growing military budget and more poison-particle projects that just happen to ensure population reduction as a side benefit.

Despite visual evidence that every aspect of our physical environment is being manipulated and damaged for war games, some Americans cannot accept that dangerous covert operations are being conducted by a government they still believe to be a virtuous defender of freedom. Their stumbling block is a numbing belief that their own officials would never perpetrate dangerous experimentation on humanity since “they have families too.” History and the release of declassified government documents disprove such naiveté.

Although “they” had families too, the U.S. government and its defense contractors exposed citizens of the northwest U.S. to huge and deliberate releases of radioactive iodine 131 from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation where plutonium was produced for nuclear bombs.71 Those Cold War releases unleashed radiation illnesses upon thousands of downwinders, some of whom received up to 350 rads of radiation when a maximum safety dose is set at .025 rads annually.72 Between 1949 and 1952, radioactive pellets, dust and particles were tested on the hapless citizens of Utah and New Mexico.73

By 1963, 1,200 nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Nevada test site had exposed every person in the U.S. to deadly radioactive fallout, causing millions of fetal deaths, spontaneous abortions, stillbirths and birth defects.74 The U.S. government also conducted over 4,000 radiation experiments on individual human test subjects without their informed consent.75 The delayed effects of decades of radiation exposure from weapons testing are today demonstrated by a U.S. population plagued with epidemic cancer and heart disease, neurological disorders, low fertility, chronic fatigue, obesity (thyroid involvement), immune system dysfunction and learning disabilities. Approximately half of all pregnancies in the U.S. result in prenatal or postnatal death or an otherwise less than healthy baby.76 As military tankers spew white chemical plumes across America at a cost of $3,448 per hour per tanker,77 we are reminded of Dr. Leonard Cole’s 1994 testimony before a Senate Committee regarding 45 years of open air testing during which military aircraft sprayed American cities with bacteria, fungus and carcinogenic chemicals.78 Between 1962-1973, the U.S. Navy conducted hundreds of bio-chem tests known as Operation SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense). SHAD projects like Autumn Gold and Copper Head exposed 10,000 navy personnel to aircraft spray laden with biological and chemical warfare agents, including sarin nerve gas.79 The cocktails used in those genocidal “tests” are now linked to cancer, heart and lung problems suffered by surviving guinea pigs.

We are told that defense officials perpetrated these atrocities so that scientists could learn about how to “protect” Americans from attack. So why, in the late 80s, would our “protectors” fall all over themselves to supply Saddam Hussein’s war machine with 90 shipments of chemical and biological weaponry, including sarin, anthrax, botulism, brucella and West Nile Virus?80

It will likely be years before Americans are told what is being tested upon them during our present chemtrail/space wars era. The Hanford downwinders did not learn until 1986 what had been unleashed upon them some 30 years earlier; SHAD victims filed suit in 2003 to learn the extent to which they were intentionally exposed to dangerous substances in the 60s.

To understand how our nation has arrived at this doomsday corruption, we must recall that immediately after WWII ended, the U.S. government initiated Operation Paperclip through which a large number of German Nazi scientists were imported to the United States. Once issued new identities, these death industry pros were employed in U.S. military laboratories to develop a dazzling array of secret weaponry projects.81 With congressional funding, the crowning achievement of this nexus was the creation of ghastly new bioweapons, including the AIDS virus82 and an incapacitating chronic fatigue agent engineered from mycoplasma and brucella.83

The military is empowered to continue lethal experimentation by devious wording of Section 1520a Chapter 32 of U.S. Code Title 50. The law states that the Secretary of Defense may NOT conduct any chemical or biological test or experiment on civilian populations, unless such tests are for medical, therapeutic, pharmaceutical, agricultural, industrial purposes or for research in general or for protection against weapons or for law enforcement purposes, including riot control. So DOD may not use us for guinea pigs, unless it is for any “good” reason under the sun! The law states that human subjects must give informed consent. But a nasty loophole in Section 1515 of Chapter 32 allows informed consent to be suspended by executive order during a period of national emergency, a situation under which this nation perpetually labors by deliberate hobgoblin design.

Few American test rats realize that the Pentagon’s boys in Congress have now:

* appropriated millions of dollars for the manufacture and testing of new “mini nukes” and bunker buster bombs.84

* authorized the DOE to resume nuclear testing in Nevada.85

* exempted DOD and DOE from landmark environmental laws in the development of these new weapons.86

America’s 70,000 nuclear weapons manufactured since 1945 are not sufficient! As DOE gears up to develop and test fourth-generation nukes, numerous reports continue to surface about the agency’s sordid corruption and mismanagement. DOE’s habitual cover-up of site contamination and its devious efforts to downplay serious illnesses suffered by many of its nuclear workers are among recent scandals.87

When new “low yield” nuclear weapons (defined as being smaller than 5 kilotons) are tested in Nevada, downwinders might like to know that a mini .5 kiloton nuclear warhead would have to burrow 150 feet to eliminate atmospheric fallout. No weapon yet developed can penetrate more than 40 feet into the earth. A tested nuclear warhead that burrows to only 40 feet will throw a million cubic feet of radioactive debris into the atmosphere.88

The Pentagon’s new nuke era is in the capable hands of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has so ably presided over the pre-emptive nuclear incineration of Middle Eastern Muslims. Rumsfeld has never adequately explained why his Department was unable to defend the Pentagon building despite a full hour’s notice that hijacked planes were in the air. Should Rumsfeld be replaced due to the Pentagon’s Iraqi torture scandal, we are assured that his Bush-appointed successor will share his have-nuke-will-travel ideology.

Working closely with Rumsfeld is a coven of pro-nukers, including his advisor Keith Payne, a vocal advocate of pre-emptive nuclear war. Payne has written that an “intelligent” nuclear offensive launched by the U.S. would result in only 20 million U.S. casualties, “a level compatible with national survival and recovery.”89

Now that we have tied together the historical and political realities for which we mindlessly wave our flags, we still hope that sufficient numbers of American lab rats will miraculously awaken from their collective stupor and take stock of our appalling situation. After all, rodents have a notoriously short life span and are always killed when no longer useful to those conducting research. The irony of this horror story is that we rats are being plundered to finance our own demise. Our national debt of 7.2 trillion grows by $1.8 billion a day.90 The Pentagon cannot account for $2.3 trillion of its shadowy transactions.91 The radioactive operations in Iraq are costing $3.7 billion a month, those in Afghanistan $900 million a month.92 No one knows how many $billions are being flushed into Operation Cloverleaf and other hobgoblin projects. The U.S. spends $11,000 per second on weapons, according to calculations of celebrated author William Thomas.93

So, while we await the great awakening, have a wonderful, barium-dried summer under a synthetic tarpaulin of aluminum-white, particle-laden, electrically-charged aviation scum that passes for sky. Endure well your respiratory and ocular difficulties while staring at huge oily sun rings and smeary sundogs, the patent signature of chemical assault. Don’t forget to salute and click your heels when you see tanker formations patriotically saturating the atmosphere with such a dense, micro-particulate brew that they cast black shadows alongside or ahead of themselves.

As you witness the noxious drama in the skies, remember, it’s all just part of the “kill chain.”

NOTES

1. “USAF Plans to Utterly Dominate, Rule Space,” Joel Bleifuss, editor of In These Times.com, 9-14-03.

2. Almanac 2000, Journal of the Air Force Association, May 2000, Vol. 83.

3. Roche’s “kill chain” statement was made during his October 2002 speech at the Conference on the Law and Policy Relating to National Security Activities in Outer Space.

4. “Pentagon Preps for War in Space,”Noah Shachtman, http://www.wirednews.com , 2-20-04.

5. “The Theft of Sunlight,” Clifford Carnicom, 10-25-03: “…Measurements show a rapid reduction in the transmission of sunlight from a value of 97% on a ‘clear day’ to the lower level of approximately 80% during the early stages of heavy aerosol operations….The absorption and displacement of this solar energy into environmental, military, biological and electromagnetic operations represents a theft of the natural and divine rights of the inhabitants of this planet.” www.carnicom.com .

6. “Visibility Standards Changed,” Clifford Carnicom, 3-30-01: “It will be noted that in October of 1997, a change in the reporting system of visibility data was reduced from a former maximum of 40 miles to a limit of 10 miles. It is a reasonable question to ask as to why that change was made, and whether or not it was made in anticipation of…large scale aircraft aerosol operations over large scale geographic regions.” http://www.carnicom.com .

7. “A Meeting,” Clifford Carnicom, 7-26-03. See http://www.carnicom.com .

8. “Atmospheric Conductivity,” Clifford Carnicom, 7-09-01, http://www.carnicom.com .

9. For facts on barium toxicity, see Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, September 1995. For references on barium related to chemtrails, see www.carnicom.com for the following articles: “Barium Tests are Positive,” Clifford Carnicom, 5-10-04; “Sub-micron Particulates Isolated,” Carnicom, 4-26-04; “Barium Affirmed by Spectroscopy,” Clifford Carnicom, 11-1-2000; “Electrolysis and Barium,” Carnicom, 5-27-02; “Rainwater Metals,” Carnicom, 7-30-01; “Barium Identification Further Confirmed,” Carnicom, 11-28-00.

10. “The Plasma Frequency: Radar Applications,” Clifford Carnicom, 11-05-01; See http://www.carnicom.com .

11. “Functional heterogeneity in the process of T lymphocyte activation; barium blocks several modes of T-cell activation, but spares a functionally unique subset of PHA-activable T cells,” Clinical Experimental Immunology, Pecanha and Dos Reis, May 1989.

12. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Safety Data Sheet.

13. Aluminum Toxicity, Barbara Barnett, MD, 11-26-02. See http://www.emedicine.com .

14. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, July 1999; For information on thorium in chemtrails: “The Methodic Demise of Natural Earth,” Dr. Mike Castle, 3-27-04, http://www.willthomas.net .

15. Angels Don’t Play This HAARP, Nick Begich and Jeane Manning, 1995; “HAARP: Vandalism in the Sky?” Begich and Manning, Nexus Magazine, January 1996.

16. “Elf Radiation is Confirmed,” Clifford Carnicom, 11-17-02; “Elf Disruption & Countermeasures,” Clifford Carnicom 11-27-02; “A Proposal of Cascading Resonance,” Clifford Carnicom, 4-21-03. See http://www.carnicom.com for these and numerous other frequency studies; also “Electromagnetic Waves Linked to Children’s Brain Tumor,” Kyodo News Service, 6-8-03.

17. Death In the Air, Global Terrorism and Toxic Warfare, Leonard G. Horowitz, Tetrahedron Publishing Group, 2001; “Military Conducting Biological Warfare in Washington,” 12-12-97, www.rense.com; Probing the Chemtrails Conundrum, William Thomas, Essence Publications, 2000, http://www.willthomas.net .

18. For a comprehensive list of those involved in Operation Cloverleaf and associated projects, see: “Chemtrails–Top Intel, Military, and Defense Contractors Watching Carnicom.com,” rense.com, 1-12-00. Among agencies most interested in opposition to chemtrail projects is the United States Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute associated with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. See: “The Monitors of JGI,” Clifford Carnicom, March 17, 2003, carnicom.com. 19. The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War– A paper presented at the World Depleted Uranium Weapons Conference at the University of Hamburg, October 16-19, 2003, Dr. Leuren Moret. Dr. Moret is a former staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Her work is highly documented with scientific papers.

20. Uranium Medical Research Centre, “Afghan Field Trip #2 Report,” November 2002; http://www.umrc.com ; also “Astoundingly High Afghan Uranium Levels Spark Alert,” Alex Kirby, BBC News Online, 5-23-03.

21. Moret, op. cit.

22. “Medical Effects of Internal Contamination with Uranium,” Dr. Asaf Durakovich, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C. March 1999. Volume 40, No. 1

23. Moret, op. cit.

24. “Contamination of Persian Gulf War Veterans and Others By Depleted Uranium,” Leonard A. Dietz, 2-21-99.

25. Durakovich, op cit; Dietz, op. cit. Moret, op. cit.

26. “Republican Senator: Bring Back the Draft,” World Net Daily, 4-20-04.

27. “Pentagon’s Uranium Denial,” New York Daily News, 4-27-04; “Pentagon: Uranium Didn’t harm N.Y. Unit,” Associated Press, 5-3-04. “Pentagon-Depleted Uranium No Health Risk,” Dr. Doug Rokke; 3-15-03. Dr. Rokke was an U.S. Army DU expert (1991-1995) and he confirms that the Pentagon is lying about DU risks.

28. Documents in which the hazards of uranium and depleted uranium exposure are discussed include: U.S. Army Training Manual STP-21-1-SMCT: Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks; “Health Effects of Depleted Uranium,” David E. McClain, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI) Bethesda, Maryland; Marine Corp Memo Concerning DU (unclassified) 9-8-90; US Army Training Video, U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project video: Depleted Uranium Hazard Awareness, 1995; “Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination,” General Accounting Office, January 1993; Office of the Secretary of Defense, Memorandum from Bernard Rostker to chiefs of all military branches re: Depleted Uranium Ammunition Training, 9-09-97.

29. “Soldiers Believe Depleted Uranium Cause of Illnesses,” Associate Press, 4-9-04; “Poisoned?” Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News, 4-4-04. Other stories in this series are: “Inside Camp of Troubles” and “Army to Test N.Y. Guard Unit.”

30. “Air Force Increases Rank of Lie,” letter by Walter M. Washabaugh, Colonel, USAF, denying the existence of chemtrails, received by e-mail on May 22, 2001 and posted at http://www.carnicom.com by Clifford E Carnicom, May 22 2001.

31. Begich and Manning, op. cit. p. 51.

32. Global Warming and Ice Ages: Prospects for Physics-Based Modulation of Global Change, Edward Teller and Lowell Wood, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, prepared for invited presentation at the International Seminar On Planetary Emergencies, Erice, Italy, August 20-23, 1997; also “The Planet Needs a Sunscreen,” Wall Street Journal, 10-17-97.

33. CBS News Eye on America Report : Cooling the Planet in two parts: 1-15-01 and 1-16-01.

34. Teller and Wood, op. cit.

35. “An Airline Manager’s Statement,” Posted by C.E. Carnicom on behalf of the author, 5-22-00. Quote: “The few airline employees who were briefed on Project Cloverleaf were all made to undergo background checks, and before we were briefed on it we were made to sign non-disclosure agreements which basically state that if we tell anyone what we know we could be imprisoned….They told us that the government was going to pay our airline, along with others, to release special chemicals from commercial aircraft….When we asked them why didn’t they just rig military aircraft to spray these chemicals, they stated that there weren’t enough military aircraft available to release chemicals on such a large basis as needs to be done….Then someone asked why all the secrecy. The government reps then stated that if the general public knew that the aircraft they were flying on were releasing chemicals into the air, environmentalist groups would raise hell and demand the spraying stop.”

36. US patent 5003186; Stratospheric Welsbach Seeding for Reduction of Global Warming, Hughes Aircraft Company, issued March 26, 1991.

37. Secondary school text book: Science I Essential Interactions, published by Centre Point Learning, Inc. of Fairfield, Ohio. See “Chemtrail Sunscreen Taught in Schools,” William Thomas, http://www.willthomas.com .

38. “Dirty Air and High Blood Pressure Linked,” Reuters Health, 3-31-01; “Bad Air Worsens Heart Trouble: Study Blames Particulates for Many Sudden Deaths,” Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2000.

39. “Tiny Air Pollutants In the Air May Trigger Heart Attacks,” John McKenzie, ABC News 6-21-01, u .

40. “Air Pollution ‘Increases Stroke Risk,’” BBC News, 10-10-2003.

41. Ibid.

42. “Americans Breathing More Polluted, Toxic Air Than Ever,” Natalie Pawelski, CNN Environmental Unit, http://www.cnn.com .

43. Asthma Statistics, www.getasthmahelp.org; “Asthma Deadly Serious,” Spokesman Review, 7-6-97; www.asthmainamerica.com .

44. NATO paper: “Modification of Tropospheric Propagation Conditions,” May, 1990.

45. US patent 6,315,213 (Cordani) issued November 13, 2001.

46. “Chemtrails, Bio-Active Crystalline Cationic Polymers,” Dr. Mike Castle, 7-14-03 See u .

47. Ibid.

48. “Nanoparticles Toxic in Aquatic Habitat, Study Finds,” Rick Weiss, Washington Post, 3-29-04.

49. Ibid.

50. “Greenhouse Gas Level Hits Record High,” 3-22-04, http://www.NewScientist.com .

51. Climate Engineering: A Critical Review of Proposals, Scientists for Global Responsibility, School of Environmental Sciences, UEA, Norwich NR47TJ, November 1996.

52. Lewin L. C et al. Report from Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace, New York: The Dial Press, 1967.

53. Trading With the Enemy, Charles Higham, Delacorte Press, 1983; Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, Antony Sutton, 1976; “IBM Sued by Holocaust Lawyers –100 other US Firms Targeted for Nazi Links,” Paterson and Wastel, The Telegraph, UK, 2-18-0l; “Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi Collaboration,” Michael Dobbs, Washington Post, 11-30-98; “How the Bush Family Made Its Fortune From the Nazis,” John Loftus, 7-2-02, http://www.rense.com . (John Loftus was a U.S. Department of Justice Nazi War Crimes prosecutor.)

54. This is a “Google project” that can fill volumes. Go to Google and type “CIA and al Queda,” then “CIA and Saddam.” Do the same with “Carlyle Group” for information on the Bush family’s shady dealings with the “enemy.”

55. Former German Defense Minister Confirms CIA Involvement in 9/11: Alex Jones Interviews Andreas von Bulow, 2-17-21, http://www.apfn.net

56. “Pentagon Tells Bush: Climate Change Will Destroy Us,” Mark Townsend and Paul Harris, The Observer, UK 2-24-04; “Climate Collapse, The Pentagon’s Weather Nightmare Could change Radically and Fast,” David Stipp, Fortune Magazine, 2-9-04.

57. The Dead Farmer’s Almanac, Who Really Controls the Weather? Jim Larranaga, Priority Publications, 2001.

58. Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather In 2025, June 17, 1996. This report was produced by directive from the chief of staff of the Air Force.

59. “Very Weird Weather in Serbia, What’s Happening?” Goran Pavlovic, 10-30-03, rense.com.

60. “The Secret Nuclear War,” Eduardo Goncalves, The Ecologist, 3-22-01.

61. “Washington’s New World Order Weapons Have the Ability to Trigger Climate Change,” Center for Research on Globalization, Professor Michael Chossudovsky, University of Ottawa, January 2001.

62. “HAARP: Vandalism in the Sky?” Nick Begich and Jeane Manning, Nexus Magazine, December 1995.

63. Ibid.; also Castle, op. cit. Dr. Castle presents information on how HAARP punches massive holes in the open-air column ozone and how the Air Force then uses toxic chemicals to “patch” the holes it has created: Dr. Castle says: “Welsbach seeding and ozone hole remediation sciences utilize chemistries that are toxic to humans and the environment.”

64. “HAARP: Vandalism in the Sky?” Begich and Manning; Researcher David Yarrow is quoted as saying that Earth’s axial spin means that HAARP bursts are like a microwave knife producing a “long tear–an incision” in the multi-layer membrane of ionospheres that shield the Earth’s surface from intense solar radiation.

65. U.S. HAARP Weapon Development Concerns Russian Duma, Interfax News Agency, 8-10-02.

66. HAARP Update, Elfrad Group, http://elfrad.org/2000/Haarp2.htm    6-27-00.

67. “14 Hertz Signal Suppresses Rainfall, Induces Violent Winds,” 10-25-00, Newshawk Inc.; “When the Army Owns the Weather–Chemtrails and HAARP,” Bob Fitrakis, 2-13-02: In this article HAARP inventor Bernard Eastlund is quoted on how HAARP can affect the weather: “Significant experiments could be performed. The HAARP antenna as it is now configured modulates the auroral electrojet to induce ELF waves and thus could have an effect on the zonal winds.” Find this article with search engine at http://www.rense.com .

68. Angels Don’t Play This HAARP, Begich and Manning, op. cit.

69. Ibid.

70. “Space Based Weather Control: The ‘Thunderstorm Solar Power Satellite,’ ” Michael Theroux. See www.borderlands.com/spacewea.htm .

71. “After 12-year Wait for Trial, Downwinders Losing Hope,” Spokesman Review, 5-18-03; also “Hanford Plaintiffs Seek Details,” Spokesman Review, 4-2-04.

72. “Hanford Put Area At Risk: Spokane, North Idaho Were Exposed to Significant Radiation,” Spokesman Review,” April 22, 1994.

73. “Sick Century,” Eduardo Goncalves, The Ecologist, 11-22-01.

74. Moret, op. cit. “The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War” contains excellent statistics on the U.S. health ramifications of Cold War nuclear weapons testing and includes references to numerous scientific papers which document this tremendous damage to the national health.

75. Undue Risk, Secret State Experiments on Humans, Jonathan D. Moreno, Freeman & Co. 1999: Moreno was a senior staff member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments which completed in 1995 its studies of horrific U.S. government radiation experiments conducted since World War II.

76. Information reported by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine in a 2000 study titled: Scientific Frontiers in Developmental Toxicology, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology.

77. “Trouble With Tankers,” William Thomas, http://www.willthomas.net .

78. Testimony by Dr. Leonard A. Cole before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, May 6, 1994; also Clouds of Secrecy, The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas, Leonard A. Cole, Rowman & Littlefield, 1988.

79. “Secret Germ Warfare Experiments?” CBS News, 5-15-2000; “Pentagon to Reveal Biowarfare Tests,” CBS News, 9-20-2000; “US Navy Sprayed BioWarfare Chemtrails on Its Own Ships and Men,” NewsMax.com, 7-8-00; “Sailors: ‘We Were Used,’ ” Florida Today, 1-31-03.

