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March 31st, 2014 by Global Research News

A aliança atlântica : a verdadeira agenda de Obama

March 31st, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

O objetivo principal da visita de Obama na Europa – declara Susan Rice a qual é conselheira para a segurança nacional – é o de “pressionar para uma unidade ocidental” frente a “invasão russa na Criméia”.

O primeiro passo será reforçar ainda mais a OTAN. Essa aliança militar que, abaixo do comando dos Estados Unidos, englobou, de 1999  a 2009, todos os países do ex-pacto de Varsóvia, três da ex- União Soviética, e duas ex repúblicas da Iugoslávia, (destruida com a guerra da OTAN;  essa aliança que colocou suas bases e forças militares, inclusive aquelas de capacidade nuclear, sempre mais ao redor, e para perto da Rússia, armando-as com um “escudo anti-míssel”, que é um instrumento não de defesa mas de ataque; essa aliança que penetrou na Ucrânia, organizando o golpe de Kiev, incitando dessa maneira a Criméia a separar-se da mesma e unir-se a Rússia. “O cenário geopolítico está mudando”, anunciou o secretário geral da OTAN: “Os aliados devem reforçor seus elos econômicos e militares frente a agressão militar russa contra a Ucrânia”. Projeta-se, entretanto, não só um reforçamento militar da OTAN para que aumente a “prontidão operativa e a eficácia no combate”, mas ao mesmo tempo uma “OTAN Econômica”, através do “acordo do comércio livre USA-UE”, funcional ao sistema geopolítico ocidental, dominado pelos Estados Unidos.

Uma OTAN que, ressalta Washington, “continuará sendo uma aliança nuclear”. Significativo aqui é que a visita de Obama a Europa tenha começado com o terceiro cimo sobre a segurança nuclear. Uma criação do próprio Obama (não pelo Prêmio Nobel da Paz), mas para “pôr em segurança o material nuclear, e prevenir assim um terrorismo nuclear”. Este objetivo nobre é então perseguido pelos Estados que tem 8.000 ogivas nucleares, dos quais 2.150 prontas para lançamento, as quais se acrescentam ainda as 500 francesas e britânicas, o que leva ao total da OTAN, outras 2.500 prontas para um lançamento, isso sendo então frente as das cerca de1.800 russas. Esse potencial foi agora aumentado pelo fornecimento do Japão aos Estados Unidos de outros 300  kg. de plutônio assim como de uma grande quantidade de urânio enriquecido, adaptado para a fabricação de armas nucleares, ao quais se ajuntam então os 20 kg  por parte da Itália. Israel também participa no cimo da “segurança nuclear” —  Israel, a única potência nuclear no Oriente Médio (não aderente ao Tratado e não-proliferação) — que possui até 300 ogivas nucleares e produzindo tanto urânio que daria para fabricar a cada ano, 10  a 15 bombas daquela do tipo de Nagasaki. O Presidente Obama contribuiu em particular para a  “segurança nuclear” da Europa, ordenando que cerca de 200 bombas B-61 instaladas na Alemanha, Itália, Bélgica, Holanda e Turquia (violando o Tratado de não-proliferação) fossem substituídas por novas bombas nucleares B61-12, com guia de precisão, projetadas particularmente para o caça F-35, incluindo-se aqui então também aquela anti-bunker [casamata- abrigo em betão] para destruir os centros de comando num primeiro ataque nuclear.

A estratégia de Washington tem um objetivo duplo. De um lado redimensionar a Rússia, que relançou a sua política exterior – (v. papél desenvolvido na Síria) -  reaproximando-se da China, criando uma potencial aliança capaz de contrapor-se a superpotência estadunidense. Pelo outro lado o seu objetivo seria o alimentar na Europa um estado de tensão que permitiria aos Estados Unidos de manter, através da OTAN, a sua liderança sobre os aliados, os quais são considerados basicamente em diferentes escalas de valores: com o governo alemão Washington inclina-se a dividir a área de influência, com o italiano (“nosso amigo mais precioso no mundo) ele se limita a dar umas palmadinhas nas costas, sabendo que sempre poderá conseguir o que deseja…

Ao mesmo tempo Obama pressiona seus aliados para que reduzam a importação de gás e petróleo russo. Não é um fácil objetivo. A União Européia depende por cerca de 1/3 do fornecimento energético russo: A Alemanha e a Itália por 30%. A Suécia e a Romênia por 45%, a Finlândia e a República Checa [ex-parte da Checoslováquia] por 75%, a Polônia e a Lituânia por 90%. A administração Obama, escreve o New York Times, segue uma “estratégia agressiva” que tem em mira a redução do fornecimento energético russo à Europa: a administração de Obama prevê então que a Exxon Mobil, e outras companhias estadunidenses, poderiam fornecer uma crescente quantidade de gás a Europa, aproveitando-se aqui das capacidades do Oriente Médio, da África assim como de outras partes, inclusive então dos Estados Unidos, do qual a produção está sendo aumentada o que permitiria aos Estados Unidos exportar gás liquefeito.

Nesse cenário aparece de novo a “guerra dos gasodutos”: o objetivo estadunidense sendo o de bloquear o Nord Stream – a Corrente do Norte, que leva à UE o gás russo, através do Mar Báltico, assim como o de impedir a realização do South Stream- a Corrente do Sul, que portaria esse gás à UE através do Mar Negro. Ambos evitariam a Ucrânia, através da qual passa hoje o grosso do gás russo, realização essa a qual é dirigida pela Gazprom, da qual fazem parte companhias europeias. Paolo Scaroni, número um da ENI, advertiu o governo que se o projeto da Corrente Sul fosse bloqueado, a Itália iria perder um importante e rico contrato, como uma emtrepenagem de 2 bilhões de euros, que a Saipem tem atribuída a si para construir o trecho submarino do mesmo. É necessário aqui entretanto ter em conta também as pressões dos Estados Unidos.

De qualquer maneira o presidente Obama se dedica também a obras de beneficência. Com o Papa Francisco ele falará amanhã “no objetivo comum de combater a pobreza e a crescente desigualdade”. Ele, que durante sua administração fez a frequência da pobreza nos Estados Unidos subir de 12% a 15% (outros 46 milhões de pobres) e a  pobreza infantil subir de 18% ao 22%, enquanto os superricos (o 0.01 % da população) quadrupiclaram o seu rendimento. Obama também “agradecerá ao papa pelo seus apelos a paz”. Ele, presidente de um país que expende, em armamentos e guerra, o equivalente a cerca da metade do expendido mundialmente.

Manlio Dinucci

Tommaso Di Francesco

Editição de quarta-feira 26 de março de 2014 de il manifesto

Artigo original : Il pacco atlantico, il manifesto, de 26 de março de 2014.

Tradução Anna Malm, artigospoliticos.wordpress.compara mondialisation.ca

Since 2011, Syria has been the target of an attempted foreign-backed regime change. Riding on the momentum of the US-engineered “Arab Spring,” protesters took to the streets across Syria, serving as cover for armed militants the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia – on record – had been preparing since at least as early as 2007.

It was in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” that prophetically stated (emphasis added): 

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

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Syria’s destabilization was ongoing alongside other Arab nations, including Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. In Tunisia and Egypt, the fallout was political, with limited street violence. In Libya, the fallout was absolute – the nation utterly decimated by so-called “freedom fighters” later revealed as Al Qaeda militants of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). 

The West’s blitzkrieg across North Africa and the Middle East took many nations by surprise. Their inability to respond effectively to orchestrated “color revolution” have resulted in 3 years of regional destabilization, regime change, and even war.

In Syria however, the government and the people held on, and then, began fighting back.

It was clear by January 2013 that Syria’s security forces had turned the tide against the foreign-backed militants who had for 2 years been flowing across their border and sowing deadly chaos across the Middle Eastern nation. Irreversible gains were being made everywhere from the north near Syria’s largest city Aleppo, all along the Lebanese border, and particularly in the southern city of Daraa, the so-called “birthplace” of  the “uprising.” 

The Western media continued portraying the situation in Syria as fluid, with the Syrian government teetering and their militant proxies on the verge of making a breakthrough. In reality, desperation had set in across Washington, London, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv. Attempts to provoke a wider war with direct Israeli attacks on Syrian territory were carried out but with no effect, and by August of 2013, the West had grown so desperate to directly intervene to salvage their floundering proxy forces, they even staged a false-flag chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus. Much to the West’s dismay, the false-flag attack not only failed to provide them with the pretext needed for direct intervention, it severely and perhaps irreparably hobbled their credibility and international standing.

Syria’s Triumph Hidden No More

Recent gains by Syria against the West’s proxy militant invaders could be seen most clearly in Yabroud this month, 80 kilometers northwest of Damascus and a strategic city for militant campaigns carried out against both Syrians and Lebanese across the nearby border. The city of Yabroud was considered firmly in the hands of militants throughout the duration of conflict. With the restoration of order in Yabroud, and with militant factions folding en masse, it appears that large-scale military operations against Syria have largely drawn to a close and are shifting instead toward a low-intensity terrorist campaign.

The West is unable to portray their militant proxies as a viable opposition force, politically, socially, and now strategically. Syrian forces have pushed the militants to the very borders of Syria.

Just today, Turkey resorted to firing on, and claims to have shot down a Syrian warplane as Syrian forces battled militants along the border. In the southern city of Daraa near the Syrian-Jordanian border, the so-called “Southern Front” comprised of allegedly 49 militant factions and claiming to have up to 30,000 fighters in its rank, had doubt cast on it even from Western sources calling the force, “an alliance on paper.”

242341The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace provided a disturbing report of continued military support for terrorists flooding into Syria from Jordan, armed and funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia – even as both feigned chastisement recently of Qatar for doing the very same. In its report titled, “Does the “Southern Front” Exist?” it claimed: 

According to several sources, there has still been an uptick in support to rebels in the south since late February, with large amounts of money spent on rebel salaries and Saudi trucks moving cargo toward the Jordan-Syria border. But without a major increase in support and, probably, the addition of qualitative weapons like antiair missiles, it is hard to imagine that the rebels can advance very far—or that they will be able to unite around a single leadership.

It appears to be the last desperate push by a depleted force against a well entrenched and capable Syrian military. While the West is no doubt still trying to fuel unrest in Syria, it appears that gains by the Syrian military have reached a tipping point that no amount of indirect support can turn back. Short of direct large-scale military intervention by Western forces, the proxy war has been effectively lost.

What Syria’s Victory Means for Western Hegemony

The modern pursuit of Western hegemony stems back to the end of the Cold War when Wall Street and London believed it was possible to reorder the planet under their control in the absence of any significant opposing superpower. Color revolutions across Eastern Europe, the plundering of Russia in the 1990′s, the first Iraq War, and the breakup of the Balkans seemed to suggest this reordering was well underway. However, Russia, China, India, and other developing nations sprung back too quickly and the West’s ambitions were slowly put in check.

Today, with the West ousted from Iraq, mired in Afghanistan, its machinations revealed in Libya as marauding aggressors, and confounded in both Syria and Ukraine, not only does it seem Western ambitions are in check, but may in fact be in danger of being reversed altogether.

The failure of the West in Syria sends a message to other targets of Western meddling. There is no need to compromise nor negotiate, nor any need to pander to the conventions the West has put in place to tie the hands of their intended targets. In fact, by doing so, a nation only makes itself more vulnerable as they attempt to adhere to rules the West insists others follow but willfully violates itself.

While the West compounds its growing impotence globally by insisting on the continued pursuit of its failed unipolar model built on achieving global hegemony, nations like Russia and China insist on mutual partnerships with other nations in a multipolar world – neither dictating nor violating the sovereignty of any nation beyond its borders.

The West’s failure in Syria is an indicator that its power and influence is on the decline and provides a modern illustration of the dangers historically faced by empire as it overreaches. Even if the West was able to overturn its failures in Syria, its reputation and legitimacy has been hobbled to such a degree that any geopolitical push beyond Syria would be all but impossible.

The West’s columnists and policy scribes lament over the “retreat” of Western primacy – but it is only in “retreat” because it chooses to be a belligerent in the first place. A nation playing a positive, constructive role internationally can still be influential if it respects those it is interacting with and effects change by setting an appealing example. For the West and its centuries of subjugating others, this concept is not only alien, but apparently less preferable than the collapsing order they are currently presiding over.

Syria’s emerging victory means that while the West may despoil other nations in the near and intermediate future, the vector sum of its power and influence will be perpetual decline.

For Syria and other nations facing the same potential destabilization within their own borders, a costly lesson has been learned about attempting to appease and accommodate Western ambitions. Establishing the moral high-ground early on, and having the means through domestic media targeting international audiences like Iran’s Press TV or Russia’s RT to tell their side of the story to the world, allows a targeted nation the ability to stand its ground, and if necessary, fight back. Attempting to use the very system the West put in place to achieve global primacy – including the UN, its human rights racket, and the international media – is to play the West’s game, by their rules, and entirely on their terms at a clear and immense disadvantage.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”

For the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Atomic bomb was nothing short of cataclysmic.

This article was originally published by Who What Why

But Americans were shown a sanitized version of the devastation, and for many years, photographic evidence of the real damage was locked away. This is the final part of our three part series on the Atomic Cover-up. You can read the first two parts in the series here and here.

Japan Chases Its History

1In the mid-1970s, Japanese activists discovered that few pictures of the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki existed in their country. Many of the images had been seized by the U.S. military and taken out of Japan. The Japanese had as little visual exposure to the true human effects of the bomb as had most Americans. Activists, led by Tsutomu Iwakura, tracked down hundreds of photographs in archives and private collections, published them in a popular book and, in 1979, mounted an exhibit at the United Nations in New York.

There, by chance, Iwakura met Herb Sussan, a former network TV producer, who informed him about the existence of color footage shot by a U.S. military film crew not long after the bombings. Sussan had been with the documentary crew, along with then-Lt. Daniel McGovern, a combat photographer and film director with the U.S. Air Force.

After a little digging, Iwakura found the color footage at the National Archives. About one-fifth of it showed the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombs went off. According to a shot list, reel #11010 included, for example: “School, deaf and dumb, blast effect, damaged Commercial school demolished School, engineering, demolished.  School, Shirayama elementary, demolished, blast effect.  Tenements, demolished.” Included were many minutes of stoic survivors sadly, or in anger, displaying their burns and scars.  The rest of the footage was shot in several other cities.

2

U.S. National Archives at College Park, Maryland

Actually, the film had been quietly declassified a few years earlier, but the outside world seemed unaware of it. An archivist there later told me,

“If no one knows about the film to ask for it, it’s as closed as when it was classified.”

In short order, Iwakura raised half a million dollars from more than 200,000 Japanese citizens to buy a copy of the color footage. Then he traveled around Japan filming survivors who had posed for the U.S. military cameramen in 1946.

Iwakura completed his compilation film, entitled “Prophecy”, and arranged for the June 1982 New York premiere described in Part 1 of this series.

3A few months later, brief segments of the McGovern/Sussan footage turned up for the first time in an American film, called “Dark Circle”, which was screened at the 1982, New York Film Festival. The film’s co-director, Chris Beaver, told me,

“No wonder the government didn’t want us to see it. I think they didn’t want Americans to see themselves in that picture. It’s one thing to know about that and another thing to see it.”

Still, the historic footage drew little attention until the article on Sussan I edited for Nuclear Times was published. It inspired a flood of inquiries at the National Archives.

McGovern told me,

“The main reason [the footage] was classified was because of the horror, the devastation. The medical effects were pretty gory. The attitude was: do not show any medical effects. Don’t make people sick.”

It’s clear that certain people in the U.S. government worked hard to keep the true effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings from the American public. Who exactly was behind the cover-up?  McGovern told me,

“I always had the sense that people in the AEC were sorry they had dropped the bomb. The Air Force—it was also sorry. I was told by people in the Pentagon that they didn’t want those images out because they showed effects on man, woman and child. But the AEC, they were the ones that stopped it from coming out. They had power of God over everybody. If it had anything to do with nukes, they had to see it. They were the ones who destroyed a lot of film and pictures of the first US nuclear tests after the war.”

“Dark Circle” director Chris Beaver added,

“With the government trying to sell the public on a new civil defense program and Reagan arguing that a nuclear war is survivable, this footage could be awfully bad publicity.”

Sussan was now ill with a form of lymphoma that doctors had found in soldiers exposed to radiation in atomic tests during the 1950s—and among survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts.

To walk in the footsteps of McGovern and Sussan, and meet some of the people they filmed in 1946, I made my own pilgrimage to the atomic cities in the summer of 1984.  (My “Atomic Cover-up“ book and e-book has a lengthy chapter describing what it was like to interview survivors on-site.) By then, the U.S. footage had turned up in several new documentaries. In September 1985, Herb Sussan passed away.

Researching “Hiroshima in America,” a book I would write with Robert Jay Lifton in 1995, I discovered the deeper context for suppression of the US Army film: it was part of a broad effort, starting but hardly ending with the Manhattan Project, to suppress a wide range of material related to the atomic bombings, including photographs, reports on radiation effects, information that might have raised questions about the decision to drop the bomb, even that Hollywood movie The Beginning or the End.

“I couldn’t bear to look…”

A documentary film that drew on footage from” the McGovern/Sussan footage premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2004.  It was called “Original Child Bomb” and won the top Silverdocs award. (I was the chief adviser.)  Later, the film aired on the Sundance cable channel. The film was unflinching and powerful, as its creators intended. It included unforgettable stories of surviving witnesses, such as this one:

“I saw so many corpses drifting in the water…countless bodies came floating… I couldn’t bear to look.  People without heads… people without arms… people with their guts hanging out… without eyes…”

Americans who view the footage today (see video) can now judge why the authorities suppressed it, and what impact these images, if widely seen, might have had on the nuclear arms race—and could still have on the nuclear proliferation that endangers the world today.

Only small parts of the original 90,000 feet of color film have been used, and a relatively small number of Americans have seen any of it. A major documentary on the footage, and its decades-long suppression, has yet to be made.

Without a full understanding of the effects of nuclear warfare, the American public cannot begin to reach judgment on the future of our vast nuclear arsenal.

Nine nations—so far—have the bomb

After building first-strike weapons and detailing scenarios for their use, the temptation for any nuclear power to use them may one day become irresistible. Treaties today bar the use, testing or proliferation of nuclear weapons, but at least nine nations, with the addition of North Korea, now possess The Bomb. And every American president—except Eisenhower—has endorsed their use against Japan to help bring the Second World War to a swift close.

With terrorist organizations around the world itching to get their hands on a nuclear device, it’s hardly comforting to reflect that a line against using nuclear weapons has been drawn—in the sand.

Greg Mitchell is the author of “Atomic Cover-up” and “Hiroshima in America.

- See more at: http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/03/31/death-suffering-living-color/#sthash.rmwwgVua.dpuf

On March 27 the United Nations General Assembly resolution entitled «Territorial integrity of Ukraine» (A/RES/68/262) was adopted with 100 votes in favour, 11 against (1) and 58 abstentions (2) (24 member states were either absent or present and not voting). Council members voted as follows: Russia voted against, Argentina, China and Rwanda abstained, while the remaining Council members voted in favour.

What does the new United Nations General Assembly document state? It affirms the UN commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, underscoring the invalidity of the 16 March referendum held in autonomous Crimea. (3) There are two moments to note here: first, it is forbidden by the United Nations Charter to refer the issues considered by the Security Council within its competence to the UN General Assembly. No matter that, the issue of Ukraine was referred to the United Nations General Assembly. Second, as the Charter states, the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding. Now, have the states, that supported the resolution, put forward solid arguments? Can these 100 states be considered to be united by taking the same legal and political stance? The answer is no!

A lot of time has passed since the start of anti-Russian campaign related to Crimea; the authors of the resolution have failed to come up with convincing arguments to substantiate their initiative in the form of the resolution A/RES/68/262.

The affirmation that the referendum in Crimea «contravenes international law» has no whatsoever justification at all. The representatives of Moldova, Japan and other states insisted that the referendum is in conflict with international law, but not any of them remembered which exactly article it contravenes. Their poor memory is explainable, they had nothing to say. International law offers no articles which ban referendums. To the contrary,the International Court of Justice has ruled that a unilateral declaration of independence does not contravene international law.

Neither the sponsors of Ukrainian revolution, nor the pro-Western majority at the General Assembly, took great pains to substantiate their arguments. It all boiled down to pure propaganda. They purposefully distort the factual and legal state of things. For instance, they constantly use the term «annexation» while Crimea acceded by its own choice based on free expression of people’ will to leave Ukraine and become part of another state.

Now a few words about the violation of Ukraine’ territorial integrity. As I have mentioned before, the principle of territorial integrity is mentioned in the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law within the context of outside intervention. It does not apply to internal referendums held by people who have a right to self-determination. International law puts it plain that a part of a state has a right to become independent or accede to another state of its choice. For instance, it is stated in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or Between International Organizations, as well as other documents.

What about a large group of states who supported the resolution? First, there are grounds to believe that many of them were subject to pressure or even blackmail. (4) Second, many states are simply not aware of the situation in Ukraine, so their decision to vote was based on distorted information. Quite often those who vote fail to make head or tail of what is happening in the country referred to a UN vote. It’s enough to browse the verbatim transcripts of the United Nations General Assembly’s sessions when regional conflicts or official stances of states are considered by those who geographically happen to be situated at great distances. There were also the ones who had no idea of what was going on in Ukraine but voted for the resolution taking for granted what Washington’s propaganda had to say. For instance, the representative of Nigeria supported the resolution saying he did it solely to protect the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter. He shied away from applying the slightest effort to understand what really happened. Some of those who voted for the resolution made it with strings attached, for instance, Chile said the sanctions against Russia were unacceptable.

There are quite different cases when some states, no matter how small they may be, did apply efforts to see what is what and were able to stand up to blackmail. The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said the draft resolution had other motivation than principles and said he was sorry the Assembly refused to take into consideration the historic facts and the truth about the new regime in Ukraine.

Russia has rejected the UN resolution as «confrontational», Russian UN Ambassador Churkin, said before the vote, adding that the document «undermines the referendum» and the right to self-determination of the Crimean people.

He said that there were «some right things» about the document, however, as it speaks out against unilateral actions and provocative rhetoric. According to him, no UN resolution was needed to achieve those goals, as all sides simply need to start acting in the interests of the Ukrainian people. The initiative of Crimea’s reunification with Russia came from the Crimean people themselves, not from Moscow, Churkin noted. The revocation of the official status of the Russian language and threats to send militants to Crimea by the coup-imposed government in Kiev provided «the critical mass» to push the peninsula to the referendum, added the Ambassador.

Having studied the vote procedure one is led to the following conclusion. The correlation of 100 «yes» versus «no» votes does not reflect the reality. Even if it were 100 versus 69 it would not provide the picture accurate enough. The real balance is 100 to 93. 169 countries took part in the vote (100+11+58) while there are 193 UN members. These votes should be added to the ones who did not support the resolution, certainly not the ones who voted «yes». It means 24 states, who took no part in the vote, should be added to the 58 who abstained.

It can be said the result is an evident testimony to the fact that the Western diplomacy failed. 100 states supported the Ukrainian territorial integrity while 93 did not. 100 states voted against the Crimea’s new status, but 93 did not. This is the major total of the Western demarche in the United Nations.

Notes

(1) Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.  
(2) South Africa abstained – special note by the author, who is writing this article from  South Africa. 
(3) The text of the resolution: UN Document А/68/L.39.
(4) Official Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of  Foreign Affairs  on the UN General Assembly resolutionon territorial integrity of Ukraine

European Sovereignty and Independence: How to Free the EU from the American Trap

March 31st, 2014 by Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)

This crisis is well and truly a test of national leaders’ ability to grasp the tools of independence, power and peace that their fathers (the generations of politicians which ruled right until the end of the 80s basically) have put at their disposal, this united and institutionalized Europe which only remains to be put under political control.…

If the Ukraine, a country with a population of less than 50 million having frontiers with the two monsters of Europe and Russia, really has no other option than to “choose sides” in effect it’s not the same in Europe. And this crisis is well and truly a test of national leaders’ ability to grasp the tools of independence, power and peace that their fathers (the generations of politicians which ruled right until the end of the 80s basically) have put at their disposal, this united and institutionalized Europe which only remains to be put under political control.The difficulty is that the tool which politicians must now grasp isn’t the EU. As we have repeatedly explained, the EU is a stage in European construction which, on the contrary, must now be offloaded. The Ukrainian crisis is, incidentally, the ultimate indicator. The EU framework, born out of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty[1] , and which should have led to the continent’s political and democratic union has been diverted from its objectives. From Maastricht to Lisbon[2] , it’s an all economic Europe (endless enlargement of a free trade zone) which has been put in place, that which the people now justifiably rejects, which only serves the interests of the biggest Brussels lobbies (which are not the Member States, far from it) and of which we will now see to what dramatic ends (war, loss of autonomy) it’s ready to expose the continent.

Here are eight recommendations which, according to our team, are to be implemented urgently to get Europe out of the trap which has been set for it.

1. Return to the intergovernmental method

In this extremely serious situation it’s no good waiting for Brussels (no more than the European Commission or the European Parliament, sadly), quite the contrary. Business must, therefore, imperatively return to the Member States and the so-called “intergovernmental” method.

2. Disable or put the European External Action Service under political control

To do this, it’s imperative to punish the European Commission’s External Action Service political irresponsibility and remind it of its duty to execute the decisions taken by the Member States. The External Action Service is a European diplomatic service that has no legitimacy to speak on Europeans’ behalf, even less to take strategic decisions whose consequences are the destruction of relations with our neighbours, the starting up of civil wars in neighbouring countries and the ground-up creation of risks of war or iron curtains. Both in substance and form there is nothing easier than to remind the EEAS of its duties and to link it to a more democratically legitimate political decision-making body.

3. Express a common position on the crisis

This is where things get tough. In fact, if Baroness Ashton and Mr. O’Sullivan can do anything from their ivory tower, it’s because “Europeans are unable to speak with one voice”. How many times have we read this phrase over the last 25 years? And it suits it to have more than one up its sleeve. But this time Europe doesn’t have a choice: it must reach a common position; otherwise other agendas will continue to control operations remotely. Therefore, the objective is urgent and the question is “how to get there?”

4. Defining a relevant common agenda

First of all, it’s a question of everyone agreeing on the objective of this common position. And given the fact that war and being placed under foreign supervision are the dangers facing Europe today, let’s say that the discussion’s objective is to find a way to keep Europe’s peace and independence. For 60 years we have been sold Europe as a guarantor of peace; it’s the time to show that it does. And throw out the standard questions “how to guarantee the Ukraine’s integrity?” and other nonsense. If Europe isn’t capable of guaranteeing its own, what could it usefully do for the Ukraine? And moreover, in the light of what it’s already done, it’s out of the game for the moment. It should put its own house in order first.

5. Identify the relevant group of Member States

The topic of discussion is now established, it must be asked who the participants should be, the players in this common position. But already, what are the possibilities?The 28? The 28, it’s the EU, first of all…this EU which has always been unable to speak with one voice…and which in the Ukraine’s particular case is more than ever. Too many, with too many divergent interests, the 28 consist of a fringe of small countries, former Soviet Union satellites where it’s difficult, which it’s fairly excusable, to rely on their objectivity in the current circumstances (even if the anti-“Russianism” is actually much weaker than the European Commission is trying to make us believe, with an obviously instrumental goal); and a big country, the US stooge in Europe (even if the EU-UK link has been considerably distended in recent years: loss of effectiveness, distancing of continental philosophies, supervision of the country by financial markets). Getting to a common position on the Ukrainian question is an exercise in acrobatic flying in which it’s better not to go astray.

. The Franco-German motor? Unfortunately its too weak to cope with the violence of the attack which Europe is facing… Illegitimate also: how could the position of two countries impose on 26 others from whom it must at least win passivity? Finally, if the couple have recently begun to work well on the medium-term on less important questions (Europe’s resurrection[3] , EU data protection with the NSA[4] , European defence out to 2025[5] , etc.), it doesn’t seem to be able to produce much when faced with an urgent and very grave matter[6] . Moreover, Germany’s positions (especially a Germany led by an East German) on the issues of relations with Russia are of a coherence which is difficult to decipher: between a very strong interdependence with Russia (energy in particular, but trade as well) and old anti-Soviet reflexes, the straight line doesn’t seem to be the shortest path. Nevertheless, it must be recognized that Merkel is the only one to try to sometimes take a more balanced position on the Ukrainian question and our relationship with the Russians[7]   (which, moreover, earned her a vicious attack by the media and, more hypocritically, by the European institutions). But, from the French side, a country central to the fundamental principle of the continent’s independence, we are being disappointed by surprise. We are desperately trying to guess the subtle diplomacy beyond the intelligence of the average citizen. We managed to see it in the French position as regards Syria; but this time we can only speculate: a diplomatic snub thrown in Russia’s face by François Hollande’s trip to the US[8]  the day of the inauguration of the Sochi Olympics, intransigent martial positions as regards Yanukovych and Putin since[9] … That said, as we have seen media pressure considerably reduces politicians’ room for manoeuvre; but when one has been elected as a political leader one also has the duty to free oneself from traps like this… especially in such grave circumstances. Certainly, the Franco German pair won’t be the motor.

. An ad hoc group of volunteer countries to restore calm on the continent? This would be a tempting track… if it didn’t come back to the first: bring forward a common position from the cacophony of the 28. Forget it!

6. Request a « Convention of the Eurozone heads of state for European peace and independence »

By process of elimination, only one track remains: the Eurozone or Euroland, that again. But, although on the attacks on the Euro it was the obvious and unavoidable interlocutor, it seems less simple on the geopolitical issue that concerns us. And yet!First of all, it is and remains the nascent entity composed of the founding countries’ hard-core; it’s free of Europe’s western and westernized British fringe; and as regards Europe’s Eastern and anti-Eastern (anti-Russian) fringe, it’s shown (which is important) but in a way that won’t weigh too heavily and leaves the more central countries the possibility of sharpening their arguments intended to reassure this group of Europeans on the safety of their border position with the Russian zone of influence (and the arguments are numerous and easy to find); its make-up is representative of the EU’s diversity, therefore it’s competent to generate a ripple effect and win membership (or, as we have already said, at least the passivity) of the others.

Moreover, Euroland was built during the Euro crisis and now has tools, certainly incomplete, but modern and efficient. And more importantly, this new entity’s politicization was already on the agenda, such as manifestoes for the Euro’s political union[10] , proposals for a Eurozone Parliament[11] , and other innovative ideas[12]  have appeared in recent months.

After all, Europe was always built during crises; and the Ukrainian crisis, as dangerous and desperate as it is, is probably also the one that Europe needs to finally overcome this last and so difficult stage of political union.

And one last argument: that Euroland manages to speak with one voice on the current crisis isn’t certain… but it’s only that a faint glimmer of hope is shining; Europe really hasn’t another chance of succeeding in expressing a common position.

It’s therefore a “Convention of the Eurozone heads of state for European peace and independence” that we must have… and quickly! But the last question is, who will call such a Convention? It could be the Franco German pair but we have seen that, for reasons which haven’t been fully made clear, this couple’s leadership skills have been defused as regards the current crisis.

7. If the states can’t do it by themselves, constitute a citizens’ pressure group calling this Convention

In reality, we are on test here again, that of the vitality of the European style principle: it probably belongs to the citizens, through the creation of a qualitatively representative group of European civil society’s organizations, to call for this Convention to be held, or even call it itself.But the game is far from won. The European political and democratic machinery has been considerably weakened. Coups d’état have taken place that no longer bother anyone (Renzi in Italy[13] ), countries can live without a government without it causing a problem (Belgium[14]), and young 29 year olds have been appointed as Ministers of Foreign Affairs[15] without anyone seeing anything wrong (Austria)… Moreover, governments are derailing the rule of law (Spain[16] , the United Kingdom[17] , Hungary[18] …).Some countries give the impression that national politics still count because they have a seat at international bodies (the United Kingdom, France, Germany); in reality, instead of serving these countries’ independence and supra-national groups which they should represent, these seats buy their subjection to the strongest… The disconnect between politics (national) and the instruments of power (European), have been weakening our governments for more than two decades which, immediately elected, lose all popular support in the absence of being able to achieve the political and social changes demanded by the expressed majority but blocked by ultra-active minorities (France of course[19] , but not the only one).

Finally, the last crisis has further weakened national governments and at the European level politically.

In short, it’s time to end European countries’ political division whose governments, separately, serve little or no purpose. It’s only by completing the initial objective of all the European construction work to which we committed post-war Europe’s major political visionaries, namely by organizing their union, that European citizens can take control of their collective destiny.

8. Block any process of Eurozone enlargement until its political union

And we must act quickly, because we are not the only ones to identify this relevant base for political union supplied by Euroland. Washington’s system strategies[20] have also realized this Eurozone’s potential for transition which they themselves, despite them, helped to strengthen as we said earlier, through their attack on the Euro. Renzi’s coup d’état puts at the head of Italy, a big part of the Eurozone, a pro-American non-democratic government[21] the Estonian Commissioner,  Siim Kallas, a friend of the pro-American Barroso who, contrary to all legal precedent, was allowed to campaign for the Prime Minister’s post in his country[22] , will be a servile leader to Washington’s cause fed on this EU’s bottle of which almost nothing European remains[23] ; recently France seems to have been the object of enormous pressure from Washington that is already bearing fruit… In short, the Eurozone is beginning to lose any ability to build.

A final recommendation is, therefore, required: block any Eurozone enlargement until political union has taken place. EU enlargement has served the cause of the European project’s de politicization; let’s not knowingly repeat the mistakes!

A new US float[24] or an independent continent? Europe’s future will play out in the coming weeks. A bipolar world, the West-rest of the world, locked behind an iron wall, or a multi-polar world where an independent Europe and a regenerated US will take their rightful places alongside the Chinese, Brazilian, African, Indian and Russian powers? It’s today that we must fight for the better of these two futures. All options are still on the table, in this case Europe’s, but in a few months one or other of these scenarios will get a foothold.

Ukraine’s Inconvenient Neo-Nazis

March 31st, 2014 by Robert Parry

Far-right militia members demonstrating outside Ukrainian parliament in Kiev. (Screen shot from YouTube video from RT.)

When Ukrainian neo-Nazis – infuriated over the killing of an ultranationalist leader – surrounded the Parliament in Kiev, the incident presented a problem for the U.S. news media which has been trying to airbrush the neo-Nazis out of the Ukraine narrative.

The U.S. media’s take on the Ukraine crisis is that a “democratic revolution” ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, followed by a “legitimate” change of government. So, to mention the key role played neo-Nazi militias in the putsch or to note that Yanukovych was democratically elected – and then illegally deposed – gets you dismissed as a “Russian propagandist.”

But Ukraine’s neo-Nazis are not some urban legend. Their presence is real, as they swagger in their paramilitary garb through the streets of Kiev, displaying Nazi insignias, honoring SS collaborators from World War II, and hoisting racist banners, including the white-power symbol of the Confederate battle flag.

Over the past few days, the neo-Nazis have surged to the front of Ukraine’s unrest again by furiously protesting the killing of one of their leaders, Oleksandr Muzychko, known as Sashko Bily. The Interior Ministry reported that Muzychko died in a Monday night shoot-out with police in Rivne in western Ukraine.

But the right-wing paramilitaries claim that Muzychko was murdered in a cold-blooded contract hit, and these modern-day storm troopers have threatened to storm the parliament building if the interim Interior Minister is not fired.

This renewed disorder has complicated the storytelling of the major U.S. news media by challenging the sweetness-and-light narrative preferred by U.S. policymakers. The New York Times, the Washington Post and other leading news outlets have worked hard to airbrush the well-established fact that neo-Nazi militants spearheaded the coup on Feb. 22.

To dismiss that inconvenient fact, the major U.S. media has stressed that the extreme rightists made up a minority of the demonstrators, which – while true – is largely irrelevant since it was the paramilitary Right Sektor that provided the armed force that removed Yanukovych and then dominated the “transition” period by patrolling key government buildings. As a reward, far-right parties were given control of four ministries.

Some U.S. outlets also have picked up on the unsubstantiated U.S. government theme that Russia is dispatching unidentified “provocateurs” to destabilize the coup regime in Kiev, though it doesn’t seem like Moscow would have to do much besides stand aside and watch the interim government’s unruly supporters turn on each other.

But reality has stopped playing much of a role in the U.S. news media’s Ukraine reporting as the U.S. press continues to adjust the reality to fit with the desired narrative. For instance, the New York Times, in its boilerplate account of the uprising, has removed the fact that more than a dozen police were among the 80 or so people killed. The Times now simply reports that police fired on and killed about 80 demonstrators.

Fitting with its bowdlerized account, the Times also ignores evidence that snipers who apparently fired on both police and protesters before the coup may have been working for the opposition, not Yanukovych’s government. An intercepted phone call by two European leaders discussed those suspicions as well as the curious decision of the post-coup government not to investigate who the snipers really were.

Surrounding the Parliament

But most significantly, the U.S. mainstream media has struggled to downplay the neo-Nazi angle as was apparent in the Times’ report on President Vladimir Putin’s call on Friday to President Barack Obama to discuss possible steps to defuse the crisis. Putin noted that neo-Nazis had surrounded the parliament.

“In citing extremist action, Mr. Putin sought to capitalize on a tense internal showdown in Kiev,” the Times wrote. “The presence of masked, armed demonstrators threatening to storm the Parliament building offered the Russian government an opportunity to bolster its contention that the ouster of President Viktor F. Yanukovych, a Moscow ally, after pro-European street protests last month was an illegal coup carried out by right-wing extremists with Western encouragement.”

But the Times couldn’t simply let those facts speak for themselves, though they were all true: right-wing extremists did provide the key manpower and organization to overrun government buildings on Feb. 22 and there is no doubt that these right-wing elements were getting Western encouragement, including a shoulder-to-shoulder appearance by Sen. John McCain.

The Times felt compelled to interject an argumentative counterpoint, saying: “In fact, the nationalist groups, largely based in western Ukraine, had formed just one segment of a broad coalition of demonstrators who occupied the streets of Kiev for months demanding Mr. Yanukovych’s ouster.”

And, that has been a consistent pattern for the supposedly objective U.S. news media. If the Russians say something, even if it is clearly true, the point must be contradicted. However, when a U.S. official states something about the Ukraine crisis, the claim goes unchallenged no matter how absurd.

For example, when Secretary of State John Kerry denounced Putin’s intervention in Crimea by declaring, “you just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext,” mainstream U.S. news outlets simply let the statement stand without noting that Kerry himself had voted in 2002 to authorize President George W. Bush to invade Iraq in pursuit of non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

You might think that Kerry’s breathtaking hypocrisy would be newsworthy or at least a relevant fact that should be pointed out to readers, but no. The Times also has routinely distorted Crimea’s secession from Ukraine. The Black Sea peninsula, a longtime Russian province that was only attached to Ukraine for administrative purposes during Soviet days, asserted its independence after the coup ousting Yanukovych, who had won Crimea overwhelmingly.

No one seriously doubts that the vast majority of Crimean citizens wanted to escape the disorder and hardship enveloping Ukraine – and to return to Russia with its higher per capita income and functioning national government – but the Obama administration and the dutiful U.S. news media have pretended otherwise.

In New York Times speak, Crimea’s popular vote to secede from Ukraine and to join Russia was simply Putin’s “seizure” of Crimea. The Times and other mainstream news outlets dismissed Crimea’s March 16 referendum as somehow rigged – citing the 96 percent tally for secession as presumptive evidence of fraud – although there was no actual evidence of election rigging. Exit polls confirmed the overwhelming majority favoring secession from Ukraine and annexation by Russia.

IMF’s ‘Reforms’

And, really, who could blame the people of Crimea? As Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has said, Ukraine “is on the edge of economic and financial bankruptcy” and the International Monetary Fund agreed to throw a financial lifeline only if Ukraine imposes “reforms” that Yatsenyuk has admitted are “very unpopular, very difficult, very tough.”

They will be toughest on average Ukrainians who will face severe public sector budget cuts, slashed pensions, soaring heating costs and rapid inflation due to changes in the exchange rate. The cumulative impact of these IMF “reforms” is expected to result in a 3 percent contraction of Ukraine’s already depressed economy.

Yet, much of the mainstream U.S. media ignores the understandable desire of the Crimean people to bail out on the failed Ukrainian state. Instead, the MSM pretends that Russia simply invaded Crimea and now is threatening to do the same in eastern Ukraine, or as the Times put it, Putin has engaged in “provocative moves punctuated by a menacing buildup of troops on Ukraine’s border.”

The bottom line is that the U.S. government and media have constructed a substantially false narrative for the American people, all the better to manufacture consent behind a $1 billion U.S. aid package for Ukraine and the launch of a new Cold War with the expectation of many more exciting confrontations to come – in places like Syria and Iran – all justifying fatter military budgets.

A more objective and less alarmist narrative on the Ukraine crisis would describe Putin’s actions as primarily defensive and reactive. He was distracted by the Winter Olympics in Sochi and was caught off-guard by the violent putsch that removed Yanukovych.

In light of Yanukovych’s democratic election victory in 2010 and his agreement on Feb. 21 to speed up new elections (a deal that was negated within hours by the U.S./EU-supported coup), Russia has a legitimate argument that the coup regime in Kiev is illegitimate.

The removal of Yanukovych not only was spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias but subsequent parliamentary actions to “impeach” him did not follow Ukraine’s constitutional rules. The putsch essentially disenfranchised the large ethnic-Russian populations in the east and south, where Yanukovych had his political base.

Then, the rump parliament in Kiev – reflecting the intense Ukrainian nationalism in the western section – passed punitive laws targeting these Russian speakers, including elimination of Russian as an official language. For Putin to be troubled by this crisis on his border — and to take action — was neither surprising nor particularly provocative.

If the New York Times and other leading U.S. outlets did their journalism in a professional way, the American people would have had a more nuanced understanding of what happened in Ukraine and why. Instead, the Times and the rest of the MSM resumed their roles as U.S. propagandists, much as they did in Iraq in 2002-03 with their usual preference for a simplistic “good-guy/bad-guy” dichotomy.

In the case of Ukraine, that happy dichotomy has been challenged again by the reemergence of those inconvenient neo-Nazis.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Danger of False Narrative.”]

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.

The deadline for signing up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is midnight tonight. Under the legislation popularly known as Obamacare, people uninsured through their employer or a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid must obtain insurance from private companies by March 31, 2014 or pay a tax penalty in 2015.

The White House and media are gauging the initial success of the program by the number of people who sign up by the March 31 deadline, with estimates placing that figure at around 6 million. Those visiting the insurance “marketplaces” have been shocked to find that the most affordable “bronze” plans carry deductibles of more than $5,000 and other high out-of-pocket costs that will lead to self-rationing and the foregoing of health services by many working families.

Perhaps the most insidious component of the legislation is its impact on health care delivery in the not-so-distant future. In his new book, Reinventing American Health Care, Ezekiel J. Emanuel outlines how the ACA lays the groundwork for the virtual elimination of employer-sponsored health insurance in America over the next decade.

Emanuel is a close ally of President Barack Obama, having served from January 2009 to January 2011 as a special adviser on health care reform to the White House. As we wrote in 2009, “An examination of Emanuel’s vision of health care restructuring reveals that Obama’s proposals have been informed by many of its guiding principles. Key among them are the defense of a health system based on private profit and the delivery of class-based, rationed medical care for the majority of Americans.”

In a section near the end of his book, titled “The End of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance,” Emanuel explains that before Obamacare, some 150 million people—close to half of the US population—received their health insurance through their employer or a relative’s employer. This was despite the fact that no “employer mandate” existed requiring businesses to do so.

“The ACA changes all of that,” Emanuel writes approvingly. He states categorically: “By 2025 few private-sector employers will still be providing health insurance.” He predicts that traditional employer-sponsored coverage will be replaced by a combination of defined contributions to employees to purchase coverage on private exchanges, basically vouchers, or the elimination of insurance coverage altogether.

What is posed is a sea change in the way Americans receive health insurance, with devastating implications for working people.

In contrast to Western Europe, Canada, Australia and other industrialized capitalist countries, where health insurance is sponsored by the state, employer-sponsored insurance became the norm in post-World War II America.

The absence of universal government-sponsored health insurance was the result of the reactionary politics of the US trade union bureaucracy, which blocked the development of an independent political movement of the American working class during and after the explosive industrial battles of the 1930s and 1940s that established the mass industrial unions. Instead, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which in 1955 merged to form the AFL-CIO, subordinated the labor movement to big business at home and American imperialism abroad, primarily by tying it to the Democratic Party.

Nevertheless, the working class was able, on the basis of militant struggles and industry-wide strikes, to wrench from the corporations the system of company-sponsored health insurance that provided decent medical coverage at little or no cost to workers. This became the model for businesses across the country, including many nonunion firms.

This ad hoc system, never institutionalized as a matter of law, was taken by tens of millions of working people as a social right, even though millions more were left without any health coverage. Over the past several decades, however, as part of the ruling class offensive against workers’ living standards, and with the complicity of the unions, workers have been forced to absorb an ever-greater share of the cost of employer-provided health insurance.

In the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008, the ruling class is determined to shed its share of the cost of health care for workers by ripping up the postwar system and forcing workers to buy insurance on the private market on an individual basis, leaving them completely at the mercy of the giant insurance firms.

Enter the Obama administration and its so-called health care “reform.” Emanuel explains how Obamacare creates the framework for this massive shift.

One of the biggest incentives for employers to drop insurance is the “Cadillac tax” imposed under the ACA, which will kick in after 2018. Under this tax, companies will be taxed at a 40 percent rate for benefits paid to individuals in excess of $10,200, and for families above a threshold of $27,500. Emanuel writes that this tax will make it undesirable for employers to continue to offerlavish health insurance ” (emphasis added).

Emanuel also points to the toothless $2,000 penalty per employee to be imposed on businesses for failure to provide insurance: “For a company with 1,000 employees, their health insurance bill is probably between $7 [million] and $10 million depending on how many families they cover. With the ACA, if they drop insurance, their penalty payments will be $2 million.” In other words, dropping employee-sponsored coverage makes good financial sense for big employers.

He notes as well that given the fact there is no mandate for businesses with fewer than 50 employees to provide insurance, “why small businesses will continue to provide health insurance is hard to fathom.” He writes that “in the end, exit they will” from employer-sponsored coverage.

Beginning “sometime before 2020—probably 2016 or 2017,” Emanuel predicts, “a few big, blue-chip companies will announce their intention to stop providing health insurance.” Management consultant Accenture agrees with this assessment, forecasting that by 2017, 18 percent of the US population will be buying insurance on a private insurance exchange.

Emanuel claims that out of the goodness of their hearts, and in order to continue to attract quality employees, companies will shift whatever they have saved through cutting health insurance costs to “significantly higher salaries” for workers. This is a fantasy, as Emanuel likely knows. American business today is hoarding trillions of dollars in cash reserves, obtained largely as a result of downsizing and wage-cutting, and using its bonanza to drive up stock prices and the pay and fortunes of top executives, even as it continues to ruthlessly slash wages and pensions and impose speedup.

Emanuel’s book is a confirmation, “from the horse’s mouth,” of the analysis of Obamacare developed since the program’s origins by the World Socialist Web Site. As the WSWS wrote last year: “The essential aim of the ACA is rapidly emerging. Behind the talk of providing coverage for the uninsured, Obamacare was devised from the outset as a means of dismantling the employer-based system of health insurance that for decades guaranteed a basic level of health care for tens of millions of workers in the US.”

From the start, Obamacare was based on cutting costs for the government and employers while boosting the profits of the health care industry, first and foremost, the insurance conglomerates. The concerted attack on health care in the US demonstrates the incompatibility of the basic needs of working people, on the one hand, and private ownership of the health care infrastructure and its subordination to corporate profit, on the other.

A true reform of health care requires the reorganization of the entire health care industry on socialist foundations, placing the private insurers, pharmaceutical corporations and health care chains under public ownership and the democratic control of the working class.

NATO Steps Up Military Pressure on Russia

March 31st, 2014 by Stefan Steinberg

NATO continued its military build-up on the Russian border even as US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Paris Sunday evening to discuss the conflict over Ukraine. The meeting, involving four hours of “frank” talks, ended with no breakthrough and separate news conferences.

The two men met after Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated his readiness to make certain concessions. Last Friday he phoned US President Barack Obama in Saudi Arabia to discuss a “diplomatic resolution to the crisis.” On Sunday, Kerry dismissed Lavrov’s proposal for a Federal Ukraine that was not part of NATO, cynically declaring that was “up to the Ukrainians”—that is, the fascist-led regime in Kiev backed by Washington.

Kerry again rejected Russia’s annexation of the Crimea as “illegal and illegitimate” and accused Russia of massing troops on its border with Ukraine. Western governments are using the alleged Russian troop movements to justify the steady boosting of their military presence in the Baltic states. The former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were admitted into NATO in 2004, but the military alliance did not previously deploy troops there in order not to provoke Russia. The three states have tiny armies, numbering between 5,000 and 12,000 each, and without any tanks or fighter jets.

This is now being changed. The US has already sent six F-15C combat planes to Lithuania. Britain has promised to send four jets. Other NATO members, including Germany, have also been asked to provide aircraft, including AWACS spy planes that can look deep into Ukraine and Russia.

Simultaneously, NATO has decided to hold Navy exercises in the Baltic Sea, with Norway or Germany providing the command vessel.

Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine, is also the scene of a military build-up. The US has already sent 300 military personnel and 12 warplanes to the country.

NATO foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday in Brussels are expected to decide on further measures. A NATO spokesman announced that they will halt practical collaboration with Russia in the Russia–NATO Council and “extensively” increase military collaboration with Ukraine.

Outgoing NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the German press that the alliance was considering options “to revise military plans, hold military maneuvers and increase troops in an appropriate way.” He said the extension of NATO to Eastern Europe over the last 15 years had been a huge success and proposed that new countries be admitted to the alliance, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Georgia and Montenegro. He did not mention Ukraine, but said NATO’s partnership with the country had grown “ever closer.”

These developments confirm that the crisis in Ukraine, which was instigated by the United States, Germany and their European allies, is being used to encircle and intimidate Russia in order to subordinate it to the dictates of Western imperialism.

Within Ukraine, a tug-of-war is developing over the presidential election to be held May 25. Vitali Klitschko, one of the spokesmen of the Maidan protests and leader of the UDAR party, withdrew his candidacy and announced he would support the billionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko. Klitschko will instead run for another influential post, mayor of Kiev, to be elected the same day.

With a fortune of $1.8 billion, Poroshenko is ranked seventh on the Forbeslist of Ukrainian oligarchs. He made his fortune in candies and chocolate, shipbuilding and the armaments industry. He also owns the influential television station Channel 5.

Poroshenko began his political career in the late 1990s and repeatedly changed sides. Initially, he was a supporter of President Leonid Kuchma. Then, together with the recently deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, he founded the Party of Regions. Soon after, he joined up with Yanukovych’s rival Viktor Yushchenko and supported the so-called “Orange Revolution.” After Yushchenko was elected president, Poroshenko became foreign minister. When Yanukovych returned to power, Poroshenko briefly assumed leadership of the country’s Economics Ministry.

Poroshenko apparently decided to support the Maidan protests after Russia, in an attempt to pressure the Yanukovych government, banned the import of his brand of chocolate, costing him millions in profits. His Channel 5 TV was continuously present on Maidan Square, pumping out propaganda in support of the protests.

Poroshenko has the support of Germany and other European governments. Together with Klitschko, who has been heavily backed by Berlin, he was invited to the Munich Security Conference in February. Poroshenko and Klitschko have in recent weeks met with both British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande.

According to Ukrainian opinion polls, Poroshenko has the support of 25 percent of voters, far more than any other candidate. He is considered to be a more conciliatory figure than his main rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, whose rabid Ukrainian nationalism threatens to divide the country and plunge it into civil war.

Kyryl Savin of the Green Party-affiliated Heinrich Böll Foundation in Kiev toldDeutsche Welle: “I don’t think he is going to play the radical nationalist card. On the contrary, he’ll try to keep the country together somehow.”

Evidently, European governments have concluded that Tymoshenko is too much of a loose cannon and they need a safer pair of hands in Kiev to ensure their interests. They also see billionaire businessman Poroshenko as the ideal candidate to implement the draconian austerity measures and mass sackings demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

The fact that one of the richest oligarchs is now promoted by leaders of the Maidan and the Western powers to be Ukraine’s next president explodes the claim that the protests in Kiev represented a struggle for democracy and against corruption. The new government was installed as a result of a fascist-led coup whose purpose was to bring to power a pro-Western government, deepen the subordination of the country to the dictates of the Ukrainian oligarchs and international finance capital, and provide a staging ground for Western imperialist efforts to weaken and isolate Russia.

Eleven years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the war has largely disappeared from the corporate media, and President Obama recently took the widely-criticized step of defending the invasion and claiming the Iraqi people now have “sovereignty.” Yet, on Wednesday night, Iraqi civil society organizers and U.S. military veterans gathered at a “People’s Hearing” in Washington, DC to tell a different story: of a war that is not over, that is still taking life, spreading trauma, and poisoning Iraq.

In two hours of emotionally-charged testimony — curated by the Right to Heal campaign, a joint effort of Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Federation of Workers Councils and Unions of Iraq, and Iraq Veterans Against the War — the hearing traced the ongoing impacts of the U.S.-led war and occupation. This legacy includes environmental poisoning, Iraqi government repression, sectarian conflict, poverty, trauma, displacement, and death.

Yanar Mohammed, president and co-founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, testifies on toxic legacy of U.S. war on Iraq Wednesday, March 27. (Photo: Cassidy Regan)

Throughout the event, which was moderated by journalist Phil Donahue and followed an earlier briefing in the House featuring the testimony of witnesses, an overwhelming call emerged. The U.S. must give reparations to the Iraqi people, clean up its toxic legacy, and stop waging wars and occupations around the world.

“Relations based on militarism need to be changed,” said Yanar Mohammed, president and co-founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. “The change can come from places like this.”

Toxic Legacy

Speakers described a country poisoned for decades by the U.S. military — from depleted uranium used in the 1991 Gulf War and recent Iraq War, chemical weapon white phosphorousused in the 2004 U.S. attack on Fallujah, and burn pits — which are run by the U.S. military and private contractors and burn munitions, chemicals, rubbers, plastics, and a host of other substances often within close proximity of Iraqi civilians. The toxic legacy in Iraq was repeatedly compared to the U.S. nuclear legacy in Japan and Agent Orange attacks in Vietnam.

Falah Alwan, President of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (Photo: Cara Solomon)

Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist, testified that U.S. burn pits in Iraq are exposing the Iraqi public to a litany of dangerous compounds, including lead and mercury. Research teams sent to Iraqi hospitals in Basra and Falluja found abnormally high rates of cancer, birth defects, and heart defects, she stated.

Kristi Casteel, mother of IVAW member Joshua Casteel, explained that her son passed away August 25, 2012 due to what she believes were complications from cancer caused by exposure to burn pits in Abu Ghraib during his Army service. “Had we known he was at risk from toxins in Iraq, he might have been saved,” said Kristi, adding that the military was “allowing more harm to our soldiers than our supposed enemies were inflicting.” Joshua became a conscientious objector, writer, and anti-war activist. According to his mother, his dying wish was that burn pits be eradicated and those exposed to these pits, especially Iraqis, receive care.

Mohammed, who fled Iraq during the first Gulf war but then returned after 2003 to “help people,” described epidemics of birth defects in cities and towns across Iraq. “There are some mothers who have three or four children who don’t have limbs that work, who are totally paralyzed, their fingers fused to each other. These children have mental disabilities,” she said. “There needs to be reparations for families facing birth defect and areas that have been contaminated. There needs to be cleanup.”

U.S.-Backed Repression

Speakers testified that the U.S. has also left behind another poison — the Nouri al-Maliki regime that is stoking sectarian conflict and repressing protesters and organizers fighting for their rights — against the backdrop of health problems, trauma, and a climbing refugee crisis.

“We will not surrender to sadness. We will not surrender to subjugation. We will have our say.” —Yanar Mohammed, Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

According to Falah Alwan, President of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, the Iraqi government has carried forward old laws from Saddam Hussein that repress and punish workers for organizing in their workplaces. “The new government is busy with how to re-divide the wealthy and seize the resources of society,” he said. “They are supported directly by the U.S. government. They want to issue new labor laws to control the workers and restrain them from stating their demands.”

Mohammed slammed the “corrupt” U.S.-backed and armed Iraqi government and scoffed at Obama’s claims about Iraqi sovereignty. “The U.S. occupation taught us how to hate each other based on sectarian divides,” she said. “The U.S. occupation has alienated the women of Iraq and the ethnicities of Iraq.”

The Traumas That Spread

“The truth is that war is a devastating thing,” said Savabieasfahani. “And if we unleash it on innocent populations, it will harm us all.”

One by one, Iraq veterans took to the podium to testify to the wounds they still carry and the U.S. military’s refusal to account for the harm done. IVAW member Rebekah Lampman described the harrowing experience of being raped by a fellow soldier and being denied recourse for winning justice and accountability. In fact, she was blamed for her own assault, she stated. Reflecting on her own healing process following her military discharge, she said, “I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor.”

Former marine and IVAW member Ramon Mejia (Photo: Cassidy Regan)

Former marine and IVAW member Ramon Mejia, who said he joined the military out of the “economic necessity” of providing for his family, explained that he was taught to dehumanize Iraqi people. When he made the decision, while deployed, to start “really seeing” Iraqi people after an experience hearing the call to prayer, he says everything shifted. “My war had changed: I went from going through the motions to questioning,” he said.

After his discharge, Ramon faced seizures and mental health problems, and at one point had suicidal ideations. He declared, “I wish I could express to you how sorry I am for what happened in Iraq, and I’m dedicating my life to making things right.”

Savabieasfahani pointed out that “very little work has been done on the mental effects of this war” on the Iraqi population. “Imagine the kinds of mental, emotional, physical pressure on the population of Iraq,” she stated.

Said Mohammed, “You get devastated out of fear. You have no hope.”

Justice and Reparations

Speaker after speaker repeated the call for reparations and accountability for a war that,according to some estimates, has killed over one million Iraqi people. Reparations include research into the toxic legacy of the U.S. war in Iraq, and a “clean-up” of these sites. While the Iraqi government is corrupt, there is a civil society that can oversee reparations and move it to the right places, urged Mohammed. Veterans repeated the “Right to Heal” call for true care for returning veterans, and Savabieasfahani also spoke about the need to combat U.S. racism against Arabs and people of color more broadly.

