This important article was first published on June 13, 2002,  revised on September 19, 2002.

In the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center, the finger of guilt was directed toward the only plausible author for such a sophisticated and ruthless act of terror – Osama bin Laden.

Throughout the late ’90′s, we were informed that bin Laden had declared war on America by reason of the American military presence on Saudi soil in the wake of the Persian Gulf War. We were told how bin Laden, ensconced in Afghanistan, headed up a world-wide terror franchise whose sophistication and global reach dwarfed that of the Iranian-financed Hizballah or Islamic Jihad (previously, the most widely known of the terror organizations among the masses in the Middle East).

Bin Laden’s organization, al-Qaida, was presented to us as something entirely new in the annals of terrorism – a far-flung, sophisticated empire of terror, possessing – possibly – weapons of mass destruction, while having no clear or viable state sponsor behind it (as the Afghani Taliban were merely its resident protectors).  In short, by September 11, the United States now had a bona fide enemy – and, as they say in criminal justice parlance, a suspect with motive, means, and opportunity.

And while I was a bit taken at how quickly – and confidently – the fingers were pointing only hours after the 9/11 bombings, I was positively shaken by the first red flag that popped up. His name was John O’Neill – or more precisely, he is the seam that shows. Dated September 12, in a Washington Post article by Vernon Loeb, it was revealed that O’Neill, who died in his capacity as head of security for the World Trade Center, was also formerly the New York FBI Counterterror chief responsible for the investigation into Osama bin Laden. That could perhaps be written off as one of those freak synchronicities. There were the other items – reported quite blandly, in that “there’s nothing to see here, folks” tone – that gave me that sinking feeling. Apparently, O’Neill had a falling-out with the Ambassador to Yemen over his investigative style and was banned from returning there. But then there was that other nugget that I had trouble digesting – that O’Neill had resigned from a thirty-year career in the FBI “under a cloud” over an incident in Tampa – and then left to take up the security position at the WTC (only two weeks before!).

The seam that shows…

For the bulk of his career, like most of his FBI colleagues, John O’Neill was largely unknown to the public at large – respected in his circle, to be sure, yet scarcely meriting much mention in the media – beyond being referenced now and then as an expert on counterterrorism. Yet in the few months leading up to September 11, O’Neill was now suddenly the subject of a series of seemingly unrelated controversies – the first, in July, involving his dispute with the State Department over the conduct of the bin Laden investigation in Yemen; and the second, in August, in which he was reported to be under an FBI probe for misplacing a briefcase of classified documents during an FBI convention in Tampa.

In the light of the aftermath of this second controversy – the documents were found, “untouched”, a few hours later – one wonders why this seemingly minor news would merit such lengthy coverage in the Washington Post and New York Times. Keeping in mind the fact that these latter articles on O’Neill appeared a mere three weeks before he was to die in the rubble of the Twin Towers, one wonders if this wasn’t a well-orchestrated smear campaign against O’Neill, with a bit of unintended “blowback” – as this now-discredited counterterror chief in charge of all bin Laden bombings would finally make the news as a fatal casualty of bin Laden’s final bombing. Coincidence? Or was there something more here that would bear investigating?

My gut told me that, in the months preceding September 11, somebody was out to either discredit John O’Neill or, alternatively, to plant disinformation that could later be used to divert any investigator from a fruitful reconstruction of the forces behind 9/11.  Or, quite possibly, was a mistake made – one pointing the way toward a plan whose scope goes well beyond the designs of Osama bin Laden? In other words, could we spot the telltale fingerprints of a propaganda campaign preceding 9/11?

Well, as they say, a hypothesis is only as good as its usefulness in ferreting out reality. My hypothesis: that the events of September 11 were planned by those who not only had the motive, means, and opportunity to carry out the plan, but also were best placed to manage the consequences stemming from it, as well as managing the flow of information. If this were an “inside job”, the first thing to do was to look at who conveyed specific information on bin Laden before – and I stress, before – 9/11, for they were most likely involved wittingly or not with those who masterminded it.

Virtually the first “smoking gun” was presented the day after 9/11, when Vernon Loeb and Dan Eggen reported in the Post that Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the Al-Quds al Arabi newspaper in London, “received information that he [bin Laden] planned very, very big attacks against American interests” only three weeks before 9/11. Moreover, the article reported that Atwan “was convinced that Islamic fundamentalists aligned with bin Laden were ‘almost certainly’ behind the attacks.” Incidentally, Atwan had personally interviewed bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1996 – among the very few to do so. As reported by Michael Evans in the August 24, 1998 issue of The Times, Atwan “is trusted by bin Laden.”

Curious, perhaps, that Atwan seemed to be one of the major “point men” used in elaborating the Osama bin Laden “legend”, as they say in intelligence parlance. In a U.S. News article dated August 31, 1998, Atwan informs us that bin Laden “is a humble man who lives simply, eating fried eggs, tasteless low-fat cheese, and bread gritty with sand. He hates America.” No flash in the pan, this interviewer. Apparently, bin Laden kept Atwan’s business card tucked away in his toga pocket. “Bin Laden phoned this newspaper, phoned me last Friday,” Atwan revealed in an ABC News LateLine Transcript dated August 25, 1998. We’ll come back to ABC News shortly.

While solidly implicating bin Laden the day after 9/11, Atwan was also the media’s “go-to” guy back in 1998 when he informed us, after President Clinton bombed tool sheds in Afghanistan, that bin Laden issued this threat against the United States: “The battle has not started yet. The response will be with action and not words.” In the same article (which I took from Nando Times), ABC News is the source for an additional threat called in by Ayman al-Zawahiri, a senior bin Laden aide: “The war has just started. The Americans should wait for the answer.” Only a few months before that, ABC had conducted its televised interview of bin Laden. By the summer of 1998, primed by Atwan, ABC NEWS, and a surprisingly small clique of well-worn sources, we had come to know bin Laden as America’s latest “Saddam”, “Qaddafi”, “Noriega” – take your pick and set your bomb sites.

By October 2000, when the U.S.S. Cole was bombed in Yemen, in case there was any doubt, Atwan offered Reuters his helpful analysis with regards to the source of blame: “I do not rule out that this was undertaken by Osama bin Laden. Yemeni groups don’t have the experience to carry out this kind of operation.”  Atwan informed Reuters that bin Laden “was unlikely to claim direct responsibility for Thursday’s attack for fear of U.S. reprisals.” One can imagine, then, that Atwan gave his trusting phone mate cause for many a sleepless night. With friends like these…

Leading up to 9/11, by the Spring of 2001, an incriminating wedding videotape, apparently implicating bin Laden in the Yemen bombing, was circulating around the Middle East after being broadcast on the ubiquitous al-Jazeera television station (reconstituted from the BBC TV Arabic Service – more on them later). In the video, bin Laden, according to the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper (more on them later, too), recited a poem celebrating the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole (shades of deja vu here?) This from the ABCNEWS.com site dated March 1: “Al-Hayat, which carried a photo of bin Laden and his son at the wedding, said its correspondent was the only journalist at the ceremony, also attended by bin Laden’s mother, two brothers and sister who flew to Kandahar from Saudi Arabia.”

And yes, here, too, Atwan offers his thoughtful review of the bin Laden video, courtesy of PTI, datelined London June 22, 2001:

“[Atwan] said the video was proof that the fugitive Saudi millionaire [the Bruce Wayne of terrorists] was fit, well equipped and confident enough to send out a call to arms.”

Why this sudden need for proof? According to Atwan in the same article:

“There have been rumours that [bin Laden] is ill and that he is being contained by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is quite clear from the film that he is in good health to the point where he can fire a rifle, and is free to operate as he chooses.”

In other words, limber enough for his starring role in the months ahead.

So who is Abdel Bari Atwan and why is he anxious to tell us so much? According to the Winter 1999 issue of INEAS (Institute of Near Eastern and African Studies), Abdel Bari Atwan, a Palestinian, was born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in 1950. Educated at the American University of Cairo, Atwan moved to Saudi Arabia and worked as a writer for the al-Madina newspaper. In 1978, he moved to London, where he became a correspondent for the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. In 1988, after shuffling around between Saudi-owned papers, Atwan was offered a position as editor of al-Quds al-Arabi. By his account, he was offered a position as the executive editor of the Saudi-owned al-Hayat (of the bin Laden wedding video coup), yet turned it down to produce a more independent newspaper as a challenge to the “empires” of the Saudi-dominated dailies.

Al-Quds began production in April 1989. A little more than a year later, Saddam invaded Kuwait and al-Quds stood alone as the only Arab newspaper opposed to the Persian Gulf War – at least by Atwan’s account. According to Atwan: “Without the Gulf War, we wouldn’t have taken such political lines, which made us well recognized and well respected.” In November 1996, Bari-Atwan braved a twelve-hour car ride through muddy roads, attired in shabby Afghani rags in below-zero weather, and gave us the early scoop on bin Laden, conducting a one-on-one interview in bin Laden’s [bat]cave. From then on, the mainstream media – CNN, ABC, BBC, Sky News – looked to Bari-Atwan and al-Quds as the “independent” voice of the Arab street.

Incidentally, in a discussion concerning the matter of Saudi domination of the Arabic media, taken from the Carryon.oneworld.org site, Atwan, as editor of his struggling independent, was facing off against Jihad Khazen, the editor of the Saudi-owned al-Hayat. As Atwan proudly related in support of his independence: “One day I was called by the BBC-TV Arabic service [whose staff later reconstituted itself as al-Jazeera television]: ‘There’s a story on your front page today, saying such and such. Is it true?’ I asked why he should doubt it and he replied: ‘It’s not published in al-Hayat [his job offer] or al-Sharq al-Awsat [his alma mater].’ ” Atwan boasts: “At least I can say we are 95 to 96 per cent independent” – leaving out the 4 to 5 per cent spent on bin Laden, I presume. Whether or not al-Quds truly is independent, this is the cover story the mainstream media buys into when they come trolling for their “independent” evidence.

So, to elaborate further on this (so far) fruitful hypothesis, it is my contention that al-Qaida and bin Laden are elaborate “legends” set up to promote a plausibly sophisticated and ferocious enemy to stand against American interests. I am not, however, implying that bin Laden himself is a total fabrication. Rather, it is my contention that confederates, believing themselves to act on behalf of bin Laden, are being set up in a “false flag operation” to perform operations as their controllers see fit.  And who are these controllers? If they’re anything resembling the folks who brought you Hizbullah and Hamas, you wouldn’t be sweating the suitcase nukes (made in America), the Ames strain anthrax (made in America), the MI5-like “sleeper agents” and coded “go” messages. Instead, you would be dodging primitive nail bombs and road mines – and not needing Abdel Bari Atwan to feed you the lowdown on the blame.

In view of the fact that bin Laden is of Saudi origin, that much of the “evidence” on the Arab side initially originated from Saudi-owned or Gulf Anglo-client state sources, and that Saudi Arabia is the major financial sponsor of the Taliban brand of fundamentalism in Afghanistan (as a counter-point to Iran), I believe it is fair to say that Saudi Arabia might possibly be implicated. ” Most likely, the Saudis performed their roles as subservient proxies. We’ll get to the ultimate controllers soon enough (if you haven’t already guessed where this is going). And now, to fill out the picture further, it is necessary to name an equally essential partner as proxy – Pakistan, or, more specifically, Pakistan’s version of the CIA – the ISI (Interservices Intelligence Directorate).

And this is where we begin to “close the circle” of our close-knit pre-9/11 propaganda clique. Returning again to the above-mentioned Dan Eggen and Vernon Loeb Post article of September 12, we’re offered – in a powerful little side-bar – more critical evidence implicating bin Laden for the attacks the day before. This time, the bombshell is offered by Palestinian journalist Jamal Ismail, Abu Dhabi Television’s bureau chief in Islamabad. According to Ismail, a bin Laden aide called him “early Wednesday on a satellite telephone from a hide-out in Afghanistan,” praising the attack yet denying any responsibility for it.  As it turns out, Ismail was also among the select few to conduct his very own bin Laden interview, published by Newsweek in its April 1, 1999 issue. Here is how Newsweek described Ismail’s good fortune: “Palestinian journalist Jamal Ismail’s mobile phone rang just before prayers on December 18. ‘Peace be upon you, ‘ said the voice on the line. ‘You may not recognize me, but I know you.’ ” And thus was Jamal Ismail invited on his own mud-soaked incursion to the bin Laden [bat]cave.

Searching deeper, I found an interesting obscure article penned by respected Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufszai in The News Jang, and dated May 3, 2000.  It details the detention of two men of Kurdish origin, accused by the Taliban of spying for American and Israeli intelligence. As Yusufszai relates it, he spoke to the only journalists allowed by the Taliban to interview the detained men – Jamal Ismail and his cameraman. Apparently, Ismail had a special relationship with the Taliban, allowing him this rare privilege above other journalists. And, as we shall shortly see, so does Yusufszai.  One wonders who debriefs them at the end of a workday. But more interestingly, by May 5, as reported by Kathy Gannon for the Associated Press, the story acquires – as they say – “new legs.” Not only are the basic elements of the Yusufszai story mentioned, but the article leads off with the bombshell that one of the detained men revealed that he was recruited by the United States to find Osama bin Laden. It finishes with a little coda implicating bin Laden in the 1998 embassy bombings. Thus, in the space of two days, Yusufszai’s Pakistani “spy” article sprouts a bin Laden addition when fertilized by the American Associated Press – and nicely provides a plausible explanation as to why a Kurd would be prowling around Afghanistan on behalf of the United States.

Yusufszai, incidentally, moonlighted as an ABC News producer, charged with guiding ABC News correspondent John Miller through the Afghani marshes to the bin Laden [bat]cave – one of the very few American journalists to be accorded such an honour (and also, as it happens, a good friend of bin Laden arch-foe John O’Neill. But not chummy enough to direct O’Neill on to bin Laden’s hideaway). Moreover, Ismail and Yusufszai are mentioned together in a CNN article posted January 4, 1999 – the former for his Newsweek interview, the latter for his own bin Laden dialogue for TIME Magazine the day later.

Rahimullah Yusufszai, regarded by New York Times reporters John Burns and Steve LeVine as “one man who has seen more of the Taliban than any other outsider,” is also named by The Nation, in its article of January 27, 1997, as “one of the favourite journalists of [Pakistan's] ISI…one of the organizations funding and arming the Taliban. ”

It’s a small world after all. In the September 29, 2001 article of PressPlus, Yusufszai’s ABC colleague, John Miller, mused about running into his buddy John O’Neill in Yemen while reporting on the U.S.S. Cole bombing the year before. “He said, ‘So this is the Elaine’s of Yemen.’ ”

“There is a terrible irony to all this,” Miller said. I’ll say: Miller, one of the very few Americans who can give a first-hand account of bin Laden, bumps into his friend, bin Laden’s chief investigator, while both are investigating a bombing in Yemen that will later be tagged onto bin Laden – and only a year before O’Neill dies at the hands of… allegedly …bin Laden.

Now, following the logic of my hypothesis, if the bin Laden threat was, pre-9/11, a close-knit propaganda campaign, one would expect to find the same names showing up repeatedly in combination with one another. This, too, applies to the American commentators. Let us return to the August 1998 American bombings of bin Laden’s tool sheds as an example. The night of the bombing, Rahimullah Yusufszai received a call from bin Laden aide Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a report from the Associated Press. Later, Yusufszai obtained for ABC News exclusive photos of the damage to bin Laden’s camp. Further commentary describing the layout of the bin Laden camp was furnished to the Washington Post by former CIA analyst and terrorism expert Kenneth Katzman, as well as Harvey Kushner of Long Island University. Only little more than a week before that, Katzman and Kushner were offering their assessment of bin Laden’s culpability for the embassy bombings in Africa in a Washington Post article penned by Vernon Loeb and Walter Pincus. They were joined in this effort by Vincent Cannistraro, the ABC news analyst who also escorted John Miller to his bin Laden interview, as well as provided running commentary in the days immediately following 9/11. Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, provided covert aid to the Afghani mujaheddin in the late ’80′s, as well as supervised CIA operations with the contras. He was also one of the point men in the notoriously circumspect investigation at Lockerbie. In the above-noted Loeb and Pincus article – in which bin Laden is quoted from the ABC News Miller and Yusufszai interview – Cannistraro weighs in with his assessment of the embassy bombings: “I believe Osama bin Laden is the sponsor of this operation, and I think all of the indications are pointing that way.”

Soon after the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, a Vernon Loeb Post article, dated October 13, 2000, proceeded to implicate bin Laden through the detailed information provided by Kushner, Katzman, and Cannistraro.  Earlier, in a Vernon Loeb Post article dated July 3, 2000, Yusufszai, Kushner, and Cannistraro unveiled bin Laden aides Ayman al-Zawahiri and Muhammed Atef as the men to watch as bin Laden’s likely successors, with a helpful tidbit on the Zawahiri biography thrown in by the Saudi-owned al-Sharq al-Awsat.

None of the above, of course, is offered as the “smoking gun” pointing the way to a propaganda conspiracy, nor are my chosen examples meant to be exhaustive in evidencing this point.  According to Felicity Barringer, in a New York Times article dated September 24, 2001:  “A good deal of the public information on bin Laden comes from the journalists who went to Afghanistan to interview him, including [Peter] Bergen, … Peter Arnett, John Miller, Rahimullah Yusufzai, and Jamal Ismail.”  The article further makes reference to Vernon Loeb, Al Quds al-Arabi (Atwan), Judith Miller, Al Jazeera, and Brian Jenkins (formerly of Kroll Associates – the security firm that obtained the WTC position for John O’Neill by way of Jerry Hauer).  Clearly, I have also not heretofore made mention of the other experts who have worked assiduously toward building our knowledge base on bin Laden – Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Yossef Bodansky, and various British and EU elites. However, the above examples do show how the information flow on bin Laden could be plausibly managed by the skilfully placed revelations of a relatively insular clique of “experts” called upon repeatedly by the mainstream media.

Here is how it would work:  A relatively few well-connected correspondents provide the “scoops” that get the coverage in the relatively few mainstream news sources – the four TV networks, TIME, Newsweek, CNN – where the parameters of debate are set and the “official reality” is consecrated for the bottom feeders in the news chain. In other countries, this is what is known as propaganda – or, put less politely, psychological warfare.

But before I leave this topic, I would like to provide an example of “news management” that is revealing for what is omitted – that is, the “smoking gun” of Pakistani ISI involvement in the events of 9/11.  On October 9, 2001, the Times of India dropped this little bombshell:  “Top sources confirmed here on Tuesday that [ISI Chief Mahmud Ahmad] lost his job because of the “evidence” India produced to show his links to one of the suicide bombers that wrecked the World Trade Centre. The US authorities sought his removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 were wired to WTC hijacker Mohammed Atta from Pakistan by Ahmad Umar Sheikh at the instance of Gen. Mahmud.”

 What makes this particular piece so devastating is that only days before, much of the mainstream American media was touting the news of a “key link” in the chain of evidence linking bin Laden to the events of September 11 – namely, a $100,000 wire transfer to the hijackers from a shadowy operative linked to bin Laden.  Yet once this operative was “outed” as being linked instead to the Pakistani ISI Chief, any propaganda gains initially made through this evidence would now crumble.  One possible reason might stem from this Karachi News item, released only two days before September 11:

“[Pakistani] ISI Chief Lt-Gen Mahmood’s week-long presence in Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council. Officially, State Department sources say he is on a routine visit in return to [sic] CIA Director George Tenet’s earlier visit to Islamabad…What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time Ziauddin Butt, Mahmood’s predecessor, was here during Nawaz Sharif’s government the domestic politics turned topsy-turvy within days. That this is not the first visit by Mahmood in the last three months shows the urgency of the ongoing parleys…”

In other words, this was a propaganda piece that went disastrously wrong. After October 9, bin Laden’s alleged paymaster could now be linked to a U.S. “ally” who spent the days before 9/11 in deep consultation at the Pentagon.  The US authorities immediately went into damage control mode by insisting on the quiet retirement of the “outed” ISI chief. Thus removed from the public eye, the ISI Chief’s role in all this could be effectively ignored, and an American media black-out could be safely assumed.

Such a scenario certainly fits in snugly with my hypothesis, which I will now proceed to elaborate completely. The events of September 11 were masterminded by those who were in the best position to manage the consequences – namely, those most able to manage the flow of information, those most able to coordinate all the elements necessary for the perpetration of a successful operation (subverting airport security, guiding the planes to their specific targets), and most significantly, those who stood to reasonably benefit in the aftermath. Conspiracies, by their very nature, are not crimes of passion. They may involve rational, albeit cold-blooded, attempts to achieve a desired end by employing the most effective means available. It is for this reason that “mainstream” terror groups like Hamas and Hizbullah largely avoid attacking American interests where such attacks would serve no practical interest. For all their talk of Jihad, these terror groups tend to plan their specific attacks with an eye to the consequences that could reasonably be expected to follow. Thus, knowing the moral and political constraints of Israeli deterrent strategies, they calibrate their attacks to elicit consequences that are most tolerable for them – and hence, manageable. Yet surely, in the light of the cult of suicidal martyrdom, such considerations no longer hold sway. Perhaps. But then, in the case of such a far-flung anti-Zionist movement as al-Qaida, one would expect at least a little more exertion against Israeli interests than has heretofore prevailed – unless, of course, the “point” of al-Qaida was to provide a plausible dire threat to American interests where none had then existed. In any case, as nobody has noticed this particular anomaly, there was no need for any needless exertion of resources in order to bolster a credibility that needed no bolstering in this one particular sector.

Motive, means, and opportunity. While I presented the Saudis and Pakistani intelligence as clear-cut proxies, the only motive these elements would have to benefit from a crime of this nature is an assurance that no punishment would be forthcoming but rather, they would be on the right side of power and wealth among those in a position to determine the booty.

Another anomaly: on the very day that the ISI Chief was in deep consultation at the Pentagon, Ahmed Shah Massoud, the head of the Afghani Northern Alliance – a cultishly popular figure within that group, and a mortal foe of Pakistan’s ISI – was assassinated by two terrorists posing as cameramen. Keeping in mind the fact that, throughout the ’90′s, American leaders such as Clinton, and American companies such as Unocal, were largely throwing their support over to the Taliban in opposition to the Northern Alliance (or United Front), it seems rather convenient that, in the aftermath of 9/11, the way was now cleared for the Northern Alliance to be co-opted as an instrument for setting up a more pliant Afghani government (now headed, incidentally, by a former consultant to Unocal).

So who are the ultimate controllers? To begin with, the circumstantial evidence seems to point to an operative clique primarily based out of New York City and the State of Florida. I stress the word “operative”, as this clique appears to consist of subservient agents involved in laying the preparations. Once again, John O’Neill serves as an effective Rosetta Stone in interpreting the raw outlines of this operative clique (which is by no means a “rogue” clique). The FBI and CIA elements involved in counterterrorism have a checkered past. For one, Oliver North in the 1980′s served as Counterterrorism Chief while he used his office as a cover to deal with such narco-terrorists as Monzar al-Kassar (who figures in the crash at Lockerbie – also investigated by Cannistraro). In the late ’90′s, O’Neill was transferred from the federal office of Counterrorism to the New York Counterrorism Office of the FBI – and it was the New York branch which was then designated as the primary investigator of all overseas investigations involving bin Laden. Moreover, this branch was also involved in the somewhat suspect investigation of TWA 800 – investigated by O’Neill and reported upon by ABC’s John Miller, who was formerly the Deputy Police Commissioner of Public Relations for the NYPD before he joined up with ABC.

 As regards New York, there is another element involved in germ warfare operations. Actually, a multi-million dollar bunker – serving as a command and control center in the event of a biological attack – was set up at 7 World Trade Center at the direction of Rudolph Giuliani, who also oversaw the mass spraying of malathion over the boroughs of New York City when the West Nile Virus hit town a few summers previously.  The man Giuliani placed in charge of that operation, Jerry Hauer, also happened to be the man who found John O’Neill the position at the World Trade Center, as well as being the one who – by his own admission – identified O’Neill’s body.

Moreover, there has been a widespread campaign on to link the threat of al-Qaida with that of a mass biological attack. At least the day after September 11, the link – as the Anthrax mailings had yet to arise – was not so apparent. Yet on PBS’ Frontline, the New York Times’ Judith Miller (no apparent relation to John Miller, as far as I’m aware), accompanied by the New York Times’ James Risen, was interviewed as an expert on al-Qaida. Several weeks later, Judith Miller would once more make the headlines as the apparent recipient of an anthrax mailing which turned out to be a false alarm – yet was all the same conveniently timed with the well-publicized launching of her book on…germ warfare. As was later discovered, the anthrax mailings petered out once the news leaked that a DNA test revealed the material to be of the Ames strain of anthrax, an agent synthesized out of a CIA laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland.  Nevertheless, this was sufficient to fast-track Bioport’s exclusive license for the anthrax vaccine toward FDA approval. Formerly, Bioport’s experimental anthrax vaccine was being forcibly administered – under threat of court-martial – to hundreds of thousands of American servicemen (in conformity with Bioport’s exclusive and lucrative contract with the Department of Defense).

 Incidentally, Judith Miller, along with Jerry Hauer, was among 17 “key” participants in a biowarfare exercise known as “Dark Winter” – a think tank-funded scenario that aimed to study the nationwide effects of a hypothetical smallpox outbreak.  One of the sponsors of that exercise was the Anser Institute of Homeland Security, an organization established before September 11, 2001.  Interestingly enough, the curious phrase “homeland security” was starting to creep up with increasing frequency in the vocabularies of certain political cliques (Dick Cheney, the Hart-Rudman Commission, et al.) in the year or two leading up to 9/11. 

The point of the above-noted information is to draw attention to an apparent propaganda campaign to prepare the public for a catastrophic biological attack. As with the Twin Towers, the blame for any coming attack may be duly and plausibly assigned by those who carefully laid the groundwork in preparing us for this eventuality.

As for Florida, the connection with this state is obvious, for not only was the first anthrax mailing directed to the Florida offices of the National Enquirer, but many of the accused hijackers were also reported to receive their pilot training from flight schools in Venice and Tampa. Notably, it was a Florida bank account to which hijacker Mohamed Atta allegedly deposited his 9/11 pay cheque.  Moreover, Florida, by way of the MacDill Air Force Base, is also Central Command for the war in Afghanistan.  In addition to its function as Central Command for the war on terrorism, MacDill is -outside of Langley – also a major base of the CIA. Thus, in the CIA’s own backyard, we find the infrastructure and financial support that went into the planning for the events of 9/11. And, as we so often find with events surrounding 9/11, another synchronicity – for coincidentally enough, the woman who reportedly happened to find an apartment for one of the alleged hijackers was the wife of the senior editor of the National Enquirer. Moreover, her husband, Michael Irish, also happened to make use of an airfield that reportedly served as flight training for some of the hijackers. I emphasize the word “reportedly,” as the possibility always exists that this “reported fact” may be nothing more than disinformation, strategically placed to divert attention from a possibly more subtle truth.  In intelligence operations, foreign assets are often placed with resident “controllers” whose job it is to supervise the asset as well as provide accommodations as the need arises. Who are Michael and Gloria Irish? Or, perhaps more revealingly, what kind of social circles do they run with? This is certainly an avenue worth exploring – by reason of its many synchrocities if for nothing else. Again, the seam that shows.

As a little side-note, Tampa experienced its own mass spraying of malathion, a mutagenic pesticide, when it encountered a med fly outbreak the year before New York’s West Nile outbreak.  In the end, the flies were contained through a sterile med fly program administered out of MacDill Air Force base.

So, to sum up, it appears that the events of September 11 were planned years in advance, with the groundwork being carefully laid by a propaganda campaign orchestrated to convince the public that the United States has a plausibly sophisticated nemesis with the motive, means, and opportunity to perpetrate a devastating act of terror against Americans. Toward that end, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been used as the primary proxy agents to run a “false flag” operation, setting up and financing the infrastructure of al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Through madrassas based in Pakistan, Saudi and Yemenite militants were instructed in the Saudi brand of Wahabbi Islam, and subsequently “graduated” to the camps that were set up in Afghanistan – again, under Saudi and Pakistani sponsorship. Stateside, the operative agents were mostly based out of New York City and Florida. In the aftermath of 9/11, elements in the American government are now widely disseminating information in vast quantities, overwhelming the populace and lending credibility to the government’s version of events. Thus, post-9/11, the actions of this formerly insular propaganda clique are no longer perceptible. Information is now being doled out in generous portions to credulous reporters who are outside the loop, yet perform their unwitting service as “bottom feeders” in the downward flow of information.

In all cases, the actions of these proxy agents and operative planners are sufficiently distanced and compartmentalized from the true masterminds to create a condition of “plausible deniability”. In short, the proxies have also been set up as possible patsies with evidence that has been carefully laid to incriminate them should cracks in the “official story” become too discernible. Moreover, the groundwork has already been carefully laid to cast aspersions on another convenient patsy – the Jews, by way of the State of Israel and its supporters. Already, for those prone to perceive Jewish conspiracies, the reliable vein of anti-Semitism – combined with anti-Zionism – has been mined to distract the masses and to create a modern version of the ritual blood libel, thereby further “muddying the waters” should the true masterminds be threatened with exposure. In other words, the present difficulties in the Middle East work perfectly to set up the State of Israel as a plausible alternative suspect with motive, means, and opportunity. Toward that end, a low-level “buzz” has been circulating over the Internet (and especially in Europe) of an Israeli spy ring that was rounded up in the days after September 11.  Whether or not these reports are credible is not the point.  Most likely, there was a spy ring operating, and various Israelis were unwittingly set up as patsies, to be exposed should the need arise. Thus, while evidence may be marshaled to taint the Saudis, Pakistanis, or Israelis, the real guilt must inevitably lie with those in the best position to manage the flow of information as well as reliably benefit from the new order created, primarily, the political and corporate elites of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union – also, as it happens, the very parties orchestrating the global war on terrorism. In this respect, the Saudis, Pakistanis, or Israelis have far less to gain (other than the benefits of going along with the designs of the rich and mighty).

I could go on and further highlight the obvious geostrategic gains of those who are clearly managing the flow of information – the proverbial pipelines, oil, wealth, and so forth. But I think those purported benefits are a bit of a “red herring” – more of a side benefit than the main motivating factor. Americans and their allies would have easily supported a thrust into Afghanistan for a provocation far less costly and bloody than this (such as Kuwait in the early ’90′s).  It is no small act to intentionally take down such an overarching symbol of financial stability as the Twin Towers, and chance killing thousands in the process. Such a conspiracy, if in fact perpetrated from within, would by its nature necessitate a huge structural, cultural, and demographic change. The very brazenness of the act, the naked aggression, would necessitate a tenacious determination to achieve the ends for which these actions were perpetrated.  There is no going back now. An infrastructure is being laid out – one that will, finally, provide a dissident-proof totalitarian oligarchy composed of like-minded elites served by an under-class kept under constant surveillance. The edifice of this regime is being constructed, brick by brick, with the mortar of the Office of Homeland Security (to centralize and coordinate an effective police state), the Freedom Corps (to indoctrinate the most idealist – and therefore activist – elements of the populace toward service to the state), and the Patriot Act (to provide the legal basis for subverting long-held rights under the screen of national security). If all of this sounds strangely familiar, if it is redolent of Huxley and Orwell, that is perhaps because Huxley and Orwell were both intimately involved with the elites of their time – in fact, were fully subsumed among them – in ways that made their future projections abundantly prescient, and, in their minds, inevitable. With further refinements in mind control technologies – yes, they do exist – as well as the monopolization of the food supply by way of sterile seed “terminator technology” – the approval for which was granted in the months following 9/11 – the masses may be perpetually culled and exploited by those who hold the keys to this fully managed society.

If this notion of reality strikes you as somewhat dissonant, at odds with your own personal experience, it may be perhaps that we have not quite arrived there yet, and that you have personally not felt the corrosive lash of political corruption and governmental malfeasance. In all likelihood, you have not read the mountain of evidence detailing political and elite deviant behaviour in this country. You may even be dismissive of “conspiracy theories”, yet wholly unaware of the well-documented attempts by the CIA and FBI to subvert, surveil, and propagandize the populace through programs such as Project Mockingbird (media infiltration) and MK-Ultra (mind control through chemical, hypnotic, or electro-magnetic means). These programs are effected primarily through “think tanks” that are set up across the United States for the purpose of disseminating information and propaganda under the rubric of “expertise”. Moreover, various foundations, such as the Rockefeller or Ford Foundations, are often used as funnels to finance and feed the arteries of these propaganda networks. In the 1970′s, a good deal of this structural corruption was officially exposed – in a “limited hang-out” – by way of the Church Commission, as well as the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Thereafter, much of the most damaging revelations were played down or ignored by the mainstream media, and the waters were then muddied by a stream of outlandish conspiracy theories – aliens, Elvis, etc. – that merely served to discredit the information that was most credible. “Muddying the waters”, incidentally, is a tried and true staple of the intelligence craft.

It is really just a matter of familiarizing yourself with all the documented anomalies that do not accord with the received, mainstream reality put forth to you by the mainstream media. As a practical guide to begin, you might want to confine your search to strictly “mainstream” sources, as I have sought to do in attempting to construct my case on 9/11. My evidence is by no means exhaustive. In fact, it is merely the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Yet proceeding in this direction, under my hypothesis, has been most fruitful in analyzing the various anomalies that pop up now and then.

Any simple keyword search of the following terms may be helpful in pointing toward a more substantive understanding of the elites who ultimately guide your fortunes: “Iran-Contra” , “Mena”, “BCCI”, “Project Paperclip”, “Michael Aquino”, “Paul Bonacci”, “Operation Northwoods”, “MK-Ultra”. Much of the information on these topics is credible and well-documented. More disturbingly, it highlights behavior committed by the very same elites who are now interpreting the events of 9/11 for you. Read for yourself, and decide, at the end of the day, how much credibility you will continue to accord to those who claim to be the proper trustees of your fate and well-being.Chaim  Kupferberg is a freelance researcher and writer.

The original article URL of this article is:

http://globalresearch.ca/articles/KUP206A.html

 

Note: This paper was presented at the Left Forum held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York during May 30-June 1, 2014. The panel hosted by the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) was entitled “The Economics of Imperialism in the 21st Century” and was chaired by Gary Labao of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines. In addition to Abayomi Azikiwe, the panel also featured Bernadette Elorin, the chairperson of BAYAN USA, Berta Joubert-Ceci of the Women’s International Democratic Federation and Bill Doares, Vice-Chair of the International League of People’s Struggle, U.S. chapter.

V.I. Lenin   provided the most comprehensive as well as succinct definition of imperialism in his famous book, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” that was published during World War I. In this book Lenin deals with changing character of imperialism and the supremacy of international finance capital as the dominant interests within the world capitalist system.

After nearly a century, Lenin’s study of the changing economic character of world capitalism remains important in understanding the nature of international relations and the class character of modern society. Wealth has become even more concentrated during the first two decades of the 21st century despite monumental strides in the areas of technological development and industrial productivity.

Lenin said in Chapter VII of this above-mentioned work that

“If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism. Such a definition would include what is most important, for, on the one hand, finance capital is the bank capital of a few very big monopolist banks, merged with the capital of the monopolist associations of industrialists; and, on the other hand, the division of the world is the transition from a colonial policy which has extended without hindrance to territories unseized by any capitalist power, to a colonial policy of monopolist possession of the territory of the world, which has been completely divided up.”

The two World Wars fought during the first half of the 20th century were designed to carve up the spoils of colonial conquest and exploitation. Nonetheless, these wars could not resolve the quest for hegemony by the imperialist states, of course, due to the intervention of the masses of workers and peasants who rose up during the aftermath of these conflagrations.

Imperialism and Neo-Colonialism

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a leader in the Gold Coast Revolution (later Ghana) and a proponent of Pan-Africanism and Socialism, later identified neo-colonialism as the final phase of imperialism in a book he published in 1965 entitled “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism” issued on the eve of his removal from power by a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) engineered coup in Feb. 1966. The colonial and semi-colonial powers may relinquish the appearance of control through the recognition of independent states and their governments, yet they maintain their quest for hegemony through the control of the international division of labor and the dominance over the economic relations of production, ownership and trade.

Nkrumah wrote in the chapter entitled “The Mechanisms of Neo-Colonialism,” that

“Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.”

In the following paragraph, Nkrumah then goes on to identify the principal enemy of the forces of national liberation, anti-imperialism and socialism throughout the world. He notes that

“Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America. Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after world war two when most countries of that continent were indebted to her. Since then, with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world.”

These words still carry resonance in the second decade of the 21st century. The motivations behind imperialist militarism are based upon their attempts to maintain control of the economic resources of the world.

In relationship to the situation in Africa today there appears to be a counter-narrative related to the reports of phenomenal economic growth while at the same time the ominous threat of “global terrorism” provides a rationale for deepening military and intelligence interventions. Although the U.S. is leading in this approach, other imperialist states such as France, Britain, Canada and Germany are also heavily involved.

The formation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) signaled a renewed threat to the sovereignty of the continent. In this current phase of post-colonial history, the Pentagon, the CIA and NATO forces along with the State of Israel are involved in numerous African states.

Under the guise of providing emerging African states with assistance in enhancing their internal security apparatuses to guard against “terrorism,” the African Union member-states are becoming less stable and incapable of resolving their own internal problems. This contradiction also has served to undermine the tenuous existence of African unity as demonstrated in the EU-Africa summit held in Brussels, Belgium.

The Domestic Character of Neo-Colonialism

When the character of imperialism is analyzed it cannot be merely limited to foreign policy concerns of the Western capitalist states. Within the domestic confines of these countries there are oppressed nations that have been subjected to domination and super-exploitation.

In the U.S., the growing populations of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Middle Eastern communities, etc., are creating the conditions for major shifts in the political culture of the country. Consequently, a renewed series of attacks are being carried out against these populations under the rubric of privatization aimed at capitalist re-structuring.

For example in Detroit, the banks have driven nearly a quarter-of-a-million people, mainly African Americans, from the city over the last decade-and-a-half. This assault on the population was carried out utilizing economic means such as home foreclosures and predatory municipal lending engineered by the financial institutions.

The imposed emergency management and forced bankruptcy of Detroit, the largest per capita African American populated municipality in the U.S., was carried out not by the people who live in the city but by racist right-wing governor utilizing a dictator who works as an agent of the banks.

This is why we raised the slogan “Cancel the Debt.” We realize that the current situation was created by the criminal actions of international finance capital carried out on a domestic level.

These attacks against the people of Detroit and other municipalities in Michigan, most of whom have majority African American populations, are also designed to set a precedence for the nationwide seizure of public pension funds, public assets, the privatization of schools, the driving down of wages and the theft of any semblance of even bourgeois democratic practice and norms. This is why the most advanced forces in Detroit have reached out to nationally oppressed and working class communities throughout the U.S. and indeed the world.

The struggle in Detroit and other municipalities throughout the country is part and parcel of a world struggle against imperialism. Consequently, despite the increasing impoverishment and repression of the majority of the world’s population, which is well under way, this current phase provides the basis for the building of greater solidarity efforts which in the end will prevail over the ever-shrinking ruling class that remains mired in perpetual crises necessitating even more wars and greater degrees of economic exploitation.

Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism official, has recently come out suggesting that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld should be charged with war crimes. Unfortunately, media outlets reporting this story have failed to examine Clarke’s long relationship to Cheney and Rumsfeld and his record of having prevented the capture of Osama bin Laden. These omissions highlight that, although Cheney and Rumsfeld undoubtedly are guilty of post-9/11 war crimes, suspicions that they helped create the pretext for those crimes go unreported.

Clarke’s history is regularly misrepresented in the media. It’s often said that he started in his counterterror position under Clinton when he was, in fact, appointed to it by George H.W. Bush in 1992. Clarke is a right wing hawk who had close ties to Cheney and Rumsfeld going back at least another decade with his selection for a secret Reagan Administration project. Clarke, Cheney and Rumsfeld were among a small group that spent nearly 30 years practicing to takeover the United States government in the Continuity of Government (COG) program. Their secretive COG plan was implemented only once—on the morning of 9/11.

Considering the media’s treatment of Clarke, it’s no surprise that most people have little or no understanding of his relationship to Cheney and Rumsfeld. It’s also not surprising that some people don’t know why these men are primary 9/11 suspects, despite the many reasons to consider that Cheney and Rumsfeld were behind the attacks. Much of the evidence against Cheney and Rumsfeld is circumstantial. But the amount of evidence linking them to the crimes is far greater than that used to accuse Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Osama bin Laden.

Apart from George W. Bush, who was well controlled on that day, Cheney and Rumsfeld were in the most important positions of power on 9/11. Some of their closest colleagues were also in positions to affect the crimes.

  • Rumsfeld’s direct subordinate Ralph Eberhart was in charge of the military exercises that disrupted the nation’s air defense response on 9/11.
  • Cheney’s protégé Duane Andrews led SAIC on 9/11. Andrews was a leading expert on the DOD systems that failed and SAIC had numerous suspicious links to the facilities and systems impacted, as well as to the official accounts for what happened.
  • Rumsfeld’s deputy Paul Wolfowitz managed the Pentagon renovation project that was focused on the exact spot where the Pentagon was hit.
  • Rumsfeld’s fellow ABB director Peter Janson managed the company that did the renovation work at the Pentagon and that was hired to clean up the Pentagon and the WTC.
  • After the attacks, Cheney’s old business partner Bruce Bradley went into business with WTC security company manager Barry McDaniel.
  • Rumsfeld’s close friend Frank Carlucci ran the Carlyle Group, a company that was partly funded by the Bin Laden family and that employed Barry McDaniel before he left to run security at the WTC.
  • Cheney and Rumsfeld were both on the advisory board of Salomon Smith Barney, the company that occupied almost all of WTC 7.
  • Paul Bremer, the terror propagandist who was selected by Rumsfeld to govern occupied Iraq, had an office in the WTC and helped present the official account of what happened.
  • Porter Goss, the old CIA operative who ran the initial investigation, had “long shown himself to be under the spell of Vice President Dick Cheney.”

The actions of Cheney and Rumsfeld on 9/11 also suggest their involvement in the crimes.

Vice President Cheney was in charge at the White House. That morning, he had an unusual early meeting with Sean O’Keefe, who was deputy assistant to the president and Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. O’Keefe had been a close colleague of Cheney at the Pentagon and served as Secretary of the Navy under George H.W. Bush. The meeting with O’Keefe was remarkable in that, unlike Cheney’s normal meetings, it was unscheduled and lasted longer than Cheney normally allowed. And although the conversation seemed urgent, “In time, neither man would be able to recall what it was that had been so important.”

The attacks began as Cheney and O’Keefe were meeting in Cheney’s office. O’Keefe then left and Cheney began another meeting with his speechwriter. It was reported that other members of the White House staff began to congregate there until the Secret Service came in to move the vice president to the lower levels.

When questioned by the 9/11 Commission, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta testified that he came to the basement operations center at the White House, around 9:20 a.m., and Cheney was already there. Mineta said that Cheney had an exchange with a “young man” who came in and out over a period of time, giving Cheney updates about an incoming plane and asking if “the orders still stand.” Mineta’s testimony indicates that Cheney was aware of Flight 77 as it was approaching Washington, before the official account says that anyone knew, and that he was maintaining orders about that incoming plane.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was in charge at the Pentagon. As the attacks were beginning, he was finishing a breakfast meeting with Pentagon leaders. Attendees said that at this meeting Rumsfeld predicted that a shocking world event would occur in the near future, one that would remind people of the need for a strong U.S. military.

By the time that the second plane hit the WTC, Rumsfeld had moved on to a meeting with his CIA briefer. Reports vary on where he was after that, but national security advisor Condoleezza Rice claimed that she could not reach him. Some said that Rumsfeld continued with regularly scheduled meetings after the second strike, and that he was on a roll with his predictions that morning. Apparently, he told Congressman Christopher Cox “Believe me, this isn’t over yet. There’s going to be another attack, and it could be us.” Minutes later, the Pentagon was hit.

After the Pentagon was hit, Rumsfeld wandered out to the parking lot for approximately 30 minutes. His presence there showed that he was not concerned about other planes that were reported hijacked and that he was not considering the danger to other potential targets. It was as if he knew what to expect.

To explain his behavior, Rumsfeld later stated; “I wanted to see what had happened. I wanted to see if people needed help. I went downstairs and helped for a bit with some people on stretchers. Then I came back up here and started—I realized I had to get back up here and get at it.”

Rumsfeld did not concern himself with the work of his direct subordinate, NORAD commander Ralph Eberhart, and he did not do his job to ensure the nation’s air defenses. Meanwhile, NORAD experienced inexplicable failures and Eberhart lied about it to Congress afterward.

After the 9/11 attacks, Cheney tried to prevent an investigation.  It was later learned that Rumsfeld co-authored a letter to the 9/11 Commission, warning it to limit its investigation and denying it access to critical evidence. According to Kean and Hamilton’s book Without Precedent, each of the commissioners was also invited to have private meetings with Rumsfeld, who gave them advice throughout the investigation. This was despite the fact that Rumsfeld’s DOD failed to provide many of the documents that had been requested.

Considering the unraveling of the official accounts for 9/11, people don’t need more deceptive comments from Richard Clarke about the obvious post-9/11 crimes of Cheney and Rumsfeld.  What people need to understand is that Cheney and Rumsfeld were running the show on 9/11 and were in perfect position to coordinate the attacks. Their actions on that day, as well as their surprising links to others who had the access and knowledge to accomplish the crimes, make them prime suspects.

The American media is once again exhibiting its boundless capacity for dispensing propaganda and promoting the most backward and reactionary conceptions. Such is the campaign of vilification directed against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released May 31 in Afghanistan in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban.

An op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday reached new depths by floating the suggestion that the proper response to the return of Bergdahl was to assemble a firing squad. The column quoted Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: “Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”

The campaign against Bergdahl has featured a group of former members of his platoon in Afghanistan who have been organized and mobilized by right-wing political operatives of the Republican Party. Richard Grenell, a former aide to then-US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who went on to work in 2012 for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, has been identified as the main go-between for the former soldiers and their media publicists.

The networks are putting these men on the air to make various allegations against Bergdahl without having carried out any independent investigation into their veracity. The target of this coordinated attack, confined to a US military hospital in Germany, is unable to respond to the charges against him and defend himself.

Besides the usual suspects at Fox News, talk radio, and ultra-right blogs, the so-called “mainstream media” has joined in the onslaught. While interviewing an ex-soldier who had served with Bergdahl, NBC Today Show host Savannah Guthrie asked directly whether the former POW should be prosecuted for desertion.

On the op-ed page of the New York Times, Alex Berenson, a former embedded Times reporter in Iraq and Afghanistan, also cited Article 85, adding, “Sergeant Bergdahl may have broken any number of military laws.” He continued,

“I don’t see how the Pentagon can avoid re-examining what happened on June 30, 2009” [The day Bergdahl left his unit and was captured by the Taliban]. “If Sergeant Bergdahl is proved mentally competent to stand trial, maybe he deserves a few years in Leavenworth to reflect on his dereliction of duty.”

Some media reports have quoted snippets of e-mail messages sent by Bergdahl to his parents during the months before his capture by the Taliban, demonstrating his increasing disillusionment with the war in Afghanistan. Long extracts of these e-mails appear in a profile of Bergdahl and his family in the June 21, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone, headlined America’s Last Prisoner of War. Bowe apparently reached the breaking point on June 25, 2009, after a young officer he knew and liked was killed by a roadside bomb.

Two days later he wrote his parents, “… I am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting.”

“I am sorry for everything here,” he continued. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”

Referring to a particularly gruesome incident he had witnessed, he added, “We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.”

Shortly thereafter, Bergdahl left his unit, armed only with a knife, apparently intending to walk to Pakistan or China, and was captured soon after by the insurgents. According to the Rolling Stone account, he escaped at least once, in August or September 2011, but was recaptured.

The most odious smear against Bergdahl is the suggestion that he is responsible for the deaths of American soldiers, supposedly because they were searching for him in eastern Afghanistan and ran into IEDs or Taliban ambushes. A list of either six or eight soldiers has been given enormous media publicity, and the supposed link between their deaths and Bergdahl’s disappearance asserted as fact.

Wednesday’s New York Times, however, in a front-page report citing evidence from the Afghanistan war logs leaked to WikiLeaks by Army private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, acknowledged that there was no evidence of a connection between these deaths and Bergdahl.

Perhaps the most apt response came from Thomas Ricks, former Washington Post reporter and author of several books on the Iraq war, who wrote on Twitter, “Re Bergdahl: If we’re trying people for causing the deaths of soldiers, I know of a lot of people more culpable than a depressed private.”

At the top of such a list would be George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The real purpose of the campaign against Bergdahl is to counter his antiwar views, which give expression to the sentiments of the vast majority of the American population. It is a continuation of the media’s efforts to conceal the criminal and neo-colonial character of the war. The witch-hunt against Bergdahl is of a piece with the US media’s campaign of denigration and slander against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Private Manning in retaliation for their exposure of war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.

As far as the media apologists for imperialism are concerned, a soldier who is horrified by crimes against humanity and refuses to participate in them is a criminal, while those who obediently carry out atrocities are heroes. It should be recalled that the defense of “just carrying out orders” was flatly repudiated by the Nuremberg Tribunal into the crimes of the Nazis during World War II. Those who would revive it today are paving the way for even greater crimes.

Spying has been around since the dawn of civilization. Keith Laidler – a PhD anthropologist, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a past member of the Scientific Exploration Society – explains:

Spying and surveillance are at least as old as civilization itself.

University of Tennessee history professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius agrees:

Espionage and intelligence have been around since human beings first began organizing themselves into distinct societies, cities, states, nations, and civilizations.

Unfortunately, spying hasn’t been limited to defense against external enemies. As documented below, tyrants have long spied on their own people in order to maintain power and control … and crush dissent.

Laidler notes:

The rise of city states and empires … meant that each needed to know not only the disposition and morale of their enemy, but also the loyalty and general sentiment of their own population.

Benevolent rulers don’t need to spy on their own people like tyrants do. Even the quintessential defender of the status quo for the powers-that-be – Cass Sunstein – writes:

As a general rule, tyrants, far more than democratic rulers, need guns, ammunition, spies, and police officers. Their decrees will rarely be self-implementing. Terror is required.

From Ancient Egypt to Modern America …

The Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence and Security notes:

Espionage is one of the oldest, and most well documented, political and military arts. The rise of the great ancient civilizations, beginning 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, begat institutions and persons devoted to the security and preservation of their ruling regimes.

***

Early Egyptian pharos [some 5,000 years ago] employed agents of espionage to ferret-out disloyal subject and to locate tribes that could be conquered and enslaved.

***

The Roman Empire possessed a fondness for the practice of political espionage. Spies engaged in both foreign and domestic political operations, gauging the political climate of the Empire and surrounding lands by eavesdropping in the Forum or in public market spaces. Several ancient accounts, especially those of the A.D. first century, mention the presence of a secret police force, the frumentarii . By the third century, Roman authors noted the pervasiveness and excessive censorship of the secret police forces, likening them to an authoritative force or an occupational army.

The BBC notes:

In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was more powerful than most governments – and it had a powerful surveillance network to match.

French Bishop Bernard Gui was a noted author and one of the leading architects of the Inquisition in the late 13th and early 14th Centuries. For 15 years, he served as head inquisitor of Toulouse, where he convicted more than 900 individuals of heresy.

A noted author and historian, Gui was best known for the Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Depravity, written in 1323-24, in which he outlined the means for identifying, interrogating and punishing heretics.

The U.S. Supreme Court noted in Stanford v. Texas (1965):

While the Fourth Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] was most immediately the product of contemporary revulsion against a regime of writs of assistance, its roots go far deeper. Its adoption in the Constitution of this new Nation reflected the culmination in England a few years earlier of a struggle against oppression which had endured for centuries. The story of that struggle has been fully chronicled in the pages of this Court’s reports, and it would be a needless exercise in pedantry to review again the detailed history of the use of general warrants as instruments of oppression from the time of the Tudors, through the Star Chamber, the Long Parliament, the Restoration, and beyond.

What is significant to note is that this history is largely a history of conflict between the Crown and the press. It was in enforcing the laws licensing the publication of literature and, later, in prosecutions for seditious libel, that general warrants were systematically used in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In Tudor England, officers of the Crown were given roving commissions to search where they pleased in order to suppress and destroy the literature of dissent, both Catholic and Puritan. In later years, warrants were sometimes more specific in content, but they typically authorized of all persons connected of the premises of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel, or the arrest and seizure of all the papers of a named person thought to be connected with a libel.

By “libel”, the court is referring to a critique of the British government which the King or his ministers didn’t like … they would label such criticism “libel” and then seize all of the author’s papers.

The Supreme Court provided interesting historical details in the case of Marcus v. Search Warrant(1961):

The use by government of the power of search and seizure as an adjunct to a system for the suppression of objectionable publications … was a principal instrument for the enforcement of the Tudor licensing system. The Stationers’ Company was incorporated in 1557 to help implement that system, and was empowered

“to make search whenever it shall please them in any place, shop, house, chamber, or building or any printer, binder or bookseller whatever within our kingdom of England or the dominions of the same of or for any books or things printed, or to be printed, and to seize, take hold, burn, or turn to the proper use of the aforesaid community, all and several those books and things which are or shall be printed contrary to the form of any statute, act, or proclamation, made or to be made. . . .

An order of counsel confirmed and expanded the Company’s power in 1566, and the Star Chamber reaffirmed it in 1586 by a decree

“That it shall be lawful for the wardens of the said Company for the time being or any two of the said Company thereto deputed by the said wardens, to make search in all workhouses, shops, warehouses of printers, booksellers, bookbinders, or where they shall have reasonable cause of suspicion, and all books [etc.] . . . contrary to . . . these present ordinances to stay and take to her Majesty’s use. . . . ”

Books thus seized were taken to Stationers’ Hall where they were inspected by ecclesiastical officers, who decided whether they should be burnt. These powers were exercised under the Tudor censorship to suppress both Catholic and Puritan dissenting literature.

Each succeeding regime during turbulent Seventeenth Century England used the search and seizure power to suppress publications. James I commissioned the ecclesiastical judges comprising the Court of High Commission

“to enquire and search for . . . all heretical, schismatical and seditious books, libels, and writings, and all other books, pamphlets and portraitures offensive to the state or set forth without sufficient and lawful authority in that behalf, . . . and the same books [etc.] and their printing presses themselves likewise to seize and so to order and dispose of them . . . as they may not after serve or be employed for any such unlawful use. . . .”

The Star Chamber decree of 1637, reenacting the requirement that all books be licensed, continued the broad powers of the Stationers’ Company to enforce the licensing laws. During the political overturn of the 1640′s, Parliament on several occasions asserted the necessity of a broad search and seizure power to control printing. Thus, an order of 1648 gave power to the searchers

“to search in any house or place where there is just cause of suspicion that Presses are kept and employed in the printing of Scandalous and lying Pamphlets, . . . [and] to seize such scandalous and lying pamphlets as they find upon search. . . .”

The Restoration brought a new licensing act in 1662. Under its authority, “messengers of the press” operated under the secretaries of state, who issued executive warrants for the seizure of persons and papers. These warrants, while sometimes specific in content, often gave the most general discretionary authority. For example, a warrant to Roger L’Estrange, the Surveyor of the Press, empowered him to “seize all seditious books and libels and to apprehend the authors, contrivers, printers, publishers, and dispersers of them,” and to

search any house, shop, printing room, chamber, warehouse, etc. for seditious, scandalous or unlicensed pictures, books, or papers, to bring away or deface the same, and the letter press, taking away all the copies. . . .]”

***

Although increasingly attacked, the licensing system was continued in effect for a time even after the Revolution of 1688, and executive warrants continued to issue for the search for and seizure of offending books. The Stationers’ Company was also ordered

“to make often and diligent searches in all such places you or any of you shall know or have any probable reason to suspect, and to seize all unlicensed, scandalous books and pamphlets. . . .”

And even when the device of prosecution for seditious libel replaced licensing as the principal governmental control of the press, it too was enforced with the aid of general warrants — authorizing either the arrest of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel and the search of their premises or the seizure of all the papers of a named person alleged to be connected with the publication of a libel.

And see this.

General warrants were largely declared illegal in Britain in 1765. But the British continued to use general warrants in the American colonies. In fact, the Revolutionary War was largely launched to stop the use of general warrants in the colonies. King George gave various excuses of why general warrants were needed for the public good, of course … but such excuses were all hollow.

The New York Review of Books notes that the American government did not start to conduct mass surveillance against the American people until long after the Revolutionary War ended … but once started, the purpose was to crush dissent:

In the United States, political spying by the federal government began in the early part of the twentieth century, with the creation of the Bureau of Investigation in the Department of Justice on July 1, 1908. In more than one sense, the new agency was a descendant of the surveillance practices developed in France a century earlier, since it was initiated by US Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, who created it during a Congressional recess. Its establishment was denounced by Congressman Walter Smith of Iowa, who argued that “No general system of spying upon and espionage of the people, such as has prevailed in Russia, in France under the Empire, and at one time in Ireland, should be allowed to grow up.”

Nonetheless, the new Bureau became deeply engaged in political surveillance during World War I when federal authorities sought to gather information on those opposing American entry into the war and those opposing the draft. As a result of this surveillance, many hundreds of people were prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act for the peaceful expression of opinion about the war and the draft.

But it was during the Vietnam War that political surveillance in the United States reached its peak. Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and, to an even greater extent, Richard Nixon, there was a systematic effort by various agencies, including the United States Army, to gather information on those involved in anti-war protests. Millions of Americans took part in such protests and the federal government—as well as many state and local agencies—gathered enormous amounts of information on them. Here are just three of the numerous examples of political surveillance in that era:

  • In the 1960s in Rochester, New York, the local police department launched Operation SAFE (Scout Awareness for Emergency). It involved twenty thousand boy scouts living in the vicinity of Rochester. They got identification cards marked with their thumb prints. On the cards were the telephone numbers of the local police and the FBI. The scouts participating in the program were given a list of suspicious activities that they were to report.
  • In 1969, the FBI learned that one of the sponsors of an anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC, was a New York City-based organization, the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, that chartered buses to take protesters to the event. The FBI visited the bank where the organization maintained its account to get photocopies of the checks written to reserve places on the buses and, thereby, to identify participants in the demonstration. One of the other federal agencies given the information by the FBI was the Internal Revenue Service.