80. Senate Banking Committee Report 103-900 (Riegle Report) issued May 25, 1994. This 551-page document contains a comprehensive list of biological and chemical warfare agents shipped to Saddam by U.S. companies under purview of the U.S. Commerce Department for use against Iran during the Iran-Iraq war in the late 80s during the regime of George Bush Sr.

81. Moreno, op.cit. “To this day few Americans know about the special top-secret program that brought German scientists to the United States after World War II, and fewer still know that their number included medical scientists. Code-named Operation Paper Clip…hundreds of ‘specialists’ …entered the United States under Joint Chiefs’ protection, avoiding regular immigration procedures and requirements…It is hard to escape the conclusion that many of the German recruits were for decades important consultants on a myriad of military-medical projects.”

82. Emerging Viruses: Aids and Ebola, Dr. Len Horowitz, Tetrahedron Inc., 1996.

83. The Brucellosis Triangle, Donald W. Scott, Chelmstreet Publishers, 1998.

84. “Bush Signs Bill for New Generation Nuclear Weapons,” rense.com, 12-2-03. The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2004 allocates millions for new nuclear weapons and bolsters readiness for new weapons testing at the Nevada nuclear test site.

85. Ibid.

86. “House Approves Pentagon Wish List–Bill Includes Military Exemptions From Environmental Laws,” Nick Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 11-8-03.

87. “DOE Count of Worker Injuries Inaccurate,” Spokesman Review, 3-28-04; also “Book Alleges Cover-up at Nuclear Site,” Spokesman Review 3-28-04; also DOE Has Record of Broken Promises, editorial, 4-11-04.

88. “Kennedy Warns on Nuclear Tests,” Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk , 4-30-03.

89. “Rumsfeld’s Dr. Strangelove,” Fred Kaplan, MSN.com, 5-12-03.

90. “Bush Drives the Nation Towards Bankruptcy,” Peter Eavis, The American Conservative, 2-15-04.

91. The War on Waste, 1-29-02, cbsnews.com.

92. “Money for Iraq Fight Running Out,” The Australian 2-12-04 These figures are from U.S Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker.

93. “Fight of the Century,” William Thomas, http://www.willthomas.net .

“Slow Democracy”

August 7th, 2012 by David Swanson

Susan Clark and Woden Teachout’s new book, “Slow Democracy,” offers the civil equivalent to slow food. The goal of both is not slowness for its own sake, but quality, health, sustainability, and the pursuit of happiness.

We all know that the federal government ignores us most of the time, state governments nod in our direction once in a blue moon, and local governments listen to us quite often. So, there is an argument to be made for moving decision-making powers to the local level and engaging there.

The focus of Clark and Teachout’s book is on how to engage with local democracy, and toward what ends. Adversarial campaigning may not work. What gets you on television at a Congressional “town hall” could just alienate your neighbors at a real town hall. A deeper understanding of democracy than just the desire for Washington, D.C., to follow majority opinion once in a while involves the realization that we are all better off if all of our viewpoints are considered. We all know that in small discussions the result can be greater than the sum of its parts. The same is true in local politics. New ideas can arise through exchange and disagreement; a synthesis that considers the needs of more than one group can be better for all, longer-lasting, and strengthened by the depth of its public support.

Seeking to engage with others and involve those who disagree with us looks like a disastrous approach to those who work on political advocacy at the national level (except Democrats, to whom it looks like a brilliant innovation guaranteed to work on the very next attempt). Treating national officials like friends will usually get you sold down the river. When we were occupying Washington, D.C., last fall and holding consensus-based eternal dialogues in the shadow of the Capitol, we were excellent and improving at the skill of deciding which building we would shut down tomorrow or who was going to help make dinner. But saying just a few words out loud, no matter how politely, in a “public” hearing on Capitol Hill would only serve to get us thrown in jail, and often did.

Worse, however, than trying to take slow democracy national may be trying to take national politics local. A town hall in a small town in Vermont can be ruined by following the proper conduct to get yourself on Fox News or CNN. Shouting and name calling don’t usually advance discussions outside of politics. Why should they be helpful within it? “Slow Democracy” looks at numerous examples from around the country and outside of it in which local governments are finding ways to more deeply involve residents in deliberations and even decision making. The results are not just decisions that carry broader support, but also in many respects better decisions.

Why can this be done locally and not on a larger scale? The right wing fears big government and the left big corporations, the two of which have merged. Both fears are very well placed. Centralization and privatization both disempower us. Representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives strive today to “represent” about 700,000 people each. If a so-called representative met with his or her constituents, 100 at a time, that would be 7,000 meetings. If they crammed in three meetings per day, it would still take almost 7 years just to get through those meetings once, with no holidays, and no time to go to Washington and do anything. For senators from many states it’s many times worse. Add to that the problem that our elected officials are bought and paid for by their campaign funders and largely subservient to one of two political parties, and you’ve got a recipe for “democracy” instead of democracy.

The buyers of our governments find it easier and less expensive to buy state and federal officials. When the feds preempt state laws, the number of governments that need to be bought drops from 51 to 1. When states preempt local laws, a similar effect is achieved. Were we to force more power down to the local level through creative and aggressive local legislating, there would be a risk of seeing financial interests try to take us on there. But they would have a harder time of it. People don’t always believe that black is white, even if their television says so, when the black is right in front of them. Sound bytes aren’t as powerful when they go up against in-depth discussion.

But do we want power to go local? Ideally wouldn’t we have good federal laws? Isn’t this a next-best-thing proposed in desperation? I’m not so sure. Most of what the federal government does should not be done at all, at any level. A majority of federal discretionary spending goes into the crime of war. We don’t need that locally or at any level; we need it eliminated. Federal bailouts for banks, and regressive tax policies, and corporate trade agreements, and welfare for oil and coal companies are all worth ending, not mending. Sure, the federal government has pushed some states in a better direction on some issues, but usually while holding other states back. Some states want to deprive their people of healthcare, and the feds won’t let them. Other states want to provide their people with better healthcare less expensively through a nonprofit system, and the feds won’t let them, or at least have made it extremely difficult.

Civil rights is the unavoidable example of the feds stepping in for the better, but it’s an example both marred by the federal government’s historical responsibility for the problem and misleading as a guide for all politics at all times. Indeed, the notion that without federal power the states would become racist police states may be steering us in just the wrong direction. Let’s not forget that our federal government spends a majority of our tax dollars waging war on non-white countries. Some model!

Which ultimately did more for LGBT rights in the United States, the example of a civil unions law in Vermont, or a U.S. President belatedly expressing his support for rights he failed to enact? Which would do more for healthcare, the example of a universal nonprofit system in Vermont or a continued bitter feud over a corporate bailout healthcare bill widely denounced as socialism? Which would advance the worst-off state in any policy area most quickly, the example set by other states able to innovate, or waiting for Godot to govern from our Corporate Capital? It’s at least a question worth considering.

Maybe in the end the left and right can meet. Call it a corporate bailout or call it socialism, federal policy — on healthcare, the military, trade, energy — is worthy of the highest form of denunciation. Use your favorite terminology, but the relevant and accurate description may simply be TOO BIG.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

 

Syrian PM “Defection” Another PR Stunt

August 6th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

PM was only in office since June 2012 – had been planning “defection” for at least as long based on battlefield before “Damascus Volcano” fizzled.

Hailed by the Western press and its impressionable readers worldwide as the “latest blow to Assad,” the departure of Syria’s Prime Minister Riad Hijab followed a mere 2 months in office. Hijab had been Syria’s agricultural minister since April of 2011, and only just recently was advanced to prime minister in June after recent elections were held in May 2012.


Image: Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab was in office for only 2 months before allegedly “defecting.” According to an aide, he had been planning his departures “for months” meaning his decision was not based on current events in Syria – events that have decidedly seen NATO’s momentum blunted after brazen terrorist attacks in Damascus and Aleppo were rolled back by a resilient Syrian Army. 
….
According to Hijab’s aide, the “defection” was planned “for months,” indicating that Hijab had apparently made his decision either upon becoming prime minister, or even beforehand – and that his decision to do so was not based on current events unfolding in Damascus or Aleppo, but on the lay of the battlefield “months” ago.

Months ago, NATO and its militant extremist front, the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” were preparing for “Operation Damascus Volcano.” Had Hijab become aware of the operation – an operation the Syrian government clearly knew about and was preparing for – the decision to escape being targeted in the operation by quietly agreeing to defect, might have been very tempting.

Speculation aside, Hijab’s preparations to leave would have inevitably caught the attention of the Syrian government, jeopardizing his future prospects regardless of how “Operation Damascus Volcano” turned out. For Hijab, NATO and its FSA proxies failed to materialize the momentum they sought with the assassination of top Syrian officials and militant attacks on Damascus and Aleppo, meaning that the government Hijab had quietly turned against would be in power significantly longer than expected.

Additionally, the brevity of  Hijab’s premiership precluded his ability to provide any meaningful tactical or operational capacity to solving Syria’s current crisis, even if he possessed the capability of doing so. His loss, for whatever reason, will ultimately be of little consequence inside Syria, and serve only a muted role in boosting morale for NATO’s terrorist front on and around the Turkish-Syrian border, and the West’s sagging, morally bankrupt propaganda campaign abroad.

What are “international obligations? Does the United States have to uphold them along with other counties? Does Washington even know they are defined as “obligations owed by states to the international community as a whole, intended to protect and promote the basic values and common interests of all.” By this very definition, no one state can decide what’s best for all.

When the United States stepped up its sanctions on Iran last past week, it cited Iran’s failure to adhere to its “international obligations.” There was, of course, no reference to domestic politics where President Obama, under attack from adversary Mitt Romney, criticized his failure to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Romney did so in Israel hoping to curry favor and donations from Jewish voters. Scholars like Juan Cole found the exercise distasteful for many reasons:

“There is a convention in US politics that you don’t criticize the sitting president, even if you are an opposition politician, while on foreign soil. Romney clearly intends to slam President Obama while in Israel.

It is distasteful that Romney is clearly holding the event in some large part to please casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who first bankrolled Newt Gingrich and now is talking about giving $100 million to elect Romney. Adelson is a huge supporter of far rightwing Likud Party Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and published a free newspaper in Israel to support all things Bibi all the time. Adelson is under investigation for allegedly bribing Chinese officials in Macau in reference to his casino empire there. Since Adelson is potentially an agent of Chinese influence and is a partisan of one of Israel’s most rightwing parties, Romney’s indebtedness to him is disturbing.

It is distasteful to have Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu interfering in an American domestic election by openly favoring Romney over Obama.”

Distasteful or not, Obama’s response was to show he can be unilaterally tougher on Iran by strengthening sanctions by executive order, based on Iran’s alleged failure to uphold its international obligations.”

Ben Rhodes, a top US official said: Where we certainly agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu is on the fundamental question that we have not yet seen the Iranian government make a decision to come in line with their international obligations.

So we share very much the assessment of the Israeli government and Prime Minister Netanyahu that the purpose of the sanctions is to change the calculus of the Iranian government with respect to their nuclear program.”

“And until they make that decision, we need to continue to increase the pressure,” Rhodes said.

Ok, how do you decode this not so diplomatic language? What is Washington really saying. and on what basis?

It is saying, or claiming, or suggesting while not categorically proving that Iran is in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a treaty that, unmentioned, Israel refuses to sign and has not adhered to.

With The White House, in full campaign mode, and attacking Iran (to deter more attacks by Romney, and further placate Israel) the authoritative Congressional Research Service is on record as recently as June 26 in a report on this very issue titled, “Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations,” that Iran may not be in violation at all.

Concludes Paul K. Kerr, their analyst in nonproliferation:

“Whether Iran has violated the NPT is unclear. The treaty does not contain a mechanism for determining that a state-party has violated its obligations. Moreover, there does not appear to be a formal procedure for determining such violations. An NPT Review Conference would, however, be one venue for NPT states-parties to make such a determination.

The U.N. Security Council has never declared Iran to be in violation of the NPT; neither the council nor the U.N. General Assembly has a responsibility to adjudicate treaty violations.”

This all gets more bizarre because just as one branch of the US government implicitly questions the conclusions of another branch, the same thing is happening in the military command in Israel.

Read this:

“IDF chief Benny Gantz has further confirmed the outright reluctance of the Israeli military to attack Iran, a position that goes directly counter to that of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Channel 10?s Immanuel Rosen reported about an allegedly off the record conversation (possibly with Rosen himself), in which Gantz said that the Israeli home front was not prepared for the Iranian response to an Israeli attack. He added that such a military strike would have a “limited effect” on Iran.”

At the same time, posturing and preparations for an attack continue. The Atlantic Magazine says there is now a 38% chance of an attack. Others in Israel are still being belligerent. In response, Iran’s President has repeated his verbal criticisms of Zionism. (These are invariably conflated in some western media, and pro-Israeli propaganda outlets as evidence of an imminent militarily threat of extermination.)

So which side of this issue does President Obama come down on? What facts does he select to support his actions?

He choses those that enhance his tough-guy credentials for political reasons.
In fact, facts have mostly nothing to do with the war or words. It’s all about politics and perception, or whatever his campaign believes will be most helpful this week.

“International obligations” are what they say they are. There’s noting international about that.

Meanwhile. Iran is continuing with talks, as PressTV reports: “A senior Iranian official says the Islamic Republic and the six major world powers (P5+1) will proceed with their multifaceted talks to eventually achieve “positive and constructive” results.” It also supported former UN chief Kofi Annan’s mediation mission in Syria and blames the US for its breakdown

Iran says it believes only diplomacy can solve the problem and has already accused Israel of “faking intelligence” to justify an attack.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that Iranian-American author Hooman Majid says sanctions are “turning into a form of collective punishment” against people in Iran. He blames some U.S. media outlets, more than the Administration, as pushing for war.

“…. the administration is not trying to prepare the public for war and is not manipulating the media, which is actually the ironic thing because in some ways they’re trying to step back a bit … it’s the media this time that has just jumped on this idea that we’re going to go to war.

And I certainly think there’s an influence from the Israeli media and the Israeli propaganda machine, which is very powerful and permeates the American media all the time. I think there is a concerted effort on (their) part to prepare people, particularly Americans, that it’s a righteous war.”

One international obligation the public needs most is for all sides and especially the media to start telling the truth. That may be harder to achieve than to get governments to act in to uphold their “international obligations, whatever they are.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net. His latest books are Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street, and Blogothon (Cosimo Books). He hosts a show on ProgressiveRadioNetwork (PRN.fm) This essay first appeared on PressTV. Comments to [email protected]

Iran and Everything Else

August 6th, 2012 by Michael Parenti

Occasionally individuals complain that I fail to address one subject or another. One Berkeley denizen got in my face and announced: “You leftists ought to become aware of the ecological crisis.” In fact, I had written a number of things about the ecological crisis, including one called “Eco-Apocalypse.” His lack of familiarity with my work did not get in the way of his presumption.

Years ago when I spoke before the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in New York, the moderator announced that she could not understand why I had “remained silent” about the attempt to defund UNESCO. Whatever else I might have been struggling with, she was convinced I should have joined with her in trying to save UNESCO (which itself really was a worthy cause).

People give me marching orders all the time. Among the most furiously insistent are those fixed on 9/11. Why haven’t I said anything about 9/11? Why am I “a 9/11 denier.” In fact, I have written about 9/11 and even spoke at two 9/11 conferences (Santa Cruz and New York), raising questions of my own.

Other people have been “disappointed” or “astonished” or “puzzled” that I have failed to pronounce on whatever is the issue du jour. No attention is given by such complainers to my many books, articles, talks, and interviews that treat hundreds of subjects pertaining to political economy, culture, ideology, media, fascism, communism, capitalism, imperialism, media, ecology, political protest, history, religion, race, gender, homophobia, and other topics far too numerous to list. (For starters, visit my website: www.michaelparenti.org)

But one’s own energy, no matter how substantial, is always finite. One must allow for a division of labor and cannot hope to fight every fight.

Recently someone asked when was I going to “pay some attention” to Iran. Actually I have spoken about Iran in a number of interviews and talks—not to satisfy demands made by others but because I myself was moved to do so. In the last decade, over a five year period, I was repeatedly interviewed by English Radio Tehran. My concern about Iran goes back many years. Just the other day, while clearing out some old files, I came across a letter I had published over 33 years ago in the New York Times (10 May 1979), reproduced here exactly as it appeared in the Times:

To the Editor of the New York Times:

For 25 years the Shah of Iran tortured and murdered many thousands of dissident workers, students, peasants and intellectuals. For the most part, the U.S. press ignored these dreadful happenings and portrayed the Shah as a citadel of stability and an enlightened modernizer.

Thousands more were killed by the Shah’s police and military during the popular uprisings of this past year. Yet these casualties received only passing mention even though Iran was front-page news for several months. And from 1953 to 1978 millions of other Iranians suffered the silent oppression of poverty and malnutrition while the Shah, his family, and his generals grew ever richer.

Now the furies of revolution have lashed back, thus far executing about 200 of the Shah’s henchmen—less than what the Savak would arrest and torture on a slow weekend. And now the U.S. press has suddenly become acutely concerned, keeping a careful account of the “victims,” printing photos of firing squads and making repeated references to the “repulsion” and “outrage” felt by anonymous “middle-class” Iranians who apparently are endowed with finer sensibilities than the mass of ordinary people will bore the brunt of the Shah’s repression. At the same time, American commentators are quick to observe that the new regime is merely replacing one repression with another.

So it has always been with the recording of revolutions: the mass of nameless innocents victimized by the ancien régime go uncounted and unnoticed, but when the not-so-innocent murderers are brought to revolutionary justice, the business-owned press is suddenly filled with references to “brutality” and “cruelty.”

That anyone could equate the horrors of the Shah’s regime with the ferment, change and struggle that is going on in Iran today is a tribute to the biases of the U.S. press, a press that has learned to treat the atrocities of the U.S.-supported right-wing regimes with benign neglect while casting a stern self-righteous eye on the popular revolutions that challenge such regimes.

Michael Parenti
Washington, D.C.

There is one glaring omission in this missive: I focused only on the press without mentioning how the White House and leading members of Congress repeatedly had hailed the Shah as America’s sturdy ally—while U.S. oil companies merrily plundered Iran’s oil (with a good slice of the spoils going to the Shah and his henchmen).

A few years before the 1979 upheaval, I was teaching a graduate course at Cornell University. There I met several Iranian graduate students who spoke with utter rage about the Shah and his U.S.-supported Savak secret police. They told of friends being tortured and disappeared. They could not find enough damning words to vent their fury. These students came from the kind of well-off Persian families one would have expected to support the Shah. (You don’t make it from Tehran to Cornell graduate school without some money in the family.)

All I knew about the Shah at that time came from the U.S. mainstream media. But after listening to these students I began to think that this Shah fellow was not the admirably benign leader and modernizer everyone was portraying in the news.

The Shah’s subsequent overthrow in the 1979 revolution was something to celebrate. Unfortunately the revolution soon was betrayed by the theocratic militants who took hold of events and created their Islamic Republic of Iran. These religious reactionaries set about to torture and eradicate thousands of young Iranian radicals. They made war upon secular leftists and “decadent” Western lifestyles, as they set about establishing a grim and corrupt theocracy.

U.S. leaders and media had no critical words about the slaughter of leftist revolutionaries in Iran. If anything, they were quietly pleased. However, they remained hostile toward the Islamic regime. Why so? Regimes that kill revolutionaries and egalitarian reformists do not usually incite displeasure from the White House. If anything, the CIA and the Pentagon and the other imperial operatives who make the world safe for the Fortune 500 look most approvingly upon those who torture and murder Marxists and other leftists. Indeed, such counterrevolutionaries swiftly become the recipients of generous amounts of U.S. aid.

Why then did U.S. leaders denounce and threaten Iran and continue to do so to this day? The answer is: Iran’s Islamic Republic has other features that did not sit well with the western imperialists. Iran was-—and still is—a “dangerously” independent nation, unwilling to become a satellite to the U.S. global empire, unlike more compliant countries. Like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran, with boundless audacity, gave every impression of wanting to use its land, labor, markets, and capital as it saw fit. Like Iraq—and Libya and Syria—Iran was committing the sin of economic nationalism. And like Iraq, Iran remained unwilling to establish cozy relations with Israel.

But this isn’t what we ordinary Americans are told. When talking to us, a different tact is taken by U.S. opinion-makers and policymakers. To strike enough fear into the public, our leaders tell us that, like Iraq, Iran “might” develop weapons of mass destruction. And like Iraq, Iran is lead by people who hate America and want to destroy us and Israel. And like Iraq, Iran “might” develop into a regional power leading other nations in the Middle East down the “Hate America” path. So our leaders conclude for us: it might be necessary to destroy Iran in an all-out aerial war.

It was President George W. Bush who in January 2002 cited Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.” Iran exports terrorism and “pursues” weapons of mass destruction. Sooner or later this axis would have to be dealt with in the severest way, Bush insisted.

These official threats and jeremiads are intended to leave us with the impression that Iran is not ruled by “good Muslims.” The “good Muslims”—as defined by the White House and the State Department—are the reactionary extremists and feudal tyrants who ride high in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirate, Bahrain, and other countries that provide the United States with military bases, buy large shipments of U.S. arms, vote as Washington wants in the United Nations, enter free trade agreements with the Western capitalist nations, and propagate a wide-open deregulated free-market economy.

The “good Muslims” invite the IMF and the western corporations to come in and help themselves to the country’s land, labor, markets, industry, natural resources and anything else the international plutocracy might desire.