Yet, speakers urged that the real solution is ending the U.S.-led wars responsible for creating the trauma and devastation in the first place.

“The war brings us here today,” said Pam Spees, senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, in an address delivered in Arabic for the Iraqi audience — including those remotely watching a live-stream of the event. “There is nothing that can compensate for the damage that this war has caused, but we are committing ourselves to seeking justice.”

“We are looking for solutions and answers for how not to let it happen again,” said Mohammed. “We will not surrender to sadness. We will not surrender to subjugation. We will have our say.”

The full hearing is featured in the video below.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Animal Rights and Britain’s Badger Cull

March 31st, 2014 by Lesley Docksey

Why are we waiting?

 The UK Secretary for the Environment Owen Paterson, called by some the “worst Environment Secretary ever” because of his support for so many ecologically damaging initiatives, disappeared in February.  Having been responsible for an expensive and highly unpopular badger cull, he became embroiled in the crisis that brought a lot of southern England to its knees – catastrophic flooding.

 Arriving far too late on the scene down in Somerset it was then announced that he had to have emergency surgery for a detached retina – and he totally vanished.  He did come back very quietly, but was unavailable to all those seeking answers about badger culling.

But on 27 March Paterson finally came out of his badger sett and appeared before MPs to answer just a few questions about bovine TB and the badger cull.  Pity it was the first business of the day so there was not a full house to welcome him back.

His appearance had been flagged up by the Sunday Times which said that “Defra was expected to make an announcement this week, alongside the publication of a scientific assessment of last year’s cull.”

According to the Times: “The government’s badger culls are to be restarted this summer with a third killing zone, in Dorset, added to the two existing ones, in Somerset and Gloucestershire, say Whitehall sources.”

But did Paterson have anything definite to say about continuing the culls?  No.  Any mention of the publication of the “scientific assessment” (the report from the Independent Expert Panel, some details of which had been leaked in February)?  Er – no.

Following the chaotic disaster of the two pilot culls, most reasonable people would be making changes to the way ahead.  Thus Angela Smith, a staunch anti-cull MP asked what changes he plans to make to his policy on bovine TB.

He replied that the draft strategy to combat bovine TB had been published in July 2013 and that the final version, outlining Defra’s comprehensive plan, “will be published shortly.”

  More “shortly”, one presumes, than that long-awaited report.  Angela Smith said that, considering the leaked information from the report had shown the culls to be inhumane, “would he not think it vital to reconsider the policy and to abandon absolutely any plans for rolling out culling later in the year?”

Paterson was still not giving anything away: “I received the panel’s report only recently. I am considering it, and I will come back to the House in due course, when it has been fully considered.”

 How much longer is he going to sit on the time bomb of an unpublished report that most people expect to be damning in its judgement on the pilot culls?  How long is “due course?”  How long is a piece of Paterson string?

When asked to consider all the other strategies for ridding England of TB he did mention “… a strict cattle movement regime, which has been a key to success in other countries.”  A slight change there from his mantra that “There is no example anywhere in the world of a country that has successfully tackled TB without also tackling the reservoir of disease in the wildlife population.”

Prompted by Ian Paisley, who has been endlessly and loudly lobbying for Northern Ireland to have badger culling, Paterson again came out with the nonsense that the horrific long-term killing of badgers in Ireland had resulted in dramatically lowering the incidence of TB in Irish cattle.  Neither he nor Paisley will ever accept that Northern Ireland has done better in tackling the disease than the south, without killing any badgers.

Another MP asked for an update on cattle vaccine, only to be told that “we are doing this and we are doing that that but I’m afraid it will be at least 10 years before everything’s in place.”

 But it was going to take 10 years last year, and the year before that and 10 years ago too.  If ever there was a moving goalpost in this sorry saga, it is the 10-year one.

 The Shadow Farming Minister Huw Irranca-Davies delighted the anti-cull MPs with the news that during the debate on the cull earlier this month, Mr Paterson had been visiting a chocolate factory.  Well – you have to hide somewhere while you’re considering reports!

 He then demanded that any decision to continue the culls should have a proper Parliamentary vote.

 No, said Mr Paterson.  He went on to say that: “The last vote on a substantive motion showed considerable support, with a majority of 61, for our strategy.”  He mentioned the figure of a 61 majority twice, just to emphasise it.

Someone should remind Mr Paterson that that was back in June 2013, and the majority was 49 votes, not 61.  MPs have become considerably better informed since then and many of them, having viewed the chaotic mess of the two pilot culls, have wisely changed their minds.

 And they will soon break out into a rousing chorus of “Why are we waiting…?”

 

Human Rights in North Korea

March 31st, 2014 by Christine Hong

This essay offers a historicized overview of the consolidation of contemporary human rights as the dominant lingua franca for social justice projects today and applies it to the debate over human rights in North Korea. Highlighting what the rights framework renders legible as well as what it consigns to unintelligibility, it examines the antinomies of contemporary human rights as an ethico-political discourse that strives to reassert the dominance of the global North over the global South.

Relentlessly presentist in its assignment of blame and politically harnessed to a regime-change agenda, the human rights framing of North Korea has enabled human rights advocates, typically “beneficiaries of past injustice,” to assume a moralizing, implicitly violent posture toward a “regime” commonsensically understood to be “evil.” Cordoning off North Korea’s alleged crimes for discrete consideration while turning a willfully blind eye to the violence of sanctions, “humanitarian” intervention, and the withholding of humanitarian and developmental aid, the North Korean human rights project has allowed a spectrum of political actors—U.S. soft-power institutions, thinly renovated Cold War defense organizations, hawks of both neoconservative and liberal varieties, conservative evangelicals, anticommunist Koreans in South Korea and the diaspora, and North Korean defectors—to join together in common cause.

This thematic issue, by contrast, enables a range of critical perspectives—from U.S.– and South Korea–based scholars, policy analysts, and social justice advocates—to attend to what has hovered outside or been marginalized within the dominant human rights framing of North Korea as a narrowly inculpatory, normative structure. This article is adapted and revised from the introduction to a two-part thematic issue of Critical Asian Studies on “Reframing North Korean Human Rights” (December 2013 and March 2014).

I. Victors’ Justice?

In February 2014, upon completing a several-month investigation into “human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK, or North Korea]”—an investigation initiated in the sixtieth anniversary year of the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement that halted combat but did not end the war—the three-member Commission of Inquiry (COI) established by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) concluded that North Korea had committed crimes against humanity. Such “unspeakable atrocities,” in the framing account of Commission chair Michael Kirby, “reveal a totalitarian State [without] parallel in the contemporary world.”1 Analogies to the “dark abyss” of North Korea, the Australian jurist maintained, could be found only in the brutality of the Third Reich, South African apartheid, and the Khmer Rouge regime.2 Reproduced in news reports around the world, Kirby’s markedly ahistorical examples may have succeeded in inflaming global public opinion yet they failed to contextualize the issue of North Korean human rights in a way that might generate peaceful structural resolution. Indeed, insofar as the 372-page COI report singularly identified the North Korea government as the problem—both as “a remaining and shameful scourge that afflicts the world today,” in Kirby’s jingoistic phrase, and as the primary obstacle to peace in Korea—the Commission gave new life to the vision of regime change that has animated post-9/11 North Korean human rights campaigns. By recommending that North Korea and its high officials be brought up before the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), it continued the hostilities of the unresolved Korean War “by means purporting to be judicial.”3 The urgent question of a long-deferred peace relative to the Korean peninsula, which the Commission incoherently addressed, bedeviled its conclusions, rendering its findings partial, its recommendations in some instances uneasily one-sided, and its premise of impartiality suspect.4 Moreover, that the COI proceedings and report aligned the United Nations with the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Great Britain while singling out North Korea and, to a far lesser degree, China, for blame performed an unsettling restaging of the Korean War on the agonistic terrain of human rights, suggesting an encrypted “victor’s justice” with regard to an unending war that up to now has had no clear winners.5

By overlooking the roots of North Korean militarism and underdevelopment in the unending Korean War, by failing to offer a “systematic and widespread” account of “crimes against humanity” that critically assessed the impact of unresolved war on the entire peninsula and in the greater region, and by assuming the neutrality of the United Nations, the United States, South Korea, Great Britain, and Japan relative to North Korea, the Commission thereby offered an inculpatory account of North Korean human rights that obscured rather than illuminated the complex consequences of unresolved interventionist war.6 Indeed, the footnote status accorded to the Korean War’s historical and ongoing violence within today’s dominant international human rights framework speaks to the limitations of available “post-Cold War” structures of recognition when it comes to the unsettled, in many cases active, legacies of the asymmetrical wars waged by the United States and its allies throughout the Cold War. Justice, with regard to the ongoing Korean War, as Kim Dong-choon, a former standing commissioner of South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRCK), has maintained, cannot be had in the present. Instead, as he has soberingly argued, “dignity for all” and meaningful peace are conceivable “only after the unification of North and South Korea.”7 Implicit in this future prospect for broad structural reckoning is precisely what the TRCK (2005-2010), constrained in its mandate by the U.S.-ROK “security” alliance, could not compel, and what the ICC, for reasons of Realpolitik, is similarly not empowered to address: namely, U.S. accountability.8

In this regard, the Commission’s principal recommendation that North Korea be referred to the ICC for its perpetration of “crimes against humanity” should be critically evaluated against the attenuation, in our historical moment, of “crimes of aggression,” or “crimes against peace.” Crucial, here, is not only the legal limbo of the unresolved Korean War, but also, the repeated efforts by North Korea as well as scholars and activists in South Korea and the United States to emphasize the right to peace as the foremost priority on the Korean peninsula and to render the war’s consequences visible within a human rights framework. To the extent that North Korea’s grievances with regard to the unending Korean War are referenced at all in the COI report, they are framed as baseless propaganda wielded by the North Korean state to justify its human rights violations against the North Korean people.

Riven by contestatory claims, unsettled truths about “North Korean human rights,” as we thus can begin to see, are invariably entangled with competing truths about the Korean War. More to the point, justification for “international” intervention under UN auspices on the Korean peninsula at mid-century functions as a necessary premise for today’s interventionist human rights posture toward North Korea. Indeed, in its conclusions, the COI report incomprehensibly identifies the “responsibility” of the “international community” in delivering “an effective response” to North Korea’s human rights violations “because of the unresolved legacy of the Korean War.”9

It bears recalling: if the stated rationale for U.S. and UN intervention in Korea was that North Korea, on June 25, 1950, aggressed the “border” of the 38th parallel—a demarcation line, to be clear, rather than an international boundary drafted by the United States in 1945 with zero Korean input—this studiously reactive account of the war’s origins fails to account for the indiscriminate aggression that followed. The brutal U.S. occupation of the North and its massive aerial bombing campaigns, perpetrated under the cover of the United Nations Command, would generate a swath of ruin impossible to justify as self-defense on the part of the United States. When all was said and done, North Korea’s major cities and towns would be reduced to rubble, its civilian infrastructure smashed, and an estimated twelve to fifteen percent of its population killed. As historian Bruce Cumings has pointed out: “Why is it aggression when Koreans cross the 38th parallel, but imaginary when Americans do the same thing?”10

As Cumings’s critique begins to intimate, the persistent legal illegibility of aggressive war, a crime “predominately committed by the political and military authorities of the major powers,” point less to a breakdown in a global system of rule of law than they do to the workings of an imperial model of global governance that rescripts geopolitical terrain through superior military force and makes recourse to legitimation from “reactive, politically unaccountable institutions (such as courts of law).”11 By definition legibus solutus, or beyond the law, imperial sovereignty, to some degree, could be said to throw the system of international law into “legal incoherence.”12 As jurist Danilo Zolo has pointed out, “[i]mperial power is incompatible both with the general character of law and with the formal equality of subjects in the international legal order.”13 It is revealing, along these lines, that crimes against peace, which were prioritized as “the supreme international crime,” indeed placed, in seriousness, above crimes against humanity and war crimes at the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals and enshrined as crimes of aggression in the Rome Statute of the ICC, are functionally little more than a dead letter in international law.14

We might also think of what Walter Benjamin referred to as the “lawmaking character of violence.”15 Effectively immune to prosecution for crimes of aggression, the United States has wielded the lesser category of crimes against humanity, a legal classification dormant for the duration of the Cold War, against the sovereignty of small postcolonial states. Since the fall of the socialist bloc, we have been repeatedly witness to the unfurling of a spectacular dramaturgy staged around the vanquished that takes the sequence of U.S. interventionist war followed by criminal proceedings under a highly selective interpretation of jus in bello, namely, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of genocide. In this era, the international criminal tribunal, with its fractured and uneven system of justice, has served as a vital mechanism for the consolidation of what Neda Atanasoski refers to as a “postsocialist imperialist” world order in which international legal mechanisms have been monopolized by the United States and its allies and harnessed to a dubious “global ethic of humanitarianism,” which is itself inextricably linked to a regime of U.S. perpetual warfare.16

As an intended prelude to a juridical process, whether via the ICC (doubtful given the likelihood of China’s and possibly Russia’s veto) or the establishment of an international criminal tribunal along the lines of those set up for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the COI proceedings and report on North Korean human rights thus must be understood within the context of “a dual-standard system of international criminal justice…in which a justice ‘made to measure’ for the major world powers and their victorious leaders operates alongside a separate justice for the defeated and the downtrodden.”17 Indeed, prior to recommending that North Korea be referred to the ICC for its alleged commission of crimes against humanity, the Commission, in late 2013, held a series of carefully orchestrated hearings in four sites: namely, Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Washington, DC. Again, the unsettled past (and present) of the Korean War served as prologue. That South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States not only equipped and financed the COI proceedings but also were allied parties or participants in the Korean War hovered as illegible context for the work and mandate of the Commission, even as this unresolved structure of enmity everywhere informed and, one could argue, contaminated the Commission’s informational base, procedures, and findings.18 Occasionally referenced but nowhere analyzed in the COI report for its profound structural impact on human security both north and south of the DMZ, the irresolution of the Korean War was, for the most part, topically confined to a short perfunctory section in the report dedicated to historical and political context. This glaring failure to wrestle with the human costs of the unending Korean War and to prioritize the right to peace on the Korean peninsula haunted the Commission’s one-sided findings with regard to chronic North Korean hunger, separated families, and war abductees. Far from tackling the consequences of unresolved war head-on, the report displaced and minimized its significance.

Insofar as the COI human rights report rehearsed a narrative familiar in its details to “those who know North Korea well,” as historian Charles Armstrong stated to Vice News, it thereby reified, rather than challenged, a structure of enmity whose consequences must be understood as grave human rights matters meriting critical scrutiny in their own right.19 Although the report, in its synopsis of Korean history, offered a cursory overview of the Korean War that cited the research of “Bruce Cummings [sic]” and gestured toward “wounds inflicted by the Korean War [which] were deep and are still felt…on both sides of the border [sic],” it nonetheless doggedly restricted its investigation of state criminality to North Korea, and in a few instances, to China—a narrow nation-based investigation inadequate to the task of examining the structural consequences and human costs of unending war as itself a crime against humanity and, even more seriously, a crime against peace.20 When discussion of the war’s consequences surfaced, the latter were unintelligibly framed as human rights violations on the part of North Korea alone. In its final recommendations, for instance, the COI report singularly calls on North Korea to “[a]llow separated families to unite,” without addressing the root causes of their separation, much less the UN role in fomenting the state of division, peacelessness, and human tragedy that prevails on the Korean peninsula.21

With its focus on “widespread and systematic attack directed against any civilian population,” the COI report conceivably could and arguably should have offered some structural reckoning with the profound human costs of unabated war that extended across the DMZ and outward to the larger Asia-Pacific region, including the system of U.S. and UN sanctions reaching back over six decades; the ongoing U.S. military presence south of the DMZ (against the 1953 Armistice recommendation); massive U.S. joint and trilateral military exercises with South Korea and Japan, some that simulate nuclear strikes against North Korea and practice the takeover and occupation of North Korea; regional nuclear proliferation and ambitions; South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) cyber-warfare against “North Korea” that tilted domestic election results; the National Security Law and redbaiting in South Korea; the undemocratic militarization of Jeju, Okinawa, Guam, and Hawai‘i under the resurgent sign of a U.S. military pivot to Asia and the Pacific in response to a “North Korean threat”; and so forth.

Incongruously, the Commission closes its 372-page report with a recommendation impossible to square with its reiteration of near-singular North Korean culpability: “the United Nations and the states that were parties to the Korean War should take steps to convene a high-level political conference…and, if agreed, ratify a final peaceful settlement of the war that commits all parties to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”22 If recalling the 1953 Armistice Agreement’s recommendation that a “political conference of a higher level of both sides [the United States and North Korea/China] be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea [and] the peaceful settlement of the Korean question,” the COI report, in all other respects, failed to locate the issue of North Korean human rights within a structure of persistent enmity that has adversely impacted the human rights of the peoples of not only North Korea but also South Korea and the larger Asia-Pacific region.23

Instead, the COI report identified North Korea’s “instrumental” use of the “fear of invasion and infiltration”—what the Commission held to be North Korea’s cynical orchestration of a “state of emergency” (apparently not to be conflated with the indisputable fact that the war is far from over)—to explain how the North Korean state has justified and carried out its “harsh governmental rule and its accompanying human rights violations.”24 Although the report elsewhere makes brief mention of the fact that the United States has tied food aid to nuclear concessions, it described food shortages in North Korea as being irrationally “blamed on a hostile outside world” by North Korean authorities.25 Here, we would do well to take stock of analysis of the root causes of North Korea’s persistent food insecurity by David Austin, head of Mercy Corps’ humanitarian aid program to North Korea—a perspective, one would hope, not facilely dismissible as the propagandistic construction of the North Korean government:

The food security situation is a symptom of the greater problem,…which is technically that the U.S. is still at war with North Korea. And so there are sanctions on North Korea. They are not allowed to get fuel; there’s no fertilizer. And so the greater political situation has a tremendous effect on the lives of the ordinary people who are not privileged to be a part of that broader solution. They’re ordinary farmers, and they’re suffering the consequences of the non-solution to the political questions. …[U]ntil there is engagement, there’s not going to be greater solutions.26

On the conspicuous narrowness of COI’s data culture, particularly with regard to the complexity of North Korea’s food security issues, Hazel Smith observes: “[w]hat is most striking about the [UNHRC] reporting on the DPRK is the almost complete absence of reference to relevant data from other UN agencies, donor governments, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), to the extent that the…reporting seems unaware of the existence of reports on the DPRK from within the UN system itself.”27 Instead, the Commission appears to have relied heavily on an extremely dated account from Médecins Sans Frontières from 1998 and the testimony of former USAID administrator and current co-chairman of the conservative U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Andrew Natsios, despite the wealth of much more discerning, rigorous scholarship and firsthand knowledge of North Korea’s food situation that has emerged in the past decade. In this regard, the Commission’s ascription of blame to the DPRK for food violations, as Smith further argues, “demonstrates a securitization of evidence and analysis through a heavy reliance on assumptions [about North Korean state-level culpability for food-related human rights violations] and a filtering of information through those assumptions,” even as “the weight of [other] UN agency reporting contradicts” those very premises.28

The COI report, it should be noted, concedes the political bias of the data culture on which it based its findings and recommendations: “The Commission is conscious of the fact that most victims and witnesses cooperating with the Commission had an overall unfavourable opinion of the DPRK’s authorities.”29 This was uncomfortably apparent in a peculiar exchange between Commission chair Kirby and a North Korean defector residing in the United States. During the October 30, 2013 public hearing in Washington, DC, Kirby repeatedly pressed Jo Jin-hye to comment upon North Korea’s hostile stance toward the COI investigation: “Now are you aware that the government of North Korea says that the type of testimony that you have given to the Commission of Inquiry today is false and that you are a defector and a person who should not be believed because you are defaming North Korea?”30 The leading nature of this question notwithstanding, Jo offered up a response that symptomatically attested to the structure of enmity and the geopolitics of unresolved war underpinning—and to no small degree compromising—the proceedings: “I am well aware. I know who my enemy and my friend are.”31

Although the Commission conducted roughly 240 confidential interviews and held four sets of public hearings, the solicited testimony of seasoned political actors long at the helm of a well-funded, transnational “North Korean human rights” industry aimed at North Korean regime-change or regime-collapse loomed large within the 372-page COI report. In particular, the report relied heavily for its framing on testimony from prominent North Korean defectors like Kang Chol-hwan, Ahn Myong-chol, Shin Dong-hyuk, Kim Hyuk, and Kim Young-soon, and the “expertise” of unabashedly right-wing South Korean, American, and Japanese “North Korean human rights” advocates like Kim Young-hwan, Andrew Natsios, Victor Cha, and Ishimaru Jiro. The insight of this cadre of “witnesses and experts” into North Korea appears frequently in the COI report, furnishing its narrative contours. In other words, despite the Commission’s assertion that all testimonies were carefully vetted for reliability and Kirby’s strained assurances that such testimonies represent “authentic voices,” the 372-page COI report troublingly allocates outsized representational value to the words and views of ultimately only a handful of institutionalized actors whose relationship to U.S. and South Korean intelligence, U.S. soft-power institutions, thinly renovated Cold War defense organizations, hawks of neoconservative and liberal varieties, conservative evangelicals, and anticommunist Koreans in South Korea and the diaspora goes completely unquestioned.32 It treats their testimony, moreover, as primary data, ascribing a false positivism to sources that “divulge their secrets at some distance in time and space from the ongoing developments inside the target they are reporting on.”33

Although the COI report offers a perfunctory account of its own methodological underpinnings, we should remark what goes unsaid: namely, the interoperability of the technologies of North Korean human rights, namely defector testimony and satellite imagery, and the technologies of war. Indeed, North Korean human rights testimony is morphologically indistinguishable from what the CIA and military intelligence agencies call “human intelligence” (Humint). As former CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz points out: “Where it has no physical presence, the [CIA] has historically relied for humint primarily on defectors, detainees, legal travelers, opposition groups and foreign government liaison services.” That the COI report gives extensive space to defector testimony without weighing the perils of an over-reliance on this sort of informational base raises the question of the empirical nature of the North Korean human rights project. Donald MacIntyre, former Seoul bureau chief for Time magazine, observes:

North Koreans who have left their country have provided some of the best information that we have. But you can’t go to North Korea and check what they tell you. An example arose in 2004 when the BBC ran a documentary alleging that North Korea was using political prisoners as guinea pigs in chemical weapons tests. The issue is now part of the human rights agenda on North Korea. …The problem has become worse…as a result of the Japanese and Korean media’s practice of paying defectors for interviews. Paying for interviews creates an incentive to pad, or create, stories that will boost your own market value. …Bad news about evil North Korea sells.34

In his memoir The Aquariums of Pyongyang (2001), co-authored with the French anti-communist Pierre Rigoulot, Kang Chol-hwan, a major COI witness, states that Japanese and South Korean media paid him so handsomely “for opening [his] mouth” about North Korea that he “occasionally felt [he] was trading [his] experience for a story…no longer entirely [his] own.”35

Yet the question today goes beyond whether “authentic voices” like Kang’s represent the truth of North Korea. Rather, in light of the fact that approximately 26,000 North Koreans resettled in South Korea both during and after the 1990s’ North Korean famine, we might more pointedly ask whether the testimony of North Korean defectors and migrants featured in the COI report bears a sufficiently representative relationship to the diversity of views and experiences of this significant minority population. On this point, in a South Korean civil society organizational response to the COI findings, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) highlights one of the report’s major shortcomings: “North Korean human rights issues should not be limited to the situation inside the DPRK [but should] cover human rights concerns of all North Korean people, their separated families, and relatives,” including “DPRK defectors living in the ROK.”36 It is, above all, the complexity of allegiance and nuance of perspective within this demographic that merit careful regard. Not only does this post-famine wave of migrants constitute a critical new phase in the separated-family phenomenon, with phone calls and remittances flowing, often in circuitous ways, across the DMZ, but also, the South Korean state’s past instrumentalization of North Korean defectors toward anti-communist Cold War ends, plausible when they were few and far between, is no longer a broadly applicable strategy. Moreover, that North Korean migrants face crippling labor and educational discrimination, social stigma, and diminished life chances in South Korea complicates a human rights narrative that assigns all blame to North Korea—indeed calls for other interpretive approaches which possess more explanatory power.37

Ultimately, little in the COI findings departs from a well-honed human rights narrative about North Korea, an account of neo-Orientalist sadism, depravity, and inhumanity that took shape after the collapse of the socialist bloc but crystallized in the wake of George W. Bush’s infamous designation of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil.” Even as the COI report, in its details, offers information that lends itself to multiple interpretations, the Commission’s findings, in keeping with a familiar “demonization script” toward North Korea, rehearse the standard postulates of North Korean human rights campaigns.38 These are worth restating insofar as they form the contours of a globally dominant narrative about North Korea: to wit, North Korea is unsurpassingly “evil.” The defector is the voice and representative of the North Korean people. Satellite images reveal the truth about North Korea.

“North Korean human rights” singularly denotes those abuses, violations, and crimes perpetrated by the North Korean state (and in a few instances, China). It does not compass those abuses, violations, and crimes committed by other states or organizations against the North Korean people. Relative to North Korea, human rights and humanitarianism are, by and large, separate, non-intersecting tracks.39 The politicized withholding of food aid by donor nations, even if it adversely impacts, to the point of death, the North Korean people, is not itself a human rights violation.40 Six decades of U.S. and UN sanctions and of unending war are simply business as usual and not themselves human rights violations; any argument to the contrary is the stuff of North Korean propaganda. The violation of the right to peace and the commission of the crime of aggression are the least consequential of human rights in the international human rights regime. The Korean War is a mere footnote.

II. Shadow Archive of North Korean Human Rights

In December 1951, the Civil Rights Congress presented a petition titled We Charge Genocide to the United Nations. Submitted as the Korean War was raging, this document, as with other black radical human rights petitions addressed to the United Nations during the Cold War, tested the interpretive limits of the legal instruments of the emergent international human rights regime. Specifically, the petition insisted that the U.S. “record of mass slayings on the basis of race, of lives deliberately warped and distorted by the willful creation of conditions making for premature death, poverty and disease” be recognized as a violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention—a convention that had entered into force earlier that year but that the United States would ratify only in 1988, long after its brutal hot war counterinsurgencies in Asia had cooled.41

Principally aimed at making Jim Crow legible as a crime within the supranational framework of human rights, this petition posited the two-front nature of U.S. genocidal violence—violence instrumentally motivated at home and abroad by a desire for “economic profit and political control.”42 Linking mass violence perpetrated with impunity in the imperial center to that furiously unleashed on millions in the periphery—here implying a homology between police brutality in the United States and the U.S. “police action” in Korea—We Charge Genocide maintained that the roots of the devastating U.S. war in Korea could be found in the racist logic of American capitalism. Salvaged from history’s dustbin, this account of U.S. aggression in Korea has a place within a shadow archive of North Korean human rights—an archive whose unredressed grievances lurk uneasily below the smooth surface of dominant North Korean human rights narratives today.43

Attempting to indict U.S. criminality on the world stage, the Civil Rights Congress petition sought to place both Jim Crow and the U.S. war in Korea squarely under the innovative legal rubric of genocide and in so doing to indict racist and imperialist violence within the framework of universal human rights law:

We, Negro petitioners whose communities have been laid waste, whose homes have been burned and looted, whose children have been killed, whose women have been raped, have noted with peculiar horror that the genocidal doctrines and actions of the American white supremacists have already been exported to the colored people of Asia. We solemnly warn that a nation which practices genocide against its own nationals may not be long deterred, if it has the power, from genocide elsewhere.44

Paul Robeson and members of the Civil Rights Congress submitting We Charge Genocide to the United Nations Secretariat, New York, December 17, 1951, Daily Worker/Daily World Photographs Collection, Tamiment Library, New York University. 

 

In highlighting the devaluation of nonwhite life—life subjected to collateralization under U.S. sovereignty—this 1951 petition offered analysis along critical human rights lines that neither peddled in a politics of pity and rescue nor reinscribed the inequality of the world system. Instead, it gestured toward a humanism that had yet to assert its fullest political possibility—what Aimé Césaire would in 1955 call “a humanism made to the measure of the world.”45 During a juncture in which the United States was waging an “appallingly dirty” war in Korea that would leave roughly 4 million dead, this petition strove to expose the inhumanity of U.S. capitalist democracy.46 Arguing that “[w]hite supremacy at home makes for colored massacres abroad” insofar as both evince “contempt for human life in a colored skin,” We Charge Genocide contested the immunity enjoyed by the lyncher and the bomber. “Jellied gasoline in Korea and the lynchers’ faggot at home,” the petition stated, “are connected in more ways than that both result in death by fire. The lyncher…cannot murder unpunished and unrebuked without so encouraging the [bomber] that the peace of the world and the lives of millions are endangered.”47 That the Civil Rights Congress, which openly opposed the U.S. war against North Korea, would be labeled subversive by the U.S. federal government, hounded by the House un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), audited by the IRS, infiltrated by the FBI, and mercilessly red-baited until its remaining members voted to disband in the mid 1950s only partly suffices to explain why its charge of two-front genocide was, and continues to be, unintelligible as a human rights claim.48 Rather, detectable in its struggle to make the charge of genocide stick to the greatest military power in the global community—and to criminalize U.S. wars of aggression and its asymmetrical wars in a consequential way—was a hint of the “something rotten” at the heart of the emergent international human rights regime.

Pyongyang, North Korea, in the aftermath of an air raid by U.S. planes in fall 1950. A total of 420,000 bombs eventually would be dropped on a city that then boasted approximately 400,000 residents.

As Césaire would trenchantly comment in Discours sur le colonialisme (1955), “capitalist society…is incapable of establishing a concept of the rights of all men”—and further noted that it degrades humans by subjecting them to “thingification.”49 Césaire’s critique begins to alert us to a “major deficiency in the doctrinal analysis of international law,” namely, “that no systematic undertaking is…offered of the influence of colonialism in the development of the basic conceptual framework of the subject.”50 Indeed, the very “edifice of international law embed[s] relations of imperialist domination.”51 It is thus no coincidence that the various human rights vernaculars—anticolonial, race radical, communitarian, Third World—that flashed up during the Cold War with visions of “a humanism made to the measure of the world,” have today been relegated to the status of “rebellious specters” in the dominant paradigm of international human rights.52 That the liberal model of rights has prevailed in this era of advanced global capitalism “as the privileged ideological frame through which excessive cruelty [is] conceived and interpreted” has meant the neutralization, as Randall Williams has argued, of “other epistemic forms and political practices.”53

On the institutional consolidation of the human rights movement in the late Cold War period, historian Samuel Moyn observes that its emergence as a “new, moralized” policy regime was catalyzed by “the reception of Soviet and later East European dissidents by politicians, journalists, and intellectuals” in the West, giving rise to a narrow notion of internationalism based on individual rights.54 Human rights are thus central to a U.S. triumphalist narrative of global socialist declension. For neoconservatives, human rights, “understood as anticommunism by another name,” energized a U.S. foreign policy that systematically aimed to quash any vestige of socialism around the world and to erode Third World self-determination, despite the fact that “the master principle of collective self-determination” rhetorically inflamed the imagination of the nascent human rights regime at mid century.55

This is to point out that human rights critique, brandished as an incriminating tool, may have been wielded by capitalist and socialist states alike in a mutual tu quoque calling-out of abuses throughout the Cold War. As that era waned, however, the international human rights regime tilted fatally and collusively toward U.S. unilateralism.

How we think of human rights today, in other words, is conditioned by the “ascendance of the US over the past two decades to the position of global hegemon, secured by its relative monopoly over the capacity for mass destruction.”56 Nowhere is this more apparent than in the demotion, in our era, of Third World self-determination, with its “basis in collectivity and sovereignty,” from its former status “as the first and most important threshold right.”57 In the contemporary moment, the liberal human rights frame appears as the “consensual real,” a self-evident vehicle for social justice concerns.58 Yet with their near-exclusive focus on pain and suffering in the present and exculpatory stance toward their own violence—violence now branded as “emancipatory”—human rights as an “moral discourse” supposedly divorced from politics has functioned to evacuate historical and geopolitical contexts, and indeed to imply the obscenity of explanatory frames other than the most immediate.59 Legacies of past U.S. interventions, superficially acknowledged as “anti-Americanism,” might occasion cursory regard from U.S.–based human rights activists who otherwise decry and assiduously catalog the rights violations of long-standing enemies of the United States. Mobilized in this way as a jargon of power deployed across uneven geopolitical terrain, today’s discourse of universal human rights renders illegible or “rogue” rights-based interpretations of the structural violence perpetrated by imperial nations.

As a ruling idea that obscures the brutality of the imperial past and disavows the violence of the imperial present, human rights enact a temporal claim on modernity. Of human rights as decontextualizing ideology, Costas Douzinas states: “[t]he specific political situation that led to the abuses, the colonial history and the conflicts that matured into civil war, the economics that allowed the famine to develop, all these are irrelevant from the perspective of the moralist.”60 In other words, despite their profound structural effects, the seismic deformations wrought by colonialism, the world-altering predations of capitalism, the unresolved Cold War counterinsurgencies, and the militarized asymmetry of the post–Cold War world are pushed to the background—if they factor in at all—of the “universal” human rights framework. When marshaled against the states in the global South, human rights critique amnestically wipes the slate of colonialism clean, adopting a conveniently presentist perspective. As John Feffer states, “In determining causality, this framework has proven unhelpful.”61 Fixated on spectacles of pain and suffering in the now, crises in some instances of their own making, human rights campaigns thus accord mere footnote status to unsettled histories of colonial violence. This is no oversight. In the contemporary human rights frame, which assumes the centrifugality of a rights-based tradition cultivated in imperial centers, Frantz Fanon’s decolonizing insight, “it will take centuries to humanize this world which the imperialist forces have reduced to the animal level,” is unrecognizable not only as a human rights critique but also as an urgent, unfinished project of the present.62

Identified in the human rights frame as “one of the worst examples of a failed experiment in social engineering in the twentieth-century”—a pariah without parallel—North Korea is regarded as lacking a meaningful rights paradigm of its own.63 Rarely does the human rights framing of North Korea expand to acknowledge the country’s realization of economic and social rights during its “Golden Age,” an era from the 1960s to early 1970s—according to Stephen Linton of the Eugene Bell Foundation—characterized by “a public distribution system that provided citizens with a food and clothing ration, housing, education, and medical care free of charge.”64

Nor does today’s dominant human rights frame recognize that North Korea’s leadership seriously endeavored “to fix the systematic problems that accelerated the food crisis in the early 1990s,” much less concede that “anecdotal evidence” over the past fifteen years, even according to some longtime Korea watchers, appears to point to “a lessening of repression.”65 Instead, as an inculpatory discourse, human rights critiques of North Korea have served hegemonic interests, cordoning off the North Korean state’s alleged crimes for discrete consideration, while turning a willfully blind eye to the violence of human rights as well as the brutality of the world economic system. Rights-based approaches to North Korea, in other words, have promoted violence in the name of human rights—justifying war, occupation, sanctions, the withholding of humanitarian and developmental aid, and neoliberal marketization—while indicting what is singularly presented as North Korea’s repellant violence.66

This unilateral framing of North Korea has enabled the United States, in its position as global rescuer, to attempt to extend its imperium over North Korea while exempting its past and present exercise of “sovereignty as terror” toward the North Korean people from the very standards it applies to the North Korean state.67 Rife with troubling implications, the twenty-first-century U.S. adoption of a rights frame toward North Korea has not signaled simply a shift in conceptual categories—with what would once have been regarded as “domestic problems” now construed as “actionable offenses in the international arena.”68 Rather, it has placed soft and hard interventionist options, with their predictably devastating consequences, firmly on the table.

This antinomy between the ends of the North Korean human rights project, or regime change in the service of the individual rights of the North Korean people, and the violent means of human rights, which bears the potential to harm, if not to kill, the imperiled subjects that rights campaigns purportedly wish to save, bespeaks a discomfiting political truth about human rights as a tool of unilateral U.S. power. This project’s ideological trappings are nowhere more evident than in the stark dissonance between human rights and human security approaches to North Korea. Both profess concern for the North Korean people yet only the human rights camp has consistently argued against food aid while advocating for fortified sanctions, military intervention, and even advance plans for refugee camps to house fleeing North Koreans after an externally triggered regime collapse. Arguing that “humanitarian concern” toward North Korea inadvertently “undermin[es] our national security,” U.S. Congressman Ed Royce, a major author of human rights legislation aimed at North Korea, referenced Kim Duk Hong, a defector who declared that extending food aid to North Korea “is the same as providing funding for North Korea’s nuclear program.” During the George W. Bush administration, Kim Duk Hong tellingly advocated: “If we really want to destroy Kim Jong Il, we should be brave. We shouldn’t be afraid of war.”

It bears reflecting on what the dominant rights-based approach to North Korea has epistemically foreclosed.69 As a geopolitical construct that has naturalized contemporary perceptions of North Korea, facilitating the appearance of global consensus, the human rights frame may have assumed institutional form in the wake of world-altering calamities confronting North Korea at the Cold War’s end: the collapse of the socialist bloc, the devastating 1990s’ famine, and the surge of thousands of North Koreans across the border into China and eventually South Korea. Yet these crises alone cannot account for the character of the North Korean human rights project. Rather, in its embrace of transnational interventionist politics, the North Korean human rights agenda tellingly located itself “against, rather than within, an engagement framework” during an optimistic juncture of thawed inter-Korean relations.70 In doing so, it revealed the prospect of U.S. intervention to be its animating spirit.

III. Jargon of North Korean Human Rights

If presented by its advocates as “an unqualified good,” human rights in our era have in fact frequently functioned as a hegemonic interpretive lens and discursive framework of power—keyed to the prospect of unilateral military violence—whereby the “evils” of North Korea and other “rogue nations” and “outposts of tyranny” can be marked for elimination.71 In 2000, Hazel Smith critically observed that “the dominant approach [to North Korea] remains heavily coloured by a security perspective which is…curiously old-fashioned in its reliance upon the use and potential of military force.”72 After 9/11, with North Korea demonized as part of the axis of evil, the proclivity to securitize human rights relative to North Korea has in no way abated. Human rights were transformed during the George W. Bush era into a defining U.S. policy instrument toward North Korea. This era would moreover spawn a coalitional spectrum of anticommunist, neoconservative, evangelical, and defector-based NGOs in both the United States and South Korea.73

Indeed, the past decade has been witness to the consolidation of a U.S.–funded transnational advocacy, propaganda, and intelligence network under the elastic banner of North Korean human rights. Tellingly, the two primary ways ofknowing North Korea within today’s implicitly militarized human rights frame are through forms of intelligence whose reliability is far from assured—specifically, defector testimony and satellite imagery, referred to as human intelligence (Humint) and imagery intelligence (Imint), respectively, in intelligence circles. Both forms of “evidence,” we might be reminded, were central to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s supposedly airtight case for U.S. intervention in Iraq, which he delivered before the UN Security Council in 2003.

Colin Powell, at the United Nations on February 5, 2003, making the case for U.S. war in Iraq 

Capturing the Bush imprint on North Korean human rights as a politics and critique aimed at North Korea’s collapse, the phrase “axis of evil” is worth scrutinizing for what it reveals about the jargon of North Korean human rights as a unilateral discourse and vocabulary of imperial domination. Coined by Bush speechwriter David Frum to justify preemptive U.S. attack against longstanding U.S. foes, the original phrase “axis of hatred” was altered to “axis of evil” to reflect Bush’s just-folks variety of “theological” rhetoric.74 The evangelical cast to this idiom of power cannot be facilely dismissed. As a moralizing take on North Korea, the phrase made no pretense as to evidentiary basis. Rather, it performatively sought to elicit belief. In a 2009 presentation before the Senate, in which he referred to North Korea as “Holocaust Now,” Sam Brownback, the leading Congressional hawk on U.S. North Korea policy, conceded the epistemological indeterminacy of the North Korean human rights enterprise. “[P]erhaps all of the evils of Camp 22 and these other camps are fictions,” he startlingly admitted before calling on the United States to give North Korea’s leadership “a stark choice: transparency or extinction.”75 Echoing South Korean intelligence assessments of defector testimony, which have held that “absence of proof does not mean the absence of reality,” Brownback’s dogmatic belief in evil also speaks volumes about the preemptive militarized logic of the North Korean human rights project—in essence, a willingness to extract “transparency” from North Korea at the barrel of a gun. His either/or logic, moreover, excludes the possibility of a third term—a complex middle ground unaccounted for in his default equation of North Korea with evil.76

Satellite imagery that Colin Powell furnished as evidence of Iraq’s possession of WMDs at the United Nations on February 5, 2003

Indeed, axiomatic to North Korean human rights campaigns is what today more generally passes as common sense: North Korea’s association with an inhumanity and atrociousness so total and thoroughgoing, so totalitarian, that these attributes defy evidentiary analysis. Absence of evidence confirms what therefore must be sinisterly true about North Korea—that it is “the most repressive regime extant, scoring at the absolute bottom on all standard measures with respect to regime type, political and civil liberties, and human rights,” that “[i]t is a living hell on earth where citizens have no rights”; that it is “the worst human rights situation in the world today”; that it is the “world’s worst persecutor.”77 In the vivid yet empty jargon of North Korean human rights, these superlative claims, which solicit our belief, serve as the murky epistemological basis of the interventionist rights-based agenda toward North Korea. They are expressed in the range of analogies deployed by campaigns mounted to rescue the people of North Korea from evil. Alluding to “what we all know to be true” about North Korea, the language of North Korean human rights enacts a relational stance—a Manichean posture between us as the universal benchmark for the human and the North Korean “regime” as the global standard of inhumanity. Its pariah status implied in the metaphors in which it is routinely cast, North Korea figures in rights campaigns as a negative space, in effect a terra nullius, impossible to comprehend in autochthonous terms. If illegible or impenetrable, it invites the imposition of phantasmic meanings: carceral (prison, gulag, concentration camp), apocalyptic (hell on earth, place of darkness), Christian irredentist (Jerusalem of the East, land of the gospel), historical (antebellum slavery, the Third Reich, Khmer Rouge), and quasi-scientific (black hole). The violence-to-come suggested by these teleological and eschatological terms, oriented toward North Korea’s “liberation” or “salvation,” raises the question of whether recognition of humanity in these human rights frameworks holds out “the promise…of liberating the flesh [and] redeeming one’s suffering” or rather of “intensifying it.”78 Yet the implicit violence of affect that darkens the fiat lux imperative of North Korean human rights campaigners—today’s “emissar[ies] of light” and “gang of virtue”—might give us some pause.79

As a condensed figuration of the evil, danger, and wanton disregard for life human rights activists ascribe to North Korea, the “hidden” yet paradoxically hyper-visible gulag—captured in what they claim are unassailable satellite images —facilitates the rescripting of imperialist narratives of the past along securitized lines, authorizing intervention in the name of a safer world. Not simply, in these accounts, a state like any other with its own carceral system, North Korea is deemed to be the “world’s largest prison camp” or, in the words of Mark Palmer, cofounder of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the “larger gulag which is North Korea.”80North Korea, in the demagogic assessment of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) cofounder Adrian Hong, is a “staggering system entirely built and mastered for the express purpose of propagating human suffering.”81

Not simply, this is to say, a neutral analytic or mimetic representational technology by way of which the violence of North Korea can be recognized, censured, and archived, human rights mystify the structural violence that produces and conditions the “geopolitical divide between first and third worlds.”82 They affirm the prerogatives of the global North, leaving its neoconservative, neoimperial, and neoliberal underpinnings, not to mention legacies of violence, unexamined. Perversely identifying with figures they regard as victims rather than with those they condemn as “perpetrators of social injustice,” today’s global human rights advocates are themselves typically “beneficiaries of past injustice.”83 Insofar as the injustice in question—slavery, settler colonialism, native genocide, Jim Crow, imperial wars, CIA-engineered coups, political purges—is “now regarded as past,” even if its benefits continue to accrue, human rights activists of brutally enriched imperial and sub-imperial nations have not seen fit to “disgorge their unjust gains” in any systematic way.84

Unsettling today’s dominant framework of North Korean human rights is the violence of the unresolved Korean War. If limited and “forgotten” from the perspective of Americans, the Korean War was total and searingly unforgettable from the perspective of Koreans who directly bore its consequences. As early as 1952, journalist I.F. Stone observed that the Korean War rehabilitated a U.S. economy geared, as a result of World War II, toward total war. Seized as opportunity, this devastating war permitted “the Truman Administration to get authorization from a fiscally conservative Congress to solve the world liquidity crisis.”85 On top of tripling U.S. defense spending, it furnished a rationale for the bilateral linking of “client states in Asia to the US.”86 Indeed, General James Van Fleet, commanding officer of U.S. and UN forces in Korea, described the war as “a blessing” and remarked, “There had to be a Korea either here or some place in the world.”87

“Central to [the] ideological enterprise” of human rights, however, “is the scripting of Washington as an outsider to [the] horrors [of human rights], an exterior power watching from afar” rather than an actor in any way central to the catastrophe.88 Self-fashioned not as a beneficiary or perpetrator of violence but rather as an innocent observer ab extra, the human rights advocate “presume[s] to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, even define[s] the interests of those [she or he] speak[s] for (as if people are unable to do this for themselves).”89 Staged across geopolitical lines—colonial periphery/global South and imperial center/global North—the human rights narrative strips historical context away, offering a notably partial account, in both senses of the word. Yet, in this regard, the human rights narrative of North Korea draws on earlier modes of colonial narration that feature encounters between unequal forms of humanity. Here, we might recall Wayne Booth’s theory of unreliable narration, which he elaborates in a study of the rhetoric of fiction, for what it reveals about the perspectival limitations of geopolitical modes of narration that privilege imperial perspectives toward violence in the colonial periphery: “the reflector, in becoming inconscient about his own motives and about the reality about him, becomes a vicious agent in the story.”90 It is precisely “his viciousness and his unconscious distortions” that render the account mediated by this narrator unreliable.91 Complicit in the spectacle of suffering before him, the narrator who at first appears to be a dispassionate observer “becomes involved in the action so deeply” that he risks “producing…catastrophe.”92 In this way understood as a perceptual problematic, U.S.–based human rights politics toward North Korea not only must disavow the counterrevolutionary nature of prior U.S. intervention in the Korean War, “a civil and revolutionary war, a people’s war,” but also, invert the militarized legacies and illiberal consequences of U.S. involvement in the Korean peninsula as cause for potential further interventionist action.93

In Songhwan (2003)—a documentary that follows South Korean grassroots solidarity efforts for the repatriation of long-term unconverted communist prisoners, who had been incarcerated and tortured in South Korea for their alleged spying activities, to North Korea—South Korean filmmaker Kim Dong-won records his journalist colleague Ishimaru Jiro’s rightward political transformation into a budding activist focused on North Korea human rights. Conceding that he himself “couldn’t survive where [he couldn’t] make films freely,” Kim remarks that Ishimaru nonetheless “downplay[s] the fact that North Korea has been at war with America for the past 50 years” and that “[w]ars limit the human rights of North Koreans, and aggravate…the food shortage.”94 In Kim’s structural account, which refuses the seductive immediacy of the human rights narrative frame, the political incarceration of prisoners who withstood decades-long efforts to brutalize them into renouncing North Korea is akin to the isolation imposed on North Korea as a result of over half a century of aggressive U.S. policy. As Kim puts it: “By refusing to sign a nonaggression pact, the US must also share the blame. The US’s economic sanctions and threats of war against the North remind me of the conversion scheme against the prisoners. Just as the scheme failed to break the prisoners, American threats will fail to break the North.”

IV. Parlous Refuge

Human rights campaigns of the global North are structured by a geopolitical imaginary that reproduces and naturalizes a divided-world system: “Danger there, safety here. Victims there, saviors here. Tyranny there, freedom here.”95 Specific to the discourse of North Korean human rights, this list might be extended. WMDs, nuclear proliferation, over-the-top defense spending? There. Domestic surveillance, class stratification, labor exploitation, political imprisonment, militarized borders, sexual trafficking, religious intolerance, hunger and immiseration? There. Geared therefore toward regime change—a supersession, by whatever means, of the vile “there” with a kinder, gentler “here”—human rights campaigns against North Korea have colluded in a remarkably homogeneous, neoliberal vision of its future. In human rights schema, not only are North Korea’s liberation and salvation synonymous with free-market principles, but also those advocating for its freedom verge upon asserting a proprietary right, if not a shareholder’s stake, in its post-collapse future. In this regard, advocates figure, in the framework of North Korean human rights, as beneficiaries of future violence.

In a speech delivered to U.S. and South Korean business leaders in 2003, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hailed the prospect of a future in which “freedom will come to the people [of North Korea] and light up that oppressed land with hope and promise.”96 The fact that Rumsfeld had also notoriously insisted on the viability of a hypothetical two-front U.S. military campaign against Iraq and North Korea suggests that he envisioned “hope and promise” to be the liberal fruits of an illiberal war.97 In serial calls for regime change in North Korea, LiNK cofounder Adrian Hong has also glibly pitched the vast growth potential of a post-collapse North Korea brightened by capitalism and annexed to U.S. financial interests: “With the right inputs, a North Korea free of the Kim regime would bring about…opportunities for economic development, investment, and trade.”98 That neoliberal designs for North Korean reconstruction animate calls for regime change should alert us to the risk-based nature of the human rights project aimed at North Korea. In her appearance in the now-classic North Korean human rights documentary Seoul Train (2004), Suzanne Scholte—president of the hard-right Defense Forum Foundation, an organization that brings North Korean defectors to Washington, D.C.— critiqued South Korea’s pro-engagement policy toward North Korea: “[The] South Korean government is afraid of a regime collapse but that’s wrong to fear that. They should be welcoming it and they should be planning for it.”99 Recognizing that engineered regime collapse would have grave humanitarian consequences on average North Koreans, the very people deemed to be “the most suffering…on earth” by U.S.–based human rights advocates, South Korean scholars have cautioned against the hubris of the interventionist human rights vision.100 It is nonetheless revealing that within the political economy of North Korean human rights, the human dimension factors as an oversight.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld points to a satellite image of the Korean peninsula at night in a 2005 Pentagon press briefing

If utopian in its stated aims to save North Korean humanity, the North Korean human rights project reveals its darker, dystopian side in the apocalyptic scenarios it envisions as a means toward that emancipatory goal. North Korean human rights advocacy is strikingly riddled with the neoliberal rhetoric of financialization, interest, and speculation—so much so that when weighing in on the post-regime collapse scenario, the human rights advocate, gripped by market-fever, is scarcely distinguishable from a speculator. As Naomi Klein has pointed out, destruction, in the form of “countries smashed to rubble, whether by so-called Acts of God or by Acts of Bush,” represents glistening possibility—a paradise—to the disaster capitalist: “where there is destruction there is reconstruction, a chance to grab hold of ‘the terrible barrenness,’…and fill it with the most perfect, beautiful plans.”101

In sounding a death knell for socialism, the hegemonic human rights project is “as much a brief for capitalism as human rights.”102 It scarcely acknowledges the fact that “even as capitalism has declared victory, it has grossly failed in its destructive effects on a vast number of the world’s people.”103 Running as a continuous thread in North Korean human rights discourse is the teleological presumption that the Korean peninsula must be unified “under a peaceful, politically free, market-oriented system.”104The North Korean Freedom Act of 2003 explicitly stipulated funding for “entities that promote market economies.”105Signed by Bush into law, the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, the successor to the 2003 bill, retained this highly political provision, authorizing the U.S. president “to provide grants to private, non-profit organizations that promote…the development of a market economy in North Korea.”106Declaring North Korea to be “the most closed society on Earth,” Brownback, a driving force behind both major human rights bills, asserted in ringing tones that “a brighter, fuller, free, and open Korean Peninsula is in our ultimate national interest.”107 The irony is inescapable: the most voluble condemnation of the North Korean government’s supposed resistance to marketization comes from the very human rights camp that has agitated for a fortified sanctions regime against the country, thereby restricting its access to capital. This not only stands to harm the “ordinary” North Koreans whom such measures purport to help but also effectively announces to the international community that North Korea is closed for business.108 It is hard to avoid the conclusion that subtending the push for “human rights” in North Korea is less concern for the actual people of North Korea than an external desire to open it, in lieu of the North Korean government, for investment.

The neoliberal euphoria of North Korean human rights is most troublingly evident in the degraded place of the human within the vision of post-collapse reconstruction conjured by advocates. The rehabilitated “human” of the North Korean human rights project may have been rescued from a “space of darkness,” extracted from the familiar web of social relations that structured her or his life in North Korea. Once deracinated, however, this subject is precariously situated in the neoliberal economic order.109 Poorly served in such a setting by abstract assurances of universal humanity, the “liberated” subject of North Korean human rights campaigns must navigate a perilous landscape whose operative logic is “possessive individualism, property rights, market economies, and financial deregulation.”110 In this regard, as David Harvey contends, the project of human rights may champion its “concern for the individual” yet it does so at the expense of “any social democratic concern for equality, democracy, and social solidarities.”111 In its “insistence upon the individual as the foundational element in political-economic life,” North Korean human rights offer the dubious freedom of the market as a foil to the unfreedom of the North Korean state.112

As an anticipatory account of North Korea’s “inevitable” absorption by the South, the North Korean defector memoir—a geopolitical genre heavily subsidized by both U.S. and South Korean governments—frames the trajectory from North Korea to South Korea, via China and other third-party countries, as an emancipatory journey from “hell” to “loud, luminous paradise.”113 Central to the redemptive arc of such memoirs is the conversion of the benighted North Korean to “liberal personhood.”114 Yet the resettlement of thousands of North Koreans in South Korea in the wake of North Korea’s devastating 1990s famine—with roughly 26,000 now below the DMZ—has challenged the monopoly that subsidized anticommunist defector accounts have had on representing North Korea.115 Promoted by the U.S. Congress–funded NED as a “second,” implicitly more legitimate “North Korean” culture—and thus as a counter to official North Korean self-representations—defector narratives are structured as progressive narratives of emancipation.116 Yet challenging the developmental narrative arc that would posit North Korea as a space of inhumanity and South Korea as a liberating sanctuary is the inequality, discrimination, and alienation confronting resettled North Koreans, as degraded human capital, in the South. As South Korean activist and scholar Lee Daehoon has pointed out, South Korean prejudice against resettled North Koreans challenges “the myth of ethnic homogeneity” and is, moreover, of a continuum with racism against labor migrants from Southeast and South Asian countries who “represent what the South Korean nation does not want to be: nonwhite, poor, non-Christian, [and] out of place.”117 We might inquire: is market freedom, with its production of historically specific forms of humanity—namely, at-risk subjectivities subordinated to the market as an ostensible “ethic…for all human action”—the vision of liberation particular to the North Korean human rights project?118 “We risked our lives to come here,” states a North Korean defector in the 2011 South Korean independent film The Journals of Musan (Musanilgi), only to be “work[ed] to death, making just five dollars an hour.”119 At the end of Dance Town (2010), another recent South Korean independent film, North Korean defector Ri Jeong-Rim stands on the northern banks of Seoul’s Han River facing southward toward the Gangnam district as she sobs with grief and loneliness. Depicted as having fled to South Korea out of fear of prosecution for having watched smuggled porn, this character makes faltering steps toward assimilation including dating a South Korean police officer who rapes her in an alley. Albeit described in human rights discourse as “heaven,” South Korea in these films, which highlight the anomie of capitalist dystopian spaces, appears as a “parlous refuge” at best.120


Ri Jeong-Rim (Rha Mi-ran) in Dance Town (2010).

Human rights discourse “exhorts us, always, to identify with victims whose suffering it graphically depicts,” yet the typical victim is rarely the detritus of neoliberal capitalism and the empathy of human rights is no substitute for political solidarity across a divided-world system.121 Pointing out that “[a]t no point in human history has there been a greater gap between the North and the South, between the poor and the rich in the developed world,” Douzinas argues that charity, so central to the humanitarian and human rights campaigns of advanced capitalist societies, is “part of a risk-aversion strategy,” an “insurance policy” against restitutory claims from the global South.122 Such campaigns rarely, if ever, address the “simple and undoubted fact” that the states in which they are based are often “the main cause, through colonialism, imperialism and exported neoliberal capitalism, of the huge disparities between the North and the South.”123 Yet risk also inheres in the human rights project. Even as human rights campaigns might “save” select individuals, transporting the war orphan, the dissident, the informant, the trafficked woman, and the refugee to what are in theory safer shores, with their implicit emphasis on “free market individualism,” these initiatives seldom account for, much less strive to mitigate, the perils of neoliberalism that await the uprooted subjects of human rights “rescue.”124

Offering critical reflection on the dominant discursive frame of North Korean human rights as a modality of asymmetrical power, “Reframing North Korean Human Rights,” a two-part thematic issue of Critical Asian Studies, attends to what has hovered as disavowed, marginalized, seemingly obsolete, or epiphenomenal in the shadows of the North Korean human rights project, not the least of which is the right to peace. Furnishing a multifaceted account of North Korean human rights from U.S.–, U.K.–, and South Korea–based scholars, policy analysts, and social justice advocates, this issue illuminates the strictures of North Korean human rights—as an amnestic posture toward imperial violence; a lethal politicized agenda gussied up as a moral mission; a geopolitical language and structure of post–9/11 U.S. unilateralism; and an ideological mode of perception, conversion, subject-formation, and historiography. Working beyond these limitations, a number of the essays in this issue inquire into modes of understanding and engaging North Korea in addition to human rights practices that have been sidelined by the dominant, regime-change–oriented North Korean human rights project.

Christine Hong is an assistant professor of literature at UC Santa Cruz and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute. She is co-editor with Hazel Smith of the Critical Asian Studies double issue on “Reframing North Korean Human Rights” (45:4 (2013) and 46:1 (2014)).

Recommended Citation: Christine Hong, “War by Other Means: The Violence of North Korean Human Rights”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 13, No. 2, March 31, 2014.

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Notes

1 Kirby 2014.

2 Ibid.

3 Zolo 2009, 28.

4 We should be reminded, here, that the United Nations played a vital role in fomenting the Korean War and crystallizing the structure of division that has prevailed on the Korean peninsula since the United Nations “legitimat[ed] an election in the South of Korea in May 1948 which was boycotted by many Koreans and from which all North Koreans and many South Koreans were excluded” and sanctioned U.S. military command in South Korea by permitting it to “wear the hat,” which it still dons today, of the “United Nations Command.” See Hauben 2013.