***

The National Security Agency was involved in the domestic political surveillance of that era as well. Decades before the Internet, under the direction of President Nixon, the NSA made arrangements with the major communications firms of the time such as RCA Global and Western Union to obtain copies of telegrams. When the matter came before the courts, the Nixon Administration argued that the president had inherent authority to protect the country against subversion. In a unanimous decision in 1972, however, the US Supreme Court rejected the claim that the president had the authority to disregard the requirement of the Fourth Amendment for a judicial warrant.

***

Much of the political surveillance of the 1960s and the 1970s and of the period going back to World War I consisted in efforts to identifyorganizations that were critical of government policies, or that were proponents of various causes the government didn’t like, and to gather information on their adherents. It was not always clear how this information was used. As best it is possible to establish, the main use was to block some of those who were identified with certain causes from obtaining public employment or some kinds of private employment. Those who were victimized in this way rarely discovered the reason they had been excluded.

Efforts to protect civil liberties during that era eventually led to the destruction of many of these records, sometimes after those whose activities were monitored were given an opportunity to examine them. In many cases, this prevented surveillance records from being used to harm those who were spied on. Yet great vigilance by organizations such as the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought a large number of court cases challenging political surveillance, was required to safeguard rights. The collection of data concerning the activities of US citizens did not take place for benign purposes.

***

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them. The first target was the Communist Party of the United States, but subsequent targets ranged from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organizations espousing women’s rights to right wing organizations such as the National States Rights Party.

A well-known example of COINTELPRO was the FBI’s planting in 1964 of false documents about William Albertson, a long-time Communist Party official, that persuaded the Communist Party that Albertson was an FBI informant. Amid major publicity, Albertson was expelled from the party, lost all his friends, and was fired from his job. Until his death in an automobile accident in 1972, he tried to prove that he was not a snitch, but the case was not resolved until 1989, when the FBI agreed to payAlbertson’s widow $170,000 to settle her lawsuit against the government.

COINTELPRO was eventually halted by J. Edgar Hoover after activists broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971, and released stolen documents about the program to the press. The lesson of COINTELPRO is that any government agency that is able to gather information through political surveillance will be tempted to use that information. After a time, the passive accumulation of data may seem insufficient and it may be used aggressively. This may take place long after the information is initially collected and may involve officials who had nothing to do with the original decision to engage in surveillance.

In 1972, the CIA director .

During the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on Senator Frank Church because of his criticism of the Vietnam War. The NSA also spied on Senator Howard Baker.

Senator Church – the head of a congressional committee investigating Cointelpro – warned in 1975:

[NSA's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

This is, in fact, what’s happened …

Initially, American constitutional law experts say that the NSA is doing exactly the same thing to the American people today which King George did to the Colonists … using “general warrant” type spying.

And it is clear that the government is using its massive spy programs in order to track those who question government policies. See thisthisthis and this.

Todd Gitlin – chair of the PhD program in communications at Columbia University, and a professor of journalism and sociology – notes:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) has unearthed documents showing that, in 2011 and 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies were busy surveilling and worrying about a good number of Occupy groups — during the very time that they were missing actual warnings about actual terrorist actions.

From its beginnings, the Occupy movement was of considerable interest to the DHS, the FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, while true terrorists were slipping past the nets they cast in the wrong places. In the fall of 2011, the DHS specifically asked its regional affiliates to report on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations, in addition to reporting on domestic terrorist acts and ‘significant criminal activity.’”

Aware that Occupy was overwhelmingly peaceful, the federally funded Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), one of 77 coordination centers known generically as “fusion centers,” was busy monitoring Occupy Boston daily. As the investigative journalist Michael Isikoff recently reported, they were not only tracking Occupy-related Facebook pages and websites but “writing reports on the movement’s potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets.’”

It was in this period that the FBI received the second of two Russian police warnings about the extremist Islamist activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber. That city’s police commissioner later testified that the federal authorities did not pass any information at all about the Tsarnaev brothers on to him, though there’s no point in letting the Boston police off the hook either. The ACLU has uncovered documents showing that, during the same period, they were paying close attention to the internal workings of…Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.

***

In Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, intelligence was not only pooled among public law enforcement agencies, but shared with private corporations — and vice versa.

Nationally, in 2011, the FBI and DHS were, in the words of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, “treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.” Last December using FOIA, PCJF obtained 112 pages of documents (heavily redacted) revealing a good deal of evidence for what might otherwise seem like an outlandish charge: that federal authorities were, in Verheyden-Hilliard’s words, “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” Consider these examples from PCJF’s summary of federal agencies working directly not only with local authorities but on behalf of the private sector:

• “As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.”

• “The FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to… [22] campus police officials… A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.”

• An entity called the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector,” sent around information regarding Occupy protests at West Coast ports [on Nov. 2, 2011] to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report contained “a ‘handling notice’ that the information is ‘meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…’ Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor.”

• DSAC gave tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest,” which it defined as running the gamut from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” ***

• The FBI in Anchorage, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Birmingham also gathered information and briefed local officials on wholly peaceful Occupy activities.

• In Jackson, Mississippi, FBI agents “attended a meeting with the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for ‘National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day’ on December 7, 2011.” Also in Jackson, “the Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a ‘Counterterrorism Preparedness’ alert” that, despite heavy redactions, notes the need to ‘document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.’”

***

In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee learned … that the Tennessee Fusion Center was “highlighting on its website map of ‘Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity’ a recent ACLU-TN letter to school superintendents. The letter encourages schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.”

***

Consider an “intelligence report” from the North Central Texas fusion center, which in a 2009 “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” described, in the ACLU’s words, “a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the United States, which would ‘provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish.’”

***

And those Virginia and Texas fusion centers were hardly alone in expanding the definition of “terrorist” to fit just about anyone who might oppose government policies. According to a 2010 report in the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department Inspector General found that “FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and put the names of some of their members on terrorist watch lists based on evidence that turned out to be ‘factually weak.’” The Inspector General called “troubling” what the Los Angeles Times described as “singling out some of the domestic groups for investigations that lasted up to five years, and were extended ‘without adequate basis.’

Subsequently, the FBI continued to maintain investigative files on groups like Greenpeace, the Catholic Worker, and the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, cases where (in the politely put words of the Inspector General’s report) “there was little indication of any possible federal crimes… In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘acts of terrorism’ classification.”

***

In Pittsburgh, on the day after Thanksgiving 2002 (“a slow work day” in the Justice Department Inspector General’s estimation), a rookie FBI agent was outfitted with a camera, sent to an antiwar rally, and told to look for terrorism suspects. The “possibility that any useful information would result from this make-work assignment was remote,” the report added drily.

“The agent was unable to identify any terrorism subjects at the event, but he photographed a woman in order to have something to show his supervisor. He told us he had spoken to a woman leafletter at the rally who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and that she was probably the person he photographed.”

The sequel was not quite so droll. The Inspector General found that FBI officials, including their chief lawyer in Pittsburgh, manufactured postdated “routing slips” and the rest of a phony paper trail to justify this surveillance retroactively.

Moreover, at least one fusion center has involved military intelligence in civilian law enforcement. In 2009, a military operative from Fort Lewis, Washington, worked undercover collecting information on peace groups in the Northwest. In fact, he helped run the Port Militarization Resistance group’s Listserv. Once uncovered, he told activists there were others doing similar work in the Army. How much the military spies on American citizens is unknown and, at the moment at least, unknowable.

Do we hear an echo from the abyss of the counterintelligence programs of the 1960s and 1970s, when FBI memos — I have some in my own heavily redacted files obtained through an FOIA request — were routinely copied to military intelligence units? Then, too, military intelligence operatives spied on activists who violated no laws, were not suspected of violating laws, and had they violated laws, would not have been under military jurisdiction in any case. During those years, more than 1,500 Army intelligence agents in plain clothes were spying, undercover, on domestic political groups (according to Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1967-70, an unpublished dissertation by former Army intelligence captain Christopher H. Pyle). They posed as students, sometimes growing long hair and beards for the purpose, or as reporters and camera crews. They recorded speeches and conversations on concealed tape recorders. The Army lied about their purposes, claiming they were interested solely in “civil disturbance planning.”

(More.)

Yes, we hear echoes to the Cointelpro program of the 60s and 70s … as well as King George’s General Warrants to the Colonies … the Star Chamber of 15th century England … the frumentarii of Ancient Rome … and the spies of the earliest pharaohs some 5,000 years ago.

Because – whatever governments may say – mass surveillance is always used to crush dissent.

 

Notes:

1. Spying is also aimed at keeping politicians in check.

2. The East German Stasi obviously used mass surveillance to crush dissent and keep it’s officials in check … and falsely claimed that spying was necessary to protect people against vague threats. But poking holes in the excuses of a communist tyranny is too easy. The focus of this essay is to show that governments have used this same cynical ruse for over 5,000 years.

3. This essay focuses solely on domestic surveillance. Spying outside of one’s country is a different matter altogether.

4. For ease of reading, we deleted the footnotes from the two Supreme Court opinions.

This is a great example of how the game works. In a world in which every government on earth needs “liquidity” to survive, and the primary goal of every government is and always has been survival (the retention of arbitrary power at all costs), the provider of liquidity is king. So what is liquidity and who provides it?

In the current financial system (post Bretton Woods), the primary engine of global liquidity is the U.S. dollar and dollar based assets generally as a result of  its reserve currency status. Ever since Nixon defaulted on the U.S. dollar’s gold backing in 1971, the creation of this “liquidity” has zero restrictions whatsoever and is merely based on the whims and desires of the central planners in chief, i.e., the Federal Reserve. As the primary creator of the liquidity that every government on earth needs to survive, the Federal Reserve is thus the most powerful player globally in not only economic, but also geopolitical affairs.

The example of the so-called sovereign nation of Ecuador relinquishing its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs for “liquidity” which can be conjured up by the Fed on a whim and at zero cost tells you all you need to know about how the world works (read my post: Why Fiat Money is Immoral).

Now from Bloomberg:

Ecuador agreed to transfer more than half its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for three years as the government seeks to bolster liquidity.

The central bank said it will send 466,000 ounces of gold to Goldman Sachs, worth about $580 million at current prices, and get the same amount back three years from now. In return, Ecuador will get “instruments of high security and liquidity” and expects to earn a profit of $16 million to $20 million over the term of the accord.

“Gold that was not generating any returns in vaults, causing storage costs, now becomes a productive asset that will generate profits,” the central bank said in the statement. “These interventions in the gold market represent the beginning of a new and permanent strategy of active participation by the bank, through purchases, sales and financial operations, that will contribute to the creation of new financial investment opportunities.”  See Bloomberg Report here.

This isn’t the first South American country we’ve heard about sending their gold to Goldman. Recall my post from late last year: Is Venezuela Selling Gold to Goldman Sachs?

This gold is headed straight to China or Russia. Good luck ever getting that back amigos. Just ask Germany.

 

President Barack Obama and President-elect Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine talk after statements to the press following their bilateral meeting at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is still embracing Official Washington’s false narrative on Ukraine as he hypocritically blames the crisis entirely on Moscow and ignores the West’s role in toppling an elected president and provoking a nasty civil war.

Sometimes in dealing with the U.S. government and its compliant mainstream media, I’m left with the feeling that if it weren’t for double standards, there would be no standards at all. From President Barack Obama to the editors at the Washington Post and the New York Times, it’s obvious that what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

An election in an embattled country is valid and even inspiring if it turns out the way Official Washington wants, as in Ukraine last month; otherwise it’s a sham and illegitimate, as in Syria this month.

Similarly, people have an inalienable right of self-determination if it’s Kosovo or South Sudan, but not if it’s Crimea or the Donbass region of Ukraine. Those referenda for separation from Ukraine must have been “rigged” though there is no evidence they were. Everything is seen through the eye of the beholder and the beholders in Official Washington are deeply biased.

When it comes to military interventions, U.S. officials such as Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power assert a “responsibility to protect” transcending national sovereignty if civilians are threatened in Libya or in Syria, but not when the civilians are being slaughtered in Gaza, Odessa, Mariupol or Donetsk. When those killings are being done by U.S. allies, the allies are praised for their “restraint.”

The hypocrisy extends to the application of international law. If some leaders in Africa engage in actions that cause civilian deaths, they must be indicted by the International Criminal Court and dragged before The Hague for prosecution by jurists representing an outraged world.

But it’s unthinkable that there would be any accountability for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair and other “respectable” leaders who invaded Iraq and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands last decade.

The United States also presents itself as the great guardian of democracy and constitutional order, except when those democratic impulses conflict with U.S. interests. Then, the American people are treated to the cognitive dissonance of overthrowing democratically elected governments in the name of “democracy.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Staggering Hypocrisy.”]

The Ukraine Case

When Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych rejected austerity demands from the International Monetary Fund that accompanied a plan for European association, senior U.S. officials decided that Yanukovych had to go and urged on protests, ultimately spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias, that violently overthrew Yanukovych on Feb. 22.

The U.S. State Department’s “public diplomacy” officials then spun a narrative that glued white hats on the putschists and black hats on those who sought to defend the elected government. Whenever people mentioned the inconvenient truth about the crucial neo-Nazi role in providing the muscle for the coup, they were accused of spreading “Russian propaganda.”

Yet, while U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of another country is a good thing, it is a bad thing if a U.S. adversary does the same or is just suspected of doing the same.

When American and French volunteers go to Syria to fight with the U.S.-backed rebels, those volunteers are, of course, operating on their own (such as American suicide bomber Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki). To suggest otherwise without proof would be a “conspiracy theory,” a point with which I would agree .

But, remember, the rules are flexible; while the U.S. press corps would mock anyone who jumped to a conclusion that the American and French jihadists in Syria must have connections to Washington and Paris, the opposite assumption applies to any disfavored government; then, the U.S. press just “knows” that some indigenous resistance must be directed from some nefarious foreign capital.

For example, the U.S. government is accusing Russia of somehow being behind the unrest in eastern Ukraine, Yanukovych’s political base, even though the unparalleled U.S. intelligence agencies and American journalists on the ground have been unable to detect any proof of this alleged direction from Moscow.

Still, the assumption led the New York Times to get suckered into a State Department propaganda ploy when the Times ran a lead story based on photographs supposedly showing covert Russian military teams that were “clearly” in Russia but then popped up in eastern Ukraine.

Two days later, however, the Times was forced to retract its scoop when it turned out that a key photo purportedly taken in Russia had actually been snapped in Ukraine, destroying the story’s premise. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Retracts Ukraine Photo Scoop.”]

But that egg-on-the-face moment only made the Times more determined to prove that the ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine indeed were “minions” of Moscow, not free-thinking people who simply reject what they regard as the imposition of illegitimate authority from Kiev.

So, when some Russian nationalists crossed the border to help their ethnic brethren in eastern Ukraine, it was assumed – again without evidence – that Russian President Vladimir Putin must have sent them.

Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise traveled to Donetsk but could not find the desired evidence. The Russian nationalists said they had no connections to Moscow and were motivated simply by a determination to help protect fellow ethnic Russians from the escalating military assault from western Ukraine.

Despite those disappointing findings, the Times front-page story on June 1 still made the desired point through its headline: “In Ukraine War, Kremlin Leaves No Fingerprints.” The phrasing assumes that Russian interference is real, just that the culprit has been careful to wipe away any evidence.

The article stated its conclusion this way: “Mr. Putin may not be directing these events, but he is certainly their principal beneficiary.” But is that tendentious phrasing even true? Putin has shown a willingness to have a dialogue with Ukraine’s new President-elect Petro Poroshenko in hopes to calming down the crisis on Russia’s border.

Protecting the Narrative

But Official Washington’s narrative of the crisis must always be maintained, whatever the lack of verifiable evidence. Though an objective observer might note that the crisis was provoked last year by a reckless European Union association offer – followed by the IMF’s draconian austerity plan that was rejected by Yanukovych, prompting U.S.-encouraged violent demonstrations (all while Putin was preoccupied by the Sochi Winter Olympics) – it is fundamental to the U.S. propaganda theme to boil the storyline down to “Russian aggression.”

Obama should and may know better – that Putin’s response was reactive to the West’s provocations, not a case of Russian provocation – but Obama is busy fending off accusations of “weakness” from Republicans and various neocons. So Obama apparently feels he has to talk tough and regurgitate the false narrative, as he did in his June 4 speech in Poland, declaring:

“As we’ve been reminded by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, our free nations cannot be complacent in pursuit of the vision we share — a Europe that is whole and free and at peace. We have to work for that. We have to stand with those who seek freedom. …

“We stand together because we believe that people and nations have the right to determine their own destiny. And that includes the people of Ukraine. Robbed by a corrupt regime, Ukrainians demanded a government that served them. Beaten and bloodied, they refused to yield. Threatened and harassed, they lined up to vote; they elected a new President in a free election — because a leader’s legitimacy can only come from the consent of the people. …

“We stand together because we believe that upholding peace and security is the responsibility of every nation. The days of empire and spheres of influence are over. Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun or with masked men taking over buildings.

“And the stroke of a pen can never legitimize the theft of a neighbor’s land. So we will not accept Russia’s occupation of Crimea or its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia. Because after investing so much blood and treasure to bring Europe together, how can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?”

As I said, if it weren’t for double standards, there would be no standards at all.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

A promotional home ad by Avance Ingenieros.

An investment branch of the UK’s Department for International Development  (DFID) aid agency has come under fire for subsidizing Avance Ingenieros to build elite housing projects in El Salvador at the expense of the UK taxpayer, according to an investigation by the Guardian newspaper.

“CDC has betrayed its original mandate of poverty reduction by now focusing on lucrative projects that are designed to generate high returns for investors than any benefits for poor communities in the global south,” John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, wrote in the Guardian.

A key component of DFID’s Business Plan for 2011-2015 focuses on “wealth creation” as a tool for sustainable growth and alleviation of poverty. And the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) – the investment arm of DFID that was set up in 1948 to support the private sector in developing countries – claims on its website that it is committed to “building businesses to create jobs and making a lasting difference to people’s lives in some of the world’s poorest places.” 

There is no shortage of opportunities for supporting housing for poor communities in El Salvador via the Fondo Nacional de Vivienda Popular (National Public Housing Fund). The National Fund is part of the “House for All” program that has provided decent housing for over 25,000 low-income families throughout El Salvador for an average contribution of $1,357 to $3,263 per family.

But instead the CDC chose to back the family-owned Avance Ingenieros which specifically states on their website that they are a “construction company dedicated exclusively to the construction of houses for the middle class.” 

CDC gave Avance Ingenieros $3.3 million through the Aureos Central American Fund - one of the 88 private equity funds that the CDC works to invest capital in small and medium-sized enterprises with the aim of generating quick profits.

Avance Ingenieros used the CDC money to build four housing projects in El Salvador including Villa Veranda – a 34-acre gated community of 500 luxury homes in Santa Tecla, a wealthy suburb. The market value of the cheapest home available was $117,650 - roughly 35 times the average annual income of $3,360 per household.

“Villa Veranda is a private island of calm in a country struggling with pollution and rampant urban crime,” write Claire Provost and Marta Bausells in the Guardian. “More than 500 houses stand in neat rows on freshly-paved private roads in beige, brown and coral pink. Private security guards control who comes in and goes out 24 hours a day.”

Such projects are very common – El Salvador witnessed a boom in construction and real estate from 2004 to 2009 notably with money from expatriate and returning Salvadoreans who purchased luxury homes in private and gated communities with encouragement from the right-wing presidency of Elias Antonia Saca. (Some 20 percent of people born in El Salvador now live in the U.S. and send $3 billion a year back to the country)

Critics say that the £7.682 billion ($12.954 billion) that UK taxpayer paid out for the total operating cost of DFID in 2012 was never intended to support such schemes. “A fantastic return is all you need to prove that you’re having a ‘positive development outcome,” said Nick Dearden, director of World Development Movement told the Huffington Post. “But this model – under the guise of fighting poverty – actually removes decisions and accountability from public bodies and reinforces the power of companies driven by a thirst of super-profits”

This is not the first time the CDC has been criticized for investing money into “mega projects” that provide no added value to alleviating the plight of poor people. In January the CDC approved a $25 million investment in Nairobi, Kenya to build upmarket flats, a business hotel and East Africa’s largest shopping mall.

“The waste and corruption that goes unseen or unchallenged by DFID is a kick in the teeth both for the people at home who pay the bill and for the people aid is supposed to be helping,” wrote Jonathan Forman in the Spectator magazine.

DFID defends the projects. “Individual investments are fully decided by CDC and the government has put in place strict rules which require commitments to deliver jobs, economic development and poverty alleviation in developing countries,” a spokesman told the Guardian.

Is there a New Cold War that Impacts Africa?

June 5th, 2014 by Abayomi Azikiwe

This paper was presented at the Left Forum held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York (CUNY). The Left Forum took place from May 30-June 1, 2014, where several thousand people gathered from various progressive, radical and socialist tendencies and movements. This panel was hosted by the International Action Center (IAC) and was entitled “The New Cold War: What’s Driving It and Will It Escalate?” In addition to Abayomi Azikiwe, the discussion featured Bill Doares as chair of the IAC, Meejin Richard and Seyeon Lee of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Berta Joubert-Ceci of the Women’s Fightback Network in Philadelphia and Jess Sudin of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). 

Many people today are describing the renewed political and military tensions between the Russian Federation and the United States-European Union alliance as a manifestation of a so-called “New Cold War.” The previous Cold War developed after the conclusion of World War II when the U.S. and the Soviet Union emerged as the major powers on the international scene.

Coinciding with the Cold War between 1947-1991, was the rise of the national liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the struggle for civil rights, empowerment and social justice in the western countries during the same time period. The Cold War did not only have foreign policy implications but also influenced the character of oppression, class exploitation and race relations inside the imperialist states.

The question of a Cold War cannot be fully answered without dealing with the political character of international racism in the overall world capitalist ideological and military struggle against Communism. During the course of World War II the peoples of the oppressed nations were thrust into protracted conflict by demanding both social equality and national independence.

In October 1945, the Fifth Pan-African Congress was held in Manchester, England. The meeting represented the apex of a series of similar gathering that were organized between 1893 in Chicago to the First Pan-African Conference in London in 1900. After the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, there was an upsurge in national consciousness and class struggle.

The Niagara Movement of 1905 lead directly to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), co-founded by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and Mrs. Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Both of these prominent African American leaders were militant opponents of racism in the U.S., where African Americans were being lynched in the hundreds during this period.

With the conclusion of World War I, a previous upsurge in national consciousness arose. Another Pan-African Congress was held in 1919 in Paris. Du Bois had become the chief proponent of these summits which continued in 1921, 1923, 1925 and 1927.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) founded by Marcus and Amy Ashwood Garvey in 1914, drew millions of members and supporters throughout the western states and within occupied colonial territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America and on the African continent.

Trade unions were formed in various parts of Africa during this period; for example in the Gold Coast railway industry in the late 1930s to the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union in South Africa after World War I and continuing through the African Rand Miner’s Strike of 1946 after the second World War.

In 1919 there was a series of so-called race riots in the U.S. with Chicago being the most violent. Also in Egypt during the same year a rebellion erupted which brought new social forces, including women, into the anti-colonial struggle in Africa.

Pan-Africanism, World Revolution and the New Cold War

The national liberation movements achieving independence in Africa and the gains of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the U.S. had a profound impact on the character of world capitalism and imperialism. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of the modern state of Ghana and the chief tactician and strategist of the African Revolution during the 1950s through the early 1970s, identified neo-colonialism as the principal impediment to the achievement of genuine liberation and economic development.

After World War II the U.S. capitalists consolidated their global hegemony. Nonetheless, periodic crises within the economic system of exploitation were never fully resolved.

Even with the collapse of the former Soviet Union and shifts within the domestic and foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China and other socialist countries, the ruling class inside the U.S. and Western Europe are by no means socially secure. The declining rates of profits and the ongoing resistance of the working class and the national oppressed have continued to be a cause for concern by those who control the means of production and the state.

This ongoing domestic war against the working class and oppressed inside the U.S. is in evidence through the attacks on public employees, public assets, unions, municipal pension funds, public and low-income housing and the evisceration of public education, both K-12 as well as colleges and universities.

Today China is considered by the U.S. imperialists as a major impediment to their control of various geo-political regions of the world including the Asia-Pacific region and the African continent. Developments in Africa have landed China the status of being the largest trading partner with the continent.

In relationship to the role of the Russian Federation, the U.S.-engineered coup in Ukraine and the utilization of fascist organizations is by no means unique. Many of these same fascist elements were recruited by the U.S. after World War II where they played a role in framing the political character of the intellectual and political nature of contemporary society.

The present hostility directed against Russia and China is a clear reflection of the crisis within the imperialist system led by the U.S. By attempting to demonize and criminalize the governments of China and Russia, the ruling class and the state are extending their domestic policies used against the oppressed nations inside the U.S. who disproportionately represent the incarcerated populations and those which remain under legal and law-enforcement supervision.

Nonetheless, these efforts by the ruling class have not halted the struggle for liberation, social justice, socialism and peace. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines, Sudan, and all throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the imperialists have not been able to win an outright victory.

U.S. Congress Did Less for Corporate Accountability in 2013

June 5th, 2014 by Global Research News

The U.S. Congress saw no progresses toward corporate accountability and reining in corporate influence over public institutions in 2013, according to the newly released Corporate Accountability Coalition (CAC) Congressional Report Card. The second edition of the Report Card, which looks at the First Session of the 113th Congress, focuses on the most relevant congressional activity, and offers an objective measure of congressional leadership in creating policy that protects people and promotes accountability and transparency.

CAC’s Report Card includes some alarming new findings, such as that in 2013 not a single pro-accountability bill even made it to a vote. Despite the fact that high-profile corporate malfeasance, from the financial crisis to the Deepwater Horizon spill to the Rana Plaza disaster, continues to make headlines, many legislative actions to address important issues regarding corporate responsibility and necessary limitations on corporate power garnered little, if any, co-sponsorship.

Surveys have consistently shown concerns with unchecked corporate influence. In 2013, a Pew Research poll showed that 80% of middle class adults at least partially blamed large corporations for the difficulties facing the middle class, consistent with earlier surveys finding that overwhelming majorities of Americans believe that corporations have too much power in Washington and that there is too much corporate money in politics.

“As the Supreme Court continues to privilege corporate rights over human rights, our elected leaders must stand and protect what’s left of the democratic freedoms that benefit all American citizens, not just the powerful elites.” said Katie Redford, Director and Co-Founder of CAC member EarthRights International.

Only two representatives and seven senators received a perfect score: Representatives John Conyers (MI) and Keith Ellison (MN) and Senators Ed Markey (MA), Bob Menendez (NJ), Jeff Merkley (OR), Jeanne Shaheen (NH). Tom Udall (NM), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Richard Blumenthal (CT).

Several states, however, had entire delegations with zero percent scores, including Wyoming, Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, and West Virginia. Less than 10 percent of Congress scored above 50 percent, while three-quarters of Congress earned a score of 25 percent or less. The average score for Congress even worsened between 2012 and 2013: the average score was only 16 percent down from 25 percent in 2012.

“The Report Card reveals a dangerous reality: corporations exert tremendous influence over our elected officials. The consequences of this influence perpetuate the paradigm of profit over people, and leave us struggling to build meaningful protections for both our environment and our basic human rights,” says Amol Mehra, Director of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, a CAC member.

About the Report Card

The Corporate Accountability Coalition Report Card represents an attempt to educate the public about Congress’s record in protecting people from the unchecked growth of corporate influence.

The Report Card presents information on whether Members of Congress have supported measures that either strengthen or weaken limits on corporate conduct, regulate or give free rein to corporations when they attempt to go beyond those limits, and hold corporations accountable or provide impunity when they disregard those limits.

“The intent of this report card is to track how Congress votes on holding corporations accountable for their impact on communities and the environment,” said Pratap Chatterjee, Executive Director of CorpWatch. “The Corporate Accountability Coalition believes that good laws can help level the playing field by cracking down on corporations who benefit from wrongdoing.”

The full report is available online at https://www.earthrights.org/cac-report-card

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Katie Redfrod (USA) +1 202-466-5188 x102 [email protected]
Marco Simons (USA) +1 202-466-5188 x103 [email protected]
Amol Mehra, (USA) +1 202-296-0146 [email protected]

About the Corporate Accountability Coalition: The Corporate Accountability Coalition is a collaboration of the Center for Corporate Policy, Corporate Accountability International, CorpWatch, EarthRights International, the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable.

It is hard for even the West to deny that the recent election was a huge success for the government in Damascus, stamping out the illusion of a divided Syria. The country is mired in protracted conflict not because of a “popular uprising,” but because of a premeditated proxy war organized by the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia (and involving other NATO-GCC members) as early as 2007 – this confirmed in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection.”

The proxy war is admittedly lost - but it would be a mistake to say the West has completely lost. Their goal was indeed, ideally, to overthrow the government of Syria. By failing to do so and in the process exposing their insidious methods, the West has lost immense credibility and momentum they will never recover. However, their secondary objective was destroying Syria and leaving it in a weakened, diminished state – denying Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and most importantly, Russia a strong regional ally. This, for now, the West has absolutely succeeded in accomplishing. Reconstruction & socioeconomic recovery will be as important if not more so for Syrians in the coming months and years, than defeating NATO’s proxy forces on the battlefield. Bringing Syria back to or exceeding its economic and defensive posture before the war will be when Syrians can truly declare victory over the West.

The goal of “bleeding” Syria if regime change failed, was documented by US policy makers in Brookings Institution’s “Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change,” which stated:

“The United States might still arm the opposition even knowing they will probably never have sufficient power, on their own, to dislodge the Asad network. Washington might choose to do so simply in the belief that at least providing an oppressed people with some ability to resist their oppressors is better than doing nothing at all, even if the support provided has little chance of turning defeat into victory. Alternatively, the United States might calculate that it is still worthwhile to pin down the Asad regime and bleed it, keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention.”

Bleeding Syria is now the agenda – which is the only reason they are still arming and training terrorists on Syria’s borders, predominantly in NATO-member Turkey to the north of Syria, and in Jordan to the south. The West is also still, very intentionally, sabotaging reconciliation and reconstruction. This is the West’s real agenda on full display – spiteful extraterritorial aggression recklessly destroying the lives of millions for the sake of maintaining global hegemony. Other nations – like Thailand and Ukraine – had better understand the true nature of Western special interests and the lengths they will go through to maintain dominion over this planet.

As writers and analysts for one of the military’s key journals – Jane’s Intelligence Review – Ann Rogers and John Hill, the authors of this new book on remote warfare have respectable military credentials. Nevertheless much of the analysis in this important and engaging overview of the drone wars would be recognised by those with a very different perspective and understanding of the efficacy of military force.

Chapter by chapter the book investigates the key aspects of the use of armed drones including tracing their history, the effect on military doctrine, ethical and legal issues, the impact on the ground and the push towards greater autonomy.

Drones, the book contends are helping to normalise the use of States “targeting individuals with military-scale force” and blurring the lines between law enforcement and military action giving rise to what the authors call nano-wars. They state: “the serious battering of just war conventions by US drone strikes contributes to a new set of norms that are likely to be regressive to the causes of peace and international stability.”

The book argues that in certain cases just because drones can be used to target individuals, they arebeing used whether this is effective in achieving the overall goals of creating security or not. In fact the authors argue in Pakistan and Yemen not only are the strikes failing to isolate the insurgency from the population, they are antagonising populations and radicalising the “pre-insurgent” and it is perhaps the US who is becoming increasing isolated from the international community over the strikes.

The authors clearly have some sympathy for the drone pilots arguing that when not being “bored to death” by watching hours of mind-numbing footage and castigated by their colleagues for merely being a “chair force” they also have to make life and death decisions which take a toll on their mental well-being. While some accounts from drone pilots are beginning to leak out, the reality of the drone wars from the perspective of the drone pilot is still to be voiced.

The authors state that their book aims to investigate the consequences of the use of armed drones not just on the battlefield but also on human society as a whole using the theories of Marshal McLuhan.   This would have made an valuable contribution to the growing literature on the use of drones and I would have liked to have seen much more of it in the book.   The authors conclude that in McLuhan’s terms the message of this new medium is that the drone gives the “capacity to intervene overseas with impunity to today’s powers.”

This book is a very readable overview of the issues surrounding the growing use of armed unmanned systems.  The final question the book poses is whether the rise in use of drones is desirable in terms of global security. The authors - along with more and more people around the globe – conclude that they are not.

Unmanned: Drone Warfare and Global Security by Ann Rogers and John Hill,  Pluto Press, 2014, 192pp £16.00

Obama backs State Terror against Eastern Ukraine

June 5th, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

Meeting with Ukraine’s billionaire President-Elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw Wednesday, President Barack Obama declared his full backing for the regime’s so-called “anti-terrorism operation” in eastern Ukraine and promised new military supplies and training to carry out what is rapidly developing into a bloodbath.

Obama’s proclamation of solidarity with Poroshenko, known as the “chocolate king,” came amid new evidence of war crimes by the Kiev regime’s military and by fascist militias fighting on its behalf. These crimes have been directed at terrorizing into submission the populations of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have refused to accept the legitimacy of the regime brought to power in the Western-backed and fascist-spearheaded coup of last February.

City officials in the town of Krasnyi Lyman in the Donetsk region told the media that the local hospital came under intense shelling Tuesday night, inflicting a number of casualties. An initial report said the head surgeon was killed by shrapnel and at least three patients severely wounded. But on Wednesday, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), which was proclaimed following a referendum on autonomy held last month, reported that regime troops entered the hospital and executed over 25 wounded local fighters.

“More than 25 people were killed, and this figure can rise,” DPR Chairman Denis Pushilin told Rossiya-24 television. “This is a blatant war crime; it is genocide.”

It was only one of a growing number of strikes against civilian targets as the Kiev regime unleashes fighter jets, attack helicopters, heavy artillery, rocket launchers and other weapons of war against the region in attempt to quell popular opposition to its rule.

Schools, daycare centers, housing blocks and office buildings have also been struck, sending families fleeing for air raid shelters or desperately attempting to leave the war zone.

In one of the bloodier attacks, a Ukrainian jet fighter fired rockets Monday into the Luhansk regional administration headquarters, killing five women who were talking together just outside the building. Three men in the building also lost their lives and at least 11 people were wounded. A video posted online Wednesday showed the grim aftermath of the air strike.

The Kiev regime attempted to deny that its warplane was responsible for the attack—which was caught by a number of town residents on video—claiming that the explosion had been caused by anti-regime elements misfiring a manpad surface-to-air missile.

This lie was quickly debunked by an inspection team from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which concluded, based on the line of blast craters leading up to the building and the extensive damage to trees in a nearby park, that the explosion could have been caused only by a missile fired from a plane. Nonetheless, the US State Department and large sections of the US media have continued to insist that the cause of this massacre of civilians remains “unclear.”

The weapon used in the attack has been identified as an S-8KO missile, which is a type of cluster bomb that is outlawed under international conventions.

The Kiev regime has itself given conflicting reports on the human toll of its “anti-terrorist operation.” The head of the operation has reported that 300 regime opponents have been killed and another 500 wounded. Leaders of self-defense groups in Luhansk and Donetsk have ridiculed this claim, insisting that the troops and militias fielded by the regime have suffered more losses than they have.

Another estimate, given by Kiev’s acting prosecutor general, Oleg Makhnitsky, a member of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party, was of 181 people killed, including 59 regime troops, and 293 wounded.

Claims from Kiev that its forces are “cleansing” the east of rebels are contradicted by recent events on the ground, with the regime acknowledging Wednesday that a border guard camp and the headquarters of a National Guard regiment, both in the Luhansk area, surrendered after coming under attack by superior forces of anti-regime fighters.

In a bid to reverse these losses, the regime announced Wednesday that it was drawing up plans to declare martial law in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. “This is a real war, and what we are doing is upgrading the legal status to match the reality,” Victoria Siumar, deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council told the media. “There is a decision to call things by their proper name,” she added.

It appears that the main aim of the change is to empower the government to order civilians to evacuate areas like Luhansk, a city of nearly half a million, so that it can subject all who remain to a full-scale bombardment.

The Kiev forces have stepped up their siege of Slovyansk, a key center of opposition. In addition to air attacks and artillery shelling, they shut off the town’s water supply.

In his meeting with Poroshenko Wednesday, Obama left no doubt that Washington is determined to see this criminal strategy succeed, now matter how many die. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the military operations are being carried out under direct US supervision. The latest offensive was launched immediately after a visit to Kiev by Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

Obama announced an additional $5 million in so-called non-lethal aid to assist the Kiev regime in the slaughter it is carrying out in eastern Ukraine. This is on top of $18 million worth of military equipment previously approved and is to include such items as night-vision goggles, body armor and communications equipment. He also indicated that the US would provide military training.

He met with the Ukrainian president-elect for a full 70 minutes, which came on top of lengthy meetings between Poroshenko and Secretary of State John Kerry. He said they discussed Kiev’s “plans for bringing peace and order to the east” as well as “economic plans” that are to include the imposition of drastic austerity measures against the Ukrainian working class.

Obama called Poroshenko’s installation as president a “wise selection,” even though, as classified diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks showed, Washington had previously regarded the billionaire as a “disgraced oligarch” who was “tainted by credible corruption allegations.”

Obama described himself as “deeply impressed by his vision, in part because of his experience as a businessman.” This “vision” guided Poroshenko in the corrupt and at times violent plundering of formerly state-owned assets, which turned him into a billionaire.

Russia, meanwhile, has unsuccessfully attempted to advance a resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling for an end to violence in eastern Ukraine and the creation of “humanitarian corridors” to allow civilians to leave the battle zone and enable the Red Cross and other aid agencies to get in. Washington and the other major Western powers have blocked the measure, insisting that there is no humanitarian crisis.

A Russian official Wednesday allowed that Moscow was not proposing the imposition of a no-fly zone over eastern Ukraine. The statement clearly recalled the 2011 maneuvers by the US and its allies at the UN in getting a no-fly zone imposed over Libya on the spurious grounds that it was needed to prevent government forces from carrying out a massacre in the east of that country. Once approved—with Moscow’s acquiescence—the measure was used to provide a legal fig leaf for the US-NATO war for regime-change.

As the Ukrainian regime launches a bloody crackdown in the east of that country, however, Washington and the Western European powers have no interest in raising humanitarian concerns. On the contrary, having already organized regime-change in the coup of last February, they are determined to consolidate their puppet regime by stamping out any resistance.

The War On Drugs: Hawks, Doves and Owls

June 5th, 2014 by Paul Rogov

Although full-scale drug use epidemics in the United States can be traced back to the 19thcentury—with morphine abuse so prevalent in the aftermath of the Civil War—it is no stretch of the imagination to conclude that drug abuse has, again, become a major social welfare concern in America. The magnitude of the problem is substantial.

To put it in perspective “illegal drugs are a $60-billion-per-year industry patronized by at least 16 million Americans, 7 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12” (Caulkins et al, 2005). Depending on how one views the epidemic, however, (depending on whether one views it primarily as a health or a legal concern), it cannot be overemphasized how the problem, in recent years, has grown considerably worse. Today, more Americans have become addicted to illicit substances than ever before.

According to a 2011 Report on the Global Commission of Drug Policy, “the United States estimates annual drug consumption, 1998-2008, shows a 34.5% increase in opiate use, 27% increase in cocaine use, and 8.5% increase in the use of marijuana” (Jahangir et al, 2011). These, perhaps, are startling statistics; however, the statistics do not reveal, nor help one understand the stories behind the numbers, that is, the stories of people who lead addicted lives.  Whether these people live on the street, in the ghettoes, or are incarcerated because of drugs, or are rich kids attempting to get their next fix, the statistics, if anything, illuminate the failure of “The War on Drugs.”

The War on Drugs is a war of control. It is a war waged to control the drug market. It is a war waged against not only drugs as physical entities, but a war waged against the very idea of using drugs as a behavior. Trite as it may be to assert that the War on Drugs can never be won because the enemy as such is abstract and non-human, there is no question that there is a self-prescribed moralism necessary to fight such a war. In many cases, people who enforce, treat, and attempt to prevent drug addiction via educational programs think they are doing good by helping society. Moreover, it might very well be the case that these righteous avengers are, indeed, protecting people from the onslaught of drug addiction and, in turn, helping society become more moral. But as we explore some of the policies associated with the War on Drugs, I argue we get an altogether different picture. The war against drugs is a kind of social engineering that is propelled by hysteria and by unconstitutionality. It is a war against minorities and a war against the human mind.

As the 2011 Global Commission of Drug Policy itself states “drug policies and strategies at all levels too often continue to be driven by ideological perspectives, or political convenience, and pay too little attention to the complexities of the drug market, drug use and drug addiction”  (Jahangir et al, 2011).

Policy Analysis

Richard Nixon was the first president to officially wage a full-scale “war on drugs” in 1972, which subsequently lead to the creation of the Drug Enforcement Agency; however, it was the Reagan administration that recommitted to the pressing social welfare issue of drug abuse. Reagan’s “War on Drugs” lead to the Narcotics Leadership Act, which was established after the creation of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. So what happened?

According to Blendon (1998),

“extensive public policy efforts have come in response to the perceived seriously and scope of the nation’s illicit drug problems. The impact of these problems…can be seen in a number of key indicators. Annually, illicit drugs lead to approximately 11,000 related deaths, direct government expenditures of $27 billion (1991 date {the last year for which both state and federal expenditures are available], and over half a million drug-related episodes in hospital emergency departments.”

Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign is well-known; however, the drug control policy was three-pronged:

enforcement, treatment and prevention. The general idea was that the “war on drugs” should be fought at all levels, on the micro, mezzo, and macro. There was also a military arm to the War on Drugs, missions run and allocated in foreign countries. The primary policies were to source country control, financial, technical, intelligence, and equipment aid to source countries attempting to eradicate drug crops, shut down processing facilities, reduce exports, and bring to justice those involved in the drug trade” (Caulkins et al, 2005).

Back home, however, there needed to be programs in place that addressed addiction for the addict. The underlying belief behind the U.S. drug control policies was that “for most drug users, use is the result of a “human flaw” that leads them to pursue “a hollow, degrading and deceptive pleasure” (Blendon, 1998). The addict, according to that theory, would spare nothing to get their next fix; to alleviate the problem one had to not only erase or reduce the supply of drugs, one had to address the psycho-spiritual core of the addicts themselves.

That said,

“the goals of national drug control strategy have varied to a minor extent, since the first annual strategy volume was issued in 1989. That initial version focused on reducing the overall level of drug use, as well as reducing initiation and use at the every level of intensity from that of casual users to that of addicts” (Caulkins et al, 2005).

There was an increasing likelihood, since the drug control policies went into affect that an addict would somehow become acquainted with a 12-step recovery meetings. They would seek help because of fear of death or incarceration.

According to the policy, if there are less drugs available and more education about drugs, there would be less use overall; however, statistics have proven that the total drug consumption does not always follow the number of users (Blendon, 1998).

Moreover, there were other concerns for drug abuse is both issue in the legal system and in health care. Drugs, for some are not a health issue; they are often associated with crime.

“In recent years, many Americans have chosen a related issue, crime, as the nation’s most important problem. It has ranked among the top 5 public concerns since 1979. Today, a majority (56%) of the public perceives these 2 issues as linked: they believe that illicit drugs are one of the most important causes of crime” (Blendon, 1998).

Subsequently, the shortcomings of U.S. drug control policy demonstrates how people often slip through the cracks and continue to use drugs regardless of what the policy. Perhaps, “if the goal were not so ambitious, the campaign would achieve even less.” As Blendon (1998) points out, “the superficial record of drug problem indicators might understate (or overstate the effectiveness of government policy, depending on trends in individual preferences and the social and cultural context.” “Survey findings show that 82% of the public thinks that illegal drug use is a big problem for society, only 27% see it as such for their own local community.” This means that despite “domestic enforcement, seizure of drugs and other assets within U.S. borders and the arrest, prosecution, and punishment of drug dealers and users,” the elusive nature of the War on Drugs leads many to the conclusion that the war is ultimately futile: that one is fighting abstract enemies within a political theatre that inevitably is run by actors acting in the shadows of an imperialist economy (Cole, 2001).

Policy Impact on Community

Santa Ana, California, a city in Orange County with a predominately Latino community, for example, has been negatively affected by U.S. drug control policy. The privacy of immigrants is often violated when they are under suspicion; homes are searched with a warrant and sometimes without a warrant (Rojo, personal communication, September 18th, 2011). These searches are due in part to the fact that much of the narcotics (heroin, cocaine, marijuana) in Southern California are smuggled in from Mexico. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in tandem with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is aware of the all time high murder-rate in Mexico, which was sprung from the interior politics of the cartel system; those politics have subsequently raised some red flags in the United States for the hawks in the War on Drugs. The market of the Mexican-American narco-business has lead some lawmakers to advocate for systematic racial profiling. This is true not only of Santa Ana, but also in other communities in southern California that have a high density of a Latino, or Hispanic population.

The war on drugs, in that regard, is a war against minorities and the poor. It directly affects African-Americans as well. According to Cole (2001),

“studies consistently show that police officers disproportionately stop and search African-Americans and Hispanics. The consistency of this finding across multiple jurisdictions and officers suggests that profiling is not the work of a few rogue racist police officers, but the result of a broadly shared assumption that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be carrying drugs or other contraband than whites.”

Many of these drug arrests of minorities and the poor lead to prosecution then prison sentences. One reason for this is in how law enforcement gathers evidence. Although racial profiling is often employed, the Fourth Amendment is often ignored. “Consent searches have become a particularly attractive tool for conducting searches for drugs without probable cause because few people refuse consent when an officer asks for it during a traffic stop” (Cole, 2001).

The War on Drugs is supplanted by the belief in the systematic demonization of drug addicts. Drug addicts, because they want to get high, are considered morally inferior, weak, and therefore expendable to the government. In short, the drug addict is a cog in the drug-war-machine, a mere statistic. Because of this, U.S. prisons are not only the most populated in the world, they are specifically comprised of a majority of prisoners who are serving sentences for drug-related offences. To put it another way, the U.S. prison-industrial complex houses mostly drug addicts. What is often overlooked is that “from 1925 to 1975, the incarceration rate in the United States was virtually flat, at about 100 incarcerated prisoners per 100,000 residents.” That being said, “there was more than a 400 percent increase between the 1980s and the 1990s in the chances that a drug arrest would ultimately result in a prison sentence” (Bobo & Thompson, 2006).

Policy Question

According to Reuter (1992), drug policy has, in effect, generated two debates: one has to do with the retention of current prohibitions, that is, for or against the legalization of drugs; the second debate is between supply-side advocates and the demand-side advocates.

This second debate is between those who want to more aggressively pursue drug dealers and cartels and those who, like Vice-President Joe Biden, accept vigorous enforcement, though have resource commitments directly for prevention and treatment. There seems to be little chance of compromise. The hawks in the second debate “note the apparently low success rates of drug treatment programs; many programs show relapse rates of more than 60 percent” (Reuter, 1992).  Because of the relapse rates, the hawks have reached the conclusion that in order to fight the War on Drugs effectively, the drugs need to be more difficult to obtain. In short, they want to go after the suppliers and the doves want to deal more with the demand for drugs, that is, with the suffering drug addict, or potential addict as such.

Subsequently, “the doves’ message is clearer than that of the hawks. After defending themselves from the charge that they condone the use of drugs by asserting that society should strive to reduce use of all dangerous psychoactive drugs including alcohol and cigarettes, they go on to argue that most of the current evils associated with drugs arise from the prohibitions and enforcement of those prohibitions (Reuter, 1992).

The doves think that that more stringent laws set up the context for more drug-related crime to committed, therefore leading to more incarcerations, therefore more addicts sitting in prison wasting taxpayer’s money. The doves argue that there is a punitive trend in American drug policy. If one does drugs, or is found to be in possession of drugs, that person should go to jail. This, however, does not get to the root of the problem, which centers in the mind of the drug addict.

Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve-Step recovery programs have emphasized that addiction is tripartite in nature: it is a physical allergy fueled by a mental obsession, linked up to a spiritual malady (B. Mahoney, personal communication, October 25th, 2011). Prevention is the most cost-effective means by which to thwart a life of addiction; treatment entails treating the mental health of the addict. This recontexualizes the War on Drugs and makes it clear that it is as much of a mental health issue as it is, in its consequences, a legal issue.  The micro informs the macro.  Twelve-Step recovery programs advocate for developing relationships with sponsors, with others who have achieved abstinence (Durkin, 2002). Twelve-Step recovery programs provide an informal structure or design of living for those with an addiction, which cannot be cured, but can be arrested on daily basis by “working the twelve steps.” This mentor-mentee dynamic is a step in the right direction, but does not encapsulate, the views of the third “bird” in the supply-demand drug debate: that is of the “owls.”

The owls, who seek a realistic approach is that research-oriented, suggest that the focus not be on drugs (which stay illegal), but on reconstructing the perception of the drug addict as a patient rather than as a criminal. This kind of view is huge leap forward from the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, which demonized addicts as moral degenerates. It is also a step forward from insisting that “Just Saying No,” pace the Reagan-era, is enough to keep one addiction-free. The owls want to confront the issue with common sense: drug addiction does not simply go away.  Even if drug dealers were eradicated there will never be a drug-free society. In fact, “no modern democratic state has been drug-free, and American will not be the first” (Caulkins et al, 2005). That being said, it is clear the owl’s approach, unlike the doves’ and hawks’ approach emphasizes well-thought out research that is conducive to a peace treaty in the War on Drugs, wherein it not merely about drug courts and the treatment of the drug addict and not merely a series of excuses to argue for legalization or further crack-downs.

The owl’s approach makes it clear alternatives are necessary; for, as the 2011 Report on the Global Commission of Drug Policy states, the war on drugs has generated negative consequences, which includes, but is not limited to:

“the rise of a black market, policy displacement (scarce resources to fund law enforcement), geographical displacement (where drug production shifts location), substance displacement (the movement of users to new substances because of the market), and the negative perception of drug users, which are stigmatized and marginalized” (Jahangir et al, 2011).

Consequently, it is no wonder why the debate for legalization has come to the fore more so in than in recent years than ever before: it is a short-cut point of view that allows a person to avoid having to address the glaringly real, strident details of the demand or supply-orientated approach to American drug control policy. In short, the owl’s position is that legalization is actually an example of utopian thinking and what is really important is addressing the drug problem on all fronts with alternative strategies. What must be done, in effect, is for the United States to wake up and address its own mental health problem, which not only includes its addiction to drugs, but an addiction to facilitating a War on Drugs.  A better approach would be to begin educating children that a drug addict is not a criminal by default, but someone who is ill; then, and only then, can the problem become a health concern wherein the macro, mezzo, and micro levels are in dialogue with one another.

Conclusions

Karl Marx once wrote that “the dreams of past generations are nightmares in the brains of living.” If that is true, then yesterday’s war on drugs is a burden to addicts in the present, who know no other way to live than by running away from the system that produces the phenomena of addiction itself.  A consumer society inevitably consumes; drugs are not an exception; they are simply components of a large puzzle: a puzzle to the powerless and a puzzle to those in power who have to contend with the powerless. It is my view that The War on Drugs a failing fiasco, an anathema to liberty.  It is a legalistic climatology of sorts. When the troops in the War on Drugs come through the drug dealer’s door, they do so with the intent of making arrests. Silent armies—these are the constituents of the War on Drugs: a police apparatus aimed at creating a climate of fear. This is not unrelated to the war on terror. Terror is a cipher, war is a metaphor.

When political rhetoric works well, it convinces most of the masses. The elites care little for the welfare of drug addicts; in fact, they need drug addicts to make their money. These elites, most probably, funnel funds into drug cartels themselves, thereby playing both sides of the field, attempting to ridicule those at the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy, who turn to drugs as an escape from some horrible fate, wherein the addict self-consciously punishes himself.

I am of the view that the world as of this very moment in 2011 is in transition. Many political debates need to be re-worked and terms like “war” need to be used sparingly unless they actually refer to a literal war. That is not to say metaphors are the enemy, but in the area of social welfare terms need to be as clear-cut as possible for policies to make sense in practice. Drugs are not the real problem; they are merely physical symptoms of a socio-existential problem: for the desire to use drugs is born from the need to feel relief from the daily grind of cultural and national life, which emphasizes socioeconomic status as the indicator of the worth of an individual.

The war on drugs has failed because it is a war against human behavior; and, that behavior, though certainly not fixed, is subjected via ideological and situation processes: it surrenders to power. This power might be external like a government or a state; yet, that power can also reside in the individual, wherein any proposed alternative to the war on drugs would have include “the right to life, to health, to due process and a fair trial, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, from slavery, and from discrimination” (Jahangir et al, 2011). But those human rights must be the norm for addict or non-addict alike. Only then can a war on drugs or a war against anything considered immoral be considered a false utopian victory and reflection of the actual, horrific wars that have waged in the past.

 

Paul Rogov studied Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley and Social Work at USC. His literary work has appeared in Danse Macabre, Exterminating Angel Press, Social Justice Solutions, Femicatio Magazine, Cultural Weekly and others.

Notes

Blendon, R., (1998). The public and the war on illicit drugs. Public Opinion and Health Care, 279, 11, pp. 827-832.

Bobo, L.D., Thompson, V., (2006). Unfair by design: the war on drugs, race, and the legitimacy of the criminal justice system. Social Research, 73, 2, pp. 445-471.

Caulkins, J.P., Reuter P., Iguchi, M.Y., Chiesa, J., (2005). How goes the “war on drugs? An assessment of U.S. drug problems and policy.  Santa Monica: The Rand Corporation Drug Policy Research Center.

Cole, D.D., (2010). Formalism, realism, and the war on drugs. Suffolk University Law Review, 15, 2, pp. 241-250.

Durkin, E., (2002). An organizational analysis of psychosocial and medical services in outpatient drug abuse treatment programs.  Social Science Review, pp. 407-411.

Jahangir, A., Fuetes C., Gaviria C., Zedillo E., Cardoso, F.H., Papandreou, G., Shultz, G.P., Solana, J, Whitehead, J., Annan, K., Arbour, L., Cattaui, M., Llosa, M..V, Caspers-Merk, M., Kazatchkine, M., Volcker P., Branson, R., Dreifuss Stoltenberg, T., (2011). Report of the global commission on drug policy. Rio Janeiro: 

Reuter, P., (1992). Hawks ascendant: the punitive trend of American drug policy. Washington, D.C.: The Rand Corporation Drug Policy Research Center.

Both before and after 9/11, one private company had a greater impact on counterterrorism programs in the United States than any other. That company, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), also profited more from the events of 9/11 than any other. Its chief operating officer (COO), Duane Andrews, was a man who had expertise-level knowledge of the vulnerabilities that were exploited on 9/11. He also just happened to be a long-time, close colleague of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

SAIC business activity is related to incidence of terrorism, having won many of its record number of government contracts through the national security state that has arisen via the War on Terror. Through its numerous contracts and employee security clearances, it has become a private business that cannot be distinguished from a permanent form of government. In short, SAIC is “the fraternal twin of the intelligence establishment.”[1]

With regard to 9/11, SAIC’s impact cannot be overstated as the company:

  • Created the national databases that tracked and identified terrorists
  • Supplied U.S. airports with terrorism screening equipment
  • Predicted and investigated terrorist attacks against U.S. infrastructure including national defense networks and the World Trade Center (WTC)
  • Helped create the official account for what happened at the WTC both in 1993 and after 9/11
  • Was a leader in research on thermitic materials like those found in the WTC dust[2]
  • Employed the leader of the robotics team that scoured the pile at Ground Zero, using equipment capable of eliminating explosives
  • Provided the information to capture the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM)

Furthermore, Dick Cheney’s long-time protégé, Duane P. Andrews, ran SAIC’s government business for thirteen years, from 1993 to 2006, and was therefore a principal actor in these activities. During this time, Andrews was also a leading corporate representative on government commissions and task forces that evaluated threats to U.S. defense and information systems.

duane-andrewsAndrews’ history with Cheney goes back decades. In the Vietnam War, he was a special operations soldier in the U.S. Air Force. He then got a position as a staff member for the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. During his time in that position, Cheney was a prominent member of the House Intelligence Committee along with Lee Hamilton, the future 9/11 Commission vice-chairman.

Later, George H.W. Bush nominated Andrews for the post of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD/C3I). This led to Andrews being personally responsible for giving Secretary of Defense Cheney his daily intelligence briefs.

Cheney and Andrews used false information to start the Gulf War. This included satellite photos allegedly showing a build-up of Iraqi troops on the Saudi Arabian border, which were later shown by St. Petersburg Times reporter Jean Heller to represent a false claim.[3] The false information also included the testimony of the 15-year old Kuwaiti royal, Nayirah.

Andrews left the Pentagon in 1993 to become President and COO of SAIC’s federal business, which accounted for a majority of the company’s revenues. Andrews personally managed SAIC’s programs for the National Security Agency (NSA), and other agencies within the U.S. intelligence community, in the years leading up to 9/11 and afterward.

As the man hired to defend the U.S. against attacks on its defense information systems, Andrews became a critical part of the national security apparatus. All the while, he continued to consider Dick Cheney his personal, lifelong hero.[4]

SAIC and the road to 9/11

SAIC worked for many years in close partnership with oil-rich royals in the Middle East, particularly those that have become suspect with regard to 9/11. The first international contract that the company won was for training the Kuwaiti Defense Forces, starting in 1976. Three years later, SAIC secured its biggest and longest lasting international contract, training the Saudi Arabian navy.

In 1986, SAIC was hired by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) “to conduct a general security review of the WTC” with respect to terrorism. SAIC’s report rated the public areas of the WTC as very attractive targets for terrorism, emphasizing especially the basement levels.[5] Perhaps coincidentally, the Kuwaiti-owned security company Stratesec was hired by the PANYNJ in 1991 to provide a similar review and report.