Unlike the “good Muslims,” the “bad Muslims” of Iran take an anti-imperialist stance. They try to get out from under the clutches of the U.S. global imperium. For this, Iran may yet pay a heavy price. Think of what has been happening to Iraq, Libya, and now Syria. For its unwillingness to throw itself open to Western corporate pillage, Iran is already being subjected to heavy sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. Sanctions hurt the ordinary population most of all. Unemployment and poverty increase. The government is unable to maintain human services. The public infrastructure begins to deteriorate and evaporate: privatization by attrition.

Iran has pursued an enriched uranium program, same as any nation has the right to do. The enrichment has been low-level for peaceful use, not the kind necessary for nuclear bombs. Iranian leaders, both secular and theocratic have been explicit about the useless horrors of nuclear weaponry and nuclear war.

Appearing on the Charlie Rose show when he was visiting the USA, Iranian president Ahmadinejad pointed out that nuclear weapons have never saved anyone. The Soviet Union had nuclear weapons; was it saved? he asked. India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons; have they found peace and security? Israel has nuclear weapons: has it found peace and security? And the United States itself has nuclear weapons and nuclear fleets patrolling the world and it seems obsessively preoccupied with being targeted by real or imagined enemies. Ahmadinejad, the wicked one, sounded so much more rational and humane than Hillary Clinton snarling her tough-guy threats at this or that noncompliant nation.

(Parenthetically, we should note that the Iranians possibly might try to develop a nuclear strike force—not to engage in a nuclear war that would destroy Iran but to develop a deterrent against aerial destruction from the west. The Iranians, like the North Koreans, know that the western nuclear powers have never attacked any country that is armed with nuclear weapons.)

I once heard some Russian commentators say that Iran is twice as large as Iraq, both in geography and in population; it would take hundreds of thousands of NATO troops and great cost in casualties and enormous sums of money to invade and try to subdue such a large country, an impossible task and certain disaster for the United States.

But the plan is not to invade, just to destroy the country and its infrastructure through aerial warfare. The U.S. Air Force eagerly announced that it has 10,000 targets in Iran pinpointed for attack and destruction. Yugoslavia is cited as an example of a nation that was destroyed by unanswerable aerial attacks, without the loss of a single U.S. soldier. I saw the destruction in Serbia shortly after the NATO bombings stopped: bridges, utilities, rail depots, factories, schools, television and radio stations, government-built hotels, hospitals, and housing projects—a destruction carried out with utter impunity, all this against a social democracy that refused to submit to a free-market capitalist takeover.

The message is clear. It has already been delivered to Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, and many other countries around the world: overthrow your reform-minded, independent, communitarian government; become a satellite to the global corporate free-market system, or we will pound you to death and reduce you to a severe level of privatization and poverty.

Not all the U.S. military is of one mind regarding war with Iran. While the Air Force can hardly contain itself, the Army and Navy seem lukewarm. Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, actually denounced the idea of waging destruction upon “80 million Iranians, all different individuals.”

The future does not look good for Iran. That country is slated for an attack of serious dimensions, supposedly in the name of democracy, “humanitarian war,” the struggle against terrorism, and the need to protect America and Israel from some future nuclear threat.

Sometimes it seems as if U.S. ruling interests perpetrate crimes and deceptions of all sorts with a frequency greater than we can document and expose. So if I don’t write or speak about one or another issue, keep in mind, it may be because I am occupied with other things, or I simply have neither the energy nor the resources. Sometimes too, I think, it is because I get too heavy of heart.

Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He is one of the nation’s leading progressive political analysts. His highly informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad.

Growing Signs of a Global Economic Slump

August 6th, 2012 by Nick Beams

The impact of the continuing crisis of the euro zone is spreading outwards through the global economy, bringing signs of a gathering world slump.

In the United States, the announcement that jobs had increased by 163,000 last month was greeted as the sign of an uptick, but the unemployment rate increased from 8.2 to 8.3 percent even as the number of people in the labour force fell by 150,000. In the longer term, even if the economy continues to grow, the rate of expansion will not be sufficient to bring down unemployment levels.

In a recent update on the US economy, the International Monetary Fund said it would grow at a “tepid pace” of around only 2 percent. Already the US is experiencing the worst “recovery” of any period since World War II and, according to the IMF, “the outlook remains difficult.”

The IMF warned that the US faced “negative risks” stemming from a “further deterioration of the euro debt crisis,” which would lower the demand for exports and impact on financial markets. The economy would also be hit by any failure to reach an agreement on raising the US debt ceiling.

The head of the IMF US team, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, said “fiscal consolidation”—cuts in government spending—combined with a fall in household credit would continue to slow the US “recovery” in the near future, and that the “US contribution to global demand will be lower than what we saw before the financial crisis.”

The continued expansion of the Chinese economy played a major role in lifting the world economy out of recession in 2008-2009, but it will not be able to play the same role in the future.

Recent data show that the Chinese economy grew by 7.6 percent for the second quarter, the slowest pace in three years, amid numerous indications that the rate could fall further. One of the key factors in sustaining the Chinese economy after the financial crisis of 2008 was the fiscal stimulus provided by the government—estimated to be more than $500 billion—and the increased credit provided by the banks. But these policies are not likely to be repeated.

Prior to the financial crisis, the major imbalance in the Chinese economy was its trade surplus. Today the current account surplus is a third of what it was in 2007. However, a new imbalance has emerged, with the economy heavily dependent on investment, which is now running at around 50 percent of gross domestic product, and consumption spending at just 35 percent.

The Chinese economy and Asian economies more broadly are being heavily impacted not only by the slow growth in the US but also by the crisis in Europe. “The problems in Asia that are causing the slowdown come predominantly from outside the region,” Rob Subbaraman, chief economist for Asia at Nomura in Hong Kong, told Reuters. “Europe is bigger than the US as an export market for most Asian countries and it’s a bigger investor in the region.”

Operating on low profit margins, Chinese firms, especially those in manufacturing, are being hard hit by the slowdown in growth. Chinese steel companies have recorded a 96 percent plunge in their profits for the first half of the year, turning the sector into what one industry newspaper described as a “disaster zone.” Zhu Jimin, chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association, said that the weakening demand for steel had been brought on by “a big drop in investments in property and also in railways, cars and ships” in the first half of the year.

The downturn extends throughout manufacturing, with profits at the state-owned enterprises, still a major component of the Chinese economy, falling 11.6 percent in the first six months of the year, the worst showing since the eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008.

The official factory purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 50.1 points in July, down from 50.2 in June, the lowest level in eight months. The figures showed that while factory output had expanded slightly—anything above 50 indicates growth—new orders and exports experienced a decline.

The slump in manufacturing is steepest in Europe, where the Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to 44 in July, down from 45.1 in June, to reach its lowest level since June 2009. Significantly, the decline is not confined to the debt-ridden countries. Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said the rates of decline for Germany and France were the fastest for more than three years.

Britain has now entered its second recession in four years, with the economy contracting by 0.7 percent in the June quarter, largely due to government spending cuts and the turmoil in the euro zone. The fall in the Markit PMI for the UK to 45.4 in July points to a further decline.

Markit economist Rob Dobson commented: “The domestic market shows no real signs of renewed life, while hopes of exports charting the course to calmer currents were hit by our main trading partner, the euro zone, still being embroiled in its long-running political and debt crises.” Companies have scaled back their operations to the levels reached in March 2009 in the midst of the global financial crisis.

A measure of the overall global situation was provided by the JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI. It fell to 48.4 in July from its level of 49.1 in June. JPMorgan said more jobs losses could be on the way. “Recent cost reductions are providing some respite, but this will be of little long-term benefit if underlying demand fails to pick up,” a spokesman for the company warned.

The fall in economic activity to levels not seen since the recession that followed the eruption of the financial crisis in 2008 is significant in itself. But the situation is even more serious given the fact that all the measures aimed at providing economic stimulus since then, including the trillions of dollars handed out to the banks, have failed to provide any lasting solution. In no country do the ruling financial and political elites have any policies capable of bringing about an economic upturn. On the contrary, they are all focused on intensifying their attacks on the social position of the working class.

Chemical Warfare: Agent Orange in Vietnam

August 6th, 2012 by Jeanne Mirer

AUGUST 10, 2012, AT NOON: 51 YEARS AFTER THE CHEMICAL WAR BEGAN IN VIETNAM, WE SHOULD BE SILENT IN MEMORY, THEN TAKE ACTION TO REMEDY

To take action go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org/  

There are images from the U.S. War against Vietnam that have been indelibly imprinted on the minds of Americans who lived through it. One is the naked napalm-burned girl running from her village with flesh hanging off her body. Another is a photo of the piles of bodies from the My Lai massacre, where U.S. troops executed 504 civilians in a small village. Then there is the photograph of the silent scream of a woman student leaning over the body of her dead friend at Kent State University whose only crime was protesting the bombing of Cambodia in 1970. Finally, there is the memory of decorated members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War testifying at the Winter Soldier Hearings, often in tears, to atrocities in which they had participated during the war.

These pictures are heartbreaking. They expose the horrors of war. The U.S. War against Vietnam was televised, while images of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have intentionally been hidden from us. But what was not televised was the relentless ten years (1961-1971) of spraying millions of gallons of toxic herbicides over vast areas of South Vietnam. These chemicals exposed almost 5 million people, mostly civilians, to deadly consequences. The toxic herbicides, most notably Agent Orange, contained dioxin, one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen (causes cancer) and by the American Academy of Medicine as a teratogen (causes birth defects).

From the beginning of the spraying 51 years ago, until today, millions of Vietnamese have died from, or been completely incapacitated by, diseases which the U. S. government recognizes are related to Agent Orange for purposes of granting compensation to Vietnam Veterans in the United States. The Vietnamese, who were the intended victims of this spraying, experienced the most intense, horrible impact on human health and environmental devastation. Second and third generations of children, born to parents exposed during the war and in areas of heavy spraying — un-remediated “hot spots” of dioxin contamination, — suffer unspeakable deformities that medical authorities attribute to the dioxin in Agent Orange.

The Vietnamese exposed to the chemical suffer from cancer, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity, and skin and nervous disorders. Their children and grandchildren have severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases, and shortened life spans. The forests and jungles in large parts of southern Vietnam were devastated and denuded. Centuries-old habitat was destroyed, and will not regenerate with the same diversity for hundreds of years. Animals that inhabited the forests and jungles are threatened with extinction, disrupting the communities that depended on them. The rivers and underground water in some areas have also been contaminated. Erosion and desertification will change the environment, causing dislocation of crop and animal life.

For the past 51 years, the Vietnamese people have been attempting to address this legacy of war by trying to get the United States and the chemical companies to accept responsibility for this ongoing nightmare. An unsuccessful legal action by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies in U.S. federal court, begun in 2004, has nonetheless spawned a movement to hold the United States accountable for using such dangerous chemicals on civilian populations. The movement has resulted in pending legislation HR 2634 – The Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011, which attempts to provide medical, rehabilitative and social service compensation to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, remediation of dioxin-contaminated “hot spots,” and medical services for the children and grandchildren of U. S. Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese-Americans who have been born with the same diseases and deformities.

Using weapons of war on civilian populations violates the laws of war, which recognize the principle of distinction between military and civilian objects, requiring armies to avoid civilian targets. These laws of war are enshrined in the Hague Convention and the Nuremberg principles, and are codified in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Optional Protocol of 1977, as well as the International Criminal Court statute. The aerial bombardments of civilian population centers in World Wars I and II violated the principle of distinction, as did the detonation of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9 of 1945. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese people were killed in an instant, even though Japan was already negotiating the terms of surrender.

The use of Agent Orange on civilian populations violated the laws of war and yet no one has been held to account. Taxpayers pick up the tab of the Agent Orange Compensation fund for the U. S. Veterans at a cost of 1.52 billion dollars a year. The chemical companies, most specifically Dow and Monsanto, which profited from the manufacture of Agent Orange, paid a pittance to settle the veterans’ lawsuit to compensate them, as the unintended victims, for their Agent Orange related illnesses. But the Vietnamese continue to suffer from these violations with almost no recognition, as do the offspring of Agent Orange-exposed U.S. veterans and Vietnamese-Americans.

What is the difference between super powers like the United States violating the laws of war with impunity and the reports of killing of Syrian civilians by both sides in the current civil war? Does the United States have any credibility to demand governments and non-state actors end the killings of civilians, when through wars and drones and its refusal to acknowledge responsibility for the use of Agent Orange, the United States has and is engaging in the very conduct it publicly deplores?

In 1945, at the founding conference of the United Nations, the countries of the world determined:

to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

If we are to avoid sinking once again into the scourge of war, we must reaffirm the principles of the Charter and establish conditions under which countries take actions that promote rather than undermine justice and respect for our international legal obligations. The alternative is the law of the jungle, where only might makes right. It is time that right makes might.

August 10th marks 51 years since the beginning of the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam. In commemoration, the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign urges you to observe 51 seconds of silence at 12 noon, to think about the horrors of wars which have occurred. We ask you to take action so as not to see future images of naked children running from napalm, or young soldiers wiping out the population of an entire village, or other atrocities associated with war, poverty, and violence around the world. We urge you to take at least 51 seconds for your action. In the United States, you can sign an orange post card to the U.S. Congress asking it to pass HR 2634. This would be a good start to assist the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange as well as the next generations of those exposed to these dangerous chemicals in both Vietnam and the United States.

Jeanne Mirer, a New York attorney, is president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. They are both on the board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign.

To sign the petition, go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org/  

Is America the World’s Largest Sponsor of Terrorism?

August 6th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

American Officials Admit that the U.S. Is a Huge Sponsor of Terrorism

The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom - noted:

Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.

Odom also said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

(audio here).

The FBI station chief for Los Angeles – Ted Gundersen – said that most terror attacks are committed by our CIA and FBI:


Wikipedia notes:

Chomsky and Herman observed that terror was concentrated in the U.S. sphere of influence in the Third World, and documented terror carried out by U.S. client states in Latin America. They observed that of ten Latin American countries that had death squads, all were U.S. client states.

***

They concluded that the global rise in state terror was a result of U.S. foreign policy.

***

In 1991, a book edited by Alexander L. George [the Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University] also argued that other Western powers sponsored terror in Third World countries. It concluded that the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.

Some in the American military have intentionally tried  to “out-terrorize the terrorists”.

As Truthout notes:

Both [specialists Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber] say they saw their mission as a plan to “out-terrorize the terrorists,” in order to make the general populace more afraid of the Americans than they were of insurgent groups.

In the interview with [Scott] Horton, Horton pressed Stieber:

“… a fellow veteran of yours from the same battalion has said that you guys had a standard operating procedure, SOP, that said – and I guess this is a reaction to some EFP attacks on y’all’s Humvees and stuff that killed some guys – that from now on if a roadside bomb goes off, IED goes off, everyone who survives the attack get out and fire in all directions at anybody who happens to be nearby … that this was actually an order from above. Is that correct? Can you, you know, verify that?

Stieber answered:

“Yeah, it was an order that came from Kauzlarich himself, and it had the philosophy that, you know, as Finkel does describe in the book, that we were under pretty constant threat, and what he leaves out is the response to that threat. But the philosophy was that if each time one of these roadside bombs went off where you don’t know who set it … the way we were told to respond was to open fire on anyone in the area, with the philosophy that that would intimidate them, to be proactive in stopping people from making these bombs …”

Terrorism is defined as:

The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

So McCord and Stieber are correct: this constitutes terrorism by American forces in Iraq.

The U.S. has been supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorists in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Libya, Syria and Iran.

(The U.S. has also directly inserted itself into a sectarian war between the two main Islamic sects, backing the Sunnis and attacking the Shiites. See this, this and this.  Because Saudi Arabia is the seat of the most radical sect of Islam – Wahhabism- the U.S. unquestioning support of the Saudis  is indirectly supporting terrorism.)

Torture – which the U.S. has liberally used  during the last 10 years – has long been recognized as a form of terrorism.

Wikipedia notes:

Worldwide, 74% of countries that used torture on an administrative basis were U.S. client states, receiving military and other support to retain power.

Of course, some would say that the American policy of assassination – especially using drone strikes on people whose identity isn’t even known – is a form of terrorism. And see this and this.

Some Specific Examples …

The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people’s support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism.

As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: “You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security” (and see this)(Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred).

As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960′s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

Nine months earlier, a false flag attack was discussed in order to justify an invasion of the Dominican Republic. Specifically, according to official State Department records, Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles wrote on June 3, 1961:

The Vice President [Lyndon Johnson], [Attorney General] Bob Kennedy, Secretary [of Defense Robert] McNamara, Dick Goodwin [who was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs], [head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General Lemnitzer, Wyn Coerr, and Ted Achilles were here. Bob McNamara and Lemnitzer stated that under the terms of the contingency paper, they were required to be prepared to move into the island on short order if required to do so, and this, in their opinion, called for substantially more troops that we had in the area. After some discussion we considered two more aircraft carriers, some destroyers, and 12,000 marines should be moved into a position some one hundred miles off the Dominican Republic shore…

The tone of the meeting was deeply disturbing. Bob Kennedy was clearly looking for an excuse to move in on the island. At one point he suggested, apparently seriously, that we might have to blow up the Consulate to provide the rationale.

His general approach, vigorously supported by Dick Goodwin, was that this was a bad government, that there was a strong chance that it might team up with Castro, and that it should be destroyed–with an excuse if possible, without one if necessary.

Rather to my surprise, Bob McNamara seemed to support this view …

The entire spirit of this meeting was profoundly distressing and worrisome, and I left at 8:00 p.m. with a feeling that this spirit which I had seen demonstrated on this occasion and others at the White House by those so close to the President constitutes a further danger of half-cocked action by people with almost no foreign policy experience, who are interested in action for action’s sake, and the devil take the highmost …

[At a subsequent meeting], Bob McNamara went along with their general view that our problem was not to prepare against an overt act by the Dominican Republic but rather to find an excuse for going into the country and upsetting it.

Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”

As Chris Floyd and many others have noted, this plan has gone live.

United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

There is substantial additional evidence of hanky panky in Iraq.

Syria And America’s New World Order

August 6th, 2012 by Yekaterina Kudashkina

AUDIO: Download

I think that after the crushing of the Soviet Union, the US forgot about international law, about Security Council resolutions, about all legitimacy regarding their actions. We watched these things in Kosovo, we watched these things in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in many other places in the world. I think that now the US demonstrates a unipolar approach to the solution of all hot issues in the world. I think it is a continuation of an American geopolitical game aiming at imposing on the world their will as the last judge for any problems and questions existing in our globe.

Americans look at the Russian and the Chinese position as a confrontation. So, it is confronting not only the Syrian regime, it is confronting international law, it is imposing on Russia and China new rules of the world order, that they prefer to be dominating in the 21st century in relation with the Russian Federation, with the Chinese Republic, with all the world. I think that we are witnessing new efforts of the US administration to impose on the world the new order of a power that can dominate and can give orders to other states.

Vyacheslav Matuzov, the Director of the Friendship and Business Cooperation Society with Arab countries, talks about American geopolitical plans in the Middle East.

These leaks are not unexpected acts from the American administration, because if we take into consideration that the approach to the Syrian crisis for one year and more was according to one conclusion – that behind all the Arab Spring are American geopolitical plans to overthrow unpleasant regimes in the Middle East. I think that it is unexpected only for those who were considering the Middle East revolutions as the internal business of the Arab world.

But in my opinion the United States of America helped the situation in the Arab world during one year and this is why we consider that all that is going on is based on American policy. I think that it is not an unexpected step. America helped opposition leaders with weapons, with instructions, with financing, with political and informational support. They faced the Russian position that suggested a political solution, an international, inter-Syrian dialog, but it was absolutely unclear whether this Russian suggestion for the American side is acceptable.

Now these leaks, that were not accidental, opened the door for an understanding that push puts an end to Kofi Annan’s mission. These Russian efforts to preserve the situation from a military confrontation, to put it into a framework of a political solution, cannot be realized with American rejection.

America rejects Russian efforts for a peaceful solution and prefers military actions. I think that the response to this American approach will be one of increasing military tension in Syria. And I think that Russia should put an end to its efforts to influence Syrian authorities to calm down military confrontation.

Military confrontation is not the initiative of the Syrian government; military confrontation on an increasing basis is a subject of American policy in the Middle East. So, it is not for the Russians, for the Americans to decide the behavior of the Syrian authorities. The Syrian authorities I’m sure will defend themselves and they have all opportunities to withstand this informational, political and now open military pressure on them.

But Mr. Matuzov, how legal could this move be from the point of view of international legislation, because as far as we understand the UN Security Council has never approved any assistance either to the opposition or to government forces?

I think that after the crushing of the Soviet Union, the US forgot about international law, about Security Council resolutions, about all legitimacy regarding their actions. We watched these things in Kosovo, we watched these things in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in many other places in the world. I think that now the US demonstrates a unipolar approach to the solution of all hot issues in the world. I think it is a continuation of an American geopolitical game aiming at imposing on the world their will as the last judge for any problems and questions existing in our globe.

Mr. Matuzov, this leak is a kind of unprecedented openness on the part of the US authorities which definitely have confronted staunch opposition from Russia and China in the matter of Syria. You have extensive contacts in the Arab world. So, what could this open position of the US, what implications could it have for the stance of the US in the Middle East?

Americans look at the Russian and the Chinese position as a confrontation. So, it is confronting not only the Syrian regime, it is confronting international law, it is imposing on Russia and China new rules of the world order, that they prefer to be dominating in the 21st century in relation with the Russian Federation, with the Chinese Republic, with all the world. I think that we are witnessing new efforts of the US administration to impose on the world the new order of a power that can dominate and can give orders to other states.

Could it backfire on the US?

I don’t think it will backfire on the US because the US is a great power. It is certainly. And I think that it is absolutely clear that resistance to this policy will continue. And I’m sure that the Russian position is absolutely clearly laid down by our Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who explained that events surrounding Syria are not events that concern only local or regional issues, as Mr. Lavrov said – it is a regulation of the new international law that will be dominating in the 21st century. I absolutely agree with Mr. Lavrov.