5 In remarks before an audience of American veterans on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, President Obama declared: “[The Korean] war was no tie. Korea was a victory. When 50 million South Koreans live in freedom—a vibrant democracy, one of the world’s most dynamic economies, in stark contrast to the repression and poverty of the North—that’s a victory; that’s your legacy.” See Obama 2013.

6 An account that “blam[es] the government of the DPRK as the only perpetrator of human rights violations…is a narrow approach” the South Korean NGO People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) cautioned in a public response to the COI report endorsed by numerous South Korean civil society and human rights organizations, and it “raises concerns on politicising public discourses on North Korean human rights.” See People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy statement 2014.

7 Em and Hong, n.d.

8 On the “unique position of the crime of aggression within the Rome Statute,” the NGO, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, writes: “In a compromise reached during the negotiation of the Rome Statute in 1998, Article 5 of the Rome Statute lists the crime of aggression as one of the core crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction. However, in contrast to the other three crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes), the Court remained unable to exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression as the Statute did not define the crime or set out jurisdictional conditions.” See The crime of aggression, n.d.

9 Commission of Inquiry Report 2014, 366, emphasis added.

10 Cumings 2010, 23.

11 Mattei and Nader 143, 2008; Zolo 2009, 31.

12 Ibid., 41.

13 Zolo 2009, 123.

14 Charter of the United Nations 1945.

15 Benjamin 1986, 283.

16 Atanasoski 2013, 27.

17 Zolo 2009, 30.

18 The COI report states: “The authorities of the Republic of Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America provided operational and substantive support for the conduct of the public hearings, including by facilitating the identification and hiring of a venue, assisting in the provision of the services of professional interpreters and providing video-recording and transcripts of the proceedings.” See Commission of Inquiry Report 2014, 10.

19 Becker 2014.

20 Commission of Inquiry Report 2014, 27.

21 Ibid., 368.

22 Kirby 2014; Commission of Inquiry 2014, 372, emphasis added.

23 Korean War Armistice Agreement 1953.

24 Commission of Inquiry Report 2014, 26.

25 Ibid.

26 Hong 2011.

27 Smith 2014, 135.

28 Ibid., 134.

29 It bears remarking the obvious—namely, that a more balanced perspective might have been had not only were North Korea to have agreed to participate in the proceedings but also had the Commission sought out a broader spectrum of views. Commission of Inquiry Report 2014, 15.

30 Ibid., 35.

31 Ibid., 38.

32 Kirby 2014.

33 Hitz 2007, 127.

34 MacIntyre 2006, 406. This rumor about the “gruesome medical testing of chemical and biological weapons…on persons with disabilities” appears as the most extreme allegation of mistreatment of people with disabilities in the COI report. Yet, here, it is worth pointing out the incoherence of the report, which elsewhere notes that, despite the “widespread prejudice against people with disabilities,” North Korea has taken legal measures to ensure their human rights, including passing a domestic law “promising free medical care and special education for persons with disabilities” in 2003 and signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013, as well as establishing the Korean Federation for the Protection of Disabled People in 1998 and sending a North Korean athlete to the 2012 Paralympics. The report further makes nodding mention of North Korea’s construction of “11 special boarding schools for hearing-impaired children and vision-impaired children” as early as 1959, during the period of North Korean reconstruction. See Commission of Inquiry Report 2014, 93, 91, 92.

35 Kang and Rigoulot 2001, 224.

36 People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy 2014.

37 At moments, atypical views on the part of defectors momentarily surface in the transcriptions for the COI hearings, though they do not translate into Commission’s findings; for example, at the same October 30, 2013 hearing in Washington, DC, “Mrs. X,” a North Korean defector living in the United States, inadvertently commented on the limitations of the COI’s reliance on defector testimony: “Well, people can say many different things about North Korea depending on what they saw there. Some people might say, ‘I saw cell phones in North Korea’ or some people [might] say, ‘They seem to be doing okay there’ depending on what they saw…. Even in the United States, there are homeless people but you don’t call the United States the country of the homeless.” Commission of Inquiry Public Hearing 2013, 73.

38 On the “demonization script” toward North Korea, see MacIntyre 2006, 407.

39 Of the “human rights/humanitarian divide” relative to North Korea, Erich Weingartner writes: “For human rights activists, the main problem in North Korea lies with a dictatorial government ruled by the Kim family dynasty, which has imposed its iron will on a disenfranchised population.” Ultimately, for human rights activists, the “human rights deficit is considered to be so extreme in North Korea that the only solution is regime change [which] is unlikely to evolve through internal reform.” See Weingartner 2013.

40 As Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland have pointed out: “Like genocide, food aid requires alacrity; waiting for evidence of starvation means you are already too late.” See Haggard and Noland, The logic and illogic of food aid 2011.

41 Civil Rights Congress 1951, xi.

42 Ibid., 7.

43 The formal name for North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—hereafter, in this introduction, “North Korea.”

44 Civil Rights Congress 1951, 7.

45 Césaire 2000, 73.

46 Cumings 2010, xviii.

47 Civil Rights Congress 1951, 7.

48 In its framing of U.S. involvement in the Korean War as illegal violence against “the people of Asia,” the Civil Rights Congress would not be alone. On the obliterating U.S. air campaign against North Korea, historian Bruce Cumings, among others, has pointed out that the Genocide Convention “was approved in 1948 and entered into force in 1951—just as the USAF [U.S. Air Force] was inflicting genocide, under this definition and under the aegis of the United Nations Command, on the citizens of North Korea.” See Cumings 2010, 161, emphasis added

49 Césaire 2000, 37, 42. In a similar vein, jurist Joseph Hornung states, “International law exists only for the powerful. Up to now they have shown no consideration for the weak. The other peoples, who make up three-quarters of humanity, have no recourse against injustice.” As quoted in Lindqvist 2001, 19.

50 Miéville 2006, 225, emphasis added. As scholars have increasingly noted, colonialism as a historical pattern of destruction is the reference for Raphael Lemkin’s conceptualization of genocide. Lemkin theorized the Holocaust not in exclusive or exceptional terms but as a form of colonialism internal to Europe. As A. Dirk Moses writes, “Genocide for Lemkin…was a special form of foreign conquest, occupation, and often warfare. It was necessarily imperial and colonial in nature.” Yet “cultural genocide”—what Lemkin had in earlier scholarship identified as “vandalism”—was stripped from the final draft of the 1948 Convention in no small part for fear of its utility in prosecuting the brutality of colonialism. See Moses 2010, 26. Highlighting Amnesty International’s disqualification of Nelson Mandela from its “prisoner of conscience” category, Randall Williams offers an illuminating discussion of the fateful cleavage between Amnesty International and decolonization struggles in the 1960s. See Williams 2010, 1–23.

51 Miéville 2006, 271.

52 Williams 2010, xvii. I borrow the term “race radical” from Jodi Melamed’s definition of the term: “race radicalism…refers to points of resistance to official anti-racisms” of the U.S. state, and it “originated in the forceful anticolonial and leftist antiracist movements of the 1930s and 1940s.” See Melamed 2011, xvii, emphasis in original.

53 Williams 2010, xvii.

54 Moyn 2010, 8.

55 Ibid., 157, 86.

56 Williams 2011, 9.

57 Moyn 2010, 107, 98.

58 Melamed 2011, xiv.

59 Brown 2004, 453. Wendy Brown observes that human rights activism might “generally present…itself as something of an antipolitics—a pure defense of the innocent and the powerless against power, a pure defense of the individual against immense and potentially cruel or despotic machineries of culture, state, war, ethnic conflict, tribalism, patriarchy, and other mobilizations or instantiations of collective power against individuals.” See Brown 2004, 453.

 

 

 

63 Armstrong 2003, 3.

64 Prepared statement of Stephen Linton, Chairman of the Eugene Bell foundation, S. Hrg. 2003 (Life), 37. The Eugene Bell Foundation is a humanitarian organization that has worked in rural North Korea since 1995. John Feffer similarly notes that “For several decades, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) prided itself on meeting the food needs of its population, although it has little arable land. Like many socialist countries, North Korea emphasized this success—along with high literacy rates, an equitable health care system, and guaranteed jobs for all—as proof that it upheld human rights, that its record in fact exceeded that of Western countries.” See Feffer 2006, 1.

65 Feffer 2006, 16; Lankov 2013. The response of Greg Scarlatiou, executive director of the U.S. Committee on Human Rights in North Korea, to Andrei Lankov’s article is instructive. Whereas Lankov reads intelligence reports of a decrease in overall prison population in North Korea as a sign of progress, Scarlatiou interprets the same reports as a likely “staggeringly high rate of death in detention.” See Lankov 2013 and Scarlatiou 2013.

66 Encapsulated in the “twenty-first-century doctrine of humanitarian intervention—the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P)—…proposes a new nomos of the Earth that would repudiate past violence (which always appears as something cyclical and uncontained) by endorsing exceptional violence—that of rescue and occupation.” See Meister 2011, ix.

67 Martti Koskenniemi quoted in Miéville 2006, 255. As Gavan McCormack has observed: “Unlike the US, North Korea has not committed aggressive war (at least in the past half century), overthrown any democratically elected government, threatened any neighbor with nuclear weapons, or attempted to justify the practices of torture and assassination.” Though North Korea “plainly runs roughshod over the rights of its citizens,” according to McCormack, the “major, ongoing, and unapologized [for]” crimes of the United States merit at the very least commensurate critical scrutiny. See McCormack 2006.

68 Feffer 2006, 7. As John Feffer has remarked, by subscribing to a narrative of deliberate malice on the part of the North Korean government, “the human rights framework did little to help us understand the sources of the famine” that North Korea experienced in the mid-to-late 1990s. See Feffer 2006, 23.

69 Drawing, in part, on South Korean intelligence reports based on North Korean defector testimony, the mid to late 1980s’ country reports put out by international human rights organizations offered slender, at times openly speculative accounts of the North Korean human rights landscape, with North Korea’s imprisonment of the Spanish-language translator Ali Lameda looming large. These reports notwithstanding, North Korean human rights emerged as an institutionalized transnational force to be reckoned with in the wake of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” speech. See Amnesty International concerns in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 1985, and Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee and Asia Watch 1988.

70 Feffer 2004, 37.

71 Mutua 2002, 1.

72 Smith 2000, 593.

73 Describing the Values Action Team (VAT) as a “cell” of leaders from the religious right that helped to drive the North Korean human rights agenda during the Bush era, Jeff Sharlet, in his portrait of Sam Brownback for Rolling Stone, states: “One victory for the group [VAT] was Brownback’s North Korea Human Rights Act, which establishes a confrontational stance toward the dictatorial regime and shifts funds for humanitarian aid from the United Nations to Christian organizations.” Sean Woo—Brownback’s former general counsel and now the chief of staff of the Helsinki Commission—calls this a process of “privatizing democracy.” See Sharlet 2006, 56.

74 Frum 2003, 236.

75 Brownback 2008, emphasis added. We might note the same logic at play in David Hawk’s assertion during a 2003 Senate hearing on North Korean human rights: “Until such time as onsite verifications are allowed, the refugee testimonies, as are presented in the report, retain their credence and authority.” See S. Hrg. 2003 (Life).

76 Kim 1995, 9.

77 Haggard and Noland 2011, Witness to transformation, 101; Scholte 2009; Moon (Ruth) 2008.

78 Hartman 1997, 5.

79 Conrad 2006, 24, 36.

80 Seoul Train 2004; S. Hrg. 2003 (Hidden). The Economist, commenting on the U.S. prison population, observes: “The land of the Free has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its prisoners. See America’s overcrowded prisons 2013.

81 Hong 2011, emphasis added.

82 Williams 2010, 29.

83 Meister 2011, viii, 24.

84 Ibid.

85 Palat 2004, 13.

86 Ibid., 17.

87 As quoted in Stone 1952, 348.

88 Williams 2010, 66.

89 Harvey 2005, 177.

90 Booth 1961, 347, emphasis in original.

91 Ibid.

92 Booth 1961, 344.

93 Cumings 1990, 772.

94 Repatriation 2003.

95 Williams 2010, 29.

96 Quoted in N Korea calls Rumsfeld “psychopath” 2003.

97 As Lindqvist succinctly contends, “No state of emergency could exist that would give someone the right to destroy entire countries and their inhabitants,” and here he cites the Indian jurist Nagendra Singh: “It would indeed be arrogant for any single nation to argue that to save humanity from bondage it was thought necessary to destroy humanity itself.” See Lindqvist 2001, 144.

98 Hong 2011.

99 Seoul Train 2004. See Chung Byung-ho’s countervailing commentary in the same film.

100 Scholte 2011.

101 Klein 2005. The “reconstruction business” that attends externally engineered regime collapse, according to Ugo Mattei and Laura Nader, “often hir[es] more or less gullible human rights activists” to furnish “a rhetorical argument for more ‘intervention,’ which sometimes is the province of justice-motivated individuals attempting to restore peace, order, and the rule of law.” See Mattei and Nader 2008, 127.

102 Brown 2004, 456

103 Lin 2006, 13.

104 S. 1903 2003.

105 Ibid.

106 H.R. 4011 2004.

107 S. Hrg. 2003 (Life), 1, 3.

108 On the destabilizing intention behind sanctions against North Korea, Ruediger Frank points out that “[f]rom the outset, it is clear that the sender of sanctions deliberately inflicts damage on the innocent, hoping that their pain will translate into resistance against their leaders.” He also observes the deleterious impact sanctions have on foreign investment in North Korea: “As many foreign businesspeople have complained, the sanctions [against North Korea] have damaged their businesses.” Frank also remarks, “North Korea needs hard currency” for the most basic of provisions, including food for the people. See Frank 2006, 15, 30.

109 See Frank 2006, 41.

110 Melamed 2011, xvii.

111 Harvey 2005, 176.

112 Ibid. On the market as a foil for the state, see Puar 2007, 26.

113 Kang and Rigoulot 2001, 199.

114 Atanasoski 2013, 5.

115 As John Feffer writes, “With the increase in the flow of people out of the country, news of what was going on in North Korea was no longer restricted to a handful of defectors vetted by the South Korean government.” See Feffer 2004, 33.

116 As Chong-ae Yu documents in her account of the transnational political interests behind the North Korean Freedom Act of 2003 and the instrumental role of U.S. state funding of these interests, NED not only has supported the “two most active South Korean NGOs involved in North Korean human rights issues, Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights…and the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights,” but also, through its sponsorship of South Korean organizations and individuals on the issue of North Korean human rights abuses, was instrumental in internationalizing the North Korean human rights movement. See Yu 2004.

117 Lee 2012.

118 Harvey 2005, 165.

119 Park 2011.

120 Ibid., 171.

121 Meister 2011, 34.

122 Douzinas 2007, 71, 73.

123 Ibid., 75.

124 Meister 2011, 236.

The war of words between Russia and the United States is soaring these days over the sovereignty of the Crimean peninsula, and the White House officials are constantly directing accusations and excruciating verbal attacks against Kremlin in what seems to be the most serious dispute between Moscow and the West in the recent years.

 The United States has pulled out all the stops to defeat and isolate Russia diplomatically, and has even gone so far as to impose economic sanctions against the Russian individuals and companies, and excluding Russia from the G8 group of the industrialized nations. The 40th G8 summit was slated to be held in Sochi, Russia on June 4-5, but following the suspension of Russia’s membership in the G8, the summit relocated to Brussels, Belgium, and it would be the first time that a G8 leaders’ convention is going to take place in a non-member state country. Some of the Western media outlets have even started to refer to G8 as G7, implying that Russia does not have any position in this influential group of the affluent, developed nations.

But as always, when it comes to flexing the muscles and showing political prowess, the United States and its partners are behaving in an intolerant, duplicitous and hypocritical manner. In a statement, the newly-termed G7 leaders reaffirmed that Russia’s “occupation of the Crimea” was against the principles of the G7 and contravened the United Nations Charter.

It’s interesting that the innumerable violations of the international law, the UN Charter and Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War by the United States in the recent years have never caught the attention of the G8 leaders and never compelled them to at least consider warning the United States to behave more responsibly and respect the internationally recognized conventions and regulations or refraining from destroying and annihilating other nations through its “humanitarian” missions!

If Russia should be punished for sending troops to Crimea, while it’s legally entitled to do so, and if its military intervention in Crimea represents a violation of the UN Charter in the eyes of the Western leaders, then it will be taken for granted that all violations of the international law and the United Nations Charter should be reprimanded and responded appropriately and the wrongdoers should be penalized in a fair manner. If Russia has occupied a sovereign entity – which is of course not the case, and should bear the burden of sanctions and diplomatic isolation, it’s ok, but why shouldn’t the United States be castigated and prosecuted for the same reason? What makes the military intervention of Russia different from the wars the U.S. offhandedly wages across the world?

 For those of us who willfully ignore the historical facts, it’s noteworthy that the Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet signed between Russia and Ukraine on May 28, 1997, permits Russia to lawfully maintain up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems, 132 armored vehicles and 22 military planes on the Crimean peninsula. This agreement will be effective until 2017, and so it can be the most convincing logical justification for Russia’s military action in Crimea.

So, what has happened is not an “occupation” as the U.S. leaders claim, but that Russia has exercised its legal right for sending troops to a geographical area where the majority of inhabitants are ethnic Russians and don’t want to remain under the Ukraine autonomy and are overwhelmingly inclined to join Russia.

 What every neutral and unbiased observer of the international political developments can easily note is that it’s the United States which is renowned for its hegemonic policies and its imperialistic modus operandi, not Russia. Russia’s intervention in Crimea took place after it felt that its national interests are being seriously endangered on its borders, where 58% of the population is consisted of indigenous Russians who prefer to be reunited with Russia, rather than being seen as an asset and prize for the United States under the leadership of a new government in Ukraine which has neo-fascist backgrounds.

The prominent American syndicated columnist and journalist Ted Rall has recently written on his website that there are traces of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk who has just come to power: “There’s no doubt that a Ukrainian nationalist strain runs deep in the new regime. It has been estimated that roughly 1/3 or more of the supporters of the new government come out of xenophobic, anti-Semitic, neo-fascist movements that draw much of their ideological heritage from the Nazi puppet regime that governed Ukraine under German occupation during World War II.”

So, on March 16, the Crimean parliament and the local government of Sevastopol held a public referendum in Crimea to give the citizens two choices for the future of their territory; either to remain associated with Ukraine or reunite with Russia. With a high turnout of 83.1% of the eligible voters, 96.77% of the participants in the plebiscite voted in favor of joining the Russian Federation. The United States and its allies didn’t hesitate to call the referendum as rigged and invalid, as they usually does with the elections in countries with which they are at odds. Washington even drafted a resolution in the United Nations Security Council to call the referendum null and void, but Russia used its veto power, while China abstained, and the United States simply pushed the General Assembly member states to pass a non-binding resolution, declaring the referendum invalid, which doesn’t seem to have any certain impact on the future of Crimea.

 The policy of de-Russanization was long underway in the Crimean peninsula, and many other former Soviet Union republics, as Ted Rall elaborately details. Perhaps the fact that the Ukrainian Parliament Verkhovna Rada voted on February 23 to repeal the 2012 language law that had declared Russian an official language in Ukraine and allowed it to be used in the schools, media and official correspondence, was a driving force for the Crimean people to rise up and call for independence from Ukraine that they believed didn’t respect their cultural and lingual background.

 The future of Crimea and the prospects of the marred relations between Russia and the West remain blurred and unknown, but the United States’ accusations that Russia is “occupying” Crimea and exerting military aggression and so should be punished with economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation sound gravely outrageous and entirely hypocritical. The United States has the biggest war machinery in the world, has been directly or indirectly involved in more than 50 wars and military strikes on other countries without the approval of the UN Security Council, and has incontestably perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As the prominent American lawyer and legal expert Marjorie Cohn has noted in a recent article, the United States is the largest user of unconventional and forbidden chemical weapons in the illegal wars it has waged across the globe. “The U.S. militarily occupied over 75% of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for 60 years, during which time the Navy routinely practiced with, and used, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, napalm and other toxic chemicals and metals such as TNT and mercury. This occurred within a couple of miles of a civilian population that included thousands of U.S. citizens,” wrote Prof. Cohn.

 “The use of any type of chemical weapon by any party would constitute a war crime. Chemical weapons that kill and maim people are illegal and their use violates the laws of war,” she added.

 She also goes on to explain the use of chemical weapons by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria and also underlines that the majority of wars in which the United States has taken part were not ever approved by the Security Council. Aren’t these crimes a contravention of the UN Charter? Why don’t the G7 leaders and European Council and European Commission officials ever react to these violations? Does the United States have the prerogative to attack other countries and maim their people without any legal or moral justification and then get away with its crimes?

The United States is imparting a clear message by adopting this insincere and hypocritical approach toward Russia, which is also a message to other countries: We can invade your countries, we can kill your citizens, we can rule you tyrannically, we can behave in any way we desire, but if you do something which doesn’t please us, we will impose sanctions on you, we will banish you from international organizations, and we will come down on you like a ton of bricks. This is how the American hypocrisy works…

The Russians Aren’t Coming

March 31st, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

It’s back to the future. It’s reminiscent of Cold War fearmongering. It claimed the Russians are coming.

Norman Jewison’s 1966 film titled “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” portrayed a Soviet threat, albeit satirically.

Today, outrageous headlines irresponsibly suggest Russian hordes threaten Ukraine. Truth is polar opposite. It doesn’t matter.

On March 28, Ukraine’s propaganda news service Ukrinform headlined “Russia continues to redeploy troops to Ukrainian border.”

It quoted Kiev’s Military and Political Studies Center head Dmytro Tymchuk saying:

“According to live data of the Information Resistance group, redeployment of Russian troops to the border of Russia with Ukraine has continued over the past day.”

In Rostov region, he claimed columns of technology were “fixed.” They’re “heading to the state border.”

Included are 150 armored personnel carriers and 400 units of motor vehicles near the town of Millerovo, Tarasovsky settlement and the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, he said.

Overnight at Rostov-Tovarny’s railway station, he claimed “eight MLRS (multiple rocket launchers) Uragan arrived (on) 12 freight cars.”

So did “four BTR-80, about a dozen units of automotive vehicles (including fuel trucks),” he added.

“In Belgorod region…the column of vehicles was fixed, moving in the direction of the state border (30-40 km from the border): about 30 units of automotive vehicles, about 10 units of tracked engineering equipment.”

BBC aired fake footage alleging Russian tanks heading for Ukraine’s border.

CNN hyped the bogus threat headlining ” ‘The hordes are coming:’ Ukrainians fear Russian invasion in northeast.”

CBS News headlined ”Putin reaches out to Obama as Russian troops continue to mass on Ukraine border.”

USA Today headlined ”Ukrainians fear Russian invasion near.”

Foreign Policy (FP) magazine is a neocon Washington Post publication.

It headlined “The Russians Are Coming – 10 very good reasons not to believe Vladimir Putin when he says he’s totally not going to invade eastern Ukraine.”

Ten lies followed straightaway claiming:

(1) Up to 50,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border; other putschist reports claimed 100,000;

(2) “Putin enjoys embarrassing the United States…;”

(3) “The IMF bailout;” FP portrayed grand theft loan-sharking as responsible lending;

(4) Legitimate Crimean reunification is illegal;

(5) What will Western nations do about threatened Russian invasion;

(6) Russian comments are anti-Western;

(7) “Russia’s military and arms trade relies on Ukraine;”

(8) “The Kremlin lies shamefully and farcically;”

Daily malicious media Big Lies are ignored.

(9) Russian “Kombinatsiya” (disinformation) “is very much in evidence now;” and

(10) “Modernizatsiya (modernization)” plans “the largest and most ambitious re-armament and modernization program” of Russia’s military since the Soviet Union’s dissolution.

Doing so wrongfully suggests a threat. Russian military spending is minuscule compared to America’s bloated defense budget.

Washington Post neocons headlined ”Donetsk fearful of Russian military might on Ukraine’s border.” They ludicrously claimed residents keep their cars “gassed up in case their families need to flee advancing tanks.”

Murdoch’s The Sunday Times headlined ”The Russians are coming. We’re ready. As Moscow’s forces mass on the eastern border, volunteers are flocking to bolster Ukraine’s poorly equipped national guard.”

FP’s article hyped a nonexistent planned Russian Ukrainian invasion. Other Western mainstream media echo the same Big Lie.

It repeats with disturbing regularity. It does so despite no evidence whatever suggesting it.

Russian expert Dmitry Vostok said “(b)efore casting aspersions upon Russia, (Western leaders) should (consider) their own interventions.”

Their collective memories are short. They ignore or mischaracterize numerous imperial interventions. They blame victims for their crimes.

They claim holier than thou reasons for lawless aggression. They threaten more. They justify the unjustifiable.

They defend the indefensible. They claim ravaging and destroying one nation after another to save them is OK.

They lack moral authority. Their agenda is world domination. They threaten world peace. They risk humanity’s survival.

They turn truth on its head. Big Lies repeat. Mainstream media echo them. They call self-defense terrorism. They call Putin’s all-out conflict resolution initiatives aggression.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is a consummate diplomat. He does his nation proud.

He endures plenty dealing with Western leaders. He outshines them all. He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. Recipients include a rogue’s gallery of war criminals. Obama is Exhibit A.

Lavrov was clear and unequivocal. He said Moscow has no intention of invading Ukraine. Claims otherwise are spurious.

“We have absolutely no intention of and interest in crossing Ukraine’s borders,” he stressed.

“The only thing we really want is that the work should be collective and the lawlessness that some Western countries are trying to sweep under the rug and paint the situation in bright colors should be stopped, so that they realize their responsibility.”

Russia “had no other choice than to accept Crimea,” he added. “We didn’t bother reflecting about what the reaction would be.”

“We had no other choice. The choice we eventually made came from our history, international law, Russian statehood and our responsibility for the lives of those ethnic Russians who found themselves stranded abroad in a single day.”

Reunification is entirely legal. International law principles affirm everyone’s right to self-determination. Crimeans overwhelmingly chose to join Russia.

Moscow was obligated to oblige. Western nations plotted for years to split Ukraine from Russia, said Lavrov.

“It feels as though our Western colleagues…have long been working to ‘tear’ Ukraine away from Russia.”

“Once they realized they had been wrong and it had been a mistake to act in violation of all post-Soviet agreements, they couldn’t own up to it.”

“A false idea of pride stood in their way. And all the sanctions we are seeing now are a knee-jerk reflex that makes them want to find a reasonable way to remedy their hurt feelings.”

The same “you are either with us or against us” notion” exists. “We have long since given that up but unfortunately this kind of mentality is still there in the minds of politicians who today define the West’s stance,” Lavrov added.

He criticized Western nations for bullying 50 countries to vote against Crimean reunification legitimacy.

Threats were made. Nation were told they’d “face consequences.” Moscow’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said:

“Many (nations) complained that they were experiencing enormous pressure from Western powers to make them vote” against reunification legitimacy.

“(T)he pressure produced a certain effect. Some countries voted (the wrong way) grudgingly, shall I say, and complained to us about the strong pressure they had experienced.”

Washington and rogue Western partners ousted legitimate Ukrainian governance. They elevated a rogue’s gallery of societal misfits to power.

They’re miscreants. They’re dangerous. They’re fascist extremists. They’re illegitimate. They represent mob rule.

On March 30, RT International headlined ”Ukrainian nationalists attack anti-coup motor rally with hammers and bats,” saying:

Southeastern Ukrainians “are facing increasingly violent intimidation.” Western media suppress what’s happening. Putschists are portrayed as democrats.

Euromaidan thugs attacked cars displaying Russian, regional and Ukrainian flags. They came from Melitopol. They headed for a Zaporozhye anti-government rally last week.

Eye witness Artyom Tymchenko told RT:

“When the motor rally was about to enter Zaporozhye, it became clear that an ambush was being organized by the Maidan criminals.”

“Near the railway station the column was stopped by the Maidan bandits, who started beating people, taking their property, smashing cars.”

Motorists said Right Sector thugs attacked them.

“The police, who are supposed to sort out the situation, are not going about their job with any enthusiasm, and although the attackers didn’t hide their faces, no one has been arrested so far.”

“Which simply leads to the conclusion that they acted under the protection of the criminals currently in power.”

Vladimir Balagura heads an anti-putschist initiative called “Our Town.”

“It is very scary to witness when people are running at you with weapons, shovels, and batons, with chains, metal rods,” he said.

RT said Dnepropetrovsk residents are threatened. “Ukrainian vigilantes” are targeting people they call “pro-Russian thugs.”

Right Sector neo-Nazis established their own political party. Their January 2014 manifesto states:

“(A)ll those those who at this point would try to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the most severe way.”

“Death to the regime of internal occupation! Freedom or death! Glory to Ukraine!”

On May 25, sham presidential elections are scheduled. A previous article said aspirants look more like a police lineup.

Democracy is strictly verboten. Various candidates registered to participate. Others submitted bids. It’s unclear how many will stay in the race.

Former heavyweight boxing champion turned politician Vitaly Klitschko dropped out. He’ll participate in Kiev’s mayoral race instead.

A mid-March poll showed billionaire chocolate magnate Pyotr Poroshenko had 36.2% support. He hasn’t officially registered to participate. He’s expected to do so.

Klitschko had 12.9% support. He endorsed Poroshenko’s candidacy. Convicted/imprisoned/now illegally freed mega-crook Yulia Tymoshenko’s approval was 12%.

Ousted Party of Regions’ Sergey Tigipko scored 10%. Other candidates have single-digit support or practically none at all.

In early March, Right Sector neo-Nazi leader Dmytro Yarosh announced his candidacy. Russia’s Investigative Committee (IC) said he’s wanted for involvement in killing Russian soldiers in Chechnya.

If apprehended, he’ll be prosecuted. IC representative Vladimir Markin said there’s enough evidence against him to put him on a “wanted list.”

He openly boasts about “…fighting Jews and Russians till I die.”

He calls Russia Ukraine’s “eternal enemy.” He said war between both countries is inevitable.

He openly supports Chechen militants. He backed Georgia’s 2008 aggression against South Ossetia.

Yarosh and likeminded Right Sector extremists are the worst of a bad lot of rogues running Ukraine.

They’re gun-toting, radicalized terrorists. Imagine them and likeminded extremists holding influential portfolios in Ukraine’s government.

They’re cold-blooded killers. They believe in barrel-of-a-gun rule. State terrorism defines their agenda. Anyone opposing them is targeted for elimination.

Yarosh has delusions of grandeur. He enjoys too little support to become president. Unless he intends seizing it by force. His extremism suggests anything is possible.

He and other Right Sector leaders have thousands of supporters. They’re militants. They’re capable of anything. They threaten everyone opposing their agenda.

Their extremism risks civil war. So do Svoboda neo-Nazis. Their leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a presidential aspirant. It remains to be seen what follows May elections.

On Sunday, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov met in Paris. Crisis conditions in Ukraine was discussed. Nothing was resolved. Washington remains hardline. Ahead of talks Lavrov said:

“We have no common plan yet. We view the situation differently. Right now we are exchanging views, but we cannot say that we have found a single approach to the problem.”

“To find a solution that would suit both of us we need regular consultations.”

On March 30, Itar Tass headlined “An Action in support of bank Rossiya to take place in Moscow.”

Russia’s national currency will replace dollar transactions. Putin wants an independent payment system. Itar Tass quoted action organizers saying:

“Russia, at its present stage of development, should not be dependent on foreign currencies; its internal resources will make its own economy invulnerable to political wheeler dealers.”

“In order to protect the bank’s customers from dishonest actions by foreign financial institutions AB Rossiya has decided to operate only in the domestic market and exclusively with the national currency of the Russian Federation – the rouble.”

“The bank has already notified some U.S. banks that it is closing its correspondence accounts. Similar notifications have been sent to other foreign financial institutions.”

VTB bank president Andrei Kostin said Rossiya’s decision to delink from foreign currencies is a step forward to work exclusively with the ruble.

“We have been moving towards wider use of the Russian rouble as the currency of settlement for a long time. The rouble became fully convertible quite a long time ago,” he added.

Kostin urges Russian products sold abroad and foreign good bought transacted solely in rubles.

“Only then are we going to use (its) advantages of…being a foreign currency in full measure,” he added.

Sanctions cut both ways. Moscow signaled earlier about responding to Western measures.

It remains to be seen what follows. East/West tensions remain heightened. Washington bears full responsibility.

Targeting Russia is longstanding US policy. Doing so risks belligerence replacing diplomacy.

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

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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

American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Illinois statement of support for Iymen Chehade, a professor at Chicago’s Columbia College, marks the latest, and most significant, step forward in the fight against pervasive attempts to control discourse on Occupied Palestine, via stifling academic freedom on college and university campuses.

Chehade, employed by Columbia since 2007, has taught three different courses on the Middle East, but by far most popular has been his Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a course he designed in 2010.

“The class is popular on campus. Students hear about it from other students and try consistently enroll in it,” says Chehade. “Its one of those history classes that is not history, it’s actually present, its also future. As we are speaking, history is being made.”

Considerable student demand for the course led to Chehade’s teaching three sections of it at one point. As of fall 2013, Columbia offered Chehade two sections to his Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

As part of his course content in fall 2013, Chehade showed his students the award-winning documentary 5 Broken Cameras.

“The film itself is about the occupation of the village of Bil’in, the occupation of Palestine. My objective in showing the film was to humanize the issue,” says Chehade. “Student reaction was very positive.”

In spite of student demand for the course and student interest in the documentary, not long after showing it in his class, one of Chehade’s two spring 2014 sections was canceled.

“I received an email from the Chair’s office saying that they wanted to speak to me about an issue. Before going his office, I checked my mailbox and saw I’d been assigned two sections of the course for spring 2014.”

At Chair Steven Corey’s office, Chehade was told a student had complained of “bias” in his class. The student’s identity was not revealed, nor was Chehade able to discuss the allegation with the student. Corey instructed Chehade to be “more balanced” in his class, and asked him to produce his teaching qualifications, a request Chehade says is not in itself unusual. “But in the context of the situation, that makes it alarming.”

The week following the meeting with Corey, Chehade’s two sections were posted for Columbia’s spring 2014 offerings. Yet, within a couple of hours, one section of the course was eliminated, in violation of his contract with Columbia.

Chehade took the matter to the union, who brought the cancellation up with administration. “So they gave me another class,” says Chehade. “The class was The Middle East Up To Mohammad, which is 1400 years ago, 1300 hundred years removed from when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began.”

According to Academic Vice President and Provost Louise Love, the college supported Chehade’s showing of the film, which she lauded as “widely acclaimed” and noted provided “an important perspective.” However, in her statement, she went on to note that the elimination of sections “reflect a multitude of factors such as overall student enrollment, targets for average class size.”

“If their objective was to reduce classes, and increase class sizes, why did they give me a different class?” asks Chehade. “Whether they like the film or not is not the issue. Eliminating the opportunity for a professor to teach his perspective is the issue here. That’s exactly what they did.”

Since the sudden cancellation of his section, support has grown rapidly for the professor and for the larger issue of academic freedom. Chehade and the AAUP Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure maintain that the cancellation was an act of academic stifling.

“We have over 6000 signatures on our petition for academic freedom,” says Chehade. Signatories include supporters from around the world, as well as Columbia faculty, current and former students, and academics nation-wide. “Many people have volunteered their time on this campaign. Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace at Columbia College have been very active in bringing this issue to light.”

Regarding the cancellation, one former student, Alex Quiroz, notes: “I took this class knowing absolutely nothing about the conflict. Professor Chehade explained everything in a balanced and honest way. It would not be fair to other students who want to take this class.”

Noting the impact of pro-Israeli lobby efforts on college and university campuses nation-wide, Jewish-American Peter Cohen, signs “I find it unacceptable that a small, extremist and highly moneyed lobby that claims to represent my interests be allowed stifle legitimate voices and opinions in academia.”

Love, herself, has been at the heart of prior incidents repressing academics. Notably, in 2006, as the associate provost at Roosevelt university, Love supported Susan Weininger (then Chair of the Department of History, Art History, and Philosophy) in her firing of World Religions professor Douglas Giles.

“Weininger was upset with him over for allowing his students to have this open forum,” says Chedhade, noting that  it has been publically documented thatWeininger said to Giles, “What disturbs me is that you act like Palestinians have a side in this. They don’t have a side…they are animals…they are not civilized.”

Love in turn defended Weininger as “passionately defending” her position, Chehade notes.

“Imagine if she said that about an African-American or if she said that about a Jew? She would be fired. She should not be let within 1000 feet of an academic institution. Racism is racism. What type of message us Columbia College sending when you have this supporter of racism as one of the main heads of this institution?”

For Chehade, a Palestinian-American, Weininger’s comment and Love’s defense of her position is extremely insulting.

“I was sitting in front of this woman who I was grieving my issue to, knowing that she supported someone who said this about Palestinians. Columbia College should not have hired her. ”

In its letter to Louise Love, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Illinois first cites the Columbia College Collective Bargaining Agreement, which includes prohibiting “explicit or implicit threat of termination or discipline for the purpose of constraining a faculty member in the exercise of his or her rights under such principles of Academic Freedom. [CBA art. V (1), (2).”

Highlighting the standard norm of dealing with student complaints, the AAUP statement notes that the alleged complaint against Chehade “trespassed on the academic freedom of a professor and should have been referred back to the instructor for resolution.” Critically, the statement notes that “neither Dr. Steven Corey, the chairperson of the Department of Humanities, History and  Social Science nor School of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Deborah Holdstein directed the student to take the complaint to the instructor,” calling their actions “a violation of widely accepted norms of academic due process.”

According to the AAUP, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is “not easy pedagogy because of the passions it arouses among disparate groups in the United States….It is beyond dispute that the film 5 Broken Cameras was directly related to the course topic.”

In response to Chair Corey’s admonition to Chehade that he be “balanced,” and Provost Love’s questioning Chehade whether he presented his material in a “balanced” manner, the AAUP notes that the issue of “balance is “frequently used to reign in a professor from critical thinking…towards a consensus approach that is more acceptable to elite or mainstream opinion.”

Similarly, for Chehade, the term “balance” is a loaded term. “When it is applied to the academic context, and specifically to the context of teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is extremely problematic. This is an issue that lacks balance. It’s an asymmetrical issue: there are a people that are occupied,millions who have no civil rights.  As a professor in a college, how do you present that as “balanced”? It would be like presenting the African-American struggle for liberation from the Jim Crow laws in the South as a“balanced” issue, where you have African Americans who are trying to gain rights, and you have white, southern oppressors who have institutionalized and systemized laws that violate their rights. How do you present that as “balanced”?  If somebody asked that from an African American professor, who presents the African-American struggle for liberation, it would be ludicrous.”

In the detailed account of the cancellation of one of Chehade’s sections, the AAUP Illinois finishes its statement by noting that the six days between Chehade’s meeting with Corey, and the subsequent removal of the second section are “linked events.”  Notably, the AAUP reiterates “we conclude that Professor Chehade’s academic freedom was violated as a result.”

In line with Chehade’s own expectations, the AAUP asks that Columbia College reinstate both sections of Chehade’s popular Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in fall 2014. They also emphasize the need for a “strategic reassessment” of Columbia’s policy of handling student complaints, noting that at present the system for doing so is “clearly broken and conducive to academic freedom violations.”

Chehade, who wants to ensure that other professors who speak about Palestine in a fact-based manner are not stifled, applauds the AAUP statement.

“I would like to thank the AAUP for their conclusion. Discussing the Occupation of Palestine is not an exception to the rule of Academic Freedom at Columbia College or any college campus in the United States.”

On the 11th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (launched in March 2003), it is important to emphasize the true motives for this attack and occupation and its horrendously destructive impact that continues today. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars stem from the needs of U.S. and Western capitalism for resources and markets.

 Capitalism has inflicted war on most of humanity for centuries to acquire the world’s resources and markets. The establishment of capitalism as a global economic system by European imperialists has killed more than a billion people, most of them in the Global South. 

Since 1945, the United States has presided over the killing of more than 46 million people in the Global South through wars and neocolonialism in order to maintain Western economic dominance. This strategy has failed. In spite of the genocide, the U.S. has declined as an economic power, which has only made it more war-like as it tries to substitute military force for economic prowess  Washington’s European partner countries are now following its descent into economic stagnation.

The U.S.-led coalition has been unable to compete economically with China and India, the rapidly rising Asian capitalist powers, which are acquiring more and more global resources and markets. The Iraq and Afghanistan invasions are wars of Western capitalist and imperial decline. The Western capitalist answer to the Asian challenge has been to launch these two wars, both of which have been aimed at the forcible acquisition of crucial oil and gas deposits, markets, and military bases, in an attempt to impose Western domination on China and India. Similar motives are behind the direct and proxy Western attacks on Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. This attempt at domination has clearly failed, as China and India continue to become increasingly powerful.   

 The major reason for the U.S. invasion in March 2003 was to get control of Iraq’s oil. A related factor was the intention of the ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to sell Iraq’s oil in Euros rather than U.S. dollars, which would have encouraged other oil producers to do the same, thereby endangering the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency, which is crucial to the U.S.’s economic viability. The genocidal invasion and preceding sanctions killed three million Iraqis, including half a million children, and totally destroyed a relatively advanced developing country whose people were largely prosperous. 

Close to five million Iraqis were displaced by the invasion out of a population of 31 million, and five million Iraqi children became orphans. Women suffered the greatest losses in education, professions, child care, nutrition, and safety. More than one-fourth of Iraq’s population died, became disabled, or fled the country as refugees.

  Yanar Mohammed is president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, headquartered in Baghdad, which is aimed at protecting and empowering Iraqi women to resist the capitalist élite created by the U.S. invasion. According to her, “The U.S. military’s intent was to kill at least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and that mission was accomplished. Millions of Iraqi men, women, children, and babies were killed, and 30 million people were terrorized. 

“I feel that somebody needs to be held accountable for making us lose our welfare, accountable for the millions of Iraqis who have been killed, and also for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost to illnesses and by the radiation from depleted uranium.  George W. Bush needs to go to court as a war criminal, along with all the American presidents who have served during the war on Iraq because what has happened to us in Iraq is no less than a holocaust.”

Successful Iraqi resistance compelled the U.S. to withdraw most of its forces from the country in 2011, exposing the military failure of the invasion. However, the U.S. still has not withdrawn all its forces from Iraq. Washington claims that the Iraq war has ended, but this is untrue. The insurgency in Iraq continues, with an average of 95 people being killed every week. A major bombing or shooting happens there about twice a week. Nine thousand U.S. mercenaries and hundreds of U.S. troops remain in Iraq, which also has the largest American embassy in the world staffed with 11,000 personnel. So, militarily, the U.S. is still highly involved in Iraq, training its repressive security forces and still not ruling out the re-deployment of more American troops there.

  Washington has also waged an economic war against Iraq by creating a capitalist élite to rule the country, represented by the puppet government it has installed which is led by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Maliki is a corrupt and brutal dictator and head of an Islamic fundamentalist party. Under U.S. dictates, much of the Iraqi economy has been privatized, which ensures that Iraqis do not benefit from their resources, especially oil, money from which now goes to U.S. and other Western multinational corporations and to the Maliki regime. 

According to Yanar Mohammed, “It is an economic war directed against millions of people in the working class, through the economies of impoverishment and of starving the people, giving them salaries that are not enough to put proper meals on the table. The U.S. has written the laws and has created the Iraqi capitalist ruling class to be their partners. 

 “This ruling class safeguards U.S. interests and makes sure that the Iraqi people will not get any of their oil. The profits go into the pockets of the Iraqi officials and British Petroleum and Halliburton, and other companies.”  

Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. This highly valuable resource has been handed over mainly to the U.S. companies ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum, to British Petroleum from England, and to Royal Dutch Shell from Holland and England. Iraq’s oil has not yet been formally privatized due to massive public opposition, but a de facto privatization has taken place.

Says oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz, “ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell were among the oil companies that played the most aggressive roles in lobbying their governments to ensure that the invasion would result in an Iraq open to foreign oil companies.  They succeeded. They are all back in [Iraq].” Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil and The Bush Agenda, adds that U.S. and other Western oil companies have landed “production contracts for some of the world’s largest remaining oil fields under some of the world’s most lucrative terms.”

 Iraq’s Oil Law, which enforces formal privatization, has not been passed by its Parliament due to massive public opposition, so instead the government has signed contracts with companies that benefit the latter immensely at a huge loss to the country.  Explains Juhasz, “The contracts are enacting a form of privatization without public discourse and essentially at the butt of a gun. These contracts have all been awarded during a foreign military occupation, with the largest contracts going to companies from the foreign occupiers’ countries.

 “It seems that democracy and equity are the two largest losers in this oil battle… The majority of Iraqis want their oil and its operations to remain in Iraqi hands. It has required a massive foreign military invasion and occupation to give the foreign oil companies the access they have achieved so far.” However, as Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, puts it: “In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W. Bush’s [military] triumph in 2003.”

According to Muttitt, the economic gains secured by the invasion for Western oil companies are not likely to last, either.  As he points out, “In 2009, the Maliki government… began awarding contracts without an oil law in place. As a result, the victory of Big Oil is likely to be a temporary one. The present contracts are illegal, and so they will last only as long as there’s a government in Baghdad that supports them.”

 Muttitt emphasizes the shaky nature of the Maliki government which, according to him, “has little control over anything.”  Under Maliki, Iraq has been ripped apart by a civil war involving both sectarian violence and nationalist resistance. In recent months, insurgents have taken control of sections of Fallujah and Ramadi, two major Iraqi cities. 

As Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and Coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, explains:

The U.S.-backed Iraqi regime is dominated by sectarian Shia Muslim parties which have discriminated against the Sunni Muslim minority [about 60% of Iraqis are Shias and 40% are Sunnis — the two major sects of Islam]. The combination of government repression and armed insurgency resulted in the deaths of nearly 8,000 civilians last year alone.

“Until the U.S. invasion, Iraq had maintained a long-standing history of secularism and a strong national identity among its Arab population, despite sectarian differences.” Sectarianism has been deliberately fostered by the U.S. in Iraq as part of its divide-and-rule strategy through which it has attempted to dominate the country.

Zunes adds that, before the U.S. invasion, even some of the war’s “intellectual architects” acknowledged that it would unleash major sectarianism: “In a December 1996 paper, prior to becoming major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be ‘ripped apart’ by sectarianism and other cleavages, but called on the United States to ‘expedite’ such a collapse anyway.”

Zunes makes clear that the Iraqi resistance to the Maliki government is largely nationalist-inspired and not sectarian: “Sunni opposition to Shia dominance does not stem from resentment at losing a privileged position in Iraqi political life under Saddam. Indeed, Saddam suppressed his fellow Sunni Arabs along with Shia Arabs. However, most of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, regardless of its feelings about Saddam’s regime, has long identified with Arab nationalism. Most of the armed resistance that emerged following Saddam’s removal by U.S. forces largely came from the Sunni Arab community. The insurgency has also targeted the Shia-dominated Iraqi government, which came to power as a result of the U.S. invasion and which many see as being puppets of the U.S.”

Before the invasion, Iraq’s oil had been nationalized for 40 years, and with it Iraq had created a welfare state for its people, providing them with free education, medical care, subsidies, and a relatively high standard of living. All these crucial gains have now been wiped out. Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq hanged by the U.S., was a brutal dictator, but he ensured that Iraq’s oil benefited its people. Maliki is a dictator, too, brought to power by the U.S, invasion, but he doesn’t provide any economic benefits to the Iraqi people and instead is involved in looting the country’s oil wealth along with multinational corporations.

As Yanar Mohammed puts it, “Under Saddam, there was a state that was taking care of the education of the people, of the health of the people, and there was a socialist economy in which the people had some ability to enjoy a prosperous life — and at this point all of that is being lost. We are learning what free enterprise is. All we see is poverty, and the government has enacted laws which prevent the organizing of workers and of unions so as to claim their rights.”

The U.S. has long considered Middle Eastern oil a vital economic and military interest, especially since it imports more than half its oil requirements. State-owned oil companies control 90% of the world’s oil reserves, while corporate oil companies control only 4%. With these reserves declining and being subject to competition from the large energy consumers China and India, an economically weakening U.S. has to turn increasingly to military options to ensure its access to oil. 

The oil factor is not just about access, but also about controlling other countries, economically and militarily.As Professor Michael T. Klare, author of Resource Wars, explains, one of the main objectives of the Bush administration in invading Iraq stems from the analysis made by Vice-President Dick Cheney in 1990, when he made clear that “Whoever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a stranglehold not only on our economy. but also on that of most of the other nations of the world.” 

So, by being the major imperialist country in the Middle East, the U.S. can attempt to maintain a stranglehold over the economies of other nations. Klare adds that control over Persian Gulf oil is also consistent with the Bush administration’s declared goal of attaining permanent military superiority over all other nations.

Bush administration officials and U.S. military leaders have admitted that the invasion of Iraq was done to take the country’s oil. These men include Paul Wolfowitz, the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary; General John Abizaid, head of the Pentagon’s Central Command which is focused on the Middle East; Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve; and Paul O’Neill, Bush’s first Treasury Secretary.  

The decision to invade Iraq was made only one month after Bush took office in February 2001, according to Ron Suskind, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the author of a book on Paul O’Neill. O’Neill revealed that, just days after Bush’s inauguration in January 2001, his advisors planned how to invade Iraq and divide up its oil wealth. According to O’Neill, Bush’s first National Security Council meeting included a discussion of invading Iraq, and Bush wanted to find a way to do this. There was even a map for Iraq’s post-war occupation, showing how the country’s oil fields would be carved up. 

U.S. and other Western oil companies had been shut out of Iraq before the invasion. In 2001, oil company executives encouraged the Bush administration to invade Iraq by warning it in a report that, as long as Saddam Hussein was in power, the U.S. would remain “a prisoner of its energy dilemma… suffering on a recurring basis from the negative consequences of sporadic energy shortages. These consequences can include recession, social dislocation of the poorest Americans, and, at the extremes, a need for military intervention.”

The report called Iraq a destabilizing influence to the flow of oil to international markets. The document was compiled by David O’Reilly, chief executive of ChevronTexaco, Luis Giusti, a director of Shell Corporation, and John Manzoni, regional president of British Petroleum.

Also benefiting from the Iraq War have been the corporations Lockheed Martin (military) and Bechtel (construction). As John Gibson, co-founder of Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) and a Lockheed Martin executive, said in 2003: “We hope Iraq will be the first domino, and that Libya and Iran will follow. We don’t like being kept out of markets because it gives our competitors an unfair advantage.” CLI was founded in 2002, also by Robert Jackson, another Lockheed Martin executive who wrote the Republican Party foreign policy platform in 2000 when George W. Bush was fraudulently “elected” President.

Jackson formed the CLI while at Lockheed, and advocated aggressively for Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. The chairman of CLI was George Schultz, former U.S. Secretary of State and a Bechtel executive. In a 2002 Washington Post article, Schultz urged the U.S. to “act now. The danger is immediate. Saddam must be removed.” The article called for an immediate attack on Iraq, stating that, “If there is a rattlesnake in the yard, you don’t wait for it to strike before you take action in self-defense.”  After the invasion, Lockheed Martin got more than an $11 billion increase in sales and contracts worth $5.6 million with the U.S. Air Force in Iraq. Bechtel was given about $3 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts.

 The website Business Pundit identifies “The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers” as being (in this order):

Halliburton (military/oil—Dick Cheney was its Chairman),

Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp (military/finance),

Washington Group International (military/oil),

Environmental Chemical (military), Aegis (military),

International American Products (electricity),

Erinys (oil/military), Fluor (water/sewage),

Perini (environmental cleanup), URS (military/environmental),

Parsons (military/construction),

First Kuwaiti General (construction),

Armor Holdings (military),

L3 Communications (military),

AM General (military),

HSBC Bank (third largest financial institution globally),

Cummins (electricity),

MerchantBridge (financial),

GlobalRisk Strategies (financial/military),

ControlRisks (military), CACI (military),

Bechtel, Custer Battles (military),

Nour USA (oil), and

General Dynamics (military).

 While these companies have collectively made billions of dollars out of the Iraq War, the country’s people have yet to obtain basic electricity and water services 11 years after the invasion. Just one of these corporations illustrates the incredible incompetence and corruption which characterized the U.S. occupation and its aftermath: “Parsons reportedly mismanaged the construction of a police academy so poorly that human waste dripped from its ceilings. Far from being an isolated incident, reports from [U.S.] federal government auditors revealed lackluster work on 13 of the 14 Iraq projects [of] Parsons. That hasn’t stopped the firm from making off with $540 million in U.S. government funds for the poorly executed reconstruction projects at Iraq’s health care centres and fire stations.

“This is the lens through which Iraqis will now see America,” remarked U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat-California). “Incompetence. Profiteering. Arrogance. And human waste oozing out of ceilings as a result.”

Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor’s international affairs correspondent and has written extensively on U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. His latest radio documentary is “Capitalism is the Crisis” which has been aired on 42 radio stations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe reaching an audience of 33 million people. For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.

America, NATO and the Sino-Russian Backlash

March 30th, 2014 by Felicity Arbuthnot

“One of the delightful things about America is that they have absolutely no historical memory.” (Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, 1898-1976.)

More verbiage, Russia has taken a “dark path”; Vice President Joe Biden said in Poland last week that those who rely on “aggression and fear” are bound to fail. Indeed, think Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran, the gradual current slinking from Afghanistan after approaching a thirteen year reign of terror; creeping from Iraq in the dead of night after eight years of murder, decimation, torture and infanticide, followed by enjoining the destruction of Libya and, as Iraq, murder of the country’s leader.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said obediently that Russia was: “in flagrant breach of international law (sending) a chilling message across the continent of Europe.”

Quite how a “flagrant breach …” is a nearly 97% Crimean vote to cede to Russia in a referendum, against an arguably illegitimate government in Ukraine deciding to pretty well cede to Europe, with no referendum, in a deal which will cost every household in Ukraine, in living standards and disposable income – the majority already woefully stretched – in crippling IMF stringency measures on a loan now believed to be eventually $27 Billion, is hard to fathom.

Meanwhile, President Obama arrived in Europe on the fifteenth anniversary of the onslaught on former Yugoslavia for a G7 meeting and Nuclear Security Summit, to scuttle, with John Kerry, from The Hague, to Brussels, Rome, to Riyadh, to curb “Russian aggression” as “new NATO training and exercises (are to) take place in Poland … the U.S. …  has sent some 300 air troops and a dozen F-16 fighters to Poland for joint training in a show of military support (and) the U.S. is considering rotating American forces to the Baltic region to conduct ground and naval exercises …” (News, websites.)

Yet Russia is the “aggressor”, having stated and restated that the nation has no intention to move further in to Ukraine, and whose troops in Crimea are still well below the contingency allowed in a mutual, legal agreement, whilst the US crosses the Atlantic to rattle sabers (and F-16s.)

President Obama also had a private meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, reportedly to attempt to enlist him in the “clear message” brigade.

President Xi was perhaps remembering the “clear message” of the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade (15th May 1999) when it was hit by five JDAM bombs, directed by the CIA. China had been against the attack on Yugoslavia and its diplomatic mission had determinedly stayed, unlike the US and UK, whose diplomats unfailingly flee ahead of bombs – near invariably theirs.

The attack caused outrage in China:

“Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Beijing surrounded the US Embassy, hurled rocks through its windows, threw paint bombs, and set fire to it, apparently without any attempt on the part of the Chinese authorities to stop them.”

The Embassy bombing resulted in China’s former President, Jiang Zemin, meeting Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin to agree: “a stronger strategic alliance between the two countries to counter United States dominance in world affairs.”(1) Perhaps White House staff have forgotten, or do not brief too well on modern history – has President Obama read any?

Moreover, in seeking the support of President Xi, Obama had another stumbling block: the National Security Agency’s espionage tactics. The meeting took place: “just days after news broke that the U.S. spy agency had tapped into Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei’s computer system”(2) and as Michelle Obama, was visiting China and lecturing her host country on transparency and openness in cyberspace.

As President Obama arm twisted and threatened – sorry, mobilized: “ all our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international correlation that sends a clear message” – on his route to a major confrontation with Russia, prepared, if necessary for a “show of strength”, and as many a murderous President before him, to fight to the last drop of blood of the sons and daughters of others, he laughably arrived (at a cost of ten million Euros to Belgium for his twenty four hour stay) with: “a nine hundred strong entourage, including forty five vehicles and three cargo ‘planes.”(3)

Additionally, Belgium mobilized: “ three hundred and fifty police and military on motorbikes to secure the President’s routes to EU and NATO summits … while a convoy of nine US helicopters (took) Obama to an American First World War cemetery”, to tour a battlefield and lay a wreath – as he seemingly is prepared to plunge the planet in to another global confrontation, if leaders are lemming enough to follow.

But if he is prepared as feckless with others’ finances, as blood, there may be a few stumbling blocks.

Belgium, population 11,161,642 (2012) has had trading links with Russia since the early 18th century. Peter the Great visited what is now Belgium in 1717 and donated funds for a portico to a spa town, some sixty years before the birth of the United States of America. Last year’s exports to Russia were worth some four billion Euros.

In all, according to Eurostat, the twenty seven EU countries exported 108 Billion Euros-worth of goods to Russia in 2012 and imported 163 Billion Euros in trade from Russia: “with energy accounting for more than three quarters of imports.”(4, pdf.)

In blindly backing the US in another certifiably insane provocation, Britain has much to lose. According to UK Trade and Investment: “Russia remains an important trading partner … Between 2009 and 2012, exports of goods and services to Russia have grown by over 75% from £4.3 billion to £7.6 billion.”

Last September, David Cameron made a “landmark visit “ to Moscow with a “strong commercial focus.“ With him were the Foreign Secretary, the Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green and a delegation of twenty four business leaders representing a range of sectors. The visit aimed to “cement relations.” Beware British politicians bearing gifts.

In November, Business Secretary Vince Cable led a trade visit to Russia: “with more than thirty British companies to boost the fast growing economic links between the two countries …British exports to Russia have almost tripled in the last ten years, with around six hundred UK companies currently operating in the country. The opportunities are huge for British business – that’s why we’re also investing in a $50 million fund to help British small businesses export to Russia.”

The not so small businesses who accompanied the Business Secretary were bosses from Britain’s biggest companies, including Rolls-Royce, British Airways, Rio Tinto and Diageo in a bid to: “strengthen ties and promote trade.”. Other companies that have recently moved in to the Russian market include Cadbury, AstraZeneca, Kingfisher, Marks & Spencer and Monsoon.