After Andrews joined the company, SAIC was hired to investigate the 1993 bombing of the WTC, an event that was remarkably like the one that it had foreseen in 1986.[6] Moreover, SAIC ultimately provided input that led to producing the official account of what happened. The company boasted that — “After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, our blast analyses produced tangible results that helped identify those responsible.”[7]

In the early 1990s, SAIC was also a leader in developing technology for aviation security. At the time, SAIC had been contracted by a congressional advisory panel, led by L. Paul Bremer and Brian Michael Jenkins among others, to evaluate terrorist threats with regard to airport security.[8] By 1994, the company’s explosives detection equipment was installed in major airports around the country, including in New York City, Miami, and Washington, DC.[9]

Under Andrews, SAIC was heavily focused on analyzing risks to U.S. defense information systems and led the partnership between the U.S. government and industry in that area. As the chairman of a Defense Science Board taskforce on information warfare, Andrews learned about the specific vulnerabilities of U.S. national defense systems. In early 1997, he reported to Congress that U.S. defense systems were a “target-rich environment” and that attacks on certain facilities and information systems “would seriously affect the ability of the Department of Defense to carry out its assigned missions and functions.”[10] Andrews went on to build and secure the Defense Information System Network (DISN). The secret component of the DISN, which was called SIPRnet, linked command and control systems throughout the United States.

As of March 2001, SAIC was also part of the National Coordinating Center for telecommunications (NCC). NCC provided oversight to the agency that, on the morning of 9/11 but before the attacks began, implemented a secret communications system (SRAS) for the first time. The system had been developed in conjunction with the Continuity of Government (COG) plans that Dick Cheney had worked on for nearly twenty years along with Richard Clarke, who implemented COG for the first time as the events of 9/11 proceeded.[11]

The fact that Andrews was the most knowledgeable person in terms of the vulnerabilities of information and communications networks for U.S. national security seems a worthy point for further consideration. That’s because so many inexplicable problems occurred with defense communications networks on 9/11, including the following.

  • There were serious problems with the National Military Command Center’s conference calls that morning. Important participants could not be connected or were repeatedly dropped from the calls, including the FAA.[12]
  • U.S. national security facilities were in an information void on 9/11. Agencies that should have known the most about an ongoing terrorist event were blind to the ongoing attacks.[13]
  • The SIPRnet did not have any information about the attacks even as late as the afternoon of 9/11.[14]
  • President Bush complained of poor communications in that he “could not reach key officials, including Rumsfeld” and “The line to the White House shelter conference room – and the Vice-President- kept cutting off.”[15]

In the mid-1990s, SAIC created the U.S. systems for tracking terrorist suspects. For the FBI, SAIC developed CODIS, the national DNA database, and NCIC, the national criminal background check system.[16] To clarify, when in August 2001 Robert Fuller of the FBI went to search for Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi’s alleged presence in the United States via the NCIC system, he was checking a database built by SAIC. Although Fuller found nothing, the 9/11 Commission Report said that such checks should have unearthed driver’s licenses, car registrations, and telephone listings for Al-Mihdhar and Al Hazmi, all of which were in their names.[17] This fact alone should be enough to call for the investigation of SAIC with regard to 9/11.

SAIC purchased Boeing Information Services (BIS) in 1999. BIS specialized in information systems integration, logistics, networking, and outsourcing, and dealt with management of data communications to Boeing aircraft. Its work in progress included “a five-year Defense Information Systems Network contract with the Defense Information Systems Agency”, and “the Army’s Reserve Component Automation System, a 12-year contract worth $1.6 billion that the company won in 1991.”[18]

Andrews was a member of Donald Rumsfeld’s commission on national security uses of space. This commission argued that the US should avoid international agreements that limit the deployment of weapons in space, and that, in order to avoid a “Space Pearl Harbor,” the US needed to “develop the capability for power projection in, from, and through space.”[19] As a result, SAIC’s missile defense contracts tripled between 2001 and 2004, going from $47 million to $169 million in value.

SAIC and the WTC After 9/11

It turns out that SAIC was one of the first organizations to show up at Ground Zero. The company claimed in its 2004 shareholder report that — “Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, we responded rapidly to assist a number of customers near ground zero in New York City and in Washington, D.C.”[20] In one of these instances, “SAIC technicians raced to Ground Zero within hours to install an ad hoc communications network for first responders and local financial companies.”[21] Therefore, SAIC was in control of at least some of the communications at Ground Zero.

Perhaps the most interesting SAIC connection to the cleanup was John Blitch, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, who was said to have retired from the Army just the day before 9/11. It was reported that Blitch was “filling out the paperwork in an out-processing office of the Pentagon on the morning of September 10, 2001,” and that after “three years at the helm of the Defense Department’s Tactical Mobile Robots Program,” he was “leaving to direct the Center for Intelligent Robotics and Unmanned Systems at the Science Applications International Corporation.”[22]

Instead of traveling to his SAIC office in Colorado on 9/11, as he had planned, “Blitch scrapped the trip…and headed for New York. On the road, Blitch donned his fatigues, dug out his military ID, and worked his cell phone, summoning colleagues from Florida to Boston to pack up their finest tactical robots and rendezvous at Ground Zero.” And “Over the next 11 days, the group’s 17 robots squeezed into spaces too narrow for humans, dug through heaps of scalding rubble, and found seven bodies trapped beneath the mountains of twisted steel and shattered concrete.”[23]

Blitch was experienced at such search missions, and had done “ground-breaking research in robot assisted search and rescue conducted during the Oklahoma City Bombing response”.[24] By May 2001, laser technology was being used by Blitch’s robot program. It was reported that — “Robots are performing quite successfully in the field of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)”… and “EOD units [include] a laser weapon for ordnance neutralization…[used to] burn unexploded ordnance.”[25]

Therefore, SAIC had the means and opportunity to neutralize any unwanted explosives that might have been buried in the pile at Ground Zero. That’s interesting in that SAIC supplied the largest contingent of non-governmental investigators to the NIST WTC investigation after 9/11. That investigation went to great lengths in order to avoid consideration of explosives.

Manufacturing and Profiting From War

SAIC went on to play an integral role in the “War on Terror”, and was even responsible for capturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It was SAIC staff and technology that “tease[ed] out crucial clues about Mohammed’s activities from intercepted text messages that he sent to his al Qaeda operatives using as many as 20 different cell phones.”[26]

After 9/11, SAIC was hired to fix the problems it had created with terrorist tracking systems. Duane Andrews was personally in charge of the project called Trailblazer, which was originally launched in 1999 but ostensibly was not tested for operational use by the U.S. government until six years later. The system was meant to translate all NSA intercepts, including telephone, email and other electronic information, into actionable intelligence.

An oft-cited example of the failures that Trailblazer was meant to avoid was the reported incident in which messages stating “tomorrow is zero hour” and “the match begins tomorrow” were intercepted by the NSA on September 10, 2001 but not translated until September 12th. The Trailblazer system was not the answer to those problems, however, and was ultimately a total failure. After 6 years and $1.2 billion spent, the NSA cancelled the project in 2005.

Another huge failure led by SAIC was with the FBI system called Virtual Case File (VCF), which was intended to solve the supposed information sharing problem that prevented the FBI from tracking terrorists like Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi, who lived for years with an FBI informant. VCF was meant to provide a centralized database of terrorism related information that all FBI agents could utilize. However, after three years and hundreds of millions in costs, VCF was written off as “the most highly publicized software failure in history.”[27]

SAIC’s 9/11 profiteering didn’t stop there. While helping NIST to determine the causes of the WTC destruction, “SAIC personnel were instrumental in pressing the case that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and that war was the only way to get rid of them.”[28] The company helped supply the faulty intelligence that said Saddam had WMDs and then profited from the invasion by generating Iraq contracts worth billions of dollars. In 2003 alone, SAIC pulled in $5.4 billion in government revenue.

With the help of SAIC, John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame was able to convince the U.S. government to hire him to ensure “Total Information Awareness” as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Through related programs, SAIC won major contracts for management of huge IT systems that involved spying on Americans and running the Joint Intelligence Operations Centers (JIOCs).[29]

Considering the incredible growth in contracts that SAIC realized from the events of 9/11, any independent investigation into those events should carefully consider the role played by that company and its leadership. Andrews and his company were integral to the counterterrorism programs of the United States in the years prior to 9/11. The company’s role included creating the national databases that tracked and identified terrorists, supplying airport screening equipment, predicting and investigating terrorist attacks against the WTC, helping to create the official account for what happened at the WTC after 9/11, and providing the information to capture KSM. Undoubtedly, SAIC’s impact on the counterterrorism programs of the United States prior to 9/11 was unique and pervasive.

Duane Andrews should be a person of specific interest because he had expert knowledge of the vulnerabilities of the U.S. defense and information systems at a time when many of those systems failed catastrophically. If anyone knew how to exploit weaknesses in the telecommunications and electronic systems of the U.S. defense department, it was Duane Andrews. His history of being closely aligned with the activities of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, for the twenty years prior to 9/11, provides additional reason to suspect him.

Notes

[1] Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow, Vanity Fair, March 2007, http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703

[2] Kevin R. Ryan, The Top Ten Connections Between NIST and Nanothermites, Journal of 9/11 Studies, July 2008

[3] Morris Berman, Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire, W. W. Norton & Company, 2011

[4] Laura Rozen, The First Contract, The American Prospect, March 30, 2007,http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?articleId=12612

[5] New York County Supreme Court, Matter of World Trade Ctr. Bombing Litig, 2004 NY Slip Op 24030 [3 Misc 3d 440], January 20, 2004

[6] New York State Law Reporting Bureau, In The Matter of World Trade Center Bombing Litigation, 2004 NY Slip Op 24030 [3 Misc 3d 440], January 20, 2004,  http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2004/2004_24030.htm

[7] Science Applications International Corporation, Annual Report 2004http://www.saic.com/news/pdf/Annual-Report2004.pdf

[8] U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Technology Against Terrorism: The Federal Effort, OTA-ISC-481, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 1991.

[9] A. Maureen Rouhi, Government, Industry Efforts Yield Array Of Tools To Combat Terrorism, Chemical & Engineering News, July 24, 1995

[10] Statement by Duane P. Andrews, Chairman, Defense Science Board Task Force on Information Warfare & Defense,https://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1997_hr/h970320a.htm

[11] Matthew Everett, Backup Communications System Was ‘Miraculously’ Switched on for ‘Exercise Mode’ and Ready for Use on 9/11, Shoestring 9/11, January 10, 2011,http://shoestring911.blogspot.com/2011/01/backup-communications-system-was.html

[12] Matthew Everett, The Repeatedly Delayed Responses of the Pentagon Command Center on 9/11, Shoestring 9/11, November 7, 2010

[13] Matthew Everett, Why Were U.S. Intelligence Facilities in an ‘Information Void’ During the 9/11 Attacks?, Shoestring 9/11, August 19, 2012

[14] Ibid

[15] The 9/11 Commission Report, p 40. Note that these communication failures helped ensure that the President was out of the loop for a longer period of time.

[16] Science Applications International Corporation, Press Release, August 24, 1994

[17] National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report, 2004, p 539

[18] Nick Wakeman, Boeing Information Services Sale Has Industry Abuzz, Washington Technology, Jan 21, 1999

[19] Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization

[20] SAIC shareholder report, 2004,http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/SAIC/0x0x208149/64117BC7-5895-497E-A8EB-158A6E57012C/AR_2004.pdf

[21] William Launder, Homeland Security Goes Public, Forbes.com, 08.03.06,http://www.forbes.com/2006/08/02/saic-homeland-security-ipo-cx_wl_0803saic.html

[22] Michael Behar, The New Mobile Infantry: Battle-ready robots are rolling out of the research lab and into harm’s way, Wired, Issue 10.05 | May 2002,http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.05/robots.html

[23] Ibid

[24] American Android Corp webpage, About Us,http://www.americanandroid.com/about.jb.html

[25] Sandra I. Erwin, Battlefield Robots: Not Just ‘Entertainment’, National Defense, May 2001,http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2001/May/Pages/Battlefield_Robots4252.aspx

[26] Paul Kaihla, US: In The Company Of Spies, CorpWatch, May 1st, 2003,http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=7892

[27] Harry Goldstein, Who Killed the Virtual Case File?: How the FBI blew more than $100 million on case-management software it will never use, IEEE Spectrum, September 2005

[28] Charlie Cray, “Science Applications International Corporation,” CorpWatch,http://www.corpwatch.org/section.php?id=17 ; cf. Barlett and Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow.”

[29] Tim Shorrock, QinetiQ Goes Kinetic: Top Rumsfeld Aide Wins Contracts from Spy Office He Set Up, CorpWatch, January 15, 2008

The contents of this article as well as the view expressed are of sole responsibility of the author. The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Just about every day in Iraq at least one person, if not scores more lose their lives wrecking family after family as a direct consequence of the US/British invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq back in 2003. To this day 11 years after that invasion a sectarian war still rages whilst according to a prominent ‘Independent ‘ journalist, jihadists have since taken control of an area the size of Great Britain, partly in Iraq and partly in Syria. Meanwhile the 2010 figure of 650,000 plus dead must have increased by now being far closer to the 700,000 mark. This whilst baby’s are still being born deformed by the chemicals the Americans used during  their ‘Phantom  fury’  battle of Fallujah at the end of 2004 that took over 4000 lives alone, flattening much of the city.

Now here’s a question for anyone out there reading this who also happens to be a British tax payer. Did you know that for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars your part of the £30 billion we all spent was roughly around £1000 per head. That’s a grand share that you personally paid towards taking all those thousands of lives and destroying all those thousands of homes.

How would you now feel if I were to tell you that you were duped, that you were ripped off and that you were cheated not only out of your £1000 investment but that you were also unwittingly a  partner in a mass murder , a crooked, fraudulent  and  atrociously run business deal which went horribly wrong. What would you want to do about it. You might feel you were entitled to some kind of criminal investigation and presumably you might want some kind of justice metered out on those criminals responsible for the loss of your  fellow human beings who’d lost their lives including let us not forget the 179 British soldiers who died in Iraq.

Well don’t worry, it’s all been taken care of. Indeed the person who led you into this corrupt fraudulent and murderous deal, Tony Blair, allowed his old friend and non elected successor Gordon Brown to open an inquiry in your name. With a carte blanche remit to interview all the notable politicians and civil servants involved, the Iraq Inquiry or the Chilcot inquiry, which has currently spent eight of your million quid, was set up five years ago to investigate where it all went wrong. Oh but by the way you will just have to wait another six months or so, as all those taking part, Blair included, haven’t had an opportunity to sign it off yet.

Oh wait a minute, we’ve just learnt that it won’t be a carte blanche remit after all as a good proportion of the correspondence between Bush and Blair will remain secret for ‘security reasons’ because obviously we wouldn’t like to show all of America’s so called enemies, Putin, half the middle east, and vast swathes of Latin America what the US were really up to with these recent imperialist wars , America and Britain once again challenging  others to learn from our democratic ways.

Oh and sorry to inform you that if you didn’t already work it out, the inquiry, having been set up by the perpetrators,  is obviously not a criminal investigation and will therefore not be looking into the bleeding obvious corruption that went on in your name for the businesses of oil , banking construction and arms dealing.

The evidence

Well we don’t need an inquiry to tell us what we already know, which when you think about it is all the inquiry will give us. Clearly we already know that there were no weapons of mass destruction, not only because they couldn’t find any but also because Paul Wolfowitz the Neo-con, one time president of the world bank and former US deputy defence secretary under George Bush let slip in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine that the WMD question was chosen as an excuse for removing Saddam Hussein as it was’ the one thing we could all agree on’. Presumably because at the time it was the one thing  that nobody could prove..We also know that the JIC here in London (Joint Intelligence committee) were telling Blair that the evidence for WMD was patchy and sporadic, yet Blair in the opening of the now infamous ‘Dodgy Dossier ‘ was telling us a downright lie with the words in its preface that the evidence was ‘extensive detailed and authoritative’.

We also don’t need an Inquiry to tell us that there was simply no evidence or justification in another Blair lie that the 45 minute claim for weapon deployment he made in the House of Commons had any justification. A lie that even Blair has since admitted was regretful, and we don’t need an inquiry to tell us that the man who sold all the information to the US which ended up in Colin Powell’s address to the UN, yes, the one where he held up that vile of white powder, turned out to be an Iraqi taxi driver called, ‘curve ball’ who admitted spinning the story because he needed the money to get a green card to live in Germany. You just couldn’t make it up!

As for the corruption – Clearly an inquiry won’t be looking into the following activities of Blair as they are of a criminal nature and would only therefore come out as incriminating evidence in a proper court of law. It’s a known fact that JP Morgan the 2nd largest banking organisation in the US who paid into the Bush/Cheney election ticket  led a consortium of banks who loaned the Iraq bank $2.5 billion to prop up the Iraq economy six months after the invasion to be repaid after the war by mortgaging Iraq’s oil. They then hired Blair on $5 million a year deal and still do for, for wait for it, ‘advice’.

Any commentator in Kuwait will tell you, in news that was widely reported over here too, that not long after he left office Blair was paid between $ 20-40 million dollars by the Al Sabah royal family of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein’s old enemies’, again for ‘advice’ He then signed another deal in 2008 with a Korean oil firm with extensive interests in Iraq, (bombs were going off right left and centre in Iraq at the time) for millions but managed to hide this deal from the public for another year. These snippets of information in Blair’s dealings are minor in the grand scheme of things – there are surely many more – but what becomes quite clear is that a man with Blair’s obvious business acumen must have known long before he lied in the house of commons and to the nation about the so called WMD that he stood to make millions just as soon as he left office. We can only guess that just like any crook he and Bush thought they would get away scott free. After the ten years of sanctions Saddam Hussein and Iraq was crippled. So knowing the US’s vast military power, Bush and Blair would have been convinced that after the initial invasion and battles, it would be all over..You remember Bush’s speech from the warship US Abraham Lincoln with that big sign above his head ‘Mission accomplished’. Well it wasn’t over as we all know and the sectarian war still rages on as you read.

The Iraq war and the Chilcot inquiry are by far the greatest scandal of our generation. I’m sure that Stop The War, which might, it could be argued have more success if they were to call themselves ‘Start the peace’ will surely be doing all they can whenever the inquiry does come out. As citizens of what should no longer be called ‘Great’ Britain, I’ve no doubt the Iraq inquiry will sadly but undoubtedly be our last real chance to get anywhere close to taking a former prime minister and war criminal, Tony Blair down for the most heinous of modern crimes. It’s clear that a vast proportion of the population of the UK, 2 million+ of them who marched with Stop the war in March 2003 .are part of globally millions ( if not billions) who would like to witness so-called ‘democratic justice’ carried out for the 650,000+ and counting- human lives taken in their name and  for the corruption that followed  by Bush, Blair and company in Iraq.

When the inquiry does eventually come out, and it could apparently ”criticize Blair” All I would ask is that we organize a 24-hour nonstop demonstration outside Blair’s house in Connaught Sq London W2. A demonstration like those in Tahir square Cairo that not only protests but, as Tony Benn would have said ‘Demands’ justice in a democracy. A criminal investigation must follow Chilcot’ for if as citizens we do not carry this through, then surely we will be as guilty as our establishment for turning a blind eye on these war crimes and for allowing this to happen in our name, tantamount to doing nothing. Which, as the notable Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said, is all it will take for ‘evil to triumph’.

Paul Craig Roberts held top security clearances. He has repeatedly warned that a US-Russian nuclear war would wipe out the human race, along with all other complex forms of life. As a scientist with expert knowledge, I wish to echo and explain his warning.

Nuclear war has no winner. Beginning in 2006, several of the world’s leading climatologists (at Rutgers, UCLA, John Hopkins University, and the University of Colorado-Boulder) published a series of studies that evaluated the long-term environmental consequences of a nuclear war, including baseline scenarios fought with merely 1% of the explosive power in the US and/or Russian launch-ready nuclear arsenals. They concluded that the consequences of even a “small” nuclear war would include catastrophic disruptions of global climate[i] and massive destruction of Earth’s protective ozone layer[ii]. These and more recent studies predict that global agriculture would be so negatively affected by such a war, a global famine would result, which would cause up to 2 billion people to starve to death. [iii]

These peer-reviewed studies – which were analyzed by the best scientists in the world and found to be without error – also predict that a war fought with less than half of US or Russian strategic nuclear weapons would destroy the human race.[iv] In other words, a US-Russian nuclear war would create such extreme long-term damage to the global environment that it would leave the Earth uninhabitable for humans and most animal forms of life.

A recent article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “Self-assured destruction: The climate impacts of nuclear war”,[v] begins by stating:

“A nuclear war between Russia and the United States, even after the arsenal reductions planned under New START, could produce a nuclear winter. Hence, an attack by either side could be suicidal, resulting in self-assured destruction.”

In 2009, I wrote an article[vi] for the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament that summarizes the findings of these studies. It explains that nuclear firestorms would produce millions of tons of smoke, which would rise above cloud level and form a global stratospheric smoke layer that would rapidly encircle the Earth. The smoke layer would remain for at least a decade, and it would act to destroy the protective ozone layer (vastly increasing the UV-B reaching Earth[vii]) as well as block warming sunlight, thus creating Ice Age weather conditions that would last 10 years or longer.

Following a US-Russian nuclear war, temperatures in the central US and Eurasia would fall below freezing every day for one to three years; the intense cold would completely eliminate growing seasons for a decade or longer. No crops could be grown, leading to a famine that would kill most humans and large animal populations.

Electromagnetic pulse from high-altitude nuclear detonations would destroy the integrated circuits in all modern electronic devices[viii], including those in commercial nuclear power plants. Every nuclear reactor would almost instantly meltdown; every nuclear spent fuel pool (which contain many times more radioactivity than found in the reactors) would boil-off, releasing vast amounts of long-lived radioactivity. The fallout would make most of the US and Europe uninhabitable. Of course, the survivors of the nuclear war would be starving to death anyway.

Once nuclear weapons were introduced into a US-Russian conflict, there would be little chance that a nuclear holocaust could be avoided. Theories of “limited nuclear war” and “nuclear de-escalation” are unrealistic.[ix] In 2002 the Bush administration modified US strategic doctrine from a retaliatory role to permit preemptive nuclear attack; in 2010, the Obama administration made only incremental and miniscule changes to this doctrine, leaving it essentially unchanged.  Furthermore, Counterforce doctrine – used by both the US and Russian military – emphasizes the need for preemptive strikes once nuclear war begins. Both sides would be under immense pressure to launch a preemptive nuclear first-strike once military hostilities had commenced, especially if nuclear weapons had already been used on the battlefield.

Both the US and Russia each have 400 to 500 launch-ready ballistic missiles armed with a total of at least 1800 strategic nuclear warheads,[xi] which can be launched with only a few minutes warning.[xii] Both the US and Russian Presidents are accompanied 24/7 by military officers carrying a “nuclear briefcase”, which allows them to transmit the permission order to launch in a matter of seconds.

Yet top political leaders and policymakers of both the US and Russia seem to be unaware that their launch-ready nuclear weapons represent a self-destruct mechanism for the human race. For example, in 2010, I was able to publicly question the chief negotiators of the New START treaty, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov and (then) US Assistant Secretary of State, Rose Gottemoeller, during their joint briefing at the UN (during the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference). I asked them if they were familiar with the recent peer-reviewed studies that predicted the detonation of less than 1% of the explosive power contained in the operational and deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear forces would cause catastrophic changes in the global climate, and that a nuclear war fought with their strategic nuclear weapons would kill most people on Earth. They both answered “no.”

More recently, on April 20, 2014, I asked the same question and received the same answer from the US officials sent to brief representatives of the NGOS at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting at the UN. None of the US officials at the briefing were aware of the studies. Those present included top officials of the National Security Council.

It is frightening that President Obama and his administration appear unaware that the world’s leading scientists have for years predicted that a nuclear war fought with the US and/or Russian strategic nuclear arsenal means the end of human history. Do they not know of the existential threat these arsenals pose to the human race . . . or do they choose to remain silent because this fact doesn’t fit into their official narratives? We hear only about terrorist threats that could destroy a city with an atomic bomb, while the threat of human extinction from nuclear war is never mentioned – even when the US and Russia are each running huge nuclear war games in preparation for a US-Russian war.

Even more frightening is the fact that the neocons running US foreign policy believe that the US has “nuclear primacy” over Russia; that is, the US could successfully launch a nuclear sneak attack against Russian (and Chinese) nuclear forces and completely destroy them. This theory was articulated in 2006 in “The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy”, which was published in Foreign Affairs by the Council on Foreign Relations.[xiii] By concluding that the Russians and Chinese would be unable to retaliate, or if some small part of their forces remained, would not risk a second US attack by retaliating, the article invites nuclear war.

Colonel Valery Yarynich (who was in charge of security of the Soviet/Russian nuclear command and control systems for 7 years) asked me to help him write a rebuttal, which was titled “Nuclear Primacy is a Fallacy”.[xiv] Colonel Yarynich, who was on the Soviet General Staff and did war planning for the USSR, concluded that the “Primacy” article used faulty methodology and erroneous assumptions, thus invalidating its conclusions. My contribution lay in my knowledge of the recently published (in 2006) studies, which predicted even a “successful” nuclear first-strike, which destroyed 100% of the opposing sides nuclear weapons, would cause the citizens of the side that “won” the nuclear war to perish from nuclear famine, just as would the rest of humanity.

Although the nuclear primacy article created quite a backlash in Russia, leading to a public speech by the Russian Foreign Minister, the story was essentially not covered in the US press. We were unable to get our rebuttal published by US media. The question remains as to whether the US nuclear primacy asserted in the article has been accepted as a fact by the US political and military establishment. Such acceptance would explain the recklessness of US policy toward Russia and China.

Thus we find ourselves in a situation in which those who are in charge of our nuclear arsenal seem not to understand that they can end human history if they choose to push the button. Most of the American public also remains completely unaware of this deadly threat. The uninformed are leading the uninformed toward the abyss of extinction.

US public schools have not taught students about nuclear weapons for more than 20 years. The last time nuclear war was discussed or debated in a US Presidential election was sometime in the last century. Thus, most people do not know that a single strategic nuclear weapon can easily ignite a massive firestorm over 100 square miles, and that the US and Russia each have many thousands of these weapons ready for immediate use.

Meanwhile, neoconservative ideology has kept the US at war during the entire 21st century. It has led to the expansion of US/NATO forces to the very borders of Russia, a huge mistake that has consequently revived the Cold War. A hallmark of neconservatism is that America is the “indispensable nation”, as evidenced by the neoconservative belief in “American exceptionalism”, which essentially asserts that Americans are superior to all other peoples, that American interests and values should reign supreme in the world.

At his West Point speech on May 28, President Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.” Obama stated his bottom line is that “America must always lead on the world stage,” and “the backbone of that leadership always will be the military.” American exceptionalism based on might, not diplomacy, on hard power, not soft, is precisely the hubris and arrogance that could lead to the termination of human life. Washington’s determination to prevent the rise of Russia and China, as set out in the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines, is a recipe for nuclear war.

The need is dire for the president of the US, Russia, or China to state in a highly public forum that the existence of nuclear weapons creates the possibility of their use and that their use in war would likely mean human extinction. As nuclear war has no winners, the weapons should be banned and destroyed before they destroy all of us.

Steven Starr is the Senior Scientist for Physicians for Social Responsibility (www.psr.org) and Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Missouri. Starr has published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the Strategic Arms Reduction (STAR) website of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He has a website on the environmental consequences of nuclear war (www.nucleardarkness.org ).

The statements are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Physicians for Social Responsibility or the opinions of the University of Missouri and its faculty.

Notes:

[i] O. B. Toon, R. Turco, A. Robock, C. Bardeen, L. Oman, G. Stenchikov, “Atmospheric effects and societal consequences of regional scale nuclear conflicts and acts of individual nuclear terrorism”, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 7, 2007, pp. 973-2002. Retrieved from http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/acp-7-1973-2007.pdf

[ii] M. Mills, O. B. Toon, R. Turco, D. Kinnison, R. Garcia, “Massive global ozone loss predicted following regional nuclear conflict”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), April 8, 2008, vol. 105(14), pp. 5307-12. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/105/14/5307.abstract

[iii] I. Helfand, “Two Billion People at Risk? Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War on Agriculture, Food Supply, and Human Nutrition”, Physicians for Social Responsibility, November, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/two-billion-at-risk.pdf

[iv] A. Robock, L. Oman, G. Stenchikov, “Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences”, Journal of Geophysical Research –Atmospheres, Vol. 112, No. D13, 2007. Retrieved from http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/RobockNW2006JD008235.pdf

[v] A. Robock, O. B. Toon, “Self-assured destruction: The climate impacts of nuclear war”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 30, 2013. Retrieved from http://thebulletin.org/2012/september/self-assured-destruction-climate-impacts-nuclear-war

[vi] S. Starr, “Catastrophic Climatic Consequences of Nuclear Conflicts”, Updated 2009 version (from INESAP Bulletin 28, April 2008), Retrieved from http://icnnd.org/Documents/Starr_Nuclear_Winter_Oct_09.pdf

[vii] M. Mills, J. Lee-Taylor, “Nuclear War and Ultraviolet Radiation”, National Center for Atmospheric Research, AtmosNews, March 2, 2011. Retrieved from https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/research/3995/nuclear-war-and-ultraviolet-radiation

[viii] Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, “Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: Critical National Infrastructures”, April, 2008, ISBN 978-0-16-080927-9; Retrieved from http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf

[ix] N. Sokov, “Why Russia calls a limited nuclear strike “de-escalation”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 13, 2014. Retrieved from http://thebulletin.org/why-russia-calls-limited-nuclear-strike-de-escalation

[x] H. Kristensen, R. Norris, I. Oelrich, “From Counterforce to Minimal Deterrence: A New Nuclear Policy on the Path Towards Eliminating Nuclear Weapons”, Federation of American Scientists, Occasional Paper No. 7, April, 2009.Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/doctrine/targeting.pdf

[xi] “Status of World Nuclear Forces (2014)”, Federation of American Scientists, Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus.html

[xii] S. Starr, “US and Russian Launch-Ready Nuclear Weapons: A Threat to All Nations and Peoples”, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, July, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.wagingpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2011_06_24_starr.pdf

[xiii] K. Lieber, D. Press, “The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy”, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006. Retrieved from http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61508/keir-a-lieber-and-daryl-g-press/the-rise-of-us-nuclear-primacy

[xiv] V. Yarynich, S. Starr, “Nuclear Primacy is a Fallacy”, Intelligent.ru, 2006 (Russian) 25 May 2006, Global Research, March 04, 2007. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/nuclear-primacy-is-a-fallacy/4991

25 years ago almost to this day, I recall being a fairly young “cub reporter” full of enthusiasm and energy and great optimism for the future. I stood along with as pack of “seasoned” American and Polish reporters and European senior correspondents on the tarmac of the Ociece airport in Warsaw, as George Bush (the elder) stepped off Air Force One. Waiting to greet him was General-Polish president Jaruzelski (who ominously passed away recently), the architect of the “round table” talks which led to a peaceful transition in Poland away from communist dictatorship to democracy. It was great moment in history.  Europe was “whole and free” once more.

And perhaps for the US president (unlike his son George W. Bush Jr. , the “draft dodger’, the father fought bravely in WWII) or for him, being back in re-liberated Eastern Europe in 1989,  maybe felt  like re-living V – E Day (or victory in Europe) again . After the army band played the national anthems, I sneaked on the bus reserved for “White House press corps” only, with my companion a budding French photographer. Then we were whisked away (under the suspicious stare of the secret service), to Lech Walesa’s private estate on the outskirts of Gdansk. There in this splendid bucolic setting the American president met according to protocol “Informally” with the Solidarity leader and soon to be next leader of the country.

Bush senior announced a huge aid package worth billions for Poland and soon the “Paris club” of bankers and Poland’s creditors would absolve the country of all its foreign debts.

A new beginning was underway for Poland it seemed. Free markets and democratic freedoms would triumphantly reign over the old continent and peace and prosperity was at hand. It was such a magic moment for all us to report on to the world’s newspaper readers and mass media consumers.

Poland –US ties: From President Bush the “cold war warrior” to President Barack “Yes, we can!” Obama

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the first post-communist “free elections” in eastern and central Europe. With the mid-term congressional elections probably in his mind, the US president extolled that: “Poland will never stand alone”. A clear message aimed at his domestic audience, in his home town (full of voters of Polish background) Chicago. Which brings me to ask: Who is the better guarantor of Poland’s security in the White House, a democrat or a Republican?  Poland was always up for grabs among the US multicultural electorate.

Obama’s political mentor, Bill Clinton in the 1990s, was a key player in driving force in pushing for NATO’s eastward expansion to Poland (for obvious electoral and less then sentimental reasons). Later on, George W. Bush not to be  outdone by his predecessor ,  paid several visits to Poland during his two terms in office to thank the post-communist country for its unflinching support  in the “war on terror”. Poland in return sent thousands of troops (and suffered hundreds of casualties) or had boots on the ground, in both Afghanistan and Iraq for over a decade. Over the past 25 years, the country’s foreign policy or ardent pro –American stance is driven for legitimate historical reasons, or by a vehement anti-Russian sentiment. Moreover, Warsaw sees itself as spearheading the struggle to wield Ukraine free of the centuries old yolk of Russian domination.

Its strategic partnership with Washington is seen as natural and vital in this regard.  The US in return, acts as an enabler, using its foreign bases (CIA training camps and NATO installations) in Poland as a springboard for its “war on terror”; or against other potential foes such as Iran or Russia. Thus the bi-lateral relationship is mutually beneficial. It works well. Or as the saying goes: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

1944-1989 to the Present: From a world war, to the post war era, to today’s re-newed rivalries and divisions

The Americans in 1944 had freed Western Europe and in 1989, they did the same, (or so goes the official State Department line) for Europe’s “poor cousins” located in the eastern half of the continent. It was indeed a momentous accomplishment. Europe was “whole and free” once again and it seemed back then that from now on all Europeans from Sweden to Spain, to the coast of Brittany to the Baltic Sea, would live in peace, prosperity and freedom, under the benevolent stewardship of both NATO and the EU.

In other words, the old order based on perpetual military and ideological confrontation which characterised the 20th century was blown away with the victorious winds of war, and “never again” would return. Old hostilities which haunted or overshadow the continent where dispelled forever. Looking back on those days today, makes the present seem like a grotesque joke or a re-run from an old propaganda newsreel full of lies and deception. It’s a bitter disappointment, indeed.

1989 or 1939?

For instance when I glance at the headline in the major European (Austrian, French, British, and Spanish etc.) press during this week’s historical fest, I am befuddled and confused. Are European leaders living in the world of yesterday again? Are they suffering from collective amnesia or delusion maybe? Have they forgotten their past, in their nihilistic pursuit of a post-modern dystopia or supra state? Is the present just a photo-opportunity for western leaders to boost their sagging poll ratings (I refer to the French and US president, here)? All this razzmatazz and spin can be dizzying for some observers or commentators of and on the international scene. Behind the backdrop of all these celebrations Europe is unravelling.  It is in post-Euro crisis mode. Protests against unrelenting austerity, decrepit and corrupt monarchies (i.e. Spain) and technocratic and authoritarian rule have spread throughout the Mediterranean basin from Greece to Italy, to Spain and Portugal. Turkey too is engulfed in a bitterly violent and popular struggle to overthrow a tyrant. Moreover, the core countries of Europe are fed up with the dictates of Brussels’ imperial order. Witness the rise of the “protest vote” in England (UKIP) and France (National Front), in last month’s EU wide vote.

The results were indicative of the EU’s citizenry‘s mood. There’s utter disgust with and for the ruling elite and establishment. As in the late 1930’s, a motley crew of unseemly “Populists”, nationalist and extreme right, anti-immigrant (The first time in German post war history a member of the NDP or neo-Nazi party has been elected in an European parliament.) and retrograde eccentrics are coming to the fore. Anything goes, in a popular vote which has rejected wholesale “business as usual’ in Brussels. What a circus the next sitting or session in Strasbourg will be!

In the “other Europe” things aren’t much better if not worse. In Ukraine, fascist politicians whose forefathers became and collaborated with the Waffen-SS commandos in the form of “Right Sector” and “Svodoba” have come to power in an EU-US orchestrated and financed putsch in Kiev.

And now to add insult to injury a “Willy Wonka” chocolate king, and oligarch with not so clean hands, has been elected as new president. In this post-coup, post-presidential election era, Ukraine’s response to Russian “hegemony” has been an “anti-terrorist” operation to quell “separatist fighters” seeking to break away from Kiev’s rule. The US President for his part, while in Poland announced in Warsaw, on Tuesday, more military spending for Eastern Europe to help “new Europe” deal with the on-going and deteriorating rapidly, Ukraine crisis.

With an American fighter jet in the background, the US commander in chief promised to upgrade US military presence ( army, navy and air force) in the region at a cost of one billion US$ (735 million Euros). A pittance when compared to the trillions spent over the years on bailing out “too big to fail” and “zombie” banks in Europe and the US, since the 2008 financial crises. But nevertheless, hardly a trifling sum in an era of prolonged economic malaise and severe social deprivation.

Almost on cue on the same day in Brussels, in a show unity and of solidarity with Ukraine and “new Europe”, NATO defence ministers met to discuss how the alliance can offset Russian influence in the eastern part of the now Balkanised and destabilised country. It’s almost as if 25 years after 1989, new division from the past have reappeared. Or the new militarism has displaced the center of gravity of conflict further to the east. The new dividing line this time in Europe is the Dnieper and no longer the Oder River. Little has changed. The “whole and free Europe” rhetoric of yesteryear being echoed and feted in Warsaw or Paris must very empty or hollow in Kiev, Odessa or Donetsk these days. It’s devoid of any substance or meaning.  As once more Europe is engulfed in perpetual conflict, civil strife and again is cut into two parts as before.

Now let’s take a closer and quick look at two institutions which shape and determine Europe’s future.

NATO, Quo Vadis?

NATO as in 1989 today is searching for a new raison d’etre to justify its own existence and ensure its survival into the future. After the Afghanistan debacle the Brussels based transatlantic alliance, needs to keep itself well funded or it will be out of business soon. NATO is in a fix. It can’t enlarge further east to places like Georgia, Armenia or Ukraine for that matter, without risking a non-conventional war with post-Soviet “resurgent” Russia. And Iran looks like it can be tamed (to do the west’s bidding) if given the proper enticements by the western powers. So any immanent NATO led first or pre-emptive strike against the Islamic Republic is “off the table” for a good while.

Furthermore, most of the 28 member NATO states or partners for their part are cutting back on defence. The alliance’s leader, the US, is too, “downsizing” its military capability. The figures speak for themselves. In the past few years NATO member states cut military spending up to 40 percent. The UK in terms of its overall GNP spends only 2,4 percent on defence, Greece 2,3 percent, Estonia 2,0 percent.  Germany is the lowest spender with 1,3 percent. Russia for its part after decades of stagnation in its armed forces has over the past five years increased defence outlays by 10 percent. Hence, an underfunded NATO after 25 years of expansion has overextended itself. The alliance took in too many and too quickly, new members at a time of great financial and economic distress within its ranks. In contrast, Russia profiting from an unprecedented oil and gas boom has filled its state coffers to the rim. And thus in the last decade has increased its military budget. For NATO, however, the Ukraine situation has given leaders on both sides of the Atlantic a pretext to boost military spending. So taxpayers, get ready to cough up more cash!

European Union, Quo Vadis?

Like NATO the EU also has twenty eight member states. However the EU after 25 years of deepening and widening is falling apart at the seams. The Eurozone crisis has left the EU torn between a relatively prosperous north (Benelux, Germany and Scandinavia) and a very poor southern flank comprising the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) which includes the Balkans as well (Bulgaria and Romanian).

This week in Vienna top diplomats from Southern Europe have come to consult with the EU counterparts. They are seeking assistance for the devastating floods which have hit the region this spring. But above all, states like Serbia are asking for reassurance that, like Croatia and Slovenia this ex-Yugo. Republic, will too join the EU soon. There’s a hitch however. Like NATO, the EU is suffering from “enlargement fatigue” and can’t take in new and relatively poor member states. The enlargement process is thus in limbo indefinitely. The future of Europe looks bleaker than it did in 1989, or 1944. The next commemoration this month likely to make headline, will be the day almost a hundred years ago when a shot rang out in Sarajevo, which was heard around the world. It seems Europe today is living in a kind of flashback mode, in a world of yesterday; or one which vanished with the start of the “Great War” in 1914, once again.

 Michael Werbowski is a Vienna based journalist, geo-political analyst, and post graduate in Post-Communist studies (University of Leeds, UK).

12 people from one family were killed after the fall of mortar shells on Tuesday at their home in Fallujah city, where fierce fighting and shelling took place since more than five months ago , according to a security source.

Sources talked about the outbreak of strong fighting in several neighborhoods of Ramadi city in Anbar province, as Iraqi authorities said a few months ago that they have regained control the province from Islamist militants .

The sources told “Shafaq News” that “ 12 people, including 7 children and two women were killed by a mortar shell that fall at their home in al-Nuaimiya area southern Fallujah.

The sources did not refer to who fired the shell , but the army is besieging the city since it was taken over by armed opponents of the government , including Islamist militants earlier this year.

The army bombarded the city by warplanes and artillery and says it is targeting militants in an effort to get them out of the city , but the city’s residents , who are Sunnis say that the bombing does not distinguish between civilians and armed men .

In Ramadi, the sources said that clashes broke out late last night between gunmen and army troops in several areas , including al-Haouz , Street 20 , al-Mustawdaa areas in central Ramadi as well as al-Thbat and street 60 neighborhoods southeast of the city .

He pointed out that the clashes were accompanied by indiscriminate shelling by the army , the extent of casualties on both sides were not known immediately.

A witness who lives in Street 20 told Shafaq News  that  they could not get out of their homes after their return to it as the security forces closed the entrances of Ramadi and bridges within the city.

Gunmen bombed the headquarters of the Eighth Brigade west of Ramadi by a number of mortar shells and rockets, according to a source .

In Sharqat in Salahuddin province , the source said one civilian was killed after an hour after being kidnapped by gunmen .

The source added that armed group stormed a funeral in Kanaos, and kidnapped a civilian and took him to an unknown destination, then an hour later, he was found dead on the outskirts of Sharqat village .

According to a statement issued by the Anti-terrorism service, reported for Shafaq News, that “the intelligence elite forces in coordination with the Air Force managed to kill five “terrorists” from “Daash” organization including a leader in the organization called “Abu Aisha al-Shami”, a Syrian and destroyed two vehicles, one of them carrying a machine gun in al-Karma area in Fallujah city.

“The force has also killed Abu Ahmed al-Janobi who is considered the second leader in the organization on the level of Fallujah city,” the statement added.

Why is the election in Syria so important that U.S. government officials have condemned it before it takes place? Why, at the same time, have U.S. officials embraced and applauded the results of elections organized by the military coup government of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt and the election by the fascist coup forces of billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine?

In Egypt and Ukraine, the apparatus now in place overthrew the elected government, brutally repressed all opposition and organized the election as a rubber stamp of its seized authority. In both countries, millions responded by refusing to vote. Opposition forces were jailed, beaten, threatened and driven from any form of participation in the process.

In Egypt, the empty polling stations were so glaring, with estimates as low as 10 percent voter turnout, that General el-Sisi’s government frantically extended voting by a second day and then a third. A holiday was declared, free transportation was available to polling sites, and all who didn’t vote faced a heavy threat of a $70 fine — an extortionist charge for millions of the poorest Egyptians.

In Ukraine, despite millions of voters in eastern and southern Ukraine — the most densely populated urban areas of the country — the polling stations were also empty.

The boycott, millions strong, of the official election in both Egypt and Ukraine seriously undermined the dictatorships’ claims of broad support.

However, just two weeks before, a popular referendum for local autonomy in eastern and southern Ukraine was voted for by millions. This election was dismissed as illegitimate by Ukrainian officials and their U.S. backers.

A failed boycott

Rebel forces in Syria have also demanded a boycott of elections. They have threatened to enforce their boycott with mass terror at voting lines. But the massive outpouring of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and other countries to vote shows that the call for an election boycott has been overwhelmingly rejected.

Before the June 3 election day in Syria, the more than 3 million Syrians displaced outside of Syria by the U.S.-funded and -organized war aimed at regime change have made their views known in massive mobilizations.

In Lebanon, Beirut was paralyzed by the outpouring of tens of thousands of Syrians. According to reports in the Western corporate-owned media, such as the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC and Reuters, traffic stretched for miles, bumper to bumper, while tens of thousands walked for miles and stood all day in the broiling sun to cast their vote. Reports are that half a million of voting-age Syrians thronged to the polls holding pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and waving Syrian flags.

This massive outpouring is a stinging rebuke to the U.S. and European Union and their declarations that Syria has no right to hold an election because the country is in the midst of a civil war. The masses are combating a U.S.-EU-Saudi-funded insurgency that wants to install a government composed of reactionary militias and mercenaries.

Secretary of State John Kerry has labeled the election a farce. Washington is committed to redoubling its efforts at regime change through the Saudi absolute monarchy and other unelected kings, emirs and princes in Jordan, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

Around the world, citizens routinely vote in an election at the consulate or embassy of their home country. However, as further interference in the Syrian election, in the U.S., France, Germany, Belgium and United Arab Emirates, Syrians were denied the right to vote at their consulates and embassies. In New York City, Syrian Americans gathered in front of the United Nations to protest the U.S. denial of their right to vote.

Whose vote counts?

Despite its instigation of coups, support of military dictatorships and feudal monarchies around the world, and its own history of massive denial of voting to millions of African-American people, U.S. imperialism maintains its right and intention to intervene aggressively in the electoral political processes of other countries. It has established numerous bodies to monitor elections and rule on their fairness.

U.S. and European imperialists assert the right to measure the political process by totally arbitrary standards. They send in military officials, politicians and corporate-funded “human rights organizations” and nongovernmental organizations. While claiming to be impartial, the election monitoring process is a form of intrusive intervention and coercion.

Washington’s endorsement or condemnation of an election has no connection to the political process of the election itself. The same is true for the European imperialist powers where capitalist class rule has a “democratic” veneer. Corporate support and media coverage are based on the ruling class’ calculation of whether the results strengthen their domination or challenge it.

The participation in or rejection of an election by millions of people expressing their own aspirations is not the basis of their cynical calculation.

International delegations to Syria

Delegates from around the world have traveled to Syria to support Syria’s right to organize its own election and resist another imperialist regime change. These delegates from several Latin American countries and the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — represent the majority of the world’s people.

There are few secure places where large numbers of foreign guests can be housed in a war zone. Kidnappings for ransom, political exchanges, assassinations, suicides and bombings are a daily fact of life. That is a big weight on the government, and it is a big accomplishment if it can keep all the international delegates safe in the midst of organizing and securing hundreds of polling places and long lines of voters.

A delegation from the U.S., including a representative of the International Action Center, is participating as a way to show opposition to the imperialist attack on Syria.

These delegations are not in Syria to support or to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That is wholly up to the Syrian people to decide, free of outside intervention and sabotage. But it is important to be in solidarity not only with Syrians’ efforts to defend themselves with arms but with their right to hold an election.

Elections and resistance

The Syrian people have fought French imperialism, Israeli occupation and constant Zionist wars; defended, housed and educated hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and over 2 million Iraqi refugees; faced years of U.S. sanctions and sabotage; and now endured three years of non-stop war that has killed 150,000 Syrians.

President Assad is widely expected to sweep the election in Syria. It should be no surprise that the Syrian people are very likely to re-elect the man who led their country in battle against the terror that has displaced one-third of the ­population.

The vote for Assad might be seen as a vote for national cohesion against efforts at imperialist dismemberment and chaos. This is why the imperialists are so arrogantly demanding that Syria stop its election.

The vote in Syria is part of the Syrian people’s struggle to maintain their economic and political independence, free from terrorist insurgents and tens of thousands of mercenaries.

The votes in Egypt and Ukraine are part of the effort to extend U.S. domination.

The massive boycotts in Egypt and Ukraine and the enthusiastic turnout in Syria are signs that millions of people are determined to make their aspirations heard.

Who was Maidan Snipers’ Mastermind?

June 5th, 2014 by Adam Larson

First published by Oriental Review and Global Research on May 30, 2014

The probe into the Maidan “snipers problem” – by the new Ukrainian government underwritten by it – continues. On May 13, the fascinating interim findings were partly revealed, at a press conference called by parliamentary investigation head Gennady Moskal. Bullet forensics exonerated the previously blamed Berkut security force. Something in the findings also placed the unidentified shooters somewhere – unspecified – among “the ranks of the protesters.” It could even have been the EuroMaidan militants, he admitted, but MP Moskal thought infiltrators from the government’s security service SBU made more sense.

He predicted decades of debate with no resolution, and a week later he announced that a number of key documents were destroyed, complicating the search. But whatever led the investigators to this apparently dead-end admission, it seemed like a break in the script that put the snipers in areas secured by the government of then-president Viktor Yanukovych. For those following the details, the May 13 revelation seemed like a bit of realism creeping in.

But then the current Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council – Andriy Parubiy – stepped forward, hinting at a divergent probe delving further into fantasy. His investigation blames Russia and Vladimir Putin for the snipers, even though it was Parubiy – not Putin – who was supposed to secure the “EuroMaidan” where, the evidence increasingly says, the problem snipers operated.

Sniper Commandant?

Andriy Parubiy

Andriy Parubiy

While he insists he’s not a fascist, Andriy Parubiy co-founded the Nazi-inspired Social National party, now Svoboda, in the 1990s. Outwardly, he went mainstream early on, and joined Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, running security operations on the Maidan for the 2004 “Orange Revolution.”

In 2013-14’s more violent regime-change “protests,” he was given the same responsibility. As Euromaidan Commandant and head of the Self-Defense Committee, he was in charge of security for areas where the mob’s authority had overridden the government’s.

We now know (partly from MP Moskal) that – on the pivotal day of February 20, which will remain the main focus of this report – sniper shots first hit police forces, and came from buildings Parubiy controlled. Ukraine’s previous head of the Security Service (SBU) Alexander Yakimenko said so in March, after fleeing to Russia. When the Commandant proved unable to stop the sniping, which everyone claimed to be against, Yakimenko says he offered to send in a unit to help. He only needed a guarantee his men wouldn’t be shot by Parubiy’s, but he says that was denied. From all this, the SBU chief deduced the snipers were under Parubiy’s command and protection.

In truth, this failure to stop the killing could be due to malice, or incompetence, or some mix. Whatever the case, the resulting bloodshed was all but necessary for the Kiev Cabal to finally take over. And considering his eminent competence, they made Parubiy security chief for all of Ukraine as soon as they could.

Sniper Investigator?

Reports from early March, before the Yakimenko accusations, spoke of a parliamentary investigation Parubiy himself was selected to lead. The apparent conflict of interest may, or may not, be why MP Moskal now seems to be in charge of that.

But in a May 21 interview for Euractiv, Parubiy speaks of a probe that sounds different, a probe blaming Russian Special forces – Spetsnaz – for penetrating his security cordon.Asked about the snipers, with the note “you must have first-hand information,” he sidestepped his own direct knowledge and told Euractiv:

“Now that we are conducting investigations, we have found that 18 Spetsnaz, including snipers, were in Maidan. The investigation will reveal from which points they were shooting, but I can already say that they did everything they could to spill blood and provoke civil unrest.”

“We have a working hypothesis which would be confirmed or rejected by the investigation, that in the most difficult days they shot equally – at Berkut and at the Maidan activists. Their aim was to instigate a more violent civic unrest … that Russia could warm its hands at this fire.”

“We know that Russian snipers shot at both sides.”

As Washington’s Blog noted in March, “everyone agrees that the snipers were false flag terrorists sewing chaos and confusion. … they only disagree about who the responsible party is.” This is another example, and (as we’ll see) the worst theory yet. And just look at who is trying to feed it to us.

Master Thug

From February 18-20, security forces and civilians were, as Parubiy says, killed somewhat “equally” by these snipers to create “violent civic unrest.” But there was a telling pattern to how different parts of that were timed.

First, consider how ten unarmed policemen were shot dead the night of February 18th, forcing a decision to bring in armed security forces. That allowed later killings to be realistically blamed on them, as happened. (Were these the same provocateurs present a day and a half later, or a different shift?)

By the 20th, a force was assembled on the Maidan adequate to stomp the police out by noon and shoot the Berkut out of their nearest posts by 12:45. They even blocked the train bringing in the Army support, and readied to march up to the central government’s buildings and stomp whomever they wished. This force was under Parubiy’s leadership no later than his announcement early on the 21st that “all the leaders of the hundreds are declaring their consent to coordinated action, including the hundreds of the Right Sector … We’re in control of Kiev. We have seized control of the government quarter.”

It was only at that shift in power that Parubiy “Spetsnaz snipers” unleashed their main killing spree. On video and within bare minutes, they picked off at least 30 unarmed civilians sent in behind the Hotel Ukraine, to top off “Heaven’s Hundred.”That is, this un-ambiguous, unforgivable “Yanukovych crime” was delivered as soon as the natural punishment for it had been placed.

Commandant Parubiy, who oversaw the distribution and timing of much of that violence, couldn’t deny its pattern helped them, as he said to Euractiv, “oust Yanukovich.” That prompted the question:

Q: So you recognize that you ousted Yanukovich?

A: Yes. He ran away.

Q: But he ran away because he was afraid for his life?

A: Yes of course. After so many deaths and such national tension, he understood that if he didn’t run away, the personal consequences could be very bad. 

Under this plausible threat, the president fled. An 1:36 pm announcement from the Maidan ordered members of Parliament to meet at 3:00 to vote him out for good. They were given “a guarantee that the Parliament would not be stormed during the session.” The “hundreds” just snatched that option, but promised not to use it – unless maybe they were provoked by a wrong vote. In the end most of Parliament was willing to show up on the 22nd instead, and those agreed unanimously to impeach Yanukovych – and not be stomped. After all, Parubiy’s Maidan machine still controlled Kiev.

Confirming Yakimenko’s Charges

When he spoke on May 13, investigation head Gennady Moskal did not specify any sniper perches, just implied that they were behind the lines Parubiy was in charge of. By noon on the 20th, this had expanded to include at least the Maidan at large, the Trade Unions Hall (Maidan HQ), the Conservatory, and Hotel Ukraine. The October Palace and unknown other buildings fell into his hands just after noon.

Ukraine_shooting_directions_2

Former SBU chief Yakimenko said in March the first shots “came from the Philharmonic Hall,” probably meaning the (musical) Conservatory. After that, “many have witnessed 20 people leaving the building” with their sniper gear in bags. These “split into two groups – 10 men each.” One of these “took a position at the Ukraine hotel,” right next-door, and “the Security Service lost track” of the other sniper team.

Parubiy must know by now where the snipers were, but he doesn’t want to tell us yet. The probe “will reveal from which points they were shooting,” he promises.

Yakimenko said “no weapons could be brought to Maidan without Parubiy’s permission. Hand guns, rifles, scopes – he had to agree to all of that.”

In one report, Parubiy gave a rough count of those armed with handguns – about 100. But he said “those people are not ours, they are unorganized,” just like the snipers. “This is kind of a problem.” This when he also said “we created a headquarters in the Maidan and we will not tolerate any action without coordinating with it.”

As mentioned above, Yakimenko says he offered to help Parubiy flush out the gunmen, but was rebuffed. If true, that suggests either a criminal denial of his incompetence, or the commandant’s active approval of the killing.

The SBU chief has a 20-man sniper team in Parubiy’s turf. The man who would know might refer to the same group when he speaks of “18 Spetsnaz, including snipers.” Maybe 20 was a visual estimate, and the “Russians” split up into groups of nine?

One might expect Parubiy to be embarrassed that his own secured buildings were so infiltrated, but he puts the villains “in Maidan.” The original claims of February had the snipers in or on government-held buildings further southeast. Why can’t he just say that now? Why openly claim such a humiliating security breach unless the alternative is even worse?

Parubiy even claims he failed to stop the snipers on the way back out. After sneaking in and unleashing this mayhem, they walked away from the Maidan undetected, and “I think they escaped from Ukraine,” he told Euractiv.

But it was reported at the time that two snipers were caught by his teams, one at least in the Hotel Ukraine. At mid-day on the 20th, an official tweet said, “members of Maidan Self-Defense captured one of the snipers. He is currently in Maidan headquarters.”  But a different “Maidan commandant” – Stepan Kubiv – said he was just there and didn’t hear any such thing.  A message of the 21st said a “sniper was caught on the 10th floor of the Hotel Ukraina … Personality to be identified,” but it never was.  A later one heard that “maydan activists caught two snipers” total, but the source said nothing about their fate or identities.

If they were caught red-handed, why doesn’t Parubiy mention these snipers now? Did they even exist, outside these vague reports? Were they real, but managed to escape? Or did Parubiy order them released? The balance of reasons suggests the killers were under his command and protection, as Yakimenko said, and as the evidence always suggested.

Clearly Commandant Parubiy, of the February “Failures,” is not the best one to be speaking about the Maidan snipers. Expect the May interview to be his last word on that bloodshed.

Postscript: “Ensuring Peace and Safety”

In more promising areas, Andriy Parubiy remains the go-to guy. As the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, he’s now tasked with the brutal and confusing “anti–terrorist” operation in eastern Ukraine, and apparently in Odessa. This he wages with a “National Guard” that grew out of his murky Maidan machine, against those Ukrainians who dare to vote against the Kiev Cabal, pushing Ukraine deeper into civil war territory with violence he always blames on “Russian terrorists.”

Helping overturn two popular votes for Yanukovych, ensuring a third overthrow will never be needed, plus his new “security” work, has earned Parubiy friends in the “Democratic” West. He spoke to Euractiv while in Brussels, he said, “to participate in a session of the Ukraine-NATO working group” regarding the Russian “hybrid war” against Ukraine. As he explained it:

“When we speak about fighting terrorists, the best way is to find their centre of coordination, of financing. In this case, this centre is one person, it is Putin. That’s why I say – we have no crisis in Slavyansk, in Donetsk, in Luhansk. We have a crisis in Putin’s head. … if Putin succeeds in Ukraine, nobody can tell where his tanks will be tomorrow. … To stop Putin is not only Ukraine’s major goal. It should be the goal of the entire civilized world.”