Syria And America’s New World Order

August 6th, 2012 by Yekaterina Kudashkina

AUDIO: Download

I think that after the crushing of the Soviet Union, the US forgot about international law, about Security Council resolutions, about all legitimacy regarding their actions. We watched these things in Kosovo, we watched these things in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in many other places in the world. I think that now the US demonstrates a unipolar approach to the solution of all hot issues in the world. I think it is a continuation of an American geopolitical game aiming at imposing on the world their will as the last judge for any problems and questions existing in our globe.

Americans look at the Russian and the Chinese position as a confrontation. So, it is confronting not only the Syrian regime, it is confronting international law, it is imposing on Russia and China new rules of the world order, that they prefer to be dominating in the 21st century in relation with the Russian Federation, with the Chinese Republic, with all the world. I think that we are witnessing new efforts of the US administration to impose on the world the new order of a power that can dominate and can give orders to other states.

Vyacheslav Matuzov, the Director of the Friendship and Business Cooperation Society with Arab countries, talks about American geopolitical plans in the Middle East.

These leaks are not unexpected acts from the American administration, because if we take into consideration that the approach to the Syrian crisis for one year and more was according to one conclusion – that behind all the Arab Spring are American geopolitical plans to overthrow unpleasant regimes in the Middle East. I think that it is unexpected only for those who were considering the Middle East revolutions as the internal business of the Arab world.

But in my opinion the United States of America helped the situation in the Arab world during one year and this is why we consider that all that is going on is based on American policy. I think that it is not an unexpected step. America helped opposition leaders with weapons, with instructions, with financing, with political and informational support. They faced the Russian position that suggested a political solution, an international, inter-Syrian dialog, but it was absolutely unclear whether this Russian suggestion for the American side is acceptable.

Now these leaks, that were not accidental, opened the door for an understanding that push puts an end to Kofi Annan’s mission. These Russian efforts to preserve the situation from a military confrontation, to put it into a framework of a political solution, cannot be realized with American rejection.

America rejects Russian efforts for a peaceful solution and prefers military actions. I think that the response to this American approach will be one of increasing military tension in Syria. And I think that Russia should put an end to its efforts to influence Syrian authorities to calm down military confrontation.

Military confrontation is not the initiative of the Syrian government; military confrontation on an increasing basis is a subject of American policy in the Middle East. So, it is not for the Russians, for the Americans to decide the behavior of the Syrian authorities. The Syrian authorities I’m sure will defend themselves and they have all opportunities to withstand this informational, political and now open military pressure on them.

But Mr. Matuzov, how legal could this move be from the point of view of international legislation, because as far as we understand the UN Security Council has never approved any assistance either to the opposition or to government forces?

I think that after the crushing of the Soviet Union, the US forgot about international law, about Security Council resolutions, about all legitimacy regarding their actions. We watched these things in Kosovo, we watched these things in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in many other places in the world. I think that now the US demonstrates a unipolar approach to the solution of all hot issues in the world. I think it is a continuation of an American geopolitical game aiming at imposing on the world their will as the last judge for any problems and questions existing in our globe.

Mr. Matuzov, this leak is a kind of unprecedented openness on the part of the US authorities which definitely have confronted staunch opposition from Russia and China in the matter of Syria. You have extensive contacts in the Arab world. So, what could this open position of the US, what implications could it have for the stance of the US in the Middle East?

Americans look at the Russian and the Chinese position as a confrontation. So, it is confronting not only the Syrian regime, it is confronting international law, it is imposing on Russia and China new rules of the world order, that they prefer to be dominating in the 21st century in relation with the Russian Federation, with the Chinese Republic, with all the world. I think that we are witnessing new efforts of the US administration to impose on the world the new order of a power that can dominate and can give orders to other states.

Could it backfire on the US?

I don’t think it will backfire on the US because the US is a great power. It is certainly. And I think that it is absolutely clear that resistance to this policy will continue. And I’m sure that the Russian position is absolutely clearly laid down by our Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who explained that events surrounding Syria are not events that concern only local or regional issues, as Mr. Lavrov said – it is a regulation of the new international law that will be dominating in the 21st century. I absolutely agree with Mr. Lavrov.

On August 3 the United Nations General Assembly voted on a resolution written by Saudi Arabia condemning both the government of Syria for the preponderance if not all the violence in the country and Russia and China for not conceding to Western and Persian Gulf monarchies’ demands for “regime change” in Damascus.

In an irrefutable demonstration of how the U.S. and its allies have come to dominate world affairs in the post-Cold War era, the vote was 133 in favor, 12 opposed and 31 abstaining.

The 12 nations that voted against the slightly revised resolution – references to President Bashar Assad resigning his position and new sanctions against his nation were excised – are all nations that are already or could soon be the targets of a comparable regime-change package: Internal armed insurrection supported from abroad, assorted “color revolution” scenarios, onerous and strictly politically motivated sanctions and embargoes, military threats from across their borders or from Western aircraft carriers off their coasts, travel bans and the seizure of overseas financial assets, and unrelenting information warfare conducted by all but unmatched Western media outlets.

Those 12 nations are Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

In a similar General Assembly vote in February, Ecuador voted against the anti-Syrian resolution and Myanmar did not.

The 31 nations that abstained in the recent vote are guilty of cowardice and an arrant lack of principle. Many of the 133 that voted in favor of the resolution will find that, far from securing a reprieve in becoming the next Syria, they may have hastened their own demise by endorsing a precedent that will not end with Syria. Syria made no move to oppose the war against Libya conducted by the U.S., NATO and their Persian Gulf allies last year and has now become the next Libya.

Along the lines of the fable by Aesop, the world’s nations will either bell the cat or be devoured by it one by one.

Ahead of the UN vote, Voice of Russia ran an interview with Vyacheslav Matuzov, a former diplomat and leading Russian expert on Middle East affairs, in which he spoke to this effect:

“I think that after the crushing of the Soviet Union, the U.S. forgot about international law, about Security Council resolutions, about all legitimacy regarding their actions. We watched these things in Kosovo, we watched these things in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in many other places in the world. I think that now the U.S. demonstrates a unipolar approach to the solution of all hot issues in the world. I think it is a continuation of an American geopolitical game aiming at imposing on the world their will as the last judge for any problems and questions existing in our globe.”

“Americans look at the Russian and the Chinese position as a confrontation. So, it is confronting not only the Syrian regime, it is confronting international law, it is imposing on Russia and China new rules of the world order that they prefer to be dominating in the 21st century in relation to the Russian Federation, with the Chinese Republic, with all the world. I think that we are witnessing new efforts of the U.S. administration to impose on the world the new order of a power that can dominate and can give orders to other states.”

The resolution in question contains the words “deploring the Security Council failure,” which is a reference to the unprecedented triple joint vetoes exercised by Russia and China in the Security Council against resolutions aimed at Syria last October and this February and July.

It also demands “an inclusive Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system.” This is from a draft written by Saudi Arabia.

Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari rightly denounced the resolution’s main sponsors, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, as “despotic oligarchies.”

After the vote Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was equally blunt, warning that it “will aggravate the confrontational approach to resolution of the Syrian crisis and will in no way facilitate movement of the sides toward a platform of dialogue and a search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in the interests of the Syrian people.”

He also said the resolution “is extremely one-sided and was written as if there was no armed opposition at all,” adding that “At a time when the Security Council is still dealing with this issue, it is inappropriate and contrary to the UN Charter to put to the vote draft resolutions on this issue.”

On the other side of the aisle, comments were made by the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, that are worth quoting at length for the benefit of the populations of Arab states, nominally progressive defenders of the “Syrian revolution” in the West and the world as a whole.

The Israeli official condemned the “Assad killing machine” and claimed “Assad’s Council of Terror continues to operate ruthlessly in Damascus.”

Again for anyone who believes that the General Assembly vote and its predecessors in the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council are targeted exclusively – or even primarily – at Syria, he added the absurd contention that “on Assad’s advisory board sit Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah, who offer him guidance on how to butcher the Syrian people more effectively,” in allusions to the Iranian president and the leader of Hezbollah. His accusations also included this: “The outside forces that have been instrumental in the slaughter in Syria speak in a Persian accent.”

And, he continued to rant, ”It is time for the international community to hold all three members of this ‘trio of terror’ accountable for their crimes.”

The resolution also called for the securing, perhaps the confiscation, of Syria’s chemical and biological weapons. The Israeli envoy said in regard to that demand: “We shouldn’t pretend a regime that cuts throats of children today will not be prepared to gas them tomorrow.”

The 133 supporters of the resolution have not only singled out the Syrian government for the violence in the country, but in so doing have whitewashed not only the crimes of foreign-armed rebels but those of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and its NATO allies who, moreover, slay thousands not on their own territory but on that of other nations.

Attention has been deflected from decades-long unresolved violence and injustice from Palestine to the Western Sahara in favor of portraying the Syrian government, in increasingly hysterical and bellicose tones, as the world’s ultimate bete noire in order to pave the way for Iran to fill the role next and, even more ominously, as the gravest step yet in challenging and confronting Russia and China.

Economic Sanctions on Iran: A Declaration of War

August 6th, 2012 by Dr. Ismail Salami

In continuation of the US-led illegal sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Congress passed on Wednesday night a bill, which imposes more embargoes on the country including those on the parent companies of foreign subsidiaries violating sanctions as well adding penalties for those that help Iran’s petroleum, petrochemical, insurance, shipping and financial sectors.

Immediately, US Congressman Ron Paul expressed his vociferous opposition to the new sanctions and vilified them as “an act of war”, saying that the US is marching into war with Iran.

Paul said, “There is no evidence that Iran has ever enriched uranium above 20 percent.” He also said the IAEA and CIA have determined that the Iran is not on the verge of building a nuclear weapon. “What we continue to be doing is obsess with Iran and the idea that Iran is a threat to our national security.”

The idea was somehow shared by senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati who on Friday called on people and authorities to stand united against the “economic war” waged on the Islamic Republic by foreign forces.

Sharing this line of thinking, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Mahmoud Bahmani has said that CBI considers the sanctions as a declaration of war and that a special team has been set up to deal with them dynamically. He said the economic sanctions are meant to sabotage national economy and that the CBI will thwart them rapidly and effectively.

It is transpiring gradually that a country does not need to wage a military war against another nation in an effort to paralyze it and that imposing brutal sanctions or tightening them can be well tantamount to an act of war.

The US war against Iran has already started. In fact, the US started its war long ago by imposing sanctions on the country when it was slowly recovering from the human and financial losses (roughly USD 600 billion) the Iraqi war had inflicted on the country, a war so shamelessly, vehemently and financially supported by Washington.

Later, reports revealed that the US government funneled through an Atlanta branch of Italy’s largest bank, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro over USD 4 billion to Iraq from 1985 to 1989. The money, which was supplied to the regime of the despotic Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, was used to buy military technology and arms. The CIA was reportedly privy to this gargantuan sum of money which was paid in the name of loan but concealed it from Congress. Part of the report carried by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reads: “The House Banking Committee is conducting an investigation into over $4 billion in unreported loans the former employees of the Atlanta branch of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) provided to the government of Iraq between 1985 and 1990. The Committee’s investigation has uncovered the fact that Henry Kissinger was on the International Advisory Board of BNL during that same time period and that BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates.”

The sanctions against Iran practically started under the Reagan administration in 1983 when the US government accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and opposed international loans to the country. The US imposed embargos against Iranian imports and also the sale of ‘dual use’ items.

The US narrative continued in 1995 when Washington absurdly accused Iran of pursuing weapons of mass destruction, a fairy tale which was later exploited by the Bush administration to attack Iraq in 2003 and that which was used by Washington to lend a cloak of legitimacy to its military adventurism. At any rate, US President Bill Clinton intensified sanctions against the country, banning any American involvement with the Iranian petroleum industry. In 1997, he placed a ban on US investment in Iran. To make matters worse, Clinton even goaded other countries into following suit. In view of the fact that the Iraq-imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) had inflicted inconceivable human and material losses on Iran and that the country had just started to convalesce from the lashes of the Iraqi invasion, it was more like a miracle that Iran had managed to weather this entire US-manufactured calamity for the Iranian nation.

Washington has long been making unflagging efforts to push Iran to the farthest margins of political and economic isolation even when Iran was not working on its nuclear energy program. The West has failed to understand that Iran is not a country solely dependent on oil resources. Rather, it has at its disposal myriad natural resources to rely on. Ergo, blocking Iran’s oil flow to other countries will not be so damaging to the country as the West imagines. On the contrary, such an act will surely prove irreversibly damaging to world economy; the oil prices will rocket up beyond control; the global economic security will be caught up in an unmanageable whirlpool and the rest of the world including the US and Europe will have to suffer immensely for this strategic folly.

The sanctions are nothing new and the western media flowery phrases like ‘Iran feels the pain of sanctions’, ‘The sting of sanctions begins’, ‘Iran feels the pinch of US-led sanctions’ are only meant to cater for the public taste of western audience who are now prone to see Iran through the purblind eyes of the corrupt western powers-that-be which have long entertained sinister plots for the Iranian nation.

To a critical mind, the sanctions are to be seen as a metaphorical declaration of war on Iran albeit the US and its allies will be the ones who will suffer most.

The Ascendancy of a Criminal Financial Elite

August 5th, 2012 by Prof. James Petras

“The rotten heart of finance” The Economist

“There is a degree of cynicism and greed which is really quite shocking” Lord Turner Bank of England , Financial Service Authority

Introduction

Never in the history of the United States have we witnessed crimes committed on the scale and scope of the present day by both private and state elites.

An economist of impeccable credentials, James Henry, former chief economist at the prestigious consulting firm McKinsey & Company, has researched and documented tax evasion. He found that the super-wealthy and their families have as much as $32 trillion (USD) of hidden assets in offshore tax havens, representing up to $280 billion in lost income tax revenue! This study excluded such non-financial assets as real estate, precious metals, jewels, yachts, race horses, luxury vehicles and so on. Of the $32 trillion in hidden assets, $23 trillion is held by the super-rich of North America and Europe .

A recent report by a United Nations Special Committee on Money Laundering found that US and European banks laundered over $300 billion a year, including $30 billion just from the Mexican drug cartels.

New reports on the multi-billion dollar financial swindles involving the major banks in the US and Europe are published each week. England ’s leading banks, including Barclay’s and a host of others, have been identified as having rigged the LIBOR, or inter-bank lending rate, for years in order to maximize profits. The Bank of New York, JP Morgan, HSBC, Wachovia and Citibank are among scores of banks, which have been charged with laundering drug money and other illicit funds according to investigations from the US Senate Banking Committees. Multi-national corporations receive federal bailout funds and tax exemptions and then, in violation of publicized agreements with the government, relocate plants and jobs in Asia and Mexico .

Major investment houses, like Goldman Sachs, have conned investors for years to invest in ‘garbage’ equities while the brokers pumped and dumped the worthless stocks. Jon Corzine, CEO of MF Global (as well as a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, former US Senator and Governor of New Jersey) claimed that he “cannot account” for $1.6 billion in lost client investors funds from the collapse of MF Global in 2011.

Despite the growth of an enormous police state apparatus, the proliferation of investigatory agencies, Congressional hearings and over 400,000 employees at the Department of Homeland Security, not a single banker has gone to jail. In the most egregious cases, a bank like Barclay’s will pay a minor fine for having facilitated tax evasion and engaging in speculative swindles. At the same time, the principle ‘miscreant’ in the LIBOR swindle, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Barclay’s Bank, Jerry Del Missier, will receive a severance payout of $13 million dollars.

In contrast to the ‘lax’ law enforcement practiced by the burgeoning police state with regard to the swindles of the banking, corporate and billionaire elites, it has intensified political repression of citizens and immigrants who have not committed any crime against public safety and order.

Millions of immigrants have been seized from their homes and work-places, jailed, beaten and deported. Hundreds of Hispanic and Afro-American neighborhoods have been the target of police raids, shootouts and killings. In such neighborhoods, the local and federal police operate with impunity – as was illustrated by shocking videos of the police shootings and brutality against unarmed civilians in Anaheim , California . Muslims, South Asians, Arabs, Iranians and others are racially profiled, arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted for participating in charities and humanitarian foundations or simply for attending religious institutions. Over 40 million Americans engaged in lawful political activity are currently under surveillance, spied upon and frequently harassed.

The Two Faces of the US Government: Impunity and Repression

Overwhelming documentation supports the notion that the US police and judicial system has totally broken down when it comes to enforcing the law of the land regarding crimes among the financial, banking, corporate elite.

Trillion-dollar tax-evaders, billionaire financial swindlers and multi-billionaire money launderers are almost never sent to jail. While some may pay a fine, none have their illicit earnings seized even though many are repeat criminals. Recidivism among financial criminals is rife because the penalties are so light, the profit are so high and the investigations are infrequent, superficial and inconsequential. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that $1.6 trillion was laundered, mostly in Western banks, in 2009, one fifth coming directly from the drug trade. The bulk of income from the cocaine trade was generated in North America ($35 billion), two-thirds of which were laundered in North American banks. The failure to prosecute bankers engaged in a critical link of the drug trade is not due to ‘lack of information’, nor is it due to the ‘laxness’ on the part of regulators and law enforcement. The reason is that the banks are too big to prosecute and the bankers are too rich to jail. Effective law-enforcement would lead to the prosecution of all the leading banks and bankers, which would sharply reduce profits. Jailing the top bankers would close the ‘revolving door’, the golden portal through which government regulators secure their own wealth and fortune by joining private investment houses after leaving ‘public’ service. The assets of the ten biggest banks in the US form a sizeable share of the US economy. The boards of directors of the biggest banks inter-lock with all major corporate sectors. The top and middle financial officials and their counterparts in the corporate sector, as well as their principle stockholders and bondholders, are among the country’s biggest tax evaders.

While the Security and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department and the Senate Banking Committee all make a public pretense of investigating high financial crimes, their real function is to protect these institutions from any efforts to transform their structure, operations and role in the US economy. The fines, which were recently levied, are high by previous standards but still only amount to, at most, a couple of weeks’ profits.

The lack of ‘judicial will’, the breakdown of the entire regulatory system and the flaunting of financial power is manifested in the ‘golden parachutes’ routinely awarded to criminal CEOs following their exposure and ‘resignation’. This is due to the enormous political power the financial elite exercise over the state, judiciary and the economy.

Political Power and the Demise of ‘Law and Order’

With regard to financial crimes, the doctrine guiding state policy is ‘too rich for jail, too big to fail’ , which translates into multi-trillion dollar treasury bailouts of bankrupt kleptocratic financial institutions and a high level of state tolerance for billionaire tax-evaders, swindlers and money launderers. Because of the total breakdown of law enforcement toward financial crimes, there are high levels of repeat offenders in what one British financial official describes as ‘cynical (and cyclical) greed’.

The current ‘banner’ under which the financial elite have seized total control over the state, the budget and the economy has been ‘change’. This refers to the deregulation of the financial system, the massive expansion of tax loopholes, the free flight of profits to overseas tax havens and the dramatic shift of ‘law enforcement’ from prosecuting the banks laundering the illicit earnings of drug and criminal cartels to pursuing so-called ‘terrorist states’. The ‘state of law’ has become a lawless state. Financial ‘changes’ have permitted and even promoted repeated swindles, which have defrauded millions and impoverished hundreds of millions. There are 20 million mortgage holders who have lost their homes or have been unable to maintain payments; tens of millions of middle class and working class taxpayers who were forced to pay higher taxes and lose vital social services because of upper class and corporate tax evasion. The laundering of billions of dollars in drug cartel and criminal wealth by the biggest banks has led to the deterioration of neighborhoods and rising crime, which has destabilized middle and working class family life.

Conclusion

The ascendancy of a criminal financial elite and its complicit, accommodating state has led to the breakdown of law and order, the degradation and discrediting of the entire regulatory network and judicial system. This has led to a national system of ‘unequal injustice’ where critical citizens are prosecuted for exercising their constitutional rights while criminal elites operate with impunity. The harshest enforcement of police state fiats are applied against hundreds of thousands of immigrants, Muslims and human rights activists, while financial swindlers are courted at Presidential campaign fund raisers.

It is not surprising today that many workers and middle class citizens consider themselves to be ‘conservative’ and ‘against change’. Indeed, the majority wants to ‘conserve’ Social Security, pubic education, pensions, job stability, and federal medical plans, such as MEDICARE and MEDICAID against ‘radical’ elite advocates of ‘change’ who want to privatize Social Security and education, end MEDICARE, and slash MEDICAID. Workers and the middle class demand stability of jobs and neighborhoods and stable prices against run-away inflation of medical care and education. Wage and salaried citizens support law and order, especially when it means the prosecution of billionaire tax evaders, criminal money-launderering bankers and swindlers, who, at most, pay a minor fine, issue an excuse or ‘apology’ and then proceed to repeat their swindles.

The radical ‘changes’ promoted by the elite, have devastated life for millions of Americans in every region, occupation and age group. They have destabilized family life by undermining job security while undermining neighborhoods by laundering drug profits. Above all they have totally perverted the entire system of justice where the ‘criminals are made respectable and the respectable treated as criminals’.

The first defense of the majority is to resist ‘elite change’ and to conserve the remnants of the welfare state. The goal of ‘conservative’ resistance will be to transform the entire corrupt legal system of ‘functional criminality’ into a system of ‘equality before the law’. That will require a fundamental shift in political power, at the local and regional level, from the bankers’ boardrooms to neighborhood and workplace councils, from compliant elite-appointed judges and regulators to real representatives elected by the majority groaning under our current system of injustice.

“Responsibility to Protect” crumbles as Western-armed terror front slaughters civilians while foreign sponsors attempt to tie hands of Syrian security forces. 