Trevor Barton, Executive Director of the Russian British Chamber of Commerce said that British exports to Russia have been continuing to grow at 20-30% per annum, with Russian imports in mainly raw materials, oil and gas slightly exceeding exports. However, the market is: ”pretty substantial (the UK’s) fastest growing export market of anywhere in the world”, which the UK government had actively “encouraged.”

Russia was a: “ very close trading partner and the possibilities have not gone away”, said Barton for whom, it seems, the country is not alone a business opportunity, but for which he cares and relates. But these were “challenging times” in “spending time talking to companies and persuading” explaining possibilities, when frequently potential investors currently simply unquestioningly take at face value the insane biased media hype. (Mr Barton was scrupulous in not commenting on politics, the latter lines are entirely the writer’s interpretation.)

Germany’s foreign trade group BGA, has warned that Germany would suffer more than other European country if sanctions escalated: “With about 6,200 German companies invested in Russia, and bilateral trade worth 76 billion Euros ($105 billion) last year. A trade conflict would be painful for the German economy …” warned BGA President Anton Börner, adding that Germany could not do without Russia since both economies were “highly complementary.” (Agencies.)

By late 2010, French companies in Russia had increased six-fold with trade between the two countries worth $22.6 billion. Fifty percent of Russia’s fruit and berries are imported from Holland, Portugal and Poland. Meat deal with Brazil (pork and beef especially) also have the potential to diminish or trash European trade.

From Ireland in the west of Europe to Italy in the south (the latter Europe’s fourth largest trader with Russia) to Greece in the east, focus has been on developing trading ties with Russia and the EU can certainly do with no financial set backs, it is already, in the eyes of many, a fiscal train wreck waiting to happen.

Across the Atlantic, in Houston, Texas alone, four hundred companies trade with Russia. Sanctions could lead to some of America’s biggest companies being impacted. PepsiCo “had nearly $5 billion in net revenue from Russia in 2012.” Coca-Cola has a “large presence” and Exxon Mobil has signed a deal with Russian state oil company Rosneft to drill in the Arctic, beginning this year: “the lucrative crude up there could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Both General Motors and Ford have a market share in Russia and have invested in production facilities, with Ford negotiating a partnership with Russian Sollis, the all worth several $billion. “Russia is an emerging market with growing incomes, and U.S. companies have been actively looking to increase their investment there in recent years.”(5)

And from the US Moscow Embassy:

“President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) http://www.export.gov two years ago, with the goal of doubling exports by 2014. U.S. embassies are committed to supporting U.S. companies to start exporting or grow their exports to Russia. In this section, you’ll find a quick description of Russia’s export market and some suggestions for getting started.”

“This is no time for bluster” blustered President Obama in a speech in Europe last week. Indeed, he seems to have missed that not only is he determined to potentially bankrupt swathes of Europe and the US, President Putin holds all the cards. For thirteen years closer ties have been developing in trade and policies with the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – representing 42% of world population and about a quarter of the world’s economy.

They have already: “created their own Stock Alliance and are creating their own development bank to finance large infrastructure projects, there are also: dynamic trade and multiple projects in different areas … in total, there are more than 20 formats of cooperation within the BRICS intensively developing.” In February they agreed on possibly eleven directions of scientific and technical cooperation, from aeronautics to bio and nanotechnology.” They also plan to  “modernize the global economic system” so dominated by the EU and US.

This year: “Russia and China have a full agenda for bilateral cooperation, which includes not only trade but also such spheres as energy, aircraft building, mechanical engineering, military and science cooperation, tourism” and more. Cultural ties are also strengthening with 2014-2015 a year of youth exchange.

Russia and China are additionally planning joint events to mark the seventieth anniversary of the victory over German fascism in WW11 next year.(6) Really bad timing for Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to delight over America’s $ five billion spent on installing a fascist government in Kiev.

And suppose Russia switched from accepting US dollars, Euros and the UK pound, to other currencies, as observers have commented.could be being considered.

Further, as Europe’s energy is highly dependent on Russia, perhaps, like Crimea, the twenty seven EU countries could be granted some democracy and vote as to whether they want the radiators to go cold and to paraphrase Churchill: “the lights go off all over Europe.”

Notes

1. http://www.justiceyugoslavia.org/world_alarm.htm

2. http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-obama-nsa-spying-chinese-president-20140324,0,3780214.story#ixzz2wyHzgaoU

3. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/24/barack-obama-visit- brussels-cost-belgium-10m?CMP=fb_gu

4. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/6-03062013-AP/EN/6-03062013-AP-EN.PDF

5. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116853/economic-sanctions-would-hurt-american-companies-russia

6. http://rt.com/op-edge/russia-switches-to-brics-sanctions-357/

We Can Still Prosecute …

Many argue that the statute of limitations on Bush and Cheney’s crimes of lying us into the Iraq war and torture have all run … so it is too late to prosecute them.

However, the United States War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal statute set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2441, makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national, whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment.

The statute applies not only to those who carry out the acts, but also to those who ORDER IT, know about it, or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute applies to everyone, no matter how high and mighty.

18 U.S.C. § 2441 has no statute of limitations, which means that a war crimes complaint can be filed at any time.

The penalty may be life imprisonment or — if a single prisoner dies due to torture — death. Given that there are numerous, documented cases of prisoners being tortured to death by U.S. soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that means that the death penalty would be appropriate for anyone found guilty of carrying out, ordering, or sanctioning such conduct.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 limited the applicability of the War Crimes Act, but still made the following unlawful:  torture, cruel or inhumane treatment, murder, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily harm, rape, sexual assault or abuse.

War Crimes By the Bush Administration

Here’s an overview of war crimes by the Bush administration:

  • The use of depleted uranium, which can cause cancer and birth defects for decades (see thisthisthis,thisthis and this)

We’ll go into more detail on torture below.

Yes, It Was Torture

Yes, Waterboarding IS Torture

  • Everyone claiming waterboarding is not torture has changed their tune as soon as they were exposed to even a small dose of it themselves. See thisthis and this

Not Just Waterboarding

Children, Too

People Died While Being Tortured

The ACLU wrote in 2005:

The American Civil Liberties Union today made public an analysis of new and previously released autopsy and death reports of detainees held in U.S. facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom died while being interrogated.  The documents show that detainees were hooded, gagged, strangled, beaten with blunt objects, subjected to sleep deprivation and to hot and cold environmental conditions.

“”There is no question that U.S. interrogations have resulted in deaths,”” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU.  “”High-ranking officials who knew about the torture and sat on their hands and those who created and endorsed these policies must be held accountable.

***

The documents released today include 44 autopsies and death reports as well as a summary of autopsy reports of individuals apprehended in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The documents show that detainees died during or after interrogations by Navy Seals, Military Intelligence and “”OGA”” (Other Governmental Agency) — a term, according to the ACLU, that is commonly used to refer to the CIA.

According to the documents, 21 of the 44 deaths were homicides.   Eight of the homicides appear to have resulted from abusive techniques used on detainees, in some instances, by the CIA, Navy Seals and Military Intelligence personnel.  The autopsy reports list deaths by “”strangulation,”” “”asphyxiation”” and “”blunt force injuries.””  An overwhelming majority of the so-called “”natural deaths”” were attributed to “”Arteriosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease.””

While newspapers have recently reported deaths of detainees in CIA custody, today’s documents show that the problem is pervasive, involving Navy Seals and Military Intelligence too.

Spiegel reported in 2009:

At least two men died during imprisonment. One of them, a 22-year-old taxi driver named Dilawar, was suspended by his hands from the ceiling for four days, during which US military personnel repeatedly beat his legs. Dilawar died on Dec. 10, 2002. In the autopsy report, a military doctor wrote that the tissue on his legs had basically been “pulpified.” As it happens, his interrogators had already known — and later testified — that there was no evidence against Dilawar …

And see this.

Should We Prosecute?

But should we prosecute?  Yes:

U.S. Officials Launched a Systematic Program of Torture Using Specialized Techniques Which Produce False Confessions … to Justify the Iraq War

Let’s dig in a little deeper on the question of torture …

Not only did Bush, Cheney and other top government officials lie about us into the Iraq war by making a false linkage between Iraq and 9/11, but they carried out a systematic program of torture in order tointentionally create false evidence of that allegation.

Indeed, the entire purpose behind the U.S. torture program was to obtain false confessions.

And the torture techniques used were Communist techniques specifically designed to produce falseconfessions.

Senator Levin, in commenting on a Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture in 2009,dropped the following bombshell:

With last week’s release of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions, it is now widely known that Bush administration officials distorted Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape “SERE” training – a legitimate program used by the military to train our troops to resist abusive enemy interrogations – by authorizing abusive techniques from SERE for use in detainee interrogations. Those decisions conveyed the message that abusive treatment was appropriate for detainees in U.S. custody. They were also an affront to the values articulated by General Petraeus.

In SERE training, U.S. troops are briefly exposed, in a highly controlled setting, to abusive interrogation techniques used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions. The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting false confessions for propaganda purposes. Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. Until recently, the Navy SERE school also used waterboarding. The purpose of the SERE program is to provide U.S. troops who might be captured a taste of the treatment they might face so that they might have a better chance of surviving captivity and resisting abusive and coercive interrogations.

Senator Levin then documents that SERE techniques were deployed as part of an official policy on detainees, and that SERE instructors helped to implement the interrogation programs. He noted:

The senior Army SERE psychologist warned in 2002 against using SERE training techniques during interrogations in an email to personnel at Guantanamo Bay, because:

[T]he use of physical pressures brings with it a large number of potential negative side effects… When individuals are gradually exposed to increasing levels of discomfort, it is more common for them to resist harder… If individuals are put under enough discomfort, i.e. pain, they will eventually do whatever it takes to stop the pain. This will increase the amount of information they tell the interrogator, but it does not mean the information is accurate. In fact, it usually decreases the reliability of the information because the person will say whatever he believes will stop the pain… Bottom line: the likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the delivery of accurate information from a detainee is very low. The likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the level of resistance in a detainee is very high… (p. 53).

McClatchy filled in some of the details:

Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…

For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document…

When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.”Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”

Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

In other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false linkage.

The Washington Post reported the same year:

Despite what you’ve seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing: eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.

So as shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes sense — in a nauseating way. The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced with a “ticking time bomb” scenario from terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks — in order to strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.

***

Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: “Senior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified information discovered in a congressional probe.

Indeed, one of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.

As Truth Out reported:

Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).

Kearns and his boss, Roger Aldrich, the head of the Air Force Intelligence’s Special Survial Training Program (SSTP), based out of Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, hired Jessen in May 1989. Kearns, who was head of operations at SSTP and trained thousands of service members, said Jessen was brought into the program due to an increase in the number of new SERE courses being taught and “the fact that it required psychological expertise on hand in a full-time basis.”

Jessen, then the chief of Psychology Service at the US Air Force Survival School, immediately started to work directly with Kearns on “a new course for special mission units (SMUs), which had as its goal individual resistance to terrorist exploitation.”

The course, known as SV-91, was developed for the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) branch of the US Air Force Intelligence Agency, which acted as the Executive Agent Action Office for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jessen’s notes formed the basis for one part of SV-91, “Psychological Aspects of Detention.”

***

Kearns was one of only two officers within DoD qualified to teach all three SERE-related courses within SSTP on a worldwide basis, according to a copy of a 1989 letter written Aldrich, who nominated him officer of the year.

***

The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered – not just ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar,” he said. “What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen’s instruction. It is exploitation, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to ‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.”

***

Jessen wrote that cooperation is the “end goal” of the detainer, who wants the detainee “to see that [the detainer] has ‘total’ control of you because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.).”

***

Kearns said, based on what he has read in declassified government documents and news reports about the role SERE played in the Bush administration’s torture program, Jessen clearly “reverse-engineered” his lesson plan and used resistance methods to abuse “war on terror” detainees.

So we have the two main Air Force insiders concerning the genesis of the torture program confirming – with original notes – that the whole purpose of the torture program was to extract false confessions.

Indeed, the top interrogation experts from U.S. military and intelligence services say that all torture is lousy at producing actionable intelligence, the only things it is good for are (1) producing false confessions, (2) creating more terrorists, and (3) itself acting as a form of terrorism.

And false confessions were, in fact, extracted.

For example:

(Indeed, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on a third-hand account of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. And the government went to great lengths to obstruct justice and hide unflattering facts from the Commission.)

But Are They Guilty of War Crimes?

The Nuremberg Tribunal which convicted and sentenced Nazis leaders to death conceived of wars of aggression – i.e. wars not launched in self-defense – defined the following as “crimes against peace”, or war crimes:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i)

The Tribunal considered wars of aggression to be the ultimate war crime, which encompassed all other crimes:

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

Judgment of October 1, 1946, International Military Tribunal Judgment and Sentence, 22 IMTTRIALS, supra note 7, at 498, reprinted in 41 AM. J. INT’LL. 172, 186 (1947).

Given that Iraq had no connection with 9/11 and possessed no weapons of mass destruction, the Iraq war was a crime of aggression and – under the standards by which Nazi leaders were convicted by the Nuremberg Tribunal – the American leaders who lied us into that war are guilty of war crimes.

Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials, declared:

A prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity — that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.

See thisthis, and this.

The Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court – Luis Moreno-Ocampo – told the Sunday Telegraph in 2007:

That he would be willing to launch an inquiry and could envisage a scenario in which the Prime Minister and American President George W Bush could one day face charges at The Hague. Luis Moreno-Ocampo urged Arab countries, particularly Iraq, to sign up to the court to enable allegations against the West to be pursued.

As a Japan Times Op/Ed noted in 2009:

In January 2003, a group of American law professors warned President George W. Bush that he and senior officials of his government could be prosecuted for war crimes if their military tactics violated international humanitarian law.

Eminent legal scholars such as former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clarke and Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law and a professor of law Lawrence Velvel have since stated that high-level Bush administration officials did commit war crimes in relation to the Iraq war.

Torture is – of course – a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which make it illegal to inflict mental or physical torture or inhuman treatment. It is clearly-established that waterboarding is tortureThe torture was, in fact, systematic, and included widespread sexual humiliation, murder and otherunambiguous forms of torture.

Velvel and many other legal experts say that the torture which was carried out after 9/11 is a war crime.

Colin Powell’s former chief of staff stated that Dick Cheney is guilty of war crimes for overseeing torture policies.

Matthew Alexander – a former top Air Force interrogator who led the team that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – notes that government officials knew they are vulnerable for war crime prosecution:

They have, from the beginning, been trying to prevent an investigation into war crimes.

A Malaysian war crimes commission also found Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and five administration attorneys guilty of war crimes (although but the commission has no power to enforce its judgment).

War Crimes By the Obama Administration

The Obama administration has ordered numerous indiscriminate drone strikes.  They are war crimes(more here and here).  (They also create more terrorists.)

Torture is also apparently continuing under Obama. See this and this.

Note:  We’re writing less on Obama than Bush solely because the statute of limitations for Obama’s crimes are not an issue at this point.

Debunking Western Propaganda

March 30th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

It’s malicious. It’s unrelenting. Big Lies repeat one after another. Official sources announce them.
Mainstream media regurgitate them as gospel. It’s standard practice. Agitprop substitutes for accurate reporting.

Ukraine crisis misinformation proliferates. Responsible Russian replies get short shrift. Often they’re ignored. Sometimes they’re twisted irresponsibly.

On March 28, Vladimir Putin said professional Russian action saved Crimean bloodshed. He thanked “the command and service members of the Black Sea Fleet, other units and formations based in Crimea, for their stamina and personal courage.”

He praised their “clear and professional actions.” They “avoid(ed) provocations and prevent(ed) bloodshed and ensure(d) conditions for a peaceful and free referendum.”

One observing UN Charter principles. One entirely legal. One contradicting Western lies claiming otherwise.

“Serious work must be done to modernize the military structure in Crimea,” he added.

“We need to complete the formation of police, emergency and penitentiary, as well as security, investigative and drug-control agencies in the new constituent regions of the Federation.”

Most Ukrainian forces reject Kiev putschists. They remain in Crimea. They do so freely. Reports otherwise are false.

Those wishing to remain on active duty are being integrated into Russia’s military.

Their services are valued. “They will retain their military ranks and service record and have their school diplomas recognized,” said Putin.

“The(ir) pay and social status will be brought in line with the Russian legislation.” Moscow’s military pay is “about four times that of Ukraine.”

“Over the next few days the Russian government will make relevant decisions on all the matters concerning military pensions, allowances and salary payouts.”

“We respect the choice of those Ukrainian service members and other law enforcement officers who are returning to Ukraine.”

“Attitudes towards them and their families must be extremely correct, as required by the traditions of military honor.”

All Ukrainian military personnel in Crimea wishing to return home either left or plan to. Around 2,000 of Kiev’s 18,000 contingent chose to do so. Moscow provided them help to return home.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said “the organized withdrawal of the units of the Ukrainian army which have expressed a wish to continue serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been completed.”

“The state symbols have been replaced on all ships and in all units that have taken the side of the Russian army.”

“No acts of desecration and disrespectful treatment of Ukrainian state symbols have taken place.”

Spurious Western reports lied about Russian troops massing on Ukraine’s border. Invasion perhaps is imminent, they suggested. Saying so is malicious propaganda.

Throughout Ukrainian/Crimean crisis conditions, Putin acted responsibly. International laws were observed. They still are. He’s geopolitically opposite Obama.

Reprehensible Western reports claim otherwise. Lies substitute for truth. On March 28, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich responded responsibly.

He debunked false charges. The Russians aren’t coming. Aggression isn’t planned. No evidence suggests an imminent attack.

Inspectors from Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lativa, Switzerland and Ukraine were in direct contact with Russian military unit chiefs on the ground.

They photographed deployed sites and military equipment freely. They accompanied Russian forces on maneuvers.

They know no threat exists. They informed their superiors. Falsified reports claim otherwise. They stoke fear.

They bash Russia maliciously. They do it daily. It bears repeating. Big Lies drown out truth. Mainstream media echo them like gospel.

Lukashevich issued a detailed statement. It’s repeated below in its entirety, saying.

“In the light of claims on an allegedly threatening deployment of units of the Russian Armed Forces on the border with Ukraine, which are fanned by mass media at the instigation by certain politicians in the U.S and some other NATO countries, we find it necessary to make the following remarks.”

“The practice of collaboration among member-states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – and all of NATO’s member-states also have membership of the OSCE – boasts a number of well-adjusted and fairly reliable methods of ‘getting analgesia’ in the form of ground-based and aerial inspections under the 2011 Vienna Document, as well as surveillance flights under the Treaty on Open Skies.”

“An opportunity to hold these inspections was offered to everyone who wished to get familiarized with the actual state of affairs in the areas (of Russia – Itar-Tass) adjoining the Ukrainian border. The results of the inspectors’ work were reflected in the official reports distributed to all the member-states of the OSCE.

“The unbiased information contained in them should have become, in our opinion, a subject of scrupulous analysis and the groundwork for further conclusions. And did the inspectors establish any signs of a military threat to Ukraine on the part of Russia?”

“Nothing of this kind. A total of four international inspections held on the Russian territory under the 2011 Vienna document on trust-building and security measures involved representatives of Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia, Belgium, France, and Ukraine, who did not track down any aggressive preparations and did not see any military activity apart from the one, on which Russian had sent notifications earlier.”

“Even a Ukrainian inspection group that visited the Belgorod region from March 18 to March 20 agreed that the Russian Armed Forces were not conducting any major military activity there.”

“The three battalions of Airborne Troops it had found outside the zone of permanent stationing – that is, in the process of a military exercise – could scarcely be viewed as signs of a “menacing buildup of military muscle.”

“Apart from inspections under the Vienna document, US and German inspectors made surveillance flights under the Treaty on Open Skies in March.”

“Although their officials conclusions will be known somewhat later after the processing of photo materials is over, one can assume that had our partners registered some aerial signs of large concentrations of Armed Forces, they would not have procrastinated with presenting “hardboiled evidence.”

“But they did not, and this means such evidence simply does not exist. In connection with the aforesaid, a few questions arise.”

“What is the sense of verifications in the military and defense policy sphere if their results do not influence political practices, including the formation of US and NATO approaches to the situation around Ukraine?”

“Is it linked to the fact the unbiased information gathered by military inspectors does not reach political leadership?”

“Or are these very same leaders so susceptible to emotions that they might ignore facts in favor of own political tastes and preferences?”

“In any case, our Western counterparts give grounds for calling the efficiency of the International Security Treaty mechanism from the angle of consolidating trust and security.”

“We will take account of this in our work on further improvement of the Vienna document and in the process of scrutiny of supplementary initiatives in the format of the OSCE forum on security cooperation.”

On Friday, Putin called Obama. He did so to discuss Ukraine. Itar Tass said he stressed ongoing violence by extremists. They’re “committing acts of intimidation against civilians,” he said.

They act with impunity. Putin urged international efforts to stabilize things. John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov will meet to discuss joint US/Russian efforts to do so.

Putin acted responsibly. An irresponsible White House press release lied saying otherwise.

“President Obama reiterated that the United States has strongly opposed the actions that Russia has already taken to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said.

Obama ludicrously claimed  ”the the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de-escalatory approach to the crisis and is moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections.”

He urged Putin to support what demands rejection. He lied claiming Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border. Avoid “further provocations,” he said.

He twists facts repeatedly to fit policy. He threatens world peace. He threatens humanity’s survival.

Putin isn’t naive. He knows what he’s up against. He knows Washington’s imperial ambitions. He’s been outspoken about them many times.

He knows how great conflicts begin. So does Paul Craig Roberts. “We are again on the road to World War,” he fears. “(T)he drive to war is blatantly obvious.”

Washington bears full responsibility. Rogue Western nations and supportive media share it.

“(T)he world (is) again being led down the garden path by lies and propaganda…(T)his time (it’s) (on) behalf of (unchallenged) American world hegemony,” Roberts stresses.

Putin understands the threat. He’s going all-out to defuse it. He has no willing partner in Washington. Advancing America’s imperium matters most.

Obama reflects the worst of rogue leadership. He’s duplicitous. He’s a serial liar. He represents corrupted monied interests. He’s a war criminal multiple times over.

He’s waging war on humanity. He’s doing it at home and abroad. He blames victims for his crimes. Millions of corpses attest to his barbarity. His belligerence risks World War III.

On Friday, Security Council members met in closed-door session. They did so to discuss Ukraine. UN envoy Vitaly Churkin explained Moscow’s position publicly.

“Someone must seriously think through what they are doing and the consequences of certain actions they are advocating,” he said.

“Our international partners insist that the only way out is to have this presidential election on May 25.”

“In a situation of political chaos in the country? What will be the effect of those elections if some of the regions do not participate or turnout is very low in the course of those elections?”

Ukraine needs legitimate governance. It needs constitutional reform. It needs them in place before elections are held, Russia stresses.

“There is no political leader in sight who might be able to unite the country,” said Churkin.

“All the politicians one can hear about are extremely divisive for the Ukrainian society.”

“The other thing that is going to come up in the next couple of months is most likely dramatic decline of the living standards of people, because of IMF package which now has been proposed to them” and accepted.

Western nations urge Russia to engage in dialogue. At the same time, they turn a deaf ear to what it’s saying.

“If you want dialogue, please respond to what we’ve been saying,” said Churkin. “They are responding, sometimes, but the response is that: ‘Well, but you know, the Ukrainians…’ ”

“We understand the importance of constitution, but how can they do it now? Can they do this constitutional assembly? There is no one to organize the constitutional assembly!”

“Well, if there is nobody to organize, maybe this is exactly the role of the international community? This Compact support group we have been proposing to help them organize those things if there is nobody currently in Ukraine who can take this responsibility.”

“Our position is very clear. (It’s) disappointing that those things which are obvious to us do not seem to sink in in the minds of our international interlocutors and our Ukrainian colleagues.”

Ukrainian conditions remain chaotic. Stability is nowhere in sight. Fascist putschists run things. Responsible governance is absent.

Sham May elections aim to legitimize illegitimate rule. Democracy is strictly verboten. Russia in under no illusion.

Western supported rogue Ukrainian governance threatens its security. Potential civil war looms. Igniting it risks cross-border spillover. Doing so risks global war.

Russia is going all-out to defuse things. Its best efforts may not be enough.

Separately, Lukashevich said irresponsible Western sanctions “cannot go without reaction.” Moscow intends “a responsive measure, which we are mirroring to a large extent.”

Hungary opposes Western sanctions. Germany has mixed feelings. Angela Merkel wants “de-escalation.”

She’s against economic sanctions. She hopes to avoid them. Germany is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. After China, it’s Berlin’s largest trading partner. Volume approaches $100 billion annually.

Thousands of German companies are involved. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake. Safeguarding them is vital to Germany’s economy. Merkel is responsible for doing so.

Russian parliamentarians are considering imposing sanctions on US companies. Reports suggest setting limits to offices considered legal entities.

Duma Deputy Vadim Dengin said:

“If the US cares little about losing business contacts with Russia through imposing its sanctions, then Russia should have long since started supporting Russian producers in full.”

US companies want business as usual to continue. Bottom line priorities matter most. Political disagreements hurt them. How much they’re able to curb further action remains to be seen.

It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Today is the most perilous time in world history.

Paul Craig Roberts is justifiably worried. People don’t “learn from history,” he says. Obama bears full responsibility.

He justifies US aggression irresponsibly. He’s heading down “the road to World War.”

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

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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

UN Report Details US Human Rights Abuses

March 30th, 2014 by Thomas Gaist

A UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) report delivered in mid-March harshly criticized the United States, citing a laundry list of human rights violations both on American soil and in countries around the world.

The report, compiled from the testimony of 18 independent experts, detailed rampant violations by the US government of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The report condemned the US for failing to punish high-ranking military officers and private contractors for crimes, including torture and targeted killings, saying that only a “meager number” of criminal charges had been pressed, and against low-ranking personnel at that.

“The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives,” the HRC concluded.

Testimony to the HRC highlighted the use of drones by the US to carry out targeted killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. Since Obama took office, US drones have killed more than 2,600 people in at least 400 strikes, according to documents submitted to the HRC by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

US imperialism has created a worldwide system of illegal prison camps, where US and foreign personnel carry out torture against supposed terrorists and other enemies of the American state. Evidence submitted to the hearing showed that the US is currently continuing to hold 154 detainees who have been cleared at its prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that an additional 45 are being held on an indefinite basis without charges or trial.

The report found that the US applies “broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity” to prevent torture victims from seeking compensation against their torturers.

As reaffirmed by US representatives during the course of the hearing, the US government invoked the principle of “extraterritoriality” to exempt itself from compliance with the ICCPR on foreign soil (the only other country to explicitly exempt itself in this way is Israel). The Obama administration’s position is that the ICCPR does not impose any “human rights obligations on American military and intelligence when they operate abroad.”

“The United States continues to believe that its interpretation—that the covenant applies only to individuals both within its territory and within its jurisdiction—is the most consistent with the covenant’s language and negotiating history,” said Mary McLeod, legal representative from the State Department, during the committee hearing.

“The U.S. insists it has no international legal obligations to respect the privacy rights of foreigners outside its borders,” said Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch.

The reports submitted to the HRC listed massive violations of the ICCPR also taking place within the US itself. Domestic violations cited during the reports included:

• Inhuman treatment of migrants, including use of lethal force on the US-Mexico border

• Dragnet surveillance

• Labor trafficking

• Widespread use of solitary confinement

• Trials of juveniles as adults, the use of life sentences against juveniles, incarceration of juveniles in adult institutions

• Criminalization of homelessness

• Racial profiling

• Stop-and-frisk policies

• Use of Special Administrative Measures (SAM), including monitoring of prison-attorney communications

• Widespread use of nonconsensual administration of psychiatric medication, electroshock, and other “coercive health practices”

The HRC gathered testimony from nongovernmental human rights groups on the American military operations. A “shadow report” submitted by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to the HRC, entitled “US Veterans and Iraqi Organizations Seek Accountability for Human Rights Crisis Resulting from a Decade of US-Led War,” noted “the lack of any recognition whatsoever by the US government of the disastrous and tragic consequences” caused by the war against Iraq.

The report pointed to extensive use of toxic weapons against the population, writing, “Iraq is now in the midst of a public health crisis, the full magnitude of which is still unknown, as cancer rates and birth defects have skyrocketed since the US invasion—widely believed to be the result of the US’s use of weapons made of depleted uranium as well as the unregulated use of other munitions and burn pits used to dispose of toxic waste.”

“In addition to the use of weapons containing depleted uranium, US officials and allies have admitted to using napalm-class munitions and white phosphorous, an incendiary agent that can burn to the bone, in Fallujah, Iraq and elsewhere. These weapons were reported to have been used in operations in populated areas and resulted in grave harm to civilians, including children. Similarly, the use of cluster munitions, which spread over a wide area and often fail to explode on impact, have resulted in the indiscriminate killing of civilians,” the CCR wrote.

“Despite having waged an illegal war based on false justifications, no civilian or military official has been investigated or held accountable for their role in fabricating the justification to go to war in Iraq. In fact, the current administration recently argued in a legal case brought by victims of the Iraq war that officials responsible for planning and waging the war in violation of international law should be afforded immunity and shielded from suit,” the report found.

According to the CCR’s shadow report, “conservative estimates” show that the US war against Iraq caused the direct deaths of 330,000 people, with indirect deaths resulting from unexploded weapons, malnutrition, the collapse of Iraq’s health infrastructure and the environmental fallout from the war totaling more than 1 million. Some additional 4.5 million Iraqis were turned into refugees by the war, and at least 4 million Iraqi children lost one or both parents.

Under the mantle of promoting human rights and democracy, US imperialism has been invading countries and overthrowing governments around the world for decades. As the latest UN report makes clear, Washington’s human rights pose is a fraud. The US government itself is the leading human rights violator on the planet, using whatever means necessary, including mass terror against civilian areas, to maintain the supremacy of American capitalism.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been among the shrillest in the chorus of western leaders denouncing and threatening Russia.

He issued a series of inflammatory denunciations of Russian “aggression” during a European tour this past week that began with a trip to Ukraine. During his six hours in Kiev, Harper lauded the government installed by last month’s fascist-spearheaded, US-German organized coup and conferred with its leaders, who include a half-dozen ministers from the fascist Svoboda Party.

If Harper’s aides and the press are to be believed, Canada’s Conservative Prime Minster has led the campaign for the western powers to take provocative measures against Russia. These include the increased deployment of NATO forces on Russia’s borders, sanctions against Bank Rossiya, Russia’s exclusion from the G-8, and the threat of more punishing economic sanctions if Russia does not “completely reverse” its annexation of Crimea.

Both privately and in public, Harper has hectored European leaders to intensify the western drive to bully and isolate Russia, blithely stoking a conflict that could easily spin into a global military conflagration.

Speaking Thursday at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Harper took issue with Merkel’s contention that the crisis over the Ukraine could soon be defused. Canada’s prime minister said he doubted Russia under President Vladimir Putin would ever be allowed to rejoin the G-8 and urged the western powers to prepare for a long confrontation with Russia.

“The reality we have to come to terms with,” claimed Harper, is that Putin has “not desired to be a partner.” He has created “a rivalry instead of a partnership.”

This is a lie. It is the US, Canada and their European allies that have moved aggressively against Russia, which emerged from the restoration of capitalism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union economically and geopolitically hobbled. In the past two decades, NATO—the US-led military bloc whoseraison d’etre was to counter and, if need be, militarily conquer the Soviet Union—has incorporated all of the states of Eastern European formerly allied with the USSR, as well as the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which were part of the USSR till 1991. As a result, NATO forces are now deployed on Russia’s borders.

Moreover, the detaching of Ukraine from Russia and its subjugation to western domination has long been a key objective of US geopolitical strategy.

To achieve this predatory objective, the US and Germany precipitated the current crisis by intervening in Ukraine and fomenting the fascist-led overthrow of the country’s elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, after he balked at signing a pact with the European Union. That pact, since resurrected by the government born of the coup, both barred the Ukraine from entering into a customs union with Russia and subjected Ukraine to a brutal IMF restructuring program that would result in the shutdown of much of the country’s industry.

Canada has been an important player in the western drive to geo-politically and economically annex Ukraine, a country rich in agricultural and other resources. Although total trade between the two counties is barley $300 million per year, Canada has designated Ukraine one of twenty foreign policy priority countries. Like Washington, Ottawa has invested large sums since the 1990s to support pro-western “civil society” organizations and parties and played an active role in the 2004-5 Orange Revolution—the first concerted US-led drive to mount a regime change operation in Kyiv. In this, Canada has leveraged a network of right-wing Ukrainian-Canadian businessmen and Ukrainian-Canadian ethnic organizations, especially the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), whose president, Paul Grod, accompanied Harper on his March 22 visit to Kyiv.

The UCC functioned as a virtual arm of the Canadian state during the Cold War. It includes organizations that openly celebrate the heroes of the Svoboda Party and other contemporary Ukrainian fascists—the World War II Ukrainian nationalist Nazi collaborators who carried out the mass slaughter of Jews and Poles. Some UCC constituents, such as “the Society of Veterans of Ukrainian Insurgent Army” and the “Brotherhood of Veterans 1st Division UNA,” were themselves founded by participants in Stepan Bandera’s Nazi-allied Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

While Harper respected diplomatic norms in disagreeing with Merkel, he publicly dressed down the head of Holland’s largest employer lobby group last Monday when he raised fears that the escalating confrontation between Russia and the West could hurt Europe economically. Interrupting Bernard Wientjes, Harper declared, “None of us like seeing disruption to investment or to markets or to trade, but the fact of the matter is … when you have something like a military occupation of a country by another country, this is not something that we can subordinate to economic interests.”

Harper’s claim that economic interests are not motivating the western powers—Canada among them—in the Ukraine crisis is yet another lie.

The aggressive drive of the imperialist powers, above all the US, to assert their global hegemony is rooted in a systemic crisis of world capitalism. Through war and threats of war, Washington is seeking to offset the relative decline in the US’s economic might and lay claim to resources, markets and strategic territories.

German imperialism, which twice tried to conquer Ukraine in the world wars of the last century so as to annex it to its financial-industrial empire, is eager to realize that objective today. It aims to use Ukraine to supply German industry with cheap-labor and resources.

Canadian imperialism also hopes to directly profit from the confrontation between Russia and the western powers, seeing it as a golden opportunity for Canada to displace Russian oil exports to Europe and overcome opposition within the US to the building of the Keystone XL pipeline (which would transport Alberta tar sands bitumen to heavy oil refineries on the US Gulf Coast). Following last Monday’s meeting of the G-7 government leaders, Harper excitedly announced that they had decided to convene a meeting of their energy ministers to discuss how they could collaborate in the possible future imposition of sanctions targeting Russia’s energy sector. Such action would potentially open lucrative opportunities for Canadian energy companies.

Harper’s belligerence, lies, and hypocrisy may be news to an international audience, but they will come as no surprise to Canadians.

A neo-conservative—who cuts his political teeth railing against “socialist” Canada (i.e., the existence of Medicare and other social programs) and enthusiastically endorsed the US’s 2003 invasion of Iraq on trumped up claims of weapons of mass destruction—Harper and his government exemplify the Canadian ruling class’ turn to reaction and authoritarian forms of rule.

While Harper declaims about Russia’s reputed violation of the UN Charter in its annexation of Crimea, he and the Canadian elite have supported and participated in the US’s systematic trashing of international law: its arrogation of the right to shower drone missiles or invade and occupy any country it chooses (e.g., Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya); its use of torture and illegal detention centers like Guantanamo Bay; and its operation of a global spying network that targets the planet’s entire population.

Harper’s government is infamous for its attacks on democratic rights, including effectively abolishing the right to strike, sanctioning state spying on Canadians’ electronic communications, and its illegal shutdown of parliament in Dec. 2008 to prevent the opposition parties exercising their constitutional right to defeat his government.

In the run-up to Quebec’s April 7 election, Canada’s elite has again brandished the threat that should Quebec ever secede from the Canadian federal state it could be partitioned—a scarcely veiled threat of ethnic civil war. Harper, it need be recalled, has boasted that, as the policy director for the rightwing populist, anglo-chauvinist Reform Party, he was one of the originators of the partition threat—which was subsequently incorporated in the Chretien Liberal government’s Clarity Act.

The opposition parties have all accommodated to and participated in the Canadian ruling class’ lurch to the right, be it the dismantling of public services or Canada’s participation in US-led imperialist wars. If anything, the Liberals and trade union-supported New Democratic Party have attacked Harper from the right over his attitude toward the Ukraine crisis, saying he hasn’t been sufficiently supportive of the pro-western forces (i.e., the ultra-nationalists and fascists) and should take even stronger actions against Moscow.

Responding to Moscow’s imposition earlier this week of retaliatory sanctions (effectively a travel ban) on a dozen Canadian government official and politicians and the head of the UCC, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair declared, “If that’s the price to pay to start sending a message to Putin, so be it.” He then called on “the world community” to “come together and start imposing far more consequential sanctions” if Russia does not forthwith submit to US, German and Canadian demands regarding the Crimea and Ukraine.

Russia will respond if the European Union issues Schengen visas to Crimean residents only on Ukrainian passports

Russia has some information about Ukrainian far-right movement Right Sector involved in the shooting of snipers in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Sunday Time programme anchored by Irada Zeinalova on Channel One on Sunday. Pettiness of foreign sponsors of new authorities in Kiev is astonishing, he added.

“We have some information about it. We shared our concerns and suspicions. I cannot affirm with absolute determination, but there is a good deal of facts that point to this. Certainly, it is needed to recheck them. I hope that an investigation which current Ukrainian leaders announced will be finalised and will not be swept under carpet,” Lavrov noted.

Russia will respond if the European Union issues Schengen visas to Crimean residents only on Ukrainian passports,  Lavrov said.

“People who live in Crimea and who chose Russian citizenship are not related to geopolitics. They want to live in a country which meets their cultural and language request, their so-called “gene pool”,” Lavrov noted.

“If the European Union takes such steps, I am convinced that we will reply to this so that the EU will understand that blatant violation of human rights is unacceptable,” the Russian foreign minister added.

Russian language in Ukraine

Kiev authorities find Ukraine’s federalisation and the Russian language status as the second state language unacceptable, Lavrov said.

“Andrey Deshchitsa [interim Ukrainian foreign minister] stated that our proposal was unacceptable, because federalisation contradicts fundamental principles of state system in Ukraine,” Lavrov said. “This is unclear why it is so. I am not aware of such principles,” he added.

“Secondly, the idea to make Russian language the second state language is also unacceptable for him,” the Russian top diplomat went on to say in comments on results of talks with Deshchitsa in the Hague. “This was stated amid well-known statements by Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and other officials of current Ukrainian authorities that Russians and Russian language are not system-forming factors of Ukrainian state in terms of ethnogenesis,” Lavrov added.

Russian troops in the Crimea

No one cancelled the right for moving armed forces in the homeland, Russian Foreign Minister said,

“Russian military forces are based on the territory of our country. From time to time they hold scheduled, unscheduled and surprise military exercises, as any countries respecting themselves do, because the latter are concerned so that their armed forces will be in combat order,” Lavrov noted.

The recent war games “were transparent and met fully criteria in effect in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).” “All required information about it was sent. In reply to requests made to us we have permitted foreign inspectors including the Americans and Ukrainians to monitor it,” the minister noted.

“Within the Treaty of Open Skies under which flights are made over the territories of signatory nations for air surveillance, such flights were made just a couple of weeks ago at Ukraine’s request,” Lavrov added. “In reports of foreign observers delivered upon results of these inspections we did not find any affirmations that Russia was involved in any dangerous activity during these military manoeuvres,” the Russian top diplomat said.

“We do not have any evil intent and are still open for honest talks. However, no one cancelled the right to move armed forces on your own territory,” the Russian foreign minister added.

Russia, US, EU dialogue

Russia, the United States and the European Union should urge Kiev authorities to launch a dialogue in all Ukraine, Sergey Lavrov said.

“We meet regularly with John Kerry [U.S. Secretary of State]. It is surprising for me that the Europeans gave a free hand to Washington to deal with Ukrainian issues regarding relations with Russia,” Lavrov noted. “Ideas of forming a contact group [on Ukrainian crisis] are being worked out, we have already said about this many times. A contact group is contemplated as a structure in which Europe and the U.S. will “supervise” how we and Ukrainians start to come to terms on something,” the Russian top diplomat said.

“This is unacceptable, because the problem is not in our relations with Ukraine, but in the fact that Ukrainian society is in a deep crisis of statehood,” he added.

Therefore, Russia proposed another approach. “If our Western partners are prepared Russia, the U.S. and the EU will be able to set up a group of support to Ukraine and to formulate general appeals to those who rule in Ukraine now so that they will put forward an initiative of a dialogue in the whole country and will invite all political forces without exception [naturally not armed radicals] and regions to enter in equitable talks,” the minister noted. “Their outcome will become a new Ukrainian constitution that will ensure a federal system of government that confirms and stipulates an off-bloc position of the country and will guarantee the rights of those who live in Ukraine, primarily, Russian-speaking population is surely important for us, but also the rights of Czechs, Hungarians, Germans and other nationalities living there,” the foreign minister added.

“If our partners are prepared for this, we are open for broadest co-operation,” Lavrov said. “But current Ukrainian authorities should make a first step to extend a friendly hand to all Ukrainian citizens, all regions, offer them enter in equitable, open dialogue on the future of their homeland. We will be completely prepared to co-operate closely on this path,” the Russian foreign minister added.

 

The action is designed to voice support for the bank, which is creating a precedent in world economy

An action in support of bank Rossiya which has decided to work exclusively with the national currency will take place in Moscow on Sunday.

The Golden Symbol of Russian Rouble installation in front of the bank’s office in Perevedensky pereulok in Moscow will symbolize the rouble’s stability and its backing by the country’s gold reserves, the action’s organizers explained to Itar-Tass.

The action is designed to voice support for the Rossiya bank, which is creating a precedent and can make those who have initiated penalties against Russia to feel sorry about their decision.

The bank’s transition to using exclusively the rouble may prove the Russian currency’s viability and independence in world economy.

“Russia, at its present stage of development, should not be dependent on foreign currencies; its internal resources will make its own economy invulnerable to political wheeler dealers,” the action’s organizers said.

The Russian joint-stock bank, AB Rossiya, decided on Friday that it would work only with the national currency to protect its customers from dishonest actions by foreign financial institutions.

“In order to protect the bank’s customers from dishonest actions by foreign financial institutions AB Rossiya has decided to operate only in the domestic market and exclusively with the national currency of the Russian Federation – the rouble,” AB Rossiya said in a statement released on Friday.

“The bank has already notified some U.S. banks that it is closing its correspondence accounts. Similar notifications have been sent to other foreign financial institutions,” the bank said in its statement.

Despite changes in its work, AB Rossiya will continue meeting its commitments to clients and partners.

“The bank will fulfill its commitments on time and in full volume. The bank does not need financial support for its current operations, including from the state regulator,” AB Rossiya said. The Visa and MasterCard international payment systems stopped servicing the plastic cards of four Russian banks, including AB Rossiya, on March 21 because of their links to sanctioned Russian businessmen included in the United States black list.

The bank Rossiya’s decision to give up foreign currency and start working exclusively with the Russian rouble is a step forward towards converting the Russian economy and banking sector to national currency, Andrei Kostin, the VTB bank president, said in an interview with the Russia 24 TV news channel commenting the decision of bank Rossiya to operate only in the domestic market and exclusively with the Russian rouble.

“We have been moving towards wider use of the Russian rouble as the currency of settlement for a long time. The rouble became fully convertible quite a long time ago. Unfortunately, we have seen predominantly negative consequences of this step so far revealed in the outpour of capital from this country. The influx of foreign investments into Russia has been speculative and considerably destabilizing to our stock markets,” Kostin went on to say.

The VTB chief said that Russia should sell domestic products – from weapons to gas and oil – abroad for roubles and buy foreign goods also for roubles.

“Only then are we going to use the advantages of the rouble being a foreign currency in full measure,” Kostin said, adding that AB Rossiya would form a vital part of the Russian banking system and would closely cooperate with other Russian banks, which would also expand the rouble’s use in settlements.

“A new imperative motive has appeared for that now,” the VTB chief stressed.

“I believe that other credit institutions, enterprises and citizens will be interested in working with bank Rossiya,” Kostin said in conclusion.

Russia “forced” by the sanctions to create a currency system which is independent from the US dollar.  

Russia announces that it will sell (and buy) products and commodities – including oil – in rubles rather than in dollars. The move is towards the development of bilateral.

Putin has been preparing this move — the creation of a payment system in rubles completely independent and protected from the Dollar and the “killer speculations” (e.g. short-selling) of the big Western financial institutions — for a long time.

After sanctioning several Russian banks to punish Russia for Crimea, the Washington politicians were told by the financial power-to-be to step back because obviously, the Wall Street vampires understand that putting Russian banks outside the reach of their blood sucking teeth is never a good idea.

For Wall Street and the city’s financial services, countries like Russia should always have an open financial door through which their real economy can be periodically looted. So Washington announced that it was a mistake to enforce sanctions on all Russian banks; only one, the Rossiya bank shall be hit by sanctions, just for propaganda reasons and to make an example out of it.

It is what Putin needed. Since at least 2007, he was trying to launch an independent Ruble System, a financial system that would be based on Russia’s real economy and resources and guaranteed by its gold reserves. No  tolerance for looting and financial speculation: A peaceful move, but at the same time a declaration of independence that Wall Street will consider as a “declaration of war”.

According to the Judo strategy, the sanction attack created the ideal situation for a “defensive” move that would redirect the brute force of the adversary against him.  And now it’s happening. Bank Rossiya will be the first Russian bank to use exclusively the Russian ruble.

The move has not been done in secret. On the contrary. A huge golden ruble symbol will be set up in front of bank Rossiya headquarters in Perevedensky Pereulok in Moscow “to symbolize the ruble’s stability and its backing by the country’s gold reserves,” the official agency Itar-Tass explains quoting the bank officials.  

In fact, the officials  are very clear on their intention to punish the western speculators that have been looting their country for a long time: 

“Russia, at its present stage of development, should not be dependent on foreign currencies; its internal resources will make its own economy invulnerable to political wheeler dealers.”

This is only the first step, declared Andrei Kostin, the president of VTB, another bank previously sanctioned: 

“We have been moving towards wider use of the Russian rouble as the currency of settlement for a long time. The ruble became fully convertible quite a long time ago. Unfortunately, we have seen predominantly negative consequences of this step so far revealed in the outflow of capital from this country. The influx of foreign investments into Russia has been speculative and considerably destabilizing to our stock markets.”

According to Itar-Tass, Kostin was very precise and concrete:

“Russia should sell domestic products – from weapons to gas and oil – abroad for roubles and buy foreign goods also for rubles….Only then are we going to use the advantages of the rouble being a foreign currency in full measure.”

Putin himself lobbied for the new siystem in meetings with members of the Upper House of the Duma, the parliament, on March 28, overcoming the last doubts and indecisions: “

“Why do we not do this? This definitely should be done, we need to protect our interests, and we will do it. These systems work, and work very successfully in such countries as Japan and China. They originally started as exclusively national [systems] confined to their own market and territory and their own population, but have gradually become more and more popular…”

Alea Iacta Est!

see: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/putin-calls-for-creation-of-banking-payment-system-20140327-00598#ixzz2xQIi0AgY

see: http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/725832)

The Turkish opponents of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his beleaguered government have claimed that a distressed Erdogan may try to start a conflict with Syria and even invade Syrian territory. The Republic People’s Party (CHP) and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, have even warned the Turkish military not to attack Syria. According to the CHP and Erdogan’s other opponents, the aim of a Turkish invasion of Syria by Erdogan is to invoke patriotic sentiments domestically. The aim of a conflict with Syria is to manipulate the Turkish population for electoral reasons, they have warned…

Turkey is slated to hold municipal elections on March 30, 2014. Prime Minister Erdogan’s declining Justice and Development Party (AKP) is nervous about the Turkish municipal elections. The AK Party is afraid that it will perform badly.

A series of events have taken place which have given credence to the arguments and accusations against the AKP leadership. The first starts with Ankara’s claims that it was concerned about a historic relic inside Syrian territory known as the Tomb of Suleiman Shah. As a result of the purported and questionable threats by the Syrian anti-government forces against the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, Turkey authorized its troops on March 16, 2014 to enter Syrian territory to protect the historic site.

The historic figure’s crypt is located inside Syrian territory. On the basis of an agreement signed by France and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1921, before Syria became an independent republic (and the Ottoman Empire was officially dissolved), Suleiman Shah’s grave is considered Turkish territory. Turkish troops have been stationed there as guards since that time to protect the historic site.

Following Ankara’s proclamation that it would defend the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, Turkey downed a Syrian military jet on March 23, 2014. The downing of the Syrian jet signaled the escalation of tension between the AKP government and the Syrian government. That, however, was interrupted by a shattering political scandal tied to YouTube.

The conversations of Turkish officials discussing how to manufacture a pretext to invade Syria were leaked through YouTube on March 27, 2014. The YouTube videos are analogous to the Ukraine regime change leak of the US State Department’s Assistant-Secretary Victoria Nuland. The Turkish leaked conversations also fit into the patterns of an internal struggle inside Turkey under which the conversations of Erdogan and Turkish officials had been leaked earlier.

The Downing of a Syrian Aircraft by Turkey

If the claims of Erdogan’s Turkish opponents are factual, what do they disclose about the shooting of a Syrian military jet by the Turkish military in late-March 2014? Ankara originally claimed that the Syrian aircraft had violated its airspace alongside another Syrian warplane that reversed course after Turkish jets were scrambled. The Turkish government also alleged that it gave four warnings to the Syrian military jet before shooting it down, but the Syrian government responded by saying that Ankara was categorically lying and that the Syrian jet was on a combat mission inside Syrian airspace over the Latakia District.

The General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces released a statement about the incident near the Syrian-Turkish border. The Turkish military statement is an omission of guilt that supports what the Syrians have said. Putting a shadow of doubt on Ankara’s claims that its airspace was violated, the Turkish military affirmed that the Syrian warplane crashed 1.2 kilometres inside Syrian territory. The statement of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces says that the Syrian aircraft went down at «1,200 meters to the south of the border on the Syrian territory in Kasab region.»

The geography of Kasab is important. It is a predominately-Armenian northern town near the Turkish border that is situated in the Governate of Latakia and its constituent Latakia District. Although Latakia Governate is mostly known for being the Syrian province with a high concentration of Alawites, it has a diverse population and its northern part is inhabited by many Christian Armenians. Towns like Esguran and Karadash are populated by ethnic Armenian. Kasab is also a name to remember; it will be mentioned again by other sources. The reports around the Syrian town paint the picture of some type of Turkish operation in the area and new push to open a new front in Syria or to reinforce the northern front.

It is also worth noting what the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said about the downing of the Syrian jet by Turkey. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is no friend of the Syrian government. It has supported regime change in Syria and has been caught fabricating vast amounts of information about the Syrian conflict just to promote the anti-government militias and ideas promoting regime change in Damascus. Despite its anti-government position, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also contradicts the AKP government’s claims about downing the Syrian jet for violating Turkish airspace. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has stated that the Turkish military «targeted a Syrian fighter bomber as it struck areas of the northern province of Latakia» while the Syrian military plane was engaged in an attack on the anti-government insurgents.

Regardless of the facts, Prime Minister Erdogan and his government have gone out of their way, in their characteristic wind-baggery, to threaten a «heavy response» against the Syrians. Days after the Syrian aircraft was shot down by the Turkish military, Ankara also started a rhetorical campaign to portray a picture of itself as a victim that was only reacting to provocation. The AKP government claimed that (1) Turkish warplanes were scrambled previously to prevent a Syrian aircraft from violating Turkish airspace and (2) that the Syrian military had been continuously harassing Turkish military jets patrolling their own Turkish airspace by intimidation, through putting  a radar lock on the Turks for targeting or firing purposes. Two points should be clarified about the latter Turkish grievance about the radar lock: it has no legal bearing nor does it signal any aggression against Turkey by the Syrians. Unlike frequency jamming, locking onto a target with a radar tracking system is not an act of aggression or a violation of sovereignty.

Ankara’s grievance was purely rhetorical and contrary to the facts about defensive military procedures. The units that are the target of any radar lock may become aware they are being monitored by a defensive tracking system that could fire on them, but this is not an offensive move. The radar locking is clearly a defensive stance on the part of Damascus which the Syrians and any other country have the right to do.

What Syrian units were doing with the Turkish jets is a clear indicator that Syria does not trust the Turkish government whatsoever. The Syrian military monitors Turkish warplanes inside Turkish airspace as a security precaution. The reasons for this are that the Syrians believe that Turkish warplanes could violate Syrian airspace or conduct some type of mission against Syria at any given moment.

A Turkish Offensive in the Governate of Latakia?

Focus must turn to the Tomb of Suleiman Shah now. Away from Latakia Governate and the Mediterranean coast, this mausoleum is located in the northern part of the Aleppo Governate of Syria. Before the downing of the Syrian military jet, Prime Minister’ Erdogan’s AKP government had repeatedly said that it was worried about the safety of the historic crypt.

Suleiman Shah was a Central Asian tribal chieftain from Merv, which is located in modern-day Turkmenistan. What makes him significant is that he was the grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. This is why Suleiman’s tomb has historical importance to Turkish history and to Turks.

Despite the three years of fighting, the Turkish-guarded historic site was never threatened by either the government or insurgent camps inside Syria. Ankara, however, begun claimed that it was afraid that its own insurgent allies in Syria would attack the historic site. Thus an alarm was sounded by the AKP about the safety of the mausoleum. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu even held a conference from Van to address his government’s concerns about the relic’s safety.

Foreign Minister Davutoglu, however, went beyond the airing of concerns from Turkish authorities. Davutoglu vowed that Turkey would retaliate without the slightest hesitation to any attack on the Tomb of Suleiman Shah. He also clarified that Turkey had made preparations to intervene if the site or the Turkish guard unit stationed there should come under any form of attack. Vatan, a Turkish newspaper, quickly outlined that what Davutoglu meant was that Turkey was preparing to send troops across the Syrian border into Aleppo.

Threats in the form of a video against the historic site in Aleppo Governate were uploaded on YouTube days later. In the uploaded video the anti-government insurgents fighting in Syria warned the Turkish government that Ankara had a few days to surrender the historic site or that they would alternatively destroy it. The AKP used this to support its newest pretext for intervention into Syria. The video was uploaded on March 21, 2014.

In the same timeframe as the downing of the Syrian military jet, it was also reported by Turkish sources with varying degrees of emphasis that the Turkish Armed Forces had sent military ground units into the Syrian town of Kasab and its environs. Some sources said that the Turkish units were illegally escorting anti-government insurgents into Syrian territory, that wounded insurgents were also being taken back to Turkish military field hospitals (similar to the ones that Tel Aviv has setup in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the insurgents), and that the Turkish military was getting involved in expanding the combat zone in Syria.

Erdogan and the Turkish government were clearly planning something alongside the entire Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey has militarily helped the insurgents in their armed offensive on Kasab and Latakia District against the Syrian military. The downing of the Syrian aircraft was part of the Turkish support for this operation against Syria. The anti-government forces inside Syria would claim that they captured and secured government-controlled town of Kasab during this time period too.

In the United States, the Armenian Bar Association would send a letter of distress to the US government on March 25, 2014. The group would demand that the Obama Administration condemn the Turkish military incursion into Kasab. Members of the Armenian community would blast Turkey as being legally responsible for the violence in Syria and for the hardships and deaths of ethnic Armenians in Kasab and the Governate of Latakia.

Leak Wars: Erdogan, Davutoglu Caught Red Handed like Nuland, Catherine Ashton?

Bombshell revelations were made shortly after. Leaked conversations between Turkish officials about their plans in Syria were released. The leaks were made through two YouTube videos that were uploaded on March 27, 2014. One video was a little over seven minutes long, while the other was about nine minutes long.

Before this, Prime Minister Erdogan had been facing a steady stream of leaks exposing his government’s backdoor dealings and activities. Erdogan and AKP officials have blamed the Gulenists, an influential international movement run by a US-based Turkish preacher, for the previous leaks. Although the latest leaks could possibly be part of the internal conflict between Erdogan and the Gulenists inside Turkey, they could also be the work of a foreign intelligence agency.

Leaks of US and European Union officials have proven the increasing efficiency that divulging the secret conversations of governments has on exposing the underlying agendas of Washington and its cohorts. The leak of US Assistant-Secretary Victoria Nuland and US diplomat Geoffrey Pyatt illustrated how the goal of Washington in Ukraine had been regime change in Kiev and installing Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the prime minister of Ukraine. A later leak involving Catherine Ashton being told by Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet that the head doctor for the Euromaidan protesters expressed views that Yatsenyuk and lead opposition politicians could have been involved with the killing of civilians also put into serious question the narrative being peddled by the US, Canada, and the European Union about the protests in Kiev.

The Turkish leaks illustrate that Turkish authorities have been planning on manufacturing an incident with Syria. The basis for this could have and could be political motivations aimed at securing an AKP victory in the Turkish municipal elections being held at the end of March. The leaks revealed that, during a conversation, Foreign Minister Davutoglu tells Hakan Fidan, the chief of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT), that an attack could help them.

Ahmet Davutoglu says, the «Prime Minister said that in the current conjuncture of time, this attack [on the Tomb of Suleiman Shah] must be seen as an opportunity for us.» Davutoglu is positing the use of an incident at the historical mausoleum as a pretext for a Turkish incursion into Syria. It remains to be seen if he was talking about the upcoming municipal elections strictly or if he could have been talking about the insurgent’s military offensive in northern Syria or even something else.

Hakan Fidan’s response, however, goes further. The MIT boss responds to Davutoglu with the following proposal: «I will send four men from inside Syria, if that is what it will take. I will make up a reason for war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey. We can also prepare a direct attack on the Tomb of Suleiman Shah if necessary.»

Suleiman Shah’s Tomb: Where Ottoman History’s Start is Where Neo-Ottomanism Ends

The reaction of the Turkish government to the leaks was quick. AKP authorities have said that the leaks are manipulated to paint the dialogue in a malicious way to undermine their government and Turkey. The AKP has called the leaks a serious threat to Turkish national security. As a result the Turkish government quickly blocked all YouTube use and access inside Turkey. This was done so that the Turkish population could not get access to the leaked conversations.