In Parubiy’s dangerously unhinged thinking, even the massacre at the Trade Unions building in Odessa on May 2 “was a classic provocation in which pro-Russian groups had to seize the administration buildings in the same way it happened in Donetsk and Luhansk.” But this time, the anti-Putsch activists were clearly chased in, and followed in, by an ultra-nationalist lynch mob. He also contradicts himself by claiming the building was already “a kind of headquarters for the separatists,” where “the substance that provoked the blaze” was brought in by them “a long time ago.”

That’s why, he says, “when Molotov cocktails were thrown from the fourth floor at the participants of the Ukrainian rally, the substance inflamed” and an “explosion happened.”

Of course, on-site video and photos prove this was terrorism, and it seems the mob torched the building largely to hide their brutal murder of perhaps 272 citizens. That Parubiy was there to help coordinate it, after attending a top-level April 24 meeting to plan the Odessa “counter-terrorist” operation, makes it seem like state-sponsored terrorism.  A former deputy head of the Odessa police, now fled to Donetsk, blames Parubiy for personally organizing the massacre.  He was seen there on April 29th, delivering bulletproof vests to one Mykola Volkov – a criminal deputized as a “sotnik” (the term used for commanders of “hundreds” on the Maidan). Volkov was later seen shooting a pistol at the Trade Unions building, wearing a bulletproof vest, and phoning in a false story – possibly to Parubiy himself.

With Ukrainians all united but Moscow’s agents everywhere, the “security” chief told Euractiv, they needed an “overhaul” of “the entire security and defense sector,” and maybe civil society too, including “criminal groups” and “ethnic groups.”

The NATO allies had just heard the same and understood, promising “extensive support to the Ukrainian delegation” – including this false-flagging fascist thug – considering their “crucial role in ensuring peace and safety in Europe and the world.” Further, they “expressed readiness” to help in “reform” of the Parubiy’s defense and security sectors.

Events in Odessa, Maruipol, and elsewhere might have convinced the Cabal’s double-speaking Western allies that civil society “overhauls” are best left to Parubiy and his “Ukrainian rally” types.

First published in September 2013, this article documents the atrocities committed by the US-NATO sponsored terrorists. In the wake of the June 03 election, the record of who is behind these atrocities is of fundamental significance. 

Human Rights Gatekeepers Keeping the Gates

There is a new disinformation offensive over the Syrian al-Bayda massacre, an event I and the ACLOS (A Closer Look On Syria) research community recently studied intensively. Since being reported in the coastal Tartous province on May 2, the outside world is supposedly ignoring the massacre. But mainly, as explained partially below, they have been ignoring key details that implicate the multinational rebel forces, not the governemtn and its allies, in the crimes there.

This pattern of avoidance continues with a nauseatingly slick new propaganda piece by Channel 4 news: Al-Bayda: Anatomy of a War Crime (filmed, Produced and Directed by James Brabazon). [1] This uses Human Rights Watch Middle East director Nadim Houry, and fancy satellite effects, to sex up what’s really just unverified “activists say” reporting. Some claims are laundered by Houry, who repeats them as fact. This is not  investigative reporting, but another campaign to solidify a challenged rebel narrative, as was done in waves with the Houla massacre of May 2012. In that case, it has now been proven the challenging “government” version is after all the best fit with the available evidence, and it seems that a rebel massacre of horrifying audacity has gone unpunished. [2]

 This program comes just days after the UN Human Rights Commission released a report placing the blame for nine horrible massacres in Syria – one (Hatlah) pinned on rebels, eight on the people rebels blamed. Al-Bayda and its follow-up sister massacre in Ras al-Nabi’, Baniyas nearby are two on that short list of eight, Reuters reported. [3] There were about a dozen others left undecided and like a hundred not even considered.

 ”Anatomy of a War Crime,” and this article, focus strictly on the earlier al-Bayda half of these Baniyas massacres. The basic gist from Houry, paraphrased: regime forces clearly did the massacre because al-Bayda is a Sunni town and rebels are Sunni, and the Alawite and Christian loyalist towns surround ing it are full of people who could do this. The army admits entering the city by three axes, which “seems to indicate some sort of central decision,” and he’s pretty sure the massacres happened after that. Male bodies piled in the cell phone shop, he decided, were dead. To him, that seems like a big clue.

 An army operation, dead people, in a Sunni town, and the government denials are supposed to look pretty thin. They will be held to account, Houry promises, and B-roll footage glorifies his ability to jot down names I recognize and tape lots of things to the wall, like photos I can name the people in.

The video comes with a summary, apparently written by producer James Brabazon, which I’ll use as a template for a partial point-by-point refutation:

 ”While the investigation into the regime’s alleged use of nerve gas continues, the 2 May massacre in al-Bayda remains the single, most extensive verified act of the killing of civilians carried out by government forces since the war began.”

Oops! It’s actually not very clear at all who’s responsible, as we’ll see. As for the extent of it :

“The Syrian army had killed at least 169 civilians in four hours. The verified final death toll is likely to reach beyond 250.”

 The time span is a separate issue, as explained below, quite likely just made up. The death toll seems to be, broadly, 100-120, but it’s not really set. [4] The only list with about their number is the biggest we could find, with 165 entries, was published shortly after and contains numerous near-duplicate entries, re-mixed names and extra family members that appear in no other sources, etc. [5] 165 was the previous unsubstantiated high estimate among those backed by alleged names (there are higher tallies up to 400+ with no details at all). Channel 4 “verified the names” of a number just higher than that, and that becomes the starting point, the low-end number, with probably more than 250 really killed, or likely twice this minimum or maybe even 400+. This is unsound methodology, designed to maximize the moral outrage at the expense of reliability.

 ”[al-Bayda] was a predominantly Sunni village … The Syrian government didn’t consider al-Bayda to be a threat.”

 This as close as they get to explaining any reason that specific people were targeted, please note. It was a Sunni town, and random Sunni people within it were chosen just for that, presumably – not for any threat, their politics, or anything. Racism and regime evil alone are to blame, HRW and the activists claim.

 The alternate explanation, considering no motive past those stupid ones, is that maybe the government’s forces didn’t do it. Civilians were clearly massacred, but maybe someone else who wants to make the regime look bad did it for them. I’m not saying Nadim Houry had a hand in killing these people. I trace it further back, to his ultimate information sources about a crime he may be helping them both obscure and fob off for geopolitical utility.

Loyalist Victims : the Biassi and Related Families

Completely ignored in this “anatomy” is they key feature that from within al-Bayda, it seems government loyalist Sunnis were singled out. The vast majority have political views that are simply unknown, with no proven rebel activism shown for anyone.

There’s only one victim whose views and mind are known – the most prominent martyr, Sheikh Omar Biassi, the 63-year-old imam of the city’s main mosque (or perhaps retired). His photo is shown in the video (doctored with the Syrian flag, 12:45) but he is never named or mentioned therein. All sources on both sides who mention the man at all agree he supported the government, and has been documented calling for interfaith dialog, national unity, and a settlement of the conflict, led by the “captain of the ship” Bashar al-Assad. [6]

Authorities were not threatened by the pro-government imam, but rebels presumably at least didn’t like the guy. On April 3 in his safe province of Tartous, an Omar Biassi posted a comment calling for the death, if needed, of all “traitors.,” his patience having worn through. [6] One month later, he and his family were wiped out instead. A reported 36 members of the Biassi family were killed on May 2; at least two dozen with his name appear on lists, and through apparent intermarriage, dozens of others (families Fattouh, Al-Shoghri, Qaddour, Hamouda) are also related. In fact, about half of those listed are demonstratably linked to this one man, who might have just pissed off the rebels in his area. The rest could also be linked and it’s just not clear yet.

 Sheikh Biassi would be neither the first nor the last pro-government Sunni cleric singled out, presumably by rebels, for breaking their poorly-written script where all Sunnis reject the regime. Consider top Sunni scholar Dr. Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, killed March 21 in Damascus, Sheikh Abdullatif al-Jumaili in Aleppo, February 8, and Hassan Seifaddine, beheaded in Sheikh Maqsoud Aleppo, March 30. [7]

 There is some further complexity, however, in this case. As Brabazon wrote:

“In May, 2011 [authorities] rounded up all the men in the village square and beat many of them up.”

 In mid-April 2011, rather, authorities rounded up about 100 of the men for suspected anti-government activity, and beat up/stomped on some of them. Members of Imam Biassi’s family were prominent among them, as well as other family names that would appear as losing members in the massacre. [8]

As damning as that might sound, each family had its factions. Omar Biassi sided with the president, while an “Abu Ali Biassi” was allegedly the defense minister of a planned Islamic emirate in Baniyas,* with weapons secured from Lebanese helpers, and power stations slated for destruction. In December, 2011, more Biassis were arrested after some one  set Sheikh Omar’s car on fire.  [6] As for which camp the 2013 massacre victims belonged to, Omar himself is our only clear benchmark.

* (side-note: The planned emir of that was Sheikh Anas Ayrout from Baniyas, now an Islamist member of the Syrian National Coalition, in July 2013 urging a “balance of terror” against Syria’s Alawite civilian population which fed the horrific Latakia massacres in August) [9].

Obscuring Rebel Capabilities

There was no FSA or opposition military presence at all, Barbazon heard, and other sources have spoken of a nominal to non-existent rebel force varying between zero and 14 members, on which they had just symbolically declared al-Bayda “liberated.” [10] This is important for two reasons : it leaves no real provocation possible for the Army offensive, and also rules out a massacre by the rebel side, which would require some kind of force.

“The only function that al-Bayda played for the opposition was to help smuggle out individual deserting government soldiers who’d run away from their bases on the coast and were trying to reach rebel-held territory.”

 ”Regime forces came and went as they pleased. No-one attacked them,” the report adds, which was seemingly true through 2012 and 2013, at least until the end of April, when a colonel was assassinated, a checkpoint was attacked, security was tightened, there was a small raid with a few arrests in al-Bayda on May 1. [11] That night and into the morning, events are not clear. The next day, after the major assault, the government showed on video a large cache of weapons including RPGs and machine guns, seized in what they considered their raid on a fully functioning cell. [12] That was first jabbed lightly on May 1, perhaps underestimating it, which may have stirred the hornet’s nest for some stinging that night.

As for the help to “individual deserting government soldiers,” not organized armed groups of Islamist defectors or foreigners: Early on May 2 security men came to arrest “a group of three (individual ?) Syrian army deserters who were being hidden in the outskirts of the village” but remained armed and resisted. Only then did about a dozen lightly-armed locals improvise a militia to aid the soldiers, and together they did manage to defeat the Shabiha and leave them burning in their trucks.

This was reported from the beginning: some 30-40 alleged attackers of the National Defense Forces or “Shabiha” came around 4 am or earlier ; they were ambushed by some rebel force, reports on both sides said, with 6-8 killed, some 20-30 others injured and perhaps captured, or even executed and mixed into the man-heavy death toll. Even the few acknowledged as killed  are not acknowledged anywhere in a death listing or any rebel video, at least not as themselves. [13]

So as evidence there was no rebel presence, nothing worth attacking, and nothing capable of its own false flag massacre, we have an allegedly desperate start to a battle. And as always reported, the rebel forces in al-Bayda soundly won it, in the pre-dawn hours of May 2. That is actually further counter-evidence against the crucial claim, and rebel weaponry remains a viable explanation for any violence at that time, if it cannot be proven as something else.

Timeline Clues : Massacre Before the Army Arrived

“At seven in the morning of 2 May this year, Syrian government forces entered the village … At 1.30pm the killing began.”

 In the pre-dawn dark, of May 2, the evidence suggests, the women and children victims at least were already dead and being filmed by rebel cameras, hours before the army entered. Nadim Houry is careful to dispel this possibility; at 3 :00 in the video he explains as fact “all the civilians died after 1 :30, when the armed groups, security forces, the army, these paramilitary groups, proceeded to go house to house in the village.” [1] Clearly he’s relying on what people have told him, and it can hardly be verified by any research.

A wide range of sources suggests the Army’s artillery offensive, not invasion, started around 7 :00 am, and boots in the city only came later than this. The pre-attack started, logically, just after sunrise (about 6 :45 local time that day). So anything filmed on May 2 but before sunrise, clearly, is solidly before the army entered, with the daylight hours after increasingly contested.

 Two crime scenes or victims at least are shown twice – once in the dark and once in the light – where it can be established the light scene is later. This means there was a period flanking dawn where opposition activists enjoyed relaxed access to these crime scenes. [14] Video release dates do not prove anything but no-later-than, and they do fail to prove an early May 1 massacre. Coming out only on May 3, 4, and 5, technically they allow more mornings when each could have been filmed. [15] But this is apparently a delayed release problem (see below)

Reports by the end of May 2 strengthen this. With only the one night-dawn span preceding it to discover, film, and count bodies, it was reported that “regime forces executed 200 people.” That was at 9 :07 pm on the 2nd as I found, perhaps in error – it might be 8:07. It was known that “50 martyrs, mostly women and children, were slaughtered with knives” by 8:01/7:01 pm. “Slaughter knives” in use were already mentioned at 6:15/5:15 pm. [16]

All of these are no-later than times for any real knowledge. The best time to start announcing a known tally from the morning is in the evening, after the army has taken charge and could be blamed. How they could actually gather such intelligence in that climate and with such speed is not clear. It is technically possible, but having the information already would explain this rapidly-evolving record even better. Houry notes the rapidity of the killing reports after 1 :30 as a sign of premeditation by the regime – they jumped right to it. Rather, the eager appearance of knowledge might suggest much worse on the other side.

According to the video release timeline, activists generally took days to get any video of the sites with women and children. In Channel 4’s program, Hassan says he filmed his video of the 20 women and girls (see below) around 10 PM on the 2nd, but for whatever reason, it was held back until 2 :45/1 :45 am on the 4th, when the first postings appeared online. [15] Chances are high it was filmed about 18 hours earlier than he says, and the others too were also delayed, however long after being filmed early on the 2nd or even late on the 1st. 

 The Victims in Mustafa’s House

“In the house of Mustafa Biyasi, 30 women and children were herded into one room and then executed – shot at point blank.”

 In the video, Hassan refers to the home of  ”Abu Ali Mustafa, family Biassi.” He shows the dark video of the main massacre scene, which he says was filmed at 10 PM, in his own neighborhood. It’s said the victims were shot at close range, but some display prominent blade slices, and the frequent holes in throats could actually have been poked, alike throat-slicing but less obviously Islamist. (An oddity : there’s little blood visible on the victims, despite the sometimes horrific wounds – this is worth more scrutiny).

 Previously, I had found reports of a “Mustafa Ali Biassi,” politics unknown but aged near 50, who was reported arrested  by 6 :46 pm local on May 1, as rebels began various operations in the area and security forces started a crackdown. [11] It wasn’t clear who arrested him, but, then – perhaps that night – came the massacres with so many family members snuffed out, as it seems, largely inside his house (app.100 meters west of the mosque, the video’s map says). Aisha Biassi, named on-screen with a baby in red not named, must (allegedly) be Aisha Qaddour, wife Mohammed Mustafa Ali Biasi, also killed, per the big list. [5] Two baby boys are listed after: Ali Mustafa Ali, and Mohammed Mustafa Ali (plus two more possible children – an unnamed daughter and a blank entry). [5]

 Others here might be misidentified; five children, all seemingly girls by the colorful, ruffled dresses they wear, are panned over as only three names are shown: Afnan, Sarah, and Abdullah Biyasi. Sarah is one of three Fattouh-Biassa sisters (the others not named) from Safaa Ali Biassi, married to Abdullah Fattouh. [17] She’s named here as the pregnant woman with a hole in her jaw. The baby, I thought a girl, is said to be her little boy Hamza and could be. Sarah as named is apparently in red, holding Afnan in purple (who I missed in earlier scans). Aged 3, she’s apparently from a different family. This girl’s neck seems hacked badly, details mercifully unclear. Which dress-wearing child is supposed to be Sarah’s brother Abdullah is unclear. Otherwise, with the exception of the baby in red, there are no males in this room. Sex segregation is consistent with either version of the massacre, of course.

Corpses as Props

“Saffa Biyasi cuddled her baby boy, Hamza Biyasi. They lay dead next to each other, serene despite their injuries. Afnan Biyasi and another small child spooned each other on the bed they were shot on, perhaps holding each other for comfort in the last moments before the bullets ripped through their tiny bodies.”

This is unlikely. Bodies were extensively managed by rebels at these crime scenes they enjoyed relaxed access to. At least two clear examples are detailed by ACLOS analysis.

 Someone in the opposition network filmed teenage Ahmad Othman in the pre-dawn dark, apparently where he was killed, in his home with other men. Then he was filmed again in daylight “executed in the street,” as it seemed, at the base of a wall smeared with his blood. It looked as if he was shot and slumped there or, since he was killed elsewhere, like he was tossed against the wall for such an effect. [18]

 Consider also the bedroom scene of a mother apparently died while shielding two of her children with her splayed body. This was seen in two videos where the children (a thoroughly brutalized and bloodied child of around eight, and a baby with only a foot visible) are arranged differently for no clear reason. She had to be lifted up then laid back on top of them for that. Quite likely, the original dramatic pose was staged for just this emotional effect. [19]

Babies seeming to be hugging each other as the bullets tore into them are probably the same type of engineered heart-string tuggings, by twisted people playing with props that used to be Human Beings.

 Witnesses to Slaughter?

“At least one young boy, Luqman al-Hiris, was beheaded – in front of his mother.”

This boy is apparently part of those killed “in the town square,” here explained and shown as the sloping street near the mosque, where ACLOS has placed the “curbside victims” [20] None of those 13 men and boys was visibly beheaded. They know this boy was killed in front of his mother because old woman Um Mohammed witnessed it, from some hiding spot we presume. She says he was the youngest, and one boy has a large torn-out hole in his neck/jaw, but that’s not the same, and most likely a bullet exit wound.

The mentioned family name just barely appears in the previous record. If al-Hiris is the same as Alhris, it appears on the big list of 165, attached to two men – Mohammed Ali and Ali Mohammed, and no one else. There’s no Luqman, and no mother. The opposition CDV entries are lacking for any such name in Arabic or identifiable transliterations. [21]

Another victim, a pregnant woman, was reportedly sliced open to kill the fetus inside. This horrible allegation comes from previous reports – a rebel from Baniyas saw the aftermath – and a photo of an unborn fetus, wrapped in white and said to be a martyr in al-Bayda. This alleged surgery must have happened after she was filmed pregnant and intact by rebels, if she’s the one called Safaa here. That may not be the case, but there can’t be many pregnant women expected from such a small pool of the populace. [22]

Anyway, if there was beheading involved, as alleged here, that would add to the existing picture of bladed Islamo-nihilists, inscribing their bleak world view into the flesh of those caught in their path. There’s also Sara, a 12-year-old girl who survived somehow, probably by hiding. She says she later found the body of her tortured and murdered father, throat sliced. Again, this is a crime we haven’t seen clearly in the visual record, but there are the pierced throats of the woman and children at least.

That seems to be Sara at the start of the video rattling off a list of memorized names of massacre victims. With unusual sophistication, she calls for intervention by the outside world: “”They have slaughtered all of us … The world should pay attention about what is happening in al-Bayda. Why is everyone asleep? Why don’t they do something?” This is extremely reminiscent of Ali al-Sayed, an 11-year-old miracle survivor of the infamous false-flag Houla massacre a year before. He also had some names memorized, but switched them from one relative to another, along with all relevant details of his shifting story. He was clearer in his “demand that the international community stop the killing in Syria & in Houla …  We’re being killed in our homes. The international community … must fight for us, do what they say, and protect us.” [23]

 Enough Silence!

(from the video, 10 :25) “The Syrian Government denies any massacre took place.”

 That’s not true. First, loyalist sources – not government ones – have been clear about there being some scale of civilian massacre. One told Voice of Russia “the military offensive” blamed for the killings “was started in response to the brutal assassination of Sheikh Omar Baniyasi [sic].” [24]  All the clues for massacres in the night of May 1-2 are consistent with this. But perhaps to avoid panicking the people there, or for whatever reason one might imagine, the government itself has been pretty quiet. SANA and government sources have said little to nothing about civilian massacres one way or the other, only speaking of chasing out terrorists and restoring order. The claim that their forces only killed terrorists is not a claim that there were no civilian killings – just any such thing was not done by the army or its allies.

 While the government’s relative silence is taken as a sign of guilt, everyone else has been allegedly silent, evidencing moral weakness, this emotive propaganda would leave us feeling. As Sara said, “the world should pay attention about what is happening in al-Bayda.” I’ll second that, while adding that it should be close and critical attention, as if the real truth mattered,  regardless of what the gatekeepers have decided, as if human lives were on the line and mattered more than the goals of the destroy-Syria-and-Iran camp of the “World Community” and its deadly “Human Rights” weapons. 

Notes :

[1] “Al-Bayda: Anatomy of a War Crime.” Filmed, Produced and Directed by James Brabazon, Channel 4 News, September 13, 2013. http://www.channel4.com/news/syria-al-bayda-massacre-war-crime-video

[2] “Syria : One Year After the Houla Massacre. New Report on Official vs. Real Truth.” (by the author) Global Research, May 18, 2013. http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-one-year-after-the-houla-massacre-new-report-on-official-vs-real-truth/5335562

[3] “Syrian forces responsible for Banias massacres: U.N. report.” By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, September 11, 2013.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/11/us-syria-crisis-warcrimes-idUSBRE98A0D520130911

[4] ACLOS, death toll : http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Death_Toll

[5] ACLOS, Arab Worlds List :

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Arab_Worlds

[6] “Targetting Specific Communities in the Syrian Conflict: case study, the Baniyas massacres.” (by the author) http://ciwclibya.org/syria/specificcommunites.html

[7] ACLOS, attacks on clergy: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Attacks_on_Clergy_in_the_Syrian_Conflict#Sunni_Muslim

[8] ACLOS, April, 2011 roundup : http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#April_14.2C_2011_roundup

[9] ACLOS, Ayrout, Latakia Massacres:

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Sheikh_Anas_Ayrout

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Latakia_Massacres

[10] ACLOS, Like, no rebels : http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Like.2C_No_Rebels

[11] ACLOS , the final days : http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#The_Final_Days

[12] Terrorists Killed, Weapons Seized in Banias Villages Syrian Arab News Agency, May 2, 2013. http://sana.sy/eng/337/2013/05/02/480277.htm

[13] ACLOS, early clashes, where are the Shabiha ? http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Early_Clashes

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Where_are_the_Shabiha.3F

[14] ACLOS, night-mornin sequences :

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Night-Morning_Sequences

[15] ACLOS, imagery timeline :

 http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Imagery_Timeline

[16] ACLOS, reports timeline: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Reports_Timeline

[17] ACLOS, Fattouh sub-family: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Fattouh_Sub-Family

[18] ACLOS, Othman family: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Othman_Family.3F

[19] ACLOS, A Domestic Scene: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#A_Domestic_Scene

[20] ACLOS, curbside victims: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#The_Curbside_victims

[21] ACLOS, Alhris : http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Alhris

[22] ACLOS, Another Domestic Scene : http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Al-Bayda_Massacre#Another_Domestic_Scene

[23] “Fight for Us” And Other Things Ali Said: Houla Massacre Star Witness

Reconsidered (by the author) Article 3 in this PDF report: http://ciwclibya.org/images/Houla_Truth_Impunity_Final.pdf

[24] In Baniyas is peaceful and calm – witness Voice of Russia, May 4, 2013. http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_05_04/214684802/Situation

 

 

 

We discuss the outcome of the Elections with Michel Chossudovsky, he’s director at the Center for Research on Globalization.

 

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June 4th, 2014 by Global Research News

Testemunho, por telefone, de uma amiga de infância em Alepo, Síria.

Segunda-feira, 2 de junho de 2014 : Sim, os presentes envenenados continuam a cair do céu, agora mais frequentemente, mas nós ainda não explodimos voltando ao ventre da terra. Sim, como que por um milagre nós ainda continuamos inteiros, se bem que poucos dos bairros de Alepo, e suas redondezas, tenham sido poupados. Depois de Midane, Mayssaloun, Jabriyê e Mogambo… muitos outros bairros foram para a frente da mira das armas dos engenheiros “da oposição moderada” encantados pela demo-crassie a descargas de canhão! [crassie sendo sujeira, lixo]

Olhe de vez em quando no Facebook. Você verá que não há falta das famosas armas “não letais” de Hollande, Obama e Cameron, e de todos os satanáses democratas desse planeta, para nos matar, através de sortimentos de fogos pequenos, dia e noite! Eles chamam a isso de “os canhões do inferno”…

Olhe bem, parece que eles põem a carga [a mim me parecem bujões de gás!] associada com as armações de ferro até conseguir aumentar a sua capacidade de ação. Sómente ontem tivemos 23 mortos e dezenas de feridos, na parte do oeste, e aqui já nem estou falando de destruições materiais. Ouvi que eles agora estão bem instalados nos pontos mais altos de Bani Zayd, e que de lá eles podem se divertir a vontade! Note bem, Erdogan não está descansando. Você já entendeu que ele se decidiu a nos fazer morrer de sede matando-nos, de maniera ainda mais eficaz que os terroristas nos policiando, através de cortar a água vindo do Eufrates [1] ? Ah! Como é bela essa Europa que manipula através do jogo “Te amo, mas vá ver se estou lá na esquina, benzinho, vai lá…” !

Hoje, pela primeira vez depois de muito tempo as ruas estão vazias e sem gente, sendo que nos dias anteriores tudo estava como que surrealista. De um lado tinha-se alegria, bandeiras e buzinas dos automóveis, assim como cartazes patriotas com figuras dos sírios vivendo no estrangeiro, os quais votaram massivamente por amor a nossa pátria, para grande prejuizo dos nossos inimigos. Mas pelo outro lado se tinha a desolação, as sirenes, e a imensa dor daqueles que por um acaso a desgraça escolheu de marcar mais duramente que os outros, uns através de matá-los, outros através de tirar a vida de seus entes queridos. Não sei se você compreende, mas isso continua… e não está muito longe de nós.

Mais do que nunca eles tentam nos intimidar agora, como se as pessoas de Alepo não soubessem quem é essa pretendida “oposição moderada“, como se as pessoas não tivessem visto, com seus próprios olhos, ospor assim dizer, ASL [Exército Sionista Livre] ,em pacto com os terroristas, para nos mostrar as estrelas do meio dia, assim como se DAECH [EIIL : Emirado Islâmico do Iraque e do Levante] ainda nem mesmo tivesse nascido!

Mais do que nunca eles tentam nos arrancar com todas as raizes, como se eles ainda não tivessem galopado suficientemente nas costas dos refugiados da Síria, que eles mesmos dispersaram, para aperfeiçoar essa sua sinistra conspiração, assim como para tentar nos humilhar. E aqui tem-se que o governo libanês se mete ele também a decretar, na ocasião das eleições presidenciais, a proibição de retorno para todos os refugiados sírios que tiverem estado na Síria a partit do 1º- de junho do corrente [2]… Então, você agora talvez possa compreender quando eu não paro de repetir : nós ficaremos aqui, na nossa casa, e aqui continuaremos a estar, mortos ou vivos!

FOTO/ SÍMBOLO E TEXTO EM ÁRABE

Você já ouviu falar da última? De perfeito acordo com as democracias ocidentais sobre a pretendida “ilegitimidade das eleições da Síria”, os terroristas abaixo de suas bandeiras negras, vieram a declarar Damasco como “zona militar”, por todo o tempo da duração das eleições [3] e que todos os centros eleitorais serão considerados como alvos legítimos ! Não é nem necessário dizer que isso nós já sabemos o que significa. Agora ainda resta a saber se nós seremos enquadrados abaixo do mesmo, ou se teremos o direito a armas as mais sofisticadas, e “menos letais” vindas da França, dos Estados Unidos, de Israel, da Líbia e da Ucrânia, via Jordânia, esse querido país irmão…

Mas tranquilize-se, nós tomamos as coisas da maneira como elas se apresentam. Nós já preparamos nossos testamentos, e as nossas carteiras de identidade, para ir votar, bem cedo, amanhã de manhã. Nós não precisamos ir muito longe. Foi instalado um local de votação na nossa rua. Teremos sorte ou azar? Você, de certeza, o ficará sabendo logo.

Mouna Alno-Nakhai

02/06/2014

Terça-feira, 3 de junho de 2014, 11h.

 

O telefone toca novamente : eu tenho sorte de ter uma linha assegurada… sem essa eu não poderia lhe telefonar…É difícil de näo se cair no desespero de quando vendo Alepo “se deslocando/quebrando”… Eu näo encontro uma outra palavra. Até onde eles irão, e até quando conseguiremos resistir? Quem se interessa pela nossa sorte? Quem saberá o que nos estará a chegar? Eu ouvi as noticias… quase que nada sobre a nossa situação real!

Ontem, por volta das cinco da tarde, logo depois de nos termos falado no telefone, toda a cidade começou a estremecer de novo. Dessa vez a explosão veio dos subterrâneos do bairro al-Midane…Ele merece o nome que tem, porque é a “arena” das agressões, as mais violentas, contra os civís culpados de não se curvar frente a coalisão de todos os criminosos histéricos, disfarçados de democratas…É a mesma coisa para o bairro Sleimaniyê, e aquele do hospital al-Razi…um pesadelo terrífico no qual  “eles “ nos afundam dia após dia!

Depois da calma muito relativa desse fim de noite, as bombas de gás começaram como que a chover de todos os lados. “Eles nos haviam prometido 2000 desses “presentes”. A força aérea bem que apareceu nos céus, mas por não mais de poucos segundos. Como poderia essa conseguir distinguir entre os combatentes e a população, uma vez que esses combatentes estão por todos os lugares e entre tudo o mais, enquanto as pessoas se refugiam nas caves e abaixo das escadas dos imoveis já tombados?

É um delúgio de “canhões do inferno” desde as sete horas dessa manhã. Ouça…ouça as sirenes das ambulâncias! Veja, você compreende, duas explosões bem aqui perto de onde estou. Como isso é simples! Como é engenhoso! Toda essa resistência, todos os sucessos militares do nosso exército, e nós a mercê desses bombardeamentos ilegais!

Ah! tinha esquecido, auge dos auges, a eletricidade e a água estäo cortadas de novo. E agora essa também. Meu marido acabou de chegar do lado do que resta do hospital. Ele me descreveu o horror dessa guerra de bandos sanguinários, apoiados por outros bandos de paletó e gravata, sobre a impunidade desses que carregando as cores da ONU, da Casa “Negra”, sem que nos esqueçamos dos palácios da União Européia, e dos Champs Élysée… Com a “Cruz Vermelha” o meu marido ajuda o tanto quanto pode. Mas como confortar os feridos, esvaindo-se em sangue e amontoados, as dezenas, entre os muros, ainda em pé, de certos de nossos hospitais? Como melhorar os ferimentos físicos e morais de uns que estão em estado de choque e de outros gritando pelos seus filhos, ou pais que perderam a vida? Como enterrar, para não dizer “estocar” os cadáveres dos que nunca mais poderão dizer qualquer coisa outra, além de que nós lhes devemos o não ceder, e de ir ao mais próximo local de votações, apesar de tudo?

Não, eu ainda não fui votar. Estou esperando pelo meu marido. Se eu tenho medo? Seria mentir se eu lhe dissesse que sou zen-budista. Me sinto mal do estômago e da garganta…Será certamente a raiva aumentando. De onde me encontro vejo o local das eleições. Além dos militares, de aparência imperturbável, eu não vejo ninguém, nenhum civil…Irão eles ganhar a luta? Terão eles nos derrotado?

Antes de desligar. eu quero que você veja a foto que a nossa amiga…colocou em seu Facebook… a respeito do que se passa frente a sua casa. Você pode ver o estrago causado por um só desses projéteis do inferno? De qualquer maneira ela foi votar! Quantos terão essa coragem? Eu vou lhe telefonar depois das 19h para lhe dizer como foi. Eu vou telefonar, se ainda estiver nesse mundo…

“Creio que não pararei de rezar daqui até lá! E você, ainda sabe rezar? “

Mouna Alno-Nakhal

03/06/2014

 

Notas:

[1] Les eaux potables de la discorde

http://www.letemps.ch/Page/Uuid/50d3fd62-5119-11e2-8673-87da6709989d%7C2

[2] Zohbi : La décision de Machnouk est destinée à empêcher les Syriens de voter

http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/869841/zohbi-la-decision-de-machnouk-est-destinee-a-empecher-les-syriens-de-voter.html

[3] Traduction du communiqué « militaire » des opposants modérés :

En-tête sous bannière noire : Chambre des opérations – Damas – Notre décision est le fait de l’Oumma.

Au nom de Dieu le très miséricordieux,

Dieu n’avait fait cela que pour vous apporter une bonne nouvelle et qu’avec cela vos cœurs se rassurent, car la victoire ne vient que de Lui, le très vénéré et le très sage.

_________________________________________________

Informação Militar

A Câmara Operativa de Damasco informa o que segue:

1. A segunda etapa da batalha contra os Kabt al-Khaibine (os perdedores) já começou

2. Damasco é uma zona militar durante todo o periodo eleitoral, que se desenrola apesar do sangue e das destruição.

3. Todos os nossos parentes prisioneiros de Damasco deverão manter-se dentro de suas casas durante todo o período eleitoral

4. Todos os centros eleitorais são alvos legítimos para nós

Damasco em 1 de junho de 2014 [3/Chaabane/1430h]

Copyright © 2014 Mondialisation.ca

 

 Traduzido por Anna Malm, artigospoliticos.wordpress.com, para Mondialisation.ca

O regime de Kiev não é “oficialmente” um governo neo-nazi

June 4th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Há “ultra-conservadores” no governo de Kiev mas “eles não são neo-nazis”. Segundo os media do ocidente, é tudo parte de “uma implacável ofensiva de propaganda do Kremlin que utiliza expressões e imagens da II Guerra Mundial”.

Os media alternativos, contudo, têm reconhecido que o regime de Kiev é “uma coligação frouxa de centro-direita” integrada por dois partidos neo-nazis (Svoboda e Right Sector) “mas não é um governo neo-nazi”. Tanto o Svoboda como o Right Sector exibem emblemas nazis.

Será ela uma coligação frouxa? Se um governo exibe oficialmente emblemas nazis será que isso não sugere que o governo está comprometido com a ideologia nazi?

Quando o regime de Kiev exibe “oficialmente” emblemas nazis para identificar entidades do seu aparelho de segurança nacional e militar qualquer um normalmente supõe que seja de um governo neo-nazi. 

Abaixo está o emblema nazi da Guarda Nacional, a qual é definida como Reservas das Forças Armadas Ucranianas. Elas operam sob a jurisdição do Ministério da Administração Interna. A Guarda Nacional faz parte das chamadas “Tropas internas da Ucrânia”. O emblema é uma suástica estilizada (ver abaixo).

Imagine o que aconteceria se a National Guard dos EUA exibisse símbolos como a suástica.

É significativo que a Guarda Nacional da Ucrânia seja financiada directamente pela administração Obama, tendo em vista proteger o estilo de democracia americana na Ucrânia.

O público americano desconhece que o governo dos EUA está a canalizar apoio financeiro, armas e treino a uma entidade neo-nazi.

Ninguém na América sabe acerca disto porque as palavras neo-nazi e fascista são um tabu em relação à Ucrânia. Eles excluíram-nas do léxico da reportagem de investigação.

Outra entidade – que faz parte da Guarda Nacional da Ucrânia – é o Batalhão Azov . O Batalhão Azov – que ostenta o emblema nazi da SS (ver imagem) – é descrito pelo regime de Kiev como “um batalhão voluntário de defesa territorial”. É um batalhão da Guarda Nacional sob a jurisdição do Ministério da Administração Interna. Baseado oficialmente em Berdyank, no Mar de Azov, foi formado pelo regime para combater a oposição insurgente na Ucrânia do Leste e do Sul. É também financiado pela administração dos EUA.

Esta milícia que porta o emblema SS nazi é patrocinada pelo Ministério da Administração Interna da Ucrânia, o equivalente ao Department of Homeland Security dos EUA.

É tudo para uma boa causa. A democracia está no fim do jogo.

Segundo o New York Times, “Os Estados Unidos e a União Europeia abraçaram a revolução aqui como outra “florescência de democracia, um golpe no autoritarismo e na cleptocracia no interior do antigo espaço soviético”. (NYTimes.com , March 1, 2014).

Não é preciso dizer que o “apoio” à formação de uma governo na Ucrânia com “tendências neo-nazis” de modo algum implica o desenvolvimento de “tendências fascistas” dentro da Casa Branca, do Departamento de Estado e do Congresso dos EUA.

Imagens seleccionadas de “combatentes da liberdade” do Batalhão Azov:
 

     
     
     
     
     
Fonte das imagens: news.pn/en/public/104475
O original encontra-se em www.globalresearch.ca/…

Este artigo foi traduzido em português por http://resistir.info/ 

Fighting Lies and Searching for Truths

June 4th, 2014 by Global Research

The world is globalizing and information has become more accessible to more people than ever before. We are, indeed, in unprecedented times, and we face unprecedented challenges.

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The Partnership for Civil Justice (a public interest legal organization which the Washington Post called “the constitutional sheriffs for a new protest generation”) reported this week that the Obama administration treated a peaceful boycott as a terrorist threat:

4,000 pages [of documents] obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund [through Freedom of Information Act requests] reveal that Fusion Centers and their personnel even conflate their anti-terrorism mission with a need for intelligence gathering on a possible consumer boycott during the holiday season. There are multiple documents from across the country referencing concerns about negative impacts on retail sales.

The Executive Director of the Intelligence Fusion Division, also the Joint Terrorism Task Force Director, for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department circulated a 30-page report tracking the Occupy Movement in towns and cities across the country created by the trade association the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

He directed that the recipients of the document, who included top staff at the Washington, D.C. Fusion Center, “develop a one page product that we can send to our District Commanders to make them aware of the potential threat.”

DC Fusion Center Circulating International Retailers Report - 1
The Executive Director of the Intelligence Fusion Division, also the Joint Terrorism Task Force Director, for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department instructs D.C Fusion Center regarding the “potential threat” of the Black Friday BoycottRetailers Association Report - pg8
Page 7 of an International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) report on Occupy’s planned Black Friday Boycott, circulated through counter-terrorism officialsRetailers Association Report - pg19
Page 18 of an International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) report on Occupy’s planned Black Friday Boycott, circulated through counter-terrorism officials

The ICSC report detailing Occupy Black Friday “threats” includes images of “Sample Anti-Black Friday Icons and Posters” with slogans urging people to “buy local” or “do your shopping at a small independent merchant.” The report identifies among “Specific Known Threats” “buy nothing day tactics which might be used by Occupy and other protesters” including credit card cut ups, free non-commercial street parties, and alternative mass green transport activities.

Additional “Specific Known Threats” in the report are identified by individual Occupy locations from Occupy Bee Cave, Texas (“Assessment … Aim: to educate how military spending has affected the economy – consistent with anti-war agenda of the group”) to Occupy Seattle (“Assessment … leafleting likely in order to draw attention”).

The intelligence reporting and communications apparatus was in full throttle over potential Occupy Black Friday boycotts. One sample document issued from the Baltimore police shows a distribution list ranging from the Maryland Fusion Center, the FBI, the DHS, the Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network, the Secret Service, the NYPD and other city and state law enforcement, the manager of corporate security for an energy company, university personnel, and the Federal Reserve.

The “counter-terrorism” documents contain multiple references to Black Friday boycotts as well as potential negative impacts on retails sales.

PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard stated: “It is outrageous that counter-terrorism officials used their anti-terrorism authority and funding to “protect” corporate America from a consumer boycott. It is well past time that the vast flow of tax-payer money to the Fusion Centers be ended.”

Watch this must-see interview for context:

In fact – through both word and deed – the government has repeatedly demonstrated that it may treat anyone who questions mainstream ideology as a terrorist.

Twenty-five years ago today, every U.S. media outlet, along with then President Bush and the U.S. Congress were whipping up a full scale frenzied hysteria and attack against the Chinese government for what was described as the cold-blooded massacre of many thousands of non-violent “pro-democracy” students who had occupied Tiananmen Square for seven weeks.

The hysteria generated about the Tiananmen Square “massacre” was based on a fictitious narrative about what actually happened when the Chinese government finally cleared the square of protestors on June 4, 1989.

The demonization of China was highly effective. Nearly all sectors of U.S. society, including most of the “left,” accepted the imperialist presentation of what happened.

Tank set on fire by protesters outside of Tiananment Square, June 4, 1989

At the time the Chinese government’s official account of the events was immediately dismissed out of hand as false propaganda. China reported that about 300 people had died in clashes on June 4 and that many of the dead were soldiers of the Peoples Liberation Army. China insisted that there was no massacre of students in Tiananmen Square and in fact the soldiers cleared Tiananmen Square of demonstrators without any shooting.i

The Chinese government also asserted that unarmed soldiers who had entered Tiananmen Square in the two days prior to June 4 were set on fire and lynched with their corpses hung from buses. Other soldiers were incinerated when army vehicles were torched with soldiers unable to evacuate and many others were badly beaten by violent mob attacks.

These accounts were true and well documented. It would not be difficult to imagine how violently the Pentagon and U.S. law enforcement agencies would have reacted if the Occupy movement, for instance, had similarly set soldiers and police on fire, taken their weapons and lynched them when the government was attempting to clear them from public spaces.

In an article on June 5, 1989, the Washington Post described how anti-government fighters had been organized into formations of 100-150 people. They were armed with Molotov cocktails and iron clubs, to meet the PLA who were still unarmed in the days prior to June 4.

What happened in China, what took the lives of government opponents and of soldiers on June 4, was not a massacre of peaceful students but a battle between PLA soldiers and armed detachments from the so-called pro-democracy movement.

On one avenue in western Beijing, demonstrators torched an entire military convoy of more than 100 trucks and armored vehicles. Aerial pictures of conflagration and columns of smoke have powerfully bolstered the [Chinese] government’s arguments that the troops were victims, not executioners. Other scenes show soldiers’ corpses and demonstrators stripping automatic rifles off unresisting soldiers,” admitted the Washington Post in a story that was favorable to anti-government opposition on June 12, 1989.ii

The Wall Street Journal, the leading voice of anti-communism, served as a vociferous cheerleader for the “pro-democracy” movement. Yet, their coverage right after June 4 acknowledged that many “radicalized protesters, some now armed with guns and vehicles commandeered in clashes with the military” were preparing for larger armed struggles. The Wall Street Journal report on the events of June 4 portrays a vivid picture:

As columns of tanks and tens of thousands soldiers approached Tiananmen many troops were set on by angry mobs … [D]ozens of soldiers were pulled from trucks, severely beaten and left for dead. At an intersection west of the square, the body of a young soldier, who had beaten to death, was stripped naked and hung from the side of a bus. Another soldier’s corpse was strung at an intersection east of the square.”iii

The massacre that wasn’t

In the days immediately after June 4, 1989, the New York Times headlines, articles and editorials used the figure that “thousands” of peaceful activists had been massacred when the army sent tanks and soldiers into the Square. The number that the Times was using as an estimate of dead was 2,600. That figure was used as the go-to number of student activists who were mowed down in Tiananmen. Almost every U.S. media outlet reported “many thousands” killed. Many media outlets said as many 8,000 had been slaughtered.

Tim Russert, NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief, appearing later on Meet the Press said “tens of thousands” died in Tiananmen Square.iv

The fictionalized version of the “massacre” was later corrected in some very small measure by Western reporters who had participated in the fabrications and who were keen to touch up the record so that they could say they made “corrections.” But by then it was too late and they knew that too. Public consciousness had been shaped. The false narrative became the dominant narrative. They had successfully massacred the facts to fit the political needs of the U.S. government.

“Most of the hundreds of foreign journalists that night, including me, were in other parts of the city or were removed from the square so that they could not witness the final chapter of the student story. Those who tried to remain close filed dramatic accounts that, in some cases, buttressed the myth of a student massacre,” wrote Jay Mathews, the Washington Post’s first Bureau Chief in Beijing, in a 1998 article in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Mathews’ article, which includes his own admissions to using the terminology of the Tiananmen Square massacre, came nine years after the fact and he acknowledged that corrections later had little impact. “The facts of Tiananmen have been known for a long time. When Clinton visited the square this June, both The Washington Post and The New York Times explained that no one died there [in Tiananmen Square] during the 1989 crackdown. But these were short explanations at the end of long articles. I doubt that they did much to kill the myth.”v

At the time all of the reports about the massacre of the students said basically the same thing and thus it seemed that they must be true. But these reports were not based on eyewitness testimony.

What really happened

For seven weeks leading up to June 4, the Chinese government was extraordinarily restrained in not confronting those who paralyzed the center of China’s central capital area. The Prime Minister met directly with protest leaders and the meeting was broadcast on national television. This did not defuse the situation but rather emboldened the protest leaders who knew that they had the full backing of the United States.

The protest leaders erected a huge statue that resembled the United States’ Statue of Liberty in the middle of Tiananmen Square. They were signaling to the entire world that their political sympathies were with the capitalist countries and the United States in particular. They proclaimed that they would continue the protests until the government was ousted.

With no end in sight the Chinese leadership decided to end the protests by clearing Tiananmen Square. Troops came into the Square without weapons on June 2 and many soldiers were beaten, some were killed and army vehicles were torched.

On June 4, the PLA re-entered the Square with weapons. According to the U.S. media accounts of the time that is when machine gun toting PLA soldiers mowed down peaceful student protests in a massacre of thousands.

China said that reports of the “massacre” in Tiananmen Square were a fabrication created both by Western media and by the protest leaders who used a willing Western media as a platform for an international propaganda campaign in their interests.

On June 12, 1989, eight days after the confrontation, the New York Times published an “exhaustive” but in fact fully fabricated eyewitness report of the Tiananmen Massacre by a student, Wen Wei Po. It was full of detailed accounts of brutality, mass murder, and heroic street battles. It recounted PLA machine gunners on the roof of Revolutionary Museum overlooking the Square and students being mowed down in the Square. This report was picked up by media throughout the U.S.vi

Although treated as gospel and irrefutable proof that China was lying, the June 12 “eyewitness” report by Wen Wei Po was so over the top and would so likely discredit the New York Times in China that the Times correspondent in Beijing, Nicholas Kristof, who had served as a mouthpiece for the protestors, took exception to the main points in the article.

Kristof wrote in a June 13 article, “The question of where the shootings occurred has significance because of the Government’s claim that no one was shot on Tiananmen Square. State television has even shown film of students marching peacefully away from the square shortly after dawn as proof that they were not slaughtered.”

“The central scene in the [eyewitness] article is of troops beating and machine-gunning unarmed students clustered around the Monument to the People’s Heroes in the middle of Tiananmen Square. Several other witnesses, both Chinese and foreign, say this did not happen,” Kristof wrote.

There is also no evidence of machine-gun emplacements on the roof of the history museum that were reported in the Wen Wei Po article. This reporter was directly north of the museum and saw no machine guns there. Other reporters and witnesses in the vicinity also failed to see them.

The central theme of the Wen Wei Po article was that troops subsequently beat and machine-gunned students in the area around the monument and that a line of armored vehicles cut off their retreat. But the witnesses say that armored vehicles did not surround the monument – they stayed at the north end of the square – and that troops did not attack students clustered around the monument. Several other foreign journalists were near the monument that night as well and none are known to have reported that students were attacked around the monument,” Kristof wrote in the June 13, 1989 article.vii

The Chinese government’s account acknowledges that street fighting and armed clashes occurred in nearby neighborhoods. They say that approximately three hundred died that night including many soldiers who died from gunfire, Molotov cocktails and beatings. But they have insisted that there was no massacre.

Kristof too says that there were clashes on several streets but refutes the “eyewitness” report about a massacre of students in Tiananmen Square, “… Instead, the students and a pop singer, Hou Dejian, were negotiating with the troops and decided to leave at dawn, between 5 A.M. and 6 A.M. The students all filed out together. Chinese television has shown scenes of the students leaving and of the apparently empty square as troops moved in as the students left.”

Attempted counter-revolution in China

In fact, the U.S. government was actively involved in promoting the “pro-democracy” protests through an extensive, well-funded, internationally coordinated propaganda machine that pumped out rumors, half-truths and lies from the moment the protests started in mid-April 1989.

The goal of the U.S. government was to carry out regime change in China and overthrow the Communist Party of China which had been the ruling party since the 1949 revolution. Since many activists in today’s progressive movement were not alive or were young children at the time of the Tiananmen incident in 1989, the best recent example of how such an imperialist destabilization/regime change operation works is revealed in the recent overthrow of the Ukrainian government. Peaceful protests in the downtown square receive international backing, financing and media support from the United States and Western powers; they eventually come under the leadership of armed groups who are hailed as freedom fighters by the Wall Street Journal, FOX News and other media; and finally the government targeted for overthrow by the CIA is fully demonized if it uses police or military forces.

In the case of the “pro-democracy” protests in China in 1989 the U.S. government was attempting to create a civil war. The Voice of America increased its Chinese language broadcasts to 11 hours each day and targeted the broadcast “directly to about 2,000 satellite dishes in China operated mostly by the Peoples Liberation Army.”viii

The Voice of America broadcasts to PLA units were filled with reports that some PLA units were firing on others and different units were loyal to the protestors and others with the government.

The Voice of America and U.S. media outlets tried to create confusion and panic among government supporters. Just prior to June 4 they reported that China’s Prime Minister Li Peng had been shot and that Deng Xiaoping was near death.

Most in the U.S. government and in the media expected the Chinese government to be toppled by pro-Western political forces as was starting to happening with the overthrow of socialist governments throughout Eastern and Central Europe at the time (1988-1991) following the introduction of pro-capitalist reforms by Gorbachev in the Soviet Union in 1991.

In China, the “pro-democracy” protest movement was led by privileged, well-connected students from elite universities who were explicitly calling for the replacement of socialism with capitalism. The leaders were particularly connected to the United States. Of course, thousands of other students who participated in the protests were in the Square because they had grievances against the government.

But the imperialist-connected leadership of the movement had an explicit plan to topple the government. Chai Ling, who was recognized as the top leader of the students, gave an interview to Western reporters on the eve of June 4 in which she acknowledged that the goal of the leadership was to lead the population in a struggle to topple the Communist Party of China, which she explained would only be possible if they could successfully provoke the government into violently attacking the demonstrations. That interview was aired in the film the “Gate of Heavenly Peace.” Chai Ling also explained why they couldn’t tell the rank and file student protestors about the leaders’ real plans.

“The pursuit of wealth is part of the impetus for democracy,” explained another top student leader Wang Dan, in an interview with the Washington Post in 1993, on the fourth anniversary of the incident. Wang Dan was in all the U.S. media before and after the Tiananmen incident. He was famous for explaining why the elitist student leaders didn’t want Chinese workers joining their movement. He stated “the movement is not ready for worker participation because democracy must first be absorbed by the students and intellectuals before they can spread it to others.”ix

Twenty-five years later – U.S. still seeks regime change and counter-revolution in China

The action by the Chinese government to disperse the so-called pro-democracy movement in 1989 was met with bitter frustration within the United States political establishment.

The U.S. imposed economic sanctions on China at first, but their impact was minimal and both the Washington political establishment and the Wall Street banks realized that U.S. corporations and banks  would be the big losers in the 1990′s if they tried to completely isolate China when China was further opening its vast domestic labor and commodities market to the direct investment from Western corporations. The biggest banks and corporations put their own profit margins first and the Washington politicians took their cue from the billionaire class on this question.

But the issue of counter-revolution in China will rear its head again. The economic reforms that were inaugurated after the death of Mao opened the country to foreign investment. This development strategy was designed to rapidly overcome the legacy of poverty and under-development by the import of foreign technology. In exchange the Western corporations received mega profits. The post-Mao leadership in the Communist Party calculated that the strategy would benefit China by virtue of a rapid technology transfer from the imperialist world to China. And indeed China has made great economic strides. But in addition to economic development there has also developed a larger capitalist class inside of China and a significant portion of that class and their children are being wooed by all types of institutions financed by the U.S. government, U.S. financial institutions and U.S. academic centers.

The Communist Party of China is also divided into pro-U.S. and pro-socialist factions and tendencies.

Today, the United States government is applying ever greater military pressure on China. It is accelerating the struggle against China’s rise by cementing new military and strategic alliances with other Asian countries. It is also hoping that with enough pressure some in the Chinese leadership who favor abandoning North Korea will get the upper hand.

If counter-revolution were to succeed in China the consequences would be catastrophic for the Chinese people and for China. China would in all likelihood splinter as a nation as happened to the Soviet Union when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was toppled. The same fate befell the former Yugoslavia. Counter-revolution and dismemberment would hurtle China backwards. It would put the brakes on China’s spectacular peaceful rise out of under-development. For decades there has been a serious discussion within the U.S. foreign policy establishment about the dismemberment of China which would weaken China as a nation and allow the United States and Western powers to seize its most lucrative parts. This is precisely the scenario that cast China into its century of humiliation when Western capitalist powers dominated the country.x

The Chinese Revolution has gone through many stages, victories, retreats and setbacks. Its contradictions are innumerable. But still it stands. In the confrontation between world imperialism and the Peoples Republic of China, progressive people should know where they stand – it is not on the sidelines.

Notes

i Jim Abrams, “Rival military units battle in Beijing,” Associated Press, June 6, 1989.

ii John Burgess, “Images Vilify Protesters; Chinese Launch Propaganda Campaign,” Washington Post, June 12, 1989

iii James P. Sterba, Adi Ignatius and Robert S. Greenberger, “Class Struggle: China’s Harsh Actions Threaten to Set Back 10-Year Reform Drive — Suspicions of Westernization Are Ascendant, and Army Has a Political Role Again — A Movement Unlikely to Die,” Wall Street Journal, June 5, 1989

iv Jay Mathews, “The Myth of Tiananmen and the Price of a Passive Press,” Columbia Journalism Review September/October 1998

v Mathews, ibid.

vi Wen Wei Po, “Turmoil in China; Student Tells the Tiananmen Story: And Then, ‘Machine Guns Erupted’” New York Times, June 12, 1989

vii Nicholas Kristof, “Turmoil in China; Tiananmen Crackdown: Student’s Account Questioned on Major Points,” New York Times, June 13, 1989

viii  “Voice of America Beams TV Signals to China,” New York Times, June 9, 1989

ix Lena Sun, “A Radical Transformation 4 Years After Tiananmen,” Washington Post, June 6, 1993.

x ”PSL Resolution: For the defense of China against counterrevolution, imperialist intervention and dismemberment,” China: Revolution and counterrevolution, PSL Publications, 2008. Read online at http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/pages/for-the-defense-of-china.html

 

PSYOPS – Wars Are Fought On and Off the Battlefield

June 4th, 2014 by Online Psychology Degrees

What are PSYOPS?

Psychological Operations (PSYOP) has been alternatively known in the U.S. as Military Information Support Operations (MISO) since 2010

● According to the U.S. Department of Defense, psychological warfare is,

“The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.”

PSYOPS influence the behavior of governments, groups, organizations and individuals.

PSYOPS can be used during conflict or peacetime.

Psychological Warfare
Source: Online-Psychology-Degree.com

There Are Three Main Types of Psychological Operations:

○ Strategic
○ Operational
○ Tactical

Strategic
● Conducted outside of a military purpose
● Often have advanced or long-term objectives
● They are global in nature and may be directed toward very large audiences

Operational
● Conducted across many kinds of military operations in a predetermined operational area in order to promote the effectiveness of the joint force commander’s campaigns and strategies
● The purpose of an operational PSYOP can range from gaining support for U.S. operations to preparing a battlefield for combat

Tactical
● Conducted by a tactical commander in an assigned area to supposed tactical missions against opposing forces
● Used to secure immediate goals
● Often used as a way to lower the morale and efficiency of enemy forces

PSYOPS are not a form of force, but are force multipliers
● They use nonviolent means in often violent environments in order to persuade

PSYOPS use logic, fear, desire or other psychological factors to promote specific attitudes, emotions or behaviors
● This is to convince enemy, neutral or friendly nations and forces to take action favorable to the U.S. and allies
● Messages are conveyed through audio, visual and audiovisual media
○ Military tactical operations are usually delivered by loudspeaker
○ Other campaigns can be delivered through leaflets, radio or television

Psychological Warfare Has Been Used Through History

● 500 BCE – Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War about the importance of intelligence and psychology in war and politics
○ “To capture the enemy’s entire army is better than to destroy it… To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence.”
● 300 BCE – Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world by spreading stories of his savagery
○ One of his tactics involved the construction of oversized armor, that would fit “giants.” These were left on the battlefield before a conflict in order to inspire terror and, ultimately, a surrender… Even from armies that greatly outnumbered his own
● 1200’s CE – Gengis Khan and the Mongol Empire bloodily conquered of much of Asia and Europe
○ While the Mongols did kill many people, much of their success was gained through psychological warfare
○ Khan sent messengers ahead of his army to tell villages of the fierce and bloodthirsty Mongol army.
■ By the time the Mongols reached a village, communities were usually ready to surrender
● WWI – The birth of modern psychological warfare
○ Altered weapons, such as mortar, were used to spread leaflets across a wide area
● WWII
○ Many of the same tactics from WWI were used
○ Military powers began heavily using radio to spread propaganda
■ Tokyo Rose broadcast music, propaganda and discouragement toward the Allied forces
● Later, Hanoi Hannah and Seoul City Sue would do the same during the Vietnam War and Korean War
○ Radio was also implemented to spread false intelligence
■ American forces convinced German high commanders that the D-Day invasion would launch at Calais instead of Normandy
■ The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began English-language lessons on a radio show widely listened to by German forces
● They taught the German military phrases like, “The boat is sinking,” and “I am burning”
○ This series convinced the German commanders that the British had found a way to set the English Channel on fire in the event that Germans launched an invasion by sea
● Cold War
○ Nations began broadcasting white noise to give the impression that encryption was being used
■ This led to other nations wasting a lot of money in an effort to decrypt messages that were not there
○ Governments began recruiting very innocent looking people to be spies or saboteurs, in order to cast doubt on more individuals
○ When captured, these spies would implicate as many innocent people as possible, creating confusion and widespread suspicion
● Recent history
○ During the Gulf War, the U.S. distributed pamphlets encouraging opposing forces to desert
○ Winning forces name captured towns and facilities
■ Example: The change from Iraq’s Saddam International Airport to Baghdad International Airport following Hussein’s removal from power
○ The use of vehicles as mobile broadcasting stations
■ This has allowed troops to agitate Taliban fighters until they come out of hiding places and engage with U.S. troops
○ Terrorism
■ Acts like the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the bombing of the London tubes are physical attacks that are also meant to inspire fear in a community and break an enemy’s will

Today’s wars are won with military and messages. How will tomorrow’s be won?