For the people of Aleppo, their only hope is Syria’s security forces restoring order. In the pockets of Syria’s largest city the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) has dug into, a campaign of systematic detention, torture, and mass murder has been carried out against “enemies of the revolution.” Demonized as either “Shabiha” or “government supporters,” men have been rounded up, lined up against walls, and gunned down en mass. Others await barbaric “drumhead trials” where FSA warlords deal out arbitrary justice under the guise of “Sharia law.”

Syrian rebels arrest a man who is claimed to be traitor at an old military base near Aleppo


Image: The Western media is covering – or more accurately, “spinning” – an unfolding sectarian genocide in Syria’s largest city Aleppo. In the alleys of seized streets, FSA terrorists are detaining, torturing, and killing anyone suspected of supporting the government. Such suspicions coincidentally run along sectarian divisions. By using the label “Shabiha” for all of FSA’s victims, the Western press has given a carte blanche to genocidal sectarian extremists and by doing so, has become complicit in war crimes themselves.



Worst of all, all of this is being reported by the Western media, but carefully downplayed, excused, spun, and otherwise sneaked through news cycles and headlines.

Reuters presented just such a report titled, “Rebels fill Aleppo power vacuum, some disapprove.” Judging from the title, one might assume residents in the “liberated” alleys of select Aleppo neighborhoods are simply dissatisfied with late garbage collection and perhaps broken street lights. The title is far from the blood curdling hysteria accompanying Western accounts (and fabrications) of Syrian security operations over the last year and a half.

However, what Reuters actually reports is indeed growing basement-dungeons full of “suspected Shabiha,” clear evidence of torture and abuse, as well as a growing number of summary executions and mass murder carried out before cameras and Western media in the streets.

The London Guardian likewise spins and downplays what are overt, ghoulish atrocities committed right on camera for the entire world to see. Russia Today covered one such massacre providing a graphic video depicting several bloodied men lined up against a wall and machine gunned to death, their bodies left in a tattered pile by FSA terrorists. RT leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that what they just witnessed was a war crime.

The Guardian however, begins downplaying the brutal massacre with the headline, “Syria crisis: rebels ‘execute shabiha’ in Aleppo.” Already Guardian plays a role in shaping the potential reader’s perception, convicting the massacred victims as “Shabiha.” Scrolling down through a list of unverified accusations leveled against the Syrian government, one finds not an objective journalistic report of the massacre, but the justification provided by the FSA themselves, in a quote by Guardian’s FSA “contact” that includes the somber warning:

“Regarding the video of the shabiha killed by the FSA, as far as I know these shabiha are from the “Berri” clan in Aleppo. They have a long history of being pro-regime shabiha and they have been involved in a lot of killing in Aleppo.

The regime used to provide them with light weapons and knives and gather them in schools to go and launch their attacks against civilians. Just before they left one of the schools they were caught by the FSA and killed.

In this war in which we left alone to fight such a vicious regime, everything is possible and legitimate and as long as the international community keeps looking at Syria in such carelessness, you will see more of that and even worse.”

The Guardian not only excuses what was a massacre of civilians, but sows the ground for excusing war crimes that eclipse even this episode of barbarism. Unfortunately, the Guardian is not alone – this is a pattern that repeats itself throughout the Western media and signifies that as the military campaign winds down, the terror campaign is just beginning. US special interests’ promise to “bleed” Syria is manifesting itself before our eyes.

The FSA’s claims of everyone they round up, torture, and execute being “Shabiha” carry with them the familiar and horrifying ring of the term “African mercenaries” used to label black Libyans who were targeted by NATO-armed racist sectarian extremists also posing as “revolutionaries.” In the end, entire cities were emptied out of blacks (and here) who had for generations called Libya home. Refugee camps were then systematically targeted until Libya’s blacks were either dead, imprisoned or exiled beyond their homeland’s borders as part of a brutal genocidal campaign covered up by the Western media and downplayed by the West’s self-appointed global arbiters of human rights, namely Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

While the West still to this day claims Libya’s blacks were “pro-Qaddafi,” Libya’s blacks had no choice but to fight NATO’s terrorists of Benghazi, as their complexions and creeds, not political affiliations, had marked them as intolerable and undesirable by NATO’s “liberators.” 

Likewise, a similar campaign of sectarian driven genocide, predicted for years should the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others unleash Al Qaeda aligned death squads across the Levant to destabilize their geopolitical enemies, is unfolding, due in part to the complicity of the Western media.

Image: Christians in Syria have been particularly hit hard by what is being described as “ethnic cleansing,” not by Syrian security forces, but by NATO-backed death squads under the banner of the “Free Syrian Army.” The LA Times has been quietly reporting on the tragedy of Syria’s minorities at the hands of the Syrian rebels for months – and indicates that wider genocide will take place, just as it is now in Libya, should Syria’s government collapse under foreign pressure. 
….

In 2007, in Hersh’s “The Redirection,” the following foreshadowing to the NATO and FSA’s unfolding genocidal rampage was given:

“Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

Now, demonstratively, we see exactly this feared onslaught manifesting itself in Syria, in particular against Christians as indicated in LA Times’ “Church fears ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Christians in Homs, Syria,” and more recently in USA Today’s distorted, but still telling, “Christians in Syria live in uneasy alliance with Assad, Alawites.” Even the massacre in Houla, seems to echo of this 2007 warning, bearing all the hallmarks of sectarian extremists like Al Qaeda.

With the Western press freely admitting that their “freedom fighting” FSA is lining up “suspected government supporters” and machine gunning them en mass, it seems the massacre the West feared would unfold in Aleppo has come to pass – only it wasn’t perpetrated by the Syrian government or its security forces, but rather by NATO and the Gulf State’s very own armed and coddled FSA terrorists.

As the West’s machinations implode upon themselves and shareholders begin hedging their bets and distancing themselves from possible culpability for egregious crimes against humanity, we must hope that global opposition reaches a critical mass, forcing the West to stand down and allowing the Syrian government to restore order across their nation-state. Until then, we as individuals must identify, boycott, and replace the corporate-financier interests driving this insidious conspiracy against humanity. While swatting mosquitoes seems to be the most immediate remedy at hand, draining the swamp from within which they flourish is the only way to solve this problem permanently. 

“The human race stands on the verge of nuclear self-extinction as a species, and with it will die most, if not all, forms of intelligent life on the planet earth. Any attempt to dispel the ideology of nuclearism and its attendant myth propounding the legality of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence must directly come to grips with the fact that the nuclear age was conceived in the original sins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945.”  Prof. Francis A. Boyle’s article entitled The criminality of nuclear deterrence. Hiroshima Day, August 6, 1945 

link:  http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=32214

U.S. Office of War Information poster (1942) about the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7th, 1941

U.S. Army poster (1943)

U.S. Army poster (1944)

U.S. Treasury poster (1944)

“Ground Zero”: Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right) before and after the nuclear bombings in August 1945

Economic Crisis: Austerity Measures Devastate Europe

August 5th, 2012 by Prof. William K Black

This column was prompted in part by reading RJ Eskow’s column, which alerted me to Anne Applebaum’s September 13, 2010 column celebrating Britain’s embrace of austerity and the Conservative Party.

I was already planning a piece responding to Applebaum’s Washington Post column about the consequences of European austerity published on July 25, 2012 (her birthday) and the contrast to a Wall Street Journal news story that same day announcing that austerity had, as we predicted, thrown Britain back into recession when I read Eskow’s column.

With the U.K. in a double-dip recession that is the worst in 50 years, the data also add to pressure on Treasury chief George Osborne, who faces calls to ease the pace of [austerity] measures that critics say are stifling growth.

Applebaum’s 2010 column on Britain’s embrace of austerity deserves to live in infamy. Eskow is correct that she takes palpable glee in economically illiterate actions certain to throw Britain back into recession and harm the working class in order to make the wealthiest Brits even wealthier.

LONDON—Vicious cuts.” “Savage cuts.” “Swingeing cuts.” The language that the British use to describe their new government’s spending-reduction policy is apocalyptic in the extreme. The ministers in charge of the country’s finances are known as “axe-wielders” who will be “hacking” away at the budget. Articles about the nation’s finances are filled with talk of blood, knives, and amputation.

And the British love it. Not only is austerity being touted as the solution to Britain’s economic woes; it is also being described as the answer to the country’s moral failings. On Oct. 20, the government will announce $128 billion worth of spending cuts, and many seem positively excited about it. OK, the trade unions are not so excited, but Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats—the smaller party in the governing coalition—is overjoyed. Recently, he gave a speech in which he explained that tough choices had to be made, so that “we will be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and say we did the best for them.

As a journalist, Applebaum knows not to bury the lead. She, appropriately, packs here two first paragraphs with her major themes. Those themes include the most vital issues of economics and governance that (modestly) democratic governments face. Britain was just emerging from recession. The nature of the recovery – modest and slow – was accurately predicted by many economists who had noted that the stimulus measures were grossly inadequate, but barely sufficient to make a quick “double-dip” back into recession unlikely. These accurate economic predictions, of course, did lead to praise for the economists or large popular efforts for greater stimulus to build on the modest successes of the modest stimulus.

Instead, the framing became that sovereign debt, even in the midst of recovery from a “Great Recession” represented “moral failings.” Implicit in that framing was the concept that a government with a sovereign currency (like Britain) was just like a private household. From the standpoint of a private household, debt was framed as “moral failings” and conflated with being “profligate” and placing “our children and grandchildren” in dire straits as they tried to dig their households out of the debt burdens we had placed on them. Under this framing, we had not placed those burdens on our progeny for any higher purpose (such as defeating the Bosch), but rather for venal, selfish purposes – we used the debt to buy toys and then, childishly, demanded that the State bail us out of the inevitable results of our profligacy.

None of this had much resemblance to reality. Nations with sovereign currencies (the Brits wisely refused to join the euro) are not remotely like private households when it comes to debt. The simile is one of the classic errors that economists always have to explain to students. Nations adopt “automatic stabilizers” in order to make recessions far less severe and recoveries quicker. The stabilizers work by acting in a counter-cyclical fashion. Austerity during the recovery from a recession is a pro-cyclical policy that makes the recession worse and harms the recovery.

The pro-austerity framing that Applebaum described also means that austerity must represent superior morality and that the greater the austerity we champion the greater our moral superiority. This explains the competition in calling for “savage” cuts and the delight in gore. The more programs that aid the poor that we “amputate”; the greater moral superiority we demonstrate. It reverses the Gospels, but it certainly is an attractive framing for the wealthy.

The Labour Party was not worth discussing. The British had just been repudiated in the polls. It was, in any event, the “New” Labour Party that explicitly repositioned itself as the friend of big business, particularly giant finance. The “Lib-Dems” were delighted to help the Conservatives “take an axe” to social programs that aided the poor and working classes. Nick Clegg asserted that austerity programs certain to cause large numbers of parents to lose their jobs while slashing working class wages for those who did not lose their jobs was essential to help working class children. The program was economically illiterate, self-destructive, brutal to the working class – and wildly popular at the outset. The Conservatives represent the wealthy and are proud of it – they salivated at the prospect of savage austerity aimed at the working class.

Only the unions were left as reliable defenders of working class families, but they were politically powerless to do so. Applebaum, of course, gives them no credit for their defense.

Applebaum then combines faux moral superiority with faux history, to explain the moral virtues of austerity during a Great Recession.

For these [Conservative and Lib-Dem] voters, the very idea of instant gratification is anathema, in theory if not in practice. And they elected this government because they’ve convinced themselves they’ve had enough of it.

Austerity, by contrast, has a deep appeal. Austerity is what made Britain great. Austerity is what won the war.

No, none of this is true. Leaving millions of people unemployed harms the people, their families, and the national and global economy. It is pure economic waste and a terrible social harm that devastates families. Causing people to lose their jobs is not rational under either a “long run” or “short run” perspective. It has nothing to do with a desire for “instant gratification.” The typical unemployed adult spent over 12 years developing his or her skills. They did not rely on “instant gratification.”

Fiscal austerity is not what “won the war.” The opposite is true. In the fiscal policy realm it was massive fiscal deficits – debt – that won the war. Applebaum is falsely conflating household sacrifices with fiscal austerity. Here is a thought exercise. Senior British officials have made the absurd statement that the government is “out of money.” If Germany invaded Britain today would the Brits surrender because they were “out of money?” Of course not, they would run however large a deficit was required to defend Britain from the invasion. That would not destroy Britain’s economy. Instead, it would take Britain out of recession and produce full employment. Self-sacrifice was important during World War II. The U.S. and Britain used rationing. (Indeed, Britain’s rationing continued long after the end of the war.) Households donated silk and metal to the war effort – and their children’s and spouses’ lives. Those sacrifices are moral issues. Fiscal austerity by a nation with a sovereign currency is not a moral issue. In the context of a Great Recession it is simply a self-destructive fiscal policy. A potlatch, (rivals compete in destroying valuable household possessions in order to gain status) involves self-sacrifice but it is simply self-destructive as an economic policy. Britain’s austerity was a massive potlatch in which the parties competed in claiming moral superiority based on their zeal in competing to destroy working class families.

The Conservatives generated a faux “moral panic” among the British. Britain had too small a deficit, not too large a deficit, to recovery quickly from the Great Recession. Fiscal austerity in that context was so self-destructive that it would virtually guarantee throwing the nation back into recession. Recessions are the primary drivers of national debt and deficits because they cause such a dramatic fall in revenues and greater need for services to those who lose their jobs. Here is one of the most common errors people make about fiscal policy. A nation suffering from a Great Recession cannot simply “decide” to end its budget deficit. Consider why this is true. A nation can try to end a deficit by some combination of cutting spending and raising taxes. The problem is that in a recession private sector demand is already grossly inadequate to employ all the people who want to work. Cutting public sector spending (demand) while private sector demand is grossly inadequate is an excellent way to make the recession (and budget deficit) much worse. Raising taxes during a weak recovery from a Great Recession will further reduce already grossly inadequate private sector demand and cause the nation to fall back into recession (and increase the budget deficit). Britain has a sovereign currency. Its debt is not remotely “ruinous.” It can borrow money at incredibly low interest rates. Fiscal stimulus in response to a Great Recession has no “immoral” aspect and is economically desirable. The moral panic was a lie on both moral and economic dimensions. It was lie deliberately generated for political advantage. It has resulted in deeply immoral policies that harm working class families and the national economy. British austerity represents a spectacular “own goal.” Applebaum wrote her 2010 column to deride America as lacking the moral clarity of the British because we had failed to embrace austerity. Her prime targets for austerity were: “Medicare, Medicaid, [and] Social Security.” It is always the most successful, most popular government programs that conservatives are most eager to destroy because it is those programs that falsify their dogmas and pose their greatest political barriers in attacking the 99%. Applebaum was eager to generate the same faux moral panic in America and mimic Britain’s self-destructive assault on working class families.

How would Applebaum react in her July 25, 2012 column to the demonstration that austerity was throwing Britain and much of the Eurozone back into recession? Would she admit that austerity had failed economically and morally? Of course not, she was still propounding the faux moral panic about budget deficits that was crushing European economies and workers’ families. Indeed, she claimed that the “silver lining” of the austerity-induced second recession was the suffering it caused.

Another day, another set of crisis headlines — but there is a silver lining: Finally, Europeans are being forced to face up to decades’ worth of fundamentally dishonest politics. Since the 1970s, one government after the next has spent, borrowed and then inflated its way out of the subsequent debt. Then they recovered — only to spend, borrow and inflate once again.

She reveals again her real target – she wants to destroy the social programs that have improved the lives of the working class. She claims that social programs are merely political bribes to induce the working class to vote for leftist politicians. She glories in the fact that the euro is not a sovereign currency, exposing every euro nation to what is effectively the ability of the bond markets to veto social and fiscal policies. She loves the fact that the bond markets hate higher working class wages and social programs that aid working class families. She recognizes that when nations joined the euro they surrendered a key aspect of their economic sovereignty and that delights her.

Successive leaders in all of those countries have tried to “buy” the electorate with elaborate pensions, state-sector employment and other perks. Banks across the continent and around the world have greedily facilitated them.

Now they can’t. Though no one recognized it at the time, joining the euro was like adopting the gold standard: It meant that individual governments couldn’t inflate their way out of trouble anymore nor pass on to the next generation the bill for today’s expenditures — as they still can in the United States and Britain. All along, it has been a mistake to describe the euro zone’s difficulties as a “currency crisis.” In fact, it’s a political crisis, caused by an addiction to debt, and it requires a political solution. Electorates have learned the truth: They are bankrupt. Whatever decisions the European Union now makes, future recovery depends on how much of the plain facts ordinary people can bear to absorb.

Never mind that inflation of general price levels (as opposed to financial bubbles) was actually never severe in nations that had joined the euro zone. Applebaum’s schadenfreude is unlimited. She loves the euro zone disaster her austerity policies generated because she believes that the disaster will destroy the social programs she despises and bring the extreme right to power. I think she is wrong. Latin America has elected some right wing leaders in response to the failures of the Washington Consensus, but it has largely elected leftist leaders who ran on promises to oppose the Washington Consensus.

The Republicans in general and Governor Romney in particular, are (at least rhetorically) supporting extreme austerity. This is remarkable because Romney has twice said that austerity would harm our economy. (Representative Ryan’s fiscal plans are so vague and incoherent that they could actually be stimulative.) Rather than run against insane austerity policies that have proven to be economic and moral failures, President Obama has embraced his own fiscal incoherence. He talks of the government running out of money and being just like a household and is one of the worst of the enablers of Simpson-Bowles’ self-destructive austerity ideas. Simpson and Bowles, along with Peter G. Peterson are the leading American proponents of the faux moral panic. Obama’s repeated embrace of the faux moral panic has made it impossible for him to make a coherent attack on Republican embrace of austerity policies that have devastated much of Europe, Obama will pay a great political price for trying to be all things to all voters on the issue of austerity. Opposing a self-destructive economic policy, premised on lies and designed to harm popular, successful programs created by the Democratic Party to benefit working class families should have been Obama’s signature economic policy. Instead, Obama tries to be in favor of stimulus and austerity. In Europe, Geithner urges the euro zone to reject austerity. In Washington, D.C., he urges Obama to reject stimulus. Obama chose Simpson and Bowles even though everyone knew they would propose austerity and cuts to Social Security. The administration is so incoherent on these issues that no one believes that it has any economic principles. This is not pragmatism, it is dishonesty. It is bad economics, bad morality, and bad politics.

Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives.

Why Are Americans Supporting a “Humanitarian” War Where Minorities Are Being Targeted by Terrorists?

Everyone from the Vatican to priests on the ground in Syria have reported that the Syrian opposition is persecuting Christians.

Now even the New York Times is starting to report the truth:

Syria’s 2.3 million Christians, constituting about 10 percent of the country’s population, have generally known a more privileged existence under the Assad dynasty than even the Shiite Alawi sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

***

As the rebellion became suffused with Sunni militants sympathetic to or affiliated with Al Qaeda, Christians recoiled.

A churchgoing Syrian told me that he used to see himself primarily as “Syrian” and that religious identity, in political terms, was an idea that never occurred to him — until an opposition gang attacked his family earlier this year in Homs. “It’s a label they pinned on us,” he said. “If their revolution is for everyone, as they keep insisting it is, why are Christians being targeted? It is because what they are waging is not a struggle for freedom, and it’s certainly not for everyone.”

As Saudi Arabian arms and money bolster the opposition, the 80,000 Christians who’ve been “cleansed” from their homes in Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan in Homs Province in March by the Free Syrian Army have gradually given up the prospect of ever returning home.

The rebels’ conduct has prompted at least some Sunnis who had supported the rebels and once-wavering Syrians to pledge renewed loyalty to Assad. Many who once regarded the regime as a kleptocracy now view it as the best guarantor of Syria’s endangered pluralism.

***

This is the work of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia,” he added, referring to the ultra conservative Sunni sect.

Repeated attempts by Free Syrian Army fighters to destroy a shrine to Sayyida Zeinab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad revered by Shiites, have not yet caused the area’s Sunni minority to flee — many Shiites here have refused to blame their Sunni neighbors for the rebels’ crimes.

Over the past week, more than a dozen Syrians — chiefly Alawi and Christian, but also a handful of Sunnis — affirmed to me their determination to pick up arms to defend Assad.

The seeming indifference of the international community to the worsening condition of Syria’s religious minorities — and the near total absence of censure of the opposition forces by the Western governments arrayed against Assad — is breeding a bitter anti-Americanism among many secular Syrians who see the United States aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, the fount of Wahhabism, against the Arab world’s most resolutely secular state.

***

Washington is aware of the scale of the problem. As early as June 2011, Robert Stephen Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, briefed his counterparts in Damascus about Al Qaeda’s penetration of the opposition forces. By still ploughing ahead with its support for Saudi Arabia’s effort to destabilize Syria, Washington, far from assisting Israel or weakening Iran, is helping to fuel a humanitarian crisis that will come back to haunt the United States.

The fact that so many Americans – including progressive liberals – still support a “humanitarian war” where minorities are being targeted and Al Qaeda has somehow become our closest ally shows the power of modern propaganda.

If there was any arms race in the region, India has won it, at whatever the cost may be. But the claims to have good neighbourly relations, with MFN-status, no-war pact or no-first-use nuclear arsenal are just a dream seemingly never to come true.

In April this year India yanked open the door of the exclusive ICBM (International Ballistic Missile) club with the first test of Agni-V. Now, if DRDO is to be believed, India has quietly gate-crashed into an even more exclusive club of nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The most ironic part of this achievement on part of India is that New Delhi had been able to successfully keep it as a secret ‘black project’.

The annual awards function of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) the other day witnessed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh handing over the “technology leadership award” to a scientist, A K Chakrabarti, of the Hyderabad-based DRDL lab, for the “successful development” of the country’s first SLBM. This capability has been acquired only by four nations, the US, Russia, France and China.