Several things needed to be analyzed and reflected on. The timing of the leaks, released only days before the March municipal elections in Turkey, is worth reflecting on. So are the assertions by the AKP that there is a conspiracy to topple the Turkish government.

Regardless, the unraveling events bring new life to the «neo-Ottoman» failures of Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu. Their visions of Turkey as an imperialist power have crumbled and the final nails are being hammered into its coffin. Some would argue that their neo-Ottomanism was really «pseudo-Ottomanism» the whole time. The two and the AKP have been slowly digging their own political graves through their Syria policy.

In a case of historical irony, Turkish history may in conceptual terms start at the Tomb of Suleiman Shah whereas Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s seems like it may start its ending there. There is a lot of grumbling in the lower ranks of the AKP about Erdogan. He has lost a lot of popularity, even among AKP loyalists. The municipal and regional elections are a litmus test for Prime Minister Erdogan and his AK Party. If the AKP does badly, Erdogan and his close associates will face an internal revolt in the AKP. This is why the March 2014 elections are so important for them and why it is not  unfathomable that they would create a new crisis with Syria for the sake of protecting their political careers.

A Response to the Events in Ukraine?

This entire scandal is more than a Turkish-style case of «Wag the Dog.» The consequences are unpredictable and could lead to escalation. They also come at a time where there is a US and NATO buildup on the western borders of Russia and Belarus in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea.

The Eurasian chessboard is in motion. The events in Syria and Turkey should not be viewed in a vacuum from other events in the broader world as if they are unrelated to one another. The pieces are moving on the geopolitical chessboard. Some type of confrontation between Turkey and Syria could very well be an answer to the events in Ukraine and Crimean reunification with Russia. In other words, a Turkish conflict with Syria may not merely be a ploy to help the AK Party during the March 2014 elections alone.

Additionally, the leaks further expose the involvement of the Turkish government in supporting the insurgency in Syria. Whatever remaining doubts that members of the AKP grassroots had that the AKP leadership is not corrupt, should go flying out the door. AKP leaders are not the pious Muslims they portray themselves as, they are conniving businessmen and liars that hide behind faith.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Lieutenant-General Yasar Guler is also part of the leaked conversation between Davutoglu and Hakan Fidan. Lieutenant-General Guler describes that what was being discussed between the Turkish officials was the ignition of a war between Turkey and Syria. In context of what was being discussed, he recommends during the conversation that Turkey increase its combat support for the insurgents inside Syria by making additional deliveries of weapon ammunition to their fighters.

Before these leaks, in January 2014, a scandal was caused when Turkish law enforcement personnel stopped an undercover MIT truck heading to Syria secretly. The MIT truck was filled with weapons for the insurgent fighters killing civilians and trying to topple the Syrian government. An embarrassed AKP claimed that “supplies” were merely being delivered to Syrian Turkmen and then refused to say anything more citing national security for the secrecy.

As a result of the increasing global public cognizance about the nefarious role of the Turkish government in destabilizing Syria, Turkey’s own collaborators and allies have been publicly distancing themselves from Prime Minister Erdogan and the AKP slowly — at least in part. Ankara should take note: there are now reports with unnamed officials from places allied to Turkey that are washing their hands clean of the actions of Turkey — making it sound like Turkey has been a maverick supporting Al-Qaeda with no US or NATO involvement.  These same people will not hesitate to abandon Turkey after it does their dirty work in the Black Sea or Middle East for them.

The original version of this article was published by the Moscow-based Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF).

Obama’s Speech on Ukraine: Vocal Juggler at Work

March 29th, 2014 by Oriental Review

International media chime on Wednesday’s speech of the US President Barack Obama in Brussels made us download and scroll down the transcriptThe overall impression: too many controversial statements and logical faults to take it seriously.

Examples:

- He started nicely with “…each of us has the right to live as we choose, the belief that power is derived from the consent of the governed and that laws and institutions should be established to protect that understanding.” – The undesired truth is that Crimeans have never accepted Kievan governors as the authoritative powers and switched the sides immediately when the situation favored them. Trying to find any kind of Moscow’s hand in people’s uprising in Crimea (or any other Ukrainian region) is a strategic mistake committed by the American policy-makers;

- “It is in response to this tragic history that in the aftermath of World War II, America joined with Europe to reject the darker forces of the past and build a new architecture of peace.” – A very strange assertion given direct American and British involvement in bringing Hitler to power in Germany, his appeasement, setting against Soviet Union etc;

- “Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident, that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.” – as Vladimir Putin said last week, “it is good that they eventually recalled that there is such thing as international law”. Taking into account Kosovo adventure, unlawful ousting and assassination of Muammar Qaddafi, and the result of the referendum in Crimea (96+% for reunification with Russia), Obama’s statement is just beyond absurdity;

-  “Together, we have isolated Russia politically, suspending it from the G-8 nations and downgrading our bilateral ties. Together, we are imposing costs through sanctions that have left a mark on Russia and those accountable for its actions.” – transatlantic differences on the issue of sanctions against Russia is a commonplace. A sober look at the NEO-G7  reveals that it is a club of decrepit former metropolis with no serious economic might and political leverage. The only thing they still enjoy is the indulgence and tinsel respect by the rest of the world (based on out-of-dated and ephemeral phobias). Sanctions would cause ZERO damage to Russian industries and individual assets but significantly consolidate Russian political class. This round of political judo is still to be properly evaluated by the West.

- “Together, we are going to provide a significant package of assistance that can help stabilize the Ukrainian economy and meet the basic needs of the people.” – announced sums and conditions of the IMF loans to Ukraine are mortifying to say the least. Social turmoil on the eve of IMF-imposed drastic cuts of public spending in Ukraine is already threatening to sweep away incumbent puppets-in-power in Kiev.

969321_294553067360127_845462323_n- “…the Russian people will recognize that they cannot achieve the security, prosperity and the status that they seek through brute force.” – Zigmund Freud is laughing in his grave. Obama might have been talking about the United States? The least argument Russia had for Crimea was military supremacy. The most notable fact is that even the Ukrainian military in Crimea had strong pro-Russian sentiments. At the beginning of political crisis in Ukraine the number of Ukrainian and Russian troops in Crimea was almost equal: 18,000 for Ukraine, around 20,000 for Russia. The “blockade” was performed without a single victim. After Crimea reunified with Russia last week only 1500 (!) Ukrainian soldiers returned to Ukraine, while 16 000 (!!!) have taken an oath to Russia and joined the Russian army. Could it be done by a “brute force”? You decide.

- “Russia has resisted diplomatic overtures” – Russian Foreign Minister had a countless number of meetings with Secretaries Kerry and Hague as well other European and international counterparts in the last weeks  to promote Russian initiative on the establishment of a support group for Ukraine. Russian abstention to interact with the interim Ukrainian administration is quite logic: they lack legitimacy, do not represent any significant popular movement in Ukraine but ultra-nationalist thugs, totally dependent on the Western power groups.

- “Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors.” – FALSIFICATION (!). There was NO referendum in Kosovo. Kosovo’s provincial assembly did hold a referendum on the possibility of secession in 1991, but it was not done with UN backing, nor did the US or anyone else even recognize the result. Albania was the long state to recognize the vote, and it was never cited as justification in NATO’s 1999 war. The only other referendum to take place in Kosovo came in 2012, under Obama’s watch. In that vote, 99% of Kosovar Serbs in several northern districts voted against being part of an independent Kosovo. As with the 1991 vote, the US rejected its validity.

But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.” – well, it is even inconvenient to comment. A complete trash. The latest briefing on the situation in the war-torn failing state of Iraq is here.

It is absurd to suggest, as a steady drumbeat of Russian voices do, that America is somehow conspiring with fascists inside of Ukraine but failing to respect the Russian people. ” – the facts tell for themselves – Ukrainian ultranationalists are funded and controlled by the US intelligence till now.

Finally, another correct phrase: “No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong.You are talking about your own propaganda machine, president Obama! Just switch it off!

Dr. Joshua Landis, internationally recognized Syria expert and founder of Syria Comment, linked to the photo below on his Twitter account today (3/29). Landis commented: “Al-Qaida’s flag now flies on the Mediterranean Sea” -presumably in acknowledgement of the historic precedent this sets.

The Syrian rebels are in the midst of a new coastal offensive in Northwest Syria – a region that has historically been a stronghold of government support. This offensive has the full backing of Turkey and other NATO countries, including the United States.

The Kassab border crossing with Turkey, recently under rebel control, has become an open access point for Al-Nusra and other terrorists. Video footage has recently emerged, confirmed as authentic by multiple Syria experts, of Al-Qaida affiliate terrorists flowing freely into Syria from the Turkish side of the border.

It is not merely that the Turkish authorities have failed to seal off the border, but that Turkey is actively engaged in a rear support capacity for Al-Qaida operations in Syria. Last week, Dr. Landis also pointed to the following on his Twitter account: the below photo posted by Turkish journalist Ali Ornek with the caption, “Injured militants cross the border & taken to hospital with cars allegedly belongs to Turkish intelligence.”

According to last week’s leak of Turkish officials discussing Syria war plans, Turkey was set to potentially invade Syrian territory based on the pretext of fighting ISIS and other Al-Qaida groups. In short, Turkey would lay blame for a terrorist attack launched from Northern Syria on the very rebels it is currently letting flood through border crossings such as Kassab.

While the leaked discussion was acknowledged as authentic by the Erdogan government, and this open admission of a false flag planned attack is everywhere in Turkish and Middle East press, it got buried with remote reference at the end of a news week in the U.S. – most articles merely emphasized the YouTube ban enacted by Turkey a result of the leak.

The below photo is the beautiful Armenian Christian town of Kassab, recently “liberated” by Al-Qaida affiliated forces, with the backing NATO countries.

Embedded image permalink

Multiple reports and photos are circulating of beheadings, church desecrations, and the raising of Al-Qaida flags over churches and public buildings. Kassab residents are telling international reporters that initial heavy shelling, which kicked off the rebel operation, came from the Turkish side of the border.

The Armenian Christian residents also accuse Turkey of full collaboration with the rebels. The town has now been completely liquidated of its Christian inhabitants. MSN UK reports:

The clashes led most of Kassab’s estimated 2,000 residents to flee some 35 miles to Latakia city, emptying out a village that boasted a Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant church.

This is textbook genocide. The Armenian inhabitants of this region are not politically active – they are in a sense long-term refugees settled in Northern Syria as a result of the infamous 1915 Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Turks. Are we witnessing a renewed Armenian Genocide by proxy?

At the very least, this day, March 29, 2014, will go down in history as the day Al-Qaida waved its flag victorious on the Mediterranean Sea under NATO’s watch.

Brad Hoff served as a Marine from 2000-2004 at Headquarters Battalion, Quantico. After military service he lived, studied, and traveled throughout Syria off and on from 2004-2010. He currently teaches in Texas.

In a devastating exposure of the criminality of the US-led proxy war in Syria, Turkish officials have been caught planning an attack on their own forces to manufacture a pretext to attack Syria.

This is the content of a leaked audio recording, posted to YouTube, of a meeting between top Turkish diplomats and intelligence officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT). At one point in the meeting, these officials discuss the possibility of organizing an attack from inside Syria across the Turkish-Syrian border, or on the Tomb of Suleiman Shah. Under the 1921 Treaty of Ankara between Turkey and France, then the colonial power in Syria, this tomb is a piece of sovereign Turkish territory inside Syria, guarded by Turkish forces.

Davutoglu says: “The prime minister said that in the current conjuncture, this attack [on Suleiman Shah Tomb] must be seen as an opportunity for us.”

Fidan replies: “I’ll send four men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey. We can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

Turkish officials responded to the leak by attempting to suppress it, banning access to YouTube inside Turkey. They did not contest the authenticity of the recording, however. Instead, in a speech in Diyarbakir, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the leaking of national security meetings as “immoral.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called the recording “partially manipulated” and a “wretched attack” on Turkish national security.

The leak is an unanswerable indictment of the war on Syria led by Washington and the European powers. Recklessly arming Islamist opposition militias linked to Al Qaeda in a semi-covert dirty war for regime-change in Damascus, the Western powers have devastated Syria and created fertile ground for the type of provocations exposed by the leak.

The leak provides evidence of a conspiracy to attack a state that has not attacked Turkey—implicating Turkey, a NATO member state, in crimes against peace, a violation of international law for which Nazi officials were hanged at Nuremburg after World War II.

In this, the conduct of the Erdogan regime is not substantially different from that of the leading NATO powers. A decade after Washington launched the 2003 war in Iraq based on lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, it tried to launch a war with Syria based on false claims that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons. NATO powers nearly attacked Syria on this pretext last September, even though similar accusations in May had fallen apart when UN officials stated that the poison gas had been used by the US-backed opposition.

Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) is turning to military provocations as it considers attempting to rally internal support by launching a war. It faces sharp losses in communal elections tomorrow amid an economic and export slowdown driven by recession in Europe. It also confronts continuing protests over its repression of last year’s Gezi Park protests.

Tensions between the AKP and other sections of the ruling elite, including the army brass and the CIA-linked Islamist Gülen movement, are intensifying. Some reports suggest the leak was the result of spying operations within the Turkish state by the Gülen movement or its allies.

Erdogan’s foreign policy has become increasingly aggressive and incoherent. After the Egyptian revolution began, he abandoned his “zero problems with neighbors” policy and positioned the AKP as a model for an Islamist-led Middle East, backing the Syrian war despite its unpopularity in Turkey. This policy collapsed after last July’s US-backed coup in Egypt ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, and Obama in September stepped back from military strikes against Syria.

The Western imperialist powers themselves have turned on the AKP, issuing various hypocritical criticisms of Erdogan, including over the Turkish military’s recent decision to shoot down a Syrian fighter jet. One European official told Al Monitor that it was part of a policy of backing Islamist opposition militias inside Syria, which he called “a stupid move by the Turkish side.”

“Turkey picked up the strategy of helping these radicals. This cannot be reversed now,” he told Al Monitor. “The bombing of the Syrian [MIG-23 fighter jet] was for helping these radicals.”

Since the Erdogan regime “picked up” the “stupid” strategy of arming Al Qaeda forces from the CIA, it only underscores the criminal character of NATO policy in Syria. NATO officials indicated that their main objection to Turkey’s moves to launch a war with Syria was that it would distract from their campaign to back the ultra-right regime they recently installed in Ukraine and isolate Russia.

A NATO source told Al Monitor: “In next week’s NATO foreign ministers meeting [on April 1 and 2]… I assume that people will directly share their concern with Minister Davutoglu over Turkish behavior. They will probably give the message that they do not want to be dragged into the Syrian quagmire while the Ukraine issue is keeping them busy at this stage.”

No one warned, however, of the vast and dire implications of a Turkish decision to launch a war with Syria. Such a war would threaten to escalate into a conflagration involving Turkey’s NATO allies and Syria’s main backers, Iran and Russia, as nearly happened last September.

Underlying this silence is the fact that, in Turkey as in the imperialist states, the ruling elites use war as a tool to divert attention from social and political tensions for which they see no solutions. This state of affairs was brought out particularly clearly by later passages in the leaked Turkish tape.

The undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feridun Sinirlioglu, complains: “National security has been politicized… All talks we’ve done on defending our lands, our border security, our sovereign lands in there, they’ve all become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”

Later, another official adds: “Do even one of the opposition parties support you in such a high point of national security?… In what matter can we be unified, if not a matter of national security of such importance? None.”

As they discuss a major military escalation with unforeseeable consequences for Turkey and the world, the officials themselves seem deeply demoralized about the war in Syria and unclear on what they are trying to achieve. They describe the arming of Islamist opposition militias, a US-led strategy in which the Erdogan regime plays a major role, as a deadly threat to their own interests.

Sinirlioglu says: “There are some serious shifts in global and regional geopolitics… That ISIS [an Al Qaeda-linked opposition militia in Syria] and all that jazz, all those organizations are extremely open to manipulation. Having a region made up of organizations of a similar nature will constitute a vital security risk for us.”

Later on, Foreign Minister Davutoglu appears to complain that Turkey did not mount a major attack on Syria earlier: “The year 2012, we didn’t do it in 2011. If only we’d taken serious action back then, even in the summer of 2012.”

US President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia Friday, trailed by leaks to the Washington media suggesting that the US government had decided to escalate its intervention in the civil war in Syria. Press reports cited the ongoing conflict with Russia over Ukraine as a key factor in impelling the White House to change course in its attacks on Syria, a key Russian ally.

The visit to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, is Obama’s first to the Middle East since his administration was forced to back away from threats to bomb Syria last September in the face of widespread popular opposition and significant divisions within the US political establishment and with major US allies.

Since then, members of the Saudi royal family have made blunt public criticisms of US policy, both in relation to the Syrian war and the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran. Obama’s visit was the latest in a series of US efforts to patch up relations and shore up the dominant US position among the oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf region.

Hours before Obama’s plane landed in Riyadh, the Washington Post published a commentary by its well-connected foreign policy columnist David Ignatius, headlined “Obama appears ready to expand covert assistance to Syrian opposition.” Ignatius, the son of a Vietnam-era secretary of the Navy who has close ties to top CIA officials, is a frequent conduit for communiqués from the military-intelligence apparatus.

The column begins: “The Obama administration, stung by reversals in Ukraine and Syria, appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition, deepening US involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war. This stepped-up assistance program is likely to be discussed during talks Friday between President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah.”

Citing “knowledgeable officials,” Ignatius gave an outline of the program as follows:

• Doubling the number of Syrian fighters to be trained at US-run camps in Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

• Designating the Central Intelligence Agency, rather than the military, to run the training program and give it a “counterterrorism” focus, directed both at the Assad regime in Syria and the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant organization.

• Giving US permission to Saudi Arabia to supply a limited number of anti-aircraft missile launchers, known as manpads, on a trial basis and with a remote shutdown mechanism installed, for use against helicopters and low-flying planes.

• Barring aid to three “rebel” groups: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Ahrar al-Sham. Qatar, which has aided these groups, has agreed under US-Saudi pressure to stop doing so.

• Funneling assistance to rebuilding local police and border security forces in areas where the “rebels” have displaced the Assad regime.

Ignatius concluded: “The rationale, bluntly stated, is that to reach an eventual diplomatic settlement in Syria, it is necessary now to escalate the conflict militarily.”

This column was widely cited in press accounts Friday and its content was confirmed by an unnamed “US official” who spoke with the Associated Press. The AP report said Obama “is considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to the Syrian opposition” and that “Saudi Arabia would be likely to cheer a decision by Obama to allow the portable missile launchers into Syria.”

The AP noted that this was a significant shift in the US position: “As recently as February, the administration insisted Obama remained opposed to any shipments of manpads to the Syrian opposition. The US has been concerned that the weaponry could fall into the wrong hands and possibly be used to shoot down a commercial airliner.”

The Wall Street Journal reported “Saudi hopes” that manpads would be authorized, and quoted an unnamed “senior administration official” who said, “We have been working for the last several months to increase our coordination with the Saudis and to more effectively distribute assistance to the opposition. The president’s trip comes in the context of this closer cooperation.”

The trip was prepared by a series of earlier meetings, including visits by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to Riyadh, and last week’s visit to Washington by Prince Salman bin Sultan, the Saudi deputy defense minister, who is in charge of arming the rebels in Syria, for talks with Hagel and CIA Director John Brennan.

A Syrian “rebel” spokesman who visited Washington at the same time, Hadi al Bahra, told the Journal that while there had not yet been a final decision on supplying mandpads, “We all expect a decision after President Obama visits Saudi Arabia, which is in favor of increasing [rebel] capabilities.”

The Washington-based magazine Foreign Policy reported March 24 that the State Department was about to resume delivering tens of millions of dollars in assistance to the Syrian “rebels,” including ambulances, pickup trucks and communications gear, as well as packaged military meals and medical kits. This is in addition to small arms and ammunition supplied through the CIA and heavier weapons supplied by the Gulf monarchies.

This so-called “nonlethal” aid was suspended in December after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized control of warehouses where supplies were being stored. According to Foreign Policy, “leadership and organizational changes within the rebel forces’ umbrella group, the Supreme Military Council, has led Washington to reopen the aid spigot.”

The timing of the renewal of aid—coinciding with the US-backed coup in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea in response—makes it clear that the Obama administration sees Syria as an arena where it can do additional damage to Russian interests, disrupting the tacit US-Russian agreement of last September, when Obama called off threatened air strikes in return for a Russian-brokered plan for the supervised destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The other key issue in the US-Saudi talks is the ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear energy program. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on Air Force One that Obama would emphasize that a nuclear deal with Iran would not alter US opposition to Iranian activities in the Persian Gulf and Iran’s support for Assad and the Hizbollah movement in Lebanon. “Those concerns remain constant and we’re not in any way negotiating those issues in the nuclear talks,” he said.

After a series of speeches and remarks by Obama in Brussels, the Hague and the Vatican, where he postured as an advocate of democracy, human rights and economic equality, such pretenses will be abandoned in the talks with the 89-year-old Saudi monarch, who heads one of the few remaining absolute despotisms on the planet, where no one outside the ruling family has any rights at all.

There will be no discussion of the repressive internal regime maintained by the Saudi monarchy, or its own military incursions, such as the 1,000 troops sent into Bahrain in 2011 to suppress prodemocracy protests against the local dynasty.

Earlier this month, according to one report, the Saudi government issued a decree making it a crime to “call, participate, promote or incite sit-ins, protests, gatherings or collective statements for any purpose or in any form, or anything that could affect the unity and stability of the kingdom by any means.”

The Saudi government has also criminalized membership in the Muslim Brotherhood, equating it to Al Qaeda. The Interior Ministry, in an action that demonstrates the contradictions in US-Saudi policy in Syria, issued a decree imposing severe penalties on Saudis who might volunteer to fight as part of the Syrian “rebel” groups. The concern was that these militants might return to Saudi Arabia and take up arms against the monarchy.

Having lost eighteen of nineteen elections, their chances of taking power or replacing the government through electoral channels …are virtually nil, and so what I think they’ve decided on as a strategy is to create chaos, insecurity, and especially engage in violence that cuts the link between the government and the people.

- Professor James Petras

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There is a long history of US covert intervention throughout the world in order to overthrow governments which seek to put forward programs or other initiatives which benefit their own citizens over the interests of US-based corporations.

So for instance, in 1953, when the elected Prime Minister Mossadeq of Iran moved to renationalize the country’s oil reserves, thereby undermining the interests of the British controlled Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the CIA in concert with Britain’s MI6 engineered a coup to oust him and install the brutal Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The coup plot included bolstering pro-Shah forces and organizing anti-Mossadeq protests. [1]

Likewise in Guatemala in 1954, the CIA plotted the overthrow of the elected President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán following his initiation of socio-economic reforms, interpreted by the US as ‘targetting directly against American interests in the country.’ [2][3]

Perhaps most famously, the CIA directed the coup in Chile which toppled a democratic government and installed a brutal dictatorship in 1973.

As anti-government protests continue to wreak havok in Venezuela, also no friend of US imperial interests, it is compelling to wonder if the world is witnessing a familiar pattern of foreign interference.

Direct military interventions are becoming increasingly unpopular, as witnessed by the failure to galvanize a planned US coordinated attack on Syria last year.

Is the US now implementing a covert ‘plan B’ in Latin America to achieve their foreign policy goals?

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a geo-political analyst, award-winning author, and research associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization. He recently travelled to El Salvador as an international elections monitor to observer that country’s election process. In our conversation, Nazemroaya talks about the links between the right-wing Salvadoran party ARENA, and the opposition in Venezuela. He also elaborates on the challenges of establishing self-determination in Latin American countries already so dominated by US economic and military interests. Likewise, he asserts the situation is more complex than the simplistic left-right divide embraced by other geo-political analysts.

James Petras, Bartle (Emeritus) Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University is absolutely convinced that the events currently sweeping Venezuela and its beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro are US-backed. He believes that should the protesters prevail, Venezuela could be on the path to fascism. Petras, also a frequent contributor to the Global Research website presents his analysis in the final half hour.

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CDT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the 
Progressive Radio Network
 in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

Notes:

1) BBC, August 20, 2013, “CIA documents acknowledge its role in Iran’s 1953 coup”; http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23762970

2) http://216.12.139.91/docs/DOC_0000919933/DOC_0000919933.pdf,

3) Doyle and Kornbluh, The National Security Archive, “CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 Documents”; http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB4/

 

Some more thoughts on the leaked tape from a meeting in the Turkish foreign ministry which is only very selectively reported in “western” media. A video with recorded voices and English text is available as is the seemingly complete text in two parts.

The setting of the recording is this:

The voices of the illegal recording believed to belong to Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Gürel. According to the information obtained from sources, the recording consists of a chat between four officials in Davutoğlu’s office before the commencement of the official meeting with the participation of more civil and military bureaucrats in another room at the Foreign Ministry.

It is not clear when exactly the meeting happened. It would fit the situation late last year or early 2014.

The major points from my view:

  • Turkey has delivered 2,000 trucks of weapons and ammunition to the insurgents in Syria.
  • There are plans for false flag attacks on Turkey or Turkish property to justify an attack from Turkey on Syria.
  • The Turkish military has great concerns going into and fighting Syria.
  • The general atmosphere between these deciders is one of indecisiveness. Everyone seems to be unclear what Erdogan wants and is waiting for clear orders from above.
  • U.S. military has shortly before the meeting presented fresh plans for a no-fly one over Syria.

Then there is the fact in itself that this tape and others leaked. Internal government communication in Turkey and personal communication of Turkish official has been thoroughly compromised. This will hinder future decision making and will erode any trust Turkish government allies may have in it.

It is somewhat astonishing how “western” media avoid the content of the leaked tape. An AP report on it makes a lot of the youtube blocking the Turkish government ordered in reaction to the tape. Of the recording itself the AP only mentions this:

The four are allegedly heard discussing a military intervention in neighboring Syria, a sensitive political issue in Turkey, although the context of the conversation is not clear.

The Washington Post filed that AP report under Technology. This is an incredible disservice to its readers.

The Guardian report based on Reuters is not any better:

The move by the TIB came hours after an anonymous YouTube account posted a leaked audio recording allegedly of a confidential conversation between Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, undersecretary of the foreign ministry Feridun Sinirlioglu and deputy chief of the general staff, Yasar Gürel, discussing possible military action in Syria.

There is no mentioning at all of the false flag attack. The Wall Street Journal comes somewhat nearer to the truth:

… a leaked recording published anonymously on the platform puported to reveal a conversation in which Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief and a top general appear to discuss how to create a pretext for a possible Turkish attack within Syria.

For once kudos to the NYT which at least touches one point but leaves out the other important ones:

… the officials were heard discussing a plot to establish a justification for military strikes in Syria. One option that is said to have been discussed was orchestrating an attack on the Tomb of Suleyman Shah …

German media did not do any better.

A NATO ally is planning a false flag attack on its own territory which would implicate NATO Article 5 and other NATO countries’ forces and the media do not even touch the issue? This is ludicrous.

Related to the Syria issue is another thinly sourced trial balloon, the tenth or so, by the unofficial CIA spokesperson David Ignatius in the Washington Post:

The Obama administration, stung by reversals in Ukraine and Syria, appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition, deepening U.S. involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war.

Details of the plan were still being debated Thursday, but its likely outlines were described by knowledgeable officials: …

It follows the list of issues that have been discussed on and on over the last three years, more CIA training for insurgents in Jordan, more weapons, maybe some MANPADs. Ignatius source is here seems to be the CIA friends in the Syrian opposition:

The expanded program would “send a clear message to the Assad regime that there is no military solution to the struggle,” according to a March memo to the White House from the opposition. Assad “has no incentive to talk” now, the memo argued, because he thinks he is winning.The rationale, bluntly stated, is that to reach an eventual diplomatic settlement in Syria, it is necessary now to escalate the conflict militarily. This has been a hard pill for Obama to swallow, but prodded by the Saudis, he seems to have reached that point.

There are so many caveats in here – “appears to have decided”, 2still being debated”, “seems to have reached that point” – that I do not believe a word of it. The loudly announced, by Ignatius and others, attack on south Syria has yet to appear and the halfhearted attack by the Turkish supported Jihadists in the north seems to be stuck.

I do not anticipate any bigger action by Turkey or the U.S. especially as the such action right now would likely lead to harsher reaction by Russia.

The United States often stands virtually alone, save for the company of its colonies like Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, as well as other settler-colonial states like Canada, in opposing UN resolutions critical of Israel.Israel did not return the favor today by backing a resolution the US feels very strongly about.

The UN General Assembly passed resolution A/68/L.39 condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

on Twitter

UN Gen.Assembly Resolution defending #Ukraine‘s territorial integrity adopted. 100 for, 11 against, 58 abstentions pic.twitter.com/XqqBu5oslY

— Melissa Kent (@KentUNCBC) March 27, 2014

As the final tally shows, 100 countries voted in favor, 11 against and 58 abstained on the resolution, which was sponsored by Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.

The United States, predictably, voted in favor, Russia against, and China abstained.

But Israel was a no-show, not voting at all. Perhaps it was because Israeli diplomats are on strike.

That would be a convenient excuse. But surely even the Israeli diplomats’ union would make an exception for a vote that Israel’s strongest backer – the Obama administration – feels is absolutely critical, as these fervent tweets by US ambassador Samantha Power indicate:

on Twitter

Today’s UN resolution made it clear: the world won’t accept #Russia’s illegal annexation of #Crimea. #UnitedforUkraine

— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) March 27, 2014

on Twitter

#Russia’s actions endanger not just the people of #Ukraine, but the international system as a whole. The U.S. stands #UnitedforUkraine.

— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) March 27, 2014

Uncomfortable precedent

Perhaps Israel was disturbed by the language of today’s resolution, which “Calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” and to “refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”

Israel, of course, remains in flagrant violation of dozens of similarly worded UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions including Security Council Resolution 465 of 1980, deeming Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and its settlements on occupied land to be illegal.

That resolution declared that “all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.”

It also called “upon all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connexion with settlements in the occupied territories.”

Israel lying low

Today’s no-show at the UN is only the latest instance of Israel, a serial annexer of other countries’ lands, trying to evade having to give a position on Crimea.

Earlier this month, a Jewish-Ukrainian MP expressed frustration at Israel’s “silence on Crimea.”

The MP, Oleksandr Feldman, said he was disappointed at what The Times of Israel termed “a rather toothless statement the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem released …. reportedly after American pressure.”

Israel expressed “great concern” and urged “diplomacy” but said absolutely nothing supporting the Obama administration’s strident denunciations of Russia’s move.

Israel, apparently, has a enough of a sense of irony not to condemn Russia – and perhaps set a precedent for itself.

The US, by constrast, continues to shamelessly impose sanctions and issue threats regarding Russia’s absorption of Crimea, while at the same time financing and shielding Israel’s continued annexation, occupation and colonization of Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian land.

The Venezuelan opposition and much of the media use the term “peaceful protests” to distinguish gatherings of protesting students and other young people from the more violent actions including vandalism and shootings carried out by those outside of the university community.

“Peaceful protests,” however, is a loaded term that serves to plant doubts about the intentions of the Chavista government. In the first place, the actions of the police and National Guard are portrayed as a violation of the constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate at the same time that the government is blamed for failing to get the “violent” protests under control. In the process, Venezuela is depicted as virtually a failed state or, as opposition leader Leopoldo López put it in the title of his March 25 New York Times op-ed article, “a failing state.” Another outlandish assertion that makes its way into the media is that the “violent” protesters are actually Chavista infiltrators intent on discrediting the opposition. Consequently the violence has absolutely nothing to do with the peaceful protests and the opposition in general.

 

Barricades setup by “peaceful protests” are removed by people living in Las Vegas de Táriba, Táchira state.

 The Chavista discourse sometimes plays into this deceptive line of reasoning in an attempt to isolate the radical fringe of the opposition. In appealing to the mainstream opposition group the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) to join the government-sponsored “Peace Dialogue,” President Nicolás Maduro and other Chavista leaders sometimes reinforce the distinction between the “peaceful” and “violent” protesters.

Protests Range from Nuisance to Fatalities

However the term “peaceful protests” is misleading if not deceptive. In the first place, nearly all of the thousands of opposition protests that have taken place over the last six weeks in Venezuela have been illegal and would not be tolerated in any democratic nation throughout the world. At best, the “peaceful protests” consist of blocking traffic lanes of major avenues, resulting in vehicle backups for miles often forcing thousands of people to lose an hour or more of their time. In addition, the “peaceful protests” sometimes include barricades, fires, and the dispersing of oil on lanes used by motorcyclists. In this sense the distinction between the “peaceful protests” and the violent ones is blurry.

In another blurring of differences, the opposition’s slogan “No More Deaths” leaves the impression that peaceful protesters have been the main victims of the violence, thus glossing over the fact that among the 36 fatalities, 6 are members of security forces, others are Chavistas, others are innocent bystanders, some are peaceful protesters and others are violent ones. Of course all 36 deaths are equally tragic, but the opposition discourse plays down the fact that many of the wounded and dead were engaging in violence. One report provided by the radio station Alba Ciudad 96.3 FM stated “We can observe that much of the international media, in their eagerness to discredit the Venezuelan government and label it murderous, assure that all of the dead are students or members of the opposition assassinated by government security forces, a claim we have proven to be completely false.” The report went on to claim that only five of the deaths were at the hands of security forces. See: “Conozca los 35 fallecidos por las protestas violentas opositoras en Venezuela.”

The defense of the “rights” of the peaceful demonstrators include statements by human rights advocates that in a democracy civil disobedience is perfectly legitimate and protesters have the right to take to the streets. However, in the first place, a distinction needs to be made between disruption for disruption sake and marches of protesters who use streets rather than sidewalks due to the large number of participants. In the second place, the objective of responsible civil disobedience is to make a statement, not to cause disruptions. I have observed acts of civil disobedience in the United States, one involving the Reverend Jesse Jackson at Yale University in New Haven in which the protesters were quickly rounded up and hauled off to jail. In another rally that I witnessed at Yale, protesters against Apartheid in the 1980s had previously reached an agreement with the municipal authorities and accepted that they would be jailed and fined for their actions. There was actually no “bad feelings” between the city authorities and the protesters and the details were planned ahead of time to minimize public inconvenience. This is a far cry from what is happening in Venezuela. In many if not most cases, the number of protesters do not exceed 50 people. The question can thus be asked: Why don’t they use the sidewalks?

There is another area of convergence between the peaceful and violent protesters which is a further justification for prosecuting both. Although the opposition sometimes denies this, or tries to play it down, the protesters of both groups are calling for regime change as embodied in their main slogan “la salida” (“exit”). Some opposition leaders spuriously claim that they are merely demanding the “resignation” of President Maduro and that change of government can be accomplished within the framework of the constitution. Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López, for instance, in his recent New York Times article, stated “a change in leadership can be accomplished entirely within a constitutional and legal framework.” These statements are deceptive. If Maduro were to resign, National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello would assume the presidency, a sequence which would not at all be to the liking of the opposition. This claim to legality is a replica of the April 11, 2002 coup when the opposition asserted that President Chávez had resigned and Pedro Carmona was merely “filling a vacuum” and thus acting in a democratic fashion. Not only was the allegation of Chávez’s resignation a blatant lie, but the procedure that followed was in complete violation of the constitution. Indeed, Carmona ended up decreeing the virtual abolition of the constitution itself.

The opposition and much of the national and international media claim that the “peaceful protesters” are demonstrating against concrete problems such as insecurity, scarcities and inflation. But the protesters have failed to put forward any specific proposals to correct these problems. Their sole aim at this point is regime change, as leaders such as María Corina Machado and López himself have explicitly stated on occasion. This is not to deny that opposition leaders have a hidden agenda of specific changes which they intend to implement once in power.

Regime Change By Any Means Except Elections

The demand for regime change on the part of both the “peaceful” and violent protesters would not be tolerated in any democratic nation in the world, beginning with the United States. The accusation, for instance, that the Communist Party U.S.A. advocated “the overthrow of the government” was the justification for jailing hundreds of party members during the McCarthy period in the 1950s. The assertion, however, was misleading since the Communists were not calling, or making preparations, for the overthrow of the government but only felt that it would inevitably someday occur. Nevertheless, Communist leaders felt the full weight of the law at the time. More recently, the FBI monitored the “Occupy Houston” movement on grounds that some protesters allegedly advocated “the overthrow of the government,” as has been revealed by transparency advocate Ryan Shapiro. Advocacy of regime change in non-democratic countries is even more perilous as shown by the recent death sentences handed down by the heavily U.S.-supported Egyptian government to 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In short, the rhetoric divide between peaceful and violent protests have served the interests of the opposition. Thus, for instance, opposition governors and mayors take advantage of this distinction in order to cover up their failure to check disruptive activity in their jurisdiction. The media, for its part, uses the binary construct in articles on the alleged excesses of security forces, such as the ones recently published in El Tiempo of Puerto La Cruz on March 25 headlined “National Guard Represses Peaceful Protests” and a similar one published in Ultimas Noticias on March 5. Not once in the forty years before Chávez’s advent to power in 1998, did the commercial media use such phraseology. •

Steve Ellner, who has been teaching at the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela since 1977, is the editor of the recently published Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-First Century.

Germany, England, Canada and the U.S. are all vying to become Western centers for the Yuan trade.

Germany

Bloomberg reports today:

Germany’s Bundesbank and the People’s Bank of China agreed to cooperate in the clearing and settling of payments in renminbi, paving the way for Frankfurt to corner a share of the offshore market.

***

The central banks signed a memorandum of understanding in Berlin today, when Chinese President Xi Jinping met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Frankfurt-based Bundesbank said in an e-mailed statement.

Germany’s financial capital prevailed over Paris and Luxembourg in a euro-area race to win trade in renminbi, which overtook the euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade finance in October, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

***

Deutsche Boerse AG, which operates the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, also signed an agreement with Bank of China, expanding a partnership that will make it easier for Chinese issuers and Asian investors to access European capital markets, including stock listings.

***

German companies including Siemens AG, the country’s biggest engineering company, and Volkswagen AG are embracing the renminbi internally as a third currency for cross-border trade settlements.

England

The BBC pointed out Wednesday:

The Bank of England has agreed a deal with the People’s Bank of China to make London a hub for Chinese currency dealing.

The memorandum of understanding, to be signed on Monday, sets out settlement and clearing arrangements for the renminbi, or yuan, in London.

The signing is expected to be followed by the appointment of a London clearing bank for yuan.

62% of yuan payments outside of China already take place in London.

***

Last year the UK and Chinese central banks signed a three-year currency swap arrangement worth 200bn yuan which allows them to swap currencies and can be used by firms to settle trade in local currencies rather than in US dollars.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, this month issued a 1bn yuan bond in London, the first by an international financial institution.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: “Connecting Britain to the fastest growing parts of the world is central to our economic plan.

Canada

The Globe and Mail noted last month:

Two Canadian cities are vying to become North America’s primary centre for trading the Chinese yuan, an effort that has received federal backing amid a broader desire by Ottawa to strengthen ties with Beijing.

***

No city in North or South America has yet developed as a major [yuan] settlement centre.

***

Both Toronto and Vancouver see an advantage in being located in a common time zone with a large number of companies trading with China, be they American retailers or Chilean copper miners. Toronto has sought to seize on its status as Canada’s major financial centre. Vancouver, meanwhile, argues its advantages stems from its existing volumes of trade finance, its substantial Chinese-speaking population and an incentive program that exempts foreign exchange trading from provincial taxes.

B.C. also took a lead in the RMB market in November when the provincial government launched a “dim sum” – or RMB-denominated – bond worth nearly $425-million. It was the first triple-A rated foreign government to do so.

U.S.

The U.S. isn’t ready to cede the North American yuan trade to Canada.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco is also bidding to become a yuan trading center.

The times, they are a changing

NATO Wages Desperate Last Battle in Northern Syria

March 29th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

The small northwestern Syrian town of Kassab, located directly on the Syrian-Turkish border, has turned into a pivotal battleground between Syrian security forces and armed militants backed by the Turkish military. The clashes grabbed headlines last Sunday when Turkey shot down a Syrian warplane conducting airstrikes along the border as the militants crossed over into Syrian territory.

While the Turkish government maintains the Syrian plane entered Turkish airspace, it came down in Syrian territory with its pilot having safely ejected from the downed aircraft and also recovered on Syrian soil. Reuters reported in its article, “Turkey shoots down Syrian plane it says violated air space,” that:

A Turkish F-16 fired a rocket at the Syrian jet and it crashed around 1,200 meters (1,300 yards) inside Syrian territory.

353163Clearly the Turkish government knew Syrian forces were engaging militants Ankara itself was harboring in its territory and any cross-border pursuits carried out by Syria posed no threat to the security of Turkey any more than the cross-boarder pursuits the Turkish government regularly conducts in northern Iraq against Kurdish militants. Instead, it appears that Turkish warplanes were in fact providing air cover for the militants crossing over into Syria.

 More alarming is the fact that the militants have been identified across the Western media as hailing from the US State Department designated terrorist organization Jabhat Al Nusra - Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise. The Wall Street Journal’s Middle East RealTime reported in a post titled, “Latakia Offensive Stirs Dark Memories for Armenian-Syrians,”that:

When hardline Islamist rebels took over swaths of Latakia province this week, it provided them with their first outpost on the Mediterranean Sea. 

The military offensive was symbolic for several reasons: rebels from al Nusra Front taking over northern parts of Bashar al Assad’s hometown province while the Turkish air force shot down a regime war plane trying to bombard the rebel advancement, as it flew near their shared border. Nusra is al Qaeda’s sanctioned offshoot in Syria.

A NATO member providing air support for Al Qaeda incursions into a neighboring country could not be a more egregious violation of national sovereignty or international law.  Yet Turkey has apparently not stopped there in seeking to escalate tensions with Syria. A recently leaked conversation between the head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, and Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, reveals Turkey’s plans to stage a false flag attack on Turkey itself to provoke war with Syria.

The International Business Times reported in its article, “Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript of Leaked Syria ‘War’ Conversation Between Erdogan Officials,” that:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ban of YouTube occurred after a leaked conversation between Head of Turkish Intelligence Hakan Fidan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu that he wanted removed from the video-sharing website.

The leaked call details Erdogan’s thoughts that an attack on Syria “must be seen as an opportunity for us [Turkey]“.

In the conversation, intelligence chief Fidan says that he will send four men from Syria to attack Turkey to “make up a cause of war”.

Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yaşar Güler replies that Fidan’s projected actions are “a direct cause of war…what you’re going to do is a direct cause of war”.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said the leaked recording of top officials discussing the Syria operation was “partially manipulated” and is a “wretched attack” on national security.

In the leaked video, Fidan is discussing with Davutoğlu, Güler and other officials a possible operation within Syria to secure the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire.

The astounding revelation has been all but buried by the Western media who has instead intentionally focused solely on Turkey’s banning of Facebook and Twitter to cover up what it only refers to as “corruption.” Turkey’s use of a self-inflicted attack to justify direct military involvement in Syria risks triggering a greater regional conflict involving Turkey and by extension, NATO’s primarily Western membership – a scenario the West has been seeking almost as soon as the conflict in Syria first started in 2011.

Western intervention, even if limited in the north of Syria via Turkey, would allow for the creation of Western occupied “buffer zones” within Syrian territory, long desired by the West since at least as early as 2012 by US policy makers, particularly those among the corporate-funded Brookings Institution from which many of America’s military adventures have been designed.

The idea of establishing a “buffer zone” is meant to look like a knee-jerk reaction to violence along the Syrian-Turkish border and was described in detail by the Brookings Institution in their March 2012 “Middle East Memo #21″ “Assessing Options for Regime Change” where it stated specifically (emphasis added):

“An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.”

BrookingsSyriaRegimeChange

The Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21, makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.  click to enlarge

Aiding and abetting Al Qaeda, providing armed terrorists with air support, and planning to intentionally provoke a war with Syria through a premeditated, self-inflicted  and now fully revealed attack designed to frame Damascus – all carried out in plain view as the world looks on illustrates the dangerous desperation the West now finds itself in as its designs for global hegemony take a turn for the worse.

While Turkey stands to take the fall for the recent and blatant serial acts of war against neighboring Syria, its membership in NATO and NATO’s subsequent failure to condemn Turkey for its actions implicates the entire military alliance as complicit. Ironic indeed is the fact that while NATO coddles, arms, and provides air cover for Al Qaeda along the Syrian-Turkish border, it uses the presence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to justify its continued occupation there as well as cross-border raids into neighboring Pakistan.

At each pivotal juncture during the ongoing Syrian conflict, the West has expended heavily its credibility and reputation while straining the “international norms” it has worked for decades to establish. As the West fails at each of these junctures, the momentum it had relied upon so heavily starting in 2011 is further diminished. The battle in Kassab, and the lesser mentioned “Southern Front” along the southern Syrian-Jordanian border that appears to have already collapsed under Syrian counterattacks, appears to be the last battle by NATO and its proxies for Syria.

Syria’s military appears fully capable of stopping the militants flowing over its borders and has exhibited infinite patience against NATO’s provocations. With Turkey revealed to be planning attacks on its own territory to provoke war with Syria, any attempt to actually carry out a false flag attack now would only further weaken both Turkey and NATO’s hand. Even if the West was able to establish “buffer zones” in northern Syria, the price they pay in credibility, reputation, and legitimacy would make any such “victory” Pyrrhic.

As with all empires throughout human history, there is a defining moment when decline becomes irreversible and the demise of an empire imminent. For “Pax Americana” and the elite sitting on Wall Street and in the City of London, that moment might be the Battle for Kassab and the ignominious end of the West’s attempted regime change in Syria.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook’ and Global Research

The Indoctrinated West

March 29th, 2014 by Andre Vltchek

Is it really possible that the European public has no clue what was done to Ukraine? Are the men and women of the continent that lives in hallucination, that it is well educated and well informed, really unaware how its own governments have created and supported that ‘opposition movement’ in Kiev; a movement full of fascists and bigots?

Unfortunately, it is possible, and it is to be expected!

After working in some one hundred and fifty countries, in all the continents, I have finally come to the absolutely clear conclusion: there is no part of the world as brainwashed, so programmed, so indoctrinated, as are both Europe and North America.

There are no people so out of sync with the global reality; people so naively and willing to follow the religious doctrine of market fundamentalism and the self-righteous belief that they, and only they, are the sole guardians of democracy, freedom and virtue, on this planet.

The world is once again in flames, and both Europe and North America (let us please not pretend for one second longer, that the Empire is actually somehow divided between that bad United States and that ‘moderate’ Europe) are bulldozing, demolishing, moving out of their way everything that is still standing straight and proud; everything that is defending those who used to be defenseless, everything and everyone who is dreaming about, and actually building egalitarian and decent societies.

And the great majority of Europeans are clapping. They read their propaganda sheets and they are clapping. And they are engaged in pathetic pseudo-intellectual discussions, (while sipping, Oh! – In such a sophisticated manner, their refined wine and beer), while millions are being murdered by implementing their bigoted ‘interests’.

Entire nations are, again, bleeding, in order to make sure that millions of French or Italian farmers can drive their luxury BMW’s (oh, sorry, in Europe they are not marketed as luxury, but as ‘reliable cars’), consuming enormous subsidies, for producing and often for not producing anything at all.

The subsidies are paid with the blood of African and Asian people.

How many people in poor countries have to die, so some grandma in Germany or the Czech Republic can go to a doctor, for free, again and again, simply because she is lonely or bored staying at home?

Should there be free medical treatment for all? Yes! Yes. It should be free, and for all. But not just for Europeans, while the rest of the world has to pay the going rate!

How many countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America have to be destabilized, so that the Empire can enjoy its privileges? So that the rich there can be even more obnoxiously rich, and even the poorest citizens can afford to live way above those who belong to the middle classes in the countries that are still being plundered by the West?

***

Now, please, I am not trying to be funny and I am not trying to play with words: I am honestly wondering… I am humbly asking: “Are people in the West, particularly in Europe… are they pretending that they don’t know what is happening in Syria, Venezuela, Thailand and now, particularly, in Ukraine? Or have they simply turned into a cynical assembly of brainwashed degenerates?

Where is that fabled diversity? Where is intellectual courage?

Where are huge demonstrations shaking Paris, Rome, Berlin; demonstrations trying to bring down governments that have been destabilizing a huge European nation – Ukraine, while provoking Russia, the nation that saved the world from Nazism and later helped to liberate many African and Asian nations from the claws of colonialism?

Where are those loud voices protesting against the antagonizing Russia? Don’t Europeans know their own history? Russia is not an aggressor; it has been a victim, for at least a hundred years. Russia was attacked by Europe, again and again, and in just one century, tens of millions of Russian people were slaughtered by European fascists, imperialists and ‘democrats’.

Russia was attacked at the onset of the WWI, then again, after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, by a joint invasion of US and UK troops. Russia was also attacked by Czech legions, fighting their way to the front, against the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and getting there by circling the globe). Czech legions occupied almost the entire area surrounding the Trans-Siberian railroad, raping, looting, and murdering indiscriminately as they progressed.

Then WWII came, before which, both France and the UK sacrificed just about everything that stood in the way of the Nazis towards the Soviet Union. And yes, then the war itself took at least twenty million lives. Soviet people vanished in an enormous struggle against Nazism.

Half of my family, of my ancestors, vanished there too, during the siege of Leningrad.

The Cold War was next, and finally that most cynical and Machiavellian act by the West: dragging the USSR into Afghanistan, and destroying it, using jihadi cadres from the Middle East, from South and Southeast Asia.

Finally, the Western puppet – ‘opposition democrat’, Boris Yeltsin – an alcoholic with a clearly decomposing brain, was helped by Western powers, to grab power. And when the Parliament and the Russian people rebelled, Yeltsin sent the tanks in against both Members of Russian Parliament, and the people on the streets. The Western lackey mass media cheered: “Democracy! Victory!”

Thousands of unarmed people died. The 5th Column smashed the Soviet Union to pieces, using lies, using vicious propaganda that came from Washington, London and elsewhere.

And then the West stood suddenly unopposed. It appeared that there was nothing blocking its way, towards absolute control of the world, anymore.

Colonialist nightmares from the past returned. The world became mono-polar. With only one dogma, one ideology, and only one Empire.

And in just a few years after the Soviet Union ‘collapsed’, it became total… Total shit!

***

Is Europe so indoctrinated, is it propagandized to the point that it is really not actually able to recognize, anymore, what their regime has been doing, all over the world?

For years, the West in general, and the European Union in particular, have been destabilizing Ukraine, paying for its ‘opposition’… Wait; damn… what are we talking about? Everybody knows it, right? No? Really? Not everyone?

It is not about ‘proof’ or ‘the avalanche of information’. For years, for decades I have been amassing proof and arguments about the horrendous and unthinkable crimes that the West had been committing on all the continents of the world. I have been painstakingly researching what was going on, sometimes risking my life or ruining my health, sometimes doing it without being supported by anything or anyone… actually, that was the scenario, most of the time.

I was doing it because I believed; I believed like an idiot, I believed day and night, that my findings would shock the world, particularly the West… That it will shame the European and North American dictators… That what I show will enrage the public… That the horrors that I had witnessed all over the world, will finally end… you know: That bloody idiotic fairytale world of mine: “People will see the truth and force the monsters who are ruling them, to stop killing human beings everywhere on this beautiful planet.”

Today, I have to declare, publicly: I was a fool!

I failed to move people, of course! I tried. I even dropped the journalistic style in my writing, and I began writing as a poet, as the novelist that I am.

I did it because I realized that nobody cares only about facts! There are facts everywhere. Everything is documented. Coups all over the world, financed and planned by the US – it is all available, easily accessible. Yet nobody bothers to read about it!

I tried other tactics – novels, films, journalism mixed with poetry. Nothing! Nothing pushed Westerners to the barricades.

Yes, people like me, we are failing to move, to touch, those who are committing crimes against humanity… and also those who are benefiting from enormous global plunder.

Those, mostly well-fed masses, don’t give a shit: in Europe, or in the United States. Their governments and companies rule the world, and at least most of the citizens of those countries – Those that get some crumbs. Their level of understanding, their political awareness is way below those in Africa, Latin America and Asia, those very people who are being constantly robbed and sacrificed.

To know and to understand… that would make many Europeans and North Americans uncomfortable… That would mean having to take responsibility; to be co-responsible for the crimes committed by Western governments and multi-nationals. It would mean, god forbid, to take action.

***

In one recent Reuters article, an author argued that China is watching what Russia is doing. Of course, from the tone of the article, right from the beginning, it was clear that, that what Russia, China, Iran and other countries that disagree with ‘Western-style democracy and capitalism’ are thinking and doing is absolutely wrong.

Without inviting Russian, Chinese or Venezuelan polemicists, the author selected the ‘grievances’ of the world, saying that the West should face criticism, by some, for Kosovo and maybe for Libya… Although such criticism would be wrong…

Such a degree of self-discipline and propaganda would be fitting for German newspapers in the 1930’s and 40’s. And it is becoming the norm in both Europe and North America, as well as in many countries in the ‘developing world’, where information is fully controlled by Western funding, training programs and other means of arm twisting.

The propaganda coming out of Europe is so mighty, so potent, that it has blurred the eyes of even those that live in the former colonies of the West, including China, India and Indonesia.

It is not about Kosovo and it is not only about Libya, damn it!

In Yugoslavia, which I covered intensively from all sides, the West destroyed an entire country, a great country, one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement (Indonesia had already paid the price in 1965, with between one and three million people brutally slaughtered, in an US-orchestrated coup performed by the military and religious cadres).

In Africa, an entire continent screams in pain. Pretty close to ten million people, have been slaughtered in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone since 1995, by Uganda, and Rwanda, on behalf of Western geopolitical interests. DRC has uranium, Coltan, and diamonds… Its people do not matter. The Belgian King Leopold II succeeded in killing ten million people there one hundred years ago, by chopping off their hands and burning people alive in huts.

France is involved in all of its former colonies. It is once again as sickeningly brutal as it was in the past.

Mali, the Central African Republic, and almost all the countries in the area are destabilized and close to total ruin.

The US-UK-Israeli coalition is undermining Somalia, using Ethiopian, Ugandan, Kenyan and Burundian forces. South Sudan, an artificially created entity, with oil but no ability to govern itself independently, is now on the verge of famine and civil war. And it is at the total mercy of the West.

Zimbabwe and South Africa are standing tall against Western imperialism, but in both places, the West directly finances the ‘opposition’, and propaganda viciously smears both nations.

Eritrea is facing a direct embargo. For being what is called – The African Cuba (of course nobody knows anything about Eritrea in Europe, except for some educated Italians).

Even the tiny and prosperous Seychelles, known for royal weddings and honeymoons, is facing an ‘opposition’ groomed from abroad (particularly from the UK), mainly for its free, excellent medical care, and its Cuban-influenced education system.

In both Uganda and Rwanda, brutal and insane fascist regimes are clinging to power, coached openly by people like Tony Blair (advisor to President Kagame).

The Arab Spring has been fully derailed, and in Egypt, a country with powerful labor movements, that have been openly murdered. In the process, thousands of people have died, as pro-Western military and elites have overthrown a democratically elected moderate Muslim government.

The most horrendous religious regimes like those of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, are being pampered and defended by both North America and Europe.

In Latin America, the governments of Honduras and Paraguay have been overthrown; Venezuela has had to face coup attempts and its own brutal ‘opposition’, fully and openly financed by the West. Cuba has survived countless terrorist attacks from the North, and the ‘opposition’ there is also directly financed and supported from abroad.

Bolivia and even Brazil were targeted by the malicious attempts to destroy their left-leaning governments, as is the case with Bolivia, even the geographical integrity of the country has been threatened.

In Asia, things go from bad to worse. Both China and North Korea are being literally provoked, often militarily, from US air force bases located in Okinawa and elsewhere. Countries like the Philippines are being openly pitched against China (PRC) by the US, while Vietnam is also being ‘encouraged’ to antagonize its enormous neighbor.

It goes without saying that the Chinese ‘opposition’ has been financed mainly from abroad, for decades. On the contrary, in pro-Western brutal regimes like Indonesia, the Philippines but also Thailand, the West is paying and helping the military and elites to actually control and if necessary, destroy the genuine opposition.

The ‘opposition’ has been clearly employed to ruin Syria (the West created refugee camps in Turkey and elsewhere, to train and arm the so called ‘opposition’ there), Venezuela, Ukraine and even Thailand. It has also caused some great damage to Russia and China, as well as countless Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The West is directly attacking foreign countries, by arming and indoctrinating thousands of people who are then paid to overthrow governments and political systems.

Not only is it illegal – it actually amounts to an act of war… undeclared, and covert, but war.

Do the citizens of Europe and North America ignorant of the fact that their governments and companies are fighting undeclared wars and committing acts of terrorism all over the world?

And it has been done for decades, with total impunity, it is perfectly well documented and it takes tremendous discipline to overlook it!

I have worked in almost all those places, making films, writing books and reports. I am intimately familiar with what the West has been doing in Venezuela, Syria, Turkey, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda, the Philippines…

I have proof. But have you noticed that proof is, these days, worth nothing? You can come with the most powerful, most damning and shocking proof, but it will move nobody, propel nobody to action… In the West, I mean. In that ‘democratic’ and ‘free’ West!

You can proof that 10 million people were slaughtered, and you will be told: “Thank you… Wonderful! Another cup of coffee?”

***

And even this incomplete but powerful list of horrors that the West is administering all over the world, is not something that could be defined as new.

It is simply a continuation of colonial culture, of plunders and of mass exterminations, of genocides and holocausts, those that have been taking place for many centuries.

Look at the map of the world at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and everything will be clear. The West was basically occupying almost the entire planet.

It was plundering thoroughly all that it controlled. It destroyed cultures, raped women, robbed all that it could get its hands on.

Ever wondered from where all that wealth that allowed Europe to build lavish palaces, theatres, museums, public buildings came from?

Of course it came, and is still coming, from the blood of oppressed people, from their hard labor for a pittance, from their sweat, from their humiliation.

And now, people from India, China, Indonesia, Peru, Nigeria, Senegal – they come to Europe and they sigh in front of those tremendous facades of enormous buildings, in the middle of well-manicured parks, on board fast moving trains.

And some say: “What a civilization! What a wonderful part of the world! Here they respect other human beings. Here they are kind to others.”

Well, it is built from your wealth that evaporated, from the terrible labor of your grandparents, from the rape of your female ancestors, from the cracking of whips on the naked backs of your male ancestors…. It is built on the ruins of your culture, of your civilization. It is all built, because you were left with nearly nothing, and for decades and centuries forced to live in shit…

The majority of people of what is now Latin America vanished! Their religions were destroyed and so were their languages. The Inca people had to obliterate their temples, and from those stones, enormous Christian cathedrals were erected. And they were decorated with gold and silver, dug by once free but now enslaved Incas. In Cusco and Potosi, Quito and Cuenca, everywhere.