Sources:
http://www.military.com/ContentFiles/techtv_update_PSYOPS.htm
https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Psychological_warfare
http://www.psywarrior.com/psyhist.html
http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Psychological_warfare.html
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/449268_2

Goodbye to the America we once loved. Since it has been taken over, hijacked by  oligarchs dancing to the tune of global hegemony, the US as the beacon light of Western civilization, has already crested having run its course. In all its glory, it had its run. Now operating from the shadowy, secret cabal of  the World’s central Banks and billionaire mansions around the world, the New World Order descends upon a poisoned, with a permanent era of austerity and impoverishment.

Living in the most powerful and richest country on earth, Americans are lamenting and mourning what once was in their sentimental nostalgia for the onetime greatness they now have lost. But then they are suddenly jarred back to the real world reality they face, worrying over an uncertain future where the only certainty is the American Empire has seen better days in its angst-ridden spiral downward into despair and oblivion. While Isaac Newton looks down from above and reminds us, “What goes up, must come down,” a faint, far off sound can be heard, “Bye, bye Miss American pie…”

In a way the more rational and logical nature within us may be saying good riddance to the only world superpower that abused its privilege and authority, choosing to flex its military muscle in bloodthirsty lust and hollowed out glory. Its unquenchable thirst for more power and control over its earthly dominions have come at a heavy cost to both the American people and a severely exploited and victimized Third World. Two decades ago when the US was the only superpower left standing after the shattered demise of the Soviet Union, rather than continue to be the beacon of light and liberty for the rest of the world, like in Rome a millennium ago, an overreaching military Empire won out.

When no other nation on earth was left to compete with America as its enemy, from Reagan and George Bush senior through Clinton to George junior and finally to Obama, the US government has consistently elected to place its highest priority on out-of-control military spending, choosing to overextend its military might on multiple defeated warfronts while bleeding its middle class dry as its sacrificial lamb. And now what are we left with – by design a Middle East and North Africa comprised of hopelessly failed states, compliments of US Empire’s King Midas touch-in-reverse. “Destabilize, Will Travel, Inc.,” sadly that is what American Empire does and stands for. And now its clutches are spreading, digging its fatal claws deep into the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, in the form of Special Ops boots on the ground, busily militarizing the entire world into death squads, more night raids, more civil wars, more sovereign nations destabilized and destroyed.

Obama’s desperate false bravado claim clinging to his notion of America’s exceptionalism heard last week at West Point, proclaims that the US is too good to have to live by the rules that the rest of the world must comply with. The psychopath is truly showing his mental illness living in his own delusional world. It’s time for him to wake up and smell the rot he has brought not only to America but the entire world.

At some point, the out-of-control, two-headed, red, white and blue monster had to be stopped. Fomenting unrest in every corner of the globe, the US Empire agenda has promoted and is now forcing the East versus West showdown along every border nation with Russia and China. After aggressively and foolishly pinning the sleeping giants in, poking the Bear in the eye with the US backed Nazi debacle in Ukraine, and ramping up hostilities in Asia with more militarized zones of US presence in Philippines and South Korea, both Russia and China decided that they have had enough. US Empire transgressions have crossed their red line, and now they are finally through tolerating US arrogance and belligerence. They are now striking back with an emerging, growing alliance bent on stopping the global bully and one world policeman’s brutality once and for all. With the BRIC nations of not only Russia and China but also the emerging, resource-rich giants India and Brazil along with South Africa, the US dollar as the international currency is about to crash and burn. China is about to come-a-calling as the US creditor demands its due. Unable to pay up on its bloated debt, thanks to its reckless incompetent leadership, the United States of America is about to financially go belly up. Enter the UN Agenda 21.

Under the misguided, inconsistent leadership of two-faced Obama wavering constantly between in-your-face bully and egg-in-his-face wimp, his over-the-top, hot air rhetoric has become empty and meaningless. His psychopathic lies have destroyed any credibility or trust he once had. Meanwhile, American Empire’s longtime arrogance and aggression has only alienated the US from the rest of the world including its allies, while betraying US citizens both domestically and globally, forcing them to now pay for the sins of its leaders both past and present.

Look at how our government has failed our veterans. After promising to take care of them, sending them off to die and be harmed in battle, they have forsaken them letting them die in droves while criminally cooking the books hoping no one would notice its antiquated, overstretched and thoroughly broken system. It is neither a Republican nor a Democratic issue, only a human issue. After using our precious resource of young men and women willing to go off and fight for our nation on some far off foreign land, once they return home damaged in desperate need of help, care and support, the US government has simply abandoned them, pushing them away as discarded and forgotten into some invisible corner to die. If the US government can do this to our vets, it will certainly do it to the rest of us.

America is rotting out from within. Long neglecting its needy and poor currently living in war zones called inner cities, an angry, growing, disenfranchised class that has also had enough finds itself with nothing left to lose. With more than half of this country’s two plus million Americans of color trapped in prisons, the US is but one false flag away from declaring martial law and unleashing its FEMA roundups. Targeted will be those fighting back, the activists, dissidents, dissenters, the destitute, any and all Americans not part of the one third of the US population that make up the military security complex will be considered fair game. All those Halliburton-refurbished and newly built, empty privatized prisons at tax payer expense await to be filled by shackled and betrayed Americans of all colors.

The decimated, shrinking middle class can no longer find jobs. They don’t exist anymore in America, except sweeping up McDonald’s parking lots. Of course the growing underclass gave up looking for jobs that weren’t there for them decades ago. The upward mobility and rising standard of living that was once the bedrock of the American way of life guaranteed for generations, has joined the graveyard heap of the once shining but now dead and lost.

Without a manufacturing base, the US population is totally dependent on exports from China, Mexico and everywhere else that traitorous, disloyal US transnational corporations greedily chasing higher profit margins ran off to like outsourcing roaches. Like the roaches they are, the McDonalds and Walmarts may survive the coming nuclear winter holocaust, but the forsaken Americans they betrayed won’t. The retail stores and malls are increasingly becoming empty or going out of business. When the richest 85 people on the planet possess as much wealth as the bottom economic half of the entire global population, you know the oligarchs have already won and the lights are about to go out on the rest of us.

The karmic lesson has come home to roost. With rusted out bridges ready to literally crumble and fall in America, they serve as a sad yet fitting metaphor for the state of the once great nation that no longer exists. Over its own struggling people, the US Empire chose to build its spreading might-make-right boots on the ground strength, overstretching its killing machine tentacles to every continent off the backs of its hardworking taxpayers, while the long neglected infrastructure and safety net back home collapse.

The forsaken American population finds itself more in poverty (46.2 million people) as well as more in debt ($57 trillion) now than ever before in history. Young generations of the college educated are having to pay off mounting college loan debts ($1.2 trillion and rising) that without jobs they can never even hope to repay. Rather than marry, have kids and buy homes like generations before them, they worry how to pay the light bill and avoid eviction. Sometime when we weren’t looking, the American dream died in the last century. Foreclosures and unpaid debts are now sucking the lifeblood out of Americans.

After bailing out the banks and Wall Street, Americans learned that they got royally swindled. Yet the corporate white collar crime only continues unabated. Not one executive from the top firms that nearly brought down the financial system spent even a day in jail over the 2009 housing scandal. Instead the Justice Department had the coldhearted audacity to go after the home buyers charging them with mortgage fraud. The two-tiered, stacked and fixed legal system has one set of rules and consequences for the rest of us while the economic war criminals literally and legally get away with murder. While middle class Americans have been forced to give up their once comfortable lifestyle, the rich only got richer. And now whose going to bail out the middle and lower classes fast going under? The oligarchs? The disparity between the rich and poor in this nation – never worse since the Great Depression – spreads like an evil cancer. Tax burdens continue plaguing the disappearing middle class while the superrich got bailed out, only to make obscene record profits while still enjoying Bush-era tax cuts milking trickle-down Reaganomics for all the scam it is worth.

The oligarchs have managed to buy off virtually all the national governments in the world to do their NWO bidding. They believe they have already won. And why shouldn’t they? Their strategy of systematically dumbing down the world masses with GMO’s, chemtrails and homogenized propaganda piped into their brains 24/7 operates like a bad drug, causing people to fear and obey their masters as pliable, acquiescent, mindless robots who simply go quietly into the night to their eugenic slaughterhouse according to the oligarch plan to cull the global herd down from over seven to a mere half billion. With living conditions and gross injustice around the world only going from bad to worse, people feel increasingly helpless and powerless. Depression and suicide are skyrocketing, particularly among war veterans (nearly one each hour) and adolescent and young adults (third leading cause of death).

But what the oligarchs worry about the most in their undying addiction to power and control is an awakened, critical mind that sees through their lies and deception. They shudder at the thought of the masses of the world actually waking up, and seeing their blatant theft and destruction for what it really is. And what they dread and fear the most is a worldwide grassroots movement of mindful human beings united in committed solidarity who refuse to play their game any longer. As a collective power of world citizens acting together as one, as free-thinking individuals who vastly outnumber the 1%, we can make a difference. To roll over and play dead, we are merely joining the ranks of the many already walking dead amongst us. As individuals with minds of our own, we do have the power and strength to say enough is enough. We just need to come together and exercise our collective free will and power.

Two thirds of the fifty United States have already called for a Constitutional Convention, giving the legal authority to convene and in open debate formulate amendments that can restore rule of law that has criminally been violated and missing since the Patriot Act. As citizens we need to learn what the US Constitution actually says. The Supremacy Clause in Article 6, Clause 2 of the US Constitution states “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof the Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land.” If a federal statute fails to meet the mandatory condition that it “is in pursuance” of the Constitution, then it simply is not the rule of law. Any federal law enacted that does not fulfill this “pursuant clause” requirement becomes null and void. That means that Bush’s Patriot Act, his Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), most of his and Obama’s presidential executive orders and every National Defense Authorization Act including the 2012 one the US Supreme Court recently decided to not review giving the military full authorization to arrest any citizens in their homes without charges or warrants and imprison for an unlimited length of time without trial, legal access to representation or Constitutional rights, are all invalid because they are all unconstitutional. All laws enacted that are not in compliance with constitutional law are simply not legally enforceable.

Thus, even though since 9/11 the US government has betrayed its citizens inasmuch as it has betrayed the Constitution and its rule of law, from the local and state levels we the people can fight back through the courts. Every elected representative, every judge and every soldier in America has taken a sworn oath to uphold the US Constitution. By their actions too many in the federal government and military have clearly violated their oaths. Those who are not full blown psychopaths need to allow whatever conscience they do have to permit them to stop violating constitutional law through their overt and brutal acts of tyranny and oppression.

Other steps that we citizens can do to take back our country can be implemented on many fronts and many levels, legally, economically, socially and ethically, empowering the resourcefulness and independence of our local communities and states. We need to start growing our own food using community coops. We need to go off the grid as much as possible with green energy utilizing the sun and wind power. These can also be community owned and shared. Worker owned cooperatives offer an ideal economic model by which to begin exercising increasing localized and regional independence. The power of corporate boycott and bartering are also viable tools at our disposal. Together we as a people and a human race can become activists committed toward positive change. Since our federal government has failed us miserably, we can neither rely on it to take care of us nor care about us. It will be left up to us as citizens to come together as communities and begin taking care of and caring for each other.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.

Israel’s Medieval Ban on Intermarriage

June 4th, 2014 by Jonathan Cook

Here is a simple infographic (possibly behind the Haaretz paywall) setting out how Israel has engineered a series of hurdles to prevent intermarriage, especially between Jews and non-Jews.

There are no civil institutions in Israel dealing with marriage (and many other personal status issues), meaning that only hardline Orthodox rabbis get to determine who marries a “real Jew”.

Israel dresses this up as an attempt to protect religious tradition, but actually it’s religious coercion designed to prevent assimilation – the greatest threat to Zionism, Israel’s state ideology.So this kind of medieval enforcement of segregation according to sect, tribe or race (depending on how you look at it) is actually required by the very nature of a Jewish state – sorry, I meant Jewish and democratic state.

www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/shavuot/.premium-1.596576 

Jonathan Cook is a Nazareth-based journalist and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.

Is this a way to send back to Afghanistan five top Taliban leaders who have been “re-conditioned” and “turned” in Guantanamo and are now working for the US? Is this a move against the “unloyal” President Karzai & his successors? The Taliban leadership has been, reportedly, decimated by the drones assassinations. It is not difficult to imagine what will happen with the arrival of five of the very top Taliban political leaders after many years of detention in Guantanamo: The creation of a new leadership.

Why would the US do that after having spent so much money and blood trying to decapitate the Taliban elite and, reportedly, succeeding? You need terrorists to sustain the “war on terrorism”?

Officially, the sudden decision was taken by President Obama to rescue Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who has been in the hands of the Taliban since 2009 and who allegedly left voluntarily to the point that many of his fellow colleague are accusing him of “desertion”. There are reports that Bergdhal did not want to leave his captivity.

If the reason of the exchange was to spare the sergeant further pain and suffering, or to give a signal that no US soldier is left behind — then why wasn’t Bergdhal freed before? Why are now – right now – the five Taliban leaders returned to an Afghanistan deprived of leaders?  Is there any connection with the increasing Afghanistan willingness to forge closer links with BRICS, China, and Russia? Is there any connection with the recently established good contacts between Pakistan and Russia to the point that Russia lifted his arms embargo on Pakistan immediately before the announced Five Taliban liberation?

Is this a [desperate] way to keep some form of “strategic” presence in an area where both India and Pakistan are taking the distances from the Anglo-Americans and are looking at the BRICS instead? Is this a way to slow down the recognition that Brzezinski & Co. have lost Central Asia’s Great game?

Who are the Five Taliban?

The Freed Taliban are: Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammed Nabi Omari. They were all top political leaders of the Taliban regime originally installed in Afghanistan with the US help.

Actually, one of them - Abdul Haq Wasiq - has been reportedly working for the US forces since US invasion in 2001. He was deputy minister of intelligence, while his cousin was the head of intelligence.

Wasiq was the deputy chief of the Taliban regime’s intelligence service. His cousin was head of the service Reportedly Wasiq cooperated with U.S. forces in Afghanistan promising he would lead to the capture of Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. In a meeting with US representatives he asked for a global positioning system (GPS) and the necessary radio frequencies to pass information back to the Americans in order to help locate the Taliban leader. Strangely enough, shortly after the meeting, US forces arrested him. (https://wikileaks.org/gitmo/pdf/af/us9af-000004dp.pdf)

An administrative review in 2007 cited a source as saying that Wasiq was also “an al Qaeda intelligence member” and had links with members of another militant Islamist group, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. Wasiq claimed, according to the review, that he was arrested while trying to help the United States locate senior Taliban figures. He denied any links to militant groups. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/31/us/bergdahl-transferred-guantanamo-detainees/)

Another of the Guantanamo prisoners - Khairullah Khairkhwa  - is the former Interior Minister and the former Taliban governor of Heart, was considered by the Pentagon’s 2008 dossier to be one of the controllers of the heroin traffic .

The young Khairkhwa  had been trained during the US sponsored  war against the pro Russians government in Afghanistan, in a religious school at the border with Pakistan.

At that time, Osama Bin Laden was openly an instrument of the “Muslim Fundamentalism Card” strategy of Brzezinski, the National Security adviser of President Carter. In the context of this anti Russian alliance with the Mujahedeen/ freedom fighters embraced by President Ronald Reagan, young Afghani were sent to a series of western financed Wahhabi fundamentalist religious school located in Pakistan along the borders with Afghanistan. Talib. Here under Western and Pakistani intelligence sponsorship the future Taliban leadership (such as Khairkhwa) was created.

The future Taliban Interior minister and Guantanamo prisoner was also trained in a camp of Abu Musab al Zarqawi in North Iraq. Zarqawi known as the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, established a terrorist operation in Northern Iraq, after the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein lost completely control of that area following the No-fly zone interdiction imposed by the US. Various western intelligence became extremely active in that area but the Zarqawi operation was not disturbed and actually flourished.

Pope Francis’ “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land last week proved to be an unbalanced impossible mission. The pontiff failed to strike a balance of neutrality between contradictory and irreconcilable binaries like divinity and earth, religion and politics, justice and injustice and military occupation and peace.

Such neutrality is viewed by the laity of Christian believers, let alone Muslim ones, in the Holy Land as religiously, morally and politically unacceptable.

The 77-year old head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics “is stepping into a religious and political minefield,” Naim Ateek, the Anglican priest who founded the Palestinian liberation theology movement and runs the Sabeel Ecumenical Center in Jerusalem and Nazareth, was quoted as saying by “Time” on last May 24, the first day of the pope’s “pilgrimage.”

Ironically, the symbolic moral and spiritual power of the Holy See was down to earth in Pope Francis’ subservient adaptation to the current realpolitik of the Holy Land in what the Catholic Online on May 26 described as “faith diplomacy.”

The pontiff’s message to the Palestinian people during his three-day “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land boils down to an endorsement of the Israeli and U.S. message to them, i.e.: “The only route to peace” is to negotiate with the Israeli occupying power, refrain from unilateral actions and “violent” resistance and recognize Israel as a fait accompli.

The UK-based Jordanian-Palestinian journalist Lamis Andoni, a Christian herself, wrote on May 27: “We don’t need the Vatican blessing of negotiations … Whoever sees occupation and remains neutral has no justice in his vision.”

The Vatican and the pope himself had insisted that his visit to the birthplace of the three monotheistic “Abrahamic faiths” of Islam, Christianity and Judaism was “purely spiritual,” “strictly religious,” a “pilgrimage for prayer” and “absolutely not political.”

But the Vatican expert John Allen, writing in the Boston Globe a week ahead of the pope’s visit, had expected it to be a “political high-wire act,” and that what it truly was, because “religion and politics cannot be separated in the Holy Land,” according to Yolande Knell on BBC online on May 25.

Pope Francis would have performed much better had he adhered “strictly,” “purely” and “absolutely” to making his trip a “pilgrimage for prayer” and one that is committed to Christian unity and to helping indigenous Christians survive the highly volatile and violent regional environment.

Instead he had drowned his spiritual role in a minefield of symbolic political semantics and semiotics.

The pope finished his “pilgrimage,” which was announced as a religious one but turned instead into a political pilgrimage, with a call for peace.

However, the grand mufti of Jerusalem , Muhammad Hussein, while welcoming the pontiff inside Islam’s third holiest site of Al-Aqsa Mosque on May 26, said: “Peace in this land will not happen until the end of the [Israeli military] occupation.”

Palestinian-American Daoud Kuttab on May 25 wrote in a controversial column that the pope “exceeded expectations for Palestinians.”

He flew directly from Jordan to Bethlehem in Palestine without passing through any Israeli entry procedures, implicitly and symbolically recognizing Palestinian sovereignty.

He addressed the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the head of the “State of Palestine,” announced that there must be “recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement” and met with Palestinian children whose parents were refugees whom Israelis displaced from their homes in 1948.

And in an undeniable expression of solidarity with the Palestinians, he made an unplanned stop to pray at Israel ’s apartheid wall of segregation in Bethlehem, because, as he said, “the time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable.”

However, the word “occupation” was missing in more than thirteen of his speeches during his “pilgrimage” as was any reference to world’s “largest open-air prison” in Gaza Strip or to Dahiyat a-Salam (literally: Neighborhood of Peace) and other five neighbourhoods in eastern Jerusalem, including the Shu’fat Refugee Camp, where some eighty thousand Palestinians were cut off from the city services, including water, since March 2014 and isolated from Jerusalem by Israel’s segregation wall. His itinerary did not include the Galilee and Nazareth where most Palestinian Christians are located.

Eight papal messages

However, within less than twenty four hours the pontiff was to offset his positive overtures to Palestinians and his call for a “just solution” and a “stable peace based on justice” for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with eight messages to them.

The pontiff’s arrival in the Palestinian Holy Land came three days before Israel’s celebration of its 47th anniversary of its military occupation and annexation of the Christian and Muslim holy sites in the Arab east Jerusalem and ten days after the Palestinian commemoration of the 66th anniversary of their Nakba on the creation of Israel in 1948 on the ruins of more than 500 towns and villages from which the Zionist paratroops ethnically cleansed forcefully more than 800,000 Arab Muslim and Christian native Palestinians.

The pope had nothing to say or do on both occasions to alleviate the ensuing plight of the Palestinians except prayers, because “the concrete measures for peace must come from negotiations … It is the only route to peace,” according to the pope aboard his flight back to Rome.

That was exactly the same futile message the Israeli occupying power and its U.S. strategic ally have been sending to Palestinians for sixty six years, but especially since 1967: Palestinians should be held hostages to exclusively bilateral negotiations with their occupying power. This was the pope’s first message to Palestinians.

For this purpose, the pope invited Palestinian and Israeli presidents, Abbas and Shimon Peres, to pray for peace at “my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer” on June 8. The pope’s spokesman, Federico Lombardi, told the BBC it was “a papal peace initiative.” This was his second message”.

His third message to Palestinians was to “refrain from initiatives and actions which contradict the stated desire to reach a true agreement” with Israel, i.e. to refrain from unilateral actions, which is again another Israeli and U.S. precondition which both allies do not deem as deserving Israeli reciprocity.

By laying a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the atheist founder of Zionism who nonetheless believed in God’s promise of the land to His Jewish “chosen people,” the pope legitimized Herzl’s colonial settlement project in Palestine . This was his fourth message: Israel is a fait accompli recognized by the Vatican and blessed by the papacy and Palestinians have to adapt accordingly. The Washington Post on May 23 went further. “Some are interpreting” the pope’s act “as the pontiff’s tacit recognition of the country’s Jewish character.”

The pope sent his fifth message to Palestinians when he addressed young Palestinian refugees from the Dehiyshe Refugee Camp in Bethlehem : “Don’t ever allow the past to determine your life, always look forward.” He was repeating the Israeli and U.S. call on Palestinian refugees to forget their Nakba and look forward from their refugee camps for an unknown future in exile and diaspora.

On the same occasion he sent his sixth message: “Violence cannot be defeated by violence; violence can only be defeated with peace,” the pope advised the young Palestinian refugees. This is again the Israeli and U.S. message to them, which after more than two decades of Palestinian commitment produced neither peace nor justice for them.

The pope prayed at the Holocaust memorial, the western al-Buraq Wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Israelis call “The Wailing Wall,” the memorial of the Israeli victims of Palestinian resistance, laid a wreath at Herzel’s grave, visited Israeli president at his residence where he “vowed to pray for the institutions of the State of Israel,” which are responsible for the Palestinian Nakba, and received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Notre Dame complex. The pontiff was in fact blessing and granting the Vatican legitimacy to all the Israeli symbolic casus belli claims to the land, which justify the Palestinian Nakba. This was his seventh message.

All those events took place in Jerusalem , which Israel annexed as the “eternal” capital of the Hebrew state and the “Jewish people.” Reuven Berko, writing in Yisrael Hayom, said that the Pope’s meetings with Peres and Netanyahu were “de facto expressions of the Vatican ‘s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel .”

The pope’s eighth message to Palestinians was on the future of Jerusalem : “From the negotiations perhaps it will emerge that it will be the capital of one State or another … I do not consider myself competent to say that we should do one thing or another.”

Normalization with Israel

The “greatest importance” of Pope Francis’ visit “may lie in the fact that it reflects the normalization of relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel,” head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, wrote on May 23.

The Second Vatican Council early in the sixties of the last century rejected the collective Jewish guilt for Jesus Christ’s death. Since then the Vatican ’s “normalization” of relations with the Jews and Israel has been accumulating.

Rabbi David Rosen, director of inter-religious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, was quoted as saying by the USA Today on May 26: There “has been a revolution in the Christian world.”

At Ben-Gurion airport on May 25, Pope Francis reiterated his predecessor Benedict’s call for “the right of existence for the [still borderless] State of Israel to be recognized universally,” but was wise enough not to reiterate his “thanks to God” because “the Jews returned to the lands of their ancestors.”

To emphasise interfaith coexistence he broke the precedent of including a Jewish rabbi and a Muslim sheikh in his official delegation. “It’s highly symbolic,” said Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant to the Vatican press office.

By laying a wreath of white and yellow flowers, the colours of the Vatican , on the Herzl’s grave, the pope broke another historic precedent. It was an unbalanced act, 110 years after Pope Pius X met Herzl and rejected the idea of a Jewish state.

The pontiff’s “pilgrimage” could not dispel the historical fact that lies deep in the regional Arab memory that papacy was “still linked to the Crusades of the 11th through 13th centuries” when the successive popes’ only link to the Holy Land was a military one, according to the international editor of NPR.org, Greg Myre, on this May 24.

Of course this does not apply to Christianity. The indigenous oriental churches’ link to the land has never been interrupted while the Catholic Church was cut off from the region since the end of the Crusades until it came back with the European colonial domination since the nineteenth century.

No pope ever travelled to Jerusalem until Paul VI spent one day in the city, on January 4, 1964, when the holy sites were under the rule of the Arab Jordanians. John Paul visited thirty six years later and established a new papal tradition that has been followed by Pope Benedict, who visited in 2009, and now Pope Francis.

It doesn’t bode well with the Arabs and the Palestinians in particular that the new papal tradition is building on the background of recognizing Israel, which is an occupying power and still without a constitutional demarcated borders, as a fait accompli that the Palestinian people should recognize as well.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. An edited version of this article was first published by the Middle East Eye. [email protected]

Sudan is the Solution to South Sudan’s Problems

June 4th, 2014 by Sufyan bin Uzayr

In spite of the recent peace deal, the conflict in South Sudan seems to be far from over. Almost all the regional and international players that are involved in the peace process have their own agenda to pursue, and this has left the South Sudanese people highly vulnerable.

Amidst all this conflict, Sudan has managed to keep quiet. However, time has come for Sudan to be pro-active and play a bigger role in the current conflict in South Sudan. In all likelihood, only Sudan can pave the path towards sustainable peace in South Sudan.

South Sudan: Deplorable Conditions

It has been quite some time since clashes erupted in South Sudan. The fighting, which initially began as a tug of war for political power between President Salva Kiir and the then Deputy President Riek Machar, eventually became a full-fledged civil war.

As of now, there have been thousands of deaths and millions have been internally displaced. Human rights violations have become a normal sight in South Sudan, according to the latest UN reports. Tribal strife, fractured army, devastated socio-economic prospects and loss of life and property have severely crippled South Sudan, and the country is, in all likelihood, a failed state.

Last month, both the rival factions involved in the South Sudanese crisis signed a peace deal. Apart from the formation of a transitional government, the said deal also talks about the immediate end of conflict and potential humanitarian relief work.

However, this peace deal is highly fragile owing to a number of reasons. First, the parties involved in the civil war have been fighting to grab power, and they are uninterested in any peace treaty that does not assure them of absolute political superiority. Second, the role of the international and regional players too has been unsatisfactory.

For that matter, the body language of South Sudan leaders who signed the peace deal too was far from impressive. In fact, Daily Nation reported that President Salva Kiir himself admitted that he was being forced to sign the deal in order to avoid arrest.

The International Community’s Role

Ever since the formation of South Sudan, the United Nations has been involved in humanitarian aid and relief work. But UNMISS, in spite of its best efforts, is in the good books of neither the South Sudanese government nor the rebels. Similarly, international NGOs and donors who had signed bilateral trade agreements with South Sudan too are now left disillusioned by the unimpressive policies of the government and the rebels.

South Sudan’s divorce from Sudan was brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). However, IGAD’s credentials have now come under the scanner. Uganda, one of the member-states of IGAD, has openly sided with Kiir’s government, and this has not made Machar’s troops very happy.

Ethiopia and Kenya too are no longer being viewed as trustworthy players, because both of them have their own regional agenda to pursue. Similarly, even Rwanda is an unacceptable mediator because many Rwandan troops aid and work for UNMISS, which, once again, is not the favorite entity of South Sudanese government and rebels alike.

Egypt, not a member of IGAD, has offered to contribute to the proposed Peace Enforcement Forces. However, it is being alleged that in lieu of its contributions, Egypt will seek South Sudan’s support against Ethiopia regarding the River Nile Renaissance Dam.

South Africa, US, UK, China, Norway, African Union and European Union have appointed special envoys to keep an eye on the situation.

The Key Player? Sudan!

Amidst all this chaos, there is one country that has better understanding of the South Sudan conflict than any other state or body – Sudan.

So far, Sudan has kept itself aloof from the ongoing conflict. Owing to unresolved issues between Sudan and South Sudan, it was being assumed that the former will attempt to take advantage of the latter’s miserable position and further its oil interests in the region, but none of that has happened. In fact, unlike the members of IGAD, Sudan has ruled out any form of direct political involvement in South Sudan.

Several African states, including South Sudan, have termed Sudan’s potential involvement in the conflict as ‘party spoiler’. However, if there is one country that can actually claim to have understanding of South Sudan’s tribal friction and geopolitical strategy, it is Sudan! As a matter of fact, Sudan’s involvement can also ensure that South Sudan does not become a proxy colony of international actors and/or regional hegemons such as Ethiopia and Kenya.

Conclusion

Back in 1965, during the course of the then ongoing roundtable discussions the South Sudan issue, it took longer to agree on who would represent the ‘south’, than it took to make the actual agreement. Quite obviously, the southern part of Sudan has always been a divided lot, and seems pretty much incapable of standing on its feet. For that matter, anyone who felt South Sudan will do a good job as an independent nation has now been silenced, because the country seems headed towards failure.

Yet, Sudan can be the saviour that South Sudan needs. The unjust balkanization of Sudan, which resulted in the creation of South Sudan is surely a bad memory, but it is high time Sudan accepted the role of being ‘the better neighbor’, because the South Sudanese folks seem incapable of putting their house in order all by themselves.

As such, Riek Machar’s visit to Khartoum presents a peacebuilding opportunity that can restore trust between the two countries. South Sudan’s fragile state of affairs need to be fixed, and Sudan can do the needful.

South Sudan is the problem; it is time for Sudan to be the solution.

Sufyan bin Uzayr is the author of “Sufism: A Brief History”. He writes for several print and online publications, and regularly blogs about issues of contemporary relevance at Political Periscope (www.politicalperiscope.com). You can also connect with him using Facebook (http://facebook.com/sufyanism) or Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+SufyanbinUzayr?rel=author) or email him at [email protected]

Global attempts by Dow AgroSciences to gain approval for new genetically-modified soybean varieties resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D have become particularly aggressive in recent months. Simultaneous applications have been filed in several of the countries where genetically engineered crops (GE or transgenic crops or GMOs) were introduced in the 1990s.

The push for approval of new transgenics is part of a broader strategy by agribusiness to make the world’s farms increasingly dependent on its toxic herbicides, thus increasing the profits it derives from selling these chemicals. The current situation is a rerun of the 1990s’ introduction of Roundup Ready (glyphosate-resistant) crops, only this time the herbicides in question are much more toxic. These weed-killers have been around for a longer time and the case for their hazards to human health and the environment has been well documented.

Transgenic soy in Argentina (Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP)

Transgenic soy in Argentina (Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP)

The public pretext for these new GE crops is that they are necessary to counter the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds, popularly known as “superweeds.” But superweeds only exist because they have adapted to survive repeated sprayings of Roundup! In other words, they are a serious problem caused by a technology that was designed as a solution to a lesser problem (offering farmers a convenient way to kill weeds without killing the crop). Only 18 years after their introduction, Roundup Ready seeds are an utter failure.

Applications are now before the regulatory agencies of the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa for approval of a new genetically engineered soybean resistant to 2,4-D. The four countries are moving in parallel towards the granting of commercial growing permits. This dynamic shows how these corporations operate on a global scale with the confidence that they can have their way with our public institutions – which have been colonised, they know full well, by corporate power and ideology.

The four soy events (new genetic varieties) being promoted by Dow contain stacked resistance to other herbicides (glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate) in addition to 2,4-D.1

The good news is that peoples’ movements and peasants’ organisations have stepped up their resistance, actively mobilising and raising their voices in public forums to fend off this new attack.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational corporation founded in 1897. Initially a chemical manufacturer, in 1989 Dow embarked on an agrichemical joint venture with Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant. Eight years later, the resulting company was bought by Dow and renamed Dow AgroSciences. It markets 2,4-D as a single herbicide under the Frontline trademark, as well as in herbicide mixtures under a wide variety of other brand names.The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational corporation founded in 1897. Initially a chemical manufacturer, in 1989 Dow embarked on an agrichemical joint venture with Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant. Eight years later, the resulting company was bought by Dow and renamed Dow AgroSciences. It markets 2,4-D as a single herbicide under the Frontline trademark, as well as in herbicide mixtures under a wide variety of other brand names.

2,4-D: waging war on peasants

2,4-D is the standard abbreviation for the chemical 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. A synthetic auxin, or plant hormone, used to kill broad-leaved weeds, it is very commonly applied in combination with other herbicides. It was developed in England during the Second World War and was first marketed in 1946.

2,4-D is notorious for having been an ingredient in Agent Orange (along with 2,4,5-T), the chemical used as a weapon by the United States in the Vietnam War. The health harms caused to thousands of people by Agent Orange were mainly due to the presence of a carcinogenic and teratogenic contaminant (a dioxin) in the 2,4,5-T component. However, some of today’s 2,4-D preparations are likewise contaminated with dioxins due to the way they are manufactured.Numerous studies have shown 2,4-D to be highly toxic, even though it is classified as moderately hazardous (Class II). It is linked to a rise in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases among farmers and pesticide applicators in the United States.2 For this reason, it was the subject of a controversial 17-year review process that culminated in June 2005 when economic interests prevailed over doubts about the product and EPA decided to reregister 2,4-D.In terms of its mode of action, 2,4-D is a synthetic hormone and has been shown to function as an endocrine disrupter in the human body.32,4-D is also a neurotoxin. It is readily absorbed through the skin or by inhalation and can damage the liver, kidneys, muscles, and brain tissue. Oral consumption of larger quantities (100–300 mg/kg of body weight in mammals) and absorption through the skin can be fatal. Exposure to the ester and salt forms of 2,4-D is linked to a wide range of adverse human and animal health effects including embryotoxicity, teratogenicity, and neurotoxicity.2If all this is not bad enough, commercial 2,4-D formulations contain highly toxic adjuvants (other chemicals which enhance the herbicide’s effectiveness).

The world’s 18-year experiment (1996–2013) with Roundup Ready soy offers clear lessons regarding the potential risks of the new 2,4-D-resistant seed. The figures for Argentina indicate that Roundup use increased by approximately 220 million litres during this period.4 For the United States, Benbrook6 reports an increase of 239 million kg during the period 1996–2011.

Given this data, there can be no doubt that the approval of any 2,4-D-resistant transgenic event will cause an exponential rise in the use of the herbicide. And soybeans are not the only crop concerned: applications for approval of 2,4-D resistant cotton and corn varieties are also under review. These varieties include stacked resistance to other herbicides (glyphosate and glufosinate), making the projected increase in overall herbicide use that much greater.

The following is an overview of the status of 2,4-D-resistant soy applications filed by Dow in various countries.

Canada

Canada is the only one of the major soy-producing countries that has already approved (2012–13) commercial varieties of 2,4-D-resistant soybeans.2

In November 2012, in conjunction with the first approval, Dr. Warren Bell of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment stated, “The federal government has recklessly approved a GM food crop that is tolerant to yet another toxic pesticide, even though earlier GM glyphosate-tolerant crops already created superweeds and increased pesticide use. These same problems will be recreated by 2,4-D crops. Our environment, food and population will be increasingly exposed to another hazardous product.”

United States

Tractor spraying herbicide.Dow is seeking approval for a 2,4-D-resistant soybean (event DAS-68416-4) in addition to other stacked herbicide-resistant events (glyphosate and glufosinate ammonium).

The Center for Food Safety has launched a petition7 calling on the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reject “Agent Orange” soy and has already gathered 32,000 signatures. More recently, it denounced an application for 2,4-D-resistant corn and cotton events. It is worth noting that soy, corn, and cotton are practically the only crops with which the corporations have achieved any commercial success.

The Center for Food Safety petition reads, in part:

“Commercial approval of Dow’s soy will trigger a large increase in 2,4-D use, but USDA has not conducted a meaningful review of the consequent harm to native ecosystems, crop injury from 2,4-D drifting onto neighbouring fields, or the evolution of weeds resistant to 2,4-D. 2,4-D is already the number one culprit in drift-related crop injury complaints, and the huge increase in its use with 2,4-D soy will exacerbate these harms.”

Argentina

In January 2014, it became public knowledge that the National Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Commission (CONABIA) and the Biotechnology Branch have recommended the commercial release of a genetically modified 2,4-D-resistant soy variety (DAS-44406-6), concluding that “the risks arising from the large-scale release of this genetically engineered plant into the agroecosystem are not significantly different from those inherent in growing non-GM soybeans.”

Peasant organisations, NGOs, environmental groups, and environmental law groups have sharply criticised CONABIA’s stated rationale for the decision.

In the face of CONABIA’s positive decision, a campaign called “Paren de Fumigarnos” (Stop Spraying Us) was launched in January by the GMO-free Latin America Network (RALLT) and Alianza Biodiversidad. The campaign is calling on President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to reject the soybeans, arguing that

“the environmental and health impacts of this new transgenic crop will be even more devastating, especially since this new GMO contains stacked herbicide resistance as a tactic for fighting off the superweeds that have evolved in areas where Roundup Ready crops have been used for many years.”8

So far, the campaign has delivered more than 2,000 signatures to the president.

Simultaneously, the Argentine environmental law group CELMA made a presentation to the federal Department of Agriculture, Livestock Production and Fisheries9 challenging the CONABIA decision document. CELMA asked that the environmental and food safety studies submitted by Dow AgroSciences Argentina S.A. be made available for public scrutiny, that a public hearing be held, and that the Department of the Environment and Sustainable Development be required to play its statutory role in the decision.

In February, a group of organisations made a presentation to the federal department of agriculture asking why the product was approved in the absence of environmental impact studies and opportunities for public participation. This presentation was made public at a major press conference held in Buenos Aires.10

No response has yet been received to any of these actions.

Brazil

In Brazil, too, the regulatory body (CTNBio) is considering an application for approval of 2,4-D-resistant soy. A public hearing was held in December at the impetus of the GM-free Brazil campaign, allowing a range of opinions on the question to be heard. The Attorney General’s Office showed its willingness to listen to members of civil society, and legitimate questions were raised as to the possible impacts of a commercial release of soy and corn varieties resistant to 2,4-D, a product classified by the Brazilian national public health agency ANVISA as highly toxic.11

The hearing found that

“despite all the promises made for GMOs, they now require the use of more pesticides, yet there are more weeds and more pests. The reaction has been to make new promises – about drought-resistant plants, for example, or plants developed with public money instead of by the big multinationals.”

South Africa

South Africa approved imports of 2,4-D-resistant soybeans in March 2013. Civil society groups in South Africa, Latin America (especially Brazil and Argentina), and the United States expressed major concerns about the South African authorities’ decision to improve imports of Dow’s transgenic soy (DAS-44406-4) The variety in question is genetically modified to withstand applications of 2,4-D, glufosinate, and glyphosate.12

The critics contend that this approval will lend support to Dow’s applications for release of this variety in Brazil, Argentina, the United States and elsewhere.

Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety stated:

“We condemn the decision by the South African authorities. Once again, economic interests are riding roughshod over our government’s stewardship role to protect the health of our citizens and environment. The decision to approve this GE soybean variety is all the more galling in light of a current motion by the African Christian Democratic Party before the South African Parliament, to overturn a previous decision to allow imports of Dow’s 2,4-D tolerant GE maize into South Africa.”

Observations and conclusions

-The first conclusion to be drawn is an obvious one: that the technology package consisting of using herbicide-resistant seeds in no-till cropping systems has been an abject failure.13 Everybody now agrees that herbicide-resistant weeds have become a major problem, yet, during the first GE decade, the corporations routinely denied their existence. Roundup Ready crops have quite simply betrayed the promise that their use would result in reduced application of herbicides.

-More specifically, this situation constitutes conclusive proof of the total failure of what has been far and away the most commercially successful genetically engineered trait: glyphosate resistance. Roundup Ready soy is the most widely grown transgenic crop, covering an area of over 100 million hectares worldwide. We can now say with confidence that it could not have colonised our fields to such an extent without lies, corporate machinations, and shameful complicity on the part of our governments and scientists.

- That the only solution being proposed by the agrichemical manufacturers is new herbicide resistance shows that the sole objective of these seeds is and always has been, as we stated seven years ago,

“to control the immense market for primary agricultural inputs and toxic herbicides, of which all the companies want a slice…. Sales of the seed-herbicide technology package (with patent protection guaranteeing payment of royalties) represent the perfect tactic for holding onto the unprecedented power gained by made by agribusiness corporations over the last few decades”.14

- These new transgenics will translate into the application of millions of litres of herbicides even more toxic than glyphosate. Their appearance confirms that a war is being waged against peasants who continue to resist the incursions of agribusiness into their homelands. But this time the scale of the assault is reaching new levels of intensity.

- The five countries mentioned are among the world’s chief GE soy producers, with a combined total of over 80 million hectares under cultivation. Roundup Ready soy is a commodity crop intended mainly for animal feed and agrofuels; it makes little or no contribution to human nutrition. The new herbicide-resistant crops will only exacerbate this situation and worsen the coming food crises.

- The world’s regulatory agencies continue to act as rubber stamps for the technologies landing on their desks. They have been captured by the very corporate interests they are supposed to regulate and continue to base their decisions on insupportable concepts such as “substantial equivalence.” The various “biosafety” instruments that have been adopted are just the institutionalisation of these corporate interests, while public participation (where it exists) is a pro forma façade.

- Sustained resistance is growing in every country as the impacts of transgenic technologies are denounced and the fallacies that allowed for them to be rolled out are exposed. An ever-broadening range of sectors are raising their voices against GMOs.

- Ultimately, to study the history of how GMOs were forced upon us is to discover that we have come down the wrong road. The task now is for us to make the failure of this technology universally known, dismantle the corporate power that keeps it afloat, and embark on the road to food sovereignty, striding along with the small farmers who do the real job of feeding the world.

 Notes

1 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications: DAS44406-6, DAS68416-4, DAS68416-4 x MON89788, and DAS81419.

2 The events approved in Canada are the same ones

3 RAPAM, 2,4-D: Razones para su prohibición mundial. (pdf)

4 GRAIN, “The United Republic of Soybeans – Take Two,” 12 June 2013.

5 Núcleo de Estudos Agrários e Desenvolvimento Rural (NEAD), “Reavaliação toxicológica dos agrotóxicos a base de 2,4-diclorofenoxiacético (2,4-D),” submission to Ministério do Desenvolvimento Agrário, Brazil, 24 March 2014

6 Charles Benbrook, Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the U.S.: The First Sixteen Years, 28 September 2012.

7 Center for Food Safety, “Tell USDA to Reject ‘Agent Orange’ Soy,”

8 Biodiversidad en América Latina y el Caribe, “ACCIÓN URGENTE: Argentina a punto de aprobar nuevo transgénico resistente al 2,4D uno de los componentes de Agente Naranja,”, 10 October 2014.

9 CELMA, “Nuevo dictamen favorable de la CONABIA sobre soja tolerante al 2,4-D, glufosinato y glifosato de DowAgrosciences Argentina SA: impugnación del CELMA”, Biodiversidad, 4 January 2014.

10 RENACE et al, Conferencia de prensa: “¡No a la soja resistente al 2,4 D!”, Biodiversidad, 12 February 2014.

11 AS-PTA, “Brasil: MPF debate liberação de soja e milho resistentes a 2,4-D,” Biodiversidad en América Latina y el Caribe, 18 December 2013.

12 African Centre for Biodiversity et al, “Duras criticas al gobierno sudafricano por la aprobacion de la soja transgenica agente naranja“, Biodiversidad, 26 March 2013.

13 Direct seeding, conservation tillage, and no-till agriculture are synonyms for a cropping technique in which the soil is not plowed. Initially proposed as a soil conservation practice, it was commandeered for the implementation of herbicide-resistant crops.

14 GRAIN, “Más herbicidas para sostener lo insostenible“, 18 September 2007.

Israeli WMD Budget Revealed

June 4th, 2014 by Richard Silverstein

Haaretz is covering the war of words (or hand-to-hand combat) between the Israeli defense and treasury ministries over its budget.  There is a constant battle in which the defense ministry attempts to guilt and intimidate the political class into increasing the budget.  They do so with shrill warnings about having to cancel military drills and training and being unready to fight the next war–all because of bean counter politicians who won’t properly fund the nation’s security.

But this time the ministry has done something unprecedented.  It’s revealed for the first time ever the level of funding for Israel’s WMD program.  Until now it’s been a well-guarded secret, as is so much about the military-security apparatus.  Actually, it still is.  Because the ministry secretary general only revealed the $1.3-billion budgetary allocation was for “special projects.”  But my Israeli source informs me that this is a euphemism for Israel’s WMD program.  The allocation goes to research and development of Israel’s nuclear weapons program.  It constitutes 9% of Israel’s overall defense expenditures (which are nearly $15- billion, the IDF budget alone is nearly $7-billion).  Next year, the budget will rise by $250-million.  It appears Israel is getting its bang for its shekel, so to speak, as the U.S. spends 16% of its defense budget on WMD.

So you, my readers, are actually the first to know how much Israel spends creating weapons of mass destruction.  The source’s claim is further bolstered by the note in the article that points out that this funding is under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and not the defense ministry.  In Israel, all top-secret operations including the budgets of the Mossad, Shin Bet and WMD are retained by the PMO.  Speaking of the secret services, their budget is $1.9-billion and was increased by 10%.  Bibi showers special favors on those budgetary items under his special purviews and awards constant yearly raises.

You may recall I also was the first to report the identity of Israel’s WMD chief, Gen. Uri Oron.  This fortuitous incident occurred because an enterprising reporter visiting the Ministry of Defense noticed a secretary’s coffee list on the wall and took a cellphone picture of it, then aired it for all the world to see.  Though Oron’s name was blacked out online, when it was aired on live TV the name was clear as day.  Naturally, the reporter focussed his entire story on the issue of what beverages the generals like to drink and why their secretaries are serving them hand and foot; without noticing the huge story that fell right in his lap.

Returning to the budget wars, who loses out in this game of musical chairs?  The conventional army, the grunts in the infantry; those in the reserves.  Bibi likes all the shiny bells and whistles of high-tech warfare and cloak and dagger.  As for the down and dirty trench warfare of the infantry soldier–of that he’s not terribly fond.

Haaretz also notes the bloatedness of the military budget which retains tank and air force units (just as a few examples) using 30-40 year old weapons systems that went out of fashion years ago.  Despite the ineffectiveness of these units, the generals are loathe to decommission them for fear the public may see what the Emperor is wearing underneath his clothes.

On Tuesday, following his surprise Memorial Day visit to Bagram Air Force Base outside Kabul, President Obama announced that the United States plans to keep at least 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2016, further delaying the end of what he calls “America’s longest war.”

But in his remarks at the White House, the president didn’t say that the nearly 10,000 U.S. troops he’s asking to remain in an “advisory role” will be augmented by a huge army of private contractors. As they have in Iraq, contractors will vastly outnumber the U.S. uniformed forces training Afghan troops as well as the special operations forces providing counterterrorism operations against what the president called “the remnants of al-Qaida.”

The role of contractors in the Afghanistan war is spelled out in a document obtained by Salon from SAIC, one of the nation’s largest military and intelligence contractors. The document, an unclassified PowerPoint presentation, shows exactly how contractors have been used in that war since 2009, when Obama endorsed a surge of 33,000 troops and a counterinsurgency strategy in the war against the Taliban. Those policies increased the U.S. presence in Afghanistan to more than 100,000 troops.

One of the PowerPoint slides defines the four “mission areas” of the company’s five-year, $400 million contract with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which provides contracted services to other combat commands, special forces and other parts of the U.S. military. They are “Expeditionary Warfare; Irregular Warfare; Special Operations; Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations.”

There, in black and white, is proof positive of how deeply contractors have penetrated the U.S. war machine.

“We’ve already taken public functions and privatized them,” said Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was the chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell during the Bush administration, in a recent interview with Salon. “But this is an example of privatizing the ultimate public function, war.”

The PowerPoint was created by SAIC to help its subcontractors understand the Army’s needs in the contract, which was signed in 2010. The ARL, which is based in Adelphi, Maryland, just outside of Washington, provides the “underpinning science, technology, and analysis that enable full-spectrum operations” by the U.S. military, its website says.

According to SAIC, the ARL is the “execution agency in support of” all U.S. combatant commands, the United States Special Operations Command as well as the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, which funds much of the U.S. military’s high-tech wizardry. “It is an SAIC contract vehicle to support COCOMs, DARPA and SOF, yet it can and has gone beyond this market as approved by ARL,” one slide states. It adds: “SAIC staff is very well matched with ARL counterparts.”

An ARL spokesperson confirmed that the PowerPoint presentation was authentic. A spokesperson for SAIC, which recently changed the name of its national security division to Leidos, would not comment, and directed my questions to the Army.

In addition to SAIC, the “ARL III” contract has 11 primes and more than 180 subcontractors, according to a project manager for the project. The primes include such well-known providers of weapons and intelligence as Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and ManTech. Another major prime is General Atomics, which manufacturers the drones used extensively in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper (it tags its ads with the slogan “dwell, detect, destroy”).

The SAIC document was obtained from a source working for one of the subcontractors on the ARL project who asked that his identity, and the name of his employer, be kept secret. He also provided a copy of his company’s teaming agreement with SAIC for its work in Afghanistan with DARPA under the ARL contract. It states that

“the Army Research Laboratory is planning to issue a solicitation for classified work in support for DARPA requirements … The parties wish to establish a team arrangement in the form of a prime contractor/subcontractor relationship pursuant to which SAIC will act as the prime.”

Under the contract, the primes and their subcontractors provide typical technologies used by U.S. forces, including electronic and electro-optic equipment, systems integration software, energy generation and storage, as well as body armor and cold weather gear. But it also calls for contractors to provide software for “data analysis and intelligence tools,” as well as “individual and platform lethality.” The latter should be designed for “enhanced lethality, including accuracy, destructive capabilities, and speed of engagement for U.S. Army and USSOCOM individuals and platforms (air, land, sea).”

The contract ends in 2015, and “is being prepared now for recomplete,” the SAIC document says.

Using contractors to supply or enhance weapons is not unusual. But expeditionary warfare, stabilization and reconstruction operations, and intelligence services are tasks that most Americans believe are the sole job of the government or the military.

Thomas A. Moyer, ARL’s public affairs director, told me that those areas don’t fit the legal definition of “inherently governmental,” the term for functions reserved only for men and women in uniform or government employees. “These type [of] activities do not require either the exercise of discretion in applying government authority, or the making of value judgements in making decisions for the government,” he said in an email.

I passed this exchange by a former high-ranking general who served in Afghanistan and later worked as a U.S. diplomat. “That makes my eyes water,” he said. The companies involved in the ARL contract, he explained, represent “an entirely new set of actors” who have come to prominence during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the new plan for Afghanistan, which the president is outlining in a speech Wednesday at West Point, U.S. forces will no longer be involved in direct combat after 2015 with the exception of counterterrorism operations directed against the Taliban and remnants of al-Qaida. Those operations would undoubtedly be led by the U.S. Special Forces Command, which is expected to retain a large presence in Afghanistan long after the last regular troops have left.

And, clearly, thousands of contractors.

 

Tim Shorrock is the author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. You can follow his frequent postings on Twitter at @TimothyS

The struggle of Italian workers against unending job disparities in the Fiat Automotive company have come to a tense point as Sergio Marchionne has placed the final touches on his bid to leave Turin and relocate Fiat’s headquarters abroad in an effort to save the sinking company.

Among the many opinions voiced during this year’s May Day protests in Turin were calls to preserve one of Italy’s remaining industries that has long been the icon of Italian craftsmanship. Waves of layoffs by Marchionne in 2010 have caused rampant redundancies and harsh working conditions for laborers in the Mirafiore and Termini Imerese plants—six plants overall. The most recent protests have continued a long history of strikes and demonstrations against the Italian automaker in the fight to acquire better wages, treatment, job security, and working conditions.

Historically, workers of Fiat Motors have been battling with their employers since the Hot Autumn protests of 1969 over unfair treatment, disputes over productivity benchmarks, and the offshoring of production plants. In the latest installment of these protests, Marchionne, in defiance and frustration, began working towards internationalizing the company’s manufacturing and market shares, while at the same time, removing the threat of worker demands by completing the last 41.46% portion of his 4.5 billion dollar stake in Chrysler’s VEBA, a healthcare trust of the US United Auto Workers, which gave him full control over the Detroit-operated automotive company.

“The combination is expected to put Fiat in a strong position to compete with rivals such as Volkswagen, Toyota and General Motors. While Fiat’s main market is in Europe, Chrysler – the third biggest US carmaker after GM and Ford – now gives it a firm foothold in North America,” Deutsche Welle reports.

In recent years, economic austerity in Europe, rampant government corruption in Italy, and Sergio’s demands to raise productivity while ignoring the needs of Fiat’s workers has lead to serious disagreements between himself and Italian laborers.

When questioned about workers’ strikes in 2011, Marchionne commented,

“The strike is a very, very, very bad idea. You are telling someone who wants to invest in the country that you’re not willing to participate and you are trying to impose conditions on the investments which you can’t control.”

He alludes to the corruption under the Berlusconi administration, which has severely undermined his attempts to improve Fiat, and has openly criticized the Italian ex-Prime Minister’s irresponsible actions and negative impact on Italy’s economic progress. “The company has lost its international sense, the compass has been lost, someone opened the gates of the zoo and they’ve all got out […] It’s difficult to go around the world and explain what’s happening in Italy. It’s shameful,” he expressed in a June 3rd article from The Scotsman.

Marchionne, in an effort to circumvent the rising cost of labor, low productivity, logistics obstacles, and dwindling profits in Europe due to the economic crisis, has decided to turn towards new horizons in the Far East and West to boost the company’s earnings and long-term profits. In an article by the Daily Mail, he expressed that by completing the merger between Chrysler and Fiat under the name Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, he could increase production to 6 million units a year, giving him an advantage in pushing the company’s brand name overseas.

While noble, he fails to mention the plethora of benefits he stands to make by signing away the Turin-based headquarters to London, Amsterdam and Detroit. This has been done in a hasty move to expand the market shares of Fiat to North America and Asia, which has been responded to with mixed results from board members and investors.

On May 7th, just shortly after the May Day protests, Marchionne was faced with a series of obstacles to his ambitious plans after failing to explain how he would generate enough capital investment. In an attempt to circumvent heavily bureaucratic Italian labor laws and economic mismanagement, as well as to cash in on Fiat’s 100% shares of Chrysler Motors, up from 60% in 2009, his risky attempt to move Fiat’s production base to Detroit was met with opposition and skepticism.

His relocation to Detroit—an industrial wasteland that recently planned to shut off half of its streetlights due to a lack of funds—raised questions about his motivations for relocating and his long-term ambitions for Fiat Motors. After giving a presentation to investors, Reuters journalists reportedthat “trading was briefly suspended after the shares tumbled more than 9 percent, before resuming their decline to close almost 12 percent lower at 7.48 euros, with investors still digesting Tuesday’s strategy presentation in Detroit.”

“Fiat’s massive plan, and the necessary capital expenditure and R&D, simply do not look affordable or prudent,” said Max Warburton of Bernstein Research. Calling its financial targets “enormously optimistic”, Warburton said: “Fiat would do everyone a favor, including its employees, management and shareholders, by raising capital.”

A lesser reported, but equally important speculation of Marchionne’s move would be to gain exposure to the American derivatives market and the temptation to engage in high frequency trading. A January 23rd Bloomberg article highlighted that he had decided to move Fiat’s financial home base to London and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which would help him to quickly resolve his borrowing demands.

“Ultimately, it’s a very rational decision,” said Erich Hauser, a London-based automotive analyst at International Strategy & Investment Group. “Going to the U.S. is reflective to the reality of this business and, ultimately, in the best interest when it comes to borrowing” needs.

In the same article, Christopher Kummer, president of the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances at Webster University in Vienna, also observed “A listing in the U.S. makes sense, as this allows more flexibility to attract some institutional investors there. Setting it up in the U.K. however is a very unusual choice. With that regard, I would have looked at other more favorable locations.”

The “unusual choice” that Kummer speaks of is Marchionne’s complicated decision to create a UK tax base and concomitant placement on the NYSE in order to utilize new financial instruments for risk management and short term, albeit risky profits. His new affiliation with the UK-based London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE), which merged with the Intercontinential Exchange (ICE) in 2013, may also help the CEO to get around regulations imposed by the European Securities and Markets Authority, which has been granted authority to monitor over-the-counter derivatives’ transactions in order to prevent another financial disaster such as the one behind the Lehman Brothers in 2008.

However, Fiat’s placement on the NYSE and the ICE will also expose the company to the “dark pools” market of covert high frequency trading, which has plagued the stock platform since the 1980s. An article on The Economist specifically details the advantages gained by moving the NYSE from a ticket-and-shouting match system to that of electronic trading with ICE.

“Adding to the indignity of the NYSE’s lost independence is the broadly held belief that ICE bought it not for the NYSE itself but for another exchange it owns, LIFFE, which has a large share of the market in European derivative contracts. It also profits from a licence to issue derivatives tied to MSCI share indices, and may soon offer products tied to LIBOR, a benchmark interest rate that is to be administered by another division of ICE”, the article mentions.

Sergio’s decision to trade on the NYSE will also grant his shareholders access to even faster technological infrastructures that will allow trade at some of the world’s quickest speeds. This could make Fiat more attractive to investors on the NYSE by allowing them to make wild profits from hedging mechanisms at faster-than-light processing speeds, and by giving him and his buyers an advantage over European markets while simultaneously providing additional support to his future ambitions to work with Eurasian and Chinese markets.