Long shrouded in secrecy as a “black project”, unlike the surface-to-surface nuclear missiles like Agni, the SLBM may now finally come out of the closet. Called different names at different developmental phases, which included “Sagarika” for an extended period, the SLBM in question is the ‘K-15’ missile with a 750-km strike range. Much like the over 5,000-km Agni-V that will be fully operational by 2015 after four-to-five “repeatable tests”, the K-15 is also still some distance away from being deployed. While the SLBM may be fully-ready and undergoing production now, as DRDO contends after conducting its test several times from submersible pontoons, its carrier INS Arihant will take at least a year before it’s ready for “deterrent patrols”.

India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, is still undergoing “harbor-acceptance trials” with all its pipelines being cleared and tested meticulously on shore-based steam before its miniature 83 MW pressurized light-water reactor goes “critical”. The submarine will then undergo extensive “sea-acceptance trials” and test-fire the 10-tonne K-15, which can carry a one-tonne nuclear payload, from the missile silos on its hump.

Only then will India’s missing third leg of the nuclear triad – the ability to fire nukes from land, air and sea – be in place. INS Arihant has four silos on its hump to carry either 12 K-15s or four of the 3,500-km range K-4 missiles undergoing tests at the moment. The first two legs revolve around the Agni missiles and fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs and Mirage-2000s jury-rigged to deliver nuclear warheads.

The sea-based nuclear leg in the shape of SLBMs is much more effective — as also survivable being relatively immune to pre-emptive strikes — than the air or land ones. Nuclear-powered submarines, which are capable of operating silently underwater for months at end, armed with nuclear-tipped missiles are, therefore, considered the most potent and credible leg of the triad. With even the US and Russia ensuring that two-thirds of the strategic warheads they eventually retain under arms reduction agreements will be SLBMs, India with a clear “no-first use” nuclear doctrine needs such survivable second-strike capability to achieve credible strategic deterrence.

Marya Mufty, Kinnaird College, Lahore

A common thread defines Obama and Netanyahu. Their agenda threatens humanity. Both head modern-day Spartas.

Israel is very much involved in Washington’s war on Syria. At issue is destroying another independent state, murdering thousands, planning more wars, and threatening the entire region and beyond.

Iran is next in line. Saber rattling combines with war by other means. It includes sanctions, subversion, instability, cyberwar, targeted assassinations, other disruptive actions, and relentless scoundrel media vilification and fearmongering.

On August 3,

Haaretz headlined “King Bibi in trouble.” Poll numbers show a 60% disapproval rating. It’s not for institutionalized militarism and belligerence. It’s about new budget cuts hardening neoliberal harshness.

Most Israelis are fed up with what harms their well-being. Their narrow definition omits likely blowback from regional wars and more planned. Conflict rages cross border in Syria. If attacked, Hezbollah can respond in kind.

Key is whether Israel plans bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. Doing so is lawless, madness, and self-destructive. Nonetheless, heated rhetoric suggests it’s possible.

On August 2,

Haaretz headlined “Ex-Mossad chief said what should be clear to everyone – Israel has never been so close to attacking Iran,” saying:

According to Ephraim Halevy, “if I were an Iranian, I would be very worried about the Israeli talk about a possible attack, because Israel’s threats sound serious and credible to me.”

No longer publicly active, he may or may not know what’s planned. Haaretz said he’s not “another establishment stooge.” Nor is he “gung-ho.”

He’s wise enough not to reveal state secrets. Perhaps he commented because someone asked. Once a Mossad insider, always one. Iranian officials will parse his comments carefully.

On August 1, Mossad-connected

DEBKAfile (DF) headlined “(Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei Warns Iran’s Top Leaders: WAR IN WEEKS,” saying:

Before Friday, July 27 prayers, he “summoned top Iranian military chiefs for what he called ‘last war council.’ ”

DF claims he told them “(w)e’ will be at war within weeks.” Allegedly he ordered high alert readiness, fortifying Iran’s nuclear facilities, and retaliatory responses.

Only high level insiders know Israeli intentions. Saber rattling and inflammatory rhetoric went on for years. It’s heard regularly now. So far, belligerence hasn’t follow bluster. Whether things now are different remains to be seen.

On August 3,

Haaretz headlined “As Netanyahu pushes Israel closer to war with Iran, Israelis cannot keep silent,” saying:

“Why aren’t ministers and defense officials standing up right now, when it is still possible, and saying: We will not be a party to this megalomaniacal vision, to this messianic-catastrophic worldview?”

As important is why militarism, belligerence, and denigration of Muslims define Israeli policies. Why is war institutionalized?

Why does a nation treat one-fifth of its people like fifth column threats? Why are non-Jews persecuted? Why do decades of occupation repression continue?

Why do only elitist Jews matter at the expense of all others? Why does a tiny state threaten other regional nations? Why do world leaders permit it? How can any responsible official contemplate catastrophic war if launched?

Haaretz suggests “Netanyahu has a historical mindset (and) outlook under which….Israel is ‘the eternal nation’ and the United States” is just one among many.

In other words, “(w)e are everlasting, we are an eternal people, and they, despite all their strength and power, are merely temporary and ephemeral.”

Megalomania and delusions of grandeur define this type thinking. Past leaders governing this way perished by the same sword they lived by. It always turned out that way.

Tiny Israel is a dot in an ocean of justifiable resentment. One step too far may bite back harder than what Netanyahu and others around him imagine.

His governing style is autocratic, said Haaretz. He thinks he holds Israel’s destiny in his hands. He may end up fiddling while it burns. His hermetic worldview rigidity may end up its undoing.

He’ll take an entire nation and others over a cliff with him. Perhaps he’ll end up like Caligula. Delusions of grandeur and tyrannical harshness got him assassinated. His own Praetorian Guard did him in.

Netanyahu heads Israel’s most extremist ever government. It’s racist, repressive, elitist and fascist. Democracy is more hypocrisy than real.

Hardliners around him share his vision. Most Israelis want peace, not war. They have no say. Their fate hangs in his hands. It’s their country, their security, and their future.

Don’t they understand the consequences of attacking Iran? Have they no sense that “bomb or be bombed” rhetoric is belligerent bombast? Don’t they know destructive policies sometimes follow?

Iran threatens no one. It’s nuclear program is peaceful. Every Israeli and Western leader knows it. Saying otherwise hides dark side intensions.

Why don’t knowledgeable people speak out? Why don’t opposition officials do it? Why don’t they stand up for what’s right? Why don’t they stop this madness before it’s too late?

Have they no sense of the stakes? Don’t they care enough to try? Are loyalty and daily priorities more important than survival? Are millions of Israeli lives and others in the region unimportant?

Why haven’t Israelis protested publicly en masse? Why won’t they act in their own behalf?

Poet Hayyim Bialik (1873 – 1934) once wrote about “with heart’s blood and marrow pay(ing) the price of the blaze.” A century later he’d have had weapons of mass destruction in mind.

A Final Comment

IDF chief of staff General Benny Gantz believes Iran won’t develop nuclear weapons. He’s concerned about launching an attack. He called Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Iranian leaders rational. They’re not dangerous extremists bent on war.

Netanyahu is mirror opposite. He said governments make policies, not generals. Their job is taking orders and obeying. Other times they’re asked for advice. Prime ministers and cabinet members can accept or reject it.

George Clemenceau once said “(w)ar is too important to be left to the generals.” In Israel, some have more good sense than politicians. The same holds for America. Delusional leaders can’t wait to shed more blood.

Gantz calls unilateral Israeli action ill-conceived. Other current and past IDF generals and intelligence officials share his view. Many in America feel the same way.

Instead of waging wars, preventing them should be prioritized. When leaders able to cause mass destruction behave like delusional mad dogs, stopping them matters most.

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

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 Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence

August 5th, 2012 by Francis A. Boyle

The human race stands on the verge of nuclear self-extinction as a species, and with it will die most, if not all, forms of intelligent life on the planet earth. Any attempt to dispel the ideology of nuclearism and its attendant myth propounding the legality of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence must directly come to grips with the fact that the nuclear age was conceived in the original sins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined by the Nuremberg Charter of August 8, 1945, and violated several basic provisions of the Regulations annexed to Hague Convention No. 4 Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907), the rules of customary international law set forth in the Draft Hague Rules of Air Warfare (1923), and the United States War Department Field Manual 27-10, Rules of Land Warfare (1940).

According to this Field Manual and the Nuremberg Principles, all civilian government officials and military officers who ordered or knowingly participated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have been lawfully punished as war criminals. The start of any progress toward resolving humankind’s nuclear predicament must come from the realization that nuclear weapons have never been legitimate instruments of state policy, but rather have always constituted illegitimate instrumentalities of internationally lawless and criminal behavior.

THE USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

The use of nuclear weapons in combat was, and still is, absolutely prohibited under all circumstances by both conventional and customary international law: e.g., the Nuremberg Principles, the Hague Regulations of 1907, the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocol I of 1977, etc. In addition, the use of nuclear weapons would also specifically violate several fundamental resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly that have repeatedly condemned the use of nuclear weapons as an international crime.

Consequently, according to the Nuremberg Judgment, soldiers would be obliged to disobey egregiously illegal orders with respect to launching and waging a nuclear war. Second, all government officials and military officers who might nevertheless launch or wage a nuclear war would be personally responsible for the commission of Nuremberg crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol 1, and genocide, among other international crimes. Third, such individuals would not be entitled to the defenses of superior orders, act of state, tu quoque, self-defense, presidential authority, etc. Fourth, such individuals could thus be quite legitimately and most severely punished as war criminals, up to and including the imposition of the death penalty, without limitation of time.

THE THREAT TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter of 1945 prohibits both the threat and the use of force except in cases of legitimate self-defense as recognized by article 51 thereof. But although the requirement of legitimate self-defense is a necessary precondition for the legality of any threat or use of force, it is certainly not sufficient. For the legality of any threat or use of force must also take into account the customary and conventional international laws of humanitarian armed conflict.

Thereunder, the threat to use nuclear weapons (i.e., nuclear deterrence/terrorism) constitutes ongoing international criminal activity: namely, planning, preparation, solicitation and conspiracy to commit Nuremberg crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, as well as grave breaches of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, Additional Protocol I of 1977, the Hague Regulations of 1907, and the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, inter alia. These are the so-called inchoate crimes that under the Nuremberg Principles constitute international crimes in their own right.

The conclusion is inexorable that the design, research, testing, production, manufacture, fabrication, transportation, deployment, installation, maintenance, storing, stockpiling, sale, and purchase as well as the threat to use nuclear weapons together with all their essential accouterments are criminal under well-recognized principles of international law. Thus, those government decision-makers in all the nuclear weapons states with command responsibility for their nuclear weapons establishments are today subject to personal criminal responsibility under the Nuremberg Principles for this criminal practice of nuclear deterrence/terrorism that they have daily inflicted upon all states and peoples of the international community. Here I wish to single out four components of the threat to use nuclear weapons that are especially reprehensible from an international law perspective: counter-ethnic targeting; counter-city targeting; first-strike weapons and contingency plans; and the first-use of nuclear weapons even to repel a conventional attack.

THE CRIMINALITY OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND NUCLEAR DETERRENCE

As can be determined in part from the preceding analysis, today’s nuclear weapons establishments as well as the entire system of nuclear deterrence/terrorism currently practiced by all the nuclear weapon states are criminal — not simply illegal, not simply immoral, but criminal under well established principles of international law. This simple idea of the criminality of nuclear weapons can be utilized to pierce through the ideology of nuclearism to which many citizens in the nuclear weapons states have succumbed. It is with this simple idea of the criminality of nuclear weapons that concerned citizens can proceed to comprehend the inherent illegitimacy and fundamental lawlessness of the policies that their governments pursue in their names with respect to the maintenance and further development of nuclear weapons systems.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY OF NUCLEAR DETERRENCE/TERRORISM

Humankind must abolish nuclear weapons before nuclear weapons abolish humankind. Nonetheless, a small number of governments in the world community continue to maintain nuclear weapons systems despite the rules of international criminal law to the contrary. This has led some international lawyers to argue quite tautologically and disingenuously that since there exist a few nuclear weapons states in the world community, therefore nuclear weapons must somehow not be criminal because otherwise these few states would not possess nuclear weapons systems. In other words, to use lawyers’ parlance, this minority state practice of nuclear deterrence/terrorism practiced by the great powers somehow negates the existence of a world opinio juris (i.e., sense of legal obligation) as to the criminality of nuclear weapons.

There is a very simple response to that specious argument: Since when has a small gang of criminals — in this case, the nuclear weapons states — been able to determine what is legal or illegal for the rest of the community by means of their own criminal behavior? What right do these nuclear weapons states have to argue that by means of their own criminal behavior they have ipso facto made criminal acts legitimate? No civilized nation state would permit a small gang of criminal conspirators to pervert its domestic legal order in this manner. Moreover, both the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Tokyo Tribunal made it quite clear that a conspiratorial band of criminal states likewise has no right to opt out of the international legal order by means of invoking their own criminal behavior as the least common denominator of international deportment. Ex iniuria ius non oritur is a peremptory norm of customary international law. Right cannot grow out of injustice!

To the contrary, the entire human race has been victimized by an international conspiracy of ongoing criminal activity carried out by the nuclear weapons states under the doctrine known as “nuclear deterrence,” which is really a euphemism for “nuclear terrorism.” This international criminal conspiracy of nuclear deterrence/terrorism currently practiced by the nuclear weapons states is no different from any other conspiracy by a criminal gang or band. They are the outlaws. So it is up to the rest of the international community to repress and dissolve this international criminal conspiracy as soon as possible.

THE HUMAN RIGHT TO ANTI-NUCLEAR CIVIL RESISTANCE

In light of the fact that nuclear weapons systems are prohibited, illegal, and criminal under all circumstances and for any reason, every person around the world possesses a basic human right to be free from this criminal practice of nuclear deterrence/terrorism and its concomitant specter of nuclear extinction. Thus, all human beings possess the basic right under international law to engage in non-violent civil resistance activities for the purpose of preventing, impeding, or terminating the ongoing commission of these international crimes. Every citizen of the world community has both the right and the duty to oppose the existence of nuclear weapons systems by whatever non-violent means are at his or her disposal. Otherwise, the human race will suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs, and the planet earth will become a radioactive wasteland. The time for preventive action is now!

Worldwide Financial Crisis: Libor Scandal goes Global

August 5th, 2012 by Robert Stevens

The UK Conservative/Liberal Democrat government this week announced the terms of a review into the deepening London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) crisis.

The review was commissioned by Chancellor George Osborne, and will be led by Martin Wheatley, managing director of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and chief executive-designate of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Libor is a daily rate covering 10 currencies and is supposed to measure the average cost of short-term loans between major banks. It is set in London by 16 banks and is run by the British Bankers’ Association. The interest rates for tens of trillions of dollars in home mortgages, student loans and credit cards are pegged to Libor, as are derivatives valued at $350 trillion and eurodollar futures worth $564 trillion.

Last month, Barclays Bank was fined a total of £290 million ($455 million) for illegally manipulating its daily Libor submissions between 2005 and 2009.

The Wheatley Review is a damage limitation exercise, proposing only to “undertake a review of the framework for the setting of LIBOR.”

While it is to examine “The potential for alternative rate-setting processes”, the interests of the banks will be prioritized, as its remit will also consider “The financial stability consequences of a move to a new regime and how a transition could be appropriately managed.”

Wheatley has acknowledged that the rigging of Libor was “extremely serious”, but instead of calling for any criminal action to taken against those found guilty he declared it showed that “urgent reform of the Libor compilation process is required”.

The Wheatley Review avoids dealing with any of the illegal practises of Barclays that gave rise to it in the first place. The terms of the review state that it “will not consider any issues relating to the actions or alleged actions of specific financial institutions in attempting to manipulate LIBOR or other benchmark rates. These issues will continue to be investigated by the FSA and other regulators around the world.”

The review is to conclude in just four weeks in order for any recommended legislation to be included in the Financial Services Bill, currently going through Parliament.

Last Friday it emerged that the offices of Barclays in Milan, Italy had been raided in relation to the Libor crisis. Italian police officers seized documents, emails and other electronic communications during the raid. According to the Financial Times, the raid was “part of an investigation that seeks to see if Italian consumers were hurt by the British bank’s manipulation of Libor, the London Interbank Offered Rate, and its euro equivalent Euribor.”

Two consumer watchdogs have estimated that 2.5 million Italian families with mortgages linked to Euribor were financially damaged—to the tune of €3 billion by the rigging of Euribor.

Each day sees a global spread of the crisis.

This week German-based Deutsche Bank acknowledged the involvement of some of its employees in rigging Libor rates. It claimed that only a “limited number” were involved and said an internal inquiry had cleared its senior management of any wrongdoing. Deutsche Bank is currently being sued over claims it manipulated the yen Libor rate and the price of derivatives tied to the Euroyen benchmark by US litigants.

Over the weekend speculation mounted that the Swiss-based global financial services operation UBS was also involved in manipulating Libor. On Saturday, Reuters reported that traders employed by Barclays, RBS and UBS “played a central role” in rigging rates. Based on a review of court documents and other sources, Reuters said, “Between them, the three banks employed more than a dozen traders who sought to influence rates in either dollar, euro or yen rates. Some of the traders who are being probed have worked for several banks under scrutiny, raising the possibility that the rate fixing became more ingrained as traders changed jobs.”

One former Barclays employee under scrutiny is Jay V. Merchant, who oversaw the US dollar swaps trading desk at Barclays in New York from March 2006 to October 2009. He now holds a similar position at UBS in Stamford, Connecticut, Reuters states.

UBS’s role in relation to Libor rigging is being investigated by attorneys general in several US states as well as by the federal Department of Justice.

On Tuesday Deutsche Bank and UBS increased their estimates for unprovisioned litigation risk by a combined €580 million. By the end of June, Deutsche Bank had increased its estimate from €2.1 billion to €2.5 billion. UBS added a further SFr 210 million to its litigation and regulatory provisions estimates.

The exposure of the main banks involved to potential payouts resulting from legal action, including numerous class actions, according to several plaintiff firms, could reach $1 trillion.

On Monday it emerged that New York-based Berkshire Bank is suing 21 banks including Bank of America, Barclays and Citigroup for damages over alleged Libor manipulation. Berkshire’s claim alleges that the rigging of Libor had a detrimental impact on its interest payments. Its legal complaint states, “Tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars of loans are originated or sold within this state each year with rates tied to [U.S. dollar] Libor.”

New York banks “were unable to collect the full measure of interest income to which they were entitled”.

Harvard Law School professor John Coates said that litigation resulting from the Libor crisis “has the potential to be the biggest single set of cases coming out of the financial crisis, because Libor is built into so many transactions and Libor is so central to so many contracts. It’s like saying reports about the inflation rate were wrong.”

The banks could only have engaged in such illegal practises because they were given carte blanche to do so by the political establishment and the so-called banking regulators internationally. As the June report indicting Barclays demonstrated, the UK’s Financial Services Authority was nothing more than a facilitator for whatever practises the bank deemed necessary to make a quick buck. On Monday Osborne told Parliament that the FSA’s criminal powers did not actually extend to Libor, or the trading in derivatives by financial institutions.

With public anger toward the banks growing, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was forced to acknowledge Monday that it had the powers to act against the banks involved in the rigging of Libor. The SFO said it was “satisfied that existing criminal offences are capable of covering conduct in relation to the alleged manipulation of LIBOR and related interest rates.”

As investigations over Libor continue into many banks, by at least 10 financial regulatory authorities across three continents, it is expected that a number of them will face accusations of criminal activity.

On Sunday RBS’s chief executive Stephen Hester told the Guardian that he expected the bank to soon face allegations relating to Libor and to be hit with a fine. An investigation of the bank by the FSA was underway, he said, adding, “RBS is one of the banks tied up in Libor. We’ll have our day in that particular spotlight as well.”

RBS is deeply implicated in the speculative and criminal activities of the banks that resulted in the 2008 global financial meltdown. In November 2009 the British government completed the world’s largest bank bailout, with the total cost of its takeover of RBS reaching £53.5 billion.

Russian Warships To Enter Syrian Harbor

August 5th, 2012 by Global Research

MOSCOW: Big landing ships of the Russian Northern Fleet, which are sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, will call at a Russian naval supply base at the Syrian port of Tartus in a few days, a source in the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces told reporters on Friday.

“It is planned that at the end of this week or at the beginning of next week three big landing ships of the Northern Fleet – Alexander Otrakovsky, Georgy Pobedonosets, Kondopoga which are carrying marines – will visit Syria.

“Over the limited capacities of the mooring infrastructure in Tartus two warships will enter directly the port and will be moored there, the third warship will be anchored in the harbour,” the source said.

“Each big landing ship is carrying a reinforced squadron of about 120 marines with firearms, including submachine guns, machine guns, grenade launchers and flamethrowers, and military hardware, including floating armoured personnel carriers, which provide for their actions on the sea coast,” the source noted.

“Our warships will call at Tartus to replenish their material stocks. The warships will stay there for several days, then they will head for the northeastern part of the Mediterranean Sea in order to enter the Black Sea on August 12 through the Black Sea straits and to arrive at a naval base in Novorossiisk,” he said without elaborating whether Russian marines will stay at the Russian naval base to ensure its security. ============ =========

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Day of Infamy at the UN General Assembly

August 5th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

On August 3, The General Assembly ignored rule of law principles. Member states are sworn to uphold them, rather than cave in to US threats and intimidation.   

It passed a non-binding Syrian resolution 133 – 12. Thirty-one nations abstained. Cowardice defines their failure to do the right thing.

Saudi Arabia drafted the measure. It partnered with Qatar and perhaps Bahrain doing so.