Slaves poured out from Africa to Latin America and to North America, as well as to the Caribbean! Entire states in Africa, entire families were ruined, destroyed, uprooted. Human beings were treated like animals, while literary salons in London and Paris were enjoying refined music and perfumes.

Countries like Germany and Belgium performed clear genocides – The Belgians in Congo, Germans in what is now Namibia.

There was no mercy then, as there is no mercy now.

The Christian religion, that outrageous machinery of terror has been part of this for centuries, walking hand in hand with the Conquistadors and Crusaders. Periodically it took the lead in the massacres. The Church had been greedier than monarchies, and it was power hungry, oppressive and brutal.

Christianity, that symbol of Western civilization, brought torture and slavery; it blessed the men and the deeds that murdered millions.

So far, there has been no attempt to declare Christianity illegal because of the genocides it performed, strictly based on crimes against humanity.

***

And this culture is now scalding Russia, China, Venezuela, and Iran – this culture that has murdered billions. And nobody is laughing. No one is rolling on the floor, dying from amusement.

In the Middle East, the Brits bombed and gassed ‘those niggers’ (both Lloyd George and Winston Churchill saw ‘lesser races’ as something worth exterminating, if ‘necessary’), divided nations, manipulated and enslaved them.

‘Divide and rule’ led to horrific consequences later, like the ‘Partition’ of India and Pakistan, or genocide in what is now Bangladesh.

In Asia, just about everything was occupied, plundered and raped, including such enormous areas as the sub-Continent, or China and the archipelago that is now known as Indonesia.

All was neatly divided. French Indochina, British India, and Dutch Indonesia.

Western Empires fought over vast foreign lands and no Europeans protested (as they are not protesting now, against neo-colonialism) against the genocides that were committed by their rulers. Some countries like France ‘successfully’ exterminated a hundred percent of the people on some islands in the Caribbean, and came very close to exterminating the entire population of Rapa Nui in Polynesia.

Rape, looting, murder, have been all over the world. The West still feels that it has the full right to determine who lives and who dies, and who should live which way.

The great Swiss psychoanalyst Gustav Jung described European and Western culture as a ‘pathology’, as an illness. To him, as a doctor, Europe was a patient, a seriously ill one, in constant need to terrorize others, to control, to steal, and to murder.

And Jung was not the only one. J. P. Sartre’s writing on colonialism is as damning and also much more detailed.

But now, after decades of huge propaganda injections, everything is ‘forgotten and forgiven’. But is it? Europeans ‘do not know’ what horrors they have been spreading all over the globe. Westerners in general do not know. They are conditioned not to know. They have eliminated almost all ‘comparative thinking’ in their own continent, and simultaneously in their colonies.

People do not know how to compare, anymore. The media and scholars are discouraged from comparing crimes and brutality. It is obvious why. No continent, no culture, committed such monstrous crimes, performed such horrible and unforgiveable deeds, as Western ‘cultures’ and ‘civilizations’. They committed them and they are still busy committing them. Until this very moment!

***

This essay is just a brief reminder of ‘who is speaking’! Who is pointing fingers at Russia right now, and who is demonizing China, and calling true Latin American democracies – ‘dictatorships’.

One feels like paraphrasing an old Communist slogan, and shouting:

“People of the world who still have some brain left – wake up and unite!”

It is clear that the West is on an offensive: it tries to annihilate all dissent that has grown since the destruction of the old multi-polar world.

But a new, perhaps better, multi-polar world has emerged.

Some parts of it are much more informed and educated about the horrific terror that comes with allowing the West to rule over this world, unopposed.

It is not Russia that is ‘on the wrong side of the history’, as Obama recently declared.

It is the West, clearly and patently. And just to say; that it is not good enough… Not good enough, anymore!

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Like a decade ago with Iraq, Official Washington’s pundits and pols are locked shoulder-to-shoulder in a phalanx of misguided consensus on Ukraine, presenting a false narrative that is taking U.S. policy into dangerous directions.

The American people got a nasty taste of the danger that can come with false narrative when they were suckered into the Iraq War based on bogus claims that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction that he planned to share with al-Qaeda.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers died in the conflict along with hundreds thousands of Iraqis. The war’s total financial cost probably exceeded $1 trillion, a vast sum that siphoned off America’s economic vitality and forced cutbacks in everything from education to road repair. Plus, the war ended up creating an Iraqi base for al-Qaeda terrorists that had not existed before.

President Barack Obama talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice in the Oval Office on March 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But perhaps an even more dangerous problem coming out of the Iraq War was that almost no one in Official Washington who pushed the false narrative – whether in politics or in the press – was held accountable in any meaningful way. Many of the same pols and pundits remain in place today, pushing similar false narratives on new crises, from Ukraine to Syria to Iran.

Those false narratives – and their cumulative effect on policymaking – now represent a clear and present danger to the Republic and, indeed, to the world. The United States, after all, is the preeminent superpower with unprecedented means for delivering death and destruction. But almost nothing is being done to address this enduring American crisis of deception.

Today, Official Washington is marching in lockstep just as it did in 2002-03 when it enforced the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD. The latest case is Ukraine where Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of committing “aggression” to expand Russian territory at the expense of noble ”democratic” reformers in Kiev.

Not only is this the dominant storyline in the U.S. media; it is virtually the only narrative permitted in the mainstream press. But the real narrative is that the United States and the European Union provoked this crisis by trying to take Ukraine out of its traditional sphere of influence, Russia, and put it in to a new association with the EU.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with Ukraine joining with the EU or staying with Russia (or a combination of the two) – depending on the will of the people and their elected representatives – this latest U.S./EU plan was motivated, at least in part, by hostility toward Russia.

That attitude was expressed in a Sept. 26, 2013, op-ed in the Washington Post by Carl Gershman, the neoconservative president of the National Endowment for Democracy, which doles out more than $100 million in U.S. funds a year to help organize “activists,” support “journalists” and finance programs that can be used to destabilize targeted governments.

Gershman, whose job amounts to being a neocon paymaster, expressed antagonism toward Russia in the op-ed and identified Ukraine as “the biggest prize,” the capture of which could ultimately lead to the ouster of Putin, who “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The NED, which was founded in 1983 to do in relative openness what the CIA had long done in secret, listed 65 projects that it was financing in Ukraine, using U.S. taxpayers’ money. In other words, Gershman’s op-ed reflected U.S. policy – at least inside the State Department’s still-neocon-dominated bureaucracy – which viewed the EU’s snatching of Ukraine from Russia’s embrace as a way to weaken Russia and hurt Putin.

‘European Aspirations’

Later, as the Ukrainian crisis unfolded, another neocon, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, reminded Ukrainian businessmen that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations,” implying that the U.S. expected something for all this money.

You might wonder why the American taxpayers should spend $5 billion on the “European aspirations” of Ukraine when there are so many needs at home, but a more relevant question may be: Why is the United States spending that much money to stir up trouble on Russia’s border? The Cold War is over but the hostility continues.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described this thinking in his memoir, Duty,explaining the view of President George H.W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Dick Cheney: “When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.”

As Vice President, Cheney and the neocons around him pursued a similar strategy during George W. Bush’s presidency, expanding NATO aggressively to the east and backing anti-Russian regimes in the region including the hardline Georgian government, which provoked a military confrontation with Moscow in 2008.

Since President Barack Obama never took full control of his foreign policy apparatus – leaving the Bush Family apparatchik Gates at Defense and naming neocon-leaning Democrat Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State – the bureaucratic momentum toward confronting Russia continued. Indeed, the elevation of operatives like Nuland, the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan, gave new impetus to the anti-Russian strategy.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who got his “dream job” last year with the considerable help of his neocon chum Sen. John McCain, has acted as a kind of sock puppet for this neocon-dominated State Department bureaucracy.

Either because he is overly focused on his legacy-building initiative of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal or because he has long since sold out his anti-war philosophy from the Vietnam War era, Kerry has repeatedly taken the side of the hawks: on Syria, Iran and now Ukraine.

On Syria and Iran, it was largely the behind-the-scenes cooperation between Obama and Putin that tamped down those crises last year and opened a pathway for diplomacy – much to the chagrin of the neocons who favored heightened confrontations, U.S. military strikes and “regime change.” Thus, it became a neocon priority to divide Obama from Putin. Ukraine became the wedge.

The Crisis

The Ukrainian crisis took a decisive turn on Nov. 21, 2013, when President Viktor Yanukovych rebuffed a deal offered by the EU and the International Monetary Fund because it would have imposed harsh austerity on the already suffering Ukrainian people. Yanukovych opted instead for a more generous aid package of $15 billion from Russia, with few strings attached.

But Yanukovych’s turning away from the EU infuriated the U.S. State Department as well as pro-European demonstrators who filled the Maidan square in Kiev. The protests reflected the more anti-Russian attitudes of western Ukraine, where Kiev is located, but not the more pro-Russian feelings of eastern and southern Ukraine, Yanukovych’s strongholds that accounted for his electoral victory in 2010.

Though the Maidan protests involved hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians simply eager for a better life and a less corrupt government, some of the most militant factions came from far-right parties, like Svoboda, and even neo-Nazi militias from the Right Sektor. When protesters seized City Hall, Nazi symbols and a Confederate battle flag were put on display.

As the protests grew angrier, U.S. officials, including Assistant Secretary Nuland and Sen. McCain, openly sided with the demonstrators despite banners honoring Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era fascist whose paramilitary forces collaborated with the Nazis in the extermination of Poles and Jews. Nuland passed out cookies and McCain stood shoulder to shoulder with right-wing Ukrainian nationalists. [For more on the role of Ukrainian neo-Nazis, watch this report from the BBC.]

On Feb. 20, the violence intensified as mysterious snipers fired on both protesters and police. As police fought back, neo-Nazi militias hurled Molotov cocktails. More than 80 people were killed including more than a dozen police officers, but the U.S. press blamed the Yanukovych government for the violence, portraying the demonstrators as innocent victims.

Official Washington’s narrative was set. Yanukovych, who had been something of a hero when he was moving toward the EU agreement in the early fall, became a villain after he decided that the IMF’s demands were too severe and especially after he accepted the deal from Putin. The Russian president was undergoing his own demonization in the U.S. news media, including an extraordinary denunciation by NBC at the end of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

In the U.S. media’s black-and-white scenario, the “pro-democracy” demonstrators in the Maidan were the good guys who were fired upon by the bad-guy police. The New York Times even stopped reporting that some of those killed were police, instead presenting the more pleasing but phony narrative that “more than 80 protesters were shot to death by the police as an uprising spiraled out of control in mid-February.”

To this day, the identity of the snipers who touched off the conflagration remains in serious doubt. I was told at the time that some U.S. intelligence analysts believed the shooters were associated with the far-right opposition groups, not with the Yanukovych government.

That analysis gained support when a phone call surfaced between Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, Paet reported on a conversation that he had with a doctor in Kiev who said the sniper fire that killed protesters was the same that killed police officers.

As reported by the UK Guardian, “During the conversation, Paet quoted a woman named Olga – who the Russian media identified her as Olga Bogomolets, a doctor – blaming snipers from the opposition shooting the protesters.”

Paet said, “What was quite disturbing, this same Olga told that, well, all the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.

“So she also showed me some photos, she said that as medical doctor, she can say it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened. … So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition.”

Ashton replied: “I think we do want to investigate. I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh.”

Though this exchange does not prove that the opposition used snipers to provoke the violence, it is relevant information that could have altered how Americans viewed the worsening crisis in Ukraine. However, except for an on-the-scene report from CNN with the same doctor, the Paet-Ashton phone call disappeared into the U.S. media’s black hole reserved for information that doesn’t fit with a preferred narrative.

Black Hats/White Hats

So, with giant black hats glued onto Yanukovych and Putin and white hats on the protesters, the inspiring but false U.S. narrative played out in heroic fashion, with only passing reference to the efforts by Yanukovych to make concessions and satisfy the protesters’ demands.

On Feb. 21, Yanukovych tried to defuse the violence by signing an agreement with three European countries in which he accepted reduced powers, moved up elections so he could be voted out of office, and pulled back the police. That last step, however, opened the way for the neo-Nazi militias to seize government buildings and force Yanukovych to flee for his life.

Then, on Feb. 22, under the watchful eye of these modern-day storm troopers, a rump parliament – in violation of constitutional procedures – voted to impeach Yanukovych, who reemerged in Russia to denounce the actions as a coup.

Despite this highly irregular process, the U.S. government – following the lead of the State Department bureaucracy – immediately recognized the new leadership as Ukraine’s “legitimate” government. Putin later appealed to Obama in support of the Feb. 21 agreement but was told the ouster of Yanukovych and the installation of the U.S.-backed government were a fait accompli.

The rump parliament in Kiev also accused Yanukovych of mass murder in connection with the shootings in the Maidan — an accusation that got widespread play in the U.S. media – although curiously the new regime also decided not to pursue an investigation into the identity of the mysterious snipers, a point that drew no U.S. media interest.

And, a new law was passed in line with the desires of right-wing Ukrainian nationalists to eliminate Russian as one of the country’s official languages. New government leaders also were dispatched to the Russian-ethnic regions to take charge, moves that, in turn, prompted resistance from Russian-ethnic citizens in the east and south.

It was in this context – and with appeals from Yanukovych and ethnic Russians for help – that Putin got permission from the Duma to intervene militarily if necessary. Russian troops, already stationed in bases in Crimea, moved to block the Kiev regime from asserting its authority in that strategic Black Sea peninsula.

Amidst this political chaos, the Crimean parliament voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, putting the question to a popular vote on March 16. Not surprisingly, given the failed Ukrainian state, its inability to pay for basic services, and Crimea’s historic ties to Russia, Crimean voters approved the switch overwhelmingly. Exit polls showed about a 93 percent majority, just three points less than the official results.

Russia then moved to formally reclaim Crimea, which had been part of Russia dating back to the 1700s, while also massing troops along the borders of eastern Ukraine, presumably as a warning to the Kiev regime not to crush popular resistance to the anti-Yanukovych coup.

A Divergent Narrative

So, the factual narrative suggests that the Ukrainian crisis was stoked by elements of the U.S. government, both in the State Department and in Congress, encouraging and exploiting popular resentments in western Ukraine. The goal was to pull Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and put it into the EU’s gravitational pull.

When Yanukovych balked at IMF’s demands, a process of “regime change” was put in motion with the U.S. and EU even turning their backs on the Feb. 21 agreement in which Yanukovych made a series of concessions negotiated by European countries. The deal was cast aside in a matter of hours with no attempt by the West to uphold its terms.

Meanwhile, Putin, who was tied up with the Sochi Olympics and obsessed over fears that it would be targeted by Islamist terrorists, appears to have been caught off-guard by the events in Ukraine. He then reacted to the alarming developments on Russia’s border, including the emergence of neo-Nazis as prominent figures in the coup regime in Kiev.

In other words, a logical – and indeed realistic – way to see the Ukraine-Crimea crisis is that Putin was largely responding to events that were outside his control. And that is important to understand, because that would mean that Putin was not the aggressor spoiling for a fight.

If there was premeditation, it was coming from the West and particularly from the neocons who remain highly influential in Official Washington. The neocons also had motive to go after Putin, since he helped Obama use diplomacy to quiet down dangerous crises with Syria and Iran while the neocons were pushing for more confrontation and U.S. military strikes.

But how did the U.S. news media present the Ukraine story to the American people?

First, there was the simplistic and misleading depiction of the pro-EU demonstrations as “democratic” when they mostly reflected the discontent of the pro-European population of western Ukraine, not the views of the more pro-Russian Ukrainians in the east and south who had pushed Yanukovych to victory in the 2010 election. Last time I checked, “democracy” referred to rule by the majority, not mob rule.

Then, despite the newsworthiness of the neo-Nazi role in the protests, the U.S. news media blacked-out these brown shirts because that ugly reality undercut the pleasing good-guys-vs.-bad-guys storyline. Then, when the snipers opened fire on protesters and policemen, the U.S. news media jumped to the conclusion that the killers were working for Yanukovych because that, too, fit with the desired narrative.

The violent overthrow of the democratically elected Yanukovych was hailed as an expression of “democracy,” again with the crucial role of the neo-Nazi militias largely airbrushed from the picture. The unanimous and near unanimous parliamentary votes that followed – as storm troopers patrolled the halls of government buildings – were further cited as evidence of “democracy” and “reform.”

The anger and fear of Ukrainians in the east and south were dismissed as Russian “propaganda” and Crimea’s move to extract itself from this political chaos was denounced as Russian “aggression.” U.S. news outlets casually denounced Putin as a “thug.” Washington Post columnist George F. Will called Putin “Stalin’s spawn.”

Former Secretary of State Clinton cited the Crimea situation to compare Putin to Hitler and to suggest that Putin was intent on recreating the old Soviet empire, though Crimea is only 10,000 square miles, about one-tenth of one percent the size of the old Soviet Union.

And, it wasn’t just that some or nearly all mainstream U.S. news organizations adopted this one-sided and misguided narrative. It was a consensus throughout all major U.S. news outlets. With a uniformity that one would normally associate with a totalitarian state, no competing narrative was permitted in the Big Media, regardless of the actual facts.

Whenever any of the more complex reality was included in a story, it was presented as Russian claims that were then followed by argumentative challenges. Yet, when U.S. officials made preposterous remarks about how uncivilized it was to violate another country’s sovereignty, the hypocrisy of their points went uncontested.

For instance, Secretary of State Kerry denounced Putin’s intervention in Crimea by declaring, “you just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.” But you had to look on the Internet to find any writer who dared note Kerry’s breathtaking double standard, since he voted in 2002 to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq in pursuit of hidden WMD stockpiles that didn’t exist.

This cognitive dissonance pervaded the U.S. press and the political debate over Ukraine and Crimea. The long history of U.S. interventions in foreign countries – almost always in violation of international law – was forgotten, except for the rare occasion when some Russian “claim” about American hypocrisy was cited and then swatted down. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Staggering Hypocrisy.”]

Careerism Prevails

Having worked many years in the mainstream U.S. news media, I fully understand how this process works and why it happens. Amid the patriotic chest-thumping that usually accompanies a U.S. military operation or American righteous outrage over some other nation’s actions, it is dangerous for your career to go against the flag-waving.

But it’s always been my view that such self-censorship is faux patriotism, as much as the happy storylines are false narratives. Even if many Americans don’t want the truth, it is still the job of journalists to give them the truth. Otherwise, the U.S. democratic process is distorted and made dangerous.

Propaganda leads to bad policies as politicians – even when they know better – start parroting the errant conventional wisdom. We’ve seen this now with President Obama who – more than anyone – realizes the value of Putin’s cooperation on Syria and Iran but now must join in denouncing the Russian president and demanding sanctions.

Obama also surely knows that Yanukovych’s ouster violated both Ukraine’s constitution and principles of democracy, but he pretends otherwise. And, he knows that Crimea’s secession reflected the will of the people, but he must insist that their vote was illegitimate.

At a March 25 news conference in the Netherlands, Obama toed the line of the hypocritical false narrative. He declared, “we have said consistently throughout this process is that it is up to the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions about how they organize themselves and who they interact with.” He then added that the Crimean referendum was “sloppily organized over the course of two weeks” and thus a sham.

If Obama were telling the truth, he would have noted that Yanukovych – for all his faults – was democratically elected in a process that was deemed fair by international observers. Obama would have acknowledged that Yanukovych agreed on Feb. 21 to a process that would have allowed for an orderly and legal process for his replacement.

Obama would have admitted, too, that the violent coup and the actions of the rump parliament in Kiev were both illegal and, indeed, “sloppily organized” – and that the U.S. government acted hastily in recognizing this coup regime. But double standards seem to be the only standards these days in Official Washington.

What is perhaps tragic about Obama is that he does know better. He is not a stupid man. But he doesn’t dare go against the grain for fear of being denounced as “naïve” about Putin or “weak” in not facing down “Russian aggression.” So, he reads the lines that have been, in effect, dictated by neocons within his own administration.

I’m told that Obama, like Putin, was caught off-guard by the Ukraine crisis. But Obama’s unwillingness or inability to recast the false narrative left him with no political choice but to join in the Putin-bashing. That, in turn, means that Putin won’t be there to help Obama navigate around future U.S. war plans that the neocons have in mind for Syria and Iran.

Indeed, neutralizing the Obama-Putin relationship may have been the chief reason why the neocons were so eager to stoke the Ukrainian fires — and it shows how false narratives can get people killed.

On March 18, 2014 ISCAP, the highest declassification authority in the U.S., released 84 pages (PDF) of formerly secret information about investigations into the illegal diversion of weapons-grade nuclear material from a Pennsylvania plant into the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons program.  Files now available to the public from IRmep’s ISCAP process include:

4/2/1968 Letter from the Director of the CIA alerting the Attorney General (PDF) about a huge loss of material fromPennsylvania’s Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC). “It is critical for us to establish whether or not the Israelis now have the capability for fabricating nuclear weapons which might be employed in the Near East.”

03/09/1972 FBI memorandum (PDF) “On the basis of the foregoing it must be assumed for the purpose of U.S. national security that diversion of special nuclear materials to Israel by Dr. [Zalman] Shapiro and his [NUMEC] associates is a distinct possibility.”

07/28/1977 Notes of a briefing from CIA’s Associate Deputy Director for Operations Theodore Shackley to the Carter administration National Security Council  (PDF) “I also asked Shackley to get us a rundown on the political aspects—e.g. when were the President and Congressional officials briefed on the Israeli weapons program, on the NUMEC connection, and what were their reactions.  In December, Carter was briefed on the NUMEC problem as President-elect by Bush in Georgia…I do not think the President has plausible deniability.  The CIA case is persuasive…”

08/02/1977 Memo to Carter from Zbigniew Brzezinski ”So far as we know however, (and we have made serious effort to discover it) there is nothing to indicate active CIA participation in the alleged theft…There is a tremendous amount of interest in this issue in Congress…We face tough sledding in the next few weeks in trying to keep attention focused on ERDA’s technical [overall U.S. nuclear material loss] arguments..on the FBI investigations, and away from the CIA’s information.”

All released CIA evidence and former Tel Aviv Station Chief John Hadden suggest the severely undercapitalized NUMEC was “an Israeli [smuggling] operation from the beginning.” Multiple health-related lawsuits have been filed targeting companies that later assumed NUMEC ownership. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers currently estimates its toxic cleanup of NUMEC will cost$500 million.  No damage claims have yet been filed against the Israeli government.

IRmep is a Washington-DC based nonprofit researching U.S. Middle East policy formulation.

by: S. D. Wells

Add it up and what have you got? Genetically engineered food, fluoridated water and pesticides are leading America off a health cliff. Then come the heavy metals, and not the naturally occurring amounts, but the massive chemical overload ingested by humans who do not pay attention to the foods they eat.

Have you had your blood (and tissues where heavy metals quickly settle) tested lately for high levels of arsenic and cadmium? What does your insurance cover regarding this, or do you have “organic food” coverage instead? In a normal world with lots of natural food everywhere, this wouldn’t be a problem, but now insurance should ALL be based on healthy food and doctors helping you monitor and minimize the “damage” from the processed and engineered food that makes you sick. Unfortunately, Western Medicine has it all turned around. Industrial pollution is now commonly found at high levels in conventional food, water and medicine. Here’s a thought:

Doctors should regularly test all patients, before doing anything else, for maximum (set) limits of copper, aluminum, nitrates, mercury and pesticides. Your doctors should test your blood and body tissues for lead and aluminum toxicity when you walk through the door. Children should be tested even more frequently than their parents due to development stages! Let’s get real with all of this right now. Currently, the CDC keeps shifting their position on lead poisoning, unable to pinpoint an amount that’s safe. That’s insane. That’s like trying to determine how much mercury is safe for human consumption, or injection, or whatever else the CDC is “considering” at certain levels. Not even certified organic food from China is safe. Testing for cadmium and aluminum blood toxicity would save millions of people every year from pain and misery, and would spare them from the “disorders” and “diseases” that seem to only plague the USA and the countries that we “help” develop (with GMO food and toxic vaccines).

Fluoridated water is a major source of lead. That’s a scientific fact. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

Thimerosal is a “methyl mercury compound that causes severe, permanent nervous system damage. Mercury is highly toxic to the brain. You should never touch, swallow or inject mercury at any dose. There is no safe dose of mercury! … Even the CDC readily admits vaccine still contain mercury (thimerosal).” [emphasis added]
(http://www.naturalnews.com)

Additives, preservatives and toxic heavy metals in your blood and tissues

Sodium nitrites and monosodium glutamate, or MSG, are both used as flavor enhancers or food preservatives, but each can be dangerous to your health in large quantities. Because of the high potential for toxicity, the federal government regulates how much sodium nitrite is allowed in your food, and the FDA requires that MSG be included in the ingredient list of any food that contains it. Did you know that it’s in your vaccines and flu shots? Yes, MSG. Do you know how much? You do understand that this is much more dangerous, even in lower doses, than food, because it bypasses digestion (and the lungs) and can cross your blood-brain barrier. If you do not understand this in parts per million, listen to the Health Ranger explain it:
(http://tv.naturalnews.com).

Research more about aluminum, mercury and MSG coursing through your veins, your heart, your central nervous system and your brain: (http://www.naturalnews.coml).

Is your doctor examining these issues? Why NOT? If you knew your levels every day for a month, you would probably freak out. If you knew your levels right after getting a flu shot, drinking a gallon of tap water or eating some sushi from China (Fukushima-radiated and industry-polluted), you would understand how “far gone” Western Medicine really is. (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov)

Big Food pushes heavy metals on America

Check out your heavy metal levels in breakfast cereals, and your kids’ too! (http://labs.naturalnews.com)

Check out levels of dangerous, detrimental heavy metals in your drinks, from sports drinks to fruit juices. Be on the lookout! (http://labs.naturalnews.com)

Oh, and what about your protein powders/shakes? Check your lead and cadmium: (http://labs.naturalnews.com).

Heavy metals are being found in USDA-certified organic foods, superfoods, vitamins, herbs and dietary supplements, according to the Health Ranger’s tests in the Forensic Food Lab. Extremely toxic levels of mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and copper are being found. You have to know what NOT to buy first, and then you can perfect your choices of food and supplements!

It’s time to talk to a naturopath about all of this. Reverse the madness. Let food be thy medicine. (http://naturopath.org)

Get your blood, hair, and urine tested

From the Health Ranger, Mike Adams: “Before you can treat metals toxicity, you need to determine what levels of metals you actually have contaminating your body’s tissues.

“As metals toxicity expert Roy Dittman explained in our recent interview, a blood test alone cannot accurately determine your level of metals toxicity. Many metals quickly pass from your blood to your tissues, where they may lodge and cause serious long-term health problems such as:

“• Iron lodged in your heart tissue can cause heart disease.

“• Aluminum lodged in your brain tissue can cause Alzheimer’s or clinical insanity.

“• Mercury lodged in your brain can cause autism spectrum disorders.

“• Lead lodged in your bones can interfere with red blood cell production and even white blood cell production.”

It’s not too late to change your ways for good. Don’t wait for your government or schools to save you from GMOs, heavy metal toxins and pesticides in food. You have to be your own scout. Now get busy!

Sources for this article include:

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://kidshealth.org

http://science.naturalnews.com

Quanto ci costa la «libertà» Nato

March 28th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

«La situazione in Ucraina ci ricorda che la nostra libertà non è gratuita e dobbiamo essere disposti a pagare»: lo ha ribadito il presidente Obama, a Roma come a Bruxelles, dicendosi preoccupato che alcuni paesi Nato vogliano diminuire la propria spesa militare. La prossima settimana, ha annunciato, si riuniranno a Bruxelles i ministri degli esteri per rafforzare la presenza Nato nell’Europa orientale e aiutare l’Ucraina a modernizzare le sue forze militari. Ciò richiederà stanziamenti aggiuntivi. Siamo dunque avvertiti: altro che tagli alla spesa militare!

A quanto ammonta quella italiana? Secondo i dati del Sipri, l’autorevole istituto internazionale con sede a Stoccolma, l’Italia è salita nel 2012 al decimo posto tra i paesi con le più alte spese militari del mondo, con circa 34 miliardi di dollari, pari a 26 miliardi di euro annui. Il che equivale a 70 milioni di euro al giorno, spesi con denaro pubblico in forze armate, armi e missioni militari all’estero.

Secondo i dati realtivi allo stesso anno, pubblicati dalla Nato un mese fa, la spesa italiana per la difesa ammonta a 20,6 miliardi di euro, equivalenti a oltre 56 milioni di euro al giorno. Tale cifra, si precisa nel budget, non comprende però la spesa per altre forze non permanentemente sotto comando Nato, ma assegnabili a seconda delle circostanze. Né comprende le spese per le missioni militari all’estero, che non gravano sul bilancio del ministero della difesa. Ci sono inoltre altri stanziamenti extra-budget per il finanziamento di programmi militari a lungo termine, tipo quello per il caccia F-35.

Il budget ufficiale conferma che la spesa militare Nato ammonta a oltre 1000 miliardi di dollari annui,  equivalenti al 57% del totale mondiale. In realtà è più alta, in quanto alla spesa statunitense, quantificata dalla Nato in 735 miliardi di dollari annui, vanno aggiunte altre voci di carattere militare non comprese nel budget del Pentagono – tra cui 140 miliardi annui per i militari a riposo, 53 per il «programma nazionale di intelligence», 60 per la  «sicurezza della patria» – che portano la spesa reale Usa a oltre 900 miliardi, ossia a più della metà  di quella mondiale.

Scopo degli Stati uniti è che gli alleati europei assumano una quota maggiore nella spesa militare della Nato, destinata ad aumentare con l’allargamento e il potenziamento del fronte orientale. Oggi, sottolinea Obama, «aerei Nato pattugliano i cieli del Baltico, abbiamo rafforzato la nostra presenza in Polonia e siamo pronti a fare di più». Andando avanti in questa direzione, avverte, «ogni stato membro della Nato deve accrescere il proprio impegno e assumersi il proprio carico, mostrando la volontà politica di investire nella nostra difesa collettiva». Tale volontà è stata sicuramente confermata a Obama da Napolitano e Renzi. Il carico, come al solito, se lo addosseranno i lavoratori italiani.

Is it conventional crude or tar sands? That is the question. And it’s one with high stakes, to boot. 

The BP Whiting refinery in Indiana spilled between 470 and 1228 gallons of oil (or is it tar sands?) into Lake Michigan on March 24 and four days later no one really knows for sure what type of crude it was. Most signs, however, point to tar sands. 

The low-hanging fruit: the refinery was recently retooled as part of its “modernization project,” which will “provide Whiting with the capability of processing up to about 85% heavy crude, versus about 20% today.”

As Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Midwest Program Director Henry Henderson explained in a 2010 article, “heavy crude [is] code for tar sands.”

Albeit, “heavy crude” is produced in places other than Alberta’s tar sands, with Venezuela serving as the world’s other tar sands-producing epicenter. So, in theory, if it’s heavy crude that spilled into Lake Michigan, it could be from Venezuela.

But in practice, the facts on the ground tell a different story. As a January 2014 article in Bloomberg outlined, the combination of the U.S. hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom and the Canadian tar sands boom has brought U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil to 28-year lows.

Which brings us to the next question: how does the Canadian “heavy crude” get to BP‘s Whiting refinery to begin with? Enter: Enbridge’s Line 6A pipeline.

Alberta Clipper/Line 6A

Dan Goldblatt, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told DeSmogBlog he wasn’t sure what type of oil was spilled into Lake Michigan from the BP Whiting refinery  — which goes back to why it’s just being referred to as “oil” at this point by officials.

Goldblatt said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be looking into it as part of its investigation.

“Right now they’re more focused on recovery than on what type of oil it is,” Goldblatt said. “That’s a little further down the line.”

When asked about which pipeline feeds the BP Whiting refinery beast, Goldblatt told DeSmogBlog it’s Enbridge’s Line 6A pipeline.

Enbridge Line 6A; Map Credit: Enbridge

Part of Enbridge’s “Lakehead System,” Line 6A stretches from Superior, Wis., to Enbridge’s Griffith/Hartsdale holding terminal in northwest Indiana.

“Lakehead System serves all the major refining centers in the Great Lakes…through its connection with the affiliated Canadian pipeline,” explains Enbridge’s Lakehead System website. “Total deliveries on the Lakehead System averaged 1.65 million [barrels per day] in 2009, meeting approximately…70 percent of the refinery capacity in the greater Chicago area.”

Enbridge’s Line 67 (AKA Alberta Clipper) pipeline serves as the corridor between Alberta’s tar sands and Line 6A. Alberta Clipper currently awaits a capacity expansion permit from the U.S. State Department, which it applied for in November 2012 and needs because it’s a U.S.-Canada border-crossing line.

It was originally approved by President Barack Obama’s State Department in August 2009.

If approved, Line 67′s expansion would morph it from a 450,000 barrels per day pipeline to a 570,000 barrels per day pipeline. Its “full design capacity is 880,000 [barrels per day] of heavy crude oil,” (emphasis mine) according to the expansion application it submitted to the State Department.

Map Credit: U.S. Department of State

Hydrocarbon Technologies, which offers “market insight tools covering all segments of the global hydrocarbons market,” also points to the ties that bind Alberta’s tar sands, Enbridge’s Line 6A and the BP Whiting refinery.

“Once the modernisation project is complete, BP aims to increase the use of Canadian crude from oil sands via the Enbridge [Line 6A] pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois,” explains Hydrocarbon Technologies.

In 2010, Line 6A spilled in a major way in Romeoville, Ill., with 6,050 barrels of oil escaping. An account in oil and gas industry trade publication PennEnergy explains the pipeline was carrying “heavy crude oil.”

“When the leak occurred, the Line 6A was transporting approximately 459,000 barrels per day of heavy crude oil,” the reporter detailed.

The “Dilbit Disaster” Connection

Line 6A is connected to the 2010 spill of over 843,000 gallons of tar sands into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Literally.

When oil arrives at Enbridge’s Griffith, Ind., terminal from Line 6A, much of it continues northeast on the connecting Line 6B pipeline.

Map Credit: Enbridge

That line was the one responsible for the “dilbit disaster,” as coined by InsideClimate News, because it was carrying tar sands diluted bitumen, or “dilbit.” More than three years after that spill, clean up efforts are still ongoing.

“Tar Sands Name Game”

After the 2010 Kalamazoo River, the same debate over what type oil had spilled ensued. Chicago-based investigative journalist Kari Lydersen coined it the “tar sands name game.”

“[L]inguistic gymnastics around the definition of tar sands have a long history,” she wrote. “Industry officials have sought to avoid the increasingly negative connotations of tar sands extraction, which has a devastating effect on boreal forests and produces huge carbon emissions.”

And of course, it’s called “heavy crude” for a reason: it’s heavy. That means it can and will sink in freshwater sources like Lake Michigan or the Kalamazoo River. It did just that in Kalamazoo, making it exceedingly difficult to clean up.

With a drinking water source for seven million people at stake, this “tar sands name game” is one with high stakes indeed.

A Alemanha entrou na guerra contra a Jugoslávia, com pretextos fabricados. A confissão sensacional do polícia alemão Henning Hentz que serviu na OSCE no Kosovo na década de 90 confirmou isso mesmo.

 O motivo em análise é que as fotografias tiradas por Hentz no final de janeiro 1999 foram utilizadas pelo então Ministro da Defesa alemão Rudolf Scharping para justificar a interferência imediata da NATO no conflito do Kosovo. Ele apresentou as fotografias dos militantes mortos em Rugovo como sendo fotos de vítimas inocentes albaneses.

O que realmente aconteceu no Kosovo no final de janeiro de 1999, vários meses antes de a NATO lançar sua operação contra a Jugoslávia?

De acordo com fontes sérvias, mais de duas dezenas de terroristas do Exército de Libertação do Kosovo (ELK) foram mortos em Rugovo, enquanto os media ocidentais insistiram que pelo menos nove das vítimas eram civis. Especialmente, o New York Times que escreveu com a referência a um comandante local, que havia apenas quatro militantes do ELK na aldeia e não sabia nada sobre as outras pessoas. A 29 de janeiro o representante da missão da OSCE, Henning Hentz, estava em Rugovo e compartilhou as suas impressões da visita com a correspondente Iovanna Vukotic (Voz da Rússia) que dá uma imagem real do que aconteceu. Ali ele confirmou que isso não tinha nada a ver com a morte de civis albaneses.

“Nós descobrimos 25 corpos, incluindo 11 num autocarro e alguns outros perto do veículo. Vários outros corpos estavam deitados num celeiro que foi usado como garagem. O território em volta do celeiro estava coberto de neve, porém não havia vestígios. Eu pensei que os corpos tivessem sido levados para lá a partir de outro local, e muito provavelmente, um dia antes do confronto entre a polícia sérvia e militantes do ELK “, disse Henning Hentz.

Na época, o ministro da Defesa alemão, Rudolf Scharping, mostrou apenas algumas das fotos tiradas por Henning Hentz e por algum motivo disse que aquelas haviam sido tiradas por um oficial alemão. Ignorando deliberadamente as fotos que mostravam claramente os cadáveres dos militantes do ELK. Assim, Scharping conseguiu convencer o público de que “os maus”, ou sérvios, mataram novamente albaneses inocentes e provocaram uma onda de refugiados, disse Hentz.

“Para os alemães, isto significava que estariam envolvidos numa operação militar pela primeira vez depois do fim da Segunda Guerra Mundial. A minha impressão é que a situação do Kosovo, foi exagerada. Quando visitei o Kosovo, não havia necessidade de os albaneses deixarem as suas casas em massa. O verdadeiro êxodo começou com o início do bombardeamento. A maior parte do relatório sobre a situação do Kosovo era exagerado e estava sempre contra os sérvios “, acrescentou Henning Hentz.

A limpeza étnica no Kosovo foi usada como pretexto para bombardear a Jugoslávia. E o incidente na aldeia de Rugovo mostra uma vez mais que a campanha de relações públicas contra Belgrado foi organizada utilizando falsificações óbvias. Alegadamente, a NATO começou a pensar numa invasão após o assassínio de 40 civis albaneses em Rachak. No entanto, especialistas que estudaram os relatórios forenses concluíram que não havia provas de que os cadáveres eram de civis, e que eles haviam sido mortos por soldados sérvios.

Esta tecnologia está a ser usada até ao presente. Dando como exemplo, as fotos tiradas no Iraque, em 2003, são usados em transmissões de notícias para mostrar a morte de civis sírios. O efeito dramático das imagens é alcançado com o recurso a programas de edição de imagem. Por exemplo, uma família síria a caminhar nas ruas de uma qualquer cidade, a foto é mostrada com um fundo de edifícios em ruínas. Em última análise o efeito necessário é alcançado. No século 19, um proeminente poeta russo, Kozma Prutkov, disse: Se leres “bufalo” na placa da jaula de um elefante, por favor, não acredites nisso. Na verdade, no século 19, não havia tecnologia para fazer uma mosca de um elefante, nem um genocídio de um assassinato contratado.

 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/nato-s-war-against-yugoslavia-was-based-on-lies/32302

Voice of Russia and Stop NATO

Tradução : Filipe T. Moreira

The United States is a military superpower in economic decline. Consequently, its foreign policy resembles that of the mafia extortionist who “offers protection when it is in fact the only threat in the neighborhood.” Old bullies do not fade away; they must be confronted. “Who will insist on punishing the United States?” – by far the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world, today.”

The United States continues to be the worst and most persistent aggressor on the planet in large part because it has paid no price for its crimes. Our government has acted with complete impunity even as it has ravaged countries as disparate as Iraq, Haiti, and Libya with military force and occupations. It has supported proxies to destabilize an elected government in Venezuela and thwart the will of the people in that country. It has ruined the Iranian economy with harsh sanctions and now seeks to do the same with Russia. America has no shame in asserting its right to intervene anywhere it chooses to on the planet, and to punish any other nation with a mistaken belief that it will be allowed to act in its best interests.

In 2003 the United States invaded Iraq under the pretext of bringing democracy and eliminating weapons of mass destruction. The charge that Saddam Hussein was in possession of WMDs was proven to be a bald faced lie and the intent to uphold democracy was an equally atrocious fabrication. Yet America suffered not at all for its deceit or its role in killing hundreds of thousands of people.

After America’s interference overthrew an elected Ukrainian president, Russian president Vladimir Putin drew a red line around his country. Because he stood up to the bully, the United States has decreed that he must be punished. The G8 nations are now the G7 because the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and France all submitted to America’s demand that Putin be kicked out of their club house. The G8 meeting scheduled to be hosted by Putin in Sochi will now be held at the European Union headquarters in Belgium and will have no Russian presence for the first time since 1998.

The appalling arrogance and bullying of the United States is matched only by the obsequiousness of its allies, who never dare take America to task. They certainly could have used the same logic to toss the United States out of the G8 group after the invasion of Iraq, or the occupation of Haiti, or the destruction of Libya, or the ongoing destruction of Syria, but the big criminal goes untouched. They are both afraid of American power and also complicit in its crimes. Their hypocrisy is matched by their cowardice.

Unfortunately, the United States is the most powerful country in the world and it uses its power to crush anyone who dares to stand in its way and Vladimir Putin is the demon du jour. His government gave temporary asylum to another wanted man, Edward Snowden, who committed the crime of revealing the extent of the American security state. When Obama and other NATO leaders sought to intervene directly in Syria and make their “rebels” victorious it was Putin who stood in their way. When NATO subverted the democratically elected president of Ukraine, Russia’s neighbor to the east, Putin told NATO in no uncertain terms that he was having none of it and that defiance made him persona non grata to the United States and its lackeys.

Who will insist on punishing the United States? Where are the calls for boycotts and sanctions? Of course the G7 nations are often partners in crime but they also know that a wounded predator is very dangerous. The U.S. faces the constant economic crises brought on by collapsing capitalism and uses its muscle to keep others in line. It can prevent other countries from dropping the dollar as a reserve currency or exercising their abilities to sell their resources but it isn’t weak enough yet to be opposed without serious consequence.

In popular vernacular, it can be said that the United States is “gangsta.” Like a mafia extortionist it offers protection when it is in fact the only threat in the neighborhood. Russia doesn’t threaten any of the G7 countries. None of them have any reason to fear Putin but they do have reason to fear the orchestrator of the coups and the occupations unless they go along with the shake down.

Not only is Putin punished for stopping the criminality but America is rewarded for committing the crimes. Sanctions and isolation are meant to turn Russia into another Iran, an energy rich nation unable to sell its energy resources. The ultimate winner will be the United States which will have the dubious distinction of dispatching yet another competitor for influence in the world. It also has the distinction of bringing the world to the brink of catastrophic violence. Even in the cold war era the Soviet Union’s prerogatives were accepted as pragmatic realpolitik. Those niceties are no longer respected and American meddling may bring about the conflict which was feared but not realized in the past.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. 

Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at

Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Get your copy of “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century” on our online store!

What’s the Primary Cause of Wealth Inequality?”, Charles Hugh Smith asks. It’s financialization, which he describes as “the mass commodification of debt and debt-based financial instruments collaterized by previously low-risk assets, a pyramiding of risk and speculative gains that is only possible in a massive expansion of low-cost credit and leverage”.

Wealth inequalities have been rising since the early 80’s, when financialisation began. Unlike the aftermath of the Great Depression of 1929, in which the bottom 90% saw their incomes rise, the 2008 economic crisis brought lower revenues for the same group, Smith writes.

Meanwhile: “The top 1 percent of Americans raked in 95 cents out of every dollar of increased income from 2009, when the Great Recession officially ended, through 2012. Almost a third of the entire national increase went to just 16,000 households, the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent…”

Last week, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its “Society at a Glance” report, which shows the “staggering rise of poverty, hunger, unemployment and social distress in countries throughout the world in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash.” For Andre Damon  this report is a “damning indictment of the capitalist system and the social policies pursued by governments throughout the world.”

“Particularly devastating are the figures relating to the United States, the center of world capitalism, the heart of the financial crisis and the “richest country in the world”—in which poverty, hunger and social inequality have grown more than nearly any other country surveyed.” (Ibid.)

It’s important to understand that the 2008 economic crisis “was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation.” This scheme which enriched the wealthiest and impoverished the rest of us was exposed in The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

“In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The meltdown of financial markets was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the U.S. and its NATO allies.”

The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century edited by Michel Chossudovsky is a collection of texts revealing “a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people’s lives.”

We are still being deceived and lied to. If you wish to understand the Great Depression of the XXI Century, get your copy of the book on our online store.

The book is also available in other formats:

For PDF format, click here

For Kindle edition, click to visit Amazon.com

Special: Global Economic Crisis + Globalization of Poverty (Buy 2 books for 1 price!)

Or become a Global Research member and GET 2 BOOKS! The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century and Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War.

The Haitian government is continuing its push to turn Ile à Vache (Cow Island), off Haiti’s southern coast, into a major tourist development. The island’s 15,000 residents, however, are resisting the move, saying they were not consulted, are not included, and are being uprooted.

This week, Haïti Liberté conducted an interview with Kénold Alexis, a leading member of the Organization of Ile à Vache Peasants (Konbit Peyizan Ilavach or KOPI). He explains why and how the people of Ile à Vache, under KOPI’s leadership, are resisting the Haitian government’s tourist development on the island, and how heavily-armed police are terrorizing and Haitian government officials mistreating the island’s residents.

Haïti Liberté: Earlier this month, Haiti’s Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin said that the Haitian government has not and would not expropriate peasants on Ile à Vache and that those affected would be compensated for any losses. What is your response?

Kénold Alexis: I have to say that the minister is lying. Since the beginning of the project, the Tourism Minister has been lying to us. The project landed on Ile à Vache with the minister. We had only heard talk of the project. They never came beforehand to sit down with the island’s people to tell us what the project entails.

It was when they began to intrude on the peasants’ lands with surveyors and tractors, bulldozing the peasants’ coconut trees, mango trees, and all the fruits they had planted on the island, that was when the peasants began to put their foot down, to demonstrate, to demand explanations about the project. But they never came to sit down with the island’s people to listen to them or to tell them how the project would be undertaken.

HL: So when the government now says that nothing will be done arbitrarily, you don’t buy that?

KA: No, they have been lying to us from the start. Look how this started. They published a decree in the official journal Le Moniteur of May 10, 2013 where they declared Ile à Vache a “zone reserved for touristic development.” They declared the whole island “for public utility.” The peasants were automatically dispossessed by this decree.

HL: What currently is the police presence on the island? KOPI called on the government to withdraw the Haitian National Police’s Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM) from the island. Has there been any sign that they will comply?

KA: After our big Dec. 27, 2013 demonstration with which we demanded an explanation about the project, the Tourism Minister came to sit down with us empty-handed, trying to give us a verbal explanation of the project. We in KOPI asked her to go find the documentation for the project and bring it to us. A huge project like this cannot be presented to us without our reviewing the relevant paperwork.

She left and made a second trip to us bringing the documentation. We asked her to give us about two months for us to read and analyze the documents to see what was good in the project. At that point they said we would have a truce, and all the activity on the island would be stopped. They would not do anything until we called them to tell them how we see the project.

Well, they violated that agreement and our rights. They came and started work on an airport. They began digging in [the township of] Madame Bernard without respecting us.

We therefore had to make a third demonstration on Feb. 7, 2014. After that demonstration, the government’s local interim agent, Fritz César  – who wasn’t even in Haiti, he was in the United States – came and learned that we had organized a demonstration on Feb. 7. He went on the radio an said that we entered, carried out reprisals, and burned things at two hotels [Port Morgan and Abaka Bay Resort] which are in an area called Kay Kòk.

But there was never anything like that. Our demonstration was peaceful, without violence. But on Feb. 8, the government deployed more than 100 BIM agents with assault weapons. Since then, many young men who were in the movement have gone into hiding. They spend their days in the streets, and when the sun goes down, they go home. Up until today as I speak to you, BIM agents are sowing terror day and night, creating great anxiety and fear in the population. They beat people, mistreat people. There are some women who were pregnant, but due to the emotion caused by the BIM, they have begun to bleed, and the bleeding hasn’t stopped. For some other residents, they hear a loud noise and they pee on themselves because they are constantly scared, never having seen men with such big guns.

HL: What is the situation of Jean Maltunès Lamy, who was arrested on Feb. 21? Have the authorities responded at all to the demand of Ile à Vache residents that he be freed?

KA: Jean Maltunès Lamy is a policeman, but he is also the vice-president of the Organization of Ile à Vache Peasants [KOPI]. He was stationed in Port-au-Prince, and they arrested him there most likely due to his position against this project.

As soon as they arrested our comrade Maltunès, the people again took to the streets to demand his liberation, the rescinding of the decree dispossessing peasants of their land, and the withdrawal of the BIM agents from the island, because they have done many wrongs to the peasants here.

HL: Mr. Maltunès Lamy is still being held in the National Penitentiary. Have you any news of how he is doing there, of how he is holding up?

KA: Yes, we get some news of him from his wife who goes to see him in the prison. But we in KOPI have no direct contact with him, and of course in prison he has no phone. But his wife gives us information about him.

He is in a bad state, not well at all. Yesterday we had a meeting with an organization which says it is acting as an intermediary between the government and us in KOPI and the peasants on the island. Well, Maltunès’ wife came to that meeting and it was with tears in her eyes that she told of the bad state he is in. He has children. His father just had an operation and is due to have a second one. Maltunès should be taking care of those things, but instead he is in prison.

HL: What is the next mobilization foreseen on the island?

KA: Presently, we are standing our ground. The people are mobilized. We say that if this project is going to take place on the island, the government will have to kill us all because we are all completely opposed to this project. If this were a development project, we are not opposed to development. We know that development is done with and for people in the community. But this project involves hotel chains, agricultural firms, golf courses.

We have 12 beaches on this island. They took ALL of them, not leaving even one so that residents could take a little dip in the ocean.

In a development project, there is the economic aspect and the social aspect. In this project, which we see they have bundled it up to put on the head of Ile à Vache’s people, we see the economic, but we don’t see the social, because we don’t have running water, electricity, roads, or even latrines. Three-quarters of our people have to do their business on the ground. We don’t have professional schools. We don’t have anything at all. All we have is a national public school right next to where they are making the airport. They say they are making an international airport. There is a national school right next to it where the students are sitting on rocks as the take their classes.

And the international airport we hear they are making is on the eastern end of the island, where there was a natural forest where the peasants used to harvest honey. There was a crab the peasants used to harvest there, above all in the months of May and June. The peasants used to make thousands of dollars from that forest. But now, they have completely destroyed that forest which renders the population of the zone of Baleraz on Ile à Vache completely vulnerable. During hurricanes, it was the forest which protected the residents of Baleraz against the wind and rain.

HL: What kind of solidarity have you received from other Haitians?

KA: We have received solidarity from human rights organizations coming from Port-au-Prince. After Jan. 8, the BIM agents beat up many people with clubs, broke people’s heads, had them rolling on the ground, stuck guns in their ears, and kicked them. Many people were traumatized. Human rights groups like RNDDH [the National Network for Human Rights Defense] came to question people, as did radios like Radio Kiskeya and Radio Vwa Claudy Museau from Aux Cayes.

There was a meeting between the minister with the population. They didn’t want journalists to come. It was just their journalists that they wanted to be there. After they came out of that meeting, even though there was no agreement, no results with us, they said they had reached a deal with us, everything was going well on the island, even though nothing was going well at all! They were coming to impose a development on us by force. We know that development is done with people and for people in the community, but it is with guns that they are forcing development down our throats.

This minister who says that everything is going well, in the first meeting, she said that they were going to displace people and put them in three places: Kay Kòk, Madame Bernard and Point Claire.  They said in those three places they would provisionally put people for six months.

We are determined on Ile à Vache, we are not going to be displaced. We are not going anywhere, because we were born here, we live here, and this is where our umbilical cords are buried.

It is true that they came to take this island from us and put us in some other place. And if you ever see Ile à Vache, you’ll see that it is a virgin island. Whatever tourist comes to Ile à Vache, they always say that Ile à Vache is another country, Ile à Vache is not in Haiti, because you can walk wherever you want, there is no crime. It is with the deployment of the BIM agents that insecurity has come to the island. Previously, people slept where they wanted.

I have a nice house where I am with a beautiful lawn. When it’s hot, I don’t sleep in the house. I just take a rug, a sheet, or a reed mat (nat) and put it on the ground, and then we sleep until the next morning. We don’t have any insecurity.

But the BIM agents have brought insecurity. The population has become fearful and traumatized. There are old folks who have become uncontrollable, they can’t talk. There are even people who have become sick and are lying on hospital beds ready to die because of the BIM agents’ pressure on the island.

HL: When journalists from Haïti Liberté visited last week, they couldn’t find a boat. They were told that the government had paid boat captains 10,000 gourdes ($225) to not take people to the island. What was that all about?

KA: There was a delegation of journalists and human rights people who were coming to the island. The authorities knew the day the delegation was coming and managed to find a way to prevent boats from coming to the island that day. They counted well, but calculated poorly because we in KOPI have our own boat. We went and got those people so they could come and question peasants who have been victims of the BIM.

We take this occasion to let people know, nationally and internationally, that we on Ile à Vache are threatened. People sleep with one eye open. You might go to sleep in your house and wake up to find a BIM agent in your yard with an assault weapon, asking your name and if you are a member of KOPI to arrest you. They are trying to stop this island’s resistance.

Threat to Ukraine’s Jewish Community

March 28th, 2014 by Global Research News

Western governments, the State of Israel and the United Nations casually deny the existence of a Neo-Nazi threat to the Jewish Community in Ukraine.

The issue is not covered by the mainstream media. The Neo-Nazi parties are identified as being “ultra-conservative” or “radical”. They are not, we are told, anti-semitic.

The following initiative by the Jewish community in the US recognizes that Jews in Ukraine are being threatened, without however identifying the role of the interim coalition government, which is integrated by the two main Neo-Nazi parties: Svoboda and Right Sector.

The text of the campaign and poster of the American friends of Kiev are presented for informational purposes only. (GR Editor. M.Ch.)

WE MUST ACT NOW!
Jews from Kiev Odessa and Lvov have recently been attacked, beaten, and stabbed…

After such an amazing rebirth of our people and culture after near total destruction, will we allow anti-semites to force our day schools, yeshiva’s and other institutions to close or operate in fear?



 The British Government seems as determined as ever to pursue its policy of killing badgers to prevent TB in cattle.  This despite the “complete failure” of the pilot culls to reach their targets, the leaked information from the as yet unpublished report from the Independent Expert Panel and the slow but steady fall of the incidence of TB in English cattle due, not to dead badgers, but to tighter testing and cattle movement regulations.

But an increasing number of MPs, from all political parties, are demanding an end to the culls.  The pro-cull lobby counter this with patronising statements about knowing that “this is an emotive subject” and have they considered the poor farmers coping with the devastating effects of bovine TB?

 A silly question.  All those against the culls are aware of the problems of bTB in our cattle and almost all are very sympathetic to those farmers dealing with it in their herds.  But any measures to cut the incidence of bTB must be truly science-based, which the culls have proved not to be.  All resources should go into funding a reliable vaccination scheme for cattle (there is already an injectable vaccine for badgers) and implementing a much stricter testing and bio-security regime, not wasted on ineffective killing sprees.

MPs debate the culls and the search for an effective bTB eradication programme

On more than one occasion MPs have gathered to debate the issue of bTB and badger culls,

The debate in October 2012 was the result of a petition launched by Brian May on the government website.  The rules state that any petition that gets 100,000-plus signatures could be debated by Parliament.  Brian May’s petition got over 300,000 signatures.  The anti-cull MPs won the vote by 147 to 28.  But the very democratic Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has made it clear that votes will not dictate government policy.

A further debate took place in July 2013.  Yet another took place in Westminster Hall last December, in which the Shadow Farming Minister called for any further culls to be put to a vote in Parliament to test their democratic legitimacy.  He said, “There has been no vote whatsoever on the extended culls, which is an affront to parliamentary democracy on so controversial an issue.”

 The latest debate took place on March 13, and there was a marked difference between this and the Westminster Hall debate last December.  This time the anti-cull MPs had really done their homework, pressing for a more effective programme to eradicate TB in cattle and coming out with fact after fact to refute the tired and baseless reasons for the cull presented by the other side.

 And were those reasons tired!  Hadn’t we heard them all before and proved them wrong?  But when determined on a course of unpopular and wrong-headed action, Ministers and MPs the world over seem to think that if you repeat something often enough it will become the truth.

 An example of the nonsense produced to defend the culls:

 “…we have to recognise that the number of new cases of bovine TB is on the rise; it is doubling every nine years.”

This on the day after the latest government figures showed that last year the number of cattle slaughtered because of TB had dropped by nearly 14% .  Furthermore, over the last 11 years, after the foot and mouth outbreak that led to a collapse of TB testing, a restocking of farms with untested cattle, leading to a massive increase in bTB, that number has never been doubled.

 If any research should be done, it should focus on why these numbers spiked so drastically in 2008 – from 26,882 to 39,007.  Was this the result of the culling carried out in the RBC trials, more intensified farming with larger herds or ever-greater movements of animals?

The same MP also made a valuable point:

“That many of us now live metropolitan lifestyles leads, regrettably, to an increasing misunderstanding of animal husbandry and welfare issues.”

 Very true.  If it were not, people might be debating another pressing animal husbandry and welfare problem, one that leads to many more cattle being slaughtered before their time than are lost due to TB – simple lameness.

Emotive exaggeration

“…on the humaneness issue, I know that this is a sentimental matter for many people,” said Farming Minister George Eustice.

 While MPs and others who are against culling badgers are often labelled as “sentimental”, it didn’t stop some pro-cull MPs doing their best to stir emotions.  A Shropshire MP talked about sitting and crying with a farmer who had just watched all his cattle being taken away for slaughter.

 There are many stories about farmers losing whole herds to TB, yet this is not supported by Defra’s yearly statistics, where matching the number of slaughtered cattle against the number of infected herds gives an average of 4-5 cattle per herd being lost.  The fact is that losing even one or two cattle has a serious and detrimental effect on both the farmer and his farm.

 He also quoted Richard Yates, vice chair of the Shropshire NFU:  “I have a sett in nearly every field.  Badgers are out of control.  You never see hedgehogs any more, or ground nesting birds, because the badgers are killing them.”  What tosh!