In an article by Sebastian Anthony, he explains how these new technologies could benefit those wishing to participate in high frequency trading (HFS).

“Anova, a company that specializes in deploying low-latency networks for stock trading, is completing an ultra-high-speed laser network between the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the NASDAQ. The link will be just a few nanoseconds faster than the current microwave and fiber-optic links — but in the world of high-frequency trading (HFT), those nanoseconds could result in millions of dollars in profits for the trading companies. Such is the insanity of the stock markets; such is the unbelievable capacity of HFT to create money out of almost nothing.”

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne must realize that by abandoning Italy and setting sail for North America and China, he risks a twofold consequence: alienating the rich tradition of Fiat workers and manufacturers, risking penetration into an already saturated market, an financially unstable production base in Detroit, and uncertain returns even at his target rate of 6 million units per year. His ambitions have placed him at odds with investors, the austere global market, the obscure derivatives market, and most grievously, the Italian people that helped him and previous CEOs build the company from the ground up. To be fair, all of these factors must be accounted for if he wants to reap the rewards of Fiat’s expansion, and there are no shortcuts to this success, monetary or otherwise.

 Haneul Na’avi is one of the founders, writers, and radio hosts for the blog “The Last Defense”. He has studied his BA and MA in English Literature, and while living in China and South Korea for the last six years, he briefly studied Middle East and African Politics at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea, and Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. While there, his interests in politics and social movements peaked after the Arab Spring revolutions in March 2011, which lead to the discussion that lead to the creation of the blog.

By Phil Weiss with Scott Roth

Last week Michael Bloomberg, the former NY mayor who owns a media empire, visited Israel to accept a prize, and met with an old friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu later described Bloomberg’s devotion to Israel, funding medical facilities in memory of his parents, though he also hinted that the two men had privately disagreed. According to New York Times coverage on the weekend, Bloomberg “called the growing international movement for a boycott against Israel ‘an outrage’ that is ‘totally misplaced,’ but ducked a question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Maybe because Bloomberg’s operation in Dubai is a cash cow.

Matt Winkler of Bloomberg News, at Zillow.comMatt Winkler of Bloomberg News, at Zillow.com

What follows are leaked excerpts of two news memos to Bloomberg writers and reporters on how to treat the Israel/Palestine conflict. You will see that Palestine just doesn’t count in the world of Bloomberg News. “There is no such country.” It’s part of Israel, or it’s Jewish land: “The land historically belonged to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.”

I am told these notes were sent out by Matt Winkler, a veteran editor who co-founded Bloomberg News, directs the Bloomberg editorial staff, and ghosted Bloomberg’s memoir.

The more recent Bloomberg memo describes the land as historically Jewish and sees the West Bank in part as Israel.

MARCH 5, 2010

…PALESTINE

Palestine signifies different territory in different contexts. The land historically belonged to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Palestine represented the area west of the Jordan River
that was a British mandate from the 1920s until the creation of modern Israel in 1948.
Today, Palestine includes parts of Israel and Jordan. Use Palestine in the context of geography, not as a substitute for the Palestinian Authority, Palestine Liberation Organization or any other political body.

The earlier Bloomberg memo says there “is no such country” as Palestine.

MAY 16, 2002

Avoid referring to Palestine, as in “Israel’s incursion into Palestine,” because there is no such country. Instead, describe the occupied areas by their names, as in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Palestinian people or Palestine Authority is OK.

Someone who knows how Bloomberg works explains the significance of the memos:

The company pursues a very diligent and precise approach to its coverage globally, chastising journalists where they express any personal opinions or any remote sense of subjectivity. Those rules are not always adhered to when it comes to the coverage of Israel and the occupation of Palestinians. In fact very often they are completely ignored. When Hezballah and Hamas are mentioned they are always qualified as being considered terrorist organizations by the US. Hamas is rarely described as democratically elected, and rarely does Bloomberg use the word occupation.

Writes Scott Roth:

It seems like an attempt to avoid using the term Palestine in any way that would signify that it ought to be or can be a country on its own. In ’02 the policy was to call Palestine the WB and or Gaza. The ’10 directive is even stranger. It looks like something out of an AIPAC primer. The land historically belonged to ancient Israel and Judah? It also belonged to a lot of other people. Plus no reference to partition, ’48, ’67 occupation or millions of human beings living under Israel’s boot that have no vote.

 

On Friday May 30, just a few days before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced details of its carbon rule proposal, the Obama Administration awarded offshore oil leases to ExxonMobil in an area of the Gulf of Mexico potentially containing over 172 million barrels of oil.

The U.S. Department of Interior‘s (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proclaimed in a May 30 press release that the ExxonMobil offshore oil lease is part of “President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production.”

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell formerly worked as a petroleum engineer for Mobil, purchased as a wholly-owned subsidiary by Exxon in 1998.

Dubbed a “Private Empire” by investigative reporter Steve Coll, ExxonMobil will now have access to oil and gas in the Alaminos Canyon Area, located 170 miles east of Port Isabel, Texas. Port Isabel borders spring break and tourist hot spot South Padre Island.

Map Credit: U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

ExxonMobil originally won the three leases at the Western Planning Area Sale 233, held on March 19. BOEM records show ExxonMobil was the only company to participate in the bid and paid over $21.3 million.

Transboundary Agreement Opens Floodgates

The U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement signed into law by President Obama on December 23, 2013 — a key precursor to the ongoing debate over Mexico’s oil and gas industry reforms — served as the legal backdrop for BOEM awarding ExxonMobil with the lease.

“With the Agreement now in full force, we can make additional oil and gas along the resource-rich boundary between the United States and Mexico available and we have a clear process by which both governments can provide the necessary oversight to ensure exploration and development activities are conducted safely and responsibly,” Secretary Jewell said in a press release.

“These leases represent a significant step forward in U.S.-Mexico cooperation in energy production and pave the way for future energy and environmental collaboration.”

Over 1.5 million offshore acres opened for business as a result of the Transboundary Agreement.

Through the Agreement, U.S. companies agreed to develop the area jointly with Mexican state-owned company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Mexico’s legislature is now debating the details of secondary legislation, coming after the country signed constitutional amendments in December 2013. The constitutional amendments-secondary legislation one-two punch will open up the rest of Mexico’s onshore and offshore oil and gas reserves to international oil and gas companies, working in partnership with Pemex.

Image Credit: Manhattan Institute

According to a May 6 article appearing in Upstream Online, the legislature will open up an “extraordinary session” to debate the secondary legislation sometime this month.

“Five Year Program”

Beyond the Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement, in February the Obama Administration announced it would be opening up over 40 million acres of offshore land for oil and gas development, also doing so under the “all-of-the-above” banner.

“These lease sales underscore the President’s commitment to create jobs through the safe and responsible exploration and development of the Nation’s domestic energy resources,” Secretary Jewell said in a press release at the time.

“The Five Year Program reflects this Administration’s determination to facilitate the orderly development while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments, and ensuring a fair return to American taxpayers.”

“Stove Pipe” Energy Policy

Not everyone is confident about the Obama Administration’s ability “to facilitate the orderly development while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments,” though, particularly given the climate change and ecological impacts of offshore drilling.

And that’s to say nothing about the myriad shortcomings of the EPA carbon rule itself, which an article in Bloomberg Businessweek jovially described as doing “the power industry a big favor.”

“The Obama Administration has had a problem of stove-pipe energy policy: announcing separate, often competing policies when it comes to reducing emissions,” Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen‘s energy program, told DeSmogBlog.

President Obama has stated his strategic doctrine at West Point. In his speech, he reiterated the military omnipotence of the United States, while it is technically surpassed by both Russia and China. Unable to cope with Moscow, he glossed over the loss of the Crimea in silence and instead designated the only worthy enemy: the tactics of terrorism.

While al-Qaeda camps are located in countries under occupation by NATO or NATO members, he announced a comprehensive program to combat them. Finally, he reiterated his support for the “Syrian opposition” and promised that he would not fail to bring them help… when he gets Congressional approval.

The United States is henceforth only an “indispensable nation” in President Obama’s discourse.

On May 28th, President Obama delivered an important speech stating his strategic doctrine on the occasion of the graduation of cadets of the Military Academy at West Point. [1]

JPEG - 21.2 kbNot surprisingly, the President recalled that he kept his promise to repatriate US troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to eliminate Osama bin Laden. But what he portrayed as a supposedly laudatory assessment is not one: the GIs returned exhausted from Afghanistan and have fled Iraq before being expelled by the popular resistance. The exorbitant cost of these expeditions, over 1,000 billion, has prevented the Pentagon from maintaining its arsenal. About the death of bin Laden, it is naught but a fairy tale: Osama Bin Laden had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11th and died of illness and was buried in December 2001, as has well certified the British MI6. [2]

One can only admire the US ability to continue this narration of an imaginary reality, however contradicted by solid evidence, and to always be echoed by the Atlanticist media.

In his speech, the president described his country as “the indispensable nation”, both militarily and economically the most powerful. Yet neither of these assertions is still true. On May 14th, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged before the Atlantic Council that US armed forces would definitely be surpassed in 10 years if a huge upgrade effort were not made right away [3] ; an unlikely effort given budgetary restrictions. The Pentagon notes that the gap in military research is probably irreversible. Russian and Chinese Military technology are now more developed than those of the United States. It is too late to recover. The apparent superiority of Washington holds only because its troops are the only ones deployed worldwide. It therefore exists in certain theaters of operation, but not against Russia, nor against China, which would win in World War. As for the economy, the majority of consumer goods consumed in the U.S. is made in China.

On this spooky basis, in the words of the Washington Post refering only to the relative military weakness of the United States [4], President Obama announced that his country would not hesitate to intervene abroad when its direct interests are involved, but would use international coalitions to address more distant problems. He said that, unlike during the Cold War, Russia no longer posed an imminent danger, but that the main enemy is terrorism.

So the accession of the Crimea to Russia doesn’t matter. Washington will not fight against it though it describes it as an “annexation” and a grave breach of international law, not hesitating to compare President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.

Especially after 13 years of “war against terrorism”, Washington claims to have eliminated a few fanatics who composed the international leadership of Al Qaeda, but must now face a more serious problem : many affiliated al-Qaeda groups which have formed almost everywhere in the world.

This “war without end” has the advantage of authorizing everything. Presenting itself since 2001 as acting in self-defense, Washington has authorized itself to violate the sovereignty of other states in order to remove or bombard them, using blackmail at will. To continue this war, President Obama announced the creation of a “counterterrorism partnerships fund,” of up to $ 5 billion. It will aim to train security forces in allied states. Who can believe in such a program? Currently terrorists are trained in the more permanent camps of Al Qaeda, located in the Libyan desert country occupied by NATO. Meanwhile three Al Qaeda camps are installed in Şanlıurfa, Osmaniye and Karaman, Turkey, a NATO member [5] country.

Syrians remember the televised confessions of the Emir of Al- Nosra Front (affiliated to Al-Qaeda) who transported chemical missiles from a Turkish military base to Damascus Ghouta. According to this man, not only were the weapons provided to him by a member of the NATO army, but the order to use them under “false- flag” to justify the bombing of Syria by the United States came from the US.

13 years after the events of September 11, 2001, who can still believe that Al-Qaeda is the main enemy of the “indispensable nation”, when even Barack Obama described the elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda as “less capable” than their parent organisation in his speech at the national Defense University, May 28, 2013 ? [6]. He said that the danger had become relative and that the United States should no longer make it the priority.

About Syria, President Obama continued at West Point by stating intentions to “help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people” ( sic). That is why Washington will help “those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future” (read: not the Syrians themselves who vote to elect their president, but only those who are willing to collaborate with a colonial government made in NATO).

Moreover, why intervene only in Syria? Because “As the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases. ” In other words, after burning Syria, the United States could be affected by the fire they have lit.

“We will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan and Lebanon; Turkey and Iraq — as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis, and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share to support the Syrian people,” he said.

In other words, the White House is having talks with Congress on how to support the personal ambitions of members of the National Coalition. According to press reports, Washington could provide military training in neighboring states and distribute better weapons. Only here’s the rub:

If Washington starts to train and arm Syrian collaborators, it will have to admit to not having done so on a large scale before and having used primarily foreign mercenaries as part of Al-Qaeda.

If 250,000 mercenary jihadists were unable to overthrow the Syrian government over the past three years, how will a few thousand Employees of Western colonization succeed?

Why would neighboring states, already engaged in a secret war, enter into an open war against Syria, with the risks involved for them?

JPEG - 39.8 kb

Which more sophisticated weapons could be delivered to the employees of colonialism without the risk of their being used someday against other targets, including Israeli air superiority?

And last, but not least, knowing that all this has been discussed over the past three years, what new factor could lead one to believe that these isuues could find a solution today?

Obama’s speech is one of impotence : he boasts of having withdrawn his troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and killing a ghost that, for the past decade, still existed only in the tapes of Al-Jazeera. He announces he would fight the terrorism that everywhere he protects. He declares he will support the “Syrian opposition” more effectively, but immediately tunes into Congress – which could not see bombing the country during the chemical weapons crisis -, confident that it will limit itself to the minimum.

The new West Point Military Academy graduates did not give a standing ovation to President Obama.

This speech is only a facade of verbiage trying to hide an irreversible decline. He stunned the audience which understood dreams of conquest are at an end. Against all odds, less than a quarter of the 1064 graduates of the Military Academy at West Point applauded the president, while the majority remained unmoved. The Empire is slowly dying.

Translation
Roger Lagassé

Source
Al-Watan (Syria)

[1] “Remarks by Barack Obama at West Point Academy”, by Barack Obama, Voltaire Network, 28 May 2014.

[2] “Reflections on the official announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 8 May 2011.

[3] “The Pentagon adopts the “2, 2, 2, 1″” Alfredo Jalife – Rahme, Translation Arnaud Bréart , La Jornada/Voltaire Network, 27 May 2014.

[4] “President Obama ’s foreign policy is based on fantasy“, editorial writing in the Washington Post, March 2, 2014.

[5] “Israeli general says al Qaeda ’s Syria fighters set up in Turkey,” by Dan Williams, Reuters, January 29, 2014. « Lettre ouverte aux Européens coincés derrière le rideau de fer israélo-US », par Hassan Hamadé, Réseau Voltaire, 21 mai 2014.

[6] “Barack Obama on the Future of Fight Against Terrorism”, by Barack Obama, Voltaire Network, 23 May 2013.

Vermont is set to make history by becoming the first state in the country to require genetically modified (GMO) food to be labeled. But Monsanto, the world’s largest GMO producer, is gearing up to sue the state.

This is an important fight, not just for Vermont, but for everyone in the country: 25 other states are considering similar labeling laws, but are waiting for someone else to take the leap for their own laws to go into effect. If Vermont wins, it might not be long until the entire country mandates GMO labeling, giving consumers the information to make their own choices.

We can’t let Vermont lose this battle. Let’s stop Monsanto before it can even get started:

Tell Monsanto: Don’t sue Vermont for its decision to label GMO foods.

Monsanto is making outlandish claims in protest, including one that a labeling requirement would be a violation to the company’s freedom of speech. It’s ready to put its corporate muscles to work to thump the state’s decision, just as it has before: It recently successfully conspired with DuPoint and Kraft Foods to grossly outspend and defeat supporters of similar laws in California and Washington.

There’s lots of discussion about what the long-term effects of GMOs might be, but one thing should be above debate: Consumers should have the right to know what they’re eating and what they’re feeding their kids.

Monsanto: We won’t let you sue Vermont.

President Barack Obama unveiled in Poland Tuesday a new $1 billion initiative aimed at ratcheting up NATO’s military encirclement of Russia and preparing for a direct armed conflict between the two nuclear-armed powers.

The four-day trip to Europe, which is to include meetings with representatives from throughout eastern Europe as well as with the president-elect of Ukraine, the “chocolate king,” Petro Poroshenko, came amid a bloody escalation of the Ukrainian regime’s “antiterrorist operation” against the populations in the east of the country.

On Monday, Ukrainian warplanes carried out air strikes in the center of Luhansk, a city of nearly half a million near the Russian border. What are believed to have been cluster bombs were dropped directly on the regional administration building, killing at least eight civilians and wounding 28 others, many of them critically. Among the dead was Natalya Arkhipova, the public health minister of the Luhansk People’s Republic, which was proclaimed following an autonomy referendum last month. When the warplanes struck, she was at the building’s entrance speaking to another woman, who was also killed.

This is only one of the more bloody actions in a growing number of atrocities, as the Ukrainian regime has unleashed warplanes, heavy artillery, mortar fire and assaults by thugs of the fascist Right Sector against the population in the east. Schools, hospitals and residential areas have all been severely damaged by indiscriminate bombardment directed at terrorizing entire regions where opposition to the regime installed by the US-backed and fascist-led coup last February has only increased since the May 25 election of the billionaire oligarch Poroshenko.

In Poland, Obama provocatively combined a threat of new sanctions and an ultimatum to the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin to order those resisting the onslaught by Kiev regime forces and Right Sector fascists to “stand down” with the unveiling of a $1 billion program aimed at increasing US and NATO military deployments on Russia’s border and providing new military aid to Ukraine.

The funding is intended to pay for a constant rotation into the region of US land, air and ground forces. This has already begun, with the deployment of a detachment of 18 US F-16 fighter planes, which Obama visited on Tuesday, as well as some 600 US paratroopers, who have been sent into Poland and the former Soviet Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“We’ll increase the number of American personnel—Army and Air Force units—continuously rotating through allied countries in Central and Eastern Europe,” Obama said during a joint press conference with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. “ And we will be stepping up our partnerships with friends like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as they provide for their own defense.”

Like Ukraine, there are sharp tensions between Moscow and Moldova and Georgia, where ethnic Russian regions have established breakaway states—Transnistria in the case of Moldova, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the case of Georgia.

Pouring US military aid into these regions can only serve to provoke a confrontation with Russia, which, it is becoming increasingly apparent, is Washington’s aim.

Dubbed the European Reassurance Initiative, this stepped-up aid is to be accompanied, according to a White House statement, with a review of US “force presence in Europe in the light of the new security challenges on the continent.” The statement further vowed that a military buildup in eastern Europe would “not come at the expense of other defense priorities, such as our commitment to the Asia Pacific rebalance.”

In other words, the Obama administration is embarking on a reckless drive to encircle and militarily intimidate Russia and China simultaneously.

Speaking in Warsaw’s Belweder Palace Tuesday, Obama also said that the $1 billion program would be used by the US to “preposition more equipment in Europe” in preparation for military conflict.

Parallel to Obama’s European tour, NATO defense ministers began a two-day conference in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss military measures aimed against Russia. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel used the meeting to pressure European NATO members to launch a major buildup of their own military forces. Most NATO member countries have failed to meet an agreed target of spending 2 percent of their economic output on their military forces, and a number have cut spending in response to the economic crisis that has gripped Europe since 2008-2009.

Inadequate military spending, Hagel warned the European ministers, posed “as much of a threat to the alliance as any potential adversary.”

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Alexander Grushko, warned that if it is “additional deployment of substantial NATO combat forces in central and eastern Europe that’s on the agenda—and we can hear calls to that effect—we will struggle to view such deployments, even if they are based on rotation, as anything other than a direct departure from commitments in the fundamental Russia-NATO documents.”

In a joint statement, Grushko and Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, called NATO’s ongoing buildup near Russia’s borders “unprecedented and excessive.” They warned, “NATO should realize that, if it embarks on that path, it can hardly expect Russia to reciprocate with ‘restraint’ in deployments of force.”

In the context of the escalating tensions provoked by Washington in both eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the Reuters news agency published an ominous article Tuesday entitled “West ponders how to stop—or fight—a new Great War.”

“After more than a decade focused on combating Islamist militancy, Western military planners are once again contemplating potential war between major powers,” the article began.

It cites Obama’s warning in his foreign policy speech at West Point last week that “Regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea or anywhere else in the world, will ultimately impact our allies and could draw in our military.”

The article adds, “One hundred years after the start of World War One, books on the period have become increasingly popular in Washington, Whitehall and NATO headquarters in Brussels, current and former officials say, and not purely for their historical interest.”

It continues: “As in 1914, no one really knows what a modern great war would be like. While much military thinking assumes conflict would remain conventional, nuclear powers have kept their atomic war planning up to date, maintaining target lists for mutually assured destruction, current and former officials say.”

It quotes an unnamed senior Western official as stating: “We are in uncharted territory. It means…reconstituting high end fighting skills and properly thought out doctrine for both conventional and nuclear deterrence.”

June 3 was historic. It was Syria’s first ever free, fair, open democratic presidential election.

Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar competed with Assad. He’s overwhelmingly popular.

He’ll win easily. Only his victory margin remains to be determined.

Syrians want no one else leading them. Especially while conflict continues. He’s fighting for Syrian freedom. He’s defeating Obama’s dirty game.

On Tuesday, 9,601 polling stations opened at 7:00AM. Heavy turnout kept them open until midnight. To accommodate everyone wanting to vote.

Syrians in hot zones voted in safe areas. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported “massive” turnout.

A Syrian Presidential Facebook posting said:

“Syrians, who are always up to the expectations, prove day after day their commitment to the culture of life, hope and challenge in the face of the culture of death, terrorism and closeness.”

They’re committed to preserving Syrian sovereignty, it added. Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem issued a statement, saying:

“No one grants legitimacy except the Syrian people. The Syrians register today their free will in democratic, transparent elections to elect who will lead them” for the next seven years.

They alone are enfranchised. “No one can impose (their) will on the Syrian people.”

Assad and his wife Asma voted at a school near his Damascus presidential residence. Hajjar cast his ballot in Salhiya Quarter’s parliament palace.

Al-Nuri voted at a Sheraton Hotel polling station. He commented, saying:

“Syria is becoming a different country where pluralism is taking root and a different opinion gets acceptable.”

Results won’t be announced until all ballots are counted. According to Supreme Judicial Committee for Elections head Hisham al-Shaar:

No exit polls were taken. “Preliminary and final results will be announced simultaneously. No tentative results will be made public.”

Thirty Syrian friendly countries sent monitors. Russian upper house Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation First Deputy Chairman Alexei Alexandrov said:

“We have no doubts about the legitimacy of these polls.”

“Syria does everything to get aligned with the world’s democratic law-governed states.”

“There are no doubts that (Assad) was confronted by serious politicians who had every ground to expect a realistic win.”

“It is obvious that (he) enjoys special prestige, and the people’s love for him is felt.”

“From legal and objective points of view, the elections (were) held impeccably.”

“The existing minor reproaches will not influence the final results.”

Electoral commission member Ridvan Asan said:

“Turnout of voters has been high. Polling has been held in an open and honest manner.”

Itar Tass correspondents visited 15 Damascus polling stations.

They witnessed unimpeded voting. The process was open, free and fair, they said.

Armed militants’ attempts to disrupt things failed. Millions of Syrians wanting to live free foiled them.

One voter perhaps spoke for others, saying:

“Three years of struggle against Saudis and Qatar have not subdued us. They did not even dream of democracy of ours.”

Another said “(t)hree years of war have not broken us. We’re voting for the future.”

A Damascus resident called voting “our duty. We can’t allow people from outside to decide for us,” he said.

“Our duty is to vote to protect our country.” According to another Damascus resident:

“Even if there are mortar bombs like the terrorists promise us, we’ll go and vote for Bashar Assad. This is our right.”

Al-Watan Waddah editor-in-chief Abed Rabbo said no one but Assad can restore peace and stability.

“People…will vote for the person who will bring them” what they most value. And best “prospects for the future.”

Syrians know Assad. They respect him. They’ll elect him overwhelmingly. By a 70% majority or higher.

Syrian expats voted on May 28. Tens of thousands of Lebanese refugees turned out.

Up to an estimated 100,000. Beirut’s Syrian embassy extended voting hours to accommodate them.

Washington pressure got France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and other countries to prevent Syrian expats from voting.

They endorsed sham Ukrainian and Egyptian elections. They denounced Syria’s model democratic process.

It didn’t deter millions of Syrians from exercising their democratic franchise. Or millions more abroad.

Western reporters in Lebanon and elsewhere were amazed. Long lines queued for hours. In countries far off as Brazil.

Overwhelmingly supporting Assad. Expressing it publicly. They want him alone representing them.

AP said he has “significant support among large sections of the population, particularly among Christians, Alawites and other religious minorities.”

In Lebanon, “(t)ens of thousands of Assad supporters flocked to cast ballots at the hilltop embassy in Yarze, a town Southeast of” Beirut.

“The ensuing chaos snarled traffic, trapping schoolchildren in buses for hours and forcing some schools to cancel scheduled exams.”

Voters began arriving pre-dawn. Some on backs of pickup trucks. Others in cars and buses.

Traffic was heavy. Some people abandoned cars. They walked several kilometers to polling stations.

They queued for hours in Iraq, Iran and some European countries. Qatar supports Obama’s war on Syria.

It owns and operates Al Jazeera. It reported what couldn’t be denied.

May 28 “was not an ordinary voting day,” it said. “It was a parade of Syrians celebrating their embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, and expressing support for him.”

“Since early morning, tens of thousands of Syrians flocked to the heavily fortified area surrounding the Syrian embassy in Lebanon as expatriate voting began ahead of the June 3 presidential election.”

“(T)his was the most visible mass gathering the country has witnessed in the past few years and possibly, the largest-ever gathering of Syrians outside their country.”

People came from everywhere. “Photos of Assad were plastered on cars and minibuses, national flags and t-shirts.”

“Chanting for Assad broke out periodically on the highway, in front of the embassy and even in the polling room.”

Voters said “God, Syria, Bashar only.”

Reuters said  ”refugees waved flags and held pictures of Bashar al-Assad as they crushed into Damascus’s embassy in Lebanon…to join Syrians worldwide voting early in an election that looks certain to give him a third seven-year term as president.”

“Several countries that oppose Assad, including France, have blocked the voting but Syrian government media said people were still able to participate in many countries.”

“In Lebanon, which holds a million Syrians – most of them refugees – citizens were driven to the Syrian embassy in Beirut.”

“Their buses blocked one of Beirut’s three main highways and men and women waved Syria’s flag and held up pictures of Assad.”

On June 3, Reuters said Syrians are “expected to deliver an overwhelming victory for President Bashar al-Assad.”

“State television showed long queues of people waiting to vote at polling stations…as well as crowds waving flags and portraits of the president.”

“(N)either of Assad’s rivals…enjoys much support.”

Washington reacted as expected. Assistant State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf repeated one Big Lie after another.

She called Syria’s model democratic process “a disgrace.” She ludicrously said Assad “has no more credibility today than he did yesterday.”

“Elections should be an opportunity for the people of a free society to be consulted and to play an important role in choosing their leaders,” she said.

“Instead, such a process was inconceivable today in Syria, where the regime continued to reject the courageous calls for freedom and dignity that started more than three years ago.”

“It intentionally denied millions of Syrians the right to vote and continued to massacre the very electorate it purports to represent and protect.”

It bears repeating. Syria’s election was open, free and fair. It mocked America’s sham process.

As quoted above, Russian monitor Alexei Alexandrov said:

“We have no doubts about the legitimacy of these polls.”

“Syria does everything to get aligned with the world’s democratic law-governed states.”

“It is obvious that Assad enjoys special prestige, and the people’s love for him is felt.”

“From legal and objective points of view, the elections (were) held impeccably.”

Final results will be announced once all ballots are counted.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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The newly elected president of western Ukraine is deepening the disastrous course to civil war of his interim predecessor. Within hours of his election on May 25, Petro Poroshenko ordered jet fighters, helicopter gunships, artillery and snipers to back fascist stormtroopers from western Ukraine in attacking the airport and surrounding neighbourhoods in Donetsk in the east, the country’s fifth-largest city.

Ukraine troops and fighter aircraft launch attacks on rebellious eastern Ukraine.

Right-wing militias and army units also resumed shelling of the city of Slavyansk following the election. It lies north of Donetsk. Among the targets struck by the shelling were a primary school, a children’s hospital and houses. The Associated Press reported:

“In recent days, Ukrainian troops have been using mortars to try to retake Slavyansk, causing civilian casualties and prompting some residents to flee. The tactic has produced few immediate results other than deepening distrust toward the government in the city and instilling general fear.

“’They are shooting at us from grenade launchers. We hear explosions. The windows of our house are shaking,’ said Olga Mikhailova, who said she was leaving Slavyansk for the safety of her family. ‘I have four children. It is terrifying being here, because I am afraid for their lives’.”

The assault in Donetsk aimed to dislodge self-defence forces that had earlier secured the airport. Fighting lasted several days. Dozens of self-defence fighters and local citizenry died in the attack.

Casualties on the attacking side were not reported in most western media. Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, told the New York Times, “Our losses are serious. But our opponents’ losses are not less, and maybe even more.”

Attack On Their Homeland

At the bus station near the airport during the attack, locals voiced their anger at the Kyiv regime for what they called a military attack on their homeland. “They call us terrorists but they are the ones who have come to our home, our land, to fight,” said Vadim Voit, a driver. He took part in a battle against Ukrainian soldiers last week in Volnovakha, south of Donetsk.

“Kiev is just not listening to us,” he said. “We can’t make peace with them now.”

A new escalation occurred on June 2 with a bombing attack by fighter aircraft on the central administrative building in the city of Luhansk. Russia Today reports five deaths and many injured.

The attack followed heavy fighting in the early morning at a nearby border control complex that pro-autonomy rebel fighters tried to seize. Kyiv used fighter aircraft to defend the complex. Luhansk lies 20 kilometers from the Russian border.

A commenter to a Russia news service site wrote,

“I’d be curious to find out who are the pilots doing this. A few months ago, there were a lot of reports on how underfunded was Ukraine’s military – only a few planes, no trained pilots, no fuel or ammunition. Now they seem to have everything. Somehow I seriously doubt those pilots are Ukrainian, I am guessing Polish, maybe Georgian.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 25,

“In Crimea, the Russian invasion captured a large part of Ukraine’s air force and most of its navy without a fight. Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said Ukraine’s prime minister told the group that ‘we don’t have anything that floats, flies or runs’.” [Note: The captured military equipment was returned by Russia to Ukraine. Source.]

Civil War Course of Kyiv Regime

Attacks against Slavyansk have been going on for many weeks. Kyiv regime forces suffered a heavy blow on May 29 when a helicopter carrying General Serhiy Kulchytskiy and 12 or 14 soldiers was shot down outside the city and all its occupants died. Kulchytsky was the head of training of Kyiv’s National Guard. That’s the stormtrooper force created in the wake of the secession of Crimea from Ukraine in March. It is composed of volunteers from right-wing and fascist political movements across Ukraine.

The formation of the National Guard has been prompted by the refusal of many soldiers in Ukraine’s conscript army to fire on fellow citizens. Since the beginning of Kyiv’s assaults in eastern Ukraine in April, there have been frequent reports of mutinies and other forms of refusal by army conscripts to fire on citizens. The frequency of soldier rebellions is growing.

In a news report on Sky TV in the UK, a leader of one of the shocktroop units said that once his forces have completed their murderous rampage in the east, they will carry their “revolution” back to Kyiv and “clear out” the government there.

Compulsory military service was ended in Ukraine 2013 but reinstated in May of this year. Following Crimea’s secession, many Ukraine army and navy personnel stayed in the region and joined the Russian armed forces.

May 22 was a very bad day for Ukraine soldiers. Residents in the adjoining towns of Rubizhne and Novodruzhesk mobilized to repel an incursion by an army unit that was poorly advised and led. At least nine people died on both sides and many were wounded.

On the same day, 16 soldiers were killed near Volnovakha, in what was widely reported as a case of friendly fire. Thirteen others died in fighting at Olginka, north of Donetsk.

Poroshenko has continued the inflammatory rhetoric of his predecessor, terming the broad movement for autonomy in eastern Ukraine as “terrorist” and saying he does not recognize the plebiscite vote in the Crimea Peninsula region in March that saw the region secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

The business tycoon has affirmed that he wants to sign an economic agreement with the European Union that would devastate the country’s industry and radically impoverish a large part of its population.

Poroshenko

Poroshenko was elected by a very wide margin over his rivals, but voter participation was low. He received 9,857,308 votes. In the 2010 presidential election, winner Viktor Yanukovych scored 12,481,266 votes while runner-up Yulia Tymoshenko received 11,593,357.

In the east, little voting took place in the two regions that have already declared autonomy from Kyiv – Donetsk and Luhansk. Elsewhere, the left-wing Borotba Union group reports in a May 27 statement that voter turnout was very low in Kharkiv and Odessa, the second- and third-largest cities in Ukraine.

Mainstream reporting in the West has shamefully downplayed or ignored the role and influence of rightist and fascist forces in Ukraine. It has failed to report the significance of the formation of the stormtrooper National Guard. It points to the low vote results for the Svoboda and Right Sector fascist parties in the presidential election; each scored around 1 per cent. But Svoboda controls three ministries of the Kyiv regime. Right Sector controls one and has deputy status in two others.

Rightist presidential candidate Oleh Lyashko received 8 per cent of the vote. His presidential campaign plastered Ukraine with posters screaming “Death to the occupiers!” referring to the fictional claims that Russians are occupying eastern Ukraine. (Curiously, Kyiv and NATO are simultaneously demanding that Russia withdraw military forces from its border region with Ukraine, which it has done, and step up border patrols to prevent possible movements of weapons and volunteer fighters across the border.)

Like other rightist leaders, Lyashko has organized his own National Guard militia to go on terror and killing sprees in the east. Only the limited experience and training of the militias and stormtroopers has limited the carnage they would otherwise have caused, though they were successful in seizing the Donetsk airport.

Worse violence will come if the Kyiv regime is not forced to pull back from its civil war. NATO is quietly providing training and other assistance to the army and stormtroopers. Poroshenko has appealed for more military aid from the U.S. and his regime has entered into a formal, military training agreement with two NATO member countries – Poland and Lithuania.

Resistance

As the regime deepens its civil war, popular resistance is growing. News reports are full of examples of people in the east spontaneously organizing to resist incursions by stormtroopers or the Ukraine army. In recent days in Donetsk, miners in the vast coal fields of the region have gone on strike to protest the war. As of May 28, miners in at least six mines in the Donetsk region were on indefinite strikes. That day, some 1000 of them marched through the centre of Donetsk condemning the Kyiv regime’s offensive (video of march here).

The movement in the east opposes Europe’s austerity program. It wants political autonomy that would cede powers over economic, social and cultural policy. It wants elected regional governors instead of Kyiv’s appointments of wealthy tycoons to the posts.

Workers in the east are demanding the nationalization of enterprises that are owned by Kyiv supporters or threatened by Kyiv’s growing ties with austerity Europe. In mid-May, the railway system in Donetsk region was nationalized by a newly formed Ministry of Transport of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR).

Prime targets for nationalizations are the enterprises owned by the industrialist Rinat Akhmetov. Earlier in May, his efforts to mobilize his workforce to oppose the autonomy movement failed miserably. Tim Judah, who reports from eastern Ukraine in The Economist and the New York Review of Books and who attended several of mass mobilizations attempted by Akhmetov, described the industrialist’s claims of vast support by his employees as fairy tales. Akhmetov’s stunts were nonetheless faithfully reported as good coin in Western media.

Alexander Borodai, the aforementioned prime minister of the DPR, is opposing nationalization of Akhmetov’s enterprises. Borodai is a Russian citizen.

Since the overthrow of the elected president Viktor Yanukovych in February, a broad movement has arisen in eastern Ukraine that opposes the political and economic direction of the governing regime that came to replace him. Europe’s governments and financiers are demanding a rupture of existing relations with Russia and the implementation of an austerity program that would see the elimination of support for much of the coal, steel and other manufacturing industries in Ukraine and a further slashing of its already meagre social programs.

Workers in western Ukraine also stand to lose from Kyiv’s pro-Europe policies. But illusions in what closer ties to Europe could bring run high in the west. What’s more, the memories of grave, historic injustices at the hands of Russia during earlier times and dislike of the pro-capitalist governing regime of President Vladimir Putin in Russia provide fertile ground for anti-Russia propaganda that misrepresents or outright falsifies the true situation in the east. Western media shamefully contribute their own misrepresentations and falsehoods.

Poroshenko is a symbol par excellence of the old guard of post-Soviet Union Ukraine. He is part of the business class that rose to wealth and prominence through the privatization and plundering of the state-owned economy of the Soviet era. He and his fellow robber barons have run Ukraine’s economy into the ground over the past 20 years.

Poroshenko served for nearly one year in 2012 as a minister in Yanukovych’s government. He served as a minister for two years in the government of Yanukovych’s predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko. The parliament that today backs Poroshenko is the same one that backed Yanukovych and then endorsed his overthrow by the rightist crowds who came to dominate the Maidan social protest movement.

Europe, the U.S. and the ‘Satellization’ of Ukraine

Australian socialist writer Renfrey Clarke reported from Russia during the post-1991 transition from bureaucratic socialism to today’s state-directed capitalism. He recently wrote about the economic challenges facing Ukraine today:

“Ukraine is now a poor country, much poorer in per capita terms than Russia, and in economic shambles. After decades of underinvestment and outright plunder, its industries are badly run down. Large numbers of enterprises, especially in the southeast, are loss making and survive only because they receive central government subsidies.

“To the neoliberal mind, it’s obvious what needs to be done. The market has to be allowed to work its magic. The subsidies must be ended. The enterprises that can’t compete, and that can’t attract investors prepared to modernise them, must be allowed to go under.

“Substantially free trade with the EU will see Ukraine flooded by Western manufactured goods that are more sophisticated and of higher quality than the Ukrainian offerings. Meanwhile, the only Ukrainian products likely to command much of a market in the EU are bulk industrial commodities – mostly steel and chemicals and perhaps unprocessed foodstuffs, though how the latter will fare in the face of EU agricultural subsidies is not certain.

“In the fantasies of the neoliberals (and of large numbers of currently deluded Ukrainians), free trade will induce Western investors to buy up Ukrainian enterprises, refurbish them and take advantage of cheap, local raw materials and labour to produce goods for profitable export to the west.

“Or, the investors could buy up the enterprises, turn them into scrap and export them to the nearest metallurgical works to be melted down. That’s been a persistent pattern in the post-Soviet countries.

“Then there is another problem, potentially still more crippling for Ukrainian producers: free trade with the EU means that Ukraine will be required to raise protective barriers that limit trade with other post-Soviet countries, primarily Russia. The effect will be to cut deeply into exports of Ukrainian goods to the post-Soviet markets where these products have tended to be competitive.

“Add to all this the predictable effects of austerity in slashing effective demand from the local population for Ukrainian goods, and broad sections of industry will disappear. In what used to be one of the most developed and prosperous regions of the Soviet Union, with substantial natural resources and a highly educated population, the already hard-hit masses will be reduced to penury.

“Many Ukrainians may not yet see clearly today what closer integration with Europe will mean for them, but they aren’t stupid. As these processes go forward, and as the effects come increasingly to be felt, popular resistance will mount. This will be a class-based resistance. It will weaken the country’s traditional regional, cultural and ethno-linguistic divisions and hopefully see new forms of working-class unity arise in their place.”

Looking at the political prospects for the new president of the Kyiv regime, Clarke writes:

“Poroshenko faces the challenge of imposing austerity on the working-class in circumstances where the country’s most important industrial region is already in armed revolt. That’s a tall order.

“He doesn’t have the ability to conduct effective propaganda in the Donbass region [south-east Ukraine]. When he announces that subsidies for loss-making enterprises are to be ended, the demand for nationalization will be in the forefront of workers’ minds. The Donetsk Peoples Republic has already raised the prospect of nationalizations.

“In the general climate of defiance of authority, it would be a logical, next step for workers to take over and occupy their enterprises. In a context of incipient civil war, the government lacks the means to stop this from occurring. Needing to defend their gains, militant workers can also be expected to join the armed insurgency and make it their own.”

Autonomy demands are also being voiced by other regional or national groups in Ukraine, including the Hungarians and Rusyns in the southwest. These have received next to zero coverage in western press. There is fierce resistance to autonomy by Kyiv anywhere in the territory it claims.

Much has been made in Western press and by some left observers of the heterogeneous political outlook and political weaknesses of the autonomy movement in the east. Support for Russian nationalism and for outright secession from Ukraine is voiced by sections of the movement, though this is a minority viewpoint. The movement’s ties with the working-class in western Ukraine are weak, even though workers in western Ukraine are threatened by the very same austerity that has propelled the east into revolt. Suggestions of secession in the east create further barriers to forging alliances across the east-west divide.

The autonomy movement and its appeal to workers elsewhere in Ukraine and in Russia would be strengthened by more citizen mobilization and engagement in political and economic administration. Similarly, workers’ control of nationalized enterprises would draw sympathy and support for the movement. It would help ensure that the benefits of nationalizations and other radical, social measures would flow to workers and their communities.

Contradictions and shortcomings in the political movement in the east should be expected in conditions where for decades, workers and ordinary citizens have been excluded from democracy and citizen engagement. The deadly civil war now being waged against the movement, with NATO’s firm backing, makes conditions enormously more difficult. Indeed, the goal of the military intervention is precisely to weaken and destroy any movement toward a grassroots and working-class revolution.

The desires of the population in Luhansk, Donetsk and elsewhere in eastern Ukraine are crystal clear – they cast ballots in large numbers on May 11 for political autonomy and social justice. All but the most hidebound of Western reporters in the region acknowledge that support for autonomy is widespread and is growing with each Kyiv regime attack.

The people of Ukraine desperately need active international solidarity. Kyiv must be pressured to end the civil war in the east and accept political autonomy. NATO should end its military intervention. Political mobilizations against fascism are needed, and not only in Ukraine – the rise of the right-wing vote in many countries of Europe during the recent elections to the European Parliament shows that anti-fascist and anti-racist mobilizations are needed throughout the continent.

Sergei Kirichuk, a leader of the Borotba Union (Union of Struggle), spoke in an interview on May 21 of the goals and challenges in eastern Ukraine today. He says his group and the rest of the authentic left in Ukraine were unprepared for the rapid growth of the fascist right in Ukraine. Borotba and other leftists have been driven underground by the violent rise of the right and the all-pervasive, anti-Russian propaganda, including in Kharkiv and Odessa. But Ukraine workers are nonetheless finding the means to resist.

“Here in the Southeast, people are fighting for their socio-economic rights,” says Kirichuk. “There is a very strong anti-oligarchic, anti-capitalist component in these protests.”

Kirichuk hails from western Ukraine and explains, “I can say with confidence that very many Ukrainians even in the country’s west are sympathetic with the struggle of the southeast. There are very many people discontented with the regime in the West too, but people are simply afraid to voice their opinion and stay silent because of the atmosphere of terror that reigns over there. At the same time, they look with hope at what is happening in the Southeast.”

Borotba issued a statement following the presidential election saying, “We do not recognize the outcome of these pseudo-elections ignored by the majority. We will continue the campaign of civil disobedience against the junta of oligarchs and nationalists.”

Awareness and solidarity in western Europe is slowly growing. In Germany, representatives of Die Linke (The Left) have spoken out in the German parliament against the fascist violence and NATO collusion in Ukraine. And on June 2, a public rally in London featuring Russian writer Boris Kagarlitsky will launch a new campaign, “Solidarity with the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine.” •

Roger Annis is a writer in Vancouver BC. He publishes a website featuring his writings and those of others at A Socialist in Canada.

After three years of a war financed, armed and manned by the U.S. and its allies, the Syrian people cast ballots wherever it was possible. The U.S. position is that Syria’s vote is illegitimate because of the conflict, but Ukraine’s elections are legitimate despite that country’s armed conflict. It is clear that the U.S. objective in Syria “is more death, more war and more chaos.”

Tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians have braved threats and violence to participate in the election process.”

Defying threats of violence, tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians went to the polls to cast a vote that was more about Syrian dignity and self-determination than any of the candidates on the ballot. After three years of unimaginable atrocities fomented by a demented and dying U.S. empire, with the assistance of the royalist monarchies of the Middle East and the gangster states of NATO, the Syrian people demonstrated, by their participation, that they had not surrendered their national sovereignty to the geo-strategic interests of the U.S. and its colonial allies in Europe and Israel.

The dominant narrative on Syria, carefully cultivated by Western state propagandists and dutifully disseminated by their auxiliaries in the corporate media, is that the conflict in Syria is a courageous fight on the part of the majority of the Syrian people against the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. As the story goes, the al-Assad “regime,” (it is never referred to as a government), can only maintain its power through the use of force. By attacking “its own citizens,” the regime, representing the minority Alawite community, can only maintain its dominance over the rest of the country through sheer terror.

However, events in Syria, with the election being a dramatic example, continue to reveal fissures in that story.

First, it became clear that substantial numbers of non-Alawite people and communities support the government. And even those elements of Syrian society that were not enthusiastic supporters of the government grew to understand that the legitimate indigenous opposition had been displaced by powerful non-Syrian forces from the U.S. and the Gulf States who provided material, political and diplomatic support to an opposition that not only had tenuous ties to the country but seemed only committed to waging war. This convinced many that the only politically consistent option was to support the government, as an expression of support for Syria’s sovereignty and its’ national project.

Western corporate news outlets were unable to explain the huge turnout of Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon.”

As a result, not only did popular support for the government hold over the last three years of carnage, it expanded to include those in the opposition who were against the destruction of the country and the slimy Syrian ex-pats who traveled from one European capital to another begging for the U.S. and NATO to do what it did in Libya – destroy the infrastructure of the country through the use of NATO air power and flood the country with weapons.

But the most graphic undermining of the dominant Western narrative has been the participation of tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians who have braved threats and violence to participate in the election process.

Western corporate news outlets, especially in the U.S., were unable to explain the huge turnout of Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon preceding the election on Tuesday, so they just decided not to cover it. Images of Syrians displaced by war yet backing al Assad for president did not support the carefully crafted story that the only people fleeting war were those who had been terrorized to do so by the government.

Instead, the U.S. press raised the question of the “legitimacy” of elections taking place in a country involved in a “civil war,” a position consistent with their narrative of the war being one between the Syrian people and the government as opposed to what it has turned out to be – a war largely being fought by foreign forces, with the indigenous opposition forces allied with the feckless Syrian National Coalition; isolated, out-gunned and militarily irrelevant.

And while the U.S. press uncritically propagated the position of the U.S. state, which wrote off the election as illegitimate and a farce, the media seemed not to notice the contradictory position of the U.S. writing off the election in Syria because of conflict but giving enthusiastic support to the election in Ukraine in the midst of a conflict and contested legitimacy. The Western media could explore a few obvious questions if it was really independent, such as: what makes the election in Ukraine legitimate when half of the country boycotts the vote and the national army violently attacks its own citizens in Eastern Ukraine who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-makers in Kiev?

Other questions might be: if they deem it appropriate to support an election in Ukraine, why would the Obama Administration violently oppose elections in Syria, especially if, as it claims, the majority of the people oppose the current government? Wouldn’t the illegitimacy of the government in Syria be confirmed by the low turnout, even in areas where there was a modicum of security? If Syrian authorities organized opportunities for displaced Syrians in various countries around the world to vote and very few participated, wouldn’t that verify the Administration’s position that the al Assad government lacks popular support?

Yet in various European capitals and other countries like Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt, efforts were made to block the opportunity for displaced Syrians to vote in their election – why? Were the authorities afraid that the narrative of non-support for al Assad might be challenged if there was a proliferation of images like the ones that came out of Lebanon showing thousands of Syrians marching to the polls holding signs of Bashar al Assad?

It will be interesting to see how the authorities and their spokespeople in the corporate media spin the voting process in Syria.

The U.S. position is a position of continued war in Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry declared that Syria’s presidential election was a “farce,” and that the U.S. and its partners are prepared to quickly redouble efforts to support opposition forces in the county. The meaning of this position is that it does not matter what kind of public display of support is given to al Assad or anyone who might emerge as the head of state in Syria, the U.S. objective is more death, more war and more chaos.

This is the essence of the “new” global strategy unveiled by President Obama during his foreign policy speech at West Point last week. The U.S. declaration that it will “change the dynamics on the ground in Syria” came out of a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria,” a motley collection of 11 Western colonial nations and their Arab creations. The Obama Administration intends to work though these kinds of regional formations and alliances to advance its strategic objectives with as minimal a cost to the U.S. as possible. Of course, the interests and desires of the states or peoples involved are of secondary concern. The desire on the part of the majority of the people to end the conflict in Syria is not even considered. As part of the effort to secure public support in the U.S. for destabilizing and then attacking Syria it was posited that by deposing the al Assad government a real democracy can be introduced. That is why policymakers pretended to back so-called moderate elements that support democracy. But over the last year or so, even that proposal has been eliminated. Democracy in Syria is as much a threat to U.S. imperialist interests as it is in Ukraine – and increasingly even in the U.S.

Policymakers in Washington and London have already made the shift to supporting what are being called “moderate” Islamists forces grouped around the Islamic Front (IF) with al Nusrah, al Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, operating in the background. The problem for the Syrian people is that these moderates the west is supporting are Salafi-Wahhabi fundamentalists who reject representative democracy and support the imposition of sharia law in Syria. So while the U.S. and their allies characterize the election in Syria a farce, their solution is to back forces who would eliminate even the pretext of democratic participation. This is the progress that is being imposed on the secular, pluralist society of Syria by the Western “liberators.”

It is not about al Assad, it is about the people of Syria and imperialism:

Questions of democratic legitimacy have never determined U.S. relationships with any state where the U.S. had strategic and economic interests. If a commitment to democracy and democratic governance was the determining factor for U.S. support, the Obama Administration would not be in alliance with the dictatorship of the royalists in the Gulf states, it would have condemned the coups in Honduras and Egypt, not given diplomatic or economic support to the coup in Ukraine, and would not be supporting right-wing elements in Venezuela attempting to destabilize the democratically-elected government in that country.

There was a time when this position would have been clear to the peace and anti-war, anti-imperialist progressive and left movements in the U.S. and the West. But over the last two decades, with the ideological infiltration of the left by liberalism, social democracy and the rightist tendencies of “anti-authoritarian” anarchism, the resulting political confusion has seen a consistent alignment of the left with the imperial project of the U.S. – from the attacks on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through to attacks on nationalist projects throughout the global South, from Libya to Syria. Since the last gasp of anti-imperialism solidarity represented by the massive marches in opposition to the illegal attack on Iraq in 2003, the peace, anti-war and anti-imperialist movements have been in relative disarray.

Political confusion has seen a consistent alignment of the left with the imperial project of the U.S.”

This disarray and ineffectiveness is taking place right at the historical moment when in order to maintain its global hegemony, the colonial/capitalist West has decided to revert to what it does best – spread death and destruction. For those of us who understand our responsibility situated, as we are, at the center of this monstrosity called the U.S., we have to strip away the veneer of humanitarianism that hides the ugly inner logic of domination and we have to “struggle” – a term now passé for the hip post-modern nihilist left.

When a people, like the people of Syria, demonstrate their commitment to the integrity of their own national experience in opposition to the efforts of the imperialist states that we reside in, the only principled position we can take is to stand in solidarity with those people, no matter how we see the internal contradictions of that nation/state. The people of Syria have said no to foreign intervention. Those of us in the imperialist West, can we do anything less?

Ajamu Baraka, a long-time human rights activist and organizer, is an editor and contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report. Baraka can be reached at [email protected] and www.AjamuBaraka.com

A new film, Miners Shot Down, shows in graphic detail the massacre of dozens of miners at Marikana, South Africa, in 2012. “Footage from the South African police shows the miners being penned in by barbwire, mowed down by a fusillade and the survivors being hunted down yet again.” The slaughter may mark the beginning of the end of a Black-led regime that sold out its people.

Before August 16, 2012, the town of Marikana was little known outside of South Africa. On that day it entered the lexicon as a place of infamy where 34 striking platinum miners were shot dead by police. The massacre at Marikana left no doubt that black South Africans had been sold out by the African National Congress and its leaders, including Nelson Mandela.

The struggle against apartheid galvanized millions of people all over the world. Black Americans in particular saw themselves at Sharpeville and Soweto. Nelson Mandela became an international icon but was especially beloved by a people whose own mass movement was destroyed by assassinations, COINTELPRO and shrewd co-optation.

Mandela’s release from prison in 1989 and his election as president in 1994 were greeted with celebration – which was too often lacking in real political analysis. Black people had the right to vote, the dreaded pass system was gone, but the grinding poverty is now worse than under the days of white minority rule. That is because people who should have fought to dismantle the grotesque racially based inequities took seats at the table where the loot was divvied up.

Ramaphosa made lucrative deals with these multi-national corporations instead of representing the mine workers who looked to him for leadership.”

Cyril Ramaphosa was one of those people. He led the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and was one of those who aided and abetted the terrible accommodations that led to the continuing impoverishment of black South Africans. The London based Lonmin platinum mining corporation made Ramaphosa a board member, as did Coca Cola and Unilever. He made lucrative deals with these multi-national corporations instead of representing the mine workers who looked to him for leadership. Ramaphosa’s net worth is now estimated to be $700 million.

When miners at Marikana demanded wage increases in 2012 their union did nothing for them. They were forced to go on an unauthorized wildcat strike, in defiance of Lonmin, the ANC government and their own union. Not only did NUM do nothing to help their members, but they joined with the government and police in calling the strikers criminals.

A newly released documentary, Miners Shot Down, shows in unsparing detail the horrors of the new South Africa. Footage from the South African police shows the miners being penned in by barbwire, mowed down by a fusillade and the survivors being hunted down yet again.

The film is powerful precisely because it shows the result of settling for liberation of the few. True liberation is hard won and brings enmity from the powerful. When Mandela was lionized by the corporate media and western leaders it should have been clear that as the saying goes, “the fix was in.”

It is disheartening in the extreme to see people so pleased to have jobs and titles that they gave no thought to killing on orders from government functionaries, turn coats and a big corporation. The white faces at Sharpeville and the Soweto uprising have now been joined by black people who helped to plan and carry out the massacre. The police brought live ammunition to confront the miners who were armed only with clubs and knives. They even made sure to bring morgue ambulances and body bags. The murders were clearly premeditated but after the fact it was the miners who were charged with murder.

White supremacy doesn’t necessarily need white people in order to function. It only needs people who understand clearly where whites stand vis a vis other groups. The black police who ordered the shootings and who carried them out were as much white supremacists as the white police who killed in the days of minority rule.

The black police who ordered the shootings and who carried them out were as much white supremacists as the white police who killed in the days of minority rule.”

Apparently we have more in common with black South Africans than we thought. Twenty years after Nelson Mandela became president another black man, a so-called son of Africa, became president of the United States. The powerful people here, the 1% of the economic elite, chose him to lead. It was the right time for a new face in America. The Republicans’ unpopularity made their “brand” unsustainable politically, making the Democrats the go-to party to commit the dirty work. What better way to get that job done than to have a black man bail out banks and continue the endless war of terror around the globe? Who better to solidify America’s empire? The same sort of question can be asked of South Africa. Who better to keep South African workers trapped in poverty and starvation wages than black political leadership?

The legacy of the dead miners has not been made in vain. Lonmin workers are again on strike, this time for four months and they have been joined by other miners. This struggle is taking place twenty years after it should have. Now the truth about freedom and liberation is clear, Mandela and other leaders have passed away, and younger people can fight their own fight. Marikana should not be forgotten, nor should the hard lessons that it teaches.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.

Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Observers at the presidential elections in Syria are unanimous that the expression of people’s will was valid and the polls passed in a democratic and positive atmosphere.

On Wednesday morning, observers met for a roundtable meeting at Dama Rose Hotel to give their assessment to presidential elections. Observers include members of parliaments from Russia, Iran, Brazil, Venezuela, North Korea, Tajikistan, the Philippines, Uganda, as well as representatives of Canada, the United States, Ireland, Pakistan, Malaysia and Bahrain.

Syrian election observers

An Iranian observer opened the meeting accusing the US and its European allies of the policy of double standards when “an obvious free choice of Syrian people is put into doubt by Washington and its allies.” He urged a US observer to explain why such anti-Syrian hysteria took place. However, the US observer levelled a harsh criticism on the White House, pledging that upon return to the homeland, he would inform the Americans about a real situation in Syria.

The meeting continues behind closed doors. Observers promise to inform the press about the results of the meeting after consultations.

Representatives of foreign delegations observing Syria’s presidential elections stressed Wednesday that the voting process in Syria’s presidential elections was fair and marked by high turnout.

The representatives were speaking during a consultative meeting of parliamentarians, independent figures and NGOs who came to Syria upon the People’s Assembly’s invitation to oversee how the balloting ran.

The concluding statement of the meeting hailed the elections for being held on time and according to constitutional schedule in a democratic, transparent and fair atmosphere.

It lauded as “a notable progress” the first multi-candidate competitive presidential voting of Syria, which it said marks an improvement in the country’s political process and lays the foundation for a new political stage.

The Syrian government’s measures and the people’s determination to hold the presidential election despite all security threats launched by terrorist groups are worthy of praise, the statement added.

The delegations viewed the high voter turnout at home and abroad as a proof of the Syrian people’s preference for the political option to any “violent” solution.

The statement held the US and its allies responsible for the crimes committed against the Syrian people, calling on the countries supporting terrorism to halt all kinds of support to the terrorists.

The delegations called in their statement for respecting the results of Syria’s elections and its people’s will to determine their country’s future through the ballot boxes without interference by any foreign party.

Joseph Iosbaker of the Anti-War Committee-Chicago said that upon visiting Homs city, his delegation felt the suffering to which the Syrian people are being exposed, inflicted largely with the backing of the US.

The delegation, he added, also noticed the Syrians’ sense of victory which was clearly evident by the massive voter turnout to polling stations, affirming that the voting was quite fair.

Irish researcher Declan Hayes said that most of the citizens whom he gauged their opinion said they voted for President Bashar al-Assad for another 7-year term.

An Indian MP, for his part, said he saw in the wide participation in the Syrian presidential voting a message of rejection of terrorism and the hostile policies of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel.

The massive turnout, he added, also sent another message of the steadfastness of the axis of resistance and increased popular support for President al-Assad.

Making positive change often seems impossible, but one area that should give people hope is the movement toward ending the war on drugs.

When I was in law school in the late 1970s, I did an internship at NORML, where one of my tasks was responding to mail from marijuana prisoners and their families. The harsh injustice of the drug war struck me then, and ever since I’ve been working to end the war on drugs – a war declared by Richard Nixon.