Russia called the measure “biased and unbalanced.” It was that and much more. It ignored reality on the ground. It ran cover for Washington’s proxy war. 

It endorsed daily slaughter and destruction. It ignored Western/Arab League/Israeli responsibility for ravaging another nonbelligerent country. It spurned millions of Syrians.

In UN history, August 3, 2012 will live in infamy. 

Honest observers won’t forget how irresponsible nations acted. At the same time, 12 courageous ones did the right thing. They include Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Belarus, Myanmar, North Korea and Zimbabwe.

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari condemned the resolution. He called it a hysterical anti-Syrian campaign. Fundamental UN Charter and other rule of law principles were violated. 

National sovereignty was ignored. Imperial interests alone were served. Syrians were betrayed.

Western-sponsored terrorism was endorsed. Doing so ensures greater violence, mass killing and human misery.

“Some countries which waged war under the pretext of fighting terrorism are supporting, directly and indirectly, the acts of these armed terrorist groups, of which is al-Qaeda,” al Jaafari said.

He added that resolution sponsors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain are “despotic oligarchies.” They’re imperial partners. They’re attack dogs for Washington’s regional wars. They’re lawless rogue states. 

They persecute, arrest, imprison, torture, and brutalize their own people. They’re ruthless against anyone publicly supporting political, economic and social justice. Their regimes have no legitimacy.

They’re silent about ongoing atrocities in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, and their own countries. They supported Washington’s war on Gaddafi.

They helped murder tens of thousands of Libyans. They support current puppet leadership. They mock rule of law principles and democratic values. They treat people like garbage and show it.

Iran’s acting UN envoy Eshagh Alehabib called the resolution “one-sided.” It “will have no impact whatever. It is a piece of theater.”

Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Grant said it wasn’t meant to be balanced. It shamelessly points fingers the wrong way. 

UN envoy Susan Rice echoed Grant’s view. She skipped her usual histrionics. Doing so didn’t soften her mockery of fundamental international and constitutional law.

Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin accused Western countries of hidden goals. 

The measure “will aggravate the confrontational approach to resolution of the Syrian crisis and will in no way facilitate movement of the sides toward a platform of dialogue and a search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in the interests of the Syrian people.”

Other countries voting no said Syria faces forces supporting terrorism.

Nations voting yes condemned Syria for Western-backed crimes. General Assembly language mocked legitimacy and fairness. It endorsed wrong over right. It gave fig lead cover for greater Western intervention.

It “deplor(ed) the Security Council failure.” Doing so took direct aim at Russia and China. So far, their vetoes prevented full-scale war. 

At issue is for how long. Washington has longstanding regime change plans. All means are employed. Body counts don’t matter. Imperial priorities take precedence. They include unchallenged regional dominance to Russia and China’s borders.

Hypocritically the resolution expressed grave concerns for human rights violations. It lied saying Syria uses heavy weapons against its own people. They’re used to defend them against death squad killers. 

It wrongfully claimed Assad “threat(ens) to use chemical or biological weapons.”

No such threat was made. Syria admitted having chemical weapons. Biological ones weren’t mentioned. Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said Syria would only use chemical weapons against external aggression. Distortion, misinterpretation, and willful lying followed his comments.

Resolution language hypocritically claimed concern for “international peace and security.” It expressed “profound regret at the death of many thousands of people.” 

At the same time, it ignored Western-sponsored mass killing and destruction. Alleged concern about protecting civilians ignores Washington proxy death squads murdering them.

It shamelessly endorsed fundamental human rights. At the same time, responsible parties violating them aren’t mentioned.

Its call for “political transition” ignores fundamental international law. Doing so violates sovereign Syrian rights. In May, free, fair and open parliamentary elections weren’t mentioned. Independent international monitors endorsed them.

Ruling Ba’ath party members won a convincing 60% majority. Repeating what’s accomplished is irresponsible. Demanding it is unconscionable.

Shamelessness defined August 3 voting. Doing so perpetuates conflict. Escalation, not resolution will follow. One hundred and thirty-three nations have blood on their hands.

A Final Comment

Major media hailed the General Assembly vote. Throughout the conflict, they endorsed imperial lawlessness. They cheerlead all US direct, proxy, and planned wars. 

A virtual unanimous hallelujah chorus expressed similar comments. Truth and full disclosure were absent. Perpetrators were absolved. Victims were blamed. 

The New York Times called the resolution an overwhelming critique of Syrian policy. The Wall Street Journal said it condemned Syria’s campaign. CBS said it denounced Syria’s crackdown but took little action.

AP said it tells Assad to step down. Reuters said it isolates Russia and China for vetoing Security Council resolutions. The Los Angeles Times said it condemned Syrian violence and “big power” inaction.

The Chicago Tribune headlined “UN nations condemn Syria; Russia, China seen isolated.” The London Guardian said the General Assembly criticized the Security Council’s failure to act. London’s Independent said UN nations condemn Syria and demand political transition.

The vote came a day after UN/Arab League Syrian envoy Kofi Annan resigned. It’s effective end of August when his mandate expires. Reasons given were duplicitous. Both actions on consecutive days weren’t coincidental. They advance the ball for war.

Annan’s Washington’s man. Obama officials chose him. His “peace plan” was sham cover for imperial lawlessness. It also bought time. Escalated aggression now is planned.

On August 3, Time magazine headlined “Syrian Opposition Sees Annan Failure as Vindication of its Armed Struggle,” saying:

Annan’s resignation “confirmed the Syrian opposition’s belief that there is no alternative (but) a military struggle to bring down the Assad regime.”

Former Syrian National Council head Burhan Ghalioun said “(t)he defeat of the Annan plan means there is no political solution.” Western powers must act. “We have no time to waste.”

Expect continued scoundrel media unanimity. Doing so endorses war. Obama, key NATO partners, and regional allies want full-scale intervention. Only its timing is unknown. 

Prioritizing the prevention of potentially catastrophic war matters most. The entire region and beyond could become embroiled. The threat is too great to ignore.

A late July Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) report said Western intervention looks more likely. “We are not moving toward intervention but intervention is certainly moving towards us,” it said.

At issue is “appropriate modes of intervention.” In some respects, it already began.

It’s been ongoing throughout the conflict. Now it’s escalating. Annan’s resignation adds momentum. Conditions “make a hands-off approach increasingly” unlikely.

Washington considers conflict resolutions unacceptable. Regime change alone matters. War all along was planned. So is subjugating the entire region. Perhaps destroying it will happen in the process. 

One country after another is ravaged. Mushroom-shaped cloud solutions may follow. Stopping this madness matters most. Imagine what’s coming otherwise.

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

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

Red carpet and champagne marked the start of the first Red-Green Alliance (RGA) congress since the party tripled its mandate at a poll in September 2011. The 385 delegates representing the 8000 members packed a basketball stadium in the migrant and working-class Copenhagen suburb of Norrebro to grapple with the party’s new increased influence on Danish politics. Party membership has more than doubled in the past two years, with the party welcoming into its ranks many ex-members of the Social Democratic and Socialist People’s parties.

Red Green Alliance activists campaigning in February.

Danes voted in droves in last year’s elections to punish the right-wing parties. The poll resulted in the Social Democrats heading a coalition government – and Denmark’s first woman prime minister. But this took place on the back of the lowest vote for the Social Democrats since 1906.

There was also a collapse in support for the country’s most right-wing parties, including the overtly racist Danish People’s Party (DPP). The vote for left parties rose. The Social Liberals are the most conservative of the four left-of-centre parties supporting the government and the RGA the most radical. The RGA jumped from four to 12 seats in parliament, winning 6.7% of the vote. All RGA MPs get only a skilled worker’s wage, donating the rest to the party.

The new government follows 10 years of conservatives in office. Among trade unionists and working-class communities that organized to oust the conservatives in a similar style to the Australian “Your Rights at Work” campaign, there are huge expectations. With the Social Democrats and their partners in the government rapidly reneging on election promises and tracking to the right, the RGA has unique opportunities and challenges ahead.

The minority Social Democrat government led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt relies on a coalition of left and centre parties to govern. The RGA supports the government against motions of “no confidence,” but the party is not formally part of government and votes for legislation case by case. The votes of RGA MPs are crucial, however, to enable the government to pass key laws, including the budget.

Difficult Negotiations

The congress delegates reflected in some detail on the difficult experience of negotiating with the government over this year’s budget. Party spokesperson Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen said:

“No one should doubt that if the government chooses the compassionate way, then we stand ready. We are ready to negotiate, and we are not afraid of compromise. In return, I want to say one thing very clear to the government: You’ll never be able to threaten the Alliance to vote for cuts in welfare. Never! Even if the threat is that you’ll call an election. This kind of bullying does not work on us.”

To try to bring community pressure on the negotiations, the RGA conducted a series of consultations with students, unions and community groups to gather proposals. The party prioritized these proposals and made it clear to the government that the votes of the RGA depended on these measures.

Negotiations with the government were conducted by a team nominated by the 25 elected members of the RGA’s National Board. The authority to authorize MPs to vote in favour of the budget is held by the board.

The RGA’s ultimate support for the budget hinged on the inclusion of five weeks’ holiday for recipients of social assistance, as well as giving the unemployed more opportunities for retraining and education rather than being forced back into the labour market. The budget also included some progressive taxation reforms, including a higher tax on large companies and a tax on printed advertising materials.

The congress revisited a big debate from last year. This came after a majority of the National Board endorsed the vote of the party’s MPs in favour of Danish support for the UN-NATO intervention in Libya. This support was later retracted by the board and MPs as the intervention in Libya unfolded. At last year’s congress, a vote to endorse the actions of the board’s majority was carried by a margin of just 13 votes.

In the lead up to the congress, the party conducted seminars throughout the country to debate in what circumstances the party would support military action. The result of these seminars was a resolution put to the congress designed to guide the party. Delegates adopted the resolution, which provides very limited circumstances in which, for humanitarian reasons and having all other options exhausted, the party would support UN-led military interventions. Some delegates expressed concern about the practicality of the resolution in the context of further military interventions. Others regarded it as an important framework to guide the party.

Challenges Ahead?

Big challenges lie ahead, as the government is moving to cut unemployment benefits from four to two years, and raise working hours and the retirement age. The congress launched a campaign to “Fight unemployment, not the unemployed” this year.

A decision was also made to run a campaign to force the government to hold a referendum on Danish support for the European Union Fiscal Pact. This pact will bind the EU countries to implement cuts to public spending and debt.

Also high on the campaign agenda is scrapping the discriminatory immigration rules that prevent Danish citizens with less than 28 years of residency from bringing their wife or husband to Denmark. These laws were passed by the previous government at the initiative of the far-right Danish People’s Party.

With the RGA enjoying a growing and enthusiastic membership and a huge mainstream national profile, its future looks bright. It already has strong representation in local councils and looks set to extend that base in next year’s elections.

Despite its bright electoral prospects, delegates and MPs alike were at pains throughout the conference to point to the limits of negotiating change in parliament. Much discussion focused on building campaigns outside parliament.

National Board member Per Clausen said: “The main challenge for us is to bring optimism and the belief that political activity is useful. And when we go from here we spread that belief into the workplace, in homes and taverns.” •

Jody Betzien is a writer for Green Left weekly where this article first appeared.

O lançamento de uma “guerra humanitária” contra a Síria

August 5th, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

A administração Obama, em ligação com Londres, Paris, Tel Aviv e o quartel-general da NATO em Bruxelas, está a contemplar várias “intervenções de opções” militares contra a Síria, incluindo a realização de operações navais e aéreas em apoio às forças rebeldes de “oposição” sobre o terreno.

Os EUA e o seu impassível aliado britânico estão num “pé de guerra humanitário”.

Forças aliadas, incluindo operativos de inteligências e forças especiais, reforçaram a sua presença no terreno em apoio ao “Exército Livre da Síria” (ELS). Foi informado que o Ministério da Defesa britânico está a “formular planos de contingência para o caso de o Reino Unido decidir instalar tropas nesta região volátil”.

Posicionamentos de forças navais e aéreas já foram anunciados pelo Ministério da Defesa britânico. Segundo notícias de tablóides de Londres, citando fontes militares “confiáveis”, “… a escalada da guerra civil [na Síria] torna cada vez mais provável que o Ocidente seja forçado a intervir”. ( Daily Mail , July 24, 2012)

Uma campanha de bombardeamento no estilo “pavor e choque” do Iraque não está, por razões práticas, a ser contemplada: “analistas da defesa advertiram que uma força de pelo menos 300 mil soldados seria necessária para executar uma intervenção em plena escala [na Síria]. Mesmo assim, esta enfrentaria resistência feroz. …” (ibid)

Ao invés de executar uma operação relâmpago total, a aliança militar EUA-NATO-Israel optou por intervir sob o diabólico enquadramento do R2P, da “guerra humanitária”. Modelado na Líbia, as seguintes grandes etapas estão a ser encaradas:

1- Uma rebelião apoiada pelos EUA-NATO, integrada por esquadrões da morte, é lançada sob o disfarce de “movimento de protesto (meados de Março de 2011 em Daraa)

2- Forças especiais britânicas, francesas, qataris e turcas estão sobre o terreno na Síria, aconselhando e treinando os rebeldes bem como supervisionando operações especiais. Mercenários contratados por companhias de segurança privada também são envolvidos no apoio às forças rebeldes.

3- As matanças de civis inocentes pelo Exército Livre Sírio (ELS) são deliberadamente executadas como parte de uma operação encoberta de inteligência (Ver SYRIA: Killing Innocent Civilians as part of a US Covert Op. Mobilizing Public Support for a R2P War against Syria , Global Research, May 2012)

4- O governo sírio é então culpabilizado pelas atrocidades resultantes. A desinformação dos media articulada para a demonização do governo sírio. A opinião pública é levada a endossar uma intervenção militar com fundamentos humanitários.

5- Respondendo à indignação pública, os EUA-NATO são então “forçados a intervir” sob o mandato humanitário da “”Responsibility to Protect” (R2P). A propaganda dos media entra então em alta velocidade. “A Comunidade Internacional vem para o resgate do povo sírio”.

6- Navios de guerra e caças de combate são então posicionados no Mediterrâneo Oriental. Estas acções são coordenadas com o apoio logístico aos rebeldes e às forças especiais no terreno.

7- O objectivo final é “mudança de regime” que leve à “ruptura do país” de acordo com linhas sectárias e/ou a instalação de um “regime dominado ou influenciado por islamistas” modelado no Qatar e na Arábia Saudita.

8- Os planos de guerra para a Síria são integrados com aqueles referentes ao Irão. A estrada para Teerão passa por Damasco. As implicações mais vastas da intervenção EUA-NATO são escalada militar e o possível desencadeamento de uma guerra regional estendendo-se desde o Mediterrâneo Oriental até a Ásia Central, na qual a China e a Rússia poderiam ser directa ou indirectamente envolvidas.

As etapas de 1 até 4 já foram implementadas.

A etapa 5 foi anunciada.

A etapa 6, envolvendo o posicionamento de navios de guerra britânicos e francesas no Mediterrâneo Oriental está destinada a ser lançada, segundo o Ministério da Defesa britânico, “ainda neste Verão”. (Ver Michel Chossudovsky, The US-NATO War on Syria: Western Naval Forces Confront Russia Off the Syrian Coastline? Global Research, July 26, 2012.

A fase 7, nomeadamente a “mudança de regime” – a qual constitui o fim do jogo da guerra humanitária – foi anunciada por Washington em numerosas ocasiões. Nas palavras do secretário da Defesa Leon Panetta, referindo-se ao presidente Bashar Al Assad: “Já não é mais uma questão de se ele está chegar ao fim, é de quando”.

O fim do jogo: Desestabilizar o estado laico, instalar o “Islão político”

O Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security (RUSI) , um think-tank instalado em Londres, com laços estreitos tanto com o Ministério da Defesa britânico como com o Pentágono, sugeriu que “alguma espécie de intervenção [militar] ocidental na Síria está a parecer cada vez mais provável… O que o RUSI tem em mente no seu Resumo sobre a crise síria intitulado A Collision Course for Intervention , é o que pode ser descrito como “Uma invasão suave”, levando ou a uma “ruptura do país” de acordo com linhas sectárias e/ou a instalação de um “regime dominado ou influenciado por islamistas” modelado no Qatar e na Arábia Saudita.

Vários “cenários” envolvendo operações de inteligência “clandestina” são avançados. O objectivo não mencionado destas opções militares e de inteligência é desestabilizar o estado leigo e implementar, através de meios militares, a transição rumo a um “regime pós-Assad dominado ou influenciando pelo Isão” modelado no Qatar e na Arábia Saudita.

“É necessária uma melhor observação das actividades e relacionamento da Al-Qaida e os outros jihadistas salafista internacionais que estão agora a entrar no país em números crescentes. É provável que as comportas se abram ainda mais pois jihadistas internacionais são fortalecidos por sinais de progresso significativo da oposição contra o regime. Tais elementos têm o apoio da Arábia Saudita e do Qatar e teriam sem dúvida um papel na Síria a seguir ao colapso de Assad. O âmbito do seu envolvimento precisaria ser considerado no planeamento da intervenção. (Ibid, p. 9, ênfase acrescentada)

Se bem que reconhecendo que os combatentes rebeldes são rematados terroristas envolvidos na matança de civis, o Resumo RUSI, mencionando considerações tácticas e de inteligência, sugere que as forças aliadas no entanto deveriam apoiar os terroristas (isto é, as brigadas terroristas foram apoiadas pela coligação dirigida pelos EUA desde o início da rebelião em meados de Março de 2011. Forças Especiais integraram a rebelião):

“Que desafios militares, políticos e de segurança apresentariam eles [os jihadistas] ao país, à região e ao Ocidente? Questões que incluem a possibilidade de um regime dominado ou influenciado por islamistas herdando armamento refinado, incluindo sistemas de mísseis anti-aviões e anti-navios e armas químicas e biológicas que podiam ser transferidas para as mãos de terroristas internacionais. Ao nível táctico, seria necessária inteligência para identificar os grupos mais eficazes e como melhor apoiá-los. Também seria essencial saber como eles operam e se o apoio pode ajudá-los a massacrar rivais ou a executar ataques indiscriminados contra civis, algo que já testemunhámos entre grupos da oposição síria”. ( RUSI – SYRIA CRISIS BRIEFING: A Collision Course for Intervention , London, July 2012, ênfase acrescentada, p. 9 )

O reconhecimento acima confirma a resolução dos EUA-NATO de utilizar o “Islão político” – incluindo o posicionamento grupos terroristas filiados à Al Qaeda apoiados pela CIA e o MI6 – para realizar suas ambições hegemónicas na Síria.

Operações encobertas da inteligência ocidental em apoio a entidades terroristas da “oposição” são lançadas para enfraquecer o estado laico, fomentar violência sectária e criar divisões sociais. Recordaremos que na Líbia, os rebeldes “pró democracia” foram conduzidos por brigadas paramilitares filiadas à Al Qaeda sob a supervisão de Forças Especiais da NATO. A muito apregoada “Libertação” de Tripoli foi executada por antigos membros do Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

Opções e acções militares. Rumo a uma “invasão suave”?

Várias opções militares concretas – as quais em grande medida reflectem o pensamento em curso do Pentágono-NATO sobre a matéria – são contempladas no RUSI Syria Crisis Briefing. Todas estas opções são baseadas num cenário de “mudança de regime” exigindo a intervenção de forças aliadas em território sírio. O que é contemplado como uma “invasão suave” modeladas na Líbia sob um mandato humanitário R2P ao invés de uma blitzkrieg total estilo “pavor e choque”.

O Resumo RUSI, contudo, confirma que apoio continuado e eficaz aos rebeldes do Exército Livre Sírio exigirá finalmente a utilização de “poder aéro na forma de caças a jacto e sistema de mísseis lançados do mar, da terra e do ar” combinado com a entrada de Forças Especiais e a aterragem de “infantaria anfíbia aerotransportada” (Ibid, p 16.)

Esta transição rumo ao apoio naval e aéreo concreto ao rebeldes é sem dúvida motivada também pelas derrotas da insurgência (incluindo substanciais perdas rebeldes) que se seguiram à reacção adversa das forças do governo na esteira do ataque terrorista de 18 de Julho contra a sede da Segurança Nacional em Damasco, o qual levou à morte do ministro da Defesa, general Daoud Rajha e de outros altos membros da equipe defesa nacional do país.

Várias acções militares entrecruzadas são encaradas, a serem executadas sequencialmente tanto antes como na esteira da proposta “mudança de regime”.

“A opção avançada, destruição das forças armadas sírias através de uma invasão “pavor e choque” estilo Iraque, poderia sem dúvida ser cumprida por uma coligação dirigida pelos EUA. Como com todas as outras formas de intervenção, contudo, manusear os resultados seria muito menos previsível e poderia arrastar as forças da coligação a um pântano duradouro e sangrento. Actualmente essa opção pode ser excluída como possibilidade realista. … Não há dúvida de que a neutralização substancial da infraestrutura de defesa aérea da Síria poderia ser alcançada por uma operação aérea dirigida pelos EUA. Mas isto exigiria uma campanha grande, sustentada e extremamente custosa incluindo Forças Especiais posicionadas no terrento para apontar alvos.

As opções de intervenção que restam caem grosso modo em três categorias que por vezes se sobrepõem. … A primeira categoria é acção de imposição militar para reduzir ou acabar a violência na Síria, … impedir forças de Assad de atacarem população civil por acção [militar] directa. [O RUSI ignora o facto de que as matanças são cometidas pelo ESL e não por forças do governo, M.C.].