 Sadly, some farmers are ignorant about the ecology of their land.  Unless Mr Yates has extremely large fields, he would not have different badger groups living that close to each other.  What he has is setts with entrances in several fields.  And the hedgehog and ground-nesting birds have declined due to modern farming practices, not badgers.

 Withholding the evidence

Both MPs and the public have been waiting for the publication of a report from the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) on the pilot culls.  It would assess, in detail, three main criteria: the humanness (can free shooting kill badgers quickly), the effectiveness (can enough badgers be killed) and the safety (just for humans, one supposes).

 It was going to be published early in the New Year but publication has been inexplicably delayed.  Some key findings, disastrous for the pro-cull side, were leaked in February, findings that were used by anti-cull MPs to support their case.

Pro-cull MPs made several efforts to abort the debate by insisting no debate should be held until MPs had had a chance to study the report.  It emerged that the report “has just arrived on the Secretary of State’s desk.  The pursuant question is why, when it was due to be published in February, it has not been published in time for today’s debate.” (Huw Irranca-Davies, Shadow Farming Minister)

This caused huge suspicion amongst the anti-cull MPs: “Perhaps it is no coincidence that the report was produced on the same day that we are holding this debate,” was one of the comments.

 Tired old cherry-picked justifications

The “success” of the Irish badger cull was brought up several times.  It helps to underpin the government’s belief that “There is no example anywhere in the world of a country that has successfully tackled TB without also tackling the reservoir of disease in the wildlife population.”  This has been used many times by Paterson and Eustice in defence of the culls.  For some people “tackling the wildlife” always means killing.

Unfortunately, the success in Ireland is not all it seems.  MPs pointed out that the drop in TB incidence in Northern Ireland, where no badgers have been culled, was greater than that south of the border.  There are also reports of the Irish statistics being manipulated along with cases of fraud.  To top it all, the BBC editorial rules will now not allow it (or Paterson, Eustice and others) to claim that badger culling in the Republic of Ireland has reduced the incidence of TB in Irish cattle.  Oops!

 Much is made of badgers carrying TB.  A Devon MP stated: “…about 40% of our badger population are infected with bovine TB.”  His office said that this figure came from the Krebs report on the Randomised Badger Culling Trials, which apparently gave a high of 37% in TB hot spot areas like Devon. 

 However in the report’s evidence on the prevalence of TB in badgers the authors make it clear that, due to different methods of collecting data, with breaks in the recording of it, and all possibly tainted with bias, it is difficult to come up with any firm and reliable figures.  They recommended that a continuous programme of monitoring badgers killed on roads would be the best way of obtaining more accurate figures.

The anti-cull side produced the fact that badgers are only responsible for only 6% of cattle infection.  Curiously, this serious study, having found that only 6% of infected cattle are infected by badgers, then went on to claim that really, badgers were still responsible for 50% of cattle TB!

 And a report for Viva! says:

 “… since the mid-1970s tens of thousands of badgers have been killed in an attempt to control the disease.  Despite this, post-mortem examinations revealed that more than 80 per cent of those badgers were disease-free, and in some areas of high bTB incidences in cattle, no badgers were infected.  A Defra survey from 2002 to 2004 found that six out of seven badgers killed on roads in areas of high infection were also free of the disease.”

 Another MP insisted that:

“What the randomised cull did do was reduce the amount of TB in those areas by some 28% or 29%, which shows that the controlling and culling of badgers does work.”

 But, as one anti-cull MP reminded the House, the actual conclusion of the Krebs report was:

 “After careful consideration of all the RBCT and other data presented in this report, including an economic assessment, we conclude that badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain.”

The government case as presented by the Farming Minister

“We got on top of TB in the 1960s and ’70s by pursuing a badger cull strategy.”

 Not true.  TB in cattle was almost eradicated by 1971, through a regime of rigourous testing and biosecurity measures – and NO CULLING.  1971 was the year that the first badger infected with bTB was found.  Badger culling started in 1975, but complacency over the very low incidence of infected cattle had already led to a lapse in testing and controls with the inevitable rise in TB incidence.

 “The RBC trials that the previous Government ran also showed a 16% reduction in the disease.”

 Not true, no matter how many times they say it.  It showed a 16% reduction in the increase of TB incidence.  It also showed a rise in TB outside the cull area, due to perturbation.

 Look how hard we’re working …

“I agree with hon. Members that improving the control of cattle movements is an important tool in the fight against TB, but I simply point out that we have done a lot already. We now have annual testing in the high-risk area, and four-yearly testing across the whole country.“

 But please don’t mention Wales, where they have had annual testing since 2008, as well as tough cattle movement controls, with good results – a 33% drop in cattle slaughtered and a 23% drop in infected herds.  Plus, of course,  badger vaccination rather than culling.

“As I said, we are spending £1.6 million a year developing an oral vaccine (for badgers).”

 True.  And some of the many badger vaccination programmes popping up all over the country are being funded by Defra.  But please don’t mention that this government cancelled 5 out of 6 badger vaccination trials in 2010.  And don’t mention the drop in funding for the cattle vaccine research either.  And…  For the umpteenth time…

“There is no example anywhere in the world of a country that has successfully tackled TB without also tackling the reservoir of disease in the wildlife population.”

Fracking will be “good for our country,” was a statement made by British Prime Minister David Cameron at a recent Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague according to the UK based news agency The Guardian.  Cameron believes that the fracking industry will have the public’s support since reliance on Russia’s energy sources will be halted if sanctions are imposed due to the political crisis in the Ukraine.  The Obama administration is also proposing a joint US-EU trade deal with its European partners that would reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia’s energy resources.  The Guardian reported Cameron’s statement regarding shale gas fracking in Europe:

The prime minister said that once wells are up and running later this year, there would be more public enthusiasm, and exploiting shale gas reserves could help Europe wean itself off reliance on exports from Russia” and that “The Ukraine crisis has increased the urgency of European efforts to find alternative sources of energy to reduce the leverage Russia’s oil and gas supplies give it across the continent 

Has the Ukraine crisis opened the doors for shale gas fracking in Europe? The United States and the European Union are currently negotiating an agreement since July of 2013. In a recent report titled ‘No Fracking Way: How the EU-US trade agreement risks expanding fracking’ by Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute among others stated what the Transalantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is capable of in terms of the rights of corporations involved in the fracking industry:

The TTIP deal threatens to give more rights to companies through a clause called an ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ (ISDS). If included in the deal, this would enable corporations to claim damages in secret courts or ‘arbitration panels’ if they deem their profits are adversely affected by changes in a regulation or policy. This threatens democratically agreed laws designed to protect communities and the environment. Companies which claim their investments (including expectations of future profits) are affected by a change in government policies could have the right to seek compensation through private international tribunals. US companies (or any company with a subsidiary in the US) investing in Europe could use these far-reaching investor rights to seek compensation for future bans or other regulation on fracking. These tribunals are not part of the normal judicial system, but are specifically set up for investment cases. Arbitrators have a strong bias towards investors – and no specialised knowledge about our climate or fracking. Companies are already using existing investment agreements to claim damages from governments, with taxpayers picking up the tab. Investor-state dispute settlement is becoming increasingly controversial as mining and energy firms use it to challenge public policies. For example, the Swedish energy giant Vattenfall is seeking more than €3.7 billion from Germany in compensation after the country voted to phase out nuclear power; Pacific Rim, a Canadian-based mining company is demanding US$315 million in compensation from El Salvador after the government refused permission for a potentially devastating gold mining project4; and Lone Pine Resources is suing Canada for Cdn$250 million over a fracking moratorium in the Canadian province of Quebec 

 “Claim damages in Secret courts” should be worrisome for communities all across Europe who is in opposition to fracking on their lands. The European Commission’s fact sheet ‘Investment Protection and Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement in EU agreements’ describes one of the provisions within the agreements:

In addition, in EU trade agreements the key investment protection standards are drafted in a detailed and precise manner, in particular making clear that the States’ right to regulate is preserved. 

In this context clarifications to two key provisions are made: 

Firstly, ‘indirect expropriation’ is one of the most controversial provisions in the investment protection system. Indirect expropriation is when government measures, while not directly taking property away, have the effect of doing so (e.g. the removal of a license required to operate a factory). This provision has been used by some investors to challenge public authorities’ bans for health reasons of chemical products or the introduction of new stricter environmental legislation. 

Future EU agreements will provide a detailed set of provisions giving guidance to arbitrators on how to decide whether or not a government measure constitutes indirect expropriation, thus aiming at preventing abuse of the system.  

In particular, when the state is protecting the public interest in a non-discriminatory way, the right of the state to regulate should prevail over the economic impact of those measures on the investor. These much needed clarifications will make sure that companies cannot be compensated just because their profits have been reduced through the effects of regulations enacted for a public policy objective. The Commission has negotiated provisions with Canada and Singapore which makes this clear, and the language will also be included in future agreements

 If the European Union and the United States finalize the TTIP agreement then the anti-fracking opposition will grow through a grassroots movement. With Austerity measures being met with protests and violence throughout Europe, fracking would sure add fuel to the fire in an already tense situation. This past week the “March of Dignity” in Spain took place ending in violent clashes between the police and protesters. In the UK, anti-fracking protesters are growing despite PM David Cameron’s recent statement when he said that “I think something positive should come out of [the situation in Ukraine] for Europe which is to take a long hard look at its energy resilience, and its energy independence. And I hope it will lead to some really useful work being done” he continued “Britain is not reliant on Russian gas to any extent, it’s just a few percentage points of our gas intake. But the variety around Europe is very, very wide. Some countries are almost 100% reliant on Russian gas so I think it is something of a wake-up call and I think action will be taken.” New energy sanctions imposed on Russia will affect the European Union economically, environmentally and politically as the realization of the fracking technology breeds grassroots awareness in Europe’s already fragile state.

European leaders are not interested in democracy for the Ukrainian people or in their own countries economic woes; it is interested in profits that would generate jobs and growth. The UK based ‘The Independent’ reported in 2012 what Lord Browne, a former BP chief executive, who is a director of the shale gas “fracking” company Cuadrilla said regarding shale gas fracking “We could potentially double the reserves of gas in the UK, we could add 50,000 jobs maybe, and probably even reduce the price of gas.” In an article released by www.ecowatch.com in 2013, disagrees with the shale gas fracking industry’s assessment on job creation. “Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize or avoid altogether taxation, regulation and even careful examination of shale drilling” said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York” according to the article:

Shale drilling has created jobs, particularly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and cushioned some drilling-intensive areas in those states from the worst effects of the Great Recession and the weak recovery. As this report documents, however, the number of shale jobs created is far below industry claims and remains a small share of overall employment

 Fracking will be at the expense of local communities throughout Europe that would eventually lead to violent demonstrations against their governments who are interested in corporate profits over the people and the environment. Sanctions on the resource rich Russian Federation will backfire on the citizens of the European Union most of all. The US-EU plan to surround Russia with American and NATO bases over the crisis in the Ukraine is not the only intended goal.  It also supports the idea to force the European community to accept shale gas fracking as an alternative right under their feet without depending on Russia’s natural resources.  How convenient!

Mr. Putin’s speech on 18 March before the Russian Parliament, the Duma, signing the declaration for Crimea to join Russia after a clear – more than 95% – Crimean referendum victory, shed light on another reality than that incessantly proclaimed by the western lying manipulating all-dominating corporate media.

 It touched also the hearts of many, who are longing for real freedom, self-determination and democracy, who are sick of the western hypocrisy, forked-tongue propaganda about liberty, democracy and terrorism – unchecked lies that affect politics of the western and increasingly also eastern hemisphere.–  SeeThailand, the Philippines, Malaysia – targets for ‘regime change’, to encircle Russia and China – the same purpose that was behind the US-induced overthrow of the democratically elected government in Ukraine.

 The western media is constantly misleading their willing audience by reproaching Russia of ‘annexing’ Crimea, when in fact, Crimea is joining the Russian Federation by free will of Crimean’s citizens. Mr. Putin’s ceremonial speech is giving a historic perspective of Ukraine and Crimea. His discourse may enter the annals as a momentous landmark in recent history. – It may change the world order, as we know it.

Obama and his minions had to back down from their aggressive bluff in Crimea and Ukraine – for now. But do not believe that they will go away. They will not. Their method is bullying. In President Putin they have met a wise diplomat who calls their bluff, who even invites their ridiculous, toothless and meaningless ‘threats’ and ‘sanctions’, knowing that Washington and Brussels will lose out miserably. See also voiceofrussia.com, March 6, 2014

Europe depends to at least 50% on hydrocarbons from Russia. Germany’s economy would shut down without the fuel from Russia. Germany’s economy alone depends more on trade with Russia – at least 300,000 jobs are at stake – than vice-versa. Germany’s investments in Russia amount to some US$22 billion (October 2013 – German Foreign relations Ministry). A lot of assets to freeze – just in case. No wonder Germany was at last reluctant in joining the rest of Europe with their incredulously nonsensical threats of sanctions, a mere aping of their Masters rustling of the rubber sabre. Europe needs Russia much more than vice-versa.

In short – Russia is too big to fail. Obama and his European monkeys better take note of it.

 Russia and China could demolish the US economy (sic) by a click of a mouse – dumping their dollar reserves – Washington’s debt in the form of Treasury Bills – on the world markets. The euro would not be left unscathed by such a move.

Russia and China, plus the other BRICS and associated countries, including hydrocarbon producers, like Venezuela, could start tomorrow, trading their oil and gas in their own currencies. Trillions of dollars in trade being lost in demand for US dollars would most certainly lead to its collapse – and to that of the hollow US economy as well.

 The BRICS and associates – sometimes also called BRICSA – could float an alternative reserve currency, consisting of a basket of moneys backed by their solid economies (similar to the Euro model of its first two of operation), a more than viable alternative to the worthless mickey-mouse dollar. They have the economic power to crush the empire without a drop of blood.

 Despite some temporary economic repercussions this may cause, the collapse of the bully is what most people of the world – even of the western world – are waiting for but don’t dare to say. There is no freedom of expression. All the media are controlled. But hearts and minds cannot be controlled. Though brainwashed to a point, they feel the fraud, they sense the injustice being done on a daily basis, the killing, the misery brought about by the wars and proxy conflicts, by remote assassinations by drones.

 The people of the world would like to see the naked emperor fall off his stoked-up horse – and his European stooges that control them with him. A little bit of patience. There is a crack in the wall, where the light comes through (Leonard Cohen) – and that moment is approaching.

 At present, though, the empire’s tentacles will continue to lash out in its destructive course towards full world dominance, towards a One World Order. Obama, himself the puppet of corporate America and Wall Street, with his deplorable European marionettes, is committed to implement the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) almost by the letter. It is the roadmap towards world dictatorship, full-power dominance. It is the roadmap for the NATO killing machine.

 The tentacles of the monster octopus already span the world, gradually encircling the last but most important vestiges – Russia and China. Washington is currently fighting active proxy wars, through intermediaries, in four countries – Ukraine, Syria, Thailand – and – Venezuela.

As the US will have to retreat from Ukraine, it will hit all the stronger on other fronts, especially Venezuela – which is, as we know by now, in “Obama’s backyard”; conveniently so, as Venezuela has the world’s largest proven hydrocarbon reserves. Other ‘empire renegades’ – and oil producers – Ecuador and Bolivia, are already in Washington’s Assassin in Chief’s crosshairs.

 President Nicolas Maduro is admiringly defending the path of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez – a legend of worldwide scale and renown. He has transformed Venezuela in a democracy with one of the most open and transparent electoral system in the world. With his Bolivarian Revolution – contrary of the presstitute’s lies – he has also turned Venezuela’s hydrocarbon and mineral riches into an equitable and just economy, serving the poor, with free education, health services and infrastructure connecting Venezuela’s formerly neglected hinterland and rural areas.

 Mr. Chavez’ wisdom and foresight has helped bringing democracy to most of the Southern Hemisphere, freeing it from the claws of the Northern bully. Mr. Maduro’s able Presidency defends this legacy tirelessly.

Washington’s upset in the East will prompt fierce retaliation in its Southern ‘backyard’, starting in Venezuela, where daily protests by rightwing fascists – similar to those implanted by the US (Nuland: the US$ 5 billion investment) and western incited neo-Nazi violence and hired sniper killers in Kiev – are causing in Caracas and other cities of Venezuela increasingly, day-by-day hardship, misery, destitution and death. After nearly two months of Nazi-type anti-government demonstrations the death toll reached 34 last Sunday, 23 March.

 On Monday, March 25, the Venezuelan secret forces discovered a plot by three Air Force generals, linked to the right wing protestors that are supported and financed by Washington and its South American puppet, Colombia.

On 18 March right-wing protestors, supported by Colombia firebombed and destroyed the Venezuela’s Military academy, UNEFA, in Táchira, affecting some 6,000 students and demolishing a library which was also a cultural icon for Latin America.

The flow of mickey-mouse dollars from the North, via such criminal ‘NGOs’, like the National Endowment for Democracy – NED and the accompanying lie-and slander propaganda will not stop until –so the empire hopes – misery is so great that people may cave in. – They will not.

Venezuela is changing its tactic. It is certainly encouraging that UNASUR and the members of ALBA voice their full support for Venezuela. But it is not enough. They will unlikely interfere if the empire strikes, causes a coup d’état, à la Argentina, Chile, and more recently Haiti, Paraguay, Honduras. They cannot.

Losing the gains and social advances of the Bolivarian Revolution and its gigantic mineral resources to the empire would not only be a disaster for Venezuela, it would be an enormous loss to the Southern Hemisphere and the rest of the world.

Therefore, Venezuela has already changed course, seeking closer political and trade relations with Russia and China.

As reported on 6 March by “El Univeral”, Caracas,

Venezuelan Vice-President for Economic Affairs and President of state-run oil holding Pdvsa, Rafael Ramírez, arrived in Venezuela on Monday after a tour of Russia and China which gave new financial and political support to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

 According to Mr. Ramirez, “China has expressed every support to the Bolivarian government of President Maduro and all the Venezuelan people. We will win! We also visited Moscow for a meeting with President (Vladimir) Putin, where the maximum support to our government and people was expressed,”

 This is certainly good news for Venezuela. It may not immediately stop Washington’s notorious and murderous aggressions, as recent history has shown, but it gives the world assurances that Venezuela and other countries that are in Obama’s shooting range may count on alliances and support from far-away but reliable sources of the world – nothing less but Russia and China.

 This Obama buffoon bully has to be stopped. His bluff has to be called. The world cannot – and will not tolerate more killing. Estimates of people killed by the US and its ferocious NATO bulldozer since WWII are as high as 50 million. This cannot continue. People of this planet are tired – tired to the core of the hypocrisy, of double-standards, of the killing lies of the Anglo-Saxon dominated media – killing – because their lies incite violent political actions that would have not been taken if the truth were known.

With collective faith in Peace – The Power of Peace can move mountains.

Peter Koenig is an economist and former World Bank staff. He worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, the Voice of Russia and other internet sites.He is the author of Implosion – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of experience around the globe.

Death and Extinction of the Bees

March 28th, 2014 by Joachim Hagopian

Scientists have recently reported that mass extinctions of marine animals may soon be occurring at alarmingly rapid rates than previously projected due to pollution, rising water temperatures and loss of habitat. Many land species also face a similar fate for the same reasons. But perhaps the biggest foreboding danger of all facing humans is the loss of the global honeybee population. The consequence of a dying bee population impacts man at the highest levels on our food chain, posing an enormously grave threat to human survival. Since no other single animal species plays a more significant role in producing the fruits and vegetables that we humans commonly take for granted yet require near daily to stay alive, the greatest modern scientist Albert Einstein once prophetically remarked, “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.” 
 
Since 2006 beekeepers have been noticing their honeybee populations have been dying off at increasingly rapid rates. Subsequently researchers have been scrambling to come up with an accurate explanation and an effective strategy to save the bees and in turn save us homo sapiens from extinction. Recent harsh winters that stay freezing cold well into spring have been instrumental in decimating the honeybee population in Iowa by up to 70% as well as the other historically high yielding honey states – the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota. The northern Plains and Midwestern states that have regionally always produced the nation’s most honey have been severely hurt by the long harsh winters in the last couple years. Florida as the third largest honey producer and especially California always among the top producers have been hit especially hard by decreasing bee colony populations. In 2006 when the problem of bee loss first was noticed, California was right up at the top with North Dakota producing nearly twice as much honey as the next state South Dakota but its bee numbers have incurred such heavy losses that in 2011, though still second, California’s honey production fell by nearly half in just six years. The recent severe drought in California has become an additional factor driving both its honey yield and bee numbers down as less rain means less flowers available to pollinate.

Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as this loss of bee phenomenon has been called is currently recognized as such an urgent crisis that a month ago Newsweek ran an article outlining the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement that it will provide a $3 million subsidy in order to help the one animal on the planet that will either make or break food prices. According to the latest USDA industry survey, this emergency plan assistance comes after nearly a third of commercial honeybees died last winter, a whopping increase of 42% from the previous year. The three million dollar giveaway program is designed to entice both Midwest dairy farmers and cattle ranchers to reseed their fields this spring with eco-friendly crops like alfalfa and clover to develop healthier habitats for increasing the national bee population. Farmers and ranchers only had until March 21st, 2014 to sign up and take advantage as eligible seedling recipients.

Last month’s Newsweek reported that honeybees in trucks migrate to various regions of the country to pollinate an estimated $40 billion worth of the nation’s agricultural produce each year. This means that every third bite of food we eat comes as the result of bees and other pollinators. USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that more than 130 fruits and vegetables that make up a nutritious diet are cross pollinated by honeybees. Commercial bees raised on farms and then shipped to other farms in the country used for pollination purposes along with wild bees are responsible for pollination of an estimated 80% of all food crops in the United States.

In the last half decade alone 30% of the national bee population has disappeared and nearly a third of all bee colonies in the U.S. have perished. Though the rate of bee depopulation is growing each year, 42% more last year than the year before, even at the current annual rate the estimated monetary loss is a colossal 30 billion dollars a year. With such an enormous loss in revenue, last month’s USDA announcement of just a three million dollar investment in farmer aid in comparison to the formidable challenge seems like a paltry drop in the bucket to making any real dent in the epidemic.

With so much at stake, efforts to investigate and uncover reasons for this sudden global pandemic have been robust. A new government study blames a combination of factors for the mysterious and dramatic loss of honeybees, including increased use of pesticides especially in the US, shrinking habitats, multiple viruses, poor nutrition and genetics, and even cell phone towers. However, according to last year’s joint EPA-USDA study, the biggest cause is the parasite called the Varroa destructor, a type of mite found to be highly resistant to the insecticides that US beekeepers have used in attempts to control the mites from inside the beehives. Moreover, new virus species have been found in the US and several of these have been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder.
 
In a vicious cycle, since 1987 when the Varroa mite was first discovered in the US, Monsanto, Dow, Bayer and other large chemical manufacturers aggressively glommed onto the bee industry selling genetically modified insecticides and herbicides as the quick and easy fix to remedy the parasitic invasion, only to weaken the bees’ natural genetic defenses to fight off the parasite. In an article from the Guardian earlier this month, Monsanto’s contribution to the vanishing bee population is detailed. From genetically altered corn, Monsanto produced an insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which once ingested by bees, Bt binds to receptors within the bee’s stomach lining that keeps the bee from eating. Of course this weakens the bee, causing the breakdown of the inner stomach wall, which in turn makes the bee susceptible to spores and bacteria. To further compound the problem, for years the lobbying power of the chemical giant denied causing damage to the bee’s internal immune capacity for resistance to parasites, which of course only continued to kill off the bee population worldwide. Thus, continued chemical use, especially in America, only exacerbates this growing problem.

Also on Greenpeace’s Save the Bees page, a type of insecticide called neonicotinoids, is known to cause acute and chronic poisoning not just of one bee, but the entire colony. Bees take the contaminated nectar and pollen spread through the plant’s DNA back to the hive, creating a highly toxic living environment for all the bees. Toxicity builds up destroying the Central Nervous System, causing further disorientation and bees ultimately can neither fly nor make it back to the nest. Meanwhile, unlike the US, in Europe and Australia where the health of insects and humans is deemed more important than corporate profit, laws banning insecticide use have been passed, which in large part has largely saved the bee populations from being so decimated there.

A study last year found 35 pesticides and fungicides, some at lethal doses, in the pollen collected from bees that were used to pollinate food crops in five U.S. states. In another research study, bees that contacted pollen contaminated with fungicides ended up three times more likely to get infected by a parasite closely associated with Colony Collapse Disorder.

The results of a new study conducted by Mark Brown of Royal Halloway University in London released several weeks ago found that wild bumblebee populations are also disappearing at a similar rate to the domestic honeybee. In its sample one in five wild bees were afflicted by the Deformed Wing Virus believed to be caused by the parasitic Varroa mite. 88% of the honeybees at the 26 field sites were affected by this virus. The research study also concluded that while honeybees are important and obviously responsible for the multimillion dollar global honey industry, wild bees are believed to be just as important in pollination of plants throughout the world.

Another probable factor in America is the widespread use of feeding bee colonies with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) instead of its natural self-made food honey. For maximum profit, industrialized US bee farms utilize maximum honey yields, not leaving any honey for the bees to consume during the long colder winter months. It is speculated that the natural hormonal and enzyme effects interacting with honey’s natural nutritional advantages provided bees with the increased defenses that historically have been effective in fighting off parasitic threats and viruses. In contrast, the artificially processed HFCS is believe to weaken the immune system of the honeybees’ genetic strength to ward off disease.

The largest selling company of honey in the US is the Sioux Honey brand located in Sioux City, Iowa founded in 1921. More than 35 million pounds of honey are processed at the Sioux City and Anaheim, California plants comprised of a cooperative of over 300 beekeepers from the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. Vice president for research and development Bill Huser interviewed in the local paper last year stated, “One of the wrinkles is a focus on increased diversity in genetics, which the [USDA] report’s authors said could help improve bees’ resistance to disease. Specifically, they said, genetic variation could help keep the bees’ body temperature steady, even if the surrounding environment changes.” This would enhance the bees’ capacity to acclimate to the recent harsher winter conditions in northern climates.

Most commercial beekeepers transport their bee colonies by truck in the winter to farms in Texas and California to pollinate in early spring agricultural fields in the warmer regions of the country. However, these last couple winters with far fewer bees, less pollination occurred during the early spring at the Southern California almond orchards. Moreover, because of poor management in agricultural farming over many geographical areas growing only one cash crop, there are far less variety of plants now to pollinate. Bees will not flourish where there exists less opportunity to work their pollen magic because of a lack of diversity in plant vegetation throughout the year. Thus, the almond fields of California need more types of crops planted that will attract bees year-round. That same problem occurs in states like Iowa and Nebraska, once high producers of honey. But in recent decades the agri-industry choice to maximize profit by planting corn and soybean crops instead of the rich alfalfa and clover fields that previously offered a healthy habitat for bee pollination has caused a steady decline in bee population. Additionally, fewer wildflower fields and other natural land space in America in general limit available healthy bee habitats.

These corrections to introduce a richer diversity that enhances and expands the bee habitat are both very do-able and obviously urgently needed. Per last month’s report, federal and state partners have been encouraged to consider making prudent changes in land management in order to optimize available nutritional forage for promoting bee health and protecting bee colonies by avoiding use of pesticides. Earlier this month Eugene, Oregon became the first municipality to ban insecticides in the nation. A bill in California would push the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation to make a decision on its reevaluation of neonicotinoids by July. Maine, New Jersey, and Vermont are also considering plans to ban the use of neonicotinoids.

The USDA report strongly recommends increased collaboration and information sharing between crop growers and beekeepers to implement mutually beneficial best known practices. Finally, more research centers designed to learn effective new and innovative methods to facilitate restoration of bee populations throughout the world are sorely needed. Just this month the University of Florida announced the plan to build and develop through research grants a major addition to increase both knowledge and revenue in enhancing the honeybee population.

Another viable solution toward increasing the bee population is implementing programs teaching and training urban residents to become amateur beekeepers. Many cities are now offering startup assistance to a growing number of hobbyists of all ages interested in beekeeping. Plus educating urban populations about plant diversity in municipal gardens will enhance both bee habitats and bee health. With increasing interest and awareness in the profound importance of nurturing a much larger bee population globally, the progress dividends for both humanity and the planet will prove immeasurable.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. Having written a manuscript based on his military experience, the link is below:
http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and eventually became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century.

Winning the War of the World

March 28th, 2014 by Prof. John McMurtry

The global corporate experiment has failed. Existence on earth is in rapid decline on every level of life organization.

The air, soil and water cumulatively degrade and disappear; the climates and oceans destabilize without connection; species become extinct at a spasm rate across continents; pollution cycles and volumes rise endangering life systems on all planes in synergistic despoliation; the world’s forests, meadows and fisheries are cumulatively destroyed by the profit drivers of globalization; food pollinators, songbirds, coral reefs and large animals crash  in unconnected response; public sectors and services are defunded and privatized as tax evasion by the rich multiplies; the global food system produces more and more disabling junk and wastes; non-contagious diseases multiply to the world’s biggest killer; the global financial system issues money out of control while collapsing in productive investment; the vocational future of the next generations is erased across the world; official lies and corruption are normalized as public relations. All the trends are one-way, degenerate, and undeniable.

Yet where are the dots joined across domains? The common cause is taboo to name. ‘Overpopulation’ is the stock explanation. But it blinkers out the causal mechanism altogether – transnational corporate resource extractions, wastes, pollutions, and depletions of life-carrying capacities everywhere. It is not ‘doubling world populations’ that poison and hollow out the world. The majority poor control only a fraction of the earth resources. What drives the end-game is exponentially multiplying money demand and commodities with ever more wastes. They more than double every decade, but global population rates halve as the damages still escalate. That educated people can go on blinkering out the actual causal mechanism while blaming the majority poor reveals the derangement of this ruling value system.

Not even prophets like Chris Hedges decode it. Journalists are trained not to. Not even moral philosophers question the system worship masked as ‘the free market”. Freedom means no accountability to human and world life, while competition means competing to externalize all costs onto the lives of citizens and environments. The value driver behind it all is no more questioned than the Almighty. It can do no wrong. But one underlying lock-step of false equations propels this unnamed war on the world through its mutations and metastases:

Rationality = Self-Maximizing Choice

= Always More Money-Value for the Self is Good

= Self-Multiplying Sequences of Ever More Money to the Top as the Ruling Growth System

= All Else is Disposable Means to this Multiplying Pathogenic Growth

My 15-year study, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure diagnoses this ruling value mechanism as cancerous. It is, in short, a deregulated self-multiplication of transnational money sequences accountable to nothing but their own multiplication with no committed life functions. With the Hayek-Reagan-Thatcher crusade to reverse the history of the world into a moronic ‘free market’ and ‘conservative values’, the march was on. Marxists would not engage this Great Reversal on moral grounds because morality was believed to be only ruling class ideology. This left no value ground to stand on. From the transnational victory of corporate world rule from 1991 on, reversals of social states were portrayed as ‘market miracles’ whatever the results for people’s lives. ‘The magic of the market’ was the new world religion, ‘the end of history’. The mass media were  consolidated into one collective corporate organ across cities and borders. Death squads erased community opposition in the South. The academy was and is still defunded to serve the global corporate market and commodity development.

The nations of the world are all ‘restructured’  to be subordinate functions to the supreme moral goal of transforming humanity and the world into ever more private commodities and profits. Society itself s does not exist to this ruling value mechanism. Its logic of growth is totalitarian and malignant to the marrow. More precisely, deregulated global corporate money sequences abolish by treaties and wars all barriers whatever to their free multiplying growth through all that exists whatever the destruction of natural and social life support systems. My work has been to decode this globally life-invading value system. Predictably the diagnosis is taboo to mention in the press, however confirmed by the facts and predictions. No social disorder allows its ruling program to be publicly unmasked. Thus the malignant value code marches on. Alarm bells at the degenerate symptoms increase, but policies of solution only extend the system further and deeper. Life-value economics is as unspeakable as the fatal disorder itself.

The Essential First Step in Winning the War of the World is Comprehension of It.

The essential first step in winning the war of the world is comprehension of it. Only system analysis can lay bare the underlying value program, but it is avoided. The sciences do not study values and specialize in domains of self-referential meaning. Journalists report facts, spectacles and impressions, but not the underlying values governing them. Philosophers seldom analyse the ruling value system of the societies within they live from social habit and fear. In the age of instant culture, value-system comprehension does not sell. Together these blocks of normalized avoidance make the value code selecting for all the degenerate trends invisible to us. As in immune system failure, the life host fails to recognise the disorder devouring it.

Lacking any unifying framework of comprehension, people are lost. Thus when millions rise in the Occupy Wall Street movement, there is no diagnosis or policy demand. Although Wall Street had indisputably defrauded masses and had failed to its knees broke, no policy shift arose – not even public control of the public money infusing the system cancer, $16 trillion dollars by Senate  count in the U.S. alone – thanks to the heroic Bernie Sanders. Nor was there movement for a needed public mortgage system – even after the private system had perpetrated the biggest fraud in history, indebted tens of millions into ruin and collapsed the economies of the West in irreversible debt. The lost alternative of public banking on which the U.S. revolution was founded, Lincoln won the war of Union, North Dakota has had 100 years of debt-free prosperity, the West itself managed the 1939-45 war and post-war years to unprecedented full employment, and first Japan and now China wins in productive investment – all is  amnesiac in the West.

Fast forward to today, and the underlying system cancer advances on. The financial giants causing the 2008 Crash are bigger and richer in criminal impunity. They speculate with publicly supplied trillions on food and water futures. They control even Rio + 20 as the life-ground catastrophe they finance explodes on one front after another. Transfused with endlessly with more public money to bleed and indebt the world dry, the money-printing system metastasizes further – now occupying the once prosperous social democracies of the European Union with public money bled out of peoples’ lives and life bases to private banks with no limit . Refusing any regulatory limits, converting pensions into more stockmarket feeding troughs, investing nothing as youth unemployment and debt spike ever higher – where does it all end? It ends when public money and human rights stop being fed to the failed system. It ends when commodity cycles of destructive waste are stopped. It ends at the base of the disorder when the 97%-counterfeiting of debt and credit by private financial institutions is publicly controlled.

Economic Doctrine Allows Money-Cancer System Free Reign

Neo-economic theory is a pseudo-science. Its defining postulates are unfalsifiable by facts. All organic, social and ecological life requirements are absurdly assumed away. Infinite demand on finite resources is presupposed as sustainable. Mechanical reversibility of everything is taken for granted. Whatever does not fit the doctrine is rejected. Endlessly self-maximizing atomic selves are believed to necessitate the best of all possible worlds by the market’s invisible hand.

Is this not a fanatic religion? Supra-human laws dictate commands across peoples. No deadly consequences lower certitude in the miracles of the market God. Even when the ruling value mechanism visibly depredates the very life bases of the world, the only reforms are to globalize it further. Corporate-lawyer treaties coined in secret rule as the new laws of nations, while hostile zones are subjected to covert forces sponsoring civil wars, as promised in 2001 – Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria Iraq, and now the Ukraine as I write.  All is believed in and pursued as a world crusade, even if fascists lead it. One supreme goal governs underneath bizarre beliefs –  multiplying growth of transnational money-sequences at ever higher velocities and volumes with no life limits tolerated. This is the moral DNA of the ruling value mechanism. In theory, it is expressed well by University of Chicago professor and godfather of the U.S. National Security Council, Leo Strauss, who wrote in his canonical Natural Right and History (p. 60): “limitless capital accumulation” is “a moral duty and perhaps the highest moral duty”.  On the ground, Strauss’s patron, David Rockefeller, expressed the moral-political program more concretely at the turning point in 1991, “A supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”.  The promises are kept. There is no binding regulation to protect any life carrying capacity on earth from the loot-and-pollute bank money system in the years since.

Many blame capitalism, but unlike classical capitalism this mechanism is not driven by productive force development. It is driven by transnational money-sequence multiplication with no productive standard which despoils more means of life than it produces. It eliminates the working class itself. The ruling idea that the system is peerlessly productive is increasingly contradicted by far more life goods disappearing than are created. Something much more sinister is afoot.

The social and natural life bases by which the human species evolves are reversed and overrun. Yet not even the opposition defines what ultimately counts – humanity’s universal life necessities themselves. The meaning of ‘the economy’ itself – to produce and distribute life goods otherwise in short supply through generational time – is lost. While the very air humanity breathes is going more toxic and acidic, the contradiction to ‘productive growth’ is unseen. As the waters of the world are simultaneously destroyed, the dots are not joined. Even as there are mass extinctions of species, youth without futures, and irreversible debt servitude of the world, all is well if ‘more growth is returning to the system’ which causes all of them. That at the same time the earth’s very soil cover taking tens of millions of years to evolve is simultaneously mined, acidified, salinated, degraded and exhausted as forest and mineral covers are stripped from one continent to the other are not connected into common meaning. The ruling value mechanism devours the life substance of humanity and the earth, but remains assumed as ever ‘more productive’ even by angry unions.

Well at least, someone might reply, climate warming has been recognized by a blue-ribbon economic panel, Britain’s Stern Review, as “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen”. This is a step towards rational observation. But even with a UN panel of over-1600 scientists on the case, there is no connection to the other basic life carrying capacities driven towards collapse by the same organizing value mechanism. No secret is more unspoken. So more rights to pollute and profit are instituted, and the climates and hydrological cycles spiral to more deadly extremes. “The world’s poor suffer first and most”, Lord Stern also rightly observes, but this fits the reigning value mechanism. Those without money do not exist.

Unmasking the Ruling Code of Value Driving the War on Life

Let us summarize. Behind every step of the Great Reversal lie failures of knowledge and value understanding: (1) failure to diagnose the regulating value mechanism at work; (2) failure to connect across the domains of life despoliation as predictable from the system’s blind money-sequence multiplication; (3) failure to define or demand any public policies against its feeding on life support systems with public treasure; (4) failure to recognise any life-value principle or the life ground of the economy itself.

This knowledge black-out is understandable once one recognises that the vaunted “knowledge economy” has no criterion from the start. All it means is what can be controlled, sold or manipulated to grow the ruling value mechanism. Pause on that general fact. This is why true knowledge is now so often denied or attacked as “uncompetitive’.  Look for exceptions to this spread of the ruling money-value mechanism into the very capacities of human understanding.  Diagnosis of this disorder is the knowledge most needed, but unspeakable. Who even now recognises that ‘new efficiencies’, ‘reforms’ and ‘cost cutting’ are always attacks on people’s lives, means of life and life functions?  Who connects across the one-way falls of life standards and regulations, public science and testing, agrarian communities and lands, workers’ rights and unions, social infrastructures and protections, and social life security while money demand multiplies out of control at the top? Who names the innermost ruling code driving all – whatever protects or enable human and ecological life is eliminated as a barrier to private money-sequence multiplication. This is the source code of the cancer system. It explains why transnational corporate, equity and bank profits grow to ever new records as the world’s majorities are dispossessed. It explains why social and natural life-carrying capacities are despoiled across continents.  The war on life is built in.

The ideals of “freedom”, “democracy”, and “economic growth” are thus reversed in the name of them. The big lies become so automatic that few notice them– for example as I write, food-stamp slashes reducing 47 million hungry U.S. people below $1.40 a meal and $90 less a month for life necessities “protects the most vulnerable Americans” (President Obama, Jan. 29, 2014). There is a recourse against lies which is as old as the species. Humanity’s deciding evolutionary advantage is that knowledge wins in the end. Above all knowledge evolves through recognition of how life is enabled or disabled by material conditions and social rules. For example, the binding abolition of the most profitable commodity of world trade ever, human slaves, won. Knowledge won again from the 1929 Crash and subsequent World War when the collective life security of peoples evolved by known facts and social policies more in 30 years than in the prior twenty-five centuries.

The missing link for this long life-and-death struggle is the life value code. We do not know it because we are without a reference body in a vast ocean of self-maximizing money-sequences for which the goods are only what sell for private profit. A life-ground and compass almost emerged after 1945 when peoples recognised how ruling delusions of self-maximizing fanaticism almost destroyed civilisation. Learning from the greatest war and depression in history, societies forged binding international covenants for collective life security and free human development. Universal education, health, and income security infrastructures were publicly formed across societies. But no unifying life-value code underlying them was found. In absence of any sound life base of understanding to re-ground in, the Great Reversal from 1980 on has gone from one extreme of life-blindness to the next with endless lies of better days to come – even as there is ever more joblessness, meaningless employment, deprivation of more majorities, commodity diseases across the globe, debt servitude chaining the futures of peoples, and deepening ecodidal trends advancing one way with the system’s growth. Locked into the ruling frame of thinking, people blame humanity for the catastrophe unfolding even as the demands of the ruling value mechanism have been imposed every step by a secretly negotiated and adjudicated transnational corporate system backed by global armed force, financial sabotage and embargo, and limitless lies. From secret codification by corporate lawyers of treaties overriding constitutions to free looting of human and natural life-carrying capacities across borders, ever more money-sequence ‘investor’ rights are prescribed and multiplied across nations. Those who resist are ‘against competition’ or ‘terrorists’. Reverse projection rules.

An absurd metaphysic is assumed throughout. The economy’s provision of goods through time mutates to ‘laws of supply and demand’ that are fatuous caricatures of both. Demand is never people’s needs or necessity. It is private money demand minted by private banks without the legal tender to back it to indebt people and gamble on their future means of life. ‘Supply’ is not the life means people require to survive and flourish. It is ever more priced commodities for profit promoting more human and ecological ill-being across continents. The supreme moral value of the system is then equated to its opposite as well. Freedom = freedom for private money demand only = in proportion to the amount controlled = ever less freedom for those with less of it = no right to life for those without it.

When mass uprooting, joblessness and misery follow, more reverse meaning is proclaimed. “Uplifted out of poverty” headlines proliferate over a money-gain equal to the cost of a coffee for subsistence farmers who have been forced into city slums without any means of natural and communal life support left. Peoples are too distracted by competitions for vast prizes to notice. The global struggle for life is displaced by ever more contest spectacles as global mass-marketing sites – the meaning now of ‘sport’.  But behind the perpetually revolving mirrors, the meaning is taboo. People may see “greed of the rich”, but not that greed is the global system’s r driver at every level. “More productivity”   is liked across classes, but who sees that it only means less cost per unit of profitable commodities bringing more life waste and destruction. Workers and left thinkers may no more want to see this than the corporate press.

The meaning of ‘the free market’ itself is reversed. Over centuries it has meant the opposite of the global corporate system – public places of local life goods, all exchanged for legal tender, featuring real foods and crafts, no mass conditioning ads, no debt servitude, no dominance of transnational money-sequences, no throwaway packages and waste, no lobbies controlling government, no invisible head offices pulling puppet strings, and no bribery controlling supply and demand. Yet the free market like the real economy is overwhelmed. There are only more absentee money sequences with no required life functions or accountability to the communities and life conditions they competitively bleed. The enemy is undefined. The common life capital it attacks is unknown. But the life and death choice cannot be made without knowing both.

The Life-Value Turn as the Next Stage of Civilisation

Reality hides in the language of the past. So ‘capitalism’ is blamed by critics when real capital is, in fact, destroyed every step. Journals report ‘global wealth has soared 68% in 10 years’. But life wealth is devoured as fast as the money-sequence system can grow.  Always the underlying life ground  is lost beneath the competitive self-multiplication of money demand invading all that exists. With no life value anchor and compass, the degenerate trends only deepen beneath reference body to recognise them. I have spent most of my life as a professional philosopher on the problem of life value and social value systems. Although the sane may agree life value is what ultimately matters, nothing has been less understood.  People called ‘pro-life’ usurp the woman’s body in the name of fundamentalist religions. Nations absurdly assume that ‘standard of living’ is measured by the private money spent. Animal rights theory has no criterion to tell the life value of a snail from a person. ‘Life sciences’ sacrifice billions of animal lives a year for private money-value gain. ‘New and better technology’ has no life-value standard to decide better from worse.

Life value is the missing base. But there are as many proxies for life value as there are values. Specialist domains like physiotherapy and medicine recognise life-value in organic functions, but without principled meaning to apply to wider life systems. In general, life value ignorance defines the age. This is how the greatest of all fatal confusions has mutated: that money-sequence growth = life value growth. Just as the multiplying grotesque cells eating the life-host alive are not recognised on the micro level, so too on the social level. Thus tidal bank notes of bets, credit and debt without legal tender drive ‘financialization’ across the planet. They must loot life and life bases to keep growing without inflation as trillions of new dollars are printed without life function. Endless slashing of life goods in wages, benefits, social security, pensions and environmental protections result, as money-demand powers multiply at the top. This is why endless bonuses for financial failure, stripping of the middle classes and the poor, squandering of public wealth on rich corporations – the list can go on – are demanded as U.S.-led wars for resources, lands and corporate markets never stop and taxes on the rich are reversed. All is predictable once the cancer system is diagnosed.

An ultimate question arises. What is the ground of response to this ruling value mechanism which cumulatively plunders human and other life to feed itself?  We know the ultimate ground is life value. But what is life value? To roll thirty years of research now in three UNESCO volumes – the objective standard and measure can be defined in three steps:

(1)   all value whatever is life value,

(2)   good versus bad  equals the extent to which  life is more coherently enabled versus disabled,

(3)   by greater/lesser ranges or capacities of thought, felt being and action through time.

Visions of world peace, the classless flourishing of peoples, a planetary ecology in which humanity is its conscious understanding – all such ideals express this underlying life code of value.  But “who decides?” skeptics ask. No-one decides because gains and losses in life capacity are as objective as the laws of biology and medicine. Anything is better or worse by the greater or lesser range of life capacities it enables. This value code is built into evolution itself. It is no more a matter of opinion than people’s life necessities are: that without which life capacities are always reduced. The ruling value mechanism is the polar opposite. It attacks life and life conditions everywhere as ‘externalities’ to its self-multiplying growth. Because this growth is assumed to be life value, however, the greatest value reversal in history goes unseen.

The three-step life code of value provides the generic value compass and base which has been missing. It is objective because it is true independent of anyone’s perception of it. It has unlimited validity because there is no exception to it (which is testable by searching for one). It is presupposed in value judgements – as you can observe when these judgements are defended. Life value is also universalizable because all values derive their worth from it. Finally life value is sovereign because it trumps any other value in cases of conflict. All are testable generalizations.

But what of measure of more or less life value? Life value is measurable in degrees by greater/lesser capacities of thought, felt being and action shown through time – for example, how much life capacities gain or lose by nourishing versus junk foods. Today the macro trends are in one-way loss of life capacities. Knowledge is the exception. It forms the way stations of life understanding passed onto others and subsequent generations across epochs, the distinguishing life capacity of our species. But even knowledge is threatened by corporate rights against its dissemination at the same time as there is mass propagation of public lies. New electronic communication capacities without corporate control still win the war by the greatest civil community development in history. But the life-and-death fields of invasion by the ruling money-value mechanism are not decoded – the money tides of hit-and-run buying and selling of lands and currencies across the world, free and growing use of ecocidal extraction methods, life-starving hours, wages and no benefits in global dispossession of workers’ century-long gains, one way global growths of disease commodities and lethal arms trading, oil-guzzling and air-polluting noise vehicles of multiplying kinds, big oil and big pharma looting of public lands and health dollars growing business on ill effects, a world-wide pension raid for corporate-stock gains at the life cost of hundreds of millions of people, and most invisibly, full-spectrum assault on humanity’s thinking and feeling sides of living itself – the zombie effect.

Where we might ask do the transnational money-sequences not destructively invade the evolved fields of life of humanity and fellow species? The movement is by exponentially multiplying money-sequences eating away at the margins of every private transaction, public funding, life exchange and substance within and across borders. Consider all the bites every moment across business and exchange sites – before and beyond the ‘carrying trade’ in exploiting lower interest in one country to flood another with the cheaper money advantage, beyond the trillions in derivatives betting every day, beyond the raids on sovereign currencies and bonds without tax or regulation. On the local level, hardly a shop, a buyer, a builder, a home-dweller, anybody who lives today is not invaded by the same financial mechanism with ever more rights to demand at every exchange site with no function while enforcement is paid by the public being stripped by it. The apparently free credit-card system, for example, imposes a 2% charge to the seller for sales at a hidden 33% annual debt-charge rate, before the debt predation of poorer consumers begins. There is no end to the invisible lines of life devouring demands now deeply into higher learning and public health themselves while destroying workforces and companies overnight by hostile takeovers, bid-up mergers, asset strippings, capital flights, and straight-on funding of civil wars and destabilizations from which fire prices and dominant positions are extracted. Ruining societies is the medium of metastases. How else would a cancer system behave?

The world-choosing choice begins with what you buy. Clearly for example eating, selling or supplying junk foods is objectively bad to the measure that it disables human life and produces global epidemics of obesity, heart failure, cancer and diabetes. Yet even economic ‘science’ calls them all ‘goods’ whatever the rising disease effects. Simultaneously violence entertainments flood public airwaves and play-spaces before the same consumers – most avidly the young – with images of humanity being killed, tortured, injured and humiliated. As the sugar-salt-lard concoctions are ladled into bloodstreams and throwaways clog the earth`s circulatory channels at the same time, we begin to see the multiplying destructive occupation of the fields of life and life substance as built into these runaways growths and their ‘goods’. Life capacities at every level are attacked as ‘market freedom’. Only life-value ground and measure can penetrate the disease mechanism none define – to addictively disable human life capacities for more transnational money-sequences through ever more lives from infancy onwards.  Where is there exception to the pattern?  Life-activity-replacing motors and commercial games in multiplying life occupation, endless unneeded and non-recycled conveniences locking into habits of life, political-junkie election images and spectacles where the truth is what sells corporate lines and candidates, and commercial internet and television hooks everywhere in front of which children spend 11 waking hours. Which of any of these is not geared to addict consumers to compulsive consumption against life capacity development? Which does not input toxic wastes into the circulatory flows of ecosystems at the same time? But all is optimal for the ruling economic model for which life and society are reduced to atomic desiring machines propelling more money demand to money controllers as the nature of the growth the official world calls for..

The moving line of the true war of liberation begins with what we are able to control, our own lives. Consider your own life, what you know best.  Every value you enjoy, lose or gain has a bottom line – its life capital, what enables life to reproduce and grow rather than degrade and stagnate through time. We defend it and our health by buying life goods and nothing else. The turning point is as old as physical and cultural evolution. Every human advance is by knowing what enables life from what does not. Collective life advance is transmitting this life-and-death knowledge across selves, space-time and generations. The life value code holds across cultures. But the universal life goods and necessities are not even known. Their meaning is obscured everywhere, but are exactly definable. Life goods are always that without which life capacities decline and die. All real needs are known by this criterion. Every human life suffers and degenerates towards disease and death without breathable and unpolluted air, clean water and waste cycles, nourishing food and drink, protective living space, supportive love, healthcare when needed, a life-coherent environment, symbolic interaction, and meaningful work to perform. All are measurable in sufficiency across cases. (author note: a systematic explanation is available by google of “Universal Human Life Necessities”). Yet all universal human life needs and capacities are attacked, polluted or perverted by the ruling value mechanism in product, process and lobby demand across the world. Yet where are the universal life needs named and  connected against the malignant growth system spreading through ever more nodes?

Not zero growth, but zero bad growth is the way. A real economy by definition regulates for these universal life necessities and against toxic junk, and individuals would not buy 99% of corporate commodities if they did. Victory or loss in the war of the world lies in how we live.. So why does anyone buy such commodities? System addiction is how it grows, and knowledge of life goods versus bads is the through-line of the good life and human evolution itself. What deeper motivation could there be? I like others have long lived without corporate-ad television, regular private auto or gas-vehicle use, any junk food or beverage, any throwaway  item, any new fashion or commodity not more life enabling than the old, or business with big private banks –  selecting solely for life goods at the local level. The organizing principle is the spirit of the Tao-te Ching and the free autonomy of the wise. It is as old as the good life. The life-code formula is clear: minimal market demand to enable life capacities to flourish. This value imperative defines transformation to true economy and liberates life wherever it moves.

 Collective Life Capital as the Common Value Ground and Measure Across Divisions

We know the war of the world can be won. The plague addiction to corporate cigarettes has been conquered by 30-50% of the developed world’s population. This shows how the life code can select against habituated system harms of the most compulsive kind, and everyone live better the more it is done.  At the personal level, it begins with zero-base accounting with money demand only justified by life-enabling gain. Yet for collective life goods, we do not have a principled ground and measure. Collective life capital does not exist in public or expert meaning. Any common life interest or agency at all is excluded unless it promotes profits. The implications are fatal but unseen. Collective provision of the universal human life necessities that have evolved by long social organization and human evolution are blinkered out of the ruling value mechanism. It sees only mechanical ‘growth’ by commodity sales and profits. Everything that makes a society civilised or liveable is blinkered out – common water and sewage systems for all, free movement pathways and life spaces without cost to use, public libraries with unpriced books and films, non-profit healthcare and disease-prevention by public institution, public income security from disemployment, old age and disability, life-protective laws including sufficient minimum wages and environmental regulations, primary to higher education without multiplying debts, and family housing, food and means of life assistance for children without parental money. Yet all these are defunded or eliminated to pay debt-services to private banks and grow business, with the IMF to the Tea Party leading the charge as ‘new efficiencies’ and ‘savings’.

From this built-in erasure of common life ground, the hollowing out of collective life goods  proceeds without any feedback correction. Public wealth is privatized at every level to feed corporate money sequences. Thus fed with endless giant tax and subsidy hand-outs and deregulations to invade further, the demands of the ruling value mechanism multiply further. The collective life base to steer by and regulate does not exist. For example, when Amartya Sen titles his Nobel Laureate monograph “Social Choice”, even he can get no further than atomic aggregates of individual preferences. No collective life goods in themselves are conceivable within the market paradigm. When another progressive economist, Elinor Ostrom, wins the Nobel Prize for Economics years later for her book, Governing the Commons: The Evolution and Institution of Collective Action, she is trapped within the same paradigm. No principle of common life interest or agency beyond mutual self advantage can be conceived. “The commons” and “collective action” are posted on the cover, but no civil commons or agency is seen from universal health care to a public bicycle path. Common life bases can no more compute through the ruling prism than the collective actions required to provide them.

In fact, the underlying problem is ancient. We have lacked a common life-ground since the genocides of first peoples began. It is a very ancient blind spot which has become increasingly fatal with all-powerful technologies of destruction and the deranged money-value code driving them. The eco-genocidal streak goes deep – from the old-testament tribal god command to exterminate all other peoples in Palestine to, millennia later, the first peoples in the New World saying to their modern invaders: “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.” Even “life, liberty and freedom” in the US Constitution reduces to the commerce clause and corporate rights by Supreme Court interpretation. Abdication of life responsibility is built into the-system. The Global Market God rules, and the common life interest and its agency do not exist to it.

How are we to ground beneath this life-blind paradigm whose global mutations threaten evolved life on earth? In the end, the organizing principle crosses the lines of death itself – the life code of value at the collective level. But this common life interest is usurped in its very name. That is why, for example, the young can be killed in masses and arms budgets bankrupt U.S. public sectors  to enrich Big Oil, or people’s homes can be expropriated for private developers as ‘the public interest’ and ‘eminent domain’.  This is the dark side of history, one oppressor rule after another. But the collective life interest is the true bottom line of legitimate governance. The proof is in the conditions of its definition. It must be consistent with the life carrying capacities of all through time. It must be open to life-enabling change. It must go deeper than family, gender, and culture differences. It must include past as well as future generations. It must supersede the ruinous man/nature, economy/environment splits and individual/society duality of interests. It must realize the Three R’s of ecological literacy to be life coherent. It must bridge the past to the present to the future as one process to steer development beyond the holocausts of history. It must embody the economic principles of efficiency, productivity and innovation in life-serving form. It must make all freedom responsible to its life conditions of possibility. It must embed the life bases of all as supreme so it cannot in principle go wrong.

Such a moral code seems impossible. Every demand of the ruling value mechanism is structured against it. Opposing ideologies do not find its common life base. Postmodernism and relativism deny any universal principle of value except the actually ruling one. Political policies are confined to what serves the corporate market system. Issue politics rule fixated on sexual preferences. There is no common life ground recognized or life-value compass to steer by. Collective life capital re-grounds us. It is the life base of the common interest – that without which humanity’s life capacities degrade and die. It is the bridging concept across the ‘the economy-environment’ division as well as cross present and future generations. It is the true meaning of economic necessity and the sole substance of growth and development. In all, collective life capital transcends all divisions by impartial principles that cannot go wrong: (1) a unifying life value regulator enabling all, (2) a generic life-value measure to tell greater from lesser by margins of capacity loss or gain in any case, (3) production of more life value capacity through generational time, (4) cumulative life gain as the organizing goal of the process throughout, (5) the more coherently inclusive in enabling life the better. In this way, the common interest is provided an exact progressive meaning, and collective agency is built into its inner logic of life progression.

Conversely, whatever person, group or system destroys common life capital is objectively evil to the extent of life capacity destruction through time – for example, corporate U.S. oil wars or leisure vehicles destroying natural life. Advancing collective life capital, in contrast, is what “make the world a better place” means. It could be by cures to diseases, more ecological methods, life infrastructure building, advancing knowledge, new ways of seeing, or life-protective laws. All more inclusively enable life without loss and cumulative gain. No real progress is ever made without satisfying this logic of value.  Feeling with across species and tribes, for example, may bind many of us in this room. So too even more so advancing life-coherent knowledge and visual comprehension, as Peter’s films do. The understanding and feeling sides of life keep extending despite death and moral numbing by the ruling value mechanism. Public knowledge via the Internet commons wins against corporate media silencing and propaganda. We see here the underlying struggle across the fields of life. The rising and falling of life capital base and compass can in fact be found in every social policy, decision or movement that goes right or goes wrong. There is no exception. The war of the world is everywhere, and so is our task of life commons awareness and building.

This is not hope without substance. The common life interest is already built into our lives over millennia without our knowing it – the ‘civil commons’ of language, collective water sources and sewage, common safety regimes, shared pathways everywhere, community health rules and healing sites, and everyday life-enabling knowledge institutions at every level – all collective life capital formations that keep advancing beneath notice despite and through diseases and wars. Unseen too is that all are more threatened now by the ruling value mechanism than ever before.   The defining general meaning is all social constructs which enable universal access to life goods. This too is no utopian ideal. It is the measure of true development across all cultures before and after our lives – from environmental economy to universal libraries and education to public water and waste cycles to life-serving laws before which all are equal. These are all forms of collective capital in continuous development without loss and cumulative gain but all are attacked bite by bite by the multiplying money-sequence system now out of control.