Majorities now support the outright legalization of marijuana and oppose the war on drugs. The public has overcome decades of misinformation to justify the drug war.

The transformation struck me a few years ago when I was in a medical marijuana dispensary in California. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. At the dispensary, people lined up — as if they were waiting for a bank teller — in a safe place to get medical-quality marijuana. The slogan of the Harborside Health Center was “out of the darkness and into the light.”

That slogan is true on many levels. Not only are people who were criminals able to come out into the light and purchase their medicine in a safe environment, but the nation is coming out of the darkness of false information. In May of 2013, the Green Shadow Cabinet recommended the Obama administration allow state marijuana legalization to go forward, eight months later Attorney General Holder did just that.

Now, the light is shining on former drug war assertions, and claims like the one that marijuana causes crime are being proven false. Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, violent crime has fallen by 6.9 percent and property crime by 11.1 percent. A 2012 study, “California Youth Crime Plunges to All-Time Low,” credits a state marijuana decriminalization for plummeting arrests for all crimes. Meanwhile, anApril 2014 study shows that legalization does not lead to increased adolescent use.

In addition, tremendous revenues are coming into Colorado from marijuana taxes.Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee projects revenue of $610 million from retail and medical marijuana sales from January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, the end of the next fiscal year. And, the state is saving money on enforcement. The Denver Post reported“the number of cases filed in state court alleging at least one marijuana offense plunged 77 percent between 2012 and 2013.”

The lessons from Colorado: decreased crime, no increased use, tremendous law enforcement savings and massive new revenues. Ending marijuana prohibition has been a success on many levels.

There is an awakening regarding other drugs as well. President Obama, who has pardoned fewer prisoners than any other president, has announced he may pardon hundreds, if not thouands of drug offenders. This is occurring after the Department of Justice removed pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, a career drug enforcement official who provided false information in order to prevent pardons.

Granting clemency to thousands is not enough. The DOJ guidelines for pardons are extremely stringent (e.g. a person must have served at least 10 years to be considered); many tens of thousands who should be released will not be. More systemic change is needed, the country needs to change its sentencing laws and continue to dismantle the drug war.

Since the ‘Just Say No’ era of the 1980s, both parties outdid themselves to see who could be tougher on drugs. Vice President Biden, for example, chaired the Judiciary Committee when harsh mandatory minimum sentencing became law. Eric Holder has recently highlighted, “since 1980, the federal prison population has grown at an astonishing rate — by almost 800 percent.” The United States needs to face up to the injustice that with just 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. That’s right, one in four of the world’s prisoners live behind bars in the “land of the free.”

By every measure the drug war has failed and done incredible harm. The U.S. has spent $1 trillion on it but illegal drugs are cheaper, addiction rates remain the same and overdose deaths are rising. One positive step is the “Smarter Sentencing Act” which removes mandatory sentencing for some offenders and reduces them for others. This bi-partisan bill will save money, improve public safety, reduce overcrowding in federal prisons, and begin to undo unproductive mandatory minimum sentences.

There continues to be resistance to reform from those whose careers and livelihoods depend on the failed drug war. Just as the Obama administration removed pardon attorney Ronald Rogers, the President needs to remove the current DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart. She is refusing to support the Smarter Sentencing Act, supported by Obama. She criticized the president for saying marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol and opposed the Obama administration’s decision to let reform in Colorado and Washington go forward. She is out of step with the administration and needs to be removed.

An awakening is occurring, the U.S. is finally getting on the right path, people need to take advantage of the opportunity and push now to end the drug war.

This paper starts with summarizing the major theoretical elements in the definition of a global ruling class. It then examines how neoconservatives in the US took power and used regime change to create chaos in other regions. A strategy of tension is used to press the population into conformity. But the real revolution is to what extent factual politics escape any attempt to democratic control. Three case studies show how far the Deep State already goes. Democracy is on the brink of survival.

1. Theory

In the earlier paper (Hamm, B. 2010) I suggested an analytical framework for the study of power as it relates to the future of global society. This outline specifically addressed four questions: (1) How is the global ruling class structured internally? (2) Is it theoretically correct to use the term class for the ruling elite? (3) Which are the major instruments of power? (4) How do these analytical insights impact on the probable future of human society?

Drawing on C. Wright Mills’ seminal work on The Power Elite, recent power structure research suggests an ideal-type model of four concentric circles: In the inner circle, we find the global money trust, the richest individuals, families or clans, all with fortunes well above one billion Euros. The CEOs of big transnational corporations and biggest international financial players make up the second circle. They are mostly concerned with increasing the wealth of the inner circle, and with it their own. Top international politicians, some active in governments and international institutions, some more in the background as advisers, plus the top military, compose the third circle. This political class has assignments: organize the distribution of the social product in such a way as to transfer as much as the actual power balance allows into the pockets of the inner and second circles, and secure the legitimacy of government by organizing the political circus of an allegedly pluralistic structure. The fourth ring will be composed of top academics, media moguls, lawyers, and may sometimes include prominent authors, film and music stars, artists, NGO representatives, few religious leaders, few top criminals and others useful for decorating the inner circles. They enjoy the privilege of close access to those in power, they are well paid and will make sure not to lose such benefits (Hamm, B. 2010:1008-9; see also Phillips, P., Osborne, B. 2013).

It appears that the degree of internationalization of the powerful correlates with their status on the ring hierarchy. The two inner circles have always been international. The third and fourth rings, however, tend to be much more nationally bound (by ownership, by elections) than the first and the second. The inner circle is not static but relatively solid. It builds on financial and social capital often accumulated by former generations, the steel, banking, weapons, or oil barons. The major source of power is being borne to a family of the inner circle. The Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Morgans, the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, the Agnellis, the Thyssens or the Krupps would provide illustrative examples (see, e.g., Holbrook, 1953; or more recently Landes, 2006; Marshall, A.G. 2013).

There are also the nouveaux riches. Names like George Soros, William Gates, Warren Buffett, Marc Zuckerberg, Sheldon Adelson, or the Koch brothers come to mind (Smith, Y. 2013); Russian or Eastern European oligarchs like Alisher Usmanov, Mikhail Chodorkowski, Boris Berezowski, Mikhail Fridman, Rinat Ahmetov, Leonid Mikhelson, Viktor Vekselberg, Andrej Melnichenko, Roman Abramovich; as well as Carlos Slim Helu, Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani, Jorge Paulo Lemann, Iris Fontbona or Aliko Dangote from the so-called less developed countries. These parvenus tend to be politically more active, at least on the front stage, than the old rich families: George Soros with his Open Society Foundation and his permanent warnings of the evils of unregulated capitalism is the best known for his liberal leanings, while the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson or Robert Murdoch are aggressively right-wing (Heath, T. 2014; Snyder, M. 2013; Webster, S.C. 2013). The oligarchs of the former Soviet block have almost all grabbed their fortunes during the presidency of Boris Yeltzin who, pathological alcoholic as he was, made room for large scale privatization of state corporations and raw materials after the collapse of the socialist regime.

Shock therapy was pushed through under the influence of Western advisors, especially the Harvard privatization program with Jeffrey Sachs as the leading figure, as well the International Monetary Fund. Jegor Gajdar, Anatoli Tschubais, an oligarch himself, and Alfred Koch [1] were their local executives in Russia, Vaclav Klaus in Czechoslovakia, Leszek Balcerowicz in Poland. The method how to create oligarchs, and social polarization, is easy to understand and has been practiced by the IMF time and again to this very day as part of their structural adjustment policy (later cynically called poverty reduction strategy): Abolish all prize control and public subventions, lay-off civil servants, limit wages, devalue the currency, and privatize public corporations and infrastructure, i.e. the Washington Consensus. Widespread poverty is the immediate result and the other side of the coin of extremely concentrated wealth in few hands.

Does this global oligarchy constitute a social class in the theoretical sense of the term? If so, it should (1) be in control of the means of production, (2) be bound together by class consciousness, and in-group mentality; (3) be party in a global class struggle over the distribution of the social product. The second criterion has been discussed in the 2010 paper, and answered positively: “The GRC will tend to see themselves, very much like feudal kings, as being of divine superiority placing them far above all other human beings. Fascism is very likely to be a basic pillar of their ideology, and war will be just one of the tools to increase their power and profits” (Hamm, 2010:1010; see also Turley, J. 2014; Dolan, E.W. 2013). As the money elite generally tends to focus their social contacts inside, groupthink is permanently reinforced. This might hold true even if it is not homogeneous in other respects (Lofgren, M. 2013).

For the first question it must be emphasized to what extent the financial sector has taken over control of productive industries. Here, the enormous amount of freshly printed dollars injected in the global economy since the abolishing of the gold standard in 1971 is decisive. The Federal Reserve Bank under successive US administrations has followed this policy up to the present day. The amount of money strolling around for profitable investment is not underpinned by production or services but rather by printing fiat notes. It allowed the financial industry to buy up real businesses by shares and bonds and their respective derivatives inside and outside the US. Thus, the financial industry acquired in fact control of large parts of the real economy including, via production chains, small and medium-sized businesses, fertile lands, and raw materials. It is also highly influential on science and technology and, through its lobbying and campaign donations, on political decision-making. In fact, as US lawmakers tend to belong to the upper strata of the financial hierarchy, and thus to the third circle of our power model, they also tend to widely identify with the interests of the inner rings (Money Choice 2013). Therefore, it is correct to conclude that the financial industry is in control of the means of production.

Too often writers understand class struggle as action taken by workers for working class interests, overlooking the equally significant (and in our times considerably more important) class struggle organized and directed by the ruling class via the state:

“The entire panoply of neo-liberal policies, from so-called ‘austerity measures’ to mass firings of public and private employees, to massive transfers of wealth to creditors are designed to enhance the power, wealth and primacy of diverse sectors of capital at the expense of labor. … Class struggle from above is directed at enhancing the concentration of wealth in the ruling class, increasing regressive taxes on workers and reducing taxes on corporations, selectively enforcing regulations, which facilitate financial speculation and lowering social expenditures for pensions, health and education for workers families.”

Class struggle from above aims at maximizing the collective power of capital via restrictive laws on labor organizations, social movements and workers’ collective bargaining rights. State budgets over bailouts are sites of class struggle; banks are sites of class struggle between mortgage holders and households, creditors and debtors. “Trillions of dollars are transferred from the public treasury to bailout bankers. Hundreds of billions in social cuts are imposed on workers, cutting across all sectors of the economy” (Petras, J., 2013). Governments are instrumental to extract money from the population via taxation and transfer it to the rich via the banking system. What they are doing, with help of the IMF, to Greece, Portugal, Ireland, or to Cyprus, or Spain, and what they hope to do to Ukraine, Egypt, Thailand, Venezuela or Lybia, they have been doing to developing countries yesterday with exactly the same medicine.

“They want it all. Profit and power. Our world is dominated and being re-shaped by a tiny global financial, corporate, political and intellectual elite. And all must suffer so that they can have what anyone in their position would want to have: more, they want it all. And they want you to just shut up and let them take it all. If you have a problem with that, well, that’s what riot police, prisons, and fascism are for” (Marshall, A.G., 2013; Drum, K. 2013).

We also find a global power hierarchy among nation-states. To paraphrase what was said above of the attitudes of members of the ruling class: The most powerful nation will tend to see itself as being of divine superiority placing it far above all other nations. Fascism is very likely to be a basic pillar of its ideology, and war will be just one of the tools to increase its power and profits.

“According to this self-righteous doctrine [of US exceptionalism], America is the indispensable country. What this means is that the US has been chosen by history to establish the hegemony of secular ‘democratic capitalism’ over the world. The primacy of this goal places the US government above traditional morality and above all law, both its own and international” (Roberts, P.C., 2013).

The claim to the role of world hegemon is having a high price (Nader, R., 2014). Socio-economic polarization increased sharply. Hundreds of thousands of families have been driven out of their homes by foreclosures. Some twenty per cent of all households are on food stamps. Increasing numbers of households can no longer pay their rents, let alone care for retirement; thousands live in shanty towns and tent cities. Some city governments have begun to drive the poor out of the downtown areas so they become more and more invisible [2]. While the trend is general, women, children and non-whites are especially affected. The consequences in form of reduced health care and increasing mortality rates have often been reported [3]. A baby born today in the U.S., when it takes its first breath of air, it is 50.000$ in debt (Ventura, J., 2013). The prison industry profits from a policy of incarceration which does not even stop short of lifelong sentences to children.

The installment of the US Dollar as world reserve currency constituted the economic pillar of the US as the only remaining super power. As the US was able to export all newly printed money, it could appropriate the products of other societies for the simple price of printing paper and by this force other countries to pay for its luxury as well as for its overwhelming military power and war mongering. Add to this the structural adjustment policy exerted by US-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund, plus the CIA covert actions around the globe. Therefore it is analytically correct to say that the US became the adversary in the global class struggle. It follows that the nucleus of a global ruling class resides in the US. As in Galtung’s structural theory of imperialism (Galtung, J. 1980), the hegemon will rely on vassals in subordinate nations in the form of allied governments. Elites in subordinate nations are assigned to guarantee the unchallenged role of the global hegemon, to allow its unrestrained access to local resources and control rights while securing immunity to its representatives. Therefore, we can tentatively locate the global ruling class in the power elite of the United States.

The lacmus test of power is, on the individual as on the collective level, based on two criteria: the possibility to avoid prosecution for crimes committed, or impunity, and the degree to which appropriation of others’ wealth is possible. An eminent example is given by the attacks of 9/11. Those who succeed in preventing a new and thorough investigation questioning the official narrative (among many Ruppert, M., 2004) are obviously in a power position. So are those who initiated war and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of people murdered and are not brought to trial in the aftermaths. Neither has anyone in the US government been held accountable for torture, targeted killings and drone victims, prohibited crimes under US law and the Geneva Conventions, or for violating constitutional rights–spying without warrants, warrantless searches, violations of habeas corpus, murder of citizens without due process, denial of legal representation, conviction on secret evidence. Who is to be held accountable for the long-term effects of the nuclear bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? or the spread of Agent Orange in Vietnam? or the use of depleted uranium ammunition in Iraq? The war criminals could be identified – but who tries them? Not only that the US murdered one and a half million people, mostly Iraqis and some Americans, and ruined the country, and inflicted costs of almost three trillion US$ on the taxpayer, they also inflamed the Sunni-Shia conflict (Stone, O., Kuznick, P., 2013:521-34).

“The Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, […], never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable. What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality” (Greenwald, G., 2013).

Who would bring to trial the banksters which plundered the middle class? (Whitney, M. 2014; Cantu, A. 2014)

2. Who Ruled the World – Yesterday, and How?

2.1 The Rise of the Neocons

Americans regularly insist that it is only the global governing authority of the United States that underpins the degree of security and prosperity that exists in the world. Without this there would be widespread chaos, economic stagnancy, and far more frequent international warfare. The proponents of this conception emphasize the dependency of world order on US military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological capabilities (Falk, R., 2014). Falk mentions Michael Mandelbaum as the most passionate proponent of such a position as worked out in his books [4]. Recently Mandelbaum has restated this argument in a short essay (2014): “The United States stands alone as the world’s de facto government.” This world government although administered from its statist headquarters in Washington, is according to its promoters, meta-political, and unselfish. It should be appreciated by all people of good will as contributing to the betterment of humanity.

The “neoconservative offensive” (Hamm, B., 2005, 1-18) started in August 1971 with the Powell Manifesto (Nace, T., 2003 [5]) and had its first great success when Ronald Reagan came into power und brought many of the neocon hawks with him. They had been in place before and were waiting for their chance. The end came probably with the Edward Snowdon’s revelations in June 2013 when people, corporations and governments around the world woke up to the fact that their entire electronic communication was spied upon by the NSA.

Ronald Reagan was the worst informed president, an old man who napped off even in meetings of the National Security Council, and who perceived the world through the lens of Hollywood movies:

“A man of limited knowledge but deep religious beliefs and strong conservative convictions, he provided little guidance on policy and had no interest in or grasp of detail. … Reagan’s disengaged style and lack of foreign policy experience left the door open to palace intrigue among his subordinates, who were eager to fill the void” (Stone, O., Kuznick, P., 2012:421-4).

By the mid-1970s, then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began to argue that the Soviet government would be ignoring bilateral treaties and secretly building up weapons with the intention of attacking the United States. Together with Paul Wolfowitz he wanted to create a much more severe view of the Soviet Union, its intentions, and views about fighting and winning a nuclear war. When George H. W. Bush became Director of Central Intelligence in 1976, he set up a team of sixteen outside experts who were to take an independent look at highly classified data used by the intelligence community to assess Soviet strategic forces, commonly referred to as Team B. Their allegations proved all wrong. The CIA director concluded that the Team B approach set “in motion a process that lends itself to manipulation for purposes other than estimative accuracy.”

Team B war partly recruited from the Committee on the Present Danger which first met in 1950. It lobbied the government directly and sought to influence public opinion through a publicity campaign. This iteration of the CPD was disbanded in 1953 when its leaders were offered positions in the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was privately revived in March 1976 and provided 33 officials to the Ronald Reagan administration including Director of Central Intelligence William Casey, National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, Secretary of State George Shultz and Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle. In June 2004 a third incarnation of CPD was being planned, to address the War on Terrorism, which is still active.

“Today, the CPD includes over 100 former White House officials, Ambassadors, Cabinet Secretaries, academics, writers, and other foreign policy experts. Its Co-Chairmen are the Honorable George Shultz, Secretary of State under President Reagan, and R. James Woolsey, Director of the CIA under President Clinton. Senators Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl serve as Honorary Co-Chairs” [6].

In 1997, a group surfaced under the name of Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a think tank based in Washington, D.C. founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The PNAC’s stated goal is “to promote American global leadership.” Fundamental to the PNAC were the views that “American leadership is both good for America and good for the world” and support for “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” With its members in numerous key administrative positions, the PNAC exerted influence on high-level government officials in the administration of George W. Bush and shaped its development of military and foreign policies.

The first military test after the collapse of the Soviet empire was how Iraq President Saddam Hussein was lured into the Kuwait trap in 1990. The 28 nations “coalition of the willing” was bought together, and war was waged over the people of Iraq, a war that first was fought with murderous weapons, then with sanctions, and did not end until this very day. The most ridiculous of all adventures PNAC pushed the world’s strongest military force into was certainly Grenada (1983). “The restoration of direct US imperial interventions, unhindered by Congressional and popular opposition, was gradual in the period 1973-1990. It started to accelerate in the 1990’s and then really took off after September 11, 2001” (Petras, J., 2013).

The goal of regime change in Iraq remained the consistent position of PNAC. On January 16, 1998, members of the PNAC, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick drafted an open letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power. They argued that Saddam would pose a threat to the United States, its Middle East allies, and oil resources in the region if he succeeded in maintaining what they asserted was a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The PNAC also supported the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Some have regarded the 1998 letter as evidence that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a foregone conclusion (Mackay, N., 2004).

It should not be forgotten that the war against Afghanistan, too, was being planned well before the 9/11 attacks. US officials had been in talks with the Taliban about building an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Karachi, Pakistan, via Afghanistan in order to avoid crossing Iran. In July 2001, a German diplomat was reported saying that the talks ended with the announcement from the US side: “Either we cover you with a carpet of gold [if you comply], or we cover you with a carpet of bombs”. Even the date when bombings would begin was given as of October 2001 [7]. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, nor with Osama bin Laden.

Rebuilding America’s Defenses, the most widely circulated document of the PNAC group, was developed by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, and devoted to matters of “maintaining US pre-eminence, thwarting rival powers and shaping the global security system according to US interests.” Section V, entitled “Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force”, includes the sentence: “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor”. Though not necessarily implying that Bush administration members were complicit in those attacks, it was often argued that PNAC members used the events of 9/11 as the “Pearl Harbor” that they needed––that is, as an “opportunity” to capitalize on in order to enact long-desired plans.

By the end of 2006, PNAC was “reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website”, with “a single employee left to wrap things up”. In 2006, Gary Schmitt, former executive director of the PNAC, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of its program in Advanced Strategic Studies, stated that PNAC had come “to a natural end” [8]. Instead, untiring neocon hawk Robert Kagan replaced it by the Foreign Policy Initiative.

2.2 Regime Change

The strategic reasoning followed by PNAC and the Bush jr. administration was formulated by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: “The world’s energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the US Department of Energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia’s economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy, and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.“ (Brzezinski, Z., 1997:125). “Moreover, they [the Central Asian Republics] are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely Russia, Turkey, and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region (ibid., 124).

From 1991 on, the United States relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders. The actual Ukraine crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. As much as this reality might be contested by Western rhetoric and subdued by the Western media, as much is it the dominant perception in Russia, China, or Iran.

Slowly, under President Gerald Ford and, especially President Jimmy Carter, an imperial revival emerged in the form of clandestine support for armed surrogates in Southern Africa and neoliberal military dictatorships in Latin America. The first large-scale imperial intervention involved massive support for the Islamist uprising against the secular government of Afghanistan and a mercenary jihadist invasion into the Southern member states of the Soviet Union, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the US (1979). Since September 11, 2001, US Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way. In the waning days of the Bush presidency, Special Operations forces were deployed in about 60 countries around the world. In 2013, elite U.S. forces were deployed in 134 countries around the globe. This 123% increase during the Obama years demonstrates how the U.S. has engaged in growing forms of overseas power projection. Conducted largely in the shadows by America’s most elite troops, the vast majority of these missions take place far from prying eyes, media scrutiny, or any type of outside oversight, increasing the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences. SOCOM is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 personnel in 2014, up from 33,000 in 2001. Funding for the command has also jumped exponentially as its baseline budget, $2.3 billion in 2001, hit $6.9 billion in 2013 ($10.4 billion, if you add in supplemental funding) (Turse, N. 2014).

In order to install governments obedient to US wishes and interests, US governments have been involved in and assisted in the overthrow of numerous foreign governments without the overt use of US military force. Often, such operations are tasked to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or, more tacitly, to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), (Lopez, A. 2014). Regime change has been attempted through direct involvement of US operatives, the funding and training of insurgency groups within these countries, anti-regime propaganda campaigns, coups d’état, and other activities [9].

The art of regime change, soft and hard, has been a well developed and important part of US foreign policy since the Iran coup in the early 1950s. Beginning with Serbia in 2000, “colored revolutions” have spread over most parts of the former Soviet allies (unsuccessful in Belarus), to Myanmar 2007 (unsuccessful) and North Africa. The propaganda is always the same, centered around catch words like democracy, human rights, prosperity, justice and freedom while in reality it is about installing capitalist friendly governments, deregulation, privatization, natural resources, military bases and armament sales, and containment of potential rivals (Moglia, J. 2014). Mass media, especially TV advertising, public opinion polls together with revolutionary cells plus indefinite money mostly from US public and private sources or exiled Russian oligarchs help to orchestrate the process of transition. The Open Society Fund with numerous subsidiaries including the Central European University are illustrative examples.

Conceived for the OK’98 civic campaign in Slovakia, the strategy has been progressively perfected and adapted to other contexts. In Serbia, this gave birth to what would be called the “Bulldozer Revolution” and led to the end of the Milosevic regime. It then spread to other contexts, featuring protests and regime changes in Georgia, Ukraine, and to a limited extent, Kyrgyzstan. The deployment of that strategy is perfectly visible, with all the events in a clear sequence: unpopular regime, falsification of elections, street protests and the political death of the current president. Because of their high non-violent component, they resemble more a massive party than direct confrontation with the authorities. Whilst regimes in countries like Belarus and Uzbekistan tightened control on international funding and NGOs, Georgia and Ukraine remained relatively liberal in this respect. Both countries were open to Western influence whilst still keeping decent relations with Moscow. The Central European University is selecting what is to become the elite of those countries. Programs of assistance to Ukrainian and Georgian students are well established in the USA and in loco. One could interpret each of those “color revolutions” as arm wrestling between Moscow and Washington, with the EU timidly trying to have a voice (Polese, A. 2011).

US governments’ actions for regime change implied many thousands of people murdered (Blum, W., 2004). Operation Gladio, supervised by NATO and masterminded by Washington, had the sole purpose of preventing leftist parties in Europe of being democratically elected (Ganser, D., 2005). Operacion Condor (Calloni 2010) used terror regimes and death squadrons throughout Latin America to secure subservient governments, no matter how cruel (Davies, N.J.S. 2014). At the very moment of writing, regime change operations can be observed in Egypt, Thailand, Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine. They all are being prepared and accompanied by carefully planned propaganda campaigns. In none of these and the many former cases have such meddlings brought about democratic governments. Quite opposite, the result was usually some sort of corrupt junta grabbing power whose sole benefit was to further enrich a small cabal of local criminals plus their US accomplices. Widespread poverty, social polarization and conflict are the common consequences (Mitchell, G. 2014; Gosztola, K. 2014; Vance, L.M. 2014). PNACs foreign policy has failed everywhere, without exception. Instead of regimes favorable to the US and obedient to its rule, they created chaos, fear and hostility. PNAC has prepared the coffin in which US global power is going to be buried.

Their greatest achievement was to what extent they got through with their neoconservative ideology, and made it the basic political philosophy in Western and, even more so, in the transition countries of Eastern Europe. Their greatest mistake of truly global impact was the diligent dismissal of disarmament and peace proposals submitted by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbatchev from 1986 on. They did not even test the seriousness of his proposals. Eager to deliver a deadly blow to the global competitor, they helped to oust its charismatic leader and replace him with a pathological alcoholic, Boris Yeltsin. The primary people behind this project were Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney. The same can be said with respect to President Putin’s proposals for confidence building and closer cooperation which have been rejected right away by the Obama administration.

“Why does the Obama administration choose this type of foreign policy? The main reason is that the above-targeted countries had slid out of the US orbit of control, and only these far-right groups are interested in getting their country back into the US orbit. Ultimately, US capitalists gain mountains of profit when a country is dependent on US loans, US-made weapons, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, etc. This is why the US establishment — now represented by the Obama administration — will not simply leave Latin America, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe to be independent or fall into the orbit of a competing regional power like Russia. There is simply too much profit at stake. Peace is not an option” (Cooke, S., 2014).

2.3 The Strategy of Tension

How was all this made acceptable to the American people? The strategy of tension is a tactic that aims to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions. [10]. The strategy played a special role inside the US. Americans who grew up in the 1950s lived lives of constant fear—fear that communists were everywhere, fear that communism was a contagious illness of the mind that was spreading throughout America and the rest of the world, and fear that the Soviet Union was going to initiate a nuclear attack on the United States. Fear became the coin of the realm for the national-security state. Peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union was the last thing that US officials wanted. It wouldn’t justify the rise of the permanent military establishment, a foreign empire of military bases, a CIA, a NSA, covert operations, spying, foreign interventionism, coups, assassinations, torture, surveillance, spying, and support of foreign dictatorships (Hornberger, J.G. 2013).

In 2013, President Obama, almost echoing infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, brought the enemy even closer, arguing in a speech at the National Defense University that “we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States” — radicalized individuals who were “deranged or alienated individuals — often U.S. citizens or legal residents.” The subtext is that if we want to catch them we need to start looking within. The pretext for the surveillance state is thus established.

“By sowing mistrust, by stripping us of our privacy, by taking away our rights, by subjecting us to arbitrary and irrational rules, and by constantly reminding us that this is the only thing between us and death by the hands of terrorists, the T.S.A. and its ilk are sowing fear. And by doing so, they are playing directly into the terrorists’ hands.”

A perfect example of such misdirection of fear took place in the case of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, in which the Boston Police Department effectively imposed martial law and seized control of people’s homes. The bombings were terrible (three people died and more than 260 were injured), but just two days later another terrible thing happened: a giant explosion in a fertilizer plant in Texas killed at least 14 people and injured more than 160. Could it have been terrorists? Saddam Hussein allegedly developed WMDs – and Condoleezza Rice already warned of a “mushroom cloud over America”. But while the US spends more than 7 billion dollars a year on the T.S.A.’s national security theater in which over 58,000 T.S.A. employees make sure not too much toothpaste or shampoo is being carried onto airplanes, the budget for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is under $600 million per year (Ludlow, P. 2014).

The term “nation” is a frequent trigger to create the unthinking crowd reaction. George Bush’s 9/11 address is an example of how he went about creating crowd support for his policies. Over and over, his words stressed the idea that the terrorism of that day was an attack on every American. He led off with “Our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack.” He went on to shape the psychological reactions that would provide the ground for his policies: “…have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.” At this point he invoked the nation: “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.” “I’ve directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice” (Rozeff, M.S. 2014). Most ironically, not one person has been brought to justice because of the 9/11 attacks! Patriotism is a major device to secure blind conformity with the governments dealings (Sullivan, C. no date; Kimberley, M. 2014).

The strategy of tension will work best in an environment where general education is poor (The War on Kids 2014; America ‘Dead Last’ In Education, 2013) and where the media are more or less streamlined. There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. But there was no single paper, nor a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam (Blum, W. 2014; Lobe, J. 2014; Lyngbaek, A. 2014). Media have never been more consolidated; six media giants control some ninety percent of what US citizens read, watch, or listen to. Some of them do cooperate, directly or indirectly, with intelligence agencies (Solomon, W. 2014).

3. The Deep State

In reality, the world is increasingly governed by the Deep State (also called the Secret Government, Moyers, B. 1987), uncontrolled by democratic mechanisms, time and again discussed by some “conspiracy theorists”, with massive evidence only recently revealed by Wikileaks and Edward Snowdon. Although President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets due to incessant Republican stonewalling, he can liquidate alleged terrorists without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, he can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever.

In 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze Washington, the government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya and to provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention in Mali. At the time of heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, the government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of our electronic life (Lofgren, M., 2014).

“Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

The Deep State is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also includes the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress.

“There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction in and around the Washington suburbs. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors [Edward Snowdon’s former employer; owned by the Carlyle Group]. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.”

The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated:

“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, they almost invariably believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior. Through long established though more and more intensified forms of cooperation, the Deep State reaches far beyond the borders of the US (Lofgren, M., 2014).

When the House voted not to rein in the NSA’s phone-spying dragnet, it turned out that the 217 “no” voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 “yes” voters. The investigation showed that defense cash was a better predictor of a member’s vote than party affiliation. House members who voted to continue the massive phone-call-metadata spy program, on average, raked in 122 percent more money from defense contractors than those who voted to dismantle it. Political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $12.97 million in donations for a two-year period ending December 31, 2012. Lawmakers who voted to continue the NSA dragnet-surveillance program averaged $41,635 from the pot, whereas House members who voted to repeal authority averaged $18,765 (Boehm, E. 2014).

America’s national-security elites act on the assumption that every nook and cranny of the globe is of great strategic significance and that there are threats to US interests everywhere. Not surprisingly, they live in a constant state of fear. There must be a policy of global domination to make the world safe for America. A short look at the map shows that this perception is ridiculously wrong. The ruling class is creating those very enemies it strives to combat. The national security state is remarkably unchecked and unbalanced. In recent times, that labyrinthine structure of intelligence agencies morphing into war-fighting outfits, the US military (with its own secret military, the special operations forces, gestating inside it), and the Department of Homeland Security, a monster conglomeration of agencies that is an actual “defense department,” as well as a vast contingent of weapons makers, contractors, and profiteers bolstered by an army of lobbyists, has never stopped growing (Kravets, D. 2013, London, E. 2014).

“Obama is just a willing executioner. From the ruling class’s point of view, he’s the perfect figurehead because his mere appearance confuses and disarms so many. He seems to have spent his whole life trying to get chosen to play Judas. And that’s all there is in his resume” (Whitney, M. 2014; see also Ford, G. 2014a; Ford, G. 2014b; Chomsky, N. 2014).

A stunning new report compiles extensive evidence on how some of the world’s largest corporations have partnered with private intelligence firms and government intelligence agencies to spy on activist and nonprofit groups. Environmental activism is a prominent though not exclusive focus of these activities. One of the groups that has been targeted the most, and by a range of different corporations, is Greenpeace. In the 1990s, Greenpeace was tracked by private security firm Beckett Brown International (BBI) on behalf of the world’s largest chlorine producer, Dow Chemical, due to the environmental organisation’s campaigning against the use of chlorine to manufacture paper and plastics.

Other Greenpeace offices in France and Europe were hacked and spied on by French private intelligence firms at the behest of Électricité de France, the world’s largest operator of nuclear power plants, 85% owned by the French government. Oil companies Shell and BP had also reportedly hired Hackluyt, a private investigative firm with “close links” to MI6, to infiltrate Greenpeace. Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations – including the US Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON – have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers” (Ruskin, G. 2013).

The Deep State is built on the structural advantage the executive has over the legislative and the judiciary [11]. It is the executive which is the prime target of lobbying and donations; it has direct access to law enforcement, repressive and intelligence agencies; it is partner in international negotiations; object of the media, and discusses with economic giants. While in theory democracy rests on checks and balances, the executive always has a tendency to undermine democratic control. A disturbing result of such imbalance is the incredible amount of money dumped in the military without any proper accounting (Black Budget 2013). Most of the official excitement over NSA’s spying is deeply hypocritical: Of course were intelligence services spying not only on other countries, or dissident groups, but also on industry. This was already the case under the Echelon spy system. As long as executive branches perceive each other in the framework of a competitive world this is unlikely to change. Democratic control mechanisms are much too weak to be effective. Very often governments are being kept in the dark about their own spy agency’s cooperation with NSA (Greenwald, G. 2014; Counter Intelligence: The Deep State).

Covert operations are usually criminal activities conducted by states or state-like institutions. Very often they are close to state terrorism (torture, renditions, false flag, regime change, war mongering, warrantless spying). There is also criminal behavior in corporations [12]. Corporate lobbies, together with bribed politicians, make laws to protect and facilitate unlawful behavior and shield it from law enforcement. Laws are made in their favor [13]. Money laundering helps to wash money of criminal origin and to invest it in legal businesses. The borderlines between legal and illegal behavior is increasingly blurred. Financial industries are especially inclined [14]. Gladio has used Mafia killers to prevent leftists from being democratically elected into office, the German BND uses right wing extremists and criminals to infiltrate neo-Nazi parties. The “enemy within”-theory is used to justify internal repression what, however, has already been practiced for decades to control opposition and dissent. Vice President Dick Cheney was said to command his personal killer squadron and to have personally approved torture, as does Obama (Harris-Gershon, D. 2013; Zenko, M. 2013).

Neoconservative ideology has helped to dismantle state regulations and transfer wealth to the 1%. Now, they are in a position to influence much of state legislation in their favor. They and their fortunes are protected by hosts of lawmakers, managers, accounting firms, lawyers, tax consultants, think tanks, radio stations, film studios, publishers, media outlets, researchers, ghostwriters, lobbyists, body guards and other lackeys in their service. As private property is the golden calf of capitalism, and unregulated capitalism has become the bible of the ruling class, they can even mobilize police forces and ultimately the military on their behalf. Here, the nation-state and its government remain important agencies. Nation-states can easily be played off against each other for, e.g., tax evasion. Still the rich manage to be admired in public as the true heroes of society, the stars of success, and the personification of what was once called the American Dream (Polk, S. 2014).

This is the end of democracy as we knew it, and the definite takeover of plutocracy.

2.6 Case Studies

9/11 – Crime Covered up

The amended Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Through Action to Combat Impunity, submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 8 February 2005, defines impunity as:

“the impossibility, de jure or de facto, of bringing the perpetrators of violations to account – whether in criminal, civil, administrative or disciplinary proceedings – since they are not subject to any inquiry that might lead to their being accused, arrested, tried and, if found guilty, sentenced to appropriate penalties, and to making reparations to their victims” [15].

There are serious doubts with respect to the 9/11 Commission report: Members of the 9/11 Commission, as well as its executive director Philip Zelikow, had conflicts of interest. Zelikow had closer ties with the White House than he publicly disclosed and had tried to influence the final report in ways that the staff often perceived as limiting the Bush administration’s responsibility and furthering its anti-Iraq agenda. Zelikow had at least four private conversations with former White House political director Karl Rove, and appears to have had many frequent telephone conversations with people in the White House. White House lawyers attempted to stonewall the creation of the commission and to hamstring its work from the outset (Shenon, P. 2013).

The two co-chairs of the Commission, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, believe that the government established the Commission in a way that ensured that it would fail. In their book Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (Kean, T.H., Hamilton, L.H. 2006) describing their experience, Hamilton listed a number of reasons for reaching this conclusion, including: the late establishment of the Commission and the very short deadline imposed on its work; the insufficient funds, initially allocated for conducting such an extensive investigation (later the Commission requested additional funds but received only a fraction of the funds requested and the chairs still felt hamstrung); the many politicians who opposed the establishment of the Commission; the continuing resistance and opposition to the work of the Commission by many politicians, particularly those who did not wish to be blamed for any of what happened; the deception of the Commission by various key government agencies, including the Department of Defense, NORAD and the FAA; and, the denial of access by various agencies to documents and witnesses. “So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail.”

Troubled by the fact that so many of the facts related to 9/11 remain uninvestigated, in 2013 I asked about a dozen friends and colleagues in the US academe: “Could you please help me to understand why nobody takes the perpetrators to court with all the evidence provided?” I only received one serious reaction which I quote here in anonymity:

“First, I cannot say I believe the official narrative because there was no careful scientific study of the event by government officials. The events of September 11, 2001 are therefore open to alternative theories. All theories about this event, including the official one, are by definition conspiracy theories, i.e. explanations for criminal events by reference to a plot conceived by two or more persons in secret. To trust any theory about a conspiracy (or anything, for that matter) without a careful review of all the evidence would be irresponsible. I remain agnostic on the matter.

Second, I do not believe that the US government will conduct a careful scientific study of the event. Not given things as they stand today. If the official version were shown to be false in any nontrivial regard, then that might risk delegitimizing the war on terror. As a rationale for imperialism and domestic repression, the war on terror is much too important to lose in these times of crisis. Even the perception that things didn’t happen the way the government says they did could mean trouble. Therefore the matter is closed. The Commission Report is definitive. There will be no criminal investigation.

Third, anybody in the United States who espouses alternative theories, especially in the academy, is ridiculed and marginalized. The people I know who find several aspects of the official narrative problematic have reckoned that, in light of the almost certain truth that speaking up will have no effect, the personal costs of challenging the government theory are greater than the public benefits. The United States is now a closed and punishing society. People are hunkered down. Why risk one’s career for nothing? No alternative theory will gain any popular traction.

Fourth, even if we accept the official narrative, key acknowledged facts prove criminal negligence by the Bush Administration. This event would not have happened had the government dedicated itself to preventing it. However, for reasons already noted, these facts have and will continue to amount to nothing. Bush and his staff will never be held responsible for the worst security failure in US history. Obama is continuing – indeed expanding and entrenching – the neoconservative policies of his predecessor. He has no interest in pursuing a criminal investigation into criminal negligence.

So, in a real sense, the question of whether this happened the way the government says it did, is somewhat beside the point. It happened the way they did because that’s the way they need it to be. However it happened, they would have used it to devastate society.”

To be sure: The point here is not about finding out the truth of what happened how, and who is responsible. Rather, the question is who is actively preventing a new investigation in all the doubts on the table.

“The
 9/11
 attacks
 were
 used
 to
 justify
 an
 institutional
 revolution
 meant
 to
 complete
 a
 process
 of
 integration
 and
 coordination
 of
 all
 the
 assets
 of
 US
 national
 power
 through
 a
 strategic
 communication
 (SC)
 campaign
 deployed
 on
 a
 global
 scale. 
The
 ‘Global
 War
 on
 Terror’
 (GWOT)
 nurtured
 a
 narrative
 of
 crisis
 associated
 with
 this
 unprecedented
 public
 education
 effort.
 In
 order
 to
 sell
 its
 approaches,
 the
 United
 States
 government
 relied
 on
 a
 network
 of
 ‘experts’:
 military
 veterans,
 high‐ranking
 officers
such
 as
 Admirals
 as
 well
 as
 professional
 journalists
 and
 academics
 who
 contributed
 to
 forging
 a
 consensus,
or,
 as
 Michel
Foucault
 would
 call
 it,
 a
 ‘regime
 of
 truth’
 that
 claims
 a
 certain
 interpretation
 to 
be 
right 
and 
true, 
while
 ignoring 
or 
discrediting 
critics 
and 
dissenting 
narratives” (Gygax, J., Snow, N. 2013”).

Much of the official narrative of 9/11 was based on the confessions of Khaled Sheikh Mohammad which, however, were pressed out of him under torture not only of himself but also of his son in his plain sight.

Ukraine – Regime Change

For years, the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine was of minor importance. Many European politicians, first of all the German Chancellor, showed provocative disinterest in Ukraine. When, in November 2013, Russia asked for access to the negotiation table, it was rebuffed by the EU.

While Brussels was playing for time, the US was preparing the overthrow of the government. Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been surrounding Russia, building one base after another, ceaselessly looking for new ones, including in Ukraine. The US deployment of new weapon systems in Eastern Europe is consistent with a plan for antagonizing Moscow that was proposed in the Washington Post by the Obama administration’s ideological godfather, Zbigniew Brzezinski, immediately after a group of self-proclaimed Maidan leaders chased away the elected government. It betrays all those who suspect that he might have changed his position in his recent publications:

“The West should promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine as legitimate. Uncertainty regarding its legal status could tempt Putin to repeat his Crimean charade. … Meanwhile, NATO forces, consistent with the organization’s contingency planning, should be put on alert. High readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U.S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful. If the West wants to avoid a conflict, there should be no ambiguity in the Kremlin as to what might be precipitated by further adventurist use of force in the middle of Europe” (Brzezinski, Z. 2014).

The US had tried, but failed, to take Ukraine in 2004 with the Washington-financed “Orange Revolution.” According to Assistant Secretary of State (and wife to PNAC godfather Robert Kagan) Victoria Nuland, since this failure Washington has “invested” $5 billion in Ukraine in order to foment agitation for EU membership for Ukraine [16]. EU membership would open Ukraine to looting by Western bankers and corporations, but Washington’s main goal is to establish US missile bases on Russia’s border with Ukraine and to deprive Russia of its Black Sea naval base and military industries in eastern Ukraine. EU membership for Ukraine means NATO membership (Roberts, P.C. 2014).

When President Yanukovich declared on 21 November he would not sign the EU association agreement, clashes erupted in the streets of Kiev. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets and to Maidan Square on December weekends. This was the critical stage of a campaign fueled by the three opposition parties “Fatherland” (Yuljia Tymochenko, Arsenji Yatsenyuk), “Bang” (German Konrad Adenauer Foundation funded box champion Vitali Klitschko) and “Freedom” (Svoboda leader and closely tied in the network of European fascist parties, Oleh Tjahnybok). Their common goal was to oust President Viktor Yanukovych whose Party of the Regions had succeeded in the 2012 elections. Kiev’s membership in the EU would then not be far off; after which the country could embrace the joys of neo-conservatism, receiving the benefits of the standard privatization-deregulation-austerity package and join Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain as an impoverished orphan of the family. Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Olga Kovitidi, described as predatory the terms of an agreement Kiev is ready to accept from the International Monetary Fund (Voice of Russia, 2014).

Since the 2004 revolt, fascist militias had been built up and payed for who would now ignite the actual uprisings and prevent compromise (Svoboda, Right Sector). They call for violence, and occupy provincial governments in the mostly agricultural and right-wing West of the country. In the Western regions of Lwow, Ternopol, Rovno, Luzk and Iwano-Frankowsk and others, they stormed office buildings and pressed governors to sign their resignations. While thousands of people took part in anti-government protests in Kiev, a small group of radical fighters were at the core of the violent clashes. Judging by their looks and actions, they are armed, trained and prepared for war. Apart from individual gear, the rioters know urban guerrilla tactics. The protesters were also well-prepared for offensive. They had a wide assortment of melee weapons.

The National Endowment for Democracy website [17] lists 65 projects that it has supported financially in recent years in Ukraine. Their programs impart the basic philosophy that people are best served under a system of free enterprise, minimal government intervention in the economy, and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform, and growth; and the merits of foreign investment in their economy are emphasized. The NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities. NED receives virtually all its financing from the US government. Why were Washington officials grooming a replacement for President Yanukovych, legally and democratically elected in 2010, who, in the face of protests, moved elections up so he could have been voted out of office – not thrown out by a mob? Yanukovych made repeated important concessions, including amnesty for those arrested and offering, on January 25, to make two of his adversaries prime minister and deputy prime minister; all to no avail. Key elements of the protestors, and those behind them, wanted their putsch. Ukraine’s junta prime minister announced March 7 that he has invited the NATO Council to hold a meeting in Kiev over the recent developments in the country. “I invited the North Atlantic Council to visit Kiev and hold a meeting there,” Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a visit to Brussels, where he met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and EU officials. “We believe that it will strengthen our cooperation” (Blum, W. 2014).

In addition to NED, the foreign donors included the U.S. State Department and USAID along with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the NGO Freedom House and the Open Society Institute (Ames, M. 2014). They all have supported non-governmental democracy-building efforts in Eastern Europe since 1988. Each of these social movements included extensive work by student activists.

The most famous of these was Otpor, the youth movement that helped bring in Vojislav Koštunica. In Georgia the movement was called Kmara. In Ukraine the movement has worked under the succinct slogan “Pora“ (“It’s Time”). Pora was built up in Ukraine in 2004 in order to assist in regime change. “We trained them in how to set up an organization, how to open a local chapter, how to develop a brand with logo, symbols, and key messages”, said an Otpor activist in the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “We trained them in how to detect societies‘ weaknesses and what the most burning problems of the population are.” Srdja Popovic, Otpor’s founder and director, was found to have close working relationships with US intelligence firm Stratfor. He boasted to be a revolutionary for hire (Gibson, C., Horn, S. 2013; Traynor, I. 2004).

Already in 1992-95, the IMF imposed structural adjustment program had reduced Ukraine’s GDP by sixty per cent. Now, condionalities for new credits include doubling gas prizes, increase fees for public services, cut social services and funds for education, limit wages and pensions, lay-offs in the public sector, investment guarantees for foreign private corporations, and devalue the currency, thus raising the prices of imports which include Russian gas, and open Ukrainian assets to takeover by Western corporations. Ukraine’s agriculture lands will pass into the hands of American agribusiness. It was all too clear for President Yanukovych and his partisans that the elections of 2015 could not be won on this basis. Permission to set up a missile shield, also included in the IMF package, was a pure provocation to Russia. Also, the 11 billion euros that the EU is offering Kiev is not aid, it is a loan. It comes with many strings, including Kiev’s acceptance of the IMF austerity plan.

The Obama administration’s rationale for supporting the fascist-led coup in Ukraine collapsed on March 7 when a hacked phone call between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet revealed that the snipers who fired on protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev on February 20, 2014, were not aligned with President Yanukovych, but with the protest leaders themselves. Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.

With pro-Russian candidates off the ballot, Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a dominant political power in Ukraine. He certainly is a bigger votegetter than Yatsenyuk, whose main responsibility is to negotiate with the West over financial aid and the EU package, and Vitali Klitschko who announced he will be running for mayor of Kiev. In recognition of Tyahnbyok’s clout, Svoboda members got the posts of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Ecology, and acting prosecutor general. A founder of the Social Nationalist party was made secretary of the Ukraine National Security and Defense Council. Several hundred members and supporters of the militant nationalist Right Sector swarmed Ukraine’s parliament building for the second day in a row on March 28 to demand the resignation of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and an investigation into the suspicious death earlier in the week of one of its leaders [17]. This new though illegal government composed according to US wishes and flattered by Western heads of state, has announced to sign the EU association agreement successively. It has asked the US for far-reaching military assistance. And it has brought the country’s gold reserves into US custody (Chossudovsky, M. 2014). They did not wait until a legitimate government were elected on May 25 but were eager to create faits accomplis.

“The conflicts in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria have one thing in common: In all three cases there are leading groups steering the “opposition” that want absolutely nothing to do with democracy — these groups are as far-right as politics gets: European-style fascism in Ukraine, Islamic extremism in Syria, and in Venezuela the elite-favored tradition of military dictatorships. But there has been a virtual U.S. media blackout as to the leadership of the movements in Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela, and for good reason; if these groups come to power, the country will be far worse off than it is now. The American public would give zero support to these groups if they knew the truth, which is why the level of U.S. media misinformation about these groups is as Orwellian as the workings of Obama’s NSA. (Cooke, S. 2014). A State Department official was quoted saying that the US would “affirm our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries and for all post-Soviet states” (Brunnstorm, D. 2014).

In strange uniformity the Western media have adopted an interpretation of events which ignores Western provocative actions as well as selfish interests of the West, and demonize President Putin and Russia (Smith, P. 2014). Interestingly enough, this goes to a large extent against public opinion as revealed in opinion polls. It is mostly the Western media which foment Cold War sentiments and thus play into the hands of neocon politicians.

 TIPP/TTIP

In 1995 the World Trade Organization (WTO) grew out of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Its first and most important project was the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) planned to concede to transnational corporations far-reaching rights against member states. After first draft texts were leaked and developing countries opposed the thrust of the negotiations, the negotiation process was transferred to the OECD, the organization of highly industrialized countries in order to “avoid undue politization”. When draft texts were passed over to NGOs, a broad public campaign began to oppose the agreement which finally led first to a moratorium, then to an end of the negotiations. However, some of the intended contents became included in numerous bilateral agreements. Now new efforts are being made to once again establish agreements friendly to TNC wishes: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). While both processes are kept behind closed doors in almost total secrecy, it happens, once again, that NGOs could get hold of individual sections of drafts under negotiation.

“Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents.”

The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU pact TTIP, for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013. Together, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than sixty per cent of global GDP. Both pacts exclude China. Since the beginning of the TPP negotiations, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty’s chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy. Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text. The Obama administration is preparing to fast-track the TPP treaty in a manner that will prevent the US Congress from discussing or amending any parts of the treaty. The longest section of the Chapter – ’Enforcement’ – is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons. Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards. The draft states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence [19].

On April 30, 2007, a Framework Agreement was signed between the EU and the US. With it, the Trans-Atlantic Economic Council was set up to prepare negotiations which then started formally by mid-2013. A High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth chaired by US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht was entrusted with bringing the negotiations forward. Its membership was not publicly disclosed until the Corporate Europe Observatory revealed their background in Business Europe and the Bertelsmann Foundation, both with strong neoliberal inclinations. None of them had a democratic mandate.

Primarily, TTIP is about the abolishment of non-tariff trade barriers, rules and standards. This includes, e.g., the clear declaration of genetically manipulated organisms in food which is mandatory in the EU but not in the US. Corporations like Monsanto have since long been critical of such regulations and lobby their being abolished, so they can sell their seeds and products on the European market. Hydraulic Fracturing is common in the US but forbidden in the EU, including the import of shield gas. Another issue on the agenda is the withdrawel of controls and restrictions, introduced after the financial crisis of 2008, for the financial sector, with City of London lobbies on the forefront.

TTIP is heavily criticized by NGOs for being negotiated without any democratic participation. The effects on economic growth and employment put in favour of it by its proponents are expected to be only marginal while being more than offset in a race to the bottom by undermining environmental, health and work standards in the sole interests of corporate profits. A major critical issue is the planned Investor-State Dispute Settlement which gives corporations a one-way right to sue governments in case they see their profits endangered by public regulation, while states would not have similar rights. This mechanism would exclude any resort to the judiciary. Once signed, the convention could not be altered without unanimous consensus among all member parties.

As is the case with TPP, TTIP negotiations exclude not only the public but also members of national or European parliaments, even members of national governments from insight into the documents. Parallel to attempts to fast-track ratification in the US, it is under debate in the EU whether or not the European Commission shall be the only responsible to sign the final legally binding contract.

The hurry which the US government is imposing on the negotiations is easily understandable: With European Parliament elections on May 25, and Obama’s term of office expiring, with Russia’s gas deal with China and its efforts to get rid of its US-dollar reserves, the agreements are on high risk, indeed. They might not survive public scrutiny once the texts are fully exposed.

4. Conclusion

“Illegitimate authority is on the rise and democracy is gradually succumbing to the disease of neoliberal ideology so that more and more functions of legitimate government are being assumed by illegitimate, unelected, opaque agents and organisations. This is the case at all levels, national, regional and international…. It is not exactly news that governments have always governed on behalf of certain class interests but this is different from allowing those interests to actually write the legislation and to make policy directly, including budgetary, financial, labour, social and environmental policy in the place of elected legislators and civil servants. It is different from allowing private corporations deliberately to disseminate deception and lies and undermine the public’s right to know. It’s not just their size, their enormous wealth and assets that make the TNCs dangerous to democracy. It’s also their concentration, their capacity to influence, and often infiltrate, governments and their ability to act as a genuine international social class in order to defend their commercial interests against the common good” (George, S. 2014).

Susan George accurately describes the paths our Western societies are following, the US most advanced, others lagging somewhat behind. It seems to be a one-way process without any escape towards democracy.

The global ruling class feeling that US world hegemony is approaching its end and uncertain about its own fate seems to be obsessed by paranoia, and running amok with only one goal left: to fill as much as possible into its own coffers. It even abstains from the impression of following the rule of law. Belligerent behavior towards other countries goes hand in hand with sharply increasing social tensions and conflict within.

US exceptionalism, by its very definition, is the deep conviction of one’s general superiority over others. Thus, it is a fundamentally intolerant and pre-enlightenment attitude. At the same time, it tends to turn a blind eye against own shortcomings and deficits. From it follows the self-attributed right to teach others, to impose on others one’s role model of morale and of social organization, to exert power on others, to maintain the role of world policeman. Contempt of international law follows from the idea that law is as we do. Little wonder that others in the course of political, economic, and cultural emancipation, decreasingly accept this master-and-serf model of power distribution. There is revolt in other parts of the world, and sometimes violently critical of “the West”. The world will de-Americanize, as one Chinese diplomat put it. But real and lasting change must come from within US society.

 Notes and References

 All internet sources have been checked end of march 2014

 Notes

 [1] born 28.2.1961 in Syrjanowsk, East Kasachstan, has nothing to do with Fred C. Koch, the father of the Koch brothers, owners of Koch industries, born 23.9.1900 in Texas

[2] http://www.nationalhomeless.org/

[3] among the sources used here are: Homeless line up for food, Los Angeles weighs restrictions, New York Times, 26 November 2013; http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37243.htm; Homeless in Detroit allege they are being driven out of downtown, http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/11/28/homeless-in-detroitallegetheyarebeingdrivenoutofdowntown.html; Buchheit, P. (2013a), 3 Shocking Ways Inequality Keeps Getting Worse in America, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37256.htm; Poverty in America Is Mainstream, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/02/poverty-in-america-is-mainstream/; America’s Food Stamp Cut Stories You Probably Haven’t Heard About, http://mediamattersforamerica.tumblr.com/post/70211048750/americas-food-stamp-cut-stories-you-probably-havent; A Record Number of Americans Can’t Afford Their Rent, http://www.alternet.org/record-number-americans-cant-afford-their-rent; Thousands of Homeless People Live in Shantytowns at the Epicenter of High-Tech, Super-Rich Silicon Valley, http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/jungle-thousands-homeless-people-live-shantytowns-epicenter-high-tech-super-rich; 30 Percent Of Americans Skip Out On Medical Care Because It’s Too Expensive, http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/12/10/3041821/americans-skip-health-care-2013/; Zeese, K., Flowers, M., America Is the Most Inhumane Developed Country on the Planet. Are We Going to Let It Stay That Way? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37134.htm; Buchheit, P., (2013b), Retirement Theft in 4 Despicable Steps, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37313.htm; The war on women: The newly invisible and undeserving poor in America, http://opendemocracy.net/5050/ruth-rosen/war-on-women-newly-invisible-and-undeserving-poor-in-america; Black Women Are 40 Percent More Likely To Die From Breast Cancer Than White Women, http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/12/20/3095981/black-women-breast-cancer-mortality/; Covert, B., (2013), Forty Percent Of Workers Made Less Than $20,000 Last Year, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37243.htm

[4] The Case for Goliath: how America acts as the world’s government in the twenty-first century (2005); Democracy’s Good Name: the rise and risks of  the world’s most popular form of government (2007); Frugal Superpower: America’s global leadership in a cash-strapped era (2010)

[5] Landay, J.M., (2002), The Powell Manifesto: How a Prominent Lawyer’s Attack Memo Changed America, mediatransparency.org, August 20, cited in Nace, T., 2003:137

[6] see Committee on the Present Danger homepage, http://www.committeeonthepresentdanger.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=50&Itemid=54

[7] see, among other sources, Galtung, J., (2007), The State of the World, Journal of Futures Studies, 12, August, 1: 145 – 160

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_actions

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategy_of_tension

[11] One of the few who have intensively written about the Deep State is Peter Dale Scott (see, for a fist intro, Peter Dale Scott, “The American Deep State, Deep Events, and Off-the-Books Financing,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 14, No. 3, April 6, 2014; and his website with large amounts of material: http://www.peterdalescott.net/q.html)

[12] http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/, see their archives

[13] 26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12, http://rt.com/usa/low-corporate-tax-rates-275/

[14] The examples are too many to be cited; a few recent headlines must suffice: Nader, R., (), Medical Price Gouging Skyrocketing, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37383.htm; Parramore, L.S., (), The Ayn Rand-Worshipping Sears CEO That Blew Up His Multibillion Dollar Empire, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37069.htm; Buchheit, P., (), 5 Ways Our Lives Are Being Violated by Corporate Greed, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37028.htm; Reich, R., (), The Year of the Great Redistribution, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37305.htm; Hudson, M. (), The “Iron-fisted Kleptocratic Financial Oligarchy”. 95% Income Growth Goes to the 1%. Video. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37389.htm

[20] Eskow, R., (2014a), Now We Know. JPMorgan Chase is Worse Than Enron, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37445.htm; Eskow, R., (2014b), Crime Doesn’t Pay? JPMorgan Chase Begs to Differ, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37481.htm; JPMorgan gives CEO Jamie Dimon a raise despite shelling out $20 bln in fines, http://rt.com/usa/jpmorgan-dimon-raise-fines-165/; £2m: average pay award for JP Morgan’s top staff in 2012 revealed, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/01/2m-average-bonus-jp-morgan-bankers?CMP=twt_fd; JPMorgan Chase Nears a $2 Billion Deal in a Case Tied to Madoff, http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/jpmorgan-chase-nears-a-2-billion-deal-in-a-case-tied-to-madoff/?_r=0; Bank pays bribe to avoid jail, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/07/jpmorgan-fined-in-madoff-case/4354087/; New Revelation : AG Eric Holder Is Protecting JPMorgan Chase NYC From Criminal Investigation:

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/18387-new-revelation-that-attorney-general-eric-holder-is-protecting-jpmorgan-chase-nyc-from-criminal-investigation

[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impunity

[16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSxaa-67yGM#t=89

[17] www.ned.org

[18] http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/right-sector-pickets-parliament-demands-avakovs-resignation-341218.html

[19] https://wikileaks.org/tpp/pressrelease.html

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Bernd Hamm is professor emeritus of sociology, University of Trier, Germany. His recent publications include Devastating Society – The Neo-conservative Assault on Democracy and Justice (London 2005), Cultural Imperialism – Essays on the Political Economy of Cultural Domination (ed. together with Russell Smandych, Ann Arbor 2005) and Umweltkatastrophen (Environmental Catastrophies, Marburg 2011). He can be reached under [email protected]

Just before his election Ukraine’s President Poroshenko remarked:

“Russia is our biggest neighbor and taking into account that we have to stop the war and bring peace to Ukraine and stability to the eastern part of the country, it is impossible to do without Russian officials, without meeting with the Russian leadership in the first half of June”.