A segunda é tentar provocar mudança de regime por uma combinação de apoio a forças de oposição e acção militar directa. A segunda categoria pode ser aplicada na sequência do colapso do regime. O objectivo seria apoiar um governo pós Assad ajudando a estabilizar o país e proteger a população contra violência inter-facções e represálias. … Uma força de estabilização seria posicionada a pedido do novo governo. Em qualquer cenário de intervenção pode ser necessário ou destruir ou proteger armas químicas da Síria, se elas estiverem prestes a serem utilizadas, transferidas ou de outras formas tornadas inseguras. Isto exigiria forças de combate especializadas e potencialmente tão substanciais que provavelmente seria uma missão que só os EUA poderiam executar. [Recordando as ADM do Iraque, o pretexto das armas químicas da Séria está a ser utilizado para justificar uma intervenção militar mais musculado, M.C.]

A terceira categoria é socorro humanitário – trazer abastecimento e ajuda média a populações assediadas. … Esta forma de intervenção, a qual mais provavelmente seria conduzida sob os auspícios da ONU, exigiria agências de ajuda tais como o Crescente Vermelho Internacional bem como forças militares armadas incluindo poder aéreo, mais uma vez baseado numa coligação NATO. O socorro humanitário pode ser necessário antes ou após uma mudança de regime. (Ver RUSI – SYRIA CRISIS BRIEFING: A Collision Course for Intervention , London July 2012, emphasis added, p.9-10 )

O “socorro humanitário” é muitas vezes utilizado como pretexto para o envio de unidades de combate. Forças especiais e operativos de inteligência são frequentemente despachados sob uma cobertura de ONG.

Acções militares concretas EUA-NATO

Será que o Resumo RUSI reflecte a perspectiva actual do planeamento militar EUA-NATO em relação à Síria?

Que acções militares e de inteligência concretas foram tomadas pela aliança militar ocidental na sequência dos vetos chinês e russo no Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas?

O posicionamento de uma poderosa armada de navios de guerra franceses e britânicos já é encarada numa data não especificada “ainda neste Verão”. (Ver Michel Chossudovsky, The US-NATO War on Syria: Western Naval Forces Confront Russia Off the Syrian Coastline? , Global Research, July 26, 2012)

O Ministério da Defesa britânico, contudo, sugeriu que os deslocamentos da Royal Navy para o Médio Oriente só podiam ser activado “após” os jogos olímpicos de Londres. Dois dos maiores navios de guerra britânicos, o HMS Bullwark e o HMS Illustrious foram designados, a um tremendo custo para os contribuintes britânciso, para “garantir a segurança” dos Jogos Olímpicos. O HMS Bulwark está atracado em Weymouth Bay durante os jogos. O HMS Illustrious está “actualmente ancorado no Tamisa no centro de Londres”. (Ibid)

Estas planeadas operações navais são cuidadosamente coordenadas com avançado apoio aliado ao “Exército Livre da Síria”, integrado por jihadistas mercenários estrangeiros treinados no Qatar, Iraque, Turquia e Arábia Saudita por conta da aliança militar ocidental.

Será que os EUA-NATO lançarão uma operação aérea total?

As capacidades de defesa aérea da Síria, segundo informações, baseiam-se no avançado sistema S-300 da Rússia? (Informações não confirmadas apontam para o cancelamento da entrega pela Rússia, a seguir à pressão de Israel, do avançado sistema míssil S300 terra-ar à Síria) (Ver Israel convinces Russia to cancel Syrian S-300 missile deal: official, Xinhua , June 28, 2012) Outras informações também sugerem a instalação de um avançado sistema russo de radar (Ver Report: Russia Sent Syria Advanced S-300 Missiles , Israel National News, November 24, 2011).

O papel das Forças Especiais

Nos próximos meses, forças aliadas não terão dúvida em centrar-se na desactivação das capacidades militares do país incluindo sua defesa aérea, sistemas de comunicações, através de uma combinação de acções encobertas, guerra cibernética e ataques terroristas do ESL patrocinado pelos EUA-NATO.

Os rebeldes do “Exército Sírio Livre” são de infantaria da NATO. Comandantes do ESFL, muitos dos quais são parte de entidades filiadas à Al Qaeda, estão em ligação permanente com Forças Especiais britânicas e francesas dentro da Síria. O relatório RUSI recomenda que os rebeldes deveriam ser apoiados através do “posicionamento dentro do país de conselheiros das Forças Especiais com apoio aéreo a pedido:

“Conselheiros a trabalharem ao lado de comandantes rebeldes, acompanhados talvez por pequenas unidades de tropas das Forças Especiais, podiam ser táctica e estrategicamente decisivo, como se provou tanto no Afeganistão em 2001 como na Líbia em 2011. (RUSI, op cit, p. 10)

Forças Especiais têm estado no terreno na Síria desde o princípio da insurgência. Relatórios também confirmam o papel de companhia de segurança privadas, incluindo antigos mercenários Blackwater, no treino dos rebeldes do ESL. No que é descrito como “Guerra da América debaixo da mesa”, Forças Especiais no terreno estão em ligação permanente com os militares e a inteligência aliada.

O influxo de combatentes jihadistas mercenários

Desde o impasse no Conseho de Segurança da ONU, uma aceleração no recrutamento e treino de combantes jihadistas mercenários está a verificar-se.

Segundo uma fonte do exército britânico, British Special Forces (SAS) estão agora a treinar “rebeldes” sírios no Iraque “em tácticas militares, manuseamento de armas e sistemas de comunicações”. A informação também confirma que treino militar de comandos está a ser efectuado na Arábia Saudita por conta da aliança militar ocidental:

“Forças Especiais britânicas e francesas têm estado a treinar activamente mercenários do ESL, a partir de uma base na Turquia. Algumas informações indicam que o treino está a ter lugar também em locais na Líbia e no Norte do Líbano. Operativos britânicos do MI6 e pessoal do UKSF (SAS/SBS) tem confirmadamente estado a treinar os rebeldes em guerra urbana bem como a fornecer-lhes armas e equipamento. Acredita-se que operativos estado-unidenses da CIA e forças especiais providenciam assistência em comunicações aos rebeldes”. Elite Forces UK , January 5, 2012

“Mais de 300 [rebeldes sírios] passaram por uma base dentro do Iraque próxima à fronteira, enquanto um curso de comandos está a ser dado na Arábia Saudita.

Grupos de 50 rebeldes de cada vez estão a ser treinados por duas firmas de segurança privada que empregam antigo pessoal de Forças Especiais. “Nosso papel é puramente de instrutores ensinando tácticas, técnicas e procedimentos”, disse um antigo membro da SAS.

“Se podemos ensinar-lhes como encobrir-se, atirar e evitar serem localizados por snipers será uma ajuda esperançosa”. ( Daily Mail , July 22, 2012)

O papel da Turquia e de Israel

O alto comando militar da Turquia tem estado em ligação com a sede da NATO desde Agosto de 2011 relativamente ao recrutamento activo de milhares de “combatentes da liberdade” islamistas, o que recorda o alistamento de Mujahideen pra travar a jihad (guerra sagrada) da CIA no auge da guerra soviético-afegã.

“Também discutido em Bruxelas e Ancara, relatam nossas fontes, está uma campanha para alistar milhares de voluntários muçulmanos em países do Médio Oriente e do mundo muçulmano para combater junto aos rebeldes sírios. O exército turco abrigaria estes voluntários, treinaria e asseguraria a sua passagem para dentro da Síria. ( DEBKAfile , NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011, ênfase acrescentada)

O recente influxo de combatentes estrangeiros numa escala significativa sugere que este diabólico programa de recrutamento Mujahiden, desenvolvido há mais de um ano atrás, tem frutificado.

A Turquia também está a apoiar combatentes da Fraternidade Muçulmana no Norte da Síria. Como parte do seu apoio aos rebeldes do ESL, “a Turquia estabeleceu uma base secreta com aliados da Arábia Saudita e do Qatar para dirigir ajuda militar e de comunicações para rebeldes da Síria a partir de uma cidade próxima à fronteira” Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels | Reuters, July 27, 2012).

O papel de Israel no apoio aos rebeldes, em grande medida caracterizado por operações encobertas de inteligência, tem sido “discreto” mas significativo. Desde o início, o Mossad apoiou grupos terroristas salafistas, os quais tornaram-se activo no Sul da Síria no início do movimento de protesto em Daraa em meados de Março. Informações sugerem que o financiamento para a insurgência Safista está a vir da Arábia Saudita. (Ver Syrian army closes in on Damascus suburbs , The Irish Times, May 10, 2011).

Enquanto canaliza apoio encoberto ao ELS, Israel também está a apoiar separatistas curdos no Norte da Síria. O grupo de oposição curda (KNC) tem ligações estreitas com o Governo Regional Curto de Massoud Barzani no Norte do Iraque, o qual é directamente apoiado por Israel.

A agenda separatista curda é destinada a ser utilizada por Washington e Tel Aviv para procurar a ruptura da Síria de acordo com linhas étnicas e religiosas – em várias entidades políticas separadas e “independentes”. Convém notar que Washington também facilitou o despacho de “militantes da oposição” curda síria para o Kosovo em Maio último para participarem em sessões de treino utilizando a “perícia terrorista” do Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). (Ver Michel Chossudovsky, Hidden US-Israeli Military Agenda: “Break Syria into Pieces “, Global Research, June 2012).

A não tão ocultura agenda militar estado-unidense-israelense é “Romper a Síria em bocado”, tendo em vista apoiar o expansionismo de Israel. ( The Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2012 ).

Confrontação com a Russia

O que se pode esperar nos próximos meses:

1) Um posicionamento naval no Mediterrâneo Oriental, cujo objectivo militar não foi claramente definido pelas forças aliadas.

2) Um maior influxo de combatentes estrangeiros e esquadrões da morte para dentro da Síria e a execução de ataques terroristas cuidadosamente visados em coordenação com os EUA-NATO.

3) Uma escalada no posicionamento de forças especiais aliadas, incluindo mercenários de companhias de segurança privadas contratadas pela inteligência ocidental.

O objectivo, sob a operação “Vulcão Damasco e Terramoto Sírio”, em última análise consistir em estender os ataques terroristas do ESL à capital da Síria, sob a supervisão de Forças Especiais ocidentais e de operativos de inteligência no terreno. (Ver Thierry Meyssan, The battle of Damascus has begun , Voltaire Net, July 19, 2012). Esta opção de alvejar Damasco fracassou. Os rebeldes também foram empurrados para trás em combates intensos na segunda maior cidade da Síria, Alepo.

4) O enfraquecimento do papel da Rússia na Síria – incluindo suas funções sob o acordo de cooperação militar bilateral com Damasco – também é parte da agenda militar e de inteligência dos EUA-NATO. Isto podia resultar em ataques terroristas contra nacionais russos a viverem na Síria.

Um ataque terrorista contra a base naval da Rússia em Tartus foi anunciado menos de duas semanas após o confronto directo no Conselho de Segurança, sem dúvida por ordem dos EUA-NATO tendo em vista ameaçar a Rússia.

A seguir à chegada da flotilha naval russa de dez navios estacionados ao largo da costa síria, um porta-voz do ESL confirmou (26 de Julho) a sua intenção de atacar a base naval da Rússia em Tartus:

“Temos uma advertência às forças russas: se enviarem mais quaisquer armas que matem nossas famílias e o povo sírio nós os atingiremos duramente dentro da Síria”, disse Louay al-Mokdad, coordenador logístico do Exército Livre da Síria (ELS).

“Informantes dentro do regime contam-nos que há grandes carregamentos de armas a chegarem a Tartus nas próximas duas semanas. Não queremos atacar o porto, não somos terroristas, mas se eles continuarem a actuar dessa forma não teremos opção”.

O ELS formou uma “Brigada naval”, composta de desertores da Marinha síria, a qual opera próximo de Tartus. “Muitos dos nossos homens costumavam trabalhar no porto de Tartus e conhecem-no bem”, disse o capitão Walid, um antigo oficial da Marinha Síria. “Estamos a observar muito atentamente os movimentos dos russos”.

“Podemos facilmente destruir o porto. Se atingirmos os armazéns de armas com mísseis anti-tanque ou outra arma isso dispararia uma explosão devastadora”, disse um representante do ELS. “Ou podemos atacar os navios directamente”. ( Syrian rebels threaten to attack Russian naval base – World – DNA , July 26, 2012)

Se a base naval da Rússia viesse a ser atacada, isto, com toda probabilidade, seria empreendido sob a supervisão de forças especiais e operativos de inteligência aliados.

Se bem que a Rússia tenha as capacidades militares necessárias para defender eficazmente sua base naval de Tartus, um ataque à base naval da Rússia constituiria um acto de provocação, o qual podia preparar o cenário para um envolvimento mais visível de forças russas dentro da Síria. Um rumo assim também podia potencialmente levar a uma confrontação directa entre forças russas e forças especiais ocidentais e mercenários a operarem dentro das fileiras rebeldes.

Segundo o RUSI Syria Crisis Briefing citado acima: “Antecipar a acção e contra-acção russa teria de ser um factor importante em qualquer plano de intervenção [militar] do Ocidente [na Síria]. Os russos certamente são capazes de movimentos arrojados e inesperados…” (RUSI, op cit, p. 5).

O mundo numa encruzilhada perigosa

Uma “guerra humanitária” total contra a Síria está em cima da mesa do Pentágono, a qual, se executada, podia levar o mundo a uma guerra regional estendendo-se desde o Mediterrâneo Oriental ao coração da Ásia Central.

Um programa de propaganda refinado e super abrangente apoia a guerra em nome da paz mundial e da segurança global.

O cenário subjacente de conflito mundial vai muito além da concepção diabólica do 1984 de Orwell.

O Ministério da Verdade sustenta a guerra como um empreendimento para fazer a paz invertendo realidades.

Por sua vez, as mentiras e fabricações dos media “de referência” são apresentadas com variadas insinuações numa complexa teia de enganos.

Numa deturpação cínica, atrocidades documentadas contra civis sírios cometidas pela “oposição” do Ocidente estão agora a serem reconhecidas (ao invés de culpabilizar forças governamentais) como “inevitáveis” na penosa transição rumo à “democracia”.

As consequências mais vastas da “Grande Mentira” são obscurecidas.

A guerra humanitária global torna-se um consenso ao qual ninguém pode desafiar.

A guerra à Síria é parte de uma agenda militar integrada à escala mundial. A estrada para Teerão passa por Damasco. O Irão, Rússia, China e Coreia do Norte também estão a ser ameaçados.

Com o posicionamento da armada naval franco-britânica ainda este Verão, navios de guerra ocidentais no Mediterrâneo Oriental estariam contíguos àqueles posicionados pela Rússia, a qual está a conduzir os seus próprios jogos de guerra, levando a uma potencial “confrontação estilo Guerra fria” entre forças navais russas e ocidentais. Ver Michel Chossudovsky, The US-NATO War on Syria: Western Naval Forces Confront Russia Off the Syrian Coastline? , Global Research, July 26, 2012).

Uma guerra à Síria, a qual inevitavelmente envolveria Israel e Turquia, podia constituir a fagulha rumo à guerra regional dirigida contra o Irão, na qual a Rússia e a China podiam ser (directa ou indirectamente) envolvidas.

É crucial difundir estas palavras e romper os canais de desinformação dos media.

Um entendimento crítico e não enviesado do que está a acontecer na Síria é de importância crucial na reversão da maré da escalada militar.

Difunda este artigo o mais amplamente possível.

Ver também:

  • Syrie: Exécutions sommaires massives de prisonniers de guerre par les terroristes islamistes de l’Armée syrienne libre (OTAN)

  • A guerra dos EUA-NATO contra a Síria:   Forças navais do ocidente frente às da Rússia ao largo da Síria , 29/Jul/12

  • “A opção salvadorenha para a Síria” ,26/Mai/12

  • Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret US support for Syrian rebels , Reuters, 1/8/2012

  • Obama does Syriana , 03/Ago/2012 (o título é alusão ao filme Syriana )

    O original encontra-se em http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=32170Este artigo em português encontra-se em http://resistir.info/

  • A fascinating shift has happened in the U.S. mainstream media: After a year of anti-Syria war propaganda and lies, glimmers of truth are making their way into the public’s view. This may be too little too late: the country is being torn at the seams into the nightmare of ethnic-religious cleansing and massacres. 

    After non-stop war mongering, The New York Times took a second to wipe the blood off its hands to report the true state of things in Syria.  Apparently, the previous, ongoing reports about the Syrian army indiscriminately massacring citizens in the city of Homs was simply a lie, repeated over and over.

    It now turns out that the exact opposite was true.

    In actuality, many of the refugees fleeing Homs were persecuted Christians, attacked by members of the Free Syrian Army, who have been killing religious minorities in an attempt to recruit hard-line Sunnis in Syria as they wage a religious war against the Syrian secular state. 

    The Background

    Because the Free Syrian Army did not emerge from a popular revolution — but instead the pocketbooks and arsenal of Saudi Arabia — the war to destroy the Syrian government had to be waged as an ethnic-religious war. Saudi Arabia has a long history of exporting its rare extremist form of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism, as a political tool to help overthrow unfriendly governments.  

    The U.S. has a long-standing alliance with Saudi Arabia in this effort, a dynamic that, over the years, has given birth to both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The U.S. refuses to stop using this strategy because it’s incredibly effective at overthrowing “unfriendly” governments, while keeping large sections of the Middle East stalled in the formative years of Islam, which keeps a good check on any political activity from working people, since in Saudi Arabia protests, labor unions, and civil rights are illegal.  

    The persecuted religious minorities in Homs view the Syrian government as their ally against the U.S. media-darling “liberators” of the Free Syrian Army, puppets of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. 

    Minority Persecution

    The opinion pages of The New York Times laid out the facts better than any previous reporting:  

    “As Saudi Arabian arms and money bolster the [Free Syria Army] opposition, the 80,000 Christians who’ve been ‘cleansed’ from their homes… in Homs Province in March by the Free Syrian Army have gradually given up the prospect of ever returning home.”

    “The [Free Syria Army] rebels’ conduct [ethnic cleansing] has prompted at least some Sunnis who had supported the rebels and once-wavering Syrians to pledge renewed loyalty to Assad. Many who once regarded the regime as a kleptocracy now view it as the best guarantor of Syria’s endangered [ethnic-religious] pluralism.”

    U.S. Complicity

    This sudden somersault of facts has been long known to both the U.S. government and the media. The New York Times continues:  

    “Washington is aware of the scale of the problem [religious fanaticism and minority persecution]. As early as June 2011, Robert Stepen Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, briefed his counterparts in Damascus about Al Qaeda’s penetration of the opposition forces. By still ploughing ahead with its support for Saudi Arabia’s effort to destabilize Syria, Washington, far from assisting Israel or weakening Iran, is helping to fuel a humanitarian crisis that will come back to haunt the United States.”  

    To summarize: U.S. politicians from both parties have lied to the public about the true nature of the conflict in Syria, because it benefited them politically to see a non-U.S. ally destroyed by ethnic-religious barbarism.    

    Finally from The New York Times: 

    “The seeming indifference of the international community to the worsening condition of Syria’s religious minorities — and the near total absence of censure of the opposition forces by the Western governments arrayed against Assad — is breeding a bitter anti-Americanism among many secular Syrians who see the United States aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, the fount of Wahhabism [extremist Sunnis], against the Arab world’s most resolutely secular state.”

    There you have it. It took over a year but suddenly the Syrian war isn’t so black and white, good guys versus bad guy. The Syrian government is by no means to be glorified, but the utter devastation that is being brought to the country was done so on a false premise, by foreign backers — Saudi Arabia and the U.S. — who wanted nothing except to see the country annihilated so that Iran would be isolated and easier to topple. To sell this bloodbath as an advance of democracy — as U.S. politicians and media have done — is beyond hypocritical; it falls under the category reserved for those who are labeled war criminals. 
      
    Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/04/opinion/syrias-crumbling-pluralism.html?_r=1

    China, the world’s largest importer of soybeans, is being badly affected by a global spike in soybean prices sparked by a drought in the US, the world’s largest exporter. If Beijing allows the country to become as dependent on the world market for maize (corn), as it currently is with soybeans, it risks much worse.

    Over the past few years, China has been steadily increasing its imports of maize to provide its meat industry with access to another cheap source of animal feed beyond soybeans. This year China is likely to import a record five million tonnes of maize, and it is on track to buy another seven million tonnes in 2013. This is only around 5% of national maize consumption, but it is still more maize than China imported during all previous 25 years combined. Corporations are now moving aggressively to develop and take control of centres of export production around the world that can supply this potentially huge market.

    A new report by GRAIN, Who will feed China: Agribusiness or its own farmers? Decisions in Beijing echo around the world, shows how China’s growing appetite for global agricultural commodities is already having major repercussions, including land grabs in Africa and Latin America and the exodus of peasants from rural China.

    “When China began importing soybeans as animal feed in the late 1990s to support the growth of its factory farms, it ushered in a dramatic agricultural transformation in both China and Latin America,” says Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with GRAIN. “It killed off small scale meat production in the Chinese countryside and converted pastures, savannahs and forests into plantations in the Southern Cone. Now Beijing could move down the same path with maize, its other major raw material for feed, and the consequences will be equally severe and much more global.”

    “It is in China’s own interest, and certainly in the interest of the rest of the world for China to reverse course,” says Kuyek. “If China were to revitalise small scale livestock farming based on local sources of feed instead of subsidising factory farms that depend on imports of soybeans and maize, it would improve food security and rural livelihoods in the country. It would also help resolve the global food crisis and discourage the land grabs in Africa and other parts of the world targeted as new frontiers for export production to China.”

    The new report by GRAIN shows how and why China has become dependent on imports of crops for animal feed and examines the consequences. It also provides an overview of various projects by Chinese companies to outsource feed production overseas.

    For a copy of the report in PDF or HTML, please visit: http://www.grain.org/e/4546

    Media enquiries can be addressed to:
    Devlin Kuyek in Montreal, Canada
    Email: [email protected]