The collective life capital developments that are needed now are many, but can be crystallized into three system shifts in general:

(1) public banking for credit and investment in individual and collective life capital growth,

(2) ecological quotas for all consumption of non-renewable energies and materials,

(3) citizen income security guaranteed in return for life-enabling hours of public service.

Movements of masses to demand them completes knowledge in public action.

Under the ruling value mechanism today, in contrast, evolved life on earth is under totalizing attack. 95% of all gains go to 1% with no required life function, while 95% of the world’s life support capacities are pillaged by life-blind money-sequences.. Yet life-value steering is easier than not. Norway for example has led the world in holding onto and advancing its common life capital bases through the system sickness, and emergent Latin America is implicitly building collective life capital deciders from decades of death-squad and foreign money-sequence ruin. Before the Great Reversal, societies everywhere were becoming governed by public policy patterns of similar kinds  - national recovery of control over public owned resources, progressive taxation, public banking and investment, and policy-led elimination of structural depredation of the poor and the environment.  All are methods of collective life capital formation inclusively enabling the lives of individuals across time. “Inclusiveness” is a concept much invoked today, but not with the life capital bases and compass required in the real world.

 Let us overview the condition we face. Once upon a time in the distant past, capitalist organization under public control mass-produced healthy food, clothing and utensil commodities despite brutally exploitative methods.  There was a long painful taming of it over 200 years, and then the Great Reversal from 1980 on usurped progressive social development at every level possible. Since then, the private transnational money-sequence system has been increasingly deregulated to competitively multiply and override all life carrying capacities as its supreme goal – propelling endless wars, public and public sector debt slavery, mass disemployment and majority dispossession for obscene riches. This is the global cancer system which occupied states subsidize, enforce and grow as fast as they can – stripping the soils and forests, poisoning the waters, disemploying peoples and producing disease-causing junks in ever greater volumes. Re-grounding in common life capital, however, exposes every disorder and directs solution to it – the long missing base and measure of ‘the moral science’. It re-sets evolutionary theory itself in which only selfish gene multiplication counts – the biological correlative of the self-multiplying money mechanism. Self-maximizing game theory dominates both and military doctrine, justice and moral analysis besides. Yet common life capital bases are excluded from all of them as the lost life-ground and reference body of our capsizing planetary condition.

New ‘natural’ and ‘social capital’ categories may seem to assist us here. But they now only repeat the vicious circle. ‘Natural capital’ is what can be exploited for more money. ‘Human capital’ is more future private money-demand for its owner. ‘Social capital’ is lower transaction costs for profit. ‘Physical capital’ follows suit. Life capital remains without a name. Collective life capital does not exist. All must be steered back into conserving and producing life goods rather than destroying them, the ultimate policy imperative of the world. The public authority, policies, subsidies and right to issue sovereign money now lavished upon the life-destructive mutations of private money capital thus end without a shot fired. They are now so dependent on counterfeit money-sequences, treaty edicts, public hand-outs and resources that they cannot go a day without them. The public needs only to reclaim them, not to take a thing. .

“Let the Market decide!” all money interests cry. This ruling superstition is more barbaric than any before – essentially, ever more for those with more money to suck the lifeblood of humanity and the earth dry.  Its  ruling delusion is that the best of all possible worlds must follow by the invisible hand. In fact, a deregulated global chaos of private transnational money-sequences exponentially multiply while the world of life capital and goods is cumulatively destroyed. The life capital alternative is self-evident once seen. It grounds in common life capital – life wealth that produces more without loss and new gains for successive generations. Its moral logic is, in fact, the through-line of all human development since language and the cooperative provision of means of life. Unlike the global market of atomically self-maximizing corporations devouring the world for more private profit extraction without end in the delusion that an unseen hand directs all to the best of all possible worlds, collective life capital steers across divisions by an objective and universal life-value base and measure in exact progression which cannot  as life-coherent go wrong. Ecological capital and knowledge capital are its baselines of value compass and coordination across life capital domains, and the unifying principle of all is already implicit in the architecture of modern human thought.

 All that is lacking is life value, ground and measure. They connect life, the ultimate onto-ethical concept, to capital, the ultimate concept of political economy: and so by transitivity, to law, human rights, sustainability and intergenerational equity. The meaning is clear. Valid law is a collective life capital formation providing the rules to live by that coherently protect and enable life.  Human rights are instituted claims of all to what enables their life capacities to be realised as human. Sustainability is of collective life capital, or it is a fraud. Intergenerational equity is access to collective life capital across generational time without loss, or it is a lie. Throughout we see a missing life base presupposed but not yet conscious or defined. Throughout we see that the ruling money-sequence value mechanism is incompetent to comprehend it. Building without loss and for better life across generations is what is ultimately worthwhile. No-one might deny it, but ignorant usurpation of its meaning is what rules. All universally life-enabling progressions of human evolution and history to now are the result of its implicit understanding. You cannot take a clean breath, meet a child safely, enjoy a drink of water, without their support from the past. The warped streak of epics and histories of power is opposite, but even state mass murderers and Wall Street bankers think that they are improving the world – the primary delusion which received theory rationalizes so that few understand.

The lost life-ground is already implicit in healthy lives. Our organic fitness and powers, our depth and breadth of knowledge acquisition, our abilities to perform productive tasks of needed kinds, and most of all our sustained intent to create more life wealth without loss and cumulative gain are the generic parameters of a life code already built into us as human. More than ever we know the plague is ruling, and “the 1% and the 99%” expresses it. But a real economic law holds beneath opinions and times. Public investment in common life capital capacities is the only allocation that works over time.  We know this from America and Canada before their falls, Germany, Japan, Korea after 1950, and the post-1945 age of social life standards across the world. It has been proven again despite sabotages, coups and financial strangulations in Latin America after 1999. The unseen enemy is borderless money sequences with ever more rights. The missing map is diagnosis of the ruling value cancer. The missing link is the life-capital economy all breathe and move by. The war of the world today is won by knowledge action.

 It is the age of forgetting everything

It is the age of remembering all.

It is the age of competing to death

It is the age of our coming together.

It is the age of ignorance and falling apart,

It is the age of more knowing more than ever.

It is the age of losing all that lives,

It is the age of finding common life ground.

It is the age of ever more commodity diseases

It is the age of choosing world life.

It is the age of sleepwalk

to catastrophe,

It is the age of awakening

to shared life meaning.

It is the age when capital destroys the world

It is the age when life capital wins.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – that would bar any use of capital controls –opening the veins

This text is the transcript of Prof. John McMurtry’s  PhD, FRSC keynote lecture, Zeitgeist Conference 2014, University of Toronto March 15, 2014

Painting by Anthony Freda

Turkey Admits Plan to Carry Out False Flag

Zero Hedge reports:

As we noted here, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan had blocked Twitter access to his nation ahead of what was rumored to be a “spectacular” leak before this weekend’s elections. Then this morning, amid a mad scramble, he reportedly (despite the nation’s court ruling the bans illegal) blocked YouTube access. However, by the magic of the interwebs, we have the ‘leaked’ clip and it is clear why he wanted it blocked/banned. As the rough translation explains, it purports to be a conversation between key Turkish military and political leaders discussing what appears to be a false flag attack to launch war with Syria.

Among the most damning sections:

Ahmet Davutolu: “Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”

Hakan Fidan: “I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

Feridun Sinirliolu: “Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”

Ya?ar Güler: “It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”

Feridun Sinirolu: There are some serious shifts in global and regional geopolitics. It now can spread to other places. You said it yourself today, and others agreed… We’re headed to a different game now. We should be able to see those. That ISIL and all that jazz, all those organizations are extremely open to manipulation. Having a region made up of organizations of similar nature will constitute a vital security risk for us. And when we first went into Northern Iraq, there was always the risk of PKK blowing up the place. If we thoroughly consider the risks and substantiate… As the general just said…

Yaar Güler: Sir, when you were inside a moment ago, we were discussing just that. Openly. I mean, armed forces are a “tool” necessary for you in every turn.

Ahmet Davutolu: Of course. I always tell the Prime Minister, in your absence, the same thing in academic jargon, you can’t stay in those lands without hard power. Without hard power, there can be no soft power.

A full translation can be found here

And just in case you had faith that this was all made up and Erdogan is right to ban it… he just admitted it was true!

To summarize: a recording confirming a NATO-member country planned a false-flag war with Syria (where have we seen that before?) and all the Prime Minister has to say is the leak was “immoral.”

Erdogan is not amused:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan described the leaking on YouTube on Thursday of a recording of top security officials discussing possible military operations in Syria as “villainous”and the government blocked access to the video-sharing site.

“They even leaked a national security meeting. This is villainous, this is dishonesty…Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?” Erdogan declared before supporters at a rally ahead of March 30 local polls that will be a key test of his support amid a corruption scandal.

In other words, the Turkish Prime Minister has admitted that the tape is authentic .. and is between top Turkish military and political leaders.

Good Morning Turkey names names as to who was involved in the discussion:

Turkey’s foreign minister, intelligence chief and a top army general …. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler ….

Indeed, Turkey has been sheltering and training Syrian rebels for man years, and there have been allegations for years that Turkey was instigating false flag attacks and blaming Syria.

Nothing New … Governments from Around the World Admit They Carry Out False Flag Terror

Sadly, this is common, since governments from around the world admit they carry out false flag terror:

  • A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland. Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson
  • Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union’s Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939, and declared that the fire originated from Finland as a basis launching the Winter War four days later
  • Israel admits that an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this)
  • The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister
  • As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960′s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news reportthe official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.
  • 2 years before, American Senator George Smathers had suggested that the U.S. make “a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]“.
  • And Official State Department documents show that – only nine months before the Joint Chiefs of Staff plan was proposed – the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The 3 plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals
  • A U.S. Congressional committee admitted that – as part of its “Cointelpro” campaign – the FBI had used many provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists
  • The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him “to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident”, thus framing the ANC for the bombing
  • An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author)
  • Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion)
  • According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.
  • The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings
  • As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the “war on terror”.
  • Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”
  • United Press International reported in June 2005:

    U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

  • Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians
  • Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this)
  • At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence
  • A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat
  • U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then “drop” automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants
  • The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – recently admitted that the Saudi government controls “Chechen” terrorists

So Common … There’s a Name for It

This tactic is so common that it was given a name for hundreds of years ago.

“False flag terrorism” is defined as a government attacking its own people, then blaming others in order to justify going to war against the people it blames. Or as Wikipedia defines it:

False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one’s own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy’s strategy of tension.

The term comes from the old days of wooden ships, when one ship would hang the flag of its enemy before attacking another ship in its own navy. Because the enemy’s flag, instead of the flag of the real country of the attacking ship, was hung, it was called a “false flag” attack.

Indeed, this concept is so well-accepted that rules of engagement for navalair and land warfare all prohibit false flag attacks.

Leaders Throughout History Have Acknowledged False Flags

Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the danger of false flags:

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”
- Plato

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
- U.S. President James Madison

“A history of false flag attacks used to manipulate the minds of the people! “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”.
- Adolph Hitler

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
- Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.
- Josef Stalin

People Are Waking Up to False Flags

People are slowly waking up to this whole con job by governments who want to justify war.

More people are talking about the phrase “false flag” than ever before.

Here Comes Ukrainian Hemp

March 28th, 2014 by David Swanson

So the United States wants to buy hemp from the Ukraine. I suppose we should be happy. Anytime the U.S. government gives a country money that is not earmarked for weapons, we probably shouldn’t too closely examine the unelected neo-liberals and neo-Nazis handling the cash.  Nobody pays attention to the Saudi government or the oil, wars, and terrorism it provides in exchange for U.S. largesse.

Of course if the hemp buy is part of a larger package deal that impoverishes the Ukraine for the benefit of Western plutocrats, gets NATO’s nose under the door, threatens Russia, and encourages the NED to hire the companies that name paint colors in hopes of finding unique names for all the revolutions it’s going to plan next, we may want to oppose the whole package.

But isn’t the precedent of connecting U.S. foreign policy in any way to a substance that benefits, rather than destroys, the environment of potentially great value?  While buying hemp abroad might be a move against permitting the production of hemp at home, won’t it just further fuel the argument that it’s insane to make U.S. companies import a raw material that they could much more cheaply grow (while creating jobs, restoring soil, slowing climate change, and garnering some 478 other benefits of hemp)?

Or is insanity just not that big a concern? Jon Walker has a book out called After Legalization.  And there’s a book called Hemp Bound by Doug Fine.  These guys are convinced that marijuana and hemp are both about to be legalized in the United States.  One of their arguments is that doing so has majority support  — and support, they stress, from across the political spectrum (Fine can’t quote anybody without emphasizing that the person is NOT A HIPPIE).  “Since when do 80% of Americans agree on anything, as they do that the drug war is a failure?” asks Fine.

Well, let me count the ways.  I’ve been referring for years to this fine collection of polls: http://YesMagazine.org/purpleagenda In fact, 80% in the U.S. believe their government is broken, and I suspect they do so in part because so often their government ignores the will of 80% of the country, be it on ceasing to threaten Iran, investing more in green energy or education, or holding bankers to the rule of law.  Eighty percent and more usually support restoring money to the minimum wage, as it continues to plummet.  Ninety percent want higher fuel efficiency standards.  Eighty percent would ban weapons in space, enforce laws against torture, strengthen the United Nations, reduce the power and influence of big corporations, restore voting rights for ex-felons, create a justice system that does rehabilitation, allow immigrants to apply for citizenship, etc., etc.  Never mind the countless sane and important policies supported by 75% or 68% or 52% — which damn well ought to be enough once in a while but almost never is.

Walker says the difference is that pot doesn’t have any enemies.  Fine writes as if he expects no enemies either.  And yet, Fine refers repeatedly to the great damage hemp will do to oil companies and even to the war machine.  Now, I don’t know to what extent there’s truth behind the supposition that major corporate interests favored the banning of marijuana and hemp, as they had favored the banning of alcohol (they certainly benefitted from its being banned and remaining banned), but we know the oil companies killed public transit and the electric car and the Gulf of Mexico. These are not lightweights when it comes to amoral short-term struggles.  And you can add to them the petrochemical, plastics, timber, alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical drug companies, as well as the herbicide companies (hemp doesn’t require any), the agribusinesses currently subsidized, and — last but not least — the urine testing, property seizure, police and prison industries — including the prison guard unions.  Oh and let’s not neglect the State Department that wants to buy hemp from abroad as carrots for austerity schemes, and the foreign nations from whom the hemp is bought.  Who in their right mind would put sanity up against that whole crowd? I’m not even counting people too ignorant to distinguish hemp from marijuana, or who think marijuana kills you, or whom Jesus told pot comes from the devil.

Of course, I hope we will legalize hemp immediately (I mean nationally, I’m aware of the steps many states are taking). It’s just going to require a great deal of effort, I’m afraid.

Then there’s another worry.  Will marijuana and hemp be legalized but monopolized, corporatized, and Wal-Martized? Walker says pot won’t be because nobody would buy it.  Fine says the same of hemp, and that the U.S. should ban GMO hemp from the start, as Canada has done — as if banning GMO anything in the U.S. were as easy as passing a billion-dollar subsidy for a space weapon that threatens Iran, weakens the U.N., makes us dumber, and damages the atmosphere.  For hemp to sell, Fine writes, it has to keep a positive image that includes “a quest for world peace” — which I take to mean more quoting Nobel laureates on packaging than funding the peace movement.  But who’s going to know it’s GMO if labeling on such points is banned?

Legalization is entirely doable, and the pressures in its favor are indeed likely to grow, but it’s going to require huge public pressure.  Where books like Walker’s and Fine’s are most helpful is informing that little snippet of the public that reads books of the incredible benefits to be gained.  Hemp is apparently the healthiest food on earth, both for feeding people and for feeding farm animals whom people eat or from which people eat the eggs or drink the milk.  The same crop of hemp can, if all goes well, produce material stronger than steel or softer than cotton.  And the same crop can, in theory, produce a third thing at the same time, from yet another part of the plant: fuel.  You can build your tractor out of hemp, fuel it with hemp, and use it to harvest hemp — hemp that is busy restoring your soil, preventing erosion, and surviving the drought and climate change.  You can do this while eating and drinking hemp and wearing clothes made of hemp and washed with hemp in your house also made of hemp and lime – a house that sucks carbon out of the atmosphere. (The list of products and benefits is endless.  One that Fine cites is body armor, although how that fits into the quest for world peace is not clear.)

I’m not a fan of devoting acres needed for food production to fuel production, but a crop that produces both fuel and food (and building materials) — if it really can do all that at once — might alter the calculation.  Biofuel aside, hemp has more than enough benefits to start investing in it right now, if sanity were on the table.  Take the U.S. troops stationed in 175 countries and reduce that total by 5 countries per year.  Instead, buy those countries’ hemp AND invest billions in our own (hire the former troops to grow it).  It’s win-win-win, except for whichever profiteers have their interests in the wrong place.  Watch out for them.

The Real Face of Ukraine’s Maidan “Democrats”

March 28th, 2014 by Ulrich Rippert

Two events this week have exposed the propaganda used by the German government and its allies to justify their actions in Ukraine: the death of Alexander Musytchko and a telephone conversation with Yulia Timoschenko, which was intercepted and made public.

Musytchko, coordinator of the fascist Right Sector in western Ukraine, was shot on Monday in a police operation near the west Ukrainian town of Rivne. Reports on his death are contradictory.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov stated that Musytchko, who was wanted for “malicious hooliganism and resisting state forces,” was killed during an exchange of shots with the police when he put up armed resistance to his arrest.

By contrast, Right Sector activists claim that their leader was in fact executed. They said that armed men arrived in two VW buses and forced Musytchko and five others to leave a cafe in Rivne. Behind the cafe, they made sure that Musytchko was not wearing a bulletproof vest and then killed him with two shots in the heart.

The Right Sector militants have sworn they will avenge themselves on Interior Minister Arsen Asakov.

Sections of the German media tried to portray the police action against Musytchko as a welcome step in the direction of the rule of law. In fact, it reveals the character of the fascist and criminal elements upon which the West has relied to overthrow elected president Victor Yanukovitch and bring a more compliant regime to power.

The circumstances of Musytchko’s killing recall the Röhm putsch through which Hitler eliminated the leadership of the SA storm troopers in 1934 after they had fulfilled their task, rather than any move towards the rule of law.

Alexander Musytchko, better known by the name “white Sascha,” was deputy commander of Right Sector, which played a decisive role in forcing President Yanukovitch from power in February’s coup.

As leader of the paramilitary Ukrainian national assembly–Ukrainian national self-defence (UNA-UNSO), Musytchko, who had a long criminal career behind him, controlled the most militant wing of Right Sector. According to his credo, he would “fight communists, Jews and Russians as long as blood flows through my veins.”

Already in 1995, A Ukrainian court found Musytchko guilty of grievous bodily harm, and in 2003, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for bribery. In the mid-1990s, he fought on the side of Chechen rebels against Russian government troops. At that time, he was head of a Ukrainian terrorist organisation called Viking and was the bodyguard of Chechnya’s separatist president Dudayev for a time.

Russian authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest, because he allegedly brutally tortured at least 20 imprisoned Russian soldiers in the Caucasus before killing them. “White Sascha” responded to the warrant by promising a reward of $10-$12 million to anyone who could “eliminate” Putin.

After the overthrow of Yanukovitch, Musytchko was heavily involved in acts of violence, intimidation and arbitrary measures against political opponents.

The day after the right-wing coup, he appeared in a military uniform at the regional parliament in the Rivne administrative district brandishing a Kalashnikov. He then forced a parliamentary sitting to implement his demands. These included the provision of accommodation for his supporters in Right Sector.

Three days later, he stormed the office of the district administrator of Rivne with a group of supporters and assaulted him on camera. The courts investigated complaints and statements according to which Musytchko and his supporters had arbitrarily confiscated cars and occupied houses.

When the new government in Kiev issued a warrant for his arrest, Musytchko threatened Interior Minister Asakov that he would “hang by the legs like a dog and be exterminated.”

Shortly thereafter, Musytchko was liquidated in a police operation.

Interior Minister Asakov is a member of Yulia Timoschenko’s Fatherland Party, which is also far from squeamish in its dealings with political opponents. The Western media has portrayed Timoschenko, who made millions in the gas industry in the 1990s, as an icon of the Orange Revolution and a fighter for democracy. However, an excerpt of a telephone call between Timoschenko and her close ally Nestor Chufritch appeared on the Internet on Tuesday, which exposed the “icon” as a vulgar, unscrupulous criminal driven by hatred.

It was necessary to seize arms and get rid of the Russians and their leaders, she declared, obviously referring to Vladimir Putin. She was “ready to hold a pistol and shoot the bastard in the brain.” Responding to the question of how the 8 million Russians on Ukrainian territory should be dealt with, she answered that they should “be targeted by nuclear weapons.”

Moreover, her discussion was full of obscene and insulting terms. She used the disparaging description “kazap” for Russians and peppered “the dialogue with all sorts of Russian swearwords, which are disingenuously translated with terms like ‘damned,’ ‘dirt’ and ‘Russian dogs’,” as Der Spiegel wrote.

Timoschenko subsequently confirmed the authenticity of the discussion on Twitter while declaring that her statement about the 8 million Russians had been passed on incorrectly.

Timoschenko’s hatred-filled tirades, which threaten to provoke civil war, even compelled the German government to distance itself from the leader of the Fatherland Party whom Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously repeatedly met and admitted to Germany for specialised medical treatment. Government spokesman Stefan Seibert declared on the chancellor’s behalf that there were “limits to speech and thought which should not be breached.” Timoschenko’s fantasies of violence were “beyond that limit.”

This did not prevent Timoschenko, however, from announcing on Thursday her candidacy in the Ukrainian presidential elections.

Two events this week have exposed the propaganda used by the German government and its allies to justify their actions in Ukraine: the death of Alexander Musytchko and a telephone conversation with Yulia Timoschenko, which was intercepted and made public.

Musytchko, coordinator of the fascist Right Sector in western Ukraine, was shot on Monday in a police operation near the west Ukrainian town of Rivne. Reports on his death are contradictory.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov stated that Musytchko, who was wanted for “malicious hooliganism and resisting state forces,” was killed during an exchange of shots with the police when he put up armed resistance to his arrest.

By contrast, Right Sector activists claim that their leader was in fact executed. They said that armed men arrived in two VW buses and forced Musytchko and five others to leave a cafe in Rivne. Behind the cafe, they made sure that Musytchko was not wearing a bulletproof vest and then killed him with two shots in the heart.

The Right Sector militants have sworn they will avenge themselves on Interior Minister Arsen Asakov.

Sections of the German media tried to portray the police action against Musytchko as a welcome step in the direction of the rule of law. In fact, it reveals the character of the fascist and criminal elements upon which the West has relied to overthrow elected president Victor Yanukovitch and bring a more compliant regime to power.

The circumstances of Musytchko’s killing recall the Röhm putsch through which Hitler eliminated the leadership of the SA storm troopers in 1934 after they had fulfilled their task, rather than any move towards the rule of law.

Alexander Musytchko, better known by the name “white Sascha,” was deputy commander of Right Sector, which played a decisive role in forcing President Yanukovitch from power in February’s coup.

As leader of the paramilitary Ukrainian national assembly–Ukrainian national self-defence (UNA-UNSO), Musytchko, who had a long criminal career behind him, controlled the most militant wing of Right Sector. According to his credo, he would “fight communists, Jews and Russians as long as blood flows through my veins.”

Already in 1995, A Ukrainian court found Musytchko guilty of grievous bodily harm, and in 2003, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for bribery. In the mid-1990s, he fought on the side of Chechen rebels against Russian government troops. At that time, he was head of a Ukrainian terrorist organisation called Viking and was the bodyguard of Chechnya’s separatist president Dudayev for a time.

Russian authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest, because he allegedly brutally tortured at least 20 imprisoned Russian soldiers in the Caucasus before killing them. “White Sascha” responded to the warrant by promising a reward of $10-$12 million to anyone who could “eliminate” Putin.

After the overthrow of Yanukovitch, Musytchko was heavily involved in acts of violence, intimidation and arbitrary measures against political opponents.

The day after the right-wing coup, he appeared in a military uniform at the regional parliament in the Rivne administrative district brandishing a Kalashnikov. He then forced a parliamentary sitting to implement his demands. These included the provision of accommodation for his supporters in Right Sector.

Three days later, he stormed the office of the district administrator of Rivne with a group of supporters and assaulted him on camera. The courts investigated complaints and statements according to which Musytchko and his supporters had arbitrarily confiscated cars and occupied houses.

When the new government in Kiev issued a warrant for his arrest, Musytchko threatened Interior Minister Asakov that he would “hang by the legs like a dog and be exterminated.”

Shortly thereafter, Musytchko was liquidated in a police operation.

Interior Minister Asakov is a member of Yulia Timoschenko’s Fatherland Party, which is also far from squeamish in its dealings with political opponents. The Western media has portrayed Timoschenko, who made millions in the gas industry in the 1990s, as an icon of the Orange Revolution and a fighter for democracy. However, an excerpt of a telephone call between Timoschenko and her close ally Nestor Chufritch appeared on the Internet on Tuesday, which exposed the “icon” as a vulgar, unscrupulous criminal driven by hatred.

It was necessary to seize arms and get rid of the Russians and their leaders, she declared, obviously referring to Vladimir Putin. She was “ready to hold a pistol and shoot the bastard in the brain.” Responding to the question of how the 8 million Russians on Ukrainian territory should be dealt with, she answered that they should “be targeted by nuclear weapons.”

Moreover, her discussion was full of obscene and insulting terms. She used the disparaging description “kazap” for Russians and peppered “the dialogue with all sorts of Russian swearwords, which are disingenuously translated with terms like ‘damned,’ ‘dirt’ and ‘Russian dogs’,” as Der Spiegel wrote.

Timoschenko subsequently confirmed the authenticity of the discussion on Twitter while declaring that her statement about the 8 million Russians had been passed on incorrectly.

Timoschenko’s hatred-filled tirades, which threaten to provoke civil war, even compelled the German government to distance itself from the leader of the Fatherland Party whom Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously repeatedly met and admitted to Germany for specialised medical treatment. Government spokesman Stefan Seibert declared on the chancellor’s behalf that there were “limits to speech and thought which should not be breached.” Timoschenko’s fantasies of violence were “beyond that limit.”

This did not prevent Timoschenko, however, from announcing on Thursday her candidacy in the Ukrainian presidential elections.

Two events this week have exposed the propaganda used by the German government and its allies to justify their actions in Ukraine: the death of Alexander Musytchko and a telephone conversation with Yulia Timoschenko, which was intercepted and made public.

Musytchko, coordinator of the fascist Right Sector in western Ukraine, was shot on Monday in a police operation near the west Ukrainian town of Rivne. Reports on his death are contradictory.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov stated that Musytchko, who was wanted for “malicious hooliganism and resisting state forces,” was killed during an exchange of shots with the police when he put up armed resistance to his arrest.

By contrast, Right Sector activists claim that their leader was in fact executed. They said that armed men arrived in two VW buses and forced Musytchko and five others to leave a cafe in Rivne. Behind the cafe, they made sure that Musytchko was not wearing a bulletproof vest and then killed him with two shots in the heart.

The Right Sector militants have sworn they will avenge themselves on Interior Minister Arsen Asakov.

Sections of the German media tried to portray the police action against Musytchko as a welcome step in the direction of the rule of law. In fact, it reveals the character of the fascist and criminal elements upon which the West has relied to overthrow elected president Victor Yanukovitch and bring a more compliant regime to power.

The circumstances of Musytchko’s killing recall the Röhm putsch through which Hitler eliminated the leadership of the SA storm troopers in 1934 after they had fulfilled their task, rather than any move towards the rule of law.

Alexander Musytchko, better known by the name “white Sascha,” was deputy commander of Right Sector, which played a decisive role in forcing President Yanukovitch from power in February’s coup.

As leader of the paramilitary Ukrainian national assembly–Ukrainian national self-defence (UNA-UNSO), Musytchko, who had a long criminal career behind him, controlled the most militant wing of Right Sector. According to his credo, he would “fight communists, Jews and Russians as long as blood flows through my veins.”

Already in 1995, A Ukrainian court found Musytchko guilty of grievous bodily harm, and in 2003, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for bribery. In the mid-1990s, he fought on the side of Chechen rebels against Russian government troops. At that time, he was head of a Ukrainian terrorist organisation called Viking and was the bodyguard of Chechnya’s separatist president Dudayev for a time.

Russian authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest, because he allegedly brutally tortured at least 20 imprisoned Russian soldiers in the Caucasus before killing them. “White Sascha” responded to the warrant by promising a reward of $10-$12 million to anyone who could “eliminate” Putin.

After the overthrow of Yanukovitch, Musytchko was heavily involved in acts of violence, intimidation and arbitrary measures against political opponents.

The day after the right-wing coup, he appeared in a military uniform at the regional parliament in the Rivne administrative district brandishing a Kalashnikov. He then forced a parliamentary sitting to implement his demands. These included the provision of accommodation for his supporters in Right Sector.

Three days later, he stormed the office of the district administrator of Rivne with a group of supporters and assaulted him on camera. The courts investigated complaints and statements according to which Musytchko and his supporters had arbitrarily confiscated cars and occupied houses.

When the new government in Kiev issued a warrant for his arrest, Musytchko threatened Interior Minister Asakov that he would “hang by the legs like a dog and be exterminated.”

Shortly thereafter, Musytchko was liquidated in a police operation.

Interior Minister Asakov is a member of Yulia Timoschenko’s Fatherland Party, which is also far from squeamish in its dealings with political opponents. The Western media has portrayed Timoschenko, who made millions in the gas industry in the 1990s, as an icon of the Orange Revolution and a fighter for democracy. However, an excerpt of a telephone call between Timoschenko and her close ally Nestor Chufritch appeared on the Internet on Tuesday, which exposed the “icon” as a vulgar, unscrupulous criminal driven by hatred.

It was necessary to seize arms and get rid of the Russians and their leaders, she declared, obviously referring to Vladimir Putin. She was “ready to hold a pistol and shoot the bastard in the brain.” Responding to the question of how the 8 million Russians on Ukrainian territory should be dealt with, she answered that they should “be targeted by nuclear weapons.”

Moreover, her discussion was full of obscene and insulting terms. She used the disparaging description “kazap” for Russians and peppered “the dialogue with all sorts of Russian swearwords, which are disingenuously translated with terms like ‘damned,’ ‘dirt’ and ‘Russian dogs’,” as Der Spiegel wrote.

Timoschenko subsequently confirmed the authenticity of the discussion on Twitter while declaring that her statement about the 8 million Russians had been passed on incorrectly.

Timoschenko’s hatred-filled tirades, which threaten to provoke civil war, even compelled the German government to distance itself from the leader of the Fatherland Party whom Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously repeatedly met and admitted to Germany for specialised medical treatment. Government spokesman Stefan Seibert declared on the chancellor’s behalf that there were “limits to speech and thought which should not be breached.” Timoschenko’s fantasies of violence were “beyond that limit.”

This did not prevent Timoschenko, however, from announcing on Thursday her candidacy in the Ukrainian presidential elections.

On Wednesday night Egyptian coup leader Field Marshall Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi officially declared his plan to run for president in upcoming elections. This is the latest effort in the US-backed junta’s carefully planned campaign to install its leader as president in order to tighten its grip over the country and brutally confront rising working class opposition.

Sisi’s televised address to the nation was a cynical mixture of nationalist phrasemongering and barely veiled threats. “I am here before you humbly stating my intention to run for the presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt,” Sisi declared. “Only your support will grant me this great honor.” After announcing his nominal resignation from the military, he added that he considered himself “a soldier serving my country in any capacity desired by Egyptians.”

Sisi’s claim that he will act in the interests of the Egyptian people is a grotesque lie. Only a few days ago Egyptian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour compared Sisi to the former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, demanding that “this country as it stands today needs a strongman that can pull it together… Law and order is good toward investment and toward the economy.”

As with Pinochet, Sisi is a US-backed dictator prepared to use fascistic methods to suppress the working class at the behest of its imperialist patrons and international finance capital.

In his speech, Sisi threatened the impoverished Egyptian masses with austerity and suffering. He warned: “I cannot make miracles. Rather, I propose hard work and self-denial,” in order to “restore” Egypt.

Sisi cynically sought to wrap his declaration of war against the working class in the mantle of democracy. “My determination to run in the elections does not bar others from their right to run. I will be happy if whoever the people choose succeeds,” he declared, adding that he hopes for “a nation for all without exclusion.”

This is coming from a man who has overseen bloody massacres and large-scale repression over the past several months. Since the July 3, 2013 coup, the military junta under Sisi’s leadership has violently dispersed countless sit-ins, demonstrations and strikes, killing at least 1,400 people and jailing more than 16,000. It has banned the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt’s main bourgeois opposition party, issued an anti-protest law and enshrined continued military rule in the constitution.

On Monday, an Egyptian court, in an act of political mass murder, sentenced 529 MB supporters to death. Further show trials are prepared. Only hours before Sisi’s speech, Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered another 919 MB members—including the MB’s Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, and the leader of its political arm, Saad al-Katatni—to stand trial on charges including murder and terrorism.

While the junta is intensifying its campaign of terror, intimidation and outright political murder, the imperialist powers have combined pro forma criticism of the death sentences—European Council President Herman van Rompuy declared after meeting US President Barack Obama in Brussels on Wednesday that the US and the EU were “appalled” by the sentences—with declarations of support to install a mass murderer as president.

With consummate cynicism, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. “As the election process moves forward we urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure that the elections are free, fair, and transparent; that all candidates are able to campaign freely, without fear of harassment or intimidation; and that the views of all the Egyptian people are fully represented.”

The Egyptian newspaper Ahram Online quoted an “European ambassador” as saying: “He [Sisi] has a very calculating mind and I am not surprised he took such a long time—although it was rather too long—to make his announcement.”

Sisi’s run for presidency exposes the fraud of the alleged “democratic transition” promoted by the imperialist powers, the military junta and the official political parties in Egypt alike.

More than three years after the revolutionary ouster of long-time dictator and US-stooge Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian ruling elite and its imperialist backers are moving to install an even more direct brutal dictatorship to put an end to all strikes and protests.

Sisi’s speech comes amidst a deepening social crisis and a renewed explosion of working class struggles. According to Democracy Meter, an Egyptian research center, the number of strikes and protests in Egypt reached a record 1,044 in February. On Tuesday the Egyptian online newspaper Mada Masr wrote that “despite official attempts to bring an end to a wave of labor unrest… a broad range of Egypt’s labor workforce embarked on nationwide strikes on Tuesday.” It reported: “Doctors, dentists, pharmacists, postal workers, textile workers, custodial staff and others all staged walkouts during the day.”

The junta is preparing to confront the working class with brutal terror. According to reports, police forces arrested strike leaders of the 50,000-member postal workers strike in dawn raids on Tuesday in Egypt’s second largest city Alexandria. The postal chief has reportedly claimed that the workers are affiliated to the MB, which was denied by family members. During the past two days, security forces brutally cracked down on students in Cairo protesting the death sentences for MB members. At least one student was killed.

The junta’s violent attempts to crush all opposition to its rule highlight the counterrevolutionary character of the liberal and “left” political organizations of Egypt’s affluent middle class. Organizations such as the National Salvation Front (NSF) and Tamarod—and their pseudo-left supporters, most prominently the misnamed Revolutionary Socialists (RS) group—played a key role in channeling the mass protests against Mohammed Mursi behind the military.

Now most of these groups are directly supporting Sisi’s presidency. The Tamarod movement gave its full-fledged support to Sisi. In a statement published on Wednesday it claimed that “our choice for a figure like the marshal [Sisi] is representative of a big section of the Egyptian people.”

Nasserite politician Hamdeen Sabahi, a leader of the NSF and the Karama Party, and so far the only other presidential candidate, praised Sisi’s candidacy in a tweet. “I welcome Sisi’s candidacy, and we seek … democratic elections that [are] transparent and guarantee neutrality of the nation and the will of the people to choose their president freely.”

The liberal Constitution Party, formerly led by Mohammad ElBaradei, also hinted its support, declaring that “Sisi has the right to enter the race as civilian citizen after resigning from his military position.”

NATO’s Plans for False Flag Attack on Turkey?

March 28th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

It has been revealed that NATO has been planning a false flag attack against Turkey to justify the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, the International Business Times reported in its article, “Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript of Leaked Syria ‘War’ Conversation Between Erdogan Officials.”

Image: While the West obsesses solely on Turkey’s ban of Twitter and Facebook in what it claims are attempts to “cover up corruption,” in reality, leaks from the top of Turkish leadership revealed NATO’s ongoing plans to carry out a false flag attack to trigger a destructive, premeditated war with neighboring Syria – in what appears to be one final, desperate gambit to steal victory in the West’s proxy war against Damascus. (photo by Reuters)

 

It released the full transcript of a leaked conversation between the head of Turkish intelligence Hakan Fidan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The Times reported:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ban of YouTube occurred after a leaked conversation between Head of Turkish Intelligence Hakan Fidan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu that he wanted removed from the video-sharing website.

The leaked call details Erdogan’s thoughts that an attack on Syria “must be seen as an opportunity for us [Turkey]“.

In the conversation, intelligence chief Fidan says that he will send four men from Syria to attack Turkey to “make up a cause of war”.

Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yaşar Güler replies that Fidan’s projected actions are “a direct cause of war…what you’re going to do is a direct cause of war”.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said the leaked recording of top officials discussing the Syria operation was “partially manipulated” and is a “wretched attack” on national security.

In the leaked video, Fidan is discussing with Davutoğlu, Güler and other officials a possible operation within Syria to secure the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire.

The Western media has purposefully obsessed myopically over Turkey’s ban of Twitter and Facebook and leaks regarding “corruption,” in an attempt to sidestep conversations revealing Turkey, a NATO member for decades, planning a false flag attack that would lead to an intentionally provoked war with neighboring Syria.

This comes as Turkey provides air support, logistics, and artillery cover for members of the US State Department designated terrorist group Al Nursa who have been leading an ongoing offensive from Turkish territory into Syria’s northwestern province of Latakia.

Since the operation began days ago, Turkey has fired on and shot down a Syrian warplane that was targeting Al Nusra militants in Syrian territory. While Turkey claims the warplane violated Turkish airspace, the plane crashed in Syrian territory, and the pilot ejected and was recovered on Syrian soil. The incident has been used by Turkey to lay the rhetorical groundwork to further escalate tensions between Ankara and Damascus, most likely in an attempt to serve as an impetus for war instead of NATO’s riskier false flag operation.

Turkey’s belligerent posture in the north of Syria is matched by a joint US-Saudi offensive in the south, near the Syrian-Jordanian border city of Daraa. Called the “Southern Front,” the offensive appears to already have been neutralized by Syrian security forces.

Regarding the creation of the “Southern Front,” the US corporate-funded policy think tank, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, even stated in its post, “Does the “Southern Front” Exist?,” that:

Rather than an initiative from the rebels themselves, word is that it was foreign officials that called on rebel commanders to sign a statement declaring their opposition to extremism, saying it was a precondition for getting more guns and money. Since beggars can’t be choosers, the commanders then collectively shrugged their shoulders and signed—but not so much to declare a new alliance as to help U.S. officials tick all the right boxes in their reports back home, hoping that this would unlock another crate of guns.

With the “Southern Front” arriving on the battlefield stillborn, and NATO resorting to false flag attacks in blatant support of Al Qaeda-affiliated terror organizations, the West’s desperation in what appears to be a strategic “last gasp” is palpable.

Fighting continues in northern Syria – as NATO-backed Al Qaeda militants desecrate churches, displace local population, and impose “Sharia law.”

Fighting on the Syrian-Turkish border near the northwestern Syrian town of Kassab between Al Qaeda insurgents Jabhat Al Nusra and the Syrian military continues for the fifth day.

Insurgents are shelling the towns near Kassab in Latakia province while the military is returning fire on their positions.
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Point 45, a strategic hilltop overlooking Latakia’s countryside and Kassab, was regained by the Syrian army, initially lost to the mlitants flooding in from the Turkish side of the border.
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Meanwhile the insurgents are reported to have moved through Kassab village reaching the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
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No Response from the Predictably Silent United Nations
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The Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Bashaar al Jaafari, has sent an official letter to the UN Security Council regarding Turkey’s support of the Al Qaeda offensive in Syria. Early in the battle Turkey shot down a Syrian jet firing at Al Qaeda targets flooding in from the Turkish border. In turn Russia proposed a UN Security Council statement on Al Qaeda’s shelling of Latakia province.

Armenians gathered Wednesday outside UN Commission headquarters in the Armenian capital Yerevan to protest what they saw as a Turkish-led Al Qaeda attack on the Armenian village in Kassab. Thousands of Armenians settled in Syria after the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The Attack on Kassab resulted in thousands of Armenians fleeing the area.

Image: infographic from Armenian media Emedia.

“We condemn UN silence over this crime and believe that it is a tacit approval of Turkey’s conduct,” the protestors told journalists.

Protesters handed the UN Commission a letter that condemned the attack, describing it as a violation of international law and a breach of international commitments.

The Armenian president thanked the Syrian government for protecting Armenians in Kassab in a press conference, while on Wednesday members of Armenian parliament visited Latakia and met with Kassab Armenians to report on the situation.

Image: Armenians protest the United Nations silence on AlQaeda’s attack in Yervan


Churches Desecrated

The Al Qaeda affiliated insurgents launching the offensive have ransacked churches (as they have in other areas of Syria), removing all crosses and removing the faces from many statues. The insurgents also began seizing and destroying alcohol citing that it is now contraband under their version of “Sharia law.” Early signs of the Sharia courts have been seen in other rebel held areas in the country.

 

 

Images: Al Qaeda militants tweet that they have removed all crosses from churches and that alcohol is now contra ban.

The Ukrainian parliament has adopted an anti-crisis bill proposed by the IMF to secure an international financial aid package. Ordinary Ukrainians will have to tighten their belts to help the coup-installed government keep the collapsing economy afloat.

It took two readings of the bill for 246 MPs out of 321 registered to approve the austerity measures outlined in the legislation dubbed “On prevention of financial catastrophe and creation of prerequisites for economic growth.”

Ahead of the vote, Ukrainian self-imposed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk told the Parliament that it had “no other choice but to accept the IMF offer,” as country fiscal gap in 2014 is projected to reach $26 billion. Ukraine’s Finance Ministry says it needs $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default.

“The country is on the edge of economic and financial bankruptcy,” Yatsenyuk said. “This package of laws is very unpopular, very difficult, very tough. Reforms that should have been done in the past 20 years.”

It is ordinary Ukrainians who will suffer the most under the new austerity measures as the floating national currency is likely to push up inflation, while spike in domestic gas prices will impact every household. Under the IMF conditions Kiev has to cut the budget deficit, increase retail energy tariffs, and shift to a flexible exchange rate.

The state-owned energy company Naftogaz already said that it will increase household gas prices by 50 percent starting May 1, while utility companies will see a 40 percent rise as of July. According to estimates, this year Ukraine’s economy will contract by 3 percent while inflation will rise to 14 percent. The government is not planning to raise minimum wages in response to inflation.

The law adopted on Thursday, in particular, introduces a permanent application of the basic rate of corporate income tax at 18 percent and VAT at 20 percent, according to RBC-Ukraine. The government will also cancel the VAT refund for grain exporters.

The bill also introduces a 15 percent tax rate on pension payments if they exceed 10 thousand hryvnas (about $900). This tax, however, won’t really hurt an ordinary Ukrainian pensioner since an average pension in Ukraine is $160 – which may be further cut by 50% for those still working.

A progressive personal income taxation scale has also been installed to charge individuals 15, 17, 20 and 25 percent depending on their earnings. Those persons who make over 1 million hryvnas will be charged 25 percent income tax.

Car enthusiasts will also suffer as taxes on new cars and motorcycles with engine capacity exceeding 0.5 liters will also be doubled. Those who shop online and use overseas retailers will now see lowering of the limit on tax-free imports from 300 to 150 euros.

Excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco will also go up. In 2014 spirits price will see a 39 percent increase, while tobacco products will see a rise of 31.5 percent. Beer lovers will suffer the most with a 42.5 percent rise.

The legislation also reduces the total number of personnel in law enforcement agencies. Almost 80,000 people will be dismissed in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Security Service, the Office of the State Guard, and the prosecutor’s office.

Reuters / Yuri Gripas

Reuters / Yuri Gripas

The International Monetary Fund has agreed to throw Ukraine’s sinking economy a lifeline provided the country adopts severe austerity measures. According to a preliminary agreement announced by the IMF, it would provide Kiev between $14 and $18 billion in loans over the next two years. Pending final approval by the IMF’s board, Ukraine could get their hands on the first installment as early as April.

“The mission has reached a staff-level agreement with the authorities of Ukraine on an economic reform program that can be supported by a two-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF,” the Fund said in a press release.

A successful deal with the IMF is expected to unleash further $10 billion in loans from other international partners, including the EU and the US. The World Bank is also considering the possibility of providing Ukraine with $1 to $3 billion. Canada, Japan and Poland are also contemplating financial aid.

“The financial support from the broader international community that the program will unlock amounts to US$27 billion over the next two years. Of this, assistance from the IMF will range between US$14-18 billion, with the precise amount to be determined once reforms are in place,” the IMF said.

In Washington, both the Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to provide a $1 billion loan guarantee aid to Ukraine. In addition the Senate bill includes $50 million for democracy building and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation.

“This significant support will help stabilise the economy and meet the needs of Ukrainian people over the long term because it provides the prospect for true growth,” US President Barack Obama said in Rome.

Despite the promised injection of cash into Ukraine, Nikolay Gueorguiev, IMF Mission Chief for Ukraine said that “Nonetheless, the economic outlook remains difficult, with the economy falling back into recession,” he said cited by Kyivpost. “With no current market access, large foreign debt repayments loom in 2014-2015.”

US Sanctions on Russia are Indirect Sanctions on the EU

March 27th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

European countries are toeing the US line on sanctions against Russia, but when it comes to the economy they say they don’t want those sanctions, Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, told RT.

RT: Obama said that the West is united against Russia, and that Russia could face further isolation. Angela Merkel, though, wants to deescalate the situation. The Czech parliament also voted against more sanctions. Why aren’t they all on the same page?

Michael Chossudovsky: This is a double-edged sword because the EU imports more than one-third of its gas and fuel from Russia. And consequently, if there are sanctions imposed on Russia, this will immediately backlash. In effect these are indirect sanctions on the EU, because the EU has no immediate alternative to those purchases of fuel and natural gas from the Russian Federation. The pressure for the imposition of sanctions is emanating from Washington – and the governments of the European countries may in fact toe the line at the diplomatic level. But when it comes to the economic and trade the answer is no, we don’t want those sanctions, because immediately it is going to penalize not the Russian people, but the people of the EU.

RT: What about the existing EU and US sanctions against certain Russian individuals? What economic effect do you think they could have?

MC: The sanctions are symbolic and in effect they are very arrogant in terms of conduct of diplomacy to target individuals within the Russian government – you can’t travel, your assets are frozen and so on. It is more of a harassment. It is not something which will impede the Russian state, a large country with a big economy to take action in that regard. It simply indicates the fact that Washington is somewhat desperate to find a solution.

Washington cannot implement meaningful sanctions as it would do with poor countries, maybe in Africa or Latin America, or maybe in Southeast Asia in the case of Myanmar. They can’t do it with Russia or China, because it simply does not work.

We have to bear in mind that the Western economies are very fragile, because on one the hand they depend on imports of energy. The West, taken together, the US, Canada and so on, their reserves of oil and natural gas are very small in relation to those of the Middle East and other energy-producing economies like Russia.

Now take the case of China. China is a major supplier of consumer goods to most of the Western countries. “Made in China” is everywhere in the shopping malls and department stores. And imagine if the sanctions are imposed on China for one reason or another. Well, China will say, no more “Made in China” commodities for the USA, which would immediately create havoc, at least in the immediate future, it would create havoc in the supply of consumer goods to millions of people.

RT: Russia’s no longer welcome to be a part of the G8. What does Moscow stand to lose from being excluded from that partnership?

MC: The G8 goes back to the days of Boris Yeltsin. The G7 was never a decision-making body. It was really a gathering of seven heads of government -heads of State and it was an opportunity to socialize. Some discussions were taking place but most of the communiqués were drafted in advance. And then Boris Yeltsin really asked the G7, “Well, I would also like to come,” and then they created the G8. In fact what they had was the G7 + 1 initially, and then it eventually evolved toward the G8.In the early days of the G8, Russia did not participate in the entire event. It came on the last two days, so to speak.

I don’t see this as a meaningful gesture. I think it is idiotic from a diplomatic point of view, because the G7/G8 offers an environment which is relaxed, where the US, European and Canadian heads of state heads of government could have established a dialogue with Russia, with president Putin at that venue with a view of resolving certain dimensions of this crisis. But they have chosen to cut the diplomatic dialogue and they are saying, “We don’t want to talk to you anymore.” The G7 was a place where you talk because nothing is decided in the G7/G8. It is an informal body of heads of government.

‘The Impact Cost IMF Assistance will be devastating for Ukraine’

RT: An aid package for Ukraine’s economy is advancing in the US Congress and Kiev’s talking to the IMF about loans too. Will that help be enough to save Ukraine’s devastated economy?

MC: We have to distinguish between different components of a bilateral aid package. The US State Department has money which it grants to Ukraine and so does USAID. There are two components of that so-called aid package. But ultimately at both the USAID and the State Department there is no actual accounting to where the money goes and to whom the money goes. So in fact this could go to NGOs, it could be channeled through the National Endowment for Democracy. It could go even to political parties or to individuals or to programs and it is in the nature of the bilateral relations. But I should mention that the aid which is promised by the West both in relation to the bilateral aid and the IMF loan, and in fact what happens is that governments will piggy back on to an IMF loan and they will provide additional funding with conditionality, but that loan of the IMF is fictitious. It is fictitious because Ukraine is heavily indebted and does not even have the ability of meeting its short-term debt obligations.

RT: Kiev could get over $20 billion worth of help from the US and the IMF soon, but what would that mean for Ukraine’s economy in the long run?

MC: The impacts on Ukraine’s economy right now are potentially devastating because the IMF is going to come in with very drastic reforms. Those reforms we know what they look like. There will be privatizations of state assets but also bankruptcy of private sector enterprises, possibly even breaking up some of the larger business conglomerates which are owned by the so-called oligarchs.

The IMF reforms will be devastating. They will have conditions in regard to curtailment of expenditures on social programs, curtailment of education. The reforms will trigger the collapse of the Ukrainian currency leading to inflation, increases to the cost of living. And bear in mind, this is the country which has already been impoverished as a result of IMF reforms going back to 1994 when the price of bread went up overnight 300 percent, and the price of transportation went up 900 percent. So we have an economy that is already crippled. Its agriculture has a tremendous potential but with these manipulations the likelihood is that assets as well as money will end up in the hands of Western companies.

RT: And ultimately, do you think Kiev’s government will be able to just avoid working with Russia altogether, and only do business with EU nations and the US.

MC: I think the answer to that question has to do with the nature of that government. That is not a real government. That government was installed following a coup d’etat led by extreme right groups and it also integrates within the government two neo-Nazi parties, Svoboda and the Right Sector which is now becoming a political party.

And key portfolios are held by members of these neo-Nazi groups.

So the question is, is it a real government or is it a proxy government which is obeying orders of Western creditors and Washington? Is it the government that can establish international relations with the international community or with Russia? I suspect it cannot. It is a government in crisis. We have to wait until the elections of May 25, if those elections are held, to see what would be the ultimate outcome, but I’m not particularly optimistic in that regard, because that government which is not a real government does not have the support for the people of Ukraine. It was brought into office as a result of riots and the storming of the parliament and it is supported by the West and that is fairly well understood. And I think what the Ukrainian people now need is a government which is sovereign and which can make choices to restore the bilateral relations with Russia and the EU, but not under the fist of conditionalities which are imposed by Washington and the IMF.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

On March 27, Ukraine’s interim coalition government announced concrete policy measures as part of its agreement with the IMF: a 50 percent increase of the retail price of gas coupled with the deregulation of the foreign exchange market.

The hike in gas prices is required by the IMF as part of  an 18 Billion dollar pledge, which was approved on March 27. The IMF has demanded that retail gas and heating tariffs be raised “to full cost recovery.”

It is worth recalling that following the instatement of a coalition government on February 23,  the interim (puppet) prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk casually dismissed the need to negotiate with the IMF. 

Yatsenyk intimated that Ukraine will “accept whatever offer the IMF and the EU made” (voice of russia.com March 21, 2014)

Prior to the conduct of negotiations pertaining to a draft agreement, Yatsenyuk had already called for an unconditional acceptance of the IMF package: “We have no other choice but to accept the IMF offer”.

In surrendering to the IMF, Yatsenyuk was fully aware that the proposed reforms would brutally impoverish millions of people, including those who protested in Maidan.

In an address to Parliament on March 27, following the confirmation of the IMF’s pledged $18 billion loan, prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned that Ukraine was “on the brink of the economic and financial bankruptcy”.

The proposed “‘solution” includes a significant increase in income taxes, a freeze on wages, curtailment of old age pensions and higher energy prices. “We have no choice but to tell Ukraine the truth,” said Yatsenyuk.

State energy company Naftogaz announced this week that household gas prices would rise 50 percent beginning May 1 in what it said was part of efforts to make utility costs economically viable for the state by 2018. Some analysts have estimated prices might have to double for consumers.

The first increase in the price of gas is scheduled to take place in early May, a few weeks prior to the May 25 elections.
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The May 2014 increase in the retail price of gas is part of a phasing out of government subsidies over a period of 4 years demanded by the IMF as part of the loan agreement.
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The increase in fuel and transportation prices will inflate costs of production. Combined with the impact of the devaluation of the hryvnia, it will have an immediate impact on the retail prices of essential commodities.  Moreover, the phasing out of subsidies on basic food staples is also contemplated as part of the IMF framework.

If adopted, the IMF package will trigger a significant overall increase in the prices of essential consumer goods, thereby contributing to the impoverishment of a population which has already been impoverished.

Under the Yanukoych government, Ukraine purchased more than half its natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom at 30 percent below its market value as part of a bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation. In addion to IMF guidelines, the repeal of this agreement will have an immediate on the retail price of gas. And in all likelihood, the real price of fuel and transportation will increase by more than the 50 percent target demanded under the IMF agreement.

Deregulation of the Forex Market: Collapse of the hryvnia

The IMF package is also conditional upon the of deregulation of the foreign exchange market and the lifting of government controls on forex transactions and capital movements. The IMF has demanded that the Central Bank put an end to its “support” of Ukraine’s national currency the Hryvnia.

Under present conditions, a deregulated forex market based on  “enhanced exchange rate flexibility” will open the door to a highly profitable speculative trade in the currency markets, which will contribute to exacerbating the countries indebtedness, while pushing the hryvnia to the floor.

Given the virtual absence of central bank reserves, this decline of the hryvnia could even occur prior to the implementation of the IMF program.

Devastating Social Impact

The adoption of an IMF loan agreement is required as a precondition for the release of bilateral financial support from the EU and US. The

EU has confirmed financial support of the order of 1.6 billion euro.

In apparent liaison with the IMF, the US Congress has approved a bill to aid Ukraine. The Congressional decision was also announced on March 27.

A $1 billion in loan guarantees is granted “to help stabilize Ukraine’s economy” [aka impoverish]. The bill would also authorize “assistance for democracy, governance and civil society programs” [aka support to ultra right wing groups] and “enhanced security cooperation”. The latter would imply channeling financial support to the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU) which is headed by Andriy Parubi, co-founder of the Neo-Nazi  Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda). The National Guard, which constitutes a civilian militia is under the helm of Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector, which is also supported  by Washington.

In a bitter irony, without acknowledging the central role of Neo-Nazi appointees in the coalition government, the US Congressional initiative calls for measures directed against: 

“those who are responsible for human rights abuses against anti-government protesters [former government of Yanukovych] and those responsible for undermining the peace and sovereignty of the Ukraine. (Fox New, March 27, 2014, emphasis added)

Debt Repayment

It should be understood that the IMF money will not enter the country. It is earmarked for the reimbursement of Ukraine’s short term debt. It’s fictitious money.

The combined impact of  currency devaluation and  the removal of fuel subsidies will trigger inflation. The austerity measures will enforce a freeze in nominal wages, leading to a collapse in real earnings.

View image on TwitterThe IMF pledge was announced on March 27.  the 27 of March, coinciding with a neo-Nazi Right Sector assault of the Parliament building, demanding the resignation of the Minister of the Interior.

The protesters threaten to break into the parliament if their demands are not met, journalists report from the scene. The Rada’s security has concentrated in front of the entrance to the building and prepared water cannons, urging the journalists inside not to approach the windows looking onto the Constitution Square.(RT, March 27, 2014)

On March 28, the Ukrainian parliament adopted legislation which was “proposed by the IMF to secure an international financial aid package”.

It took two readings of the bill for 246 MPs out of 321 registered to approve the austerity measures outlined in the legislation dubbed “On prevention of financial catastrophe and creation of prerequisites for economic growth.”

Ahead of the vote, Ukrainian self-imposed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk told the Parliament that it had “no other choice but to accept the IMF offer,” as country fiscal gap in 2014 is projected to reach $26 billion. Ukraine’s Finance Ministry says it needs $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default.

“The country is on the edge of economic and financial bankruptcy,” Yatsenyuk said. “This package of laws is very unpopular, very difficult, very tough. Reforms that should have been done in the past 20 years.” (RT,  March 28, 2014)

Contrary to Yatsenyuk’s statement, there is continuity with a track record of IMF-World Bank reforms imposed on Ukraine since the collapse of the USSR.

The Ukrainian people should understand that this agreement reached with the IMF will have devastating social implications.  This government integrated by Neo-Nazis has betrayed the people of Ukraine.

It is not acting on behalf of the people of Ukraine, it is obeying orders emanating from Washington and Brussels. The IMF economic package is an act of economic warfare. Its acceptance by the self proclaimed government is an act of treason.

(Article updated, March 28, 12.oo GMT)

Related Article. Indepth analysis

Regime Change in Ukraine and the IMF’s Bitter “Economic Medicine” By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, March 24, 2014