So, whether or not President Poroshenko makes an early visit to Moscow, his election could bring a resolution of the Ukraine crisis – provided he has the full backing of the EU and an end to United States intervention. For Russian foreign policy has always had two strands – isolationist and nationalist; and pan-European. And President Putin’s is no exception. The West has done much to get Russia – not just Mr. Putin – to act on the former, despite an overall preference for the latter, which is now on ‘life support’. There was real regret in the remark on May 23 of Russia’s exceptionally able Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov: “Our Western partners rejected a truly historic chance to build a greater Europe”.

The importance of crisis resolution

This lamentable confrontation over the Ukraine is in the interests neither of the EU nor of Russia. And this is certainly not the time for ‘Putin bashing’ which so fashionable right now – even (as Prince Charles appears to have done) comparing him to Hitler! For, as President Obama observed when he was attempting to ‘reset’ US/Russia relations, very little can be done in today’s world without Russia. And the world needs Europe, east and west, to speak with one voice on the important issues where the interests of both coincide, particularly on the existential challenges mankind is now facing.

The West’s contribution to the crisis

The Ukraine (‘the border’) is Russia’s Near West and the EU’s Near East – of Europe, whose culture and history both share. Sadly the West has offered nothing but confrontation to Russia since then US Secretary of State James Baker on 9 February 1989 famously declared in the Kremlin that there would be “no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east” (of a reunited Germany). Poland and the other East European countries – including the Baltics – did join NATO in 1999, but by then Russia’s concern had largely been met by the formation of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council in 1998.

After Russia’s recovery from the collapse of the Soviet Union, and four years after the US ‘shock and awe’ invasion of Iraq, President Putin made a remarkably conciliatory speech on 10 February 2007 at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy. He offered Russia’s cooperation over world affairs provided the US reined in its “hyper use of military power in international relations which is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts”.  NATO described this perfectly reasonable warning as ‘unhelpful’. Mr. Putin was snubbed (and so was Foreign Minister Lavrov whose views these were). The full speech deserves reading. 

Barely a year later (2008), ignoring Russia altogether, President G W Bush pushed for the Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO. So it was no surprise that Russia reacted forcefully when Georgian President Saakashvili imprudently attacked South Ossetia that same year. A US military mission and of course, the CIA were in Georgia but the US made no attempt to stop him. What is surprising is that the West failed to learn this lesson. For it obviously applied even more to Russia’s far greater interests in the Ukraine – not only for security but culturally and historically, Kiev being Russia’s ‘birthplace’.

Lack of consultation and US intervention

Clearly the European Union should have acted in consultation with Russia when the western Ukrainians sought close association with it. But no. Even when the Maidan demonstrations gathered force, the EU had no concrete proposals to make both to the protesters and to the then embattled east Ukraine-leaning Kiev government to allay the legitimate concerns of east Ukrainians – and indeed Russia. (Mr Putin is as much to blame for he made no positive suggestions from the Russian side when closer EU/Ukraine relations were being negotiated).

It was into this vacuum that the US intervened the neo-conservatives in the lead. US Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland – who is married to Robert Kagan, a top neo-conservative in the tradition of G W Bush’s Vice President Cheney – was among those confirming this with her notorious ‘epithet deleted’ open line phone call disparaging the EU. This less than competent American involvement by both State and CIA taking on Russia’s ‘special services’ on their home ground under their ex-KGB President’s direct control, has greatly exacerbated the crisis and done great harm to resolving what is a pan-European, not an American problem. 

Failure to guide the interim government 

After the ouster of President Yanukovych, who comes from Ukraine’s east, neither the EU nor the US reined in the interim take-over pro-EU government in Kiev to make sure it demonstrated full respect for the east. On the contrary, neither appealed to this temporary government not to pass, as it did on 22 February, a disastrous law repealing the 2012 law which permitted Russian to be widely used for official business. More than anything else that was taken as signaling total disregard for the interests of Russian speaking east Ukraine – it aroused both fear and resentment, and alienated many.

From all this anyone in the Kremlin would have deduced that the US was bidding for dominance in the Ukraine, taking advantage of both EU impotence and Russian weakness – even perhaps aiming at regime change in Moscow. It was in these circumstances that Mr. Putin seized the opportunity to ride this wave of fear and uncertainty to annex the Crimea, whipping up Russian nationalism with the apparent aim of re-establishing Russian hegemony over the whole Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s isolationist nationalism is – from what he himself has said – dominated by his own antipathy and resentment towards, and even fear of, the US.

The pressures on Putin

But, just as the EU is loath to lose much financially from this confrontation, so President Putin, like the czar autocrats before him, must take account of the financial interests of Russia’s élite, now the oligarchs – and indeed the attachment to Europe of the bulk of Russia’s best educated classes. A large proportion of the Russian people look on askance at Putin’s crowd of chauvinists and the West should not assume that those alone represent Russian opinion.

Even in Soviet times, as those who visited discovered, educated Russians were not ignorant of what’s going on in the world.  Today, now helped with social media, they know even more of what they aren’t supposed to know, let alone express. Russians have a lifetime behind them of reading between the lines and the most important elements want to rejoin their Europe and the world – not be a pariah nation as in Soviet days.

Still not too late to find a solution

If, before Mr. Poroshenko’s talks with the Kremlin, the EU (distinct from the US) were to take up Mr. Lavrov’s regret at the confrontation that has come about, no matter how,  and instead offer cooperation starting with the Ukraine, this would greatly help the new Ukrainian president in any talks with Mr. Putin and others in the Kremlin.

The Lavrov Europeans could be listened to again and the SVR and ‘special services’ might no longer hold such sway. Some positive ideas were floated before the annexation of the Crimea – such as inviting Mr. Putin to renew his offer of $15bn to the Ukraine and the EU matching this, $30bn being the amount assessed as needed to rebuild the Ukraine’s economy, this Marshall-type plan to be administered by a joint EU/Russian commission in consultation with the elected Ukrainian government. Now there would also have to be some substantial ‘give’ by Russia over its governance of the Ukraine before any such solution guaranteeing the economic and military neutrality would be politically possible.

 John Pedler  is a former British diplomat, now a diplomatic consultant currently based in France. Since the days of the USSR he has been closely concerned with US, and now more particularly EU, relations with Russia and the countries that made up the USSR.

His visits to the USSR and China as well as the EU countries give him valuable insight into Russia’s relations with its neighbours.                                                                       

International Observers Endorse Syrian Elections

June 3rd, 2014 by Eva Bartlett

Syria’s first multi-candidate presidential election in more than 40 years has begun earlier today. Facing strong and mostly hypocritical criticism from the West, the poll is about to demonstrate the real scale of public support President Assad is enjoying inside the country, heroically resisting foreign-sponsored aggression for more than three years. Expected pro-Assad voting in Syria would completely ruin Western narrative about a “tyrant killing his people”, so international mainstream media are dumn or emphatically skeptical about elections in a “war-torn country” (as if Ukraine or Afghanistan were peaceful resorts during balloting). Fortunately, there is a group of brave and unindifferent citizens present there in Syria ready to share their observations with the international audience.

Eva Bartlett from Syria Solidarity Movement relates:

On June 1, I met with a delegation of North Americans going to observe the Syrian elections on June 3. I hope to be in Damascus shortly, if possible to likewise observe Syria’s historic election. Below is a brief bio of the delegates and my conversation with these anti-war, justice activists.

Joseph Iosbaker, 55, from Chicago, works with the Anti-War Committee, is also on the national administrative committee of United National Antiwar Coalition.

Judith Bello, 63, on national Administrative Committee of United National Antiwar Coalition, is a founding member of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan in her justice work, writes on Counter Punch and Counter Currents.

Elias Hazineh, 62, Palestinian-Canadian entrepreneur and activist, has acted as an advocate for new Canadians for many years, assists immigrants and refugees in Canada as an immigration consultant, translator, and formerly, as an advisor to federal Members of Parliament on immigration and refugee issues.

Scott Williams, 25, International Action Centre and also a National Coordinator with the anti-imperialist youth organization based in the US called FIST -Fight Imperialism, Stand Together, was a union organizer of low-wage workers in the USA, has been active in student movements as well as the Occupy Wall St movement.

Dr. Paul Larudee, 68, former Fulbright-Hays lecturer in Lebanon, former faculty member at several universities in the San Francisco Bay Area, an organizer with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine and co-founder of the movement to break the Israeli siege of Gaza by sea, a co-founder of the Global March to Jerusalem and the Syria Solidarity Movement.

What is the purpose of the delegation, how did it come together?

Paul Larudee

Paul Larudee: After we came back from Syria in April—the Syria Peace Pilgrimage—we had thoughts about sending observers to the elections. Rick Sterling was very active on this idea, as was Roohulla Rezvi on the Iranian side. Without knowing about our effort, Roohulla arranged for visas for an international delegation. The Syrian government recognized the importance of bringing in observers from the West.

We want to provide a narrative that we are pretty sure the mainstream media won’t be providing. …get facts on the ground, through observation, on what is really happening through this election and how people feel about it…

What is the importance of this election?

Elias Hazineh: We have an obligation after we see what we observe, to get back to our respective societies and inform them. Be an eyewitness and tell them the alternative view that is not being broadcast by mainstream media. In my case, I’ll be going to communities, churches, schools, and speak about my experience.

How is the Canadian media portraying the situation in Syria and also the upcoming election?

Elias Hazineh

 

Elias Hazineh: The mainstream media in north america has been of one opinion: that it’s a sham, it couldn’t happen under war. And yet they don’t mind an election in Afghanistan happening under war, nor in Ukraine. Unfortunately the public is asleep. You need an alternative to tell them what is happening. Otherwise, the Syrian side of the equation is not heard in north america. In Canada we do have alternative media that have a better voice. The churches have been good, the unions have been good.. but not on a large scale. So hopefully we’ll be able to enhance that, to be helpful to the movement in Canada and also in the United States.

What do you think about the importance of the elections, and why have you joined this delegation?

Scott Williams: Self-determination for oppressed people is absolutely vital. For the people of Syria to determine, very specifically, who they support and how to move forward is crucial. With the elections in Egypt, the US has supported a government which has no popular support, they can’t even get people to vote, they can’t even pay people to vote. Syrians all over the world are dying to vote in this election. We see that as a defiant and courageous act. As much as possible we want to bring this back to the US, to support them and oppose imperialism.

Judith Bello: I think it is very important to show the face of a people who want some sort of social structure. Even people who originally opposed the government in Syria now choose to live in a country with an organized government and an organized society. In all the years that this struggle has been going on, and the United States has been supporting it, the opposition has never organized anything, even though they’ve been given a lot of money and support from outside. They’ve mostly focused on destruction.

After the start of the conflict in Syria, the government had the constitution re-written, they invited opposition parties, brought them into government positions, asked their opinions in terms of re-writing the constitution. So there is a real opening-up of the Syrian society, while a monolithic Western press has denied that there is any real openness to the society, or that the government is responsive to the people. In fact, the government has been very responsive, under the most horrific circumstances.

I think they need to be given a chance for this new level of organization to unfold. Gradually, real change can happen in Syria, and to deny that is to deny them their only real hope of having democracy at this point.

Joe Iosbaker

Joe Iosbaker: I think being an observer in these elections is a continuation of our anti-war work. The reason there is a war in Syria is that the United States decide that the Assad government wasn’t compliant enough with US and Israeli interests. And they set out, like gangsters, to take him out. They used the same tools they’ve used all over the world, the so-called “colour revolutions”.

But they were shocked when the people in Syria rallied around their government and beat back the foreign mercenary armies.

This election is happening at a time when the Syrian government enjoys unprecedented popularity.

The people of Syria are being put through hell. As an anti-war activist from the US, this is our obligation, we have to be here to make a statement against what our government is doing.

Paul Larudee: I’m sympathetic with the point of view that the election in Syria is not fully free and fair and open. But it’s probably more free and fair and open than the ones in the US and Canada.

Clearly the Syrian president has a lot more support than the US president or the Canadian Prime Minister.

In order to present this narrative, I think it’s very important to have a presence in Syria, to be able to make this statement.

Many Syrian embassies around the world have closed for the Syrian election, denying Syrians abroad the chance to vote.

Joe Iosbaker: There hasn’t been a Syrian embassy in the US for years. The only we have is the Syrian representative at the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, and they’ve restricted him to a 25 mile circle. He was the only source of information for anyone in the United States about what was going on in Syria.

Paul Larudee: He was effective, traveling around the country speaking about what was going on in Syria.

Judith Bello

Judith Bello: The United States did have an embassy and ambassador in Syria, until shortly after the beginning of this conflict. The US Ambassador, Robert Ford, was meeting with the people initiating the violence and openly supporting them. The American ambassador was being subversive. The Syrian representative in the US was speaking publicly, whereas the American ambassador was speaking privately to subversive forces there and helping to organize them. Clearly the US isn’t exercising diplomacy as it is normally defined.

Paul Larudee: The former US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, his previous overseas post was in Iraq, under John Negroponte, the Ambassador there. So then we wonder why there are something resembling death squads in Syria.

Who are the Syrian American Council?

Paul Larudee: They are a very well-financed minority of Syrians in the West, who are advocating the US and other forces to go in and remove the Assad administration. They are actually advocating bombing and causing more havoc in Syria than there is now, because their only objective is to get rid of the Assad administration.

What is the relation between the Geneva Conventions and the current elections?

Joe Iosbaker: There are a couple of reasons an actual meeting happened in Geneva. When, last summer, Obama wanted to launch a cruise missile attack on Syria, he was prevented from doing that by a few different things. The foreign armies were suffering disastrous defeats on the battle ground, long before Hezbollah got involved in the Bekaa Valley, the foreign armies were losing. The US was already desperate. When Obama attempted to rally his partners in NATO to endorse the attack, he couldn’t even get the lapdogs, couldn’t even get the UK to join.

Judith Bello: With Geneva, they were trying, via the trappings of the United Nations, to legitimize what remains a government that has nothing to do with Syria and is being presented as a technocratic replacement for the government in Syria. That is the trend internationally, to put in place technocratic governments which appear to be democratic but aren’t actually democratically supported, and are plugged into the IMF. This is setting them up to bleed off their resources in the future.

In Geneva, initially they were just trying to negotiate between the “Free Syrian Army” and the “Syrian National Council”. Even that was not successful. So then they brought in some representatives of the Assad government, but they stood by the unreasonable demand that Assad would have to step down. In a sense it was asking the government to have a coup against their central leader, which they of course weren’t going to do. So they made Geneva irrelevant to the situation in Syria.

DSCN4073sWhat are your thoughts on the Western-proposed alternative, Ahmad Jarba?

Judith Bello: He’s lived for years in Saudi Arabia and has close ties with the Sauds. He is not welcome in Syria, nor was his predecessor, Ghassan Hitto, who spent most of his adult life in Texas. He has no base in Syria, except he provides money and weapons to the insurgency. He is a false front, being put forth by the US as a potential leader, the “government in exile”.

OR Note: For more info on Ahmad Jarba kindly check Who is Washington’s protégé for Syria?

**The delegation is now in Syria and will be observing voting stations in various cities, including Homs, Latakia and Damascus.

 Other North American delegates include:

 -Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Canadian, author of The Globalization of NATO(Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy.

-Tony Seed, Canadian, specializes in international relations; Canadian foreign and military policy; media & disinformation, published Dossier on Palestine, October 2002.

-Jim W. Dean, American, Managing Editor, VeteransToday.com, also partnering with New Eastern Outlook, has covered Syria, Iran for years, and now Ukraine extensively.

-Jane Stillwater, American, 71, has been a freelance journalist, travel writer and blogger since 2000, also works part-time as a paralegal.

International delegates include:

-Roohulla Rezvi, Kashmiri activist

-Feroze Mithiborwala, India, Founder General secretary of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum, Founder, Asia to Gaza Convoy, General coordinator, Asian Peoples’ Solidarity for Palestine, Central Committee Member, Global March to Jerusalem

-Jatinbabu Desai, India, Journalist, Columnist, Secretary, Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy

-Dilip Kumar -Banerjee, India, Photo Journalist with more than 30 years of field experience.

-Anahita Shireen Mukherji, India, Assistant Editor at The Times of India, has MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. (2012-13).

-Mansor bin Puteh, Malaysia, filmmaker

-Muhammad Abbas Komeili, Pakistan, Chief of Jafaria Alliance Pakistan

-Safdar Abbas, Pakistan, Senior News Reporter in Daily Express News Paper

-Nasir Shirazi, Pakistan, Political Secretary of Majlis Wehdat Muslameen Pakistan

-Khurram Nawaz Khan, Pakistan, Central President of Pakistan Awami Tehreek

-Salim Ghafouri. Iran, Head of International Union of Unified Ummah, Documentary film-maker and producer, Peace activist

-Declan Hayes, Ireland

The Geopolitics of the Eurasian Economic Union

June 3rd, 2014 by Eric Draitser

The deal signed last week by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to create a Eurasian Economic Union is yet another countermeasure against US and European attempts to isolate Russia. By moving towards closer economic cooperation, Russia hopes to build, piecemeal if necessary, a common Eurasian economic space that will ultimately rival the US and Europe in terms of economic influence.

However, the ultimate goal of this sort of cooperation goes far beyond just economic power. Rather, Russia is the key facilitator of a series of multilateral arrangements created in the last fifteen years that Putin (and much of the world) hopes will ultimately move the world towards a multipolar global order. While this is undoubtedly on the agenda for Russia and its ally Belarus, Kazakhstan is a complicated partner as it is deeply involved with the West in terms of business, investment, education, and a number of other critical areas.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) presents a host of possibilities for economic cooperation and development. From energy reserves to the all important pipeline infrastructure, the new arrangement will, over time, have a greater and greater impact on energy exports and consumption both in Europe and Asia as China looks to further secure its energy future. Moreover, the EEU will impact vital trade routes and commercial and private transportation options, in addition to promoting political, military, and security cooperation among the members, and in the region generally. Essentially then, the EEU should be understood as yet another blow to US hegemony in Asia and the former Soviet space.

Regional Economic Impact

The establishment of the EEU will undoubtedly have a significant regional impact, and quite possibly a global one. As the economic ties between Russia and China continue to develop, as evidenced by the recent massive energy deal signed by the two countries, the impact of this agreement grows in importance.

Both Russia and Kazakhstan will be significant energy suppliers to China, the world’s leading consumer of energy. In fact, earlier this year the Chinese government announced that oil imports via the China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline reached record highs in 2013, having increased 14 percent from 2012. In addition, the recent Russian-Chinese gas deal creates the prospect of still greater pipeline connections that will cement Russia’s place within China’s strategic and economic future. Not only is there likely to be a new pipeline connecting Russia’s Far East with China’s northeast region, but initial preparations are already being made for the construction of the Altai Pipeline, which will bring Russia’s gas to China’s Xinjiang province in the western portion of the country.

Essentially then, the geography of the deal is such that Russia and China will be physically linked both from east and west, creating a symbiotic relationship within which other forms of cooperation will flourish. Of course, Kazakhstan could have a major role to play in this scenario being that it is conveniently situated across the border from Russia’s Altai region. However, considering Kazakhstan’s status as a net energy exporter, it seems unlikely that Russia would be interested in promoting the energy development of a potential rival in the Chinese market. That being said, Kazakhstan has the potential to greatly benefit from China’s rekindling of the New Silk Road project.

Chinese news agency Xinhua recently published a revealing look into Beijing’s vision for the New Silk Road project. The authors noted that the project will bring “new opportunities and a new future to China and every country along the road that is seeking to develop,” with the ultimate goal being an “economic cooperation area.” While this bold and far-reaching plan still requires massive preparatory work, the establishment of the EEU will only help the project. Beijing’s vision of the New Silk Road being a space for “more capital convergence and currency integration” fits nicely with the attempt to use the newly founded EEU to move towards regional economic integration in Central Asia. With Kazakhstan being a central part of both the New Silk Road and EEU, it seems likely that each will benefit from the development of the other.

Of particular significance is the fact that Russia and China recently signed a deal to bypass the US dollar in bilateral debt settlements and payments. The “Agreement on Cooperation” signed between Russia’s VTB and the Bank of China is the opening salvo in a burgeoning currency cooperation relationship between the two countries which will ultimately lead to increased economic and financial independence from the West. With the establishment of the EEU, the ruble is quickly becoming a critical currency in Central Asia, while the yuan continues to grow in its regional and global importance. In particular, Beijing envisions the yuan as becoming a dominant currency all along the New Silk Road.

With the convergence of these two multilateral arrangements, cooperation on currency issues becomes of central importance. Naturally, this should be understood as a significant blow to dollar dominance and, consequently, US hegemony throughout the Eurasian land mass.

An additional area of cooperation that takes on geopolitical significance is that of space exploration. Specifically, the Russian space program has long been using the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan as its space launch hub. In 2013, negotiations between the countries established a three year roadmap on the cooperative use of the facility. With the Chinese becoming increasingly ambitious in terms of their space program, and the recent decision by NASA to end cooperation with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, it would seem a natural fit for Russia and China to move towards more cooperation, while Russia and Kazakhstan continue as partners. With the EEU and Silk Road providing the framework, a new strategic alignment emerges in the area of space exploration. Naturally, the US, dependent as it is on Russia for travel to space, comes out the loser in the scenario.

Not to be forgotten in the context of the EEU is Belarus, a former Soviet Republic and longtime close ally of Russia. Although Belarus is in some ways the forgotten player in this geopolitical calculus, the country actually holds a tremendous amount of strategic importance for Russia. Perhaps most principally, Belarus represents a crucial link in Russia’s energy supply network to Europe. The Yamal-Europe pipeline, which transports roughly 20 percent of Russia’s European gas exports, was purchased by Gazprom in 2011. Seen as a means diversifying its European energy delivery infrastructure away from total reliance on Ukrainian pipelines, the move has physically linked Russia and Belarus which, from the Belarusian perspective, makes Russia its principal market and strategic ally.

Additionally, Belarus is a major exporter of heavy machinery, particularly dump trucks, tractors, and other machines critical for industrial manufacturing and construction. With Russia as its principal customer, Belarus could stand to benefit greatly from increased economic partnership within the EEU. Specifically, trade restrictions, currency issues, debt settlement, and other significant obstacles could either be eliminated or greatly reduced such that Minsk could stand to gain tremendously from the new arrangement. Given its status as a pariah within the EU economic space, Belarusian President Lukashenko likely sees the EEU as a positive step towards both economic stability and gaining leverage over Europe in terms of negotiations and sanctions.

The Kazakhstan Question

With the establishment of the EEU, Kazakhstan is poised to become an even more important player on the world stage. Aside from its already well known strategic energy reserves and mineral deposits, Kazakhstan’s geography makes it a critical link for both China and Russia in Central Asia. So, it would seem then that the country has a clear road to economic prosperity, one paved by Russia and China. However, a closer examination of the country’s geopolitical and financial alignment reveals that, rather than a full-fledged, “no strings attached” economic partner, Kazakhstan has positioned itself as both friend and possible foe.

While it would seem that Kazakhstan would be a natural ally of Russia and China, with a bright economic future in the context of Eurasian development, the reality is that the Nazarbayev regime has deeply intertwined itself with the West through various institutions and organs of finance capital. Both the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and US Chamber of Commerce are well-connected in the country, with long-standing relationships with key figures in Kazakhstan’s government. In fact, USAID facilitated the creation of the US-Kazakhstan Public-Private Economic Partnership Initiative (PPEPI). As the PPEPI’s report notes,

“The PPEPI Program was developed as a policy reform initiative in order to promote ongoing dialogue between senior-level government officials and leaders in the business community…PPEPI has fostered discussion and provided recommendations on many of the key challenges that Kazakhstan faces as it strengthens and diversifies its economy.”

A close examination of the PPEPI, along with the “pro-business” activities and membership of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan, illustrates quite clearly the fact that western finance capital is deeply rooted in the country, with influence and connections extending to the highest levels of the government. Perhaps nothing demonstrates these concrete connections better than the recent appointment of Azamat Oinarov to head the Kazakhstan Public-Private Partnership Center. As the former Deputy Defense Minister for Economics and Finance, Oinarov represents what could be regarded as the “revolving door” between Kazakhstan’s government and the institutions and organs of western finance capital. Serving as essentially a liaison between western business interests and the Nazarbayev government, Oinarov is merely one of many bureaucrats whose primary function is to maintain the presence and profitability of western corporations in the country.

The influence of western finance capital in Kazakhstan does not stop with the business community. In fact, one of the most critical aspects of the US-Western presence in the country is the widely acclaimed Nazarbayev University, established as a centerpiece in the new capital of Astana. The university was conceived, designed, partially financed, staffed, and launched under the guidance of a number of prominent US universities, including Carnegie Mellon University, Cambridge University, Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government), and many others. However, it is the leadership and guidance provided by the World Bank that truly made Nazarbayev University a reality.

As investigative reporter Steve Horn wrote for CounterPunch in late 2012:

“The World Bank in late-2007 proposed plans to upgrade and “commercialize” [Kazakhstan’s] research and development efforts. Part of the Bank’s blueprint called for the creation of a network of university-housed, market-oriented research and development centers based primarily on U.S. models. Subsequent World Bank proposals for the revamping of the country’s technical and vocational education followed suit…NU arose via a number of direct initiatives closely coordinated by the World Bank, these days re-branded as the ‘‘Knowledge Bank” set on a mission to eliminate global poverty through market-centric “education reform” efforts akin to those occurring in the U.S.”

The role of the World Bank, along with some of the most prestigious universities and powerful corporations in the western world, in establishing and administering Nazarbayev University, is an obvious indication of the tremendous influence these institutions wield inside Kazakhstan. Moreover, the implications for the future of the country are quite ominous indeed. As an entire generation receives their “westernized” education from Nazarbayev University, the logical outcome will be an entire generation of young leaders whose professional and academic connections will all be rooted in western institutions. This does not bode well for the notion of Kazakhstan as a reliable partner for the EEU and China’s Silk Road.

How Will the West Respond?

Undoubtedly, Washington and its European allies see the establishment of the EEU as a worrisome development. And so, the region and the world should prepare for some sort of a counter-measure against this growing independence. Specifically, the United States is likely to employ all the weapons of soft power at its disposal to derail, or at least stymie, the EEU and the Eurasian project generally.

One likely response will take the form of destabilization of China’s western territory of Xinjiang. Populated predominantly by the Uighur people (Muslims belonging to the Turkic ethnic group), the region has experienced intermittent violence for decades, with terrorism becoming the principal destabilizing force in recent years. In particular, the organization known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has been responsible for dozens of acts of terror in the last two decades. However, the terrorism is merely one critical part of the broader US attempt to pry Xinjiang from the Chinese or, at the very least, make it too volatile and dangerous to be developed economically as Beijing intends.

Xinjiang figures prominently in Beijing’s development plans. First and foremost, Xinjiang, with its regional capital of Urumqi, is an all-important land bridge in the New Silk Road project. Linking China with neighboring Kazakhstan and, ultimately, with Turkey, the region takes on great importance as both a transit hub and point of origin for Chinese exports to the West. Additionally, Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi is the likely candidate for the Chinese end of the Altai Pipeline discussed above. As an industrial center geographically near to all of China’s partners and neighbors to the West, Urumqi becomes a linchpin in the broader Chinese strategic calculus.

With the obvious importance of Xinjiang to China’s long-term plans, the US presence in the region takes on added significance. In particular, the US has a formidable “soft power” presence in the region through its long-standing financial support of a number of anti-Chinese NGOs and other organizations. Specifically, the US has spent millions of dollars in Xinjiang through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED), supporting ostensibly “human rights” organizations and watchdogs such as the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation, the International Uyghur PEN Club, the Uyghur American Association, and the World Uyghur Congress. Each of these organizations, dependent for their existence on US funding, is fanatically anti-Chinese and agitate for secession and “self-determination.” They have been at the epicenter of all social unrest in the region, with a representative of the World Uyghur Congress going so far as to justify the recent terror attack in Kunming which killed 33 by saying that “[China’s] policies provoked ‘extreme measures’ in response.”

With Kazakhstan and China moving closer via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and Kazakhstan now part of the EEU, it would seem quite likely that a new outbreak of violence in Xinjiang might be just what the imperial doctor ordered. Moreover, one could easily imagine a rapid proliferation of the ETIM threat in the region, as it receives tacit political support from the US-funded Uighur organizations. Such a move would effectively block any attempts to build pipelines, rail links, and other critical infrastructure for the New Silk Road and Russia-China pipelines.

On the other side of the border from Xinjiang sits Kazakhstan which, like its neighbor, is deeply penetrated by organs of US soft power. The NED funds a wide array of NGOs throughout the country, including the infamous International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, along with other organizations with innocuous-sounding names like the Kazakhstan International Bureau of Human Rights and Rule of Law. Because these organizations are deeply entrenched in the country, the US is able to wield tremendous influence within Kazakh civil society, making it a de facto weapon against the government should the need arise. This is of course part of the long-standing “soft power” strategy that the US has deftly employed all over the world, from Latin America to Eastern Europe.

Renowned author and columnist Pepe Escobar recently published a landmark piece entitled “The Birth of a Eurasian Century?” in which he examined the world-historical turning point that is the Sino-Russian partnership which extends far beyond simply gas and pipelines. Escobar wrote, “The now symbiotic China-Russia strategic alliance – with the possibility of extending towards Iran – is the fundamental fact on the ground in the young 21st century. It will extrapolate across the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Non-Aligned Movement.” This transformation, once thought of as a future trend, has now become an inescapable geopolitical reality. The establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union is merely another manifestation of the new global order. However, Russia and China, along with their allies and partners, would do well to note that the West is not going to cede its hegemonic position without a fight. What exactly that fight will look like remains to be seen.

Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at [email protected].

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Vote in Presidential Elections.

June 3rd, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Not only has the US-supported March 14 Alliance opposed voting in Syria’s June presidential elections by the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but it has shown it cares very little about democracy or voting.

While Washington has supported the coup-installed regime in Ukraine, which is bombing its own people in places like Donetsk, Lugansk, and Slavyansk, it has opposed the Syrian government’s fight against the terrorists and anti-government forces committing crimes against civilians. In the case of Ukraine, the US claims that these are legitimate measures, but not in the case of Syria. That is not where the contradictions end. While the US supported the May-25 2014 presidential elections in Ukraine, its stance is the total opposite in regards to the presidential elections in Syria on June 3, 2014.

Thousands of Syrain nationals living in Lebanon arrive outside the Syrian Embassy in Yarze east of Beirut on May 28, 2014, before voting in the upcoming presidential elections in Syria (AFP Photo)

Thousands of Syrian nationals living in Lebanon arrive outside the Syrian Embassy in Yarze east of Beirut on May 28, 2014, before voting in the upcoming presidential elections in Syria (AFP Photo)

The US is not the only player that holds a contradictory position on the Syrian presidential elections. Here, in Lebanon, the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance, which is heavily promoted by the US and its allies as the so-called “democratic opponents”of Hezbollah, has also opposed the Syrian presidential elections. The Hariri-led March 14 Alliance, however, voting has opposed the voting process from taking place inside Lebanon.

Tens of thousands of Syrians residing in Lebanon headed into Beirut to vote. In fact, so many Syrian citizens went to cast their ballots for their country’s presidential election that they created traffic jams in Beirut due to the sheer size of numbers streaming into the Lebanese capital. The estimates on the number of Syrians that went to vote run from approximately 80,000 to 100,000 people.

More importantly, the Syrian Embassy in Beirut was forced to extend voting time. Even with the extension of the voting time by the Syrian Embassy, all the Syrians that had lined up to cast their ballots for the presidential election could not be accommodated. The Syrian expatriates living inside Lebanon, most of whom are refugees that have fled the fighting in Syria, who were not able to vote were told that they would have to go and cast their votes in Syrian polling stations on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Myths dispelled

The reaction of the Hariri camp in Lebanon was initially one of utter shock and then anger towards the massive number of Syrians voting. The March 14 Lebanese politicians that have supported regime change in Syria since 2011, under the pretext of sympathizing with the Syrian people and on the basis of support for democracy, have shown how ingenious their claims really were and still are. March 14 has demanded that all the Syrian refugees in Lebanon be expelled, even though the Hariri camp’s leaders were shamelessly pretending to be looking out for the interests of these same Syrian refugees earlier by calling for military intervention and regime change in Damascus. March 14 even described the voting process as “provocations by pro-regime Syrians.” It is also worth noting that these Syrian refugees have been exploited as cheap laborers, prostitutes, and child brides in Lebanon in addition to having international aid, both financial and material, coming to them diverted.

Not only has the US-supported March 14 Alliance opposed the Syrian population that is stranded in Lebanon from exercising its right to vote, but it has shown its true fascist colors. Voting and democracy have only been things that these supposedly “democratic” figures hide behind. The hollowness of the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance’s democratic credentials should come as no surprise, because these same US-backed politicians have repeatedly saluted Saudi Arabia’s leaders as democrats.

What is the most important thing to note is that those who claim that the Syrian presidential election is going to be a giant fraud and that the Syrian population will be forced to vote in a mock election are negated by the fact that no one forced the Syrians in Lebanon to vote. None of the Syrians in Lebanon voted out of fear as can be seen clearly from the volumes of footage from the event. Not only did the Syrians inside Lebanon vote in a free environment, but the majority of them supported Bashar Assad.

When the majority of the Syrian population in Syria votes for Assad and openly sings his praise and holds banners and posters supporting him, it means he genuinely has popular support. Watch the spin doctors make all sorts of lies to reinvent what has happened. Go ahead New York Times and Washington Post, take your best shots. Instead of trying to undermine the Syrians that voted freely, you should be talking about the fraud in Egypt’s elections.

On May 28, President Barack Obama delivered his most belligerent and menacing speech to date at the US Military Academy at West Point. Aside from the lofty rhetoric we’ve come to expect in every Obama presentation, the president’s commencement address was a defiant restating of the Bush Doctrine of unilateral intervention, executive authority and endless warfare. The speech contained no new initiatives or surprises, but emphasized Obama’s unwavering support for the policies which have plunged large parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Eurasia into civil conflict, economic collapse and war. Obama defended US aggression on the grounds of “American exceptionalism”, the dubious idea that Americans are special and cannot be held to the same standards as others. The theory implies that Washington’s relentless war-mongering and killing of civilians cannot be prosecuted under international law because the US is a law unto itself.

“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” said Obama. “But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

Obama’s statement is deliberately misleading. As the president knows, the Bush administration notified U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the US would withdraw from the International Criminal Court Treaty in May 2002 just prior to the invasion of Iraq claiming that the ICC treaty put U.S. service members and officials at risk of prosecution by a court that is “unaccountable to the American people.” In retrospect, we can see that Bush and his lieutenants wanted to remove themselves from any accountability for the atrocities and crimes against humanity they planned to perpetrate in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Thus, exceptionalism does not affirm Washington’s willingness to comply with “international norms and the rule of law” as Obama says, but to absolve US leaders from any responsibility for their habitual war-making. As policy analyst Noam Chomsky has said many times, “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”

Here’s Obama again: “Let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it… International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland or our way of life.”

In other words, the United States will do whatever the hell it wants to and if you don’t like it: “Too bad”. This is the Bush Doctrine verbatim. The West Point oration proves that the new administration has simply modified the Bush credo to suit Obama’s pretentious speaking style. Strip out the visionary formulations, the grandiose bloviating, and the sweeping hand gestures and the ideas are virtually identical; unilateralism, preemption, and exceptionalism, the toxic combo that has spurred 13 years of war, occupation, regime change, black sites, extra-judicial assassinations, drone attacks, and hyperbolic state terror most of which has been directed at civilian populations whose only fault is that they occupy regions where vast petroleum reserves have been discovered or which have some fleeting strategic importance to Washington’s war planners. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the World Socialist Web Site titled “Obama’s West Point speech: A prescription for unending war” by Bill Van Auken:

“Obama is not elaborating here a policy of defensive war to be waged only in response to an attack or the threat of an imminent attack. He is spelling out that the US reserves the right to intervene militarily wherever it believes its “core interests”—i.e., the access of its corporations and banks to markets, raw materials, cheap labor and profits—are involved.

When he speaks of “our livelihoods” and “our way of life,” he is referring not to the ever-declining living standards of the American worker, but to the eight-figure compensation packages of American CEOs, whose fortunes are founded on the exploitation of the working populations and resources of the entire planet…

Everything put forward by Obama is a repudiation of international law and an endorsement of the policy of aggressive war practiced by the Nazis three-quarters of a century ago.” (Obama’s West Point speech: A prescription for unending war, Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site)

Here’s Obama again defending his malignant foreign policy in terms of “leadership”:

“America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership.”

Obama finds it easy to praise the people who fight his wars, even while he stealthily carries out a plan to privatize the Veterans Administration. Check out this blurb from an article titled “VA secretary resigns amid push to privatize US veterans’ health care”:

“Obama and members of Congress have responded to the VHA scandal with a breathtaking level of cynicism and hypocrisy, even by Washington standards … according to many lawmakers, the answer to this crisis is not the appropriation of funds to hire new doctors and other medical professionals, but the dismantling of the government program in order to provide a profit windfall to private insurers and health industry firms. The result of this policy will be less care at greater cost to veterans…

Under the “Veterans Choice Plan” being promoted by Rep. Andy Harris (Republican of Maryland), veterans could either choose to continue receiving care through the VHA or go to a private provider of their choosing. In what amounts to a voucher system, the federal government would cover the cost of insurance premiums and some out-of-pocket costs, depending on a veteran’s priority ranking…

The moves to privatize veterans’ health care underscore the hypocrisy of the bipartisan glorification of soldiers and veterans. It also sets a precedent for privatizing Medicare and Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.” (VA secretary resigns amid push to privatize US veterans’ health care, World Socialist Web Site)

Is there any doubt that Obama forced General Eric Shinseki to step down so he could start to dismantle the VA? And if Obama cares so much about veterans, then why hasn’t he spoken out before about other veteran-related issues like the epidemic of suicides, rapes, traumatic brain injury or PTSD? Obama’s phony outrage is just a headline-grabbing gimmick to conceal what’s really going on, which is the VA is being handed over to America’s insatiable health care tycoons on a silver platter.

Obama again: “For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America, at home and abroad, remains terrorism, but a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy, drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.”

Obama’s comment absurdly implies that the US has learned from its past mistakes and has fine-tuned the art of counterterrorism so it doesn’t involve the squandering of valuable resources. What a joke. It’s like listening to a Mafia hit-man boast that he ‘s learned how to save money on ammo by strangling his victims with his bare hands. This is also a good example of how the Dems think they’re more effective (and discreet) in executing the elitist/corporate agenda than their rivals in the GOP. As if that was the purpose of the party!

Obama also made a few perfunctory remarks about closing Guantanamo, ending indefinite detention and taking steps to address climate change. But clearly these had nothing to do with the main thrust of the speech which was to announce his intention to expand the wars abroad. Citing hotspots in Syria, Ukraine and the South China Sea, Obama promised to “lead” with the military, asserting, by implication, dominion over these regions where the US claims to have “national interests”. Obama is as committed as his predecessor, Bush, to rule by force of arms even though his current adversaries (Russia and China) are not ragtag militias in sandals, but nuclear-armed nation-states who could level the better part of the planet with a flip of the switch. Even so, Obama is determined to pursue the same provocative strategy whatever the risks increasing the probability of a miscalculation that ends in a mushroom cloud.

It’s madness.

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

Bélgica y Estados Unidos acaban de cerrar un acuerdo para aplicar en Bélgica una ley estadounidense que lucha contra el fraude fiscal, la Foreing Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA). La firma del acuerdo tuvo lugar el pasado 23 de abril. Varios países, como Reino Unido, Francia, Alemania y Japón, ya han firmado un acuerdo con Estados Unidos para aplicar esta ley en su territorio. A partir del 1 de enero de 2015 los establecimientos financieros [belgas] tendrán que declarar a las autoridades estadounidenses los movimientos de aquellas cuentas cuyo propietario sea un ciudadano estadounidense. En cuando el importe de la cuenta supere los 50.000 o haya tenido lugar determinada cantidad de movimientos con el territorio estadounidense el banco tendrá que establecer un informe preciso de las entradas y salidas de fondos. Si un banco no se somete a este procedimiento, se sobretasarán todas sus actividades en Estados Unidos un 30%. La sanción puede llegar hasta la retirada de la licencia bancaria en Estados Unidos.

Estos acuerdos firmados por países miembros de la Unión Europea (UE) con el gobierno estadounidense violan tanto las leyes nacionales de protección de datos personales como la Directiva 95/46/CE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo del 24de octubre de 1995 «relativa a la protección de las personas físicas respecto al tratamiento de los datos de carácter personal y a la libre circulación de estos datos», directiva integrada en el derecho de todos los Estados miembros. La aplicación de la FACTA en el territorio del viejo continente viola tanto el derecho nacional de los países europeos como el de la UE. Estas legislaciones no se suprimen, sino que se suspenden. Convienen no tenerlas en cuenta en las relaciones con Estados Unidos.

Acuerdos precedentes que legalizaban la captura por parte de las autoridades estadounidenses de datos de ciudadanos europeos procedían de la misma manera. Desde los atentados del 11 de septiembre de 2001 la sociedad estadounidense de derecho belga Swift ha conferido clandestinamente al Departamento del Tesoro estadounidense decenas de millones de datos confidenciales concernientes a operaciones financieras de sus clientes. Esta captura nunca se ha puesto en tela de juicio a pesar de violar de forma flagrante los derechos europeo y belga. Al contrario, la UE y Estados Unidos han firmado varios acuerdos destinados a legitimarla [1].

La sociedad Swift estaba sometida al derecho belga y al de la comunidad europea debido a que su sede estaba localizada en La Hulpe (Bélgica). Esta sociedad también estaba sometida al derecho estadounidense ya que su segundo servidor estaba localizado en territorio estadounidense, lo que permitía al gobierno estadounidense tomar directamente los datos. Así, esta sociedad eligió violar el derecho europeo para someterse a las exigencias del ejecutivo estadounidense. Ahora bien, desde 2009 ya no se transfieren a Estados Unidos los datos Swift inter-europeos, sino a un segundo servidor europeo. Pero aunque los estadounidenses ya no tengan acceso directo a los datos, estos se transmiten, a petición suya, en «paquetes» y solo ellos controlan técnicamente el proceso de tratamiento de las informaciones. Además, nada más firmarse los acuerdos los estadounidenses habían planteado nuevas exigencias. Ya en 2009 el gobierno estadounidense había declarado «que se tenían que captar las transacciones entre los bancos europeos y estadounidenses sin que haya una necesidad probada».

Del mismo modo la UE nunca se ha opuesto a la entrega de los datos de las listas de pasajeros por parte de las compañías aéreas situadas en su territorio. Las informaciones comunicadas comprendían los apellidos del pasajero, su nombre, dirección, número de teléfono, fecha de nacimiento, nacionalidad, número de pasaporte y sexo, así como la dirección durante la estancia en Estados Unidos, el itinerario de los desplazamientos, los contactos en tierra y sus datos médicos. También estaban incluidas informaciones bancarias (como el modo de pago, el número de la tarjeta de crédito) y los hábitos alimentarios que permitieran revelar prácticas religiosas. La iniciativa unilateral estadounidense de apoderarse de estos datos fue aceptada inmediatamente por la parte europea, que tuvo que suspender sus legislaciones para responder a las exigencias estadounidenses [2].

La técnica es idéntica en estos dos casos, el de los pasajeros de líneas aéreas y el caso Swift. De hecho, no se trata de acuerdos jurídicos entre dos partes, entre dos potencias formalmente soberanas. Solo existe una parte, el gobierno estadounidense que en los hechos se dirige directamente a los ciudadanos europeos. En ambos textos el poder ejecutivo estadounidense reafirma su derecho a disponer de sus datos personales y así ejerce directamente su soberanía sobre los ciudadanos de la UE.

La primacía del derecho estadounidense en el territorio europeo también es uno de los retos de las negociaciones para establecer un gran mercado transatlántico, el Acuerdo Transatlántico sobre Comercio y la Inversión (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP).

En nombre de la libre competencia las empresas estadounidenses podrán, gracias al TTIP, denunciar a un Estado que les niegue permisos de explotación de gas de esquisto* o que imponga unas normas alimentarias o unos estándares sociales. Este sistema de resolución de discrepancias podría permitir a los estadounidenses abolir partes enteras de la regulación europea creando precedentes jurídicos ante esta justicia estadounidense privada. En efecto, el principio de introducir este mecanismo ha sido aceptado por los europeos en la facultad de negociación otorgada a la Comisión en junio de 2013 por los ministros de comercio europeos. La instancia privilegiada para estos arbitrajes es el Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias relativas a Inversiones (CIADI), un órgano dependiente del Banco Mundial y con sede en Washington, cuyos jueces, abogados o profesores de derecho se nombran caso por caso: un árbitro designado por la empresa demandante, uno por el Estado de Washington y el tercero por el secretario general del CIADI [3].

Se esse procedimento parcialmente já aceito, entra en juego en el marco de un futuro gran mercado transatlántico, el derecho europeo se desvanecerá una vez más, en este caso ante una jurisdicción privada situada en territorio estadounidense, en la que la parte estadounidense desempeñará un papel determinante.

Jean-Claude Paye 

Texto original en francés: L’Empire en construction : Le droit étasunien s’impose sur le territoire européen.

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Jean-Claude Paye es sociólogo, autor de El final del Estado de derecho, Hondarribia, Hiru, 2010, y de L’Emprise de l’image. De Guantanamo à Tarnac. Editions Yves Michel, noviembre 2011.  

Notas:

[1] Jean-Claude Paye, “Las transacciones financieras internacionales bajo control estadounidense”, 30 de mayo de 2009, http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=86205

[2] Jean-Claude Paye, «L’espace aérien sous contrôle impérial», Mondialisation.ca, 15 de octubre de 2007, http://www.mondialisation.ca/l-espace-a-rien-sous-contr-le-imp-rial/7080 [Véase en castellano sobre el mismo tema, “Pasajeros europeos bajo el control de EEUU”, http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=57828].

* El gas de esquisto es el que se extrae por medio de fractura hidráulica. N. de la T.

[3] Convención para la resolución de diferencias relativas a la inversión entre Estados y ciudadanos de otros Estados, International Centre for Settlement of Investissement Disputes ( ICSID),capítulo del arbitraje, Artículo 37, https://icsid.worldbank.org/ICSID/StaticFiles/basicdoc-fra/partA-chap04.htm#s02

Fuentehttp://www.mondialisation.ca/lempire-en-construction-le-droit-etasunien-simpose-sur-le-territoire-europeen/5384195

Washington Boasts of Military Buildup against China

June 3rd, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

If anyone was fooled by the media analyses portraying President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point last week as a turn toward “moderation” and “restraint,” or tempted to think that the World Socialist Web Site was exaggerating in describing the address as a blueprint for “permanent and global war in pursuit of the interests of the US financial elite,” they only need read the bellicose tirade delivered by his defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, in Singapore on Saturday.

The occasion for Hagel’s provocative speech was the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual meeting of Asia-Pacific defense ministers, together with their civilian and military chiefs of staff. The conference is ostensibly a forum for “dialogue” and “confidence building” aimed at furthering regional security and cooperation.

Instead, the Pentagon chief delivered an address that spelled out in detail the measures Washington is taking to build up its military power in the Asian Pacific for the purpose of encircling China while containing and rolling back its influence in the region.

In essence, Hagel’s speech is a corollary to the May 28 commencement address given by Obama at West Point. Critics of the presentation at the US Military Academy have pointed out that, while the administration had announced its “pivot to Asia” as a strategic axis of US foreign policy, Obama made no mention of this turn in what had been billed as a major foreign policy speech.

In point of fact, Obama did touch on the essence of the so-called “pivot” in his address, making a series of menacing statements in relation to China and suggesting that Washington would have to prepare for a military response to its rising global rival.

He placed China in the same category as Russia, presenting the two countries as threats to regional peace and security. “China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors,” Obama declared.

He went on to describe the territorial disputes in the South and East China seas, which Washington has deliberately inflamed and turned into global flash points, accusing China of “regional aggression” that could “ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military.” And he vowed to back Southeast Asian governments in maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Yet there was no mention of the “pivot,” no declaration of a new over-arching strategic turn by the US and its massive military machine to confront China in the Asian-Pacific theater. Instead, the president told the American people that the principal threat faced by the United States was “terrorism,” the same boogeyman that has been used to justify US aggression abroad since the beginning of the century. No doubt this lack of an explicit statement of US strategy in a major presidential speech was deliberate.

Hagel was asked directly by one of the participants at the conference in Singapore why Obama does not explain the “pivot” to the American people with the same forcefulness with which the defense secretary and other US officials promote it in Asia. The answer is obvious. The popular reaction to a public campaign in support of a policy of military provocation and aggression against a nuclear-armed China would be one of horror and virulent opposition. So, the thinking in ruling circles undoubtedly goes, better to lead the population unwittingly to the brink of a global conflagration than risk a political firestorm.

In the somewhat more discreet atmosphere of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Hagel felt under no such compunction. He positively boasted of the US military buildup in the region.

Hagel declared that the “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia “is not a goal, not a promise, or a vision—it’s a reality.”

He pointed to the ten-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) reached between Washington and the corrupt Aquino regime in the Philippines offering Washington virtually unrestricted rights to deploy US military forces in that country.

Similarly, he touted the close alliance established between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads up the most right-wing Japanese government in postwar history.

“Consider that just three years ago, the strength of our alliance with Japan was being overshadowed by disagreement over the future of the US presence in Okinawa,” said Hagel.

“Today [after a change in government that was pushed by Washington], we have a fully agreed force realignment map …We have also deployed our most advanced capabilities to Japan—including two Global Hawks at Misawa, F-22 fighter aircraft at Kadena, and MV-22 Ospreys on Okinawa.”

He also declared his full support for Abe’s proposal to engage in a more “proactive” use of Japan’s military, as the Japanese prime minister seeks to scrap the postwar constitution that was supposed to prevent a revival of Japanese militarism. US backing has served to underwrite Japan’s increasingly provocative confrontations with China.

On the tense Korean Peninsula, Hagel added, the Pentagon has “enhanced the US Army’s force posture and deployed even more advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.” He also pointed to the deployment of more than 1,000 US Marines in Western Australia.

Hagel made a point of stressing Washington’s increased military cooperation with India, saying the US welcomed “India’s growing defense capabilities and its commitment to freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean.”

“In the coming years, the United States will increase its advanced capabilities that are forward-stationed and forward-deployed in the entire region, particularly as we draw down our forces in Afghanistan,” Hagel declared. “And we will ensure that we sustain our freedom of action in the face of disruptive new military technologies.” No one needed to ask what country might be deploying these “disruptive” weapons systems.

The defense secretary went on to detail a new arsenal of warships that will deployed in the region over the next four years, including the new Joint High Speed Vessel, another nuclear-armed submarine stationed in Guam, four Littoral Combat Ships and the Zumwalt-class destroyer. The new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, he added, will be sold to Japan, South Korea and Australia. By 2020, Hagel said, the US will have 60 percent of both its Navy and Air Force fleets operating in the region. He added that the Obama administration has pledged that no cuts in military spending will come out of the Asia-Pacific buildup.

The speech left no doubt as to which country this arsenal is directed against. China, Hagel charged, “has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea.” He accused it of using “intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert those claims.” And, he vowed, Washington “will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.”

Hagel delivered an ultimatum to Beijing, declaring that China had “a choice: to unite and recommit to a stable regional order, or to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that have benefited millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific, and billions around the world.”

The meaning is clear enough. Either China submits to the post-World War II arrangements establishing US hegemony over the Asia-Pacific region, or it will face the direct threat of war with the United States.

The chief of the Chinese military, Wang Guanzhong, responded angrily to the speech delivered by Hagel as well as to a previous address by Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, declaring them “unacceptable” and saying the two were singing “in chorus.” Hagel’s speech, he said, was designed to “stoke instability… to pick fights and incite disputes and conflicts.”

US imperialism is seeking to encircle China militarily. Its aim is to utilize its residual military superiority to suppress economic and political challenges posed in Asia and on a world scale by the growth of China’s economy. In the final analysis, its aim is to offload as much of the burden of the capitalist crisis that erupted in 2008-2009 onto its rivals, as it steps up the assault on the working class at home.

In Singapore, Hagel repeated Obama’s statement in his West Point speech that “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.”

In the conference discussion Sunday, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Anatoly Antonov raised a question: “For me it is not clear why the US must lead,” Antonov said. “To lead what? To where?”

No one should have any doubts. US imperialism is leading humanity to a new eruption of militarism that poses the ever graver threat of a nuclear Third World War.

Update (June 3, 14 hours UT)

With security heightened throughout the country, elections in Syria are proceeding normally. 

The country has largely been pacified following the retreat of terrorist opposition forces from Homs in early May. 

The  elections have not been disrupted and no major terrorist event has been reported.

Reports confirm a high turn out.

The aftermath of this election including the response of US-NATO is of crucial significance. 

Washington has already announced that it will not recognize the results of the June 3, elections. According to the New York Times, the elections are taking place “Amid Fear and Pressure” and are therefore categorized as “illegitimate”.

In a twisted logic the elections are portrayed by the Western media as an obstacle to achieving real democracy. The Western consensus is that the elections will contribute to a “continuation of the civil war” despite the defeat of the insurgency.

A “Continuation of the Civil  War” is a US Foreign Policy option. It is a means to implement Regime Change.

Scenarios of civil war are on the US-NATO drawing board. Confirmed by US statements, the underlying military-intelligence agenda is to foster a continuation of the civil war, namely to rebuild the terrorist insurgency.   

Michel Chossudovsky’s RT interview, June 4

There are indications that Washington and its allies are planning a new wave of destabilization involving the influx of weapons and death squads to be carried out in the wake of the June 3 Elections. This “civil war destabilization scenario” is to be supported by a new package of US military aid announced by President Obama on May 28th, less than a week before the June 3 elections. 

In mid May, two weeks before the elections, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that the US and its allies “would increase all aspects of support for the mainstream Syrian opposition fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad”.

Confirmed by John Kerry, these efforts consist in accelerating the flow of weapons to opposition fighters ahead of the elections:

“Every possible avenue will be pursued by one country or another,… I’m not going to discuss specific weapons and what country may or may not be providing [weapons], but out of today’s meeting [May 15, less than 3 weeks before the June 3 elections] every facet of what can be done will be ramped up, and that includes a political effort, aid to the opposition… economic efforts and sanctions.” (quoted in Guardian, May 15, 2014)

Kerry’s May 15 statement to speed up the flow of weapons to opposition rebels was followed two weeks later by a formal announcement by President Obama.

A week before the Syrian elections at his May 28 West Point Military College address, president Obama formally confirmed a new military aid package to be channeled to Syria’s “freedom fighters”.

Was this new flow of US military aid initiated prior to the elections?

According to a statement (May 22, 2014), by Mr Ahmad Al-Jarba,Chairman of the “opposition” Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the weapons will arrive “within weeks”. A subsequent report coinciding with President Obama’s official confirmation on May 28, stated within a period of “three weeks”, which includes the week leading up to the June 3, elections:

“[Mr Al Jarba] …did not not specify the quality of the weapons or reveal whether they will include the highly effective “Man Pad” anti-aircraft missiles, which could effectively change the balance of power on the ground” (5pillarz.com, May 31,  2014)

President Obama “spoke of two-pronged support aimed at assisting the armed opposition” against both Bashar Al as well as against the jihadist terrorist organizations which are fighting government forces.

This contradictory statement by president Obama was largely intended to reaffirm America’s commitment to “fighting terrorism”, rather than “supporting terrorism” in Syria, something which by now has been amply documented. The evidence confirms that the opposition terrorist insurgents are supported by US-NATO and Israel, trained in Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. They are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance.

According to reports, President Obama  … “wants to combat the burgeoning power of the Islamist armies – which the US identify as “terrorists”” while financing and training the so-called “moderate opposition”.

This is an obvious smokescreen: There is no such thing as a moderate armed opposition in Syria.

While the Western media, echoing Obama’s concern regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front, fail to acknowledge that the bulk of US military aid is channeled covertly to these two terrorist organizations, which are supported by US intelligence.

The timely resolution of France at the United Nations Security Council directed against Syria was intended to create confusion in the weeks leading up the elections:

Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, accused the UN of facilitating a plot against the regime. France, he said, was inciting public opinion against Syria within the UN and had launched a “futile” bid to have the Syrian file investigated at the International Criminal Court (ICC).(5pillarz.com, May 31, 2014)

According to Ja’afari, France’ resolution was aimed at

“piling up political pressure on the Syrian government and throwing into confusion the presidential elections so as to end up in a state of constitutional, political and security vacuum.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The latest reports out of  Damascus suggest that the security situation is under control. No incidents were reported on the day of the elections. The elections are proceeding normally.